Maia Atlantis: Ancient World Blogs

Tom Elliott (

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November 25, 2017

Laura Gibbs (Bestiaria Latina Blog)

Latin Proverbs and Fables Round-Up: November 25

Here is a round-up of today's proverbs and fables - and for previous posts, check out the Bestiaria Latina Blog archives. You can keep up with the latest posts by using the RSS feed, or you might prefer to subscribe by email.

Comenius. Last week, I got a note from Chris Huff who is reviving the old Comenius Latin dictionary project; if you are interested, get in touch with him via his blog: Chuff Blog Comenius Project.

HODIE (Roman Calendar): ante diem septimum Kalendas Decembres.

MYTHS and LEGENDS: The art image for today's legend shows Heracles and the Lion, and there are more images here.


TINY PROVERBS: Today's tiny proverb is: Cicatrix manet (English: The scar remains).

PUBLILIUS SYRUS: Today's proverb from Publilius Syrus is: Lex universa est, quae iubet nasci et mori (English: It is a universal law which bids us to be born and to die).

PROPER NAME PROVERBS: Today's proper name proverb from Erasmus is Croesi pecuniae teruncium addit (English: He's adding a penny to the wealth of Croesus... which is to say: he is not making any difference at all, given that Croesus was proverbially wealthy; from Adagia 4.10.48; more about Croesus, and here is a gold coin of Croesus, circa 550 BCE):

ELIZABETHAN PROVERBS: Here is today's proverb commentary, this time by Taverner: Sui cuique mores fingunt fortunam: A mans owne maners doe shape him his fortune. Men commonlie when anie adversitie chaunce, accuse, or when they see other men to prospere well in theyr matters, they say it is theyr fortune. So they ley all together upon fortune, thinking there is such a thing called fortune that ruleth all. But surely they are highlie deceived. It is their owne maners, their own qualities, touches, condicions, and procedinges that shape them this fortune, that is to say, that cause them, eyther to be sette forwarde or backeward, either to prospere or not to prospere.

BREVISSIMA: The distich poster for today is Si Quis Loquatur. Click here for a full-sized view.

And here are today's proverbial LOLcats:

Alit lectio ingenium.
Reading nourishes talent.

Qui dormit, non peccat.
He who sleeps does not sin.


MILLE FABULAE: The English translation for today from the Mille Fabulae et Una book is Leaena et Ursa, a story about hypocrisy and eating habits.

PHAEDRI FABULAE: The illustrated fable from Phaedrus for today is Lupus et grus, a story about how doing favors for scoundrels: Latin text and Smart's translation.

STEINHOWEL: The illustrated fable from Steinhowel for today is de duobus canibus, another story about how no good deed goes unpunished: Latin text and English versions.

November 24, 2017

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Preisendanz, Papyri Graecae Magicae

Preisendanz,  Papyri Graecae Magicae

The first two volumes of Papyri Graecae Magicae have been made available in scans by the Research Archives of the Oriental Institute, Chicago:
The third volume - the indexes to the first to volumes was completed and prepared for printing by Teubner in 1941/2. At some point during the war the plates were destroyed but a few sets of proofs survived. One of those sets is in the Papyrologisch Instituut Leiden ad has now been scanned and made widely available:

ArcheoNet BE

40 jaar archeologische dienst Brugge: Raakvlak lanceert nieuwe website

Precies 40 jaar geleden, op 24 november 1977, stelde het Brugse stadsbestuur Hubert De Witte aan als archeoloog. Sindsdien brachten talloze opgravingen en tentoonstellingen de rijke geschiedenis van de stad tot bij de burger. De archeologische dienst is intussen geëvolueerd tot Raakvlak Intergemeentelijke Onroerenderfgoeddienst Brugge en Ommeland. Ter gelegenheid van het 40-jarig bestaan lanceerde Raakvlak vandaag een nieuwe website, die de resultaten van al het onderzoek toegankelijk maakt en de archeologische collectie ontsluit.

Surf dus zeker eens naar!

The Heroic Age

The Associazione per l’Informatica Umanistica e le Culture Digitali (AIUCD, Italian Association for Digital Humanities  and Digital Cultures) is pleased to announce the seventh edition of its annual conference. Registration to the conference is open through Conftool at

The AIUCD2018 Conference will take place from January 31th to February 2nd in Bari, Italy, and it is organized by Università di Bari "Aldo Moro" (Piazza Cesare Battisti, 1, 70121 Bari),

The main topic of AIUCD2018 is Cultural Heritage in the Digital Age. Memory, Humanities and Technologies. Keynote speakers: Prof. Paola Buzi (Università di Roma Sapienza); Prof. Riccardo Pozzo (Università di Verona).
For more details on registration fees, organization and local infos, please visit the Conference website or send an email to

NB. For fiscal and legal reasons the registration to the conference includes the annual membership to AIUCD and to EADH (AIUCD is EADH Associated Partner).

Roberto Rosselli Del Turco   roberto.rossellidelturco at
Dip. di Studi Umanistici     roberto.rossellidelturco at
Universita' di Torino        VBD:
EVT:   VC:        

Société Internationale des Amis de Cicéron (Tulliana News)

SIAC Newsletter 145 (22/2017)

Les noms des membres de la SIAC sont en gras. – I nomi dei membri della SIAC sono in grassetto. – Names of SIAC members are written with bold characters.



– Nous avons le plaisir d’annoncer que Mme Federica Rossetti a été retenue pour la bourse de recherche sur La fortune de Sénèque et du stoïcisme romain du Moyen-Âge au XVIIIe siècle, financée par l’Association culturelle L’Italia Fenice, avec la collaboration scientifique de la Société Internationale des Amis de Cicéron comme partenaire et garant scientifique. LIEN

Abbiamo il piacere di annunciare che Federica Rossetti è la vincitrice della borsa di ricerca su La fortuna di Seneca e dello Stoicismo romano dal Medioevo al XVIII secolo, finanziata dall’Associazione culturale L’Italia Fenice, con la collaborazione della Société Internationale des Amis de Cicéron come partner e garante scientifico. LINK

We have the pleasure of announcing that Federica Rossetti has been awarded the grant for research on The fortunes of Seneca and Roman Stoicism from the Middle Ages to the 18th century, financed by Cultural Association L’Italia Fenice, in collaboration with the International Society of Cicero’s Friends as partner and guarantor of scholarly quality. LINK



– Coffee, Neil, Gift and Gain: How Money Transformed Ancient Rome, New York, Oxford University Press, 2017 (Chap. 8: Cicero between Justice and Expediency). LINK

– Elice, Martina, Per la storia di ‘humanitas’ nella letteratura latina fino alla prima età imperiale, in Lucio Cristante (a cura di), Incontri di Filologia Classica, XV (2015-2016), Trieste, EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2017, 253-295. LINK

– Gilardeau, Eric, Cicéron, père de la codification du droit civil, Paris, L’Harmattan, 2017. LIEN

–  Kenty, Joanna, Altera Roma: Livy’s Variations on a Ciceronian Theme, “Illinois Classical Studies”, 42, 1, 2017, 61-81. LINK

– Khrustalyov, Vyacheslav, Образ египетского царя Птолемея XII Авлета в речах Цицерона (Das Bild des ägyptischen Königs Ptolemaios XII. Auletes in den Reden Ciceros), “Vestnik drevney istorii”, 77, 1, 2017, 91-105. LINK

– Kremmydas, Christos & Powell, Jonathan & Rubinstein, Lene (eds.), Profession and Performance: Aspects of oratory in the Greco-Roman World, London, Institute of Classical Studies, 2017 [first published in 2013]. LINK

– Kuhn, Christina T., The Castricii in Cicero: Some Observations on Pro Flacc. 75, “Museum Helveticum”, 74, 2017, 6-18. LINK

– Junghanß, Antje, Zur Bedeutung von Wohltaten für das Gedeihen von Gemeinschaft. Cicero, Seneca und Laktanz über “beneficia”, Stuttgart, Franz Steiner Verlag, 2017. LINK

Scatolin, Adriano, Cícero, Do orador 1.166-203, “Calíope. Presença Clássica”, 34, 1, 2017, 4-28. LINK

– Valette-Cagnac, Emmanuelle, Cura ut valeas. Santé et épistolarité dans la correspondance de Cicéron, “Mètis”, N.S. 15, 2017, 21-56. LIEN


– The Department of Classics and Ancient History at Durham will host the 10th Cicero Awayday, which will be held on Wednesday, 23 May 2018. The biennial Cicero Awaydays offer an informal and friendly forum for presenting papers on any aspect of Cicero’s life, works and reception.  The organisers aim to have papers covering a range of Ciceronian genres, and inter-generic submissions are also welcome.  Works in progress and fully polished papers are both welcome.  Interested scholars (or qualified, advanced PhD students) are invited to submit paper proposals.  Papers should be no longer than 30 minutes in length; shorter papers are also welcome. Please send your title, abstract (of at most 300 words), name, and affiliation to Nathan Gilbert ( by 15 February, 2018.



Colotte, Frank, rev. of Ermanno Malaspina, L. Annaeus Seneca, De Clementia, Bibliotheca Scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana, Berlin, De Gruyter, 2016, “Bryn Mawr Classical Review”, 2017.11.27. LINK

– Lana, Maurizio & Raffaella Afferni, Alice Borgna, Timothy Tambassi, “…but what should I put in a digital apparatus?” A not-so-obvious choice, in P. Boot, A. Cappellotto, W. Dillen, F. Fischer, A. Kelly, A. Mertgens, A.-M. Sichani, E. Spadini, D. van Hulle (eds), Advances in Digital Scholarly Editing, Leiden, Sidestone Press, 2017. LINK

Pierini, Rita, rev. of Boris Kayachev, Allusion and Allegory: Studies in the ‘Ciris’, Berlin & Boston, De Gruyter, 2016, “Bryn Mawr Classical Review”, 2017.11.18. LINK


– IV Seminario nazionale per dottorandi e dottori di ricerca in studi latini, Roma, I dicembre 2017. Elisa della Calce (Università di Torino), La ‘clemenza’ negli Ab Urbe Condita libri: dalla percezione liviana del concetto alle intersezioni con l’ideologia augustea; Matteo Rossetti (Università di Milano), Gli Aratea di Manilio: la catena dei segni zodiacali (1, 263-274). LINK

– Convegno Da Ponte a Mozart, Vittorio Veneto, 1-2 dicembre 2017. Ermanno Malaspina (Università di Torino), Il latino di Da Ponte. LINK

– Colloque international Les études philoniennes : regard sur cinquante ans de recherche (1967-2017), Paris, 13-14 décembre 2017. Carlos Lévy (Université de Paris-Sorbonne), Philon et la dialectique ? Constantes et innovations. LIEN

[Last updated on November 24th, 2017.]

Filed under: Newsletter

ArcheoNet BE

Vlaamse regering keurt aanpassing Onroerenderfgoeddecreet goed

Vandaag keurde de Vlaamse regering de voorgestelde aanpassingen aan het Onroerenderfgoeddecreet principieel goed. “Op basis van een evaluatie van de effecten van het decreet op het terrein, werd een conceptnota opgesteld die enkele aanpassingen aan de regelgeving voorstelde om knelpunten weg te werken,” aldus Vlaams minister Geert Bourgeois. “Deze nieuwe maatregelen zijn nu in de wetgeving omgezet om procedures te vereenvoudigen en te versnellen en de kostprijs voor de burger te verkleinen.”

De belangrijkste wijzigingen zijn:

– Er komt een premie voor verplicht uit te voeren archeologisch vooronderzoek met ingreep in de bodem.
– De berekening van de premie voor buitensporige opgravingskosten wordt verhoogd tot 80 % (i.p.v. de huidige 40 %)
– Het invoeren van twee types erkende archeologen, naargelang het gaat om archeologisch (voor)onderzoek zonder ingreep in de bodem en archeologisch (voor)onderzoek met ingreep in de bodem. Door deze wijziging zullen er dus meer archeologen in aanmerking komen voor een erkenning.
– De bekrachtiging van archeologienota’s door het agentschap wordt vervangen door een meldingsplicht.
– Het aantal vrijstellingen van archeologisch vooronderzoek wordt uitgebreid.
– Voor de opmaak van een archeologienota zijn de oppervlaktecriteria buiten archeologische zones gewijzigd: voor de aanvraag van een stedenbouwkundige vergunning, omgevingsvergunning of verkavelingsvergunning is geen vooronderzoek nodig bij percelen die kleiner zijn dan 5.000 m² (i.p.v. 3.000 m² vroeger).
– De premiepercentages worden vereenvoudigd waarbij de lat voor iedereen gelijk wordt gelegd met een basispercentage van 40 %.
– Om het draagvlak voor beschermingen nog te vergroten zal in de toekomst voorafgaand aan een voorlopige bescherming ook al het advies van de eigenaar ingewonnen worden, naast dit van het betrokken gemeentebestuur, van verschillende departementen of agentschappen van de Vlaamse overheid en van de Vlaamse Commissie voor Onroerend Erfgoed.
– Om de planlast te verminderen zal een goedgekeurd beheersplan enkel nog verplicht zijn bij premieaanvragen voor werelderfgoederen, beschermde stads- en dorpsgezichten, landschappen en archeologische sites, alsook voor meerjarige subsidieovereenkomsten.

Over dit voorontwerp van wijzigingsdecreet wordt het advies ingewonnen van de SARO.

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Newly added to Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis Online

Newly added to Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis Online

The Oxford Roman Economy Project

[First posted on AWOL 26 November 2012, updated 24 November 2017]

The Oxford Roman Economy Project
The Oxford Roman Economy Project is a research project based in the Faculty of Classics, at the University of Oxford. The project, lead by Prof. Alan Bowman and Prof. Andrew Wilson, was originally funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council for the period from October 2005 to end September 2010, but additional funding through the generosity of Baron Lorne Thyssen now allows it to continue.
The Oxford Roman Economy Project currently consists of:
  1. A research programme on the Roman Economy which includes the development and maintenance of an online database of documentary and archaeological material, the organisation of conferences, seminars and occasional lectures, and the publication of research. The original focus on quantification is now expanded with the aim of also exploring vital parts of ancient life which have not hitherto been much considered in economic terms (e.g. the production and collecting of art; the economics of ancient religion).
  2. A looser constellation of graduate students and visiting researchers who are using material from and contributing material to the project’s website and conferences.
  3. A series, Oxford Studies in the Roman Economy, published by Oxford University Press.
The research programme addresses the fundamentals of the Roman imperial economy and analyses all major economic activities (including agriculture, trade, commerce, and extraction), utilising quantifiable bodies of archaeological and documentary evidence and placing them in the broader structural context of regional variation, distribution, size and nature of markets, supply and demand. The project studies the economy of the Roman world between the Republican period and Late Antiquity, with a particular focus on the period between 100 BC and AD 350, including the era of greatest imperial expansion and economic growth (to c. AD 200), followed by a century conventionally perceived as one of contraction or decline, and then something of a revival under the Tetrarchy and Constantine. Geographically, the project draws on material selected from all over the Mediterranean world. 
The large amounts of data that are studied during the project, which mostly already have been published in some form or another, are stored and organized in a large database, which is currently being made accessible online to the wider scholarly community through this website.
An integral part of the project is a series of conferences addressing particular aspects of the economy, such as urbanization (2007), agriculture (2008), trade (2009), metals, mining and coinage (2010), the economics of Roman art (2011), and urban economic life in preindustrial Europe and the Mediterranean (2012).

Follow the Pots

Follow the Pots
The ‘Follow the Pots’ research program explores two interconnected sides of an archaeological looting story: the conventional archaeological investigation of the emergence of prehistoric urbanism and increasing social complexity in the Early Bronze Age of the southern Levant, and the multiple and contested values of this archaeological heritage to multiple stakeholders today.
What this means is that we study how archaeologists, people living in the southern Ghor, looters, middlemen, museum administrators, government officials, antiquities dealers, and collectors think about, acquire, and use pots and other grave goods from the Early Bronze Age (EBA) cemeteries of Fifa, Bab adh-Dhra` and en-Naqa/es-Safi.
Follow the Pots (FTP) emerges from several years of archaeological fieldwork and analysis by Chesson and Kersel, and more broadly the Expedition to the Dead Sea Plain. In this examination of the social lives of archaeological objects, the artifacts have at least two lives as
(1) as grave goods in 5,000 year old tombs; and
(2) as looted and excavated artifacts in the present, where they are launched on new lives as museum pieces, tourist trinkets, and archaeologically studied objects.
FTP arises from our realization that only by integrating ethnography and archaeology can we hope to produce a holistic and cohesive story about the use and reuse of these EBA materials.
Directors: Drs. Morag M. Kersel (Dept. of Anthropology, DePaul University) and Meredith S. Chesson (Dept. of Anthropology, University of Notre Dame) with much-appreciated support and guidance from Dr. R. Thomas Schaub (EDSP, Emeritus Indiana University of Pennsylvania)

Bill Caraher (The New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World)

Friday Quick Hits and Varia

It’s a long weekend here in North Dakotaland punctuated by food, sport, and the spectacle of American consumerism. So far the food has been better than the sport with Australia slinking to 165/4 in the first test of the Ashes, but it’s only day two and the captain is at the crease. Plus, my second favorite NFL team managed to win on Thanksgiving (whoever is playing the Cowboys) and I’m guardedly optimistic that Ohio State can win The Game on Saturday. 

Whatever happens, the weekend is always a nice way to set up for the grading, paper writing, and frantic fire-fighting at the end of fall semester. So I hope you have time to enjoy a little gaggle of quick hits and varia:

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Archaeological News on Tumblr

Hellenic-era block, New Kingdom axes discovered in Egypt's Aswan

During excavation work at the north-eastern area of Aswan’s Komombo temple as part of a...

Jim Davila (

Karaite and ancient sectarian halakhah

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Morris, Warding Off Evil

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Archaeological News on Tumblr

Mixing the ancient and the new—preserving rock art at the touch of a button

Some of the world’s most ancient art could be protected with a new app designed by Newcastle...

Jim Davila (

Jacob, Leah, and Rachel

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More on the Tyndale House NT

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ArcheoNet BE

Doelse Koggen verhuizen naar nieuwe conservatieloodsen

De verhuisbeweging van de Doelse Koggen naar een nieuwe conservatieruimte verloopt succesvol. Dat meldt Vlaams minister Geert Bourgeois. Op dit ogenblik is de verhuisbeweging aan de gang. De 21 conservatiebassins zijn al overgebracht van de voormalige Suezloods naar twee kleinere loodsen aan de Antwerpse droogdokken. Binnenkort kan de actieve conservatie van de koggen van start gaan.

De Doelse Koggen zijn twee middeleeuwse schepen die zijn aangetroffen bij het uitgraven van het Deurganckdok in 2000 en 2002 in Doel nabij Antwerpen. Het agentschap Onroerend Erfgoed voerde onderzoek uit op de houten fragmenten en is verantwoordelijk voor de conservatiebehandeling. Op de nieuwe locatie waren een aantal aanpassingen noodzakelijk om de behandeling te kunnen verderzetten. Zo werd een nieuwe vloeistofvaste vloer gegoten en een nieuw dak geplaatst. Zodra alles in orde is gebracht, kan de actieve conservatie van start gaan.

De actieve conservatie is opgesplitst in twee grote fasen. In de eerste fase zullen zoveel mogelijk ijzerionen uit het hout onttrokken worden. Dit ijzer is een overblijfsel van de nagels, sintels en andere verbindingselementen die gebruikt zijn tijdens de bouw van het schip. Tijdens de tweede fase wordt het archeologische hout geïmpregneerd met Polyethyeleenglycol 2000 (PEG 2000). Dit petroleumderivaat vervangt het water in de houtcellen. Zodra een concentratie van 85% PEG 2000 is bereikt, zal de actieve conservatiebehandeling worden beëindigd.

Vervolgens zal de reconstructie- en droogfase ingezet worden. De geconserveerde houtfragmenten zullen worden overgebracht naar het nieuwe museumgebouw waar het schip zal worden gereconstrueerd. Het nieuwe maritiem museum op de Antwerpse droogdokkensite moet een ware ontmoetings-en ontdekkingsplek worden waar maritiem erfgoed een centrale plek krijgt.

IOED Voorkempen zoekt expert onroerend erfgoed

De intergemeentelijke onroerend-erfgoeddienst (IOED) Voorkempen is momenteel op zoek naar een expert onroerend erfgoed (m/v) om het team te versterken. Het werkingsgebied van de IOED omvat de gemeenten Wuustwezel, Essen, Kalmthout, Wijnegem, Wommelgem, Kapellen, Zoersel, Ranst en Schilde. Kandidaten beschikken over expertise rond bouwkundig erfgoed, en hebben affiniteit met archeologie. Solliciteren voor deze voltijdse functie van onbepaalde duur kan nog tot 14 december. Je vindt de volledige vacature op

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

5 Easy Steps to Reading the Bible Literally

I’ve shared a number of these kinds of memes and infographics before, and so I thought that it was worth adding this one to the collection. This one is interesting because, without saying so explicitly, it nonetheless leads the reader to the conclusion that biblical literalism is an impossibility. It is impossible to know the […]

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Joan Howard Collection 'under investigation'?

Australia is investigating allegations that Joan Howard stole collectable artefacts from archaeological sites during her husband’s diplomatic trips (Australian Associated Press, ''Indiana Joan': Perth woman, 95, accused of looting Egypt artefacts' Guardian Friday 24 November 2017)
The Australian government has confirmed it is looking into the case of a 95-year-old Perth woman accused of looting artefacts from countries including Egypt. Monica Hanna of Egypt’s Heritage Taskforce posted an open letter to Australia’s ambassador to Egypt, Neil Hawkins [...]  Hanna said Howard had taken advantage of her diplomatic status and her behaviour was “not acceptable”. [...]  The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was investigating the matter and was obliged under Unesco conventions to return foreign cultural items that had been illegally exported from their country of origin.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Mrs Howard's digs were not authorised by any educational institution, nor given permission from Egyptian or other Arab authorities. The Howard family has declined to comment on the case.

Compitum - publications

A. Wilson et A. Bowman (éd.), Trade, Commerce, and the State in the Roman World


Andrew Wilson et Alan Bowman (éd.), Trade, Commerce, and the State in the Roman World, Oxford-New York, 2017.

Éditeur : Oxford University Press
Collection : Oxford Studies on the Roman Economy
688 pages
ISBN : 9780198790662
110 £

This volume presents eighteen papers by leading Roman historians and archaeologists discussing trade in the Roman Empire during the period c.100 BC to AD 350. It focuses especially on the role of the Roman state in shaping the institutional framework for trade within and outside the empire, in taxing that trade, and in intervening in the markets to ensure the supply of particular commodities, especially for the city of Rome and for the army.
As part of a novel interdisciplinary approach to the subject, the chapters address its myriad facets on the basis of broadly different sources of evidence: historical, papyrological, and archaeological. They are grouped into three sections, covering institutional factors (taxation, legal structures, market regulation, financial institutions); evidence for long-distance trade within the empire in wood, stone, glass, and pottery; and trade beyond the frontiers, with the east (as far as China), India, Arabia, the Red Sea, and the Sahara. Rome's external trade with realms to the east emerges as being of particular significance, but it is in the eastern part of the empire itself where the state appears to have adapted the mechanisms of taxation in collaboration with the elite holders of wealth to support its need for revenue. On the other hand, the price of that collaboration, which was in effect a fiscal partnership, ultimately led in the longer term in slightly different forms in the east and the west to a fundamental change in the political character of the empire.

Lire la suite...

The Archaeological Review

Worlds of Forgeries

The painting of the lady above was once believed to be by Goya but when studied further it was found to be not by the artist but rather an 18th-century portrait of a woman that was painted over with materials not available till after Goya's death. Restorers of the painting decided the painting should be left in its current state with both portraits showing.

Many factors play a part in the art and antiquities marketplace including fakes and forgeries. In articles I have published on occasion I have referred to a museums piece as a forgery or fake it is never a personal thing but an inevitability of collecting, seeing whats not there and what should not be.

As a collector of art myself every once in a while I, unfortunately, add a fake to my collections and hopefully discover which are which before too much embarrassment. Inevitably the object which looked so hopeful in the store/gallery comes home and is placed in a place of pride to be admired by myself and my guests but what happens on occasion is that it is not until I walk by it a number of times that my original thrill begins to wear and those things which are not right begin to stand out and gnaw at me and my original judgment of the piece.

 No museum/gallery or personal collector can escape this fact of the life in an open collection.

In recent years the Bolton Museum in the U.K. bought a forged statuette of an Egyptian Amarna princess for more than L400 000, while the J. Paul Getty Museum spent millions on a fake kouros. Where there is money to be made there will always be someone there to make it though even more insidious are those scholars who create fakes to make others look bad including Piltdown man.

The late Thomas Hoving on forgeries.

True when one finds out there piece is a forgery you better believe it's dead, and how fast can I get rid of it.  This is one thing in a work of art but much harder to ferreted out when it is a document posing as historical.

In the Salamander letter Joseph Smith the founder of Mormonism has a seer stone in which he sees the golden bible but when he goes to dig it up a Salamander appears and will not let Joseph take the bible until he shows up with his brother Alvin, who unfortunately is dead and buried. There is a rumor that Joseph Smith and his family dug up Alvin to use his remains in a ceremony.

The letter along with many other anti-Mormon documents was created by a forger in an attempt to discredit Joseph Smith and the Church of Latter Day Saints, and he earned big money on a number of his many creations of which some may still be out there perverting history.

Excellent show from the Detroit Institute of Arts on fakes and forgeries I recommend all six episodes:


I have also come across the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology on forgeries in their Egyptian collection. I also found this site on fake Egyptian antiquities. Of note must be the auction prices for the real work and the fake pieces.

Here is a fine list of antiquities auctions from recent years including prices realized. This site has an excellent overview of forgeries.

November 23, 2017

David Gill (Looting Matters)

Lucius Verus said to be from Bubon

Portrait of Lucius Verus, 160 - 170 A.D., Bronze
36 × 23 × 28 cm (14 3/16 × 9 1/16 × 11 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
I am reviewing some long-standing claims of cultural property. Among them is the head from a bronze portrait of Lucius Verus. This is said to be from the Sebasteion at Bubon in Turkey.

It surfaced on the London market in the summer of 1970 after being restored by Peter Smith and Anna Plowden (Bernard Weinraub, "Squashed Bust of an Emperor Restored by 2 Young Britons", New York Times 7 June 1970). A representative of Spink & Son suggested that the head had been "excavated in Eastern Europe, probably Hungary, after World War II".

Yet by 1981 Jiri Frel could claim that the head was "said to be from Bubon" (Roman Portraits, no. 62; inv. 73.AB.100). This reflected the research of Jale Inan and Cornelius C. Vermeule. Carol Mattusch in 1996 noted, "Reported to be from Ibecik (ancient Bubon in Lycia), Turkey."

The head was acquired by the J. Paul Getty Museum subsequent to the 1970 UNESCO Convention. Will the museum be returning the head to Turkey along with associated pieces?

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Treasure Finds and metal-detecting

© David Gill
Ian Richardson has commented on his favourite Treasure Finds (Laurence Cawley, "Treasure finds in England top 1,000 for first time", BBC News 23 November 2017). This coincides with the number of Treasure Finds passing the 1,000 mark for the third year in a row. (See statistical summary here.)

Norfolk and Suffolk top the list with 211 finds. Julie Shoemark, the finds liaison officer for Norfolk, commented that "the rising number of reported treasure finds corresponded to a growth in the numbers of metal detecting clubs."

There is no comment from Richardson on the scale of the lost or damaged archaeological contexts represented by the 1,120 Treasure Finds.

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Thibaut Castelli (Spartokos a Lu)

La civilisation antique et les barbares de la région du nord de la mer Noire (3e quart du Ier siècle av. n. è. – 3e quart du IVe siècle ap. n. è.)

Jarcev, S. Vl. (2016) : Античная цивилизация и варвары Северного Причерноморья в условиях этнических миграций (3-я четверть I в. до н. э. – 3-я четверть IV в. н. э.) / Antichnaja civilizacija i varvary Severnogo Prichernomor’ja v uslovijah jetnicheskih migracij (3-ja … Lire la suite

ArcheoNet BE

Antwerpse archeologen speuren naar fort Piémontel en Noordkasteel

Archeologen van de stad Antwerpen speuren sinds deze week naar restanten van het Noordkasteel en het oudere fort Piémontel. Het archeologisch vooronderzoek, dat twee maanden zal duren, vormt een voorbereiding op de bouw van de Scheldetunnel en het Oosterweelknooppunt op deze locatie.

Het archeologisch onderzoek spitst zich enerzijds toe op het Noordkasteel, dat deel uitmaakte van de 19de-eeuwse Brialmontomwalling. Van het Noordkasteel zijn er bovengronds nog enkele resten zichtbaar, zoals een deel van de caponnière (overdekte uitbouw met schietgaten) en de wal.

Anderzijds wordt het oudere fort Piémontel onderzocht, dat tussen de Schelde en de huidige kerk van Oosterweel lag. Dit fort werd vernoemd naar don Emmanuel de Piémontel de Ferie, de gouverneur van het kasteel (citadel) van Antwerpen die in 1632 tijdens de Tachtigjarige oorlog de opdracht gaf om het fort te bouwen. Na 1782 werd het afgebroken door keizer Jozef II en werden de grachten gedempt.

African Archaeological Contributions to Understanding Rituals and Religion

De Onderzoekseenheid Archeologie van de KU Leuven organiseert op donderdag 30 november het tweede ‘Leuven Archaeological Research Seminar’ (LARS) van dit academiejaar. Prof. Tim Insoll (Univerity of Exeter) zal spreken over ‘African Archaeological Contributions to Understanding Rituals and Religion’. De lezing vindt plaats om 18u in lokaal 01.12 van het Monseigneur Sencie Instituut (Erasmusplein, Leuven). Alle geïnteresseerden zijn van harte welkom.

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Open Access Journal: Newsletter of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities

Newsletter of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities
Editor-in-Chief: Mennat-Allah El Dorry
Co-Editor: Maather Ibrahim Aboueich  
This web page is hosted by the Egyptologists' Electronic Forum

    José María Ciordia (Pompilo: diario esporádico de un profesor de griego)

    Bacca laureatus

    La etimología es un placer sin fondo: llevas 40 años estudiando latín o griego y de repente un día te sale al encuentro una etimología obvia en la que no habías caído. No por difícil, que generalmente no lo son, sino porque son tantas… miles sin exagerar un ápice (del latín apex ‘punta’, sin ir más lejos). Pues bien, esta es obvia y una delicia. Todo instituto debería tener plantado en su jardín un ejemplar de Laurus nobilis —de laurel, vamos, de la familia de las laureáceas de toda la vida—. Porque la corona de laurel era símbolo de victoria para los griegos —deportiva, literaria o militar— desde el día en que Apolo tocó a Dafne y esta se convirtió en árbol de laurel por una venganza de Eros:

    tu ducibus Latiis aderis, cum laeta Triumphum
    vox canet et visent longas Capitolia pompas;
    postibus Augustis eadem fidissima custos
    ante fores stabis mediamque tuebere quercum,
    utque meum intonsis caput est iuvenale capillis,
    tu quoque perpetuos semper gere frondis honores!

    Tú acompañarás a los caudillos del Lacio, cuando la voz jubilosa
    grite triunfo y el Capitolio presencie grandes cortejos.
    Guardián fidelísimo, permanecerás ante la puerta, en el umbral de Augusto,
    y protegerás la corona de hojas de roble que está en su centro;
    y lo mismo que mi cabeza es juvenil por los cabellos sin cortar,
    tú llevarás siempre como adorno hojas perennes.

    Ovidio, Metamorfosis I 560-565.

    De hecho a la puerta de mi aula crece un pequeño laurel, que alguien plantó sin saber qué oportuno era su gesto. Y la chispa etimológica saltó cuando, pensando en él, me di cuenta de que laureatus es el origen del término francés baccalauréat ‘bachiller’; y que bacca (más correctamente baca) es la palabra latina que significa ‘baya, fruto pequeño’. Así que el latín bacca laureatus significa ‘coronado de laurel con fruto’. El fruto debía suponer un honor añadido, como deja claro el adjetivo español «fructífero», que se dice del vegetal que cumple la que parece que es su función primera: dar fruto, como da fruto un estudiante que ha aprendido y sabe.

    Corona de laurel hecha en oro con bayas, probablemente de Chipre del siglo IV o III a. C.
    Andreas Praefcke: Corona de laurel con fruto, hecha en oro, probablemente de Chipre (siglos IV o III a. C.). Fuente: Wikipedia. Licencia: dominio público.

    Me toca explicárselo a los alumnos, que a buen seguro pasarán ahora junto al laurecillo, y lo mirarán, con el poco más de respeto con que se mira a cuanto tiene tras de sí una historia, más si esta es mitológica y tiene su punto misterioso. Y también a los compañeros de otras disciplinas, que de vez en cuando se embelesan con estas perlas de sabiduría que les soltamos nosotros los de lenguas, los que no servimos más que para vivir del aire, el sol, las nubes, el olor de tu piel, el modo callado en que tu cuerpo se detiene, y reanuda luego el paso vuelto casi ola… También podemos incorporar una corona hecha con dos ramitas de este laurel nuestro a la ceremonia de graduación de final de curso. Pero ¿le dolerá? Pobre.

    Tom Matrullo (Classics in Sarasota)

    Uno intendëa, e altro mi rispuose: Bernard in Par. 31

    Mankind is engaged in a continual conversation with tradition - Hans-Georg Gadamer.

    Part of the work of the Commedia lies in its interaction and conversation with prior texts. These range from Virgil's earliest works to the late Latin poets, through Old and New Testaments to the doctors of the Church, the works of saints like Francis of Assisi and Bernard of Clairvaux.

    To encounter a figure in Dante is to encounter the text of that figure, and a reading of that text. Bernard, as he takes up the mediating role of Beatrice, presents a vast spectrum of life and work. Late in Paradise he appears as one more human exemplar -- in this case, a man whose life encompassed action as well as contemplation. In both, his powers of persuasion were consequential. A few links below may be of use.

    Saint Bernard and the Duke of Aquitaine, by Marten Pepijn

    Bernard of Clairvaux

    The Archaeology News Network

    Third Roman temple in Silchester may have been part of Nero's vanity project

    A Roman temple uncovered in a Hampshire farmyard by University of Reading archaeologists may be the first building of its kind in Britain to be dated back to the reign of Emperor Nero. Aerial view of the temple site in Silchester [Credit: Dr Kevin White, University of Reading]The temple remains were found within the grounds of the Old Manor House in the Roman town at Silchester, along with rare tiles stamped with the name of the...

    [[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

    Batavia's mysteries unfold with discovery of mass grave

    An international team of archaeologists, including scientists from The University of Western Australia and the Western Australian Museum, has discovered a new communal grave in the Abrolhos Islands, the result of deaths after a shipwreck of the Dutch East India company ship Batavia. An international team of archaeologists has discovered a mass grave consisting of five full skeletons in the  Abrolhos Islands off WA, the...

    [[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

    Kristina Killgrove (Forbes)

    Ancient DNA Explains How Chickens Got To The Americas

    Why did the chicken cross the Pacific? To get to your Thanksgiving table!

    BiblePlaces Blog

    What I Am Thankful For

    The Bible places great emphasis on giving thanks, and the fourth Thursday in November provides Americans with a prominent reminder of our need to express gratitude. On the assumption that this applies even to photographers and bloggers, I thought I might take a few minutes to verbalize my appreciation for some of the many people in the “Bible places” world that I am thankful for.

    I’ll start with my teammates who are currently working with me at A.D. Riddle has been working with me for about 15 years, first in a voluntary way and then later as a travel companion, proofreader, map maker, and all-around problem-solver. Steven Anderson brings his exhaustive knowledge of the Bible to bear in his masterful development of the Photo Companion to the Bible. Chris McKinny is an OT history whiz, and I can’t wait until you see some of what he is creating in Joshua, Samuel, Kings, and elsewhere. Kaelyn Peay stepped in at the perfect time this summer to keep me from drowning in thousands of new photos. My son Mark is helping me in key (and keyword) ways, and my children Luke, Bethany, and Katie are tremendously helpful in a myriad of assignments. (And 7-year-old Jonathan makes sure I get the exercise breaks I need.)

    I’m thankful for fellow bloggers, including Ferrell Jenkins. He not only writes great posts and takes fantastic photos, he has encouraged me through his life and his words many times. James Davila has been blogging on PaleoJudaica forever, and he is a model to me of how faithful blogging should be done. Aren Maeir is my favorite archaeologist-blogger, and Charles Savelle is my favorite “all-around Bible” blogger. I always appreciate the posts by Luke Chandler, Mark Elliott, Carl Rasmussen, Leen Ritmeyer, and Wayne Stiles. Joseph Lauer doesn’t blog, but he regularly sends me great stories and warm encouragement.

    I couldn’t do what I do without some awesome teachers at some outstanding institutions, beginning with The Master’s University where I first studied and have now taught since 1996. The Institute of Holy Land Studies (now Jerusalem University College) gave me a love for the geography and archaeology of Israel, and I am especially grateful for the instruction of Gabriel Barkay, Ginger Caessens, Robert Mullins, and Anson Rainey. The Master’s Seminary and Dallas Theological Seminary trained me in ways you don’t see as much in the photo collections or on this blog, but that I depend upon every single day.

    The best years of my life were spent teaching at the Israel Bible Extension (IBEX) of TMU, and I cannot calculate my debt to Bill Schlegel, Randy Cook, Phyllis Cook, and Rebecca Bange. The kind folks at Yad HaShmonah were the best neighbors, and David Bivin and Gloria Suess have blessed me in many ways.

    I am thankful for the great people at the Associates for Biblical Research who are eagerly pursuing the truth in the ground. The longtime director, Bryant Wood, has long been one of my heroes, not only for his excellent scholarship but for his godly character. I first met Eugene Merrill on an ABR dig, and in the years since he has taught me more than I can say from his writings and example.

    Bible software makes so much of what I do possible, and Logos Bible Software has served me well since I first purchased it on floppy disks 20-some years ago. I am grateful too for Roy Brown and the outstanding Accordance team for their creative genius and servant attitudes.

    On the photography side of things, Nikon’s Coolpix 950 changed my life and I’ve been loyal to Nikon ever since for cameras, lenses, and scanners. Once upon a time, Google’s Picasa organized my photo collection, but in recent years I’ve become entirely dependent on the awesome Adobe Lightroom.

    This blog has been hosted since its inception in 2005 by Blogger, but I’ve been able to avoid the web interface by using Windows Live Writer until its replacement by Open Live Writer. These tools have made my life easier.

    I am very grateful to so those who have spurred me on in this work since 1999 when a group of seminary students started pressing me to make a photo collection. It was John Dix’s initial partnership and Dr. Richard Rigsby’s enthusiastic encouragement that breathed life into a fuzzy vision. Along the way, so many people have contributed in significant ways, including Bill Krewson, Seth Rodriquez, Doug Bookman, Wayne Wells, G. M. Grena, Doug Downer, Jim Weaver, Will Varner, Brad Hilton, Matt Floreen, David Niblack, Jenn Kintner, Jeremy Francis, Carl Laney, Greg Hatteberg, and Chet Bolen.

    I’ve worked with many wonderful authors, editors, and publishers over the years and two who have been the most encouraging for the most years are Kim Tanner (Zondervan) and Judi King (WordAction).

    More than anyone, my wife Kelli has supported me and served me in countless ways so that I could travel, teach, write, and process photos. For most of my trips, she has born the full burden of the kids while I was away. She encourages me through the early mornings and late nights, and often when I’m writing weekend roundups, she’s cooking up a hearty breakfast. She has listened and advised me through decades of challenges and opportunities.

    Finally, I am thankful to those who have read, commented, emailed, encouraged, recommended, and purchased our work over the years. Without you, my life would be less interesting, less encouraging, and less fulfilling. Thank you, and may the Lord bless you.

    “How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?”
    (1 Thessalonians 3:9)

    Jim Davila (

    Inscribed mosaic excavated in Georgian church at Ashdod-Yam

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    Turkish Archaeological News

    Yemişkapanı Han, Sinan's Waterway and Roman Necropolis in Edirne

    Selimiye Square excavations, Edirne, June, 2017

    Edirne is a city that still holds many secrets concerning its past. The best proof of that is the recent archaeological discovery, made in the very heart of the city's historical centre, in front of world-famous Selimiye Mosque. Edirne Municipality prepared the project of a revitalisation of the Selimiye Mosque Square, including the creation of a tourist information office, a park, pools and fountains. However, it was opposed because there are the remains of a historical building hidden below its ground. Edirne Cultural and Natural Heritage Preservation Board initiated archaeological excavations that started in autumn of 2013, in three selected places of the square. It was just the beginning of groundbreaking discoveries, revealing the secret history of the city.

    Jim Davila (

    Henze on Jesus and the gap years

    <img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

    Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

    EasyCUBE PRO: tecnologia innovativa per i beni architettonici


    EasyCUBE PRO, tecnologia per la conservazione e la valorizzazione dei beni architettonici, un approccio concreto e sul campo applicato al porto fluviale romano di Aquileia.

    Jim Davila (

    Return of Mor Gabriel monastery "imminent"

    <img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>


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    Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

    Open Access Journal: Routes de l'Orient: Revue d'Archéologie de l'Orient Ancien

    Routes de l'Orient: Revue d'Archéologie de l'Orient Ancien
    ISSN: 2272-8120
    ISSN: 2492-8542
    Routes de l'Orient est une association étudiante à but non lucratif ayant pour objectif principal de promouvoir la recherche en archéologie orientale grâce à la participation active d'étudiants et au soutien d'enseignants et de chercheurs. Routes de l'Orient est intéressée par les autres disciplines actrices de la recherche orientale (épigraphiste, anthropologue, historien, numismate, ...). Elle regroupe des étudiants provenant de différentes universités telles que Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris 4 Sorbonne, l'École pratique des hautes études (EPHE), le Museum d'histoire naturelle ou encore l'École du Louvre et tend à s'ouvrir à d'autres universités françaises et étrangères.
    Routes de l'Orient is a non profit association rallying students in Oriental archaeology, also interesting in others eastern disciplins (history, anthropology, epigraphy, ...). We are actively working together with the help and support of scholars and senior lecturers to share recent research in our field with the broader public. We currently include undergraduates and postgraduates from various Parisian universities (Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris 4 Sorbonne, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (EPHE), Ecole du Louvre) and hope to extend our membership to other student communities both in France and abroad.
    N° 3 – « Actualité des recherches archéologiques »
    Hors-série n° 2 : « Actualité des recherches archéologiques en Arabie »
    N° 2 – « Actualité des recherches archéologiques »
    N° 1 – « Actualités de la recherche archéologique » 
    Cliquez sur l’image pour ouvrir le document

    Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

    Corso “Rilievo 3D e gestione delle Mesh (Avanzato)”. Gestione, integrazione ed elaborazione di dati da Rilievo 3D multipiattaforma con Software Open Source


    Il rilievo tridimensionale si avvale di una vasta gamma di strumenti (sia hardware che software) e tecniche capaci di estrarre ed immagazzinare informazioni relative principalmente, ma non unicamente, a forma, dimensioni e valori cromatici di oggetti o porzioni di territorio. Quasi mai un unico strumento ed un unico software sono sufficienti ad esaurire le esigenze descrittive ed analitiche derivanti da un progetto di rilievo. Sempre più spesso, infatti, c’è la necessità di integrare, in un unico progetto, dati provenienti da più strumenti e metodiche di scansione.

    Compitum - événements (tous types)

    Lectura Dantis Nicaeana

    Titre: Lectura Dantis Nicaeana
    Lieu: Consolato Generale d'Italia / Nice
    Catégorie: Colloques, journées d'études
    Date: 01.12.2017
    Heure: 15.30 h - 17.30 h

    Information signalée par Giampiero Scafoglio

    Lectura Dantis Nicaeana


    17h00 Introduzione
    Sabino Lafasciano (Dirigente Ufficio didattico-culturale)
    Giampiero Scafoglio (Université de Nice Sophia Antipolis / CEPAM)
    Rosa Maria Dessì (Université de Nice Sophia Antipolis / CEPAM)

    17h30 Lettura del Canto I dell'Inferno
    Raffaele Giglio (Università di Napoli Federico II)

    18h30 Comunicazioni scientifiche

    "La Commedia dal pulpito: un pellegrinaggio ‘virtuale' nell'aldilà"
    Pietro Delcorno (University of Leeds)

    "Da Firenze a Roma. Appunti per una biografia di Dante politico"
    Giuliano Milani (Université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée)

    Lieu de la manifestation : Teatro Garibaldi, Consolato Generale d'Italia. 72, boulevard Gambetta, Nice
    Organisation : Rosa Maria Dessì, Giampiero Scafoglio
    Contact : Giampiero.SCAFOGLIO[at]

    Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

    Another Find Challenges Coin Dealer Myth

    Another archaeological discovery which counters the asinine claim by dealers in ancient coins that hoards 'wee always' buried away from any places where their digging up by artefact hunters could destroy archaeological evidence: 'Archaeologists Discover Large Roman Building under Tree Where Coin Hoard Was Found in Bulgaria's Mezdra', Novinite, November 22, 2017. The hoard was third century and the building was still standing in the fourth century.

    James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

    Luís de Freitas Branco – Artificial Paradises

    Here’s a piece of music, shared with you for no other reason than that it is breathtakingly beautiful!

    Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

    Osservare la terra, un progetto fotografico a confronto con l'archivio fotografico dell'Istituto centrale per il catalogo e la documentazione


    Fabio Barile (Barletta, 1980) lavora dal 2014 ad un ambizioso progetto fotografico centrato sull'osservazione del fenomeno geologico in Italia, intitolato An investigation of the laws observable in the composition, dissolution, and restoration of land.

    Noel Tan (The Southeast Asian Archaeology Newsblog)

    Angkor temples found

    via Khmer Times, 22 November 2017: The Ministry of Environment is exploring two ancient temples likely constructed during the early Angkor era in Ratanakkiri. Source: Angkor temples found – Khmer Times

    Antiquitas (Sciences de l'Antiquité à l'Université de Lorraine)

    Les évêques et la libération des captifs au Ve s. dans l’Empire

     Dans le cadre du Séminaire International d’Histoire Ancienne, Jonathan Conant, Associate Professor of History/Classics à la Brown University de Providence (Rhode Island),  une conférence ayant pour thème : « Les évêques et la libération des captifs au Ve siècle dans l’Empire [Bishops and the Liberation of Captives in the Fifth-Century Empire] ». La conférence aura lieu le jeudi 30 novembre 2017 à 18h. (Salle des Actes, G04). Elle sera donnée en anglais et traduite de façon simultanée.
    Un ensemble de sources juridiques et épistolaires du Ve siècle suggère que les Romains libres étaient parfois emmenés en captivité et asservi à l’intérieur des frontières de l’Empire. Leurs droits et leur statut restaient profondément liés aux circonstances locales, et, une fois contraints à la coercition, ces individus illégalement asservis avaient probablement peu de chance d’être libérés. Les malheureux cherchaient donc l’aide des évêques chrétiens, dont les réticences à intervenir pouvaient être forcées par l’appel à leur honneur en tant que membres masculins de l’élite, dans le cadre d’une culture d’attentes sociales. Celles-ci étaient d’ailleurs renforcés aux Ve et VIe siècles par la législation impériale.
    Bishops and the Liberation of Captives in the Fifth-Century Empire
    In the fifth century, a cluster of legal and epistolary sources suggests that free Romans were, with some frequency, being carried off into captivity and servitude inside the frontiers of the empire. Rights and status remained deeply embedded in local circumstances, and once reduced to bondage, the illicitly-enslaved probably had little chance of redemption. The aggrieved thus sought the aid of Christian bishops, whose reluctance to intervene could be constrained to act by appealing to their honor as elite Roman males within a culture of social expectations that was itself reinforced over the fifth and sixth centuries by imperial legislation.

    Les autres dates du semestre

    16 novembre 2017 – Thierry Legrand (Université de Strasbourg) : « En marge du judaïsme ‘officiel’ : Qumrân, ses écrits et sa communauté ».
    14 décembre 2017 – Serge Bardet (Université d’Évry-Val-d’Essonne) : « La Guerre des Juifs de Flavius Josèphe : intertextualité et interculturalité ».

    Noel Tan (The Southeast Asian Archaeology Newsblog)

    El Nido cave proposed as heritage site

    via Palawan NEws, 22 Nov 2017: El Nido authorities want to declare the town’s archaeologically-important Ille Cave in Brgy. New Ibajay as a National Cultural Heritage Site. Municipal Administrator RJ de la Calzada said they met with the National Museum last week to discuss the process of declaring the cave pursuant to Republic Act 10066 … Continue reading "El Nido cave proposed as heritage site"

    Bryn Mawr Classical Review

    2017.11.49: Visualizing Community: Art, Material Culture, and Settlement in Byzantine Cappadocia. Dumbarton Oaks Studies, 46

    Review of Robert G. Ousterhout, Visualizing Community: Art, Material Culture, and Settlement in Byzantine Cappadocia. Dumbarton Oaks Studies, 46. Washington, DC: 2017. Pp. xxv, 532. $90.00. ISBN 9780884024132.

    2017.11.48: Werkpolitik in der Antike: Studien zu Cicero, Vergil, Horaz und Ovid. Zetemata, 152

    Review of Cédric Scheidegger Lämmle, Werkpolitik in der Antike: Studien zu Cicero, Vergil, Horaz und Ovid. Zetemata, 152. München: 2016. Pp. 312. €88.00 (pb). ISBN 9783406699351.

    2017.11.47: Homers Ilias: Gesamtkommentar (Basler Kommentar / BK). Band IX, Sechzehnter Gesang (Π) (2 vols.). Sammlung wissenschaftlicher Commentare

    Review of Anton Bierl, Joachim Latacz, Homers Ilias: Gesamtkommentar (Basler Kommentar / BK). Band IX, Sechzehnter Gesang (Π) (2 vols.). Sammlung wissenschaftlicher Commentare. Berlin; Boston: 2016. Pp. xvi, 51 p.; xiii, 422. $56.00; $140.00. ISBN 9783110206128; 9783110206531.

    Noel Tan (The Southeast Asian Archaeology Newsblog)

    [New Paper] Revisiting the Bujang Valley: A Southeast Asian entrepôt complex on the maritime trade route

    New paper on the Bujang Valley by Stephen Murphy: In the early 1830s and 1840s, a British colonial official by the name of Colonel James Low uncovered evidence for an early culture with Indic traits in a river system known as the Bujang Valley. On the west coast of the Thai-Malay peninsula, the Bujang Valley … Continue reading "[New Paper] Revisiting the Bujang Valley: A Southeast Asian entrepôt complex on the maritime trade route"

    [New Paper] Potent Places in Central Vietnam: ‘Everything that Comes Out of the Earth is Cham’

    New paper in the Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology by Anne-Valérie Schweyer: Set apart from the so-called ‘Hinduisation’ process, the Cham country is characterised by the presence of many sites or shrines dedicated to local deities. This paper—based on the analysis of archaeological and anthropological evidence—aims to identify these cults, to clarify the associated practices and … Continue reading "[New Paper] Potent Places in Central Vietnam: ‘Everything that Comes Out of the Earth is Cham’"

    Laura Gibbs (Bestiaria Latina Blog)

    Bestiaria Latina: Special Thanksgiving Edition

    Happy Thanksgiving to all! The Latin word gratia is very difficult to translate into English: it means thanks and gratitude and love and so much more, including grace ("saying grace" is saying "thank you"). You might take a few minutes just to look at the range of meanings: Lewis and Short.

    And here are some Gratia-Cats you can enjoy for the holiday. :-)

    Gratia gratiam parit.

    GRATIA creates GRATIA.

    Gratia referenda.

    Return GRATIA for GRATIA.

    Non gladio, sed gratia.

    Not by means of the sword, but by means of GRATIA.

    Beneficium et gratia vincula sunt concordiae.

    A good deed and GRATIA are the cords of unity.

    Gratia quando datur, studeas ut restituatur.

    When GRATIA is given, make sure to do the same in return.

    Super argentum et aurum gratia bona.

    Above silver and gold, GRATIA is good.

    In omnibus gratias agite.

    In all things, do GRATIAS.

    Archaeology Magazine

    Medieval Village Unearthed in Denmark

    Demark medieval village cellarTOLLERUP, DENMARK—Traces of three medieval farm buildings have been unearthed in eastern Denmark, reports Science Nordic. The structures were built between A.D. 1400 and 1600, but the site itself probably dates to at least the eleventh century. King Canute IV deeded a village in the vicinity of the excavations to a local bishop in 1085, and tax records from the period suggest there were six farms and a manor at that site. Archaeologists suspect the newly discovered village is the same one mentioned in the medieval documents. National Museum of Denmark archaeologist Nils Engberg says that merely finding any traces of buildings dating to this period is exceedingly rare. Because of a chronic timber shortage in the Middle Ages, buildings were made from stone, which was often reused in later buildings. “We have lots of excavations from earlier periods” says Engberg. “For example from the Stone Age and Bronze Age. But unfortunately not from the Middle Ages.” To read more about medieval Denmark, go to “Bluetooth’s Fortress.”

    New Research on Viking Army Camp at Repton

    England Repton Viking CampBRISTOL, ENGLAND—Archaeologists have turned up new evidence about a ninth-century Viking overwintering camp in the Derbyshire village of Repton, according to a report from Yahoo News. The site, which was occupied by a Viking army in the winter of 873-4, was previously excavated starting in the 1970s and was thought to have been limited to a fortified D-shaped enclosure measuring just a few acres. Now, a team from the University of Bristol has found evidence of structures and activities including metalworking and ship repair in the area outside this enclosure. Among the items found there were lead gaming pieces, fragments of battle-axes and arrows, and nails with roves, which are a telltale feature of Viking ship nails. The finds show that the Viking camp was larger and host to a wider range of activities than had been previously known, said Cat Jarman of the University of Bristol. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, when the Vikings arrived in Repton in 873, they drove the Mercian king Burghred overseas. The researchers also confirmed that a mass grave at the site containing at least 264 people dates to the time of the overwintering camp and likely holds Viking war dead. For more on the Vikings in England, go to “Vengeance on the Vikings.”

    Lioness Relief Discovered in the Galilee

    Israel Lioness Carving Posed web


    SEA OF GALILEE, ISRAEL—A well-preserved basalt relief of a lioness has been uncovered by archaeologists at El-Araj in the Galilee, according to a report from Haaretz. The 1,320-pound relief includes a three-dimensional representation of the head, including mane, fangs, and tongue, and a two-dimensional representation of the body, including a tail hanging down between the legs. The carving dates to the fourth to sixth centuries A.D., said Mordechai Aviam, director of excavations at the Kinneret Academic College in the Galilee. “This relief looks very much like other statues of lions and lionesses discovered in synagogues in the Golan Heights,” he said. However, Aviam believes the site is Julias, a Roman-era town, and the carving could have been featured on a non-Jewish public building. To read about another recent discovery in Israel, go to “Conspicuous Consumption.”

    Ancient Plaque Used to Track Migrations

    ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA—The Atlantic reports that researchers are using plaque from the teeth of ancient Polynesians to track prehistoric human migrations in the Pacific. University of Adelaide biologists Laura Weyrich and Raphael Eisenhofer collected samples of plaque from the uncleaned teeth of skulls stored in a number of museums. The samples contained the DNA of a number of common mouth bacteria and by studying the mutations in these bacteria’s genes, the team hopes to be able to infer the timing and exact routes of several migration events. “The traditional means of looking at human migrations might be too coarse,” says Eisenhofer. “Hopefully, the rapid rate of evolution in that bacteria will allow us to answer some of the questions.” To read in-depth about ancient microbial DNA, go to “Worlds Within Us.”

    November 22, 2017

    Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

    Demotisches Namenbuch: Suchliste

    Demotisches Namenbuch: Suchliste
    The Institute for Egyptology and Coptology of Ludwig Maximilians University Munich is pleased to announce the publication of “Demotisches Namenbuch: Suchliste” compiled by Dr. Birgit Jordan with the assistance of Sophia Specht, M.A.
    The search list allows looking up all components of demotic personal names included in the “Demotisches Namenbuch”. It is now possible, for instance, to check in which personal names a particular deity is mentioned. The list is not only a useful tool for the identification of personal names in damaged texts but also a good starting point for onomastic studies.
    Mit dieser Suchliste soll die Nutzung des Demotischen Namenbuchs (DN) ein wenig erleichtert werden. Einen großen Teil der Tipparbeit hat dankenswerterweise Frau Sophia Specht (LMU) übernommen.
    (1) Die Liste enthält alle Einträge des DN, auch die Varianten und relevante Verweise, und soll die Suche nach möglichst vielen Bestandteilen, incl. Artikeln (z. B. p# DET SG M [bestimmter Artikel Singular maskulin]) und Präpositionen, ermöglichen.
    (2) Die nach dem traditionellen demotistischen „Alphabet“ vorgenommene Sortierung ignoriert die Bindestriche und die Gleichheitszeichen zum Anschluss von Suffixen; das jeweils folgende Sortierkriterium ist einfach das nächste Zeichen mit Ausnahme von „.t“. Es scheint leider so zu sein, dass der Variationsreichtum eines Umschriftsystems sich umgekehrt proportional zur Zahl der tatsächlich aktiven Forscher auf dem fraglichen Gebiet verhält. Die Umschrift in dieser Liste jedenfalls orientiert sich weitgehend am DN und seinen Idiosynkrasien.
    (3) Mit einem * direkt am Eintrag bzw. einem „H“ vor der Seitenangabe des DN sind Lesungen gekennzeichnet, die das DN auf die Herausgeber der Primäreditionen zurückführt und denen die Autoren des DN nicht immer folgen.
    (4) Einige der Abschnitte des DN tragen Überschriften wie „Fragliches und Zerstörtes“. Einträge aus diesen Bereichen sind in der Suchliste mit einem „F“ vor der Seitenangabe markiert. Die von den Editoren des DN vergebenen „(?)“ und die gelegentlich auf Zeichenebene eingefügten hal- ben Klammern habe ich übernommen.
    (5) Die Übersetzungen folgen den Angaben des DN, außerdem den Hinweisen, die Günter Vitt- mann dankenswerterweise bei der Durchsicht der Liste beisteuerte. Bei den Einwort-Einträgen, die oft griechische und sonst fremdsprachige Einwort-Namen wiedergeben, habe ich auf die Um- schrift bzw. Übersetzung meist verzichtet.
    (6) Pfeilspitzen (>) zwischen den Einträgen geben die Verweise und die Varianten der Namen bzw. (<>) alternative Lesungen oder Umschreibungen gemäß DN wieder.
    (7) Ein „N“ vor der Seitenangabe verweist auf die am Ende der letzten Lieferung des DN zu- sammengefassten Korrekturen und Neulesungen sowie neue Einträge. Die Seitenangabe bezieht sich auf die Seiten des gedruckten DN, auf welchen die Korrekturen und Ergänzungen zu be- rücksichtigen wären.
    (8) Online-Publikationen bieten gegenüber gedruckten Werken den großen Vorteil, Änderungs- wünsche und Korrekturen rasch und vergleichsweise unaufwendig anbringen zu können. Die Liste enthält garantiert noch Fehler oder Unklarheiten, zu deren Meldung und Ausmerzung alle Nutzer hiermit aufgerufen seien.
    Bad Vilbel, 17. Oktober 2017"

    José María Ciordia (Pompilo: diario esporádico de un profesor de griego)

    Representación y hermenéutica de las emociones

    Hoy y mañana se desarrollan en la Universidad de Zaragoza las Jornadas de investigación hermenéutica «Representación y hermenéutica de las emociones», a las que he contribuido como casual graphic designer:

    Folleto de las Jornadas de investigación hermenéutica «Representación y hermenéutica de las emociones»

    Han quedado monos los carteles y el folleto, encuentro. Me recuerdan al otro cartel y folleto que diseñé en ocasión semejante para el XIV Susanne Hübner International Seminar «Linguistics and persuasive communication» (2007), con una enredadera de color rojo pasión de fondo. Hace muchos años, en una charla, el diseñador argentino América Sánchez explicó que él, cuando no sabía qué imagen usar para un cartel, folleto o portada, ponía nubes. Está visto que yo, en las mismas, recurro a las flores y plantas. Mucho más sugerentes, ¡va usted a comparar! Sin ir más lejos, el centro de esta rosa…

    Folleto del XIV Susanne Hübner International Seminar

    Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

    New Open Access Journal: Die Bibel in der Kunst (BiKu) / Bible in the Arts (BiA)

    Die Bibel in der Kunst (BiKu) / Bible in the Arts (BiA) - Das wissenschaftliche Bibelportal der Deutschen Bibelgesellschaft
    Die Zeitschrift bietet Aufsätze zur Wirkungsgeschichte der Bibel in Bildender Kunst, Literatur und Musik. Kürzere Beiträge stellen neuere Bücher und aktuelle Projekte vor.
    The journal presents articles on the reception history of the Bible in visual arts, literature and music. Short articles provide reviews of new books and reports on current research.

    Herausgeberkreis / Editors

    Editorial Board

    • Prof. Dr. Kai Bremer, Kiel (Deutsche Literatur)
    • Prof. Dr. Sabine Griese, Leipzig (Deutsche Literatur)
    • Prof. Dr. Gerhard Langer, Wien (Judaistik)
    • Prof. Dr. Klaus Niehr, Osnabrück (Kunstgeschichte)
    • Prof. Dr. Thomas Noll, Göttingen (Kunstgeschichte)
    • Prof. Dr. Thomas Schipperges, Tübingen (Musikwissenschaft)
    Autorinnen und Autoren schreiben Ihre Beiträge bitte in diese Formatvorlage und schicken den Text als WORD-Datei sowie ggf. Abbildungen als jpg-Dateien an ein Mitglied des Herausgeberkreises (Richtlinien). Alle eingehenden Artikel werden einem peer-review-Verfahren unterzogen.
    Authors are kindly asked to use this style sheet when submitting articles and to forward their manuscripts in the form of WORD files, images as separate JPG or PNG to one of the editors (guidelines). Every article received will be subject to a peer review process.

    José María Ciordia (Pompilo: diario esporádico de un profesor de griego)

    El pecadillo tipográfico de Anagrama

    Es una tontería, una pequeña curiosidad de bibliófilo. Lleva Anagrama editando la colección Panorama de Narrativas… ¡pffff! …como cuarenta años. Y como cuarenta años lleva en la portada, bien a la vista de todos, la herejía tipográfica de titular las obras con una falsa cursiva, o sea, con una letra redonda o romana forzada a ser oblicua en lugar de una cursiva avant la lettre. Me explico. En estas portadas se combinan dos tipos: el nombre del autor y los de la editorial y la colección van escritos en el tipo Gill Sans; el nombre de la obra, en cambio, va en lo que parece un tipo Times (no sabría decir de qué fabricante en concreto) en su variante negrita y descaradamente falsa cursiva. Aquí en un lanzamiento editorial reciente:


    En una cursiva auténtica el dibujo de las letras es un poco diferente que en la letra redonda. La diferencia más llamativa está en la letra «a». A continuación la prueba fehaciente, una muestra de: a) letra redonda, b) letra redonda falsa negrita (el programa de ordenador engrosa los caracteres a lo bruto, sin las sutilezas que introducen los tipógrafos en las negritas auténticas), c) letra redonda falsamente negrita y falsamente cursiva, tal y como titula Anagrama (ahora, además, el programa de ordenador tumba unos grados hacia la derecha todos los caracteres, sin más) y, por último, d) cómo se vería el título en caso de usar una variante realmente negrita y cursiva, tal y como las diseñó el tipógrafo Stanley Morison. Las diferencias más llamativas están en la parte baja de la «l», la «r» y la «i», y en toda la forma de la letra «a».

    Letra romana, falsa negrita, falsa negrita cursiva y negrita cursiva

    Imagino que esta decisión tipográfica se tomó (o no se tomó, más bien «sucedió») en los albores de la editorial, cuando probablemente ni el fundador Jorge Herralde —o quien diseñara la colección— conocía la diferencia que hay entre una cursiva de verdad y una falsa cursiva, y luego se le cogió cariño al pecadillo. Total, ¿quién se iba a dar cuenta?

    ArcheoNet BE

    Leuven zoekt stadsarcheoloog

    De stad Leuven is momenteel op zoek naar een stadsarcheoloog (m/v). Hij/zij plant en leidt archeologische projecten, voert archeologisch (voor)onderzoek uit, en stelt archeologienota’s op. De stadsarcheoloog is ook verantwoordelijk voor advies, beheer en ontsluiting van het stedelijk archeologisch patrimonium, en voor de communicatie over het belang van archeologie. Kandidaten zijn erkend als archeoloog. Het betreft een tijdelijke aanwerving, met de mogelijkheid om na examens in het voorjaar vastbenoemd te worden. Solliciteren voor deze functie kan nog tot en met 6 december. Je vindt de volledige vacature op

    Archaeological News on Tumblr

    Rare 400-Year-Old Map Traces Indigenous Roots in Mexico

    A rare, indigenous-made map of Mexico from the era of the Nahuatl people’s first contact with...

    The Archaeology News Network

    Plague likely a Stone Age arrival to central Europe

    A team of researchers led by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History has sequenced the first six European genomes of the plague-causing bacterium Yersinia pestis dating from the Late Neolithic to the Bronze Age (4,800 to 3,700 years ago). Analysis of these samples, published in Current Biology, suggests that the Stone Age Plague entered Europe during the Neolithic with a large-scale migration of people...

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    ArcheoNet BE

    Tentoonstelling over archeologische opgravingen in Aarsele

    Naar aanleiding van rioleringswerken in het centrum van Aarsele (Tielt) hebben archeologen van BAAC dit voorjaar een deel van het historische kerkhof opgegraven. In het kader van de inhuldiging van het vernieuwde dorpsplein wordt dit weekend een tentoonstelling georganiseerd over de resultaten van het onderzoek. De tentoonstelling opent op vrijdagavond en is het hele weekend te bezichtigen in de Sint-Martinuskerk. Je vindt meer informatie op

    Archaeological News on Tumblr

    Third Roman temple in Silchester may have been part of emperor's vanity project

    A Roman temple uncovered in a Hampshire farmyard by University of Reading archaeologists may be the...

    Bill Caraher (The New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World)

    Teaching Tuesday (on a Wednesday): Trust the Process

    In past years I’ve blogged pretty regularly about my experiences teaching in History 101: Western Civilization in the University of North Dakota’s Scale-Up classroom. This is my fifth time teaching in this room on Tuesday nights to about 150 students per semester. I’m not sure whether or when I’ll be back teaching in this room in the future. Changes in our graduate program will likely limit the pool of graduate teaching assistants which are vital to making this room work at scale.

    For those unfamiliar with how a Scale-Up room works, it consists of 20, round, 9-student tables with three laptops each, large flatscreen monitors, and dry-erase boards. My class focuses on student writing with each table responsible for a section of a textbook chapter. Each table has an array of textbooks and can use the web for both primary sources and additional information. In a sense, my class is 15-20 separate seminars guided by myself and my graduate teaching assistants who primarily focus on issues of writing and organization as well as the mechanics of getting a group of nine students to work together.  

    Over the years, I’ve learned a few things by teaching in this classroom (despite a less than successful effort to get some of my experiences published a few years back). Here are three of them:

    1. Patience. At its core, my class is about writing. The course starts with three short paper which tables work together to design and students then submit as individuals. The final two-thirds of the class is dedicated to each group producing three, longer (2500-3000 word) chapters of a textbook. Each chapter gets comments on an outline, a rough draft, and even the provisional final draft which can be revised in limited ways at the end of the semester. Invariably the first chapter, typically dedicated to some aspect of Greek history, is rough. The outlines are rough, the rough draft is rough, and the final draft can be awkward and uneven. By the final chapter, some 9 weeks later, however, the outlines are better, the rough drafts are good, and a few of the final chapters are quite excellent.

    The regular, incremental improvement in student work is rarely acknowledged in conversations with that tables. In other words, they rarely “close the loop” explicitly by telling me what they’re doing better with a particular draft or outline, but their work does improve steadily over the course of the semester. This used to frustrate me because there has been so much emphasis on making learning explicit, but in this class, I wonder whether it is more telling that the students aren’t entirely conscious of how they’ve improved. Being patient, trusting the process, and not forcing things seems to make learning happen.

    2. Conversation. Last night, I had about 65 of the 90 students in attendance. It’s the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and many of my students head home early this week. While this is a bit annoying, UND doesn’t have a fall break and only has Thursday and Friday off for the holiday, so I’m inclined to be sympathetic. 

    One benefit of the smaller class and a general attitude of holiday good cheer is that I was able to float around the room and chat with students about their holiday plans, their semester, and the class. While this was not strictly speaking relevant to their task at hand, students seem to genuinely appreciate my interest. More importantly, at least from an institutional and pedagogical standpoint, this kind of interaction builds trust, encourages retention, and, on the classroom level, makes students more susceptible to encouragement, critique, and open conversation about the learning process.

    This reminded me that one of the key advantages of the Scale-Up room is that it allows for more informal interaction with students and if learning in the Scale-Up room is all about the process, then the process is grounded in a trust that comes from familiarity.

    3. Content and Freedom. My greatest discomfort in the Scale-Up room is that I basically allow my students to control the content from which they build their arguments. This means being tolerant of less than idea sources, questionable interpretations, and imaginative and unexpected points of emphasis. At first, I tried to control the sources of information that the students could mine for their arguments, but this is rather like hugging a wave. 

    As a result, I’ve gradually shifted my attention from controlling access to “good evidence,” but now need to step up my efforts at managing how students critically evaluate the vast quantity of data available on the web. For a 100-level history class focused on producing good arguments, this involves shifting emphasis from producing a walled garden or allowing uncritical free-range scavenging for information, to  structuring critical engagement with available sources of historical information. That’s a big task, and one that’ll have to wait until when and if I teach the class again.

    Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

    Newly Open Access Monograph Series: Papyrologica Bruxellensia

    Association égyptologique Reine Elisabeth publications now available in AWDL
    By Gabriel McKee
    The Ancient World Digital Library and the Association Égyptologique Reine Elisabeth are happy to announce the publication of electronic editions of several of the AERE's publications. The current selection of 7 AERE titles come primarily from the series Papyrologica Bruxellensia, which began in 1962 with T. Reekman's A Sixth Century Account of Hay (P. Iand.inv. 653)This inaugural volume is now available in AWDL, along with:
    Further volumes of Pap.Brux. will be added to AWDL soon and will be listed at this link. The ISAW Library is grateful to the AERE for the opportunity to provide online access to these publications.
    As always, content in AWDL is freely available to read online in full resolution or download in either high- or low-resolution PDF format. In addition to searching for titles, you can also find titles by using the AWDL Atlas, a browsable map of all of the titles available on the AWDL site; by browsing for topics under the “Collections Overview” tab; or looking at individual series in the “Series” tab.

    American School of Classical Studies in Athens: Events

    4η Συνάντηση Κύκλου Ομιλιών  “Η Γένεση του Νομίσματος”

    November 28, 2017 - 3:25 PM - LECTURE Σελήνη Ψωμά (Εθνικό & Καποδιστριακό Πανεπιστήμιο Αθηνών), Ηλίας Χατζηθεοδωρίδης (Εθνικό Μετσόβειο Πολυτεχνείο)

    ArcheoNet BE

    De verdwenen havenstadjes Monnikerede en Hoeke

    Op zondag 26 november geeft dr. Jan Trachet in museum Sincfala in Heist een lezing over het onderzoek naar de verdwenen havenstadjes Monnikerede en Hoeke. Op beide sites heeft de integratie en confrontatie van traditionele bronnen en technieken met innovatief interdisciplinair landschaps-archeologisch onderzoek geleid tot spectaculaire resultaten. Opmerkelijke vondsten, zoals een kleine zegelstempel of een groot aantal rolkeien, geven dan weer een uniek inzicht in het reilen en zeilen van deze vergeten middeleeuwse havens aan het Zwin.

    Zondag is trouwens ook de laatste dag dat de tentoonstelling ‘Een vergeten tijd gedetecteerd. Metaalvondsten uit de Vlaamse kuststreek’ in Sincfala te zien is.

    Meer info op

    Jim Davila (

    Lioness carving found at el-Araj

    <img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

    Schiffman on the archaeology of garbage in Jerusalem

    <img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

    American School of Classical Studies in Athens: News

    VIDEOCAST - 70 Χρόνια Fulbright στην Ελλάδα «Παιδεία και Ανάπτυξη»

    Γιάννης Στουρνάρας, Ευαγγελία Κουνέλη, Δημήτρη Α. Σωτηρόπουλος

    Jim Davila (

    Avemarie et al. (eds.), Die Makkabäer

    <img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

    Gieschen, Angelomorphic Christology

    <img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

    The Archaeology News Network

    An international group of scientists reveals the mystery about the origin of gold

    An international group of scientists, with the participation of the University of Granada (UGR), has shed new light on the origin of gold, one of the most intriguing mysteries for Mankind since ancient times and which even today doesn't have an answer that convinces the scientific community. Peridotite from the deep mantle (green) enclosed in lava (black) from a Patagonian volcano,  which was found by the researchers [Credit:...

    [[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

    James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

    First Ever Fan Studies North America Conference!

    This call for papers will interest some blog readers every bit as much as it interests me: FSNNA Conference: Fandom—Past, Present, Future deadline for submissions: February 15, 2018 full name / name of organization: Fan Studies Network North America contact email: Fan Studies Network North America is proud to announce its first conference: Fandom—Past, […]

    Faculty of Classics, Cambridge

    'Professor Andrew Wallace-Hadrill takes us on a journey' in 'Building the Ancient City: Athens and Rome', BBC Two

    'Professor Andrew Wallace-Hadrill takes us on a journey across stunning locations in Greece and Italy to find out how Athens gave birth to the idea of a city run by free citizens 2,500 years ago.'

    Lawrence H. Schiffman

    Make No Bones about It!

    Make No Bones about ItAncient trash reveals the eating habits of Jews 2,000 years ago

    Sometimes archaeologists discover more or less what we would expect, or so it seemed from a recent news story. It was reported that Tel Aviv University archaeologists, investigating Bayis Sheini-period Jerusalem, had discovered evidence that Jews of that era were eating lots of sheep and goats, smaller numbers of chickens and cows, and guess what—no pork. The study was based on an analysis of some 5,700 animal bones excavated in the area of the City of David (officially Area D3, termed the Southern Cut).

    The project was part of a general trend to turn towards aspects of daily life in archaeological research. In fact, all over the world archaeologists have been turning to garbage as a source for information about how people lived. In this excavation, the archaeologists, led by Tel Aviv University’s Dr. Yuval Gadot, were even able to determine that the animals tended to be older, hence less expensive, and not the best cuts of meat available on the market. They therefore concluded that the garbage had not come from the city’s elite but rather from more simple people. Moreover, because pigeon bones were absent, they also determined that pigeons were only eaten as part of the sacrificial ritual.

    But it turns out that there was much more to learn from these excavations.

    Read the rest of this article from Ami Magazine.

    The post Make No Bones about It! appeared first on Prof. Lawrence H. Schiffman.

    Compitum - publications

    F. Raphael, Antiquity Matters


    Frederic Raphael, Antiquity Matters, New Haven-Londres, 2017.

    Éditeur : Yale University Press
    xiv, 362 pages
    ISBN : 9780300215373
    26 $

    A sharp, often surprising, view of the classical world by a major classics scholar at Cambridge and author of The Glittering Prizes
    This book is the culmination of more than sixty years of a writing life during which Frederic Raphael has returned again and again to the literature and landscape of the ancient world. In his new book, Raphael deploys his renowned wit and erudition to give us a vivid mosaic of the complexities and contradictions underlying Western civilization and its continuing influence upon contemporary society. Tackling a broad range of topics, from the presumed superiority of democracy to the momentum behind today's gay rights movement, Raphael's often daringly heterodox view of the Greek and Roman world will provoke, surprise, and, at the same time, entertain readers. He shows how the interplay of fiction and reality, rhetorical aspiration and practical cunning, are threaded through modern culture.


    Source : Yale University Press

    Turkish Archaeological News

    Rüstem Pasha Caravanserai in Edirne

    Rüstem Pasha Caravanserai in Edirne

    Rüstem Pasha Caravanserai is located in the historical centre of Edirne, on the mainland route between Asia Minor and Europe. Even after losing the status of the capital of the Ottoman Empire, Edirne continued to be the critical military and commercial centre of the Empire's European provinces. In the 1560s, the Grand Vezir Rüstem Pasha commissioned the eminent architect Mimar Sinan to build a caravanserai in Edirne for the travellers and merchants to stay. Even today, the caravanserai still serves as a hotel, although its adaptation to modern standards has been questioned by visitors and architects alike.

    Noel Tan (The Southeast Asian Archaeology Newsblog)

    Culture Ministry calls for return of ancient Thai artifacts

    via Pattaya Mail, 22 Nov 2017: Bangkok – The Ministry of Culture is speeding up the process for the return of ancient Thai artifacts from overseas. The ministry’s ad hoc committee has called for the repatriation of artifacts that originated from Thailand and recently acknowledged the verification of 14 ancient items currently in the possession … Continue reading "Culture Ministry calls for return of ancient Thai artifacts"

    Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

    Creating a False Past Through Bad Collecting Practice

    A multimillion-dollar trade in fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls fuelled by a surge in interest from wealthy evangelicals in the US includes a significant number of suspected forgeries, two prominent experts have said ( Peter Beaumont and Oliver Laughland, 'Trade in Dead Sea Scrolls awash with suspected forgeries, experts warn', Guardian 21 November 2017).

    Laura Gibbs (Bestiaria Latina Blog)

    Latin Proverbs and Fables Round-Up: November 21

    Here is a round-up of today's proverbs and fables - and for previous posts, check out the Bestiaria Latina Blog archives. You can keep up with the latest posts by using the RSS feed, or you might prefer to subscribe by email.

    HODIE (Roman Calendar): ante diem undecimum Kalendas Decembres.

    MYTHS and LEGENDS: The art image for today's legend shows Echo and Narcissus, and there are more images here.


    3-WORD MOTTOES: Today's 3-word motto is Ora et labora (English: Pray and work hard).

    3-WORD PROVERBS: Today's 3-word proverb is Spes dabit auxilium (English: Hope will give help ... but for a different take on hope, see the next proverb!).

    RHYMING PROVERBS: Today's proverb with rhyme is: Spes laqueo volucres, spes captat arundine pisces (English: Hope captures birds with a net, and fish with a rod).

    VULGATE VERSES: Today's verse is Sol non occidat super iracundiam vestram (Eph. 4:26). For a translation, check out the polyglot Bible, in English, Hebrew, Latin and Greek, at the Sacred Texts Archive online.

    BREVISSIMA: The distich poster for today is Exempla Optima. Click here for a full-sized view.

    And here are today's proverbial LOLcats:

    Frangit inertia vires.
    Laziness saps your strength.

    Nimium breves flores rosae.
    Too brief are the flowers of the rose.


    MILLE FABULAE: The English translation for today from the Mille Fabulae et Una book is Leo et Unicornis, a story about a treacherous lion and a trusting unicorn.

    PHAEDRI FABULAE: The illustrated fable from Phaedrus for today is Vulpis ad personam tragicam, a story about good looks: Latin text and Smart's translation.

    STEINHOWEL: The illustrated fable from Steinhowel for today is de fure malo et sole, a story about evils that multiply: Latin text and English versions.

    Archaeology Magazine

    Ancient Shipwrecks Discovered in Alexandria’s Harbor

    Egypt crystal headALEXANDRIA, EGYPT—Ahram Online reports that three Roman shipwrecks and an ancient Egyptian barque dedicated to Osiris were discovered in ancient Alexandria’s eastern harbor in the Mediterranean Sea. Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, said the joint team of researchers, made up of scientists from the ministry’s department of underwater archaeology and the European Institute of Underwater Archaeology, recovered a crystal head thought to represent Marc Antony, and gold coins dating to the reign of Emperor Augustus. Wooden beams and pottery may represent the site of a fourth shipwreck. To read about another discovery in Egypt, go to “World’s Oldest Port.”

    Viking King’s Bones Recreated With 3-D Printer

    Gorm the OldJELLING, DENMARK—Science Nordic reports that the heavily damaged bones of a Danish Viking king, Gorm the Old, have been 3-D printed by a team led by archaeologist Adam Bak of the National Museum of Denmark. Gorm the Old died in A.D. 958, and he is thought to have been buried in at least one other location before his remains were deposited under the floor of Jelling Church, where they were recovered in 1978. Computer tomography scans were made of the bones before they were reburied in 2000. The new 3-D model has been adjusted to correct the pressure damage that occurred during the long period of the burial, according to Marie Louise Jørkov of the University of Copenhagen. “We can then re-analyze the skeleton and study the bones to look for any signs of disease, which can’t be seen at the surface,” she said. The reconstruction of the flattened skull revealed a lump on the back of the king’s head, which may have been caused by a load on the muscles and ligaments connected to the protuberance. “It can best be compared to a bunion,” concluded Carsten Reidies Bjarkam of Aarhus University. For more on the Vikings of Denmark, go to “Bluetooth's Fortress.”

    Neanderthals Appear to Have Lasted Longer in Southern Spain

    Spain Neanderthal survivalBARCELONA, SPAIN—Neanderthals may have survived in parts of Spain for 3,000 years longer than they did in the rest of Western Europe, according to a Newsweek report. An international team of researchers working at three newly discovered Neanderthal sites in southern Iberia recovered stone tools thought to have been used about 37,000 years ago. João Zilhão of the University of Barcelona said Neanderthals are thought to have gone extinct in northern Spain and southern France between 40,000 and 42,000 years ago. He suggests the Ebro River acted as an effective barrier to the migration of modern humans into the region. For more on Neanderthals in Spain, go to “Neanderthal Medicine Chest.”

    Noel Tan (The Southeast Asian Archaeology Newsblog)

    Cambodia, Myanmar back tourism deal

    via Khmer Times, 21 November 2017: Plans to create direct flights between Bagan and Angkor Cambodia and Myanmar sign a memorandum of understanding to promote tourism. Source: Cambodia, Myanmar back tourism deal – Khmer Times

    November 21, 2017

    L’Association Française pour l’étude de l’âge du Fer (Le Blog de l'AFEAF)

    La céramique de la fin de l’âge du Fer dans le Berry. Approche chronologique, culturelle et territoriale de la société des Bituriges (IIe-Ier s. av. J.-C.)

    La céramique de la fin de l’âge du Fer dans le Berry. Approche chronologique, culturelle et territoriale de la société des Bituriges (IIe-Ier s. av. J.-C.), par Marion Bouchet,  67e supplément à la RACF en co-édition avec ARCHEA. Toutes les informations concernant cette parution sont ici :

    Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

    Newly Open Access Journal: Archäologischen Anzeiger

    Archäologischen Anzeiger
    ISSN: 0003-8105
    Bild auf der Startseite der Zeitschrift
    Im Archäologischen Anzeiger (AA) werden Kurzbeiträge zu aktuellen Forschungen und Berichte über Grabungsprojekte des DAI sowie von Fachkollegen weltweit publiziert. Schwerpunktmäßig informiert die Zeitschrift über Themen aus dem Mittelmeerraum von der Vorgeschichte bis in die Spätantike, durchaus aber auch über Projekte außerhalb des Kernbereichs der Alten Welt. ISSN: 0003-8105

    Der Archäologische Anzeiger erscheint seit 1889, zunächst als Beiblatt zum Jahrbuch des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts (JdI), dann als eigenständige Zeitschrift in verschiedener Ausstattung. Seit Jahrgang 2002 werden jährlich zwei Halbbände veröffentlicht. In den Jahrgängen 2008–2012 erschien zusätzlich zu den beiden Halbbänden mit den Autorenbeiträgen ein Beiheft, das den Jahresbericht des DAI separat enthält. Neu ist seit Jahrgang 2008 der Druck der Zeitschrift in Farbe.

    Digitale Ausgaben


    2. Halbband 2015

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    Newly Open Access Journal: Chiron: Mitteilungen der Kommission für Alte Geschichte und Epigraphik des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts

    Chiron: Mitteilungen der Kommission für Alte Geschichte und Epigraphik des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts
    ISSN: 0069-3715
    Bild auf der Startseite der Zeitschrift
    Mitteilungen der Kommission für Alte Geschichte und Epigraphik. Im Chiron werden Aufsätze aus dem gesamten Gebiet der Alten Geschichte, einschließlich Epigraphik, Papyrologie und historische Topographie, veröffentlicht.

    Digitale Ausgaben


    Bd. 44 (2014)

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    AMIR: Access to Mideast and Islamic Resources

    Abjad Calculator - tool for calculating the numerical abjad value of a string of Arabic or Persian text.

    Abjad Calculator
    Abjad Calculator is web tool for calculating the numerical abjad value of a string of Arabic or Persian text.
    It was developed by Theo Beers , PhD candidate, University of Chicago.

    Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

    Egypt retrieves ancient artefacts from Cyprus

    ncient Egyptian items due to
    return home from Cyprus soon. 
    Image Credit: Ministry of Antiquities
    Ramadan Al Sherbini, 'Egypt retrieves ancient artifacts from Cyprus' Gulf News November 20, 2017
    Ancient Egyptian artifacts, smuggled out of the country more than three decades ago, will soon return home from Cyprus, an official at the Ministry of Antiquities said on Monday. “The ministry has succeeded through diplomatic and legal efforts to prove that these pieces left Egypt illegally and reached Cyprus in 1986,” Shaaban Abdul Jawad, the director of the retrieved antiquities department, added in a press statement. [...] They include an alabaster vase carrying the name of the 19th dynasty Pharaoh Ramses II and 13 amulets of different shapes and sizes including those of sacred emblems and statutes, Abdul Jawad added. “Recovery of these pieces comes as hard evidence that the Ministry of Antiquities spares no efforts in order to restore Egypt’s stolen and smuggled antiquities and protect its cultural possessions,” said Abdul Jawad.
    I don't know about that alabaster but that crude ceramic shabti with a large winged scarab on its breast does not look much like the real thing to me. What is the point of gathering all this bazaar archaeology in Egyptian stores? What can be done with it?

    UPDATE 21.11.17
    The question will not go away (Ahram)

    Come on, get serious guys...

    Illegal Antiquities Trade Robbing Indonesia of History

    The head 'just happened to come off',
    and such heads 'just happen'
    to be very collectable...
    The illegal antiquities trade is robbing Indonesia of its history and millions of dollars ( Adi Renaldi, Indonesia Can't Stop Its Illegal Treasure Hunters', Vice Nov 21 2017) In the Central Java district of Sukoharjo looters are willing to pay local farmers as much as Rp 3 million ($222 USD) a day for the right to dig for buried treasures on the site of a protected ancient Buddhist temple there under the cover of darkness.
    The money is a vital windfall for the village's rice farmers, who would typically make nothing off their paddies during the dry season. But it's also proven to be a difficult crime to prosecute. And with little risk of being caught there are few reasons for farmers in Joho village to not offer their fields up to cashed-up treasure hunters. "I know nothing about the heritage," one farmer, a man named Mariman, told the Jakarta Post. "Someone says they want to rent my field... I just allow them."
    These looters are of course by no means 'subsistence diggers' but professional culture thieves, corrupting landowners by offering money for loot, no-questions-asked. Dealers and their lobbyists insist that offering landowners subsidies of some kind so they can have what they call 'a living wage' fail to explain how such a system would actually work in practice. A farmer can claim a subsidy by day, and still close his eyes to what happens in his fields at night and get payment for that too. The antiquities vanish into a murky black market with very little chance that they can be successfully  recovered by authorities. The article details other sites where material has been removed, and museum thefts.
    Rosinta Hutauruk, the spokesperson for UNESCO's Indonesia office, told VICE. "The illicit trade in cultural objects continues to increase because there's stable demand," she said. [...] These antiquities typically pass through multiple sellers, crossing international borders before then end up in the hands of wealthy private collectors and museums. The Archeological Institute of America estimates that as much as 90 percent of the artifacts sold on the legal market don't have any paperwork listing where, and how, they were discovered. Add in the fact that the black market for stolen antiquities is also full of forgeries and it's easy to see how difficult it is to track down missing artifacts like those that vanished from rice paddies in Joho village. [...] once Indonesia's historical artifacts go missing, they may be lost forever.
    What is needed, it is obvious to everyone (including one suspects the dealers and their lobbyists who are opposed to it), is increased transparency of the international antiquities market, and greater accountability on where items are coming from and going.  Only in this way will the gaping jaws of this voracious commerce be closed to the peddlers of illicit and freshly-surfaced (from underground) items.

    Archaeological News on Tumblr

    Lost medieval village discovered in Denmark

    The site of a village described in written sources from the Middle Ages has been found by...

    Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)


     [First posted on AWOL 29 March 2009. Updated 21 November 2017]

    ISSN: 1105-1639
    eISSN: 1791-4884
    ΒΥΖΑΝΤΙΝΑ SΥΜΜΕΙΚΤΑ is an international peer-reviewed open-access electronic journal published by the Institute for Byzantine Research (IBR) of the National Hellenic Research Foundation (NHRF). It provides a forum for the publication of original research in the field of Byzantine studies. We invite articles from a broad range of fields within Byzantine studies, and are especially interested in promoting interdisciplinary approaches. ΒΥΖΑΝΤΙΝΑ SΥΜΜΕΙΚΤΑ also publishes book reviews in Byzantine Studies. The Ιnternational Editorial Advisory Board appointed every four years as well as the rigorous publication procedures ensure the journal maintains a high standard of scholarship. Taking advantage of the capabilities of open-,source publishing software ΒΥΖΑΝΤΙΝΑ SΥΜΜΕΙΚΤΑ provides free access to high-quality scholarly research to everyone, and helps maximize the impact of research. A fully electronic publication management system ensures a speedy process, and offers authors the ability to follow the progress of their manuscripts through the publication process. Revised manuscripts of accepted articles are published immediately upon submission of the final version. Each volume comprises the total of the articles published during the year. A print edition appears at the end of every year. The Greek Documentation Center (EKT), also part of the NHRF, provides publication management and technical support for the electronic publication of BYZANTINA SΥΜΜΕΙΚΤΑ.
    Current volume:

    Table of Contents


    Anagnostis AGELARAKIS

    Ελισάβετ ΜΑΔΑΡΙΑΓΑ



    Giovanna CARBONARO


    Anthony KALDELLIS


    George KARDARAS

    Κωνσταντίνα ΓΕΡΟΛΥΜΟΥ


    Grigorios PAPAGIANNIS

    Book Reviews

    Κωνσταντίνος ΧΡΥΣΟΓΕΛΟΣ
    προσωρ. σελιδαρίθμ

    Roger Pearse (Thoughts on Antiquity, Patristics, putting things online, and more)

    Origen, Commentary on Matthew, book 16 now online and in English

    A kind message informs me that David Gohl’s translation of the remaining books of Origen’s Commentary on Matthew (which I discussed here) has now reached book 16.  He has translated this, and uploaded it for comment to here.

    Excellent news!  Grab your copy while it’s hot!

    Archaeological News on Tumblr

    6,000-year-old monument offers a tantalizing glimpse of Britain's neolithic civilization

    This summer, the University of Reading Archaeology Field School excavated one of the most...

    Archaeologists find Roman shipwrecks off Egypt's north coast

    Egypt says archaeologists have discovered three sunken shipwrecks dating back more than 2,000 years...

    Persepolis Fortification Archive Project

    Persepolis Tablets in the News

    Beginning January 1, 2007, the blog will have another page covering Persepolis in the News, but not related to the Persepolis Fortification Archive. The latter will continue to be listed here

    Newest articles at the top: 
    NEWS  /   November 21, 2017
    The University’s Oriental Institute (OI) is involved in an ongoing Supreme Court case in which American terrorist victims are seeking compensation from the Iranian government through seizing Iranian artifacts from the OI and the Field Museum.

    In September 1997, three suicide bombers associated with the Palestinian terrorist group, Hamas, carried out an attack on a shopping mall in Jerusalem. Among those affected were eight United States citizens, who later filed a civil action case in a U.S. court against the government of Iran and its involvement in providing financial support to the bombers.
    By Pete Williams
    JUN 27 2017, 11:30 AM ET
    The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to take up a long running legal battle over a claim by victims of terrorism to Iranian antiquities held in a Chicago museum...
    Restitution of Persepolis Collection Expected
    Wednesday, January 04, 2017 
    Financial Tribune Daily 
    Efforts on returning Iran's centuries-old stone tablets will soon pay off, an official at Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization said.
    "The tablets—known as the Persepolis Collection—were taken out of country at different periods of time and under different excuses," said Mohammad Reza Kargar, director of the Museums and Historical Moveable Properties Office at ICHHTO, IRNA reported.  "Restitution of the tablets has been a controversial issue, but the saga is nearing its end now."
    While historical objects taken of a country can be tracked via various channels, such as Interpol, the process is long and complex as it requires the plaintiff to first provide proof of ownership and then supply evidence that the objects were taken out illegally.
    "Even more, the process is costly," Kargar said.
    The Persepolis Collection includes about 30,000 clay tablets and fragments that Iran loaned to the Oriental Institute in 1937 for research, translation and cataloguing. It contains 300 tablets dating back to the Achaemenid era (550–330 BC), which are impressed in cuneiform and record administrative details of the ancient Persian Empire.
    Eight Americans injured in a Hamas suicide bombing in 1997 and their families had moved to seize the artifacts to satisfy a US court ruling that Iran owed the victims $71.5 million for its alleged involvement in the attack.
    However, several US-based media, including the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, reported last summer that the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Field Museum of Natural History and the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute are not required to turn over the antiquities to the eight victims.
    Kargar noted that Iran is awaiting one more court ruling related to the Persepolis Collection, "which is expected to be in our favor". A large haul of Iran’s stolen artifacts have been repatriated over the past two years. A shipment of 349 ancient relics was returned from Belgium in December 2014 after 33 years, following a ruling by a court in Brussels.
    In April 2015, over 100 historical artifacts taken from the archeological site of Choghamish in Khuzestan Province were returned by the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute, after The Hague in the Netherlands ruled in favor of Iran and obliged the US to repatriate the objects. In July 2015, the government in Rome returned a shipment of 30 relics dating back to the pre-Islamic era, while about 73 smuggled relics, including seal impressions from the Sassanid era (224–651), were returned to Tehran in May.
    Iran’s cultural heritage officials have urged Iranian expats to report stolen Iranian artifacts to help bring the relics back home. They have been called upon to use the online portal,, to share information they may have regarding Iranian stolen artifacts.

    Terror attack victims will not be allowed to seize ancient Persian artifacts, will need to seek other remedy
    Cook County Record
    Deana Carpenter Aug. 4, 2016, 4:45pm 
    CHICAGO — In a rare case, a museum collection will not be used to satisfy a judgment against another nation - in this case, the country of Iran, which has been accused of having sponsored a 1997 terrorist attack in Jerusalem in which eight Americans were injured.

    On July 19, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Chicago's Field Museum and the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute are not required to return ancient Persian artifacts over to the victims of the attack.
    The artifacts, if turned over, would have helped to satisfy a judgment of $71.5 million against Iran.
    The appeals court upheld a lower court's ruling that the survivors of the 1997 terrorist attack, which has been blamed partly on Iran, cannot seize the Persian antiquities which include a large Persepolis Fortification tablet with cuneiform text from more than 2,000 years ago.
    The Americans who had sued Iran were injured in the September 1997 Hamas suicide bombing in which bombers, affiliated with the Palestinian group Hamas, detonated suicide bombs in a pedestrian mall in Jerusalem.
    “This is a rare case,” said Derek Fincham, Associate Professor of Law at the Houston College of Law.
    He said using museum or university collections to satisfy judgments has rarely been successful.
    “The 7th Circuit in this case had already denied the plaintiff’s efforts to secure the judgments," he said. "In other words, they won on the merits because Iran did not contest the case."
    The ruling was formally a denial of an en banc rehearing, or a hearing before all the judges of the appeals court, by a larger number of the 7th Circuit judges, not just the three judge panel that decided the earlier case.
    “En banc appeals are rarely successful, because three judges have already decided the case and rarely will a case merit the full complement of appeals court judges in any circuit,” Fincham said.
    Two of the four collections of artifacts sought by the victims are not owned by Iran, the court stated. The country does own a third collection, but in 1970 the Oriental Institute returned most of those artifacts under the advice of the U.S. State Department.
    A fourth collection, which includes approximately 30,000 clay tablets and segments, was loaned to the Oriental Institute for research from Iran in the 1930s.
    The court wrote that the collection is owned by Iran and is in the possession of the University of Chicago and are immune from attachment and execution as property of a foreign state under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.
    “Plaintiffs will always be concerned with how they can get paid when they win, but that is exceedingly hard when as in this case, Iran did not even participate in the litigation as a defendant,” Fincham said.
    He said it is a unique situation where the defendant must not really have any commercial relationship with the United States for it to work.
    “I think the case was rightly decided. A ruling otherwise would have had devastating consequences for the loan of artwork and study collections at museums and universities,” Fincham said.
    Fincham said the tablets are an important research collection, but doesn’t suspect that any of the tablets are display quality.
    “Rather, they tell us valuable information about Persepolis, the ancient city, and the Persian culture,” Fincham said.
    The market value of the tablets is unsure, but there are thousands of fragments.
    “Had they been sold, they would have probably gone to private collectors who may not have been able to care for them, study them or even preserve them as a set so they can be studied,” Fincham said.
    Fincham said the court’s decision was a good result for the artifacts in question.
    “The poor victims of the attacks, though, will have to seek a remedy some other way,” he said.

    Ancient Treasures Shouldn't Be Compensation for Terror Victims

    A federal appeals court has ruled that terrorism victims can’t seize priceless Iranian artifacts held by the University of Chicago in fulfillment of a judgment against the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is a good decision in practical terms, but it was tailor-made to protect the collection and the university. And it creates a conflict with another Court of Appeals, opening the door to potential Supreme Court review.

    The case arose as a result of a lawsuit by family members of victims of a 1997 Hamas suicide bombing in Jerusalem. The victims’ families sued Iran on the theory that it supported Hamas. Iran didn’t appear to defend itself in the suit, and a federal court awarded the families a $71.5 million, which hasn’t been paid.

    The families’ lawyers have been looking around the country for assets belonging to the government of Iran that they could attach, seize and sell to get the damages they are owed. Advisedly or not, they decided to go after four collections of antiquities that supposedly belonged to Iran but are held by Chicago-area museums.

    The case ended up in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. It first took three of the four collections out of the case, in two instances because it held they didn’t actually belong to Iran, and in the other because the collection was physically returned to Iran by the University of Chicago.
    That left the Persepolis collection, one of the great caches of literary artifacts from the ancient world. In 1930, the Shah of Iran lent the collection of tablets to the University of Chicago for study. It remains in the Oriental Institute of the university, where it has garnered significant scholarly attention and helped produce important scholarship on ancient Iran.

    In general, a foreign government’s assets can’t be seized in the U.S. in fulfillment of a judgment. That’s a basic principle derived from the doctrine of sovereign immunity, which says that states can’t be dragged into court without their permission.

    But sovereign immunity has exceptions -- and the families pointed to two possible exceptions in support of their claim to seize the antiquities.

    One exception is for property used in commercial activity. The Seventh Circuit could have simply held that studying ancient tablets in the university setting isn’t commercial activity. (In fact, as someone originally trained in a faculty of Oriental studies, I can’t imagine a less commercial activity on earth.)... [Read the rest]

    Seventh Circuit Denies Terror Victims' Claim to Persian Artifacts
    Zoe Tillman, The National Law Journal
    July 21, 2016

    American victims of a 1997 terrorist bombing can't claim ancient Persian artifacts held at the University of Chicago to satisfy a multimillion-dollar judgment against Iran for its role in the attack, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled.
    A three-judge panel found on July 19 that there is no "freestanding" exception in state-sponsored terrorism cases to the immunity that shields foreign governments under U.S. law. The Seventh Circuit's decision conflicts with the Ninth Circuit, which held earlier this year that there was such an exception.
    The circuit split sets the stage for possible review by the U.S. Supreme Court. Last year, the justices ruled in a state-sponsored terrorism case, finding that victims with judgments against Iran could collect nearly $2 billion in Iranian assets held in a U.S. bank.

    At issue in the Seventh Circuit case is a collection of approximately 30,000 clay tablets from the ancient Persian city of Persepolis. Iran in 1937 loaned the Persepolis Collection to the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute, where it remains.

    The plaintiffs — victims of a 1997 bombing in Jerusalem and their families — won a $71.5 million default judgment in federal court in Washington, D.C. Iran doesn't usually participate in terror litigation in U.S. courts and did not pay the judgment. Iran owes hundreds of billions of dollars in judgments in state-sponsored terrorism cases.
    Lawyers for the plaintiffs went to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to claim what they contended were Iranian assets within the court's jurisdiction — the Persian artifacts at the University of Chicago. They claimed other collections at the university and the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago as well, but those are no longer part of the case.

    Foreign governments are generally granted immunity against civil claims in U.S. courts, but there are exceptions, including in terrorism cases. The Seventh Circuit panel said the federal Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act did not include a "freestanding" exception in terrorism cases, agreeing with arguments advanced by lawyers for the University of Chicago, Iran and the U.S. government.
    Judge Diane Sykes, writing for the panel, said plaintiffs had to meet the criteria of other exceptions under the immunities law. The plaintiffs argued the artifacts fell under a "commercial activity" exception, but the court disagreed, finding that the Iranian government wasn't using the artifacts for commercial purposes in the United States.

    Seventh Circuit Judge William Bauer and Chief Judge Michael Reagan of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, sitting by special designation, joined the decision.

    Asher Perlin of Florida Professional Law Group in Hollywood, Florida, who argued for the plaintiffs, said in an email that they are weighing options for "further review."

    "Obviously we are disappointed with the majority's decision," Perlin said.

    Baker & McKenzie partner Matthew Allison argued for the University of Chicago. MoloLamken founding partner Jeffrey Lamken argued for Iran. Neither was reached for comment on Wednesday.
    A full sitting of the Seventh Circuit won't hear the case. Given the split with the Ninth Circuit and the fact that the court reversed earlier precedent, the case went before all active judges for a vote. But five of the 10 active judges recused — Chief Judge Diane Wood and Judges Richard Posner and Frank Easterbook teach at the University of Chicago; Judges Ilana Rovner and Joel Flaum had other conflicts — so an en banc sitting was not possible.

    Judge David Hamilton dissented from the denial of en banc review. He wrote that the immunities law was ambiguous and that the Ninth Circuit reached the right conclusion.

    "We must choose one side or the other," Hamilton wrote. "The balance here should weigh in favor of the reading that favors the victims. We should not attribute to Congress an intent to be so solicitous of state sponsors of terrorism, who are also undeserving beneficiaries of the unusual steps taken by the Rubin panel."

    By Patricia Manson
    Law Bulletin staff writer
    July 20, 2016

    A federal appeals court Tuesday declined to clear the way for victims of a terrorist attack financed by Iran to use ancient Persian artifacts to help satisfy a $71.5 million judgment against that nation.
    The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held the Field Museum of Natural History and the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute are not required to turn over the antiquities to the eight victims.
    Iran does not own two of the four collections sought by the victims, a panel of the court wrote.
    Iran owns a third collection, the panel wrote, but the Oriental Institute returned most of those artifacts in 1970 and the remainder within the last two years at the direction of the U.S. State Department.
    The fourth collection includes about 30,000 clay tablets and fragments that Iran loaned to the Oriental Institute in 1937 for research, translation and cataloguing, the panel wrote.
    The Persepolis Collection, it wrote, is owned by Iran and is in the possession of the University of Chicago.
    But as the property of a foreign state, these artifacts are immune from attachment and execution, the panel held, citing the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.
    The panel conceded there are exceptions to this general rule.
    A litigant seeking to satisfy a judgment against a foreign state may take property “used for a commercial activity in the United States,” Judge Diane S. Sykes wrote for the panel, quoting Section 1610(a) of the FSIA.
    However, she wrote, Iran has not used the artifacts in the Persepolis Collection for any commercial purpose.
    Citing Bennett v. Islamic Republic of Iran, Nos. 13-15442 and 15-16100, 2016 WL 3257780 (9th Cir. June 14, 2016), the panel also conceded that the 9th Circuit in San Francisco last month held that Section 1610(g) of the FSIA allows victims of state-sponsored terrorism to attach assets even if they are not used for commercial purposes.
    It disagrees with the 9th Circuit’s ruling that Section 1610(g) is a freestanding exception to execution immunity, the panel wrote.
    The panel noted that the 9th Circuit’s majority cited two 7th Circuit decisions — Gates v. Syrian Arab Republic, 755 F.3d 568 (7th Cir. 2014), and Wyatt v. Syrian Arab Republic, 800 F.3d 331 (7th Cir. 2015) — to bolster its holding in Bennett.
    “To the extent that Gates and Wyatt can be read as holding that Section 1610(g) is a freestanding exception to execution immunity for terrorism-related judgments, they are overruled,” Sykes wrote.
    Joining the opinion were Judge William J. Bauer and Chief U.S. District Judge Michael J. Reagan of the Central District of Illinois, who sat on the 7th Circuit by designation.
    Because its opinion overrules 7th Circuit precedent and conflicts with the 9th Circuit’s ruling on the issue, the panel wrote, it circulated its opinion to all the active judges on the court to consider the possibility of a rehearing en banc.
    But Chief Judge Diane P. Wood and Judges Richard A. Posner, Joel M. Flaum, Frank H. Easterbrook and Ilana Diamond Rovner did not participate, the panel wrote, and therefore a majority of the active judges did not vote for the entire court to rehear the case.
    The panel did not say why the five judges did not participate.
    Judge David F. Hamilton did not serve on the panel, but he used a dissent from the denial of en banc review to object to the panel’s holding.
    The text of Section 1610(g) is ambiguous and, therefore, both the 7th Circuit’s and the 9th Circuit’s interpretations of that provision are reasonable, Hamilton wrote.
    “The courts must choose between two statutory readings: [O]ne that favors state sponsors of terrorism and another that favors the victims of that terrorism,” he wrote.
    Congress, he wrote, has extended the remedies for such victims over the years.
    “The balance here should weigh in favor of the reading that favors the victims,” he wrote.
    The plaintiffs were among the 200 people who were injured when three Hamas suicide bombers blew themselves up in Jerusalem in September 1997. Five other people were killed.
    The plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in federal court in Washington, D.C., seeking damages against Iran, which financed Hamas, and several individuals.
    In 2003, they were awarded $71.5 million in damages in a default judgment against Iran. The judgment amounted to more than $400 million when the punitive damages the individual defendants were ordered to pay were included.
    The plaintiffs have attempted to collect the judgment against Iran by seeking to attach its assets in the United States.
    In the lawsuit filed in federal court in Chicago, U.S. District Judge Robert W. Gettleman held there are no exceptions in either the FSIA or the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 that allow the plaintiffs to attach the museum exhibits.
    The 7th Circuit panel agreed with Gettleman.
    The insurance act, the panel wrote, allows terrorism victims who obtain a judgment against the offending nation to execute on assets that are “blocked” by executive order under certain international sanction provisions.
    But there is no executive order blocking the artifacts sought by the plaintiffs, the panel wrote.
    Asher Perlin of Florida Professional Law Group PLLC in Hollywood, Fla., argued the case before the 7th Circuit on behalf of the plaintiffs.
    Matthew G. Allison of Baker & McKenzie LLP argued the case on behalf of the museums.
    Jeffrey A. Lamken of MoloLamken LLP in Washington, D.C., argued the case on behalf of the Iranian government.
    Benjamin M. Schultz of the U.S. Justice Department in Washington argued the case on behalf of the government. The United States took part in the case as amicus curiae supporting the position of Iran and the museums.
    Justice Department spokeswoman Nicole A. Navas declined to comment.
    Oriental Institute Director Gil J. Stein said he is pleased with the ruling.
    “While the university abhors the acts of terrorism that lead to this proceeding, the artifacts at issue here are not subject to attachment under either the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act or the Terrorism Risk and Insurance Act,” he wrote in an e-mail. “The Institute looks forward to continuing its research on the Persepolis Collection, artifacts which provide unparalleled insight into the history and languages of the Persian Empire around 500 B.C.”
    The Field Museum and the attorneys either did not have an immediate comment or could not be reached for comment.
    The case is Jenny Rubin, et al. v. Islamic Republic of Iran; Field Museum of Natural History, et al., Respondents, No. 14-1935.

    Cultural Heritage Lawyer Rick St. Hillaire reports on the Gettleman decision

    "The Law Cited by Plaintiffs Does Not Offer the Remedy They Seek" - Rubin v. Iran

    Thursday, April 3, 2014
    "The court recognizes the tragic circumstances that gave rise to the instant action, but finds that the law cited by plaintiffs does not offer the remedy they seek." With these words, Judge Robert Gettleman ended the Northern District of Illinois case of Jenny Rubin, et al. v. Islamic Republic of Iran, et al. v. The University of Chicago and The Field Museum of Natural History.

    The case involves American victims of a Hamas suicide bombing in Jerusalem in 1997. A federal judge in Washington, DC in 2003 awarded the plaintiffs a $71.5 million default judgment against Iran, holding that country to be responsible for the attack. One way the plaintiffs have sought to collect the judgment is to acquire ancient Iranian artifacts at prominent American Museums, including Chicago's Oriental Institute (OI) and The Field Museum, through attachment. [Read the rest]

    Judge: Persian artifacts can't be used to pay survivors of attack
      Tribune reporter

    The University of Chicago and The Field Museum won’t have to turn over ancient Persian artifacts in their possession to help resolve a legal settlement owed to survivors of a terrorist attack, a federal judge has ruled.

    In a long-running court battle, nine American victims of the 1997 attack in Jerusalem sued Iran, where the artifacts were excavated, for being a financial supporter of Hamas, the Palestinian extremist group.

    The victims won a multimillion-dollar court judgment.

    To collect on that, attorneys for the plaintiffs have been trying to gain control of Iranian assets in the United States, including artifacts the Chicago museum has had for decades, according to the ruling.

    In Thursday’s decision, U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman held that the plaintiffs’ argument was flawed because there was no evidence that Iran has asserted ownership over the collections.

    “The court recognizes the tragic circumstances that gave rise to the instant action, but finds the law cited by the plaintiffs does not offer the remedy they seek,” Gettleman said in the decision.

    Keepers of the Chicago collections said the pieces were priceless and welcomed the court’s ruling.

    “These ancient artifacts...have unique historical and cultural value,” said Gil Stein, director of the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute in a statement. The university “will continue our efforts to preserve and protect this cultural heritage,” he said.

    David Strachman, an attorney for the victims who brought the lawsuit, said his clients were particularly upset that the U.S. State Department “takes the side of Iran in these cases.”
    See the text of the judgement: 

    Archive.ology: start with (clay) dinosaur bones, spice with love
    By A.J. Cave
    Dr. Matthew Stolper

    Once upon a time people used something called paper for writing all sorts of things, from love letters to secret sauce formulas to stockholder reports. It was when writing was just word-winding. 

    They say some hyper competitive Silicon Valley companies (there was no other known kind) even went as far as hiring detectives to sort through paper trash of their competitors to patch together highly guarded business secrets.

    This paper was made of trees that grew wild in the nature-in places people of old used to call forests. There were all sorts of round trees and all kinds of flat paper.
    Something called deforestation saw to the end of these green forests and paper became rare and eventually extinct.

    People didn’t stop writing, they wrote even more. But instead of real paper, they started to use old software programs that nostalgically looked like pages of white paper on computer screens, but they were really nothing more than zeroes and ones, stored on primitive hard drives.

    As everyone knows those clunky computers eventually became obsolete too when we started to use glasses and tablets and watches and other things to record our blinkings and doings and thinkings.

    Now and then one of those ancient paper archives called Libraries that have miraculously survived shredders and recyclers are discovered here and there. Page-turning paper-lovers from all over the world immediately converge on the discovery pits to make sure these antiquated archives don’t turn into dust during excavations...


    ...In 2006 Dr. Matthew Stolper, one of handful of specialists on Elamite language in the world, cleared his plate, assembled a stellar team of scholars from a number of American and European universities, embarked on the never-ending quest for (much) needed grants, and took on the emergency task of digitization of the Achaemenid archive-known as the Persepolis Fortification Archive Project (PFAP).
    And here we are. 

    Under Matt Stolper’s steadfast watch and with the moral support of his faithful friend, Baxter the Beast, the initial phase of cleaning, conserving and digitizing the archive is finally reaching critical mass and the next phase of making sense of the mass of generated data is kicking in-the old sprinkling of the water of life on dead bones.

    In the process, surprising new discoveries have come to light, among them finding the footprint of Udusana (Greek: Atossa), the quintessential Achaemenid royal woman (queen), who, according to the classical writers, was the eldest daughter of Cyrus the Great, the chief wife of Darius the Great, and the powerful mother of Xerxes (Persian: Xsayarsa, or Khshayarsha). Triple Crown of Persian royalty.
    These Persian administrative records, roughly 30,000 or so pieces from a single archive, dating from 509 to 493 BCE (from 13th to 28th regnal years of Darius the Great, about 16 years, with some references to the 7th regnal year)-conceptually likened to the bones of a dinosaur-have led to not just an understanding of the routine imperial administrative infrastructure, but all sorts of interesting things like art, language, religion, and society of the Persian Achaemenid Empire, that was unknowable merely from the traditional biblical and classical sources.

    The sort of raw data that the large cuneiform archives like the Persepolis Fortification Archive have been yielding is “Big Data”-datasets that are getting too big to process using classical computing techniques. Big Data is now being used in computer technology circles to refer to the latest advances in aggregating massive amounts of data from various sources and enabling researchers to mine and map data in amazing new ways-see what no one has seen before, ask questions no one has answered yet.

    On the academic side of the coin, Big Data research will eventually exponentially expand the newly-minted field of Digital Humanities.

    While virtualization and visualization of archival data from the Achaemenid royal chancelleries will not give us historical answers-at least not to what we think-it will, however, provide a richer context for understanding and interpreting the Big Data we have accidentally inherited and luckily recovered.

    This Big Data is also the playground of writers like me who troll the archival treasure troves for historical backstory to turn boring administrative records into sizzling stories about the adventurous lives and scandalous love affairs of the Persian royal sons and daughters-kings and their queens who once ruled the world-the real royal games of the only throne that really mattered. Masters of Asia.

    Achaemenid scholars have been spending years carefully reconstructing a clay dinosaur to restore Persians to the history of the world, and the Persian storytellers thankfully ride this paper-beast to restore the Persians to the story of the world.
    Dr. Stolper, now retired as of the end of 2013, is continuing as the head of the PFA Project, crisscrossing the globe on a mission to evangelize the immense impact of the ancient archive on Persian Achaemenid history and heritage.

    In recognition of his lifelong achievements and his tireless efforts in preserving and promoting the integration of knowledge from the Achaemenid Administrative Archives into mainstream classical and ancient Near Eastern (ANE) studies, there would be a celebration at the Oriental Institute tentatively scheduled for 28 April 2014.

    These types of events are normally planned for the local colleagues, students and patrons of the institute. This one, however, might just turn out to be a greater gathering of the friends of the Persepolis Fortification Archive Project, die-hard supporters of Persian history and heritage, and the who-is-who of the Persian Achaemenid studies.

    Tell Parnakka (probably the paternal uncle of Darius the Great and the first chief of the imperial administrative archives at Parsa) to order more Shiraz wine for the feast. Persians are coming.

    Iranian researcher renders inscriptions of Persepolis
    4 Nov 2013 14:19
    Iran Book News Agency
    Abdul Majid Arfaei, a professor of Ancient Near Eastern languages and cultures, has translated ‘The Inscriptions of Persepolis’ in four volumes which have been handed over to the Cultural Heritage Organization for publication. 
    IBNA: Abdul Majid Arfaei said he has finished translating 647 tablets, related to the era of Darius the Great, which were read by Richard Treadwell Hallock. The works are included in the first volume of the series.

    Richard Treadwell Hallock, Elamologist and Assyriologist, was a professor of Chicago University. The late professor, who read the bulk of the Persepolis Elamite tablets, died in 1980.

    The Iranian researcher has also translated 2,586 clay Achaemenid tablets into Persian and English which were rendered by Hallock.

    The work is also handed over to Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) for publication.

    The three other books of the ‘The Inscriptions of Persepolis’ will be published in Iran gradually.

    Arfaei, the renowned expert of Elamite, Avestan and Pahlavi languages, is the founder of the Inscriptions Hall of Iran’s National Museum and has written a number of books on Iranian history.

    He is the only Iranian Elamologist who worked under the supervision of Professor Hallock.

    Arfaei was the first person who translated the inscription of Cyrus Cylinder.

    The Iranian expert has also translated more than 2,500 Persepolis inscriptions, which are housed at Chicago University.

    CHTHO Chief in Pursuit of Iran’s Ancient Relics in New York Visit
    Fars News Agency
    Tue Sep 10, 2013 5:13
    TEHRAN (FNA)- Vice-president and head of the Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization (CHTHO) Mohammad Ali Najafi vowed to follow up the case with returning Iran’s ancient tablets during his upcoming visit to New York.
    “One of my programs during the visit to New York will be meeting with Chancellor of Chicago University to discuss the return of about 30,000 Achaemenid tablets which are now in New York to Iran …,” Najafi said, saying that his name has been included in the list of the delegation which will be accompanying Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in his upcoming visit to New York.

    President Rouhani will participate in the 68th annual meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York due to open on 17 September, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced earlier.

    In August, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon invited Iranian President Rouhani to participate in the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly in September.
    The tablets were discovered by the University of Chicago archaeologists in 1933 while they were excavating in Persepolis, the site of a major Oriental Institute excavation.

    The artifacts bear cuneiform script explaining administrative details of the Achaemenid Empire from about 500 BC. They are among a group of tens of thousands of tablets and tablet fragments that were loaned to the university's Oriental Institute in 1937 for study. A group of 179 complete tablets was returned in 1948, and another group of more than 37,000 tablet fragments was returned in 1951.

    In spring 2006, US District Court Judge Blanche Manning ruled that a group of people injured by a 1997 bombing in Israel could seize the 300 clay tablets loaned to the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute and the university cannot protect Iran's ownership rights to the artifacts.

    Following Iranian officials' protests against the ruling, the court was slated to reexamine the case on December 21, 2006, but the court session was postponed to January 19, 2007, allegedly due to the fact that Iran had not provided all the documents required by the court.
    The court session was held on the above-mentioned date, but no verdict was issued.
    Museum of London has voiced its support for the return of the collection of clay tablets to Iran as the owner of the artifacts.

    The Oriental Institute holds 8000 to 10,000 intact and about 11,000 fragmented tablets, as estimated by Gil Stein, the director of the university's Oriental Institute.

    Based on a bill approved by the Iranian parliament in 1930, foreign research institutes were allowed to conduct excavations at Iranian ancient sites exclusively or during joint projects with the Iranian government.

    Foreigners were also given permission to share the artifacts discovered during the excavation projects with Iranian team members and to transfer their share to their country.
    By the act, many Iranian artifacts were looted by foreign institutes working on Iranian ancient sites until the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

    The Field Museum of Natural History and the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute filed a motion for summary judgment last week seeking to end a case that has pitted victims of a terrorist attack against two Illinois museums and Iran. The Chicago-based institutions argue that the plaintiffs' wish to take museum "property that Iran neither owns nor has ever claimed." And regarding Persian artifacts owned by Iran but on loan to the museums, the museums say that the plaintiffs cannot take title to these objects in order to satisfy a court judgment. American lawyers representing Iran filed their own motion in agreement [Read the rest]

    First Circuit Rules in Favor of MFA and Harvard in Rubin v. Iran
    Thursday, February 28, 2013
    Rick St. Hilaire on his blog
    The First Circuit Court of Appeals on February 27, 2013 decided in favor of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) and Harvard’s museums in the case of Rubin v. Iran.

    The case involves victims of a 1997 Iranian-backed terrorist bombing who seek to satisfy a multi-million dollar default court judgment awarded to them in 2003. Since 2005 the Rubin plaintiffs have argued that approximately 2000 reliefs, sculptures, and other archaeological objects located at the MFA and Harvard are the property of Iran that can be seized.  The cultural institutions have been contesting that claim, and yesterday the First Circuit agreed.

    The appeals court decision extended its sympathies to the the plaintiffs, saying “we are mindful of the incident that gave rise to the judgment here and the difficulty the plaintiffs are having collecting on that judgment ….”  But the justices upheld “the general rule … that foreign sovereign property in the United States is immune from attachment and execution” because of the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act (FSIA). 28 U.S.C. § 1609.

    The appeals court acknowledged that the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 (TRIA) “carves out a narrow exception to that rule, applicable only to ‘blocked assets,’” but wrote that “the plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate that any of the antiquities in the Museums' possession fall within that exception.”

    The MFA and Harvard argued in the lower federal district court that Iran does not own the cultural objects. Even if they were owned by Iran, the MFA and Harvard maintained that the FSIA makes the objects immune from attachment...

    Federal Court Rejects Bid to Seize Iranian Antiquities at Harvard 
    February 28, 2013 - 3:00am
    Inside Higher Ed
    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled Wednesday that people injured by a terrorist attack financed by Iran cannot make a claim on Iranian antiquities held in a Harvard University museum. Several Americans with claims against Iran have tried to collect money owed by that nation by going after antiquities at various American institutions. But the appeals court ruled -- as other courts have ruled -- that there are very limited circumstances in which artifacts can be seized as assets, and that this is not one of them. The legal challenges to ownership of these antiquities have worried many museum officials who have feared that they would be unable to obtain loans of art from other countries if that art might be seized.
    The ruling:
    United States Court of Appeals For the First Circuit, No. 11-2144
    JENNY RUBIN, ET AL., Plaintiffs, Appellants, v. ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN, ET AL.,Defendants, HARVARD UNIVERSITY, ET AL., Trustees, Appellees.
    APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS [Hon. George A. O'Toole, U.S. District Judge] Before Howard, Stahl, and Lipez, Circuit Judges.
    February 27, 2013

    The meaning of "OF": The First Circuit Hears Oral Arguments in Rubin v. Iran
    Tuesday, December 4, 2012
    This post is researched, written, and published on the blog Cultural Heritage Lawyer Rick St. Hilaire at

    The First Circuit Court of Appeals today heard arguments about the meaning of the word "of" in the case of Rubin v. Iran.  The Rubin plaintiffs wish to seize "property of Iran" after receiving a multi-million dollar court judgment holding that country responsible for injuries caused by a terrorist attack.  The litigants have been unable to obtain payment; therefore, they seek to execute the judgment by taking ancient Iranian cultural artifacts housed at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) and the Harvard museums.  After losing their case in the lower federal district court, the plaintiffs appealed.

    The attorney for the plaintiffs/appellants told the judges today, "We don't really care, frankly, whether or not the property actually belongs to Iran." explaining "All we care about is whether the property is 'of Iran.'"  "What does the word 'of'' mean?," counsel asked.  He answered that "...the word 'of' does not always mean possession."...

    Humanities Day 2012: Oriental Institute’s Persian artifacts are subject of ongoing lawsuit

    Americans attempting to get redress from the Islamic Republic of Iran want to take possession of the artifacts, currently on loan at the Oriental Institute.

    For nearly 10 years, a lawsuit against the state of Iran has turned the Oriental Institute into a battleground over 2,500-year-old Persian artifacts.
    This past Saturday, Professor Matthew Stolper, head of the Institute’s Persepolis Fortification Archive Project, gave an update on what he called a “salvage excavation” and revealed the innovative technology that might decide the artifacts’ future.
    More than just “pieces of dirt that someone poked with sticks a very long time ago,” the archive is “the largest, the most complex, the best dated source of information from within the Persian Empire at its zenith,” Stolper said.
    The tens of thousands of fragments, pieces of old administrative records excavated from Persepolis ruins in the 1930s, have been a treasure chest for understanding Persian language, religion, daily life and politics.  “This loan was an extraordinary thing—an extraordinary act of trust,” Stolper said, since the Institute has been allowed to keep the artifacts on loan from Iran during the pending law suit.
    “A completely unique discovery is sent off to an American research institute and it is sent intact—it is sent as if they knew it was all one thing. This is almost without precedent in the annals of cultural study,” Stolper said.
    If the plaintiffs, Americans who lost relatives in 1997 terrorist attacks in Israel, win, the tablets may be sold and dispersed. If they lose, then Iran may demand the artifacts’ immediate return, according to Stolper. The plaintiffs were already awarded redress money that Iran refused to pay, so the plaintiffs are seeking this Iranian property in the U.S. as an alternative form of payment.
    Stolper took a moment to remind the audience that the plaintiffs had lost their loved ones in a terrorist attack and reacted within the legal channels granted by the judicial system. “There’s a tendency to say [about the lawsuit], ‘What a terrible barbaric thing,”” Stolper said. “The plaintiffs are not greedy barbarians. They are seeking redress.”
    The Institute has responded with innovative steps to preserve the artifacts, digitally and on the Internet. By publicly sharing infrared and photo-edited images of the tablets, alongside intensive linguistic analysis, the Institute is pushing archaeological record-keeping into the 21st century. “Sometimes the images are more useful than the original objects,” Stolper said.
    Stolper left his audience and future generations, he hopes, with a challenge. “If I can’t convince you it’s something you should be excited about, at least I can convince you it’s something one can be excited about,” he said.

    Cultural Heritage Lawyer Rick St. Hilaire comments on the status of Rubin et al. v. Islamic Republic of Iran

    Monday, July 9, 2012

    Rubin v. Iran Update: Illinois District Court Gets Case Back Following Supreme Court's Rejection of Appeal -- U.S. Files Amicus Brief in First Circuit Supporting Museums

    The case of Jenny Rubin, et al. v. Islamic Republic of Iran has been restarted in federal district court in Illinois (docket 03-cv-9370).  That is because the United States Supreme Court on June 25 declined to hear the Rubin plaintiffs' request to review the Seventh Circuit decision, which ruled against them. Justices Antonin Scalia and Elena Kagan did not participate in the decision.

    Rubin and the other plaintiffs are trying to recover a court-awarded money judgment against Iran for that nation's sponsorship of a deadly terrorist attack that harmed the parties.  They wish to acquire Persian artifacts located at Chicago's Field Museum and the University of Chicago in order execute the judgment. The case moved from the federal district court in northern Illinois to the circuit court of appeals.  The case was to be sent back to the district court by the appeals court, but the Rubin plaintiffs sought review by the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court has now returned the case to the district court, where a status hearing  is scheduled for July 18 at 3:00 p.m.

    In a companion case now in the First Circuit Court of Appeals, the same parties seek to acquire Persian artifacts held at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston and at Harvard.  The United States filed an amicus brief (i.e. friend of the court brief) on June 7 in support of the MFA, the Harvard museums, and Iran.

    Federal lawyers argue two points in their brief to the First Circuit.  They say that the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) does not authorize the attachment of property not owned by a terrorist state.  Second, the government asserts that Iranian property cannot be “contested” within the meaning of the Iranian Assets Control Regulations because "Iran itself has not articulated any claim to the property in question."

    The government writes:
    "The United States emphatically condemns the act of terrorism that grievously injured the plaintiffs, and has deep sympathy for their suffering. The United States remains committed to disrupting terrorist financing and to aggressively pursuing those responsible for committing terrorist acts against U.S. nationals. In addition, however, the United States has a strong interest in ensuring that courts properly interpret TRIA’s scope. Normally, unless a person obtains a license from the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), that person is barred from attaching assets that are blocked under various sanctions programs, such as the Iranian Assets Control Regulations."

    The lawyers add:
    "The district court found that Iran does not, in fact, own the assets in question. The United States takes no position on the question of ownership. If this Court affirms the district court’s holding, however, that ruling will also preclude attachment of the assets under TRIA. TRIA does not, as plaintiffs contend, permit them to attach the artifacts possessed by the Museums if those assets are not owned by Iran."

    The government concludes that the court "should hold that the Museums’ artifacts cannot be attached under TRIA unless the plaintiffs establish that Iran owns the artifacts. Additionally, if the Court reaches the issue, it should hold that an asset is
    not “contested” for purposes of [the Iranian Assets Control Regulations] unless Iran itself is claiming an interest in the asset."

     Cultural Heritage Lawyer Rick St. Hilaire comments on the status of Rubin et al. v. Islamic Republic of Iran

    Saturday, June 2, 2012

    Solicitor General Tells U.S. Supreme Court to Reject Rubin v. Iran Case

    Saying that the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals got it right, the US Solicitor General told the Supreme Court last week to reject the case of Rubin v. Iran. 
    Lawyers for Jenny Rubin and other injured litigants who won a judgment against Iran for its sponsorship of a 1997 terrorist attack have been trying to collect a multi-million dollar court award by attempting to seize ancient Persian artifacts located at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago and the Chicago Field Museum.  The Seventh Circuit on March 29, 2011 sent the case back to the federal district court in Illinois for review. But the Rubin plaintiffs instead sought review by the nation's highest court.  See here for more background

    Read the rest here

    Cultural Heritage Lawyer Rick St. Hilaire comments on the status of Rubin et al. v. Islamic Republic of Iran

    Friday, June 1, 2012

    Rubin v. Iran: Harvard Art Museums and Boston Museum of Fine Arts File Appellate Briefs in First Circuit

    "The order of the district court should be affirmed."  That is the simple conclusion written in the Harvard Art Museums' appellate brief filed yesterday in the case of Rubin et al. v. Islamic Republic of Iran v. Museum of Fine Arts and Harvard University et al.  The appeal is pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

    Read the rest here

     Cultural Heritage Lawyer Rick St. Hilaire comments on the status of Rubin et al. v. Islamic Republic of Iran

    Friday, June 1, 2012

    Rubin v. Iran: Harvard Art Museums and Boston Museum of Fine Arts File Appellate Briefs in First Circuit

    "The order of the district court should be affirmed."  That is the simple conclusion written in the Harvard Art Museums' appellate brief filed yesterday in the case of Rubin et al. v. Islamic Republic of Iran v. Museum of Fine Arts and Harvard University et al.  The appeal is pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

    Read the rest here

     Cultural Heritage Lawyer Rick St. Hilaire comments on the status of Rubin et al. v. Islamic Republic of Iran

    Thursday, March 29, 2012

    Rubin v. Iran Cases Move Forward in First Circuit and U.S. Supreme Court

    Photo credit: Alborzagros.  CC.

    Jenny Rubin and others hurt by a 1997 terrorist attack in Israel filed a 92 page brief yesterday in the First Circuit Court of Appeals.  Rubin et al. v. Islamic Republic of Iran v. Museum of Fine Arts and Harvard University et al. is a case where the appellants seek to enforce a judgment awarded to them under the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 (TRIA) by acquiring cultural artifacts claimed to be owned by Iran.  The objects sought are located in Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Meanwhile, Rubin et al. have also filed an appeal of their Seventh Circuit court case with the U.S. Supreme Court.  That case involves an attempt to attach objects located at museums in Chicago.

    Read the rest here

    Archaeology Magazine
    Volume 65 Number 1, January/February 2012
    by Andrew Lawler
    The rush to document thousands of ancient texts before they are sent back to Iran, or sold, reveals the daily workings of the Persian Empire a clay tablet from Persepolis

    Tens of thousands of clay tablets and fragments from Persepolis are written in cuneiform to express Elamite, an ancient language of western Iran.
    (Courtesy Persepolis Fortification Archive Project, Oriental Institute)

    Tensions between Iran and the United States have rarely run higher, with both governments sparring over alleged terror plots, disputing the nature of Iran’s nuclear program, and vying to influence the uprisings across the Arab world. But in Chicago and Boston courtrooms, the two countries have found rare common ground—neither wants ancient tablets from the royal palace of Persepolis in Iran to end up on the auction block. To the relief of scholars, two recent court rulings may give them their joint wish, preserving open access to what is the most significant source of information on the ancient Persian Empire uncovered to date.

    In the early 1930s, during excavations of Persepolis, University of Chicago archaeologist Ernst Herzfeld unearthed tens of thousands of fragments of fragile clay tablets dating from about 500 B.C. The fragments were packed into 2,353 cardboard boxes and shipped to the university’s Oriental Institute. The Iranian government of the day allowed the export, with the understanding that the tablets would be translated and then returned. But the task of piecing together and understanding the vast number of fragments has been under way for more than seven decades and the majority of the collection remains in Chicago. Now, fearing loss of the archive, the university has moved into high gear to create thousands of digital images of the tablets, which record the day-to-day accounts of the empire during the reign of Darius the Great (521–486 B.C.) and include records of those traveling on behalf of the king, lists of workers’ rations, and careful notation of offerings made to deities.

    Researchers hope to have most of this intensive effort completed within the next two years. To get the job done, the institute has assembled what Gil Stein, director of the Oriental Institute, calls a “dream team” of textual scholars, archaeologists, and technical experts in digital cataloguing to take images of the tablets and make them available for public use. Translations are also being done, though it will take much longer to complete that daunting task. “Whether they are seized for sale or the government of Iran demands them back, the tablets will be out of the building soon. We all understand how important and urgent this is,” says Stein.

    To read more, find ARCHAEOLOGY in your local newsstand or bookstore, or click here to buy a copy of the issue online. And if you'd like to receive ARCHAEOLOGY in your mailbox, click here to subscribe.
    Andrew Lawler is a contributing editor at ARCHAEOLOGY.

    Massachusetts Court Dismisses Rubin v. Government of Iran v. Boston MFA and Harvard 
    Thursday, September 29, 2011

    A Massachusetts federal court has ruled that the Museum of Fine Arts and Harvard University will not lose their collection of ancient Persian objects to eight plaintiffs injured in a 1997 terrorist bombing. The United States District Court, District of Massachusetts, issued a five page opinion on September 15, 2011 denying the plaintiffs’ efforts to gain control over the artifacts to satisfy their multi-million dollar court judgment against the government of Iran.

    Jenny Rubin and several other Americans were injured in Jerusalem after Hamas carried out three bombings. Because the terrorist group received backing from Iran, the eight plaintiffs sued the government of Iran in federal district court in Washington, DC, winning a $71.5 million default award after the Iranian government failed to show up to court. Since then, the plaintiffs have sought to recover that judgment.

    The government of Iran would not be expected to pay the court award, so the plaintiffs searched for local Iranian assets to seize. One place they looked was Boston/Cambridge, Massachusetts, where museums housed artifacts excavated from ancient Iran. The plaintiffs initiated a court action--known as an attachment--against the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Harvard, the Harvard University Art Museums, the Busch-Reisinger Museum, the Fogg Art Museum, the Sackler Museum, the Semitic Museums, and the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. But the judge dismissed the plaintiffs’ case in his recent court order.

    Cultural Loot:  Harvard and others should be more open to art repatriation
    By The Crimson Staff
    Published: Tuesday, September 27, 2011
    Last week, Harvard escaped from a bizarre and potentially damaging lawsuit after federal judge George A. O’Toole, Jr. threw out a request from a group representing victims of Iranian terrorist attacks to seize various Persian artifacts from Harvard. Still awaiting unpaid damages that a U.S. court ruled they were owed by the Iranian government, the group—under the leadership of Jenny Rubin—has recently set its sights on certain artifacts they believe to be the property of the Iranian government. Unfortunately for the plaintiffs, however, these artifacts are held in various collections such as the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute and Harvard’s Peabody Museum, which acquired them long before the Islamic Republic of Iran was established in 1979.
    And while Judge O’Toole’s ruling appears in part a straightforward and appropriate rejection of what seems a patently opportunistic attempt to benefit financially from both the tainted reputation of the Iranian regime and a warped view of history, it included a broader stance on the issue surrounding the ownership of formerly stolen artifacts—a controversy in which Harvard’s own position, in our view, warrants a re-evaluation.
    “As a general matter,” O’Toole wrote, “establishing that a particular item was unlawfully exported or removed from Iran is not equivalent to showing that it now should be regarded as property of Iran subject to levy and execution.”
    Of course, we cannot imagine any other appropriate response to such an attempt. After all, the argument of Rubin et al concerns an alleged—and obviously false—association between the Persian Empire and the belligerent Iranian Islamic “Republic” that currently exists within its former borders. But, even still, we worry that these words may set some sort of dangerous legal precedent that gives Western institutions such as Harvard the right to keep artifacts regardless of the circumstances under which they were acquired. While Harvard has a very good argument for keeping possession of the particular items concerned in the Rubin case, it’s troubling that this case may only lead to Western institutions keeping a tighter stranglehold over the rest of the world's stolen cultural heritage...

    Should National Treasures be Subject to the Judicial Auction?: The Implications of Rubin v. Iran
    The main question at issue in Rubin v. Iran, a case pending in both the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago and the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, is whether national treasures of cultural heritage should be – or legally can be – subjected to a court-ordered auction to satisfy judgments. In that case, a group of plaintiffs who won a default judgment against Iran have asked the Chicago court to seize collections of Iranian national treasures to be auctioned off – with no guarantee that they will be auctioned off as collections – so that the proceeds can be used to satisfy part or all of the judgment...

    Even though the Seventh Circuit has ruled, the core issue still is not resolved. That is, the district court will now have to answer the main question – can the antiquities be seized and sold at judicial auction?

    Read the article in the Summer 2011 Newsletter of the American Bar Association Art & Cultural Heritage Law Committee.

    Heritage Hunters: Trying to cash in on what Darius and Xerxes left us!?
    by Ari Siletz

    Heritage Hunters

    In 2010 James Dolan, chief executive officer of Cablevision got paid about $13 million, or about 400 time the wages of an ordinary you and me. By comparison the manager of the royal household of the Achaemenid king Darius the Great was paid 700 sheep, 600 loads of flour, and 32000 liters of beer and wine. This is about 100 times the wage of an ordinary Achaemenid postal worker (courier). Never mind how much Darius got paid—the king was a national symbol, and therefore beyond labor pricing--but when it comes to income disparity Achaemenids seem to have the U.S. beaten four to one in terms of social justice. How do we know how much workers and top administrators got paid during the Achaemenids? 

    The information comes from deciphering a fraction of the 12000+ clay tablet “file cabinet” found at Persepolis circa 1930, and now stored mostly in the U.S. These are the famous Persepolis tablets now facing death by lawsuit in the U.S. legal system. The U.S. says the IRI is a state sponsor of terrorism and therefore U.S. citizens can sue Iran for injury resulting from IRI sponsored terrorist activity. For example, if Hamas hurts an American citizen during a terrorist attack, the injured person can sue Iran for supporting Hamas’ act. In fact many plaintiffs have already won large damages against Iran; the only problem was how to collect the court awarded money. After some hunting around in law books, they found out that a loophole in the 2002 Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) allows them to auction off the Persepolis tablets housed in U.S. universities. That should raise a few million, they thought. 

    But just last week the NIAC news email brought good tidings that some of the tablets have been rescued, apparently through clever use of a legal technicality. Lawyers defending the tablets in Massachusetts successfully argued that the plaintiffs couldn’t prove that the items actually belong to the IRI. To get more detail on the temporarily good news I talked on the phone with NIAC president Trita Parsi. NIAC has been involved in the tablet rescue efforts, leading where it can and assisting where it can. When I asked what would happen to the tablets if they were auctioned, Parsi’s typically measured interview voice became troubled: 

    “When you have a lot of artifacts--as we see in this case--the relative market value of each item drops. And as has happened before, the business owners destroy many of the items in order to increase the value of the remaining ones. We have seen this happen with Egyptian artifacts in the past. There’s a significant risk. It may actually happen that there will be a deliberate effort to destroy the stocks to make sure that the remaining 500 out of the 12000 fetch the best price! Then this part of our history and heritage will be destroyed.”
    This is simply barbarism, committed in the name of 21st century justice. From a perfectly reasonable angle these tablets are just as important as the Darius Behistun inscriptions or even the Cyrus Cylinder. Why? Because archeological sites and museums are full of self-descriptions by rulers of what kick-ass heroes they were and how justly they ruled. Bein e khodemoon, “Cyrus Cylinder” kings were a dime a dozen. Even today, Kayhan is a daily Cyrus Cylinder made out of paper. To give substance to our past we need more than the words of Cyrus and Darius; we need to audit their receipts. And this is precisely what these tablets are: receipts, invoices, pay stubs, wage tables, reimbursement, how much food and wine the priests of different religions got to offer their gods, etc. sampling several periods of Achaemenid rule. So far the tablets reveal an empire buzzing with a complex economy, an active society and run by an intricately structured administrative system. There’s an astonishing amount of detail about Achaemenid life in these tablets, beyond what we could have reasonably hoped; their discovery is a cultural windfall for Iranians. Ironically if it hadn’t been for another barbaric act—Alexander’s--more than two millennia ago, these tablets may have been scattered centuries ago. The quick collapse of the Persepolis building hid the tablets and made them inaccessible...

    PARSA CF Awards $370,000 to Museums and Institutions for Preserving and Advancing Persian Arts

    June 2, 2011


    The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, which is the recipient of two previous PARSA CF grants, has been awarded a $200,000 grant for their important work on capturing, recording, and distributing the information from the famous tablets of the Persepolis Fortification Archive (PFA). The archive is comprised of some 30,000 clay tablets and fragments found in 1933 by the Oriental Institute archeologists, examining and clearing the ruins of Persepolis palaces of kings Darius and Xerxes and their successors, near Shiraz. The tablets contain close to 20,000 original texts in cuneiform and Elamite language, Aramaic script and language, and seal impressions, and are currently on loan from Iran at the Oriental Institute.
    PFA is the largest and most consequential single source of information on the Achaemenid Persian Empire at its zenith. It provides a very important portal into the languages, art, society, administration, history, geography and religion in the heart of the Persian Empire in the time of Darius I, around 500 BC. It has fundamentally transformed every aspect of modern research on Achaemenid history and culture.
    The PFA Project at the Oriental Institute is responsible for carefully cleaning these important ancient tablets, taking high resolution digital imagery of the texts on the tablets, exploring various technologies for the best imaging of the tablets such as 3D, laser, and CT scanning),  and recording the texts and impressions. An editorial team within the group reviews and prepares editions of the texts, and all of the tablets, texts and impressions are carefully cataloged for publication and archiving. At this point more than 8000 tablets are completed, resulting in almost 40 Terabytes of data, and the team expects to grow the collection to approximately 11,000 over the next two years.
    The tablets have been subject to a long legal battle where plaintiffs suing the Iranian government are asking for the ancient tablets as compensation. With the fate of the archive hanging in balance, the PFA Project has been under pressure to clean, scan, and record as many tablets as possible and as fast as possible. The grant from PARSA CF helped the PFA Project during an urgent time, since the project was in critical need for servers and other resources. An appellate court ruling a while later at the end of March came out with favorable result for the PFA, although the battle still continues.
    The PFA project has received support from many other organizations besides PARSA CF, including the Andrew Melon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Iran Heritage Foundation is also working closely with the PFA project, and supports and promotes their work.
    "After almost eighty years, the Persepolis Fortification Archive is producing a growing stream of new information, deeper understanding, and surprising discoveries. Making sure that this stream continues to flow repays the trust and hope that Iran's loan of the Archive to the Oriental Institute entailed, magnifies the cultural heritage of which these tablets are the humble vessels, and lays that heritage before its cultural heirs and before the civilized world" said Matthew W. Stolper, Director, Persepolis Fortification Archive Project.

     Ancient Persian Treasures in American Courts


    02 May 2011 23:40

    Legal dispute over Persepolis tablets threatens international lending of cultural assets.

    In 1930, archaeologist Ernst Herzfeld came across 30,000 clay tablets on a dig in the ancient city of Persepolis, near modern-day Shiraz. Now these same Persepolis tablets are embroiled in a legal battle involving the Islamic Republic of Iran, the University of Chicago, and a pedestrian mall bombing in Jerusalem. 

    After they were unearthed in the 1930s, the inscribed and sealed tablets have been on loan to the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago for study, where many still remain. They have become a treasure trove in revealing the inner administrative workings and social structure of ancient Persia during the reign of Darius I around the time of 500 BCE. 

    Among many facts, they hold the records of the different rations apportioned to women and men, receipt and taxation, redistribution to priests and artisans, means of travel and communication, storage of food and livestock. Not least of all, they have proven to be a valuable asset in the study of ancient languages such as Elamite, which died off with the invasion of Alexander the Great, and Old Persian, a language which the tablets show was surprisingly used more often than expected by everyday Persians.
    The tablets hold a further value: What is known about this era historically comes from Greek and Arabic sources, and the Aramaic and Hebrew versions of the Old Testament. For the first time, scholars had the day-to-day story of the Persians, by the Persians, and for the world. 

    In 2002, the Persepolis Fortification Archive at the Oriental Institute began state-of-the-art 3D imaging of the tablets that had not already been returned to the government of Iran. Though the primary purpose of the Fortification Archive is to store digitally the clay tablets for future scholars who happen to find the daily administrative routine of the Persian Empire titillating reading, there was a more immediate motivation for initiating the process. 

    Only one year before the Oriental Institute began the 3D imaging, five American victims of a 1997 Hamas suicide bombing that occurred on Jerusalem's Ben Yehuda Street sued the government of Iran in a U.S. court for its support of the Palestinian organization...

    U.S. court backs Iran in dispute over assets
    CHICAGO | Tue Mar 29, 2011 3:58pm EDT
    (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday backed Iran in a dispute with Americans who demand that Persian antiquities in two Chicago museums be used to pay damages for victims of a 1997 suicide bombing in Israel.

    The decision by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals overturns a lower court ruling allowing the U.S. plaintiffs to search for any and all Iranian assets in the United States to pay a $71.5 million judgment against Iran.

    The case grew out of a September 1997 triple suicide bombing at a Jerusalem pedestrian mall that killed five people and injured 200. Two members of the Islamist group Hamas were convicted.
    The lawsuit filed by five groups of Americans who were either seriously wounded or relatives of the injured argued Iran bore responsibility because it provided training and support to Hamas for attacks.
    Having won their case, the plaintiffs embarked on a search for Iranian assets to pay the judgment. They found three collections of ancient Persian artifacts -- prehistoric pottery, ornaments, and precious tablets with Elamite writing -- owned by or on loan to Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History and the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute.

    The museums argued the artifacts qualified for immunity under U.S. law and could not be used to pay the judgment. They said seizing the artifacts would set a dangerous precedent for institutions who rely on scholarly interest to trump political and legal disputes.

    But the plaintiffs insisted the artifacts were fair game, arguing U.S. legal protections afforded to foreign-owned property do not apply when the property is used for commercial purposes, or when it belongs to an agent linked to a terrorist group.

    Iran initially ignored demands that it appear in U.S. courts to assert its sovereign rights. It later hired an American lawyer to represent its interests.

    The appeals court did not rule on the fate of the antiquities but it said the lower court wrongly denied Iran its sovereign immunity, which it says is presumed and did not need to be asserted in court by Iran.

    The ruling also voided the lower court's order that all Iranian assets in the United States be disclosed, and sent the case back to the lower court for further proceedings "consistent with this opinion."

    (Reporting by Andrew Stern; Editing by Xavier Briand)

    Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History and the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute won a victory on Tuesday in their efforts to maintain possession of thousands of ancient Iranian artifacts. In a ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed a lower court's order that might have handed the artifacts over to several American victims of a 1997 terrorist bombing in Jerusalem.
    Those victims won a $90-million judgment in 2003 against the government of Iran, which is believed to have financed and trained the terrorists who carried out the Jerusalem bombing. But the victims and their families have struggled to collect any of that judgment from Iran, and their lawyers have sought instead to seize purported Iranian assets in the United States, including antiquities held in American museums. Those legal efforts have been condemned by some scholars as a dangerous politicization of the world's archaeological heritage.

    In Tuesday's ruling, a three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit ruled that the lower court had misinterpreted the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976, which generally protects the property of foreign governments in the United States. The plaintiffs have asserted that the antiquities in Chicago are exempt from that immunity because of a provision in the 1976 law that excludes property "used for a commercial activity."

    The lower court had ruled that the plaintiff's argument on that point must win by default because Iran had not come forward to assert its immunity under the 1976 law. But the Seventh Circuit, like other appellate courts in similar recent cases, ruled that the 1976 law requires courts to decide for themselves which foreign immunities apply to each case, whether or not a foreign government has explicitly demanded those immunities. (Complicating the case, Iran did eventually come forward to assert its immunity.) ...

    Lawsuits by Victims of Terrorism Imperil Archaeological Studies
    In claiming $4-billion in damages from Iran, American plaintiffs demand that colleges and museums turn over ancient Persian artifacts
    By Peter Schmidt
    Chronicle of Higher Education
    March 6, 2011
    Lawsuits by Victims of Terrorism Imperil International Exchanges of Art and Artifacts 1
    U. of Chicago
    Matthew Stolper, a professor of Assyriology at the U. of Chicago's Oriental Institute, examines a tablet on loan from the government of Iran.
    Their original owners, in what is now Iran, probably saw them as ordinary records of day-to-day transactions, like today's ATM statements or store receipts. More than two millenniums later, however, clay tablets housed at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute have assumed extraordinary significance, as both objects of archaeological study and sources of modern conflict...

    Major New Grant Awards Will Help Build the Capacity of Iranian-Americans

    NIAC has received three major grant awards totaling $446,000 from the Parsa Community Foundation, the leading philanthropic organization serving the Iranian-American community.
    For Immediate Release
    Contact: Nobar Elmi
    Phone: 202-386-6325
    ... A third grant will underwrite a comprehensive media and education campaign about the Persepolis artifacts, priceless Persian antiquities currently caught in a legal battle.  The case is ongoing and its outcome could set potentially shattering precedents for the art world, museums and cultural institutions worldwide, as well as have a deep, negative impact on the cultural identity of Americans of Iranian descent.

    Professor Studying Embattled Tablets Being Returned to Iran to Speak for Ides of November
    Oct. 26, 2010
    Illinois Wesleyan News
    BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Illinois Wesleyan University will welcome Professor of Assyriology Matthew Stolper on Monday, November 15 at 4 p.m. in Beckman Auditorium of The Ames Library (1 Ames Plaza, Bloomington). His talk, titled “Shattered Window on the Persian Empire: Rescuing the Persepolis Fortification Archive,” is sponsored by the Greek & Roman Studies Department, Eta Sigma Phi and the Classics Club, and is part of the Ides Lecture & Performance Series.

    The director of the Persepolis Fortification Archive Project at the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute, Stolper studies clay tablets discovered in the ancient ruins of Persepolis in the 1930s by a University of Chicago expedition. Stolper is hoping to make the tens of thousands of the Persepolis clay tablets, which recorded the daily rule of Achemenid Persian kings from 550-330 B.C., available online. American survivors of terrorist bombings are asking Federal courts to award them possession of the Persepolis Fortification tablets to satisfy punitive judgments against the Islamic Republic of Iran.
    “There is only one Persepolis Fortification Archive,” Stolper said. “It’s the richest, densest, most complex source of information on the languages, society, institutions, and art of the Achaemenid Persian Empire.  Breaking it up or losing it entirely without harvesting all of this information would leave a tragic wound in the history of civilization.”

    For additional information about the speaker or the Ides series, contact the Greek and Roman Studies Department at (309) 556-3173.
    Contact: Rachel Hatch, (309) 556-3960

    A Battle over Ancient Bits of Clay
    02 June 2010
    By Jeff Baron
    Staff Writer

    Washington — The fate of clay tablets that recorded details of everyday government transactions in the Persian Empire 2,500 years ago might depend on maneuverings in the government of the modern United States.
    The tablets — more than 10,000 of them from a long-buried Persian government archive at Persepolis — are at the center of a lobbying effort in the U.S. Congress. They were discovered in 1933 and have been in the United States since 1936, on loan from Iran for study. Scholars, research institutions and Iranian-American groups are trying to protect them from being seized and auctioned off for the benefit of people who have legal claims against the current Iranian government over acts of terrorism...

    Suicide Bombings and Archaeology: Unpredictable Connections
    Monday, May 17th, 2010

    In 1933 and 1934, archaeologist Ernst Herzfeld excavated an astonishingly large cache of inscribed tablets at Persepolis, once the monumental capital of the Persian Empire, and now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

    On Sept. 4th, 1997, a Hamas-sponsored suicide attack at the Ben Yehuda mall in Jerusalem took the lives of five people, including three young girls.

    Thought these two events would be completely disconnected? So did I, and maybe normally they would be. What they have in common is the Islamic Republic of Iran, the country where the tablets were found, and the country that partially funds Hamas. This connection has linked the tablets and the suicide bombing together in an unpredictable lawsuit that threatens the increasingly fragile nature of international archaeological cooperation...

    Iran Gambles with its Cultural Heritage in U.S. Lawsuits
    Apr 29, 2010
    E. E. Mazier
    By ignoring lawsuits against it and failing to take an active role in the post-judgment phase of those cases, Iran is at risk of seeing a major component of its cultural heritage broken up and sold in pieces. That was the underlying message of an April 27, 2010 lecture by Matthew W. Stolper at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Philadelphia about the Persepolis Fortification Tablets...
    Inside Washington: NIAC’s Battle to Save the Persepolis Tablets
    Written by NIAC Staff
    Tuesday, 30 March 2010

    Washington, DC - The campaign to save the Persepolis Tablets is quietly gaining momentum, as NIAC and some of the nation’s top universities work to protect thousands of priceless cultural artifacts at risk of being seized by lawyers and auctioned off to the highest bidder...

    ...Soon, NIAC will also deploy the Persepolis Center, an online resource that will not only serve as a clearinghouse for background information about the Persepolis Tablets but will also provide a direct connection between NIAC and members with the latest updates on our efforts, new opportunities for members to mobilize, tools for contacting elected representatives, and profiles of endangered collections.If we are successful in our efforts, the Iranian American community can take pride in protecting not only our own cultural artifacts, but all cultural artifacts from the threat of lawsuit in the U.S.
    Iran’s Cultural Heritage Under Threat
    by Alix McKenna
    California Literary Review
    March 22nd, 2010 at 12:40 am

    ...The use of the Iranian antiquities to satisfy the Rubin judgment could also put American cultural property at risk and cause foreign policy complications for the United States. The U.S. Government has filed several statements of interest with the court expressing these concerns. On June 6, 2006 Abbas Salimi-Namin, the former head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization sent a letter to the United Nations that illustrates the potential for problems. The missive demanded the immediate return of the tablets. While the Oriental Institute had previously enjoyed a good relationship with Iran based on a shared interest in gleaning knowledge from the tablets, the letter accused the museum of keeping the objects “on various grounds and pretexts” and ominously suggested that if the antiquities are turned over to the terror victims, American museums with objects in Iran would “face a similar measure from Tehran.”
    Should Cultural Heritage Be on the Judicial Auction Block?
    By Laina Catherine Wilk Lopez
    Phi Beta Kappa: THE KEY REPORTER
    Volume 75, Number 1
    Spring 2010

    ...Consider the following real life case on which I am currently working. In 1997, several persons, including some Americans, were injured in a suicide bombing in Israel for which Hamas later took credit. In 2003, the U.S. victims of that bombing, in a lawsuit entitled Rubin v. Iran, sued Iran in a U.S. federal court in Washington, D.C. pursuant to a section of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act in effect at the time. That portion of the law, 28 U.S.C. §1605(a)(7), permitted Americans who suffered injury (or death) to sue those nations designated by the United States as “state sponsors of terrorism” for providing “material support” to commit an act of terrorism. At the time of the lawsuit, the nations designated as state sponsors of terrorism were Iran, Cuba, Syria, Iraq, Libya, North Korea and Sudan. Today, only Iran, Cuba, Syria and Sudan remain on the list. In the Washington, D.C. case, the Rubin plaintiffs won against Iran a multi-million dollar default judgment, which Iran refused to pay. The plaintiffs, still determined to collect their money, thus registered their judgment in jurisdictions in the United States where the plaintiffs believed Iranian assets were located. They asked the courts in those jurisdictions to permit them to “attach” (a legal term meaning essentially judicial seizure) the various alleged Iranian assets, sell them at judicial auction, and use the proceeds of such sales to satisfy their multi-million dollar judgment.

    In one such instance, the plaintiffs registered their judgment in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The plaintiffs selected that court because there are three collections of ancient Persian artifacts owned by Iran or alleged to be owned by Iran in Chicago. One of the collections is not a true collection but rather a smattering of artifacts at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago and the Field Museum of Natural History collectively known as the Herzfeld Collection. The artifacts are so named because, according to the plaintiffs, noted archaeologist Ernst Herzfeld surreptitiously took the items from Iran in the early 20th Century and later unlawfully sold the allegedly stolen items to the University of Chicago and the Field Museum. Iran makes no claim to these artifacts and the university and the Field Museum vigorously defend their lawful ownership of the items. The plaintiffs assert that Iran nonetheless owns the Herzfeld items by operation of an Iranian patrimony law which, according to the plaintiffs, provides that any item unearthed in Iran is owned by Iran. Notably, the Rubin plaintiffs also have sued Harvard University and the Museum of Fine Arts of Boston in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts alleging that those museums also have in their possession several items stolen by Herzfeld and hence are Iran owned. Like the museums in Chicago, however, the Boston museums vigorously defend their lawful ownership of the items.

    The other two collections involved in the Chicago litigation, the Persepolis Collection and the Chogha Mish Collection, are housed at the Oriental Institute and are, everyone agrees, owned by Iran. These two collections arrived at the Oriental Institute in the 1930s and 1960s, respectively, following archaeological digs. In the 1930s, the Oriental Institute sent a team of its archaeologists – led by Ernst Herzfeld – to Iran, with the Iranian government’s consent, to excavate the ancient Persian city of Persepolis. Persepolis, the capital of the Achaemenid Empire, was built by Darius I in approximately 515 B.C. and destroyed by Alexander the Great in approximately 330 B.C. Though largely destroyed by Alexander, the site was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979 due to monumental ruins which were left standing. Following the excavation, Iran agreed to loan to the Institute for study a grouping of rare tablet and tablet fragments found in the fortifications. Some of the tablets are written in an ancient text known as Elamite, a now extinct language understood today by a handful of people. The tablets contain administrative records of daily Achaemenid society, such as the amounts and recipients of food rations...

    The Old Persian text in the Persepolis Fortification Archive appears on the cover of the new book

    Numerical Notation
    A Comparative History

    Stephen Chrisomalis
    Wayne State University, Michigan
    (ISBN-13: 9780521878180)

    It is also discussed on p. 256 ff.

    Auctioning Ancient Iranian Artifacts: Implications for US Cultural Policy, By Touraj Daryaee, Associate Director, Center for Persian Studies at the University of California, Irvine, The Huffington Post, December 3, 2009 02:35 PM .

    ... These tablets only make sense if they are studied as a group and not dispersed throughout the world in the hand of dealers and private collectors. It is a rare archive from antiquity, and so it should remain as such to be studied and understood. It would be a shame to have had in the twenty-first century a unique source for understanding the ancient Persians that got arbitrarily partitioned and dispersed, forcing us to remain in the dark for another 2,500 years about the social and cultural history of these people and the region.

    As citizens of a society which promotes the understanding and accepting of diversity here and for the world, we must not let this happen. Our people need to be able to go to museums and see these objects to understand the antiquity, beauty, and diversity of the world in which they live in. The auctioning ancient artifacts would be a great mistake. If the current administration allows their sale to private dealers and collectors, the cost, in terms of the destruction of evidence for the study of the history of humanity, as well as with regard to America's reputation, is incalculable.

    Technology brings new insights to ancient language, University of Chicago News Office, October 14, 2009

    New technologies and academic collaborations are helping scholars at the University of Chicago analyze hundreds of ancient documents in Aramaic, one of the Middle East’s oldest continuously spoken and written languages.

    Members of the West Semitic Research Project at the University of Southern California are helping the University’s Oriental Institute make very high-quality electronic images of nearly 700 Aramaic administrative documents. The Aramaic texts were incised in the surfaces of clay tablets with styluses or inked on the tablets with brushes or pens. Some tablets have both incised and inked texts.

    Discovered in Iran, these tablets form one of the largest groups of ancient Aramaic records ever found. They are part of the Persepolis Fortification Archive, an immense group of administrative documents written and compiled about 500 B.C. at Persepolis, one of the capitals of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. Archaeologists from the Oriental Institute discovered the archive in 1933, and the Iranian government has loaned it to the Oriental Institute since 1936 for preservation, study, analysis and publication.

    The Persepolis texts have started to provide scholars with new knowledge about Imperial Aramaic, the dialect used for international communication and record-keeping in many parts of the Assyrian, Babylonian and Persian empires, including parts of the administration at the imperial court of Persepolis. These texts have even greater value because they are so closely connected with documents written in other ancient languages by the same administration at Persepolis.

    “We don’t have many archives of this size. A lot of what’s in these texts is entirely fresh, but this also changes what we already knew,” said Annalisa Azzoni, an assistant professor at the Divinity School of Vanderbilt University. Azzoni is a specialist on ancient Aramaic and is now working with the Persepolis Fortification Archive Project at the Oriental Institute. “There are words I know were used in later dialects, for example, but I didn’t know they were used at this time or this place, Persia in 500 B.C. For an Aramaicist, this is quite an important discovery.”

    Clearer images delivered more quickly
    Scholars from the West Semitic Research Project at the University of Southern California helped the Persepolis Fortification Archive Project build and install an advanced electronic imaging laboratory at the Oriental Institute. Together, the two projects are making high-quality images of the Aramaic texts and the seal impressions associated with those texts. They are distributing the new images to the international research community through the Internet.

    Inked and incised texts pose different problems that call for different imaging solutions. Making high-resolution scans under polarized and filtered light reveals the ink without interference from stains and glare, and sometimes shows faded characters that cannot be seen in ordinary daylight. Using another advanced imaging technique, called Polynomial Texture Mapping, researchers are able to see surface variations under variable lighting, revealing the marks of styluses and even the traces of pens in places where the ink itself has disappeared.

    Distributing the results online will give worldwide communities of philologists and epigraphers images that are almost as good as the original objects―and in some cases actually clearer than the originals―to study everything from vocabulary and grammar to the handwriting habits of individual ancient scribes.

    Researcher Marilyn Lundberg and her colleagues from the West Semitic Research Project built two Polynomial Texture Mapping devices from scratch at the Oriental Institute. They trained Persepolis Fortification Archive Project workers in using them, and also in using filtered light with a camera equipped with a high-resolution scanning device. Now a stream of raw images is uploaded every day to a dedicated server maintained by Humanities Research Computing at Chicago, then uploaded for post-processing at the University of Southern California. Fully processed imagery is available on InscriptiFact, the online application of the West Semitic Research Project, and in the Online Cultural Heritage Research Environment, the online application of the Persepolis Fortification Archive Project.

    Seeing the whole picture
    The Polynomial Texture Mapping apparatus looks a bit like a small astronomical observatory, with a cylindrical based topped by a hemispherical dome. The camera takes a set of 32 pictures of each side of the tablet, with each shot lit with a different combination of 32 lights set in the dome. After post-processing, the PTM software application knits these images to allow a viewer sitting at a computer to manipulate the apparent direction, angle and intensity of the light on the object, and to introduce various effects to help with visualization of the surface.

    “This means that the scholar isn’t completely dependent on the photographer for what he sees anymore,” said Bruce Zuckerman, Director of the West Semitic Research Project and its online presence, InscriptiFact. “The scholar can pull up an image on the screen and relight an object exactly as he wants to see it. He can look at different parts of the image with different lighting, to cast light and shadow across even the faintest, shallowest marks of a stylus or pen on the surface, and across every detail of a seal impression.”

    “This is a wonderful way to look at seal impressions,” said Elspeth Dusinberre, another Persepolis Fortification Project collaborator. Dusinberre, an associate professor of classics at the University of Colorado, is studying the imagery and the use of seals impressed on the Aramaic tablets. “Some of the impressions are faint, or incomplete, on curved surfaces or damaged surfaces. Sometimes Aramaic text is written across them. You need to be able to move the light around to highlight every detail, to see the whole picture.”

    The Persepolis Fortification Archive also includes about 10,000 to 12,000 other tablets and fragments with cuneiform texts in Elamite―a few hundred of them with short secondary texts in Aramaic. There are also about 4,000 to 5,000 others with impressions of seals, but no texts, and there are a few unique documents in other languages and scripts, including Greek, Old Persian and Phrygian.

    “That’s what makes this group of Aramaic texts so extraordinary,” Stolper said. “From one segment of the Persepolis Fortification Archive, the Elamite texts, we know a lot about conditions around Persepolis at about 500 B.C. When we can add a second stream of information, the Aramaic texts, we’ll be able to see things in a whole new light. They add a new dimension of the ancient reality.”

    Impacts are far-reaching
    The collaboration between the Oriental Institute at Chicago and the West Semitic Research Project at Southern California began with support from a substantial grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in 2007. To date, the teams have made high-quality images of almost all the monolingual Aramaic Fortification tablets. The next phase of the work, supported by a second Mellon grant that runs through 2010, will make images of the short Aramaic notes written on cuneiform tablets, seal impressions on uninscribed tablets and previously unrecorded Elamite cuneiform texts.

    The tablets have been studied since they came to Chicago in 1936, and many of them have been sent back to Iran. Oriental Institute scholar Richard T. Hallock published about 2,100 of the Elamite texts in 1969, and Margaret Cool Root and Persepolis Fortification Archive Project collaborator Mark Garrison are completing a three-volume publication of the impressions made on those documents by about 1,500 distinct seals.

    These publications have had far-reaching results. “They have transformed every aspect of modern study of the languages, history, society, institutions, art and religion of the Achaemenid Persian Empire,” Stolper said. “No serious treatment of the empire that Cyrus and Darius built and that Alexander destroyed can ignore the perspectives of the Fortification Archive.”

    “If that is the effect of a sample of one component of the archive,” added Garrison, “imagine what will happen when we can have larger samples and other components, and not just the written record, but the imagery, the impressions made by thousands of different seals that administrators and travelers―the men and women who figure in the texts―employed.”

    By 2010, the collaborating teams expect to have high-quality images of 5,000 to 6,000 Persepolis tablets and fragments, and to supplement these with conventional digital images of another 7,000 to 8,000 tablets and fragments. The images will be distributed online as they are processed, along with cataloging and editorial information.

    “Thanks to electronic media, we don’t have to cut the parts of the archive up and distribute the pieces among academic specialties,” said Stolper. “We can combine the work of specialists in a way that lets us see the archive as it really was, in its original complexity, as one big thing with many distinct parts.”

    DOJ Urges 7th Circuit to Shield Iranian Artifacts From Seizure by Terrorism Victims
    Arguments focus on foreign sovereign immunity
    Lynne Marek
    The National Law Journal
    November 02, 2009

    While the United States and Iran heatedly battle over nuclear disarmament on the world stage, they joined forces last week before the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals...
    ...At oral argument, the 7th Circuit panel seemed to favor the arguments of the United States, Iran and the institutions, questioning the lower court's authority to disregard the artifacts' apparent statutory immunity. The artifacts "enjoy presumptive immunity" under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, said Judge Diane Sykes. "It can hardly be interpreted otherwise -- that's what it says.

    Legal Threats to Cultural Exchange of Archaeological Materials, by Sebastian Heath and Glenn M. Schwartz, American Journal of Archaeology, Volume 113 No. 3 • July 2009

    Legal action on behalf of victims of terrorism has attempted to force the sale of cultural artifacts on loan to U.S. institutions in order to compensate those victims. Such action jeopardizes the participation of American institutions in international cultural exchanges. The authors maintain that archaeological artifacts should not be sold to satisfy a court judgment, regardless of the actions of a particular regime, and that it should be possible for nations to share their cultural heritage without fear of loss.

    Indemniser les victimes d'attentats en vendant de l'art ?, Rue89, Par Marlene Belilos | Journaliste | 24/06/2009 | 15H50.

    L'Institut oriental de l'Université de Chicago -celle où Obama a été chargé d'enseignement-, dépositaire d'un ensemble d'environ 20 000 tablettes trouvées à Persépolis en 1933, se trouve au centre d'une bataille judiciaire inédite : des victimes d'un attentat réclament la vente de ces objets originaires d'Iran comme indemnisation.
    Tablette trouvée à Persépolis en 1933 (DR).Un tribunal de Washington a condamné l'Etat iranien à verser 412 millions de dollars (323 millions d'euros) aux familles des victimes et survivants d'un attentat perpétré à Jérusalem en 1997.
    Les plaignants arguent, en effet, que l'Etat iranien aurait financé et entraîné le Hamas, responsable de l'attentat. Ils s'appuient dans leur action sur une loi de 1970 permettant d'attaquer un Etat. Cette législation a encore été élargie en novembre 2008 par le sénateur du New Jersey, Lautenberger, levant l'immunité d'un Etat souverain...
    The Artifacts of Life, By Carl Marziali, USC News Science / Technology, June 23, 2009 11:16 AM.
    USC’s first pilgrims to a temple of high-energy physics will be seeking answers to worldly questions about ancient commerce.

    Archaeologist Lynn Swartz Dodd of USC College and her students are taking trade artifacts from Egypt to the Argonne National Laboratory’s Advanced Photon Source, home of the most powerful X-rays in the country...

    The group hopes to return to Argonne this fall or next spring for a second round of studies, this time to analyze Assyrian and Persian artifacts found in Israel, Turkey, Iraq and Iran, which are on loan from the Oriental Institute of Chicago...

    This is not the first time that USC has brought modern technology to bear on ancient problems. Dodd’s colleague Bruce Zuckerman leads a team that has been creating digital images of the ancient writings on the Persepolis Tablets at the Oriental Institute in Chicago.

    The project has two goals: to preserve at least digital access to the Iranian government-owned tablets, which may be sold off as part of a lawsuit seeking to punish Iran for its ties to the terrorist group Hamas; and to reduce physical study of the tablets by scholars.

    “Looking at a text is probably the most damaging thing you can do to it,” Zuckerman said.
    The Big Apple Raises $110,000 to Protect the Persepolis Tablets, NIAC, Thursday, 11 June 2009.
    Washington, DC - Iranian-Americans from the New York tri-state area exceeded NIAC’s fundraising goals and helped raise over $110,000 to go towards preserving the Persepolis Artifacts on May 30th at the Asia Society in Manhattan...

    Special guest, Professor Matthew Stolper who has dedicated his career to studying these tablets, made the gravity of losing just one of these artifacts crystal clear - If there are too many of these tablets being auctioned, their value will drop. So what do people do to ensure that the price remains high? "They destroy a good number of them," he exclaimed to a shocked audience. He also stressed the importance of keeping these items together, in fact, they are really to be seen as one item. Like a dinosaur fossil - if one bone is missing, we lose a sense of what the animal was. The same goes for these artifacts which tell the story of the Persian empire during the time of Darius the Great.

    Thanks to our community in the City that Never Sleeps, NIAC is better positioned to ensure that not a single tablet from Persepolis is confiscated, auctioned or destroyed. NIAC is involved through legal, media and policy avenues to preserve the Persepolis tablets

    Victims of terrorist attack in Israel can proceed with claim for US antiquities, The Art Newspaper. From issue 191, May 2008. Published online 1.5.08.
    A federal court in Massachusetts affirmed on 31 March that Iranian antiquities at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and the Harvard University Art Museums might be subject to a claim by the victims of a terrorist bombing allegedly sponsored by Iran...In the latest round of litigation in Massachusetts, the court declined to reconsider its prior ruling that the plaintiffs might be able to claim the antiquities under the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002. The case will now go to the federal appeals court.

    Farhang Foundation fundraising in support of the Persepolis Tablet Project of Professor Matthew Stolper at the University of Chicago, Farhang Foundation Blog. Posted by Bita Milanian on May 28, 2009 at 2:02pm.
    On May 16, 2009, a private gathering hosted by members of the Farhang Foundation’s board of trustees, was attended by a number of enthusiasts in history and culture of ancient Iran, to raise funds to support Prof. Stolper’s efforts to preserve the contents the Persepolis Tablets...

    Iranian American Bar Association Panel June 10th to Discuss Persian Antiquities in Peril, © Business Wire 2009, 2009-06-04 19:38:02 - .
    In September of 1997, three Hamas suicide bombers blew themselves up in a crowded pedestrian mall in Jerusalem, killing five and wounding nearly 200. Several of the American victims sued the government of Iran, accusing it of being complicit in the attack, and won a $412 million default judgment. In seeking to satisfy that judgment, the plaintiffs have gone to court to seize ancient Persian artifacts being held by the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute, the Chicago Field Museum, several Harvard University museums, and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts...

    In an effort to raise awareness about these cases and to further explore their cultural and scholarly impact, the Chicago Chapter of the Iranian American Bar Association (IABA) will host a panel discussion on Wednesday, June 10 from 5:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the University Center, 525 S. State Street, Lake Room, Chicago. The panelists include Dr. Gil Stein and Dr. Matthew Stolper of the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute, Dr. Patty Gerstenblith of the DePaul University College of Law, and Sue Benton, lead counsel for the Chicago Field Museum...

    Supreme Court Case can Decide Fate of Persepolis Tablets , Written by Ehsan Tabesh, National Iranian American Council (NIAC), Friday, 29 May 2009.
    Washington DC - As the U.S. District Court decides the fate of thousands of historic Persian artifacts, the U.S. Supreme Court will soon determine whether U.S. citizens can sue the newly formed Republic of Iraq for the misdeeds of the former Saddam Hussein regime. The timing of the case is critical to not only future claims filed against sovereign nations including the United States, but also the outcome of two suits that seek to seize and auction off invaluable artifacts from Persepolis with great historical significance to Iranian Americans.

    In the Republic of Iraq v. Beaty, the Supreme Court will soon decide whether the Republic of Iraq is immune from a civil suit brought by several U.S. military and media personnel allegedly captured and mistreated by the former Iraqi regime headed by Saddam Hussein during the 1991 Kuwait invasion. This case consolidates several lawsuits filed by over 236 plaintiffs that seek more than $3 billion in damages against the new government in Iraq for the misgivings of the former Hussein regime...
    Iran's treasures aren't safe, by Kriston Capps, UTV Media, Wednesday, 13 May 2009.
    The Tehran Times reports that Iran's ministry of culture and Islamic guidance rejected a request from the US National Gallery of Art to borrow a painting by Gauguin from the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art. Speaking to the ministry's decision, office for visual arts director Mahmud Shaluii had heated words: "In response to the National Gallery of Art director, we said that the United States is not legally safe for Iranian artworks."

    A curator in a snit hardly ranks among the heavy diplomatic conflicts that mar US–Iran relations. But on this front, Iran is not being churlish. In fact, the curator has it exactly right: Iran would be out of its mind to send a Gaugin – or anything else – to the US, because the US has no intention of returning it. A new judicial ruling on assets and cultural lending threatens to cut off cultural cooperation between the two nations, just as its leaders are taking tentative steps toward finding some middle ground...

    Iran rejects U.S. National Gallery of Art’s request for Gauguin painting, Tehran Times Art Desk, Wednesday, April 22, 2009.
    The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art (TMCA) recently turned down a request from the National Gallery of Art in Washington for a loan of a Paul Gauguin still life for an exhibition ... it is not possible to loan the painting due to the lack of confidence that the United States will safeguard Iranian artworks,” noted Shaluii, who is also the curator of TMCA.

    Iranian Americans Raise $50,000 to Preserve Persepolis Artifacts, Written by NIAC, Wednesday, 25 March 2009.
    McLean, Va - The Iranian-American community came together to celebrate the coming of Norooz and support NIAC's continued efforts to protect the Persepolis tablets and support diplomacy, on March 7, 2009 in Mclean VA. The event, which hosted more than 150 members of the Iranian-American community, raised an impressive $50,000. Dr. Paymaun Lotfi and Mrs. Bita Lotfi hosted the event and opened their home in Virginia to the local Iranian-American community...

    NIAC's special guest was Professor Matthew Stolper of Chicago University, the caretaker of the prized Persian artifacts in the Persepolis Fortification Archive Project. He spoke extensively on the vast significance of the Persepolis artifacts to ancient Persian history and to the international community.

    He expressed great concern for the risk of the artifacts being confiscated and auctioned off, arguing that the window the tablets provide into Iran's ancient history only exists if all of the tablets are kept. They are like bones in a skeleton - with a single tablet missing, the entire skeleton collapses...

    Appeal for Protection of Persian Artifacts Reaches New Heights, Written by NIAC, Thursday, 12 March 2009.
    Washington, DC - Today, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) -- the largest Iranian-American grassroots organization -- presented a brief Amicus Curiae to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District Illinois Eastern Division in a lawsuit that seeks to seize and auction off thousands of historic Persian artifacts of substantial historical importance currently on display at the University of Chicago.

    "NIAC believes these artifacts qualify as cultural property and are part of the cultural heritage of all persons of Iranian descent," said Trita Parsi, President of NIAC. "Our role is to ensure that they are not confiscated and auctioned off to the highest bidder - an act that would not only contradict the principles embodied in numerous laws and treaties, but set a terrible precedent in America and for several similar cases as well as potentially result in retaliation against U.S. properties worldwide."

    In presenting its brief, NIAC seeks to act as an amicus curiae or "friend of the Court," and will ask the Court to consider the cultural importance of these artifacts when interpreting the provisions of law that will govern its ruling.

    Trial of the Centuries, By Alison Sider. Published: March 5th, 2009, Grey City, Chicago Maroon
    Since 2004, the Oriental Institute has found itself at the unlikely nexus of archaeology, law, and terrorism. At stake are millions of dollars, a collection of 2,500-year-old tablets, and possibly the future of archaeological research.

    With its stone fireplace and wood paneling, it would be less surprising to see Indiana Jones walk into Gil Stein’s office at the Oriental Institute than the visitor who stopped by five years ago.

    “Are you Gil Stein?” the man asked, standing in the doorway to Stein’s office. Stein answered in the affirmative.

    “You’ve been served,” the man said, handing over an envelope. And with that, he turned and left.

    The envelope revealed a summons from the federal district court of the Northern District of Illinois, demanding that Stein, the Institute’s director, turn over ancient tablets from the Institute’s Persepolis Fortification Archive and Choga Mish collection. They would be sold, according to the summons, in order to compensate victims of a 1997 terrorist attack funded by Iran.

    "A Debt that cannot be repaid in full", By A. J. Cave, 03/06/09, Payvand
    On March 4th, 1933, a group of American archaeologists from the Chicago University's Oriental Institute, excavating in the ruins of Pârsâ (Persepolis), struck pure gold. They found the largest ancient archive of its size under heaps of ashes and broken stones that had collapsed, preserving its treasure for centuries. That priceless treasure, Achaemenid Administrative Archives, more commonly known as the Persepolis Fortification Archive (PFA), is now caught in the American legal system, as the coveted prize in a federal lawsuit - part of a series of related lawsuits, no longer just to seize commercial assets owned by the Islamic Republic of Iran, but a fight for the seizure of precious Persian antiquities held by western museums, regardless of who owns them...

    Obama and the Persian Treasures in Chicago, by Trita Parsi, Posted March 4, 2009 | 02:25 AM (EST), The Huffington Post.
    ...Under the law, President Obama has the power to issue an executive waiver to stop the seizure of foreign assets if that would further US national security. Considering the importance of the President's efforts to reduce tensions with Iran and solicit its collaboration in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the dire consequences of failure, President Obama should do exactly that. It's not the easiest decision politically, but no one ever said overcoming 30 years of enmity would be easy.

    Persepolis Fortification Archive at center of lawsuits, by Will Anderson, March 2, 2009. News from the Division of the Humanities, Posted on February 27th, 2009.
    The victims of two different terrorist attacks have filed two separate lawsuits, both of them competing for the right to auction the Persepolis Fortification Archive.

    Chicago Magazine and the San Francisco Chronicle are two of several news sources that have picked up the story: the Persepolis Fortification Archive, on loan from Iran and under the care of the Oriental Institute since the 1930s, might be seized to help pay for damages awarded to over 800 victims of terrorist attacks. The archive consists of thousands of inscribed clay tablets, all of them 2500 years old, that taken together are scholars’ best aid in understanding the everyday workings of the Persian empire.

    Iran: on the Persepolis Tablets Case (A. J. Cave, US; ex-Iran) , World Association of International Studies | PAX, LUX, et VERITAS, Posted on February 27th, 2009.
    My friends tease me that I wrote some 700+ pages of romance just to put the Persepolis Fortification Archive in the context of time and place and show the horror that the Persians must have felt at the time watching Persepolis [Parsa] burn by the hands of the bloody invading Macedonians. A grief that still burns the tips of my fingers.

    The third chapter of my book: “Axis of Empire” passing through the ruins of Persepolis is available in PDF format, and here is a link.

    Les tablettes de Persépolis au centre d'un bras de fer judiciaire aux Etats-Unis, Le Nouvel Observateur, 24.02.2009 | 18:39

    FOCUS: Terrorism impacting archaeology, 02-22-09, The Herald News, Posted Feb 20, 2009 @ 05:40 PM
    [This is the first appearance of Associated Press article by Sharon Cohen, which also appears (with credit) under the title "Terror victims seeking Persian relics in court" at MSNBC and The Chicago Tribune. No doubt it will appear elsewhere in the next day or two. -CEJ-]
    CHICAGO — The professor opens a cardboard box and gingerly picks up a few hunks of dried clay — dust-baked relics that offer a glimpse into the long-lost world of the Persian empire that spanned a continent 2,500 years ago.

    Matt Stolper has spent decades studying these palm-sized bits of ancient history. Tens of thousands of them. They’re like a jigsaw puzzle. A single piece offers a tantalizing clue. Together, the big picture is scholarly bliss: a window into Persepolis, the capital of the Persian empire looted and burned by Alexander the Great.

    The collection — on loan for decades to the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute — is known as the Persepolis Fortification Archive. These are, to put it simply, bureaucratic records. But in their own way, they tell a story of rank and privilege, of deserters and generals, of life in what was once the largest empire on earth.

    For Stolper — temporary caretaker of the tablets — these are priceless treasures.
    For others, they may one day be payment for a terrible deed...
    [Versions of this article have also appeared in several other sources, incuding Current News Stories, Telegraph Herald - Dubuque, IA, The Pueblo Chieftain, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Southtown Star, Museum Security Network, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, Contra Coasta Times, Deseret News, PR-Inside, Charlotte Sun, The Southern, WAND TV, WSLS Roanoke, San Francisco Chronicle]

    US urged to return Persepolis tablets, by PRESSTV, Mon, 02 Feb 2009 17:28:37 GMT.
    International archeologists have asked US President Barack Obama to help return the Elamite tablets of Persepolis to their home in Iran.

    Over 600 archeologists have signed a letter to President Obama asking him to stop the ancient artifacts, which are have been loaned to the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, from being confiscated and sold...

    Paying with the Past, by Gwenda Blair, Chicago Magazine, December 2008.
    In March 1933, an archaeological expedition from the Oriental Institute, a division of the University of Chicago, was working in southwestern Iran among the ruins of Persepolis, the onetime capital of the ancient Persian Empire. While building a road for trucks to bring in drinking water, laborers accidentally uncovered a huge archive of 2,500-year-old clay tablets, inscribed with wedge-shaped cuneiform characters, that had been stored inside a fortification wall.

    Five decades later, in October 1983, a terrorist drove a Mercedes truck loaded with explosives into the U.S. marine barracks in Beirut and killed 241 American servicemen. Fourteen years after that, in September 1997, terrorists set off suitcase bombs at Ben Yehuda, a popular pedestrian shopping mall in Jerusalem, killing five people and wounding nearly 200. Claiming that Iran underwrote both bombings, the U.S. survivors and family members of those who were killed sued that country in separate federal lawsuits in Washington, D.C., in 2001. Iran did not make an appearance, and the plaintiffs won a total of more than $3 billion in default judgments.

    The tablets, basically an administrative record, chronicle the distribution of food within Persepolis and the surrounding region.

    Now these disparate elements are coming together in a Chicago courtroom. The plaintiffs in the bombing cases say that the only way they can collect what is owed to them is to force the sale of the Persepolis tablets, currently at the University of Chicago on loan from Iran, and they have filed lawsuits demanding that the archive go on the auction block.

    Iran wants US to repatriate inscriptions, antiquities, Posted: 2008/12/16, Mathaba News Network.

    Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi on Monday appealed to US institutions to repatriate Iranian inscriptions saying that their refusal has led to severance of Iran-US archaeological relations.

    On Art! Beyond federal court, In this installment of IntLawGrrls "On Art!" series on artifacts of transnational culture, guest blogger Judith Weingarten, an archaeologist, returns to the blog with an account of legal issues swirling about a new show at a leading U.S. art museum, 25 November 2008.
    The latest archaeological blockbuster at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art is Beyond Babylon: Art, Trade and Diplomacy in the Second Millennium B.C.

    The exhibit, which opened a week ago today, runs through March 15, 2009, and is reviewed here by The New York Times, is the direct sequel to the Met's 2003 Art of the First Cities, which covered the third millennium B.C. But unlike the 2003 show, which took place as American troops invaded the heartland of ancient Mesopotamia, there is a gaping hole in the new show: 55 pieces from Syria — stone sculptures; frescoes; goldwork, including this stupendous bowl from the ancient city of Ugarit (left) – were not sent as promised to New York.

    In a wall card near the beginning of the show, the Met thanks the Syrian government for its willingness to lend such important objects, and expresses "deep regret that recent legislation in the United States has made it too difficult and risky for the planned loans to proceed." That legislation, an amendment made in January to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, permits private individuals claiming to be victims of state-sponsored terrorism to file liens against property belonging to that state whenever the property is in the United States. Property loaned to museums may fall within the ambit of this amendment.

    This is the almost inevitable sequel to the legal battle over the Persepolis tablets...

    Persian Artifacts Case: An Insider’s Perspective, By Babback Sabahi in The Iranian American Bar Association ("IABA") Review, volume 3, Fall 2008.
    [Babback Sabahi, who is an associate at Mayer Brown, LLP in Washington, D.C, reviews the status of the case and reports that "Mayer Brown, LLP will file an amicus brief in this case on behalf of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) encouraging the court to uphold the exempt status of the Iranian artifacts under the FSIA. Such ruling would be consistent with contemporary trends in the protection of cultural property as demonstrated by U.S. federal and state laws, and international treaties.]

    Persepolis skatter i rättslig tvist, By Ashk Dahlén in Svenska Dagbladet, 1 september 2008.

    Battle over Persepolis Fortification Archive: Achaemenid Administrative Archives, By A.J. Cave in Payvand's Iran News ... 09/24/08

    Iran seeking more docs for case of Achaemenid tablets, TEHRAN, Sept. 23, 2008 (Mehr News Agency)
    ["Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization (CHTHO) is searching for more documents to enable the country to win the court case against the University of Chicago on the matter of the Achaemenid tablets. CHTHO’s Judicial Office has set up a team of experts to look for the documents at the archives of Iran’s Customs Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and former prime ministerial office -- present Presidential Office, the office director Omid Ghanami told CHN on Monday..."]

    Libya deal may be model for others: U.S. looking to press more into paying for role in attacks, By Bay Fang, Chicago Tribune Washington bureau, September 6, 2008
    [Persepolis Fortification Archive lawsuit in the context of theis week's Libyan claims settlement agreement]

    Should Iran Treasure Be Held for Ransom?, By Chris Sloan in Stones, Bones ‘n Things (a National Geographic Society blog),Posted Aug 18,2008
    ["...The tension surrounding these tablets reminds me of the current tension between the nations of Iran and the U.S.. There is a lot of old baggage, politics, pain and loss, and blustering. Cultural heritage should not be used as a weapon against nations. It is world heritage we're talking about..."]

    Earth still ‘best trustee’ for Achaemenid palace, TEHRAN, Aug. 13 (MNA)
    [On the backfilling of the site in Sorvan near Nurabad Mamasani in Fars Province, believed by the excavators to be the location of the place "Liduma" mentioned in the Persepolis Fortification Archive.]

    Background on Persepolis Artifact Case, By rash Hadjialiloo , National Iranian American Council, Jun 27, 2008

    Hague Tribunal Figures in Terror Case Involving Iran, Chicago Museum, By JOSH GERSTEIN, Staff Reporter of the Sun, July 17, 2008
    ["...On Monday, Iran's representative wrote to the tribunal's clerks asking for various documents filed in connection with the American-Iranian dispute. "The documents are to be produced to the plaintiffs in a litigation pending before a domestic court," M.H. Zahedin-Labbaf wrote, a court filing in Chicago shows.

    Clerks for the tribunal, whose cases often drag on for years, wrote back the same day that they would not provide the documents. "We respectfully inform you that we are unable to comply," the international court's co-registrars, Jessica Hilburn-Holmes and Ali Marossi, wrote, citing tribunal rules which keep such records confidential....]

    Terror Case Judge: Iran Must Identify U.S. Assets, By JOSH GERSTEIN, Staff Reporter of the Sun, June 30, 2008
    ["In an apparently unprecedented move, a federal judge in Chicago is ordering the government of Iran to comply with the requests of terrorism victims that the Islamic nation identify of all of its real estate holdings, financial assets, and other property in America. In issuing the order last week, Judge Blanche Manning effectively rejected the advice of the Bush administration that the court should put limits on what Iran is required to disclose about its American assets...]

    Legal Dance on Persepolis Artifacts Continues, By Arash Hadjialiloo, NIAC, 06/23/08, Payvand.

    NIAC: Struggle over Persian artifacts continues, June 19, 2008, IRANCOVERAGE.

    'They can give us justice': Families of Marines killed in Lebanon join suit seeking Iran funds, May 30, 2008, By Dave Newbart, Sun-Times News Group.
    ["... While the Marine families wanted to proceed with their own case against Iran, Manning this week consolidated their claim with the one already pending. David Strachman, attorney for the mall victims' families, said that decision amounts to "terrorism victims attacking other victims. ... It's unseemly for lawyers for one gr
    US terrorism claimants compete for Iranian assets, By Andrew Stern. Reuters Thu May 29, 2008 6:27pm EDT.
    [".. Families of those killed in the Beirut Marine barracks bombing 25 years ago staked their claim on Thursday to ancient Persian clay tablets, on loan to a U.S. museum, to satisfy a $2.7 billion judgment won against Iran..."]

    Judge Gives Terror Victims a Victory Over Iran: Rules in Case Involving Artifacts Held by Chicago Museums, By JOSH GERSTEIN, Staff Reporter of the New York Sun, May 28, 2008.
    ["In a ruling released yesterday, Judge Blanche Manning ordered the Iranian government to produce its records about how tens of thousands of ancient tablets and other antiquities ended up in the university's collections. In a five-page decision, Judge Manning rejected each of Iran's arguments against allowing discovery in the case. The Islamic Republic's claims that such procedures would lead to similar actions against America and other countries were "overblown," she found"]

    US takes 3D shots of Iran inscriptions, PressTV, Sun, 13 Apr 2008 22:48:42

    Achaemenid inscription names uncle of Darius in Old Persian for first tim, Tehran Times.

    Heritage on a store shelf: U.S. federal court threatens Iranian-American heritage, by Arash Hadjialiloo , 16-Mar-2008,

    NIAC enlists major law firm to protect Persian Tablets, by Shadee Malaklou, Mar 12, 2008, National Iranian American Council (NIAC) Newsletter.

    Federal Court Threatens Iranian-American Heritage, by Arash Hadjialiloo , Mar 12, 2008, National Iranian American Council (NIAC) Newsletter.

    Rubin v. Islamic Republic of Iran: latest reported opinion. Higher Ed Law Prof Blog: A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network.

    اقتباس يا ابتكار، ميراثی از كورش يا داريوش خط ميخی فارسی باستان. آخرين به روز رسانی, ۱۳۸۶/۱۱/۲۹ - ۱۱:۵۱.

    Iran's Arfaei finds new Elamite words. Press TV, Sun, 27 Jan 2008 22:25:23.

    Of Ancient Empires and Modern Litigation. Tableau: The Magazine of the Division of the Humanities at the University of Chicago, Fall/Winter 2008

    Rubin v. The Islamic Republic of Iran - A Struggle for Control of Persian Antiquities in America, James A. Wawrzyniak, Harvard Law School, 2007
    ["This paper analyzes the multi-jurisdictional attachment and execution proceedings taking place sub nomine Rubin v. The Islamic Republic of Iran. The Rubin litigation raises novel issues in the areas of art law and foreign relations. The first section of the paper evaluates whether third parties have standing to raise a sovereign state’s immunity under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (“FSIA”). The second delves into the particulars of the commercial use exception to the FSIA. The final section considers various provisions of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2001, a new law with little judicial gloss. These three main issues are evaluated within a broader art law framework as historic and valuable Persian antiquities stand at the center of the execution proceedings."]

    The Persepolis Tablets: Terror Victims Target Ancient Persian Artifacts, By Alicia M. Hilton. American Bar Association Litigation Update - Hot Topics, April 2007
    [n.b.: This is not a new article but it was not seen by me until today, Jan. 16, 2008. Alicia M. Hilton is a Visiting Professor of Law at the John Marshall Law School in Chicago where she teaches Cultural Property and Museum Law, Criminal Procedure, and Undercover Operations and Informant Management Law. Prior to practicing law, she was an FBI Special Agent and an art dealer]

    Achaemenid tablet translation remains unpublished due to lack of funding, TEHRAN, Jan. 1 (MNA)
    [An article on Abdolmajid Arfaei's project to publish the Hallock transliterations of Persepolis Fortification Tablets]

    Justice Dept. 'Helps Iran' in Court Case, by Josh Gerstein, Staff Reporter of the New York Sun, November 23, 2007
    ["...'This court should exercise circumspection in light of the potential foreign policy implications of requiring broad discovery of a foreign sovereign,' a Justice Department lawyer, Rupa Bhattacharyya, wrote in a "Statement of Interest" filed in federal court in Chicago last week. The attorney urged the court to limit the terrorism victims' ability to gather information about the antiquities because Iran is entitled to be treated with "grace and comity" in American legal proceedings..."]

    Roads of time converge in Bolaghi Valley Tehran: 19:36 , 2007/09/10,
    ["...The director of the Parsa-Pasargadae Research Center noted that the University of Chicago has 30,000 ancient Iranian tablets or fragments of tablets bearing cuneiform inscriptions in its possession and has translated 3000 of them, but added that they are gradually being returned to Iran...]

    Iran to redeem Persepolis tablets Sunday, September 09, 2007 - ©2005
    ["An American court is slated to hear on September 25 the case related to Persian tablets loaned by Iran to Chicago University in 1937..."]

    Iran to redeem Persepolis tablets Fri, 07 Sep 2007 14:16:41, PressTV
    ["An American court is slated to investigate the issue of the priceless collection of Persian tablets, loaned to Chicago University."]

    American judge orders seizure of Persian artifacts Tehran, July 31, IRNA
    [An unhelpful and inaccurate summary of the situation]

    Everyday Text Shows That Old Persian Was Probably More Commonly Used Than Previously Thought Science Daily, June 19, 2007

    Everyday text shows that Old Persian was probably more commonly used than previously thought
    University of Chicago Press Release, June 15, 2007
    ["For the first time, a text has been found in Old Persian language that shows the written language in use for practical recording and not only for royal display. The text is inscribed on a damaged clay tablet from the Persepolis Fortification Archive, now at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago. The tablet is an administrative record of the payout of at least 600 quarts of an as-yet unidentified commodity at five villages near Persepolis in about 500 B.C."]

    Discovery of the First Old-Persian-Inscription among the loaned Persepolis’ Fortification-Tablets in the University of Chicago London (CAIS) 31 May 2007
    [Researchers at Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago for the first time have identified an Old-Persian (Aryan) inscription among the loaned Achaemenid-clay tablets, announced Abdolmajid Arfaee, an Iranian Archaeologist with ICHT]

    See also the blog enty PFT at the AOS. The initial publication of the tablet will appear presently in ARTA at Achemenet]

    Confiscation of Iranian tablets to end Press TV, Posted: Wed, 23 May 2007 08:53:13
    [An Iranian official has said the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago has assured Iran the confiscation of its tablets will end]

    Iran restates rights over ancient tablets Press TV, Posted: Wed, 02 May 2007 17:19:02
    [The Judicial Office of Iran's CHTHO has demanded the extradition of Achaemenid tablets, a possession of Iran according to Iran and US law]

    Insulting The Magnificent Persians Hamed Vahdati Nasab , Posted: Mar 28, 2007
    [One of a large number of stories criticizing the film 300, and citing Persepolis tablets as evidence]

    Cultural Barbarians are at the Gate 3/22/07 - Payvand News
    [The Persepolis Fortification Archive mentioned in the context of a discussion of current geo-politics]

    Tablets will Return to Iran 2007-03-11 - Fars News Agency

    Museum GC Oversees King Tut, T. Rex and More: The Field Museum of Natural History general counsel Joseph Brennan March 9, 2007 - The National Law Journal
    [With a comment on the claim against objects of Iranian origin in the Field Museum of Natural History]

    Iran tablets’ fate remains uncertain Friday, February 2nd, 2007 - Chicago Maroon

    University of Chicago not showing goodwill on return of Achaemenid tablets: official January 26, 2007 -
    [This article has been repeated in a variety of Iranian news sources in the past few days]

    No verdict on Iranian clay tablets Monday, January 22, 2007 - ©2005

    Fate of Persian Tablets Still Undetermined Cultural Heritage News Agency, 2007-1-20

    Targeting ancient tablets to settle a score Marketplace, American Public Media, 2007-1-18 [Audio story with transscript]

    A Heritage Threatened: The Persepolis Tablets Lawsuit and the Oriental Institute, by Gil J. Stein, The Oriental Institute News and Notes, Winter 2007

    What are the Persepolis Fortification Tablets?, by Matthew W. Stolper, The Oriental Institute News and Notes, Winter 2007

    'Achaemenid tablets will be repatriated soon' IranMania 2006-12-27

    US Court Postpones Hearing on Iranian Artifacts Fars News Agency 2006-12-26

    Achaemenid tablets will be repatriated sooner or later: official 2006-12-26

    Iranian clay tablets to return home Iranian Student News Agency 2006-12-22

    Iranian Tablets to Be Examined upon Return from US Fars News Agency 2006-11-26

    US Obliged to Indemnify Iran If it Sells Artifacts Fars News Agency 2006-11-21

    London Museum Defends Return of Artifacts to Iran Fars News Agency 2006-11-06

    National Museum Director Assures Return of Tablets to Iran Fars News Agency 2006-10-28

    Art As Anti-Terrorism. Will U.S. Seize Persian Tablets At An American Museum As Compensation For A Suicide Bombing? CBS News Oct. 8, 2006 [with video]

    Iran enters legal fight over Oriental Institute relics Chicago Maroon Oct. 6, 2006

    Worth millions...or priceless? A lawsuit threatens to take ancient Iranian tablets from the Oriental Institute to compensate Hamas terrorist victims University of Chicago Magazine, October 2006

    Embattled Tablets Archaeology News Volume 59 Number 5, September/October 2006

    Iran, US Fight to Protect Artifiacts Voice of America, September 19 2006

    NIAC and IABA Join Forces to Protect Ancient Persian Article Payvand News, July 27, 2006

    Iran UNESCO national commission request support on reclaiming Achaemenian tablets Iranian Students News Agency, July 18, 2006

    In a Lawsuit Aimed at Iran, Terror Victims Focus on Ancient Artifacts in a Chicago Museum New York Times, July 18, 2006

    Iran, U.S. Allied in Protecting Artifacts. Priceless Tablets Sought as Settlement In Lawsuit Over 1997 Hamas Bombing Washington Post, July 18, 2006

    Fight Over Ancient Persian Tablets Goes to U.S. Court NPR Morning Edition, July 17, 2006

    Crime against humanity: Auctioning off Iran's ancient artifacts, July 17, 2006

    Iran wants disputed clay tablets returned from US Washington Post / Reuters, July 12, 2006

    Looting Iran: What the University of Chicago has in its possession is part and parcel of a heritage that belongs to the Iranian people, July 2, 2006

    Are U.S. Courts Biased against Iran? Daniel Pipes' Weblog, June 28, 2006

    Antiquities and Politics Intersect in a Lawsuit New York Times, March 29, 2006

    Victims of terrorist act seek Iranian artifacts Chicago Maroon, January 13, 2006

    U. of C.'s ancient tablets in terror dispute Chicago Sun Times, December 13, 2005

    Oriental Institute returns ancient tablets that explain an empire’s administrative life University of Chicago Magazine's Web log, May 13, 2004

    Going home. First instalment: On University of Chicago's return of ancient tablets to Iran, May 2, 2004

    US scholars woo Iran with return of ancient tablets
    Guardian Unlimited, April 30, 2004

    Oriental Institute will return 300 artifacts to Iran Chicago Maroon, April 30, 2004

    Museum keeps its word, after 67 years Chicago Tribune, April 29, 2004

    Ancient Persian scratch pads going back to Iran from U. of C. Chicago Sun Times, April 29, 2004

    First to dig, first to return University of Chicago Magazine's Web log, April 28, 2004

    Experts Back in Modern Iran to Again Study Ancient Persia New York Times, April 28, 2004

    Researchers translate clay tablets from Persian Empire ABC7 Chicago, April 28, 2004

    University of Chicago returns ancient Persian tablets loaned by Iran University of Chicago Press Release April 28, 2004

    Supreme Court to Hear Case Surrounding Seizure of Iranian Artifacts from Oriental Institute

    Supreme Court to Hear Case Surrounding Seizure of Iranian Artifacts from Oriental Institute
    By Madeleine Moore 
    NEWS  /   November 21, 2017

    The University’s Oriental Institute (OI) is involved in an ongoing Supreme Court case in which American terrorist victims are seeking compensation from the Iranian government through seizing Iranian artifacts from the OI and the Field Museum.

    In September 1997, three suicide bombers associated with the Palestinian terrorist group, Hamas, carried out an attack on a shopping mall in Jerusalem. Among those affected were eight United States citizens, who later filed a civil action case in a U.S. court against the government of Iran and its involvement in providing financial support to the bombers.

    A federal judge in Washington, D.C. awarded the plaintiffs $71.5 million in damages, which the government of Iran refused to pay.

    The plaintiffs have since filed several lawsuits demanding Iranian artifacts and antiquities held by the University as compensation, and have also attempted to seize artifacts from the Field Museum in Chicago and other museums in Massachusetts and Michigan.

    The Supreme Court hearing will be the fourth time the case has gone to court since the plaintiffs were awarded $71.5 million in 2003. The University appealed the decision and since then has won subsequent trials in 2011 and 2014.

    The plaintiffs appealed the 2014 ruling, and it was chosen by the U.S. Supreme Court for review on June 27. The Court is scheduled to hear the case on December 4.

    If the court rules in favor of the plaintiffs, it could set the precedent that a foreign government is subject to the terrorism exception of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) and the property of a foreign government may be attached to a civil judgement, despite the location of the property or current ownership.

    This case could allow the Supreme Court to define what assets can be seized from a state accused of engaging in or supporting terrorism, even when the assets are held or owned by a separate entity unaffiliated with the foreign state.

    The plaintiffs have targeted three collections of ancient Persian artifacts held by the OI and the Field Museum of Natural History in downtown Chicago.

    The artifacts include prehistoric pottery, ornaments, and tablets with Elamite writing, the oldest known writing system from Iran.

    Both the OI and the Field Museum have stated that they own the items, but the plaintiffs maintain that Iran does.

    The case is centered on the FSIA, which places limits on the circumstances in which foreign entities may be sued in U.S. courts. Typically, foreign states are immune from lawsuits or property seizure due to this act.

    However, the plaintiffs have argued that FSIA contains a terrorism exception, which would allow them to request the artifacts as a means of compensation.

    This case has gone to the Seventh Circuit court, stating that there was not an exception included in the act that pertained to the case. This decision created a split with the Ninth Circuit court, which ruled in the plaintiff’s favor.

    The University and Iran have challenged the plaintiffs based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in First National City Bank v. Banco Para El Comercio Exterior de Cuba (Bancec). This case created the “Bancec doctrine,” which states that a case against a foreign state may not be executed on the property of a separate entity.

    According to the University, since it owns the Iranian artifacts and is a separate entity from the government of Iran, the plaintiffs may not seize the artifacts to their case.

    The OI could not be reached for comment by press time.

    Archaeological News on Tumblr

    Ancient barley took high road to China

    First domesticated 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East, wheat and barley...

    James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

    Digital Humanities, Games, and Forgeries at #AARSBL17

    Richard Bautch presented first, and was the first of two papers related to games – the second of which is by me, and I did not take notes during that, obviously, nor will I try the patience of my blog readers by talking about my game again in what is already a long blog post. Bautch teaches […]

    The Archaeology News Network

    Roman shipwrecks found off Egypt's north coast

    Egypt says archaeologists have discovered three sunken shipwrecks dating back more than 2,000 years to Roman times off the coast of the city of Alexandria. A crystal bust thought to be of Roman army commander Marcus Antonius  [Credit: Ministry of Antiquities]Tuesday's statement from Mostafa Waziri, the head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, says the discovery was made in collaboration with the European Institute of...

    [[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

    Jim Davila (

    The Talmud and involuntary manslaughter

    <img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

    American School of Classical Studies in Athens: News

    Meet a Member: Eliza Gettel

    Meet Eliza Gettel, a PhD candidate working on a dissertation on political institutions of the Greek world under Roman imperium.

    Jim Davila (

    British Library Hebrew manuscripts online with translations

    <img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>


    <img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

    Bill Caraher (The New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World)

    Archaeology of North Dakota Quarterly

    Yesterday, I visited the North Dakota Quarterly storerooms. We’re being evicted at the end of the calendar year (not, as we hoped, the end of the fiscal year), and we have about 23,000 back copies of NDQ stored there.

    If you don’t know why I’m blogging about NDQ then you should read this!

    IMG 1389

    These volumes represent a massive commitment of time, imagination, and energy at the Quarterly, and while we know that we can’t keep all of this massive cache of back issues, we simply have to keep some of it.


    IMG 1394

    What captured my attention is that we probably have as many as three complete runs of the Quarterly. This is not trivial since the Quarterly began in 1910 and copies of the “Inaugural Issue” are rare:

    IMG 1252

    They also have numerous copies of issues from the so-called “First Series“:

    IMG 1390 copy

    And a great stack of the 1956 volume which was the first issue of the “Second Series.” Because NDQ had just returned from a hiatus of over 20 years and the first issue of this series did not find its way into many university libraries. 

    IMG 1388

    What is causing me some anxiety is where will this massive collection of NDQ volumes go? On the one hand, the older volumes will make their way into UND’s university archive, but we would love to find a home for the more recent volumes as well which feature significant contributions to the study of Native Americans, Hemingway, and Thomas McGrath as well as innumerable little gems like John F. Kennedy’s address to University of North Dakota’s campus and an interesting reminder to the media to avoid becoming “sedentary professional people ready to accept any fantasy that may be ‘advanced’”.

    What can we do and what should we do with these back issues?

    Jim Davila (

    Disability theory and Rabbinic literature

    <img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

    American School of Classical Studies in Athens: Events

    Why are scientists afraid of portable XRF in archaeology?

    December 05, 2017 - 4:15 PM - FITCH-WIENER LABS SEMINAR Prof. Sariel Shalev The Zinman Institute of Archaeology, University of Haifa

    Archaeological News on Tumblr

    Norman-era castle 'hidden by trees'

    Hidden away on the Mount Stewart estate in County Down is a piece of history - that only now is...

    Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

    The Bible in Its Traditions

    The Bible in Its Traditions
    The Bible in Its Traditions is a project of the École Biblique et Archéologique Française de Jérusalem, the creators of the Jerusalem Bible.

    The goal of this project

    We intend to create the most extensive and helpful set of notes for the entire bible, with information of interest both to biblical scholars and casual readers.
    Old Testament New Testament Synthetic Notes Bibliographic References

    Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

    Traiano: costruire l'impero, costruire l'Europa


    Dal 117 d.c., anno in cui moriva l'imperatore Traiano a Selinus in Cilicia, al 2017 ci sono 1900 anni e la città di Roma celebrerà questo evento con una mostra dal titolo "Costruire l'Impero, creare l'Europa". Marco Ulpio Nerva Traiano, primo imperatore adottivo e non romano (ma ispanico), durante il suo regno portò i domini di Roma alla loro massima estensione.

    Liz Gloyn (Classically Inclined)

    Why do we need monsters?

    I almost feel I should be apologising for the radio silence over here, but I shan’t – I’m just coming out of a very busy period for my admin job at work, plus I’m teaching and trying to write two thousand words a week on the monster project, and I recently realised that while I am doing very well at not committing to more things than I have promised myself I will this year,  I seem to have agreed to do the vast majority of them this term. This means I can look forward to a summer of lying on the lawn and reading critical theory, but it does mean that my bandwidth for blogging at present is rather limited.

    However! One of the things I have done is talk as part of an evening put on by the Institute of Classical Studies about ‘Why Do We Need Monsters?‘ This was great fun for a number of reasons, not least the chance to hear from other people working on monsters in one way or another, and some audience-led experimentation with making our own digital monsters (nothing like seeing where hybrids take people’s fancy). I know that a lot of people were interested in this event but weren’t able to make it, so I’m delighted to say that it was all recorded and is available on Youtube! I link to it here for your delection – enjoy. I start talking at about 40 minutes in, but you should definitely listen to the other talks if you have the time.

    James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

    More Digital Humanities at #AARSBL17

    I wasn’t able to post about yesterday’s Digital Humanities session immediately because of a lack of free wifi, so I saved it for this morning. In the first paper in Monday afternoon’s Digital Humanities session, Hayim Lapin and Yael Netzer spoke about developing a Canonical Text Service for Biblical and Rabbinic texts. A CTS is a […]

    Bryn Mawr Classical Review

    2017.11.46: Plotinus on Beauty and Reality: A Reader for Enneads I.6 and V.1

    Review of Sarah Klitenic Wear, Plotinus on Beauty and Reality: A Reader for Enneads I.6 and V.1. Mundelein, IL: 2017. Pp. li, 302. $29.00 (pb). ISBN 9780865168428.

    2017.11.45: Zwei Liebesgedichte vom Ausgang der lateinischen Antike: Ausonius' Bissula und das Pervigilium Veneris. Studia Classica et Mediaevalia, 15

    Review of Hans-Christian Günther, Zwei Liebesgedichte vom Ausgang der lateinischen Antike: Ausonius' Bissula und das Pervigilium Veneris. Studia Classica et Mediaevalia, 15. Nordhausen: 2017. Pp. 95. €25.00. ISBN 9783959482622.

    2017.11.44: Neue Quellen zum Prozeßrecht der Ptolemäerzeit: Gerichtsakten aus der Trierer Papyrussammlung (P.Trier I). Archiv für Papyrusforschung und verwandte Gebiete - Beihefte, 36

    Review of Bärbel Kramer, Carlos Maria Sánchez-Moreno Ellart, Neue Quellen zum Prozeßrecht der Ptolemäerzeit: Gerichtsakten aus der Trierer Papyrussammlung (P.Trier I). Archiv für Papyrusforschung und verwandte Gebiete - Beihefte, 36. Berlin; Boston: 2017. Pp. viii, 293. $103.99. ISBN 9783110474244.

    Archaeology Magazine

    What Did Virginia's James Fort Colonists Eat?

    JAMESTOWN, VIRGINIA—The Williamsburg Yorktown Daily reports that archaeologists are analyzing food waste left behind by the James Fort colonists and recovered in 2006 from a ground water well. The bones are thought to reflect the period after the Starving Time, the winter of 1609-1610, until 1617, when the governor’s residence was built on the site. “We know a lot about 1607 through 1610, we know a lot about the 1620s on, but this has been a period that has been largely absent from our record to date,” explained assistant curator Hayden Bassett of Jamestown Rediscovery. A “rough sort” of the tens of thousands of bones suggests the colonists ate horses, rats, and venomous snakes during the Starving Time. Cattle bones were scarce in the years before 1610, when meat was shipped from England in barrels, but became more common after live cattle arrived in Virginia in 1610 or 1611. The fact that the team has found few remains of wild deer could reflect the pressure Native Americans put on the colonists, and their reluctance to leave the safety of the fort. To read more, go to "Jamestown's VIPs."

    Noel Tan (The Southeast Asian Archaeology Newsblog)

    New Paper: Evidence for the breakdown of an Angkorian hydraulic system, and its historical implications for understanding the Khmer Empire

    New paper by Lustig et al. in JAS: Reports This paper examines the construction and design of a 7-km long embankment, probably built for King Jayavarman IV between 928 and 941 CE, as part of a new capital. We calculate that the capacities of the outlets were too small, and conclude that the embankment failed, … Continue reading "New Paper: Evidence for the breakdown of an Angkorian hydraulic system, and its historical implications for understanding the Khmer Empire"

    Archaeology Magazine

    Southern Song Dynasty Tombs Excavated in China

    China Hu HongZHEJIANG PROVINCE, CHINA—According to a report in Live Science, two 800-year-old tombs have been unearthed at a construction site in eastern China. Inscriptions identify the tomb occupants as Lord Hu Hong of the Southern Song dynasty, and his wife, née Wu, who was known as the Lady of Virtue. Jianming Zheng of the Zhejiang Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology said that Hu Hong’s tomb had been robbed, but his wife’s tomb was intact, although the inscription in her tomb was illegible. Hu Hong was remembered as a self-educated man who rose through the ranks of government service. In 1193, he was named the “best county magistrate of the year, and later was described as the “Investigating Censor prosecuting the treacherous and the heretical, with awe-inspiring justice,” at a time when the government cracked down on a religious group who criticized Chinese officials for consuming alcohol and having multiple wives. Hu Hong retired from service in 1200, and died in 1203. His wife died in 1206. In the Lady’s tomb, the excavators found gold jewelry, gold combs, gold and silver hairpins, a crystal disc, and a large amount of mercury which may have been intended to preserve her body. Both tombs contained porcelain jars decorated with elephant designs. To read more about the Song Dynasty, go to "Pirates of the Marine Silk Road."

    Smuggled Egyptian Artifacts Recovered in Cyprus

    Cyprus Egyptian artifactsCAIRO, EGYPT—Ahram Online reports that 14 artifacts illegally smuggled out of Egypt were seized in Cyprus by Interpol agents. The items, thought to have arrived in Cyprus in 1986, include ushabti figurines, an alabaster vase inscribed with the cartouche of Ramses II, and 13 amulets depicting the goddesses Sekhmet, Neith, and Isis, and the Udjat and Djed symbols. The artifacts will be handed over to an antiquities official at the Egyptian Embassy in Cyprus. To read in-depth about ancient Egypt, go to "Egypt's Final Redoubt in Canaan."

    Noel Tan (The Southeast Asian Archaeology Newsblog)

    Call for Papers: Conference on ‘Islam in the China Seas’

    Organized by the Centre for the Study of Islamic Culture, The Chinese University of Hong Kong March 26-27, 2018 (Mon & Tues) Hong Kong A vital passage between the Indian and Pacific oceans, the South China Sea, has historically been an arena of competition, as nations and empires have vied for hegemonic control over it … Continue reading "Call for Papers: Conference on ‘Islam in the China Seas’"

    Archaeology Magazine

    Male Skeletons Unearthed at Qumran

    Israel Qumran skeletonsJERUSALEM, ISRAEL—Science News reports that 33 skeletons recently unearthed at Qumran could offer clues to the origins of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were discovered in 11 nearby caves between 1947 and 1956. Anthropologist Yossi Nagar of the Israel Antiquities Authority said the bones were radiocarbon dated to 2,200 years ago, or about the same time that the texts were written. Thirty of the newly excavated skeletons have been identified as males, based upon body size and pelvic shape. A sex has not been assigned to the remaining three skeletons, due to lack of evidence. The men were found to be between the ages of 20 and 50 at the time of death, and none of them bore any signs of war-related injuries. Nagar said the information supports the theory that a sect of celibate men, perhaps the Essenes, lived at Qumran. Small samples of bone were taken before the skeletons were reburied. Scientists may try to obtain DNA from the samples. To read in-depth about the archaeology of Qumran, go to "Scroll Search."

    Noel Tan (The Southeast Asian Archaeology Newsblog)

    Govt Plans to Relocate Hotels From Bagan Archeological Zone

    via The Irrawaddy, 20 November 2017: Plans are being made, but negotiations with specific hotels have not yet begun. The country plans to relocate hotels in preparation of the ancient city’s final nomination dossier to become a Unesco World Heritage Site. Source: Govt Plans to Relocate Hotels From Bagan Archeological Zone

    Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

    A Gazetteer of Roman Villas in Britain

    A Gazetteer of Roman Villas in Britain
    Eleanor Scott
    Leicester : Leicester University Archaeological Research Centre, School of Archaeological Studies, University of Leicester, 1993.
    Leicester archaeology monographs, no. 1. 

    November 20, 2017

    ArcheoNet BE

    Nieuwe handleiding over gebruik van het Digitaal Hoogtemodel Vlaanderen

    Het Digitaal Hoogtemodel Vlaanderen is een zeer gedetailleerde topografische opname van heel Vlaanderen: het biedt een gedetailleerd overzicht vanuit de lucht van de ondergrond. Door zijn precisie en gedetailleerdheid biedt het heel wat nieuwe archeologische informatie over locaties in Vlaanderen. Omdat het gebruik van het Digitaal Hoogtemodel Vlaanderen enige technische kennis vereist, publieerde het agentschap Onroerend Erfgoed een nieuwe handleiding. De publicatie beschrijft de basispraktijken om aan de slag te kunnen gaan met het hoogtemodel en biedt een aantal voorbeelden uit de archeologische praktijk.

    Je kan de handleiding gratis downloaden via

    David Gill (Looting Matters)

    Attic cup surfacing in Munich identified from Medici Dossier

    Athenian cup attributed to the Hegesiboulos painter
    Left: Gorny & Mosch. Right: Medici Dossier (courtesy C. Tsirogiannis)
    An Attic red-figured cup known from the Medici Dossier has surfaced at an auction of Gorny & Mosch in Munich (Auction 252, December 13, 2017, lot 66). This identification has been made by Cambridge-based academic, Dr Christos Tsirogiannis. The attribution is to the Hegesiboulos painter.

    The cup first surfaced at Sotheby's in London on 13-14 December 1982, lot 248 (BAPD 7047). Two items also from this sale, an Attic red-figured amphora attributed to the Berlin painter and a Lucanian nestoris, have already been returned to Italy from two separate North American museum collections (see here). The catalogue entry notes that the cup is being sold with a copy of the Sotheby's catalogue entry.

    The cup then passed into the 'P.C.' collection in southern Germany (a detail apparently unknown to the Beazley Archive).

    The same auction-house has been trying to sell other material identified from the range of photographic archives (also identified by Tsirogiannis): a Gnathian askos, an Etruscan bronze athlete, an Apulian situla and an Apulian krater.

    The auction-house was also named in the investigation known as Operation Ghelas.

    These five examples suggest that Gorny & Mosch need to improve the rigour of their due diligence search prior to sales.

    Gorny & Mosch will, we are sure, be wanting to be seen to co-operate with the Italian authorities.

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    ArcheoNet BE

    Doctoraatsverdediging Lise Saussus

    Op maandag 27 november verdedigt Lise Saussus aan de UCL haar doctoraat in de archeologie, met als titel ‘La métallurgie du cuivre dans les villes médiévales des Flandres et des environs (XIIIe—XVe siècles). Hommes, ateliers, techniques et produits. L’exemple de Douai’. Meer informatie vind je in deze uitnodiging (.jpg).

    Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

    Open Access Journal: POTESTAS: Estudios del Mundo Clásico e Historia del Arte

    POTESTAS: Estudios del Mundo Clásico e Historia del Arte
    ISSN: 1888-9867
    E-ISSN: 2340-499X
    Encabezado de página
     Potestas. Estudios del Mundo Clásico e Historia del Arte es una publicación científica periódica que ofrece investigaciones históricas centradas en el análisis de las relaciones entre la Religión, la Monarquía y el Poder, del mundo clásico al mundo moderno. Su objetivo consiste en la divulgación de propuestas relevantes para la comunidad académica internacional dentro de las disciplinas de la Historia y la Historia del Arte, para lo cual a lo largo de sus nueve años de existencia ha cumplido con su compromiso de publicación de contribuciones originales y de alto contenido científico, siguiendo los parámetros internacionales de la investigación en estas materias.

    See AWOL's List of

    Archaeological News on Tumblr

    Skeletons could provide clues to who wrote or protected the Dead Sea Scrolls

    BOSTON — A decades-long debate over who once occupied a settlement located near the caves where the...

    Peter Tompa (Cultural Property Observer)

    CCP Welcomes Global Heritage Alliance

    The Committee for Cultural Policy has a new sister organization, the Global Heritage Alliance.  Global Heritage Alliance will act as an advocacy organization.  GHA has already submitted Congressional testimony and testimony before CPAC.  GHA hopes to provide decision makers in the Administration and Congress with a much needed pro-museum, pro-collector prospective.

    Archaeological News on Tumblr

    14 ancient Egyptian artefacts including amulets, vase, to be returned from Cyprus

    The Egyptian embassy in Cyprus is set to receive a collection of 14 artefacts that have been stolen...

    ArcheoNet BE

    De nederzetting van Elkab: resultaten van de recente opgravingen

    Egyptologica Vlaanderen organiseert deze week twee interessante lezingen, in Leuven (21 november) en Gent (23 november). Wouter Claes zal er spreken over de resultaten van de recente opgravingen in de nederzetting van Elkab.

    De site van Elkab was al vanaf de vroegste fasen van de Egyptische geschiedenis een belangrijk provinciaal centrum. Ondanks meer dan 100 jaar intensief archeologisch onderzoek is onze kennis van haar bewoningsgeschiedenis echter nog steeds beperkt. Vroeger archeologisch onderzoek was immers voornamelijk gefocust op de grote religieuze en funeraire monumenten van de site. Aandacht voor de oorspronkelijke nederzetting en haar bewoners was er slechts met mondjesmaat waardoor we slechts bitter weinig weten over het ontstaan, de ontwikkeling en organisatie van de bewoning in Elkab.

    Sinds 2009 heeft de archeologische missie van de Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en Geschiedenis haar werkterrein dan ook verlegd naar het systematisch onderzoek van deze nederzetting. De resultaten van deze opgravingen tonen aan dat de bewoning in Elkab teruggaat tot in de Predynastische Periode, meer bepaald het Badariaan (ca. 4500 v.Chr.). Sindsdien kende de site een continue bewoning tot in de Grieks-Romeinse en Koptische periode. Vanaf de Predynastische Periode ontwikkelde deze bewoning zich in de vorm van een tell zoals die de dag van vandaag nog te zien zijn in bijvoorbeeld Edfu of Kom Ombo. De tell in Elkab werd in de loop van de 19de eeuw echter quasi volledig afgegraven door de sebakhin. De nederzetting uit het Oude Rijk en de Vroeg- en Predynastische periode bleef echter onaangeroerd waardoor wij vandaag een unieke kans hebben om deze vroege bewoningslagen effectief op te graven en te documenteren.

    In deze lezing presenteert Wouter Claes de resultaten van de meest recente opgravingen in het nederzettingsgebied van Elkab. Talrijke nieuwe vondsten laten de archeologen toe om stap voor stap het leven in Elkab te reconstrueren maar roepen ook heel wat nieuwe vragen op. Bovendien kregen ze ook een verrassend koninklijk staartje…

    Praktisch: lezing op dinsdag 21 november in Leuven (Mgr. Sencie-Instituut, Erasmusplein 2) en op donderdag 23 november in Gent (Campus Economie UGent, Auditorium Julien Denduyver / lokaal VIII – toegang via Hoveniersberg) .

    Roger Pearse (Thoughts on Antiquity, Patristics, putting things online, and more)

    From my diary

    The leaves are falling, the dark days are beginning, the pre-Christmas rush at work is underway, and winter colds are starting to appear.  I’ve been unable to progress any of my projects.  Indeed I am only able to blog today because of a cold which has prevented me working, and, of course, from doing much else.  So there is little news.

    I have a new commission out there, for a translation of the Vita Compilata of St Nicholas of Myra.  I don’t know that it will be ready for Christmas, but we’ll see.  This is one of the early lives of the Saint, and probably dates to the 9-10th century, prior to the mass revision of Greek Lives undertaken by Simon Metaphrastes.

    These documents are not all that interesting historically, but they are the earliest form of the legends of St Nicholas.  It seems extraordinary to me, in a world filled with universities and Greek language courses, that the materials for a figure like Santa should be left to little old me to translate.  But so it is.

    I expect to get at least a couple of weeks off at Christmas, so I will be able to do more work on Eutychius then.

    A small pile of books is growing on the side here, of books to be chopped up and fed through the scanner.  They are all volumes which will be of more use in electronic form than in paper form.  Converting them takes relatively little time; but this I have not had.

    I’ve also been disposing of novels that I no longer feel any urge to reread.  My book collection is slimming down for the first time in years.  I read quite a lot of trashy fantasy/science fiction novels.  I have found that purchasing these on Kindle and reading them in the evening on my smartphone in the hotel works quite well.  It also reduces the amount of storage space.  There are quite a lot of kindle-only space operas, thankfully.  So I think that, if even I am doing it, probably there is a general shift going on, away from paper fiction.   That said, I find that I feel considerably less regard for a kindle book than I do for a volume in paper form.

    We often hear that stuff put online never goes away.  This is not actually true, however.  Even do not preserve everything.  This weekend I discovered that an alumni magazine for York University had vanished, containing an article of considerable importance to me.  Fortunately I had kept a copy of the PDF; and I have today uploaded it to my own site.  It will be most interesting to see whether Google can find it there, and if so, how quickly.

    Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

    Incestual Relations: CCP Welcomes Global Heritage Alliance

    American Committee for Cultural Policy welcomes Global Heritage Alliance, a new cultural policy advocacy organization,

    but, but... they are basically the same old guys... there's nothing much 'new' in what they are saying and doing. Same old story.

    Roger Pearse (Thoughts on Antiquity, Patristics, putting things online, and more)

    St Nicholas of Myra in the Greek Synaxarium – now online in English

    Christmas is coming, and, as it happens, I have a new translation for you.  This is another piece of the medieval St Nicholas of Myra material, all edited by G. Anrich in Hagios Nikolaos back in 1902.

    In the Greek orthodox church, various days are marked as saints’ days, and a short life of the saint is included in the church service for that day.  These materials for each saints’ day are included in a 12-volume collection known as the Menaion, or the Synaxarium.

    There are two versions of the Life of St Nicholas in the manuscripts, a longer one and a shorter one (itself in two versions).  Anrich printed them all as section VIII of his book.  These are translated below.

    These were translated by Fr Albert Iustinos.  This is the pen-name of a monk on Mount Athos.  I think that he has done a splendid job, and I am looking forward to a translation of the Vita Compilata (Anrich section IX) in due course.  Thank you very much!

    As ever, these are public domain.  Do whatever you like with them, personal, educational or commercial.

    Archaeological News on Tumblr

    These may be the world’s first images of dogs—and they’re wearing leashes

    Carved into a sandstone cliff on the edge of a bygone river in the Arabian Desert, a hunter draws...

    Penn Museum Blog

    “Excuse Me Miss, What Newspaper Are You From?” – Leniqueca Welcome

    “I’m going to finish setting up here. Go ahead! You are free to talk to people and collect the information you need. You are very safe here [he smiled in reassurance]. Just let me know if you need anything, OK?” Anthony probably read my reluctance to leave his side that Saturday afternoon at the launch of the Sports Festival (a sports event organized by Anthony’s team at the East Port-of-Spain Development Company to bring together community members of various areas cut off from each other by gang conflict) as the anxiety that is typical of strangers to Laventille entering the area notorious as a crime hotspot. Anthony was right that I was anxious, but likely wrong about why.

    This summer was my second official field stay in Laventille, Trinidad, working to collect narratives that trouble its representation as a violent space. Also, the satellite army post behind the football field on which we were standing, and the strong police presence, made this one of the most secure spaces I had ever been in so I never felt any danger. No, I was not anxious about security. Mine was the anxiety of an introverted ethnographer. One of the most nerve wracking tasks for an ethnographer like me can be starting conversations with people, especially in a group setting. I scanned the area. Leaving Anthony’s side would mean talking to people. It would mean disrupting residents’ leisure time. Would I want to be bothered by a researcher when I just came out to have some fun and watch some football (soccer)? No. When I finally gathered the courage to leave Anthony’s side, I climbed to the spot at the top of the bleachers with the fewest people and pulled out my safety blanket—my camera.

    Spectators at the Sports Festival. (Photo by the author).

    As I leaned against the railings fiddling with the settings of my Nikon D3300 DSLR camera settings, a fellow spectator approached me.

    “Excuse me miss, what newspaper are you from?” I looked down at my DSLR camera.

    “None…unfortunately [chuckle]. I’m actually a researcher, an anthropologist.”

    “Oh like the people that dig up stuff!”

    “No, I’m not that type of anthropologist, those are archaeologists. And yeah they are the most popularly known branch of anthropologists. [Pause] I’m what they call a cultural anthropologist and I guess you could say I study social issues as they are happening in communities. I work here in East-Port-of-Spain and really try to hear from residents their stories.” As I took in a breath I wished I could have been less awkward in my introduction of my research.

    “Oh well you need to talk to Drink, he coaches the official football team here and he could tell you what you need to know. Let me introduce you…”

    I spent most of that afternoon with Drink learning about his work with the Laventille football team; the opportunities and relationships the team has afforded players; the institutional support a special branch of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service has provided for the team; and his own personal history including the fascinating story of how he got the name Drink (hint: it has nothing to do with alcohol). This was the first of a number of conversations in my six weeks in the field this summer that began with my mistaken identity as a reporter due to my safety blanket-turned research assistant camera.

    Working in Laventille, a site within Trinidad which is heavily reported on negatively in the media and frequently researched, I am very conscious of the ways my presence in this place could be interpolated by residents, particularly the possibility of making them feel further surveilled, caricatured, or othered. This often makes meeting new interlocutors a nerve-racking task as I worry about how to make people feel more comfortable around me. However, since carrying my camera around more consistently at public events I have stumbled into using it as an engagement tool. With social media making hypervisibility the norm, people generally seem to be interested in having their pictures taken to be featured on public forums—strangely enough in many situations it seems as though my camera puts people at ease. Within my field site people are also drawn to my camera by their desire for an alternative to the sensationalized representation of them by the media (it is noteworthy that no official media outlets covered the peaceful event that day despite formal invitation).

    Coach “Drink,” coach of the Laventille United Football team, and son. The photo was taken at the launch of the Sports Festival. (Photo by the author).

    One of the Under 15 (age category) football players. (Photo by the author).
    Children playing on the periphery of a football field and doing cartwheels for the camera. (Photo by the author).

    In more ways than one, photography has become an essential part of my research process. I am thankful to the Penn Museum for funding my travel to Trinidad and Tobago and enabling my engagement with people through the presence and technology of the camera. I am also happy to honor my promise here to some of the people I met that day—the promise that their pictures would not be in a newspaper but it would however make it on a website.


    Leniqueca Welcome is a graduate student in the Anthropology Program.

    Walls, Walls Everywhere, and None of Them in a Line – Kurtis Tanaka

    Returning to a project after a few seasons absence can be at once rewarding and disorienting; rewarding to see the progress and preliminary results made in the meantime, disorienting to pick up where you remember leaving things when last you were there. Certainly this was my experience at the Gordion Project this summer, to which I had returned after spending three seasons in northern Greece. I could barely believe my eyes when seeing how the small 10×10 m trench we had begun digging four years ago had expanded into a massive 30×40 m (or there about) open area with a wealth of incredibly preserved fortification walls and other features, a true testament to how much a few archaeologists and a small team of tireless workmen can accomplish in a few weeks over the summer.

    The author excavating timbers from the Middle Phrygian Period (Photo by Simon Greenslade).

    I should probably back up a bit and explain what we were doing and why. Gordion, of course, is one of the Penn Museum’s oldest and longest-running projects, and in this current excavation campaign, we are seeking to explore how access to the Gordion citadel mound from the lower town was managed. Using a combination of remote sensing techniques we opened the trench four years ago over what we thought was a gatehouse (it wasn’t, but that is another story), and have continued expanding the excavation area in the seasons since. Though the finds from the trench have been modest (even when it comes to that great archaeological survivor, pottery, there is astonishingly little), the surviving fortifications revealed in the trench have provided a wealth of information on the use history of this area from the Early Phrygian period (beginning ca. 950 BCE) to the Late Phrygian period (ca. 540 BCE) and even into Roman times. Indeed, last year the team uncovered a street leading from the lower town up to the citadel mound, with amazingly preserved walls lining it, a veritable Phrygian boulevard. These walls and their relationship to the rest of the known fortification structures around the citadel, however, proved to be a vexing topic, impressive though they were. Walls would seem to start and stop, reappear on a different axis and then disappear again, probably the result of later robbing out of the blocks during the Roman period. How they all related given their different phasing and the fact that the all seem to be on their own axes required some imagination when trying to reconstruct how the gate area functioned as a whole. The work, of course, is still ongoing and continued excavation will hopefully help us piece together our errant walls.

    Work already in full swing as the sun rises (Photo by Simon Greenslade).

    Other surprises still abound, however. The Phrygians often used juniper timbers in construction, and this season we found four large logs, remarkably well preserved, in a line next to one of the walls. Excavating these 2,900-year-old pieces of wood was a time-consuming process, but after a week of painstaking work, we were able to reveal and lift them whole out of the trench. What, exactly they were doing next to the wall and how said wall relates to the others is still, naturally, an open question. We might, however, have a bit of comparanda that may clue us in: more timbers were found by another one of our walls, perhaps put there for a similar purpose. What that purpose might be will have to wait another year, however, for as always happens on excavations, big finds tend to crop up at the bitter end, and these were found on the next to last day of the season. So we’ll just have to wait to see what answers, and new questions, arise next year, at Gordion.

    The Area 1 team pauses for a group photo (Photo by Sarah Leopard).

    James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

    Spectral Imaging of Palimpsests at #AARSBL17

    I presided over a session this morning about the use of spectral imaging technology to study palimpsests, i.e. the use of invisible ranges of light to be able to see the erased texts in manuscripts that were scraped and reused. The session focused on the technology used and the Sinai and Jubilees palimpsest projects. St. […]

    The Archaeology News Network

    Bronze Age burial of 'shaman' discovered in Slovakia

    Archaeologists found an interesting discovery when researching the area of the transport infrastructure for Jaguar Land Rover and accompanying industrial park in Nitra. They found a human skeleton from the Bronze Age that was probably a shaman. He was not buried in a standard grave but placed in hole serving a food storage. Credit: Klaudia Daňová, Spectator“When the hole was not used anymore, people backfilled it with soil and this...

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