Maia Atlantis: Ancient World Blogs

Tom Elliott (

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November 25, 2014

Laboratoire Orient et Méditerranée

La rive orientale de la mer Rouge, d'Aqaba aux Îles Farasan durant l'Antiquité

Conférence donnée par Laila Nehmé
dans le cadre du Séminaire "Techniques et économies de la Méditerranée antique" dirigé par Jean-Pierre Brun.
- Pour en savoir plus sur ce séminaire

JPEG - 143.5 ko
Carte de la Coste d'Arabie, Mer Rouge et Golphe de Perse, tirée de la carte Françoise de l'Océan Oriental - 1754

November 21, 2014

Laboratoire Orient et Méditerranée

L'hittitologie aujourd'hui : études sur l'Anatolie hittite et néo-hittite à l'occasion du centenaire de la naissance d'Emmanuel Laroche

Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations, Université Koç, Istiklal cadd. 181, Beyoglu/Istanbul

Colloque organisé par Alice Mouton et l'Institut Français d'études anatoliennes (IFEA)

Ces rencontres se tiendront à l'occasion du centenaire de la naissance d'Emmanuel Laroche

- Consulter le programme


November 14, 2014

Laboratoire Orient et Méditerranée

Le christianisme syriaque en Asie centrale et en Chine

XIIe Table ronde de la Société d'études syriaques :
Le christianisme syriaque en Asie centrale et en Chine

- Consulter le programme

La Société d'études syriaques organise chaque année une table ronde thématique à l'intention de ses membres, des syriacisants français et étrangers, et de tous ceux qui sont intéressés par les cultures syriaques en Orient, en Asie et en Occident.

Chaque table ronde débouche sur un volume publié l'année suivante dans la collection Etudes syriaques.
Derniers volumes parus :
Les Pères grecs dans la tradition syriaque (2007)
L'Ancien Testament en syriaque (2008)
L'historiographie syriaque (2009)
Le monachisme syriaque (2010)
La mystique syriaque (2011)
L'hagiographie syriaque (2012)
Les églises en monde syriaque (2013)
Les sciences en syriaque (2014)

informations :

avec le soutien du Labex RESMED

Les mots de la paix

Journée d'étude organisée dans le cadre du projet de recherche :
La paix : concepts, pratiques et systèmes politiques

- Télécharger le programme

October 23, 2014

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Cuno in Praise of "Encyclopaedic Museums" (Again)

It is wrong to Repatriate Museum Artefacts says Getty's James Cuno, back to singing from his old and discredited songsheet from yesteryear ('Culture War: The Case Against Repatriating Museum Artifacts
' Foreign policy Nov/Dec 2014). Disappointingly, we see the same old arguments trotted out:
governments are increasingly making claims of ownership of cultural property on the basis of self-proclaimed and fixed state-based identities. Many use ancient cultural objects to affirm continuity with a glorious and powerful past as a way of burnishing their modern political image -- Egypt with the Pharaonic era, Iran with ancient Persia, Italy with the Roman Empire.
Yes, and England, Scotland and Wales, the USA, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland and a about 180 countries like them have of course never done anything like that have they Mr Cuno? They are all immune to the allure of seeing their identity in some form of a shared past in your eyes? Come on, pull the other one and open your eyes. Another indication that the bloke has his blinkers on is the remark that, according to Cuno: "in order to use cultural objects to promote their own states’ national identities"
Rather than acknowledge that culture is in a state of constant flux, modern governments present it as standing still.
Not true. The picture of cultural flux represented by the array of objects in any national collection is really nothing of the kind. We have museum complexes which show cultural development of the culture of a country from prehistory to modern times in many big cities all over the world. Take Berlin, London, Washington, Warsaw, Paris, Madrid, Cairo as just a few examples that this attempt to pass nonsense off as a general truth is simply at odds with the facts. Cuno then trots out the tired old whine on "encyclopedic (sic) museums" which serve to "encourage curiosity about the world and its many peoples". Just a minute ago Cuno was arguing that objects do not represent peoples. Now he says they do. And so on. He proposed exactly the same ideas back in 2008, and seems not to have profited an iota from the subsequent discussion. So what's the point in discussing what he says? It is the same old old story as with other areas of the pro-collecting lobby - a complete waste of time trying to engage with their specious self-interested arguments.

Cuno in this text fails adequately to differentiate the two quite separate reasons why objects are "repatriated". the first is because they were acquired illicitly, immorally after the 1970 UNESCO guidelines. For this there is no excuse and the objects should in every case be forfeit. The other issue is stuff taken before 1970 which the 'source (exploited) entity would like back, please'. (I treat cases like this in my separate 'Cultural Property Repatriation' blog. I really cannot see why there is any confusion). I personally think such claims should be considered on their merits, and I assume that many of my readers will agree on this. Cuno obviously does not. He dismissively refers to calls for repatriation of some of them as  "frivolous" and "stubborn", and to "combative and sometimes dubious claims for restitution", even if the removed objects are now recognized as cultural property that a state deems to have “fundamental significance from the point of view of the spiritual values and cultural heritage of [its] people”  taken out of a country through “colonial or foreign occupation or as a result of illicit appropriation”. Cuno complains that
individual countries alone determine when something is part of their cultural heritage: there is no international institution with the authority to make that determination. A national government or state-backed entity can even declare a preceding state’s or regime’s self-proclaimed national cultural property idolatrous and destroy it, and there is nothing any other country or any international agency can do to stop it.
Lenin statues in Ukraine and post-independence Poland come to mind here. I wonder byt what right Cuno imagines he or anyone else has the right to decide what stands in our streets and public places and why. The whole point of the 1970 UNESCO Convention was as a recognition of states' right to self-determine its own heritage, not have Cuno or anyone else dictating from outside what it can and cannot be. Yet that is precisely how the US reads their accession as a state party to the Convention. They alone among states parties imagine it somehow gives them the 'right' to dictate to other states parties what they are allowed to treat as their heritage and how they are to go about protecting it at the dictates of Uncle Sam. Obviously that is an utter perversion of the aims of that Convention.

Cuno favours a client-patron relationship between the Oriental Gentlemen who have no 'encyclopedic museums' of their own and loans bestowed by the gracious patrons of the countries that have. No strings attached of course.  
For encyclopaedic museums to fulfil their promise of cultural exchange, they should be established everywhere in the world where they do not now exist.  
A laudable aim in itself, as long as they are stocked with objects of wholly (and demonstrably) licit provenance. Cuno suggests that a loan programme
would lay the foundation for a greater understanding of the values represented by the encyclopaedic museum: openness, tolerance, and inquiry about the world, along with the recognition that culture exists independent of nationalism. These ideas can flourish everywhere, not only in the United States and Europe but wherever there is a spirit of inquiry about the world’s rich and diverse history. 
I would question whether museum displays of trophy objects exist somehow outside chauvinism of any kind, it seems to me that the accumulation of objects in the British Museum (note the name), the Metropolitan Museum, the Getty even seem to be carriers of message about the relationship of those who put them together and the heritage of the past which is represented by the objects in the collection. These collectors have appropriated the past to serve their own purposes. It may not at all times be labelled 'nationalism', but these accumulations are far from neutral in significance. Neither is the taunting suggestion that third world countries are failing to meet the standards (set from outside) of US-compliant 'enlightenment' if they do not strive for an encyclopaedic museum of their own.

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

Star Wars Meets The Princess Bride


Via Pinterest. And as a bonus, from the same source and on the same theme:



October 22, 2014

Ancient Art

Anthropomorphic tubular duct flutes. Both from ancient Mexico,...

Anthropomorphic tubular duct flutes.

Both from ancient Mexico, the first is either Maya or Veracruz, and the second is from Colima. The first dates to the Late Classic (AD 600-900), and the second is earlier at about 300 BC- AD 200.

Tubular duct flutes in the collection illustrate the variety of aerophones that typify the musical instrument repertoire of different societies during Late Classic times in Mesoamerica. They share the modeling of the human figure as their primary decorative program, but these range from the dramatic naturalism of near portraiture seen on this Veracruz or Maya flute [first image], to the schematized portrayal on the fluted instrument, and ending with the extreme minimalism of the figural rendering on the double-chambered flute from Colima [second image].

Each instrument holds its unique potential for creating a variety of tones and sounds of different timbres, depending on the force of wind entering the mouthpiece and sound chamber(s) as well as the positioning of the player’s fingers (when applicable). Although the casual musician can produce acceptable sounds from these instruments, practiced skill is required to achieve their full effect. (Walters)

Artefacts courtesy of & currently located at the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, USA. Via their online collections2009.20.1352009.20.138.

David Gill (Looting Matters)

US Government Pays $425,000 for Legal Case

It now appears that the US Government has had to pay $425,000 in legal fees and costs to the St Louis Art Museum (Jenna Greence, "Feds Lose Fight Over Ancient Mummy Mask", National Law Journal October 21, 2014).

The mask was purchased for $499,000 in 1998.

Pat McInerney of Dentons and Husch Blackwell was quoted:
"The Mask of Ka-Nefer-Nefer was a fascinating case that ultimately showed the extent to which the government unfortunately overreached in an attempt to literally take an artifact from the Saint Louis Art Museum using a lawsuit the court said was ‘completely devoid of any facts’ supporting their claims,” McInerney of Dentons said. “Credit really belongs to the art museum and its leadership for not caving in to the government's threats and, after winning the case, for compelling the government to pay the cost of defending a lawsuit that never should have been filed."
There are continuing questions about the acquisition that need to be resolved. The key ones are these:

  • When did curators at SLAM become aware that the mask was linked with Saqqara?
  • Did curators at SLAM contact the Egyptian SCA on learning that the mask was linked to Saqqara?
  • When was the personal name of Ka-Nefer-Nefer removed from the hand on the mask?

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EAGLE News: Europeana Network of Ancient Greek and Latin Epigraphy

EAGLE 2014 International Conference: The IGCyr | GVCyr corpora

By Alice Bencivenni (University of Bologna)


The IGCyr | GVCyr demonstration site is now available.

The Inscriptions of Greek Cyrenaica (IGCyr) and the Greek Verse inscriptions of Cyrenaica (GVCyr) are two corpora, the first collecting all the inscriptions of Greek (VII-I centuries B.C.) Cyrenaica, the second gathering the Greek metrical texts of all periods. These new critical editions of inscriptions from Cyrenaica are part of the international project Inscriptions of Libya (InsLib), incorporating Inscriptions of Roman Tripolitania (IRT, already online), the Inscriptions of Roman Cyrenaica project (IRCyr, in preparation), and the ostraka from Bu Ngem (already available on the website

A comprehensive corpus of the inscriptions of Greek Cyrenaica is a longstanding desideratum among the scholars of the ancient world. Greek inscriptions from Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic Cyrenaica are currently scattered among many different, sometimes outdated publications, while new texts have been recently discovered and edited. For the first time all the inscriptions known to us in 2014, coming from this area of the ancient Mediterranean world, will be assembled in a single online and open access publication. An essential addition to the IGCyr and GVCyr corpora, as well as a natural outcome of the study of the inscriptions, is the planned publication of the Prosopographia Cyrenaica.

Catherine Dobias-Lalou is the main epigraphy researcher working on these comprehensive epigraphic corpora in EpiDoc in cooperation with scholars from the University of Bologna, the University of Macerata, the University of Roma Tor Vergata, the University of Paris-Sorbonne and King’s College London. Although the edition of the inscriptions is still in progress, the team working on the project wish to share with others the structure of the publications and the research approach. For this reason three of the texts which will be published and a selected bibliography are included in the demonstration site.  The website, hosted by the University of Bologna, has been developed and is maintained by the CRR-MM, Centro Risorse per la Ricerca Multimediale, University of Bologna.

Mary Beard (A Don's Life)

Chapter five


Those of you following the progress of the Rome book I am writing will be pleased to hear that I am getting to the end of chapter five -- which takes the story of Rome from being a power in Italy to being a power in the Mediterranean as a whole. Basically I am talking about 300 BC to 146 BC (the defeat of both Carthage and Corinth), and that includes the Hannibalic war.

To be honest, I have never really taught this period (and it is in teaching that you really get to know something), and -- even worse -- I have always rather reacted against the Boys Own Paper view of Hannibal and his war agaimst the Romans. I mean, to be honest, those elephants were a great PR exercise, but more trouble than they were worth. Elephants are risky in battle -- if they get wounded, they are just as likely to run amok over their own side as over the enemy. Hannibal might have had more success without the big beasts.

But getting down to it, I have found much more vivid and intriguing detail in this period than I had ever imagined. I love the idea, for example, of the elderly Hannibal ending his days advising the king of Syria how to beat the Romans (unsucessfully as it of course turned out).

And I love even more the story of the Syrian prince Antiochus Epiphanes who had been held as a hostage in Rome for several years in the 180s BC and then returned home (in a hostage swap) completey imbued with Roman habits. He apparently dressed himself up in a spruce white toga and went round the centre of his town chatting up voters, like candidates for offices did in Rome. The people of Syria were apparently baffled.

 So actually it's not all about Hannibal and elephants. There are issues of culture and cultural identity here that I'm trying to get my head around.


Melissa Terras' Blog

Reuse of Digitised Content (3): Special Festive Halloween Image Give-away Edition

In my first blog post about reuse of digitised content, particularly images, I suggested that institutions could think about batching up some good images, for people to take and reuse, so they could find them easily. They could also be prepared for people to reuse. But what would this mean, in reality? I decided to have a try, myself. Halloween is approaching - lets look for 5 really cute, public domain images about Halloween, and see if we can make them "more" reusable, whatever that may mean. Like this one:

Isn't she handsome? An illustration tagged with witch, over at the British Library book images photoset, Flickr. Originally taken from "Life & Finding of Dr. Livingstone", 1897.

But bother about all that writing, which makes it unusable on my Halloween party invitations. It would be better if there wasnt all that writing, just the image, right?

Or even, make the background transparent. Ta da! take it and do with it as you like, please do.
Nice, huh? and all this took me was time. An hour or so of grubbing about on flickr, an hour or so of messing around in Photoshop (I'm rusty). And as we all know, time is precious, and institutions dont have that level of time to devote to this kind of thing. Hmmm.

I also wonder what I'm really doing here. Turning images into clip art? erm, yay? Is that what we mean by reuse? But why else are we making images available, if its not for people to take them and do something with them? Does this make them more "useable"? Its certainly more easy to take the image and dump it into a poster, or webpage, etc. We need to ask ourselves what we mean by use and reuse, if we cant conceptualise what that really means in the first place.

But I said 5 images, right? I'm time pressed at the moment (shortly off on a big work trip), so - being honest here - I signed up for the first time to Fiverr, where you can get a myriad of small tasks done for $5, and bought some photo retouching for photos, and within an hour, I had four other Halloween images, this time from the Internet Archive Flickr Pool,  converted into black and white, with transparency too. A set of Halloween images! But Fiverr made me feel icky - even though this fixing up would be a relatively simple task for someone with better PhotoShop chops than I to do, and even though I chose someone who said they were a student in a first world country, it just seems such a small amount to pay someone. (I did try to engage them in conversation about that, and offered going hourly rate I would pay a student: they didn't reply). I am happy with the images provided, but I wouldn't advocate institutional use of this type of service if it can be avoided, something about it feels exploitative to me. It was interesting to try. (Perhaps its part of my penance that I share these images here for everyone but... shudder. Is that how we value skills now? Sorry, world. I know is the market economy, but, doesn't mean I have to pay people less than I believe a job is worth).

So now what.

I parked this, and a selection of others I found that I'll put at the bottom of this post, on a group over at Flickr. There's been obvious interest in them, with a total of 50 views or so in 24 hours, even though I didn't tell anyone where they were, yet. So I'll leave them up there, and take them if you like! I think they are cute. Do something, they are in the public domain! they are free! Use them at will! It only cost me time and some perhaps student's time and $5 and the electric that drives the internet and the heavy metals that are in our computers etc etc! and if you fancy telling me how you used them, on here or on twitter, that would be great, but you dont have to because its public domain! woohoo! (I may do some reverse image lookup in a while and see where they got to).

This is a minor experiment - especially compared to my last blog post, which was much more of an investment in both time and money - but it goes back to what I was saying previously about the time and skill needed to use the image content available successfully. Its not all just "there" yet, you need time to sort, and time to manipulate, and resources to do so. It also makes me think of what you read about in pre-print times, when artists' workshops had teams of people working for them who just painted silk, or hair, or skin or whatever, and the whole thing was a production line, where you farmed jobs out to other painters - sure, its a makers revolution, but its one that involves getting a student to do a quick job on PhotoShop for you, or a print shop to do some formatting and printing. You can take the content and do something with it, if you have the resources to both pay for and manage the process. The stuff is in the public domain, and is free. But doing something with it isnt, not really.

Except, of course, I'm not Raphael, I'm just messing about with images taken offline and turned into slightly cleaned up versions of themselves for clip art. I'd like to see a "real" collection do a longitudinal study on the benefits of this, releasing some of their content in different graphic formats, and tracking interest... hmmm, a potential MA student dissertation for this year, perhaps? Its a worthy topic, and one that should be pursued in more than a couple of hours, and a hurried blog post. 

Still, Happy Halloween, and feel free to reuse these in any way you like, should you want to. The full size I have is up here, made smaller to fit in blog format, you know what to do to grab the larger file. Black and white jpgs first, then transparent png. 

Originally taken from the Internet Archive Book Images Flickr Pool. This originally had only a couple of previous views, and isn't it delightful? ripe for putting at the top of any manner of Halloween related paraphenalia...

Originally taken from the Internet Archive Book Images Flickr Pool. It started off pink, mind! 

Originally taken from the Internet Archive Book Images Flickr Pool.

And last but not least, my favourite:

Originally taken from the Internet Archive Book Images Pool.  Brilliant.
All of them over at Flickr, too, if you'd prefer. Have fun! And don't have nightmares.  

AIA Fieldnotes

Sudbury Plantation Uncovered: Archaeological Evidence

Sponsoring Institution/Organization: 
Sponsored by Sudbury Historical Society
Event Type (you may select more than one): 
Start Date: 
Sunday, October 5, 2014 - 2:00pm

Admission: Free
Read more »


Sudbury Historical Society
Call for Papers: 
Right Header: 
Right Content: 

Movie: Raiders of the Lost Ark (with commentary following)

Sponsoring Institution/Organization: 
Sponsored by Plimoth Cinema, Plimoth Plantation
Event Type (you may select more than one): 
Start Date: 
Wednesday, October 15, 2014 - 7:00pm

Adult: $12, Students and Museum Members: $10, Plimoth Cinema Club Card holders: $9
Read more »


Plimoth Plantations
508-746-1622, x8877
Right Header: 
Call for Papers: 
Right Content: 

AMIR: Access to Mideast and Islamic Resources

Database of Southeast Asian Islamic Manuscripts (D'SAIN)

Database of Southeast Asian Islamic Manuscripts

Catalog of Southeast Asian Islamic Manuscripts published by Faculty of Adab and Humanities, Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University Jakarta.

"Database of Nusantara Islam Manuscripts is a database that provides various informations related to Nusantara Islam manuscripts. The database covers a wide range of Nusantara Islam manuscripts-based research—using philological approach or other approaches; conducting by foreign scholars or native scholars. As the center of Nusantara Islam manuscripts, the database not only records the title, author, copyist, language, and literacy texts, but also provides a number of manuscript collections and catalogues including lists, and various publications relating to manuscript which is used as the primary resource of research. In addition, the database provides authors and copyists’ biographical information and their activities. Therefore, Database of Nusantara Islam Manuscripts, as the center of information and research on manuscript that can be accessed online, is very important for the manuscripts-based researches and other researches. Thus, through the information contained in the database of Nusantara Islam manuscript, various topics of research can be developed further, while the potential for duplication and plagiarism cases in the study of manuscript can also be avoided."

AIA Fieldnotes

Evening Lecture on Recent Excavations at Burial Hill

Sponsoring Institution/Organization: 
Sponsored by Sponsor: Plimoth Plantation and the Plymouth Public Library
Event Type (you may select more than one): 
Start Date: 
Wednesday, October 15, 2014 - 7:00pm

Admission: Free
Read more »


Call for Papers: 
Right Header: 
Right Content: 

Massachusetts Archaeological Society Annual Meeting and 75th Anniversary Reception

Sponsoring Institution/Organization: 
Sponsored by Massachusetts Archaeological Society
Event Type (you may select more than one): 
Start Date: 
Saturday, October 11, 2014 - 1:00pm

Adults: $12, MAS Members and Students: $10
Read more »


Massachusetts Archaeology
Right Header: 
Call for Papers: 
Right Content: 

Robbins Museum of Archaeology Open House

Sponsoring Institution/Organization: 
Sponsored by Robbins Museum of Archaeology
Event Type (you may select more than one): 
Start Date: 
Wednesday, October 1, 2014 - 10:00am to Saturday, October 25, 2014 - 2:00pm

Come visit over 10,000 years of local archaeology!  The museum displays thousands of artifacts including a handcrafted mishoon (dugout canoe), the Doyle collection of Native American dolls, and a diorama of Native American New England life.  We accept bookings for groups and offer special tours of our collection at a group admission rate.  Read more »


Massacusetts Archaeology
Right Header: 
Call for Papers: 
Right Content: 

Open Access Archaeology

Open Access Archaeology Digest #579

Excellent Open Access (free to read) articles:

Slavonski Brod, Galovo, Archaological Excavation 2005

Notes on some Undescribed Objects from the Roman Fort at Newstead, Melrose.

Notes of Urns and Sepulchral Monuments discovered at various Times in the Parish of Creich, Fifeshire.

Learn more about Open Access and Archaeology at:

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

The Shame of St Louis

Credit really belongs to the art museum and
its leadership for not caving in to the government's
threats and, after winning the case, for compelling the
government to pay the cost of defending a lawsuit that
never should have been filed."

St Louis, 'senseless lawless farce'
The amazing case of the Ka Nefer Nefer mask which was accepted by a US court as having been in two places at once has come to an end, when the federal government paid $425,000 of taxpayers' cash in attorney fees and costs to Dentons and Husch Blackwell for their work on behalf of the Saint Louis Art Museum, which is about what the museum had paid for the mask in the first place (Jenna Greene, 'Feds Lose Fight Over Ancient Mummy Mask', The National Law Journal October 21, 2014).

Mr McInerney (above) is quite right, the lawsuit should never have had to be filed. The museum, on it transpiring that there was documentation showing the mask could not have reached the European market in the manner in which the supplied collecting history asserted, should jolly well have sent it back either to the seller, or to Egypt. At the same time issuing apologies to the good folk that forked out the purchase funds in good faith (trusting the Museum's trustees to do the job of preventing dodgy acquisitions). Museum ethics and professionalism and simple civilised honesty require nothing less. Instead SLAM decided to be confrontational and brazen it out and they and their lawyers are now congratulating themselves on having trampled all over common decency in pursuit of their trophies. Shame on all involved. Watch this bit:
In 2006, the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities realized it was in St. Louis—and asked for it back. The museum said no.
But it's not a simple as that, is it? This story and the shaming of SLAM and the people of St Louis are not over yet. There is at least one more untold story here. As the Buddha is reputed to have said: "Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth".

Peter Tompa (Cultural Property Observer)


It appears that German collectors and auction houses are now getting "the treatment" from access journalists who make the inflammatory claim that Western collectors are supporting terrorism in Syria and Iraq.

 Even with rudimentary knowledge of German, sophisticated collectors who have seen it all before will recognize the usual cheap tricks—shots of a well-known auction house juxtaposed with scenes of war and looting.  And then there are the interviews with some of the usual suspects—Van Rijn, Muller-Karpe, Bogdanos, etc. who apparently readily agree about a link between terrorism and collecting.   The underlying premise is that that collectors and dealers are funding ISIS and the only way to stop it is to suppress collecting.   

Amusingly, the filmmakers' camera keeps focusing on two solitary lots of early Middle Eastern objects in a German auction—as if all the air time they receive makes up for the lack of hard evidence supporting the filmmaker's thesis.  And, of course, no good propagandist will fail to mention the decade old looting of the Iraq Museum whatever its current relevance.

So what we have is more of a morality play than a true documentary. The heroes, of course, are archaeologists, the Caribinieri (who selflessly help countries like Iraq) and local cops while the villains are terrorists, looters, auction houses, and the shadowy collectors and dealers who support them. 

But this tale is at best incomplete.  Nowhere does anyone pause to consider whether looting is an expression of hatred for the repressive governments that have appropriated the past for their own nationalistic purposes.  And what of the roles of cops and archaeologists in these repressive regimes?Doesn't their unqualified support for nationalistic laws that declare anything "old" to be state property make them partly responsible for the unfolding tragedy?   

Oddly, the filmmakers appear to be operating on much firmer ground in Lebanon than in Germany. Some of the best footage depicts what Lebanese authorities have seized.   Still, CPO can't help wondering if any of the icons that are shown were confiscated from Christian refugees who have escaped with their lives and a few treasured possessions from ISIS.  If so, the filmmakers would be callously adding insult to real injury-- but do they really care given the point they intend to make? 

For what appears to be an English-language short of the same film, see here.

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Open Access Journal: Studia Orientalia Electronica

Studia Orientalia Electronica
ISSN: 2323-5209
Welcome to the website of Studia Orientalia Electronica (StOrE)! StOrE is a peer-reviewed multidisciplinary journal publishing original research articles and reviews in all fields of Asian and African studies. It is an offshoot of Studia Orientalia, an internationally recognized publication series (see for further information on Studia Orientalia and the publisher, Finnish Oriental Society). StOrE was established in 2013 to keep up the fine publishing tradition of Studia Orientalia. The new journal publishes high quality articles in a more modern and accessible format.
The first volume (year 2013) of Studia Orientalia Electronica has been published (see Archives section). Furthermore, some articles of back issues of the printed Studia Orientalia are found in the Archives section and more are coming soon. In the Current section you will find the articles of 2014 (vol. 2) of StOrE.
Interested in submitting to this journal? We recommend that you review the About the Journal page for the journal’s section policies, as well as the Author Guidelines. Authors need to register with the journal prior to submitting or, if already registered, can simply log in and begin the five-step process.


Cover Page

Vol 112 (2012)

Pdf files of Studia Orientalia 112 published in print in 2012.


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Vol 111 (2011)

Pdf files of Studia Orientalia 111 published in print in 2011.
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Vol 110 (2011)

Pdf files of Studia Orientalia 110 published in print in 2010.


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Vol 99 (2004)

Pdf files of Studia Orientalia 99 published in print in 2004.


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Vol 97 (2003)

Pdf files of Studia Orientalia 97 published in print in 2003.
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Vol 95 (2003)

Pdf files of Studia Orientalia 95 published in print in 2003.


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Vol 94 (2001)

Pdf files of Studia Orientalia 94 published in print in 2001.


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Vol 87 (1999)

Pdf files of Studia Orientalia 87 published in print in 1999.
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Vol 85 (1999)

Pdf files of Studia Orientalia 85 published in print in 1999.


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Vol 84 (1998)

Pdf files of Studia Orientalia 84 published in print in 1998.


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Vol 82 (1997)

Pdf files of Studia Orientalia 82 published in print in 1997.


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Vol 75 (1995)

Pdf files of Studia Orientalia 75 published in print in 1995.


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Vol 73 (1994)

Pdf files of Studia Orientalia 73 published in print in 1994.


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Vol 70 (1993)

Pdf files of Studia Orientalia 70 published in print in 1993.

Ancient Peoples

Relief from the Funerary Chapel of Sehetepibre  13th Dynasty,...

Relief from the Funerary Chapel of Sehetepibre 

13th Dynasty, Middle Kingdom

c.1802-1640 BC

The “overseer of troops” Sehetepibre, son of Satankhu was the owner of a commemorative chapel that housed two relief slabs in the collection. On these slabs, he is seen seated at an offering table, and members of his family are depicted as mummies.
Althought hieroglyphs could be written in either direction, the preference was to write from right to left. Thus, the list of Sehetepibre’s family begins at the right of this slab with the two larger mummies identified as Sehetepibre himself and the “lady of the house” Djehutihotep (perhaps his wife). Beside them, from right to left are the couple’s daughter Satankhu; Seka, son of Satmay; Seshemi, daughter of Setankhu; Senebes, daughter of Gifit; and the “overseer of troops” Khentikheti, son of Renesankh.

(Source: The Metropolitan Museum)

AIA Fieldnotes

Explore Ancient Egypt in CultureLab

Sponsoring Institution/Organization: 
Sponsored by Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology
Event Type (you may select more than one): 
Start Date: 
Saturday, October 25, 2014 - 10:00am

Jen Thum, Egyptologist and graduate student at the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, will be in the Museum's CultureLab fro 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. to share what she learned about some of the Museum's Egyptian pieces while you examine them close-up.  Ms. Thum will also share how she deciphered a badly damaged relief block that had been in the Museum for decades and is now finally on display thanks to her work. Read more »


Geralyn Ducady
Call for Papers: 

Archaeology Briefs


The ‘Treasure of Harageh’, a collection of 4,000 year old artifacts discovered in an Egyptian tomb in 1914 has been sold by Bonhams, the international fine art auction house, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York for an undisclosed sum on behalf of the St Louis Society of the Archaeological Institute of America.

Bonhams withdrew the Treasure on the day of the sale to conclude a private treaty deal between the St Louis Society and The Met. The artifacts had been estimated to sell for £80,000 to £120,000 after being consigned to auction by the St Louis Society. Madeleine Perridge, Director of Antiquities at Bonhams, commented: “We are truly delighted that this wonderful collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts is going to The Met where they will be displayed to best effect and provide academics with access. We are very pleased to have found such a satisfactory resolution ensuring that the tomb group will be kept together for posterity. Making connections at this level is part of what Bonhams offers its clients.”

A spokesperson for The St. Louis Society says: “We are very pleased with the outcome. Bonhams representation was superb. The Metropolitan Museum in New York is the best home for The Treasure. We are looking forward to seeing the objects and jewelry on exhibition.”

The Treasure was discovered by a team working under the legendary William Matthew Flinders Petrie, universally regarded as the father of modern archaeology. The team was led by Reginald Engelbach whose career in Egyptology included a term as Chief Keeper of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. The Treasure of Harageh is an important Egyptian tomb group from Harageh, and dates from the period of the Egyptian Middle Kingdom, 12th Dynasty, probably the reign of Sesostris II, circa 1897-1878 B.C.

In October of 1913 the team began excavations at the site of Harageh, 62 miles southwest of Cairo. This site contained an extensive necropolis. The tomb is suggested to have belonged to an elite woman of elevated status, often identified as Iytenhab, on the basis of a funerary stela which may not have been part of the original entombment.

More Information:[/url]
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Dienekes' Anthropology Blog

High coverage genome from 45,000-year old Siberian (Ust'-Ishim)

This is the oldest full genome of a modern human published to date and it also comes from a time (45 thousand years ago) that coincides with the Upper Paleolithic revolution in Eurasia.

45 thousand years ago is probably close to when Eurasians started diverging from each other as they spread in all directions. So, we expect that a human from that time would be "undifferentiated Eurasian" and indeed this seems to be the case.

First the Y-chromosome:
The Y chromosome sequence of the Ust’-Ishim individual is similarly inferred to be ancestral to a group of related Y chromosomes (haplogroup K(xLT)) that occurs across Eurasia today6 (Supplementary Information section 9).
and mtDNA:
The Ust’-Ishim mtDNA sequence falls at the root of a large group of related mtDNAs (the ‘R haplogroup’), which occurs today across Eurasia (Supplementary Information section 8).
It is clear that this was a Eurasian individual:
Based on genotyping data for 87 African and 108 non-African individuals (Supplementary Information section 11), the Ust’-Ishim genome shares more alleles with non-Africans than with sub-Saharan Africans (|Z| = 41–89), consistent with the principal component analysis, mtDNA and Y chromosome results.
It was also more like East Asians than Europeans:
Among the non-Africans, the Ust’-Ishim genome shares more derived alleles with present-day people from East Asia than with present-day Europeans (|Z| = 2.1–6.4).
But, when they compared East Asians with La Brana and MA-1 they didn't see a difference:
However, when an ~8,000-year-old genome from western Europe (La Braña)9 or a 24,000-year-old genome from Siberia (Mal’ta 1)10 were analysed, there is no evidence that the Ust’-Ishim genome shares more derived alleles with present-day East Asians than with these prehistoric individuals (|Z| < 2). This suggests that the population to which the Ust’-Ishim individual belonged diverged from the ancestors of present-day West Eurasian and East Eurasian populations before—or simultaneously with—their divergence from each other. The finding that the Ust’-Ishim individual is equally closely related to present-day Asians and to 8,000- to 24,000-year-old individuals from western Eurasia, but not to present-day Europeans, is compatible with the hypothesis that present-day Europeans derive some of their ancestry from a population that did not participate in the initial dispersals of modern humans into Europe and Asia11.
So it seems that the Ust'-Ishim individual belonged to the same branch as Asians and WHG/ANE and modern Europeans are less like it because they also have "Basal Eurasian" admixture which they inherited via the EEF in the model of Lazaridis et al.

The authors could also get estimates of the mutation rate because this is a 45,000 year old individual that hasn't experienced 45,000 years worth of mutations:
Assuming that this corresponds to the number of mutations that have accumulated over around 45,000 years, we estimate a mutation rate of 0.43 × 10−9 per site per year (95% CI 0.38 × 10−9 to 0.49 × 10−9) that is consistent across all non-African genomes regardless of their coverage (Supplementary Information section 14). This overall rate, as well as the relative rates inferred for different mutational classes (transversions, non-CpG transitions, and CpG transitions), is similar to the rate observed for de novo estimates from human pedigrees (~0.5 × 10−9 per site per year14, 15) and to the direct estimate of branch shortening (Supplementary Information section 10). As discussed elsewhere14, 16, 17, these rates are slower than those estimated using calibrations based on the fossil record and thus suggest older dates for the splits of modern human and archaic populations.
This is a very direct confirmation of the "slow" autosomal rate of ~1.2x10-8 mutations/generation/bp using a technology much different than those used before to estimate this. The slower mutation rate implies that major splits in human history (such as the Out-of-Africa event) took place much earlier than the Upper Paleolithic revolution and the spread of humans across Eurasia. Modern humans probably established an early presence in the Levant/Arabia (consistent with Out-of-Arabia), and invented the Upper Paleolithic-related tools/behaviors there much later, and only then spread across Eurasia.

The authors write:
we estimate that the admixture between the ancestors of the Ust’-Ishim individual and Neanderthals occurred approximately 50,000 to 60,000 years BP, which is close to the time of the major expansion of modern humans out of Africa and the Middle East.
This clinches the hypothesis of Neandertal introgression in Eurasians, as Ust'-Ishim has longer Neandertal segments than modern humans, as one might expect from an individual who experienced this admixture more recently in its evolutionary past than modern humans did. It's probably in the Middle East that the Levantine/Arabian modern humans that expanded Out-of-Africa more than 100 thousand years ago came into contact with Neandertals, admixed with them and later carried this ancestry to the rest of Eurasia. I tend to think that the AMH "colony" was first limited to Arabia and only later (post-70kya) expanded north as the climate deteriorated there. The authors estimate the common ancestor of non-African Y-chromosomes (including E, which is probably a back-migration to Africa) to around 70 thousand years ago which may coincide with the Arabian Exodus event.

Nature 514, 445–449 (23 October 2014) doi:10.1038/nature13810

Genome sequence of a 45,000-year-old modern human from western Siberia

Qiaomei Fu et al.

We present the high-quality genome sequence of a ~45,000-year-old modern human male from Siberia. This individual derives from a population that lived before—or simultaneously with—the separation of the populations in western and eastern Eurasia and carries a similar amount of Neanderthal ancestry as present-day Eurasians. However, the genomic segments of Neanderthal ancestry are substantially longer than those observed in present-day individuals, indicating that Neanderthal gene flow into the ancestors of this individual occurred 7,000–13,000 years before he lived. We estimate an autosomal mutation rate of 0.4 × 10−9 to 0.6 × 10−9 per site per year, a Y chromosomal mutation rate of 0.7 × 10−9 to 0.9 × 10−9 per site per year based on the additional substitutions that have occurred in present-day non-Africans compared to this genome, and a mitochondrial mutation rate of 1.8 × 10−8 to 3.2 × 10−8 per site per year based on the age of the bone.


The Archaeological Review

The Destruction of a Temple Monument

 This slab is one of five known examples which may have once been a screen wall in a temple though the location of that temple is vague. The slab was found reused as filler in a later construction in Alexandria, and appears to be one of the British Museum's earliest Egyptian objects entered in its collection as a gift of King George III in 1766, (EA22).

When I saw the slab in the "Eternal Egypt" exhibition at the Royal British Columbia Museum it was a most gorgeous object and the wall must have been a remarkable site in which ever temple it once stood. On the more damaged side is a crude inscription in Greek relating to a restoration in the Roman period.(1a)

Three of these slabs are inscribed for the first king of the 30th dynasty King Nectanebo I, and two are inscribed for earlier kings of the 26th dynasty including the first king of the dynasty Psamtik I and Psamtik II.(2) On the British Museum's slab the decoration of the more damaged side includes an offering scene with the king kneeling before a god and to the right another standing god belonging to another part of an offering scene the completion of the scene belonging on an adjoining block.

The cornices on both sides have been attacked with a chisel the cornice on the better preserved side shows a row of frontal facing falcons, the feet of which still are present. On the more damaged side there is little sign of the cornice except that the slab in Vienna(213), dedicated to Psamtik II shows a row of erect cobras (3). The Vienna slab cornice goes around one end of the stone indicating this slab was the beginning or end of the wall with no further elements at that end.

The inscriptions of the blocks indicate the wall might have been erected at Sais in the delta, ancient Heliopolis.  The Vienna stone differs from the later Nectanebo slab in that King Psamtik is shown in a much more prostrate position with both legs showing and side view of both feet while the British Museum's slab shows Nectanebo with only one leg and more than one toe.

At least part of the monument was present at the beginning of Egypt's 26th dynasty and in good enough condition 300 years later for Nectanebo I to have his name inscribed on some of the slabs. The wall may have become badly damaged in the earthquake of 27 BC which destroyed the remains of the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III or in the 365 AD earthquake(4) which destroyed much of Alexandria after which the rough largely illegible(1b),heretic inscription on the British Museum slab may have been hacked into the top of the slab during the reuse of the block.

When the drilled holes were added to the blocks is not known but may well indicate a further reuse after the Roman period? Since the block was found at Alexandria it may indicate the stone was taken to that city after the 365 AD earthquake to be reused in the rebuilding of Alexandria and thus eventually found there?

Perhaps someday more of the stone slabs in the wall will turn up and tell us more about what happened to the wall in between Psamtik II and Nectanebo I and hopefully why and when the beautiful wall was dismantled and used as filler in a later construction?


1(a,b). Many thanks to Elizabeth R. O'Connell Assistant Keeper (curator) Roman and late Antique Egypt at the British Museum for her help in the interpretation of the text.

2. Eternal Egypt: Masterworks of Ancient Art From The British Museum, Edna R. Russmann, 2001, #134 pgs. 244-247

3. Global Egyptian Museum 

4. Timelines: Earthquakes

Photo Courtesy of Michael Harding: Westcoast Adventures

Archaeology Briefs


Experts have begun to assess the toll this summer’s Gaza-Israeli conflict took on the region’s cultural heritage. More than 40 historic sites, including a mosque, a church and an ancient bath, were damaged or destroyed in Gaza during the 51-day war this summer, reports the Middle East news organization Al-Monitor.

The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in the Gaza Strip is preparing to present a full list of destroyed antiquities and ancient sites to Unesco, the Organization of Arab Culture and international human rights organizations.

The scale of the destruction may be difficult to determine because many of Gaza’s largest antiquities collections are in private hands. One collector, Jamal Abu Alian, told Al-Monitor that 70% of his collection, stored in a small private museum in al-Zanna village in the southern Gaza Strip, was destroyed during the fighting.

Around 8,000 antiquities are housed in similar private museums across the region, according to Mohammad Khalleh, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities’ representative in Gaza. An initiative launched by the ministry in 2010 to unite the territory’s private museums within a public umbrella facility has foundered due to lack of funding.

Meanwhile, plans for a new Palestinian Museum in the West Bank continue to move ahead. The $19m building, designed by the Dublin-based architecture firm Heneghan Peng, is due to open in 2016. Although the ceasefire set in August has held, the Israeli-Gaza conflict killed more than 2,100 Palestinians and 73 Israelis, according to the BBC.

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Egypt's Heritage TaskForce on Bakarat

Egypt's Heritage TaskForce reports 'This antiquities shop called Barakat in Abu Dhabi is selling a mixture of true and fake Egyptian artefacts' well, really I expected a better class of reproduction antiquities from Fayez Bakarat than what we see in these photos.  The guy has three shops in North Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills CA, Brook Street, London W1K, and Emirates Palace Hotel, Abu Dhabi. Check it out.  

UPDATE 21.10.2014:
Mentioned in Film: "Plundered Heritage"

UNESCO chief appeals to parties in Libya to stop destruction of cultural heritage

UNESCO chief appeals to parties in Libya to stop destruction of cultural heritage  
In a press release, UNESCO reported that a group of gunmen stormed and vandalized the renowned Karamanli Mosque on 7 October, located in the capital, Tripoli, removing ceramic tiles, marble decorations and severely damaging the floor. Days later, the UN agency noted, the historic Othman Pasha Madrassa was damaged and looted while another attempt to vandalize the Darghout Mosque was thwarted by local volunteers. [...]   In recent weeks, the North African nation has been embroiled in some of the worst fighting since the 2011 uprising that ousted former leader Muammar al-Qadhafi. [...] protracted battles between opposing armed groups continue to take their toll on civilians and the country’s cultural heritage. [...]  UNESCO urged all national and international partners “to reinforce actions and vigilance in order to protect Libya’s cultural heritage in the current context of rising unrest and insecurity” and reaffirmed its engagement with Libyan authorities to reinforce emergency measures for cultural heritage protection against looting and illicit trafficking. [...] In Libya, the agency will soon implement an emergency and risk preparedness training course to enable the authorities to carry out rapid assessment, documentation and monitoring of heritage. 

Follow The ISIS Money

"those who fund terrorism
are no less terrorists than those brandishing the swords". 

Webb Hubbell (former Associate Attorney General of the United States) writes that we should 'Follow The ISIS Money', Talk Radio News Service October 16, 2014
Most articles estimate that ISIS earns $1 to $3 million a day from oil sales – oil coming from lands and refineries they have seized in Iraq and Syria, which is purchased by black market brokers primarily in Turkey. [...]  Another source of money is the sale of antiquities by ISIS after they raid and loot churches and museums in seized territories [...] with a lot of money finding its way into the hands of terrorists and a lot of art finding its way into the homes of Americans and Europeans. That’s right: art collectors and museums who buy stolen antiquities indirectly fund torture and murder. Again, let’s hope the administration is being aggressive with purchasers of stolen art for the sake of the stolen art, but also for the humans who are the ultimate victims of such an outrageous enterprise. [...]  I think it would be advisable for our leadership to acknowledge that we are waging war on ISIS economically as well as militarily, and to treat those who support ISIS by buying oil, weapons, stolen art, and women and children just as we will treat ISIS.

Archaeology Briefs


James McAndrew reporting: a former senior special agent and founder of the international art theft investigations program at the Department of Homeland Security, is a forensic specialist. I remember helping the Iraqi coalition government wrestle with archaeological site destruction and prolific looting during and after the second Gulf war. The U.S. Customs Service had special agents in Iraq while fighting was ongoing to protect and recover antiquities, as well as collect intelligence on looting and destruction.

Too much attention is given to the U.S. and Europe, countries that are not the root of the problem or fueling it. At the same time, I developed a program for the Department of Homeland Security, which sought to investigate, return and recover stolen and looted works of art and antiquity if they crossed over the U.S. border. The program was, and is, extremely successful, with more than 400 specially trained D.H.S. agents to date.

But is it enough to stop looting? I don’t think so. Our borders were never flooded with looted Iraqi antiquities during or after the war. They aren’t flooded with looted Syrian antiquities now. Sadly, many looted items remain in the Middle East or are simply destroyed. Looters do not ask for high prices for the goods they sell; they are trying to make ends meet or profit easily. Too much attention is given to what the world perceives as “market countries” (i.e. the U.S. and Europe) that are not the root of the problem, nor are they fueling it.

Other factors drive the archaeological site destruction in Syria and Iraq, like the extremist ideology against idolatry or the discourse between religions. It’s beyond comprehension to think an ISIS fighter is consumed with the thought of the potential for profit of a religious or archaeological item sold to a resident of Park Avenue. The militants have a different agenda.

The United Nations, the International Council of Museums and Interpol are more respected by foreign heads of state and cultural ministries than the U.S. and coalition forces are when it comes to this problem. The most effective way to stop looting is through international pressure led by Syria’s neighboring countries, including the use of sanctions specifically for the lack of effort in protecting the cultural infrastructure within Syria's borders. The U.S. and its allies should support any effort in an advisory role, but the crisis is on the ground, not the political sphere.

Kristina Killgrove (Powered by Osteons)

Roman Gladiators' (and a Gladiatrix's?) Diet

A press release is going around about a dietary analysis of Roman gladiator skeletons from Imperial-era Ephesos, headlined "Roman gladiators ate a mostly vegetarian diet and drank a tonic of ashes after training."

While I haven't had time to carefully and thoroughly dissect the publication, which came out last week in PLoS (Losch et al. 2014), it seems reasonably sound. The published C/N isotope ratios are totally in line with what we'd expect from the Roman diet--and also show the variation that we expect to see around the Empire.  (I have to confess I'm a bit miffed that they discuss all the C/N isotope studies from around Rome but not Killgrove & Tykot 2013 from Rome itself.)

The Sr/Ca trace element analysis is potentially more problematic.  Again, a confession: I don't fully understand the mechanics of the process of trace element analysis, nor the major issues with diagenesis (the chemical deterioration of organic skeletal components, like collagen, that can affect measurement of things like trace elements).  I do know that the ability to control for diagenesis has made great advances in recent years, meaning studies like trace Pb analysis are now possible.  But if I trust the researchers that they controlled for diagenesis to the best of their abilities, their Sr/Ca results are very interesting.

Relief of two gladiatrices from Halicarnassus
Losch and colleagues make the case that gladiators were drinking an ash-tonic based on both historical and chemical-ethnographic evidence.  Plant ash (pyxis) is mentioned in Roman texts as having medicinal properties, and as something that gladiators specifically consumed. But they cite another study (Burton & Wright 1995) that looked at a traditional Hopi food (bivilviki) that included ash. Burton & Wright similarly concluded that ash, even if infrequently consumed, could show up in the Sr/Ca of bone.  Pretty cool.  I think that Losch and colleagues may go too far in trying to figure out when the gladiators died based on the "strong gradient or high variation of Sr/Ca-ratios," and the paragraphs on feeding studies and bone turnover rates simply don't convince me that this can be accomplished, as they rely on many assumptions they can't test.

All in all, this seems to be a very well-designed study that answers interesting research questions but leaves others open for more research (from other cemeteries or with other methodologies).

My only complaint (you knew a complaint was coming, right?) is that the "only female to be found in the gladiator cemetery" seems to be treated as an anomalous burial rather than, dare I say it?, a gladiator -- or gladiatrix -- herself.  (I'm not sure what that conclusion was based on; perhaps some archaeological context?)  But, her slightly different diet (higher in millet or millet-consuming animals than the men's diets, and whatever her Sr/Ca ratio was) would be really interesting interpreted against a backdrop of gender differences in gladiatorial games.


Burton JH, & Wright LE (1995). Nonlinearity in the relationship between bone Sr/Ca and diet: paleodietary implications. American journal of physical anthropology, 96 (3), 273-82 PMID: 7785725.

Killgrove, K., & Tykot, R. (2013). Food for Rome: A stable isotope investigation of diet in the Imperial period (1st–3rd centuries AD) Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 32 (1), 28-38 DOI: 10.1016/j.jaa.2012.08.002.

Lösch S, Moghaddam N, Grossschmidt K, Risser DU, & Kanz F (2014). Stable Isotope and Trace Element Studies on Gladiators and Contemporary Romans from Ephesus (Turkey, 2nd and 3rd Ct. AD) - Implications for Differences in Diet. PloS one, 9 (10) PMID: 25333366.

Archaeological News on Tumblr

'Hobbit Humans' Actually Might Not Have Been Human

Ten years after being discovered, the “Hobbit Human” remains a controversial figure, with some...

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Fitz Gibbon Stop the War and the Looting will Stop - duh

Kate Fitz Gibbon ('Heritage Protection Depends on Stable Governments', New York Times 8th October 2014) imagines she has a solution to Syria's looted artefact problems:
art and artifacts from Iraq and Syria flow unchecked to Turkey, the Gulf States and other nearby nations. Export control should start at Syria’s borders. The U.S. should provide assistance either directly or through international organizations to bordering nations in order to stop smuggling where it starts. [...]  Heritage protection depends upon stable governments and the rule of law. [...]  The only way to halt the destruction in Syria and Iraq is to rebuild civil society in both nations and make on-the-ground protection of museums, monuments and archeological sites a priority. Feel-good actions within the U.S. only distract from taking meaningful steps in Syria itself, which is ultimately the only effective means to halt looting. 

Disneyland 'Solution' to Syria's Looting problem

James McAndrew (a former senior special agent at the Department of Homeland Security, is a forensic specialist at Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz, Silveman and Klestadt) thinks he has a solution to Syria's looting problem ('Syria’s Neighbors Must Pressure Assad on Preserving Antiquities' New York Times October 8, 2014).  
The most effective way to stop looting is through international pressure led by Syria’s neighboring countries, including the use of sanctions specifically for the lack of effort in protecting the cultural infrastructure within Syria's borders. The U.S. and its allies should support any effort in an advisory role, but the crisis is on the ground, not the political sphere.
The only problem is that much of the looting in the north and east of the country is taking place in areas where the Assad regime has lost control and under the control of a variety of shifting ephemeral militia groups. He's also in denial about smuggling (recurrent failures of the Department of Homeland Security to detect and combat antiquity smuggling into the US):
Our borders were never flooded with looted Iraqi antiquities during or after the war. They aren’t flooded with looted Syrian antiquities now.
Somehow he's asking us to believe that the artefacts being sold by certain dealers and held by certain collectors discussed in the media recently happen to be "currently in the US" because they fell out of the sky.

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Open Access Journal: Cuneiform Digital Library Notes (CDLN)

First posted in AWOL  31 August 2009.  Updated 22 October 2014]

Cuneiform Digital Library Notes (CDLN)
 ISSN 1546-6566
Cuneiform Digital Library Notes is an electronic journal constituted in conjunction with the organization and work of the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative to afford contributors to that effort the opportunity to make known to an international community the results of their research into topics related to those of the CDLI.
The CDLN is a moderated e-bulletin board for Assyriology and is conceived as a notepad publication of the Cuneiform Digital Library Journal and the Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin. The CDLJ seeks substantive contributions dealing with the major themes of the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative, that is, with text analyses of 4th and 3rd millennium documents (incorporating text, photographs, data, drawings, interpretations), early language, writing, paleography, administrative history, mathematics, metrology, and the technology of modern cuneiform editing. Articles in the CDLB are shorter contributions of two to five pages that deal with specific topics, collations, etc., and do not attempt to offer synthetic treatments of complex subjects. The CDLN assumes the role of a bulletin board for the quick publication and internet distribution of short notices of at most one page.
The CDLN is hosted by the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative, LA/Berlin, and is in the editorial care of Klaus Wagensonner (University of Oxford).

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

National Gallery of Australia Writes off 5.6 million on Shiva Return

Australia: civilized values
St Louis in the USA has not the guts to say it made a mistake and that it will rectify it. Thankfully not all museum professionals in teh English-speaking world are like that. The National Gallery of Australia has written off 5.6 million on the return of the looted Shiva bought from Kapoor.
The NGA’s annual report reveals the gallery wrote off the loss of the piece last financial year, after having accepted without challenge India’s request for its return.

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Mesopotamian Seals

Mesopotamian Seals

Online resources for the study of Mesopotamian stamp and cylinder seals, often with incised legends naming the owner, his profession or educational standing, his patronymic and, looking up in the Mesopotamian hierarchy, his administrative affiliations, are difficult to come by, even though this small administrative tool has played a very substantial role in the development of writing, and in the smooth functioning of an advanced ancient society. Mespotamian Seals is offered to bring attention to the admittedly limited text annotation files of the CDLI as one of several avenues of research available in a sub-field more often treated by archaeologists and art historians than by philologists (CDLI’s initial seals work is described here; cleansing of those file entries is being undertaken by Richard Firth). The CDLI catalogue currently contains entries documenting ca. 32,450 Mesopotamian artifacts related to seals and sealing: 31,300 represent clay tablets, tags or other sealings, most of whose seal impressions included owner legends, and currently just 1,150 are physical seals; 5,370 more CDLI entries represent composites derived from seal impressions, and therefore the negatives of original cylinder seals now lost. 

All CDLI seals

Physical seals

Composite seals

Sealings (on tags, bullae, etc.)

Best attested seals:

   Ayakalla, Umma ensi2 (Ur III, Š46/ii/29 – ŠS9/i)
   Lukalla, Umma ‘scribe’ (Ur III, Š33/i – ŠS9/iv)
   Lugal-emaḫe, Umma ‘scribe’ (Ur III, Š34/vi – ŠS5)
   Ur-mes, Drehem ‘fattener’ (Ur III, AS9/xiii – ŠS9/xii)
   Akalla, Umma ‘scribe’ (Ur III, Š33 – ŠS 3/iv)

Seals and impressed tablets by period:
      Adab      Nippur      Umma
      Girsu      Tell Brak      Ur
      Isin      Tutub      Urkesh
   Lagash II (ca. 2200-2100 BC)
   Ur III (ca. 2100-2000 BC)
      Adab      Girsu      Susa
      Drehem      Irisagrig      Umma
      Eshnunna      Nippur      Ur
   Early Old Babylonian (ca. 2000-1900 BC)
   Old Assyrian (ca. 1950-1850 BC)
   Old Babylonian (ca. 1900-1600 BC)
   Middle Babylonian (ca. 1400-1100 BC)
   Middle Assyrian (ca. 1400-1000 BC)
   Neo-Assyrian (ca. 911-612 BC)
   Neo-Babylonian (ca. 911-612 BC)
   Achaemenid (547-331 BC)
   Hellenistic (323-63 BC)

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Neanderthals and Humans First Mated 50,000 Years Ago, DNA Reveals

The DNA from the 45,000-year-old bone of a man from Siberia is helping to pinpoint when modern...

All Mesopotamia

richard-miles-archaeologist: Ancient Worlds - BBC Two Episode 1...


Ancient Worlds - BBC Two

Episode 1 “Come Together”

Lyres from the Royal Tombs of Ur: the Queen’s Lyre

The archaeologist Leonard Woolley discovered pieces of several lyres (or Harps) in the graves in the Royal Cemetery at Ur, ancient Mesopotamia. Those lyres, from about 2600-2400 BC, are considered to be the world’s oldest surviving stringed instruments.

The lyres remains were restored and distributed between the museums that took part in the digs.

Pictures n 1, 2, 3: One of two lyres found in the grave of Queen Pu-abi, the Queen’s Lyre. Along with the lyre, which stood against the pit wall, were the bodies of several women with fine jewellery, presumed to be sacrificial victims, and numerous stone and metal vessels. One woman lay right against the lyre and, according to Woolley, she was its player. The front panels of the instrument are made of lapis lazuli, shell and red limestone. The gold mask of the bull decorating the front of the sounding box had to be restored. While the horns are modern, the beard, hair and eyes are original and made of lapis lazuli. The shape of the lyre is meant to resemble a bull’s body.

Picture n 4: Woolley holding one lyre discovered in one of the tombs.

British Museum, London, UK 

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

ADCAEA Officer: "Boycott Turkish Antiquities"

An officer of the Association of Dealers and Collectors of Ancient and Ethnographic Art (ADCAEA) which aims to advance the responsible and legal trading and collecting of ancient and ethnographic art has called for a boycott of antiquities passing through Turkey to be established. This would last until such time as that country seals its borders to prevent antiquities looted in areas of Iraq and Syria held by rebel warlords and Islamist militants reaching outside markets. According to the New Yorker, such  artefacts are openly available for sale in Turkish border towns. Responsible dealers should be  pressuring the Turkish government (which ratified the 1970 UNESCO Convention April 21, 1981) to help the licit trade address the problem at the source. Since there seem to be problems with closing the borders at the moment (allowing refugees through), the only reasonable solution seems  to be for responsible dealers to boycott antiquities leaving Turkey and increased transparency to show that they are doing so. 

Allah's Greedy Culture Thieves

Berliner Zeitung

Martina Doering ('Allahs gierige Räuber', Berliner Zeitung 0.10.2014 IS) suggests that the ISIL jihadists are financed from looting and the illegal antiquities trade. Buyers are collectors in Europe, now also in China and, more recently, in the Gulf States. She discusses looting in sites like Palmyra, Ebla, Apamea, Carchemish and Rakka.
Dort sind seit Monaten Raubgräber am Werk, die den Boden nach antiken Objekten durchwühlen, zum Teil mit hochmodernem Gerät. In den Tempelanlagen und Resten assyrischer, babylonischer und byzantinischer Herrscher werden Stücke aus Wandfriesen herausgebrochen, Statuen die Köpfe abgeschlagen, Mosaiken großflächig aus dem Boden geschnitten.[...] Es gibt also reichlich Material zum Plündern, was denn auch in großem Maßstab und mit System stattfindet: In den Gebieten, die die Terrormiliz Islamischer Staat in Syrien und im Irak kontrolliert, wird das Kulturerbe systematisch geplündert.[...] Daraus ging hervor, dass der IS (noch unter anderem Namen und eine von vielen Rebellengruppen) seit Ausbruch des syrischen Bürgerkrieges im März 2011 im Antikenschmuggel tätig ist.
Most objects are smuggled across the Turkish or Lebanese borders. From there, they go further by boat, on a plane by diplomatic bag or across the country. Many of these objects are probably in Europe, perhaps stockpiled in warehouses. Some appear in auction houses with a vague or false statement of origin as "privately owned" or "Mesopotamia" or "Middle East". At the end of the piece the archaeologist and art theft expert, Michael Müller-Karpe is quoted as saying that we should not try to regulate trade by law. He says "the trade must be banned altogether. Only if there are buyers, there is the incentive to dig for objects".

Peter Konieczny and Sandra Sadowski (History of the Ancient World)

What the Gladiators ate

Roman gladiators ate a mostly vegetarian diet and drank ashes after training as a tonic. These are the findings of anthropological investigations carried out on bones of warriors found during excavations in the ancient city of Ephesos.

(OEAI, Pietsch) Anthropology unlocks clues about Roman gladiators' eating habits

Historic sources report that gladiators had their own diet. This comprised beans and grains. Contemporary reports referred to them as “hordearii” (“barley eaters”).

In a study by researchers from MedUni Vienna and the University of Bern, bones were examined from a gladiator cemetery uncovered in 1993 which dates back to the 2nd or 3rd century BC in the then Roman city of Ephesos (now in modern-day Turkey). At the time, Ephesos was the capital of the Roman province of Asia and had over 200,000 inhabitants.

Using spectroscopy, stable isotope ratios (carbon, nitrogen and sulphur) were investigated in the collagen of the bones, along with the ratio of strontium to calcium in the bone mineral.

The result shows that gladiators mostly ate a vegetarian diet. There is virtually no difference in terms of nutrition from the local “normal population”. Meals consisted primarily of grain and meat-free meals. The word “barley eater” relates in this case to the fact that gladiators were probably given grain of an inferior quality.

Build-up drink following physical exertion

The difference between gladiators and the normal population is highly significant in terms of the amount of strontium measured in their bones. This leads to the conclusion that the gladiators had a higher intake of minerals from a strontium-rich source of calcium. The ash drink quoted in literature probably really did exist. “Plant ashes were evidently consumed to fortify the body after physical exertion and to promote better bone healing,” explains study leader Fabian Kanz from the Department of Forensic Medicine at the MedUni Vienna. “Things were similar then to what we do today – we take magnesium and calcium (in the form of effervescent tablets, for example) following physical exertion.” Calcium is essential for bone building and usually occurs primarily in milk products.

A further research project is looking at the migration of gladiators, who often came from different parts of the Roman Empire to Ephesos. The researchers are hoping that comparison of the bone data from gladiators with that of the local fauna will yield a number of differences.

Click here to read the article Stable Isotope and Trace Element Studies on Gladiators and Contemporary Romans from Ephesus (Turkey, 2nd and 3rd Ct. AD) – Implications for Differences in Diet from PlosOne

Peter Tompa (Cultural Property Observer)

Cuno's Case Against Repatriation

James Cuno has made a well-reasoned case against repatriation.  What a welcome contrast to the blatant propaganda that has become associated with the archaeological lobby.

If Cuno fails at all, it's in his ignoring the interests of collectors, who have traditionally supported healthy museums.

And then there is his failure to reach as a conclusion the all too obvious end result of the cultural nationalism he decries:  if anything, the reality on the ground in Egypt, Syria and Iraq proves that sites are looted and museums are destroyed precisely because angry, disenfranchised locals associate state owned antiquities with hated dictatorial regimes who have appropriated the past to serve their own purposes.

Ancient Peoples

Shabti Box of Paramnekhu 19th Dynasty, New Kingdom  The wooden...

Shabti Box of Paramnekhu

19th Dynasty, New Kingdom 

The wooden shabti box is inscribed for Paramnekhu, a servant in the Place of Truth who was a son or grandson of Sennedjem in whose tomb the box was found.

(Source: The Metropolitan Museum)

Archaeological Institute of America blogs

Society Spotlight: AIA Lincoln/Omaha Society

The AIA Lincoln/Omaha Society splits its robust lecture program between two cities, and its events draw up to 200 people. Learn more about one of the AIA's younger societies, supporting archaeological interest in Nebraska.

The AIA Lincoln/Omaha Society was started in 1994 and was chartered in 1995, through the efforts of AIA Society Trustee and University of Nebraska–Lincoln Professor Michael Hoff, along with his colleague Prof. Effie Athanassopoulos and the late Prof. Kathryn Thomas. A relatively young society, Lincoln/Omaha often sees crowds of up to 200 people at lectures. Covering two cities, the society draws members from three local universities, the University of Nebraska Omaha, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, and Creighton University. Read more »

ArcheoNet BE

Stad Antwerpen zoekt archeoloog

Antwerpenaars zijn trots op de geschiedenis en de vernieuwing van de stad. Daarom zoeken ze een archeoloog (m/v) voor vooronderzoek bij bouwprojecten zoals de Scheldekaaien. Een pragmatische onderzoeker die de werken en opgravingen begeleidt en de gegevens verwerkt. Een archeoloog die sterk is in organisatie en die goed op de hoogte is van evoluties in het vakgebied. De consulent archeologie wordt in dienst genomen met een contract van onbepaalde duur. Solliciteren voor deze functie is mogelijk tot en met 7 november. Je vindt de volledige vacture op

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Open Access Journal: Lettre d’information de l’IFAO

Lettre d’information de l’IFAO
Pour vous abonner à notre lettre d’information, envoyez un email vide à …
Subscribe to our newsletter: send an empty email to …
Vous receverez alors un email pour reconfirmer votre demande.
You will then receive a email to confirm of your demand.

Andie Byrnes (Egyptology News)

Autumn 2014 update from Amarna (received by email)

The latest from Barry Kemp and Anna Stevens:

Amarna, Autumn 2014

We are happy to report that the expedition has resumed its work at Amarna, at the start of what is planned to be a particularly busy and varied schedule which we hope will run almost continuously into June of next year.

Last week, an excavating team (independently funded) led by Dr Anna Hodgkinson arrived to open the expedition house and magazines and to begin a month-long investigation of a particular location within the housing area, not far to the south of the house of Ranefer and the area of small houses which were excavated in 2004 and 2005. The location lies within ground excavated in 1922 by the Egypt Exploration Fund (as it was then named), specifically part of a series of workrooms numbered M50.14. They reported finding a 'glaze kiln' but gave very few details. Dr Hodgkinson, who has a particular interest in the glass and glazing industry of the New Kingdom, has located the site again and is opening it for a close investigation.

At the same time, and based in the Cairo office, two projects are under way. One is the continued scanning of the expedition archive so that multiple copies can be kept of almost all of its records. The other is the composing of a major report on the South Tombs Cemetery excavations, which ran between 2006 and 2013. In mid-November, the group undertaking this will move to Amarna and so be able to access the material from the cemetery in store at the site magazines. This includes the human remains themselves, together with small finds, pottery, textile and other kinds of wrapping material.

At the end of December, a group of conservators, led by Julie Dawson and Lucy Skinner, will run a workshop which will concentrate on the remaining decorated coffin pieces from the cemetery. Several of the pieces were, at the time of excavation, packaged in conservation materials which left the surfaces invisible. The slow work of exposing and consolidating the surfaces should eventually reveal the details of decoration. The coffin group as a whole makes a most important contribution to understanding how the people of Amarna reacted to the changed ideas of the times when faced with the need to bury their dead.

Towards the end of the coffins workshop, a further team will assemble to resume cleaning and repairs at the Great Aten Temple, following which the plan is to start an investigation of the cemeteries of the Amarna period which we know lie in the northern part of Amarna. The investigation will be carried out in conjunction with the University of Southern Illinois (of which Dr Gretchen Dabbs will be the principal representative, working alongside Dr Anna Stevens).

In this connection it is good to be able to report that the work will be supported by a major grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities of the USA.

During September of this year, the work of hair experts Jolanda Bos and Lonneke Beukenholdt on the hairstyles of the people buried in the South Tombs Cemetery attracted media attention, see, for example:

Their report, in Dutch, is published in the Archeologie Magazin (, 25 April-26 October 2014, pp. 12-15.

The preparation of the next issue of Horizon is well advanced, and will include detail on the Great Aten Temple work of the spring season.

As always, we owe a great debt of gratitude to our supporters. Our channels of giving remain open through the year: OR

OR by cheque made out to the Amarna Trust and sent to Dr Kate Spence, Division of Archaeology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3DZ

Barry Kemp/Anna Stevens 22 October 2014

American Philological Association

Travel Information for New Orleans Annual Meeting

Click here to read about air and train travel to New Orleans as well as transportation between the meeting hotels and Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

Doctor Who and Religion Lecture

Click here to view the embedded video.

The folks at Ole Miss recorded the lecture I gave on Religion and Doctor Who, and have kindly shared it on their YouTube channel. The audio isn’t great, and the very beginning is missing, but for those interested in the topic, it will hopefully still be interesting and enjoyable!


David Gill (Looting Matters)

Ka-Nefer-Nefer Mummy Mask: the unanswered questions

Paul Barford has drawn attention to the response by SLAM's legal team to the conclusion of the two parallel legal cases.

Patrick McInerney will need to explain when his client was first informed that the Ka-Nefer-Nefer mask was derived from Saqqara. How did curators at SLAM respond? Then there is the issue of when (or if) SLAM contacted the Egyptian SCA about the mask. And was the Director of SLAM ever advised to contact Zahi Hawass about the acquisition and the Saqqara link? Did the curator responsible for the acquisition provide misleading or inaccurate information to the Cairo Museum? How was the collecting history authenticated?

The discussion about the mask is far from over.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

BiblePlaces Blog

Life of Jesus Tour with Wayne Stiles

Wayne Stiles is leading an extraordinary tour of Israel that you should consider joining. Three features immediately mark this as a unique opportunity.

1. This tour has an exclusive focus on the life of Jesus. One of the struggles many have on their first tour is the lack of focus, as you jump from one period to another and back again all day, every day. When you’re zeroed in on the four Gospels, you’ll be making all kinds of connections as you see, listen, and read about the life of the Messiah.

2. The particular itinerary of this trip is outstanding. Not only is it focused on the life of Jesus, you will see all kinds of places you won’t see on any other trip. Wayne gave me a chance to review the itinerary earlier this year and I was highly impressed. After some suggested tweaks, I don’t think you’ll find a better tour schedule.

3. Wayne Stiles has a unique gift for bringing the biblical world into our own. Some teachers are history gurus, but they can’t translate their research into how it affects us today. Wayne is superb at doing this in his books, on his blog, and at the sites. He is passionate, accurate, and faithful.

So that’s my three cents. I am often asked about a trip to Israel that I would recommend. Unless you’re an enrolled college student, I don’t have too many good suggestions. Today I do. I’d encourage you to take the opportunity while you can.

Cove of the Sower from top, tbs76029303

Try out the acoustics at the amazing Cove of the Sower!

Bill Caraher (The New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World)

Ethnicity and Archaeology in Modern Methana

Hamish Forbes has had a productive retirement. It seems like hardly a month goes by without some significant article from the tip of his pen. I finally got around to reading his article, “Archaeology and the Making of Improper Citizens in Modern Greece,” in the Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 27.1 (2014).

Forbes argues that many Methanites, who are Arvanitika speakers, do not relate to the national archaeological narrative constructed by the Greek state which have tended to celebrate the ties between modern Greece and Classical Antiquity and the monuments of Athens. Arvanitika speakers who settled in Greece at some point between the late Medieval period (say 13th century?) and the Ottoman period have stood outside of the national narrative in Greece that has been slow to recognize the existence of “ethnic minorities” typically defined by language. In fact, Forbes makes the point that there is no official capacity to recognize ethnic minorities in Greece, and this might be partially the result of conflating issues of ethnicity with desires for alternate national identities (ethnoi), partially the result of periods of hyper-nationalist political rhetoric, and partially the desire of the Greek state to distinguish itself in the European Union.

Forbes notes that Arvanitika speaking communities are common in Boeotia, Attica, and across the Northeastern Peloponnesus, but have generally found ways to hide their identities from outsiders and the unsympathetic gaze of the state. On the Methana peninsula, this has manifest itself in the community’s lack of interest in the ancient ruins on the peninsula, and attention to a fort dated to the Greek War of Independence. The fort was apparently constructed by the French philhellene Charles Fabvier to train Greek troops. Today, the fortification, visible on the narrow isthmus that separates Methana from the northern coast of Troezene, bears a large Greek flag painted on its flanks and this explicitly connects the site to a national identity. At the same time, the national identity manifest in this 19th century ruin, however, is nevertheless outside the main archaeological narrative promoted by the Greek state. In other words, the 19th century ruin provides an opportunity to locate the Arvanitika-speaking community within a positive narrative of the Greek state.

Forbes discusses the way in which local communities articulate their archaeological landscape and how it often differs from the interest of national or foreign archaeologists. He cites Susan Sutton’s description of the communities around the archaeological site of Nemea who associated more closely with a cave in a nearby hill that they relate to the den of the Nemean lion. Methanites likewise recognize the antiquity of a cave set high on the slopes of the volcanic peninsula, and Forbes notes that these natural features often provide points of reference in the landscape that allow local communities to establish regionally meaningful archaeological identities.

This article caught my attention for two reasons. First, on the Western Argolid Regional Project this summer we documented a fortification associated with the Greek War of Independence. Without getting into too much detail, graffiti festooned a number of parts of this rather visible fortification allowing individuals to locate their names within the archaeological landscape. This linked the nearby community of Lyrkeia very closely to a historical place. It is interesting to note that the nearby ancient ruins did not attract similar attention. The fort on Methana will also be a useful point of architectural comparison for our fortification in the Argolid although our fortress has far less august a historical pedigree. 

I was also interested in reading that Forbes did not mention the inventio story associated with the church of St. Barbara. According to Forbes’ monograph on Methana, a local resident had a dream which led the villagers to excavate and discover the bones of St. Barbara and St. Juliana who helped protect the island from the influenza epidemic in the early 20th century. I’ve blogged about it here. What’s interesting about this story is that it presents indigenous archaeology as more than simply the recognition of ruins or sites by a community, but the actual excavation of sites of particular significance. As Arvanitika speakers and Greek speakers in Greece share the Orthodox faith, it is significant that both communities have used these same methods to create locally meaningful archaeological landscapes (if not in the strictly scientific sense) that resonate with national narratives emphasizing the Orthodox (and Byzantine) roots of the Greek nation. This narrative is distinct from the national narrative that privileges Classical antiquity, and perhaps provides another alternate space for the forging of historically significant national identities.   

Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

Il progetto ARCHEOMEDSITES a Ravello LAB


Archeomedsites, progetto di cooperazione transfrontaliera tra Italia, Tunisia e Libano, finanziato nell’ambito del Programma ENPI CBC Med 2007-2013, sarà presente alla nona edizione di Ravello Lab – Colloqui internazionali, all’interno del panel 1 dal titolo “ Cooperazione culturale e progettazione territoriale euro mediterranea”.

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

A Test it is Better to Fail

Rachel Held Evans blogged about the story of Abraham trying to sacrifice Isaac, on the same day that I was scheduled to speak to a group of local artists about the story. She said what I personally consider the most appropriate response:

I’d like to think that even if those demands thundered from the heavens in a voice that sounded like God’s, I’d have sooner been struck dead than obeyed them. 

Neil Carter commented on the post, and reflected on the implications of religious attempts to defend Abraham, and along with him the stories about Canaanite genocide and other such details. He writes:

Moser AkedahWhen I tell people I’m an atheist, the most common (and most exasperating) response I get is: “Well, without God, where do you get your morals from?”  Inevitably they will tell me that I cannot have an objective framework for morality if I don’t believe in spirits and afterlives (which is rubbish), but the irony is that between the two of us, my challenger is actually the one who cannot categorically condemn any moral choice we could make. John Piper will tell you in a heartbeat that killing your child is totally legit if God tells you to do it, because the Bible tells him so.

In the end, if whatever God tells you to do is right, then morality is fundamentally relative.  Once you’ve decided on that way of thinking, it inevitably devolves into a theological debate about God’s feelings.  This is a highly subjective discussion, of course, since one of the key tenets of monotheism is that if there is a God, you’re probably not him.  So how is it that you feel qualified to determine what he wants and what he doesn’t (and for that matter, why it has to be a “he”)?  It’s your word against another man’s word, not God’s word against everyone else’s.  You can try saying “but the Bible says,” except that’s really the word of more people just like you.  Any attempt to deny this leads to untenable absurdity because the Bible isn’t even consistent with itself.  Biblical writers didn’t all see everything the same way.

Libby Anne also mentioned the post, indicating that “talking back to God” is not only Biblical, but it is something highlighted in the Jewish tradition. It isn’t a rejection of God (despite what some of Rachel Held Evans’ critics have said). Indeed, the Jewish tradition has a long history of being puzzled about why Abraham didn’t discuss this with God in the way he discussed and debated and bargained when God told him about Sodom and Gomorrah.

Of related interest, Martin LaBar blogged about Isaac and Jesus, while Jeremy Smith blogged about looking for the minority report in the Bible.

At the workshop I mentioned at the start of this post, another presenter surveyed a wide range of art related to the story of the binding of Isaac, including the depiction in the recent Bible miniseries. Can you honestly watch this without flinching or being disturbed?

Click here to view the embedded video.

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Myth Busted: Ancient Humans May Not Have Been Redheads

Ancient humans found with red hair weren’t necessarily redheads in life, but may have...

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

IMAGES & DÉCORS DE L’ÂGE DU BRONZE ET DE L’ÂGE DU FER – Toulouse, 12 novembre 2014


Capture d’écran 2014-10-22 à 14.48.51IMAGES & DÉCORS DE L’ÂGE DU BRONZE ET DE L’ÂGE DU FER

Journée d’étude organisée par l’équipe CAHPA (UMR TRACES) et le Master Arts et cultures de la Préhistoire et de la Protohistoire, en partenariat avec l’Université de Bordeaux – Michel de Montaigne

Mercredi 12 novembre 2014 

Maison de la Recherche de l’Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès, salle D155 

Coordinateur : Pierre-Yves MILCENT

Les recherches sur l’iconographe des sociétés protohistoriques sont en plein essor, en raison notamment de la multiplication des découvertes et de la diversification des approches analytiques. Le but de cette journée est de faire le point sur les travaux en cours et de présenter des découvertes récentes significatives.

Images et décors_programme JE_CAHPA_12_11_14


8h 30 – Pierre-Yves MILCENT - accueil des participants et introduction

8h 45 – Eléonore DE CASTRO ” Oiseaux en tous genres : Corent (Auvergne) ”

9h – Pierre-Yves MILCENT “Vers l’apothéose ? Les charriots à iconographie solaire de la fin de l’âge du Bronze et du 1er âge du Fer en Europe”

9h 30 – Barbara ARMBRUSTER & Emilie DUBREUCQ “Symboles et images sur l’or au temps de la dame de Vix”

10h – Sandra PÉRÉ-NOGUÈS “Un mariage et un suicide : histoires d’une “coupe” chez les Celtes entre images et littérature”

10h 30 – pause

10h 50 – Laurent GRIMBERT & Catherine VIERS “Les éléments sculptés du second âge du Fer découverts sur le site de la ZAC-Andromède à Blagnac (Haute Garonne)”

11h 20 – Philippe GRUAT “L’apport iconographique des stèles et des statues du complexe héroïque des Touriès à Saint-Jean et Saint-Paul (Aveyron)”

Pause de midi 

14h – Clémence BREUIL “En chemin vers l’au-delà ! L’iconographie des Pierres à cerfs de Tsatsiin Ereg, Mongolie (1200-700 ans av. J.-C.)”

14h 30 – Pierre MORET “Sens dessus-dessous : interprétation renversante d’un décor ibérique (Aragon, IIe s. av. J.-C.)”

15h – Alexis GORGUES “Iconographie et valeurs des élites dans le nord du domaine ibérique (IIIe-Ier s. av. J.-C.)”

15h 30 – Pause

15h 50 – Guillaume VERRIER “À propos d’un graffiti de fibule gauloise à Toulouse”

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Ancient textile and dyeing workshops excavated in Erimi

Archaeologists excavating at Erimi-Laonin tou Porakou in the Limassol district have uncovered a...

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

New "Nazi War Diggers" Allegations

ThePipeLine suggests that the amateur metal detectorists involved in the controversial TV series “Nazi War Diggers” were involved in the handling of potentially lethal unexploded munitions ('New "Nazi War Diggers" Allegations', October 1 2014). The evidence they adduce is not exactly convincing and I'm not really sure what point they are making. I guess the word "battlefield" is a new term for them...

The "Loot to Save" Argument Again

"The interests of preserving these monuments
to human genius and scholarly study are served otherwise
Bruce Leimsidor 

In the context of the discussion in the New York Times of Zainab Bahrani's brief text about looting and its possible connections with armed conflict, Professor Bruce Leimsidor Università Ca' Foscari Venezia, Dipartimento di Filosofia e Beni Culturali, in Venice, Italy considers that the way to "save antiquities" (objects) is to "allow their sale, and convincing the warring parties that they are valuable". Archaeological artefacts ("great works of art" - sic) "belong to humanity, not just to a country or an ethnic group".
Sure, it's preferable that they can be seen and enjoyed where they were originally made, but that advantage is not worth putting them in grave danger. Especially given the role of Islamic extremists in Syria, who may very well consider many of Syria's treasures as idolatrous, better that they be sold on the international art market, where some may wind up in museums, than meet the fate of the Buddhas of Bamiyan.
First of all, most of the things dug up by looters on archaeological sites are utilitarian items such as pots, vessels, clay tablets, metal ornaments to something else, coins and other such everyday minutiae, not "great works of art". Secondly I am not at all clear how the "saving them from being smashed by the ignorant brown-skinned guys" applies to looting. This does not apply to archaeological objects which are buried and so therefore invisible to iconoclasts and anyone else until they are dug up and hoiked out of the archaeological sites which they are an integral part of. They are dug up because somebody will buy some of them, not in order to smash them all.

The writer (much admired by collector and coiney John Hooker - "softcore terrorists and other bottom-feeders") apparently dismisses the idea that preserving the integrity of archaeological sites as a source of knowledge has any merit:
this is nonsense. The Greek, Roman, and Egyptian antiquities in the museums of Paris, London, Berlin, and New York are hardly without historical interest. [...] Art historians understand enough about style and techniques of production to be able to date and place an object pretty exactly. Moreover, archival photos and drawings exist showing many later looted objects in their original place.
The latter is an utter fallacy in the case of those buried deep in sites like Archar (Ratiaria), Bulgaria, Wanborough, Surrey, Icklingham, Suffolk, Apamea, Syria and Dura Europos until dug out by artefact hunters. Prof. Leimsidor  suggests that by hoiking out artefacts buried in sites like this:
these monuments (sic), which belong to all of humanity, would have been lost if left in place because of war, or even more frequently, simply gross neglect or religious fanaticism. Even if monuments (sic) are sold to private collectors, there is still a better chance that they will be preserved, and even, in time, appear for all of us to see in museums. [...] They are not only better preserved, but also more easily studied when removed from the Syrian desert, the jungles of Cambodia, or the mountains of Tibet
Studied by whom? Syrian, Cambodian and Chinese archaeologists and cultural heritage professionals? What about the Italian archaeological heritage, objects looted from Etruscan cemeteries hoiked out and smuggled to US museums where they can be "more easily studied and better preserved' than the Italians can mange if they are left in the ground?  I think Prof. Leimsidor really has not understood the essence of the discussion over looting when he writes that the real reason for "bemoaning the removal of art objects from their original location" is that leaving them buried deep below the ground in their archaeological context in some way "serves the interests of the tourism industry and nationalism, which has been a major cause of war in the first place". So Prof. Leimsidor would have us believe that digging artefacts up and allowing their sale, "convincing the warring parties that they are valuable" and can be sold to raise funds for their activities, is a way to prevent military conflict? I really do not follow the logic of this argument in the context of the current discussion.

"Detectorists" Viewing Figures

Accounts of viewing figures for the first episode of the true-to-life sitcom "Detectorists", vary, one source suggests it was  650,000 viewers (which would be a viewing percentage of 4%) while other sources suggest slightly more (783 000). This is interesting compared with estimates for 10-16 thousand active artefact hunters in the UK. I suppose the key issue is whether the depiction of the heroes as social inadequate nerds is doing artefact hunting many favours or not.

Art sellers benefiting from war looting, experts say

"One needs to be very clear, this market is soaked in blood"
Michael Muller-Karpe

DW: Art sellers benefiting from war looting, experts say There are fears that global art sellers may be profiting from the looting of archaeological sites in war zones.

DW video here
This is a summary of the Film: "Plundered Heritage" which I discussed yesterday. It features an auction house in Munich which refused to comment ("many pieces are said to come from private collections, all the catalogue says about this five thousand year old miniature chariot is it comes from the near east"). No doubt the antiquities traders associations will be issuing their answer to this, maybe a behind-the-scenes video showing where the antiquities they sell in Munich and elsewhere really come from, and why they cannot be more transparent than "somewhere in the Near East at some time - don't ask". 

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Plymouth man finds 5,000-year-old settlement on Google Earth

A Plymouth treasure hunter has stunned archaeologists by locating an historic Bronze Age settlement...

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Römische Inschriften Datenbank 24

Römische Inschriften Datenbank 24
Die Idee, die hinter rid24 steht, ist die Darstellung und Präsentation von Alter Geschichte und Archäologie des Rheinlandes mit den Möglichkeiten des Mediums Internet. Grundlage  von rid24 sind die von Brigitte und Hartmut Galsterer 1975 publizierten Römischen Steininschriften aus Köln. Die technischen Entwicklungen in den letzten Jahren bergen heute fast unbegrenzte Möglichkeiten der Darstellung. Neben der Datenbank-gestützten Inschriftensuche versucht rid24 darüber hinaus, dem Besucher weitere Hintergrundinformationen und Daten zur Verf�gung zu stellen. rid24 richtet sich nicht nur an Althistoriker und Epigraphiker, sondern auch an private Sammler und überhaupt an alle an der römischen Geschichte des Landes Interessierten. rid24 steht für einen jederzeit verfügbaren (eben 24 Stunden täglich) und barrierefreien Zugang f�r den Besucher, ohne zeitliche und informative Beschr�nkungen. rid24 bietet mit dieser Art der Darstellung dem Besucher M�glichkeiten und Informationen, wie es in einem gedruckten Buch kaum darstellbar w�re. Das Portal versteht sich nicht als Alternative, sondern als Erg�nzung der Museen mit ihren naturgem�� beschr�nkten Pr�sentations- und Verkn�pfungsm�glichkeiten, und hofft, den Museen nicht nur mehr, sondern auch mit mehr Hintergrundwissen ausgestattete Besucher zu verschaffen. 

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

LOST Rewatch: Whatever the Case May Be

This episode begins with Sawyer and Kate going for a swim, and finding two corpses still in their seats from the plane, at the bottom of a lake, and with a case (hence the title) under the seat that Kate says is hers, but then admits is not. In Kate’s flashbacks, we see her involvement in a bank robbery, trying to get into safety deposit box 815. On the island, Kate recovers “personal effects” from the case, including a tiny toy plane, which Kate admits to Jack belonged to the man she killed.

At the beach, the tide comes in unnaturally, washing things out to sea, forcing people to move inland.

The previous episode ended with the discovery of the hatch. In this episode we get only hints of the efforts of Locke and Boone to get into it.

Rose tells Charlie, “It’s a fine line between denial and faith. It’s much better on my side.” Charlie breaks down and cries and says “Help me.” Rose says, “I’m not the one who can help you,” and proceeds to pray. It isn’t a set prayer, but the kind of impromptu prayer that is typical of Protestant Evangelicalism, although by no means exclusive to that tradition. Rose begins by addressing God as Heavenly Father, followed by thanksgiving, as the camera pans out and the prayer slowly becomes inaudible.

By the end of the episode, we discover that what people mistake for fate, destiny, and God may in fact be people like themselves, who have found a source of great power, and are using it either for their own benefit or in ways that they think will benefit others. And so a question worth asking is whether, in addition to all that intrigue and manipulation, there is room for prayers answered by a monotheistic God in what unfolds as well, or whether such matters are only present in some sort of obscure afterlife. How, if at all, does an afterlife change the things that Charlie and Claire and Rose and Bernard and all the others and Others went through in their lives on Earth?


David Meadows (rogueclassicism)

Sphinx Head from Amphipolis? Maybe … Maybe Not

The twittersphere was all agog yesterday as the Ministry of Culture released photos of a head found by the archaeologists which is being touted as the heads of one of the headless sphinges guarding the entrance to the tomb at Amphipolis. Here’s the offical photos released by the Ministry

Ministry of Culture Photo

Ministry of Culture Photo


Ministry of Culture Photo


Ministry of Culture Photo


Ministry of Culture Photo

Kathimerini’s coverage provides the relevant info that the ministry released

Archaeologists digging at a tomb dating to the era of Alexander the Great in ancient Amphipolis in northern Greece have found the missing head of one of the two sphinxes guarding the entrance of the grave.

According to a statement yesterday by the Culture Ministry, the head, which was found inside the tomb’s third chamber, belongs to the statue on the eastern side of the entrance.

Barring some slight damage to the nose, the head is largely intact. The head measures 60 centimeters from top to bottom. Archaeologists also found fragments of that sphinx’s wings at the same chamber.

I genuinely want this to be as described, but I see a problem. When you put this head on the sphinx at the gate, it doesn’t quite work (I know others have done this as well, but this  is my own photoshopping). If one tries to fit the head according to the ‘break’, one gets this:


… which, as can be seen, won’t fit into the niche. If one sizes the head to fit.

rehead2… the head seems disproportionately small. Here are a couple of ‘closer’ views:

rehead3 rehead4 copy


What also doesn’t quite gibe with me is that this head was apparently found inside the tomb and again the tomb robbers suggestion is coming up. The thing is, even if a tomb robber did do this, I doubt they’d carry the head some 14 metres into the tomb … they’d get it on the way out.

I think we have a head from another statue happening here … given the polos, possibly another Persephone.




Archaeological News on Tumblr

UConn Archaeologist Discovers 17th-century Shipwreck

The Dutch ship Huis de Kreuningen went to her watery grave on March 3, 1677. But until a team led...

Thaw reveals photographer’s notebook from Captain Scott’s Antarctic hut

Notebook belonging to George Murray Levick remarkably legible after conservation work A...

Jim Davila (

Hey, another copper scroll!

ARASH ZEINI: A note on the Schøyen copper scroll. This is a bibliographic note that leads to an article by Étienne de la Vaissière. The scroll itself is a Buddhist donation inscription written in Sanskrit and "Brahmī."

For the Qumran Copper Scroll (and facsimiles of it), see here and links. Inscriptions on metal are rare, but not unknown in the ancient world. Other examples are the gold cuneiform tablet and the gold tablets in Phoenician and Etruscan. A legendary example is mentioned in the Treatise of the Vessels. And the fake metal codices are an infamous and now thoroughly debunked fake example, but some genuine ancient lead inscriptions are noted here, here, and links.

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

In war against ISIL, a fine line between facts and artifacts

Jessica Holland, 'In war against ISIL, a fine line between facts and artifacts' Al Jazeera America October 22, 2014
On Sept. 22, a few hours before U.S. airstrikes began against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) targets in Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry gave a speech at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. It was the opening of an exhibition of Middle Eastern treasures dating back to the early Iron Age [...] Against this backdrop, Kerry voiced a lament that quickly became a battle cry. “We gather in the midst of one of the most tragic and most outrageous assaults on our shared heritage that perhaps any of us have seen in a lifetime,” he said to the assembled crowd. “Ancient treasures in Iraq and in Syria have now become the casualties of continuing warfare and looting. And no one group has done more to put our shared cultural heritage in the gun sights than ISIL.”[....]  He then argued that this destruction demanded action, repeating the same basic idea over and over: “How shocking and historically shameful it would be if we did nothing”; “the civilized world must take a stand”; “if you don’t stand up, we are all complicit”; “those who deny the evidence or choose excuses over action are playing with fire”; “we believe it is imperative that we act now.” Later that night, the military campaign that has now been dubbed Operation Inherent Resolve expanded into Syria with the help of with Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar but without formal congressional approval. 
Holland puts the speech into the context of other US initiatives attempting to use culture as a political tool (US collectors and lobbyists, are ya'll taking note?). She notes that Kerry's pep-talk falls into the same model as the "same foreign policy narrative that President Barack Obama has been telling, in which ISIL’s atrocities are stripped of context".
Kerry referred to these crimes as “ugly, savage, inexplicable, valueless barbarism” and not the most virulent symptom thus far of two countries that have fallen apart in a mess of poverty, infrastructure failure, corruption and opportunistic power grabs.[...] The most glaring omission of all was the looting and destruction of Iraqi cultural and archaeological sites that has been persistent and devastating ever since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
What I do not find mentioned here is any discussion of the glib claims that it is ISIL responsible for the bulk of the looted and smuggled artefacts reaching the market, while that patently is not the case, other militias and militants have been doing it too and being financed by the greed of dealers and collectors.

Antiquity Now

Bon Appetit Wednesday! An Ancient Roman Salad

This week we’re bringing you a recipe straight out of ancient Rome. The Columella Salad, named for its author, Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella, is the perfect side dish and would fit easily on any modern menu. Yet it was created … Continue reading

Dorothy King (PhDiva)

Carphone Warehouse ... Fraud

Like most people I've had so many issues with Carphone Warehouse and their debt collection agencies making threats in the past.

There was the time they switched my broadband from BT to TalkTalk without my permission.

There was the contract I ended, but they insisted they had sent me a new phone which never arrived, and which they claimed meant I had agreed to a new 18 month contract. I filed the court papers after month of harassment, and not only did I win - although I'm still waiting for the refund ... - but they admitted that they didn't check the PO box to which letters ending contracts were sent.

We're currently in another one of their harassment cases, because I returned a phone that didn't work the same day I had been pushed into buying it, and they claim that the cooling off period allowed under UK law and various other laws do not apply to them. Again, I'm pretty sure if it comes to court I'll win that one too.

But ... this is where it gets interesting.

At 9.01 am today I received a phone call from the MacKenzie Hall Group of telephone number 01563503797 from a man who would not identify himself, and insisted on speaking to Mr xxx xxx.

The interesting detail is that they were calling a spare cell phone I keep for either visitors from abroad or when a second phone is useful.

When I bought the pay as you go phone at the Carphone Warehouse concession in Selfridge's, I told the saleswoman I didn't really want to give my details because they spammed, so she told me to make up a name and I did. So the Mr xxx xxx that they asked for does not exist.

So the MacKenzie Hall Group is a debt collection agency trying to harass a completely fictional person about an equally fictional debt.

Only the Carphone Warehouse could have sold them that name and number.


Oh, and I probably should have mentioned that Mr xxx xxx was my cat. And he's been dead a while.

Jim Davila (

Mind-boggling family law in the Talmud

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: The Talmud’s Difficulty Is What Makes the Talmud ‘Talmudic’—And Unlike the Law. Daf Yomi: In rabbinic Judaism, study is not merely a pragmatic enterprise, but a religious act in itself
Complex as this situation might appear, it is child’s play compared to some of the truly mind-bending hypotheticals that the rabbis raised in this week’s reading. We have often seen in the Talmud that the rabbis devote just as much attention to extremely unlikely possibilities as to real-world scenarios. This is, indeed, one of the things that make the Talmud “Talmudic” in the pejorative sense. Why, the impatient reader might wonder, spend so much time analyzing situations that surely would never arise in real life? Yet it is crucial to remember that, in rabbinic Judaism, the study of the law is not merely a pragmatic enterprise, like going to law school today. The study of Torah is a religious act in itself. The law forms a complete and perfect logical system, and all of its ramifications are equally valuable parts of that system. In American law, one sometimes hears the maxim “hard cases make bad law”: The more unusual and complex the case, the less suitable it is to serve as a precedent. The rabbis believe just the opposite: The law is never more fascinating to them than when it is difficult.
Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

Very small very old coins

INCLUDING THE "WIDOW'S MITE": Small Change: The Tiniest Ancient Coins (Mike Markowitz, CoinWeek).
In the local coinage of first century Judea, the smallest denomination was a bronze coin called a lepton in Greek and a half prutah in Hebrew.

Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

Al Festival della Scienza una mostra sulla conservazione del patrimonio artistico



Dal 24 ottobre al 2 novembre a Genova si terrà il Festival della Scienza quest'anno dedicato al tema del Tempo. All'interno del Festival, presso il Museo dell'Accademia Ligustica di Belle Arti, quest'anno è organizzata una mostra dedicata alla conservazione dei beni culturali dal titolo "Eterno o effimero: il tempo dell’opera d’arte".

Bryn Mawr Classical Review

2014.10.40: Aristaenetus, Erotic Letters. Writings from the Greco-Roman world, 32

Review of Peter Bing, Regina Höschele, Aristaenetus, Erotic Letters. Writings from the Greco-Roman world, 32. Atlanta: 2014. Pp. xxxvi, 147. $34.95 (pb). ISBN 9781589837416.

2014.10.39: Lattanzio, Agostino e la Sibylla Maga: Ricerche sulla fortuna degli 'Oracula Sibyllina' nell’Occidente latino. Studi e Testi TardoAntichi 11

Review of Nicoletta Brocca, Lattanzio, Agostino e la Sibylla Maga: Ricerche sulla fortuna degli 'Oracula Sibyllina' nell’Occidente latino. Studi e Testi TardoAntichi 11. Roma: 2011. Pp. 437. €50.00 (pb). ISBN 9788889670651.

2014.10.38: The Roman Empire at Bay, AD 180-395. Second edition (first published 2004). Routledge history of the ancient world

Review of David S. Potter, The Roman Empire at Bay, AD 180-395. Second edition (first published 2004). Routledge history of the ancient world. London; New York: 2014. Pp. xxiv, 767. $145.00. ISBN 9780415840545.

Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

Perfecto e Virtuale, l’Uomo Vitruviano diventa multimediale

uomo-vitruviano-mostra2014Dalle Gallerie dell’Accademia di Venezia a Fano. L’Uomo Vitruviano di Leonardo da Vinci, forse il disegno più celebre al mondo e canone rinascimentale della bellezza perfetta, esce virtualmente dal luogo storico in cui è conservato dal 1822 mostrandosi per la prima volta in assoluto in una versione digitale e tridimensionale ad altissima definizione. “Perfecto e Virtuale, l’Uomo Vitruviano di Leonardo” è una vera e propria mostra-spettacolo dove il visitatore può godere appieno della celebrità di quest’opera. L’appuntamento è dal 24 ottobre al 16 novembre 2014 nella chiesa di San Michele, attigua all’Arco d’Augusto.

Archaeology and the City Preserving enhancing interpreting


archaelogy-cityE' in programma il 7 Novembre 2014 a partire dalle ore 9.30, presso il Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche di Roma (P.le Aldo Moro 7, Aula Marconi) il Convegno Internazionale Archaeology and the City. Preserving enhancing interpreting.

Laboratoire Orient et Méditerranée

Rencontres scientifiques d'Antiquité Classique et Tardive

Programme de la première séance

- Pour en savoir plus sur ces rencontres

American School of Classical Studies in Athens: News

Blegen Library closed October 28

The Blegen Library will be closed to visitors on Tuesday, October 28, 2014 in observance of the National Holiday.

Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

Restaurare l'arte contemporanea? Workshop a Lucca

restaurare-arte-contemporaneaDue giornate di studio, l'11 e 12 dicembre 2014 a Lucca, organizzate dall'IGIIC, l'ICVBC, il Gruppo SCIBEC del Dipartimento di Chimica dell'Università di Pisa, il Centro Arti Visive di Pietrasanta che  hanno lo scopo di evidenziare le difficoltà che si possono incontrare nel difficile campo della conservazione preventiva dell’arte contemporanea.

Laura Gibbs (Bestiaria Latina Blog)

Latin Proverbs and Fables Round-Up: October 22

I have some EXCITING NEWS to share: Justin Slocum Bailey has a new website, Indwelling Language, and you will find there some audio recordings of the fables that I had included in Mille Fabulae et Una. Justin is such a wonderful performer, and he offers the fables with both classical and ecclesiastical pronunciation. I am delighted that he wants to bring Aesop to life this way, and I'll be including links to his recordings as one of the features here at the Bestiaria. You'll find today's audio fable down at the bottom of the post.

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

MYTHS and LEGENDS: The art image for today's legend shows The Return of Persephone; you can also see the legends for the current week listed together here.


TINY PROVERBS: Today's tiny proverb is: Grata brevitas (English: Brevity is welcome).

3-WORD MOTTOES: Today's 3-word verb-less motto is Omni liber metu (English: Free from all fear).

ANIMAL PROVERBS: Today's animal proverb is Confidens animi canis est in stercore noto (English: A dog is very bold in spirit when he's standing on a familiar dung heap).

POLYDORUS: Today's proverb from Polydorus is: Vive moribus praeteritis, loquere verbis praesentibus (English: Live by the habits of the past, speak with the words of the present).

PROPER NAME PROVERBS: Today's proper name proverb from Erasmus is Atlas caelum (English: Atlas [holds up] the sky; from Adagia 1.1.67 - for more about this myth, see the Atlas article at Wikipedia).

GREEK PROVERBS: Today's proverb is Ἅμαξα τὸν βουν ἕλκει (English: The wagon is dragging the ox... which is like putting the cart before the horse!).

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

And here are today's proverbial LOLcats:


MILLE FABULAE: The fable from the Mille Fabulae et Una widget is Talpa, Asinus, et Simia, in which three animals lament their fates.

FABULAE FACILES: The fable from the Fabulae Faciles widget is Apicula et Iuppiter, the story of how the bee got its sting (this fable has a vocabulary list).

apes et Iuppiter

Latin Fables Read by Justin Slocum Bailey. Today's audio fable is Leo et Canis. Here are links to the audio and to the blog post.

Byzantine News

Pilgrimages to Jerusalem in Byzantium

As a large scale social and religious phenomenon in Byzantium, pilgrimages produced a good number of texts and other source materials.
A recent brief article from Bible History Daily discusses the Byzantine pilgrimage.
Jerusalem has been revered as a holy city for millennia—with pilgrims a staple feature in its bustling streets. Egeria’s Travels and the journals of the Bordeaux Pilgrim and the Piacenza Pilgrim demonstrate that this was as true in the Byzantine period as it is today.
Click here to read it.

October 21, 2014

AIA Fieldnotes

Historic Buildings and Bridges along the Kaskaskia-Cahokia Trail

Sponsoring Institution/Organization: 
Sponsored by Monroe County Historical Society/Illinois Department of Transportation
Event Type (you may select more than one): 
Start Date: 
Saturday, October 25, 2014 - 1:30pm

Today Illinois Route 3 in large part retraces the route of the Kaskaskia-Cahokia Trail, one of the oldest roads in Illinois. The trail was first blazed by ancient Native Americans at the end of the last Ice Age, some 13,000 years ago. Around 1,000 years ago, native villages were established along the trail, and the trail linked the villages to the ancient native city at Cahokia Mounds. Seven hundred years later, the trail connected French Colonial forts and settlements, which were taken over by the British and were then captured by George Rogers Clark in 1788. Read more »


Norma-Bill Reheis
Call for Papers: 

Ancient Art

An ancient Chinese handle in the shape of a dragon’s head....

An ancient Chinese handle in the shape of a dragon’s head. This artefact dates to the Eastern Han dynasty, from about the 1st to 2nd century. It is made of gilded bronze with traces of red pigment.

Courtesy of & currently located at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, via their online collections1992.165.25.

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

Can You Help Sort Out Columbia’s Students?

Matthew Morgenstern shared the above screenshot on Facebook. I searched online and found that Columbia University is looking for a lot of faculty who specialize in discipline. I guess their students in general must be really out of control, and not just the Hebrew-speaking ones!


AIA Fieldnotes

David Gordon Lyon and the Harvard Semitic Museum

Sponsoring Institution/Organization: 
Sponsored by Harvard Semitic Museum, Harvard Museums of Science & Culture
Event Type (you may select more than one): 
Start Date: 
Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 6:00pm

Harvard professor David Gordon Lyon (1852–1935) held one of the first Assyriology positions in the United States and worked tirelessly to promote the study of ancient cultures that once flourished in today’s Middle East. Join Peter Der Manuelian, Philip J. King Professor of Egyptology and Director of the Harvard Semitic Museum, Joseph A. Read more »


Call for Papers: 

Results Day, Harvard Yard Archaeology Project

Sponsoring Institution/Organization: 
Sponsored by Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology
Event Type (you may select more than one): 
Start Date: 
Thursday, November 6, 2014 - 1:30pm

Students of Anthropology 1130 show and discuss the findings of the 2014 excavation season. Harvard Yard outside Matthews Hall. Read more »


Faith Sutter
Call for Papers: 

ISAW News Blog

Kamniskires and the ancient state of Elymais

In recent years, while working on the history of nomadism in Iran, I spent a great deal of time reading the works of European travellers who visited the region, from the 16th century onwards. Although looking out for descriptions of encounters with nomads, I was struck by how many times early writers referred to the Classical sources on various parts of Iran, and how well-versed they were in the region’s pre-Islamic history. I began to want to know how and when Europeans knew what they knew about ancient Iran since it seemed to me that, long before archaeological excavations were ever conducted there, an enormous amount of preparatory work on Iran’s ancient history had already been accomplished.

As I sought to understand the origins of Western curiosity about ancient Iran, I was inevitably drawn back in time. Although there are certainly relevant mediaeval works such as Marco Polo’s travelogue, copies of which began to be produced by hand in 1307, these only ever had very limited distribution, and it seemed clear that the invention of printing at Subiaco in 1464 was responsible for the real upsurge in knowledge dissemination and interest in the ancient East.  Printed Latin translations of Strabo’s Geography and Herodotus’ Histories appeared in 1469 and 1474; and Quintus Curtius Rufus’ history of Alexander the Great came out in 1470 or 1471. Works like these contain copious amounts of data on ancient Persia and were staples of European education long before the Enlightenment. Travellers went to Iran equipped with these works. As Jean Chardin, who first visited Iran in 1666, wrote, ‘Nothing is easier than to recognize the situation of Persepolis in the descriptions of Arrian, Quintus Curtius and Diodorus Siculus; and it is a great pleasure to travel the country with the ancient authors in one’s hand’.

More recently, while preparing the second edition of my Archaeology of Elam (see Summer Scholarship in ISAW’s news blog for 15 July 2014), I was again reminded of just how many problems we assume were first investigated by modern scholars have a history of study stretching back hundreds of years. In the mid-2nd century BC the first kings of Elymais —  the name given in Classical sources to the ancient land of Elam in southwestern Iran — bore the name Kamniskires. This name, albeit in somewhat garbled form (Mnascires), appears in Pseudo-Lucian’s Macrobii (or Longaevi), a work from the 2nd century AD which was first printed in Greek by Laurentius de Alopa in Florence in 1496. A Latin translation by the great Dutch humanist Desiderius Erasmus was published in Paris in 1513 or 1514. The only extant example turned up in 1933 and is today in the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

Ps.-Lucian’s Mnascires was identified as a ‘king of the Parthians who lived to be 96 years old’ (rex Parthiensium, sex supra nonaginta vixit annos). His position in the long sequence of Parthian kings was first suggested in 1725 by the French numismatist Jean Foy-Vaillant, but it was not until 1852 that the Russian General Ivan Aleksyeevich Bartholomaei (1813-1870) announced his discovery of a tetradrachm, allegedly from Iran, with the Greek legend ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΚΑΜΝΙΣΚΙΡΟΥ ΝΙΚΗΦΟΡΟΥ, ‘King Kamniskires Nikephorus [Bearer of Victory]’, which he felt was certainly the same individual called Mnascires by Ps-Lucian. Just four years later, in 1856, W.S.W. Vaux, President of the Numismatic Society of London (now the Royal Numismatic Society) and an Assistant Keeper at the British Museum, observed that examples of Kamniskires’ coinage had recently been found at Susa by W.K. Loftus, but it took another 20 years before numismatists categorically struck Kamniskires from the Parthian kinglist, and it wasn’t until 1888 that the great German historian Alfred von Gutschmid recognized that these coins belonged to the kingdom of Elymais, the successor state to ancient Elam. In 2004 the Iranian numismatist Farhad Assar published an important paper on the chronology of early Elymaean coinage, and in 2007 the Dutch scholar P.A. van’t Haaff brought out the first comprehensive catalogue of Elymaean coinage in over 75 years. While publications like these have brought much more clarity to our understanding of the chronology and history of the Kamniscirid dynasty, they are just the latest in a long line of inquiries stretching well back into the Renaissance.

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Open Access Journal: Siedlungsforschung. Archäologie – Geschichte – Geographie

 [First posted in AWOL 2 August 2010. Updated 21 October 2014 (changed location online)]

Siedlungsforschung. Archäologie – Geschichte – Geographie
ISSN: 0175–0046
Die Zeitschrift "Siedlungsforschung: Archäologie - Geschichte - Geographie" enthält Aufsätze, Miszellen, Rezensionsartikel, Berichte und Bibliographien. Die Zeitschrift erscheint in einem Band von ca. 300 Seiten im Verlag "Siedlungsforschung" in Bonn. Bei den persönlichen Mitgliedern des "Arbeitskreises für historische Kulturlandschaftsforschung in Mitteleuropa e.V." ist der Bezugspreis im Jahresbeitrag enthalten.
The following volumes are available online:
Mit Beiträgen von: F. Irsigler, S. Freund, E. Gringmuth-Dallmer, V. Salač, T. Fischer, M. Hardt, P. Ettel, C. Zschieschang, H.-F. Kniehase, H.-G. Wagner, V. Kaminske, K.-D. Kleefeld
Mit Beiträgen von Winfried Schenk, Klaus Fehn, Ute Wardenga, Sebastian Brather, Eike Gringmuth-Dallmar, Fred Ruchhöft, Rainer Schreg, Udo Recker, Rudolf Bergmann, Theo Spek, Johannes Renes und Johannes C.A. Kolen, Peter Rückert, Axel Posluschny
Mit Beiträgen von Th. Glade, K.-E. Behre, G. J. Borger, E. Freifrau von Boeselager, M. Jakubowski-Tiessen, E. Gringmuth-Dallmer, P. Rückert, B. Heuser-Hildebrandt, M. Gudd, Ch. Röhr, L. Clemens, M. Deutsch & K. T. Rost, Ch. Stolz, Th. Meier, K. Fehn
Mit Beiträgen von: Dietrich Denecke, Franz Irsigler, Günter Mangelsdorf, Heiko Steuer, Christian Lübke, Hans-Rudolf Egli, Klaus Fehn, Reinhard Zölitz-Möller, Helmut Klüter, Reinhold E. Lob
Mit Beiträgen von Klaus Fehn, Karl-Heinz Willroth, Hans-Wilhelm Heine, Hauke Jöns, Caspar Ehlers, Christoph Bartels, Monika Meyer-Künzel, Dieter Rödel, Klaus Fesche, Olaf Mussmann, Siegfried Zelnhefer, Axel Priebs
Mit Beiträgen von Winfried Schenk, Leszek Pavel Slupecki, Jerzy Strelczyk, Izabella Skierska, Ralf Gebuhr, Winfried Schich, Rudolf Bergmann, Jerzy Piekalski, Krzysztof R. Mazurski, Peter Cede, Oliver Karnau, Zoltán Ilyés, Klaus Fehn, Dietrich Denecke
Mit Beiträgen von Winfried Schenk, Günter Moosbauer, Chrystina Häuber, Hansjörg Küster, Christoph Morissey, Peter Rückert, Bernd-Stefan Grewe, Aline Kottmann und Reinhold Schaal, Bernward Selter, Anton Schuler, Richard Pott und Holger Freund, Franz Schmithüsen, Per Grau Moler, Dietrich Denecke, Rudolf Bergmann
Mit Beiträgen von Klaus Fehn, Winfried Schenk, Peter Rückert, Klaus-Dieter Kleefeld, Hermann Parzinger, Perdita Pohle, Dirk Meier, Karl Martin Born, Mathias Koch, Günther Moosbauer, Hansjörg Küster, Renate Gerlach, Bernward Selter, Gabriele Recker, Ulrich Stanjek, Oliver Karnau, Josef Mangold, Franz Maier, Helmut Flachenecker, Jürgen Vollbrecht und Heinrich Otten

Mit Beiträgen von Werner Rösener, Johann-Bernhard Haversath, Mathias Austermann, Norbert Gebauer, Udo Recker, Brigitta Vits, Ulrich Reuling, Reinhard Bauer, Jürg Tauber, Friedrich Eigler, Hans Krawarik, Armin Ratusny Eike Gringmuth-Dallmer, Mathias Hardt, Hans-Jürgen Nitz
Mit Beiträgen von Klaus Fehn, Wolfgang Wegener, Hans-Werner Wehling, Rolf Plöger, Johannes Biecker, Michael Hartenstein, Horst Kranz, Jörg Wiesemann, Johannes Renes, Georg Römhild, Günther Hein und Christoph Willms
Mit Beiträgen von Michael Müller-Wille, Christer Westerdahl, Winfried Schich, Andreas Dix, Achim Leube,
Axel Priebs, Rolf Plöger, Bruno Benthien, Susanne Schumacher-Gorni, Gerd Hoffmann, Walter Dörfler und Jörn Thiede

Mit Beiträgen von Eike Gringmuth-Dallmer, Günter Löffler, Harm Tjalling Waterbolk, Theo Spek, Wim A. Ligtendag, Johannes A. Mol, Paul Noomen, Johannes Ey, Dirk Meier, Hans-Rudolf Egli und Carl-Hans Hauptmeyer
Mit Beiträgen von Hans-Jürgen Nitz, Georg Kossack, Walter Janssen, Karlheinz Blaschke, Felix Escher, Frank Hering, Dieter Scholz, Heinz Günter Steinberg, Thomas Wölker, Luise Grundmann, Heinz Schürmann, Horst Förster und Jörg Stadelbauer
Mit Beiträgen von Dietrich Denecke, Rudolf Bergmann, Manfred Balzer, Günter Mangelsdorf, Vladimír Nekuda, Rostislav Nekuda, Ervín Cerný, Alojz Habovštiak, Hans Krawarik, Peter Rückert, Peter Cede und Johannes Renes
Mit Beiträgen von Klaus Fehn, Hans Losert, Hans-Georg Stephan, Gabriele Isenberg, Miroslav Richter, Tomás Velimský, Lieselott Enders, Michel Pauly, Roland Flückiger-Seiler, Ernst Pleßl, Martina Stercken, Gerhard Henkel und Alois Mayr
Mit Beiträgen von Dietrich Denecke, Wolf-Dieter Sick, Uwe Kühl, Jörg Stadelbauer, Rainer Graafen, Heiko Steuer, Eike Gringmuth-Dallmer, Gerhard Billig, Volkmar Geupel, Wolfgang Schwabenicky und Rainer Aurig
Mit Beiträgen von Franz Irsigler, Hermann Parzinger, Helmut Bender, Vladimír Nekuda, Armin Ratusny, Hans-Jürgen Nitz, Winfried Schich, Ludwig Schober, Johann-Bernhard Haversath und Klaus Fehn
Mit Beiträgen von Klaus Aerni, Hans-Rudolf Egli, René Wyss, Paul Gleirscher, Jürgen Rageth, Werner Kreisel, Werner Meyer, Werner Bätzing, Susanne Pacher und Hans Becker
Mit Beiträgen von Jelier A.J. Vervloet, Guus J. Borger, J.H.F. Bloemers, W.J.H. Willems, H.A. Heidinga, Peter Henderikx, Herbert Sarfatij, Adriaan Verhulst, Jan Bieleman, J.D.H. Harten, Johannes Renes und Gerard P. van der Ven

Mit Beiträgen von Helmut Jäger, Walter Janssen, Jens Lüning, Arie J. Kalis, Karl-Ernst Behre, Helmut Bender, Ulf Dirlmeier, Christian Pfister, Jürgen Hagel, Engelbert Schramm, Achim Rost, Reinhard Mook, Helge Salvesen, Günter Bayerl und Hubert Mücke

Mit Beiträgen von Wilfried Krings, Günter P. Fehring, Miroslav Richter, Zdenek Smetánka, Pavel J. Michna, Vladimír Nekuda, Herbert Knittler, Jürgen Ellermeyer und Renate Banik-Schweitzer

Mit Beiträgen von Karlheinz Willroth, Brigitta Hårdh, Svend Gissel, Franz Irsigler, Karel A.H.W. Leenders, Ulrich Troitzsch, Frank Norbert Nagel und Gerhard Oberbeck

Mit Beiträgen von Klaus Fehn, Dietrich Denecke, Helmut Hildebrandt, Neek Maqsud und Hans-Jürgen Nitz

Mit Beiträgen von Michael Müller-Wille, Hans-Jürgen Nitz, Hendrik van der Linden, Guus J. Borger, Ekkehard Wassermann, Klaus Brandt, Rosemarie Krämer, Dietrich Hoffmann, Hans Joachim Kühn und Bodo Higelke

Mit Beiträgen von Busso von der Dollen, Burkhard Hofmeister, Winfried Schich, Felix Escher, Wolfgang Hofmann, Eberhard Bohm, Franz Irsigler und Henriette Meynen

graduate classics students at Cambridge (res gerendae)

AmnesTea Bake Sale

Past and present Graduate Tea representatives, with ALL THE CAKE

Past and present Graduate Tea representatives, with ALL THE CAKE

Three generations of Grad Tea representatives joined forces today (with a little help from our friends) for an AmnesTea bake sale – that is, selling cake (with tea) in aid of Amnesty International to grads, undergrads, and staff alike.

It seemed to be a great success – most people’s only complaint was that choosing between chocolate cupcakes, apple and plum Danish pastries, chocolate-chip cookies, flapjacks, chocolate cherry brownies, and lemon-raspberry cake was just too difficult. The centrepiece and highlight was, of course, Charlie’s Colosseum Cake. The “Colosseum lights up life” project, which ran until the end of 2000, lit up the Colosseum every time a death sentence was commuted or suspended, and every time a country abolished capital punishment, as part of Amnesty’s ongoing campaign against the death penalty worldwide. Thus, a Colosseum cake seemed doubly appropriate, and we even lit it up as well!

Charlie's Colosseum Cake, lit up

Charlie’s Colosseum Cake, lit up

Anyway, I hope there will be a post with more details about the construction (and subsequent destruction) of the cake in the near future – this is just for the benefit of all of you who arrived too late to see it in its full glory. I’m also happy to report that we’ve raised over £120 to support Amnesty’s incredibly important work against human rights abuses worldwide – so thank you so much to everyone who made cake, helped out on the day, and came along to eat cake! Graduates may also like to know there are still some leftover slices of cake, cookies, pastries, and flapjacks in the Common Room, with an honesty box – all further donations welcomed…

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Missing Amphipolis Sphinx Head Discovered

Another amazing discovery has surfaced on the Amphipolis dig, Greece. The missing head of the...

ArcheoNet BE

Onduidelijkheid over erkenningsnormen archeologen

Er is nog veel discussie over de normen voor de aanduiding van ‘erkende archeologen’, een systeem dat wordt geïntroducceerd in het nieuwe Onroerenderfgoeddecreet. “Zolang die discussie niet uitgeklaard is, kan de rest van het hoofdstuk archeologie niet in werking treden,” antwoordde Vlaams minister Geert Bourgeois vandaag op een vraag van volksvertegenwoordiger Bart Caron in de bevoegde commissie van het Vlaams Parlement. De minister wil in de loop van 2015 klaar zijn met alle uitvoeringsbesluiten, zodat begin 2016 ook het hoofdstuk archeologie in werking kan treden.

Het nieuwe decreet treedt op 1 januari 2015 in werking. Uitzondering is het hoofdstuk ‘preventieve archeologie’, dat pas in werking kan treden wanneer er voldoende ‘erkende archeologen’ zijn. De aanduiding van erkende archeologen zou een administratieve vereenvoudiging betekenen. Nu moeten archeologen immers nog bij elke aanvraag voor een opgravingsvergunning opnieuw aantonen dat ze voldoende gekwalificeerd zijn en de nodige ervaring hebben. Een erkenning als archeoloog is in principe van onbepaalde duur.

“Over de erkenningsvoorwaarde wordt echter nog heel wat discussie gevoerd,” aldus Bourgeois. “De enen willen dat er zeer strenge erkenningsregels zijn en de anderen vinden dat de erkenningsregels veel te streng zijn en dat ze verder zouden moeten kunnen gaan in de situatie zoals ze vandaag bestaat. We zullen de discussie over de strengheid van de erkenning van archeologen moeten uitklaren. Dat zal sowieso nooit goed zijnvoor iedereen.”

Volgens Bourgeois is er echter geen reden voor onrust: “Dat de archeologiebepalingen nog niet in werking zouden treden op 1 januari 2015, was van meet af aan bekend. Er zal ook geen vacuüm zijn door het uitblijven van een uitvoeringsbesluit. De oude bepalingen blijven van kracht tot de nieuwe bepalingen in werking treden.”

Aansluitend artikel: Nieuw decreet regelt de erkenning van archeologen (12 maart 2013)

From Stone to Screen

Open Access Week, October 28th – 29th


Every year UBC hosts participates in International Open Access Week, a global event aimed at the promotion of open access in scholarship and resarch. From Stone to Screen has been asked to join the panel on Student Innovation in the Open,  where we will present the digitizing work we’ve accomplished over the summer and talk a bit about how these resources are being integrated into classroom use. This is a great opportunity for us to engage with the academic community and discuss the value of open access to material, something we at FSTS feel very strongly about.

Open UBC is held in conjunction with the International Open Access Week, which encourages the academic community to come together to share and learn about open scholarship initiatives locally and worldwide. Open UBC showcases two days of diverse events highlighting areas of open scholarship that UBC’s researchers, faculty, students and staff participate in as well as guests from the global community. These events include discussion forums, lectures, seminars, workshops, and symposia on topical and timely issues from every discipline. All of these events are FREE and open to the public, students, faculty, staff and schools.

All sessions will be held in the Lillooet Room (301), of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre at UBC. Check out the schedule and if there are panels or talks you are interested in registration is free but required; coffee and snacks are provided.



Archaeology Magazine

England’s Real-Life War Horses

world war I horse articleBRISTOL, ENGLAND—Local school children and injured service men and women participating in Operation Nightingale are assisting in an excavation on Salisbury Plain that is investigating how England’s horses and mules were cared for during World War I. Documentary evidence indicates that a veterinary hospital at the site, known as Larkhill Camp, quarantined and cared for some of the 500,000 animals that served the army by hauling weaponry, stores, and personnel to and from the front lines. No traces of the hospital buildings survived, but the test pits and metal detection survey did recover horse shoes, farrier’s nails, and other horse trappings. “This project enables researchers, young people, and those effected by the traumas of war to work together. Horses were such an important part of the legacy of World War I and ‘Digging War Horse’ helps people to understand the significance of horses during the war years at home and abroad,” said Philip Rowe in a University of Bristol press release. For more on WWI-era excavations, see "ANZAC's Next Chapter."

Dorothy King (PhDiva)

Amphipolis: The Door

The third photo shows the tracks I mentioned before, and there are cuttings to show it could be set open in various places - this is normally seen in temples.

One thing no-one has asked is why is the door at Amphipolis so much more damaged than the rest of the structure and sculpture ... was it locked? and if so, this would be the first evidence of a possible attempt to rob the tomb in Antiquity. Or maybe the slabs were less secure than the rest of the building, so they fell and shattered.

Open Access Archaeology

Open Access Archaeology Digest #578

Learn more about Archaeology, History, Anthropology, etc. Open Access (free to read) articles:

On English Medieval Embroidery

Original Document of William de Percy, died 1245

Current Research on the Rock Art at Gua Tambun, Perak, Malaysia

Notes of Antiquities in Loch Alsh and Kintail.

Learn more about Open Access and Archaeology at:

ArcheoNet BE

Studienamiddag over juridische aspecten nieuw OE-decreet

Op 1 januari 2015 treden het nieuwe Onroerenderfgoeddecreet en het uitvoeringsbesluit in werking. Deze teksten wijzigen alle aspecten van het onroerenderfgoedrecht ingrijpend. Tijdens een studienamiddag op donderdag 27 november in Hasselt worden de belangrijkste juridische aspecten van de nieuwe regeling thematisch toegelicht door specialisten ter zake. Deze studiedag is bedoeld voor wie met (de juridische aspecten van) erfgoed geconfronteerd wordt: advocaten, notarissen, architecten, ambtenaren…

Anne Mie Draye geeft een algemene inleiding en gaat dieper in op de betrokken actoren en instanties, de inventarisatie en de (rechtsgevolgen van de) bescherming. Stijn Verbist analyseert de nieuwe beschermingsprocedure en de rechtsbescherming van betrokken houders van zakelijke rechten. Stijn Aerts bespreekt de linken tussen onroerend erfgoedrecht en andere bestuursrechtelijke domeinen. Marc Boes tot slot brengt helderheid in het complexe vraagstuk van de handhaving.

Op de studiedag, een organisatie van het Centrum voor Overheid en Recht van de Universiteit Hasselt, wordt een verslagboek ter beschikking gesteld en een codex Onroerend Erfgoedrecht, waarin de tekst van het decreet en het uitvoeringsbesluit worden opgenomen.

Meer info:

Archaeology Magazine

17th-C. Dutch Warship Discovered Off the Coast of Tobago

Tobago-ShipwreckAVERY POINT, CONNECTICUT—A team led by Kroum Batchvarov of the University of Connecticut has discovered the seventeenth-century Dutch ship Huis de Kreuningen, which was lost on March 3, 1677, during a battle against an invading French fleet in the southern Caribbean. The Dutch controlled the island of Tobago and were repelling French forces when the Huis de Kreuningen, the largest ship in the Dutch fleet, was sunk by the better-armed Glorieux. “To find the Huis de Kreuningen—almost by accident, as she was outside the boundaries where we expected to find her—undiscovered and untouched for over 300 years was an exciting moment,” Batchvarov told UCONN Today. Some 2,000 people were killed in the battle, including 250 Dutch women and children and 300 enslaved Africans. The Glorieux also sank during the battle, killing 370 men. “Although we have some written records of the battle itself, we possess no detailed plans of seventeenth-century warships, so our only sources of information about the ships of the day are the wrecks themselves,” Batchvarov said. For more underwater discoveries, see "History's 10 Greatest Wrecks."

Bone Study Suggests Gladiators Drank Ash Tonic

VIENNA, AUSTRIA—Analysis of the bones of gladiators excavated from the ancient city of Ephesus show that these warriors, who lived in the second or third century B.C., ate a mostly vegetarian diet of beans and grains, as did many other people living in the city. The amount of strontium in the gladiators’ bones, however, suggests that they had access to minerals and calcium that the rest of the population did not. Contemporary reports refer to gladiators as “hordearii,” or “barley eaters,” and mention a tonic made of ashes that scholars now think probably did exist. “Plant ashes were evidently consumed to fortify the body after physical exertion and to promote better bone healing,” study leader Fabian Kanz of the Medical University of Vienna told Science Daily. “Things were similar then to what we do today—we take magnesium and calcium (in the form of effervescent tablets, for example) following physical exertion.” To read more about gladitorial training, see ARCHAEOLOGY's "The Gladiator Diet."

Peter Tompa (Cultural Property Observer)

Who Burned the Museum?

The Conflict Antiquities blog is reporting on various theories on who burned a museum in a Kurdish area within Turkey.   It makes for interesting reading, but all the speculation glosses over an important point.  Museums and archaeological sites in places like Egypt, Iraq, Syria and now Turkey have become targets precisely because hated dictatorial or authoritarian governments have appropriated the past to help further their own agendas.   So, is the greatest threat to the preservation of the past in such countries Western collectors or the nationalistic regimes that use the past to lord it over the locals?

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Ancient Greek well yields rare wooden statue

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Archeologists in Greece have uncovered a rare wooden statue preserved...

Ancient Peoples

Impression of a cylinder seal of Royal figures approaching a...

Impression of a cylinder seal of Royal figures approaching a supplicant Goddess, below is a banquet scene

c.1720-1650 BC

Old Syrian

(Source: The Metropolitan Museum)

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Militia Rule in Mesopotamia

A more disturbing reflection of same trend as the current fashion of the media of blaming "all looting" on ISIL, when clearly other groups have been and are involved (Tracey Shelton, 'Think the Islamic State is bad? Check out the 'good guys'...', Global Post October 17, 2014). 
US-backed Iraqi forces and their band of ruthless Shia militia groups have been carrying out atrocities of their own against Sunni civilians.[....]  “Atrocities are being committed on both sides [by government-backed Shia militias and IS],” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International's senior crisis response adviser. “The crimes being committed by Shia militias throughout Iraq amount to war crimes. These are not one-off cases. They are systematic and widespread.”[...]  This calls into question the accountability of governments who form the US-led international coalition currently supporting Iraqi troops fighting IS, who have so far failed to pressure the Iraqi government to crack down on militia violence. President Barack Obama's four-point strategy for fighting the Islamic State, which he detailed in September just after Iraq swore in a new government, acknowledged threats posed to Sunnis by the terror group but not by Shia militias. 
See the Amnesty International report "Absolute Impunity: Militia rule in Iraq".

ISAW News Blog

Elliott Addresses Conference on Digital Epigraphy

In September, Tom Elliott (ISAW's Associate Director for Digital Programs) traveled to Paris to deliver the opening keynote address for the EAGLE 2014 International Conference. The event focused on information technologies for epigraphy and digital cultural heritage in the ancient world. Elliott has posted a transcript of his remarks — entitled "Eighteen Years of EpiDoc. Now What?" — on his blog, Horothesia. He reflects, in part, upon a technological approach for epigraphic documentation that he launched in the late 1990s and which has seen increasingly wide adoption around the world. Several of the online resources in which ISAW participates make use of EpiDoc, including: and the Corpus of the Inscriptions of Campā.

The conference featured three days of stimulating papers and posters addressing a variety of topics relevant to the conference theme. Among the projects presented, several were noteworthy for their use and refinement of digital techniques also used by ISAW and its collaborators (including EpiDoc, Linked Open Data, digital imaging, and 3D modeling). The program and a digital poster exhibition remain online and provide a glimpse of the range and depth of the discussion.

The conference was organized by EAGLE Europeana (another EpiDoc-using project), which is uniting collaborators from around the globe to build a single, user-friendly portal to the inscriptions of the ancient Greek and Roman world. It was co-hosted by the École Normale Supérieure and the Chair for Religion, Institutions, and Society of Ancient Rome of the Collège de France, with support from the European Commission under its Information and Communication Technologies Policy Support Programme.

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Open Access Book: Past in the Present: A Living Heritage Approach - Meteora, Greece

Past in the Present: A Living Heritage Approach - Meteora, Greece
By Ioannis Poulios

The Past in the Present deals with the complexities in the operation and management of living heritage sites. It presents a new interpretation of such sites based on the concept of continuity, and its evolution to the present. It is demonstrated that the current theoretical framework and practice of conservation, as best epitomised in a values-based approach and the World Heritage concept, is based on discontinuity created between the monuments(considered to belong to the past) and the people of the present, thus seemingly unable to embrace living heritage sites. From this position, the study suggests an innovative approach that views communities and sites as an inseparable entity: a Living Heritage Approach. This approach brings a new insight into key concepts such as authenticity and sustainable development. Through the use of the monastic site of Meteora, Greece, as a case study, the discussion generated aims to shift the focus of conservation from ‘preservation’ towards a continual process of ‘creation’ in an ongoing present, attempting to change the way heritage is perceived, protected and, more importantly, further created.



Table of Contents

Past in the Present TOC

  • Acknowledgements

  • A Note On The Author

  • Introduction

  • Introduction: Definition And Development Of Conservation – The Concept Of Authenticity

  • Recognising The Living Dimension Of Heritage Sites

  • Existing Approaches To Conservation

  • Defining And Managing ‘Living Heritage’

  • Description Of Meteora: Landscape, And History

  • Meteora Within The Systems Of Monasticism, Heritage Protection And Tourism Operation

  • The Meaning Of Meteora As An Orthodox Monastic Site

  • The Conservation And Management Of Meteora (1960 To Present): Presentation

How to cite
Poulios, I. 2014. Past in the Present: A Living Heritage Approach - Meteora, Greece. London: Ubiquity Press. DOI:

Dienekes' Anthropology Blog

Ancient DNA from prehistoric inhabitants of Hungary

A very interesting new article on Europe describes new data from ancient Hungary from the Neolithic to the Iron Age. It is open access, so go ahead and read it. I will update this entry with some comments after I read the paper myself.

UPDATE I (The petrous bone):

The authors write:
The endogenous DNA yields from the petrous samples exceeded those from the teeth by 4- to 16-fold and those from other bones up to 183-fold. Thus, while other skeletal elements yielded human, non-clonal DNA contents ranging from 0.3 to 20.7%, the levels for petrous bones ranged from 37.4 to 85.4% (Fig. 1).
This seems like a very exciting technical breakthrough that will increase DNA yields in future studies.


The Neolithic Hungarians are close to Sardinians (this has been replicated in study after study, so it's no longer a surprise when you find Neolithic Europeans that look like Sardinians).

What is surprising is that one KO1 Neolithic European is with the hunter-gatherers (top of the plot). At some level you would expect to find some hunter-gatherers in the earliest Neolithic communities in Europe as Europe wasn't empty land when the early farmers showed up. And KO1 appears one of those guys, "caught in the act" of first contact between the two groups.

The two Bronze Age samples are more like modern continental Europeans but not exactly like modern Hungarians. The Iron Age sample is in the no-man's land between Europe and the Caucasus and his "Asian" Y chromosome and mtDNA seems to agree that this is no ordinary European.

UPDATE III (How they looked):

I really like the visualization of hair and eye color predictions of the last two columns of the table on the right. It seems that the ancient Hungarians had mainly brown hair with more variability after 5,000 years ago. They mostly had brown eyes except three individuals.

An interesting thing is that NE7 who seems to have light hair and blue eyes is just like other Sardinian-like farmers of the Neolithic and also has the mtDNA haplogroup N1a1a1a that is ultra-typical for Neolithic people from Europe. So this is a warning not to conflate appearance with ancestry.

UPDATE IV (Y chromosomes):

As always, the supplement has many of the interesting details. Two Neolithic males were C6 which is the same "weird" haplogroup that La Brana hunter-gatherer from Spain had. Two other ones were I2a which is what Loschbour and Swedish hunter-gatherers had. Strangely, no Neolithic males had G which was found before in many Neolithic Europeans.

A new finding is that the Bronze Age individual BR2 belonged to haplogroup J2a1. I think this is the first time this has been found in ancient DNA and it falsifies the Phoenician sea-faring theory of the dispersal of this lineage.

Finally, the Iron Age Hungarian belonged to haplogroup N. I believe this was found in ancient Magyars from Hungary before, but apparently it existed there long before them.

Nature Communications 5, Article number: 5257 doi:10.1038/ncomms6257

Genome flux and stasis in a five millennium transect of European prehistory

Cristina Gamba et al.

The Great Hungarian Plain was a crossroads of cultural transformations that have shaped European prehistory. Here we analyse a 5,000-year transect of human genomes, sampled from petrous bones giving consistently excellent endogenous DNA yields, from 13 Hungarian Neolithic, Copper, Bronze and Iron Age burials including two to high (~22 × ) and seven to ~1 × coverage, to investigate the impact of these on Europe’s genetic landscape. These data suggest genomic shifts with the advent of the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages, with interleaved periods of genome stability. The earliest Neolithic context genome shows a European hunter-gatherer genetic signature and a restricted ancestral population size, suggesting direct contact between cultures after the arrival of the first farmers into Europe. The latest, Iron Age, sample reveals an eastern genomic influence concordant with introduced Steppe burial rites. We observe transition towards lighter pigmentation and surprisingly, no Neolithic presence of lactase persistence.


Archaeological News on Tumblr

NOAA team discovers two vessels from WWII convoy battle off North Carolina

A team of researchers led by NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries have discovered...

The Archaeology News Network

Ancient Greek well yields rare wooden statue

Archaeologists in Greece have uncovered a rare wooden statue preserved in the muddy depths of an ancient well in Piraeus, the port of Athens. The wooden statue was found during an excavation of ancient wells in central Piraeus  where a new subway line will be built [Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture]A Culture Ministry statement said Tuesday that the roughly half-metre (20-inch) high dressed male figure was found without its head,...

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Archaeological News on Tumblr

Ancient Human Skulls Reveal When Europeans Could Drink Milk

The DNA from ancient human bones is shedding new light on the prehistory of Europe, such as when...

Dorothy King (PhDiva)

Sphinx Head Found at Amphipolis

Alert! Βρέθηκε το κεφάλι της Σφίγγας στην Αμφίπολη

I'm going to guess that like the wing, it was found in an ancient context. So the break was not the result of modern looting as Christos Tsirogiannis of the MC has been telling people.

And the journalist who was taking photos for the dig is no longer posting them on her open Facebook page:

Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology in the Middle East

Flights 20141019-20 - The Aqaba Trip

Sunday 19th
Much forethought and planning had gone into this two-day trip by David and Becc so it was doubly disappointing that Becc was stricken by a bug and couldn’t join us, and the weather had turned decidedly autumnal. However Don agreed to join us for a boy’s trip to the Red Sea. Low pressure, low clouds and poor visibility meant our first attempt to fly south was thwarted, and after 45 minutes we returned to Marka. We were told the weather would get worse, but indomitable as ever we pressed the case for getting to Al-Jafr (many miles south-east and it is always clear there). So after a delay we set off for a very successful (if long) day. David has already written up two of the highlights (see post for Flight 20141019) - the Via Nova Traina; and the ancient Aina fort overlooking the Wadi el-Hasa, with stunning views and a truly commanding position. We both wondered why we had never photographed this very well preserved and important site before?
The Gharandal Roman Fort. © APAAME_20141019_DLK-0418.
The cold was beginning to have its effect, and we were grateful for the re-fuelling stops at Jafr, but not much re-fuelling for the pilots and crew; luckily Becc had provided us some dates, chocolate biscuits, nuts and Werther’s Originals (the later being a staple on these flight over many years). The final leg of the day was very rewarding as we descended into the (warm) Wadi Araba to photograph the Roman fort at Gharandhal and then land at Aqaba. There was just time for the quickest of dips in the Red Sea before an early meal and early night.
Ayla - ancient Aqaba. © APAAME_20141020_RHB-0033.

Monday 20th
Threatening clouds to the west, including some rain, greeted us at take-off (despite the cold) – even this far south – but our first targets were of ancient Aqaba, the original city being called Ayla, and now a heritage park, well watered and surprisingly green.

Transfixing landscapes east of Aqaba. © APAAME_20141020_RHB-0094.
We were then transfixed by the landscapes we were flying over; a geological tour de force and a wonder to behold; impossible to capture the scale and enormity of this wind-sand-blown desert with teeth-like pillars of rock randomly placed.
Landscape west of Mudawwarra. © APAAME_20141020_RHB-0119.
As we flew on the landscape changed to a darker basalt rock where the formations were like fingers spreading out into the desert. All testament to millennia of erosion and change.

The ghost line of the Hedjaz Railway. © APAAME_20141020_RHB-0170.
From there we approached the Hedjaz railway, and some stunning ancient hill-top enclosures, forts of as yet unknown date, but very well preserved. At this point the railway there is only a ghost of the track and sleepers – the station and platforms deserted and almost covered over with sand. Then a huge loop in the system as climbs up a steep gradient, and new track, and a real railway; presumably in use by a mining company to shift huge quantities of minerals. On the summit another stunning defended hill-top enclosure but sadly looted; even the pilots commented that the looters “were looking for gold”.
Ottoman army encampment and fort(?) above Mahattat Hitiya © APAAME_20141020_RHB-0236.
Detail of fort and looting. © APAAME_20141020_RHB-0249.
By now the strong westerly wind was affecting our schedule, and the longer time taken to return to Jafr for refuel meant fewer targets were photographed than we hoped; let’s hope for more flying time next year. Even at Jafr the cool wind meant we had to find a wind break, and a snack lunch in the helicopter, before a final foray to look for a group of sites in a landscape never visited before in the far east of the country. We knew that locating them (in the midday sun) would be difficult but only on arrival did we discover just how ephemeral these particular “kites” would be. We saw all but two of the sites, but only just.
Huey lunch with Don Boyer and David Kennedy. © APAAME_20141020_RHB-0325.
A final re-fuel and the long slog back to Marka and (my) farewells to the crew and squadron commanders “until the next time” – there is one more flight planned for this season for David and the team in Amman.
- Robert Bewley

The Archaeology News Network

Missing Amphipolis sphinx head discovered

Another amazing discovery has surfaced on the Amphipolis dig, Greece. The missing head of the Sphinx “guarding” the tomb’s entrance was finally discovered inside the third chamber. The Sphinx’s head is intact, with minimal breakage on the nose. It has a height of 0.60m and it is assigned to the body of the eastern Sphinx. Made of marble, the head has signs of red color on its curly hair (falling onto its left shoulder) that is tied...

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Archaeological News on Tumblr

Twelve Ancient Statues of Jain Tirthankara Deities Found in Indian Temple

Twelve statues of Jain Tirthankara idols which could date back to as early as the 4th-5th century...

BiblePlaces Blog

Inscription to Emperor Hadrian Discovered in Jerusalem

From the Israel Antiquities Authority:

A rare find of tremendous historical significance was discovered in Jerusalem: a fragment of a stone engraved with an official Latin inscription dedicated to the Roman emperor Hadrian. Researchers believe this is among the most important Latin inscriptions ever discovered in Jerusalem.

During the past year the Israel Antiquities Authority conducted salvage excavations in several areas north of Damascus Gate. In one of those areas a stone fragment bearing an official Latin inscription from the Roman period was discovered. According to Dr. Rina Avner and Roie Greenwald, excavation directors on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “We found the inscription incorporated in secondary use around the opening of a deep cistern. In antiquity, as today, it was customary to recycle building materials and the official inscription was evidently removed from its original location and integrated in a floor for the practical purpose of building the cistern. Furthermore, in order to fit it with the capstone, the bottom part of the inscription was sawed round.”

Upon finding the inscription it was immediately clear to the excavators that they had uncovered an especially significant discovery, as indicated by the size and clarity of the letters.

The inscriptions, consisting of six lines of Latin text engraved on hard limestone, was read and translated by Avner Ecker and Hannah Cotton of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The English translation of the inscription is as follows: (1st hand) To the Imperator Caesar Traianus Hadrianus Augustus, son of the deified Traianus Parthicus, grandson of the deified Nerva, high priest, invested with tribunician power for the 14th time, consul for the third time, father of the country (dedicated by) the 10th legion Fretensis (2nd hand) Antoniniana.

According to Ecker and Cotton, “This inscription was dedicated by Legio X Fretensis to the emperor Hadrian in the year 129/130 CE.” Their analysis shows that the fragment of the inscription revealed by the IAA archaeologists is none other than the right half of a complete inscription, the other part of which was discovered nearby in the late nineteenth century and was published by the pre-eminent French archaeologist Charles Clermont-Ganneau. That stone is currently on display in the courtyard of Studium Biblicum Franciscanum Museum.

The full press release is here. The Times of Israel carries the story with more photos (only the last one gives you a sense of the inscription’s size). The Jerusalem Post has a 1-minute video without sound.

UPDATE: Joseph Lauer has sent some new information, including a link to four high-resolution photos and a link to an illustrated and informative post by Leen Ritmeyer.

Photograph of the inscription against the background of the Rockefeller Museum, seat of the Israel Antiquities Authority. Photographic credit: Yoli Shwartz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

Hadrianic inscription on display in front of the Rockefeller Museum Photograph by Yoli Shwartz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

Ancient Peoples

Palette for painting belonging to Vizier Amenemopet 18th...

Palette for painting belonging to Vizier Amenemopet

18th Dynasty, New Kingdom

c.1427-1400 BC

(Source: The Metropolitan Museum)

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)


JJMJSThe word has been spreading that there is a new open access journal, the Journal of the Jesus Movement in its Jewish Setting. That the first issue has appeared during Open Access Week makes the timing perfect. The first article, by Torleif Elgvin, offers a transcription and translation of the Gabriel Inscription as well as discussion of its messianic ideas. In the process, the question of a suffering messiah is given attention, and an idea which Richard Carrier discusses and dismisses quickly in On the Historicity of Jesus, namely that later Jewish sources got their messiah of Joseph from Christians, is discussed, with reference to other sources that discuss the matter further.

Of related interest, Jim Davila mentioned the bibliobloggers’ gathering at SBLAAR. I am starting to wonder whether it might not make sense for bloggers to simply gather on Saturday evening in the context of the other SBLAAR: The Society for Beer Lovers & Assorted Academic Research.

And don’t miss the interesting blog post on The Jesus Blog about social memory, looking at the example of Regina Jonas, the first female rabbi.


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Inscription dedicated to Hadrian found in Jerusalem

A rare find of tremendous historical significance was discovered in Jerusalem: a fragment of a stone engraved with an official Latin inscription dedicated to the Roman emperor Hadrian. Researchers believe this is among the most important Latin inscriptions ever discovered in Jerusalem. A monumental Roman inscription found in Jerusalem by the  Israel Antiquities Authority [Credit: AP/Sebastian Scheiner]During the past year the...

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Bog material reveals 11,500 years of Scottish history at prehistoric hillforts near Edinburgh

Peat from a bog near Edinburgh contains 11,500-year-old vegetation and glimpses of the impact made...

Végh Zsuzsanna and Simon Zsolt (Agyagtábla, papirusz)

A 8. ICH (IKH) aktái

Piotr Taracha (szerk.): Proceedings of the Eighth International Congress of Hittitology. Warsaw, 5-9 September 2011. Warsaw

A tartalom:
Selim F. Adalı – İlknur Taş, The umman-manda in the Hittite Texts

Rukiye Akdoğan – Ayşe Ersoy, Kahramanmaraş Müzesi’nde Bulunan Yapı-Adak Çivileri Çivilerinin Işiğinda Mama Şehrinin Lokalizasyonu

Silvia Alaura, The Sun-god’s Quadriga in the Prayers to the Sun-god for Appeasing an Angry Personal God (CTH 372-374) and its Mesopotamian Background

Boris Alexandrov, The Letters from Hanigalbat in the Boğazköy Archives

Mary Bachvarova, Hurro-Hittite Narrative Songs as a Bilingual Oral-Derived Genre

Juan Antonio Belmonte – A. César González García, Astral Symbolism and Time-Keeping in the Hittite Culture

Cyril Brosch, Beiträge zur hethitischen Raumgrammatik I: die Verbindung Place Word + arha und ihre Konstruktionen

Michele Cammarosano, Rejoicing in the Gods: the Verb dušk- and the Hittite Cheese Fighting

Anna Chrzanowska, Unerwünschte Nachbarschaft – Ereignisse an der nördlichen Grenze des Hatti-Reiches in der mittelhethitischen Zeit

Billie Jean Collins, Royal Co-option of a Popular Ritual: The Case of Hantitassu

Paola Cotticelli Kurras, Interaktion zwischen semantischen Verbalklassen und syntaktischen clusters

Lorenzo d’Alfonso, The Kingdom of Tarhuntassa: A Reassessment of its Timeline and Political Significance

Paola Dardano, Das hethitische Partizip – Eine Frage der Diathese?

Romina Della Casa, Symbolic Representations of the Sacred Space/Landscape in the Telepinu Myth

Niccolò Galmarini, The Festivals for Mount Puškurunuwa

José Virgilio García Trabazo, Hethitisch targummāe-: ein etymologischer Vorschlag

Federico Giusfredi, The Cuneiform Luwian Local Particles and the Obscure Particle -(V)r

A. César González García – Juan Antonio Belmonte, Astronomy and Landscape in Late Bronze Age Central Anatolia

Susanne Görke – Giulia Torri, Bau(-)Rituale! Zur Textgeschichte von CTH 413-415 und CTH 725-726

Manfred Hutter, Religious Traditions in Hupisna

Sylvia Hutter-Braunsar, Wettkämpfe in hethitischen Festritualen

Magdalena Kapełuś, Les descriptions du deuxième jour de grand rituel funéraire des rois hittites

Güngör Karauğuz, Hititler Döneminde Kuzeybatı Anadolu’da Bir Kent: Kalašma

Isabelle Klock-Fontanille, From Hattians to Hittites: Some Reflexions about Traces of Matrilinearity in Hittite Tradition

Adam Kryszeń, Methodology and the Problem of Hittite Geography

Martin Joachim Kümmel, The Conditioning for Secondary h in Hittite

Simona Lamante, Das dahanga: seine Struktur und kultische Bedeutung

Zheng Li, Hittite Diplomatic Texts? Remarks on the Nature of Some Hittite Treaty Texts

Jürgen Lorenz, Der hethitische König: Herr der tausend Feste?

Emilia Masson, The Mortuary Monument of Kuttamuwa/Kattamuwa: What Can We Learned?

Michel Mazoyer, Remarques sur l’infinitif hittite

H. Craig Melchert, Hittite išpar- “to spread out” and isparre/a- “to kick"

Patrick Maxime Michel, Hittite Cults in Emar

Jared L. Miller, Mursili II’s Prayer Concerning the Misdeeds and the Outstanding of Tawananna

Alice Mouton, Rituel de “boucs émissaires” en Anatolie hittite

Gerfrid G. W. Müller, Forensik und Fragmente

Raphaël Nicolle, Télipinu et le Soleil dans la mythologie hittite : « la manipulation » du Soleil

Rostislav Oreshko, The Strange Case of Dr. FRATER and Mr. DOMINUS: a Re-Consideration of the Evidence concerning Luvian nani-

Esma Öz, arhālum and unuššum in the Kültepe Tablets

İbrahim Murat Ozulu – Fazlı Engin Tombuş – Coşar Mustafa, Arkeolojik Alanların Araştırılmasında Görünürlük Analizinin Kullanılması. Ortaköy (Şapinuva) Örneği

Julie Patrier, Some Remarks on Food Preservation and Storage in Second Millennium Central Anatolia

Franca Pecchioli Daddi – Giulia Torri – Carlo Corti, The Survey in the Area of Uşaklı Höyük (Yozgat): Epigraphic Findings

Olga Popova, Le /wa/ dans l’écriture hittite : graphie, phonologie, influences extérieures

Esma Reyhan – İ. Murat Ozulu – Fazlı Engin Tombuş, Ortaköy-Şapinuva (Çorum) Arkeolojik Alani ve Yakın Çevresindeki Antik Yollarin Araştırılması

Hasan Ali Şahin, Koloniler Çağı’nda Šalatiwar Şehrinin Ticari Önemi

Abdurrahman Savaş, A Comparative Study of Hittite, Roman, Islamic and Jewish Laws

Diether Schürr, Lykische Orte und ihre Namen: drei Namentypen

Fatma Sevinç Erbaşı, Hitit Döneminde Bir Kült Objesi Olarak Sunak

Andrey Shatskov, The Hittite Imperfectives in anna-/i-

Vladimir Shelestin, The Foreign Policy of Late Old Hittite Kingdom: the Case of Ammuna

Andrey Sideltsev, Two Origin of Hittite Right Dislocation

Zsolt Simon, Der phonetische Wert der luwischen Laryngale

Itamar Singer, The Distinctiveness of the Historical Introductions of Hittite State Treaties

Özlem Sir Gavaz, Hitit Krallari’nin Merasim Gezilerinin Genel Olarak Değerlendirilmesi

Aygül Süel, Tarhunnaradu/Tarhundaradu in the Ortaköy Texts

Mustafa Süel, Şapinuva-Ağılönü Kutsal Alanının Hitit Dünyasındakı Yeri

Piotr Taracha, Tuthaliya I Redivivus

Annette Teffeteller, Argument Structure and Adjunction in Anatolian Syntax

Krzysztof Ulanowski, King’s Divinity: Comparison between Mesopotamian and Hittite Tradition

Sylvie Vanséveren, Hittite kartim(m)iya-: réflexions sur le vocabulaire de la colère en hittite

Willemijn Waal, Changing Fate. Hittite Gulš-/Gul-š-, Dgulšeš/DGUL-šeš, Cuneiform Luwian gulzā(i)- / Gul-zā(i)-, Hieroglyphic Luwian REL-za- and the Kuwanšeš Deities

Kazuhiko Yoshida Hittite hu-it-ti-it-ti

Peter Tompa (Cultural Property Observer)

Where is the Petition Asking Turkey to Control its Borders?

The archaeological lobby's petitions asking the UN to call for a ban in the sale of Syrian antiquities have already received their share of attention in the archaeological blogosphere, but as far as CPO can tell, no scholar has yet proposed any similar petition addressed to the President of the Turkish Republic asking that Turkish authorities crack down on any effort to use the country as a transit point for looted artifacts.  After all, the Turkish Republic is uniquely situated to stem the flow of illicit Syrian antiquities given its long border with the country.  And with a large and well trained army, it can and should be able to control its own borders. 

Wonder why?

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

I’m a Professor

Professors - What I Really Do

I saw the above on the Facebook page S@!t Academics Say, which also shared this example of what a professor really did: put a photo of himself on his door so that students may think they are talking to him when they aren’t!

Professor fake-out

Also of interest, via the same page – this PHD comic about the Netflix effect on productivity:

Netflix effect phd100814s

And finally, here’s an ad for a seminar on procrastination. I’m surprised that there will be no specific training on how to use a blog to procrastinate by sharing meme images and cartoons one has seen on Facebook…

Procrastination Seminar

Pelagios: Enable Linked Ancient Geodata In Open Systems

Greece (is the Time, is the Place, is the Motion)

It turns out The Bee Gees were right. We've wrapped up work (for now) on Greek early geographic documents and the experience has made it clear that time, place and motion do indeed feature heavily.

First a few statistics. Our objective - as always - has been to identify sources for as many documents as we could, both in the original Greek and in modern translation. Wherever possible we have used open access, online materials so that people can access the texts and read them for themselves. This time we have identified some 66 works, of which we were able to obtain digital texts for 42 of them (and 8 in both languages). You can see our list of available texts on the Recogito public site and we’d be very happy to hear any suggestions for working with those texts which are still missing. Pau has been working like Greased Lightning over these long Summer Nights to produce a remarkable 48,000 edits (and counting)!

Pau has not been alone in this work either. We’ll talk more about the new Recogito Editors group in a future blog post, but for now we’d like to say an especially big thank you to Brady Kiesling who donated a large number of pre-annotated texts from his wonderful ToposText project, and even did some translation to boot. Shout-outs also go to Bruce Robertson, Greta Franzini and Monica Berti for their help in OCR’ing Greek geographic texts.

Thanks to Rainer’s hard work, the Recogito interface is really starting to shape up. Not only are new features such as detailed user- and document-stats being added regularly, but there’s now a tutorial for users, and various small enhancements were made to the front page (e.g. temporal ordering of documents, so that you can start to see the development of ancient geography at a glance). There are other major changes afoot for our third Content Workpackage on the early Christian tradition… but you’ll have to wait for another blog post to hear more about that.

Just like last time, we’ve generated a preliminary heatmap of our work on the Greek sources so far. Even incomplete as it is, it’s fascinating to see our authors focus not only on the Aegean Sea, Magna Graecia and the Black Sea, but also their explorations along the Red Sea, the Atlantic and even the Silk Road. 

So what about those sources? The list of documents we’ve been working with includes some of the biggest and most important in the history of geography, including Strabo, Herodotus and the immense Suda. We said that Greece was the place, but in fact what we are really talking about, and what emerges from these early investigations, is just how many places the "Greek world" comprises of and how many places "Greek knowledge" extends to. Time also plays an essential role. From Ptolemy’s "Hour Intervals", which divide up the world like the face of a huge celestial clock, to the Spartan Cleomenes's alarming realisation that it was not a matter of days to travel to the Persian capital but months, time is used to try to make sense of, or express bewilderment at, the vast distances being talked about. And Greek geography is not just static, but frequently in motion, with stadiasmoi, periploi, itineraries and even the occasional International Business TravellerWe hope you enjoy exploring these documents as much as we do. If you’d like to get involved and help us annotate the rest, please do get in touch. We'll go together like....

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Archaeologists Unearth Bronze Belt Of Bulgar Warrior

Archaeologists excavating a fortress near Bulgaria’s north eastern town of Dobrich unearthed...

The Archaeology News Network

Decrypting the enigmatic Phaistos Disk

The decoding of the Phaistos Disk has puzzled specialists for over a century, however new findings describe the disk as “the first Minoan CD-ROM’ featuring a prayer to a mother. Gareth Owens, Erasmus coordinator at the Technological Educational Institute (TEI) of Crete, speaking at the TEI of Western Macedonia on Monday, said the disk is dedicated to a “mother”. Discovered in 1907 in the Minoan palace of Phaistos in Crete, the disk...

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Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Open Access Journal: Rasenna: Journal of the Center for Etruscan Studies

[First posted in AWOL 6 November 2009. Updated 21 October 2014]

Rasenna: Journal of the Center for Etruscan Studies
ISSN: 1940-073X
The electronic journal Rasenna: Journal of the Center for Etruscan Studies is published under the auspices of the Classics Department and the Center for Etruscan Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The journal is an integral part of the Center’s mission to advance and promote research on the Etruscans and their civilization within the academic arena as well as to the general public.

Print publications devoted to research on the Etruscans are rare. Reliable electronic resources of a scholarly nature are virtually non-existent. The journal Rasenna provides free access to cutting-edge, peer-reviewed articles that address topics across a range of interdisciplinary perspectives. The journal also publishes substantive reviews of the latest books in the field and encourages scholarly responses to published articles.

The electronic medium affords publication opportunities that cannot be matched by print journals due to cost and formatting constraints. It permits the publication of full-color images, video segments, and audio clips. Links to other sites can be embedded in the text. The Etruscans left behind a wealth of artifacts and epigraphic documents, images of which can be presented effectively in an electronic format. The electronic medium also permits more timely publication of research and reviews. By publishing electronically the amount of time elapsing between the submission of an article and its appearance in a print can be halved thus permitting more efficient transmission of scholarly ideas. Finally, given the rising cost of print productions and decreases in funding for library resources, an electronic publication ensures that the international community of scholars has free and unlimited access to the latest research in the field.

Dorothy King (PhDiva)

Best Archaeological Finds of the Week


The full mosaic. This has to be the top find. Press release here.

I won't be blogging any more about Amphipolis, or blogging much for a few weeks, as I'm busy writing a book. I will from now on happily discuss the finds being made at Amphipolis with any reputable journalist that gets in touch.

Since the posts I have written are all over the internet anyway, I've put them back up. I have already reported the man from the excavation and the man from the Ministry of Culture who have been leaking about the site. I can see that information is being leaked, and I can guess who might be leaking it, but I have nothing more to do with the excavation so I cannot be held responsible for problems the MC has. So that there are no misunderstandings, I have blocked anyone I know on the dig or whom I think is leaking on email, Facebook, etc.


Whilst there were many statues carved in wood in Antiquity, it is quite rare to find them, so this statuette found during excavations for the Athens metro extension is particularly exciting.

Press release here.


The second half of an inscription known since the 19th century will be presented Thursday. This is one of the rare official inscriptions from Hadrian's Jerusalem found, and I've blogged about the oter half before.

Preliminary press release here.


The press coverage - here - is a little garbled, and I suspect something was lost in translation. The stele was found in the Mausoleum precinct, which is where the vase Xerxes gave Artemisia I was also found. The inscription is a poem for a ruler, an eulogy naturally, written in “catalectic trochaic tetrameter” - this last details is interesting, as the Margites, a largely lost mock epic was also written in this meter. And the Margites was written by a poet named Pigres, who happened to be the brother of Artemisia I of Halicarnassus. The article gives a date for the stele of "was erected at the end of fourth century B.C. or at the beginning of the third century B.C.", and obviously it could well have been erected in honour of one of the many Diadochs in charge of the city, but if this detail is misreporting by the press, which also says the poem is Classical ... we probably have an important early stele linked to the Hecatomnid dynasty, or at least to the earlier dynasty they were trying to associate themselves with, and possibly a lost poem of Pigres?

UPDATE - this article is clearer and makes it clear that it is an ode to Hecatomnus himself!

And this photo (source) makes it clear that the block was used as a step - the 'shadow' of lines where the block above where can still be seen.

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Archaeologists Hit Dirt Wall in Amphipolis Tomb

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Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

New Open Access Journal: Journal of the Jesus Movement in its Jewish Setting: from the first to the seventh century (JJMJS)

Journal of the Jesus Movement in its Jewish Setting: from the first to the seventh century (JJMJS)
ISSN: 2374-7862 (print)
ISSN: 2374-7870 (online

JJMJS is a new interdisciplinary peer-reviewed online journal, published in cooperation with Eisenbrauns.

A rich variety of Jewish and Christian traditions and identities mutually shaped one another in the centuries-long course of Roman Late Antiquity. A no less rich variety of scholarly approaches – from the history of Christian Origins to that of the late empire, from archaeology to Dead Sea Scrolls, from Rabbinics to Patristics – has in recent years converged upon this period, the better to understand its religious and social dynamics. JJMJS seeks to facilitate and to encourage such scholarly investigations across disciplinary boundaries, and to make the results of cutting-edge research available to a worldwide audience.

JJMJS is free of charge with complete open access. The journal is published in cooperation with Eisenbrauns and will be available in hard copy, which can be ordered from Eisenbrauns

JJMJS Issue 1 (2014)

If you want to download an individual article, please choose from the list below:
Download File

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Dorothy King (PhDiva)

The Vindictive Little Bitch At the Ephoria

I can't remember her name mostly because I've been trying to forget her ... but it's something like Tatiana, or I might have mistakenly given her a Russia name because she's so like the Russian girls desperately social climbing.

Anyway, the girl at the Ephoria in Athens in charge of the campaign for getting the Parthenon Sculptures / Elgin Marbles back is probably having the time of her life at the moment with Amal Clooney in Athens. I say girl not woman, as women don't behave the way she does.

Ms Vindictive Bitch is not interested in actually getting the Parthenon Sculptures back, nor in stopping looting - she's far more interested, even obsessed with 'celebrities' and spending time with them.

I met Ms Bitch on a trip to Turkey in 2002, and she has since married a rich shipping magnate, so I had hoped she'd now be happy. Based on the way she behaves, she's clearly angry and bitter. Currently she's based next to the New Acropolis Museum, where she does no work whatsoever.

In February I reported looting on the slope of the Acropolis to the Ephoria. I did so because I have this ridiculous Anglo-Saxon belief that we all have to work together, and if people don't report active looting at a site, we can't be upset if it continues. Ms Bitch took it as personal criticism of her, because obviously the world revolves around her even though she can't actually be bothered to lift one of her manicured little fingers to do anything.

I did try to have a conversation with her where I offered to provide Clooney's agent's email if they reminded me (they did not) and suggested they should get him involved in their campaign.

I suggested that if, as I had long been arguing, the Greeks proposed a reciprocal loan arrangement, it would be very hard for the British Museum to say no. (A Greek friend reminded me today I had presented this at the Wallace Collection in January 2013 and remarked that it was bright of Mrs Clooney to follow the suggestion).

A cousin is married to a Greek lady, and I do know a lot of Greeks. I asked Stelios when he kindly let me watch the Monaco GP from his flat ten years ago if he'd support the restitution campaign and he immediately said he would - but boy did it take them a long time to answer his emails ...

Anyway, I could very easily document a dozen other incompetences for Ms Bitch ... but perhaps it would be easier to outline what she did instead.

She wanted to know what brand my bag was (Prada), what brand my shoes were (Tod's), whether my breasts were real and if my hair was extensions. Then she started Googling me like crazy and asked "where your child comes from" ... explaining that my son died ten years ago wasn't good enough for her, and so instead she's been spreading the most ridiculous rumours about me.

If I'm a celebrity to her, she's probably wetting herself over Amal Clooney.

Anyway, although I can't remember her name I am sure everyone in Athens at the MC knows exactly whom I'm talking about. I was perfectly willing to be discrete about her incompetence, and her pretty ridiculous personal questions that have nothing to do with her job or the Parthenon Sculptures.

But if people want to know who's behind the leaks and

The Archaeology News Network

Bust of Herakles found in ancient Kibyra

Excavations in the ancient city of Kibyra have unearthed a new bust of Herakles from the second century A.D., the front part of which depicts a lion. Excavations at the ancient city of Kibyra [Credit: AA]Work in Kibyra, which is located in the southern Turkish province of Burdur’s Gölhisar district, are being headed by Mehmet Akif Ersoy University Archaeology Department academic Şükrü Özdoğru. One of the excavation team members,...

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BiblePlaces Blog

Inscription to Emperor Hadrian Discovered in Jerusalem

From the Israel Antiquities Authority:

A rare find of tremendous historical significance was discovered in Jerusalem: a fragment of a stone engraved with an official Latin inscription dedicated to the Roman emperor Hadrian. Researchers believe this is among the most important Latin inscriptions ever discovered in Jerusalem.

During the past year the Israel Antiquities Authority conducted salvage excavations in several areas north of Damascus Gate. In one of those areas a stone fragment bearing an official Latin inscription from the Roman period was discovered. According to Dr. Rina Avner and Roie Greenwald, excavation directors on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “We found the inscription incorporated in secondary use around the opening of a deep cistern. In antiquity, as today, it was customary to recycle building materials and the official inscription was evidently removed from its original location and integrated in a floor for the practical purpose of building the cistern. Furthermore, in order to fit it with the capstone, the bottom part of the inscription was sawed round.”

Upon finding the inscription it was immediately clear to the excavators that they had uncovered an especially significant discovery, as indicated by the size and clarity of the letters.

The inscriptions, consisting of six lines of Latin text engraved on hard limestone, was read and translated by Avner Ecker and Hannah Cotton of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The English translation of the inscription is as follows: (1st hand) To the Imperator Caesar Traianus Hadrianus Augustus, son of the deified Traianus Parthicus, grandson of the deified Nerva, high priest, invested with tribunician power for the 14th time, consul for the third time, father of the country (dedicated by) the 10th legion Fretensis (2nd hand) Antoniniana.

According to Ecker and Cotton, “This inscription was dedicated by Legio X Fretensis to the emperor Hadrian in the year 129/130 CE.” Their analysis shows that the fragment of the inscription revealed by the IAA archaeologists is none other than the right half of a complete inscription, the other part of which was discovered nearby in the late nineteenth century and was published by the pre-eminent French archaeologist Charles Clermont-Ganneau. That stone is currently on display in the courtyard of Studium Biblicum Franciscanum Museum.

The full press release is here. The Times of Israel carries the story with more photos (only the last one gives you a sense of the inscription’s size). The Jerusalem Post has a 1-minute video without sound.

Photograph of the inscription against the background of the Rockefeller Museum, seat of the Israel Antiquities Authority. Photographic credit: Yoli Shwartz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

Hadrianic inscription on display in front of the Rockefeller Museum Photograph by Yoli Shwartz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

Mythicism’s Methodological Mess

It is funny that some mythicists think that, in pointing out that there are lots of different scholarly proposals about Jesus, they are making a profound observation, and even providing evidence that something is fundamentally wrong with the methods historians currently use.

Eating BibleOn the one hand, historical details are capable of being interpreted in multiple ways, and unless we were to declare a moratorium on historical investigation of Jesus, then the only way scholarship can continue to be done is by offering new proposals. If there were the amount of interest in another figure from history that there has been and continues to be in Jesus, we would have much the same state of affairs in the historical investigation of that figure.

But on the other hand, mythicism is far from uniform. Some mythicists say that Jesus was a figure derived primarily from scriptural interpretation. Others say that Jesus was a figure derived primarily from religious experiences. At least one says he is an invention of the Romans trying to stabilize their rule over the Jews. Some think the Gospels are astrotheological allegories. And some say that Jesus as depicted in the Gospels is a pastiche of multiple figures.

That last suggestion has found a proponent in Daniel Unterbrink, who has written a number of books, including Judas of Nazareth: How the Greatest Teacher of First-Century Israel Was Replaced by a Literary Creation. In it, he claims that Jesus is a combination of Judas of Galilee and Paul’s celestial Christ.

It is ironic that mythicists treat the fact that scholars are not unanimous as evidence that something is wrong (as though there were genuine unanimity in any field of scholarly inquiry), when it is rare to find two mythicists the precise details of whose viewpoint is the same. To quote Richard Carrier, even though I do not find the first part of his statement persuasive for reasons indicated above, “A field that generates dozens of contradictory conclusions about the same subject is clearly bereft of anything like a reliable method. But the very same flaw befalls the mythicists, whose community is likewise plagued by dozens of completely contradictory theories of the Jesus myth. If such a state is a scandal for historicity (and it should be), it is equally a scandal for mythicism” (Richard Carrier, On The Historicity of Jesus, p.11).

For more on mythicism, see Simon Joseph’s recent post, “Dispelling the Jesus Myth.”

Of related interest, John Dickson has offered to eat his Bible raw if anyone can point to a full professor in a relevant field at an accredited university who thinks Jesus did not exist. Get some popcorn (or salted Bible pages, if you prefer). This ought to be good.


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Rare Roman monument bearing Hadrian’s name found in Jerusalem

A monumental Roman inscription bearing the name of Emperor Hadrian, which surfaced in Jerusalem...

Dorothy King (PhDiva)

Did Sodoma Paint Amphipolis?

I'm going to start by making it very clear the answer is NO.

This is going into Da Vinci Code territory. The problem is that years ago I explained to a TV producer how one could easily argue a conspiracy of that sort, and made up an example using some beheaded Roman skeletons excavated at York, threw in some random facts and showed how it could become a conspiracy where Caracalla was practicing human sacrifice. The next year the BBC aired the documentary. So ... point made?

Here's the deal. The person who first suggested Amphipolis is shown in the background of Sodoma's painting of the Wedding of Alexander and Roxanne is very brilliant, and so a credible source. The idea is not as nutty as it sounds ... but the evidence is also a case of 2 + 2 + 2 etc all adding up to supposition, but then again that is often the case with archaeological evidence.

According to this theory, the background of the painting would show a view of Amphipolis with the Roman bridge over the river and a large mound whose Lion is hidden by the tree.

Yes it sounds mad, but the argument would be that Sodoma was copying an earlier work that was in turn copying a now lost painting by Aetion of the Marriage of Roxanne and Alexander described by Lucian (De Merced. Cond. 42, Herod. or Aetion, 4, &c., Imag. 7). The best description is in Herod. or Aetion, 4, &c:
However, I need not have cited ancient rhetoricians, historians, and chroniclers like these; in quite recent times the painter Aetion is said to have brought his picture, Nuptials of Roxana and Alexander, to exhibit at Olympia; and Proxenides, High Steward of the Games on the occasion, was so delighted with his genius that he gave him his daughter.
It must have been a very wonderful picture, I think I hear some one say, to make the High Steward give his daughter to a stranger. Well, I have seen it — it is now in Italy —, so I can tell you. A fair chamber, with the bridal bed in it; Roxana seated — and a great beauty she is — with downcast eyes, troubled by the presence of Alexander, who is standing. Several smiling Loves; one stands behind Roxana, pulling away the veil on her head to show her to Alexander; another obsequiously draws off her sandal, suggesting bed-time; a third has hold of Alexander’s mantle, and is dragging him with all his might towards Roxana. The King is offering her a garland, and by him as supporter and groom’s-man is Hephaestion, holding a lighted torch and leaning on a very lovely boy; this is Hymenaeus, I conjecture, for there are no letters to show. On the other side of the picture, more Loves playing among Alexander’s armour; two are carrying his spear, as porters do a heavy beam; two more grasp the handles of the shield, tugging it along with another reclining on it, playing king, I suppose; and then another has got into the breast-plate, which lies hollow part upwards; he is in ambush, and will give the royal equipage a good fright when it comes within reach.
All this is not idle fancy, on which the painter has been lavishing needless pains; he is hinting that Alexander has also another love, in War; though he loves Roxana, he does not forget his armour. And, by the way, there was some extra nuptial virtue in the picture itself, outside the realm of fancy; for it did Aetion’s wooing for him. He departed with a wedding of his own as a sort of pendant to that of Alexander; his groom’s-man was the King; and the price of his marriage-piece was a marriage.
The description is pretty detailed, which is unusual for ancient paintings, and we know that it was probably on board rather than a wall since it was portable. Lucian was writing in the 2nd century AD, so the painting predates him, but key question is whether Aetion was a recent painter or one from Alexander's lifetime. The text suggests he was probably working during the Roman period, but that is not a problem if he was depicting Amphipolis.

Sodoma's fresco is on the walls of the Villa Farnesina, which was formerly the Villa (Agostino) Chigi. This Chigi was a great patron of the arts, and employed both Raphael and Sodoma to paint his house, at a time when there was a great re-birth of interest in Classical antiquity (Renaissance).

Although the woman holding a vase on her head may be reminiscent of the Caryatids at Amphipolis, she is in fact based on Raphael, as is the work based on drawings Raphael executed before he died, such as this one:

The Sodoma figure imitates one in Raphael's School of Athens:

This copy of a Raphael drawing is most interesting as it suggests the background might always have been intended:

Here's the problem; Raphael and Sodoma were working long before Pompeii had been uncovered. Whilst the subject of the Wedding of Roxanne and Alexander was popular and often painted on cassone brides took to their new homes ... even the Aldobrandini Wedding was not found until circa 1605, or almost a century later.

One interpretation of this Roman fresco in the 18th century was the Wedding of Roxane but neither this nor other known paintings can be shown to have been the source for Sodoma and Raphael. It is possible that the Roman work of Aetion survived or copies of it did, and that they are now lost.

Records for Rome before 1500 are pretty spotty, although we do have records from the 1600s. For example during the excavation of the site for the Palazzo Barberini in 1626-7 an ancient fresco was found, and soon copied by artists:

This is the landscape which becomes incorporated into the Rubens Feast of Venus in Vienna. The original is now lost.

So the people who've left comments are conflating two 'modern' paintings by Rubens and Sodoma, and two possible ancient paintings and ... honestly, is it possible Amphipolis is in the background of the Sodoma? Yes. Is it likely? No.

Philip II at Amphipolis?

Firstly welcome to new Greek readers, but ...

I have not spoken to any Greek press and there seems to be a little confusion regarding my views.

Yes, I'm the "idiot" who has been saying for most of this year and a good chunk of last year that I thought the only person the tomb could have been built for is Alexander the Great. Obviously it is lovely that people are coming around to the idea and not covering silly nonsense from Palagia and Chubb.

There is no way that Alexander was actually buried in the tomb at Amphipolis ever.

With no mosaic I do not in any way disagree with the archaeologists working at Amphipolis.

The figure on the left is Hermes, 100% for sure.

This figure seems to be Hades, and the work of the archaeologists clearing the area to the right will clarify that.

I was merely adding to their press release, and pointing out that the figure had some unusual features which led me to wonder if the god was represented as a portrait of Phillip II.

The can never be 100% certain, but I believe it is good to explore theories.

The beard is unusual after Phillip II's death, and beard went out of fashion when Alexander chose to not have one. A beard was used on gods though.

We tend to think of Greeks as shown in profile because of coins and vase paintings, but the mosaicist was clearly very talented and could depict Hermes face on. He chose not to do so with the bearded man, and it struck me that Phillip II seemed to obscure his damaged eye. This is just a theory - I am not the all-knowing god, and can be as wrong as every other human.

This is a photograph of the skull from Tomb II at Vergina showing the damage sustained in life to the right eye, and why it is most likely that Phillip II was buried there:

Obviously on coins Phillip II, like most rulers, was shown in profile. Although his right eye was the damaged one, showing the right profile was standard. Here he is shown wearing a wreath, not unlike the one in the mosaic:

Phillip was proud of his Olympic victory, and emphasised this by wearing the crown wreath. Although Hades could wear a wreath, this was more unusual.

Profile plus beard plus wreath could all be coincidences, but ... it was the fashion at the time to give images of gods human portraits and to portray human rulers as living gods. For Alexander and his team to have a little joke at the expense of a hated father is not out of the question.

The archaeologists at Amphipolis are brilliant, and I am sure they would have noticed the similarities to Phillip of the Hades figures - for now the Ministry of Culture is controlling brief press releases, but when they are allowed to release and publish everything they will be able to explain all these sorts of points.

Katerina Peristeri and Michaelis Lefantzis are very very good, and they are doing all the work at the site.

What I blog is merely an explanation of the press releases, elaborating on points.

Persephone at Amphipolis?

Lots of reports are spreading that the Persephone to the right of the mosaic has been uncovered - no big surprise both because she's usually to the right of Hades ... and because everyone at the site except the architect seems to be leaking information.

What will be far more interesting would be to see who's to the left of Hermes? Probably Demeter would be the other side, and the usual Guardians are also possible.


The quick answer to the question is I am ignoring leaks and to be honest have not had the time to look at most press and blog coverage. I am going to stick to discussing what is in the press releases and photos the Ministry of Culture release and explaining them. I think it is fair to discuss ideas based on them, but until they release all the information any ideas are just that ... Ideas.

The tomb may or may not contain a body, and we'll have to wait and see.

Phillip II seems to have been buried at Vergina and Alexander the Great was buried in Egypt so was not there.

Amphipolis is a model excavation, and the archaeologists know what they are doing and are some of the best in the world. Discussing their finds and explaining the press releases is in no way meant to be taken as a criticism of them. Once again, I have not been talking to the press, as I think they are the ones who should be doing so - not people claiming they are wrong.


Amphipolis: Alexander's Horses

I will blog about the mosaics that the Ministry of Culture just issued a press release about later today.

Before Olga Palagia announces that mosaics are Roman, let me make it clear that there is very good evidence of fine mosaics from a town destroyed by Philip II in 348 BC.

I am aware of how much hope and excitement the excavation at Amphipolis has generated during this difficult time in Greece. I am also aware that people are frustrated that they are not being told everything that has been found, and some of this is due to the slow nature of archaeology - for example tests need to be done on the soil, to confirm the date.

Having said that, I have gone out of my way not to mention conclusive evidence from the excavation. Doing so would have been a betrayal of archaeological protocol and of friendship.

But by refusing to share this information with the people of Greece, the Ministry of Culture has broken their bond of friendship with the people of Greece, whom they serve, and whose taxes fund their work.

I think that it is time that the Greek Ministry of Culture told the Greek people about Alexander's Horses and other finds from the excavation. Please do so.


Katy Meyers (Bones Don't Lie)

The Future of Cemeteries

If there is anything that we’ve learned from the past, its that there are a myriad of options for dealing with the deceased. The way the deceased are buried or […]

Bill Caraher (The New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World)

Method, the Discipline, and The History Manifesto

Like many in my field, I read with interest Jo Guldi’s and David Armitage’s The History Manifesto over the weekend. Guldi and Armitage argue that historians should embrace the recent return to interest in long-term, large-scale historical inquiry which holds forth the potential to shed meaningful light on the most pressing issues of our day. Issues like global warming, growing economic inequality, technological change, and the pervasive spirit of crisis in higher education, all depend upon critical engagement with data from the past. At present, economists, environmentalists, scientists, and journalists all have exerted a substantial influence in how we understand the roots of global problems today, but none of these disciplines have the tradition of critical scrutiny at the core of historical analysis. 

Guldi and Armitage argue that over the last 40 or 50 years, historians has gradually backed away from considering questions of the longue durée in the interest of increasingly focused and small-scale studies sometimes associated with micro-history. The reasons for this are bound up in changes in the profession over this stretch of time. The pressure to focus on smaller periods of time and more focused problems appears to stem from the growing influence of “short-termism” which emphasizes the action of individual human agents, the impact of specific events, and absolute command over a small body of historical documents. Professionally, they hint, this short-termism reflects the pressures to publish efficiently to get a job, earn tenure, get grants, and establish a position within the discipline. The influence of these short-term goals and short-term approaches has saturated how we teach historical methods to undergraduates, who we are constantly urging to narrow their topics, to graduate student research seminars with too little time to go beyond a single body of sources or text subjected to close reading.

Google Ngram Viewer

Anyone who took one to Tim Gregory’s seminars in the 1990s or reads even superficially in the discipline of Mediterranean history knows that interest in the longue durée has only gained strength over the last three decades. From article length studies on containerization to massive monographs on historical connectivity and the protohistoric Mediterranean, scholars have continued to explore longterm trends in the history of the Mediterranean. In fact, regional studies of Mediterranean landscape, whether focusing on a single island or a particular valley, tend to engage in diachronic approaches drawing on archaeological and textual evidence in equal measure. It is genuinely heartening to read a work like the History Manifesto that pushed the discipline to absorb more lessons from the study of the premodern Mediterranean world.

At the same time, I left this book with a nagging feeling that the authors dodged a key issue driving historical work toward more focused studies. For the last century, historians have looked toward their methods to define their discipline. Our tendency to encourage students to focus on small bodies of material and limited questions has not been exclusively the product of short-termism or foreshortened professional horizons, but the need to pass on the basic skills of historical work. Critical reading of a text, for example, requires us to focus on single text, if only for the duration of a class or an assignment. Writing a thesis and making arguments grounded in critically engaged evidence remains the hallmark of historical work and practicing these methods requires attention to detail whether at the scope of a region, an epoch, or a single battle. If historical work depends on a particular set of methods which give historians a command of detail, nuance, and causality central to presenting a compelling argument about the past, telling the discipline to shift their focus toward understanding long-term trends in a critical, historical, way is not enough.

Google Ngram Viewer

Of course, Guldi and Armitage recognized this and argued that digital tools from the simple effectiveness of Google Ngrams to more complex designs that allow historians to perform “distant readings” from a well-defined and substantial bodies of evidence will accelerate historian’s ability to understand longer spans of time and more complex issues. At the same time, these forms of “distant reading” ask historians to suspend a certain amount of critical attention to individual texts and push historians to developed greater expertise in computer algorithms, quantitative methods, and arguments made from large datasets. While these things are possible, I can’t help but thinking that they represent substantial changes to the discipline and its methods. More importantly, these changes suggest that Guldi and Armitage see the strength of the discipline less in its current methodological tool kit (with its strengths, weaknesses, and discursive character) and more in the discipline’s authority in speaking about the past. In other words, they are asking historians to shift their disciplinary authority away from a body of methods, techniques, and skills refined over centuries, to new approaches under the same disciplinary and professional banner. While they couch this shift as a return to perspectives more common before the middle of the 20th century or still thriving in odd corners of the discipline like Mediterranean studies, they are asking historians to step into a very different river with fundamentally different disciplinary and critical character.

The interest in microhistory, agency, and close reading of texts arose, in part, to address the weaknesses of big picture thinking and to maintain a view of the humanities that is conscious of the individual. These practices coincided with the core qualities of the historical method: its philological roots, the character of history as craft, and the passionate faith in our working within a human-centered discipline (e.g. Collingwood’s rethinking historical thoughts). As someone how has spent a good bit of his professional career working with diachronic historical datasets, I continue to be skeptical about their ability to unlock something fundamental human condition, and I share Collingwood’s view that this is the discipline’s highest calling. After reading The History Manifesto, I’m wonder how much of our authority as a discipline is grounded in the humanistic and humane methods at the core of our practice and how much we’d lose when we step back from the individual to understand the past. 

Google Ngram Viewer

Check out the book, it’s free!

Jona Lendering (New at LacusCurtius and Livius.Org)

Hadrian in Jerusalem

The inscription (for larger photo, see original article)

The inscription (for larger photo, see original article)

A new episode in our series “the suicide of the humanities”: a dedication to the emperor Hadrian from Jerusalem. Read more about it here. Nice photos.

However, as a comment, “this is an extraordinary find” would have been enough. It’s a nice find indeed, but it adds little to what we already know. Adding that it is “of enormous historical importance” is precisely the kind of boast that we do not need, because people recognize that it is exaggerated.

In the western world, about one third of the population has a higher education. If only scholars and scientists would explain themselves on that level. Explain method. Don’t exaggerate.

Noel Tan (The Southeast Asian Archaeology Newsblog)

The discovery of the Hobbit, 10 years on

The BBC has an article about the discovery of the Hobbit, announced 10 years ago, and recaps what the find means for what we know about human evolution.

The skull of Homo floresiensis. Source: BBC News 20141021

The skull of Homo floresiensis. Source: BBC News 20141021

‘The Hobbit’ turns 10: Find that rewrote human history
BBC News, 21 October 2014

The discovery of a tiny species of human 10 years ago has transformed theories of human evolution.

The claim is made by Prof Richard Roberts who was among those to have published details of the “Hobbit”.

The early human was thought to have lived as recently as 20,000 years ago and so walked the Earth at the same time as our species.

The Hobbit’s discovery confirmed the view that the Earth was once populated by many species of human.

Full story here.

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Bust of Heracles emerges from ancient city

Excavations in the ancient city of Kibyra have unearthed a new bust of Heracles from the second...