Maia Atlantis: Ancient World Blogs

Tom Elliott (

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October 04, 2014

Laboratoire Orient et Méditerranée

La guerre et la Grèce

Sous la présidence de Michel ZINK, Secrétaire perpétuel de l'AIBL, Professeur au Collège de France, Président de la Fondation Théodore Reinach, Jacques JOUANNA et Philippe CONTAMINE, membres de l'AIBL.

Messieurs Jacques Jouanna, Jean-Claude Cheynet, Olivier Picard, membres du laboratoire Orient et Méditerranée interviendront lors de ce colloque

- Télécharger le programme

- Télécharger le bulletin d'inscription

- Pour en savoir plus

August 25, 2014

Laboratoire Orient et Méditerranée

XIVe Congrès de la Fédération Internationale des Associations d'Etudes Classiques

Le laboratoire Orient et Méditerranée sera représenté au XIVe Congrès de la Fédération Internationale des Associations d'Études Classiques au travers des interventions de plusieurs de ses membres.

- Consulter le programme complet des interventions

Après celui de Berlin (2009), ce congrès permettra de réunir les classicisants du monde entier, de faire se rencontrer des chercheurs à différents stades de leur carrière et de dresser un état des recherches actuelles.

Les trois associations françaises membres de la FIEC (l'Association Guillaume Budé, l'Association pour l'Encouragement des Études grecques en France et la Société des Études latines) ont confié l'organisation de cet événement à l'université Bordeaux Montaigne et à l'Institut Ausonius, un centre de recherche très actif et internationalement reconnu dans le domaine des sciences de l'Antiquité.

Pour en savoir plus

July 31, 2014

Ancient Art

Sumerian headdress, made of gold, lapis lazuli, carnelian, and...

Sumerian headdress, made of gold, lapis lazuli, carnelian, and dates to ca. 2600–2500 B.C.

Kings and nobles became increasingly powerful and independent of temple authority during the course of the Early Dynastic period (2900–2350 B.C.), although the success of a king’s reign was considered to depend on support from the gods. A striking measure of royal wealth was the cemetery in the city of Ur, in which sixteen royal tombs were excavated in the 1920s and 1930s by Sir Leonard Woolley. These tombs consisted of a vaulted burial chamber for the king or queen, an adjoining pit in which as many as seventy-four attendants were buried, and a ramp leading into the grave from the ground.

This delicate chaplet of gold leaves separated by lapis lazuli and carnelian beads adorned the forehead of one of the female attendants in the so-called King’s Grave. In addition, the entombed attendants wore necklaces of gold and lapis lazuli, gold hair ribbons, and silver hair rings. Since gold, silver, lapis, and carnelian are not found in Mesopotamia, the presence of these rich adornments in the royal tomb attests to the wealth of the Early Dynastic kings as well as to the existence of a complex system of trade that extended far beyond the Mesopotamian River valley. (met)

Courtesy of & currently located at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, via their online collections33.35.3.

July 30, 2014

Archaeological News on Tumblr

French sites pillaged by wannabe archaeologist

A wannabe archaeologist is on trial in France accused of looting some of the country’s best historical sites after being caught with thousands of ancient artifacts. Experts say France is facing an epidemic of archaeological pillaging.

While taking the stand in his own defense this week a Frenchman accused of looting thousands of valuable historical items from some of the country’s most culturally important sites, explained his crime simply.

“I always wanted to be an archaeologist, but I couldn’t,” the 60-year-old winemaker told a court in the Paris suburb of Meaux on Tuesday, AFP reported. Read more.

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

What Antiquity Collectors are in Denial About: Geopolitical Turmoil has Changed the Game

Tom Flynn ‏@Artnose writes (replying to @ChasingAphrodit @kyrikmk @odonnellhugh):
We can no longer do *real* due diligence on antiquities. Geopolitical turmoil has changed the game.
That I suppose begs the question how much real due diligence one thinks has been going on anyway, think "Leutwitz Apollo", Ka Nefer Nefer...

In any case, has not the geopolitical setting of the antiquities market been changing all the time since the 1956 Delhi document, the 1970 UNESCO Convention, and the US ratification of the latter with its cop-out CCPIA in 1983?  Time perhaps to take another look at them too and bring them up to date.

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Ice age lion figurine: Ancient fragment of ivory belonging to 40,000 year old animal figurine unearthed

Archaeologists from the University of Tübingen have found an ancient fragment of ivory belonging to a 40,000 year old animal figurine. Both pieces were found in the Vogelherd Cave in southwestern Germany, which has yielded a number of remarkable works of art dating to the Ice Age. The mammoth ivory figurine depicting a lion was discovered during excavations in 1931. The new fragment makes up one side of the figurine’s head, and the sculpture may be viewed at the Tübingen University Museum from 30 July.

"The figurine depicts a lion," says Professor Nicholas Conard of Tübingen University’s Institute of Prehistory and Medieval Archaeology, and the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment Tübingen. "It is one of the most famous Ice Age works of art, and until now, we thought it was a relief, unique among these finds dating to the dawn of figurative art. The reconstructed figurine clearly is a three dimensional sculpture." Read more.

Archaeology Magazine

Spain Tests Limited Visits to Altamira Cave


Altamira-Spain-CavesALTAMIRA, SPAIN—The cave at Altamira, where bison and horses were painted and carved into the limestone some 22,000 years ago, was closed to visitors in 2002 due to the grown of algae-like mold on the cave walls. But as part of a new study, five randomly chosen visitors a week have been allowed to enter the cave wearing special protective suits since late last February. The goal of the study is to determine “if there is a form of public visiting that is compatible with the adequate conservation of Altamira,” José Antonio Lasheras, director of the Altamira museum, told The New York Times. The results of the investigation are due in September. Some scientists are concerned that the experiment will endanger the rock art in order to promote tourism. “All the data indicate the fragility of the cave and its propensity to suffer a fungal infection if it is opened to visits,” said Cesáreo Sáiz Jiménez, a research professor at the Spanish National Research Council. 


Dienekes' Anthropology Blog

Wine cup of Pericles found

Wine cup used by Pericles found in grave north of Athens
Experts are "99 per cent" sure that the cup was used by the Athenian statesman, as one of the other names listed, Ariphron, is that of Pericles' elder brother.

"The name Ariphron is extremely rare," Angelos Matthaiou, secretary of the Greek Epigraphic Society, told the newspaper.

"Having it listed above that of Pericles makes us 99 per cent sure that these are the two brothers," he said.
Finding the cup of Pericles is cool, but finding his actual tomb would be even cooler. Thanks to Pausanias and other ancient observers, the location and identity of many of the tombs of ancient prominent Athenians is known.

The Archaeological Review

A Toast to Pericles

This small cup was recently found in a poor mans grave discovered during construction work in northern Athens. The cup has the names of a number of men scrawled into it as a comemoration of what was once a wine symposium.

Most remarkable is the name of the classical Greek statesman Pericles is listed as also is his brother Ariphron among the names, Ariphron being a rare name seems to bring conformation of Pericles presence at this symposium.

Photo: (VIMA)

Archaeology Magazine

Large Slave Quarters Discovered at Maryland Plantation


Slave-Quarters-MarylandCROWNSVILLE, MARYLAND—While looking for Comte de Rochambeau’s 1781 campsite at Belvoir, the plantation home of Francis Scott Key’s grandmother, archaeologists found the brick floor of a large building that may have served as a dormitory-style slave quarters. “The discovery of this is an amazing contribution to understanding African-American life in Anne Arundel County. Up to this point, we did not know they were building slave barracks like this,” county cultural resources planner Jane Cox told The Capital Gazette. The building’s footprint is more than twice the size of most slave quarters. “The foundation of this thing is so massive, we strongly suspect it had two stories,” said county archaeologist All Luckenbach. 


American Philological Association

In Memoriam Stephen G. Daitz

We regret to announce the death in June of long-time member Stephen G. Daitz. 

Open Access Archaeology

Open Access Archaeology Digest #495

Todays list of Open Access (free to read) Archaeology articles:

Unpublished Notices of the Times of Edward I, and of his Relations with the Moghul Sovereigns of Persia

Recent Discoveries on the First Inhabitants of the Mexicali Valley

A Computer Aided Design Technique for Pottery Profiles

Learn more about Open Access and Archaeology at:

ArcheoNet BE

Vrouw en hond samen in de prehistorie

Vrouwen en honden hadden in het neolithische tijdperk van jagers, vissers en verzamelaars nauw contact met elkaar. Dat suggereren de Leidse osteoarcheoloog dr. Andrea Waters-Rist en collega-onderzoekers na bestudering van een klein biologisch fossiel. Het werd gevonden bij het skelet van een vrouw op een 8000 jaar oude begraafplaats in Zuid-Siberië. De onderzoekers hebben hun conclusies gepubliceerd in het vaktijdschrift Journal of Archaeological Science.

Het eivormige fossiel van ruim 2 bij 3 cm werd aangetroffen op begraafplaats Shamanka II, nabij het Baikalmeer. Het onderzoek wees uit dat het een verkalkte cyste is van een lintwormsoort, de Echinococcus granulosus: de vrouw leed aan Echinokokkose, de ziekte van het meedragen van een parasitaire cyste van de E. granulosus die alleen voorkomt bij honden, wolven en vossen. Nog niet eerder werd de ziekte voor deze periode (of eerder) aangetoond. Voor het doorlopen van de levenscyclus heeft de worm twee gastheren nodig: een planteneter of mens als tussengastheer en een hond, wolf of vos als eindgastheer.

De onderzoekers suggereren voorzichtig dat vrouwen en honden nauw contact hadden met elkaar in het neolithisch tijdperk (een periode uit de prehistorie) omdat de – weinige – tot nu toe gevonden lintwormcystes vaker bij vrouwen dan bij mannen zijn aangetroffen; twee andere parasitaire cystes werden gevonden in een jonge vrouwelijke volwassene op een begraafplaats uit dezelfde tijd als Shamanka II, eveneens gelegen in de regio Lokomotiv. Dit terwijl man en vrouw in principe even bevattelijk zijn voor besmetting. Ook in onze tijd wijzen de cijfers erop dat vrouwen vaker drager zijn van een lintwormcyste. Vrouwen moeten dus ook in de neolithische tijd een wat groter risico op besmetting hebben gelopen. Op basis van de kennis die bestaat over de leefomstandigheden in het neolithische tijdperk, denken de onderzoekers dat vrouwen vaker belast waren met de zorg voor (roedels) gedomesticeerde honden. Deze werden gehouden voor de jacht of voor het hoeden van kuddes.

De eindgastheer waarin de lintworm leeft, scheidt eitjes uit met de uitwerpselen. Die eitjes kunnen in het spijsverteringssysteem van de tussengastheer terecht komen. Bij de herbivoren gebeurt dat als ze planten eten die vervuild zijn met uitwerpselen van besmette carnivoren. Mensen kunnen de eitjes ook binnenkrijgen, door vervuilde bosvruchten te eten en door slechte hygiëne. Zo kan een besmette hond de eitjes door zijn likgedrag over zijn hele vacht verspreiden. Een mens die fysiek contact maakt met een dergelijke hond, kan eitjes binnenkrijgen, en zo gaan fungeren als tussengastheer. Dat de besmetting van de mens weer overgaat op eindgastheer hond, wolf of vos is niet zo groot. In de regel zal het gaan via herbivoren, bijvoorbeeld schapen of herten, die worden bejaagd door carnivoren of waarvan de kadavers door de vleeseters worden aangevreten. Zo kunnen ze een cyste binnenkrijgen en lintwormen ontwikkelen. Dat is de wijze waarop de voortplantingscyclus kan voortbestaan.

De gang van de eitjes door het lichaam van de mens gaat als volgt: de eitjes komen via inname door de mond in het spijsverteringskanaal terecht en in inmiddels getransformeerde vorm in de dunne darm. Daar dringen ze door de wanden heen in de bloedbanen. Vandaaruit kunnen ze worden vervoerd naar een orgaan, het vaakst de lever en de longen, maar ook naar hart, beenderen of hersenen. In het orgaan wordt een blaasje gevormd waarin zich kopjes van lintwormen ontwikkelen. Een mens kan hier ernstig ziek van worden en zelfs overlijden. Door het hoge kalkgehalte in het blaasje verkalkt het in het menselijk lichaam in de loop van de tijd tot een fossiel. Over de ziekte Echinokokkose is veel bekend aangezien er vandaag de dag wereldwijd nog 1 miljoen mensen aan lijden.

Lees meer: Multicomponent analyses of a hydatid cyst from an Early Neolithic hunter–fisher–gatherer from Lake Baikal, Siberia (Journal of Archaeological Science)

Archaeology Magazine

Wine Cup Bearing Famous Names Reportedly Unearthed in Greece

ATHENS, GREECE—The AFP reports that a ceramic wine cup engraved with the names of six men was unearthed in a pauper’s grave in the suburb of Kifissia. Among the names are “Pericles,” and “Ariphron.” “The name Ariphron is extremely rare. Having it listed above that of Pericles makes us 99 percent sure that these two are brothers,” said Angelos Matthaiou, secretary of the Greek Epigraphic Society. Could the cup have been used by the Athenian statesman Pericles, who had an older brother named Ariphron? Matthaiou suggests that the cup was used in a wine symposium, and the six men put their names on the cup as a memento given to a man named Drapetis, who may have been a the owner of the tavern or his servant. “They were definitely woozy, as whoever wrote Pericles’ name made a mistake and had to correct it,” he added.

Finland’s Prehistoric Dairy Farmers

BRISTOL, ENGLAND—Scientists from the University of Bristol and the University of Helsinki analyzed residues in ancient cooking pots from “Corded Ware” settlements in Finland and discovered evidence of milk fats dating to 2500 B.C. “This is remarkable evidence which proves that four and a half thousand years ago, Stone Age people must have been foddering and sheltering domesticated animals over harsh winters, in conditions that even nowadays we would find challenging,” Lucy Cramp of Bristol University, told Science Daily. These dairy-consuming farmers, who were probably genetically different from the local hunters and gatherers, have been linked to modern-day Finns.

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Back to the Cave of Altamira in Spain, Still Controversial

ALTAMIRA, Spain — The cave of Altamira in northern Spain contains some of the world’s finest examples of Paleolithic art. For years, visitors came to see the bisons, horses and mysterious signs painted and carved into the limestone as far back as 22,000 years ago. But in 2002 the cave was closed to the public when algae-like mold started to appear on some paintings. The damage was attributed to the presence of visitors and the use of artificial light to help them see the works.

Now Altamira is being partially reopened and in the process reviving the debate over whether such a prehistoric site can withstand the presence of modern-day visitors. Read more.

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

No Creativity, so Fixated Old Men Still Dragging the Coin Trade Through the Mud

Because they really have got no other ideas what they could be doing for collectors, the ACCG Files Reply Brief in Support of its Motion for Reconsideration (Wednesday, July 30, 2014) in the Baltimore illegal coin import stunt case.  Allegedly:
it discusses new Supreme Court case law and old legislative history that should be dispositive in favor of the Guild’s position that the government bears the initial burden of proof on where historical coins subject to forfeiture were “first discovered.”
While I am sure the appeal court will find that very entertaining, what the court has to decide (if anything) is whether those really scrappy bits of over-stripped metal ACCG dealers wanted to import on behalf of collectors are on the Designated List, and was an attempt made to import them  in accordance with current law or not. Nothing else. Surely those resources could have been better spent in finding ways to clean up this market rather than dragging it further down into utter disrepute.

See also:

Sunday, 19 January 2014: 'Wrong-Headedness on the "First Found Principle" of the CCPIA',

Thursday, 23 January 2014: 'The Next US Coin Collectors' Comedy Turn', 

Friday, 24 January 2014: 'The "First Found" Fiasco Continues',

and while you are at it to show this sort of thing has been going on far too long - PACHI Tuesday, 9 November 2010, 'UNESCO 1970 Article 1'.

Ancient Peoples

Limestone model of a town house From EgyptPerhaps Third...

Limestone model of a town house

From Egypt
Perhaps Third Intermediate or Graeco-Roman Period, about 800 BC - AD 200

This model shows us what an ancient Egyptian house might have looked like in the later historical periods. It is always referred to as a ‘town house’, as the vertical storeys suggests that space was confined, in contrast to the spread-out ‘villa’-like structures found in the New Kingdom (about 1550-1070 BC) city of Tell el-Amarna. The house in this model seems to have had two storeys and an accessible roof. The windows are indicated on the first floor by two crossed bars, and on the upper storey with a criss-cross pattern, perhaps representing shutters. The roof would have been used for storage, much like houses in Egypt today.

Source: British Museum

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Archaeological dig finds massive slave quarters in Crownsville

When archaeologists began digging around Rockbridge Academy in May, they expected to find the place where the Comte de Rochambeau camped in September 1781 on the way to Yorktown and the final major battle of the Revolutionary War.

Instead, they stumbled upon something very different.

Slave barracks bigger than ever found before in Anne Arundel County.

“The discovery of this is an amazing contribution to understanding African-American life in Anne Arundel County,” said Jane Cox, county cultural resources planner. “Up to this point, we did not know they were building slave barracks like this.” Read more.

Peter Tompa (Cultural Property Observer)

ACCG Files Reply Brief in Support of its Motion for Reconsideration

The ACCG has filed a reply brief in support for its motion for reconsideration of the Court's order striking its amended answer in the ongoing forfeiture case.   It discusses new Supreme Court case law and old legislative history that should be dispositive in favor of the Guild’s position that the government bears the initial burden of proof on where historical coins subject to forfeiture were “first discovered.”

More information may be accessed here.

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

The Lifespans of the Doctor

Doctor Who lifespans

HT IO9. This measures the lifespans of all the Doctors in one particular measurement: airtime.

I wonder how they would change if we included audiobooks, or if we calculated the purported amount of time they were around…

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Prehistoric dairy farming at the extremes

Finland’s love of milk has been traced back to 2500 BC thanks to high-tech techniques to analyse residues preserved in fragments of ancient pots.

The Finns are the world’s biggest milk drinkers today but experts had previously been unable to establish whether prehistoric dairy farming was possible in the harsh environment that far north, where there is snow for up to four months a year.

Research by the Universities of Bristol and Helsinki, published July 30 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, is the first of its kind to identify that dairying took place at this latitude — 60 degrees north of the equator. Read more.

Wine cup used by Pericles found in grave north of Athens

A cup believed to have been used by Classical Greek statesman Pericles has been found in a pauper’s grave in north Athens, according to local reports Wednesday.

The ceramic wine cup, smashed in 12 pieces, was found during building construction in the northern Athens suburb of Kifissia, Ta Nea daily said.

After piecing it together, archaeologists were astounded to find the name “Pericles” scratched under one of its handles, alongside the names of five other men, in apparent order of seniority.

Experts are “99 percent” sure that the cup was used by the Athenian statesman, as one of the other names listed, Ariphron, is that of Pericles’ elder brother. Read more.

Archaeological Institute of America blogs

Pomerance Fellowship Spotlight: Daniel Fallu

The 2014 recipient of the Archaeological Institute of America’s Harriet and Leon Pomerance Fellowship, Daniel “Dan” Fallu, thought for a long time that he would become a lawyer. Yet that same drive to solve puzzles, along with a strong desire to travel, eventually led Dan to study archaeology. As an undergraduate student at Dickinson College and an MA/Ph.D. candidate at Boston University, Dan has focused on geoarchaeology and the Bronze Age Agean.

read more

Thibaut Castelli (Spartokos a Lu)

La chôra royale du Bosphore

Maslennikov, A. A., éd. (2012) : Царская хора Боспора (по материалам раскопок в Крымском Приазовье). Том 2. / Carskaja khora Bospora (po materialam raskopok v Krymskom Priazov’e). Tom 2. Moscou [La chôra royale du Bosphore (sur la base des fouilles du littoral criméen de la mer d'Azov). Volume 2.]

Ce volume continue la publication des fouilles d’établissements grecs de la fin de l’époque classique et du début de l’époque hellénistique retrouvé sur le littoral criméen de la mer d’Azov. Ils sont considérés par l’équipe de fouilleurs comme faisant partie de la chôra royale des rois bosporans. Dans ce volume, on trouvera les objets préhistoriques en pierre et en silex, la céramique à vernis noir, la céramique peinte, la céramique de cuisine, les statuettes en terre cuite, les graffiti et dipinti, les tuiles timbrées.

On attend la suite

Le sommaire

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Crowing over US SLAM Cock-up

According to Lee Rosenbaum ‏@CultureGrrl
SLAM stuck to its guns and won. Feds concede lack of proof that @STLArtMuseum's mummy was stolen, drop restitution case
Well, you can go off people, can't you. "Feds" did not concede lack of proof it was stolen, they saw they'd made a mess of things. As it happens,  it's probably one of the least harmful of the utter messes the USA has got itself into over the past administration. But still annoying as something that should not have happened. And then to see 'cultural' USAns crowing about it... It's up to USA public opinion now, isn't it? Anyone holding their breath? Don't.

PS they haven't got the "mummy", just its face with the name scratched off -  the significance of which SLAM did not see when they were going through the motions of "researching" (sic) its origins. 

Vignette: Museums filled with dodginess are nothing to crow about.

Ancient Peoples

Tile antefix Roman Britain, 2nd-3rd century ADFrom Holt,...

Tile antefix

Roman Britain, 2nd-3rd century AD
From Holt, Clwyd

This object was one of a row of ornate terminals set along the eaves of a tiled roof. It was made in the tilery of the Roman army’s 20th legion, whose emblem of a wild boar decorates the plaque.

Source: British Museum

The Archaeology News Network

Wine-cup used by Pericles found in ancient grave

A cup believed to have been used by Classical Greek statesman Pericles has been found in a pauper's grave in north Athens, according to local reports Wednesday. The cup was likely used in a wine symposium when Pericles was in his twenties, and the six men  who drank from it scrawled their names as a memento, experts say [Credit: To Vima]The ceramic wine cup, smashed in 12 pieces, was found during building construction in the...

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Open Access Archaeology

theolduvaigorge: Putslaagte 1 (PL1), the Doring River, and the...


Putslaagte 1 (PL1), the Doring River, and the later Middle Stone Age in southern Africa’s Winter Rainfall Zone

  • by Alex Mackay, Alex Sumner, Zenobia Jacobs, Ben Marwick, Kyla Bluff and Matthew Shaw 

"Existing data suggest weak human occupation of southern Africas Winter Rainfall Zone (WRZ) during later Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 3, the causes of which are unknown. Here we report briefly on the results of recent surveys of alluvial terrace sites of the Doring River in the WRZ, which document occupation over a broad expanse of the later Middle Stone Age (MSA) and Pleistocene Later Stone Age. We then report on test excavations at one terrace site, denoted Putslaagte site 1 (PL1), describe in detail the assemblage of flaked stone artefacts produced from that excavation, and present two OSL ages obtained from 0.8 m to 1.5 m below surface. The results suggest that a) artefact accumulations at PL1 are dense, b) the technological systems documented are characteristically MSA but differ in form from the range of systems known from other excavated sites in the region, and c) that the assemblages accumulated in MIS 3. Taken together with the survey data the results introduce new variation into the later MSA in southern Africa, and imply reorganisation of land use in the WRZ in late MIS 3 rather than abandonment. We suggest that a research emphasis on rock shelter deposits may have produced misleading depictions of regional occupation” (read more/open access).

(Open access source: Quaternary International, in press 2014 via George Washington University)

American Philological Association

In Memoriam Paul B. Harvey

We regret to report the death of long-time member Paul B. Harvey of Penn State.  The Centre Daily Times printed this obituary.

The Archaeology News Network

How the Vogelherd lion got his head back

Archaeologists from the University of Tübingen have found an ancient fragment of ivory belonging to a 40,000 year old animal figurine. Both pieces were found in the Vogelherd Cave in southwestern Germany, which has yielded a number of remarkable works of art dating to the Ice Age. The fragment on the left makes up half the head of the animal figure on the right, s howing that the “lion” was fully three-dimensional, and not a relief as...

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American Philological Association

Postdoctoral Fellowships at Princeton University Society of Fellows

The Princeton University Society of Fellows invites applications for three-year postdoctoral fellowships 2015-2018 for recent PhDs (from Jan. 2013) in humanities or allied social sciences.  FOUR appointments to pursue research and teach half-time in the following areas: Open discipline (two fellowships); Humanistic Studies; Race and/or Ethnicity Studies. Stipend: approx. $80,000.  For eligibility, fellowship and application details, see deadline: October 1, 2014

Jim Davila (

Translation of the Suda completed

AN ARMY OF TRANSLATORS: Suda On Line: Byzantine Lexicography. From the Overview page:
Certain fundamental sources for the study of the ancient world are currently accessible only to a few specially trained researchers because they have never been provided with a sufficiently convenient interpretive apparatus or, in some cases, even translated into modern languages. The Suda On Line project attacks that inaccessibility by engaging the efforts of scholars world-wide in the translation and annotation of a substantial text that is being made available exclusively through the internet. We have chosen to begin with the Byzantine encyclopedia known as the Suda, a 10th century CE compilation of material on ancient literature, history, and biography. A massive work of about 30,000 entries, and written in sometimes dense Byzantine Greek prose, the Suda is an invaluable source for many details that would otherwise be unknown to us about Greek and Roman antiquity, as well as an important text for the study of Byzantine intellectual history.
The project has recently been completed, in the sense that all the entries have been translated, but the work will continue to be revised and developed. From the The History of the Suda On Line page:
At present (July 2014), the family of active and emerita/us SOL contributors comprises over 200 individuals from five continents and more than 20 countries, but geography is not the only aspect that makes this group diverse and eclectic. In addition to research-active university faculty, our roster has included retired professors, scholars in countries where the internet provides an invaluable supplement to meager local resources, and talented classicists who for one reason or another have ended up in careers other than higher education. One of the great benefits of SOL is the opportunity the project gives to such scholars to make a valuable contribution to the field. SOL has also been used to good effect in the classroom. Instructors at several colleges and universities have assigned entries to graduate and advanced undergraduate students for supervised translating and annotating, and hundreds of their contributions are now a permanent part of the database and can be listed as published scholarly works on the students’ CV's. One of our most prolific contributors, Jennifer Benedict (over 4500 translations), did most of her work on the SOL as an undergraduate at William & Mary. Several scholars, including Peter Green, Malcolm Heath and John Melville-Jones, donated translations of entries that they had done previously for other purposes.

A translation of the last of the Suda’s 31000+ entries was submitted to the database on July 21, 2014 and vetted the next day. This milestone is very gratifying, but the work of the project is far from over. As mentioned above, one of the founding principles of the project is that the process of improving and annotating our translations will go on indefinitely. Much important work remains to be done. We are also constantly thinking of ways to improve SOL's infrastructure and to add new tools and features. If you are interested in helping us with the continuing betterment of SOL, please read about how you can register as an editor and/or contact the managing editors.
This is a Byzantine-era work, but many of the entries are potentially of interest to ancient Judaism and its reception. For example, see the many results when you run the search term "Hebrew" through the translation search engine.

(Via AWOL.)

The Stoa Consortium

Job: XML db developer for EpiDoc project

Exciting job opportunity for someone with experience in XML databases and EpiDoc projects (part-time, fixed-term, at Oxford but remote working an option):

Part-time XML Research Database Developer
Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies, 66 St Giles, Oxford
Grade 7: £29,837 – £36,661 p.a. (pro rata)

The Faculty of Classics seeks to appoint a part-time XML Research Database Developer. This is fixed-term for 12 months. We are looking for a highly motivated individual with a strong interest in Digital Humanities and classical text-editing to build an XML Database backed website for publication, analysis, and editing of EpiDoc TEI P5 XML documents for the I.Sicily project (0.4 FTE) and for the Ptolemaic Egypt project (0.1 FTE).
*We are happy to consider applications from those who would wish to work remotely.*

The postholder will design and implement a native XML Database application for the online publication, analysis, and editing of EpiDoc XML based on open source components; create a testing mechanism for the technical infrastructure for resilient deployment (and redeployment from backup) of the website; develop and maintain the project’s technical infrastructure including XML Database installation and basic Linux server systems administration; and work closely with the IT Consultant and project PI in strategically designing and developing the infrastructure to ensure both reliable behaviour and potential for future expansion of the project.

The successful candidate will have relevant experience of higher education research (preferably in Classics); demonstrable experience of native XML database development; significant experience with multiple web development languages (e.g. XSLT, XQuery, PHP, JavaScript, jQuery, Python, etc.); and experience in maintaining software deployed on Linux servers.

Applications for this vacancy are to be made online. You will be required to upload a CV and supporting statement as part of your online application and supply details of two referees who must be asked to send their references directly to the email address below by the closing date.

Only applications received before 12.00 noon on 18 August 2014 can be considered.
Contact Person: Mrs Brooke Martin-Garbutt
Vacancy ID: 114327
Contact Phone: 01865 288372
Closing Date: 18-Aug-2014
Contact Email:

Only applications received before 12.00 noon on 18 August 2014 can be considered.

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

Psalm Evolution


American Mensa via Bob Cargill on Facebook.

The Archaeology News Network

2,000 year old burials discovered in South Kazakhstan

Kazakhstani archaeologists have discovered artefacts of historical significance during excavation of the ancient settlement of Kultobe in South Kazakhstan, reports. Burials in one of the mounds  [Credit: ©]The three mounds in Ordabasy district in South Kazakhstan Oblast contained remains of 12 people, including that of a child. They were all buried at different times. A characteristic feature of the...

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Bill Caraher (The New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World)

Archaeology and Craft in the 21st Century

It feels very odd to say that a conversation on Twitter spurred me to think a bit more about archaeology as craft. Yesterday a group of archaeologists, mainly in the U.K., and seemingly spurred by Colleen Morgan who began a discussion on the decline of the craft of excavation spurred in part by a rereading of C. Tilley’s well-known article on archaeology as theater. Tilley speaks out against the growing (in 1989) fixation with gathering information in archaeology that privileges excavation (particularly salvage excavations) and manifests itself in the dreadfully scientific site report. The published reports in excavation tend to reduce the complexity of excavations and conform to what Tilley sees as a kind of “strident professionalism” that limits access to meaningful readings of the past. Nowhere is this more evident, at least for Tilley, than in the practice of excavation focused solely on a research question articulated by an archaeologist. Instead, Tilley suggests that archaeologists should entertain the possibility of less scientific excavation to open the process to the voices and hands of the community as a way to generate a truly multi-vocal articulation of the past. Here’s a link to Sarah May’s take on the article.

Tilley’s argument is short, dense, and not entirely convincing, at least in the 21st century. He does, however, identify some of the key problems with scientific excavation characteristic of disciplinary archaeology. The disciplinary tendency to expect (or at least to present) linear progress from data collection to final publication embeds professional archaeological knowledge within a tradition of industrial production that is one with the basic structure of the modern American university. This is the point of departure for many of my observations on archaeology as craft.

At the same time that I was eavesdropping on this Twitter conversation and reacquainting myself with Tilley’s article, I was also reading a pre-publication draft of an article by Sara Perry. I won’t spoil the fun before its 2014 publication, but the title is “Crafting Knowledge with (Digital) Visual Media in Archaeology.” Set aside Collen Morgan’s work, it has reminded me that there are compelling efforts to bridge the gap between digital tools and craft practice. (My efforts were NOT compelling in any way.)

Anyway, these conversations have spurred me to make three observation.

1. Slow. As with everything on this blog, I can’t help but make this conversation about my own work (although Shawn Graham who brought me into the Twitter conversation indulged me as well). My interest in Slow Archaeology has less to do with the pace of archaeological work (either excavation or survey) and more to do with creating an alternative to the kind of method-driven, industrial practices that have emerged as a component of disciplinary archaeology. If methodology promotes a transparent and – as much as possible – linear relationship between field procedures, analysis, and interpretation, then Slow Archaeology advocation complicating this process. Tilley offers one way to complicate the mechanical (if not mechanistic), method driven disciplinary archaeology by making room for practitioners to think about archaeological work outside of atomistic data recovery guided by hypothesis testing. 

Survey archaeology is particularly suitable to this kind of practice because it is largely non-destructive. Walking across a landscape without a notebook or a camera might seem like an effete indulgence of 21st century Western intellectuals or even a lingering expression of colonial dominance (and these critiques are consistent with views of the Slow movement more generally). On the other hand, this practice would promote – even just for a time – a less-structured engagement with the archaeological landscape.

2. Embodied Knowledge. Sara Perry’s article reminded me to read Pamela Smith’s The Body of the Artisan (Chicago 2004). It has been on my “to read” list for about three years, but I think that I need to move toward a more sophisticated understanding of the role the body plays in knowledge production. I was particularly interested this summer in the posture of our team leaders and field walkers. Team leaders consistently presented hunched shoulders over a form on the clipboard and field walkers carry an inclined head toward the ground scanning a narrow swath of the surface to either side of the path.


To me, this posture makes clear the shift away from viewing the landscape as a unified space and toward a view of the archaeological universe that privileges distinct bits of data, recorded diligently, and the projected on computer generated maps for analysis. Over the course of our field season on the Western Argolid Regional Project, I encouraged team leaders and students to tilt their heads up from time to time to take in the larger landscape, but the pressures of covering as much ground as possible and documenting the presence of individual sherds on the surface of the ground.

We can contrast that with, for example, the posture that archaeologists have when illustrating a feature. In the photo below, we can see how our two archaeologists are literally part of the object they are illustrating (an Ottoman bridge). Their posture and position (although not necessary when they’re smiling for the camera!) reflects a different engagement with the archaeological object.



3. Craft and Archaeology in the 21st Century. All of this thinking about craft and archaeology (and a small, but compelling body of recent scholarship) has me thinking that I should run another series of guest blog posts on the topic. That our conversations have begun in Twitter is perfect for this kind of digitally mediated conversation. My growing experience moving text from the blog to more traditional paginated medium (see two soon to appear books based on the Punk Archaeology blog (and conference) and the series of posts on 3D Modeling Mediterranean Archaeology) is itself a manifestation of craft practice and becoming familiar with the tools and technologies required to move documents through the process of publication. 

So, here’s a draft proposal:

Archaeologists have become increasingly interested in the intersection between the growing number of new digital tools, methodologies, and field procedures, and the longstanding traditions of archaeological expertise and practice. This interest reflects both optimism for a more highly visible, transparent, and democratic archaeology, but also a concern for the skills and knowledge that will be lost as archaeology fully embraces its place as a (post)industrial discipline. This conversation is not distinct to archaeology, of course, with scholars across the humanities and social sciences reflecting on the potential of “craft” as a meaningful and familiar way to articulate what we may be losing.

Who would be interested in contributing to this kind of forum? I volunteer my blog to host it and The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota to push out a quick publication. 

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

Jesus and the Aliens

Hemant Mehta shared the image below, offering it as a response to Ken Ham’s silly remarks that we should not be looking for aliens, since they are doomed to hell because God became man and not Klingon:


IO9 also had a piece dealing with the range of Christian responses to the possibility of extraterrestrial life.

It is interesting to consider the narrowness of Ham’s viewpoint in historical perspective, and in view of the fact that aliens are mentioned in the Bible – aliens of a sort that have been in the news a lot lately.

The New Revised Standard Version has 134 instances of the word “alien.”  Many of them say things similar to Exodus 22:21, which reads, “You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”

These passages are not addressed to residents of Roswell. They are focused on how one treats people who are of other national, social, ethnic, and religious groups.

And while I would argue that such passages are not irrelevant to the kind of nonsense Ken Ham spouts, they are even more directly relevant to what is going on at the borders of the United States, and in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Many of us were disheartened by the expressions of hatred which made the news recently, aimed at children seeking to escape extreme danger and hardship in search of a better life. And all of us – whatever our viewpoint – are surely disheartened by the conflicts in the Middle East.

In each instance, we find the commandments in the Bible about aliens being flouted by people who would claim that they are of divine origin. Muslims claim that Jewish and Christian scripture is inspired, and not only the Qur’an. And yet militants who claim to be Muslims ignore the teachings of both the Bible and the Qur’an when they attack Christians and other people of the book living in their midst. Israelis who can find no way to give citizenship and freedom of movement to people in land that they have occupied are likewise ignoring the Bible’s commands. So too are people who consider themselves Christians and treat aliens among them with contempt.

The Bible is not a panacea for problems like war and immigration. But it is certainly worth highlighting when people who claim to adhere to a particular text’s values are behaving as though they did not.

Leviticus 19:34 says, “The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

How might the situation in Israel change if that were taken seriously? How might Americans along the border with Mexico behave differently if that were taken seriously?

I suspect that if more Jews, Christians, and Muslims took what the Bible and other authoritative sources in their tradition say about this subject, it would at least help lessen the intransigence we are currently seeing.

And if that happened, then presumably if even non-human aliens showed up in our midst, we might be able to welcome them better than Ken Ham is currently recommending.

Paul Dilley (Hieroi Logoi)

The Roman Cult of Mithras by Roger Pearse


This site, part of Roger Pearse’s, serves as both an introduction to the history and iconography of Mithraism suitable for undergraduate instruction and an extensive collection of primary sources useful for original research. In particular, all references to the cult in classical literature have been assembled, when possible in English translation. Even more impressively, the “Catalogue of Monuments and Images,” based on Maarten Vermaseran’s 2 volume work Corpus Inscriptionum et Monumentorum Religionis Mithraicae (The Hague, 1956), provides images when available of the diverse material sources for Mithraism, from paintings to architectural plans (some of the photographs are by Pearse). This is supplemented by a list of recent discoveries and sometimes their associated images, including the London Mithraeum uncovered in 2013. Although there is no search functionality, when one knows what to look for, or just feels like browsing, this is an exceptionally useful and convenient site. There is also a fascinating section on Mithras items (in some cases their identity is uncertain) for sale on eBay and elsewhere.

The Archaeology News Network

Mycenaean vaulted tomb unearthed in central Greece

A Mycenaean vaulted tomb has been discovered near Amfissa in central Greece during the course of an irrigation project. Found in Amifissa, the vaulted tomb is the first of its kind discovered in Phocis and one  of the few in Central Greece [Credit: To Vima]The tomb presents all the features typical of this type of structure: a long dromos 9 metres in length with stone-built sides,  a deep prothalamos or vestibule and a...

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Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Opinions des anciens philosophes - Opinions of ancient philosophers

Opinions des anciens philosophes - Opinions of ancient philosophers
Cette collection de témoignages vise à rassembler au sein d’une base de données informatique le texte des sources relatives aux philosophes dits présocratiques ou préplatoniciens.

Dans un premier temps, la collecte des témoignages ne sera cependant systématique que pour les philosophes Milésiens (Thalès, Anaximandre, Anaximène) et Eléates (Xénophane, Parménide, Zénon, Mélissos). Cette limitation pratique tient au caractère de « prototype » de cette base de données, qui reste en voie d’élaboration tant pour ce qui concerne les entrées de textes que les formes de leur indexation. Nous la publions seulement à titre de proposition, soumise à la critique.

Une autre partie de ce projet consistant à réunir les principaux textes anciens relevant de la doxographie systématique (qu’il s’agisse d’œuvres complètes, ou d’extraits), des philosophes n’appartenant pas à la période dite présocratique trouvent également droit de cité dans cette base, bien qu’il ne soit aucunement question pour le moment de chercher à réunir exhaustivement les sources les concernant...

This collection of testimonies aims at collecting in a database the text of the sources related to the so-called presocratic philosophers.

This collection of testimonies has been at first limited to Milesian (Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes) and Eleatic philosophers (Xenophanes, Parmenides, Zeno, Melissus). This limitation was only a practical one. This web site, and the database attached to it, is only to be considered as a prototype of what an exhaustive collection of testimonies related to presocratic philosophers should look like. The work has not to be considered as a finished one : indexations, at many levels, have not been completed, texts are still lacking, etc.

Any remark or critical comment will be appreciated...




A propos

The Archaeology News Network

Bulgaria's Perperikon excavations funding trimmed

The archaeological excavations of the Thracian city of Perperikon, located in Bulgaria's Eastern Rhodopes will start on August 4, professor Nikolay Ovcharov announced. The ancient city of Perperikon [Credit: BGNES]Ovcharov, who heads the research team, stated that this year the State has allocated BGN 80 thousand for the excavations at Perperikon, while the needed funding amounts to BGN 200 thousand. The research campaign will begin...

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Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Open Access Journal: Aestimatio: Critical Reviews in the History of Science

[First posted in AWOL 15 October 2009. Most recently updated 30 July 2014]

Aestimatio: Critical Reviews in the History of Science
Aestimatio provides critical, timely assessments of books published in the history of what was called science from antiquity up to the early modern period in cultures ranging from Spain to India, and from Africa to northern Europe. The aim is to allow reviewers the opportunity to engage critically both the results of research in the history of science and how these results are obtained.

Radio-Past: Radiography of the past

Radio-Past: Radiography of the past
The RADIO-PAST Project

The project, which was launched April 1st 2009, will last 48 months and aims at developing so-called “open laboratories for research and experimentation”, where all expertises convey, analysis, and technical activities are performed, experimental techniques and new data processing tested, and formation activities are held. The place chosen for the principal “open laboratory” is the archaeological site of Ammaia in Portugal. Here, the Coordinator Institution (University of Evora) pilots an archaeo-topographical project named “Cidade de Ammaia”, centred around a deserted Roman town. This research is linked to several reference projects, mainly on Roman urban sites in Italy, where several of the partners are active since many years.

The website

This website wants to take Radio-Past online, by offering up-to-date and elaborated information on the aims of the project, the research techniques applied, the partners involved, and the results gained. Using the navigation area above, it is possible to address these specific project topics. Please, feel also free to comment on this Radio-Past project, as your input can be of great value to all the researchers currently involved. As frequently as possible, this site will be updated with more texts, and downloadable maps and pictures.

The Archaeology News Network

Isolated indigenous communities of South America under threat

Indigenous people in the most remote regions of South America are under threat from development, a regional human rights body warned Tuesday, urging that inhabitants these areas be left alone. An indigenous woman of the Yave Sanga ethnics cooks on April 2, 2008 in Boqueron,  Chaco, 500 kilometres north from Asuncion, Paraguay [Credit: AFP/In an 80-page report, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights said these far-flung...

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Thibaut Castelli (Spartokos a Lu)

Mégare et les établissements mégariens de Sicile, de la Propontide et du Pont-Euxin

Robu, A. (2014) : Mégare et les établissements mégariens de Sicile, de la Propontide et du Pont-Euxin, Berne.

Cet ouvrage issus d’une thèse s’intéresse à la colonisation mégarienne, en cherchant à établir ses causes, mais aussi son histoire, à travers l’étude des fondations des colonies mégariennes en Sicile, en Propontide (Byzance, Chalcédoine, Astacos, Sélymbria) et en mer Noire ( Mésambria, Héraclée du Pont). L’auteur étudie les récits de fondation, mais aussi les relations avec les populations locales telles qu’elles  peuvent apparaître à travers différentes sources. Même si ces fondations n’ont pas été le fait uniquement des Mégariens, elles reprennent dans leur ensemble les institutions de la cité de Mégare, leur métropole.

La présentation et le sommaire sur le site de l’éditeur.


Noel Tan (The Southeast Asian Archaeology Newsblog)

Conference: The Future of Preservation

An upcoming conference in Singapore of possible interest to readers.

National Museum of Singapore

The Future of Preservation
10 – 11 September 2014, 9 am – 6 pm
Organised by: Preservation of Sites and Monuments of the National Heritage Board
Venue: National Museum of Singapore
Registration Fee: $20

“The Future of Preservation” is a 2-day conference organised by the Preservation of Sites and Monuments division of the National Heritage Board, involving international speakers and an ASEAN panel.
Distinguished professionals and practitioners with expertise in the field of preservation will share different key approaches and principles that govern best practice, issues of authenticity and integrity, sustainability, and use of technology. The importance of intangible heritage, the place of memory and the role of partners and stakeholders will also be discussed.

Key Speakers:
Dr Stefano de Caro (Director-General, ICCROM)
Dr Birgitta Ringbeck (Advisor to the Minister, Multilateral Culture and Media Policy / World Heritage, Germany)
Dato Zuraina Majid (Commissioner for Heritage, Malaysia)
Dr Eric Zerrudo (Director of the UST Center for Conservation of Cultural Property and the Environment in the Tropics and Director-Consultant of the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, Philippines)
Mr Didier Repellin (Chief Architect for Historic Monuments, France)
Dr Marina Sokhan (Head of Conservation, City and Guilds of London Art School)
Ms Jennifer Dinsmore (Halahan Associates Conservation Consultant, City and Guilds of London Art School)
Mr Mok Wei Wei (Managing Director, W Architects Pte Ltd)
Mr Jean-Francois Milou (Principal Architect and Lead Partner, StudioMilou Architecture)
Mr Garth Sheldon (Managing Director, Architectural Restoration Consultants Pte Ltd)

photo by:

Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

Colour and Space in Cultural Heritage, quarto Workshop COSCH

cosch-logoDal 15 al 17 settembre 2014 presso l’Istituto di Matematica dell’Accademia Serba delle Scienze e delle Arti e delle Facoltà di Scienze Matematiche a Belgrado si terrà il 4th Working Group Meeting and Workshop della COST Action TD1201 “Colour & Space in Cultural Heritage (COSCH)”.

Colleen Morgan (Middle Savagery)

Faces of Archaeology Published in Archaeologies



The Faces of Archaeology portrait project that Jesse Stephen and I did at WAC-7 has been published by Archaeologies! It was a fantastic chance to collaborate with a gifted photographer and I’m very pleased with the project, the exhibitions at TAG Chicago and Turkey TAG and the final publication.

From our conclusions:

Ultimately, the Faces of Archaeology project reveals the complexity of representation in archaeology and world heritage practice. While making individual participation in WAC-7 visible through capturing and disseminating portraits of attendees, the authors contended with gender, economic, ethnic, social, political, and ethical considerations that were made explicit through this process of visualization. The authors included their own portraits in the assemblage, with the intention of both de-centering photographic practice and increasing reflexivity by showing authorship and participation (Morgan and Eve 2012). Finally, it is our hope that we can repeat this project at conferences in the future, and the collective face of archaeology and heritage will become even more diverse, complex, and beautiful.

The “online first” version can be downloaded by people who have paid access here:

There is also a pre-print available here:
Faces of Archaeology at


The Archaeology News Network

Decades-old amber collection offers new views of a lost world

Scientists are searching through a massive collection of 20-million-year-old amber found in the Dominican Republic more than 50 years ago, and the effort is yielding fresh insights into ancient tropical insects and the world they inhabited. Sir David Attenborough narrates and appears in a video about the digital curation of a  20-million-year-old amber collection at the Illinois Natural History Survey at Illinois [Credit: Kaitlin...

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Végh Zsuzsanna and Simon Zsolt (Agyagtábla, papirusz)

Journal for Semitics 23/1 (2014)

A tartalomból:

Adamo, D T: The African wife of Solomon (1 Kings 3:1; 9:16; 7:8; 11:1)

Andrason, A, & Vita, J-P: The present-future in Amorite

Greeff, C: Dentists and dentistry in ancient Egypt

Evans, A: LmwH: Is it amber or metal?

Greeff, C: Dental diseases and other insults to teeth in ancient Egypt

Van Wyk, S J: Contractual maintenance support of a priestess-sister in three Old Babylonian Sippar division agreements


Word-formation in the Oxford Latin Dictionary

The OLD often leaves the impression that Latin words were formed by taking one free-standing word and adding a suffix or another free-standing word.

Examples include:
naufragō ... [as next + -O^3]
naufragus^1 ... [= NAVIFRAGUS]
naufragus^2 ... [prec.]
nāuiculārius ... [NAUICLA + -ARIUS]

nāuifragus 'shipwrecking' is an exception: [NAVIS + frag- (FRANGO) + -VS]. Here, at least (other instances have yet to be found), we are told that it is the root frag-, as seen in frango, that is involved.

An accusative in apposition to the whole idea of a sentence

C. Collard on E.Supp.362 refers to the following:
Schwyzer II 617;
Wilamowitz on E.Hrc.59;
Barrett on E.Hipp.753-7 (pp. 307-308;
Kannicht on E.Hel. 35-6 (w. And.103 ff. and Hel.77).

Some scraps from grammarians

Etymologicum Magnum (Kallierges page 259):
Δεύνυσος: Ὁ Διόνυσος. Ἀνακρέων,   
  Πολλὰ δ’ ἐρίβρομον  
Τοῦ ι τραπέντος εἰς ε, γίνεται Δεόνυσος· (οὕτω γὰρ Σάμιοι προφέρουσι·) καὶ συναιρέσει Δεύνυσος, ὡς Θεόδοτος, Θεύδοτος. Ἔνιοι δέ φασιν, ὅτι ἐπειδὴ ἐβασίλευσε Νύσης· κατὰ δὲ τὴν Ἰνδῶν φωνὴν δεῦνος ὁ βασιλεὺς λέγεται.

Apollonius Dyscolus, de Syntaxi §§ 137-138 (Schneider 205, Uhlig 2.2.387):
Ὀφειλόμενόν ἐστι καὶ τῇ συντάξει τῶν ἐπιζευκτικῶν ἐπιστῆσαι, τί δή ποτε τὰ τέλη παρῃτήσαντο τῶν παρῳχημένων φωνῶν· οὐ γὰρ ἐφικτὴ ἡ σύνταξις τοῦ ἐὰν ἔλεγον, ἐὰν πέποιθα καὶ τῶν παραπλησίων, καίτοι τῶν παραθέσεων, ὡς ἔφαμεν, οὐ μεταποιουσῶν τὰ τέλη
τῶν οἷς παράκεινται. 
—138. Φαίνεται δ’ ὅτι τῆς τοιαύτης ἀκαταλληλίας ἐστὶν αἴτιον τὸ μάχεσθαι τοὺς παρῳχημένους χρόνους τῇ ἐκ τῶν συνδέσμων δυνάμει. δισταγμὸν γὰρ τῶν ὡς ἐσομένων πραγμάτων παριστῶσιν, καὶ ἔτι τῶν ὡς τελεσθησομένων, οὓς καὶ ἀποτελεστικοὺς συνέβη καλεῖσθαι· πόθεν οὖν τὸ γεγονὸς τῷ [μὴ] ἐσομένῳ συνοισθήσεται; 

And in case you have ever wondered how a παίς differs from a παιδάριον,... 
De adfinium vocabulorum differentia (= Περὶ ὁμοίων καὶ διαφόρων λέξεων) (fort. epitome operis sub auctore Herennio Philone) 117:

γέρων καὶ πρεσβύτης καὶ προβεβηκὼς διαφέρει,
Ἀλεξίων (fr. 1 Berndt) δηλοῖ ἐν τῇ ἐπιτομῇ τῶν Διδύμου (p. 378 Schmidt) Συμμίκτων λέγων οὕτως· ‘ἐκ τῶν †ἀρίστωνος† Περὶ ἀνθρώπου γενέσεως καὶ αὐξήσεως ἄχρι γήρως. βρέφος μὲν γάρ ἐστι τὸ γεννηθὲν εὐθέως, παιδίον δὲ τὸ τρεφόμενον ὑπὸ τῆς τιθηνοῦ, παιδάριον δὲ τὸ ἤδη περιπατοῦν καὶ τῆς λέξεως ἀντεχόμενον, παιδίσκος δὲ ὁ ἐν τῇ ἐχομένῃ ἡλικίᾳ, παῖς δ’ ὁ διὰ τῶν ἐγκυκλίων μαθημάτων δυνάμενος ἰέναι. τὴν δ’ ἐχομένην ταύτης ἡλικίαν οἱ μὲν πάλληκα, οἱ δὲ βούπαιδα, οἱ δ’ ἀντίπαιδα, οἱ δὲ μελλ{ο}έφηβον καλοῦσιν. ὁ δὲ μετὰ ταῦτα ἔφηβος· ἐν δὲ Κυρήνῃ τοὺς ἐφήβους τριακατ{α}ίους καλοῦσιν, ἐν δὲ Κρήτῃ ἀποδρόμους διὰ τὸ μηδέπω τῶν κοινῶν δρόμων μετέχειν. ὁ δὲ μετὰ ταῦτα μειράκιον, εἶτα μεῖραξ, εἶτα νεανίσκος, εἶτα νεανίας, εἶτα ἀνὴρ μέσος, εἶτα προβεβηκώςὃν καὶ ὠμογέροντα καλοῦσιν, εἶτα γέρων, εἶτα πρεσβύτης, εἶτα ἐσχατόγηρως.’

Archaeology and Arts: Αρχαιολογία Online

Drawings and journals from the discovery of Tutankhamun on show for the first time

Documents from Oxford University's Griffith Institute which shed light on the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb have gone on display to the public, many for the first time in their history.

The post Drawings and journals from the discovery of Tutankhamun on show for the first time appeared first on Αρχαιολογία Online.

Dinosaurs fell victim to perfect storm of events

Dinosaurs might have survived if the asteroid that killed them had struck slightly earlier or later, scientists say.

The post Dinosaurs fell victim to perfect storm of events appeared first on Αρχαιολογία Online.

DNA find reveals new insights into the history of cattle in Europe

The DNA of a cattle bone shows genetic traces of the European aurochs and thus adds a further facet to the history of cattle domestication.

The post DNA find reveals new insights into the history of cattle in Europe appeared first on Αρχαιολογία Online.

Antiquity Now

Bon Appetit Wednesday! Bottle the Taste of Summer with Dandelion Wine

It’s the height of summer in the northern hemisphere where the lazy sun brings us long, hot days of outdoor activities, friends and family, vacations and lots of relaxation. Today it’s just a weed, but once upon a time nothing … Continue reading

Archaeology and Arts: Αρχαιολογία Online

World’s largest solar boat on Greek prehistory mission

The world's largest solar boat will embark on a Greek mission to find one of the oldest sites inhabited by man in Europe.

The post World’s largest solar boat on Greek prehistory mission appeared first on Αρχαιολογία Online.

Archaeology Matters

The Skyphos (Drinking Cup) of Pericles?

A simple black-slip 5th century skyphos (drinking cup) was discovered in a poor grave in Kifissia - a suburb of Athens. What makes the find exeptional are six names etched on the side in the genitive form: Aristidou, Daisimou, Arriphronos, Perikleous, Eukritou (Αριστείδου, Διοδότου, Δαισίμου, Αρρίφρονος, Περικλέους, Ευκρίτου). This allowed archaeologists to speculate not only that this cup of just 12 cm height might have been used by the famous Greek statesman himself, but that the signture on the cup might have been etched with his own hand...

Sources (in Greek):
Ta Nea, 30.07.2014,
To Vima, 30.07.2014,

Mary Beard (A Don's Life)

Where do half the world's tomatoes come from?


In this final post from the Turkish coast, let me recommend another couple of sites if you happen to be in the area. First there's Phaselis -- a dinky little Roman town that was given a facelift (like many round IMG_3493here) by Hadrian or in honour of him. Now it combines a handful of archaeological tourists, with rather more bathers, who charmingly get changed, picnic and sprawl among the ruins (which go pretty much right down to the beach).

IMG_3511A nice case of dual use we all thought (though eschewed the bathing opportunities ourselves).

At the other end of the spectrum -- ie very big indeed, though also conveniently located by an appropriately vast beach -- are the ruins of Patara. It's history goes back to Greek period; it was taken by Alexander the Great; but it then became the main town of the "Lycian League" and government seat of Roman Lycia.

An awful lot of it remains unexplored and unexcavated. But there has been some attention from the Turkish parliament, which has paid to restore the Bouleuterion -- the (kind of) parliament building -- of the Lycian League.

This looked pretty dreadful (far too white) from the outside, as I think comes across in this picture (though actually it felt whiter in real life).


Inside it had been rather elegantly done, with a very nice display of the mosaic on the floor.


Though it did come as a bit of a shock to see what it looked like up to a couple of years ago.


I should warn potential visitors, however, that the palatial loos on the site were firmly locked. As one member of our party remarked, they probably hadnt been opened since the visiting Turkish parliamentarians used them at the restoration opening ceremony.



The reason that the Turkish parliament put all that cash into restoring the talking shop of the Lycian League was presumably to make a statement about its own democratic character. In case you are wondering about the politics that I witnessed, it is true that there were loads of posters everywhere for Erdogan and his party; but I didnt spot any for the opposition. Which presumably tells its own tale.

What I did spot however (all around Patara in particular) were acres and acres of polytunnels. Nothing was growing in them in July, but it was clear that they had nurtured almost exclusively tomatoes.


They were a complete eye-sore (like they are in the UK, but there were just so many more of them. The rueful reflection was an obvious one: the desire of western consumers to have food out of season, and the desire of the Turkish agriculture industry to make extra money by producing food out of season, has ended up with swathes of its wonderfully beautiful countryside covered in ugly plastic boxes.

It looks like half the world's (out of season) tomatoes come from here.

Bryn Mawr Classical Review

2014.07.42: Between Pagan and Christian

Review of Christopher P. Jones, Between Pagan and Christian. Cambridge; London: 2014. Pp. xv, 207. $39.95. ISBN 9780674725201.

2014.07.41: Libanius the Sophist: Rhetoric, Reality, and Religion in the Fourth Century. Townsend lectures/Cornell studies in classical philology

Review of Raffaella Cribiore, Libanius the Sophist: Rhetoric, Reality, and Religion in the Fourth Century. Townsend lectures/Cornell studies in classical philology. Ithaca; London: 2013. Pp. x, 260. $49.95. ISBN 9780801452079.

2014.07.40: The Virgil Encyclopedia (3 vols.)

Review of Richard F. Thomas, Jan M. Ziolkowski, The Virgil Encyclopedia (3 vols.). Chichester; Malden, MA: 2013. Pp. 1,632. $595.00. ISBN 9781405154987.

2014.07.39: Sokrates bei Xenophon: Moral - Politik - Religion. Classica Monacensia, Bd 49

Review of Olga Chernyakhovskaya, Sokrates bei Xenophon: Moral - Politik - Religion. Classica Monacensia, Bd 49. Tübingen: 2014. Pp. xii, 279. €58.00 (pb). ISBN 9783823368632.

All Mesopotamia

We are not advertising but, we couldn’t pass this. The...

We are not advertising but, we couldn’t pass this.

The Ishtar Gate architecture is brilliant!

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Metal Detecting Permits in the USA and UK

Metal detecting permits, advocated for European artefact hunters by Washington lawyer Peter Tompa and his fellows are already needed for artefact hunting in certain areas of the USA. They are also required on certain Crown Estate lands in the UK. Extending the system on the US-proposed model should be fairly simple and could be incorporated into the Treasure Act review. Metal detectorist John Howland from England warmly recommends that everyone abide by them.

Ka Nefer Nefer, Shamed US Government Throws in Towel

The SLAM Bumper sticker, more relevant now than ever before

The shame-faced US Department of Justice will take no further legal action over Egyptian mask in St Louis Art Museum after botched legal moves. Monday was the deadline for the department to ask for a rehearing of the June 12 decision by the 8th U.S. Court of Appeals.
“The Department of Justice will take no further legal action with respect to the mask of Ka-Nefer-Nefer,” U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan said in response to questions from the Post-Dispatch on Monday, the deadline for the Department of Justice if it wished to prolong the court battle. Museum officials couldn’t be reached immediately for comment. According to court filings, both sides are still discussing payment of the museum’s legal fees.
On March 31, 2012, U.S. District Judge Henry Autrey dismissed the government’s forfeiture lawsuit, saying that the Department of Justice failed to claim or prove that the mask was actually stolen. While Judge Autrey knew not how to make sense of the object being documented as in two places at once, thus casting doubt on one or other of the conflicting stories (and not considering why one side would have to have a false story and why and totally unwilling to adjudicate between them in a court of law), the rest of us can come to our own conclusions.  Sleep well Judge Henry, the akh of the Justified before Osiris, Ka Nefer Nefer is not, you should hope you never meet her.

Robert Patrick, 'Ancient Egyptian mask likely to stay at St. Louis Art Museum after feds give up legal fight', Post Dispatch, 28th July 2014.

Archaeology and Arts: Αρχαιολογία Online

Prehistoric dairy farming at the extremes

Finland's love of milk has been traced back to 2500 BC thanks to high-tech techniques to analyse residues preserved in fragments of ancient pots.

The post Prehistoric dairy farming at the extremes appeared first on Αρχαιολογία Online.

BiblePlaces Blog

Artifact of the Month: Siege of Lachish Wall Relief

(Posted by Michael J. Caba)

This wall relief carving depicts the siege of the Judean city of Lachish, telling the story from the Assyrian point of view. The carving was created in c. 700 BC and was discovered in the 1850s in the ancient city of Nineveh, Assyria. The full original panel measured sixty-two feet in length and was nearly nine feet tall. The events shown on the panel are also recorded in the Bible in 2 Kings 18. The relief now resides in the British Museum.

The close-up photo shown to the right is one of the panels to this long relief. It depicts the battle between the attackers, who are using a battering ram, and the defenders who are shooting arrows and throwing burning torches.

The close-up photo on the left shows Judean captives being led into exile. Other panels (not included here) show victims being impaled and flayed.

All in all, despite its rather gruesome subject matter, the relief represents one of the more magnificent treasures from antiquity. It also provides support for the historicity of the scriptural record.  

For information on similar artifacts related to the Bible, see Bible and Archaeology - Online Museum.

(Photos: Significant resources for further study: The Context of Scripture, volume 2, page 304; Lost Treasures of the Bible, by Fant and Reddish, pages 173-177.) 


Archaeology and Arts: Αρχαιολογία Online

Violent aftermath for the warriors at Alken Enge

Ritual violence was perpetrated on the corpses of the many warriors who fell in a major battle close to the Danish town of Skanderborg around the time Christ was born.

The post Violent aftermath for the warriors at Alken Enge appeared first on Αρχαιολογία Online.

Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

Una mostra virtuale racconta il mito di Eracle

sulle-rome-eracleLa mostra digitale "Eracle nell'immaginario etrusco" è stata ideata a margine del progetto "Sulle orme di Eracle", che si svolge dal 9 maggio al 9 novembre, con la cura della Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici dell'Etruria Meridionale in collaborazione con la Soprintendenza per il Polo Museale Romano e la Fondazione "Claudio Faina". L'iniziativa, realizzata in cooperazione con il progetto AthenaPlus, utilizza i contenuti della mostra reale, immagini e testi, adattati alla fruizione per il web, ed è anche arricchita di risorse video e audio realizzate appositamente.

Samuel Hardy (Conflict Antiquities)

Does harm to community property indicate either side’s intentions in the current IDF-Hamas conflict?

As I’ve shown with research into targeting and destruction of cultural and community property in the Cyprus Conflict, analysis of the buildings that were targeted by rioters in Greece and querying of the official narrative of those riots, documentation of the Israeli state domicide of the Bedouin village of Al-Araqib, etc., as Christopher Jones has […]

Compitum - événements (tous types)

Gods and Goddesses in Ancient Italy

Titre: Gods and Goddesses in Ancient Italy
Lieu: Oxford University / Oxford
Catégorie: Colloques, journées d'études
Date: 18.09.2014
Heure: 14.00 h - 16.00 h

Information signalée par Daniele Miano

Workshop: Gods and Goddesses in Ancient Italy


With the support of the Faculty Board and of the Institute of Classical Studies, a one day workshop on God and Goddesses in Ancient Italy will take place in Brasenose college, Lecture room XI, on 18 September 2014.

The study of gods of Ancient Italy has proved to be an emerging field in recent years, and an increasing number of scholars is demonstrating that studying how individuals, groups and communities worshipped specific divinities in different ways can provide much in terms of general understanding of the cultural history of the peninsula in antiquity. The workshop will bring together scholars from several European countries, who will present the results of their work on specific divinities and discuss the theoretical and methodological challenges they encountered. It will focus on the Republican period.

The workshop is open to everyone, and attendance is free of charge, but please register by 10 September. To register or to ask further information please write to


10.00 Welcome and introduction
10.10 F. Glinister (UCL) – Getting to know Diana.
10.45 A. Sofroniew (Ashmolean Museum) – Mefitis: a goddess between realms.
11.20 M. Di Fazio (Pavia) – “Tre donne intorno al cor…”. Feronia, Marica, Mefitis: the religious profile of three Italic goddesses.
11.55 coffee
12.10 A. Clark (Oxford) – Honouring honos.
12.45 D. Miano (Oxford) – Italic Fortunae and the conceptual challenge.
13.20 lunch
14.20 C. Santi (Napoli 2) - Castor: a foreign god in the Roman Forum.
14.55 S. Wyler (Paris 7 – ANHIMA)- Loufir/Liber at the crossroads of religious cultures in Pompei (3rd-1st BCE).
15.30 coffee
15.45 F. Santangelo (Newcastle) – The Italic Ceres
16.20 E. Buchet (Rouen) – Beyond Rome : the cult of Vesta in Italy
17.00 Plenary discussion (Chair: John North, ICS)

Lieu de la manifestation : Brasenose college, Oxford
Organisation : Daniele Miano
Contact :

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Iraq: Weekend of Destruction

Christopher Jones (Ph.D student at Columbia University in New York) has an interesting blog "the Gates of Nineveh". The latest well-informed post however is not enjoyable read: 'Even More Islamic Heritage Destruction in Iraq', July 29, 2014:
Sadly, it appears that last Thursday’s demolition of the Tomb of the Prophet Jonah in Mosul was only the beginning of a weekend of destruction by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Several more sites sacred to Sunni Islam have been destroyed in the Mosul area. It seems that ISIS first moved against Shia shrines and mosques in their territory. This is because the Shia, as embodied by Iran and the Iraqi government, are the most immediate threat to ISIS’ goal of establishing a Sunni Islamic caliphate.
First their monuments, then the people perceived as standing in their way? As for what is being done to try to save the cultural property of the region, UNESCO had a meeting:
Aside from banning things that are already illegal and reiterating that sixty year old treaties exist, the main effort of this action plan seems to be to direct resources into potentially moving antiquities that are under threat to other regions for safekeeping. It is not clear if this means taking them out of the country temporarily or moving them somewhere else in Iraq. If ISIS ever makes its long-feared push on Baghdad this sort of plan might have to be put into motion very quickly.

Laura Gibbs (Bestiaria Latina Blog)

Latin Proverbs and Fables Round-Up: July 30

Here is a round-up of today's proverbs and fables - and for previous posts, check out the Bestiaria Latina Blog archives. If you are looking for more fables to read (LOTS more fables), you can download a free PDF copy of Mille Fabulae et Una: 1001 Aesop's Fables in Latin.

HODIE (Roman Calendar): ante diem tertium Kalendas Augustas.

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


3-WORD MOTTOES: Today's 3-word motto is Verba rebus proba (English: Test words with deeds).

3-WORD PROVERBS: Today's 3-word proverb is Duris dura franguntur (English: Hard things are broken by hard things).

RHYMING PROVERBS: Today's proverb with rhyme is: Caecat amor mentes atque interdum sapientes (English: Love sometimes blinds the minds even of the wise).

VULGATE VERSES: Today's verse is Unusquisque propriam mercedem accipiet secundum suum laborem (I Cor. 3:8). For a translation, check out the polyglot Bible, in English, Hebrew, Latin and Greek, at the Sacred Texts Archive online.

ELIZABETHAN PROVERBS: Here is today's proverb commentary, this time by Taverner: Satius est initiis mederi quam fini: Better it is to remedie the beginninges then the endes. Stoppe a disease, saith the Poete Ovide, while it is in the comminge. Medicine is south for to late, whan by long continuance of time the disease catcheth ones strength.

BREVISSIMA: The distich poster for today is Ad Quendam Divitem. 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 Mures et Catus, the story of a tricky cat and a wise mouse.

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

Iuppiter et Testudo

Greek Bible Art - and Latin and English, too. Below is one of my Greek Bible Art graphics; for the individual Greek, Latin and English versions of the graphic, see the blog post: ἀνένεγκον αὐτὸν ἐκεῖ εἰς ὁλοκάρπωσιν. Ibi offeres eum in holocaustum. Offer him there for a burnt offering.

Tom Matrullo (Classics in Sarasota)

Giving and taking: Heroides 7 (III)

Mortal action in the ancient epic world is shrouded in murk. Even chosen sons of goddesses like Aeneas have very little notion of what they are doing, or why.

After the Juno-sent rain that brought Aeneas and Dido into the cave, and into what Dido called "coniugium," Jupiter sends Mercury to prompt the Trojan, clarifying his task:
Not such the man
his beauteous mother promised; not for this
twice did she [Venus] shield him from the Greeks in arms:
but that he might rule Italy, a land
pregnant with thrones and echoing with war;
that he of Teucer's seed a race should sire,
and bring beneath its law the whole wide world.
If such a glory and event supreme
enkindle not his bosom; if such task
to his own honor speak not; can the sire
begrudge Ascanius the heritage
of the proud name of Rome?
Non illum nobis genetrix pulcherrima talem
promisit, Graiumque ideo bis vindicat armis;
sed fore, qui gravidam imperiis belloque frementem
Italiam regeret, genus alto a sanguine Teucri
proderet, ac totum sub leges mitteret orbem.
Si nulla accendit tantarum gloria rerum,
nec super ipse sua molitur laude laborem,
Ascanione pater Romanas invidet arces?
Mercury arrives, and:
                                   he saw
Aeneas building at a citadel,
and founding walls and towers; at his side
was girt a blade a-glitter with yellow jaspers

A decorative blade. Virgil's word, stellatus, suggests something bejeweled, in which decor exceeds utility. Clearly not the warrior's. Neither Virgil nor Ovid depict the lovers' exchange of swords, but we need not look far in Heroides 7 for Aeneas's: his sword lies naked, as they say, in Dido's lap:
Adspicias utinamquae sit scribentis imago!     
Scribimuset gremio Troicus ensis adest 
O that you could represent me to yourself as writing this letter!
I write, and on my lap lies a drawn sword.
"How well" -- the irony is palpable -- "are your gifts fitted to my destiny!"
Quam bene conveniunt fato tua munera nostro!
The sword is indeed fitted to the destiny of a queen who, as powerful precursor of Aeneas, has accomplished that which he has yet to do. Bestowing her achievement and her pretty sword upon him, giving him Lordship of her world, un-Aeneases him.

When it becomes clear that Aeneas is leaving ("duty calls"), Dido turns his sword against herself. She takes his gift -- a symbol of his power and willingness to protect her -- and uses it not symbolically, but materially -- as a knife. If the symbolic aura of the gift doesn't apply, then its actual heft can, and will.

Readers of Ovid are familiar with this sort of metamorphosis: a symbolic gift suddenly loses its aura (exchange value, meaning) and "fits" (convenio) another use. The gift takes her life (use value, force), and that of their child. In this case, the sword un-Didos Dido when her Aeneas-annihilating gift is not accepted. There's no middle ground with double-edged gifts.

Of course Dido doesn't perish before leaving Aeneas a gift in turn -- a carmen. We'll turn to it in a coda to this overlong analysis.

Ancient Art

Details from the Egyptian Tomb of Sennedjem in the necropolis of...

Details from the Egyptian Tomb of Sennedjem in the necropolis of Deir el-Medina. Sennedjem lived in the reigns of Seti I and Ramesses II during the 19th Dynasty.

Photos courtesy of & taken by kairoinfo4u.

July 29, 2014

Samuel Hardy (Conflict Antiquities)

Is the Iraqi News report of the destruction of Imam Yahya Abu al-Qasim Mosque accurate? No.

An old truism has become known as (technology journalist Ian) Betteridge’s Law of Headlines: ‘any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word “no”‘. I think that can basically be extended to the question in your head whenever you first read a headline on Iraqi News. Obviously, Iraqi News reporting […]

All Mesopotamia

fishstickmonkey: Cylinder Seal Mesopotamia, Agade period,...


Cylinder Seal

Mesopotamia, Agade period, about 2334-2154 B.C.

Tools and Equipment; seals
Height: 13/16 in. (2 cm); Diameter: 9/16 in. (1.3 cm)

Archaeology Magazine

Traces of Lincoln's Courthouse Found in Illinois


Lincoln-Courthouse-ExcavatedBLOOMINGTON, ILLINOIS—Excavations at the McLean County Museum of History have uncovered part of the footprint of the 1836 courthouse where Abraham Lincoln often worked as an attorney. “They found the corner and now can plot out the exact location. These are the physical remains of an incredibly historical episode in McLean County,” museum director Greg Koos told The Pantagraph. The two-story brick structure replaced a wood-frame building, until it was eventually torn down and replaced in 1868. Archaeologists Christopher Stratton and Floyd Mansberger of Fever River Research also found a line of fence posts, and they recovered pieces of glass, a pipe stem, ceramic pieces, spikes, and nails. The researchers will dig in the four corners of the property, including the site of two early jails.


Mary Harrsch (Passionate About History)

Shah Jahan: The Blood Behind the Glitter

A history resource article by Mary Harrsch © 2014 

George Stuart's multimedia sculpture of Shah Jahan
admiring the 56-carat Blue Table Diamond embedded in an
ornamental pin designed for his turban.
 Photographed at
the Museum of Ventura County in Ventura, CA
A few months ago when I visited the "Diamonds Are Forever" exhibit at the Museum of Ventura County in Ventura, California, it was a treat to see George Stuart's latest 1/4 scale sculpture of Shah Jahan, the ruler of the Mughal Empire at its zenith in 1627 CE.  The sculpture, modeled after a miniature painting of the fabulously wealthy Shah serenely contemplating the beauty of the 56 carat Table Diamond,  belies the ruthless nature of this warrior king, however.

Yes, Shah Jahan is the ruler famous for building the breathtaking Taj Mahal as a memorial tribute to his beloved third wife, Mumtaz Mahal.  This is the same Shah Jahan who reveled in wearing a special velvet brocade from Ahmadabad (that only he was allowed to use) and a qaba made of gold with blossoms fashioned from jewels  and fastened with pearls.  This Shah also ordered the interior of his palaces to be decorated with mosaics made from pieces of mirror so candlelight in the evening would produce a shimmering, hypnotic effect and ordered the construction of over a thousand gardens. His elegant palaces were embellished with delicate floral motifs embedded with jewels .  But, love was hardly a hallmark of his rise to power, thanks in part to his fierce Mongol and Turkic forefathers and the complex machinations of the Mughal royal court.

Shah Jahan's ancestry was no ordinary birthright. He was descended from the merciless Mongol invader, Ghengis Khan, on his mother's side and on his father's side the infamous Amir Timur, known as Tamberlane to the Western world. Scarcely less notorious for his barbarism than the Mongols, the Turkish ruler had invaded Hindustan in 1398, massacred its inhabitants and brought back riches beyond his wildest dreams: trays of gold and carved ivory and mounds of jewels – rubies, pearls, emeralds, turquoise, topaz and cat's eye, and diamonds said to be so valuable they might have fed the world for a day. - PBS, The Mughal Dynasty

To gain the Mughal throne, Shah Jahan, originally Prince Khurram, third son of the fourth Mughal emperor, Jahangir, and grandson to the legendary emperor Akbar the Great, would need every ounce of his ancestors' fierce resolve as he ordered the deaths of two (possibly three) brothers, two nephews and all remaining male Timurid cousins to remove any possible contenders to the throne by the time of his succession.

This familial bloodshed was a direct result of Shah Jahan's father, Jahangir, not naming an heir before his death and the lack of primogeniture (succession determined by birth order) in Mughal culture.

The first of Shah Jahan's siblings to fall was his eldest brother, Khusrau Mirza.  Prince Khusrau is said to have had an amiable disposition that endeared him to his grandfather, Akbar, and the liberal party within the Mughal court.  As his father, Jahangir's excessive indulgence in wine and opium became increasingly debilitating, powerful factions within the Mughal court favored Khusrau as the successor to his grandfather, Akbar, instead of Khusrau's father, Jahangir.

Mughal Emperor Jahangir receives a prisoner. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
The tension at court became so intense  that Khusrau's mother, the Hindu princess Man Bai (later called Shah Begam), her heart torn between her husband and her son, committed suicide on May 16, 1604.  Meanwhile Jahangir reconciled with the aging Emperor Akbar, who then appointed Jahangir his official successor shortly before Akbar's death on October 17, 1605.  This left Prince Khusrau flapping in the wind so to speak.

Now Emperor Jahangir placed Khusrau "under strict surveillance" (imprisoned) in Agra.  But the young prince escaped and fled to the Punjab with only a small contingent of horsemen.   However, on April 27, 1606, Prince Khusrau was recaptured and, after another abortive escape attempt, was blinded by order of his father.

According to Mughal tradition, the blinding of an heir to the throne symbolically blocked the heir from succession.  Normally, this would have protected him from any future heirs fighting to ascend the throne.  But, Jahangir, feeling remorseful for the punishment, asked his physicians to restore Khusrau's eyesight.  According to court sources, the physicians were only partially successful.

Shah Jahan must have surely remembered the reconciliation of his father, Jahangir, with his grandfather, Akbar.  So, in 1617 when a rebellion broke out in the Deccan region of the empire and Jahangir, urged on by Nur Jahan, ordered Shah Jahan to lead a relief army to the area, far from his father's court, the prince refused unless Jahangir agreed to let Shah Jahan take Khusrau with him, claiming his request was a result of "the tender affection he held for him."
Mughal Emperor Jahangir and Prince Khurram entertained by Nur Jahan.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

"Shah Jahan was worried, and rightly so, that in his absence, at the very least, various factions would consolidate their power behind his back and, at the most, he would lose what he thought to be the just dessert of his labors.  And so he pressed for Khusrau to accompany him to the Deccan, in the hopes of depriving Nur Jahan of his popular brother as a candidate for the throne." - Ellison Banks Findly, Nur Jahan: Empress of Mughal India

In 1621, Shah Jahan received word that Jahangir was seriously ill.  Perhaps fearing a death bed declaration of succession, Shah Jahan had his eldest brother secretly strangled (or stabbed through the heart depending on the source) on January 26, 1622 and reported to Jahangir that Khusrau had contracted an illness and died.  The Empress Nur Jahan's father subsequently "died suddenly" in January of that year as well.

 Emperor Jahangir received a second letter, though, from a noble in Burhanpur indicating Khusrau's death may have been planned.

"Upon receiving this second letter, Jahangir became furious and wrote back to the nobles in Burhanpur 'a very angry letter...enquiring why they had failed to write to him the truth...' It was then that Jahangir ordered Khusrau's body exhumed and brought to Allahabad and committed Khusrau's surviving family to the care of his still living father-in-law." -  Ellison Banks Findly, Nur Jahan: Empress of Mughal India

Jahangir then ordered Shah Jahan to return to court and give a personal account of Khusrau's death to the emperor.  (This would indicate that the exhumation did not reveal any obvious wounds - so much for the "stabbed through the heart" source)  Instead, Shah Jahan gathered his forces and prepared to march against his father.

But in March of 1622, Shah Abbas I of Persia besieged and captured Qandahar fort.  This direct challenge to Mughal supremacy required a swift response.  Empress Nur Jahan urged her husband to order Shah Jahan to lead a relief army to Qandahar.

Detail from painting of Shah Abbas I of Persia at court.  Image courtesy of
"...we assume that Nur Jahan intended these orders to place Shah Jahan in a difficult situation;  if he refused to go, he would be denounced as a rebel and crushed, most likely, by the imperial armies; but, if he left the Deccan for Kandahar he would lose the base of power he had spent so long in cultivating.  Moreover, if he was far off in Kandahar fighting and Jahangir died, Shah Jahan might miss his chance for the throne."  -  Ellison Banks Findly, Nur Jahan: Empress of Mughal India

Rather than incur his father's wrath again, Shah Jahan simply delayed using the monsoon season as an excuse.

Shah Jahan feared that in his absence Nur Jahan would attempt to poison his father against him and convince Jahangir to name Shahryar the heir in his place. It was this fear which forced Shah Jahan to rebel against his father rather than fight against the Persians." - Vidya Dhar Mahajan,  Jahangir. Muslim Rule in India (1970: 5th ed.)

17th century painting of a Mughal couple.  The prince in this painting resembles
Shah Jahan's youngest brother, Prince Shahryar.  Prince Shahryar married the
daughter of the powerful Empress Nur Jahan who hoped to have a grandson that
would eventually rule the Mughal Empire.
 Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

But to test his brother's influence at court,  Shah Jahan petitioned his father for ownership of a "jagir" (lands awarded for military success) assigned to Shahryar, now son-inlaw to Nur Jahan and Jahangir's latest favorite son, and sent a force to procure them. Shahryar sent a force to defend his lands and the two forces fought, resulting in many deaths on both sides.  Jahangir was so enraged that he awarded the disputed lands to Shahryar and appointed Shahryr to command the Qandahar expedition, declaring Shah Jahan "unworthy of all the favours and cherishing I had bestowed on him."

In response, Shah Jahan marched toward Agra, the location of the Mughal treasury.  But his father anticipated this move and had the fort of Agra reinforced then ordered his second eldest son, Parviz (also spelled Parwez or Parvez), and the emperor's trusted and experienced general Mahahbat Khan to lead the imperial armies against Shah Jahan.  The imperial armies routed Shah Jahan's forces at Baluchpur and Shah Jahan was forced to retreat.

Once back in the Deccan, Shah Jahan began to cultivate alliances with the Golconda Sultanate (not under the control of the Mughal) and representatives of the new English factories of the south.  Reinforced and rearmed, Shah Jahan marched northeast and conquered the Mughal province of Orissa.  He then turned his sight on Bengal governed by Ibrahim Khan, Nur Jahan's uncle.  Following a bloodbath known as the battle of Rajmahal, Shah Jahan's forces hunted down and killed Ibrahim Khan on April 10, 1624.

In this detail of a hunting scene from the Jahan Nama, Shah Jahan is depicted firing a matchlock rifle, a weapon widely
used in Mughal warfare.  Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
When Shah Jahan advanced to take Allahabad, however, the imperial forces under Prince Parviz and Mahabat Khan intercepted him and Shah Jahan fled back to Golconda where he was once more reinforced.  Shah Jahan and his allies laid seige to Burhanpur but they were again thwarted by the forces of Prince Parviz and Mahabat Khan.  Then Shah Jahan fell seriously ill.  Fearing his cause lost, Shah Jahan appealed to his father for forgiveness.

"At the instance [insistence] of Nur Jahan, Jahangir replied in March of 1626 that if Shah Jahan surrendered Rohtas and the fort of Asir and sent his sons Dara Shikoh and Arangzeb to court, he would give him full forgiveness and the province of Balaghat."   Ellison Banks Findly, Nur Jahan: Empress of Mughal India

Mughal painting of Prince Paraviz with a holy man c. 1610

In October 1626, Jahangir was notified that Prince Parviz had died of delirium tremens (the DTs - according to one source or alcohol poisoning according to another source) in Burhanpur.

The DTs are triggered by the withdrawal of alcohol from a severely addicted alcoholic.  (Before modern medical interventions were developed, the DTs resulted in death in about 35% of the cases.)  Although Prince Parviz was known to be a longtime alcoholic, it would be highly doubtful that the prince would have refused alcohol himself.   He was superior in rank to anyone else at Burhanpur since the prince's co-commander Mahabat Khan had been sent to govern distant Bengal by the constantly scheming Empress Nur Jahan.  So, who would have forcefully withheld alcohol from him?

Alcohol poisoning, on the other hand, would have been more logical, but it would also have been easy to imitate with other available concoctions.

Shah Jahan's "exile" province of Balaghat made Shah Jahan the geographically closest member of the royal family to Prince Parviz.  So, this is why some historians think Shah Jahan could have been instrumental in accelerating this brother's demise as well.

Anyway, this now left only Shah Jahan's youngest brother, Shahryar, as the remaining impediment to the throne.

By now badly enfeebled, Emperor Jahangir died October 28, 1627 while returning to Lahore from Kashmir.  Neither remaining heir apparent were present, but Shah Jahan's father-in-law, Asaf Khan, quickly confined Nur Jahan (his sister) and dispatched a messenger to Shah Jahan.  In the meantime, Asaf Khan got the majority of court nobles in the emperor's camp to proclaim Dawar Bakhsh, the young son of the ill-fated Khusrau, emperor, solely as a place holder for Shah Jahan.

Then Asaf Khan gathered his forces and marched on Prince Shahryar at the palace in Lahore.

Painting of a Mughal commander approaching a fortified city.

"Shahryar used the seven million rupee treasure in Lahore fort to mibilize a large, disheveled, army of hastily assembled mercenaries.  He was easily defeated by Asaf Khan just outside Lahore.  Captured alive in Lahore Fort, Shahryar was made to submit formally to Dawar Bakhsh and then imprisoned and blinded." - John F. Richards, The Mughal Empire

Within twenty days Shah Jahan received the news of his father's death and set out for Agra.

"On the way to Agra, Shah Jahan sent a firman to Asaf Khan, written in his own hand, to do away with all potential contenders to the throne - Shahryar, Dawar Bakhsh and his brother Gahrasp, and Daniyal's two sons [Daniyal was a deceased brother of Jahangir]." - Abraham Eraly, The Mughal Throne: The Saga of India's Great Emperors

So, on the night of February 2, 1628, all of the remaining Mughal princes were seized and put to death.

Sadly, the Shah's own offspring took this lesson to heart and in turn Shah Jahan's second son, Aurangzeb, ended up defeating and ordering the executions of his three brothers as well.

A poignant watercolor of Shah Jahan's son Shah Shua as a child.  Image courtesy
of Wikipedia.

When Shah Jahan was a youth, his grandfather, the famous Akbar the Great, had insisted that Shah Jahan study Turkic language and culture. In the case of the Ottoman Empire that meant Mehmed II's law, passed in 1477 that codified fratricide:  "For the welfare of the state, the one of my sons to whom God grants the sultanate may lawfully put his brothers to death."

Mehmed II only had to slaughter an infant half brother and its mother since the rest of his brothers were already dead by the time he ascended the throne.  But when Mehmed III became Sultan, the law justified his slaughter of 19 brothers by strangulation with a ritual bowstring.

Apparently, Shah Jahan was a very good student.

Archaeology Magazine

Family Will Pay for Utah Rock Art Repairs


Pregnant-Buffalo-PictographPRICE, UTAH—Repairs to the protected Nine Mile Canyon Pregnant Buffalo rock art panel reportedly will be paid for by the family of the juveniles who defaced it. The two juveniles carved their initials and the date into the rock face over Memorial Day weekend, which was reported to the authorities by concerned citizens. The Bureau of Land Management estimates that the restoration will cost $1,500. “I hope people try to think about the consequences and the effect their actions have on history,” one of the youths told The Standard Examiner after a BLM law enforcement officer met with the family.


Erosion Exposes Human Remains on Kwajalein Atoll

MANJORO, KWAJALEIN ATOLL—The Yomiuri Shimbun reports that rising seas and coastal erosion have exposed human bones on the Marshall Islands. The bones are thought to be the remains of Japanese soldiers killed during fierce fighting between American forces and the Imperial Japanese Army in early 1944. Michael Terlep, chief archaeologist at the Marshall Islands Historic Preservation Office, examined the bones with a representative of the U.S. government. They concluded that the bones have Asian characteristics, and bullets and Japanese military artifacts were found with the bones. If the remains are confirmed to be Japanese, they will be repatriated. An estimated 20,000 Japanese soldiers are thought to have been killed on the Marshall Islands or in the surrounding ocean during World War II.

Open Access Archaeology

Open Access Archaeology Digest #494

Open Access (free to read) articles on archaeology:

On the difference of plan alleged to exist between churches of Austin Canons and those of Monks; and the frequency with which such churches were parochial

The virtual museum of landscape

Playful agents, inexorable process: elements of a coherent theory of iteration in anthropological simulation

Antiquities at Buda-Pest

A cinerary urn from Kirklands, Kirkoswald, Ayrshire

Learn more about Open Access and Archaeology at:

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Archaeological dig uncovers 1836 courthouse footprint

BLOOMINGTON — Archaeologists on Monday uncovered part of the footprint of the 1836 courthouse where Abraham Lincoln often worked as an attorney.

The discovery by archaeologists Floyd Mansberger and Christopher Stratton came about an hour after an excavator started digging on the south side of the McLean County Museum of History. It was the first day of a two- to three-week archaeological search before construction starts on a new entrance into a planned tourism center on the lower level of the history museum.

"They literally found where the courthouse was," said Greg Koos, the museums’ executive director. "They found the corner and now can plot out the exact location. These are the physical remains of an incredibly historical episode in McLean County." Read more.

Archaeology Magazine

Macabre Ritual Site Unearthed in Denmark




ARHUS, DENMARK—In 2012, the remains of an entire army were discovered in the bogs near the Alken Enge wetlands in East Jutland. Archaeologists from Aarhus University, Skanderborg Museum, and Moesgaard Museum have examined the 2,000-year-old bones, and found that the soldiers’ remains were collected some six months after death, desecrated, and cast into Mossø Lake in what was likely a religious ritual. “We have found a wooden stick bearing the pelvic bones of four different men. In addition, we have unearthed bundles of bones, bones bearing marks of cutting and scraping, and crushed skulls,” project manager Mads Kähler Holst of Aarhus University told The human bones were mixed with the remains of slaughtered animals and clay pots that probably contained food. 


David Stuart (Maya Decipherment)

Deathly Sport

by Stephen Houston, Brown University

On a scorching day in July 2006, my wife and I happened to visit a Roman necropolis at Carmona, just west of Sevilla, Spain – not for nothing is this called the sartén de Europa, with temperatures in excess of 46° celsius! But there, at Roman “Carmo,” the tombs were cool, richly painted in parts. Some dozens of meters away, we saw a triclinium (formal dining room) for funerary banquets and an amphitheater to house games in honor of the dead.

The ancient Mediterranean has a long tradition of such games. Homer, in the Iliad, speaks with appreciative bloodlust of the sporting events for Patroclus, the late, beloved companion of Achilles: “Raising their arms, their powerful fists, they [the participants] went at one another. Their hands exchanged some heavy punches, landing with painful crunches on their jaws. From their limbs sweat ran down everywhere” (Bk 23, lines 847-851, trans. Ian Johnston). Ultimately, the tradition passed to the Lucanians at Paestum, south of Naples —where the scene of a gladiatorial fray embellishes the walls of a tomb—to what may be the first gladiatorial contests, also funerary, held at Rome in 264 BC (Potter 2012:187-190). In all such cases, the games pulsed with recollection of once-vibrant dead. As John Bodel, a friend and Latin epigraphist reminds me, the nuances were further layered to include the most basic struggle of all, between life and death (see Ville 1981).

Was some Maya ballplay of a mortuary nature too? Did the hurly-burly of sacred sport—a celebration of chance but also of preparation and athletic skill—link to royal tombs?

The grimmer features of the Post-Classic (to early Colonial) ballgame bear repeating. The Xibalba of the Popol Vuh, an abode of gods with names like mortal diseases, thudded with ballplay. It was in a ballcourt that the lords of Xibalba buried the defeated brothers One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu (Christenson 2007:125). Hunahpuh and Xbalanque, miraculous sons of One Hunahpu, later played in the “ballcourt of their father,” “sweeping [it] clear” (ibid.:125). When they bested the lords of Xibalba, the twins “left behind” the “heart of their father [One Hunahpu]…at Crushing Ballcourt” (ibid.:191). “Here you will called upon’…‘They shall worship you first. Your name shall not be forgotten’” (ibid.:191).

The Popol Vuh, a much later source, does not always resonate with practices and beliefs of the Classic period. Yet here it might, in what appear to be precise or notional alignments between the central axis of a ballcourt and a known royal tomb.

The more precise examples:

(1) At Dos Pilas, Guatemala, the ballcourt composed of Structures L4-17 and L4-16 (Houston 1993:Site Map 1) defines an axis that passes directly south to a pyramid, Structure L5-1. Excavations in 1991 showed that the pyramid contained the tomb of Dos Pilas’ Ruler 2, in a crypt almost precisely aligned with the axis of the ballcourt (Figure 1; Demarest et al. 1991). The sculptures on the ballcourt, Panels 11 and 12, deploy a version of the Dos Pilas Emblem that dates a generation or so later than the pyramid (Houston 1993:Figures 3-17, 3-18).

Figure 1. Alignment of ballcourt and pyramid at Dos Pilas, Guatemala, with red rectangle indicating location of royal tomb (map by Stephen Houston).

Figure 1. Alignment of ballcourt and pyramid at Dos Pilas, Guatemala, with red rectangle indicating location of royal tomb (map by Stephen Houston).

(2) The small ballcourt near Temple I at Tikal, Guatemala (Structure 5D-74-1st), has a central axis aligning with Burial 116, tomb of Jasaw Kaan K’awiil, ruler of Tikal (Figure 2; Coe 1990:Figures 257b, 284-86). There is an earlier ballcourt—said vaguely to be “within a regional ‘Early Classic’ era (whatever this attribution may communicate to reader)” (Coe 1990:650). It aligns almost exactly with Burial 116. Conceivably, the earlier ballcourt dictated the placement of Burial 116, which is off-center in the pyramid, below ground level and towards the front. Again, the crypt lines up with the axis of Structure 5D-74-1st and 2nd.

Figure 2. Alignment of Str. FD-74 with Burial 116 under Temple 1; earlier ballcourt, where it survives, cue in green (map by the Tikal Project, University of Pennsylvania).

Figure 2. Alignment of Str. FD-74 with Burial 116 under Temple 1; earlier ballcourt, where it survives, cue in green (map by the Tikal Project, University of Pennsylvania).

Then the ballcourts with rougher alignments:

(3) The first ballcourt at Copan, Honduras, dating to ca. AD 470, has a central axis that points to the front stairway of the Margarita tomb, and to the vicinity of Hunal, the probable tomb of the founder (Figure 3; Sharer et al. 2005:Figure 5.2). The axes of the crypts have the same orientation as the ballcourt (Sharer et al. 2005:Figure 5-7).

Figure 3. Alignment of Copan ballcourt with the Margarita building, Hunal building marked in blue (map by the Early Copan Acropolis Program, directed by Robert J. Sharer).

Figure 3. Alignment of Copan ballcourt with the Margarita building, Hunal building marked in blue (map by the Early Copan Acropolis Program, directed by Robert J. Sharer).


(4) A suggestive example comes from Ceibal, Guatemala (Figure 4). Hieroglyphic Stairway 1, in Structure A-14, refers to the “fire-entering” of a tomb on Nov. 4, AD 747 (Graham 1996:59, Tablet 5:DD1). Presumably, the tomb lay nearby, perhaps behind the stairway, which seems to have been re-set in Classic times. Across from the stairway, but not precisely aligned with its axis, is the Structure A-19 ballcourt; its orientation leads to the join between Structures A-12 and A-14. Takeshi Inomata, who has been digging at Ceibal over the last years, kindly reports on what his project found. Digging in the southern end of Structure A-12, they discovered that the “construction mass dates to the Late Preclassic. Thin Late and Terminal Classic layers were sitting on the Preclassic building”; Takeshi also noted some evidence of an earlier Late Classic building beneath Structure A-14 (personal communication, July 2014). The question remains whether there is still a tomb to be found. The hieroglyphic text would indicate so (Stuart 1998:398, fn. 13).

Figure 4. Alignment of Ceibal A-19 ballcourt with possible tomb to the east (map by Ian Graham, Corpus of Maya Hieroglyphic Inscriptions Project).

Figure 4. Alignment of Ceibal A-19 ballcourt with possible tomb to the east (map by Ian Graham, Corpus of Maya Hieroglyphic Inscriptions Project).

(Incidentally, we have long assumed that the tomb mentioned on the Hieroglyphic Stairway belonged to a figure from the Early Classic period—someone named K’an Mo’ Bahlam. But I see no compelling reason to believe this, as the only date here is firmly Late Classic. To be sure, there is an Early Classic lord of Ceibal mentioned on Tablet 7, position MM1, of the Hieroglyphic Stairway, but with a different name. Notably, he is said to have played ball, pi-tzi!)

(5) A final example appears at the more distant location of Chichen Itza, Mexico, with a date some centuries later than #1-4. There, the Great Ballcourt lines up, at least approximately, with the enigmatic but suitably named Osario or “High Priest’s Grave,” the sole locus of attested royal burials at Chichen (Figure 5; Ruppert 1935; also Thompson 1938). The Great Ballcourt and the Osario date to about the same time, c. AD 1000-1100 AD (Braswell and Peniche May 2012:238).

Figure 5.  Alignment between the Great Ballcourt and the Osario at Chichen Itza (map by J. O. Kilmartin and J. P. O’Neil, with emendations by Karl Ruppert, Carnegie Institution of Washington).

Figure 5. Alignment between the Great Ballcourt and the Osario at Chichen Itza (map by J. O. Kilmartin and J. P. O’Neil, with emendations by Karl Ruppert, Carnegie Institution of Washington).

An empirical pattern doth not a theory make. Yet, at some sites, the Maya may have configured two buildings in unison. One contained a known or likely tomb or tombs, as at Chichen. (There must have been sustained knowledge of sub-surface remains.) The other was a ballcourt, its corridor pointing to a tomb, often at the same orientation. Several alignments seem more notional than precise, uncertain to satisfy a skeptic. And a few, as in my excavations with Héctor Escobedo at Structure K-5, Piedras Negras, could even be cenotaphic (Houston et al. 2008). A ballcourt, Structure K-6, lines up with a pyramid to a deceased queen but not, alas, to her tomb…or at least not one that we could find! (It could still lie off-axis, as we were only able to dig by means of a 2x2m shaft.) We do know the pyramid came first, and that the ballcourt, with its famous image of boxers, was a slightly later construction. In a personal communication, David Stuart also wonders whether Monument 171 at Tonina might be relevant (Stuart 2013): it shows a deceased lord playing with one still living.

Wendy Ashmore has written about ballcourt locations, emphasizing their southern position as “underworld” places of “transition” (Ashmore 1992:178, 179). I would mute her emphasis on “south” and suggest instead the dead could be to the north, south, and east too. Direction did not matter in these examples. Far more important was a specific mortuary intent and not, in Wendy’s words, a “cosmic template.” The fact that the glyph for tombs so often resembles half of the sign for a ballcourt—distinguished solely by the skull inside, nestled within a dark space (Stuart 1998:Figure 13)—raises the specter of a proposal. As in the Popol Vuh, some ballcourts bustled with the living but directed that activity towards the dead.

Acknowledgements: Takeshi Inomata of the University of Arizona generously responded to my questions about his excavations at Ceibal; Dave Stuart, too, helped with comments, as did John Bodel. I prepared some of these remarks for a workshop on Piedras Negras at Dumbarton Oaks, as facilitated by Dr. Colin McEwan, Joanne Pillsbury, and Mary Pye.


References Cited:

Ashmore, Wendy. 1992. Deciphering Maya Architectural Plans. In New Theories on the Ancient Maya, edited by Elin Danien and Robert J. Sharer, pp. 173-184. University Museum, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Braswell, Geoffrey E., and Nancy Peniche May. 2012. In the Shadow of the Pyramid: Excavations of the Great Platform of Chichen Itza. In The Ancient Maya of Mexico: Reinterpreting the Past of the Northern Maya Lowlands, edited by Geoffrey E. Braswell, pp. 229-263. Equinox, London.

Christenson, Allen J. 2007. Popol Vuh: The Sacred Book of the Maya. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman.

Coe, William R. 1990. Excavations in the Great Plaza, North Terrace and North Acopolis of Tikal. Tikal Report 14. 6 vols. University Museum, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Demarest, Arthur, Héctor Escobedo, Juan-Antonio Valdés, Lori Wright, Kitty Emery, and Stephen Houston. 1991 Arqueología, epigrafía y el descubrimiento de una tumba real en el centro ceremonial de Dos Pilas, Peten, Guatemala. U tz’ib 1(1):14-28.

Graham, Ian. 1996. Corpus of Maya Hieroglyphic Inscriptions, Volume 7, Part 1: Seibal. Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.

Houston, Stephen D. 1993. Hieroglyphs and History at Dos Pilas: Dynastic Politics of the Classic Maya. University of Texas Press, Austin.

Houston, Stephen, Héctor Escobedo, and Zachary Nelson. 2008. Encontrando el contexto para la historia y la historia para el contexto: Excavaciones en la estructura K-5 de Piedras Negras, Guatemala. Mayab 20: 45-63.

Pontrandolfo, Angela, and Agnès Rouveret. 1992. Le tombe dipinte di Paestum. Franco Cosimo Panini, Modena.

Potter, David. 2012. The Victor’s Crown: A History of Ancient Sport from Homer to Byzantium. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Ruppert, Karl. 1935. The Caracol at Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico. Carnegie Institution of Washington, Publication 454. Carnegie Institution of Washington, DC.

_____________. 1952 Chichen Itza: Architectural Notes and Plans. Carnegie Institution of Washington, Publication 595. Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Institution of Washington.

Sharer, Robert J., David W. Sedat, Loa P. Traxler, Julia C. Miller, and Ellen E. Bell. 2005. Early Classic Royal Power in Copan: The Origins and Development of the Acropolis (ca. A.D. 250-600). In Copán: The History of an Ancient Maya Kingdom, edited by E. Wyllys Andrews and William L Fash, pp. 139-199. School of American Research Press, Santa Fe.

Stuart, David. 1998. “The Fire Enters His House”: Architecture and Ritual in Classic Maya Texts. In Function and Meaning in Classic Maya Architecture, edited by Stephen D. Houston, pp. 373-425. Dumbarton Oaks, Washington D.C.

Stuart, David. 2013. Tonina’s Curious Ballgame.

Thompson, Edward H. 1938. The High Priest’s Grave, Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico. Anthropological Series, Field Museum of Natural History 27(1). Chicago.

Ville, Georges. 1981. La gladiature en Occident des origines à la mort de Domitien. Bibliothèque des écoles françaises d’Athènes et de Rome, fasc. 245e. Ecole française de Rome, Rome.

Dickinson College Commentaries

Dickinson Summer Latin Workshop 2014 Comments


002Participants in the 2014 Dickinson Summer Latin Workshop (left to right): Christine Kahl, Will Darden, Peter Rook, Catherine Zackey, Faye Peel, Wells Hansen, Ashley Leonard, Scott Paterson, Paul Perrot, Kaori Miller, Jennifer Larson, Hugh McElroy, Janet Brooks, John Landis, Will Harvard, Daniel Cummings, Andrea Millius, Jacqueline Lopata, Bernie Gygax, and Laurie Duncan.

003We met for the week of July 13, 2014, and read selections from Lucretius, led by Wells Hansen and Chris Francese. Two new elements were a daily happy hour, with drinks and light refreshments in front of East College from 4:00-5:00; and the optional session to work on the Dickinson College Commentaries project in the afternoons from 2:00-4:00, helping harvest notes for the projected multimedia edition of the Aeneid. Here are some of the comments from participants:

Thank you! For the wonderful workshop this year. Of course–I enjoyed the reading this year–very interesting selection. I enjoyed reading and socializing with my colleagues. I think the commentary and the daily happy hour provided a great venue to get to know people better.

I very much enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate with other Latin teachers. Good times.

I enjoyed the camaraderie . . . the laughter . . . the intellectual stimulus.

I enjoyed the pace and friendly collegiality

I had a lovely time–favorite workshop yet.

The readings were fantastic! I enjoyed preparing the text every day and the discussions in class. Having the afternoons free was great, too–it allowed me to prep and recharge so I didn’t get too tired out.

I enjoyed spending time with a diverse group of teachers and Latin aficionados. Getting a chance to read one text in depth with knowledgeable instructors and colleagues. Just generally hanging out with Latin people and making jokes about the Dative.




ArcheoNet BE

Archeologie en erfgoed in het Vlaams regeerakkoord

Vorige vrijdag legde de nieuwe Vlaamse regering de eed af. Geert Bourgeois blijft ook als minister-president bevoegd voor Onroerend Erfgoed. Hoe zijn beleid rond erfgoed en archeologie er de komende vijf jaar zal uitzien, zal dit najaar blijken uit zijn nieuwe beleidsnota, maar in het Vlaamse regeerakkoord worden alvast de grote lijnen uitgezet. De tekst van het regeerakkoord lijkt vooral te wijzen op continuïteit, maar legt toch ook enkele nieuwe accenten. We zetten de belangrijkste elementen op een rijtje.

Uiteraard is de nieuwe Vlaamse regering van plan om het goedgekeurde onroerenderfgoeddecreet verder uit te voeren, met een evaluatie in 2017. Ook voor het hoofdstuk ‘archeologie’ zal zo snel mogelijk een uitvoeringsbesluit uitgevaardigd worden, zodat ook dit onderdeel van het decreet in werking kan treden. De uitvoering van het decreet zal voortdurend geëvalueerd worden – onder meer wat betreft de werkbaarheid en betaalbaarheid ervan – en bijgestuurd waar nodig.

Volgens het regeerakkoord staat archeologisch onderzoek in functie van een betere kennis van ons verleden. De Vlaamse regering zal er dan ook over waken dat opgravingsresultaten voldoende omgezet worden in wetenschappelijke kennis en ontsloten worden. Interessant is dat men bij de vaststelling van de archeologische zones uitsluitend zones wil afbakenen in gebieden waar reële kenniswinst te verwachten valt. Problematisch hierbij is dat dergelijke archeologische zones worden afgebakend op basis van vroegere archeologische vaststellingen, en dus geen graadmeter zijn voor het wetenschappelijke potentieel ervan. Hierin schuilt dus een inherente tegenstelling.

Verder wil de Vlaamse regering werk maken van een cultuuromslag bij de Vlaamse administratie onroerend erfgoed. “De administratie moet zich verder aanpassen en meer oplossingsgericht, klantgericht, en als een betrouwbare en proactieve projectpartner werken. Dit betekent een aanpassing van de werkwijze van ‘total control’ naar samenwerking met en ondersteuning van erfgoedeigenaars, – beheerders en lokale besturen in een geest van vertrouwen. Samenwerken met onroerend erfgoed moet een positieve connotatie krijgen.”

De administratie moet ook een beoordelingskader ontwikkelen dat de betrokkenen bij het erfgoedbeleid toelaat voorafgaand inschattingen te maken over de ontwikkelingskansen van een beschermd gebouw of een beschermde site. De vraag stelt zich hierbij echter welk gewicht wordt toegekend aan deze nieuwe variabele, en hoe erfgoed zonder veel ontwikkelingskansen in het plaatje past.

De Vlaamse regering zet dus verder in op een grotere betrokkenheid en een breder draagvlak bij de belanghebben en bij de bevolking in het algemeen. De jaarlijkse Open Monumentendag blijft daarbij een belangrijk instrument, net als de uitbouw van Herita. Ook worden de lokale besturen zo veel als mogelijk bij het erfgoedbeleid betrokken. Men stimuleert en begeleidt gemeenten die willen samenwerken in Intergemeentelijke Onroerend Erfgoeddiensten of die een erkenning willen krijgen als onroerenderfgoedgemeente. Welke rol van de provincies in de toekomst zullen spelen op het vlak van erfgoed, blijft dan weer vrij onduidelijk.

Opmerkelijk is dat het regeerakkoord meldt dat vroegere beschermingen opnieuw geëvalueerd zullen worden vanuit het oogpunt van de erfgoedwaarde en de doelmatigheid van het beschermingsinstrument. Het risico op een hele reeks deklasseringen lijkt op basis van deze formulering niet denkbeeldig. Erfgoed mag bovendien ook niet in de weg staan van landbouw en andere menselijke activiteiten. Het regeerakkoord belooft “een rechtszeker kader waarbij beschermingsinitiatieven het voortbestaan van landbouwbedrijven niet zullen verhinderen en/of financieel belasten”.

Ten slotte vermeldt het regeerakkoord dat niemand baat heeft bij de kunstmatige scheiding tussen diverse beleidsdomeinen. Een betere samenwerking met onder meer natuurbeleid en met cultuurbeleid wordt verdergezet, en ook wordt ingezet op een sterke samenwerking met ruimtelijke ordening. Uiteraard een nobele doelstelling, hoewel het vanuit dit oogpunt enigszins vreemd lijkt dat het onroerend erfgoed bij de verdeling van de ministerportefeuilles niet aan een van deze beleidsdomeinen werd toegevoegd.

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Family to pay for Utah rock art vandalism

PRICE — The family of a juvenile responsible with defacing ancient rock art in Nine Mile Canyon has agreed to pay for the damage.

In May, Bureau of Land Management Utah Price Field Office law enforcement officers and archaeological staff investigated citizen-reported damage to the Nine Mile Canyon Pregnant Buffalo rock art panel in Carbon County.

The investigation revealed that two juveniles from the Salt Lake City area had carved their initials and the date into the rock face near the panel over Memorial Day weekend.

After careful examination and analysis, the BLM assessed the damage and identified specific mitigation measures. BLM archaeologists estimated that restoration and repair efforts would cost approximately $1,500. Read more.

Adam C. McCollum (hmmlorientalia)

On Saint Mark’s, Jerusalem, № 181 (content, notes, & endpapers)

Manuscript № 181 of Saint Mark’s Monastery in Jerusalem (SMMJ) is an East Syriac manuscript, written, it seems, by a scribe named ʿAbdišoʿ of Ātēl. The main content of the manuscript is the First Part of Isaac of Bēt Qaṭrāyē, bishop of Nineveh’s famous monastic work (see GEDSH 213-214).

SMMJ 181, f. 1v

SMMJ 181, f. 1v

The text is complete, but between chapters 34 and 35 (acc. to Bedjan‘s numbering; the chapters are mostly unnumbered in this manuscript) there is another text, the beginning of which is unfortunately missing. After a little searching — thanks to Luk Van Rompay for the tip to check the Synodicon orientale! — I found that this intervening text is a Letter on Proper Conduct, especially on marriage, by Catholicos Aba I (d. 552; GEDSH 1), the text of which was published by Bedjan and Chabot; as it survives in this manuscript, the text corresponds to Bedjan, Histoire de Mar-Jabalaha, 282.3-287.12, and Chabot, Synodicon orientale, 83.6-85.9.

After the First Part, at the end of the manuscript, there are two more notes I would like to share. First, a note that seems to be in the same hand as the copied text of the manuscript:

SMMJ 181, f. 358v, scribal (?), note

SMMJ 181, f. 358v, scribal (?), note

Bless, sirs! Pray in the love of Christ for the sinner ʿAbdišoʿ of Ātēl, worn out, who came to Jerusalem in the year 1955 AG [=1643/4 CE].

He wrote these lines.

And again in the year 1962 AG [=1650/1 CE] the sinner came to Jerusalem. Pray for me. Amen.

Second, there is a short Syriac verse in the seven-syllable meter (with rhyme-end in -ṭē):

SMMJ 181, f. 358v

SMMJ 181, f. 358v

At the end of doomed times,

Let rulers be cursed,

Along with all idlers and slackers,

Foolish people and idiots!

Finally, the manuscript has pastedowns and endpapers in Syriac and Arabic. Here are two examples:

SMMJ 181, endpaper in Arabic

SMMJ 181, endpaper in Arabic

SMMJ 181, endpaper from a Syriac lectionary, here with Ex 34:34-35 and Isa 58:1

SMMJ 181, endpaper from a Syriac lectionary

I’ve not identified the Arabic text, but the Syriac endpaper above is from a lectionary, here with Ex 34:34-35 and Isa 58:1.

Ancient Peoples

Writing-tablet with an intelligence report Roman Britain, late...

Writing-tablet with an intelligence report

Roman Britain, late 1st or early 2nd century AD
Vindolanda Roman fort (modern Chesterholm), Northumberland


'… the Britons are unprotected by armour (?). There are very many cavalry. The cavalry do not use swords nor do the wretched Britons mount in order to throw javelins.'

This tablet describing the fighting habits of the Britons was probably a memorandum, perhaps left by a commanding officer for his successor. Despite the disparaging reference to Brittunculi (‘Little Brits’), it may be that the document was an assessment of their potential for recruitment into the local military units.

Source: British Museum

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Metal Detecting Permits: A good Sign From Cultural Property Observer?

Over on the Cultural Property Observer blog, where remarks about regulating metal detecting are commonly encountered, a UK metal detectorist is writing approvingly about a recent conviction of a US archaeologist for removing 17 artefacts from state land without applying first for a permit to do so. It is good to see an example of the commitment of UK detectorists to the idea of search permits. The introduction of conservation and research orientated permits on the European model would be a good way of countering knowledge theft and bad practice, and a logical extension of existing doctrines and needs. It is good to see support from the milieu at this early stage for the idea of future regulation to further the needs of effective collaboration and allowing metal detectorists to better contribute to knowledge generation.

Three Colombians arrested for trafficking Pre-Columbian artifacts

Police were tipped off to the activities of a gang of looters when artefacts were seized with a falsified export permit. Three Colombians were arrested last week in the town of La Cruz in southern Colombia, accused of trafficking in more than 850 archaeological relics. The three are believed to be members of the same family, and are accused of "illegally digging up (pre-Columbian) pieces and art". The artefacts were stored in one of the diggers' homes and were being sold to tourists and collectors, who were taking them out of the country.

Agence France-Presse, 'Colombia Busts Antiquities Traffickers', July 28, 2014.

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Orkney dig dispels caveman image of ancestors

THE image of our Neolithic ancestors as simple souls carving out a primitive existence has been dispelled.

A groundbreaking excavation of a 5,000-year-old temple complex in Orkney has uncovered evidence to suggest that prehistoric people were a great deal more sophisticated than previously thought.

The archaeological dig at the Ness of Brodgar, which is still in its early stages, has already thrown up discoveries that archaeologists say will force us to re-evaluate our understanding of how our ancestors lived.

The picture that has emerged so far points to a complex and capable society that displayed impeccable workmanship and created an integrated landscape. Read more.

Million-year-old tools unearthed in Spain

The discovery of stone tools dating back one million years in Spain’s Cuenca province sheds new light on the origins of humankind, researchers say.

The tools were left behind by the first humans who settled in the Iberian Peninsula, archaeologists Santiago David Domínguez and Míchel Muñoz told Spanish news agency Europa Press.

Most of the pieces discovered were hewn pieces of extremely hard quartzite known as ‘choppers’‏, which were used to cut wood and meat by prehistoric humans including Homo Ergaster and Homo Antecessor. Read more.

Dickinson College Commentaries

Sander Goldberg on the new Virgil Encyclopedia

The Bryn Mawr Classical Review has just published a fine and very positive review of the new three-volume Virgil Encyclopedia edited by Richard Thomas and Jan Ziolkowski. After praising it and describing its emphases in comparison with its Italian predecessor, the Enciclopedia Virgiliana, the reviewer, Sander Goldberg of UCLA, makes what has become something of a standard plea in reviews of such print reference works that they could be better done on line. But he makes it in a characteristically eloquent way:

Students in particular have already found an inviting and increasingly popular alternative, though the VE‘s editors are not kind to it: ‘a printed encyclopedia of this sort is also a world apart from the web. It offers material that does not have to be unearthed by sorting through a dung-heap in which pearls of truth are buried amid mistakes, exaggerations, and misunderstandings. The volumes have been vetted and edited for accuracy and clarity’ (lxx). I share their dedication to vetting and editing. Virgil may have had to search for pearls in a dung-heap, but his modern readers should certainly be spared that experience. Yet the editors invoke what is, or ought to be, a false dichotomy: an encyclopedia of this sort is a world apart from the web largely because no effort has been made to unite the accuracy and clarity of the former with the flexibility and accessibility of the latter. It is clearly not (or not yet) in Wiley-Blackwell’s interest to do so, but it is most certainly in our interest to have it done, and at some point the editors and contributors to projects like this one are going to have to demand that their labor, their expertise, and their sheer love of the enterprise be given a more progressive format. Their own dedication to the field, so richly displayed in these volumes, deserves nothing less.

Well said, Prof. Goldberg. He also points out that the current print publishing model militates against the detailed exploration of language:

Nuances of Latin vocabulary are not as easily grasped as what even a Google search will quickly supply regarding “Accius” and “Alcuin”, while a philological question that goes unanswered is all too likely in time to become a question that goes unasked. Other technical matters are not so fully ignored, but can be significantly compressed: details may then be difficult to locate and extract. WhereEV foregrounded such matters as ablativo assoluto, accusativi plurali in –is, eīs ed es, and accusativo alla grecaVE relegates them to entries on “syntax” and “morphology”, with other, briefer treatments in “Grecism” and “Hellenism, linguistic”. These are, I hasten to add, very good and useful entries, but the compressed attention to linguistic form and structure is again indicative of a shift away from the tools of close reading and the basic philological information that modern readers increasingly require to read Virgil in Latin with a depth of understanding that the editors may too readily be taking for granted in their audience.

These are problems that DCC is committed to tackling and solving to the extent that we can. In the coming weeks we will publish a database of Vergilian vocabulary, based on the superb work of Henry Frieze, with comprehensive, accurate word frequency information for the Aeneid supplied by LASLA. This tool will be part of a larger planned multimedia edition that will have as much linguistic and stylistic help as we can pack into it for readers who want to dig in to the Latin. More information about the overall plan is here and here. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you would like to get involved. I know for certain we will have our copy of the Virgil Encyclopedia handy as it develops!

British School at Athens News

BSA library and hostel closing announcement

The hostel of the British School at Athens will close on Monday 11th August and will re-open on Monday 22nd September 2014 The library will be closed between 5th - 22nd September The administration offices will be closed between 11th August and 15th August 2014

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

East Germany's Blood Art

East German officials systematically stole from the country's art collectors and sold their possessions to raise hard currency. Families have sought for years to reclaim the treasures or to obtain compensation.
It is a particularly ugly chapter in the history of communist East Germany (GDR). Political functionaries from the Communist Party, the SED, seized the property of collectors [...] to sell their possessions. The more desperately the country needed hard Western currency, the more often officials targeted East German art aficionados. Numerous spies combed the country looking for possible treasures, such as Baroque furniture, paintings, porcelain and silver. Then, the GDR's most important procurer of hard currency, Alexander Schalck-Golodkowski, would hawk the confiscated wares to rich clients in the West via the state-owned company Kunst & Antiquitäten GmbH (Art & Antiques).
Funnily enough, though, they did not find the "Leutwitz" Apollo allegedly standing right out in the open in the garden of a country estate just outside Dresden... One wonders how this was possible.

Rainer Erices, Nicola Kuhrt and Peter Wensierski, 'East Germany's Blood Art: No Justice for Victims of Regime's Treasure Hunt', Spiegel July 24, 2014.

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Medieval letter seal discovered in archaeological dig at Lufton

A SEAL used to decorate wax as it secured medieval letters has been discovered in the first week of an archaeological dig.

The artefact - thought to have been used between AD 1250 and 1400 - was discovered buried in a field off Thorne Lane as part of an excavation led by Dr James Gerrard, a lecturer in Roman archaeology at Newcastle University.

The inscription reads SOhOV ROBEN and the picture shows a hare riding a hound and blowing a hunting horn.

Mr Gerrard, formerly of Yeovil, said: “This is an exciting discovery and an example of medieval humour or wit. “Sohov is an Anglicised French hunting call like ‘tally-ho’ and Roben is a typical French name for a dog during the period - like Fido or Rover. Read more.

The Archaeology News Network

Armed looters and violence threaten Egypt's heritage

Egypt’s heritage sector is in disarray following revolution and the collapse of the country’s government in 2011, with armed gangs, looters and general destruction placing the country’s rich cultural history in peril, according to an eminent academic. Looters have destroyed several ancient Egyptian tombs [Credit: World News Reportt]A breakdown in security to culturally significant sites in Iraq in 2003 led to widespread looting and...

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Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Where will this stop?

How many hundred kilometres is it from Raqqa to Masada? Less than six hundred. Today it's the Tomb of Jonah, the Shrine of Seth. Is it conceivable that at some future date ISIS takes another few hundred square kilometres on the back of local strife and threatens Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, The Holy Sepulchre and other precious monuments not so far from where they are now? Israel is not exactly doing a great job at present of showing it can live alongside its Sunni neighbours and working very hard to earn a generation's resentment from much of the Moslem world. Let us remember that ISIS is also ISIL, and where that "Levant" is.

An ethnic map of the Levant (A World in

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Attic Inscriptions Online (AIO) and EAGLE News

Attic Inscriptions Online and EAGLE News:
Attic Inscriptions Online (AIO) and EAGLE are delighted to announce the launch, on Tuesday 29th July, of a package of new English translations, supporting papers and upgrades to AIO:
1. 153 new translations (by Stephen Lambert, P. J. Rhodes, Feyo Schuddeboom and Lina van’t Wout).
From the late-5th cent. BC:
(a) sacrificial calendar of Thorikos
(b) Athenian decree on the administration of the property of Kodros, Neleus and Basile (IG I84)
(c) accounts of payments from the treasury of Athena, 410-407? BC (IG I3 375 and 377, the “Choiseul marble” in the Louvre, Paris)
B. A selection of 27 important Athenian laws and decrees of 403-353 BC
C. A newly published inscription of ca. 340-325 BC honouring the historian of Attica, Phanodemos
D. The corpus of Athenian decrees of 229/8-198/7 BC, 121 in total, together with brief historical notes (IG II3 1, 1135-1255)
This brings the total number of translations on the site to 469.
2. Two new AIO Papers (4 and 5) and a revised version of AIO Paper no. 1. These discuss particular inscriptions, or groups of inscriptions, in greater detail:
S. D. Lambert, Notes on Inscriptions of the Marathonian Tetrapolis. AIO Papers 1.
S. D. Lambert, Inscribed Athenian Decrees of 229/8-198/7 BC (IG II3 1, 1135-1255). AIO Papers 4.
S. D. Lambert, Accounts of Payments from the Treasury of Athena in 410-407 ? BC (IG II3 375 and 377)
3. Improvements to translations and metadata already on the site
4. Upgrades, including:
(a) responsive design, which will facilitate use of the site with tablets and mobile phones and the addition of fuller notes to the translations
(b) XML and JSON outputs and API
(c) numerous other improvements to site design and functions.

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Renfrew Monument Destruction a War Crime

They destroy tombs
wearing masks
Lord Colin Renfrew has criticised the destruction of the Mosques and shrines of Iraq by ISIS militants and compares the loss to the destruction of an English medieval cathedral. He adds:
“It would seem that governments are powerless to intervene militarily. But the loss of Iraq's cultural heritage by deliberate action could be considered a war crime. The United Nations, advised by Unesco, could condemn it, and seek to proffer charges against the perpetrators. Such charges could be implemented when the political situation changes, as in the case of the charges against Slobodan Milosevic and other Serbian leaders recently,” he says. Meanwhile, Sam Hardy, an honorary research associaconflict antiquities.
te in archaeology at University College London, commented on the conservation challenges, saying: “Governments, IGOs [inter-governmental organisations], NGOs [non-governmental organisations] and others may be able to help by documenting looting and destruction (or supporting and processing locals' documentation), to enable prosecution and reconstruction, and by building capacity for conservation and reconstruction at the earliest opportunity in the post-war environment.” Hardy is documenting the damage on his blog,
Buying antiquities from the region without checking that they are not soiurced to ISIS is aiding and abetting war criminals, but utterly irresponsible collectors in the UK and US only laugh.
Gareth Harris, 'Blowing up Mosul's historic mosques is 'a war crime'...', Art Newspaper online: 28 July 2014.

Ancient Peoples

Gladiator figurine of bone or ivory Roman Britain, 1st-2nd...

Gladiator figurine of bone or ivory

Roman Britain, 1st-2nd century AD
From Lexden, Colchester

This figurine depicts a gladiator of the heavily-armedmurmillo class. Naked, but for a loin cloth and reinforced belt, he is armed with a large visored helmet, a short sword, a curved rectangular shield, metal greaves to protect his legs, and a heavy guard on his sword arm. Appropriately, a scene of gladiatorial combat is carved on the shield.

These gladiators were often matched with the retiariuswho carried only a net and trident. A pairing like this was intended to produce an entertaining contest between the lightly-armed, but highly manouevrable retiarius and the heavily-armed but less mobile secutor.

Source: British Museum

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Ministry of Works Signage Appreciation Society

This is wonderful, nostalgia. For those who appreciate the qualities of a good old-fashioned heritage sign.  Ministry of Works Signage Appreciation Society. Is there one for the old fashioned sixties guides and postcards too? I've got several box loads...

AIA Fieldnotes

Corsairs and Pirates in the Eastern Mediterranean, 15th-19th c.

Sylvia Ioannou Foundation
Friday, October 17, 2014 - 6:00pm - Sunday, October 19, 2014 - 5:30pm

read more

The Archaeology News Network

Prehistoric dairy farming at the extremes

Finland's love of milk has been traced back to 2500 BC thanks to high-tech techniques to analyse residues preserved in fragments of ancient pots. Corded Ware sherds [Credit: Finnish National Board of Antiquities]The Finns are the world's biggest milk drinkers today but experts had previously been unable to establish whether prehistoric dairy farming was possible in the harsh environment that far north, where there is snow for up to...

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DNA find reveals new insights into the history of cattle in Europe

A research team from the University of Basel made a surprising find in a Neolithic settlement at the boarders of Lake Biel in Switzerland: The DNA of a cattle bone shows genetic traces of the European aurochs and thus adds a further facet to the history of cattle domestication. The journal Scientific Reports has published the results. Metacarpus of a small and compact adult bovid found in Twann after sampling for genetic...

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Current Epigraphy

AIO launch

Attic Inscriptions Online (AIO) and EAGLE are delighted to announce the launch, on Tuesday 29th July, of a package of new English translations, supporting papers and upgrades to AIO:

1. 153 new translations (by Stephen Lambert, P. J. Rhodes, Feyo Schuddeboom and Lina van’t Wout).

From the late-5th cent. BC:

(a) sacrificial calendar of Thorikos

(b) Athenian decree on the administration of the property of Kodros, Neleus and Basile (IG I84)

(c) accounts of payments from the treasury of Athena, 410-407? BC (IG I3 375 and 377, the “Choiseul marble” in the Louvre, Paris)

B. A selection of 27 important Athenian laws and decrees of 403-353 BC

C. A newly published inscription of ca. 340-325 BC honouring the historian of Attica, Phanodemos

D. The corpus of Athenian decrees of 229/8-198/7 BC, 121 in total, together with brief historical notes (IG II3 1, 1135-1255)

This brings the total number of translations on the site to 469.

2. Two new AIO Papers (4 and 5) and a revised version of AIO Paper no. 1. These discuss particular inscriptions, or groups of inscriptions, in greater detail:

S. D. Lambert, Notes on Inscriptions of the Marathonian Tetrapolis. AIO Papers 1.

S. D. Lambert, Inscribed Athenian Decrees of 229/8-198/7 BC (IG II3 1, 1135-1255). AIO Papers 4.

S. D. Lambert, Accounts of Payments from the Treasury of Athena in 410-407 ? BC (IG II3 375 and 377)

3. Improvements to translations and metadata already on the site

4. Upgrades, including:

(a) responsive design, which will facilitate use of the site with tablets and mobile phones and the addition of fuller notes to the translations

(b) XML and JSON outputs and API

(c) numerous other improvements to site design and functions.

Dienekes' Anthropology Blog

Lethal mutations quantified

A very interesting new preprint on the arXiv (so it can be freely read). The founder population is the Hutterites. The key sentence:
Our approach indicates that on average, one in every two humans carries a recessive lethal allele on the autosomes that lead to lethality after birth and before reproductive age or to complete sterility.

arXiv:1407.7518 [q-bio.PE]

An estimate of the average number of recessive lethal mutations carried by humans

Ziyue Gao, Darrel Waggoner, Matthew Stephens, Carole Ober, Molly Przeworski

The effects of inbreeding on human health depend critically on the number and severity of recessive, deleterious mutations carried by individuals. In humans, existing estimates of these quantities are based on comparisons between consanguineous and non-consanguineous couples, an approach that confounds socioeconomic and genetic effects of inbreeding. To circumvent this limitation, we focused on a founder population with almost complete Mendelian disease ascertainment and a known pedigree. By considering all recessive lethal diseases reported in the pedigree and simulating allele transmissions, we estimated that each haploid set of human autosomes carries on average 0.29 (95% credible interval [0.10, 0.83]) autosomal, recessive alleles that lead to complete sterility or severe disorders at birth or before reproductive age when homozygous. Comparison to existing estimates of the deleterious effects of all recessive alleles suggests that a substantial fraction of the burden of autosomal, recessive variants is due to single mutations that lead to death between birth and reproductive age. In turn, the comparison to estimates from other eukaryotes points to a surprising constancy of the average number of recessive lethal mutations across organisms with markedly different genome sizes.


The Archaeology News Network

Violent aftermath for warriors at Alken Enge

Four pelvic bones on a stick and bundles of desecrated bones testify to the ritual violence perpetrated on the corpses of the many warriors who fell in a major battle close to the Danish town of Skanderborg around 2,000 years ago. Four pelvic bones on a stick [Credit: Peter Jensen, Aarhus University]Denmark attracted international attention in 2012 when archaeological excavations revealed the bones of an entire army, whose warriors...

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Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Open Access Journal: Zephyrus

ISSN: 0514-7336
ZEPHYRVS es una Revista científica internacional de PREHISTORIA y ARQUEOLOGÍA, editada por la Universidad de Salamanca. ZEPHYRVS aparece semestralmente. Las secciones de ARTÍCULOS, VARIA y NOTAS CRÍTICAS/RESEÑAS publican, respectivamente, trabajos originales de investigación, informaciones científicas novedosas o hallazgos importantes, producidos en diversas partes del mundo, y estados de la cuestión o recensiones de monografías de calidad, seleccionadas entre aquellas obras recibidas en la Redacción de la Revista.
See the full List of Open Access Journals in Ancient Studies

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Violent aftermath for the warriors at Alken Enge

Denmark attracted international attention in 2012 when archaeological excavations revealed the bones of an entire army, whose warriors had been thrown into the bogs near the Alken Enge wetlands in East Jutland after losing a major engagement in the era around the birth of Christ. Work has continued in the area since then and archaeologists and experts from Aarhus University, Skanderborg Museum and Moesgaard Museum have now made sensational new findings.

"We have found a wooden stick bearing the pelvic bones of four different men. In addition, we have unearthed bundles of bones, bones bearing marks of cutting and scraping, and crushed skulls. Our studies reveal that a violent sequel took place after the fallen warriors had lain on the battlefield for around six months," relates Project Manager Mads Kähler Holst from Aarhus University. Read more.

The Archaeology News Network

Tree rings reveal origins of mysterious World Trade Center ship

In July 2010, amid the gargantuan rebuilding effort at the site of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan, construction workers halted the backhoes when they uncovered something unexpected just south of where the Twin Towers once stood. The remains of the ship, which was tentatively identified as a Hudson River Sloop,  stretched 32 feet (9.75 meters) long. This photo shows what the hull looked like three  days after it...

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EAGLE News: Europeana Network of Ancient Greek and Latin Epigraphy

New translations, papers and upgrades to AIO launched

Attic Inscriptions Online (AIO) and EAGLE are delighted to announce the launch, on Tuesday 29th July, of a package of new English translations, supporting papers and upgrades to AIO:

1. 153 new translations (by Stephen Lambert, P. J. Rhodes, Feyo Schuddeboom and Lina van’t Wout).

A. From the late-5th cent. BC:

(a) sacrificial calendar of Thorikos
(b) Athenian decree on the administration of the property of Kodros, Neleus and Basile (IG I3 84)
(b) accounts of payments from the treasury of Athena, 410-407? BC (IG I3 375 and 377, the “Choiseul marble” in the Louvre, Paris)

B. A selection of 27 important Athenian laws and decrees of 403-353 BC

C. A newly published inscription of ca. 340-325 BC honouring the historian of Attica, Phanodemos

D. The corpus of Athenian decrees of 229/8-198/7 BC, 121 in total, together with brief historical notes (IG II3​ 1, 1135-1255)

This brings the total number of translations on the site to 469.

2. Two new AIO Papers (4 and 5) and a revised version of AIO Paper no. 1. These discuss particular inscriptions, or groups of inscriptions, in greater detail:
S. D. Lambert, Notes on Inscriptions of the Marathonian Tetrapolis. AIO Papers 1.
S. D. Lambert, Inscribed Athenian Decrees of 229/8-198/7 BC (IG II3​ 1, 1135-1255). AIO Papers 4.
S. D. Lambert, Accounts of Payments from the Treasury of Athena in 410-407 ? BC (IG II3​ 375 and 377)

3. Improvements to translations and metadata already on the site

4. Upgrades, including:

(a) responsive design, which will facilitate use of the site with tablets and mobile phones and the addition of fuller notes to the translations

(b) XML and JSON outputs and API to facilitate integration with EAGLE

(c) numerous other improvements to site design and functions.

The Archaeology News Network

Roman altars, temples excavated at Maryport

Altars dedicated to gods, one of the oldest temples of its era ever discovered, a mystery monument and the disparities between domestic and ritual habits in Roman times will be foremost in the minds of archaeologists in Cumbria between now and next summer, with a fourth season of work next to the Senhouse Roman Museum – the scene of a largely unexplored Roman fort and settlement – yielding an intriguing range of fresh...

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James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

Scholarship and Blogging

Larry Hurtado has expressed some frustration with some members of his blog audience. Here is an excerpt from his recent blog post on the topic:

Scholarly work intended to have an impact on the field isn’t done in blogging. The amount of data, its complexity, the analysis and argumentation involved, and the engagement with the work of other scholars that forms an essential feature of scholarly work all require more space than a few hundred words of a blog-posting, or a few paragraphs of blog-comment. So, it’s rather unrealistic (not to say bizarre) for some commenters to assume otherwise…

Blogging (at least this blog site) is for disseminating basic results of scholarly work, and alerting interested readers to publications where they can pursue matters further. But if you do want to engage the issues, you’re just going to have to do some serious reading . . . in books, and articles, and in the original sources on which scholarly work is based. The Internet and the “blogosphere” hasn’t really changed that.

In theory, there is no reason why a scholar could not write most of their thoughts and drafts of most of their scholarly works on a blog. A blog is a format, and so the content can literally be anything. But for most scholars who blog, that is not how we use them.

A blog post, like a popular magazine article, can be a great first point of entry into a field. But if you want to have a full grasp of the reasoning and evidence, then simply reading more such articles and blog posts will not suffice. It is time to read books. Reading even one scholarly book on a topic will provide you with detail that a dozen superficial online articles and blog posts will not provide.

I think that is Larry’s main point. Blogging is an attempt to distill, to mediate, to inform, but in ways that by definition summarize and omit much detail. If you want more detail, then by all means ask a question on a blog – but be prepared to be directed to someplace where the scholar in question has already addressed the topic. Expecting a scholar to type out their book for you in order to save you a trip to the library is obviously unreasonable, isn’t it?

Elsewhere in the blogosphere, Jona Lendering discussed Maurice Casey’s recent book about mythicism, and his conclusion was that, although Casey is right about most important things, he approaches the subject in a manner that will inevitably leave mythicists unpersuaded. In the process, the need for scholarship to be well-represented online is addressed.

If Casey’s and Ehrman’s books specifically aimed at addressing mythicism fail to persuade those committed to that particular form of pseudoscholarship, it would be wrong to think that these are the only scholars doing work relevant to the question. For instance, Chris Keith has been active in sharing his scholarship online. It would be easy for someone who is inadequately familiar with the field of New Testament to miss that work like Keith’s has relevance to the historicity of Jesus. If his conclusion about the Gospels contesting whether Jesus was scribally literate is correct, then the Gospels offer evidence related to the historical Jesus in the process. This is why it is so laughable when some suggest that the matter of Jesus’ historicity has not been addressed by scholars. There is lots of evidence that has the potential to be judged to support there having been a historical Jesus, and scholars have been looking at it closely for a very long time, and continue to do so.

Of related interest, Scot McKnight asked whether anyone still reads Bultmann, and whether they should. The answer is obviously “yes,” isn’t it? The Huffington Post piece on Wikipedia’s religion articles as battlegrounds also relates to the topic of online scholarship and dissemination of information.

David Meadows (rogueclassicism)


Are the British Museum planning on moving the Elgin Marbles

Various news articles give the impression that the British Museum will be moving some parts of the Parthenon Sculptures for an exhibition on ancient Greece taking place next year.

While the sculptures will not be leaving the museum at all during this process, it raises a couple of interesting points.

Firstly, the British Museum regularly makes the point that the sculptures can be seen free of charge in London – highlighting the fact that an admission fee is charged by the Acropolis Museum. However, large temporary exhibitions at the British Museum are never free – so you will no longer be able to see all the sculptures there for free while the exhibition is on.

Secondly, it has often been suggested in the past, that the sculptures are too valuable & fragile to be moved – that any handling might damage them. The fact that the British Museum is happy to move them around within the building shows that to move them to a more distant location would clearly be possible.

One assumes that Greece will probably be lending some sculptures to this exhibition. They should think long and hard so though, as to how they can also use their acto of generousity to highlight the British Msueum’s duplicity in this issue.

Parthenon Marbles in British Museum

Parthenon Marbles in British Museum

Daily Telegraph

Elgin Marbles moved for first time in over half a century
British Museum to move the Elgin Marbles for the first time since their installation in 1962 as plans announced for blockbuster exhibition on ancient Greece
By Anita Singh, Arts and Entertainment Editor
3:53PM BST 02 Jul 2014

The Elgin Marbles are to leave their current home at the British Museum. Unfortunately for those who believe the treasures should be returned to Greece, they are not going very far.

The marbles are being relocated from one part of the museum to another – the first time they have been moved in over half a century.

They will form the centrepiece of next spring’s blockbuster exhibition on ancient Greece, details of which were announced today.

Since 1962, the controversial treasures – officially known as the Parthenon sculptures – have been housed in the museum’s Duveen Galleries.

The new exhibition will be held in the new Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery, necessitating a delicate removals operation to ensure that the ancient marbles remain intact.

They have been the subject of a diplomatic stand-off since Lord Elgin took them from the Parthenon in Athens in the early 19th century.

George Clooney and Bill Murray ventured into the debate earlier this year while promoting The Monuments Men, a film about looted treasures.

Murray said the marbles have “had a very nice stay” in London but urged the British to “let art go back where it came from”. Clooney said it was “probably a good idea if they found their way back” to Greece.

The spring 2015 show will examine “the Greek body beautiful” and include various objects from the museum’s collection alongside loans from other institutions.

A spokesman said: “The ancient Greeks invented the idea of the human body in art as an object of beauty and a bearer of meaning. The exhibition will be a new look at the Greek body in art and thought and its connections with other world cultures.”

The show is the first in a series that will pull out key parts of the museum’s permanent collection and give them a moment in the spotlight.

It will be followed by a 2016 exhibition focusing on Assyria.

Plans were announced at the British Museum’s annual review, which detailed a record-breaking year in 2013.

There were 6.7 million visitors – up 20 per cent on the previous year, thanks in part to the Pompeii exhibition which became the third most popular show in the museum’s history, after Tutankhamun (1972) and a display of China’s terracotta army (2007).

The British Museum was second only to the Louvre in Paris as the most visited museum in the world.

The post Are the British Museum planning on moving the Elgin Marbles appeared first on Elginism.

Katy Meyers (Bones Don't Lie)

Finding the Missing Stories: The Prior Cemetery’s Unmarked Slave Graves

One of the more common (though often frustrating) questions we get in archaeology is “Why are you doing historic archaeology? We already know what happened”. To some extent, for eras […]

The Archaeology News Network

Mass grave from Spanish colonial era found in Bolivian mining city

Construction workers in Bolivia have stumbled upon a mass grave with the remains of hundreds of likely indigenous miners during the Spanish colonial era, a researcher said Saturday. A mass grave containing hundreds of human remains, probably indigenous to the  colonial era, were found in a neighborhood of the Andean city of Potosi  [Credit: The Nation]The workers found the remains this week as they started construction on a...

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Bill Caraher (The New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World)

Trash, Pollution, and the Rural World

I have really enjoyed getting back into some scholarly habits the past couple weeks. I have even engaged in this primitive activity where I open a bound stack of paper and read the words, in order, written on each. I’ve heard that some scholars call it reading.

I was pretty excited to read some of the contributions to the Stephanie Foote’s and Elizabeth Mazzolini’s little volume called Histories of the Dustheap: Waste, Material Culture, Social Justice (MIT 2012). The book collects a series of articles on the history of trash, waste, and rubbish, and grounds them, to varying degrees, in the cross-disciplinary nexus of material culture studies and critical theory. The book, however, avoids being too theory laden and manages to speak to practical issues as much as conceptual ones. This practical edge reflects a particular strength of recent work on the history of trash and discard.  

The article that caught my attention most in the volume was Phaedra Pezullo’s “What Gets Buried in a Small Town: Toxic E-Waste and Democratic Frictions in the Crossroads of the United States.” She looks at the politics surrounding the discard of PCB in Bloomington, Indiana and locates her treatment in a larger consideration of rurality and pollution in American (although arguably also in global) history. Marginal places, like the rural west (e.g. North Dakota or Alamogordo, New Mexico) become the settings for morally ambiguous practices. It is hardly a leap to apply many of these paper to my recent research in the Bakken Oil Patch in sparsely populated western North Dakota or role in excavating Atari games from a landfill at the edge of a small town in New Mexico. 

In fact, the long Western tradition of sparsely populated, “wild” places as the source of various kinds of corrupting influences (from the so-called Germanic hordes who supposedly destroyed the Roman world to the uncivilized “wildlings” in the Game of Thrones) has provided a context for activities that would be far more problematic in the more densely built up core. The willingness to treat the periphery in a different way also captures the binary logic of Western colonialism where behaviors and attitudes unacceptable in the core meet with ambivalence in colonial places.

This process of internal colonization follows the rough and irregular edge of a rural-urban divide across the United States. Pollution caused by extractive industries in, say, the Bakken Oil Patch in western North Dakota, is simply the “price of progress” for residents of the core and for small communities who see sacrifice as a road to deeper integration with the core and access to economic and political power. In Pezullo’s study of Bloomington, Indiana, the social, economic, and political power of companies like Westinghouse helped to protect the use of PCBs in manufacturing in Indiana even as the risks became visible and known to the community. The absence of strong counterweights to wealthy and powerful corporate interests pervades the Bakken as well.  

Pezullo’s observations on pollution in rural America could likewise be applied to the dumping of thousands of unsold and returned Atari video games in a landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico. This moment in time reflects the “remoteness” of Almagordo from the prying eyes of shareholders. The presence of White Sands missile range nearby only reinforces the suitability for this sparsely populated stretch of rural land for activities set apart from the settlements and interests of most Americans. 

The next paper in the book looked at the discard and collection of trash on the slopes of Mt. Everest. Further chapters considered the pollution present in minority neighborhoods impacted by hurricane Katerina in New Orleans. Most of the papers considers the social construction of discard practices and pollution as mediated through varying degrees of economic and political remoteness. For anyone interested in grasping better how trash fits into our modern (and arguably premodern) world, the studies contained in this volume are valuable reads. 

The Archaeology News Network

Greek Archaeological Council bans climbing contest at Meteora

The Greek Central Archaeological Council (KAS) has banned an international festival of climbers at the giant rock formations at Meteora, in Thessaly, central Greece. More than 1,000 climbers, journalists and tourists will be disappointed this year after  the Central Archaeological Council of Greece banned a climbing festival from  taking place in the rock formations of Meteora in Central Greece  [Credit:...

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Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Human Chain Saves Minaret, for Now...

Associated Press 'In Iraq’s Mosul, radicals unleash their vision' July 28 2014.
Residents of Mosul have watched helplessly as extremists ruling the northern Iraqi city blew up some of their most beloved landmarks and shrines to impose a stark vision of Islam. Next up for destruction, they feared: the Crooked Minaret, a more than 840-year-old tower that leans like Italy’s Tower of Pisa. But over the weekend, residents pushed back. When fighters from the Islamic State group loaded with heavy explosives converged on the site, Mosulis living nearby rushed to the courtyard below the minaret, sat on the ground and linked arms to form a human chain to protect it, two residents who witnessed the event told The Associated Press on Monday. They told the fighters, If you blow up the minaret, you’ll have to kill us too, the witnesses said. The militants backed down and left, said the witnesses, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation from the militants. But residents are certain the militants will try again. Over the past two weeks, the extremists ruling Iraq’s second largest city have shrugged off previous restraint and embarked on a brutal campaign to purge Mosul of anything that challenges their radical interpretation of Islam.

Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

Il Monferrato: Innovazione per il Territorio

mappa-monferratoCosa significa digitalizzare il patrimonio culturale di un territorio? Probabilmente imparare a conoscerlo meglio, ma anche a metterlo a disposizione di tutti in modo diretto, trasparente e interattivo. Se ne parla il 2 e 3 agosto prossimi nell'ambito del Convegno "Le mappe del Monferrato", sponsorizzato da Sinergis, società del gruppo Dedagroup ICT Network.

The Archaeology News Network

Great apes face extinction: conservationist Jane Goodall

The world's great apes face extinction within decades, renowned chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall warned Tuesday in a call to arms to ensure man's closest relatives are not wiped out. A chimpanzee at the zoo in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, 2014  [Credit: AFP/Sia Kambou]"If we don't take action the great apes will disappear, because of both habitat destruction as well as trafficking," Goodall told AFP in an interview in Nairobi. In the...

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Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)


A Latinometer™ gives you a reading on how others read you. Insert your prose into the slot below and find out!

20% and below: You see the world in concrete terms
20% to 35%: You sound educated
35% to 60%: You sound pretentious
60% and above: You are probably lying

If you do not like the way you sound, you can change!

Liz Gloyn (Classically Inclined)

Medea at the National Theatre

The National Theatre’s new production of Medea has been getting positive reviews, including a considerable spread in the Evening Standard (although I think the comment about Creon being under-used misses the point of how Greek tragedy works). The script is a new version by Ben Power – unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be much out there about how he’s worked with the text, although he’s doing a Platform talk on the process that I’m going to try to get to. It’s not entirely faithful to the original Greek – the nurse becomes conflated with the pedagogue and says a closing epilogue, for instance – but after teaching the play in the autumn , I could hear plenty of echoes of the original Greek in there. The language is powerful and imaginative, although quite terse and quickly paced, and keeps ancient elements like calling on the gods without trying to modernise them.

The production has an interesting approach to music – it is accompanied by new compositions from Goldfrapp, which manage to be compelling and eerie at the same time. The chorus actually sing their choral interludes, which is rather wonderful and very effective; they also dance, although I have to say that while I can see the spasmodic choreography as mirroring the emotional and psychological convulsions of the plot, it was a bit difficult to take it entirely seriously. The dance of the princess as she tried to remove the poisoned dress worked much better from that perspective. I think the musical soundtrack was one of the strongest elements of the production – it underlays everything, very much like a film score (I shall come back to that point), and so intertwines in the audience’s consciousness to very strong effect. It’s a very subtle score, enhancing emotional response without dictating it too obviously; I noticed it with a jolt in the closing scenes, not because it did anything differently, but because my brain suddenly noticed it was there! This might have more to do with my immersive attitude to theatre-going, but I can’t remember a recent production that’s handled its music this well that hasn’t been musical theatre or opera.

The chorus themselves wear dresses covered in a shabby-chic floral print that echo the woods which are presented at the back of the stage (hypothetically ‘outside’ the house in which the action takes place); it’s not until the end of the play that it becomes clear that the patterns of flowers on their dresses echo the bloodstains on Medea’s dress after she has murdered her children. The handling of the chorus is one of those particularly difficult challenges for modern productions; here, the director has them fade on and off stage, meaning they can be read either as ‘real’ characters or as figments of Medea’s imagination, which was a convincing approach. They also made good use of a boxed-off room at mezzanine level, in which the wedding of Jason and Creusa was played out – that let the audience see the progress of the party (and Creusa’s eventual death-dance) without detracting from the action in the ‘main’ house.

The production is particularly interested in drawing out the psychological interest of Medea’s journey as a character – the program includes notes from Edith Hall (who has a long-standing interest in using modern psychology and criminology to explore some of the most shocking elements of Greek tragedy) and Helena Kennedy QC (who writes from her position as an advocate in criminal cases where a woman has murdered her children). This leads to a powerful performance from Helen McCrory, who stretches her whole body and vocal range to get us right into the moments of break and strain, and right over into the cracking. This does mean that there are no winged chariots at the end of the play – Medea walks on and off stage with the bodies of her children, hallucinating (or so it would seem) a company of her ancestors surrounding her, interpreting the close of the play as delusional. It’s one way of doing it, and in keeping with the production’s overall agenda, although we could debate its relationship to the original text. Another aspect that the production brings out well is the mid-life crisis element of Jason’s decision to marry a ‘new bride’. It’s there in the Greek, as I rediscovered when teaching it, but it’s not always an element that gets bought out in productions. We tend to forget that Medea has had two children and so must be at least mid-twenties, while the young princess is – well, young. The National’s production moves Medea up to our conception of middle age and makes Creusa her early twenties, because ancient Greek marriage ages are not entirely comfortable for modern audiences, but that brings out the broader cultural possibilities of the clash rather well.

A small niggle – I never expected Medea’s line that she would rather fight on the battle line three times rather than give birth once to get a laugh. Even with Power’s exaggeration of the number (a thousand, I think), I still wasn’t laughing. There were a couple of lines like that, where I sat and was surprised by the fact they got a laugh. I didn’t even think McCrory’s delivery was particularly comic. I don’t know if it’s just the fact I’m so used to the play that the humour passed me by, or if it was the laughter that temporarily relieves the tension as we know we’re going towards the ending of child-murder.

Which brings us neatly to another element that I thought helped make this a particularly successful production. As we left the theatre, G turned to me and said “that was very influenced by The Shining, wasn’t it?” Now, I’ve never seen The Shining (and have no intention of doing so), but apparently the production as a whole deliberately evokes the cultural intertext of the horror film, as the production’s staff director explains. As soon as I realised this was deliberate, a hell of a lot of things fell into place, and I realised just how clever this production is. Most superficially, it explains the aesthetics of the set – peeling wallpaper, 1960s cabin furniture, all that good evocative ‘we’re in the woods and somewhere out there is a man with an axe’ scene-setting stuff, not to mention the actual wood outside. It explains the film music feel of Goldfrapp’s contribution – if this is Medea staged as a horror movie, there must be a score behind it.

And it explains the meta elements of the production in the Nurse’s prologue and epilogue. As the play opens, she tells the audience (‘you watching in the dark’) that some stories have to be told, and we all know how this one will end; at its close, she reiterates that there was only one way this could end, calls on the audience again, and observes that all hope is dead. At first, I figured this was a fairly standard ‘look, it’s a play!’ comment, but within the framing of the horror film intertext, it becomes a lot more interesting. Of course we know how it will end – because we all know how horror films always end, we can spot the victims in the first ten minutes, and we know how it’s going to play out. It’s not just about the fact we know how Medea goes, it’s the genre as a whole. There’s also an additional question there which film studies people think about a lot, which is the implication of the viewer in watching these sorts of things and taking enjoyment in them. Why do we take pleasure in watching violence? It’s something that, for instance, Michael Haneke’s work explores by pushing films set in more conventional ways to the boundaries of what one can watch comfortably (and I certainly can’t), deliberately challenging the sort of film that allows the viewer to enjoy violence without considering its reality. While the classic horror films on which this production draws don’t commit, for instance, the gross failures of taste that I understand typify the Saw franchise, employing that visual rhetoric does ask us what we are getting out of watching this woman prepare to murder her children. But the most important impact is that reminder that of course we know how this will end – we are well-educated consumers of horror, and Medea is no exception.

Some of you may remember my thoughts on the National’s Antigone. That is, of course, a far more difficult play to get right in any context (see also my thoughts on Julian Anderson’s Thebans). But I think that this production was far more successful in its attempt to speak to modernity. The Antigone was firmly embedded in a specific historical incident, namely the war against terror and the hunt for Osama Bin Laden; while I thought it was effective at the time, were it to be staged now (only a couple of years on) it would feel decidedly dated. This Medea has chosen to instead to interact with a much more deeply embedded and subtle cultural script, which speaks to us in the audience even if we are not aware of it. Much of this production’s power springs from the productive intersection between this modern phenomenon and the Greek original, and I would urge you to see it if you possibly can.


Not in London? The National Theatre Live program will be showing Medea in cinemas from 4th September.