Maia Atlantis: Ancient World Blogs

Tom Elliott (

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April 23, 2014

ArcheoNet BE

Kroniek van een huis: Stijn Streuvels en het Lijsternest

Schrijver Stijn Streuvels bouwde in 1905 het Lijsternest, een eigen stek in Ingooigem. Hij zou er zijn leven lang aan blijven werken. De Provincie West-Vlaanderen kocht de schrijverswoning in 1977 en ontsloot ze voor het publiek. De fotocollectie, een deel van de boeken en talrijke documenten werden toen naar de Provinciale Bibliotheek overgebracht. Naar aanleiding van de opening van het gerestaureerde Lijsternest loopt in de Provinciale Bibliotheek in Brugge vanaf zondag een tentoonstelling met collectiestukken en foto’s over het Lijsternest en de lotgevallen van de inboedel.

Foto’s van Stefan Dewickere, gemaakt in opdracht van de Provincie, gunnen de bezoeker een kijk in het gerestaureerde huis.

Praktisch: de tentoonstelling ‘Kroniek van een huis’ loopt van 27 april tot 7 juni 2014 in de Provinciale Bibliotheek Tolhuis in Brugge. Openingsuren zijn van ma-vr (9.00-12.30 u. / 13.30-17.00 u.) en op zaterdag (9.00-12.00 u.). Naar aanleiding van de heropening en de tentoonstelling in de Provinciale Bibliotheek Tolhuis verschijnt een speciaal nummer van het provinciaal erfgoedtijdschrift ‘In de Steigers’ (2014-1). Meer info op

Archaeology and Arts: Αρχαιολογία Online

The Talisman: A Critical Genealogy

The Talisman: A Critical Genealogy is part of the College Art Association 103rd Annual Conference, which will take place on February 11-14, 2015 in New York City.

The post The Talisman: A Critical Genealogy appeared first on Αρχαιολογία Online.

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Annotated Corpus of Luwian Texts

Annotated Corpus of Luwian Texts
This is a pilot version of the Annotated Corpus of Luwian Texts (ACLT). So far it comprises the analysis the texts included in the published volumes of the Corpus of Hieroglyphic Luwian Inscriptions (CHLI) by J. David Hawkins. This initial phase of this project has been completed with the assistance of a research grant of the Corpus Linguistics Program sponsored by the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Dr. Ilya Yakubovich acted as the principal investigator of the project, whose team consisted of Dr. Timofey Arkhangelskiy, Mr. Sergey Boroday, and Dr. Alexei Kassian. The extension of the corpus to other Luwian texts is planned for the near future, with the eventual goal of preparing a corpus-based Luwian dictionary. The lexicographic work on the Luwian texts is further facilitated by a Humboldt Fellowship tenured by Ilya Yakubovich at the Philipps Universität Marburg in 2013–15. Special thanks go to Martien Dillo for his corrections and suggestions.

A special feature of the Luwian corpus, which sets it apart from the electronic corpora of better-known languages, is the absence of an up-to-date Luwian dictionary in hieroglyphic transmission. The compilation of the corpus could hardly be separated from deciphering the Anatolian Hieroglyphs and interpreting the Luwian lexicon. This is why the interface of the corpus contains the provisional Luwian glossary, whose lemmata can be used as entries for automated search. Ilya Yakubovich takes the entire responsibility for the interpretative transliteration conventions adopted in the glossary. The narrow transliteration used in the corpus generally follows the system of the CHLI but incorporates several modifications reflecting the recent progress in the Luwian Studies.

The present corpus is not meant to represent a final product. The corrections of both linguistic and technical errors will be warmly welcomed. For linguistic issues, please contact Ilya Yakubovich ( For possible problems with computer interface, please contact Timofey Arkhangelskiy ( If you wish to cite the new interpretations offered in the corpus, you can give credit to the ACLT (together with its URL).

Jim Davila (

Queen Helena of Adiabene's sarcophagus?

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: The Tomb of Queen Helena of Adiabene. Steven Notley and Jeffrey P. García disagree with the widely accepted position that the Aramaic-inscription-bearing sarcophagus from the "Tomb of the Kings" in Jerusalem belonged to Queen Helena, although they do think that she was buried there in a different chamber.

For more on Queen Helena and that sarcophagus, see here and here.

Antiquity Now

Bon Appetit Wednesday! Savory Strawberry Soup

Tiny, red and packed with flavor, this delectable little fruit has deep historical roots. Heart-shaped and fragrant, the strawberry has inspired poets, writers, painters and chefs with its plump perfection. William Allen Butler said it best, “Doubtless God could have … Continue reading

Jim Davila (

Samaritan Passover 2014

SLIDESHOW: A Passover ceremony at Mount Gerizim (Haaretz). The Samaritan Passover runs on a slightly different calendar from that of the Jewish Passover.

Past posts on Samaritan Passover are here and links.

More doubts about the GJW

MARK GOODACRE: More doubts surface on the Jesus Wife Fragment. The doubts are raised by Owen Jarus at LiveScience: 'Gospel of Jesus's Wife': Doubts Raised About Ancient Text. The problem is that, according to an estate representative, the now dead West German man who supposedly provided the papyrus was not an antiquities collector and did not own papyri. Not conclusive, but interesting and worth following up further.

Mark also links to a recent video interview with Karen King here.

Background on the GJW is here and links.

Bryn Mawr Classical Review

2014.04.36: The Settlement and Architecture of Lerna IV. Lerna: results of excavations conducted by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 6

Review of Elizabeth Courtney Banks, The Settlement and Architecture of Lerna IV. Lerna: results of excavations conducted by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 6. Princeton: 2013. Pp. xx, 484. $150.00. ISBN 9780876613061.

2014.04.35: Image and Myth: A History of Pictorial Narration in Greek Art. (Translated by Joseph O'Donnell; first published 2003)

Review of Luca Giuliani, Image and Myth: A History of Pictorial Narration in Greek Art. (Translated by Joseph O'Donnell; first published 2003). Chicago; London: 2013. Pp. xix, 335. $65.00. ISBN 9780226297651.

2014.04.34: Archives et bibliothèques dans le monde grec: édifices et organisation, Ve siècle avant notre ère - IIe siècle de notre ère. BAR international series, S2536

Review of Gaëlle Coqueugniot, Archives et bibliothèques dans le monde grec: édifices et organisation, Ve siècle avant notre ère - IIe siècle de notre ère. BAR international series, S2536. Oxford: 2013. Pp. xi, 168. £31.00. ISBN 9781407311548.

Archaeology and Arts: Αρχαιολογία Online

Educating the Future Pharaohs

Egyptologist claims that beyond the general assumption that the kings of ancient Egypt and their kin could read and write, there is also actual material evidence to prove it.

The post Educating the Future Pharaohs appeared first on Αρχαιολογία Online.

Samuel Hardy (Conflict Antiquities)

caution in discussion of violence amidst propaganda, provocation and fear

Because of local community choices, I have been reluctant to discuss violence against the cultural property of minority communities in Ukraine. Difficulty and disruption in reporting and discussion There is a lot of propaganda, and the evidence is sometimes limited or difficult to confirm, which makes it difficult to report events in the first place. […]

Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

Aperte le iscrizioni a TECHNOLOGYforALL 2014

technologyforall2014coverSono aperte le iscrizioni a TECHNOLOGYforALL 2014, il Forum dell’Innovazione dedicato alle Tecnologie per il Territorio, per la Città Intelligente, per i Beni Culturali. TECHNOLOGYforALL si svolgerà a Roma il 4 e 5 giugno 2014. La partecipazione alle tre Conferenze è completamente gratuita. E' in fase di definizione il rilascio di Crediti Formativi da parte dei competenti Ordini Professionali.

Vai al modulo di iscrizione sul web.

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Central Searchers' Claim Untrue?

Central Searchers metal detectorists claimed yesterday that "their" FLO "is only interested in the good stuff not broken artefacts and roman grots". Julie Cassidy says this is untrue. She tweets:
statement is demonstrably false, esp the part about not recording broken artefacts. Only need to look at database to see that
It just so happen that the top dozen or so artefacts in the list of those recorded by Ms Cassidy are substantially complete, but we'll take her word for it that the Northampton FLO does not turn away fragments of objects. As for the number of "Roman grots" recorded, the same list shows that in her time with the PAS, she's recorded 595 Late Roman Bronzes and barb-rads (what I assume is meant by the term). Hardly enough to fill a coin zapper's kilogramme bag of "unsorted".

PAS Database not a True Sample? Coin Finds Ignored?

A few weeks ago I was discussing a presentation by Helen Geake who was suggesting that the manner in which the information about archaeological finds made by the public differed from the range of artefacts discovered by professionals in excavations was significant in archaeological terms. She was interpreting this in terms of deposition processes. I pointed out that the PASD data was selective because collectors pick up finds differently from archaeologists (what is archaeological evidence is not always a "collectable"). A metal detectorist from central England highlights another problem. Gill Evans of Central Searchers organizes metal detecting rallies commercially, she says that the reason why very few of the finds from these events seem to be getting into the PAS database is that "our FLO has a standing invite to our digs but we never see her". In any case, according to Ms Evans' observations, the FLO "is only interested in the good stuff not broken artefacts and roman grots". If this is what is indeed happening, this is an amazingly un-archaeological manner of selecting data for the database, on completeness and missing out a whole category of archaeological evidence for site use - in what way can one study the Roman coinage of Britain using the PAS database if the basic record is missing unknown numbers of items negatively selected out for their "grottiness'? How is that criterion even defined in archaeological terms?

So what would be the effect of such practices on studies such as Philippa Walton's: Rethinking Roman Britain: Coinage and Archaeology (Moneta Monograph No. 137)? How can one "rethink" anything when part of the database one is relying on is skewed from the outset? In what manner can this 'non-grot-factor' be compensated for in the study of the material?  Can it?

The MOU Comedy Chorus Begins

The first 13 public comments on the Egypt MOU are up on the US Regulations website. Two of them  by Rick St Hilaire and Damien Huffer are worth reading. The other 11 are by  lost limp-minded souls who think Ancient Egyptians produced coins, coins which they study and the whole world would be a far poorer place if these home-grown scholars of "Ancient Egyptian coins" could  not get their hands on "Ancient Egyptian coins". Oh dear, Amenhotep dirhems, Hatshepsut denars and the boy-king Tutanknhamun's minimissimi will have to be studied by those who know more about such things than these pathetic numpties singing in vacant chorus from the ACCG's Tompa's songsheet. Mind you one of them counts himself as the greatest numismatic scholar in the whole of Montana, what Warren Esty does not know about the die links of coins of the First Intermediate Period is probably not worth knowing.

Vignette: A chorus of, for the most part, ridiculous looking people

More from UK's Detectorists on PAS' Selectivity in Recording

I pointed out a comment the other day about the PAS FLO not recording certain items brought to them by metal detectorists, despite their eligibility for inclusion on the PAS database. It seems this notion does not fit with the cosy world view of academics who support the PAS, so somebody [who later turned out to be Philippa Walton] wrote back disgruntled that I was giving such comments an airing on my blog. It seems to me however that the voice of finders seeing what happens to the objects they bring in for recording really should not be ignored, for two reasons. The first the obvious one, they are the only ones who know what they've found and what they took in for reporting, and what then happened. The second reason is that if untrue information is being spread among the metal detecting community as fact, it should be a task of PAS outreach to investigate the claims, verify the facts and then rectify and clarify. None of which will they, of course, actually do.

One of the people who knows this is the member of a metal detecting near all of us (Dr Philippa Walton too)  "Alloverover" (Sat Jan 12, 2013 10:40 pm ), who writes:
PAS used to record anything you took to them over 300 years old, small bits of buckle, a broken brooch etc, the smallest thing as long as it could be ID,ed, [...] They (in my recent experience) have now totally changed their ethos due to lack of money, resources time and interest of FLO's ( the standard of whom seem to have dropped considerably, not surprising considering the remuneration on offer ). In my most recent attempt to record finds via an FLO, i was told that they have to now prioritize what they record, so of 9 or 10 items i wanted to record 5 or 6 were deemed unworthy of the effort, these items of insufficient interest included a couple of celtic units, i dont even think the young lady realized what they were until she was told.
and this is before the introduction of the karaoke FLOs. As All-over says "good grief", appalling. Then a little later we hear the same thing again from "Chris D" (Sun Jan 13, 2013 4:20 am): 
Yes quiet agree about the PAS scheme [...] Recently i get the impresion that they are only really interested in recording treasure cases, hoards or something significant they can put there name to, rather than the buckles, buttons,single hammered coins, iron medieval horse shoes etc which all help to build up the bigger picture
Member "Geoman" has a more detailed explanation of how this is happening and why (Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:12 pm):
The FLO's seem to have been advised by their local ? managers to be selective in what they record which begs the question why are some items of more interest than others ? Remember all FLO's have local managers who are frequently based in the County Archaeological Dept and will have their own agendas as to what the FLO is to do. The London PAS office has a very limited input to FLO management. I would assume that they wish to have details of older archaeological material which once passed onto the County HER can be used to feed into the many Higher Level Stewardship applications. 
Geoman has a well-known fixation with HLS agreements and has a conspiracy theory as to why selective recording is happening. If the PAS is selecting material due to lack of time and funding to get through the masses of material brought in and lying around their offices for months on end unrecorded (another frequent topic on the detecting forums which anyone going there will be aware of), there must be an internal policy document setting out nationally-standardised guidelines for this. What does it say? What are the statistics of this?

Heritage Bytes

DINAA Poster Symposium Sneak Peek

DINAA-posterHere’s the first of several posters about the DINAA project that will be presented at the SAAs this week in Austin.

About the Poster: Yes, this poster is printed on fabric. With a tip from a colleague on Twitter, we discovered Spoonflower, a company that prints on fabric. What a result!! The fabric poster is on wrinkle-free material, the colors are accurate, and the printing is as sharp as if it were on paper. The poster folds up to the size of a wallet, so you can literally pack this thing inside a shoe in your luggage. And the best part about it is that it only cost $25 and arrived a week earlier than scheduled. Wow! Here is the blog post with simple instructions on how to make your own.

About the Research: The poster’s content is equally as exciting. The DINAA project publishes the most comprehensive record of settlement in North American spanning the Pleistocene through recent historical past. Site definitions and descriptions from project partner SHPOs are used as open government data to form a robust base layer of information. As of the spring 2014, our team has successfully integrated and published records created by state government officials documenting over 270,000 archaeological sites from eight states east of the Mississippi. The data include rich chronological, legal, and environmental metadata used by government officials and the research community alike. The poster discusses the challenges of integrating and visualizing data at vastly different scales—from the scale of continents to the scale of individual object records at a given site. It also presents how the project is dealing with visualizing both space and time, with time as a type of metadata that presents special complications in navigating and visualizing archaeological data.

Attending the SAA meeting? Come see more at the DINAA Poster Symposium [session 81]- Thursday, 24 April, 2-4 pm (Ballroom F)

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Deep Digger Dan Goes Nazi

"I love soldiers and dressing up as one"
Showing complete disregard for the discussion that was going on in collecting circles (too) about "Nazi War Diggers", immensely popular metal detectorist iconDeep Digger Dan in his latest video (Apr 14, 2014) is wearing a Nazi helmet, saying how much he "loves soldiers", but trying ineffectually to hide the left side where we see a large blast hole in it. In general, holes like that indicate that somebody died in that helmet which was then dug up among scattered human remains on a WW2 battlefield. Did DDD dig that up himself, or did he buy it from somebody who did?

"Ignore the hole, please, it's not what you think".
Anyway, he gaily announces in the film that you'll see him walking own the street in Flamborough wearing this helmet. That's nice for him that he lives in the UK where (unlike here where I am) he'll not run the risk of being arrested for it. But then many men of his age (including some remembered by people still alive) died a few decades ago to prevent people walking down the streets of an English town wearing such a helmet. What kind of people are these metal detectorists?

Ancient Art

Double-chambered vessel with monkey. Veracruz, ca. 600-900 (Late...

Double-chambered vessel with monkey. Veracruz, ca. 600-900 (Late Classic).

Veracruz sculpture is among the most admired of ancient Mesoamerica yet its study has long been subsumed under the aegis of the highly visible Teotihuacan and Maya civilizations. Veracruz refers to the central Gulf Coast of Mexico and has served loosley as a stylistic designation for all art eminating from the region. Its art reflects the influences of both Teotihuacan and Maya as well as a distinct aesthetic that developed locally.

[…] Seemingly free from the constraints of their neighboring super powers, Veracruz ceramicists sculpted naturalistic, highly animated human figures, animals and supernaturals. Facial expressions and disctinct hand gestures are the most striking features of figural ceramics. This double-chambered vessel combines a simple flask with the body of a monkey, and can aptly be described as an effigy bottle. The elaborate scroll patterning in the cartouches is most closely associated with the art of Classic Veracruz, where the vessel is said to originate.

Courtesy of & currently located at the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, USA, via their online collections. Accession Number: 48.2774.

April 22, 2014

Mary Harrsch (Passionate About History)

DVD Review: Civil War: The Untold Story (of the western theater)

A history resource article by Mary Harrsch © 2014

Next week RLJ Entertainment will be releasing the new DVD series "Civil War: The Untold Story".  I know many of you Civil War buffs may be wondering how there could be anything about the Civil War that hasn't been told before, but this series, unlike a lot of others I have seen, focuses on the battles of the "west" which the producers claim actually led to the ultimate Union victory.

Now as someone from Oregon, I hardly think of Tennesssee as "the west" but it was, as far as the scope of the Civil War was concerned.  This series closely examines the battles of Shiloh, Stone's River, Vicksburg, Chattanooga and Chickamauga as well as Sherman's infamous march across Georgia that wasn't as one sided as many other programs have led us to believe.

These conflicts were particularly interesting to me because back in 1993 when my husband and I were helping my daughter move to the east coast, we visited almost all of the national military parks where these battles occurred on our way home, although we visited the sites in reverse, starting our journey at Fort Sumpter then traveling south to Savannah before swinging east to the site of the Confederate prisoner-of-war camp at Andersonville.  Then we drove on to Atlanta then Chatanooga, stopping at the Chickamauga National Battlefield, probably the largest military park on our trip.  Pressing on we drove to Stone's River then Franklin and finally visited our last Civil War cemetery at Shiloh.  The visitor's centers had excellent presentations about the battles, particularly at Chickamauga where the Park Service had just installed a new multimedia theater-in-the-round-type exhibit.  So receiving a review copy of this DVD set was like reliving that unforgettable trip!

The series begins with a discussion of the economic history of slavery.  I didn't realize that slavery was on the decline in the late 18th century until Eli Witney invented the cotton gin.  I remembered how, as a girl, I studied famous inventors like Eli Witney and his cotton gin.  Back in the 50s, though, school teachers did not point to the cotton gin as one of the primary reasons for the outbreak of the Civil War.
The documentary explains that, although the cotton gin was a labor-saving device, it made the cotton cleaning process so efficient that it made the growth of cotton far more profitable than almost any other crop.  Cotton exports jumped from 500,000 pounds in 1793 to 93 million pounds in 1810.  Cotton became as important to the U.S. economy as oil is today.

So, there was a land rush to develop more and more acres into cotton fields.  This corresponded to the increasing acquisition of land during the "manifest destiny" period of U.S. growth.  But, politically, there were sharp differences in opinion about whether newly admitted states would then have to legally sanction slavery viewed by some as necessary for cotton development.

The program was quite candid in pointing out that northerners, with the exception of a few passionate abolitionists, had no real objections to slavery as a labor strategy.  Researchers stated simply that white northeners didn't appreciate the racial "pollution" slavery introduced.   Apparently, successful black individuals in the north,  like Solomon Northup portrayed in "12 years a slave", were an extremely rare exception.

19th century Caricature of the so-called Hottentot
Venus.  Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
I had never heard about the so-called Hottentot Venus, a rather large African woman named Saartje Baartman, who was sold into slavery.  She was exhibited by showmen in London and Paris because of large fatty deposits on her buttocks.  After her death in 1815, famous French anatomist Georges Cuvier, performed an autopsy on her body, claiming it clearly showed that Africans were more closely related to such primates as orangutans and monkeys, than humans.  These types of studies not only reinforced attitudes of racial superiority in the north but the opinion that slavery actually served to civilize such unfortunate individuals in the south.

I was also surprised to learn that four slave states actually stayed with the Union throughout the Civil War.  Slavery was still legally recognized by the federal government and the Emancipation Proclamation only applied to the states in rebellion as a war measure intended to cripple the Confederacy.

The other military goal accomplished by the Emancipation Proclamation was that it successfully prevented the involvement of foreign nations in the struggle.  Britain and France actually considered supporting the Confederacy, since they imported most of the American cotton crop that was sold for export. But, many Europeans opposed slavery as an institution so Lincoln's directive along with a significant Union victory at Antietam successfully influenced foreign powers to maintain a "hands off" policy.

The series then shifts to an examination of military objectives of the Civil War.

From a military standpoint, reclamation of the important economic highway of the Mississippi River was paramount to defeating the Confederacy.  Yet, it appeared to me that Confederate leaders seemed to think there was more importance in victory at the high profile battles along the eastern seaboard (the Civil War version of winning hearts and minds) than in protecting the vital commerce artery of the Mississippi River in the west.  The most famous Confederate generals such as Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were assigned to those eastern theaters of war, while the battle for control of the Mississippi was relegated to Generals Albert Sidney Johnston, Braxton Bragg and John Bell Hood, names much less familiar to people like me that have not studied the Civil War as intensely as I have battles of the ancient world.

Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia
I use the word relegated as if Johnston, Bragg and Hood were lesser commanders but that was not necessarily the case.  Johnston was an experienced combat veteran, fighting and directing engagements in the Texas War of Independence, the Mexican-American War, the Utah War and the American Civil War.  Johnston was actually considered to be the finest general officer in the Confederacy by Confederate President Jefferson Davis.  But this did not prevent Davis from distributing most of the Confederate resources to the eastern front.

Johnston had to supply his troops by conducting raids and engaging in maneuvers that made it appear that he had larger forces than he actually did.  My additional research revealed that this was compounded by the assignment of support staff that were either incompetent or frequently intoxicated.

Despite all of these obstacles, Johnston still managed to pull off a massive surprise attack against Ulysses S. Grant on the first day at the battle of Shiloh, despite being delayed for three days by adverse weather.  Grant just couldn't imagine Johnston would leave his well fortified position at Corinth to confront Grant in the field.  The surprise maneuver almost worked, with Confederates overcoming bitter Union opposition at the "Peach Orchard" and the "Hornet's Nest".  But, Johnston, charging back and forth ahead of the advancing Confederate line, was shot behind the right knee, possibly by one of his own soldiers .  The bullet cut a major artery and Johnston, seemingly unaware of the seriousness of the wound, bled to death.  The three days lost to bad weather would also prove fatal.

The epic struggle at the "Hornet's Nest" on the first day of the battle of  Shiloh.
Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

By the second day, Grant, with control of the vital Tennessee River,  received reinforcements bringing total Union troops to 45,000 men to the Confederates'  remaining viable troops estimated at only about 20,000.  To make matters worse, Confederate General Beauregard, unaware of the Union reinforcements, pressed Grant, only to be driven back.  Later counterattacks were eventually repulsed as well. So, Confederate forces finally had to fall back to the heavily defended railroad center at Corinth.

It makes you wonder if Grant had faced the more formidable Johnston on the second day and the battle had occurred on schedule, if the outcome would have been different.

Later in the series as the researchers discussed the campaigns of Sherman in Atlanta, I was surprised to learn about the Confederate successes at Kennesaw Mountain and the more aggressive resistance in Atlanta after command was given to General John Bell Hood.  As my husband and I did not visit any Civil War museums in Atlanta, I only remember Hood as a Confederate general who had suffered severe casualties at the battle of Franklin (where we did stop) in an action sometimes known as the "Pickett's Charge of the West".

Confederate General Braxton Bragg.  Image
courtesy of Wikipedia.
The other Confederate general I enjoyed learning more about was Braxton Bragg.  When I first saw a picture of him at the Chickamauga National Battlefield Visitors' Center, I thought he looked a lot like John Brown with his bushy brows and rather wild look in his eyes.  But this surly officer orchestrated what has been called the greatest Confederate victory in the Western Theater, defeating Union General William S. Rosecrans at the battle of Chicamauga.

As for other political issues of the Civil War, I had never read about George McClellan's run against Abraham Lincoln for president or that if Sherman had not taken Atlanta at the time he did, Lincoln may have lost to powerful and vocal northern supporters in favor of a truce that would have ended in two separate nations.  So I found all of this background information fascinating.

As for the production quality of the DVD set, I thought the reenactment sequences were very well done with very life-like special battle effects and the cinematography was excellent.  Elizabeth McGovern's narration was articulate and quite empathetic.  I much preferred her voice to the rather harsh newsbroadcaster voiceovers I have heard in other presentations.

The series will premiere tonight (April 22, 2014) on a number of public television channels and the DVD set will be available for purchase next week.  I highly recommend it!

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Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Oriental Institute’s Integrated Database

Oriental Institute’s Integrated Database

This is an on-going project that aims to provide public access to information about the diverse research and object-based collections managed and cared for by the Oriental Institute.

Users now have the ability to view and download photographs of objects, associated movie files, and PDFs through the Oriental Institute's collection search. The homepage for the collection search is:

If you would like to browse some of the records with images and PDFs attached, here are a few links (after clicking the link, click on the title field of the record to get the details view and see all associated

1. Book with multiple PDFs

2. Object with 48 images

3. Object with 2 images

4. Object with 8 images

5. Book with image and PDF

6. Book with 1 image

7. Object with 226 images

8. Object with 2 images and 1 video

Compitum - publications

Sébastien Morlet, Christianisme et philosophie. Les premières confrontations (Ier-VIe siècle)


Sébastien Morlet, Christianisme et philosophie. Les premières confrontations (Ier-VIe siècle), Paris, 2014.

Éditeur : Livre de poche
Collection : Antiquité
264 pages
ISBN : 9782253156505

Dans l'Antiquité, christianisme et philosophie se font face comme deux voies d'accès à la vérité : l'une, par le moyen de la foi, l'autre, par la recherche rationnelle. Les rapports du christianisme et de la philosophie sont cependant plus complexes. Les néoplatoniciens accordent une place grandissante aux éléments extra-rationnels et en viennent à ne plus considérer la raison comme la seule voie d'accès au savoir. Inversement, les chrétiens reconnaissent une certaine vérité dans la philosophie et lui accordent un rôle préliminaire dans l'acquisition de la sagesse. Souvent convaincus que la révélation biblique est la source du savoir grec, les chrétiens présentent leur religion comme la seule « vraie philosophie ». Ce livre retrace les grandes lignes d'une confrontation qui joua un rôle capital dans la formation de la doctrine chrétienne comme dans la transmission de la culture gréco-romaine. Il amène à réviser certaines idées reçues sur le christianisme et son rapport à la raison.


Source : Amazon

Dienekes' Anthropology Blog

Neandertal populations were small (+ differences along the Neandertal/sapiens evolutionary lineages)

PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.1405138111

Patterns of coding variation in the complete exomes of three Neandertals

Sergi Castellano et al.

We present the DNA sequence of 17,367 protein-coding genes in two Neandertals from Spain and Croatia and analyze them together with the genome sequence recently determined from a Neandertal from southern Siberia. Comparisons with present-day humans from Africa, Europe, and Asia reveal that genetic diversity among Neandertals was remarkably low, and that they carried a higher proportion of amino acid-changing (nonsynonymous) alleles inferred to alter protein structure or function than present-day humans. Thus, Neandertals across Eurasia had a smaller long-term effective population than present-day humans. We also identify amino acid substitutions in Neandertals and present-day humans that may underlie phenotypic differences between the two groups. We find that genes involved in skeletal morphology have changed more in the lineage leading to Neandertals than in the ancestral lineage common to archaic and modern humans, whereas genes involved in behavior and pigmentation have changed more on the modern human lineage.


ArcheoNet BE

Archeologen aan de slag tussen Walem en Tisselt

Naar aanleiding van de aanleg van een nieuwe waterleiding tussen Walem en Tisselt, in de buurt van Mechelen, voeren archeologen van BAAC Vlaanderen momenteel een onderzoek uit langs het geplande tracé. Over een lengte van bijna tien kilometer werden een boorcampagne en een proefsleuvenonderzoek uitgevoerd. De boringen leverden drie steentijdlocaties op, de proefsleuven drie grondsporensites. Laatstgenoemde zijn reeds opgegraven. Voorlopig zijn de sporen gedateerd in de ijzertijd en Romeinse periode.

Op de steentijdlocaties in Heffen wordt momenteel nog opgegraven. Binnen een uitgezet grid werden proefvakjes van 50×50 cm op regelmatige afstand van elkaar uitgegraven in laagjes van 5 cm. Deze monsters werden gezeefd. Op basis van de resultaten van deze eerste fase werden meerdere vakjes uitgezet die volgens dezelfde methode worden onderzocht.

De huidige opgravingszone bevindt zich op een hoge zandkop aan de oever van een paleomeander. Al in 1963 werd ten noordoosten van deze locatie een opgraving uitgevoerd. Deze leverde onder andere een Romeins afvalpakket en een ijzertijdvondstlaag op met een ‘menggroep aardewerk’. Bovendien werden 22 stukken silex gevonden.

De hedendaagse opgraving heeft tot nu toe eveneens een grote hoeveelheid scherven opgeleverd. Het merendeel is handgevormd en lijkt met name in de metaaltijden te dateren. Een klein deel is gedraaid en dateert in de Romeinse periode. Bovendien wordt met name de spreiding van het silexmateriaal in kaart gebracht. Op basis van de hoeveelheden en spreiding lijkt de opgraving zich in de randzone van een steentijdvindplaats te bevinden. Het materiaal bestaat grotendeels uit vers uitziend debitagemateriaal, hoewel ook (fragmenten van) kleine geretoucheerde werktuigen zijn gevonden.

Het onderzoek kwam vorige week ook aan bod op de regionale tv-zender RTV. Bekijk de reportage op

Mary Beard (A Don's Life)

Catiline -- redivivus


It is the beginning of the Cambridge term (officially starting today) -- but there is a funny lull between the students returning, doing their first piece of work, and things really getting going for ME. I'm having the Newnham first and second years around on Sunday night (and we are going to have a drink or two and watch a Roman tv programme -- not mine -- and talk about the point etc).  I am looking forward on Thursday to re-meeting one of my excellent Berkeley graduates (from back when I was doing the Sathers), who is passing through Cambridge. And on Friday Lin Foxhall is coming from Leicester to give the Jane Harrison lecture at college (on the public face of archaeology). Plus dinner (no free port!).

Meanwhile I am getting the first chapter of the new book in my head.

I am starting with Catiline in 63 BC (before going back to Romulus). That's partly because we know such a lot about his so-called "conspiracy", from contemporary accounts and later (it doesnt make it simple to unpick, but there is a richness there which I think will grip people to the cutting edge of Roman history).

But I am also interested in the long literary history of Catline's up-rising, and the different ways it has been appropriated in modern political history. That goes from Ibsen's radical democratic freedom-fighter to Ben Jonson's ambivalent Guy Fawkes look-alike -- or Dante's villain.

It's striking that the phrase -- "Quousque tandem.." -- that Cicero used at the very beginning of his first attack on Catiline (as it is "published" in the First Catilinarian) has had such a long life. It gets quoted and requoted in the ancient world (Sallust in his essay on the conspiracy neatly puts it into the mouth of Catiline himself, and Livy conscripts it to add colour to an early Republican conspiracy). But it survives as a political (and cutural) slogan right up to the present day. If anyone knows anything more recent than Hungarian protests a few years ago, I'd love to know.

So it seems a good incident and text to dwell on, when launching thoughts about the continuing resonance of Roman history. Hope it works.

Sorry by the way: Typepad has been a bit iffy these last few days; hope you have got on the blog.



Archaeological News on Tumblr

Historic Ottoman globe mysteriously disappears in Istanbul

A 174-year-old marble globe in the middle of Istanbul’s historical peninsula went missing last month, daily Milliyet reported on April 22.

The globe came from a shrine, ordered to be built by Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecid for his father Mahmud II in the Çemberlitaş neighborhood in 1840. The Ottoman-Armenian royal architects Ohannes and Bogos Dadyan completed the shrine in empirical style, including a 2.5-meter high drinking fountain on one of its corners, which was also decorated with a 70 cm-wide marble globe.

Officials from the Directorate of Shrines cannot explain how the globe was lost. Read more.

Ancient Cave in Spain Could Hold Origins of the Study of Astronomy

A cave located on Spain’s Canary Islands, in what was probably the aboriginal region of Artevigua, could reveal an unsuspected knowledge of astronomy by the ancient islanders since it marks equinoxes and solstices, while inside it the light recreates images related to fertility.

The cave was used as a temple and, besides its astronomical function, the light creates in its interior a mythological account of fertility, the likes of which exist nowhere else in the world,” archaeologist Julio Cuenca, who has investigated the area since the 1990s, said.

“It’s like a projector of images from a vanished culture,” Cuenca told Efe, adding that during a six-month period the light creates phallic images on cave walls that are covered with engravings of female pubic triangles. Read more.

Open Access Archaeology

Open Access Archaeology Digest #396

Get some Open Access (free to read) Archaeology articles here:

A further note on the Biggar find

Notes of an Examination of ‘The Devil’s Dyke’, in Dumfriesshire.

Revisiting the Little Sycamore Site: An Early Period Millingstone Site along the Santa Monica Coastline

Learn more about Open Access and Archaeology at:

Archaeology Magazine

Chili Peppers First Cultivated in Central Mexico

DAVIS, CALIFORNIA—Chili peppers were first domesticated in central-east Mexico, according to plant scientist Paul Gepts of the University of California, Davis, who led a study of genetic, archaeological, linguistic, and archaeological evidence. Traces of the easily-transported chili pepper, or Capiscum annum, has been found in Romero Cave in eastern Mexico, and from Coxcatlán Cave, located further south. These two samples are between 7,000 and 9,000 years old. “By tracing back the ancestry of any domesticated plant, we can better understand the genetic evolution of that species and the origin of agriculture—a major step in human evolution in different regions of the world,” Gepts told Live Science.

Ancient Peoples

Limestone ancestor bust These busts were used to contact the...

Limestone ancestor bust

These busts were used to contact the ancestors in the privacy of the private home. These statues were placed in niches inside the home and offerings could be made there to the ancestors. Because these ancestors were already in the afterlife, they could work on behalf of an individual who gave offerings. However, an upset ancestor could also make a decendent sick or give him or her bad fortune. 

Egyptian, New Kingdom, 19th dynasty, 1320 - 1237 BC. 

Probably from Upper Egypt, Thebes, Deir el Medina. 

Source: metropolitan Museum

Ancient Art

This exquisite Saxon brooch, excavated by Wessex Archaeology,...

This exquisite Saxon brooch, excavated by Wessex Archaeology, was found in a grave on the Springhead site, Kent. 

The design is cloisonné with garnet insets. Located within close proximity to this brooch during excavation were the remains of the cloak/robe.

These photos were taken prior to conservation, and are courtesy of Wessex Archaeology.

Archaeology Magazine

Sediment Cores Reveal Lead Levels in Rome’s Water

LYON, FRANCE—Sediment cores taken from ancient Rome’s harbor basin at Portus and a canal that connected the port to the Tiber River suggest that lead levels in the city’s water supply varied over time from 14 to 105 times higher than the levels found in natural spring water. The different isotopes of lead in the sediments showed that some of it had occurred naturally in the river water, and some of it had come from lead that was imported and used in the city’s system of piping. Yet Francis Albarède of Claude Bernard University thinks that the amount of contamination was insufficient to cause problems in Roman society. “It’s marginal. You would start being worried about drinking that water all your life. Even though they probably did not get degenerate, as some people say, or even get more violent, lead pollution might have been something to be concerned about,” he told The Guardian

Robotic Vehicle Revisits Wrecks in Gulf of Mexico

GALVESTON, TEXAS—A robotic vehicle is transmitting images of three early nineteenth-century shipwrecks in the Gulf of Mexico to scientists at Texas A&M University. The largest of the three ships was armed with cannon and may have been a privateer that had taken control of the other two vessels. The presence of a chronometer on one of the wrecks suggests that no one escaped the sinking vessel alive, since sailors leaving the ship would have taken the valuable piece of equipment with them. The researchers have also spotted a telescope. “Right here, with the glass lenses broken out of it, probably because of pressure when the ship sank,” Steve Gittings of National Marine Sanctuaries explained to KHOU. “It’s hard to say what happened. All three ships are certainly within visual sight of one another. It’s entirely likely that they all could’ve gone down in the same storm,” added marine archaeologist Kim Faulk. To read more about the project, see ARCHAEOLOGY's feature article "All Hands on Deck."

David Connolly, Maggie Struckmeier, and Felicity Donohoe (Past Horizons: Adventures in Archaeology)

Epigenetic changes that distinguish us from Neanderthal and Denisovan

Hebrew University researchers (from left to right): Prof. Eran Meshorer, Dr Liran Carmel and David Gokhman. Image: Juan SchkolnikScientists have reconstructed, for the first time, the epigenome of the Neanderthal and the Denisovan in order to make a comparison with modern humans

Archaeology Magazine

Two Ancient Egyptian Tombs Found at Oxyrhynchus

MINYA, EGYPT—Ahram Online reports that two tombs dating to the 26th Dynasty have been unearthed in the ancient city of Oxyrhynchus by a Spanish-Egyptian team of archaeologists. The first tomb, which contained a bronze inkwell and two small bamboo pens, belonged to a scribe whose mummy is well preserved. Coins and mummified fish were also recovered. Oxyrhynchus, Greek for “sharp-nosed fish,” is known for the papyrus texts dating from about 250 B.C. to A.D. 700 that were first discovered there in the late nineteenth century.

Peter Tompa (Cultural Property Observer)

Demolish Historic St. Catherine's Monastery?

A retired Egyptian army general who founded Egypt's special operations unit has enlisted Egyptian courts in an effort to demolish the historic St.Catherine's Monastery in the Sinai as a security threat.  While hopefully this effort will be a non-starter, it should give pause to our State Department and thinking members of the archaeological community that such a high ranking officer is taking such a stand.

Of course, any MOU with Egypt will effectively give the "State Department Seal of Approval" to the Egyptian military's control over artifacts from Egypt's past and unleash US Customs to repatriate undocumented artifacts back to Egypt's military rulers.

So again, one must ask is any MOU really about conservation or control and will it really protect Egyptian artifacts or award them to those whose interests lay elsewhere?

Ancient Peoples

Marble portrait of a young roman woman 37.4 cm high...

Marble portrait of a young roman woman

37.4 cm high (14 3/4 inch.) 

Roman, Imperial Period, 98 - 117 AD. 

Source: Metropolitan Museum

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Open Access Books from the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology

Open Access Books from the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology
The Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press is the academic publishing division of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA, a premier research organization dedicated to the creation, dissemination, and conservation of archaeological knowledge and heritage. The Cotsen Institute is also home to both the Interdepartmental Archaeology Program and the UCLA/Getty Master's Program in Archaeological and Ethnographic Conservation. Since 1975, the Cotsen Institute Press (formerly the Publications Unit) has served to preserve cultural heritage through the documentation and publication of scholarly archaeological research. Specializing in producing high-quality academic titles, our press publishes approximately 10 volumes per year in nine series, including a new digital series hosted on eScholarship. Acquisitions are monitored by an Editorial Board composed of distinguished UCLA and external faculty and are accepted based on the results of critical peer review. For more information about our press, please visit our Web site

Cotsen Digital Archaeology series

There are 3 publications in this collection, published between 1991 and 2011.
Kansa, Eric C.; Kansa, Sarah Whitcher; Watrall, Ethan: Archaeology 2.0: New Approaches to Communication and Collaboration, 2011
Abstract: How is the Web transforming the professional practice of archaeology? And as archaeologists accustomed to dealing with “deep time,” how can we best understand the possibilities and limitations of the Web in meeting the specialized...
Wendrich, Willeke: The World According to Basketry, 1999
Abstract: This book was originally published in 1999 by the Leiden University, Center of Non-Western Studies. This is an unabridged re-publication of the 1999 edition, and the one-hour movie that is an integral part of the book. You...
Wendrich, Willemina: Who is afraid of basketry, 1991
Abstract: A guide to recording basketry and cordage for archaeologists and ethnogrpahers...

Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press

There are 11 publications in this collection, published between 1986 and 2005.

Bawden, Garth; Blom, Deborah E.; Bourget, Steve; Buikstra, Jane E.; Heckman, Andrea M.; Janusek, John Wayne et al.: Us and Them: Archaeology and Ethnicity in the Andes, 2005
Abstract: This volume brings together a corpus of scholars whose work collectively represents a significant advancement in the study of prehistoric ethnicity in the Andean region. The assembled research represents an outstanding collection of theoretical and...
Beaubien, Harriet F.; Emery, Kitty F.; Henderson, John; Joyce, Rosemary; Longstaffe, Fred L.; Masson, Marilyn A. et al.: Maya Zooarchaeology: New Directions in Method and Theory, 2004
Arnold, Jeanne E.; Bradford, Katherine; Boyd, Brian F.; Conlee, Christina A.; Dowdall, Katherine M.; Erlandson, Jon M. et al.: Catalysts to Complexity, 2002
Abstract: When the Spanish colonized it in AD 1769, the California Coast was inhabited by speakers of no fewer than 16 distinct languages and an untold number of small, autonomous Native communities. These societies all survived...
Brown, Linda A.; Gillepsie, Susan D.; Grove, David C.; Manzanilla, Linda; McAnany, Patricia A.; Plunket, Patricia et al.: Domestic Ritual in Ancient Mesoamerica, 2002
Abstract: Although the concepts and patterns of ritual varied through time in relation to general sociopolitical transformations and local historical circumstances in ancient Mesoamerica, most archaeologists would agree that certain underlying themes and structures modeled the...
Beaudry-Corbett, Marilyn; Begley, Christopher Taylor; Bove, Frederick J.; Boxt, Matthew A.; Dillon, Brian D.; Fowler, William R. et al.: Early Scholars' Visits to Central America, 2000
Loring, J. Malcolm; Loring, Louise: Pictographs & Petroglyphs of the Oregon Country, Parts I & II, 1996
Sease, Catherine: A Conservation Manual for the Field Archaeologist, 1994
Abstract: Conservation treatments and techniques for the archaeologist in the field, emphasizing how to conserve an excavated object before it is taken to a trained conservator offsite. Safety procedures and conservation supplies and materials are recommended....
Blouet, Brian; Bökönyi, Sándor; Davidson, Donald; Elster, Ernestine S.; Evans, Robert K.; Gimbutas, Marija et al.: Excavations at Sitagroi: A Prehistoric Village in Northeast Greece Volume 1, 1986

David Connolly, Maggie Struckmeier, and Felicity Donohoe (Past Horizons: Adventures in Archaeology)

Were Ancient Romans poisoned by lead?

Roman lead pipes. Image: Ad Meskens, Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA-3.0Some historians argue that lead poisoning plagued the Roman elite with diseases such as gout, and may even have hastened the Empire's fall

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Open Access Publications: Giza Occasional Papers

 [First posted 8/6/09, updated 12/17/10, updated 22 April 2014]

Giza Occasional Papers
The Giza Occasional Papers are the preliminary reports on AERA’s field seasons at Giza.
Hard copies of Giza Occasional Papers are now available from Casemate Academics. PDF versions can be downloaded below.


Summarizing our 2009 Field Season, GOP 5 consists of 244 pages, 29 color plates and six large foldouts, including two isometric drawings, a profile drawing and three maps.
Click here to download GOP5Click here to download Table of Contents
Foldout 1Foldout 2Foldout 3Foldout 4Foldout 5Foldout 6


Excavations (KKT)
Archaeological Science
Saqqara Laser Scanning Survey

Click here to download GOP 4Click here to download Table of Contents


Capital Zone Walk-About 2006
2006 Geophysical Season at Giza
Giza Geomorphological Report
Giza Laser Scanning Project

Click here to download GOP 3Click here to download Table of Contents


Area Clearing and Mapping
Excavations in 2005
Mapping Late Period Burials

Click here to download GOP 2Click here to download Table of Contents


2004 Excavation
New Areas-Soccer Field
Wall of the Crow (N)

Click here to download GOP 1Click here to download Table of Contents

Ancient Peoples

Terracotta oil lamp  4cm high and 9.2cm wide.  Roman, Late...

Terracotta oil lamp 

4cm high and 9.2cm wide. 

Roman, Late Imperial Period, 3rd century AD. 

Source: Metropolitan Museum

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Avestan Digital Archive (ADA)

 [First posted in AWOL 26 July 2012. Updated 22 April 2014]

Avestan Digital Archive (ADA)
The Avestan Digital Archive (ADA) seeks to be a digital archive containing all Avestan manuscripts spread all over the world. The Avesta, the holy book of the Zoroastrian religion, was last edited at the end of the 90s of the 19th century by the German scholar K. F. Geldner. We claim that presently a new edition is needed. The main reasons are:
  • In the last decades some manuscripts Geldner did not have access to have become available
  • Geldner did not check by himself all the manuscripts used for his edition. For some of them he had access only to copies or collations by other colleagues. This was the source of several mistakes in his edition
  • the methods of textual criticism have strongly changed since Geldner and many methodological decisions of Geldner seem today unacceptable. The most important one is undoubtedly that he does not record systematically all the variae lectiones (or a selection according to well established criteria), but only the variants he considered important for the establishment of a sure text
  • even when he checked the manuscript by himself and recorded the variae lectiones, he made mistakes more often than expected
For all these reasons it has become a true need to provide the scholars with reasonably sure readings of the extant Avestan texts. But a new edition of the Avesta is a huge task: probably more than two hundred manuscripts scattered all over the world have to be checked. Many of them are not available even as microfilms and are only accessible through long stays in Indian libraries. Also the purchase of microfilms from European libraries is not the best way for single researchers to get access to the manuscripts: a lot of them are needed, so that the undertaking quickly gets too expensive and the result is a not easily manageable amount of microfi lms. A printed publication of such an amount of manuscripts is no more feasible, above all because of financial reasons. So it is easy to understand that yet nobody has seriously tried to undertake a new edition of the Avesta, or al least a serious review of Geldner's edition. 

In order to solve this problem we have conceived the ADA project. This project seeks, on the one side, to find, to collect and to digitalize all the extant Avestan manuscripts. On the other hand, the ADA Project is developing a tool to provide all these manuscripts with indexes of the passages and to make them thus available on the web for researchers and for the general public. The electronic tool will allow an easy checking of all the manuscripts containing a concrete passage. This research tool can be useful not only for the Old Iranian studies, but also for the textual criticism based on manuscripts in other languages and fields of research. Furthermore, the ADA project seeks to review the manuscript transmission of the Avestan texts in all its aspects, a task which presupposes the complete ga thering and availability of the manuscripts.

ArcheoNet BE

Agentschap Onroerend Erfgoed zoekt 20 jobstudenten

Het agentschap Onroerend Erfgoed is op zoek naar 20 gemotiveerde studenten voor verschillende vakantiejobs tijdens de zomervakantie en september. De taken waarvoor jobstudenten worden gezocht, zijn zeer gevarieerd: ondersteuning bij het invullen van verschillende databanken, tekenen van archaeologica, archief- en bibliotheekwerk, ondersteuning bij de communicatie van het agentschap, vormgeving van communicatieproducten… Je kunt alle functieprofielen en het inschrijvingsformulier downloaden op Solliciteren kan tot en met 2 mei.

Samuel Hardy (Conflict Antiquities)

the Memorial to Victims of the Holocaust in Sevastopol has been desecrated again

The Memorial to Victims of the Holocaust (памятник Жертвам холокоста) in Sevastopol has been desecrated again (опять). Vandals painted out the word “victims” (and related grammar) so that its name read “Monument to the Holocaust”. The monument, which has been desecrated (осквернили) ten times in eleven years (since its establishment), commemorates the Nazis’ massacre of […]

Samuel Hardy (Conflict Antiquities)

Ukrainian law on transfer of cultural property for safety

Ukraine is continuing preparations for the protection of its cultural heritage. Its Cabinet of Ministers has empowered its Ministry of Culture to keep cultural property abroad, when it would otherwise be at risk of loss or destruction (знищення) – for example, when it would be in occupied territory or endangered areas (such as the Crimean […]

Francesca Tronchin (Classical Archaeology News)

Under The Streets Of Naples, A Way Out For Local Kids : NPR

Under The Streets Of Naples, A Way Out For Local Kids : NPR:

Teens in Naples collaborate on the restoration of early Christian catacombs in their city.

When Don Antonio Loffredo arrived here about a decade ago, he found three levels of frescoes, chapels and cubicles beneath the neighborhood’s trash-strewn streets. It’s a burial ground that dates to the 2nd century, the largest of its kind in southern Italy. But back then, tourists only wound up in this part of town by mistake.

Loffredo saw an opportunity. “We took kids with one foot in the streets and one foot in the church, so to speak,” he says. Some of them even came from mafia families. “I can say this because your audience is far away,” he adds. “It could easily be the case that the sons of a boss are here, and one of them has nothing to do with the mafia”.

Loffredo says crime families often feel trapped by a life they were born into, and are eager to find alternatives for their kids. So he put them to work fixing up the seriously neglected catacombs. Mud and dirt covered much of the floor; an old lighting system left much of the artwork in shadows; and a store room had been stuffed with waste and old equipment from a nearby hospital. All of it had to go.

"When we started they were 16-year-olds. Now they’re in their 20s, and they’re paid because they are entrepreneurs. It’s not hard to offer alternatives to crime if you’re creative and available," he says. And after fixing up the Catacombs, they went to work in management, the ticket office, and as guides.

Antiquity Now

A Place Called Home: Earth Day, Ecopsychology and an Urban Legend

What is this connection with the earth that we humans cling to so tenaciously?  As a species we obviously are dependent on the air to breathe, the water and soil that nurture us, the sun whose fiery presence holds us … Continue reading

Samuel Hardy (Conflict Antiquities)

Ukraine-Belarus cross-border crime and security

Belarus and Ukraine are working on Strengthening Surveillance and Bilateral Coordination Capacity along the Common Border between Belarus and Ukraine (SURCAP Phase II), funded by the European Union (EU), supported by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD). Hopefully, it will ‘enhance their common border security’ (since […]

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

Selective Rejection of Evidence

Young-earth creationists say that housecats, tigers, and all felines descended from one pair of cat “kind” after the flood, positing ultra-fast evolution in order to do so.

They also say that humans could not have descended from a common ancestor with chimpanzees and other primates even over millions of years.

The hypocrisy is astounding, as is the fact that anyone accepts these young-earth creationist claims.

Here are links to more information about the genomes of felines and primates (including us).

Note too that what young-earth creationists deny is something that the Bible itself says. Ecclesiastes 3:18 says:

I said to myself concerning humans, “God has surely tested them in order for them to see that they are but animals.”

A number of translations insert a word such as “like” to avoid the meaning of the Hebrew text being conveyed to readers. And so conservative Evangelical Bible translations often reinforce the entrenched opposition to science by obscuring in translation those things in the Bible that might help readers.


BiblePlaces Blog

Pictorial Library New Features: Maps (Part 1)

(Post by A.D. Riddle)

The Pictorial Library of Bible Lands is an extensive collection of high-resolution photographs. The photos come two ways: in folders of jpeg images and in pre-made PowerPoint presentations. With the massive revision of the collection some brand new features were included which were not in previous versions, and I would like to highlight two of them. The first of these new features is maps which are included in each PowerPoint presentation.

A total of 43 maps were created for the revision of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands. There are altogether 383 PowerPoint presentations among the 18 volumes of the Pictorial Library, and about 77% of these contain maps. (The exceptions are volume 15—no map was made of the city of Rome—and volumes 16, 17, and 18, which do not lend themselves to mapping.)

The Pictorial Library contains all the familiar sites, but it also has many biblical and historic sites that are not as well known. The maps are provided to help the user find where a site is located, without having to consult a separate source. Virtually every site and geographic feature which appear in the Library's photographs are marked on the maps. This results in maps with a mixture of both modern place names and ancient ones. The places which appear in any given PowerPoint are marked by a red star on the map(s) next to the name so that users can quickly locate that particular site or feature.

The maps use two color schemes to encode information: one scheme for hypsometry and one scheme for labels. First, lower elevations are colored green, intermediate and higher elevations are colored various shades of brown, and the highest elevations are colored white. This is called hypsometric tint, where the change in color represents change in elevation. Green does not necessarily represent areas with vegetation, brown does not necessarily represent arid regions, and white does not necessarily represent snow.

Second, the labels and linework also have a color scheme. The white labels are used for cultural features, that is, features which have been created by human beings, such as settlements, tumuli, or temples. Yellow labels and lines indicate routes, either natural or man-made; green labels indicate geographical features (plains, valleys, mountains); and blue labels indicate water features (rivers, lakes, springs). The yellow dots indicate cities, springs, or other sites such as aqueducts or tumuli.

One thing that cartographers have to consider is changes in coastlines and lakes over time. Will the map represent a historical state, the modern one, or perhaps a mixture of both? The maps in the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands show the modern coastline and the modern Sea of Galilee and Lake Huleh. But the shape of the Dead Sea, as with the majority of maps of Bible lands, dates to 1975 and before. If we had used the modern shape of the lake, only the northern basin would be blue, because today the southern basin is dry due to lowering of the lake level.

The maps are an important new feature in the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands and are one of the ways in which we have tried to make the collection more user-friendly. In a follow-up post, we will describe some of the steps in the map-making process.

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

Moral Codes Don’t Age Well

The quote is from a post by Fred Clark’s blog Slacktivist, “When moral codes codify immorality.” Here is a longer excerpt:

Whenever you question the “traditional morality” of any moral code that’s not aging well, you’ll be accused of lawless anarchy and antinomianism. “So you think anything goes” they say. They don’t mean it as a question, so they won’t wait for, or allow, an answer. And thus they’ll never understand the point.

The point isn’t that we should once and for all destroy all moral codes. The point is that we should perpetually be destroying them so that we can perpetually replace them.

Moral codes are things that perish with use. They have an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-imposed piety and severity, but they don’t age well. Test everything, hold onto the good.

Click through to read the rest.

Bill Caraher (The New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World)

Joel Jonientz

Yesterday we lost Joel Jonientz, one of my closest friends, collaborators, and neighbors. He was 46 and has a wife and three small kids. It sucks.

Untitled 429

Joel was a remarkable guy. He had vast knowledge ranging from painting, drawing, and comics (his scholarly specialty) to music, technology, baseball, football, and (while he refused to discuss it as a Seattle sports fan) the NBA. He knew how to use a circular and a table saw (and rebuilt my front porch while I helped). Whenever there was something to do, he’d remind me: he could read how to do it on the internet, and he had a masters in FINE arts. He could go from moderating a panel of poets, artists, and writers at the UND Writers Conference to complaining about an offseason move by the Seahawks in a moment.

He co-produced a podcast and you can hear it here.

He maintained a blog that documented his art here.

He has videos on Vimeo here including this one in Mayan.

He designed an amazing poster for Punk Archaeology here for free because he though the entire thing sounded fun. He laid out the book and designed the cover art.

He always stayed to the end of the game when watching sports at my place. When things were going well for one of our teams, he would insist on high-fives. I don’t do high fives.


He understood that it was just as important to hang out when things were going poorly. In 2011, he was the only person watching the NLDS with me (in a crowded house) and we both noticed Ryan Howard limping after running hard to first on the final out of the Phillies’ losing effort. 

Untitled 318

More than any of that, he was a family guy. He loved his wife and kids in a way that gave perspective to the entire world and gave him a consistent set of priorities that guided his life, work, and friendships. When he and I were stressed out about something, he’d smile and tell me that when he got home, he had three little people who would remind him of what was really important in life and produce joy.

Whenever I needed something, he would be there to help. He was supportive of most of my ideas (and he was supportive of most of his friends’ ideas) even if it was largely because “he loved a bad plan.”

Yesterday, I was barely able to function, but today, I think I’m seeing a bit more clearly. Anyone who met Joel – even just for a moment – remembers him, and we’ll all feel his loss for a long time. 

Joel and I had plans! He was the co-director of The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota with me. We had both worked hard to direct the disparate energies of the Working Group in Digital and New Media (there was even talk of us getting a web page!). He was fascinated by my work in the Bakken and, when we last talked on Easter, he was excited for my plan to excavate Atari games in the New Mexico desert

If yesterday, I was wracked by grief, and, while today I don’t feel any less sad, I also realize how much work I have to do to live up to Joel’s legacy.

A little update : This post has received over 400 page views in the last few hours. Joel used to tell me that a mention on my blog was worth about 30 page views on his. He and his friends are returning the favor 10 fold. So take a few minutes to click through to his blog, listen to a podcast, or check out a video. This image was touching today.

Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

Grazie a nuove tecnologie apre a Luxor il facsimile della Tomba di Tutankhamon

fac-simile-tutkankamunVerrà inaugurato ufficialmente il 30 aprile il facsimile della tomba di Tutankhamon a Luxor. Il facsimile è stato installato sottoterra in un edificio accanto a Carter's House, all'ingresso della Valle dei Re. L'apertura al pubblico è prevista per il 1 maggio 2014.
Il facsimile, realizzato da Factum Arte di Madrid è il più preciso facsimile su larga scala ad essere stato realizzato fino ad oggi ed è il frutto di numerosi anni di lavoro nonché un'importante pietra miliare nell'approccio alla gestione del patrimonio responsabile e all'uso di tecnologie avanzate nella promozione del turismo sostenibile. Il progetto è stato realizzato con il pieno sostegno del Ministero egiziano del Turismo, il Ministero di Stato per le Antichità e con il sostegno dell'Unione Europea. Il facsimile è un dono per il popolo d'Egitto da parte della Factum Foundation ed è oggi ospitato in un edificio sotterraneo progettato dal Tarek Waly Centro: Heritage and Architecture, al Cairo.

Katy Meyers (Bones Don't Lie)

Society for American Archaeology Annual Conference

This week is the annual Society for American Archaeology conference in Austin, TX. At the meeting, I’m lucky enough to be involved in a number of great talks and forums this […]

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Lead in 'tap-water' in ancient Rome up to 100 times more than local spring waters

A team of researchers with members from France, Great Britain and the U.S. has found that lead concentrations in drinking water in Rome, during the height of the Roman Empire were 100 times that of local spring waters. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team describes how they took sediment samples from two sources in the city that revealed lead levels over a thousand year period.

Scientists and historians have for years debated the possibility that lead poisoning was a contributing factor in the decline and fall of the Roman Empire—water carried from afar in aqueducts was directed into lead pipes for distribution in the empire’s capital city of Rome—leading to speculation that leaders had gone mad due to exposure in their drinking water. In this new effort, the researchers have concluded that while lead levels in the ancient drinking water were high, they weren’t high enough to have been a major health hazard, and thus, lead cannot be blamed for the demise of the empire. Read more.

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

What If Arianism Had Won?

Click here to view the embedded video.

Diarmaid MacCulloch lectures on this speculative alternative history, covering a lot of interesting real history in the process. HT Mike Bird.

DigiPal Blog

Cambridge Medieval Palaeography Workshop

The programme of the Cambridge Medieval Palaeography Workshop for Easter Term 2014 is now available. The details of the flier that they have been circulating are reproduced below. The topics are very relevant for many of the discussions that have gone on here, and so I am very sorry that I am only available for one of them.

As usual, please send any enquiries to the workshop convenors (details below), not to us at DigiPal.


The Centre for Material Texts
Cambridge Medieval Palaeography Workshop
Easter Term 2014

The Cambridge Medieval Palaeography Workshop is a forum for informal discussion on medieval script and scribal practices, and on the presentation, circulation and reception of texts in their manuscript contexts. Each workshop focuses upon a particular issue, usually explored through a pair of short presentations and general discussion. All are welcome.

Convenors: Teresa Webber, Orietta Da Rold, Suzanne Paul and David Ganz

For further details, email


Friday 2 May 2014, Cambridge University Library (Keynes Room), 2-4pm

Scribal Identification and its Hazards

  • Benjamin Pohl, ‘The hand of Robert of Torigni: methods of scribal identification’
  • Richard Beadle, ‘CUL MS Ee.1.12: the hand(s?) of James Ryman’


Friday 16 May 2014, Cambridge University Library (Milstein Seminar Room), 2-4pm

Transcription and its Hazards: Interpreting Scribal Practice

This workshop will focus upon various signs and penstrokes traced by scribes that are, by convention, either ignored in transcription or interpreted and recorded in a standardised form despite uncertainties about their function. Two informal presentations will focus upon vernacular manuscripts of the later middle ages, but it is hoped that discussion will broaden to include any such issue, whether encountered in copies of Latin or vernacular texts, and in manuscripts of any period.

  • Anna Dorofeeva: on diacritical marks and other problems of transcription posed by manuscripts of the twelfth-century Kaiserchronik and its later re-workings (for the Kaiserchronik project, see
  • Daniel Wakelin: on the use, possible function(s), and editorial treatment of the ‘otiose strokes’ with which scribes completed certain letters or letter combination in late-medieval copies of Middle English texts


Friday 23 May 2014: please note the Inaugural Colloquium of the Network for the Study of Caroline Minuscule to be held in the Cambridge University Library, Milstein Seminar Room, 9 am – 6 pm. Full details and information about registration may be found at

Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

Corso sul tecnologie e metodiche per il patrimonio edilizio siciliano e maltese

modica panoramicaASS.I.R.C.CO. (Associazione Italiana Recupero e Consolidamento Costruzioni) in collaborazione con il Rotary Club di Modica e del Centro Studi Mastrodicasa di Perugi promuovono un Corso breve sul tema “La sicurezza e la conservazione: nuove tecnologie e metodiche per il corretto intervento sul patrimonio edilizio esistente siciliano e maltese” I finanziamenti disponibili nella Regione Siciliana con Decreto 15 Aprile 2013 .

Trafficking Culture

Pierre Bourdieu’s Field Theory and its use for understanding the illicit trafficking of cultural objects

In this working paper Winzler has two aims: First, he will briefly sketch out the basic foundations of Pierre Bourdieu’s sociology of culture by resorting to his key concepts capital, habitus, field and reflexivity. And second, he will show how these concepts could help to understand and to explain the illicit trafficking of cultural objects, he will explain how they open up new perspectives, and I will pose fresh questions that could help to generate new insights in this field of study.

Al West (West's Meditations)

Britain is a 'Christian Country', apparently

David Cameron has recently claimed that the UK is a 'Christian country' and has said that he will act as a 'giant Dyno-Rod' for Christian organisations here (implicitly equating secularists with sewage). This has attracted considerable criticism, for obvious reasons.

England is a Christian nation in a legal sense. The other constituent countries of the UK have a different set of rules about religion, but the Church of England is the established church of England with the Queen as its head, so in legal terms Cameron is nearly correct. In other respects, though, the UK isn't a Christian nation; some polls show that the population now has a non-Christian majority (made up of non-religious people and people of other religions), and nearly all of our laws and mores derive from secular reasoning, not Christian tradition.

This is apparently controversial in some quarters, but it shouldn't be: England was majority Christian for a thousand years by the time slavery was abolished, and it took even longer for the death penalty to be gotten rid of. Such moral leaps did not derive primarily from Christian tradition. We simply don't depend on the Bible in any way for our morals and precepts, and I'd say we're doing quite well without it.

Given that even self-proclaimed Christians in the UK rarely go to church and that non-Christians are in a majority, and that the mores of all groups come from reason and ethical discussion more than tradition and theological mumbo-jumbo, it hardly makes sense to refer to the UK as 'a Christian country'.

It is obviously wrong to have an established church (or a monarch, for that matter). How can a government take such a stand on metaphysics or decide for the population at large whether there is or is not a god? It's clearly a stupid idea, and clearly all of earth's nations should have secular governments by default. Saying that the UK is still a 'Christian country' only serves to highlight how impervious to obvious notions the English political establishment is. The sooner we ditch the church and monarchy the better off we'll be, and whether Britain is or is not currently a Christian country is moot; the point is that it shouldn't be.

Naturally, I'll be doing my best to vote Cameron out in the next election, but that effort has already been hampered by the failed referendum on reforming British elections a few years ago - another result of the glacial rate of political reform in the UK and the sheer impossibility of introducing new and better ideas into the country's archaic and calcified system.

Jim Davila (

On the DSS

IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING: What are the Dead Sea Scrolls? These ancient parchments discovered by chance in desert caves by the Dead Sea tell mysteries about the mysterious Jewish sect that wrote them, and debunk a myth about Goliath's height while about it. (Elon Gilad, Haaretz).

This is a pretty good summary of the majority opinion about the Scrolls, with which I more or less agree. But I would like to nuance the confident identification of the Qumran sectarians with the Essenes, and I would be very caution about the uncritical harmonization of the sectarian texts with the accounts of the Essenes by Philo, Pliny, and Josephus.

Also, there are a few papyrus scrolls from Qumran in addition to all the parchment, and the extra passage about Nahash was already known through Josephus' retelling of the story before the Qumran Samuel manuscript was discovered.

For some related posts, see here, here, here, here, here, and here and follow the many links. Also relevant posts at the old Qumranica blog are here and here.

St Andrews Symposium

LAST CHANCE TO REGISTER: The St Andrews Symposium for Biblical and Early Christian Studies: Ancient Readers and their Scriptures, 2-3 June 2014 (University of St Andrews). The registration deadline is 1 May 2014. For registration information, follow the link or e-mail Garrick Allen (

Mouse in Hebrew

HAARETZ: Word of the Day / Akhbar from the bible to the digital age. The word for mouse goes back millennia, completely unchanged, but its antecedents may be an artifact of some ancient's sense of humor. (Elon Gilad).
At any rate, much like mice in the pantry, this word for the humble rodent has lasted through the ages, from Biblical times to the time of the Mishnah, through Talmudic times in Aramaic and then to rabbinic writings in Hebrew of the Middle Ages. Nor has it changed with the revival of Hebrew as a living language in the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.

That said, akhbar underwent an important semantic twist in the late 20th century, when in 1963, Bill English built a prototype of a device designed by Douglas Engelbart at the Stanford Research Institute. The little palm-sized box with a cord protruding from its front resembled a mouse and thus it was so named.

Bryn Mawr Classical Review

2014.04.33: Évolution de la poliorcétique romaine sous la République jusqu'au milieu du IIe siècle avant J.-C. Collection Latomus, 340

Review of Joëlle Napoli, Évolution de la poliorcétique romaine sous la République jusqu'au milieu du IIe siècle avant J.-C. Collection Latomus, 340. Bruxelles: 2013. Pp. 239. €45.00. ISBN 9782870312873.

2014.04.32: The François Vase: New Perspectives (2 vols.). Akanthus proceedings 3

Review of H. A. Shapiro, Mario Iozzo, Adrienne Lezzi-Hafter, The François Vase: New Perspectives (2 vols.). Akanthus proceedings 3. Kilchberg, Zurich: 2013. Pp. 192; 7, 47 p. of plates. CHF 70.00 (pb). ISBN 9783905083330; 9783905083323.

2014.04.31: Vom Nil aus um die alte Welt: Rekonstruktionen ägyptischer, minoischer und griechischer Schiffe. Kataloge des Winckelmann-Museums

Review of Max Kunze, Vom Nil aus um die alte Welt: Rekonstruktionen ägyptischer, minoischer und griechischer Schiffe. Kataloge des Winckelmann-Museums. Ruhpolding; Mainz: 2013. Pp. 96. €30.00. ISBN 9783447069564.

Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

Prorogata la Call for papers per ARCHEOFOSS 2014

archeofoss-2014ARCHEOFOSS è il nome del Convegno annuale dedicato al tema Free/Libre and Open Source Software e Open Format nei processi di ricerca archeologica. La nona edizione si terrà a Verona presso il Dipartimento Tempo, Spazio, Immagine e Società, in collaborazione con il Dipartimento di Informatica dell’Università di Verona, dal 19 al 20 giugno 2014. Il tema di quest'anno è "Dall’indagine alla condivisione. Le tecnologie, le metodologie e i linguaggi dell’archeologia open". La Call for Proposals è stata prorogata al 25 aprile 2014.

Ancient Art

Ancient post-it notes! romkids: How often do you reach for a...

Ancient post-it notes!


How often do you reach for a Post-It note? Maybe you’re making that to do list, or figuring out your groceries. But you know, what if you lived BEFORE Post-It notes or scrap paper? What would you use then?

In Thebes, where these examples are from, and across the Roman Empire, scraps of used and broken pottery would be used to scribble quick notes. These examples are called ostraka. Most of the ostraka that our conservators and curators are studying right now contain notes on taxes and granary receipts from the second century AD.

The notes are written in Greek script. Kay Sunahara, ROM archaeologist studying these pieces, described the Greek langage at the time as, “the lingua franca of the Mediterranean”. Greek was the most frequently used written language, used to help bridge the gap between speakers of different languages, much like English today.

The majority of these pieces we’re found and acquired in the early 1900’s by none other than ROM founder Charles T. Currelly.

So how are these scrap pieces of pottery useful to archaeology today? Are grocery lists really that vaulabe? For archaeologists, ostraka provide them with a great deal of information about the people who left these notes in the first place. Information such as what people were eating, trading for, in trouble for, and the prices of things, give us a unique look into those who lived far before us, in this case well over a thousand years ago.

Interestingly enough, it also shows us just how similar we are to those who lived long before. Everyone needs groceries, and a reminder letter, maybe from their mom, or from their husband, of what to get from the store.

National Archaeology Day takes place on October 20th at the ROM and many other museums around the world!

Laura Gibbs (Bestiaria Latina Blog)

Latin Proverbs and Fables Round-Up: April 22

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 decimum Kalendas Maias.

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


3-WORD MOTTOES: Today's 3-word motto is Mediam viam elige (English: Choose the middle way).

3-WORD PROVERBS: Today's 3-word proverb is Fac, si facis (English: Do it, if you're going to do it).

RHYMING PROVERBS: Today's proverb with rhyme is: In vestimentis non est sapientia mentis (English: A man's clothing does not reveal the wisdom of his mind).

VULGATE VERSES: Today's verse is Aquae furtivae dulciores sunt, et panis absconditus suavior (Proverbs 9:17). 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: Quam quisque norit artem, in hac se exerceat: Let every man exercise him selfe, in the facultie that he knoweth. Let the cobler medle with cloutinge his neighbours shoes, and not be a Capitaine in fielde, or meddell with matters concerning a comon welth. Let them iudge of controversies in the christen religion, that be learned in the same, and not every Jacke plowman.

BREVISSIMA: The distich poster for today is Tempora Concessa. 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 Ovis, Cervus, et Lupus, the story of a sheep who wisely rejected a request from a stag and a wolf.

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

apes et Iuppiter

And while it's not exactly Latin, I thought you all might enjoy these Shakespearean LOLCats that I created for a friend; they all contain lines from Macbeth! You can see the gallery online at Google+, and I'll be posting them daily in my Proverb Laboratory blog.

Kristina Killgrove (Powered by Osteons)

Bones - Season 9, Episode 22 (Review)

The Nail in the Coffin
Episode Summary
A family out camping has a corpse fall on them. Saroyan calls Booth but asks Brennan to stay home, since she thinks there may be a Ghost Killer link.  Brennan disobeys and comes to the scene anyway. Edison, who is on the scene first, notes the lack of a prominent glabella, suggesting the victim was female.  Based on predation, blowflies, and road beetles, Hodgins estimates she's been dead 8 to 10 days. Brennan immediately looks for an avulsion fracture on the third distal phalanx of the right hand, but Edison points out that all the fingertips have avulsion fractures. Traces of adhesive show that the victim had real nails affixed to her own. 

"Guys, is this really the best time to play 'Stand, Sit, Bend'?"
Back at the Jeffersonian, the team finds multiple sharp force traumas as well as blunt force trauma, mostly to the thorax. Brennan notes the forward jutting of the mandible and hazards a guess: the victim was Stephanie MacNamara, Trent's sister.  He too had mandibular prognathism. Saroyan tests Stephanie's tissue and finds evidence of a homemade anesthetic made from common plants. Booth and Brennan go to question the MacNamaras' gardener, who doesn't seem to have noticed the scratch marks, blood, and heel marks indicating a struggle, both old and recent, in the horse stable. Stephanie had been locked in the stable as a kid and had clawed at the wall, irreparably breaking her nails. There are also 16 separate sharp force traumas to her torso and neck, a more violent crime than the other Ghost Killer victims. The gardener denies killing Stephanie, but Brennan notices a slight prognathism on her as well. She suggests that the gardener may be Giles MacNamara's illegitimate child, who would then stand to inherit the fortune. 

The fingernails match the DNA of all the other suspected victims of the Ghost Killer.  Angela runs a bunch of files that the FBI obtained from the SEC, which had been investigating the MacNamaras for years, and found that the victims matched up with Stephanie MacNamara's travel records.  She was the Ghost Killer, and she took the nails from her victims to replace her own, which she lost through abuse by her father. The final fingernail they found on Stephanie matched an old murder: Maya Zinkow, a girl who went to school with them and Hodgins, and whose murder was pinned on high school teacher Herman Kessler. The Jeffersonian is allowed to exhume Maya's remains, which are mummified. Brennan sees clearly that she had multiple stab wounds.  The coroner's report, however, does not note them, and the body was never given to the family or to a funeral home. The ME who signed off on it was the same one who did Lara Brewster's (S09E12) postmortem (and who had been paid off by Giles MacNamara). The wounds to Zinkow's body are very similar to the ones to Stephanie's body, suggesting Kessler was behind this as a revenge killing for being wrongly incarcerated for 20 years.  Saroyan finds evidence of a rape in Zinkow's cervix and vaginal tissue; she then finds sperm and gets a DNA match: Giles MacNamara raped Maya Zinkow. Stephanie was in a way jealous of Maya for getting her father's attention, so she killed Maya.  Giles found out and covered it up so that he would not get in trouble. 

Meanwhile, Booth tries to find Kessler because documents in his apartment suggest he wasn't planning to kill just Stephanie MacNamara. The other blueprints are traced to the home of a congressman, who 20 years ago was the judge who convicted Kessler. The entire time he was in prison, Kessler knew that Giles MacNamara was behind the coverup.  Brennan and Saroyan work on Congressman Palter's body and find similar wounds to those on Stephanie and Maya. Various nicks to the ribs suggest the shape of the murder weapon: Angela's fancy computer says it's a tobacco scythe, which fits with the trace evidence of tobacco that Hodgins found on Stephanie and Palter. Old pesticide and asbestos suggest to Brennan that Kessler may be hiding out in an old cigarette manufacturing building. Booth and Brennan head to the condemned Old Dominion Cigarettes building and find Kessler about to hang himself.  Brennan tries to get him to talk, since he clearly knew something about an FBI agent who was working for or paid off by MacNamara 20 years ago.  Kessler decides to jump, but Booth shoots down his rope.  Booth and Brennan later celebrate having solved the Ghost Killer murders.

  • Forensic
    • "... this is a rare genetic marker known as prognathism."  Oh, Bones.  This is why I can't quit you.  I suppose to be fair, there is a form of mandibular prognathism that is pathological and tends to be heritable, but it also tends to be really dramatic, along the lines of acromegaly. But jeez, prognathism is a massive continuum, and large chunks of the human population have what we call prognathism.  It is a bit of a loaded term, since it is commonly associated with the racial classification Black and was used historically to attempt to show that blacks were closer evolutionarily to apes than were whites (e.g., this drawing).  There are probably other observable heritable conditions they could have given the family, like, I dunno, clubfoot or something.  So no, this feature cannot confirm a familial link much less an ID of a victim.  Also, slight prognathism wouldn't suggest that the gardener's father was Giles MacNamara.  Just ugh.
    • So Clark finds 10 tiny avulsion fractures to the tiny distal phalanges (in the field, without a hand lens, of course) and yet the only method he uses to estimate sex is the lack of a prominent glabella?  Come on. There are at least four other markers on the skull alone, not to mention the entire pelvis.
    • Maaaaaybe I could buy that Maya Zinkow's mummified corpse still showed evidence of a rape, but sperm?  Sperm that could give a DNA match?  Puh-lease.
  • Plot
    • Do the horse stalls never get hosed out?  Why is blood still there from, like, 20 years ago?
    • Why did Stephanie take the same fingernail from each victim when she was trying to replace her 10 fingernails?  I guess the third fingernail could be shaped and filed down for the smaller ones, but not for the thumb.  Also, did she put the nails on herself, or did Kessler?  If the former, how did she not lose any nails in 20 years?
    • I do like how Booth just decides to go in alone to a creepy old warehouse with a serial killer in it.  And lets Brennan, who is unarmed and his wife/mother of his child, follow him in.  Because that's totally safe.
    • Wait, who killed Trent?  Stephanie or Kessler?  If the former, why?  She was given a motive for murder, sort of, but there was no explanation for how/why she chose her victims.  And she'd never killed a man. And we're fairly certain someone killed Trent, right, since he was missing a fingernail?  What were the similar injuries Brennan saw to the sterna of two of the victims (some sort of puncture wound)?  Why was there a pattern with some, but not with others (e.g., Lana was drowned, Trent was shot)?  So confused. It's honestly like the writers were gearing up for a Big Bad this season but then got tired and half-assed the rest of the season.
    • There's still someone rotten at the FBI, right?  Is the deputy director trying to send Booth to Germany because it's him?  What does Kessler know, and will he tell anyone?
  • Dialogue
    • I swear, "This is a rare genetic marker known as prognathism" will henceforth be bandied about in my household as often as we say, "It's a Unix system!  I know this!"  Glad that Mr. Dr. PbO and I both have such terribly fictionalized professions.  (Also, I really want an animated GIF complete with subtitles of Brennan saying the prognathism line.  Someone make it so!)

Forensic Mystery - C.  Each new finding was quickly figured out. I know this is a procedural, but it really felt like it this week.

Forensic Solution - C. The solution mostly came from the FBI getting a bunch of files, Angela doing some fancy computer work, and Saroyan finding magical undead sperm.

Drama - C-. I was looking forward to the Ghostface Killah episodes.  And then they just up and dispatch her?  Lame.

April 21, 2014

Katy Meyers (Bones Don't Lie)

What did the Egyptians eat?

There’s something mystical and wonderful about Ancient Egypt. It is one of the first historical eras that really captured my imagination as a child. In many ways, I think this […]

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Bumper haul for Central Searchers, How many of these Archaeological Finds will we Ever See Again?

Knowledge Theft

On a metal detecting forum near you, member "Desbold" (aka "Disillusioned of North London") was "A bit disappointed" (Sat Apr 19, 2014 6:54 pm) with the Central Searchers commercial artefact grabfest this weekend:
When will the "clubs" (no longer member-focused organisations but profit-focused businesses) find NEW, i.e virgin, land for some of these digs and not keep going back to the same fields year after year. Yes, 15 years ago "this field" was probably brilliant, but decent finds are not like spuds - they don't grow back and 50 odd people detecting for 7 hours once or twice a year for ten years very quickly strip a piece of land of most of its goodies. Yet they still show pictures of old finds to tempt us back.
Yet another artefact hunter (re)discovers the notion of the finiteness of the archaeological record. Rocket science that it is... Then the organizer of the rally dropped everybody present right in it. Gill Evans (Sun Apr 20, 2014 12:07 pm) indignantly replies:
I would like to know what you expected to find Desbold at our dig yesterday considering there were around 300 roman bronzes, 2 denarius, a seliqua (sic), roman spoon handle, first century bird buckle pin, 2 hod hill brooches, one silvered, twenty other roman brooches, seven hammered, four roman pins, broken phalic (sic) pendant, broken terret ring, plus other bits and bobs. No bad for a done to death site.
Not bad for the FLO either, at least 339 artefacts to get onto the database, IF the finders show any of them (seven finds each for 50 folk). Where will all these artefacts be in a decade or two? Where are they now? How long can Britain and its myopic jobsworth archaeologists go on believing that artefact hunters can remove stuff at such a rate, week after week, year after year without any damage being done to the archaeological record of past human activity across the landscape? Bonkers, the lot of them.

UPDATE 21 April 2014
Central Searchers, folks, the gift that keeps giving.  Gill Evans, instead of coming here, has now gone on a metal detecting forum near you stating in response to this post:
our FLO has a standing invite to our digs but we never see her. Besides she is only interested in the good stuff not broken artefacts and roman grots
What is that supposed to mean? That she is expected by these oiks to give up every weekend when they decide to go out hoiking? I imagine that, like the rest of us, their FLO has better things to do with their weekend than hang around with a bunch of metal detectorists. Family time, shopping, socialising, relaxing, gardening, training for the marathon, reading, writing, that sort of thing. Perhaps Ms Evans needs reminding that the essence of the voluntary recording which (supposedly) gives metal detecting some legitimacy is that finders go to the FLO with what they have found, NOT that the FLO only goes to where finders are finding and demands to see to see what they've got. The PAS 'rallies records' page contains information about three Central Searchers rallies since October 2013. Guess how many finds have been reported from them? One, one measly coin is all Central Searchers are currently on record as having reported from five and half months of 'club digs every weekend'. That's a pretty pathetic showing isn't it? Oh, and the one coin that was recorded was a "Roman grot" - the sort Ms Evans suggests the PAS is rejecting. Once again, the facade begins to crumble when you look at the facts.

Ms Evans' FLO is JulieCassidy Northamptonshire County Council, Northampton

Calenda: Histoire romaine

École d'été de géoarchéologie et d'archéométrie

The purpose of the course is to expose students to interdisciplinary research that involves archaeology and the natural sciences in the field. The students will experience interactive work that combines excavation and analysis of materials using an on-site laboratory. The course will emphasize the inter-connection between laboratory analyses and the archaeological context, and will include fieldwork, laboratory work, and lectures.

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Nazis, Vikings and the Dugup Dealer

EBay seller "kurland-1945" has been selling there since mid-March 2010. He appears to be based in Latvia, though gives an address in Tallin, Estonia. He has 100% feedback and ships his goods worldwide. He seems to do a brisk business selling metal detected items. One might guess from the name (and avatar) that he began his career giving collectors access to material from the legendary killing fields of the "Kurland Kessel" . More recently he has switched to older metal artefacts (See his current offer of items here). He's marketing a whole load of well preserved Early Medieval and Medieval items. The latter (devotionalia and crucifixes) are of uncertain origin, many are said - unhelpfully - to be "from Northern Europe", I'd hate to suggest one possible source for them, let us assume they were all dropped in fields as buxom Medieval maids tussled in haystacks with lusty young men.

I'd have less reservations in suggesting that many of the Early Medieval items come from graves. He calls the whole lot "Viking" which is complete nonsense. Although there are some Viking axe-types (noted as having come from Staraya Ladoga in "1985" or "from old collections"), most are clearly the sort of items that went into the graves of the Baltic and Finno-Ugrian groups inhabiting the Baltic States region and have nothing at all to do with Scandinavian costume styles. Just look at how much of it this metal detectorist has on sale... from how many graves were they ripped?   One "libertytree (698 )" enthusiastically gives this seller a glowing personal endorsement:
Vikings and Nazis
I have been an eBay user since the 1990s and have made hundreds of transactions. In 2012 I went to Latvia and met Kurland-1945 personally. He is a very conscientious, considerate and knowledgeable seller. He knows his artifacts and he is personally connected with recognized authorities in the Viking field, including noted scholars. Though not an academic himself, he is highly informed and self-educated, with a fine attention to detail. If he says that something is Viking, he is good for his word. He is also of good character. Once we had a misunderstanding, and he immediately offered to make amends - more than he was obligated to. Kurland-1945 is an honorable man and a fine eBay seller whose word is solid.
I am not convinced that there is anything honourable in selling dug-up grave goods. Neither is there anything honourable in misrepresenting them as remains of fair-haired blue-eyed "Vikings" by those who apparently pander to neo-Nazi fantasies. Looting archaeological sites is illegal in all three Baltic States (and in neighbouring countries).

And who are those "recognized authorities in the Viking field, including noted scholars" with whom Kurland-1945 " is personally connected"? Archaeologists? 

ArcheoNet BE

Onze tips voor Erfgoeddag

Nu zondag, op 27 april, vindt de 14de editie van de Erfgoeddag plaats, met dit jaar als centraal thema ‘Grenzeloos’. 500 erfgoedorganisaties in Vlaanderen en Brussel nemen deel, goed voor zowat 650 activiteiten waarbij roerend en/of immaterieel erfgoed centraal staat. Musea, archieven en heemkringen zetten hun deuren open om de bevolking met het culturele erfgoed te laten kennismaken. Te veel activiteiten om op te noemen, en daarom zetten we hier enkele aanraders op een rijtje…


In Antwerpen kan je een kijkje nemen onder de grond om het archeologisch relict van het Keizersbastion in de parkeergarage Nationale Bank te ontdekken. Mark Tijsmans voert je mee naar de periode waarin deze bastionmuur werd gebouwd ter bescherming en begrenzing van de stad.


In de abdij Mariënlof in Borgloon wordt een nieuwe publicatie voorgesteld over de turbulente geschiedenis van het bekende reliekschrijn van Sint-Odilia (1292). In Hasselt focust kunsthistorica Frieda Sorber dan weer op de reliekenschat van de Abdij van Herkenrode, met bijzondere aandacht voor de herkomst van de kostbare stoffen. In het Gallo-Romeins museum in Tongeren identificeert en taxeert een team van kunstexperts je favoriete stukken. Restaurateurs tonen hoe je schilderijen, glas-en aardewerk optimaal bewaart en opknapt.


In Astene worden de restauratieplannen voor het ‘Goed te Parijs’ voorgesteld, met aandacht voor de archeologische opgravingen op de site. In het Provinciaal Archeologisch Museum in Ename kunnen jongeren deelnemen aan een spannende zoektocht die hen terugflitst in de tijd naar Ename rond het jaar 1000. In Sint-Lievens-Houtem staat de Balegemse steen centraal, met een lezing en een erfgoedfietstocht langs enkele voormalige steenputten. In Gent zijn er rondleidingen in het Hotel d’Hane de Steenhuyse en in het Museum Arnold Van der Haeghen, en in de Sint-Baafsabdij leert een echte steenkapper je je initialen beitelen in een grenssteen.


De heemkundige kring van Oud-Heverlee organiseert een tentoonstelling over de Michelsbergcultuur in het Miradal. Verspreid over het Meerdaalwoud en Heverleebos werden vondsten van Neolithische verblijfplaatsen die getuigen van een belangrijke breuklijn in de geschiedenis: de overgang van een nomadisch leven naar een sedentair bestaan. In Herne wordt het 700-jarig bestaan van het kartuizerklooster gevierd met een tentoonstelling en een wandeling. Zowel in de Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk in Aarschot als in de Sint-Pieterskerk in Melsbroek kun je restauratoren live aan het werk zien. Het Universiteitsarchief in Leuven brengt het werk van architect Raphaël Verwilghen weer tot leven, en biedt je een blik achter de schermen van het archief en het erfgoeddepot.


In Ieper kijkt Archeo7 over de grenzen van tijd en gebieden heen en toont enkele unieke voorwerpen uit de rijke geschiedenis van de streek. Op de tentoonstelling ontdek je middeleeuwse insignes uit Ieperse bodem, 14de-eeuwse dobbelstenen van de Grote Markt in Poperinge of aardewerk uit de Late ijzertijd in Oostvleteren. Raakvlak organiseert in Brugge dan weer een lezing over de berging van een Spitfire in Tillegembos. In Oostende kom je alles te weten over de internationale contacten van de bewoners van het middeleeuwse visserdorp Raversijde. In het Regionaal Archeologisch Museum van de Scheldevallei in Waarmaarde verneem je meer over de herkomst van silex, over de import versus de lokale/regionale productie van Gallo-Romeinse archeologica en Merovingisch aardewerk, en ook op de tentoonstelling ‘Beveren Ondersteboven’ in Roeselare ontdek je recent opgegraven archeologische vondsten die de grenzen van tijd en menselijke activiteiten overschrijden.

Meer info: deze lijst is uiteraard slechts een (subjectieve) selectie uit de honderden activiteiten tijdens de Erfgoeddag op 27 april. Veel meer activiteiten en alle praktische informatie vind je op

Open Access Archaeology

Open Access Archaeology Digest #395

Todays Open Access (free to read) Archaeology articles:

Il complesso termale-terapeutico e cultuale di Campetti alla luce delle recenti scoperte.

Crown-post and king-strut roofs in south-east England [13th century and before]

Excavation of Bookan chambered cairn, Sandwick, Orkney

Early church architecture in Scotland

Learn more about Open Access and Archaeology at:

Archaeology Magazine

New Thoughts on Animal Domestication

ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI—Herders dating back to the Neolithic period did not isolate their domesticated charges from wild animals, according to Fiona Marshall of Washington University in St. Louis, Keith Dobney of the University of Aberdeen, Tim Denham of the Australian National University, and José Capriles of the Universidad de Tarapacá. They reviewed recent research on the domestication of large herbivores in different places and at different times. “Our findings show little control of breeding, particularly of domestic females, and indicate long-term gene flow, or interbreeding, between managed and wild animal populations,” Marshall told Science Daily. Such contact with wild animals may have been accidental or intentional, in order to produce stronger, faster animals better suited to the environment. “The boundaries between wild and domesticated animals were much more blurred for much longer than we had realized,” she added. 

All Mesopotamia

How did we come to divide the hour into 60 minutes and the...

How did we come to divide the hour into 60 minutes and the minute into 60 seconds?

It was the Sumerian that started it all. Read more here

Centre for the Study of Christian Origins

N. T. Wright on his new book, Paul and the Faithfulness of God

Here’s a video of Wright’s lecture from his visit to us in late February. There’s also a response from my colleague, Dr Matthew Novenson.


Archaeological News on Tumblr

Neanderthals Had Shallow Gene Pool, Study Says

Neanderthals were remarkably less genetically diverse than modern humans, with Neanderthal populations typically smaller and more isolated, researchers say.

Although Neanderthals underwent more genetic changes involving their skeletons, they had fewer such changes in behavior and pigmentation, scientists added.

Modern humans are the only humans alive today, but Earth was once home to a variety of other human lineages. The Neanderthals were once the closest relatives of modern humans, with the common ancestors of modern humans and Neanderthals diverging between 550,000 and 765,000 years ago. Neanderthals and modern humans later interbred — nowadays, about 1.5 to 2.1 percent of DNA of people outside Africa is Neanderthal in origin. Read more.

Humans May Have Dispersed Out of Africa Earlier Than Thought

Modern humans may have dispersed in more than one wave of migration out of Africa, and they may have done so earlier than scientists had long thought, researchers now say.

Modern humans first arose between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago in Africa. But when and how the modern human lineage then dispersed out of Africa has long been controversial.

Scientists have suggested the exodus from Africa started between 40,000 and 70,000 years ago. However, stone artifacts dating to at least 100,000 years ago that were recently uncovered in the Arabian Desert suggested that modern humans might have begun their march across the globe earlier than once suspected. Read more.

Ancient Peoples

Steatite kohl holder in shape of monkey 6cm high and 4 cm...

Steatite kohl holder in shape of monkey

6cm high and 4 cm wide (2 3/8 x 1 5/8 inch.) 

Egyptian, New Kingdom, 18th dynasty, 1550 - 1450 BC. 

Source: Metropolitan Museum

Ancient Art

The Persians adopted the Lydian tradition of minting coins...

The Persians adopted the Lydian tradition of minting coins following their conquer of Lydia in 547 BCE.

The daric was a golden coin used in the Persian Empire, which is thought to have been named after Persian king Darius I (521-486 BCE). The production of these coins continued after the death of Darius, up until Alexander the Great’s conquest of Persia during the 4th century BCE. Proceeding this conquest we see the use of the double daric, an innovation of Alexander. 

The shown example above is of the obverse and reverse of a double daric of Artaxerxes II, Babylonia, ca. 330–300 BCE. Photo courtesy of & currently located at the Cabinet des Médailles, France. Photo taken by Marie-Lan Nguyen via the Wiki Commons.

Archaeology Magazine

Colonial Road Construction Investigated in Williamsburg

WILLIAMSBURG, VIRGINIA—When the capital of colonial Virginia was moved from Jamestown to Williamsburg in 1699, Duke of Gloucester Street, the main thoroughfare through the town, was designed to reflect the power and order of the British crown. The plan required, however, the long, straight street be constructed over ravines and gullies that had to be filled in and drained. “The most heroic work was probably done early in the century. But this was a very long campaign that started off with public projects and ended with private efforts,” Edward Chappell, director of Colonial Williamsburg’s department of architectural and archaeological research, told The Daily Press

War of 1812 Site Excavated in Baltimore

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND—The Baltimore Sun reports that an excavation in Patterson Park by the nonprofit group Baltimore Heritage has uncovered a wall that may have been part of Jacob Laudenslager’s butcher shop during the War of 1812. The butcher shop was located close to the site of the Patterson Park Pagoda, built on a strategic hill with a view of the city. Thousands of Maryland militiamen camped on the property, and built earthworks that helped repel the British in the Battle of Baltimore. Volunteers have helped the recovery of bricks, mortar, glass, nails, pottery, and a gunflint. 

ArcheoNet BE

Natuur en erfgoed in het Bolwerk van Zoutleeuw

In de 17de eeuw werd ten zuiden van Zoutleeuw een citadel aangelegd om de stad te beschermen tegen Franse en Hollandse aanvallen. In de zomer van 2013 liet het agentschap Onroerend Erfgoed een archeologische evaluatie uitvoeren van deze Spaanse citadel, die nu verderleeft als natuurgebied ‘Het Bolwerk’. Op zondag 27 april organiseert Natuurpunt Oost-Brabant een symposium over de site van de citadel. Het agentschap Onroerend Erfgoed presenteert er de resultaten van het archeologisch onderzoek en Natuurpunt stelt er haar Werkgroep Natuur en Erfgoed voor.

14u00: Verwelkoming door de stad Zoutleeuw
De historische betekenis van de Spaanse Citadel voor Zoutleeuw door de Vrienden van Zoutleeuw
Resultaten van het archeologisch onderzoek door de Antea-Group
Erfgoed in relatie met natuur door Natuurpunt Oost-Brabant
15u00 tot 17u00: aansluitend wandeling naar en door de locatie. Begeleiding: Vrienden van Zoutleeuw en Natuurpunt Oost-Brabant
17u00: afsluitende drink in de lakenhalle

Het symposium vindt plaats in de bovenzaal van de Lakenhalle (Grote Markt, Zoutleeuw). Van 14u tot 17u kan Het Bolwerk ook bezocht worden door wie niet deelneemt aan het symposium.

Meer info: Nicole Smeyers (0497 43 40 87)

Carole Raddato (Following Hadrian)

Felix dies natalis Roma!

Originally posted on FOLLOWING HADRIAN:

The she-wolf feeding the twins Romulus and Remus, the most famous image associated with the founding of Rome © Carole Raddato

The she-wolf feeding the twins Romulus and Remus, the most famous image associated with the founding of Rome
© Carole Raddato

Today is the traditional date given for the founding of Rome. According to Roman mythology, the founders were Romulus and Remus, twin brothers and supposed sons of the god Mars and the priestess Rhea Silvia. The twins were then abandoned by their parents as babies (because of a prophecy that they would overthrow their great-uncle Amulius), but were saved by a she-wolf who found and nursed them. Romulus killed his brother after a vicious quarrel, and went on to establish a city, which he named after him.

Although the original dates by Roman historians varied between 758 and 728 BC, the official date was set as 753 BC. Archaeologists have traced evidence of villages on the Palatine Hill to around the 9th century BC. Romans celebrated the founding of their city every April 21st in…

View original 326 more words

Filed under: Uncategorized

Archaeology Magazine

England’s Wark Castle Was Larger Than Thought

Flodden-Castle-ExcavationNORTHUMBERLAND, ENGLAND—Excavations have shown that Wark Castle, captured by the Scottish King James IV in 1513, one month before the Battle of Flodden, was twice as large as had been thought. “This helps us to understand why the castle was considered to be so important,” Chris Burgess, Flodden 1513 archaeology manager, told The Journal. After his victory at Flodden, the English King Henry VIII turned the castle, which is located on England’s side of the boundary between the two countries, into an artillery fortification and used it to prevent the Scots from crossing the River Tweed.   

ArcheoNet BE

Middeleeuwse pelgrims en hun reissouvenirs

Op donderdag 24 april gaat in het Erfgoedcentrum Lamot in Mechelen een nieuwe reeks Soirée Lamot-lezingen van start. Deze reeks heeft als titel ‘Grenzeloos’, het thema van Erfgoeddag. Nu donderdag geeft prof. Jos Koldeweij (RU Nijmegen) een lezing over middeleeuwse pelgrims en hun reissouvenirs, de pelgrimsinsignes. Sinds het midden van de 19de eeuw worden dergelijke pelgrimsinsignes veelvuldig teruggevonden bij archeologische opgravingen, ook in Mechelen.

Op bedevaart gaan was een wijd verbreid en populair gebruik in de late middeleeuwen. Devotionele redenen stonden uiteraard voorop maar tegelijkertijd was het voor de gelovige een legitieme manier om meer van de wereld te zien. En zelfs handels- en politieke motieven lieten zich moeiteloos combineren met een pelgrimstocht.

In alle bedevaartsoorden werden devotionalia en souvenirs te koop aangeboden. Van de late 12de tot de 16de eeuw waren dat vooral pelgrimsinsignes: speldjes om op de mantel, tas of hoed te bevestigen. Ze maakten de pelgrim herkenbaar als reiziger in Gods naam én plaatsen hem onder bescherming van een specifieke devotie. Het pelgrimsteken functioneerde zo als een amulet.

In deze lezing is er aandacht voor Mechelse insignes en voor vreemde, in Mechelen teruggevonden exemplaren. Ze leren ons veel over het laatmiddeleeuwse pelgrimeren: over de bedevaartsoorden en hun kenmerkende afbeeldingen, maar ook over de afgelegde afstanden en de wisselende populariteit van sommige oorden en pelgrimages.

Meer info:

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Patterson Park dig uncovering traces of War of 1812 militia camp, defenses

When Samuel Smith, major general of the Maryland militia, needed a headquarters to plot Baltimore’s defense from British invaders in the summer of 1814, archaeologists believe he called on the owner of a shop that gives Butcher’s Hill its name.

Jacob Laudenslager leased much of what is Patterson Park today from landowner William Patterson, including a butcher’s shop steps from where the park’s iconic pagoda sits today.

Archaeologists have uncovered a wall of that structure as they embark on a dig for a better understanding of what happened when thousands of militiamen camped along the hills of southeast Baltimore during the War of 1812. Read more.

Ancient Peoples

Marble Akroterion  This monument was made for the graves of...

Marble Akroterion 

This monument was made for the graves of Timotheos and Nikon. 87.6 cm high and 53.3 cm wide ( 34 1/2 x 21 inch.). 

Probably from Attica

Greek, Late classical Period, 350 - 325 BC. 

Source: Metropolitan Museum

He has a wife you know

Greatest pub sign ever? This pub is just down the road from me...

Greatest pub sign ever?

This pub is just down the road from me in Southwick (West Sussex). A road up the side of it is called Hadrian Avenue, I’ve no idea what the connection is to Rome exactly or why a road named after that particular Emperor as there are no other references to anything Roman nearby.

It’s not far from me so perhaps I’ll pop in there soon and see if I can find out.

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Community dig sheds new light on Wark Castle in Northumberland

A community dig has shed new light on a castle which for centuries was in the front line of the conflict between England and Scotland.

It has shown that Wark Castle on the Northumberland side of the River Tweed was more of a heavyweight prospect than previously believed.

The excavations are the latest in a series by the Flodden 500 Archaeological project.

The venture began in 2009 with a grant from English Heritage in the run-up to last year’s marking of the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden.

It has led to the setting up of the Till Valley Archaeology Group, which now has more than 100 members. Read more.

American School of Classical Studies in Athens: News

On Exhibit at the Gennadeion

An exciting new exhibition of works by Greek and international artists will be on view at the Gennadius Library from May 4 through June 30. The exhibition, titled "A Thousand Doors," will be installed throughout the library grounds, both inside the library and outside in the gardens. The selected works are executed in a wide range of media, which include video, sound and sculpture installations.

Trafficking Culture

Hoi An Shipwreck

In 1997, following the arrest in Vietnam of two Japanese dealers attempting to illegally export antique ceramics, a license was granted by the Vietnamese government to a commercial salvage company to excavate the Hoi An (Cu Lao Cham) shipwreck. The subsequent auction of finds from the wreck was largely unsuccessful.


In 1993–94, the crew of a fishing vessel off the coast of the Hoi An area of Vietnam began to find ceramics in their fishing nets when trawling in a particular spot (Bound 2000: V). The boat’s captain, Captain Trang, reportedly decided to fish exclusively for these pots after an antiques dealer in Hoi An bought his first yield ‘for a good price’ (Pope 2007: 37). Before long, other crews had noticed what was happening, and soon there were numerous fishing teams using their nets to harvest saleable pots: ‘Huge dishes, ornate dragon sculptures, and delicate vases were picked out of the nets and sold straight to the dealers’ (Pope 2007: 40).

Dr Trinh Cao Tuong of the Vietnamese Institute of Archaeology had already notified the Ministry of Culture having noticed sales in Hoi An of ceramics that were similar in style to those found at the Chu Dau pottery on the Red River Delta. However, it was not until two Japanese dealers were stopped at customs at Vietnam’s Da Nang Airport and found to have undeclared antique pottery in their luggage, leading to their arrest for smuggling illicit antiquities, that serious notice was taken by the authorities. The arrest of Japanese citizens was an indicator of international trade, attracting the attention even of the Vietnamese Prime Minister (Pope 2007: 62-64). In addition, pieces from the wreck site had begun to appear in Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong and London (Bound 2000: V).

Excavation and Salvage

Discussed in more detail below, much archaeological work on shipwrecks in Southeast Asia tends to be carried out as a partnership activity between archaeologists and commercial salvage companies. In the case of Hoi An, the Malaysian-Chinese businessman Ong Soo Hin, who owned Saga Horizon (a Singapore-based salvage company with experience of both commercial salvage and archaeological excavation in the region) made a proposal to the government for excavation of the Hoi An wreck. He proposed to work with the Vietnamese Salvage Agency (VISAL)—a government-owned salvage company—and to carry out a full archaeological excavation of the vessel ‘in return for the right to sell a proportion of the pottery recovered’, while also providing the government with a full archaeological report (Pope 2007: 65).

Ong received a license to search for the wreck in 1997 (Pope 2007: 67), and recruited Oxford University-based marine archaeologist Mensun Bound to lead the excavation. Bound apparently had misgivings about the connection with a commercial salvage company, but was eventually swayed by Ong’s insistence that there would be likely so many ceramics recovered that there would be nowhere to store them all if they were not sold (Pope 2007: 81), and by assurances that no export permit from the Vietnamese Ministry of Culture would be granted for the recovered material until the excavation report had been submitted to the government (Pope 2007: 82).

Auctioning the Ceramics

Some 250,000 pots were salvaged from the wreck (Pope 2007: 292), with all unique pieces plus 10 per cent of the ‘repetitive’ pieces kept by Vietnamese museums (Adams 2010: 66; Quan 2000: III). The pottery was primarily of Vietnamese blue-and-white ceramics (Flecker 2009: 89), dating to circa the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century AD (Guy 2000: XIII; Hall 2013: 87) or earlier at around 1430–1480 (Bound 2000: XI; Pope 2007: 301). The agreement that had been made between Saga Horizon and the Vietnamese government was that 30 per cent of the finds would go to the government. In the end, the government made the decision to sell much of their own share alongside those contractually promised to Saga Horizon, reasoning that they were many duplicates, and that they could use the revenue raised to create a museum especially for the remaining Hoi An material. This however reportedly unnerved Ong, who feared that so much material of the same style from the same source on sale at once would flood the market; he was already concerned that too much material had been recovered (Pope 2007: 284).

Ong originally negotiated a sales strategy with international auction house Sotheby’s, but then made the decision to switch to San Francisco-based Butterfields. This decision perplexed some observers, since the main market for Southeast Asian material was Europe (with the Sotheby’s London auction house well placed to take advantage of this). However, Butterfields had recently been purchased by online auction company eBay, and it is likely that Ong wanted to take advantage of the global reach of an internet auction alongside an on-site sale at the auction house itself (Pope 2007: 292-93). It was also, reported to be the first time that Vietnamese antiquities had been offered for sale through the internet (Quan 2000: II)

In the event, the auction, which began on 10 October 2000 (Pope 2007: 207), attracted buyers representing many of the large museums, including museums in Phoenix, Santa Barbara, Denver, Los Angeles, and Seattle, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and the British Museum. Some objects sold for above their pre-sale estimates. For example, three dragon ewers, all valued at $30,000–$50,000 USD, sold for $79,500, $63,000 and $57,500 USD; with the latter two selling to the British Museum and the Gallery of New South Wales respectively (Pope 2007: 306). However, by the end of third and final day of the San Francisco sale, just 40 per cent of the lots had sold, with the follow-up online sales through eBay reaching similar statistics. Even at the time of writing, a keyword search on eBay revealed material reportedly from the Hoi An wreck for sale at relatively low prices, and Pope (2007: 313) noted that Hoi An ceramics frequently appear in mail-order gift catalogues.

Following the auction, Bound resolved to spend time on producing a comprehensive report on the wreck, including specific detail about the dating of the material culture (Pope 2007: 310-11). By 2014, a major publication on the vessel from Bound had not yet emerged. Others have noted with surprise that little has been published on the wreck, particularly concerning the vessel itself (e.g. Flecker 2002: 18; 2007: 81). Bound did, however, note in his introductory essay to the Butterfields auction, that the boat was likely of Thai origin (Bound 2000: IX-X).

Ong had invested almost $14 million USD on the salvage and excavation of the Hoi An wreck, and made only $2,960,000 from the sale (Pope 2007: 307-09). He was said to have left bad debts in both Singapore and Vietnam, moving to Perth, Australia (Pope 2007: 311).

Hoi An and the South China Sea

The port of Hoi An in Qang Nam Province, central Vietnam, close to the Cu Lao Cham Islands, is itself ‘an exceptionally well-preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century’, and as the only town of this type to have survived intact in the country, was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999 (UNESCO 2013). The town is located on the coast of the South China Sea, one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, and from the 1500s to the 1700s it was the busiest port in what is today Vietnam (Lockard 2010: 235).

The trade in ceramics from Southeast Asia has been prolific for centuries, expanding at different times to involve most countries in the region, as well as merchants from places such as Persia, India, and in the sixteenth and seventeeth centuries attracting involvement from the Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch (Witkowski 2013: 276). One by-product of this long period of active trade has been the high occurrence of shipwrecks, with the oldest known to date from around 250 AD (Miksic 2009: 10). In the past four decades, more than 100 ancient shipwrecks have been discovered in Southeast Asia, with many looted by the time of discovery (Flecker 2009: 35). Many studies of both trade patterns and also shipbuilding techniques in the region have included reference to the data generated from the discovery of shipwrecks such as Hoi An and Belitung (Witkowski 2013: 283). Study of ceramics from Hoi An have also featured in key research texts on Southeast Asian pottery (Rooney 2009: 32). The vessel itself has been described as a vessel of the ‘South China Sea Tradition’ (Flecker 2007: 81).

Shipwreck excavation and salvage in Southeast Asia

The preamble to the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage 2001 states that UNESCO is ‘[d]eeply concerned by the increasing commercial exploitation of underwater cultural heritage, and in particular by certain activities aimed at the sale, acquisition or barter of underwater cultural heritage’ (UNESCO 2001). The Convention could not come into force until after the date of deposit of the twentieth instrument of ratification, and so was not active until January 2009 (González et al. 2009: 54). Therefore, although in development, the Convention was not in place at the time of the Hoi An wreck excavation/salvage. Even since its coming into force, Vietnam has not (as of November 2013) ratified the Convention.

Nonetheless, the discussions of the draft convention did raise awareness among national governments, and many Southeast Asian countries tightened their policies concerning commercial salvage, for example by adding a requirement that archaeological excavation and reporting needed to take place (although notably retaining the commercial element) (Pope 2007: 33-34).

Pope (2007: 28-29) described some of the techniques used by commercial wreck-hunting vessels to locate potential sites, including instances of the captain:

‘…running his vessel in parallel lines over the search area while towing some sort of detector. A magnetometer is useful for detecting metals at a distance by sensing local distortions in the earth’s magnetic field. Modern ships made of steel show up clearly, but old wooden vessels can also be detected, especially if they sank with cannonry, whose iron can act as a beacon even if buried deep under mud or sand’.

Other techniques include use of a side-scan sonar, and, ‘in clear water some wreck-hunters simply tow divers, trusting the human eye to spot anomalies (Pope 2007: 29)

Flecker, who has been active in underwater excavations in Southeast Asia for a number of years, has commented that at present in Southeast Asia, ‘where most wreck-sites are threatened with looting or outright destruction, the priority must be to document those sites and the artefacts recovered from them before too much information is lost… …if commercial transactions are banned outright, the finders will be driven underground, and there will be no hope of archaeological intervention’ (Flecker 2002: 23). Bound had also apparently felt that the developers of the UNESCO convention had ‘closed their eyes to the realities’ facing vulnerable wrecks in Southeast Asia, reasoning that it was better to work with commercial salvage companies than to do nothing at all (Pope 2007: 83).

Criticism has been aimed at archaeologists such as Flecker and Bound for working with commercial companies (see Belitung case study for a discussion of this). Flecker (2002: 22) also noted that the priority given to excavating and salvaging wrecks with saleable cargo such as ceramics has meant that other ‘fascinating and readily accessible wrecks’ have not been researched due to the more limited scope for profit. This in turn skews the archaeological record by prioritising wrecks which will yield the most benefit for commercial partners.


Adams, Jeffrey Lee (2010), ‘New Directions in International Heritage Management Research’, Doctoral thesis (University of Minnesota).

Bound, Mensun (2000), ‘The Hoi An Wreck’, in Butterfields (ed.), Treasures from the Hoi An Hoard: Important Vietnamese Ceramics from a Late 15th/Early 16th Century Cargo (San Francisco: Butterfields), IV–XI.

Flecker, Michael (2002), ‘The ethics, politics and realities of maritime archaeology in Southeast Asia’, The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, 31 (1), 12–24.

— (2007), ‘The South-China-Sea Tradition: The Hybrid Hulls of South-East Asia’, The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, 36 (1), 75–90.

— (2009), ‘Maritime Archaeology in Southeast Asia’, in John Miksic (ed.), Southeast Asian Ceramics: New Light on Old Pottery (Singapore: Southeast Asian Ceramic Society), 35–47.

González, Ariel W., O’Keefe, Patrick , and Williams, Michael (2009), ‘The UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage: a Future for our Past?’, Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites, 11 (1), 54–69.

Guy, John (2000), ‘Vietnamese Ceramics – New Discoveries’, in Butterfields (ed.), Treasures from the Hoi An Hoard: Important Vietnamese Ceramics from a Late 15th/Early 16th Century Cargo (San Francisco: Butterfields), XII–XIX.

Hall, Kenneth (2013), ‘Revisionist Study of Cross-Cultural Commercial Competition on the Vietnam Coastline in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries and its Wider Implications’, Journal of World History, 24 (1), 71–105.

Lockard, Craig A. (2010), ‘”The Sea Common to All”: Maritime Frontiers, Port Cities and Chinese Traders in the Southeast Asian Age of Commerce, ca. 1400–1750′, Journal of World History, 21 (2), 219–47.

Miksic, John (ed.), (2009), Southeast Asian Ceramics: New Light on Old Pottery (Singapore: Southeast Asian Ceramic Society).

Pope, Frank (2007), Dragon Sea: A True Tale of Treasure, Archaeology and Greed off the Coast of Vietnam (Orlando, Austin, San Diego, Toronto, London: Harcourt Inc.).

Quan, Pham Quoc (2000), ‘Introducing the Collection from Chu Lao Cham Island, Vietnam’, in Butterfields (ed.), Treasures from the Hoi An Hoard: Important Vietnamese Ceramics from a Late 15th/Early 16th Century Cargo (San Francisco: Butterfields), II–III.

Rooney, Dawn F. (2009), ‘The Contributions of Roxanna Brown to the Study of Southeast Asian Ceramics’, in John Miksic (ed.), Southeast Asian Ceramics: New Light on Old Pottery (Singapore: Southeast Asian Ceramics Society), 27–33.

UNESCO (2001), ‘Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage’, in UNESCO (ed.), (Paris: UNESCO).

— (2013), ‘Hoi An Ancient Town’, < >, accessed 29th November 2013.

Witkowski, Terrence H. (2013), ‘Early History and Distribution of Trade Ceramics in Southeast Asia’, in Leighann C. Neilson (ed.), The Conference for Historical Analysis and Research in Marketing (CHARM) (16; Copenhagen: CHARM Association), 276–86.

Ancient Peoples

Golden solidus of Valentinian  2cm in diameter (13 / 16...

Golden solidus of Valentinian 

2cm in diameter (13 / 16 inch.) 

Byzantine Period, 365 - 374 AD. 

Source: Metropolitan Museum

Oral Poetry

Invoking the Muses

Iliad I-2.484ff. (Greek text is that of the Venetus A manuscript)

484 ἔσπετε νῦν μοι Μοῦσαι Ὀλύμπια δώματ᾽ ἔχουσαι·
485 ὑμεῖς γὰρ θεαί ἐστε πάρεστέ τε ἴστε τε πάντα·
486 ἡμεῖς δὲ κλέος οἶον ἀκούομεν οὐδέ τι ἴδμεν·
487 οἵ τινες ἡγεμόνες Δαναῶν καὶ κοίρανοι ἦσαν·
488 πληθὺν δ᾽ οὐκ ἂν ἐγὼ μυθήσομαι οὐδ᾽ ὀνομήνω
489 οὐδ᾽ εἴ μοι δέκα μὲν γλῶσσαι· δέκα δὲ στόματ᾽ εἶεν·
490 φωνὴ δ᾽ ἄρρηκτος. χάλκεον δέ μοι ἦτορ ἐνείη·
491 εἰ μὴ Ὀλυμπιάδες Μοῦσαι Διὸς αἰγιόχοιο
492 θυγατέρες μνησαίαθ᾽ ὅσοι ὑπὸ Ἴλιον ἦλθον·
493 ἀρχοὺς αὖ νηῶν ἐρέω νῆάς τε προπάσας.

[484] Tell me now, Muses who have homes on Olympus,
[485] for you are goddesses and are present for all and know all things,
[486] whereas we only hear the fame [kleos] and do not know anything,
[487] who were the leaders of the Danaans and their commanders?
[488] I do not have the words [muthos] to describe the multitude nor could I name them,
[489] not even if I had ten tongues and ten mouths,
[490] and an unbreakable voice, and the heart in me was made of bronze,
[491] if the Olympian Muses who of aegis-shaking Zeus
[492] are the daughters did not remind me how many came beneath Ilion.
[493] I will speak then the leaders and all the ships.

The Catalogue of Ships is preceded by an invocation of the Muses, which seems to have been a traditional feature of catalogues, as for many types of Archaic Greek hexameter poetry, including the Iliad and Odyssey themselves. The ἔσπετε of verse 2.484 is an aorist form of the same verb that we find in the first verse of the Odyssey: ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε μοῦσα... . The ἔσπετε formula does not seem to be a random variation, but actually serves a different purpose from the verses that open the Iliad and Odyssey. Whereas the Iliad and Odyssey each signal the driving theme of the entire epic by means of the very first word, a noun in the accusative singular (μῆνιν and ἄνδρα), the ἔσπετε formula, with the verb in first position, seems specially suited to asking a question that begins a catalogue.

The Muses were the immortal daughters of Memory (Mnemosyne; see Hesiod, Theogony 53ff.) and had the power to recall everything that has ever happened and put it in the poet's mind, as here. (The name Muse may be etymologically connected to words with the root men-, but the connection is by no means certain. For the linguistic difficulties, see Chantraine ad μοῦσα.) The enormous task of correctly recalling and narrating the catalogue only becomes possible with the Muses' mnemonic help. At the same time, the process is depicted as an oral and aural one: unlike the Muses who know all and have witnessed the events, the poet "hears the kleos" and would need an unbreakable voice in order to be able to name everyone who fought at Troy.  (See Nagy, Best of the Achaeans, chapter 15 §7.)

As Kirk has pointed out, verse 2.484 can be found in three other places in our Iliad, two of which involve catalogue-like lists. In Iliad 11.218 Agamemnon's aristeia begins:
ἔσπετε νῦν μοι Μοῦσαι Ὀλύμπια δώματ᾽ ἔχουσαι
ὅς τις δὴ πρῶτος Ἀγαμέμνονος ἀντίον ἦλθεν
ἢ αὐτῶν Τρώων ἠὲ κλειτῶν ἐπικούρων (Iliad 11.218-220) 
Tell me now, Muses who have homes on Olympus,
who was the first to come face to face with Agamemnon,
either of the Trojans themselves or their allies in fame?
Likewise at 14.508 we find the formula used to begin a list of those who are successful against their Trojan opponents once Poseidon has turned the tide of battle in favor of the Achaeans:
ἔσπετε νῦν μοι Μοῦσαι Ὀλύμπια δώματ᾽ ἔχουσαι
ὅς τις δὴ πρῶτος βροτόεντ᾽ ἀνδράγρι᾽ Ἀχαιῶν
ἤρατ᾽, ἐπεί ῥ᾽ ἔκλινε μάχην κλυτὸς ἐννοσίγαιος. (Iliad 14.508-510)
Tell me now, Muses who have homes on Olympus,
the bloody spoils: who was the first of the Achaeans
to take them, once the famous earth shaker had turned the battle?
The passage at 16.112, however, seems to be of a different sort. Here the Muses are asked to tell how fire fell on the Achaean ships:
ἔσπετε νῦν μοι Μοῦσαι Ὀλύμπια δώματ᾽ ἔχουσαι,
ὅππως δὴ πρῶτον πῦρ ἔμπεσε νηυσὶν Ἀχαιῶν. (Iliad 16.112-113) 
Tell me now, Muses who have homes on Olympus,
how fire first fell on the ships of the Achaeans.
Kirk reconciles the anomaly by saying that the formula is "used to mark a solemn moment (or one that needs to be made solemn), usually involving a list of some kind" (Kirk 1985 ad 484).

If we broaden our perspective, however, and look at what immediately follows verses 16.112-113, we can see that there is a resemblance to the previous instances:
ἔσπετε νῦν μοι Μοῦσαι Ὀλύμπια δώματ᾽ ἔχουσαι,
ὅππως δὴ πρῶτον πῦρ ἔμπεσε νηυσὶν Ἀχαιῶν.
Ἕκτωρ Αἴαντος δόρυ μείλινον ἄγχι παραστὰς
πλῆξ᾽ ἄορι μεγάλῳ αἰχμῆς παρὰ καυλὸν ὄπισθεν (Iliad 16.112-115) 
Tell me now, Muses who have homes on Olympus,
how fire first fell on the ships of the Achaeans.
Hektor, standing close, the ash spear of Ajax
struck with his great sword behind the spear-point, at the end of the shaft
The name of Hektor in the nominative in the first position, as if in answer to the question posed by 16.113, resembles 11.221 and 14.511 respectively:
Ἰφιδάμας Ἀντηνορίδης ἠΰς τε μέγας τε
ὃς τράφη ἐν Θρῄκῃ ἐριβώλακι μητέρι μήλων (Iliad 11.221-222) 
[It was] Iphidamas, the son of Antenor, good and tall,
who was raised in fertile Thrace the mother of sheep 
Αἴας ῥα πρῶτος Τελαμώνιος Ὕρτιον οὖτα
Γυρτιάδην Μυσῶν ἡγήτορα καρτεροθύμων (Iliad 14.511) 
Ajax [was] the first, the son of Telamon—he wounded Hyrtios
the son of Gyrtios, the leader of the strong-hearted Mysians.
If Kirk's interpretation is correct, the solemnity of the occasion has called for an invocation of the Muses, which in turn leads to the use of a verse structure that is often found in catalogues (which are likewise preceded by invocations of the Muses). A slightly different way to look at it is to say that the poet here is signaling that the difficulty of narrating the burning of the Achaean ships is akin to the difficulty of correctly narrating a catalogue (as we find it expressed in the Iliad 2 passage). The daunting task causes the poet to ask the Muses for help, as he would with a catalogue, which in turn naturally leads to the use of formulaic diction associated with catalogue poetry.

If this is indeed the case, we can view the verse ἔσπετε νῦν μοι Μοῦσαι Ὀλύμπια δώματ᾽ ἔχουσαι  (and the ensuing question and answer) as essentially a compression of the more expanded invocation that we find in Iliad 2. As I have written about elsewhere in connection with similes (see especially “Agamemnon’s Densely-packed Sorrow in Iliad 10: A Hypertextual Reading of a Homeric Simile” in C. Tsagalis, ed., Homeric Hypertextuality, [Trends in Classics 2 (2010): 279-299]), for a traditional audience even a highly compressed formula has the power to evoke more expanded versions of that same formula. (Mary Ebbott and I have also discussed expansion and compression in terms of theme: see the discussion of arming scenes in Dué and Ebbott 2010: 54-55.) In these examples from Iliad 11, 14, and 16 a single verse conjures for the ancient audience (and, of course, the singer) more expanded invocations and catalogues of the larger epic tradition, including the Catalogue of Ships. 

Bill Caraher (The New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World)

Fantasy, Fanboys, and Archaeology

I’ve been reading Ernie Cline’s Ready Player One in anticipation of meeting him at week’s end in Alamogordo, New Mexico as we assemble to track down millions of dumped Atari cartridges. The book is entertaining and captures a particular strain of distopian science fiction that contrasts a decaying, dangerous, and impoverished world against a gleaming virtual reality. Gibson framed it most famously as the contrast between the sprawl and the abstracted flow of data through the matrix. Cline’s book is also laced with vaguely archaeological references. Without giving too much away of the plot, the dorktastic main character engages in a quest in a massive game simulation to win a dead billionaires fortune. The quest involves the main character exploring tombs, ruins, or places frozen in time.

The archaeological character of the book, set in the middle decades of the 21st century, plays off an explicit sense of nostalgia for the 1980s. It fits nicely in the growing nostalgia for that decade that fuels, in part, the desire to track down and excavate the buried Atari cartridges in the New Mexico desert. The goal of this excavation, like the quest in Cline’s novel, is to solve a mystery, but it’s also to restore the objects buried in ground (hidden and discarded) to a place within our cultural consciousness. The act of restoring value to copies of the E.T. video game, finds a nice parallels with the plot of the movie (and the goal of the game) where the homesick alien struggles, but ultimately finds his way home.

This kind of Romantic quest for restoration projects a utopian future grounded firmly in a past that is somehow more authentic, innocent, and just. Just as Freud understood excavation as the method to uncover our primordial humanity by cutting away the cluttered overburden of the conscious mind, the nostalgic trip into the New Mexico desert to restore the game E.T. to its rightful place in our nostalgic utopian view of the past. Hayden White, following Northrop Frye, recognized Romantic forms of emplotment as evoking anarchist ideologies although not necessary in the strictest, most doctrinal sense of the word. The act of Romantic restoration, however, does fit well the task of the archaeologists who build their ideal futures through the careful reconstruction of the past.

There is something of an echo between the archaeologist’s craft and our desire to make the past whole again, and the fantasy of science fiction which so often – in its most popular form – follows the well-worn path from impending distopia to redeemed utopia. The nostalgic fanboy recognizes the Romantic emplotment common to fantasy and archaeology. The Atari dig embodies the powerful impulses of nostalgia, science-fiction, fanboy enthusiasm, and archaeological epistemologies.

The Egyptiana Emporium

NEWS: Two Twenty-sixth Dynasty tombs discovered in old city of Per Medjet

20140421-153124.jpg(Source: Luxor Times).

“Dr. Mohamed Ibrahim, Minister of Antiquities, has announced the discovery of two Twenty-sixth Dynasty tombs (663 B.C- 525 B.C) in Al Bahnsa, Minia governorate in middle Egypt.
The site of Al Bahnsa is the location of the ancient Egyptian town of Per-Medjet which was developed into the Graeco-Roman city of Oxyrhynchus.

The discovery by the Spanish team works in cooperation with an Egyptian team from the Ministry of Antiquities.

One of the tombs belongs to a scribe. A bronze inkwell and two small bamboo pens were found next to his mummy which is in good condition. Thousands of fish were found in the scribe’s tomb, some mummified. Also the top of a canopic jar was found in the tomb.

The second tomb belongs to a priest who was the head of a family – many of its members were priests in the Osireion which was discovered few years ago about 2 km to the west of the tomb.

20140421-153425.jpg(Source: Luxor Times).

Many large stone sarcophagi were found, some are broken and the rest is in good condition and bears hieroglyphic inscriptions, some alabaster canopic jars were also found inside the sarcophagus. 10s of bronze Osireion statues and bronze coins dated back to 26th Dynasty were also found in the tomb.

Read more here.

Peter Tompa (Cultural Property Observer)

Reality Check

Something that should give pause to the thinking members of the archaeological community who are not unalterably opposed to private collecting:

Does "Saying Yes to the Egyptian MOU" really mean "Saying Yes to Egypt's Military Dictatorship?" 

CPO submits as Egypt's phony election for President draws near, the answer will only become increasingly clear.

Trafficking Culture

Tchorniye arkheologi (‘Black archaeologists’ or чёрные археологи)

Different terms and nicknames are used across the world to describe illegal diggers of archaeological sites, such as tombaroli (in Italy), nighthawks (in the British Isles), and huecheros (Belize and Guatemala). In parts of Eastern Europe including the Russian Federation, and other post-Soviet states such as Moldova (Musteață 2010), and the Baltic states (Monitoring Group 2005: 19; Ulst 2010), the term ‘black archaeologist’ is widely used in both the media and the academic literature, although by definition a ‘black archaeologist’ is not an archaeologist per se, and does not adhere to the ethical or scientific standards expected of professional, trained archaeologists. The term is commonly used in Russian publications to refer to looting at archaeological sites (e.g. Александрова 2006). The Baltic States Heritage Co-operation Monitoring Group described ‘black archaeology’ as ‘meaning illegal excavations on archaeological sites’ (Monitoring Group 2005: 7). ‘Black archaeologists’ often, but not always, use a metal detector as one of their tools for finding saleable material in the ground (Musteață in press, 2014).

September 21st, 2009, at 7.30 a.m., a person with a metal detector searches in the area of Sântana de Mureş, Černjahov Culture, which was guarded by a policeman across Chişinău-Orhei motorway, Moldova. Photo taken by Dr Sergiu Musteata.

Recently the differentiation between ‘black’ (illegal) and ‘white’ (legal) in this context was made explicit in a British news article about groups in Russia working to locate military human remains from the Second World War and arrange reburial. In the article, their work as ‘white diggers’ is contrasted with the work of ‘black diggers’ (‘tchorniye kopateli’ – чёрные копатели), ‘who search for medals, guns, coins or even gold teeth which they sell online or to specialist dealers. They are not interested in identifying the soldiers – they just leave the bones in the ground’ (Ash 2014).


Ash, Lucy (2014), ‘Digging for their lives: Russia’s volunteer body hunters’, (updated 13 January 2014) <>, accessed 10 February 2014.

Monitoring Group, for Cultural Heritage Co-operation in the Baltic Sea States (2005), ‘Cultural Heritage Co-operation in the Baltic Sea States, Report 4′, in Friedrich Lüth (ed.), Cultural Heritage Co-operation in the Baltic Sea States (4; Domhof: Landesamt für Denkmalpflege Mecklenburg-Vorpommen, Archäologisches Landesmuseum Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and Council of the Baltic Sea States).

Musteață, Sergiu (2010), ‘Looting Antiquities in the Republic of Moldova’, in E. Sava, B. Govedarica, and B. Hänsel (eds.), Der Schwarzmeerraum vom Äneolitikum bis in die Frühheisenzeit (5000-500 v.Chr.), Band 2, Globale Entwicklung versus Lolageschichehen. Internationale Fachtagung von Humboldtianer im Humboldt-Kolleg in Chişinău, Moldavien (4. – 8. Oktober 2010) (Rahden/Westfalen: Verlag Marie Leidorf), 279–84.

— (in press, 2014), ‘Archaeological Heritage Crimes in Romania and Moldova: A Comparative view’, in Louise Grove and Suzie Thomas (eds.), Heritage Crime: Progress, Prospects and Prevention (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan).

Ulst, Ingrid (2010), ‘The Problems of “Black Archaeology” in Estonia’, Estonian Journal of Archaeology, 14 (2), 153–69.

Александрова, Мария А. (2006), ‘Актуальные правовые аспекты археологической деятельности ‘, Закон, 7, 124–33.

Port Royal

Once a strategically significant port and fort located close to Kingston in Jamaica, Port Royal was largely submerged following an earthquake, which left its underwater remains vulnerable to treasure hunting and commercial salvage.

Brief history

The site of Port Royal started initially as a sand spit, which the Tainos (the first inhabitants of Jamaica) used as a fishing camp, and was later used by Spanish ‘for cleaning, refitting and caulking of their sailing vessels’ (Jamaica National Heritage Trust 2011).

When a British invasion of Jamaica took place under the commands of Admiral Penn and General Venables in May 1655, a fort, initially known as Passage Fort or Fort Cromwell (after the Lord Protector of England, Oliver Cromwell) was constructed soon after (Hamilton 2000). Alongside the fort, a town named The Point or Point Cagway was established, and following the restoration of Charles II in England, the fort was renamed Fort Charles, and the settlement Port Royal (Hamilton 2000).

The settlement, which by 1692 had developed to become ‘arguably the largest and most affluent English town in the New World’ (Hamilton 2008: 259), was also notorious for piracy and buccaneering (Hamilton 2000).

On 7 June 1692, a cataclysmic earthquake struck, which along with a subsequent tidal wave killed around 2,000 people (Mayes 1972: 7–8). Over the following days, a further 3,000 perished from injuries and disease (Hamilton 2000). Structurally, the effects of the natural disaster were also profound for Port Royal, as the earthquake ‘caused about 60% of the town to literally slide into the sea’ (Mayes 1972: 7).

Attempts were made to rebuild sections of Port Royal, although it was destroyed when a fire swept through in 1703. Finally in 1722 a storm, a hurricane, and more earthquakes meant that ‘Port Royal as it once was disappeared for the last time’ (Hamilton 2000). However, the site was still used after this period for other purposes, for example as a British Naval Dockyard until 1905, and in the present survives as a ‘quiet fishing village’, albeit one with significant sites of historic and touristic interest (Jamaica National Heritage Trust 2011).

Port Royal has been described as a ‘catastrophic’ archaeological site; one of relatively very few (including Pompeii and Herculaneum) to have been created rapidly in the aftermath of a natural or other kind of disaster: ‘time is frozen, revealing a complete picture of life in the past as it once was’ (Hamilton 2005: 167).

Looting and Thefts

Northern part of Port Royal, Jamaica, 1806

Almost immediately after the first earthquake in the sixteenth century, looters began targeting the submerged sections (Gray 2008: 247), many of whom were ‘wrackers’ (professional treasure hunters) from Bermuda (Mayes 1972: 8-9). Much of this ‘salvage and looting continued intermittently for years’ (Hamilton 2005: 167).

Robert Marx, who himself explored the underwater site and recovered numerous artefacts in the 1960s, also alleges that a major theft at the Port Royal Museum in 1971, in which many artefacts including some recovered by Marx and his team went missing, was not made public at the time and no prosecutions were made (2003: 278).

Excavations and treasure hunting

In 1859, the Falmouth Post ran an article by a British diver from the Royal Navy named Jeremiah D. Murphy, who had discovered sections of a fort underwater (Gray 2008: 247). Throughout the 20th Century, explorations of the site intermittently took place, and there were also warnings of the risk to underwater sites from ‘professional and amateur divers in search of the ubiquitous sunken galleons loaded with treasure, creating serious problems for the future of marine archaeology’ (Marx 2003: 96).

Explorations of Port Royal ranged from the alleged removal in 1954 of artefacts, including a doorway and stairs by an American couple named Mr and Mrs Alexi Dupont (Gray 2008: 247), through to the work of ‘noted inventor and treasure hunter Edwin Link… …at the invitation of the wife of the American Consul General in Jamaica’ in 1956 (Marx 2003: 89). In the 1960s, Norman Scott and then Robert Marx were employed by the Jamaican government to examine Port Royal, at a time that ‘underwater archaeology worldwide was still in its infancy’ (Gray 2008: 247). During this time, it was reportedly common to find artefacts from the submerged city, with local residents apparently regularly selling ‘interesting artifacts’ to tourists (Marx 2003: 93, sic.). From the 1970s onwards, ‘it became the consistent policy of the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) to only give permission for archaeological research… …to qualified archaeologists’ (Gray 2008: 247).

In 1968, British archaeologist Philip Mayes was employed by the Jamaican National Trust Commission, with supporting funding from the British Ministry of Overseas Development, to carry out further excavation, including on land (Marx 2003: 273, and see Mayes 1972). When Mayes left in 1971, work was continued by Richard Priddy, another British archaeologist (Marx 2003: 277).

However, the longest period of excavation at Port Royal took place from 1981 to 1990 under Donny Hamilton, an American archaeologist who carried out the work in conjunction with the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, Texas A&M University and the Jamaican National Heritage Trust (Hamilton 2008: 262). He returned in 1992 for a further dive (Hamilton 2005: 166). Researchers from Texas A&M University continued to be based at Port Royal in 2012, carrying out archival research (Davis 2012).

Measures to protect Port Royal and other underwater cultural heritage in Jamaica

In 1990, ‘faced with an increase in illegal poaching and applications for treasure-hunting activities’, the Jamaican government took the decision to adopt a policy of allowing ‘only professional archaeological excavations in the territorial waters of Jamaica’ (Gray 2008: 248). However, apparently influenced by ‘presumed renewed interest worldwide in treasure hunting and advances in technology to access underwater cultural heritage sites’, the policy was amended in 2000 to allow ‘commercial exploitation of the underwater cultural heritage within certain guidelines’ (Gray 2008: 249). This policy posed challenges to heritage professionals working in Jamaica, who were faced with ‘ethically and professionally’ opposing looting and ‘nonscientific recovery of material from archaeological sites’, while also trying to adhere to the government policy of licensing commercial salvage (Gray 2008: 251). Commercial treasure hunting has been suggested elsewhere as ‘the greatest threat’ to underwater cultural heritage:

‘Treasure hunters entice governments with promises of sure profits, but the overall result has been destruction of LAC [Latin America and Caribbean] heritage sites and no sign of financial reward for participating countries.’

(Leshikar-Denton and Luna Erreguerena 2008: 26)

Jamaica was involved in discussions and meetings of UNESCO to draft the 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, but it was not able to ratify the convention, despite supporting it, until its own legislation had been sufficiently amended with regard to its policy towards commercial salvage (see Gray 2008: 251–255).

The vulnerability of the site to commercial exploitation, and the recognition that the site and associated artefacts should be preserved in situ ‘unless there is valid scientific or public reason to recover’ was recognised at the Caribbean Meeting on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage at Morgan’s Harbour Hotel in Port Royal in May 2011 (Thompson 2011). The meeting, which included representatives of the Jamaican government, resulted in UNESCO recommending that the Jamaican government take measures to protect the remains of Port Royal (Thompson 2011). On 9 August 2011, Jamaica deposited with the Director-General of UNESCO its instrument of ratification of the Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (UNESCO 2011).

In 2012, the site was identified as a potential World Heritage Site (Davis 2012, McFadden 2012), something which has been suggested intermittently in previous years as well (Hamilton 2008: 268). There are discussions to develop facilities for both tourists and local people to enjoy and learn more about the site, including the suggestion of a museum and an archaeological park (Thaffe 2012). However, the safeguarding of the remaining archaeological material continues to be central to any plans for tourism development with the government accepting ‘responsibility for seeing that the archaeological damage is mitigated as much as possible’, including involving an experienced archaeologist in any planning from the outset (Hamilton 2008: 268).


Davis, Nick (2012) ‘Jamaica’s “wickedest city” Port Royal banks on heritage’, BBC News, 25 June,, accessed 15 November 2012.

Gray, Dorrick (2008) ‘The Jamaican version: Public archaeology and the protection of underwater cultural heritage’, in Margaret Leshikar-Denton and Pilar Luna Erreguerena (eds.) Underwater and Maritime Archaeology in Latin America and the Caribbean (Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press), 245–257.

Hamilton, Donny (2000) ‘The Port Royal Project: History of Port Royal’, last updated 1 June 2001 (Texas A&M University),, accessed 5 October 2012.

Hamilton, Donny (2005) ‘Resurrecting “The Wickedest City in the World”: Port Royal, Jamaica, in George Bass (ed.) Beneath the seven seas: Adventures with the Institute of Nautical Archeology (London: Thames and Hudson), 164–171.

Hamilton, Donny (2008) ‘Port Royal, Jamaica: Archaeological past, present and future’, in Margaret Leshikar-Denton and Pilar Luna Erreguerena (eds.) Underwater and Maritime Archaeology in Latin America and the Caribbean (Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press), 259–269.

Jamaica National Heritage Trust (2011) ‘Port Royal’,, accessed 15 November 2012.

Leshikar-Denton, Margaret, and Luna Erreguerena, Pilar (2008) ‘The foundations of underwater and maritime archaeology in Latin America and the Caribbean’, in Margaret Leshikar-Denton and Pilar Luna Erreguerena (eds.) Underwater and Maritime Archaeology in Latin America and the Caribbean (Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press), 25–53.

Marx, Robert (2003) Port Royal: The sunken city (Southend-on-Sea: AquaPress).

Mayes, Philip (1972) Port Royal Jamaica: Excavations 1969-70 (Kingston: Jamaica National Trust Commission).

McFadden, David (2012) ‘Jamaica seeks heritage status for sunken Port Royal: “the wickedest city on earth”’,, 31 May,, accessed 15 November 2012.

Thaffe, Nedburn (2012) ‘Kingston without Port Royal wouldn’t really make much sense’, The Gleaner, 31 October,, accessed 15 November 2012.

Thompson, Kimone (2011) ‘Jamaica urged to take steps to protect Port Royal’, Jamaica Observer, 12 May,, accessed 15 November 2012.

UNESCO (2011) ‘Ratification by Jamaica of the Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (Paris, 2 November 2001)’, UNESCO, 22 August,, accessed 15 November 2012.

Ubina Hoard

Discovery of Viking-age silver, looted from a site in northern Estonia, in a German auction house, and their subsequent return, led to the first ever instance of a successful prosecution against looting and trafficking of cultural objects in Estonia.

The rescue excavation and plunder

On 26 April 2005, University of Tallinn archaeologists were informed by the Estonian National Heritage Board that an amateur archaeologist had made a discovery of several artefacts in a recently-ploughed field in Salu village, Ubina, Harjumaa county, northern Estonia. Among the objects found were potsherds, half a broken silver bar, and pieces of sheet silver (Tamla et al. 2005: 231).

After initial investigation, it was decided to carry out a rescue excavation at the site (Mäesalu and Valk 2006: 151), involving archaeologists and numismatists from the National Heritage Board and the University of Tallinn (Tamla et al. 2005). The two-week excavation uncovered evidence of structures, as well as material culture including pottery fragments, penannular brooches and other jewellery, and silver coins—the Silver Hoard of Ubina (Tamla et al. 2005: 234–36). Some material, such as sections of a possible earring, appear typical of Byzantine culture and likely to have traded to northern Europe during the Viking age (800-1050 AD)(Tamla et al. 2005: 237), while coins were discovered from mints in Germany, England, Arabia and Denmark, with at least five imitation Anglo-Saxon coins originating from Sweden, as well as one Hungarian and one Byzantine coin. The latest dates of the coins recovered from the site led the archaeologists to surmise that the hoard was deposited around the start of the 12th century AD (Tamla et al. 2005: 238).

After only the first day of the rescue excavation, ‘illegal archaeologists robbed the site, digging deep holes in the marked excavation plot as well as in the cultural layer beyond’, using a metal detector to assist them (Tamla et al. 2005: 233–34). Nobody was caught in the act of looting, but footprints were found across the site (Ulst 2010: 161). During the excavation period, a car was seen circling the site, which disappeared quickly when it was spotted by archaeologists. They were, however, able to note the car’s registration number (Postimees 2008).

For the rest of the excavation period, it was decided to enlist the help of the Estonian Defence League, a voluntary division of the Defence Forces, along with male archaeologists from the excavation team, to keep watch, day and night, over the site to protect it from further plunder (Tamla et al. 2005: 234).

Discovery in auction house and Prosecution

The hoard itself, as recorded by the archaeologists, consisted of 283 coins, four fragments of silver jewellery, and six sheet silver fragments. In addition to this, over 100 coins were believed to have been robbed from the site (Tamla et al. 2005: 236).

Some 108 coins were discovered later that year for sale in an auction house in the German city of Dortmund. With assistance from the German police, 42 of the coins were confiscated and returned to Estonia (Ulst 2010: 162). Investigation of the discovery of the coins led to the identification of Walter Augsburger, a German coin dealer, as the vendor. Augsburger later informed German police that he was selling the coins on behalf of Maido Kättmann (Postimees 2008), an Estonian from Pärnu, in south western Estonia.

Following the return of the coins from the German coin auction, and in light of police investigations, Kättmann was brought to court for metal detecting on the Ubina site and removing the 108 silver coins, and some pieces of jewellery (Erelt 2010; Postimees 2008). He was in the Circuit Court in 2008, and again in 2009 to appeal his guilty conviction (an appeal which failed) (Postimees 2009). In the Supreme Court in Spring 2010, he was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment (Erelt 2010; Ulst 2010: 162). According to Ulst (Ulst 2010: 162), ‘[t]he Court found the accused person guilty of destroying a cultural monument in a manner which causes significant damage (Art 204 (1) of the Penal Code) and embezzlement by a group or a criminal organization (Art 201 (2) p 4 of the Penal Code)’. Estonian archaeologists praised the prompt collaboration of police in Germany and Estonia in enabling the return of many of the coins (Tamla et al. 2005: 236).

The coins, jewellery fragments and other artefacts retrieved from the rescue excavations and from the police intervention in Dortmund, are stored at the Institute of History in Tallinn (Tamla et al. 2005: 236).

Black archaeology

In Estonia generally, it has been acknowledged that certain archaeological sites are vulnerable to illegal metal detecting (known in the region as ‘black archaeology’—‘must- arheoloogia’ (Ulst 2010: 168)), and by extension that there is an illicit trade in metal-detected objects. Similar to its neighbour Latvia, Estonia is considered to have a problem with people searching for material from the Second World War, including the looting of war graves to obtain name labels (Monitoring Group 2005: 30-31). In addition to this, there have in recent years been many cases of looting of older archaeological artefacts, including three cases that have gone to court: Lauritsamäe, Keila, and Ubina (Ulst 2012: 14). Of these, Ubina is the only case at the time of writing in which criminal proceedings have been successfully brought.

In 2011, new provisions were brought into force in Estonia for the regulation of metal detecting on unprotected archaeological sites, including the introduction of a compulsory license for metal-detector users (Ulst 2012: 20).


Erelt, Pekka (2010), ‘Töötu leidis põllult viikingite varanduse’, Eesti Ekspress, 9th September 2010.

Mäesalu, Ain and Valk, Heiki (2006), ‘Research into the Late Iron Age’, in Valter Lang and Margot Laneman (eds.), Archaeological Research in Estonia 1865-2005 (Tartu: Tartu University Press), 127–58.

Monitoring Group, for Cultural Heritage Co-operation in the Baltic Sea States (2005), ‘Cultural Heritage Co-operation in the Baltic Sea States, Report 4′, in Friedrich Lüth (ed.), Cultural Heritage Co-operation in the Baltic Sea States (4; Domhof: Landesamt für Denkmalpflege Mecklenburg-Vorpommen, Archäologisches Landesmuseum Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and Council of the Baltic Sea States).

Postimees (2008), ‘Aardekütid varastasid eesti rahva ajaloost suure suutäie’, Postimees, 31 May 2008.

— (2009), ‘Aardeküti karistus jäi jõusse’, Postimees, 11 November 2009.

Tamla, Ülle, Kiudsoo, Mauri, and Rohtla, Mari-Liis (2005), ‘Rescue excavations on the site of the discovery of the Ubina Silver Hoard’, Archeoloogilised Välitööd Eestis/Archaeolgoical field works in Estonia, 2005, 231–44.

Ulst, Ingrid (2010), ‘The Problems of “Black Archaeology” in Estonia’, Estonian Journal of Archaeology, 14 (2), 153–69.

— (2012), ‘The Role of Community Archaeology in Heritage Protection: Responsible Metal Detecting as a Tool for Enhancing the Protection of Archaeological Heritage’, (University of Tartu).



Maarit-Johanna (History of the Ancient World)

Antinoos – Keisari Hadrianuksen Rakastettu

Antinoosin rintakuva Villa Adrianassa lähellä Tivolia. Museo Pio-Clementino, Sala Rotunda. Valokuva Marie-Lan Nguyen.

Keisari Hadrianus, 117-138 jKr, on yksi monisärmäisimmistä Rooman keisareista. Hän oli erittäin älykäs , hän pystyi väittelemään aikansa merkittävämpien oppineiden kanssa, hän oli kiinnostunut arkkitehtuurista ja oli mieltynyt vaarallisiin metsästysretkiin. Hadrianus muisti ihmiset ja heidän kasvonsa niin hyvin, että hän ei tarvinnut nomenclatoreja (Nomenclator-A Latin Dictionary) , joita useimmat käyttivät tunnistamaan alaisiaan ja anomusten esittäjiä. Hadrianuksella oli nomenclatoreja näön vuoksi, mutta hän itse korjasi usein näiden tekemiä virheitä. Hän sääti lakeja orjien suojelemiseksi, hän kielsi kastraation (ainoastaan lääketieteellisistä syistä tehdyt kastraatiot olivat hyväksyttäviä). Hadrianus myöskin osoitti suurta anteliaisuutta ystävilleen. Hän kuitenkin samalla vakoili heitä ja määräsi heitä teloitettavaksi pienemmästäkin epäilystä. Hadrianuksen kaltaisen miehen oli vaikea löytää sydänystävää. Hänen vaimonsa Sabina ei sitä ollut. Hadriannus onkin todennut, että hän olisi eronnut vaimostaan jos hänellä olisi ollut samanlaiset vapaudet kuin tavallisella kansalaisella. Hadrianus rakastui lopulta täydestä sydämmestään vähäaasialaiseen nuoreen mieheen Antinookseen.

Keisari Hadrianus ja Antinoos.

Keisari Hadrianus ja Antinoos.

“Tämä on siis uusi jumala, Antinoos, joka oli keisari Hadrianuksen palvelija ja orja hänen kielletyissä huveissan; olento, jota palvottiin keisarin määräyksen vuoksi ja rangaistuksen pelossa, jonka kaikki tiesivät ja myönsivät olevan ihminen, eikä edes hyvä ja ansiokas ihminen, vaan isäntänsä himojen likainen ja halveksittava välikappale. Tämä hävytön ja pahennusta herättävä poika kuoli…ja miten täysin keisarin kieroutunut intohimo säilyi sen halveksittavan vastaanottajan kuoltua, ja miten suuresti hänen isäntänsä oli omistautunut hänen muistolleen…ja on tehnyt hänen kunniattomuutensa ja häpeänsä kuolemattomaksi”. Tämä sitaatti osoittaa miten Hadrianuksen rakkauselämä on herättänyt järkytystä ja paheksuntaa jälkimaailman historiankirjoituksessa. Myöhäisantiikista lähtien moralistit kuten kirkkoisä Athanasios ovat kauhistelleet Antinooksen sukupuolta. Nykylukijoita taas on kauhistuttanut se seikka, että Antinoos oli vasta teini-ikäinen, kun Hadrianus ihastui häneen. Hadrianuksen omana aikana roomalaiset kertoivat paheksuen huhuja, joiden mukaan Hadrianus olisi ollut kiinnostunut vanhemmista miehistä. Suurimman osan hallituskauttaan Hadrianus vietti matkustellen imperiumin rajoilla. Tämä johtui osittain siitä, ettei keisari sietänyt Rooman juonittelujen ja skandaalien leimaamaa ilmapiiriä.

Antinooksen pää, Hadrianuksen huvila, Tivoli. Antinoos oli kauneutensa lisäksi myös älykäs, rohkea ja diplomaattinen. Nämä ominaisuudet eivät kuitenkaan suojelleet häntä herjauksilta, joita myöhempien aikojen historiankirjoittajat ovat häneen kohdistaneet.

Antinooksen pää, Hadrianuksen huvila, Tivoli. Antinoos oli kauneutensa lisäksi myös älykäs, rohkea ja diplomaattinen. Nämä ominaisuudet eivät kuitenkaan suojelleet häntä herjauksilta, joita myöhempien aikojen historiankirjoittajat ovat häneen kohdistaneet.

Vuonna 123 Hadrianus matkusti Bithyniassa, joka sijaitsee Vähä-Aasian luoteisosassa. Siellä hänen seuraansa liittyi teini-ikäinen poika Antinoos. Antinoos ei ollut mikä tahansa viihdyttäjä, joka otettiin mukaan keisarin hetkellisestä oikusta. Antinoos on luultavasti ollut maineikkaan perheen poika, joka liittyi keisarin saattueeseen päästäkseen keisarilliseksi paasiksi. Antinoos oli silmiinpistävän kaunis kuten voimme havaita häntä esittävistä veistoksista. Hänen kauneutensa kiinnitti keisarin huomion, mutta Hadrianuksen syvempiä tunteita koskettivat Antinooksen terävä äly ja muut hyvät luonteenpiirteet.

Hadrianus oli intohimoinen filhelleeni, joka oli onnellisemmillaan uppoutuessaan kreikkalaiseen kulttuuriin. Ateena oli Rooman jälkeen se kaupunki, jolle keisari soi eniten huomiotaan, rahaa sekä uusia julkisia rakennuksia. Tuon ajan kreikkalaisten miesten tapana oli luoda suhteita nuoriin miehiin, efebeihin. Vanhemman miehen tehtävänä oli ryhtyä rakastajansa hyväntekijäksi ja opastaa hänen moraalista, henkistä ja fyysistä kehitystään. Kreikkalaismielinen Hadrianus on saattanut haluta itselleen oman efebin.

Nuori Antinoos. Pergamon Museo, Berliini.

Nuori Antinoos. Pergamon Museo, Berliini.

Hadrianus palasi takaisin Roomaan vuonna 125 jKr. ja lähti Kreikkaan vuonna 128 jKr. Suhde kukoisti koko matkojen välisen ajan ja Antinooksella oli merkittävä asema keisarin lähipiirissä. Lähteiden perusteella voidaan olettaa, että Antinoos vastasi Hadrianuksen aitoihin ja syviin tunteisiin.

Vuonna 130 Hadrianuksen saattue saapui Egyptiin. Niilin varrella Antinoos kuoli epäselvissä olosuhteissa. Hänen kuolemansa ei ilmeisestikään ollut luonnollinen. Eräs Hadrianuksen ajan elämänkerturi toteaa: “Hän menetti suosikkinsa Antinooksen purjehtiessaan Niilillä ja itki tätä kuin nainen”. Toisen, luultavasti Hadrianuksen oman kertomuksen mukaan “hän putosi”, mutta verbi on valittu siten, että se voidaan myös kääntää “hänet työnnettiin”.

Antinoos, poika josta tuli jumala. Hadrianuksen julistettua Antinoos jumalaksi, häntä esittäviä patsaita ilmestyi kaikkialle valtakuntaan. Näin tehtiin kunnioituksesta keisaria kohtaan ja osaksi myös Antinooksessa henkilöityvän maskuliinisen kauneuden ylistämiseksi.

Antinoos, poika josta tuli jumala. Hadrianuksen julistettua Antinoos jumalaksi, häntä esittäviä patsaita ilmestyi kaikkialle valtakuntaan. Näin tehtiin kunnioituksesta keisaria kohtaan ja osaksi myös Antinooksessa henkilöityvän maskuliinisen kauneuden ylistämiseksi.

Nämä yksinkertaiset väittämät ovat synnyttäneet paljon spekulaatioita. Surmasiko hän rakastajansa riidan jälkeen vai hukuttiko Antinooksen vihamielinen hoviväki? tekikö Antinoos itsemurhan vain kuoliko hän silvottuna oudossa pakanallisessa riitissä?. Luultavimmin hän hukkui jokeen päätellen siitä perusteellisuudesta, jolla egyptiläiset paneutuivat hänen kulttiinsa. He uskoivat, että kuolema Niilin vedessä oli pyhä tapa kuolla. Voimakkaiden virtausten vuoksi Antinooksen olisi tarvinnut olla erittäin uhkarohkea tai itsemurha aikeissa mennäkseen Niiliin uimaan vapaaehtoisesti.

Kenties melkein 18-vuotias Antinoos tiesi, että hänestä oli tulossa liian vanha osaansa tai ehkä Hadrianuksessa näkyi jo merkkejä sairaudesta, johon hän lopulta menehtyi. Ehkä Antinoos uskoi, että uhraamalla itsensä Egyptin pyhälle joelle hän saisi jumalat ottamaan vastaan hänen elämänsä rakastettunsa puolesta. Hadrianuksen suru oli pohjaton. Antinoos julistettiin jumalaksi, häntä esittäviä muistomerkkejä nousi ympäri imperiumin, ja hänen kuolinpaikalleen perustettiin Antinoopoliksen kaupunki.

Antinoos egyptiläisten näkemyksen mukaan.

Antinoos egyptiläisten näkemyksen mukaan.

Lähde : Philip Matyszak & Joanne Berry : Lives of the Romans

Filed under: Antiikin Rooma Tagged: Antiikin historia, Antiikin Rooma, Antinoos, Hadrianus, Rooman keisarit

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Open Access Monograph Series: Oriental Institute Communications (OIC)

Oriental Institute Communications (OIC)

For an up to date list of all Oriental Institute publications available online see:

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

Deeper Christian Faith

Crystal St. Marie Lewis wrote a post about her experience as a liberal Christian. Here is a sample:

The “Why Jesus?” and “Why Christianity?” questions are seemingly based on the assumption that Christianity has no redeeming qualities once one has ventured outside the traditional sphere– but this has not been my experience. For instance, the gospels gained a greater element of depth for me when I realized how much of them could be interpreted as loaded metaphor. Similarly, the person of Jesus became an object of fascination for me after learning about the power of the Logos in ancient philosophy, and about the manner in which Jesus himself was used an object of metaphor for gospel writers.

The expectation seems to be that the journey into liberalism will ultimately lead to something other than a deepened expression of the Christian faith. While this may be true for some, we must remember that it is not the case for all of us. Liberal Christianity can lead us into a prolonged dance in the wondrous tension of faith and reason… of mysticism and traditionalism… of belief and doubt, all while incorporating the influence of scripture and tradition. An embrace of reason, history, context and controversy will not necessarily lead to the end of faith. For many of us, these places of tension are only the beautiful beginning.

Click through to read the rest.


Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Open Access Journal: I Quaderni del Ramo d'Oro

[First posted in AWOL 26 January 2009. Updated 21 April 2014]

I Quaderni del Ramo d'Oro
ISSN 2035-7524
"I Quaderni del Ramo d'Oro on-line" costituiscono la rivista del Centro Interdipartimentale di Studi Antropologici sulla Cultura Antica (Università di Siena).
Iscritti nel Registro Periodici del Tribunale di Siena e di consultazione libera e gratuita, "I Quaderni del Ramo d'Oro on-line" pubblicano contributi previa valutazione da parte del Comitato Scientifico e di referees internazionali.
Per ulteriori informazioni si vedano:
1. Gerenza
2. Redazione
3. Invio dei contributi

Greek Roman and Byzantine Monographs (GRBM) Online

[First posted in AWOL 1 December 2010.  Updated 21 April 2014]

Greek Roman and Byzantine Monographs (GRBM)
Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Monographs 
1. G. L. Huxley, Anthemius of Tralles: A Study in Later Greek Geometry.  1959. [Link]
2. Emerson Buchanan, Aristotle’s Theory of Being. 1962. [Link]
3. Jack L. Benson, Ancient Leros. 1963. [Link]
4. William M. Calder III, The Inscription from Temple G at Selinus. 1963. [Link]
5. Mervin R. Dilts, ed., Heraclidis Lembi Excerpta Politiarum.  1971. [Link]
6. Eric G. Turner, The Papyrologist at Work.  1973. [Link]
7. Roger S. Bagnall, The Florida Ostraka: Documents from the Roman Army in Upper Egypt.  1976. [Link]
8. Graham Speake, A Collation of the Manuscripts of Sophocles’ Oedipus Coloneus.  1978. [Link]
9. Kevin K. Carroll, The Parthenon Inscription.  1982. [Link]
10. Studies Presented to Sterling Dow.  1984. [Link]
11. Michael H. Jameson, David R. Jordan, and Roy D. Kotansky, A Lex Sacra from Selinous.  1993. [Link]
Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Scholarly Aids
1. Index of Passages Cited in Herbert Weir Smyth Greek Grammar.  Compiled under the direction of Walter A. Schumann.  1961. [Link]
2. Sterling Dow, Conventions in Editing.  1969. [Link]
Out of series
Keith Stanley, A Generation of Antiquities: The Duke Classical Collection 1964-1994 (1994). [Link]

Geoff Emberling (El Kurru: A Royal City of Ancient Kush)

End-of-the-season: Final thoughts

This was a challenging and interesting season at El Kurru. We worked long hours, and our work was often physically demanding. We made progress toward our goals of understanding the ancient settlement, but our current results are not yet fully satisfying. We worked on monumental structures that we will hope to finish excavating in the next season, and that we will hope to be able to understand more fully in terms of their date and their function.

We are extremely grateful to our hosts in Sudan. First, to the antiquities department (which is called the National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums, or NCAM) and particularly to the Director-General Dr. Abdelrahman Ali; the Director of Excavations, El-Hassan Ahmed Mohammed; our inspector Murtada Bushara, who is also the Director of Antiquities for the Northern State in Sudan; and the Sudanese Project Coordinator of the Qatar-Sudan Archaeological Project, Dr. Salaheldin Mohammed Ahmed. One of the great things about doing archaeology in Sudan is having such great colleagues to work with.

Murtada at work at El Kurru
We are also grateful to everyone in El Kurru village who made our stay so enjoyable. I worked particularly closely with two men—our foreman Mansour Mohammed Ahmed, who is also one of NCAM’s guards at the site, and Es-Sadeq Mohammed Saleh, another of NCAM’s guards who was also our very helpful and generous landlord.

It was a pleasure to work with James Barrat and the rest of the National Geographic film crew, and we’re looking forward to seeing what they will do with all the footage and conversations we had on site.

Finally, I am happy to thank my excavation team and colleagues, both in the Sudanese team of Prof. Abbas and Prof. Jamal, and in the Copenhagen-based team of Prof. Rachael Dann. I am already looking forward to next season!

Some of the the Nile on a hot day

Thanks to you all for reading along. I'll hope to do this again next year.

David Meadows (rogueclassicism)

This Day in Ancient History: ante diem xi kalendas maias

ante diem xi kalendas maias

  • Parilia (a.k.a. Palilia) — originally a festival in honour of Pales (who protected shepherds and their flock), it eventually evolved — in the city of Rome, at least — into a ‘birthday of Rome’ celebration
  • 753 B.C. — traditional date for the foundation of Rome
  • 43 B.C. — pro-Caesarian forces “under” Octavian defeat the forces of Marcus Antonius at Mutina
  • 47 A.D. – Claudius celebrates the ludi Saeculares (?)
  • 148 A.D. – Antoninus Pius celebrates the 900th anniversary of Rome
  • 248 A.D. – Philip Arabus celebrates the 1000th anniversary of Rome

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

Saving Mr. Banks

I recently saw the movie Saving Mr. Banks. It was very enjoyable, and at times profoundly moving. I appreciated the words that were attributed to Walt Disney, about the role of those who tell stories in not merely preserving memories but recasting the world: “That’s what we storytellers do, we restore order through imagination.”

Of related interest, Hemant Mehta blogged about the lack of mention of God in Disney films.

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

Diving to see the Roman Empire

Stanford scholar Justin Leidwanger spends a lot of time underwater. An assistant professor of classics, Leidwanger is a maritime archeologist. His research entails what it sounds like it would – exploring artifacts that lie beneath the sea.

underwater romans

Maritime archeologist Justin Leidwanger maps the cargo of a Roman shipwreck at Marzamemi, Italy. (Photo: S. Emma)

A scholar with interests in the Roman and early Byzantine eras, Leidwanger has conducted thousands of dives – mostly to explore shipwrecks of the Eastern Mediterranean region. His students, too, don snorkels or scuba gear and work underwater.

Marine archeology, Leidwanger says, provides a privileged perspective on ancient history: “There is a lot of theoretical work on the maritime economy of the Roman Empire, but I am interested in the close details of sea travel and how archeological finds can shed light on the history of consumption and connectivity around the Mediterranean.”

The social networks established by sea travel, Leidwanger says, were the basis of commerce during the Roman Empire, and in the shipwrecks and harbors he is able to see evidence of “who was interacting with whom and how and when these objects were being transported and for what reason.”

Leidwanger’s aim is to bring together the theoretical models of ancient economics and socioeconomic connectivity with hard data from his underwater fieldwork. “The Roman Empire was the most complex state structure at the time with a lot of movement of goods and people through the landscape,” Leidwanger added. “I am interested in how these structures and social networks change over the life of the Roman Empire.”

He is currently engaged in two projects, the Marzamemi Maritime Heritage Project in Sicily and the Burgaz Harbors Project in Turkey. “Sicily was a nexus of communication and commerce between the eastern and western Roman Mediterranean. In the shipwrecks there, we are finding evidence of the changing patterns of commerce when the capital moved from Rome to Constantinople in the 4thcentury A.D.,” Leidwanger notes.

In Turkey, archeologists are currently excavating four shallow-water harbors to get a picture of what the harbor structures were like. In the 4th century B.C., during the late Classical period, Burgaz became a regional and international economic center for the export of agricultural goods. “We are finding evidence of how these integral structures changed over time,” Leidwanger says.

Uncovering history in the mare nostrum

The location of Leidwanger’s current research is key to uncovering archeological data about the importance of the Mediterranean Sea for the Romans. “The Mediterranean Sea has been described as an ‘inverted continent,’ a zone of human culture and relationships centered on the sea rather than land, a product of geography that led me to focus on the maritime,” Leidwanger said.

To undertake his research, Leidwanger maps and excavates marine sites to understand what was being transported and when.

At sites in Sicily or Turkey, where he travels each summer with Stanford students, Leidwanger excavates harbors and shipwrecks that often contain well-preserved artifacts that he can analyze in the lab. “The great thing about shipwrecks is that I often find intact pottery jars, which are very helpful, as you can then determine their capacity, what they transported and how they were used.”

These artifacts, he says, often provide glances into their history. “They sometimes have inscriptions on them, one scratched over another, so I can establish a life history of those objects, which can then quantifiably fit into a larger history on the movement of objects and the nature of consumption in maritime antiquity,” Leidwanger said.

“In Sicily, I have raised artifacts from half a mile off the coast of Marzamemi, where there are a dozen shipwrecks, including vessels carrying massive granite columns and prefabricated marble architectural elements, probably to be used in an early Byzantine church during the 6th century,” he said.

High-tech teamwork

Leidwanger’s work is an international operation. In his two current projects in Sicily and Turkey, Leidwanger has collaborators from Canada, Italy, Turkey and Israel. Stanford students also play a fundamental role on the field trips.

“Our students get a lot of field experience in different parts of the world. This summer, I’ll be taking a number of undergraduates and graduates with me to both Turkey and Sicily. It is a cultural experience, and one in which the students’ input is vital,” Leidwanger said.

Megan Daniels, a graduate student in classics, works with Leidwanger on the site in Turkey, assisting with pottery analysis.

“We perform visual and scientific analyses on the ceramics to better understand local and long-distance trade routes and the long-term dynamics of the maritime economy. Working with the raw materials of trade to contribute to a broader picture of the ancient economy is very exciting,” Daniels said.

Technology plays a key role in the equipment- and cost-intensive world of marine archeology. Sonar and other remote sensing technologies help to find and contextualize sites, while innovative computer applications allow archaeologists to create 3-D maps of the seabed.

“It is important to choose the right tools for the right occasion, and you need to have the right research questions. What goods were moving, and why? How did this change over time? These are the questions that motivate me,” Leidwanger said.

Marissa Ferrante, an undergraduate majoring in archeology, traveled to Sicily as part of the team last summer. According to Ferrante, who is currently creating a 3-D topographic map of the site and the seabed, “Excavating underwater sites and collecting data in the field has allowed me to relate classroom discussions of theories and archaeological best practices to real-world applications.”

Preserving cultural heritage

Leidwanger and his team use technological tools to map the site and then set up a conservation lab to begin analysis.

“Underwater artifacts tend to soak up salt, so they need long-term treatment. Wood, pottery, stone and metal all need different treatment processes. At our colleagues’ lab in Turkey, for example, they are still conserving and mending pottery that was excavated in the 1980s and 1990s.”

After the artifacts are extracted and restored, they are often exhibited in museums and used to highlight heritage issues and establish marine preserves.

Leidwanger, who teaches a class on archeological ethics, is passionate about the process of sustainable archeology. “Legal jurisdictions, particularly underwater, aren’t always well defined, and heritage and preservation therefore become key issues. The sovereignty over sites and excavated materials can be unclear and there are some opportunists around.”

Leidwanger makes an effort to situate his research within a broader dialogue on natural and cultural heritage practices. In Sicily, for example, he said he is “helping to implement state-of-the-art site management alongside local initiatives for environmentally sustainable tourism and economic development.”

For Leidwanger, archeology is more than just looking at artifacts and excavation sites: “For me, it is about establishing and maintaining cultural heritage so that we can better understand history. It is about social networks and human relationships with objects and places, relationships that are as important today as they were in the past.” ~ by Tom Winterbottom

Source: Stanford University


He has a wife you know

crazyqueerclassicist: hierophage: punkcub: “Bas-relief of a...




“Bas-relief of a legged phallus ejaculating into an evil eye on which a scorpion sits, from Leptis Magna

Take that, ayn al-asūd!

Rumored to be a leaked image of an upcoming Gen. VII pokemon

Jim Davila (

Sof pasuk

IT'S NOT OVER: Word of the Day / Sof pasuk: Ending things, biblical style. A poetic phrase to help express one's strongly-held feelings. (Shoshana Kordova, Haaretz).
“This isn’t sof pasuk,” they said, using a phrase that roughly means “This isn’t the last word” or “It’s not over yet.”

Sof means “end” and pasuk (pah-SOOK) is a verse in the Bible (with pasuk muzikali meaning “musical phrase”), such that the term literally means “end of the verse.”

More to the point, perhaps, it is the name of the Torah cantillation symbol that signals, not surprisingly, the end of the verse, the same way that “period” in American English and “full stop” in British English are the names of the punctuation mark that signals the end of a sentence.

Maaloula, Easter, Assad, and Aramaic

MAALOULA WATCH: Assad makes Easter visit to recaptured Christian town.
State television reports Syrian president goes to Maalula, taken by government forces in December
(AFP). See also here.

Well that was a good gesture, but more is needed: Why the language of Jesus is at risk (Kinda Jayouse, Globe and Mail).
But in the Syrian civil war, Maaloula is also strategically significant. The village is located near the main road that links Damascus to Homs, which is considered an essential supply route. That is why the government was eager to retake Maaloula from rebels – to cut off their supply routes and give the government more control of central Syria.

The exodus of Christians over the past year has worried experts, who fear that Aramaic speakers will integrate into their new communities and eventually the language will disappear. And although the village has been recaptured, many believe that the residents will not return because their homes have been destroyed, they are not wealthy enough to rebuild and the insecurity of the civil war continues.

“The village is badly damaged and security is very limited,” says one Maaloula resident who did not want to be named for safety reasons. “I do not think we will be able to go there to settle in a long time.”

“We are so happy [Maaloula] is free now, but the village is littered with land mines, many parts of it are destroyed and some homes have been torched,” says a former resident named Ward, who fled in late 2013 and has taken refuge in Damascus. “Most villagers are poor and I doubt they would have the means to rebuild their homes. And those who have the means are afraid that the general security situation is not stable yet or safe,” she added.
Meanwhile in the USA: Assyrians Who Fled Syria Prepare to Celebrate Easter in Chicago (Angie Leventis Lourgos, Chicago Tribune).

The situation in Maaloula is critical and its status as one of last remaining places where Aramaic is spoken as a daily language hangs in doubt. This is a chance for the Assad Government to demonstrate its goodwill and commitment to human rights and religious tolerance. Let's see Maaloula rebuilt, re-established for the original inhabitants, and made secure.

The world is watching.

Background on Maaloula (Ma'aloula, Malula) is here and links.

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Syria: UK exporters told they could be breaking law by handling looted artefacts

Martin Bailey, 'Warning over of Syrian loot: UK exporters told they could be breaking law by handling  looted artefacts', the Art Newspaper 18 April 2014

In a letter to the trade sent last month, The Arts Council in England has warned UK exporters about the legality of handling Syrian antiquities.  Dealers are reminded that:
new European Union regulations outlaw “the import, export or transfer of Syrian cultural property... where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that [objects] have been removed [from the country] illegally”. The initiative is particularly aimed at safeguarding items from Syrian museums, archives, libraries and religious institutions. It does not affect items which came out of Syria before May 2011. The regulations represent part of the European sanctions against Syria’s Assad government.
There is also the small matter of the UK having also specific legislation (Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Act 2003) over a decade old now, and totally ignored, it would seem from this text, by the Arts Council.  

Mudlarking Mosaic finished

Julia Smith () has completed her mosaic of mudlarked firnds from the London foreshore, "Fragments from 1,500 objects belonging to 1,500 Londoners over 7 centuries"   

All Mesopotamia

massarrah: Assyrian Relief from the Palace at Nineveh Carved...


Assyrian Relief from the Palace at Nineveh

Carved into a gypsum wall-panel from the South West Palace of the king Sennacherib at Nineveh, this relief shows two of the king’s bodyguards dressed in austere uniforms that nevertheless have fine details. Both figures exhibit features that suggest them to have been drawn from different parts of the extensive Neo-Assyrian empire. For example, although the one on the right bears a shield similar to those of Assyrian soldiers, his turban and kilt suggest him to be from Palestine or elsewhere nearby. (Source)

Neo-Assyrian, 700-659 BCE, Nineveh.

British Museum.

Beautiful details.

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Stolen Bodrum Artefacts Returned to Turkey

Burcu Çalık, 'US National Returns Stolen Artefacts to Turkey' Daily Sabah 16.04.2014
U.S. citizen Kyoko Schmidt has returned two fourth-century amphoras which her husband stole from Turkey in 1965. The amphoras arrived in Turkey last week after Schmidt delivered them to the Turkish embassy in Washington, which handed them over to the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in the Turkish capital Ankara [....]  the amphoras were extracted from a shipwreck off the coast of Bodrum, a town in the southwest of Turkey in the 1960s. Initial examination by experts shows that the amphoras resembled Mende amphoras, named after an ancient Greek city located in the northern Greece.
For an earlier Bodrum shipwreck, see here and here (this wreck was discovered by archaeologists twenty years after this amphora theft took place). Mende is an important Greek wine producing area on Macedonia's coast and the amphoras  are generally late fifth/early fourth century BC. The newspaper appends to this the account of another 'repatriation' from America:
In February, Rick O'Ryan, another U.S. national, returned two amphoras smuggled out of Turkey in the 1950s by his father, a U.S. official who had been posted in Turkey at the time.
Another US diplomat on the take while on official business? 

He has a wife you know

Map of Aeneas’ journey according to the Aeneid

Map of Aeneas’ journey according to the Aeneid

Hero Histories: Before Katniss was...Diana the Huntress!

Hero Histories: Before Katniss was...Diana the Huntress!:

You thought it was only male superheroes who fought the Nazis? Nah, the female deities were in there too!

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

PAS Anticipates "October Milestone"

Pretty pathetic, millions and millions of pounds spent on an ineffective attempt to mitigate the huge losses of archaeological material to tens of thousands of scattered ephemeral personal collections and the PAS is looking forward to having numbers in six million (objects, not records) on their incomplete database  Daniel Pett ‏@portableant 17 kwi 2014 writes:
Just over 50,000 objects away from the 1 millionth recorded on - looking like an October milestone coming.
and the Heritage Action Erosion Counter ticks on relentlessly and unnoticed by the PAS ... or is it?

Should Customs be 'More Vigilant'?

My comment on Elginism's "Brit fined for attempting to auction looted Egyptian artefacts" (April 16, 2014) about the Kingsbury case. He suggested: "The fact also needs to be noted that the items were smuggled from Egypt in a suitcase on a flight – more needs to be done by countries to protect the egress of looted artefacts through their borders, helping to stop the trade by making it much more difficult for international buyers". I am not convinced that this is the main way to go.
Hi, I am not sure that having Egyptian, Spanish, Italian etc etc customs opening everybody’s carefully packed luggage to see if they’ve not slipped an ancient coin in their folded socks on the way home is really the way we want to see this go. This is the collectors’ argument (“”They” should take more care of their stuff, if they did, we would not take it”). We’d all suffer because of the smugglers that way.
Surely (in addition, obviously, to random checks of travellers by customs) there should be more control on artefacts suddenly “surfacing” from nowhere at all. So in the Kingsbury story involving a dead uncle, what documentary proof was offered? Documents proving the uncle existed, had served in Egypt, had brought stuff back legally and the will where Mr K is bequeathed them? Or did the seller just turn up, tell the story about this “uncle” and that was enough for the auction house to accept these items? If Christies are taking the high ground over their due diligence, then the least they can do is tell us – and future potential clients – just how exactly they verified that collecting history.

Police Recover 5,000-Year-Old Treasure in Bulgaria

Gold elements
The Sophia News Agency reports that suspected antiquities smugglers have been detained by Bulgaria’s Agency for National Security. Among the artefacts seized were a marble relief dating to the second or third century 100 coins, and elements of three necklaces made up of some 15,000 gold beads dating from the third millenniums B.C., which had come from a prehistoric necropolis.. Two guns were also recovered. 
The necklaces are estimated to be 5,000 years old. “Such things don’t have a price tag, because this is not a supermarket. Those golden artifacts are 1,500 years old than the Trojan War and 2,500 years older than all Thracian treasures that we know of,” said Bozhidar Dimitrov, director of Sofia’s National History Museum.
Police Recover 5,000-Year-Old Treasure in Bulgaria Archaeology Monday, April 14, 2014

'Bulgarian FBI retrieves stolen treasure worth millions', standartnews 15.04.14

Art looting and smuggling: A deadly business

Georgina Adam ('Art looting and smuggling: A deadly business', BBC 15 April 2014 ) discuses the dark side of the antiquities trade ("Some antiquities are rumoured to be cursed; but those stolen and sold really do leave a trail of lawsuits – and sometimes bodies – in their wake")
The art the Nazis hated Buried treasure, mysterious deaths, looting, forged documents, secretive Swiss bank vaults and shadowy intermediaries. This is not a description of a Dan Brown thriller. It’s real life: the trade in illegally exported antiquities. As prices soar into the millions of dollars for the top pieces, so does the incentive to dig up treasures in Italy, Greece, Turkey and farther afield, pass them to “runners” who will sneak them illegally across borders, store them in a Swiss vault and then quietly slip them into the trade. The players in this murky world can make a fortune, but this is a dangerous game.
Those involved in it, at whatever level, are running the risk of becoming part of networks which involve some very nasty criminals indeed. The antiquities trade has, according to The New York Times, become so huge it is worth billions of dollars each year and the biggest international crime outside drug and arms trafficking.

The article mentions:
- the withdrawal in March 2014 by Bonhams of the Assyrian stele ("estimated at £600,000-£800,000 ($1m-$1.3m) [...] containing a curse in cuneiform")  suspected of being looted from eastern Syria at an unknown date.
-  Bonhams and Christie’s pulling smaller objects from their March sales this year, on presentation of evidence they'd passed through the hands of Giacomo Medici and Gianfranco Becchina.
- another Becchina piece ("a $4m (£2.4m) ancient Roman statue in a New York warehouse").
- "in recent years numerous American museums – including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Boston’s Museum of Fine Art and the Getty in Los Angeles – have been forced to return looted antiquities to their host (sic) countries".
- The notorious ("£100m ($167m)") Sevso treasure
It is not entirely clear why this text bears the dramatic title it does, there were unexplained deaths associated with the Sevso Hoard, but other cases of deaths and injuries associated with this business (and there have been a few) are not mentioned.

Georgina Adam on the Sevso Hoard

In her article about the darker side of the antiquities trade, Georgina Adam ('Art looting and smuggling: A deadly business', BBC 15 April 2014) gives an interesting summary of the Sevso Hoard case:

"probably the most dramatic case of looted antiquities concerns the notorious £100m ($167m) Sevso treasure, a magnificent cache of late Roman silver dating from the fourth or fifth Century AD and comprising inlaid platters, ewers and bowls, which was unearthed in the 1970s, almost certainly in Hungary. The finder, a Hungarian soldier, was later found hanged in a cellar, and two of his friends died in unexplained circumstances. The silver – contained in a giant copper cauldron which he had buried in the cellar – had disappeared. Pieces started filtering onto the London art market in the 1980s and a British aristocrat, the Marquess of Northampton, formed a consortium to buy 14 of them, along with the late Peter Wilson, at the time chairman of Sotheby’s. Forged documents from Lebanon were produced to give a provenance to the treasure, and it was put up for sale in New York in 1990 at a price of $50m. However immediately three countries – Hungary, Croatia and Lebanon – claimed the cache as being from their territories. The works were hurriedly withdrawn from sale. While a subsequent court case confirmed Lord Northampton as the legal owner of the treasure, it had become unsaleable, and the aristocrat later dubbed it “cursed”. It disappeared into a Channel Islands bank vault until 2006, when it was unveiled at Bonhams in a one-day “invitation only”, ostensibly non-selling show, then disappeared again. The story came to a partial resolution last month, when the Hungarian government announced that it had acquired seven of the 14 pieces from the heirs of Peter Wilson for €15m (£12.4m). As for the Northampton part of the cache, its fate remains mysterious: Lord Northampton divorced his fifth wife in 2012 with a secret settlement said to be worth £17m: it is not known if she received part of the hoard in the deal. Still swirling around the market are persistent rumours that there is even more to the treasure than the known 14 pieces. Archaeologists claim that such finds always include spoons and coins, which were missing when the pieces started coming onto the market. Many believe they are still languishing in Swiss bank vaults, with the owner(s) waiting for the provenance issues to be cleared up entirely. It is to be ardently hoped that one day the whole hoard, in all its magnificence, will be returned to Hungary to be displayed together once again".

N.S. Gill ( Classical/Ancient History)

Happy Birthday!

On this day in ancient history - Parilia and Rome's Birthday: What Happened on Rome's Birthday?

In ancient Rome, this was the date of the Parilia and was the accepted date ...

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Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Babylonian cylinder sells for $500,000

Anne Crane, 'Babylonian cylinder sealed at $500,000' Antiques Trade Gazette 14 April 2014

The  21cm cuneiform clay barrel cylinder from the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon (604-562BC) which I wrote about here earlier being sold by Doyle in New York ended in it reaching $500,000 (£312,500)
The price on April 9, paid by a phone bidder, was at the upper end of a $300,000-500,000 estimate. Almost exactly three years ago, on April 13, 2011, Bonhams sold another barrel cylinder from Nebuchadnezzar's reign with cuneiform relating to the same subject in their London rooms for £220,000. Bonhams' version was smaller at 5.25in (13.3cm), with 18 lines of text, and had a different provenance. It had been deaccessioned by a New England museum who acquired it in the 1990s, but prior to that had belonged to the archaeologist and diplomat Dr Edgar Banks who was field director of the Babylonian Expedition and American Consul to Baghdad in 1937. 

Monica Hanna Grilled at Woodrow Wilson Centre

American burger grill
Peter Tompa's report of Monica Hanna's appearance at the Woodrow Wilson Centre ('Monica Hanna: The Arab Spring and the State of Egyptian Antiquities' CPO Tuesday, April 15, 2014) largely skips over the details of what the speaker said but concentrates on what the US questioners were drilling away at. His account of Washington hospitality is as uncharitable as his previous comments on her.  It is quite clear that Mr Tompa's aim is to exploit every opportunity provided to question the US introducing any additional controls on the import of paperless Egyptian antiquities.
1) "The first questioner [who appeared to be associated with the Wilson Center] asked about government involvement in looting, but Hanna did not answer that question".
2) "The first questioner again asked Hanna if the authorities were involved [and] pressed Hanna about any involvement by the current government".
3) "Another questioner asked about whether there was a “concerted international response” to looting". 4) "Another questioner asked Hanna about the MOU with the United States".
5) "Another individual indicated he had a State Department contract with a company that planned to assist Egypt create a database of artifacts in State Museum stores. He wanted it to be known that two consecutive US Ambassadors had tried to get the Egyptian government to cooperate with the project, but the Mubarak Government stymied it".
6) "In response to another question, Hanna indicated that she does not approve of private collecting".
And that, according to Mr Tompa, is it. Three questions intended to entrap Ms Hanna over the MOU and one bloke whose contract was not approved by the Egyptian government came along to complain. Two of the reported public questions intended to entrap came from somebody from the inviting institution which is a crass breach of professional courtesy. In Tompa's account, there were no questions from the floor about Ms Hanna's work, there were no questions about what concerned Americans can do to help. The main thrust of the report seems to be that the presence of Ms Hanna in Washington was being exploited to gather facts with which to oppose the signing of any bilateral cultural property agreement. If this is what happened (and I look forward to seeing a report that indicates that Mr Tompa presented an untrue version) it's disgusting.

As for the guy who "had a State Department contract with a company that planned to assist Egypt create a database of artifacts in State Museum stores" supported by "two consecutive US Ambassadors", perhaps the problem is that in cultural property protection measures, the United States rather than offering help, seems awfully sure of its right to impose additional conditions on others. We see this all the time in the discussion of the MOUs. Funnily enough, not all of us 'welcome' excessive US interference in internal affairs. I would suggest that the reason why this firm could not fulfil its contract most likely is that the US was trying to impose something on the Egyptians to which they were not inclined to agree (for example if this was a firm from the US, would the proposed record have been in English or Arabic?). Certainly The Egyptian Museum Registrar Training Project, made possible through a grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), was running from January 2007, so it is not as if there was no willingness in Egypt to work with Americans in cataloguing objects.

Illicit Antiquities: Metal Detectorists Show Their True Colours

From a metal detecting blog near you, here is pro-smuggler oikism in full throttle:

John Howland kindly put together the following and here again we need to support our fellow collectors. If we only think in terms of detecting and our own self interests we are ignoring the elephant in the room….
The Land of the Free?
Whether the FMDAC is doing its stuff remains a moot point.  I hope it is.  But over in Washington, DC, attorney Peter Tompa, who’s also an internationally respected coin collector is taking a firm stand against what amounts to a cultural mugging as US State Department officials prompted by foreign heritologists cosy-up, hand-in-blouse, with Egypt’s military regime to do their bidding. If you are concerned at this appalling situation then click on Peter Tompa’s excellent, informative blog at:-
So, to submit comments concerning the proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), go to the Federal Rulemaking Portal and enter Docket No. DOS-2014-0008 and by all means speak your mind.
If you were not asked about this by your political representative, why not have your say and make your feelings known as Peter suggests.
("Take a Moment and Make a Difference…" April 19, 2014 · 9:40 am)

The CCPIA exists to protect the archaeological heritage from the no-questions-asked US antiquities market. Yes, let us ask the American people in general, are you for or against the trade in smuggled ancient artefacts by US Dealers and collectors? Which side are "responsible" detectorists on?  US archaeologist Lisa McIntyre maintains her stubborn silence. 

NYT on "Repatriation"

Fitting the two halves of a
dismembered artwork
 Vision of Home: Returned AntiquitiesRepatriated Works Back in Their Countries of Origin" April 17, 2014
The New York Times has a piece by Rachel Donadio: "
In recent years, museums across the United States and Europe have begun returning objects to their countries of origin. Each case tells its own story. While much attention has focused on the act of repatriation, The New York Times looked at what happened to several objects after they went back. Some works, returned with great fanfare, have taken on greater meaning back on view in the countries or cultures that produced them. Other times, after the triumphalism fades, they fall victim to benign neglect, or are not always easy to reach.
The objects discussed are:
- Goddess of Morgantina from Getty to Aidone, Sicily.
- Machu Picchu  from  Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History to Cuzco, Peru.
- St. Euphemianos in Lyssi, Byzantine fresco fragments, from Menil Collection Houston, to Cyprus.
- Perge “Weary Herakles” from Museum of Fine Arts in Boston to Antalya, Turkey.
- Cerveteri, Euphronios krater, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to the National Etruscan Museum in Rome’s Villa Borghese park. 
The text seems to be assessing whether the 'repatriated' objects are in the right place through visitor figures. It makes no mention at all of what is being done to prevent stolen items ending up in positions where they have to be "repatriated", it seems to me the focus is on the wrong end of the process. But then American authors tend most often to see the issue as one of kudos-building and point-scoring "repatriation" rather than looting.

Ancient Art

A quick look at: smiting scenes in ancient Egyptian art. Why are...

A quick look at: smiting scenes in ancient Egyptian art. Why are they significant?

Both of the shown examples above are of Ramesses III at Medinet Habu. The first shows Ramesses smiting the enemies of Egypt before Amon-Re, who hands him a curved sword; the second image shows him smiting Canaanite enemies. 

The smiting scene is a traditional symbol of kingship in ancient Egypt, which is datable back to the Predynastic period, and is symbolic of a victorious king. These scenes include the king raising a weapon over the head of an enemy (or a large groups of them as shown in the first photo), ready to smite them. Their hair is often grabbed from above to hold them in place for their execution. These representations grew to also include lists of the conquered enemies, and reached their peak in the New Kingdom, where the inclusion of an anthropomorphic deity became standard (photo one). 

These scenes reinforced the king’s control over chaos, symbolically representing the bringing of justice (maat) to the defeated, chaotic enemy.

A few other examples:

  • One of the earliest examples, the ivory label of King Den, which was found in his tomb in Abydos, and dates to 3000 BCE. Den is shown to be striking down an Asiatic tribesman, with an inscription reading: ”The first occasion of smiting the East”. This artifact is currently at the British Museum.
  • Thutmose III at Karnak, presenting the Battle of Megiddo of the 15th century BCE. Here Thutmose III is shown to be smiting Canaanite enemies.

The first photo is courtesy of Kenzyb, and the second, arancidamoeba. S. Bar, D. Kahn & J.J. Shirley’s publication Egypt, Canaan and Israel: History, Imperialism, Ideology and Literature: Proceedings of a Conference at the University of Haifa (2011) was of use when writing up this post.

Maarit-Johanna (History of the Ancient World)

A Virtual Reconstruction Of Ancient Rome

A virtual reconstruction of ancient Rome

A tour of ancient Rome in 320 C.E. A collaboration between Khan Academy and Rome Reborn based on a film by Dr. Bernard Frischer. Speakers: Dr. Bernard Frischer and Dr. Steven Zucker

Source: SmartHistory

Filed under: Uncategorized

Peter Tompa (Cultural Property Observer)

Egypt's Face to the World

While the archaeological community seeks to make archaeologist Monica Hanna the Face of Egypt when it comes to "emergency import restrictions," we must not forget Ms. Hanna is in effect doing the bidding of a military government that has presented quite another face to the world.

Looting in Egypt may or may not be a serious problem, but the question remains why should American collectors and the small businesses of the antiquities and numismatic trade be made to pay for a mess entirely of Egypt's own making?

CPAC Hearing Scheduled for Pre-Judged Egyptian MOU

Egypt has scheduled an election for President on May 26-27 to formally replace its deposed Muslim Brotherhood President, Mohammed Morsi.  Although there will be others on the ballot, there is only one real candidate, former army chief, Abdel Fattah el-Sissi.  So, while Egyptians will go through the motions of electing their leader, the result has been predetermined.  El-Sissi will be Egypt's next President one way or the other.

So, how fitting then that weeks after Egyptian authorities and the New York Times both suggested that the US had already agreed to ban imports of Egyptian artifacts and days after Egyptologist-Heritage Hero Monica Hanna finished promoting restrictions on American collectors at events staged in New York and Washington, D.C., the State Department's Bureau of Educational Affairs has announced that CPAC will meet to discuss a proposed MOU with Egypt.

Given this history, does anyone seriously believe the upcoming CPAC meeting will in the end be anything more than an orchestrated farce not dissimilar to what's happening in Egypt itself?  Still, if one feels strongly about their continued ability to collect Egyptian artifacts, CPO believes they should comment on website.  Why? Because silence will only be spun as acquiesce by the US and Egyptian cultural bureaucracies as well as the powerful archaeological lobby.

More later on how to comment, but the above link about the CPAC meeting should provide the basics.