Maia Atlantis: Ancient World Blogs

Tom Elliott (

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November 24, 2014

Brice C. Jones

More Details on the 1st Century Fragment of Mark

More news about the so-called "1st century" fragment of Mark, this time from Christian apologist Craig Evans. Still no images. Still no publication. 

November 23, 2014

Michael E. Smith (Publishing Archaeology)

"Get me off your f_____ mailing list!"

I'm sure we have all had this sentiment, given the increase in garbage emails inviting us to attend bogus conferences and publish in bogus journals. Fed up with this, two authors created a paper that consists primarily of the phrase "Get me off your f_____ mailing list," repeated several hundred times. They submitted it to the journal, International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology, whose editor accepted the paper!! This is hilarious. See the nice discussion on Scolarly Open Access, and don't neglect to read the comments. There is also some discussion on IFL-Science and elsewhere.

The discussants at Scholarly Open Access suggest use of the random text generator at Scigen that will create bogus computer science papers, appropriate for bogus conferences and journals. For more humanities-oriented readers, try the Postmodern text generator - every time you access the site, a new postmodern text is generated.

Thanks to Julie and Rudy for alerting me to this hoax. Wow, it just occurred to me that perhaps some archaeology papers I've seen lately are hoaxes. Hmmmmmm.........

Ancient Art

Frog effigy pendants. All made of gold, the first is Panamanian...

Frog effigy pendants.

All made of gold, the first is Panamanian (Veraguas-Gran Chiriquí or Coclé), the second from Coclé, and the third is Colombian (Zenú (Sinú)-Darién).

Sometime after 500 CE, gold became the preferred material for fashioning personal adornments, supplanting jadeite and other green stones from which artists had made impressive pendants and necklaces for centuries. The relatively sudden appearance of gold and the specialized knowledge needed to work it imply the introduction of metallurgy from outside the region. All evidence points to northwestern Colombia as the point of origin of the metal arts, a region filled with other archaeological and art historical lines of evidence indicating a long-standing history of contacts between the two regions.

Gold pendants were cast in a variety of forms, from relatively naturalistic portrayals of animals to composite creatures combining human and zoomorphic features. The frog may be a totem, symbolic of transformational abilities or special connections to the supernatural. (Walters)

Courtesy of the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, USA, via their online collections2009.20.2502009.20.772009.20.78.

Irene Hahn and Bingley Austin (Roman History Books and More)

online book chats

Exlibris logo, click for website This blog is an adjunct to The Roman History Reading Group which meets on the first and third Wednesday of each month except August in our chat room from 9:30 to 11:00 p.m. US EST (UTC/GMT -04).  This means that in Asia and Australia/Pacific, it's daytime. Here is a world time clock as a general assistance for non-USAns.

Chat room location (with instructions) at Skype IM.

2014 Reading Schedule
2015 Reading Schedule

December is Mystery Month!

9781596916098December 3
Persona Non Grata, aka "The Root of all Evils" (Gaius Petreius Ruso Series #3)
by Ruth Downie (link includes eBook)
Less expensive used copies may be had at and elsewhere.

9781464201158December 10 (because of Hanukkah)
Roman Games
(Plinius Secundus Series #1)
by Bruce MacBain
(link includes eBook)


9780765333810January 7 & 21
Household Gods by Judith Tarr & Harry Turtledove
also a eBook

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december is mystery month: ruth downie and bruce mcbain

9781596916098Join us in December for two mysteries:

December 3
Persona Non Grata (Gaius Petreius Ruso Series #3)
aka "The Root of all Evils"
by Ruth Downie
(link includes eBook. Less expensive used copies may be had at and elsewhere)

9781464201158December 10 (because of Hanukkah)
Roman Games
(Plinius Secundus Series #1)
by Bruce MacBain
(link includes eBook)


G.W. Schwendner (What's New in Papyrology)

Papyrology at the SBL: Issues of Provenance

Archaeology of Religion in the Roman World
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: 204 A (Level 2 (Indigo)) - Hilton Bayfront (HB)
Theme: Issues of Provenance 
This session will consist of a panel of speakers addressing the ethical and scholarly issues concerning the presentation and publication of unprovenanced artifacts.
Christine Thomas, University of California-Santa Barbara, Presiding (10 min)

Daniel Schowalter, Carthage College, Presiding (10 min)

Timothy Potts, The J. Paul Getty Museum
 Publishing and Provenance: Museums, Collectors, and Scholars (30 min)
This presentation addresses the evolution during the past twenty years of U.S. museum practice and policy regarding the collecting of antiquities, and the parallel debate over the ethics of publishing “unprovenanced” (or “poorly provenanced”) artefacts and inscriptions. Central to these discussions has been the question of a nexus between acquiring (whether by museums or individuals) and publishing such material on the one hand, and the ongoing looting of sites in crisis regions like Iraq and Syria on the other; and whether, assuming such a nexus can be demonstrated, it outweighs the scholarly responsibility to record and make accessible important new data.

Roberta Mazza, University of Manchester 
Papyri, Collections, and the Antiquities Market: A Survey and Some Questions (30 min)
In recent years the publication and in some cases public exhibition of papyri, originally from Egypt, transmitting glamorous lost ancient texts, have stirred polemics on their provenance and acquisition circumstances. The Artemidorus papyrus, the Gospel of Judas codex, the so-called Jesus wife papyrus, and more recently the London Sappho papyrus and the Green collection papyri have been presented in the media as surrounded by an allure of mystery, which has intrigued the wider audience, but in fact has more to do with the scarcity or quality of information given on their purchase. The aim of this paper is to provide a wider context for these famous cases. I will survey post-1951 (the year of the issue of the Egyptian law n. 215 on the protection of antiquities) acquisitions of papyri by both private collectors and public institutions in order to discuss questions and problems relating in particular to three areas: public access to data on the acquisition of papyri, publication and professional association policies, and academics’ communication with the media.

Michael Peppard, Fordham University
, Mosaics from a Fifth-Century Syrian Church (30 min)
In late 2013 Fordham University (New York) acquired through donation group of nine mosaics from the heir of a private collector. Under the curatorship of Jennifer Udell and the directorship of Gregory Waldrop, the mosaics are to be installed in the Fordham Museum of Greek, Etruscan and Roman Art. On this panel, I will explain the provenance work that I did during the summer and fall of 2013 on behalf of our museum, prior to acceptance of the donation, which led to more detailed understanding of the ancient and modern histories of these mosaics. To the extent permitted by my university’s legal counsel, I will summarize the legal due diligence performed by our lawyers, through independent expert counsel, and my own correspondence with senior colleagues abroad. Finally, I will describe lessons learned about the publicization of new acquisitions and the interacting roles of “new” and “old” media in the process.

Douglas Boin, Saint Louis University, Respondent (15 min)

David Trobisch, The Museum of the Bible (Green Collection), Respondent (15 min)
Discussion (10 min)

Robert Consoli (Squinches)

The Boeotian parallel economy, part 2

Dicaeopolis makes a market.  The Ducks.

In my previous post I noted that the remarkable speech of the Boeotian merchant in Aristophanes' The Acharnians might give clues as to the nature of the Boeotian economy during times when Lake Copais was flooded. In this post I deal with the ducks.

νάσσας (This form marked ‘Boeot.’ in LSJ), for νῆττα: duck. The water bird par excellence and highly regarded in the ancient world as a food.[1]

There are three general types of ducks: the dabblers, or surface feeders, the divers, and the perching ducks.  The domestic duck is descended from a dabbler, the common mallard (Anas platyrhynchos); other dabblers have been domesticated [2] 

Miniature skyphos vase with caricature of duck
(perh. Anas platyrhynchos domesticus).
’Ragusa Group’. (N.P. Goulandris Coll. 756, 757, 758) 6CBC.
Courtesy of

Domestication of the duck probably started during the Bronze Age but it's not clear if they were domesticated under the Mycenaeans. We have evidence that duck raising was well-established in the ancient world by at least the first century B.C. if not long before.[3]
Their connection to the water is recognized in Aristotle and in Aelian [4].

Ducks are also hunted and most of the wild ducks are eagerly sought after as food. The wild ducks in the following table include Greece in at least part of their migratory range. The Copaic basin must be understood to have consisted of an enormous bed of reeds so that from afar it resembled an enormous green field.[5] This series of lakes, Copais (Topolia), Hyliki, and Paralimnos are on a major migrating flyway. Given the huge size of Lake Copais and its multitude of reed beds we must expect that hundreds of thousands of ducks and other migratory birds stopped there when flying from their breeding places in the north to their summer feeding grounds in Anatolia, Cyprus, Egypt, and points further south in Africa. I think it safe to suppose that, in season, Lake Copais was a paradise for bird hunters.

Aythya marilaGreater scaupInfo/PictxxxBreeds in marine habitats (fjords, archipelagos) on salt or brackish water, or on freshwater lakes and pools in mountains (birch and willow zones) and tundra. Migratory. Wintering birds gregarious, diving for molluscs on open sea, or are seen along coasts and in bays. 
Anas acutaNorthern pintailInfo/Pictxx
Anas clypeataNorthern shovelerInfo/Pictxx"..mud-bottomed marshes rich in invertebrate life are their habitat of choices.","This is a bird of open wetlands, such as wet grassland or marshes with some emergent vegetation."
Anas creccaCommon tealPicture only:
Anas discorsBlue-winged tealInfo/Pict
Anas penelopeEurasian widgeonInfo/Pictxxx
Anas platyrhynchosMallard ('Wild Duck')Info/Pictx
Anas querquedulaGarganeyInfo/PictxxTheir breeding habitat is grassland adjacent to shallow marshes and steppe lakes.
Anas streperaGadwallInfo/Pictx
Aythya ferinaCommon pochardInfo/Pictxx
Aythya fuligulaTufted duckInfo/Pictxxxopen, clear, oligotrophic lakes in forested areas; densely vegetated, eutrophic lowland lakes and marshes; along seashores; on tundra pools; slow-flowing rivers; reservoirs; park lakes; etc.
Aythya nyrocaFerruginous duckInfo/PictxxTheir breeding habitat is marshes and lakes with a metre or more water depth. These ducks breed in southern and eastern Europe and southern and western Asia. 
Bucephala clangulaCommon GoldeneyeInfo/PictxxxTheir breeding habitat is the taiga. They are found in the lakes and rivers of boreal forests across Canada and the northern United States, Scandinavia and northern Russia. They are migratory and most winter in protected coastal waters or open inland waters at more temperate latitudes. These diving birds forage underwater. Year-round, about 32% of their prey is crustaceans, 28% is aquatic insects and 10% is molluscs. Insects are the predominant prey while nesting and crustaceans are the predominant prey during migration and winter. Locally, fish eggs and aquatic plants can be important foods.
Clangula hyemalisLong-tailed duck, Info/PictxxxTheir breeding habitat is in tundra pools and marshes, but also along sea coasts and in large mountain lakes in the North Atlantic region, Alaska, northern Canada, northern Europe and Russia. The nest is located on the ground near water; it is built using vegetation and lined with down.  They are migratory and winter along the eastern and western coasts of North America, on the Great Lakes, coastal northern Europe and Asia, with stragglers to the Black Sea. The most important wintering area is the Baltic Sea, where a total of about 4.5 million gather.
Marmaronetta angustirostrisMarbled duck
Melanitta nigraCommon ScoterInfo/PictxxBreeds near lakes and rivers in boreal forests (upper coniferous, birch/willow) and close to tundra waters. Migratory, spring migration largely on broad front over land at night, autumn migration diurnal along coasts and over sea. Gregarious, can form very large flocks. Most ♂♂ return S as early as late summer.
Mergus merganserCommon MerganserInfo/PictpxxM. is a large duck, of rivers and lakes of forested areas of Europe, northern and central Asia, and North America.  In most places, the Common Merganser is nearly as much a salt-water as a fresh-water frequenter. In larger streams and rivers, they float down with the stream for a couple of miles, and either fly back again or more commonly fish their way back, diving incessantly the whole way. In smaller streams, they are present in pairs or smaller groups, and they float down, twisting round and round in the rapids, or fishing vigorously in some deep pool near the foot of some waterfall or rapid. When floating leisurely, they position themselves in water similar to ducks. But they swim deep in water like Cormorants too, especially when swimming upstream.
Netta rufinaRed-crested pochard
Somateria mollissimaCommon eiderxxsea-duck that is distributed over the northern coasts of Europe, North America and eastern Siberia. It breeds in Arctic and some northern temperate regions, but winters somewhat farther south in temperate zones, when it can form large flocks on coastal waters


[1] Athenaeus, Deipnosophists, ix.395.d-e.  Herodotus ii.77.5
"ὀρνίθων δὲ τούς τε ὄρτυγας καὶ τὰς νήσσας καὶ τὰ μικρὰ τῶν ὀρνίθων ὠμὰ σιτέονται προταριχεύσαντες."   [LCL 117: 364-5]

"..they also use salt to cure small birds, ducks, and quails.  All the rest of the birds they have in Egypt, except for those designated as sacred, they eat baked or boiled."  [Strassler/Purvis 2009] 150-1

[2] E.g., the teal and the garganey which are mentioned in Columella On Agriculture, viii.15.1.

[3] Varro, de Re R., III.11.1-3)  LCL 283: 486-487; "Qui autem volunt greges anatium habere ac constituere nessotrophion, primum locum, quoi est facultas,eligere oportet palustrem, quod eo maxime delectantur; si id non, potissimum ibi, ubi sit naturalis aut lacus aut stagnum aut manu facta piscina.."

"One who wishes to keep flocks of ducks and build a duck-farm should choose, first, if he has the opportunity, a place which is swampy, for they like this best of all; if this is not available, a place preferably where there is a natural pond or pool or an artificial pond, to which they can go down by steps."

And similarly in Columella, de Ag., viii.15.1  (LCL 407: 396-397)
"XV. Nessotrophii cura similis, sed maior impensa est. Nam clausae pascuntur anates, querquedulae, boscides, phalerides,3 similesque volucres, quae stagna et paludes rimantur."

"XV. A place for rearing ducks requires similar.attention but is more costly. For mallard, teal, garganey and coots and similar birds, which root about in pools and marshes, can be kept in captivity."

[4] Arist. H. A. vii(viii). iii,   593 b   (LCL 439 108-9)
"τῶν δὲ στεγανοπόδων τὰ μὲν βαρύτερα περὶ τοὺς1 ποταμοὺς καὶ λίμνας ἐστίν, οἷον κύκνος νῆττα φαλαρὶς κολυμβίς· ἔτι βόσκας ὅμοιος μὲν νήττῃ τὸ δὲ μέγεθος ἐλάττων, καὶ ὁ καλούμενος κόραξ."

"Among the web-footed birds the heavier ones are by the rivers and lakes, for example swan, duck, phalaris, grebe; also teal, which is like a duck but smaller-sized, and the so-called raven."

Aelian, Characteristics of Animals, v.33 (LCL 446: 324-325)

 Ἡ νῆττα ὅταν τέκῃ, τίκτει μὲν1 ἐν ξηρῷ, πλησίον δὲ ἢ τῆς λίμνης ἢ τοῦ τενάγους ἢ ἄλλου τινὸς ὑδρηλοῦ χώρου καὶ ἐνδρόσου.

"When the Duck lays its eggs it lays them on land but close to a lake or shallow pool or some other watery, moist spot."

[5] [Farinetti] 128.  Referencing [Philippson, 1951] 477-8: "the lake was not a open water surface, and modern travellers (before the drainage) report that, from afar, the basin would present an image of a green meadows, and one would get the sense of it actually being a lake only from very close, when appreciating the presence of the reeds."


[Balme 1991] D.M. Balme, ed. and trans., Aristotle. History of Animals, Volume III: Books 7-10. Loeb Classical Library 439. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991.

[Bowe and DeHart 2011] Partick Bowe and Michael D. DeHart. Gardens and Plants of the Getty Villa. Getty Publications, Los Angeles, Ca. 2011.

[Dalby 2013] Andrew Dalby, Food in the Ancient World, Routledge, 2013.

[Farinetti 2008] Emeri Farinetti, “Fluctuating Landscapes: the case of the Copais Basin in ancient Boeotia”, Annuario della Scuola Archeologica Italiana di Atene LXXXVI, s. III, 8, 2008, pp. 115- 138. Online here.

[Farinetti 2011] Boeotian landscapes. British Archaeological Reports. 2011. It can be downloaded as several .pdfs. The list is here:

[Henderson 1998] Jeffrey Henderson, ed. and trans. Aristophanes. Acharnians. Knights. Loeb Classical Library, no. 178. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998.

[Henderson 2000] Jeffrey Henderson, ed. and trans.,  Aristophanes. Birds. Lysistrata. Women at the Thesmophoria.  Loeb Classical Library, no. 179. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000.

[Hort 1915]  Arthur F. Hort, trans., TheophrastusEnquiry into Plants, Volume I: Books 1-5.  Loeb Classical Library 70. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1916.

[Johnsgard 1978] Johnsgard, P. A. 1978. Ducks, geese and swans of the World. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln and London, 1978.

[LSJ] Henry George Liddell & Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1940.  Consulted on-line here:

[Macgillivray 1852]  William Macgillivray, A history of British birds, indigenous and migratory, vol. V, William S. Orr and Co., London, 1852

[Olson 2007] S. Douglas Olson ed. and trans., Athenaeus. The Learned Banqueters, Volume I: Books 1-3.106e.  Loeb Classical Library 204. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007.

[Olson 2009] S. Douglas Olson, ed. and trans., Athenaeus  Loeb Classical Library 274. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009.

[Philippson 1951] NOT BEEN ABLE TO CONSULT.  Alfred Philippson. Die griechischen Landschaften  eine Landeskunde. Bd.1, Der Nordosten der griechischen Halbinsel. Tiel2, Das Östliche Mittelgriechenland und die Insel EuboeaKlostermannFrankfurt am Main, Germany. 1951.  Philippson lived a remarkable life which the reader may learn about here in section (2c).

[Storey 2011] Ian C. Storey, ed.  and trans., Fragments of Old Comedy, Volume III: Philonicus to Xenophon. Adespota.  Loeb Classical Library 515. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011.

[Strassler, Purvis 2009]  Robert B. Strassler, ed., Andrea L. Purvis, trans., The Landmark Herodotus, The Histories.  Anchor Books, 2009.

[Thompson 1895] D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson, Glossary of Greek Birds, Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1895.

[Vehling 1936] J.D. Vehling trans., Apicius, de Re Coquinaria.  Edited by Walter M. Hill (1936) and found on-line here.

ArcheoNet BE

Opgravingen frontlinie Zuidschote: opensleufdag op 29 november

Sinds juni voeren drie archeologische bedrijven in opdracht van Fluxys een archeologisch onderzoek uit naar de restanten van sporen uit de Eerste Wereldoorlog. Langs de Ooststraat in Zuidschote (Ieper) worden momenteel de eerste Belgisch-Franse linies opgegraven. Deze linies vormden mee de frontlijn vanaf 1914 aan het Ieperleekanaal bij Steenstrate. Wie het goed bewaarde loopgravenstelsel ter plaatse wil bezichtigen, kan op zaterdagmiddag 29 november de site bezoeken.

Fluxys plant om een nieuwe leiding aan te leggen tussen Alveringem en Maldegem. De leiding zal over een afstand van ongeveer 74 kilometer lopen van Alveringem over Poperinge, Vleteren, Lo-Reninge, Ieper, Langemark-Poelkapelle, Houthulst, Staden, Hooglede, Kortemark, Torhout, Lichtervelde, Oostkamp en Beernem tot in Maldegem.

Aangezien het toekomstig tracé de frontzone van de Eerste Wereldoorlog doorkruist, wordt voor de eigenlijke werken een munitiesanering uitgevoerd, samen met een archeologisch onderzoek. De archeologen krijgen met een volledige doorsnede door de frontzone een prachtig inzicht hoe het frontlandschap tot stand kwam en gebruikt werd om er loopgraven, kampementen of bunkers in in te plantten.

Op zaterdag 29 november zijn er om 13u, 14u, 15u rondleidingen op de archeologische site aan de Ooststraat in Zuidschote. Er is ook doorlopend informatie in de werfkeet in de Grenadiersstraat (waar ook geparkeerd kan worden). Stevig schoeisel is aangewezen.

Mary Beard (A Don's Life)

Michelangelo's David at the V and A


I have always had a soft spot for plaster casts, partly in (I confess) an "I told you so" sort of way.

My Faculty in Cambridge has one of the best (and best documented) collections of plaster casts of ancient sculpture in the world, more than 600 of them. About 25 years ago I got interested in them, where they had come from, what kind of debates they had provoked, how they had intersected with bigger debates in the history of (classical) art. And indeed I wrote a little paper on the collection, published in 1994, in what was then the Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society.

I have to say back then, many of my colleagues thought this was a strange, antiquarian and embarrassingly local interest. And I suspect that it was only by the skin of its teeth that the article got accepted.

But (and this is the self satisfied bit) since those days the kind of issues I raised -- about plaster casts as a key site of debate about valuation of original vs copy, or about authenticity etc -- have become much more mainstream, and probably (I admit) have been discussed much more acutely than I managed. All the same, I still feel a strong affection for these strange masterpieces of the copiest's art.

And so it is with quite a bit of excitement that I am going to the V and A on Tuesday to the opening celebration for their renovated Italian Cast Court, to "say a few words". Star of the show, though, will be Michaelangelo's David (above).

The V and A cast courts are (as you would expect I guess) about 10 years older than the Cambridge collection, and not wholly, or even mainly, classical (though the Trajan's Column cast -- not in the Italian Court -- was always a highlight). And their original purpose was never as rigidly academic as what we have. Our's was originally meant for students studying classical sculpture in the days before there were good pictures (and although we use them now for a much wider range of public engagement purposes, that is still clearly the collections founding function). The V and A (or the South Kensingtom Museum as then known) had a much wider mission.

Part of the point was to show the masterpieces of world art to "the working class order" (in that nineteenth-century phrase), but in as spectacular and impressive way as possible. The point was not that they were just "copies", it was that they were as "real" as you could get. And they were displayed in a vast, palatial architectural setting that was as impressive as you could imagine. The fact that Michelangelo's David was plaster not marble isn't what was at stake. This was, if you like, about replication as the essence of impact and originality.

I am really looking forward to seeing this revived display, in all its glory -- including (yippee) the uncovered and restored ceramic floor, previously buried under the lino. And I am wondering if David will have his specially fitted nineteenth-century fig leaf. What's the betting?



ArcheoNet BE

De zorg voor de Gentse doden in het voorbije millennium

De ietwat naargeestige novembermaand, met haar traditionele herdenking van heiligen en doden, vormt voor de Gentse Dienst Stadsarcheologie en het Stadsarchief het ideale decor om een minder gegeerd thema voor te stellen in ‘Dé Vitrine’, een initiatief waarin de rijke collecties van de beide diensten tijdelijk een gezamenlijke exponent vinden. ‘Op sterven na dood. De zorg voor de Gentse doden in het voorbije millennium’ brengt enkele krachtlijnen in het onderzoek naar de mentaliteit rond de dood naar voren.

Vooreerst wordt de stelling dat iedereen gelijk is voor de dood onderuit gehaald. Wie rijk is kan het zich veroorloven te worden begraven in de kerk en heeft bovendien geld veil voor een veel complexere ceremonie, wat binnen de toenmalige mentaliteit garant stond voor een plaats in de hemel. Verder wordt kort geschetst wat de impact is van het Edict van Jozef II in 1784 waarbij de doden om hygiënische redenen op begraafplaatsen buiten de stad worden verwezen en zo gestaag uit het dagelijkse gezichtsveld verdwijnen. De sterke daling van de mortaliteit op het einde van de 19de eeuw zorgt ervoor dat de dood vanuit de zeer centrale positie binnen de dagelijkse leefwereld helemaal naar de taboesfeer verhuisde.

Praktisch:: ‘Dé Vitrine 3’ staat opgesteld in de inkomhal van De Zwarte Doos (Dulle-Grietlaan 12, 9050 Gentbrugge), die open is voor het publiek op maandag van 8.30 tot 18 uur en van dinsdag tot donderdag telkens van 8.30 tot 16 uur. Gesloten van donderdag 25 december 2014 tot en met zondag 4 januari 2015.

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Palmyra and the Antiquities Trade

 I thought I'd make a list of past posts about Palmyra, in fact arranging them in chronological order shows an interesting evolution of views (and, following the links, the way the news is reported):
Sunday, 6 May 2012:'Syria's Cultural Treasures Fall Victim in Uprising'
Friday, 3 August 2012: 'Looting at Palmyra Indicated by Soldier’s Video?
Monday, 18 February 2013: 'Cultural Property Again in the Propaganda War in Syria'
Monday, 6 May 2013: "Syrians Loot Roman Treasures to Buy Guns"
Thursday, 16 May 2013: 'On their Way: Smuggled Syrian antiquities recovered in Lebanon'
aturday 18th May 2013: 'Smugglers Arrested in Lebanon'
Tuesday, 29 April 2014: 'Syrian smugglers enjoy a free-for-all among ancient ruins'

Sunday, 8 June 2014: 'Syrian Authorities Seize Eight Looted Antiquities'

Thursday, 14 August 2014: 'ISIS “Khums” Tax on Archaeological Loot Fuels the Conflicts in Syria and Iraq'
Monday, 27 October 2014: 'How the West buys ‘conflict antiquities’ from Iraq and Syria (and funds terror)'
Tuesday, 18 November 2014: 'The Dugup Artefact Market Needs a New Mentality'
Sunday, 23 November 2014: 'Palmyra Portableising Funerary Sculptures'
Sunday, 23 November 2014: 'Syria Looting: Could Collectors Care Less?'Sunday, 23 November 2014: 'More on the Taibul tomb'

Christopher Ecclestone (Piecing Together Diogenes of Oinoanda)

Fragment 2 - The Preamble

This is the beginning of the text of the great inscription.

Δίο[γε]νης τοις συνγενέ[σι
και οί/δίοις και φίλοις τά
δε εντέλλομαι'
νοσών ούτως ώστε ptot νΰ[ν
5          την του ζην ετι η μτικέτ[ι
ζην ύττάρχειν κρίσιν
(καρδιακον γάρ Mε διαφο-
PEI πάθος), αν Mα εν οι,αγέ-
νωMαι, διδόμενον έτι
10        MοI το ζην ηδε'ως ληM,ψο-

Mαΐ" αν Mη διαγε'νωMA, δ', ο

The source here is Ernst Kalinka and Rudolf Heberdey, L'inscription philosophique d'Oenoanda in the Bulletin de correspondance hellénique. Volume 21, 1897. pp. 356.

Fragment 1 - The Title Piece

This is the title of great inscription and essentially begins with the author/patron's name.

Διογε'νο[υς Οΐνοανόέως

The source here is Ernst Kalinka and Rudolf Heberdey, L'inscription philosophique d'Oenoanda in the Bulletin de correspondance hellénique. Volume 21, 1897. pp. 356.

Ancient Peoples

Terracotta lebes gamikos (round-bottomed bowl with handles and...

Terracotta lebes gamikos (round-bottomed bowl with handles and stand used in weddings)

c.430-420 BC

Classical Greek

In the center of this magnificent scene, the seated bride is shown with a harp. She looks up towards a little Eros who levitates with two fruits in his hands. The attendant with torches at the far left indicates that it is evening. The other women hold a fillet (band) and caskets. The figures on the reverse and on the stand may be additional companions of the bride. Although the function of the lebes gamikos has not been definitively explained, it certainly is a nuptial vase and, like the loutrophoros, probably served as a container for water.

(Source: The Met Museum)

He has a wife you know

armorporn: Crocodile-skin suit of armour Roman, 3rd century AD...


Crocodile-skin suit of armour

Roman, 3rd century AD
From near Manfalut, Egypt

'In ancient Egypt the crocodile was seen as sacred and divine, and worshipped as a god, so this suit might have been worn by priests of the crocodile sect who by wearing such a garment would take on the spirit of the deity. In many parts of Africa the crocodile is seen as a fearsome and invincible creature and so I think that by wearing crocodile armour and a headpiece like this, a warrior might be transformed in some magical way and take on the attributes of the animal.' Fowokan George Kelly, of Jamaican origin

When the province of Egypt became part of the Roman Empire, it put Romans into direct contact with Egyptian culture and religion. In Egypt Roman garrisons were closely integrated into civic and religious life and participated in local cults. Around Manfalout, on the banks of the Nile in central Egypt, Roman soldiers were particularly attracted to the crocodile cult centred on the sacred grottoes of the region.

This imposing armour is made from the skin of a crocodile. It comprises a helmet and cuirass (body armour) and would have been used in military-style ceremonies of the regional crocodile cult. The skin has been radio-carbon dated to the third century AD. It was presented to the British Museum in 1846 by a Mrs Andrews, who was among a group of European travellers to Manfalut who found grottoes containing the mummified remains of humans and animals, including many crocodiles.

Although the cold, dry environment of the grotto preserved the suit well, the cuirass in particular was flattened and brittle. It has been painstakingly remoulded by the British Museum’s Department of Conservation.

Open Access Archaeology

Open Access Archaeology Digest #611

Open Access (free to read) articles:

Chambered Cairns near Kilfinan, Argyll.

Notes and Queries on the Custom of Gavelkind in Kent, Ireland, Wales, and Scotland.

Nonsuch Palace

Learn more about Open Access and Archaeology at:

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

More on the Taibul tomb

Judith Weingarten has sent me a link to her post in the Zenobia: Empress of the East blog discussing the Taibul tomb and the looting of others ('Amta, Daughter of Yarha. Alas!', 28 September 2014)
As the war grinds on, illegal excavation and the looting of antiquities is running riot. Sometimes the thieves are soldiers in the Syrian army. Others are criminal gangs, crazed iconoclasts, or just desperate unemployed and hungry men. It hardly matters: the resulting destruction of Syria's heritage is the same. Amidst the gloom, however, are rare flashes of light, such as the lucky swoop [on August 26th 2014.] by the Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums that recovered the anonymous bejewelled lady from Taibul's tomb (reported on the Palmyra History and Archaeology website, with photographs of recovered loot). The authorities must sometimes get tip-offs.  In just a single month  this year, they intercepted three different lots of looted Palmyran antiquities on their way to the international market (click for illustrations of the recovered objects): on 6 March 2014, 16 March 2014, and 30 March 2014.  April was much the same.  June and September were worse. And so it goes. These objects had all originated from known tomb groups or museum storerooms.  What is perhaps even more disturbing is the consignment seized on 19 June 2014, none of which was known to archaeologists, which means that illegal digging of unexcavated tombs is taking place around the city despite Palmyra being nominally under the control of the Syrian army.
As for the fate of the Taibul tomb, as she says: 
Can we doubt that all the funerary banquets, sarcophagi, high reliefs, and busts have also been cut from the walls -- and already crossed the border into Lebanon to be sold on to rich European, American, and Gulf collectors? 
But let us recall that dealers such as Alan Walker say they've never seen any of this stuff at their end of the market. Is it being carted off by fairies, vanishing into a time-warp, entering a parallel universe, or are dealers in denial looking in the wrong places?
Hat tip to Judith Weingarten

Carole Raddato (Following Hadrian)

The Byzantine “Bird Mosaic” from Caesarea, Israel

A stunning mosaic floor referred to as the “Bird Mosaic” was uncovered by accident in 1955 on the outskirts of Caeserea in Israel, outside the walls of the ancient settlement. With no budget available for its preservation, it was covered over again until the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Director of the Caesarea Antiquities Preservation project decided in 2005 to preserve the unique find and to reveal it to the public. Lying in situ, the Bird Mosaic offers a rare glimpse into the lives of a wealthy Byzantine-era Caesarean who commissioned this ancient work of art.

6th century AD Bird Mosaic, of a large villa or mansion, Caesarea, Israel © Carole Raddato

6th century AD Bird Mosaic,that adorned the atrium of a large palace complex outside the city wall of Byzantine Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

During the excavations of 2005 archaeologists determined that the ‘Bird Mosaic’ was part of a Byzantine palace complex dating from the 6th century AD. During the Byzantine period, the harbour city of Caesarea flourished and expanded as much as 800 m inland. This palace complex, covering an area of nearly 1 acre (4,000 sq. meters), was probably owned by a reputable and wealthy family. The “Bird Mosaic” adorned the floor of a large open courtyard, the atrium, with a portico along the western and southern sides.

The wide border of the mosaic pavement portrays wild and tame animals separated by fruit trees, bordering 120 round medallions arranged in 12 rows and 10 columns.

A gazelle, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic that adorned the atrium of a large palace complex outside the city wall of Byzantine Caesarea, Caesarea Maritima, Israel © Carole Raddato

A gazelle, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

A lion, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic that adorned the atrium of a large palace complex outside the city wall of Byzantine Caesarea, Caesarea Maritima, Israel © Carole Raddato

A lion, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
In Israel, lions were hunted to extinction long ago
© Carole Raddato

A leopard, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea, Caesarea The leopard, is Israel's only remaining big cat, though its future survival remains in doubt © Carole Raddato

A leopard, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
The leopard is Israel’s only remaining big cat, though its future survival remains in doubt
© Carole Raddato

A wild boar, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Israel © Carole Raddato

A wild boar, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

A bear, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Israel Sadly the local lions are now extinct © Carole Raddato

A bear, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
Sadly the local bears are now extinct
© Carole Raddato

A dog and pomegranate tree, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Israel © Carole Raddato

A dog and pomegranate tree, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

A dog, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea © Carole Raddato

A dog, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

An ibex, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea © Carole Raddato

An ibex, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

A bull's head, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Israel © Carole Raddato

A bull’s head, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

An elephant, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea © Carole Raddato

An elephant, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

A pomegranate tree, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Israel © Carole Raddato

A pomegranate tree, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Israel
© Carole Raddato

Each of the 120 medallion contains a bird, hence the name given to the mosaic. Eleven different species are represented, appearing several times, in an unusual arrangement of diagonal lines descending from right to left. Each diagonal line depicts the same bird. The birds include, flamingo, duck, peacock, partridge, guineafowl, ibis, goose, pheasant and pelican. Some other birds appear to be fanciful.

A peacock, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic that adorned the atrium of a large palace complex outside the city wall of Byzantine Caesarea, Caesarea Maritima, Israel © Carole Raddato

A peacock, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

A flamingo, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

A pheasant, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

A duck, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

A goose, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea © Carole Raddato

A goose, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

A pelican, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Israel © Carole Raddato

A pelican, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

A pelican, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Israel © Carole Raddato

A partridge, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

A fanciful bird, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

A guineafowl, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

A fanciful, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

During the 2005 excavations of the Bird Mosaic, a few adjacent rooms were also exposed. These rooms are paved with mosaics with geometric and floral motifs.

Mosaic with geometric motifs, Caesarea, Israel © Carole Raddato

Mosaic with geometric motifs, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

Mosaic with geometric motifs, Caesarea © Carole Raddato

Mosaic with geometric and floral motifs, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

Mosaic with geometric motifs, Caesarea © Carole Raddato

Mosaic with geometric motifs, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

Fragments of other mosaic pavements as well as pieces of plaster and roof tiles were found over the intact floors of the ground level, indicating the villa was a two storey building. One room contained fragments of a dazzling glass mosaic panel glowing with gold. It is believed to be the only one of its kind in the world. The nearly intact panel, also known as the “gold-glass table”, was found face down on the mosaic floor under a layer of ash and debris from the ceiling and the second floor. It is made of small glass pieces using the opus sectile technique. Experts believe the glass panel covered the surface of a wooden sigma table, burnt when the building was destroyed. The quality of its preservation is remarkable and its craftsmanship indicates Christian origins. To read more about the glass panel and see images of it, check this page.

The “Bird Mosaic Palace” is believed to have been destroyed during the Arab conquest in the 7th century.

The Bird Mosaic is located a short drive north of the Caesarea National Park. It is clearly signposted, on the way to the famous aqueduct along the beach.

Filed under: Archaeology Travel, Byzantine, Byzantine Mosaic, Israel, Judaea Tagged: Bird Mosaic

Stefano Costa (There's More Than Just Potsherds Out There)

Yet another failure for cultural heritage data in Italy

This short informative piece is written in English because I think it will be useful for anyone working on cultural heritage data, not just in Italy.

A few days ago the Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo e la Documentazione published an internal document for all offices in the Ministry of Culture (actual name is longer, but you got it), announcing imminent changes and the beginning of a process for publishing all records about cultural heritage items (I have no idea on the exact size but we’re in the millions of records). In short, all records will be publicly available, and there will be at least one image for each record ‒ you’ll get anything from small pieces of prehistoric flint to renaissance masterpieces, and more. That’s a huge step and we can only be happy to see this, the result of decades of cataloguing, years of digital archiving and … some lobbying and campaigning too. Do you remember Beni Culturali Aperti? The response from the ICCD had been lukewarm at best, basically arguing that the new strong requirements for open government data from article 68 of the Codice dell’Amministrazione Digitale did not apply at all to cultural heritage data. So nobody was optimistic about the developments to follow.

And unfortunately pessimism was justified. Here’s an excerpt from the document published last week:

Brano della nota prot. n. 2975  del 17/11/2014 dell'Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo e la DocumentazioneNota prot. n. 2975 del 17/11/2014 dell’Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo e la Documentazione

relevant sentence:

Le schede di catalogo verranno rese disponibili con la licenza Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA

that would be

Catalog records will be made available under the Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA license

And that was the (small) failure. CC BY-NC-SA is not an open license. The license makes commercial (= paid!) work with such data impossible or very difficult, at a time when the cultural heritage private sector could just benefit from full access to this massive dataset, with zero losses for the gatekeepers. At the same time when we have certified that open licenses are becoming more and more widespread and non-open licenses like BY-NC-SA are used less and less because they’re incompatible with anything else and inhibit reuse, someone decided that it was the right choice, against all internationa, European and national recommendations and regulations. We can only hope that a better choice will be made in the near future, but the record isn’t very encouraging, to be honest.

Christopher Ecclestone (Piecing Together Diogenes of Oinoanda)

Fragment 83

This badly damaged piece was originally found by Kalinka. 

It is so badly damaged that Kalinka did not even venture what it might say..

The source here is Ernst Kalinka and Rudolf Heberdey, L'inscription philosophique d'Oenoanda in the Bulletin de correspondance hellénique. Volume 21, 1897. pp. 424.

Fragment 82

This badly damaged piece was originally found by Cousin. 

……..ς. έπειδ[η
……ως αύτώ προ-
..Οπ^έρ έτερον
………α]νί«ΐχει κα-
5 ……όδον νο[ε]ίς
………….α τινά ε ...
……..ούτως και το
. . . . .τώ] γαρ καταβο-
λην σπε]ρ[λάτων
10         πολλώ]ν θεριε'νω
εις την] γην έ'χουσιν
τούτω]ν τα μεν
………..την έ'κφυσιν

……………..γειν ποι-

2nd Column

ού[/.ε[να . .
……….των τε]
5          ήδ[έ]ων κ[αί των ανια
1 0       κ[α]1 τ[α] μ[ε]ν ουν . . . .

The source here is Ernst Kalinka and Rudolf Heberdey, L'inscription philosophique d'Oenoanda in the Bulletin de correspondance hellénique. Volume 21, 1897. pp. 424.

Fragments 71 to 75

This badly damaged set of pieces were found on the north side of the dividing wall. It had not been documented before Kalinka wrote it up.

5           . υ
10         ε

.εντες ν..
ούτος ό φόβος [τότε
[λέν έττιν τετρα[νωμέ-
νος τότε δ' άτρά[νωτος' και
5          τετρανωμένος [[/.εν,
όταν έκ φανερο[0
τι φεύγωμεν, ώσ[περ
το πυρ, φοβούμε[νοι δι'
αυτού" τω θανά[τω περι-
10       πεσεΐσθαι, άτράν[ωτος
δε', όταν προς άλλ[ω τι-
νί της διανοίας ύ[παρ-
χούσης ένδέδυ[[Λε'νον
φύσει και ύποφω[λευόν τι


ο] ι και Πυθαγ[όρας

μόνος [λαίν[εται

TEXt of pages 73-75 to follow

The source here is Ernst Kalinka and Rudolf Heberdey, L'inscription philosophique d'Oenoanda in the Bulletin de correspondance hellénique. Volume 21, 1897. pp. 419.

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Open Access Journal: Rivista di Diritto Romano

[First posted in AWOL 6 November 2009. Updated 23 November 2014]

Rivista di Diritto Romano
ISSN 1720-3694
Qualcuno potrebbe chiedersi se, in presenza di numerosi e autorevoli periodici di diritto romano e diritti dell'antichità pubblicati anche e soprattutto in Italia, fosse proprio il caso di metterne in cantiere uno nuovo: se fosse un lettore tendenzialmente benevolo e animato da incrollabile fiducia nel principio della concorrenza, potrebbe forse dare risposta positiva affermando che l'ingresso di un nuovo operatore sul mercato (!) dovrebbe portare a un miglioramento dell'offerta in generale.
In realtà, una tale prospettiva potrebbe risultare deludente: scopo di questa rivista, infatti, non è certamente quello di togliere spazio alle altre già esistenti, né quello di stimolare una gara per conquistare il primo premio in una improbabile classifica di periodici romanistici. Essa vorrebbe invece in primo luogo colmare una lacuna: manca infatti una rivista di diritto romano pubblicata, prima ancora che sul tradizionale supporto cartaceo, sulla rete di Internet, e quindi in grado di coordinare i non trascurabili vantaggi che tale strumento telematico può fornire alla ricerca romanistica.


—    Mario Trommino • Struttura e composizione del collegio dei pontefici. Da Liv., urb. cond. 1.20.5 alla lex Ogulnia, una panoramica delle fonti PDF   Mariangela Ravizza Sui rapporti tra matrimonio e «deportatio» in età imperiale PDF    NUOVO    Dario Annunziata “Nomen christianum”: sul reato di cristianesimo PDF    NUOVO    Alfonso Murillo Villar La responsabilidad del banquero por los depósitos de los clientes. Una reflexión desde las fuentes romanas PDF    NUOVO    Antonino Milazzo Statuliber ex die? —    Armando Torrent • El titulo “De publicanis” y el «genus provinciale» (Cic., ad Att. 6,1,15). Reflexiones sobre el “edictum provinciale”

PDF   Francesco Lucrezi Ancora sul «Senatusconsultum Macedonianum» —    Ferdinando Zuccotti • Vivagni. XIV PDF   Segnalazioni bibliografiche
PDF   Calendario storico
See also AWOL's list of Open Access Ancient Law Journals

Dorothy King (PhDiva)

The Shady Online Trade in Ancient Texts

Candida Moss has written a good summary of some of the issues: 
Dismembering History: The Shady Online Trade in Ancient Texts - The Daily Beast:

Both priceless papyri that could shed light on early Christianity and forgeries are openly trafficked online. Determining authenticity is increasingly difficult.

This past week a new eBay auction announced the sale of “Ancient Egyptian papyrus with Greek letters—Bible.” Listed with the “buy it now” price of $1,098, the seller claimed that the fragment was written ca. 200 BC and was “collected in the 1960s … from an old Swiss collection, probably the Erik von Scherling collection.”
That piece is fine, as it did turn out to be from von Scherling and to have a solid pre 1970 provenance.

I have to admit I come to this issue from the Loot busting perspective not the Christian scholarship perspective, so I was pretty shocked how laissez-faire Jones was about the seller admitting it was looted:
Standards are a little sloppier when it comes to Christian materials. As St. Louis University historian Douglas Boin told me, the Society of Biblical Literature, where most Christian objects will be presented, has no such policy in place. In the meantime, shifty manuscripts continue to wend their way into major collections. In 2012, scholarly bloggers Dorothy L. King and Brice Jones highlighted the suspicious trading practices of an eBay seller known as MixAntix. Two years later, Roberta Mazza, an ancient historian and papyrologist at the University of Manchester, recognized a papyrus that had been put up for sale by MixAntix when she saw it on display at the Vatican’s illustrious Verbum Dominini II exhibit last April. A papyrus of dubious and potentially illegal origin ended up in an exhibit on the Word of God at the center of the Roman Catholic Church.
The better posts to read on this blog are this one where the dealer admitted to smuggling: Dorothy King's PhDiva: So I Bought A Papyrus on eBay .... And more recently this one where I explain how little people care that the smuggled papyri are ending up in a dodgy American 'museum': Dorothy King's PhDiva: I come to bury Green, not to praise him

Papyri are a very specialised field, and these were all stolen directly from the ground in Egypt rather than from museums, and so could not be reported stolen. That's why they do not appear on

The Archaeology News Network

Search continues at Amphipolis burial mound

Scientists have opened the second phase of their excavation of the vast 4th-century BC burial mound in Amphipolis town in search of more tombs and bodies. A view of Casta Hill where archaeologists are excavating a large 4th century BC tomb, near Amphipolis in northern Greece, on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014. Officials say the vast ancient burial mound at Amphipolis in Greece could contain more than one dead. Greek Culture Minister Costas...

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Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Green Waste Again

John Winter explains what the problem is with 'Green Waste' in the UK: 'Is Metal Detecting Going Down the Pan?', 23 November 2014. It seems detectorists want the accumulation of evidence of the history of human interaction with a particular piece of the land to stop just for them to begin the depletion of that information for personal entertainment and profit. 

Palmyra Portableising Funerary Sculptures

The destructive legacy of the no-questions-asked antiquities market
The Syrian Ministry of Culture (Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums DGAM)  has published two striking photos of the destruction caused to the subterranean second century AD Taibul Tomb in the Southeast Necropolis at Palmrya during the portableisation of part of the monument's decoration for sale on the international antiquities market. Take a good look at the top photo, the space is limited, it would seem that a wire saw was used here. The bust on the right has broken off before it was all sawed away and part of it is left behind.

Syrian and Japanese archaeologists documented the site between 2001 and 2005, so we have rather a better photo of the busts in situ as they were until not long ago. The real nature of the cultural legacy of the no-questions-asked "ancient art" market is nowhere better visible.
Before the collectors got there
So, "were these thieves savvy enough to understand what will sell on the art market or were they simply opportunists, taking advantage of what they could easily access?" asks Lynda Albertson (' Do you think art collectors might be tempted to buy Syrian antiquities (looted or otherwise?). We say resoundingly, yes' ARCA Blog November 23, 2014). She soon adduces evidence that artefact hunters have had no compunction about putting stuff like this on the market in recent years, and collectors have had no qualms about buying some of it.The two are intimitely linked. Collectors are financing this looting and those who profit from it.

Dismembering History: The Shady Online Trade in Ancient Texts

holy papyri? Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters
There is an interesting article in the daily Beast highlighting the trade in dodgy papyri: 
eBay has become a regular marketplace for antiquities. Previously unknown papyri crop up only to vanish into private collections and out of the sight of scholars forever. Artifacts that—if authentic—could offer priceless glimpses into the past are marketed with the same savvy as a knock-off Burberry scarf: extortionate shipping fees and tantalizingly low opening bids of $0.99. [...]  In the case of many auctions, however, the papyri are completely unprovenanced. In other words, they weren’t found on an archeological dig nor do they have accompanying documents specifying their origins. We don’t know either where they come from or how they got here. None of the eBay auctions are properly documented. Today, a lack of provenance often means one of two things: an artifact is forged or an artifact was illegally acquired. [...] When documentation is unavailable, it is likely that the materials were obtained illegally, often as the result of looting in the wake of military and political unrest.
In many cases dealers buy large pieces or whole manuscripts and then try to maximise profits by selling them in smaller pieces: 
Rather than sell the complete manuscript, they cut out pages and placed them on eBay on an ad hoc basis. [...]  It’s a long-established moneymaking technique among antiquities dealers. [...] Some eBayers are wise to scholarly commitments to complete texts and use them to extort more money for complete manuscripts. In pitching a complete Coptic Lectionary (a liturgical calendar) to him for $20,000, Pattyspreciouspicks told Takla, “If I can’t sell it to you as a whole, then I will unfortunately be forced to sell off each old page one at a time on my eBay site. I really don’t want to cut up this old Coptic religious document…” As Takla notes, “Needless to say he knew that he would not be able to get that asking price whether he sold it intact or by the sheet." 
The article concludes:

Something is clearly amiss in the global antiquities market. eBay is the dark underbelly of the papyrus trade: precious documents are being carved up, potentially stolen goods trafficked, and the materials for forgers readily supplied. If capitalism has taught us anything, it’s that demand creates supply. Until scholars and collectors stop buying, antiquities dealers have no incentive to stop selling.
Candida Moss, 'Dismembering History: The Shady Online Trade in Ancient Texts', The Daily Beast November 23, 2014

The Archaeology News Network

Smiling Buddha idol unearthed at Ghantasala

A smiling Buddha idol made of Dachepalli limestone was unearthed from an agricultural field falling under Penneramma mound, a Buddhist site, at Ghantasala village in Krishna district. The idol, six inches in height and four inches width, was found by a local farmer while he was preparing land within the range of the mound, which witnessed flourishing Hinayana sect of Buddhism during the 2nd A.D and 3rd A.D. period. “We found the...

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Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Syria Looting: Could Collectors Care Less?

Lynda Albertson (' Do you think art collectors might be tempted to buy Syrian antiquities (looted or otherwise?). We say resoundingly, yes' ARCA Blog November 23, 2014) discusses some recent auctions which involve items that seem Syria-related.She looks at portableised funerary sculptures and had no difficulty in finding any- Aphrodite Ancient Art LLC (“Early American private collection, 1960’s” and " Palmyra [...] purchased from Sotheby's New York, June 2011") and Sotheby's in its June 8, 2011 auction ("with a provenance of Sarkis and Haddad, Beirut, early 1970").
Given the fragility of the Palmyra tombs and all of the other heritage sites disrupted in Syria due to the ongoing war, I wonder if we should be focusing less of our time on quantifying how much money ISIS/ISIL may, or may not, be making off of conflict looting and pool our resources, putting them to better use by working closely with DGAM to identify traffickers or suspicious items that may enter the market having come from vulnerable areas or areas affected by conflict. [...]  their presence makes a pretty strong case that this is just the tip of the Syrian antiquities iceberg. 
She makes the point that discussing the "scary, made-up trafficking percentages" is a distraction from the main issue (see here). Indeed it is precisely by counting on churning on and on about the side issues that the dodgy antiquities trade hopes to fudge through this crisis too. This is what they always do. The issue is, Albertson stresses:
Petty subsistence looters may fence objects for paltry amounts, middlemen fighters may take their cut, and end traffickers may make a bundle selling to auction houses and galleries, but all this useless faffing about trying to put an unquantifiable dollar sign on how much its making which opponent in this war is doing nothing to stop the flow whatsoever. In the end percentages are less relevant than simply understanding that collection-worthy pieces like these seen at auction or those stripped from from Palmrya will surely find their way into the world's antiquities art market. Maybe not immediately, but with the lack of market transparency, surely in the future. Traffickers are patient. So are collectors.
Instead of asking about 'how much money' we can STOP them making, we should be thinking about how to STOP them from making any money at all by "surfacing" these things on our markets.

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

The Nippur Flood Tablet and Genesis

Peter Bekins sent me the following by e-mail, and I thought I should share it with readers here, with his permission:


In light of the recent Facebook discussion on your wall re the flood and the Grand Canyon in which one gentleman was adamant that the Bible predates the Babylonian myths and since you seem to take an interest in these sorts of things in general, here is one for your file. I [recently had someone argue] that the Genesis flood was historical based on evidence from an obscure Babylonian flood tablet referenced as CBM 13532, overlooked, of course, by academics, that a) dated from 2200 BCE, hence it pre-dated Gilgamesh and Atrahasis, and b) matched the Genesis account rather than the “fanciful” Babylonian myths. Consequently, the Noah flood story was the original historical account which was subsequently modified by the Babylonians who added all the mythical elements rather than an Israelite adaptation of a Babylonian myth.

A Google search revealed that the main thrust of the argument comes from the article “Genesis, Gilgamesh, and an Early Flood Tablet” by John D. Morris, PhD  who seems to have taken the idea from a pamphlet written by a UK creationist named Dr. Bill Cooper, but which is unavailable on-line.

Here is how they represent the text of this “earliest flood tablet”:

The springs of the deep will I open. A flood will I send which will affect all of mankind at once. But seek thou deliverance before the flood breaks forth, for over all living beings, however many there are, will I bring annihilation, destruction, ruin. Take wood and pitch and build a large ship!….cubits be its complete height…. a houseboat shall it be, containing those who preserve their life….with a strong roofing cover it…. the ship which thou makest, take into it….the animals of the field, the birds of the air and the reptiles, two of each, instead of (their whole number)….and the family of the….

The other hit on a CBM 13532 was the 1910 publication of the tablet by Hermann Hilprecht. Dr. Cooper (and subsequently Mr. Morris, PhD) seems to have relied on a popularization of this publication by Fritz Hommel in a 1910 article in the Expository Times.

Here is Hilprecht’s (1910: 49) original rendering:

… “thee,

… “[the confines of heaven and earth] I will loosen,

… “[A deluge I will make] and it shall sweep away all men together;

… “[but thou see]k life before the deluge cometh forth;

… “[For over all living beings,] as many as there are, I will bring overthrow, destruction, annihilation.

… … “Build a great ship and

… … “total height shall be its structure.

… … “it shall be a house-boat carrying what has been saved of life.

… … “with a strong deck cover (it).

… “[The ship] which thou shalt make,

… “[into it br]ing the beasts of the field, the birds of heaven,

… “[and the creeping things, two of everything] instead of a number,

… … “and the family ….

…. “and”  … …

You will note, of course, that almost all of the text that “matches Genesis” was actually supplied by Hilprecht to fill in breaks in the tablet based on his theory that, wait for it, this tablet matches Genesis. Cooper or Morris, PhD conveniently deleted all the brackets while leaving the ellipses. Further, the only phrase on the actual tablet that has any possible link with Genesis would be the Akkadian ku-um mi-ni, which Hilprecht translated as “instead of a number” and he related mi-ni to Hebrew מין ‘kind’, which is characteristic of the Priestly creation and flood accounts.

A few further notes. First, the articles from 1910 consistently date the tablet to about 2100 BCE. I do not know why Cooper and Morris push the date back to 2200 BCE. Second, this date was contested immediately (see here), and the tablet fits better in the later context of Nippur during the Kassite period, c. 1400 BCE. Regardless, only a few years later Poebel published the Sumerian flood tablet from Nippur, which renders the whole argument moot since it attests to an earlier “mythological” flood account. anyway

Second, Morris, PhD and/or Cooper appeal to a rhetoric that this tablet has been overlooked by academics. Indeed, a search on CBM 13532 brings up few hits post-1910. But this is because CBM is the wrong abbreviation. The tablet is in the Penn collection and catalogued as CBS 13532. Hilprecht does refer to the tablet as CBM, but it seems the numbering system changed. Regardless, CBS 13532 has not been overlooked by scholars and it occurs in the standard work on Atrahasis by Lambert and Millard. (You will note that they read ku-um mi-ni in line 12 as a single word ku-um-mi-ir [taking the sign ni as a mistake for ir] “heap up” but this short broken line is difficult to read.)

Third, Morris, PhD, and/or Cooper appeal to an argument that “Professor Hilprecht himself was hardly a defender of Scripture, yet he was a recognized expert in ancient languages.” As this article notes, however, Hilprecht did have motives to read the text in a way that legitimizes the traditional understanding of the Bible—he was sponsored by the Babylonian Exploration Fund, which “encouraged the generosity of moneyed citizens” for whom “the hope of scientifically establishing the truth of the Old Testament was comfortingly high-minded in an age troubled by Darwin yet unwilling to give up religious verities.”

Nippur Flood Tablet

Doug's Archaeology: Investigating the Profession and Research

Around the Archaeology Blog-o-sphere Digest #10

I have missed the last few weeks of this round-up but now I am back. Here is my weekly list of blog posts from Archaeology blogs/ blogs that focus on Archaeology.


I am highlighting some of the other archeo-blogs out there by collecting all their posts from the previous week . Hopefully, you find some of the posts interesting and/or find a new blog to follow.


I took these posts from my now updated list of archaeology blogs (440+ and counting). There are a few blogs that should be in this list that are missing — hoping to fix that. Here are this weeks posts–

Ilhavo Park: Fort William and the civil fort during the French raid of 1709
UNSC Monitoring Team recommendation: moratorium on trade in undocumented antiquities from Syria or Iraq
Osteology Everywhere: Via Verde Edition
Tilting ‘L’
Week 30 Volunteering at the Royal College of Surgeons
ACCORD in Bressay, Shetland
Back To Basics: Stratigraphy 101
Some Prefatory Thoughts on TAG 2014 Manchester
Nefud For Thought: Scerri et al.’s Arabian Levallois Artifacts Give Us Pause To Reconsider Middle Paleolithic Typology
Accolades For Tom Wynn: Too Bad About That Hand Axe Thing!
Cosmos magazine interview
TRACETERRE project poster, SAA 2014
Silcrete as a lithic material in global context: session call for papers
Sussex Heritage Trust becomes a member of The Alliance
Heritage and Identity: What makes you who you are?
The future of traditional farm buildings at stake
Heritage Update #290 is out!
Colchester Young Archaeologists’ Club November meeting
special assemblages to be studied by specialist
vintage NAAFI postcard arrives!
Ancestors are created every day
Video: Phimai Historical Park
Hanoi celebrates World Heritage with contest
Public Lecture: Digging the Urban Landscape
Ayutthaya celebration in December
Reporting from the Unesco Symposium on the Illicit Trafficking of Antiquities
Gender and Minority Affairs Committee Diversity Field School Competition
A Lecture on Bridgend Medieval Chapel, Edinburgh at the ELL & BAC Conference
The Temple Mount during the Hellenistic and Hasmonean periods (332-37 BC)
Follow us on Facebook!
A Dozen Ways to Make a Mummy
Who needs an osteologist? (Installment 21)
Bones – Season 10, Episode 8 (Review)
a BTS of BTS (Behind the Scenes of Beneath the Surface)
design and antiquarians – 8
Tadge Juechter – just what is a Corvette?
Ad Fines
Oldest papyri ever discovered document pyramid building, or More reasons why the aliens did not build the pyramids
ICOMOS support for Parthenon Marbles UNESCO mediation
Clovis-Era Infant Burials Documented in Alaska
Draw, Scan, Make, and Model: Complementary Approaches to Understanding Stone Tools
Audio News from Archaeologica, 9 November – 15 November 2014
Cotsen Grant Winner Update: Thomas Strasser
Flying 2014 – New sites photographed
Culture crime news 10–16 November 2014
New Book! Cultural Property Crime: An Overview and Analysis on Contemporary Perspectives and Trend
Spotlight on the Iberian Mousterian
“Genealogy is bunk,”
Short but sweet
More cemetery conservation video
Public health in ancient Egypt
Now this is cool
Back we go again. . . .
Oooo. . .real game archaeology!
[insert clever yet inoffensive title here]
“Scruffy, knowledgeable, underpaid”
More preservation video
Utah Cave Full of Children’s Moccasins Sheds Light on Little-Known Ancient Culture
3D Printing and Education in the Virtual Curation Laboratory
The Virtual Curation Laboratory @ the 20th Anniversary VCU School of World Studies Student Research Conference
Skara Brae
Walbrook, London
Katharine Woolley: Dangerous, Demanding, and Digging
News from the shop!
Finnish Dress Reconstruction!
Off to Stuttgart! And video links for you!
Archaeology Hoaxes – Folsom Points, USA – Kaupang, Norway
19 World Heritage Monuments Destroyed in Conflict
Vatican Library makes 4,000 ancient manuscripts available online
African Hunting Dogs Lived in North America during the Middle Pleistocene
Collared Beads
Supply and Demand for Beads
Snowflake Earrings
Archaeology in the Mediterranean: I don’t wanna drown in cold water
Call for Papers-19th International Congress on Ancient Bronzes
New Cape Krusenstern Publication
Stockholm Film Festival 2014
November Pieces Of My Mind #1
Boardgaming Retreat
“In these homes were living vessels- there was laughter, there was happiness.”
The Politics of Memory and Deconstruction in the Postindustrial U.S.
Mahee Castle, Co. Down
Mahee Castle, Co. Down | 3D
The Archaeology & History of Ireland’s Medieval Irish Town: A Session in Memory of John Bradley
Mount Stewart, Co. Down | Restoration in action
“My Folks Don’t Want Me To Talk About Slavery”
NEWS: Middle Kingdom tombs discovered in Luxor
Medal of Honor awarded to Gettysburg hero 151 years later.
Grace Islet and the Equifinality of Bad Process
“Links Roundup #25 Citation/Reference/Bibliographic Management We have mentioned ReadCube before,…”
Anthropology: It’s still white public space–An interview with Karen Brodkin (Part I)
iowaarchaeology: You’ve been warned… from Archaeology News on…
New Connections
Marmoren i Gildeskål gamle kirke i Nordland – grubling om en middelalderkirke langs nordvegen
No, Thoreau Was Not a Hypocrite
Immerse Yourself in Nature
Dream On
Real Comforts
Open Access Archaeology Digest #605
Open Access Archaeology Digest #606
Open Access Archaeology Digest #607
Open Access Archaeology Digest #608
Open Access Archaeology Digest #609
Open Access Archaeology Digest #610
Highland Henge Trail
Ancient names resurface for archaeological sites in Prince Rupert
Trinity Well, Trinity Gask, Perthshire
Objects, History, Conflict: Cyprus, Atari, The Bakken
Myth of Origins in the Bakken
Three New Novels
An Unsatisfying Final Chapter to the Tourist Guide of the Bakken
Friday Varia and Quick Hits
Graffiti Art in Athens
Hamid Khezri on Dotar
In memoriam Mahmoud Salih
Nothing really ends…
On the Road with Filmmakers Meredith Driess and David O. Brown
Things learned from Yossi Garfinkel’s presentations in Tampa
The Steinhardt Sardinian Figure and the Medici Dossier
Mithras on Hadrian’s Wall
Pick a Number, Any Number
Mystical K
Teaching Roman history for the first time
A Merry Time In Old (And New) England — Part 3
Prehistoric Rock Art & Preservation
Bronze Age Gold: Treasures from the National Museum of Ireland
Ranvaik’s Casket, an ornate shrine stolen during Viking raids on Ireland?
Murray Reviews HBO’s ‘Banksy Does New York’
More on ISIS and Illicit Antiquities
Varmer on Underwater Cultural Heritage law
Litigation seems inevitable in the Gurlitt case
Bedd Porius: The Biography of an Early Medieval Inscribed Stone
Weland the Smith at Leeds
The Sad Story of Henry
Archaeoden Relaunch
Death on Kirkgate
All aboard for a Heaven and Earth Tour at Stonehenge!
New roads in Willits and Wilts: not just the names are similar
A pair of stone alignments with much to tell us
PAS’s Piggery pokery database
For those poor archaeologists that work in the Alps: T.E.A., Taiwanese landscape painting and a bit of facebook
Cocktails with Keiller*
Linguistics at Futility Closet
Review: Wynn and Coolidge, How to think like a Neandertal
New BAS video with Safi lecture included
Safi talks went very well!
Tuesday – first day in the desert 2014
Wednesday – more excavation and a diagnostic lid
Thursday – archaeology rules
Friday – another exciting desert camp
Saturday – a complex camp
Laboratory Work in the Winter
Discovering the already discovered – It’s OK to still be excited!
Mimburi Bush Tucker/ Medicine Book Almost Complete
UCL Events’ review of my recent Petrie Museum lecture
My reflections on the “Newer Researchers in Folklore Conference”, Warburg Institute
Ground Slate Lance heads
Pendants in progress
Finished Ivory Polar Bear Head Pendants
Thursday Photo
NEWS: Middle Kingdom tombs discovered in Luxor
Scotland’s Community Heritage Conference 2014 Videos
Soldiers at Stonehenge
The Medieval Magpie Mystery
7 Classical Statues Taking Selfies
How Are We Talking About Archaeology?
Early Classic Co-Rulers on Tikal Temple VI
Silence in the Cemetery: Part III (Excavation)
Understanding Chert in the Mid-Hudson Valley: A Note on a Recent Workshop and Field Trip
House Bill Calls for Cultural Property Protection Czar and Import Restrictions on Syrian Heritage in Jeopardy
Contract Archaeology versus Plumbing
The Albino Redwood: A Significant Non-Historic, Non-Traditional Cultural Place
No, Federal Agencies DON’T Have to Nominate All Historic Places to the National Register
The Hole in the Head: Lessons Learned and Lost
Big News: BBC Replica Trilithon Rediscovered—Just in Time for Clonehenge’s Sixth Birthday!
Movement Across Disciplines: Inspiration from the Migration with Borders Conference at MSU
Professional Development for Possibilities Outside the Professoriate Track
Danti’s Inference: The Known Unknowns Of ISIS and Antiquities Looting
World Toilet Day – attitudes to poop in the past
Stonehenge in a global context
Comparing Text with Human Remains in Ancient Egypt
Test Your Skills: Identifying Features and Siding the Parietals
Specimen of the Week: Week 162
Through the Looking Glass Sponge
Call for participants: Apolline Project
Conference: Diet and environment in the Roman world
News: Vases in Pompeii Reveal Panic Before Eruption
Book: La Pittura di Ercolano
In the news this week
Photo: Vesuvio immortalato dallo spazio
Kilns with raw clay vases outside Porta Ercolano
Article on Herculaneum’s boat
If the boot fits, wear it
Christmas in the City? It’s all here…
3D KAP: textured surface animation
Who is Who in the Ur III Dynasty
Migrations or Acculturations?
A Comparative Study of the Origins of Cavalry in the Ancient Near East and China
Digging for Troy
Gods & Demons: Apep
The new virtual life of early analogue photography: digitising Oxford University’s magic lantern slide collection.
3D-imaging the Assyrian reliefs at the British Museum: from the 1850s to today
Petition mit Erfolg: schwedische Regierung lenkt ein
Antikenhandel in Südostasien
Football, archaeology and collegial ribbing
Bibliothèque numérique Medic@
One Off Journal Issues: Special Issue on Trafficking Cultural Objects
Open Access Journal: eTopoi. Journal for Ancient Studies
Corpus Antiquitatum Aegyptiacarum Old Kingdom Volumes Online
ASOR Resources online
Corpus of Mesopotamian Anti-witchcraft Ritual
Open Access Journal: ACOR Newsletter
Open Access Journal: TAARII Newsletter
Compact Memory Judaica Periodicals Online
New Open Access Journal: ISMAgazine: Periodico di informazione dell’Istituto di Studi sul Mediterraneo Antico (ISMA-CNR)
Ancient Jew Review
Open Access Journal: Studii de Preistorie
Archimède: Archéologie et histoire ancienne
Some Open Access Articles from Chronique d’Égypte
Dig Quest: Israel
ASCSA Digital Collections
Antiquity Online Supplements
Deir el Medine Online: Nichtliterarische Ostraka aus Deir el Medine

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Archaeologists hail ‘incredible’ Norfolk Bronze Age discovery

A spectacular new Norfolk treasure has been unveiled - after years of being used as a doorstop. The...

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Update: Tourist fined $30,000 for tagging Colosseum

A Russian tourist has been fined 20,000 euros ($A30,000) for engraving a big letter ‘K’...

ArcheoNet BE

Oost-Vlaamse contactdag archeologie op 6 december

Op zaterdag 6 december wordt in het Provinciaal Archeologisch Museum in Velzeke (Zottegem) opnieuw een Oost-Vlaamse archeologiecontactdag georganiseerd. Deze provinciale contactdag is een unieke gelegenheid waarbij mensen met een algemene interesse voor archeologie en professionele archeologen met elkaar in contact komen en ideeën kunnen uitwisselen. De contactdag richt zich zowel tot vrijetijdsarcheologen en metaaldetectoramateurs als tot de (jonge) beroepsarcheologen.

Het thema van de contactdag is dit jaar ‘Muren’. Muren en funderingen in zowel baksteen als natuursteen komen veel voor in opgravingen maar ook in oude gebouwen. Wat vertellen die ons en hoe moeten we die lezen? In de voormiddag zijn enkele praktische workshops voorzien, gevolgd door uitleg door materiaalspecialisten (breng gerust vondsten mee waar je vragen over hebt). Na de broodjeslunch gaat de dag verder met een aantal lezingen over recent archeologisch onderzoek in Oost-Vlaanderen.

Praktisch: in deze bijlage (pdf) vind je het volledige programma van de contactdag. Inschrijven kan tot 3 december via dit formulier. De archeologiecontactdag is een organisatie van de Provincie Oost-Vlaanderen in samenwerking met Vobov, pam Velzeke en pam Ename.

Jim Davila (

Hurvits et al., A Concise Lexicon of Late Biblical Hebrew

A Concise Lexicon of Late Biblical Hebrew
Linguistic Innovations in the Writings of the Second Temple Period

Avi Hurvitz in collaboration with Leeor Gottlieb, Aaron Hornkohl, and Emmanuel Mastéy

The Hebrew language may be divided into the Biblical, Mishnaic, Medieval, and Modern ‎periods. Biblical Hebrew has its own distinct linguistic profile, exhibiting a diversity of styles ‎and linguistic traditions extending over some one thousand years as well as tangible diachronic ‎developments that may serve as chronological milestones in tracing the linguistic history of ‎Biblical Hebrew. Unlike standard dictionaries, whose scope and extent are dictated by the contents of the ‎Biblical concordance, this lexicon includes only 80 lexical entries, chosen specifically for a ‎diachronic investigation of Late Biblical Hebrew. Selected primarily to illustrate the fifth-century ‘watershed’ separating Classical from ‎post-Classical Biblical Hebrew, emphasis is placed on ‘linguistic contrasts’ illuminated by a rich collection ‎of examples contrasting Classical Biblical Hebrew with Late Biblical Hebrew, Biblical Hebrew with Rabbinic Hebrew, and Hebrew with Aramaic.‎

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Why Use PAS Database if There is No Control on Data Quality? :

Heritage Action's weekend post on metal detecting raises an interesting question concerning 'PAS’s Piggery pokery database' (23/11/2014) and the key issue of the veracity of findspot data recorded there at public expense. I have constantly raised this issue on my blog- and the clear potential for the database to be used to 'launder' findspots (and the demonstration that people have been caught trying to do this a number of times in the past - how many times have people not been detected?). My guess is the PAS will not be answering Heritage Action as per usual - even though it concerns the fundamental issue of data hygiene. The issue is as Professor David Gill has just asked: “How far can we trust the information supplied with the reported objects? Are these largely reported or “said to be” findspots?". It is notable that, although the L:ooting Matters blog should be required reading for all involved professionally in portable antiquities, his question too was ignored by the PAS. As HA say:
It’s a highly pertinent question for in recent years PAS has increasingly promoted the benefits of its database to academic researchers (and ergo of itself to its funders of course). The “trust” issue that Professor Gill is alluding to is the practice of find spot falsification. It is normally presented as being something only nighthawks would do, in order to cover their tracks. But actually there’s a possibility it’s far more common than that. Because there’s a complete range of “shares” agreed between detectorists and landowners there’s a lot of money to be made by changing your account of where you found something. Bearing in mind this “fibbery” as we have previously termed it can be massively lucrative and impossible to detect, it’s hard to think it doesn’t happen rather a lot. 
Readers will find a number of cases mentioned on this blog for example here: 'Focus on UK Metal Detecting: The Farmer Never Gets to see the Good Stuff'. Heritage Action illustrate it very well with the brilliant graphic device of "a theoretical page from the diary of non-nighthawk Baz Thugwit":

"page from the diary of non-nighthawk
Baz Thugwit" (courtesy of Heritage Action)
This shows how the detectorist "earned himself an extra £750 that day (and of course distorted the PAS database) simply by driving down the motorway".  Now there is volunteer public self-recording well away from the controlling eye of the Finds Liaison Officer vetting the process:
Not that he even needed to do that for you can make loads of dosh in 3 seconds flat by telling a tiny lie to PAS online while sitting at home. How often does it happen? Dunno. You could ask PAS – but they haven’t the foggiest either. Hence, there’s no answer at all to the question “how far can we trust the information supplied?” 
To what extent is one, when using the PAS database for any purpose, buying a pig in a poke? All this could STOP tomorrow, if the PAS were to insist metal detectorists bring a finds release form signed by the landowner showing title to the individual objects brought in for recording. Why, actually, aren't they doing this now? 

How long do you think PAS can go on avoiding answering pertinent questions about what it is and is not doing at public expense? 


Will Lack of Pre-1970 Provenance Worry Antiquities Buyers?

Diorite Figure of a Priest of the Temple
of Mut (Karnak?), late 25th/early 26th
Dynasty. Privately-owned, exhibited in
the Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory
 University, August 2008-August 2013
Nord Wennstrom discusses some upcoming sales of non pre-1970 works and asks a question: ( 'Will Lack of Pre-1970 Provenance Spook Antiquities Buyers?', November 22, 2014)
In the upcoming New York antiquities auctions at Christie’s and Sotheby’s, there are at least 90 works that lack a pre-1970 provenance, including the two highest estimated works at Christie’s December 11, 2014 sale. More than one-third of the 192 lots at Christie’s and eighteen of the 49 lots offered at Sotheby’s December 12, 2014 sale have no pre-1970 provenance.
He points out that this is difficult to explain given that it was 40 years ago that the principles of the legal trade of cultural property were defined, "how do you explain that more than one-third of the works cannot be sourced earlier than 1970?"
Are collectors willing to “roll the dice” and hope such works are legitimately out of their source countries? Should the auction houses adopt a policy that precludes the acceptance of non pre-1970 works (which would infuriate a lot of clients)?
He lists several items - let's watch what happens to them on Dec 11th and 12th.
Christie’s Lot 105. GREEK BRONZE SITULA
Christie’s Lot 144. ROMAN SILVER SKYPHOS
Sotheby’s Lot 29. MARBLE FEMALE HEAD,

Kristina Killgrove (Powered by Osteons)

Bones - Season 10, Episode 8 (Review)

The Puzzler in the Pit
Episode Summary
Some protestors at a fracking site found a body in the pit. The narrow subpubic concavity and irregularly lipped ventral margin of the pubic symphysis suggests the victim was a man in his 40s. His left ulna was fractured and he had a cast; a piece of fabric with blood on it was found caught in the cast, and there were clues written on it about vengeance. His bones were quite porous for his age. Saroyan and Brennan note that the remains have less flesh than they did when they were found, and Hodgins thinks someone added HCl to the pit. He pours baking soda on the body to stop the tissue decomposition. The entire body has similar pitting save the occipital, because it was a fake bone. Based on that, Angela finds that the victim was Lawrence Brooks, who had a severe injury during a boating accident. Brooks worked as a major national crossword puzzle creator and was known as somewhat of a recluse.

"Hey, look, I just gave birth to a 2-month-old!"
Booth talks to Amelia Brooks, his wife.  She didn't report him missing, ostensibly because he often stayed out to work on his puzzles, and suggests that his assistant, Alexis Sherman, may have been responsible. While Alexis was upset that Lawrence hadn't made her co-editor yet, she insists she did not kill him.  She plays a threatening voice mail for Booth and Aubrey and describes a man who came looking for Lawrence on several previous occasions.  Based on Alexis' description, Angela draws the face of Emery Stewart.  Emery was writing a book on Brooks, but his voice does not fit with the threatening phone call.  He suggests Donald McKeon, a one-time friend of Brooks' but more recently bitter rival.  McKeon was staying at the hotel to which Booth traced the threatening call.  He admits to having made the call, but not to killing Brooks.  He insists that Brooks stole one of his puzzles, and he was threatening legal action.

Back at the lab, Brennan and Daisy find remodelled fractures localized around the pelvis, ribs, ankles, and arms. An x-ray of his femoral shafts shows significantly thinning cortical bone. There is also bone bruising around the metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joints, suggesting he punched someone right before his death. There are also healed avulsion fractures from about two months ago, suggesting someone bent his fingers back. A tox screen of his bone marrow reveals Brooks had been taking a drug for Alzheimer's, and that drug caused the bone issues.

Booth and Aubrey talk to Amelia Brooks again.  She admits she knew about the Alzheimer's and that she was publishing Brooks' old puzzles, because they needed the money from his job for his treatment. She accidentally published McKeon's puzzle.  She didn't know where Brooks' money went. Angela tracks down Brooks' bank statements and finds he was doing gambling online. Aubrey finds the bookie, who admits to having broken Brooks' fingers but didn't kill him.  Brooks was bankrolling Alexis.  She admits to stealing his money, but did not kill him. 

Finally, Daisy finds bilateral neural arch fractures on C5, C6, and C7, suggesting cause of death was a broken neck.  Then her water breaks. At the hospital, the team realizes that Saroyan's partial match on the blood in the cast could mean the blood was from a close relative. Aubrey reads Emery's manuscript and realizes that he is Brooks' son.  In college, Brooks got his girlfriend pregnant; the girlfriend died in childbirth, and he gave up the baby. After Emery's parents died in an accident, he learned he was adopted and figured out Brooks was his birth father. He had arranged with Brooks to meet at a cafe to talk, but Brooks didn't show. Emery tracked him to his house, saw Brooks out on a walk, and confronted him.  Brooks claimed he didn't know Emery, and they got into a fist fight. Brooks fell backward down the hill and died. Emery decided to cover up the body.  Aubrey tells him Brooks had Alzheimer's--that's why he didn't remember Emery; he wasn't ashamed of him.

  • Forensic
    • They used the pelvis for age-at-death and sex this episode!  Woo!
    • As usual, I question their ability to find "microfractures" and "bone bruising" all over the place, but especially so since the bones were compromised by acid.
  • Plot
    • It seems odd that someone would bother to reconstruct the EOP and nuchal lines on a fake occipital.  Are skull prostheses really that detailed with respect to anatomy?
    • Amelia knew that Lawrence had Alzheimer's, and she didn't report him missing when he didn't come home?  And she knew that he had Alzheimer's, and she didn't bother to look into their joint accounts to make sure the money was being managed properly?
    • Hodgins was running around the lab with an erlenmeyer flask filled with red liquid.  Not king of the lab safety team, eh?
    • Hahahaha, another TV baby: cute, plump, pink 2-month-old.  And Daisy doesn't have to deliver the placenta.  And the nurse hands her the baby with a light blanket, rather than shoving a tightly-swaddled baby on her boob.  Oh, TV birth.  So funny.  At least it was too late for an epidural; that was realistic.
  • Dialogue
    • "I'm told my people skills are not very well developed." - Brennan
    • "A human being is trying to escape from her vagina." - Angela

Forensic Mystery - B.  Solid enough mystery.  Some plot quibbles as above.

Forensic Solution - C. This episode relied on Angela to: find the positive ID, do a forensic artist sketch of the possible killer, and do forensic computing to find bank information. She's always doing crazy things, but this episode was egregious in how many hats they needed her to wear.

Drama - C+. Some solid pathos at the end from the guy who played Emery.

Laura Gibbs (Bestiaria Latina Blog)

Latin Proverbs and Fables Round-Up: November 23

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 nonum Kalendas Decembres.

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


3-WORD MOTTOES: Today's 3-word motto is Nemo solus sapit (English: No one is wise by himself).

3-WORD PROVERBS: Today's 3-word proverb is Varietate homines delectantur (English: People are pleased by variety).

RHYMING PROVERBS: Today's proverb with rhyme is: Plus valet in dextra munus quam plurima extra (English: One gift in the right hand is worth more than many which are not at hand).

VULGATE VERSES: Today's verse is Mandatum lucerna est, et lex lux (6:23). 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: Sera in fundo parsimonia: It is to late sparinge at the botome. This sentence of Seneca is worthy to be written uppon the boxes of all those houses, of al countinge houses, upon al kaskettes, al vessels of wine or such like thinges. It monisheth us to spare betimes, and not to follow the common sorte of prodigal yongkers, which whan theyr landes and goods be ones fallen into theyr hands, think there is no botome of theyr fathers bagges and cofers, nor no boundes of theyr landes.

BREVISSIMA: The distich poster for today is Senex et Iuvenis. Click here for a full-sized view.

And here are today's proverbial LOLcats:

Faciam meo modo.
I will do it in my way.

Quam felix vita transit sine negotiis!
How happily passes a life without business!


FABULAE FACILES: The fable from the Fabulae Faciles widget is Formica Alata, the story of an ant who asked for wings, and later regretted it (this fable has a vocabulary list).

MILLE FABULAE: The fable from the Mille Fabulae et Una widget is Gallus Divinus et Vulpes, the story of a sly fox and a very foolish rooster.

Gallus et Vulpes

Latin Fables Read by Justin Slocum Bailey. Here is today's audio fable: Leo Epulum Faciens, with links to the audio and to the blog post.

ἐν ἐφέσῳ: Thoughts and Meditations

Thesis Defense Presentation Power Point

I just uploaded the power point from my thesis defense presentation to It isn’t a lot of information. I confess all by itself that it might create more questions than anything else. But we’re making progress. The real deal will be posted next week some time.

Filed under: Grammar, Greek, Language, Linguistics

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Antiquity Online Supplements

Antiquity Online Supplements
Antiquity online supplements present supporting data and materials from articles published in Antiquity journal.

Data and materials are published in recognised web formats wherever possible, but additional plugins and third-party software may be required to view some files.

Issue 341, Vol 88 - September 2014
Issue 341, Vol 88 - September 2014
Issue 341, Vol 88 - September 2014
Issue 341, Vol 88 - September 2014
Issue 341, Vol 88 - September 2014
Issue 340, Vol 88 - June 2014
Issue 340, Vol 88 - June 2014
Issue 340, Vol 88 - June 2014
Issue 340, Vol 88 - June 2014
Issue 340, Vol 88 - June 2014
Issue 339, Vol 88 - March 2014
Issue 339, Vol 88 - March 2014
Issue 339, Vol 88 - March 2014
Issue 339, Vol 88 - March 2014
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Issue 338, Vol 87 - December 2013
Issue 338, Vol 87 - December 2013
Issue 338, Vol 87 - December 2013
Issue 338, Vol 87 - December 2013
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Issue 337, Vol 87 - September 2013
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Issue 335, Vol 87 - March 2013
Issue 335, Vol 87 - March 2013
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Issue 332, Vol 86 - June 2012
Issue 331, Vol 86 - March 2012
Issue 329, Vol 85 - September 2011
Issue 329, Vol 85 - September 2011
Issue 327, Vol 85 - March 2011

Deir el Medine Online: Nichtliterarische Ostraka aus Deir el Medine

Deir el Medine Online: Nichtliterarische Ostraka aus Deir el Medine
Die Zahl der im Gebiet der Arbeitersiedlung von Deir el Medine gefundenen Ostraka mit nichtliterarischem Inhalt hat die 10.000 bereits weit hinter sich gelassen und wird möglicherweise auch die 20.000 noch überschreiten. „Deir el Medine online" dient dem Ziel, dieser Textflut mit Hilfe moderner Technologien Herr zu werden.

Die Ostraka werden in einer heutigen wissenschaftlichen Anforderungen gerecht werdenden Weise bearbeitet und unter Nutzung der technischen Möglichkeiten, die dieses Medium bietet, im Internet publiziert.

Die Präsentation der einzelnen Texte folgt einem einheitlichen Muster: Sie werden jeweils anhand eines detaillierten, für alle Ostraka gleichen Schemas beschrieben, hieroglyphisch transliteriert, phonetisch transkribiert übersetzt und ausführlich kommentiert. Die Dokumentation wird durch eine farbige Digitalfotografie - bei Bedarf auch durch mehrere - komplettiert. Außerdem erlaubt das System umfassende Recherchemöglichkeiten im gesamten Datenmaterial. Damit kann ein grundlegendes - und durch zusätzliche Daten jederzeit erweiterbares - Instrumentarium für die Arbeit mit diesen Texten zur Verfügung gestellt werden.

November 22, 2014

Ancient Art

“He therefore made the temple of Saturn a treasury, as it...

He therefore made the temple of Saturn a treasury, as it is to this day, and gave the people the privilege of appointing two young men as quaestors, or treasurers.” (Plutarch Publicola 12.2)

The ancient Roman temple of Saturn of the Forum Romanum.

The Temple of Saturn was dedicated in 498 BC, rebuilt in 42 BC, and again in the 4th century AD. The surviving Ionic columns date from the latter period. This temple was the repository for the State treasury, Saturn was, after all, linked with agriculture: Rome’s original source of wealth.

Photos taken by Richard White.

Doug's Archaeology: Investigating the Profession and Research

Scotland’s Community Heritage Conference 2014 Videos

I have been MIA recently from this blog. That is because I have been video recording conferences over the last few weeks and the editing the videos takes up a lot of time. First up is Scotland’s Community Heritage Conference, held in Crief two weeks ago. It was a pretty amazing conference. With talks focusing on community heritage projects and workshops delivering excellent training. Alex made a mural of the talks:

CHC 2014 Scribed-AGCH

Here were the talks:

Ian Walford, joint CEO of RCAHMS & Historic Scotland, opens the 2014 Scotland’s Community Heritage Conference

Still waiting on some permissions for the keynote speaker but the following presentation almost got a standing ovation at the conference.

Shaun Lowrie and Barrie MacMillian present the community archaeology work in Cumnock.

Neil Hooper, Fortingall Roots, presents the work on the Fortingall Kirkyard.

Joe Fitzpatrick talks about the Living Lomands projects

Speakers present their projects and subjects in under a minute at the Scotland’s Community Heritage Conference, 2014.

Hannah Baxter and Judy Wilkinson present the work of the Scottish Allotments and Gardens Society.

Neill Malcolm, presents the work of the Friends of Keil Chapel

Willie Crombie and Fiona Glover talk about the work of the Friends of Eyemouth Fort.

Muriel Dunbar & Robin Baker discuss the restoration of the Birks Cinema in Aberfeldy

Sian Jones reflects on what was presented at the SCHC conference and the future of community heritage.

Ancient Peoples

Nose and Lips of Akhenaten 18th Dynasty, New Kingdom Amarna...

Nose and Lips of Akhenaten

18th Dynasty, New Kingdom

Amarna Period

Found in the dumps south of the Sanctuary of the Great Aten Temple or in the Sanctuary itself, this fragment is attributed to Akhenaten. The inner corner of one eye is visible alongside the nose. 
Although there is little to distinguish many representations of the king and the queen, particularly relatively early in the Amarna years, the particularly long line alongside the nose and lips and the sinuous upper lip support that identification.

(Source: The Met Museum)

Open Access Archaeology

Open Access Archaeology Digest #610

Open Access (free to read) Archaeology articles:

Notice of an Ornamented Stone Cup found at Balmacaan, Glenurquhart.

Account of the Excavation of two Hut-Circles of the Bronze Age, in the Parish of Muirkirk, Ayrshire. With a Description of the Objects found.

Notice of a Sculptured Stone with Ogham Inscription, from Latheron, presented to the National Museum by Sir Francis Tress Barry, Bart., M.P. Hon. F.S.A. Scot., Keiss Castle, Caithness; and of Two Sculptured Stones, recently discovered by Rev. D. Macrae, B.D., at Edderton, Ross-shire.

The Origin of Early Pottery in Northeast Asia in the Context of Environmental Change

Learn more about Open Access and Archaeology at:

David Meadows (rogueclassicism)

RepiTitiationes ~ 11/21/14

RepiTitiationes ~ 11/20/14

RepiTitiationes ~ 11/19/14

Dorothy King (PhDiva)

Vandalism by Looters at Palmyra

المديرية العامة للآثار والمتاحف

Three Stolen Busts which once decorated a kline were stole from Palmyra but Confiscated by the Syrian antiquities police. They were in the TAIBUL Tomb ( H ), Southeast Necropolis.



David Meadows (rogueclassicism)

Ludus duodecim scriptorum Board from Turkey!

Interesting item from Hurriyet … it says “game pieces” but the photo that accompanies the story seems to be more about a ‘game board’:

Two game pieces from the Roman era 1,800 years ago have been found in the ancient city of Kibyra, in the southern Turkish province of Burdur’s Gölhisar district.

“We don’t have too much information about this game but we believe that it was played by two people on squares … with dice,” Professor Ünal Demirer said, adding that the Roman-era game dated back 1,800-2,000 years ago at least.

The game was known as “Ludus duodecim scriptorium” or “XII scripta” (game of 12 markings).

Excavations in the ancient city are being conducted by Mehmet Akif Ersoy University’s (MAKU) Archaeology Department.

Demirer said the works had been continuing since 2007 on the avenue of the ancient city’s agora, adding that the game pieces were also used for other purposes.

“The game was found in the pool structure. We think that it was also used for another purpose. Because of its Latin name, we attribute the game to the Romans. It is like today’s Jacks. People spent time in the agora playing such games,” he said.

“Ludus duodecim scriptorum” was a board game popular during the time of the Roman Empire. The game tabula in Byzantium is thought to be a descendant of this game, and both are similar to modern backgammon.

Very little information about specific gameplay has survived, though we know that it was played using three cubic dice, and each player had 15 pieces.

Here’s the accompanying photo:

via Hurriyet

There’s a good overview of Ludus duodecim scriptorum at Ancient Games 2: Duodecim Scripta and Tabula

Dorothy King (PhDiva)

Minister Tasoulas on Amphipolis

As I have said before it slightly worries me that people are overly associating me with Amphipolis, and I am happy to explain points, but ... I will wait until Katerina Peristeri presents the amazing finds on the 29th, and she reveals Act One of the great Saga of Amphipolis.

Today's press release (here) added this information:
Σύμφωνα με τον Υπουργό Πολιτισμού, με τις εργασίες συντήρησης αποκαλύφθηκαν οι πρώτες υποψίες ανθρώπινων αναπαραστάσεων στα επιστύλια που βρέθηκαν στον τρίτο χώρο. Αυτή τη στιγμή έχει γίνει ο πρώτος καθαρισμός των επιστυλίων και θα ακολουθήσει και επεξεργασία τους με λέιζερ, καθώς και άλλες διαδικασίες.  "Αν βιαστείς, κινδυνεύεις να κάνεις σφάλματα που μπορεί να είναι καθοριστικά", τόνισε ο Υπουργός, ο οποίος θέλησε να πει με αυτόν τον τρόπο ότι δεν κρύβουν κάτι, απλώς οι αποκαλύψεις γίνονται έτσι και αλλιώς με αργούς ρυθμούς και δεν είναι μόνο θέμα κάποιου νέου ευρήματος, αλλά και η ίδια η διαδικασία της συντήρησης θα συνεχίσει να αποκαλύπτει πράγματα. "Αυτή είναι και η γοητεία της αρχαιολογίας", ανέφερε
The description of the first human representations in friezes in the third room, and that they are being treated with lasers, suggests to me that they were painted. Similar painted figures were found inside the tomb of Hecatomnus, and unlike the sculptures these kinds of paintings can fade and vanish quickly if they are not treated correctly.

Also this paragraph suggest that I may have been correct in my assumption that filling the rooms with soil was partly to stop them collapsing:
Ο κύριος Τασούλας, θέλοντας να δείξει τις δυσκολίες που είχε να αντιμετωπίσει η ομάδα σε σχέση με τις στερεωτικές διαδικασίες, είπε: "Το χώμα μέσα στον τάφο, κατά τη διάρκεια των χρόνων, έπαιξε ρόλο στερεωτικό για το μνημείο. Η αφαίρεση του χώματος ανέτρεπε τη στήριξη, και οι υποστυλώσεις έπρεπε να γίνονται με τρόπο τέτοιο ώστε να παρέχουν ακριβώς την ίδια στήριξη στα τοιχώματα κάθε φορά, ούτε περισσότερη ούτε λιγότερη."
As I keep saying, the team at Amphipolis is one of the best in the world. In times of crisis, and Greece has been going through a horrible period, it is natural to doubt everyone in authority, but please do not doubt that Katerina Peristeri and Michaelis Lefantzis are doing an exceptional job at Amphipolis.

David Meadows (rogueclassicism)

RepiTitiationes ~ 11/18/14

RepiTitiationes ~ 11/17/14

RepiTitiationes 11/16/14

RepiTitiationes 11/15/14

RepiTitiationes 11/14/14

RepiTitiationes 11/13/14

… catching up …

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Could rare sword have belonged to Ivan the Terrible?

The medieval sword was discovered buried under a tree in Novosibirsk region, and scientists are...

Elena Cano (Γνωθι τους αλλους)

Herodotus pudding: Repostería victoriana con raíces clásicas

Herodoto (imagen de Wikimedia Commons)

    Las tardes grises de días como el de hoy en Zaragoza, esos que acaban  sin que veamos ni un solo rayo de sol,  me dan ganas de encender el horno. Debe de ser por eso por lo que estaba yo hace un rato hojeando un libro de cocina victoriano  que hace tiempo  encontré en la red, siguiendo los consejos de mi  admirada Biscayenne , cuando , de repente, me tropecé con  el sorprendente nombre de una de sus recetas: Herodotus pudding, pudin de Heródoto.

     Como una es curiosa y cuenta con la inestimable ayuda de los  eficientes buscadores de internet, no pudo resistir la tentación de intentar averiguar el por qué a una cocinera inglesa se le habría ocurrido bautizar este humilde postre con el nombre del padre de la Historia. El buscador no falló y en un pispás descubrí que el bloguero galés Dyfed Lloyd Evans debió de tener  antes que yo la misma duda, seguramente también en una tarde sin sol de las que abundan en su hermosa tierra.  Encontró la respuesta en el siguiente pasaje de las  Historias:

         No es una misma la manera de escoger y consumir las víctimas en los sacrificios, sino muy varia en cada una de ellos. Hablaré del de la diosa de su mayor veneración y a la cual se consagra la fiesta más solemne, de la diosa Isis. En su reverencia hacen un ayuno, le presentan después sus oraciones y súplicas, y, por último, le sacrifican un buey. Desollada la víctima, le limpian las tripas, dejando las entrañas pegadas al cuerpo con toda su gordura; separan luego las piernas, y cortan la extremidad del lomo con el cuello y las espaldas. Entonces embuten y atestan lo restante del cuerpo de panales purísimos de miel, de uvas o higos pasos, de incienso, mirra y otros aromas, y derramando después sobre él aceite en gran abundancia, entregando a las llamas. Al sacrificio precede el ayuno, y mientras está abrasándose la víctima, se hieren el pecho los asistentes, se maltratan y lloran y plañen, desquitándose después en espléndido convite con las partes que de la víctima separaron.
   Herodoto,  Historias, libro II, 40. Ed. Gredos ( Trad. de Carlos Schrader)

Así pues,  la receta, que Mrs. Beeton tomó de un  pionero libro de cocina muy popular en la época,  publicado en 1945 por Eliza Acton , otra famosa mentora de las amas de casa victorianas, está inspirada  nada menos que en los rituales egipcios en honor de Isis. Es pues, en palabras de la propia Eliza "una genuina receta clásica".

      Si como a mí, el tiempo otoñal os abre la gana de comidas contundentes y no os arredra la faena culinaria, os animo a seguir las sencillas y claras instrucciones de Mrs. Beeton:

Ingredientes: 1/2 libra de migas de pan, 1/2 libra de buenos higos, 6 onzas de manteca, 6 onzas de azúcar, 1/2 cucharada de sal, 3 huevos, nuez moscada a gusto.
Procedimiento:  Picar la manteca y los higos muy finamente. Añadir el resto de los ingredientes tomando cuidado de que los huevos estén bien batidos. Batir la mezcla durante unos minutos y poner en un molde engrasado. Atarlo con un paño enharinado y ponerlo a hervir cinco horas. Servir con salda de vino.

 Tiempo: 5 horas                                             Coste aproximado: 10 reales
Cantidad suficiente para 5 o 6 personas        Temporada: cualquiera

       Después, podéis acabar el convite leyendo alguno de los poemas de la bien instruida cocinera que nos legó la receta, como, por ejemplo,  este en el que también demuestra su buen conocimiento de  la herencia clásica:


NAY ! take the Rose, ere yet its grace,
    Its freshness, and its bloom, are gone;
And be thy heart its resting place
    Until its young, sweet life be flown;
For on that breast of honour shrin'd,
A glorious death my flow'r will find;
And it must perish soon--with thee
It will but fade less lingeringly.
Its leaves are tinted with the flush
Of summer sunsets,-- but that blush,
Radiant as Love's, will pass away
As dies in heav'n the smile of day. 
Its breath is odour's essence ;--ne'er
Before did bud, or blossom, bear
Such soul of perfume--oh! that aught
    So beautiful, should be so frail!
It wakes a tone of sad'ning thought
    To dwelt upon its silent tale ;--
Not for itself--but that it is
An emblem of all human bliss.

Ancient Peoples

"Unguentum, fateor, bonum dedisti Convivis here, sed nihil scidisti. Res salsa est bene olere et..."

“Unguentum, fateor, bonum dedisti
Convivis here, sed nihil scidisti.
Res salsa est bene olere et esurire.
Qui non cenat et unguitur, Fabulle,
Hic vere mihi mortuus videtur.”


"You gave, I confess, good perfumes at dinner yesterday, but you served no meat. It is a witty thing to smell good yet starve. He who is anointed and does not eat, Fabullus, this man truly seems dead to me."

– Martial 3.12

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

Thoughts on Bart Ehrman’s How Jesus Became God #SBLAAR14

Today I am a panelist in an SBL session about Bart Ehrman's book, How Jesus Became God. I thought I would share my notes here both for regular blog readers not attending SBL, for those at SBL who wanted to attend the session and could not, and for those at the session who may find it useful to see my thoughts in writing.


Bart Ehrman’s How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee features all the things that many of us have come to appreciate about Ehrman’s books – a broad overview combined with consideration of important details, clarity to such an extent that a layperson can understand it, and innovative suggestions which make even his books aimed at a popular audience of interest to scholars, and worth talking about at a scholarly conference like this one. I consider it a privilege to have been invited to participate on this panel.

In reflecting on and evaluating the volume, let me begin with those things that I appreciate most:

1) The attention to both the broader Roman and narrower Jewish contexts of early Christianity.

2) The attention to the range of possible meanings of terms like “divinity” not only in non-Jewish but also in Jewish thought. It would perhaps have been useful in this context to mention the concept of “creation out of nothing,” the development of which was probably a major factor in the creation of a sharp dividing line between the one supreme God and all other entities, whether designated as “God” or not. Nonetheless, not everyone is aware that there was blurriness even within a Jewish context, and a range of possible ways of being “divine” even while reserving some forms of reverence for one supreme God alone. And so drawing attention to this is likewise a helpful feature.

3) Although tangential to the book’s main focus, I appreciated Ehrman’s willingness to apply historical reasoning to elements of later works, and to recognize as a result that they may nonetheless preserve older traditions. Examples include the speeches in Acts and the pre-Pauline formulas quoted in his letters. But I am thinking in particular of his treatment of the parable of the sheep and the goats (pp.108-9), which Ehrman argues goes back to Jesus, since later Christians emphasized the need to believe in Jesus as the key to salvation. The point is of course open to challenge, since even Paul emphasizes that those who do certain things will not inherit the kingdom of God, and that those who persist in doing good will receive eternal life, to say nothing of what Matthew (who did not always agree with Paul) says on the topic. And so it would take more detailed discussion of Matthew’s theology to determine whether this specific point is persuasive.[1] But the willingness to not merely dismiss later material distinctive to Matthew illustrates the careful attention to detail that makes Ehrman’s books so valuable and interesting, to scholars as well as the general audience that is their primary target. And it also helps to convey the fact that Ehrman is not approaching this subject from a standpoint of excessive skepticism, which would otherwise be an accusation some might try to use as a means to dismissing the book and what it says. One may disagree with Ehrman’s conclusions, but no one can seriously suggest that he is being unfair.[2]

4) Ehrman’s emphasis on the fact that there isn’t a straight linear trajectory of development in New Testament Christology (p.237). We see this most clearly in the contrast between Luke and John, which compete for last place when it comes to the question of the order in which the Gospels were written. Luke-Acts often seems to accurately reflect some very early, and at times perhaps the earliest, views of Jesus, despite its late date; while John has the only incarnational Christology among the Gospels.

5) This leads in turn to another point that I appreciate – Ehrman’s argument that the traditional terminology of “low Christology” is inappropriate. As Ehrman himself puts it (pp.231-232):

The problem with…the term low Christology – is that it speaks of this view of Christ in a rather condescending way, as if it were an inadequate understanding…I do not think we should overlook just how amazing this view was for the people who first held it. For them, Jesus was not “merely” adopted to be God’s son. That is the wrong emphasis altogether. They believed that Jesus had been exalted to the highest status that anyone could possibly imagine. He was elevated to an impossibly exalted state. This was the most fantastic thing anyone could say about Christ: he had actually been elevated to a position next to God Almighty…This was not a low, inferior understanding of Christ; it was an amazing, breathtaking view.[3]

No book is without its shortcomings, and so let me now turn to a couple of points that I think are open to being challenged.

1) Most mainstream scholars will find uncontroversial the statement that the Synoptic Gospels lack a Christology of pre-existence, while the Gospel of John has one. And so it is understandably Ehrman’s shift on the question of Paul’s Christology that has therefore gotten a significant amount of the attention. Let me make several sub-points related to the interpretation of specific details in Paul’s letters.

  1. First, the questions of whether Paul thought of Jesus as pre-existent, and whether he thought of him as God, are important to distinguish, even if they are related. Both points have been subjects of ongoing scholarly debate. I won’t attempt to revisit the topic of the Philippians hymn here in detail, since even whole books have a hard time doing justice to the depth and extent of the subject. In relation to 1 Corinthians 10:4, however, I wish to quote Richard Hays’ observation, which I think highlights the problem of treating the typological identification of the rock with Christ as evidence of his personal pre-existence: “Paul’s metaphors should not be pressed. He does not mean, at the level of literal statement, that Moses passed out baptismal certificates or that theologians should debate whether Christ was igneous, metamorphic, or sedimentary.”[4] It seems noteworthy to me that just about, if not indeed every single Pauline hint that Christ may have pre-existed his earthly life, is found in a poetic passage or a symbolic interpretation of the Jewish Scriptures.
  2. The question of whether Paul thought of Jesus as pre-existent must be followed, if answered positively, by the question of what sort of pre-existence it was. Just as Ehrman highlights an array of ways of being divine, so too there seem to have been a range of possible ways to pre-exist, ranging from ideal existence in the mind and foreordination of God, to something more literal and personal. It should also be noted that, if Paul thought of Jesus as one that pre-existed in heaven, whether as a human soul, the celestial Adam, an angel, a divine hypostasis, or something else, he does not spell these things out in detail in his letters. And so it is also important to remind ourselves that what we are disagreeing about on this subject is less about what Paul wrote, and more about what we think he assumed, and how our own assumptions, and our understanding of Paul’s assumptions, affect our understanding of the meaning of what he in fact wrote.
  3. Turning to Romans 9:5, Ehrman suggests (p.269) that this text should be accepted as a reference by Paul to Jesus as God. While that is indeed the most natural reading of the grammar of what Paul wrote, many have considered it unlikely that Paul would refer to Jesus as God here when he does not do so elsewhere. Ehrman claims that this argument is circular, since we can only say that Paul does not refer to Jesus as God if we exclude this passage. However, I am not persuaded that the reasoning Ehrman criticizes is in fact circular, or at least, not more so than any interpretation of a text that begins with a text, turns attention to its context, and then returns to the text expecting it to be further elucidated by the process. It is a legitimate question to ask whether it is likely that someone who viewed another person as “God” would refer to him that way explicitly only once, in passing, without further comment or explanation. The probability or otherwise of that must be weighed over against the probability that Paul’s wording here means that Jesus is God, rather than an imprecisely worded exclamation of praise to the one God. Likewise, the fact that Paul elsewhere describes the one God, who exalts Jesus to a position second only to God, as being above all and all in all, makes it seem unlikely that Paul would here call Jesus “God over all.” But in view of what Paul says elsewhere, we still ought to acknowledge that, if Paul meant to say that Jesus is “God over all,” he was implicitly excepting the God who put Jesus over all. And that is still compatible with this being a position of divinity to which Jesus as a human being was exalted. And so it tells us nothing about whether Paul thought Jesus was pre-existent.
  4. The suggestion that Jesus was thought of as an “angel” is also an interesting one. Here too, it must be asked whether that meant Jesus had been “angelified” by exaltation, rather like Enoch in some literature, or had pre-existed as an angel before appearing on Earth. However, given that this is the sole explicit use of angelos in reference to Jesus, we must consider whether here it has its specific meaning of celestial spiritual messenger, or simply means “messenger.”[5] In context, Paul saying that the Galatians had accepted him, despite his illness, as a messenger of God, even as God’s supreme messenger Jesus Christ, would make perfect sense. And so the question in this instance is once again how to relate what Paul says here to other evidence about his Christology.
  5. The possibility that our earliest Christian author has more in common with one of the latest Gospels than with the earlier ones raises a number of historical puzzles. And so, for this to make sense, we need to come up with a plausible explanation of why one or more Christians very early on began to speak of Jesus as pre-existent, and why others did not follow suit. This is not a criticism of Ehrman’s book per se, but is rather an indication of where its treatment of this subject for a popular audience leads to areas that deserve fuller exploration and discussion in greater detail by Ehrman and/or others who find his interpretation of Paul persuasive. One possible avenue for exploration is that the Similitudes of Enoch, with their depiction of the Messiah as pre-existent and already filled with the wisdom of God, may have influenced Paul and provided the framework for his view of Jesus.[6] But that work also influenced Matthew, who nevertheless fails to depict Jesus as pre-existent. And so the influence of the Similitudes alone seems inadequate to explain the differences. Could it have been Paul’s desire to contrast decisions by Adam and Christ that led to the first step being taken in the direction of understanding the pre-existence of the Messiah literally? This and other possibilities need to be revisited.

2) Let me turn now more briefly to a second point at which I found Ehrman’s case less than compelling, namely his treatment of Jesus’ burial, or lack thereof. I felt that Ehrman blurred the distinction between being denied burial altogether, and being denied a decent burial, in a manner that is unhelpful. The Gospel of Mark, read on its own terms, suggests that Jesus was given a dishonorable burial, as scholars like Raymond Brown, Byron McCane, and Craig Evans have suggested. It would have been good to see direct interaction with their cases, and perhaps also with the considerations which have apparently led John Dominic Crossan to move away from his own earlier stance that Jesus’ body was probably devoured by dogs. Jewish concern for burial even of crucified criminals is noted by Josephus. And were the application of the Jewish law regarding burial before sundown consistently and regularly prevented by Roman authorities, we would expect Jewish sources to mention this. The burial of Jesus in a grave for criminals would not have been “act of mercy” (as Ehrman refers to it), but merely a scrupulous application of what Torah required. It is only in some later sources that Joseph of Arimathea is turned into a disciple who acts to honor Jesus, and when such changes are made, the tomb and other details are also made more honorable. There is also a relevant piece of non-textual evidence: The fact that local Christians preserved a memory about the place where Jesus had been buried, even after the spot was covered by a stone platform connected with a temple of Aphrodite, and which by then was within the city walls, and which when uncovered revealed an abandoned limestone quarry (“the stone the builders rejected”) with multiple burial niches (indicating that this was a “graveyard” rather than a private tomb) seems to involve too many points of agreement with the meaning of Mark’s account, as understood by historical scholars but obscured by subsequent tradition, for this to be a coincidence. We do know as well from archaeological evidence that Jesus was not the only victim of crucifixion to be buried. I suspect, given the evidence, that there was an exception for the Jews to observe the demands of their ancestral law concerning burial, much as there was with respect to idols, rather than Jesus and a small handful of others having been granted individual exemptions from the common Roman practice. Nonetheless, Ehrman’s emphasis that Jesus was not given a decent burial may helpfully draw attention to the fact that the historical evidence suggests precisely what later Gospel authors sought to obscure and even directly deny, namely that Jesus was given a dishonorable burial without the spices and other actions that his followers felt he deserved. The question of why the Gospel authors felt the need to undo the indignity of how Jesus was buried in their storytelling, despite believing that God had acted to undo Jesus’ shameful burial, remains puzzling to me, and so here too I hope that Ehrman’s highlighting of this point will bring more attention to bear on the question, leading at the very least to interesting and creative discussion, if not clear answers.

I hope that these thoughts which I have shared will indicate both my appreciation for Ehrman’s book, which I think brings mainstream scholarship into the public consciousness in important ways, while also providing food for thought for scholars working on early Christology as well. This panel’s existence already testifies to this, but I trust that by the time our conversation here today is over, that testimony will be further reinforced by the evidence of the engagement which the book inspires and provokes among us.


[1] As someone who came to the academic study of the Bible out of and through a conservative Christian context, as did Bart Ehrman, I sometimes feel that that way of reading the text sometimes still shapes his understanding of New Testament works.

[2] I deliberately delayed reading the response volume edited by Mike Bird, How God Became Jesus, to avoid having my thoughts about the book colored by the criticisms of others before I had formulated my own thinking. I am frankly astonished that Ehrman’s view that the sources are problematic, but willingness to nevertheless see where there are strong arguments for the authenticity of some material, is characterized in the book as inconsistency rather than a balanced application of historical methods (see for instance p.49).

[3] Ehrman continues: “For this reason, I usually prefer to speak of it…as an exaltation Christology.” It is ironic that Mike Bird nonetheless insists that “Ehrman’s view of Jesus is low, so low in fact that it could probably win a limbo contest against a leprechaun” (How God Became Jesus, p.11).

[4] Richard Hays, Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul, p. 91.

[5] So F. F. Bruce, also Theodor Zahn and Sam K. Williams. Either way this statement will stand out within Paul’s letters, since there is no clear usage by Paul of angelos in reference to human messengers, although that meaning has been proposed for 1 Cor. 11 (see for instance Alan G. Padgett, ‘Paul on Women in the Church: The Contradictions of Coiffure in 1 Corinthians 11.2-16’, JSNT 20 (1984) 69-86); but likewise there is no other instance of Jesus being called an “angel.” It is also to be noted that here it would indeed be circular to suggest that Paul could not mean “messenger” here because he does not use angelos with that meaning elsewhere, since the word genuinely means both and so would be natural to use in either sense.

[6] See further James A. Waddell, The Messiah.


Of related interest around the blogosphere, see David Capes' post from a while back, in which he says Paul splits the Shema to include Jesus within it, and thus within the divine identity. I've blogged previously about a number of aspects of that topic.

Also see Andrew Perriman's post on the Christology of the Synoptic Gospels, and another on Jesus as the one who pours out the Spirit of God. Related to that is Mike Bird's mention of a lecture by Richard Hays, about the depiction of Jesus as divine in the Gospels. Dustin Smith and Dale Tuggy recently talked about pre-existence in the Gospel of John. And finally, note as well that Mike Heiser has created a website dedicated to the theme of “two powers in heaven.”


The Archaeology News Network

Tourist fined $30,000 for tagging Colosseum

A Russian tourist has been fined 20,000 euros ($A30,000) for engraving a big letter 'K' on a wall of the Colosseum, the latest act of vandalism by tourists at the ancient structure. Reckless tourists defacing Italy’s priceless monuments have become something  of an occupational hazard for authorities [Credit: ANSA]The news agency ANSA reported that the 42-year-old tourist was given a summary judgment on Saturday of a fine and a...

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Compitum - événements (tous types)

I “Manoscritti datati d’Italia” vent’anni dopo

Titre: I “Manoscritti datati d’Italia” vent’anni dopo
Lieu: Biblioteca Malatestiana / Cesena
Catégorie: Colloques, journées d'études
Date: 04.12.2014 - 05.12.2014
Heure: 09.30 h - 13.00 h

Information signalée par Jacques Elfassi


Catalogazione, storia della scrittura, storia del libro

I “Manoscritti datati d’Italia” vent’anni dopo

Convegno internazionale di studi

Cesena, Biblioteca Malatestiana 4 - 5 dicembre 2014

Giovedì 4 dicembre
Biblioteca Malatestiana - Aula Magna

Apertura del Convegno
Christian Castorri Assessore alla Cultura del Comune di Cesena
Teresa De Robertis Presidente dell’AIMD
Teresa De Robertis Università di Firenze
Albert Derolez Comité Internationale de Paleographie Latine, Gand
I manoscritti datati e loro importanza per gli studi paleografici e codicologici
Martina Pantarotto Università E-Campus, Novedrate
Convivenze di�cili - stabili sodalizi:i manoscritti compositi all'interno del corpus dei datati
Gabriella Pomaro SISMEL, Firenze
L’idiografo tra datato e databile
Pausa ca�ffè
Paolo Zanfini Biblioteca Malatestiana, Cesena
Date & Dati. Una prima analisi quantitativa sui Manoscritti datati d'Italia
Dominique Stutzmann IRHT, Paris
Les catalogues de manuscrits datés et l'analyse des écritures : perspectives ouvertes par l'alignement texte-image et la catégorisation des écritures

Nicoletta Giovè Università di Padova
Stefano Zamponi Università di Firenze
Littera textualis e lettera bastarda nei manoscritti datati
Irene Ceccherini IRHT, Paris
Per una storia della mercantesca attraverso i manoscritti datati
Leonardo Granata Università di Padova
Libri e scritture dell’umanesimo veneto del Quattrocento nei cataloghi di manoscritti datati
Pausa ca�ffè
Sandro Bertelli Università di Ferrara
Il volgare italiano delle Origini nei Manoscritti datati d’Italia
Giuliano Tanturli Università di Firenze
Copisti in contado
Sonia Chiodo Università di Firenze
Un manoscritto datato e un problema di miniatura fiorentina di primo Trecento
Laura Regnicoli Università di Firenze
David Speranzi Università di Milano
Le collezioni private fiorentine nel corpus dei Manoscritti datati d’Italia

Venerdì 5 dicembre
Biblioteca Malatestiana - Aula Magna
Stefano Zamponi Università di Firenze
Tavola rotonda:
Statuto e stato della catalogazione dei manoscritti in Italia e in Europa
Interventi programmati di:
Paola Degni Università di Bologna
Paolo Eleuteri Università di Venezia
Nicoletta Giovè Università di Padova
Marilena Maniaci Università di Cassino
Eef Overgaauw Staatsbibliothek, Berlin
Marco Palma Università di Cassino
Beat von Scarpatetti Comité Internationale de Paleographie Latine, Basel
Caterina Tristano Università di Siena
Pausa ca�ffè

Per informazioni e iscrizioni scrivere a:
iscrizioni entro il 28 novembre 2014

Comitato scientifico:
Sandro Bertelli, Elisabetta Caldelli, Marco D’Agostino,
Teresa De Robertis, Nicoletta Giovè, Michaelangiola Marchiaro,
Stefano Zamponi, Paolo Zanfini

Source : libraria.

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Million Dollar (?) Steinhardt Idol in Medici Archive

lot 85 'A Sardinian Marble Female Idol, Ozieri Culture, circa 2500-2000 B.C.', 'Property from the Michael and Judy Steinhardt Collection', is estimated at $800,000-1,200,000. Its provenance given by Christie's is: 'with Harmon Fine Arts, New York. with The Merrin Gallery, New York, 1990 (Masterpieces of Cycladic Art, no. 27). Acquired by the current owner, 1997.'
Catherine Schofield Sezgin, 'Dr. Christos Tsirogiannis identifies rare Sardinian idol to be auctioned at Christie's December 11 in New York City', ARCA Blog November 21, 2014. The photo in the Medici archive shows a shattered and dirty piece, the Christie's photos hows it tarted up with a reconstructed head - the extent of restoration is not mentioned in the catalogue entry.

On this blog we've come across this collector before ('Feds Seize Fresco Looted from Italian World Heritage Site' Monday, 18 November 2013). I've earlier discussed another part of the Michael and Judy Steinhardt Collection, and in particular how some of the objects in it got into it, (Friday, 26 April 2013, "A Treasured Legacy": The Michael and Judy Steinhardt Judaica Collection"). In particular I noted how the collector had been criticising the Metropolitan Museum, reportedly saying "that he was “less than overjoyed” with how that institution has handled antiquities controversies". Let's see how they themselves deal with this one. What documentation came with this item from Harmon Fine Arts and The Merrin Gallery?

UPDATE November 22 2014
David Gill has made a number of very important observations about this piece: 'The Steinhardt Sardinian Figure and the Medici Dossier' Looting Matters  Saturday, November 22, 2014
"Christie's would be wise to re-investigate the collecting history of the figure as a matter of urgency. Have they contacted the Italian authorities?"

Photo: the Steinhardts interviewed

The US Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act

A new bipartisan bill aims to sharpen the United States’ response to looting in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries impacted by war, political instability, or natural disaster, The Art Newspaper reported. New York Democratic congressman Eliot Engel, who introduced the legislation in the house last Thursday, said the Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act will “deny terrorists and criminals the ability to profit from instability by looting the world of its greatest treasures.” The bill is being co-sponsored by New Jersey Republican representative Chris Smith. [...]  “Protecting international cultural property is a vital part of United States cultural diplomacy, showing the respect of the United States for other cultures and the common heritage of humanity,” the bill states. 
Laura C. Mallonee 'New Bill Could Keep Looted Syrian Antiquities Out of US' hyperallergic November 20, 2014 

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

ASCSA Digital Collections

ASCSA Digital Collections
Explore the collections of the American School of Classical Studies by using the sidebar on the left or the search box above.
To confine your search to a single collection, click on one of the links below.
Ambrosia: Union Catalog of Libraries
Corinth Excavations
Athenian Agora Excavations
Alison Frantz Photography
Dorothy Burr Thompson Photography
Archaeological Photographic Collection
Photographs from the Historical Archives
Ion Dragoumis Correspondence

Sign in to view unpublished material. Material that has been published is made completely available to the public. Material that is unpublished can be viewed only by researchers who have obtained the necessary permission to study the material in person.

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Update: Scientists seek more tombs at ancient Greek site

AMPHIPOLIS, Greece — Officials say the vast ancient burial mound at Amphipolis in Greece...

The Archaeology News Network

Gold necklace found in 'largest Celtic hoard'

A gold necklace has been discovered by experts examining the world's largest hoard of Celtic coins. Senior conservator Neil Mahrer is working on Le Catillon II hoard and said they had already cleared nearly 4,000 of about 70,000 coins. The gold necklace was revealed as coins around it  were removed [Credit: BBC]The gold torque was partially exposed as researchers began to remove coins from around it. The coins were discovered by...

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Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)


The Scrypt software is a tool for computer-assisted decipherment of ancient alphabetic inscriptions, enabling the user to choose a set of possible readings for each cell of the inscription, and to automatically launch dictionary searches for selected regions of the text in the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew dictionary. The name Scrypt is inspired by a fusion of script (as in “ancient script”), script (a special kind of computer program) and crypt (as in “cryptography”).

Click on a cell to view (and possibly change) its content, and select a continuous range of cells to launch a dictionary search. Finally, just click on a word among the dictionary results, in order to save it in the "Readings" panel to the right.

Dig Quest: Israel

Dig Quest: Israel
By The Friends of the Israel Antiquities Authority
Become an archeologist! Use your iPhone or iPad as a tool to tap, dig, and explore Israel’s past. Discover the Dead Sea Scrolls in an ancient cave, and piece them together to reveal their meaning! Dig up the 2,000 year old Lod Mosaic, then uncover its story in a fast-paced quiz game! You’ll need skills, creativity, and smarts to become a great archaeologist and unlock all the rewards.

• Use your iPhone or iPad as an archaeological tool to brush, tap, and dig for hidden relics
• Explore an ancient cave and search for the Dead Sea Scrolls then piece 14 of them together in a challenging puzzle game
• Dig up a 2,000 year old mosaic floor and play a fast-paced quiz game in which you unlock the secrets of the mosaic
• Grow your own collection of antiquities as you master the games – try to win them all!

• 30+ levels in two unique games based on world-famous archaeological discoveries
• 50+ stunning images of real antiquities
• Amazing historical facts and artifacts
• Spoken word excerpts from the Dead Sea Scrolls
• Gabe, your host and team leader, is based on a composite of real archaeologists working in the field

Dig Quest: Israel was created by the Israel Antiquities Authority and features addictive games and puzzles based on world-famous antiquities in the National Treasures. The games in the App are designed around real discoveries and archaeological artifacts and were developed in collaboration with the IAA’s team of pre-eminent archaeologists, scholars and researchers. As they play, kids get a feel for what archaeologists do as they experience the excitement of discovery and the creativity and skills involved in solving mysteries from the distant past.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are among the oldest biblical manuscripts and are considered the greatest manuscript discovery of the 20th century.

The Lod Mosaic is one of the largest, best preserved Roman mosaics ever found and is currently touring the world with stops at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Louvre, Waddeson Manor and the Hermitage.

**FREE for iPhone and iPad

The Archaeology News Network

Iron Age cemetery found in northwestern Iran

Iranian archaeologists have discovered multiple graves belonging to the Iron Age in Meshkinshahr in Northwestern Iran. Karim Haji-Zadeh, head of the excavations, said '11 multi-storey graves' were found in the Ghizilghiyeh cemetery along with numerous artefacts such as tools, spear-heads, bronze daggers and grey pottery wares. Other items discovered in the cemetery include stone arrows, decorative beads and gold ornaments. Skeletons...

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Archaeological News on Tumblr

Jersey experts find gold necklace in 'largest Celtic hoard'

A gold necklace has been discovered by experts examining the world’s largest hoard of Celtic...

Behind Tomb Connected to Alexander the Great, Intrigue Worthy of "Game of Thrones"

Suspense is rising as archaeologists sift for clues to the identity of the person buried with pomp...

The Archaeology News Network

A look at Greece's Macedonian legacy

They were the ancient world's ultimate social climbers. In one generation, the Macedonians emerged from Greece's rustic northern fringes to rule most of the world they knew, funded by the loot of the Persian Empire. Visitors walk behind an ancient marble head of ancient Greek warrior-king Alexander the Great, displayed at the Acropolis museum in Athens, Oct. 12, 2014. Alexander the Great was one of the world's most successful military...

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

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Ancient Egyptian Mummy Wearing Jewels Found

Spanish archaeologists digging in Egypt have unearthed a female mummy still wearing her...

Papyrus, parchment and paper in old Istanbul

The “Sahaflar” (used books) Bazaar, nestled in the shadow of Beyazıt Mosque, has a long and for...

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

How to Treat the Bible

Neither the Bible nor God is well served

The quote from Gregory C. Jenks comes from an article on the Progressive Christianity website, written back in 2011, “Taking the Bible Seriously but Not Literally.” Click through to read it.

Neither the Bible nor God is well served by any tactics that seek to protect the Bible from scrutiny.

We must, therefore, resist any temptation to treat our sacred texts differently than the way we treat other people’s sacred texts. Legend and self-serving fiction are to be found in the Bible just as surely as they are in the sacred traditions of other communities. Ancient texts, and indeed all written texts, are ambiguous preparations for an act of communication that will necessarily be driven and controlled by the reader (rather than the author). This dynamic needs to be embraced, not ignored. It cannot be obscured by an appeal to divine inspiration.

David Gill (Looting Matters)

The Steinhardt Sardinian Figure and the Medici Dossier

Sardinian figure from the Medici Dossier.
Source: Christos Tsirogiannis / ARCA
Glasgow-based researcher Dr Christos Tsirogiannis has suggested that a Sardinian figure due to be auctioned at Christie's (December 11, 2014, lot 85) is linked to the Medici Dossier of polaroid photographs. The estimate is $800,000-$1,200,000.

The upper part of the head has been damaged in the Polaroid photograph, although no comments about restoration are made in the lot notes.

The figure is the stated as coming from the Michael and Judy Steinhardt Collection. Its earlier collecting history is stated as:
  • Harmon Fine Arts, New York. 
  • The Merrin Gallery, New York, 1990 (Masterpieces of Cycladic Art from Private Collections, Museums and the Merrin Gallery, no. 27). 
  • Acquired by the current owner, 1997.
The due diligence search will no doubt have alerted the staff at Christie's and the agency they used to possible concerns. So, for example, was Harmon linked to some of the fragmentary Cycladic figures derived from the 'Keros Haul'?

The Merrin Gallery is linked to Roman bronze known as 'The Merrin Zeus' that was returned to Italy. Only last year there were issues about the sale of the Symes Pan at Christie's. And the marble statues of the Dioskouroi on loan to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art were handled by the same gallery. We also recall that pots in the Borowski collection were derived from Merrin. (For a review of the Merrin Cycladic exhibition in the New York Times see here with a mention of the Sardinian figure.)

Then there is Steinhardt as a collector of such things as a gold phiale that has been returned to Sicily. What about the alleged link with the tomb painting from Paestum seized at a North American airport? Steinhardt has been associated with Cycladic figures. Steinhardt is also linked to Christie's where he is listed as a member of the Advisory Board.

Yet is there more information about the Sardinian figure? Suzan Mazur discussed the exhibition at the Merrin Gallery back in 2006 ('Merrin Gallery In Italy's Antiquities Dragnet?'). She noted:
[Leonard] Stern owned 10 Cycladic marbles and loaned all of them to Merrin for the show: Six Spedos pieces; a Dokathismata female (2400-2300 BC); the Anatolian "Stargazer" (3000-2500 BC) worth $1 millon and previously belonging to Nelson Rockefeller; a Sardinian female figure from the Ozieri culture (2000 BC); and a Cycladic female (2800-2700 BC) said to be from the same source as the Met's Cycladic "Harp Player". The Harp Player is a fake -- according to Met Ancient Near East expert Oscar White Muscarella. 
The collection was housed at the time in Stern's Fifth Avenue townhouse aka Harmon Fine Arts Gallery, which did "sizeable transactions" in antiquities Stern told me in a phone call. Stern's secretary, warned me the address was not for publication and she said Stern used a second gallery when he needed additional space.
So is the appearance of 'Harmon Fine Art' in the Christie's catalogue an alternative to stating 'Leonard Stern'? Was the figure only exhibited with Merrin? (For Stern as a collector see 'Dynasty in Distress', Bloomberg.)

So if Mazur is right, and Leonard N. Stern was the former owner, where did Stern acquire the figure?

And who purchased the figure from Medici?

Christie's would be wise to re-investigate the collecting history of the figure as a matter of urgency. Have they contacted the Italian authorities?

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Secrets of the Staffordshire Hoard: Skills of the Saxon smiths revealed

The Staffordshire Hoard is a glittering reminder of the creative talents of the Anglo-Saxons – but...

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Focus on UK Metal Detecting: The Farmer Never Gets to see the Good Stuff

On a metal detecting forum near you, member "Frogeye" announces (Tue Dec 17, 2013 9:25 pm)  that he's just made a 'Frameless display for the landowner' in which he's mounted some finds which he's taken from his fields over the years to thank him for the loot.Several members congratulate him. "Alfaowner" is more candid (Tue Dec 17, 2013 10:05 pm): 
That's a very nice gesture mate .. that looks very good .... I know a few detectorists that do the same sort of thing for their farmers / landowners but only ever put in the display case the finds they are happy to give away, the farmer never get to see the good stuff. Nice one mate.
Instead of "give away" he should of course have said "give back" and taking "the good stuff" away without getting transfer of ownership confirmed is laying oneself open to accusations of theft.

Ausstellung "Kriminalarchäologie" and the discussion on ISIL-funding

According to Christian Frey introducing the temporary exhibition "Kriminalarchäologie",  in Frankfurt airport , the trade in Middle Eastern antiquities "gehört zu den wichtigsten Einnahmequellen der IS-Milizen" ('Westliche Antiken-Käufer finanzieren Messer des IS', Die Welt, 18 Nov 2014). The article is full of emotive soundbites like that, but this is journalism written by a journalist quoting interviews and written to make a point rather than a peer-reviewed article in a scientific journal. Even so, we can expect the "Second or fifth biggest?" discussion to briefly open up again to try and dodge the main questions this article raises (more so that we get another journalistic attention-grabbing trope appearing, the annual value of the illicit antiquities trade, the journalist writes is "im mehrstelligen Milliarden-Dollar-Bereich", then we get the Mohammad-Atta-in-Hamburg / antiquities story).

The article then introduces the embattled Michael Müller-Karpe who, among other things, makes a statement that seems worth checking out:   
Das Überangebot an Hehlerware aus dem Nahen Osten habe teilweise schon zu Preiseinbrüchen auf den Kunstmärkten geführt. Der Marktwert wirklich außergewöhnlicher Stücke steige hingegen ungebrochen, sagt Müller-Karpe.
If this is what is happening, it would counter the 'fairy holes' arguments of the dealers who insist the material is not reaching the bits of the market which they know about. Are prices of the 'mass' small objects of this type dropping? 
Die Ausstellung zeichnet eindrucksvoll die Wertschöpfungskette nach, die Plünderer und Käufer verbindet. Da sind zunächst die kleinen Antikendealer, die den Kontakt zu den Raubgräbern halten. Von dort wandern die minderwertigen Stücke zu den Straßenhändlern in den Touristikzentren. Die wertvolleren Funde finden bald ihren Weg in die prächtigen Verkaufsgalerien im Genfer Zollfreilager oder in Dubai, bis sie schließlich beim vornehmen Inhaber erlesener Repräsentanzen auf Antikenmessen oder dem renommierten Auktionator landen, der die illegale Herkunft der heißen Ware billigend in Kauf nimmt. Die Käufer schließlich halten sich für Liebhaber der antiken Kunst. Tatsächlich handeln sie oft genug aus Sammelwut oder kühlem Erwerbsgeist. Denn antike Kunstwerke gelten als sichere Anlageobjekte mit überdurchschnittlicher Wertsteigerung. Dass die Raubgrabungen mittlerweile ganze Ruinenstätten zerstört haben, wird dabei gern übersehen. Denn nicht die Stücke selbst sind Zeugnisse der Vergangenheit, sondern die Fundzusammenhänge. Reißt man ein Stück aus dem Boden, zerstört man ein ganzes Archiv.

UN Monitoring Team Recommends Moratorium on Some Middle Eastern Antiquities

The report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team established pursuant to resolution 1526 (2004) on the threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and the Al-Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant, which was submitted to the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999) and 1989 (2011) concerning Al-Qaida and associated individuals and entities,  recommends a world-wide moratorium on antiquities from Syria and Iraq (Antiquities are third in position in their list, pp 23-4 "this is a growing but not a new risk").
Although the looting and sale of antiquities is a known risk, it is very difficult to reliably estimate the amount of money that ISIL raises through this activity, and the Monitoring Team has not received officially confirmed information pointing to a particular sale that was clearly ISIL - related. Furthermore, there is a risk that local dealers will stockpile the artefacts until the world is no longer focused on this issue. On this basis, the Monitoring Team recommends a preventative approach.
On page 27 the funding of the Al - Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant is discussed:
The finances of ANF are much more opaque than those of ISIL and there is very little information available in open sources [...]. There are indications that ANF may be extracting or seeking to generate revenue from antiquities smuggling. Given the Syrian Arab Republic’s rich cultural heritage, and assuming that ANF requires continuing income to secure essential supplies, any move to contain such revenue would be highly valuable.
So, page 32:
Recommendation six: The Monitoring Team, noting that ANF and ISIL may generate revenue from the smuggling and sale of antiquities illegally taken from the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic or Iraq, recommends that the Chair request the Security Council to mandate a world - wide moratorium on the trading of antiquities from the Syrian Arab Republic or Iraq since the passing of resolution 2170 (2014) that lack clear, certified provenance. Although such a moratorium would not eliminate the criminal market for smuggled antiquities, this ban should disrupt the market for antiquities from the Syrian Arab Republic and build on prior Security Council measures [Security Council Resolution 1483 (2003), para 7] in the case of Iraq, depressing potential ANF and ISIL revenues.
Note all that is required for the trade to continue under the ban is that objects have a collecting history - which is what they should all jolly well have anyway. Here however items documented as being out of Syria before  passing of UNSC Resolution 2170 (15 August 2014) Condemning Gross, Widespread Abuse of Human Rights by Extremist Groups in Iraq, Syria are treated as being kosher from the point of view of thee measures, whether they are in terms of other concerns is another matter. 

Jim Davila (

Newsom, Daniel

Daniel (Book)
A Commentary

by Carol A. Newsom

ISBN: 9780664220808
Trim Size: 5.875 x 8.75
Page Count: 472
Weight: 0.00

Format: Book
Product Number: 0664220800
Publication Date: 11/14/2014


The book of Daniel is a literary rich and complex story known for its apocalyptic style. Written in both Hebrew and Aramaic, the book begins with stories of Daniel and three Jewish young men Hananiah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meshach), and Azariah (Abednego) who are exiles among the remnant from Judea in Babylon in sixth century b.c.e. It ends with Daniel's visions and dreams about the Jewish community that offer comfort and encouragement as they endure persecution and hope for deliverance into God's kingdom.

Newsom's commentary offers a fresh study of Daniel in its historical context. Newsom further analyzes Daniel from literary and theological perspectives. With her expert commentary, Newsom's study will be the definitive commentary on Daniel for many years to come.

The Old Testament Library provides fresh and authoritative treatments of important aspects of Old Testament study through commentaries and general surveys. The contributors are scholars of international standing. The editorial board consists of William P. Brown, Professor of Old Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia; Carol A. Newsom, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Old Testament, Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia; and Brent A. Strawn, Professor of Old Testament, Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.
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Samuel Hardy (Conflict Antiquities)

UNSC Monitoring Team recommendation: moratorium on trade in undocumented antiquities from Syria or Iraq

Peter Campbell (@peterbcampbell) has broken the news that, in a Letter (1) to the Chair of the United Nations Security Council Committee on Al-Qaida and Associated Individuals and Entities, the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team has recommended ‘a world-wide moratorium on the trading of antiquities from the Syrian Arab Republic or Iraq since the […]

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Dealer Ulrich Künker: "this is all made up by archeologists"

In Jeff Starck's article 'Archaeologist in Germany claims auction houses support terrorism', Coin World 19th November 2014 we read an interesting bit:
Ulrich Künker, who operates another large German auction firm,  Fritz Rudolph Künker, told Coin World via email that he was “shocked how unprofessional and how shortminded the main German TV channel is following the opinion of one (!) archeologist,” referring to Müller-Karpe. Though Künker is not at the center of the story, Ulrich Künker questioned the report, noting that ISIS has been active mostly during the past one year. “The companies involved are in business for 40 and more years. How did they do business before? It is common knowledge that the IS [owns] oil-fields. Who is buying the oil? Is this criminal as well? ... I just do not see those guys digging for cultural objects in the desert. I think they have other business to deal with,” he said. “In my eyes, this is all made up by archeologists”.
So Mr Künker thinks it might still be legal for him to fill his tank with smuggled black market oil from the ISIL oilfields to travel from one coin show to another? Would he know where to get some maybe? I do not think there is "just one" it is one archaeologist who is warning about where the funds raised by the trade in illicit antiquities are in all probability going. Mr Künker may try to deny it even possible . Likewise that ISIL may raise finds by turning commodities into cash on market X does not mean that market X has always and exclusively been supplied by ISIL, does it? What a stupid argument.

As for whether the whole thing is "made up by archaeologists", I suggest he spend a while looking at the satellite photo evidence of all those holes in sites like Dura Europos and Mari  and I'd be interested to hear what alternative explanation he comes up with. Like maybe calling on the help of the 'coin fairies' to explain them.

An additional point, is it archaeologists who have to explain how the global antiquities market works, or is it antiquities dealers? If Firm XYZ has been in legitimate business "for 40 and more years", then they'll have very good contact with suppliers and experts on the ground in the areas where their artefacts come from.How is it that the dealers are not offering any information at all about this, simply reacting to what others observe (denying that anything of the kind is going on)?

Hat tip to Sam Hardy for drawing my attention to the quote

David Stuart (Maya Decipherment)

Early Classic Co-Rulers on Tikal Temple VI

by Simon Martin, University of Pennsylvania Museum

The oversized inscription that runs down the back and sides of Tikal Temple VI—featuring the largest glyphs in the Maya world—presents many problems of interpretation, although most of them a simple consequence of its highly dilapidated condition (Figure 1). Three studies have established key details of its chronology and subject matter (Berlin 1951; Jones 1977:53-55; Stuart 2007a), but a number of problematic areas remain. Photographs and field drawings dating to 1965, now held in the Tikal Archive at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, offer an important resource for further investigation. I rely on these materials to examine a single extended passage that runs from C13-D19, a section that refers to a fascinating period in the dynastic governance of Tikal (Figure 2).(1)

Figure 1. Tikal Temple VI, back of roof comb (Photograph by Jorge Pérez de Lara)

Figure 1. Tikal Temple VI, back of roof comb (Photograph by Jorge Pérez de Lara)

Figure 2. The Period Ending, Tikal Temple VI (C13-D19): a) Photographs by Gordon Echols b) Drawing by William R. Coe.

Figure 2. The Period Ending, Tikal Temple VI (C13-D19): a) Photographs by Gordon Echols b) Drawing by William R. Coe.

The passage begins with the Calendar Round position 13 Ahau 18 Yax, which equates to the Period Ending from 514 CE (Satterthwaite and Jones 1965). This placement is confirmed by the following pair of glyphs: u-4-WINIKHAAB uchan winikhaab “(it is the) fourth K’atun” and the verb K’AL-TUUN-ni k’altuun “(it is) a stone raising/presenting”.(2) Next, at C15, we find yi-chi-NAL for yichonal “before, in the sight of,” a term with the general sense of “oversight” (Stuart 1997:10; Houston and Taube 2000:287-289; Stone and Zender 2011:59). Where calendrical ceremonies are concerned this oversight role is almost invariably assigned to a deity. In this case it is a character called SAK-HIX-MUUT “White Jaguar Bird,” whose battered but recognizable name appears at D15. This was a special deep-time patron of the Tikal dynasty who constitutes the focus of the Temple VI inscription (Martin and Grube 2000:50; Stuart 2007a). Repeating a formula seen in several other portions of this text, ceremonies are further supervised by a human agent introduced by means of the u-KAB/CHAB-ji-ya ukabjiiy/uchabjiiy term. Though much degraded by years of exposure to the elements the sign at C16 shows the nose of the anthropomorphic version of KAB/CHAB, the standard form used on Temple VI.

The personal name of this agent, seen at D16, is by any standards highly eroded. However, by comparing photographs taken in daylight with others shot at night under raking artificial light the outlines of an initial female agentive IX can be discerned (Figure 3a, b). The rest of the block consists of two signs, neither of which is truly legible today. Nevertheless, the IX prefix is enough to suggest that we have here the so-called Lady of Tikal, who was the incumbent ruler at the turn of in 514, having come to the throne at the age of just six years old in 511 (Martin 1999, 2003:18-21).

Figure 3. The celebrant of the Period Ending, Tikal Temple VI (D16): a) Photograph by Gordon Echols; b) Drawing by the author.

Figure 3. The celebrant of the Period Ending, Tikal Temple VI (D16): a) Photograph by Gordon Echols; b) Drawing by the author.

Figure 4. The names of the Lady of Tikal: a) Tikal Stela 23 (C4); Tikal Stela 23 (B6); Tikal Stela 12 (B6) (drawings by the author).

Figure 4. The names of the Lady of Tikal: a) Tikal Stela 23 (C4); Tikal Stela 23 (B6); Tikal Stela 12 (B6) (drawings by the author).

She bore two distinct names. The first is a childhood moniker associated with the record of her birth in 504 (Figure 4a). This features MUT, the well-known toponym of Tikal, as well as AJAW “lord/ruler.” However, it differs from a conventional emblem glyph by the inclusion of a twisted cord glyph of unknown value (see Stuart 2005:28-29). The same sign turns up as a prefix to the Tikal emblem MUT-AJAW on Stela 15 (B5) (Jones and Satterthwaite 1982:Fig.21a) and again, perhaps more significantly, with IX and MUT on Stela 26 (zB9) (Jones and Satterthwaite 1982:Fig.44a), this time in the name of a patron goddess.

The accession phrase for the Lady of Tikal survives only in part on Stela 23 (Figure 4b). The verb is surely the same form as that found on Tikal Stela 31 (E10) (Jones and Satterthwaite 1982:Fig.52b), which either features an early version of the bird-head JOY “wrapped, encircled” joined to ti-AJAW “into lord(ship),” or, alternatively, an attenuated version in which the bird-head lacking its usual “toothache” wrap serves only as ti and ti ajaw(il) stands in place of the proper sequence johyaj ti ajawil. The adjoining sign on Stela 23 includes a crosshatched forelock that makes clear that the Lady of Tikal is its subject.

To follow her later career we must turn to other monuments, especially Stela 6, where she celebrated the aforementioned period ending, and the better-preserved Stela 12, where she marked in 527 (Jones and Satterthwaite 1982:Fig.9, 10, 17, 18). Both of these identify her by means of a regnal name with two parts: a vegetal sign that looks very much like UUN “avocado” and another whose portrait version closely resembles K’IN/K’INICH “sun/radiant” (see Zender 2004:335) (Figure 4c).(3) The former usually has a slanted, upward orientation, which is reminiscent of the strangely pointed head on Stela 23, as if that sign has been conflated with IX in this instance (Figure 4b).

Returning to Temple VI, for the rest of this passage we must cross down from Panel W to Panel X, where the text continues uninterrupted. Very little of this section now survives, but we can surmise that it once included further names or titles for the queen. The best-preserved glyph comes at C19, where we see an old man’s head distinguished by its underbite, snaggletooth, and stingray spine piercing the nose (Figure 5a, b).(4) These attributes identify the Stingray Paddler, one of a pair of Charon-like deities that propel a canoe carrying the Maize God across a primeval body of water (Mathews 2001[1979]:399, Fig.40.4; Stuart 1984:11; Schele 1987) (Figure 6a-c). The name of this ferryman is undeciphered, but both here and elsewhere it bears a ti phonetic complement and must therefore end in –t (see Figure 6c).

Figure 5. The Stingray Paddler on Tikal Temple VI (C19): a) Photograph by Gordon Echols; b) Drawing by the author.

Figure 5. The Stingray Paddler on Tikal Temple VI (C19): a) Photograph by Gordon Echols; b) Drawing by the author.

Figure 6. The name of the Stingray Paddler: a) Quirigua Stela C (B8); Dos Pilas Stela 8 (G18); c) Ixlu Altar 1 (C4) (drawings by the author, 6b after Ian Graham).

Figure 6. The name of the Stingray Paddler: a) Quirigua Stela C (B8); Dos Pilas Stela 8 (G18); c) Ixlu Altar 1 (C4) (drawings by the author, 6b after Ian Graham).

At first sight, we might assume that the role of the Stingray Paddler here is the familiar one in which both Paddler deities are said to “oversee” a period ending ceremony. However, this is not repeated for other such events in the Temple VI text and, more to the point, oversight of this particular ceremony has already been assigned to the Sak Hix Muut character. We should therefore seek an alternative explanation. Notably, the Stingray Paddler name plays a part in the moniker of the Lady of Tikal’s male co-ruler, an older consort or guardian that I have earlier nicknamed Kaloomte’ Bahlam (Martin 1999:5; 2003:20). His personal appellative can be recognized in three Tikal inscriptions (Figure 7a-c).

Figure 7. The names of Kaloomte’ Bahlam: a) Tikal Stela 12 (D5); Tikal Miscellaneous Text 11 (yA); Tikal Stela 10 (C7-D7) (drawings by the author).

Figure 7. The names of Kaloomte’ Bahlam: a) Tikal Stela 12 (D5); Tikal Miscellaneous Text 11 (yA); Tikal Stela 10 (C7-D7) (drawings by the author).

Here the Stingray Paddler is usually conflated with, and somewhat overshadowed by, BAHLAM “jaguar.” Additionally, there are elements resembling those of MAM “grandfather/ancestor” (Stuart 2007b), including a forehead dot that we also see on the glyph at C19 on Temple VI. It is not entirely clear if this is part of the aged identity of the Stingray Paddler—a type of “carrier” sign—or whether it takes an independent role, presumably as a title signaling the advanced years of the bearer. Helpfully, Stela 10 shows the MAM-style head in second position (Figure 7c), offering some constraint to the reading order, but erosion prevents us from seeing if the diagnostic nose-spine appeared there or on the preceding jaguar head. Stephen Houston points out that a further element on the Stela 12 example, an upward pointing “serpent nose,” is that associated with the Central Mexican fire deity xiuhcoatl (Figure 7a). In Early Classic Maya script this is carried by the sun god K’INICH (AJAW)—especially at Tikal—and it is possible that this is a further part of his name, although perhaps an optional one.

A formula in which the Lady of Tikal conducts a Period Ending while Kaloomte’ Bahlam appears in some secondary context is mirrored on Stela 12 (Jones and Satterthwaite 1982:Fig.17, 18). The rear face of that stone details her ritual acts and genealogy (the latter now sadly broken away), while its left side describes the monument itself as his possession—a point emphasized by the male portrait carved on its front. The left side further tells us that Kaloomte’ Bahlam was counted as Tikal’s 19th king, placing him as the next male ruler after Chak Tok Ich’aak II, who had died in 508.(5) Taking these clues together, we can infer that the Lady of Tikal was a queen by right of descent from an earlier king—presumably Chak Tok Ich’aak II—whereas Kaloomte’ Bahlam probably gained his position only via his association with her. The simplest explanation is that they were a married couple, even though the age difference between them may have been considerable (Stela 10 suggests that Kaloomte’ Bahlam was militarily active as early as 486). The partially surviving sign at C18 on Temple VI seems to be a possessed noun of some kind and could define the relationship between them. The destroyed block at D18 offers room to complete the name of Kaloomte’ Bahlam, while D19 may be the beginning of a new Distance Number.

Exactly when he assumed his kingly office is unclear. A different male, a bearer of the noble ti’huun epithet who used the same personal name as the later king Animal Skull, was another close associate of the Lady of Tikal. Depicted on Stela 8, he may have been the guardian of her early reign (see Zender 2004:333-338). Clarifications of her relationships were doubtless once supplied on other monuments from this period, most of which are now in a sorry state of preservation. An important inauguration statement on one of them, Stela 10, concludes with the plural suffix –taak, apparently directly after an ajaw title, as if to mark the ascent of more than one character. Complicating matters, the badly effaced date of this accession does not seem to match the one cited on Stela 23 for the Lady of Tikal. Much remains to be learned here.

Despite the unconventional nature of a female monarch this does not appear to be a period of significant weakness for the kingdom and the Lady of Tikal might even be credited with foreign influence, possibly presiding over a lesser ruler at Tamarindito in 534.(6) We do not know the length of her tenure, but it is assumed that she was out of office by the time the 21st Tikal king “arrived” at the city in 537 (Martin 2003:23).(7) At that point she would still have been only 33 years old. That her reign was memorialized on Temple VI, over two centuries after the fact, confirms that there was nothing illegitimate about her status or that of the co-rulership arrangement in general. While no mention of building activities are made in this passage, the unexplained insertion of these two characters into the narrative could imply that an earlier version of Temple VI was built under their direction (Stuart 2007a; Martin, forthcoming).


My thanks go to Stephen Houston and Marc Zender for helpful comments on a draft of this posting and Jorge Pérez de Lara for supplying the image used in Figure 1. I also wish to acknowledge Philippe Galeev, whose own investigations and queries about the Temple VI text provoked my return to the monument, and an informative correspondence with Dmitri Beliaev based on his work with the Atlas Epigráfico de Petén project.


(1) For the complete inscription, as drawn by William Coe, see Jones 1977:Fig.9, 18, 19 or, in its proper architectural context, Miller 1986:Fig.42a, b.

(2) Marc Zender suggested the nominalized form of k’altuun used here.

(3) Versions of both the childhood and regnal names for the Lady of Tikal appear in their expected temporal sequence on an unpublished stela Vilma Fialko excavated at Tres Cabezas, a site in the periphery of Tikal. This again recounts the queen’s completion of the Period Ending of 514.

(4) My thanks go to Dmitri Beliaev for checking this observation with the collection of photographs he took in 2014 in collaboration with Oswaldo Gómez of IDAEH and a complete re-documentation of the Temple VI inscription under the auspices of the Atlas Epigráfico de Petén.

(5) To judge from evidence elsewhere queens were omitted from official dynastic counts. David Stuart (pers. comm. 1999) noted the death-date for Chak Tok Ich’aak II on Tonina M.160 (Graham et al. 2006).

(6) Tamarindito Stela 2 (Gronemeyer 2013:Pl.5) records the Period Ending performed by a local king who appears to be supervised by someone bearing the distinctive name of the Tikal founder YAX-EHB-(XOOK) superimposed with the female agentive IX.

(7) At some point we must account for the missing 20th Tikal king, though it is quite possible that he was a further spouse or guardian of the queen in the later part of her reign.

Sources Cited

Berlin, Heinrich. 1951. El Templo de las inscripciones—VI de Tikal. Antropología e Historia de Guatemala 3(1):33-54.

Graham, Ian, Lucia R. Henderson, Peter Mathews, and David Stuart. 2006. Corpus of Maya Hieroglyphic Inscriptions, Vol. 9, Part 2: Tonina. Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Gronemeyer, Sven. 2013. Monuments and Inscriptions of Tamarindito, Peten, Guatemala. Acta Mesoamericana 25. Verlag Anton Saurwein, Markt Schwaben.

Houston, Stephen, and Karl Taube. 2000. An Archaeology of the Senses: Perception and Cultural Expression in Ancient Mesoamerica. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 10(2):261-294.

Jones, Christopher. 1977. Inauguration dates of three Late Classic rulers of Tikal, Guatemala. American Antiquity 42:28-60.

Jones, Christopher, and Linton Satterthwaite. 1982. The Monuments and Inscriptions of Tikal: The Carved Monuments. Tikal Report No.33, Part A. University Museum Monograph 44. The University Museum, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Martin, Simon. 1999. The Queen of Middle Classic Tikal. In Pre-Columbian Art Research Newsletter 27:4-5. Pre-Columbian Art Research Institute, San Francisco.

__________. 2003. In Line of the Founder: A View of Dynastic Politics at Tikal. In Tikal: Dynasties, Foreigners, and Affairs of State, edited by Jeremy A. Sabloff, pp. 3-45. School of American Research Advanced Seminar Series, School of American Research Press and James Curry, Santa Fe and Oxford.

__________. Forthcoming. The Dedication of Tikal Temple VI: A Revised Chronology. In The PARI Journal.

Martin, Simon, and Nikolai Grube. 2000. Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens: Deciphering the Dynasties of the Ancient Maya. Thames and Hudson, London and New York.

Mathews, Peter. 2001[1979]. Notes on the Inscriptions on the Back of Dos Pilas Stela 8. In The Decipherment of Ancient Maya Writing, edited by Stephen Houston, Oswaldo Chinchilla Mazariegos, and David Stuart, pp.394-415. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman.

Miller, Arthur G. 1986. Maya Rulers of Time: A Study of Architectural Sculpture at Tikal, Guatemala. The University Museum, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Satterthwaite, Linton, and Christopher Jones. 1965. Memoranda on the Text of Structure 6F-27 at Tikal (“Temple of the Inscriptions,” “Temple VI”). Unpublished manuscript in the Tikal Project Archive, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia.

Schele, Linda. 1987. New Data on the Paddlers from Butz’-Chan of Copán. Copán Note 29. Copan Mosaics Project and Instituto Hondureño de Antropologia e Historia.

Stone, Andrea, and Marc Uwe Zender. 2010. Reading Maya Art. Thames and Hudson, London.

Stuart, David. 1984. Royal Auto-sacrifice among the Maya: A Study of Image and Meaning. Res: Anthropology and Aesthetics 7/8:6-20.

_________. 1997. Kinship Terms in Mayan Inscriptions. In The Language of Maya Hieroglyphs, edited by Martha J. Macri and Anabel Ford, pp. 1-11. Pre-Columbian Art Research Institute, San Francisco.

_________. 2005. The Inscriptions from Temple XIX at Palenque: A Commentary. Pre-Columbian Art Research Institute, San Francisco.

_________. 2007a. “White Owl Jaguar”: A Tikal Royal Ancestor. Maya Decipherment:

_________. 2007b. The Maya Hieroglyphs for Mam, “Grandfather, Grandson, Ancestor”.

Zender, Marc Uwe. 2004 A Study of Classic Maya Priesthood. PhD thesis, University of Calgary.

The Homer Multitext

Greek and Latin in an Age of Open Data

We're pleased to announce that the Homer Multitext project will be presenting two papers at the "Greek and Latin in an Age of Open Data" conference hosted by the Open Philology Project at the University of Leipzig, December 1-4. You can read our papers "A Redefinition of Classical Scholarship" and "Open Access and the Practicality of Citizen Scholarship" from the conference program.

November 21, 2014

Ancient Art

Mirrors of the ancient world.  These mirrors would have once...

Mirrors of the ancient world. 

These mirrors would have once been highly polished in order to provide a good reflection.

The 1st shown is Classical Greek (ca. 460 BC): Caryatid Mirror with Aphrodite. The central female figure serves as the ‘caryatid’ (human support) for the mirror. This graceful figure’s simple drapery is characteristic of the Early Classical style’s “quite elegance.” Also present are winged Eros figures (representing the god of love), which suggests that this female is perhaps Aphrodite, or a bride. Courtesy of the Walters Art Museum, via their online collections54.769.

Shown next is a silver Roman mirror, dating to the Early Imperial period (1st century AD). The name of the owner, Iris, is inscribed on the back. Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, via their online collections07.286.127.

The 3rd mirror is Etruscan, made of bronze, and dates to ca. 250-200 BC. Depicted here is likely the Dioskouroi with either Aphrodite or Helen and Minerva. It is certainly worth zooming into the photograph to observe the detail of the mirror (which you can do so easier here). Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, via their online collectionsX.21.86.

The final mirror selected is Egyptian, made of silver and copper alloy, and is the oldest mirror shown, dating to ca. 1478-1390 BC. The hairstyle of the female was popular during the middle 18th Dynasty. Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum, via their online collections37.635E.

Archaeology Magazine

A Magic Spell Book from Ancient Egypt

egypt-magic-spells-deciphered-invocationsSYDNEY, AUSTRALIA—A mysterious ancient Egyptian parchment codex that has been in the collection of Macquarie University in Australia for more than three decades has finally been deciphered and found to contain a series of invocations and spells. The book, which likely dates to the seventh or eighth century A.D. and is written in the Egyptian language called Coptic contains a variety of spells—some love spells, some to exorcise evil spirits, and others to treat infections. As to who would have used these spells, lead researcher Malcolm Choat told Livescience, "It is my sense that there were ritual practitioners outside the ranks of the clergy and monks, but exactly who they were is shielded from us by the fact that people didn't really want to belabeled as a "magician.” To read about all kinds of ancient magic, see ARCHAEOLOGY’S “When Spells Worked Magic.”

Thibaut Castelli (Spartokos a Lu)

Joyaux du tumulus Kul-Oba au Musée historique

D.V.Zhuravlev, E.Ju.Novikova, M.S.Shemahanskaja (2014) : Ювелирные изделия из кургана Куль-Оба в Историческом музее. Историко-технологическое исследование : Juvelirnye izdelija iz kurgana Kul’-Oba v Istoricheskom muzee. Istoriko-tehnologicheskoe issledovanie, Moscou, [Joyaux du tumulus Kul-Oba au Musée historique. La recherche historique et technologique].

Cet ouvrage publie les objets précieux retrouvés dans le Kourgane de Koul Oba près de Kertch, l’ancienne Panticapée. Les fouilles menées à partir de 1830 par le Français Paul Du Brux  ont mené à la découverte d’une tombe scythe du IVe s. av. J.-C. L’ouvrage est composée de deux parties : la première s’intéresse à l’ensemble des découvertes conservées, au musée historique de Moscou, la seconde est le catalogue des objets venants de la tombe de Koul Oba. Outre les traditionnelles études artistiques et concernant l’attribution culturelle des artefacts, il faut relever des études concernant les technologies employées notamment à partir de données chimiques concernant les métaux utilisées.

L’ouvrage est en russe avec un petit résumé en allemand.

Les illustrations couleurs sont très nombreuses et présentent même certains détails des joyaux.




Quelques éléments biographiques sur Paul Du Brux

Archaeology Magazine

Roman Gold Mining from the Air

lidar-laser-airborne-roman-goldmining-hydraulicsLEON, SPAIN—Researchers from the University of Salamanca have discovered a sophisticated ancient Roman gold mining network in northwestern Spain’s Eria Valley, reports La Ciencia es Noticia. Using airborne lidar that allowed them to see beneath the thick vegetation and cultivated fields, the scholars have located what they consider to be the largest opencast Roman goldmine, as well as the extremely complex and sophisticated hydraulic network used to extract the gold, a technique that the Romans learned from the Egyptians who had employed hydraulic techniques in mining for hundreds of years. To read about the discovery of a hoard of Roman gold, go to ARCHAEOLOGY'S "Hoard of Roman Gold Jewlery Unearthed in Colchester.

Compitum - publications

Julien de Tolède, Opera II

Julien de Tolède, Opera II : Elogium Ildefonsi, Vita Iuliani (auctore Felice Toletano), Antikeimena, Fragmenta, Ordo annorum mundi. Édition de José Carlos Martín-Iglesias et Valeriano Yarza Urquiola, Turnhout, 2014.

Éditeur : Brepols
Collection : Corpus Christianorum Series Latina (CCSL 115A  : Praefatio, Indices / CCSL 115B : Textus)
CCSL 115 A : IV-370 pages / CCSL 115B : IV-708 pages
ISBN : CCSL 115 A : 978-2-503-55176-0 / CCSL 115B : 978-2-503-55445-7
CCSL 115 A : 225 € / CCSL 115B : 350 €


L'Elogium Ildefonsi de Julien de Tolède et la Vita Iuliani de Félix de Tolède sont deux petites notices sur la vie et la production littéraire d'Ildéphonse de Tolède (657-667) et Julien de Tolède, respectivement, rédigées comme suite du De uiris illustribus d'Ildéphonse de Tolède.
Le Liber Anticimen de Julien de Tolède est un commentaire biblique á finalité didactique consacré à l'Ancien ainsi qu'au Nouveau Testament et rédigé sous forme de questions et de réponses. L'auteur expose une apparente contradiction entre deux passages bibliques et ensuite, dans la réponse, il offre une solution en se servant des grands auteurs de l'époque patristique, notamment Augustin, Grégoire le Grand, Jérome, Origène et Isidore de Séville. Cette oeuvre a été transmise dans deux rédactions, dont la seconde est inachevée.
On a voulu attribuer à Julien de Tolède une petite chronologie qui fait le calcul des années du monde depuis la création jusqu'à la naissance du Christ dans sa première rédaction, du Ve siècle environ. Cet opuscule est bientôt arrivé en Espagne wisigothique et a connu de nouvelles rédactions du temps des rois Chintila (636-640) et Wamba (672-680). On peut reconstruire jusqu'à cinq versions différentes de cette œuvre entre le Ve et le VIIIe siècle.
Julien, évêque de Tolède (680-690), est l'auteur d'une importante production littéraire qui aborde la théologie, l'exégèse biblique, la biographie, l'histoire et la grammaire. Malheureusement, un grand nombre des oeuvres de cet auteur ont disparu : des recueils de lettres, sermons, messes, prières, poèmes d'occasion et des traités à caractère doctrinal et d'édification. Félix, évêque de Tolède (693-ca. 704) est un des derniers auteurs de l'Espagne wisigothique, connu par une notice bio-bibliographique sur Julien de Tolède.

Lire la suite...

Archaeology Magazine

How to Thrive on the Roof of the World

Agriculture-Altitude-TibetCAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND—A new study shows that 3,600 years ago farmers were raising crops and livestock at unprecedented altitudes on the Tibetan Plateau. “Until now, when and how humans started to live and farm at such extraordinary heights has remained an open question," archaeologist Martin Jones said in a University of Cambridge press release. "Our understanding of sustained habitation above 2,000 to 3,000 meters on the Tibetan Plateau has to date been hampered by the scarcity of archaeological data available." To address that gap, Jones and his colleagues studied animal bones and plant remains from 53 archaeological sites in the region. They found that the inhabitants of the Tibetan Plateau adopted a then-novel approach to agriculture and pastoralism, relying on a diversity of crops, including cold-tolerant wheat and barley, as well as sheep, cattle, and pig, to sustain year-round habitation at ever higher altitudes at the same time that the climate was getting colder. Jones thinks that study of such ancient agricultural practices can help modern societies. "The more we learn about the rich ecology of past and present societies, and the wider range of crops they raised in the world’s more challenging environments, the more options we will have for thinking through food security issues in the future.” To read more about early agriculture, see "Can Barley Tell the Tale of Civilization."

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

The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – opening section of chapter 8

(I thought that it might be interesting to see how an Arabic Christian writer of the 10th century, Eutychius, also known as Sa’id al-Bitrik, the patriarch of Alexandria, saw the events of the time of Christ.  This is from the Italian translation, via Google translate, plus a certain amount of smartening up.  I think we may all have some fun trying to recognise the names from the Arabic transcriptions!)

1. In the fourth year of the reign of Cleopatra, there reigned over the city of Rome a king named Ghābiyūs Qaysar for four years.  After him then reigned, over Rome, a king called Yūliyūs Qaysar for three years (1).  After him, there reigned in the city of Rome Awghustus Qaysar son of Mūnarkhus, in the eleventh year of the reign of Cleopatra.

Caesar Augustus extended his dominion over the world and made kings subject to him.  When Cleopatra heard of Caesar Augustus she was dismayed, and felt a great fear.  She therefore strengthened her kingdom by erecting a wall from Nubia to al-Farama (2), on the east bank of the Nile, and a wall from Nubia to Alexandria on the west bank of the Nile.  Today [that] wall is called “Hayt al-‘Ağūz” (3).  Cleopatra then lived at Alexandria in Egypt and had a lieutenant named Anthony.  Caesar Augustus heard about her and decided to subject her to his dominion.  Then Augustus learned that the Jews of Ūrashalīm had refused obedience to him, and that the kingdom of Judah had not been ruled by the family of David since the time of their deportation at the hands of Bakhtanassar.  The Jews, in fact, do not recognize anyone as their king, even today, unless he is one of the descendants of David.  At that time there was a priest descended from David, named Aristūbal, who ruled the Jews instead of a king.  Augustus sent his general named Bitiyūs (4), who laid siege to Bayt al-Maqdis [Jerusalem] and conquered it.  He bound Aristobulus, priest of the Jews, together with a group of his men, and he sent them to Rome after imposing a personal tribute on the Jews.  Then he went away from them.  Among the Jews there arose serious disorder, and they elected as priest, instead of Aristobulus, his brother called Irqān (5).  Irqān had become friends with a man of Ascalon, named Antibatrus (6).  A native of Cyprus (7), he was a servant of the temple of idols and the father of Hirūdus.

The priest Hyrcanus appointed Herod, son of Antipater, to hunt down thieves, he being a very rude man.  But some residents of the Ghawr (8) made a raid on Bayt al-Maqdis, captured the priest Hyrcanus and killed Antipater, father of Herod.  The city was thus without an administrator and headless.  Herod ingratiated himself with the Rums [Romans] who resided in Bayt al-Maqdis, and gave them great wealth, thus becoming governor and leader of Bayt al-Maqdis.  Then Herod learned that Caesar Augustus, king of Rum, was on his way to Egypt in search of Cleopatra.  He met him in ar-Ramlah (9) bringing many gifts and he made with him a covenant of friendship.  When he arrived in Egypt, Augustus had Anthony, Cleopatra’s lieutenant, killed, and he went to Alexandria in search of Cleopatra to seize her, and expose her to ignominy and show her at Rum.  When Cleopatra heard that Caesar Augustus had killed her lieutenant Anthony, and had occupied Egypt, fearing to be exposed to mockery, and preferring to die, killed herself to avoid dishonour once she had fallen into his hands.  But she called two of her handmaidens, one named Abra, who combed her hair and made her beautiful, and the other named Mitriya, who cut her nails and dressed her, and commanded them to go into the garden and bring her the snake was called bāsīlidah (10).  That done, she tried it at first on the two maids who, bitten, died instantly.  Seeing that the viper caused death swiftly, [Cleopatra] took the crown, and she put on her head, every ornament of gold and silver, gems, corundum and chrysolido she had, then put on her royal robes, took the snake and pulled it to her left breast, because she knew that the heart is on the left side.  The snake bit her and [Cleopatra] died instantly.  When Caesar Augustus saw her, he was astonished by what she had done, and the fact that she had preferred death to a life of slavery and humiliation. They say that when King Caesar Augustus went in to her, he found her with her left hand grasping the crown, as to not have it fall from the head, and found her seated on a throne.  Others have said that, she wanting to die, injured her arm with a knife, to bring out the blood, and then took some snake venom that she had with her and putting it on the wound, she died instantly.  This took place in the twelfth year of the reign of Caesar Augustus.  Thus ended the reign of Cleopatra.

To be continued…

Compitum - publications

Pierre le Vénérable, Poèmes avec le Panégyrique de Pierre de Poitiers


Pierre le Vénérable, Poèmes avec le Panégyrique de Pierre de Poitiers. Texte établi et traduit par Franz Dolveck, Paris, 2014.

Éditeur : Les Belles Lettres
Collection : Auteurs latins du Moyen Âge
512 pages
ISBN : 978-2-251-33653-4
55 €

Pierre le Vénérable, abbé de Cluny de 1122 à sa mort en 1156, fait partie des grandes figures du Moyen Âge central ; symbole de la puissance d'un ordre pourtant sur le déclin, cet homme dont il se dit qu'il pouvait se rendre de Cluny, au Sud de la Bourgogne, à Paris sans jamais quitter les terres de son abbaye compta alors par son influence dans la vie politique du royaume de France, mais aussi dans la vie de l'Eglise, aussi bien locale qu'européenne. Mais s'il reste connu aujourd'hui, c'est surtout pour son œuvre littéraire, particulièrement importante et dans l'histoire de Cluny et dans celle du XIIe siècle : sa correspondance fait, au même titre que celle de Bernard de Clairvaux, figure de modèle pour ses contemporains, et ses grands traités d'apologétique, adressés aux fidèles de l'hérétique Pierre de Bruys, aux Juifs puis aux musulmans sont un projet très original, qui a particulièrement retenu l'attention des historiens : figure d'une certaine forme de tolérance, l'abbé de Cluny s'attache toujours à ne s'appuyer que sur des arguments recevables par ses destinataires (et n'utilise donc pas, par exemple, le Nouveau Testament dans son traité aux Juifs) ; et, d'autre part, il s'attache à utiliser des sources de première main, fait dont témoigne la traduction latine du Coran qu'il fait réaliser en Espagne dans les années 1140.

Lire la suite...

Archaeology Magazine

Danish Fortress Dated to Viking Age

Viking-Fortress-DatedAARHUS, DENMARK—Radiocarbon dating of logs from the ring fortress that was unearthed in Denmark earlier this year confirm that it dates to the Viking period, sometime around the tenth century, meaning that it could have been built during the reign of King Harald Bluetooth. "We can’t say whether or not it’s Harald Bluetooth’s fortress yet, but now that we’ve dated it to the tenth century, the trail is getting hotter," medieval archaeologist Søren Sindbæk told Aarhus University News. "The things we’ve discovered about the fortress during the excavations all point in the same direction. We already know that there’s a good chance that we’ll find conclusive evidence next year.” Sindbæk notes that Harald Bluetooth oversaw the construction of three known fortresses in Denmark, and that their dimensions and the structure of their ramparts and gates are very similar to those of the newly discovered stronghold. "It’s hard to avoid the sense that the same master builder was responsible,” says Sindbæk. To read more about this era in Scandinavian history, see "The First Vikings."

Ancient Peoples

Terracotta Oinochoe  c.420-410 BC Classical Greek The scene...

Terracotta Oinochoe 

c.420-410 BC

Classical Greek

The scene depicts two women in festive dress perfuming garments. A stool suspended by chords is piled with folded clothing. On the ground below, there is a pile of wood shavings and twigs from which smoke rises. One woman carefully empties an oinochoe onto the fire. The other woman surveys the “swing” and stands beside a stately chair with a footstool over which more clothes are slung. At the far left is a wreathed boy wearing a himation (cloak). The shape of the vase facilitates the association of the scene with the Anthesteria, a three-day festival held in January/February that celebrated the new wine with the special inclusion of young children, an epiphany of Dionysos, and the ritual marriage of the god with the basilinna, the wife of the chief archon of Athens. While the precise meaning of the scene is not understood, it is evident that the Meidias Painter has melded significant features of the festival into a beautiful tableau.

(Source: The Met Museum)

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)


I’m traveling today to San Diego for the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature. I have scheduled some posts to appear during this period, and also hope to blog about the conference while there. But I thought I should mention my travels, both as prelude to such posts, and as explanation of why I may not chime in with comments as quickly or as frequently as I usually try to.



Open Access Archaeology

Open Access Archaeology Digest #609

Open Access (free to read) Archaeology articles:

Il “castrum” di San Salvatore (Bernalda, Mt) Indagine archeologica di emergenza .

Personal ornaments in Thai prehistory: some preliminary observations from Nong Nor, Central Thailand

[LATER PREHISTORY IN SOUTHEAST ASIA AND EARLIEST CONTACTS WITH INDIA] In search of Suvarnabhumi: early sailing networks in the Bay of Bengal

Learn more about Open Access and Archaeology at:

The Archaeology News Network

Egyptian mummy wearing jewellery found

Spanish archaeologists digging in Egypt have unearthed a female mummy still wearing her jewels. The mummy was discovered in the necropolis below the temple of Pharaoh Thutmosis III (1490-1436 B.C.), on the west bank of the Nile in Luxor (southern Egypt). The find dates to the Middle Kingdom (2137-1781 B.C.). The damaged female mummy is seen wearing golden bracelets [Credit: Manuel González  Bustos/Thutmosis III Temple Project]For...

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American Philological Association

New Orleans Meeting Updates

We have published an announcement of the seminar (entitled Ancient Literacy Reprised) that will take place on Friday, January 9.  As described in the announcement, advance registration is required.

In addition, we have updated the Preliminary Program of the meeting.  Because a few sessions had to be moved to different time slots, the numbers of many sessions have been changed. 


Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Some Open Access Articles from Chronique d'Égypte

 [First posted in AWOL 5 January 2011, updated 21 November 2014]

The website of Chronique d'Égypte (ISSN 0009-6067) includes links to a set of open access articles:
[The following articles are no longer on the official website but remain accessible at the Internet Archive links below]
Quelques contributions récentes sont disponibles ici en version pdf:
·  Herman De Meulenaere, Sculptures dorées d'Abydos (2004) - version pdf
·  Jean Bingen, Herman De Meulenaere, Luc Limme et Alain Martin, Arpag Mekhitarian (1911-2004) (2005) - version pdf
·  Alain Martin et Marguerite Rassart-Debergh, Tissus coptes des Musées Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire de Bruxelles (don Demulling) (2005) - version pdf
·  Jean Bingen, Le contrat de nourrice P.S.A. Athen. 20 = C.P.Gr. I 26 (110 p.C.) (2006) - version pdf
·  Georges Nachtergael, À propos d'une épitaphe chrétienne d'Égypte et des graphies du nom Hèrakleidès (2006) - version pdf
·  Alain Martin, Dix ampoules de saint Ménas aux Musées Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire (2006) - version pdf
·  Marie-Paule Vanlathem, L'iconographie des bronzes du dieu Néferhotep (2007) - version pdf
·  Jean Bingen, P.S.A. Athen. 9 + 13 et le dioecète Dioskouridès (2007) - version pdf
·  Georges Nachtergael, De quelques comptes d'un grand domaine de Haute-Égypte au IIe siècle p.C. (2007) - version pdf
·  Égypte chrétienne - Livres (2007) - version pdf

Kristina Killgrove (Powered by Osteons)

Who needs an osteologist? (Installment 21)

One of my undergraduates pointed out today a Twitter post by Kathy Reichs, the author, of course, of the Temperance Brennan book series on which the TV show Bones is based.*  Reichs' post is a throwback Thursday picture of her working in the lab at the LSJML in Montreal:

My student noticed that the scapulae, humeri, and tibiae were mis-sided and not laid out in anatomical position.  Surely, she thought, Reichs would not post a picture of herself with bones in weird positions.  I harp on this in class all the time: lay out the bones in anatomical position. They have to be as close as you can get to anatomical position.

I am well aware that when you're working on a skeleton, bones get out of place and rearranged.  I've absolutely confused myself before by not paying attention and putting bones back in the wrong places, then wondering why there was suddenly a new fracture on the bone.  But Reichs' photo involves practically all of the bones not in anatomical position.  She was looking at the posterior aspect of the arm and shoulder bones? The tibiae got misplaced? Quickly staged photo op? (But how long does it take to lay out 20 large, unbroken bones... 2 minutes tops?)

So, who needs an osteologist today?  Apparently Kathy Reichs does.

*Full disclaimer -- as much as I rag on Bones in my reviews, I am a huge fan of Reichs and especially her book series (which is way, way better forensically than the TV show).  And thanks to Jennifer Waters for pointing this out - A+ osteological work!

Previous Installments of Who needs an osteologist?

The Archaeology News Network

'Monumental' burial mound excavated in Poland

Archaeologists from the Institute of Prehistory of A. Mickiewicz University in Poznań conducted excavations of a several meters in diameter mound in Grudna (Wielkopolska) in west-central Poland, built nearly 2000 years ago. Inside they found a rich burial. "Due to the size of the structure, the works lasted nearly two months - told PAP Igor Kołoszuk, head of the excavation. - To examine the entire structure, we removed several tons...

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Robert Consoli (Squinches)

The Boeotian parallel economy. Part 1.

In the Acharnians Aristophanes presents an Athenian named Dicaeopolis who is tired of the Peloponnesian War and decides to opt out.  It is the sixth year of the war and our hero is sick, among other things, of the self-aggrandizing politicians who might make peace but don't because it would diminish their self-importance.  So Dicaeopolis arranges a truce between the Spartans and just his family (it costs him eight drachmae).  Having secured his private peace, his first action is to open a market in goods that would otherwise have been contraband.  A Theban merchant furnishes him with delicacies which would usually be embargoed since Boeotia was an ally of the Spartans.  Our Theban cries up his wares with gusto in unmistakable Dorian accents:

ὅσ᾿ ἐστὶν ἀγαθὰ Βοιωτοῖς· ἁπλῶς ὀρίγανον, γλαχώ, ψιάθως, θρυαλλίδας, νάσσας, κολοιώς, ἀτταγᾶς, φαλαρίδας, τροχίλως, κολύμβως
καὶ μὰν φέρω χᾶνας, λαγώς, ἀλώπεκας, σκάλοπας, ἐχίνως, αἰελώρως, πικτίδας, ἰκτίδας, ἐνύδριας, ἐγχέλιας Κωπαΐδας.

“Just everything good that the Boeotians have: marjoram, pennyroyal, rush mats, lamp wicks, ducks, jackdaws, francolins, coots, wrens, grebes.
I’ve also got geese, hares, foxes, moles, hedgehogs, cats, badgers, martens, otters, Copaic eels.”[1]

Now not all these products came from Lake Copais (except for the eels) but it is an interesting catalogue nonetheless.  It sheds light on Farinetti’s description of the ‘parallel economy’, that is to say, the economy that would exist in an alternative Boeotia in which Lake Copais hadn't been drained for agriculture.[2]  Let us examine these items of the parallel economy in a little more detail.  I start with the plants.  In a further post I will examine the birds, animals, and the .. eels on Aristophanes' list.

ὀρίγανον:   Oregano, translated here as ‘marjoram’ to which it is closely related but Aristophanes probably meant the common Origanum vulgare or ‘wild marjoram’.   Marjoram proper is Origanum majorana or 'sweet marjoram’ and is slightly sweeter.     Oregano is an acrid herb and has well-known uses in cooking.  For example, in the Deipnosophists it is mentioned as a spice for cooking conger eels[3].  It was also thought to have medical uses in antiquity.   Oregano is gathered on the hillsides and not commonly found in swampy or marshy areas.  In addition, oregano will grow on any sunny slope including, presumably, those in Attica and so it's not clear why oregano has to come from Boeotia in particular.

γλαχώ, Dor. for βλήχων.  Pennyroyal (Mentha Pulegium) also squaw mint, mosquito plant, and pudding grass.  A traditional herb with a long history of uses; the crushed leaves give off the aroma of spearmint.  Used in cooking, for example, in Apicius who names it as an important ingredient in cooking boar, venison, mutton, and pig.[4]

ψιάθως,  Dor. for ψίαθος.  ‘Rush mats’.  The rush is σχοῖνος which Theophrastus places among the water plants.[5]    The rushes are characterized by round stems and spongy piths[6] and when dried they are suitable for weaving or plaiting; something known to many cultures.  They are common in Greece and so we cannot know for sure which rushes the Greeks thought suitable for weaving into mats but one obvious candidate is Juncus effusus.  This rush, commonly called 'soft rush' is suitable for weaving or twisting (e.g. into rope or cord).  Herodotus gives an example of rushes twisted into a cord for lowering a basket and Plato uses the same word to mean a rope or cord.[7]

The spongy pith, when dipped in fat or wax and then lit, will make a serviceable illumination.  It is estimated that a 2' section will burn for an hour.[8]  This connects us with the next entry on θρυαλλίς.

θρυαλλίδας, a dim. of θρυαλλίς, either a wick[9] or a plant from which lamp wicks can be made.  In LSJ θρυαλλίς is defined as "plantain, Plantago crassifolia" or, according to current naming conventions, Plantago crassifolia Forsskal.  This is a member of the Plantaginaceae and, while sometimes called 'plantain' it is not the commonly understood plantain which is the hybrid Musa × paradisiaca.  The habitat of P. crassifolia is ordinarily in brackish marshes, edges of salt marshes, etc.[10]  There are good pictures of it here.

Wicks are made by twisting a vegetable or animal fiber and, usually, impregnated with a fatty substance like oil or wax.  They can also be made from an unaltered vegetable fiber such as the core of the stem of the rush (previous) or, here, the leaves of P. crassifolia.  Pliny, in the Natural History, makes the explicit connection between θρυαλλίς and lamp wicks.[11]

Other plausible candidates for θρυαλλίς are Verbascum thapsis (mullein) which is a European native and Verbascum olimpicum which is native to the Peloponnese.   [12]   


[1] Acharnians 873-880.  In [Henderson 1998] 166-168.

[2] [Farinetti 2011] App. III, 7.  She says of the swampy areas of the Copais: “In fact, such areas are not simply a pure obstacle to the expansion of cultivation, but in the majority of cases are an ideal place for a parallel economy which can ‘exploit’ the natural conditions, and which coexists with the agrarian economy, and, to a certain degree, can be considered an expansion of it”.

[3] [Olson 2009] 364-365, Deipnosophists, xiv.662.  Quoting Antiphanes in Philotis (fr. 221).   Also in [Olson 2007] 384-7, Deipii.68.a and b.

[4] [Vehling 1936] Book VIII (Quadrupeds), sections 332,333, 342, 348, 349, 370, (hare) 386, 388, and many others.  A translation of Book VIII may be found on-line here.  The Latin word used throughout is 'menta'; the original latin text may be consulted here.

[5]  Theophrastus, Enq. Plants, iv.12.1 in [Hort 1916] 378 ff.   The connection of the rushes to lake margins is common knowledge: "[their habitats] often feature moist areas at forest margins, wet grasslands, wetland margins, lake shores, river banks, and in fen-meadows" in Encyclopedia of Life.  "Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), marshes, meadows and fields, shores of rivers or lakes, wetland margins (edges of wetlands)" in GoBotany.  "It grows in large clumps about 1.5 metres (4 ft 11 in) tall at the water's edge along streams and ditches, but can be invasive anywhere with moist soil. It is commonly found growing in humus-rich areas like marshes, ditches, fens, and beaver dams" in iNaturalist.  " It is common on the margins of rivers, ponds, lakes and ditches and will occur as scattered stands in open, wet woodland. It apparently avoids base-rich soils and is most characteristic of sandy and peaty substrates, especially open heaths and moors" in the IUCN redlist.

[6] A good picture showing comparative cross-sections may be found here.

[7] Hdt.5.16.  "τῶν δὲ πλῆθος ἐστὶ τοσοῦτο ὥστε, ὅταν τὴν θύρην τὴν καταπακτὴν ἀνακλίνῃ, κατιεῖ σχοίνῳ σπυρίδα κεινὴν ἐς τὴν λίμνην, καὶ οὐ πολλόν τινα χρόνον ἐπισχὼν ἀνασπᾷ πλήρεα ἰχθύων"  "..and of fish there is such abundance, that a man opens his trap-door and lets an empty basket down by a line into the lake, and it is no long time before he draws it up full of fish."  [Strassler/Purvis 2009] 373

Plato in the Timaeus

(78B): "οἷον σχοίνους κύκλῳ"  "as it were ropes ... in a circle"


[9]  IPhilyllius frag. 25 [Storey 2011] 36-7.   Also in Aristophanes Wasps: 251 (LCL 488: 252-253); Clouds: 59 (LCL 488: 16-17);  585 (LCL 488 86-89); Acharnians: 826 (LCL 178 160-1);  916, 917, 918, 925 (LCL 178: 172-175) and in Pausanias, Attica, xxvi.7 (LCL 93: 136-137)

[10] "Inoltre sono presenti habitat importanti come le dune mobili del cordone litorale e nelle zone retrodunale le foreste alluvionali",

[11] Thphrastus, Enquiry into Plants vii.11.2  (LCL 79: 120-121) identifies thruallis with a plant with a spike. Pliny, Natural History 25, 121 (LCL 393: 224-225) makes the connection to wicks explicit.

[12] For Verbascum thapsis see [Bowe and DeHart 2011]108.    For a video of the Verbascum olimpicum see this.


[Bowe and DeHart 2011] Partick Bowe and Michael D. DeHart.  Gardens and Plants of the Getty Villa.  Getty Publications, Los Angeles, Ca. 2011.

[Farinetti 2011] Boeotian landscapes. British Archaeological Reports.  2011.
It can be downloaded as several .pdfs.  The list is here:

[Henderson 1998]  Jeffrey Henderson, ed. and trans.  Aristophanes. Acharnians. Knights.  Loeb Classical Library, no. 178. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998.

[Henderson 2000] Jeffrey Henderson, ed. and trans.,  Aristophanes. Birds. Lysistrata. Women at the Thesmophoria.  Loeb Classical Library, no. 179. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000.

[Hort 1915]  Arthur F. Hort, trans., TheophrastusEnquiry into Plants, Volume I: Books 1-5.  Loeb Classical Library 70. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1916.

[LSJ] Henry George Liddell & Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1940.  Consulted on-line here:

[Olson 2007] S. Douglas Olson ed. and trans., Athenaeus. The Learned Banqueters, Volume I: Books 1-3.106e.  Loeb Classical Library 204. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007.

[Olson 2009] S. Douglas Olson, ed. and trans., Athenaeus. The Learned Banqueters, Volume V: Books 10.420e-11.  Loeb Classical Library 274. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009.

[Storey 2011] Ian C. Storey, ed.  and trans., Fragments of Old Comedy, Volume III: Philonicus to Xenophon. Adespota.  Loeb Classical Library 515. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011.

[Strassler/Purvis 2009] Robert B. Strassler ed., Andrea L. Purvis, trans., The Landmark Herodotus, The Histories.  Anchor Books, New York, 2009.

[Vehling 1936] J.D. Vehling trans., Apicius, de Re Coquinaria.  Edited by Walter M. Hill (1936) and found on-line here.

Compitum - publications

A. A. Milne, Winnie ille Pu


Alan Alexander Milne, Winnie ille Pu. Version latine par Alexander Lenard. Traduction française de Florient Azoulay. Avec la collaboration d'Isabelle Doré. Illustrations d'Ernest Howard Shepard, Paris, 2014.

Éditeur : Les Belles Lettres
XIII-256 pages
ISBN : 978-2-251-44506-9
17,50 €

Alexander Lenard, voyant que ses élèves rechignaient un peu à étudier le latin, entreprit pour eux de traduire Winnie-the-Pooh d'Alan Alexander Milne. Publié de manière confidentielle en 1958, Winnie ille Pu connut pourtant un succès phénoménal au point qu'il reste le seul ouvrage en latin à être entré dans la liste des best-sellers du New-York Times !
Loin des clichés des dessins animés, on découvre dans ces pages la fantaisie et la poésie d'un trésor de la littérature pour enfants et dont on propose ici la première édition française intégrale.
Christopher Robin et son fameux ourson Winnie, Ticochon, Hibou, Lapin, Hi-Han, Kangou et Rou, et tous les autres animaux vivent des aventures incroyables et s'expriment dans un latin drôlement impeccable que les débutants ou les savants, les petits ou les grands ne manqueront pas de savourer.
Extrait de la préface (pages V à IX).
Lire le chapitre III dans son intégralité en bilingue (14 pages).


Source : Les Belles Lettres

The Archaeology News Network

12th century sword may have belonged to Ivan the Terrible

The medieval sword was discovered buried under a tree in Novosibirsk region, and scientists are keen to unlock its secrets. The weapon was unearthed by accident  in 1975 and remains the only weapon of its kind ever found in Siberia. The scientists would be keen to hear from European experts who could throw  more light on its origins [Credit: The Siberian Times]An exciting new theory has now emerged that it could have...

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Archaeological News on Tumblr

Russian tourist 'carved letter K on Colosseum'

A Russian tourist has been arrested for allegedly carving the letter K on a wall of the...

AIA Fieldnotes

"Cultural Heritage and Global Climate Change: What Can the Past Tell Us About the Future?"

Event Type (you may select more than one): 
Start Date: 
Thursday, February 26, 2015 - 7:00pm

Lecturer: Kathryn L. Samuels, University of Maryland, College Park  Read more »


AIA Society: 
Lucinda Conger
Call for Papers: 

Ancient Peoples

Pair of sandals 18th Dynasty New Kingdom, reign of Amenhotep...

Pair of sandals

18th Dynasty

New Kingdom, reign of Amenhotep III

c.1390-1352 BC

In 1905, Theodore M. Davis found a nearly intact tomb (KV 46) in the Valley of the Kings. KV 46 contained the burials of Yuya and Tjuya, the parents of Queen Tiye, principal wife of Amenhotep III and mother of Akhenaten. Davis was allowed to keep a portion of the finds, which he later gave to the Museum including two sealed jars, a pair of sandals, and a group of shabti tools. These sandals are made of plaited grass and reeds, with the toe and side pieces of split papyrus.

(Source: The Met Museum)

The Archaeology News Network

Game pieces found in ancient city of Kibyra

Two game pieces from the Roman era 1,800 years ago have been found in the ancient city of Kibyra, in the southern Turkish province of Burdur’s Gölhisar district. A popular board game from the Roman Empire has been  found in Kibyra [Credit: AA]“We don’t have too much information about this game but we believe that it was played by two people on squares … with dice,” Professor Ünal Demirer said, adding that the Roman-era game dated...

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Did the Greeks eat horses ?

The Loeb of Xenophon's Hellenica II.4.6 reads:
'Then when it was drawing towards day and the enemy were already getting up and going away from their camp whithersoever each one had to go, and the grooms were keeping up a hubbub as they curried their horses, at this moment Thrasybulus and his men picked up their arms and charged on the run. They struck down some of the enemy and turned them all to flight, pursuing them for six or seven stadia; and they killed more than one hundred and twenty of the hoplites, and among the cavalry Nicostratus, nicknamed “the beautiful,” and two more besides, catching them while still in their beds.'

Note also 'Nicostratus, nicknamed "the beautiful"' as on καλός inscriptions.

The Greek reads:
ἐπεὶ δὲ πρὸς ἡμέραν ἐγίγνετο, καὶ ἤδη ἀνίσταντο ὅποι ἐδεῖτο ἕκαστος ἀπὸ τῶν ὅπλων, καὶ οἱ ἱπποκόμοι ψήχοντες τοὺς ἵππους ψόφον ἐποίουν, ἐν τούτῳ ἀναλαβόντες οἱ περὶ Θρασύβουλον τὰ ὅπλα δρόμῳ προσέπιπτον· καὶ ἔστι μὲν οὓς αὐτῶν κατέβαλον, πάντας δὲ τρεψάμενοι ἐδίωξαν ἓξ ἢ ἑπτὰ στάδια, καὶ ἀπέκτειναν τῶν μὲν ὁπλιτῶν πλέον ἢ εἴκοσι καὶ ἑκατόν, τῶν δὲ ἱππέων Νικόστρατόν τε τὸν καλὸν ἐπικαλούμενον, καὶ ἄλλους δὲ δύο, ἔτι καταλαβόντες ἐν ταῖς εὐναῖς.

So, no curries, then.

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Ancient game found in Roman era city

Two game pieces from the Roman era 1,800 years ago have been found in the ancient city of Kibyra,...

The Archaeology News Network

New palaeolithic finds broaden habitat of hominids of Northeast Asia

Archaeologists have unearthed new palaeolithic remains that may be 500,000 years old in north China's Hebei Province, which indicated the hominids of Northeast Asia lived in a wider habitat than previously thought. View of the Nihewan Basin [Credit: Xu Ming/Global Times]The remains were excavated some 150 km away from the Nihewan Basin site where mammal fossils and Old Stone Age remnants known as the Nihewan Culture ruins were first...

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Recent books

Volker Grieb, Krzysztof Nawotka, Agnieszka Bron-Wojciechowska (edd.), Alexander the Great and Egypt. History, Art, Tradition (Philippika 74), Wiesbaden, Harrassowitz, 2014.

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

ACCG Returns to its "Brownshirts"

Disney-bred ACCG
bloggers have no idea.
Apparently, according to the self-appointed "Executive Director of the Ancient Coin Collectors' (sic) Guild",  questioning artefact collecting and heritage policies
is the modern cultural property nationalist equivalent of the Inquisition or of the "Brownshirts" in pre-WWII Germany, etc. etc. (history offers many illustrations). Their names might change, but the rabid ideological mentality is pretty consistent and nothing new.
and those who try to protect the rhinos, whales, elephants and butterflies are obviously "the modern natural environment retentionist equivalent of Atilla the Hun and Vlad the Impaler" - while tropical rainforest activists are the worst, Idi Amin and Pol Pot, obviously. It seems the no-questions-asked market is running out of the justifications it never had and is intent on playing the victim. Pathetic. Do these people really think they are doing collectors and the antiquities trade any favours with this sort of behaviour?

In blogs and discussion lists we have seen conservationists called "Heritage Brownshirts", frequently compared to "Josef Goebbels", accused of promoting an “archeologie uber alles” ideology and so on. The moment anyone questions this, the culprit protests innocence, claims he was "misunderstood". Nazi imagery is particularly prevalent in the rhetoric of the ACCG. Sayles not so long ago labelled a perfectly legitimate debate “Archaeological Goose-stepping". I've had occasion to remonstrate with another ACCG director who'd used imagery from the 1939 defeat of the Polish army in order to simply cause hurt because they could find no other way to counter arguments about artefact collecting and commerce. John Howland, notable for a recent extremely unpleasant Auschwitz "joke", is a favoured guest on Tompa and Sayles' blogs. It seems to me that people like Sayles shouting their mouths off over there have actually no idea what the Nazis and the Nazi occupation meant to us over here in central Europe.

Kostis Kourelis (Buildings, Objects Situations)

Mystical K

William Penn and Benjamin Franklin have dominated Pennsylvania's historical airwaves. Their no-nonsense Protestant ethic served well the ideology of the nation as it developed into a capitalist empire. It is particularly interesting how the majority of Philadelphia Quakers became Episcopalians in the 19th century, suggesting that Quaker spirituality became increasingly incompatible with the

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Archimède: Archéologie et histoire ancienne

Archimède: Archéologie et histoire ancienne
La revue Archimède. Archéologie et histoire ancienne est une revue liée à l’Unité mixte de recherche 7044 "Archéologie et histoire ancienne : Europe-Méditerranée" (Archimède).

Double objectif scientifique : 

  • valoriser les productions et expertises du laboratoire 
  • jouer un rôle dans le paysage international de la recherche en archéologie et en histoire (de la Préhistoire à Byzance, Europe-Méditerranée).

Axes structurants :

  • favoriser les interactions disciplinaires
  • encourager les collaborations avec les acteurs de l’archéologie préventive (INRAP, PAIR, ANTEA)
  • accueillir et favoriser les travaux des historiens et des archéologues croisant les thématiques des sciences sociales et de l’anthropologie culturelle
  • approfondir les collaborations entre historiens, archéologues et spécialistes des sciences de la nature.

David Meadows (rogueclassicism)

Unlooted Tomb from Aigai/Vergina

I was hoping we’d hear more about this find … from eKathimerini:

An ancient tomb along with burial offerings, allegedly belonging to a man who died around the time of Alexander the Great, has been unearthed at the ancient city of Aigai, in northern Greece.

The archaeologist in charge of the excavation at Aigai, Aggeliki Kottaridi, reported the discovery with a message on her Facebook page. She said that the box-shaped Macedonian tomb had not been looted.

“[This is] a pleasant exception since the Aigai necropolis was brutally looted by Gallic mercenaries of Pyrrhus in 276 BC and we rarely have the chance to find undisturbed burials,” she said.

Kottaridi also posted two images from the tomb, one of them depicting a decorated vessel used to mix wine and water at the symposia.

The photo that accompanies the piece (and is also on a Greek Reporter version) is somewhat curious:

Aggeliki Kottaridi photo (?)

Aggeliki Kottaridi photo (?)

There was some discussion on the Classics list — I’m not sure how serious — that this was a helmet (presumably some sort of pilos type) but this seems to be the gold-plated vessel referred to in the article (that would be an awfully uncomfortable chin strap!). But why is it laying on the floor like this (if unlooted)?

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

Richard Carrier and Illiterate Country Hicks

As readers of this blog probably know, I wrote a short and focused review of one aspect of Richard Carrier’s book On the Historicity of Jesus for The Bible and Interpretation. I am planning to follow up with another such focused review, probably focused on the use of the Rank-Raglan scale in assessing historicity. But there are lots of other points that deserve to be made about specific details in the book, and so in addition to writing review articles, I also plan on blogging through the book in shorter chunks.

In this post, I mainly want to make clear that, while the book is most definitely a work that can be considered scholarly, Carrier’s book is also a work of apologetics. People sometimes ask me why mainstream scholars interact with sectarian religious works about Jesus which do not limit themselves to what historical methods can say. The answer, as I have said before, is that no one seems to be unbiased when it comes to Jesus, and Carrier is no exception. Rather than make a list, I want to focus in here on one example of the kinds of things Carrier writes, which reveal an attitude that is clearly not about trying to be unbiased or even fair.

In no other scholarly work have I encountered the vast majority of human beings alive in ancient times – and then also the rare literate exceptions to them – characterized the way Carrier does on p.293. He says that the two options for explaining the paucity of mention of Jesus by his contemporaries are (1) widespread suppression or destruction of evidence, or (2) “Christianity was so small, insignificant and pervasively illiterate that such evidence never existed (and Paul was a lone educated freak in a sea of illiterate country hicks spinning yarns far and wide).”

There is obviously the issue of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” here - having someone literate provide information about Jesus makes that individual a freak, while people who were illiterate (like almost everyone else then alive) are spoken of disparagingly.

There is also the issue that this very plausible option is considered last and treated dismissively, whereas it is both the most widely held view, and the one most consonant with the evidence. Summed up in more conventional language, Paul was unusual in the early Christian movement in terms of his education. Paul even says as much explicitly in his letters.

But I think the biggest issue is that Carrier seems to have fallen into a trap that no historian of antiquity ought to fall into, namely viewing ancient from the perspective of an inappropriate chronological snobbery. The literate were a tiny percentage of people in antiquity, but that does not mean that they were not intelligent, nor even talented at stringing words together or writing music or doing other such things. It means that literacy was rare. This might lead us to appreciate the higher literacy rates in our own time, but it should not lead us to view ancient human beings with disdain, or us as automatically not just better educated but inherently smarter.

If anyone feels that Carrier’s language is appropriate, then it must be pointed out that what Carrier says here about Christians can be said about ancient people more generally. Carrier considers the comparative example of Socrates, who was more highly educated and more connected to people of influence in an urban hub than Jesus was, in a manner that doesn’t just pretend that the evidence for the two ought to nonetheless be the same, but also in a manner that is disrespectful to ancient people in general, to country people in particular, and to Christians. And it is not merely insulting, but insulting about things which these ancient people had little or no control over in their time and place in history.

I don’t think Carrier would say that most people in ancient times were “illiterate country hicks” or that most educated people were therefore “freaks.” He seems to reserve such insulting language specifically for Christians, and perhaps others whom he dislikes with equal vehemence.

That doesn’t mean that Carrier’s book should not be interacted with by historians and other scholars. But it does show that Carrier is not even pretending to offer an impartial, mathematical weighing of evidence – or if he is pretending, then he fails to do so consistently.

Carrier’s book is a discussion of history, but it is also anti-Christian atheist apologetics. And just as we take that into account when interacting with sectarian religious scholarship, it is an aspect of Carrier’s work that cannot be ignored, since it clearly permeates and influences what he writes and how he writes about it.

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Friday Retrospect: Coin Fairies

Coin Elves (Arthur Rackham)
I thought, for the benefit of new readers,  it would be worth revisiting the old posts about the "coin fairies" model and the corresponding "coin Elves" posts.

This all started with an early post:  PACHI Sunday, 12 April 2009: 'To all you young collectors out there' taking the mickey out of the US dealers' lobby groups like Ancient Coins for Education (whatever happened to them?) and their incessant efforts to dodge certain key questions.

But then the Coin Fairies and Coin Elves took on a life of their own. The idea is that while the rest of the world sees there is a supply-demand relationship between looting and buying looted items, coin collectors and dealers especially deny there is any such collection. So I invented the fairies and elves to make the point how ridiculous that is. In this model, anything that is looted is allegedly "disappeared' by the fairies, while everything that surfaces on the market comes not from the ground, but (obviously) the secret caves of the ancient coin elves (who I imagined probably live somewhere underground near Munich) who must create them by magic.  It is absolutely out of the question that any of them come from the Coin Fairies. The idea is well-illustrated by this graphic by Nigel Swift of Heritage Action.

Looting System Theory (HA)
A lot of this early discussion was with Dealer Dave of the ACCG. In order to muddy the waters, he insisted we should rephrase the argument in the terms he alone dictated, making out that he wanted us to take a 'scientific' approach to the question: PACHI Friday, 28 May 2010; 'Scientific Proof: Show Me the Coin Fairies'. In this post I presented an artist's impression of the coin fairy postulated by collectors to explain the otherwise inexplicable disappearance of looted artefacts in the "it was not me" model (the original was by IceMaiden71). She's stronger than she looks, and is capable of digging huge numbers of destructive holes in 'productive' archaeological sites.

Coin Elves get their own posts too: PACHI Sunday, 6 July 2014, 'More Understanding for Coin Elves Please'.

Bill Caraher (The New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World)

Friday Varia and Quick Hits

I’m still hanging out at the American School of Oriental Research annual meeting in sunny and warm San Diego. Unlike some years, I’ve been able to enjoy a full slate of panels. Yesterday the panel on Maritime Archaeology and Object Biography were particularly thought provoking, and today it looks like I could spend about 6 or 7 hours in panels devoted to the archaeology of Cyprus.

So with the travel and conferencing by quick hits and varia will look a bit thin, but I figure I do owe my readers something!

IMG 2345

Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

Antiche miniere d'oro romane rivelate da immagini LIDAR

lidar-erica-valleyGrazie alla tecnica LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), sistema laser collegato a un aereo, sono state individuate nella zona Las Médulas in León in Spagna antiche strutture minerari e il sistema idraulico complesso utilizzato dai Romani nel I secolo a.C. per estrarre l'oro (compresi i canali, i serbatoi e una doppia diversione del fiume).

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Poznań archaeologists studied a monumental mound

Archaeologists from the Institute of Prehistory of A. Mickiewicz University in Poznań conducted...

Adrian Murdoch (Bread and Circuses)

The Roman Boat in Herculaneum

It is worth flagging up this article mentioned by the always-brilliant Blogging Pompeii about the wooden boat found on the shore of Herculaneum. It must be one of the most ill-fated ships ever. It appears not to have been seaworthy...

David Meadows (rogueclassicism)

‘Antique’ Roman Glass (and Persian Items) in a Fifth Century Japanese Tomb!

Very interesting item from Asahi Shimbun:

A glass dish unearthed from a burial mound here is the first of its kind confirmed to have come to Japan from the Roman Empire, a research team said.

A round cut glass bowl, discovered with the glass plate, was found to have originated in Sassanid Persia (226-651), the researchers said.

The dish and bowl were retrieved together from the No. 126 tumulus of the Niizawa Senzuka cluster of ancient graves, a national historic site. The No. 126 tumulus dates back to the late fifth century.

The researchers’ scientific studies show that fifth-century Japan imported glasswork, and that there was a wide range of trade between the East and the West.

“The dish was likely produced around the Mediterranean Sea and then transferred to Sassanid Persia,” said team leader Yoshinari Abe, an assistant professor of analytical chemistry at the Tokyo University of Science. “After it was painted there, the plate was probably taken to Japan.”

According to the team’s analysis, the chemical composition of the clear dark blue dish is almost identical to glasswork unearthed in the area of the Roman Empire (27 B.C.-A.D. 395).

Measuring 14.1 to 14.5 centimeters in diameter, the flat, raised dish is believed to have been created in the second century at the latest.

The dish has been designated a national important cultural property and is currently owned by the Tokyo National Museum.

The scientists used a special fluorescence X-ray device to analyze chemical elements in glass powder from the dish.

The chemical compositions of natron, a type of sodium mineral, as well as sand made of silica and lime, resemble those typically found in Mediterranean glasswork produced in the Roman Empire and the following Eastern Roman Empire period.

The team also conducted a fluorescence X-ray test on the dish using a high-energy radiation beam at the Spring 8 large synchrotron radiation facility in Sayo, Hyogo Prefecture. The test revealed antimony, a metallic element believed to be used in Rome until the second century.

The results mean that it took centuries for the dish to arrive in Japan and be buried in the grave after it was produced in Rome.

Abe and his colleagues also revealed that the chemical composition of the cut glass bowl is the same as that of glass fragments unearthed from the remains of a palace in the ancient Persian capital of Ctesiphon. The bowl is 8 cm in diameter, 7 cm tall and narrower in the upper part.

“Japan aggressively traded with other countries in the fifth century, and (the latest findings) show various elements were entering Japan at the time,” said Takashi Taniichi, a Silk Road archaeology professor at Sanyo Gakuen University. “Because the glass dish may have been transported via Central Asia, it is no wonder that there was a time lag (between its production and arrival in Japan).”

The team’s research results will be presented at a conference of the Association for Glass Art Studies, Japan, scheduled for Nov. 15 at the Tokyo University of Science in Shinjuku Ward.

The dish and bowl are on display at the Tokyo National Museum until Dec. 7.

Mycenean Finds from Bodrum

From Hurriyet:

New artifacts have been found during excavations in Bodrum’s Ortakent and Gümüşlük neighborhoods. The artifacts will shed light on the history of Bodrum Peninsula, according to officials.

The Bodrum Underwater Archaeology Museum Director Emel Özkan said that they had discovered 49 artifacts from the Mycenean era.

“The number of Mycenean artifacts increased to 248 with these ones. This made our museum the richest one in terms of Mycenean artifacts among the Turkish museums,” she said.

Özkan said that the artifacts, which date back to 3,500 years ago, were very important for Anatolian history, adding, “The amphora and gifts found in this excavation show us that the necropolis area dates back to early bronze age. It was one the early era settlements in the western Anatolian.”

Özkan said skeletons found in the excavations were being examined by anthropologists and the artifacts would be displayed.

The photo that accompanies the piece … I can’t decide if that thing in the middle is a hedgehog or a boar:


Hurriyet Photo

Hurriyet Photo

Interesting ‘Unknown Divinity’ from Turkey

From a WWU Münster press release:

Münster archaeologists excavated a unique Roman relief depicting an unknown god in an ancient sanctuary in Turkey. According to a first assessment, the one and a half metre (five feet) high basalt stele which was used as a buttress in the wall of a monastery shows a fertility or vegetation god, as classical scholar and excavation director Prof. Dr. Engelbert Winter and archaeologist Dr. Michael Blömer of the Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics” said after their return from the sacred site of the god Jupiter Dolichenus close to the ancient city of Doliche in Southeast Turkey. “The image is remarkably well preserved. It provides valuable insights into the beliefs of the Romans and into the continued existence of ancient Near Eastern traditions. However, extensive research is necessary before we will be able to accurately identify the deity.”

In the field season 2014, the 60-strong excavation team uncovered finds from all periods of the 2,000-year history of the cult site, such as the thick enclosing wall of the first Iron Age sanctuary or the foundations of the main Roman temple of the god Jupiter Dolichenus, who became one of the most important deities of the Roman Empire in the 2nd century A.D. His sanctuary is situated close to the town of Gaziantep on the 1,200 metres (3,900 feet) high mountain of Dülük Baba Tepesi. The archaeologists found the stele in the remains of the Christian monastery, which was erected on the site of the ancient sanctuary in the Early Middle Ages.

Archaeologist Blömer described the depiction: “The basalt stele shows a deity growing from a chalice of leaves. Its long stem rises from a cone that is ornamented with astral symbols. From the sides of the cone grow a long horn and a tree, which the deity clasps with his right hand. The pictorial elements suggest that a fertility god is depicted.” There are striking iconographic details such as the composition of the beard or the posture of the arms, which point to Iron Age depictions from the early 1st millennium B.C.

The new find, thus, provides information about a key question of the Cluster of Excellence’s research project B2-20, the question of the continuity of local religious beliefs. According to Prof. Winter, “The stele provides information on how ancient oriental traditions survived the epochs from the Iron Age to the age of the Romans.”


Here’s a photo:

Peter Jülich for WWUM

Peter Jülich for WWUM

Sarah E. Bond

Facebook Before Facebook: Tagging in Antiquity

Over at Erik Kwakkel’s medieval books blog, I guest post on the links between our digital world today and the media of the past.

Facebook Before Facebook: Tagging in Antiquity.

Archaeological News on Tumblr

New paleolithic relics broaden habitat of hominids of Northeast Asia

SHIJIAZHUANG, Nov. 21 — Archaeologists have unearthed new paleolithic remains that may be...

David Meadows (rogueclassicism)

RepiTitiationes ~ 11/11-12/14

RepiTitiationes ~ 11/10/14

RepiTitiationes 11/09/14

The Egyptiana Emporium

NEWS: Middle Kingdom tombs discovered in Luxor

IMG_0518.JPGArchaeological works at the temple of Thutmose III in Luxor.

A team of Spanish archaeologists and Egyptologists have discovered two tombs with gold and silver jewellery from the Middle Kingdom (2050-1750 BC), under the temple of Pharaoh Thutmose III (1490-1436 BC), on the west bank of the Nile in the province of Luxor in southern Egypt.

As confirmed on Wednesday by the head of the expedition, Myriam Seco, below the temple is “a whole necropolis of the Middle Kingdom,” where, two days ago, the jewels of the lady were found. The body is of a woman of high class bearing two bracelets, a pendant of semi-precious stones and gold cylinders, and a silver anklet. The two gold bracelets are in perfect condition, although the silver jewellery is extremely deteriorated.

The collection of jewellery including a stunning she’ll pendant (Source: Discovery News).

The tomb was previously located by geophysical surveys with GPR. This team has already dug fourteen graves “that were robbed in antiquity”, but in this case, the sarcophagus was buried by the collapse of the roof, also crushing part of the mummy, which prevented looting by thieves. Seco, who branded the collection as “beautiful and stunning”, emphasizes its importance, because there is little Middle Kingdom jewellery showing that stage of history.

“This find implies that these are people of nobility and the highest ranks of the Middle Kingdom were buried here” said the archaeologist.

These investigations are being conducted through a collaboration of the Fundación Botín, Santander and Mexican cement company Cemex – translated from the Spanish report which can be viewed here.

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)


IO9 shared an infographic about widespread misconceptions. Those relating to religion and to science intersect with the focuses of this blog, and so I thought I should share it in a post of its own (I mentioned it in a post previously).


Archaeological News on Tumblr

Edirne Palace to gain status of ancient site

Cultural officials are working on a plan to bestow the status of ancient site on Edirne Palace,...

American School of Classical Studies in Athens: Events

“Κώμη” ή “πόλις”; Η περίπτωση του Ωρωπού Αττικής

December 02, 2014 - 1:22 PM - LECTURE Καθ. Αλέξανδρος Μαζαράκης-Αινιάν

Μνημοτεχνικές και πόλη. Για μια νέα πολιτική του ερειπίου.

November 25, 2014 - 1:18 PM - LECTURE Γιώργος Τζιρτζιλάκης, Πανεπιστήμιο Θεσσαλίας

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Dealer: No Signs of the Artefacts

"The situation is bad enough without inanities".

Alan Walker joins in the discussion of the ranking of ISIL finance sources, is it second or fifth? He denies having seen a single illicit item from the region:
The destruction of sites is very clear from aerial photographs – it must be true. But WHERE IS THIS STUFF THEY ARE FINDING? It is not on the market anywhere that anyone knows. We are not seeing vast numbers of coins from these areas, or vast numbers of lovely artifacts. 
So, either they are all disappearing into the vaults of the coin fairies - or perhaps the market is working in a way which differs from Dr Walker's imagination of how it 'should' operate.  What other explanation does he care to offer for the holes? How could artefacts just "disappear" on today's totally transparent antiquities market?  Like others in the dealing world, Dr Walker draws attention to the role of Turkey:
Are we supposed to believe that a country that is incredibly serious about tracking down and getting back its own illegally exported heritage is perfectly happy to have all this Syrian and Iraqi stuff going through its territory without a peep of indignation?
Dr Walker is being disingenuous here. He knows full well that most source and market countries have antiquities legislation that protects archaeological material dug up and within on its own territory but is very difficult to apply to artefacts passing through. We've seen the way in which unprovenanced Egyptian artefacts pass through Turkey without any problems. This is why we are discussing this issue here, proposals are being made to close such loopholes in German law.


American School of Classical Studies in Athens: Events

«From East to West: the embassy from Mytilene and the first celebrations of Augustus»

December 04, 2014 - 12:29 PM - ROMAN SEMINAR Marco Galli (Università di Roma “Sapienza”)

Gegen Erbschleicherei und Bürgerrechtsbetrug:zur Funktion attischer Marmorlutrophoren bei der Konstr

December 03, 2014 - 12:26 PM - LECTURE Prof. Dr. Johanna Fabricius (Berlin)

Οι προβιομηχανικοί μύλοι της Αττικής μέσα από τους χάρτες του Kaupert

November 27, 2014 - 12:21 PM - LECTURE Όλγα Λεκού, Αρχιτέκτων ΕΜΠ, ΜS Αναστηλώσεων ΕΜΠ