Maia Atlantis: Ancient World Blogs

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March 30, 2015

Ancient Peoples

Statuette of a hooded figure, c. 1st-3rd Century AD. Dark green...

Statuette of a hooded figure, c. 1st-3rd Century AD. Dark green sandstone. Romano-British.12.4 x 4.2 x 4 cm.

(Source: Metropolitan Museum)

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.

2015 Reading Schedule

9780140442106April 1 & 15
Letters from a Stoic (Penguin Classics) by Lucius Annaeus Seneca / Online
also as eBook

HaggardMay 6 & 20
Cleopatra by H. Rider Haggard
(free on Gutenberg)

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American Philological Association

Survey on Research Practices of Humanities Scholars

You are invited to participate in a study into the research practices of humanities scholars in North American and European research libraries, and how you find and retrieve resources in both open and closed stack libraries.  This survey is intended for faculty, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows or other researchers in the Humanities, who have done research in both open and closed stacks research libraries.

To be a part of this study, please complete a 10-minute web-based survey. On any computer that can access the Internet, please click on this link to enter the study website:

Please contact the Principal Student Investigator, Marisa Ruccolo,, (514) 402-3275, her faculty advisor Professor Joan Bartlett,, (514) 398-6976 at any time, with any questions, concerns or comments about this research. 

Per Lineam Valli

1. When was Hadrian’s Wall built?

The Emperor Hadrian visited Britain, probably in AD 122, and it was under his governor, Aulus Platorius Nepos (AD 122–5/6), that construction began (Figure 1). We know the former fact from Hadrian’s biography (Historia Augusta, Life of Hadrian 11) and the latter from the discovery of a couple of building inscriptions from Milecastle 38 (Hotbank), as well as part of a third from Milecastle 42. We also know that the Wall was constructed and operational by the time it was abandoned in the early AD 140s upon the construction of the Antonine Wall (located further north, on the Forth–Clyde isthmus). Virtually all other dating for the construction of the system within that period of two decades relies upon informed speculation.

Further reading: Breeze and Dobson 2000

Hadrian's Wall map

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Sidonius Apollinaris Online

Sidonius Apollinarus

This website focuses on Gaius Sollius Apollinaris Sidonius, a fifth- century Gallo-Roman aristocrat, high official, poet, letter writer, and bishop of Clermont (Auvergne) - a key figure in the transition of the later Roman Empire to the early Middle Ages and the dawn of Europe as we know it. It provides news on publications, conferences, and scholars in this field. It contains materials for the study of Sidonius, featuring, among other things, an up-to-date bibliography and files for download such as the complete Latin text of the letters according to Luetjohann's authoritative 1887 edition.

Pede certo: metrica latina digitale

Pede certo: metrica latina digitale
Pede certo è uno strumento per l’analisi automatica dei versi latini, messo a punto dall’Università di Udine nell’ambito del progetto FIRB Traditio patrum. La sua applicazione all’archivio digitale Musisque Deoque — che comprende i testi della poesia latina dalle origini al VII secolo d.C. — ha consentito la scansione dei circa 244.000 versi dattilici in esso contenuti.
In questo sito un motore di ricerca appositamente sviluppato si avvale dei risultati dell’analisi per interrogare il corpus su base metrica, secondo molteplici approcci.
Nella pagina Scansioni libere è disponibile inoltre un dimostrativo semplificato, ma immediatamente usabile, dello strumento con cui è stata eseguita la scansione.
Mostra una panoramica delle ricerche di versi Mostra una panoramica delle strutture prosodiche
Pede certo is program for the automatic analysing of Latin verses developed by the Università di Udine as part of the Traditio patrum FIRB project. Its application to the Musisque Deoque digital archive – containing Latin poetry texts from the archaic period to the 7th century AD – has enabled the scansion of approximately 244,000 dactylic verses.
On this site, a specifically developed search engine that draws upon the results of the scansion may be used to conduct metrical investigations of the corpus, through a variety of approaches.
The Free scansions page offers a simplified but immediately usable demo version of the scanning program
Show an overview of verse searches Show an overview of prosodic structures

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

5,000 year old beer brewing pottery discovered in Israel

Archaeologists working Israel’s capital city Tel Aviv have discovered pieces of ancient Egyptian beer-brewing pottery dating back to over 5,000 years ago.

A bowl dating to the Early Bronze Age I (3500 BCE) - Photo by Yoli Shwartz, courtesy Israel Antiquities Authority

The discovery was made in downtown Tel Aviv during construction of office buildings. Diego Barkan, director of the archaeological excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, explains “We found seventeen pits in the excavations, which were used to store agricultural produce in the Early Bronze Age I (3500-3000-BCE). Among the hundreds of pottery sherds that characterize the local culture, a number of fragments of large ceramic basins were discovered that were made in an Egyptian tradition and were used to prepare beer. These vessels were manufactured with straw temper or some other organic material in order to strengthen them, a method not customary in the local pottery industry.

“Vessels such as these were found in the Egyptian administrative building that was excavated at ‘En Besor. On the basis of previously conducted excavations in the region we knew there is an Early Bronze Age site here, but this excavation is the first evidence we have of an Egyptian occupation in the center of Tel Aviv at that time. This is also the northernmost evidence we have of an Egyptian presence in the Early Bronze Age I.

“Until now we were only aware of an Egyptian presence in the northern Negev and southern coastal plain, whereby the northernmost point of Egyptian occupation occurred in Azor. Now we know that they also appreciated what the Tel Aviv region had to offer and that they too knew how to enjoy a glass of beer, just as Tel Avivians do today.”

It is interesting to note that beer was the “national drink of Egypt” in ancient times, and that it was a basic commodity like bread. Beer was consumed by the entire population, regardless of age, gender or status. It was made from a mixture of barley and water that was partially baked and then left to ferment in the sun. Various fruit concentrates were added to this mixture in order to flavor the beer. The mixture was filtered in special vessels and was ready for use. Excavations conducted in Egypt’s delta region uncovered breweries that indicate beer was already being produced in the mid-fourth millennium BC.

Barkan adds that a bronze dagger and flint tools dating 6,000 years ago to the Chalcolithic period were also found at the site.

According to Moshe Ajami, the Tel Aviv district archaeologist at the Israel Antiquities Authority, “The archaeological excavations and documentation of the area will finish today. The site will be approved for development and the research will continue in the laboratories of the Israel Antiquities Authority.”

The post 5,000 year old beer brewing pottery discovered in Israel appeared first on History of the Ancient World.

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Export Licence Application on Sekhemka

It (only) now transpires that Northampton Borough Council sold the Sekhemka statue to an overseas buyer, but while the current owner's identity and location have not been released, Ed Vaizey has placed a temporary export ban on the statue following a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA), which is administered by Arts Council England. It stays in Britain (probably in rich-man's storage somewhere) until 29 July. Still, at least the new owner asked. One suspects certain other people would try to get him out in a shipment of 'garden furniture' or something and other collectors apparently simply do not understand the notion of "export licence".

Here is a statement by the Save Sekhemka Action Group.


Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Republic of Cyprus: Department of Antiquities

Republic of Cyprus: Department of Antiquities
On our website you can find information, both in Greek and English, concerning the history, the mission and the responsibilities of the Department of Antiquities. You can also be informed on the legislative framework that governs the antiquities of Cyprus, the publications of the Department, the educational and european programmes and the excavations that take place on the island as well as the looting of the island's cultural heritage in the occupied part of Cyprus. The site also includes downloadable applications on matters that concern the Department of Antiquities.

The largest part of the website contains information concerning public museums and all visitable ancient monuments and archaeological sites. Apart from the historical and archaeological facts, practical information regarding the opening hours, public holidays and ticket prices are included. The Department of Antiquities' website will be constantly enriched with new information and will include announcements concerning the activities of the Department of Antiquities and other matters related to the archaeology of Cyprus.

Index Page Chronological Table

Minister's Address News

Director's AddressLegislation

Historical BackgroundPublications

Mission/ AuthoritiesAnnual Report

MuseumsDepartment of Antiquities Library

MonumentsEducational Programmes

Unesco MonumentsForeign Archaeological Missions

Archaeological SitesForms

Controlled AreasLooting of Cultural Heritage


Events Calendar

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

Are Your Religious Liberties Being Violated?

Religious Liberties Violated

This chart is based on an article in the Huffington Post by Rev. Emily Heath of the United Church of Christ.  That article deserves to be circulated again in response to the recent laws purporting to defend “religious liberty” but in fact in at least some instances defending the right of people to justify infringing on the liberties of others in the name of religion.

Per Lineam Valli

An Introduction to Hadrian’s Wall


View of Hadrian's Wall near Steel Rigg

Hadrian’s Wall is one of the best-known monuments in Britain. There are many books on the subject, but I felt there was sufficient reason to produce a short introduction that answered many of the questions I get asked when I lead groups along or lecture on the Wall. It is not a profound academic work (but will point you to some that are) and merely rehearses some of the bigger questions, as well as some of the more obscure ones. Although most are indeed questions I have been asked at some time or other, the remainder intrigued me sufficiently when I first started nosing around ‘that famous wall’.

My own connection with Hadrian’s Wall started out reluctantly (it never interested me very much when I first moved up to Newcastle to work on publishing the excavations on the much-more-interesting Roman site at Corbridge). I have excavated on it – in what may well have been the world’s narrowest archaeological trench – in the Roman fort at Rudchester, the origin of my dubious claim to be the only living human being who has touched (scraped knuckles on: it was a very narrow trench) the headquarters building of that fort. I brushed up against the Wall again (figuratively, at least) when I was involved in the original desk-based assessment for the National Trail (which seemed like a daft idea to me at the time). More recently I have led walking tours along the Wall for Andante Travels (thereby disproving my earlier impression), as well as for the occasional academic or learned society. I have walked it, cycled it, driven it, and flown over it (almost always wielding a camera), but I have yet to swim it.


Each question, besides a brief piece of text providing an answer, includes suggestions for further reading. I have not attempted any sort of detailed academic referencing system, but leave it to the reader how much they choose to pursue. Most of the references can be obtained fairly easily and, using secondhand bookshops (particularly via Amazon and Abebooks) and libraries, fairly cheaply and some of the most important – such as Symonds and Mason 2009 – are even available as free downloads (and in such cases I have provided links for them).

Everybody’s Hadrian’s Wall is different. Mine is a wondrous, complex, utterly human, botched job that shows the pragmatic ingenuity and inspiring promise of bottom-up management, and that just happens to traverse some of the most spectacular scenery in the United Kingdom; what’s not to like?

Special thanks are due to Duncan Campbell, Martin Davies, Bill Griffiths, Bill Hubbard, and Lorraine Marlow, all of whom read earlier drafts of this text..

Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

Il tempo e la cura, percorso didattico sulla conservazione e la valorizzazione dei beni culturali

Sensibilizzare i più piccoli ai temi della conservazione e valorizzazione del patrimonio culturale. Con questo obiettivo è stato pensato il laboratorio “Il tempo e la cura”, rivolto alle ultime classi della scuola primaria dell’Istituto comprensivo Calimera-Martignano, organizzato dal progetto di ricerca In-Culture, in collaborazione con il Parco Turistico Palmieri di Martignano.

David Stuart (Maya Decipherment)

Death of the Defeated

The third on the series of La Corona Notes is now posted on Mesoweb. This study focuses on one of the inscribed blocks recently unearthed at the site, bearing new historical details about the life of the famous Calakmul king named Yuknoom Yich’aak K’ahk’ (a.k.a. “Jaguar Paw” or “Jaguar Paw Smoke” in the earlier literature).

Death of the Defeated: New Historical Data on Block 4 of La Corona’s Hieroglyphic Stairway 2

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

FLO Attacks Heritage Action

I assume that the attack of Annie Byard, Oxfordshire FLO on "this site", was on Heritage Action  (rather than Rescue). In reply to the eminently reasonable observation HA made about the so-called "Ebroacum Hoard" of shattered pennies sold by metal detectorists at Spink's, she's banging on about "the detectorists that do waive their right to reward and donate to museums, or donate objects that aren't governed by the treasure act". She then refers to those who think rather less of this phenomenon than she does as "somewhat prejudiced and ill informed". This is typical of the PAS. They refuse to engage with any sensible discussion of a topic, and then shout insults down at the grassroots folk from the top of their ivory tower. "Trolls!", "Prejudiced and Ill-informed!", "Buzz off and leave us alone!". 

"Ill-informed" Heritage Action are not. The only prejudice here seems to be coming from another quarter, if you ask me. The PAS gobble up millions of pounds of public money to liaise with artefact collectors, and you would think we'd be able to get some simple facts and figures out of them about the effects of current policies on portable antiquities after seventeen years of this liaison and partnership.  But that kind of factual interaction seems not to be what Bloomsbury sees to be its function. 

As Heritage Action point out
we aren’t in the PAS game of pretending the majority (in this matter and in the whole of best practice) are well behaved and responsible. They aren’t, and even PAS has conceded that in its published figures. We aren’t apologists for metal detecting and our continuance isn’t dependant upon praising them. Can PAS say the same? “Prejudiced” means taking a particular line in defiance of the evidence. Hasn’t PAS done that for 17 years?

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

Does IU Have the Legal Right to Prohibit Discimination?

I was proud when I read the statement by Butler University’s president Jim Danko about the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”

Butler University open for everyoneWhen I then saw that the president of IU Michael McRobbie had alsod issued a statement, I found myself wondering about it in relation to the law.

The statement says, “we will not tolerate discrimination on the basis of any of these same factors. “

Butler is a private institution, with a religious heritage even if not a religious affiliation. As a legal “person” it may have its rules protected under the RFRA, as expressions of religious convictions.

But IU is a state institution, and I could well see an attempt by IU to enforce non-discrimation to lead to a lawsuit from a student. Indeed, that seems to be the very purpose of the RFRA.

The IU statement then goes on to say, “These are not merely words written in a policy and soon forgotten. These are core values by which every member of the Indiana University community is expected to treat his or her fellow colleagues, students and visitors.”

I would love to hear from legal experts on this. Can’t a student who falls afoul of this policy at IU claim that it is having its religious freedom burdened by the state through IU, and bring a lawsuit which – thanks to the RFRA – might well be successful?

If you haven’t seen it yet, please do watch the video of Governor Mike Pence refusing to answer a direct yes or no question when asked by George Stephanopoulos whether discriminating against gays and lesbians should be legal in Indiana. His refusal to simply answer “no” says it all. If you had any doubts about just how sinister the motivation behind this legislation is, this should make things unambiguously clear. If one is opposed to discrimination, and if a law does not make room for justification of discrimination, it is easy to say so.

Click here to view the embedded video.



Dienekes' Anthropology Blog

Ice age Europeans on the brink of extinction

Ice-age Europeans roamed in small bands of fewer than 30, on brink of extinction
In some cases, small bands of potentially as few as 20 to 30 people could have been moving over very large areas, over the whole of Europe as a single territory, according to Professor Ron Pinhasi, principal investigator on the EU-funded ADNABIOARC project.

This demographic model is based on new evidence that suggests populations were much smaller than is generally thought to be a stable size for healthy reproduction, usually around 500 people. Such small groupings may have led to reduced fitness and even extinctions.

‘As an archaeologist and anthropologist, I was quite shocked to see how limited, how small the population numbers were. You know, shockingly small,’ said Prof. Pinhasi, based at University College Dublin, Ireland.


Prof. Pinhasi’s team has found that the genomes sequenced from hunter-gatherers from Hungary and Switzerland between 14 000 to 7 500 years ago are very close to specimens from Denmark or Sweden from the same period.

These findings suggest that genetic diversity between inhabitants of most of western and central Europe after the ice age was very limited, indicating a major demographic bottleneck triggered by human isolation and extinction during the ice age.

‘We’re starting to be able to reconstruct the actual dynamics of migrations and colonisation of the continent by modern humans and that’s never been done before the genomic era,’ explained Prof. Pinhasi.

He believes that early humans crossed the continent in small groups that were cut off while the ice was at its peak, then successively dispersed and regrouped over thousands of years, with dwindling northern populations invigorated by humans arriving from the south, where the climate was better.

‘You see a real reduction in population numbers and diversity, so you see the few lineages that probably split or separated before the ice age, and then stayed isolated during the ice age,’ he said. ‘Some time after the ice age, they kind of re-emerge, or disperse, and get together, as we see new contributions to European lineages from Asia and in particular the Near East.’
The last couple of statements are interesting because they hint at post-glacial recolonization of Europe after the Ice Age. So far, we are in the dark about what happened in Europe between the time of Kostenki and 8kya. Hopefully another interesting study is on its way to throw some light into the lattter part of this time interval.

Végh Zsuzsanna and Simon Zsolt (Agyagtábla, papirusz)

JNES 74/1 (2015)

A tartalomból:


The Gods Išum and Hendursanga: Night Watchmen and Street-lighting in Babylonia (A. R. George)

Scorpion/Demon: On the Origin of the Mesopotamian Apotropaic Bowl (David Frankfurter)

Interpretative Uses and Abuses of the Beni Hasan Tomb Painting (Susan Cohen)

On the Reading of the Pre-Sargonic Personal Name di-(d)Utu and Related Matters (Piotr Steinkeller)

Accounting for Sick Days: A Scalar Approach to Health and Disease at Deir el-Medina (Anne Austin)

The Identification of H.mrq in Leiden Magical Papyrus I 343 + I 345 in Light of the Eblaite Texts (Noga Ayali-Darshan)

The Enneads of the Central Halls of the Ptolemaic Period: Epigraphic and Iconographic Evidence (Amr Gaber)

Systems of Value and the Changing Perception of Metal Commodities, ca. 4000–2600 bc (Leigh Stork)


Die Wahrsagekunst im Alten Orient. Zeichen des Himmels und der Erde by Stefan M. Maul (Kim Beerden)

Bodies of Knowledge in Ancient Mesopotamia: The Diviners of Late Bronze Age Emar and Their Tablet Collection by Matthew Rutz (Yoram Cohen)

Sennacherib at the Gates of Jerusalem. Story, History and Historiography by Isaac Kalimi; Seth Richardson (Stephanie Dalley)

Nomadism in Iran: From Antiquity to the Modern Era by D. T. Potts (Tobin Hartnell)

Urbanism and Cultural Landscapes in Northeastern Syria: The Tell Hamoukar Survey 1999–2001 by Jason A. Ur (Daniele Morandi Bonacossi)

Luwian Identities. Culture, Language and Religion Between Anatolia and the Aegean by Alice Mouton; Ian Rutherford; Ilya Yakubovich (Annick Payne)

Mobile Pastoralism and the Formation of Near Eastern Civilizations. Weaving Together Society by Anne Porter (Steven A. Rosen)

The Arrows of the Sun. Armed Forces in Sippar in the First Millennium bc by John MacGinnis (Radosław Tarasewicz)

The Archaeology of Cyprus: From Earliest Prehistory through the Bronze Age by A. Bernard Knapp (Nicholas G. Blackwell)

4th Century Karia. Defining a Karian Identity under the Hekatomnids by Olivier Henry (Zsolt Simon)

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

LOST Rewatch: Namaste

The episode begins by returning to Ajira flight 316. We get the perspective of Frank and his co-pilot. Frank manages to land the plane on the runway that in an earlier episode, the Others had made Kate and Sawyer work on. Ben seems to be OK, although the co-pilot is dead and some others are hurt. When Cesar mentions having seen buildings and animal cages, he realizes where he is and heads off. Sun follows him, but soon he is behind her. He says he is heading back to their island, and offers to take her along. Frank catches up with them. The three of them go to where there are hidden outriggers, then Sun knocks Ben out. When they reach the other island, we see the trees move and hear the sound of the smoke monster. They reach the Dharma barracks and hear whispers, then a light gets turned on in one of the barracks, and Christian comes out. Sun asks if he knows where her husband, Jin Kwan, is, and he says to follow him. He finds the photo from 1977 of the new Dharma recruits. Then he adds, “I’m sorry but you have a bit of a journey ahead of you.”

Then it shows us thirty years earlier, the reunion between Sawyer and Hurley, Jack, and Kate. When they ask about the Dharma jumpsuits, Sawyer explains to them that it is 1977. Trying to figure out what to do, Juliette points out that a submarine is due soon, and gets the manifest from Amy.

When Jin hears that Sun was on the plane, he heads off to the Flame to talk to Radzinski, since he would have seen if a plane landed in the island. When a motion sensor is triggered, Jin grabs a gun and runs off, and finds Sayid. But Radzinski gets there too, and so Sayid is apprehended. Radzinski has been building a model of the Swan. He thinks that Sayid is a spy and suggests shooting him. Sawyer gets Sayid to identify himself as a “hostile” so that he won’t be shot. They put him in a cell. Young Ben Linus brings him a sandwich.

Jack gets processed by Pierre Chang. Jack is assigned to janatorial work. Juliette shows up just in time to welcome Kate and bring the revised manifest with her name on it.

The time travel season was a great way of telling a story about the past more fully than could be done through flashbacks, answering questions from earlier seasons while moving the overall story forward, since the past is also in the present experience of the main characters. Very well done.

Of related interest, see the “Lost will and testament” of LOST writer Javier Grillo-Marxuach on the question of whether the writers had the full story in mind from the beginning or were making it up as they went along.


Noel Tan (The Southeast Asian Archaeology Newsblog)

Cambodia offers lessons on antiquities repatriation to China

Cambodia’s recent successes in repatriating a number of Khmer antiquities from the US is of interest to China, because of the recent news of a 1,000 year old statue containing the mummified remains of a monk going on sale in the Netherlands.

Koh Ker warrior, VOA 20120306

Koh Ker warrior, VOA 20120306

Interview: Cambodia shares successful story on repatriation of stolen antiquities
Xinhua, 28 March 2015

Cambodia successfully reclaimed five antiques that were looted by the United States during the country’s civil war, after effective diplomatic and legal work, a senior government official told Xinhua in a recent interview, in which ways other countries may reclaim stolen artifacts was shared.

The five ancient statues, which were looted from Cambodia during the time of the country’s civil war in the 1970s, had been repatriated from the United States to Cambodia between June 2013 and June 2014.

Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Office of the Council of Ministers, which represented the Cambodian government to reclaim the cultural objects, said international law, close cooperation between Cambodia and the United States, and concrete evidence, had led Cambodia to successfully retrieving its looted artifacts.

Full story here.

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Archaeologists discovered previously unknown fortified settlements in Mazury

Unknown fortified settlements from the third century BC have been discovered by archaeologists in...

Noel Tan (The Southeast Asian Archaeology Newsblog)

Indonesian archaeologists discover ancient settlement in West Papua

Archaeologists in West Papua have discovered archaeological remains on a settlement site situated on a strategic location overlooking the Cendrawasih coast. Finds include numerous colonial period artefacts – European and Chinese ceramics. [Many thanks to Hari Suroto, who is also quoted in the article, for the heads up].

Archaeologists working at the Mosandurei  site in West Papua. Source: Tempo 20150329

Archaeologists working at the Mosandurei site in West Papua. Source: Tempo 20150329

Archaeologists Discover Ancient Settlement in Papua
Tempo, 29 March 2015

Archaeologists in Napan District, Nabire Regency, Papua Province, have discovered a Mosandurei site which is an ancient settlement.

“The ancient village Mosandurei was discovered during the process of an archaeological research, said researcher staff of Jayapura Archaeological Station, Hari Suroto, in Jayapura, Papua, on Saturday, March 28, as quoted by Antara News.

According to Suroto, stone tools beads, Chinese ceramic from Ming and Ching Dynasty (XVI-XVII, XVII-XVIII centuries), European ceramic wares, bottles, and earthenware.

“Manufacturer stamps are found on the European ceramics, namely Fregout & Co Saastrusht Dragon Made in Holland and Petrus Regout & Co Maastricht made in Holland,” Suroto added.

Full story here.

Bill Caraher (The New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World)

The Soon and the Summer

I bought by tickets to Greece for next summer and I need to buy my tickets from Athens to Cyprus this week. After a year away from my work on Cyprus to focus on the Western Argolid Regional Project in Greece, I’m going to return to Polis-Chrysochous for a three-week study season starting May 5. Then heading to Greece for almost two months on May 25th or 26th. This all means that planning for the summer has to start now.

First, the next few weeks will prove to be busy, but exciting.

On April 8th-11th, I’ll host Andrew Reinhard and Richard Rothaus on campus for a public showing of the documentary, Atari: Game Over, and an academic round-table on the archaeology of gaming and the contemporary world.

On April 7th, I take a quick trip to Fargo for a dissertation defense. 

On April 18th, I’ll be in at the Mary Jaharis Center in Brookline, MA to participate in a roundtable on “Byzantium in the Public Sphere” and somehow simultaneously at a Man Camp Dialogue presentation in Ellendale.      

Over the same stretch of time, I need to put the finishing touches on two sabbatical projects. One is the final round of revisions on the North Dakota Man Camp Project paper for Historical Archaeology, and the other is a book proposal for the Tourist Guide to the Bakken Oil Patch, which is become a more and more compelling project every passing week. The book proposal is virtually done and I have a meaningful draft of the manuscript in hand. Now all I need to make is a few final touches and pull the trigger. I’m also doing the final revisions on an article for Internet Archaeology on archeological blogging.

At the same time, I’ve been trying to put together the kit of necessary summer gear that has to be ordered and sorted out before the start of May.

1. New Laptop. My three year old 15-inch Dell XPS has finally become unusable thanks to a combination of Windows 8 and some kind of nagging hardware issues. So I have to order a quad-core Dell Precision 15-inch today with 16-gb of ram. 3D image processing takes a tremendous amount of power.

2. New GPS unit. My trusty, 10 year old Garmin Gecko was stolen from my 12-year-old truck this past fall. We used Garmin Oregon 650s this past summer in Greece because we could upload aerial photographs to them and they had 8-megapixel cameras. In turns out that the cameras were not particularly useful and drained the battery. So this summer, I’ll purchase a Garmin 600 which is the same unit without a camera.

3. Camera. I love my Panasonic GX1, but the camera will be going on its third field season and has enjoyed such exotic opportunities as being used in a landfill in a dust storm, being lugged up every elevation in the Western Argolid without a lens cap, and several trips to the froze tundra of North Dakota. My hope is that it survives this summer, but I bought a fall back camera, a Canon ELPH135, which is discontinued and sells for less than $90 on Amazon. It’s nowhere near as good as the Panasonic, but it’s small, cheap, and good enough for a backup camera.

4. Microphone. With my career as a podcaster slowly gaining momentum, I need a small, decent USB microphone. Suggestions? For our podcasts, I’ve used a Blue Yeti, but this is a heavy microphone and I need to save some weight for, you know, three months of clothing.

5. Music. Living away from home for this long of a time is hard on me for a range of reasons (wife, dog, house, other responsibilities), but part of the thing that makes it hard is that I go from being alone most of the time to being surrounding by people most of the time. My escape is listening to music. To facilitate this, I have seriously upgraded my mobile music kit. First, I got a pair of new Audeze EL-8, closed back headphones and a little bird has hinted that I’ll get a new ALO Rx MK3 B+ amplifier which appears to be getting phased out of the ALO line-up and is now available at steeply discounted prices from their warehouse page. The amp is probably overkill for the EL-8s, but I suspect even in single-ended mode (balanced cables are not yet available for the EL-8s) it’ll provide a bit more oomph for the relatively efficient EL-8s as well as the option to move to a balanced set up in the future. 

6. Books. Usually I make a request for summer reading recommendations, but this summer, it looks like the American Journal of Archaeology has that all sorted out for me. I’m going to be working on a review article featuring several new books on the archaeology of the contemporary world and the growing interest in materiality among archaeologists. That being said, I’ll need to track down a few recreational books to read this summer, preferably with spaceships in them. 

Noel Tan (The Southeast Asian Archaeology Newsblog)

Feature on Gua Harimau carries a feature on the Neolithic site of Gua Harimau in South Sumatra. Even if you can’t read Indonesian, it’s worth a visit for the pictures – Gua Harimau is the only known painted rock art site on Sumatra, and it features a number of other prehistoric burials.

Gua Harimau in South Sumatra. Source: Jelajah 20150325

Gua Harimau in South Sumatra. Source: Jelajah 20150325

Keunikan Gua Harimau di Padang Bindu, Sumatera Selatan
Jelajah, 25 March 2015
Article is in Bahasa Indonesia

Dari kota Palembang di Sumatera Selatan rombongan kami bergerak ke baratdaya menuju kota Baturaja. Jarak tempuhnya sekitar 6 jam dengan menggunakan kendaraan beroda empat. Kali ini saya bergabung dengan rombongan para arkeolog dari kota Jakarta, Jambi dan Palembang untuk mengunjungi Gua Harimau di desa Padang Bindu, kecamatan Semidang Aji, kabupaten Baturaja.

Kami bermalam di kota Baturaja dan mulai melanjutkan perjalanan keesokan paginya. Hanya butuh 30 menit kami tiba di desa Padang Bindu, lokasi terdekat dari Gua Harimau. Kendaraan roda empat tak bisa masuk lebih jauh, rombongan harus berjalan kaki. Tapi sebelumnya kami sempatkan membeli makanan dan minuman untuk bekal selama di Gua Harimau. ”Tak ada warung di sana,” begitu kata Agus Sudaryadi, arkeolog asal Jambi, yang kebetulan sekamar dengan saya di hotel.

Full story here.

Blogging Pompeii

News: "Pompei, il nostro orgoglio". Il ministro Franceschini propone visita agli Scavi in occasione di Expo2015

From Napoli:
"Pompei, il nostro orgoglio". Il ministro Franceschini propone visita agli Scavi in occasione di Expo2015

"Pompei è un grande cantiere, è un cantiere perenne. Oggi ci sono 13 cantieri aperti, 9 con gare aggiudicate, è un lavoro straordinario, sono aumentati i visitatori. Bisogna denunciare ciò che non va, ma avere un po' di orgoglio per ciò che va. Spero che Expo sia l'occasione perché anche noi possiamo vedere il nostro Paese con gli occhi stupiti, come i turisti stranieri". Il ministro alla Cultura, Dario Franceschini, intervenendo a Firenze alla iniziativa di Expo parla di Pompei.
Read the full article here.

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Rare medieval artefact goes on display at Museum of London

Archaeologists from MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology) discovered the Thomas, Earl of Lancaster...

Thibaut Castelli (Spartokos a Lu)

Scythians and Greeks.

Minns, E. H. (1913) : Scythians and Greeks. A Survey of Ancient History and Archaeology on the North Coast of the Euxine from the Danube to the Caucasus, Oxford.
C’est un des premiers ouvrages en langue anglaise sur le nord de la Mer Noire. Même s’il est en grande partie dépassé, il est souvent encore souvent cité.

Le livre en ligne

minns couv

ArcheoNet BE

Dead Man Talking: internationaal colloquium Ten Duinen op 21-23 oktober

Van 21 tot 23 oktober organiseert het Abdijmuseum Ten Duinen 1138 in Koksijde zijn zevende internationaal colloquium. Het thema is dit jaar ‘Dead Men Talking. Interdisciplinary research into archaeological burial contexts in Northwest Europe (10th-16th centuries)’. Meer informatie over het colloquium en de ‘call for poster sessions proposals’ vind je op

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Just a year after one of Spain’s most important historical sites, the Altamira cave, was reopened to...

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

Be Next, American Baptists

Pew religions on same-sex marriage

Scot McKnight shared the above infographic. American Baptists ought to have been at the forefront in the fight for marriage equality, given our history. Can we at least be next? Or, in keeping with Baptist principles, can we at least explicitly give each believer and each congregation the freedom to follow the dictates of their conscience on this subject?

Jim Davila (

Reviews of The Dovekeepers

THE DOVEKEEPERS MINISERIES is now playing. Early reviews seem less than wildly enthusiastic. Here are a couple:

Neil Genzlinger, NYT: Review: ‘The Dovekeepers,’ a CBS Mini-Series Starring Cote de Pablo.
The whole enterprise is bathed in a gloss that doesn’t fit the story. The landscape is hot and dusty, but the actors rarely are — even the slaves and soldiers seem immune to sweat and grime, and the women always look as if they just came out of a desert spa. “The Dovekeepers” is aimed at people who might want to see history from something other than a male, generals-and-kings viewpoint but at the same time don’t want it too messy or too real.
(The Bend Bulletin republishes this one with the title A bodice-ripping look at ancient history, which seems to sum the matter up pretty well.)

Brian Lowry, Variety Magazine: TV Review: ‘The Dovekeepers’.
The broadcast networks should be applauded (and even encouraged) for bringing the miniseries back from the brink of extinction and again embracing epic storytelling. But watching “The Dovekeepers” fail to take off merely underscores the difference between anteing up for togas and to lens in Malta and actually producing something with genuine heft.
Background here and links.

Jesus' cross

EASTER STORIES HAVE STARTED AND THE MEDIA ARE ASKING: Was the cross of Jesus made of olive wood or pine?
One of the perplexing realities for archaeologists is a lack of residual wood from the massive record of Roman crucifixion. Despite the fact the Romans killed tens of thousands of people through crucifixion — and as many as 500 a day during the siege of Jerusalem from 66-70 CE — the only piece of evidence connected to this terrible punishment was discovered in 1968, when archaeologists found the heel bone of a crucified man with the nail still intact.

In the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Israel Hershkovitz, who teaches anatomy and archaeology at Tel Aviv University, said that the heel bone of the crucified man was found in a Jewish burial tomb in a northern suburb of Jerusalem, near Golgotha — the hill where the Romans crucified people.

The man, whose ossuary, or burial box, identified him as Yehohanan, was in his mid 20s when he died on the cross. His good teeth and lack of heavy musculature meant that he most likely came from a wealthy family, for most crucifixion victims were far too humble to wind up in tombs –save for Jesus, who was put in one by the wealthy Joseph of Arimathea. Others buried in the same tomb as Yehohanan had connections to the Temple, so it’s possible that he was killed by the Romans for some political transgression.

Yehohanan was cut down from the cross with a 4.5-inch nail still in his right heel bone, and with part of a board still attached to the head of the nail. Hershkovitz believes that the relative shortness of the length of the nail reveals much about Roman crucifixion methods. “The nail was too short (to go through) two heel bones, so sure enough each foot was hammered separately to the cross.”

Hershkovitz is convinced that crosses were not made from olive trees because the people depended on the olive tree for food and wouldn’t be slashing them down to make crosses.

More importantly, for the purpose at hand, they wouldn’t be suitable because of the structure of the tree itself.
From the CNN wire (via Fox News) article "What’s ‘true’ about Jesus’ cross? Duke professor weighs in." The Duke professor is Mark Goodacre, who makes a brief appearance at the end with commentary on the "True Cross" phenomenon.

Regarding the quoted passage, it seems the ancient remains of two crucified men have been found in Jerusalem, not just one. See here and links for posts on both, as well as related matters regarding ancient crucifixion.

EAGLE News: Europeana Network of Ancient Greek and Latin Epigraphy

Ancient History Seminar Series: Digital Classics, Hilary Term 2015

Classics at Oxford have recently included a number of screenings in their classical podcasts that are of great interest to epigraphists.

There’s amongst others Pietro Liuzzo speaking on ‘The Europeana Best Practice Network of Ancient Greek and Latin Epigraphy’, or Gabriel Bodard on digital prosopographies (SNAP:DRGN).




The full list and the podcasts themselves can be viewed here:

Exciting epigraphic videos

A couple of interesting videos resources have been recently released which focus on some of the most important and famous inscriptions.

The first is a film made by a team from the Middle East Technical University in Ankara in 2011 at Oinoanda in northern Lycia, only just released to the public, entitled ‘A Gigantic Jigsaw Puzzle: The Epicurean Inscription of Diogenes of Oinoanda’:



The second is another exciting epigraphic video, albeit a bit older, may be worth watching (again) too,  because it als with one of the longest of all known inscriptions, mostly attested in Asia Minor – Diocletian’s Prices Edict – even if on this occasion, the text is from Geraki in Greece:


Jim Davila (

Masada date palm update

METHUSELAH: Extinct Tree Resurrected from Ancient Seeds is now a Dad (April Holloway, Ancient Origins). Excerpt:
The first leaves were plagued with white spots, which the researchers put down to insufficient nutrients and it was thought that the plant would never survive. But as time progressed, the leaves began to look healthier. In 2011, the plant produced its first flowers and now he has become a father.

“He is over three meters [ten feet] tall, he’s got a few offshoots, he has flowers, and his pollen is good,” [botanical researcher Elaine ] Solowey told National Geographic. “We pollinated a female with his pollen, a wild [modern] female, and yeah, he can make dates.”

Solowey now hopes she will be able to plant an ancient date grove. To do that, she would need to grow a female plant from an ancient seed as a mate for Methuselah, and it’s looking promising – Solowey has managed to sprout a small handful of other date palms from ancient seeds recovered at archaeological sites around the Dead Sea, and at least two of them are female.

Solowey hopes to one day have a whole grove of Judean date palms like this grove of date palms of another species pictured in Spain

“We would know what kind of dates they ate in those days and what they were like,” Solowey said. “That would be very exciting.”
Background here and links.

Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

Prima applicazione della micro-SORS per lo studio di stratigrafie di opere d'arte

Per la prima volta è stata applicata con successo la nuova tecnica analitica non distruttiva micro-SORS allo studio di stratigrafie di opere d'arte. Un team di ricercatori dell'ICVBC-CNR di Milano e del Central Laser Facility, STFC - RAL, Oxfordshire (UK) ha infatti analizzato la composizione di opere d’arte al di sotto della superficie mediante questa tecnica basata su laser, da loro recentemente sviluppata.

Turkish Archaeological News


The ruins of the ancient city of Syedra are located near the most popular Turkish holiday resort of Alanya. They are an excellent proof of a fact that a lot of interesting ruins remain to be discovered in Turkey, even so close to the place where millions of tourists spend their holidays every year.


Paola Arosio and Diego Meozzi (Stone Pages' Archaeonews)

Prehistoric stone tools bear 500,000-year-old animal residue

Professor Ran Barkai and two graduate students from the Tel Aviv University Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures recently confirmed that stone tools found among elephant remains at...

Late Mesolithic finds in the Scottish Borders

During the Scottish Lithic Scatters Project in the 1990s, an early prehistoric site was discovered by Chris Barrowman at Garvald Burn, near Dolphinton, in the Scottish Borders. Subsequent investigation yielded...

Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

Digital Heritage 2015, proroga Call for Papers

E' stata prorogata la scadenza per la presentazione di contributi (paper, worskhop, panel, tutorial) per la Conferenza Internazionale Digital Heritage 2015 in programma a Granada, in Spagna, dal 28 settembre al 2 ottobre 2015. La Conferenza è dedicata al patrimonio culturale digitale, alle nuove tecnologie per la conservazione e valorizzazione dei beni culturali.
Digital Heritage 2015, in collaborazione con le Conferenze e le mostre affiliate che si svolgono sotto una gestione e registrazione comune, invita a partecipare ed a contribuire al secondo forum internazionale per la diffusione e lo scambio delle conoscenze scientifiche d'avanguardia sulle aree teoriche, generiche e applicate del patrimonio digitale.

He has a wife you know

datarep:Age Upon Ascension and Death for Roman Emperors from 27...


Age Upon Ascension and Death for Roman Emperors from 27 BC - 480 AD Along with Causes of Death.

Read More

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

PAS Hitting the Road versus Social Media

An exchange on an Internet near you:
Digger Dan ‏@MetalDetectorUK Mar 21 Facebook needs an ambassador from @findsorguk to encourage people to report finds! I daily see amazing items being posted! 1 retweet 0 favourites
and the response:
Portable Antiquities ‏@findsorguk @MetalDetectorUK we don’t have the resources to dedicate time to every platform I am afraid. Privacy controls also prevent things being seen
This raises two issues, first is if metal detectorists were as "responsible" as people say (the PAS included even though they know it is not true), every time an unrecorded find was posted up on Facebook, a metal detecting forum etc, there would be five posters asking "have you reported/when are you going to report this to the PAS for recording?" The fact is this is very rarely raised by forum members after a "look-wot-i-found-this-weekend-M8s" post. If "responsible" detectorists instead of being merely declaratively responsible really took responsibility for the health of the hobby themselves, there would be no need for a PAS "ambassador", all responsible detectorists would be ambassadors for the responsible hobby and ensure it was kept that way.

The second point is that the reluctance of the PAS to engage with the broader public using the social media is increasingly puzzling. Outreaching to that public is what they are given those resources for.  By the public, for the public. So why are they not using the capabilities of these media to better advantage? The PAS secret blog is secret and seemingly avoids discussing weightier issues raised in other social media, the public blog has deadeningly boring content, the Facebook page desultory, the webpage a dog's dinner.  Most of what they do (Britain's Secret Treasures) is dumb-down show-and-tell in the worst traditions of peasant television and tabloid journalism. When are we going to see some proper and well-conceived use of social media by the PAS potentially to reach thousands of members of the public? Instead, it seems the PAS prefer to spend their resources paying FLOs overtime and expenses to chug around the countryside in their little cars visiting scattered metal detecting clubs and commercial rallies and outreaching to a few dozen tekkies every so often, and in the process maybe get to do a little Treasure-digging themselves.

Hat tip to Nigel Swift

UNESCO calls for the protection of cultural heritage in Yemen

The old city of Sana’a. Photo: UNESCO/Maria Gropa
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) urged combatants not to neglect the protection of Yemen’s cultural heritage in the wake of the human tragedy unfolding in the country and the escalation of armed conflict there :
In a statement, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova urged all parties involved in military operations to preserve the Yemeni cultural heritage. “Experience shows that cultural heritage is never more vulnerable than during times of conflict. It is crucial that all parties refrain from targeting, by shelling or by air strikes, or using for military purposes cultural heritage sites and buildings,” Ms. Bokova called. She emphasized the originality and importance of Yemen’s cultural sites. “The heritage of Yemen is unique, reflecting centuries of Islamic thought, rich exchange and dialogue. I call on the people of Yemen, as well as on countries in the region engaging in military operations in Yemen, to do all they can to protect Yemen’s invaluable cultural heritage.” The Director-General recalled the obligations under international humanitarian law to protect cultural heritage, especially the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

'UNESCO calls for the protection of cultural heritage in Yemen', UN Press Centre
27 March 2015.

Sarah E. Bond

‘Let the Snorter Be Covered in Soot': Ancient Board Game Inscriptions

☩ μὴ θεόμαχος νήων. ☩

☩ ἀσβολόθη ὁ ῥονχάζων. ☩

Let the snorter / be covered in soot!

[MAMA X, 330=PH269278]

Games of chance are never a silent endeavor; however, Romans found it rather uncouth to snort when Fortune was not on your side. A civil person kept their nose silent. There is a strong auditory component to board and card games even today (think about your own favorite cuss words or perhaps a nicely placed ‘yo mama’ joke), just as there was in antiquity. An inscription from late antique Phrygia (4th-5th c. CE) in fact gives us some idea of the insults hurled in the late ancient world. On the edges of a game board adorned with crosses, no less, we have the insult: ‘μὴ θεόμαχος νήων’ (for ναίων), ἀσβολόθη (should be ἠσβολώθη) ὁ ῥονχάζων–essentially, let the snorter go straight to hell. Clearly the crosses were there for protection and luck, and not as a show of a generous Christian spirit.

Right, so why should we care about inscriptions on or around ancient board games? Let me digress for a second to explain how I began to ruminate on these inscriptions and then we shall get, as always, to some semblance of a point. One of the great Roman historians of our time is Nicholas Purcell. While he has many works of staggering genius (particularly his tome with Peregrine Horden, The Corrupting Sea), my favorite piece of his is actually an article titled, “Literate Games: Roman Urban Society and the Game of Alea(1995). What interests me most is Purcell’s thesis that ultimately, “The numerical sophistication of ancient gambling may ultimately be related to the patterns of ancient literacy, and it is one instance of that that this article hopes to elucidate” (4). The intricacy of the game, the labels, and the surrounding inscriptions can perhaps all work together to tell us a little about how Greeks and Romans interacted with texts on a daily basis–even if we might consider many of these individuals largely illiterate today.

A 3rd c. CE mosaic of men playing on a tabula (El Djem, Tunisia).

A 3rd c. CE mosaic of men playing on a tabula (El Djem, Tunisia). Photo: AKG. 

Purcell begins by discussing the origins of the game of alea, the popular game of dice played in antiquity. It is this game that is alluded to in the famous ‘Alea iacta est’ statement attributed by Suetonius (actually as ‘iacta alea est‘) to Caesar crossing the Rubicon in 49 BCE. The die are cast; in other words, the dice have been rolled and cannot be undone. Isidore of Seville (18.60) notes that during periods of boredom in the Trojan War, games were used to fill the time. It was a long war, after all. The game of dicing on a tabula (game board) was invented then and later called alea. Most people attributed it to Palamedes, though Isidore thought it was due to a soldier named Alea.

Inscriptions indicate a great deal about Roman games and give us insight into how text and ludic activity were combined. A famous board from the forum of Timgad, for instance, gives us an idea of fun pastimes in and around the city: ‘venari lavari / ludere ridere / (h)oc{c} est / vivere': ‘to hunt, to bath, to play, to laugh — This is to live!’ (CIL VIII, 17938). Not so different from today, I’d say. Such tabulae were common on roads, on old statue bases, and in various other areas around the city. As a result, gambling, crowds, and popular interactions within cities come into clearer focus. They are interactive boundary zones for social historians to reflect on in order to be able to reconstruct movements within ancient cities.

Inscription on the board at Timgad.

Inscription on the board at Timgad. CIL VIII, 17938.

Games boards carried more than curses and aphorisms, they could also transmit dedications. A number of inscriptions from Aphrodisias in Asia Minor tells us about a local official named Flavius Photius, who in the fifth/sixth century CE dedicated games boards within the city and noted ‘☩☩ἐπὶ Φλ(αβίου) Φωτίου σχο(λαστικοῦ) κ(αὶ) πατρ(όσ) ☩': ‘Under Flavius Photius, scholasticus and pater.’ trans. Roueché. Dedicating a game board would certainly get your name out there and perhaps curry more appreciation than a statue among a certain sect.

Late antique game board from Aphrodisias dedicated by Flavius Photius. Photo via Aphrodisias in Late Antiquity.

Late antique game board from Aphrodisias dedicated by Flavius Photius. Photo via Aphrodisias in Late Antiquity. no.238.


As Purcell notes (21), graffiti also attest to the exuberance people felt when they won at a game of alea. This was an exuberance often communicated with writing. At Pompeii (CIL IV, 2119), an individual boasts that at Nuceria, he had won 855 1/2 denarii while playing the game (‘Vici Nuceriae / in al<e=I>a |(denarios) DCCCLV s(emis) / fide bona). But winners means there were losers, and often people lost both money and dignity. This fact is also reflected in these boards. One from Numidia reads: ‘Invida punct[a] / iubent felice / ludere doctum’ (CIL VIII 7998). The rich and the poor depended on luck in the game of dice, and thus encouragement was often needed. A well-known inscription from a German dice pot has the inscribed words: ‘Pictos victos hostis deleta ludite securi‘: ‘The Picts defeated, the enemy wiped out; play without fear.’ trans. Purcell (26).

Board games were indubitably a big part of Roman life, but as Purcell encourages us to, we should consider what the inscriptions tell us as well. The game in many ways was a mirror for Greco-Roman cultural traditions, interactions, and expressions. These boards were embedded in the public and private spaces of many Mediterranean cities, and the scribbles and inscriptions in and around them attest to the importance of such activities within ancient culture–and help us reconstruct more than a few profane words likely yelled out during a heated game of dice.


The Vettweiss-Froitzheim Dice Tower (4th c. CE). Image via Wikimedia.

All Mesopotamia

archaicwonder:Assyrian Jewelry Chain (Grave Goods), from Ashur,...


Assyrian Jewelry Chain (Grave Goods), from Ashur, Middle Assyrian Period, c. 14th-13th Century BC

Currently located in the Vorderasiatisches Museum, Berlin.

The ancient site of Ashur, dating to the 3rd millennium BC, is located on the Tigris River in northern Mesopotamia. It was the first capital of the Assyrian Empire and remained so from the 14th to the 9th century BC until the reign of the Neo-Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II (883-859 BC), who moved the capital to Kalhu (modern Nimrud). The city survived the fall of the Assyrian empire in the 7th century BC, and it flourished again in the Hellenistic and Parthian periods until the 2nd century AD.

Ashur also served as the religious capital of the Assyrians, named after Ashur, the head of the Assyrian pantheon in Mesopotamian religion. He was the Mesopotamian equivalent of the Babylonian god Marduk.

A map & more about Ashur…

March 29, 2015

Archaeology Briefs


To the Editor:

Re “Race to Record and Shield Art Falling to ISIS” (front page, March 9):

The Islamic State has caused irreparable harm to the cultural heritage of Iraq, and, indeed, that of the world, through the destruction of the ancient Assyrian capital of Nimrud, Assyrian sculptures at Nineveh and archaeological works of art in the Mosul Museum and elsewhere. Our institutions have released a joint statement deploring these heinous acts.

Iraq is one of the birthplaces of human civilization. Damage to its cultural heritage through wanton destruction of archaeological sites and artifacts, as well as looting and trade in archaeological materials, is reprehensible and shows a blatant disregard for our shared humanity. Tolerance of these acts can only lead to further losses of a similar or even greater magnitude.

As difficult as it is in these troubled times, we join in calling on international authorities to do what they can to protect the world’s archaeological and cultural materials. We also call on museums and the global archaeological community to alert the appropriate international authorities if they believe they have information regarding objects recently stolen from Nimrud, Mosul and elsewhere in the conflict zone of northern Iraq and Syria.

We support the efforts of the legitimate antiquities authorities in the region to mitigate the damage to the archaeological and historic heritage. We pledge to augment our efforts to educate the wider public about the significance of this heritage to humankind. Only through greater understanding of the value of this legacy for modern societies can we hope to stem these terrible losses.

Archaeological Institute of America

The letter was also signed by leaders of the Society for American Archaeology, the Association of Art Museum Directors, American Schools of Oriental Research, the American Anthropological Association and the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.


Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria have stepped up their war on the region’s cultural heritage, attacking archaeological sites with bulldozers and explosives.

The so-called Islamic State (commonly known as ISIS) now controls large stretches of northern and western Iraq, and there's little to stop its militants from plundering and destroying sites in a region known as the cradle of civilization.

And last week the Iraqi Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities announced that members of ISIS had damaged the ruins of ancient cities dating back thousands of years, including a trio of Assyrian cities and the Roman-era metropolis of Hatra, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Meanwhile in Syria, the country's civil war has done tremendous damage, killing close to 200,000 and leaving millions more homeless. ISIS is just one of many factions fighting for control of the country, but it has encouraged looting as a moneymaking venture. Sites in Syria's eastern provinces, known to be ISIS strongholds, have been particularly hard-hit by looters.


The revolution in Libya four years ago toppled Muammar Qaddafi. It also led to hopes for a cultural revolution. But violence has increased, any cultural revolution is on hold, and Libya’s world-renowned archaeological sites—as well as its scientists—need protection. That’s the conclusion of Savino di Lernia, director of the Archaeological Mission in the Sahara at the Sapienza University of Rome. He made his points in a commentary in the journal Nature. [Savino di Lernia, Cultural heritage: Save Libyan archaeology]

Di Lernia has worked in Libya since 1990, studying, for example, 9,000-year-old wall art that depicts crocodiles and cattle. In addition to the activities of indigenous people, the country’s archaeological sites hold artifacts from ancient Greek and Phoenician cultures.

But the unrest has stopped work on these archaeological treasures. The fighting has damaged historic mosques and tombs, and relics are being trafficked out of the country, both for profit and to support radical groups.

Di Lernia argues that international groups should fund local research and continue training Libyan scientists in the hopes of a resumption of the cross-cultural exchanges and scientific training that had been going before the violence. Allowing Libyan archaeology to die would be, he says, quote, “a missed opportunity for a generation of young Libyan archaeologists — and a tragedy for the safeguarding of monuments and sites of universal and outstanding value.”


A new book, by anthropologist, Pat Shipman, “The Invaders“, argues that humans and their dogs drove Neanderthals to extinction.

She presents evidence that homo sapiens, who arrived in northern Europe 40,000 years ago, formed a partnership with wolves, which they domesticated into “wolf dogs.” The skeletal remains of these animals differ from those of both wolves, and the dogs that would come along later in history.

She says the wolf-dog helped early humans to hunt, turning them into super predators that dominated their environment. Ms. Shipman says humans thus became an “invasive species,” and drove the dog-less Neanderthals to extinction.


Neanderthals may have used the talons of white-tailed eagles to make jewelry 130,000 years ago, long before the appearance of modern humans in Europe, according to a new study published in PLOS One.

At an archaeological site in Croatia, researchers discovered the talons with notches and abrasions suggesting they had been made into necklaces or bracelets. Eagle talons may have had symbolic value to Neanderthals, the researchers said.


Archaeologists surveying the waterways of suburban Seattle (Washington, USA) have discovered an ancient tool-making site dating back more than 10,000 years. The find includes thousands of stone flakes, an array of bifaces, scrapers, and hammerstones, plus several projectile points.

The site was discovered along a creek in Redmond, Washington, under a layer of peat that was radiocarbon dated to about 10,000 years ago. And in the layer with the artifacts were burned bits of willow, poplar, and pine, which were themselves dated between 10,000 and 12,500 years ago. Together, these materials frame a period of prehistory in coastal Washington which archaeologists have not been able to explore before.

Dr. Robert Kopperl, from the firm SWCA Environmental Consultants, and his colleagues first made the find in 2008 while surveying a waterway known as Bear Creek. Initial work turned up some stone artifacts above the layer of peat, which was carbon dated between 8,000 and 10,000 years old. "when we did our 2009 test excavations, all of the artifacts we found were below that peat instead of above the peat, indicating that they pre-dated 10,000 years before the present," saud Kopperl.

Once they picked up traces of human habitation older than any other found in the region, the researchers hoped to encounter artifacts that had never been found there before. "We found two projectile point fragments that were concave-based - something not seen at any time in the local projectile point sequence," said Kopperl.

As for the lifeways of the people who made and used these tools ten millennia ago, the clues are scant. Residue analysis of several fragments, for instance, turned up traces of plants like beeweed, and proteins from bear, bison, deer, sheep, and salmon. Beyond that, there's not much context to draw on in western Washington, Kopperl said, because no other artifacts have been found that date this far back in time.

Edited from Western Digs (18 March 2015)
[2 images]


A new study by Benjamin A. Black and colleagues tests if the Campanian Ignimbrite (CI) eruption in Italy 40,000 years ago contributed to the final extinction of the Neanderthals. The event was one of the largest volcanic cataclysms in Europe and injected a significant amount of sulfur-dioxide (SO2) into the stratosphere.

Black and colleagues point out that the decline of Neanderthals in Europe began well before the CI eruption: Radiocarbon dating has shown that at the time of the CI eruption, anatomically modern humans had already arrived in Europe, and the range of Neanderthals had steadily diminished. Work at five sites in the Mediterranean indicates that anatomically modern humans were established in these locations by then as well."

However, the abrupt cold spell that followed the eruption would still have significantly impacted day-to-day life for Neanderthals and early humans in Europe. Black and colleagues point out that temperatures in Western Europe would have decreased by an average of 2 to 4 degrees Celsius during the year following the eruption. These unusual conditions, they write, may have directly influenced survival and day-to-day life for Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans alike, and emphasize the resilience of anatomically modern humans in the face of abrupt and adverse changes in the environment.

Edited from EurekAlert! (20 March 2015)
[1 map]

The Egyptiana Emporium

Egyptomania #1

The first post for a new feature which will bring you a glimpse of our obsession with ancient Egypt from the nineteenth century to the present day.

Today’s post takes a look at some of the many artistic tourism posters that were popular from the 1920s to the the 1950s.

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Mary Beard (A Don's Life)

On not managing Lent


I am going to confess before I am rumbled that I have not managed more that half Lent this year. That is I guess three weeks. There is no real excuse, I do admit. But to be honest abstinence did not fit in any way with the end of the book.

I am now on Chapter 10 and so really am on the home straight. But Chapter 9 was one hell of a struggle. It covers the death of Caesar to the death of Augustus, on which I have a lot of ideas. But it is amazing how easy it is to become boring about Augustus. I found myself writing a few pages one day, then looking at them in the evening or the next day and facing the awful truth that they were just boring.

Now I dont for one minute imagine that every page of a history of Rome should be a sparky, witty, up front read. Far from it. There is some tough stuff which it would be dishonest to pretend otherwise was tough. But that isn't quite the same as being boring. I mean the army reforms of Augustus are crucial and revolutionary. They nationalise the Roman army for the first time ever... but they do need to "sing" as well as giving the facts. Why is this so revolutionary etc? Why should you bothered to be interested?

Anyway, to be honest the absence of alcohol did get to be counterproductive. If I had a good day, I tended to go on working till 2.00 in the morning, getter tireder but not sleepy, and generally less productive in any way. If I had a bad day, I got crosser and crosser, still stayed up all night and then went to bed (I am told) muttering about the chapter all night, in the the wee small hours 

Eventually the husband pointed out that, much as he shared our desire to abstain for 6 weeks for all the obvious reasons, it may be counter productive when finishing a book. Or, frankly, if he had to live with me during this struggle, and not a drop to be consumed, it might .. well ... be difficult.

So after three weeks of not a dropI bought myself off, and will take a couple of weeks off the demon when the book is finished.

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

Carnival is Coming

Phil Long shared a call for contributions to the next Biblical Studies Carnival, which will be on the blog Pursuing Veritas, which is new to me. Click through for more details about how to submit a post for this carnival, and where upcoming carnivals are scheduled to me.


Geoff Carter (Theoretical Structural Archaeology)

The Northern Frontier; lilies, Latin, and illiteracy

Some readers, new to archaeology, particularly students like those on MOOC courses, discover that the evidence based arguments about Roman Military archaeology found on this blog , are not well received by their tutors.  It is important to understand that many academics can only understand archaeology when it is written down, having no experience of real archaeological interpretation. As a result, the text of an archaeological report, rather than the evidence can become an article of faith, and ideas become embedded at a fundamental level, immovable objects, that actual serve to inhibit understand in the subject.
Ideas developed around the evidence for a primary timber phase of Hadrian's Wall, based on the reevaluating archaeological evidence from an engineering point of view, have produced the only cohesive, coherent, and consistent account of the early phases of the Wall. [here]  However, while this blog may give the readers the arguments to deconstruct existing ideas, that is not the name of the game.
Disappointingly, for students, it is a game, a bit like Chess, only more expensive, in that the board and its pieces are fixed, you may not bring in pieces from other games or remove any existing pieces; the object is to remove the pieces from the box and arrange them in the correct order, going beyond this and start making moves is to lose.
It is not just using the evidence, but arguments about the engineering of timber structures is also going to get a chilly reaction; what cuts ice in Roman studies is Latin.
Canis Latinicus
Probably, as a result of Christianity, Latin has been central to a traditional education, with Roman texts and inscriptions, despite their scarcity, having a dominant influence on our understanding of our early history, into which archaeology has often had to be fitted.   Any academic study is accretion of ideas, and the Wall got off to bad start when the Venerable Bede christened The Vallum, so let’s be clear;
Vallum; noun; a rampart; a wall, as in a fortification; from vallus (“stake, palisade, point”). [2]
The Timber Wall phase was a vallum, but thanks to Bede's hijacking of the word, I can’t use the word in its proper context, and as politicians know, what things are called does matter, it can affect the whole way we conceive of the past. Thus, while most authorities are agreed that it is not defensive in nature, they have retained the idea of a boundary, however irrational, and although it has all the characteristics of a cutting for a road bed, this is a perceptual shift too far.
One thing sources like the writings of Caesar make clear, the Roman Army was very rational, and it is the lesson of history that warfare is successfully prosecuted through intelligent actions.  However, many of the ideas and interpretations put forward to explain archaeology like The Vallum imply that the Romans were behaving irrationally, with complete disregard for the basics of engineering or military strategy.  Similarly, we must be prepared to accept that their enemies were similarly dysfunctional and inept in the practice of warfare
This is particularly true of the explanations put forward to explain the arrays double postholes dug by the roman army, variously described as Lilia, at Rough Castle  and  cippi or "defensive pits" found on the berm behind the ditch of both the Antonine and Hadrian's walls. [3]  
As I have discussed in some detail previously, [here], in his account of the siege of Alesia, Caesar describes additional obstacles constructed by his troops beyond his main ramparts and ditches [Caes. Gal.7.73],[4] as follows.
Cippi is term used to describe an entanglement formed by embedding branches or logs with limbs still attached in a series of 5 foot deep trenches.[5]
A Lilia was a concealed tapering circular hole, about the size of man’s foot, in which a sharpened stake firmly embedded; [Shaped like a lily flower].
Neither of these terms matches in any way the nature of archaeological features to which they have been ascribed.  
From the context, lilia and cippi are clearly soldiers’ slang, a bit of black humour Caesar is sharing with his readers, and their significance to the narrative is that helped break up a Gaulish night attack discussed in a subsequent chapter, [Caes. Gal. 7.82].
However, because they were central to way the Roman army campaigned, there are dozens of references to ramparts and other timber structures in Caesar’s writings which provide a perfectly rational explanation of such features.  In addition, Trajan’s column provides more contemporary illustrations of the nature timber structures built by his troops during the Dacian Wars (101–102, 105–106). [illustrated; those with grey borders have enhanced colouring of relevant detail]
Rough Archaeology - lilia
The large rectangular pits at Rough Castle [left], commonly referred to as Lilia, are the wrong size and shape - unless the enemy was wearing huge oversized clown shoes!
I have already suggested on the basis of reverse engineering that these postholes can be modelled as a form of timber strongpoint or redoubt. [here]   Such as structure could have a solid timber base becoming progressively hollower towards the top; entry could be by a narrow passages sloping passages.  
It could be argued on the basis of comparison with the watchtowers, which would be based on suitable timber, that 40-50 feet is not unreasonable as a starting point for the height of such a structure, but the army excelled at building tall structures.  [It has been suggested that this structure on Trajan's Column could be a large stack of wood for a beacon]. 
This type of assembly would form a good basis for improvising structures as required.
As with the modelling of the timber wall, the starting point is the primary evidence, and the precise position of posts represented by the features recorded in plan and section. It is the aim of this approach that the arguments embodied in model should be strong enough in their own right to make a case, without reference to other material. This ensures that new ideas can emerge about the engineering of ancient structures, allowing for interpretation rather than simple comparison, in contrast to text based archaeological research. 
In earlier periods supporting or corroborative evidence is not available, but written sources and illustrations are available in the Roman period, which although distinct and secondary to the archaeology, do help support the structural principles embodied in the model.
A watchtower and other structures on the frontier, part of the first scene at the base of Trajan's Column 
It is clear from the writings of Caesar that the Romans built fortifications in the field which are distinct from camps. 
The word that is used in the text is; 
castellum: a castle, fort, citadel, fortress, stronghold. [6]
It occurs in a variety of different situations, including as a description of native positions, [Caes. Gal. 2.28/29/32; 3.1],  and translators use a variety of english words depending on the context.
At the beginning of the Gallic wars Caesar builds an 18 mile, 16 foot tall rampart with a ditch to prevent the Helvetii invading the territory of Sequani.
When that work was finished, he distributes garrisons, and closely fortifies redoubts, in order that he may the more easily intercept them, if they should attempt to cross over against his will.
[Caes. Gal. 1.8]
An interesting reference comes in Book II where he digs ditches on the flanks of his army with “forts” to help prevent his army being outflanked. 
….on either side of that hill he drew a cross trench of about four hundred paces, and at the extremities of that trench built forts, and placed there his military engines…
[Caes. Gal.2.8]
This suggests something district from a typical fort in the sense of fortified camp, used as a base for artillery, perhaps the same is true of the for the “fort” commanded by Titurius built to guard a bridge, [Caes. Gal.2.9]. Another clear distinction comes during the siege of Alesia.
The circuit of that fortification, which was commenced by the Romans, comprised eleven miles. The camp was pitched in a strong position, and twenty-three redoubts were raised in it, in which sentinels were placed by day, lest any sally should be made suddenly; and by night the same were occupied by watches and strong guards. 
[Caes. Gal.7.69], 
These "redoubts" are distinct from camps and the main fortifications, but are clearly capable of housing significant numbers of troops, as is clear from their role during the climatic battles to break the siege.
But Marcus Antonius, and Caius Trebonius, the lieutenants, to whom the defense of these parts had been allotted, draughted troops from the redoubts which were more remote, and sent them to aid our troops, in whatever direction they understood that they were hard pressed.
Caes. Gal.7.81]
After renewing the action, and repulsing the enemy, he marches in the direction in which he had sent Labienus, drafts four cohorts from the nearest redoubt, and orders part of the cavalry to follow him,
[Caes. Gal.7.87] 
Later in the campaign in Gaul during initial siege of Uxellodunum by Caninius, he distributes his troops in strong points, having insufficient forces to completely surround the town. 
Sometimes also attacks were made on our little forts by sallies at night. For this reason Caninius deferred drawing his works round the whole town, lest he should be unable to protect them when completed, or by disposing his garrisons in several places, should make them too weak.
[Caes. Gal. 8.34]
Caninius instantly with the ready-armed cohorts from the nearest turrets made an attack on the convoy at the break of day
[Caes. Gal. 8.35]
As at Alesia, we see numbers of troops can be housed in these particular installations which seem to be distinct from our traditional view of Roman camps and forts. Although the basic construction method may have been similar, to that used to build ramparts.

Further linguistic pitfalls
Everywhere archaeologists have looked in recent years, lines of double postholes have been found behind the ditches on both the  Hadrianic and the Antonine frontier, from which is possible to reverse engineer a timber rampart.   I have argued that these features represent a core of posts around which layers of horizontal timbers were knitted.  While it is not a primary consideration, as this is deductive reasoning, it is also entirely consistent with other sources of information about military architecture. 
The key feature of these types of structure is the use of double post pits; it might be assumed this is the simplest and quickest method of construction for soldiers working in small teams, whose principle tool was a similar to a mattock [lingo / dolabra].
I have already drawn attention to the regular layout of these features, although, notwithstanding they have been robbed, the variation in size suggests that they were also dug to suit individual pieces of timber.
In Vitruvius we find a description of how to build a Ballista; the key information is given as proportions; scale is a matter of circumstances.[7]   It has certainly been a working hypothesis that the engineering of this type of structure would be based around a measured systems or modules.
While it would be useful for understand this system, the existing sample represents a rather small disparate set of data. In addition, since most of the structure is invisible to archaeology, we cannot be sure of the significance of what can measure. 
The only consistency is in having three rows; although it might perceive that the outer lines of pits should be paralleled with the inner one offset, this does not apply at Shields Road. This variation is probably not a concern, since we have a tiny sample of a very large structure built by many hands, although unlike the stone Wall, I would suggest that this was completed in one season, possibly AD 119.[8]
Shields road is the largest sample, but only the western bit is regular the next section is very different; in the space of 11 outer pits there are 18 along the middle. I think it likely that other postholes visible on the photographs may also be part of structure.
At Buddle St, I am still uncertain if there are any double posts in this section, and this requires further work with the achieve.  It is a unique situation; it is my understanding that there was already a road in existence running north from the river were presumable there was a dock, and perhaps even some form of ferry.  This section was attached to a gatehouse structure, blocking the road, to the west of the road there is few metres of more conventional looking postholes.  
The recently published section at Melbourne Street [9] is very similar to Garnhall on the Antonine Wall [10], in that it is formed by three parallel rows.  This section is  distorted; however, they appear to have dug into a stream bed which has been heavily piled in modern times.   
Thus, it is appears that while these structures have been laid out with some degree of precision, the variation and sample size makes this merely an interesting observation.

You pays your money.... 
Theoretical structural archaeology was developed as a methodology to study timber structures, predominantly those represented by postholes, since this is usually all that remains of the built environment.  It is based on the idea that structures are rational, the product of mechanics, and can be understood on this level via a process of reverse engineering by model building.  It is not derived from consideration of the existing narrative, but from an investigation of the primary evidence.  While this approach was intended to deal with the problems of Prehistoric evidence, it works just as well, if not better, with Roman material, where we understand the context and technical culture in greater depth.  
The writings of Caesar are a fabulous survival which I have used them extensively to contextualise the archaeological evidence; there are over 40 passages relating to military engineering using timber for fortifications.  However, for reasons that are not entirely clear, one passage [5] has dominated thinking about this group of features, and become a prodigious source of bunkum, but more significantly, has hobbled the study of the Wall.
While written language is important, there is another sort of literacy, that professionals often require, visual literacy, usually a specialised sort, like being able to read drawings, diagrams, or x-rays.  A lack of appropriate visual literacy among academics and teacher results in dependence on texts, and research that merely rehashes exiting literature.  What is damaging for Archaeology as a professional, is that teachers, since they cannot see and hence think like an archaeologist, can only reproduce an academic reading skill set in their students.   
It is also disappointing to discover that archaeologists tend to find what they are looking for, but in reality, that is often why they are digging. Honourable mention must go to the Turf wall is this context, which in the previous article I demonstrated is consistent with it being a timber rampart, the only evidence of turf is in the name. [here]    
Interpretations like the Rough Castle “Lilia”, “cipi”, and even the “Turf” Wall, demonstrates that “peer review” engenders both a suspension of disbelief and critical thinking that can turn archaeology into self-referential faith based study. Specialised areas of study become can easily become debased and politicised when the existing narrative becomes compromised by unfounded but “peer-reviewed” ideas which have to be fitted in.
A watchtower and other structures on the frontier, part of the first scene at the base of Trajan's Column
The use of CAD modelling further exacerbates these problems, in that, it cannot be easily peer reviewed, it represents deductive reasoning which falls outside the scope of existing scholarship, and challenges the primacy of written word.
The existing system can happily ignore evidence that does not suit its purpose, but problems arise when people, new to archaeology, find these ideas and understand them, only to find out they ought to be “reading more widely”.
While students may be in pursuit of understanding, institutions are in pursuit of fees, garnered for the minimum of effort; knowledge is not understanding, it is just another commodity; do not tamper with the packaging, it will invalidate your guarantee;  caveat emptor.

Sources and further reading.

[1]   [from 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary],
[2] Bidwell, P T, 2005 'The system of obstacles on Hadrian's Wall; their extent, date and purpose', Arbeia J, 8, 53-76.
Grey literature: Shields Road, Newcastle, Phase 2b, archaeological excavation. TWM archaeology 10/2006
Bidwell, Paul T.; Watson, Moira. 1989 'A Trial Excavation on Hadrian's Wall at Buddle Street, Wallsend'. Archaeologia Aeliana, 5th ser., 17 (1989), 21-28.
T. Frain, J. McKelvey & P. Bidwell 2005 Excavations and watching brief along the berm of Hadrian’s Wall at Throckley, Newcastle upon Tyne, in 2001-2002. Arbeia J, 8 
Grey literature; Throckley, Newcastle upon Tyne, archaeological excavation and watching brief. TWM Archaeology 12/2003
Platell, A. C.:  Excavations on Hadrian's Wall at Melbourne Street, Newcastle upon Tyne. 5th Series, vol 41, 185–206
Woolliscroft, D.J., Excavations at Garnhall on the line of the Antonine Wall., Proc Soc Antiq Scot 138 (2008), 129–176
[3] Caius Julius Caesar "De Bello Gallico" and Other Commentaries English translation by W. A. MacDevitt, introduction by Thomas De Quincey (1915)
[4] Cip´pus n. 1. A small, low pillar,square or round, commonly having an inscription, used by the ancients for various purposes, as for indicating the distances of places, for a landmark, for sepulchral inscriptions, etc. Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, published 1913 by C. & G. Merriam Co
 [5] It was necessary, at one and the same time, to procure timber [for the rampart], lay in supplies of corn, and raise also extensive fortifications, and the available troops were in consequence of this reduced in number, since they used to advance to some distance from the camp, and sometimes the Gauls endeavoured to attack our works, and to make a sally from the town by several gates and in great force. Caesar thought that further additions should be made to these works, in order that the fortifications might be defensible by a small number of soldiers. Having, therefore, cut down the trunks of trees or very thick branches, and having stripped their tops of the bark, and sharpened them into a point, he drew a continued trench everywhere five feet deep. These stakes being sunk into this trench, and fastened firmly at the bottom, to prevent the possibility of their being torn up, had their branches only projecting from the ground. There were five rows in connection with, and intersecting each other; and whoever entered within them were likely to impale themselves on very sharp stakes. The soldiers called these "cippi." Before these, which were arranged in oblique rows in the form of a quincunx, pits three feet deep were dug, which gradually diminished in depth to the bottom. In these pits tapering stakes, of the thickness of a man's thigh; sharpened at the top and hardened in the fire, were sunk in such a manner as to project from the ground not more than four inches; at the same time for the purpose of giving them strength and stability, they were each filled with trampled clay to the height of one foot from the bottom: the rest of the pit was covered over with osiers and twigs, to conceal the deceit. Eight rows of this kind were dug, and were three feet distant from each other. They called this a lily from its resemblance to that flower. Stakes a foot long, with iron hooks attached to them, were entirely sunk in the ground before these, and were planted in every place at small intervals; these they called spurs.
Caius Julius Caesar "De Bello Gallico" 7. 73
[6 ]Lewis, Charlton, T. An Elementary Latin Dictionary. New York, Cincinnati, and Chicago. American Book Company. 1890.
[7] Marcus Vitruvius Pollio: de Architectura, Book X .10, 11
[8] Graafstal, Erik P.: 2012,   Hadrian's haste: a priority programme for the Wall. Archaeologia Aeliana, 5th Series, vol 41, 123–84
[9] Platell, A. C.:  Excavations on Hadrian's Wall at Melbourne Street, Newcastle upon Tyne. 5th Series, vol 41, 185–206
[10] Woolliscroft, D.J., Excavations at Garnhall on the line of the Antonine Wall., Proc Soc Antiq Scot 138 (2008), 129–176

Jona Lendering (New at LacusCurtius and Livius.Org)

Heroes: Angelo Poliziano

Ghirlandaio's portrait of Poliziano

Ghirlandaio’s portrait of Poliziano

There’s a lot to say about Angelo Ambrogini. Some biographical details first. Born in 1454 in the wine city of Montepulciano, and therefore nicknamed “Poliziano”, he became a student of Marsilio Ficino, one of the great philosophers of the Renaissance and a courtier of the Medici family. Poliziano remained in this city and was one of the teachers in the Florentine Academy until his death in 1494. Although he had many students, he was able to publish the poems of Catullus, translate parts of the Iliad, and publish all kinds of observations on the ancient texts.

In fact, he created a new way to write about classical poetry and prose. Until then, scholars had offered commentaries on the ancient texts, line by line, section by section, chapter by chapter. Poliziano jumped from one text to another, without much system. We might call his writings “essays”, although he himself likened his mixed bag to the Attic Nights of Aulus Gellius.

[Read more on the website of Ancient History Magazine]

Ancient Peoples

Glass claw beaker. 16.3 cm (height) x 9.3 cm...

Glass claw beaker. 16.3 cm (height) x 9.3 cm (diameter). c. 6th Century AD. Littlebourne, Kent, England.

(Source: British Museum)

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

Redemption in Star Wars and Christianity

Ewoks unforgivable

The above cartoon from Pictorial Theology raises interesting questions (even if I disagree with what it says, especially with regard to Ewoks).

On the one hand, the message of cheap grace that is popular in much contemporary Christianity is profoundly unbiblical. Paul, supposedly the greatest proponent of this message, asked the Corinthians Christians, “You know that wicked people will not inherit the kingdom of God, don’t you? Stop deceiving yourselves!”

On the other hand, to the extent that redemption – genuine change, turning one’s life around – is an emphasis of Christianity, isn’t it portrayed well on Star Wars? Or could nothing Anakin Skywalker did make up for his earlier sins?

This is a subject I’ve explored on this blog before, and so please do visit some of my earlier posts on the subject, such as: Redemption in Science FictionSaint Vader, and Darth Jesus.

I suspect that there are people who will be moved by one or the other – Darth Vader’s turnaround but not that of the thief on the cross, or vice versa. It would be interesting to hear whether those who feel as they do can articulate clearly the reason for their viewpoint.



Ancient Peoples

Gold ring with raised octagonal bezel containing a chi-rho, a...

Gold ring with raised octagonal bezel containing a chi-rho, a tree, and a bird. 21mm interior diameter, 27.55 grammes weight. 4th Century. Suffolk, England.

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

John the Baptist’s Bones, Serapion, and the Mandaeans

As a result of the episode of the CNN series Finding Jesus which focused on John the Baptist, significant attention is being paid to bones which are supposedly his, and genetic testing of which has suggested they belong to a first-century Middle Eastern man.

See  Tony Burke’s earlier post about Serapion’s “Life of John the Baptist” and now also his follow-up post about the CNN episode. I’m not sure what precise tests are supposed to have been done or how they are supposed to have determined not just the ancestry but the time from which the individual whose bones they are came. But Tony’s more recent post points out some issues with assuming that the bones in an unlabeled box are to be connected with the box which actually mentions John the Baptist.

The focus in my own work is on literature about John the Baptist, especially that of the Mandaeans. We see lots of similarities between Jewish, Christian, and Muslim depictions of the same characters. And when they are different, we often recognize polemical reasons for the changes. And so a question has come up that relates these traditions to my own work on the Mandaean Book of John. Why is the Mandaean portrait of John the Baptist so different from what we find in Christian and Islamic literature? There are instances when the Mandaean tradition may be rewriting the Gospel story about John and Jesus. But there are others which seem to be differences that show no sign of being polemically or theologically motivated. They simply look like separate traditions. The question is how to best account for this – and one possible answer is that the Mandaeans preserved traditions which arose independently from, and developed separately from, those which their Christian and Muslim neighbors developed and preserved.

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Open Access Journal: NABU: Nouvelles Assyriologiques Brèves et Utilitaires

[First posted in AWOL 17 November 2012, updated 29 March 2015]

NABU: Nouvelles Assyriologiques Brèves et Utilitaires
ISSN: 0989-5671
Ce journal, intitulé Nouvelles Assyriologiques Brèves et Utilitaires, est publié quatre fois par an (mars, juin, septembre, décembre).
Comité de rédaction :
Dominique Charpin, Jean-Marie Durand, Francis Joannès, Nele Ziegler
Les numéros à partir de 1987 sont téléchargeables au format pdf.
Le signe * indique les numéros searchable (unicode seulement à partir de 2008/3). Les autres sont des fichiers-images. 
    NABU notes pertaining to the first Millennium are available online at Achemenet

    Also see the tables of contents of the Mémoires de NABU

    The Archaeology News Network

    Egyptian beer vessels unearthed in Tel Aviv

    Fragments of ancient beer-brewing basins unearthed in Tel Aviv indicate that Egyptians more than 5,000 years ago had settled farther north than previously known and were imbibing in what is now Israel's most hard-partying city. One of the artefacts uncovered at an ancient Egyptian brewery  found in downtown Tel Aviv [Credit: IAA]Israel's Antiquities Authority said on Sunday the ceramic vessels, crafted in an Egyptian method that...

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

    Pelagios: Enable Linked Ancient Geodata In Open Systems

    Linked Pasts

    The Pelagios project is pleased to announce a two-day colloquium on the subject of “Linked Pasts”, 20-21 July 2015, at KCL (The Great Hall, The Strand Campus). Bringing together leading exponents of Linked Data from across the Humanities and Cultural Heritage sector, we address some of the challenges to developing a digital ecosystem of online open materials, through two days of position papers, discussion and breakout group activity. Day 1 will tackle the themes of Time, Geo and People, and issues of Open Data, Classification Schemes and Infrastructure. Day 2 will be devoted to two parallel structured activities, one exploring Niches (space, time, people), and the other Nutrition Cycles (open data, classification, infrastructure). For details of the line up of talks and contributors, see below.

    Refreshments (tea/coffee, lunch) will be provided, along with a reception on Monday evening.

    The event is free of charge but places are limited. Please reserve your place through Eventbrite.

    Matthew Paris: Itinerary from London to Jerusalem. CC0

    Day 1
       Welcome – Pelagios: A Linked Pasts Ecosystem?
       Keynote – Sebastian Heath (NYU), Does a Linked Future Mean Past Understanding?    

    Session 1       
       Time – Ryan Shaw (UNC), An Ecosystem of Time Periods: PeriodO
       Geo – Ruth Mostern (UC Merced), An Ecosystem of Places: Gazetteers
       People – Gabriel Bodard (KCL), An Ecosystem of People: SNAP
    Session 2       
       Open Data – Mia Ridge (OU), Trends and Practice within Cultural Heritage
       Classification schemes – Antoine Isaac (Amsterdam), Europeana

    Day 2 
    Session 3: Towards an Infrastructure
       Rainer Simon (AIT): The Recogito Annotation Platform
       Humphrey Southall (Portsmouth): PastPlace gazetteer
       Guenther Goerz (Erlangen): WissKI
       Holly Wright/Doug Tudhope: Ariadne

    Session 4
       Structured Activity 1: Niches (Space, Time, People)
       Structured Activity 2: Nutrition Cycles (Open Data, Classification, Infrastructure)   
    Wrap up: feedback, next steps + community actions

    **Linked data goodness brought to you by elton, leif, rainer + pau**
    ***The colloquium is made possible by the generosity of our funders, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the AHRC***

    Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

    Open Access Historical Newspapers and Other Periodicals in Middle East & Islamic Studies

    Access to Mideast and Islamic Resources (AMIR) [ISSN 2160-3049], a sister project of AWOL, is intended as a tool to assemble and distribute information on open access material relating to the Middle East and Islamic Studies. It includes a developing:

    Alphabetical List of Open Access Historical Newspapers and Other Periodicals in Middle East & Islamic Studies

    currently listing 141 titles. Those interested in this domain can subscribe to AMIR directly.

    Open Access Journals in Middle Eastern and and Islamic Studies

    Access to Mideast and Islamic Resources (AMIR) [ISSN 2160-3049], a sister project of AWOL, is intended as a tool to assemble and distribute information on open access material relating to the Middle East and Islamic Studies. It includes a developing:
    Alphabetical List of Open Access Journals in Middle Eastern Studies

    currently listing 531 titles.  There is some (but not much) overlap between that lists and the List of Open Access Journals in Ancient Studies. Those interested in this domain can subscribe to AMIR directly.

    Open Access Ancient Numismatics Journals

    [First posted in AWOL 8 November 2011. Updated 29 March 2015]

    These are the open access eJournals focused on ancient numismatics of which I am aware.  Are there others?  Please let me know.

      The Archaeology News Network

      Centuries-old coins excavated in farmer's field

      Two full pots of antique coins, weighing more than 130 kilograms, were unearthed in a township in South China's Hainan province, local newspaper Nanguo Dushibao reported on March 28. One of the ancient coin unearthed by a farmer in a township  in South China's Hainan province [Credit:]A farmer surnamed Chen and his wife discovered and excavated the coins and their containers in their home yard. All the coins are copper...

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

      BiblePlaces Blog

      Weekend Roundup, Part 2

      What does a field archaeologist carry in his dig bag? I like Eric Welch’s answer.

      After a porcupine uncovered a Byzantine oil lamp in Emek Hefer, the Israel Antiquities Authority was up in arms. “The IAA calls on all porcupines to avoid digging burrows at archeological sites and warns that digging at an archeological site without a license is a criminal offense.”

      Why did people stop eating pork in the ancient Near East around 1000 BC? A new study suggests one answer.

      A new video from the Museum of the Bible reveals some of the work of the Green Scholars Initiative and the associated educational tools being developed for use in Israel and the U.S.

      “Visual data about cultural heritage sites within conflict zones in near real-time has become possible with new technology, particularly satellite imagery.” This article considers the ethical questions.

      BBC Magazine: The men who uncovered Assyria.

      Three Jordanians who floated to the Israeli side of the Dead Sea were returned to Jordan.

      The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago has several courses and workshops scheduled for the coming months.

      Now free at The Bible and Interpretation: the first two chapters of Ancient Israel’s History: An Introduction to Issues and Sources, edited by Bill T. Arnold and Richard S. Hess.

      Sad news: William W. Hallo died on Friday. A funeral service is scheduled for 1:00 pm, Monday, March 30, at Mishkan Israel, 785 Ridge Road, Hamden, Connecticut.

      The Agade list is now being archived at the SBL website.

      HT: Agade

      James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

      LOST Rewatch: LaFleur

      This is one of my favorite episodes. It begins with the group who were with John when he went down the well, and then they moved through time to a point before the well was built. They see the statue, completely intact. When John turns the wheel, there is one last flash, and then they are in another time. The well is back, but has been filled in. Juliette and Miles say that their headaches are gone. Juliette says that she thinks John did it, and it is over. Sawyer says that now they wait for him to come back, as long as it takes.

      Then, three years later, we see two people dancing. Another man from the Dharma Initiative comes in, angry. On their security monitors, they see Horace blowing up trees with dynamite near the pylons of the sonic fence, and realize they need to go wake LaFleur and tell him. When they do, we learn that LaFleur is Sawyer. When Sawyer brings him home to Amy, he asks her what happened. She says they had a fight, about Paul. But then she goes into labor.

      Three years earlier, the group is reunited with Daniel. He says he isn’t going to tell her. He says that she died, and then when the flash came, she was gone. Daniel says that whenever they are now, they are here for good. They head back to the beach, but then hear gunshots, and then a woman screaming. When Miles asks Daniel is they are not to get involved, Daniel says it doesn’t matter – whatever happened, happened. Sawyer rescues the woman, Amy, from Others who killed Paul, her husband. Amy says they have to bury the Others, and to bring Paul back home. She is worried about the truce. At the sonic fence, Amy takes ear plugs, and the rest of them are knocked out.

      Three years later, Amy’s baby is breech. Sawyer goes to get Juliette, who is working as a mechanic. They normally have women give birth on the mainland. Juliette doesn’t want to help, since every woman she has tried to help on the island has died. Sawyer suggests that maybe whatever caused that hasn’t happened yet. Amy has a boy, and everyone is OK. Jin’s English is better, and we learn that he has been searching for the rest of their friends.

      Three years earlier, Sawyer tells Horace the story he has made up, about being on a salvage vessel looking for the Black Rock. He says he is the captain, Jim LaFleur. Horace plans to send them to Tahiti in a submarine the next morning. Soon after, an alarm sounds and people run to their homes. Then Richard Alpert shows up, carrying a torch. Horace goes out to talk to him. Horace says that if he had known that Alpert was coming, he would have turned the fence off. Alpert says that the fence may keep other things out, but not them. Sawyer goes out to talk to him, tells him what happened, and shows through his knowledge about the Jughead and John Locke that he is not a member of the Dharma Initiative. The agreement is that the truce is preserved, but Alpert will take Paul’s body back, to show that justice has been done. Amy agrees, taking the ankh that Paul wore around his neck. Horace lets Sawyer and his friends have two weeks to stay and look for their crew. Juliette wants to leave, but Sawyer persuades her to stay for two weeks, until the next submarine departure.

      Three years later, Sawyer and Juliette are living together as a happy couple.

      Horace tells Sawyer that he found Paul’s necklace in Amy’s drawer, and that that is why they fought. He asks if three years is long enough to get over someone. Sawyer talks about having had a thing for a girl once, and now he can barely remember her face, and so three years is absolutely enough. The next morning, the phone rings. Jin has found Hurley, Jack, and Kate.


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      Zenobia: Empress of the East (Judith Weingarten)

      ELEGY FOR HATRA (Part III: Goddesses and Putative Priestesses)

      (Part I, click here; Part II, click here)

      Three Goddesses and a guy-lion

      Allat, the Arab goddess of war, is the central figure on this stone relief from Hatra (once covered with thin sheets of gold or silver). She is flanked by two smaller female figures, most probably her daughters al-Izza and Munat, with right hands raised up, palms forward, in the typical Hatrene manner indicating benediction or respectful prayer.  Although these deities are of Arab origin, Allat is shown with the attributes of the Greek goddess Athena: a gorgon head on her breastplate, armed with a spear, a helmet, and carrying a shield marked with her lunar symbol. The eyes and the costume are rendered in the local Parthian fashion.  

      The fascinating thing about this relief is the combination of strong Parthian features and borrowed Greek traits -- the Greek input seen here, obviously, in dressing up Allat as Athena but also more subtly in the bend of her left leg and slight body tilt which breaks the typically stiff  Parthian pose.  Even so, their eyes (once inlaid with white seashells with bitumen-black dots for pupils) are set straight forward.

      The goddesses are perched on a lion -- Allat's sacred animal par excellence -- pictured with an extravagant flame-like mane (it's always a male lion) and its tail wrapped, pussy-cat like, around its hind leg.  The association of Allat  with lions was noted by Lucian, a 2nd-century CE Syrian author, in his work on De Dea Syria ('The Gods of Syria', 41).  Lucian describes the temple at the sacred city of Hieropolis where the local goddess (Allat, often identified with a similar, earlier goddess, Atargatis) appears under the guise of Greek Hera: 

      The sanctuary faces the sunrise….  In it are enthroned the cult statues, Hera [Allat/Atargatis] and the god, Zeus, who they call by a different name [Baal-Hadad]. Both are golden, both seated, though Hera [Allat/Atargatis] is borne on lions....  
      We saw just such an enthroned Allat with her lions on the so-called Cerberus relief (pictured in Part II). 

      The relief showing Allat standing with her daughters was found in one of the smaller shrines in Hatra (known as Shrine V) outside of the central Sacred Area, along with three more reliefs of Allat-as-Athena.  Inscriptions from the same sanctuary name the goddess as ˀšrbl and ˀšrbl btlh, 'Iššar-Bel' and 'Iššar-Bel the virgin', harking back to Ishtar,  the ancient Mesopotamian goddess of sex, love, and war, whose symbol, too, was a lion. Two of the inscriptions come from statue bases dedicated by women, one of whom was named as the priestess Martabu: 
      In the month Adar of the year 546 (= March 235 CE). The statue of Martabu, priestess of Isharbel, [creator] of the Universe, which has erected for her [by] Bara, her son, son of Abdshalma son of Bara, the priest, and his brother has made the [garment?] for the life of themselves and for the life of their sons and for the life of whoever is dear to them. Shabaz, the sculptor.* 
       It's very likely that Shrine V was dedicated to Allat in the guise of Iššar-Bel the virgin, where she was visited primarily by priestesses and ordinary women. 

      Three more goddesses.  Or are they mortals?

      The three female figures on this relief look pretty glum (even by Hatrean standards).  I must admit that they are almost like clones, being of the same height and dressed exactly alike.  All wear bright red diadems in the form of high cylindrical crowns (poloi) over their black-coloured hair.  Long veils hang down their backs.  Each figure slightly lifts her skirt in a typical Hatrene female gesture.  One figure grasps a mirror (or tamburine or perhaps even a plate) in her right hand.  The others hold palm branches(?) with trailing ribbons. 

      Are they goddesses, or mortal women?  Or, as I suspect, are they three priestesses engaged in a ritual act that is now entirely unintelligible to us?

      Note the red marks on their cheeks.  

      We have enough statues of male priests from Hatra to know that they can be identified by a circle incised on both cheeks -- a mark  never found on non-priestly dignitaries but only on statues of priests.  While it is impossible to tell from their statues if the circles are made by scarification, branding, or tattooing, Lucian (De Dea Syria, 59) does say that all devotees of the goddess at Hieropolis are tattooed on their necks or wrists.  In such cases, the tattoo would mark a person as belonging to the goddess.  Temple staff at Hatra may indeed have been considered as the chattel 'property' of a deity.  A kind of sacred servitude surely underlies a law posted at the city gates which threatened with death any female singer and wailing woman of Maren, Marten, and Bar-Maren who leaves the city.*

      Not only do the three ladies have red marks on their cheeks but they are not wearing any jewellery other than (as I would argue) the diadem of the goddess they serve. The lines around their throats probably do not indicate multiple necklaces but rather are thin sashes that tied their gowns. 

      To see what they are missing, check out the clunky gold jewellery worn by the three goddesses at the top of the post and the bling on this fragmentary figure (left, from Shrine I): a gilded polos topped by a long veil, golden girdle under her breasts, knock-out gold earrings and a heavy gold necklace that would make Cartier blush.  I doubt, too, that real goddesses actually carried their own ritual implements.  If they hold anything, it will be a symbol of authority, such as Athena's spear or this goddess' sceptre. 

      Inside the holy shrine

      For similar reasons, I suspect that the women depicted on this model shrine are also priestesses and not images of any goddesses themselves.  The altar is in the form of a temple, with four pillars at the corners and four identical female figures between the posts.  The women  wear short coats over their gowns, with open V-shaped neckline, and are girdled by double sashes just under the breasts.  Their hair is parted in the middle and combed back with the ends coiled up high on their heads.  Each figure holds fruit in her right hand and a well-filled cornucopia in her left.  It appears (though I can't swear to it) that they are bare-footed.  Statues of male priests are also usually identified by bare legs and feet.

      It seems that no single trait is sufficient to distinguish Hatrene deities from mortals.  In fact, without inscriptions it is often difficult to tell representations of goddesses and mortals apart.

      A seated woman (left; from Shrine VI) wears a plain crescent-shaped diadem on her head and a heavy but not ostentatious necklace.  Yet she is surely a goddess for she holds an orb in her left hand, symbolizing her power over the world and, in her right hand, a staff or sceptre now lost.  Perhaps sceptre and orb were borrowed from Roman divine and imperial regalia (but this is just a guess). 

      This very goddess appeared earlier this month on the ISIS video recording the jihadist rampage through the Mosul Museum.  Her statue was seen being flipped off its stand and onto the floor, breaking off its head (Gates of Nineveh).  The good news is that the barbarians destroyed a plaster replica and that the original statue (pictured here) is still safe in Baghdad. 

      Unlike this next goddess.

      She had her head chopped off and stolen during the looting of the Baghdad Museum in 2003 -- while American troops stood by.  Alas, ISIS is not the only force responsible for the catastrophic destruction of Iraq's antiquities, though it is by far the deadliest.  My picture of the goddess (left) is a composite photograph with her head put back where it belongs:  since the almost life-size statue was too heavy to join the exodus of loot, it was left behind (the sad headless image may be accessed on the CAIS website).** 

      Be that as it may, she was once a beautiful goddess, though we don't know her by name (Shrine VII).  Her gown has heavily patterned sleeves and is more elaborate than most worn by other deities.  She also wears a richer version of the same short garment with V-neckline and girdled under the breasts as the priestesses(?) on the model shrine above.  Her head is crowned by a short polos encircled by a laurel wreath and covered by a veil that drops down the back.  Heavy earrings ending in pointed cones hang from her ears.  Her open hands touch what looks like a wreath on her lap; her left hand also holds a palm branch which rests on her lower arm. 

      Stuck on the Throne

      The absolutely static enthroned figures may most truly 'personify' Hatrean art.  The rules of frontality are completely dominant and any sense of movement or activity entirely absent.  Such rules are never broken ... but they can be made to budge a bit. Standing figures sometimes put one foot forward which does express slight movement.  King Uthal rather timidly does this, and the high-ranking military officer advances a little more forthrightly (both illustrated in Part II).  One of the minor goddesses on the Allat relief at the top of this post lifts her right shoe onto the lion's mane, and all three ladies shift their weight by almost imperceptibly bending a knee -- a pose undoubtedly adopted (albeit hesitantly) along with Athena's own attributes from the Graeco-Roman sphere.

      We'll look at this again as we examine the very last group of statues from Hatra -- those of mortal women who are not involved (or at least not overtly involved) in the religious sphere.

      Queens, Princesses, Noblewomen ... in the next and last part of Elegy for Hatra.  

      So, think with me about this picture (left).  Who is this woman seated on a chair?  She is made of a rough local limestone rather than the more precious 'Mosul marble' (in fact, a finer limestone) used by the better-off.  And she is bare-headed but marked by lunar imagery. 

      Your thoughts are welcome as comments.  

      Till next week, then.

      * Thus, in contrast with cities such as Palmyra, there is evidence for a prominent female priestess at Hatra as well as female temple personnel.  Inscription: The Melammu Project.

      **The head was listed by Interpol among the "Top 30 Missing Artifacts" stolen in 2003; and is one of ca. 8,000 objects still listed as missing


      Inscriptions from Temple V: The Melammu Project; Shinji Fukai, 'The Artifacts of Hatra and Parthian Art', East and West, 11, No. 2/3 (1960) 135-181; Lucinda Dirven, 'Aspects of Hatrene Religion', in (T. Kaizer, ed.) The Variety of Local Religious Life in the Near East in the Hellenistic and Roman Periods,Leiden 2008, 209-46; ead. "My Lord With His Dogs: Continuity and Change in the Cult of Nergal in Parthian Mesopotamia" in L. Greisiger, C. Rammelt & J. Tubach (eds.), Edessa in hellenistisch-romischer Zeit (Beirut 2009), 47-68; K. Jakubiak,in (L. Dirven, ed.) Hatra: Politics, Culture and Religion between Parthia and Rome, 2013, 91-106.


      Top left: Limestone relief of Allat from Hatra Temple V.  1st c CE.  Temple V.  Iraq Museum #56774 Photo credit: Virtual Museum of Iraq

      2nd left: Local yellow limestone. Head of a goddess (Tyche?). 2-early 3 c CE.  H. 53.5 cm.  Status: Stolen from Baghdad Museum; still missing.  Photo credit: akg-images

      3rd left: Mosul marble high-relief of three goddesses or priestesses.  0.44 high x 0.44 wide.  Mosul Museum # 53. Status: unknown.  Photo credit: Lynn Abercrombie/NationalGeographicCreative

      4th left: Ivory(?) fragmentary relief of goddess flanked by bird (eagle) perched on pillar.  Temple I.  Photo credit: CAIS-soas

      5th left: Mosul marble model shrine from Temple I.  H. 20.3 cm. Baghdad Museum # 57794. Status: unknown.  Photo credit: Lynn Abercrombie/NationalGeographicCreative

      6th left: Limestone statue of anonymous seated goddess from Temple VI.  Status: Replica in Mosul Museum destroyed by ISIS (Gates of Nineveh). Photo credit: ErickBonnierPictures

      7th left: Limestone statue of anonymous seated goddess from temple VII.  Status: Head broken off and stolen from Baghdad Museum; still missing.  Photo credit: CAIS/soas

      Bottom left: Local yellow limestone female figurine.  Photo credit: via Suppressed History Archives

      Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

      UK Metal Detectorists Confused

      Detectorist-admiring MP
      Thinking comes hard to many metal detectorists. They cannot really work out what the issues are with their hobby ("it's legal innit?"). Attempts to explain it go in one ear and out the other, as what they say and write proves time and time again. They prefer to listen to people who say "you done good" of other-such FLO fluff. Detectorist John Winter well remembers a winter day back in 2007 when somebody said something nice about artefact hunters ('Bazza Thugwit … still a National Treasure!', 15 March 2015). It happened at the launch of the Portable Antiquities Scheme and Treasure Annual Reports held at the British Museum. They stressed that there had been a huge increase in the recording and reporting of Treasure over the previous few years.
      David Lammy MP, the then Minister for Culture, said in his introductory speech [...] referred to metal detectorists as “… the unsung heroes of the UK’s heritage”, and “detectorists are finding more than ever before [...]” That was our finest hour. 
      Mr Winter then presents what he says is the "continuing contrivbution" of artefact hunters to "how our understanding of our history owes a lot to the metal detectorist", annd [this is a common theme in tekkie rhetoric] "All this has been accomplished not because of archaeologists or academics but in spite of them". He then shows a"selection of “Nationally Significant” Detectorist finds of the last few years". We note they are all Treasure finds, the reporting of which is mandatory:
      1.  a hoard consisting of 17 gold staters and 9 silver units Record ID: BUC-6877F8 
      2 – hoard of Roman gold coins found by a metal detectorist in Hertfordshire. 
      3 – The Shrewsbury Hoard of 9,315 bronze Roman coins 
      4 – The Silverdale Hoard 
      5 – The Jersey Hoard of 70,000 late Iron Age and Roman coins
      6 – The Lowside Quarter Hoard
      7 – The Lenborough Hoard of 5,000 late Anglo-Saxon silver coins
      8 – The Frome Hoard  160kg Roman coin hoard
      10 – The Big Scottish Coin Hoard Tywnholm, 

      Quelle suprise, eh? Some 16000 folk go out with an electronic tool to find metal, and... they find metal! Now there are two types of archaeological metal in current UK policy, those that any finder has by law to report to the Coroner (but then he gets a big juicy cash handout - you don't get them from reporting dead bodies to the Coroner) and there are those you don't. For the latter there is a voluntary system for reporting. Now I imagine that the cash handout means that most hoards that are found get reported - as above. We get the knowledge (oh yes, people in the past minted coins and sometimes buried large numbers of them in one place - that is basically what we are "learning" about the past from the above hoards - but we already knew that from hoards found and reported since the eighteenth century). What we are not getting ispreservation or even proper investigation of the below-ground stratigraphy from which every one of those hoards originated, or their surrounding context.  Sites like the Staffordshire hoard having been located by the metal detectorist searching the brow of a hill overlooking a Roman road where it crosses a stream are now being pilfered of anything that the wider context provides, disappearing into the pockets and collections of people with metal detectors and leaving the field trampled and full of holes (some even infilled in the dark).

      What about all the unreported non-Treasure finds being removed randomly from various bits of the archaeological record? How many are there? The PAS have done some calculations and according to their figures (which more or less correspond with those predicted several years earlier by the HA Artefact Erosion Counter) it comes out that these heritage heroes might be making off with three quarters of the reportable artefacts they hoik out and these are simply disappearing without anyone seeing them. Now I call that knowledge theft, I do not consider that any form of heritage heroism, and it certainly is not only not adding to our ability to learn about the past from the bits of the archaeological record thus exploited, but by selectively removing most of it, is distorting in a manner which is unmeasurable, what is left. These are facts. This is the problem with current policies, they are not producing the results glibly claimed. What is actually happening pure selfish oikism by small minded men with their tunnel vision and artefact-searching tools, which do a huge disservice to Britain's national heritage and those detectorists who do report their finds.  And I challenge John Winter to show it is not - without the ad hominems and childish pretended horror of using the names of those who raise these issues. 

      Text of HR 1493, Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act

      In the USA a fresh attempt is being made to get some legislation to supplement the creaky old CCPIA. This is HR 1493, Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act, "To protect and preserve international cultural property at risk due to political instability, armed conflict, or natural or other disasters, and for other purposes" introduced into the House of Representatives, March 19, 2015. The dealers and their lobbyists are not happy... The wording is a bit of a mish-mash.

      Jim Davila (

      Hashkes, Rabbinic Discourse as a System of Knowledge

      Rabbinic Discourse as a System of Knowledge
      "The Study of Torah is Equal to them All"

      By Hannah E. Hashkes

      In Rabbinic Discourse as a System of Knowledge Hannah Hashkes employs contemporary philosophy in describing rabbinic reasoning as a rational response to experience. Hashkes combines insights from the philosophy of Quine and Davidson with the semiotics of Peirce to construe knowledge as systematic reasoning occurring within a community of inquiry. Her reading of the works of Emmanuel Levinas and Jean-Luc Marion allows her to create a philosophical bridge between a discourse of God and a discourse of reason. This synthesis of pragmatism, hermeneutics and theology provides Hashkes with a sophisticated tool to understand Rabbinic Judaism. It also makes this study both unique and pathbreaking in contemporary Jewish philosophy and Rabbinic thought.

      Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

      Bulgarian Artefact Bust - Shumen

      A trafficker's garage

      'Archaeology in Bulgaria' has two recent articles about an antiquity bust which saw an 'impressive' haul of artefacts confiscated from treasure hunters and antique traffickers by the police in the northeastern Bulgarian province of Shumen (in Shumen itself, Novi Pazar, and Ivanovo as well as Veliki Preslav ) which had been destined to be trafficked to other EU states. Associated with the article are some helpful Background Infonotes:
      Treasure hunting and illegal trafficking of antiques have been rampant in Bulgaria after the collapse of the communism regime in 1989 (and allegedly before that). Estimates vary but some consider this the second most profitable activity for the Bulgarian mafia after drug trafficking. One recent estimate suggests its annual turnover amounts to BGN 500 million (app. EUR 260 million), and estimates of the number of those involved range from 5 000 to 200 000 – 300 000, the vast majority of whom are low-level impoverished diggers
      The haul included Greco-Roman works from the 1st-2nd century AD (19 Ancient Greek and Roman statues and figurines, marble and stone slabs, including one engraved stone altar), and nine thousand authentic and forged ancient coins as well as matrices for the forging of ancient coins. A number of the sculptures come from grave-robbing, they are from sarcophagi. One of them is a fragment depicting the Gorgon Medusa. There was also a sculpted lion's head and an altar with the images of a family and an inscription in Ancient Greek. The items were confiscated from 51-year-old citizen of Turkey, Veisal Sanli, who had been followed by the Bulgarian police for 2 months before he was arrested. It is not clear how many of the artefacts had been dug up in Bulgaria, or how many of them had been smuggled into the country for selling on the networks established by Bulgarian-based organized criminal groups. This is still being investigated.  The investigators have not discovered evidence linking these traffickers to an organized crime group, which raises the question of their access to the markets and where they were being supplied with objects from. Some of the photos suggest the bronze artefacts are the sort of thing you meet on eBay. It is worth noting the condition of the objects:

      Cruddy dugup coins in trafficker's stock
      The marble slabs have traces of soil and limestone deposits [...] “Among the coins there are some that authentic, some are even in the condition in which they were found in the ground, but there are also some that have been produced recently,” explains Zhenya Zhekova, who is the head of the Department of Numismatics in the Shumen Museum, as cited by Darik Shumen. She has also mentioned that most are copper coins.
      In other words, all those US coin dealers and coin collectors that swear blind that the items that are "collectable" by them and their fellows (unlike all the other dugup artefacts from the same period sold by middlemen-dealers like this) do not come from metal detecting on ancient sites are simply unaware, and/or willfully ignorant of what actually is found on raids on artefact traffickers in the source countries that supply them. The coin-exceptionalism argument is a false one. Let us note that this willful ignorance of provenance ('grounding') means that numbers of fake coins reach the market they patronise.

      Psst...wanna buy some fake Iraqi loot too?
      One of the two articles on the haul devotes much space to a stone slab with relief carving of figures in Sumerian/Akkadian style on it and a neatly-drilled hole in the middle. Bulgarian archaeologists (including Prof. Nikolay Ovcharov) say this is a Mesopotamian artefact smuggled by culture criminals into Bulgaria. I disagree, the photos are a bit lacking in clarity, but to my eyes this piece looks like an 'in the style of' fake, and a not very good one either. The carving is flat, the hole drilled with a power-took and shows no erosion around the edge, though the slab edges and surface do. Fake.

      The problem is, I do not think it is the only one. The stone items shown in the film here look a mixed bunch to me. For a start it seems almost as if they are all (the 'Sumerian piece too) in the same type of stone except one marble foot in crystalline marble. I suspend judgement in the case of the several objects we see in the first fifty seconds of the film, I have a bad feeling about one of them. The stela at 52 seconds though, looks highly dodgy to me on this video, it looks rather too much like the scene has been copied from a book on Roman art and to me has the same flat mechanical 'feel' as the Sumerian piece which follows it in the film. I have the same reaction to the lumpy tombstone (1:26), look down the right side, that bird for example. Nasty. Then there is a very block-shaped medieval king (from a window or door jamb?), which is followed by a series of small fragments. I think there are real archaeological dugups here mixed in with antiqued modern pastiche and perhaps two pieces which might turn out to have come from post-medieval garden sculpture rather than ancient cities.   
      The police arrested three men for treasure hunting on March 11, 2105, after raiding their homes and discovering the Ancient Roman artifacts. [...] After they were tipped off about illegal trafficking and ownership of cultural treasures, the Shumen police first raided the home of a 56-year-old man in the city of Shumen where they found a total of 19 Ancient Roman marble and stone slabs with inscriptions and figurines and parts of Roman statues hidden in his garage. They followed-up with a raid in the town of Novi Pazar where they found about 9,000 ancient or ancient-looking coins as well as matrixes for forging ancient coins in the home of a 52-year-old man. They also discovered ancient metal items and about 80 ancient coins in the home of a 32-year-old man in the town of Ivanovo as well as ancient coins and the head of a statue in the home of 51-year-old citizen of Turkey residing legally in the city of Shumen.
      It is not clear if all of these men were involved in digging up and selling artefacts, were any of them buyers who'd had dealings with the others? Four men are mentioned, but three arrests. The articles suggest that there is a connection between the activities of these four men and the arrest of one seems to have led to the next (yes?). It is also interesting to speculate on who tipped the police off and why. To be honest, on the basis of what these articles are saying, it is difficult to accept  the local police assessment that these are just "individual treasure hunters".  Metal detectorists don't generally have huge hunks of carved stone in their garage, they do not generally have engraved dies and equipment for striking fake coins and then the chemicals to patinate them. I hope more information emerges in the future.

      The IAPN and PNG (through their paid lobbyist) insisted at the time the MOU was being discussed that there is a free and open market in antiquities, including coins, within Bulgaria. Maybe then, they would like to tell us why these men were arrested.

      Ivan Dikov, 'Bulgarian Police Seize Ancient Roman Archaeology Artifacts, Slab with Sumerian Motifs from Treasure Hunters' Archaeology in Bulgaria March 24th, 2015. [lots of photos]

      Ivan Dikov, 'Bulgarian Archaeologist Finds 5000-Year-Old Relief from Ancient Mesopotamia among Artifacts Seized from Treasure Hunters' Archaeology in Bulgaria March 27th, 2015.

      'Пресякоха канал за трафик на културно-исторически ценности в чужбина'  

      Collector Beware: The importance of your Documentation Assuring Title

      Don Miller, the Indiana collector, 91, died Sunday, nearly a year after federal agents surrounded his rural Rush County home and began removing thousands of artefacts ("FBI Examines Antiquities at Rural Indiana Home"  PACHI, 3 April 2014;' see also "What a Collector Had in His Cellar"  PACHI, 7 May 2014). Officials at the time cited a desire to catalogue the artefacts and return any that had been illicitly obtained to their countries of origin.
      Miller never faced any charges related to his collection. No lawsuits were filed against him in the year since the seizure. [...] after his death, progress of the federal investigation remains shrouded in mystery. FBI Special Agent Drew Northern declined to comment about the case Tuesday night. Officials from the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis anthropology department, which is assisting the FBI in identifying and preserving the artifacts, also would not comment. But a legal expert told The Star it could take years, if not decades, before experts can sort out the legalities of the thousands of objects seized by the government. "Even just figuring out which ones are illegally possessed in the United States is an enormous task when he's purchased them over so many years, so you can see why this is such a difficult problem to solve," said David B. Smith, a Virginia-based attorney with a background in asset forfeiture. "Without his help, it's just going to be enormously difficult to figure out which ones he legitimately purchased, which are legal and which ones aren't," Smith said. "It's a huge problem."
      Of course, there will have been paperwork, wouldn't there? Any collector who is intent on "preserving" these remains of the past will have documented the accessions properly establishing title and to sort out precisely these sorts of problems on their demise.
      "Here's the problem," Smith said. "The illegal extraction is usually done by some guy in Europe or South America, and then it goes through a chain of dealers and it ends up in the possession of some rich American who's not a crook, but has purchased an object that was stolen or taken illegally from some other country." Even before Miller's death, Smith said the case would have likely taken years to resolve. Each item needs to be evaluated on its own merits, and must include factors like the date of purchase, trade law for each country at the time of purchase, and cultural significance. For thousands of items, that presents an incredible logistical challenge, Smith said. "You can understand why this case is going nowhere," Smith said. "They just don't have the resources to spend 30 years going through this stuff."
      Mr Miller is just one of thousands of collectors in the United States alone. Who is going to pay for going through all their loose undocumented artefacts when they die? Or will their heirs just dump it all on a museum or dealer and hope nobody asks where they came from and whether they were all obtained licitly? That goes for coin collections too.

      ‘Overvalued’ Dark Age hoard comes to auction


      Not in it fer the munny, 'cept when we are

      This is going to happen more and more now as the museums all get their case fulls of glittering trophy artefacts. A group of Early Medieval coins - disclaimed Treasure (YORYM-BC3AB2) - is coming onto the market on March 25 and 26:

      This opportunity to buy items from the [...] Hoard is so rare because coins of this nature are normally declared treasure under the 1996 act and go to museums. In this case, both the Yorkshire Museum in York and British Museum disclaimed the hoard - describing it as overvalued - and so the 65 coins and four ingots, found by two metal detectorists in a North Yorkshire field in 2012, went back to their finders. London numismatists Spink have catalogued the material in about 60 lots for their March 26 sale in London. [...] The hoard came to light in two separate batches - with several inches of soil between them - a week apart. One batch of coins is Viking in nature, dating to the 920s,
      Since the coins are not going to a museum, the Spinks catalogue is going to be the only record of the hoard while it is still intact. It was disclaimed because the Yorkshire and British museums already possess a larger hoard from this era the Vale of York Hoard discovered in 2007 near Harrogate (617 coins, the two museums acquired it jointly in 2009). The museums felt that the hoard, valued at £80,000 by the Treasure Valuation Committee had been 'overvalued'. Neither museum revealed whether they would be bidding for any lots at the Spink sale.   It is interesting to note that Spink's, for reasons best known to themselves, have christened thius the "Eboracum (Ryedale) Hoard" while in the PAS records it features as "York Area Hoard". The condition of the coin on receipt was bad, the coins had been "harsly cleaned" by the finder and some were badly chipped.

      Treasure Hunters will be watching this sale closely, they say the TVC undervalues their finds.  Not, of course, that any of them are "in it fer the munny".

      Source: Tom Derbyshire, '
      ‘Overvalued’ Dark Age hoard comes to auction' Antique Trade Gazette 24 March.
      Hat tip to Kyri

      UPDATE 28.03.2015
      The sales results are now available. By my maths, despite the totally knackered state of some of the coins, the total takings from the entire hoard were 107,955 pounds, so a little more than what the TVC had suggested, though this does not mean that the TVC undervalues, but that Spinks' spin might have affected the bidding. I was surprised that the ingots at the end of the auction went for so much. Two lots are not listed among those sold, 447 and 448, I am not sure what happened there, ttrying to follow the link brings up an error message.

      Blogging Pompeii

      More from the Jashemski Archive compared with pompeiiinpictures

      More from the Jashemski Archive compared with pompeiiinpictures

      II.1.12 Pompeii. 2005. Entrance doorway.
      Photo by Jackie and Bob Dunn

      II.1.12 Pompeii, 1968. Entrance doorway.
      Photo by Stanley A. Jashemski. J68f0270 
      Source: The Wilhelmina and Stanley A. Jashemski archive in the University of Maryland Library, Special Collections (See collection page) and made available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial License v.4. See Licence and use details.

      Pompeii. May 2005. Two pilaster paintings (at top on beam) from entrance façade of II.1.12.
      These were displayed in III.3.6.
      Photo by Jackie and Bob Dunn

      The two pilaster paintings shown in May 2005 were in the Schola Armaturarum at the time of its collapse in November 2010, and they may or may not have been destroyed.
      Does anyone know what happened to them?

      This comparison also highlights the fact that many of our pictures are now 10 years old.
      The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that we are coming back to live in the UK.
      This will allow us to make more frequent trips to Pompeii than has been possible from Australia.
      We intend to retake all the photos, highlighting the improvements made over the years.

      See more of Complesso dei Riti magici on

      Jackie and Bob at pompeiiinpictures

      Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

      Checking of Sources of Antiquities on the London Market?

      Roberta Mazza [From Egypt to London: looting in Antinoupolis (el Sheikh ‘Abadah)March 27, 2015] reports the content of an Analecta Papyrologica article by Rosario Pintaudi et al (Pintaudi, Rosario ; Silvano, Flora ; Del Corso, Lucio ; Delattre, Alain ; Spanu, Marcello “Latrones: furti e recuperi da Antinoupolis”, Analecta Papyrologica XXVI 2014 pp. 359-402) discussing illegal excavations and looting in the area of Antinoupolis. The text includes the information about a
      Roman glass inlay stolen from the excavation site and later found on sale in an auction catalogue. This little and beautiful piece traveled from Egypt to the showrooms of Bonhams in London, where the sale was stopped by the police, after the object sold for about £ 5,000. [...] As often happens, in the auction catalogue provenance was recorded as “English private collection, acquired in the late 1960s.”
      I am not clear whether this meant that the inlay came from illicit and clandestine digging of unexcavated layers of the excavation site, or whether this was an excavated object (and therefore in the site documentation) which was recently stolen from the stores. I presume that the fact that the sale (which took place in October 2013) is reported as cancelled would indicate the latter. Did any prosecutions result from this? In any case, how did Bonhams verify the claim they published in their sales catalogue?

      UPDATE Mar 28th 2015.

      'Mosaic glass: from Antinoupolis to London', Looting Matters Saturday, March 28, 2015

      "Italy Should Sell Recovered Antiquities" Eh?

      For some, it's the money...
      Anna Somers Cocks opines "Why Italy should sell the 5,000 antiquities recovered by the police" ("Improperly excavated artefacts could be auctioned to help cash-strapped museums"). There has been a lot of discussion of this idea. The Italians are not impressed with her logic: "La fondatrice di The art newspaper lancia una provocazione". Over in America it is a different story. Peter Tompa representing the dealers associations is all for it. Derek Fincham too, and Francesca Tronchin is enthusiastic. Professor Tronchin's title is symptomatic of the main problem, she ponders "What to do with recovered antiquities?" as if this was a problem for America. The issue is one for the Italians to sort out - on their own terms - and not something Washington (or Rhode College, Memphis, Tennessee) decides for them.

      I fail to see what the legal basis underlying this whole concept is. Somers Cocks is suggesting taking "improperly excavated" (that's art-talk for "looted") off the market, sending them back to Italy as stolen goods (as per US law) and then through some transmogrification which she does not detail, the items are released onto the open market for museums, collectors and dealers to profit from as "legal" artefacts.
      "choose a small number of masterpieces from the carabinieri’s hoard" [so that] "collectors and the trade would be able to acquire legally validated pieces".
      How's that?  In any case, as we all know, very soon after coming on the international antiquities market in its current form most artefacts lose any "passports" (export documentation, transfer of ownership documentation), within a few years. On that form, most of these postulated 'released' artefacts will also pretty quickly lose all documentation of legality.

      Tronchin goes a step further. She reckons that if Italy "floods the market" with lots and lots of these "legitimate" artefacts (how many looted and smuggled items does she think are seized each year?), they will somehow push out the "illegal" ones. Again the American does not explain the mechanisms by which this works.

      If it were true that flooding a market with lots of cheap originals was a way to limit the illicit trade in antiquities by creating a massive licit trade in them, there would be no looting at all in Great Britain, with 10-16000 metal detectorists ripping stuff out of the ground perfectly legally day after day, year after year and a lot of it turning up on the market. But that is not what is happening. Sites are being illegally raided by night. In Great Britain, there never has been any real "cachet" in owning dugup antiquities, many farmers have the odd polished axe on the windowsill. On the contrary, artefact hunters see digging them up as a "right", and collection-driven exploitation of archaeological sites goes on.

      As for "creating a massive licit antiquities market", I wonder if the Assistant Professor of Ancient Mediterranean Art and Archaeology has ever seen a dealer offer an artefact labelled "illicit"? By definition, the entire market is a "licit" one to those in it. And it is already huge.  Increasing the quantities of material on the market and a consequent dropping of price will only encourage more collectors, thus creating a bigger market. This is what we saw in the 1990s.

      Adding more low-price material to what is already circulating will merely dilute what is coming onto the market, not replace it. This is because looters and middlemen only supply what is saleable - the rest, for example that duplicating material already commonplace on the market, is discarded on site (see Atwood's book 'Stealing History', for example, on this). Merely making some kinds of collectables common will not stop the search for the uncommon and rare. If the coveted - and therefore profit-generating - material is not available in quantity, then the looting will increase to meet demand.

      I really do not see how Professor Tronchin sees this working, no dealer is going to fill their stockroom with stuff they cannot sell. To get it in their stockrooms for them to then sell for a pittance (as she naively suggests will happen if the market is 'flooded'), the Italian authorities will have to sell at 'dumping' prices, which defeats the object of what she is proposing (to make cash for the state by capitalising on the high market values). The two simply do not make sense.

      But the market already seems to have a mechanism to deal with this, we see antiquities from the so-called "Grande Razzia" surfacing only now after decades of storage "somewhere" and slowly released on the markets in order to keep prices up. The same goes for antiquities looted in Iraq in and around 2003. Where are they now? On the market, or still in storage, trickling out? If huge quantities of recovered stolen artefacts are dumped on the market at ridiculous prices, speculators are most likely to buy them up, put them on ice a while and then release them slowly in coming years after the museums have given up trying to flood the market.

      Professor Tronchin ignores the issue of motivation. Why would dealers actually go about selling at prices that destroy their own market?  While you may saturate the market with "Roman grot" coins (of which there are hundreds of thousands already in circulation without threatening the stability of the market) and greyware bodysherds, that does not affect the market for complete amphoras from wrecks and bronze statues of Hercules. These are different markets, different clientele. Simply shifting more artefacts at the low end of the market does not touch the dealers and their clients at the top.

      It seems the American advocates of such moves would benefit from taking a look at the British Museums Association policy on deaccession. This emerges from precisely such sales (a pottery collection and Egyptian statue). This is in Britain, with its all-too-liberal attitude to antiquity sales. Why should Italian museums be any different from UK ones? What about museums in the States, do they sell off "duplicate" material in their care, much of it donated by collectors for hefty tax refunds from the state? How would that be organized? I want to know what makes the US feel that it can dictate what others should do with their cultural heritage without first installing the same system at home.

      Professor Tronchin also suggests that making cheap antiquities available from the items recovered from culture criminals will in some way "bring antiquity to a broader audience". This is a typical American collectors' argument. I really wonder whether people have to possess artefacts at home to "appreciate antiquity" any more than you have to keep a lion on the back porch to bring nature to a broader audience. There are surely other ways than the consumerist buy-buy-buy past to achieve this aim. We used to have things called books...

      Laura Gibbs (Bestiaria Latina Blog)

      Latin Proverbs and Fables Round-Up: March 29

      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 free PDF copies of my books, you can find links to all of them here: #PDF Tribute to Aaron Swartz

      HODIE (Roman Calendar): ante diem quartum Kalendas Apriles.

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


      3-WORD MOTTOES: Today's 3-word motto is Respicio sine luctu (English: I look back without grief).

      3-WORD PROVERBS: Today's 3-word proverb is Spes vitam fovet (English: Hope nourishes life).

      RHYMING PROVERBS: Today's proverb with rhyme is: Ex magna cena stomacho fit maxima poena (English: From a great dinner comes a greater punishment for the stomach).

      VULGATE VERSES: Today's verse is Praecordia fatui quasi rota carri (Sirach 33:5). 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: Oportet remum ducere, qui didicit: He ought to helde the oore that hath learned it. That is to saye: Everye man must practise that science and facultie, that hath bene afore taught him. Let not the shomaker medle further then his shoes. Lette the ploughman talke of his plough.

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

      And here are today's proverbial LOLcats:

      Matris imago filia est.
      The daughter is the image of her mother.

      Libros lege; quae legeris, memento.
      Read books; what you read, remember.


      FABULAE FACILES: The fable from the Fabulae Faciles widget is Mercurius, Homo, et Formicae, which is one of my all-time favorites (this fable has a vocabulary list).

      MILLE FABULAE: The fable from the Mille Fabulae et Una widget is Mustela et Lima, the story of a bloodthirsty weasel.

      Mustela et Lima

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

      vulpes et pardus

      AIA Fieldnotes

      Honors College Class Explores ‘Who Owns The Past?’

      Source of News Item: 
      University Communications University, MS 38677
      Date of News Item: 
      March 27, 2015

      Honors College Class Explores ‘Who Owns The Past?’

      Classics class visits Metropolitan Museum of Art, Christie's and other antiquities sites over spring break Read more »

      Robert Consoli (Squinches)

      Big Man, Big House

       In Carol G. Thomas and Craig Conant’s Citadel to City-State we read the following:

      “Though a basileus has a role that transcends immediate family concerns, his basis of strength is his own household or oikos. At least in the epic world, these households were the largest kinship groups. When Odysseus seeks to reassert his power in Ithaca, for instance, he has the aid of his son and two household slaves. By preserving and enriching his own oikos, a man draws other families – through their own leaders – to his following. He keeps the allegiance of other heads of families as long as he is successful in battle and counsel, demonstrating his skills by means of material acquisitions. When he fails, leadership passes to the person giving the best advice or best proving himself in combat.

           The physical picture of Nichoria accords well with such a situation. The community is virtually an extended family, and the village leader, the head of the most important family. The community of Dark Age Nichoria, numbering some two hundred individuals during the tenth and ninth centuries, appears to be founded on a more stable foundation than its immediate predecessor. Too large to have supported itself by hunting and herding alone, the iron age settlement shows the first signs of renewed social differentiation and complexity. The large building occupied during this period and named by the excavators Unit IV-1 seems not to have been used solely as a center for cult activities or communal stores; its primary purpose may have been the residence of an exceptional person, known to modern anthropologists as the ‘Big Man’ of the community, along with his immediate family.”[1]

      Nichoria (37.002601 N, 21.916655 E) in Messenia in the Peloponnese was a thriving village under the control of Ano Englianos (Pylos) up through LHIIIC. It seems to have been used by the Mycenaean administration to produce linen if we are to judge by the amount of flax that they received from Pylos.[2] At the beginning of the twelfth century BC the site was destroyed and the population was enslaved, put to the sword or fled. The site lay deserted until about 1075 BC when it was resettled by a small group of, perhaps, 100 people. We can say nothing about the origins of the new population except that they are almost certain to have been Greek speakers. They rebuilt a few homes on the foundations of the Mycenaean houses and, in addition to that, they built apsidal buildings which are large structures, open-ended on one side and closed in a rounded apse on the other.  The structure known as IV-1 was built at least as early as the tenth century and, by the eighth century, it was joined by another which actually abutted it.  Were these apsidal structures domestic, communal, or what?  What was their purpose?  Were they the residences of the ‘big man’ of Thomas and Conant’s imaginations?

      It must be clearly understood that there’s nothing unusual or significant about Nichoria; it was just like hundreds of similar farming communities on the Greek mainland at that time. The reason that so much archaeological ink has been spilled on this community is that it is one of a very small number of sites that has a (nearly) continuous Iron Age stratigraphy and this allows us a glimpse, however incomplete, of the life of a community over several hundred years of that era. The population profile was almost certainly a shallow-sided pyramid which is characteristic in modern terms of a poverty-stricken and under-developed country. At any one time at least half of the population was under twenty years of age and there would have been very few or no inhabitants over the age of 60.   There is no meaningful way to apply the label ‘Mycenaean’ to this tiny village. And yet Thomas and Conant insist on dragging this fly-specked little hamlet into the world of the Homeric epic based on the existence of that apsidal house which they see, by an ego-based analysis[3], as the dwelling place of some completely imaginary ‘big-man’.

      In this confabulation, Thomas and Conant are begging the following questions.

      Begged question 1. Is Nichoria Mycenaean?

      Thomas and Conant clearly assume that this town is appropriately described in terms borrowed from the world of epic and that these people are ‘Mycenaean’. They seem to have some idea that Nichoria can be fruitfully compared to the (remember, fictional) estates of Odysseus and that similar considerations apply.


      ‘Mycenaean’ is neither race nor blood-type nor DNA profile. The term ‘Mycenaean’ can only be properly applied to a set of MH and LH behaviors – having little to do with farming praxis specifically – which resulted from the collision of the incoming Greek-speaking peoples of the MH with the Minoans who had started to colonize mainland Greece from the south and east. It is precisely these behaviors which are lost almost completely at the beginning of the 12th century BC in the Bronze Age Collapse as Thomas and Conant have been at pains to point out. In another place I have argued for the survival of Mycenaean civilization and behaviors at Athens at least through the end of the 11th century. But there is no meaningful sense in which a group of 100 or so semi-isolated people and cattle in the sticks of southern Messenia at the beginning of the 11th century BC can be Mycenaeans. The only thing we can plausibly say about their origins is that they were almost certainly Greek speakers.[4][5]

      Begged question 2: Did the Nichorians have structured or formal leadership?

      It’s just as plausible that the oldest person in town made the decisions. Perhaps we should re-purpose the Russian word ‘starets’ for Nichoria.

      Begged Question 3: Did the Nichorians have only one leader?

      The usual pattern for Indo-European leadership is twinned – one leader is a war leader and the other fulfills a sacral office.[6] This wide-spread practice survived in the Spartan twin-kingship (admittedly a different type of geminated leadership from the one I’ve just described).

      Begged Question 4: Was the society of Nichoria large enough to support the 
      factionalization of a ‘big-man’ society?

      The ‘big-man’ of Melanesia only exists in order to compete with other big men. ‘Big-man-ness’ is a zero-sum game. The prestige which big-man A derives from competitive gift-giving or feast-giving is taken from big-man B whose prestige is thereby reduced.  I think that there is very little possibility that Nichoria ever had the resources to support that sort of ‘big-man’ competitive gift-giving. Based on that silly apsidal house Thomas and Conant are asking us to believe that the big-man is a ‘chief’, sui generis in that village, someone like Odysseus. And he isn’t. It is because the Melanesian big-man is not a chief and does not act like one, that the ‘big-man’ terminology arose in the first place.[7]

      In addition there are vital factors which they simply ignore. The idea of kinship, for example. In my next post we will see that the archaeology suggests that this small community was divided into two kinship groups[8] one senior, one junior.
      If the apsidal house at Nichoria is not the dwelling place of some ‘big man’ then what is it?  I’ll deal with that also in my next post.


      [1] Thomas and Conant [1999], 51-2.

      [2] Burke [2010], 437.

      [3] By 'ego-based analysis' I mean an analysis that focuses on the single individual and discards what we can reasonably surmise about the society in which that person lived.  See my opening remarks from the last post here starting with 'When we characterize person Y...'.   Thomas and Conant are not the only ones. Hall [2007], 126. “…the monumental building in the Toumba cemetery could have served as a feasting-hall and as the residence of the community’s ‘big-man’.” The Toumba being referred to is at Lefkandi on Euboea.

      [4] Thomas and Conant [1999], 26. The early 11th century resettlement of Nichoria after several generations of abandonment is not inconsistent with an influx of Dorian Greeks. Cartledge [2002] 75 et passim argues for a Dorian influx.   “…the political vacuum ensuing after the Mycenaean debâcle would certainly have provided a perfect opportunity for such an infiltration of pastoralists into the Peloponnese.”,  ibid. 82.  Also “The extent to which Messenia had been ‘Dorianized’ before the Spartan takeover is problematic, but the fact that the Messenians laid so much stress on their Dorian ancestry and retained Dorian institutions even after their liberation from Sparta in 370 … may indicate that it was not negligible.”, 102.

      [5] In fact, given the virtual certainty of Minoan/Mycenaean dynastic inter-marriage and the general propensity of human beings to mate on sight I may have to back off on my DNA remarks.

      [6] Mallory [1989] 139, ‘War of the Functions’ et passim.  On the Spartan diarchy and the wide-spread existence in the Greek world of twinned kingships see Sahlins (2011).

      [7] Lindstrom [1981] 900 ff. and Seeland [2007], 6-7 both trace the dissatisfaction with previous ‘chief’ terminology among those writing about and living in Melanesia.

      [8] Otherwise how would anyone know whom to marry?


      Burke [2010]: Brendan Burke, “Textiles”, chapter 32 in The Oxford Handbook of the Bronze Age Aegean, Oxford University Press, 2010.

      Cartledge [2002]: Paul Cartledge, Sparta and Laconia; a Regional History. 1300-362 BC., 2nd edition. Routledge, Oxford, 1975, 2002.

      Hall [2007]: Jonathan M. Hall, A History of the Archaic Greek World ca. 1200-479 BCE. Blackwell Publishing, 2007.

      Lindstrom [1981]: Lamont Lindstrom, “’Big Man: A Short Terminological History”,American Anthropologist, NS 83:4 (Dec., 1981), 900-905, Wiley. On-line here:

      Mallory [1989]:  J.P. Mallory, In Search of the Indo-Europeans; Language, Archaeology and Myth. Thames and Hudson, 1989.

      Sahlins [2011]: Marshall Sahlins with the assistance of Philip Swift, “Twin-born with greatness; the dual kingship of Sparta”, HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, I:1 63-101. 2011. On-line here:

      Seeland [2007]: Dan Seeland. “Stressing Servant Leadership in a Land of Big Men and Great Men”. Melanesian Journal of Theology 23-1 (2007) 6.

      Thomas and Conant [1999]: Carol G. Thomas and Craig Conant, Citadel to City-State: The Transformation of Greece, 1200-700 B.C.E., Indiana University Press, 1999.

      James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

      How Grown-Ups Communicate

      How Grown-Ups Communicate phd032515s

      I’m glad I saw this PHD Comic. This is a real issue. And while professors sometimes lag behind technologically, that isn’t what is going on here. Texting is simply not conducive to effective communication in the professional world. Students may think it is “old school” but when they themselves are in an old school, they need to learn the skills they will need in the future.

      That doesn’t mean learning to add punctuation to text messages. It means learning to communicate by other means entirely.


      Kristina Killgrove (Powered by Osteons)

      Twerking, limericks, and 3D printing: PbO at the 2015 AAPAs

      This Saturday, from 9:15-10am, I'll be presenting (with my grad student, Andrea Acosta) a poster about teaching Human Osteology.  It's in a session called "Triumphs and Tribulations in Teaching," and it's sure to be a fun session and discussion (that part starts at 10:15).  I'm looking forward to visiting St. Louis for the first time, seeing lots of old friends, and making new ones.

      Here's an image of the poster we're presenting (click to embiggen). If you're desperate for a PDF, here's a link to the full poster via google drive.  Hope to see you all there!

      P.S. This likely means that I will have to put off blogging about the return of Bones until I get back.  Who decided to schedule the return during the AAPAs?  Sheez.

      March 28, 2015

      Ancient Art

      Temple of the Kukulcan, Chichen Itza, 1959.Courtesy of...

      Temple of the Kukulcan, Chichen Itza, 1959.

      Courtesy of the Southern Methodist University, Central University Libraries, Bywaters Special Collections at the Hamon Arts Library. Via their online collections.

      Ancient Peoples

      Disc brooch. Copper alloy and enamel, with dolphin attached at...

      Disc brooch. Copper alloy and enamel, with dolphin attached at the centre. 2nd-3rd Century AD. Romano-British.

      (Source: British Museum)

      The Archaeology News Network

      Four Japanese sites recommended for World Heritage listing

      Four groups of historically important areas in Japan were recommended to the Cultural Affairs Agency for registration as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites, the agency announced. The Mozu tumulus group, part of the Mozu-Furuichi Kofungun Ancient  Tumulus Clusters, in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture [Credit: Asahi Shimbun]The areas are: the Jomon Archaeological Sites in Hokkaido, northern Tohoku, and other regions (Aomori, Akita and...

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

      Bolivia detects buried pyramid at Tiahuanaco site

      The government of Bolivia announced it will start exploratory excavations this year at the ancient fortress of Tiahuanaco after a buried pyramid was detected. Excavations at the pyramid of Akapana, Tiahuanaco [Credit: EFE]Ludwing Cayo, director of the Tiahuanaco Archeological Research Center, told Efe that the formation is located in the area of Kantatallita, east of the Akapana pyramid. In a presentation for the media, Cayo outlined...

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

      Carole Raddato (Following Hadrian)

      The Labours of Hercules reliefs from the Villa Chiragan, Musée Saint-Raymond Toulouse (France)

      In honour of Twitter’s international Museum Week (#MuseumWeek), I invite you today to discover some of my favourite sculptures from the collections of the Musée Saint-Raymond in Toulouse (France). The museum is among the best and richest archaeological museums in France and visitors can discover the Roman town of Tolosa (Toulouse in Roman times), the sculptures discovered at the Villa Chiragan and the remains of a necropolis from late antiquity. Its collection, spread over three floors, gives a fascinating glimpse of the history of Toulouse and its area.

      Known since the 16th century, the first excavations at the Villa Chiragan were conducted in 1826. The villa was occupied for over four centuries, from the end of the 1st century BC to the early 5th century. Dozens of Roman marble portraits were unearthed as well as a unique ensemble of reliefs depicting the twelve labours of Hercules. The reliefs date from the end of 3rd century AD, during the time of the first Tetrarchy (‘Rule of Four’) instituted by Emperor Diocletian. The empire was effectively divided in two, with an Augustus and a subordinate Caesar in each part. Diocletian appointed fellow officer Maximian as Augustus of the West.

      The Labors of Hercules, marble relief discovered at the site of the Roman villa of Chiragan, end of 3rd century AD, Musée Saint-Raymond Toulouse Carole Raddato CC BY-SA

      The Labours of Hercules, marble relief discovered at the site of the Roman villa of Chiragan, end of 3rd century AD
      Musée Saint-Raymond
      Carole Raddato CC BY-SA

      The Labours of Hercules, marble relief discovered at the site of the Roman villa of Chiragan, end of 3rd century AD, Musée Saint-Raymond Toulouse Carole Raddato CC BY-SA

      The Labours of Hercules, marble relief discovered at the site of the Roman villa of Chiragan, end of 3rd century AD
      Musée Saint-Raymond
      Carole Raddato CC BY-SA

      The emperor Maximian (286-305) was also referred to by the title of Herculius as he was under the protection of the hero Hercules. This connection between god and emperor helped to legitimize the emperors’ claims to power and tied imperial government closer to the traditional cult. A marble head of Emperor Maximian was discovered on the site of the Villa Chiragan. The emperor is depicted with similar features as Hercules; the head becomes narrow at the top, small eyes with a piercing look, prominent cheek bones, hollow cheeks, a strong lower jaw, and a very thick neck. This physique is close to that of his heroic protector Hercules.

      Marble head of Maximianus Herculius, discovered at the site of the Roman villa of Chiragan, very end of 3rd century or very beginning of 4th century AD, Musée Saint-Raymond Toulouse Carole Raddato CC BY-SA

      Marble head of Maximianus Herculius, discovered at the site of the Roman villa of Chiragan, very end of 3rd century or very beginning of 4th century AD, Musée Saint-Raymond
      Carole Raddato CC BY-SA

      The labours of Hercules reliefs appear to celebrate Maximian’s political actions and imperial victories in an allegorical manner. Such a program could have been ordered by a relative of the Emperor or by the Emperor himself. This means that the villa was a imperial domain during this period.

      Hercules battling the Lernaean Hydra

      The Labours of Hercules, marble relief discovered at the site of the Roman villa of Chiragan, Hercules and the Lernaean Hydra (2nd labour), end of 3rd century AD, Musée Saint-Raymond Toulouse Carole Raddato CC BY-SA

      The Labours of Hercules reliefs, Hercules battling the Lernaean Hydra (2nd labour)
      Musée Saint-Raymond
      Carole Raddato CC BY-SA

      To read about Hercules’ 2nd labour: The Lernean Hydra

      Hercules capturing the Erymanthian Boar

      The Labours of Hercules reliefs, Hercules capturing the Erymanthian Boar (4th labour) Musée Saint-Raymond Toulouse Carole Raddato CC BY-SA

      The Labours of Hercules reliefs, Hercules capturing the Erymanthian Boar (4th labour)
      Musée Saint-Raymond
      Carole Raddato CC BY-SA

      To read about Hercules’ 4th labour: The Erymanthean Boar

      Hercules cleaning the Augean stables

      The Labours of Hercules reliefs, Hercules cleaning the Augean stables (5th labour) Musée Saint-Raymond Toulouse Carole Raddato CC BY-SA

      The Labours of Hercules reliefs, Hercules cleaning the Augean stables (5th labour)
      Musée Saint-Raymond
      Carole Raddato CC BY-SA

      To read about Hercules’ 5th labour: The Augean Stables

      Hercules slaying the Stymphalian Birds

      The Labours of Hercules reliefs, Hercules slaying the Stymphalian Birds (6th labour)
      Musée Saint-Raymond
      Carole Raddato CC BY-SA

      To read about Hercules’ 6th labour: The Stymphalian Birds

      Hercules capturing the Cretan Bull

      The Labours of Hercules, Hercules capturing the Cretan Bull (7th labour) Musée Saint-Raymond Toulouse Carole Raddato CC BY-SA

      The Labours of Hercules, Hercules capturing the Cretan Bull (7th labour)
      Musée Saint-Raymond
      Carole Raddato CC BY-SA

      To read about Hercules’ 7th labour: The Cretan Bull

      Heracles capturing the Mares of Diomedes

      The Labours of Hercules, marble relief discovered at the site of the Roman villa of Chiragan, Heracles capturing the Mares of Diomedes (8th labour), end of 3rd century AD, Musée Saint-Raymond Toulouse Carole Raddato CC BY-SA

      The Labours of Hercules reliefs, Heracles capturing the Mares of Diomedes (8th labour)
      Musée Saint-Raymond
      Carole Raddato CC BY-SA

      To read about Hercules’ 8th labour: The Horses of Diomedes

      Hercules fighting the Amazons

      The Labours of Hercules reliefs, Hercules stealing the apples of the Hesperides (11th labour) Musée Saint-Raymond Toulouse Carole Raddato CC BY-SA

      The Labours of Hercules reliefs, Hercules fighting the Amazons (9th labour)
      Musée Saint-Raymond
      Carole Raddato CC BY-SA

      To read about Hercules’ 9th labour: The Belt of Hippolyte

      Hercules fighting the three-headed monster Geryon

      The Labours of Hercules reliefs, Hercules fighting the cattle of Geryon (10th labour)
      Musée Saint-Raymond
      Carole Raddato CC BY-SA

      To read about Hercules’ 10th labour: Geryon’s Cattle.

      You can also read an interpretation of this unique relief here and learn why the monster in this relief is represented as a Roman soldier.

      Hercules stealing the apples of the Hesperides

      The Labours of Hercules reliefs, Hercules stealing the apples of the Hesperides (11th labour) Musée Saint-Raymond Toulouse Carole Raddato CC BY-SA

      The Labours of Hercules reliefs, Hercules stealing the apples of the Hesperides (11th labour)
      Musée Saint-Raymond Toulouse
      Carole Raddato CC BY-SA

      To read about Hercules’ 11th labour: The Apples of the Hesperides

      Hercules capturing Cerberus

      The Labours of Hercules reliefs, Hercules capturing Cerberus (12th labour)
      Musée Saint-Raymond
      Carole Raddato CC BY-SA

      To read about Hercules’ 12th labour: Cerberus

      A marble statue of Hercules resting was also found at the Villa Chiragan (although it may have been executed before the Labours reliefs). This statue is one a number of copies of a bronze statue created by Lysippos in the late fourth century BC. At the end of his twelve labors, Hercules is exhausted. The statue shows the tired hero leaning on his club, which is partly concealed by the skin of the Nemean lion. Behind his back he holds the golden apples of the Hesperides, one of Hercules last labours.

      Marble statue of Hercules leaning on his club, which has the skin of the Nemean lion draped over it, 2nd - 3rd century AD, Villa Chiragan, MSR, Musée Saint-Raymond Carole Raddato CC BY-SA

      Marble statue of Hercules leaning on his club, 2nd – 3rd century AD, Villa Chiragan
      Musée Saint-Raymond
      Carole Raddato CC BY-SA

      Musée Saint-Raymond, Toulouse
      Opening hours: The museum is open every day from 10am till 6pm.
      Admission rates: 4 € fee (permanent collection) / 8 € fee (with exhibition).
      Free for students, teachers at the Fine Arts School of Toulouse, and youth under 18 years of age.
      A guidebook is available in three languages : french, english, spanish.
      Address: 1 ter place Saint-Sernin 31000 Toulouse

      Website / Twitter / Facebook

      MSR, Musée Saint-Raymond, Toulouse © Carole Raddato

      MSR, Musée Saint-Raymond, Toulouse
      © Carole Raddato

      Filed under: France, Museum, Mythology, Roman art, Roman villa Tagged: Musée Saint-Raymond

      Ancient Peoples

      Silver hairpin with figure of Venus. Romano-British, 1st-2nd...

      Silver hairpin with figure of Venus. Romano-British, 1st-2nd Century AD.

      (Source: British Museum)

      Végh Zsuzsanna and Simon Zsolt (Agyagtábla, papirusz)


      Andreas Müller-Karpe, Elisabeth Rieken, Walter Sommerfeld (Hg.): Saeculum. Gedenkschrift für Heinrich Otten anlässlich seines 100. Geburtstags. Studien zu den Boğazköy-Texten 58. Wiesbaden, Harrassowitz, 2015

      A tartalom:

      Alfonso Archi: How the Anitta text reached Hattusa

      Gary Beckman: The Sea! The Sea! A Rite from the South of Anatolia (CTH 719)

      Alexandra Daues – Elisabeth Rieken: Das Gebet der Gaššuliyawia: Struktur und Performanz

      Detlev Groddek: CTH 447 noch einmal

      Suzanne Herbordt Bemerkungen zu einem Bronzewerkzeug aus Kammer 2 (Südburg) in der Oberstadt von Hattusa

      Harry A. Hoffner, Jr.: On Some Passages about Fish

      Manfred Hutter: Die Göttin Harištašši und der harištani-Raum

      Jörg Klinger: Šuppiluliuma II. und die Spätphase der hethitischen Archive

      Jürgen Lorenz: Rituale für das Große Meer und das tarmana-Meer

      Massimiliano Marazzi: Whistle-Blowing im hethitischen Beamtentum: Eine grundlegende Pflicht

      H. Craig Melchert: Alleged “Right Dislocation” in Hittite

      Andreas Müller-Karpe: Archäologische Beiträge zur Kenntnis hethitischer Maße und Gewichte

      Norbert Oettinger: Heth. šāša- ‚Wildziege‘ und šašā- (ein Vogel) typologisch betrachtet

      Franca Pecchioli Daddi†: The Economical and Social Structure of a Holy City: the Case of Zippalanda

      Massimo Poetto: DINGIRSassa

      Andreas Schachner: Zu Hause beim GAL MEŠEDI in Hattuša

      Daniel Schwemer: Secret Knowledge of Lu-Nanna, the Sage of Ur: Six Astral Rituals for Gaining Power and Success (BM 38599)

      Jürgen Seeher: Wo sind die Toten der Hethiter? Überlegungen zum Fehlen von spätbronzezeitlichen Bestattungsplätzen in Zentralanatolien

      Jana Siegelová: Die hethitische Königin und die Wirtschaft der Krone

      Walter Sommerfeld: Girsu-Texte der Akkade-Zeit in Istanbul – eine Nachlese

      Oğuz Soysal: Einige Beispiele mit abweichender Position und Funktion des Zeichens L. 312 „VIR“ in den hieroglyphischen Siegelinschriften

      Piotr Taracha: Mycenaean peer(s) of the king of Ahhiyawa? A note on the Tawagalawa Letter

      Giulia Torri: Remarks about the transmission of festival texts concerning the cult of Lelwani (based on the fragment KBo 13.216 + KBo 56.89 (+) KBo 56.90)

      Theo van den Hout: Zu einer Stratigraphie der hethitischen Totenrituale

      Gernot Wilhelm: Zu verlorengegangenen Tafelsammlungen in der Oberstadt von Hattuša

      Dienekes' Anthropology Blog

      Afanasievo, Okunev, Andronovo, Sintashta DNA?

      A reader alerts me to this article in Russian, but you can use Google Translate to get the gist of it. Some interesting bits (note that "pit"=Yamna):
      I can not ignore the question I now have is particularly exciting - the origin of the Indo-Europeans. Community Indo-Europeists animatedly discussing just appeared as a preprint work of David Raika and his colleagues discovered by studying the genomes of people Neolithic and Bronze Age that a decisive influence on the genetic landscape of Europe has had a migration of people pit culture to the north and west in the middle of the III millennium. BC .e. As a result, according to geneticists, there was a population associated with the Corded Ware culture, and from it are the origin of the later Indo-European. By the same conclusions about the same time came the other team's leading geneticists led by Eske Villerslevom.

      A steppe, we thought had long been a special world, and differs sharply from the Middle East, and from the European. Migration from there - so it seemed - were mainly directed not to the west and to the east, along the steppes, in the direction of Central Asia, which the ancient Indo-Europeans, Afanasiev media culture (descendants of the people of the pit culture or their ancestors steppe) reached no later turn IV- III millennium BC. It is now confirmed and the group Villersleva.

      By the way, it also happens that paleoanthropologists prompted geneticists way of research - and turned out to be right. As it happens, for example, with native Okunevskaya culture of South Siberia. When 20 years ago, we found that craniologically (by a combination of traditional measurement and we proposed new informative features of the structure of the cranial sutures and holes) okunevtsy - "cousins" of American Indians, few believed us. Firstly, in okunevtsah ever seen Caucasoid-Mongoloid Métis like the Kazakhs, and secondly, the ancestors of the Indians withdrew from Siberia to the New World at least 10 thousand. Before the Yenisey there Okunevskaya culture.

      Eske Willerslev Now and his colleagues have fully confirmed our conclusion. They confirmed the close relationship between the carriers and the pit Afanasiev cultures and migration ancestors sintashtintsev and Andronov from Europe in the Urals and further to Siberia - but this is already a long time, few archaeologists and anthropologists doubted.
      I hope more details will appear soon on what promises to be a very interesting new study. The author seems to be referring to his theory of a relationship between Okunev and Amerindians, and I'm wondering if this is simply "Ancient North Eurasian" ancestry or an even more specific link. Any Russian readers who can dig up more information are invited to post in the comments.

      BiblePlaces Blog

      Weekend Roundup, Part 1

      Just before Palm Sunday, Jesus made the trek from Jericho to Jerusalem. What did he see?

      A good book to read this week in the days leading up to Good Friday is The Final Days of Jesus, now $3.99 on Kindle.

      The Temple Institute has built a sacrificial altar to be used in the Third Temple. Leen Ritmeyer comments.

      Who is buried in the Prophetess Hulda’s tomb on the Mount of Olives? Miriam Feinberg Vamosh considers the question in a premium article at Haaretz.

      The city of Afula plans to preserve its archaeological remains which span from the Chalcolithic to the Crusader periods.

      Aren Maeir visited Hebron and took some photos of the ancient fortifications.

      Leon Mauldin is in Athens now and shares some photos from the acropolis museum.

      A large underground city has been discovered in Cappadocia.

      You can vote for your favorite excavation photo in this year’s AIA Photo Contest. (No registration required.)

      Now $0.99 on Kindle: The World and the Word: An Introduction to the Old Testament, by Eugene H. Merrill, Mark Rooker, and Michael A. Grisanti. Also $0.99 on Vyrso.

      HT: Agade

      The Archaeology News Network

      Race to save antiquities in Syria

      Workers at Syria s National Museum of Damascus carefully wrap statues and place them in boxes to be transported to a safe place, hoping to save the priceless pieces from theft or destruction. Some of the 700 Iraqi antiquities which have been in the care of Syria authorities  are displayed at the National Syrian Museum in Damascus, on April 23, 2008  [Credit: AFP/Louai Beshara]Since his 2012 appointment as head of...

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

      American Philological Association

      CFP: Minds on Stage: Cognitive Approaches to Greek Tragedy

      First Call for Papers

      Leiden, 15-16 April 2016

      Cognitive approaches to classical literature have been steadily gathering steam in recent years. This conference focuses on Greek tragedy, a genre that has a long history of being read ‘cognitively’. Ever since Aristotle, many of the central themes in research on Greek tragedy centre on minds – the minds of the dramatis personae, the actors, the authors, the viewers, the readers, the artists, the scribes.

      This conference hopes to bring together those interested in both Greek tragedy and questions of cognition, with the aim of taking stock as well as exploring new cognitively-inflected approaches to classical texts.

      We invite papers on any aspect of the field, including (e.g.) plotting, conventions, character, masks, props, visual representations, transmission, mind-reading, false belief, social reasoning, audience response, and the cognitive role of tragedy in ancient society.

      Please send your abstracts by June 15th, 2015 (please copy both organizers!) to:

      The Archaeology News Network

      Medieval priory discovered in Northumberland

      The remains of what is believed to be a medieval priory have been unearthed following a Time Team-style dig by Northumberland villagers. Local volunteers working at the ancient priory dig site next to St Mary the Virgin  church in Holystone [Credit: Newcastle Chronicle]The 12-strong team at Holystone in Upper Coquetdale had just five days to carry out the excavations next to the village’s St Mary’s Church. It was the latest in...

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

      Stone-Age Italians defleshed their dead

      About 7000 years ago in Italy, early farmers practiced an unusual burial ritual known as “defleshing.” When people died, villagers stripped their bones bare, pulled them apart, and mingled them with animal remains in a nearby cave. The practice was meant to separate the dead from the living, researchers say, writing in the latest issue of the journal Antiquity. Defleshed and disarticulated bones found during excavations of Scaloria...

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

      Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

      Detecting trouble: The Treasure Hunters Digging up our Heritage

      Artefact hunters with metal detectors trespassing on historic sites or across farmers’ fields are once again causing a headache for landowners. But now police are cracking down and the heritage crime programme has handled more than 130 cases since 2011.
      According to Kevin Attwood, of the National Farmers’ Union: “It is a problem in the county, and there are two levels. The first one is the low level, individuals with metal detectors looking around on land they are not meant to be on. “They are more of an irritant than anything, and when approached, they will generally leave. “The other level is more organised and tends to be on farm land, or where there are listed monuments. It’s more illicit, usually at night and can cause a lot of damage. We do see both levels across parts of Kent, and it ebbs and flows.”
      The damage caused by illegal artefact hunting can have far-reaching 
      A spokesman for English Heritage explained: “Removal of archaeological material can irretrievably distort the archaeological ‘signature’ of a site, or even destroy it altogether. “Artefacts retrieved from primary contexts in this way lose much or all of their potential to inform about the past, and may suffer substantial 
damage. “Destruction of archaeological layers and the removal of objects does not just affect the archaeologists’ understanding of a site but also destroys that information and knowledge of our shared heritage, which should be available to all.”
      But of course the spokesman - eager to play the political correctness game ["Nighthawkers [sic] can also bring the practice of metal detecting into disrepute, although they are two very different activities"] - illogically skips mention that artefact hunting does that anyway, legal or not. They are not really such "different activities", the difference being only two slips of paper, a search agreement with the landowner, and a finds release document for individual artefacts, giving the legal finder title to it.  Without those documents associated with the products of the hunt, there is no difference when seen from the point of view of what happens to the archaeological assemblages and sites exploited by these collectors.  

      Maria Chiorando, 'Detecting trouble: The treasure hunters digging up our heritage', Kent News 28th  March 2015.

      James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

      Larry Berhrendt on Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Acts

      Berhrendt quote RFRA

      Larry Behrendt wrote the above words in a comment here on this blog, and I asked for permission to share them with a wider audience. His own blog post “Madness in Indiana” is also important, offering a careful reading of the law that many are discussing, but often in abstraction from the details of what the law actually says.

      American Philological Association

      Call for Applications: Globalized Classics

      Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

      Ksomos Summer University 2015

      Applications are invited for a summer university on “Globalized Classics”, held in Berlin in August/September 2015.

      The summer university is devoted to the study of the Ancient World from comparative and interdisciplinary points of view. It will examine the impact of globalization and non-Western perspectives on the study of the Graeco-Roman Classics. It will also reflect on the principles and the history of classical scholarship and compare these with learned practices of non-Western ancient civilizations in dealing with their own traditions of canonical texts and artefacts.

      The activities of the summer university will comprise two components, each of which can be attended separately:

      Second Moisa International Summer School in Ancient Greek Music

      June 30th to July 4th 2015

      Following the great success of last year’s event, the University of Trento will host the Second Moisa International Summer School in Ancient Greek Music from June, 30th to July, 4th 2015.

      The Summer School aims at providing a detailed and comprehensive overview of the most important problems and methodologies involved in the study of ancient Greek music, both in terms of musical theory and instrumental performance. The students will be introduced to the key theoretical concepts employed in these studies as well as to bibliographic resources they may use in order to pursue further studies independently.

      The School is designed primarily for university students, both undergraduate and graduate, and for scholars interested in the study of ancient Greek music. Given the interdisciplinary nature of the subjects we will discuss, the School may also be of interest to Secondary School teachers wishing to enhance their backgrounds or acquire continuing education training.

      CFP: Women and the Birth of Democracy in Classical Athens

      International Conference at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL, USA

      March 24-25, 2016

      The conference will explore the ideology of “female inferiority” as prompted by ancient democratic laws, especially citizenship laws, and as cultivated in Classical literature and beyond. In much the same way that Lycurgus’ legislation changed dramatically the character of Spartan society, Solon’s laws transformed both the political system in Athens and the social position of women. The Homeric epics offer a good baseline for the status and social function of women in pre- or non-democratic systems, in which women’s value was relatively high. After the institution of democracy, however, when citizenship and voting rights were granted only to qualified males, women’s value decreased significantly. Proposals are invited for papers and presentations that will highlight the causes of this phenomenon and examine its effect on the development of an ideology of “female inferiority” in ancient writings, especially those of Hippocrates, Plato, and Aristotle.

      James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

      LOST Rewatch: The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham

      This episode was apparently supposed to air before 316. It begins with Cesar searching in the Dharma station on Hydra island. He finds Daniel’s notes. This is crucially important, as it explains how the Others knew details about when the plane would come, and thus built a runway. Daniel eventually met up with those who returned on Ajira 316, and wrote it down.

      Then we learn that John Locke is on the island, alive.

      Locke suicideThen the story goes back to when he left the island, and woke up in the desert in Tunisia, his leg badly broken. Men speaking Arabic come and get him and take him to a hospital. Matthew Abaddon is there. They set his leg. When he wakes up, Widmore and Locke talk. He says he met him when he was 17, yet here he is, looking exactly the same. He asks him how long it has been for him since they first met. He says four days.

      Widmore says that he was exiled by Ben. Locke says that he left willingly. Widmore tells John that his friends have been back for three years. Widmore offers to help him bring his friends back. He says that there is a war coming, and if John is not back on the island when that happens, the wrong side is going to win.

      Widmore gives Locke a fake Canadian passport, money, and a phone, as well as a folder with the whereabouts of his people. He has been watching them, because he is concerned about the future of the island. Widmore says that he sent the boat to the island to get rid of Linus, because now it is Locke’s time to lead. When he leaves, Widmore wishes John good luck and godspeed. A wheelchair is provided.

      Locke goes to see Sayid in Santo Domingo first, where he is working to build a school for a charity. Sayid says that Ben manipulated him, and asks who is manipulating John. Sayid says that if John changes his mind, he is welcome to come back there and do some real good.

      Next in New York, Locke goes to see Walt. Walt had been having dreams about John being on the island, surrounded by people who want to hurt him. He does not ask Walt to return to the island. And we see Ben Linus watching.

      Next Locke goes to see Hugo. At first, he assumes John is dead. When he sees Abbadon, he says that he is evil and that John should not be trusting him. Matthew tells John that he helps people get where they need to go, and reminds him of the time when he was an orderly in the hospital, and told John to go on a walkabout, leading him to the island.

      Next, John talks to Kate. She says he was desperate to stay on that island because he never loved anyone. He tells her about Helen. He says it didn’t work out, because he was obsessed. Kate says “Look how far you’ve come.” Then we learn that Helen died in 2006 of a brain aneurism. Then Matthew Abbadon is shot, and so John gets in the front seat of the car and drives away, and is in an accident. When he comes to in the hospital, Jack Shephard is his doctor and asks him what he is doing there. Locke says they have to go back. Jack asks him whether he has ever considered the possibility that his delusions of his importance are just that, delusions, and that he is just a lonely old man. Locke tells him that his father, Christian, says hello.

      Next we see Locke writing his suicide note, and throwing out the phone that Widmore gave him. He uses an electrical cord to make a noose. He is ready to step off the table, when there is a knock at the door. It is Ben. He says that he is trying to protect him. Ben killed Abbadon. Ben says that Widmore sould have killed him, and was using him to get back to the island. Ben tells him that he is important and asks him to let him help him. Locke says he is a failure. Ben tells him that whatever he said to Jack worked – he booked a ticket to Sydney, returning in the morning. Ben helps Locke down from the table. When Ben gets the last piece of information that he needs – that Eloise Hawking is the one who can get them back to the island – Ben strangles John, then cleaning up and making it look like a suicide. Before leaving, Ben says he will really miss John.

      Then back in the present day, Cesar tells John Locke about the people who disappeared, and other people who got hurt, as well as the pilot and a woman who ran off, taking the passenger list. When he sees Ben, he says that he is the man who murdered him.

      This is a fascinating episode to re-watch, since it seems on the first viewing to validate Locke’s faith, and yet with hindsight, knowing what follows, we know that it does quite the opposite – that Kate’s words about him were on target, and that his belief in his own self-importance left him open to manipulation. Yet ultimately, Jack will say that Locke was right about a lot, and that Smokey dishonors him by taking on his appearance.



      Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

      UK Metal Detecting: Fiction Relentlessly Presented as Fact

      I was amused to see that about the same time as I pressed "send" on my "Metal Detectorists Get Confused", a new post appeared on The Heritage Journal ('Metal detecting: all’s well that’s Orwell?', 28th March 2015, where both mention detectorist-blogger John Winter's comments on the Lammy gaffe:
      fiction relentlessly presented as fact [...] Mr Winter benefits from the fact some of his readers are pretty uninformed so it's easy to play to the gallery. Thus he has just resurrected Minister Lammy's "heroes" statement using the same selective justifications, emphasising the positives and totally ignoring the massive downside, the widespread knowledge theft. That might get you backslapped Mr Winter but it's not being honest with the public.
      They go on to make a similar point about the PAS:
      Who can fail to notice that much of what it says and does is devoted to delivering a relentless propaganda of success, presumably to promote its own continuance? [...] Metal detecting is simply not as heroic or educated or moral as PAS constantly portrays it to be. Like in the case of Mr Winter, presenting a concocted account is not honest, it's Orwellian. 
      The example is given of the Lenborough Hoard Fiasco, which Roger Bland represents as
      "a rescue job and Ros, as our sole FLO at event with about a hundred metal detector users, did a heroic job in the circumstances and ensured that all the coins were recovered".
      HA comment on this in their usual trenchant form:
      Note the use of the H word, heroic, instead of hurried, echoing Minister Lammy. Pure Nineteen Eighty Four! It was a rescue alright, but presented like a corkscrew. Why not tell the public straight out (rather than coyly hinting it to those in the know) that the main peril was from some of those present? And why not admit that the FLO's otherwise inexplicable and otherwise unprofessional decision not to ensure the hoard was guarded overnight was due to pressure and opposition from those around her? Had they been amateur archaeologists the matter would have been dealt with properly. Fact.
      Fact, not fiction. Why can we not have the facts about current policies n UK artefact hunting out in the open instead of the boxload of fob-off fictional mantras and refusals to discuss the issues frankly and openly which is all the PAS and its metal detecting "partners" have to offer stakeholders?

      Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

      ISSL: The Index to the Sumerian Secondary Literature

      ISSL: The Index to the Sumerian Secondary Literature
      Over 70,000 references to the Sumerian secondary literature which also indexes all of the transliterations of word writings in ePSD.

      Open Access Monograph Series: Materialien zum Sumerischen Lexikon Online (early volumes)

      [First posted in AWOL 8 September 2011, updated 28 March 2015]

      Eight early volumes of Materialien zum Sumerischen Lexikon courtesy of the Oriental Institute Research Archives
      I. Die Serie ana ittišu. Landsberger, Benno. 1937. 
      II. Die Serie Ur-e-a = nâqu. Landsberger, Benno. 1951
      III. Das Syllabar A - Das Vokabular Sª - Das Vokabular Sb - Berichtigungen und Nachträge zu MSL II - Indices zu MSL II. Landsberger, Benno - Hallock, Richard T. - Sachs, A. - Schuster, h.s. 1955.
      IV. Introduction; Part 1: Emesal-vocabulary; Part 2: Old Babylonian Grammatical Texts; Part 3: Neobabylonian Grammatical Texts; Nachträge zu MSL III. Landsberger, Benno - Hallock, Richard T. - Jacobsen, Thorkild - Falkenstein, Adam. 1956
      V. The Series HAR-ra = hubullu. Tablets I-IV. Landsberger, B. 1957.
      VI. The Series HAR-ra = hubullu. Tablets V-VII. Landsberger, B. 1958.
      VIII/1 The Fauna of Ancient Mesopotamia. First Part: Tablet XIII. Landsberger, B. - Draffkorn Kilmer, Anne - Gordon, Edmund I. 1960.
      VIII/2. The Fauna of Ancient Mesopotamia. Second Part: HAR-ra = hubullu. Tablets XIV and XVIII. Landsberger Benno - Draffkorn Kilmer Anne. 1962.

      David Gill (Looting Matters)

      Mosaic glass: from Antinoupolis to London

      Bonhams online catalogue showing lot 65
      Dr Roberta Mazza has published an important discussion of a piece of Roman mosaic glass apparently from Antinoupolis in Egypt ("From Egypt to London: looting in Antinoupolis (el Sheikh ‘Abadah)", Faces and Voices, March 27, 2015). She draws attention to published research by Rosario Pintaudi who  has worked at the site. Mazza notes:
      This little and beautiful piece traveled from Egypt to the showrooms of Bonhams in London, where the sale was stopped by the police, after the object sold for about £ 5,000.
      The fragment was offered at Bonhams in London in their sale of antiquities on 23 October 2013, lot 65. The collecting history ("provenance") was given as "English private collection, acquired in the late 1960s".

      The article is “Latrones: furti e recuperi da Antinoupolis”, Analecta Papyrologica XXVI 2014 pp. 359-402 and is available from This fragment is discussed on pp. 367-70.

      Mazza also raises questions about lot 64 that came from "English private collection, acquired in the mid-1970s".

      This raises various questions for Bonhams. Who was the vendor? What other objects were consigned by this individual (or individuals) in this and other sales? Which member of the Bonhams team conducted the due diligence search? What is the basis of the stated so-called "provenance"? What documents were shown to Bonhams?

      It is significant that concerns were raised by the Egyptian authorities at the time of the sale ("Egypt’s government cracks down on illicit sales", Art Newspaper 31 October 2013):
      This month, Bonhams planned to auction a set of 165 Egyptian artefacts. According to the website Egypt Independent, Mohamed Ibrahim, Egypt’s head of antiquities, requested documentation from the auction house to prove that the artefacts had left Egypt legally. Bonhams spokesman Julian Roup, however, says that that the firm received no official request from the police, the Egyptian embassy or Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities, and that the provenance in all cases was sound. The sale went ahead ...
      Will Bonhams be conducting an internal investigation into how this piece was allowed to come to auction?

      Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

      Archaeological News on Tumblr

      Well preserved stapes in Neanderthal child differs from Homo sapiens

      The Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) inhabited Europe and parts of western Asia between 230,000...

      David Gill (Looting Matters)

      Mithras seized in Italy

      Mithraic group seized in Italy. Source MiBAC.
      Italian authorities have seized a statue of Mithras ("I CARABINIERI DEL COMANDO TPC RECUPERANO TRE OPERE DI STRAORDINARIO VALORE ARTISTICO", 27 March 2015, press release). The group seems to have been removed from a site in the vicinity of Tarquinia. The site itself has now been investigated.

      The group was being transported in a van with plants. After being stopped the hired van was found to contain maps of Switzerland indicating the statue's immediate destination.

      I am grateful to Fabio Isman for drawing my attention to this seizure.

      Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

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      Istanbul – city of legends and fairy tales

      A city of 400 legends and 100 fairy tales could only be Istanbul, the mysterious city overlooking...

      Bolivia detects buried pyramid at Tiahuanaco site

      The government of Bolivia announced it will start exploratory excavations this year at the ancient...

      James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

      Those Arrogant Scientsts

      I don't trust scientists

      I’ve seen the image above in several places, including Open Parachute. I think there is a more widespread cultural issue behind this. Boasting that your child is a successful athlete or a beauty pageant winner is not viewed in the same way as boasting that your child is an intellectual genius, is it? I wonder whether we do not have a cultural issue of people viewing scientific kinds of expertise in a way that they would not view sporting, musical, technical, mechanical, or other kinds of expertise. If so, why do you think that is?

      Jim Davila (

      Elior's Hekhalot Zutarti now an eBook

      MAGNES PRESS has just announced that some of its older publications are now being re-released as eBooks. Prominent among them is:
      Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought supplement A (1982)

      By Rachel Elior

      Purchase options: Price Site price
      Online book & PDF download $ 10.50
      Online book for libraries
      Total $ 10.50

      Publisher: The Hebrew University Magnes Press
      Jerusalem Studies In Jewish Thought
      Jewish Mysticism
      Publish date: January 1982
      Language: Hebrew

      Danacode: 45-141002
      ISSN: 0333-7081
      Pages: 98

      Hekhalot Zutarti or 'Lesser Hekhalot' is one of the fragmentary mystical documents of the various texts comprising the Hekhalot literature and indeed has long been considered one of the earlier examples. The first reference to this text which until now has never been completely published, is found in the tenth century 'Responsum' of Rav Hai Gaon, the head of a Babylonian academy, citing the well known Talmudic fragment of the Treatise Hagigah relating to the dangers of mystical practice . Hai Gaon has written:
      "There are two myshnayot that the Tanaim are teaching in that matter and they are called Hekhalot Rabbati and Hekhalot Zutarti and that is well known. About these contemplations said the Tana, "four entered the orchard" it is also explained in that Baraita, Rabbi Akiva spoke to them "When you come to the place of the pure marble plates then do not say: Water, Water'. In Hekhalot Zutarti it is said: the entrance of the sixth palace looks like thousands and ten thousands of waves of water but there is not one drop of water only an air of splendor from the pure marble paving stones with an appearance like unto water".

      Except for this quote relating to the gate of the sixth palace which gives us our only textual touchpoint as to the indentity of the text, we possess no further positive evidence as to its contents, its beginning or its end, its character or its form.

      In the principal manuscripts of the Hekhalot Literature we do not find a text entitled Hekhalot Zutarti. The true identity of the text should be questioned since its existance is based on such slender evidence.
      A. Jellinek was the first to suggest that certain fragments of Oxford manuscript 1531 is Hekhalot Zutarti. This identification together with its parallels in other manuscripts, has been accepted in a l l subsequent research. The survey of the manuscripts containing the Hekhalot tracts does not verify this arbitrary assumption since the passages containing Hekhalot Zutarti, according to Jellinekfs suggestion , do not present a continuous composition or a textual unit but rather a conglomeration of somewhat related bits and pieces .
      In the Hekhalot Zutarti as identified by Jellinek there are several different strata of Merkaba tradition unrelated as to author, chronological date of writting , and of form. We find about ten non successive passages a l l beginning with the words ״Rabbi Akiva spoke:" There is no continuous plot to bind these fragments as a whole and further in the Hekhalot literature we find many other and similar paragraphs which are also attributed to Rabbi Akiva.

      There are other portions of Hekhaloth Zutarti which can be found in some texts comprising the Hekhalot literature such as: "Shiur Quoma", Sar Torah", "Metatron", "Ezekiel's Chariot" and the long lists of secret names of the Deity and his wardens. The editorial considerations, therefore , for including each particular passage in Hekhalot Zutarti are not readily appearent and the compilation of these fragments in to a structural whole must seriously be questioned.

      This author sees them as most probably representing various mystical traditions from different circles of Yordi Merkava, copied in a haphazard manner with no attempt to attain textual unity .
      Hekhalot Zutarti should not be considered as an unfolding narrative or book but rather different forms of literature which grew from a nucleus of idea , situation , or perhaps a true mystical experience and to which has been grafted, with the passing o f time, other similiar traditions and new material.

      If these passages must be seen- as a unit, then their nucleus must be the well known archtypical mystical experience of Rabbi Akiva - the four who entered the orchard - since their uniqueness is obviously founded on the visionary experience.

      However, it is doubtful that at any time these parts were truly compiled together in a more coherent manner than we now possess.

      It has been accepted in previous research that Hekhalot Zutarti is the oldest text of this literature , however, no philological analysis has ever been attempted to prove this the thesis.Taking into consideration the nonhomogeneous character o f the text as described above, no generalization as to the antiquity of the text as a whole should be made.

      Several negative generalizations can be infered , to wit: Hekhalot Zutarti does not reflect a specific time or historical occurance; it is lacking any eschatological orientation or apocalyptical characterizations as found in other texts of Hekhalot literature; and, it is lacking any literary framework binding its various parts. Perhaps the only true connecting link , excepting the central position of Rabbi Akiva, is the importance stressed on the mystical meaning inherent in the secret and sacred names of the Deity.

      This critical edition of Hekhalot Zutarti is based on the Jewish Theological Seminary manuscript 8128 and the different variations as found in the other major manuscripts, it also contains the abridged contents and detailed notes, and includes an introduction dealing with the various aspects and problems as outlined in this summary.
      Elior's critical edition of the Hekhalot Zutarti was published before Schäfer's Synopse zur Hekhalot-Literatur and it remains an important resource, albeit one that had become hard to find. It is good news that Magnes Press is making it available again, and at a very reasonable price.

      Other newly re-released Hebrew Magnes eBooks include:

      Shulamit Elizur, Rabbi Eleazar be-rabbi Qilar Liturgical Poems

      Ephraim E. Urbach From the World of the Sages

      Israel Knohl, THE SANCTUARY OF SILENCE. A study of the priestly strata in the Pentateuch

      American School of Classical Studies in Athens: Events

      Παρατηρήσεις σε ενεπίγραφα αναθήματα του 4ου αι. π.Χ. από την Ακρόπολη των Αθηνών

      March 31, 2015 - 9:20 AM - Επιγραφικές συναντήσεις Ειρήνη-Λουκία Χωρέμη - Ελληνική Επιγραφική Εταιρεία

      Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

      Macedonia museum staff guilty of trafficking artefacts

      Agence France-Presse, 'Macedonia museum staff guilty of trafficking artefacts', March 3, 2015
      The former director of Macedonia's national museum and six other people have been found guilty of trafficking 162 ancient artefacts, a Macedonian court said Friday. Pero Josifovski [...] was jailed for seven years and eight months, while his accomplices - five of whom were also museum staff - received prison sentences ranging from one to seven years. [...] The stolen objects, which included 121 made of pure gold, date back to the classical era and stem from the famous archeological site of Isar Marvinci in Macedonia's southeast.

      Jona Lendering (New at LacusCurtius and Livius.Org)

      Heroes: Back to the beginning



      The day before yesterday I announced a series of articles on the great scholars who contributed to our ever-changing image of Antiquity. The philologists, the archaeologists, the historians, the ethnographers, the social scientists, the epigraphers, the numismatists, the papyrologists, and those specialized in one region: the Egyptologists, the Biblical scholars, the Assyriologists, the Qumranologists, the Etruscologists, the Iranologists, the Mycenologists, the Hittitologists – you name a subject and there’s a subdiscipline for it.

      Every age adds new approaches to the study of Antiquity. “Big data” has already revolutionized the study of historical linguistics and may at this moment be changing the way we look at historical causality. New fields of research continue to be developed

      [Read more on the website of Ancient History Magazine]

      Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

      Roger Bland on the so-called Crosby Garrett Helmet and the Lenborough Hoard

      (Looting Matters Tuesday, March 24, 2015)
      "Bland has only placed his notes on line and not his refined final views. But his online presentation appears to overlook some of the key issues relating to both these 'finds'...". 
      There is, quite simply, no "appear" about it.

      There is a jump in logic in the first case. At Crosby Garrett the FLOs were eventually shown a hole, well after the object had been rushed off to Christie's; they were not shown the helmet in situ, or any photos of the helmet in situ. Bits of bronze plate from the fill of the hole found many months later may be from the helmet, they do not and can not prove post-fact that the helmet had ever been in that particular hole. Indeed the stratigraphy suggests that there are problems accepting that it had. The helmet and the floor layer the deposition pit cut through differ in date by up to three hundred years - where had the helmet been all that time, and why was it only buried when it was? Such a helmet would be more likely to be used and found somewhere near a major northern fort (such as Catterick, for example); who carted it all the way to a remote hilltop pasture and buried it, when and why? The subsequent small-scale excavation of the findspot reported by the finders supplied no answers.

      At Lenborough, why was it a "rescue" situation on an unthreatened earthwork site in the HER? What has the presence of 100 PAS-partner metal detectorists got to do with anything? Dr Bland says:
      "They did not appear to have been laid in any order and there was no trace of, or room for them to have been in leather pouches".
      Did not "appear"? How on earth can anyone tell coming down on top of it in a narrow steep-sided hole in the fading light of a mid-winter afternoon?  Excavation - "rescue" or not - does not depend on "appear", it requires documentation. Where is the documentation that the coins were randomly scattered throughout the pile?  We note the apparent lack of any substantive discussion of the archaeological shortcomings of the Lenborough Hoard removal on the PAS's own internal forum.  Dr Bland is indeed totally missing the point about what people (archaeologists) are saying about what the Portable Antiquities Scheme did here and about what it is gobbling up millions of pounds claiming to be able to do.

      Still, it is nice to note that Dr Bland is not entirely oblivious to what "some people on the Internet" are saying. One day the PAS will realise that they cannot go on dodging the very real questions that exist about what they are doing.

      CPAC Comments on Italy MOU

      It is now past midnight Washington time, and a little window on the website docket on the Italy MOU renewal tells us there were "274 Comments Received", and of these 297 have been posted up (uh?) so I guess before the coineys accuse them of "vote-rigging", we'll have to wait for the DOS to sort themselves out before we know the real tally. Several people who I know commented do not yet figure in the list - I guess the update will be on Monday.

      The coineys were urged by Mr Lehman to say how they feel, and one or two did... SueMcGovern feels so strongly about it all, she posted twice (here and here). The dealer Paul-Francis Jacquier is another double-poster, he's honest enough to admit it's all about the money. Another double-poster was William Tse, who sent the same capitalised message twice: "American Freedoms should not be Stifled just to appease foreign governments. We are the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and NOT THE UNITED STATES OF ITALY!!! Enough is..." repeated hereCharlton Patterson is another double-poster ("Enough is enough. This MOU should be allowed to lapse. Its negative impacts on collecting and the appreciation of Italian culture and people").  Thomas R. Miller has one comment here and a much more entertaining one here
      You should check out the British antiquities laws. They make so much sense that ours look pretty stupid in comparison.
      I would say the fact that these "antiquity laws" to which he refers have nothing to do with what CCPIA regulates rather makes somebody else look stupid, actually. But then its rocket science to somebody who cannot count how many comments he's sent I guess (by the way, in the longer one, he gets the name of the Treasure Act wrong and obviously does not know how it operates).

      There are two texts, one from a B.R.Bell, and another by Benjamin Bell. Are they the same author? Take a look and decide for yourselves, they are quite entertaining anyway and miss the point entirely. One quotes the Bible in support of abandoning America's obligations under the 1970 UNESCO Convention.

      Then we have the deeply considered thoughts of Dick Stout, veteran metal detectorist and coin shooter
      (see here: 'Metal Detectorists Support Artefact Smuggling' for his reasoning behind this comment): "Please let this regulation lapse. It serves no purpose other than to disenfranchise collectors. Time to turn the page...." (Eh?) That's it, he breaks off mid-sentence. His British metal detecting sidekick and staunch supporter of the IAPN and PNG John Howland cuts and pastes and then adds a trenchant comment of his own:
      Restrictions will negatively impact on the cultural understanding and people to people contacts collecting provides. It's typically impossible to assume a particular coin (especially a Roman one) was first discovered within and subject to the export control of Italy. Italian historical coins are very common and widely and legally available for sale elsewhere, and it's the absurd to restrict coins freely available for sale in Italy itself. Utter lunacy.
      Mr Howland's own collecting activities have a very strong effect on the degree and nature of his cultural empathy and people-to-people contacts.

      His BFF Peter Tompa also writes twice, once as the lobbyist of the IAPN and PNG ("as a representative of the small businesses of the numismatic trade") and then on his own behalf as a collector. The IAPN and PNG want the CPAC to recommend that instead of following the CCPIA (how so?) for coins they should recommend that:
      Any renewal should let import restrictions, particularly on coins, lapse. No new restrictions should countenanced on late Roman Republican or Roman Imperial coins. CBP should be directed to allow entry of coins of the sort lawfully available for sale in Italy that are accompanied by E.U. export permit or other documentation evidencing legal export from an E.U. member state.
      So, scrutiny of coin imports should "lapse" but also EU export licences should be accepted - some contradiction there, no? Two things, first of all the EU did not exist when the CCPIA was drafted, to recognize this kind of export licence, the CCPIA needs to be rewritten or amended (I'm all for that, let us tighten it up and make it more suitable for the job in the markets of the 21st century). Secondly what it seems the IAPN and PNG are slyly trying to slip in here can be seen as nothing else than paving the way for a smugglers' carte blanche. As everybody knows (including Professor Gerstenblith I am sure), current EU Regulations on the export of cultural goods do not require export licences for most ancient coins, though the national regulations of countries within the EU (the UK and Italy for example) in different circumstances do. The IAPN and PNG apparently want the EU regulations to cancel out the laws and expectations of the individual countries. Just what kind of legal advice are the IAPN and PNG paying Peter Tompa for? Mr Tompa's "own" contribution is merely the text he posted up for other collectors to copy and paste in his mass mailing campaign.Odd though isn't it that the lawyer himself does not ask the CPAC for what the IAPN and PNG do. Also the size of his comment from the IAPN and PNG suggests he might be paid by the word, there is sop much totally superfluous padding that this looks a real possibility.

      I note that  Ed Snible suggests instead of export licence checks, that "less drastic" would be: "Let us make markets more transparent, and provide no incentive for secrecy" I am sure there'll be many responsible collectors 100% behind him there - how many dealers are? (He adds pointedly: "I am a coin collector and independent scholar. I am not a dealer nor do I have a financial interest in this matter".) How many of the other commentators can claim the same?

      Now I expect Peter Tompa will be sitting down soon to count up the "yays" and "nays" to announce that once again coiney mass mailing "won the competition". In the words of Mr Howland, utter lunacy.

      Ethical Metal Detecting Association

      Which way to best practice
      in artefact collecting?
      There is a more succinct version of the principles of the 'Ethical Metal Detecting Association' which no doubt has been much discussed by the Portable Antiquities Scheme on their hidden forum in recent months, this was first published on 13th December 2010 and has now been republished in shorter form, 26 March 2015. The Association does not have many members at the moment, but this will no doubt change when PAS start doing some proper outreach to their partners on that elusive 'best practice'. Whenever that will be.

      Dumb Down Reporting on Illegal Artefact Hunting from Bonkers Britain's BBC

      BBC fluffy bunny reporting
      on artefact looting in UK
      "Digging for treasure: Is 'nighthawking' stealing our past?" asks Lauren Potts ‏(BBC 21st March 2015) Of course not, she answers, she's found these wonderful big numbers on the PAS website. But she's not impressed enough to ask them what their definition of responsible detecting is ("Nighthawkers [sic] are not to be confused with responsible hobbyists, who follow the code set by the National Council for Metal Detecting...."). Was a time when the BBC used to... oh, never mind.

      There is an official Code of Responsible Artefact Hunting agreed by a few more bodies than the   NCMD, but that is hardly relevant to what the headline suggests is the subject of the article. It poses a question, to which the answer can only be 'yes', and one would have hoped the article would go through the nature of the problem and the reasons for it existing and some ways we can deal with it other than just putting a few more policemen out there in muddy fields at night. Where is the interview with a nighthawk? A landowner? A member of the public who has confronted one?

      What we get is akin to the BBC having a headline about Islamist militancy and then having an article which basically consists of a series of reasons why not all Moslems are terrorists, and some figures about Moslem charity organizations or something, just to bring that point home. All very nice, but confusing two very different things.

      Who are the real "heroes"?

      David Lammy
      In his presentation 'The Portable Antiquities Scheme and Treasure Act: the Current Situation' given at the Museums Association March 2015 "Dig It: Museums and Archaeology" Conference Roger Bland trots out his usual stuff, but near the end responds to the widespread criticism of the involvement of the PAS in the hurried removal of the Lenborough Hoard from the ground . He justifies this saying:
      "This was a rescue job and Ros, as our sole FLO at event with about a hundred metal detector users, did a heroic job in the circumstances and ensured that all the coins were recovered".
      What a strange thing for the head of the Portable Antiquities Scheme to have said. I think he could not have been clearer for his audience if he'd used a synonym "with about a hundred potential thieving oiks". The FLO was rescuing the hoard from one or more of them coming back at night and stealing it, is what he is apparently saying here.

      Meanwhile in tekkie la-la-land they are still having trouble (Bazza Thugwit 'Still a National Treasure') parting from their fond memories of an unscripted remark blurted out in January 2007 by a hapless Minister of Culture who called Treasure Hunters coming for their rewards the "unsung heroes of the British Heritage". So who is the heritage hero, the bloke with metal detector eager to hoik it all out, or the archaeologists who beat them to it?

      Sell, don't Sell

      Northampton's disgraceful
      deaccession (wikipedia)

      While over in America, many dealers and collectors are supporting the smugglers and others are suggesting Italian museums should sell off some of their holdings to collectors, a call to sanity is coming from Britain:
      A UK-wide group of museum sector bodies has released a joint statement saying they will seek not to work with museums whose governing bodies sell items from their collections in contravention of the Museums Association’s (MA) Code of Ethics and the Accreditation Standard. [...]  Joint statement on unethical disposal from museum collections (pdf)

      Archaeology Magazine

      Medieval Woman’s Remains Unearthed in Wales

      NEFYN, WALES—A cist grave containing a woman’s skeleton has been unearthed at a church in North Wales. The site is thought to have been part of a medieval monastic settlement, based upon the discovery of a wall that is missing from early maps of the area. The woman in the grave, which had been covered with a large, flat stone, had been in her 60s and suffered from some arthritis when she died sometime between A.D. 1180 and 1250. Human remains from this period are rare in Wales because of the acidity of the soil. “This type of grave is generally believed to be of an early medieval date, although due to the lack of surviving skeletal remains this hypothesis often goes untested,” Catherine Rees of CR Archaeology told Culture 24. “She would have lived through some very turbulent times in Welsh history and could have lived through the rise to power of Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, or as he is more well known, Llywelyn the Great, as he consolidated north and much of Wales under his control. She may have also been alive when the famous medieval chronicler, Gerald of Wales, stayed at Nefyn in 1188 as part of a campaign to raise support for the third crusade,” she added. Studies of the isotopes in the woman’s teeth could reveal if she grew up in the area. She may have been a local resident, or she may have been a pilgrim on the route to the Christian site of Bardsey Island. To read about a similar discovery, see "Cathedral Grave May Have Belonged to a Medieval Knight."

      Laura Gibbs (Bestiaria Latina Blog)

      Latin Proverbs and Fables Round-Up: March 27

      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 a Pinterest user, you might enjoy following the Bestiaria Latina at Pinterest, and there is also a LatinLOLCat Board.

      HODIE (Roman Calendar): ante diem sextum Kalendas Apriles.

      MYTHS and LEGENDS: The art image for today's legend shows Birth of Helen, Castor, and Pollux; you can also see the legends for the current week listed together here.


      TINY PROVERBS: Today's tiny proverb is: Constans esto (English: Be steadfast).

      3-WORD MOTTOES: Today's 3-word verb-less motto is Honesta quam splendida (English: Honorable things, rather than flashy).

      ANIMAL PROVERBS: Today's animal proverb is Laesa saepius repugnat ovis (English: Wounded once too often, the sheep fights back).

      POLYDORUS: Today's proverb from Polydorus is: Funiculus triplex non facile rumpitur (English: A triple rope is not easily broken).

      PROPER NAME PROVERBS: Today's proper name proverb from Erasmus is Cyclobori vox (English: The sound of the Cycloborus; from Adagia 3.2.16 - the Cycloborus was a river in Greece, proverbial for its roaring and crashing water course; to make a sound like the Cycloborus was to make a very large noise indeed!).

      GREEK PROVERBS: Today's proverb is Ἁμ' ἕπος, ἅμ' ἔργον (English: No sooner said than done!).

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

      And here are today's proverbial LOLcats:

      In mari aquam quaeris.
      You're looking for water in the ocean.

      Suis rebus contentum esse maximae sunt divitiae.
      The greatest wealth is to be content with your own stuff.


      MILLE FABULAE: The fable from the Mille Fabulae et Una widget is Mus et Montes, a tale of sound and fury... signifying nothing.

      FABULAE FACILES: The fable from the Fabulae Faciles widget is Divinator et Latrones, about a fortuneteller oblivious to his own fortune (this fable has a vocabulary list).

      Vates et Fur

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

      Vulpes et Vermiculus

      March 27, 2015

      Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

      The Smithsonian Institution Excavation at Tell Jemmeh, Israel, 1970–1990

      The Smithsonian Institution Excavation at Tell Jemmeh, Israel, 1970–1990
      David Ben-Shlomo, Gus W. Van Beek (Volume editor), 1087 p., 22,5cm X 28,5cm, Smithsonian Contributions to Anthropology ISSN: 0081-0223 (print); 1943-6661 (The Smithsonian Institution, Washington 2014)$$$call$$$/submission/cover/catalog?submissionId=36
      This monograph describes the results of the archaeological excavation at the site of Tell Jemmeh, Israel, undertaken by the Smithsonian Institution and directed by Gus W. Van Beek during the years 1970–1990. All the artifacts from the excavations were shipped from Israel to Washington, D.C., and have been restored, studied, and analyzed in the National Museum of Natural History for the past four decades. The site is a strategic and large mound located near Gaza and the Mediterranean coast. It was inhabited continuously for at least 1,400 years during the Middle and Late Bronze Age, the Iron Age, and the Persian period. The highlights of this excavation are the findings of a large and affluent courtyard house from the Late Bronze Age, a sophisticated well-preserved pottery kiln from the early Iron Age, a complex of Assyrian-related administrative buildings during the late Iron Age, and a complete granary of the Persian period. This is a detailed and final report on all of the excavation results, including the architectural remains, stratigraphy, pottery, and other finds. In addition, several more detailed and focused studies of certain aspects of the site’s material include (among others) chapters on imported, decorated, Philistine, Assyrian-style and Greek pottery and chapters on figurines, sealings, jewelry, amulets, scarabs, cylinder seals, flint, coins, ostraca, and fauna. The volume is richly illustrated with nearly 1,000 figures showing field photographs, plans, sections, and drawings and photographs of artifacts. The significance of the results is summarized and discussed in the final chapter.
      Table of contents

      List of Figures --ix
      List of Tables --xxvii
      Preface and Acknowledgments --xxiv
      Introduction and Background.
      1. Introduction / David Ben-Shlomo and Gus W.Van Beek --1
      2. Environmental background of Tell Jemmeh / Gus W. Van Beek --16
      The Architecture, Stratigraphy and Finds from the Different Excavation
      3. Field III: The Southeastern Step Trench / David Ben-Shlomo -- 21
      4. Field II: The Northwestern Stepped Trench / David Ben-Shlomo --162
      5. The South Trench (ST1) / David Ben-Shlomo --198
      6. Field I: The Late Bronze Age /David Ben-Shlomo --209
      7. Field I Furnace (the Kiln), Square KB, and FUR 2-FUR 3 / David Ben-Shlomo --337
      8. Results from Field IV: The Iron II and Later Periods / David Ben-Shlomo --403
      9. Bread Ovens and Related Installations /Alexander Zukerman --642

      Pottery Studies
      10. Decorated Canaanite pottery / Gwanghyun Choi -- 651
      11. Imported Cypriot and Mycenaean wares and derivative wares / Celia J. Bergoffen –657
       12. Decorated Philistine pottery / David Ben-Shlomo --721
      13. Assyrian-Style Pottery (Palace Ware) / David Ben-Shlomo --732
      14. "East-Greek" and Greek imported pottery of the first millennium BCE / S. Rebecca Martin --749
      15. Petrographic Analysis of Pottery: Chalcolithic to Persian period /David Ben-Shlomo --776
      16. Computerized Documentation and Analysis of Pottery Vessels / Avshalom Karasik --795

      Small Finds Studies.
      17. Ceramic Figurines and Figurative Terra-cottas /David Ben-Shlomo, Ron Gardiner, and Gus Van Beek--804
      18. Worked Sherds /David Ben-Shlomo and Ron Gardiner --828
      19. Ceramic Objects: Marked Pottery,Mud Objects, and Various Ceramic Artifacts / David Ben-Shlomo --838
      20. Clay Sealings and Seal Impressions / David Ben-Shlomo and Othmar Keel --857
      21. Non-jewelry Metal Objects / David Ben-Shlomo and Ron Gardiner --876
      22. Metallic and Nonmetallic Jewelry Objects / Amir Golani --889
      23. Stone Artifacts Assemblage from Tel Jemmeh / Yorke M. Rowan –917
      24. Egyptian Amulets from Tell Jemmeh / Christian Herrmann -- 970
      25. Various Finds: Faience, Glass, Bone, Ivory, and Pumice / David Ben-Shlomo --977
      26. Chipped Stone Assemblage from Tell Jemmeh / Steven A. Rosen and Jalob Vardi --987
      27. Scarabs and Stamp Seals / Othmar Keel --1004
       28. Cylinder Seals: A Clay Cylinder with Cuneiform Signs / Wayne Horowitz and Tallay Ornan --1017
      29. Cylinder Seals: A Mitannian Cylinder Seal with a Worshipper and Divine Images / Tallay Ornan -- 1020
      30. Coins: Coins from the 1970-1990 Excavation Seasons at Tell Jemmeh / Donald T. Ariel --1023
      31. Coins: The Crusader Purse from Tell Jemmeh / Robert Kool --1026
      32. Ostraca from Tell Jemmeh / Haggai Misgav --1031

      Subsistence Studies
      33. Temporal Trends in Animal Exploitation: Faunal Analysis from Tell Jemmeh / Edward F. Maher --1038
      34. Synthesis and Conclusions. The Significance of Tell Jemmeh / David Ben-Shlomo --1054

      References --1067

      Archaeological News on Tumblr

      Double Rejection for Parthenon Marbles’ Return to Greece

      The Greek government’s request for the Parthenon Marbles’ return to Greece, which is being...


      Early day motion 852 UNESCO mediation and the Marbles

      As mentioned in an Earlier post, Andrew George MP has tabled an Early Day motion regarding the continued prevarication by Britain over UNESCO mediation over the Parthenon Marbles.

      While not in any way an instrument of enforcement, Early Day Motions can be a handy way of identifying other like minded supporters of an issue within Parliament, as well as a reminder to others that the issue is still very much something that people feel strongly about.

      Andrew George MP, Chair of the Marbles Reunited campaign

      Andrew George MP, Chair of the Marbles Reunited campaign

      UK Parliament

      Early day motion 852
      Mediation with UNESCO for the repatriation of the Parthenon Sculptures

      Session: 2014-15
      Date tabled: 09.03.2015
      Primary sponsor: George, Andrew
      Sanders, Adrian
      Lefroy, Jeremy
      Corbyn, Jeremy
      Williams, Hywel
      Glindon, Mary

      That this House is aware that half of the Parthenon sculptures, controversially removed from Athens by Lord Elgin 210 years ago using a flimsy legal justification during the Ottoman occupation of Greece, remain on display in the British Museum; notes that, when presented with the facts, the British public favours the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles in Athens; further notes an opinion poll conducted by YouGov in October 2014 which shows only 23 per cent of the British public think they should stay in Britain; is further aware that the British Museum has abandoned most of its conventional arguments and now advances the novel concept of a universal museum; regrets the Government’s apparent decision to reject the offer from UNESCO to mediate with the Greek government; and calls on the Government to reverse this decision and to demonstrate that Britain is prepared to express its standing in the world by engaging in a gracious act to reunite these British-held Parthenon sculptures with those now displayed in the purpose-built Acropolis Museum in the shadow of the monument to which they belong, the Parthenon in Athens.

      The following MPs have signed this motion so far:

      1. Abbott, Diane
      2. Campbell, Ronnie
      3. Clark, Katy
      4. Corbyn, Jeremy
      5. Flynn, Paul
      6. Galloway, George
      7. George, Andrew
      8. Glindon, Mary
      9. Godsiff, Roger
      10. Hancock, Mike
      11. Hopkins, Kelvin
      12. Leech, John
      13. Lefroy, Jeremy
      14. McDonnell, John
      15. Meale, Alan
      16. Sanders, Adrian
      17. Sharma, Virendra
      18. Ward, David
      19. Williams, Hywel
      20. Williams, Mark

      The post Early day motion 852 UNESCO mediation and the Marbles appeared first on Elginism.

      UK government rejects Parthenon Marbles UNESCO mediation

      In September 2013, after long deliberation, the Greek Government made the decision to invite the Britain (via UNESCO) into mediation to resolve the Parthenon Sculptures issue.

      Since then, the issue of the Parthenon Marbles has risen far higher up the agenda, publicised first by George Clooney, and then the presence of his wife Amal, as a member of a team of lawyers invited to Athens to advise on potential legal action.

      Most recently, the British Museum themselves pushed the case of the Marbles back into the limelight with an (arguably) ill received decision to secretly loan one of the sculptures to the Hermitage museum in St Petersburg.

      All this time, despite the issue of the Parthenon Marbles making international news headlines on numerous occasions, no response to the request was forthcoming from the British Government or the British Museum, other than the fact that they were considering it and would respond in due course.

      During this period, ICOMOS passed a resolution in support of the mediation request, letters were written to the Prime Minister and questions were asked in Parliament. Earlier this month, Andrew George MP tabled an Early Day motion intended to draw attention to this inaction.

      Suddenly today, the British Museum published responses on their website from themselves and the British Government, that were sent to UNESCO to be forwarded on to the Greek Government.

      As one might have predicted, the response was negative.

      Now, maybe it just took seventeen months of careful thinking to arrive at the decision that they did not want to enter into mediation, but alarm bells are ringing regarding the timing of this. Following the 2010 General Election in the UK, the decision was made that from then on, Parliament would operate on five year fixed terms – so for the first time ever, the date of the next election was known well in advance.

      Although Parliament is to be dissolved on 30th March 2015 prior to the election, it was prorogued on 26th March. What this means is that at prorogation, all parliamentary business ends, although that Parliament would still exist until dissolution.

      It seems an unlikely coincidence that the date of 26th March is exactly the same one given on the top of the two letters of response to the mediation request. To me, this looks like the person who fires of an email that they know will be contentious, just before leaving the office for a two week holiday. They leave it until he last minute, hoping that someone else will deal with the fallout, or that it will be forgotten by their return.

      In my day job as an architect, I have on occasion come across similar behaviour, in the context of planning application rejections. The objections were filed at the latest possible point in the process, where the other party had no time to respond, meaning that the whole process would be for an entire month until the next committee meeting. The end result of this process though, was that it was discovered that the objecting party was not being entirely honest – their awkwardly obstructive tactics merely drew attention to this fact, and in the end, it transpired that the validity of their objections was entirely cast into doubt by far greater transgressions on their own part.

      I can not help noting a parallel between these two situations. If the British Government / British Museum felt that they were sitting entirely comfortable and had a strong case, why would they not respond on a timescale where the other party could reply at leisure if they so desired within the current session of Parliament? There has been more than enough time in which to do so, and the timing of this announcement merely highlights the level of awkward obstructiveness that is faced when anyone tried to actually engage the British Government or the British Museum in discussions on the issue.

      I have previously highlighted the carrot and stick approach to cultural property negotiations. Like many, I was never convinced UNESCO mediation would work, as there was nothing to compel the British Museum to enter into the process. They feel that they are sitting comfortably, so why should they voluntarily enter into a procedure, the outcome of which might be that they end up significantly less comfortable? If a potential threat of legal action was also on the horizon though, then the mediation might have been perceived very differently. Suddenly, mediation would become a distinctly palatable alternative to a costly and high profile lawsuit, which could sully the name of the institution and drag on for years.

      As yet, no official proposals have been made for litigation, although we know that it has been considered. Who knows whether if and when it does take place, mediation will still be available as an option. If the mediation offer is withdrawn, the British Museum / British Government might well regret not taking the offer when it was available.

      All this highlights that importance of the Greek Government keeping up the pressure on Britain. The first serious attempt at negotiation may not have worked, but it should be followed up with alternative options, making sure that the UK realises that attempting to ignore the situation will not make it go away. The issue of the Marbles is one that needs to be resolved, and mealy mouthed talk of Universal Museums and denial of the existence of past loan requests is not the way to achieve this.

      Part of the Parthenon frieze in the British Museum

      Part of the Parthenon frieze in the British Museum

      British Museum

      Alfredo Pérez de Armiñán
      Assistant Director-General for Culture
      United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation
      1 Rue Miollis
      75732 Paris Cedex 15

      26 March 2015

      The Parthenon Sculptures in the British Museum: UNESCO mediation proposal

      I write on behalf of the Trustees of the British Museum, who at their meeting of 19th March 2015 considered the request put forward by the Greek Government that they should enter into a process of mediation, facilitated by UNESCO, on the subject of the Parthenon Sculptures in the British Museum. After full and careful consideration, we have decided respectfully to decline this request. We believe that the more constructive way forward, on which we have already embarked, is to collaborate directly with other museums and cultural institutions, not just in Greece but across the world.

      The British Museum admires and supports the work of UNESCO, fully acknowledging the importance of its unique ability, as an intergovernmental agency, to address the serious issue of the threats to, and the destruction of, cultural heritage around the world. The Museum has a long history of collaboration with UNESCO, notably in Iraq in 2003-5, and is currently engaged with UNESCO in formulating responses to the crisis in Syria, including the illicit trafficking of antiquities. The Museum would wish always to align itself with UNESCO’s purposes in the preservation and safeguarding of the world’s endangered cultural heritage. However, the surviving Parthenon Sculptures, carefully preserved in a number of European museums, clearly do not fall into this category.

      The British Museum, as you know, is not a government body, and the collections do not belong to the British Government. The Trustees of the British Museum hold them not only for the British people, but for the benefit of the world public, present and future. The Trustees have a legal and moral responsibility to preserve and maintain all the collections in their care, to treat them as inalienable and to make them accessible to world audiences.

      In pursuit of this aim, the Trustees would want to develop existing good relations with colleagues and institutions in Greece, and to explore collaborative ventures, not on a government-to-government basis but directly between institutions. This is why we believe that UNESCO involvement is not the best way forward. Museums holding Greek works, whether in Greece, the UK or elsewhere in the world, are naturally united in a shared endeavour to show the importance of the legacy of ancient Greece. The British Museum is committed to playing its full part in sharing the value of that legacy for all humanity.

      The potential of this approach can be seen in the British Museum’s current special exhibition Defining Beauty, the Body in Ancient Greek Art, which opened to the public today. Here some of the Parthenon Sculptures are displayed with other works that similarly show the intense humanism of ancient Greek civilisation, including masterpieces generously lent by museums around the world. Nowhere else in the world is it now, or has it ever been, possible to see these objects together. The aesthetic impact is considerable, and the intellectual content compelling. This seems to us to point the way forward, as an example of the great public benefit that arises from museums internationally using and sharing their collections in this way.

      In this same spirit, the Trustees recently lent one of the Parthenon Sculptures to the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, and were pleased to learn that in only six weeks some 140,000 Russian visitors had the chance to see it there. This was a new audience for this extraordinary work of ancient Greek art, most of whom could not have visited either Athens or London. Visitor surveys revealed that the display of the sculpture was received with great interest and warm enthusiasm. After two and a half thousand years, this was Russia’s first glimpse of the splendours of fifth-century Athens that have played such a central part in shaping Russian consciousness and culture.

      Such initiatives, arranged directly between the participating institutions, seem to the Trustees a natural way of building from the fact that the surviving Parthenon Sculptures are shared among a number of European collections. This means that the sculptures can already be seen in a different historical context in each museum, and the Trustees believe this to be to the great benefit of world audiences. The sculptures in London are already seen by more than six million visitors each year, free of charge.

      Views on the historic distribution of the surviving Parthenon Sculptures naturally differ, though there is unanimous recognition that the original totality of the sculptural decoration cannot now be reassembled as so much has been lost, and that the surviving sculptures can never again take their place on the building. The scholars of the British Museum and of other institutions that hold Parthenon Sculptures enjoy excellent collaborative relationships with Greek museums and universities, in Athens and elsewhere. These have included collaboration on research projects, publications and exhibitions. The British Museum has routinely lent to Greece, and indeed British Museum objects are currently on loan to the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens. This demonstrates the warm relationships of mutual trust and respect that have been built up between scholars in Athens and London. The Acropolis Museum and the British Museum are both centres for Parthenon studies, and curators and colleagues from each institution have together discussed their common efforts to seek new audiences and to find new ways of interpretation.

      As Trustees we attach great importance to these joint ventures, and believe that both the study of the Parthenon Sculptures and their display to the widest possible audiences illuminates not only the Classical Greek achievement but also its impact on the world. In conclusion, therefore, we would invite our colleagues in Greek museums to continue to work with us and to explore new ways of enabling the whole world to see, study and enjoy the sculptures of the Parthenon.

      We are sending this letter both in English and in Greek, and are copying it to the Ministers for Culture and Europe, who are replying separately to Mr Bandarin’s letter of 9 August 2013.

      Sir Richard Lambert
      Chairman of the British Museum Board of Trustees

      British Government

      26 March 2015
      Alfredo Pérez de Armiñán
      Assistant Director-General for Culture
      United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
      1 Rue Miollis
      75732 Paris Cedex 15
      Dear Mr
      Pérez de Armiñán,


      We are writing in response to the letter of 9 August 2013 from your predecessor, Francesco Bandarin, to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and Minister for Equalities, the Foreign Secretary and the Director of the British Museum.

      We would first like to express how much we value the role that UNESCO plays in helping to safeguard cultural heritage and in providing a forum for the resolution of international disputes through the Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin or its Restitution in Case of Illicit Appropriation (ICPRCP). The issue of the Parthenon sculptures in the British Museum has been the subject of much discussion over the years both within the Committee and elsewhere, and while the UK is not formally a member of the Committee, officials from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the British Museum have regularly attended and sought to assist the Committee in its work.

      Mr Bandarin asked us to consider a request put forward by the Greek Government to agree to a process of mediation, facilitated by UNESCO, with a view to transferring the Parthenon sculptures in the British Museum to Greece. At the Nineteenth Session of the ICPRCP in October 2014, the UK acknowledged that UNESCO stands ready to facilitate mediation discussions and the ICPRCP adopted a recommendation that invites the parties to consider making use of the mediation process as proposed by Greece.

      While we remain keen to cooperate with UNESCO in its work, the fact remains that the Parthenon sculptures in the British Museum were legally acquired by Lord Elgin under the laws pertaining at the time and the Trustees of the British Museum have had clear legal title to the sculptures since 1816. Neither the British Government nor the British Museum are aware of any new arguments to the contrary since 1985, when a formal Greek request for the return of the sculptures was turned down by the British Government. We have seen nothing to suggest that Greece’s purpose in seeking mediation on this issue is anything other than to achieve the permanent transfer of the Parthenon sculptures now in the British Museum to Greece and on terms that would deny the British Museum’s right of ownership, either in law or as a practical reality. Given our equally clear position, this leads us to conclude that mediation would not carry this debate substantially forward.

      In addition to the matter of clear legal title, a further relevant factor is that the Trustees of the British Museum are prevented by law from de-accessioning objects in the Museum’s collections unless they are duplicates or unfit for retention. Successive governments have indicated their support for this important legal principle, which is in common with the legal obligations of all the UK’s major public museums and protects the integrity of the British Museum’s collections.

      We acknowledge that the Greek Government has aspirations relating to the transfer of the sculptures to Greece and all of us who have had the opportunity to visit the Acropolis Museum greatly admire it. The Acropolis Museum has allowed a greater proportion of the rich collection of sculptures from the Acropolis in Athens to be exhibited than ever before, and has provided a fitting home for many of the Parthenon sculptures that have been removed from the temple in recent years.

      Given the global nature of the collection held by the British Museum, the many millions of visitors who visit each year have the opportunity to understand the significance of the Parthenon sculptures in the context of world history and they can do so free of charge. While we understand the strength of contrary opinion, we think that this is something of incalculable international benefit.

      In that spirit, the British Museum has a long history of friendly collaboration with colleagues in the Greek Archaeological Service and has contributed to discussions around the restoration of the Acropolis monuments. It has also worked on a project to scan elements of the surviving Parthenon sculptures in both Athens and London. The UK Government is keen that the process of mutual, bilateral cooperation that exists between the UK and Greece on cultural matters should continue to develop.

      Setting aside the differences relating to the Parthenon sculptures, we believe that there is scope for further co-operation and collaboratio n between the British Museum and the Acropolis Museum in the years ahead, and we hope that this path can be pursued.

      We are copying this letter to Sir Richard Lambert, Chairman of the Trustees of the British Museum, who is replying separately to Mr Bandarin’s letter.

      Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy

      Minister for Europe

      The post UK government rejects Parthenon Marbles UNESCO mediation appeared first on Elginism.

      Ancient Art

      Ca. 4000 year old pendants to protect people from drowning?Shown...

      Ca. 4000 year old pendants to protect people from drowning?

      Shown here are two golden ‘Nile catfish’ pendants from Egypt’s Middle Kingdom. The Walters provides the following description for the first example:

      This fish pendant represents a Synodontis Batensoda, more commonly known as the Nile catfish, a species of fish named for its black belly. Often worn at the end of a plait of hair, amulets like this one were used by children and young women to protect against drowning. This fine amulet is made of gold with stone inlays, including a red stone for the right eye and a green stone for the left. Amulets in the form of the Synodontis Batensoda were particularly popular during the Middle Kingdom, when the fish might have been identified with an astronomical constellation.

      About half the size of the first, the second example is only about 2cm long, and has a silver dorsal fin and gold sheet tail attached onto the hollow, golden body. The piece for suspension comes off the mouth.

      Courtesy of & can be viewed at the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. Via their online collections: 57.1072 & 57.1981.

      James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

      The Confused Person’s Guide to Middle East Conflicts


      Karl Sharro created the diagram above to clarify the geopolitical relationships in the Middle East, which many find confusing. It appeared in The Atlantic together with accompanying text which, if you read it, will make things clearer still. I thought I would share it here, in case there are blog readers who struggle to grasp the precise situation.

      Viewing the diagram with 3D glasses also helps.

      Archaeological News on Tumblr

      Date palm grown from 2,000-year-old seed is a dad

      Break out the cigars! Long live the only lonely representative of its kind, the Judean palm is now...

      Ancient Peoples

      Two painted ceramic shards; one with a flower pattern, the other...

      Two painted ceramic shards; one with a flower pattern, the other with a geometrical pattern and a bird.

      Halaf Period (ca. 5600-5000 B.C.). Syria, Tell Brak.

      The Metropolitan Museum of Art

      Archaeological News on Tumblr

      King Richard III's Monumental Tomb Unveiled

      King Richard III finally got his monumental burial this morning, 530 years after his death in...

      Archaeology Magazine

      Neolithic Bones in Italy’s Scaloria Cave Were Defleshed

      CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND—The bones of at least 22 Neolithic people, many of them children, have been identified in Italy’s Scaloria Cave. The cave, located in southeastern Italy, is filled with stalactites and offers “the first well-documented case for early farmers in Europe of people trying to actively deflesh the dead,” John Robb of the University of Cambridge told Science Magazine. The human bones had been randomly mixed with animal bones, broken pottery, and stone tools. Robb’s new study shows that few whole human skeletons had been deposited in the cave, and the bones only had light cut marks on them. This suggests that the selected bones may have been put in the cave as much as a year after death, since only residual muscle tissue had to be removed from them. Robb and his international team of scientists think that the defleshing process could have been part of a long, multistage burial plan that ended when the cleaned, stone-like bones were put in the cave along with other discarded items. The cave’s stone-forming, dripping water and stalactites may have had special spiritual power for the Neolithic Italians. To read about an unusual and poignant Neolithic burial in Italy, see "Eternal Embrace." 

      Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

      Returning the Loot in the 21st Century

      Kwame Opoku, 'Man with a conscience Returned his Grandfather's Looted Benin Bronzes' 27th March 2015.
      [...] there are not many persons in the Western world who, plagued by their conscience for holding looted art of other peoples, are in a hurry to return the objects to the legitimate owners. Since Walker returned two Benin Bronzes last year, there has not been a similar gesture in the whole of the Western world. This is a sad commentary on the prevailing morality. But this should not come as a surprise since in this 21st Century we have powerful institutions and leading academics that seriously argue that artefacts that have been wrenched from former colonies with violence and other illegitimate methods should be kept by the holders in the West. This position provides evidence and confirmation that not everyone has rejected colonialism and its effects despite the various United Nations resolutions. Many Western scholars seem to have banned morality from discussions on restitution.

      Archaeology Magazine

      Neanderthal Ear Bones Differed From Modern Humans’

      VIZCAYA, SPAIN—A new study of the remains of a two-year-old child discovered in the 1970s in France have shed new light on Neanderthal anatomy. Among the fossils were a very complete left temporal bone and a complete stapes, or middle ear bone. Virtual reconstruction techniques allowed researchers from the University of the Basque Country to “extract” the tiny ear bone—the most complete one in the Neanderthal record—and study it. The team found significant anatomical differences between the Neanderthal stapes and those found in modern humans. "We do not yet know the relation between these morphological differences and hearing in the Neanderthals. This would constitute a new challenge for the future,” paleontologist Asier Gómez-Olivencia said in a press release. For more on our extinct cousins, see "Should We Clone Neanderthals?"

      Archaeological News on Tumblr

      Stone-age Italians defleshed their dead

      About 7000 years ago in Italy, early farmers practiced an unusual burial ritual known as...

      Archaeology Magazine

      Large, Comparative Study Suggests Diversity in Human Ancestors

      CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND—Fragmentary fossils, including tiny toes and ankle bones, have been used to estimate the height and body mass of early human ancestors living during the Pleistocene. The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Cambridge and the University of Tübingen who developed the new techniques, reveals that that early humans displayed a wide variety body sizes. “What we’re seeing is perhaps the beginning of a unique characteristic of our own species—the origins of diversity. It’s possible to interpret our findings as showing that there were either multiple species of early human, such as Homo habilis, Homo ergaster, and Homo rudolfensis, or one highly diverse species. This fits well with recent cranial evidence for tremendous diversity among early members of the genus Homo,” Jay Stock of the University of Cambridge said in a press release. For example, groups living in South African caves averaged 4.8 feet tall, while some individuals from Kenya’s Koobi Fora region were almost six feet tall. “Basically every textbook on human evolution gives the perspective that one lineage of humans evolved larger bodies before spreading beyond Africa. But the evidence for this story about our origins and the dispersal out of Africa just no longer really fits. The first clues came from the site of Dmanisi in Georgia where fossils of really small-bodied people date to 1.77 million years ago. This has been known for several years, but we now know that consistently large body size evolved in Eastern Africa after 1.7 million years ago, in the Koobi Fora region of Kenya,” he explained. For more on the evolution of early humans, see "Our Tangled Ancestery."

      Archaeological News on Tumblr

      Egypt recovers smuggled artifacts from Germany

      CAIRO:  Egyptian antiquities headed for the auction block in Germany will be repatriated to Egypt,...

      Tom Matrullo (Classics in Sarasota)

      Odysseus's "winning words" in the Philoctetes

      When Odysseus arrives on Lemnos, he ascertains first that Philoctetes is still alive, and second that he is and has been totally isolated. Having anticipated as much, the wily emissary is already working on the ruse to bring back the man he abandoned on that spot nine and a half years earlier.

      He tells Neoptolemus:
      τὴν Φιλοκτήτου σε δεῖ 55ψυχὴν ὅπως δόλοισιν ἐκκλέψεις λέγων 
      You must deceive the soul of Philoctetes by speaking craftily.
      He fully acknowledges that this goes against all that the noble son of Achilles believes is honorable, yet insists:
      ἀλλ᾽ αὐτὸ τοῦτο δεῖ σοφισθῆναικλοπεὺς ὅπως γενήσει τῶν ἀνικήτων ὅπλων
      No, the thing for which we must devise a ruse is just this: how to become a thief of his unconquerable weapons.
      If Philoctetes has that formidable bow, force is not a viable option. But Odysseus has Neoptolemus, and a blank canvas. He saw immediately that Philoctetes is cut off from access to what is happening in the world, and thus is susceptible to virtually any representation. The world's greatest liar is tasked with persuading the world's most informationally deprived man, who happens to hate his guts. The talespinner's entire focus is on the "ruse" - σοφισθῆναι - a word that runs the gamut from "the teaching of wisdom" to "use fraud:"

      σοφίζω ,
      A.make wise, instructLXX Ps.18(19).8; “τινὰ εἰς σωτηρίαν” 2 Ep.Ti.3.15.
      2. Pass., become or be clever or skilled in a thing, c. gen. rei, ναυτιλίης σεσοφισμένος skilled in seamanship, Hes.Op.649; “Μοίσαι σεσοφισμέναι” Ibyc.Oxy.1790.23; so ἐντοῖς ὀνόμασι ςX.Cyn. 13.6: abs., to become or be wise, freq. in LXX, Ec.7.24(23), al.; “βέλτερος ἀλκήεντος ἔφυ σεσοφισμένος ἀνήρ” Ps.-Phoc.130.
      3. Med., teach oneself, learnἐσοφίσατο ὅτι . . he became aware that . ., LXX 1 Ki.3.8.
      II. Med. σοφίζομαι , with aor. Med. and pf. Pass. (v. infr.), practise an art, Thgn.19IG12.678; play subtle tricks, deal subtly, E.IA744, D.18.227, etc.; οὐδὲν σοφιζόμεσθα τοῖσιδαίμοσι we use no subtleties in dealing with the gods, E.Ba.200; to be scientific, speculate, “περὶ τὸ ὄνομα Pl.R.509d, cf. Plt.299b, Muson. Fr.3p.12H., etc.; σοφιζόμενος φάναι to say rationalistically, Pl.Phdr.229c; καίπερ οὕτω τούτου σεσοφισμένου though he has dealt thus craftily, D.29.28; σοφίσασθαι πρός τι to use fraud for an end, Plb.6.58.12; 

      As the first scene closes, the question is not whether Neoptolemus will have to tell Odysseus's lie. The question facing Odysseus is what specific form of "speaking craftily" will get the job done.

      * * * * *
      There was a seer of noble birth, [605] a son of Priam, called Helenus, whom that man, out on a solitary night raid—that deceitful Odysseus, whose repute is all shame and dishonor—captured. Leading him back in bonds, he displayed him publicly to the Achaeans as his glorious prey. [610] Helenus then prophesied for them whatever matter they asked, and, pertaining to Troy, he foretold that they would never sack its towers, unless by winning words [πείσαντες λόγῳthey should bring Philoctetes here from the island where he now dwells. And, as soon as he heard the seer prophecy this, Laertes' son immediately promised that he would bring the man and show him to the Achaeans. He thought it most likely that he would get him willingly, but, if unwilling, then by force, and he added that, were he to fail in this, whoever wished it might sever his head. [620] 

      The merchant is speaking according to Odysseus's script. In point of fact, the merchant is almost certainly Odysseus in disguise. Not only would that make sense, given the character's masterful ability to play any role, but it would enable Odysseus to give out precisely the information he wishes to further his ruse. Onstage it would play wonderfully as he denigrates himself. And, it's entirely in keeping with the wit and craft and fun of polutropos Odysseus. Only, why does he disclose precisely this information?

      Now Philoctetes might be spurred to have Neoptolemus take him from the isle, fearing the coming of Odysseus. But at a certain point he will know that he's been tricked and that the lord of Ithaka has him -- how willingly will he go? Is there not a good chance the plot will backfire? Why does Odysseus tell the man he's trying to persuade "by winning words" that he, Odysseus, stands to lose his head if his attempt to capture Philoctetes fails? What stronger motivation could Philoctetes have to ruin the plan?

      * * * * * 

      A writer acquaintance recently shared an essay in which he describes a man he knew more than a half century ago in North Florida:
      [He] was a complex man. He lived by a code that I find difficult to understand much less explain. He was loyal to a fault to his friends. He was honest and you could depend on him regardless of the circumstances. His word was his bond. He understood the nature of people. He was the most adept man I ever met at making quick assessment of a person’s character. He knew how to arrange people and events in a fashion that caused the result that he wanted to occur. He was like a Master of Chess except he applied those skills to politics.
      Two things are given with the figure of Odysseus: First, he is theatrical in the most persuasive way - he can successfully simulate anyone (or outis - no one) - it's a trait he shares with his great grandfather Hermes. Second, like this Florida gentleman, he could read people -- he knows what makes them tick, and how to get them to tick to his beat.

      Keen insight into the tumblers of human nature was a key component of the craft of the master rhetorician -- a trait shared with Athena. Sophocles brings in the full range of Odysseus because he's deeply interested in the power of rhetoric, of "winning words."

      Small digression

      It gets more interesting. Much of the tradition deriving from Plato and Aristotle addresses the same inquiry -- the power of rhetoric as wielded by sophists to seem to speak truth. In fact they either do not know the truth (as Socrates usually ferrets out) or it's irrelevant -- they brashly use the power of tropes and syntactical dexterity to their advantage. Sophists win arguments regardless of the truth -- their power lies in "speaking craftily."

      With Sophocles, it's different, I think. YES, all the beguiling charms of rhetoric are fully seen in all their misleading beauty, BUT the comfortable edge, the clear frame dividing mere crafty speech from truth is not so easy to locate. Just as we saw above with σοφίζω -- instruction that makes one wise and fraudulent pretense can make strange bedfellows within one and the same word, and do. Crafty speech indeed.

      This can be seen in the Merchant's tale of Helenus' stipulation that Philoctetes must be brought back to the war, and reintegrated into the Greek cause not by force, but with πείσαντες λόγῳ -- linguistic power that persuades, or in Jebb's inspired translation, "winning words." What we call truth is what we are persuaded of. Many times in the tragedies a character will intend, "such and such is true," but what he/she actually says is, "I am persuaded of x."

      * * * * * 

      Later in the play Odysseus will describe himself as one whose natural desire, in everything, is to win:
      νικᾶν γε μέντοι πανταχοῦ χρῄζων ἔφυν  (1052)
      Victory, however, is my inborn desire in every field
      There is no question of losing; it's a matter of discovering what craft will do the job. After telling Neoptolemus he must lie to Philoctetes, the first thing he coaches him to say is that he's the son of Achilles. The truth, if it will serve, is the best lie.

      But we still have to ask: why does Odysseus introduce through the Merchant's mouth (which is his own, literally or no) the imminent arrival of himself? Why inject himself into the fiction, given how anathema he is to Philoctetes? What's the strategy, the rhetorical advantage, of disclosing that he is on his way?

      A lesser liar would have kept that to himself. Is he not making his task ever so much harder? We'll take this up in another post.

      Francesca Tronchin (Classical Archaeology News)

      "If there is a ‘cure’ for looting, it is the elevation of cultural value over economic value. A..."

      “If there is a ‘cure’ for looting, it is the elevation of cultural value over economic value. A looted object is a lovely page of prose; an object with archaeological context is an entire novel. When historical objects are displayed in collections which present historical and cultural context as well as the aesthetic or material value, the public can learn the importance of preserving archaeological sites and protecting them from looting. Certainly such lessons might be temporarily lost on a public suffering from political and economic crisis (hey, Egypt).”


      The Archaeology News Network

      'Life is Short, Art Long: The Art of Healing in Byzantium' at the Pera Museum, Istanbul

      This exhibition takes its name from the famous aphorism by Hippocrates and examines the art and practice of healing in Byzantium from Roman times to the late Byzantine period. Curated by Dr. Brigitte Pitarakis, Life Is Short, Art Long examines faith, magic, and rational medicine as methods of healing. It traces the “art of healing” from the foundations laid by Apollo and Asklepios, healers of antiquity, and Hippocrates and...

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

      AMIR: Access to Mideast and Islamic Resources

      Partially Open Access Journal: Journal of Levantine Studies

      Journal of Levantine Studies
      Journal of Levantine Studies (JLS) is an interdisciplinary academic journal dedicated to the critical study of the geographical, social, and cultural settings which, in various periods of history, have been known as the "Levant." The journal is published biannually in English in print and online by the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. 

      JLS aims to reclaim the Levant as a historical and political concept and as a category of identity and classification. The notion of the Levant has undergone a dynamic process of historical evolution in usage, meaning, and understanding. While the term "Levantine" originally referred to the European residents of the eastern Mediterranean region, it later came to refer to regional "native" and "minority" groups. As it developed alongside colonial practices and Eurocentric attitudes, the notion gradually acquired derogatory connotations in its everyday and academic usage. Intellectuals and social thinkers from the region renounced the term while simultaneously embracing and rejecting Western prejudices and attempting to avoid identification with larger regional units, which directly contradicted twentieth-century attempts to build nation-states. Meanwhile, in academia, the term has been largely relegated and confined to the fields of archaeology and literature. 

      Current trends in scholarship investigating various social and political "peripheries" have favored the development of internal discourses that originate within so-called margins and define themselves in their own cultural terms. (In this reorientation, terms with pejorative connotations, much like the Levant, have often been reclaimed). At the same time, scholars of postcolonial and subaltern theory have also suggested overturning the dominant discourse and even provincializing Europe itself. Similarly, rethinking regions such as the Levant as central to academic inquiry and re-conceptualizing Europe and other historically dominant regions as provinces may prove worthwhile. This reformulation may prove relevant to the Levant, whose geographical and conceptual maps, boundaries, and groupings have long been drawn with a Eurocentric pencil. Framing the Levant as a category of analysis creates a unique platform with novel possibilities for academic discussion and can trigger productive debate and theoretical and empirical scholarship on the Levant and Levantines in various geographical and historical contexts. 

      Re-conceptualization of the Levant as a useful category of analysis and classification could problematize and possibly reshape conceptual maps of the region by taking various subaltern perspectives into consideration, and posit the Levant as an active agent rather than as a passive object.
      The Editorial Board welcomes scholarly debate on the symbolic and theoretical significance of the Levant as well as on the political, social, and cultural manifestations of reality for the people of the region. The journal looks to publish articles that engage contemporary academic discussions on relevant socio-political topics including (but not limited to) processes of religion and secularization, the construction of memory, literary and linguistic streams, the migration of knowledge and people, consumerism and commercial networks, globalization, and the study of nationality and trans-nationalism. 

      JLS publishes articles focused on the modern era, which begins, symbolically, with the conquest of Constantinople in 1453. This date symbolizes the realization of Western fears of a clash with the Muslim and Eastern (Oriental) world on the one hand, and on the other the diverse and symbiotic social processes between religions and people—including the migration of ideas, art, people and goods—which continue to define the development and character of the Levant. As such, we adopted a chronological focal point that pays tribute to the history of the region and avoids the traditionally Western notion of 1492 as the watershed moment for global diffusion.
      Volume 1
      Summer 2011
      Winter 2011  
      Volume 2
      Summer 2012
      Winter 2012

      Ancient Peoples

      Bronze top for a standard.Luristan, Iran. Eighth century B.C...

      Bronze top for a standard.

      Luristan, Iran. Eighth century B.C (Iron Age III).

      In the early first millennium B.C., inhabitants of the mountainous region of western Iran known as Luristan manufactured an astonishing variety of bronze objects, including weapons, standards, jewelry, horse ornaments, and vessels, most of which have been recovered from cemeteries. The nature of the society and economy that produced these bronzes is not known with certainty but seems to have been predominantly nomadic.

      This standard top would have been joined to a pole or other support. It is not certain how such a standard would have been used, but it may be significant that this type of object has been found only in graves. The object depicts a scene of long-standing significance in ancient Near Eastern art, that of the “master of animals.” The man holds in each hand the throat of a demonic creature, while human and bird heads appear below.

      The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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

      40e colloque AFEAF : Rennes, 2016

      Le colloque 2016 aura lieu à Rennes sur le thème : Architectures de l’âge du Fer en Europe occidentale et centrale.

      Les propositions de communication ou de poster devront être soumises au secrétariat du colloque avant le 1er septembre 2015 (avec coordonnées de l’auteur, titre et résumé de 15 lignes en français pour les pré-actes).


      Secrétariat du colloque :



      Pour télécharger l’appel à communication, voir le site de l’AFEAF.