Maia Atlantis: Ancient World Blogs

Tom Elliott (

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November 25, 2014

Laboratoire Orient et Méditerranée

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

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

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

November 21, 2014

Laboratoire Orient et Méditerranée

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

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

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

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

- Consulter le programme


November 14, 2014

Laboratoire Orient et Méditerranée

Le christianisme syriaque en Asie centrale et en Chine

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

- Consulter le programme

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

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

informations :

avec le soutien du Labex RESMED

Les mots de la paix

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

- Télécharger le programme

October 24, 2014

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Grave robbers plunder ancient Danish burial sites

Grave robbers have dug up and plundered four ancient burial sites in ‘Mangehøje’ north...

Byzantine News


KU Leuven announces a new conference on literary culture in early Chrisitanity:
The intellectual landscape of the Classical world was radically altered by the rise and spread of Christianity, which brought about a transformation of moral and cultural values, beliefs and attitudes. Profound changes also occurred in the practical and theoretical approaches to languages as cognitive, ethnic and cultural phenomena. The linguistic horizon of Western scholars was considerably widened through direct acquaintance with the Old Testament languages (Hebrew and Aramaic); at the same time Early Christian authors became increasingly aware of the startling linguistic diversity within the Roman world and outside of it.
Read more

Archaeological News on Tumblr

New Amphipolis finds taken to museum for preservation

A large marble door and the head of a sphinx found inside the ancient tomb at Amphipolis were...

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Faux Numis

 Kilroy coin (photo from Hooker's blog)
John Hooker claims to be an expert: "A numismatist with over fifty years experience [...] Very few people without at least twenty years of experience in numismatics can make much of an impact on the subject ".

In his desire to 'make an impact', he opines on a coin which a collector ["Owner's name withheld by request"] suggested to him was 'Celtic'  (Thursday, 23 October 2014, "Faux amis"). Although he saw it was not 'Celtic', he was at a loss to recognize it, but on showing a photo of it to local dealer Robert Kokotailo ("who really knows his Medieval coins") it was reportedly identified as a rare issue of "a Bishop of Prague". I should add that they seem unaware that there is no indication that , unlike the Ottonian ones, eleventh century Bohemian bishops had any minting rights at all.

The main interest in this coin for Hooker was however that he uses it as the springboard for expressing his hatred for those who see current modes in collecting and commerce in archaeological finds in a different light from him:
Certain archaeo-bloggers who constantly criticize collectors and dealers are always very nasty. [...] The person who owns this coin holds an important position and did not want his name associated with it for fear of being bullied. That could have brought trouble to even his organization. He did not want to have to deal with such evil people. So this coin has no recorded provenance because of the existence of such people [...]. There is a little irony here, and more than one sort of "faux amis". So be aware, and do not get taken in by such people's lies.(sic)
Note the total lack of paranoia there.... So, we are told that the coin's owner is going to keep quiet about where it comes from as he does not want his feelings hurt and the reputation of his organization damaged. As for who is lying, and whether strong criticism of no-questions-asking, and no-answers-giving dealers and collectors is justified, and whether it is "evil people" that raise these concerns, I leave it up to the reader to decide.

It would seem that both Hooker and Dealer Bob are blinded to the aberrant form of this object by the potential of using it to criticise archaeologists. I would suggest that if they'd handled any number of them from proper archaeological contexts rather than the random items that drift their way having "surfaced" ("from underground?"), they might look at this item in a different light. Yet Hooker reports that Dealer Bob has no problems with this item as eleventh century Bohemian. Caveat emptor.

UPDATE 23.10.14
I owe to Dorothy King the suggestion that the image of the coin pictured has been digitally doctored (or even created digitally).  If so, Dealer Kokotailo's reported diagnosis is even more difficult to understand.

Tom Elliott (Horothesia)

New in EpiDig

Records for the following digital resources for the discovery, publication, study, and teaching of epigraphy have been added to the EpiDig library at

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Kingsmead Quarry finds declared as treasure

Gold beads found in a rare Beaker grave found during excavations at Kingsmead Quarry, Horton,...

Ancient Peoples

Seated Goddess 4th Century BC  Cypro-Classical II (Source: The...

Seated Goddess

4th Century BC 

Cypro-Classical II

(Source: The Met Museum)

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Ancient fingerprint found in Çatalhöyük

Excavations at the 10,000-year-old Boncuklu mound have unearthed finger prints on kiln...

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Open Access Journal: Cloelia: Newsletter of the Women's Classical Caucus

[First posted in AWOL 7 May 2011. Updated 24 October 2014]

Cloelia: Newsletter of the Women's Classical Caucus
2012 is the 40th Anniversary of the Women’s Classical Caucus. As part of the 40th Anniversary volume of Cloelia, many members of the WCC have joined together to help digitize the WCC Newsletter and related archival material. This page is the beginning of this project.
For Sally MacEwan, who helped move Cloelia into the digital age.
A great debt is owed to the following (if your name is not mentioned here, it is an error and please let me know): Chris Ann Matteo and Lisl Walsh for their work on the website; Allison Glazebrook and the other members of the WCC SC for supporting this initiative and helping drive it forward; Janet M. Martin for her careful and rigorous work as the WCC Archivist; Barbara Gold and Amelia Gowans for the careful and generous volunteer work of scanning the archival material into PDF; Marilyn Skinner and Barbara McManus for their comments on the archives (and for saving so many items and passing them on); Amy Richlin for finding lost issues at the last minute; and all the other members of the WCC who have contributed their paper to the archives.
Below, you will find a list of Cloelia volumes in reverse chronological order (together with supplemental material when available). Some volumes are still missing. If a volume is not linked, it is either missing or in the process of being added. If you think you might have one of the missing volumes, please contact Janet M. Martin, the current WCC Archivist ( If there are errors on this page, please contact the Editor of Cloelia, Alison Jeppesen-Wigelsworth (
2014 N.S. Volume 4
2013 N.S. Volume 3

2012N.S. Volume 2 40th Anniversary
2011N.S. Vol. 1; Supplement (Results of Teaching Women Survey)
2010No volume or numbers were issued.  Given the rising costs of print publication, a specialized committee discussed the direction of Cloelia as a non-print publication, and this team effort produced the Editorial Mandate for Cloelia. This can be read at
200737:1 [sic] “In Memoriam: Corinne Crawford. 35 Years of Bringing Women to Classics”
200637:1 [sic] “Life in Classics”
2005336:1 [sic] “Classics and Activism”
200432:2 (Fall 2004) “In Memoriam: Shilpa Raval”

32:1 (Spring 2004)
2003Unknown Status

Unknown Status
200231.1 (Fall 2002)

30.2 (Spring 2002)
200130.1 (Fall 2001)
200029:1 (Fall 2000)

28:2 (Spring 2000)
199928.1 (Fall 1999)

27 (1999 Spring)
1998Unknown Status

Unknown Status
199725 (Fall 1997)

25 (Spring 1997)
199624 (Fall 1996)

24 (Spring 1996)
199523 (Fall 1995)

23 (Spring 1995)
199422 (Fall 1994)

21 (Spring 1994)
199321 (Fall 1993)

20 (Spring 1993)
199219 (Fall 1992): 20th Anniversary Issue

17 (Spring 1992)
199117 (Fall 1991): “Racism in Classical Studies?” (David H. Kelley, Shelley H. Haley). “Ethics Watch” (Carl A. Rubino). “Review of Classics: A Discipline and Profession in Crisis?” (Susan Ford Wiltshire).

16 (Spring 1991)
199015 (Spring 1990): “Kathryn Gutzwiller vs. The University of Cincinnati.”

15 (Fall 1990): “Editorial” (Shelley Haley). “Court Case Updates” (Kathryn Gutzwiller, Hugh Lee).
198914 (Spring 1989)

14 (Fall 1989)
198813 (Spring 1988): Is Classics Dead? (15th Anniversary Year.)

13 (Fall 1988): Survival
198712 (Spring 1987)

Winter WCC Task Force

WCC Presents Responses to the APA Election Questionnaire [1987].

12 (Fall 1987): 15th Anniversary Year

Special APA Issue, December 1987: What Is the Women’s Classical Caucus?
198611 (Fall 1986)

Jennifer Roberts. “Season’s Greetings” (poem). Leaflet printed on red paper. Not yet linked.

10 (Spring 1986): “New Procedures for the APA Program Committee.”
198510 (Fall 1985) [sic]

9 (Spring 1985)
19849 (Fall 1984) [sic]

8 (Fall 1984) [sic]
19838 (Spring 1983) [sic]. “Summary of Report on Status of Women and Minorities.” (10th Anniversary Year.)
19827 (Fall 1982): 10th Anniversary Year
19816 (Fall 1981)

6 (Spring 1981)
19805 (Spring 1980)

5 (Fall 1980)
19794 (Spring 1979)

4 (Fall 1979)
19783 (Spring 1978): 5th Anniversary Year

Letter of Marilyn B. Skinner to WCC members about proposal to move 1980 meeting from New Orleans (11.28.1978).

Fall 1978 (No Number)
1977Spring 1977 (No Number)

5:2 (Fall 1977) 5th Anniversary Year
1976Spring 1976 (No Volume Number)

Fall 1976 (No Volume Number)

August 1, 1976: Membership List for the WCC
1975Unknown Status
1974Unknown Status
1973Unknown Status
1972Unknown Status
Unknown DateWCC Bylaws

Archaeological News on Tumblr

China: 124 Grave Robbers Arrested in 'Biggest Ever' Tomb Raid Case in Zhejiang's History

Chinese authorities have detained more than 120 alleged tomb raiders in a massive police...

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Catalogo Manoscritti della Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana

Catalogo Manoscritti della Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana
Il catalogo dei manoscritti è in corso di elaborazione e si compone di dati (completi o ancora parziali) tratti da inventari, bibliografie, cataloghi, indici su schede, pubblicazioni a stampa, indicati alla voce Fonte per ciascuna registrazione elettronica. 
Le descrizioni complete, quando possibile, sono corredate da una scelta di immagini digitali.

La codifica degli elementi descrittivi e di ricerca rispetta le specifiche TEI-MS, secondo sintassi XML per l'inserimento dei dati. Il sistema (archivio di dati, indici di autorità e motore di ricerca) è interamente realizzato con tecnologia open source Java/XML.


The online manuscripts catalogue is a work in progress. It includes data (full or partial descriptions) from inventories, bibliographies, catalogues, index cards, printed books mentioned as a source of information in Fonte tag, for each record.
The full descriptions, when possible, are available from a choice of digital images.

The element set, both for description and research criteria, is TEI-MS compliant, based on XML syntax for the data entry. The system (database, authority file and search engine) is entirely developed with Java/XML and open source technology.
Simple search | Advanced search | Indexes | Digitized manuscripts

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

Predicting the Future

I love this cartoon from the New Yorker. This is precisely the problem with predictive prophecy. If it were to be specific about the distant future, it would be incomprehensible. But because it consistently lacks such information, it is unimpressively vague. There is no way things could be otherwise, is there – regardless of whether you think predicting the future prophetically is possible?


Archaeological News on Tumblr

Ancient City Ruled by Genghis Khan's Heirs Revealed

Remains of a 750-year-old city, founded by the descendants of Genghis Khan, have been unearthed...

Noel Tan (The Southeast Asian Archaeology Newsblog)

Job Opportunity: Faculty Position in Southeast Asian History, NYU Abu Dhabi

NYU Abu Dhabi has a Faculty Position open for Southeast Asian History, with a targeted appointment for September 2015.

NYU Abu Dhabi is currently inviting applications for a tenured or tenure-track appointment at any level (assistant, associate, or full professor) for its History Program. Applicants should offer a special area of research and teaching dealing with any historical period concerning Southeast Asia.

We are seeking historians with an active research and publishing agenda, and a demonstrated commitment to undergraduate teaching. Please visit the History Program’s website for more information:

Interested applicants can see the job posting here.

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Germanic people in the cave

Traces of Germanic people from the turn of the fourth and fifth century AD in the cave Wisielucha...

Noel Tan (The Southeast Asian Archaeology Newsblog)

Cham people observe annual Kate festival

The Cham people observe the annual Kate Festival in commemoration of their gods and ancestors.

Cham Towers in Ninh Thuan Province. Source: Viet Nam News 20141024

Cham Towers in Ninh Thuan Province. Source: Viet Nam News 20141024

Cham people hold annual festival
Viet Nam News, 24 October 2014

Thousands of ethnic Cham and tourists travelled to the Po Inu Nagar Temple, Po Klong Garai Tower and Po Rome Tower in the central province of Ninh Thuan to celebrate the traditional Kate festival that kicked off yesterday.

The festival, the largest on the Cham calendar, pays respect to the gods and makes offerings to ancestors, along with wishes for favorable weather, bumper crops and social harmony.

Full story here.

Vandalised statue returns to Bayon

The statue that was destroyed by a recalcitrant tourist earlier this month is re-installed in the Bayon with a Buddhist ceremony.

Bayon Faces

Statue Smashed by Tourist Returned to Bayon Temple
Cambodia Daily, 24 October 2014

The Apsara Authority on Thursday returned a statue of the Buddha to its place in Bayon temple at the Angkor Archaeological Park after a tourist smashed it earlier this month.

The woman, Willemijn Vermaat, a Dutch national living in New Zealand, told local media in New Zealand that a voice in her head told her to break the statue because it was in a temple dedicated to the wrong deity.

After being restored at the Preah Norodom Sihanouk-Angkor Museum, the statue was replaced inside the temple on Thursday in a Buddhist ceremony during which eight monks chanted blessings, according to Im Sok Rithy, deputy director of the Apsara Authority.

Mr. Sok Rithy emphasized that, although Ms. Vermaat has returned to New Zealand, authorities here are determined to prosecute her for damaging the statue.

Full story here.

photo by:

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Medusa to gaze once more from mosaic

She may no longer turn people into stone, but Medusa continues to arrest onlookers; now, even more...

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

The Jedi Jesus

IO9 featured some Star Wars fan theories from 1980. It is interesting to see the role that religion played in some of them. A popular theory was that Obi-Wan was a clone name – O.B.1. One person suggested that Obi-Wan Kenobi was a thousand years removed from “O.B.” who was “the Jesus” of the Jedi movement. There were speculations about who that figure was, and whether he was a religious fanatic or a scientist. Fascinating stuff – and if some speculations were quite bizarre, others were surprisingly accurate!

I also recently read The Star Wars, a graphic novel based on George Lucas’ rough draft for his movie idea, which eventually became six films. It is fascinating how much changed, how many names got reused in radically different ways, and how key elements that were woven together in one story came to be spread over two generations and six movies. Definitely worth reading if you are a Star Wars fan!

Végh Zsuzsanna and Simon Zsolt (Agyagtábla, papirusz)

Luvi workshop

A Barcelonai Egyetem luvikus nyelvjárásokat vizsgáló kutatócsoportja jövő hét szerdán tartja következő ülését, melynek programja:

‘Luwic’ Dialects: Inheritance and diffusion
2nd Workshop

Barcelona, October 29, 2014

10.15 – Opening
10.30 – José-Virgilio García Trabazo – “Neue Ansichten zu luwischen Partikeln, Adverbien und Pronomina”
11.00 – Ilya Yakubovich – “Luwian verbal stem formation, and the origin of Luw. izziya- ‘to do’”

12.00 – Mariona Vernet – “On the Hittite and Luwian origin of some common nouns in Cappadocian Old Assyrian texts: a new examination”
12.30 – Tomeu Obrador – “Anatolian loanwords in Phrygian”

16.30 – Ignasi-Xavier Adiego – “The Lycian nasalized preterite revisited”.
17.00 – Zsolt Simon – “Luwic phonological isoglosses”.

18.00 – Alwin Kloekhorst – “Luwian and the glottalic theory”
18.30 –19.00 – Zsolt Simon – “Luwian t- vs. Hittite s- reconsidered”
19.00 – 20.00 Discussion and Conclusions

Helyszín: “Sala de Professors”, 5th floor of the “Edifici Josep Carner”, in the Faculty of Philology (“Historical building of the Universitat de Barcelona”, Plaça Universitat, Barcelona)

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Exploring the "Only Encyclopaedic Museums" myth

James Cuno has a number of justifications why (only) encyclopaedic museums can achieve a whole range of socially-useful results which is how he justifies retaining trophies such as the Parthenon Marbles in them. The case made sounds like special pleading and deliberately avoids certain topics (like why "globalism"/cosmopolitanism  is "good",  when it leads precisely to the erosion of culture and cultures). I thought I'd take his main justifications and examine them from the point of view of another type of collecting.

There is a lovely Polish kids book, "Mikołajek" which has a funny story explaining why stamp collecting is a socially useful hobby, the comedy resulting from the self-righteousness and pretentiousness of the claims made. I was put in mind of it on reading Cuno's piece on encyclopaedic museums in "Foreign Policy". Stamp collecting has been encouraged because it fosters curiosity and awareness. Stamps have pictures and writing, sometimes slogans, and often commemorate events of importance to the culture of the issuer. Sometimes they embody values at odds with those of the collector's own society (e.g., stamps of the Soviet Union, 1933-45 Germany). Learning about what they represent helps learn about the history, cultures and everyday interests of the societies that issue and use them. Postage stamps sometimes serve to foster/celebrate  national identities (with the picture of the leader on them, or with series of historical buildings or folk costumes etc.). In September 1939 Stalin had Polish stamp collectors rounded up and executed along with all the other 'dangerous minds' because in his regime's view they had become too 'cosmopolitan'. So would Cuno's arguments work with postage stamps ? Let's see:

"the power and promise of [philately]. By preserving and presenting [representations] of the world’s cultures, they offer their [viewers] the world in all its rich diversity. And in doing so, they protect and advance the idea of openness and integration in a changing world".

"This principle is exactly what [stamp collections] encourage: understanding the intertwined nature of different cultures that are more similar than they are different, the result of centuries of contact through trade, pilgrimage, and conquest".

"the values represented by [stamp collections]: openness, tolerance, and inquiry about the world, along with the recognition that culture exists independent of nationalism. These ideas can flourish everywhere, not only in the United States and Europe but wherever there is a spirit of inquiry about the world’s rich and diverse history".

"this more open future mostly depends on individual governments’ setting aside their nationalist claims and encouraging among their citizens a cosmopolitan view of the world’s many different cultures".

Yep, I reckon Cuno's arguments apply to postage stamps and sound equally pretentious as when applied to a load of fragments of marble and cruddy bronze exhibited in a fake Roman villa* in Los Angeles as trophies of some vanished society.  In addition there is absolutely no possibility of understanding the societies of the USA, or UK or Poland in the full richness of their variety based only on the selective images carried by their postage stamps -  even though they are specifically intended to convey such messages (addressed sources par excellance).  In the same way no ancient society can be properly studied in the full richness of its variety by the study of its coins and statuary alone. For this the study of a wider range of evidence is needed, archaeological evidence being one of the primary ones. One cannot do that if a large amount of the archaeological record has been trashed by artefact hunters seeking stuff to smuggle out to foreign dealers.

* an example of a vision of the 'pure form' of antique culture Cuno ridicules among the brown-skinned foreigners. 

Archaeological News on Tumblr

New generation of archaeologists takes ancient Egypt into 21st century

Young experts bring fresh ideas to help reform institutions in charge of likes of Tutankhamun’s...

Hippos-Sussita excavation: Silent evidence of the earthquake of 363 CE

Silent evidence of a large earthquake in 363 CE — the skeleton of a woman with a dove-shaped...

Martin Rundkvist (Aardvarchaeology)

Landsjö Castle Plan Develops

Landsjö castle. State of knowledge after the 2014 excavations.

Landsjö castle. State of knowledge after the 2014 excavations.

I’m giving a talk on Landsjö castle to the Kimstad Historical Society next week, and while preparing my presentation I made a sketch plan of this summer’s discoveries regarding the plan. The ruin just barely breaks the turf, so we didn’t know much about the castle’s layout beforehand except that it had a 60-metre straight stretch of perimeter wall along the west side and that it cannot have been rectangular.

Our main architectural discoveries in two July weeks of digging and clearing brush were as follows.

1. A wall divides the the castle into a large level inner bailey to the north and a small steeply sloping outer bailey to the south.

2. At the east end of this wall is a 7 x 7 m tower visited or used in the 1360s.

3. The perimeter wall had no substantial east reach above the castle islet’s steep east scarp.

4. The previously known NW tower was part of a longer building along the north reach of the perimeter wall.

5. The perimeter wall’s south reach was never any longer than can be made out today.

6. The castle’s main entrance into the outer bailey was over a bridge across the dry moat outside the south reach.

Landsjö castle. Architecture visible prior to 2014 excavations.

Landsjö castle. Architecture visible prior to 2014 excavations.

Bill Caraher (The New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World)

Friday Varia and Quick Hits

The lovely fall weather seems to be inclined to linger here in North Dakotaland, and we’ll take every day more that we can get. Right now, however, the weather doesn’t matter because my eyes are glued to our so-called “internet television” watching Australia’s first test match of summer: Australia v. Pakistan in Dubai. At the time of this writing, Pakistan seems to have Australia on the ropes. 

I think I’ll watch the extra length second session (extended because of time off for Friday prayers), and contemplate my quick hits and varia. Don’t worry, though, they’ll be ready for your weekend reading.

IMG 2178Watching the Cup Race. 

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Dig at church unearths burial vaults

Archaeologists working on a church in Cork have discovered three burial vaults dating back to the...

American School of Classical Studies in Athens: Events

Ιστορίες Μαγείας από το Βυζάντιο στην Ευρώπη

January 13, 2015 - 2:52 PM - LECTURE Prof. Alexander Alexakis, University of Ioannina

Ιστορίες Μαγείας από το Βυζάντιο στην Ευρώπη

January 13, 2015 - 2:52 PM - LECTURE Prof. Alexander Alexakis, University of Ioannina

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

LOST Rewatch: Homecoming

Claire returns but doesn’t remember anything after getting on the plane. Ethan finds Charlie and threatens to kill one person every night until he brings Claire to him. And so they set traps and post sentries. But someone named Scott Jackson is killed, even so.

CharlieDilemma1x15In flashbacks, Charlie copes with the apparent death of Driveshaft and the need for drugs by trying to find an opportunity to steal something from a rich family. When talking to the father in that family, he learns that he had been in a band called the Protestant Reformation. Charlie remembers being in withdrawal, trying to do a job presentation and vomiting. It parallels Charlie feeling useless in the present, unable to protect Claire.

Near the end of the episode, we see Charlie remembering the girl from whom he had tried to steal, saying “You’ll never take care of anybody.” And then we understand how his past is shaping him in the present.

And so, although they want to capture Ethan, Charlie shoots him dead.





Dorothy King (PhDiva)

Amphipolis at the British Museum and Looting

Very quick post as I still have the 'flu.

Stolen Amphipolis antiquities in Britain and Germany |

Amphipolis: British Museum responds to looting accusations |

I've mentioned before that there was material from Amphipolis in the Louvre, and there is also material from Amphipolis at the the British Museum. And in German museums, and in Greek museums - it was a pretty amazing city with many fabulous tombs, although none quite as fabulous as is currently being excavated.

The Getty returned a wreath which was probably looted in modern times from Amphipolis:

Six months ago no-one was interested in Amphipolis, now everyone is. I understand that the Greek people are hugely enthusiastic about this tomb, and would like to see all material returned that was taken from the city.

Conquerors have been looting forever. The Romans despoiled Greece, and there are still sculptures to this day in Rome that we can prove ancient Romans took from ancient Greek sanctuaries.

In legal terms people tend to draw a line between sites looted before the 1970 UNESCO Convention, and those looted after, for example the Getty Wreath. This may not be fair, and exceptions are made for Nazi war loot by many countries (although not Greek museums), but this is the general rule.

According to Dr Donna Yates, Dr Christos Tsirogiannis of the Greek Ministry of Culture is the man who seems to have said that the Lion Tomb was looted in modern times, so I suggest he would be the person to ask about that.

My feeling is that the is no sign of modern looting that I am aware of. The breaks in the doors are strange, but there could be a good explanation for them and there is no concrete evidence of ancient looting as everything can be explained by attempts to resolve structural issues.

Dr Katerina Peristeri and the Ministry of Culture have been very generous with access and photographs, but in the past 29 months - and because there was a generous suggestion that I write a book about the tomb, I have done quite a lot of research - there has been nothing that to me in any way suggests that there has been recent looting, nor are there pieces on the art market or in museums that seem to come from this tomb.

On the contrary, I would say that although there might have been looting in the Amphipolis area in both the recent and distant past, currently the citizens of Amphipolis are aware that the superstructure of the tomb was dispersed over a considerable area and are going out of their way to alert Dr Peristeri and her team of all the blocks they find in or near the 200 m exclusion zone.

If journalists are looking for a story, may I suggest that the pride of the people of Amphipolis and this active support for the excavation would be a better story than recycling old news.

Thibaut Castelli (Spartokos a Lu)

L’Or grec à l’Hermitage

Ju.P. Kalashnik (2014) : Греческое золото в собрании Эрмитажа:
Памятники античного ювелирного искусства из Северного Причерноморья / Grecheskoe zoloto v sobranii Jermitazha: Pamjatniki antichnogo juvelirnogo iskusstva iz Severnogo Prichernomor’ja, Saint-Pétersbourg [L'Or grec à l'Hermitage: Monuments des bijoux anciens du Nord de la mer Noire ].

Le livre présente les bijoux provenant des cités grecques du littoral nord de la mer Noire conservés au musée de l’Hermitage.

200 photos, des index.

Le sommaire

Предисловие. — 8
Вступительная статья. — 9
Альбом. — 40
Источники. — 269
Библиография. — 271
Указатели. — 276
Места находок археологических памятников. — 276
Предметы. — 276
Атрибуты богов, культовые и магические предметы и их изображения. — 278
Анималистические мотивы. — 279
Изображения людей. — 279
музыкальные инструменты. — 279


Archaeological News on Tumblr

Park Service Construction Damaged Native American Burial Sites

Imagine being able to drive an all-terrain vehicle right up next to a sacred earthen Native...

American School of Classical Studies in Athens: Events

Sanctuaries and Cults of Ancient Messene

October 25, 2014 - 2:04 PM - INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE

Αρχιτεκτονική της υγείας στην Αθήνα κατά τον 19ο και τις αρχές του 20ου αι.

October 30, 2014 - 1:45 PM - Μαθήματα εμβαθύνσεως στην Ιστορία της Αρχιτεκτονικής Γεωργία Αναγνωστοπούλου, Δρ. αρχιτέκτων ΕΜΠ

‘Cultural homogeneity and diversity in Prepalatial Crete: New evidence

November 10, 2014 - 1:42 PM - UPPER HOUSE SEMINAR Dr Yannis Papadatos (University of Athens)

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Goodison Egyptology collection in Southport exhibition

A private collection of Egyptian artefacts, dating from 3,000 BC to 200 AD, is to be exhibited in...

Laboratoire Orient et Méditerranée

Soutenance de thèse

Onas AL SALTY ALKRAD (Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne/UMR 8167-Orient et Méditerranée) soutiendra sa thèse de doctorat intitulée :
Les céramiques islamiques de Bosra en Syrie du Sud, VIIe-XVIe siècles. Contribution à l'étude des céramiques islamiques du Bilad al-Sham

La soutenance aura lieu le samedi 15 novembre 2014, à 14h, en salle Jullian, INHA.

Directeur de recherche : Alastair NORTHEDGE, PR université Paris 1

Membres du jury :
- Cristina TONGHINI (pré-rapporteur), PR Universita Ca'Focari Venezia
- Véronique FRANCOIS (pré-rapporteur), DR CNRS
- Alastair NORTHEDGE, PR université Paris 1
- Marie-Odile ROUSSET, CR CNRS

American School of Classical Studies in Athens: Events

Bronze Age Trade in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean: The Case of Maritime Transport Containers

November 06, 2014 - 1:17 PM - sixth Johannes Sundwall lecture Prof. A. Bernard Knapp

«The naval bases in Piraeus – The backbone of the Athenian Democracy»

October 29, 2014 - 1:11 PM - LECTURE Δρ. Bjorn Lovén

Αθήνα. Το πνεύμα του ’60: Μια πρωτεύουσα αλλάζει

November 03, 2014 - 1:05 PM - Εγκαίνια έκθεσης (Διάρκεια: 3 Νοεμβρίου–13 Δεκεμβρίου 2014) Γκαλερί Κέννεντυ Ελληνοαμερικανικής Ένωσης, Μασσαλίας 22, Κολωνάκι

The Stoa Consortium

Conference: Visual and Multi-Sensory Representations of History (Gothenburg, March 19-21 2015)

Reposted from Critical Heritage Studies blog (thanks to Anna Foka):

March 19-21 2015, Gothenburg. Deadline for abstracts November 20, 2014

Full call here

A Critical Approach to Visual and Multi-Sensory Representations for History and Culture.

A conference for scholars and practitioners who study the implementation and potential of visual and multi-sensory representations to challenge and diversify our common understanding of history and culture.

Abstracts for research papers, posters, visual and multi-sensory demonstrations of ongoing projects, workshops, panels, and organised sessions on the conference themes will be accepted until November 20, 2014.

Supporting partners:
Critical Heritage Studies (University of Gothenburg) //  HUMlab (Umeå University) // Visual Arena // Malmö Museer

Jim Davila (

New books on ancient Greek


First, from Brill:
Encyclopedia of Ancient Greek Language and Linguistics (3 vols)

General Editor: Georgios K. Giannakis (Thessaloniki)

The Encyclopedia of Ancient Greek Language and Linguistics (EAGLL) brings together the latest research from across a range of disciplines contributing to our knowledge of Ancient Greek. The EAGLL offers a systematic and comprehensive treatment of all aspects of the history and study of Ancient Greek, comprising detailed descriptions of the language from Proto-Greek to koine. It addresses linguistic aspects from several perspectives, including history, structure, individual singularities, biographical references, schools of thought, technical meta-language, sociolinguistic issues, dialects, didactics, translation practices, generic issues, Greek in relation to other languages, etc., and on all levels of analysis including phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, lexicon, semantics, stylistics, etc. It also includes all the necessary background information regarding the roots of Greek in Indo-European. As and when, excursions may be made to later stages of the language, e.g. Byzantine or even later. The focus, however, will predominantly be Ancient Greek. With well over 500 entries on all aspects of Ancient Greek, this new encyclopedia is the authoritative reference work for students and researchers of Ancient Greek, general linguistics, Indo-European languages, and Biblical literature.
And here's one from Eisenbrauns:
No Stone Unturned

No Stone Unturned
Greek Inscriptions and Septuagint Vocabulary
Critical Studies in the Hebrew Bible - CSHB 5
by James K. Aitken
Eisenbrauns, 2014
xiv + 140 pp., English
ISBN: 9781575063249
List Price: $28.95
Your Price: $26.06

For understanding biblical Greek in context, the importance of the discoveries of papyri was recognized early in the twentieth century, while inscriptions by comparison were left unexplored. Those scholars who had intended to turn their attention to the inscriptions were delayed by their work on the papyri and by the conviction that the greater results would come from these. As a result, undue focus has been placed on papyri, and biblical Greek words have been viewed only through their lens, leading to the inference that the Greek is specifically Egyptian and vernacular. This volume widens the focus on Septuagint words by demonstrating how the inscriptions, coming from a broader geographical region than papyri and containing a wider range of registers, are a source that should not remain untouched.

This work explains the current state of the study of Septuagint vocabulary and outlines the competing roles of papyri and inscriptions in its interpretation, including the limitations of focussing solely on papyri. The practical issues for a biblical scholar in dealing with inscriptions are presented and some guidance is given for those wishing to explore the resources further. Finally, examples are drawn together of how inscriptions can illuminate our understanding of Septuagint vocabulary, and thereby inform the socio-historical position of the Septuagint. The origins of apparently new words in the Septuagint, the semantic and grammatical function of words, and the geographical distribution and register all demonstrate the need for further investigation into this field.

Woes of smaller museum collections

IT'S HARD: Biblical-Era Collections Suffer in a New World of Archaeology (Geraldine Fabrikant, NYT)
In recent decades, countries that house remains of the ancient world have become determined to keep archaeological finds within their borders. Partly as a result, many smaller archaeological museums at religious-affiliated schools across the United States, lacking the financial resources to buy works or borrow actively from other collections, are scrambling to increase the museums’ appeal.

“Today they are often filling those museums with information, rather than with objects,” said Aaron Brody, director of the Badè Museum at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, Calif. In the process, they have become largely “legacy museums,” he said.
For the Tel Zayit Abcedary see here and links. The Siegfried H. Horn Museum has also been mentioned here, although the links have now rotted.

Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology in the Middle East

Flights 20141012-13 - Blink and you will miss it

One of the main aims of the Aerial Archaeology in Jordan Project is to photographically record archaeology in Jordan – a record through which it can be monitored.

This year has provided some highs and lows.

Reconstruction work has occurred at Qasr el-Mshatta near Queen Alia International Airport.
Qasr el-Mshatta
Qasr el-Mshatta in 1998. © APAAME_19980513_RHB-0054.
Qasr el-Mshatta
Qasr el-Mshatta in 2014. © APAAME_20141013_RHB-0012.

A possible Roman column quarry has somehow survived (so far) amongst a massive modern limestone quarry – and a ground visit found another quarry site on an adjacent hill. But how long will they survive the expanding modern quarry?

Sahab Quarry 1
Quarry. © APAAME_20141013_RHB-0467.
Two of the original columns of Machaerus have been restored and inaccurate representations removed.
Machaerus in 2006. © APAAME_20060910_DLK-0005.
Machaerys in 2014. © APAAME_20141013_MND-0086.
The building of a pilgrim hotel has destroyed one of the Roman siege camps (Roman Camp P) surrounding the site of Machaerus. The location no doubt was chosen for its excellent view over the ancient site. It is likely that very reason had once made it the ideal location from which the commander of the Roman siege forces possibly directed his assault.

 Machaerus in 1998. The faint trace of Roman Camp P can be seen on the peak in middle ground right. © APAAME_19980517_RHB-0071.
Pilgrim Hotel in foreground of Machaerus in 2014. © APAAME_20141013_RHB-0032.
Necropoli have been the target of looters since Antiquity, but modern looting is also evident – individual shafts at Khirbet Ain, honeycombing of hillsides at Pella and the systematic looting of Dead Sea sites Fifi, Al-Nage’a and Bab edh-Dhra.

Kh Ain Cemetery
Looting shafts at Khirbet Ain. © APAAME_20141012_REB-0235.
Looting shafts in the hillsides around Pella. © APAAME_20141012_MND-0384.
Fifi Cemetery
Systematic looting of Fifi. © APAAME_20141013_REB-0277.

Blogging Pompeii

Save the Swedish Institutes in the Mediterranean

Worrying news from Sweden: the Institutes around Mediterranean are in danger.

Swedish Institute at Athens announces:
"The Swedish government has proposed that the budget for the Mediterranean institutes (Athens, Istanbul, Rome) should be cut with more than half in 2016 and with 100% in 2017. This means that there will be no institutes. A petition could be signed at"

Here is the petition text in English:
Dear government,

The signers of this petition strongly disagree with the suggestion in this year’s budget bill to cut funding for the Swedish Institutes in the Mediterranean, and in the coming year completely abandon the financial support. This decision reflects a lack of investigation on the government’s part, and this decision can have devastating effects.

The Institutes provides an invaluable contribution to research, education and cultural exchange, all happening on a minute budget. They promote cross-disciplinary cooperation, mobility, internationalization, and the application of funds and excellence. The Institutes also contribute to the overall quality of many university disciplines in Sweden. They, moreover, function as a place for intercultural meetings, national centers and fora for courses, conferences, seminars and provide excellent resources for both small and large educational establishments. The institutes have a strong brand and are internationally known and respected research centres. To cut their funding would be a grave mistake.

Samuel Hardy (Conflict Antiquities)

Syria/Lebanon: antiquities-for-arms – have fakes been added to the real deal ‘or is the whole thing staged’?

Paul Barford ‘note[d] the large (I’d guess fake) “Syracuse dekas”‘ in a Russia Today (RT) video report on Relics for Rifles and rightly asked: ‘What’s going on? Have they been added to a real haul of dugups to make it more photogenic? Or is the whole thing staged?‘ It’s a good question and a difficult […]

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Director Sayles in Denial and Losses his Reading Glasses

"Those responsible for this sort of baseless 
vilification are really little better than the looters
they decry. Their agenda-driven ideological fervor

is as irrational as it is fanatical".
("Terrorists the lot of them" ACCG).

Anti-academic ACCG Director Wayne seems not to have asked ACCG Director Doris to bring his reading glasses before tapping away at his keyboard berating "scholars" (Friday, October 24, 2014 "...the scholars said"). He detects a conspiracy theory "in a so-called news report on "RT News"...". He denies everything, according to his use of scare quotes he does not believe that Mustafa is Mustafa, he does not believe he's Syrian, being filmed in Lebanon and does not believe that he's carrying any real antiquities. The female journalist probably is not a real blonde either. While I am no fan these days of Putin's mouthpiece media, I rather think Sayles confuses a news story with a detailed presentation of evidence (ACCG Director sidekick Tompa does the same in an equally tendentious post called "propoganda") . According to Sayles' conspiracy theory, there is no looting going on, no sales of smuggled items in Lebanon. This is all made up Mr Sayles suggests to discredit dealers like himself.
The claims seem intended mainly to bolster a recent open letter from more than 80 "prominent scholars" calling for a U.N. ban on the trade of Syrian antiquities—hardly coincidental.
Rather a narrow and self-centred interpretation of events. Perhaps Sayles might like to look a bit outside his blinkered box, and consider whether an additional reason in this case is related to Moscow's reaction to current US ambitions in Syria and Iraq (and also the potential long-term effects of militia rule in the Near East for the Russian federation). Sayles seems first to be in doubt about the authenticity of most of the artefacts shown ("purportedly ancient uncleaned coins") but then in a moment changes his mind and admits the bulk are "typical low grade surface finds from the region, [...] of very little interest or value to either collectors or archaeologists". Again we see the narrow object-centric approach of the collector. Their grade and "interest to collectors" is immaterial to the effects of digging them out of a stratified site, especially if mechanical excavators are being used. It seems Sayles was snoozing in bed when I published my thoughts about the coins that were shown to the camera. It is good to see we are in agreement about what they are, if not what they are doing on the film.
The article quotes the supposed looter as saying "these antiquities smuggled from Syria now form up to 50 percent of the European markets." That is a preposterous statement and not something that any responsible journalist or editor would endorse in print.
I suggest he now read the article properly, with his reading glasses on and try to work out who says what. It is not the looter that is quoted, but the collector-dealer who'd been selling the stuff on to dealers precisely from the EU.
the whole article reminds one of the yellow journalism of years gone by and appears now as a very thinly veiled attempt to criminalize the collecting of ancient coins and portable antiquities.
But, it is indeed illegal in the form in which we see it here, would Director Sayles, with or without his reading glasses, not agree? Ask Director Doris to explain it to you.

Source: "antiquities smuggled from Syria now form up to 50 percent of the European markets"

Free Syrian Army (FSA) soldier Abu Mustafa, as he called himself, illegally crossed the Lebanese border with relics he looted on the outskirts of Damascus, following fighting there. The rebels usually come at night, when it’s harder to catch them. Trading is done quickly and quietly. Mustafa says he [...] was planning to make nearly $3,000- $6,000 out of the relics - enough to return to Syria with a couple of Kalashnikovs, or even a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG), an anti-tank weapon system. [...] There are surely customers in this kind of venture. A man who asks to call him Abu Ghsein is an antiquity expert and a merchant, whose hobby is collecting antiquities. But the Syrian civil war, raging for its third year and so far claiming about 200,000 people, according to UN estimates, has changed his business. “I receive everyday four of five people from the Free Syrian Army and Al-Nusra Front to sell the relics to help the Free Syrian Army,” Abu Ghsein told RT. [...] “I receive merchants from Turkey, from Jordan, from the UK, France and also some Syrian merchants. And todays these antiquities smuggled from Syria now form up to 50 percent of the European markets,” he added.
Relics for rifles: Syrian rebels trade antique treasures for weapons RT October 23, 2014

VIDEO  Footage from the Lebanese-Syrian border of antiquities trading hands
note the large fake 'Syracuse dekas' in this film. What's going on?  Have they been added to a real haul of dugups to make it more photogenic? Or is the whole thing staged?

Bryn Mawr Classical Review

2014.10.44: Sophocles. The Theban Plays: Oedipus the Tyrant; Oedipus at Colonus; Antigone. Agora editions

Review of Peter J. Ahrensdorf, Thomas L. Pangle, Sophocles. The Theban Plays: Oedipus the Tyrant; Oedipus at Colonus; Antigone. Agora editions. Ithaca; London: 2014. Pp. xvii, 195. $12.95 (pb). ISBN 9780801478710.

Dorothy King (PhDiva)

Today In 51: Domitian Born

If you enjoyed this video by Adrian Murdoch, check out his book on The Emperors of Rome; Kindle UK, Kindle US, etc

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Gill's Review of Cuno's "Museums Matter: In praise of the encyclopaedic museum"

David Gill: Review of James Cuno, Museums Matter: In praise of the encyclopaedic museum (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2011) available open access here.

Société Internationale des Amis de Cicéron (Tulliana News)

SIAC Newsletter 68 (20/2014)



- Claudia Di Fonzo – Membro scientifico – Firenze (Italia)

- Carole Mabboux – Membro scientifico – Mouxy (France)

- Valentina Scaringella – Membro scientifico – Cantalupa (Italia)


Les noms des membres de la SIAC sont en gras. – I nomi dei membri della SIAC sono in grassetto. – Names of SIAC members are written with bold characters.


- Bakhouche, Béatrice, Quelques remarques sur les présocratiques à Rome : la figure d’Empédocle de Cicéron à saint Augustin, dans Eugenio Amato (éd.), En kalois koinopragia. Hommages à la mémoire de Pierre-Louis Malosse et Jean Bouffartigue, “RET Supplément”, 3, 2014, 53-71. LIEN

- Fezzi, Luca, ‘Frumentationes': alternativa tardorepubblicana alle ‘tabulae novae’?, in Roberto Cristofoli, Alessandro Galimberti, Francesca Rohr Vio, La spazio del non-allineamento a Roma fra tarda Repubblica e Primo Principato. Atti del Convegno di Studi (Milano 11-12 Aprile 2013), Roma, L’Erma di Bretschneider, 2014, 33-48. LINK

- Malaspina, Ermanno, Lucius Annaeus Seneca: De Clementia [On Clemency], in The Literary Encyclopedia, First published 11 October 2014 [online]. LINK


- Journée d’étude sur saint Augustin Cosmos Augustinianus, 23 octobre 2014, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier. Béatrice Bakhouche (Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier), Augustin et le corps du monde au livre VIII de la Cité de Dieu. LIEN

- Colloque Formes d’aliénation politique : contrainte sans violence et violence d’État. Le paradigme romain (IIe-Ier siècles av. J.C.), Besançon, 24-25/10/2014. Thomas Guard (Université de Franche-Comté / ISTA), Contrainte et violence d’État au 1er siècle av. J.-C. : Le(s) gouverneur(s) de Cicéron ; Jean-Louis Ferrary (EPHE), Conclusions du Colloque. LIEN

- Colloque International Les effets de voix, Université de Lille 3, 13-15 Novembre 2014. Charles Guérin (UPEC/IUF), Parler comme il faut : la rhétorique latine classique face aux déviances vocales. LIEN

- The British Epigraphy Society, 2014 Autumn Colloquium, 14 November 2014, London. Jean-Louis Ferrary (Paris), Editing the corpus from Claros. LINK

- Incontri sul tema Tradurre perché? Tradurre per chi? Lingue e culture classiche alla prova. Torino, 29 novembre 2014, con Andrea Balbo, Ermanno Malaspina, Luigi Spina, Tommaso Braccini, Pietro Cappelletto, Gabriele Galeotto. LINK



- Lévi, Nicolas, La Révélation finale à Rome. Cicéron, Ovide et Apulée, Paris, Presses de l’Université Paris-Sorbonne, 2014. LIEN

- Schröder, Bianca-Jeanette, rev. of Anja Behrendt, Mit Zitaten kommunizieren: Untersuchungen zur Zitierweise in der Korrespondenz des Marcus Tullius Cicero, Rahden, VML Verlag Marie Leidorf, 2013, “Bryn Mawr Classical Review”, 2014.10.07. LINK

- Üstünel Keyinci, Ceyda, Cicero’nun Logikē ve Dialektikē Terimlerini Latinceye Çeviri Yöntemi (Cicero’s Method of Translating Logikē and Dialektikē Terms into Latin), “Ankara Üniversitesi Dil ve Tarih-Coğrafya Fakültesi Dergisi”, 54, 1, 2014, 347-368. LINK

- Vial-Logeay, Anne, La topographie de Rome chez Cicéron : quelques remarques sur l’invention d’un paysage politique, dans Nelis Damien & Royo Manuel (éd.), Lire la Ville. Fragments d’une archéologie littéraire de Rome antique, Bordeaux, Ausonius, 2014, 65-84. LIEN


- 14th Dorothy Buchan Memorial Lecture, 4 November 2014, University of Leicester. Kathryn Tempest (University of Roehampton), Cicero and the Greeks. LINK

- Cambridge Classics Research Seminars, 5 November 2014, Cambridge. Ingo Gildenhard (Cambridge), Frugalitas in Cicero, or: The Invention of a Roman Virtue. LINK

- Evening talks at the East Oxford Community Classics Centre, Oxford, 6 November 2014. Alison Rosenblitt (Oxford), Introduction to Cicero’s De Imperio. LINK

[Last updated on October 24th, 2014.]

Filed under: Newsletter Tagged: Cicero, Newsletter, SIAC


RIP Gough Whitlam – Parthenon Marbles reunification supporter

Former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was a long time supporter of the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures. I was fortunate enough to see him speak on the issue in 2001 at a conference organised by the Institute of Art and Law. I was later to discover that this was the last overseas trip he made.

He was 85 years old at the time, but if you met him, you would never have believed it. He talked eloquently at great length about the history of the sculptures & how they had come to be where they are today. The story was so convincingly told, that his conclusions that they must be returned were almost unnecessary – if you understood the story, you would have made up your own mind the same ways ass he did that there was only one rightful place that could be called the home of the Parthenon Sculptures.

Gough Whitlam died on 21st October, aged 98.

Former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam

Former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam

The Australian

Gough Whitlam praised from both sides of politics
October 21, 2014 2:30PM

POLITICIANS from across the divide have heaped praise on Gough Whitlam, describing the former prime minister as a “visionary” leader who spurred both progressives and conservatives into public life.

Mr Whitlam, who died this morning aged 98, led Australia for three turbulent years from 1972, launching sweeping reforms of the nation’s economic and cultural affairs, until his dismissal by the governor-general John Kerr amid a constitutional crisis in 1975.

His controversial reforms included early recognition of Aboriginal land rights, normalisation of diplomatic ties with China, universal health care, universal access to university, no-fault divorce, and the end of conscription and withdrawal of forces from Vietnam.

Tony Abbott has directed all flags be flown at half-mast in honour of Mr Whitlam, whom we described as “a giant of his time” who “inspired a legion of young people to get involved in public life”.

“Members of his government displayed the usual human foibles, but support it or oppose it, there was a largeness of purpose to all his government attempted, even if its reach far exceeded its grasp,” the Prime Minister told parliament.

“He may not have been our greatest prime minister, but he was certainly one of the greatest personalities that our country has ever produced. And no prime minister has been more mythologised.”

Bill Shorten said Mr Whitlam redefined Australia “like no other prime minister before or since”.

“Think of Australia in say, 1966. Ulysses was banned. Lolita was banned. It was the Australia of the six o’clock swill, with no film industry and only one television drama, ‘Homicide’. Political movements to the left of the DLP were under routine surveillance,” the Opposition Leader told parliament.

“Many Australians of talent … as a matter of course left their home native country to try their luck in England. Yet Gough reimagined Australia, our home, as a confident, prosperous, modern, multicultural nation, where opportunity belonged to everyone.”

Mr Whitlam’s children — Antony, Nicholas and Stephen Whitlam and Catherine Dovey — said in a statement: “A loving and generous father, he was a source of inspiration to us and our families and for millions of Australians.”

There will be a private cremation and public memorial service, the statement said.

Julia Gillard, prime minister between 2010 and 2013, said Mr Whitlam remained alive in his reforms and the lives that were changed for the better.

“He is alive in our universities and the many lives he changed by giving free access to university education, my life included in that count. Alive in Medicare and the uniquely Australian health system we now take for granted. Alive in our suburbs and in our family law. Alive in our relationship with China and our multicultural society. Alive in our embrace of land rights for indigenous Australians and our hope for a truly reconciled future,” Ms Gillard told Guardian Australia.

“Gough is alive in today’s Labor Party, too. We celebrate his government’s triumphs and never forget the hard lessons learned from the mistakes.

“Every Labor leader and every prime minister who has followed him has wrestled with his legacy. Gough Whitlam transformed so much about Australia and the prime ministership.”

The Leader of the House, Christopher Pyne, said: “You always got the impression with Gough Whitlam he was a follower of heroes but also wanted to be a hero himself. In fact, to many in the non-Labor side of politics, as is clear by this debate so far and from what I’m sure is to come, he is a hero to many in the non-Labor side of politics.

“To me Gough Whitlam conjures up images of a great ancient Greek or Roman statesman. A person of great wit, sophistication, eloquence, privilege but giving his life over to public service, seeing public service as the most important thing that he could do to make his society and his country a greater place.”

Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek, in a tearful interview on Sky News, said Mr Whitlam’s most controversial policies had become “absolutely embedded in our national history and character”.

“The lesson, I suppose, is those brave policy decisions which have set Australia on a better course should inspire us to bravery today as well, to make those tough decisions to stand up and argue for the things that we believe in — things that we know can make our nation stronger,” Ms Plibersek said.

“He was a loving and generous figure in the Labor Party as well … He was so generous with his time and his advice, it always felt like a real thrill as a young person moving into a position of responsibility in the Labor Party actually to be able to go and see Gough Whitlam and say ‘what do you think about these issues?’, ‘can you tell us a bit more about the history?’”

Veteran Labor strategist Bruce Hawker, on Twitter, described Mr Whitlam as “a giant in every sense of the word”.

“He inspired a generation and transformed his party, changing the nation forever,” Mr Hawker wrote.

Greens leader Christine Milne wrote Mr Whitlam’s death marked “a very sad day” for Australia.

“He was a larger-than-life figure whose leadership profoundly changed the nation for the better,” Senator Milne wrote.

Former Victorian Liberal premier Jeff Kennett described Mr Whitlam as his “comrade”.

“A giant of a man, committed to the return of the Elgin Marbles to Greece. A friend with a great sense of humour,” Mr Kennett also wrote on Twitter.

West Australian premier Colin Barnett refused to characterise Mr Whitlam as a great prime minister.

“He changed our thinking and modernised Australia but a lot of the things he set out to do didn’t really work … like his grand sort of spending programs that really just didn’t come off,” Mr Barnett told Perth radio.

“I don’t want to be miserable about it but I think he ended up with a government in chaos — it was absolute chaos, so he didn’t lead his government well.

“But he certainly painted a bigger, new, modern picture for Australia and for that he deserves his place in history.”

Former Labor prime minister Bob Hawke urged Australians against sad for Mr Whitlam’s death, saying he and his family were prepared for the end.

“No star has shone brighter in the Australian political firmament over the years than the star of Gough Whitlam,” Mr Hawke said.

“Australia is a significantly better nation because of the life and work of Gough Whitlam.”

The post RIP Gough Whitlam – Parthenon Marbles reunification supporter appeared first on Elginism.

Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

Workshop internazionale sull'Infrastruttura di ricerca archeologica del progetto ARIADNE


infrastrutture-beni culturali-titoloSi svolgerà a Roma, il 14 Novembre 2014 alla Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, a partire dalle ore 14.00, il workshop internazionale organizzato dal progetto europeo ARIADNE ((Advanced Research Infrastructure for Archaeological Dataset Networking in Europe), che si propone di realizzare l’infrastruttura di ricerca archeologica europea.

Un archivio interattivo Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Viareggio

gamc-viareggioE' stato recentemente inaugurato a Viareggio presso la Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (Gamc) Lorenzo Viani, Palazzo delle Muse di Viareggio il nuovo Archivio digitale interattivo pensato per avvicinare l’arte al pubblico e agli studiosi.

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Tom Flynn: ‏ a response to James Cuno

Tom Flynn ‏on 'Why it’s right to repatriate certain museum artefacts: a response to James Cuno':
His most recent article was published by ‘Foreign Affairs’, the journal of the Council of Foreign Relations, which might suggest that western museums and their collections have moved from being little more than a conversational amuse-bouche to be rolled around the tongue at posh Washington dinner parties, to a more meaty issue at the heart of American foreign policy. This is particularly telling when one considers the deep structural damage done to ancient cultural heritage as a consequence of American and coalition interventions into the Middle East in recent decades. The widespread looting and illicit trade in archaeological objects that became a bi-product of those catastrophic military adventures are now reaching an even more critical level.[...] Against this backdrop, it is more than a little alarming to hear the president and CEO of one of the most important cultural institutions in North America arguing against the repatriation of material culture from encyclopaedic museums.
Flynn argues that the argument in favour of the selective repatriation or reunification of specific objects is motivated not by a desire to dismantle the encyclopaedic museums but rather to arrive at a fairer distribution of the world’s cultural heritage and to right just a few historical wrongs in a way that  strengthens the ties between nations.  
What is striking fear into the hearts of western museum directors is not a fear of losing their Marbles, their kraters, their altars, busts and statues; rather it is a displaced anxiety about how repatriation might symbolise the declining status of the once all-powerful western nations they represent. The museum, and what it contains, is the most visible and eloquent expression of the western nations’ imperial past. As geopolitical developments shift the axis of wealth generation and economic power from West to East, so to speak, so the need to cleave to the material evidence of the colonial era grows ever more urgent.[...]
The increasingly clamorous calls by ‘source nations’ for repatriation of a few important objects is not a desire to affirm an atavistic connection to an archaic national identity, as Cuno claims (although even if it were, what is wrong with that?). It is motivated as much by a yearning to write, through their surviving material culture, the rich narrative of their historical development — and ours — from their ancient past to the present. The retention by Western museums of most of the key examples of world culture is also to retain the power and authority to write those narratives from a Western perspective. It is hardly surprising that for many source nations the whiff of colonialism lingers in the corridors of our encyclopaedic museums.
There are a lot of other good and fresh points in Flynn's response to Cuno's stale old stuff. "Worth a read" as a Washington dealer gushed enthusiastically about the original text.

Samuel Hardy (Conflict Antiquities)

Is there a conflict antiquities trade in Qurans from Libya via Malta?

A ‘group of gunmen’ looted the Karamanli Mosque on the 7th of October and the Sufi Othman Pasha Madrassa on the 11th; only local civilian protectors saved the Darghout Mosque from the same fate. (At the time, they were said to have taken ceramic tiles, marble architectural elements and the floor from the Karamanli Mosque; […]

Laura Gibbs (Bestiaria Latina Blog)

Latin Proverbs and Fables Round-Up: October 24

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

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

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


3-WORD MOTTOES: Today's 3-word motto is Vive in diem (English: Live for the day).

3-WORD PROVERBS: Today's 3-word proverb is Quaerite et invenietis (English: Seek, and ye shall find).

RHYMING PROVERBS: Today's proverb with rhyme is: Discite victuri, sed vivite cras morituri (English: Learn as if you were going to live, but live as if you were going to die tomorrow).

VULGATE VERSES: Today's verse is Sapientia absconsa et thesaurus invisus: quae utilitas in utrisque? (Sirach 20:30). 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: Nemo mortalium omnibus horis sapit: No man in the world is wise at al houres. It is only belonging to God and properly due unto him never to commit follie. There is, I say, no man, but otherwiles doteth, but is deceived, but plaieth the foole, though he seme never so wise. Whan I say man, I except not the woman.

BREVISSIMA: The distich poster for today is Divitiis Utamur Ut Oportet. Click here for a full-sized view.

And here are today's proverbial LOLcats:


MILLE FABULAE: The fable from the Mille Fabulae et Una widget is Simia, Camelus, et Elephantus, a good story for those of you in states with highly contested elections this season!

FABULAE FACILES: The fable from the Fabulae Faciles widget is Struthiocamelus Perfidus, the story of the ostrich in the war of the birds and the beasts (this fable has a vocabulary list).

Struthiocamelus Perfidus

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

Leo et Puteus

October 23, 2014

Ancient Art

The Temple of Debod. This ancient Egyptian temple, dedicated to...

The Temple of Debod.

This ancient Egyptian temple, dedicated to the goddess Isis, was built during the Greco-Roman period, and originally located 15 km south of Aswan. It has since been moved to Madrid in Spain.

The construction of the Aswan Dam threatened to submerge the Nubian monuments in southern Egypt. In order to save these important aspects of Egypt’s cultural heritage, UNESCO in 1960 launched their project for the re-location of these monuments. The project was successful, and as a token of appreciation for the help received from Spain, the Egyptian government donated to the country this temple.

Photos courtesy of & taken by Pablo de Medina.

Doug's Archaeology: Investigating the Profession and Research

In Open Access Publishing There Are No Free Lunches….. but it is really really cheap.

In my last post, I mentioned that not all Open Access publishing involves authors paying $2,000. In fact, many journals neither charge the authors or readers and if they do some will waive fees. This led to this very thoughtful comment from Anders-

“Excellent that there are OA publishers that do not charge the authors an APC, and that the review process is independent of payment.

However, that does raise another question. If the journal offer the same service as we (at least I) have been used to, that is things like professional peer review, archiving, indexing, PR (see also the blog post of yesterday by Kent Anderson, and charge neither writer or reader, how can their operations be economically sustainable?

I am not saying that you’re wrong; I just struggle to see how things add up. The way I read you, the journals you mention do not just offer you a free lunch, they waive the entire cost for the flight ticket. How is that possible?”

Publishers Are Like Snow Flakes

No one knows the exact number of journal publishers there are but I have seen ranges of 25-35k journals published by 10-15k publishers. They range from one man bands putting out a few articles a year to giant publishers like Elsevier with thousands of titles to  mega journals like PLOS ONE. Which makes it impossible to know exactly how everyone deals with this issue.

Sharing is Caring

That being said here is how some publishers deal with it:

That is the cost breakdown from Ubiquity press for their Gold Access (author pays) model. It is what I love about Ubiquity press, they are very open and honest about their whole process. You can see they have built in 16% of their charges to cover waivers for others. Basically, those who can pay do and cover the fees for others.

There Are No Free Lunches but ….

Ubiquity Press has DOI‘s, does peer review, their articles are archived through CLOCKSS, and they have a top notch website system to handle the whole process of publishing from submitting an article to publication. They have the same level and quality of services that I imagine Anders or anyone is accustom to. And they do this for an average of £300 per article, some of their Archaeology ones are for £250. Nope, not a typo that is about 10% of the prices that big commercial outfits charge, like Wiley-Blackwell, and Ubiquity is a profit making organization. They are not a charity.

How about $6.50 per article? That is roughly how much it has cost the Journal of Machine Learning Research (JMLR) to publish 1000 articles. What’s the quality of JMLR? Well ….

“Its first year in ISI’s rankings, it had the highest Impact Factor of any journal in its Web of Science subject category (“computer science, artificial intelligence”). It is currently ranked eighth (of 108 journals) by Impact Factor”

JMLR is run on donations and in-kind support. That is the other possible way of giving the ‘entire cost for the flight ticket’. An institute or individual takes over the very minor costs of running the journal. It is not free per say, the donors pay for it, but it is cheap enough that it can be done.

How the Sausage is Made

How can they provide services for $6.50? Actually, you can run an entire journal for about $350 a year. Those costs are:

  • Web hosting: $60/year
  • DOI numbers/CrossRef membership: $275/year or €75/year (including 50 DOI numbers)
  • CLOCKSS archival service: $200/year

Everything else you could possible need is provided by free Open Source Software like Open Journals System (OJS). The amazing Dr Martin Paul Eve has done a five part series on how to do this (part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5). He is the one who provided those numbers.

This takes care of all technical needs, sending emails, accepting papers, etc. etc. etc.

Outsource, Outsource, Outsource

That still leaves lots of human work involved. Expensive people-work like copy-editing, type-setting (now involves converting Word docs to XML) , etc. Or is it that expensive? I would like to tell you about this mythical place called India, where what would cost you to employ a BA in English you can get three PhDs in English who can also do French and Spanish. Again, I love the honesty of Ubiquity. Watch this video on what they do-

They are very honest about their process and that some of the work is shipped off to India.

Shhhhhh ……… Don’t Tell the Academics

Yes, the modern world of journal publishing is built on the pens of poor countries. When people talk about the jobs lost in publishing if Springer et al went out of business it is actually a tiny number. They have already outsourced most of their workforce. You don’t get 30-40% profit margins without undercutting wages.

#freepublishing like #freearchaeology

The other day I say an advertisement to be the Editor of Kiva, $9,000. There are some jobs you can’t outsource, like editor. However, it can be done for free or picked up by others. Not too long ago when an academic became an editor their University would count a quarter of their time as going to the journal i.e. teach a little less. The Universities picked up the tab for editors. I know what your thinking, ‘go home commie and take your socialism with you.’

I just ask you to think about this hypothetical for a moment. A professor at an US University spends 60 hours writing up a paper. It is sent to two associate professors who spend 4 hours each reading it and critiquing it. Before it is published the original author spends another 20 hours making corrections. How much was just spend on that paper? Well if we take the average Professors Salary of $100,000 and the average Associate Professors salary of $70,000. Then we come up with $4125 (based on 60 hrs prof. time (100,000 / 52weeks x 40 hours =$3,850 and 8 hours associates = $275).

The thing is we don’t have to imagine this hypothetical because it happens all the time. That is more than what Springer charges for its Open Access articles in Archaeology. If we use UP’s low £300 i.e. $450 than the time paid for by Universities makes up 90% of the costs of an article already. What’s a little more in-kind work (well paid for by Universities), especially to make the journal free?

Remember the Snowflakes and Scaling

Alright, I could go on and on about the different aspects of publishing and how you can do it for almost no costs AND quality, like marketing. But, I think you have got the point.

A more important thing to discuss is the fact that not everyone can do what I have described. It may be cliche but publishers are a bit like snowflakes, all the same but unique. I am sure editors of small regional Archaeology journals are thinking right now, ‘Where is my $9,000. I do this for free’. Elsiver can offshore labor intensive work but most small societies cannot. Not all publishers can do this.

Anders mentioned a blog post about 82 things publishers do. Ugh 82, its like Buzzfeed puked up all over The Scholarly Kitchen*. But moving on, some of the things mentioned in that list was develop new technology, innovate, etc. You will notice a good portion of the costs for Ubiquity are things like platform development. That involves them doing custom coding to their OJS. They also spend some of that 38% fighting the brave fight for OA against billion dollar companies. Serious, you probably didn’t know this but Ubiquity has present before the EU to fight for OS. Money or someone’s time is needed to advance publishing as a field, not just to advance profits**. I hope I have gotten across the point that money does need to be spent.

BUT, it does not need to be a lot of money. For example, OJS can run thousands of websites. It is all about scale. One system funding by Universities or Government could publish millions of articles and thousands. I know what your thinking, ‘Go home hippie and take your socialism with you. That could never happen’. Expect, it already has. Pubmed has millions of articles for free, well links to them, and that is a government set up. Hrack, the central portal of Croatian scientific journals, has hundreds of journals. Raco for Spain and Open Editions for France. Governments can, and have, set up systems that reach economics of scale that can allow everyone to enjoy not only the free meal, but the flight too.

If Only….

Open Access in which the authors and readers don’t have to pay is 100% financially and technically feasible, or at the very least small amounts. But, not very likely to happen anytime soon. We live in a warped system where the name of where you publish matters more than what you published. Something I will focus on in future posts on the subject. Needless to say, there are a lot of vested interests in the current system that need to be overcome. That is what we should be focusing on, not the money or technical abilities which are of a minor concern*** .




* I actually like Kent, if I don’t agree with everything he says. I just hate those bussfeed type lists 30 greatest, 40 things that will… Yeah, number 8, 12, 33, 1 were good but most of the lists are fluff. They should be 5 things…. . So my distaste has to do with long lists not SK.

** I have absolutely nothing against making a profit. But, publishers should realize I am into making money too. You don’t make money by overpaying, just saying.

*** Well if you are a publisher needing to make a profit they are not a minor concern.

Calenda: Histoire grecque

Anatolie : de l'époque archaïque à Byzance

La journée d’étude « Anatolie : de l’époque archaïque à Byzance » est l’occasion de réunir des doctorants de l’École doctorale 1 : « Mondes anciens et médiévaux ». La journée se tiendra le samedi 8 novembre à la Maison de la Recherche de l’université Paris-Sorbonne.

David Gill (Looting Matters)

James Cuno Revives "Culture Wars"

I have been unimpressed by James Cuno's attempts to be a commentator on the looting of archaeological sites. I have reviewed his works elsewhere:

Now Cuno has decided to reopen the discussion with an essay, "Culture Wars: The Case Against Repatriating Museum Artifacts
", Foreign Affairs November / December 2014.

Cuno overlooks some issues that are very relevant to the debate about repatriation. What about the Egyptian material from the Tomb of Tetatki that had been acquired by the Louvre? Is the AAMD 2008 acquisition policy as tight as Cuno suggests?

Cuno limits the information about the returns to Italy as a result of the Medici Conspiracy to what was displayed in the Nostoi exhibition in Rome (and Athens).
it was the Medici scandal that eventually led the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and the Princeton University Art Museum to send those 69 objects back to Rome in 2007.
To that list of institutions (some linked to Gianfranco Becchina rather than Giacomo Medici) we could add (among others) the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, and Toledo Museum of Art. The Dallas Museum of Art took the initiative to return material without being asked. And there are other major collections in North America where acquisitions are linked to Medici (e.g. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts). And my running list from 8 major museums adds up to 326 items returned. (And then we can add in material from a private collector, auction-houses, and dealers.) It does look as if Cuno has down-played the scale of the problem. And while we talk about figures, over 60% of the objects returned from those museums were acquired in the 1990s or 2000s.

Cuno also could have discussed the loan of archaeological material from Italian collections to museums such as New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and to Dallas. And Princeton was allowed to retain some material although the title was given to Italy.

Perhaps Cuno needs to reflect on the lessons derived from the Medici Conspiracy and respond to the constructive comments by thoughtful museum directors such as Maxwell Anderson.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

ArcheoNet BE

Conflict in Contact II: het programma

Op vrijdag 14 november vindt in Riemst de tweede contactdag over conflictarcheologie plaats: ‘Conflict in Contact II’. Met deze contactdag willen de initiatiefnemers een ontmoetings- en overlegforum bieden aan allen die geïnteresseerd zijn in de archeologie van conflictsites uit een ver en minder ver verleden. De lezingen hebben betrekking op de actualiteit van het archeologisch onderzoek, de opgravingen en vondsten van de voorbije jaren. Vandaag werd het definitieve programma bekendgemaakt.


9u00 Onthaal
9u40 Burgemeester Mark Vos en Tim Vanderbeken – Verwelkoming
10u00 Ruurd Kok – Keynote Lecture Nederlandse slagveldarcheologie
10u40 Simon Verdegem en Jeroen Loopik – Een stille aanval met grote gevolgen: De Duitse inval in België en de strijd om de brug van Vroenhoven (10 mei 1940) archeologisch bekeken
11u00 Maarten Bracke – Brecht: een strijdtoneel in 1944
11u20 Rombout Nijssen – Oorlog in Limburg vanuit een historisch perspectief
11u40 Guido Deseijn – Het ‘slagveld in de huiskamer’ – het belang van het verzamelen van interbellum speelgoed en memorabilia als het ‘geheugen’ van de ‘Groote Oorlog’

12u00 Lunch + museumbezoek

13u20 Marc Dewilde – De ‘leege platse’, een geruimde Duitse begraafplaats in Beselare (Zonnebeke)
13u40 Bert Heyvaert – Outpost Wieltje – vroege Britse stellingbouw in de Ieperboog
14u00 Anton Ervynck – Aalst, Leopoldstraat 42 – de dagelijkse voeding in bezet België in 1917
14u20 Timothy Saey, Wouter Gheyle, Marc Van Meirvenne, Jean Bourgeois, Stephanie Verplaetse, Veerle Van Eetvelde, Birger Stichelbaut – Elektromagnetische inductie op een slagveld van de Groote Oorlog: Chemin du Mont de la Hutte – Ploegsteert
14u40 April Pijpelinck – CSI in de praktijk – methodologische aanpak inzake gesneuvelden uit WOI en WOII
15u00 Pauze
15u30 Tim Vanderbeken – Zuid-Limburg: stratego in het groot
15u50 Johan Termote – 17de eeuwse verdedigingslinies rond de vesting Veurne
16u10 Marc Brion – De methodologische aanpak van een kampplaats in Herent
16u30 Thomas Apers, Maarten Bracke en Simon Verdegem – Fluxys – een lijn door het Duits/Belgische front (een eerste beschouwing)
16u40 Receptie aangeboden met steun van de gemeente Riemst

Meer info: alle praktische informatie en een inschrijvingsformulier vind je op Inschrijven kan nog tot 7 november.

Dorothy King (PhDiva)

The Swedish Schools Closing

If you follow Ida Ostenberg (@IdaOstenberg) on Twitter you might have heard the news that the new coalition in Sweden wants to close down the Schools in Athens, Rome, Istanbul etc. This would be very sad as Sweden has both a long archaeological and a long Classical Tradition.

This tweet is to a petition - unlike ISIS or the Taliban, the Swedish government is more likely to listen if many sign this, so please take a moment to do so. Without the Schools Swedish postgrad education and opportunities will be dimmed, and our own interaction with them will also fade. The international culture of the schools is one of the great benefits of spending time in Athens, and discussing work with colleagues and sharing projects (even if the Ephoria then kicks you off it when they realise it's far more important than they thought).

Open Access Archaeology

Open Access Archaeology Digest #580

Open Access (free to read) archaeology articles for everyone:

Pottery Production in Issa

Chemical studies of occupation soils in India

Notices of the City Cross of Edinburgh, &c., &c., illustrated by a Model and Drawings of the existing remains.

Learn more about Open Access and Archaeology at:

Byzantine News

New book: Missionary Stories and the Formation of the Syriac Churches

From California University Press a new book by Jeanne-Nicole Mellon Saint-Laurent Missionary Stories and the Formation of the Syriac Churches.
This book analyzes the hagiographic traditions of six missionary saints in the Syriac heritage: Thomas, Addai, Mari, Simeon of Beth Arsham, Jacob Baradaeus, and Ahoudemmeh. Saint-Laurent studies a body of legends about missionaries' voyages in the Syrian Orient and illustrates their shared symbols and motifs. Revealing how these texts encapsulate the concerns of the communities that wrote them, she draws attention to the role of hagiography as a malleable genre that was well suited for the idealized presentation of the beginnings of Christian communities. Hagiographers, through their reworking of missionary themes, assert autonomy, orthodoxy, and apostolicity for their individual civic and monastic communities, posturing themselves in relationship to the rulers of their empire and other competing forms of Christianity. She argues that missionary hagiography is an important and neglected source for understanding the development of the East and West Syriac ecclesiastical bodies: the Syrian Orthodox Church and the Church of the East. Many of these Syriac-speaking churches remain today in the Middle East and India, with diaspora communities in Europe and North America. While Saint-Laurent focuses on late antiquity in Missionary Stories and the Formation of the Syriac Churches, her work opens up further study of the role of saints and stories as symbolic links between ancient and modern traditions.

Archaeological News on Tumblr

The “First CD-ROM”, Phaistos Disc, Stores Prayer to Mother

The first ever CD-ROM, the infamous and enigmatic Phaistos Disc that was made 4,000 years before...

Ancient Peoples

Canopic Jar 12th-13th Dynasty, Middle Kingdom c.1859-1640...

Canopic Jar

12th-13th Dynasty, Middle Kingdom

c.1859-1640 BC

(Source: The Metropolitan Museum)

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Dealer: "Culture War well worth the read"

"One of the best articles I have read for some time, well worth the read" says ADCAEA dealer Sue McGovern Huffman. One wonders what else she reads, apart from Peter Tompa, because she was talking about Cuno's piece about how repatriating other people's stuff is "wrong".

Here is a distribution map of the museums that signed the Declaration to which Cuno refers. You will note the very clear concentration away from the actual sources of the material  McGovern Huffman and her fellow ADCAEA dealers sell stuff from. Having such grandly-named 'encyclopaedic' museums in which local antiquities can be seen in their globalist context is not a privilege extended to the people whose cultural heritage ends up piled as trophies in the museums of Europe and the USA. 


How disgusting is this culture war waged by the privileged nations on the rest of the world and the attitudes of entitlement that lie behind it? 

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Oldest High-Altitude Human Settlement Discovered in Andes

The oldest-known evidence of humans living at extremely high altitudes has been unearthed in the...

AIA Fieldnotes

Honor Frost Foundation Scholarship for Master¹s students at the University of Cyprus


Honor Frost Foundation Scholarship for Master¹s students at the University of Cyprus (£ 10,000). The scholarship is aimed at the students in the programme Œ Field Archaeology on Land and under the Sea, regardless of their admission year. The successful candidate must demonstrate a genuine interest in maritime archaeology and a clear intention to write a dissertation about a maritime subject, preferably concerning the eastern Mediterranean. Only one scholarship per year is offered.

Entry requirements: Read more »

Contact Name: 
Dr. Stella Demesticha

4th Annual Undergraduate Classics Research Conference

Sponsoring Institution/Organization: 
Sponsored by University of Tennessee’s Department of Classics
Event Type (you may select more than one): 
Start Date: 
Saturday, February 21, 2015 - 9:00am

     The University of Tennessee’s Department of Classics is pleased to announce its 4th Annual Undergraduate Classics Research Conference.  The conference will be held February 21, 2015, and we are currently calling for submissions from interested undergraduates throughout North America.  This conference will pertain to a wide variety of topics concerning the classical world. Read more »


Emma Pugmire
Call for Papers: 
CFP Deadline: 
November 14, 2014

Kristina Killgrove (Powered by Osteons)

Who needs an osteologist? (Installment 19)

Welcome back to Who needs an osteologist?  Today, we have a special fantasy-chimera edition thanks to my husband, who was recently at GitHub HQ in San Francisco for an all-company meeting.  He snapped this picture of the "skeleton" of the famous GitHub Octocat:

Felis octocatus skeleton at GitHub headquarters

Octocat in the flesh

The sign below the display reads, "Octocat Skeleton. Felis octocatus.  This piece, which GitHub was lucky enough to receive from an anonymous donor, is the oldest known fossil evidence of an octocat. Carbon dating reveals the remarkably well-preserved remains to be approximately 6.3 million years old, suggesting that the evolutionary and taxonomical split between Felis silvestris and Felis octocatus gradually occurred somewhere off the coast of the South China Sea, when a constitutionally robust ancestor of octocatus ventured seaward, most likely as a result of the scarcity of rodent prey."

Yes, this is a cute mock-up of a fake animal.  But I can still rag on it, right?  To wit:
  • Carbon dating can only go back to about 60,000 years, not 6 million.  We can't actually directly date fossils that old; we have to use the context in which they were found (e.g., rock) and we have to use other elements, like uranium, potassium, and argon.
  • Felis silvestris showed up 2 million years ago, having come from the earlier Felis lunensis (around 2.5 million years ago), so it's impossible for Felis octocatus to have diverged from F. silvestris 6 million years ago. 
  • Octopuses have no bones.
  • So, assuming the majority of the skeleton in question would be similar to a cat--domesticated or ancient--it appears that
    • Each of the five arms (yes, the Octocat is a Pentacat) is composed primarily of what look like caudal vertebrae.
    • The rudimentary body is similar to the morphology of large cervical vertebrae, I guess.
    • The nasal opening is far too small for that of a cat.
    • Unless the Octocat is part primate, as it has large, forward-facing eyes and bony orbits more similar to lemurs' and monkeys' than to cats', the eyes are wrong.
    • I'm unaware of any mammal that has bony protrusions for the ears rather than, you know, ear-holes.
I have no artistic talent, though, so can't make a mock-up of what I think the Octocat should look like.  Anyone want to take a shot?

And GitHub... pretty please, could you change the sign so that the C14 information is corrected? A simple substitution of "uranium" or "potassium" for "carbon" should do.  It makes me twitchy.

Previous Installments of Who needs an osteologist?

Archaeology Briefs


Scientists have reconstructed the genome of a man who lived 45,000 years ago, by far the oldest genetic record ever obtained from modern humans. The research, published on Wednesday in the journal Nature, provided new clues to the expansion of modern humans from Africa about 60,000 years ago, when they moved into Europe and Asia. And the genome, extracted from a fossil thighbone found in Siberia, added strong support to a provocative hypothesis: Early humans interbred with Neanderthals.

The discoveries were made by a team of scientists led by Svante Paabo, a geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. Over the past three decades, Dr. Paabo and his colleagues have developed tools for plucking out fragments of DNA from fossils and reading their sequences. Early on, the scientists were able only to retrieve tiny snippets of ancient genes. But gradually, they have invented better methods for joining the overlapping fragments together, assembling larger pieces of ancient genomes that have helped shed light on the evolution of humans and their relatives.

In December, they published the entirety of a Neanderthal genome extracted from a single toe bone. Comparing Neanderthal to human genomes, Dr. Paabo and his colleagues found that we share a common ancestor, which they estimated lived about 600,000 years ago. Recently, Dr. Paabo and his colleagues got an opportunity to test their new methods on an exceptional human bone.

In 2008, a fossil collector named Nikolai V. Peristov was traveling along the Irtysh River in Siberia, searching for mammoth tusks in the muddy banks. Near a settlement called Ust'-Ishim, he noticed a thighbone in the water. Mr. Peristov fished it out and brought it to scientists at the Russian Academy of Sciences. The Russian researchers identified the bone as a modern human, not a Neanderthal. To determine its age, they sent samples to the University of Oxford. Scientists there measured the breakdown of radioactive carbon and determined the bone was about 45,000 years old — making it the oldest modern human fossil ever found outside of Africa and the Near East. In 2012, Dr. Paabo and his colleagues took samples from the bone to search for DNA. To their surprise, it held a number of genetic fragments.
“This is an amazing and shocking and unique sample,” said David Reich, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School and co-author of the new study.

The researchers used the DNA fragments to create a high-resolution copy of the man’s complete genome. A Y chromosome revealed that the thighbone belonged to a man. The scientists then compared the genome of the so-called Ust'-Ishim man to those of ancient and living people. They found that his DNA was more like that of non-Africans than that of Africans. But the Ust'-Ishim man was no more closely related to ancient Europeans than he was to East Asians. He was part of an earlier lineage, the scientists concluded — a group that eventually gave rise to all non-African humans.

Homo sapiens, our own species, appeared in Africa around 200,000 years ago. Previous studies, both on genes and on fossils, have suggested that they then expanded through the Near East to the rest of the Old World. The Ust'-Ishim man’s genome suggests he belonged to a group of people who lived after the African exodus, but before the split between Europeans and Asians.

Dr. Paabo and his colleagues also found that the Ust'-Ishim man had pieces of Neanderthal DNA in his genome, just as living non-Africans do. But his Neanderthal DNA had some important differences. Fossils indicate that Neanderthals spread across Europe and Asia before becoming extinct an estimated 40,000 years ago. Today, the Neanderthal DNA in each living non-African human is broken up into short segments sprinkled throughout the genome. Dr. Paabo and his colleagues have hypothesized that this arrangement is a result of how cells divide. During the development of eggs and sperm, each pair of chromosomes swaps pieces of their DNA. Over the generations, long stretches of DNA get broken into smaller ones, like a deck of cards repeatedly shuffled.

Over thousands of generations, the Neanderthal DNA became more fragmented. Dr. Paabo and his colleagues predicted, however, that Neanderthal DNA in the Ust'-Ishim man’s genome would form longer stretches.And that’s exactly what they found. “It was very satisfying to see that,” Dr. Paabo said.

By comparing the Ust'-Ishim man’s long stretches of Neanderthal DNA with shorter stretches in living humans, Dr. Paabo and his colleagues estimated the rate at which they had fragmented. They used that information to determine how long ago Neanderthals and humans interbred. Previous studies, based only on living humans, had yielded an estimate of 37,000 to 86,000 years. Dr. Paabo and his colleagues have now narrowed down that estimate drastically: Humans and Neanderthals interbred 50,000 to 60,000 years ago, according to the new data.

The findings raised questions about research suggesting that humans in India and the Near East dated back as far as 100,000 years ago. Some scientists believe that humans expanded out of Africa in a series of waves. But Christopher Stringer, a paleoanthropologist at the Natural History Museum, said that the new study offered compelling evidence that living non-Africans descended from a group of people who moved out of Africa about 60,000 years ago. Any humans that expanded out of Africa before then probably died out, Mr. Stringer said.

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Acropolis Museum to put the daily lives of the ancients on display

Until now, visitors to the Acropolis Museum in Athens could only peer through the glass floors of...

ArcheoNet BE

Nieuw UNESCO-werelderfgoed dankzij Belgische technologie

Op de laatste UNESCO-top werden de tropische regenwouden rond de uitgestrekte Maya-site van Calakmul (Mexico) erkend als natuurlijk werelderfgoed. Hiermee treedt Calakmul toe tot het selecte kransje van sites die zich voortaan ‘gemengd cultureel en natuurlijk werelderfgoed’ mogen noemen. Deze nieuwe erkenning dankt het aan het gebruik van een geavanceerd geografisch informatiesysteem voor erfgoed, made in Belgium. De technologie werd ook ingezet op de Zijderoute (Centraal-Azië).

Beheerders van grote erfgoedsites kampen vaak met dezelfde uitdagingen: hoe beheer je efficiënt de enorme berg aan informatie over de site? Hoe documenteer je de evolutie van de site doorheen de tijd? Welke interventies zijn nodig om het behoud van de site te verzekeren? Om hierop een antwoord te bieden, sloot het federale wetenschapsbeleid (BELSPO) een overeenkomst voor samenwerking met het UNESCO-Werelderfgoedcentrum. Deze overeenkomst voorzag in de realisatie van een reeks onderzoeks- en ontwikkelingsprojecten die een beter informatiebeheer beogen van UNESCO-erfgoed.

Een Belgisch consortium onder leiding van GIM, een Leuvens bedrijf gespecialiseerd in GIS-software en diensten, boog zich over de vraag naar een beter informatiebeheer van de Calakmul-site in Mexico. Samen met de universiteiten van Leuven, Gent en Luik ontwikkelde GIM een instrument waarmee de beheerders van Calakmul alle beschikbare informatie over de site kunnen verzamelen, beheren en verspreiden. Het geografische informatiesysteem maakt gebruik van technologie zoals satellietbeelden en 3D-modellen om de uitgestrekte erfgoedsite in kaart te brengen. Uniek is de mogelijkheid om de tijdsdimensie te integreren in de ruimtelijke analyses. Dit geeft beheerders inzicht in de ecologische en archeologische evoluties doorheen de tijd. Omwille van deze extra dimensie kreeg het systeem de naam ‘Calakmul 4D GIS’ mee.

Gelijkaardige technologie werd ingezet voor de nominatie van een andere erfgoedsite, met name die van de Chang’an-Tianshan Corridor, een 5000 km tellend traject van de Zijderoute. Omwille van zijn uitgestrektheid (33 sites verdeeld over 3 Centraal-Aziatische landen) was er ook hier behoefte aan een slim geografisch informatiesysteem voor planning, documentatie en informatiebeheer. Het Raymond Lemaire International Centre for Conservation (RLICC) van de KU Leuven bouwde samen met GIM, de Universiteit van Gent en RouteYou een systeem dat de basis legde voor de erkenning van deze transnationale site tot UNESCO-werelderfgoed in juni 2014.

Lee meer: Calakmul 4D GIS – Technologie voor het behoud van het Werelderfgoed (pdf – Science Connection 30)

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Cuno in Praise of "Encyclopaedic Museums" (Again)

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

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

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

English Heritage adds hundreds of sites to 'at risk register'

More than 660 sites have been added to English Heritage's "at risk" register.[...] There are a total of 5,752 English Heritage sites deemed at risk, a third of which have been on the register since it began in 1999. The register covers sites that are in danger of being lost through neglect, decay or inappropriate development.[...] Sites deemed at risk and in need of rescue include listed buildings, places of worship, industrial sites, monuments, archaeology and conservation areas, parks, wrecks and battlefields. 
I do not think we need even bother wonder if a single one of these sites in Bonkers Britain is deemed to be at risk from the erosive activities of artefact collectors, they are, after all, "partners". Eh?  The Staffordshire Hoard findspot and the surrounding archaeology is not on the list.

Source: BBC, 'English Heritage adds hundreds of sites to 'at risk register'..., 22 October 2014

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Baekje Gilt Bronze Shoes Found in Naju

A perfectly preserved pair of gilt bronze shoes has been found in an ancient grave from the Baekje...

Kristina Killgrove (Powered by Osteons)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Update (10/23/14) - I was asked to comment on this study for a news article (forthcoming, I hope), and that led me to this 2008 article in Archaeology Magazine (vol. 61, issue 6) - The Gladiator Diet.  It seems to be based on both a 2007 AAPA abstract (PDF here, p. 139) and some then-new isotope results. I couldn't find anything in between the 2008 news piece and the 2014 publication. The time-delay to publication is curious but not abnormal, especially if the authors had to run additional tests.


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

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

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

Zenobia: Empress of the East (Judith Weingarten)

The Women of Mycenaean Pylos and Knossos (Part II)

The Essence of Woman

(continuing Zenobia's review of Barbara Olsen's Women in Mycenaean Greece.  Part I click here)

The Linear B tablets found in the palaces at Pylos on the Greek mainland and Knossos on Crete are the oldest documents ever written in Greek  They are without exception administrative records (inventories, accounts, and lists of names and personnel).  While they record information on some 5,000 men, they also document the palaces' interest in more than 2,000 women.  In fact, these tablets are one of the largest sets of evidence for real women's lives in any period of Greek antiquity. 

Unfortunately for us, the palaces were not interested in reporting on their private lives (loves, friendships, family).  Rather, women are only documented because they are, in some way, connected with the economic institutions of the palace -- whether involved in commodity production, property holdings, land tenure, or cult practice.  The result is that, at Pylos and Knossos, scribes recorded women's economic activities in public or civic -- rather than domestic -- contexts.  Women (like men) are listed either as individuals with names or titles, or as undifferentiated members of collective groups.

Who are these 2,000 women?  How do they compare in status and power to the men who are recorded in the Linear B tablets?  Prof. Barbara Olsen (Vassar College) has brought together for the first time all of the references to women in the Linear B tablets from the two best-documented Mycenaean sites (1400-1200 BCE).  As far as written sources are concerned, it is the low-down on everything there is to know -- or possibly ever will be known -- about Myceanean women.

The Belated Death of Matriarchy

The numbers alone (5000:2000) should be the first red alert: the tablets reflect societies where men's production and holdings were more important than those of women.  Of course, it might also be possible for women to hold the same types of commodities and property as men -- but at approximately 30% of the amount, reflecting their proportion in the tablets.  Alas, as Prof. Olsen irrefutably demonstrates, this is not at all the case. The documents reflect societies where men's production and holdings were much more significant to the palaces than those of women.

The palaces of the Late Bronze Age Aegean were not egalitarian in matters of gender.  If any of my readers still believe that there was a feminist tilt at that time, get over it now.  This book is ruthless in its incidental demolition of any such idea.  Women's holdings differed from men's not just in scale but also in substance.  As a sex, women held significantly less property and received fewer commodities (whether slaves or livestock, foodstuffs, textiles, leather goods, bronze, or precious objects such as gold vases and ivory) than men.
The archives from both palaces reveal strictly gendered societies where an individual's sex opens or limits access to various occupations and to specific commodities or resources and ultimately governs his or her access to civic office, control over property, and public functions.  In short gender is constructed at both Bronze Age palaces in a way so that men and women largely experience their societies in very distinct ways.
Women at both sites had more limited access to commodities, were excluded from the highest political offices, and were socially and economically subordinate to men.  In short, the palaces were patriarchal in their social, economic, and political organizations.  The only ray of light is in the religious sphere, but we'll get to that in a moment.

First the gloom. 

Separate and Unequal 

On the left is The Mycenaean Woman as expressed by a scribe writing in Linear B.*

Lazy bureaucrat that he was, he used a shorthand picture (ideogram) instead of writing out the whole word: just a semi-circle for her head, a skirt, and dot breasts was quite enough to make it clear that he meant 'Woman'.  

What could be simpler?

Except that no Mycenaean scribe ever drew such a neat, clean ideogram.  What Mycenaean scribes actually sketched was much sloppier; like this:

A rag, a bone, and a hank of hair

Who were these carelessly-drawn women?  They could not have been further from the high-priestess Eritha (Part I) in rank, status, and -- especially -- autonomy.  Never personally named or differentiated in any way as individuals, they belong to single-sex female work groups that were assigned by palace officials to menial, labour-intensive work.  They are the anonymous women who, day after day, would card wool, spin thread, weave, sew, and decorate cloths.  These are not Penelopes but some of Penelope's nameless maids.  They are flour-grinders (a perpetual, unhealthy task), sweepers who clean the palace, water-carriers and bath attendants, launderers, or simply personal servants.  For which work, the women (along with their minor children) received standard subsistence rations of wheat and figs.  And that's it.

In a word, they are slaves.

The Slave Women of Pylos
At Pylos, 7 women wool-carders, 4 girls, 4 boys: wheat 240.4 litres, figs 230.4 litres; 1 supervisor(?)
Such servile low-status women make up by far the largest group of women documented in the Linear B tablets at Pylos (more than 750 out of nearly 900 women).  There is no evidence for extra-palatial craftswomen who might have conducted economic activities in their own right.  In contrast to Pylian men, not a single free, economically independent women is listed in any craft or trade.  Female workers always appear without any property of their own, labouring in collective work groups in return for bare subsistence rations.

Except for just one woman -- Kessandra (whose name hints at a future Cassandra, "who speaks solemnly to the men"**).  Kessandra receives more than 25 times the amounts of wheat and figs that a workgroup woman would get as rations.  This is the largest, and perhaps only, real property attributed to a Pylian woman who is not expressly in cult service.  Clearly, Kessandra (who appears on five tablets) is a very different mess of pottage compared to the menial laborers who are no more than ideograms to us.  The best explanation is that she is one of the female supervisors whose job may have been to dole out rations to the female workgroups.  Whatever her exact role or status (slave, free, or freed), she is the only such woman in the Pylos archive, an exception that proves the rule.

The Seven Merry Wives of Pylos

Only a handful of named women appear on the tablets without any religious titles.  Six women listed on a single tablet (PY Vn 34+) are all pendants to their husbands: the man's name comes first, followed by the woman's name and the number one. Each couple apparently receives one portion or piece of whatever is being distributed.  Three of the men are known from other sources where we are able to identify them as prominent elite Pylian officials.
[Their] wives would appear to occupy a high level of prestige -- presumably they were aristocrats -- but their high social status does not translate to a similarly high level of economic status.  Put simply, these women have no major property holdings allocated to them as distinct individuals ... and consequently no real economic authority or autonomy.
One couple, however, Metianor and his wife Wordieria, pop up again as recipients of leather goods from the palace storerooms: he gets 1 prepared hide and 3 red-leather hides; she gets 10 pigskins, 2 deerskins, 1 ox-hide, and two (pairs?) of sandals with matching ox-hide laces.  A second woman  -- perhaps a merry widow since no man's name is appended -- gets pigskins, deerskins and something with fringes(?).  Those skins and sandals are the only non-edible goods, as far as we know, allocated to any woman outside of the religious sphere.  With the best will in the world, we cannot magnify a pair of sandals into female economic power.

Let there be light

Priestess, Keybearer, Servant of the god, Servant of the Priestess, or Servant of the Keybearer

The five titles of female cult officials specifically identity 120 Pylian women as religious functionaries.  These are the only women both named and titled in all of the Pylos texts.  And they differ in nearly every way from their lay sisters.
Religious officialdom not only lends to Pylian women a visibility not accorded to their secular peers but also provides for functionary women an exceptional status where many of the usual restrictions on women's access to resources and economic power are lifted.
First and foremost, these are the only women who exercise control over land at Pylos even if they did not achieve full parity with men.  While all five categories of cult-affiliated women are known to have held land-leases, none is attested as land-owner.  Nonetheless, they shared the ability to redistribute sanctuary resources and land.  The priestess Eritha was at the very top of the pile, able to challenge her community council in a legal dispute over land and to represent herself to make her case.  Other priestesses and keybearers had access to bronze (the key raw material of the time) and received textiles and other goods intended either for use in the cult or for their personal use.  They supervised low- and mid-ranked personnel, owned slaves, both male and female -- one priestess is granted 14 female slaves "on account of the sacred gold" -- and appear on tablets (PY An 1281, Fn 50, Jn 829) alongside male officials listed in ways analogous to the men -- among the very rare cases when both men and women are recorded on the same tablet.

So at Pylos, as eight centuries later in Classical Athens, religion lent certain women an exceptional status in that economic restriction and subordination were overruled for them by the requirements of cult.  Priestly women had, at least to some extent, economic autonomy.  But, of course, it was also the only place where women had any economic power in their own right. As Prof. Olsen puts it, "religion functioned as an economic wildcard in terms of Pylian gender roles."

So much for Pylos! You wouldn't really expect more from those Mycenaean-Greeks; would you? But what about Knossos in the Mycenaean period (after 1450 BCE)?  What was the status, what were the rights of the post-Minoan women of the Knossian state? Were there any real or significant differences between the gender biases of Pylos and that of Mycenaean Knossos where the conquerors governed a mixed Mycenaean and Minoan population? 

The next post follows Barbara Olsen to Crete as she examines the "wildcards" that were played out in the daily lives of women at Knossos under Mycenaean rule. 

Women in Mycenaean Greece

The Linear B Tablets from Pylos and Knossos

By Barbara A. Olsen

Routledge – 2014 – 380 pages

Hardback: $140.00
ISBN: 978-0-415-72515-6

*The comparable ideogram for a man (left) was a simple forked stick, with some slight stress on the shoulder line, and a barest sketch of the head.
Collected ideograms of MUL and VIR from J. Weilhartner, "Gender Dimorphism in the Linear A and Linear B Tablets", in Kosmos, Aegaeum 33 (2012) 287-296, Fig. LXVI 5, Fig. 9:

** Though, of course, it may just be built on the masculine name Kessandros, since it is "not conceivable" that any Mycenaean woman would speak so to men: J.L. GARCÍA RAMÓN, 'Mycenaean Onomastics', in "A Companion to Linear B Vol. 2 (Y. Duhoux - A. Morpurgo Davis, eds) Louvain, 2011, 225, 226.


Upper left: Fresco fragment, the 'White Goddess' from the NW slope, Pylos; end 14th C BCE.  Photo credit:

Second left: Fresco fragment, 'La Parisienne' from the Campstool Fresco, Knossos; 14th C BCE. Photo credit:

Centre: Fresco fragment, "Women in a loggia" from ramp house deposit, Mycenae.  Photo credit: 

Below: Fresco fragment, Woman with a decorated ivory case (pyxis): reconstruction of figure from Women's frieze Tiryns.  Photo credit:Wikimedia Commons

ArcheoNet BE

Archeologie voor dummies in Grobbendonk

Op vrijdag 24 oktober organiseert erfgoedcel Kempens Karakter weer de jaarlijkse ‘Nacht van het Kempens Erfgoed’. Op tal van plaatsen is het erfgoed van de regio weer op een speciale manier te ontdekken. Zo wordt de kerk van Grobbendonk bijvoorbeeld omgetoverd tot een archeologische site. Op het programma staan onder meer een presentatie ‘Een eeuw archeologie in Grobbendonk’ en een tentoonstelling ‘Archeologie voor dummies’. Meer informatie en het volledige programmaboekje van de ‘Nacht van het Kempens Erfgoed’ vind je op

Ancient Peoples

Pair Statue of Neferkhawet and Rennefer 18th Dynasty, New...

Pair Statue of Neferkhawet and Rennefer

18th Dynasty, New Kingdom

c.1479-1450 BC

(Source: The Metropolitan Museum)

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Another Egyptian coffin has turned up in a private house in Essex

Another Egyptian coffin has turned up in a private house in Essex. The news reports concentrate more on how much it is worth than any other issue, or the presence of any documentation of its previous collecting history:
An ancient Egyptian sarcophagus worth at least £6,000 has been discovered - propped up in an Essex house. The 3,000-year-old coffin was found by auctioneer Mark Stacey as he inspected the Colchester property as part of a house clearance. It is thought the 6ft wooden casket once housed the body of a noblewoman and will be auctioned on 24 November. [...] It is thought to have been in the owner's family for about 60 years and may have been acquired after a museum closed down. [... ] Last month, a 3,000-year-old sarcophagus lid found in a house in Bradwell-on-Sea sold at auction in Cambridgeshire for £12,000, significantly more than its guide price of £3,000.

Oliver Wheaton, 'Ancient Egyptian sarcophagus discovered in Essex living room', Metro Thursday 23 Oct 2014.

Claire Carter, '3,000-year-old Ancient Egyptian sarcophagus that once held a mummy discovered in living room of Essex pensioner', Mail , 22 October 2014

BBC, 'Egyptian sarcophagus found in Essex house' 2

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

The Life of Brian and the Apocalyptic Jesus

Click here to view the embedded video.

Bart Ehrman shared the above video of a talk that he gave about Jesus and Brian at the recent Life of Brian conference.

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Cultural Property Obfuscation from "Pearlstein"

Somebody posing as Bill Pearlstein "graciously consented to [Peter Tompa] publishing his comment" on the Cultural Property Obfuscator lobbyist-sniping blog:. The commentator suggests that:
trying to retrofit a requirement for documented provenance onto the reality of a market where nothing was ever documented is disingenuous, and creates the Orphan Problem without solving the looting problem.
Hmm, where does the UNESCO 1970 Convention talk about solving the looting problem? Rather I think its the US lawyer's own argument that is not a little disingenuous. Where does the Convention or the US CCPIA talk of documenting "provenance"? It does not. Pearlstein blunders deeper:
let's face it—the 1970 Rule does not reflect a fair reading of UNESCO. Moreover, It's silly to pretend that every unprovenanced piece may have been recently looted. Some objects have come down through antiquity without being buried. The likelihood of privately owned Orphans that were never buried and never looted is simply outside the conceptual box of the 1970 Rule. 
Probably because (watch the lips), the UNESCO 1970 Convention is not designed to address the looting problem. Look at its title, look at its text (all the articles). To say otherwise is a US-specific reading of its text, inserting ideas that are not there in the original - no matter how Pearlstein may want to argue that it has been "badly translated". Inasmuch as the 1970 Convention does not mention the notion of provenanced versus unprovenanced artefacts then if there is anybody being "silly" about what it allegedly says about "unprovenanced piece", it is the North American polemicist. As for "some objects have come down through antiquity without being buried" they mostly have names like "the Pantheon" and "the Colosseum". As for the phrase "the likelihood of privately owned [objects] that were never buried and never looted is simply outside the conceptual box of the 1970 Rule", what on earth is he on about? Unless they were kept in antiquity in Maryland and passed down among the Nephrites to arrive in a modern collector's hands today, they'll still need an export licence to get to the US (UNESCO 1970, art 6, art 7).  I suggest also that Pearlstein re-reads Article 1 of the 1970 UNESCO Convention.

Finally that twee label "orphans" dealers use to denote artefacts they are trading which have somehow "lost" all trace of where they came from.  Any dealer buying any goods for resale should know where they come from. That they are unwilling to pass that information on to the buyer is justified by them in a variety of ways, the rest of us may well suspect that the real reason for this is the unspoken one. Items where the pedigree is deliberately discarded are not being "orphaned' of their collecting history, they are being abandoned.

UPDATE 23.10.2014
This is not, Mr Tompa,  about "control", this is about common decency and responsibility qualities many of my readers will observe are notably lacking in certain circles.  It is not  a sign of abnormal "cleverness"  to read the text of the Convention and understand what it does and does not say, though many US collectors demonstrate themselves incapable of that.

AIA Fieldnotes


Event Type (you may select more than one): 
Start Date: 
Sunday, March 22, 2015 - 3:00pm

Oliver Lecture Read more »

AIA Society: 


Mark Lawall
Call for Papers: 

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Genomic data support early contact between Easter Island and Americas

People may have been making their way from Easter Island to the Americas well before the Dutch...

Archaeology Briefs


Over a swath of the Chihuahuan Desert stretching from Carlsbad to Las Cruces (New Mexico), at least 24 rock art panels have been found bearing the same distinctive pictographs: repeated series of triangles painted in combinations of red, yellow, and black.

A rock art panel found at Dripping Springs, New Mexico depicts abstract triangle motifs. At this panel and others like it, potent wild tobacco was found growing beneath the image. And at each of these sites, archaeologists have noticed similarities not just on the rock, but in the ground. Hallucinogenic plants were found growing beneath the triangle designs, including a particularly potent species of wild tobacco and the potentially deadly psychedelic known as datura.

Researchers believe that the plants may be a kind of living artifact, left there nearly a thousand years ago by shamans who smoked the leaves of the plants in preparation for their painting. “I think almost certainly that they’re trancing on this stuff,” said Dr. Lawrence Loendorf, president of the archaeological firm Sacred Sites Research, of the ancient artisans.

The region that Loendorf and his colleagues have been exploring was once home to the Jornada Mogollon, a culture of foraging farmers similar to the early Ancestral Puebloans, who occupied the territory from about the 5th to the 15th centuries. Among the marks the Jornadans left on the land were sophisticated and colorful pictographs, ranging from recognizable plant, animal, and human forms to more abstract patterns. They also crafted painted pottery in signature styles of red, brown, and black, known today as El Paso phase ceramics, which vary by era and design.

Over the past three years, Loendorf and his colleagues have been studying rock art throughout the Jornadans’ range — first at Fort Bliss, then on Bureau of Land Management holdings around Carlsbad, and finally on property owned by New Mexico State University near the town of Dona Ana. The triangle motifs first showed up at about 20 sites that the team surveyed at Fort Bliss, Loendorf said. But it was during their second survey — of the lands around Carlsbad — that they noticed tobacco and datura growing under similar pictographs found there. And when their work took them farther west, to record pictographs near Dona Ana in the Rio Grande valley, the team discovered the same pattern yet again, both in the rock art itself and in the plant life around it.

All of the sites that featured the triangle motifs also turned up sherds of Jornadan pottery, he noted, found in deposits that have been radiocarbon dated to around 1000 CE. “Every one of the sites where we find the tobacco, we also find El Paso ceramics, or we find other kinds of pots … that date generally in that same range,” he said.
“Thus far I’ve not found a site with painted triangle motifs that doesn’t have tobacco growing at it. Thus far, I’ve not found one.”


A University of Colorado Denver researcher has been appointed to an international team of advisers dedicated to creating a museum complex in Tanzania showcasing perhaps the most important collection of hominin footprints in the world today. “This project is close to my heart,” said Associate Professor of Anthropology Charles Musiba (left), PhD. “I have always thought the site should be accessible to everyone, not just scientists.”

The roughly 70 footprints are 3.6 million years old. They were discovered in a layer of sediment in 1976 by anthropologist Mary Leakey in the Laetoli area of Tanzania. For years, scientists thought they were made by two adults and a child but now believe four individuals created them. The footprints are considered the earliest example of bipedalism among hominins.

In many ways the museum is the brainchild of Musiba, a Tanzanian-born anthropologist who has been studying the footprints since 1996 and has long championed protecting them while making the collection available to the public. Currently, the footprints are preserved by keeping them buried. “Right now the footprints are covered up and the only way to study them is to re-excavate them, which could be damaging,” he said. “We would like to excavate half of the site and build the museum over it. We can then control the ambient air, the moisture and pH levels inside to protect the prints.” The $35 million project will develop the Laetoli World Heritage Site into a state-of-the-art complex that will include a museum, research facility with labs and accommodation for 35 scientists and an education center that can host 50 students and six teachers.

The new facility is expected to be completed in about five years and will have a laboratory dedicated specifically for students and researchers from CU Denver, the premier public research university in Denver. As director of CU Denver’s Tanzania Field School, Musiba takes groups of students each year to get hands-on experience working at Laetoli and the famed Olduvai Gorge where some of the earliest remains of our ancient ancestors have been found. Last summer, he and his students discovered footprints of lions, rhinos and antelopes near those of the early hominins. They were made in about the same time period.

“The museum will feature exhibits of human origins, wildlife and geology while providing information about the current inhabitants of the region such as the Masai people,” Musiba said. “We would like to offer summer research opportunities to scientists from all over the world.” The museum site is near some of Africa’s premier tourist areas including the Ngorongoro Crater, Mount Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti. “When you go inside this museum,” Musiba said, “you will go back in time 3.6 million years and reflect on the fact that your earliest ancestors walked here.”

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Bronze Age pottery unearthed

Archaeologists have discovered Bronze Age pottery during a dig at a site on the Isle of Lewis. More...

AMIR: Access to Mideast and Islamic Resources

Qatar Digital Library

Qatar Digital Library

What is the Qatar Digital Library?

The Qatar Digital Library (QDL) is making a vast archive featuring the cultural and historical heritage of the Gulf and wider region freely available online for the first time. It includes archives, maps, manuscripts, sound recordings, photographs and much more, complete with contextualised explanatory notes and links, in both English and Arabic.

How did the QDL come about?

The QDL has been developed as part of a 10-year Memorandum of Understanding on Partnerships between the Qatar Foundation, the Qatar National Library and The British Library. The website was developed by the Partnership in collaboration with Cogapp. The agreement of work for the first phase of the Partnership began in 2012, with the digitisation of a wide range of content from the British Library’s collections. Find out more about the Partnership.

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

Dog Religion, Cat Religion


I laughed when I saw this meme, but I immediately also began to wonder whether it might not also lead to serious reflection. Are there religions which focus primarily outward, and others which focus primarily on the self? If so, would “dog religion” and “cat religion” be convenient shorthand for the distinction?


Archaeological News on Tumblr

Middle Ages tagging found in Oslo

Archaeologists in the Scandinavian capital have recently come across an indecent side of Norwegian...

Peter Tompa (Cultural Property Observer)

Feds Pay SLAM $425,000 in Legal Fees for Defense of Forfeiture Action

The US Government has paid the Saint Louis Art Museum's lawyers $425,000 in legal fees after the government lost its effort to seek the forfeiture of the Ka Nefer Nefer Mummy Mask.

Hopefully, the DOJ will now think twice before pressing another dubious, stale claim on behalf of a military dictatorship.   And let's also hope that this award stiffens the resolve of museum directors everywhere to fight questionable, stale claims to important pieces in their collections.

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

TOCS-IN: Tables of Contents of Journals of Interest to Classicists

TOCS-IN: Tables of Contents of Journals of Interest to Classicists
TOCS-IN provides the tables of contents of a selection of Classics, Near Eastern Studies, and Religion journals, both in text format and through a Web search program. Where possible, links are given with articles of which the full text or an abstract is available online (about 15%).
The project began to archive current tables of contents in 1992, and now contains nearly 200 journals, and over 75,000 articles, in a database at Toronto. In addition, the Louvain mirror site archives much additional material for some of the journals before 1992. Searches of all data can be made at both sites. 

Some collections of articles (e.g., Festschriften) are also now included. See the list of collections.

SEARCH (Toronto)
RECHERCHE (à Louvain)

Peter Tompa (Cultural Property Observer)

Archaeo-blogger Confirms that It's Not About Conservation, It's About Control

Archaeo-blogger Paul Barford, who purports to speak for the archaeological community on portable antiquities issues, has responded to noted cultural property lawyer Bill Pearlstein's views about Cuno's latest article condemning repatriation.

However, in attempting in his own way to "be clever," Barford has only unwittingly confirmed what CPO has "observed" for quite some time:  All the talk at CPAC meetings about supposedly "preserving context" by honoring the UNESCO Convention in applying the broadest restrictions possible really is far more about ensuring "control" than "conservation."

Thank you, Paul Barford.

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Dovedale treasure hoard of Iron Age coins to go on display in Buxton

A HOARD of Late Iron Age coins found at a local beauty spot are on display in a new exhibition...

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

Wanted: an epigraphist. Or: Pancieri on “et nos servasti eternali sanguine fuso”

One of the most famous discoveries in Mithraic studies is the text painted on the wall of the Mithraeum of Santa Prisca in Rome which reads “et nos servasti eternali sanguine fuso” – “and you have saved us through the shedding of the eternal blood.”  This has been widely compared to Christian ideas, and, outside the scholarly world, almost insanely so.

Yesterday a kind correspondent sent me portions of an article in Italian by Pancieri in which he queries whether the text actually says this.  The paintings are badly damaged, after all, and conjecture plays a part in the text above.

I thought that it would be useful to translate what he has to say into English, if only to make his cautious remarks rather better known.  I will give the Italian as well, in case I misunderstand it at any point: corrections are welcome!

With regard to the mysteries of Mithras, I note – as has been noted above concerning the nature of its creator, and his saving and merciful character – that, although it is considered reliable in most respects, whatever may be the interpretation to be given of his work of salvation [c.f., leaving aside the cult images, the verse from the Mithraeum of S. Prisca, "et nos servasti eternali sanguine fuso", according to the reading of the first editor (A. Ferrua, in Bull.Com., LXVIII, 1940, p.85; in Ann.épìgr., 1946, 84), confirmed and corrected CIMRM, I, 485, and by Vermaseren (Excavations, l.c., pp.217-221)**], it is almost never reflected in the dedications [CIMRM, I, 213 (salutaris?), 691 cfr. 891 (propitius), 900b (deo bono, dubious), II, 2265 (epekoos), 2276 (deo bono invicto?)].[1]

One could wish Dr Pancieri had not compressed his thought quite so much!  The point being made is that we don’t know what “saving” means in the cult of Mithras, and it features hardly at all in the inscriptions.  The last point suggests that it is not exactly an important element in the cult.

The footnote, however, is the bit that interests us.  It is printed as one paragraph, but I will split it, for ease of reading:

** The exceptional importance of this verse, for the issue addressed in this seminar, led me to thoroughly review it, after the recent cleaning of the frescoes in the mithraeum of S. Prisca, carried out ​​by the Soprintendenza Archeologica di Roma (restorer Sig.Elio Paparatti). During the restoration, the  Soprintendenza has taken some excellent new photographs, from which I took the detail which I have reproduced (fig. 10).

Fig. 10.  1978 photo

Fig. 10. 1978 photo

Judging from a comparison of these with the photos published by Vermaseren (Excavations, l.c., plate LXVIII, 1-3), and comparing those with even earlier ones, dating from the time of the original discovery and publication (fig. 11), we find that, at this point, against the inevitable damage of time may be contrasted some gains due to the  major cleaning of the wall.

Fig.11 How the wall appeared in the 1930's.

Fig.11 How the wall appeared in the 1930’s.

This does not mean that our verse makes easy reading even now, and so, for this reason, the first publishers are to be commended for their ability, starting from quite miserable fragments, to make available to scholars a text of the utmost importance.

The main danger that we now need to avoid (which, it seems to me, that many have been led into, because of the current habit of transcribing the text without any critical marks) is of believing that the reconstruction of this verse is certain at every point; or, at least, is of the same degree of reliability for each part (see, for example, more specifically among those who have dealt with this text: H.D. Betz, in Nov. Test., X, 1968, p. 77 ff.; I.M. Hackethal, in Zeitschr. Papyr. Epigr., III ,1968, pp. 233-238; M.J. Vermaseren, in Meded. Nederl. Inst. Rome, XXXVII, 1975, p. 92 ff.; M. Simon, in Rev. d’hist. et de philos. relig., LVI, 1976, pp. 277-288).

In reality, as may be seen from all the photographs (not only the most recent), and also from the facsimile published by Vermaseren (fig. 12), the painted text from the start was in a gravely fragmentary state.  In a new facsimile (fig. 13), I have tried to reproduce as closely as possible what I think can be seen today.

Fig.12 Vermaseren's facsimile (1965)

Fig.12 Vermaseren’s facsimile (1965)

Fig.13 - fascimile, 1978

Fig.13 – fascimile, 1978

Without pretending to give a new reconstruction of the text, I will limit myself to indicating which elements are confirmed, and which are doubtful, as the new evidence seems to require.  Proceeding backwards:

1) Absolutely certain is the word FUSO, which is found in perfect form also in the short text painted on a jar in the same mithraeum (Excavations, l.c., p. 409 fig. 204, plate. XCIX, 1-3).

2) Almost certain, although not readable in full, is the word SANGUINE which precedes it, both because it fits very well both the spaces and the fragments of letters remaining, and because sanguine fuso, as previous editors have noted, is an expression used elsewhere and perfectly in place in this context.

3) Doubtful (and Ferrua also had some doubts) is the word ETERNALI.  After carefully analysing the perfectly straight line, slanting from left to right and top to bottom, before the N (which is clearly recognisable), it seems very difficult to recognise this as an R, even if connected to the following letter.  In every R present in the inscriptions of this layer (of paintings) it is possible to find a common feature, rising above the top edge of the writing.  So this line could belong rather to an A or an M or to two letters joined.  There are doubts also because the word is unique, and because the supposed L shows the remains of an upper crossing stroke, which seems a little too strong on the left side to be a mere flourish.  I see no sign of the I.  What in the photo looks like the remains of an S, near the head of the Leo which interrupts the writing, in fact does not exist on the plaster, which is damaged at this point.

4) Likewise the reading SERVASTI, with the RVA linked together, does not appear convincing when compared with what remains today (but see also Vermaseren’s facsimile).  And the E is not certain; it may be an F.  The following letter, which has been interpreted as an R, looks like an O in the photos; nothing can be seen on the wall now, where the plaster is missing (and, it would seem, was missing in the past).  Apart from this, I am unclear as to whether the signs that follow (which may well be part of a group VA) can be made to follow an S, since they seem to be the remains of a letter joined to an N.

5) Everything before that is no longer verifiable today, in the present state of conservation.  The miserable scraps of letters are not definitely identifiable, and do not clearly result in the text above, nor in the old photos.

It seems obvious, after what has been said, that this famous verse should be studied again by epigraphists, as well as by Mithraic specialists.  In the meantime, it would seem to be important that this reading of the text is not taken as secure, both to avoid building on shaky foundations, and because the text deserves to return to the centre of scholarly critical attention.[2]

I should add that I have Vermaseren’s description, and further photographs of the wall and inscription – some in colour! – here.

Pancieri’s points are interesting, but clearly there is more to be done.  One avenue of exploration would be to see whether the other texts at Santa Prisca would be amendable to similar criticism.  Do they actually appear on the wall now?  Did they once, but now only exist in the photos?  What is the rate of decay of the paintings at Santa Prisca?  Or is it the case that decay is not a  factor, and that Ferrua and Vermaseren were over-imaginative?  What could the text read?

As far as I know, nobody accepted Pancieri’s challenge.  Which is now itself, some forty years ago.

Is there an epigraphist in the house?

  1. [1] h) Altre caratteristiche del dio sono la misericordia e la pietà [per misericordiam tuam, quomodo... misertus es, miserearis, per tuam pietatem] per il cui tramite pare manifestarsi una sua benevola disposizione nei confronti del mondo. Meritevole di discussione mi sembra se la frase introdotta da quomodo (che dovrebbe avere valore causale piuttosto che correlativo [Thes. l. L., Vili, col. 1293 rr. 58 sgg.]) debba essere intesa come riferimento a uno specifico intervento misericordioso del dio, o serva soltanto a sostenere la richiesta individuale con l’argomentazione che della benevolenza che si chiede per sè il mondo intero beneficia. Per quanto concerne Mitra dei misteri, osservo che, così come si è notato per la sua qualità di creatore, anche il suo carattere salvifico e misericordioso, quantunque sia ritenuto certo per più riguardi, quale che sia l’interpretazione da dare alla sua opera di salvazione [cfr., senza tener conto delle immagini di culto, il versetto del mitreo di S. Prisca et nos servasti eternali sanguine fuso nella lettura del primo editore (A. Ferrua, in Bull. Com., LXVIII, 1940, p. 85, inde Ann. épìgr., 1946, 84) confermata, rettificando CIMRM, I, 485, dal Vermaseren (Excavations, cit., pp. 217-221)**] quasi mai appare riflesso nelle dediche [CIMRM, I, 213 (salutaris?), 691 cfr. 891 (propitius), 900b (deo bono, dubbia), II, 2265 (epekoos), 2276 (deo bono invicto?)].
  2. [2] ** L’importanza eccezionale di questo versetto per il tema affrontato in questo Seminario mi ha indotto ad un suo accurato riesame dopo la recente ripulitura degli affreschi operata dalla Soprintendenza Archeologica di Roma nel mitreo di S. Prisca (restauratore Sig. Elio Paparatti). In occasione del restauro, la Soprintendenza ha assunto anche nuove ottime fotografie, dalle quali ho tratto il particolare che riproduco (fig. 10). A giudicare dal confronto tra questo particolare e le foto pubblicate dal Vermaseren (Excavations, cit., tav, LXVIII, 1-3) e tra queste ed altra, ancora anteriore, risalente all’epoca della prima scoperta e pubblicazione (fig. 11), si riscontra che, in questo punto, ai danni inevitabili del tempo si contrappongono alcuni guadagni dovuti all’attuale maggior pulizia della parete. Ciò non significa che il nostro versetto presenti neanche adesso una lettura agevole e, per questo, i primi editori sono senz’altro da lodare per la capacità che hanno avuto, partendo da lacerti abbastanza miseri, di mettere a disposizione degli studiosi un testo di estrema importanza. Il pericolo principale che credo si deve evitare ora (mentre in esso mi pare siano stati indotti in molti dall’uso corrente di trascrivere il testo senza alcun segno diacritico) è quello di credere che la ricostruzione di questo versetto sia certa in ogni suo punto o, per lo meno, attinga allo stesso grado di attendibilità in ogni sua componente (si vedano, ad esempio, tra coloro che più specificamente si sono occupati di questo testo: H.D. Betz, in Nov. Test., X, 1968, p. 77 sg.; I.M. Hackethal, in Zeitschr. Papyr. Epigr., III ,1968, pp. 233-238; M.J. Vermaseren, in Meded. Nederl. Inst. Rome, XXXVII, 1975, p. 92 sg.; M. Simon, in Rev. d’hist. et de philos. relig., LVI, 1976, pp. 277-288). In realtà, come si vede bene da tutte le foto (non solo dalla più recente) ed anche dal facsimile pubblicato dal Vermaseren (fig. 12), il testo dipinto si è presentato fin dall’inizio in condizioni di grave frammentarietà. In un nuovo facsimile (fig. 13) ho cercato di riprodurre il più fedelmente possibile quello che mi sembra di vedere oggi. Senza pretendere di dare una nuova ricostruzione del testo, mi limito a mettere in evidenza in questa sede qualche conferma e qualche dubbio che il nuovo controllo sembra imporre. Procedendo a ritroso, risulta: 1) assolutamente certa la parola FUSO che trova del resto perfetto riscontro nel breve testo dipinto su un vasetto proveniente dallo stesso mitreo (Excavations, cit., p. 409 fig. 204, tav. XCIX, 1-3); 2) pressoché certa, anche se non leggibile per intero, la parola SANGUINE che precede, sia perché ad essa si adattano assai bene gli spazi ed i frammenti di lettera superstiti, sia perché sanguine fuso, come hanno ben visto i precedenti editori è espressione ricca di confronti e perfettamente a posto in un contesto come questo; 3) dubbia (e qualche dubbio lo ebbe anche il Ferrua) la parola ETERNALI. Dopo aver attentamente analizzato il tratto perfettamente rettilineo ed obliquo da sinistra a destra e dall’alto in basso che precede la N (ben riconoscibile), sembra infatti assai difficile riconoscervi parte di una R, sia pure in legatura con la lettera seguente; in nessuna R presente nelle iscrizioni di questo strato è possibile rintracciare un tratto analogo, per di più nascente dal margine superiore della scrittura; tale segno potrebbe appartenere piuttosto ad una A o ad una M o alle due lettere in nesso. Dubbi si potrebbero avere anche sull’unicità della parola e su altre lettere, come la presunta L i resti della cui traversa superiore potrebbero apparire un po’ troppo estesi a sinistra per un semplice segno di rifinitura; della I non si vede più nulla; quello che nella foto sembra un resto di S, vicino alla testa del Leo che interrompe la scritta, non esiste affatto sull’intonaco, che in questo punto è danneggiato; 4) similmente non appare convincente, se confrontato con quanto oggi rimane (ma si veda anche il facsimile del Vermaseren) la lettura SERVASTI con RVA in nesso; già la E non è del tutto sicura, potendosi trattare anche di una F; della lettera seguente, che è stata interpretata come R e nelle foto sembrerebbe una O, nulla si vede sulla parete che in questo punto manca (e sembrerebbe mancasse anche in passato) dell’intonaco; a parte ciò non mi è chiaro come ai segni che seguono (che potrebbero ben far parte di un gruppo VA) si possa far seguire una S, sembrando piuttosto i resti della lettera appartenere ad una N, anch’essa in nesso; 5) tutto quello che precedeva è oggi inverificabile non vedendosi più, nell’attuale stato di conservazione, che miseri brandelli di lettere non sicuramente identificabili e non risultando chiaramente il testo neppure nelle vecchie foto. Sembra evidente, dopo quanto si è detto, che questo famoso versetto dovrà essere nuovamente studiato tanto dagli epigrafisti, quanto dagli specialisti di cose mitriache. Per intanto, importantissimo sembrerebbe che la sua lettura non fosse data per scontata, sia per non fondare costruzioni su basi malsicure, sia perché questo testo merita di tornare al centro dell’attenzione critica degli studiosi.

Noel Tan (The Southeast Asian Archaeology Newsblog)

CFP: SEASREP 20th Anniversary Conference 2015

Readers may be interested in this conference, with some themes pertinent to archaeology.

Celebrating 20 Years of SEASREP and Southeast Asian Studies
University of Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
4-5 November 2015

SEASREP will commemorate its 20thanniversary with an international conference, Celebrating 20 Years of SEASREP and Southeast Asian Studies,at the University of Gadjah Mada in Yogyakarta, Indonesia on 4-5 November 2015. The conference is supported by the Toyota Foundation and the Japan Foundation Asia Center (Tokyo).

The conference aims to reflect upon the achievements of SEASREP over the past 20 yearsby encouraging SEASREP grantees, participants, partners, and scholars of Southeast Asian studies to share their research findings. The conference is also interested in new studies about the region. Aside from paper presentations, the conference will feature special opening and closing panels where speakers will discuss the state, progress and prospects of Southeast Asian studies in the future.

Papers must be about a Southeast Asian country other than that of the paper reader, or about a regional theme, or a comparative study of two or more countries in the region—in keeping with SEASREP’s thrust of promoting studies of the region by Southeast Asians—on any of the topics below:
• Nature of and new approaches to Southeast Asian studies
• Border economies and border studies
• Peace and conflict resolution
• Gender studies
• Geography, environment, rural landscapes, urbanization
• Language, religion, culture and identity politics
• Southeast Asian heritage

Download the conference call for panel and papers here.

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Egyptian sarcophagus found in Essex pensioner's drawing room

A 3,000-year-old Egyptian sarcophagus has been found in an Essex pensioner’s drawing room. The...

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

Round It Goes Again

In an assignment, I had students set forth in search of reliable online sources on a given subject. Some of what they found was so helpful, that I blogged about it. Later students sometimes found my blog post.

Something similar has happened again. A student this semester found LaMar Adams’ work on the unity of Isaiah – but also found my blog post about that subject.

I’ve also had students cite the blog posts of other scholars who blog in assignments, and have heard from other scholars that their students have mentioned mine.

There are lots of reasons for scholars to blog. But inasmuch as one of them is to combat misinformation and offer mainstream alternatives to ideologically-slanted perspectives, I have the impression that what we do does indeed have some effect, however small.

Perhaps next year, some student will find this post. And on it will go.

Noel Tan (The Southeast Asian Archaeology Newsblog)

Tales of the Hobbit

Another story commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Hobbit discovery; Nature interviews the key researchers behind the find.


The discovery of Homo floresiensis: Tales of the hobbit, 22 October 2014

The hobbit team did not set out to find a new species. Instead, the researchers were trying to trace how ancient people travelled from mainland Asia to Australia. At least that was the idea when they began digging in Liang Bua, a large, cool cave in the highlands of Flores in Indonesia. The team was led by archaeologists Mike Morwood and Raden Soejono, who are now deceased.

Fulls story here.

James Clackson et al. (Greek in Italy)



The funding for the Greek in Italy Project is generously provided by the Arts and Humanities Research Council UK and we submit an annual report to them saying what we have been up to, listing our published outputs and all sorts of activities under ‘engagement’. This year, there is a new web-interface for reporting to the AHRC, and our report will be submitted in the next couple of weeks. The web-interface is called ‘Researchfish’ (clear echoes of Douglas Adams’s Babel fish) and designed for use by all Research Councils and other bodies that fund research in the UK. It is on the whole easy to use, and involves much less time than writing a narrative statement of all the different things which we do as part of the project. My only complaint about the system is a peevish grumble that it is so clearly devised by and for research funded by ‘Big Science’: medicine, the physical and chemical sciences, engineering etc.

True enough, there are sections where you can record ‘Artistic and Creative Products’ alongside ‘Medical Products’ and ‘Software and Technical Products’, but the sample answers given in various sections reveal the bias to the Sciences. My favourite is from the section for reporting ‘Engagement Activities’: that is, activities that have ‘engaged audiences other than exclusively your scientific peers’ (strangely, academic conferences which are open to PhD students, as most are in the Arts and Humanities, are included in this section). One box to fill in is headed: “Briefly describe any notable impacts that arose from this activity.” Then they give a sample answer: “a school asked for lab visit (sic) for sixth form pupils and reported higher than expected interest from pupils in GCSE Science”. Although this looks impressive at first sight, it is actually nonsense. ‘Sixth form’ is an older UK term for students in the final two years of school, which follows the national exams known as GCSE. The two years leading up to GCSE are known as Key Stage 4, where the study of Science is a compulsory requirement (unlike languages, which are only compulsory for Key Stages 2 and 3). Hence most students who take the GCSEs have to take a GCSE in science. So the sample answer really seems to be saying ‘pupils expressed an interest in an exam which they had to take anyway, at a stage when they had already taken the exam.’

Mistakes like this are trivial, but they feed into an impression that what is really important in the reporting is the delivery of quantifiable and marketable ‘products’, and that the only valued impact is impact which can be measured in monetary terms. You can fill in boxes with what you tell schoolchildren with any rubbish at all, and no one really minds, because giving school talks doesn’t contribute to the national economy in the way that developing a new patent does. The best result of a school-talk is to encourage more children to become money-spinning scientists.

The AHRC only gets a small fraction of the UK’s annual budget for Science research (around £98 million out of £2.5 billion), and so we are just minnows in a sea full of dolphins, whales, and perhaps some sharks too. It makes sense for us all to share the same system of reporting, and submitting a standard form online cuts down on the work for everyone. But it would be nice to have as an example of the impact a school talk something like the following ‘The pupils learnt something new. Some of them were enthralled.’

Noel Tan (The Southeast Asian Archaeology Newsblog)

Charges filed against Bayon vandal

Cambodia has begun to file charges against Willemijn Vermaat, the Dutch-born New Zealand resident who admitted to destroying a Buddha statue in the Bayon. Amazingly, her response has been “I’m not worried. I didn’t do anything wrong.

Repairing the vandalised statue at the Bayon. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20141023

Repairing the vandalised statue at the Bayon. Source: Phnom Penh Post 20141023

Charges over broken statue
Phnom Penh Post, 22 October 2014

Court Complaint Lodged Against NZ Tourist
Cambodia Daily, 22 October 2014

Cambodia moves to prosecute Wellington woman over broken Buddha statue
One News, 23 October 2014

Charges have been filed in the case of a tourist from New Zealand who toppled and broke a Buddha statue in Cambodia’s ancient Bayon temple before fleeing back to New Zealand, a police official has confirmed.

“Even though she is not Cambodian, according to the law we have to file a complaint against her to protect our heritage and statues. It has already been presented at the [Siem Reap provincial] court,” said Pan Chay, chief of the heritage police in Siem Reap.

Chay declined to elaborate on the specific charges and the sentences they would imply, citing further investigation.

Willemijn Vermaat, the Dutch tourist who broke the statue, is now back in New Zealand, where she has lived for the past eight years.

Full story here.

Job opportunity: Lecturer in Southeast Asian history

Murdoch University in Australia is looking for a lecturer in South East Asian History. Applications close 21 November 2014.

The School is seeking to appoint a Lecturer in Southeast Asian History who will make a significant contribution to teaching and research, and help implement the School of Arts’ strategy of embedding Asia-related expertise throughout the School. The successful candidate will have extensive in-country experience and will conduct research using sources in the vernacular. An interest in inter-disciplinary collaboration would be particularly welcome.

The successful candidate will be required to develop an active research programme, apply for nationally competitive grants, publish in international refereed journals, and supervise postgraduate students. Expectations are commensurate with level of appointment.

The successful candidate will have either a PhD or evidence of near completion of a doctoral degree. A high level of written and oral communication skills and recent experience in teaching at the undergraduate and postgraduate level are highly desirable.

See posting here.

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Position of Sphinx’s Head Raises Questions

The discovery of the missing sphinx’s head inside the third chamber of the Amphipolis tomb – 12...

Noel Tan (The Southeast Asian Archaeology Newsblog)

A possible Tamil link to the Ramkhamhaeng inscription

A post by D. Hellmann-Rajanayagam and Ruediger Korff from the University of Passau about the Ramkhamhaeng inscription and its possible links to a 1st century Tamil story.

Another view of the Ramkhamhaeng inscription
New Mandala, 23 October 2014

The Ramkhamhaeng inscription is regarded as unique and specific to Thailand. In the late 1980s a discussion started about its authenticity (see Vickery 1987). While working on a project on state ideologies, we noticed that a similar inscription could be found in Bagan. After some research, it became obvious that a lot of what is described in the Ramkhamhaeng inscription quite closely resembles a story from 1st century B.C. Tamil literature. In short it is as follows:

A king had a bell hung over his bed that could be pulled from the front of his palace. Every subject feeling treated unjustly could ring it and ask for redress. Once a cow rang the bell because the king’s son had run over her calf with his chariot. In retribution, the king had his son run over and killed by a chariot as well.

Full story here.

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Kurdish peace bid allows for rediscovery of prehistoric paintings

Academics have succeeded in returning to rock paintings dating back 10 millennia for the first...

Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology in the Middle East

Flights 20141019-20 - The Aqaba Trip

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

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

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

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

Research: Gilbert Insall - Pioneer over Jordan … and Sinai and Iraq

Our recent flights over the Jordanian Panhandle have been a reminder of the RAF pioneers who discovered, photographed and published Kites in the 1920s. One of the principle trio was Gilbert Insall.

Insall had published a photograph of a Kite in 1929 (which has now been ‘rediscovered’ – Blog 'The First Kites') taken while he was commanding a squadron in Iraq. Several years later he was back in the Middle East as Station Commander of RAF Abu Sueir in Egypt, a Flying Training School. Edward Mole, the Chief Engineer at Abu Sueir in 1937-8, subsequently published a delightful autobiography of his RAF career including flights made with Insall. By then Insall was 42 and his enthusiasm for archaeology as undiminished. Mole records that Insall frequently flew out over Sinai, located sites, landed and set-to with the shovel and pick he carried with him. In case the C.O. got into trouble, Mole sometimes flew with him in another aircraft and was roped into the digging.
From above, the pattern of an old settlement could clearly be seen on the desert sand, and on sighting one, Insall would land nearby and dig for objects.

Later still, Insall and Mole flew together to Baghdad to visit RAF friends.
We set off together in two Audax aircraft to make the long trip across the featureless Arabian desert. There were no radio navigation aids in those days, but all we had to do was to find and follow the oil pipe line which ran straight as a die for hundreds of miles. We took with us all necessary desert flying equipment – emergency rations, water bottles, first aid kits – and Ghoolie Chits.

Interesting that by 1937-8, the air route across the Jordanian Panhandle had evidently shifted from the track and furrow ploughed for the RAF-pioneered Airmail Route of 12 years before along the southern fringe of the lavafield, to the much more straightforward line of the new oil pipeline further north. This was evidently the route followed by Imperial Airways when it took over the Airmail task from the RAF and explains the series of circular route-markers with numbers from (at least) 24 to 16 (as you flew east) (For an example see Flight 20141015 blog).

In Iraq, Insall had Mole fly him over Samarra so he could photograph it from the air – as he had had done when he flew Crawford there in 1928. Hopefully his aerial photos survive – his son had an RAF flying career, too, and is now a noted writer on archaeological work in Oman.

Abu Sueir, Sir P Sassoon, G Cpt Insall VC Inspecting Junior Term 1936.
On a personal note, Insall senior was the Station Commander at Abu Sueir when my father learned to fly there in 1936 and officiated at his Passing Out Parade.

- David Kennedy

Insall, G. S. M. (1929) “The aeroplane in archaeology”, Journal of the RAF College, Cranwell 9.2: 174-175.
Mole, E. (1984) Happy Landings, Shrewsbury.
Kennedy, D. L. (2012) “Pioneers Above Jordan. Revealing a prehistoric landscape”, Antiquity 86: 474-491.

Bill Caraher (The New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World)

Connectivity in Cyprus and Corinth

Over the last few weeks, David Pettegrew and I have been working on an article that compares finds data from the Corinthia and from our site of Pyla-Koutsopetria on Cyprus. We were particularly interested in understanding how the types of ceramics that we can identify in survey assemblages shapes the types of economic relationships we can recognize in the Eastern Mediterranean. As one might expect, our focus has been on the Late Roman world, and we have been particularly interested in the difference between the kind of economic relationships manifest in assemblages comprised of highly visible amphoras and those manifest in highly diagnostic Late Roman red slip wares. The entire project is framed by Horden and Purcell’s notion of connectivity and that’s the unifying theme of the volume to which this paper will contribute.

The paper is exciting because it represents a step beyond the work that David has been doing on his book on the Isthmus of Corinth. I’ve read a draft of the book and it’ll be exciting. It also represents the next step for our work with the Pyla-Koutsopetria data. It is significant that all of our survey data upon which this paper is based, is available on Open Context. Our book should be available in time for the holidays. 

The draft below is 95% of the way there with only a few niggling citations to clean up. Enjoy and, as always, any comments or critiques would be much appreciated!

Archaeological News on Tumblr

'Roads of Arabia’ showcases art, artifacts of early human history

There is an incense burner in intricate iron, gold and silver. A set of gilded doors that once...

Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology in the Middle East

Video: Aerial photography of Kites

If you want to see Kites from the Jordanian harra like we do - from a helicopter, check out this short YouTube video showcasing some of the Kite footage taken by Matthew Dalton during the Aerial Archaeology in Jordan Project's 2012 season.

Video taken by Matthew Dalton of the Aerial Archaeology in Jordan project, edited by Rebecca Banks. All material is © APAAME.

The Egyptiana Emporium

Thursday Photo


A column featuring Sobek at Kom Ombo (Source: Wikimedia Commons).

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Bear skeleton sheds light on 2,800-year-old Chinese ritual

ZHENGZHOU — A bear skeleton unearthed in central China’s Henan Province may reveal that...

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

LOST Rewatch: Special

This episode starts with another eye close-up, as Michael is looking for Walt. Walt is learning to throw a knife from John Locke – and after missing frequently, when asked to picture it in his mind’s eye first, the knife is right on target. I’m pretty sure this is supposed to remind viewers of Star Wars: A New Hope, and Luke Skywalker’s aptitude. Michael finds Walt and gets angry – but Locke insists that Michael needs to stop treating Walt like a child. Michael gets angry with Walt again later and burns his comic book, then Walt runs off, leading to Michael and Locke needing to rescue him from a polar bear.

special walt knife lostIn flashbacks, we see Michael talking with Walt’s mother Susan, as he plans to stop painting and go back to construction work while she studies law. Later, we see her planning to take Walt to Amsterdam to pursue an opportunity. And then, when he learns she is seeing someone, he says he is going to come to Amsterdam to get Walt – but doesn’t pay attention and gets hit by a car. Later, in the hospital, he gets a visit from Susan, saying that she and Brian are getting married and that he wants to adopt Walt. Eventually, Brian goes to see Michael. Susan had a blood disorder and died within a week. Brian talks about Walt being different, and strange things happening when he is around. One example is when he couldn’t get their attention to look at pictures of birds in a book, and then a bird hits the window.

While Sayid and others look at Rousseau’s maps, Michael plans to build a raft to try to get off the island. Michael tells Walt that this is them taking control of their own destiny.

Charlie works to keep Claire’s belongings safe, including her diary. Eventually he reads it, and finds that Claire wrote of having a dream about the “black rock” which she cannot get away from.

The episode ends with Claire coming out of the jungle.

While some might say that the show did little with the idea of “special” children that was a major focus in early seasons, I beg to differ. The specialness of the man in black, with the result that he sees his murdered mother, and intuits how to utilize the island’s energy, by channeling water and building a wooden wheel to direct it, so as to make an exit from the island. The writers may have had to explore Walt’s story less than they might have wanted to, as the actor aged. But the theme does not disappear. To return to the Star Wars analogy, we might say that the focus throughout is on the Force, not on the people who are strong with the Force for their own sake.


ASOR Blog (American Schools of Oriental Research)

The Fabric of Society: Textile Production Workshops in the Southern Levant

A Case Study From Iron Age Tell es-Safi/Gath

8-Deborah-Cassuto-blogBy: Deborah Cassuto, Bar-Ilan University
Ernest S. Frerichs/Program Coordinator

During the academic … Read more

Paola Arosio and Diego Meozzi (Stone Pages' Archaeonews)

Massive prehistoric settlement unearthed in Ukraine

A temple dating back about 6,000 years has been discovered within a massive prehistoric settlement in Ukraine. The temple is about 60 by 20 meters (197 by 66 feet) in...

Neolithic barbeque pit found in Cyprus

Archaeologists have uncovered what could be a prehistoric barbeque pit used by large bands of hunters at the Prastio-Mesorotsos site in Cyprus. According to the antiquities department, the team of...

5000-year-old cave paintings discovered in Russia

Russian archaeologists have discovered ancient cave paintings dating back to 3000 BC in a gorge in southern Russia. "A few days ago we found five drawings, fairly large fragments, on...

Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

Il Bello o il Vero, inaugurazione della mostra che coniuga arte e tecnologie


Bello-Vero-InaugurazioneSi invita all'inaugurazione che si terrà il 30 ottobre 2014, nel Complesso Monumentale di San Domenico Maggiore a Napoli , della mostra “Il Bello o il Vero. La Scultura napoletana del secondo Ottocento e del primo Novecento”, lcurata per conto del Forum Universale delle Culture di Napoli e della Campania da Isabella Valente e che coniuga arte e nuove tecnologie, con 250 opere provenienti da musei, gallerie e collezioni private di tutta Italia.

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Officials confirm Heracles smuggled from Antalya’s Perge

A 20-ton sarcophagus, which was seized at the Swiss Customs in 2012, was smuggled from the ancient...

Végh Zsuzsanna and Simon Zsolt (Agyagtábla, papirusz)

5th ICYE

Az 5th International Congress of Young Egyptologists következő alkalmát 2015. szeptember 16-20 között rendezik meg Bécsben. Február 25-ig lehet absztrakttal jelentkezni, a részletes felhívás itt érhető el (a hivatalos Facebook-oldalon). A konferencia honlapja itt található (egyelőre még nem frissítették).

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Disneyland 'Solution' to Syria's Looting problem

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

Private Collection and Documentation Standards

The commentator posing as William Pearlstein on Peter Tompa's blog refers to people for whom, allegedly, there is
the notion that private ownership is immoral and ought to be illegal. Which is clearly the position of the archaeological lobby, which is by now thoroughly radicalized 
This use of the terminology of hate-crime  is akin to Hooker's labelling of preservationists "soft-core terrorists and their unthinking followers". For the rest of us, there is nothing "radical" about wanting to see any finite and fragile resource used in a responsible and sustainable manner and not wildly exploited, driven solely by commercial greed and in the pursuit of short-term self-interest.

Concerns about the effects of private collecting on the archaeological record have figured in policy documents since the mid 1950s and the  1970 UNESCO Convention formulates some quite clear guidelines for the transfer of ownership of archaeological items. Since then, the archaeological world, and the rest of us, have had ample opportunity to observe closely the reaction of the antiquities trade to all this. From the mid 1990s we've had the opportunity to look closely over their shoulders through their use of the Internet to communicate. There can no longer be any excuse for people being unaware of what dealers and collectors do and say - and the discrepancies between their declarative posturing and wheedle-words and practice. If there has been any hardening of opinion about the trade, it is through the possibility of direct observation, public comment and questioning, taken with their public response to those comments.

It is a moot point that there are many who actually feel all "private ownership is immoral" [I assume the lawyer means all private ownership of archaeological artefacts]. I think there are many of us who are willing to accept that there are artefacts on the market which can be shown (documented) to be licit items of commerce. What we cannot accept is the special pleading that because we agree there are "some" such artefacts, any artefact where the dealer or collector has discarded, altered, lost, hidden or otherwise separated it from all but the most recent and vaguest collecting history must also perforce be "potentially licit". In a market which clearly is prone to being supplied by laundered illicit items, that is simply taking good faith too far.  The 1970 UNESCO Convention drew attention to the importance of documentation of legal export and (Art 10) transfer of ownership. That dealers have consistently ignored the principles presented there (still less, in the spirit of responsibility failed to expand on them in any way) is really nobody's fault other than the dealers themselves. If dealers and collectors had had their eyes on the ball, by now we should have artefacts each accompanied by ordered files of documents going back several decades as a response to the 1970 document. Do we have any? No. But that is not the fault of UNESCO, archaeologists, or anyone else. It's the fault of couldn't-give-a-damn traders and buyers. And now the same trade expects us to simply forget that licitness of artefacts can be documented, and treat all their undocumented artefacts on a par with the ones curated by responsible collectors who maintained their archives to proper standards. If private collectors are unable to maintain proper archives of the collections, then perhaps they do belong in a museum with proper documentation standards.

What kind of an antiquities collection is it that has no documentation? After UNESCO 1970, they can be regarded as nothing other than an accumulation of trophy geegaws. Private collectors have consistently shown that they cannot be trusted to maintain the documentation of their collections which are invariably split with the objects losing any kind of contact with any documentation that may have existed. It is for that reason that private collection attracts censure and no other.

Jim Davila (

Who wrote the Pentateuch?

ASKING THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS: Who wrote the Torah? For thousands of years people believed that the five books of the Pentateuch were written by Moses. But it couldn't have been, academics say. (Elon Gilad). As usual with Haaretz, read this quickly before it goes behind the paywall.

The answer in this article describes the classical Documentary Hypothesis pretty well, although (1) the second creation story in Genesis uses the divine name YHWH Elohim, not just YHWH, and (2) the idea that the name of the writer of Deuteronomy was Shaphan (cf. 2 Kings 22:8-14) assumes that Deuteronomy was composed during Josiah's reign, whereas many specialists think that what was found in the Temple was an older document (old even in Josiah's time) which eventually served as the basis for our current book of Deuteronomy. In any case, specialists in Pentateuchal source criticism now tend to have some significant reservations about much of the classical Documentary Hypothesis. I have said more on the current state of this question here.

But, yes, everyone agrees that the Pentateuch was written long after the time of Moses, if there was a Moses.

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Will St Louis Art Museum make public ....?

David Gill asks:
Will make public when it was first told mask came from Saqqara? How did curators take action?
This is quite a significant question I think. Will SLAM answer it before somebody else does?

Antiquity Now

A Frightful History: Author P J Hodge Presents “The Ghost Hunter”

Last Tuesday’s blog explored the neurology of fear and introduced a 2000 year old horror story from Pliny the Younger. Despite its antiquity, this story (actually contained in a missive to an acquaintance by the prolific letter writer) exhibited remarkable … Continue reading

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Now, that's NOT Armchair archaeology, it's Artefact Hunting

"One man has stunned professional archaeologists
by locating a Bronze Age settlement using Google Earth

Keffiyeh-wearing Howard Jones
artefact hunting in comic trousers
Howard Jones from Plimstock is a professional diver, he used to be a marine, and now is a metal detector using artefact hunter. He's in the news for reporting a Bronze Age settlement he's discovered at Spriddlestone in the South Hams, Devon where he "unearthed scraps of metal, pottery shards and flint tools". Reportedly "it is hoped that a series of trench digs, set to take place February next year, will provide further evidence of the prehistoric settlement" and who is funding that, and what is the threat.

The story is recounted by Sarah Griffiths ('Now that's armchair archaeology! Treasure hunter locates Bronze Age settlement using  Google Earth – and digs up 5,000-year-old pottery and flint tools', Daily Mail 22 October 2014). Sadly the headlines show the depth of penetration of seventeen million quid of archaeological outreach done by the Bloomsbury-headed Portable Antiquities Scheme. A not very clued-up journalist goes for the "ordinary bloke confounds the experts trope" as well as calling artefact collecting "archaeology".

The notion of "research" as used by artefact hunters differs from that used by the rest of us. It most often denotes the process of using existing sources (archaeological reports, county histories, gazetteers, old maps, aerial photos etc) to locate a site worth exploiting as a 'productive' source of collectables. Mr Jones used Google Earth to locate a site full of cropmarks (which if they are doing their job properly will already be in the Devon HER):

aerial picture taken in 1989 shows the area in Spriddlestone, South Devon.
But this use of the popular web-based photo resource has allegedly "stunned professional archaeologists" (really?). So how does he say he did he do it? 
He began his search for a settlement by trawling satellite images for the sort of terrain that would have offered food, water and shelter to prehistoric man [and] managed to pinpoint a site in Spriddlestone in the South Hams, Devon. Mr Jones  said: ‘Night after night I looked at Google Earth asking myself the question ‘if I was alive 3,000 years ago where would I live’. ‘I would need food, water, shelter, close to Dartmoor for minerals, close to a river to access the sea and trade routes. ‘After a few weeks I put an “X marks the spot” on the map - that was where I would live.’
Google Earth does not show "food" still less "prehistoric food" and certainly a north-facing slope on the valley side overlooking the saline (?) waters of a deep estuary is not exactly a place most of the rest of us would "pinpoint" as providing "shelter".

There really seem to be serious problems for (real) archaeology if the general public are continuing to be told that hoiking artefacts to put in an ephemeral (and most frequently poorly-documented) personal collection is any kind of archaeology. It is no more archaeology than having a wall full of deer antlers (lopped off dead animals you've shot when they came to the feeding trough you put there) is any form of ecology. Artefact hunting is not archaeology. It exploits the archaeological record, but is not archaeology. Artefact collecting is not archaeology. Dugup coin collecting is not archaeology (or any form of ancient historiography). When are archaeologists going to get that message across with the same persistence as metal detectorists insist on not being called "metal detectors"?

Jim Davila (

Obama, Hannibal, etc.

ASKING THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS: Is Obama a modern-day Quintus Fabius Maximus? (Brian Michael Jenkins, Los Angeles Times).
President Obama has been repeatedly accused of delay. Critics say he dragged his feet on sending more troops to Afghanistan, on addressing the dangers in Libya, on providing support to Syria's rebels and, most recently, on initiating military action against Islamic State.

But is that necessarily such a bad thing? Calculated delay has a long history as an effective military strategy, dating back at least to the Second Punic War in the 3rd century BC.

Although America is constantly compared to ancient Rome, this is the first time I can remember the comparison being to Rome during the Punic Wars.

Also, in The Mirror Tom Parry has a review of A History of the World in Numbers, by Emma Marriott, which includes this tidbit:
To launch the second Punic War (218–201BC), Carthaginian general Hannibal took an army of about 30,000 men and 37 elephants across the Pyrenees and Alps into Italy to fight the Romans.

One elephant survived – apparently named Surus, meaning “the Syrian”. Hannibal often rode it.

Carthage, on the coast of modern Tunisia, fell to the Romans in 146BC. They massacred 200,000 people and sold the remaining 50,000 as slaves.
More, recently, on the Punic Wars is here. Cross-file under "Punic Watch."

Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

Gestione e innovazione in musei, archivi e biblioteche delle Marche


grand-tour-cultura-eventoE' in programma venerdì 24 ottobre dalle ore 9.00 presso la Sala Convegni del Palazzo Li Madou (Via Gentile da Fabriano 2/4, Ancona), il convegno dal titolo "Crocevia di culture. Gestione e innovazione in musei, archivi e biblioteche delle Marche”, organizzato da MAB Marche e Assessorato alla Cultura della Regione Marche.

Annunciati i vincitori del Bando Beni invisibili: Creatività e tecnologie per valorizzare le tradizioni artigianali


Fondazione Telecom Italia ha annunciato sul suo sito  i soggetti vincitori nell’ambito del bando “Beni Invisibili, Luoghi E Maestria Delle Tradizioni Artigianali”. L’iniziativa è stata lanciata nel 2013 per un contributo complessivo da erogare di 1,5 milioni di euro: l’obiettivo era sostenere progetti volti al recupero ed alla conservazione di un “bene culturale invisibile”.

Jim Davila (

Le Donne on Perrucci

ASKING THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS: Who is Ignazio Perrucci? (Anthony Le Donne).

Background here.

Bryn Mawr Classical Review

2014.10.43: Eternal Ravenna: From the Etruscans to the Venetians. (Translated by Christina Cawthra and Jo-Ann Titmarsh)

Review of Massimiliano David, Eternal Ravenna: From the Etruscans to the Venetians. (Translated by Christina Cawthra and Jo-Ann Titmarsh). Turnhout: 2013. Pp. 287. €95.00. ISBN 9782503549415.

2014.10.42: Herodotus and Hellenistic Culture: Literary Studies in the Reception of the 'Histories'

Review of Jessica Priestley, Herodotus and Hellenistic Culture: Literary Studies in the Reception of the 'Histories'. Oxford; New York: 2014. Pp. viii, 288. $99.00. ISBN 9780199653096.

2014.10.41: Textual Rivals: Self-Presentation in Herodotus’ 'Histories'

Review of David Branscome, Textual Rivals: Self-Presentation in Herodotus’ 'Histories'. Ann Arbor: 2013. Pp. 262. $70.00. ISBN 9780472118946.

Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

Anche Diagnostica e Restauro dei beni culturali tra i temi dell'intesa Sicilia-Toscana

piazza-duomo-pratoE' stato firmato il 22 ottobre dall'assessore alle attività produttive credito e lavoro Gianfranco Simoncini e dall'assessore alle attività produttive della Regione Siciliana Linda Vancheri presso il Cnr a Sesto Fiorentino un protocollo d'intesa tra la Regione Toscana e la Regione Sicilia. 

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

Proof that Roman gladiators hated astronauts

Seen on Twitter this morning:

Hmm.  Maybe not.

We’re often told that “archaeology is science so only archaeology is reliable.”

So this is a fun illustration of the perils of that; of what can happen when you have no literary sources, and construct a narrative solely from archaeology or monuments.

Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

Online l’archivio digitale dei manoscritti Vaticani

manoscritto vaticano nttNTT DATA Corporation ha annunciato la realizzazione di un nuovo sistema dedicato alla consultazione online dell’archivio digitale della Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana grazie al quale sarà possibile accedere alle copie digitali di più di 4.000 antichi manoscritti.