Maia Atlantis: Ancient World Blogs

Tom Elliott (

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July 26, 2016

Archaeology Magazine

Israel Hazor statueJERUSALEM, ISRAEL—A fragment of an Egyptian funerary statue dating to the third millennium B.C. has been unearthed in northern Israel by a team of archaeologists led by Amnon Ben-Tor of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. According to a report in i24 News, the limestone fragment includes some of the base of the statue, which had been carved with hieroglyphics. A preliminary translation of the text suggests that it praises an official connected to the ancient city of Memphis, but his name and position are unknown. The fragment also depicts the feet of a crouching figure that may have represented the official. Scholars think the statue may have been originally placed inside his tomb, or in a temple dedicated to the Egyptian god Ptah, who was associated with the city of Memphis. This statue, and another third-millennium statue discovered in the same building at Hazor, are the only two monumental Egyptian statues from this period to have been unearthed in the Levant. The sculptures may have been sent to the ruler of Hazor from Egypt as gifts during the later New Kingdom period. The statues were probably destroyed around 1200 B.C., when the city was conquered. To read more about Egyptian artifacts discovered in Israel, go to "Egyptian Style in Ancient Canaan." 

BiblePlaces Blog

Egyptian Statue Discovered at Hazor

Earlier this morning, Hebrew University sent out this press release with photos:

In a historic find, a large fragment of an Egyptian statue measuring 45 X 40 centimeters, made of lime-stone, was discovered. In the course of the current season of excavations at Tel-Hazor, north of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. Only the lower part of the statue survived, depicting the crouching feet of a male figure, seated on a square base on which a few lines in the Egyptian hieroglyphic script are inscribed.

The archaeologists estimate that the complete statue would equal the size of a fully-grown man. At present only a preliminary reading of the inscriptions has been attempted, and the title and name of the Egyptian official who originally owned the statue, are not yet entirely clear.

The statue was originally placed either in the official's tomb or in a temple – most probably a temple of the Egyptian god Ptah – and most of the texts inscribed on the statue's base include words of praise to the official who may have served and most probably practiced his duties in the region of Memphis, the primary cult center of the god Ptah. They also include the customary Egyptian funerary formula ensuring eternal supply of offerings for the statue's owner.

The monumental Egyptian statute of a high official from the Middle Kingdom in Egypt, found in the administrative palace at Hazor, north of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. (Photo credit: Shlomit Bechar)

The three volunteer excavators who found the statue, from left to right: Valentin Sama-Rojo from Spain, Bryan Kovach from the United States, and Elanji Swart from South Africa. (Photo credit: Shlomit Bechar)

This statue, found this year, together with the sphinx fragment of the Egyptian king Mycerinus (who ruled Egypt in the 25th century B.C.E.) discovered at the site by the research team three years ago, are the only monumental Egyptian statues found so far in second millennium contexts in the entire Levant.

The discovery of these two statues in the same building currently being excavated by the research team, indicates the special importance of the building (probably the administrative palace of the ruler of the city), as well as that of the entire city of Hazor.


In the course of close to 30 years of excavation, fragments of 18 different Egyptian statues, both royal and private, dedicated to Egyptian kings and officials, including two sphinxes, were discovered at Hazor. Most of these statues were found in layers dated to the Late Bronze Age (15th-13th centuries B.C.E.) – corresponding to the New Kingdom in Egypt. This is the largest number of Egyptian statues found so far in any site in the Land of Israel, although there is no indication that Hazor was one of the Egyptian strongholds in Southern Canaan nor of the presence of an Egyptian official at Hazor during the Late Bronze Age.

Interestingly, most Egyptian statues found at Hazor so far date to Egypt's "Middle Kingdom" (19th-18th centuries B.C.E), a time when Hazor did not yet exist. It thus seems that the statues were sent by an Egyptian king in the "New Kingdom" as official gifts to the king of Hazor, or as dedications to a local temple (regardless of their being already "antiques"). This is not surprising considering the special status of the king of Hazor who was the most important king in Southern Canaan at the time. The extraordinary importance of Hazor in the 15th-13th centuries B.C.E. is indicated also by the Biblical reference to Hazor as "the head of all those kingdoms" (Joshua 11:10).

All the statues at the site were found broken to pieces and scattered over a large area. Clear signs of mutilation indicate that most of them were deliberately and violently smashed, most probably in the course of the city's final conquest and destruction sometime in the 13th century B.C.E. The deliberate mutilation of statues of kings and dignitaries accompanying the conquest of towns, is a well-known practice in ancient times (I Samuel 5:1-4; Isaiah 11:9) as well as in our time.

The full press release is here, and the story is being covered by the Jerusalem Post and other outlets.

July 25, 2016

Ancient Peoples

"o quantus tunc illis mentibus ardor concubitus, quae vox saltante libidine, quantus ille meri..."

“o quantus tunc illis mentibus ardor concubitus, quae vox saltante libidine, quantus ille meri Veneris per crura madentia torrens! lenonum ancillas posita Saufeia corona provocat et tollit pendentis praemia coxae, ipsa Medullinae fluctum crisantis adorat.”


“How great is the eagerness for sex in their minds then, what a voice with the desire for dancing, how abundant a torrent of pure lust runs over their moist thighs! Saufeia, with a reward being offered, challenges the brothel-keeper’s slave girls, and she takes the prize for shaking her ass, then she in turn worships the undulating surges of Medullina.”

Juvenal (c.55 - 127 AD) Satire 6.317-322

Juvenal is describing the celebration of Bona Dea (the Good Goddess), which was a female only ceremony.

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Karnak (v 0.1.5): Projet d'index global des inscriptions des temples de Karnak

[First posted in AWOL 9 June 2013, updated 25 July 2016]

Karnak (v 0.1.5)  
Projet d'index global des inscriptions des temples de Karnak

3676 documents accessibles sur 7654 documents uniques dans le projet.
1676 scènes, 14 stèles, 114 éléments statuaires

Télécharger l’Inventaire des monuments, objets, scènes et inscriptions des temples de Karnak.

Lancé en janvier 2013, le projet Karnak (CNRS, USR 3172 - CFEETK / UMR 5140, Équipe ENiM - Programme « Investissement d’Avenir » ANR-11-LABX-0032-01 Labex ARCHIMEDE) a pour ambition d’organiser et de rendre accessible la documentation textuelle issue des temples de Karnak.
Ce travail est fondé sur un dépouillement exhaustif des documents et inscriptions de Karnak collationnées sur l’original. Chaque document reçoit un numéro d’identifiant unique (KIU : Karnak Identifiant Unique) lors de l’intégration à la base de données. Toute la richesse des archives du CFEETK (photographies, fac-similés, etc.) est exploitée par le projet Karnak, directement connecté à la base de données ArchéoGrid Karnak et à la bibliographie en ligne du CFEETK.
Étroitement lié au projet Dictionnaire Permanent de l’Égyptien Ancien (DPEA) développé par l’équipe d’égyptologie de l’UMR 5140 (CNRS-Université Montpellier III-Paul Valéry), le projet Karnak offrira un outil d’accès direct au riche corpus des inscriptions de Karnak (hiéroglyphiques, hiératiques et démotiques). Toutes les informations relatives à un document (KIU) seront accessibles à partir d’une notice unique. Celle-ci comportera l’édition typographique de l’inscription ainsi que sa translittération, l’ensemble des photographies, fac-similés et tout autre document d’archives associé.
Cet outil en ligne, hébergé sur les serveurs de l’IN2P3, autorisera ainsi des recherches directes dans le contenu des notices et dans les inscriptions hiéroglyphiques par le biais de la translittération. Il fournira en outre divers indices permettant des recherches multicritères (noms des divinités, épithètes divines, toponymes, ethniques et lieux de cultes, éléments de titulatures, anthroponymes, éléments prosopographiques et vocabulaire des inscriptions).

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

Mad Comparison of the Bible and Donald Trump

Hemant Mehta shared a link to a MAD Magazine special issue, which included a two-page feature comparing things that Donald Trump has said with things found in the Bible. One could do this with any candidate, pretty much. But in the case of Trump it seems particularly appropriate because of the way that certain religious [Read More...]

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Open Access Journal: Biblical and Ancient Greek Linguistics (BAGL)

Biblical and Ancient Greek Linguistics (BAGL)
Biblical and Ancient Greek Linguistics (BAGL) is an international journal that exists to further the application of modern linguistics to the study of Ancient and Biblical Greek, with a particular focus on the analysis of texts, including but not restricted to the Greek New Testament.

The journal is hosted by McMaster Divinity College and works in conjunction with its Centre for Biblical Linguistics, Translation and Exegesis, and the organization ( in the hosting of conferences and symposia open to scholars and students working in Greek linguistics who are interested in contributing to advancing the discussion and methods of the field of research. BAGL is a refereed on-line and print journal dedicated to distributing the results of significant research in the area of linguistic theory and application to biblical and ancient Greek, and is open to all scholars, not just those connected to the Centre and the project.
Volume 4 (2015)

Joseph D. Fantin
Dallas Theological Seminary
It is agreed that both context and Greek studies are essential components of the exegetical process. This article explores the function of language itself within society. The focus is not on the typical “meaning” of language as an information carrier but rather on the meaning that the use of particular linguistic elements brings to the communication situation. In other words, I will consider language itself as a social phenomenon. In order to achieve this goal, using Acts 21:27–40 as a test case, I will first consider selective elements of the social and historical context that when understood will contribute to recreating the context of the passage (cognitive environment). Then, with this contextual information activated in the exegetical process, I will consider the social impact of this information on two recorded speech incidents from Acts 21:27–40 resulting in a better understanding of the passage. This will demonstrate that in addition to the informational linguistic meaning, an understanding of the social use of language itself is a valuable tool for understanding the biblical text.
Keywords: Acts 21:27–40, exegesis, sociolinguistics, pragmatics, New Testament backgrounds, New Testament contexts, cognitive environment, Greek, relevance theory
Jonathan M. Watt
Geneva College, Beaver Falls, PA, USA
A sociolinguistic approach to Paul’s language usage in the Jerusalem arrest narratives of Acts 21–22 offers inferences with regard to his specific language choices between Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic during his interactions. However, modern language studies show considerable inter-language penetration that, by implication, complicate conclusions one may reach with regard to the NT situation.
Keywords: sociolinguistics, multilingualism, linguistic repertoire, code-switching, cross-linguistic penetration
Hughson T. Ong
McMaster Divinity College, Hamilton, ON, Canada
This article discusses three distinct types of discourse analysis models—Social Identity Theory and Communication Accommodation Theory (CAT), Conversation Analysis (CA), and SFL Register Analysis—and applies them individually to the text in Acts 21:27—22:5 to examine various aspects and elements that comprise the context of situation of the incident of Paul’s arrest in the temple. The main objective is to showcase the relevance and utility of sociolinguistic theories in New Testament exegesis.
Keywords: Acts 21:27—22:5, sociolinguistics, exegesis, discourse analysis, social identity theory, speech or communication accommodation theory, conversation analysis, register analysis
James D. Dvorak
Oklahoma Christian University, Edmond, OK, USA
This article approaches the topic of persuasion from a social perspective rather than rhetorical or socio-rhetorical. This is because, at heart, persuasion—of others or of self—is ultimately a social action in which values are negotiated. Dvorak argues that to analyze the persuasiveness of a discourse requires a sociolinguistic model, and the model that is best suited for the job is Appraisal Theory, which is built upon the theoretical foundation of Systemic Functional Linguistics.
Keywords: persuasion, appraisal, evaluation, 1 Corinthians, values, power, discourse analysis
Volume 3 (2014)

Paul L. Danove
Villanova University, Villanova, PA, USA
Τίθημι and its compounds present the broadest range of licensing properties of any set of verbal compounds in the Septuagint and New Testament. This article resolves the occurrences of τίθημι and its twenty compounds into twenty–six distinct usages. The discussion of each usage “derives” the event that the verbs grammaticalize, specifies the conceptualization of the event associated with each usage, describes the syntactic and semantic requirements for verbs with the usage, identifies the observed lexical realizations of required complements, and illustrates occurrences of the verbs with the usage. The discussion then summarizes the relationships among the usages, proposes a further basis for relating the events, and notes the possibility of polysemous interpretations of verbal occurrences.
Keywords: event, lexical, semantic, syntactic, usage, verb
James D. Dvorak and Ryder Dale Walton
Oklahoma Christian University
Too often, study of the biblical text degenerates into rudimentary word studies, leaving aside larger syntactic and logical connections. This paper proposes that careful study should include considerations of genre, register, prime, subsequent, theme, rheme, topic, and comment. To demonstrate this, it applies a Systemic Functional approach to Mark 2:1–12 and the book of Jude.
Keywords: Exegesis, Systemic Functional Linguistics, Prime, Subsequent, Theme, Rheme, Topic, Comment, Process Chains, Semantic Shift, Cohesion, Coherence, Linearity, Genre, Register
S. M. Kraeger
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC, USA
Ever since the advent of the printing press, the Latin West and its lexicographic inheritors have used the first person singular indicative verb form (e.g., λύω) as the lemma of the Greek verb. There are historical reasons for this. These historical reasons for using the indicative form, however, are not coextensive with those by which modern lexicographers operate. This issue significantly overlaps with pedagogical concerns. The present article seeks to sketch a basic history of Greek verbal treatments toward a reevaluation of lexicographic and pedagogic practice regarding the ancient Greek verb.
Keywords: Lexicography, Pedagogy, Verb, Lemmatization
Stanley E. Porter
McMaster Divinity College, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
This paper emphasizes the importance of both methodological and pedagogical dimensions of elementary Greek grammars, and then briefly surveys several different approaches found in current gram- mars. The paper takes what is called the usage-based approach, in which grammar is introduced roughly according to frequency of use so that students are reinforced in learning the grammar that appears most frequently in the Greek New Testament. Porter, Reed, and O’Donnell’s Fundamentals of New Testament Greek is used as the example of such an approach.
Keywords: Greek, grammar, elementary, usage-based approach, morphological approach, descriptivism, progressivism, immersion
Volume 2 (2013)

Paul L. Danove
Villanova University, Villanova, PA, USA
This article develops five features that describe the conceptualizations of the event of transference grammaticalized by New Testament verbs, and uses these features to formulate a model of the possible New Testament usages of transference. The discussion resolves all New Testament occurrences of verbs that designate transference into one of eighteen usages with distinct feature descriptions, and considers the usages of transference predicted by the feature model but not realized in the New Testament.
Keywords: feature, transference, semantic, syntactic, verbal usage

Volume 1 (2012)

Wally V. Cirafesi
McMaster Divinity College, Hamilton, ON, Canada
This article argues that the construction ἔχειν πίστιν in Hellenistic Greek is a nominalized ideational metaphor that is semantically related to the finite verb πιστεύειν. Therefore, when the construction possesses a genitive modifier, the function of the genitive is disambiguated as denoting the object of πίστιν. This understanding of ἔχειν πίστιν + the genitive has significant implications for interpreting the construction in Mark 11:22, Jas 2:1, and Hippolytus‘s De Antichristo 61:26. (Article)
Keywords: πίστιϛ Χριστοῦ, Greek linguistics, nominalization, grammatical metaphor, Mark 11:22, Jas 2:1, Hippolytus
Gregory P. Fewster
McMaster Divinity College, Hamilton, ON, Canada
Adapting Michael Hoey‘s lexical priming theory, this article provides a new rubric for the evaluation of intertextuality in the New Testament. This article tests the veracity of the claim that the lexeme ματαιότηϛ functions to invoke the language of Ecclesiastes. Romans 8 mirrors some of the language of Ecclesiastes, while Eph 4:17 has strong ties to Rom 8, creating an intertextual chain via the lexeme ματαιότηϛ. (Article)
Keywords: ματαιότηϛ, intertextuality, priming, Romans 8, 2 Peter 2, Ephesians 3
Hughson Ong
McMaster Divinity College, Hamilton, ON, Canada
This article relates to the criteria of language authenticity in historical Jesus research and inquires into the lingua franca of Je- sus’ social environment. It demonstrates via sociolinguistic principles that Palestine was a multilingual society, establishes that various so- cial groups necessitate the use of language varieties, and addresses the issue of language choice—the occasions and reasons multilingual people use their native tongue over and against their second language. The objective is to show in four “I have come” sayings in the Synop- tics that, with high probability, Jesus’ internal language was Aramaic, and his public language was Greek.
Keywords: Historical Jesus, Greek language, sociolinguistics, Mark 2:17, Mark 10:45, Luke 12:49–51, Matt 5:17
Steven E. Runge
Logos Bible Software | Stellenbosh University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
This study applies the cognitive model of Chafe and Givón, and the information-structure model of Lambrecht as applied by Levinsohn and Runge to the Markan explanation of the Parable of the Sower (4:14–20). The primary objective is to identify and analyze other linguistic devices, besides demonstratives, which might clarify the apparent prominence given to the unfruitful scatterings in Mark’s account. This study provides the necessary framework for comparing Mark’s pragmatic weighting of saliency to that found in Matthew and Luke’s accounts in order to determine whether Mark’s version is con-sistent with or divergent from the other traditions.
Keywords: saliency, information structure, Mark 4:14–20, Matt 13:19–23, Luke 8:11–15, οὗτος, ἐκεῖνος

Archaeology Magazine

TÜBINGEN, GERMANY—Impressions of string haGermany rope toolve been found on fired clay, and string has been depicted in Ice Age artwork, but scholars have thus far known little about how European hunter-gatherers produced rope. Now according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Tübingen and the University of Liège, Paleolithic hunter-gatherers may have used mammoth ivory tools to weave rope out of plant fibers. UPI reports that a team led by Nicholas Conard of the University of Tübingen found a 40,000-year-old tool in Hohle Fels Cave that had been carved with holes lined with spiral incisions. Veerle Rots of the University of Liège used replicas of the device to produce rope from plant fibers available near Hohle Fels. Similar tools have been found at Paleolithic sites in the past, but they were thought to be shaft-straighteners, artwork, or even musical instruments. To read about a Paleolithic masterpiece from the same region in Germany, go to "New Life for Lion Man."

Bonobo bacteria evolutionBERKELEY, CALIFORNIA—Research conducted by a team led by Andrew Moeller of the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that modern humans and the bacteria in their digestive tracts evolved together. The Guardian reports that Moeller and his team collected fecal samples from Tanzanian chimpanzees, Cameroonian gorillas, Congolese bonobos, and humans from Connecticut. They found that when two new species split from a common ancestor, at least two groups of gut bacteria did the same. “When there were no humans or gorillas, just ancestral African apes, they harbored gut bacteria. Then the apes split into different branches, and there was also a parallel divergence of different gut bacteria,” Moeller explained. He added that different strains of human gut bacteria could be used to reconstruct patterns of human migration. To read more, go to "Life (According to Gut Microbes)." 


Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Open Access Journal: CODEX – Revista de Estudos Clássicos

CODEX – Revista de Estudos Clássicos
ISSN 2176-1779
Cabeçalho da página
Codex - Revista de Estudos Clássicos é um espaço para a circulação dos trabalhos que se dediquem aos Estudos Clássicos.
Os leitores poderão acompanhar as pesquisas desenvolvidas por discentes de uma área que prospera largamente no Brasil. Poderão também entrar em contato com seus autores e com seus orientadores, para comentar os textos ou sugerir-lhes o que julgarem conveniente.
Codex - Revista discente de Estudos Clássicos enseja aos interessados um amplo mapeamento das pesquisas da área de Estudos Clássicos a partir do conhecimento mais aprofundado da formação e do desenvolvimento de seus pesquisadores.

A publicação preocupa-se em promover a percepção de que a interdisciplinaridade é intrínseca aos Estudos Clássicos. Assim, a Codex - Revista discente de Estudos Clássicos acolhe inclusive trabalhos de discentes - doutorandos, mestrandos e graduandos em Iniciação Científica - de Filosofia Antiga, Letras Clássicas, História Antiga e Arqueologia.


Ancient Peoples

Clay Bust of a Female Deity (perhaps Yakshi), 9 cm high (3 ½...

Clay Bust of a Female Deity (perhaps Yakshi), 9 cm high (3 ½ in)

India, Mauryan period, 3rd–2nd century B.C.

Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Heroic Age

Getting Medieval”: Medievalism in Contemporary Popular Culture
This conference, organized at the Jean-François Champollion National University Institute (“Champollion University”) in the historic episcopal city of Albi, France – site of the thirteenth-century Albigensian Crusades – will take place on 25-26 November 2016.  Please send proposals of 100-250 words for 20-minute papers (in English, French or Spanish) to along with a brief CV before 31 July 2016 for full consideration.

Today’s “pop” culture is rich with allusions to the Middle Ages, not only in literature and visual arts – as it always has been in past centuries (e.g., the pre-Raphaelites or Twain’s Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, Tolkien’s Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, etc.) – but also in graphic novels and comics, on the big screen and the little one, not to mention the computer screens of electronic gamers as well as amusement parks, festivals and fairs. 
But how much of what is presented in a medieval context – either as actual “remakes” of old accounts or simply loosely employing a medieval setting or theme – accurately reflects the Middle Ages, and to what extent do these medieval constructs change or distort the reality of the age? When changed, to what extent is the epoch romanticised as, for example, an idealized Camelot where “the rain may never fall till after sundown?” To what extent is it vilified, making the expression “to get medieval on [somebody]” suggest a horrific vengeance? How do these constructs inform our understanding of the Middle Ages, and how important is it (if at all) to be entirely accurate? Finally, to what extent do such alterations update the texts or tales, keeping them alive and evolving, and why is it a perennial favourite, replayed year after year, decade after decade, indeed, century after century?
This conference hopes to respond to some of these questions by opening a dialogue between various disciplines: literature, history, historical linguistics, visual arts, cinema, theatre, television, etc., in order to study the enduring popularity of medieval themes and the ways in which medieval tales and texts are transmitted, preserved, distorted, renewed and built upon in the creation of new, decidedly modern popular culture in Europe, North America and the world of the 21st century.
This conference hopes to explore ways in which medieval texts, tales and traditions are used (or abused!) and used to fashion entirely new works that ultimately form part of contemporary pop culture in its own right, not only in the modern age, but in ages past. It might also address ways in which authors from the Renaissance until now (e.g., Spenser, Shakespeare, Yeats, etc.) have contributed to our modern conception of the Middle Ages, both myth and reality.
Some aspects to consider might include the importance of accuracy in portrayals purportedly based on actual texts (such as the Vikings series, or various remakes of Beowulf), and to what extent is liberal treatment acceptable, even to be encouraged?  To what extent is received wisdom, often quite dubious, employed in original works with a medieval feeling or theme, though not necessarily a medieval setting like Game of Thrones or Harry Potter?
In addition to the works listed above, the conference is open to any proposition addressing the use of medieval works or themes in any aspect of popular culture in any subsequent age, leading to its entrenched place in the pop culture of today – not only in fiction and art, but in any form of entertainment or representation.  Finally, the value of both medieval literature and culture, as well as popular culture, and the interdependence of both, is to be explored.
The Linnean Society of London, in collaboration with the Transcribe Bentham initiative at University College London (UCL), is hosting a one-day conference on 10 October 2016 to showcase how innovative technology is being applied to the humanities and natural sciences.  The “Digital Toolbox” conference will demonstrate how researchers, curators and enthusiasts can use digital tools to explore historical and scientific material in new ways.

An example is the EU-funded READ project, which seeks to unlock complex handwritten material in archival collections, to automatically index digital images of text, and to teach computers how to transcribe handwritten text. Cutting-edge transcription technology developed as part of the READ project will be demonstrated and discussed.

The conference will be a platform to share ideas on the best means of exploiting complex research data and opening it up to a wider audience. We are delighted to welcome Melissa Terras, Professor of Digital Humanities at UCL as keynote speaker.

More details on the full programme will be available soon. 

There will be a small registration fee of £15 for the event.  This will cover tea/coffee, lunch and a wine reception.  Please find the registration form here:

Dr. Louise Seaward
Research Associate
Bentham Project, Faculty of Laws, University College London, Bidborough House, 38-50 Bidborough Street, London, WC1H 9BT

Tel: 020 3108 8397

Digital Medievalist --
Southern African Society for Medieval and Renaissance Studies Biennial Conference
26 – 28th August, 2016
We are pleased to announce that the 23rd biennial conference of SASMARS will be held at Mont Fleur in Stellenbosch, South Africa on 26 – 28th August 2016.
Texts and Transformations: Medieval and Early Modern Cultures
Medieval and Early Modern societies weathered various socio-cultural transformations, ranging from economic developments to religious conflicts, across a range of different geographies and in urban and rural spaces. How did poetry, theatre, prose, visual art, architecture, and other forms of art respond to such changes? How do we historically understand and assess various kinds of social transitions?
At this year’s SASMARS conference, Professor Carolyn Dinshaw (New York University), an acclaimed medievalist, will be our keynote speaker, and she will deliver the following keynote to the conference attendees:  
Black Skin, Green Masks: Medieval Foliate Heads, Racial Trauma, and Queer Worldmaking
Professor Dinshaw’s profile can be accessed at
The convener for the conference is Dr Derrick Higginbotham ( Any inquiries can be directed to him.
For the latest SASMARS Newsletter and information about previous SASMARS conferences, click on

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Extra Fingers and Toes Were Revered in Ancient Culture

In the great houses of Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, having an extra toe was one way to garner a lot of...

Mary Harrsch (Passionate About History)

New clue to the location of the USS Indianapolis

History resource article by Mary Harrsch © 2016 .

Survivors of the USS Indianapolis rescued by the USS Tranquility arrive at Guam
August 8, 1945.  Image courtesy of the U.S. Navy.
In the final days of the war, the U.S.S. Indianapolis completed a top secret mission to deliver components of the atomic bomb used in Hiroshima to U.S. forces in the theater. After dropping those components off at Tinian in the Marianas Islands, Indianapolis headed to Leyte, an island in the Philippines, when it was torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese submarine just after midnight on July 30, 1945. Around 800 of the ship’s 1,196 Sailors and Marines survived the sinking, but after four to five harrowing days in the water, suffering exposure, dehydration, drowning, and shark attacks, only 316 survived.
While reviewing the Navy’s holdings and other information related to Indianapolis, NHHC historian Richard Hulver, Ph.D., found a blog post and photo online that recounted the story of a World War II Sailor whose ship passed Indianapolis less than a day before the ship was sunk. This corroborated an account by Indianapolis Captain Charles McVay, III that his ship passed an unspecified LST approximately 11 hours prior to the sinking. Hulver located the Sailor’s service record from the National Personnel Records Center which identified the Sailor as a passenger on tank landing ship USS LST-779 during the period in which Indianapolis sank. That sent Hulver to the National Archives where LST-779’s deck logs confirmed the story.
 The meeting between Indianapolis and LST-779 has been seemingly overlooked in previous studies of Indianapolis.
Hulver continued, “The LST-779 data sheds new light on where Indianapolis was attacked and sunk.” This brings us closer to discovering the final resting place of the ship and many of her crew.
Although the location of Indianapolis is known to be in the Philippine Sea, two previous attempts to find the wreck have failed. In July–August 2001, an expedition sought to find the wreckage through the use of side-scan sonar and underwater cameras mounted on a remotely operated vehicle. Four Indianapolis survivors accompanied the expedition, which was not successful. In June 2005, a second expedition was mounted to find the wreck. National Geographic covered the story and released it in July. Submersibles were launched to find any sign of wreckage. The only objects ever found, which have not been confirmed to have belonged to Indianapolis, were numerous pieces of metal of varying size found in the area of the reported sinking position.
Hulver summarized the historical literature, conducted archival research, and prepared a report incorporating the new information gleaned from LST-779’s brief encounter with Indianapolis. NHHC’s summary was published online as part of a project to consolidate the entirety of NHHC’s holdings on Indianapolis into an easy-to-navigate, online resource ( prepared in advance of the 71st anniversary of the ship’s loss July 30. 
The USS Indianapolis National Memorial  was dedicated on 2 August 1995. It is located on the Canal Walk in Indianapolis. The heavy cruiser is depicted in limestone and granite and sits adjacent to the downtown canal. The crewmembers' names are listed on the monument, with special notations for those who lost their lives. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Archaeological News on Tumblr

DNA analyses reveal genetic identities of world's first farmers

Conducting the first large-scale, genome-wide analyses of ancient human remains from the Near East,...

Bill Caraher (The New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World)

Track Changes

Anyone interested in the impact of technology on our work as scholars and writers should read Matthew Kirschenbaum’s Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing (2016), and check out some supplemental material here. The book is not only entertaining to read, but it intersects with so many of the key issues facing our engagement with technology today, that it may well spawn hundreds of master’s theses and not a few dissertations. Kirschenbaum surveys the use of word processors in the literary community beginning in the late 1970s and concluding with their ubiquitous presence in the contemporary world. The book is full of room-sized IBMs, boxy Kaypros, glitchy Osbournes, and iconic computers from Wang and Apple which transformed the way that authors (and the rest of us) wrote. (The book evoked a good bit of nostalgia for me as I vividly remember writing in WordStar on a Kaypro II during middle school!). 

The book has so much to offer a careful reader that I can’t imaging writing anything approaching a full review. Unlike many books on media archaeology these days, Kirschenbaum’s book does not hit you in the face with a body of dense theory (although it is clear that the likes of Freidrich Kittler and other media theory darlings are just off stage) and instead tells engaging stories about authors’ engagement with word processors. Kirschenbaum’s stories explore the economy of writing and authors’ hopes for greater efficiency, the changing expectations of publishers, and need to facilitate collaborative writing at distance. He also unpacks the anxieties authors faced with adapting to new technologies from the fear of losing words and pages to the expense and complexity of purchasing (and using) a new machine in the early days of personal computing.

Here are few observation on a book that you should just go and read:

1. The Art of the Rewrite. As someone who generally writes on the screen and then revises on paper, I am a firm believer that writing is revision. One of the strands that runs through Kirschenbaum’s book is the way in which writing “in light on glass” transformed the work of revision from the painstaking task of retyping pages of text to revising words on the screen. I didn’t realize how early the “cut and paste” commands existed in word processing and how fundamental the ability to insert and move text around in a document was to the functioning of work processing programs. It had the potential to make revision process far more dynamic activity and to destabilize the integrity of the text throughout the writing process. I found myself deeply curious about how authors understood their manuscripts at various phases of the revision process.

Did the ease with which even the earliest word processors allowed texts to be reorganize lead writers to think about their texts differently? I was particularly intrigued by the idea that the ease with which fragmentation that was possible with digitally produced texted encouraged more modular writing processes and echoed the “cut-up” practices associated with, say, William Burroughs. I have considered whether the our increasing use of digital tools in archaeology has a similar tendency to fragment the site. 

2. Writing is Work. Kirschenbaum did a remarkable job emphasizing how valuable word processing was to writers who wrote massive quantities of books to make a living. Jerry Pournelle was among the earliest adopters of a word process and credited it with a massive increase in efficiency. Isaac Asimov was a somewhat later adopter of a personal computer and word processor, but he likewise enjoyed improvements in the tidiness of his manuscripts and his ability to put words on the page quickly. 

By emphasizing the needs of this kind of writer, Kirschenbaum shifts the emphasis from the author as artist to author as self-employed worker in words. The word processor goes from a machine that risks compromising delicate creative processes to a boon to the real work of authors for whom word count, deadlines, and efficiency matter. Of course, writers never work in a vacuum. Kirschenbaum considers the secretaries, assistants, typists, spouses, and even publishers who worked alongside authors to make manuscripts into books. There is, for example, a blatantly gendered aspect to the spread of the word processor as it was marketed to administrative assistants, typists, and secretaries who were predominantly hwomen. The word processor, in this context, moves beyond the writerly task of the author and mediates between the various actors involved in the writing as work. As a device, the word processor intersected with the social, economic, and even personal roles of everyone involved in the creative process. 

3. Writing Material. Throughout the book, there is this delicate thread of that emphasizes the materiality of the writing process. The feeling of the keyboard, for example, was a concern for writers who were sometimes transition from the rather unforgiving keys of a manual typewriter. The size and resolution of the screen also shaped how writers engaged their texts with the limited number of lines on the screen even encouraged one author to write in shorter paragraphs.

Some of the early word processors took up entire rooms and others took pride of place on desks, living rooms, and writing rooms. Artifacts from early word processing, including word processors themselves, have filled museums and archives and communicated their materiality as effectively as typewriters and stacks of manuscript pages have represented the output of authors using more analogue tools. Just as well-worn ribbons preserve traces of an author’s writing, so disks of all sizes and shape have come to stand in for the a writer’s work. Kirschenbaum and the authors themselves dwell intermittently on how the metal boxes and magnetic disks and tapes form an intimate part of the writing process.

Any number of these topics – and many more throughout the book – would reward further exploration, research, and narrating, but Kirschenbaum does a nice job of presenting a sufficiently sweeping overview of the history of word processing to open doors. For my interest in the digital tools used in archaeology, his work is decisive in making clear that word processors are not simply tools that writers use dispassionately to perform their tasks, but cogs in a larger literature machine (my term) that extends from the creative idea to the published work. The ambivalence of many authors in adopting new tools was a not a testimony to a kind of luddism, but rather a reasoned skepticism that ranged from concerns about disrupting honed creative processes to the learning curve dealing with new technologies. The adoption of digital tools in both writing and archaeology transformed the social landscape of these practice because these tools mediate between various individuals with various skill sets required to produce a final product. Kirschenbaum’s work offers a kind of history and ethnography of writing practice at the dawn of the digital age. It would be quite valuable for some eager soul to consider the dawn of digital practices in archaeology the same way. 

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

CEFAEL: Collections de l'Ecole française d'Athènes en ligne

[This is an update to the first entry in AWOL (1 April 2008). Updated 25 July 2016]

CEFAEL: Collections de l'Ecole française d'Athènes en ligne
This remarkable collection includes more than 450 volumes. CEFAEL is organized into eighteen series covering the full range of publications of the French School in Athens, including their journal: Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique (BCH) (1877-2000):
  • 1
    La plus ancienne des collections, fondée en partenariat avec l'École française de Rome pour accueillir les thèses et travaux des anciens membres de ces deux institutions. Paraît depuis 1874.
  • 2
    La plus ancienne des collections, fondée en partenariat avec l'École française de Rome pour accueillir les thèses et travaux des anciens membres de ces deux institutions. Paraît depuis 1874.
    69 books
  • 3
    Périodique annuel constitué de deux fascicules semestriels : le premier fascicule contient exclusivement des articles concernant tous les aspects de la civilisation grecque, de la préhistoire à la fin de l'époque byzantine ; le second fascicule regroupe, outre quelques articles, les rapports annuels sur les travaux conduits en Grèce et hors de Grèce par l'EfA et des organismes qui collaborent avec l'EfA, ainsi que la chronique de toutes les fouilles effectuées sur sol grec par l'ensemble des organismes grecs et étrangersParaît depuis 1877 ; il succède au Bulletin de l'École française d'Athènes (1868-1871)
    161 books
  • 4
    Périodique annuel qui recense les chercheurs travaillant sur la Grèce moderne et contemporaine et présente leurs productions scientifiques. Paru entre 1996 et 2002 (6 volumes).
    5 books
  • 5
    Série destinée à accueillir les travaux de la Section des études sur la société grecque moderne et contemporaine. Paraît depuis 2000. Remplacé en 2009 par la collection Mondes méditerranéens et balkaniques.
    3 books
  • 6
    Série consacrée à la publication finale des inscriptions découvertes sur le site de Delphes. Paraît depuis 1977.
    3 books
  • 7
    Série consacrée à la publication finale des fouilles et des recherches menées par l'EfA sur l'île de Chypre, notamment à Amathonte. Paraît depuis 1983.
    10 books
  • 8
    Série consacrée à la publication finale des fouilles et des recherches menées par l'EfA en Crète, essentiellement à Malia. Parait depuis 1928.
    28 books
  • 9
    Collection destinée à regrouper les corpus d'inscriptions ne se rapportant pas directement aux sites traditionnels de l'EfA ou des recueils de choix d'inscriptions. Paraît depuis 1992.
    4 books
  • 10
    Série consacrée à la publication finale des fouilles et des recherches menées par l'EfA dans le Péloponnèse, notamment à Argos et à Gortys d'Arcadie. Paraît depuis 1956.
    11 books
  • 11
    Série consacrée à la publication finale des fouilles et des recherches menées par l'EfA sur l'île de Thasos. Paraît depuis 1944.
    10 books
  • 12
    Série consacrée à la publication finale des fouilles et des recherches menées par l'EfA sur le site de Délos. Paraît depuis 1909.
    32 books
  • 13
    Série consacrée à la publication finale des fouilles et des recherches menées par l'EfA sur le site de Delphes. Paraît depuis 1902.
    33 books
  • 14
    Sont regroupés sous cette appellation une quarantaine d'ouvrages publiés par l'EfA, dans la plupart des cas en co-édition avec d'autres institutions.
    13 books
  • 15
    Publications de travaux et recherches menés en collaboration entre le Service des antiquités grec et l'EfA. Paraît depuis 1990.
    3 books
  • 16
    Inaugurée avec la première édition du Guide de Délos en 1965, la série comprend des guides archéologiques consacrés aux sites explorés par l'EfA, dont certains sont traduits en grec, en anglais et en allemand.
    15 books
  • 17
    Série dans laquelle sont publiés soit des actes de colloques, la plupart organisés sous l'égide de l'EfA, soit des monographies concernant d'autres sites que les sites traditionnels de fouilles de l'EfA. Paraît depuis 1973.
    35 books
  • 18
    Volumes de tables recensant la matière publiée dans les volumes du Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique de 1877 à 1970, selon une table des auteurs, un index des matières et un index épigraphique.
    3 books
  • 19
    Série destinée à accueillir les thèses et travaux des anciens membres étrangers et d'autres chercheurs, remplacée dès 1978 par les Suppléments au Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique. Paraît depuis 1929.
    20 books
See also the Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique at Persée

AMIR: Access to Mideast and Islamic Resources

Field Guide to Jordan
Field Guide to Jordan
 "Field Guide to Jordan, a comprehensive guide with beautiful photographs and concise descriptions of Jordan's diverse wonders. This compact guide is for locals and tourists alike to identify, learn about, and enjoy:

• Jordan's wildlife habitats, parks and reserves, canyons, and deserts;
• a large selection of Jordan's animals, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and fish;
• a large selection of Jordan's plants, including trees, flowers, and shrubs;
• Jordan's archaeological treasures and touristic sites, including Petra, Jerash, desert castles, and prehistoric sites;
• Jordan's fascinating geological history, including the Great Rift Valley, volcanos, rocks, and much more"

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

École française d'Athènes: Archives manuscrites en ligne

École française d'Athènes: Archives manuscrites en ligne

Le servi
ce des archives met progressivement en ligne les carnets de fouilles et de relevés d'inscriptions qu'il conserve dans les séries géographiques.


Série « Argos »

Journal de fouilles d'Argos (1902-1930).
Auteur : W. Vollgraff. Cote : ARGOS 2-C ARG 124.

Série « Asie Mineure »

Carnet de fouilles de Claros (1950-1952).
Auteur : R. Martin. Cote : AS 2-C 28.
Auteur : R. Martin. Cote : AS 2-C 31.
Carnet de fouilles de Claros (1956-1957).
Auteur : R. Martin. Cote : AS 2-C 33.
Carnet de fouilles de Claros (1958-1959).
Auteur : R. Martin. Cote : AS 2-C 36.
Carnet de fouilles de Claros (1961).
Auteur : R. Martin. Cote : AS 2-C 40.

Série « Délos »

Carnet de fouilles de Délos (1877).
Auteur : Th. Homolle. Cote : DÉLOS 2-C DEL 2.
Carnet de fouilles de Délos (mars-juil. 1877).
Auteur : Th. Homolle. Cote : DÉLOS 2-C DEL 3.
Carnet de fouilles de Délos (mai-juin 1878).
Auteur : Th. Homolle. Cote : DÉLOS 2-C DEL 4.
Carnet de fouilles de Délos (juin-sept. 1878).
Auteur : Th. Homolle. Cote : DÉLOS 2-C DEL 5.
Carnet de fouilles de Délos (1879).
Auteur : Th. Homolle. Cote : DÉLOS 2-C DEL 6.
Carnet de fouilles de Délos (1879).
Auteur : Th. Homolle. Cote : DÉLOS 2-C DEL 7.
Carnet de fouilles de Délos (1880).
Auteur : Th. Homolle. Cote : DÉLOS 2-C DEL 8.
Carnet de fouilles de Délos (1903).
Auteur : A. Jardé. Cote : DÉLOS 2-C DEL 17.
Carnet de fouilles de Délos (1904).
Auteur : A. Jardé. Cote : DÉLOS 2-C DEL 25.

Série « Delphes »

Journal de la grande fouille de Delphes (1892-1901).
Auteurs : L. Couve, É. Bourguet, P. Perdrizet, P. Jouguet, G. Colin, P. Fournier, J. Laurent et D. Brizemur.
Cote : DELPHES 2-C DPH 23.

Série « Philippes »

Carnet de fouilles de Philippes et de Dikili Tash (1920).
Auteur : L. Renaudin. Cote : PHILIPPES 2-C PHI 8 A.
Carnet de fouilles de Philippes (1922).
Auteur : L. Renaudin. Cote : PHILIPPES 2-C PHI 16 A.
Carnet de relevés d’inscriptions et de dessins de blocs effectués à Philippes et à Thasos (1927).
Auteur : P. Collart. Cote : PHILIPPES 2-C PHI 23.
Auteur : P. Collart. Cote : PHILIPPES 2-C PHI 24.
Carnet de fouilles de Philippes (1930).
Auteur : P. Collart. Cote : PHILIPPES 2-C PHI 27.
Auteur : P. Collart. Cote : PHILIPPES 2-C PHI 28.
Carnet de fouilles de Philippes (1933).
Auteur : P. Collart. Cote : PHILIPPES 2-C PHI 30.

Séries « Thasos » et « Thrace »

Voyage dans l’archipel thrace (1910).
Auteurs : Ch. Picard et A.-J. Reinach. Cote : THRACE 2.
Auteur : A.-J. Reinach. Cote : THASOS 2-C THA 2.
Carnet de fouilles de Thasos (1911).
Auteur : Ch. Picard. Cote : THASOS 2-C THA 3.
Carnet de fouilles de Thasos (1911).
Auteur : Ch. Avezou. Cote : THASOS 2-C THA 4.
Carnet de fouilles de Thasos (1911).
Auteur : A.-J. Reinach. Cote : THASOS 2-C THA 5.
Carnet de fouilles de Thasos (1912).
Auteur : Ch. Picard. Cote : THASOS 2-C THA 6.
Carnet de fouilles de Thasos (1912-1913).
Auteur : Ch. Avezou. Cote : THASOS 2-C THA 7-8.
Carnet de fouilles de Thasos (1913).
Auteur : Ch. Picard. Cote : THASOS 2-C THA 9.
Carnet de fouilles de Thasos VI-VII (1913).
Auteur : Ch. Avezou. Cote : THASOS 2-C THA 11.

Carnet de fouilles de Thasos XI (1913).
Auteur : Ch. Avezou. Cote : THASOS 2-C THA 10.


James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

A Novel Approach to Religion and Science Fiction

I’m in the process of finalizing the reading list for my course on Religion and Science Fiction. I found I could not choose from among the many novel options that I considered for the course. In the past I’ve had one novel and the rest of the course short stories and articles. This time I’m just [Read More...]

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Open Access Journal: Old Testament Essays

[First posted in AWOL 10 November 2010. Updated (new URLs) 23 July 2016]

Old Testament Essays
On-line version ISSN: 2312-3621
Print version ISSN: 1010-9919
Old Testament Essays 
Welkom by Old Testament Essays, die amptelike joernaal van die OTWSA. Hierdie webtuiste dien as platform vir die instuur en portuurbeoordeling ("peer reviewing") van artikels. Sedert middel-2014 word dié prosesse volledig aanlyn bedryf. As u nog nie met hierdie stelsel gewerk het nie, laai gerus die gidse hieronder af; dit verduidelik die gebruik van die stelsel in eenvoudige terme. Let wel: weens tegniese beperkings is dié stelsel slegs in Engels beskikbaar.
LET WEL: U kan meer lees oor OTE se redaksionele beleid en riglyne op die "About"-bladsy.
Welcome to Old Testament Essays, the official journal of the OTSSA. This website serves as platform for the submission and peer reviewing of articles. Since mid-2014, these processes are fully handled online. If you are new to this system, please read our guidelines and download our guides below; they explain the use of the system in easy terms.
NOTE: You can read more about OTE's editorial policies and guidelines on the "About" page.

Vol.    Number


The Parthenon Sculptures and the European Court of Human Rights - Although one case may have been deemed inadmissible, this does not mean that Greece should give up legal action to secure return of the Marbles

I posted last week about the rejection of the case for the return of the Parthenon Marbles brought in the European Court of Human Rights by the Athenians’ Association. As I pointed out then, the inadmissibility was down to technical issues with the claim – not any sort of judgement on Greece’s right to ownership of the sculptures.

Since then, George Vardas from Australians for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures has nwritten a much more detailed summary of the legal issues involved behind the inadmissibility.

The European Court of Human Rights Building in Strasbourg

The European Court of Human Rights Building in Strasbourg

George Vardas (by Email)

The Parthenon Sculptures and the European Court of Human Rights
George Vardas

In a recent interview regarding the Parthenon Sculptures, the Director of the Acropolis Museum, Professor Dimitris Pandermalis, stated that “their return is a matter of cultural morality” and stressed that “there are human rights, but great monuments also have their own rights”. He was referring to the fundamental rights of integrity: “you cannot mutilate a great monument”.

So what do we make of the recent dismissal by the European Court of Human Rights of an application brought by an Athenian association alleging that the continued retention of the Elgin collection in the British Museum infringes certain provisions of the European Convention of Human Rights?

To understand the decision of the Court, let me first give a brief overview of the claims made by the Athenians’ Association (Σύλλογος των Αθηναίων) in the broader context of the rights afforded by the Convention.

In essence, the applicant sought to invoke the jurisdiction of the Court as an association representing the citizens of Athens whose rights in relation to the Parthenon sculptures were claimed to have been violated from the time that Lord Elgin’s men removed them from the Acropolis and shipped them to England.

The Association alleged that its members’ rights had been infringed in a number of ways but essentially its core complaint was the infringement of the right of Athenians to enjoy their historic possessions, protected under Article I of the First Protocol of the European Convention. The retention of the Elgin collection in London constituted, it was claimed, an interference with their proprietary right to access to the whole of the monument. The Association also claimed a breach of Article 10 – the right to freedom of expression and to take part in the exchange of cultural, political and social information – which arguably includes the right to seek historical truth in terms of access to original sources for legitimate historical research. Finally, given the British decision to refuse to participate in mediation offered by UNESCO, the Association argued that that refusal amounted to a breach of Article 13 providing for the right to an effective (but not necessarily judicial) remedy in the case of arguable complaints under the Convention.

At the outset, it is important to note that this application was filed by a private association, and not by the Greek State. Most cases that come before the European Court of Human Rights are brought by individuals, usually against their own state, and they have to satisfy often stringent admissibility requirements before the case can actually proceed to be heard on its merits. The Court can declare inadmissible any individual application if it considers that the application is incompatible with the provisions of the Convention or its Protocols, in terms of inadmissibility ratione temporis and inadmissibility ratione materiae.

In terms of ratione temporis, the Convention is not binding on the State in relation to any act or fact which took place before the Convention came into force (1953) unless there is a continuing violation which originated before that date and still persists. Here, Court decided that it lacked temporal jurisdiction because the acts complained of occurred before the ratification of the Convention by the UK although the Court did appear to countenance the possibility of the argument that there is a continuing violation from when Elgin took the sculptures to the present day. Relevantly, the Court has extended jurisdiction in several cases concerning the right of property such as the continuing unlawful occupation by the navy of land belonging to the applicants, without compensation (Papamichalopoulos and Others v. Greece) and the denial of access and interference with the rights to the applicant’s property in occupied Northern Cyprus (Loizidou v. Turkey).

The compatibility ratione materiae with the Convention of an application or complaint derives from the Court’s subject matter jurisdiction; a complaint is inadmissible if it relates to a right not provided by the Convention. in this instance, the Court was not satisfied that the applicant had established a right as an association representing a group of alleged victims to have the sculptures returned to Greece or to require a contracting State (the UK) to participate in mediation.

What the Court left open was the question of whether there is a general right to protection of cultural heritage.

Does this decision mean that the Greeks have lost their marbles, both legally and metaphorically? Although in this writer’s view the answer is no, the decision serves as a timely reminder that the issue of the Parthenon Marbles will never go away. Indeed, as the cultural heritage lawyer, Derek Fincham has written, we need to have a more sophisticated conversation about this issue. When we speak of rights – cultural or otherwise – it is important to reflect that if individuals attempted to do what Elgin did 200 years ago they would find themselves in violation of domestic and international cultural heritage law.

Andre Malraux in Voices of Silence wrote about the way in which objects of the past were stripped of their worlds and resettled chronologically in the land of art (in this case, a so-called universal museum in London). The Parthenon sculptures were conceived and designed and executed as integral parts of the Parthenon temple. They acquired their real conceptual meaning only in their natural and historic environment as a unified whole and, as such, form an indissoluble link with the cultural heritage of Greece. They are the keys to Greece’s heritage.

And yet – as Geoffrey Robertson QC has written – that country’s enjoyment of the monuments is rendered ineffectual, if not severely diminished, by the continued retention of almost half the surviving sculptures in the British Museum. Every country is entitled to possess cultural property which enhances its own identity as well as enable an informed understanding and appreciation for the culture that produced it.

In summary, it is apparent the Athenians Association’s application was dismissed at a preliminary stage of the proceedings and on a clear jurisdictional point arising from the association’s lack of standing in relation to the rights it asserted had been violated under the European Convention. There was no real hearing on the merits and the decision, if anything, reinforces the clarion call for the Greek State to consider instituting legal proceedings against the UK – probably in the International Court of Justice – based on the evolving principles of customary international law in the area of cultural property heritage and cultural identity.

Given that the Acropolis monuments are also included on the World Heritage List of UNESCO, it can be argued that the Greek State has an obligation, as well as a right, to preserve the integrity of these structures. The Parthenon is emblematic of a country whose meaning is often found in its ruins. As one author has astutely observed, “when we contemplate ruins, we contemplate our future”.

That future lies in the reunification of all the known surviving Parthenon sculptures in Athens.

The post The Parthenon Sculptures and the European Court of Human Rights appeared first on Elginism.

Virginia L. Campbell (Pompeian Connections)

F is for Festius

Whilst finishing corrections to the manuscript that became my book, I discovered that one of the funerary inscriptions carved into the city wall in an area of poor burials between the Porta di Nola and the Porta di Sarno had been misread. CIL X 8351 was read as Aulus Fistius, but is in fact, Aulus Festius. The ‘i’ is actually an ‘e’.

Photo 1.JPG

The name ‘Fistius’ doesn’t actually occur anywhere else in the Roman world, whereas Festius does – including in Pompeii. There are a series of dipinti (CIL IV 1182-1184) that record a man named Numerius Festius Ampliatus, who was a lanista, organising gladiatorial games. The most famous of the texts naming Ampliatus was written in charcoal on a tomb at the Porta di Ercolano. As this dipinto was recorded alongside an elaborate stucco decoration of games, gladiators, and wild animals, his games are believed to have been quite the spectacle.


The article that discusses my findings and the evidence for the mis-reading of the name of Festius has been published in the latest volume of Epigraphica. If anyone would like a PDF of the article, please email me here.

Tagged: Alphabet, CIL, Dipinti, Epigraphy, gladiators, Names, Pompeii, Tombs

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Una sfida tra 15 team, 24 ore a disposizione e un’idea digitale, per la cultura, da sviluppare. È Creathon®, la maratona di creatività per l’innovazione della cultura giunta quest’anno alla sua terza edizione. Dal 25 luglio sono aperte le iscrizioni!

Ben Blackwell (Dunelm Road)

Participating in the Righteousness of God: Scope

Now that I’ve described the rationale for my in-progress book, Participating in the Righteousness of God: Justification in Pauline Theology, I’m laying out below the goals and scope of my study:

Part 1: Historical Framework
To set the stage for a reevaluation of Paul’s theology of justification, I demonstrate how historical frameworks influence contemporary biblical interpretive models. In particular, I establish how Protestant readings of justification are reactionary against Catholic theology and therefore explicitly frame justification in light of Christology and faith to the exclusion of the Holy Spirit and love. Rather than being overly influenced by post-Enlightenment anthropological conceptions, I also show the need to incorporate more a more robust pre-modern understanding of the porous self, making explicit use of Charles Taylor’s work on the buffered and the porous self.

Part II: Reading Paul
In distinction to post-Reformation readings of justification which place Christ over the Spirit and faith over love, my exegetical analyses demonstrate that Paul intertwines the Spirit and Christ in his employment of justification language in key texts—namely, Galatians 2–4; 2 Corinthians 3–5; Romans 1–8. Thus, my reading of Paul shows the coherence of this doctrine with the transformative participation of believers in the triune God. After establishing the relationship of participation and justification through close readings of specific passages, I then treat a variety of participatory topics that relate to justification—namely, suffering/cruciformity, the community (adoption, covenant), and sanctification/ethics.

Part III: Theological Framework
To conclude the monograph, I explore a participatory reading of justification through the lens of the fifth century patristic theologian Cyril of Alexandria, showing that readers not limited by the later Protestant-Catholic categories offer a similar reading as my own. With this model in mind, I then provide an essay that explores justification in light of theosis, an important and growing topic of study arising from wider ecumenical discussions.

This monograph does not attempt to answer all the opposing positions regarding the topic of justification. Rather, it provides a focused and sustained reading of Paul that demonstrates how justification serves as one primary way that he develops his doctrine of a transformative participation in the triune God.

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Compitum - publications

S. Bell et A. A. Carpino (éd.), A Companion to the Etruscans


Sinclair Bell et Alexandra A. Carpino (éd.), A Companion to the Etruscans, Chichester-Malden [MA], 2016.

Éditeur : Wiley-Blackwell
Collection : Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World
528 pages
ISBN : 978-1-118-35274-8
120 £

Introduction xxii
Alexandra A. Carpino and Sinclair Bell

Part I History 1

1 Beginnings: Protovillanovan and Villanovan Etruria 3
Simon Stoddart

2 Materializing the Etruscans: The Expression and Negotiation of Identity during the Orientalizing, Archaic, and Classical Periods 15
Skylar Neil

3 The Romanization of Etruria 28
Letizia Ceccarelli

Lire la suite...

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

Neglecting Italian Scholarship

While in Italy, I had a conversation with a scholar from Sicily about the tendency for English-speaking scholars to ignore scholarship in languages such as Italian and Spanish. While I’ve tried to make a point of noticing, reading, and/or buying scholarly books that relate to my field written in Romanian (scholarship in which language is even [Read More...]

Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

[VIDEO] Le fasi del restauro dei putti in fasce di Andrea della Robbia

L'Opificio delle Pietre Dure di Firenze ha pubblicato nella propria gallery su Youtube un video che mostra tutte le fasi dell'intervento di restauro dei Putti in fasce di Andrea della Robbia che dal 1487 adornano la facciata del Brunelleschi dell'Istituto degli Innocenti.

Jim Davila (

Theologisches Wörterbuch zu den Qumrantexten. Band 3

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Gnosis, vol. 1 (2016)

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Journal for Semitics

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Yahrzeit of Ha'ARI

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Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

Il restauro dell'architettura moderna, corso di aggiornamento professionale

L’Ordine e la Fondazione Architetti Firenze in collaborazione con l’Associazione Assorestauro organizza un corso di aggiornamento professionale sul restauro dell'architettura moderna, un evento di formazione e riflessione su questo specifico aspetto del restauro architettonico.

Jim Davila (

Dating the Sibylline Oracles

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Bryn Mawr Classical Review

2016.07.31: Memory in Ancient Rome and Early Christianity

Review of Karl Galinsky, Memory in Ancient Rome and Early Christianity. Oxford; New York: 2016. Pp. xiv, 406. $135.00. ISBN 9780198744764.

2016.07.30: Law and Ethics in Greek and Roman Declamation. Law &amp; literature, 10

Review of Eugenio Amato, Francesco Citti, Bart Huelsenbeck, Law and Ethics in Greek and Roman Declamation. Law & literature, 10. Berlin; München; Boston: 2015. Pp. vi, 355. €119.95. ISBN 9783110401783.

Zenobia: Empress of the East (Judith Weingarten)


Meet Lady Sattjeni, daughter of Governor Sarenput the younger.

I'd love to be able to tell you what she looked like ... but, really, I can't. Her funerary mask (left) was too badly damaged. Anyway, the mask was never intended to be a true likeness. Portraiture was not the point.

Still, it would have at least shown us how she would have liked to be remembered. 

Even without seeing her face, however, the archaeologists who discovered her tomb earlier this year knew right away that she was a very important and noble woman.

The excavation was led by Prof. Alejandro Jiménez-Serrano from the University of Jaén in Spain.  Work began in 2013, when:
... we discovered the upper part of a chamber, which belonged to a tomb that was probably quarried in the Byzantine period (fifth century A.D.).... [We] thought that the area was disturbed. However, that chamber at the end was not a chamber, but the beginning of a shaft. During this year [2016], we began the excavation of the shaft, and the more that we excavated, the more we got the sensation that a great discovery might appear ... and it appeared! The worker called me, and I went to the bottom of the shaft, where there was a tiny aperture. With a torch, I could have a look inside....

The coffin which he saw through the hole belonged to a woman named Sattjeni, or 'Lady Sattjeni' as she would have been called, for she was of noble birth.

She announced herself (left) to the world of the dead as 

Sattjeni, Daughter of the Governor [of Elephantine]

Happily, this woman was known from other local contexts, which allowed the archaeologists to reconstruct the genealogy of the rulers of Elephantine during the later Twelfth Dynasty -- and to pinpoint Sattjeni's pivotal role in that history.

 So, first, a little background on her family and home.

The lady was buried in the necropolis at Qubbet el-Hawa (above) across the Nile from Elephantine (modern Aswan; Ta-Seti: 'land of the bow' in pharaonic times); which
was the southernmost province of Egypt.*  This is the cemetery where the governors of Elephantine built their tombs. During the 12th Dynasty (ca. 1991-1802 BCE), they constructed huge funerary complexes for themselves and their closest relatives.  Members of their courts (officials and servants) were interred nearby in smaller and less-decorated tombs. 

A Local Dynasty

Governors ranked just below the pharaoh's royal family and, indeed, they often behaved like little kings within their own territory.  Today, we would call them princes -- even though (in theory at least) each and every governor was appointed by the pharaoh and served at his pleasure.  In that sense, the office, with its princely title, wasn't hereditary.  However, the royal Residence at Memphis was far away to the north, and the 'law of political inertia' was strong, so soon, very early in the 12th Dynasty, a local dynasty arose in Elephantine to govern the province.  The office didn't always pass from father to son, but it did stay within the family. 

Elephantine was a boom town at the time, profiting from Egyptian expansion across the southern border into Nubia.  The province was the jumping-off point for military expeditions -- usually aimed against the warlike Nubian kingdom centred on Kerma, south of the third cataract on the Nile. The governors of Elephantine led these expeditions; on their return, some of the booty and tribute was bound to stick locally.  Nubia was also the transit point for African products like gold, ivory, and slaves -- almost all of which were imported into Egypt via Elephantine.  

Who was Who?


The founder of the Elephantine dynasty was Sarenput the elder (left) who built himself a gigantic and gorgeously decorated tomb at Qubbet el-Hawa, one of the largest, most beautiful non-royal tombs found anywhere during the Middle Kingdom.  Sarenput's elevation to high office was due to his family's close ties with the royal court in Memphis. The pharaoh at that time was Senusret I (1971-1926 BCE).  We know, for example, that he gave Sarenput a gift of 300 servants and also sent royal craftsmen to help build the governor's tomb. 

In addition to important religious functions,** Sarenput accumulated political power: he was Chancellor of Lower Egypt (the southern half of Egypt), Governor of the Foreign Lands, and Chief of the Egyptianized Nubians (the subdued populations between the first and second cataract) in the lands then being conquered by Pharaoh Senusret. 

A biographical inscription in Sarenput's tomb shows how he vaunted himself: 

Sarenput I and his wife (?)
I have built my tomb to show my gratitude to the king  [Senusret I]. His majesty made me great in the land. 

I have overturned very ancient rules and it resulted that I reached the sky in an instant....

His Majesty saw to it that I could have a good life. I was full of joy at having succeeded in reaching the sky, my head touched the firmament, I grazed the stars. I appeared like a star. I danced like the planets, my town celebrated and my troops were jubilant.


His grandson, Sarenput the younger, was the next governor.  Sarenput II's mother was Hetepet, a daughter of the elder Sarenput, and his father was a man named Khema. Unfortunately, we know nothing more about Khema; perhaps he died quite young.***

Sarenput II was governor for at least 40 years. In addition to a host of religious functions,** he also served as Chancellor of Lower Egypt and boasted two further military distinctions: "King's confidant [who is in the heart of the King] in marshalling troops to the districts of the South", and Chief of the Army in the south. 

Sarenput I
Sarenput II's tomb has been aptly described as "an architectural jewel".  His titles and functions are displayed on the tomb's rear walls (left, and below left). Strikingly, his second name was Nubkaurenakht ("Strong is Nubkaure"), the same as the throne name of Pharaoh Amenemhat II (1929-1895 BCE). This name appears twice on the wall as a cartouche of the reigning Pharaoh -- an extraordinary demonstration of the power that Sarenput considered himself to hold in his province.  

This painting is in the focal point of the tomb chapel.  It shows the seated governor extending his hand towards a table piled-up with offerings.  His son, Ankhu, stands behind the table and presents his father with an open lotus flower, symbol of rebirth.  Ankhu's small size is conventional: he must have already been of age since, as the painting implies, he was in charge of his father's funeral.  Adulthood is confirmed by the next painting in the rear chapel, on which Ankhu is given the title of  'Governor'.

Sarenput I, Ankhu, and wife (?)
This shows Sarenput holding the reed and sceptre symbols of power as he advances, with Ankhu behind him, towards a woman, presumably his wife (the name is lost; her title is 'priestess in the temple of Satet' [goddess of Elephantine]).  On the opposite wall, the governor's mother, Hetepet, also a 'priestess in the temple of Satet', sits before a full offering table. She is portrayed in a much choicer spot and larger than her presumed daughter-in-law, which suggests an altogether higher status. Very possibly, her distinction reflects her importance as the elder Sarenput's daughter. It might also mean that she was the direct source of her son's rank and office.  In other words, in this case at least, the office may have descended through the female line.  

And therein lies a tale. 

For we now have rare insight into what happened next. 

Heqaib II, son of Sathathor
Ankhu, the son, described as 'Governor' in his father's tomb, disappears from history.  The silence of the sources probably means that he died not long after his father.  Lacking other male heirs, this untimely death provoked a dynastic crisis in the ruling family which was only resolved when a man named Heqaib (II) became Governor.  We know very little about Heqaib II [don't worry about Heqaib I: he lived much earlier, and doesn't enter our story].  His parents are named as Khunes and Sathathor -- neither of whom were part of Sarenput II's immediate family. Thus, Heqaib II became governor not because of any blood ties to the ruling family, but because of his spouse. 

For, in addition to the son who died so young, Sarenput II had two daughters. The elder was Gaut-Anuket (an unusual name inherited from her great-great-great grandmother [grandmother of Sarenput I!]), and it was she who married Heqaib II -- thus raising him to the highest position in the province.  

In effect, he married the boss' daughter.

Their son, Heqaib-Ankh, would become Heqaid II's successor as governor -- but that event was still far in the future.  Now, while Heqaib-Ankh was still a child, Gaut-Anuket suddenly died and the dynasty again faced a crisis.

Perhaps Heqaid II was dynastically weak without his wife. Perhaps the Sarenput clan had another candidate for governor, or one might imagine that other clans of Elephantine were vieing for the highest office. We simply don't know.  But the next move was simply extraordinary: Sarenput II's younger daughter rode to his rescue.  She married her elder sister's widower, thereby restoring his legitimacy and underwriting his power.  

That slightly incestuous younger sister was Sattjeni. 

Yes, that's the Sattjeni we want: Sattjeni V (as she is known to Egyptologists).

 ... daughter of one governor, now wife of another and soon to be mother of two more. 

Lots of blue blood flowed in her veins.  And her bloodline was unusually pure: as a granddaughter of Sarenput II's mother, Hetepet, she was also in the direct female line of descent from the dynasty's founder, Sarenput I.  So, just as Hetepet may have passed the office of governor to her son, and Heqaid II reached the top through marriage to Sarenput II's elder daughter, Gaut-Anuket, just so, his second marriage to Sattjeni kept him in office.  Their son, in turn, survived to become governor, for once a direct male heir.

It certainly looks like power in Elephantine, in the absence of direct male heirs, descended through the female line, just as it did in the royal pharaonic family. 

Who they married would rule.

Sattjeni has now become the pivotal figure in the dynasty.  We'll read more about what she did in 'What Happened Next?', the second part of this post.  Believe me, there's a real surprise at the end.

* Egyptologists call the provinces nomes (after the later Greek name) so their governors are known as nomarchs.

** The governors of Elephantine had, of course, major religious functions and religious offices.  The main local deities whom they served were Khnum, god of the first cataract and the annual flood; his consort Satet, Mistress of Elephantine; and the deified Old Kingdom expedition leader, Heqaib, who was a kind of local 'patron saint'.  It is only to keep this blog post within reasonable bounds -- and not because it is unimportant -- that I omit any discussion of their religious titles, duties, and offerings.

*** Khema possibly served very briefly as governor between the two Sarenputs. One imposing, still unexplored early 12th Dynasty tomb in the Qubbet el-Hawa cemetery (QH 32) might belong to him or to another important yet-to-be-identified figure.


PROYECTO QUBBET EL-HAWA (Universidad de Jaén).  J.C. Sánchez-León & A. Jiménez-Serrano, 'Sattjeni: Daughter, Wife and Mother of the Governors of Elephantine during the End of the
Twelfth Dynasty',  ZÄS 2015, 142, 154–166;  H. Willems, The Coffin of Heqata: A Case Study of Egyptian Funerary Culture of the Early Middle Kingdom (Leuven, 1996); OsirisNet: Tomb of Sarenput I and Sarenput II; D. Raue, The Sanctuary of Heqaib; S. Pappas, 'Who Was Sattjeni? Tomb Reveals Secrets About Ancient Egyptian Elite', Live Science; and the blog, History Things;


Top left: funerary mask of Lady Sattjeni.  Photo credit: Exhuman la momia de Sattjeni, una dama de la dinastía XII

Above centre: cedar inner coffin holding Lady Sattjeni. Photo credit:  Exhuman la momia de Sattjeni, una dama de la dinastía XII

Second centre: Panorama of Qubbet El-Hawa cemetery (with the ruins of a Coptic monastery built into the tombs and on the summit). Photo credit: PROYECTO QUBBET EL-HAWA

2nd and 3rd left: Two reliefs in the tomb chapel of Sarenput I.  Photo credit: OsirisNet: Tomb of Sarenput I

4th and 5th left: Two paintings from the tomb chapel of Sarenput II.  Photo credit: OsirisNet: to of Sarenput II

Bottom left: Black granite statue of Heqaib II, Son of Sathathor. Photo credit: D. Raue, The Sanctuary of Heqaib. UCLA Encyclopaedia of Egyptology, 12-03-2014, Fig. 11.

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

They Create a Desert and call it "Science"

"In der Archäologie geht es nicht darum,
etwas zu finden, sondern darum, etwas herauszufinden".

It is good to see our protest about "citizen archaeology" figured on Rainer Schreg's Archaeologik Wissenschaftsblog (Citizen Science für alle)
Gerade hierin liegt aber die große Schwäche von PAS, dass nämlich diese Sensibilisierung eben nicht in ausreichendem Maße erfolgt und viele der vermeintlichen Erfolge von PAS tatsächlich eher zum Schaden der Wissenschaft sind, indem Befundkontexte zerstört und das Vertrauen in Fundortangaben untergraben werden.
Would that this were true:
Derzeit gibt es einen großen Aufschrei gegen die Deklarierung von PAS als Citizen Science
There is actually a great silence from the British archaeological community (apparently for the most part , limp-wristed, pandering jobsworths who could not give a tinkers about any of this). It is good that there are archaeologists elsewhere keeping their eye on the ball.

Russian Experts at Palmyra

Reuters Staff, 'IS destruction too extensive to restore Temple of Bel in Syria’s Palmyra' Reuters July 23, 2016
Two ancient monuments in the Syrian city of Palmyra were so badly damaged by Islamic State that they can only be rebuilt using substantially new materials [...] Experts from Russia’s Culture Ministry have assessed the damage in Palmyra after the UNESCO world heritage site was recaptured from Islamic State in March [...] One of the symbols of Palmyra, the Greco-Roman Temple of Bel, founded in the first century, “can be hardly restored”, the Russian experts said in a report presented on Thursday. “A recreation of the monument can only be made by its reconstruction using designs and photographs after preliminary clearing of the building’s ground,” the report said. This will require at least 3-4 years and “significant financing”, the experts added, estimating that the rebuilding of another key monument, the Arch of Triumph, would be possible within 9-12 months. “After the re-creation of the monument it will 60-70 percent consist of new materials,” the report said about the arch, whose vaults it said were “fully destroyed” by an explosion. Some original fragments of the nearly 2,000-year-old Temple of Baalshamin could be restored in 2-3 months, they said.
A decision on which works will be rebuilt has not been made yet, Russia called on other countries to take part in discussions on the restoring the ruins in Palmyra, including how such work would be funded.

Seaton Down Coins

The coin hoard from Seaton Devon was reported by an artefact hunter who guarded the find from nocturnal artefact hunters who might be tempted to visit the site (most just hoik away and tip them on a tabletop in the fading afternoon light) 'Seaton Hoard, Dug Methodically by Archaeologists: Finder Slept in his car on Site Protecting it From Other metal Detectorists'. The artefacts are going on display in Exeter after the Treasure reward of £50,000 was paid - now all that is needed is the funds for the conservation, cataloguing and archival storage of the 23000 items, and then the full publication to at least die study level of the hoard and its context.

Laura Gibbs (Bestiaria Latina Blog)

Latin Proverbs and Fables Round-Up: July 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 free copies of my books, you can find links to all of them here: Fables, Proverbs and Distichs — Free PDFs.

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

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


3-WORD MOTTOES: Today's 3-word motto is Ostendo, non ostento (English: I show; I do not boast).

3-WORD PROVERBS: Today's 3-word proverb is Sapientia omnia operatur (English: Wisdom works all things).

RHYMING PROVERBS: Today's proverb with rhyme is: Est piger agnellus, qui non gestat sibi vellus (English: The little lamb who doesn't want to carrry his own wool is lazy).

VULGATE VERSES: Today's verse is Quaerite et invenietis (Matt. 7:7)). 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: Quo semel est imbuta recens servabit odorem testa diu: A vessel will kepe long the savour wherewith it is firste seasoned. For this cause Quintilian counsailet us forth with even from our youth to learne the best thinges, sith nothing sticketh more fastly than that, that is received and taken of pure youth not yet infected, with perverse and croked manners or opinions. For verelie full true is our Englishe Proverbe, That is bread by the bone wil never away.

BREVISSIMA: The distich poster for today is Ad Ponticum. Click here for a full-sized view. I'm sharing these with English translations at Google+ now too.

And here are today's proverbial LOLcats:

Fortis cadere, cedere non potest.
The brave man can fall but not fail.

Cave canem!
Beware of dog!


FABULAE FACILES: The fable from the Fabulae Faciles widget is Canis Vetulus et Magister, the sad story of a dog and his ungrateful master (this fable has a vocabulary list).

MILLE FABULAE: The fable from the Mille Fabulae et Una widget is Struthiocamelus Perfidus, the story of an unreliable ostrich.

Struthiocamelus Perfidus

Words from Mythology. For more about DRACO and the English word DRACONIAN, see this blog post.

Robert Consoli (Squinches)

Mycenaean Hypotheses, Reasonable and Unreasonable, II

Les philosophes qui ont examiné les fondements de la société ont tous
senti la nécessité de remonter jusqu'à l'état de nature, mais aucun d'eux 
n'y est arrivé. ... tous, parlant sans cesse de besoin, d'avidité, d'oppression, 
de désirs, et d'orgueil, ont transporté à l'état de nature des idées qu'ils 
avaient prises dans la société. Ils parlaient de l'homme sauvage, et ils 
peignaient l'homme civil."
Rousseau [1754] 19.

In my last post I sketched the substance of Dr. S. Voutsaki's very useful paper from 2007 in which she gave the following summing up of her careful research into grave findings in the Argolid.   It reads as follows:

"..the main organizational principle in the MH period was kin rather than status; as authority was embedded in kin relations, it did not require ostentatious gestures, impressive houses or rich graves for its legitimation.”[1]

In this post I will try to explain what it is about this summary which in my view is, uh, less than perfectly adequate.

Entrance to a tholos tomb.  Ano Engliano.

First of all, Dr. Voutsaki invites us to believe that kin and status are binary principles; that they exist in opposition and are zero-sum; which is to say that when one gains the other must lose.

This is completely false.  There is no culture in the present or in the historical record, stratified, ranked, unstratified, or tribal, in which status is not a primary concern[2] and in most traditional societies kin structures are the source of that status and  are often deliberately manipulated in order to enhance it.[3]  It is precisely kinship that has been the richest source of status regard in almost all the societies that have ever existed.  This is so important that, when high ranking lineage lines are interrupted through lack of children, birth of children of the wrong gender, deaths in war, or other problems, various subterfuges such as adoptions or simple ‘genealogical adjustments’ are often used to repair the gaps.[4]

We are also to suppose that the primary or only possible definition of statusis 'ostentatious gestures, impressive houses or rich graves' and that these things alone can legitimatestatus. 

This is disastrously wrong.[5]   Status in a traditional society is based on a number of factors and material acquisition is only one of them, and very often the least important.    

Status in traditional societies does not just depend on kinship.  Status ordinarily depends on the following factors in roughly this order:  being well-born (however defined), being first born, being male, possession of personal skill in some art or craft (both artifact crafts as well as priesthoods), skill in planning or in executing warfare, age (seniority), and generosity.  In many traditional societies (whether stratified like the Mycenaeans or not) acquisition ordinarily comes dead last as an indicator of status and even then it often accompanies generosity.[6]

It is impossible to maintain that status concerns in the MH were either nonexistent or less than status concerns in the LH.  So why does Dr. Voutsaki do exactly this?

Because any explanation for the emergence of political institutions in the LH must explain how status regard in the MH was transformed into specific new types of status regard in the LH.

And she cannot provide such an explanation. 

That’s because no one can do this and for obvious reasons: whatever constituted status regard in the MH is now lost to investigators.   Therefore she only takes the concept of status seriously when specific materials start showing up in hoards in the archaeological record. This is fatal because now she has no explanation for why these ‘strategies of acquisition’ resulting in the deposition of these hoards developed in the first place.

This, too, is why she encourages us to ignore the existence of 'ostentatious gestures' in the MH (by denying that they could have existed).   But what about those ‘ostentatious gestures’?

No gestures such as large ceremonies?  Not on the occasions of marriages?  Births?  Deaths?  Adoptions?  No grand feasts?    No ostentatious gestures on those occasions?  No competitive giving?  No sacrifices or ritual division of sacrificial meats?  No large assemblies for dancing, singing, poetic recitals?  No athletic contests accompanied by religious rites?  No secret rites?  No magic?  No witchcraft?  No cursing? 

What did people do in the MH? 

Or are we simply to regard these proto-Mycenaeans as nothing but abstract agricultural producers with a shallow kinship-based leadership layer?

Instead of a believable explanation of the MH-LH transition (or at least acknowledging that one is required whether or not it can be immediately supplied) Dr. Voutsaki has over-emphasized the existence of expensive material goods and tried to show that these alone are the route to status; that only those materials can legitimate status.

Let’s see.  Monopolization of scarce goods, monopolization of the ‘means of social reproduction’; [7] what kind of explanation is this?

What we’re being treated to here is a little Materialist fairy tale.  In this fairy tale society begins among simple static tribal structures in which the concept of kin has made everyone secure and given everyone a legitimate role.  There is no need for ‘ostentatious’ gestures because there is no concept of status (conceived of, apparently, as a kind of supra-kinship baggage) in such a society.  Societal position is effortless.  Then, for unaccountable reasons (our friend Otto’s ‘the middle part’), covetous and acquisitive people seize the means of production, break the kinship system, hoard all the golden goodies for themselves and, by so doing, cause poverty everywhere except the palatial centers. Moreover, through their ‘strategies of acquisition’ they also seize power and political control. 

Am I the only one to notice that this little tale is just a series of non sequiturs?

But if we are to reject Materialist explanations and ‘strategies of acquisition’ as the impetus to a stratified society then what does lead to this outcome?

Put simply, a society becomes more likely to make a transition to stratified classes and political institutions when one segment[7a] of a lineage becomes dominant over the others.  This can (but not always) lead to the crushing of the traditional distributional role of the kinship system.[8]  This can happen in a bewildering variety of ways and is oftentimes stranger than we imagine.[9]

What can we plausibly infer about the MH-LH transition, that modification in social logic which takes us from a (probably) achievement-based tribal organization [9a] to one that appears to be a stratified social structure and one living under political institutions?

I certainly don’t know and we’ll probably never know.  But that doesn’t mean that we can just whisk the problems out of sight or bury them beneath a stale Materialist template about seizing ‘status’ goods along with the means of their production. 

Here is a list of hypotheses of the type that we would have to form in order to investigate this question:

H1.  In the MH Greek-speakers lived in loosely ranked tribes in which status was based both on kinship and, to a significant degree, on individual achievement.  This achievement would have been based either on religious closeness to the deities or to success in war or both or some other combination of factors.[10]

Ranks reached through achievement status would not have been heritable.  Each new generation would have to create its own achievements in order to establish its legitimacy to wield power.

H2. This is succeeded by a phase in which, under the influence or the direct involvement of Minoans living on the mainland[11], achievement status is ultimately converted into inherited Rank (following Minoan models).  (It's almost impossible that these proto-Mycenaeans did this on their own.)

After generations of intermarriage between prominent kinship segments and Minoans the old most prominent Greek kinship segments are transmuted into a dominant new segment; one which now has strong interests and claims both on the mainland and on Crete.    (This might position us to discuss what happened on Crete in the middle of the fifteenth century.)   Conceivably, this hypothesized ‘mixed’ class was exogamous and, perhaps, the other kinship segments endogamous.[12]  If true then such marriage patterns would accelerate the stratification process.

H3. This would lead to the society we see in Mycenae and in Pylos in LH III.  In this society rank is inherited; this new society is fully stratified (If not then it would make rubbish of every learned paper in which the ruler of Pylos is referred to as a ‘King’).  Its institutions have a strong Minoan component.  The people in this society now derive their authority, their occupations, and – to greater or lesser extent – their status from political institutions which, as Dr. Voutsaki rightly intuits about the Argolid, are centered in Mycenae.  I think it’s best to regard the luxury objects so prominent in graves in the LH as what modern anthropologists call ‘materialization’.[13]  I would suggest that it’s not the objects that are ‘coveted’ as Dr. Voutsaki seems to think; they are merely signifiers of high status achieved by other means.  And of these other means we know, and probably can know, nothing.

H4. An accelerator in this transition process would have been the undertaking of massive building projects in several of the Mycenaean statelets.  The process is clearest in Orchomenos where a very large amount of land was gradually reclaimed from Lake Copais.  Such projects require more than a ranked-society to carry out and the resulting new land would have been under the direct control of the paramount in Orchomenos; an open invitation to him to escape from the traditional kinship constraints (but not necessarily replacing kinship itself).  One of the reasons that the heads of stratified societies undertake such projects is to accelerate population growth.  Population growth translates into larger armies, political power, and larger ambitions.[14]  This is, perhaps, a marker for the unfortunate events which occurred between LH IIIB and LH IIIC early.

These are hypotheses only; potential lines of investigation.  These are examples of what I mean when I use the word ‘reasonable’; I mean ethnographically reasonable.  I know quite well that most of these particular hypotheses can be neither supported nor falsified by objective evidence; certainly not by any evidence which archaeology is likely to produce.  But from the ethnographic standpoint they make a lot better starting point than the Materialist [15] straight-jacket of Dr. Voutsaki.

This post is a plea for greater ethnographic sophistication in Mycenology and for Mycenologists to see the Mycenaean people as people like other people – (not just hoards of materials)  - with all the complications and sophisticated analysis that that requires.  Archaeology is a valuable tool but if it is used only to support materialist explanations then I don’t think that anyone will be happy with the results. 


[1]Voutsaki [2007] 92.  Emphasis in the original.  See Voutsaki [1997] 44 for similar ideas and wording: “ … the main organizing principle during this period [e.g., the MH, RHC] was kinship rather than wealth or social status; that authority, being inscribed and embedded in kin relations, did not require legitimation by means of elaborate practices and material distinctions.'

[2]Voutsaki shows examples of this.  In Voutsaki [1997] 37 she describes the Trobrianders’ Kula ring and the status it conveys to those who belong to it.  She calls this increased regard ‘prestige’ but ‘prestige’ is just the concomitant of Status.  Trobriand is a traditional kinship-based society.  At the same place she makes much of status among the ‘Northwest Coast Indians’ relative to the potlatch feasting behavior.   And see Chagnon [2013] 338 ‘There are enormous differences in status among tribal communities.’  He means among the individuals who make up those communities.

[3]In Goldman [1970] throughout.

[4]Adoption in Polynesia, Goldman [1970] 432 ff.   In Pukapuka “Absolute adoptions known as kokoti, ‘to cut’, were negotiated to repair a ‘break’ in a lineage.”  Goldman is citing Ernest and Pearl Beaglehole, ‘Ethnology of Pukapuka.  Honolulu: Bernice P. Bishop Museum, Bulletin 150. 1938.  I do not have access to the Beagleholes’ work.

[5]The ‘Louis Vuitton Theory of Social Transformation’.  This principal probably has much more validity in our own society than it did in ancient Mycenaean societies.  Chagnon describes this mode of reasoning in an anthropology of a certain type: “I concluded that this myth about differential access to resources was so pervasive and unchallenged in anthropological theory because anthropologists come from highly materialistic, industrialized, state societies and tend to project what is ‘natural’ or ‘self-evident’ in this kind of world back into prehistory.  In our world, power, status, and authority usually rest on material wealth.  It follows that fighting over resources is more ‘natural’ and therefore comprehensible to anthropologists than fighting over women.”  Chagnon [2013] 328.

[6]In Goldman [1970].  ‘Principles of Status’, Chapter 1, pp. 4 ff.  Mana defined at 10, Tohunga and Toa on 13, Seniority on 14, Sanctity of Male Line on 15.

[7]Voutsaki [2007] 102, “The  evidence  suggests  that  Mycenae  exerted  control  over  both  the  production  and consumption of prestige items, primarily the most coveted ones such as gold and ivory, and thereby controlled the means for social reproduction.”  The important word here is ‘coveted’ which is a term from the realm of ethics and that converts her theory of social change into an ethical one.  I cannot see how Dr. Voutsaki can know these assertions to be true.

[7a] And by 'segment' I mean either a sub-lineage or a clan conceived of as linear or dual-descent, as cognates or agnates, however the total of the population conceives itself to be divided.

[8] Goldman [1970]

[9]See Harrison [1990], Chapter 6, ‘Treading Elder Brothers Underfoot’, 114 ff. as well as the gloss on this in Flannery and Marcus [2012] 188-191.

[9a] Goldman calls this an 'Open' society.  Goldman [1970] 20.

[10]  Parenthetically I should say that such a kinship scheme would exhibit more instability than Dr. Voutsaki seems to think.  The idea of ‘closeness to the deities’, for example, is subject to proof tests.  The unlucky loser might very well lose his place and status in the event of failure.   So also with military leaders.  Flannery and Marcus [2012] 356, “Unfortunately for Ghuti Mirza, his term of chief had been plagued by drought, and his subjects had ceased to believe that he could control the mountain spirits.”  He is then deposed by his brother, Silim Khan, who “astonished everyone with a dramatic display of weather magic.  He is reputed to have caused a violent snow storm in mid-summer. ‘The snow accumulated on the ground,’ Hunzakut aver, ‘up to the length of an arrow.’  This miracle is said to have convinced many Hunzakut of the legitimacy of Silim’s claim to the throne.  People are said to have rallied around Silim in great numbers, while Mirza was deposed and executed.” in Sidky [1996] 71.   There’s an ‘ostentatious gesture’ for you.

[11] Wright [1992] 70

[12]For the example of Maori in which endogamous and exogamous marriage practices were thought to accelerate the separation between kinship segments see Goldman [1970] 50 ‘..Firth has recorded that ordinary persons married within the hapu, while persons of rank married outside, in order to advance their status interests.  Since the male line carried highest status, the higher ranks in a hapu tended to form themselves around patrilineal descent lines whose maternal links were, however, with other hapu.’  The hapuis a lineage segment.

[13]DeMarrais, et al. [1996].

[14]The importance of increased population in Avatip, Flannery and Marcus [2012] 188-9. And see Sidky for the example of Hunza where increased irrigation and increased irrigated land caused a population increase.  This in turn was used by canny Mirs to convert Hunza from three miserable villages into a conquering power that forced the Chinese in Turkistan to pay tribute in order for their caravans to pass unmolested. Sidky [1996] 69-70.

[15] “When I was a graduate student, my more advanced graduate classes on primitive social organization informed me that differences in status in all human societies were basically determined by ‘differential access to scarce, strategic material resources.’  We were taught that this condition did not obtain in tribal societies because there was no wealth as such, and thus there were no status differences other than sex and age.  …  This was a fundamental message of Marxist social science that dominated most departments of anthropology in the 1960s, especially those departments that were considered to be ‘scientific.’” Chagnon [2013] 53.   Clastres can be devastatingly funny on exactly this topic.  Ostensibly he is attacking Marxism but he's actually attacking the lack of ethnographic sophistication on the part of Marxist anthropologists and why they cannot remedy it"In the logic of the Marxist discourse,  primitive society quite simply cannot exist, it does not have the right to autonomous existence, its being is only determined according to that which will come much later, its necessary future.  For the Marxists, primitive societies are only, they proclaim eruditely, pre-capitalist societies." in Clastres [2010b] 234-5.  Also "..if there are laws of history, they must be as legitimate at the start of history (primitive society) as in the continuation of its course." ibid. 234.


Chagnon [2013]: Chagnon, Napoleon.  Noble SavagesSimon & Schuster.  New York, USA.  2013.  978-0-684-85510-3.

Clastres [2010a]: Clastres, Pierre.  The Archaeology of Violence. Translated by Jeanine Herman.  Semiotext(e). 2010.  978-1584350934.  (Originally published in France by Éditions du Seuil in 1980)

Clastres [2010b]: Clastres, Pierre.  “Marxists and their Anthropology”  In Clastres [2010a] 221-236.

DeMarrais, et al. [1996]: DeMarrais, Elizabeth, Luis Jaime Castillo, Timothy Earle. "Ideology, Materialization, and Power Strategies", Current Anthropology. Vol. 37, No. 1 (Feb., 1996), pp. 15-31. Online here.

Flannery and Marcus [2012]: Flannery, Kent and Joyce Marcus, The Creation of Inequality: How our prehistoric ancestors set the Stage for Monarchy, Slavery, and Empire. Harvard University Press. 2012.  978-0674416772.

Goldman [1970]:  Goldman, Irving.  Ancient Polynesian Society. University of Chicago Press, Chicago 60637  1970.  0226301141.

Harrison [1990]: Harrison, Simon J.   Stealing People's Names: History and Politics in a Sepik River Cosmology.  Cambridge Studies in Social and Cultural Anthropology, 71.   Cambridge University Press.  1990.  ISBN 0-521 38504 0.

Kirch [2012]: Kirch, Patrick V.  A Shark Going Inland is my Chief,  University of California Press.  Berkeley, CA, 2012.

Leach [2004]: Leach, Edmund. Political Systems of Highland Burma;  A Study of Kachin Social Structure. London School of Economics Monographs on Social Anthropology.  Berg Publishers. Oxford, UK.  2004. 1845200551.  Originally published in 1957.

Pullen [2007]: Pullen, Daniel J. (Ed.)  Political Economies of the Aegean Bronze Age; Papers from the Langford Conference, Florida State University, Tallahassee, 22-24 February 2007.  Oxbow Books, Oxford, UK.  978-1-84217-392-3.

Rehak [1992]: Rehak, Paul.  The Role of the Ruler in the Prehistoric Aegean; Proceedings of a Panel Discussion presented at the Annual Meeting of the
Archaeological Institute of America.  New Orleans, Louisiana.  28 December 1992.  With Additions.

Rousseau [1754]: Rousseau, Jean-Jacques.  Discours sur l’origine et les fondements de l’inégalité parmi les hommes.   Édition électronique réalisée par Jean-Marie Tremblay.  2002.  Online here.

Sidky [1996]: Sidky, H.  Irrigation and State Formation in Hunza; The Anthropology of a Hydraulic Kingdom.  University Press of America, Inc.  Lanham, New York, London.  1996.  978-0761802044.

Voutsaki [1995]: Voutsaki, Sofia.  "Social and political processes in the Mycenaean Argolid: the evidence from the mortuary practices." In Laffineur, R. and Niemeier, W.-D. (eds.) POLITEIA: Society and State in the Aegean Bronze Age. Aegaeum 12, Liège, 55-65. 1994.   Online here.

Voutsaki [1997]: Voutsaki, Sofia.   "The Creation of Value and Prestige in the Aegean Late Bronze Age."  Journal of European Archaeology,  V.2, 1997.   Online here.

Voutsaki [2007]: Voutsaki, Sofia.  "From the Kinship Economy to the Palatial Economy: The Argolid in the Second Millennium BC", in Pullen [2007] 86-111.  Online here.

Wright [1992]: Wright, James G.  "From Chief to King in Mycenaean Greece" in Rehak [1992].  63-80

July 24, 2016

Tom Matrullo (Classics in Sarasota)

Hubristic humor for these times

Courtesy of Sententiae Antiquae and social media.

The Heroic Age

News! O the News!

Some Proto-Indo-European news:    How the Mother Tongue probably sounded.

Such a modern sign: a Viking ship held up by red tape.  If only Charles the Fat had thought of that!

For a brief foray out of Medieval Europe, a 9th century Jain temple:

Poop to the rescue!!  Feces on the Silk Road tell us about spread of disease:

Daisy Wheel Protection Spell in Lincoln Cathedral? Read all about it:

Medieval Water Harnessing Cause Salmon Stock Depletion:

Excavations at Stegeborg, Sweden:

Witch Prison Discovered in Scottish Castle:

Vikings were not kind to their slaves:

Largest Viking Axe Ever found in "power couple's" grave:

Student Archeology yields evidence:

Reuse of Sacred Spaces, or at least one such, by Anglo-Saxons:

Richard III might be innocent?

Jousting as Medieval Sport?  You bet!

Medieval (really much older) war tactics succeed in modern Iraq:

Oldest Anglo-Saxon Buildin in Scotland:

Anglo-Saxon Cemetery in Rothey:

International Congress on Medieval Studies 2017!

As many readers will know, the CFP for 2017 is now up at the Congress website:

Many mini-CFPs for sessions are now forthcoming in many a venue.  I've pasted several here and will continue to do so.  Many others are using my International Congress group and other medieval groups on Facebook:  Feel free to check those as well.

Keep watching this space!
We are pleased to announce the launch of the Beyond Words website, which provides information about dates, venues, public programming, the symposium, and the catalogue of the upcoming exhibit Beyond Words: Illuminated Manuscripts in Boston Collections
When the exhibit opens in mid-September, we will launch the object-centered portion of the website: a searchable database of all 260 manuscripts described in the catalogue, with essential metadata and images for each manuscript and, when available, codicological descriptions and full digital facsimiles.
Please visit the website regularly for updates and, if you use Twitter, follow @BeyondWords2016 for sneak-peeks, updates, and announcements. We hope to see you in Boston this fall.
- The Beyond Words Curatorial Team: Jeffrey Hamburger, William P. Stoneman, Anne-Marie Eze, Lisa Fagin Davis, and Nancy Netzer
CFP: Technical Communication in the Middle Ages
International Congress on Medieval Studies (Kalamazoo, 2017)
Proposals due: September 15, 2016
Submit to Wendy Hennequin (

Scholars have long recognized Chaucer’s “Treatise on the Astrolabe” as an early technical document, yet relatively few medieval texts have been discussed as specimens of technical communication. This session seeks to consider the traditions and conventions of medieval technical communication, as well as the connections between medieval and contemporary technical writing.

Possible texts for consideration might include (but are not limited to) penitential and conduct manuals, monastic rules, business correspondence, medical treatises, scientific and pseudo-scientific manuals (including alchemical and astrological ones), cookery books, law codes, and government and military documents. Papers should consider the texts as technical communication, but may focus on any aspect, including writing, layout, design, etc.

Please submit proposals to Wendy Hennequin ( by September 15, 2016.

Dr. M. Wendy Hennequin
Department of Languages, Literature, and Philosophy
Tennessee State University
3500 John A Merritt Blvd.
Nashville, TN 37209

Those who may be interested in, or who have used the pages before, I would like to alert to the new URL for the Usk site:

Migration of files following my retirement is far from complete -- eventually, I hope to archive my digital books with UF's Smathers Library -- but for now they may be reached, including the Usk, at 

Thank you,
R. Allen Shoaf, Alumni Professor of English Emeritus
University of Florida, P.O. Box 117310, Gainesville, FL 32611-7310
Fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities 1982-1983 & 1999-2000
Co-founding Editor, EXEMPLARIA (1987-2008)
FAX 352.392-0860; VOICE 352.371-7149 (Home); 294-2841 (Office); 317-0247 (Cell)
2016 NW 19th Lane, Gainesville, FL 32605-3917
The International Pearl-Poet Society is sponsoring the following two paper sessions at the 52nd International Congress on Medieval Studies (May 11-14, 2017) at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI:

I: Death and Rebirth in the Pearl-Poet
II: The Transformative Pearl-Poet: Translation and Adaptation

We invite abstracts from scholars of all levels, dealing with one or all of the Pearl-Poems. Papers should be no more than 20 minutes long. Submissions should include one-page abstracts and the completed Participant Information Form ( Please send these by September 13, 2016 to:

Kara Larson Maloney
Department of English, General Literature & Rhetoric
Binghamton University
PO Box 6000
Binghamton, NY  13902-6000

Kara Larson Maloney
Department of English, General Literature and Rhetoric
Binghamton University
Dear colleagues (with apologies for cross-posting),
On «Ad fontes», an e-learning platform provided by the University of Zurich, all abbreviations from the «Cappelli» have been digitised and are now fully searchable.
In October 2015, the University of Zurich hosted the Cappelli-Hackathon, a very successful crowd sourcing project, during which all 14'357 abbreviations collected in Adriano Cappellis' «Lexicon abbreviaturarum» were digitally registered and systematised through a specifically for the task designed web interface. Since then, the registered abbreviations have been checked and – where necessary – corrected through expert validation. They are as of now freely available, either as part of the Ad fontes platform (Cappelli online) or through the new app, App fontes.
The search interface not only allows to search by the readable letters, with the possiblity to set wildcards for non-identifiable characters, but also to search by visual criteria. Through the use of a 3x3 grid, the abbreviations have been systematised by the placement of abbreviation marks and other visual features; user may now use this grid in the search interface to help them find results.
Thus, the project allows a better and easier way to access the «Cappelli», an invaluable tool for everyone working with handwritten sources. Since «Ad fontes» offers also a link to the digitised original page, it is even possible to cite from the «Lexicon abbreviaturarum» using the project.

P.S.: The data as well as the pictures can be downloaded (

Tobias Hodel, lic. phil.
Universität Zürich
Historisches Seminar
Projekt «Ad fontes»
Culmannstrasse 1
CH-8006 Zürich 
We are happy to publish the program for the XII Syriac Symposium which will begin this August 19 (19-21 August). In the coming days the program for the Arab-Christian Studies Congress (22-24 August) will follow. Both programs are structured according to the major areas of interest with a schedule of morning and afternoon interventions, beginning at 09:00 and ending at 18:30.
We kindly invite all presenters to verify the accuracy of the information, in particular the title of your paper, and to send us word immediately of any changes that should be made, using the following email address:
The Organizing Committee
Dott.ssa Nicoletta BorgiaResponsabile Pubbliche Relazioni & Ufficio Stampa

Pontificio Istituto Orientale
Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore 7 - 00185 Roma
Tel.: +39 | Fax: +39 | | PIO on Facebook 

Carole Raddato (Following Hadrian)

‘Hadrian: An Emperor Cast in Bronze’ exhibition in Jerusalem

The Israel Museum in Jerusalem held until the end of June 2016 an exhibition dedicated to Hadrian: ‘Hadrian: An Emperor Cast in Bronze’. The exhibition was curated by David Merovah (Curator of Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine Archaeology) and Rachel Caine Kreinin … Continue reading

Rob Cain (Ancient Rome Refocused)

Poseidon’s knife

Found this knife on Ebay.  I could not resist it.  I really have no use for a knife.  It was as if I was prisoner of a siren’s call.   

The blade

The blade


The handle

The handle

Ancient Peoples

Standing female figure with an offering, 8 cm high (3 in)India,...

Standing female figure with an offering, 8 cm high (3 in)

India, 1st–2nd century AD

Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Archaeology Briefs


British and French archaeologists used lasers to scan prehistoric paintings at a site more than 2,000 meters above sea level in Southern France. The Abri Faravel Rock shelter site, about 100 kilometers southeast of Grenoble in the Parc National des Ecrins, is believed to have been used as summer pasture from the Mesolithic to Medieval period, and is still used by shepherds today.

One of the paintings depicts a deer with a spear in its back, fending off a dog - a common motif in cave paintings. Researchers say that while other regions the Alps have examples of engraved rock art, painted rock art at high altitudes is extremely rare and the Abri Faravel paintings are the highest yet found.

In addition to revealing new detail about the ancient artwork, the scans have been used to make a digital model of the site - part of a larger project which the team has been working on since 1998, focusing activities above 2,000 meters in the Alps over the last 2,000 years.

Doctor Kevin Walsh, an archaeologist at University of York and lead researcher on the project, explains that "in the past, maybe 4,000 or 5,000 years ago, people were living and working in these landscapes and that's the kind of thing that our project has demonstrated, that the origins of activity of high altitude go back a very long time."

Researchers working at the site have uncovered a number of artifacts, including flint, pottery, metalwork, and even a Roman brooch.

Edited from Mail Online (25 May 2016)
[10 images, 1 map]


Spanish archaeologists say they have discovered an exceptional set of Paleolithic cave drawings that could rank among the best in a country which already boasts some of the world's most important cave art.

Chief site archaeologist Diego Garate says that an estimated 70 drawings were found on ledges 300 meters underground in the Atxurra cave in the northern Basque region, describing the site as being among the top 10 in Europe. The engravings and paintings feature horses, buffalo, goats, and deer, dating to between 12,500 and 14,500 years ago.

Garate says access to the area is so difficult and dangerous that it is unlikely to be open to the public. The cave was discovered in 1929 and first explored in 1934-35, but it was not until 2014 that Garate and his team resumed their investigations and the drawings were found.

"No one expected a discovery of this magnitude," said Jose Yravedra, a prehistory professor at Madrid's Complutense University. "There a lot of caves with drawings but very few have this much art and this much variety and quality." Garate says one buffalo drawing depicts what must be the most hunting lances of any in Europe. Most have four or five lances but this has almost 20.

Yravedra says that, given the cave's hidden location and the number, variety, and quality of its drawings, the site was being classified as a "sanctuary," or special Paleolithic meeting ritual place, like those at Altamira in Spain, or Lascaux in France. Regional officials hope to set up a 3-D display of the art so that the public can appreciate it.

Edited from (27 May 2016)
[3 images]

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Ancient Numismatics News from NUMISHARE

ANS coins from RIC 6-10 published to OCRE, and other updates
Following the release of volumes 6, 7, 8, and 10 to OCRE, we have republished our coins from these volumes to link them into the newly-published coin type URIs. This represents an addition of more than 17,000 physical specimens of late Roman coinage into OCRE, including photographs for more than 3,000 of these (and photographic gaps from previous volumes of RIC). There are now 36,000 Roman imperial coins from the ANS collection in OCRE, and 60,000 in total from all our partners. Including CRRO and PELLA, there are just under 100,000 physical coins aggregated by's SPARQL endpoint.

In addition to these coins, the Portable Antiquities Scheme provided access to several hundred imperial coins linked to OCRE URIs. The PAS had previously linked its entire collection of Republican coins (nearly 1,000) into CRRO, but the inclusion of imperial material in OCRE is a watershed moment for the study of Roman numismatics. These are the first few hundred of potentially hundreds of thousands of coins published in their database, each with attested findspots. This will have a dramatic effect on geographic analysis of ancient monetary circulation and trade.

The Harvard Art Museums API was also reprocessed. Harvard's coverage of late Roman coinage is quite good, and their contribution to OCRE has more than doubled to 1,300 coins. 

Archaeology Briefs


In Europe, the oldest boat ever discovered is a 10,000 year-old dugout canoe from the Netherlands. The oldest plank-built vessels in the region are Bronze Age boats found at Dover and in Yorkshire, dated to between 3,500 and 4,000 years ago. At Bouldnor Cliff, 11 meters underwater off the northwest shore of the Isle of Wight in the south of England, Garry Momber and the Maritime Archaeology Trust have found something up to twice that age.

In 2005, at the bottom of a 7-metre high underwater cliff, Garry saw something. "Among the branches of an old tree was a collection of colored flints, some of which had been superheated."

Two years later the team had enough money to investigate further. Their 2 by 3 meter excavation revealed charcoal, flint tools, wood chippings, well-crafted functional items, and dozens of pieces of well-preserved timbers. Most of the timbers were oak, still in position where they had fallen over 8,000 years ago. Some had been shaped and trimmed, while others had been charred to make them easier to work.

One piece, just under 1 meter long and about 8,100 years old, had been split - a technique which doesn't appear elsewhere in the British archaeological record for another 2,500 years, when it was used during the Bronze Age to build deeper log boats, by removing 1/4 of the tree and hollowing out the remaining 3/4. When it was felled, the tree would have been a couple of meters wide and several tens of meters high.

The team also found a scalloped out end-piece, timbers that formed the end of the structure, and cord which would have united the various elements. Taken together, these would make Bouldnor Cliff the oldest known boat-building site in the world. "The trouble is we still need more evidence to be 100% certain," says Garry.

Garry and his team will return to the site in June. You can follow their progress at DigVentures on Facebook, and TheDigVenturers on Twitter.

Edited from DigVentures (2 June 2016)
[2 images]


Paintings at Laas Geel in the self-declared state of Somaliland retain their fresh brilliance some 5,000 years or more after Neolithic artists swirled red and white color on the cliffs of northern Somalia, painting antelopes, cattle, giraffes and hunters carrying bows and arrows.

Abdisalam Shabelleh, site manager from Somaliland's Ministry of Tourism, says: "These paintings are unique. This style cannot be found anywhere in Africa." Then he points to a corner, where the paint fades and peels off the rocks. "If nothing is done now, in 20 years it could all have disappeared."

Amazed by the remarkable condition of the paintings as well as their previously unknown style, Xavier Gutherz, the former head of the French archaeology team that discovered the site in 2002, asked for the cave's listing as a UNESCO world heritage site, but that was refused because Somaliland is not recognized as a separate nation. "Only state parties to the World Heritage Convention can nominate sites for World Heritage status," said a UNESCO spokesperson. Requests for funding from donor countries face the same legal and diplomatic headache.

The cave paintings have become one of the main attractions for visitors to Somaliland. Around a thousand visitors each year endure rugged terrain with armed escorts to reach Laas Geel, and numbers are growing. Archaeologists say that Laas Geel may only be one of many treasures awaiting discovery in the vast rocky plains stretching towards the tip of the Horn of Africa.

Edited from Mail Online, News24 (26 June 2016)
[3 images]
[1 image]


In an area of New Brunswick the Canadian Department of Transportation had plans to construct a by-pass of Route 8 around the city of Fredericton, capital of the region.

As part of the investigations which are made for the planning of any major road, not just in Canada, an archaeological team was sent to see if there was anything of interest. What they found was actually so important that there was an immediate cessation of ground works and the by-pass would have to be permanently re-routed.

The find centered on a campsite, dated at 10,000 BCE, which would have been based on the shores of a long lost lake. So far over 600 artifacts have been unearthed, ranging from stone tools to arrow heads and a fire pit.

One of the First Nation tribes of this area of New Brunswick was the Maliseet and several members of the archaeological team were members of that tribe, including Shawna Goodall, who is quoted as saying "These are my ancestors. And just to be able to be the first one to hold things in 13,000 years - I get goose bumps every timer, (from) every single artifact. That never ores away, that feeling".

The other exciting part of the find is that it provides a missing link. Team Leader, Brent Suttie, is quoted as saying "We have a few sites down in the Pennfield area and then we have very famous sites in Debert, Nova Scotia that dates to 11,600 years old. We don't have anything between those two sites. This site just happens to fall within that".

Edited from CBC News, CTV News, Global News (23 June 2016)
[2 images, 2 videos]
[1 image, 1 video]


A 5,000-year-old figurine, discovered in the 1860's was recently rediscovered in the Stromness Museum collections by Dr. David Clark. The figurine was found among artifacts from Skaill House donated to the museum in the 1930's.

The figurine is made of whalebone measuring 9.5 cm in height and 7.5 cm in width, adorned with a mouth, eyes, and a navel with no other decorations. It was originally discovered by William G. Watt while excavating a stone bed in house 3 of the Neolithic village. It was originally seen as an 'idol' or 'fetish' and described as such in the 1867 Skara Brae report written by George Petrie.

The figurine represents the first Neolithic example of a representation of a human form, which are exceptionally rare in Britain. The figurine, nicknamed 'Skara Brae Buddo' is now being displayed for the first time in Stromness Museum alongside other artifacts from Skara Brae.

Edited from The Orcadian (15 June 2016), Live Science (21 June 2016)
[1 image]
[1 image, 1 movie]


A study of 44 people from the Middle East show that two populations invented farming independently, then spreading it to Europe, Africa, and Asia. The results were published on the bioRxiv preprint server, showing that it supports archaeological evidence of farming starting in multiple places.

The evidence is important as it is the first detailed look into the ancestry of individuals from the Neolithic revolution. During this period, some 11,000 years ago, humans living in the Fertile Crescent shifted from a nomadic lifestyle to a sedentary lifestyle, which domesticated crops and transformed sheep, wild boars, and other creatures into domestic animals over thousands of years.

Previously it has been difficult to obtain DNA from this area due to the hot climates. Recent successes in extracting DNA from the petrous let Iosif Lazaridis and David Reich, population geneticists at Harvard Medieval School, analyze these genomes, which were 14,000 to 3,500 years old.

The genomes showed a stark difference between the populations from the southern Levant region and those living across the Zagros Mountains. The Zagros population were found to be closely related to hunter-gatherer populations, supporting the theory that farming was developed independently in the Southern Levant.

Roger Matthews, an Archaeologist from the University of Reading says that: "There has been a school of thought arguing that everything happens first in the southern Levant and everyone learns how to be farmers from this initial dispersal. But the archaeological evidence shows very strong local traditions that are clearly not in communication with each other, persisting for centuries if not millennia."

The farmers from Zagros domesticated goats and cereal such as emmer, while their counterparts in the west had barley and wheat. According to Rogers, Sometime 9,500 years ago, the traditions spread through the Middle East, possible mixing in eastern Turkey while seeking out materials for tools, such as obsidian. Rogers also states that more research is needed to find how farming spread to the east.

LaLueza-Fox sees that the ability to extract DNA from hotter climates as an important step for prehistoric research, "Retrieving genomic data from the ancient Near East is a palaeogenomic dream come true."

Edited from Nature magazine (20 June 2016)
[2 images]


Excavations at Must Farm, 50 kilometers north-west of Cambridge, have unearthed the earliest examples of superfine textiles ever found in Britain - among the most finely-made Bronze Age fabrics ever discovered in Europe. Finds include more than 100 fragments of textile, processed fiber and textile yarn - some of superfine quality, with some threads just 1/10 of a millimeter in diameter and some fabrics with 28 threads per centimeter, fine even by modern standards. Most of the superfine fabrics were made of linen, and hundreds of flax seeds have been found, some of which had been stored in containers. Timber fragments with delicate carpentry may be the remains of looms, and fired clay loom weights have been found.

Some of the textiles had been folded, some in up to 10 layers. These may have been large garments, potentially up to 3 meters square - capes, cloaks, or drapes.

As well as making ultra-fine fabrics, at least some of the inhabitants wore exotic jewellery made of blue, black, yellow and green glass manufactured in the eastern Mediterranean. They lived in well-built 6 to 8 meter diameter houses and had a wide range of tools and other possessions. Around 50 bronze axes, sickles, spears, swords, razors, hammers, tweezers and awls have been found along with some 60 wooden buckets, platters and troughs, as well as around 60 well preserved ceramic bowls, mugs and storage jars - the largest collection of complete bronze, wooden and ceramic artifacts ever found in a British Bronze Age settlement. Dug-out canoes, and two wooden wheels have also been unearthed.

Yet evidence suggests that this settlement was attacked, burnt and destroyed less than a year after it was built. In the five houses excavated so far, people have left all their possessions behind - meals half eaten, salted or dried meat hanging in the rafters, garments neatly folded on or around well-made wooden furniture. Excavation director Mark Knight says: "It's a bit discovering the Marie Celeste. Everything is exactly as it was left. Only the inhabitants are missing."

Paola Arosio and Diego Meozzi (Stone Pages' Archaeonews)

Holding hands for 5,000 years, a couple with jade rings and dagger

The grave of a couple believed to be from the Bronze Age Glazkov culture has been excavated in Siberia. "In the grave we found male and female skeletons, lying on...

Homo erectus walked as we do

Recently discovered multiple assemblages of Homo erectus footprints in northern Kenya provide unique opportunities to understand our ancient ancestors. Using novel analytical techniques, researchers have demonstrated that the footprints preserve...

Digs uncover buildings in Cyprus' 11,000-year-old village

Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of more than 20 round buildings between 3 and 6 metres in diameter at the site of Ayios Tychonas-Klimonas in Limassol, the earliest known village...

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

Should You Be Making Games?

It was interesting to have an article come across my feed, providing guidance about whether one should quit one’s job and create video games instead, at the same time that I became aware that Leigh Grossman has a Kickstarter campaign for an RPG app: Do take a look, and consider either contributing or helping to [Read More...]

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Treasures from Underground LOSt to Auction

It is really wonderful what treasures lie
beneath our feet in the rich fertile soils of our county.

Going for gold in Matlock
Charles Hanson, 'Lost treasures uncovered from beneath our feet' Matlock Mercury Tuesday 19th July 2016
From merchant lead weights and rumbler bells of the Seventeenth Century, to a medieval key, Roman coins and a Henry VIII gold hammered coin - all treasures found across Derbyshire. When a metal detectorist visited our saleroom in Derbyshire recently this remarkable hoard of treasures tumbled onto a valuation table. It is fascinating to see what can emerge from bags and boxes brought to our saleroom. This vendor had been detecting across many areas of Derbyshire, including Ashbourne, for the past two years and already had amassed this marvellous array of items.
And no doubt would be among those who claims he or she  is in it out of a passionate interest in history and "not in it for the money at all". Anyway, other people "not in it for the money" will be selling their Treasures from beneath our feet (that's the archaeological record to you and I)
On the back of this collection we will be holding an inaugural auction of such metal detectorists’ finds on Tuesday, November 29, at our Etwall saleroom. We are keen to see further entries for this unusual and exciting specialist sale. Entries for the auction will close on November 2 so there’s still time to go treasure hunting! Hansons are delighted to have metal detecting find experts, Lisa and Adam involved. In creating such specialist auctions and being able to be of service to both sellers and buyers we are excited in opening up a new market and specialist department within our auction showrooms
Have these sales got the AlastairWillis seal of approval? Has the local FLO been along there to make sure that the items are responsibly reported and ensure that the finder has shown a valid landowner release document for each of the pocketed items being put up for sale? After all, Heatons would not want to run the risk of dealing with stolen property, would they? Or are they all that bothered, can any old metal detectorist turn up with a carrier bag full of bits including gold coins and tip them on the valuation table to get their finds accepted no questions asked?

I see that Mr Hanson admits to having been a metal detectorist, I suspect it is pointless to ask him therefore whether he thinks it is OK ripping holes in the historical record so people like him can make a profit selling bits of it off while the artefact hunters have decimated the rest. Thank goodness wild bird eggs and rare animal species are now safe from the collectors and auctioneers. Roll on the day when the carefree, random and selfish destruction of the historical record for personal profit goes the same way.

UPDATE24th July 2016
Charles Resized
The auctioneer has updated his site with a twee page on "metal detectives" (sic):
The recent surge of interest in such history created by television programmes such as Time Team, [Britain's Secret Treasures PMB] along The Vikings, The Tudors, and of course the award winning dramatisation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, has opened up this market; and the recent discoveries of treasure hoards by amateur metal detectorists have captured the public’s attention [through the PAS press releases on them PMB]. Hansons look to present the finds discovered under our feet, along with the treasured heirlooms passed from generation to generation, encouraging an ever wider audience to appreciate the artistry and craftsmanship of those who went before us. Specialist Auction Dates Metal Detecting Finds Tuesday 29th November - 10.30am (Closing date 2nd November) Metal Detective Finds are also included in a specialist section of our monthly Antiques and Collectors Auctions and quarterly Fine Art and Antiques Auctions. 
What else has "opened up this market" are TV programmes like "Britain's Secret Treasures" and the coverage of the amount of Treasure found by metal detectorists through the incessant PAS press releases (all except one find, eh Kent FLO?). As far as I know, real detectives do not flog off the evidence they uncover in the course of their investigations. These ones must be some mercenary cowboy ones.

And this brings us to the point, why when Me H. wants to make a profit from flogging off the loot, does he call the persons who bring it to him "amateur metal detectorists"? The moment they walk through his door they become commercial artefact hunters.

PAS outreach officer: qualities needed.

PAS outreach officer: qualities needed.....  Once upon a time they claimed to be British archaeologists biggest archaeological outreach project. No more:
"an interest in British archaeology would be advantageous".
What? They are seriously going to consider employing as outreach officers people who have no interest in archaeology at all if nobody else comes along? So who? Classicists? Mole catchers? Unfrocked catechists? Bus drivers and freemasons? No, the word missing here is "vitally essential". How on earth is anyone going to spread enthusiasm for best practice in an audience in a field for which they have no interest in at all? That's public money thrown in the mud isn't it? But there is more you
"will be sensitive to the needs of local communities".
What does that mean? Is not what is actually being conveyed is that you will suck up to a certain sort of person, nationally, but they don't dare say what distinguishes them. But as long as you are not really interested in what happens to the archaeological record at the hands of these folk, it's worth £28,460 per annum to turn a blind eye.

BiblePlaces Blog

Weekend Roundup, Part 2

Forty-five shipwrecks, many dating back to ancient times, have been discovered off a Greek archipelago that is one of the Mediterranean's richest underwater archaeological sites.”

A large and Roman mosaic has been discovered in Larnaca, Cyprus. A short video shows the excavation.

“A large number of expansive rock tombs which could constitute part of the world’s largest necropolis have been discovered during work carried out by the Şanlıurfa Municipality around the historic Urfa Castle in southeastern Turkey.”

“Excavation teams at an ancient site [Side] in the southern province of Antalya are struggling to find sponsors after it emerged that the site contains an ancient brothel.”

The Lion of Babylon is not faring well in part because of the visitors that keep climbing on its back.

The oldest writing found on papyrus is now on display in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Scholars believe that have identified an ancient security system that protected the pharaoh’s burial chamber in one of the pyramids of Giza.

Philippi is in the latest group of sites to be named a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Some British MPs are proposing the return of the Elgin Marbles to smooth Britain’s departure from the EU.

Two Hellenistic marble sculptures from the Pergamon Museum in Berlin will remain on loan for the next two years at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The ancient Mamertine Prison in Rome will soon be open after three years for restoration and excavation.

After a $73 million renovation, Yale will soon be re-opening the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

“Dendrochronological and radiocarbon research by an international team led by Cornell archaeologist Sturt Manning has established an absolute timeline for the archaeological, historical and environmental record in Mesopotamia from the early second millennium B.C.”

Ben Witherington III has more than 20 posts on his recent trip to Turkey. Highlights include visits to the Miletus Museum, the Izmir Museum, and the Zeugma Museum (which has a splendid mosaic).

New book out from Eisenbrauns: “Did I Not Bring Israel Out of Egypt?” Biblical, Archaeological, and Egyptological Perspectives on the Exodus Narratives, edited by James K. Hoffmeier, Alan R. Millard, and Gary A. Rendsburg.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis, Charles Savelle, Explorator, Daniel Wright

Byzantine News

A History of Basil II's Reign (958-1025)

A detailed account of Basil's reign by Catherine Holmes:

For Byzantine and modern historians alike the reign of Basil II marks the apogee of the Middle Byzantine Empire. Between 976 and 1025 Byzantine territorial and cultural frontiers expanded considerably. Bulgaria was annexed in 1018. In the east Basil also absorbed the Georgian princedom of Tao and the Armenian state of Vaspurakan. Towards the end of his reign Byzantine forces became more active in southern Italy, consolidating and expanding Byzantine authority in the face of a variety of powers including the Ottonian emperors of Germany. At the time of his death the emperor was planning to invade Muslim Sicily. It was also during Basil's reign that Vladimir, prince of Kiev, converted to Christianity.[[1]] In later centuries Basil the 'Bulgarslayer' came to be compared with the most prestigious and successful emperors of Late Antiquity. Michael Choniates writing in the early thirteenth century bracketed Basil with Heraclius (610-641). Basil's reputation was a powerful propaganda tool for successive imperial dynasties. The Comnenian emperors in the twelfth century consistently sought to associate their images with Basil. Michael VIII Palaeologus translated Basil's relics from their original burial place at the Hebdomon (see below) to his own family monastery near Selymbria.[[2]] Yet, despite this glorious posthumous reputation, Basil experienced many setbacks during his own lifetime. Civil war was endemic in the first thirteen years of his adult reign. His long campaign against the Bulgarians included several heavy defeats. Even after his annexation of Bulgaria, dissent persisted within Byzantium itself. Moreover, within half a century of Basil's death, the empire had disintegrated, torn apart by internal discord and external adversaries. Some historians argue that Byzantium's collapse in the eleventh century should be attributed to Basil's own overweening ambition, arguing that the emperor's campaigns overstretched the capacities of the empire.[[3]] In what follows I will argue rather a different case. Despite his fearsome military image, Basil's approach to government was flexible enough to accommodate his territorial conquests. The decline that occurred after his death was caused by factors outside the emperor's own control.

Click here for more

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

Fantastic Fan Cultures and the Sacred

John Morehead shared this exciting call for submissions: Call for Submissions for an anthology volume: Fantastic Fan Cultures and the Sacred They ways in which people pursue religion has changed in America and the West. Traditional, institutional religions are in decline, and even among those who claim “None” as their identity, an individualized spirituality of [Read More...]

ASOR Syrian Heritage Initiative

ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives Weekly Report 99–100 (June 22, 2016 – July 5, 2016)


Michael D. Danti, Allison Cuneo, Susan Penacho, Amr Al-Azm, Bijan Rouhani, Marina Gabriel, Kyra Kaercher, Jamie O’Connell

Download Report 99–100

Key points from this report:
  • At least 15 mosques in the city of Fallujah, Anbar Governorate were damaged or occupied by military forces between May 22 (the beginning of the recapture of Fallujah from ISIL militants) and June 28, 2016 (ASOR CHI Incident Report IHI 16-0019).
  • A suicide bomber targeted the Sunni al-Nour Mosque in Abu Ghraib District, Baghdad Governorate (ASOR CHI Incident Report IHI 16-0020).
  • An ISIL suicide bomber targeted the Shiite Imam Ahmad Shrine in Tuz Kharmutu, Salah ad Din Governorate (ASOR CHI Incident Report IHI 16-0021).
  • A newly released ISIL propaganda video shows the destruction of Palmyrene artifacts and mummies at the Palmyra Museum (ASOR CHI Incident Report SHI 16-0043 UPDATE).
  • New DigitalGlobe satellite imagery indicates the Russian military presence within the Northern Necropolis at Palmyra has decreased (ASOR CHI Incident Report SHI 16-0065 UPDATE).
  • Further analysis of the airstrike damage to the Byzantine site of Qalaat Semaan, Aleppo Governorate (ASOR CHI Incident Report SHI 16-0094 UPDATE).
  • Alleged SARG airstrikes damaged two mosques in al-Bara, Idlib Governorate (ASOR CHI Incident Report SHI 16-0095).
  • Alleged SARG and Russian airstrikes damaged al-Iman Mosque in Quriyah, Deir ez Zor Governorate (ASOR CHI Incident Report SHI 16-0096).
  • Alleged US-led coalition airstrikes damaged a mosque and Sufi tomb in Manbij, Aleppo Governorate (ASOR CHI Incident Report SHI 16-0097).
  • An alleged SARG airstrike damaged al-Foqani Mosque in Hbit, Idlib Governorate (ASOR CHI Incident Report SHI 16-0098).
  • Alleged SARG and Russian airstrikes damaged five mosques in Aleppo Governorate (ASOR CHI Incident Report SHI 16-0099).
  • Alleged SARG and opposition shelling damaged three mosques in Aleppo, Aleppo Governorate (ASOR CHI Incident Report SHI 16-0100).
  • Alleged opposition shelling damaged St. Demetrius Church in Aleppo, Aleppo Governorate (ASOR CHI Incident Report SHI 16-0101).

* This report is based on research conducted by the “Syria Preservation Initiative: Planning for Safeguarding Heritage Sites in Syria." Weekly reports reflect reporting from a variety of sources and may contain unverified material. As such, they should be treated as preliminary and subject to change.

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Jim Davila (

Mugridge, Copying Early Christian Texts

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Review of Stebnicka, Identity of the Diaspora

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The Bible in the Syropalestinian version

<img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

The Davka Talmud

<img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

The Sibylline Oracles

<img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Paperless Antiquities Being Sold by University Collector

Where were these artefacts
housed before the sale?
Edgar Owen has a large private collection for sale on consignment. The first batch comprises 750 antiquities mostly of European, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Egyptian origin which he's hoping to shift wholesale. There are few central and eastern Asian objects, none from American of subtropical African cultures: 
The University Collection  is an excellent large and diverse collection of Greek, Roman and Near Eastern antiquities I need to move quickly at wholesale for a consignor. Preferably for sale as an entire collection[...] There are ~750 pieces almost all different and all guaranteed genuine. Excellent provenance. The collection belongs to a retired university Vice President and author of over 100 papers including some on antiquities and ancient technology. Collected over many years up until the 1980's. All purchased from US dealers. 
It seems that a variant form of the "collecting history" is given on a discussion list:
The collection belongs to a retired university Vice President and has excellent provenance. Collected over many years up until about 20 years ago by a University Vice President and author of over 100 papers including some on antiquities and ancient technology. All purchased from US dealers. 
until 20 years ago is not "1980s", and the UNESCO Convention was 1970 anyway. The use of the present tense indicates that this collector is still alive. Former vice president of a university somewhere in the USA (presumably), author of 100 papers including "antiquities" and ancient technology...  Since this would not be all that difficult to work out, one wonders what the seller has to hide by not identifying himself as the authority behind the claims to both legitimacy and authenticity. Such claims ring awfully hollow in the absence of the name. This is offered as "A University Collection" - which university is referred to here as legitimation? Was the university asked to lend its name to this enterprise and refused? Were the artefacts housed on university premises? The university in question should be informed that its reputation is being used in this manner.

Should academics engage in the private purchase and collecting of antiquities? What ethical codes and constraints affect this? For example to buy paperless antiquities loose on the "they-can-touch-you-for-it" market? Or worse, to buy antiquities with papers and then separate the objects from the legitimating documentation (for example discarding it)?

It is interesting to note that this scholar did not bequeath his antiquities collection to the university as was the case with other academics who collected such things such as Professor David Moore Robinson at the University of Mississippi. Why not? Why is this being marketed as "the University Collection" when it has not come from, nor is going to, a university? 

This collection includes many objects of a type that would have needed an export licence to leave the source country before 1996. There are cunies for example (untranscribed), a cylinder seal or two. Yet in none of the descriptions I looked at was there any mention of the export documentation being available for the new owner. Seven hundred and fifty loose paperless objects is no bargain at any price and no matter "who" had bought them in the past. 

One wonders whether the university that appointed this guy knew he was collecting paperless antiquities from all corners of the classical world with the attendant risk that a university official might be buying antiquities of less-than-legal origins. Or did the anonymous collector keep the university in the dark about his activities on the US antiquities market? Full transparency requires Mr Owen to at least name that university.

Artefact Hunting and Blood Sports

Heritage action British Museum playing a supportive role in killing for fun?
the Chilmark and Clifton Foot Beagles are holding another metal detecting rally and PAS are going again [Annual CCFB Rally 4th September 2016]. As we said last year, you can search the world and never find such a crass event where cultural exploiters fill the coffers of wildlife exploiters and officials from a national museum sit at a folding table legitimising it all.
This years site is at Keynsham near Bristol and as tekkies say "the area looks interesting". And the FLO's name is....? Perhaps he or she will drape the finds recording table with entrails to make the hunting set feel more at home as they bring in the disembowelled remains of the region's archaeological record for them to look at.

July 23, 2016

Paola Arosio and Diego Meozzi (Stone Pages' Archaeonews)

Megalithic structures unearthed in northeastern India

Prehistoric megaliths and tools discovered in Meghalaya's Ri-Bhoi district, in the northeastern India state of Assam, indicate that the Khasi tribe, one of the major tribes in the state, had...

Early Pacific islanders may have used obsidian to make tattoos

Skin normally decays, leading to a lack of evidence of tattooing in ancient peoples. Some researchers have looked for the tools which might have been used, yet many are assumed...

Compitum - événements (tous types)

Mystique rhénane et devotio moderna

Titre: Mystique rhénane et devotio moderna
Lieu: Université de Metz / Metz
Catégorie: Colloques, journées d'études
Date: 05.10.2016 - 06.10.2016
Heure: 14.00 h

Information signalée par Jacques Elfassi

Mystique rhénane et devotio moderna

5 et 6 octobre 2016

Colloque international
Institut européen d’écologie - Metz (France)
2 rue des Récollets


Pour la première fois, et dans le cadre du projet MSH DEMO, un colloque international, réunissant des spécialistes de la mystique rhénane (Max Weber Kolleg, Erfurt ; Meister Eckhart Gesellschaft ; ERMR, UL…) et de la Devotio moderna (Université de Nimègue, Titus Brandsma Instituut ; Université de Leuwen ; Centre d’études supérieures de la Renaissance de Tours…), recherche quelles mutations et quels transferts sont intervenus entre les deux courants et quelles en ont été les conséquences.
Comme nous disposons désormais de l’édition scientifique d’une partie importante de l’oeuvre d’Eckhart et comme de nouvelles découvertes de ses écrits viennent la compléter, il importait de s’attacher à la transmission de cette oeuvre, marquée par l’interdit qui a pesé sur elle. Cette transmission aléatoire s’est faite non seulement par ses disciples : Jean Tauler et Henri Suso, mais aussi par l’intermédiaire du Paradisus animae intelligentis, par la Theologia deutsch, par Jan van Leuwen et par de multiples autres canaux qui en ont retenu tel ou tel point des écrits eckhartiens, en le réinterprétant ou non, ce qui a amené à transformer une oeuvre avec un fort potentiel novateur, essentiellement en une pratique, qui s’est exprimée dans la Devotio moderna, qui a fortement marqué l’Occident.
Aussi ce colloque amènera-t-il à se demander si une réception effective de l’oeuvre d’Eckhart n’aurait pas changé le paysage culturel de l’Occident, non seulement sur le plan spirituel et théologique, mais aussi anthropologique, artistique… Il en aurait été peut-être été d’une véritable mutation culturelle, dont nous retrouvons certains points, en ordre dispersé, aujourd’hui.
Les résultats de ce colloque, qui fait intervenir un grand nombre de spécialistes, apportera un renouveau effectif des recherches dans le domaine. Les conclusions en seront reprises en une monographie sur la question.

9h : Ouverture par Sylvie CAMET (Directrice de la MSH)
9h 30 : Marie-Anne VANNIER (UL, IUF), Les rapports entre la mystique rhénane et la Devotio moderna
10h : Harald SCHWAETZER (Cusanus Hochschule, Bernkastel Kues), Jean Tauler et Jan van Ruysbroeck, artisans du passage de la mystique rhénane à la Devotio moderna
11h :  Kirstin ZEYER (Université de Nimègue, Titus Brandsma Instituut), Histoire, transmission et concept de Devotio moderna
11h 30 : Dietmar MIETH (Max Weber Kolleg Erfurt), L’intériorité en fait de, vision du monde. L’imitation du Christ conduisant au “pays du silence et de la paix” (piétisme) ?

14h 30 : Satoshi KIKUCHI (Université de Leuwen), La pensée de Jan de Leeuwen, comme transition entre la mystique spéculative à la Devotio moderna aux Pays-Bas
15h : Jean-Claude LAGARRIGUE (ERMR, Strasbourg), Le colloque intime chez Eckhart et Ruysbroeck, la mystique rhénane et la Devotio moderna
15h 30 : Eric MANGIN (UC Lyon), Imitation et conformatio  au Christ chez Eckhart et dans la Devotio moderna
16h 30 : Élisabeth BONCOUR (UC Lyon), L’imitation du Christ dans les Entretiens spirituels d’Eckhart
17h : Andres QUERO-SANCHEZ (Université d’Erfurt, Max Weber Kolleg), Le Sermon 52 et sa réception dans la Devotio moderna
17h 30 : Antoine LAMBRECHTS (Chevetogne), L’influence et la réinterprétation de la mystique rhénane dans  L’imitation de Jésus-Christ


9h : Silvia BARA BANCEL (Université de Madrid), Les Institutions spirituelles   : moyen de diffusion de la mystique rhénane en Espagne ou  passage vers la Devotio moderna ?
9h 30 : Isabelle RAVIOLO (ERMR, Paris), La conformation au Christ souffrant. L’influence de Jean Tauler dans la Devotio moderna 
10h : Markus ENDERS (Université de Fribourg in Brisgau), La réception de  L’Horloge de la Sagesse  d’Henri Suso dans la “Suite du Christ” (De imitatione Christi) de Thomas a Kempis
11h : Jean DEVRIENDT (ERMR, Strasbourg), Gérard Groote, lecteur du Lebemeister  Henri Suso
11h 30 : Monique GRUBER (ERMR, Roanne), Henri Suso, serviteur souffrant du Christ souffrant et précurseur de la Devotio moderna 

14h : Luc BERGMANS (Université de Tours), La notion ruysbroeckienne de vie commune et la mystique rhénane
14h 30 : Inigo BOCKEN (Université de Nimègue, Titus Brandsma Instituut), Qu’en est-il de la mutation de la mystique rhénane dans la Devotio moderna ?
15h : Wolfgang Christian SCHNEIDER (Université de Hildesheim), La transmission de l’œuvre de Tauler dans la première édition du XVI° siècle dans les cercles spirituels.
15h 30 : Matthias VOLLET (Cusanus Hochschule, Bernkastel-Kues), La mystique rhénane, relue au prisme de la praxis  dans la Devotio moderna
16h 30  : Alberto AMBROSIO (Luxemburger School for Religion and Society), Entre la mystique rhénane et la Devotio moderna : Pier Luigi Petrucci.
17h : Workshop de jeunes chercheurs :
Riwanon GELEOC (UL), Les béguines, sources d’inspiration pour Eckhart ou relais vers la Devotio moderna ?
Johanna HUECK (Cusanus Hochschule, Bernkastel-Kues), Nicolas de Cues entre la mystique rhénane et la Devotio moderna
Andrea FIAMMA (Université de Chieti), Le Codex Cusanus 21 a-t-il été connu dans la Devotio moderna ?

Responsabilité scientifique : Marie-Anne VANNIER
Contact organisation : edwige.pierot[at]

Source : MSH Lorraine

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

CAMERA KALAUREIA An Archaeological Photo-Ethnography | Μια αρχαιολογική φωτο-εθνογραφία by Yannis Hamilakis & Fotis Ifantidis

CAMERA KALAUREIA An Archaeological Photo-Ethnography | Μια αρχαιολογική φωτο-εθνογραφία by Yannis Hamilakis & Fotis Ifantidis.
170 pages; illustrated in full colour throughout. Full text in English and Greek. Available both in print and Open Access.
ISBN 9781784914141. 
How can we find alternative, sensorially rich and affective ways of engaging with the material past in the present?

How can photography play a central role in archaeological narratives, beyond representation and documentation?

This photo-book engages with these questions, not through conventional academic discourse but through evocative creative practice. The book is, at the same time, a site guide of sorts: a photographic guide to the archaeological site of the Sanctuary of Poseidon in Kalaureia, on the island of Poros, in Greece.

Ancient and not-so-ancient stones, pine trees that were “wounded” for their resin, people who lived amongst the classical ruins, and the tensions and the clashes with the archaeological apparatus and its regulations, all become palpable, affectively close and immediate.

Furthermore, the book constitutes an indirect but concrete proposal for the adoption of archaeological photo-ethnography as a research as well as public communication tool for critical heritage studies, today.

Also available in hardback and paperback printed editions:
Click here to purchase paperback edition priced £30.00.
Click here to purchase hardback edition priced £55.00.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Note for downloading: PDF displays best in Chrome. For best results right-click 'Download (pdf)' below and use the option 'Save link as...' to save a local copy to your computer/device.
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David Stuart (Maya Decipherment)

More Deathly Sport

by Stephen Houston, Brown University

Some years ago, I posted a blog suggesting a distinct pattern in urban form among the ancient Maya. This was an alignment in which ballcourt alleys pointed towards royal interments (Houston 2014, Deathly Sport). Another example comes to mind. A fine map by George Bey and William Ringle shows the location, at Ek’ Balam, Yucatan, of the ballcourt at the site. A reference to that feature may appear in the local texts, in Room 29sb, Mural B, yet the preceding, partly effaced sign, …bu, probably cues a stairway, ehb. Ballplay sometimes took place on such features.

Here is my photograph of the much-restored ballcourt (Figure 1), followed, in the next image, by the Bey/Ringle map (Figure 2).

thumb_IMG_2341_1024 (1).jpg

Figure 1. Ek’ Balam ballcourt, with alley pointing toward the “Acropolis” at the site (note thatching over tomb building, top-center; photograph by Stephen Houston).

Screen Shot 2016-07-23 at 1.49.04 PM.png

Figure 2. Map of epicentral Ek’ Balam, with arrow added for orientation and sight-line towards tomb (cartography by George Bey and William Ringle).

The skewed alignment, headed not towards the center of the Acropolis but to an area just west of its main axis, transports the gaze to the location of a spectacular tomb. That grave was found under Room 49 by Leticia Vargas de la Peña y Víctor R. Castillo Borges. To my knowledge, the tomb has not been published in full. But, as shown by Alfonso Lacadena (2004), it surely belonged to the principal lord of the site, U Kit Kan Lehk (the final word of his name is insecurely transliterated).

Screen Shot 2016-07-23 at 2.16.35 PM.png

Figure 3. Location of royal tomb in Acropolis (map by Vargas de la Peña y Víctor R. Castillo Borges).

There are as yet no detailed publications on the relative chronology of these features—did the ballcourt come before the tomb or after?  Nor do I have readings from a Total Station of the precise alignment. But these buildings may well add to the growing evidence for links between ballplay and the illustrious dead. 


Houston, Stephen. 2014. Deathly Sport. Maya Decipherment: Ideas on Ancient Maya Writing and Iconography Deathly Sport.

Lacadena García-Gallo, Alfonso. 2004.The Glyphic Corpus from Ek’ Balam, Yucatán, México. Report to the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc. Ek’ Balam texts

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Open Access Journal: Journal for Semitics - Tyjdskrif vir Semitistiek

[First posted in AWOL 3 October 2013, updated (new URL) 23 July 2016]

Journal for Semitics - Tyjdskrif vir Semitistiek
ISSN 1013-8471
Journal for Semitics
The Journal for Semitics is published by the Southern African Society for Near Eastern Studies (SASNES). The journal is published twice annually. Journal for Semitics is an accredited journal of the Department of Education.

See AWOL's full List of Open Access Journals in Ancient Studies

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Who is "Lisa", who is "Adam"?

"Hansons are delighted to have metal detecting find experts, Lisa and Adam involved". Why are no surnames given for these "experts" ? In what are they expert? Which way up to hold a metal detector? UK antiquities legislation? The identification of objects? Working with metal detectorists? Are these "metal detecting find experts" FLOs by any chance? As a reader has pointed out, there is a pair of FLOs from a nearby county which have these Christian names. I would hate to think that these are the "metal detecting find experts" working with the auction house which is currently refusing to answer the question on establishing title to sell. We remember what happened to the FLO found selling Roman coins when Roger Bland ran the PAS.

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Hale and Buck: A Latin Grammar

Hale and Buck: A Latin Grammar


Hale and Buck's A Latin Grammar was first published by Ginn and Company in 1903. This edition is a collation of the two different versions of the original that I am aware of, hereafter referred to as versions A and B.

The Scans

Corrections and bug reports

If you notice any errors, please enter them in the issue trackeror via email to

Editorial practices

Throughout I have tried to emulate the typographical conventions of the original fairly closely, but I have not hesitated to depart from them where convenient. Most such changes can pass without comment, but one perhaps requires some justification. In the original, there are many instances of paragraphs that are set in a smaller type than the main text, for example, 269 a and 270 a, b. An examination of the changes made in version B reveals that many of them are similarly reduced in size, which makes me think that most if not all such passages represent changes made in galleys. In other words, I believe the smaller typeface was used solely (or at least primarily) in order to make room for late additions to the page rather than to indicate that this material is somehow of less importance. Especially in view of the absence of any indication by the authors that they attach any such meaning to variation in type size, I have not tried to preserve such variations. (It's possible, of course, that the smaller type size does carry meaning in some cases, and there is sufficient variation in style to foster doubt. But if so, I'm unable to distinguish the cases.)

Ancient Peoples

Gold Bracelet with Deities Representing Fertility and Good...

Gold Bracelet with Deities Representing Fertility and Good Fortune

Romano-Egyptian, 1st century B.C.–A.D. 1st century

Powerful talismans of fertility and good destiny are woven into this rich golden composition. The bodies of two snakes intertwine to form a Herakles knot, the centerpiece of this bracelet. The snake on the left represents Agathodaimon, and the cobra on the right Terenouthis, two agrarian/fertility deities associated with Serapis and Isis, respectively. On the platform between them stand two goddesses, Isis-Tyche (or Isis-Fortuna), a deity closely associated with Alexandria, and the nude Aphrodite.     

Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Archaeology News Network

Ancient wooden strips from Horyuji temple stun researchers

Eight ancient strips of wood adorned with kanji characters were found among treasures dedicated to the imperial family by Horyuji temple in Nara Prefecture in 1878. The front, far right, and the reverse, second from right, of one of the wooden strips now in  the possession of the Tokyo National Museum. They record sales and purchases of rice bales  and salt, respectively. The infrared photos of the two sides are shown on the...

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40,000-Year-Old Rope-Making Tool discovered in Germany

Prof. Nicholas Conard and members of his team, present the discovery of a tool used to make rope in today‘s edition of the journal: Archäologische Ausgrabungen Baden-Württemberg. A 40,000-year-old rope-making tool in Hohle Fels Cave, southwestern Germany  [Credit: University of Tübingen]Rope and twine are critical components in the technology of mobile hunters and gatherers. In exceptional cases impressions of string have been...

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Bronze Age barrow and Anglo-Saxon cemetery discovered in Leicestershire

A University of Leicester project has investigated how different generations have re-used ancient sacred places. The site during excavation. Archaeologists stand around the line of the backfilled Bronze Age barrow ditch.  The Cossington Barrows would have once been positioned in the middle background  [Credit: University of Leicester]Archaeologists from the University of Leicester have recently excavated a Bronze Age barrow...

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James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

Jacob and the Angel for Piano and Orchestra

I expect that I will be using Max Stern’s books about Bible and Music and Psalms and Music in connection with my course on the Bible and Music in the Spring. Stern is a composer, and not only is his piece exploring the story of Jacob wrestling with an angel interesting musically, but the expanded retelling [Read More...]

BiblePlaces Blog

Weekend Roundup, Part 1

The archaeological co-directors provide a summary of this summer’s work at Tel Ein Jezreel.

Archaeologists working at Bethsaida have found some monumental towers guarding the approach ramp to the city gate.

Haaretz (premium) reports on the latest discoveries in the Mount Zion excavation, including a bathtub and a cup with a priestly inscription. Joel Kramer’s drone photo gives a good perspective.

Wayne Stiles reflects this week on lessons to be learned from Jeremiah’s hometown of Anathoth.

For the first time, researchers have succeeded in sequencing the genome of ancient barley grains found in a cave near Masada.

An update on the renovations of Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity includes photos of newly restored mosaics.

IAA inspectors raided a shop in the Old City of Jerusalem suspected to be selling antiquities without a license.

Invitations are now open for a 2017 conference entitled “The Anglo-German Exploration of the Holy Land, 1865-1915.”

Eric Mitchell has begun a series on biblical archaeology for the Christian Examiner.

An article in Forbes asks how augmented reality will affect archaeological sites.

With a recent grant, plans are moving forward in the creation of the Digital Library of the Middle East.

Gordon Govier speaks this week with Cynthia Shafer-Elliott about “Daily Life in Ancient Israel” on the Book and the Spade (part 1, part 2).

Some Leon Uris favorites are on sale for Kindle now: Exodus, Mila 18, QB VII, and others.

HT: Agade, Joseph Lauer, Ted Weis, Charles Savelle, Explorator, Daniel Wright

Elena Cano (Γνωθι τους αλλους)

Una jornada para conocer el pasado romano de Aragón en familia

Este domingo 24 de julio tenéis oportunidad de descubrir uno de los lugares de Aragón más rico en patrimonio romano de mano de los arqueólogos y estudiosos que dirigen las excavaciones en curso. Se trata de Los Bañales, donde además de un acuducto y varios monumentos funerarios se ha descubierto un ciudad que está dando muchas alegrías a los amantes de la historia. El yacimiento se encuentra en la comarca de las Cinco Villas, que ya de por sí merece una visita.
Este domingo se celebra la jornada de puertas abiertas  en la que además de la visita al yacimiento, se han organizado diversos talleres y actividades para conocer mejor la cultura romana. Podéis encontrar el programa completo aquí.
Os recomiendo vivamente la visita. Si estáis lejos o no podéis ir, os podéis hacer una idea visitando su canal de youtube o siguiendo las novedades de la investigación y el trabajo en el yacimiento en su página de Facebook.

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Ancient wooden strips from Horyuji temple stun researchers

Eight ancient strips of wood adorned with kanji characters were found among treasures dedicated to...

He has a wife you know

Overlooking Syracuse was the plateau of epipolae. This was of...

Overlooking Syracuse was the plateau of epipolae. This was of huge strategic importance and where the Athenians co-ordinated the seige from.

Penn Museum Blog

Ankara and Gordion: First Days on the Ground

I boarded a plane at the Philadelphia International Airport last Tuesday at around 10:30 am. Two layovers and 20 sleepless hours later, I landed at Esenboga Airport in Ankara, Turkey, at roughly 1:30 pm local time. I found my checked bag, exchanged some US currency for Turkish Lira, and got myself a yellow cab at the taxi stand outside. While we drove, between my curious stares at the unfamiliar landscape, I quietly studied my translation book and rehearsed my phonetics for when we got to my hotel: “Te-shek-kur e-der-im” (“thank you”) and “mawk-booz al-a-bee-leer me-yim” (“can I please have a receipt”).

My bed at the King Hotel was waiting, where I collapsed into a four-hour nap. Eventually the phone rang, with Brian Rose, Director of the Gordion Project, on the other end, letting me know when I should meet him and some of the other project participants in the lobby. Brian was soon headed off to a party at the Embassy, but I sat by the hotel pool and chatted with Gareth Darbyshire, Gordion Archivist at the Penn Museum, and two other team members: Beth Dusinberre, Professor of Classics at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and Richard Liebhart, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Art & Art History at Elon University. Gareth and I got dinner at a restaurant up the block (a delicious lamb dish with a heaping helping of fresh vegetables, and fruit for dessert) before heading back to the hotel, where my jet lag made me stay up until 3:30 am watching a combination of Al Jazeera news, Sumo wrestling, and occasional glances at something called “BabyTV” which was literally just footage of dangling baby toys with their wind-up music in the background. I’m surprised this hasn’t caught on in the U.S. yet.

DSC_5014Home away from home in Ankara.

The next day, before we headed out to the excavation site, Brian and Richard took me into Ankara, directly to one of the local carpet stores—clearly a familiar haunt for the two of them. The owner promptly served us tea, and commenced in presenting what seemed like half of his inventory of gorgeous, handwoven carpets of all sizes to Brian and Richard. Brian was looking for something to fill a specific space in his home in Philadelphia, and had me take some photos for reference, while Richard agonized over whether he could justify the purchase of yet another carpet.

A view of some of the beautiful carpets on display.A view of some of the beautiful carpets on display.




Brian examines a woven pouch, intended for use as a baby cradle, but just as good as a table cover.Brian examines a woven pouch, intended for use as a baby cradle, but just as good as a table cover.


A view of Ankara.A view of Ankara.

We walked through the neighborhood, which felt far more like an old village than part of a city. Along the way we saw vendors of all kinds, handling and selling everything from sheep’s wool to colored rocks to handmade ornaments for minarets to be used at mosques.

DSC_5000A man tends to his wool.
A dazzling selection of trinkets for sale.A dazzling selection of trinkets for sale.
Crafting a minaret ornament.Crafting a minaret ornament.

Before long, we were off to the excavation site, just over an hour drive from Ankara into the Polatli District and the village of Yassıhöyük (or “flat mound”), which takes its name from the ancient citadel on which the excavations are based. Therein, the Gordion Excavation House (commonly referred to as “the White House”) awaited; Brian gave me a brief tour of the house and the property, and I was promptly greeted by the house budgie, Bulut (Turkish for “cloud).

The Gordion Excavation House, also known as the “White House.”The Gordion Excavation House, also known as the “White House.”
HDR5The old project truck, waiting for repairs, with the project storage facility in the background.
IMG_1344My digs for the next two weeks, shared with my roommate, Ramon.
IMG_1345Bulut says “Welcome to Gordion, Tom!”

I met the housekeeping staff and many of the project participants, of whom there were about 35 when I arrived. The team takes its “weekends” on Wednesday and Thursday, and this being a Thursday, several of them were outside playing some kind of ping pong/musical chairs mashup game. I snapped photos of them and of the resident cat family, before the bell rang for dinner—consisting of sausage, pilav, beans and potatoes, fresh vegetables, and homemade yogurt from the village. A nice sunset gave way to another relatively poor night of sleep, in spite of my comfortable sleeping quarters on the first floor.

DSC_5101An interesting take on ping pong.
The resident mama kitty, with one of her kittens behind her.The resident mama kitty, with one of her kittens behind her.
…And a show.…And a show.

The same bell that rings for dinner also rings at 5:00 am for breakfast—a colorful selection of mostly vegetables, fruits, and cheese. We all suited up and headed for the excavation site, just down the road from the White House, where I was quickly put to work on a surveying project. I worked with Braden Cordivari, a rising junior at Penn and one of the select few undergraduate students working on the project. We spent the morning working with the total station, which gives us readings on slope distances; this was a great first project, as it gave me a good walkthrough of the Citadel Mound, the former site of the ancient city center and the primary focus of the excavations.

Braden sets up the total station.Braden sets up the total station.
Giving directions to my next point of reference.Giving directions to my next point of reference.
Braden speaks with Ramon (at right), who is helping to direct a trench excavation.Braden speaks with Ramon (at right), who is helping to direct a trench excavation.
My helping hand.My helping hand.

One of the major undertakings on the site involves the fortification of the Early Phrygian citadel gate. It was originally built in the 9th century BCE, and was subsequently buried as a result of a major fire in 800 BCE. A second citadel gate was then built on top of it, which weakened the masonry of the first gateway; that masonry was weakened further by an earthquake in central-western Turkey in 1999, resulting in a bulge developing in one of the walls. To deal with this problem, the project developed a program to conserve the wall, which involved the erection of scaffolding around the wall, and the installation of a crane on top of the scaffolding that enables the team to lift the damaged blocks, consolidate them, and ultimately replace them on the wall. This is a five-year program, currently in its fourth year.

The massive scaffolding at the citadel gate.The massive scaffolding at the citadel gate.
Workers move stones from the citadel gate atop the scaffolding.Workers move stones from the citadel gate atop the scaffolding.

Nearby, the team is also dealing with the rubble fill, which was originally put in place to raise the gate around the Early Phrygian gate to raise the ground level five meters higher when the Middle Phrygian settlement was constructed. The rubble fill was excavated in part by Rodney Young in the 1950s; since then, some of the rubble fill collapsed, thereby endangering the blocks of the Middle Phrygian gate built above it. The team is working this year to lift the surviving blocks from the gate, reconstruct them in another part of the gate, and shave back the rubble fill to an angle of 45 degrees in order to give it greater stability. This includes the use of a crane on several days of the week.

The rubble fill next to the citadel gate.The rubble fill next to the citadel gate.
The crane lifts a block from the citadel gate.The crane lifts a block from the citadel gate.
Workers carefully guide the block to a safe point at the top of the gate.Workers carefully guide the block to a safe point at the top of the gate.

The rubble fill was stabilized in antiquity through the insertion of wooden beams at various points. This was a common practice among Phrygian builders, who used wood extensively for stabilization purposes, even in stone buildings. As the excavation team shaves back the rubble, they have encountered several of these wooden beams, which were laid during the early 8th century BCE. As the beams are identified, the rubble around them is being cleared so that the beams can be removed and subjected to dendrochronological analysis, which will help to firm up the chronology of the laying of the rubble fill.

Climbing the rubble fill.Climbing the rubble fill.
An 8th-century BCE wooden beam in situ in the rubble fill.An 8th-century BCE wooden beam in situ in the rubble fill.
Brian observes as team members work to clear the area around the beam.Brian observes as team members work to clear the area around the beam.

It was a very busy first day on site; the excitement, combined with a touch of jet lag, had me up well past the rest of the team’s bedtime and glued to my iPhone to pass the time. Before I could go to bed, though, news broke that a military coup was being attempted back in the capital (which ultimately failed); this news was followed by a flurry of text messages and emails from friends and family asking if I was okay. Out here in the countryside, I wouldn’t have had any idea if not for my phone; needless to say, we are all safe, and work continued like normal the next morning. But what a whirlwind of a first day on the job it was.

More to come from the Gordion Archaeological Project in the coming days and weeks.

Adrian Murdoch (Bread and Circuses)

3D app for Antonine Wall

Exciting news that thanks to a grant from Creative Europe, a 3D app is going to be developed for the Antonine Wall. “Over the last twelve months we have made great strides in digitally interpreting the Antonine Wall. Thanks to...

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

What Does “Biblical” Mean?

Chuck Queen wrote a helpful post recently, sharing his own experience of interacting with someone who insisted the Bible was clear – but didn’t accept its “clear” teaching on certain matters. The quote above is from that post. Click through to read the rest. I’ve said it often before, but it bears repeating. One should never say [Read More...]

Jim Davila (

Review of Gardner, Alcock, and Funk, Coptic Documentary Texts from Kellis, Vol. 2

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Dandamaev, A political history of the Achaemenid Empire, rev. ed.

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Cosmic secrets in 3 Enoch

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Compitum - publications

Y. Roman, Rome, de Romulus à Constantin. Histoire d'une première mondialisation


Yves Roman, Rome, de Romulus à Constantin. Histoire d'une première mondialisation, Lausanne, 2016.

Éditeur : Payot
Collection : Bibliothèque historique Payot
560 pages
ISBN : 9782228914369
28 €

Et si la mondialisation était née à Rome ? Telle est la thèse audacieuse d'Yves Roman, qui bat en brèche la perception communément admise d'un empire fondamentalement biculturel, à la fois grec et romain, et d'une « économie-monde » née au tournant des XVe et XVIe siècles avec l'apparition du capitalisme.
La grande réussite de cette tentative d'unifier le monde, de ce « décloisonnement » de la Méditerranée à partir de l'Italie, depuis les origines de Rome au VIIIe siècle av. J.-C. jusqu'au IVe siècle apr. J.-C., fut de construire, par-delà les clivages et différences politiques, culturelles et économiques, une identité romaine forte dans l'ensemble des territoires alors sous sa domination. Une identité rendue possible grâce à un essaim de colonies et de villes, à un exceptionnel réseau de routes, ponts et aqueducs, à d'innombrables navires marchands et à une société multiculturelle, qui toléra d'étonnantes cohabitations de croyances mais imposa largement une même langue, le latin, et un même culte, celui de l'empereur. Un panorama ambitieux et passionnant, doublé d'une leçon d'intégration à méditer.

Source : Payot

Jim Davila (

Jerusalem Museum of Tolerance set for 2018 completion

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More on claymation "Golem"

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Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

Una nomination Unesco che unisce patrimonio naturale e culturale in Iraq assistita da tecnologie geospaziali

L'Unesco ha nominato le paludi irachene patrimonio dell'umanità, accendendo un punto a favore per un paese dove i jihadisti hanno ripetutamente cercato di cancellare la storia. Molte tecnologie geospaziali hanno giocato un ruolo fondamentale per la costruzione del dossier, appoggiando esperti del soprassuolo e sottosuolo, tramite sistemi informativi geografici, tecnologie di documentazione fotogrammetriche, costruzione di modelli 3D da nuvole di punti, immagini satellitari, cartografia di dettaglio, mappatura della storia tramite le iscrizioni e progetto di conservazione in ambienti ostili.

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Bottle Digging as Archaeology

The Centre of East Anglian Studies at the University of East Anglia has been digging Victorian and Edwardian rubbish dumps in a community excavation project involving researchers, student diggers, and local history societies called What East Anglia Threw Away. This investigates a region through its rubbish in the era before World War I.
it brings together researchers, student diggers, and local history societies in the shared delights of exploring old rubbish dumps. After digging up refuse near the former schoolhouse in Bergh Apton, we identified the schoolmistress who threw it away, by examining the School Log. At Castle Rising, we excavated a dump abandoned at the outbreak of World War I, when the dustman went off to fight. Enhancing local knowledge, providing training for students, and forging links between regional researchers and the University are part of The Centre’s mission. We also hope to discover how products were transported around the region, what was consumed, and how systems of waste disposal have evolved to the present day.
There is a website which many interested in bygones will find interesting.
Hat tip Dorothy King

FBI returns seven Mayan objects to Guatemala from Los Angeles collection

Dan Whitcomb, 'FBI repatriates recovered 1,000-year-old Mayan artifacts to Guatemala ' Fri Jul 22, 2016
[US] Federal authorities on Friday formally repatriated a collection of more than thousand-year-old Mayan artifacts to the Guatemalan government at a ceremony in Los Angeles after recovering them from the estate of a deceased art collector.
We need to be detecting them in collections while their buyer is still alive in order to find out more about where they came from and by what route. Merely "repatriating" them is no solution.In this case however it seems there is a rough idea of who was involved/ Three of the sculptures:
have been traced to the Late Classic Maya Era (A.D. 600-900). According to the FBI, experts say the fragments were uncovered near a ruined temple building in the Petexbatun Region of Guatemala and that an inscription found on them is part of a text that served as a primitive calendar. The other four pieces were thought to have originated in the El Peru area of Guatemala and believed to date to the Early Classic Period (A.D. 400-600). [...] the items were believed to have been purchased by the now-deceased art collector in the 1970s from a man who was convicted during that decade of dealing in other artifacts that were illegally brought to the United States. No charges were ever filed in connection with the seven pieces repatriated on Friday. The U.S. government has an agreement with Guatemala restricting the import of archaeological artifacts.
The phrase "no charges were ever filed..." seems to indicate that the authorities knew of the objects' presence in the US before they surfaced on the collector's death - and therefore presumably that the collector knew that objects in their collection were of illicit origin, but kept them anyway for as long as they could. If that is so, their shame follows them to the grave, they are hiding their shadowy deeds behind anonymity. If collectors are doing nothing to be ashamed of, why are they and their families so intent on keeping their names out of the public domain?

July 22, 2016

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Early humans used mammoth ivory tool to make rope

TüBINGEN, Germany, July 22 (UPI) – Despite its technological importance to early...

The Archaeology News Network

New materials needed to rebuild monuments in Syria's Palmyra

Two ancient monuments in the Syrian city of Palmyra were so badly damaged by Islamic State that they can only be rebuilt using substantially new materials, Russian officials said on Thursday. Syrian army soldiers stands on the ruins of the Temple of Bel in the historic city of Palmyra, in Homs Governorate,  Syria in this April 1, 2016 file photo [Credit: Reuters/Omar Sanadiki]If that were to happen, many historians would view the...

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Archaeology Magazine

Orkney Ness Brogdar arm bone

ORKNEY, SCOTLAND—A human arm bone has been found during excavation of Neolithic buildings at the Ness of Brodgar in Orkney, an archipelago off the north coast of Scotland, according to a report in The National. Archaeologists from the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute who have been excavating the site since 2002 believe the bone may have been placed intentionally and could have belonged to the founder of the complex. The Ness of Brodgar is located between the Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness. It dates to the Neolithic period and features a number of buildings enclosed within a massive stone wall. Excavations have unearthed a sizeable amount of Neolithic artwork, pottery, animal bones, and stone tools. To read in-depth about this site, go to “Neolithic Europe's Remote Heart.”

Excavations AlamoSAN ANTONIO, TEXAS—Achaeologists are excavating at the site of the Alamo in an effort to locate the 18th-century mission’s original south and western adobe walls, according to Texas Public Radio. The dig is part of a planned eight-year effort the redevelop the World Heritage site. “To re-imagine the Alamo we first have to rediscover it,” says city archaeologist Kay Hindes. “So the work that we’re doing here is to try to determine the exact compound walls and to confirm those in the ground.” The team is using archival maps and leads provided by a 1970s-era excavation at the site to guide their work. In addition to the mission's original walls, they expect to find artifacts left behind by both the Catholic priests and Native Americans who lived at the site. To read about the archaeology of this period in the Southwest, go to "Searching for the Comanche Empire."

Egypt Neolithic SiteGEBEL RAMLAH, EGYPT—Polish archaeologists excavating in Egypt's Western Desert around a now-dried lake have unearthed a number of Neolithic sites dating from 11,000 to 7,000 years ago, allowing them to track cultural changes during the period, reports Science & Scholarship in Poland. In addition to evidence for small settlements and a number of cemeteries, the researchers discovered a large ochre-making workshop where people processed hematite into the red dye, which was used for clothing and also sprinkled into the graves in nearby cemeteries. "The most important conclusion after a few seasons of the research is this: the people had very diverse burial rites," says archaeologist Jacek Kabacinski, the expedition leader. "This suggests that perhaps we are dealing with different, independent groups of people who had used a very limited area for funeral purposes." Kabacinski speculates that when the climate grew drier toward the end of the Neolithic period and the lake became seasonal, people were forced into greater mobility, taking their flocks from watering hole to watering hole, which indirectly led to contact with more far-flung communities. To read in-depth about this period in Europe, go to "The Neolithic Toolkit." 

China Silk Road hygiene sticksCAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND—Analysis of ancient feces shows that infectious parasites were transported on China’s Silk Road along with valuable goods. Researchers excavated the 2,000-year-old excrement from a latrine at Xuanquanzhi, a major stopping point along the legendary trading route in northwestern China. The feces were found on “personal hygiene sticks,” rods wrapped with cloth at one end that travelers used to clean themselves after defecating. Microscopic examination revealed the eggs of four parasitic intestinal worms in the feces, including those of Chinese river fluke, which thrives in wet areas and could not have come from the area where the excavation took place—the arid Tamrin Basin. The worm is most common in Guangdong Province, around 1,240 miles from the site, suggesting that the traveler infected with it most likely journeyed a great distance. “This is the earliest evidence for the spread of infectious diseases along the Silk Road,” Piers Mitchell of the University of Cambridge told Live Science, “and the first to find evidence at an archaeological site along the Silk Road itself.” For more, go to “Vikings, Worms, and Emphysema.”

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Open Access Monograph Series: Estudos de Egiptologia

Estudos de Egiptologia
O Laboratório de Egiptologia do Museu Nacional é o primeiro Laboratório no Brasil dedicado ao estudo da arqueologia do Egito antigo. Ligado ao Museu Nacional da UFRJ, o Laboratório tem como foco a pesquisa arqueológica da coleção egípcia do museu, a maior da América Latina, e a arqueologia do Egito antigo.

Sob coordenação do Prof. Dr. Antonio Brancaglion, o Laboratório desenvolve diferentes linhas de pesquisa que objetivam a análise dos objetos arqueológicos egípcios, bem como a compreensão da sociedade egípcia em diversos períodos.
1) Semna – Estudos de Egiptologia I (2014), orgs. Antonio Brancaglion Jr., Thais Rocha da Silva, Rennan de Souza Lemos e Raizza Teixeira dos Santos, Prefácio: Dr. Chris Naunton, Seshat/Editora Klínē.

Capa Estudos de Egiptologia I SEMNA
(clique na imagem para fazer download)
Trabalhos apresentados na I SEMNA não incluídos neste volume
Equipe organizadora da I SEMNA
Lista de autores
Apresentação, os organizadores
Prefácio/Foreword, Chris Naunton (Egypt Exploration Society, Londres)
Auxiliares para o renascimento: estátuas funerárias de Osíris e Ptah-Sokar-Osíris da coleção do Museu Nacional/UFRJ, Simone Bielesch
Para falar aos deuses: estudo das estatuetas votivas da coleção egípcia do Museu Nacional, Cintia Prates Facuri (Museu Nacional, UFRJ)
Tecnologias tridimensionais aplicadas em pesquisas arqueológicas de múmias egípcias, Simonte Belmonte (INT), Jorge Lopes (PUC-Rio/INT) e Antonio Brancaglion Jr (Museu Nacional, UFRJ)
Amarna: pintando uma nova paisagem, Rennan de Souza Lemos (Museu Nacional, UFRJ)
As representações da família real amarniana e a consolidação de uma nova visão de mundo durante o reinado de Akhenaton (1353-1335 a. C.), Gisela Chapot (UFF)
Hierarquia e mobilidade social no antigo Egito do Reino Novo, Nely Feitoza Arrais (UNILASALLE-RJ)
Implicações econômicas dos templos egípcios e a constituição de poderes locais: um estudo sobre o Reino Antigo, Maria Thereza David João (USP)
Sobre a importância da teoria social na egiptologia econômica, Fábio Frizzo (UFF)
Identidade, gênero e poder no Egito Romano, Marcia Severina Vasques (UFRN)
“E me traga essa carta de volta”. As cartas aos deuses e os estudos de gênero no Egito Ptolomaico. Contribuições da antropologia, Thais Rocha da Silva (USP/Museu Nacional, UFRJ)
As estelas funerárias com o morto reclinado em uma cama funerária: etnia, identidade emaranhamento cultural no Baixo Egito durante o Período Romano, Pedro Luiz Diniz von Seehausen (Museu Nacional, UFRJ)
Adriano e o Egito: a construção de um modelo egipcianizante para a Villa Adriana, Evelyne Azevedo (Museu Nacional, UFRJ)

2) Semna– Estudos de Egiptologia II (2015), orgs. Antonio Brancaglion Jr., Rennan de Souza Lemos e Raizza Teixeira dos Santos, Seshat/Editora Klínē.
CAPA SEMNA II(clique na imagem para fazer download)
Des hommes et des dieux : une approche anthropologique de la religion Egyptienne, Christiane Zivie-Coche
Homens e deuses: uma abordagem antropológica da religião egípcia, Chistiane Zivie-Coche (tradução: C. A. Gama-Rolland)
Agindo como deuses: um olhar sobre a família real nos relevos amarnianos (1353-1335 a. C.), Gisela Chapot
A divindade Serápis: cultura, religião e sincretismo na Alexandria greco-romana, Joana Campos Clímaco
Expressões materiais da devoção pessoal no Egito antigo, Cintia Prates Facuri
Egipcianização e resistência na Núbia da XVIII Dinastia, Fábio Frizzo
Narrativas da restauração: referências sobre a Reforma Amarniana nos governos sucessores, Vanessa Fronza
A representação real nos shabtis do Novo Império, Cintia A. Gama-Rolland
Amenemope, o coração e a filosofia, ou a cardiografia (do pensamento), Renato Noguera
“Uma inundação no céu para os estrangeiros”” o projeto de expansão da religião de Amarna na Núbia, Regina Coeli Pinheiro da Silva e Rennan de Souza Lemos
A Janela das Aparições e as concepções post-mortem na necrópole de Akhetaton, André Effgen
O que queremos que as mulheres nos escrevam? As cartas demóticas e os estudos de gênero entre a iconografia e a papirologia, Thais Rocha da Silva
La vida y la muerte en la conformación de redes sociales en la necrópolis tebana, Egipto, Liliana Manzi y Maria Victoria Nicora
A Cleópatra de Mankiewicz (1963): imperialismo, eurocentrismo e etnicidade na representação cinematográfica da Antiguidade, Renata Soares de Souza
Um espelho de Kemet: experiência e espaço no Livro dos Mortos, Keidy Narelly Costa Matias
A imagem divina de Menkeret na tumba de Tutankhamun, Raizza Teixeira dos Santos

The Archaeology News Network

Turkish archaeologist complains after sponsors refuse to fund brothel excavation

Excavation teams at an ancient site in the southern Turkish province of Antalya are struggling to find sponsors after it emerged that the site contains an ancient brothel, the head of the excavation team, Professor Hüseyin Sabri Alanyalı, has said. View of ruins at the ancient Greek city of Side [Credit: DHA]“Our budget from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism has fallen drastically. It has dropped by two thirds compared to last year....

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Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Open Access Monograph Series: Agora Picture Books

Agora Picture Books

The primary purpose of the Agora Picture Book series is to enliven the experience of a visitor to the Athenian Agora, excavated by the American School since 1931. While drawing on the object and monuments that can be viewed on a visit to the site, these well-illustrated guides attempt to add some human color to the dry material remains. A number of the concise guides have become popular supplementary texts for undergraduate and graduate classes in classical civilization. Since 1998 the Picture Books have been published in color.

1: Pots and Pans of Classical Athens - by Brian A. Sparkes and Lucy Talcott
2: The Stoa of Attalos II in Athens - by Homer A. Thompson
3: Miniature Sculpture from the Athenian Agora - by Dorothy B. Thompson
4: The Athenian Citizen: Democracy in the Athenian Agora - by Mabel Lang, revised by John McK. Camp II
4: The Athenian Citizen: (Modern Greek Edition) - by Mabel Lang, revised by John McK. Camp II, translated by Irini Marathaki
5: Ancient Portraits from the Athenian Agora - by Evelyn B. Harrison
6: Amphoras and the Ancient Wine Trade - by Virginia R. Grace
7: The Middle Ages in the Athenian Agora - by Alison Frantz
8: Garden Lore of Ancient Athens - by Dorothy B. Thompson and Ralph E. Griswold
9: Lamps from the Athenian Agora - by Judith Perlzweig
10: Inscriptions from the Athenian Agora - by Benjamin D. Meritt
11: Waterworks in the Athenian Agora - by Mabel Lang
12: An Ancient Shopping Center: The Athenian Agora - by Dorothy B. Thompson
13: Early Burials from the Agora Cemeteries - by Sara A. Immerwahr
14: Graffiti in the Athenian Agora - by Mabel Lang
15: Greek and Roman Coins in the Athenian Agora - by Fred S. Kleiner
16: The Athenian Agora: A Short Guide to the Excavations - by John McK. Camp II
16: The Athenian Agora: A Short Guide to the Excavations (Modern Greek) - by John McK. Camp II
17: Socrates in the Agora - by Mabel Lang
18: Mediaeval and Modern Coins in the Athenian Agora - by Fred S. Kleiner
19: Gods and Heroes in the Athenian Agora - by John McK. Camp II
20: Bronzeworkers in the Athenian Agora - by Carol C. Mattusch
21: Ancient Athenian Building Methods - by John McK. Camp II and William B. Dinsmoor Jr.
22: Birds of the Athenian Agora - by Robert D. Lamberton and Susan I. Rotroff
23: Life, Death, and Litigation in the Athenian Agora - by Mabel Lang
24: Horses and Horsemanship in the Athenian Agora - by John McK. Camp II
25: The Games at Athens - by Jenifer Neils and Stephen V. Tracy
26: Women in the Athenian Agora - by Susan I. Rotroff and Robert D. Lamberton
27: Marbleworkers in the Athenian Agora - by Carol L. Lawton

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Ancient Roman treasure trove unearthed on Costa Brava

A trove of ancient Roman treasure has been discovered on Spain’s Costa Brava by a team of...

David Stuart (Maya Decipherment)

Maya Stelae and Multi-Media

by Stephen Houston, Brown University 

Most Maya stelae are slabs of quarried limestone. Others come from the volcaniclastic tuff of Copan or the slate of western Belize and the sites linked to that region. Anyone looking at Stela 9 of Calakmul, a slender, easily fractured monument of slate, must wonder how it got there intact (Ruppert and Denison 1943:101–2; see also Healy et al. 1995).

But what survives of a stela may be just a fraction of its former self.

In a chilling note, suitable for Halloween, when it was posted, David Stuart drew attention to a few, rare images of Maya stelae on pots (Stuart 2014, Sacrifice Scene). Sacrifice is afoot, literally so in the form of deities or impersonators padding or dancing about (Figure 1). In one scene a pedestaled altar supports a gutted figure in unusual pose. The victim looks out at the viewer. The call for empathy, revulsion or some other, unfathomable emotion is direct, the “fourth wall” quite broken in this case. Viewing equates to participation. The other image takes this process a bit further or in a new direction. The victim is now prone rather than supine, if still on an altar. His detached head appears on top of the stela. Blades or bone awls scourged and pierced the body before its decapitation. As in the Bonampak murals, or other images of tortured war captives, he bleeds from wounds on the thigh and perhaps the stomach (Miller and Brittenham 2013:fig. 210; see also Houston 2008, Maya Bailiff).

Stela with feitshes above

Figure 1. Maya stelae and human sacrifices (K8351 [left] and K8719 [right], photographs by Justin Kerr, © Kerr Associates). 

Other media draw our attention, too. Consider the fetish-like arrangement of paper or cloth, some of it knotted or tied into bows, possibly entangled with extracted body parts. Are those entrails on top of the stela to the left? I suspect the victims were still alive for part of this agony. After all, in Europe, disembowelment and external spooling of intestines were the usual punishments for regicides. The aim was to stretch out, literally and figuratively, the horror of conscious dying (Jardine 2005; for Japanese seppuku, see Fuse 1980).

As archaeologists, we tend to overlook the perishable world. Our focus, of course, is on what lies at hand. Yet there are unusual circumstances where bits of wood or scraps of cloths survive. Or, as in these examples, certain images suggest that Maya stelae were not just blocks of stone. They could also display or incorporate perishables, things inherently ephemeral and needing periodic replacement or alternation. Indeed, this may explain why the term for Maya stelae, deciphered as lakamtuun by David Stuart, meant, among the range of possible readings, “banner-stone” (Stuart 2010, LAKAM Logogram; see also Lacadena García-Gallo 2008:36, citing Barrera Vásquez 1980:434). In such a descriptive, cloth combines with stone.

There are other well-known depictions of stelae with perishables. First is a graffito from Tikal, on the south wall of Str. 5D-43, that shows cross-hatching over its surface (Figure 2 [left]). To be sure, this may simply be a way of indicating darkness or red paint, a convention found in many times and places (e.g., Myrberg 2010) and often used to show something dark or black in Maya color-coding (Houston et al. 2009:33–35). The other, on a peccary skull excavated from Tomb I at Copan, is somewhat clearer (Figure 2 [right], see also Peccary scan). Tautly entwined ropes cross the front of the stela, leaving exposed the stone underneath. From this evidence, Stuart argued, on good grounds, that stelae or altars sometimes had such wrappings (Stuart 1996). Stone may have been visible, then covered, then uncovered again. Carvings were less about sustained legibility than intermittent exposure or, in a paradox, their “concealed presence,” an understanding that something was there but held back from public gaze.

Figure 2

Figure 2. Graffiti recorded by Helen Trik (Kampen and Trik 1983:fig. 46b) and close-up, Peccary Skull, Peabody Number 92-49-20/C201 (photographer unknown).

Mayanists have taken this evidence to heart. The data are nothing new. Seldom mentioned, however, at least in recent memory, is a relevant carving from Ixkun, Guatemala (Figure 3). I first visited the site in 2015, accompanied by two former students, Nicholas Carter and Sarah Newman. There, on the immense Stela 1, I was astonished to see multiple holes drilled around the sides and top. “Immense” fits this stone to a T: the carving is 3.72 m high, exclusive of its buried stela-butt. Sylvanus Morley noted “[a] series of holes pass through the two front edges of the shaft, four on each side, for fastening something to the front vertical edges of the monument” (Morley 1938:183). In a later visit, Ian Graham observed: “[o]n either side four cord holders have been drilled at intervals along the rear edge, passing through to the back” (Graham 1980:137). 

Ixkun stela holes_Page_1

Figure 3. Drill holes on Ixkun Stela 1 (photograph by Nicholas Carter). 

What to make of this? First, there is the obvious, that perishables were attached to Stela 1 on an intermittent basis. A one-off ceremony, an unveiling only, would not account for such carefully drilled holes. But were there only cords, as on the Peccary Skull, or full coverings to conceal the carving underneath? Attaching skulls, body parts, and sundry fetishes is a more distant possibility. The position of the holes signals a wish for even coverage of the surface by some wrapping. The location of Stela 1 across from an E-Group, a building oriented towards solar, horizon events, hints at when the stela was exposed, i.e., calendrically or by auspicious appearances of the sun. Fire-drilling and incensing also highlight parts of its text and image. Both captives take, in fact, the ch’ajoom, “incenser” epithet in the very first glyph block of their names. A gendered take on this composite, multi-media production is worth mentioning too. By all available clues, carvings of this sort were made by men. A covering of cloth probably involved the work of women.

Ixkun Stela 1 may be an anomaly. If such holes exist on other stelae, I do not know of them. But the drill holes suggest the periodic covering or lashing and unwrapping of dynastic monuments, especially for ones the size and width of the Ixkun stela. Carvings of stone were only part of these composite productions.


Barrera Vásquez, Alfredo. 1980. Diccionario Maya Cordemex: Maya-Español, Español-Maya. Ediciones Cordemex, Mérida.

Fuse, Toyomas. 1980. Suicide and Culture in Japan: A Study of Seppuku as an Institutionalized Form of Suicide. Social Psychiatry 15:57–63. Seppuku

Graham, Ian. 1980. Corpus of Maya Hieroglyphic Inscriptions, Volume 2, Part 3: Ixkun, Ucanal, Ixtutz, Naranjo. Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, Cambridge.

Healy, Paul F., Jaime J. Awe, Gyles Iannone, and Cassandra R. Bill. 1995. Pacbitun (Belize) and Ancient Maya Use of Slate. Antiquity 69:337-348.

Houston, Stephen. A Classic Maya Bailiff? Maya Decipherment: Ideas on Ancient Maya Writing and Iconography Maya Bailiff.

Houston, Stephen, Claudia Brittenham, Cassandra Mesick, Alexandre Tokovinine, and Christina Warinner. 2009. Veiled Brightness: A History of Ancient Maya Color. University of Texas Press, Austin.

Jardine, Lisa. 2005. The Awful End of Prince William the Silent: The First Assassination of a Head of State with a Handgun. HarperCollins, New York.

Lacadena García-Gallo, Alfonso. 2008. El titulo Lakam: Evidencia epigráfica sobre la organización tributaria y militar interna de los reinos mayas del clásico. Mayab no. 20, pp. 23-43.

Miller, Mary, and Claudia Brittenham. 2013. The Spectacle of the Late Maya Court: Reflections on the Murals of Bonampak. University of Texas Press, Austin.

Morley, Sylvanus G. 1938. The Inscriptions of Peten, Volume II. Carnegie Institution of Washington, Publication 437. Washington, D.C.  

Myrberg, Nanouschka. 2010. The Colour of Money: Crusaders and coins in the Thirteenth-century Baltic Sea. In Making Sense of Things: Archaeologies of Sensory Perception, edited by Fredrik Fahlander and Anna Kjellström, pp. 83–102. Stockholm Studies in Archaeology 53. Department of Archaeological and Classical history, Stockholm University, Stockholm

Ruppert, Karl, and John H. Denison, Jr. 1943. Archaeological Reconnaissance in Campeche, Quintana Roo, and Peten. Carnegie Institution of Washington, Publication 543. Washington, D.C.  

Stuart, David. 1996. Kings of Stone: A Consideration of Stelae in Ancient Maya Ritual and Representation. RES, Anthropology and Aesthetics 29/30:148–171. Kings of Stone

—2014. Notes on a Sacrifice Scene. Maya Decipherment: Ideas on Ancient Maya Writing and Iconography Sacrifice Scene.

Trik, Helen, and Michael E. Kampen. 1983. Tikal Report No. 31: The Graffiti of Tikal. University Museum Monograph 57. University Museum, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.


Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Cappelli Online

Cappelli Online

Die Daten des  Cappelli online wurden durch Crowdsourcing unter Einsatz vieler freiwilliger Helferinnen und Helfer aufgenommen. Trotz sorgfältiger Kontrolle durch eine Expertengruppe können vereinzelt Fehler vorkommen. Schreibweisen und somit auch allfällige Unstimmigkeiten wurden exakt nach gedrucktem Cappelli in die Online-Version übernommen. Für jedes Abkürzungsbild steht das Digitalisat der entsprechenden Cappelli-Seite zur Verfügung (durch Klick auf die neben dem Bild stehende Seitenzahl in der Auswahlliste). Somit kann direkt aus Ad fontes zitiert werden.

Der Cappelli zum Durchblättern und Durchsuchen ist noch im Beta–Test!

Das nach seinem Autor Adriano Cappelli benannte Standardwerk «Lexicon abbreviaturarum» enthält lateinische und italienische Abkürzungen mittelalterlicher Texte. 

Lexicon abbreviaturarum. Dizionario di abbreviature latine ed italiane. Mailand 6. Aufl. 1961 (ND: Mailand 1990).
Der Cappelli lässt sich online in Ad fontes (Ressourcen, Abkürzungen) durchsuchen.

Notice via DM-L
 In October 2015, the University of Zurich hosted the Cappelli-Hackathon, a very successful crowd sourcing project, during which all 14'357 abbreviations collected in Adriano Cappellis' «Lexicon abbreviaturarum» were digitally registered and systematised through a specifically for the task designed web interface. Since then, the registered abbreviations have been checked and – where necessary – corrected through expert validation. They are as of now freely available, either as part of the Ad fontes platform (Cappelli online) or through the new app, App fontes.
The search interface not only allows to search by the readable letters, with the possiblity to set wildcards for non-identifiable characters, but also to search by visual criteria. Through the use of a 3x3 grid, the abbreviations have been systematised by the placement of abbreviation marks and other visual features; user may now use this grid in the search interface to help them find results.
Thus, the project allows a better and easier way to access the «Cappelli», an invaluable tool for everyone working with handwritten sources. Since «Ad fontes» offers also a link to the digitised original page, it is even possible to cite from the «Lexicon abbreviaturarum» using the project.

P.S.: The data as well as the pictures can be downloaded (

Ancient Peoples

"nam si tibi sidera cessant, nil faciet longi mensura incognita nervi."

“nam si tibi sidera cessant, nil faciet longi mensura incognita nervi.”


“For if the stars desert you, the enormous measure of your long cock will make no difference.”

Juvenal (c.55 - 127 AD) Satire 9.33-34

Juvenal with your daily affirmation.

The Archaeology News Network

Finds shed light on topography of Archaic sanctuary at Despotiko

The results of the excavations conducted from May 30 until July 8, 2016 on the uninhabited islet of Despotiko, west of Antiparos (Cyclades), are very significant, shedding light on the history and the topography of the Apollo sanctuary. Despotiko: Southeast view of the Building M and the newly discovered rooms  [Credit: Greek Ministry of Culture]Systematic investigations at the Mandra site began in 1997 by archaeologist Yannis...

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Archaeological News on Tumblr

Bloody Leaves from King Albert's Deadly Fall Are Authentic, DNA Shows

Using DNA tests, scientists have confirmed the authenticity of a morbid souvenir: bloodstained...

The Archaeology News Network

200 silver denarius discovered in Empúries

The 2,500-year-old Empúries site on the Costa Brava continues to provide surprises. The last three weeks of excavations, carried out by thirty students attending the 70th edition of Archaeology Course of Empúries, lead to the largest treasure ever found on the site; a ceramic-vase containing 200 silver denarius dating from the 1st century BC. Ceramic vase and denarii found in Empúries [Credit: Archaeological Museum of Catalonia]Thanks...

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Solving the Mesopotamia timeline puzzle with tree-rings and radiocarbon research

Tree-ring dating and radiocarbon research led by Cornell University archaeologist Sturt Manning has established an absolute timeline for the archaeological, historical and environmental record in Mesopotamia from the early second millennium B.C. An example of an Old Assyrian clay tablet text from Kultepe (Cappadocia) c. 1927-1836 BCE  [Credit: Harvard art Museums]Manning, the Goldwin Smith Professor of Classical Archaeology and...

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Archaeologists search for the first shepherds of Africa

The borderland of present day Egypt and Sudan today is a sunburned desert. But 10,000 years ago, thousands of animals walked there among luxuriantly growing trees. Polish archaeologists are looking for traces of people, who lived there at that time and exploited the environment. Gebel Ramlah - research in the settlement during a sandstorm [Credit: R. Kenig]"We do not really know much about the communities whose settlements and...

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Mary Beard (A Don's Life)

Follow my leader


While I am on the subject of slogans ('democracy' in my last post), let me move on to 'leadership'. The husband has long hated this one, and I am beginning to join him. That's partly, I guess, because we have been hearing the word on every news and comment programme as a mantra against Corbyn (whatever it is, Corbyn is repeatedly said not to possess it). But it's not just upper echelon politics, we're constantly being told that we want head teachers, hospital managers, univeristy vice-chancellors, museum directors who are 'leaders'. And there are all kinds of courses available, I'm told, which are solely directed to teaching leadership (and no doubt making money from doing, or claiming to do, exactly that).

 Now, obviously, I am all in favour of people in positions of responsibility having the skills to do the job. If heads, or anyone, have to make big financial decisions, then it's a very good idea to have proper training to do that. And there is nothing the matter with a bit of charisma here and there, though too much charisma can be too much of a good thing. My problems are in the implications of this idea of 'leadership' -- ones that don't make it to the news when we are discussing Corbyn, management styles, the success of UK schools, or whatever.


For a start, if some are 'leaders' what does that make the rest of us? 'Followers', presumably. So I find myself asking, what does it take to be a good follower? And when are there going to be courses in that? (Captains of industry.. why not send your workforce on a followership programme...?). But more seriously, what kind of institutional and decision making structure does this fixation on leadership imply?

I fear that it is a top-down 'management style', with the man at the top (usually the man) being the key player and determining the fortunes of the organisation. That is of course one way of doing it, but it has tended to squeeze out competing and perhaps more effectiove models -- like the collaborative one. I'm not sure that when I am looking for, say, a Prime Minister, I really want a 'leader'. I think I would prefer a sensible and acute chair of the cabinet committee, whose members together can provide the expertise and the talents needed to guide the country. And I care more about his or her capacity to get to grips -- collaboratively -- with the big issues than to make a big splash with sparkling television performances. Of course, I am looking for a good level of competence in communication, but I am not looking for someone whose main talent is being plausible and funny in TV debates.

It makes me think of how my own Faculty in Cambridge is run, with considerable success in its own sphere. We are guided by a partly elected, partly selected Faculty Board of about 20 academic staff (plus librarian, student reps...). The Chair of the Board is elected for two years. It is a job that most academics expect to do once in their career, but not usually more. It is a short enough period of office to ensure that noone's research is too much interrupted by huge administrative responsibilities and to ensure also that those who are less good at the job (noone hopeless is ever elected) can do very limited damage. But it is long enough to let a Chair initiate and see through one or two reforms and changes. Even more important, by the law of averages, the Board at any one time includes a significant number of people who have themselves had the experience of having done the big job -- in other words there is a depth of experience among the members of the committee.

None of this is much in tune with modern univeristy governance, which is as committed to 'leadership' as any institutions, and works with an image of longterm super-profs providing that, top down, to us poor foot-soldiers. And I am sure that we will eventually be forced to scrap our system and go over to what I sometimes call the 'baronial' structure (after the colloquial term "science barons').  But it is worth sticking up while we have it for an old-fashioned (and maybe eventually radically new again) collaborative form of governance.

Whether the structures of organisation with a medium sized faculty in Cambridge provide a model for other institutions is a moot point. But they may be a better model than you might at first  think. To put it another way, good schools may depend on good teachers rather more than they depend on good leadership. And good national government may depend more of good MPs and good structures of collaboration more than on a presidential style Prime Minister.



The Archaeology News Network

Research suggests sacrificial victims at Yinxu Oracle Site were captives, not slaves

The bodies buried at Yinxu, or the Ruins of Yin, one of China's oldest archaeological sites, were captives from ethnic minority groups, rather than slaves, said an archaeologist in central China's Henan province. Mass grave of sacrificed individuals at the Yin Xu Oracle site, Henan  [Credit: TheComplexWorld]The finding may help change the notion that the Shang Dynasty (16-11 cent. BC), China's first recorded dynasty, was a slave...

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Robert Consoli (Squinches)


"A world without Pokemon would be less stable
and more dangerous for all of us."
From the site pokemon-ash-quotes

Recently we've been reading a lot of stories about Pokémon-Go which is an augmented-reality game that uses your smartphone to populate the world with creatures that you 'capture'.  Like most computer applications it is a sublime illusion - even a work of art.   Of course it's also moronic as the above quote illustrates but, nonetheless, I can't resist wondering how far the augmented-reality idea can be pushed.  Now I don't know how the Pokémon software actually functions  but my experience in computer project design at a large free-world defense manufacturer suggests the following (some of these things I know and I'm guessing about the others).

Pokémon-go is a client-server application.  Most of the game (the GPS, the software that decodes your swipes, the melding of the Pokémon creatures with your smartphone camera images) runs on the client application which is running on your smartphone.  The server side (as nearly as I can figure out) runs a giant database of locations around the world along with the Pokemon figures that 'inhabit' the various real-world locations.   The client (your smartphone) communicates with the server in order to download a chunk of the DB world that corresponds to where you actually are.  This includes the creatures and their exact locations.  As you move away from where you currently are your phone continues to communicate with the server in order to download new chunks of data from the mother DB.   The origin of this DB was an earlier game called 'Ingress' which resembled the current Pokémon-Go.  The DB created by the designers of Ingress was augmented by more than fifteen million user submitted locations of which the Ingress people chose five million.   Because one of the complaints about the game is sparsity of coverage in some areas I'm  sure that the makers of Pokémon-Go are continuing this process of DB augmentation.  I'm not sure whether your Pokémon-Go client communicates any information about the current state of your game-play back to the server; I can't think of any reason why it would do that.  The server, I think, is purely DB.  The rest is in the client - your phone.

To develop a client application of this kind requires a smartphone development environment (pretty sure).  Part of that environment would be access to the GPS, Google Maps, camera, and swipe software APIs (Application Programmer Interfaces) that those several software packages provide.  These APIs are basically just packages of software calls to the underlying GPS, etc. software that the programmer can use in his new client code.  It's this that makes it possible to write a client app that uses those services.  It's only a matter of time - in fact it's probably already possible - to gain access to such software and write your own augmented reality applications.  I'm too lazy to find out.

If your intended application was to work you'd also have to write the server side which, as I suggested above, serves chunks of the DB.  The server is mounted on a server platform (which would be a computer with internet access) on a 24/7 basis.  Most of the required code for the server side is already publicly available.  Those are the basic ingredients.

Ingredients for what?

Well, I have currently a DB of nearly 900 Mycenaean find spots and I haven't even tackled Attica yet.  Imagine that you're travelling around Greece with your smartphone and you want to know if you're near a place that Mycenaean artifacts have been found.  Well, you just fire up your Mykémon-Go client and you'll quickly know whether you're close to any interesting locations because you'll see icons that you follow to reach the site and they would be automatically superimposed on pictures from your phone-camera.  Such an application could exist in many configurations.  When field walkers do an intensive survey of a large area and find artifacts they could use a software application mounted on a smartphone that pin-point the exact location of every sherd, foundation, or wall that they find (at least I think that this is what happens on the best-equipped efforts).  A form of Mykémon-Go would make it possible to pin-point these locations again by simply showing them on a smartphone whenever researchers again came near.  I suspect that there are a large number of augmented reality applications that Mycenologists could use to their advantage.  

We'll be seeing a lot more of this in the future.  If you have ideas about the use of augmented reality in any of the historical disciplines then I'd like to hear about them.  And follow me on Twitter: @Squinchpix.  Also on Google+, I'm 'Robert Consoli'

Until next time.

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

Bernard Ramm on Inerrancy

To me whether there are some errors or not in Scripture is something determined empirically. We cannot dogmatize facts into or out of existence. Bernard Ramm, “The Relation of Science, Factual Statements and the Doctrine of Biblical Inerrancy,” JASA 21 (1969) 98-104. I came across this quote in Christopher Rios’ book After the Monkey Trial (p.147), which [Read More...]

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

A curious bibliography: Angelo Uggeri and his “Journées pittoresques”, “Ichnografia”, “Icnografia degli Edifizj” etc

The most accessible early account, of the discovery of an ancient house in the grounds of the Villa Negroni in Rome, is by Camillo Massimo in 1836.  But for his source, Massimo refers to a mysterious volume which is online, but nearly impossible to find.

Massimo writes:

Una esatta descrizione di quattro delle suddette Camere, coi colori di tutt’ i loro ornamenti , e cen i menomi lor dettagli minutamente indicati si trova inserita nel 3. Volume dell’ Icnografia degli Edifizi di Roma antica, pag. 55. e aeg. opera dell’ Abb. Uggeri, il quale nelle Tavole XIV . XV , XVl, e XVII, diede pure le incisioni a contorno delle Pitture di quelle quattro Stanze; e nel Volume II. Tav. XXIV. fig, 1, riprodusse in piccolo la pianta dell’ intero Palazzina con le sue dimensioni, e con l‘ indice delle pitture in esso rimanenti, la descrizione delle quali si  trova anche nel citato Manifesto stampato in quell’occasione in un foglietto volante divenuto assai raro, e nella seconda Edizione della Roma antica di Ridolfino Venuti coll’ aggiunte di Stefano Piale Par. 1. cap. V, pag. 125.

Search as you will: you will not locate this volume.  You may think “icnografia” is an odd word, and make it “iconografia” but you will be no further forward.  As I remarked a couple of days ago, Lanciani quotes the title as “Iconografia degli Edifizi di Roma antica“, but this too does not help.

After a great deal of searching into the night, I have finally solved the mystery.

It seems that Angelo Uggeri was, to be frank, a complete idiot.  He self-published his works.  And he decided that giving them title pages was unnecessary.  Yes, that’s right.  You can find a volume online, and look through it, and still have no idea what the thing is titled.  Sometimes he shyly had a page which indicated his authorship – in a cursive, hard-to-read handwriting, not printed.

The volumes that I have found, all of them, belong to a series:

Journées pittoresques des édifices de Rome ancienne / Giornate pittoresche degli edifizi antiche de circondari di Roma

The text in these is in two columns, one French, one Italian.  A search for “Journées pittoresques” will return results.  But Uggeri’s maddening habit of leaving out titles means that you will not be that sure of what you have found.  A search in the French National Library site, Gallica, will return only three titles.

Curiously it was the Europeana portal that saved me.  This search gives a list of 10 volumes, all at the BNF, with no distinction of volume number or title.  They all have the same cover.  Many have the same endpapers.  You actually have to look through them to find out what’s in there.

But, blessedly, pasted onto the endpapers of one, I found this slip:


There are two series, each with volume numbers.  In fact some of the “volumes” are also divided into two, one containing the plates, and the other with the text.  I had to download almost the entire collection to find what I wanted.  For my own sanity, and yours if you pass this way, here are the volumes that you need for the Villa Negroni.  I give the link to the BNF for the volume, and attach a PDF of the relevant pages.

The scans are not very high resolution, it must be said.  The volume 2 floor plan is too small to read the scale, for instance.  Let us hope that a German library like Arachne scan some volumes.

From all this we learn that the actual title of volume 2, insofar as there was one, was “Ichnografia”! But I suggest we always refer to Journées pittoresques and specify the series, Rome.

The other two sources given by Massimo deserve a mention, while we are discussing bibliographical mazes.

The “manifesto” is actually a printed flyer, by Camillo Buti, proposing the publication of the frescoes of the house, and including a couple of samples, and a floor plan.  This is the very earliest account.  It is indeed extremely rare, and, as far as I can tell, not online.  But I learn from an article by H. Joyce[1] that “Copies of the Buti Manifesto are in the British Library, Department of Manuscripts, Add. Ms 35378, fols. 316-17, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Paintings, Tatham Album, p. D. 1479 – ’98. /2”.  Doubtless other copies are around.

The “Roma antica of Ridolfino Venuti with the additions of Stefano Piale” is another vague title.  Volume 2 of the first edition is here at Arachne.  The actual title is “Accurata, e succinta descrizione topografica delle antichità di Roma”, printed in 1763 – too early.  Volume 1 of the third edition (1824) of the Stefano Piale re-edition is at Google Books here; volume 2 here.  The text referred to is in vol.1, chapter 5, p.169 f.  But it contains nothing of special interest.  (Update: 2nd ed., 1803, vol.1, p.125 is here).

One final item is mentioned by Joyce.  It too is not online, and indeed sounds very inaccessible:

The architect Camillo Buti was quickly called in to make a plan of the house. Buti published the plan in 1778, along with a brief description of the rooms, in his Manifesto announcing the publication of the first two in a series of engravings of the house’s paintings.(5) An early annotated version of the plan drawn by someone present in the early stages of the excavation (the excavation is shown and described as incomplete) is now in the Townley collection of “Drawings from Various Antiquities” in the British Museum.(6)

6.  Although the Townley plan is incomplete, it includes information about the house’s decoration not given in any published source. I am grateful to Donald Bailey of the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities for locating this drawing and supplying me with a copy.

The invaluable Joyce article – which I obtained today – makes plain that the Townley plan is of the highest importance.  It alone tells us, for instance, that the entrance door to the villa had a window above the door.  The “blank wall” facing the door in fact had three niches for statues in it – “Ingresso principale nella casa dipinto con Architetture e nichie di relievo dipinte dentro.”  And so on.

Fortunately the Townley papers are in the British Museum, and a Google search shows that the museum has a research project to catalogue them and place them online.  Well done, the British Museum.

  1. [1] H. Joyce, “The Ancient Frescoes from the Villa Negroni and Their Influence in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries”, The Art Bulletin 65 (1983), 423-440. JSTOR.

The Archaeology News Network

Site with clues to fate of fabled Lost Colony may be saved

Clues to what became of North Carolina's fabled Lost Colony could lie in a waterfront tract where developers once wanted to build thousands of condos - and now, one of those would-be developers is seeking millions of dollars to preserve the property. Archaeologists excavate an area in rural Bertie County, N.C.  [Credit: First Colony Foundation via AP]The effort to save the 1,000 acres in rural Bertie County is in an early stage....

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Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

Mindful Hands. Capolavori miniati in mostra con installazioni e riproduzioni multimediali

Si intitola Mindful Hands. I capolavori miniati della Fondazione Giorgio Cini la grande mostra in programma sull’isola di San Giorgio Maggiore a Venezia dal 17 settembre 2016 all’8 gennaio 2017 (inaugurazione venerdì 16 settembre 2016), prodotta da Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Studio Michele De Lucchi e Factum Arte e realizzata grazie al supporto di Helen Hamlyn Trust e al contributo di Pirelli. Verrà esposta per la prima volta dopo oltre 35 anni più della metà di una delle collezioni più importanti e preziose custodite dalla Fondazione Cini: la raccolta di 236 miniature acquisita dal conte Vittorio Cini tra il 1939 e il 1940 dalla Libreria Antiquaria Hoepli di Milano e donata alla Fondazione nel 1962.

ArcheoNet BE

Contactdag prehistorie op 17 december in Brussel

Op zaterdag 17 december zal de jaarlijkse contactdag van de ‘Contactgroep Prehistorie’ plaatsvinden in het Jubelparkmuseum in Brussel. Een internationale keur aan prehistorici zal er de resultaten van hun onderzoek voorstellen. Nog tot 1 oktober kunnen alle geïnteresseerden voorstellen voor een voordracht of poster indienen. Volume 36 van de ‘Notae Praehistoricae’ zal opnieuw zowel in gedrukte als elektronische vorm verschijnen. De deadline voor bijdragen is 23 oktober.

Naast de jaarlijkse gewoonte om recent steentijdonderzoek in België te belichten, ook dit jaar weer ruimte gecreërd om Belgische onderzoekers die niet of niet zo strikt met België bezig zijn aan het woord te laten. Daarnaast blijft de traditie behouden om een buitenlandse gastspreker uit te nodigen.

Potentiële sprekers of auteurs van een poster sturen titel en korte samenvatting voor 1 oktober naar en Ook niet-gepresenteerd onderzoek kan in de ‘Notae Praehistoricae’ worden opgenomen. Dit kan tot 23 oktober via

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Stolen Buddha statue bought by National Gallery of Australia to be returned to India

CANBERRA, July 22 (Xinhua) – An 1,800-year-old stone Buddha which featured in Canberra’s...

Bill Caraher (The New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World)

Friday Quick Hits and Varia

It’s been a while, but I am getting back into the swing of blogging this summer. In other words, I feels like it’s time for a few quick hits and varia.

It’s good sports weekend with the F1 chaps at Hungaroring, the NASCARlers at the Brickyard, and Indy Car in Toronto. If you’re a real sports fan, though, you’re getting up early to watch England v. Pakistan in cricket. Pakistan took the first test in the series at Lords. If this test series isn’t being read as a critique of England’s conflicted history with its colonial past, then people don’t know how to read sports as politics.  

Lots of ways to deal with the frog days of summer.

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Archaeological News on Tumblr

Ancient feces provides earliest evidence of infectious disease being carried on Silk Road

An ancient latrine near a desert in north-western China has revealed the first archaeological...

Trafficking Culture

Call for Abstracts: The Pre-Columbian Antiquities Market: Reflections, Critiques, and Effecting Change

Donna Yates, along with Cara Tremain, are organising a session at the upcoming Society for American Archaeology meeting in Vancouver, with an eye towards a subsequent journal special issue or edited volume. If you would like to submit an abstract to the call below, please email it to either Cara or Donna before 20 August 2016.

The Pre-Columbian Antiquities Market: Reflections, Critiques, and Effecting Change

82nd Annual SAA Meeting, Vancouver, B.C.

Cara Grace Tremain, University of Calgary:
Donna Yates, University of Glasgow:

Pre-Columbian antiquities are among the most popular items in the international antiquities market. Because of the opaque nature of the antiquities market as well as the phenomenal growth of online and alternative sales platforms in recent years, it has become increasingly difficult for the scholarly community to monitor the Pre-Columbian antiquities market. Studies into this market are limited, repetitive, or outdated; we may not have a real sense of the nature and function of the current market for Pre-Columbian objects. Without this information it is unlikely that we will be able to positively influence policy in this area or effect substantive change.

This session will explore past, current, and future policies and trends concerning the sale of antiquities from Central and South America. By exposing some of the developments through time, and reviewing some of the most prominent individuals and organizations that have bought and sold at auction, a clearer understanding of the current state of research into the market for Pre-Columbian objects can be achieved. Having outlined gaps in our knowledge, this session seeks to identify the substantive steps that the academic community can take towards effecting transparency, accountability, and ethical practice within the Pre-Columbian antiquities market.