Maia Atlantis: Ancient World Blogs

Tom Elliott (

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November 25, 2014

Laboratoire Orient et Méditerranée

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

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

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

November 21, 2014

Laboratoire Orient et Méditerranée

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

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

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

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

- Consulter le programme


November 14, 2014

Laboratoire Orient et Méditerranée

Le christianisme syriaque en Asie centrale et en Chine

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

- Consulter le programme

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

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

informations :

avec le soutien du Labex RESMED

Les mots de la paix

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

- Télécharger le programme

October 23, 2014

Kristina Killgrove (Powered by Osteons)

Who needs an osteologist? (Installment 19)

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

Felis octocatus skeleton at GitHub headquarters

Octocat in the flesh

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

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

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

Previous Installments of Who needs an osteologist?

Archaeology Briefs


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Archaeological News on Tumblr

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

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

ArcheoNet BE

Nieuw UNESCO-werelderfgoed dankzij Belgische technologie

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Dealer: "Culture War well worth the read".

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

Cuno in Praise of "Encyclopaedic Museums" (Again)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Baekje Gilt Bronze Shoes Found in Naju

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

Kristina Killgrove (Powered by Osteons)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

Zenobia: Empress of the East (Judith Weingarten)

The Women of Mycenaean Pylos and Knossos (Part II)

The Essence of Woman

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

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

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

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

The Belated Death of Matriarchy

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

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

First the gloom. 

Separate and Unequal 

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

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

What could be simpler?

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

A rag, a bone, and a hank of hair

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

In a word, they are slaves.

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

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

The Seven Merry Wives of Pylos

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

Let there be light

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

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

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

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

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

Women in Mycenaean Greece

The Linear B Tablets from Pylos and Knossos

By Barbara A. Olsen

Routledge – 2014 – 380 pages

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

ArcheoNet BE

Archeologie voor dummies in Grobbendonk

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

Ancient Peoples

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

Pair Statue of Neferkhawet and Rennefer

18th Dynasty, New Kingdom

c.1479-1450 BC

(Source: The Metropolitan Museum)

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

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

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

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

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

BBC, 'Egyptian sarcophagus found in Essex house' 2

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

The Life of Brian and the Apocalyptic Jesus

Click here to view the embedded video.

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

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Cultural Property Obfuscation from "Pearlstein"

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

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

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

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Genomic data support early contact between Easter Island and Americas

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

Archaeology Briefs


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Bronze Age pottery unearthed

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

AMIR: Access to Mideast and Islamic Resources

Qatar Digital Library

Qatar Digital Library

What is the Qatar Digital Library?

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

How did the QDL come about?

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

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

Dog Religion, Cat Religion


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


Archaeological News on Tumblr

Middle Ages tagging found in Oslo

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

Peter Tompa (Cultural Property Observer)

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

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

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

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

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

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

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

SEARCH (Toronto)
RECHERCHE (à Louvain)

Peter Tompa (Cultural Property Observer)

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

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

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

Thank you, Paul Barford.

Archaeological News on Tumblr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fig. 10.  1978 photo

Fig. 10. 1978 photo

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fig.12 Vermaseren's facsimile (1965)

Fig.12 Vermaseren’s facsimile (1965)

Fig.13 - fascimile, 1978

Fig.13 – fascimile, 1978

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is there an epigraphist in the house?

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

Noel Tan (The Southeast Asian Archaeology Newsblog)

CFP: SEASREP 20th Anniversary Conference 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Download the conference call for panel and papers here.

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Egyptian sarcophagus found in Essex pensioner's drawing room

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

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

Round It Goes Again

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

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

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

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

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

Noel Tan (The Southeast Asian Archaeology Newsblog)

Tales of the Hobbit

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


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

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

Fulls story here.

James Clackson et al. (Greek in Italy)



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

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

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

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

Noel Tan (The Southeast Asian Archaeology Newsblog)

Charges filed against Bayon vandal

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

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

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

Charges over broken statue
Phnom Penh Post, 22 October 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full story here.

Job opportunity: Lecturer in Southeast Asian history

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

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

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

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

See posting here.

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Position of Sphinx’s Head Raises Questions

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

Noel Tan (The Southeast Asian Archaeology Newsblog)

A possible Tamil link to the Ramkhamhaeng inscription

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

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

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

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

Full story here.

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Kurdish peace bid allows for rediscovery of prehistoric paintings

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

Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology in the Middle East

Flights 20141019-20 - The Aqaba Trip

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- David Kennedy

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

Bill Caraher (The New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World)

Connectivity in Cyprus and Corinth

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

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

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

Archaeological News on Tumblr

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

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

Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology in the Middle East

Video: Aerial photography of Kites

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

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

The Egyptiana Emporium

Thursday Photo

IMG_2062.JPGA column featuring Sobek at Kom Ombo (Source: Wikimedia Commons).

Archaeological News on Tumblr

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

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

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

LOST Rewatch: Special

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

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

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

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

The episode ends with Claire coming out of the jungle.

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


ASOR Blog (American Schools of Oriental Research)

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

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

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

During the academic … Read more

Paola Arosio and Diego Meozzi (Stone Pages' Archaeonews)

Massive prehistoric settlement unearthed in Ukraine

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

Neolithic barbeque pit found in Cyprus

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

5000-year-old cave paintings discovered in Russia

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

Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

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


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

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Officials confirm Heracles smuggled from Antalya’s Perge

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

Végh Zsuzsanna and Simon Zsolt (Agyagtábla, papirusz)

5th ICYE

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

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Disneyland 'Solution' to Syria's Looting problem

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

Private Collection and Documentation Standards

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

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

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

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

Jim Davila (

Who wrote the Pentateuch?

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

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

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

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

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

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

Antiquity Now

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

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

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jim Davila (

Obama, Hannibal, etc.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

Gestione e innovazione in musei, archivi e biblioteche delle Marche


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

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


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

Jim Davila (

Le Donne on Perrucci

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

Background here.

Bryn Mawr Classical Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

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

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

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

Proof that Roman gladiators hated astronauts

Seen on Twitter this morning:

Hmm.  Maybe not.

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

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

Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

Online l’archivio digitale dei manoscritti Vaticani

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

Laboratoire Orient et Méditerranée

RICHAUD Jean-David

Contact :
Sujet de thèse : Le pouvoir des marches frontalières : les Seldjoukides au Moyen Orient (Fin Xe – Fin du XIIe siècle)
Directeur de thèse : EDDÉ Anne-Marie

LUCAS Noémie

Contact :
Sujet de thèse : Pouvoir et richesse dans le Bas-Irak au IIe/VIIIe siècle
Directeur de thèse : EDDÉ Anne-Marie
Lien vers :


Contact : [>]
Sujet de thèse : La frontière nord du Bilād al-Šām : guerre, économie et sociétés (fin VIIIe - fin XIe siècle)
Directeur de thèse : EDDÉ Anne-Marie
Lien vers :

Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

La riqualificazione dello spazio pubblico, Prima preview di RESTAURO 2015


Si terrà a Carpi, presso Palazzo Pio-Sala dei Mori, martedì 11 novembre 2014, dalle ore 9.30 alle ore 18.00 la prima preview di RESTAURO 2015 con una conferenza dal titolo "La riqualificazione dello spazio pubblico, la rigenerazione dei tessuti urbani del territorio".

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

Star Wars Meets The Princess Bride


Via Pinterest. And as a bonus, from the same source and on the same theme:



October 22, 2014

Ancient Art

Anthropomorphic tubular duct flutes. Both from ancient Mexico,...

Anthropomorphic tubular duct flutes.

Both from ancient Mexico, the first is either Maya or Veracruz, and the second is from Colima. The first dates to the Late Classic (AD 600-900), and the second is earlier at about 300 BC- AD 200.

Tubular duct flutes in the collection illustrate the variety of aerophones that typify the musical instrument repertoire of different societies during Late Classic times in Mesoamerica. They share the modeling of the human figure as their primary decorative program, but these range from the dramatic naturalism of near portraiture seen on this Veracruz or Maya flute [first image], to the schematized portrayal on the fluted instrument, and ending with the extreme minimalism of the figural rendering on the double-chambered flute from Colima [second image].

Each instrument holds its unique potential for creating a variety of tones and sounds of different timbres, depending on the force of wind entering the mouthpiece and sound chamber(s) as well as the positioning of the player’s fingers (when applicable). Although the casual musician can produce acceptable sounds from these instruments, practiced skill is required to achieve their full effect. (Walters)

Artefacts courtesy of & currently located at the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, USA. Via their online collections2009.20.1352009.20.138.

David Gill (Looting Matters)

US Government Pays $425,000 for Legal Case

It now appears that the US Government has had to pay $425,000 in legal fees and costs to the St Louis Art Museum (Jenna Greence, "Feds Lose Fight Over Ancient Mummy Mask", National Law Journal October 21, 2014).

The mask was purchased for $499,000 in 1998.

Pat McInerney of Dentons and Husch Blackwell was quoted:
"The Mask of Ka-Nefer-Nefer was a fascinating case that ultimately showed the extent to which the government unfortunately overreached in an attempt to literally take an artifact from the Saint Louis Art Museum using a lawsuit the court said was ‘completely devoid of any facts’ supporting their claims,” McInerney of Dentons said. “Credit really belongs to the art museum and its leadership for not caving in to the government's threats and, after winning the case, for compelling the government to pay the cost of defending a lawsuit that never should have been filed."
There are continuing questions about the acquisition that need to be resolved. The key ones are these:

  • When did curators at SLAM become aware that the mask was linked with Saqqara?
  • Did curators at SLAM contact the Egyptian SCA on learning that the mask was linked to Saqqara?
  • When was the personal name of Ka-Nefer-Nefer removed from the hand on the mask?

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

EAGLE News: Europeana Network of Ancient Greek and Latin Epigraphy

EAGLE 2014 International Conference: The IGCyr | GVCyr corpora

By Alice Bencivenni (University of Bologna)


The IGCyr | GVCyr demonstration site is now available.

The Inscriptions of Greek Cyrenaica (IGCyr) and the Greek Verse inscriptions of Cyrenaica (GVCyr) are two corpora, the first collecting all the inscriptions of Greek (VII-I centuries B.C.) Cyrenaica, the second gathering the Greek metrical texts of all periods. These new critical editions of inscriptions from Cyrenaica are part of the international project Inscriptions of Libya (InsLib), incorporating Inscriptions of Roman Tripolitania (IRT, already online), the Inscriptions of Roman Cyrenaica project (IRCyr, in preparation), and the ostraka from Bu Ngem (already available on the website

A comprehensive corpus of the inscriptions of Greek Cyrenaica is a longstanding desideratum among the scholars of the ancient world. Greek inscriptions from Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic Cyrenaica are currently scattered among many different, sometimes outdated publications, while new texts have been recently discovered and edited. For the first time all the inscriptions known to us in 2014, coming from this area of the ancient Mediterranean world, will be assembled in a single online and open access publication. An essential addition to the IGCyr and GVCyr corpora, as well as a natural outcome of the study of the inscriptions, is the planned publication of the Prosopographia Cyrenaica.

Catherine Dobias-Lalou is the main epigraphy researcher working on these comprehensive epigraphic corpora in EpiDoc in cooperation with scholars from the University of Bologna, the University of Macerata, the University of Roma Tor Vergata, the University of Paris-Sorbonne and King’s College London. Although the edition of the inscriptions is still in progress, the team working on the project wish to share with others the structure of the publications and the research approach. For this reason three of the texts which will be published and a selected bibliography are included in the demonstration site.  The website, hosted by the University of Bologna, has been developed and is maintained by the CRR-MM, Centro Risorse per la Ricerca Multimediale, University of Bologna.

Mary Beard (A Don's Life)

Chapter five


Those of you following the progress of the Rome book I am writing will be pleased to hear that I am getting to the end of chapter five -- which takes the story of Rome from being a power in Italy to being a power in the Mediterranean as a whole. Basically I am talking about 300 BC to 146 BC (the defeat of both Carthage and Corinth), and that includes the Hannibalic war.

To be honest, I have never really taught this period (and it is in teaching that you really get to know something), and -- even worse -- I have always rather reacted against the Boys Own Paper view of Hannibal and his war agaimst the Romans. I mean, to be honest, those elephants were a great PR exercise, but more trouble than they were worth. Elephants are risky in battle -- if they get wounded, they are just as likely to run amok over their own side as over the enemy. Hannibal might have had more success without the big beasts.

But getting down to it, I have found much more vivid and intriguing detail in this period than I had ever imagined. I love the idea, for example, of the elderly Hannibal ending his days advising the king of Syria how to beat the Romans (unsucessfully as it of course turned out).

And I love even more the story of the Syrian prince Antiochus Epiphanes who had been held as a hostage in Rome for several years in the 180s BC and then returned home (in a hostage swap) completey imbued with Roman habits. He apparently dressed himself up in a spruce white toga and went round the centre of his town chatting up voters, like candidates for offices did in Rome. The people of Syria were apparently baffled.

 So actually it's not all about Hannibal and elephants. There are issues of culture and cultural identity here that I'm trying to get my head around.


Melissa Terras' Blog

Reuse of Digitised Content (3): Special Festive Halloween Image Give-away Edition

In my first blog post about reuse of digitised content, particularly images, I suggested that institutions could think about batching up some good images, for people to take and reuse, so they could find them easily. They could also be prepared for people to reuse. But what would this mean, in reality? I decided to have a try, myself. Halloween is approaching - lets look for 5 really cute, public domain images about Halloween, and see if we can make them "more" reusable, whatever that may mean. Like this one:

Isn't she handsome? An illustration tagged with witch, over at the British Library book images photoset, Flickr. Originally taken from "Life & Finding of Dr. Livingstone", 1897.

But bother about all that writing, which makes it unusable on my Halloween party invitations. It would be better if there wasnt all that writing, just the image, right?

Or even, make the background transparent. Ta da! take it and do with it as you like, please do.
Nice, huh? and all this took me was time. An hour or so of grubbing about on flickr, an hour or so of messing around in Photoshop (I'm rusty). And as we all know, time is precious, and institutions dont have that level of time to devote to this kind of thing. Hmmm.

I also wonder what I'm really doing here. Turning images into clip art? erm, yay? Is that what we mean by reuse? But why else are we making images available, if its not for people to take them and do something with them? Does this make them more "useable"? Its certainly more easy to take the image and dump it into a poster, or webpage, etc. We need to ask ourselves what we mean by use and reuse, if we cant conceptualise what that really means in the first place.

But I said 5 images, right? I'm time pressed at the moment (shortly off on a big work trip), so - being honest here - I signed up for the first time to Fiverr, where you can get a myriad of small tasks done for $5, and bought some photo retouching for photos, and within an hour, I had four other Halloween images, this time from the Internet Archive Flickr Pool,  converted into black and white, with transparency too. A set of Halloween images! But Fiverr made me feel icky - even though this fixing up would be a relatively simple task for someone with better PhotoShop chops than I to do, and even though I chose someone who said they were a student in a first world country, it just seems such a small amount to pay someone. (I did try to engage them in conversation about that, and offered going hourly rate I would pay a student: they didn't reply). I am happy with the images provided, but I wouldn't advocate institutional use of this type of service if it can be avoided, something about it feels exploitative to me. It was interesting to try. (Perhaps its part of my penance that I share these images here for everyone but... shudder. Is that how we value skills now? Sorry, world. I know is the market economy, but, doesn't mean I have to pay people less than I believe a job is worth).

So now what.

I parked this, and a selection of others I found that I'll put at the bottom of this post, on a group over at Flickr. There's been obvious interest in them, with a total of 50 views or so in 24 hours, even though I didn't tell anyone where they were, yet. So I'll leave them up there, and take them if you like! I think they are cute. Do something, they are in the public domain! they are free! Use them at will! It only cost me time and some perhaps student's time and $5 and the electric that drives the internet and the heavy metals that are in our computers etc etc! and if you fancy telling me how you used them, on here or on twitter, that would be great, but you dont have to because its public domain! woohoo! (I may do some reverse image lookup in a while and see where they got to).

This is a minor experiment - especially compared to my last blog post, which was much more of an investment in both time and money - but it goes back to what I was saying previously about the time and skill needed to use the image content available successfully. Its not all just "there" yet, you need time to sort, and time to manipulate, and resources to do so. It also makes me think of what you read about in pre-print times, when artists' workshops had teams of people working for them who just painted silk, or hair, or skin or whatever, and the whole thing was a production line, where you farmed jobs out to other painters - sure, its a makers revolution, but its one that involves getting a student to do a quick job on PhotoShop for you, or a print shop to do some formatting and printing. You can take the content and do something with it, if you have the resources to both pay for and manage the process. The stuff is in the public domain, and is free. But doing something with it isnt, not really.

Except, of course, I'm not Raphael, I'm just messing about with images taken offline and turned into slightly cleaned up versions of themselves for clip art. I'd like to see a "real" collection do a longitudinal study on the benefits of this, releasing some of their content in different graphic formats, and tracking interest... hmmm, a potential MA student dissertation for this year, perhaps? Its a worthy topic, and one that should be pursued in more than a couple of hours, and a hurried blog post. 

Still, Happy Halloween, and feel free to reuse these in any way you like, should you want to. The full size I have is up here, made smaller to fit in blog format, you know what to do to grab the larger file. Black and white jpgs first, then transparent png. 

Originally taken from the Internet Archive Book Images Flickr Pool. This originally had only a couple of previous views, and isn't it delightful? ripe for putting at the top of any manner of Halloween related paraphenalia...

Originally taken from the Internet Archive Book Images Flickr Pool. It started off pink, mind! 

Originally taken from the Internet Archive Book Images Flickr Pool.

And last but not least, my favourite:

Originally taken from the Internet Archive Book Images Pool.  Brilliant.
All of them over at Flickr, too, if you'd prefer. Have fun! And don't have nightmares.  

AIA Fieldnotes

Sudbury Plantation Uncovered: Archaeological Evidence

Sponsoring Institution/Organization: 
Sponsored by Sudbury Historical Society
Event Type (you may select more than one): 
Start Date: 
Sunday, October 5, 2014 - 2:00pm

Admission: Free
Read more »


Sudbury Historical Society
Call for Papers: 
Right Header: 
Right Content: 

Movie: Raiders of the Lost Ark (with commentary following)

Sponsoring Institution/Organization: 
Sponsored by Plimoth Cinema, Plimoth Plantation
Event Type (you may select more than one): 
Start Date: 
Wednesday, October 15, 2014 - 7:00pm

Adult: $12, Students and Museum Members: $10, Plimoth Cinema Club Card holders: $9
Read more »


Plimoth Plantations
508-746-1622, x8877
Right Header: 
Call for Papers: 
Right Content: 

AMIR: Access to Mideast and Islamic Resources

Database of Southeast Asian Islamic Manuscripts (D'SAIN)

Database of Southeast Asian Islamic Manuscripts

Catalog of Southeast Asian Islamic Manuscripts published by Faculty of Adab and Humanities, Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University Jakarta.

"Database of Nusantara Islam Manuscripts is a database that provides various informations related to Nusantara Islam manuscripts. The database covers a wide range of Nusantara Islam manuscripts-based research—using philological approach or other approaches; conducting by foreign scholars or native scholars. As the center of Nusantara Islam manuscripts, the database not only records the title, author, copyist, language, and literacy texts, but also provides a number of manuscript collections and catalogues including lists, and various publications relating to manuscript which is used as the primary resource of research. In addition, the database provides authors and copyists’ biographical information and their activities. Therefore, Database of Nusantara Islam Manuscripts, as the center of information and research on manuscript that can be accessed online, is very important for the manuscripts-based researches and other researches. Thus, through the information contained in the database of Nusantara Islam manuscript, various topics of research can be developed further, while the potential for duplication and plagiarism cases in the study of manuscript can also be avoided."

AIA Fieldnotes

Evening Lecture on Recent Excavations at Burial Hill

Sponsoring Institution/Organization: 
Sponsored by Sponsor: Plimoth Plantation and the Plymouth Public Library
Event Type (you may select more than one): 
Start Date: 
Wednesday, October 15, 2014 - 7:00pm

Admission: Free
Read more »


Call for Papers: 
Right Header: 
Right Content: 

Massachusetts Archaeological Society Annual Meeting and 75th Anniversary Reception

Sponsoring Institution/Organization: 
Sponsored by Massachusetts Archaeological Society
Event Type (you may select more than one): 
Start Date: 
Saturday, October 11, 2014 - 1:00pm

Adults: $12, MAS Members and Students: $10
Read more »


Massachusetts Archaeology
Right Header: 
Call for Papers: 
Right Content: 

Robbins Museum of Archaeology Open House

Sponsoring Institution/Organization: 
Sponsored by Robbins Museum of Archaeology
Event Type (you may select more than one): 
Start Date: 
Wednesday, October 1, 2014 - 10:00am to Saturday, October 25, 2014 - 2:00pm

Come visit over 10,000 years of local archaeology!  The museum displays thousands of artifacts including a handcrafted mishoon (dugout canoe), the Doyle collection of Native American dolls, and a diorama of Native American New England life.  We accept bookings for groups and offer special tours of our collection at a group admission rate.  Read more »


Massacusetts Archaeology
Right Header: 
Call for Papers: 
Right Content: 

Open Access Archaeology

Open Access Archaeology Digest #579

Excellent Open Access (free to read) articles:

Slavonski Brod, Galovo, Archaological Excavation 2005

Notes on some Undescribed Objects from the Roman Fort at Newstead, Melrose.

Notes of Urns and Sepulchral Monuments discovered at various Times in the Parish of Creich, Fifeshire.

Learn more about Open Access and Archaeology at:

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

The Shame of St Louis

Credit really belongs to the art museum and
its leadership for not caving in to the government's
threats and, after winning the case, for compelling the
government to pay the cost of defending a lawsuit that
never should have been filed."

St Louis, 'senseless lawless farce'
The amazing case of the Ka Nefer Nefer mask which was accepted by a US court as having been in two places at once has come to an end, when the federal government paid $425,000 of taxpayers' cash in attorney fees and costs to Dentons and Husch Blackwell for their work on behalf of the Saint Louis Art Museum, which is about what the museum had paid for the mask in the first place (Jenna Greene, 'Feds Lose Fight Over Ancient Mummy Mask', The National Law Journal October 21, 2014).

Mr McInerney (above) is quite right, the lawsuit should never have had to be filed. The museum, on it transpiring that there was documentation showing the mask could not have reached the European market in the manner in which the supplied collecting history asserted, should jolly well have sent it back either to the seller, or to Egypt. At the same time issuing apologies to the good folk that forked out the purchase funds in good faith (trusting the Museum's trustees to do the job of preventing dodgy acquisitions). Museum ethics and professionalism and simple civilised honesty require nothing less. Instead SLAM decided to be confrontational and brazen it out and they and their lawyers are now congratulating themselves on having trampled all over common decency in pursuit of their trophies. Shame on all involved. Watch this bit:
In 2006, the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities realized it was in St. Louis—and asked for it back. The museum said no.
But it's not a simple as that, is it? This story and the shaming of SLAM and the people of St Louis are not over yet. There is at least one more untold story here. As the Buddha is reputed to have said: "Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth".

Peter Tompa (Cultural Property Observer)


It appears that German collectors and auction houses are now getting "the treatment" from access journalists who make the inflammatory claim that Western collectors are supporting terrorism in Syria and Iraq.

 Even with rudimentary knowledge of German, sophisticated collectors who have seen it all before will recognize the usual cheap tricks—shots of a well-known auction house juxtaposed with scenes of war and looting.  And then there are the interviews with some of the usual suspects—Van Rijn, Muller-Karpe, Bogdanos, etc. who apparently readily agree about a link between terrorism and collecting.   The underlying premise is that that collectors and dealers are funding ISIS and the only way to stop it is to suppress collecting.   

Amusingly, the filmmakers' camera keeps focusing on two solitary lots of early Middle Eastern objects in a German auction—as if all the air time they receive makes up for the lack of hard evidence supporting the filmmaker's thesis.  And, of course, no good propagandist will fail to mention the decade old looting of the Iraq Museum whatever its current relevance.

So what we have is more of a morality play than a true documentary. The heroes, of course, are archaeologists, the Caribinieri (who selflessly help countries like Iraq) and local cops while the villains are terrorists, looters, auction houses, and the shadowy collectors and dealers who support them. 

But this tale is at best incomplete.  Nowhere does anyone pause to consider whether looting is an expression of hatred for the repressive governments that have appropriated the past for their own nationalistic purposes.  And what of the roles of cops and archaeologists in these repressive regimes?Doesn't their unqualified support for nationalistic laws that declare anything "old" to be state property make them partly responsible for the unfolding tragedy?   

Oddly, the filmmakers appear to be operating on much firmer ground in Lebanon than in Germany. Some of the best footage depicts what Lebanese authorities have seized.   Still, CPO can't help wondering if any of the icons that are shown were confiscated from Christian refugees who have escaped with their lives and a few treasured possessions from ISIS.  If so, the filmmakers would be callously adding insult to real injury-- but do they really care given the point they intend to make? 

For what appears to be an English-language short of the same film, see here.

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Open Access Journal: Studia Orientalia Electronica

Studia Orientalia Electronica
ISSN: 2323-5209
Welcome to the website of Studia Orientalia Electronica (StOrE)! StOrE is a peer-reviewed multidisciplinary journal publishing original research articles and reviews in all fields of Asian and African studies. It is an offshoot of Studia Orientalia, an internationally recognized publication series (see for further information on Studia Orientalia and the publisher, Finnish Oriental Society). StOrE was established in 2013 to keep up the fine publishing tradition of Studia Orientalia. The new journal publishes high quality articles in a more modern and accessible format.
The first volume (year 2013) of Studia Orientalia Electronica has been published (see Archives section). Furthermore, some articles of back issues of the printed Studia Orientalia are found in the Archives section and more are coming soon. In the Current section you will find the articles of 2014 (vol. 2) of StOrE.
Interested in submitting to this journal? We recommend that you review the About the Journal page for the journal’s section policies, as well as the Author Guidelines. Authors need to register with the journal prior to submitting or, if already registered, can simply log in and begin the five-step process.


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Vol 112 (2012)

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Vol 111 (2011)

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Pdf files of Studia Orientalia 70 published in print in 1993.

Ancient Peoples

Relief from the Funerary Chapel of Sehetepibre  13th Dynasty,...

Relief from the Funerary Chapel of Sehetepibre 

13th Dynasty, Middle Kingdom

c.1802-1640 BC

The “overseer of troops” Sehetepibre, son of Satankhu was the owner of a commemorative chapel that housed two relief slabs in the collection. On these slabs, he is seen seated at an offering table, and members of his family are depicted as mummies.
Althought hieroglyphs could be written in either direction, the preference was to write from right to left. Thus, the list of Sehetepibre’s family begins at the right of this slab with the two larger mummies identified as Sehetepibre himself and the “lady of the house” Djehutihotep (perhaps his wife). Beside them, from right to left are the couple’s daughter Satankhu; Seka, son of Satmay; Seshemi, daughter of Setankhu; Senebes, daughter of Gifit; and the “overseer of troops” Khentikheti, son of Renesankh.

(Source: The Metropolitan Museum)

AIA Fieldnotes

Explore Ancient Egypt in CultureLab

Sponsoring Institution/Organization: 
Sponsored by Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology
Event Type (you may select more than one): 
Start Date: 
Saturday, October 25, 2014 - 10:00am

Jen Thum, Egyptologist and graduate student at the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, will be in the Museum's CultureLab fro 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. to share what she learned about some of the Museum's Egyptian pieces while you examine them close-up.  Ms. Thum will also share how she deciphered a badly damaged relief block that had been in the Museum for decades and is now finally on display thanks to her work. Read more »


Geralyn Ducady
Call for Papers: 

Archaeology Briefs


The ‘Treasure of Harageh’, a collection of 4,000 year old artifacts discovered in an Egyptian tomb in 1914 has been sold by Bonhams, the international fine art auction house, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York for an undisclosed sum on behalf of the St Louis Society of the Archaeological Institute of America.

Bonhams withdrew the Treasure on the day of the sale to conclude a private treaty deal between the St Louis Society and The Met. The artifacts had been estimated to sell for £80,000 to £120,000 after being consigned to auction by the St Louis Society. Madeleine Perridge, Director of Antiquities at Bonhams, commented: “We are truly delighted that this wonderful collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts is going to The Met where they will be displayed to best effect and provide academics with access. We are very pleased to have found such a satisfactory resolution ensuring that the tomb group will be kept together for posterity. Making connections at this level is part of what Bonhams offers its clients.”

A spokesperson for The St. Louis Society says: “We are very pleased with the outcome. Bonhams representation was superb. The Metropolitan Museum in New York is the best home for The Treasure. We are looking forward to seeing the objects and jewelry on exhibition.”

The Treasure was discovered by a team working under the legendary William Matthew Flinders Petrie, universally regarded as the father of modern archaeology. The team was led by Reginald Engelbach whose career in Egyptology included a term as Chief Keeper of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. The Treasure of Harageh is an important Egyptian tomb group from Harageh, and dates from the period of the Egyptian Middle Kingdom, 12th Dynasty, probably the reign of Sesostris II, circa 1897-1878 B.C.

In October of 1913 the team began excavations at the site of Harageh, 62 miles southwest of Cairo. This site contained an extensive necropolis. The tomb is suggested to have belonged to an elite woman of elevated status, often identified as Iytenhab, on the basis of a funerary stela which may not have been part of the original entombment.

More Information:[/url]
Copyright ©

Dienekes' Anthropology Blog

High coverage genome from 45,000-year old Siberian (Ust'-Ishim)

This is the oldest full genome of a modern human published to date and it also comes from a time (45 thousand years ago) that coincides with the Upper Paleolithic revolution in Eurasia.

45 thousand years ago is probably close to when Eurasians started diverging from each other as they spread in all directions. So, we expect that a human from that time would be "undifferentiated Eurasian" and indeed this seems to be the case.

First the Y-chromosome:
The Y chromosome sequence of the Ust’-Ishim individual is similarly inferred to be ancestral to a group of related Y chromosomes (haplogroup K(xLT)) that occurs across Eurasia today6 (Supplementary Information section 9).
and mtDNA:
The Ust’-Ishim mtDNA sequence falls at the root of a large group of related mtDNAs (the ‘R haplogroup’), which occurs today across Eurasia (Supplementary Information section 8).
It is clear that this was a Eurasian individual:
Based on genotyping data for 87 African and 108 non-African individuals (Supplementary Information section 11), the Ust’-Ishim genome shares more alleles with non-Africans than with sub-Saharan Africans (|Z| = 41–89), consistent with the principal component analysis, mtDNA and Y chromosome results.
It was also more like East Asians than Europeans:
Among the non-Africans, the Ust’-Ishim genome shares more derived alleles with present-day people from East Asia than with present-day Europeans (|Z| = 2.1–6.4).
But, when they compared East Asians with La Brana and MA-1 they didn't see a difference:
However, when an ~8,000-year-old genome from western Europe (La Braña)9 or a 24,000-year-old genome from Siberia (Mal’ta 1)10 were analysed, there is no evidence that the Ust’-Ishim genome shares more derived alleles with present-day East Asians than with these prehistoric individuals (|Z| < 2). This suggests that the population to which the Ust’-Ishim individual belonged diverged from the ancestors of present-day West Eurasian and East Eurasian populations before—or simultaneously with—their divergence from each other. The finding that the Ust’-Ishim individual is equally closely related to present-day Asians and to 8,000- to 24,000-year-old individuals from western Eurasia, but not to present-day Europeans, is compatible with the hypothesis that present-day Europeans derive some of their ancestry from a population that did not participate in the initial dispersals of modern humans into Europe and Asia11.
So it seems that the Ust'-Ishim individual belonged to the same branch as Asians and WHG/ANE and modern Europeans are less like it because they also have "Basal Eurasian" admixture which they inherited via the EEF in the model of Lazaridis et al.

The authors could also get estimates of the mutation rate because this is a 45,000 year old individual that hasn't experienced 45,000 years worth of mutations:
Assuming that this corresponds to the number of mutations that have accumulated over around 45,000 years, we estimate a mutation rate of 0.43 × 10−9 per site per year (95% CI 0.38 × 10−9 to 0.49 × 10−9) that is consistent across all non-African genomes regardless of their coverage (Supplementary Information section 14). This overall rate, as well as the relative rates inferred for different mutational classes (transversions, non-CpG transitions, and CpG transitions), is similar to the rate observed for de novo estimates from human pedigrees (~0.5 × 10−9 per site per year14, 15) and to the direct estimate of branch shortening (Supplementary Information section 10). As discussed elsewhere14, 16, 17, these rates are slower than those estimated using calibrations based on the fossil record and thus suggest older dates for the splits of modern human and archaic populations.
This is a very direct confirmation of the "slow" autosomal rate of ~1.2x10-8 mutations/generation/bp using a technology much different than those used before to estimate this. The slower mutation rate implies that major splits in human history (such as the Out-of-Africa event) took place much earlier than the Upper Paleolithic revolution and the spread of humans across Eurasia. Modern humans probably established an early presence in the Levant/Arabia (consistent with Out-of-Arabia), and invented the Upper Paleolithic-related tools/behaviors there much later, and only then spread across Eurasia.

The authors write:
we estimate that the admixture between the ancestors of the Ust’-Ishim individual and Neanderthals occurred approximately 50,000 to 60,000 years BP, which is close to the time of the major expansion of modern humans out of Africa and the Middle East.
This clinches the hypothesis of Neandertal introgression in Eurasians, as Ust'-Ishim has longer Neandertal segments than modern humans, as one might expect from an individual who experienced this admixture more recently in its evolutionary past than modern humans did. It's probably in the Middle East that the Levantine/Arabian modern humans that expanded Out-of-Africa more than 100 thousand years ago came into contact with Neandertals, admixed with them and later carried this ancestry to the rest of Eurasia. I tend to think that the AMH "colony" was first limited to Arabia and only later (post-70kya) expanded north as the climate deteriorated there. The authors estimate the common ancestor of non-African Y-chromosomes (including E, which is probably a back-migration to Africa) to around 70 thousand years ago which may coincide with the Arabian Exodus event.

Nature 514, 445–449 (23 October 2014) doi:10.1038/nature13810

Genome sequence of a 45,000-year-old modern human from western Siberia

Qiaomei Fu et al.

We present the high-quality genome sequence of a ~45,000-year-old modern human male from Siberia. This individual derives from a population that lived before—or simultaneously with—the separation of the populations in western and eastern Eurasia and carries a similar amount of Neanderthal ancestry as present-day Eurasians. However, the genomic segments of Neanderthal ancestry are substantially longer than those observed in present-day individuals, indicating that Neanderthal gene flow into the ancestors of this individual occurred 7,000–13,000 years before he lived. We estimate an autosomal mutation rate of 0.4 × 10−9 to 0.6 × 10−9 per site per year, a Y chromosomal mutation rate of 0.7 × 10−9 to 0.9 × 10−9 per site per year based on the additional substitutions that have occurred in present-day non-Africans compared to this genome, and a mitochondrial mutation rate of 1.8 × 10−8 to 3.2 × 10−8 per site per year based on the age of the bone.


The Archaeological Review

The Destruction of a Temple Monument

 This slab is one of five known examples which may have once been a screen wall in a temple though the location of that temple is vague. The slab was found reused as filler in a later construction in Alexandria, and appears to be one of the British Museum's earliest Egyptian objects entered in its collection as a gift of King George III in 1766, (EA22).

When I saw the slab in the "Eternal Egypt" exhibition at the Royal British Columbia Museum it was a most gorgeous object and the wall must have been a remarkable site in which ever temple it once stood. On the more damaged side is a crude inscription in Greek relating to a restoration in the Roman period.(1a)

Three of these slabs are inscribed for the first king of the 30th dynasty King Nectanebo I, and two are inscribed for earlier kings of the 26th dynasty including the first king of the dynasty Psamtik I and Psamtik II.(2) On the British Museum's slab the decoration of the more damaged side includes an offering scene with the king kneeling before a god and to the right another standing god belonging to another part of an offering scene the completion of the scene belonging on an adjoining block.

The cornices on both sides have been attacked with a chisel the cornice on the better preserved side shows a row of frontal facing falcons, the feet of which still are present. On the more damaged side there is little sign of the cornice except that the slab in Vienna(213), dedicated to Psamtik II shows a row of erect cobras (3). The Vienna slab cornice goes around one end of the stone indicating this slab was the beginning or end of the wall with no further elements at that end.

The inscriptions of the blocks indicate the wall might have been erected at Sais in the delta, ancient Heliopolis.  The Vienna stone differs from the later Nectanebo slab in that King Psamtik is shown in a much more prostrate position with both legs showing and side view of both feet while the British Museum's slab shows Nectanebo with only one leg and more than one toe.

At least part of the monument was present at the beginning of Egypt's 26th dynasty and in good enough condition 300 years later for Nectanebo I to have his name inscribed on some of the slabs. The wall may have become badly damaged in the earthquake of 27 BC which destroyed the remains of the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III or in the 365 AD earthquake(4) which destroyed much of Alexandria after which the rough largely illegible(1b),heretic inscription on the British Museum slab may have been hacked into the top of the slab during the reuse of the block.

When the drilled holes were added to the blocks is not known but may well indicate a further reuse after the Roman period? Since the block was found at Alexandria it may indicate the stone was taken to that city after the 365 AD earthquake to be reused in the rebuilding of Alexandria and thus eventually found there?

Perhaps someday more of the stone slabs in the wall will turn up and tell us more about what happened to the wall in between Psamtik II and Nectanebo I and hopefully why and when the beautiful wall was dismantled and used as filler in a later construction?


1(a,b). Many thanks to Elizabeth R. O'Connell Assistant Keeper (curator) Roman and late Antique Egypt at the British Museum for her help in the interpretation of the text.

2. Eternal Egypt: Masterworks of Ancient Art From The British Museum, Edna R. Russmann, 2001, #134 pgs. 244-247

3. Global Egyptian Museum 

4. Timelines: Earthquakes

Photo Courtesy of Michael Harding: Westcoast Adventures

Archaeology Briefs


Experts have begun to assess the toll this summer’s Gaza-Israeli conflict took on the region’s cultural heritage. More than 40 historic sites, including a mosque, a church and an ancient bath, were damaged or destroyed in Gaza during the 51-day war this summer, reports the Middle East news organization Al-Monitor.

The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in the Gaza Strip is preparing to present a full list of destroyed antiquities and ancient sites to Unesco, the Organization of Arab Culture and international human rights organizations.

The scale of the destruction may be difficult to determine because many of Gaza’s largest antiquities collections are in private hands. One collector, Jamal Abu Alian, told Al-Monitor that 70% of his collection, stored in a small private museum in al-Zanna village in the southern Gaza Strip, was destroyed during the fighting.

Around 8,000 antiquities are housed in similar private museums across the region, according to Mohammad Khalleh, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities’ representative in Gaza. An initiative launched by the ministry in 2010 to unite the territory’s private museums within a public umbrella facility has foundered due to lack of funding.

Meanwhile, plans for a new Palestinian Museum in the West Bank continue to move ahead. The $19m building, designed by the Dublin-based architecture firm Heneghan Peng, is due to open in 2016. Although the ceasefire set in August has held, the Israeli-Gaza conflict killed more than 2,100 Palestinians and 73 Israelis, according to the BBC.

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Egypt's Heritage TaskForce on Bakarat

Egypt's Heritage TaskForce reports 'This antiquities shop called Barakat in Abu Dhabi is selling a mixture of true and fake Egyptian artefacts' well, really I expected a better class of reproduction antiquities from Fayez Bakarat than what we see in these photos.  The guy has three shops in North Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills CA, Brook Street, London W1K, and Emirates Palace Hotel, Abu Dhabi. Check it out.  

UPDATE 21.10.2014:
Mentioned in Film: "Plundered Heritage"

UNESCO chief appeals to parties in Libya to stop destruction of cultural heritage

UNESCO chief appeals to parties in Libya to stop destruction of cultural heritage  
In a press release, UNESCO reported that a group of gunmen stormed and vandalized the renowned Karamanli Mosque on 7 October, located in the capital, Tripoli, removing ceramic tiles, marble decorations and severely damaging the floor. Days later, the UN agency noted, the historic Othman Pasha Madrassa was damaged and looted while another attempt to vandalize the Darghout Mosque was thwarted by local volunteers. [...]   In recent weeks, the North African nation has been embroiled in some of the worst fighting since the 2011 uprising that ousted former leader Muammar al-Qadhafi. [...] protracted battles between opposing armed groups continue to take their toll on civilians and the country’s cultural heritage. [...]  UNESCO urged all national and international partners “to reinforce actions and vigilance in order to protect Libya’s cultural heritage in the current context of rising unrest and insecurity” and reaffirmed its engagement with Libyan authorities to reinforce emergency measures for cultural heritage protection against looting and illicit trafficking. [...] In Libya, the agency will soon implement an emergency and risk preparedness training course to enable the authorities to carry out rapid assessment, documentation and monitoring of heritage. 

Follow The ISIS Money

"those who fund terrorism
are no less terrorists than those brandishing the swords". 

Webb Hubbell (former Associate Attorney General of the United States) writes that we should 'Follow The ISIS Money', Talk Radio News Service October 16, 2014
Most articles estimate that ISIS earns $1 to $3 million a day from oil sales – oil coming from lands and refineries they have seized in Iraq and Syria, which is purchased by black market brokers primarily in Turkey. [...]  Another source of money is the sale of antiquities by ISIS after they raid and loot churches and museums in seized territories [...] with a lot of money finding its way into the hands of terrorists and a lot of art finding its way into the homes of Americans and Europeans. That’s right: art collectors and museums who buy stolen antiquities indirectly fund torture and murder. Again, let’s hope the administration is being aggressive with purchasers of stolen art for the sake of the stolen art, but also for the humans who are the ultimate victims of such an outrageous enterprise. [...]  I think it would be advisable for our leadership to acknowledge that we are waging war on ISIS economically as well as militarily, and to treat those who support ISIS by buying oil, weapons, stolen art, and women and children just as we will treat ISIS.

Archaeology Briefs


James McAndrew reporting: a former senior special agent and founder of the international art theft investigations program at the Department of Homeland Security, is a forensic specialist. I remember helping the Iraqi coalition government wrestle with archaeological site destruction and prolific looting during and after the second Gulf war. The U.S. Customs Service had special agents in Iraq while fighting was ongoing to protect and recover antiquities, as well as collect intelligence on looting and destruction.

Too much attention is given to the U.S. and Europe, countries that are not the root of the problem or fueling it. At the same time, I developed a program for the Department of Homeland Security, which sought to investigate, return and recover stolen and looted works of art and antiquity if they crossed over the U.S. border. The program was, and is, extremely successful, with more than 400 specially trained D.H.S. agents to date.

But is it enough to stop looting? I don’t think so. Our borders were never flooded with looted Iraqi antiquities during or after the war. They aren’t flooded with looted Syrian antiquities now. Sadly, many looted items remain in the Middle East or are simply destroyed. Looters do not ask for high prices for the goods they sell; they are trying to make ends meet or profit easily. Too much attention is given to what the world perceives as “market countries” (i.e. the U.S. and Europe) that are not the root of the problem, nor are they fueling it.

Other factors drive the archaeological site destruction in Syria and Iraq, like the extremist ideology against idolatry or the discourse between religions. It’s beyond comprehension to think an ISIS fighter is consumed with the thought of the potential for profit of a religious or archaeological item sold to a resident of Park Avenue. The militants have a different agenda.

The United Nations, the International Council of Museums and Interpol are more respected by foreign heads of state and cultural ministries than the U.S. and coalition forces are when it comes to this problem. The most effective way to stop looting is through international pressure led by Syria’s neighboring countries, including the use of sanctions specifically for the lack of effort in protecting the cultural infrastructure within Syria's borders. The U.S. and its allies should support any effort in an advisory role, but the crisis is on the ground, not the political sphere.

Archaeological News on Tumblr

'Hobbit Humans' Actually Might Not Have Been Human

Ten years after being discovered, the “Hobbit Human” remains a controversial figure, with some...

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Fitz Gibbon Stop the War and the Looting will Stop - duh

Kate Fitz Gibbon ('Heritage Protection Depends on Stable Governments', New York Times 8th October 2014) imagines she has a solution to Syria's looted artefact problems:
art and artifacts from Iraq and Syria flow unchecked to Turkey, the Gulf States and other nearby nations. Export control should start at Syria’s borders. The U.S. should provide assistance either directly or through international organizations to bordering nations in order to stop smuggling where it starts. [...]  Heritage protection depends upon stable governments and the rule of law. [...]  The only way to halt the destruction in Syria and Iraq is to rebuild civil society in both nations and make on-the-ground protection of museums, monuments and archeological sites a priority. Feel-good actions within the U.S. only distract from taking meaningful steps in Syria itself, which is ultimately the only effective means to halt looting. 

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Open Access Journal: Cuneiform Digital Library Notes (CDLN)

First posted in AWOL  31 August 2009.  Updated 22 October 2014]

Cuneiform Digital Library Notes (CDLN)
 ISSN 1546-6566
Cuneiform Digital Library Notes is an electronic journal constituted in conjunction with the organization and work of the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative to afford contributors to that effort the opportunity to make known to an international community the results of their research into topics related to those of the CDLI.
The CDLN is a moderated e-bulletin board for Assyriology and is conceived as a notepad publication of the Cuneiform Digital Library Journal and the Cuneiform Digital Library Bulletin. The CDLJ seeks substantive contributions dealing with the major themes of the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative, that is, with text analyses of 4th and 3rd millennium documents (incorporating text, photographs, data, drawings, interpretations), early language, writing, paleography, administrative history, mathematics, metrology, and the technology of modern cuneiform editing. Articles in the CDLB are shorter contributions of two to five pages that deal with specific topics, collations, etc., and do not attempt to offer synthetic treatments of complex subjects. The CDLN assumes the role of a bulletin board for the quick publication and internet distribution of short notices of at most one page.
The CDLN is hosted by the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative, LA/Berlin, and is in the editorial care of Klaus Wagensonner (University of Oxford).

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

National Gallery of Australia Writes off 5.6 million on Shiva Return

Australia: civilized values
St Louis in the USA has not the guts to say it made a mistake and that it will rectify it. Thankfully not all museum professionals in teh English-speaking world are like that. The National Gallery of Australia has written off 5.6 million on the return of the looted Shiva bought from Kapoor.
The NGA’s annual report reveals the gallery wrote off the loss of the piece last financial year, after having accepted without challenge India’s request for its return.

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Mesopotamian Seals

Mesopotamian Seals

Online resources for the study of Mesopotamian stamp and cylinder seals, often with incised legends naming the owner, his profession or educational standing, his patronymic and, looking up in the Mesopotamian hierarchy, his administrative affiliations, are difficult to come by, even though this small administrative tool has played a very substantial role in the development of writing, and in the smooth functioning of an advanced ancient society. Mespotamian Seals is offered to bring attention to the admittedly limited text annotation files of the CDLI as one of several avenues of research available in a sub-field more often treated by archaeologists and art historians than by philologists (CDLI’s initial seals work is described here; cleansing of those file entries is being undertaken by Richard Firth). The CDLI catalogue currently contains entries documenting ca. 32,450 Mesopotamian artifacts related to seals and sealing: 31,300 represent clay tablets, tags or other sealings, most of whose seal impressions included owner legends, and currently just 1,150 are physical seals; 5,370 more CDLI entries represent composites derived from seal impressions, and therefore the negatives of original cylinder seals now lost. 

All CDLI seals

Physical seals

Composite seals

Sealings (on tags, bullae, etc.)

Best attested seals:

   Ayakalla, Umma ensi2 (Ur III, Š46/ii/29 – ŠS9/i)
   Lukalla, Umma ‘scribe’ (Ur III, Š33/i – ŠS9/iv)
   Lugal-emaḫe, Umma ‘scribe’ (Ur III, Š34/vi – ŠS5)
   Ur-mes, Drehem ‘fattener’ (Ur III, AS9/xiii – ŠS9/xii)
   Akalla, Umma ‘scribe’ (Ur III, Š33 – ŠS 3/iv)

Seals and impressed tablets by period:
      Adab      Nippur      Umma
      Girsu      Tell Brak      Ur
      Isin      Tutub      Urkesh
   Lagash II (ca. 2200-2100 BC)
   Ur III (ca. 2100-2000 BC)
      Adab      Girsu      Susa
      Drehem      Irisagrig      Umma
      Eshnunna      Nippur      Ur
   Early Old Babylonian (ca. 2000-1900 BC)
   Old Assyrian (ca. 1950-1850 BC)
   Old Babylonian (ca. 1900-1600 BC)
   Middle Babylonian (ca. 1400-1100 BC)
   Middle Assyrian (ca. 1400-1000 BC)
   Neo-Assyrian (ca. 911-612 BC)
   Neo-Babylonian (ca. 911-612 BC)
   Achaemenid (547-331 BC)
   Hellenistic (323-63 BC)

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Neanderthals and Humans First Mated 50,000 Years Ago, DNA Reveals

The DNA from the 45,000-year-old bone of a man from Siberia is helping to pinpoint when modern...

All Mesopotamia

richard-miles-archaeologist: Ancient Worlds - BBC Two Episode 1...


Ancient Worlds - BBC Two

Episode 1 “Come Together”

Lyres from the Royal Tombs of Ur: the Queen’s Lyre

The archaeologist Leonard Woolley discovered pieces of several lyres (or Harps) in the graves in the Royal Cemetery at Ur, ancient Mesopotamia. Those lyres, from about 2600-2400 BC, are considered to be the world’s oldest surviving stringed instruments.

The lyres remains were restored and distributed between the museums that took part in the digs.

Pictures n 1, 2, 3: One of two lyres found in the grave of Queen Pu-abi, the Queen’s Lyre. Along with the lyre, which stood against the pit wall, were the bodies of several women with fine jewellery, presumed to be sacrificial victims, and numerous stone and metal vessels. One woman lay right against the lyre and, according to Woolley, she was its player. The front panels of the instrument are made of lapis lazuli, shell and red limestone. The gold mask of the bull decorating the front of the sounding box had to be restored. While the horns are modern, the beard, hair and eyes are original and made of lapis lazuli. The shape of the lyre is meant to resemble a bull’s body.

Picture n 4: Woolley holding one lyre discovered in one of the tombs.

British Museum, London, UK 

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

ADCAEA Officer: "Boycott Turkish Antiquities"

An officer of the Association of Dealers and Collectors of Ancient and Ethnographic Art (ADCAEA) which aims to advance the responsible and legal trading and collecting of ancient and ethnographic art has called for a boycott of antiquities passing through Turkey to be established. This would last until such time as that country seals its borders to prevent antiquities looted in areas of Iraq and Syria held by rebel warlords and Islamist militants reaching outside markets. According to the New Yorker, such  artefacts are openly available for sale in Turkish border towns. Responsible dealers should be  pressuring the Turkish government (which ratified the 1970 UNESCO Convention April 21, 1981) to help the licit trade address the problem at the source. Since there seem to be problems with closing the borders at the moment (allowing refugees through), the only reasonable solution seems  to be for responsible dealers to boycott antiquities leaving Turkey and increased transparency to show that they are doing so. 

Allah's Greedy Culture Thieves

Berliner Zeitung

Martina Doering ('Allahs gierige Räuber', Berliner Zeitung 0.10.2014 IS) suggests that the ISIL jihadists are financed from looting and the illegal antiquities trade. Buyers are collectors in Europe, now also in China and, more recently, in the Gulf States. She discusses looting in sites like Palmyra, Ebla, Apamea, Carchemish and Rakka.
Dort sind seit Monaten Raubgräber am Werk, die den Boden nach antiken Objekten durchwühlen, zum Teil mit hochmodernem Gerät. In den Tempelanlagen und Resten assyrischer, babylonischer und byzantinischer Herrscher werden Stücke aus Wandfriesen herausgebrochen, Statuen die Köpfe abgeschlagen, Mosaiken großflächig aus dem Boden geschnitten.[...] Es gibt also reichlich Material zum Plündern, was denn auch in großem Maßstab und mit System stattfindet: In den Gebieten, die die Terrormiliz Islamischer Staat in Syrien und im Irak kontrolliert, wird das Kulturerbe systematisch geplündert.[...] Daraus ging hervor, dass der IS (noch unter anderem Namen und eine von vielen Rebellengruppen) seit Ausbruch des syrischen Bürgerkrieges im März 2011 im Antikenschmuggel tätig ist.
Most objects are smuggled across the Turkish or Lebanese borders. From there, they go further by boat, on a plane by diplomatic bag or across the country. Many of these objects are probably in Europe, perhaps stockpiled in warehouses. Some appear in auction houses with a vague or false statement of origin as "privately owned" or "Mesopotamia" or "Middle East". At the end of the piece the archaeologist and art theft expert, Michael Müller-Karpe is quoted as saying that we should not try to regulate trade by law. He says "the trade must be banned altogether. Only if there are buyers, there is the incentive to dig for objects".

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

What the Gladiators ate

Roman gladiators ate a mostly vegetarian diet and drank ashes after training as a tonic. These are the findings of anthropological investigations carried out on bones of warriors found during excavations in the ancient city of Ephesos.

(OEAI, Pietsch) Anthropology unlocks clues about Roman gladiators' eating habits

Historic sources report that gladiators had their own diet. This comprised beans and grains. Contemporary reports referred to them as “hordearii” (“barley eaters”).

In a study by researchers from MedUni Vienna and the University of Bern, bones were examined from a gladiator cemetery uncovered in 1993 which dates back to the 2nd or 3rd century BC in the then Roman city of Ephesos (now in modern-day Turkey). At the time, Ephesos was the capital of the Roman province of Asia and had over 200,000 inhabitants.

Using spectroscopy, stable isotope ratios (carbon, nitrogen and sulphur) were investigated in the collagen of the bones, along with the ratio of strontium to calcium in the bone mineral.

The result shows that gladiators mostly ate a vegetarian diet. There is virtually no difference in terms of nutrition from the local “normal population”. Meals consisted primarily of grain and meat-free meals. The word “barley eater” relates in this case to the fact that gladiators were probably given grain of an inferior quality.

Build-up drink following physical exertion

The difference between gladiators and the normal population is highly significant in terms of the amount of strontium measured in their bones. This leads to the conclusion that the gladiators had a higher intake of minerals from a strontium-rich source of calcium. The ash drink quoted in literature probably really did exist. “Plant ashes were evidently consumed to fortify the body after physical exertion and to promote better bone healing,” explains study leader Fabian Kanz from the Department of Forensic Medicine at the MedUni Vienna. “Things were similar then to what we do today – we take magnesium and calcium (in the form of effervescent tablets, for example) following physical exertion.” Calcium is essential for bone building and usually occurs primarily in milk products.

A further research project is looking at the migration of gladiators, who often came from different parts of the Roman Empire to Ephesos. The researchers are hoping that comparison of the bone data from gladiators with that of the local fauna will yield a number of differences.

Click here to read the article Stable Isotope and Trace Element Studies on Gladiators and Contemporary Romans from Ephesus (Turkey, 2nd and 3rd Ct. AD) – Implications for Differences in Diet from PlosOne

Peter Tompa (Cultural Property Observer)

Cuno's Case Against Repatriation

James Cuno has made a well-reasoned case against repatriation.  What a welcome contrast to the blatant propaganda that has become associated with the archaeological lobby.

If Cuno fails at all, it's in his ignoring the interests of collectors, who have traditionally supported healthy museums.

And then there is his failure to reach as a conclusion the all too obvious end result of the cultural nationalism he decries:  if anything, the reality on the ground in Egypt, Syria and Iraq proves that sites are looted and museums are destroyed precisely because angry, disenfranchised locals associate state owned antiquities with hated dictatorial regimes who have appropriated the past to serve their own purposes.

Ancient Peoples

Shabti Box of Paramnekhu 19th Dynasty, New Kingdom  The wooden...

Shabti Box of Paramnekhu

19th Dynasty, New Kingdom 

The wooden shabti box is inscribed for Paramnekhu, a servant in the Place of Truth who was a son or grandson of Sennedjem in whose tomb the box was found.

(Source: The Metropolitan Museum)

Archaeological Institute of America blogs

Society Spotlight: AIA Lincoln/Omaha Society

The AIA Lincoln/Omaha Society splits its robust lecture program between two cities, and its events draw up to 200 people. Learn more about one of the AIA's younger societies, promoting archaeological interest in Nebraska.

The AIA Lincoln/Omaha Society was started in 1994 and was chartered in 1995, through the efforts of AIA Society Trustee and University of Nebraska–Lincoln Professor Michael Hoff, along with his colleague Prof. Effie Athanassopoulos and the late Prof. Kathryn Thomas. A relatively young society, Lincoln/Omaha often sees crowds of up to 200 people at lectures. Covering two cities, the society draws members from three local universities, the University of Nebraska Omaha, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, and Creighton University. Read more »

ArcheoNet BE

Stad Antwerpen zoekt archeoloog

Antwerpenaars zijn trots op de geschiedenis en de vernieuwing van de stad. Daarom zoeken ze een archeoloog (m/v) voor vooronderzoek bij bouwprojecten zoals de Scheldekaaien. Een pragmatische onderzoeker die de werken en opgravingen begeleidt en de gegevens verwerkt. Een archeoloog die sterk is in organisatie en die goed op de hoogte is van evoluties in het vakgebied. De consulent archeologie wordt in dienst genomen met een contract van onbepaalde duur. Solliciteren voor deze functie is mogelijk tot en met 7 november. Je vindt de volledige vacture op

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Open Access Journal: Lettre d’information de l’IFAO

Lettre d’information de l’IFAO
Pour vous abonner à notre lettre d’information, envoyez un email vide à …
Subscribe to our newsletter: send an empty email to …
Vous receverez alors un email pour reconfirmer votre demande.
You will then receive a email to confirm of your demand.

Andie Byrnes (Egyptology News)

Autumn 2014 update from Amarna (received by email)

The latest from Barry Kemp and Anna Stevens:

Amarna, Autumn 2014

We are happy to report that the expedition has resumed its work at Amarna, at the start of what is planned to be a particularly busy and varied schedule which we hope will run almost continuously into June of next year.

Last week, an excavating team (independently funded) led by Dr Anna Hodgkinson arrived to open the expedition house and magazines and to begin a month-long investigation of a particular location within the housing area, not far to the south of the house of Ranefer and the area of small houses which were excavated in 2004 and 2005. The location lies within ground excavated in 1922 by the Egypt Exploration Fund (as it was then named), specifically part of a series of workrooms numbered M50.14. They reported finding a 'glaze kiln' but gave very few details. Dr Hodgkinson, who has a particular interest in the glass and glazing industry of the New Kingdom, has located the site again and is opening it for a close investigation.

At the same time, and based in the Cairo office, two projects are under way. One is the continued scanning of the expedition archive so that multiple copies can be kept of almost all of its records. The other is the composing of a major report on the South Tombs Cemetery excavations, which ran between 2006 and 2013. In mid-November, the group undertaking this will move to Amarna and so be able to access the material from the cemetery in store at the site magazines. This includes the human remains themselves, together with small finds, pottery, textile and other kinds of wrapping material.

At the end of December, a group of conservators, led by Julie Dawson and Lucy Skinner, will run a workshop which will concentrate on the remaining decorated coffin pieces from the cemetery. Several of the pieces were, at the time of excavation, packaged in conservation materials which left the surfaces invisible. The slow work of exposing and consolidating the surfaces should eventually reveal the details of decoration. The coffin group as a whole makes a most important contribution to understanding how the people of Amarna reacted to the changed ideas of the times when faced with the need to bury their dead.

Towards the end of the coffins workshop, a further team will assemble to resume cleaning and repairs at the Great Aten Temple, following which the plan is to start an investigation of the cemeteries of the Amarna period which we know lie in the northern part of Amarna. The investigation will be carried out in conjunction with the University of Southern Illinois (of which Dr Gretchen Dabbs will be the principal representative, working alongside Dr Anna Stevens).

In this connection it is good to be able to report that the work will be supported by a major grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities of the USA.

During September of this year, the work of hair experts Jolanda Bos and Lonneke Beukenholdt on the hairstyles of the people buried in the South Tombs Cemetery attracted media attention, see, for example:

Their report, in Dutch, is published in the Archeologie Magazin (, 25 April-26 October 2014, pp. 12-15.

The preparation of the next issue of Horizon is well advanced, and will include detail on the Great Aten Temple work of the spring season.

As always, we owe a great debt of gratitude to our supporters. Our channels of giving remain open through the year: OR

OR by cheque made out to the Amarna Trust and sent to Dr Kate Spence, Division of Archaeology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3DZ

Barry Kemp/Anna Stevens 22 October 2014

American Philological Association

Travel Information for New Orleans Annual Meeting

Click here to read about air and train travel to New Orleans as well as transportation between the meeting hotels and Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

Doctor Who and Religion Lecture

Click here to view the embedded video.

The folks at Ole Miss recorded the lecture I gave on Religion and Doctor Who, and have kindly shared it on their YouTube channel. The audio isn’t great, and the very beginning is missing, but for those interested in the topic, it will hopefully still be interesting and enjoyable!


The Archaeology News Network

2014 excavations at Erimi-Laonin completed

The Department of Antiquities, Cyprus, has announced the completion of the 2014 fieldwork season undertaken by the Italian Archaeological Mission, Università degli Studi di Firenze, at Erimi, at the site of Erimi-Laonin tou Porakou. This year’s investigations took place from July 21st August 18th  2014. Finds from chamber tomb 428 at Erimi-Laonin tou Porakou  [Credit: Department of Antiquities of Cyprus]The Bronze Age...

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David Gill (Looting Matters)

Ka-Nefer-Nefer Mummy Mask: the unanswered questions

Paul Barford has drawn attention to the response by SLAM's legal team to the conclusion of the two parallel legal cases.

Patrick McInerney will need to explain when his client was first informed that the Ka-Nefer-Nefer mask was derived from Saqqara. How did curators at SLAM respond? Then there is the issue of when (or if) SLAM contacted the Egyptian SCA about the mask. And was the Director of SLAM ever advised to contact Zahi Hawass about the acquisition and the Saqqara link? Did the curator responsible for the acquisition provide misleading or inaccurate information to the Cairo Museum? How was the collecting history authenticated?

The discussion about the mask is far from over.

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BiblePlaces Blog

Life of Jesus Tour with Wayne Stiles

Wayne Stiles is leading an extraordinary tour of Israel that you should consider joining. Three features immediately mark this as a unique opportunity.

1. This tour has an exclusive focus on the life of Jesus. One of the struggles many have on their first tour is the lack of focus, as you jump from one period to another and back again all day, every day. When you’re zeroed in on the four Gospels, you’ll be making all kinds of connections as you see, listen, and read about the life of the Messiah.

2. The particular itinerary of this trip is outstanding. Not only is it focused on the life of Jesus, you will see all kinds of places you won’t see on any other trip. Wayne gave me a chance to review the itinerary earlier this year and I was highly impressed. After some suggested tweaks, I don’t think you’ll find a better tour schedule.

3. Wayne Stiles has a unique gift for bringing the biblical world into our own. Some teachers are history gurus, but they can’t translate their research into how it affects us today. Wayne is superb at doing this in his books, on his blog, and at the sites. He is passionate, accurate, and faithful.

So that’s my three cents. I am often asked about a trip to Israel that I would recommend. Unless you’re an enrolled college student, I don’t have too many good suggestions. Today I do. I’d encourage you to take the opportunity while you can.

Cove of the Sower from top, tbs76029303

Try out the acoustics at the amazing Cove of the Sower!

Bill Caraher (The New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World)

Ethnicity and Archaeology in Modern Methana

Hamish Forbes has had a productive retirement. It seems like hardly a month goes by without some significant article from the tip of his pen. I finally got around to reading his article, “Archaeology and the Making of Improper Citizens in Modern Greece,” in the Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 27.1 (2014).

Forbes argues that many Methanites, who are Arvanitika speakers, do not relate to the national archaeological narrative constructed by the Greek state which have tended to celebrate the ties between modern Greece and Classical Antiquity and the monuments of Athens. Arvanitika speakers who settled in Greece at some point between the late Medieval period (say 13th century?) and the Ottoman period have stood outside of the national narrative in Greece that has been slow to recognize the existence of “ethnic minorities” typically defined by language. In fact, Forbes makes the point that there is no official capacity to recognize ethnic minorities in Greece, and this might be partially the result of conflating issues of ethnicity with desires for alternate national identities (ethnoi), partially the result of periods of hyper-nationalist political rhetoric, and partially the desire of the Greek state to distinguish itself in the European Union.

Forbes notes that Arvanitika speaking communities are common in Boeotia, Attica, and across the Northeastern Peloponnesus, but have generally found ways to hide their identities from outsiders and the unsympathetic gaze of the state. On the Methana peninsula, this has manifest itself in the community’s lack of interest in the ancient ruins on the peninsula, and attention to a fort dated to the Greek War of Independence. The fort was apparently constructed by the French philhellene Charles Fabvier to train Greek troops. Today, the fortification, visible on the narrow isthmus that separates Methana from the northern coast of Troezene, bears a large Greek flag painted on its flanks and this explicitly connects the site to a national identity. At the same time, the national identity manifest in this 19th century ruin, however, is nevertheless outside the main archaeological narrative promoted by the Greek state. In other words, the 19th century ruin provides an opportunity to locate the Arvanitika-speaking community within a positive narrative of the Greek state.

Forbes discusses the way in which local communities articulate their archaeological landscape and how it often differs from the interest of national or foreign archaeologists. He cites Susan Sutton’s description of the communities around the archaeological site of Nemea who associated more closely with a cave in a nearby hill that they relate to the den of the Nemean lion. Methanites likewise recognize the antiquity of a cave set high on the slopes of the volcanic peninsula, and Forbes notes that these natural features often provide points of reference in the landscape that allow local communities to establish regionally meaningful archaeological identities.

This article caught my attention for two reasons. First, on the Western Argolid Regional Project this summer we documented a fortification associated with the Greek War of Independence. Without getting into too much detail, graffiti festooned a number of parts of this rather visible fortification allowing individuals to locate their names within the archaeological landscape. This linked the nearby community of Lyrkeia very closely to a historical place. It is interesting to note that the nearby ancient ruins did not attract similar attention. The fort on Methana will also be a useful point of architectural comparison for our fortification in the Argolid although our fortress has far less august a historical pedigree. 

I was also interested in reading that Forbes did not mention the inventio story associated with the church of St. Barbara. According to Forbes’ monograph on Methana, a local resident had a dream which led the villagers to excavate and discover the bones of St. Barbara and St. Juliana who helped protect the island from the influenza epidemic in the early 20th century. I’ve blogged about it here. What’s interesting about this story is that it presents indigenous archaeology as more than simply the recognition of ruins or sites by a community, but the actual excavation of sites of particular significance. As Arvanitika speakers and Greek speakers in Greece share the Orthodox faith, it is significant that both communities have used these same methods to create locally meaningful archaeological landscapes (if not in the strictly scientific sense) that resonate with national narratives emphasizing the Orthodox (and Byzantine) roots of the Greek nation. This narrative is distinct from the national narrative that privileges Classical antiquity, and perhaps provides another alternate space for the forging of historically significant national identities.   

Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

Il progetto ARCHEOMEDSITES a Ravello LAB


Archeomedsites, progetto di cooperazione transfrontaliera tra Italia, Tunisia e Libano, finanziato nell’ambito del Programma ENPI CBC Med 2007-2013, sarà presente alla nona edizione di Ravello Lab – Colloqui internazionali, all’interno del panel 1 dal titolo “ Cooperazione culturale e progettazione territoriale euro mediterranea”.

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

A Test it is Better to Fail

Rachel Held Evans blogged about the story of Abraham trying to sacrifice Isaac, on the same day that I was scheduled to speak to a group of local artists about the story. She said what I personally consider the most appropriate response:

I’d like to think that even if those demands thundered from the heavens in a voice that sounded like God’s, I’d have sooner been struck dead than obeyed them. 

Neil Carter commented on the post, and reflected on the implications of religious attempts to defend Abraham, and along with him the stories about Canaanite genocide and other such details. He writes:

Moser AkedahWhen I tell people I’m an atheist, the most common (and most exasperating) response I get is: “Well, without God, where do you get your morals from?”  Inevitably they will tell me that I cannot have an objective framework for morality if I don’t believe in spirits and afterlives (which is rubbish), but the irony is that between the two of us, my challenger is actually the one who cannot categorically condemn any moral choice we could make. John Piper will tell you in a heartbeat that killing your child is totally legit if God tells you to do it, because the Bible tells him so.

In the end, if whatever God tells you to do is right, then morality is fundamentally relative.  Once you’ve decided on that way of thinking, it inevitably devolves into a theological debate about God’s feelings.  This is a highly subjective discussion, of course, since one of the key tenets of monotheism is that if there is a God, you’re probably not him.  So how is it that you feel qualified to determine what he wants and what he doesn’t (and for that matter, why it has to be a “he”)?  It’s your word against another man’s word, not God’s word against everyone else’s.  You can try saying “but the Bible says,” except that’s really the word of more people just like you.  Any attempt to deny this leads to untenable absurdity because the Bible isn’t even consistent with itself.  Biblical writers didn’t all see everything the same way.

Libby Anne also mentioned the post, indicating that “talking back to God” is not only Biblical, but it is something highlighted in the Jewish tradition. It isn’t a rejection of God (despite what some of Rachel Held Evans’ critics have said). Indeed, the Jewish tradition has a long history of being puzzled about why Abraham didn’t discuss this with God in the way he discussed and debated and bargained when God told him about Sodom and Gomorrah.

Of related interest, Martin LaBar blogged about Isaac and Jesus, while Jeremy Smith blogged about looking for the minority report in the Bible.

At the workshop I mentioned at the start of this post, another presenter surveyed a wide range of art related to the story of the binding of Isaac, including the depiction in the recent Bible miniseries. Can you honestly watch this without flinching or being disturbed?

Click here to view the embedded video.

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Myth Busted: Ancient Humans May Not Have Been Redheads

Ancient humans found with red hair weren’t necessarily redheads in life, but may have...

The Archaeology News Network

Earliest modern human sequenced

A research team led by Svante Paabo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, has sequenced the genome of a 45,000-year-old modern human male from western Siberia. The Ust'-Ishim femur [Credit: Bence Viola, MPI EVA]The comparison of his genome to the genomes of people that lived later in Europe and Asia show that he lived close in time to when the ancestors of present-day people in Europe and...

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

IMAGES & DÉCORS DE L’ÂGE DU BRONZE ET DE L’ÂGE DU FER – Toulouse, 12 novembre 2014


Capture d’écran 2014-10-22 à 14.48.51IMAGES & DÉCORS DE L’ÂGE DU BRONZE ET DE L’ÂGE DU FER

Journée d’étude organisée par l’équipe CAHPA (UMR TRACES) et le Master Arts et cultures de la Préhistoire et de la Protohistoire, en partenariat avec l’Université de Bordeaux – Michel de Montaigne

Mercredi 12 novembre 2014 

Maison de la Recherche de l’Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès, salle D155 

Coordinateur : Pierre-Yves MILCENT

Les recherches sur l’iconographe des sociétés protohistoriques sont en plein essor, en raison notamment de la multiplication des découvertes et de la diversification des approches analytiques. Le but de cette journée est de faire le point sur les travaux en cours et de présenter des découvertes récentes significatives.

Images et décors_programme JE_CAHPA_12_11_14


8h 30 – Pierre-Yves MILCENT - accueil des participants et introduction

8h 45 – Eléonore DE CASTRO ” Oiseaux en tous genres : Corent (Auvergne) ”

9h – Pierre-Yves MILCENT “Vers l’apothéose ? Les charriots à iconographie solaire de la fin de l’âge du Bronze et du 1er âge du Fer en Europe”

9h 30 – Barbara ARMBRUSTER & Emilie DUBREUCQ “Symboles et images sur l’or au temps de la dame de Vix”

10h – Sandra PÉRÉ-NOGUÈS “Un mariage et un suicide : histoires d’une “coupe” chez les Celtes entre images et littérature”

10h 30 – pause

10h 50 – Laurent GRIMBERT & Catherine VIERS “Les éléments sculptés du second âge du Fer découverts sur le site de la ZAC-Andromède à Blagnac (Haute Garonne)”

11h 20 – Philippe GRUAT “L’apport iconographique des stèles et des statues du complexe héroïque des Touriès à Saint-Jean et Saint-Paul (Aveyron)”

Pause de midi 

14h – Clémence BREUIL “En chemin vers l’au-delà ! L’iconographie des Pierres à cerfs de Tsatsiin Ereg, Mongolie (1200-700 ans av. J.-C.)”

14h 30 – Pierre MORET “Sens dessus-dessous : interprétation renversante d’un décor ibérique (Aragon, IIe s. av. J.-C.)”

15h – Alexis GORGUES “Iconographie et valeurs des élites dans le nord du domaine ibérique (IIIe-Ier s. av. J.-C.)”

15h 30 – Pause

15h 50 – Guillaume VERRIER “À propos d’un graffiti de fibule gauloise à Toulouse”

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Ancient textile and dyeing workshops excavated in Erimi

Archaeologists excavating at Erimi-Laonin tou Porakou in the Limassol district have uncovered a...

The Archaeology News Network

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

Until now, visitors to the Acropolis Museum in Athens could only peer through the glass floors of the Bernard Tschumi-designed structure to get an idea of the ancient neighborhood lying among the building’s foundations. A new wing will be added to the Acropolis Museum when the excavated area lying beneath  its ground level is opened to the public to showcase the history of an Athenian  neighbourhood between the third...

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Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

New "Nazi War Diggers" Allegations

ThePipeLine suggests that the amateur metal detectorists involved in the controversial TV series “Nazi War Diggers” were involved in the handling of potentially lethal unexploded munitions ('New "Nazi War Diggers" Allegations', October 1 2014). The evidence they adduce is not exactly convincing and I'm not really sure what point they are making. I guess the word "battlefield" is a new term for them...

The "Loot to Save" Argument Again

"The interests of preserving these monuments
to human genius and scholarly study are served otherwise
Bruce Leimsidor 

In the context of the discussion in the New York Times of Zainab Bahrani's brief text about looting and its possible connections with armed conflict, Professor Bruce Leimsidor Università Ca' Foscari Venezia, Dipartimento di Filosofia e Beni Culturali, in Venice, Italy considers that the way to "save antiquities" (objects) is to "allow their sale, and convincing the warring parties that they are valuable". Archaeological artefacts ("great works of art" - sic) "belong to humanity, not just to a country or an ethnic group".
Sure, it's preferable that they can be seen and enjoyed where they were originally made, but that advantage is not worth putting them in grave danger. Especially given the role of Islamic extremists in Syria, who may very well consider many of Syria's treasures as idolatrous, better that they be sold on the international art market, where some may wind up in museums, than meet the fate of the Buddhas of Bamiyan.
First of all, most of the things dug up by looters on archaeological sites are utilitarian items such as pots, vessels, clay tablets, metal ornaments to something else, coins and other such everyday minutiae, not "great works of art". Secondly I am not at all clear how the "saving them from being smashed by the ignorant brown-skinned guys" applies to looting. This does not apply to archaeological objects which are buried and so therefore invisible to iconoclasts and anyone else until they are dug up and hoiked out of the archaeological sites which they are an integral part of. They are dug up because somebody will buy some of them, not in order to smash them all.

The writer (much admired by collector and coiney John Hooker - "softcore terrorists and other bottom-feeders") apparently dismisses the idea that preserving the integrity of archaeological sites as a source of knowledge has any merit:
this is nonsense. The Greek, Roman, and Egyptian antiquities in the museums of Paris, London, Berlin, and New York are hardly without historical interest. [...] Art historians understand enough about style and techniques of production to be able to date and place an object pretty exactly. Moreover, archival photos and drawings exist showing many later looted objects in their original place.
The latter is an utter fallacy in the case of those buried deep in sites like Archar (Ratiaria), Bulgaria, Wanborough, Surrey, Icklingham, Suffolk, Apamea, Syria and Dura Europos until dug out by artefact hunters. Prof. Leimsidor  suggests that by hoiking out artefacts buried in sites like this:
these monuments (sic), which belong to all of humanity, would have been lost if left in place because of war, or even more frequently, simply gross neglect or religious fanaticism. Even if monuments (sic) are sold to private collectors, there is still a better chance that they will be preserved, and even, in time, appear for all of us to see in museums. [...] They are not only better preserved, but also more easily studied when removed from the Syrian desert, the jungles of Cambodia, or the mountains of Tibet
Studied by whom? Syrian, Cambodian and Chinese archaeologists and cultural heritage professionals? What about the Italian archaeological heritage, objects looted from Etruscan cemeteries hoiked out and smuggled to US museums where they can be "more easily studied and better preserved' than the Italians can mange if they are left in the ground?  I think Prof. Leimsidor really has not understood the essence of the discussion over looting when he writes that the real reason for "bemoaning the removal of art objects from their original location" is that leaving them buried deep below the ground in their archaeological context in some way "serves the interests of the tourism industry and nationalism, which has been a major cause of war in the first place". So Prof. Leimsidor would have us believe that digging artefacts up and allowing their sale, "convincing the warring parties that they are valuable" and can be sold to raise funds for their activities, is a way to prevent military conflict? I really do not follow the logic of this argument in the context of the current discussion.

"Detectorists" Viewing Figures

Accounts of viewing figures for the first episode of the true-to-life sitcom "Detectorists", vary, one source suggests it was  650,000 viewers (which would be a viewing percentage of 4%) while other sources suggest slightly more (783 000). This is interesting compared with estimates for 10-16 thousand active artefact hunters in the UK. I suppose the key issue is whether the depiction of the heroes as social inadequate nerds is doing artefact hunting many favours or not.

Art sellers benefiting from war looting, experts say

"One needs to be very clear, this market is soaked in blood"
Michael Muller-Karpe

DW: Art sellers benefiting from war looting, experts say There are fears that global art sellers may be profiting from the looting of archaeological sites in war zones.

DW video here
This is a summary of the Film: "Plundered Heritage" which I discussed yesterday. It features an auction house in Munich which refused to comment ("many pieces are said to come from private collections, all the catalogue says about this five thousand year old miniature chariot is it comes from the near east"). No doubt the antiquities traders associations will be issuing their answer to this, maybe a behind-the-scenes video showing where the antiquities they sell in Munich and elsewhere really come from, and why they cannot be more transparent than "somewhere in the Near East at some time - don't ask". 

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Plymouth man finds 5,000-year-old settlement on Google Earth

A Plymouth treasure hunter has stunned archaeologists by locating an historic Bronze Age settlement...

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Römische Inschriften Datenbank 24

Römische Inschriften Datenbank 24
Die Idee, die hinter rid24 steht, ist die Darstellung und Präsentation von Alter Geschichte und Archäologie des Rheinlandes mit den Möglichkeiten des Mediums Internet. Grundlage  von rid24 sind die von Brigitte und Hartmut Galsterer 1975 publizierten Römischen Steininschriften aus Köln. Die technischen Entwicklungen in den letzten Jahren bergen heute fast unbegrenzte Möglichkeiten der Darstellung. Neben der Datenbank-gestützten Inschriftensuche versucht rid24 darüber hinaus, dem Besucher weitere Hintergrundinformationen und Daten zur Verf�gung zu stellen. rid24 richtet sich nicht nur an Althistoriker und Epigraphiker, sondern auch an private Sammler und überhaupt an alle an der römischen Geschichte des Landes Interessierten. rid24 steht für einen jederzeit verfügbaren (eben 24 Stunden täglich) und barrierefreien Zugang f�r den Besucher, ohne zeitliche und informative Beschr�nkungen. rid24 bietet mit dieser Art der Darstellung dem Besucher M�glichkeiten und Informationen, wie es in einem gedruckten Buch kaum darstellbar w�re. Das Portal versteht sich nicht als Alternative, sondern als Erg�nzung der Museen mit ihren naturgem�� beschr�nkten Pr�sentations- und Verkn�pfungsm�glichkeiten, und hofft, den Museen nicht nur mehr, sondern auch mit mehr Hintergrundwissen ausgestattete Besucher zu verschaffen. 

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

LOST Rewatch: Whatever the Case May Be

This episode begins with Sawyer and Kate going for a swim, and finding two corpses still in their seats from the plane, at the bottom of a lake, and with a case (hence the title) under the seat that Kate says is hers, but then admits is not. In Kate’s flashbacks, we see her involvement in a bank robbery, trying to get into safety deposit box 815. On the island, Kate recovers “personal effects” from the case, including a tiny toy plane, which Kate admits to Jack belonged to the man she killed.

At the beach, the tide comes in unnaturally, washing things out to sea, forcing people to move inland.

The previous episode ended with the discovery of the hatch. In this episode we get only hints of the efforts of Locke and Boone to get into it.

Rose tells Charlie, “It’s a fine line between denial and faith. It’s much better on my side.” Charlie breaks down and cries and says “Help me.” Rose says, “I’m not the one who can help you,” and proceeds to pray. It isn’t a set prayer, but the kind of impromptu prayer that is typical of Protestant Evangelicalism, although by no means exclusive to that tradition. Rose begins by addressing God as Heavenly Father, followed by thanksgiving, as the camera pans out and the prayer slowly becomes inaudible.

By the end of the episode, we discover that what people mistake for fate, destiny, and God may in fact be people like themselves, who have found a source of great power, and are using it either for their own benefit or in ways that they think will benefit others. And so a question worth asking is whether, in addition to all that intrigue and manipulation, there is room for prayers answered by a monotheistic God in what unfolds as well, or whether such matters are only present in some sort of obscure afterlife. How, if at all, does an afterlife change the things that Charlie and Claire and Rose and Bernard and all the others and Others went through in their lives on Earth?


David Meadows (rogueclassicism)

Sphinx Head from Amphipolis? Maybe … Maybe Not

The twittersphere was all agog yesterday as the Ministry of Culture released photos of a head found by the archaeologists which is being touted as the heads of one of the headless sphinges guarding the entrance to the tomb at Amphipolis. Here’s the offical photos released by the Ministry

Ministry of Culture Photo

Ministry of Culture Photo


Ministry of Culture Photo


Ministry of Culture Photo


Ministry of Culture Photo

Kathimerini’s coverage provides the relevant info that the ministry released

Archaeologists digging at a tomb dating to the era of Alexander the Great in ancient Amphipolis in northern Greece have found the missing head of one of the two sphinxes guarding the entrance of the grave.

According to a statement yesterday by the Culture Ministry, the head, which was found inside the tomb’s third chamber, belongs to the statue on the eastern side of the entrance.

Barring some slight damage to the nose, the head is largely intact. The head measures 60 centimeters from top to bottom. Archaeologists also found fragments of that sphinx’s wings at the same chamber.

I genuinely want this to be as described, but I see a problem. When you put this head on the sphinx at the gate, it doesn’t quite work (I know others have done this as well, but this  is my own photoshopping). If one tries to fit the head according to the ‘break’, one gets this:


… which, as can be seen, won’t fit into the niche. If one sizes the head to fit.

rehead2… the head seems disproportionately small. Here are a couple of ‘closer’ views:

rehead3 rehead4 copy


What also doesn’t quite gibe with me is that this head was apparently found inside the tomb and again the tomb robbers suggestion is coming up. The thing is, even if a tomb robber did do this, I doubt they’d carry the head some 14 metres into the tomb … they’d get it on the way out.

I think we have a head from another statue happening here … given the polos, possibly another Persephone.




The Archaeology News Network

Deinocheirus mirificusone has been recreated in 3D

A huge hump-backed 'ostrich' dinosaur, taller than a London bus and with arms eight feet (2.4 metres) long tipped with razor sharp claws, has been modelled based on Mongolia fossils. Reconstruction of Deinocheirus mirificus  [Credit: Yuong-Nam Lee (KIGAM)]Two almost complete skeletons - which included the remains of digested fish in the belly of one - have helped build an accurate picture of the lifestyle of mysterious...

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Archaeological News on Tumblr

UConn Archaeologist Discovers 17th-century Shipwreck

The Dutch ship Huis de Kreuningen went to her watery grave on March 3, 1677. But until a team led...

Thaw reveals photographer’s notebook from Captain Scott’s Antarctic hut

Notebook belonging to George Murray Levick remarkably legible after conservation work A...

Jim Davila (

Hey, another copper scroll!

ARASH ZEINI: A note on the Schøyen copper scroll. This is a bibliographic note that leads to an article by Étienne de la Vaissière. The scroll itself is a Buddhist donation inscription written in Sanskrit and "Brahmī."

For the Qumran Copper Scroll (and facsimiles of it), see here and links. Inscriptions on metal are rare, but not unknown in the ancient world. Other examples are the gold cuneiform tablet and the gold tablets in Phoenician and Etruscan. A legendary example is mentioned in the Treatise of the Vessels. And the fake metal codices are an infamous and now thoroughly debunked fake example, but some genuine ancient lead inscriptions are noted here, here, and links.

Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

MuseumNext 2015: qual'è il futuro dei musei?

museumnext2015L'edizione 2015 di MuseumNext si svolgerà a Ginevra in Svizzera dal 19 al 21 Aprile 2015. MuseumNext è la più grande conferenza europea dedicata al futuro dei musei.

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

In war against ISIL, a fine line between facts and artifacts

Jessica Holland, 'In war against ISIL, a fine line between facts and artifacts' Al Jazeera America October 22, 2014
On Sept. 22, a few hours before U.S. airstrikes began against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) targets in Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry gave a speech at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. It was the opening of an exhibition of Middle Eastern treasures dating back to the early Iron Age [...] Against this backdrop, Kerry voiced a lament that quickly became a battle cry. “We gather in the midst of one of the most tragic and most outrageous assaults on our shared heritage that perhaps any of us have seen in a lifetime,” he said to the assembled crowd. “Ancient treasures in Iraq and in Syria have now become the casualties of continuing warfare and looting. And no one group has done more to put our shared cultural heritage in the gun sights than ISIL.”[....]  He then argued that this destruction demanded action, repeating the same basic idea over and over: “How shocking and historically shameful it would be if we did nothing”; “the civilized world must take a stand”; “if you don’t stand up, we are all complicit”; “those who deny the evidence or choose excuses over action are playing with fire”; “we believe it is imperative that we act now.” Later that night, the military campaign that has now been dubbed Operation Inherent Resolve expanded into Syria with the help of with Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar but without formal congressional approval. 
Holland puts the speech into the context of other US initiatives attempting to use culture as a political tool (US collectors and lobbyists, are ya'll taking note?). She notes that Kerry's pep-talk falls into the same model as the "same foreign policy narrative that President Barack Obama has been telling, in which ISIL’s atrocities are stripped of context".
Kerry referred to these crimes as “ugly, savage, inexplicable, valueless barbarism” and not the most virulent symptom thus far of two countries that have fallen apart in a mess of poverty, infrastructure failure, corruption and opportunistic power grabs.[...] The most glaring omission of all was the looting and destruction of Iraqi cultural and archaeological sites that has been persistent and devastating ever since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
What I do not find mentioned here is any discussion of the glib claims that it is ISIL responsible for the bulk of the looted and smuggled artefacts reaching the market, while that patently is not the case, other militias and militants have been doing it too and being financed by the greed of dealers and collectors.

Antiquity Now

Bon Appetit Wednesday! An Ancient Roman Salad

This week we’re bringing you a recipe straight out of ancient Rome. The Columella Salad, named for its author, Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella, is the perfect side dish and would fit easily on any modern menu. Yet it was created … Continue reading

Dorothy King (PhDiva)

Carphone Warehouse ... Fraud

Like most people I've had so many issues with Carphone Warehouse and their debt collection agencies making threats in the past.

There was the time they switched my broadband from BT to TalkTalk without my permission.

There was the contract I ended, but they insisted they had sent me a new phone which never arrived, and which they claimed meant I had agreed to a new 18 month contract. I filed the court papers after month of harassment, and not only did I win - although I'm still waiting for the refund ... - but they admitted that they didn't check the PO box to which letters ending contracts were sent.

We're currently in another one of their harassment cases, because I returned a phone that didn't work the same day I had been pushed into buying it, and they claim that the cooling off period allowed under UK law and various other laws do not apply to them. Again, I'm pretty sure if it comes to court I'll win that one too.

But ... this is where it gets interesting.

At 9.01 am today I received a phone call from the MacKenzie Hall Group of telephone number 01563503797 from a man who would not identify himself, and insisted on speaking to Mr xxx xxx.

The interesting detail is that they were calling a spare cell phone I keep for either visitors from abroad or when a second phone is useful.

When I bought the pay as you go phone at the Carphone Warehouse concession in Selfridge's, I told the saleswoman I didn't really want to give my details because they spammed, so she told me to make up a name and I did. So the Mr xxx xxx that they asked for does not exist.

So the MacKenzie Hall Group is a debt collection agency trying to harass a completely fictional person about an equally fictional debt.

Only the Carphone Warehouse could have sold them that name and number.


Oh, and I probably should have mentioned that Mr xxx xxx was my cat. And he's been dead a while.

Jim Davila (

Mind-boggling family law in the Talmud

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: The Talmud’s Difficulty Is What Makes the Talmud ‘Talmudic’—And Unlike the Law. Daf Yomi: In rabbinic Judaism, study is not merely a pragmatic enterprise, but a religious act in itself
Complex as this situation might appear, it is child’s play compared to some of the truly mind-bending hypotheticals that the rabbis raised in this week’s reading. We have often seen in the Talmud that the rabbis devote just as much attention to extremely unlikely possibilities as to real-world scenarios. This is, indeed, one of the things that make the Talmud “Talmudic” in the pejorative sense. Why, the impatient reader might wonder, spend so much time analyzing situations that surely would never arise in real life? Yet it is crucial to remember that, in rabbinic Judaism, the study of the law is not merely a pragmatic enterprise, like going to law school today. The study of Torah is a religious act in itself. The law forms a complete and perfect logical system, and all of its ramifications are equally valuable parts of that system. In American law, one sometimes hears the maxim “hard cases make bad law”: The more unusual and complex the case, the less suitable it is to serve as a precedent. The rabbis believe just the opposite: The law is never more fascinating to them than when it is difficult.
Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

Very small very old coins

INCLUDING THE "WIDOW'S MITE": Small Change: The Tiniest Ancient Coins (Mike Markowitz, CoinWeek).
In the local coinage of first century Judea, the smallest denomination was a bronze coin called a lepton in Greek and a half prutah in Hebrew.