Maia Atlantis: Ancient World Blogs

Tom Elliott (

This feed aggregator is part of the Planet Atlantides constellation. Its current content is available in multiple webfeed formats, including Atom, RSS/RDF and RSS 1.0. The subscription list is also available in OPML and as a FOAF Roll. All content is assumed to be the intellectual property of the originators unless they indicate otherwise.

April 24, 2014

Dienekes' Anthropology Blog

More ancient Scandinavians (Skoglund, Malmström et al. 2014)

A new paper has just appeared in Science which adds new ancient Swedish hunter-gatherer samples, as well as a new Gökhem2 Swedish farmer. Much lower quality data from the same archaeological sites were studied in 2012 by much the same team, but the new study has sequenced several new Pitted Ware individuals from Ajvide, as well as a  Mesolithic Swede.

The Swedish hunter-gatherers appear to be similar to those of Lazaridis et al. (2013) in that their ancestry is a mixture of both European hunter-gatherers like LaBrana1 and ~15% of something related to MA1, which seems quite close to the 19% of ANE ancestry for the older Motala hunter-gatherer also from Sweden. The finding of Y-haplogroup I2a1 also parallels the Motala hunter-gatherers, so everything seems quite consistent with the Mesolithic Swedes being genetically very close to the Pitted Ware Neolithic ones. However, there is one difference in that the new hunter-gatherers were ancestral for SLC24A5 while the Motala one was derived (this is the "skin lightening" allele that was curiously missing in both Iberia and Luxembourg hunter-gatherers).

The authors also find that the Iceman and Gökhem2 are a mixture of Basal Eurasians and something related to hunter-gatherers. A interesting new detail is that the Swedish farmer had more of the hunter-gatherer ancestry than the Iceman (the estimated difference in their non-Basal Eurasian ancestry is 77.2-56=21.2%) which seems reasonably close to the 16% difference in the related "Atlantic_Baltic" ancestry for the previous lower-quality Gok4 farmer and the Iceman I estimated in 2012.

Finally, the authors also study the genetic diversity of the Swedish hunter-gatherers:
The Scandinavian Neolithic hunter-gatherer group had significantly lower conditional nucleotide diversity (0.181±0.0015) compared to the Scandinavian Neolithic farmer group (0.201±0.0038, Figs 3A and S9). While the specific properties of ancient DNA may still affect comparisons with sequence data from modern-day individuals, the conditional nucleotide diversity in the hunter-gatherers was also lower than in any modern-day European and a Chinese population (22) analyzed using the same approach as for the ancient groups.
It is not easy to estimate nucleotide diversity with low coverage data (because you can't tell whether a sample is heterozygous in some position if you only have a handful of reads covering it), but the authors cleverly use the fact that they have multiple individuals from the hunter-gatherer population to estimate this. The low diversity in hunter-gatherers also parallels the finding of low genetic diversity in the Luxembourgeois Mesolithic hunter-gatherer, so it does seem that hunter-gatherers in Europe were a very low diversity population, which seems reasonable for people engaging in foraging (which does not allow for growth to large population numbers) and having ancestors who endured the Ice Age in Europe.

The last few months have been extremely generous in new ancient DNA studies and I hope that more stuff is coming this year as in 2013.

UPDATE: Also important (from the Independent):
“We see clear evidence that people from hunter-gatherer groups were incorporated into farming groups as they expanded across Europe. This might be clues towards something that happens also when agriculture spread to other parts of the world,” Dr Skoglund said.

Science DOI: 10.1126/science.1253448

Genomic Diversity and Admixture Differs for Stone-Age Scandinavian Foragers and Farmers

Pontus Skoglund, Helena Malmström et al.

Prehistoric population structure associated with the transition to an agricultural lifestyle in Europe remains contentious. Population-genomic data from eleven Scandinavian Stone-Age human remains suggest that hunter-gatherers had lower genetic diversity than farmers. Despite their close geographical proximity, the genetic differentiation between the two Stone-Age groups was greater than that observed among extant European populations. Additionally, the Scandinavian Neolithic farmers exhibited a greater degree of hunter-gatherer-related admixture than that of the Tyrolean Iceman, who also originated from a farming context. In contrast, Scandinavian hunter-gatherers displayed no significant evidence of introgression from farmers. Our findings suggest that Stone-Age foraging groups were historically in low numbers, likely due to oscillating living conditions or restricted carrying-capacity, and that they were partially incorporated into expanding farming groups.


Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Open Access Publications on Persepolis from the Oriental Institute

Open Access Publications on Persepolis from the Oriental Institute

  Born Digital Publications
See linked data for Persepolis via awld.js

For an up to date list of all Oriental Institute publications available online see:

Persepolis Fortification Archive Project

Open Access Publications on Persepolis from the Oriental Institute

Open Access Publications on Persepolis from the Oriental Institute

  Born Digital Publications
See linked data for Persepolis via awld.js

For an up to date list of all Oriental Institute publications available online see:


Persian.ology: gate-keepers of (clay) dinosaur bones, the story of the discovery and recovery of the Persepolis (Parsa) administrative archives (Persepolis Fortification Archive and Persepolis Treasury Archive) in the early 1930s. (114 pages, about 62M)
By A. J. Cave, April 2014
persian.ology : gate-keepers of (clay) dinosaur bones is an informal look at the Persian Achaemenid Administrative Archives recovered from Pârsa (Persepolis), Iran, in 1930s

parts are taken from the books:

an idol-worshiper’s Guide to god-stan: a Trilogy in 7 Parts (2012)
Cyrus 0.9: Highlander (2013)
“the Road to Persiana”, persian.ology Magazine (2013)

Published in honor of the celebration of the lifelong achievements of Dr. Matthew Stolper, head of the PFA Project, Monday, 28 April 2014, at the Oriental Institute.

The smaller version (without couple of repeated sections on archives and administrative languages, about 11M) is posted here, and here.
See Also:

Tom Matrullo (Classics in Sarasota)

Anatomy of an idiot

This is a kind of thought experiment, an attempt to regard the very rich text of the Antigone from just one angle, centered on the figure of Creon. It's merely a way to discern a pattern of failed reading in the play, which one hopes will not act out the pattern it seeks to describe. There are many ways to look at this play, because there's nothing schematic about Sophocles, and the Antigone is far richer than any diagram.

In one of Antigone's exchanges with Creon, there's this:
Why then do you wait? In none of your maxims is there anything that pleases me—and may there never be! Similarly to you as well my views must be displeasing. And yet, how could I have won a nobler glory than by giving burial to my own brother? All here would admit that they approve, [505] if fear did not grip their tongues. But tyranny, blest with so much else, has the power to do and say whatever it pleases. 
You alone out of all these Thebans (Καδμείων - Cadmeians) see it that way. 
They do, too, but for you they hold their tongues.
The word for "hold" Antigone uses in her reply to Creon is ὑπίλλω -- which has a basic sense of pressing down, pushing under. It was used to describe how a dog holds its tail down between its legs.

Here it is the στόμα, the voices of the people, that Antigone says are pressed down. στόμα is also the word used for the gates of Thebes in the first ode, which are closed tight against the seven generals seeking to destroy the city.

The image of the tongue as too large (Capaneus) or as suppressed is basic to the play. We know Zeus hates big tongues. One way of looking at the structure of the play is as a series of dialogues between a series of key characters and Creon, the king and prime tongue, if you will, of the state. The sequence is this - including the ode that ends the scene with each character:
  • Guard                                         Ode: Man as deinos
  • Antigone                                    "Fortunate they" 
  • Haemon                                     "Love unconquered in fight"
  • Teiresias                                     Ode to Bacchus 
The speakers try to communicate with Creon, to convey that he has erred. Though they are relaying entirely different arguments, Creon's response in each case is the same. Sensing vulgar conspiracies everywhere, he crudely insults each interlocutor. The guard is a slave to bribes, Antigone is lost in hubris; Haemon is enslaved to a woman, Teiresias is governed by greed. Each time Creon fails to see his hamartia, his error.

At the risk of seeming too schematic we can briefly consider how each of the four speakers relates to the "crime" that Creon is bent on punishing.

The guard is the one whose eye sees, whose hand arrests. Antigone, the culprit, grounds her justification in a duty to honor the ancient laws and claims of blood. Haemon, like an attorney or adviser, invokes wisdom to persuade his father to yield. Teiresias, who lived through seven generations of Thebans, and whose guidance proved true to Oedipus as it will to Creon, speaks of signs in things that point to something gravely awry. The altars, in fact, are polluted with meat torn from Polyneices' dead body.

The types of characters are not unlike those in a detective story. The police apprehend the villain, the villain is grilled, has his day in court, witnesses testify, a judge sentences him.

If we somewhat schematically look at the characters in terms of the modes of information they bring to the judgment, we find:
  • Eye            senses                present         Guard       Ode to Man
  • Heart         emotion              past              Antigone   "Fortunate they"
  • Mind         common sense     reflection      Haemon    "Love unconquered"
  • Prophecy   reading signs       future           Teiresias    Ode to Bacchus
Each speaker taps into a different form of knowledge -- sensory, intuitive, rational, prophetic. Indeed, they follow the time-honored epistemological pattern by which the mind arrives at truth by moving from the external portals of the senses inward to the powers of the mind and soul.

In series, the dialogues offer a harmonious manifold of perceptions, feelings, reasoning, and insight that puts in question the official legal decree of the king. In a way, Antigone is analogous to Oedipus Tyrannus. There is a mysterious crime, there are clues. The king/detective interrogates witnesses and gathers testimony, drawing the same errant conclusion each time. At the root of the crime, the royal judge in the end finds himself. Oedipus literally finds himself, while Creon is unable to bend, to listen, to yield. His decree, the speech act of the lawmaker's big tongue, usurps all else. It lies at the root of every bad thing that follows.

This deafness to the signs before one, a separateness from the Other, and the repetition of the same thing again and again, are familiar ingredients of humor. In ancient comedy one often finds an old man, the senex, who is proud, foolish, hearing impaired, and the butt of much of the humor of the piece. Looked at one way, Creon has all the trappings of the senex, imprisoned in idiocy (ἴδιος).

Yet with his royal status, Creon has the power to degrade the Other, to make anyone something less than human. Doglike. ὑπίλλω.

Yet the larger scope of the play -- its meditations on man and on the degradations of abusive power; its comprehensive portrayal of three women, and its vision of the precarious dignity of human being -- doesn't teeter on the edge of the comic. The fates of Antigone, Haemon, and Eurydice are heavy indeed. In the heightened, extraordinary language of its choral odes, Antigone is all gravitas. But Creon? If he's not a comical senex, does that mean he's a tragic figure? Worth pondering.

ζεύχθη δ᾽ ὀξύχολος παῖς  Δρύαντος
Ἠδωνῶν βασιλεύςκερτομίοις ὀργαῖς 
ἐκ Διονύσου πετρώδει κατάφαρκτος ἐν δεσμῷ
οὕτω τᾶς μανίας δεινὸν ἀποστάζει 
960ἀνθηρόν τε μένος.
955 And Dryas's son, the Edonian king swift to rage, was tamed in recompense for his heart-cutting insults, when, by the will of Dionysus, he was encased in rocky bonds. There the fierce, 
[δεινὸν], blooming force of his madness trickled away.

ArcheoNet BE

They shoot horses, don’t they?

In het recentste nummer van het tijdschrift ‘M&L – Monumenten, Landschappen & Archeologie’ (jaargang 33, nr. 2) is een interessante bijdrage opgenomen over skeletten van paarden en muildieren als erfgoed uit de Groote Oorlog. De inzet van paarden en muildieren tijdens WO I is historisch bekend, maar tot nu toe was er weinig aandacht voor archeologische opgravingen van de skeletten ervan. Anton Ervynck en An Lentacker documenteerden zorgvuldig de recente vondsten en reconstrueerden de weinig te benijden taken van ‘s mensen beste vriend en zijn lotgenoot.

Het onderzoek van deze archeologische botresten levert niet enkel informatie over het lot van dieren in oorlogstijd, maar eveneens over wat het betekende een mens te zijn in deze gruwelijke periode.

Dit nummer van ‘M&L’ biedt ook een bijdrage over de voorpost Drie Grachten in het inundatiegebied van het Ieperleekanaal. Drie Grachten, een gehucht op de samenvloeiing van drie waterlopen, was in WO I een belangrijke fel bevochten voorpost en nu een verstilde plaats met de heropgebouwde gelijknamige herberg. Thomas Van Driessche reconstrueerde de oorlogsgeschiedenis van deze strategisch belangrijke plaats, waar zelfs de tot de verbeelding sprekende zoeaven een rol speelden.

Een derde artikel is gewijd aan de vondst en conservatie van 19de-eeuwse muurschilderingen in de pastorie van Meerhout. Deze schilderingen bleken nauwgezet geïnspireerd te zijn door 18de-eeuwse gravures van Giuseppe Vasi. Overdekt met een schier onoplosbaar vochtweringsproduct leek het blootleggen ervan even op een mission impossible maar het eindresultaat overtrof alle verwachtingen dankzij het hardnekkige volhoudingsvermogen van de ploeg. De typische schilderstijl riep bij Marjan Buyle herinneringen op aan de eerste restauratieopdracht van de toenmalige conserveringsploeg in de pastorie van Eppegem.

Een laatste artikel focust op de Zurenborgwijk in Berchem en Antwerpen, bij architectuurliefhebbers ook bekend als de Cogels-Osylei. Deze wijk verloor geleidelijk aan een deel van haar troeven door degradatie van het straatbeeld, toename van verkeershinder, verdwijnen van beeldbepalende elementen en onoordeelkundige aanpassingen aan gebouwen. Eline Daelman en Johan Veeckman stellen hiertegenover een krachtig herwaarderingsplan van de stad, die deze negatieve evolutie zou moeten ombuigen tot een positief herstel van de erfgoedwaarden van deze merkwaardige belle époque-wijk.

Zoals steeds bevat het tijdschrift ook een interessante ‘Binnenkrant’, met besprekingen van nieuwe publicaties, tentoonstellingen en studiedagen.

Praktisch: het tweemaandelijkse tijdschrift ‘M&L – Monumenten, Landschappen & Archeologie’ is een uitgave van het agentschap Onroerend Erfgoed. Een los nummer is verkrijgbaar aan 7 euro. Een jaarabonnement (6 nummers) kost 40 euro. Meer info op of bij Diane Torbeyns.

David Gill (Looting Matters)

The collecting history of PDodg

I am grateful to Paul Barford for drawing my attention to further discussion of the collecting history of PDodg. otherwise known as "The Gospel of Jesus' Wife". Last September I noted the reports that the papyrus had surfaced in "... the early 1980s indicating that Professor Gerhard Fecht from the faculty of Egyptology at the Free University in Berlin believed it to be evidence for a possible marriage of Jesus".

Owen Jarus has done a little more background work ("'Gospel of Jesus's Wife': Doubts Raised About Ancient Text", Live Science, April 22, 2014). This draws attention to the collecting history: "it was purchased, along with five other Coptic papyrus fragments, from a man named Hans-Ulrich Laukamp in November 1999 and that Laukamp had obtained it in 1963 from Potsdam in then-East Germany". It is now suggested that Laukamp did not collect antiquities, and that as a resident of (partitioned) West Berlin in 1963 he would not have been in a position to visit Potsdam.

The papyrus has been prepared for publication in HTR by Professor Karen King, the Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard. (Incidentally, the title of her chair reflects the benefaction of the republican Thomas Hollis whose collection passed into the hands of the Reverend John Disney, and was donated to the University of Cambridge by his son Dr John Disney as the Museum Disneianum.) King provides the details of the collecting history though it is not clear that the supporting documentation has been authenticated.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

AMIR: Access to Mideast and Islamic Resources

Open Access Manuscript: Shahnameh from the National Central Library (Florence)

The earliest surviving Shahnameh manuscript copy dated 614 H./1217  held by National Central Library in Florence is now available online.
You can access to it through the following post published in the Library Manuscript Department blog:<>, clicking the green button "Copia digitalizzata".

Open Access Manuscripts Library: National Central Library (Florence)

Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze

The collection of Islamic manuscripts in the National Central Library in Florence consists of 137 manuscripts in Arabic and 14 manuscripts in Persian language.
Individual titles can be identified by shelf-mark only.

Archaeology Magazine

What Gave Modern Humans the Advantage?

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL--Scientists think that epigenetic differences between modern humans and our archaic cousins may have made the difference in our survival. Epigenetics deals with how genes are turned on and off without modfying the DNA sequence. Liran Carmel, Eran Meshorer, and David Gokhman of Hebrew University, working with scientists from Germany and Spain, reconstructed the Neanderthal and Denisovan epigenomes, and compared them with the epigenome of modern humans. Science Daily reports that they found that gene activity had changed only in modern humans during our most recent evolution. Many of those changes occurred in the area of brain development, and are linked to diseases. Other changes were observed in the immune and cardiovascular systems, but the digestive system remained relatively unchanged. 

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

New Book from the Oriental Institute: Publications of the Oriental Institute, 1906-2014: Exploring the History and Civilizations of the Near East

Oriental Institute Communications (OIC), 26

Publications of the Oriental Institute, 1906-2014: Exploring the History and Civilizations of the Near East

Edited by Thomas G. Urban and Leslie Schramer

Publication of this volume commemorates the online distribution of all titles published by the Oriental Institute since its beginnings. All volumes are distributed online as Adobe Portable Document Format files (PDFs) and are available for complimentary download.
  • Oriental Institute Communications 26
  • Chicago: The Oriental Institute, 2014
  • ISBN: 978-1-61491-007-7
  • 28 pages
  • Gratis

And for an up to date list of all Oriental Institute publications available online see

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

PAS Needs Fixing?

< Andy Baines, 'Is the current PAS scheme starting to show signs of fatigue?' Wednesday, 23 April 2014 asks whether the selective recording being discussed on detecting forums, but consistently ignored or downplayed by supporters of the Scheme means that the PAS is on the verge of collapse. He says that from a detectorist's point of view, the FLOs "are not keeping to their side of the deal".
All the while there is silence from PAS and its corresponding flo about this situation, which to me says one thing only and that is that they know its going on and would rather bury their heads in the sand. Why doesn't a representative enter one of the forums or blogs and communicate about the issues that are being raised?
He challenges the PAS to set out their policy - good luck to him on that, the PAS have been singularly uncommunicative when asked these questions by archaeologists and conservation groups (like Heritage Action). Maybe the metal detectorists will get some answers.

Open Access Archaeology

Open Access Archaeology Digest #398

Your Open Access (free to read) Archaeology daily:

Fyvie Castle

Ecclesiastical Antiquities of the Isle of Man. Cathedral of St. German

Bradbourne Cross, Derbyshire

Learn more about Open Access and Archaeology at:

Archaeology Magazine

Crimea’s Looted Heritage

ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA—The Art Newspaper reports that Mikhail Piotrovsky, director of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, has brought the crisis of illegal excavations of Greek, Scythian, and Sarmatian archaeological sites in Crimea to the attention of the Russian parliament. “Crimea and Ukraine have long been on Interpol lists next to Iraq and Iran due to the pillage of treasures on their territories,” he has written. Looting, known as “black archaeology,” and smuggling artifacts to the West are big business, fueled by the economic chaos in the region after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Archaeologist Valentina Mordvintseva of the Institute of Archaeology of the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences says that the situation has improved since then, but “as long as the public does not value cultural heritage, this problem won’t be eradicated….As for the changes that might come from Crimea [joining] Russia, it’s hard to say. Problems aren’t always solved by legislation.”

ArcheoNet BE

Provincie Antwerpen organiseert infodag erfgoeddepots

Op maandag 5 mei organiseert de dienst Erfgoed van de provincie Antwerpen de eerste Provinciale Infodag Erfgoeddepots, met als thema ‘Duurzaam Delen’. De provincie kiest nadrukkelijk voor een professioneel profiel in de zorg voor roerend erfgoed. Met de infodag wil men de erfgoedsector en haar middenveld hier bij de aanvang betrekken. Toegankelijkheid, publiekswerking en onderzoek zijn belangrijk, maar het zijn de vele aspecten van behoud en beheer die aandacht, energie en inzet vragen om het erfgoed in de beste condities aan de volgende generaties te kunnen overdragen.

Tijdens een aantal infosessies werd in 2012 al een overzicht gegeven van de noden en de verwachtingen voor een kwaliteitsvol depotbeheer. Op de infodag, die plaatsvindt in Kamp C in Westerlo, zet de provincie de volgende stap worden de plannen onthuld van het regionale depotbeleid 2014-2019.

09u00 Onthaal
09u20 Introductie – Frank Herman, Teamverantwoordelijke Erfgoeddepots & Museumconsulent
09u30 Verwelkoming – Luk Lemmens, Gedeputeerde voor Cultuur
09u40 De transitie naar duurzaamheid: pleidooi voor een systeemvisie – Peter Tom Jones, Burgerlijk Ingenieur Milieukunde, Doctor in de Toegepaste Wetenschappen en Senior Onderzoeksmanager (IOF) bij de KU Leuven
10u10 De regionale regierol in het depotbeleid van de provincie Antwerpen – Joke Bungeneers, Diensthoofd Erfgoed
10u30 Vragen uit het publiek
10u40 Koffiepauze
11u00 Het erfgoeddepot op Campus Vesta – Ranst
- Roel De Ceulaer, Adviseur Erfgoeddepots – Infrastructuur
- Veerle Meul, Adviseur Erfgoeddepots – Infrastructuur & Vorming
- Charlotte Rubbens, Projectarchitect – Dienst Infrastructuur & Vastgoed
11u40 Duurzaam digitaal
- Marc Mees, Adviseur Erfgoeddepots – Registratie & Inventarisatie
- Frank Herman, Teamverantwoordelijke Erfgoeddepots & Museumconsulent
12u00 Vragen uit het publiek
12u15 Lunch
13u30 Rondleiding in Kamp C
15u00 Receptie

Praktisch: de infodag vindt plaats op maandag 5 mei in Kamp C – Provinciaal Centrum Duurzaam Bouwen en Wonen (Bedrijven- en conferentiecentrum De Basis, Zone Kamp C 2, Britselaan 20, 2260 Westerlo). Deelname aan de studiedag is gratis. Inschrijven kan tot 28 april via het online inschrijvingsformulier.
Meer info: of 03/240.64.14.

Archaeology Magazine

Sunken Steamer Located in San Francisco Bay

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA—The SS City of Chester sank on a foggy August 22, 1888, in San Francisco Bay when it was struck by Oceania, a ship carrying immigrants from Asia. Now its location has been rediscovered by a team conducting a multibeam sonar survey from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. A side-scan sonar survey confirmed that City of Chester was “sitting upright, shrouded in mud, 216 feet deep at the edge of a small undersea shoal.” Many of the passengers aboard The City of Chester were rescued after the accident by the Chinese crew of Oceanic. “Discoveries like this remind us that the waters off our shores are museums that speak to powerful events, in this case not only that tragic wreck, but to a time when racism and anger were set aside by the heroism of a crew who acted in the best traditions of the sea,” James Delgado, director of the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, told the Los Angeles Times

Sunken Steamer Located in San Francisco Bay

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA—The SS City of Chester sank on a foggy August 22, 1888, in San Francisco Bay when it was struck by Oceania, a ship carrying immigrants from Asia. Now its location has been rediscovered by a team conducting a multibeam sonar survey from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. A side-scan sonar survey confirmed that City of Chester was “sitting upright, shrouded in mud, 216 feet deep at the edge of a small undersea shoal.” Many of the passengers aboard The City of Chester were rescued after the accident by the Chinese crew of Oceanic. “Discoveries like this remind us that the waters off our shores are museums that speak to powerful events, in this case not only that tragic wreck, but to a time when racism and anger were set aside by the heroism of a crew who acted in the best traditions of the sea,” James Delgado, director of the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, told the Los Angeles Times

Ancient Peoples

Bronze statue of a philosopher on a lamp stand 27.3 cm high...

Bronze statue of a philosopher on a lamp stand

27.3 cm high and weighs 2.9 kg ( 10 3/4 and 6.4 lbs) 

Roman, Early Imperial Period, 1st century AD. 

Source: Metropolitan Museum

Ancient Art

thegetty: "Spend five minutes with this sarcophagus and you’ll...


"Spend five minutes with this sarcophagus and you’ll witness a whole night—and a passionate one at that. Zeus, somewhat put out because Selene (goddess of the moon) had fallen in love with the mortal Endymion, cast the beautiful young man into an eternal sleep. But that didn’t stop Selene from visiting her beloved every night. You can see her at the center of this sarcophagus as darkness falls, stepping off from her chariot. But as you look to the right, beyond the slumbering Endymion, the next day begins to dawn (too soon!), and the horses must rush the goddess of the moon away, until the next evening’s amorous encounter." 

Recommended viewing for slowartday from our antiquities curator, David Saunders.

To zoom in and let your “eyes” wander, click here.

Sarcophagus panel (detail), about A.D. 210, Roman. Marble, 84 1/4 in. long x 21 3/8 in. high. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Open Access Journal: エジプト学研究 - The Journal of Egyptian Studies (Ejiputogaku kenkyū)

エジプト学研究 - The Journal of Egyptian Studies (Ejiputogaku kenkyū)
ISSN: 0919-2417 
雑誌名 号数
エジプト学研究 第1号
エジプト学研究 第2号
エジプト学研究 第3号
エジプト学研究 第4号
エジプト学研究 第5号
エジプト学研究 第6号
エジプト学研究 第7号
エジプト学研究 第8号
エジプト学研究 第9号
エジプト学研究 第10号
エジプト学研究 第11号
エジプト学研究 第12号
エジプト学研究 第13号
エジプト学研究 第14号
エジプト学研究 第15号
エジプト学研究 第16号
エジプト学研究 第17号
エジプト学研究 第18号
エジプト学研究 第19号
エジプト学研究 第20号
ISSN: 2187-0772   (定価:各1,200円 PDF版は無料)
エジプト学研究第20号(2014-1)  [一括ダウンロード(39MB)]
The Journal of Egyptian Studies Vol.20, 2014

序文…吉村 作治
【調査報告】 2013年 太陽の船プロジェクト 活動報告
Report of the Activity in 2013, Project of the Solar Boat
(in Japanese with English summary)
…Hiromasa KUROKOCHI and Sakuji YOSHIMURA

エジプト ダハシュール北遺跡発掘調査報告-第19次発掘調査-
…吉村作治・矢澤 健・近藤二郎・西本真一・和田浩一郎
Preliminary Report on the Waseda University Excavations at Dahshur North: Nineteenth Season
(in Japanese with English summary)
…Sakuji YOSHIMURA, Ken YAZAWA, Jiro KONDO, Shinichi NISHIMOTO and Koichiro WADA

…近藤二郎・吉村作治・柏木裕之・河合 望・高橋寿光
Preliminary Report on the Sixth Season of the Work at al-Khokha Area in the Theban Necropolis by the Waseda University Egyptian Expedition (in Japanese with English summary)
…Jiro KONDO, Sakuji YOSHIMURA, Hiroyuki KASHIWAGI, Nozomu KAWAI and Kazumitsu TAKAHASHI

【論文】 エジプト先王朝時代の穿孔技術に関する実験考古学的研究-フリント製小型ドリルの切削能力と形状変化の観察-
An Experimental Approach to the Drilling Technology in the Predynastic Period: Cutting Capability and Reduction Patterns of Flint Micro-drills (in Japanese with English summary)
…Kazuyoshi NAGAYA

【研究ノート】 クシュの碑文を母系制として読む-即位の記録と「アララとアメン・ラーの契約」-
Reading the Kushite Texts in the Matrilineal Context: Enthronement Records and the Covenant between Alara and Amen-Re (in Japanese with English summary)
…Kumiko SAITO

Regional Variation of Stone Vessels in Predynastic Egypt (in Japanese with English summary)

オブジェクト・フリーズ(frise d'objets)と出土遺物の比較-装身具およびアミュレットを中心に-
Comparison between the frise d’objets and Burial Goods: Focused on the Ornaments and Amulets (in Japanese with English summary)

【動向】 争乱の中の大エジプト博物館建設と文化財保存修復をめぐる国際協力

【活動報告】 2013年度 早稲田大学エジプト学会活動報告 2013年 エジプト調査概要
編集後記…近藤 二郎

エジプト学研究第19号(2013-1)  [一括ダウンロード(25MB)]
The Journal of Egyptian Studies Vol.19, 2013

序文…吉村 作治
【調査報告】 2012年 太陽の船プロジェクト 活動報告
Report of the Activity in 2012, Project of the Solar Boat (in Japanese with English summary)
…Hiromasa KUROKOCHI and Sakuji YOSHIMURA

エジプト ダハシュール北遺跡発掘調査報告-第18次発掘調査-
…吉村作治・矢澤 健・近藤二郎・西本真一
Preliminary Report on the Waseda University Excavations at Dahshur North: Eighteenth Season
(in Japanese with English summary)

Report on the Conservation Work on the Wall Paintings in the Royal Tomb of Amenophis III (KV 22)
(in Japanese with English summary)

…高橋寿光・西坂朗子・阿部善也・中村彩奈・中井 泉・吉村作治
Chemical Analysis of the Pigments Used in the Wall Paintings of the Royal Tomb of Amenophis III (in Japanese with English summary
…Kazumitsu TAKAHASHI, Akiko NISHISAKA, Yoshinari ABE, Ayana NAKAMURA, Izumi NAKAI and Sakuji YOSHIMURA

Report of the Conservation of Sarcophagus Lid of Amenophis III
(in Japanese with English summary)
…Sakuji YOSHIMURA, Hiroko KARIYA, Akiko NISHISAKA, and Kazumitsu TAKAHASHI

…近藤二郎・吉村作治・柏木裕之・河合 望・高橋寿光
Preliminary Report on the Fifth Season of the Work at al-Khokha Area in the Theban Necropolis by the Waseda University Egyptian Expedition (in Japanese with English summary)

…Jiro KONDO, Sakuji YOSHIMURA, Hiroyuki KASHIWAGI, Nozomu KAWAI and Kazumitsu TAKAHASHI

Excavating Settlement site in the era of Ancient Egyptian State Formation: Recent Excavations at HK11C, Hierakonpolis
(in Japanese with English summary)
…Masahiro BABA

【論文・研究ノート】 ナイル川下流域における石製容器の出現と展開に関する一考察-模倣と技術からみたその系譜-
Some Remarks on the early development of the Stone Vessels in the Nile Valley
(in Japanese with English summary)

【卒業論文概要】 ナイル川下流域における石製容器からみた初期国家形成の様相 -先王朝時代から第1王朝時代を対象として-


【活動報告】 2012年度 早稲田大学エジプト学会活動報告 2012年 エジプト調査概要
編集後記…近藤 二郎

エジプト学研究第18号(2012-1)  [一括ダウンロード(9.7MB)]
The Journal of Egyptian Studies Vol.18, 2012

序文…吉村 作治
【調査報告】 第4次ルクソール西岸アル=コーカ地区調査概報
…近藤二郎・吉村作治・菊地敬夫・柏木裕之・河合 望・西坂朗子・高橋寿光
Preliminary Report on the Fourth Season of the Work at al-Khokha Area in the Theban Necropolis
by the Waseda University Egyptian Expedition (in Japanese with English summary)

エジプト ダハシュール北遺跡発掘調査報告-第16次・第17次発掘調査-
…吉村作治・矢澤 健・近藤二郎・馬場匡浩・西本真一・柏木裕之・秋山淑子
Preliminary Report on the Waseda University Excavations at Dahshur North:
Sixteenth and Seventeenth Seasons (in Japanese with English summary)

Report of the Activity in 2011, Project of the Solar Boat (in Japanese with English summary)

【論文・研究ノート】 両面加工石器製作の生産体制について ―ヒエラコンポリス遺跡エリート墓地出土資料の分析から―
Bifacial Flint Production Groups in the Predynastic Egypt:
Analysis of finds from Elite Cemetery at Hierakonpolis (in Japanese with English summary)

【卒業論文概要】 岩窟墓の形態変化とアマルナ時代の影響

【活動報告】 2011年度 早稲田大学エジプト学会活動報告 2011年 エジプト調査概要
編集後記…近藤 二郎
And see also

Thibaut Castelli (Spartokos a Lu)

Rapports de fouilles de Chersonèse pour 1935-1936

Belov G. D.  (2012): Отчет о раскопках Херсонеса за 1935-36 гг./ Otchet o raskopkah Hersonesa za 1935-36 gg., [Rapports de fouilles de Chersonèse pour 1935-1936]

C’est une réédition des rapports de fouilles originaux concernant les fouilles de 135-1936. L’ouvrage est composé de deux parties, une par an, chacune d’entre elle abordant dans l’ordre chronologique les différentes périodes connues par la cité.

Le sommaire

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

New from the Oriental Institute: Chicago Demotic Dictionary S

Chicago Demotic Dictionary S
CDD S. The Demotic Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, Letter S. Words beginning with the letter S comprise the final letter of the CDD to be published. Kindly note that the final forms of the CDD letter files are being prepared for in print and online publication, along with supporting files (bibliography, text information, and number, month, and day words). The letter S occurs between the letters H and Sh (H with underline and Sh). I see that the letter S needs to be added under the Demotic characters for the letter S.

Open Access Monograph Series: Oriental Institute Communications (OIC)

Oriental Institute Communications (OIC)

For an up to date list of all Oriental Institute publications available online see:

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Genomic diversity and admixture differs for Stone-Age Scandinavian foragers and farmers

An international team led by researchers at Uppsala University and Stockholm University reports a breakthrough on understanding the demographic history of Stone-Age humans. A genomic analysis of eleven Stone-Age human remains from Scandinavia revealed that expanding Stone-age farmers assimilated local hunter-gatherers and that the hunter-gatherers were historically in lower numbers than the farmers. The study is published today, ahead of print, in the journal Science.

The transition between a hunting-gathering lifestyle and a farming lifestyle has been debated for a century. As scientists learned to work with DNA from ancient human material, a complete new way to learn about the people in that period opened up. But even so, prehistoric population structure associated with the transition to an agricultural lifestyle in Europe remains poorly understood. Read more.

Ancient Peoples

Copper alloy box for snake mummy  11.6 cm high (4 9/16...

Copper alloy box for snake mummy 

11.6 cm high (4 9/16 inch.) 

Egyptian, Late Period (?)- Ptolemaic Period (?), 664 - 30 BC. 

Source: Metropolitan Museum

American Philological Association

2014 Zeph Stewart Award Winners

The APA has awarded its first Zeph Stewart Latin Teacher Training Awards.  Four students currently enrolled in courses leading to their certification as Latin teachers will receive grants that will offset a portion of their tuition payments.  To fund this program the Association uses income derived from contributions from the Friends of Zeph Stewart and matching gifts from the National Endowment for the Humanities to the Research and Teaching Endowment established by its Gateway Campaign for Classics in the 21st Century.  Professor Stewart taught at Harvard for several decades, served the A

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Missing Link? Mississippi Floods, and a Great City Disappears

The mysterious abandonment of one of North America’s first big cities may be linked to a massive Mississippi River flood 1,800 years ago, a new study finds.

In the bottom of an oxbow lake next to Cahokia, Ill., which was the most powerful and populous city north of Mexico in A.D. 1200, lie the buried remains of a flood that likely destroyed the crops and houses of more than 15,000 people. Researchers investigating pollen records of Cahokia’s farming and deforestation discovered distinctive evidence of the flood: a silty layer 7.5 inches (19 centimeters) thick. The silt is dated to A.D. 1200, plus or minus 80 years, said Samuel Munoz, lead study author and a geographer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Read more.

Mary Harrsch (Passionate About History)

Replica tomb of King Tut opens in Luxor while traveling reproduction opens in Kansas City

A history resource article by Mary Harrsch © 2014
Replica of King Tutankhamun's Mummy Case at th...
Replica of King Tutankhamun's Mummy Case at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum (Photo credit: Mary Harrsch © 2006)

I see that the facimile of King Tutankhamun's tomb has been completed in Luxor and will be officially opened to the public on May 1, 2014:

"The exact facsimile of the Tomb of Tutankhamun has been installed underground in a building next to Carter’s House, at the entrance to the Valley of the Kings and is due to be officially opened on 30th April 2014. The public opening will be 1st May 2014.

The facsimile, made by Factum Arte, Madrid is the most accurate large-scale facsimile to be made to date. This is the culmination of many years work and is an important milestone in the approach to responsible heritage management and the use of advanced technology in the promotion of sustainable tourism.

It has been made with the full support of the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism, the Minister of State for Antiquities and with the backing of the European Union. The facsimile is a gift to the people of Egypt from Factum Foundation. It is housed in an underground building designed by the Tarek Waly Centre: Heritage and Architecture, Cairo.

The work has involved the development of advanced 3D technologies for recording the tombs and
perfecting the method to replicate them. It is the first stage of a larger project that involves the
creation of facsimiles of the Tombs of Seti I and Nefertari – both currently closed to the general
public." - Factum Foundation for Digital Technology in Conservation

Although I always prefer to see original artifacts and historical sites when I can, I certainly understand the need for such reproductions.  I wish there had been a reproduction of  the Grotte de Niaux available when I tried to visit it last spring on my trip to southern France.  The Grotte de Niaux is billed as the last prehistoric cave with cave art that is open to the public.  But it really isn't "open" to the public either.  You must attempt to book a reservation days ahead and it will only be granted if French schools don't already have it booked up.

Here's an excerpt from My Trip Journal about my attempts to see the Grotte de Niaux while visiting southern France in May 2013:

"We found the Museum of Prehistoric Art first which looked fascinating but my traveling companions didn't want to spend time there so regretfully I can't describe its exhibits. We checked the map then continued on to the road pointing to the cave. As we turned off, the road became narrower and narrower and climbed higher and higher until we were clinging to the sheer rock face of a cliff on one side with a drop off of several thousand feet on the other. The views were spectacular but really made your heart pound! We finally turned a sharp corner and found a huge parking area where a big tour bus sat parked. I couldn't believe that bus had actually traversed the road we had just climbed! 
Reproduction of a prehistoric cave painting of a horse.  Photographed at
the San Diego Museum of Man by Mary Harrsch © 2006
 Unfortunately, we learned that entry to the cave was restricted to no more than 20 people at a time to minimize the damage to the paintings from human respiration and today all entries were booked up by school groups. What a disappointment! I had read in the guide book about the 20 person limit per group and the recommendation to obtain an entry ticket and time before going up there but we thought it was only a recommendation. Believe me, it is a requirement!! Furthermore, if you want a tour in English there is only one each day at 1 p.m.  
Although I have seen beautiful reproductions of cave paintings at the Museum of Man in San Diego, I would have loved to have seen the actual paintings in situ. Niaux is said to have paintings of horses, bison and prehistoric ibex from the Magdalénien era."

I may never have the opportunity to visit southern France again so this experience was particularly discouraging.  There may have been a reproduction of the caves at the Museum of Prehistoric Art if I could have convinced my traveling companions to visit it.  At least I would have had my memories of it rather than a hair-raising climb to a site where we were refused admission.

Reproduction of rock cut tombs near Beni Hasan, Egypt built from 2100 to 1100 BCE at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose, California.  Photographed by Mary Harrsch © 2006
For those of you who won't be traveling to Egypt anytime soon, you can see a remarkable reproduction of rock cut tombs near Beni Hasan, Egypt built from 2100 to 1100 BCE at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose, California. (You can view my other images of the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum here.)

There is also a reproduction of Tutankhamun's Tomb and artifacts now on display at Union Station in Kansas City, MO.  From Kansas City, the exhibit will move to The San Diego Natural History Museum where it will be on display from October 11, 2014 - April 26, 2015.  I hope to catch the exhibit in Kansas City when I drive to the east coast to watch my oldest grandson graduate from high school in June. Yep, I'm a grand-mummy!

Related articles
Enhanced by Zemanta

BiblePlaces Blog

Pictorial Library New Features: Maps (Part 2)

(Post by A.D. Riddle)

Two days ago, we highlighted the brand-new maps which are included in the revised Pictorial Library of Bible Lands. Today, we will illustrate some of the steps involved in creating the maps.

The key to making a map is layers. One layer contains all the dots and names of sites; another layer includes rivers and wadis; the terrain is yet another layer; and so forth. Each of these layers of data has first to be created or obtained from somewhere, and then they are compiled into a map.

The base maps are created from a DEM, or digital elevation model. A DEM is like a digital photograph from your camera, except each pixel records an elevation. (In this case, the DEMs come from NASA.) From this one DEM, two separate images are generated: one image which shows a continuous color gradation from dark-to-light (showing elevation change), and a second image which shows "hillshading," that is, the shadows that would be cast if the sun were in a particular position.

DEM of the Balkan Peninsula with elevation shown as
a continuous progression from dark to light colors.

Hillshading effect applied to the DEM of the Balkan Peninsula.

The first image was colorized according to the scheme used for the Pictorial Library maps. Then, the sea was colored blue.

Grayscale hypsometric tint replaced with color hypsometric tint.

Colorized sea with coastal "glow."

Finally, these two images were blended into one image to complete the base map.

 Hypsometric tint and Hillshade blended.

After the base map is completed, it remains to add all the streams, lakes, sites, and other lines and dots that make up the map. The linework and dots began by looking like this.

Linework and dots to be added to the map.

Linework and dots overlaid on the base map.

The final step is to "clean up" all the lines and dots and add name labels. The linework is given the right colors, widths and sizes, and any unnecessary elements are removed. The final map comes out like this.


The Jerusalem maps are special. The base map that was used comes from the Ordnance Survey of Jerusalem, by Sir Charles Wilson. The map was scanned, and then colorized by Bill Schlegel. We added the pools, lines and labels.

The Missing Map
As a final note, when the revised Pictorial Library of Bible Lands was first released, we were not able to include a map of the island of Patmos, because the resolution of the NASA data was too coarse--the island is simply too small. Here is what it would have looked like.

 Ugly map of Patmos (not in PLBL) using NASA SRTM data.
Pixel resolution is 3-arc seconds, i.e. each pixel covers an area 90 meters by 90 meters.

Since then, we have obtained higher resolution DEMs from NASA (via the Oriental Institute's CAMEL Lab). The resultant map looks much better and now is fit to be included in the PowerPoint for Patmos, in Volume 12 "The Greek Islands" of the Pictorial Library.

Handsome map of Patmos using NASA ASTER GDEM data.
Pixel resolution is 30 meters.

In our next post, we will highlight another brand-new feature which was added in the revised edition of Pictorial Library of Bible Lands. As with the maps, it makes the thousands of photographs in the collection more accessible and enhances their usability.

Water System and Tunnel at Khirbet Balama (Ibleam)

(Post by A.D. Riddle)

The site of Khirbet Bal'ama (or Belameh) is identified with ancient Ibleam, mentioned in the account of Jehu's coup d'état (2 Kings 9:27) as well as in Thutmosis III's topographical list at Karnak. Khirbet Bal'ama is located on the southern outskirts of Jenin, in the West Bank. The ancient ruins occupy some 9 hectares (22 acres) on top of a 160-foot-high (50 m), natural limestone hill. A walled town existed in the Early Bronze, Middle Bronze, end of Late Bronze/early Iron I, and possibly Iron II Ages.

 Khirbet Bal'ama from east.

The main spring was located at the northeast foot of the hill. Here, early explorers visited the entrance to a water system, though because of bats and debris/wash only a small part of a tunnel could be accessed. About the first 100 feet (30 m) of the tunnel were described in great detail by Gottlieb Schumacher in 1910, and it was excavated in 1973 on a small-scale by Z. Yeivin. The main excavation of the tunnel took place in 1996 and 1997 under the direction of Hamdan Taha. (Excavations were also conducted on top of the hill, but publication is still forthcoming.) The location of the tunnel is marked in green on this site plan.

Site plan of Khirbet Bal'ama. (Taha and van der Kooij 2007: 15)

What raised my interest in this were reports the last two years of the water system outside Al-Walaja, near Bethlehem. In three seasons, the excavators at Khirbet Bal'ama cleared a total of 380 feet (115 m) of tunnel, but since they did not reach a shaft-entrance at the top of the hill, they suspect a long section of tunnel remains to be explored. Of the tunnel sections which were excavated, archaeologists discovered three entrances to the tunnel, the lowest of which provides access to the cistern/spring of Bir es-Sinjil (or Sinjib). The photo below shows the lowest entrance. The stairs with metal handrails on the right lead up to the second entrance.

Lowest tunnel entrance at the cistern/spring of Bir es-Sinjil.

The tunnel was apparently constructed in the Iron Age, though this is based largely on inference rather than clear, direct evidence. It was secondarily used in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. The cistern/spring was in use all the way up to the modern period. Nearly all of the explored tunnel is rock-cut. The tunnel has a parabolic ceiling between 10 and 16 feet high (3-5 m), and there are 57 rock-cut steps and lamp niches in the walls. The plan below shows the three entrances, steps, and slope of the tunnel. The three excavated entrances are approximately equidistant from one another, with about 100 feet (30 m) of tunnel between them.

Khirbet Bal'ama tunnel plan and section. (Taha and van der Kooij 2007: 18)

I look forward to publication of the excavations conducted on top of hill, and hope for future work to be carried out on the tunnel and the site. The main publication of the tunnel was very difficult for me to locate in the U.S.:

Taha, Hamdan and Gerrit van der Kooij.
2007  The Water Tunnel System at Khirbet Bal'ama. Khirbet Bal'ama Archaeological Project Report of the 1996–2000 Excavations and Surveys, volume II. Ramallah: Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Department of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage.

A perhaps more-accessible report can be found in:

Taha, Hamdan.
2000  “Excavation of the Water Tunnel at Khirbet Belameh, 1996-1997.” Pages 1587–1613 in Proceedings of the First International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East, Rome, May 18th-23rd 1998. Ed. P. Matthiae and E. Enea, Alessandra. Rome: Università degli studi di Roma "La Sapienza," Dipartimento di scienze storiche, archeologiche e antropologiche dell'antichità.

American Philological Association

Virginia Tech Recognizes APA Members

Virginia Tech has recognized three APA members for their service to the university.  Terry Papillon, Professor of classics and Director of the University Honors Program, has received the university's 2014 Provost’s Award for Excellence in AdvisingAndrew Becker, Associate Professor of Latin and Ancient Greek Languages, Literatures, and Cultures in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, and Trudy Harrington Becker, Senio

Ancient Peoples

Gold and copper spiral  This piece of jewellery is a gold and...

Gold and copper spiral 

This piece of jewellery is a gold and copper alloy in the shape of a lion or griffin with a spiked tail at the end. 3.7cm high. 

Greek, Classical period, 350 BC. 

Source: Metropolitan Museum

American Philological Association

APA Member Wins Guggenheim

Haun Saussy, University of Chicago, has received a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation for his project Translation as Citation, or Zhuangzi Inside Out.

AMIR: Access to Mideast and Islamic Resources

Open Access Ebooks: Getty Publications Virtual Library

New Virtual Library Offers over 250 Art Books for Free Download - See more at:
New Virtual Library Offers over 250 Art Books for Free Download - See more at:
the Virtual Library: An open, online repository of more than 250 Getty publications from our 45-year publishing history, available as high-quality scans to read online, or to download in their entirety, for free. - See more at:
the Virtual Library: An open, online repository of more than 250 Getty publications from our 45-year publishing history, available as high-quality scans to read online, or to download in their entirety, for free. - See more at:

Getty Publications Virtual Library is an open, online repository of more than 250 Getty publications from our 45-year publishing history, available as high-quality scans to read online, or to download in their entirety.

The most recent publications on subjects of interest to AMIR readers:

The Ardabil Carpets
New Virtual Library Offers over 250 Art Books for Free Download - See more at:
Rexford Stead
50 pages
PDF file size: 11.9 MB

Book Arts of Isfahan: Diversity and Identity in Seventeenth-Century Persia
Alice Taylor
100 pages
PDF file size: 8.76 MB

Mounted Oriental Porcelain in the J. Paul Getty Museum
Gillian Wilson, with an introduction by Sir Francis Watson
2000128 pages
PDF file size: 20.6 MB

Mounted Oriental Porcelain in the J. Paul Getty Museum
Sr. Francis Watson, Gillian Wilson, Anthony Derham
104 pages
PDF file size: 13.6 MB

Antiquity Now

It’s National Poetry Month! Ancient Poetry and the Created Self: From Early Epics to Afghan Women’s Landays

Throughout time, poetry has been one of the most evocative of art forms.  From ritual chanting and epic histories to love sonnets and modern free verse, poetry has represented the essence of what it is to be human.  Since April … Continue reading

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Bulgaria seizes suspected archaeological artefacts

Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry said on April 24 that police seized several items suspected to be archaeological artefacts in the town of Dupnitsa, about 60km south of capital city Sofia.

The items seized by police were a large ring with a lion’s head mounting, a pair of identical earrings, a necklace and a cup in the shape of a ram’s head.

The police have asked for an expert appraisal, to determine the exact material that the items are made of and whether the items are genuine archaeological artefacts.

Initial assessments pointed that the items were crafted in the early Hellenistic style, which would date them – if genuine – as fourth or third century BCE. Read more.

The 2,000-Year-Old Artifact Uncovered in Jerusalem

An archaeologist with Israel’s Antiquities Authority believes his team has uncovered a metal chisel that may have been used in the construction of the Second Temple, Israeli media are reporting, describing the finding as “extraordinary” and “astonishing.”

The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is considered to be the most holy site in Judaism, which stands alongside the Western Wall — that is, the remaining structure of the Second Temple.

“It is a 15 cm [6 inches] long ancient chisel. For the first time, after 2,000 years, we are in the possession of a work tool used by the builders who built the Kotel, the Western Wall,” said Eli Shukron who heads the archaeological dig just south of the Western Wall. Read more.

Bloody souvenir not from decapitated French king: DNA

Two centuries after the French people beheaded King Louis XVI and dipped their handkerchiefs in his blood, DNA analysis has thrown new doubt on the authenticity of one such rag kept as a morbid souvenir.

The contents of an ornately-decorated gourd alleged to hold traces of the king’s dried blood has long been the subject of scientific disagreement, with tests throwing up contradictory results.

On Thursday, a team from Europe and the United States said they had sequenced the full genome of the DNA in the squash, and found it was unlikely to be from someone tall or blue-eyed—both features ascribed to the 18th century monarch. Read more.

American Philological Association

Papers from 2014 Presidential Panel

We have posted texts of the talks given at the Presidential Panel organized by Denis Feeney in Chicago.  The title of the Panel was What Is the Future of Liberal Arts Education?.  We are grateful to Teresa Sullivan, President of the University of Virginia, and to APA members Bob Connor and Peter Struck for providing their texts.

Peter Tompa (Cultural Property Observer)

Who Are the Real Cultural Racketeers?

Colleagues of former Egyptian Antiquities Pharaoh Zahi Hawass have charged him with amassing $14 million in ill-gotten gains in US Banks. 

Presumably, US Prosecutors, who are said to be investigating National Geographic, a former member of the International Coalition to Support the Protection of Egyptian Antiquities, for bribery in an exclusive TV access for cash scheme will get to the bottom of all this.  But given current realities, one suspects any indictments will be delayed until well after the pre-judged MOU with Egypt is announced.

All this does, however, raise an important question that should be discussed whatever the results of these particular investigations.

Is it possible that some of the biggest "cultural racketeers" the Antiquities Coalition say exist are in fact associated with the Egyptian Government itself?   And, if so, does it follow that a MOU with Egypt may only foster yet more corruption?

Bill Caraher (The New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World)

Digging E.T. Starts in El Paso

I love a bad plan.

Our journey to excavate the cache of discarded E.T. Atari cartridges began on a rainy, Wednesday afternoon in Fargo… 

It was an afternoon ripped from the pages of a dimestore noire thriller by Hammett or Chandler. We caught the 5:45 to Chi-town and then the 9:20 to El Paso. 

It was after midnight (makes it sound more dramatic, right?) when Bret Weber and I landed in El Paso and spent the night in a seedy airport hotel (it was actually quite nice). We’re not sure why where here in El Paso (actually, it’s the closest airport to our final destination in Alamogordo), but we know where to look (because we read Raiford Guins’s fine book on the afterlife of video games.)

There are three addresses associated with Atari here and on our way West, we’ll stop at them and see what there is to see and take some photographs. Then we’ll head west into the desert, to see what it has for us. 

Depending on our schedule, any limits that the producers place on our media output, and what we do, I’ll have updates here.

For updates in the social medias follow #DiggingET.

Here’s some coverage in my local daily.

Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents

Epigraphy Workshops Trinity Term 2014

Oxford Epigraphy Workshop, Trinity Term 2014

All meetings at 1.00 in the First Floor Seminar room, Ioannou Centre, 66 St Giles

Monday, May 5: J.- C. Decourt ‘Une nouvelle lex sacra dans la région de Larissa (Thessalie)’.

Monday, May 12: tba – offers welcome

Monday, May 19: Daniele Miano, ‘Portable salvation in the fourth century BC: on bronze strigils marked in Greek from central Italy and Tyrrhenian islands’

Monday, May 26: Chris Faraone, ‘Writing Greek amulets’.

Monday June 9, Pierre Fröhlich, ‘New Inscriptions from Euromos’.

Friday, June 13 (n.b. unusual day!): Massimo Nafissi, ‘The new Iasian momument for the Hecatomnid basileis and its dedicatory epigram’.

All welcome!

Penn Museum Blog

Archives Photo of the Week: Penn Relays


1767. [Diskobolos of Myron.]
Penn Museum Image #166422

April 24th marks the start of the 2014 Penn Relays. For those unfamiliar, the Penn Relays is the oldest and largest track and field event in the United States. The event is held annually at Franklin Field, which is directly across from the Penn Museum. The archives is one of the wings closest to the field, so we constantly hear the roar of the crowd over the entirety of the relays. Personally, I like to think that they’re cheering on our processing and cataloging.

In honor of the relays, this week’s image of the week is of the Diskobolos of Myron. This photograph is an albumen print taken by Giorgio Sommer. The Penn Museum Archives currently has a selection of Sommer prints on display in the archives hallway, particularly photographs from Pompeii. So while you’re visiting for the Penn Relays this weekend, stop in at the Penn Museum and see some beautiful historic prints, too!

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Introduction to Greek and Latin epigraphy: an absolute beginners' guide

Introduction to Greek and Latin epigraphy: an absolute beginners' guide
Where to start? *
Bibliographical guide: *
Handbooks and general introductions to epigraphy: *
The Organization of the field *
Publication: *
Collections and corpora *
Thematic collections: *
Greek and Latin corpora: *
Greek corpora *
The Greek world of Asia and Africa: *
Latin corpora: *
Small collections: *
Latin inscriptions *
Greek inscriptions: *
Heuristics *
Keeping up-to-date with Greek inscriptions: *
Keeping up-to-date with Roman inscriptions (Greek and Latin): *
Epigraphy and IT. *
Greek and Latin texts *
Imaging Projects *
Other Projects and useful websites *
Some technical information *
Critical signs: *
Latin abbreviations: *
Greek numerals: *
Modern abbreviations for epigraphical publications: *
Appendix1 a table of Greek numerals *
Appendix 2: Critical signs: Leiden system plus additions *

Open Access Journal: ALMA (Archivum Latinitatis Medii Aevi)

[First posted in AWOL 25 January 2010. Updated 24 April 2014]

ALMA (Archivum Latinitatis Medii Aevi)
ISSN: 1376-7456
Revue en Sciences Humaines et Sociales lancée en 1924, en complément du dictionnaire Novum Glossarium Mediae Latinitatis et actuellement publiée par la Section de lexicographie latine de l'Institut de Recherche et d'Histoire des Textes (CNRS), reprenant les missions du Comité du Cange. Celle-ci est placée sous l'égide de l'Union Académique Internationale représentée par l'Académie des Incriptions et Belles-Lettres avec le concours du CNRS et de l'Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes.
Elle a fait paraître depuis sa création 67 volumes et couvre essentiellement le domaine de la lexicographie latine ainsi que les instruments de la vie intellectuelle au Moyen Age (gloses, commentaires...).

Tous les articles, jusqu'en 1996, sont en libre accès sous format PDF .

Végh Zsuzsanna and Simon Zsolt (Agyagtábla, papirusz)

Könyvajánló (egyiptológia)

Ludwig D. Morenz: Anfänge der ägyptischen Kunst. Eine problemgeschichtliche Einführung in ägyptologische Bild-Anthropologie, OBO 264

Walter F. Reineke: Gedanken und Materialien zur Frühgeschichte der Mathematik in Ägypten.Internet-Beiträge zur Ägyptologie und Sudanarchäologie XVI

Andréas Stauder, The Earlier Egyptian Passive: Voice and Perspective. LingAeg StudMon 14. Widmaier Verlag

Joshua R. Trampier: Landscape Archaeology of the Western Nile Delta. Lockwood Press, 2014. 

Penelope Wilson, Gregory Gilbert és Geoffrey Tassie: Sais II: The Prehistoric Period at Sa el-Hagar. EES Excavation Memoir 107

Noel Tan (The Southeast Asian Archaeology Newsblog)

Myanmar asks for India’s help in translating King Sawlu inscription

Myanmar requests India’s assistance for translating a Bagan-period inscription discovered last year that dates to the reign of King Sawlu.

Stone inscription found in Myittha, Eleven Myanmar 20131213

Stone inscription found in Myittha, Eleven Myanmar 20131213

Set in stone: Myanmar asks for help decoding tablet
Myanmar Times, 24 April 2014

The Ministry of Culture has requested the help of Indian archaeologists to translate a recently discovered stone inscription that they believe is the oldest so far found in Myanmar.

U Kyaw Oo Lwin, director general of the ministry’s Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library, said local experts have already deciphered around 60 percent of the tablet, which was found in Paytaw Monastery in Mandalay Region’s Myittha township in November 2013.

The inscription includes at least four languages, of which epigraphists have deciphered all of the Mon and Pali text and about 10 percent of the Pyu characters. A copy of text in the Nagari writing system used in northern India and Nepal has been sent to the Archaeological Survey of India for deciphering, U Kyaw Oo Lwin said.

Full story here.

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

TL; DR Wikipedia

Via 22 Words, I learned of the existence of TL; DR Wikipedia, which condenses Wikipedia entires to short, humorous explanations. Some examples follow below. What other religion-related ones can you come up with?



Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (TLG®) Updates

New Byzantine texts were added to the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae on 22 April 2014
0082 APOLLONIUS DYSCOLUS Gramm. (2 works)
2042 ORIGENES Theol. (1 work)
2873 EUSTRATIUS Presbyter Scr. Eccl. (1 work)
2921 THEODORUS Spudaeus Scr. Eccl. (1 work)
2938 GERMANUS II Scr. Eccl. (2 works)
2944 LEO VI SAPIENS Imperator Phil., Scr. Eccl. et Poeta (1 work)
3077 MICHAEL I CERULARIUS Scr. Eccl. et Theol. (1 work)
3079 Michael ATTALIATES Hist. (1 work)
3092 Nicephorus BLEMMYDES Phil. et Theol. (4 works)
3169 Joannes VI CANTACUZENUS (2 works)
3191 Theodorus METOCHITES Phil. et Polyhist. (2 works)
3197 Demetrius CYDONES Theol., Transl. et Philol. (1 work)
3213 Prochorus CYDONES Theol. et Transl. (1 work) 3
217 Nilus CABASILAS Theol. (2 works)
3248 Joannes CYPARISSIOTES Theol. (1 work)
3257 David DISHYPATUS Theol. (1 work)
3345 CALLISTUS I Patriarcha Scr. Eccl. et Orat. (3 works)
3346 Andreas CHRYSOBERGES Theol. (1 work)
4146 Maximus PLANUDES Polyhist. et Theol. (1 work)
4286 LEXICA SYNTACTICA Lexicogr. (1 work)
4288 LEXICON $AI(MWDEI=N& Lexicogr. (1 work)
4427 MARCUS Monachus Theol. (6 works)
4428 Neophytus PRODROMENUS Lexicogr., Theol. et Phil. (4 works) 4430 JACOBUS Monachus Theol. et Epist. (2 works)
4431 Georgius PELAGONIUS Theol. et Phil. (2 works)
5004 EPIMERISMI Gramm. et Schol. (1 work)

Katy Meyers (Bones Don't Lie)

Rank and Status Among Neolithic Children

There are some statuses that we are born into, they are innate to us. For example- we cannot control the status of the family that we are born into. If […]

Centre for the Study of Christian Origins

Bond and Hurtado on the National Geographic Channel

Last week, Dr Bond and Prof Hurtado appeared on the National Geographic special The Jesus Mysteries.

From National Geographic:

Jesus Christ is one of the most famous names in the history of mankind. But Gospel writers left out crucial details about pivotal events in Christ’s life – historical moments that have been adapted, embellished and rewritten over the course of hundreds of years. This special re-examines elements of Christ’s life and ministry, such as the nativity, the miracles and the crucifixion – questioning basic modern assumptions to reveal some surprising and often shocking details.


Melissa Terras' Blog

Inaugural Preparations

So, my inaugural lecture is coming up in a few weeks, and I'm starting to write it now, nervously... The event has already sold out, but will be streamed online live, and there is also another lecture theatre at UCL that it will be shown live in (The Terras Terrace?).  Dr Rudolf Ammann, UCLDH's designer at large, has kindly provided some visuals for me... here's the promotional flyer.

I plan to write the lecture out long hand once it is done, and of course, you will be the first to know about it (after I've given it...)

ArcheoNet BE

Asse – Evolutie van een Romeinse vicus

Kristine Magerman, wetenschappelijk medewerkster aan de Onderzoekseenheid Archeologie van de KU Leuven, zal op maandag 28 april om 11 uur een lezing geven met als titel ‘Asse – Evolutie van een Romeinse vicus in het kader van de recente opgravingsresultaten (2006-2014)’. De lezing vindt plaats in het auditorium 01.16 van het Monseigneur-Sencie-Instituut (MSI) aan het Erasmusplein in Leuven. Alle geïnteresseerden zijn welkom. De toegang is gratis.

N.S. Gill ( Classical/Ancient History)

Did the Romans Suffer From Spring Fever?

I was sure they did until I looked up the definition and symptoms. I think of spring fever as a sense of excitement with a hefty dose of fun-loving irresponsibility. Just the sort of excitement that leads to college kids' notorious spring breaks. A sort of spring Saturnalia. At the tail end of April the Romans celebrated a series of festivals I can't help thinking of as silly-sounding and proof that they suffered from (my definition of) spring fever. "Let's find something, anything, to pin it on and have a party for." First there was Vinalia,

Read Full Post

Did the Romans Suffer From Spring Fever? originally appeared on Ancient / Classical History on Thursday, April 24th, 2014 at 09:34:38.

Permalink | Comment | Email this

Jim Davila (

Second-Temple-era chisel?

DISCOVERY NEWS: Ancient Chisel Used to Build Western Wall Found
(Rossella Lorenzi).
A 2,000-year-old stonemason’s chisel that may have been used in the construction of Jerusalem’s Western Wall has been unearthed at the bottom of the structure along with a number of Second Temple-era objects, claims an Israeili archaeologist.

Some of the artifacts, which include a Roman sword, cooking vessels, a gold bell, coins and a ceramic seal, would suggest the Western Wall, a holy site for both Muslims and Jews, had not been built by King Herod at all.

Eli Shukron, an archaeologist working for the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), found the chisel last summer during a dig near a tunnel at the lower base of the Western Wall.

The IAA is still studying the artifact and has not yet verified anything about it. Further to the above, this is interesting:
According to Shukron, the excavation revealed a number of coins beneath the wall which date decades after Herod’s death.

This would suggest that construction of the Western Wall had not even begun at the time of Herod’s death and was likely completed only generations later by one of his descendants.
It couldn't have been very many generations later. Herod died in 4 BCE and the Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.

Watch this space ...

Samaritan Passover again

INNA LAZAREVA: Postcard from... Mount Gerizim (The Independent).
There is a cry as one priest raises a large knife and then swoops it down sharply on the sheep’s neck. Cheers erupt as others lean in to slaughter the lambs. Moments later, everyone embraces each other, leaving bloodied handprints on the starched white clothes. Each community member steps forward to receive a dot of the sheep’s blood on their forehead. The feast of Passover begins...
Background here and links.

St. George's Day 2014

HAPPY BELATED ST. GEORGE'S DAY! It was yesterday, 23 April. I thought of it but didn't have a chance to post on it. St. George is the patron saint of England and a hero to Palestinian Christians. He was also martyred in Palestine c. 300 C.E. and reputedly (alas in only in very late traditions) slew a dragon.

Background here and links

Archaeology and Arts: Αρχαιολογία Online

How To Protect A Mummy With Brains But No Heart

Experts scanning a 6th c. AD Greco-Roman mummy of a woman were found confronted with a number of questions as they found that her brain was still preserved within the head, while a ritualistic object was found over her sternum and abdomen.

The post How To Protect A Mummy With Brains But No Heart appeared first on Αρχαιολογία Online.

Jim Davila (

"Lilith" the folk opera

MUSIC: Legendary 'Lilith' inspires edgy folk opera (Janos Gereben, The Examiner). Excerpts:
“Producers of the show, which opens next week across the Bay Area, call it an “edgy folk opera” and “bawdy alternate Jewish story of Creation.”


The demonic character Lilith (in Hebrew, the name translates to “night monster” or “night hag”) first appeared in the Babylonian Talmud. Jewish folklore says she was created at the same time as Adam, but refused to be subservient to him and was forced to flee Paradise.

She mated with archangel Samael, becoming an accuser, seducer and destroyer. Even worse, she was a child-killer. A succubus, she roamed at night, seeking newborn babies and strangling them in their sleep.

Soprano Heather Klein doesn’t seem daunted about playing the evil character. She calls the score a “huge work that brings together so many genres — Jewish liturgical, operatic and folk,” and adds that she is “amazed by the character-driven melodies that bring this daring Yiddish and English libretto to life.”
Lilith started out as a Sumerian wind demon who was transmogrified into a baby-killing Babylonian demon; she made an appearance as a ruins-inhabiting demon in the Bible (Isaiah 34:14); she took a side turn to become Adam's disobedient first wife in Jewish legend; and she also became a Jewish demon who went back to her baby-killing ways. She gets around.

I was surprised at how many past PaleoJudaica posts there are on Lilith. They (excluding ones whose links have succumbed to link rot) are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Bryn Mawr Classical Review

2014.04.40: Nicofonte: Introduzione, Traduzione e Commento. Fragmenta Comica (FrC), Bd. 15

Review of Matteo Pellegrino, Nicofonte: Introduzione, Traduzione e Commento. Fragmenta Comica (FrC), Bd. 15. Mainz: 2013. Pp. 99. €49.90. ISBN 9783938032572.

2014.04.39: Divination, Prediction and the End of the Roman Republic

Review of Federico Santangelo, Divination, Prediction and the End of the Roman Republic. Cambridge; New York: 2013. Pp. xii, 357. $99.00. ISBN 9781107026841.

2014.04.38: Reconstructing the Theology of Evagrius Ponticus: Beyond Heresy

Review of Augustine Casiday, Reconstructing the Theology of Evagrius Ponticus: Beyond Heresy. Cambridge: 2013. Pp. ix, 265. $99.00. ISBN 9780521896801.

2014.04.37: Byzantines, Latins, and Turks in the Eastern Mediterranean World after 1150. Oxford studies in Byzantium

Review of Jonathan Harris, Catherine Holmes, Eugenia Russell, Byzantines, Latins, and Turks in the Eastern Mediterranean World after 1150. Oxford studies in Byzantium. Oxford; New York: 2012. Pp. xi, 378; 8 p. of plates. $150.00. ISBN 9780199641888.

Archaeology and Arts: Αρχαιολογία Online

Israel to Host The Largest Archaeological Library in the Middle East

The library and archives will be part of the Israel Antiquities Authority's Schottenstein National Campus for the Archeology of Israel, currently under construction in Jerusalem.

The post Israel to Host The Largest Archaeological Library in the Middle East appeared first on Αρχαιολογία Online.

Mary Beard (A Don's Life)


Just to say that currently I am not seeing any "comments" at all. They get to me, I publish them -- but they then don't appear on the blog. I am investigating. Meanwhile, I'm publishing this little notice as a main post! Mary

Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology in the Middle East

Publications: 'Nomad Villages' in North-Eastern Jordan

The May 2014 edition of Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy features a new publication by David Kennedy.

Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 25.1 May 2014'Nomad Villages' in north-eastern Jordan: from Roman Arabia to Umayyad Urdunn
David L. Kennedy
Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy, Volume 25 (May 2014): 96-109
Available through Wiley Online Library :

Contemporary with the well known and striking Desert Castles and Qusur of the desert steppe in the early Islamic period in the Near East emerged another group of sites - dispersed villages, here termed 'Nomad Villages'. Kennedy's article, amply accompanied by photographs and plans, augments recent discoveries and fieldwork to enrich our knowledge of the traces of these dispersed settlements.

Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

Call for Proposals per Fellowships dell'iniziativa Train2Move

train2moveTrain To Move (T2M) è un programma per borse di ricerca di mobilità trasnazionale promosso dall'Università degli Studi di Torino con il supporto della fondazione Bancaria Compagnia di San Paolo. L'iniziativa è cofinanziata con il Programma FP7 People specific program - Cofound Actions.

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

"Pap Dodge" Looks Dodgier

Yet another 'collecting history' claimed by an American owner of a dugup antiquity proves to be - ahem - "problematic" (Owen Jarus, 'Gospel of Jesus's Wife': Doubts Raised About Ancient Text' Live Science April 22, 2014). This one has echoes of the Suzie Jelinek story of the St Louis Ka Nefer Nefer mummy mask. Readers will remember that the 'provenance' claimed by the current owner of a controversial papyrus was a document (contract) which stated that "it was purchased, along with five other Coptic papyrus fragments, from a man named Hans-Ulrich Laukamp in November 1999 and that Laukamp had obtained it in 1963 from Potsdam in then-East Germany". Oh, the "turned up in East Germany" card too. Like the "Leutwitz Apollo"? It turns out, here too, not to be too difficult to check, did the Harvard scholar try?
 In an effort to confirm the origins of the papyrus and discover its history, Live Science went searching for more information about Laukamp and his descendents, business partners or friends.  Our findings indicate that Laukamp was a co-owner of the now-defunct ACMB-American Corporation for Milling and Boreworks in Venice, Fla. Documents filed in Sarasota County, Fla., show that Laukamp was based in Germany at the time of his death in 2002 and that a man named René Ernest was named as the representative of his estate in Sarasota County. In an exchange of emails in German, Ernest said that Laukamp did not collect antiquities, did not own this papyrus and, in fact, was living in West Berlin in 1963, so he couldn't have crossed the Berlin Wall into Potsdam. Laukamp, he said, was a toolmaker and had no interest in old things. In fact, Ernest was astonished to hear that Laukamp's name had been linked to this papyrus. [...]  Ernest said, adding that, as far as he knows, Laukamp had no children and has no living relatives [...] Another acquaintance of Laukamp — Axel Herzsprung, who was also a co-owner of ACMB-American Corporation for Milling and Boreworks — told Live Science (in German in an email) that while Laukamp collected souvenirs on trips, he never heard of him having a papyrus. To his knowledge, Laukamp did not collect antiquities, Herzsprung said.
How convenient that Laukamp has no living relatives. Jarus then raises the question of the copy of a "typed and signed letter addressed to H. U. Laukamp" that dates to July 15, 1982, from Peter Munro, a now-deceased professor at the Freie University Berlin" which refers to "one of Mr. Laukamp's papyri" 
King wrote that the letter said that "a colleague, Professor Fecht, [had seen these papyri]  However, if Ernest and Herzsprung are correct, and Laukamp never collected antiquities, the question becomes: Why and how does this document exist? Munro died in 2009, and the "Professor Fecht" may be Gerhard Fecht, an Egyptology professor at the Freie University Berlin who passed away in 2006,
The collecting history relies on: Laukamp (died 2002 no heirs) being a collector, Munro (died 2009) not being around to ask about what he really knows about Fecht, who equally is not around because he died in 2006. Nothing can be verified, and the letter itself is only known as a 'copy' . "Pap Dodge" looks dodgier.

Ancient Art

The Pella curse tablet, from the Cemetery of Agora. This lead...

The Pella curse tablet, from the Cemetery of Agora.

This lead tablet measures 30x6 cm, and dates to the first half of the 4th century BC. It was discovered rolled into the right hand of a dead man.

The numerous curse tablets from the ancient Greek world indicate one thing of importance: women in the classical period did not on the whole make use of curse tablets to bind lovers to them. […]

The only known example of a curse tablet definitely used by a woman in the period under discussion comes from the 4th century BC, from Pella in Macedonia. A woman, Thetima, asks of the daimones: ‘May he indeed not take another wife than myself by let me grow old by the side of Dionusophon.’ 

Women, particularly in cities such as classical Athens, had little say (if any) in whom they married, and little scope for romantic interests prior to marriage […].

-Matthew Dillon, Girls and Women in Classical Greek Religion (2003), page 178.

Here’s a translation of the tablet, via Bryn Mawr College Classics:

Of Thetima and Dionysophon the ritual wedding and the marriage I bind by a written spell, as well as (the marriage) of all other women (to him), both widows and maidens, but above all of Thetima; and I entrust (this spell) to Macron and to the daimones. And were I ever to unfold and read these words again after digging (the tablet) up, only then should Dionysophon marry, not before; may he indeed not take another beside myself, but let me alone grow old by the side of Dionysophon and no one else. I implore you: have pity for [Phila (?)], dear daimones, [for I am indeed bereft (?)] of all my dear ones and abandoned. But please keep this (piece of writing) for my sake so that these events do not happen and wretched Thetima perishes miserably [—-] but let me become happy and blessed.

Artifact courtesy of & currently located at the Museum of PellaCentral Macedonia. The first photo is taken by Filos96, the second image is via the Wiki Commons.

Laura Gibbs (Bestiaria Latina Blog)

Latin Proverbs and Fables Round-Up: April 24

Here is a round-up of today's proverbs and fables - and for previous posts, check out the Bestiaria Latina Blog archives. You can keep up with the latest posts by using the RSS feed, or you might prefer to subscribe by email.

HODIE (Roman Calendar): ante diem octavum Kalendas Maias.

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


TINY MOTTOES: Today's tiny motto is: Sursum (English: Upwards).

3-WORD PROVERBS: Today's 3-word verb-less proverb is Longae regum manus (English: Long are the hands of kings)

AUDIO PROVERBS: Today's audio Latin proverb is Morborum medicus omnium mors ultimus (English: The last doctor of every disease is death). To read a brief essay about this proverb and to listen to the audio, visit the Latin Via Proverbs blog.

PUBLILIUS SYRUS: Today's proverb from Publilius Syrus is: Mori est felicis, antequam mortem invoces (English: You're lucky if you die before you beg for death).

ERASMUS' ANIMALS: Today's animal proverb from Erasmus is Camelus desiderans cornua, etiam aures perdidit (English: Hoping for horns, the camel lost its ears, too; from Adagia 3.5.8, alluding to the Aesop's fable about the camel).

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

And here are today's proverbial LOLcats:


MILLE FABULAE: The fable from the Mille Fabulae et Una widget is Divitiae et Simulacrum Sacrum, a paradoxical story about the favor of the gods.

FABULAE FACILES: The fable from the Fabulae Faciles widget is Struthiocamelus Perfidus, the story of a two-timing ostrich (this fable has a vocabulary list).

Struthiocamelus Perfidus

Latin Sundials. Below you will find an image of a sundial, and for detailed information about the Latin motto see this blog post: QUA HORA NON PUTATIS FILIUS HOMINIS VENIET.

BiblePlaces Blog

Canaanite Official’s Tomb Discovered in Jezreel Valley

During a salvage excavation just southwest of Nazareth in the Jezreel Valley, archaeologists uncovered a unique coffin from the Late Bronze Age that may have belonged to a Canaanite official serving in the Egyptian army. From the Israel Antiquities Authority press release:

Part of a burial site dating to the Late Bronze Age (thirteenth century BCE) was exposed in an excavation at the foot of Tel Shadud. According to the excavation directors, Dr. Edwin van den Brink, Dan Kirzner and Dr. Ron Be’eri of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “During the excavation we discovered a unique and rare find: a cylindrical clay coffin with an anthropoidal lid (a cover fashioned in the image of a person) surrounded by a variety of pottery consisting mainly of storage vessels for food, tableware, cultic vessels and animal bones. As was the custom, it seems these were used as offerings for the gods, and were also meant to provide the dead with sustenance in the afterlife.” The skeleton of an adult was found inside the clay coffin and next to it were buried pottery, a bronze dagger, bronze bowl and hammered pieces of bronze. “Since the vessels interred with the individual were produced locally”, the researchers say, “We assume the deceased was an official of Canaanite origin who was engaged in the service of the Egyptian government”. Another possibility is that the coffin belonged to a wealthy individual who imitated Egyptian funerary customs. The researchers add that so far only several anthropoidal coffins have been uncovered in the country. The last ones discovered were found at Deir el-Balah some fifty years ago. According to the archaeologists, “An ordinary person could not afford the purchase of such a coffin. It is obvious the deceased was a member of the local elite”.


A rare artifact that was found next to the skeleton is an Egyptian scarab seal, encased in gold and affixed to a ring. The scarab was used to seal documents and objects. The name of the crown of Pharaoh Seti I, who ruled ancient Egypt in the thirteenth century BCE, appears on the seal. Seti I was the father of Ramses II, identified by some scholars as the pharaoh mentioned in the biblical story of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt. Already in the first year of his reign (1294 BCE) a revolt broke out against Seti I in the Bet Sheʽan Valley. Seti conquered that region and established Egyptian rule in Canaan. Seti’s name on the seal symbolizes power and protection, or the strength of the god Ra – the Sun God – one of the most important deities in the Egyptian pantheon. The winged Uraeus (cobra), protector of the pharaoh’s name or of the sovereign himself, is clearly visible on the seal. The reference to the pharaoh Seti on the scarab found in the coffin aided the archaeologists in dating the time of the burial to the thirteenth century BCE – similar to the burials that were exposed at Deir el-Balah and Bet She‘an, which were Egyptian administrative centers.


Tel Shadud preserves the biblical name ‘Sarid’ and the mound is often referred to as Tel Sarid. The tell is situated in the northern part of the Jezreel Valley, close to Kibbutz Sarid. The city is mentioned in the Bible in the context of the settlement of the Tribes of Israel. Sarid was included in the territory of the tribe of Zebulun and became a border city, as written in the Book of Joshua: “The third lot came up for the tribe of Zebulun, according to its families. And the territory of its inheritance reached as far as Sarid…” (Joshua 19:10). Tel Shadud is strategically and economically significant because of its location alongside important roads from the biblical period.

The Israel Antiquities Authority is currently looking into the possibility of sampling the DNA from inside the coffin to see if the deceased was originally a Canaanite or an Egyptian person who was buried in Canaan.

The full press release is here. High-resolution images are here. The story is also reported by the Jerusalem Post and Arutz-7.


The clay coffin at the time of its discovery in the field. Photograph: Dan Kirzner, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.


Parts of the coffin’s lid after an initial cleaning. Photograph: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.


A general view of the excavation area. Photograph: Skyview Company, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.


Egyptian scarab encased in gold. Photograph: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.


The bronze dagger and bowl. Photograph: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

April 23, 2014

Peter Tompa (Cultural Property Observer)

Money Laundering?

Archaeo-blogger Rick St. Hilaire seeks to smear an entire industry by suggesting that a difference in values of art and artifacts exported from the UK to the US as recorded by the authorities may be due to money laundering.  But both the US and UK use the same customs codes and UK and US authorities should have access to the same customs documentation.  Moreover, there is no tax dodge involved; art and artifacts enter duty free.  So, isn't it far more likely that instead of evidence of money laundering, what we have is simply evidence that UK authorities are more efficient at data collection?

Compitum - publications

A. Garcea, M.-K. Lhommé, D. Vallat, Polyphonia Romana. Hommages à Frédérique Biville


Alessandro Garcea, Marie-Karine Lhommé, Daniel Vallat (éd.), Polyphonia Romana. Hommages à Frédérique Biville, Hildesheim, 2013.

Éditeur : Olms
Collection : SPUDASMATA Band 155
(2 vol.) XX/874 pages
ISBN : 978-3-487-15086-4

On trouvera ici réunies des études offertes à Frédérique Biville - professeur de Langue et Littérature latines à l'Université de Lyon 2 -, à qui des collègues, élèves et amis ont ainsi souhaité rendre hommage. La diversité des sujets abordés est à l'image des centres d'intérêt de leur destinataire, qui n'a cessé de décloisonner les disciplines du monde antique : philologie (morpho-syntaxe, sémantique et lexique, pragmatique), bilinguisme et littérature (échanges culturels, littérature gréco-latine), littératures techniques (médecine, histoire de la grammaire). La linguistique des langues anciennes - discipline technique qui a sa méthode et ses objectifs - se révèle ainsi une science capable de parler à un public plus large que celui des spécialistes et un instrument heuristique très puissant pour d'autres disciplines.

Der vorliegende Band versammelt Studien, die Frédérique Biville, Professorin für Lateinische Sprache und Literatur an der Universität Lyon 2, zugeeignet sind und von Kollegen, Schülern und Freunden verfasst wurden. Die Mannigfaltigkeit der erörterten Themen entspricht den Schwerpunkten der Interessen der Geehrten, die unermüdlich die Grenzen der altertumswissenschaftlichen Fächer eingerissen hat : Philologie (Morphologie und Syntax, Semantik und Lexik, Pragmatik), Bilingualität und Literatur (kultureller Austausch, griechisch-lateinische Literatur), Fachliteratur (Medizin, Geschichte der Grammatik). Die Linguistik der alten Sprachen - eine Fachdisziplin mit eigener Methode und eigenen Zielen - erweist sich somit als eine Wissenschaft, die ein größeres Publikum über die Spezialisten hinaus anzusprechen vermag, und als ein heuristisches Instrument, das auch für andere Fächer sehr wirksam sein kann.

Lire la suite...

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Virgin Mary Monastery to open to tourism

The Virgin Mary Monastery, located in the northern province of Giresun’s Şebinkarahisar district, has been undergoing a restoration project and is set to finish this year.

Turkey’s second biggest monastery built out of a mountain, the Virgin Mary Monastery is close to the village of Kayadibi. The restoration started on the monastery in 2006, said Giresun Provincial Culture and Tourism Deputy Director Hüseyin Günaydın, adding, “We plan to open the monastery to faith tourism within a short time.”

The Giresun Museum Director Hulusi Güleç said they estimated that the monastery had served since the 2nd century A.D.

“Christianity was outlawed for 200 years during the Roman era. During this period, Christian clergymen lived in remote places or in areas inside of mountains, like this monastery, to perform their religion. Read more.

David Gill (Looting Matters)

Blogging in a research context

I am grateful to Doug Rocks-Macqueen for the invitation to contribute to his "Blogging Archaeology" carnival for the SAA 2014 conference.

Doug and Chris Webster will be bringing out an e-book for the conference with 14 main contributions. I have written a chapter on the theme of "Blogging in a Research Context". It has given me the opportunity to reflecting on how "Looting Matters" emerged from an established research project, and how the blog enabled me to gather information for further published research. There is a section on the blog series linked to the PR Newswire press releases (and there will be an appendix with a list of the releases). I have included a section on the contribution of LM to the Journal of Art Crime, as well as mentions of the blog in other research print publications.

More details will follow.

Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

American Philological Association

New Post-Baccalaureate Program in Post-Classical Latin at UCLA in 2014-2015

The UCLA Division of Humanities, the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (CMRS), and the Department of Classics are pleased to announce the award of a three-year grant by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the preparation and training of young scholars in post-classical Latin for graduate programs in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Deep-Sea Robot Explores Shipwrecks Thursday: Watch Live Online

A remotely operated vehicle will dive into the Gulf of Mexico to explore three mysterious shipwrecks that may be up to 200 years old, and you can watch the expedition live in a webcast.

Tomorrow (April 24), the ROV will explore debris and artifacts from one of the three ships, which litter the seafloor near the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. You can watch the shipwreck expedition webcast on Live Science.

The shipwreck investigation is part of an ongoing exploration of the Gulf of Mexico seafloor by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Okeanos Explorer research vessel. Researchers will search for clues as to whether the ships sunk together and if the wrecks may be significant national maritime heritage sites. Read more.

Archaeology Magazine

Model Suggests Waves of Migration Out of Africa

TÜBINGEN, GERMANY—The first wave of modern human migration out of Africa took place some 130,000 years ago, according to a new study conducted by an international team of scientists led by Katerina Harvati of the University of Tübingen and the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment. They examined the geography of potential migration routes, genetic data, and cranial comparisons from modern humans from different parts of the world. The first wave of people probably traveled along the rim of the Indian Ocean to Australia and the west Pacific region. According to the model, a second dispersal to northern Eurasia occurred some 50,000 years ago. “Both lines of evidence—anatomical cranial comparisons as well as genetic data—support a multiple dispersal model,” Harvati told Science Daily

Open Access Archaeology

Open Access Archaeology Digest #397

Todays list of Open Access (free to read) Archaeology articles:

STAC: The Severe Terrain Archaeological Campaign - investigation of stack sites of the Isle of Lewis 2003-2005

A Roman vicus in Peckham

Where are the middens?: An overview of the archaeological evidence for shellfish exploitation along the northwestern Australian coastline

Exclude the People Not Their Pots

Learn more about Open Access and Archaeology at:

ISAW News Blog

Ancient Peoples

Faience feeding cup  This cup was used to feed babies and...

Faience feeding cup 

This cup was used to feed babies and infants. The decoration on the sides are the same as those on magical wands, used for the protection of the child. From left to right: the goddess Taweret, a griffin, a snake, a lion and a turtle. 

Found in Lisht, the Memphis area, found in the west corner of the pyramid cemetery 

Egyptian, Middle Kingdom, 12th dynasty, 1850 - 1700 BC.

Source: Metropolitan Museum

Ancient Art

Egyptian limestone fragment, from the Amarna Period of the New...

Egyptian limestone fragment, from the Amarna Period of the New Kingdom, ca. 1352-1336 B.C.E.

Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum, via their online collectionsAccession Number: 16.67.

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

The Credibility Gap: New Accusations in Egypt - What's New?

First they jail journalists, now they are reportedly again after Hawass, and again on the basis of accusations from former colleagues: 'World-famous Egyptologist Zahi Hawass under investigation for graft' Ahram Online, Wednesday 23 Apr 2014. Round and round we go...
World-renowned Egyptologist and former antiquities minister Zahi Hawass is under investigation by Egypt's authorities on charges of illicit gains, Al-Ahram's Arabic news website reported on Wednesday. The superstar archaeologist and former secretary-general of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) has been accused by officials at the council of illegally acquiring a fortune of some $14 million kept in US banks. This is not the first time such accusations have been levelled at Hawass, but past investigations cleared him of such charges.
Now that is quite some amount. He was appointed Secretary General of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities only in 2002, appointed Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs, a newly created cabinet post, by Mubarak on January 31, 2011 and left both positions on July 17, 2011. He was a National Geographic Explorer in Residence from spring 2001 until some uncertain date after January 2011. Reportedly
"beginning in 2001 and continuing for a decade, National Geographic paid the archaeologist between $80,000 and $200,000 a year for his expertise". 
Fourteen million in ten years is 1.4 million dollars a year, quite a lot more than 200,000 dollars - so where do his colleagues assert he was getting the other 1,200,000 dollars a year from? Let us also bear in mind that from all accounts Dr Hawass' lifestyle cannot be said to have been particularly 'modest', so the money that he's alleged to have secreted away is on top of some pretty hefty spending. Even if his colleagues are accusing him of starting the alleged activities when he became chief inspector of the Giza Plateau (in early 1994 after some dispute over a statue) the ability to amass $14million in 18 years (that's still savings of $770,000 a year) is - to say the least, difficult to account for. Anyway, let us see what these new investigations come up with, and I look forward to hearing why the previous investigations missed the evidence of such hefty cash transfers. 

Here's a little conspiracy theory. Regular readers of this blog will know that I consider that - despite all - there is a chance that Dr Hawass will make a comeback. He has not been idle since July 2011. It is my considered opinion that he has several aces up his sleeve. It may well be that the elections coming up will create possibilities for him. My guess is these accusations will be found to be groundless, and were dragged out in order to damage Hawass, in an attempt to prevent him building a position of strength at what some could see as a crucial juncture. Cui bono?

Vignette: Egypt today a muddle of accusations and counter accusations.

Archaeology Magazine

Little Genetic Variation Found Among Neanderthals

LEIPZIG, GERMANY—Analysis of mutations in three Neanderthal genomes by Svante Pääbo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology suggests that these human relatives lived in smaller, more isolated groups, and were less genetically diverse, than modern humans. Pääbo and his team also note that skeleton genes within the Neanderthal lineage changed more than they would have expected. “For example, genes that affect the curvature of the spine have changed in Neanderthals. This fits with how their skeletons have changed quite drastically during their evolution,” he explained to Live Science. The modern human lineage has more changes in the genes involved with pigmentation and behavior, although it is not fully understood how the mutations affect behavior.  

Byzantine News

New Byzantine texts added to the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae Project

New Byzantine texts have been added yesterday on TLG. Here is the list:

0082 APOLLONIUS DYSCOLUS Gramm. (2 works)
2042 ORIGENES Theol. (1 work)
2873 EUSTRATIUS Presbyter Scr. Eccl. (1 work)
2921 THEODORUS Spudaeus Scr. Eccl. (1 work)
2938 GERMANUS II Scr. Eccl. (2 works)
2944 LEO VI SAPIENS Imperator Phil., Scr. Eccl. et Poeta (1 work)
3077 MICHAEL I CERULARIUS Scr. Eccl. et Theol. (1 work)
3079 Michael ATTALIATES Hist. (1 work)
3092 Nicephorus BLEMMYDES Phil. et Theol. (4 works)
3169 Joannes VI CANTACUZENUS (2 works)
3191 Theodorus METOCHITES Phil. et Polyhist. (2 works)
3197 Demetrius CYDONES Theol., Transl. et Philol. (1 work)
3213 Prochorus CYDONES Theol. et Transl. (1 work)
3217 Nilus CABASILAS Theol. (2 works)
3248 Joannes CYPARISSIOTES Theol. (1 work)
3257 David DISHYPATUS Theol. (1 work)
3345 CALLISTUS I Patriarcha Scr. Eccl. et Orat. (3 works)
3346 Andreas CHRYSOBERGES Theol. (1 work)
4146 Maximus PLANUDES Polyhist. et Theol. (1 work)
4286 LEXICA SYNTACTICA Lexicogr. (1 work)
4288 LEXICON $AI(MWDEI=N& Lexicogr. (1 work)
4427 MARCUS Monachus Theol. (6 works)
4428 Neophytus PRODROMENUS Lexicogr., Theol. et Phil. (4 works)
4430 JACOBUS Monachus Theol. et Epist. (2 works)
4431 Georgius PELAGONIUS Theol. et Phil. (2 works)
5004 EPIMERISMI Gramm. et Schol. (1 work)

Via TLG website

Archaeology Magazine

New Technique Dates Rock Art in Australia’s Western Desert

Aboriginal-Rock-ArtCRAWLEY, AUSTRALIA—Rock art in Australia’s Western Desert has been dated for the first time with a new technique known as plasma oxidation, which prepares the samples for carbon dating. Jo McDonald and her team documented rock art sites in the eastern Pilbara at the request of traditional owners. When possible, they collected tiny samples of paint for testing. “We have discovered that this technique is a useful way of dating black paintings with charcoal in them,” McDonald told The paintings are between 2,000 and 3,000 years old. 

Backyard Bones May Be Remains of French Soldiers

HAMPSHIRE, ENGLAND—Workers digging a foundation for an addition on a home uncovered human bones that may be the remains of at least two French soldiers captured during the Napoleonic War. BBC News reports that the home is near Portchester Castle, where thousands of French prisoners of war were held in the early nineteenth century. Men were also held on prison ships in Portsmouth harbor, and there was a hospital in the town. 

Archaeological News on Tumblr

1800's Shipwreck Rediscovered Near Golden Gate Bridge

The lost shipwreck of a passenger steamer that went down near the Golden Gate in San Francisco has been rediscovered.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), announced the discovery of the remains of the SS City of Chester today (April 23). NOAA’s Coast Survey Navigational Response Team 6 inadvertently found the wreck last year while surveying another shipwreck nearby.

The City of Chester was built in 1875 and sank in 1888. Carrying 90 passengers, the ship was steaming away from San Francisco toward Eureka, Calif., on Aug. 22 of that year. The fog that day was dense. Read more.

Elena Cano (Γνωθι τους αλλους)

Teatro clásico

RDE. Juicio a una zorra from CTRO. DE DOCUMENTACION TEATRAL on Vimeo.

Casualmente he descubierto el canal del Centro de Documentación Teatral en Vimeo y ojeando la lista de vídeos he descubierto que hay unos cuanto fragmentos de obras clásicas  de las presentadas en el Festival de Mérida que, además se pueden descargar para ver sin estar en línea. Me parecen un material muy interesante para ilustrar las clases de griego por eso comparto aquí la selección:

Áyax de Sófocles

Los persas de Esquilo

Hécuba de Eurípides

Lisístrata 1  y de Aristófanes

También hay obras basadas en personajes o historia del mundo clásico  como la del vídeo que ilustra la entrada de hoy, o las siguientes:

Numancia de Cervantes

Julio César de Shakespeare

Calígula de Albert Camus

Perséfone. Variaciones mortales.  de Els Comediants

Espero que os gusten y les saquéis buen provecho.

He has a wife you know

ancientart: Ancient post-it notes! romkids: How often do you...


Ancient post-it notes!


How often do you reach for a Post-It note? Maybe you’re making that to do list, or figuring out your groceries. But you know, what if you lived BEFORE Post-It notes or scrap paper? What would you use then?

In Thebes, where these examples are from, and across the Roman Empire, scraps of used and broken pottery would be used to scribble quick notes. These examples are called ostraka. Most of the ostraka that our conservators and curators are studying right now contain notes on taxes and granary receipts from the second century AD.

The notes are written in Greek script. Kay Sunahara, ROM archaeologist studying these pieces, described the Greek langage at the time as, “the lingua franca of the Mediterranean”. Greek was the most frequently used written language, used to help bridge the gap between speakers of different languages, much like English today.

The majority of these pieces we’re found and acquired in the early 1900’s by none other than ROM founder Charles T. Currelly.

So how are these scrap pieces of pottery useful to archaeology today? Are grocery lists really that vaulabe? For archaeologists, ostraka provide them with a great deal of information about the people who left these notes in the first place. Information such as what people were eating, trading for, in trouble for, and the prices of things, give us a unique look into those who lived far before us, in this case well over a thousand years ago.

Interestingly enough, it also shows us just how similar we are to those who lived long before. Everyone needs groceries, and a reminder letter, maybe from their mom, or from their husband, of what to get from the store.

National Archaeology Day takes place on October 20th at the ROM and many other museums around the world!

Ancient Peoples

Limestone head of a bearded man  89 cm by 35.6 cm by...

Limestone head of a bearded man 

89 cm by 35.6 cm by 58.4 cm. ( 35 x 14 x 23 inch.) 

Cypriotic, Archaic Period, early 6th century BC. 

Source: Metropolitan Museum

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Micro-scale technique helps preserve rock art legacy

An interdisciplinary team has used a new technique known as plasma oxidation to produce radiocarbon dates for paint fragments as small as 10 micrograms in width.

Archaeologist and UWA Winthrop Professor Jo McDonald, says her team spent three years documenting rock art sites along the Canning Stock Route, in the eastern Pilbara, at the request of traditional owners.

"A lot of them had had not been visited for a very long time," she says.

"The community hasn’t lived on country since the 1960s – but we had a couple of traditional owners with us who had walked through those areas in the 70s." Read more.

He has a wife you know

thegetty: She is a bit unusual for an ancient bronze.  Can you...


She is a bit unusual for an ancient bronze. 

Can you see why?

Her glass-paste inlaid eyes have survived from antiquity, an extremely rare feat for bronze portraits. 

Bust of a Woman, 25 B.C.-A.D. 25, Roman. Bronze and glass paste. The J. Paul Getty Museum

Peter Tompa (Cultural Property Observer)

Lazy Journalism

More lazy journalism on Egyptian antiquities, this time from Reuters and the Chicago Tribune.   Egyptian antiquities have been widely and legally collected since at least the 19th c. and were also widely and legally collected in Egypt itself, until the Mubarak regime declared them state property in 1983.   Many artifacts, particularly those of limited value, have no documentary history, let alone absolute proof that they left Egypt legally before that date.  Yet, no one seems to question this assertion from one of the bureaucrats serving Egypt's military dictatorship: 

[A]nyone seeking to sell an artifact of Egyptian origin should be required to produce a document showing it was lawfully exported from Egypt, whose laws permitted the trade in antiquities until 1983, when all such trade was banned.

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

Bibles Strike

David Hayward’s latest cartoon highlights in a comical manner the tendency of the Bible to resist attempts to domesticate it, whether to turn it into a voice for conservative “traditional family values” or for progressive liberal ones. Reading the Bible has made some more conservative and some more liberal. It has turned atheists into Christians and Christians into atheists. It is the most effective resource when arguing against young-earth creationism.

The Bible strikes back, over and over again. Those who truly love the Bible, as the sign says, love it for what it is. Loving an imagined other rather than the reality never leads to anything good.

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Archaeologists, tribe clash over Native remains

Archaeologists and Native Americans are clashing over Indian remains and artifacts that were excavated during a construction project in the San Francisco Bay Area, but then reburied at an undisclosed location.

Archaeologists say the burial ground and village site in Larkspur held a treasure trove of information about Coast Miwok life and should have been preserved for future study.

But The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, which made the decision to remove and rebury the remains and artifacts, say the items belonged to their ancestors, and how they are handled is no one’s business but the tribe’s. Read more.

James Clackson et al. (Greek in Italy)

Wandering Myths and Changing Stories

How do myths and stories travel across space? And, perhaps more importantly, why do they change when they get there? Did the people hearing the stories misunderstand, and garble them in their own retellings, or did they deliberately adapt myths to fit better with their local beliefs, practices and institutions?

The Wandering Myths conference I attended at Somerville College, Oxford last week discussed all these issues and many more – but it was the issue of “misunderstanding” that particularly interested me. As many of the speakers discussed, this is often a key issue for how we understand contact between the Greek world and other cultures, especially in Italy. In the past, Etruscan and Southern Italian artists in particular have been criticised by modern art historians for misrepresenting or misinterpreting Greek myths in their work.

In her paper “From Mezentie to Mezentius”, Nancy de Grummond showed us a number of Etruscan mirrors. One showed a young man labelled as Alixentr (Alexander), facing three beautiful women. Immediately, this appears to be an image of the judgement of Paris – Paris (also called Alexander) was told to judge who was the most beautiful goddess, out of Hera, Athena and Aphrodite. But there’s a problem – the women depicted on the mirror are labelled too, with the names Ateleta (Etruscan for Atalanta), Helena and a third Etruscan name that doesn’t relate to any Greek goddess or woman. Did the artist misunderstand the story of the judgement of Paris, then? The picture on the mirror shown above is also said to show “the judgement of Paris”, but the figures aren’t labelled. Are they actually Hera, Athena and Aphrodite, or are they supposed to show another version of the story?

Similarly, the Minotaur is always killed by Hercules, not Theseus, when the story is depicted in Etruscan art. Is this just a mistake? Possibly, but quite a large number of people, many of whom knew a great deal about Greek culture, would consistently have to make the same “mistake” for these kinds of changes to be possible.

Even though a number of scholars still seem to use “mistakes” in transmission as a big factor in how these stories change, there are a number of other possibilities. People could be giving a local flavour to imported stories, making them match up to characters they already knew. But, more convincingly perhaps, there may have been many versions of these stories in common currency, and the “official” Greek version known to us may be just one of many competing versions that happened to be written down or made into a play. It might in fact be wrong to think of the written Greek (or Latin) text as the correct version, or even the main version, of a story, even if it is the most familiar.

This point doesn’t just apply to myths, but to anything that might be transmitted across cultures – law codes, magical formulae, and even alphabets themselves. There may be mistakes as they get passed from person to person, and there may be deliberate adaptations to local needs. But we also need to keep in mind that there may also be many versions that are completely invisible to us, because they don’t survive. When we study the influence of Greek culture on other groups, there are always a huge number of missing links.

If you want to see for yourself how the myth of Herakles/Hercules wandered across Greece, Italy, Northern Europe, the Middle East and South Asia, you can use the “Wandering Myths” gallery trail at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. This was put together by the conference organisers, and shows perfectly how one hero’s stories can adapt and change as they are represented by different artists. The trail took me about 30 minutes to complete, so it makes a good lunchtime break if you happen to be in Oxford soon – you should be able to ask for the leaflet at the museum.

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Oriental Institute’s Integrated Database

Oriental Institute’s Integrated Database

This is an on-going project that aims to provide public access to information about the diverse research and object-based collections managed and cared for by the Oriental Institute.

Users now have the ability to view and download photographs of objects, associated movie files, and PDFs through the Oriental Institute's collection search. The homepage for the collection search is:

If you would like to browse some of the records with images and PDFs attached, here are a few links (after clicking the link, click on the title field of the record to get the details view and see all associated

1. Book with multiple PDFs

2. Object with 48 images

3. Object with 2 images

4. Object with 8 images

5. Book with image and PDF

6. Book with 1 image

7. Object with 226 images

8. Object with 2 images and 1 video

James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

My My This Here Anakin Guy

Click here to view the embedded video.

I can’t believe I never saw this before now. Click on the embedded video above to listen to the parody song “The Saga Begins” by “Weird Al” Yankovic. HT Matt Brown.

Lawrence H. Schiffman

Interview about the Qumran Tefillin

Qumran Phylactery

Qumran Phylactery

The recent “discovery” of the Qumran Tefillin has caused much excitement in the academic world and has also captured the imagination of the public. The Orthodox Ami Magazine has published an interview with me about what we know so far about the Dead Sea Scrolls Tefillin and what we may or may not learn from opening the small scrolls.

Read the full interview here: “New” Dead Sea Scroll Tefillin Discovered

David Connolly, Maggie Struckmeier, and Felicity Donohoe (Past Horizons: Adventures in Archaeology)

Anatomically Modern Humans leave Africa 130,000 years ago

Image: Fir0002 (Wikimedia, used under a CC BY-NC 3.0)Anatomically modern humans spread from Africa to Asia and Europe in several migratory movements according to new research

Ancient Peoples

Golden bracelet  The design is striking; a double spirally...

Golden bracelet 

The design is striking; a double spirally twisted strands with a Herakles knot at the bezel. 9.2cm in diameter (3 5/8 inch.). 

Roman, Imperial Period, 2nd century AD. 

Source: Metropolitan Museum

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

#MuseumWeek: riflessioni a freddo

Il mese scorso abbiamo celebrato la prima #MuseumWeek, una settimana di alta visibilità social per i musei di alcuni paesi, tra cui l’Italia ‒ tutta su Twitter. Se ne è parlato molto tra gli addetti ai lavori e mi sembra che tutti siano rimasti contenti. Anche io ho partecipato alla #MuseumWeek, occupandomi dell’account @archeoliguria della Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici della Liguria (dove lavoro). Siamo quasi in fondo alla lista dei musei italiani che hanno aderito ufficialmente.

Già in corso d’opera c’erano state raccolte di dubbi, più sullo svolgimento pratico che sull’iniziativa in generale, come ha scritto Linkiesta. Qui vorrei raccogliere, un po’ per riflessione un po’ per mugugno, alcuni elementi di debolezza che ho colto durante la settimana e che mi sembrano importanti per tutte le prossime volte che parteciperemo a una iniziativa simile.

Anzitutto, i tempi. La #MuseumWeek si è svolta dal 24 al 30 marzo 2014, e la notizia è comparsa sul blog di Twitter il 10 marzo, cioè due settimane prima. Per essere una iniziativa a cui dovevano partecipare centinaia di istituzioni in mezza Europa, il preavviso è stato scarso. Ma il motivo è presto detto: è stata organizzata completamente top-down, con date e tempistiche fissate in anticipo, fino alla definizione degli argomenti da trattare. Mi direte: è il bello del social, l’improvvisazione, e tu sei un bradipo! Vi rispondo che con 5 musei da coordinare distribuiti in tutta la regione, con una infrastruttura tecnologica non proprio all’avanguardia non è stato facilei bradipi quasi sempre fanno 4 o 5 cose diverse contemporaneamente e non dedicano l’intera giornata ai social media. I bradipi più bradipi sono stati quelli che già durante la #MuseumWeek mandavano e-mail chiedendo di inviare via e-mail dei messaggi di 140 caratteri che poi avrebbero provveduto a far pubblicare su un certo account istituzionale molto seguito…

A chi si iscriveva mandando una e-mail a veniva inviata da Massimiliano D’Ostilio (della società TTA) una breve presentazione in cui si scoprivano i temi del giorno e le modalità previste di interazione. Si tratta secondo me di un documento banale, di taglio puramente promozionale, in cui sono stati elencati solo benefici e nessun rischio (l’ABC della progettazione, credo). Tanto per fare due esempi concreti: i musei italiani hanno corso il rischio di essere insultati per i noti problemi di gestione del patrimonio (durante quella settimana non credo sia successo, ma capita), mentre gli utenti hanno rischiato di trovarsi la timeline inondata di contenuti non sempre interessanti (e credo che in alcuni giorni questo sia successo davvero).

La scaletta delle tematiche era molto adatta a musei grandi e tradizionali, ruotando in modo determinante intorno alle collezioni, le opere e i quadri, insomma non il massimo per piccoli musei e aree archeologiche. In effetti se rileggete il post di presentazione questa preferenza è chiara, dal calibro dei musei citati (e speriamo coinvolti nell’ideazione, almeno loro). Sopra ho scritto che questi sono appunti per la prossima volta che parteciperemo proprio perché la #MuseumWeek, bella ed entusiasmante, era una offerta da prendere o lasciare ‒ anche se qualche museo l’ha interpretata a modo suo.

Ma insomma, tutti questi sono inutili mugugni perché la #MuseumWeek è stata una figata pazzesca e siamo stati nei trending topic per una settimana intera e abbiamo moltiplicato i follower e abbiamo avuto n-mila interazioni… forse. Siamo stati nei trending topic ma eravamo veramente tanti quindi era abbastanza scontato, oltre al fatto che Twitter potrebbe aver deciso di mettere la #MuseumWeek nei trending topic. Abbiamo moltiplicato i follower, indubbiamente, e per molte realtà piccole e agli esordi social questo è stato importante: @archeoliguria è passata nell’arco della settimana da 200 a 300 follower circa. Abbiamo avuto davvero molte interazioni, che non mi sono messo a contare, ma sulla qualità di queste interazioni ho qualche dubbio: anzitutto c’è stato un fortissimo senso di cooperazione tra le realtà medio-piccole e ci siamo fatti coraggio a vicenda, ritwittando i messaggi degli altri musei, commentando e rispondendo alle domande del giorno tra di noi, mentre il pubblico “esterno” ha interagito meno (potrei dire molto meno, se avessi dei numeri). Giornate come #AskTheCurator e #GetCreative hanno mostrato come il pubblico, anche quando si entusiasma, è abbastanza pigro o semplicemente non è abituato a parlare con il museo ‒ anche perché c’è una ampia fetta di popolazione “esperta” di archeologi, storici dell’arte, guide turistiche che forse ha partecipato più per senso di appartenenza che per curiosità verso qualcosa di nuovo. Generalizzando, mi dispiace invece notare come i grandi musei e poli museali abbiano scelto ancora una volta di rimanere in modalità broadcasting, sfruttando tutta la loro visibilità per mostrarsi al pubblico con cui non hanno minimamente interagito. Delle vere superstar. A proposito di superstar, è rimasto un po’ in sordina anche l’esercito sempre più numeroso dei personaggi parlanti che hanno iniziato a popolare Twitter dopo il successo dei due tamarri bronzi di Riace (a proposito: che fine avranno fatto?)

Tutto da buttare? Assolutamente no. Ma non è tutto #oro quel che #luccica e non credo, come ha invece scritto @insopportabile, che Twitter abbia assolto al ruolo di un ministero della cultura organizzando la #MuseumWeek. Il successo lo abbiamo fatto noi ma credo che ci voglia ben altro per trasferire il successo social ai musei in carne e ossa: non dobbiamo vendere niente, ma raccontare tantissimo.

flattr this!

Insula: Le blog de la Bibliothèque des Sciences de l'Antiquité (Lille 3)

Biographie des « Tyrannicides » athéniens

Vie(s) et mort(s) de deux statues de la Grèce antique.

Un ouvrage paru aux éditions du Seuil en mars 2014 retrace la vie de deux célèbres statues de la Grèce antique représentant Harmodios et Aristogiton, les auteurs du meurtre d’Hipparque, le fils du tyran Pisistrate. Une enquête passionnante de Vincent Azoulay qui court sur vingt-cinq siècles.

Les Tyrannicides d'AthènesLes Tyrannicides d’Athènes

“Comme les êtres humains, les biens matériels peuvent avoir une biographie” souligne Jan-Pierre Crielaard dans un article consacré à la biographie des biens matériels chez Homère1. Cet « état civil » donné aux objets, pour reprendre une expression de Louis Gernet2, leur confère une valeur supplémentaire. Dans Les Tyrannicides d’Athènes, Vincent Azoulay reprend cette tradition ancienne et narre l’histoire mouvementée de deux groupes statuaires représentant Harmodios et Aristogiton, deux Athéniens qui assassinèrent Hipparque, frère du tyran Hippias : les « Tyrannoctones » ou, selon la terminaison latine choisie par Vincent Azoulay, les « Tyrannicides ».

Le choix de reprendre le dossier relatif aux groupes statuaires des Tyrannicides sous le mode biographique permet, selon l’auteur, “de repenser les rapports entre image et politique en Grèce ancienne et d’échapper aux catégories figées de l’histoire de l’art antique” (p. 17). L’approche micro-historique revendiquée, par la renonciation à la figure de l’historien-narrateur omniscient, pour modeste qu’elle soit, se révèle extrêmement féconde.

Rappel des faits

Le premier chapitre reprend les sources antiques qui proposent deux interprétations possibles de l’assassinat d’Hipparque, le frère du tyran d’Athènes Hippias, à l’entrée de l’Agora lors des festivités en l’honneur de la déesse Athéna en juillet 514 : selon la version populaire, Harmodios et Aristogiton auraient agi pour mettre fin à la tyrannie ; une théorie alternative, véhiculée en particulier par Thucydide et le Pseudo-Aristote, soutient que les amants auraient tué le frère du tyran − et non le tyran lui-même − à l’occasion d’une banale histoire de rivalité amoureuse. S’en serait alors ensuivi une radicalisation de la tyrannie plutôt que sa fin.

Quoi qu’il en fut du motif exact de leur geste, Harmodios et Aristogiton moururent suite à leur homicide et, quand la Tyrannie fut effectivement renversée, les Athéniens érigèrent un groupe statuaire les représentant.

Le groupe d’Anténor

Les premières statues représentant Harmodios et Aristogiton sont les moins connues et, de fait, occupent une moindre place dans la monographie. Le groupe statuaire en bronze réalisé par Anténor, à une date débattue entre 510 et 480, a en effet laissé peu de traces dans la littérature et − semble-t-il − aucune trace iconographique. Avec l’érection de ce groupe, c’était la première fois que des hommes se trouvaient statufiés sur l’agora, un lieu encore quasi désert. Ce groupe statuaire, ne se rattache à aucun genre statuaire défini par les modernes (cultuel, funéraire, ex-voto, effigie honorifique …). Vincent Azoulay émet l’hypothèse que ces statues glorifiaient publiquement les deux héros, tout en conjurant les puissances terribles éveillées par la scène du crime et faisant bénéficier les Athéniens de leur protection. Jugées infamantes envers les tyrans, les statues d’Harmodios et Aristogiton furent enlevées par Xerxès lors du sac d’Athènes en 480 av. J.-C., quelques années seulement après avoir été érigées, et emmenées à Suse, d’où elles ne revinrent que longtemps plus tard, rendues aux Athéniens par Alexandre le Grand − comme le suggère Vincent Azoulay − ou par un souverain séleucide.

Le groupe de Kritios et Nésiotès

Les statues d’Harmodios et Aristogiton réalisées par Anténor furent jugées suffisamment importantes pour être rapidement remplacées en 477/76 par un nouveau groupe, toujours en bronze, réalisé cette fois par Kritios et Nésiotès. Comme le précédent, ce deuxième groupe des tyrannicides trouva sa place sur l’agora, érigé dans un superbe isolement, devenant l’un des principaux symboles de la démocratie athénienne. C’est ce groupe qui occupe la majeure partie du livre de Vincent Azoulay pour avoir laissé de nombreuses traces littéraires, épigraphiques et iconographiques. On peut en effet avoir une idée du bronze original grâce à des copies romaines ainsi que par les citations iconographiques sur d’autres supports décrits au cours du livre ou en annexe (essentiellement des peintures de céramique, mais également des monnaies, des reliefs…).

Rappelons ici les principales caractéristiques de ce groupe : il réuni un homme mûr et un jeune homme, deux nus formant un couple d’amants autant que d’héroïques guerriers, saisis en pleine action, frappant de taille et d’estoc un ennemi non représenté : Hipparque et, sous ce nom, la tyrannie elle-même.

Si ce groupe est connu, du fait de l’abondance documentaire, si le sujet a généré de nombreuses études, il a également sa part d’ombres et a suscité diverses controverses chez les modernes, sans doute parce que la signification de ce monument était déjà controversée dans l’Antiquité, nourrissant des interprétations divergentes. C’est tout l’intérêt de ce livre de reprendre l’examen des sources, de les mettre en perspective, de proposer des hypothèses qui, énoncées avec prudence, sont très souvent convaincantes.

La première partie de l’enquête de Vincent Azoulay se déroule dans un grand Ve siècle, de la naissance des statues jusqu’aux crises de 411 et 404. Durant cette période, les statues des Tyrannicides font l’objet d’une réception contrastée, entre vénération et moquerie, culte et polémique. Avec la chute de la tyrannie des Trente, en 403, s’ouvre la seconde partie du livre : les Tyrannicides perdent de leur singularité pour devenir archétypes de la statuaire honorifique. L’agora d’Athènes se peuple peu à peu de statues d’autres humains sur le modèle d’Harmodios et Aristogiton. L’image des Tyannicides se banalise elle-même en étant diffusée au-delà d’Athènes, jusqu’à orner les belles maisons romaines.

Vies et morts de deux statues singulières

Le sous-titre du livre est : « vie et mort de deux statues ». Il est contestable de parler de « mort » pour les Tyrannicides à l’issue de cette longue chaîne de doubles qui constitue leur vie. Vincent Azoulay, après Burckardt Fehr, rappelle dans un épilogue intitulé « Born again » que l’iconographie des Tyrannicides fut reprise en 1937 par l’Allemagne nazie et par l’Union Soviétique3. En outre, la figure des Tyrannicides fut souvent reprise en exemple, en particulier comme icône gay, souvent associée au Bataillon sacré thébain. « Vies et morts » : le pluriel aurait sans doute mieux convenu pour décrire le destin de ces statues singulières.

Plus de 70 pages de notes rejetées en fin de volume complètent les 246 pages d’un texte à l’écriture très agréable et un sens de la formule qui rend passionnante cette biographie issue d’une Habilitation à diriger des recherches. L’ouvrage possède 39 illustrations en noir et blanc. L’auteur a choisi de mettre en annexe certaines descriptions iconographiques qui n’avaient pas trouvé entièrement leur place dans le texte. On pourra regretter que l’ensemble des testimonia ne soit pas repris en annexe.

“On peut admirer le travail d’un biographe tout en se demandant si l’objet de ses recherches valait que tant de talent, d’opiniâtreté, d’efforts fussent déployés” écrivait récemment Pierre Assouline4. Assurément, le pari de Vincent Azoulay de rédiger la biographie de deux statues est réussi.

À propos de ce livre

Vincent Azoulay, Les tyrannicides d’Athènes : vie et mort de deux statues, Éditions du Seuil, 2014. Coll. « L’Univers historique ». 367 pages. ISBN 978-2-02-112164-3

tyrannicides-01Les Tyrannicides d’Athènes

Notes du texte

  1. Jan Paul Crielaard, « The cultural biography of material goods in Homer’s epics ». In: Gaia : revue interdisciplinaire sur la Grèce Archaïque. Numéro 7, 2003. pp. 49-62.
  2. Louis Gernet, « La notion mythique de la valeur », texte écrit en 1948 repris dans : Anthropologie de la Grèce antique, Paris, 1968, p. 102.
  3. Burkhardt Fehr, Les Tyrannoctones, peut-on élever un monument à la démocratie ?, Paris, 1989.
  4. Pierre Assouline, « Herbart, coupé sous le pied », in: Le Magazine littéraire, n° 542, avril 2014, p. 18.

All Mesopotamia

NEW POST: How Sumerians made sense of the universe

NEW POST: How Sumerians made sense of the universe: First there was ______, then there was ______,...

Archaeological Institute of America blogs

Past Waldbaum Recipient Spotlight: Ethan Aines

Archaeology is a subject that attracts individuals from all different backgrounds. Ethan Aines is currently a senior at Stanford University, looking forward to attending either Cambridge or Oxford next year. Before Stanford, however, he was a student at Las Positas College, a community college in Livermore, CA, returning to the States after spending six years studying Arabic and freelancing in Egypt.

Attending high school against the background of the Iraq War inspired Ethan to learn Arabic and pursue a non-traditional post-secondary career in Cairo. When not writing or editing, he would visit the numerous archaeological sites for fun. Fortuitously, Ethan decided to go back to his home state of California before the Egyptian Revolution occurred.

Taking “random” classes at Las Positas introduced Ethan to archaeology and anthropology as academic subjects. He was able to complete five honors projects and present at several conferences; this strong academic record earned him both a full scholarship as a transfer student at Stanford, and a Waldbaum Scholarship for the preceding summer.

read more

BiblePlaces Blog

Chisel Discovered from Temple Mount Construction

Archaeologists excavating in the area below Robinson’s Arch along the southern end of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount have discovered a metal chisel used to shape the stones in the first century. The Israel Antiquities Authority has not issued a press release yet, but Haaretz has learned of the discovery.

Archaeologists have found a stonemason's chisel that they believe may have been used by the builders of the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Actually Eli Shukron, an archaeologist working for the Israel Antiquities Authority, found the chisel last summer while digging at the lower base of the Western Wall, south of the Western Wall courtyard. However, the IAA has preferred to remain silent on the discovery, based on the need to study the tool and other evidence further before issuing any statements, it explained.

Shukron has been digging in the area of the City of David and the Western Wall together with Prof. Ronny Reich for the past 19 years, until a few months ago. In recent years Shukron had been excavating inside a tunnel found to lead from the City of David into the Old City, passing beneath its massive stone wall and ending at the Western Wall.


The chisel is just one of many archaeological treasures that Shukron and Reich reported from the area. Other finds include a Roman sword, cooking vessels from the period of the Great Rebellion, a gold bell that they think may have adorned the robe of the High Priest, and a ceramic seal apparently used to confirm the suitability of sacrifices brought to the Temple.


"People pray and kiss these holy stones every day, but somebody carved them, somebody chiseled them, somebody positioned them," Shukron says. "They were workers, human beings, who had tools. Today for the first time we can touch a chisel that belonged to one of them."

The full article in Haaretz (registration/subscription required) explains the basis for dating the construction of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount to one of the rulers after King Herod.

HT: Joseph Lauer

Chisel used in construction of Western Wall
Photo by Clara Amit, Israel Antiquities Authority

Temple Mount stones of western wall below street level, tb050312314

Western Wall excavations below the ancient street level near discovery location

Bill Caraher (The New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World)

Digging E.T.

So, this has been a bad week for our community and I am still in shock from what happened this weekend. At the same time, one of the last conversations I had with Joel was about the Atari excavation. He was so excited about it and wanted to hear about it as soon as I could officially tell him anything. (In fact, I had said that I would send along some unofficial updates via email as the project developed).

So this afternoon, I’m off to Alamogordo, New Mexico to excavate a landfill and to document the search for some 4-5 million discarded cartridges of the Atari game E.T. The team is sweet: Andrew Reinhard is our fearless leader, Richard Rothaus and K. Lindsay Eaves know how to do things, and Bret Weber and I will be there to theorize, contextualize, and learn. We’ll also be joined by Raiford Guins, author of Game After, Ernie Cline, author of Ready Player One, and a band of merry and accomplished filmmakers.  

I’ve blogged on locating this work in a larger conversation about the archaeology of late capitalism and in narrative strategies embraced by fantasy, fanboy, and gamer culture. I think we should also think about how excavating a landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico contributes to our image of the modern American West where high-tech industries intersect with open and unpopulated spaces and failed dreams. I’ll be leaning on Bret Weber’s expertise in Western History as we track the final journey of the games from the Atari distribution center in El Paso to the landfill in Alamogordo. 

While I am not sure whether we’ll be allowed (or have time) to tweet or blog from the dig, but if we can, I will. In the meantime follow the hashtag #diggingET to see what’s up.

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Where do they Stand on Antiquity Smuggling?

Hat tip to (see? I can agree with an FLO on some things).

The US Trade in Ancient Egyptian Artefacts: "Saving History"?

Robert A. Kraft discusses a series of eBay sales back in 2005-7 ("Pursuing Papyri and Papyrology by Way of eBay: A Preliminary Report") deriving from the accumulation of art collector/dealer Bruce P. Ferrini. What caught my eye were the very clear examples of larger pieces being dismembered into smaller pieces for better sales results. Kraft demoinstrates this in the case of a piece of cartonnage which later appeared on the market divided into small coloured fragments. What's the point of collecting these if not sheerly as trophies? There is little here for homegrown wannabe archaeologists to "study" (see the trite justifications currently being offered to CPAC for not allowing the US/Egypt MOU). 

Cartonnage fragment in Ferrini Collection when intact (left)
and (right) as sold [some of the pieces had already
been treated with acid to get the papyrus fragments out]
A similar situation was noted in the case of one of the hieratic textual pieces containing the text of the Book of the Dead which had been collected relatively intact and remained intact until at least 2004, but when some fragments turned up on eBay in 2005 onwards, it was realised that they had come from the mutilation of this item to get better sales results. David Howell found that the right side of the text had been divided into at least 19 pieces,  as shown on his  overlaid imageof the right side. 

David Howell's overlaid imageof the  Ferrini  Book of the Dead dismembered by dealers to sell it
There was also a demotic panel
that had been cut into at least 22 pieces that I can document (and probably a couple of additional pieces unknown to me) cost the various buyers (including myself, for one inexpensive token piece) a total of $761.72 , for an average price of $34.62 (from a low of $13.08 to a high of $84.00).  What the panel would have fetched when it was still intact is anyone's guess, but I suspect it would be much less than the $760 plus that was realized through the dismemberment.
Demotic panel cut into pieces for sale
"the handful of Arabic pieces also exhibited the  familiar slicing of a larger panel into multiple items".

These cases not only show that many collectors buying artefacts (irrespective of where they came from and how they came onto the market about which there are also serious questions) are really interested more in "having" than any more altruistic motives such as preserving or saving history, let alone researching or studying them. The case studied by Kraft also illustrates what can happen when a personal collection is split up. Far from the objects being "saved or preserved', they can then undergo further destruction in order to make a quick sale. There is no way this kind of treatment of ancient artefacts at private hands can be condoned, nor of course in an atmosphere of "collectors' rights" is there any way it can be stopped.

For the record, I do not approve the actions of Dr Kraft buying these items and  interacting with other collectors (all in the US?) who did so too. I am sure these people would say they were "saving information", but would argue that Kraft really has not produced all that much real, reliable information about the ancient world (as opposed to information about how awful the so-called legitimate antiquities trade is) from these activities. 

ASOR Blog (American Schools of Oriental Research)

Why We Love Archaeology (And You Should, Too)

Archaeology … that’s when people dig in the dirt and find fossils and artifacts that just go in a museum, right?

Wrong. It’s so much more than that. So, why is archaeology so important? First, archaeologists do not find “fossils,” that’s paleontology, which is not included under archaeology. Trust me, you don’t want to make that mistake.

So what exactly is archaeology? It’s the study of humans through the material culture and environmental data that they left behind. What is material culture? Think of it as the architecture, the pottery, the weapons, the tools, the cultural landscapes, and even the ‘trash’ of ancient cultures. That’s it. That’s the dry, on paper, bookworm definition of archaeology. Now that that’s out of the way, here’s why we love archaeology and why you should, too!

Time Travel
In a way, archaeology is a form of time travel. We can use artifacts and excavations to look at how people lived and interacted with each other in the past. While our time travel can’t change the past, which science fiction has taught us does more harm than good anyway, it can still change our understanding of the past and help us improve our futures.

Bring History to Life
Archaeology has the ability to make history a tangible thing to people who otherwise would have had a hard time relating. As the old saying goes, “Out of sight. Out of mind.” With archaeology, however, history is brought back into sight. Artifacts are being used in the classroom for a multitude of reasons. By seeing the tools used by people hundreds or thousands of years ago, we can see that even though people did things a little differently, we’re more similar than different. Just thinking about how old some of the objects found are, and what conditions had to be just right for them to survive, is astonishing. The Dead Sea Scrolls, for example, date back to between 385 BCE and 82 CE. Thousands of parchment and papyrus fragments survived that give us a glimpse into that time.

Allure of the Drama and Mystery
Every artifact tells a story and holds a mystery. What was it used for? Why is it there? Both are questions that archaeologists answer. Archaeologists have to use context clues and strong inference to answer many of the questions that arise. There’s always new evidence (clues) to be discovered either supporting or disproving a theory. Though, there’s always the chance a colleague will disagree with you. Some archaeological finds can become quite controversial.

There are still a lot of great mysteries (Like, what’s the meaning of Stonehenge?) to be solved. Archaeology can help us uncover what has been lost of our past, and by doing such, the possibilities for our future are endless.

Going Green
I’ve heard people say that ancient people were much more peaceful and took better care of the Earth. That isn’t entirely true. Bear with me, this is going to start off negative. While ancient cultures were not dropping atomic bombs or experiencing nuclear meltdowns, there were some cultures that completely destroyed their local ecosystems. Ancient civilizations weren’t always peaceful either, but that’s okay. Knowing how peoples in the past affected their environments or interacted, can help us determine the best strategy for solving modern pollution problems and conflicts today.

The ‘Me’ Factor
So, why is any of this important? How does this benefit anyone today? The research going on today has more benefits than I could possibly list. Well, I could list them, but then this post would be extraordinarily long. Instead, I’ll just describe a few. Archaeology can give us a fresh look at diseases that plagued past cultures, helping us improve the world of medicine today. It can help unlock code in our genetic makeup, leading to the origins of genetic ailments.

Now, let’s talk architecture. You want to build a new skyscraper? You’re going to need to call in a CRM (Cultural Resource Management) team to assess if you can build there. If where you’re looking to build has any cultural or heritage significance then you’ll have to find the proper way to continue your project. Boston’s ‘Big Dig’ project alone produced thousands of artifacts. Archaeology has a lot more to do with you than you may think.

We can look at the ‘mistakes’ made by past cultures, and hopefully not repeat them today. Alternatively, we can look at what they did in the past that worked and try to incorporate it into our present lives. How they traveled, how they ate, how they lived.

Archaeology is a grand adventure. Share this post on Facebook or Tweet it to your followers, and tell us why you love archaeology. With the recent closing of different museums and heritage sites, and threats of budget cuts, it’s important for people to see why archaeology is important. Why (in this case) the past shouldn’t stay in the past or be forgotten.


All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this blog or found by following any link on this blog. ASOR will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information. ASOR will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information. The opinions expressed by Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of ASOR or any employee thereof.

Archaeological News on Tumblr

Skeletons found in Suffolk water pipe dig

Nine human skeletons have been found by archaeologists excavating land to be used for a water pipeline in Suffolk.

Eight of them, found together near Barnham, are believed to date back to about AD300. Two of the bodies had been buried with a brooch and a knife.

The other skeleton was discovered at Rougham.

Anglian Water, which is installing a new pipeline to serve Bury St Edmunds, said items from the dig would be “kept in a secure museum archive”.

The dig took five months and also unearthed evidence of Anglo Saxon “grub huts” from the 6th Century, near Barnham. Read more.

Noel Tan (The Southeast Asian Archaeology Newsblog)

The mysterious carvings of Angono

Spotlight on the Angono Petroglyphs in the Philippines – one of the few rock art sites known in the Philippines (although there is some question about their age). Like most rock art sites, they are in danger from natural and man-made threats.

Students at the Angono Petroglyphs. Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer 20140421

Students at the Angono Petroglyphs. Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer 20140421

Ancient enigmatic carvings in danger of disappearing
AFP, via the Philippine Daily Inquirer, 21 April 2014

On a small rock wall a short drive from Manila, enigmatic carvings that are believed to date back 5,000 years are in danger of disappearing before their mysteries can be solved.

The 127 engravings of people, animals and geometric shapes are the Philippines’ oldest known artworks, but encroaching urbanization, vandals and the ravages of nature are growing threats.

“Eventually they will disappear … preservation is out of the question,” veteran anthropologist Jesus Peralta, who did an extensive and widely respected study of the carvings in the 1970s, told Agence France-Presse.

The artworks have been declared a national treasure, regarded as the best proof that relatively sophisticated societies existed in the Philippines in the Stone Age.

Full story here.

Thai sites to be 3D scanned

Archaeological sites in Thailand will soon be scanned with a 3D laser scanner, starting with Wat Chai Wattanaram temple in Ayutthaya.

US sending 3-D scanners to archaeological sites, starting with Chai Wattanaram temple in Ayutthaya
National News Bureau of Thailand, 21 April 2014

Mr. Anek Sihamat, Director General of the Fine Arts Department, said in a workshop that the United States has sent experts to help with archaeological site preservation, as well as a 3-D laser scanner in order to gather the most accurate data about archaeological sites.

Ayutthaya’s Chai Wattanaram temple will be the first site where this equipment will be used to evaluate the area, structure, height and design. Archaeologists from all over the country will be called in to study how this equipment works so 3-D scanners can be used to collect data throughout the country.

Full story here.

Jo Cook (Computing, GIS and Archaeology in the UK)

Portable GIS Update

It’s taken slightly longer than I’d like, but I’ve updated Portable GIS to include QGIS 2.2. You can find a copy of this new version on the portable gis page. I’ve included a zip file of the qgis2 folder for those that don’t want to install a full new version. You should be able to simply copy this over the existing apps/qgis2 folder, but you will lose any personalisations, such as new plugins etc that you’ve installed, so you have been warned!

Note that there’s a slight regression with this version- as I’m no longer claiming that QGIS Server and Map Viewer will work. I’ve had all sorts of trouble configuring these to work in the windows environment, let alone portable gis, and I wanted to get this release out without additional delay. When I get chance, I’ll get it finished, and believe me it will deserve a blog post and fanfare all of it’s own.

Also note that this is my first move away from using Dropbox as my file hosting service. Please bear with me if there are any problems with the link!

ArcheoNet BE

Kroniek van een huis: Stijn Streuvels en het Lijsternest

Schrijver Stijn Streuvels bouwde in 1905 het Lijsternest, een eigen stek in Ingooigem. Hij zou er zijn leven lang aan blijven werken. De Provincie West-Vlaanderen kocht de schrijverswoning in 1977 en ontsloot ze voor het publiek. De fotocollectie, een deel van de boeken en talrijke documenten werden toen naar de Provinciale Bibliotheek overgebracht. Naar aanleiding van de opening van het gerestaureerde Lijsternest loopt in de Provinciale Bibliotheek in Brugge vanaf zondag een tentoonstelling met collectiestukken en foto’s over het Lijsternest en de lotgevallen van de inboedel.

Foto’s van Stefan Dewickere, gemaakt in opdracht van de Provincie, gunnen de bezoeker een kijk in het gerestaureerde huis.

Praktisch: de tentoonstelling ‘Kroniek van een huis’ loopt van 27 april tot 7 juni 2014 in de Provinciale Bibliotheek Tolhuis in Brugge. Openingsuren zijn van ma-vr (9.00-12.30 u. / 13.30-17.00 u.) en op zaterdag (9.00-12.00 u.). Naar aanleiding van de heropening en de tentoonstelling in de Provinciale Bibliotheek Tolhuis verschijnt een speciaal nummer van het provinciaal erfgoedtijdschrift ‘In de Steigers’ (2014-1). Meer info op

Archaeology and Arts: Αρχαιολογία Online

The Talisman: A Critical Genealogy

The Talisman: A Critical Genealogy is part of the College Art Association 103rd Annual Conference, which will take place on February 11-14, 2015 in New York City.

The post The Talisman: A Critical Genealogy appeared first on Αρχαιολογία Online.

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Annotated Corpus of Luwian Texts

Annotated Corpus of Luwian Texts
This is a pilot version of the Annotated Corpus of Luwian Texts (ACLT). So far it comprises the analysis the texts included in the published volumes of the Corpus of Hieroglyphic Luwian Inscriptions (CHLI) by J. David Hawkins. This initial phase of this project has been completed with the assistance of a research grant of the Corpus Linguistics Program sponsored by the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Dr. Ilya Yakubovich acted as the principal investigator of the project, whose team consisted of Dr. Timofey Arkhangelskiy, Mr. Sergey Boroday, and Dr. Alexei Kassian. The extension of the corpus to other Luwian texts is planned for the near future, with the eventual goal of preparing a corpus-based Luwian dictionary. The lexicographic work on the Luwian texts is further facilitated by a Humboldt Fellowship tenured by Ilya Yakubovich at the Philipps Universität Marburg in 2013–15. Special thanks go to Martien Dillo for his corrections and suggestions.

A special feature of the Luwian corpus, which sets it apart from the electronic corpora of better-known languages, is the absence of an up-to-date Luwian dictionary in hieroglyphic transmission. The compilation of the corpus could hardly be separated from deciphering the Anatolian Hieroglyphs and interpreting the Luwian lexicon. This is why the interface of the corpus contains the provisional Luwian glossary, whose lemmata can be used as entries for automated search. Ilya Yakubovich takes the entire responsibility for the interpretative transliteration conventions adopted in the glossary. The narrow transliteration used in the corpus generally follows the system of the CHLI but incorporates several modifications reflecting the recent progress in the Luwian Studies.

The present corpus is not meant to represent a final product. The corrections of both linguistic and technical errors will be warmly welcomed. For linguistic issues, please contact Ilya Yakubovich ( For possible problems with computer interface, please contact Timofey Arkhangelskiy ( If you wish to cite the new interpretations offered in the corpus, you can give credit to the ACLT (together with its URL).

Jim Davila (

Queen Helena of Adiabene's sarcophagus?

BIBLE HISTORY DAILY: The Tomb of Queen Helena of Adiabene. Steven Notley and Jeffrey P. García disagree with the widely accepted position that the Aramaic-inscription-bearing sarcophagus from the "Tomb of the Kings" in Jerusalem belonged to Queen Helena, although they do think that she was buried there in a different chamber.

For more on Queen Helena and that sarcophagus, see here and here.

Antiquity Now

Bon Appetit Wednesday! Savory Strawberry Soup

Tiny, red and packed with flavor, this delectable little fruit has deep historical roots. Heart-shaped and fragrant, the strawberry has inspired poets, writers, painters and chefs with its plump perfection. William Allen Butler said it best, “Doubtless God could have … Continue reading

Jim Davila (

Samaritan Passover 2014

SLIDESHOW: A Passover ceremony at Mount Gerizim (Haaretz). The Samaritan Passover runs on a slightly different calendar from that of the Jewish Passover.

Past posts on Samaritan Passover are here and links.

More doubts about the GJW

MARK GOODACRE: More doubts surface on the Jesus Wife Fragment. The doubts are raised by Owen Jarus at LiveScience: 'Gospel of Jesus's Wife': Doubts Raised About Ancient Text. The problem is that, according to an estate representative, the now dead West German man who supposedly provided the papyrus was not an antiquities collector and did not own papyri. Not conclusive, but interesting and worth following up further.

Mark also links to a recent video interview with Karen King here.

Background on the GJW is here and links.

Bryn Mawr Classical Review

2014.04.36: The Settlement and Architecture of Lerna IV. Lerna: results of excavations conducted by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 6

Review of Elizabeth Courtney Banks, The Settlement and Architecture of Lerna IV. Lerna: results of excavations conducted by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 6. Princeton: 2013. Pp. xx, 484. $150.00. ISBN 9780876613061.

2014.04.35: Image and Myth: A History of Pictorial Narration in Greek Art. (Translated by Joseph O'Donnell; first published 2003)

Review of Luca Giuliani, Image and Myth: A History of Pictorial Narration in Greek Art. (Translated by Joseph O'Donnell; first published 2003). Chicago; London: 2013. Pp. xix, 335. $65.00. ISBN 9780226297651.

2014.04.34: Archives et bibliothèques dans le monde grec: édifices et organisation, Ve siècle avant notre ère - IIe siècle de notre ère. BAR international series, S2536

Review of Gaëlle Coqueugniot, Archives et bibliothèques dans le monde grec: édifices et organisation, Ve siècle avant notre ère - IIe siècle de notre ère. BAR international series, S2536. Oxford: 2013. Pp. xi, 168. £31.00. ISBN 9781407311548.

K. Kris Hearst ( archaeology)

New Support for the Southern Dispersal Route

A new article in the journal Proceedings of the National Science this week provides support for the Southern Dispersal Route, the most-recently identified migration route for human beings out of Africa.


Read Full Post

Archaeology and Arts: Αρχαιολογία Online

Educating the Future Pharaohs

Egyptologist claims that beyond the general assumption that the kings of ancient Egypt and their kin could read and write, there is also actual material evidence to prove it.

The post Educating the Future Pharaohs appeared first on Αρχαιολογία Online.

Samuel Hardy (Conflict Antiquities)

caution in discussion of violence amidst propaganda, provocation and fear

Because of local community choices, I have been reluctant to discuss violence against the cultural property of minority communities in Ukraine. Difficulty and disruption in reporting and discussion There is a lot of propaganda, and the evidence is sometimes limited or difficult to confirm, which makes it difficult to report events in the first place. […]

Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

Aperte le iscrizioni a TECHNOLOGYforALL 2014

technologyforall2014coverSono aperte le iscrizioni a TECHNOLOGYforALL 2014, il Forum dell’Innovazione dedicato alle Tecnologie per il Territorio, per la Città Intelligente, per i Beni Culturali. TECHNOLOGYforALL si svolgerà a Roma il 4 e 5 giugno 2014. La partecipazione alle tre Conferenze è completamente gratuita. E' in fase di definizione il rilascio di Crediti Formativi da parte dei competenti Ordini Professionali.

Vai al modulo di iscrizione sul web.

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Central Searchers' Claim Untrue?

Central Searchers metal detectorists claimed yesterday that "their" FLO "is only interested in the good stuff not broken artefacts and roman grots". Julie Cassidy says this is untrue. She tweets:
statement is demonstrably false, esp the part about not recording broken artefacts. Only need to look at database to see that
It just so happen that the top dozen or so artefacts in the list of those recorded by Ms Cassidy are substantially complete, but we'll take her word for it that the Northampton FLO does not turn away fragments of objects. As for the number of "Roman grots" recorded, the same list shows that in her time with the PAS, she's recorded 595 Late Roman Bronzes and barb-rads (what I assume is meant by the term). Hardly enough to fill a coin zapper's kilogramme bag of "unsorted".

PAS Database not a True Sample? Coin Finds Ignored?

A few weeks ago I was discussing a presentation by Helen Geake who was suggesting that the manner in which the information about archaeological finds made by the public differed from the range of artefacts discovered by professionals in excavations was significant in archaeological terms. She was interpreting this in terms of deposition processes. I pointed out that the PASD data was selective because collectors pick up finds differently from archaeologists (what is archaeological evidence is not always a "collectable"). A metal detectorist from central England highlights another problem. Gill Evans of Central Searchers organizes metal detecting rallies commercially, she says that the reason why very few of the finds from these events seem to be getting into the PAS database is that "our FLO has a standing invite to our digs but we never see her". In any case, according to Ms Evans' observations, the FLO "is only interested in the good stuff not broken artefacts and roman grots". If this is what is indeed happening, this is an amazingly un-archaeological manner of selecting data for the database, on completeness and missing out a whole category of archaeological evidence for site use - in what way can one study the Roman coinage of Britain using the PAS database if the basic record is missing unknown numbers of items negatively selected out for their "grottiness'? How is that criterion even defined in archaeological terms?

So what would be the effect of such practices on studies such as Philippa Walton's: Rethinking Roman Britain: Coinage and Archaeology (Moneta Monograph No. 137)? How can one "rethink" anything when part of the database one is relying on is skewed from the outset? In what manner can this 'non-grot-factor' be compensated for in the study of the material?  Can it?

The MOU Comedy Chorus Begins

The first 13 public comments on the Egypt MOU are up on the US Regulations website. Two of them  by Rick St Hilaire and Damien Huffer are worth reading. The other 11 are by  lost limp-minded souls who think Ancient Egyptians produced coins, coins which they study and the whole world would be a far poorer place if these home-grown scholars of "Ancient Egyptian coins" could  not get their hands on "Ancient Egyptian coins". Oh dear, Amenhotep dirhems, Hatshepsut denars and the boy-king Tutanknhamun's minimissimi will have to be studied by those who know more about such things than these pathetic numpties singing in vacant chorus from the ACCG's Tompa's songsheet. Mind you one of them counts himself as the greatest numismatic scholar in the whole of Montana, what Warren Esty does not know about the die links of coins of the First Intermediate Period is probably not worth knowing.

Vignette: A chorus of, for the most part, ridiculous looking people

More from UK's Detectorists on PAS' Selectivity in Recording

I pointed out a comment the other day about the PAS FLO not recording certain items brought to them by metal detectorists, despite their eligibility for inclusion on the PAS database. It seems this notion does not fit with the cosy world view of academics who support the PAS, so somebody [who later turned out to be Philippa Walton] wrote back disgruntled that I was giving such comments an airing on my blog. It seems to me however that the voice of finders seeing what happens to the objects they bring in for recording really should not be ignored, for two reasons. The first the obvious one, they are the only ones who know what they've found and what they took in for reporting, and what then happened. The second reason is that if untrue information is being spread among the metal detecting community as fact, it should be a task of PAS outreach to investigate the claims, verify the facts and then rectify and clarify. None of which will they, of course, actually do.

One of the people who knows this is the member of a metal detecting near all of us (Dr Philippa Walton too)  "Alloverover" (Sat Jan 12, 2013 10:40 pm ), who writes:
PAS used to record anything you took to them over 300 years old, small bits of buckle, a broken brooch etc, the smallest thing as long as it could be ID,ed, [...] They (in my recent experience) have now totally changed their ethos due to lack of money, resources time and interest of FLO's ( the standard of whom seem to have dropped considerably, not surprising considering the remuneration on offer ). In my most recent attempt to record finds via an FLO, i was told that they have to now prioritize what they record, so of 9 or 10 items i wanted to record 5 or 6 were deemed unworthy of the effort, these items of insufficient interest included a couple of celtic units, i dont even think the young lady realized what they were until she was told.
and this is before the introduction of the karaoke FLOs. As All-over says "good grief", appalling. Then a little later we hear the same thing again from "Chris D" (Sun Jan 13, 2013 4:20 am): 
Yes quiet agree about the PAS scheme [...] Recently i get the impresion that they are only really interested in recording treasure cases, hoards or something significant they can put there name to, rather than the buckles, buttons,single hammered coins, iron medieval horse shoes etc which all help to build up the bigger picture
Member "Geoman" has a more detailed explanation of how this is happening and why (Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:12 pm):
The FLO's seem to have been advised by their local ? managers to be selective in what they record which begs the question why are some items of more interest than others ? Remember all FLO's have local managers who are frequently based in the County Archaeological Dept and will have their own agendas as to what the FLO is to do. The London PAS office has a very limited input to FLO management. I would assume that they wish to have details of older archaeological material which once passed onto the County HER can be used to feed into the many Higher Level Stewardship applications. 
Geoman has a well-known fixation with HLS agreements and has a conspiracy theory as to why selective recording is happening. If the PAS is selecting material due to lack of time and funding to get through the masses of material brought in and lying around their offices for months on end unrecorded (another frequent topic on the detecting forums which anyone going there will be aware of), there must be an internal policy document setting out nationally-standardised guidelines for this. What does it say? What are the statistics of this?

Heritage Bytes

DINAA Poster Symposium Sneak Peek

DINAA-posterHere’s the first of several posters about the DINAA project that will be presented at the SAAs this week in Austin.

About the Poster: Yes, this poster is printed on fabric. With a tip from a colleague on Twitter, we discovered Spoonflower, a company that prints on fabric. What a result!! The fabric poster is on wrinkle-free material, the colors are accurate, and the printing is as sharp as if it were on paper. The poster folds up to the size of a wallet, so you can literally pack this thing inside a shoe in your luggage. And the best part about it is that it only cost $25 and arrived a week earlier than scheduled. Wow! Here is the blog post with simple instructions on how to make your own.

About the Research: The poster’s content is equally as exciting. The DINAA project publishes the most comprehensive record of settlement in North American spanning the Pleistocene through recent historical past. Site definitions and descriptions from project partner SHPOs are used as open government data to form a robust base layer of information. As of the spring 2014, our team has successfully integrated and published records created by state government officials documenting over 270,000 archaeological sites from eight states east of the Mississippi. The data include rich chronological, legal, and environmental metadata used by government officials and the research community alike. The poster discusses the challenges of integrating and visualizing data at vastly different scales—from the scale of continents to the scale of individual object records at a given site. It also presents how the project is dealing with visualizing both space and time, with time as a type of metadata that presents special complications in navigating and visualizing archaeological data.

Attending the SAA meeting? Come see more at the DINAA Poster Symposium [session 81]- Thursday, 24 April, 2-4 pm (Ballroom F)

Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Deep Digger Dan Goes Nazi

"I love soldiers and dressing up as one"
Showing complete disregard for the discussion that was going on in collecting circles (too) about "Nazi War Diggers", immensely popular metal detectorist iconDeep Digger Dan in his latest video (Apr 14, 2014) is wearing a Nazi helmet, saying how much he "loves soldiers", but trying ineffectually to hide the left side where we see a large blast hole in it. In general, holes like that indicate that somebody died in that helmet which was then dug up among scattered human remains on a WW2 battlefield. Did DDD dig that up himself, or did he buy it from somebody who did?

"Ignore the hole, please, it's not what you think".
Anyway, he gaily announces in the film that you'll see him walking own the street in Flamborough wearing this helmet. That's nice for him that he lives in the UK where (unlike here where I am) he'll not run the risk of being arrested for it. But then many men of his age (including some remembered by people still alive) died a few decades ago to prevent people walking down the streets of an English town wearing such a helmet. What kind of people are these metal detectorists?

Ancient Art

Double-chambered vessel with monkey. Veracruz, ca. 600-900 (Late...

Double-chambered vessel with monkey. Veracruz, ca. 600-900 (Late Classic).

Veracruz sculpture is among the most admired of ancient Mesoamerica yet its study has long been subsumed under the aegis of the highly visible Teotihuacan and Maya civilizations. Veracruz refers to the central Gulf Coast of Mexico and has served loosley as a stylistic designation for all art eminating from the region. Its art reflects the influences of both Teotihuacan and Maya as well as a distinct aesthetic that developed locally.

[…] Seemingly free from the constraints of their neighboring super powers, Veracruz ceramicists sculpted naturalistic, highly animated human figures, animals and supernaturals. Facial expressions and disctinct hand gestures are the most striking features of figural ceramics. This double-chambered vessel combines a simple flask with the body of a monkey, and can aptly be described as an effigy bottle. The elaborate scroll patterning in the cartouches is most closely associated with the art of Classic Veracruz, where the vessel is said to originate.

Courtesy of & currently located at the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, USA, via their online collections. Accession Number: 48.2774.

April 22, 2014

Mary Harrsch (Passionate About History)

DVD Review: Civil War: The Untold Story (of the western theater)

A history resource article by Mary Harrsch © 2014

Next week RLJ Entertainment will be releasing the new DVD series "Civil War: The Untold Story".  I know many of you Civil War buffs may be wondering how there could be anything about the Civil War that hasn't been told before, but this series, unlike a lot of others I have seen, focuses on the battles of the "west" which the producers claim actually led to the ultimate Union victory.

Now as someone from Oregon, I hardly think of Tennesssee as "the west" but it was, as far as the scope of the Civil War was concerned.  This series closely examines the battles of Shiloh, Stone's River, Vicksburg, Chattanooga and Chickamauga as well as Sherman's infamous march across Georgia that wasn't as one sided as many other programs have led us to believe.

These conflicts were particularly interesting to me because back in 1993 when my husband and I were helping my daughter move to the east coast, we visited almost all of the national military parks where these battles occurred on our way home, although we visited the sites in reverse, starting our journey at Fort Sumpter then traveling south to Savannah before swinging east to the site of the Confederate prisoner-of-war camp at Andersonville.  Then we drove on to Atlanta then Chatanooga, stopping at the Chickamauga National Battlefield, probably the largest military park on our trip.  Pressing on we drove to Stone's River then Franklin and finally visited our last Civil War cemetery at Shiloh.  The visitor's centers had excellent presentations about the battles, particularly at Chickamauga where the Park Service had just installed a new multimedia theater-in-the-round-type exhibit.  So receiving a review copy of this DVD set was like reliving that unforgettable trip!

The series begins with a discussion of the economic history of slavery.  I didn't realize that slavery was on the decline in the late 18th century until Eli Witney invented the cotton gin.  I remembered how, as a girl, I studied famous inventors like Eli Witney and his cotton gin.  Back in the 50s, though, school teachers did not point to the cotton gin as one of the primary reasons for the outbreak of the Civil War.
The documentary explains that, although the cotton gin was a labor-saving device, it made the cotton cleaning process so efficient that it made the growth of cotton far more profitable than almost any other crop.  Cotton exports jumped from 500,000 pounds in 1793 to 93 million pounds in 1810.  Cotton became as important to the U.S. economy as oil is today.

So, there was a land rush to develop more and more acres into cotton fields.  This corresponded to the increasing acquisition of land during the "manifest destiny" period of U.S. growth.  But, politically, there were sharp differences in opinion about whether newly admitted states would then have to legally sanction slavery viewed by some as necessary for cotton development.

The program was quite candid in pointing out that northerners, with the exception of a few passionate abolitionists, had no real objections to slavery as a labor strategy.  Researchers stated simply that white northeners didn't appreciate the racial "pollution" slavery introduced.   Apparently, successful black individuals in the north,  like Solomon Northup portrayed in "12 years a slave", were an extremely rare exception.

19th century Caricature of the so-called Hottentot
Venus.  Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
I had never heard about the so-called Hottentot Venus, a rather large African woman named Saartje Baartman, who was sold into slavery.  She was exhibited by showmen in London and Paris because of large fatty deposits on her buttocks.  After her death in 1815, famous French anatomist Georges Cuvier, performed an autopsy on her body, claiming it clearly showed that Africans were more closely related to such primates as orangutans and monkeys, than humans.  These types of studies not only reinforced attitudes of racial superiority in the north but the opinion that slavery actually served to civilize such unfortunate individuals in the south.

I was also surprised to learn that four slave states actually stayed with the Union throughout the Civil War.  Slavery was still legally recognized by the federal government and the Emancipation Proclamation only applied to the states in rebellion as a war measure intended to cripple the Confederacy.

The other military goal accomplished by the Emancipation Proclamation was that it successfully prevented the involvement of foreign nations in the struggle.  Britain and France actually considered supporting the Confederacy, since they imported most of the American cotton crop that was sold for export. But, many Europeans opposed slavery as an institution so Lincoln's directive along with a significant Union victory at Antietam successfully influenced foreign powers to maintain a "hands off" policy.

The series then shifts to an examination of military objectives of the Civil War.

From a military standpoint, reclamation of the important economic highway of the Mississippi River was paramount to defeating the Confederacy.  Yet, it appeared to me that Confederate leaders seemed to think there was more importance in victory at the high profile battles along the eastern seaboard (the Civil War version of winning hearts and minds) than in protecting the vital commerce artery of the Mississippi River in the west.  The most famous Confederate generals such as Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were assigned to those eastern theaters of war, while the battle for control of the Mississippi was relegated to Generals Albert Sidney Johnston, Braxton Bragg and John Bell Hood, names much less familiar to people like me that have not studied the Civil War as intensely as I have battles of the ancient world.

Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia
I use the word relegated as if Johnston, Bragg and Hood were lesser commanders but that was not necessarily the case.  Johnston was an experienced combat veteran, fighting and directing engagements in the Texas War of Independence, the Mexican-American War, the Utah War and the American Civil War.  Johnston was actually considered to be the finest general officer in the Confederacy by Confederate President Jefferson Davis.  But this did not prevent Davis from distributing most of the Confederate resources to the eastern front.

Johnston had to supply his troops by conducting raids and engaging in maneuvers that made it appear that he had larger forces than he actually did.  My additional research revealed that this was compounded by the assignment of support staff that were either incompetent or frequently intoxicated.

Despite all of these obstacles, Johnston still managed to pull off a massive surprise attack against Ulysses S. Grant on the first day at the battle of Shiloh, despite being delayed for three days by adverse weather.  Grant just couldn't imagine Johnston would leave his well fortified position at Corinth to confront Grant in the field.  The surprise maneuver almost worked, with Confederates overcoming bitter Union opposition at the "Peach Orchard" and the "Hornet's Nest".  But, Johnston, charging back and forth ahead of the advancing Confederate line, was shot behind the right knee, possibly by one of his own soldiers .  The bullet cut a major artery and Johnston, seemingly unaware of the seriousness of the wound, bled to death.  The three days lost to bad weather would also prove fatal.

The epic struggle at the "Hornet's Nest" on the first day of the battle of  Shiloh.
Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

By the second day, Grant, with control of the vital Tennessee River,  received reinforcements bringing total Union troops to 45,000 men to the Confederates'  remaining viable troops estimated at only about 20,000.  To make matters worse, Confederate General Beauregard, unaware of the Union reinforcements, pressed Grant, only to be driven back.  Later counterattacks were eventually repulsed as well. So, Confederate forces finally had to fall back to the heavily defended railroad center at Corinth.

It makes you wonder if Grant had faced the more formidable Johnston on the second day and the battle had occurred on schedule, if the outcome would have been different.

Later in the series as the researchers discussed the campaigns of Sherman in Atlanta, I was surprised to learn about the Confederate successes at Kennesaw Mountain and the more aggressive resistance in Atlanta after command was given to General John Bell Hood.  As my husband and I did not visit any Civil War museums in Atlanta, I only remember Hood as a Confederate general who had suffered severe casualties at the battle of Franklin (where we did stop) in an action sometimes known as the "Pickett's Charge of the West".

Confederate General Braxton Bragg.  Image
courtesy of Wikipedia.
The other Confederate general I enjoyed learning more about was Braxton Bragg.  When I first saw a picture of him at the Chickamauga National Battlefield Visitors' Center, I thought he looked a lot like John Brown with his bushy brows and rather wild look in his eyes.  But this surly officer orchestrated what has been called the greatest Confederate victory in the Western Theater, defeating Union General William S. Rosecrans at the battle of Chicamauga.

As for other political issues of the Civil War, I had never read about George McClellan's run against Abraham Lincoln for president or that if Sherman had not taken Atlanta at the time he did, Lincoln may have lost to powerful and vocal northern supporters in favor of a truce that would have ended in two separate nations.  So I found all of this background information fascinating.

As for the production quality of the DVD set, I thought the reenactment sequences were very well done with very life-like special battle effects and the cinematography was excellent.  Elizabeth McGovern's narration was articulate and quite empathetic.  I much preferred her voice to the rather harsh newsbroadcaster voiceovers I have heard in other presentations.

The series will premiere tonight (April 22, 2014) on a number of public television channels and the DVD set will be available for purchase next week.  I highly recommend it!

Related articles
Enhanced by Zemanta

Compitum - publications

S. Morlet, Christianisme et philosophie. Les premières confrontations (Ier-VIe siècle)


Sébastien Morlet, Christianisme et philosophie. Les premières confrontations (Ier-VIe siècle), Paris, 2014.

Éditeur : Livre de poche
Collection : Antiquité
264 pages
ISBN : 9782253156505

Dans l'Antiquité, christianisme et philosophie se font face comme deux voies d'accès à la vérité : l'une, par le moyen de la foi, l'autre, par la recherche rationnelle. Les rapports du christianisme et de la philosophie sont cependant plus complexes. Les néoplatoniciens accordent une place grandissante aux éléments extra-rationnels et en viennent à ne plus considérer la raison comme la seule voie d'accès au savoir. Inversement, les chrétiens reconnaissent une certaine vérité dans la philosophie et lui accordent un rôle préliminaire dans l'acquisition de la sagesse. Souvent convaincus que la révélation biblique est la source du savoir grec, les chrétiens présentent leur religion comme la seule « vraie philosophie ». Ce livre retrace les grandes lignes d'une confrontation qui joua un rôle capital dans la formation de la doctrine chrétienne comme dans la transmission de la culture gréco-romaine. Il amène à réviser certaines idées reçues sur le christianisme et son rapport à la raison.


Source : Amazon

Dienekes' Anthropology Blog

Neandertal populations were small (+ differences along the Neandertal/sapiens evolutionary lineages)

PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.1405138111

Patterns of coding variation in the complete exomes of three Neandertals

Sergi Castellano et al.

We present the DNA sequence of 17,367 protein-coding genes in two Neandertals from Spain and Croatia and analyze them together with the genome sequence recently determined from a Neandertal from southern Siberia. Comparisons with present-day humans from Africa, Europe, and Asia reveal that genetic diversity among Neandertals was remarkably low, and that they carried a higher proportion of amino acid-changing (nonsynonymous) alleles inferred to alter protein structure or function than present-day humans. Thus, Neandertals across Eurasia had a smaller long-term effective population than present-day humans. We also identify amino acid substitutions in Neandertals and present-day humans that may underlie phenotypic differences between the two groups. We find that genes involved in skeletal morphology have changed more in the lineage leading to Neandertals than in the ancestral lineage common to archaic and modern humans, whereas genes involved in behavior and pigmentation have changed more on the modern human lineage.


ArcheoNet BE

Archeologen aan de slag tussen Walem en Tisselt

Naar aanleiding van de aanleg van een nieuwe waterleiding tussen Walem en Tisselt, in de buurt van Mechelen, voeren archeologen van BAAC Vlaanderen momenteel een onderzoek uit langs het geplande tracé. Over een lengte van bijna tien kilometer werden een boorcampagne en een proefsleuvenonderzoek uitgevoerd. De boringen leverden drie steentijdlocaties op, de proefsleuven drie grondsporensites. Laatstgenoemde zijn reeds opgegraven. Voorlopig zijn de sporen gedateerd in de ijzertijd en Romeinse periode.

Op de steentijdlocaties in Heffen wordt momenteel nog opgegraven. Binnen een uitgezet grid werden proefvakjes van 50×50 cm op regelmatige afstand van elkaar uitgegraven in laagjes van 5 cm. Deze monsters werden gezeefd. Op basis van de resultaten van deze eerste fase werden meerdere vakjes uitgezet die volgens dezelfde methode worden onderzocht.

De huidige opgravingszone bevindt zich op een hoge zandkop aan de oever van een paleomeander. Al in 1963 werd ten noordoosten van deze locatie een opgraving uitgevoerd. Deze leverde onder andere een Romeins afvalpakket en een ijzertijdvondstlaag op met een ‘menggroep aardewerk’. Bovendien werden 22 stukken silex gevonden.

De hedendaagse opgraving heeft tot nu toe eveneens een grote hoeveelheid scherven opgeleverd. Het merendeel is handgevormd en lijkt met name in de metaaltijden te dateren. Een klein deel is gedraaid en dateert in de Romeinse periode. Bovendien wordt met name de spreiding van het silexmateriaal in kaart gebracht. Op basis van de hoeveelheden en spreiding lijkt de opgraving zich in de randzone van een steentijdvindplaats te bevinden. Het materiaal bestaat grotendeels uit vers uitziend debitagemateriaal, hoewel ook (fragmenten van) kleine geretoucheerde werktuigen zijn gevonden.

Het onderzoek kwam vorige week ook aan bod op de regionale tv-zender RTV. Bekijk de reportage op

Mary Beard (A Don's Life)

Catiline -- redivivus


It is the beginning of the Cambridge term (officially starting today) -- but there is a funny lull between the students returning, doing their first piece of work, and things really getting going for ME. I'm having the Newnham first and second years around on Sunday night (and we are going to have a drink or two and watch a Roman tv programme -- not mine -- and talk about the point etc).  I am looking forward on Thursday to re-meeting one of my excellent Berkeley graduates (from back when I was doing the Sathers), who is passing through Cambridge. And on Friday Lin Foxhall is coming from Leicester to give the Jane Harrison lecture at college (on the public face of archaeology). Plus dinner (no free port!).

Meanwhile I am getting the first chapter of the new book in my head.

I am starting with Catiline in 63 BC (before going back to Romulus). That's partly because we know such a lot about his so-called "conspiracy", from contemporary accounts and later (it doesnt make it simple to unpick, but there is a richness there which I think will grip people to the cutting edge of Roman history).

But I am also interested in the long literary history of Catline's up-rising, and the different ways it has been appropriated in modern political history. That goes from Ibsen's radical democratic freedom-fighter to Ben Jonson's ambivalent Guy Fawkes look-alike -- or Dante's villain.

It's striking that the phrase -- "Quousque tandem.." -- that Cicero used at the very beginning of his first attack on Catiline (as it is "published" in the First Catilinarian) has had such a long life. It gets quoted and requoted in the ancient world (Sallust in his essay on the conspiracy neatly puts it into the mouth of Catiline himself, and Livy conscripts it to add colour to an early Republican conspiracy). But it survives as a political (and cutural) slogan right up to the present day. If anyone knows anything more recent than Hungarian protests a few years ago, I'd love to know.

So it seems a good incident and text to dwell on, when launching thoughts about the continuing resonance of Roman history. Hope it works.

Sorry by the way: Typepad has been a bit iffy these last few days; hope you have got on the blog.



Archaeological News on Tumblr

Historic Ottoman globe mysteriously disappears in Istanbul

A 174-year-old marble globe in the middle of Istanbul’s historical peninsula went missing last month, daily Milliyet reported on April 22.

The globe came from a shrine, ordered to be built by Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecid for his father Mahmud II in the Çemberlitaş neighborhood in 1840. The Ottoman-Armenian royal architects Ohannes and Bogos Dadyan completed the shrine in empirical style, including a 2.5-meter high drinking fountain on one of its corners, which was also decorated with a 70 cm-wide marble globe.

Officials from the Directorate of Shrines cannot explain how the globe was lost. Read more.

Ancient Cave in Spain Could Hold Origins of the Study of Astronomy

A cave located on Spain’s Canary Islands, in what was probably the aboriginal region of Artevigua, could reveal an unsuspected knowledge of astronomy by the ancient islanders since it marks equinoxes and solstices, while inside it the light recreates images related to fertility.

The cave was used as a temple and, besides its astronomical function, the light creates in its interior a mythological account of fertility, the likes of which exist nowhere else in the world,” archaeologist Julio Cuenca, who has investigated the area since the 1990s, said.

“It’s like a projector of images from a vanished culture,” Cuenca told Efe, adding that during a six-month period the light creates phallic images on cave walls that are covered with engravings of female pubic triangles. Read more.

Open Access Archaeology

Open Access Archaeology Digest #396

Get some Open Access (free to read) Archaeology articles here:

A further note on the Biggar find

Notes of an Examination of ‘The Devil’s Dyke’, in Dumfriesshire.

Revisiting the Little Sycamore Site: An Early Period Millingstone Site along the Santa Monica Coastline

Learn more about Open Access and Archaeology at:

Archaeology Magazine

Chili Peppers First Cultivated in Central Mexico

DAVIS, CALIFORNIA—Chili peppers were first domesticated in central-east Mexico, according to plant scientist Paul Gepts of the University of California, Davis, who led a study of genetic, archaeological, linguistic, and archaeological evidence. Traces of the easily-transported chili pepper, or Capiscum annum, has been found in Romero Cave in eastern Mexico, and from Coxcatlán Cave, located further south. These two samples are between 7,000 and 9,000 years old. “By tracing back the ancestry of any domesticated plant, we can better understand the genetic evolution of that species and the origin of agriculture—a major step in human evolution in different regions of the world,” Gepts told Live Science.