Maia Atlantis: Ancient World Blogs

0 sec ago 12,000-Year-Old Fish Hooks Unearthed in Indonesia << Archaeology Magazine

Alor fish hooksCANBERRA, AUSTRALIA—According to a report in The International Business Times, five fishhooks made of sea snail shell have been found in a 12,000-year-old burial on Indonesia’s Alor Island. The hooks—one in the shape of a “J,” and four crescent-shaped—had been placed around the chin and jaw of the deceased, who is thought to have been a woman. Sue O’Connor of the Australian National University explained that the hooks are the oldest known to have been found in a burial, and must have been deemed to be essential for survival in the afterlife. She also notes it had been previously thought that most fishing on the islands at the time had been carried out by men. Older fishhooks have been elsewhere in the world, but they were not associated with burial rites. To read about a pair of 23,000-year-old fishhooks found in Japan, go to “Japan's Early Anglers.”

0 sec ago Two New Kingdom Tombs Opened in Luxor << Archaeology Magazine

Luxor two tombsLUXOR, EGYPT—Ahram Online reports that two tombs dating to the New Kingdom period have been opened in the Draa Abul-Naglaa necropolis. The tombs were discovered in the 1990s by German archaeologist Frederica Kampp. One of the tombs contained fragments of wooden masks, including one that had been part of a coffin, and one that had been gilded. Four wooden chair legs, and the lower part of a coffin decorated with a scene of the goddess Isis were also found. The second tomb contained a mummy. It may have belonged to Djehuty Mes, whose name is inscribed at the entrance to a long hall, where the cartouche of King Thutmose I is inscribed on the ceiling. The names of a scribe, Maati, and his wife, Mehi, were also found on half of the 100 funerary cones in the tomb. A scene of a seated man offering food to four oxen, and five people making funerary furniture, adorns a pillar in the tomb, which also contained painted wooden masks, more than 400 statues made of clay, wood, and faience, and a small box shaped like a coffin that may have been used to store an Ushabti figurine. To read more about archaeology in Egypt, go to “In the Time of the Rosetta Stone.”

4 hours 37 min ago La Guerre des Juifs de Flavius Josèphe. Intertextualité et interculturalité << Antiquitas (Sciences de l'Antiquité à l'Université de Lorraine)

Dans le cadre du Séminaire International d’Histoire Ancienne, Serge Bardet, Professeur d’histoire ancienne à l’Université d’Évry, donnera une conférence ayant pour thème : «La Guerre des Juifs de Flavius Josèphe. Intertextualité et interculturalité ». La conférence aura lieu le jeudi 14 décembre 2017 à 18h. au CLSH de Nancy (Salle des Actes G04).

On cherchera à montrer que la Guerre des Juifs entretient des liens étroits avec d’autres œuvres antiques, en particulier l’Iliade d’Homère et les Lamentations (dites de Jérémie), sans oublier le géographe Strabon. La mise en lumière de ces liens sera l’occasion d’évoquer deux questions d’interprétation. D’une part, sur le plan littéraire, il apparaît bien que Flavius Josèphe se situe très concrètement en un point de confluence des cultures grecque, romaine et juive et que, pour lui, la question du registre (il représente le pouvoir et les insurgés d’une façon héroïsante, voire héroï-burlesque pour ces derniers) et celle du genre (le tombeau littéraire, le modèle épique, la dimension prophétique et la chronique biblique) sont certainement beaucoup plus prégnantes qu’on ne le dit généralement. D’autre part, la conférence soulèvera la question, particulièrement épineuse quand on étudie Josèphe, des relations complexes, voire troubles et indémêlables, entre le discours historique, ses modèles littéraires ou scripturaires, l’influence de leur vision du monde et sa part propre de témoignage réaliste.

 

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Les autres dates du semestre

16 novembre 2017 – Thierry Legrand (Université de Strasbourg) : « En marge du judaïsme ‘officiel’ : Qumrân, ses écrits et sa communauté ».
14 décembre 2017 – Serge Bardet (Université d’Évry-Val-d’Essonne) : « La Guerre des Juifs de Flavius Josèphe : intertextualité et interculturalité ».
4 hours 38 min ago EpiDoc Guidelines 9.0 candidate << Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online) EpiDoc Guidelines: Ancient documents in TEI XML
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5 hours 1 min ago Conspiring Concubines and Desperate Divas: Women and Power Politics in the Han Dynasty << Mary Harrsch (Passionate About History)
History resource article by Mary Harrsch © 2009

*Note: Originally I wrote this article for the Heritage Key website based in London, England. That website is no longer online. I don't like to waste such extensive research so have republished it here.

Xin Zhui (Chinese: 辛追), also known as Lady Dai, 
was the wife of the Marquess Li Cang. Wax reproduction 
from the cast of her mummy discovered at Mawangdui.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
In 1972, the intact tomb of a noble lady of the Han dynasty was discovered at Mawangdui in the eastern outskirts of Changsha, China.  Although eclipsed by the discovery of the life-sized terracotta warriors of Qin Shi Huang-di two years later, the Mawangdui tomb is still considered one of the most important archaeological discoveries of the 20th century and provided important insight into the lifestyle of the rich and famous of early Western Han society.  The tomb was filled with food offerings and household items that Xin Zhui, the wife of the Chancellor or "Marquis" of the state of Changsha, a fief containing 700 households, would need to continue a luxurious lifestyle in the afterlife.

"Remains of Lady Dai’s last feast—provisions to span the ages—still linger in her sublime lacquerware, vestiges of beverages and comestibles lurking amongst some of the sixteen distinctive types of lacquer objects discovered: pheasant bones, ox ribs and shoulder blades, mandarin-fish bones, and wheaten food in various pan dishes; erbei winged cups referencing their intended use for food, wine, and broth via inscriptions; yu bowls; shao ladles; zhi cups; bi ladles; a ji armrest; ding tripods, one half filled with lotus root strips; an trays (set with cups, dishes containing food), and a pair of bamboo chopsticks; an unspecified cake-like food in all of the he boxes; a jubeihe cup container; yi pouring vessels; a pingfeng screen; fang vases, all four with dregs of wine or broth; a biscuit-like substance in a lian box; dregs of broth or wine in zhong vases." - Julie Rauer, The Last Feast of Lady Dai

Her astoundingly well-preserved corpse enabled researchers to conduct one of the most complete autopsies ever performed on an ancient corpse. 

"Plagued by a series of parasites and suffering from coronary thrombosis and arteriosclerosis, the obese noblewoman was further incapable of normal locomotion, the result of acute back pain initiated by a fused spinal disc (exposed via X-rays). Clogged arteries culminated in a profoundly damaged heart, ironically paralleling the contemporary health crisis of mass obesity fueled by economic plentitude, caloric overindulgence and lack of exercise. Gallstones further taxed Xin Zhui’s badly overburdened physiology; one of these abnormal masses of biliary calculus, according to expert medical consensus, lodged in her bile duct, aggravating an already precarious circulatory condition, and likely induced a colossal heart attack."  - Julie Rauer, The Last Feast of Lady Dai

This painting on silk, recovered from Lady Dai's
tomb depicts the heaven (upper part), the human
realm  (middle part), and the netherworld. Image
courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
She had a fashionable wardrobe of some of the finest silk ever found still in tact - one burial robe a delicate gossamer weighing only 49 grams.  Like most cultured ladies of the period she probably loved music as her grave goods contained several musical instruments including a 25-stringed se and a 22-pipe yu. She was well groomed, evidenced by her lacquered costmetic case with delicate combs and a bronze mirror. But, feasting and entertainments aside, what was life really like as a noblewoman in the Han imperial court.

Exotic concubines and meek, submissive wives people the stereotypes of Chinese women often portrayed in tales and legends told from a western perspective.  However, although virtuous, supportive wives were admired and held up as examples of behavior in ancient Chinese society, women in ancient Chinese history went far beyond the expected roles of marital relationships - leading rebellions, serving as political consultants, recording history, becoming revered teachers, commanding armies and even making or breaking the next emperor.

The impact of women's contributions was never more evident than during the Han Dynasty - China's Golden Age.  Strong women were a a force to be reckoned with from the very beginning of the empire.

The first Han emperor, Liu Bang, was born a simple peasant, one of only two Chinese emperors (the other the founder of the Ming dynasty) from humble origins.  As he and his followers battled the forces of the Qin, he encountered a vigorous female officer named Huang Guigu, who led Qin forces in northern China.  "Lady Sima", as she was officially called, studied military tactics at night, practiced military formations during the day, was strong enough to draw a stout bow and was revered for her talent at reading the stars.  Recognizing her value, Liu Bang  issued an imperial decree after his victory which gave Huang Guigu 300 catties of gold and jade to demonstrate his respect for her.

Although there is no record of Liu Bang commissioning Huang Guigu to command some of his own battalions, he actively recruited former Qin officials for positions in his new government. The burdens of administration of such a large empire must have seemed daunting.  It is reported that he wrote the following poem at a wine party he gave in his  hometown  after putting down an armed rebellion in 195 B. C.

SONG OF THE GREAT WIND  

A great wind rises,
    Clouds fly and scatter;
With power over the four seas,
    I return to my homeland;
Where shall I get brave warriors
     to safeguard the four qrarters?
        (Tr.Ronald C. Miao)

Little did he realize at the time that his most formidable female adversary would end up being his own wife, the Empress Lü Zhi.

 Lü Zhi was a daughter of a Qin magistrate for the county of Danfu.  When Liu Bang was still but a roving rebel and visited Danfu, he was recognized by Lü Zhi's father as a talented leader.  Lü Wen predicted the young rebel would become a great man, so he granted Liu Bang the hand of his daughter in marriage.  Lü Zhi bore the future emperor a daughter then, in 210 BC, a son.  But, Lü Zhi spent the years during her husband's conquest of the Qin empire in relative isolation with her father-in-law in Pei where her husband had grown up.

Finally, in 207 BC, the greatness foreseen by Lü Zhi's father came to pass - the Qin dynasty fell and Liu Bang became the Prince (sometimes translated as "king") of Han.  However, he shared power with a brilliant but ruthless rebel general named Xiang Yu who, it is speculated, kept Lü Zhi, her children and her father-in-law as virtual hostages to derail any future of ambitions of his one-time rebel  colleague.


This excellent production available on Netflix chronicles the rise of Liu Bang and his
conflict with Xiang Yu. (Subtitled in English)

In 205 BC, in spite of the fact that his family were "under the protection" of Xiang Yu, Liu attacked his rival's capital, Pengcheng, while the general was off campaigning against the nearby state of Qi.  Xiang quickly withdrew from the Qi campaign and counter-attacked, nearly annihilating Liu's forces and recapturing Pengcheng. In the aftermath, as Liu tried to retreat back to his own territory, he marched through Pei and tried to rescue his father, wife, and children. However, the young family became separated in the confusion and, although. Liu rescued his children, his father and his wife were captured by Xiang's forces and held thereafter as literal hostages, along with one of Liu's officials, Shen Yiji. (Shen Yiji would became openly romantically involved with Lü Zhi after Liu Bang's death).

General Xiang eventually released the trio under the terms of a truce with Liu Bang.  But, with his family now safe, Liu broke the truce and decisively defeated Xiang Yu in 203 BC.  Liu finally claimed the title of Emperor and named Lü Zhi as empress, designating their son, Liu Ying as crown prince, a seemingly happy ending.

But Liu still had to pacify other areas of the empire, so he spent years away from his family on campaign.  While he was away, he put Empress Lü and the crown prince in charge of his new capital  Chang'an and gave them the authority to make key decisions for the surrounding area, assisted by his long time supporter and new prime minister, Xiao He, and Zhang Liang, one of his military strategists.

Empress Lü proved to be an able administrator but soon her advisors saw that she had learned some hard lessons from Xiang Yu during her captivity.

In 196 BC, the emperor left the capital to put down a rebellion led by the Marquis of Yangxia.  While he was gone, the Empress heard a rumor that Han Xin, a brilliant military strategist that was key to her husband's victory over Xiang Yu was involved in the plot hatched by the Marquess of Yangxia.  The emperor had supposedly already confided his fear of the man's military skills to his wife.  But, Han Xin had been mentored by the now, prime minister, Xiao He, who had personally recommended him to the emperor for his military prowess.  When the empress summoned him, he suspected nothing, knowing that his patron Xiao He was the emperor's minister.  Once he arrived, however,  Empress Lü ordered her guards to seize him.  She then ordered the torture and execution of the unfortunate man along with close relatives of his father, his mother, and his wife. The prime minister was put in a position where he was forced to assist her or risk his own life, but he secretly managed to help the man's sons escape and change their family names to protect them from future imperial retribution.

Later that year, the Empress would strike down another of her husband's former allies.  Peng Yue, a skilled general during the revolt against the Qin, was awarded the title of the Prince of Liang after the Qin were defeated.  He was summoned by the emperor to join him in the campaign against the Marquis of Yangxia. Peng Yue sent word back to the emperor that he was ill at the time.  Enraged the emperor arrested Peng Yue and subsequently stripped him of his titles and exiled him to Qingyi. Peng Yue appealed to Empress Lü and she agreed to intercede on his behalf.  They traveled together to Luoyang, where the Emperor was encamped. Peng Yue thought that Empress Lü was in fact going to plead for his freedom. Instead, she told the emperor that Peng Yue, a capable general like Han Xin, would create a threat if exiled.  So, she paid an informant to falsely testify that Peng Yue was planning another rebellion and had Peng Yue executed along with his entire family.

Now, it would appear that Empress Lü was acting to protect her husband's position but could there have been more to it than just that?  During this time, the emperor had become enamored with one of his concubines, Consort Qi, "The Benign".  Lady Qi bore him a son and, as the child grew older, the emperor thought the boy more resembled him than his firstborn with Empress Lü.  Had the emperor began to wonder about an affair between his empress and his officer, Shen Yiji, imprisoned with her several years before?

In 199 BC the emperor appointed his new son to the rank of Prince of Zhao. Rumors began to spread through the palace that the emperor planned to replace the crown prince, who the emperor found to be weak and not at all like himself, with his new son, Prince Ruyi. So, could the Empress have been planning to appear to be actively protecting her husband's interests while in fact diverting attention away from her own plans to usurp the throne?

One source claims that the emperor was dissuaded from this course of action by his advisors because they said such a change could cause chaos in the new government.  Another source reports that the emperor summoned the crown prince and asked him to take command of a contingent of the army that was slated to engage enemy troops in a particularly hazardous battle.  Empress Lü, fearing for her son's safety prevented him from accepting the post.  Instead the emperor led the army himself and was gravely wounded. (The sources don't mention friendly fire but the convenience of the event raises suspicion).

When the emperor sucuumbed to his wounds and the crown prince was named Emperor Hui, Then Dowager Empress Lü imprisoned Lady Qi, ordering a punishment of hard labor. Then the Empress Dowager sent for the 12-year-old Prince Ruyi.

Now the young Emperor Hui felt kindly toward his half brother and feared that his mother might attempt an assassination of the young prince.  So Emperor Hui intercepted his half-brother at Bashang and they proceeded together to the emperor's palace where they kept each other company for several months.  One morning, the emperor planned to go hunting but could not get his little brother to get up so early in the morning.  Thinking the boy would be safe because he had now been at the palace for several months and no harm had come to him, the emperor left the palace.  Upon hearing that her son was off hunting, the Empress summoned an assassin who forced the boy to drink a poisonous elixir (wine?).  The empress then ordered torturers to go to the prison where Lady Qi was kept and cut off her arms and legs, then deafen and blind her.  The Lady Qi was then cast into a filthy pit.

When the emperor returned from his hunting trip, he learned that his brother was dead.  His mother then took him to the prison and showed him a mud smeared mutilated creature that she called "Human Pig".  At first the emperor did not recognize Lady Qi but when it finally dawned on him who the poor unfortunate creature was, he was horrified.  He subsequently withdrew from court affairs and spent the rest of his days drinking and womanizing.

He did rally one last time to defend yet another half-brother from his ruthless mother.   In winter of 194 BC, Liu Fei, Prince of Qi, the emperor's older brother by his father's mistress Consort Cao, was invited to a feast hosted by Empress Dowager Lü. To honor his brother, the emperor invited him to sit in the most prestigious place at the table. The Empress Dowager was furious and sereptiously ordered her servants to pour a cup of poisoned wine for Prince Fei.  As she toasted Prince Fei, the emperor, sensing his brother's peril, snatched the goblet from him and brought it to his own lips. The Empress Dowager Lü then jumped up and slapped the cup away. As a peace offering, Prince Fei, at the emperor's urging, presented Lü's daughter, Princess Luyuan, with a prefecture from his fief to administer as her own. Empress Dowager Lü agreed to the arrangement and allowed Prince Fei to leave the palace safely.

Poor Emperor Hui was still within his mother's clutches, though, and she had succession plans that required his participation.  In 191 BC, the emperor was forced to marry the daughter of his sister.  The marriage proved a childless one but it was alleged that the Empress dowager told her grandaughter, now empress, to adopt eight boys that were to be stolen from women that would be executed afterwards. Modern scholars speculate that these children were actually Emperor Hui's by some of his concubines since killing the children's fathers was not mentioned.  But, Han court officials probably intentionally denied the imperial ancestry of these children to prevent them from being obligated to avenge the slaughter of the Lü clan that followed the deaths of Emperor Hui and the Grand Dowager Empress.  As it was, between natural causes and executions, only two of the eight children survived, with Liu Gong, becoming, only briefly, Emperor Qianshao, when his "father" died in 188 BC.

Four years after he became emperor, the young man somehow learned that his real mother was not his father's empress and that his mother was executed by the empress.  He became enraged and swore revenge against his false mother, the granddaughter of the now-Grand Empress Dowager Lü.  His outburst was apparently overheard (in imperial courts all the walls have ears!) and reported to Grand Empress Dowager Lü.  She had Emperor Qianshao, probably her own grandson, locked up within the palace and put out reports that the emperor was ill and could not receive visitors.  After a time, she claimed he was too ill to rule, had suffered a psychosis and should be deposed and replaced by his brother who would become Emperor Houshao.  Grand Empress Dowager Lü then had the former emperor, probably in a drug-induced stupor, put quietly to death.  Sadly, the young man's brief reign coupled with allegations of psychosis resulted in his name being frequently omitted from the list of official Han Dynasty emperors, almost as if he had never even existed at all.

Grand Empress Dowager Lü continued her tyranny through her new puppet grandson, Emperor Houshao.  She also immediately set about appointing members of her own clan as princes of Han.

But death finally claimed the scheming Grand Empress Dowager Lü in 180 BC.

Grand Empress Dowager Lü was returning to the capital after performing a temple sacrifice when "something that looked like a blue dog appeared and bit her in the arm pit, then suddenly disappeared. Divination proved it to be the evil spirt of the King of Hao [Prince Ruyi's] spirit. She grew ill of the wound in her side and shortly died. - Han Shu [History of the Han Dynasty] by Pan Ku, third century AD, (Tr. De Bary, 1960,172).

But her powerful clan still held the Han court in an iron grip.  In fact, the wily old woman even attempted to rule from the grave.  Her will stipulated that the new emperor would marry the daughter of the Grand Empress Dowager Lü's nephew - therefore maintaining the domination of the Lü clan in court affairs.  But court officials, led by left prime minister, Chen Ping and commander in chief of the armed forces, Zhou Bo,rose up and slaughtered the entire Lü clan.  Emperor Houshao was deposed and banished to the ministry of palace supplies building.  The hapless young emperor was later executed, probably along with his new empress, although historians are silent on this point.

Ornate lacquered coffin unearthed at Mawangdui, 2nd century BCE. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Lady Dai, buried in the tomb excavated at Mawangdui, lived during these dangerous and tumultous times.  As a young woman, she must have been terrified as she witnessed the treacheries of the Han court and carefully guarded her conversations with other noble ladies as she was probably aware that the Dowager Empress had spies everywhere.  Much is said of her apparent indulgence in food but maybe this was her escape from the emotional tension of her daily life.




Only in her thirties when her husband died, Lady Dai would have been a relatively defenseless widow with a young son at her side by the time the Grand Empress Dowager Lü finally died and the slaughter of the Lü clan began.  Fortunately, her husband had been a general during the Qin uprising and subsequent conflict between the Chu and Han states, so he probably was not related to the emperor or Grand Empress Dowager, although Emperor Hui later substituted only family members in high official posts so the Marquis of Dai's familial relationship to the emperor is unclear.  In any event, his wife would not have been considered part of the Lü clan (though married, the family clans of husband and wife were considered separate entities) so, she escaped the blood bath. Apparently, despite her relatively young age at the time of her husband's death, she did not remarry but lived out her years as a wealthy matron supervising her son's household, a dowager of sorts in her own right although hopefully a much kinder, gentler one than Lü Zhi.





5 hours 16 min ago The ACOR Research Library Photographic Archive Project << Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online) The ACOR Research Library Photographic Archive Project 
The ACOR Research Library Photographic Archive Project is made possible under a Fiscal Year 2016  American Overseas Research Centers grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

The American Center of Oriental Research (ACOR) in Amman, Jordan, is a non‑profit, 501(c)(3) academic institution dedicated to promoting research and publication in the humanities and social sciences, with a particular focus on issues related to Jordan and the broader Middle East. ACOR exists both to facilitate research by postgraduate researchers and senior scholars and to assist in the training of future specialists who focus on all phases of Jordan’s past and present.

The ACOR Library holds a remarkable photographic archive related to its role in preserving and promoting the country’s heritage. The complete collection, estimated to number more than 100,000 images, provides primary visual documentation of Jordan, including the major archaeological and cultural heritage projects the center has sponsored across the country over the decades. Given its broad range of content and subject matter, the ACOR Library photographic archive has the potential to be a crucial resource for American, international, and Jordanian scholars involved in cultural and natural heritage preservation and management.

As a first step in making this extensive archival collection available to researchers, the ACOR Library has begun to process, digitize, and make fully accessible (and searchable) online a majority of ACOR’s major institutional and donated photographic holdings. By leveraging technology to make these photographs available and freely accessible, the ACOR Library will better equip American, Jordanian, and international researchers and policy makers to monitor and assess the numerous threats facing heritage sites in the Middle East and especially Jordan.

5 hours 28 min ago JODI MAGNESS LECTURES ON THE HUQOQ SYNAGOGUE << Archaeology Briefs rofessor Jodi Magness embarked on a mission in 2011 to excavate the Huqoq synagogue in Israel with little idea of its contents — and with only an ancient village as its possible location.

Unsure of whether they would find anything, Magness’ team randomly picked a square as their first dig site and discovered archaeological fragments. Eventually, the team unearthed mosaic pavings crafted on the synagogue’s foundation depicting biblical scenes relevant to the history of Israel. Since then, Magness has been working on the excavation and preservation of the historical site in the ancient village of Huqoq, with the eventual goal of relocating the mosaics to public areas.

Pitt’s Jewish Studies program and Nationality Rooms program came together Monday night to host Magness and celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Israel Heritage Classroom — the 20th Nationality Room constructed in the Cathedral.

Magness — a University of North Carolina professor with a bachelor’s in archaeology and history from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem — shared the current status of the excavation site at the Late Roman-era synagogue with more than 80 people during her lecture, “More than Just Mosaics: the Huqoq Synagogue,” in the Cathedral of Learning.

Magness and her excavation team have gone out every summer digging season since 2011 and unearthed a variety of partial and complete mosaic scenes throughout the stone foundations of the Jewish synagogue.

Magness showed the audience of community members, Pitt staff and students unreleased images of the dig sites and the mosaic pavings within — including scenes depicting biblical motifs and stories such as Noah’s Ark and Helios and the Zodiac Cycle, as well as figures including Dionysus and Alexander the Great.
The surviving mosaics stayed preserved under dirt and stone rubble after the synagogue was abandoned due to unknown circumstances, she said. Magness and her team bury the artifacts again after each digging season. “The only way to protect our mosaics from vandalism is to backfill them at the end of the season,” Magness said.



5 hours 46 min ago OLDEST VIRTUALLY COMPLETE FOSSIL OF HUMAN ANCESTOR FOUND IN SOUTH AFRICA -- CALLED "LITTLE FOOT" << Archaeology Briefs South Africa's status as a major cradle in the African nursery of humankind has been reinforced with today's unveiling of "Little Foot", the country's oldest, virtually complete fossil human ancestor.

Little Foot is the only known virtually complete Australopithecus fossil discovered to date. It is by far the most complete skeleton of a human ancestor older than 1.5 million years ever found. It is also the oldest fossil hominid in southern Africa, dating back 3.67 million years. The unveiling will be the first time that the completely cleaned and reconstructed skeleton can be viewed by the national and international media.

Discovered by Professor Ron Clarke from the Evolutionary Studies Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, the fossil was given the nickname of "Little Foot" by Prof. Phillip Tobias, based on Clarke's initial discovery of four small foot bones. Its discovery is expected to add a wealth of knowledge about the appearance, full skeletal anatomy, limb lengths and locomotor abilities of one of the species of our early ancestral relatives.
"This is one of the most remarkable fossil discoveries made in the history of human origins research and it is a privilege to unveil a finding of this importance today," says Clarke.

After lying undiscovered for more than 3.6 million years deep within the Sterkfontein caves about 40km north-west of Johannesburg, Clarke found several foot bones and lower leg bone fragments in 1994 and 1997 among other fossils that had been removed from rock blasted from the cave years earlier by lime miners. Clarke sent his assistants Stephen Motsumi and Nkwane Molefe into the deep underground cave to search for any possible broken bone surface that might fit with the bones he had discovered in boxes. Within two days of searching, they found such a contact, in July 1997.

Clarke realised soon after the discovery that they were on to something highly significant and started the specialised process of excavating the skeleton in the cave up through 2012, when the last visible elements were removed to the surface in blocks of breccia. "My assistants and I have worked on painstakingly cleaning the bones from breccia blocks and reconstructing the full skeleton until the present day," says Clarke.

In the 20 years since the discovery, they have been hard at work to excavate and prepare the fossil. Now Clarke and a team of international experts are conducting a full set of scientific studies on it. The results of these studies are expected to be published in a series of scientific papers in high impact, peer reviewed international journals in the near future. This is the first time that a virtually complete skeleton of a pre-human ancestor from a South African cave has been excavated in the place where it was fossilized.

The 20-year long period of excavation, cleaning, reconstruction, casting, and analysis of the skeleton has required a steady source of funding, which was provided by the Palaeontological Scientific Trust (PAST) – a Johannesburg-based NGO that promotes research, education and outreach in the sciences related to our origins. Among its many initiatives aimed at uplifting the origin sciences across Africa, PAST has been a major funder of research at Sterkfontein for over two decades.

After 20 years, researcher presents the most complete Australopithecus fossil ever found

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-12-years-australopithecus-fossil.html#jCp
6 hours 30 min ago Éphèse, une métropole par l’exemple des sénateurs << Antiquitas (Sciences de l'Antiquité à l'Université de Lorraine)

Le vendredi 8 décembre 2017, François Kirbihler donnera communication intitulée « Ephesos, eine Metropole am Beispiel senatorischer Familien [Éphèse, une métropole par l’exemple des sénateurs] » à l’occasion du colloque Ephesos – eine Metropole der hellenistisch-römischen Welt à l’Université de Regensburg (7-8 décembre 2017).

Télécharger le flyer du colloque.

 

6 hours 50 min ago What surprises college students about human evolution? << Kristina Killgrove (Powered By Osteons) Every time I teach our ANT2511 - Introduction to Biological Anthropology course, I include a fill-in-the-blank question on one of the last exams that reads as follows:

"List one thing you learned this semester about biological anthropology or human evolution that surprised you."

I make it worth a couple of points, and every student always responds to it. For me, it's both a way to gauge that they learned at least one thing from the course and a chance for me to take an accounting of what the state of undergraduate knowledge about human evolution is -- that is, what surprised them is generally something they were never taught before. In this way I can look at changes over the semesters to understand what kind of stuff they've learned in K-12 education. It also helps me understand what to focus on in my outreach to the general public.

This semester, I did a quick accounting of their responses. That is, I read all of them and created general categories into which their answers fell. Here's what that looks like:

#1 - The complexity of human evolution / number of species. There were 14 responses that I coded into this category. Most students were surprised that it took so many different physical changes to produce us, or that there were more members of the Homo genus than just us.

#2 - That Neandertal and Denisovan DNA is still around / that they interbred with modern human groups.  10 students commented in some form on their surprise that we are not completely different from these Middle Pleistocene populations and that their genes in fact appear to still exist in many populations around the world.

#3 - The lumper/splitter approaches to species. 6 students noted their surprise that not all biological anthropologists agree on how to classify species. This may reflect my approach to teaching the course (so YMMV), but since I tend toward the lumper side, I talk a lot about how they don't need to remember Homo habilis and Homo rudolfensis, for example, and the reasons I see them as the same species. A couple of these students commented further that it was kind of exciting to see that this field is still learning, and our understanding changes over time.

#4 - That human culture is very old. Another 5 students said that they were surprised that human culture and/or society was so old -- some mentioned tool use, others cave paintings, others language and communication.

#5 - The agricultural revolution sucked for our bodies and cultures in many ways. This was a topic I covered at the very end of the semester, and 4 students were surprised by this. My favorite response here involved the sarcastic phrase, "Thanks a lot, *corn*."

#6 - Hobbits! 3 students were surprised that a small-bodied, small-brained hominin existed until very recently.

Other responses fell into categories like "just how closely we are related to apes," "race is not a biological reality," and "bonobos have crazy sex lives."

Any of you ask your students something similar? What themes have you uncovered? I'm curious if it differs across the country and across the world.


6 hours 55 min ago Halvorson-Taylor and Southwood (eds), Women and Exilic Identity in the Hebrew Bible << Jim Davila (Paleojudaica.com) <img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/blogspot/ABNx/~4/KPqdn8sjZqo" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
7 hours 6 min ago Stuckenbruck, Angel Veneration & Christology << Jim Davila (Paleojudaica.com) <img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/blogspot/ABNx/~4/-tFuA_tR6jE" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
7 hours 19 min ago Lehmhaus and Martelli, Collecting Recipes << Jim Davila (Paleojudaica.com) <img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/blogspot/ABNx/~4/gKql6cDrm5s" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
7 hours 27 min ago Howell, The Pharisees and Figured Speech in Luke-Acts << Jim Davila (Paleojudaica.com) <img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/blogspot/ABNx/~4/P-gD9fvEU4E" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
8 hours 43 min ago Archaeology of the Contemporary World << Bill Caraher (The New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World)

I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a little book on archaeology of the contemporary world lately (actually, I’ve been thinking about this book for some time now). I’ve been collecting bibliography for the last few months, and this weekend, between grant applications, I read Rodney Harrison’s and Esther Briethoff’s survey of the field from this years Annual Review of Anthropology (here’s a preprint).

The article demonstrates the complexity, diversity, and expansiveness of the field which ranges from well-established and methodologically-defined sub-disciplines like forensic archaeology to small and distinctive studies involving objects, political, social, or economic situations, or marginal groups. There are a series of ideas that I extracted from this article that could help shape any future work on my part in this area.

Here they are:

1. Historical Archaeology. The relationship between archaeology of the contemporary world and the long-standing discipline of historical archaeology varies widely. On the one hand, the division is more or less chronological with historical archaeology typically involving material that has recognized heritage status (often 50 years before the present) or clear connections to figures or events of conventional historical significance (i.e. not every day life). On the other hand, the line between the contemporary and the historical is indeed a blurry one. Industrial sites, for example, may have long functional lives meaning that they are both conventionally historical and contemporary in use. The persistence of ruins, for example, in the contemporary world further complicates the line between historical and contemporary in the thinking of both contemporary and historical archaeologists drawing them both into one another’s methodological and experiential space. 

2. Time. I’ve recently thought a bit about the issue of contemporaneity on the blog and how it shapes both our encounter with the Atari excavation in Alamogordo and the way that we narrate it. The archaeology of the contemporary pushes us to think not only about time but about how temporality and chronology locates us as archaeologist in relation to what we study. For example, the tension between (a) our desire to isolate archaeological objects by removing them from our own temporal frame and locating them as part of a broken tradition, and (b) the basic familiarity with the objects that we study as part of the same modern world as the intellectual (and literal) tools that we use to document and analyze these objects. This ambivalent attitude toward the idea of contemporaneity represents a major epistemological challenge as well as a practical one. On the one hand, archaeology of the contemporary world insists on the archaeologist’s contemporaneity with their objects of study complicating the potential for the kind of empirical observations that have proven foundational to historical archaeological practice and the “new archaeology.” On the other hand, it has remained challenging to establish disciplinary metrics of rigor for archaeological practices grounded in experiential, phenomenological, or less formally empirical engagements with the past without eroding ties to the fundamental expectations of the archaeology as a discipline.       

3. Politics. There is a remarkably explicit political dimension to archaeology of the contemporary world. By this, I don’t mean political in a broadly theoretic way, but in a practical way. For example, Jason DeLeon’s recent work on migrants on the U.S. – Mexico border has an overt political dimension. Work emphasizing the role of archaeology in defining and understanding of climate change and the anthropocene in the contemporary world fits neatly and explicitly into a political narrative. Work in forensic archaeology and the archaeology of war is never without obvious political dimensions and the archaeology of homelessness and other projects that emphasize the marginal and hidden in western society represent clearly political commitments toward social justice, peace, and democratic ideals. Even when projects are somewhat more removed from the politics of the national headlines, there are commitments at the center of the archaeology of the contemporary world that frequently involve critiques of late capitalism and late modernity and the threat to the individual.

4. Theory. The political and chronological tensions in the archaeology of the contemporary are deeply embedded in the concerns of contemporary theory even if they are not articulated in this way. From the critical theory of the 1970s and phenomenological (and post-processual) approaches pioneered by Tilley and Shanks to crucial perspectives offered on science and technology by folks like Bruno Latour and Tim Ingold, archaeologists have almost universally assumed the grounding of archaeological practice in the contemporary would. This, in turn, opened the door to applying archaeology to the contemporary world in explicit ways. The acknowledgement of explicitly theoretical perspectives is, as one might expect, uneven as (see point 1) practitioners have varying degrees of investment in less overtly theoretical discourses (such as historical archaeology in the Anglo-American tradition), but the theory is there just below the surface. In fact, it is impossible to read archaeology of the contemporary world as existing outside a late-20th century (or at very least modern) theoretical context.

5. Method. Finally (and perhaps in some vague way, most importantly), there is the issue of method. As someone who has attempted to practice an archaeology of the contemporary world, the complexities of documenting the contemporary world in all of its contingency and dynamism remains a consistent challenge. Digital tools from video to photography, audio recordings, remote sensing, and various data collecting tools produce avalanches of data that contribute to an impressive and growing archive. The rise of crowd sourcing practices and platforms extends the culture and methods of data collecting from skilled practitioners to much broader audiences. Ethnoarchaeology, archaeological ethnography, and the reflexive ethnography of archaeological practice pollinated archaeology of the contemporary world with methods and practices from cultural anthropology, sociology, and oral history. The complexity and challenges facing an archaeology of the contemporary world is part of what gives this field its potential for both transforming more conventional archaeological practice and how we see ourselves. 

How these five themes would appear in a little book remains a bit hard to understand, but pulling these themes from the Harrison and Briethoff article feels like a meaningful start.


8 hours 51 min ago Grondig gevraagd: conservatie-offertes voor archeologisch materiaal << ArcheoNet BE

Tijdens een opgraving of in je verzameling vind je een archeologisch voorwerp dat er slecht aan toe is. Wat moet en kan je vragen aan de restaurator en hoe moet je dat doen? Wat is de beste methode om dit voorwerp te behandelen en hoe moet je er nadien mee omgaan? Je vindt een antwoord op al deze vragen in de nieuwe digitale publicatie ‘Grondig gevraagd. Een leidraad voor het opvragen & opstellen van een conservatie-offerte voor archeologisch materiaal’, een initiatief van de Provincie Oost-Vlaanderen. De handleiding, opgesteld door conservator-restaurator Ansje Cools, is gratis te downloaden op www.oost-vlaanderen.be.

11 hours 41 min ago Manar al-Athar News << Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online) Manar al-Athar News
We have added keywords to all 30,000 photographs on so that you can search for them. We have 1262 photos of Greek inscriptions, many on floor mosaics, like this one in Hama, Syria. 1/5 More:
11 hours 50 min ago Philosophy and Likeness to God: Early Christian Development of a Platonic Theme << American School of Classical Studies in Athens: Events December 19, 2017 - 2:45 PM - LECTURE Dr. Filip Ivanovic (Onassis Fellow, Norwegian Institute at Athens)
13 hours 7 min ago Campagna di misure di vibrazione presso la Tomba “Campana” di Veo << Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali campagna-di-misure-di-vibrazione-presso-la-tomba-campana-di-veo

Nell’ambito del progetto “CO.B.RA  – Sviluppo e la diffusione di metodi, tecnologie e strumenti avanzati per la Conservazione dei Beni culturali, basati sull’applicazione di Radiazioni e di tecnologie Abilitanti” è stato portato avanti il progetto Tecnologie avanzate per la grande pittura etrusca da Veio a Tarquinia.

13 hours 27 min ago Revue de philologie de littérature et d'histoires anciennes 89.2 << Compitum - publications

22520100685900l.jpg

Revue de philologie de littérature et d'histoires anciennes 89.2 (2015), Paris, 2017.

Éditeur : Klincksieck
284 pages
ISBN : 978-2-252-04077-5
49 €

Janick Auberger
On est toujours le barbare de quelqu'un… Les Barbares dans la Guerre des Goths de Procope
Bernadette Morin
Σκύφος et σκάφος : la « vaisselle » de l'ivresse d'Héraclès a-t-elle à voir avec le « vaisseau » qui transporte Alceste sur l'Achéron ?
Richard Faure
La séquence [terme défini + ὅστις] en grec classique. Valeur causale ou énonciative ?
Tatiana Taous
Proeliārī et quelques constructions à verbe support en proelium : recherche diachronique sur les contextes d'emploi

Lire la suite...

13 hours 30 min ago Earl Doherty as Christian Reformer << James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix) I decided to break what had been one very long post about two mythicists into two shorter ones (although I will be the first to admit that neither is particularly short, which gives you a sense of why I thought it best to split them). The first was yesterday’s about Richard Carrier. Today’s takes its […]
13 hours 37 min ago One Hundred Years Ago Today: Allenby Enters Jerusalem << BiblePlaces Blog

One hundred years ago today, British General Edmund Allenby entered Jerusalem on foot and issued a proclamation declaring British control of the city. Two days earlier the Turkish authorities had surrendered, ending 400 years of Ottoman rule (1517-1917).

The photographic department of the American Colony was on hand to capture these historic moments. The most famous photo shows the mayor of the city surrendering to the British with a white flag.

Surrender to British, 1917, mayor with white flag, mat00162

Below is a photograph of the letter of surrender.

Surrender 1917, copy of letter of surrender, mat02222

General Allenby was advised to make a contrast of his entrance into Jerusalem with the rather ostentatious ceremony of the German Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1898, and he dismounted his horse to walk through Jaffa Gate into the city.

Allenby entry 1917, troops entering Jaffa Gate, mat02225

Around the corner stands the entrance to the historic “Citadel of David,” and on its podium Allenby read a proclamation.

Allenby entry 1917, Pasha reading proclamation, mat02228

The proclamation was translated into six other languages and posted throughout the city.

Allenby entry, proclamation of martial law, mat05790

The text of the proclamation, read by Allenby 100 years ago today, is as follows:

To the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Blessed and the people dwelling in the vicinity: The defeat inflicted upon the Turks by the troops under my command has resulted in the occupation of your city by my forces. I therefore here and now proclaim it to be under martial law, under which form of administration it will remain so long as military considerations make it necessary. However, lest anyone of you be alarmed by reason of your experience at the hands of the enemy who has retired, I hereby inform you that it is my desire that every person should pursue his lawful business without fear of interruption.

Furthermore, since your City is regarded with affection by the adherents of three of the great religions of mankind, and its soil has been consecrated by the prayers and pilgrimages of multitudes of devout people of these three religions for many centuries, therefore do I make known to you that every sacred building, monument, holy spot, shrine, traditional site, endowment, pious bequest, or customary place of prayer, of whatsoever form of the three religions, will be maintained and protected according to the existing customs and beliefs of those to whose faith they are sacred.”

Thus Allenby declared that while the city was under martial law (as the Great War continued for another year), he guaranteed the status quo for places of worship.

After the proclamation, Allenby was photographed riding his horse away from Jaffa Gate.

Allenby exit, on horseback at Jaffa Gate, mat00169

This photograph below was taken on the day of Jerusalem’s surrender and shows five British generals.

Surrender of Jerusalem, 1917, British generals, mat05788

A monument to the surrender was later erected in Romema in west Jerusalem where it still stands until today.

Monument of Jerusalem's surrender to British in Dec 1917, tb060601206

All of the black and white photos above come from the Early 20th-Century History volume of the American Colony and Eric Matson Collection. The complete PowerPoint file of the 1917 Turkish Surrender is available as a free download.

For more information, see:

The story of the surrender at the blog of the Israel State Archives (ISA)

“General Allenby Shows How a Moral Man Conquers Jerusalem”Haaretz (premium)

General Allenby’s Entry into Jerusalem – a 14-minute film held by the Imperial War Museum (details here)

Picture of the Week: Surrender of Jerusalem, 1917 – a post on this blog by Seth M. Rodriquez

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