Maia Atlantis: Ancient World Blogs

0 sec ago L'hittitologie aujourd'hui : études sur l'Anatolie hittite et néo-hittite à l'occasion du centenaire de la naissance d'Emmanuel Laroche << Laboratoire Orient et Méditerranée

Organisé par Alice Mouton et Jean-François Pérouse

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

- Consulter le programme

0 sec ago L'argent des dieux. Religions et richesses en Méditerranée dans l'Antiquité et au Moyen Âge << Laboratoire Orient et Méditerranée

Organisé par Julie Masquelier-Loorius, Jonathan Cornillon et Jean-Marie Salamito

Les rapports entre les religions et l'argent sont loin de se limiter aux discours que développent souvent les premières en matière de régulation éthique des activités lucratives et d'usage des richesses. Toute vie religieuse implique – à des échelles diverses, mais inévitablement – une dimension économique. Il faut des biens matériels pour les gestes du culte, l'offrande de sacrifices, la fabrication d'objets ou d'images, la construction et l'entretien de sanctuaires, la rétribution d'un clergé ou encore l'organisation de la solidarité communautaire. Quelles sont donc les pratiques des religions en matière d'économie ? Comment les communautés religieuses s'y prennent-elles pour créer, rassembler, gérer, utiliser et distribuer des richesses ? En quoi consiste l'impact concret de la vie religieuse sur la vie économique ? Comment les usages « religieux » de l'argent sont-ils justifiés ou critiqués à l'intérieur des différentes traditions ?

C'est à de telles questions que ce colloque répondra, en étudiant les religions qui ont marqué le monde méditerranéen depuis la plus haute Antiquité jusqu'à la fin du Moyen Âge : les divers polythéismes, le judaïsme, le christianisme, l'islam. La prise en compte d'une aire géographique cohérente permettra d'établir des comparaisons probantes entre des époques différentes et des confessions variées.

Consulter le programme du colloque

avec le soutien du Labex RESMED

0 sec ago Les religions et l'argent << Laboratoire Orient et Méditerranée

En parallèle du Colloque "L'argent des dieux " qui se tiendra du 16 au 18 octobre, un Café des sciences dont le thème sera : "les religions et l'argent" est organisé le 15 octobre à 18h30 à l'Espace Pierre Gilles de Gennes, 10 rue Vauquelin Paris 5e.

Les invités débattront dans un premier temps des relations établies entre les religions et l'argent de l'Antiquité jusqu'au Moyen-Âge.
Dans un deuxième temps sera abordé la place de l'économie religieuse dans les sociétés contemporaines.

Participeront à ce débat :
Julie Masquelier Loorius, épigraphiste à Orient et Méditerranée
Jean-Marie Salamito, historien à Orient et Méditerranée
Jonathan Cornillon, historien
Lionel Obadia, anthropologue à l'université Lumière Lyon2

Le débat sera filmé et diffusé en ligne ensuite sur ce site.

Avec le soutien de la Délégation CNRS Paris A

0 sec ago Corps, âmes et normes : approches cliniques, légales et religieuses du handicap << Laboratoire Orient et Méditerranée

Organisé par :
Hedwige Rouillard-Bonraisin
Maria Grazzia Masssetti-Rouault
Jean-Michel Verdier (EPHE)
Christophe Lemardelé (EPHE)

- Consulter le programme

0 sec ago La guerre et la Grèce << Laboratoire Orient et Méditerranée

Sous la présidence de Michel ZINK, Secrétaire perpétuel de l'AIBL, Professeur au Collège de France, Président de la Fondation Théodore Reinach, Jacques JOUANNA et Philippe CONTAMINE, membres de l'AIBL.

Messieurs Jacques Jouanna, Jean-Claude Cheynet, Olivier Picard, membres du laboratoire Orient et Méditerranée interviendront lors de ce colloque

- Télécharger le programme

- Télécharger le bulletin d'inscription

- Pour en savoir plus

0 sec ago Les moines autour de la Méditerranée. Mobilités et contacts à l'échelle locale et régionale << Laboratoire Orient et Méditerranée

Le programme de recherche Les moines autour de la Méditerranée. Contacts, échanges, influences entre Orient et Occident, de l'Antiquité tardive au Moyen Âge (IFAO, EFR, EFA, Labex RESMED, UMR 8584 et 8167) se propose d'analyser la paradoxale mobilité du monde monastique, notamment méditerranéen, que des normes diverses paraissent contraindre à la stabilitas, mais qui connaît pourtant d'intenses et continus mouvements de circulation, d'échanges et d'influences, sur un long Moyen-Âge (du IVe au XVe siècle)

- Consulter le programme

Colloque organisé avec le soutien de :
L'École française de Rome
L'Institut Français d'Archéologie Orientale
Le Laboratoire Orient et Méditerranée (UMR 8167)
Le Centre Européen de Recherchesur les Congrégations et les Ordres Religieux - Laboratoire d'Études sur les Monothéismes (CERCOR-LEM UMR 8584)
Le Labex RESMED

0 sec ago Rabbits Provide Window Into Animal Domestication << Archaeology Magazine

UPPSALA, SWEDEN—The relatively recent domestication of the rabbit some 1,400 years ago in France makes it an excellent model for the study of the domestication of animals and the development of agriculture. To begin, an international team of scientists sequenced the entire genome of one domestic rabbit as a reference genome assembly. Then they sequenced entire genomes of six different breeds of domestic rabbits, and wild rabbits from taken from different locations in the Iberian Peninsula and southern France. Science Daily reports that the team found domestication occurred, not through changes in the genes that are present, but through small changes in how and when the genes are regulated and used in different cells. Many of those genes altered by domestication are involved in the development of the brain and nervous system, explaining the drastic differences in behavior between domestic and wild rabbits. “We predict that a similar process has occurred in other domestic animals and that we will not find a few specific ‘domestication genes’ that were critical for domestication,” explained team member Leif Andersson of Uppsala University.

0 sec ago The Search for Clovis People in Kansas << Archaeology Magazine

LAWRENCE, KANSAS—Rolfe Mandel and a team of students from the University of Kansas are waiting for the results of tests to date the sediment samples they took from the Coffey Site, located in northeast Kansas along Tuttle Creek. “It will tell us a lot about the history of the peopling of the Americas and in particular the peopling of the Great Plains, especially the Central Great Plains, where it’s been pretty much a black hole in terms of unraveling that story,” he told Phys.org. They are hoping to find evidence of Clovis and Pre-Clovis people. “We are talking about small family units, hunters and gatherers. It’s a group of five or six, maybe a little bit larger wandering across the landscape. They’re following herds of animals. Of course, at the time, the assemblage of animals looked a lot different than what it does today,” he added. For the latest on how archaeologists are rethinking the early history of the New World, see ARCHAEOLOGY's special section "America, in the Beginning."  

 

4 min 48 sec ago Genomics Study Offers Clues to Arctic Cultures << Archaeology Magazine

Dorset-Site-GreenlandCOPENHAGEN, DENMARK—A large-scale study of mitochondrial DNA and the genomes of 169 ancient humans from different time periods in the New World Arctic region by Maanasa Raghavan of the University of Copenhagen and her colleagues suggests that the Saqqaq culture, whose people lived about 4,000 years ago, and members of the Dorset culture, who succeeded them 2,800 years ago, belonged to one Paleo-Eskimo people. According to Eske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen, comparison with the genomes of present-day Inuits and Native Americans shows that reindeer-hunting Paleo-Eskimos were genetically distinct, and may have migrated to the New World on their own as a tiny founder population.  But the lineage disappeared at about the same time that the whale-hunting, Neo-Eskimo Thules expanded into the Arctic. Were the Dorsets pushed out of the Arctic by the Thules some 700 years ago, or were they annihilated by a disease? “It’s just mind-blowing to imagine an entire people who just completely vanished,” Willerslev told Science

 

36 min 31 sec ago Displaced fire: Heroides 16 in light of myth << Tom Matrullo (Classics in Sarasota)
One choice Ovid had to make in Heroides 16 and 17 was how to have Paris's immediate challenge -- the seduction of Helen -- resonate within the overarching story in which they play so key a role.

The poet weaves the larger mythical structure within fine details of Paris and Helen's letters. When Paris ponders whether he should speak, he speaks of fire:

     Et plus quam vellem iam meus extat amor?

     Urorhabes animi nuntia verba mei

Shall I then speak out? Or is it unnecessary to point to a flame that betrays itself? Hasn't my love already stood out more than I would wish? I'd prefer it to lie latent till time permits sheer joy unmixed with fear. But I dissemble poorly; for who can conceal a flame betrayed by its own light? If you nonetheless expect that I add voice to acts -- I am burning. You now have the words that herald my heart.
Paris has no choice. To ask whether he should speak, he must speak. In voicing his question and its implications, he gives away the store. Not surprising that eloquar, the root of eloquence, can be read here as a rhetorical question.

This eliding of the confession of love with the act of loving is consonant with the elisions we looked at earlier, involving space, time, giving, and self. Not all articulation works that way. I can say "I am going to the gas station" many times over, but it doesn't get me there. Saying "I love you," however, does what it says. The delicate relation of speech to action here makes it essential that we explore Paris's statement in relation to the larger mythic structure in which it plays an essential part.

For the author of this letter, passion and love are embodied in flammae. The paradox of fire is that it cannot be concealed, since it produces light, the very thing that enables things to appear. If I burn, you will necessarily see it, he says, even if I wish to keep my love hidden. Paris burning is the thing, the rebus; "I burn" are verba added to the unspoken. To say "I burn" is to "shed light" -- the light of language, of pointing (indice) -- upon light. Saying "I burn" makes patent and explicit what was latent, implicit. Indeed the very word for latent, lateatlies hidden within the word laetitiaethe explicit consummated delight of Paris and Helen. Ovid, like Freud, loved puns.


Fire is of course a key motif that runs throughout the mythic tapestry behind this tale. Pardon the compression here, but it's necessary:


  • Paris speaks of his love for Helen as flame, inciting love.
  • By the end, Troy will be consumed in flames caused by their love.
  • Paris is in love with Helen because of the apple inscribed "to the fairest," tossed by Eris into the wedding of Peleus and Thetis. Three goddesses claimed the prize and presented their case to Zeus, who fobbed the job off on Paris, the fairest of mortal men. 
  • Paris, the designated arbiter formae, chose Venus, who promised him the most beautiful (formae) woman in exchange for judging her to be the most beautiful goddess.
  • Zeus avoided this pickle by displacing it upon Paris. But let's remember that the wedding of Peleus and Thetis was itself a displacement. Thetis was a sea-nymph of exceeding beauty, unquestionably a future conquest of Zeus, except for one thing: prophetic knowledge that her son would be mightier than his father.
  • The only one who knew that Thetis was the goddess whom Zeus must not love if he is to avoid being overthrown was Prometheus. 
  • Prometheus stole fire from the gods (compromising their power) and gave it to mankind, hidden in a fennel stalk. 
  • Since fire can't hide, the theft was discovered. The Titan was bound to a rock and subjected to the torture of the eagle devouring his liver. 
  • The Titan leveraged his prophetic knowledge about Thetis to free himself from the punishment.
  • Zeus made sure Thetis married Peleus and invited all the gods, except Eris. 

Fire feeds the beginning, middle, and end of a tale that stretches from the transgression of the Titan credited with creating mankind through the passion of Paris to the embers of mankind's greatest city, sacred to the gods.

The tale is one of serial interrelated displacements: 

Prometheus displaces fire; Zeus displaces the egg of Thetis upon Peleus, whose wedding thanks to Eris becomes the scene of the displacement of Zeus's role as judge. Paris chooses Venus, who sets him on fire for swan-sired Helen, whom he displaces from Sparta in violation of the laws of hospitality and marriage. As she happens to be the daughter of Tyndarides, Helen's displacement sets in motion the ships and armies of the Greek princes who had sworn to protect and defend her from anyone who violated her union with Menelaos. All this because Zeus feared being displaced by his child were he to love Thetis.

Lying behind or beneath the laetitiae of Paris and Helen is the tale of a god so jealous of his own power, so fearful of adding to the world someone stronger than himself, that he would do anything to avoid what Fate held in store, hidden in dark prophecy. It took the thief of fire to shed light on it -- a proleptic light which leapt to Paris and Helen and from them to Troy, brought down in key part by the child of Peleus and Thetis. We often speak of something coming to light, which sounds rather innocent. But these interlinked prophecies that speak of love, unearthly beauty, displaced rulers and lost kingdoms are tinder awaiting flame.

The tale brings us back to the relation of things and words which Paris addressed in his opening gambit. In Paris's case, adding words to things meant to say "I burn." In the case of Zeus, Prometheus and Thetis, the revelatory light of prophetic insight helped Zeus avoid his own destruction, but the displacement triggered sufficient incendiary ardor to make Eris smile. As Paris writes near the end (l. 374) of his epistle:


"Great prizes stir great strife." 

A poet steeped in myth offers us a Paris who sets all in motion with a simple question: 

eloquar? 

The outing of love, like the detection of unconscious desire underneath what Freud called "the dreamwork," may encounter resistance, but it's irrepressible. As the letters of both Paris and Helen show, eros is fully at play in the cryptic signs and dreamlike symbols of Paris's drunken tales, of a finger writing "amo" on a table, in the eyes and tears of a guest who dreams of supplanting the host, ruler and husband of Helen. The verba of love point to the rebus that is love, but more than point, they spread like wildfire.

When Paris says vocem quoque rebus ut addam, ("I add voice to acts") the addition is more than simple arithmetic. It's an augmentation that proleptically turns the disclosure of love into love. Just as with the imponderable reciprocity of Paris's "salutem," the elocution, the coming-out of love, can only speak if it finds love there already listening.

Helen is seduced by an eloquence that began long before Paris wondered whether he should use his words. Which is why his letter is not an impassioned effort to conquer her heart. That has already fallen. Troy is next. The task of the letter, which (as some have pointed out) reads in part like a resume, is to bring Helen's mind into alignment with her transfixed heart. Judging from the denouement, it seems to have acquitted itself rather well.

44 min 55 sec ago Necklace with pendants 3rd Century AD Late Imperial... << Ancient Peoples

Necklace with pendants

3rd Century AD

Late Imperial Roman

(Source: The Metropolitan Museum)

56 min 42 sec ago A meeting of three languages in the CPA version of Cyril of Jerusalem’s Catechetical Lectures << Adam C. McCollum (hmmlorientalia)

Among the texts surviving in Christian Palestinian Aramaic (CPA) that were translated from Greek is a fair amount of Cyril of Jerusalem’s Catechetical Lectures (CPG 3585), translations of which also survive in several other languages. In one place (§ 6.14),* Cyril is discussing Simon Magus and says that the emperor Claudius set up a statue to him in Rome, so much did the traditional arch-heretic lead the city of Rome astray. (The story appears in other patristic texts, too.)

Καὶ ἐπλάνησέ τε οὕτω τὴν Ῥωμαίων πόλιν, ὥστε Κλαύδιον ἀνδριάντα αὐτου στῆσαι, ὑπογράψαντα τῇ Ῥωμαίων γλώττῃ, ΣΙΜΟΝΙ ΔΕΟ ΣΑΓΚΤΩ, ὅπερ ἑρμηνευόμενον δηλοῖ, Σίμωνι Θεῷ ἁγίῳ.

So Cyril gives the Latin of this inscription as Simoni Deo Sancto: “To Simon, the holy god.” Turning to the CPA text, we have:

ܘܟܠ ܕܢ ܐܛܥܝ ܪܘܡܐ ܡܕܝܢܬܐ܃ ܠܡܠܘ ܕܐܩܝܡ ܠܗ ܩܠܘܕܝ ܨܠܡ ܘܟܬܒ ܥܠܘܝ ܒܠܝܫܢܐ ܪܘܡܝܐ ܣܝܡܘܢ ܕܐܝܘܣ ܙܢܩܛܘ܃ ܡܐ ܕܗܘ ܡܬܪܓܡ ܘܡܘܕܥ ܣܝܡܘܢ ܐܠܗ ܩܕܝܫ

wkl d<y>n ʔṭʕy rwmʔ mdyntʔ lmlw dʔqym lh qlwdy ṣlm wktb ʕlwy blyšnʔ rwmyʔ symwn dʔyw{s} znqṭw mʔ dhw mtrgm wmwdʕ symwn ʔlh qdyš

The translation is straightforward and makes sense, but the appearance of the Latin inscription, which the CPA translator would have seen in Greek letters, is a bit mangled, not surprisingly. There is no indication of the dative -i in symwn, the -s of dʔyws should be deleted, and the znqṭw, while reflecting the right pronunciation of -γκτ-/-nct-, is a little odd for having a z- at the beginning. In addition, in the CPA version of the Greek translation of the Latin inscription, we really expect the preposition l- to mark the dedication, but there is not one.

Every translation naturally deals with at least two languages, but sometimes, as here, another language also makes an appearance, and, also as here, that appearance may offer an opportunity for some confusion, yet it also grants us an opportunity to have a glimpse at translators and/or scribes with their feet in a more or less complicated labyrinth of more than two languages.

*Greek and CPA published side-by-side in Christa Müller-Kessler and Michael Sokoloff, The Catechism of Cyril of Jerusalem in the Christian Palestinian Aramaic Version, A Corpus of Christian Palestinian Aramaic Version 5 (Groningen, 1999), here pp. 60-61.

 


2 hours 11 min ago Play along at home with #hist3812a << Shawn Graham (Electric Archaeology)

In my video games and history class, I assign each week one or two major pieces that I want everyone to read. Each week, a subset of the class has to attempt a ‘challenge’, which involves reading a bit more, reflecting, and devising a way of making their argument – a procedural rhetoric – via a game engine (in this case, Twine). Later on, they’ll be building in Minecraft. Right now, we have nearly 50 students enrolled.

If you’re interested in following along at home, here are the first few challenges. These are the actual prompts cut-n-pasted out of our LMS. Give ‘em a try if you’d like, upload to philome.la, and let us know! Ours will be at hist3812a.dhcworks.ca

I haven’t done this before, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens next.

Introduction to #hist3812a

Challenge #1

Read:

  1. Fogu, Claudio. ‘Digitalizing Historical Consciousness’, History and Theory 2, 2009.
  2. Tufekci, Zeynep. ‘What Happens to #Ferguson Affects Ferguson: Net Neutrality, Algorithmic Filtering and Ferguson. MediumAugust 14 2014

Craft:

A basic Twine that highlights the ways the two articles are connected.

Share:

Put your Twine build (the *html file) into the ‘public’ folder in your Dropbox account (if you don’t have a public folder, just right-click and select public link – see this help file). Share the link on our course blog:

  1. Create a new post.
  2. Hit the ‘html’ button.
  3. type:
  4. Preview your post to make sure it loads your Twine.

Play:

Explore others’ Twines and be ready to discuss this process and these readings in Tuesday’s class.

A history of games, and of video games

Challenge #2

Read & Watch:

Antecedents (read the intros):

Shannon, C. A Mathematical Theory of Communication  Reprinted with corrections from The Bell System Technical Journal, Vol. 27, pp. 379–423, 623–656, July, October, 1948. http://cm.bell-labs.com/cm/ms/what/shannonday/shannon1948.pdf

Turing, Alan Mathison. “On computable numbers, with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem.” J. of Math 58 (1936): 345-363. http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~robins/Turing_Paper_1936.pdf

Cold War (watch this entire lecture): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_otw7hWq58A

1980s:

Dillon, Roberto. The golden age of video games : the birth of a multi-billion dollar industry CRC Press, c2011.

Christiansen, Peter ‘Dwarf Norad: A Glimpse of Counterfactual Computing History’ Play the Past August 6 2014 http://www.playthepast.org/?p=4892

Craft:

A Twine that imagines what an ENIAC developed to serve the needs of historians might’ve looked like, ie explore Christiansen’s argument.

Share:

Put your Twine build (the *html file) into the ‘public’ folder in your Dropbox account. Share the link on our course blog by:

  1. Create a new post.
  2. Hit the ‘html’ button.
  3. type:
  4. Preview your post to make sure it loads your Twine.

Play:

Explore others’ Twines and be ready to discuss this process and these readings in Tuesday’s class.

Historical Consciousness and Worldview

Challenge #3

Read:

Kee, Graham, et al. ‘Towards a Theory of Good History Through Gaming’ The Canadian Historical Review
Volume 90, Number 2, June 2009 pp. 303-326.

http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/can/summary/v090/90.2.kee.html

Travis, Roger. ‘Your practomimetic school: Duck Hunt or BioShock?’ Play the Past Oct 21 2011 http://www.playthepast.org/?p=2067

Owens, T. ‘What does Simony say? An interview with Ian Bogost’ Play the Past Dec 13, 2012 http://www.playthepast.org/?p=3394

Travis, Roger. ‘A Modest Proposal for viewing literary texts as rulesets, and for making game studies beneficial for the publick’ Play the Past Feb 9 2012 http://www.playthepast.org/?p=2417

McCall, Jeremiah. “Historical Simulations as Problem Spaces: Some Guidelines for Criticism”. Play the Past http://www.playthepast.org/?p=2594

(Not assigned, but more of Travis’ work: http://livingepic.blogspot.ca/2012/07/rules-of-text-series-at-play-past.html)

Craft:

A Twine that exposes the underlying rhetorics of the game of teaching history.

Share:

Put your Twine build (the *html file) into the ‘public’ folder in your Dropbox account. Share the link on our course blog by:

  1. Create a new post.
  2. Hit the ‘html’ button.
  3. type:
  4. Preview your post to make sure it loads your Twine.

Play:

Explore others’ Twines and be ready to discuss this process and these readings in Tuesday’s class.

Critical Play Week

Challenge # 4

Remember: 

Keep notes on the discussions from the critical play session; move around the class, talk with people about what they’re playing, why they’re making the moves they’re doing, and think about the connections with the major reading.

(nb, I’ve assigned all the students to bring in video games, board games, in both sessions this week that we’ll play. We might decamp to the game lab in the library to make this work. This group will observe the play. I’ve also pointed them to Feminist Frequency as an example of the kind of criticism I want them to emulate).

Craft:

Devise a Twine that captures the dynamic and discussions of this week’s in-class critical play. Remember, for historians, it may be all about time and space.

Share:

Put your Twine build (the *html file) into the ‘public’ folder in your Dropbox account. Share the link on our course blog by:

  1. Create a new post.
  2. Hit the ‘html’ button.
  3. type:
  4. Preview your post to make sure it loads your Twine.

Play:

Explore others’ Twines and be ready to discuss this process and these readings in Tuesday’s class.

Material Culture and the Digital

Challenge #5

Read

Montfort et al, ‘Introduction’, 10 Print http://10print.org/ (download the pdf)

Montfort et al, ‘Mazes,’ 10 Print http://10print.org/ (download the pdf)

Bogost, Ian, Montfort, N. ‘New Media as Material Constraint: An Introduction to Platform Studies.’ 1st International HASTAC Conference, Duke University, Durham NC  http://bogost.com/downloads/Bogost%20Montfort%20HASTAC.pdf

Craft:

Make a Twine game that emulates Space Invaders; then discuss (within the Twine) the interaction between game, platform, and experience. Think also about ‘emulation’…

OR

Play one of these games, reviewing it via Twine, thinking about in a way that reverses the points made my Montfort & Bogost (ie, think about the way the physical is represented in the software).

Share:

Put your Twine build (the *html file) into the ‘public’ folder in your Dropbox account. Share the link on our course blog by:

  1. Create a new post.
  2. Hit the ‘html’ button.
  3. type:
  4. Preview your post to make sure it loads your Twine.

Play:

Explore others’ Twines and be ready to discuss this process and these readings in Tuesday’s class.

 


3 hours 9 min ago Focus on Artefact Hunting: Coin "Rescued" from What? << Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

"Well saved!" goes the tekkie sign of approval: "well saved M8". This refers to the myth that being in the topsoil somehow is sudden death for any artefact. The story goes that by hoiking finds like this out of the archaeological record and into their pockets, artefact hunters engaged in collection-driven exploitation of the archaeological record (called looters in other countries) are "saving history". No, what they are doing is taking artefacts from the archaeological record, that is not the same thing at all. It's like "saving ivory" by shooting the elephant.

A few days ago we had some tekkie sock puppet (K.P. Volkswagen)  trying to tell us that nitrates and plough damage were destroying the archaeological evidence contained in the topsoil, so we should be happy that artefact hunters are putting some of them in their pockets. I answered that here.

Now the PAS is jubilating that one of their "partners" has found a gold coin of Magnentius ("one of only eight found - hooray!"). Disregarding the sheer dumbdown of such artefact (and gold) centred heritage hoorayism, let's have a look at that coin: IOW-923F8F

Well first of all Philippa Walton has already pointed out that there is a lot of strange stuff (Roman-coin-wise) coming out of the Isle of Wight. She thinks that's fantastic, I reckon it's suspicious. The findspot of this one is "to be known as: Isle of Wight" (an island the size of a large cricket pitch, isn't it, so it does not matter that the findspot is so vague, does it Bloomsbury?). Searching the database brings us no nearer to working out what other finds were recorded by Mr Basford which had been found in "Isle of Wight" on the same Sunday 3rd August, so zero information what else might have been found on that site, just a loose gold coin from "somewhere on the IOW". Whoopee. 

But look at the state of it! Battered and chipped, scraped and eroded, nicked and nibbled, bent and twisted. Late Roman gold is pretty pure (96-97% at this period if my memory serves me right), so its really, really soft. So its no wonder that this coin which has been in the IOW topsoil perhaps since it was dropped in the 350s looks so completely knackered. Another winter's ploughing and the whole thing would no doubt (NO doubt, eh, Mr Volkswagen?) have disappeared....



Well, actually not quite. This coin could well have been rolling around in the ploughsoil for centuries with nothing more than the scratch under the nose. Or it might have been dug up by yon (unnamed) artefact hunter from below plough level, straight out of undisturbed archaeological layers below plough level. In neither case has it been "saved". Who is to say which of these alternatives is applicable? Certainly the FLO does not record anything like that. Indeed, the FLO does not seem all that interested in the artefact and what it tells us, though he notes it is "one of eight" and "RIC VIII, p. 155, cf. 247". But that is just typology, its what makes it the same as all the rest. So what's the flat edge about? That's not plough damage. The coin has been deliberately modified. Look aroung the flat edge, you can see it has been hammered. Does the FLO mention that? Nope. He weighs it, finds what RIC number it is, did not bother to mention that damage.

Then there's something odd about the edge of the obverse, behind the head. The PAS record here mitigates the loss of information from artefact hunting (because the hoiker has hoiked and taken it away and now has it in his pocketses, if not put onto eBay or passed it on to that nice coin man who advertises in "The Searcher"). That is why the PAS record is full of details about the odd relief seen in the photo. The description is a model of clarity and best practice in archaeological recording [ironic text OFF]. 

Actually the "description" (I use the term loosely) as it stands has not a word on what the photo shows - or rather does not show very well. Is that gold solder on the surface? is it some kind of corrosion product which has come out gold colour in Mr Basford's photos?  What lighting was used here? Or is this a case of damaged dies being used, with a later 'nick' on top? It is difficult to say, and it is precisely because it is difficult to say that the FLO should have put something in his description. 

Now this is Mr Basford, one of the PAS's greatest assets, been at it a long time, has a superb relationship with his "partners", is often the FLO that journalists are directed to by the BM press office. This is not one of the 500 mysterious volunteer karaoke recorders, this is an old hand who has a lot of experience in looking at coins.  

I am sure the reason for the omission to give an exhaustive description of the find which has already vanished from view into some ephemeral personal collection is that the FLO is very busy. They all are. They want to get that millionth object recorded and FLOs are working flat out to boost the database statistics. But what point is half a record? What is the point of 'preservation by record' if the records don't give important pieces of information in those records? On looking at the fuzzy photos I am led to suspect that we have here some kind of traces of metalworking activity, somebody has bashed that coin with a hammer and it is possible to suggest that those cruddy traces are the result of failed soldering or maybe even melting. Were any other metalworking traces found on this site? Is the site Late Roman, or is this a case of a gold coin being reused for sixth or seventh century jewellery? In the latter case, this would not be a dot on the "Roman Isle of Wight" dot distribution map, but the Early Medieval one. But basically, the FLO's record of this find reduces all of that to pure speculation for lack of any useful information. All the public knows is that a tekkie hoiked and kept one of eight coins of Magnentius from a site somewhere on the Isle of Wight which we are not being told about.

What does that photo show?

3 hours 9 min ago K. Blouin, Triangular Landscapes: Environment, Society, and the State in the Nile Delta under Roman Rule (OUP 2014) << G.W. Schwendner (What's New in Papyrology)
Triangular Landscapes
Environment, Society, and the State in the Nile Delta under Roman Rule
Katherine Blouin
464 pages | Five figures, five maps, 28 tables, and 14 halftones | 216x138mm



Offers the first historical case study dedicated to an area of the Nile Delta under Roman rule Situates Roman-period Mendesian evidence within a broader chronological and geopolitical context Engages with concepts, methods, and data that stem from papyrology, archaeology, Egyptology, geomorphology, and ethnology 

Between the Roman annexation of Egypt and the Arab period, the Nile Delta went from consisting of seven branches to two, namely the current Rosetta and Damietta branches. For historians, this may look like a slow process, but on a geomorphological scale, it is a rather fast one. How did it happen? How did human action contribute to the phenomenon? Why did it start around the Roman period? And how did it impact on ancient Deltaic communities? This volume reflects on these questions by focusing on a district of the north-eastern Delta called the Mendesian Nome. 

 The Mendesian Nome is one of the very few Deltaic zones documented by a significant number of papyri. To date, this documentation has never been subject to a comprehensive study. Yet it provides us with a wealth of information on the region's landscape, administrative geography, and agrarian economy. Starting from these papyri and from all available evidence, this volume investigates the complex networks of relationships between Mendesian environments, socio-economic dynamics, and agro-fiscal policies. Ultimately, it poses the question of the 'otherness' of the Nile Delta, within Egypt and, more broadly, the Roman Empire. Section I sets the broader hydrological, documentary, and historical contexts from which the Roman-period Mendesian evidence stem. Section II is dedicated to the reconstruction of the Mendesian landscape, while section III examines the strategies of diversification and the modes of valorization of marginal land attested in the nome. Finally, section IV analyses the socio-environmental crisis that affected the nome in the second half of the second century AD. Readership: For scholars and students with an interest in the Egyptian economy in the Roman period.
3 hours 22 min ago Ann Brownlee on the Potter’s Quarter << Corinthian Matters

It must be a sign of the official end of summer in the U.S. that the Penn Museum Blog has been running a series of final field reports on field work and study at archaeological sites in Egypt, Iraq, Italy, Xinjiang, Turkey, and Greece.

One of these posts comes from Ann Brownlee, Associate Curator of the Mediterranean Section of the Penn Museum, who writes about her summer work studying the Archaic pottery and vase painting from the Potter’s Quarter.

I am writing from the site of Ancient Corinth, where excavations under the auspices of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens have been going on since the late 19th century….At Corinth, I am working on late seventh and early sixth century BCE pottery from the area known as the Potters’ Quarter.   Up next to the city wall on the west side of the city, the Potters’ Quarter is one of the sites around the city where pottery was produced.   The Potters’ Quarter was excavated by Agnes Newhall Stillwell, a graduate of Bryn Mawr College, for several years beginning in 1929, when she was a fellow at the American School.  No kilns where the pottery was fired have been discovered in the Potters’ Quarter, but the large quantities of damaged–misfired, cracked, misshapen–pottery as well as much material associated with pottery production, especially try-pieces, that are found in fills and deposits make clear that pottery was produced nearby.

I am working on the very large quantity of material from a well–Well 1929-1 in Corinth nomenclature–in the Potters’ Quarter.  The well was dug in the 7th century BCE and once it went dry, it was filled up with quantities of pottery, discarded no doubt from nearby potteries.  Some of the pottery from the well was published by Stillwell and J. L. Benson (Corinth XV:3:  The Potters’ Quarter: The Pottery.  Princeton 1984), but much remained unstudied and that is what I am working on.  I am particularly interested in the different painters whose work is represented in the well’s contents, and here I’ll focus on the painters of the shape known in Corinth as the kotyle.  It’s the same as a skyphos, a deep two-handled drinking cup, and the kotyle is very common in Corinthian pottery of the late seventh to mid-sixth centuries BCE.   Some Corinthian kotylai (the plural ofkotyle) are very fine, but not the ones I’m working with.   An example, Corinth C-31-46, (fig. 2) from elsewhere at Corinth shows the shape–only one handle is visible here–and the decorative scheme, which includes a figural zone that here has an elongated panther and part of another animal.

Read the full post here.


3 hours 24 min ago Standing Buddha 3rd-4th Century AD Pakistan (Gandhara) (Source:... << Ancient Peoples

Standing Buddha

3rd-4th Century AD

Pakistan (Gandhara)

(Source: The Metropolitan Museum)

4 hours 15 min ago Dispatches from Iraqi Kurdistan: Survey Far Beyond the Hilly Flanks << Penn Museum Blog

Survey in the newly opened archaeological frontier of Iraqi Kurdistan comes with many challenges. Other reports from University of Pennsylvania graduate students on the project about various aspects of our work have been put up on the Beyond the Museum Walls blog but my own work deals specifically with the survey in our area. This season of the Rowanduz Archaeological Project (RAP) included excavations at Banahilk, Gird-i Dasht, Sidekan Bank and Gund-i Topzawa as well as survey in the area of Sidekan. These excavations uncovered material spanning from the Neolithic to the Ottoman periods and make up a large area. Simultaneously, we conducted a survey of the area of the Soran district of Iraqi Kurdistan, but with particular attention on the Sidekan district. In addition to participating in the excavations at Gird-i Dasht and Gund-i Topzawa, my role on the project is to conduct the survey, which has its own challenges and rewards.

Map of RAP 2013 survey area, with sites noted on the bottom

Map of RAP 2013 survey area, with sites noted on the bottom

Survey, in general, consists of traveling the landscape looking for evidence of human occupation and interaction. A great number of posts on this blog have also dealt with this aspect of archaeology. One of the most commonly used methods for survey is walking straight transects along fields and other flat areas to locate and document the presence of pottery on the surface. The amount and location of the pottery sherds is noted and an overall picture of the density of pottery can be seen. This information can then be used to show areas where humans in the past spent time and presumably participated in activities. I performed field transects in areas around known sites and encountered a challenge to survey in the area— dense vegetation covering much of the surface. While it yielded some results, the low visibility of the surface led to imperfect results.

View across the Topzawa Valley. Most of the area has thick vegetation except for the small plowed field.

View across the Topzawa Valley. Most of the area has thick vegetation except for the small plowed field.

Prospection, on the other hand, is a method that usually takes place over large areas and attempts to find sites and features. One can travel by foot, car or anything in between noting areas that look modified by humans or that have artifacts on the surface. GPS points are taken at points of interest and sites and their corresponding characteristics are noted. This became the most productive ways in which to locate sites and gather valuable data. Two major factors make this possible. One is the scarcity of archaeological survey taken in the area. Only one foreign survey by Rainer Boehmer, in 1973, occurred in this area, and it was merely a few days. The second is a massive road cut running parallel to the Topzawa River which cut a number of sites and burials. It was this construction and destruction that first alerted us to the presence of the site of Gund-i Topzawa. Walking this road cut is a special type of archaeological survey; massive walls, complete stratigraphy, burnt layers, complete pottery vessels and even complete rooms with ceilings are visible in the cut. It was my job to record the location of these sites along the cut which will help lead to finding similar sites buried below the surface.

Survey along the road-cut (left) with the highest peaks of the Zagros in the background

Survey along the road-cut (left) with the highest peaks of the Zagros in the background

This season the survey took place almost exclusively in the area around Sidekan, a mountainous valley that extends to the Iran-Iraq border. While the areas under governance of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) have been experiencing rapid growth and development, Sidekan remains a rural village of only a few thousand people.

The main commercial area of the village of Sidekan

The main commercial area of the village of Sidekan

Soran’s population, in contrast, swelled over the last few years to nearly 200,000.

View of the city of Soran at dusk

View of the city of Soran at dusk

Most of the population in the Sidekan area lives along the rivers of Topzawa and Senne that wind their way down from the peaks of the Zagros Mountains that form the border. This border was not only an important division in antiquity but throughout recent history. Remnants of the massive destruction during the Iran-Iraq war are minefields that were placed along this frontier, a number of which still remain. With regards to archaeological survey this creates difficulties as these areas obviously must be avoided. They are, of course, also a danger to the many people who live in this area.

Mountains are the defining feature of the terrain in the survey. Sidekan rests in a valley system that forms the last set of peaks before the chaine magistrale, the highest peaks of the Zagros Mountains that form the modern border between Iran and Iraq. Our site of Gund-i Topzawa was at about 4,000 feet above sea level and during a day of survey, our car reached an altitude of 10,000 feet.

View down into the Topzawa Valley. Hiked to current point surveying hill for archaeological remains. Steep way down!

View down into the Topzawa Valley. Hiked to current point surveying hill for archaeological remains. Steep way down!

These high elevations manifest themselves in steep slopes and limited flat areas which make walking many of the areas difficult, many times impossible. Sometimes a moderately difficult hike up the hill can become frightening descent down the mountain. Archaeologically, it also changes the types of occupation compared to the vast flat plains of Mesopotamia. Massive mounds which characterize much of Near Eastern archaeology are near absent from the landscape. Rather, settlement seems to take place in terraces along the rivers into the hills, as the excavation at Gund-i Topzawa has begun to reveal.

This season’s survey revealed a number of sites along this cut with pottery dating to the Iron Age (approximately 1000 BC -300BC), large stone walls and thick layers of burning. These seem to be part of a larger settlement pattern of villages that interacted with each other and were struck by a massive destruction event. The nature of this destruction and the identity of the attackers still must be solved, but it gives a fascinating beginning for the survey to begin.

 (left to right) Myself, Darren Ashby and Katherine Burge. Sitting in a room at Gund-i Topzawa, likely typical of the type of sites surveyed.

Penn graduates students: (left to right) Myself, Darren Ashby and Katherine Burge. Sitting in a room at Gund-i Topzawa, likely typical of the type of sites surveyed.

4 hours 15 min ago MOVIE REVIEW – Boudica: Warrior Queen << Peter Konieczny and Sandra Sadowski (History of the Ancient World)

MOVIE REVIEW – Boudica: Warrior Queen

Alex Kingston as Boudica - Warrior Queen

Alex Kingston as Boudica – Warrior Queen

“Boudica, take this message back to your people: Nobody defies Rome with impunity” ~ Catus

This weekend, as I prepare to embark on a visit to King’s Cross to join in the Battle Bride festivities in honour of Boudica, I decided to watch the 2003 made-for-TV movie, Boudica: Warrior Queen. There is a belief that King’s Cross was the site of a major battle between the Romans and the Iceni and that Boudica is buried someplace between platform 9 and 10 in King’s Cross station, however, there is no historical or archaeological proof. It appears to be an urban legend that proliferated after WWII with the book, Boadicea: Warrior Queen by Lewis Spence. He used some flimsy pieces of evidence, and mixed in some mythology to concoct the story and it became extremely popular with the general public. King’s Cross will be holding a three day event to commemorate Boudica and while the celebration is based on myth, not historical fact, I will still attend to enjoy the festivites.

The Plot

The movie begins with Boudica, played by  Alex Kingston (ER, Doctor Who) as a deceased narrator, tells the story of her people from the grave. Boudica and her husband Prasutagus are king and queen of the Iceni tribe. They live a happy warrior life with their two teenage daughters, Isolda, played by Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada, Henry VIII) and Siora, played by Leanne Rowe (Oliver Twist, Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage)….that is…until the Romans arrive…*cue dramatic music*

Prasutagus, played by Steve Waddington (Last of the Mohicans, 1492: Conquest of Paradise) enters into a deal with the Devil by agreeing to a treaty with the Romans. The Iceni people, including their daughters and the local shaman priest, Magior, played by Gary Lewis (Billy Elliot, Gangs of New York) deplore the arrangement. Prasutagus is portrayed as a weak and feeble ruler, and after his death, the Romans, now under the rutheless Nero, played by Andrew Lee-Potts (Ideal, Primeval) refuse to honour their part of the treaty. They raid and enslave some of the Iceni and when Boudica goes to speak to the evil Roman lord, Catus, played by Steve John Shepherd (Eastenders, Being Human UK), and he has her daughters gang raped by Roman soldiers while she is flogged and forced to watch.

Boudica and Prasutagus

Boudica and Prasutagus

Heads held high, the walk away from the camp swearing their revenge. The mini plot twist here is that Isolda has fallen in love with one of the soldiers who is helpless to stop her public rape. Their love story is a tragedy, but Isolda’s character has a greater part to play in the movie than presumed.

“I want you to put down this rebellion. Bring that redheaded bitch back with you so she can be paraded through the streets of Rome dead or alive.” ~Nero

Boudica manages to unite the warring tribes to fight against their common encroaching Roman enemy. They destroy Camulodunum (modern day Colchester) and then make for Londinium (modern day London). Nero calls on General Suetonius (Gaius Suetonius Paulinus) played by Michael Feast (Plague Over England, State of Play) to quell the rebellion. Suetonius has no interest in Britian and thinks the fight is a waste of time and Roman life but Nero will not be swayed and he reluctantly agrees to go north.

Boudica - Warriror Queen

Boudica – Warriror Queen

“Look at them. They’re fighting this war to save their people. To keep the right to their own land, to preserve their religion and the right to practice it and we’re fighting it because….we’re here and it’s our job…professional pride, really. Not enough, is it?” ~ Suetonius

Outnumbered but tactically ahead of the Iceni, Suetonius wins the battle against Boudica and her united tribes. This signalled the last Roman resistance in Britain until 410 A.D.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I actually quite enjoyed this movie even though there were some historical missteps. The costuming wasn’t great but it did the job. The acting was decent; Kingston was a believable and entertaining Boudica. The dialogue wasn’t too cheesey and while there were some definite Braveheart styled speeches, those were kept to a minimum. Steve Waddington was forgettable, but then again, his character was written to be easily cowed so he did the role justice.

I enjoyed seeing a young Emily Blunt do a great job at playing a warrior queen’s daughter as Isolda. Her tragic love story didn’t mar the rest of plot and weaved itself in nicely to add fire to her warrior heart. Sadly, Leanne Rowe, who was her feisty sister Siora was, like her father, rather forgettable. I was sure she’d emerge as a bigger personality onscreen but other than a few brash words and insolent lines, she slunk into the background. Boudica’s family life is shrouded in mystery – there is no proper record of her daughter’s names or what happened to them after their mother’s death. The movie has a unique take on this which I won’t spoil but it is far from historical fact.

Nero sleeps with his mother

Nero sleeps with his mother

Lee-Potts’ take on Nero was a bit over the top and neurotic. The scene of him sleeping with his mother Agrippa, played by Fances Berber (Aladdin, The Seagull) was just utter schlock. There is no historical basis for that relationship and it was done to appeal to the popularly held myth that Nero was sleeping with his mother. It didn’t further the plot in any way and could’ve been left out, much like Boudica’s lame romance with the warrior Dervalloc played by Hugo Speer (The Full Monty, The Muskateers). It was a big onscreen fizzle and didn’t add anything to the story. The battle scenes were fun to watch but I can’t definitively tell you if they were authentic reproductions because military history is not my forte.

If you’re a fan of all things Roman, this movie should definitely be on your watch-list. it’s not the best Roman movie out there but it’s a good story about a warrior woman who took on Rome and became an English legend.

~Sandra Alvarez

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4 hours 56 min ago 1,800-year-old Roman site up for sale in Co Durham << Archaeological News on Tumblr

One of the most important archaeological sites in the North East is up for sale.

Binchester Roman town near Bishop Auckland is being sold by the Church Commissioners. Auckland Castle Trust say they fear it may fall into the hands of developers and have put in a £2m bid to buy the site.

But the Church Commissioners say fears of development on the site are “a scare story” and it is protected not just by the landowner but by the County Council, English Heritage and the Secretary of State.

Binchester, just outside Bishop Auckland, has some of Britain’s best-preserved Roman remains, including a bath house with seven-foot walls and painted plaster. Read more.

4 hours 59 min ago Web Design Process << Samuel Fee (Arranged Delerium)

In reflecting on the workflow debate, it became obvious to me that it all comes back to the process – it’s not really about tools. And if folks are conflating the two (as I did in my earlier post), they are missing the point. Since… Continue reading

5 hours 4 min ago Noah and Spider-Man << James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

Noah and Spider-Man

This response to a common argument from conservative Christians is brought to you by the blog God of Evolution.

5 hours 30 min ago In a solemn ceremony in Paris, France returns skull of New Caledonian chief, 135 years on << Archaeological News on Tumblr

PARIS (AFP).- France returned the skull of a New Caledonian rebel chief on Thursday, 135 years after it was cut off in a battle between the people of the South Pacific island and their French colonisers.

In a solemn ceremony in Paris, France’s Overseas Territories Minister George Pau-Langevin handed back the skull of the great Kanak rebel chief Atai to one of his descendants.

"I cannot tell you how emotional I am. I have waited for this moment for so many years. I had started to give up hope," said Berge Kawa, a direct descendant of the chief.

The story dates back to 1878, a quarter of a century after colonial power France had taken possession of the archipelago around 1,500 kilometres (900 miles) to the east of Australia. Read more.

5 hours 39 min ago Podcast ~ Drunk Archaeology: Trafficking Culture: Looting/Illicit Trade << David Meadows (rogueclassicism)

The official description:

YAY! Here’s the second episode of the Drunk Archaeology podcast! In this 65-min program, Donna Yates of anonymousswisscollector.com, Meg Lambert of traffickingculture.org, and Sarah Parcak of the Laboratory for Global Observation talk about looting and the illicit trade of antiquities. While drinking “Buried Treasure” and “Tomb Raiders”. In Scotland.