Maia Atlantis: Ancient World Blogs

1 hour 16 min ago Second Week of 2015 Excavations at Stensö Castle << Martin Rundkvist (Aardvarchaeology)

Adapting available labour and a pre-decided excavation agenda to each other is not easy, particularly when you’re doing investigative peek-hole fieldwork on a site whose depth and complexity of stratification you don’t know much about. At Stensö we had two of three trenches and all five test pits backfilled in time for Wednesday lunch’s on-site hot dog barbecue. Ethan Aines, Terese Liberg and three students stayed on to finish trench F, while myself, Mats Eriksson and six students moved to our new base at Landsjö Manor.

Trenches D and E and the test pits produced no big news after my last report. Trench F inside the tower yielded a neat midden of bones and abundant large potsherds just below the stairwell. Ethan suggests that there may have been a few wooden steps here, providing a convenient spot under them to sweep trash. I’m itching to get the pottery cleaned, classified and dated. In fact, I’m itching to learn Medieval pottery in more detail. We also got a funny domed sheet copper lid that looks like it might belong to a pitcher or beer stein. It was partly encased in stalagmite, so we can’t see all of it yet.

Domed sheet copper lid, inside view, Stensö Castle

Domed sheet copper lid, inside view, Stensö Castle

I think I’ve finally figured out where the west reach of Stensö’s perimeter wall is, and why we found it in trench A but not in trenches B or E. Now that I’ve seen it I don’t know how I missed it. There’s a low but very wide strip of rubble all around the NW, W and SW sides of the southern tower, clearly separate from the tower and at such a distance (5-10 m) that the rubble can’t have originated with the tower itself. In parts this rubble strip has quite a high and steep outer face. I’m pretty sure this is the robbed-out remains of the perimeter wall. I’ve planned it now but I didn’t have the foresight to apply for a permit to section it.

On Thursday the Trench F Five worked two hours’ overtime backfilling while getting fried by the sun inside the roofless tower. They must have been exhausted. I told them by phone to hit the pizza place afterwards, have a sleep-in and get their stuff packed up in a leisurely good time. When they arrived at Landsjö on Friday afternoon they were in good shape. By this time we had also been joined again by our excellent friend from the Kimstad Historical Society, Curt Andersson. On Monday I expect another friend to join, so there will be fifteen of us.

We need another boat! Because that’s how Landsjö Castle on its semi-landlocked islet is most conveniently reached. We’re digging three trenches at Landsjö: trench F inside the NW tower, trench G across the assumed line of the missing SE reach of perimeter wall (I have a new-found appreciation for why Victorian antiquarians always had their workmen follow walls around), and trench H on the odd rubble mound separated from the castle by a dry moat. Superficially it shows a quarry pit and the remains of a big badger sett, but I reckon there’s probably a gate tower under there as well.

Misty summer evening lit by the full moon at our lodgings at Smedstorp

Misty summer evening lit by the full moon at our lodgings at Smedstorp

1 hour 42 min ago Ancient 'mummy' unearthed from 'lost medieval civilisation' near Arctic, claim scientists << Archaeological News on Tumblr The expected but as yet unopened human remains are wrapped in birch bark and it is likely that this...
2 hours 17 min ago Some notes on the commentary on the psalms by Asterius the Sophist << Roger Pearse (Thoughts on Antiquity, Patristics, putting things online, and more)

This morning a Greek text of the remains of Asterius the Sophist’s Commentary on the Psalms came into my hands.[1]  The editor’s preface is quite interesting on this obscure writer, and I thought that I would transcribe a few remarks from it.

But who was this fellow?  Asterius was a pupil of Lucian of Antioch, but during the Great Persecution, led by Maximinus Daia, Lucian was martyred, and Asterius agreed to sacrifice to the pagan gods.  He was never ordained, in consequence, but after the Council of Nicaea, he seems to have come to support the Arian party.[2]  In consequence he wrote a booklet, the Syntagmation, promoting Arian ideas and circulated it industriously.[3]  He also wrote a now-lost refutation of Marcellus of Ancyra, who defended the Nicene definition ineptly, plus some commentaries, of which only material on the Psalms has been recovered.   He died around 341 AD.

Jerome thought him important enough to be listed in his De viris illustribus as follows:

He wrote during the reign of Constantius commentaries on the Epistle to the Romans, on the Gospels and on the Psalms and also many other works which are diligently read by those of his party

In Letter 112:20 Jerome adds that Asterius of the Sophist was one of the writers known to him who had written a commentary on all of the psalms.

Marcel Richard discovered that there are considerable remains of this commentary in the catena of type VI on Psalms 1-50.  This catena was composed in Palestine in the 6th century, and the selections from Asterius cover various verses of Ps. 1, 4-7, 10, 14-20, 34, 36 and 38.

In addition, in many of the manuscripts which transmit to us the homilies of John Chrysostom on the psalms, there is also a collection – in whole or in part – of 31 homilies on the psalms which are clearly not by Chrysostom.  Excerpts from some of these homilies also appear in the catena type VI, and are there labelled as being by Asterius the Arian.  There seems no pressing reason to reject the identification made by the catenist to seven of these homilies.  The homilies show no sign of Arian ideas, and doubtless belong to the ante-Nicene phase of Asterius’ life.  Other homilies in the same collection fit less well with Asterius, but Richard thought it best to edit the whole collection, plus the catena fragments, and let others decide which homilies were authentic.  In his edition, which follows the order of the manuscripts, homilies 4 and 5 (on Ps.4), homily 6 (on Ps.5), homily 12 (on Ps. 6), homily 13 (on Ps. 7), homily 19 (on Ps. 10), and homily 29 (on Ps.18) are definitely authentic.  Richard suggested that homily 10 may be by Origen; while homily 22 perhaps from an Apollinarist writer, while he notes that 26 actually attacks Arius and Eunomius; but his co-worker made a case that all the homilies are Asterian, and the attack is merely an ancient interpolation.

A number of the homilies are plainly intended for delivery as panegyrics on the eight days of Easter.  These are homilies 8, 9, 11, 14-16, 22, 30, and 31.

Asterius was an orator, and his style is “very exuberant”.  Richard suggests that, among the uncounted mass of pseudo-Chrysostomica, there are probably further examples of his style, perhaps in material on Romans, or on the Gospels.

The manuscripts of the collection mentioned by Richard are as follows:

A = Athos Magna Laura Θ 210, 17th century (Richard thinks 14-15), paper.  Complete, but missing homilies 1-2 and first part of 3.  The only witness to homilies 30 and 31, and the last few folios of 31 are lost because of damage to the manuscript.  The ms. has suffered from damp at the top, affecting the first 3 lines of the text.  The text contained in it is of good quality.

B = Paris suppl. gr. 266, f. 93-155v, 17-18th century.  The Greek text is followed by a Latin version of homilies 4-18, and 20:7-23:5.  Referred to by Montfaucon as “my manuscript, copied at the Escorial”.  It seems to be a copy of a manuscript with Latin material, made by a certain Fr Gabriel of St Jerome, which itself was copied from ms. Scorialensis I.Δ.11 (previously II.K.13), destroyed in the fire of 1671.  The Escorial ms. contained homilies of Chrysostom, and homilies 1-29 of this collection, and was “very ancient” according to surviving descriptions.

This Fr. Gabriel belonged to the monastery of the Escorial.  He intended to publish an edition of unpublished works of Chrysostom preserved in the mss of the Escorial, and submitted his work to the printer Cotelier.  The submitted text was in two parts; the first containing 23 homilies on the psalms, while the other contained the remaining 4 homilies, plus a commentary on Daniel.  However Cotelier was interested only in the second part, which he had purchased by Colbert, and published in 1661.  The manuscript of Fr Gabriel’s second part passed into the Bibliotheque Nationale, where it is today Ms. Paris gr. 659.  None of this material is related to our collection.

The manuscript of the first part contained 23 of the 27 homilies from Scorialensis I.Δ.11.  The Escorial ms. in fact contained still more homilies; but Fr Gabriel was naturally interested only in material which was unpublished.  Consequently he omitted the authentic homilies of Chrysostom on Ps.4-12, and also the Asterian homilies 1-3 and 25-27, because these 6 homilies were translated into Latin and printed in that form by G. Hervet, in 1549, and so were frequently reprinted with other translations of Chrysostom.

The manuscript of Fr. Gabriel’s edition ended up in Rome, where Montfaucon saw it, and made a copy.  Richard was unable to locate Fr. Gabriel’s manuscript in Rome, but Montfaucon’s copy was found at the BNF by R.P.A. Wenger, and Richard inspected it the very next morning!  The ms. is unbound, and has lost folios from the front.  But the text in it is important.

P = Paris gr. 654, a luxury manuscript from the second half of the 10th century.  It contains the end of homily 1 and homilies 2-18.  A couple of folios were lost from the front before the 13th century. The current first folio is a 13th century leaf, a palimpsest, which contains the whole of homily 1, but copied from another manuscript.  This leaf is labelled Q.

V = Vatican gr. 524, 11th century.  It only contains homilies 12-22, 25, 26-27, and 28.

C = Caesenatensis Malatestianus Plut. D XXVIII, 2.  Copied by a monk named Leo who finished on 4 September 1027.  Parchment.  Homilies 1-3, 25-27.

The 5 other manuscripts listed by Richard only contain selected homilies.  Interestingly, some of these come via copies of a manuscript once annotated by Photius.  There are also 4 mss which are only copies of other manuscripts, and 1 which is a copy of the text in Savile’s edition.  Richard also discusses the catena fragments.

The early editions naturally reflect the manuscripts.  I will only give selected details here, but Richard details the lot.

G. Hervet, D. Ioannis Chrysostomi vere aureae in psalmos homiliae…, Venice, 1549, prints a Latin translation of homilies 1-3 and 25-27, made from Ms. Vat. Ottob. 95, itself a copy of C.  This was reprinted at Anvers in 1552 and 1582, and then in all the general Latin editions Chrysostom from that of Venice, 1549, until that of Anvers in 1614.

Henry Savile’s 1612 edition of Chrysostom also included the first Greek edition of homilies 3 and 5 (in vol. 8, 1, and vol. 7, 431).  These he based on various late copies.

Homilies 6-13 were first printed with a Latin translation by J.B. Cotelier in Ecclesiae Graecae Monumenta, vol. 2, Paris, 1681, p.1-81.

Montfaucon’s edition of Chrysostom includes 3, 5 and 25, based on preceding editions, somewhat corrected.

The Patrologia Graeca reprinted Cotelier as vol. 40, col. 389-477, and Montfaucon in vol. 55, col. 35-39 (hom. 3), 539-544 (hom. 5), and 549-558 (hom. 25).

There was then no interest until Richard and Skard started work in 1949.  Richard also lists editions of the catena fragments, and a mess they are too.

My own interest in all this is concerned with homily 21, and its mention of Matt.27:25.  Sadly it looks as if it is neither Asterian, nor published other than by Richard in Greek (without a translation of any sort!)

  1. [1] Asterii Sophistae.  Commentariorum in Psalmos quae supersunt. Accedunt aliquot homiliae anonymae. Ed. Marcel Richard. In: Symbolae Osloenses fasc. suppl. 16, Oslo: Brogger, 1956. P.3-245.
  2. [2] Indications to this effect may be found in Philostorgius, HE, book 2, 15; and book 4, 4; so Richard, p.iii.
  3. [3] Athanasius, De synodis 18, and De decret. 8.
2 hours 20 min ago Archaeologists uncover new finds at historic Jamestown << Archaeological News on Tumblr Archaeologists at the historic James Fort site of Jamestown in southern Virginia may be closing in...
2 hours 58 min ago Hidden history revealed in Ermenek << Archaeological News on Tumblr Best known for coal, the ground beneath the southern Anatolian district of Ermenek is continuing to...
2 hours 58 min ago Turkey Blamed for Syrian Antiquities Drain << Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Moscow's "Sputnik" is reporting "Turkey Not Cooperating With Syria on Returning Smuggled Artefacts" which will no doubt please the lobbyists for the international cabal of antiquity dealers who do not want to see items repatriated to Syria while there is a civil war going on.
Ankara [has] refused to cooperate with Damascus on returning of ancient artifacts smuggled by the Islamic State (IS) militant group from Syria through Turkey, the head of Syria's Directorate-General for Antiquities and Museums (DGAM) told Sputnik on Friday. According to Maamun Abdel Karim, statues, paintings, artifacts and ancient mosaics stolen from Syria have repeatedly been found on sale on the open market in the Turkish city of Gaziantep since the way for stolen in northern Syria ancient values lies through uncontrolled border with Turkey.
The official called on the international community to help Syria in returning the objects that had already been smuggled to Europe, North America and the Gulf states. So far the dealers are resisting, basically by pretending the problem does not exist, and if it does, it is not their fault ("It wasn't me miss"), and if forced to go dangerously close to admitting it is, to trot out a Two Wrongs argument ("but Bazza does it too miss, but you don't tell him off").
3 hours 33 min ago Happy Independence Day! << James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

For this 4th of July, I thought I would repost something I wrote on this occasion in 2008:

It is the 4th of July, and in the United States, we often find people mixing Christianity and nationalism in ways that are at best ironic, and at times downright contradictory. The 4th of July is thus an appropriate day for reflection on Christianity, nationalism, and what might have been different had the colonies in the New World not fought for their independence.

First, we should remember the ways that Jesus challenged the nationalism of his time. There has been some interesting discussion of Bible translation in the blogospherelately. If we’re going to translate so as to make the meaning intelligible to any reader in a language today, then we have to effectively translate the impact of the story or saying, and the shock it would have caused to its original hearers.

I wonder how many American Christians would value their Bibles as highly as they do now in theory, if they contained such dynamically equivalent translations, and said things like “Many will come from Iraq and Afghanistan and take their place in the kingdom of God, while many Americans will be cast out.” Ouch!

We also need to remember that today we celebrate our declaring our independence from a “Christian empire”, and our independence surely contributed to the weakening and downfall of that empire. With the wealth and potential for expansion that ended up in the hands of the United States rather than Britain, presumably England’s empire would have remained powerful for much longer. Its holdings also included the Middle East, and so all those lines that the British drew when they withdrew, creating nation-states that separated people who wanted to be together and lumped together people who wanted to be separate, would perhaps not be there even today.

Where would the Baptists and others who valued religious freedom have fled to?

Without this loss of prominence and dominance, would the Church of England have become such a broad tradition with such a progressive outlook in at least some quarters, ordaining women and eventually even homosexuals?

If the “United States” had remained part of this “Christian empire”, then rather than celebrating our independence today, there might be many groups, including Christian groups, hoping and praying and perhaps even fighting for their independence from us.

Think about it… and remember, if we don’t use our independence wisely, Alan Baxter, John Cleese and/or the Queen might still revoke it

Have a happy 4th of July!

4 hours 36 min ago Benedict Arnold Plaque, London << Dorothy King (PhDiva)
It's become a family tradition to take visiting relatives to the Benedict Arnold plaque, and snap a photo of them in front of it ...

62 Gloucester Place, London W1U 8HW  - map

I want to know more ... -»
4 hours 37 min ago Review of Zellentin, The Qur’an’s Legal Culture << Jim Davila ( MARGINALIA REVIEW OF BOOKS: The Ancient Origins of Qur’anic Laws – By Emran El-Badawi.
Are the origins of the Qur’an’s laws and rituals traceable to a single ancient community of Jewish-Christians? Although long debated, this controversial yet hugely important question receives the expert analysis of Holger Zellentin, The Qur’an’s Legal Culture: The Didascalia Apostolorum as a Point of Departure.
The review concludes:
The Qur’an’s Legal Culture is an elegant and exciting read on an otherwise dense and highly complex subject. Zellentin ties in qur’anic laws with Jewish customs and Christian texts. In doing so, he allows the reader to understand the Qur’an in textual rather than political terms, and to locate the text at the very center rather than the periphery of western civilization.
4 hours 37 min ago AntiquityNOW Wishes You a Happy and Safe Fourth of July! << Antiquity Now Planning on enjoying fireworks? Read our blog post, “The History of Fireworks: Celebrating Life’s Moments in Color, Light and Sound,” to learn more about the history of fireworks! Or, if you have kids or students, check out our annotated Kids’ Blog, “Boom! … Continue reading
4 hours 57 min ago Have the Essenes been marginalized? << Jim Davila ( THE BIBLE AND INTERPRETATION:
On Jesus, the Essenes, and the Anxiety of Influence

By Simon J. Joseph
California Lutheran University
June 2015
A brief and evidently programmatic essay. Regarding this:
Although the work of The Enoch Seminar challenges and expands the definition of the “Essenic/Enochic” movement, it seems that today, with few notable exceptions, the “Essenes” continue to be marginalized in biblical scholarship – often demoted from being a powerful socio-political force within first-century Judaism to being the isolated, misanthropic, and ultra-legalistic recluses of “the Qumran community” or the literary-ideological fantasies of Josephus, Philo, and Pliny.
I am always pleased to see the Enoch Seminar getting good press, but I would like to see Professor Joseph's characterization of current Qumran scholarship, as well as his arguments for the positive case he assumes about the Essenes, argued in greater detail. It would have been helpful also if he had named some names and specific works. But presumably he does this in some of his own published work, which he highlights in the first paragraph of the essay.
4 hours 58 min ago Nordic PhD trip to Rome << Jim Davila ( LIV INGEBORG LIED: NNJCI excursion to Rome. A travel seminar on "Judaism and Christianity in Rome in the first millennium" for PhD students, organized by the Nordic PhD network NNJCI in October. Looks like fun.
5 hours 22 min ago Review of McKenzie et al., The Nabataean Temple at Khirbet et-Tannur, Jordan, vol. 1 << Jim Davila ( BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW:
Judith S. McKenzie et al. , The Nabataean Temple at Khirbet et-Tannur, Jordan. Volume 1: Architecture and Religion. Volume 2: Cultic Offerings, Vessels, and Other Specialist Reports. Final Report on Nelson Glueck's 1937 Excavation. Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research, 67-68. Boston: American Schools of Oriental Research, in collaboration with Manar al-Athar, University of Oxford, 2013. Pp. xxvii, 340; xx, 329 . ISBN 9780897570350; 9780897570367. $89.95; $89.95.

Reviewed by Laïla Nehmé, CNRS–UMR8167, Paris (

These two volumes form the long-awaited publication of the excavations undertaken at Khirbet et-Tannur, in southern Jordan, in 1937 by Nelson Glueck, then the director of the American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem, supported by a team of archaeologists, architects, draftsmen and photographers. These excavations were never fully published because of the delay imposed by World War II and due to Glueck’s busy career, particularly, from 1947 onwards, as president of the Cincinnati Hebrew Union College.

Cross-file under Nabatean (Nabataean) Watch.
5 hours 26 min ago 96. How much did Hadrian’s Wall weigh? << Per Lineam Valli

This is a fairly meaningless question, except as an indication of how much material the Roman army would have had to acquire, move, and assemble. Assuming a volume of 10m³ for a metre of curtain wall (including parapet and consisting of dressed sandstone facing, rubble core, and lime mortar), and a mass of 20 tonnes for the requisite amount of stone and mortar, the curtain wall alone would have weighed in the order of 2.4 million tonnes over its 119km. With turrets, milecastles, and forts added in, this would probably come closer to 3 million tonnes.

Further reading: Hill 2006

5 hours 35 min ago July 4th, 2015 << Jim Davila ( HAPPY AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE DAY to all those celebrating!

Tangentially related: Hebrew word of the week: Artsot ha-brit (The United States) (Yona Sabar).
5 hours 43 min ago Happy 4th of July! << Dorothy King (PhDiva)

6 hours 13 min ago Antiquities Dealers' Lobbying << Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

From correspondence: 
"They are not paying him for accuracy,  just overall disruptive effect".
Guess the context of this discussion of a timewaster. 
7 hours 36 min ago Friday retrospect: Four Years of Aggro for Asking "Where Are these Artefacts Now?" << Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Veteran metal detectorist Dick Stout expresses his 'anger' on Peter Tompa's blog that, four years ago, I asked a question about a photo from the end of the 1970s early 1980s which I found on his blog. The photo shows coin folders full of artefacts, a heap of loose artefacts on the living room floor. Since he objects to my using it here, even for legitmate comment, review and criticism, I'll just use an artist's impression. The original is here.

A metal detectorist and his private cache of historical artefacts heaped loose on the floor.

The question is a simple one, what happens to these heaps of loose artefacts when a collector passes away or loses interest in them? Mr Stout was so "insulted" by this question that he has conducted a vendetta against me and my blog and associates for the past four years, with hardly a week going by without some insulting post or other.  The question however remains. What are the net gains and losses to the finite historical record represented by this heap of artefacts with very little evidence that they can be associated with any findspot? Multiply that by ten thousand detectorists in a region and draw your own conclusions why there is concern about the effects of this hobby. Here is the original post that the over-sensitive (methinks) Mr Stout claims he found so "insulting". Maybe when the metal detectorist  grows up he'll take another look and begin to reflect on the implications himself:

Monday, 16 January 2012

Focus on Metal Detecting: Where are these Artefacts Now?

Recently posted on the Stout Standards anti-preservationist metal detecting blog of US metal detectorist Dick Stout there is a photo of somewhat dated living room decor and heaps of metal detected artefacts from the "late 70's, early 80's". It shows US metal detectorist Archie Ray "with a few of his finds". The photo was captioned "Back then you had to have a photo like that taken. We all did". It shows Mr Ray crouching on the floor in front of several piles of corroded metal artefacts, to the left are some projectiles dug up on some historic battlefield no doubt, right across the foreground is a row of shallow display cases and folders of coin sheets, on the right of the photo  is another row of display cases chock-full of artefacts. That single photograph shows several thousand artefacts dug up by Mr Ray in the course of the (first part of) his detecting 'career'. One wonders just what the point was of digging that many artefacts out of the historic record, what that collector did with them all except heap them as trophies on his living room carpet?

So if every metal detectorist in the late 1970s and 1980s had a comparable collection, and tens of thousands of metal detectorists since then have each been accumulating collections of similar sized for the last three decades, then it may be imagined the scale and rate at which the historical record is being eroded wherever this damaging hobby is practised. As the older generation of artefact hunters pass away, where do all those finds end up? On ebay, in museums, or in a skip? Oddly enough I cannot see the big pile of notebooks or index cards or whatever Mr Ray would have needed to document the findspot of all those artefacts. Perhaps they are behind the photographer. The historical resource is a finite resource, the more and more past and current generations of self-centres collectors take away, the less there is left for future generations to enjoy.

9 hours 37 min ago Special Edition: July 4 << Laura Gibbs (Bestiaria Latina Blog) For today's special edition, I decided to select some Latin sayings about liberty, along with some cats who know the value of being free, not slaves.

Libertas optima rerum.
Freedom is the best thing.

Sine iustitia nulla libertas.
Without justice there is no freedom.

Fac sapias et liber eris.
Get wise and you will be free.

In libertate labor.
In freedom, there is work.

Nemo nisi sapiens liber est.
No one, unless he is wise, is free.

Vigilia pretium libertatis.
Vigilance is the price of freedom.

Nemo liber est qui corpori servit.
No one is free who is a slave to the body.

O nomen dulce libertatis!
O sweet name of liberty!

Ubi libertas, ibi patria.
Where I am free, there is my homeland.

Quam dulcis libertas!
How sweet freedom is!

In libris libertas.
In books there is freedom.

Nolite fieri servi hominum.
Become not servants of men.

14 hours 6 min ago The Temple of Bacchus at Baalbek, Lebanon, ca. 150 AD. This... << Ancient Art

The Temple of Bacchus at Baalbek, Lebanon, ca. 150 AD. This stunning Roman temple, still very well preserved, is actually larger than the Parthenon of Athens.

Photos courtesy of Varun Shiv Kapur.

14 hours 30 min ago Monuments of Syria أوابد سورية: A Window on Syria's Past by Ross Burns << Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online) [First posted in AWOL 14 October 2012, updated 3 July 2015]
Monuments of Syria أوابد سورية: A Window on Syria's Past by Ross Burns
This website was initiated in mid-2011, shortly after Syria entered into one of the most tragic and agonising series of events in its long history. I wanted to find some way of keeping alive the memory of Syria’s extraordinarily diverse past while it remained largely closed to visitors due to the violence that has prevailed in much of the country. It remains to be seen what will emerge from these events but I hope that the memories outsiders have of its extraordinary people and their respect for and appreciation of their past, will strengthen as a result of this terrible experience.

And see also:

Monuments of Syria Photostream 
This Flickr site brings together a large number of photographs of archaeological sites in both Syria and Southeast Turkey. The site gives a sample of the archive of 70,000 photos taken over the last 40 years which [the author] hopes to make available to a wider audience. In case of further inquiries, a mailbox is available either through Flickr or here.
15 hours 36 min ago Hundreds of Answers and Eighty-One Questions << James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

Kevin DeYoung posted 40 questions on the Gospel Coalition website, aimed at Christians who support marriage equality. They are all the sort of thing you would expect from a conservative Christian website like The Gospel Coalition – and thus are things which most Christians who’ve thought about this issue will have already considered. A lot of people have responded. Here is a round-up of the ones I am aware of:

Susan Cottrell

Buzz Dixon

Kimberly Knight

Ben Irwin

R. L. Stollar

Aaron Porteous

Theology is Poetry

John Shore addressed some questions to DeYoung. Many of them are excellent:

What Bible verses led you to override your own innate moral sense?

Why do you think it’s okay to quote from the Bible without any reference to the context of that quote? (asked several times)

Do you think there’s anything unhealthy about the amount of time and energy you spend thinking and worrying about the “sexual sins” of others?

Each is a response to one of DeYoung’s questions – and so see DeYoung’s questions in bold here with Shore’s corresponding questions:

Do you think close family members should be allowed to get married? Do you think you should be a guest on The Jerry Springer Show?

Should marriage be limited to only two people? Should you replace Jerry on The Jerry Springer Show?

Does equality entail that anyone wanting to be married should be able to have any meaningful relationship defined as marriage? Do you think it’s acceptable to foster the persecution of an innocent sub-population by posing inflammatory and irrelevant questions as if those questions were thoughtful, legitimate, and pertinent?

Shore’s questions range from the serious to the sarcastic, but he adds some additional serious commentary, including the following:

DeYoung’s core premise informing every one of his questions is the same: Any Christian who affirms LGBT equality is sinning against God and destined for hell.

And this is exactly why DeYoung’s faux-humble questions are so loathsome: He’s flat-out (if ever-so-subtly) bullying Christians who have changed their minds, or are considering changing their minds, on the issue homosexuality. He knows his audience; he knows who reads The Gospel Coalition, where he blogs. He knows that many of his readers are right now questioning the idea that homosexuality is a sin. And he knows how emotionally vulnerable that kind of questioning can make people who were raised amidst the same brand of toxic Christianity that he makes his living selling.

Matthew Vines likewise responded with 40 questions of his own, highlighting how it is often presumed that only those whose viewpoint is not traditional need to defend their stance. Alise at Knitting Soul only had one question – but with some commentary that is worth quoting:

But here’s the question I’ve been afraid to ask of the people who claim to speak for God for a long time.

When are you going to listen to the answers to your questions?

It takes a lot of arrogance to ask people who have been marginalized for much of history to prove that they don’t deserve that marginalization.

It takes a lot of arrogance to require people in loving, consensual relationships to prove that they aren’t like people who prey on the weak and abused.

It takes a lot of arrogance to assume that people who have waited centuries to enjoy the same protections under the law need to “slow down and think about the flag (they’re) flying.”

It takes a lot of arrogance to ask people who live every day with fear of losing their jobs, losing their families, losing their churches to promise that they won’t be mad at people who support laws and practices that encourage those things.

It takes a lot of arrogance to set yourself up as a martyr when your words have caused parents to turn their children out on the street, when your words have driven people to suicide.

My friends don’t have to answer your questions. I don’t have to answer your questions. They’ve been answered, over and over and over again.

If you don’t want to listen to why we’re waving the flag, that’s your business. But until you’re willing to answer why you won’t listen, I’m done answering your questions.

With all that, I’m not sure that there is any point in writing my own answers – especially since I don’t share the assumption of the Gospel Coalition that “verses” and “passages” are the definitive way that matters ought to get settled.

Have I missed any other blog posts or articles which answer the questions?




16 hours 26 min ago Ode to the Tangut Tripitaka : Part 1 << Andrew West (Babelstone) Acknowledgements This two-part post is based on a presentation I gave for the Tangut workshop at Cambridge University in September 2014. I would like to express my gratitude to Imre Galambos for organizing the event, and for the helpful comments and suggestions made by Imre, Nathan Hill, Guillaume Jacques and the other participants that enabled me to develop the talk into its current form. I
17 hours 22 min ago Roman Bioarchaeology Carnival LXXIII << Kristina Killgrove (Powered by Osteons) There was a lot going on in the month of June, but with surprisingly few pictures, so here is a quick summary:

New Finds
The grave in Ethiopia where the woman dubbed
‘Sleeping Beauty’ was discovered.
Photograph: Graeme Laidlaw

  • 11 June - "Sarcophagus found in sand pit," in Turkey, via Hurriyet Daily News. Seems to date to the 2nd-3rd century AD and includes two people, a male and a female. (Of course the report claims they're spouses.)
  • 22 June - "Ancient Greeks were afraid of zombies," via Discovery News. A 5th-3rd c BC site in Sicily has two odd tombs out of about 3,000. I don't know the context at all, but the description of the tombs (with heavy things placed on the bodies) doesn't seem all that exciting. But there's a "revenant" article I keep meaning to read and write about... 
  • June - "Osmanskata Mogila Tumulus." Publication of a very brief abstract of finds from 2010 of six cremation pyres from the 3rd-4th centuries AD in Bulgaria. via FASTI Online.

Other Interesting Stuff

  • 17 June - "Did ebola strike ancient Athens?" via LiveScience.  I wrote a tl;dr "No" post on this, though I will admit I did no research.  When a new harebrained theory doesn't even bother to mention an ancient DNA study claiming it was typhoid fever, I'm probably going to dismiss the new theory. (Also, I emailed the article author, whose answer for excluding the DNA study was "I couldn't cite everything."  Mm hm.)

17 hours 29 min ago ISIL Takfiris destroy iconic statue outside Palmyra museum << Archaeological News on Tumblr Members of the ISIL Takfiri militant group have destroyed a renowned statue of a lion outside the...