Maia Atlantis: Ancient World Blogs

0 sec ago High-Tech Tools Map Baptistery of St. John << Archaeology Magazine

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA—Using Lidar technology, ultra-high-resolution photography, and thermal imaging techniques, Mike Hess and Mike Yeager of the University of California, San Diego, created a 3-D digital model of the interior, exterior, and façade of the Baptistery of St. John, which sits in Florence’s Piazza del Duomo. “The point cloud data—taken from 80 Lidar scans—becomes the geometric scaffold for the high-resolution thermal imagery. The data can be projected into 3-D space so we know exactly what we’re looking at spatially. The drawings are spatially accurate and we can now pull a measurement for any part of the building we want to look at, down to the millimeter,” Yeager said in a University of California, San Diego press release. The construction of the Baptistery was completed in 1128 on the site of a Roman temple dating to the fourth or fifth century A.D. Yeager and Hess were joined by cultural heritage engineer Maurizio Seracini, Gianfranco Morelli of Geostudi Astier, and Vid Petrovic of IGERT-TEECH to examine an unexcavated area of the ancient site beneath the Baptistery with ground-penetrating radar. The team found what could be a staircase, two vaulted rooms, and a series of walls and hallways. “Now we’re able to use this technology to reference that data in space and ‘fly’ from the domed ceiling of the Baptistery down into the dirt to the ancient rooms beyond,” Yeager said. For more on how archaeologists use Lidar, read "Lasers in the Jungle."

23 min 17 sec ago A History of Pollution << Archaeology Magazine

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA—Geologists led by Aubrey L. Hillman of the University of Pittsburgh used sediment cores from Erhai Lake to examine levels of heavy metal pollution in southwestern China over the past 4,500 years. According to a report in Science, they found a rise in copper contaminants at the start of China’s Bronze Age, but those levels remained stable until the Mongols conquered China in the late thirteenth century A.D. The sediment cores show that heavy metal pollution during the reign of Kublai Khan and the Mongols, who mined and processed silver for coins, jewelry, art, and taxes, was three to four times higher than modern industrialized mining. To read about a similar study, see "Colonial-Era Air Quality Recorded in Andean Ice." 

53 min 1 sec ago 4,000-Year-Old Barrow Yields Intact Burials << Archaeology Magazine

Poland-BarowKRAKOW, POLAND—An Bronze-Age burial mound found in a forest in southeastern Poland through the use of Lidar technology has yielded five burials and a World War I firing post. “Importantly, the mound is the first known structure of this type in the Lublin Upland, as well as throughout [southern Poland], probably dating back to the turn of the third and second millennium B.C.,” Piotr Wlodarczak of the Polish Academy of Sciences told Science & Scholarship in Poland. Four graves of the Strzyżów culture were excavated. “The burial rite is slightly different than in the earlier period, the late Neolithic. The mound we examined had not been raised a single grave of a chosen person, but a few graves,” he added. The largest grave had been placed in the center of the mound. All of them contained hundreds of beads made from clam shells, copper jewelry, animal fang pendants, and flint tools. Rifle shells, shrapnel, and an iron fitting from an ammunition basket suggest that the top of the mound had been used as a firing post during the First World War. For more on Bronze Age Poland, see "4,000-Year-Old Ritual Site Discovered in Poland."

1 hour 22 min ago Room Discovered at Bronze Age Temple in Sidon << Archaeology Magazine

SIDON, LEBANON—An underground room of the Temple of Sidon has been discovered by a team from the British Museum and the Directorate General of Antiquities of Lebanon at the Frères archaeological site. “Sealed by the imposition of a Persian period building constructed on top of it, this new room is of the highest importance in terms of its monumentality and untouched pottery material, both [domestically produced] and imported from Cyprus and Mycenae,” read a statement from the delegation that was reported in The Daily Star. Wooden artifacts, pottery, and utensils were found within the room, built with monumental stones. The site will be preserved in situ, next to the new national archaeology museum now under construction. For more on archaeology in Lebanon, see "Rebuilding Beirut."

2 hours 2 min ago Decorated bronze drum; detailed design of another bronze... << Ancient Peoples



Decorated bronze drum; detailed design of another bronze drum.

Đông Sơn II culture, Vietnam, mid first Millennium B.C.

Wikimedia Commons, x

2 hours 15 min ago Digital Nineveh Archives << Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online) [First posted in AWOL 2 December 2012, updated (links now go to the Internet Archive) 26 February 2015]

 Have you taken the AWOL User Survey?

Digital Nineveh Archives
https://web.archive.org/web/20120320001346/http://www.digitalnineveharchives.org/images/nineveh-title2.png
The UC Berkeley Digital Nineveh Archives was initiated in December 2005, and has been made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities initiative, Recovering Iraq's Past. In December 2007 additional support was provided by the British Universities Iraq Consortium. The project, directed by David Stronach and Eleanor Wilkinson, began digitizing only the field records from the University of California at Berkeley Expedition to Nineveh 1987, 1989 and 1990. It has grown to accommodate knowledge contributed by other archaeologists past, present and future, in what has the potential to be first comprehensive archaeological reckoning of the history of the site, from the 19th century through to today.

The primary objectives of the Digital Nineveh Archive Project are:

• To create an online teaching and research tool presenting a comprehensive picture of Nineveh within the history of archaeology in the Near East.

• To establish a searchable data repository for meaningful analysis of currently unlinked sets of data from different areas of the site and different episodes in the 160-year history of excavations. The archived content is directly credited to the contributor, who determines re-use and access.

• To provide a cost-effective, permanent venue for disseminating the research of scholars with limited or no access to conventional publications and institutional support.

بدأ ت الأراشيف الرقمية لنينوى في كانون الاول / ديسمبر 2005 بفضل منحة مقدمة من المنحة الوطنية للعلوم الإنسانية ، واستعادة ماضى العراق. و في كانون الاول / ديسمبر 2007 تم تقديم دعم اضافى من قبل إتحاد الجامعات البريطانية لمساعدة العراق. و المشروع الذى يديره كل من إيلينور ويلكينسون و دﯾﭬيد ستروناك بدأ فى التحويل الرقمى فقط للسجلات الميدانية لبعثة جامعة كاليفورنيا بيركلى الى نينوى 1987 و 1989 و 1990. وقد نما لاستيعاب المعارف الاخرى التي ساهم بها علماء الآثار في الماضى والحاضر والمستقبل ، و أصبح لديه القدرة لكى يكون سجلا أثريا شاملا لتاريخ الموقع ، من القرن التاسع عشر الى اليوم.
الاهداف الرئيسية لمشروع الأراشيف الرقمية لنينوى هى :
ـ بناء أداة للتعلم والبحث على الانترنت لتقديم صورة شاملة لنينوى في اطار تاريخ علم الآثار فى الشرق الادنى.
ـ انشاء مستودع بيانات يمكن البحث فيها لاجراء تحليل ذى مغزى لمجموعة من البيانات غير المترابطة من مختلف مناطق الموقع و فترات زمنية مختلفة فى 160 عاما من تاريخ الحفريات. و المحتوى المؤرشف يتم نسبه إلى المساهم و الذى له الحق فى أن يقرر اعادة استخدامها والوصول اليها.
ـ توفير مكان دائم لنشر ابحاث العلماء و يكون فعالا من حيث التكلفة للذين لا يستطيعون أو لا يحصلون على المطبوعات التقليدية والدعم المؤسسى.
هدفنا هو اتاحة البيانات الاساسية للعمل الميدانى فورا فى متناول الباحثين والمعلمين والطلاب بدلا من الانتظار لسنوات للمواد المنشورة تقليديا ، اذا كانوا قادرين على الحصول عليها. وهي متاحة لاى شخص قادر على الوصول الى شبكة الانترنت بالغتين الإنجليزية او العربية.
. (هذا المشروع متعدد الباحثين ،متعدد المؤسسات ، متعدد اللغات (الانجليزية والعربية
الاصول التى تم ضمها من بيركلى ، ومعمل الكاميل بالمعهد الشرقى ،
.المتحف البريطانى،الأفراد المساهمون والعلماء العراقيون
الأراشيف الرقمية لنينوى هى بمثابة البوابة الفرعية للأراشيف.
برنامج الميديا ڤولت يوفر الأرشيف الأساسى الذى تتم الإشارة إليه من قبل المواقع و الخدمات الأخرى و يتضمن ذلك الأوبن كونتكست و الساى أرك و شبكة التراث عالية التوصيف

And see also the Nineveh Tablet Collection
2 hours 32 min ago Archaeologists discover secret room in ancient Sidon temple << Archaeological News on Tumblr SIDON, Lebanon: Dozens of workers were busy covering old Sidon’s Frères archaeological site Monday,...
2 hours 41 min ago Richard B. Witschonke Passes Away << Peter Tompa (Cultural Property Observer) Richard (Rick) Witschonke has passed away after a long illness.  Rick was a consummate collector. As a successful businessman, he had the means to afford the "best," but also focused on the "least" in the interests of putting together a complete collection of Roman Republican coins.

This academic interest in Roman Republican coins ultimately led him to volunteer his time and energies with the American Numismatic Society, where he served first as a Trustee, before working as a curatorial assistant, and helping to run the Society's renowned Summer Seminar for young academics.

Rick also tirelessly tried to bridge the widening gap between collectors and academic archaeologists, a sincere effort that should endear his memory to both camps.

For a nice tribute to Rick, see Ursula Kampmann's piece in Coins Weekly.  He will be much missed.
3 hours 10 min ago Ancient wheat points to Stone Age trading links << Archaeological News on Tumblr Britons may have discovered a taste for bread thousands of years earlier than previously thought,...
3 hours 23 min ago Estonian biocentre high coverage Y chromosome sequences and Turkic data << Dienekes' Anthropology Blog Courtesy of the good people of the Estonian biocentre:
The Y chromosome data seems particularly exciting (there is a spreadsheet of populations in the download directory). One of the weaknesses of the 1000 Genomes data was that it didn't have any populations between Tuscany and East/South Asia, and the new dataset seems to rectify that.

The Turkic dataset is probably the one used for the preprint The Genetic Legacy of the Expansion of Turkic-Speaking Nomads Across Eurasia. Since I overlooked this when it came out last summer, I'll post about it when the paper is published in a journal.
3 hours 48 min ago Egypt: Coptic Monks Lie Down in Front of Bulldozers to Protect Ancient Christian Site << Archaeological News on Tumblr Marking just the latest of a long dispute which arose around a road project threatening to demolish...
4 hours 7 min ago ISIS Destroys Museum Collection in Iraq << BiblePlaces Blog

ISIS has released a video showing terrorists destroying historic artifacts in the museum in Mosul, Iraq. This follows yesterday’s destruction of the Mosul Public Library. From Reuters:

Ultra-radical Islamist militants in northern Iraq have destroyed a priceless collection of statues and sculptures from the ancient Assyrian era, inflicting what an archaeologist described as incalculable damage to a piece of shared human history.

A video published by Islamic State on Thursday showed men attacking the artifacts, some of them identified as antiquities from the 7th century BC, with sledgehammers and drills, saying they were symbols of idolatry.

"The Prophet ordered us to get rid of statues and relics, and his companions did the same when they conquered countries after him," an unidentified man said in the video.

The smashed articles appeared to come from an antiquities museum in Mosul, the northern city which was overrun by Islamic State last June, a former employee at the museum told Reuters.

The militants shoved stone statues off their plinths, shattering them on the floor, and one man applied an electric drill to a large winged bull. The video showed a large exhibition room strewn with dismembered statues, and Islamic songs played in the background.

The Reuters article gives more details and the responses of Iraqi and other scholars. An article in The Daily Mail shows some screen captures from the video. The original video (in Arabic) is online here.

We can be thankful that many of the ancient artifacts were removed from the area by the excavators and put on display in museums in Britain and France where they are safe, for now.

HT: Craig Dunning, Joseph Lauer

4 hours 33 min ago New IS video shows militants smashing ancient Iraq artifacts << Archaeological News on Tumblr The Islamic State group released a video on Thursday showing militants using sledgehammers to smash...
4 hours 40 min ago “Wachtlijst monumentenzorg ontploft” << ArcheoNet BE

Het aantal monumenten dat wacht op een restauratie- of onderhoudspremie neemt schrikbarend toe. Dat zegt Vlaams Parlementslid Bart Caron (Groen) op basis van de cijfers die hij opvroeg bij minister Geert Bourgeois (N-VA). “Door de invoering van het nieuwe decreet puilen de kasten van de administratie uit van de nieuwe dossiers. Wie nu nog op een premie wil rekenen, hangt af van de snelheid van de behandeling door de Vlaamse overheid. Ondertussen zullen vele monumenten aftakelen.”

Het nieuwe onroerenderfgoeddecreet, dat in werking is sinds 1 januari 2015, hanteert een lager premiepercentage voor onderhoud en restauratie van monumenten en landschappen. Daardoor hebben potentiële aanvragers eind 2014 eieren voor hun geld gekozen en op basis van het oude, voordeliger stelsel premies aangevraagd.

Geert Bourgeois bevestigde dat er in de laatste twee maanden van 2014 veel meer premieaanvragen zijn ingediend. Voor onderhoudspremies waren er gemiddeld per maand 77,7 aanvragen in de eerste tien maanden en 147 aanvragen voor de laatste twee maanden van 2014. Voor restauratiepremies waren er gemiddeld 32,7 aanvragen voor de eerste tien maanden en de laatste twee maanden alleen al 333.

“De teller van de wachtlijst staat op een geraamd premiebedrag van 302,6 miljoen euro, een stijging met 80 procent in vergelijking met oktober vorig jaar. Ook voor de meerjarenpremieovereenkomsten staan er nog geen middelen in de begroting 2015, en daar is minstens 8 miljoen per jaar voor nodig,” aldus Caron. “Minister Bourgeois beloofde om bij de eerstvolgende begrotingsaanpassing 16 miljoen euro nieuwe kredieten in te schrijven, maar dan nog blijft er astronomisch veel geld te kort.”

4 hours 42 min ago Ur Project: February 2015 << Penn Museum Blog

Deep Pits and Early Burials (Again)
Spotlight on 31-17-403: Uruk Period Skeleton from Ur
Penn Museum’s second rediscovered skeleton

The documentation that led to the rediscovery of an ancient skeleton from Ur in the Penn Museum’s storerooms last year showed that two skeletons had been received in March of 1931. This month we have located the second.

31-17-403 after opening the crate and pulling back the burlap

31-17-403 after opening the crate and pulling back the burlap

Like the first skeleton, this one was originally excavated in a deep pit intended to investigate the earliest levels of the ancient city. The first came from Pit F, nearly 50 feet below the surface of the mound. The second came from Pit Y, around 45 feet down. Overall documentation on the second skeleton is not nearly as complete as the first, however.

The minimal documentation recorded on receipt showed only that one skeleton was ‘stretched’ and the other was ‘flexed.’ The Ubaid period skeleton 31-17-404 is indeed extended, lying on its back with hands at its pelvis. The second skeleton, 31-17-403, is lying on its side with its knees bent and its hands near its mouth. Woolley took several photos of the first skeleton and the process of waxing it, but he did not report preserving a second skeleton. He did, however, take a field photograph of what he called the best preserved example of the flexed burial type. This was the very skeleton he preserved, which is shown by overlaying the field photo on a modern image of our skeleton for an exact match.

The published version of the field photo is labeled JNG/361, which stands for Jemdet Nasr Grave number 361. Jemdet Nasr is the name of a site that lends its name to a particular time period, but there is much debate today about its temporal extent. In fact, the majority of Woolley’s late JN graves are most likely Early Dynastic I period and the earlier are most likely Uruk period.

Field photograph of the Uruk skeleton before waxing

Field photograph of the Uruk skeleton before waxing

The original field photo is labeled PG1834. This number comes at the tail end of the sequence of assigned PG numbers (which end at 1850) and in fact Woolley renumbered many of the series from PG1818-1846 into JNGs because he had gone deeper than the main burials in the Royal Cemetery or believed the burials to be earlier.

Sorting out these re-numberings is a big challenge but one that’s vital to understanding the sequence of burials and the progression of the dig. As Woolley went deeper in the Royal Cemetery area (PG), he decided to uncover the earliest levels of the city and thus he continued to dig down from the base of some of the PG graves. These areas then became test pits and he made a good number of them over the latter years from 1929-1933. Pits A through E were located in the Royal Cemetery area, but Pit F was located north of there (and it was the findspot of the extended Ubaid period skeleton).

Woolley closed excavations in Pit F in January of 1930 and by that time he had already decided to dig even deeper in the Royal Cemetery in order to compare to the results of Pit F. To do this, he jumped ahead in his lettering scheme and created pits Y and Z in an area of many of the PG1800 graves.

In Pit Y he found a few graves of the flexed type, including JNG/361. He used the same technique of pouring wax on the body that he had with PFG/Z (Pit F, Grave Z, the Ubaid period skeleton 31-17-404). Our biggest problem, however, comes from conflicting data he recorded. In his chart of burials he tells us that the body in JNG/361 was lying on its right side. The skeleton we have, which matches the position and condition of the field photo skeleton, is lying on its left side. Either Woolley mistakenly wrote right when he meant left, or he mis-wrote the number of the JNG grave. For example, JNG/351 is said to be lying on its left side. Whatever happened, there is clearly a mistake somewhere. Verifying the exact mistake is almost impossible. It seems most likely that this really is JNG/361 since the photo is labeled as such. Woolley probably noted that the body was facing to the right as we look at it and wrote it down as on its right side.

Associated with the burial of JNG/361 were four pottery types. Two of them are not overly diagnostic, but the other two are rather clearly late Uruk types, which gives us a date around 3300BCE. It is a very rough date that could be off by as much as 200 years either side, but it shows us that this body is at least 1000 years later than the Ubaid one, which we have roughly dated to 4500BCE.

Burial practices are typically quite tenacious, unchanging for long periods of time because they are usually centered in deeply held beliefs. At some point in the 1000 year interval here, the method of burial as reflected in position of the body changed. In fact, most burials at Ur are flexed and on their side, like this one, but the very earliest burials of the Ubaid period were not. In the old days of scholarship, such a change would typically be used to suggest an influx of new people, an overthrow of a current population by some other. This is not necessarily the case, however. There may have been some outside influence, but that does not mean an invasion or overthrow.

In fact, both the Ubaid and Uruk cultures were rather far-reaching. Characteristics of the Ubaid culture are found throughout much of Mesopotamia and Uruk even more so. The Uruk in general is thought of as the proto-state period, when state government was arising and managing increasing numbers of people. This is the time when Ur and many other places were becoming what we today would consider true cities. Yet both Ubaid and Uruk peoples relied on far-reaching trade networks to bring in much needed materials. Along with these almost certainly came new ideas.

The shift in Ur between the times of these two burials is a fascinating one and we hope that the remains of the two individuals can give us more insight into that change. The Uruk period skeleton in particular is the focus of a current class in the Living World in Archaeological Science, where Penn undergrads and grads are working with Penn scientists to reveal more on its physiological condition and cultural significance. Thus far, x-rays have shown a good deal but it remains difficult even to determine the gender due to the positioning of the body and the wax and soil covering. The students are discussing these difficulties and trying to determine ways to investigate the body in spite of them. They are also learning about just what kind of information we might be able to obtain and the various scientific techniques that could result in much more. Read more about it in this article at the Philadelphia Inquirer.

4 hours 43 min ago Decorated jade scabbard slide.China, Eastern Zhou/Western Han... << Ancient Peoples

Decorated jade scabbard slide.

China, Eastern Zhou/Western Han Dynasty, 3rd century B.C.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

4 hours 46 min ago ISIL Destroys More Monuments in Iraq << Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

 Last June, after Iraqi security forces melted away, Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city and the surrounding Nineveh province fell to Islamist militants who then declared a self-styled caliphate on territories that are under their control, killing members of religious minorities, driving others from their homes, enslaving women and destroying houses of worship. They are now removing from this territory all non-Islamic elements which has included library books, archaeological relics, and Islamic sites considered idolatrous. Until now, the antiquities in Mosul Museum were apparently left untouched, though some may have been removed for sale. Now the destruction of what was left has been ordered.
The Islamic State group released a video on Thursday purportedly showing militants using sledgehammers to smash ancient artifacts in Iraq's northern city of Mosul, describing them as idols that must be removed [...] The five-minute video shows a group of bearded men inside the Mosul Museum using hammers and drills to destroy several large statues, which are then shown in pieces and chipped. The video then shows a black-clad man at a nearby archaeological site inside Mosul drilling through and destroying a winged-bull Assyrian protective deity that dates back to the 7th century B.C. [...] "Oh Muslims, these artifacts that are behind me were idols and gods worshipped by people who lived centuries ago instead of Allah," a bearded man tells the camera as he stands in front of the partially demolished winged-bull. "The so-called Assyrians and Akkadians and others looked to gods for war, agriculture and rain to whom they offered sacrifices," [...] "Our prophet ordered us to remove all these statues as his followers did when they conquered nations," the man in the video adds.
The video is thought to be authentic. What is not entirely clear is when this happened. I am not going to repost these images here. I hope though that my readers will join me in the hope that they are used to bring war criminals to justice when the time comes.You can however see some screen shots with a commentary produced with his usual thoroughness by the indefatigable Sam Hardy 'Islamic State has toppled, sledgehammered and jackhammered (drilled out) artefacts in Mosul Museum and at Nineveh'.
 
Source:
'Islamic State video shows militants smashing ancient artifacts in Iraq'. Associated Press February 26, 2015

5 hours 18 min ago A epigraphic paragraphos in the wild ? << Farrago D.L. Page ad PMG 932.10-11 notes 'paragraphus incisa'. Here is said mark: (upclose beneath δὲ in the middle line)




(in context in the penultimate line)





οἶ]δε παθὼν | καὶ χώρα Ἀχαιμενιδᾶν μεγαλαύχων. (so Campbell).













Wikipedia has some neat examples of the coronis in papyri, but not so much, at present on the paragraphos.
5 hours 23 min ago -φυᾶ or -φυῆ ? << Farrago Some epigraphic evidence for the former: IG II^2 1612 line 315 (mid 4th c. BCE); ID 1442 line 73 λε[ον]το̣φυᾶ· (mid 2nd c. BCE).

See J. Diggle apud D. Mastronade, Euripides: Phoenissae, p. 645 on 821 ὀδοντοφυᾶ.
5 hours 50 min ago Rediscovering Scholarly Newsletters: A Challenge << Ancient World Bloggers Group Waaaay back in 2009  Andrew Reinhard, then at Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, Inc.  serialized the republication online of  The Pompeiiana Newsletter:
The Pompeiiana Newsletter was created and edited by Bernard Barcio and ran from 1974 through 2003. Pompeiiana offered a place for Latin students to publish comics, stories, games, and articles, and was a beloved resource for Latin teachers. In 2008, Barcio granted Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers the rights for all of Pompeiiana. This blog will make all 229 issues freely available to Latin teachers, students, and others interested in Classics, one issue per day.
This week, the Medieval Sai Project: The Greek Norwegian Archaeological Mission to Sudan began the serialized republication of the 22 issues of Nubian Letters published between 1983 and 1994:
Nubian Letters in an independent biannual bulletin for Nubian history and archaeology, published under the auspices of the International Society for Nubian Studies and the Department of Early Christian Art at the University of Leiden, the Netherlands.

Edited by Elizabeth de Ranitz and Karel Inemmée.
I'm really pleased to see these newsletters in general circulation. They represent a form of scholarly communication which was common in the second half of the 20th century (and earlier), but which was never properly collected by libraries. Even those which have made the leap to digital media (and you can find many be searching the keyword "newsletter" in AWOL), remain mostly poorly curated or uncollected in libraries. The are nevertheless an extraordinarily important resource for the history of the disciplines they cover, and the institutions and projects they represent.

In the Summer of 2014 OI Research Archivist, Bibliographer Foy Scalf, began to scan the hard copies of the Oriental Institute Staff Newsletter (63 issues edited by me which appeared between February 1998 and March 2005) and upon discovering that they were incomplete, urged me to try to recover the lost files from a ten year old laptop. As a consequence we now have a complete set available. So a small piece of Oriental Institute microhistory is now recovered and preserved. They are available at Oriental Institute Staff Newsletter, and further information is at the OI History Blog.

Many scholars keep files of these things, which they get by virtue of memberships in societies or organization, or association with projects, and in other ways. Likewise, many projects, association, and societies hold files of them in their archives, or in their archives of their successor or sponsoring institutions. If you have a files of one of these inaccessible newsletters, or know of one, I challenge you to follow in the footsteps of The Pompeiiana Newsletter, and Nubian Letters, and make it available to your colleagues and the world at large. It is simple to set up a blog at Blogger, Wordpress or Tumblr (or one of many other places), to scan an issue a day, and post them online. Please make sure that you get, or make a good faith effort to get, permission from the organization or person who published the newsletter in the first place. If even one of you accepts this challenge, I will commit to matching your effort by scanning and posting Pirradazish, the newsletter for Achaemenid studies I produced in the 1990s.

Please let me know if you will participate, and what and where you efforts appear so I can include it in in AWOL's List of Open Access Journals in Ancient Studies.

And I'll happily offer advice and assistance in how to go about doing it! 




6 hours 5 min ago ACTFL Survey of Primary and Secondary School Language Enrollments << American Philological Association

The SCS is an affiliate member of the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL).  The Council has asked us to encourage all of our members who are teaching at the primary or secondary levels to complete a survey it is conducting on enrollment in foreign language classes.  This survey complements the one recently conducted by the Modern Language Association concerning enrollments at the college and university level.  In addition, SCS will soon be publishing results of its census of classics departments conducted this Fall. 

6 hours 6 min ago PAS PACHI FOI: The Internal Emails - Milliongate << Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)
Topic H, 'Milliongate'

The bulk of the pdf we received as a result of my FOI request consists of a series of duplicated emails (somebody's not good at inbox-management) on the affair I dubbed 'milliongate' - the smoke and mirrors surrounding the "millionth find" in the PAS database (a 'Late Roman Bronze' coin from the Seaton Hoard). When sorted out there are 18 of these documents - and apparently nothing in the PAS forum. Taken together, they show above all the PAS attitude to information transparency and how a new member of staff is instructed to ignore requests from the Scheme's audience for information.

The sequence starts off with a brief email from me on 8th September 2014. I asked the PAS a question about the sudden jump in statistics on the database home page that day. The reply could have dealt painlessly with my five queries in two sentences giving all the information requested. This, we now know, is what Dr Drost could have written:
*Paul, This is a recently excavated hoard of Roman coins from Seaton, Devon, yes the number is an estimate, we are still in the process of recording and individually photographing these coins. Please do not discuss this find or use this information until after the press conference on 25 September, Best wishes Vincent Drost*

What happened instead? Well, first my query was ignored, I wrote again politely seven days later, pointing out additionally that there was a problem with the visibility of previously visible information in the database. [After I mentioned I'd spotted the jump in the database, the PAS for reasons best known to themselves attempted to hide the information].

The reply (Vincent Drost [VD] to PMB Sept 16th 5:21 PM), instead of just answering the question as above, dodges them (and despite it being consulted with two other BM employees lacks one part of the second sentence). It  does not in any way answer the perfectly reasonable questions I had asked more than a week earlier about the sudden jump in recorded finds figures. VD was clearly being deliberately evasive. I asked again, about the nature of these 'data' recorded at public expense. VD's response to that was to ignore the query totally.

In fact, I found out that his original fob-off reply contained false information. He denied the data were in the database (when you could see from the overall total on the database home page that they still were!)  and he said they could not/would not be entered until after the inquest. But the inquest had actually taken place four days before his response.

The PAS database is created with public money. Dr Drost works in the BM, publicly funded, the material he is employed to process as part of his work for the PAS are finds made by members of the public and made available so they can become part of public record. The public records of the PAS (I have no special access) showed a sudden and mysterious jump of 22000 objects and this was there assigned to something Vincent Drost had done. The total was brought up to over "a million" and this is used by metal detectorists and their apologists at home and abroad as an argument "how useful collection driven exploitation is". Dr Drosts's involvement in this is not as a private individual, so when somebody starts messing a blogger around when he asks a perfectly civil question, Dr Drost really should not be surprised that the blogger blogs about what has happened. That is not "getting personal" any more than his fobbing me off with weasel words was. What happened next was weird.

On 24th September at 9:44 in the morning after a break in the thread of more than a week, Dr Drost timidly writes to Michael Lewis. 
Dear Michaeel, sorry to bother you. I came across Paul Barford's blog. I know he's a trouble maker [...] Even if this is nonsense [...]
I think that says an awful lot about what the anointed demigods in the British Museum and its Portable Antiquities Scheme are probably saying about the Portable Antiquities Collecting and Heritage Issues blog. Troublemaking nonsense- monger. Note the coy "I came across PMB's blog". Dr Drost does seem from this exchange to have a few problems actually saying what the problem is... Dr Lewis sees through this fluff, barely 20 minutes later he is berating the new boy:
I saw Philippa [Walton] the other day and she said you had replied to him - is that so? Maybe she got that wrong 
Oh dear. Caught out by the office grapevine. Dr Drost contritely replies (Note that in fact, I had only written once and then sent a polite reminder):
"As he kept asking, I've [sic] sent him a short reply in consultation with Sam and Ian, below is what I wrote [...] I probably shouldn't have but I don't think this changes anything. I understand now that I have to completely ignore him and his blog.
What an extraordinary and comic exchange!   Like a little boy to his school headmaster, "I know I shouldn't have done, but no harm was done, honest, but he made me do it!" Michael Lewis, as if to reinforce the impression we are dealing with a group of schoolkids, thinks up (24th September 10:50) a way to "irritate him [i.e. me] more". [tee hee]. Anyway, Dr Drost tries to be a good employee and assures Dr Lewis (24th Sept 2014, 10:56): "I am going to ignore him completely from now on. Sorry about that (sorry Sam and Ian to involve you in this)". Mike Lewis soothes him (perhaps in his best Stephen Fry voice):
"Its noones fault. he is a tricky one to deal with, especially as we feel we ought to reply. But he is so mischievous I think it is fine to ignore him".
I've not been called "mischievous" since I was ten and certainly not by anyone who forgets to use apostrophes in official communications. What on earth is going on here? Involved in what, precisely? A member of the public asks PAS a question, and what exactly is Drost apologising for? The impression you get from some of these emails is that PAS head office is some kind of pretty distopic organization. I was not expecting that, I must admit.

Ian Richardson at first appears to attempt to insert some sanity into the communal self-flagellation and recriminations (24th September 11:21 to ML, VD, copied to SM). He actually sees where the issue arises: "I think what happened was that PB was keeping an eye on the overall counter as it ticked approached a million and when, all of a sudden it went over, he was able to query the database statistics" (bingo - got it in one, see it's not so difficult). Disappointingly he seems unable to go that one step further to thinking outside the institutional box: "it really is frustrating to have such a useful tool, which helps make our work more transparent, used in a mischievous way" . Eh? (See below). No fear, Michael Lewis (24th September 2014, 11:24) assures Ian Richardson, VD, Sam Moorhead, Dan Pett and a person whose name has been redacted out (and where did this person suddenly come into the thread?) that "Dan said that he and [redacted] were going to look at how the counter works". Gotta get that transparency issue sorted out, make sure that they prevent "mischievous people" seeing how many objects were recorded by whom in any particular time period.

I would not bother Dan, the totals are now so hopelessly muddled, the results so periodically inconsistent (and have been since we were discussing them on Britarch and on the PAS public forum you closed), that nobody who has looked at them carefully really believes any of it any more. 

There is some more chat about not replying to queries from Barfords, more self-recriminations (VD, SM),  then flippancies.

But then, a further redacted person comes into the conversation (Sept 24th 12:08) answering a post in the 'capitalised RE' thread - despite not (?) having been copied in it earlier (suggesting that Christopher Denvir has not been able to gather all the relevant material). Actually I think it is quite clear from the style who this is. He is gloating that since the PAS are keeping information from members of the public what I write is allegedly "ill-informed". Well, whose fault is that if true? In any case, is there only "one Truth" that of the PAS and Baz Thugwit? Is that what the PAS want us to believe? The demigods decide and it is for the rest of us to just accept the crumbs of wisdom that drop out of the clouds which veil the true face of The Great Social Experiment? The New God advises his readers to "avoid his blog posts as [...] this is all grist to his mill. Worse still is that regularly viewed blog posts will climb the ranks of Google and be more likely to turn up in search results for your name". Sounds like... the alarmism of a well-known Washington allobbyist Tompa ! Then the sky will fall and the seas turn to blood, no doubt. Thus spake Bloomsbury.  (Of course this is anti-Googlian nonsense, if VD reads a post about looting in Syria on my blog, Google search will not associuate him with ISIL).

To return to what Ian Richardson said, the work of any publicly funded heritage body like the PAS should be 100% transparent. It's not the Ministry of Defence, its about little old ladies finding potsherds in their rose beds and little boys finding Roman glass beads on an allotment. In any case, to follow almost everything you read about the PAS, they consider making the database, and making the database" bigger" is their work. The only thing that is mischievous is (a) including Treasure hoards on the database of non-Treasure finds to boost numbers of 'voluntarily reported finds' (the Treasure Report is the place for them) and (b) hiding the true source of the information behind smokescreens. And it is not me being "mischievous" in trying to find out what the PAS are up to with their artefact hunting "partners". If the PAS is built on the basis of a multivocality of archaeology, then my seeking knowledge of the past has as much validity and rights as Baz Thugwit's. Yet Baz gets patted on the head by the PAS and I get called names and insulted for asking the same sort of questions. I have every right to ask what the PAS and their metal detecting partner are doing with the heritage, my heritage, and  I have a right to get an answer to these questions, and they (ivory tower demigods or not) as a public institution have an obligation to share that information without me having to put in an FOI request.

6 hours 8 min ago PACHI PAS FOI: the PAS Forum, Lenborough and Fantasy Trolling by Nameless Varsovians << Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)


commentary on the material placed in the public domain as a result of a PACHI FOI request from the British Museum from the PAS hidden forum

Topic K 24th -27th December 2014 Comforting Words over the Lenborough Fiasco:

The only other sequence of forum posts which Christopher Denvir made available refer to the Lenborough hoard. Nothing else I say on my blog over thirty months is of any interest to any of them, but the damage done by the Lenborough affair seems to have excited them into some activity. This is started off by Ros Tyrrell in a metal-detecting-forum-qualifying post full of emoticons and exclamation marks on 24th December claiming she was being "slagged off by email" - not true of course, she's playing the victim. I've discussed one aspect of that post earlier, and will return to it again later (and the significance that there was no reaction to what was said in either case).
It was David Williams (24th Dec) who said it "all sounds absolutely fine [...] wish I'd been there!" Then,
"I see it's our Warsaw friend doing the criticising and wondering why his emails to you are bouncing?"
Two points, first "our Warsaw friend" (and worse) is a metal-detectorish way to refer to he-who-shall-not-be-named. I have a name and it is not one totally unknown in archaeological circles and I do not see why it cannot be used here. Secondly  by the time Williams wrote this, it was not just me doing the criticising, there was quite widespread dismay in archaeological circles in general about this time, though RESCUE had not yet produced their account. Thirdly, my emails to Ms Tyrell's office were polite requests for information from an archaeologist interested in the case, what does it say for the transparency of the PAS that Mr Williams is "not surprised" these emails were ignored (indeed being - it seems he thinks - deliberately 'bounced')? By the way, Dr Williams' use of a rising inflection here is incomprehensible  - PAS punctuation perhaps is being affected by prolonged "partnership" with ignorant tekkies. Julie C[assidy] agrees (30th Dec)
"you did a great job. Just ignore the Warsaw moaner. Nothing we do would have made [sic] him happy xxx".
"Warsaw moaner"? What? A major archaeological find is trashed on film by being hurriedly excavated ("it took all day") blindly digging down using a paint-stripping scraper and a carrier bag and tipped out loose on a kitchen table  and another FLO (paid for with YOUR money) says "you did a great job" and somebody looking at that scandalous footage and expressing concerns should instead be "happy" to watch something like that happen. That an archaeologist watching that reacts in any other way than delirium that some more shiny silver discs have been hoiked just makes him some kind of foreign "moaner". This conversation is ridiculous. These are not the standards of best practice the PAS is employed to promote. Peter R[eaville] makes an astounding claim:
I was trolled and insulted by warsaw [sic]  after excavating a couple of hoards - I just emailed him with details of my line managers and the IFA and asked him to report me for unprofessional conduct - he never did (but also never retracted the posts).
"Trolled"? I am really at a loss to understand this whole accusation. Mr Reavill is mentioned on my blog six times, twice with regard to the Kate Hunter piedfort case, once mentioning his blog, once with reference to a 'finds day', and once with reference to a hoard ('Not nighthawking, really - it woz in da day' Tuesday, 8 September 2009).  Could he be talking about the post (Sunday, 21 August 2011) on the 'Baschurch Hoard Screw-up'? Is the raising of cocerns about the aftermath of an archaeological investigation "trolling", or is it something else? Is it "insulting" to comment on a case like this? What is Mr Reavill on about? As for the email with employment details, I recall receiving no such document, and here the question was organizational matters not "professional conduct". I really think some people involved in the metal detecting "partnership" in the UK have extremely thin skins and warped ideas about the nature of archaeological debate. Note again the depersonalising labelling, "warsaw", here it is not even capitalised.

But then Dr Reavill (24th dec) also moots the suggestion, seventeen years into the operation of the PAS of guidelines and excavation kit lists and an emergency contacts page. Unfortunately if this developed into something, we cannot see it in the current FOI. Such texts should surely be consulted outside the narrow confines of a hidden PAS forum.

25th December Christmas Day, Dan Pett reports in this thread a propos nothing at all I can see:
Lovely, I am being trolled by Warsaw and H[eritage] A[ction] at the moment for sticking up for us.
Again the verb "trolled" and depersonalising "Warsaw". Later (25th Dec) Mr Pett added "don't feed the troll" to Ros Tyrrell's announcement that she was not going to address the issues I had raised. It was the BM's Dan Pett's use of the word "troll" at a public meeting where it was recorded that is part of the reasons for this FOI, so it is important to note he is still using it here and in what context. On 25th December I sent no email to Dan Pett. This "trolling" is a fantasy of Mr Pett, on Christmas Day I made just one blog post with not a troll in sight. As far as I know Heritage Action were focusing on other issues at this time. This is really getting ridiculous, everyone is playing the victim, falsely crying 'wolf'  and refusing to address the archaeological issue at hand.

On 25th December Ros Tyrrell explains she was not going to answer my request for information, because she'd been unable to explain the Cold Brayfield hoard earlier and she did not fancy her chances here either. Certainly there are no comments by Ms Tyrrell under any of my posts on Cold Brayfield, so she'd not made much of an effort to put forward another side of the story here (and I would not think it too difficult a task for a skilled communicator to explain a hole in the ground to a fellow archaeologist). And look at the next bit:
I can't tell the world that there was no money for lifting the hoard because the Bucks Emergency Excavation Fund was spent on the Creslow Burial in Oct. The detectorists breaking the hoard story too early, while I was trying to be on leave, has messed up the plans we had for launching that! Aargh!
Hmm. Why "can't" there be any public acknowledgement of the financial problems caused by Weekend Wanderers targeting a known archaeological site just before Christmas (when their aim of going there is to find something) when there are no funds in the county to deal with anything they might find? I think this raises all sorts of questions about what is responsible detecting, and here we see the PAS deliberately avoiding bringing the subject up in the public domain. What is the problem with the Creslow Burial being mentioned? I do not understand why she thinks this is some kind of topic to be swept under the carpet.

Also, what a nerve she has blaming the detectorists for spoiling the plans to "launch" the (her) find (at the Treasure Report show). This raises a rather repugnant thought, was that the reason it was hoiked out - so enough of it could be scrubbed clean to make a good show for the Minister on Treasure Day?  The manner in which the PAS deliberately manipulates announcements like this for self-publicity has been noted before. The finders also have rights to brag about their find, Ms Tyrrell was a guest at the rally, now she seems to be depicting it as run for the benefit of the PAS and its annual circle of publicity stunts.

I may return to what Williams says about my "support" of the PAS. That made me really angry. The guy obviously has no idea what this is about. Have any of them?

I think anyone who dismisses a fellow worker as merely a "troll", as this crowd are while at the same time bragging about never having read a word of what he has written, really represent all that is rotten in British archaeology when it comes to discussing the issues surrounding portable antiquities collecting and the antiquities trade. If we see this sort of superficial knee-jerkism in the Portable Antiquities Scheme itself - which should be the focal hotbed of debate, then what hope is there for the future of archaeology in Great Britain? Metal detectors and JCBs and grubbing out all the shiny bits? 
6 hours 9 min ago PACHI PAS FOI: the PAS Forum Introduction << Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

This section of my commentary on the material placed in the public domain as a result of a PACHI FOI request from the British Museum will discussing the information about the contents of the PAS hidden forum and the type of 'Discussion of Portable Antiquities and Treasure Issues' it reveals. 

A bit of background, the PAS once had a forum for interacting with the members of the public and all those interested in the work of the scheme. This was sabotaged by the bad behaviour of metal detectorists (see below) and "closed" - at least that is what the PAS told the audience. I began to have doubts about the veracity of what the PAS had said when two types of unusual activity on my blog suggested that there was indeed a secret PAS forum, not accessible to the public who pay for it and that FLOs were reading posts on my blog, but publicly saying nothing in reply to the issues raised.  Then at the end of last year the PAS admitted that they did indeed have a secret forum. So, what there was being said about the issues raised on this blog? Christopher Denvir the BM's  Information Manager was informed only about three forum threads in the period 21st May 2012 to the 26th January 2015 (the date the request was received).

Take a look at a PAS job advert for a FLO, there are always a few in the internet. One of the requirements for many of them is "awareness of the issues concerning portable antiquities" (in general). That is one of their job requirements, which makes sense if they are to be interacting with all manner of people on the issues affecting the handling of portable antiquities. One therefore might expect some discussion on their forum on these issues, how to deal with a certain type of question/ situation. One might expect the sharing of information of stuff they've read, a controversial view for example. To be honest I would have thought that if a load of other people not connected at all with archaeology some of them, are reading this blog and taking away some thoughts on portable antiquity collecting (and heritage) issues, the FLOs might have visited from time to time. If they did, it seems from what they write about on their forum, none of them found anything here of any value to them. So what have they discussed? There are three topicsdiscussed in three separate post below:

Topic D: The Planted Fibula (8th November 2013),

Topic E: 'Grand Stirrup Master' is Badly Treated and Gets Revenge,


Topic K 24th -27th December 2014 Comforting Words over the Lenborough Fiasco: