Maia Atlantis: Ancient World Blogs

0 sec ago XIVe Congrès de la Fédération Internationale des Associations d'Etudes Classiques << Laboratoire Orient et Méditerranée

Après celui de Berlin (2009), ce congrès permettra de réunir les classicisants du monde entier, de faire se rencontrer des chercheurs à différents stades de leur carrière et de dresser un état des recherches actuelles.

Les trois associations françaises membres de la FIEC (l'Association Guillaume Budé, l'Association pour l'Encouragement des Études grecques en France et la Société des Études latines) ont confié l'organisation de cet événement à l'université Bordeaux Montaigne et à l'Institut Ausonius, un centre de recherche très actif et internationalement reconnu dans le domaine des sciences de l'Antiquité.

Pour en savoir plus

1 hour 4 min ago RIP Prof. Bill Solheim II << Noel Tan (The Southeast Asian Archaeology Newsblog)

From Dr Jack Medrana on the IPPA Facebook page:

After 90 colorful years of his life, National Geographic’s “Mr. Southeast Asia” has finally come to rest. The UP-ASP and the whole Southeast Asian community of archaeologists will surely miss you, Prof. Wilhelm “Bill” Solheim II.

Prof. Solheim’s remains lie at Colossians Chapel, St. Peter – Quezon Ave., Quezon City, Philippines starting today, July 26, 2014 at 13:00.

2 hours 5 min ago Faces of Medieval Scots Reconstructed << Archaeology Magazine

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND—Forensic artists from the University of Dundee have rebuilt the faces of several of the nearly 400 men, women, and children whose remains were discovered in a medieval cemetery five years ago. “We have had a forensic pathology report done on all of the remains and that is allowing us to gain information about the population,” city archaeologist John Lawson told The Edinburgh Evening News. Most of those buried in South Leith Parish Church’s graveyard probably died of infectious diseases, and a small number of the women died in childbirth. Chemical analysis of a sample of the bones suggests that 80 percent of the dead had grown up in the Leith or Edinburgh area, eating a diet made up of predominately meat and dairy products with some marine fish. “It would have been a difficult life and it would have been hard for these folk because it was only a small hamlet,” added Jim Tweedie of Leith History Society.

3 hours 5 min ago On this day in 306 AD: Constantine the Great is proclaimed... << Ancient Art

On this day in 306 AD: Constantine the Great is proclaimed emperor of the Roman empire.

The rule of Constantine is given a particular significance in world history. This is largely because he was the first Christian (or, at least pro-Christian) emperor of Rome and the empire.

Not born or raised Christian, it was before the battle of the Milvian Bridge against Maxentius in 312 AD that Constantine experienced his famous vision. According to this account, after calling upon the highest God for help, Constantine is said to have seen a cross in the sky rising from the sun. Following this, the monogram for Christ (chi rho) was placed on the shields of his men going into battle. Constantine attributed the resulting victorious battle to the God of the Christians.

The question of whether of not Constantine was Christian, or how sincere his proclamation was, remains a matter of debate. Evidently his conversion did not entirely result in a changed morality, Constantine had his wife and son murdered. He was baptized a Christian shortly before his death, which was not an uncommon decision to make in this period. In Constantine’s instance, being emperor, he was still obligated to order executions and fight battles, which is why the cleansing of his sin through baptism was postponed to not long before his death. I would suggest that the importance Constantine placed on his baptism in preparation for his death reflects at least a degree of genuine belief. 

The matter of his personal faith aside, few other Roman emperors have left such a lasting impact on the course of world history. With his conversion, construction of Christian Rome, foundation of a new senate and capital, the way to a new epoch of world history was opened.

The artefact shown is the head of Constantine’s colossal statue, courtesy of & currently located at the Capitoline Museums. Photo taken by Jean-Christophe Benoist, via the Wiki Commons.

4 hours 18 min ago Experts in Peru evaluate confiscated archaeological artifacts << Archaeological News on Tumblr

30 pieces will be examined by specialists to determine their authenticity, age, and origin.

A month after confiscating a number of archaeological and historical artifacts in northern Peru, authorities have begun the process of evaluating the objects to determine their authenticity, among other things.

The pieces were confiscated from 50-year-old Justiniano Diaz Delgado, a resident of Saltur in Lambayeque. Andina news agency reports that Diaz had amassed a collection of more than 30 pieces, including ceramic objects, skulls, and spear tips. Read more.

5 hours 35 min ago Historic Railroad Tools Found in Canada << Archaeology Magazine

CALGARY, CANADA—According to a report by Newstalk 770, a hand-stamped brick, metal pickax heads, rail spikes, and window glass that could date to the construction of the Canadian Pacific railway in the 1880s were uncovered by utility workers in downtown Calgary. The artifacts were found along the old railway line in what is now a power substation. Archaeologists have been called in to try to determine the exact age of the tools. 

6 hours 2 min ago Controversial Archaeologist Sentenced in Macedonia << Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

I am surprised certain US and UK observers of the antiquities market have not spotted this one yet, it seems the sort of stuff they love (Sinisa Jakov Marusic, 'Macedonia Jails its Top Archaeologist', Balkan Insight 25 Jul 14). A court in Skopje has sentenced the country's former chief excavator, Pasko Kuzman, to three years in jail for his role in the organized smuggling of archaeological finds from the country.
After a year-long trial in a case codenamed “Phalanx”, the former head of Macedonia’s Cultural Heritage Protection Office has been found guilty of aiding a criminal ring to excavate and sell off valuable archaeological artifacts. The prosecution said he and other office employees in 2011 gave permission to third parties to dig in locations near the town of Delcevo and along the road from Skopje to Veles. [...] The defendants insisted they were innocent. But a prosecution witness told the court that he bought and then re-sold valuable artifacts from the group for profit.[...] Kuzman was arrested last July and placed in custody at his home, owing to medical problems. As head of the Cultural Heritage Protection Office, over the past few years Kuzman oversaw the main archaeological digs across the country.
Kuzman was one of the 16 defendants. The former chief of sector in the Heritage Protection Office, Ilco Bojcevski, "who was accused of leading the crime ring, was jailed for seven-and-a-half years". Other former office employees, archaeologists and illegal excavators received jail terms. Four of them were sentenced on probation. The defence is reported to have tried to make light of the issue, claiming that the artefacts seized by police in the bust last year were not as valuable as the prosecution maintained. The lawyers for the defence announced that they would appeal the sentences.

[I do not know the ins and outs of this case, but my own experience leads me initially to be somewhat suspicious of these verdicts, it would not be the first time in "eastern" Europe the core of a team of cultural heritage protection officials has been got rid of on trumped-up charges, where conservation gets in the way of the plans of certain powerful people. The recent history of the equivalent services in Poland - where I know the people involved - contain three very good (bad) examples of precisely this sort of thing.]

6 hours 35 min ago Excavation of The London Continues << Archaeology Magazine


The-Longon-Shipwreck-ReconstructionESSEX, ENGLAND—Local divers and archaeologists from Cotswold Archaeology continue to explore the wreckage of The London, a warship that was carrying 300 barrels of gunpowder when it blew up in 1665. Until now, the ship has been preserved in the silt and mud of the Thames Estuary, the ship’s timbers are now being destroyed by changing tidal patterns and dredging for the London Gateway port development. One woman and 24 men of the 350-member crew survived the explosion, but many of the human remains recovered so far have been women. “It’s a good question why there were so many women, and one on which I wouldn’t care to speculate,” archaeologist Dan Pascoe told The Guardian. The researchers have also recovered a clay pipe, tallow candles, a pistol, musket shot, spoons, and part of a scale. The team expects that many of The London’s guns are still buried in the silt.


6 hours 45 min ago Open Access Archaeology Digest #490 << Open Access Archaeology Get some Open Access (free to read) Archaeology articles here:

Notice of the same Stone.

On the Analogy between the Architecture of France and that of Scotland

Excavations at Grandtully, Perthshire

Learn more about Open Access and Archaeology at:

6 hours 47 min ago John the Lydian on “July” – now online in English << Roger Pearse (Thoughts on Antiquity, Patristics, putting things online, and more)

For the last few months, each month we’ve had a chapter from a 6th century antiquarian on the festivals and days of the month.  Our translation of John the Lydian, De Mensibus book 4, has now reached July.

As ever Andrew Eastbourne has done a super job on it, with copious footnotes.  This month contains a bunch of stuff about Julius Caesar; and a collection of accounts of the origins of the Nile.  I learn from the footnotes that part of this is based on the remains of Seneca’s account, but continues where our manuscripts break off, probably from a more complete text.

Here it is:

As usual, this is public domain.  Do whatever you like with it, personal, educational or commercial.

7 hours 5 min ago Thousands of Earlier Stone Age Artifacts Found in South Africa << Archaeology Magazine


South-African-Stone-ToolsCAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA—Tens of thousands of Earlier Stone Age artifacts have been discovered at an archaeological site at Kathu in the Northern Cape province of South Africa by archaeologists from the University of Cape Town, the University of Toronto, and the McGregor Museum in Kimberley, South Africa. The site, which is estimated to be between 700,000 and one million years old, is located in a major mining center and development zone. “We need to imagine a landscape around Kathu that supported large populations of human ancestors, as well as large animals like hippos. All indications suggest that Kathu was much wetter, maybe more like the Okavango than the Kalahari. There is no question that the Kathu Complex presents unique opportunities to investigate the evolution of human ancestors in Southern Africa,” Michael Chazan of the University of Toronto told Science Daily


7 hours 45 min ago Terracotta ‘Tanagra’ figure of an old... << Ancient Peoples

Terracotta ‘Tanagra’ figure of an old nurse


c.300 BC
Said to be from Tanagra, possibly from Athens, Greece

This stooped old woman with hunched shoulders holds a large, naked baby firmly in her arms. She wears a voluminous, sleeved chiton (tunic) and most of her hair is contained in a sakkos (a bag-like headdress). Her face, with its raised eyebrows, sagging, wrinkled cheeks and chin, and frame of snail-shell curls is distinctly theatrical. The ‘Old Nurse’ was a popular character in Greek comic drama from the late fifth century BC onwards. While earlier terracotta actor figures are clearly characterised by their padded costumes or obvious masks, it can be difficult to decide whether later examples like this represent an actor or the real-life character on which the comic type was based.

It is uncertain where this figure was made, as similar old nurse figures have been found at both Athens and Tanagra. However, the high quality of the modelling and the appearance of the clay suggest that this example may be Athenian.

Source: British Museum

8 hours 4 min ago Grade Inflation in UK Archaeology << Doug's Archaeology: Investigating the Profession and Research

Over the last few days I have been writing about grade inflation and how it affects job prospects and the causes of it. The reason I have been writing about grade inflation is because I took a look at the data from the UK and found it in Archaeology degrees. Here are the final marks, first degrees i.e. undergrads, for Archaeology degrees in the Humanities.


Grades- Archaeology H&P

Grades- Archaeology H&P

Up, Up, and Away We Go

The lower second, ’2:1′, has decreased significantly in the last decade and a half. For my American readers here is a conversion table to UK grades to US.

UK Class UK Percentage US Grade US GPA
First 70-100 A 4.0
Upper second 60-69 B+/B 3.0-3.33
Lower second 54-59 B/B- 2.67-3.0
Third 42-53 C 2.0
Pass 38-41 D 1.0
Fail 0-37 F 0

For any American who had done some sort of University in the UK you will be familiar with the cultural shock of a 70 being an excellent grade. For those of you not familiar with the system the table does not really capture the full effect of the ‘First’. Most ‘First’ marks are in the 70-75 range. A 90 is a paper that could go through peer review and be published, most people rarely break the low 70s as a final grade. Still we see that most UK archaeology students are receiving a B+ average, which is what we see in the US for all students, a 3.0-3.33 average. Oh, and the Third is practically extinct. You really want to stand out from your peers, get a Third/C average.

Where Did These Numbers Come From?

I got the data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency whose job it is to gather such data. I downloaded digital data from 2001-2013 from the  HESA Database Heidi. The 1994-2001 data I got from published reports, this data is not in a digital format HESA did not exists before 1994 so they have not data before then.

Its Always Complicated

In the UK Archaeology degrees can be classified as Archaeological Science in the Physical Sciences catagory of degrees or as just Archaeology degrees in the Humanities, now called Historical & Philosophical Studies.. Unfortunately since 2002/2003 these Arch Sci. degrees have been lumped in with Forensics degrees in the national statistics. Now I am about to geek out here, as I have been looking for a way to separate Forensic from Archaeology Science degrees for a while now. For the Archaeology in the Humanities these numbers were straight forward, they were all in the same catagory. For Archaeology Science degrees I was able to use the 1994-2001 numbers as is. For the Forensic/Arch Sci category, from 2002 onward, I took a look at the UCAS list of degree courses. Turns out only a few Universities have Archaeology Science degrees and almost all of them don’t also have Forensics degrees, at least for undergrad. The exception is Bradford but for everywhere else I was able to split  Archaeology Science from Forensics degrees based on Universities. We can see those degrees here:

Grades- Archaeological Sci

Grades- Archaeological Sci

These are all over the place and don’t show as clear an example of grade inflation. That is simply because there are so few Arch sci degrees. Five more people getting a ‘First’ can change the results. But, when we combine both Archaeology Science and Archaeology (humanities) degrees we still see the same trend, though a little less pronounced:

Grades- Archaeology Total

Grades- Archaeology Total

Are Certain Universities Driving Up Grades?

As far as I can tell this is a sector wide phenomenon. Given some Universities only graduate 5 people a year these numbers will jump widely from year to year with each University but it looks like all Universities are experiencing grade inflation – see data.

Overall the percentage of higher grades has kept going up over the last few years in UK Archaeology. If you got a ’1st’ in 1990s be proud, not many of your peers did and it meant more back then.


You can download the data here -Grade Inflation- I wave all rights I might have to this i.e. EU database copyright rules. Though if you want to let me know you used it I would greatly appreciate it.

8 hours 39 min ago Temple Mount Flyover << James F. McGrath (Exploring Our Matrix)

Click here to view the embedded video.

From SourceFlix. Since the area is a no-fly zone even when there isn’t war going on, this is a rather rare perspective.

Sharing this video also gives me the chance to see whether issues I’ve had in the past have been resolved, now that the Patheos upgrade has finished. And so let me try embedding a YouTube video as well – here’s one I’ve shared before, the trailer from the IMAX movie Jerusalem:

Click here to view the embedded video.

9 hours 3 min ago Ancient Scottish rock carving may be uncovered again << Paola Arosio and Diego Meozzi (Stone Pages' Archaeonews) A precious rock carving that was found and then deliberately lost again, may be about to make a re-appearance in Central Scotland. The rock carving, known locally as the Cochno...
9 hours 28 min ago Ancient naval ram found in Phanagoria reveals history of popular unrest in 63 B.C. << Archaeological News on Tumblr

Anapa, July 25, 2014 – The Volnoe Delo Oleg Deripaska Foundation announces the discovery of an ancient naval ram used by the army of Mithradates VI of the Bosporan Kingdom to quell a popular uprising against him in Phanagoria in 63 B.C.

One-meter long ram and presumably made of bronze, it has an engraving of Mithradates VI, the king of Pontus from 119 to 63 B.C. who was the most powerful king in Anatolia during the 1st century B.C. Often called Rome’s greatest enemy, he fought three wars against the Roman republic.

The ram was found in the submerged part of Phanagoria, the largest Greek colony on the Taman peninsula, not far from the 15-meter-long ship that was previously unearthed in 2012. Read more.

10 hours 1 min ago Penn Museum, Smithsonian Offer Training, Support for Syrian Museum Collections << Archaeological News on Tumblr

In addition to the high toll that Syria’s four-year-old civil war has had on its people and infrastructure, Syria’s cultural heritage has been and continues to be destroyed at an unprecedented rate. World Heritage sites like the historic city of Aleppo and Krak des Chevaliers, as well as medieval Christian cemeteries and numerous archaeological sites and museums, have been subjected to extensive raiding and looting.

In an effort to help stem the loss of the region’s significant cultural heritage, Penn Museum’s Penn Cultural Heritage Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., in cooperation with the Syrian Interim Government’s Heritage Task Force, have come together to offer assistance for museum curators, heritage experts, and civilians working to protect cultural heritage inside Syria. Read more.

10 hours 9 min ago Haven’t we had this discussion before? Iris’s message and the Trojan assembly << Oral Poetry
Just as the Catalogue of Ships is much longer and more elaborate than the catalogue of the Trojans and their allies, so it seems that my posts will be shorter than Casey’s. But the Iliad’s oral, traditional poetry shows us that such compression for what comes second is part of the poetics. In addition to the example of the two catalogues, we can also compare the version in the Venetus A of the arming of Paris and Menelaos for their duel. (Lord used this example for illustrating compression and expansion, Lord 1960/2000: 89–91.) Paris’s arming scene is composed in 11 lines (Iliad 3.328–338), detailing each piece of equipment he dons, while Menelaos’s is summed up in just one line “Similarly Ares-like Menelaos put on his war gear as well” (Iliad 3.339). [I specify the Venetus A’s version has only one line because P40 records three partial lines following this one in which Menelaos putting on some war gear is described!] The benefit for me in going second is that I can likewise refer back to Casey’s masterly explanations in what I am addressing. 

For example, Casey noted in her latest post that the evolution of the epic over time allows for it to organically recompose themes and episodes that in other ways of telling the story would happen earlier within the narrative than the tenth year of the war. Thus the Catalogue of Ships, or any roster of fighters, might be though of as appropriate to the beginning of the war, but it can be (and has been!) recomposed to become a integral part of the Iliad. I of course agree completely with what Casey is saying, and I want to extend the discussion by noting that the traditionality of the theme or episode allows  it to evoke those other ways of using it as well. That is, the Catalogue of Ships certainly is integrated into the narrative of the Iliad in the tenth year of the war, but if it was ever sung as part of the telling of the beginning of the war, it can also maintain that trace of those earlier events within the current performance. The Catalogue comes at a point in this tenth year when the Achaeans could have left, but instead they renew their commitment to the war and resume the fighting. Thus the war “restarts” and the contingents fighting for both sides are recomposed into this action sequence. 

In my last post, I examined the lines in which the Trojans are introduced to us with the arrival of the divine messenger Iris and looked at the meanings of the formulas “ἠμὲν νέοι ἠδὲ γέροντες” (2.789) and “ἀγγελίῃ ἀλεγεινῇ” (2.787) and the deeper connections they create by way of their other uses in the epic. Now I will continue looking at the message Iris brings, to see how it, too, is both organic within this narrative and also possibly evokes ways of singing such an episode at the very beginning of the war. So what I hope to show here is that (1) Iris’s message to and about the Trojan assembly both belongs to the tenth year of the war and evokes the very beginning of the war through its deployment of its traditional language, And (2) that it can do both simultaneously adds depth of meaning (a phenomenon we see frequently with traditional language).  Here is the fuller passage, again using the Venetus A manuscript’s version:

786 Τρωσὶν δ᾽ ἄγγελος ἦλθε ποδήνεμος ὠκέα Ϊ῀ρις
787  παρ Διὸς αἰγιόχοιο σὺν ἀγγελίῃ ἀλεγεινῇ·
788  οἱ δ᾽ ἀγορὰς ἀγόρευον ἐπὶ Πριάμοιο θύρῃσι
789  πάντες ὁμηγερέες, ἠμὲν νέοι ἠδὲ γέροντες·
790  ἀγχοῦ δ᾽ ἱ¨σταμένη προσέφη πόδας ὠκέα Ϊ῀ρις·
791  εἴσατο δὲ φθογγὴν· υἱέϊ Πριάμοιο Πολίτῃ
792  ὃς Τρώων σκοπὸς ΐζε ποδωκείῃσι πεποιθὼς.
793  τύμβῳ ἐπ ακροτάτῳ Αἰσυήταο γέροντος
794  δέγμενος ὁππότε, ναῦφιν ἀφορμηθεῖεν Ἀχαιοί·
795  τῷ μιν ἐεισαμένη προσέφη πόδας ὠκέα Ϊ῀ρις·
796  ὦ γέρον. αἰεί τοι μῦθοι φίλοι ἄκριτοί εἰσιν·
797  ὥς ποτ᾽ ἐπ᾽ εἰρήνης. πόλεμος δ᾽ ἀλίαστος όρωρεν·
798  ἤδη μὲν ῆ μὲν δὴ μάλα πολλὰ μάχας εἰσήλυθον ἀνδρῶν.
799  ἀλλ᾽ οὔ πω τοιόνδε τοσόνδέ τε λαὸν ὄπωπα·
800  λίην γὰρ φύλλοισιν ἐοικότες ἢ ψαμάθοισιν
801  ἔρχονται πεδίοιο μαχησόμενοι περι προτι ἄστυ·
802  Ἕκτορ· σοὶ δὲ μάλιστ᾽ ἐπιτέλλομαι· ὧδε δὲ ῥέξαι·
803  πολλοὶ γὰρ κατὰ ἄστυ μέγα Πριάμου ἐπίκουροι
804  ἄλλη δ᾽ ἄλλων γλῶσσα πολυσπερέων ἀνθρώπων·
805  τοῖσιν ἕκαστος ἀνὴρ σημαινέτω οἷσί περ ἄρχει·
806  τῶν δ᾽ ἐξηγείσθω κοσμησάμενος πολιήτας·

[786] To the Trojans Iris with wind-swift feet came as a messenger
[787] from aegis-shaking Zeus with a troubling message. 
[788] They were speaking in assembly at the doors of Priam,
[789] all of them gathered together, both young men and old.
[790] Swift-footed Iris stood close by and spoke,
[791] and she likened her voice to that of the son of Priam, Polites,
[792] who was sitting as a lookout for the Trojans, confident in the swiftness of his feet,
[793] on the highest point of the burial mound of the old man Aisyetes
[794] awaiting the time when the Achaeans would make a start from their ships.
[795] Resembling him, swift footed Iris spoke:
[796] “Old man, always dear [philos] to you are words [muthos] without decision,
[797] so it was once in peacetime, but unavoidable war has come about.
[798] Indeed [v.l. Already] so many times I have entered battles with men,
[799] but not yet have I seen so many and such great warriors.
[800] As numerous as leaves or grains of sand
[801] they come across the plain to fight around [v.l. against] the city.
[802] Hektor, to you most of all I give commands: do the following.
[803] Since there are throughout the great city of Priam many allies,
[804] and the language of one group differs from the language of the other men from all over,
[805] let each man give signals to those whom he rules.
[806] And once he has arrayed his citizens, let each be the leader of them.”

Iris comes in the guise of Polites, son of Priam, who is acting as a lookout. It certainly makes sense to have lookouts posted for the movements of the Achaeans even now in the tenth year of the war, so that the Trojans can be alerted when they are on the attack, but the details of what Iris says evoke the Achaeans’ very first landing at and attack against Troy. She contrasts “peacetime” with the fact that war is now upon them (Iliad 2.797)—a contrast easily made at the beginning of a conflict with a call to action. Another detail that recalls the beginning of the war is when she says that she has never seen so many or such great warriors (Iliad 2.799). Since the Trojans, including Polites, have been seeing these warriors for over nine years now,  this description of the overwhelming force of the Achaeans, like the renewed commitment to the war on the Achaeans’ part earlier in Book 2 that prompts the Catalogue of Ships, similarly conjures up the beginning of the war, when the arrival of the Achaeans could have been announced in this same language. As Casey was pointing out about the Catalogue itself, this statement’s evocation of the beginning of the war does not mean it is inappropriate or poorly integrated here, but rather that traditional language can operate on both levels simultaneously. (David Elmer [2013: 102] also shows how the poetry can operate at the levels of the past and present at the same time when he argues that the Catalogue of Ships becomes the “ultimate emblem” of order and the epic tradition as it “appears to describe not just the various components of Agamemnon’s fleet when he sailed for Troy but also the units into which the leaders divide the army on the present occasion.” The Catalogue, Elmer goes on to say, “also exhibits the poetic order imposed by the narrator with the help of the Muses.”)

One other aspect of Iris’s speech also suggests the way the language here could have been used to sing the beginning of the war, and, if it had been used in such a way, could for a traditional audience bring to mind that episode. David Elmer’s work brought my attention to Iris’s opening description of this Trojan assembly, where their words are ἄκριτοι (2.796, “without decision” in my translation, “that do not arrive at a result” in Elmer’s, 2013: 134). Elmer contrasts this habitual lack of consensus and decision-making among the Trojans that Iris describes (instead, right after her speech, Hector alone makes a decision and takes action) with the collective decision making of the Achaeans (Elmer 2013: 134–135). (Elmer also notes the communication problem of speaking different languages that Iris points to at 2.803–806 as part of the problem for “true collective action” among the Trojans.) This contrast, Elmer points out, is similarly seen in Iliad 7 when both the Achaeans and the Trojans hold assemblies after the day’s battle has been concluded. The Achaean leaders all express their approval of Nestor’s suggestion to build their defensive wall (Iliad 7.344), and meanwhile, the Trojans hold an assembly that is “angry and full of discord” (Iliad 7.345–346, Elmer’s translation of δεινὴ τετρηχυῖα, 2013: 133). 

What the Trojans discuss at that discordant assembly in Iliad 7 brings me back to how Iris’s characterization of Priam’s speeches as “without decision” can evoke the beginning of the war. In the assembly in Iliad 7, the proposal discussed (and rejected by Paris) is the return of Helen to the Achaeans. If the Trojans were in assembly when Polites or Iris brought the message that the Achaeans had arrived (for the first time) to make war on Troy, we can imagine that the subject of deliberation was whether or not to return Helen. That their public speeches (μῦθοι) then were also ἄκριτοι is evidenced by the fact that they are still in the tenth year considering whether they should return Helen, as seen both in the assembly in Iliad 7 and in the words of the Trojan elders in Iliad 3, who when they see Helen say that she is worth fighting for, but even so, she should go back in the ships and not remain with them (Iliad 3.154–160). We are not told in this scene in Iliad 2 what the Trojans were discussing in their assembly—but its associations with other Trojan assemblies (such as that in Iliad 7) and the whole scene’s associations with the beginning of the war draw our attention to that crucial decision that the Trojans could never make, even to save themselves. Iris’s message therefore gives not only a sense of that first landing of the Achaeans at Troy but also fulfills her opening description— it tells us that no matter how many times the Trojans deliberate over how to prevent or to end this war, their speeches are always without a collective agreement, without a final decision about what to do about Helen. Thus the assembly in the past, when the Achaeans first arrived, and this assembly in the present when the war is renewed, can use the same traditional language and themes and thereby give us a sense of the war at those two points in time—and even as a repeating continuance from the beginning to the “now” of the story. 

Work cited:
Elmer, David F. 2013. The Poetics of Consent: Collective Decision Making & the Iliad. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

10 hours 25 min ago Gold diadem of twisted ribbons with a Herakles... << Ancient Peoples

Gold diadem of twisted ribbons with a Herakles knot


c.300-280 BC
Said to be from the island of Mílos, Aegean Sea

Marking a moment of transition

This unusual and lovely diadem is made up of three long sheets of gold twisted to form ribbons on each side of a Herakles knot. The Herakles knot is found in Greek jewellery from the Mycenaean period, but became particularly popular in the fourth century BC. Its symbolism is closely connected with marriage, and the knot that tied the bride’s garment and was untied by the groom. In many cultures the tying or untying of knots marks moments of transition, whether from maiden to married woman or even from life to death. The untying of knots is also connected with the easing of childbirth.

Source: British Museum

10 hours 28 min ago Southend shipwreck The London 'similar to Mary Rose' << Archaeological News on Tumblr

The excavation of an underwater wreck could be “similar in scope” to the Mary Rose warship, archaeologists have said.

Divers have recovered a series of objects from the ship called The London, which exploded off the coast of Southend in 1665.

The haul so far includes pewter spoons, coins and navigational dividers.

A project spokesman said: “The artefacts we can recover may be similar in scope to those… from the Mary Rose, but 120 years later in date.”

The Mary Rose saw 34 years of service before it sank while leading an attack on a French invasion fleet in 1545. Around 19,000 artefacts were found on board after it was raised from the seabed of the Solent in 1982. Read more.

10 hours 39 min ago Egypt’s Heritage Crisis << Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

The looting of Egypt’s cultural heritage is reaching epidemic proportions with even some major sites now not left untouched, writes David Tresilian from Paris ('Egypt’s heritage crisis', Al-Ahram Weekly Issue No.1207, 24 July, 2014).
the true extent of the threat to Egypt’s heritage has perhaps lain elsewhere in the illicit excavation of archaeological sites outside the capital and illegal encroachment on them. The illicit excavation of archaeological sites, carried out in the hope of finding antiquities that can then be smuggled out of the country for sale abroad, has been going on for centuries, but there has been a huge increase in such activities since 2011. When the problem of illegal encroachment on archaeological sites and opportunistic thefts from even urban sites and monuments is added to the rise in cases of illicit excavation, the true extent of the crisis emerges. [...] some observers have begun to speak of a heritage crisis affecting Egypt, one which could wreak lasting damage on the country’s cultural sites and institutions. 
Interviews with Salima Ikram, Monica Hanna and Deborah Lehr. What a strange and repetitive text this is, however. It looks like bits of it were written a couple of years ago and put in a drawer.

11 hours 19 min ago US Pot-Kettle-Black and Hopi Masks << Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Hey, that's AMERICAN!
Give our stuff back, furriners
Opinion: Pierre Ciric, 'Hopi and Navajo Masks Auction Precedent in France Is Too Dangerous', Friday, July 25, 2014

The Washington-based Holocaust Art Restitution Project (“HARP”) has called “shameful” and “tragic” the refusal by the French “Conseil des Ventes” ("Board”) to suspend a Paris auction sale of sacred masks made by the Hopi and Navajo tribes.
The Board held that the Hopi tribe [...] have no legal capacity or standing to pursue any cultural claim in France, setting the stage for the Paris market to become a safe haven for any indigenous cultural property. [...]  This dismissive denial of access to justice flies in the face of the progress made in international law by all tribes and indigenous peoples
The American organization dramatises the decision ("it means that neither the Hopi tribe nor any Native American tribe has any legal existence under French law"). Indeed they do not. US legislation (e.g., 'the Indian (sic!) Reorganization Act' of 1934) does not automatically oblige foreign governments to anything (in the same way as US antiquity dealers refuse to acknowledge the automatic applicability of foreign cultural property laws to them). HARP and Mr Ciric can flap as much as they like, what is sauce for the American goose is surely sauce for the European gander.

The whole thing boils down to insufficient legislation on the American side. If the USA, ratifying the 1970 UNESCO Convention had deigned to actually do what it says and institute export licence regulations on cultural property being exported from the US (even if it defines specific classes covered and not covered), then the absence of such licences would be grounds for stopping the auction - or at least better grounds than "we say this is wrong, some of us want this back". Against what criteria would the US lawyer have the French assess whether something is "smuggled" if the nation from which it came refuses to adopt any system of documenting legal export of this type of cultural property?

The Hopi have no separate legal status in France, but could easily sort this out 'the American way' by arranging the signing of an MOU with the French government in the same way as the US government would ask the French to sign an MOU with them to regulate the import of archaeological objects (such as ancient coins) pillaged from French archaeological sites. This is a matter between the Hopi and Navajo and Washington, not the Hopi and the government of France.

Far from this "decision should shock everyone’s conscience", what it should do is to prod the Americans into looking more carefully at their own cultural policies and stop moaning that others will not do for them what they only very grudgingly often do for others (there are some 195+ countries in the world, the US currently has cultural property MOUs with seventeen of them - France is not one of those favoured countries).

More drama-queen histrionics from HARP:
"This decision creates a tragic precedent and sets the stage for France to become a safe haven for any cultural property originating with indigenous peoples worldwide".  
How many "tribal art" dealers are there in the US? How many of them restrict their offerings so as not to include "any cultural property originating with indigenous peoples worldwide"? Do US authorities oversee them to the degree Mr Ciric demands the French should be regulating due diligence of French sellers? Or is the American lobbyist (like all his fellows) demanding that the world cowtow to US interests and do much more for them in an unequal partnership than the US is prepared to do in its own art and antiquities dealings? That is of course a wholly rhetorical question.

11 hours 31 min ago Forfeiture and Becchina: another link to Canada << David Gill (Looting Matters) Ric St Hilaire has written about a new forfeiture of two items that seem to be identified from the Becchina archive. The two items are an Attic red-figured skyphos and an Apulian bell-krater, valued at $55,000. They are reported to have been consigned to Christie's in New York. It is reported that they were seized in 2011 from from Walter M. Banko Enterprises, Ltd. of Montreal.

It appears that the paperwork for the objects may have been fabricated as the skyphos passed through the hands of Becchina in 1982 even though there had been a link with Borowski. The krater appears to have been in Becchina's possession in 1992 even though the paperwork suggested an alternative collecting history.

St Hilaire notes the quoted collecting history for the krater that was later moved from France to Canada:
Documents recovered from the search of Becchina’s gallery and warehouse reveal the occurrence of the following events: in February of 1992, Becchina purchased the Krater, in fragments, from Raffaele Monticelli. On or about October 24, 1992, Becchina delivered the Krater to Ettore Bruno who was to restore the Krater. On or about July 15, 1993, Ettore Bruno sent a photograph of the restored Krater to Becchina. On or about August 10, 1993, Robert Guy answered Becchina regarding the Krater’s attribution and the scientific study of the Krater. Ettore Bruno returned the Krater to Becchina in March of 1994. Becchina paid 8,490 Swiss francs for the restoration of the Krater. On May 1, 1994, Bechina noted that the Krater was then located in his warehouse at Porto Franco di Basilea (Switzerland).
I have raised the issue of Walter Banko before in the case of the janiform head also identified from the Becchina archive. This head had passed through Christie's in 2009.

Will Christie's have to explain the rigour of their due diligence process?

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11 hours 42 min ago Middeleeuws weekend Raversyde op 26-27 juli << ArcheoNet BE

Dit weekend worden de middeleeuwen opnieuw tot leven gebracht in Raversyde – ANNO 1465 in Oostende. Op zaterdag 26 en zondag 27 juli kan je je laten onderdompelen in de wereld van ridders, schildknapen en jonkvrouwen. Op het programma staan riddertoernooien en boogschutterswedstrijden, oude ambachten en diverse demonstraties. Rondom de middeleeuwse huizen slaan zo’n honderd re-enactors uit binnen- en buitenland hun tentenkamp op. Meer informatie over het evenement vind je op

11 hours 44 min ago Middlesex Canal Museum Exhibits << AIA Fieldnotes Middlesex Canal Association
International Archaeology Day
Saturday, October 4, 2014 - Sunday, October 26, 2014