Maia Atlantis: Ancient World Blogs

2 hours 39 min ago Treasure hunt at Pulau Nangka << Noel Tan (The Southeast Asian Archaeology Newsblog)

A strange story that is developing in Malaysia: The Malacca government has authorised a treasure hunt in Pulau Nangka, in search of gold thought to belong to the Malacca Sultanate. The rumours of treasure on the island seem to be more steeped in legend than fact, and according to Malaysia’s Heritage Commissioner, the state government does not have the authority to do authorise a hunt.

 The Star, 20140414

Pulau Nangka. Source: The Star, 20140414

Antiquarian: Decipher scripts and symbols – and treasures will be found
The Star, 15 April 2014

Billion-ringgit treasure hunt in Malacca
The Star, 14 April 2014

Could the treasure be Sultan Mahmud’s riches?
The Star, 14 April 2014

Mysterious scripts and symbols reportedly written on the walls of a cave in Pulau Nangka hold the key to finding its hidden treasures.

According to a local antiquarian, those who had entered the cave had seen the strange writings. “But, they could not interpret them.”

Th antiquarian, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said people had also seen the same writings replicated on a palm leaf scroll, which could no longer be traced.

“The key to finding the treasures is to decipher the writings,” he said, adding that since the late 1970s, there had been several attempts to salvage the treasures. “However, all were futile.”

Full story here.

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3 hours 2 min ago Chinese tourists to Angkor up << Noel Tan (The Southeast Asian Archaeology Newsblog)

Chinese tourists to Angkor see a 10% increase compared to last year for the January-February period.


Chinese tourists to Cambodia’s Angkor world heritage site continue to grow
Xinhua, 13 April 2014

The number of Chinese visitors to Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple, one of the World Heritage Sites, has continued to grow in the first two months of this year, a tourism official said Sunday.

Some 71,100 Chinese had visited the 12th century temple during the January-February period this year, up 10.5 percent compared with the same period last year, said Chhoeuy Chhorn, administration chief of the tourism department in Siem Reap province, where the temple is located.

“China is the second largest source of tourists to the temple after South Korea,” he told Xinhua by telephone.

Full story here.

13.4124693 103.86698569999999
photo by:
3 hours 48 min ago Site of Rhode Island’s First Orphanage Excavated << Archaeology Magazine

PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND—The Rhode Island State Home and School Project, led by E. Pierre Morenon of Rhode Island College, has collected oral histories, video, state records, and conducted excavations on the grounds of the state’s first orphanage, which operated from 1885 to 1979. Its last remaining wooden building, known as Yellow Cottage, and two other buildings still stand on the Rhode Island College campus. Morenon and his team uncovered a toy soldier, pieces of roller skates and toy guns, a toy tow truck, buttons, little purses, and many marbles. “For me, there’s a lot of meaning attached to objects. I tend as an archaeologist to think that they are not just functional things, but part of a child’s life,” Morenon told The Providence Journal

4 hours 49 min ago Monica Hanna: The Arab Spring and the State of Egyptian Antiquities << Peter Tompa (Cultural Property Observer)
On April 14, 2014, Monica Hanna, an Egyptologist and social media activist, spoke at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.  She was introduced by Haleh Esfandiari, the Director of Middle East Programs at the Center.  There were approximately forty (40) attendees in the audience.

Esfandiari indicated Hanna’s talk was co-sponsored by the Antiquities Coalition.  Hanna is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Humboldt University (Berlin) and was recently awarded the SAFE Beacon Award.  She created Egypt’s “Heritage Task Force” as a social media platform to combat looting.

Dr. Hanna discussed serious damage done at several Pharaonic, Ptolemaic, Coptic, and Islamic sites. Those most at risk are in urban areas.  A “Land Mafia” typically repurposes sites over time so they lose their character as archaeological sites in the mind of locals.  Tactics include using the sites as garbage dumps, farms and cemeteries.  Cemeteries in particular are difficult to remove for obvious reasons.   Local government, Religious Institutes or even National Government ministries have also been at fault.  They have built football pitches or even buildings adjoining or directly on archaeologically sensitive sites.  In the process, monuments are either defaced or utterly destroyed.  In this regard, Dr. Hanna displayed several slides that compared 19th century prints with present day vistas.  In each case, significant monuments are no longer visible at all or have suffered considerable damage.

Villagers are a problem.  Families with children go out for a picnic and then loot.   There also is more organized looting that Hanna attributes to the illicit international antiquities trade.  They use bulldozers and dynamite to destroy sites in search for loot.  Hanna showed pictures of a looted Coptic site where religious reliefs were pried out from stonework.  She also showed other pictures of looters’ pits where remnants of mummies and mummy cases were left behind.  Apparently, families know not to store looted material in their houses because of the danger of arrest.  Instead, they bury it elsewhere for later retrieval once a middleman is found.

Hanna next discussed looting and destruction at the Malawi Museum in Minya.  She showed before and after slides of mummies that had been burnt by the mob.  Unfortunately, mummies burn quite easily.  Little kids destroyed pottery and other artifacts.  She asked one teenager why he did it.  In response, he told her, “Because they belong to the Government and I’m mad at the Government.”   [Looting of the museum was tied to rioting following a military coup that overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood Government of deposed President Mohamed Morsi.]  Hanna blamed the government for a slow response.  She was finally able to persuade a local police official to bring his family along to drive out the looters.  It took the army three days to send one tank to protect the museum.  [This sounds familiar.  The archaeological community registered similar complaints against the American Army’s alleged slow response to the looting of the Iraq National Museum.]

Hanna asserts that looting destroys history because 70% of an object’s historical value comes from the context in which it was found.  [Others will disagree.]  She advocates that activists report on anyone they believe is selling looted material.

Hanna  then answered some questions.  The first questioner [who appeared to be associated with the Wilson Center] asked about government involvement in looting, but Hanna did not answer that question.  Instead, she maintained that 20% of the looting came from locals selling to antiquities dealers and 80% was attributable to “the Mafia.”  She did not explain how she came by these figures.  She indicated that there needs to be much better community outreach to stem looting.  She wants to use social media to get information about sites being looted.  She said that the same networks that move drugs and guns move antiquities. Again, she did not disclose the source of this information.  She also stated that there are direct channels to middle men in the United States.  Again, no source was provided for this information.  She stated that two (2) recently looted artifacts surfaced at auction in London.  These were discovered because they were from museum stores and were published in 1956.  

The first questioner again asked Hanna if the authorities were involved.  In response, she stated the Mubarak regime was certainly involved and that the Chief of Police for Cairo was arrested for running a smuggling ring.  The questioner then pressed Hanna about any involvement by the current government.  Hanna indicated that it was too soon to tell.

Another questioner asked about whether there was a “concerted international response” to looting.   Hanna indicated it was essential to get the UN involved.  There are markets in the US and the Gulf.  If these markets were closed, the problem would be lessened.  Over the long term there needs to be more investment in local communities in Egypt.  The people must see that antiquities have a value to them.  One reason they loot is that they think it’s their right to do so because corrupt government officials are doing it too.  

Another questioner asked Hanna about the MOU with the United States.  Hanna indicated that it is essential to close markets.  She indicated that Egyptian authorities recently recovered 6,000 artifacts destined for a Swiss collector.   

Another individual indicated he had a State Department contract with a company that planned to assist Egypt create a database of artifacts in State Museum stores.  He wanted it to be known that two consecutive US Ambassadors had tried to get the Egyptian government to cooperate with the project, but the Mubarak Government stymied it.

Hanna indicated that governments need to be pressured to take a strong stance against antiquities illicit collecting.   The last time this was successful was Iraq.  In response to another question, Hanna indicated that she does not approve of private collecting.  She indicated that private collectors should be satisfied with objects with a demonstrable provenance back to 1970 or 1983, the date of a clear Egyptian patrimony law.   She does not think collectors should be able to “get away with” collecting unprovenanced artifacts.  They are likely stolen.  [CPO disagrees.  Egyptian artifacts have been actively and legally collected since the 19th c. and Egypt itself has only had clear law vesting title in the State since 1983.   Many Egyptian artifacts, particularly minor ones, have lost any information on how and where they were found over the years.  CPO submits to assume they are “stolen” is both factually wrong and grossly unfair to law abiding collectors.]
6 hours 31 min ago Hull Hands on History Museum << David Gill (Looting Matters)
In November 2013 it was announced that Hull would be the UK City of Culture in 2017, beating Leicester, Dundee and Swansea Bay (see BBC News; DCMS Press Release). The news story reminded us:
Phil Redmond added that the panel was "particularly impressed with Hull's evidence of community and creative engagement, their links to the private sector and their focus on legacy, including a commitment to enhance funding beyond 2017".
Hull's Council Leader, Stephen Brady was also quoted:
"It will give Hull a platform to tell the world what this great city has to offer, transform perceptions and accelerate our journey to make Hull a prime visitor destination."
However, five months on, Hull City Council has decided that it will close the Hands on History Museum housed in the Old Grammar School with its associations with William Wilberforce (see Hull City Council website). The Hull Daily Mail has more details.

Those concerned about the removal of this museum from the portfolio of the UK City of Culture 2017 should consider signing the online petition (here). What message is Hull City Council "telling the world"?

For some of the objects from the museum see here.

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7 hours 1 min ago Derniers numéros de revue << Thibaut Castelli (Spartokos a Lu)

Боспорских исследований, 30, 2014  le sommaire

Археологический Сборник, 39, 2013 le sommaire

Pontica, 46, 2013

Il Mar Nero, 7 le sommaire

Il Mar Nero, 8, le sommaire

7 hours 16 min ago Tests of Chilean Mummies Suggest Arsenic Poisoning << Archaeology Magazine

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA—New research suggests that contaminated water caused chronic arsenic poisoning among the Incas and the Chinchorro who lived in northern Chile between A.D. 500 and 1450. The skin, hair, clothes, and soil encrusting a naturally preserved mummy from the Tarapacá Valley of the Atacama Desert were examined by with nondestructive instruments by archaeological scientist Ioanna Kakoulli of the University of California Los Angeles and her colleagues. The condition of the mummy’s skin suggested arsenic ingestion, so the scientists imaged the hair samples with a very high resolution scanning electron microscope, and analyzed the distribution of elements and minerals in the hair sample with the synchrotron light source at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. They found that the arsenic had been uniformly distributed through the hair, and that the soil contained much lower concentrations of the toxic element. “The results are consistent with modern epidemiological studies of arsenic poisoning by ingestion,” Kakoulli told Live Science.  

7 hours 26 min ago twitchitywitchity: Originating from Mesopotamia, beryl was... << All Mesopotamia


Originating from Mesopotamia, beryl was worshipped as a magic stone. It is said to protect marital feelings and love and will help the one who possesses it reach high positions.

It is a very gentle healer, helping with homesickness and anxiety caused by traveling. Beryl aids in treating eye problems, placing the stone on the closed eye in the evening. It can alleviate mild stomach and bowel disorders and detoxify the body. Beryl is used in the treatment of angina and can relieve the effects of long-term stress when placed on the neck. When worn with morganite, it can enhance the physical appeal and erotic feelings of the wearer.

Beryl is a protective stone, especially when travel over water as that is its corresponding element.

It should always be placed in a bowl of hematite stones overnight and cleansed under warm running water while rubbing lightly.

Via: The Whimsical Pixie on Facebook.

7 hours 42 min ago New cooperation agreement between EAGLE and Rodopis << EAGLE News: Europeana Network of Ancient Greek and Latin Epigraphy

We are proud to announce that Rodopis ( has just signed a Cooperation Agreement with the EAGLE Best Practice Network. This cooperation will hopefully lead to the involvement of Rodopis members in the project’s User Engagement activities (via its network of members and friends). It may also facilitate a significant contribution to our Wikimedia Commons contents through the addition of links to EAGLE databases. Rodopis will also cooperate with EAGLE in organising intensive workshops on Digital Humanities and the digitalisation of texts in Italy. The aim of such activities will be the training of young students and researchers, especially in TEI-EpiDoc, one of the standards adopted by the EAGLE consortium for the publication of inscriptions online.

logo-rodopisRodopis is a cultural association of students, researchers and people interested in Ancient History. In recent years, Rodopis members have carried out several initiatives for promoting the study of Ancient History, both in and outside the academic world.

Many of the events organised by Rodopis are tightly linked to research. The most important among these are the cycles of graduate and postgraduate seminars “Ricerche a Confronto”, which were held in many Italian universities (Bologna, Trento, Roma Tre, Torino, Cagliari). In addition to this, the association has organised international Postgraduate Conferences in Classics.

Rodopis also focuses on the divulgation of Classics-related themes. To this end, several initiatives have been organised, including educational seminars and annual trips to important sites to the study of ancient culture.

All members of Rodopis look forward to this cooperation and are very glad to be part of this international effort to bring top quality epigraphic contents and data to the public for use and reuse. This is the mission we share!

7 hours 43 min ago Open Access Archaeology Digest #389 << Open Access Archaeology Open Access (free to read) archaeology articles for everyone:

Excavation at Lintshie Gutter Unenclosed Platform Settlement, Crawford, Lanarkshire, 1991.

Who were the Professional North American Archaeologists of 1900? Clues from the Work of Warren K. Moorehead

Excavations at the Buries, Repton


Learn more about Open Access and Archaeology at:

7 hours 57 min ago Mubarak Regime "Deeply Involved" in Antiquities Trafficking? << Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

"Dr. Monica Hanna  [...] identified the former police chief of Cairo as a major smuggler". 
and who was buying these antiquities from the (reportedly) corrupt cop? Coins for example? Any ACCG dealers for example? Is that the one who was blown up in the bomb near the university?
8 hours 9 min ago Sandstone statue of king Montuhotep II  Statue of the king shows... << Ancient Peoples

Sandstone statue of king Montuhotep II 

Statue of the king shows him in his Heb-sed (jubilee) costume. This feast was meant to renew the king’s youth and demonstrate his strength as king, so as to be show to be fit to rule Egypt. 

Egyptian, Middle Kingdom, 11th dynasty, 2051 - 2000 BC. 

Found in Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, temple of Montuhotep II 

Source: Metropolitan Museum

8 hours 10 min ago Seated divinity. Maya Culture, Rio Bec (?) or Chenes region,... << Ancient Art

Seated divinity. Maya Culture, Rio Bec (?) or Chenes region, Mexico, Classic period. Made of polychrome stucco, dates to between circa 550 and circa 950.

Former collection of Jean Lions, 1970s; former collection of H. Law; auctioned by Binoche & Giquello on 21 March 2011. Photo taken by Marie-Lan Nguyen.

8 hours 14 min ago Sod House Dissected in Nebraska << Archaeology Magazine

LINCOLN, NEBRASKA—A multidisciplinary team of researchers is dissecting a section of wall removed from a sod house in the Great Plains to learn about the lives of nineteenth-century homesteaders. Weighing in at nearly two tons, the wall was carried to The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where the “autopsy” is taking place. The wall itself comes apart easily, but the bricks, composed of dirt held together with the roots of prairie grasses, are very sturdy. “It’s a laboratory that we can kind of look to see over the course of a hundred years, what happened as people dealt with changing economic situations and as droughts came and affected them,” archaeologist LuAnn Wandsnider told NET Nebraska.

8 hours 40 min ago archaicwonder: Pegsus and Swastika, Silver Stater of Corinth c.... << He has a wife you know


Pegsus and Swastika, Silver Stater of Corinth c. 550-500 BC

Coin shows Pegasos (Pegasus), with curved wing, flying to left, a koppa below. On the reverse, an incuse in the form of a swastika.

Very rare. This is one of the finest of all archaic Corinthian staters known. Instead of walking, as on the earliest examples of this type, Pegasos is clearly flying here since all his hooves are diagonal and not flat on the ground. The swastika patterned incuse on the reverse is actually a very ancient solar symbol, found in many parts of the world, and has no political meaning.

The ancient city of Corinth was founded in the 10th century BC on the remnants of a Neolithic settlement. The town was extremely well situated on the isthmus that joins the Peloponnesus with the mainland of Greece. This location gave Corinth the possibility to control all roads connecting the two parts of Greece. As a result, Corinth soon developed into one of the most important trade centers of the ancient world.

Thanks to this vivid trade, Corinth belonged to the first western towns to take up coinage, supposedly around the middle of the 6th century BC. The motif on the coins of Corinth was Pegasus, the legendary winged horse – legend had it that Pegasus, scratching with his hoof on the rock Acrocorinthus, had released the spring of Peirene, the fountain that supplies Corinth with fresh water. The reverse of the early Corinthian coins showed a simple square, the so-called “quadratum incusum.” Soon however, the square was transformed into a swastika, as can be seen on this coin.

8 hours 50 min ago "Sign the UK up to the Hague Convention" << Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Helen Goodman, 'Stolen art cannot be brushed over, so sign the UK up to the Hague Convention' Guardian Comment is Free,  15 April 2014: 
"Cultural objects often become a part of conflict as aggressors and defenders seek to control their history and identity, and that of their enemies. [...] The Hague convention for the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict, originally drawn up in 1954 and amended in 1999, is an international treaty that stemmed from the destruction and appropriation of cultural objects in the second world war. The convention provides protection for cultural heritage in international law, prohibiting looting, theft, vandalism and reprisals against cultural property and barring the use of cultural property for military purposes except in exceptional circumstances. Importantly, it also forbids the export of cultural property from occupied territories and makes provision for the return of objects deposited with third-party territories for safekeeping during conflict. Yet the UK is one of the only western powers not to have ratified the convention. I am calling on the new culture secretary, Sajid Javid, to introduce legislation in the next Queen's speech to ratify the convention, and have asked a parliamentary question that will be addressed after Easter. Labour will back such a move if he agrees to this. There can be no excuse: the legislation was prepared by the last Labour government; the coalition has run out of ideas. Let's use the final year of this parliament to do something really useful on a cross-party basis".
Who'll support this? British archaeologists and their metal detecting "partners"?
8 hours 58 min ago Court Rules Clay Tablets Remain at Chicago’s Oriental Institute << Archaeology Magazine

persepolis tablets1CHICAGO, ILLINOIS—Nine American survivors of a 1997 terrorist attack in Jerusalem were awarded damages in a U.S. court for more than $300 million from the Republic of Iran. When Iran refused to pay the damages, the plaintiffs claimed a collection of Achaemenid Tablets on loan to the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute. But a U.S. court has ruled in a second appeal that the tablets are classified as noncommercial property and are therefore not subject to seizure. The tablets are currently being digitized and cataloged as part of the university’s Persepolis Fortification Archive Project. “We will return them [to Iran] when we are done recording, analyzing, and publishing them,” Matthew Stolper, head of the project, told The Chicago Maroon.  

8 hours 58 min ago Open Access Journal: Journal of Theological Studies (old series Vols. 1 - 10 (1899-1909)) << Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online) Journal of Theological Studies (old series Vols. 1 - 10 (1899-1909))
Journal of Theological Studies is now published by Oxford University Press. The original series ran from 1899-1949 and the new series began in 1950, continuing to the present day. The printed index of Vols. 1-30 (1899-1929) can be downloaded here.
old series
Vols. 1 - 10 (1899-1909)
Vols. 11 - 20 (1910-1919)
Vols. 21 - 30 (1920-1929)
Vols. 31 - 40 (1930-1939)
Vols. 41 - 50 (1940-1949)
new series
Vols. 1 - 10 (1950-1959)
Vols. 11 - 20 (1960-1969)
Vols. 21 - 30 (1970-1979)
Vols. 31 - 40 (1980-1989)
Vols. 41 - 50 (1990-1999)
Vols. 51 - 60 (2000-2009)
Vols. 61 - (2010- )
9 hours 6 min ago Insurance Company's Comedy Metal Detectorist Still Popular << Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

Comedy metal detectorist in action
Empty-brain metal detectorists in the US are claiming tonight that a commercial was modified due to their concerns about the way it portrays brown bears on motorbikes. Sadly, bears are still being exploited to sell insurance and metal detectorists are no wiser.
Farmers Insurance TV Spot, 'Bear'
and Joe Woods and Stephen William Sylvia continue to be one-of-a-kind ambassadors for the hobby.
9 hours 48 min ago Luxor Theft: Laughable Fine for Antiquities Smuggling in Bonkers Britain << Paul Barford (Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues)

"Now, let that be a lesson to you, you naughty man".
A UK court has fined a British citizen £500 after he admitted having attempted to sell a number of ill-gotten Egyptian antiquities through Christie’s. He bought then illegally in Egypt, smuggled them out of the country, lied to Christie's about where they came from, greedily counted on making a packet. And he would have done if they'd not been spotted by an archaeologist who knew where one of the items had been stolen from. Neil Kingsbury was arrested:
During a nine-month trial, Kingsbury revealed he had bought the items from a man called Mohamed who owned a series of shops, including one in a five-star hotel complex in Luxor, and brought them to Britain in a suitcase. Due to his cooperation and confession, Kingsbury was told he would not be sentenced to prison. Beside the £500 fine, he was also ordered to pay £50 as a court fee.
and told "not to do it again", no doubt. Laughable, and gives out a clear message that the British do not give a tinker's about looted material on the UK market. No surprise there though when their jobsworth archaeologists refer to artefact hunters and collectors as their "partners" and refuse to discuss the issue in public.

The fate of "Mohammed" after Mr Kingsbury shopped him to get a lighter sentence is unknown

Amer Sultan, 'Briton fined £500 by UK court for attempted sale of smuggled Egypt antiquities', Ahram Online, Tuesday 15 Apr 2014
10 hours 7 min ago A marvellous collection of photographs – Following Hadrian, by Carole Raddato << Roger Pearse (Thoughts on Antiquity, Patristics, putting things online, and more)

Over the last couple of months, I have become aware of another individual who, quietly, and without any fanfare, is making a real difference to ancient history online.  Her name is Carole Raddato, and she writes the Following Hadrian blog.

What she is doing is travelling all over the Roman Empire, and photographing its material remains.  The results appear on Flickr here.

She’s going into museums, and photographing exhibits, and placing them online.  In quantity:  there are over 14,000 photographs in that Flickr collection.  And at very high quality: far, far better than anything we see in published literature.

I became aware of her work, while working on the Mithras site.  Again and again I found that a striking, clear, good quality image would be … by Carole Raddato.  It might be in Wikimedia Commons (a site that takes a pretty casual attitude to copyrights of others); more usually on her own Flickr feed.

Again and again I would look for some artefact in some museum and then find … Miss Raddato had visited that museum and made a collection of photographs, all now freely online.

The path she is following – that of the Emperor Hadrian in his travels about the empire – is taking her to the major sites and repositories of the ancient and modern world.  The result is this marvellous collection of material.

A lot of people put holiday photos online.  They are of variable quality.  But I don’t know of anybody else who is undertaking such a herculean task, and doing so in a way that is of permanent value.

We are all in your debt, Madam.  May your camera flash never grow dim!

10 hours 10 min ago Bronze statuette of Jupiter  18.1cm high (7 1/8... << Ancient Peoples

Bronze statuette of Jupiter 

18.1cm high (7 1/8 inch.) 

Roman, Early Imperial period, 1st century AD. 

Source: Metropolitan Museum

10 hours 13 min ago Bronze Age chronology revised by ancient weather report << Paola Arosio and Diego Meozzi (Stone Pages' Archaeonews) An inscription on a 3,500-year-old stone block from Egypt may be one of the world's oldest weather reports, and could provide new evidence about the chronology of events in the...
10 hours 14 min ago Prehistoric DNA paints more complex picture of human evolution << Paola Arosio and Diego Meozzi (Stone Pages' Archaeonews) According to Dr Mike Bunce, a researcher at Curtin University's Trace and Environmental DNA Laboratory, the ability to look deeper into fossils - past the traditional methods of simply carbon-dating...
10 hours 16 min ago 4,000-year-old pit houses found in Arizona << Paola Arosio and Diego Meozzi (Stone Pages' Archaeonews) A major ancient human settlement possibly dating back 4,000 years - including pit houses, the likely remnants of an irrigation canal, and human burials - has been discovered under the...