Friday, December 17, 2004

Scholar claims Indus script only symbols

Science : "The Indus civilization has intrigued and puzzled researchers for more than 130 years, with their sophisticated sewers, huge numbers of wells, and a notable lack of monumental architecture or other signs of an elite class. Most intriguing of all is the mysterious system of symbols, left on small tablets, pots, and stamp seals. But without translations into a known script--the 'Rosetta stones' that led to the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphics and Sumerian cuneiform in the 19th century--hundreds of attempts to understand the symbols have so far failed. And what language the system might have expressed--such as a Dravidian language similar to tongues of today's southern India, or a Vedic language of northern India--is also a hot topic. This is no dry discussion: Powerful Indian nationalists of the Hindutva movement see the Indus civilization as the direct ancestor to Hindu tradition and Vedic culture.

Now academic outsider Steve Farmer (see sidebar on p. 2028) and two established Indus scholars argue that the signs are not writing at all but rather a collection of religious-political symbols that held together a diverse and multilingual society. The brevity of most inscriptions, the relative frequencies of symbols, and the lack of archaeological evidence of a manuscript tradition add up to a sign system that does not encode language, argue historian Farmer and his co-authors, Harvard University linguist Michael Witzel and computational theorist Richard Sproat of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Instead, they say the signs may have more in common with European medieval heraldry, the Christian cross, or a bevy of magical symbols used by prehistoric peoples."

Monday, December 13, 2004

Ice-age Ivory Flute Found in German Cave

Reuters.co.uk: "A 35,000-year-old flute made from a woolly mammoth's ivory tusk has been unearthed in a German cave by archaeologists, says the University of Tuebingen.

The flute, one of the oldest musical instruments discovered, was pieced together from 31 fragments found in a cave in the Swabian mountains in southwestern Germany, the university said."

Friday, December 10, 2004

Achaemenid Settlement Discovered in Isfahan, Iran

Persian Journal: "One of the rarely-discovered settlements of Achaemenids, who used to inhabit Persia some 2,500 years ago, has been uncovered in the central city of Naein, Isfahan province.
The Achaemenid era is one of the most archeologically eventful epochs of ancient Persia, though few telltale settlements have been so far discovered.

'While demarking the boundaries of the Dar Castle in Naein just a few weeks ago, archeologists stumbled upon an Achaemenid settlement,' said Mohsen Javery, an archeologist in Isfahan.

Covering an area of 2.5 to 3 sq hectares, the dwelling is littered with Achaemenid potteries, making experts hopeful they would discover new points about the lifestyle of people living in that era."

Thursday, December 09, 2004

An Azerbaijani weighs in on "Alexander"

BakuTODAY.net

"For those of us who spend most of our time reading old books about ancient figures and events, movies like ?Alexander? offer a breath of fresh air by taking us away from the dusty pages of books and into thrilling theaters. Historical sagas like ?Alexander? make us reflect on how and why certain figures continue to intrigue our imagination and pique our curiosity. Alexander the Great of Macedonia (356-323 BC) is certainly one such figure. His mythical and factual persona has entered into oral narratives and written literatures of peoples of Central Asia and the Middle East ever since his arrival to the region in the spring of 334 BC, provoking thoughtful historical, literary, intellectual, and linguistic debates. Take the name of our homeland, ?Azerbaijan,? for instance. Does this astounding name originate from the name of our ancestors, the Azerler, or is it derived from the name of Atropathena, a general of Alexander?s who became the governor of Azerbaijan after Alexander?s death? Our historians and linguists are still debating this issue.

Narrated through the voice of Anthony Hopkins (as Greek historian Ptolemy), the film takes us on a journey through Alexander?s childhood, teens, youth and adulthood by way of some sporadic episodes, reaching its climax when Alexander defeats the Akhaemanian king Darius III in a long bloody battle in 331 BC. Having beaten the army of what the Greeks referred to as Persia, Alexander and his generals march into Babylonia. With all its splendor and grandeur, even Babylonia cannot contain the wild spirit of this restless figure. He keeps on marching and marching.

It is through Alexander?s encounters with local peoples that we come to witness a phenomenon in the movie that has captured the imagination of generations of historians for centuries: Why is this young conqueror greeted by local peoples throughout the vast Achaemenid Empire as a liberator? Why do we not find any semblance of revolt and revulsion against this man on the part of local peoples and communities? After all, who would want to be conquered and dominated by an outside force? These questions take us back not so much to Alexander?s tolerance and respect for other cultures (which he possessed to an admirable degree) but to the nature of the enemy that he defeats: the warlike tribe of Achaemenians. "

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Iranians and Greeks portrayed inaccurately in the Alexander movie

How are Iranians and Greeks portrayed in the Alexander movie?: "Despite excellent reviews of his book by critics and scholars, Dr. Robin Fox does not understand the military of ancient Persia. A typographical shot of the battle of Gaugamela, shows the Greeks advancing in ordered and disciplined ranks. In contrast, the armies of Darius III are shown as little better than an amorphous mob. This is a false image of the Achaemenid army. The Achaemenids used drums and musical instruments to direct the marching tactics of their troops in battle. Second, the Achaemeneans used the decimal system, which was in fact, unknown to the Greeks of the period. Persian units were formed in legions of 10, 100 or 1000 or 10,000. A typical term was 'Hezar-Patesh' (roughly equivalent to 'leader of a thousand men').

In addition, the Persians had developed a sophisticated system of heraldry and their troops wore standard uniforms. The Greeks were certainly excellent fighters and were thoroughly organized, but this does not mean that the Persians were not. At the time, the Greeks were militarily superior with respect to armaments, tactics and military training."

"It is (also) very interesting that Professor Fox does not refer to the Achaemenid capitals in Susa, Maracanda (Samarqand), Media or Persopolis. The destruction of Persopolis by Alexander is a major event - instead the movie shows Alexander entering the city of Babylon, implying that this was the administrative capital of Persia. Babylon was simply another satrapy of the empire; not its capital. Babylon had already been incorporated into the Persian Empire in 539 BC by Cyrus the Great (559-530 BC)."

"Babylon was not a major power at the time of Alexander. Persian arts and architecture were an eclectic synthesis of indigenous (e.g Median, Elamite), Lydian, and Mesopotamian styles, including Babylonian. The city-palace of Persopolis is very distinct and cannot be crudely termed as Babylonian."

"The portrayal of ancient Iranians is outright comical, if not insulting. The inaccurate Hollywood portrayal of Iranians is exemplified by the selection of Rosario Dawson , a very talented, beautiful and intelligent black actress, to star as Roxanna, an ancient Iranian queen from Soghdia-Bactria. Roxanna was not black, anymore than Alexander was Scandinavian. Having Rosario Dawson portrayed as Roxanna makes as much sense as having Lucy Liu, an Asian-American, portraying Queen Victoria of Great Britain.

The term Roxanna is derived from Old Iranian "Rokh-shwan" or "face (Ruksh) - fair skinned-shiny (shwan)". Roxanna was related to a North Iranian tribe known later as the Sarmatians, the remnants who survive in the Caucasus and Russia as the Ossetians (ancient Alans or Ard-Alans)

Roman sources such as Pliny repeatedly describe ancient North Iranian peoples such as the Alans and Seres as "?flaxen (blonde) haired blue eyed nomads?" (see Wilcox, p.19). Rosario Dawson does not fit the description of an ancient Iranian woman, especially from Northern Iranian stock. The Ossetians of today, descendants of ancient Northern Iranians, predominantly resemble northern Iranians and Europeans and speak an archaic Iranian language (like the Avesta of the Zoroastrians). Blondism is very common among these descendants of ancient North Iranians in cities such as Beslan and Vladikafkaz. It can be argued that Roxanna was a brunette, however, she was of Northern Iranian stock, which would still make her very different from actress Rosario Dawson."

"More puzzling is the design of Roxanna's costume in the movie. Note the photo showing the marriage of Alexander to Roxanna. Roxanna appears to wear a Burka-like veil constructed of strips of metallic mesh in which the face is partly hidden.

The headgear is partly correct if we base the costume on the Saka Paradraya Iranian speaking tribes of the present-day Ukraine (8-4th centuries BC). The decorations on the headgear are simply wrong and Iranian queens did not wear face masks of any type. "

Monday, December 06, 2004

Grisly find casts doubt on peaceful pyramid theory

The Guardian : "The ancient city-state of Teotihuacan was long thought a relatively gentle place because its art lacked the glorification of sacrifice and war so common in other Mesoamerican civilisations.

Now a team of archaeologists has gone beneath that peaceful appearance and revealed the skeletons in the city's pyramid.

The first ever excavation of the 1,900-year-old Pyramid of the Moon has uncovered the bones of a dozen adult males, 10 of them decapitated and all of them apparently offered up to the gods. Three other smaller-scale human offerings were also found in the seven-year project, which tunnelled deep into the solid stone-and-earth structure.

Though not the first sacrificial burials uncovered at the huge site just north-east of Mexico City, the skeletons in the pyramid show for the first time how central the practice was to the culture over time."

Discovery Channel Ramses a Recycle of Previous Programming

Last night I watched the heavily advertised "Ramses: Wrath of God or Man" on the Discovery Channel and was totally disgusted with it.

Essentially, Kent Weeks found four skeletons in KV-5 and selected one skull as the probable skull of the first-born son of Ramses. Why he selected this particular skull out of the four no one says. The skull has obvious damage caused by some type of weapon or blunt instrument on one side but so-called experts are called in to see if the cause of death could have been supernatural (i.e. the wrath of God).

What followed was two hours of rehashing the historicity of the Exodus including sequences of some so-called expert investigative journalist running around Egypt "discovering" the monotheistic religion of Ahkenaten. They speculated about Moses being one of Ramses own sons who was converted by remnants of followers from Amarna and basically trotted out the same information and speculations covered by their previous program on Moses and the Exodus last year. (Is this television's version of recycling?)

They made a big deal out of Ramses being less than straightforward about the battle of Kadesh and how this clearly indicates the Egyptians would not have recorded their defeat during the Exodus which explains why there has been little archaeological evidence to date to support the biblical account. Then they went on to explain away the head wound by saying that the original biblical account about the death of the first born was probably not meant to be literal. The Hebrews were armed and probably slew many Egyptian first born in the battle during their escape. What really made my jaw drop was the depiction of Nefretari and Ramses first-born nursing Ramses wounds in the campaign tent after the battle. I don't ever recall any mention of Egyptian pharaohs taking their women to battle with them, especially that far from the capital.

When the forensic tests comparing the facial geometry of the skull in question with that of the mummy of Ramses indicated a lack of familial similarity, they conceded that the only definitive answer to whether the skull was any relation to Ramses would have to come from DNA analysis and they weren't ready for that yet. (Again, no explanation was given although Zawi Hawass has been less than cooperative in approving DNA tests in the past.)

The program producers appeared to be turning themselves inside out trying not to offend religious fundamentalists while presenting information that does not support the biblical account. I would have preferred a much more scientific approach. The only important point made during the whole program was that Ramses first-born died as a mature adult, since there are references to him leading the army on a wall relief at Abu-Simbel.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

DNA Tests to solve Iron Age mysteries

Persian Journal Latest Iran news & Iranian Article News paper: "Studies show Iron Age people used to dwell in Persia from 2,500 BC to 500 BC, leaving behind a telltale sign in the form of grey potteries. The funerary artifacts unearthed in Iran's ancient cemeteries indicated those people took pride in their multifaceted and diversified culture and religious beliefs, though the dearth of knowledge on their settlements has frustrated archeologists.

Now a team archeologists in Tarbiat Modarres University (TMU) in Tehran and Iran's Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (CHTO) plan to use DNA tests to unravel mysteries of one the most intriguing epoch of human history.

Dr. Alireza Hozhabri Nobari, an archeologist in TMU who pioneered DNA tests on skeletons dug out from graves in the northwestern city of Tabriz, believes the approach could lead to solving some Iron Age mysteries. "

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Filmmaker Recreates Persepolis

Persian Journal : "Every detail matters for archeological filmmaker Farzin Rezaeian, whose new documentary was 2,500 years in the making. In Persepolis Recreated, Rezaeian switches between real-life images and computer simulations to create a complete interpretation of ancient Persepolis, which was destroyed by Alexander in 450 B.C.

To present details like the palace's carpets and the columns' ornamentations, Rezaeian used artifacts excavated from the Persepolis site. With these artifacts, some of which are held in the Oriental Institute, Rezaeian projected certain designs and patterns that he then presented in the film. One carpet pattern was created from scraps preserved in the ice of southern Siberia."

Sonar Scan reveals possible Atlantis

TruthNews: "American researcher Robert Sarmast told a news conference in Cyprus that the quest for Atlantis might be finally over. Sonar scanning of the seabed off the Mediterranean island revealed a buried city with what appear to be extensive man-made walls and trenches, matching Plato's description of the Acropolis fortress that once dominated Atlantis.

'As far as the scientists are concerned, they are not able to explain these anomalies on the sea floor,' Sarmast said. 'There are trenches, there are walls, there are river paths, a mile below the waves very, very defined, very visible,

on and around a hill that matches the description of Atlantis with perfect accuracy.'

Sarmast, a 38-year-old architect from Los Angeles, has devoted the past 2 1/2 years to trying to locate Altlantis. He said he and his team found more than 60 points that are a perfect match with Plato's detailed description of the layout of the Acropolis. If more research confirms that what lies beneath the waves is indeed the famed Acropolis, then Sarmast will have hit the ultimate bull's eye in archeology."

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

4000-year-old tombs unearthed in Vietnam

Vietnam News Agency: "Eighteen ancient tombs, believed to belong to the Ha Long Culture, some 4,000 years ago, have been unearthed in Hon Hai-Co Tien archaeological site in Ha Long city, northern Quang Ninh province.

Archaeologists said some skulls have been discovered intact as well as stone axes, grinding pestles, short swords and caremic pieces.

Archaeologists also found many artefacts belonging to the Dong Son Culture around the Hai Hai-Co Tien area, including bronze axes, stone necklaces, ear-rings and ceramic pots."

Thracian gold mask unearthed

Reuters.com: "Georgi Kitov's hands trembled as he cradled the glittering visage of an ancient king unearthed from a tomb in southern Bulgaria.

'This is the face of an evil ruler!' cried the archeologist, marveling at the cruel gaze from the mask of solid gold, the size of a dinner plate.

The mask dates back to the 5th century BC -- the golden age of the little-known Thracians -- and has been hailed as an unrivaled find in the study of classical antiquity.

"We've excavated seven tombs this year and their design, along with decorated ceramics, bronze, gold and silver jewels, shows we are dealing with a developed civilization," Kitov said.

Living on the edge of Asia, the Thracians came into contact with great civilizations who passed through their homelands: the Persians, Scythians, Greeks, Celts, Romans and even the Egyptian empire.

"Bulgaria indeed is one of the cradles of culture on the old continent. The first well-developed human civilization dwelled here 6,000 years ago," Bozhidar Dimitrov, curator at the Bulgarian History Museum, said."

Friday, November 05, 2004

New Underwater Archaeology Program in Myanmar Launched

Dar Al Hayat: "The Great Bell of Dhammazedi, which has been lying in Yangon River for centuries, will be among the treasures salvaged if a new underwater archaeology training program in Myanmar proves successful.

Ordered cast by a monarch who donated it to the capital's Shwedagon Pagoda in 1476, the giant bronze bell was stolen by a Portuguese adventurer. But the vessel carrying the bell sank. Until the late 1800s, the top of the sunken bell could still be seen at low tide."

Ancient City Discovered on dry Aral Sea Bottom

inform.kz: "Scientists of the Institute of Archeology in Khazakstan found some traces of an ancient town on the dry bottom of the Aral Sea. The area of the town amounts to about 6 ha and goes back to the 13-14 centuries, the epoch of the Golden Horde.

Relics of different workshops, windmills and storehouses for ceramic articles and the burial ground where the noble representatives of that period had been buried were found.

Excavations of the ancient town are planned to start next year. "

Friday, October 08, 2004

Persepolis Recreated To Premiere Oct 20

"An Iranian documentary filmmaker, Farzin Rezaeian has spent several years researching the Achaemenid palace at Persepolis, resulting in a visually stunning film featuring some of the leading scholars of ancient Persia."

The film, "Persepolis Recreated", will premiere October 20 at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute.

" ?We?re pleased that the film will be shown first at the Oriental Institute because of our strong connection to the archaeology of Iran,? said Matthew Stolper, the John A. Wilson Professor of Assyriology in the Oriental Institute and the College.

"Archaeologists from the Oriental Institute did important work at Persepolis before World War II and continued working in Iran up until 1979. OI scholars who worked on the results of the Persepolis excavations transformed the study of ancient Iranian history and languages. We also have recently resumed our collaboration with colleagues in Iran.

Among the items on display in the Oriental Institute's Persian Gallery are dishes that were smashed by the army of Alexander the Great as he destroyed Persepolis. The film on Persepolis comes at a time of renewed interest in Alexander, with the opening in early November of a major film on the Macedonian warrior?s life and the publication of a new biography."

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Cosmetics Ancient Beauty Secret of Persian Empire

Persian Journal : "Based on recent excavations in northwestern Iran, archaeologists now believe that eye makeup has been used Iran since about 4500 B.C. Other archaeological discoveries at Haft-Tappeh in Khuzestan Province indicate that women used to wear lipstick, rouge, and eye makeup in 2000 B.C. in Iran.

Achaemenid era religious texts say that the wives of the king spent a lot of time applying makeup and perfume before meeting the king. The ancient Greeks admired the Achaemenid era Persians for their custom of wearing makeup and attributed the origin of the use of cosmetics to the East.

Iranians used several different types and styles of makeup in the Achaemenid, the Parthian, and the Sassanid eras.

Seven items were used in women's cosmetics in ancient Iran: sormeh (black powder used as eyeliner), henna to dye the hair and hands, qazeh (rouge powder for the cheeks), sefidab (powder to whiten the face), vasmeh (powder to darken and thicken the eyebrows), zarak (yellowish powder used to lighten the hair color), and khal (a beauty spot).

Iranian men also wore cosmetics. The famous Parthian commander Sorena always wore makeup. Some sources have also mentioned that Darius the Great used black eyeliner."

"One Night With The King" to be adapted to film

WebWire "Hadassah: One Night With The King", a historical novel based on the life of the young Jewish girl, Hadassah, the rags-to-riches heroine who went on to become the Biblical Esther, the Queen of Persia (400?322 B.C.) has been adapted for film by screenwriter Stephan Blinn. Complete with suspense, political war conspiracies, and religious intrigue, the epic tale's principle photography was shot in northwestern India. Directed by Michael Sajbel, "One Night With The King" is scheduled for theatrical release March 25.

Iran, Germany Explore Ancient Industrial City

Payvan: "Iranian and German archeologists have started their 5th season of excavations in the ancient industrial city of Erisman, in central Iran, which used to house several metal workshops.

Erisman is considered the largest industrial city of the ancient Persia and experts have already discovered remains of furnaces, architectural structures and potteries.

Erisman is located in Isfahan province, just 10 km away from Natanz. It is spread over a 40 hectare patch of land. Experts believe Erisman had been an industrial hub, where ironsmiths, silversmiths and goldsmiths had a brisk business. "

Modern Medieval-themed Restaurants Stereotype Lifestyle of the Middle Ages

By Mark Schatzker: "Since 1983, when its first 'castle' opened in Kissimmee, Fla., Medieval Times Entertainment Inc. has served over 20 million diners. But there's one problem. Medieval-themed feasts aren't medieval. The vegetable soup (dragon tail soup), bland roast chicken (baby dragon), baked potato (dragon egg), and doughy desserts certainly seem pre-modern, not to mention pre-food-processor. It's like the food is the culinary equivalent of the classic stereotype that casts medieval people as belching, rugged simpletons.

Medieval chefs used spices as enthusiastically as the boy bands of today use hair products. Yes, medieval chefs did serve plain roasted meats, but they also served many meat dishes that featured thick, gooey sauces very heavily flavored with ingredients like ginger, sugar, vinegar, wine, raisins, mace, cloves, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, pepper, and honey. "Mawmenny," a typical dish, consisted of ground beef, pork, or mutton boiled in wine, which was then served in a wine-based sauce thickened with pounded chicken and almonds, then flavored with cloves, sugar, and more almonds (this time fried), and then festively colored with an indigo or red dye.

While a Medieval Times castle seats anywhere from 900 to 1,500 people a night, and the Excalibur's Tournament of Kings about 2,000 (a thousand at each seating), no present-day medieval feast comes even close to approaching the enormity of some of the Middle Ages' heavy-hitters. We don't know exactly how many people attended the marriage feast of Henry III's daughter in 1251, but we do know that they gorged on 1,300 deer; 7,000 hens; 170 boars; 60,000 herring; and 68,500 loaves of bread. They ate off rectangular pieces of stale bread called "trenchers" (which were fed to dogs or peasants once the meal was finished)."

I found this article fascinating although I must admit I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at Medieval Times in Buena Vista, California. Of course I was far more interested in the jousting and display of horsemanship than the meal!

14 skulls found in a pit at Klallam Tribal Grave Yard

Peninsula Daily News: "LOWER ELWHA KLALLAM Tribal Chairwoman Frances G. Charles says a pit containing 14 human skulls has been uncovered at the graving yard site.

The discovery was made last week by archaeologists and tribal members working to complete an archaeological excavation at the waterfront property.

"The skulls were placed very carefully into a pit, and were all teenagers to young adults when buried,'' Charles said."

This article caught my attention because I had the pleasure of stopping by the new Klallam Tribal Center and Art Gallery on my way to Victoria a couple of weeks ago.

Gold Horse Trappings Unearthed in Bulgaria


The Star: A golden wreath, golden horse trappings and sword decorations were among the most impressive objects of the treasure uncovered in a vast Thracian tomb near the town of Shipka, 200 kilometers (120 miles) east of Sofia, Bulgaria. Georgi Kitov, the excavation team leader, said the stone-built tomb of three chambers dates back to the end of the 5th or the beginning of the 4th century B.C. The Thracians lived in what is now Bulgaria between 4,000 B.C. and the 8th century A.D., when they were assimilated by the invading Slavs.

Coffins shed light on technology of Ancient Greeks

Austrualia News Interactive: "THE discovery of two large limestone coffins dating back 3,000 years could indicate that the ancient Greeks may have been more technologically advanced than previously thought, an archaeologist said today.

Each of the coffins, also known as a sarcophagus, was found in Ancient Corinth and dates back to 900 to 875 BC - a period known as the early Geometric period.

The name derives from the art of the period, mostly found on pots, with its characteristically linear designs and dots and lines forming zigzags and angles.

Guy Sanders, in charge of the digs carried out by the American School of Classical Studies, said the enormous weight of each coffin - 3.33 tonnes and 1.8 tonnes - suggests the ancient Corinthians must have used a mechanical system to lower the sarcophagi into graves instead of sheer muscle power."

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Decrease in Solar Activity May Have Prompted Human Migration

"Bas van Geel, a biologist from the University of Amsterdam, believes that the Earth's climate took a dramatic turn about 2,800 years ago, due to a quiet period in the Sun's activity, making the tropics drier and the mid-latitudes colder and wetter. Previously damp areas, like parts of the Netherlands, became flooded and uninhabitable, while very dry, desert-like areas, such as southern Siberia, became viable places to live.

Teaming up with archaeologists has enabled van Geel to back up his theory by showing that many people were migrating at this time. Along with Dutch specialists, he has found that farming communities in west Friesland suffered increasing rainfall about 2,800 years ago. They resorted to building homes on artificial mounds, but eventually they were washed out of their farms and had to move to drier places. Meanwhile, work in Cameroon has shown that there was an arid crisis that started at about the same time. This dry patch caused some of the forest to die and savannahs to open up. These openings in the forest made it easier for people to move. Archaeological remains show that farming communities began to migrate inland.

Most recently he has worked with Russian archaeologists to show that, also about 2,800 years ago, the Scythian people took advantage of a wetter climate to explore east and west across the steppe landscapes that lie north of Mongolia. Prior to this, the land had been hostile semi-desert, but the extra moisture turned it into green, grassy steppes, enabling these nomadic tribes to travel towards both China and south-east Europe."

Unmasking Truth behind the Gold Face

Unmasking Truth behind the Gold Face: "A unique archeological finding of a solid gold mask near Kazanlak, Bulgaria has stirred the world and rocketed Bulgarian pride of its history to unknown heights.

The face with closed eyes and robust expression found in the outskirts of Shipka Peak, near the town of Kazanlak, is believed to belong to one of mightiest Thracian kings - Seutus III, whose ruling dates around V-IV century BC. According to its discoverer and head of the archeological expedition Georgi Kitov, the image outruns all its analogs found so far, as it is made of pure, solid gold weighing more than half a kilogram."

Bulgaria's Bronze King Sculptured by Phidias

Bulgaria's Bronze King Sculptured by Phidias?: "The ancient Greek sculptor Phidias might have created the unique bronze head of a Thracian ruler, recently found in Bulgaria.

The founder of the bronze head archaeologist Georgi Kitov said that Phidias might have scultured the head dated back to 5 century BC. Phidias is one of the greatest sculptors of ancient Greece some of greatest achievements were the Athena Parthenos at Athens and the Zeus in the temple of Olympia, both colossal figures of chryselephantine workmanship.

The bronze head of a Thracian ruler was discovered by a team of Bulgarian archeologists near the city of Shipka a few days ago. They say that the head might have been a part of a sculpture created in Athens for a Thracian king."

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Ancient Persian Santur Enjoys Modern Popularity

"The santur is an ancient instrument estimated to be more than 2,000 years old. It is thought to have originated in Persia, but is seen in Assyrian archaeological carvings dating from 660 B.C. The santur was brought to Europe by the Crusaders, where it evolved into the psaltery and the dulcimer, which enjoys popularity in folk music of North America, especially in the Appalachian tradition.

The trapezoid-shaped Persian santur has nine sets of quadruple strings made of bronze for the low register, and nine sets of quadruple strings made of steel for the high register, for a total of 72 strings. The strings are struck with light wooden mallets suspended by three fingers of each hand. The santur may be the only traditional Persian instrument that is not touched directly by the artist.

An 11th-century Persian poet, Manuchehri, compares the sound of the santur with melodic bird song."

Imagery of Prometheus Bound reflected in the crucifixion?

As I continue with my audio course on the "Age of Pericles" I was intrigued by an observation Professor McInerny made about the play "Prometheus Bound". He pointed out that Prometheus was made to suffer because by giving fire to mankind he not only made civilization possible but he made communication with the gods possible through the ritual burning of sacrificial victims (the smoke was deemed the medium of communication). If you consider the imagery of Prometheus' punishment, it actually almost parallels the imagery of the crucifixion. Prometheus, a divine being who is suffering for providing a conduit for humans to communicate with god(s) is "pinned" and an eagle tears open his right side to consume his liver.

I had heard lectures about Greek tragedies before that touched in this play but the point about the fire making it possible for man to create sacrificial smoke to communicate with the gods was never made.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Incas Destroyed Own Site Before Leaving

Incas Destroyed Own Site Before Leaving: "Incan pilgrims smashed and burned their own temple, and a tower containing a golden statue of a king, rather than let them fall into Spanish hands, says an Australian archaeologist.

Ian Farrington from Canberra's Australian National University is excavating the temple site in Peru with Julinho Zapata from the National University de San Antonio Abad del Cusco.

The site, called Pambokancha, is 30 kilometers (18.5 miles) from the Incan capital of Cusco.

Incas systematically smashed pottery and burnt offerings as part of closing ceremonies held before they left the area ahead of the Spaniards' arrival.

Archaeologists had found other sites that had closing ceremonies. But Farrington said this was the most extensive, with 70 to 80 buildings containing evidence of closing ceremonies.

The Incas took away items from the site before leaving the area, including some bodies from tombs, Farrington said."

Monday, September 20, 2004

British Museum to loan Cyrus Cylinder to Iran

The British Museum is lending the Cyrus Cylinder, an inscribed clay drum, that has been described as the "first charter of human rights" to Iran. Dating from 539 BC, it records Cyrus the Great's order for the humane treatment of the Babylonians after their conquest by the Persians. As BM director Neil MacGregor points out, the text has "powerful modern resonances in the context of current conflicts in the regionn."

The Cyrus Cylinder is to be lent to Tehran's National Museum for several months in 2006. The Iranian museum has also promised to send more than 50 antiquities for the BM's "Splendours of Ancient Persia" exhibition, which opens in September 2005.

Friday, September 17, 2004

MIT adds Myth, Ritual, and Symbolism to OpenCourseware Lineup

Myth, Ritual, and Symbolism I was very excited to see that MIT has started to add Anthropology courses to their OpenCourseware free offerings. For those of you that may not be aware of the initiative, MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) launched a project several years ago to place all course materials for all of their courses online for anyone interested in learning to use at no cost. Most of the courses to date have been engineering and science courses but now they are beginning to add some of their more liberal arts-type courses to the lineup.

As an ancient history enthusiast, I am particularly interested in the role of myth, ritual, and symbolism in the development of ancient cultures so I was excited to see Professor Howe's course on the subject list. Here's a short excerpt from Prof. Howe's introductory lecture notes:

"Previously, many explanations of human actions and thought in terms of environmental determinism. Why do people in Alps believe in witches?---thin mountain air. Why are people in Latin America or Indonesia inferior to us Europeans? Hot, unchanging climate. Climate doesn't challenge them like our temperate climate Montesquieu said Northerners were brave, vigorous, insensitive to pain, weakly sexed, intelligent, and drunkards. Another Frenchman of the Enlightenment said Northerners faithful, loyal to government, cruel, undersexed. Southerners malicious, crafty, wise, expert in science but bad in government. Another said northern languages have lots of consonants, because people afraid to open mouths and let in cold air. Sounds silly now, but was very common, still pops up. At other extreme, many things explained in terms of some basic traits common to all humans, so-called human nature, or else by traits thought to vary biologically from one population to another. Something innate. With development of racial and biological thinking was thought to be in our blood or genes. So caught between external nature, environment, or internal nature, heredity There was a vague sense that there was something in the middle, neither biologically nor environmentally determined, called custom / tradition / lifeway / mentality / habit / usos y costumbres. But vague. Then, 19th century, word culture adopted. Borrowed from art/music, expanded to encompass everything. Most often associated with early British anthro, Edward Tylor. Was a complex whole that humans carried with them and passed on non-biologically.

Learned, not biologically programmed. Varies independently of biology. People who look very different but share same culture, and vice-versa. Carried on by a chain of learning, though doesn't mean that consciously taught. Shared: has to be group, small or large. But carried on by individuals, in their heads. Wholly or partly mental. Includes ideas, values, assumptions, procedures, practices. This does not mean that the environment and our biological natures are thus irrelevant. They may affect culture in all sorts of ways. Been suggested that all herding peoples, because of way must care for, move, guard animals, value independent personalities, aren't big believers in witchcraft but often warlike, etc. Similarly, though people in two different societies may make facial expressions differently, there are pan-human constants in expressions, so how one smiles probably combination of "human nature" and cultural peculiarities. Still many debates on relative importance of different factors. But neither the environment nor biology works by itself, with nothing in between. Cultures are systems with integrity of own, those other factors are inputs into system."

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Archeologists Looking for Legendary Sassanid Town

Archeologists Looking for Legendary Sassanid Town: A fire temple has been uncovered by archaeologists near the town of Darbandian, 20 km away from Iran and the Turkmenistan border.

"Inside the fire temple, there is an inscription engraved in a neat Pahlavi script which gives an account of a nearby town, he added. While on the two sites, archeologists have unearthed a tower, possibly for ceremonial extinguishing of fire, and a foundry.

The Sassanids (226-651) consciously sought to resuscitate Iranian traditions and to obliterate Greek cultural influence. Their rule was characterized by considerable centralization, ambitious urban planning, agricultural development, and technological improvements."

Unknown script on Jiroft insignia points to literate Sumerian neighbors

"During two excavation seasons at Jiroft, archeologists have found around 25 insignias and seals, dating back from the 3rd millennium BC to 2,300 years BC," announced team leader Dr. Yusef Majidzadeh, an Iranian born archeologist now living in France.

The insignias have had trademarks of ancient northern, southern, eastern and western parts of Persia, indicating Jiroft had been a trade hub for the whole nation, he added.

"Some of the seals depict an impression of snakes, mostly associated with ancient Pakistan and Afghanistan, while others portray Mesopotamian champions or squatting women hailing from Susa," Dr. Majidzadeh noted.

Iranian archeologists have concluded that ancient Persians packaged their goods inside earthenware vessels and/or jugs and then covered the lid with mud and sealed it with special insignias.

During the last season of excavation in Jiroft, in the southwestern province of Kerman, experts unearthed an insignia, measuring 3 cm in length and 2 cm in width, with some intriguing letters engraved on it.

Many great Iranian and foreign experts see the findings in Jiroft as signs of a civilization as great as that of Sumeria and Mesopotamia. Majidzadeh believes that Jiroft is the ancient city of Aratt mentioned in an Iraqi clay inscription as a great civilization."

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Lapita Find Considered Pompeii of the Pacific

The Pacific's Pompeii: "For decades, researchers have tried to explain the cultural and physical differences of people across the Pacific. Some argue the Lapita people were ancestral Polynesians from Southeast Asia who migrated east, some groups settling long term on islands, while others carried on. They believe Lapita people were the ancestors of the inhabitants of eastern Melanesia who now look different because of later waves of migration.

So, when New Zealand archaeologist Dr Stuart Bedford was handed a large piece of ancient broken pottery in Vanuatu this year he thought it was a joke. It had been accidentally unearthed by a bulldozer driver who was working an area last year about 10 minutes' drive southeast of Port Vila. He also noticed a lot of shellfish, cooking stones, some human bones and other broken pottery.

Most excitingly, the site contained a burial area which held the skeletal remains of the Lapita people, the first inhabitants of Vanuatu, who subsequently went on to settle New Caledonia, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa.

The remains were well-preserved because of the island uplift and later volcanic eruptions, which buried the site with ash up to one metre in some places. It represented the oldest and most intact burial site discovered in the Pacific. "It is the first time group burials of this age have been associated with Lapita."

Coin Hoard from Dead Sea Studied

Pennies from heaven: Over 300,000 Pruta coins minted in the reign of the Hasmonean king Alexander Jannaeus (Yannai), who ruled from 104-76 BCE, were discovered in the shallows of the Dead Sea.

"The average weight of each coin in the hoard is less than a gram. There are larger coins weighing over 3 grams and tiny ones weighing a tenth of a gram. Most are relatively well preserved because they rested for over 2000 years on the floor of the Dead Sea, with its low-oxygen waters.

One side of the coin displays a ship's anchor surrounded by the Greek inscription 'King Alexander.' The anchor is a royal symbol of the Seleucid rulers (heirs of Alexander the Great), and Ariel believes that Jannaeus adopted it to give his coinage standard value. In his book 'A Treasury of Jewish Coins,' numismatist Yaakov Meshorer maintains that Alexander Jannaeus may also have wanted the anchor symbol to highlight the fact that he conquered the coastal towns in the Land of Israel, from Acre in the north to Gaza and Rafah in the south."

Bulgaria Sees New Thracian Treasure

Bulgaria Sees New Thracian Treasure: "A new Thracian treasure was unearthed in a highland tomb in Bulgaria.

A golden necklace and a pair of earrings were disclosed by Bulgarian archaeologists working the region near the city Kazanlak.

The Thracian tribes lived on the fringes of the Greek and Roman civilizations, often mixing and clashing with the more advanced cultures until they were absorbed around 45 AD.

Archaeologist Georgi Kitov, head of the team, pointed out that the precious jewellery dates back to the first half of the 4th century BC. The golden beads of the necklace are hollow and the weight just 20 grams."

Hero, Hawk and Open Hand Traveling Exhibit about Mississippian Culture to Open Nov 20

The Lost City of Cahokia: Ancient Tribes of the Mississippi Brought to Life: "Hero, Hawk and Open Hand: American Indian Art of the Ancient Midwest and South,' opening November 20 at The Art Institute of Chicago, is one of the largest showings of artifacts, design, and architecture dating from the rise and decline of Mississippian civilizations in the Midwest and the South between 2000 B.C.E and 1600 C.E.

The objects on display include ceremonial pipes sculptured in animal and human forms, conch shells engraved with ritualistic scenes, copper repoussé plates of rulers in full regalia, masks of shell and wood, embellished ceramic vessels and figural forms, finely worked stone implements, mica figures, and jewelry. Many of the works come from private collections and have never before been viewed widely.

Hero, hawk, and open hand refer to three recurrent motifs in native mythology regarding life, death, and renewal. Pipe effigies and fertility figures depict heroes, or legendary figures--often ancestors or mythical sources of life--who were also supernatural protectors and models for human leaders. Figures such as the hawk were connected with forces in nature and were believed to be linked to humans; dreams and ritual offerings made by shamans, hunters, and rulers maintained the cycles of society. The open hand is a sign in the Native American constellation associated with the passage of the soul from the realm of the living to that of the dead. Such cosmological forces were invoked by rituals and by aligning ceremonial sites to the paths of the sun or moon and the movements of constellations."

The exhibit travels to the St. Louis Art Museum in February 2005.

Achaemenid Settlement Discovered near Bam, Iran

Achaemenid Settlement Discovered near Bam: "Iranian archeologists have managed to discover some signs of Achaemenid settlements near the ancient southern city of Bam, almost completely ruined in a horrendous earthquake last December.

Archeological studies, including aerial photos and geophysical surveys, have revealed over the past few months some historical sites with relics ranging from the Achaemenid dynasty to the Islamic era, stretched on a 20-square-km patch of land, south of the Iranian capital city of Tehran.

'One of the major finds has been the foundations of a castle with an area of 400 square meters, surrounded with remains of some houses,' Shahryar Adle, an expert with the Bam project.

Based on pottery relics and Qanat irrigating system found in the Achaemenid settlement, he estimates the area has been an agricultural and industrial city, dating back to 6th or 7th millenniums BC."

Critics say Cleveland Museum of Art acquisition encourages looting

"Prominent archaeologists and other critics say the [Cleveland] museum [of Art] shouldn't have bought a hitherto-unknown ancient bronze sculpture of Apollo because its provenance, or ownership history, is riddled with gaps. They say purchases of such works encourage the looting of archaeological sites and the global market in smuggled artworks.

'Museums like the Cleveland Museum of Art are outrageous in their acquisition policies,' said Ricardo Elia, an associate professor of archaeology at Boston University and a prominent spokesman on the ethics of collecting antiquities."

Arrian's Anabasis of Alexander the Great

I just finished listening to Arrian's anabasis of Alexander the Great. It seemed as though after Alexander's men refused to go any farther in India, Alexander seemed to have developed a death wish. Even before he was critically wounded by the Mallians, Arrian reports how he exposed himself recklessly to enemy fire several times, standing alone on the top of a wall or high point, very obvious in his glittering armor. Arrian also mentioned that in one of his major engagements on his trip south to the Indian Ocean he charged into combat without waiting for his infantry to catch up with his cavalry, like he usually did. Even Arrian makes the comment that Alexander never would have been satisfied to simply govern. He loved the challenge that conquest always presented and overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Arrian also pointed out that neither of his sources, Ptolemy or Aristabulous, mentioned that Alexander said anything about his successor. Arrian surmises that the story of Alexander saying his kingdom would go "to the best man" was probably just made up by later writers. One of the Alexander biographies I read speculated that he started to indicate Krateros, whose name is very similar to the Greek words for "the best" or "the strongest" but I noticed that Arrian said Krateros was getting quite old at the time Alexander sent him back to Macedon. In fact, Alexander even sent another officer to take charge if Krateros did not survive the trip so this would seem to indicate Alexander would not have considered Krateros as capable of ruling the entire empire.

Arrian also seemed to discount the later stories about animosity between Alexander and Antipater. Alexander's main concern about Antipater was trying to keep Antipater and Olympias from each other's throats. Arrian also mentioned nothing about a physical relationship with Hephaistion. So is this another case of people reading things into references to their friendship like they do with Achilles and Patroklas? I was surprised when I listened to the complete unabridged Iliad and found nothing definitive there either about the much talked about relationship between Achilles and Patroklas.

I always thought Arrian is considered the most reliable account because he bases his narrative on the eyewitness accounts of Ptolemy son of Lagos and Aristabulous. I had always heard that the account given by Curtius Rufus was more akin to the likes of Suetonius' gossipy passages. However, maybe I should read Rufus as well to get additional perspective. (I have already read Mary Renault's trilogy and biography of Alexander and Howard Lamb's biography. I purchased Manfredi's and plan to start it soon).

Monday, September 13, 2004

3000 year-old pot found near Gansu

"Archaeologists in the northwestern province of Gansu discovered a 3,000-year-old pot with a design showing a scene of horse-pasturing in Minqin County recently.

The painted design shows a man herding eight horses. Some of these horses are bucking and some stand quietly; some have tails and some do not. All of the horses have large buttocks, slender waists and thin legs.

Surrounded by the eight horses, the wide-shouldered, slender-waisted man is in a long gown. His physique and dress are quite similar to those of ethnic people living in the horse-taming area,said Wang Haidong, Vice Chairman of the Gansu Provincial Painted Pottery Research Institute.

The pot, 22 centimeters high and 24 centimeters in diameter, has a pair of symmetrical handles on each side of its body and a sunken bottom.

It's body is painted with complicated pictures and images, and alternating black and red broken lines. "

Friday, August 27, 2004

Greek steriod: Sheep testicles

Greek steriod: Sheep testicles - The Times of India: "The ancient Greeks may not have had pharmaceuticals like steroids or the blood-boaster EPO at their disposal, but many were still determined to win at all costs.

There are several references in the history books to competitors consuming sheep's testicles, whose performance-enhancing qualities were thought to include boosting testosterone and providing a competitor with more strength.

Mixing the posion-cum-stimulant strychnine with wine was another favourite potion, although getting the proportions wrong could be fatal."

Il-Khanid Architectural Relics Found in Takht-e Suleiman

Iran: Il-Khanid Architectural Relics Found in Takht-e Suleiman: "The latest excavation in the northern gate of Takht-e Suleiman, an ancient Zoroastrian fire temple northwest of Iran, has revealed architectural relics dating back to the late Il-Khanid era (1256-1336).

Archaeological studies have shown that human settlements existed in the immediate region since at least the 1st millennium BC, with the earliest building remains upon the lake-mound from the Achaemenid culture (559-330 BC). During this period the fire temple of Adur Gushasp (Azargoshnasb) was first constructed and it became one of the greatest religious sanctuaries of Zoroastrianism, functioning through three dynasties (Achaemenid, Parthian, Sassanid) for nearly a thousand years."

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Splendid China closing a tragedy

Chinese temple scene5
Chinese temple scene5, originally uploaded by mharrsch.
Splendid China was a family theme park featuring more than 60 incredibly detailed replicas of China's most historic landmarks, including a half-mile long Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the modern archeological site of the Terra Cotta Warriors and dozens of other sites and scenes. Sadly, I read on its web site that it closed on December 31, 2003 because of the post 9/11 downturn in tourism.

I found the park fascinating despite the fact that it was 105 degrees the day I visited. I especially enjoyed walking through the 1/3 scale model of the excavation of the terracotta warriors.



For more photos see: Splendid China

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Archaeologists find skeletons of medieval monastery in Oslo Park

Archaeologists find skeletal treasure - (United Press International): "The unearthing of 44 skeletons at a public works project in an Oslo park has helped locate a 13th century monastery site in Norway.

Archeologists say the skeletons belonged to a Dominican monastery located in the area from 1240 until the Reformation in 1537.

The discovery of skeletons from women and young children mingled with the monk's remains came as a surprise. But it is not believed the celibate monks could somehow have had families."

Archaeologists find Sarmat artifacts in Orenburg region

Interfax > Politics: "Archaeologists have found household appliances and weapons of the Sarmat epoch (4th century BC) in the area of the Filippovsky burial mounds in the Orenburg region, a source in the Orenburg regional administration's culture department told Interfax.

The archaeologists found bronze items, including a boiler with animal-style handles, a brazier, mirrors and cosmetic vessels, Central Asian ceramic dishes, quivers, daggers and cuirass fragments. The origin of some finds is still unknown, the source said.

The expedition led by Doctor of History Leonid Yablonsky from the Russian Academy of Sciences' Archaeology Institute, also found medieval tombs in one of the mounds, the source said."

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

British Museum unveils major Sudan exhibit

I see archaeologists are once again in a race against time as they try to excavate a site in the Sudan that will be covered by water upon completion of Merowe Dam hydroelectric project:

British Museum unveils major Sudan exhibit: "Over the next few months the British Museum also will hold a series of talks about Sudan and will highlight Sudanese items from its permanent collection, including hand-woven baskets from the nomadic people of Darfur and quilted armor for cavalry and their horses. These presentations will accompany a new exhibition featuring hundreds of items loaned from the Sudan National Museum in Khartoum, ranging from a 200,000-year-old stone ax to delicate painted pottery and 18th-century swords.

Sudan's archaeological heritage has long been overshadowed by that of its neighbor, Egypt, which it once conquered. It also humiliated the Roman empire; among the artifacts in the museum's collection is a bronze head of a Roman emperor, stolen and buried by Sudanese tribesmen after a raid."

See also: Ancient Sudan: The Kingdom of Kush

Diggers find town on former sea bottom

Diggers find town on former sea bottom "Kazakh archaeologists have found a medieval town on the dried bottom of the Aral Sea, local media reported Tuesday.

The town, in the northeastern part of Aral, is covered with sand and bottom sediment. It could be Robat-Togan, a prosperous town that existed about 1,000 years ago, the Kazakh Nomad Web site said. Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a levee surrounding the town that fits a description of Robat-Togan.

The diggers also found the ruins of buildings, pottery, iron lamps and coins. Remains of people and domestic animals also were chaotically scattered around the town, as though a catastrophe caught people unawares."

Ancient Falconry

Firstscience.com - Ancient Falconry"Falconry has long been regarded as a noble sport, and it has a very ancient pedigree. According to traditional views, people first began to use tame birds of prey for hunting game in central Asia during the first or second millennium BC. Through trade and other contacts, the practice then extended westwards into the Middle East, and eventually to Europe.

But that theory raises a major puzzle. The first artistic views of falconry come not from the Far East, but from Turkey. Several carvings from around 1500 BC show a large bird on the fist of a human figure. Grasped in the same fist is the figure of a hare (presumably the quarry) held by the back legs.

Another, somewhat later, example has been found in northern Iraq. Dated to the period of King Sargon II (722-705 BC), this bas-relief depicts a small bird of prey on the wrist of a man. Significantly, this carving seems to show ‘jesses’ (leather thongs used to secure the bird to the human fist), tied to the bird’s feet and passing between the thumb and forefinger of the falconer. If so, it may indicate that falconry (and its paraphernalia) was well developed by the eighth century BC in the Middle East.

In both cases, some researchers have interpreted these carvings as purely religious or symbolic scenes. But if these examples do indeed depict hawking, then the sport is at least 3,500 years old in Western Eurasia."

I see there are also workshops to learn falconry:

http://www.italytuscania.com/falconry.htm

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Madison, Wisconsin hosts Trojan War Symposium

The Trojan War Symposium: "Three Thousand Years of the Trojan War in Myth and Art" will be the keynote address at The Trojan War: The Sources Behind the Scenes symposium to be held September 17 and 18 at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Keynote speaker, Jon Solomon, is the author of The Ancient World in the Cinema published in 2001. Other topics will include Achilles in Action: Battle in Homer and History, The Trojan War in Greek Art, Helen in Greek Literature: Conflicting Emotions and Conflicting Accounts, and Why Did Odysseus Fight the Trojan War?

Documentation of Behistun Inscription Nearly Complete

Documentation of Behistun Inscription Nearly Complete "Iranian surveyors are giving the finishing touches to the documentation process of Behistun inscription, which is damaged badly over the last decades west of Iran. The Behistun inscription (also Behistun, Bisutun, and Bisistun) is to cuneiform what the Rosetta Stone is to Egyptian hieroglyphs: the document most crucial in the decipherment of a previously lost script.

The inscription is approximately 15 meters high by 25 meters wide, and 100 meters up a cliff from an ancient road connecting the capitals of Babylonia and Media (Babylon and Ecbatana). It is extremely inaccessible as the mountainside was removed to make the inscription more visible after its completion. The text itself is a statement by Darius I of Persia, written three times in three different scripts and languages: two languages side by side, Old Persian and Elamite, and Akkadian above them.

“The documentation process was started in 1999 by a group of Iranian experts, who applied the photogrameteric method. In other words, they took 2 dimensional photos using two cameras and then transmuted them into 3-D pictures,” said Malieh Mehdiabadi, project manager."

See also: The Behistun Inscription

Friday, August 13, 2004

Iranian Archeologists to Explore Buried City of Parse

Iranian Archeologists to Explore Buried City of Parse"In a bid to scrutinize the 2,500-year-old city of Parse, the Achaemenids’ capital, Iranian archeologists are going to conduct geophysical surveys on a 400-hectare patch of the historical site, Iranian Cultural Heritage News Agency reported on Wednesday.

Dating from the Achaemenid era (559-330 BC), Parse consists of a thorough set of structures and relics, including Persepolis, palaces, fences and utility services. It is believed the city was built on the orders of Darius I in 518 BC. Parse in general and Persepolis in particular have been extensively excavated over the last century, though there are many unexplored areas in the site.

“Geophysical surveys will begin in a month in order to draw up a complete map of the city,” said Mohammad Hassan Talebian, head of Pasargadae and Parse project."

New finds debut at refurbished Kerameikos Museum

ekathimerini.com | New finds debut at Kerameikos: "The Kerameikos Museum, closed for refurbishment over the past year and a half, reopened on Monday, with a major new find forming the centerpiece of its new display.

The Kerameikos Kouros, unearthed in May 2002, is a striking, 2.10-meter statue of the Archaic era whose beauty, unaltered over 2,500 years, stunned the German archaeologists who found it.

Apart from the Kouros, the renovated museum houses more new finds, including a Sphinx found with it that dates to 560 BC, two funerary marble lion sculptures (the better preserved of the two dates to the sixth century BC) and fragments from a marble Ionic-style pillar and a Doric-style pillar."

Bones in Seville Not Those of Christopher Columbus

Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Young bones lay Columbus myth to rest: "A centuries-old historical row over the whereabouts of the body of Christopher Columbus appeared to have been solved yesterday when scientists in Spain conceded that the corpse buried at Seville's gothic Santa Maria cathedral was not that of the famous explorer."

Ancient Jacket Found to be Book Bag

Book bag reveals the education of ancient Scotland - The Herald: "ARCHAEOLOGISTS have made a remarkable 1400-year-old discovery which indicates early medieval Scots were better educated than their southern counterparts.

Re-examination of an ex-tremely rare leather artefact, originally thought to be a jacket and which was displayed in Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow for 40 years, has revealed that it was actually a book satchel."

US Army helps to restore ancient Ninevah

US Army helps to restore ancient Nineva"Two major historic sites in Mosul dating back to the 8th century B.C. are being restored with help from the 416th Civil Affairs Battalion.

Maj. Wayne Bowen, head of the 416th’s Higher Education and Antiquities Team, is working with Ninevah Director of Antiquities, Muzahim Mahmood, to facilitate restoration projects at the Nergal Gate and King Sennacheribe’s palace.

“The Nergal Gate is just one of 15 gates that surrounded the ancient Assyrian capitol of Ninevah, but we decided to focus on this one first because it was in the best condition,” Bowen explained.

The second project involves restoring the site of King Sennacheribe’s palace, which is strategically located high on a hill overlooking the Tigris River and was the seat of government in Ninevah during his reign in the early 8th century B.C."

Tombs of Achaemenids unearthed in south Lebanon

Tombs of Achaemenids unearthed in south Lebanon, more finds likely: "Archaeologists have unearthed 10 giant stone tombs belonging to the era of Achaemenid rule over Lebanon near the southern city of Saida.

As'ad Seif, an archaeologist, told IRNA that the tombs dated back to 500 BC. He added that the tombs had been located inside a cave, and that each five of them had been covered by two round stone plates.

Archaeologists have discovered a stone column and a capital in the shape of a cow, similar to those in Iran's ancient Persepolis stone complex, in excavations that have been so far carried out in central Beirut, Saida and Jubail in northern Lebanon. The column and the capital are believed to belong to the era of the Achaemenids."

3500-year-old Bronze Age temple discovered in Jordan

The Daily Star - Arts & Culture - 3500-year-old Bronze Age temple discovered in Jordan: "A 3,500 year old temple from the Late Bronze Age has been discovered at Tall al-Umayri just south of Amman.

The walls and cultic shrine of a temple dating from about 1,500 BC were uncovered at the end of July at the Bronze and Iron Age archaeological site by excavators working for the Madaba Plains Project and the Jordan Department of Antiquities.

Towering 3 meters above the heads of the excavators, the walls of the temple created four rooms. In the largest room, about 5 by 8 meters in size, was a whitewashed niche with a smooth, dome-shaped standing stone in the center flanked by four smaller stones, two on each side.

According to the excavators, the smooth stones of the niche are unlike any other stones at the site and probably represented deities in the ancient world. The large central stone likely indicates the main deity of the temple, while the four other stones suggest associated, but minor deities, perhaps the children of the main god.

The major deity of the region at that time was a god named Il (or El). It is the same word as the Arabic word for God, Allah. To an ancient, Il was the father of the gods, but, stress the excavators, "we do not know for certain who the standing stones represent or the beliefs associated with them."

Within the niche and above the stones to the right the excavators found several ceramic vessels, probably containing votive gifts for the gods."

Bulgarian Archaeologists find 3000-year-old Thracian script

: "Archaeologists exploring remains of a Bronze Age fortress in southern Bulgaria said Tuesday they found traces of primitive scripture supposed to have been used by Thracian tribes that once lived in that area."

Alexander the Great a Victim of West Nile Virus?

Discovery Channel :: News :: Alexander the Great's Death Debated: "two U.S. scientists, John Marr, epidemiologist at the Virginia department of health, and Charles Calisher of Colorado State University, argued that Alexander's death as recounted by Greek biographer Plutarch several centuries later showed that he had encephalitis from West Nile virus.

Marr and Calister lean on Plutharch's account of the deaths of a flock of ravens as Alexander entered Babylon.

"The inexplicable behavior of ravens is reminiscent of avian illness and death weeks before the first human cases of West Nile virus infection were identified in the United States. We posit that Alexander may have died of West Nile virus encephalitis," said Marr and Calisher.

David Oldach of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, said Plutarch never meant to write a history and that Marr and Calisher were "perhaps unaware of the magnitude of Plutarch's obsession with avian auguries."

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Many common sayings predate Shakespeare



As it turns out
, Shakespeare (who inhabited the Earth sometime after the ancient Greeks) is not the only source of some everyday expressions. A few that originated with the Greeks:

• Biting the dust: From Homer's The Iliad. Zeus is beseeched not to “let the sun go down” until the Trojans “(f)all headlong in the dust and bite the earth.” The English phrase “to bite the dust” is said to have originated in an 1870 translation.

I'm also listening to Arrian's "Anabasis of Alexander the Great" right now and I didn't realize that an ancient Persian saying was "Eat, drink, and "play" for nothing else in life is worth that."

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Mosaic Arts Draws From Ancient Tradition

Mosaic artist takes life one piece at a timeDust from centuries-old stones seems to have settled for good inside the crevices of Pippa Murray's hands.

As a mosaic artist, she has chiseled, cut, polished and set countless tiles and stones, from Greece to San Francisco and back again. Most recently, the 29-year-old finished an 800-square-foot mosaic floor for the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito. "The Gathering Place," as it is aptly called, serves as an outdoor meeting and performance venue for the museum's new "Lookout Cove," a 2.5-acre exhibition and children's playground inspired by the nearby San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean. An ode to Bay Area ecology and history, the permanent installation depicts a sun, an octopus and other sea life. Two years in the making, the piece was put together from stones from across the globe: Carrara marble from Italy, blue stone (flagstone) from New Hampshire as well as local finds.

Murray was born in Bloomington, Ind., and grew up in South Salem, N.Y. The daughter of an Irish mother and a father who is an English architectural and art historian, and professor at Columbia University, she studied visual arts and art history at Columbia, with an emphasis on sculpture and print making. Murray went on to earn a master's in classical archaeology from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, where she studied Greco-Roman mosaic technique and design.

Iranian Scholar says Sassanid Kings Deliberately Ignored Achaemenids’ Glory

"The Sassanid used to reign over Persia some 500 years after the demise of the Achaemenids, but they have not clearly mentioned about the latter in their inscriptions, while others such as ancient Greeks and Romans have detailed the victories and defeats of this colossal empire.

Now Dr. Iraj Darayee, a professor of history at UCLA, contends the Sassanids deliberately left Iran’s first rulers in oblivion to avoid being overshadowed by them. He rules out the theory postulated by other scholars who maintain the Sassanids lack a historical memory, noting, “They did have historical memory, but instead adopted a policy of silence and ignorance."

See also: Shapur I

Descendants of King Darius's steed found in Iran

"Celebrated in the ancient world as a chariot horse for racing and in battle, and presented to kings and emperors as a valuable gift, the caspian horse was thought to have disappeared in antiquity.

Drawings of the distinctive horse can be seen on 3,000-year-old terracotta plaques in the British Museum and on the seal of King Darius the Great from Persepolis in ancient Persia. They were probably used to pull chariots in the battle against Alexander the Great.

In 1965, a small but beautiful horse was discovered in a remote village in Iran on the shores of the Caspian Sea, being used to pull carts. Louise Firouz, an American who was married to one of the Shah of Iran's sons, bought it for her children to ride."

See also: The Caspian Horse Society

My search for a picture of a Caspian horse also led me to Mark Drury’s fascinating website on Achaemenid Persia

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

"Heroes of the Ancient Games" exhibit at the Walters

"Heroes of the Ancient Games" exhibit at the Walters"Statues, vases and other ancient art objects in the Ancient Greek Collection at the Walters Museum comprise a new exhibition, "Heroes of the Ancient Games," on display until September 26 in Baltimore, Maryland. Visitors may view stunning marble and bronze statues of athletes, some life-sized, some miniatures, depicting boxers, javelin throwers and wrestlers. Colorful ancient vases, which 2500 years ago would have been filled with precious olive oil, would have been awarded as prizes to athletes. There is even a bronze strigil, an instrument used to scrape oil and sand from athletes’ bodies after competitions.

Monday, July 26, 2004

200,000 Dollars Slated for Burnt City Development

.200,000 Dollars Slated for Burnt City Development: "Iranian Cultural Heritage Organization has earmarked over $200,000 to organize construction projects in the ancient Burnt City (Shahre-Sokhteh) located south of Zabol in the eastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan."

"The 5,000-years-old history of the Burnt City makes it one of the largest and most ancient sites in the Middle East. Various industrial and residential units, as well as cemeteries and monumental relics litter its 151 hectares of land."

"Experts had earlier estimated a thorough identification and documentation of an astounding 4 billion artifacts in the Burnt City would require some 400 years, at least. Archeologists have already managed to document and profile 102 villages of the sprawling city."

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

The importance of history education

An outstanding article about the importance of history education by Professor David Nicholls of Manchester Metropolitan University is in the current issue of History Today. An abstract:

"The first, and most important, answer lies in history's place at the forefront of the humane disciplines. Studying history provides an insight into human behaviour in the face of the universal experiences that confront mankind. An understanding of past events thereby assists towards a better and more informed understanding of present events, and current affairs are more comprehensible if something is known of their origins. George Santayana expressed this elegantly in his famous dictum: 'Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.' History enables students to investigate diverse evidence and interpretations and formulate conclusions. It helps shape identities – local, national, global. It gives a sense of place and time. It makes a vital contribution to a liberal, democratic society like our own by providing students with an understanding of the values that underpin such a society: citizenship, rights and duties, a sense of community, an appreciation of diversity and tolerance. Yet, as things currently stand, our children are denied this source of democratic oxygen precisely when it is most needed.


Secondly, history deserves special consideration in any national curriculum because it encompasses a wide range of sub-disciplines and provides a coherent medium and structure for introducing students to them. The practice of history requires the mobilisation of knowledge from many cognate branches of the arts and humanities including literature, cultural studies, geography, philosophy, sociology, politics, economics, religious studies, education, languages and media studies. And, of course, all disciplines – sciences as well as humanities – have their own history, knowledge of which illuminates their study. History is also a useful training ground for IT applications – not just word-processing but spreadsheets, databases and the internet. The pedagogic value of history to any structured curriculum is potentially enormous – offering as it does both an organising framework for, and pathways into, so many related areas. As such, history is truly 'the Queen' of the disciplines. This is not to say, however, that a case based on special pleading is strategically the best way forward. The reduced role of history is symptomatic of the broader need for a review of the national curriculum as a whole and the place of all subjects in it. In the coming debate on the Tomlinson proposals, the difficult task for historians will be to make common cause with colleagues from other disciplines for a more integrated and inclusive post-14 curriculum, while at the same time affirming the particular strengths and opportunities that history, because of its multidisciplinary demands, affords for organising and shaping it.


Finally, a history education furnishes its students with many life-skills. It is important to stress this in order to counteract a common prejudice that holds history to be at best a pleasant pastime, at worst a waste of curricular space that could be better devoted to 'something more useful'. 'More useful' in this context usually means something that will lead to a good job. In our utilitarian society, the value of an education is frequently equated with the opportunities it provides for well-remunerated employment, and history is not generally perceived as providing such opportunities. This is a misconception that needs to be challenged. The history curriculum has been radically re-shaped in recent years. The language of learning outcomes; of subject and generic, personal and transferable, skills, capabilities and competences; of personal development plans and records of achievement was virtually unknown a generation ago. Now, it informs the prose of all government policy documents on education from the Dearing report on schools to the benchmark statement that established the norms for curricular content in universities, while the attainment of such outcomes and skills is used as a measure of the quality and standards of provision."



He also makes a revealing statement about how conservative politics has impacted the history curriculum:



"The Conservative New Right wished to place British political and constitutional history, which had been the staple of history teaching for much of the twentieth century, at its heart. However, the rise of social history in the universities from the 1960s onwards had led to an interest in far less comfortable, much more contentious topics such as class and class conflict, feminism and multiculturalism, and to a greater emphasis on concepts and interpretations. These new developments had percolated to the schools and their influence could be seen in the Schools History Project and in the GCSE when it was introduced in 1986. The working group set up to advise Baker on the curriculum was instructed to restore British political history to its traditional place. However, it proved less than compliant, interpreting its remit very broadly. When it published its recommendations, topics like multi-culturalism were still present together with endorsement for the desirability of teaching different historical interpretations.

The state had let the genie out of the bottle and now hastily tried to summon it back. The prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, demanded that the report of the working group go out to further consultation, which resulted in a still greater focus on British history. The new Education Secretary, Kenneth Clarke, placed restrictions on the teaching of contemporary history on the grounds that it was not the job of history to teach 'current affairs'. His successor, John McGregor, announced in 1990 that history and geography would be optional at Key Stage 4. Geography, requiring fewer extended pieces of coursework, was perceived as less difficult and more pupils therefore chose it. As a result, Baker’s intended core role for history in the 14-16 national curriculum was shelved and, even at the peak of the popularity of GCSE history in the mid-nineties, only a little over one-third of Year 11 pupils was being entered for it.



The Labour government, when it came into office in 1997, continued in similar vein. In a speech made shortly before he became prime minister, Tony Blair had said: 'I think it is vitally important to study history. If we are going to lead Britain safely into the future, it is essential that we understand our country’s historical roots. If we can learn the lessons of the past, we will be able to avoid making mistakes in the future.’ Any expectations raised by this speech were quickly to be dashed. Such sentiment did not prevent his government pressing ahead with the implementation of the Dearing recommendations or with introducing the other damaging changes described earlier. Perhaps Labour’s unsympathetic attitude towards history was influenced by its determination to demonstrate its 'newness'. Integral to the image of New Labour created by its propagandists and spin-merchants was the need to break with the past, to discard old ideological baggage, to eradicate memories of 'Old Labour' and its electoral failures, internecine battles and association with trade union strikes and disruption.

A tension between professional and political control has therefore been at the root of the reduction of history's place in the curriculum. The arguments for its centrality to a humane education are, at one and the same time, the very reasons why the state would like to control what is taught and why historians are resistant to such interference. The government has sought to wrest control by exercising as much influence as possible over what remains of the shrinking history curriculum and by locating the teaching of humane values elsewhere. This has meant, on the one hand, yet more British history, on the other, classes in 'citizenship'. Curriculum 2000 specified 25% of GCSE to be devoted to British history and for a 'substantial element' at 'A' level; all this on top of a curriculum already heavily weighted to British history at Key Stages 1-3, raising issues of balance and progression. Curriculum 2000 also made citizenship a statutory part of a child's education, the content prescribed by the government. This is a more 'managed' way of delivering the message of rights, duties, and national identity than leaving it within the history syllabus where more subtle readings and potential contradictions might arise - for example, between 'Britishness' on the one hand and devolution and multi-culturalism on the other. A curriculum that prioritises 'Britishness' and 'citizenship' is far more conducive to the stability of the state than one that celebrates regional differences and ethnic and cultural diversity. Historians have the knowledge and experience to contribute to the teaching of citizenship, and understandably see it as a replacement for the work they have lost, but in itself it is no adequate substitute for a properly articulated, professionally determined history curriculum."

Although this article describes the influences on the British history curriculum, such influences have obviously taken a toll on the U.S. History curriculum as well. Although "Western Civilization" is still considered a core course for a liberal arts education in higher education, K-12 history exposure is primarily focused on U.S. history with a similar emphasis on the development of good citizenship, or should I say, "compliant" citizenship. In an increasingly globalized society, this promotion of fractious national centrism can only be detrimental to the long term ability of our peoples to understand each other, cooperate and collaborate on critical issues that will face our world in the years ahead.



Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Stargate director plans to resurrect King Tut

I see that Stargate director/producer Roland Emmerich is planning to begin filming "King Tut" next year.

..."the "action-adventure/love story revolves around the young pharaoh Tutankhamen and his attempt to reclaim his throne and save his country after the death of his father."

I loved the Egyptian-themed artwork that was developed for the original Stargate film so I am looking forward to the costume design for the new historical epic. I wonder if Emmerich is going to stick with the somewhat sketchy history of the Amarna period or if he will add in a dash of fantasy?

The image included here is a Stargate-inspired helm created by K. SIEGFRIED. His website includes many interesting Stargate links.

Newly discovered Minoan tombs yield weapons, jewelry and pottery

I noticed that there is a report that 50 more late Minoan tombs have been discovered near the town of Chania. Minoan burial practices varied widely over the course of their social development. Early cave burials gradually evolved to interment in "house" tombs. House tombs are grouped into two types, "Complexes consisting of a series of long and narrow parallel chambers within a single rectangular building or complexes consisting of a group of square and oblong "rooms" within a single building." Monumental tombs did not develop until the Middle Minoan period.

Of the tombs recently discovered, the oldest were of the Mycenaean type. "...certain variations of the Mycenaean tholos form are peculiar to Crete and hence appear to be purely Minoan versions of their Mainland Greek prototype. These variants include vaulted tombs with a square or rectangular rather than circular tomb chamber. Most of these tombs are also keel-vaulted rather than corbel-vaulted."

Monday, July 19, 2004

Amsterdam Hermitage Project Exhibits Greek Gold

"Bracelets, earrings, necklaces and spectacular golden wreaths dating back to the period between the 6th and the 2nd century BC, all related to the rich culture of funeral rituals in the various Greek colonies, that Russian archaeologists found during excavations in the 19th and 20th centuries in the present-day Crimea are part of an exhibit of Greek artifacts on display until August 24.

the jewelry is grouped by site based on its chronology, thus providing the spectators with a ready insight into the variety of Greek craftsmanship found in the various burial mounds.

Chains consisting of gold lotuses, rosettes and depictions of the river god Achelo?s were found in the burial mounds at Nymphaion and Pantikapeion.

Chains, for which the Greeks had seven different names, were worn tightly round the neck. Besides these chains, there are rings from Pantikapeion with images of Penelope and of a Persian, as well as two impressive gold bracelets with lion's heads."

Hi-tech Scots stand guard over herald of the gods

Hi-tech Scots stand guard over herald of the gods: "A team of Scottish experts led by Alistair Carty, technical director of Archaeoptics, a Glasgow-based 3D laser-scanning bureau, have used the latest computer technology to protect a priceless 2300-year-old Greek statue. Hermes of Praxiteles, the sole surviving work of one of classical Greece's finest sculptors, was threatened by earthquakes as it stood in the country's most important archaeological museum in Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic games.

However, pioneering work by computer experts from Glasgow, which involved scanning the statue, creating 3D models and pinpointing break lines, will now safeguard it from potentially catastrophic seismic activity."

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Sandrom Hill Yields More Burials in Third Excavation Season

Excavation Reveals Amorous Burial in Ancient Iran

The third season of the excavation at Sadrom Hill, one of Iran's most ancient cemeteries, has finally come to an end. The graveyard, located in the desert province of Qom, dates back to 3,500 years ago and is deemed as one of the most significant pre-historic cemeteries of Persia. Archeologists have already discovered so many graves and valuable antiquities there, mostly hailing from the Achaemenid period (559-330 B.C.).

This season, excavation leader Khosro Pourbakhshandeh noted, “We managed to discover the very first grave in which a man and woman were buried together, indicating their wish to have an amorous burial. In another grave, we found the remains of a suckling babe.”

The hill, mainly made of salt stones, is measured 192 meter in length and 115 in width and its height is just 6 meters. One of the tombs found there is strikingly similar to that of Cyrus the Great, founder of the Achaemenid Empire in Pasargadae.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Modern-Day Sisters of Queen Dido to Cross the Sea from Lebanon to Carthage

allAfrica.com: Tunisia: Modern-Day Sisters of Queen Dido to Cross the Sea from Lebanon to Carthage: "Women sailors from all-around the Mediterranean will embark upon a journey similar to that undertaken by Queen Dido-Elissa before founding the ancient city of Carthage in today's Tunisia.

Top professional as well as amateur women sailors, including four from Tunisia, will undertake the voyage from Tyre, Lebanon, by the end of August. The women sailors will spend 12 days, before reaching Carthage and Hammamet, on the northern shore of Tunisia.
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They will spend much less time in their journey than Queen Dido who founded the city of Carthage, in 814 BC, after a 7 year-journey across the sea."

Monday, July 12, 2004

Medicis Suffered From Rare Arthritis

Medicis' secret crypt exposed: "A long-rumoured secret crypt of Italy's mighty Medici family was discovered by scientists yesterday after a hunt reminiscent of an Indiana Jones movie.

The vaulted chamber was found under a stone floor behind the main altar of the Medici chapels in the church of San Lorenzo in Florence. Under the gaze of sculptures by Michelangelo and his pupils, researchers lifted a stone slab to find seven steps leading down to the entrance. According to Italian media reports, the hidden crypt is between 2.1 metres (7ft) and 2.4 metres high and six metres by at least four metres wide.

It was known that some of the Medici family's remains were moved from their original burial places in 1857. And, according to the early 20th-century British historian GF Young, the coffins of Gian Gastone and his grandfather had been moved to a secret crypt accessible only down hidden stairs. Until yesterday's discovery, his account had been dismissed as baseless rumour.

However, inside the crypt, there were another eight bodies, one of an adult and the remaining seven of children.

Most of the remains were in an advanced state of decomposition. But one of the children had been expertly embalmed and vestiges of clothing remained on the body.

Even before discovery of the crypt, the Medici Exhumation Project had yielded interesting results.

The researchers are already convinced that the family was not, as previously believed, afflicted with gout, but with a severe form of arthritis. Piero de' Medici, who ruled Florence from 1464 to 1469 and was known as Piero the Gouty, was so badly crippled that he was often able to use only his tongue. "

Friday, July 09, 2004

Sasanian Empire Subject of New Website

Sasanika: Home: "One of the most remarkable empires of the first millennium CE was that of the Sasanian Persian Empire. Emanating from southern Iran 's Persis region in the third century AD, the Sasanian domain eventually encompassed not only modern day Iran and Iraq , but also the greater part of Central Asia and the Near East , including at times, the regions corresponding to present-day Israel , Turkey , and Egypt .

This geographically diverse empire brought together a striking array ethnicities and religious practices. Arameans, Arabs, Armenians, Persians, Romans, Goths as well as a host of other peoples all lived and labored under Sasanian rule. "

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Remote Sensing plumbs the depth of Qin tomb

Modern technology helps survey imperial tomb: "Archaeologists at one of China's most significant archaeological sites are learning more by digging less.
Scientists prospecting the relics under the Mausoleum of the First Emperor of the Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC) are using advanced technology to protect buried relics.

With further development, remote sensing survey technology will play a more important role in research and investigation on the Qin tomb area. "

Monday, June 28, 2004

Ancient Village Ruins purchased by Utah

Ancient Indian settlements found in remote Utah: "Hidden deep inside Utah's nearly inaccessible Book Cliffs region, 130 miles from Salt Lake City, the prehistoric villages run for 12 miles and include hundreds of rock art panels, cliffside granaries, stone houses built halfway underground, rock shelters, and the mummified remains of long-ago inhabitants.
The site was occupied for at least 3,000 years until it was abandoned more than 1,000 years ago, when the Fremont people mysteriously vanished.
What sets this ancient site apart from other, better-known ones in Utah, Arizona or Colorado is that it has been left virtually untouched by looters, with the ground still littered with arrowheads, arrow shafts and pottery shards in places."

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Director of "Dawn of the Dead" tackles Thermopylae

I’m still waiting for a film version of Stephen Pressfield’s Gates of Fire that has supposedly been in the works for some time. Now I see another version of the classic battle is slated for production, The Thermopylae 300 "based on Frank Miller's graphic novel 300, with Dawn of the Dead director Zack Snyder signed on to direct."

Anime artist inspires Japanese interest in European history

I see that an Anime author has turned her interest in European art and history into a series of stories in popular manga anthology magazines:

"Aoike Yasuko has continued a long and productive career in the pages of PRINCESS, a highly popular girl's manga anthology magazine. But her work is so popular that she is at present concurrently publishing stories in several magazines. She is the creator of Miriam Blue's Lake, Sons of Eve, Seven Seas, Seven Skies, The Castle, Ivy Navy, Trafalgar, Z, Der Freischutz, Alcasar, The Tale of a Priest and a Doctor, The Day of Saladin, Richard, the Lion-Hearted, Brother Falco, The Temptation of Scarlet, The Carthaginian Fantasy, The Melancholy of Her Majesty, The Knight of Drachen, and Plus Ultra."