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."

Bactrian Gold still intact

A Hoard of Gold That Afghanistan Quietly Saved: "what is known as the Bactrian gold -- 20,600 pieces of gold jewelry, funeral ornaments and personal belongings from 2,000-year-old burial mounds -- has emerged from hiding intact, a shimmering example of the heights scaled by ancient Afghan culture.

There are thousands of small slivers of appliqué ornaments that decorated the funeral garments of the five women and one man found in the tombs, along with gold headdresses and richly worked pendants, dagger and sword hilts and scabbards carved with jewel-encrusted beasts. There are also belts, buckles, signet rings, an ornamental tree of gold and pearls, and even gold sandals.

They come from a site known to the local Afghans as Tela Tapa, or Mound of Gold, on a dusty plain in northern Afghanistan that runs from the northern foothills of the Hindu Kush mountains down to the ancient Oxus river, now known as the Amu. The burial mound, not far from the modern town of Shiberghan, was probably a family cemetery belonging to rulers of one of the Kushan princedoms of the first century A.D."

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Turning the Pages

Turning the Pages: Peter Williams, a fellow blogger who, as a member of the Association of Roman Archaeology, also produces a web log on the topic, recently mentioned a fascinating new project by the British Library called Turning Pages.

"Turning the Pages is the award-winning interactive program that allows museums and libraries to give members of the public access to precious books while keeping the originals safely under glass. Initially developed by and for the British Library, it is now available as a service for institutions and private collectors around the world.

Turning the Pages allows visitors to virtually 'turn' the pages of manuscripts in a realistic way, using touch-screen technology and interactive animation. They can zoom in on the high- quality digitised images and read or listen to notes explaining the beauty and significance of each page. There are other features specific to the individual manuscripts. In a Leonardo da Vinci notebook, for example, a button turns the text round so visitors can read his famous 'mirror' handwriting."

I particularly enjoyed the detailed depictions of medieval life in the LUTTRELL PSALTER and the beautifully illustrated 14th century Hebrew manuscript, GOLDEN HAGGADAH.

The other day a friend and I were discussing the distressing trend of sparse illustration, especially in academic texts, and pondered whether this a result of simple economics or a growing cultural concern with "appropriate" images and various censorship movements.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Evidence of ancient complex machines in China

New Scientist: "Distinctive spiral patterns carved into a small jade ring show that China was using complex machines more than 2500 years ago, says a Harvard graduate student in physics.

The spiral-patterned ring is 27 millimetres in diameter and was probably a body ornament (Image: Science)
The ring was among the goods found in high-status graves from China's 'Spring and Autumn Period' from 771 to 475 BC. Most archaeological attention has focused on larger and more spectacular jade and bronze artifacts. But Peter Lu identified the patterns on the small rings as Archimedes' spirals, which he believes are the oldest evidence of compound machines.
Simple machines that move in only one way date back at least 5000 years, to the invention of the potter's wheel. But it took much longer to invent compound machines, which precisely convert motion from one kind into another.
Archimedes is sometimes credited with building an undescribed compound machine to move ships in the harbour of Syracuse in the third century BC, but the earliest well-accepted descriptions were by Hero of Alexandria in the first century AD."

Heart of Louis XVII gets royal funeral

CNN.com - 200-year-old heart gets royal funeral - Jun 9, 2004: "A hearse brimming with lilies -- the symbol of the French crown -- delivered a crystal vase containing the heart to the Saint-Denis Basilica. There, it was placed in a royal crypt containing the remains of Louis XVII's parents, Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI.

After two centuries of mystery surrounding the boy's fate, DNA tests have convinced many historians that the relic passed secretly from person to person was truly the royal heart."

Orpheus Grave Mystery Unveiled in Bulgaria

Orpheus Grave Mystery Unveiled in Bulgaria: "An archaeological expedition led by prominent Bulgarian Professor Nikolay Ovcharov unveiled the mystery of the excellently preserved Thracian temple in the region of Tatul village.

Though most of the archaeologists in the expedition assume that the Thracian temple was dedicated to the mythical Orpheus, there are still some suggestions that that it might have been built in honour of a Thracian king."

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Young Alexander is coming

"The success of Ridley Scott's Epic 'Gladiator' and Wolfgang Petersons recently released 'Troy' seems to have triggered a series of initiatives in Hollywood circles to put Swords and Sandals films at the top of the Box Office entries for the next two years. The latest of such films is an Egyptian, Greek and British co-production entitled 'Young Alexander' directed by Lebanese director Jalal Mehri.

The Story tells the coming of age of young Alexander ( Sam Heughan), future world conqueror, from his boyhood in Greece to his assumption of Regent of the Land, after proving his worth to his father, the demanding King Phillip. "