Monday, January 31, 2005

Gilgamesh Tomb Believed Found

Gilgamesh Tomb Believed Found: "Archaeologists in Iraq believe they may have found the lost tomb of King Gilgamesh - the subject of the oldest 'book' in history.

The Epic Of Gilgamesh - written by a Middle Eastern scholar 2,500 years before the birth of Christ - commemorated the life of the ruler of the city of Uruk, from which Iraq gets its name.

Now, a German-led expedition has discovered what is thought to be the entire city of Uruk - including, where the Euphrates once flowed, the last resting place of its famous King.

'I don't want to say definitely it was the grave of King Gilgamesh, but it looks very similar to that described in the epic,' Jorg Fassbinder, of the Bavarian department of Historical Monuments in Munich.

Gilgamesh was described as having been buried under the Euphrates, in a tomb apparently constructed when the waters of the ancient river parted following his death.

"We found just outside the city an area in the middle of the former Euphrates river? the remains of such a building which could be interpreted as a burial," Mr Fassbinder said.

We have found garden structures and field structures as described in the epic, and we found Babylonian houses."

But he said the most astonishing find was an incredibly sophisticated system of canals.

"Very clearly, we can see in the canals some structures showing that flooding destroyed some houses, which means it was a highly developed system."

Archaeologists find 'Russian Stonehenge'

Archaeologists find 'Russian Stonehenge': "Russian archaeologists have found the site of a 4,000-year-old concentric wooden structure resembling Britain's Stonehenge. Evidence of the structure was found near Ryazan southeast of Moscow at the confluence of the Oka and Pronya rivers.

The area long known for its archaeological treasures was settled by tribes migrating from Eurasia thousands of years ago. A number of archaeological items found at the site have been dated by Bronze Age experts to the third millennium B.C., according to Ilha Ahmedov of Moscow's State History Museum."

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Warrior Tells Tales Of Greeks

Edgware Times): "A Whetstone man with a passion for ancient Greece has produced a history magazine for Barnet's schoolchildren.

George Georgiou, of Tudor Grove, Whetstone, has become well-known to pupils in the borough for teaching ancient history dressed as a Greek warrior, and has now put together a history magazine on the period.

The booklet has already been distributed to half-a-dozen schools in Barnet, and covers Greek mythology, and Greek and Cypriot history."

The Hoplite

The Hoplite" The Hoplite is a unique living history group dedicated to recreating the life and times of the Ancient Greek military in the Classical period between 490 and 430 bc, both in battle and at rest. As well as attending re-enactment events when we display skill at arms and specific aspects of warfare during this period, the group also involves itself in educational shows and historical displays. Activities range from the drill, discipline and manoeuvre of a Hoplite phalanx, demonstrations of the different types of infantry seen at this period and providing an interesting insight into the civilian life of the "citizen" soldier. We also have an active group of mercenary Scythian archers and positively encourage members to recreate any of the combatants that would be found fighting for a city-state during this period."

This group is not to be confused with The Hoplite Association.

"Based in the UK, the Hoplite Association was formed in 2001 as the first reenactment society in the world solely dedicated to recreating the life and experiences of the classical Greek."

This association also maintains a sister site at http://www.4hoplites.com

Friday, January 21, 2005

32 Sassanid Kings Had 100 Types of Crowns

Payvand"Studies on Sassanid remains and works show there has been over 100 types of crown in this era. The various Sassanid crowns demonstrate the cultural, economic, social, and historical situation in each period. The crowns also show the character traits of each king in this era", Yousef Moradi, Sassanid era expert responsible for Sassanid area in Kermanshah, western Iran, told CHN.

There are different symbols and signs on the crowns of Sassanid kings including the moon, stars, eagle, and palm that show their religious faith and beliefs, said Moradi."

Ancient Accounting Development spurs Human Cognitive Evolution?

RedNova News: "Recent archaeological evidence supports the claim that the first system of writing and the first use of abstract numerical representation evolved from the clay token accounting system of ancient Mesopotamia. Writing and other abstract symbol systems have subsequently transformed human cognitive capacities within only few millennia, a time period too short for any substantial changes in our biologically-evolved brains. This paper uses Merlin Donald's theory of human cognitive and cultural evolution [in Origins of the Modern Mind; 1991] to identify the role played by ancient accounting in these evolutionary processes. Specifically, it is argued that this early accounting system paved the way for writing by instigating revolutionary cognitive structures for processing visual/ symbolic artifacts and establishing a primitive but very powerful form of external memory (external to the brain). The paper also explores the role that accounting systems continue to play in the provision of 'cognitive scaffolding' with respect to our organizational and institutional environments, and provides a cursory overview of the pioneering developments of ancient Mesopotamien accounting in this regard."

Sub-surface data to be used to build virtual model of Tiwanaku

UPM: "University of Pennsylvania Museum archaeologists working at the renowned ancient site of Tiwanaku in Bolivia--a site sometimes called the 'American Stonehenge'--have joined forces with a team of engineers, mathematicians, computer scientists and anthropologists from the University of Pennsylvania's Department of Computer and Information Science, School of Engineering, the Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies, University of Arkansas, and the Department of Anthropology, University of Denver, to begin a large-scale, subsurface surveying project using equipment and techniques that may one day serve as a model for future archaeological efforts worldwide.

"The problem," noted Dr. Alexei Vranich, "has recently been a kind of 'technological bottleneck,' where large areas are surveyed, but efforts at processing and fusing the data from multiple sensors has slowed the process down considerably. By bringing this level of technological and computer expertise to bear, we should be able to develop a methodology for quickly and efficiently processing the huge amounts of sub-surface data we collect. This will permit archaeologists to develop a far deeper understanding of broad spatial layouts of complex urban sites, like Tiwanaku."

"Our collaboration with anthropologists goes back to two years ago when we started building 3D models of surface structures from camera images," noted Dr. Kostas Daniilidis, leading Principal Investigator and Associate Professor, Department of Computer and Information Science, University of Pennsylvania. "The scientific challenge in this NSF project is in solving the inverse problem of recovering surface 3D structures from their tomographic projections. We really want to resolve the bottleneck between the huge amount of raw signal data and meaningful information in the form of 3D geometric models."

Parthian and Sassanid sites discovered in northwestern Iran

Mehr NewsA joint Iranian and foreign research team has recently discovered four huge historical sites dating back to the Parthian and Sassanid eras at the Moghan Plateau in Ardebil Province.

The director of the team, Karim Alizadeh, said ?The historical sites were surrounded by canals used to irrigate the agricultural lands and protect the area as well."

He went on to say that preliminary findings indicate that the sites were from the Parthian (250 B.C.-226 C.E.) and Sassanid (226?651 C.E.) eras, proving that the Moghan Plateau was a very important farming area.

"The sites and the discovered artifacts reveal the fact that these newly discovered sites have many affinities with those in Khuzestan and the Mesopotamian area. They show that the Sassanids had organized systematic and developed agricultural activities throughout the country, but for some unknown reasons they were later neglected," Alizadeh observed.

Last Templar Grand Master in Hertford, UK?

Guardian : "Officially, the Templars don't exist, having been driven underground by the pope more than 600 years ago; in The Da Vinci Code, they are described as inhabiting 'a precarious world where fact, lore and misinformation had become so intertwined that extracting a pristine truth was almost impossible'. Nobody even seems to agree on what the Holy Grail is: some say it is the cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper; others that it was used to collect his blood at the crucifixion. Needless to say, the Templars haven't been too eager to clarify any of this publicly.

Then, late last year, the group apparently made an unprecedented communication with the outside world. It emerged that the Templars were demanding an official apology from the Vatican, for having persecuted them in the 14th century - and that the Vatican was giving 'serious consideration' to the matter. The demand came in a letter, signed on behalf of the grand master of the Templars. And for the conspiracy theorists who have pursued the knights for centuries, it was accompanied by a tantalising clue: an address. In Hertford."

Persepolis Erosion Under Study - Persian Journal Latest Iran news & Iranian Article News paper

Persian Journal: "Founded by Darius I in 518 B.C., Persepolis was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire. It was built on an immense half-artificial, half-natural terrace, where the king of kings created an impressive palace complex inspired by Mesopotamian models. The importance and quality of the monumental ruins make it a unique archaeological site.

But, the steps to the Apadana entrance and the doorway to the 2500-year-old palaces in Persepolis have been eroded by 1 to 2 mm.

The erosion in the world heritage site of Persepolis has made the experts so anxious that they have begun a special study of the Achaemenid capital to find out about the reasons of the erosion of bas relieves and the other parts of this ancient site."

3rd century BCE village reveals early commerical wine production

Haaretz - Israel News: "A farmhouse, built in the third century BCE and surrounded by five wine presses, has been discovered on land between what today is Moshav Gan Sorek and the Tel Aviv-Ashdod highway.

The house had a few wings and an area of about 1,230 square meters (13,200 square feet). The quantities of wine produced in the five presses was more than required by those who lived there, meaning that the farm residents earned their livelihood from producing wine in commercial quantities. The wine apparently was produced for export and was shipped to Mediterranean countries via the nearby port at Yavne Yam (today Kibbutz Palmahim).

The village and the farmhouse were built during the Hellenistic period, when sovereignty over the Land of Israel shifted from the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt, to the Seleucids, whose center of power was in Syria. Buildings in both the village and the farm were made of mud bricks, used on stone foundations from the previous Persian era (fourth century BCE). Some of the walls were preserved to a height of about one meter, even though the bricks were merely sun-dried, with limited durability when exposed to water and humidity.

Among the artifacts found at the site were handles of jugs bearing inscriptions from Rhodes, leading Ed to the conclusion that the residents imported fine wines from that Greek island. There were also pottery lamps, decorated bowls and plates imported from Greece, stoneware from Egypt, 300 coins, some of them silver, which originated in the region that is now Lebanon, Greece and Turkey, arrows, bronze make-up implements and needles, and iron agricultural tools such as a scythe and a pruning shears. "

King Tut at the center of another controversy

Al-Ahram Weekly: "When the Ministry of Culture and the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) launched a five-year project to examine and study all Ancient Egyptian mummies by means of CT scanning in order to ascertain how they can be best conserved, the idea was applauded.

Eleven mummies in the Egyptian Museum were scanned. However, when it came to the turn of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun, some archaeologists and scientists were none too happy. While the project's supporters saw it as a revolutionary endeavour to resolve the mystery surrounding the early death of Tutankhamun, its opponents suggested it was more of a media circus than pure science. A media campaign launched to question the usefulness of the procedure and its results accused the Egyptian mission who carried out the CT scan of being unprofessional, ambiguous, reckless and impatient to implement its attempt.

What triggered the controversy was the sudden withdrawal -- a week before Tutankhamun's scanning -- of orthopaedist professor Saleh Bedeir, who was leading the scientific team, and his statement regarding Tutankhamun's computed tomography.

'What has been done by the Luxor Night Campaign [the scientific mission] is another zero to add to the group of zeros we have obtained already,' Bedeir told Al- Ahram Weekly in a telephone interview.

He accused the team of being unethical in implementing their forensic examination, as well as disregarding the use of scientific procedures while removing the fragile mummy from its golden sarcophagus. This, he said, put the mummy under real threat of contamination, decomposition and deterioration."

Shrine to Hercules unearthed

ekathimerini.com "an archaeological site dubbed "Hercules? House" - the place, experts say, that the ancient Greeks may have held to be the mythological hero?s birthplace, has yielded the remains of an altar and ancient dwellings used for more than 3,000 years.

Vassilis Aravantinos, head of the regional archaeological service, said finds on the site tally with descriptions by the poet Pindar some 2,500 years ago of a shrine to Hercules built on his legendary birthplace.

'We had waited for many years for this discovery but it never came... These findings support the ancient writings," Aravantinos said. "There are signs of worship of Hercules."

Small bronze figures, including one showing Hercules grappling with a lion, are a key piece of evidence.

With most of the 335-square-meter site explored, archaeologists have recovered several hundred ceramic vessels, small bronze statues, animal bones, and a thick layer of ash created from burning animals sacrificed to the gods."

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Greeks defend ancient nudes from TV prudes

Herald Sun: "US viewers' complaints that the Athens Olympics opening ceremony featured lewd nudity have infuriated 2004 Games chief Gianna Angelopoulos.

She has warned American regulators to back off from policing ancient Greek culture.

"Greece does not wish to be drawn into an American culture war. Yet that is exactly what is happening," she said.

Complaints focused on a parade of actors portraying naked statues.

Among them were the satyr and the nude male statues, kouroi, both emblems of ancient Greece's golden age.

"As Americans surely are aware, there is great hostility in the world today to cultural domination in which a single value system created elsewhere diminishes and degrades local cultures," she said in her commentary.

"In this context, it is astonishingly unwise for an agency of the US government to engage in an investigation that could label a presentation of the Greek origins of civilisation as unfit for television viewing."

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Stone admits to letting Alexander down

I noticed the post to rogueclassicist's blog about an interview with Oliver Stone and his reaction to the storm of criticism that has followed the release of "Alexander". Although Stone is claiming he made a mistake with that film, the explanation he gives is still casting blame on a public looking for "black and white" heroes. He still does not seem to recognize the fact that he failed to explore Alexander's genius as well as his shortcomings in the film and did not depict Alexander's motivations sufficiently to give the film a recognizable theme.

Telegraph : "suggest that the American audience, embroiled in its war on terror, perhaps wanted to see a swashbuckling hero on screen. They did not empathise with Stone's depiction of a tortured soul. They might have dealt more easily with a graphic sex scene than with the smouldering desire and the longing looks that Stone staged between the two men.

Stone warms to the idea. 'Young boys, they wanted a warrior and nothing else. They did not want to see a man with vulnerabilities.' He ponders for a moment. 'It has a lot to do with the war in Iraq,' he says finally. 'There is something very strange going on in this country at the moment. It is like the whole value system has gone awry. We want only clearly defined heroes and villains, no subtleties in between.'

Stone, it seems, has been a victim of fate. And not for the first time. The man whose anti-war Born on the Fourth of July was released on the day America invaded Panama, now finds that, when he makes a film depicting a thoughtful, some would say too hesitant, leader, it is released when America most wants vindication for its war in Iraq.

Stone shrugs: 'I can't help the timing of wars.' "

Artifacts from Phung Nguyen Culture Unearthed in Vietnam

: "Archaeologists have unearthed a quantity of antique pottery and items made of turquoise and gemstones believed to belong to the Phung Nguyen Culture (Early Bronze Age) of about 2000-1500 BC, in Gia Thanh commune, Phu Ninh district, northern Phu Tho province.

These antiques included tens of thousands of pottery pieces with different decorative designs, and nearly 100 items made of turquoise and gemstones such as rings, earrings, axes and chisels.

In addition, the archaeologists also found several pots, jars and large wooden compotes decorated with unusual patterns."