Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ancient Egyptians' (and others') math puzzlers

Ancient Egyptian Math puzzles
From NY Times, description of some cool ancient texts with math puzzles, such as how much bread (made from a certain amount of grain) should be exchanged for a given amount of beer (made with another amount of grain). Also, word problems about slaves carrying logs, the height of a ship's mast, and sacred cats chasing mice.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Italian Fashion House Gets Involved in Monument Preservation

Italian Shoe Magnate to Fund Colosseum Restoration
The CEO of "Tod's," an Italian designer house, has agreed to fund the badly-needed shoring-up of the Colosseum. The Italian government put out a call for sponsors, but none came forward for a while. The mayor of Rome promises no giant shoe ads on the outside of the monument. We'll see.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Michelangelo's David on the Roof on the Cathedral?

Michelangelo's David As It Was Meant To Be Seen
An exhibition in Florence this week is placing a fiberglass replica of Michelangelo's "David" in a variety of places around town--all the places where 16th-century people suggested it be placed. The original location was supposed to be the rooftop of the cathedral. See a picture of that wacky sight at the above link from

Monday, November 15, 2010

Top Words of 2010

Top Words of 2010 include "spillcam" and "Vuvuzela"
Statistics show...most common words in the news in 2010 included "spillcam" (that live shot CNN kept showing of the oil gushing into the Gulf) and "vuvuzela" (the horrible wasp-like noisemaker from the World Cup). Some non-words made the list, like SP's "refudiate" and Jersey Shore's "Guidette" (feminine of "Guido"). Other words on the list are pretty predictable--Lady Gaga, Tea Party, and iPad.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

AP Italian Lives!

College Board saves AP Italian test
First they tried to hold it hostage for $1.5 million. This was in the same episode where they killed AP Latin Literature (not Vergil).

Monday, November 8, 2010

Interview from Biblical Archaeology Review

Jesus of History vs. Jesus of Tradition
Hershel Shanks interviews Professor Sean Freyne of Trinity College Dublin about what he's learned from archaeology about the historicity of Jesus. If you can ignore Hershel's sometimes goofy questions, Professor Freyne gives some very interesting answers. Hang on until the part of the interview around the little map illustration, and you'll find some cool information about recent discoveries in the towns of Galilee. Not the last word on anything, but an exciting area of ongoing investigation.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dinosaur Skull Found in Church : Discovery News

Dinosaur Skull Found in Church : Discovery News
No. it hadn't been mistaken for a saint's bone or some sort of holy relic. It's a fossil embedded in the colored marble used to build the church. Very cool, if true.

Pompeii's Mystery Horse is a Donkey

Pompeii's Mystery Horse is a Donkey
(The link above is supposed to be a "permalink." We'll see about that.)
So...DNA of a supposedly extinct breed of horse thought to have been found at not. Seems the lab mixed horse DNA with donkey DNA, producing the illusion of an exciting new hybrid. But it's just a donkey. There's still something interesting, if you know your donkey breeds and their history.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

King Tut killed by hippo?

King Tut killed by hippo?
This is apparently not a new theory, but new to me. Seems fuzzy, but would be hilarious, especially for CLC fans!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Even Stone Age homes were painted

Even Stone Age homes were painted
(Ah-ha! I knew I was doing it wrong. I think I am now creating links more automatically, rather than cutting and pasting URLs. Mayb this will work.)

The ongoing project of excavating in the Orkney Islands has discovered some stones with pigment decorating them in definite designs (not a natural coloration of the rock). I can't tell from the article if it's the alleged "temple" or the homes that contained the painted rocks. I think the headline writer may be jumping to conclusions about "homes." Anyway, these things are 5000 years old, so they are the earliest known painted structures in Britain. Cool.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Black Death (too late for Halloween)

Geneticists get in on the act: they trace the genetic history of Yersinia pestis, the bug that causes bubonic plague, and find out that 1) the 14th-century "Black Death" plague in Europe was, indeed, Yersinia pestis (a fact which some have disputed, claiming that maybe it was anthrax)...and 2) all three major waves of plague (Justinian's 6th century AD, the 14th-cent. Black Death, and the Hong Kong outbreak in the late 19th century) originated in China, which seems to be the homeland of Yersinia pestis.
I have a great book about Mr. Yersin, who first isolated the bug in Hong Kong in the 1890s.
"Plague: A Story of Science, Rivalry, and the Scourge that Won't Go Away," by Edward Marriott (NY: Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt, 2002)

Ozzy's ancestors at Pompeii

Ozzy Osbourne has taken a DNA test, which reveals several things about his ancestry. One seems to be that his ancestors may have survived Vesuvius. Ozzy remarks that lava is nothing compared to other things he's done to his body.
And, just in case you've forgotten, you can hear a band of Estonians perform Black Sabbath songs in Latin:

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Vargas Llosa teaches seminar on Borges

A dream course: one famous writer teaches the work of another, and then wins the Nobel Prize during the semester. Caveats: you have to go to Princeton and you have to be able to follow his lectures in Spanish.
(When I was an undergraduate, Borges was still alive--barely--and he came to Austin for a brief visit. A Spanish grad student in my French class got to serve him tea at a reception. I was not invited.)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Giant Mosaic in Jericho (that you can't see)

An 8th-century CE Islamic palace in Jericho had a bath house with a mosaic floor that measured over 9000 square feet. This floor was uncovered by archaeologists in the 1930s, but has been covered up again for most of the years since then, to protect it. No one can come up with the $2 million it would cost to put a roof over it to make a proper display. A part of it was recently uncovered and put on display for one week, as part of a celebration of Jericho's supposed (and kind of arbitrary) 10,000th anniversary.
In this article, you can see a pretty good closeup picture of the mosaic:
In this one, from an Israeli source, you can learn about the problem of displaying it:
And in this one, from the BBC, you can see a video of the site:

Friday, October 29, 2010

12 Archaeological Sites in Danger of Disappearing

Some of these are in danger because they are, well, off the beaten track (e.g., the one in Armenia). Most of these are spectacular sites; it is good to get a look at them. The list has been made by the Global Heritage Fund ( National Geographic has posted pictures of the sites:

Archaeologist dies of injuries

Ehud Netzer has died of injuries he suffered after a fall at Herodion, the site he excavated. He also worked at Masada. This is an obituary for him:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mount Garbage threatens Mount Vesuvius

Apparently Berlusconi is even worse at collecting the garbage than the Mafia used to be. Now the giant new dump he opened near Boscoreale is encroaching on the supposed park around the volcano.

Archaeologist injured in fall at Herodion in Israel

This is sad. Ehud Netzer, who discovered King Herod's tomb, fell at his own dig the other day and hit his head.


Hello! I have decided to start this blog so that I can post articles I want to share. I am interested in articles about language, education, archaeology, literature, and, well, some other stuff. I will think of what else as I go. I am not doing this so I can bore everyone with my day-to-day movements and comings-and-goings. I was going to write, "I promise to keep the Latin to a minimum," but I don't.