Monday, February 28, 2011

Libya's Roman sites unscathed by unrest so far | Reuters

Libya's Roman sites unscathed by unrest so far Reuters
...as far as anybody can tell, given the weak state of communication with Libya. But this article does have some basic information about the Roman sites in Libya (and not just Leptis). We continue to keep our fingers crossed.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Child's 11,500-Year-Old Remains Unearthed In Alaska : NPR

Child's 11,500-Year-Old Remains Unearthed In Alaska : NPR
This is pretty cool, not just for the skeletal remains, but because it is a house. The broadcast story said that this was more extensive evidence about the living conditions of people in this era than they have from anywhere else. Their house, their hearth, bones from their food, their burial habits, etc. Not to mention ethnic clues from the teeth.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

SECRETS OF THE DEAD . Headless Romans | PBS

SECRETS OF THE DEAD . Headless Romans PBS
Yes, really! Headless Romans! But that's not all: damnatio memoriae, fratricide, Caledonians (sorry, no Mohawks), and tooth-enamel analysis. OMG. Does it get any better? Got to order this for the History class and the Latin class. Definitely the best Secrets of the Dead episode since the Herculaneum show.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Houston Museum District

Houston Museum District
"Titian and the Golden Age of Venetian Painting" (including the two big paintings mentioned in the last two entries)
MFAH, May 22-Aug 14, 2011.
I will try to find links to the other stops on this tour; this is just the one I'm most likely to make it to.

Two Titian Masterpieces Traveling Through U.S. : NPR

Two Titian Masterpieces Traveling Through U.S. : NPR
Another piece on the Diana and Actaeon and the Diana and Callisto; they are on tour on the US this year. Stay tuned for info about one of their stops.

The Surprising Tale Of Two Sexy, Titian Masterpieces : NPR

The Surprising Tale Of Two Sexy, Titian Masterpieces : NPR
Story about two Titian paintings--Diana and Actaeon & Diana and Callisto--and their history. Stay tuned: two more links coming about this topic.

Uplifting News | drhawass.com - Zahi Hawass

Uplifting News drhawass.com - Zahi Hawass
Dr. Hawass tells how several museums around Egypt have reopened. It is rather touching to hear of local Egyptians visiting the museums to see for themselves that everything is OK. (Well, almost everything.) Later in the update, ZH gets a leetle teeny bit defensive as he tries to explain why he can't hire everybody in Egypt who has a degree in archaeology--some of whom have been picketing outside his office. (What? The market for archaeologists is not good? OMG! Who knew?) Anyway, one hopes that the situation in the museums and digs around Egypt is settling down and getting back to normal, or perhaps even better than normal.

Some of Thomas Jefferson's Greek and Latin books discovered

74 of Thomas Jefferson’s books identified at Washington University library Newsroom Washington University in St. Louis
Some books in the archives at WUStL have been identified as originally coming from Thomas Jefferson's library at Monticello. Many of them are Greek and Latin books, including a volume of Plutarch's biographies of great Greeks and Romans; most unusually, inside one of the books is a small scrap of paper with Jefferson's own Greek handwriting on it! Scroll down in the article to see the picture of this scrap. (No, I don't know why this strikes me as so cool, but I once went far out of my way to see an exhibit in Washington DC that included the actual desk on which TJ wrote the Declaration, so maybe I'm obsessed with the actual process of his writing.)

Toyota decrees the plural of 'Prius' is 'Prii,' your Latin teacher looks on admonishingly -- Engadget

Toyota decrees the plural of 'Prius' is 'Prii,' your Latin teacher looks on admonishingly -- Engadget
Toyota actually had customers vote, and this is the pseudo-Latin they chose. See the note at www.rogueclassicism.com on whether "Prii" is even plausible Latin.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Prof. George Bass profiled on "This American Life"

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/399/contents-unknown
The episode of the radio program "This American Life" that aired on Jan. 22, 2011, features a story about Prof. George Bass, the father of the field of underwater archaeology, and his collaborator Fred van Doorninck, who worked for decades to reconstruct a Byzantine ship. You can download this episode for 99 cents, or you can just listen to it on the website above; the story should start about 23 minutes into the episode. It is a very cool profile of people who pulled off a true scholarly revolution. (And while you're at it, listen to the next story, about a man who forgot his own identity! Scary!) And yes, I admit to being a pretty serious fan of This American Life; without podcasts of it, I wouldn't get through much exercise.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Ousted Tunisian Dictator Accused of Looting and Despoiling Carthage - ARTINFO.com

Ousted Tunisian Dictator Accused of Looting and Despoiling Carthage - ARTINFO.com
Looting of antiquities from Carthage under the ousted Tunisian regime: worse than previously reported. Tapping into networks of Iraqi smugglers.

Further updates on the state of Egyptian antiquities | drhawass.com - Zahi Hawass

Further updates on the state of Egyptian antiquities drhawass.com - Zahi Hawass
The limestone statue of Akhenaten with the blue crown (the one that headlined the CNN story about a "King Tut statue") has been returned to the museum in Cairo. Story is that a teenaged protester "found" it near the museum, took it home, and was, uh, convinced by his parents to turn it in. (Similar stories abound from Baghdad.) Anyway, Akhenaten is back. Slightly broken, but fixable. Also more details on damage/looting at other sites in Egypt.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

AFP: Iceman Oetzi gets a new face for 20th anniversary

AFP: Iceman Oetzi gets a new face for 20th anniversary
Oetzi had brown eyes, apparently. Too bad the article can't show us the new mannequin.

Wroxeter house recreation adds colour to Roman site | Culture | guardian.co.uk

Wroxeter house recreation adds colour to Roman site Culture guardian.co.uk
This article details some of the technical aspects of building the place: heating system, tools, etc. And the project supervisor is most adamant: The Romans did NOT have wheelbarrows! The workmen were truly annoyed by his refusal to let wheelbarrows on site.

Opening Soon: Replica Roman Town House | English Heritage

Opening Soon: Replica Roman Town House English Heritage
Open to the public (at least those of us who can get to Wroxeter, England) as of February 19: a gorgeous replica of a Roman house. See the gallery at the right side of the page for a lot of photographs of the place. Beautiful.

Rome Wasn't Built in a Day - 4oD - Channel 4

Rome Wasn't Built in a Day - 4oD - Channel 4
Listen up, sports fans! This is fantastic! The British Channel 4 TV series "Rome Wasn't Built in a Day"--about the project to build a recreation of a Roman-style house in Wroxeter, England--can be watched online for free. The entire series. Ok, I haven't watched it yet because I have to grade these stupid quizzes this afternoon...but then as a reward to myself...woo hoo! Stay tuned to the blog for some other links on this project.-
UPDATE (2/17/11 3:43pm): Bah. The episodes are only available for 30 days after their original air date, so we can't watch the 1st one any more. Must put off grading quizzes and watch TV!

Restoring Ancient Artifacts: What Does it Take? | The Rundown News Blog | PBS NewsHour | PBS

Restoring Ancient Artifacts: What Does it Take? The Rundown News Blog PBS NewsHour PBS
Good to see PBS news shows addressing the archaeology side of the Egyptian mess. A short story about the modern philosophy and techniques of restoring artifacts: e.g., don't do anything that can't be undone. A couple of comments about what it may take to put King Tut back together again.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Archaeology Magazine Corrigenda

Archaeology Magazine Corrigenda « rogueclassicism
http://rogueclassicism.com is a classics blog that I enjoy reading every day. (Really. Shut up.) This entry consists of an email circulated by some Etruscologists, regarding the left/right orientation of several images in the recent Archaeology magazine story about the Etruscans. These are people who CAN TELL when they see Etruscan written backwards, and they don't like it. I understand, although I'm not in such a group.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cosmic Log - Games were big 4,000 years ago

Cosmic Log - Games were big 4,000 years ago
A Swedish dissertation studies evidence for games such as dice and board games at Mohenjo-Daro.

After the Revolution, Who Will Control Egypt's Monuments? - ScienceInsider

After the Revolution, Who Will Control Egypt's Monuments? - ScienceInsider
Science Magazine's analyst considers the possible future of Zahi Hawass in the new Egyptian political landscape. Will he fall victim to his longtime association with Mubarak? Or is he so established as the face of Egyptian archaeology around the world that no one can imagine the Antiquities authority without him and his hat?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Cairo's Cats Forgotten As Its Humans Rebel

Cairo's Cats Forgotten As Its Humans Rebel
Cats of Egypt! Arise and demand your rights! A sad sad story, about pets running from Mubarak's police, about demonstrators who never go home to feed the cats, about street cats who used to depend on handouts from tourists. Perhaps once Egypt gets human rights sorted out, animal right can get some attention, too. No sarcasm intended. Note that this situation came to light thanks to Gwen Cooper, author of "Homer's Odyssey"--no, not that one, but the other one, a book about her blind cat Homer. Homer has a Facebook page (of course) and it has been used to publicize the plight of Egyptian cats, now less worshipped than they used to be in ancient times. I cannot make fun of this woman, because I too used to own a kitty named Homer.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Eloquent Peasant » Blog Archive » Statues of Tutankhamun, Akhenaten, & Nefertiti stolen from the Egyptian Museum, Cairo

The Eloquent Peasant » Blog Archive » Statues of Tutankhamun, Akhenaten, & Nefertiti stolen from the Egyptian Museum, Cairo
Yes, yesterday Dr. Hawass listed on his blog (www.drhawass.com) several objects which, it turns out, are missing fro the Cairo museum, now that some of the dust has settled. And some of them are, if not the "crown jewels," pretty close. This blog here, "The Eloquent Peasant," is by an Egyptologist who tries to provide pictures of the objects based on Hawass' description of them. Most are easily identifiable, but some are a bit ambiguous (which "head of a princess"?). The Tut objects, of course, are quite familiar.
I'm going to editorialize here and say this has probably been a rather chaotic couple of weeks for the museum and its staff, so it's not entirely mysterious that it took them so long to ID the "missing" items. Like most people, their work schedules have probably been rather abnormal, due to the thousands of people, not to mention tanks and TV cameras, outside the very gates of the museum. (Shoot, we missed a few days due to snow here, and I'm completely off track. Can't imagine what a revolution would do to my concentration.) So I'm sure it took a while to get organized and figure out what was broken and what was truly gone. What a headache. Meanwhile, Hawass is probably pretty distressed on a personal level, since he's spent his whole career 1) working with (and/or constrained by) the Mubarak regime, and 2) trying to convince the international audience that Egypt is safe for antiquities. The question that is starting to nag me, though is this: why were there so few security guards on duty at the museum that night? Why were they so insistent on pinning the break-in of the museum proper (not gift shop) on this one lone criminal? It doesn't look good, at this point. I'm grateful that the rest of the Egyptian people seem to have banded together after this incident to protect their heritage, but there's still something fishy about what happened in that first incident.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Video of Lego model of Antikythera Mechanism

video

The Antikythera Mechanism in Legos

Andrew Carol Wired Science Wired.com
The Antikythera mechanism, ca. 2nd c. BCE, is a bunch of gears and doodads which are thought to have been used to compute eclipses. Now one Andrew Carol has replicated the thing in Legos (not, as I usually say, "Lego blocks," because there are a lot of non-block-like pieces involved in this). There is a short (2.5-minute) video showing how he built it and how it works. Lots of cool math, involving the fraction 5/19. Underneath the article, there are several links to other pages about the original and the replica.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Restoration continues at the Egyptian Museum, Cairo | drhawass.com - Zahi Hawass

Restoration continues at the Egyptian Museum, Cairo drhawass.com - Zahi Hawass
Today's report (2/11/11) from Dr. Hawass on his blog; note the absence of an update on 2/10/11! I imagine that was one busy day. There is a very nice picture on this post of the statue of King Tut with the panther; the king is standing back up, but is not yet remounted on his panther. Restoration work continues. The picture, lower down, of the smashed wooden boat is depressing. That one may take a while.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ancient Site of Carthage in Danger

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/09/ben-ali-carthage-tunisia
This article, by an archaeologist who has excavated at Carthage, says that the recently-overthrown government of Tunisia did not respect or preserve the integrity of the archaeological site of Carthage. The ousted dictator allowed real estate developers to put up condos, etc., "near" (really near) Roman ruins. During his day, no one was allowed to complain about this violation, but now Tunisian archaeologists are sounding the alarm.
There is a link at the end of the article to a petition to save Carthage. Note that Carthage is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Carthago servanda est. (Had to say it.)

NBC News tour of Egyptian Museum, Feb. 10, 2011

video

What would Alexander do?

Guest opinion: What would Alexander do in Egypt today? The Des Moines Register DesMoinesRegister.com
What would Alexander do? Some lessons from 332 BCE. Professor Philip Freeman of Luther College muses on parallels between then and now.

No Venice-style mega-ads on the Colosseum during its sponsored conservation | The Art Newspaper

No Venice-style mega-ads on the Colosseum during its sponsored conservation The Art Newspaper
No shoe ads on the the Colosseum! Tod's (the shoe company that is putting up 25 million euros for the renovation) can call itself "sole (HA! No help from Darian on that one!) sponsor of the Colosseum restoration" or something like that, but it can't plaster its name all over the monument. We'll see. Hopefully, you won't enter the Colosseum and feel like you're at the TOSTITOS FIESTA BOWL.

Different Meanings Of Democracy For West, Middle East : NPR

Different Meanings Of Democracy For West, Middle East : NPR
Dr. J. Rufus Fears of the Univ. of Oklahoma interviewed by Scott Simon on the concept of democracy, in the context of Egyptian protests' calls for it. Whatever do they mean/want? I haven't listened to this one yet, but I think I may have heard this lecture in a different context before.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Stone Age Fertility Ritual Object Found : Discovery News

Stone Age Fertility Ritual Object Found : Discovery News
A "zigzag" carved on a piece of elk antler is interpreted to be "a woman with spread legs." Yes, I can see how you MIGHT interpret it that way, but is there any other evidence to support that? The only other evidence cited is "we have other zigzags that we also interpret that way." I'm going to need more.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The State of Egyptian Antiquities- 4 February 2011 | drhawass.com - Zahi Hawass

The State of Egyptian Antiquities- 4 February 2011 drhawass.com - Zahi Hawass
Dr. Hawass makes a very emotional plea that people not listen to rumors about looting, especially at Saqqara. He claims to be in a position to know the truth. I hope he is right. But the "rumors" also seem to be from people in a position to know. See the links at the Egyptology blog (http://egyptology.blogspot.com). I guess this is all just a lesson that, even in a world with easy worldwide communication, messages get scrambled and confused when people are panicked, emotional, and scared. I hope all this mess dies down soon, in a peaceful way.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

'Ravages of time' leave Auschwitz decaying - World news - Europe - msnbc.com

'Ravages of time' leave Auschwitz decaying - World news - Europe - msnbc.com
This is a different kind of "conservation" project. Not a place that is beautiful, or represents great accomplishments of a past civilization, but a nasty, horrific place that nevertheless needs to stay around. Must be a challenge to raise money for Auschwitz. It is actually sobering to remember that the other infamous camps do not exist any more; there should be one at least that remains for people to see, walk through, touch. It's real and as long as it is properly conserved the deniers can't wish it away.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Arts Post - Google Art Project: 'Street view' technology added to museums

Arts Post - Google Art Project: 'Street view' technology added to museums
Whoa. This could be interesting. As usual with Google's audacious projects, issues arise. But it goes a way toward further "shrinking" the world. Chances that I'll ever get a flight from Oklahoma City of St. Petersburg (Russia, not Florida) are slim.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

African soldier in Roman army? Settled in Britain?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-coventry-warwickshire-12280213
A skeleton found in Warwickshire, identified as a person of African origin, is thought to have been a Roman army veteran who chose (for whatever reason) to retire in Britain. The article notes that some legions from Africa were sometimes stationed along Hadrian's wall. Date seems around 300 CE. Very interesting evidence for the mobility of people of various origins and ethnicities around the Roman Empire.

"World's Oldest Temple"

Gobleki Tepe (Neolithic religious site in Turkey)
Article from Zaman about this site. (Comments suggest that the original picture published with the article was wrong, but I think it has been corrected.)
There have been other stories about this really cool, staggeringly old site:
http://www.archaeology.org/0811/abstracts/turkey.html
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/gobekli-tepe.html?c=y&page=3
The place is often touted as "the world's oldest temple."

Ancient church discovered in western Turkey - Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review

Ancient church discovered in western Turkey - Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review
A cryptic report from the Turkish government about discovery of the church of Laodicea. It is claimed that "this summer" the site may be opened to foreign press and scholars. OK. We'll see. This would be a nice site to know about, because it was a very early Christian site.

Ancient Transylvanians Rich in Gold, Treasure Shows

Ancient Transylvanians Rich in Gold, Treasure Shows
Ancient Dacia. Some enormous gold bracelets from the Dacians. Unfortunately, context and manner of discovery make the authenticity of these things dubious. But if they're real, they're pretty impressive. (Why no wear? Why so heavy?) Oh, Trajan; you weren't just out to spread Roman culture to the barbarians, were you?

Egypt Treasures Looted, but Public Strikes Back

Egypt Treasures Looted, but Public Strikes Back
From National Geographic Daily News, a good summary of current situations around the historic site of Egypt. Links to pictures, etc. Sobering picture of Dr. Hawass standing in the museum and flanked by armed soldiers. Comments from people outside Egypt who are trying to help Egyptians get around the no-internet situation. The difficulty communicating about security needs of the monuments suggests that repressive dictatorships are bad for archaeology, too. If people could use cell phones or the internet, they could summon help to sites that are threatened or insecure. Dr. Hawass himself had trouble finding out about some sites. (Of course, chaos in the streets is bad for historic sites, too. Ask the Iraqis. But cutting off cell phones and internet in the name of "security" actually seems to have made the situation more dangerous in some areas of Egypt.)

History Buffs Try to Bring Oar-Powered Warship to New York - WSJ.com

History Buffs Try to Bring Oar-Powered Warship to New York - WSJ.com
Something more cheerful than we've had lately: giant fundraiser underway to bring the replica trireme to NY in 2012. Apparently, it needs some repairs.

The State of Egyptian Antiquities Today: An Update | drhawass.com - Zahi Hawass

The State of Egyptian Antiquities Today: An Update drhawass.com - Zahi Hawass
A new update from Dr. Hawass on sites around Egypt, not just Cairo. It seems Saqqara is safe, for now.