Monday, May 6, 2013

How the National Archaeological Museum (Athens) saved its treasures in WWII
Article translated from a Greek magazine that details how heroic curators and scholars buried the statues and vases of the museum beneath the floor in the days before World War II broke out. Thus, the antiquities were saved. Too bad they didn't have the Trojan gold.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Aerial photography of snowy landscape in Wales reveals ancient earthworks
Several amazing photos taken from the air during a big snowstorm in Wales reveal some previously unidentified Neolithic and Bronze Age structures, such as hillforts and burial mounds. The snow helps the contours of the land stand out.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

What Roman Peasants Ate: Millet (aka birdseed)
Chemical analysis of skeltons from two cemeteries near Rome of the Imperial period suggest that people out in the boondocks ate a very monotonous diet: millet, millet, and more millet. Ancient literary sources refer to millet as feed for livestock.
Cool new way to study history.

Water/Sewage pipe burst in Khufu Boat museum near Pyramids
Egypt! Get your act together! Protect your infrastructure, which protects your cultural heritage, which feeds your economy!
This is the museum that holds the wooden boat that dates to the time of the building of the Great Pyramids.

Good News from Mali, for a change
It appears that 80% of the manuscripts from the Timbuktu library were saved when German diplomats helped evacuate them from the area before the Islamist fighters could burn them.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Pater Noster: Benedict's last audience

Video of Pope Benedict XVI singing the Lord's Prayer in Latin at the end of his last public audience in St. Peter's Square, Feb. 27, 2013.
Blogger apparently won't let me upload RealTime videos; it wants me to patronize YouTube instead.
Anyway, I think this is the link to some other footage of the Pope's departure with the MOST beautiful views of the helicopter zooming over the statues of saints in St. Peter's Square at sunset. Too amazing.

News report of Pope's departure: great Rome views!
The NBC Nightly News segment at the top of this story has great video of the Pope's helicopter as it flies out of Rome: flying over Colosseum, etc. Nice.
Yes, I care about the Pope's resignation mainly because it produces lots of news stories with footage of Rome AND because the mainstream media has to speak Latin more than they usually do. Sede vacante. Habemus papam. Et cetera.

Monday, February 25, 2013

One Million Brits descended from Romans
DNA analysis of men in England and Wales shows that a lot of them share a DNA marker that is very common in Italy. This phenomenon doesn't appear in the DNA of men in Scotland or Ireland. It is theorized that the cause is those very active Roman soldiers in Britain from 43-410 CE, who seem to have spread their DNA around with lasting effects. The Roman army mainly occupied what is now England & Wales, and stayed out of Scotland (pace Agricola) and Ireland ("We don't want the Irish!"--Blazing Saddles).
I don't know about the math that brought us to "one million Brits."

Friday, February 15, 2013

"Pornographic" petroglyphs from western China article on Chinese petroglyphs
Don't be taken in by the lurid title on this article; it is a layman's introduction to some carvings found in western China. There is a link to an article by a UPenn professor, Viktor Mair, who has excavated and studied a site related to the petroglyphs, a site containing mummies. The latter article is scholarly and long, but worth reading. The Slate article, however, is the one with at least one picture of the petroglyphs.
The date of the petroglyphs is uncertain. Some people put them at 1000 BCE, while others put them earlier. Much earlier.
If I find a link to more pictures of the petroglyphs, I'll add it to this post.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Uh oh. Wrong about Neanderthals?
New study of last surviving Neanderthals in southern Spain redates the time of their demise. Perhaps we didn't cross paths with them as much as previously thought.

Richard III: Found at last
This is the amazing site at the University of Leicester, where the work was done to 1) uncover the site of the Grey Friars church, 2) find a burial within the church, 3) identify the skeleton as Richard III, killed in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth Field. He was the last English monarch to die in battle, and he lost it, so his body was (apparently) mistreated after death and not buried with any pomp and/or circumstance. The University's site has something for everybody:
Geographers: see the maps of the town in different eras, and see the description of how they looked for the church. ("Archaeology" page)
Shakespeareans: see the "History" page for info on Richard himself, his travels, and sources for his life.
Swordsmen/Weapons buffs: see the "Science" page for pictures of Richard's body, bones, skull, etc., and of the damage to them--some of it fatal, like that giant piece sliced off the back of his head! Also speculation about which weapons caused which injuries. Also evidence for Richard's "hunchback," more like a severe scoliosis curvature.
Historians: see the "History" page and the "Science" page for information on how the project found a modern person (actually, they found 3) who might share Richard's DNA. It is a testament to the incredible completeness of public record-keeping in England that they were able to trace these descendants of the King through 15 generations. And they had to do an all-female line, to follow the mitochondrial DNA. Then they also found a descendant through a male line, for that other kind of DNA which I can't remember what to call.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Dicebam: "Medicare tuos desiste capillos!"

January Jones: My hair is falling out
This actress admits that she has changed her hair color so many times that it is now falling out. Please read Ovid, Amores 1.14, where the poet's amica has mistreated her hair so much--mainly with heat!--that she must now wear a wig made of hair from naturally-blonde German women.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Small Handcuffs on

Small Handcuffs article on
Slate has a feature called "The Vault," which shows historical artifacts. This one shows a tiny, kid-sized pair of handcuffs which were used during the forced relocation of Native American children to the "Indian schools" across the US during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. If anyone doubted that Native children were taken away from their families by force during that time, these things put that doubt to rest.
I give the Slate article here because it contains a link to the original article about the artifact, which was published on the "Indian Country Today Media Network" site (at:, and a link to a follow-up article on the same site (see:, in which the donor of the handcuffs came forward after several years of anonymity. (He tells the rather incomplete story of of how he came to have them.) Slate also has a picture of the handcuffs, which are rather hard to look at. The original article has some details about the struggle at the museum at Haskell Indian Nations University over how to treat the object, which naturally people feel has some nasty spiritual baggage.