Thursday, October 20, 2005

Future of Marbles is not cast in stone

Many people know that the so-called "Elgin Marbles" in the British Museum are separated, by a long distance, from the Parthenon in Athens to which they belonged. What is less well-known is that a roughly equal proportion of the sculptures of the Parthenon are still in Athens: there are the pieces which Lord Elgin decided, for various reasons, to leave behind; and there are the pieces which he simply missed because they were still buried in the ground, but which came to light later. These pieces make an interesting comparison with the sculptures in London: in some respects, they are in better shape today.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Odysseus Unbound: a Review

By Mary Beard

In the Ninth Book of Homer’s Odyssey, washed up in Phaeacia in the course of his long journey home from the Trojan War, Odysseus describes his native land to his host, King Alcinoos. He hails, he explains, from “clear-seen Ithaca . . . lying low in the sea”, the westernmost (“the furthest towards the dark”) of a group of islands, which also includes “Doulichion, Same [or ‘Samos’] and wooded Zacynthos”. We can infer more about the layout and location of Ithaca from other Homeric references. To judge, for example, from the detailed account of how Odysseus’ son, Telemachos, set out from the island to visit old King Nestor in Pylos, Ithaca’s harbour was so placed that ships could leave it “driven by a strong following wind from the west”. Then again, when Telemachos returns, his mother’s suitors lay an ambush for him on an island with two harbours, “in the straits between Ithaca and rugged Samos”.

Full review

RE: Illegal Excavations in Cyprus

I just don't understand some people. I've tried to post the announcement for the illegal excavations in Cyprus on some of the mailing lists and discussion groups that I'm member of, but the majority of the group owners denied to publish it. They said that they don't allow "politics" in their groups/lists.

Since when the issue of illegal excavations is just a "political" issue and not an academic one? Or is it only the issue of illegal excavations in Cyprus that we are not supposed to touch?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

New book on Helen of Troy

Historian Bettany Hughes claims that the real Helen was a powerful Bronze Age princess, living in the Greek city-state of Sparta around 1250BC. Basing her argument on extensive archaeological research, as well as surviving friezes from the period, Hughes conjures a picture of Helen as a dominant woman who would have worn a handful of snake-like strands of hair over an otherwise shaven, and perhaps brightly dyed, head. Her breasts would almost certainly have been exposed to reinforce her power and sexuality, and she would have been a fit, trained fighter.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Culinary archaeology: Millet noodles in Late Neolithic China

Although not related to Mediterranean archaeology, the discovery mentioned below is simply amazing. (seen at: Nature).

Noodles have been a popular staple food in many parts of the world for at least 2,000 years, although it is debatable whether the Chinese, the Italians or the Arabs invented them first.

Chinese archaeologists have recently discovered a prehistoric sample of noodles contained in a well preserved, sealed earthenware bowl at the Late Neolithic site of Lajia in northwestern China. They have identified millet as the source of the abundant seed-husk phytoliths and starch grains present in the vessel. This shows that the conversion of ground millet flour into dough that could be repeatedly stretched into long, thin strands for the preparation of boiled noodles was already established in this region 4,000 years ago.

Cave hides mass grave

Deep under a quiet valley in southern Greece, archaeologists are struggling to unravel a 1,400-year-old tragedy that wiped out a rural Byzantine community. Sometime in the late sixth century AD, a group of at least 33 young men, women, and children sought sanctuary from an unknown terror in a sprawling subterranean network of caves in the eastern Peloponnese. Carrying supplies of food and water, oil lamps, a large Christian cross and their small savings, the refugees apparently hunkered down to wait out the threat. But experts believe the sanctuary became a tomb once supplies ran out.
Whole article from eKathimerini.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Neolithic agricultural community’s daily life shown in amazing detail in dig at ancient site.

Well-preserved settlement in Kastoria, northern Greece, dating 7,500 years ago illuminates the characteristics of rural life of the times.

For more info on this exciting dig, take a look at eKathimerini

Monday, October 10, 2005

Homer's Ithaca found?

Where is Homer's Ithaca? This question has baffled scholars and non scholars for aeons and aeons.

If you're looking for the latest (and probably definitive) answer, then take a look at Odysseus Unbound

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Illegal Excavations at the site of Galinoporni in Cyprus

The Department of History and Archaeology of the University of Cyprus reports that University of Tubingen and TU Bergakadenie Freiberg faculty members participate in illegal excavations at the site of Galinoporni in the northern part of Cyprus which is under Turkish occupation since 1974.

More specifically, Prof. Ernst Pernicka (Tubingen) and Dr. Martin Bartelheim (Freiberg) are actively engaged in the illegal excavation of the well-known site of Galinoporni in the occupied peninsula of Karpasia. Their project is funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation.

The above mentioned individuals and organisations are in direct breach of the International Conventions of UNESCO (1954, 1970 and 1972). According to the latter, it is illegal to conduct excavations or any other archaeological fieldwork in the occupied territory of the Republic of Cyprus.

If you want to ensure that this violation of international law comes to an end, then contact the individuals and institutions involved and express your opposition to their actions. Their email addresses are:

Prof. Dr. Ernst Pernicka

Dr. Martin Bartelheim

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Well, it was about time!

I have finally decided to get a blog of my own! After wandering in numerous blogs from all over the world, I felt the time was right to have my own little place on the web.