Month: May 2013

Welcome to GraecoMuse!

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This site is aimed at similar people who are interested in archaeology, ancient history, philology and epigraphy. Interesting stories, archaeological tidbits and blogs will be put up as I partake in digs myself and come across things to share.

This page can also be followed on FACEBOOK and TWITTER for regular discussions and news updates. Enjoy and please comment and share.

Please SCROLL DOWN for the most recent posts. Previous posts can be searched through the search bar or browsed in the archives by month on the right hand side bar.


The Versatile Blogger Award

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Awesome! I have been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award by the brilliant blogger Kelly M, author of the blog The Archaeology of Tomb Raider. It is now with great pleasure that I nominate 12 other blogs and bloggers for the award. Full details on this award can be found on its websiteThis is also an excellent chance to share with you some of the fabulous history, archaeology and literary blogs out there.

Here are my nominations, in no particular order:

  • Nyssa Harkness – Nyssa writes some wonderful and analytic material on media and cultural studies with a focus on genre fiction, gaming and creative society. She also knows more about zombies than anyone else I know.
  • Writ, Ritual, and Revelation – Pasha runs this blog providing her readers with a flashlight into the Attic of her mind. A personal venture which is psychologically and culturally interesting and full of pretty artwork and creative insight.
  • Classically Inclined – Liz is the author of this fairly new blog. She writes excellent guides to help out classics students on how to write and also insightful posts into archaeology.
  • Following Hadrian – This blog is a personal story of adventure by the author as they talk about their archaeological digs and various beautiful sites around the world in connection with Hadrian. It is particularly easy to read and full of enthusiasm.
  • Bones Don’t Lie – Katy’s work is a wonderful and educational array of anthropology and bioarchaeology. She takes great care in appealing to the general public and academics alike.
  • Digitised Diseases – This blog I recently discovered and it provides an excellent introduction to the laymen. The author is informative and shows a clinical understanding of chronic conditions affecting the skeleton using archaeological and historical exemplars.
  • History Kicks Ass! – The author Nadine is an enthusiastic blogger who adds her own touch of humour with a great knowledge of the historical.
  • Digging Anthropology – This blog is a record of archaeology and anthropological venture at Ferry Farm. A recent blog but doing a fantastic job at showing the public what archaeologists and anthropologists really do.
  • Archaeology Fantasies – The authors of this blog do an intelligent job of showing where archaeology and realities meet. They show and transmit an understanding of concepts and themes in archaeology which is interesting and enthused.
  • History of the Ancient World – this blog has won awards before and remains a classic blog for the general enthusiast of history. It is particularly good with introductory information on historic topics.
  • Adventures in Archaeology, Human Palaeoecology and the Internet – Matthew writes a diverse blog which particularly promotes discussion and sharing of ideas on many topics.
  • The Archaeology of the Mediterranean World – The author’s musings on archaeology, technology, teaching and history are practical and well-written. They do particularly well in remaining interesting to all but also academic.

If you’ve been nominated for the award and wish to join in the fun, you will need to:

  • Thank the person who nominated you this award and include a link back to their blog.
  • Select 15 awesome blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.
  • Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award (if possible, include a link to the website so that others can learn more about the award)
  • Share 7 facts about yourself.
  • Optional: You’re free to add the Versatile Blogger Award button to your blog if you’re one of the 15 nominees and have nominated 15 blogs of your own. Just save the image below, upload it to your blog, insert it in your blog post and/or menu, and add a link back to the Versatile Blogger Award website.

The Versatile Blogger Award button

And, last but not least, here are seven facts about yours truly:

  • Well as it has taken over my life it is first fair to mention that I am a PhD candidate who is in their last year of study. Hopefully will have it all completed by the end of the year, fingers crossed! My PhD is on the epigraphic evidence for healer women in ancient Greece and Anatolia and I’m fortunate in that I have incredible support and have managed to get several publications out into the world. I also teach Ancient Greek and mythology at my university where I have a great contingent of students.
  • Part of that incredible support is my wonderful partner who I also work alongside in archaeology. We met on an archaeological dig in Turkey in 2012 and started a long distance relationship which has been getting stronger by the day. We are now looking into me moving to America to join him at the end of the year. He is (in his own words) the ‘pillar that holds up the earth’. 😛
  • Travel and archaeology have always fascinated me. Part of this is due to having lived in four different countries by the age of 15 and having been dragged, quite willingly, all around the world by my intrepid parents. Having been born in England, we went through Scotland and New Zealand before settling in Australia. They are now secretly regretting this a little bit because it meant I had little issue with making the decision of moving to America.
  • I did my first paid archaeology job when I was 17 instead of celebrating end of high school exams like everyone else. It ended up being the best thing I ever did and I haven’t stopped since. This year marks the tenth dig season I have participated in in less that 7 years. Digs I have worked on sites in Greece, Scotland, Turkey and Australia.
  • Apart from history and archaeology, I have an avid love for science fiction, especially Doctor Who. I am rather a Doctor Who snob knowing more about the Classic and Current series than anyone I have ever met having watched them from when I was a baby onwards. My best geeky party trick is naming all doctors and companions in order from 1963 to 2013 without thinking about it. I am also a huge fan of Star Trek, Stargate and Battlestar Galactica.
  • I have two doglets who are currently keeping my feet warm. They are the cutest things in the world and are border collies.
  • My favourite form of exercise is a form of aerial acrobatics called pole fitness which I do several hours a week. People sometimes question it due to stripper connotations but it is so much fun and the best work out ever. Plus there are no boys allowed and it is part of the international Bodybuilding Federation.

You can follow my blog also on FACEBOOK and TWITTER. Please add me 🙂

PS. Visit the Versatile Blogger Award’s website if you need any more information about the award or rules and don’t forget to let me know who you’ve nominated. You can do so by leaving a link to your blog post in the comments section below. :)

10 Fantastic Free Resources for Learning Egyptian Hieroglyphs

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Some excellent resources to add to the list for Egyptian Hieroglyphs. And check out the Archaeology of Tombraider blog.

Tomb Raider Horizons

Have you ever had the urge to follow in Lara’s footsteps and learn to read Egyptian hieroglyphs? If so, you may be interested to know that there are a number of useful, free online resources at your disposal. These, if used in combination with a good textbook such as James P. Allen’s Middle Egyptian: An Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs (Buy it on Amazon/Amazon UK) or Mark Collier and Bill Manley’s How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs (Buy it on Amazon/Amazon UK), will help you get to grips with this complex but fascinating ancient language and deepen your knowledge of Egyptian history and art.

Here are ten fantastic free online resources for learning the Egyptian hieroglyphic script:

1) Biblioteca Alexandrina’s Hieroglyphs Step by Step What better place to begin your foray into Egyptian hieroglyphs and grammar than at the…

View original post 1,084 more words

The Archaeology of Tell el-Dab’a and its use in Relative Dating

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With its finely differentiated stratigraphy Tell el-Dab’a is a great asset to the correction of the earlier established historical records.  The archaeology of Tell el-Dab’a offers increasing insight into over three hundred years of history through Strata H to D/2, and is important to the chronology of the second intermediate period and Hyksos rule.  Located in the Eastern Delta covering an area of approximately two square kilometres on natural mounds,[1] Tell el-Dab’a provides evidence which assists in interpreting when and how foreigners established themselves in the Delta, the rise to power of the Hyksos and their end.

The Introduction of Foreign Influence into Tell el-Dab’a

Close-up of a drawing of axe blade depicting A...
Close-up of a drawing of axe blade depicting Ahmose I striking down a Hyksos Warrior, part of the burial equipment of Queen Ahhotep.

The introduction of the Hyksos into Egypt has often been seen by scholars and archaeologists as a violent intrusion, but was this the case?[2]  Hayes assesses that the introduction of these foreigners was the result of raiding the north-eastern border of Egypt, and that during “periods of internal weakness”[3] they swarmed into the delta region in huge numbers.  More recent excavations by Bietak and the Austrian Archaeological Institute in Cairo, at Tell el-Dab’a, provide a basis for which assessments of this nature can be positively appraised or negatively criticised.

The archaeology at Tell el-Dab’a provides numerous indications of foreigners throughout the stratigraphy which can be used, in addition to previous interpretations, to establish a relative timeline of occupation and migration.  Stratum e/1-3 contains material of a purely Egyptian cultural context dating to the early twelfth dynasty, where as Stratum H = d/2 exhibits evidence of the first newcomers, after a hiatus, who were already egyptianised.[4]  Syrian ‘Mittelsaal’ houses and a ‘Breitraum’ house give an indication of the origin of the inhabitants along with burials yielding foreign weaponry and donkey burials typical of contemporary Syrian traditions.  With finds of distinctive MBIIA Levantine painted ware and jugs of Syrian types such evidence shows interactions parallel to other late 12th dynasty sites both in and outside of Egypt.[5]

The idea of a smoother introduction of foreigners into the Delta is seen in much of the archaeology of Tell el-Dab’a.  Foreign components are witnessed throughout most pre-Hyksos strata.  For example, Stratum G/4 = d/1 exhibits Asiatic burial customs which continue through to the Hyksos period showing early foreign occupation or influence. Typical Egyptian pottery is still predominant, but sherds of classical Kamares ware and exported ceramics have been discovered within the gardens of the early palace phase.[6]  This indicates an economically fuelled immigration with the rapid cultural development of the Tell el-Dab’a.[7]

The analysis of burials at Tell el-Dab’a provides a relative picture of foreign progression and occupation.  The continuation of Asiatic burials through pre-Hyksos strata illustrates this movement; a key example being Tomb A/II-1/12 no.5 which held five or six donkey sacrifices outside the entrance.[8]  Donkey burials, warrior burials and the inclusion of foreign weaponry show non-Egyptian customs in burials through different stratum at Tell el-Dab’a.[9] With a variety of foreign objects, from the handmade globular jugs of Cypriot influence in Stratum G/1-3 = c to the traditional Mesopotamian vaulted roofs seen in stratum E/1,[10] we see further evidence for foreign migration steadily into the area.  Questions of why this gradual immigration took place remain mostly unanswered but archaeology can suggest a time in the historical record for this migration.  Archaeology of this nature also provides a basis for the analysis of the different cultural groups which Tell el-Dab’a had foreign relations and trade with.

The rise to power of the Hyksos has been a long and widely disputed point.  The analysis of the archaeology of Tell el-Dab’a can not determine any exact process for this rise to power but it can assist in correcting the historical record.  The first indication of a social ranking system can be seen in the early Stratum F = b/3 above the first indication of foreign occupation.  The development of this social stratification continues to be seen throughout Stratum E/3 = b/2 with enlarged villas with kitchens and simple living quarters set apart from them along an enclosure wall.[11] The archaeology, indicating social structure developing throughout a mixed ethnic community at Tell el-Dab’a, is the first suggestion that the Hyksos rise to power was more gradual than Hayes and others initially assessed.  The introduction of structured housing and burials at Tell el-Dab’a within it’s well defined stratigraphy also assists in working out when transitions through egalitarian to state societies took place in the Eastern delta region.[12]

These archaeological features also allow for the assessment of social structure and culture within the Hyksos period. Hayes expresses that there were two stages in the Hyksos rise to power; half a century of waves of Asiatic princes into Avaris and Salatis ousting the contemporary Egyptian ruler from the capital city of Memphis.[13]  The archaeology at Tell el-Dab’a illustrates a far more complex and long term transition into positions of power.

As previously commented, scholars such as Hayes,[14] have blamed raiding and force in the Hyksos’ ‘takeover.’ This is not a theory which generally holds ground in present publications.  Booth disagrees with Hayes’ initial statements, commenting that there is very little archaeological evidence to suggest a violent takeover and variations between pottery of the 14th and 15th dynasties at Tell el-Dab’a are subtle and actually suggest a peaceful change-over in political leadership.[15]  The archaeology at Tell el-Dab’a provides more evidence for a political changeover between the Egyptians and the Hyksos.

The Termination of the Hyksos Rule

Scarab bearing the name of the Hyksos pharaoh ...
Scarab bearing the name of the Hyksos pharaoh Apophis. Made of steatite, from the time of the Second Intermediate Period. Now residing in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

The termination of the Hyksos rule is a point in the historical record which remains to be substantially explored. The archaeology at Tell el-Dab’a does though assist in determining when and how this came about.  Stratum D/2 which presents highly egyptianised archaeological material and architecture represents the last occupation of the site by Asiatic influence.[16]  The analysis of this stratum, in comparison to previous underlying strata, assists in correcting when in the historical record the Hyksos rule ended.  Unfortunately D/2’s archaeological evidence for the development which led to the termination of the stratum is largely destroyed by Ramesside foundations and sebbakh digging.[17]  Excavations in Area A/II and Area A/V contemporary with Stratum D/2 have not produced obvious evidence of a violent termination popular in earlier explanations of the Hyksos’ disappearance from Egypt’s historical record.[18]

Most of our evidence for the end of the Hyksos period is wrapped up in the written sources from the Theban side.  The archaeology at Tell el-Dab’a assists in constructing the Hyksos side of the historical record. Kamose stelae and contemporary copies on writing stelae in Theban tombs tell the Theban side of the end of Avaris with an account of Kamose reaching Avaris, but there is limited evidence of how Kamose’s campaign actually effected the site.[19]  The end of Avaris (Tell el-Dab’a) and Ahmose’s campaign is primarily told in three contemporary sources; the biography of Ahmose which focuses on his own involvement, the physical evidence of Tell el-Dab’a, and narrative relief fragments from Ahmose’s temple at Abydos.[20]  The slaughter after Ahmose’s victory as told in the written sources is contradicted partly by the material evidence, creating the picture of mass exodus[21] described by Josephus. The idea of exodus has become widely accepted, as seen in Finkelstein and Silberman who even make comment on the possibility of an exodus becoming more prevalent in comparison to the expulsion of the Israelites from Egypt in the biblical texts and Manetho’s account of the transition of the Hyksos to Israel.[22]

The place and details of the termination of the Hyksos reign of power in the historical record is defined by several aspects of the archaeology at Tell el-Dab’a.  Primarily this end is indicated by a clear cultural break in the gap between the latest Hyksos stratum and the earliest 18th dynasty throughout the whole site. And after this break there is no obvious evidence of continued occupation by the Hyksos peoples.  Unfortunately the later stratum D/2 has also been damaged greatly by modern ploughing but there is no current evidence of a layer of slain soldiers and destruction leaving it debatable whether D/2 was indeed destroyed by warfare as the written evidence suggests.[23]  This is accompanied by the distinct break in stratigraphy with no occurrences of evidence such as the previously well-represented tombs with a wealth of Asiatic weaponry and traditional donkey sacrifices.[24] Hatshepsut’s boasts of defeating the Hyksos have also been debated due to the work of Bietak and the Austrian institute at Tell el-Dab’a.[25]

Continuation of Hyksos Influence

With the end of the Hyksos reign of power the details of the historical record again fall into debate about whether the Hyksos influence continued in some capacity into the following periods.  Bietak states that we cannot exclude the possibility that a small number of former carriers of the Hyksos rule [26] stayed behind at Tell el-Dab’a and that their influence did not completely dissipate.  Limited assemblages excavated within the temple precinct of Seth in stratum D/1 support Bietak’s proposed possibilities.[27] The ceramic material dating to the mid eighteenth dynasty within this stratum indicates that the precinct continued to be used in some limited capacity after the late Hyksos strata. The evidence of a continuation of Hyksos cultural influence does not appear to continue outside the precinct into the settlement areas yet it does indicate that the important cultic centre was allowed to continue on a restricted scale.[28]  Unfortunately, Bietak appears to see the evidence found at Tell el-Dab’a above the Middle Bronze Age Stratum irrelevant to his hypotheses and has not yet fully explored these post-Hyksos strata.

Egyptian Relative Dating Systems

The archaeology at Tell el-Dab’a provides a base from which to correlate breaks and inconsistencies within the historical record, for instance, the correlation of the Egyptian relative dating system comprising of Kingdoms and Dynasties and the Middle Bronze Age chronologies.  The analysis of archaeological assemblages within stratum D/2 indicates that MBIIC cannot have ended with the beginning of the New Kingdom through the absence of piriforms jugs and the continuation of Tell el-Yahudiya types.[29] On the other hand the presence of late Cypriot pottery, especially Bichrome ware, found in Stratum D/2 indicates that this stratum was already of the late Bronze Age.[30] Bietak states that this Cypriot pottery cannot be used as an indicator of the Bronze Age, but its appearance within the stratum helps in drawing up the bigger picture and should not be excluded.

Stratum D/2 also provides evidence for determining whether the destruction and abandonments over a number of sites happened at approximately the same time.  The archaeology in Stratum D/2 is indicative of the end of the Hyksos period, and though the date of this “common phase” is debatable, being raised even to Thutmosis III and by some to the beginning of the eighteenth dynasty, it provides a point of comparison for other sites.  For instance, the existence of base-ring ware found at Stratum D/2 is compatible to wares found in the Stratum XVIII destruction level at Gezer and the temple site of Nahariya.  Oren also agrees with this assistance of Tell el-Dab’a archaeology, assessing that the MB IIC-LBIA development which was previously undisturbed at this site and others became indicative of a break during the second quarter of the fifteenth century BC.[31]  The question ‘who is responsible for such destructions and abandonments?’ remains open, but their possible temporal position can be correlated with the help of the Tell el-Dab’a archaeology.

The succession of kings in Ancient Egypt is a topic which has sparked much debate from Manetho to the current day.[32]  The archaeology of Tell el-Dab’a helps in the relative placing of several kings in the historical record.  This is achieved in relation to the well-defined stratigraphy of the site stretching from the Middle Kingdom through to the start of the New Kingdom.  Henige asserts that in past interpretations of king-lists there has been a common habit of representing individuals and dynasties in succession when they could in fact be occasions of shared time.[33]  Assumptions such as this has long caused king lists to be misinterpreted.

The architecture and archaeological assembly at Tell el-Dab’a assists in correcting some such misinterpretation.  Stratum F = b/3 includes the area of TempleIII which presents a fine example of how Tell el-Dab’a’s archaeology can be used to assign a certain monarch to a certain period.[34]  Two fragments of different limestone jambs with the names of king Nehesy (aA-zH ra) were uncovered in pits in Strata A/2 and B, this evidence along with other associated artefacts suggests that Temple III was constructed under the direction of Nehesy.[35] Through the association of artefacts and architecture is typical of the end of the eighteenth century BC..

Warrior tomb at Tell el-Dab’a

One of the most prevalent artefacts found in the Tell el-Dab’a stratigraphy, which assists with the formulation of a less unlikely arrangement of monarchs, are scarabs.  In Stratum E/3 a scarab was uncovered with a corrupt writing of the name Sebekhotep.  This find can be used to relatively date the stratum as it is terminus post quem.[36]  The Sebekhotep scarab had the second part of the name reversed along with an nwb-sign indicating a date in the second part of the 13th dynasty.  Scarabs such as this, which are uncovered at Tell el-Dab’a in significant numbers, can be compared to other finds within a stratum and then can be relatively dated in relation to them.  Subsequent information gained from these finds can be cross referenced with Mantheo’s Aegyptiaca, contemporary and non-contemporary royal and private inscriptions, and king’s lists such as the Turin canon to create a more detailed picture of successions.

These scarabs and other artefacts associated with monarchs can also be compared by designs and motifs to assist in placing the named individuals in a particular period.  For instance, the first appearance of scarabs bearing the motif rdy-ra have been founding Stratum E/2 = b/1.[37]  The typical Hyksos rdy-ra motif, with other finds and seriations, can assist in working out when the Hyksos rulers first became established in the region.[38] Dever expresses though that Bietak had a record of misreading scarabs, but with the correct reading of these artefacts dates can then be applied to help place kings more correctly in the historical record.[39]  The Hyksos kings still remain largely unknown in name and period so scarabs, such as found in Stratum D/3 = a/2 showing the name of an unknown Hyksos ruler named zA-Ra SnSk wHm anV, are of great benefit in correcting the line of Hyksos kings within the historical record.[40]

Without confirmation from other sources it seems unwise to use scarab distribution as an indicator of a king’s influence throughout Egypt, the same can be said for the design and shape.[41] But in relation to a time when very little is known of the monarchs and with limited written evidence, such material evidence with the names of individuals is of essential importance to a relative chronological placement of kings.

Tell el-Dab’a as a Chronology Cross-Reference

Tell el-Dab’a allows for a better insight into the correlation of chronologies within Egypt, Mesopotamia and the Near East.  The stratigraphy at Tell el-Dab’a has been used by Bietak in recent years to date finds within periods of around thirty years.  This dating technique created from the archaeology is seen in similar circumstances at Memphis as achieved by the EES and also at Karnak by the French institute; and though it helps little to ascertaining absolute dates it holds significance in its assistance to relative dates.[42]  For instance, Kamares ware obtained during Tell el-Dab’a excavations has been dated to the thirteenth dynasty and holds significance in the correlation of Minoan chronology.  The same is seen with Levantine Middle Bronze Age wares which can be finely dated in relation to Egyptian ceramics assisting the determination of chronology for both Syria and Palestine.[43]  In the case of Tell el-Dab’a the archaeology has become a solid base for cross-referencing.

The ability to define seriation of materials allows the archaeologist to compare similar material from elsewhere which may in the long run lead to a better understanding of the chronology of a location.  The round bottomed drinking cup’s seriation from Tell el-Dab’a allows for comparison of similar cups found throughout the Middle Kingdom and Second Intermediate Period in other Egyptian contexts.  For instance, at the excavations of Dieter and Dorothea Arnold at Dashur in the pyramid complex of Amenemhat III where a number of the round bottomed cups have been uncovered.[45] Bietak’s seriation of the round bottomed drinking cup shows that their development at Tell el-Dab’a can be followed throughout twelve Strata, D/2 through to d/2, which can be cross dated with Dashur strata.[46]  This permits for a relative understanding of the chronology of the two sites in reference to this typology.

New data from a range of pottery seriation studies in the area has assisted in the analysis of data for the twelve and thirteenth dynasties and the Second Intermediate Period. A vast array of these typologies have been created by archaeologists from the material evidence at Tell el-Dab’a including beer jar, water jar and Marl-C typologies.  Bietak affirms that the stratigraphy and typologies from Tell el-Dab’a are a ‘precious instrument in transposing both the relative and absolute chronology of Egypt to other regions.’[47]  For instance, the marl C (fabric II-c) shows a change in shape in Stratum G/4 indicating a change from twelve dynasty shapes to those of the thirteenth.[48]  Marl C (fabric II-c) from other localities can then be compared to the typology created from Tell el-Dab’a’s material to correct the dates of stratum within other sites and regions.

Seriations of Tell el-Yahudiya ware is also exemplary of how Tell el-Dab’a’s stratigraphy and archaeology can assist in correcting the historic record as Tell el-Yahudiya ware has distinct chronological connections throughout Egypt. Bietak’s excavations have uncovered a vast number of Tell el-Yahudiya wares first appearing as mainly ovoid vessels between Stratum H and F and then developing through handmade globular forms, piriforms, biconical and combed forms through to stratum D/2.[49]  Occurrences of Tell el-Yahudiya and other wares identified at Tell el-Dab’a can be recognised over a wide area of the Delta, from Tell Fauziya to Tell Geziret el-Faras well to the west of the Tanitic Nile branch.

Tell el-Dab’a’s finely differentiated stratigraphy has released a variety of archaeological material which can assist in the correction of the historical record.  Through the efforts of excavators such as Bietak and the Austrian Archaeological Institute evidence has come to light that can help in correcting previous misinterpretations such as with the successions of kings and dynasties, how the Hyksos people came to the Delta and established a degree of power and how this power came to an end.  The archaeology also assists in the correlation of sites in Egypt and the Near East and provides a vast array of seriations from which to do so.

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[1] Shaw, I., and Nicholson, P., The British Museum: Dictionary of Ancient (London, 2003), p.76

[2] The Hyksos, automatically associated with foreigners as their name to Egyptian contemporaries was Hiq-khoswet – “rulers of foreign countries,” – Hayes, W.C., (New York, 1990), p.3

[3] Hayes, W.C., The Scepter of Egypt: A Background for the Study of the Egyptian Antiquities in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Volume II (New York, 1990), p.3 – Hayes does assert that the opinion of a few instances of invasions led to power gain was no longer held at the time of 4th edition publishing in 1990 but maintains the view of violent intrusion over a long period of time.

[4] Bietak, M., Egypt and Canaan during the Middle Bronze Age, in Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, No.281, Egypt and Canaan in the Bronze Age (Feb., 1991), p.31 – Stratum e/1-3 being the earliest excavated pre-Hyksos stratum, located in Area F (Centre of town)planned orthogonal settlement of Egyptian culture.  Stratum H appears contemporary with d/2 (Area F) and is located in Tell A Eastern Suburb, an open settlement with enclosure walls (Bietak, M., (Oct., 1984), p.476)

[5] Ibid., p.32 – Mittelsaal à Mesopotamian, Syrian middle room house. MBIIA is Middle Bronze Age period 2A – the analysis of the Mittelsaal and Breitraum rooms has been subject to many scholars including Bietak and Giles, the extensiveness of these analyses is great.

[6] Ibid., p.36 – Minoan jewellery from the Middle Minoan period has also been uncovered in one of the palace tombs of this phase providing links to Middle Minoan chronologies.

[7] Shaw, I., The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt (New York, 2003), p.176

[8] Bietak, M., (Feb., 1991) op.cit., p.39

[9] Donkey burials – indicative of the differing burial customs of the Hyksos peoples in the Delta, some belief that they were a source of sustenance for the deceased but have also been assessed accompanying weapons and jewellery to be an indication of the deceased place in society (Grajetzki, W., Burial Customs in Ancient Egypt: Life in Death for Rich and Poor (London, 2003), p.61)

[10] Ibid., p.42

[11] Ibid., p.40 – E/3 = b/2 is described as a sacred area surrounded by cemeteries with mortuary temples, the concentration of mortuary cult provides a base for analysis of social stratigraphy but any conclusions made from this material are subject to questions as mortuary evidence provides more of base for the funeral organisers rather than the deceased individuals.

[12] This often believed to have taken with the introduction of the twelve dynasty

[13] Hayes, op.cit., p.4 – Salatis, c.1675BC

[14] Hayes interpretations are subject to the understandings of the period he was writing in (1959) and lack the insight one is able to obtain through the study of Bietak’s and the Austrian Institutes more recent and extensive excavations at Tell el-Dab’a.

[15] Booth, C., The Hyksos Period in Egypt (Buckinghamshire, 2005), p.10

[16] D/2 shows an extensive amount of late Hyksos material and tradition which fails to appear after this level.  These include late Hyksos period burials in family vaults within the structures of houses and evidence of strong trade links with Cyprus (Bietak, M., (Oct., 1984), p.477)

[17] Bietak, M., (Feb., 1991) op.cit., p.47 – sebbakh digging is the digging to provide irrigation to the land

[18] Ibid.,  p.47

[19] Bourriau in Shaw, I., The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt (New York, 2003),  p.200

[20] Ibid., p.201

[21] Ibid., p.202

[22] Finkelstein, I., and Silberman, N.A., The Bible Unearthed (New York, 2001), p.55 – the archaeology for the debate between exodus and defeat is wide and cannot be fully accounted here, these examples are primarily to give one an understanding.

[23] Bietak, M., (Feb., 1991) op.cit., p.45 – written evidence provides a bias towards the actions of Ahmose and Kamose, Ahmose’s biography in particular recounting a significant victory against the Hyksos.

[24] Ibid., p.46

[25] Bourriau, op.cit., p.203 – Hatshepsut boasts that it was she that defeated the Hyksos.  The archaeology at Tell el-Dab’a puts the end of the Hyksos rule far before the reign of this 18th dynasty queen who stated that it was she who “banished the abomination of the gods, and the earth has removed their footprints.”

[26] Bietak, M., (Feb., 1991) op.cit., p.47

[27] Seth (Set, Setekh, Suty, Sutekh) – was worshipped by the Hyksos in the second Intermediate period and previously, associated with the thunder god Baal (A Levantine deity), and retained strong ties to Avaris and the Hyksos throughout their existence. (Shaw, I., and Nicholson, P., The British Museum: Dictionary of Ancient (London, 2003), p.265)

[28] Bietak, M., (Feb., 1991) op.cit., p.47

[29] Bietak, M., (Feb., 1991) op.cit., p.57 – Tell el-Yahudiya wares are named after a site where a vast amount of them have been excavated.  Black-fired wares, often with a lustrous surface and designs of incised zigzag lines commonly filled with white and made only in Egypt and Levant. (Hope, C.A., Egyptian Pottery (Buckinghamshire, 2001), p.38)

[30] Ibid., p.57

[31] Ibid., p.58

[32] Manetho – third century BC Egyptian priest and historian, history survived in fragments, as a priest had access to much of the archives of Egypt’s temples which have failed to survive to the present day (Shaw, I., and Nicholson, P., The British Museum: Dictionary of Ancient (London, 2003), p.169)

[33] Henige, D., Comparative Chronology and the Ancient Near East: A Case Study for Symbiosis, in Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, No.261 (Feb., 1986), p.63

[34] Bietak, M., (Feb., 1991) op.cit., p.51

[35] Ibid., p.51

[36] Terminus post quem – no later than; the stratum is dated terminus post quem by such finds as scarabs, in this case the stratum can not have been begun any later than the time of Sebekhotep (Bray, W. and Trump, D., Dictionary of Archaeology (London, 1982), p.240)

[37] Bietak, M., (Feb., 1991) op.cit., p.51

[38] Ibid., p.51

[39] Dever, W.G., Tell el-Dab’a and Levantine Middle Bronze Age Chronology: A Rejoinder to Manfred Bietak, in Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, No.281, Egypt and Canaan in the Bronze Age (Feb., 1991), p.76

[40] Bietak, M., (Feb., 1991) op.cit., p.52 – Bietak believes that in relation to the stratigraphy and the situation within Avaris at the time that this ruler was a major rather than a minor ruler.  It is of importance especially because the names of the rulers of the 15th dynasty are missing and this could provide some insight into at least one of them.

[41] Shaw, op.cit., p.180 – shapes include Hathor heads and concentric circle designs, such scarabs can be used alongside other indicators of monarchs such as bronze plates of King Neferhotep (Bietak 1986).

[42] ISIS Conference Report, High, Middle or Low? The Second International Colloquium on Absolute Chronology (1990) in Egyptology Bulletin, P.90

[43]ISIS, op.cit., p.90

[44] Bietak, M., Problems of Middle Bronze Age Chronology: New Evidence from Egypt, in American Journal of Archaeology, Vol.88, No.4 (Oct., 1984), p.480

[45] Bietak, M., (Oct., 1984), p.480

[46] Ibid., p.481 – strata D/2 and d/2 are actually on opposite sides of the spectrum of stratigraphy though they have similar names, D/2 referring to strata in Tell A and d/2 in Area F (absolute dating according to Beckerath, Helck and Hornung puts strata d/2 just after 1800BC and strata D/2 at about c.1540BC)

[47]ISIS, op.cit., p.90

[48] Bietak, M., (Feb., 1991) op.cit., p.36

[49] Ibid., p.45

[50] Shaw, op.cit., p.184

How to Teach yourself Ancient (and Modern) Languages

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One of my main loves in ancient history and archaeology is the learning of ancient languages. This post is in response to one of my followers who is currently trying to teach herself Mayan glyphs. But I know there are many of you out there who have struggled to teach yourself languages or would like to be able to in the future. So here are a number of tips and ideas for you to help you out on that journey.

46 is the earliest (nearly) complete manuscrip...
46 is the earliest (nearly) complete manuscript of the Epistles written by Paul in the new testament.

These preliminary tips can be used for any language either ancient or modern and can be used in combination with the language resources I supply in the menu bar for certain languages. If you have looked at my ancient Greek resources as well you can use these techniques to help you remember them or languages you are learning at university or elsewhere already.

Finding sources

  • Use social media and friends to discover the best books and sources to use
  • It is worth while finding them to save you time and to teach you better
  • Research the texts and their reviews
  • Avoid generic internet programs – they generally use methods that are more in touch with teaching basics to children rather than adults. Remember that the adult brain learns differently to a child’s
  • The best sources are usually in book or cd form from reputable suppliers
  • It is a good idea to see what universities use to teach language  basics – this information can usually be found in course descriptions and handbooks which are generally available online

Using sources

  • You generally want to learn as quickly as possible and often get over enthusiastic
  • Try and avoid this and slow yourself down and don’t skip ahead
  • This way you will learn properly and take in more
  • Take to doing one lesson or hour a day
  • Stick with one source book so you are following a program

Remembering material

  • Before each lesson review the day before and any exercises the sources set
  • Without looking at the answers from the previous day’s exercises, do all or some of them again and some from previous lessons even further back so you keep them in mind
  • Run through the whole lesson for the day before you undertake new exercises so you have the complete context for what you have to do
  • Literally do it every day, if you miss a lesson then at least take 15 minutes to go over an exercise from a previous day

Tips for memorising information

  • Write out the stuff you find difficult and stick it around the house where you are going to see it regularly or at work, for example:
    • Behind the bathroom door
    • Above the sink
    • In the kitchen
    • On the ceiling above your bed
    • Beside your computer
  • Another little used technique which works ridiculously especially for grammatical concepts well is a walk about memory exercise:
    • Make a list of what you want to remember
    • Pick a room in your house
    • Start at one corner of the room and move around the room allocating an object in the room to each thing on your list
    • Then find a link between each object and each idea
    • Ie. A participle – a chair – a chair is used for sitting – sitting is a participle
    • No matter how abstract the connection is the memory of it will help you remember concepts through physical associations
  • For vocab literally stick labels on things in your house
  • Or make up songs or rhymes – it is amazing how your mind works

Tips for if you can’t find one particular source for a language

  • Look at sources for another language. Ie. Latin
  • Make a note of how the lessons are set out and how grammar is taught
  • Then use what sources you do have and apply the information into that format
  • Grammar is the basis for all language and stays the same in ideas throughout the majority
  • By applying an accepted and working format from another language you can help yourself learn another.
  • If lesson one is on the alphabet and then verbs, then look up the alphabet and common verbs in your array of sources for the language you want to learn, ie. Mayan glyphs.
  • Sometimes this will take longer because there are varying lengths of alphabet for instance but readjust the time you spend on it to suit.
  • If you have the sense and desire to teach yourself a language then you should be able to work it out

Remember to be patient with yourself and the material

These things are not learnt over night

Ancient Sites of Cilicia, Anatolia: Part 1

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Ancient Sites of Cilicia, Anatolia: Part 1.


I wrote this last year and as I will be blogging from the area again this year, thought i’d reblog it for new followers. I’m sure to add to it soon.

Enjoy 🙂

Macquarie Ancient Languages School – Winter Session

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Hello Followers, The Macquarie Ancient Languages School Winter Session is now enrolling for 1-5 July 2013. These intensive courses are open to anyone and everyone, public and students, of all ages and backgrounds. I usually teach the Greek courses but will be in Turkey this year. They are still running though in other capable hands while I am away. 🙂

For the Winter school program you can download it here. Along with the application details. Travel subsidies are available for those coming from further away, we help cater for both national and international attendees.

The bible written in Aramaic.
The bible written in Aramaic. (Photo credit: Arnasia)

For all enquiries you can contact:

Jon Dalrymple
Ancient Cultures Research Centre
Department of Ancient History
Macquarie University NSW 2109
Telephone: (02) 9850 9962
Fax: (02) 9850 9001

The Macquarie Ancient Languages School, an initiative of the Ancient History Documentary Research Centre, has been running since 1981, offering courses in a wide variety of languages associated with Ancient History and Biblical Studies. Held over two weeks in January and one week in July, the School has branched out from its beginnings in Classical Greek to include classes in Koine Greek, Latin, Egyptian Hieroglyphs, Classical Hebrew, Coptic, Akkadian, Sanskrit and a range of other ancient languages. Some are offered at each school, others on a rotational basis, for example, Aramaic,  Hieratic and Old Norse.

There are also opportunities to participate in hands-on courses, working with papyri, inscriptions and coins from the collections in the Museum of Ancient Cultures. New courses are incorporated into the programme on a regular basis. Recent additions include the Linear B Tablets, Latin Inscriptions, the Vindolanda Tablets, and Latin Vulgate Psalms.  There are also introductory courses on various topics  – for example, Etruscan, Cuneiform and Celtic Languages.

  • Are you looking for a challenge in 2013?
  • Perhaps you are considering enrolling in a degree programme and would like to include an ancient language?
  • Taking part in a Macquarie Ancient Languages School is a great way to ‘test the water’, prior to enrolling in an accredited unit.

Classes in Classical Greek, Koine/New Testament Greek, Classical Hebrew and Egyptian Hieroglyphs are offered at three levels, ranging from Beginners (requiring no prior knowledge) to Advanced level, reading from selected texts.

Classes in other ancient languages are conducted at the Beginners level in January, with follow-on classes in July, subject to student demand.  Examples of languages offered in the past include Coptic, Akkadian, Aramaic, Sanskrit, Syriac, Hittite and Sumerian, and more recently, Demotic and Hieratic.

Classes are open to people of all ages (from 16 years) and are suitable for:

  • intending students of Greek and other ancient languages in tertiary institutions and theological colleges, and those interested in learning to read the New Testament in Greek
  • secondary teachers and students of Ancient History
  • those interested in learning more about their heritage, for example, those with Celtic, Greek or Italian ancestry
  • those with a general interest in language
  • those interested in English literature, in European civilisation, in drama, philosophy, theology, in the ancient world generally, and in the many fields in which ancient literature and thought have been for centuries a powerful influence.

Teaching is in small tutorial groups meeting either in the mornings or afternoons. The timetable is planned to allow students to enrol in more than one subject – for example, a morning class in Classical Hebrew might be followed by a practical session on Greek Papyri in the afternoon. The timing of both Summer and Winter Schools is designed around the Macquarie University calendar, making it possible for currently enrolled students to attend.  For those considering an ancient language as part of their degree, such a course is an ideal introduction to the subject, prior to enrolling in an accredited unit.  Similarly, both Schools take place in NSW school holidays, so that secondary school students and teachers may attend.

Many of our students come back year after year, not only to enjoy the contact with other like-minded students, but also to brush up on their Greek or other ancient languages, and to continue their fascination with the worlds opened up by the language and literature of these ancient cultures.  Their continued attendance is testimony to the enthusiasm generated by the Macquarie Ancient Languages School over the past three decades.