This month is the last month of the Blogging Archaeology Carnival that you may have seen participation in on other blogs and websites as well as GraecoMuse. This month we are looking at where we plan to take our blogging or where we would like to go.
“…where are you/we going with blogging or would you it like to go? I leave it up to you to choose between reflecting on you and your blog personally or all of archaeology blogging/bloggers or both. Tells us your goals for blogging. Or if you have none why that is? Tell us the direction that you hope blogging takes in archaeology.”
So where am I going with blogging about archaeology and ancient history? Well personally, as I’ve already mentioned in some of my previous posts, this to me is about productive procrastination. But I have realised that it is more than that and there are certainly things I’d like to achieve. One thing you often find with academics is a vast negativity about careers and research which can be very overwhelming especially for young academics or those who wish to expand into the field for any reason. I would like to show that there are those out there who are positive, who are willing to help and promote learning for all in a way that is fun and inspiring. This negativity is often called realism but seriously archaeology and academia is different for everyone and if you love it enough you will go far. You just need to be proactive. And if you don’t end up in academia that’s totally fine, you can still be part of this wonderful thing called history and do things that interest you and learn all that you want.
I also realised that I want to help those who are a little less knowledgeable but want to be knowledgeable. To make resources more available to those outside or academia and students themselves. Especially in the US, I have found that students simply don’t know and haven’t been told how to find information. This blog has become more than just random posts and includes access to such things which people can access really easily.
So access to resources for all! On the blog, on facebook, on twitter, everywhere!
Frankly though my main goal is a bit selfish. I have fun researching things and blogging is just fun. But in the end I would like blogging to continue what it has already started, making archaeology and ancient history more inclusive and more available to everyone. So many people are not aware of the value of archaeology and history and it’s about time they were. And I think bloggers and others are finally achieving this. For instance it is through people like us that word is got out about bad archaeological practices. For instance the horrible National Geographic Show Nazi Diggers which got pulled before it ever aired because of PUBLIC and professional outcries.
Archaeology and history are amazing. I also want to show that media dramatizations of events and the like are completely unnecessary. It seems the media these days really does thing its audience is bloody stupid and need all the stupid dramatizations and dramatic music and the like. History doesn’t need this, we don’t need this, their audiences don’t need this. Let history speak for itself. It is dramatic, it is amazing.
Hopefully with the rise of blogging in archaeology and ancient history, someday people will realise it.
Examples in Archaeology: The Multiple Burial in the Corner of the Hexamilion North of the Roman Bath (Gully Bastion)
When and where the feature was found
The multiple burial (Grave 2 Gully Bastion) is located in the Corner of the Hexamilion North of the Roman Bath at Isthmia. The grave cut into what is assumed to be ground level at the time of the construction of the Hexamilion wall which is a hard white soil. The grave itself was excavated in the 1970 season and was found under a later kiln or oven.
Topelev = 41.08
Botelev = 40.18
Located in a corner of the Hexamilion wall the Gully Bastion Grave Two has the interior face of the wall forming both the West and the North sides with the North side slightly undercutting the Hexamilion by around 20cm. The sides of the grave are lined with large tiles, these tiles also included in their number one stamped tile and another which being heavily smoke stained indicates that it may have originally been part of the nearby Roman Bath. The interpretation of this tile as formerly of the Roman Bath is also suggested by how the smoke staining does not extend to the corners of the tile where it would have been resting on top of hypocausts.
The grave is actually split into two irregular sections, North and South. These two sections were split by a line of vertical tiles which ran West to East across the grave. Within the north section was found two skeletons with their heads to the west and within the south compartment eight skeletons were uncovered also with their heads to the west. There is some debate to who these individuals were, whether they were part of the garrison assigned to guard or build the Hexamilion or from some other associated part of society.
Underneath the lowest body in the southern section a number of artefacts were found, namely an Athenian glazed lamp fragment which shares much of the characteristics of other lamps found in the Roman Bath (IPL 70-100) which can be dated to the second half of the fourth century after Christ. There is debate over the function of the lamp in the grave. Was it part of some religious ceremony for the deceased or simply just lost or for another reason yet to be thought of? Either way this lamp fragment allows for the best dating of the grave in relation to similar lamps found in the Roman Bath as mentioned previous. Several other items were found in the same area as the lamp fragment including a coarse dark reddish bowl (IPR 70-26) which like the lamp can be dated to the second half of the fourth century. A bronze buckle (IM 70-32) and a bead on a wire (IM 70-54) were also excavated.
The north side of the grave undercutting the Hexamilion along with the relation between the lamp fragment found in the south section of the grave in relation to lamps found in Roman Bath dating to the fourth century suggest that the grave was contemporary with the construction of the Hexamilion. This is further indicated by how the grave sides are the interior of the wall on two sides. The graves construction can hence be placed either at the time the Hexamilion was being built or slightly after but before the kiln/oven was placed on top.
The position of the skeletons within the grave suggests primarily a Christian burial with the skeleton’s heads to the west. Christian burials of the period were generally orientated East-West with the head to the West end of the grave in order to mirror the layout of the Christian Church and the direction from which Christ is meant to come on judgement day.
Gregory, T.E., Isthmia: Vol.5, The Hexamilion and the Fortress (1993), pp.42-45
Gully Bastion 1970 Vol.2 – pp.47-72 May 1970
Gully Bastion 1970 Vol.3
Wohl ‘Deposit of Lamps’ No. 24
Fraser, P.M., Archaeology in Greece, 1970-71, Archaeological reports, No.17 (1970-71), p.9
What was the ‘Opening of the Mouth’ ceremony and why was it considered important
The ‘Opening of the Mouth’ was the final ceremony in front of the portrait statue in accordance with the Book of the Dead Chapter 23 (formula for opening the deceased’s mouth for him in the necropolis). The deceased’s head orifices were symbolically reopened by a priest. Adams explains that the ceremony was based on the legend of Osiris when it was first performed by Horus (Adams (1998): 20). This is mirrored in early times when the son performed his father’s ceremony symbolizing inheritance which was an important aspect of Egyptian society. The ceremony was essentially to restore the powers of sight, hearing and speech, to restore life. Adams asserts that the Egyptians loved life and this was an insurance of eternal life/rebirth (Adams (1998): 20). David explains that the ceremony was performed on objects in the tomb to ensure that they would “come to life for eternity” (David (2002): 33) for the use of the deceased. The main importance of the ceremony was that it gave the deceased eternal existence through restoration, the idea and desire for immortality being of great importance to the Egyptians.
What role did the heart play in ideas about the afterlife?
David explains that the heart was considered the “seat of the mind and emotion” (David (2002): 31) and was the most important part of the body. The heart was an essential tool in the judgement of the deceased, during which it would be weighed on a balance against the feather of Ma’at (truth). The heart was instructed not to condemn the deceased (Book of the Dead, Chapter 30B – Formula for not letting the heart of the deceased oppose him in the necropolis). The papyrus of Ani illustrates the final judgement, it shows the mythical figures of the divine judges along the top and the judgement of the heart against the feather below. We see the figure of Anubis (guardian of the scales) weighing the heart overlooked by Thoth as the baboon and Thoth as the ibis-headed man recording the proceedings. Ammit the devourer waits to devour the deceased if judged untrue and the three fates stand to the left who provide the deceased’s testimony. The man-headed bird is Ani’s ba awaiting his fate. The only two real figures are Ani and Tutu bowing to the gods.
What is the role of Osiris in the mythical events associated with judgement? Why is the deceased called ‘Osiris’?
Assmann explains that in Egyptian myth Osiris as the master of righteousness overlooked the judgement (weighing of the heart) of the deceased (Assmann: 149). If the deceased was judged guiltless the soul of the dead was thought to be subject to one last judgement by Osiris to determine whether they were worthy of eternal life. The deceased was called Osiris but this did not mean that he actually became Osiris. It rather meant that he had taken on the role of the “victor over death” (David (2002): 159) that Osiris originally became. An assessment of this relation to Osiris suggests that moral righteousness and worship of Osiris were important factors in ensuring the deceased “access to eternity” (David (2002): 159). It was the wish of the deceased to identify his fate with Osiris’, as displayed in Chapter 43 of the Book of the Dead (Book of the Dead Chapter 43 – Formula for not letting the head of the deceased be cut off in the necropolis).
What are the main concerns of the deceased in the ‘Declaration of Innocence’ from Chapter 125? What do these tell us about Egyptian ideas of Morality?
One of the main concerns of the deceased is that he has not done ill to the gods. This is seen in the large number of references to the sins against the gods, for example “I have not blasphemed a god”, “I have not done what the god abhors” (Book of the Dead Chapter 125 – The Judgement of the Dead, the Declaration of Innocence). Also the other main concerns such as doing ill to people and stealing are related to the gods in reference offerings and stealing from temples. The concern of the deceased is that he has not cheated either man or god and is therefore pure. In Egypt the gods were the force of universal order, and evil was a force of disorder. The concerns of the deceased in relation to the gods show morality ideas were based around maintaining order provided by the gods by not doing evil to them or the earth that they influenced (Bains: 164). Concerns in the declaration also include treating people equally showing another important moral idea.
Adams, B., Egyptian Mummies (Pembrokeshire, 1998), pp.20-22
Allen, J. P., Genesis in Egypt (Connecticut, 1988), pp.8-12
Allen, J. P., Religion and Philosophy in Ancient Egypt (Connecticut, 1989), pp.137-143
Assmann, J., The Search for God in Ancient Egypt (London), pp.145-149
Baines, J., Religion in Ancient Egypt (Ithaca), pp.160-164
Book of the Dead, Chapters 23, 30B, 43, 59, 105 &125
David, R., Religion and Magic in Ancient Egypt (London, 2002), pp.30-33, 121-124, 158 & 159
Grajetzki, Burial Customs in Ancient Egypt (Norfolk, 2004), pp. 27, 45 & 78
Roberts, J.M., Ancient History, From The First Civilisations To The Renaissance, (London, 2004), pp. 102-133
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.
For all enquiries you can contact:
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.