Archaeology

Where is Archaeology Blogging Going? #BlogArch

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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.

378320_10151488407322119_2116310759_nSo in brief I what to promote a more positive view of history and archaeology which it deserves.

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.

 

http://dougsarchaeology.wordpress.com/2013/11/05/blogging-archaeology/ 

Examples in Archaeology: The Multiple Burial in the Corner of the Hexamilion North of the Roman Bath (Gully Bastion)

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 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.

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Location of Grave 2 in corner of the Hexamilion wall,
Gregory, T.E., Isthmia: Vol.5, The Hexamilion and the Fortress (1993)

 Topelev = 41.08

Botelev = 40.18

 Brief Description

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[1]  and another which being heavily smoke stained indicates that it may have originally been part of the nearby Roman Bath.[2] 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)[3] 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.[4]  A bronze buckle (IM 70-32) and a bead on a wire (IM 70-54) were also excavated.

 Interpretation:

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.

References

Gregory, T.E., Isthmia: Vol.5, The Hexamilion and the Fortress (1993), pp.42-45

Notebooks:

                  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


[1] Gully Bastion Notebook Vol.2, p.47 and 53

[2] Ibid., p.49

[3] Ibid., p.55

[4] Ibid., p.68

The Historical Background to Zombie Mythology

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I have been watching the TV show The Walking Dead, excellent by the way, and I came to wonder the specific historical background behind the Zombie character. It is fairly well known that there are origin stories in the traditions of South America but as a Graeco-Roman historian I wondered also about European origins.

Zombie comes from the Haitian Creole ‘zonbi’ or the North Mbundu ‘nzumbe’ expressing the idea of an animated corpse being brought back to life. However, originally it was used in the metaphoric sense to describe someone bereft of consciousness. West African Vodun tenets explain that a corpse can be reanimated by a sorcerer to whom they remain in control with no personal will. Funnily enough there is also the idea of a zombie astral where these animated beings are kept in bottles to sell for luck quite like the idea of a genie. South Africa also has the idea of zombies where some places believed that one can be created by a child through the use of the right words of power. The Tibetans have the idea of a Ro-Langs meaning literally a corpse that rises up created by a spirit or magician which cannot bend at the joints. The Chinese interestingly also have the idea of the Kiangshi which was known as a ‘hopping’ vampire or zombie.

Let us now look into Greek mythology; the idea of the undead becomes more varied throughout time and locations, in the case of Greece the closest we get are probably the Keres who were female death-spirits. They were the daughters of Nyx, sisters of fate, death and sleep among others. While in contrast to other ideas of zombies, the Keres were wilful creatures, they express the similar and time long idea of the dark and frightening side of death and the end of humanity which is personified throughout history and literature. For instance, the dead rising from their graves in Revelations. The Keres had that thirst for flesh and blood that we see in popular fiction, brought death with an association with Cerberus and are mentioned throughout Greek literature including: Homer’s Iliad IX.410ff and the Odyssey XII.158. Additionally the Keres had connection to battles as deities of war choosing those who shall meet their doom. Some have chosen because of this to compare them to Valkyries but where as Valkyries are benevolent, Keres are definitely depicted as malevolent and this idea is where the Keres get their name from; Keres ‘choice’.

In Roman mythology we see the Lemures who again were spirits of the malignant dead personified in the likes of Horace and Ovid’s Fasti. Again though the Lemures are willful creatures, rather than the will-less undead of the Haitian and African traditions, being vengeful. They were believed to be created when an individual was not afforded a proper burial or mourned by the living or given tomb offerings. Additionally though Ovid expresses them as ancestral gods or spirits of the underworld.

The Norse traditions have the Draugr who shares many traits of the modern fictional character. They were literally ‘ones who walks after death’ or spirits that inhabited the graves of the dead and animated the bodies. Like in much of popular culture they carry the stench of decay and retain only some sense of intelligence only in the suffering that they cause, devouring the flesh of the living and being immune to weapons. Strangely though the Norse believed that Draugr could increase their size at will and had superhuman strength and some maintain more intelligence with magical abilities. Examples of binding spells have been found on Norse Runestones to keep the dead in their graves.

There are many other examples of similar ideologies and traditions relating to both the Zombie and Vampire myths, often overlapping. In fact there are far too many to list and discuss here. But it is always interesting to explore origin stories in order to understand the human side in the supernatural; the natural and evolved fears and dreads embedded in the Human psyche that have exhibited themselves in similar but varying ways throughout the world.

Why I Blog about Archaeology

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So Doug’s Archaeology Page is asking archaeology bloggers monthly questions and thus here is my answer. This month the question is why blogging? Why did you start a blog? Why are you still blogging? Doug, author of the blog Doug’s Archaeology, will be hosting a blogging carnival on the subject of archaeology and blogging in the lead-up to next year’s Society for American Archaeology (SAA) conference.

Why did I start blogging about Archaeology?

I started this blog at the end of 2011 as a way to escape the monotony of PhD writing and as a means of productive procrastination. It started as a way to simply continue my love of research into ancient history and archaeology while the rest of my life was dedicated to one subject but it developed significantly over time.

Also simply I love archaeology!

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Antiochia ad Cragum Bathhouse Mosaic at the site I have been digging at for the past two years.

Why did I continue to blog about archaeology?

As I continued my PhD and my archaeological digs and started to teach students at my university and in the field, I realised just how much university doesn’t actually teach you about archaeology; and just how little people know about the subject even if they have watched every available episode of Time Team. The significance of archaeology, the tools, the enthusiasm behind it, the practice versus the theory, the hard work and dedication, the thrill and exhaustion.

There is a highly romanticised view of archaeology that I see in the eyes of students even on the first day of a dig which can lead to a lot of disappointment for them. We are not Indiana Jones, nor are we perfectionists with tiny tools. Blogging became a way of giving people who were interested a non romaticised view and show them that despite the lack of whips and Nazis it can be just as exciting for different reasons.

Ness of Brodgar dig site where I was in Scotland in 2011.
Ness of Brodgar dig site where I was in Scotland in 2011.

Academia has also revealed that there is unfortunately a rather snobbish air in the industry. All to often I see academics and students hold their knowledge to their chests and hiss at anyone who comes near it, there is that sense of competition which is seen far too often. Fortunately my professors are not like that but I certainly understand why students are terrified of asking questions some times.

The reason I wanted to go into academia was to spread knowledge, not just engage in my own interests but develop the interests of others, to teach and encourage students to learn and question, analyse and compare. While one can do that through universities, there are all those people outside the institutions and departments who do have an interest in this field but do not have the resources to develop it. So I continue this blog also for them to give them the resources and dispel some of the myths, to move away from the dramatised rubbish now often on TV.

Over the past year and a half of blogging I have also met and developed friendships with a number of interesting and excellent people. Networking in archaeology has never been so effective. It has been wonderful to hear their stories, help them and for them to help me.

So I blog for myself: To continue my interest, as productive procrastination

I blog for students: To answer questions that they are scared to or haven’t thought to ask

I blog for the wider audience: To spread the knowledge and give them resources

I hope I have been able to do some of these things and always appreciate your comments and feedback. 🙂

Productive Procrastination: Some Documentaries on History, Anthropology and Archaeology

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Hello lovely followers, I am very busy at the moment and unfortunately haven’t been giving you the attention you deserve. I am moving to America, starting a new job, finishing a PhD and moving into a new house. So in case you don’t hear from me in a while here are some wonderful documentaries for you to watch, some of my favourites. 🙂

Incredible Human Journey

Dr Alice Roberts travels the globe to discover the incredible story of how humans left Africa to colonise the world — overcoming hostile terrain, extreme weather and other species of human. She pieces together precious fragments of bone, stone and new DNA evidence and discovers how this journey changed these African ancestors into the people of today.

Episode 1 – Out of Africa

Episode 2 – Asia

Episode 3 – Europe

Episode 4 – Australia

Episode 5 – The Americas

Around the World in 80 Faiths

Very interesting and educational series. Around the World in 80 Faiths is a British television series which was first broadcast by the BBC on 2 January 2009. The series is presented by the Anglican vicar, Pete Owen-Jones, who is researching the various faiths from around the world.

Episode 1 – Australasia and The Pacific Ring of Fire

Episode 2 – The Far East

 

200 px
200 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Episode 3 – Africa

Episode 4 – The Middle East

Episode 5 – USA

Episode 6 – India

Episode 7 – Latin America

Episode 8 – Europe

The Bible’s Buried Secrets [BBC]

Stavrakopoulou visits key archaeological excavations where ground-breaking finds are being unearthed, and examines evidence for and against the Biblical account of King David. She explores the former land of the Philistines, home of the giant Goliath, and ruins in the north of Israel and in old Jerusalem itself purporting to be remains of David’s empire.

Episode 1: Did King David’s Empire Exist?

Episode 2: Did God Have a Wife?

Episode 3: The Real Garden of Eden

B B C “Η πόλη κάτω από τα κύματα: Παυλοπέτρι” – Pavlopetri – The City Beneath the Waves

The underwater city of Pavlopetri, a city that thrived for 2,000 years during the time that saw the birth of Western civilisation, lies less than five metres below the surface and is littered with thousands of fragments, the remains of stone buildings and a complex of city streets.

The Minoans: Ancient Civilization of Crete – Bettany Hughes (2004)

Bettany Hughes visits Crete to recount the story one of the greatest archaeological discoveries ever made.

The Minotaur’s Island – Bettany Hughes (2003)

Best known for the myth of the Minotaur — a monstrous half-man, half-bull imprisoned in Daedalus’s labyrinth — Crete gave birth to Europe’s first civilization nearly 5,000 years ago, more than two millennia before Homer composed The Iliad. Then it collapsed in fire and violence.

Delphi • The Bellybutton of the Ancient World • © BBC (full documentary)

Very professional and interesting BBC production on the rise and fall of Delphi as the centre of the Greek world.

Titanic: The Survivors’ Story (1997)

In Search of Myths and Heroes – Michael Wood

In this series, Michael Wood goes in search of four of the world’s most famous myths. These gripping adventures take the viewer to some of the most extraordinary places on earth, exploring stories that have captivated the world for thousands of years.

The Queen Of Sheba
Jason And The Golden Fleece
Shangri-La
King Arthur

National Geographic Video – Mass Decapitations

Mass Decapitations in Southern England

What violent event caused this many beheadings?

The Christ Files – Dr John Dickson

WHO WAS JESUS – REALLY? Has the real Jesus been so buried by tradition and legend that he is now lost to people living in the 21st century?

Historian Dr John Dickson sets out to discover what we can know for certain about the life of one of history’s best known and most influential figures. In a captivating journey across the globe, Dr Dickson examines ancient documents and consults the world’s most respected historians and scholars. Beginning with the Gnostic Gospels, he criss-crosses continents on a search back through time for the historical sources that reveal the real Jesus— a search for The Christ Files.

New Finds at Antiochia ad Cragum: Aphrodite Head and Mosaic

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As my frequent readers know, I often contribute to archaeological digs around the world and for the past two years I have been digging and translating at the site of Antiochia ad Cragum in Southern Turkey. And now things have been officially published, I can show you some of the cool things we found this year at the site 🙂

For my previous writing on the site on Graecomuse see below:

Antiochia ad Cragum: Archaeology Blog 2013

Archaeology Travel Blog: Selinus and Antiochia ad Cragum!

Archaeology Blog 2013: Dig Long and Prosper

Archaeology Blog: It’s Not All Fun and Games

Archaeology Blog: The Empire Strikes Back

Archaeology Blog: Back in the Trenches

Archaeology Travel Blog 2013

Piracy in the Ancient Mediterranean

Archaeology Travel Blog

Ancient Sites of Cilicia, Anatolia: Part 2

Ancient Sites of Cilicia, Anatolia: Part 1

 

First I am pleased to say we uncovered the second half of the mosaic at the bath complex which is huge! Restoration will begin shortly in more detail.

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In the pool in the middle of the bath house mosaic was found a head of a statue of Aphrodite 🙂

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And a brand new mosaic! This one located to the South of the bath complex at a possible other temple side. This mosaic dates to older than the previously found one and contains much smaller tesserae in beautiful designs.

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Archaeology Blog 2013: Dig Long and Prosper

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Byzantine Church at Alanya Castle

And so ends week 3 of the excavations at Antiochia ad Cragum. It has been quite a week, a major find that I can’t even tell you about yet, yes I know I am a tease. Numerous trenches have been dug, blocks recorded and snakes killed. We even uncovered another inscription which is clearly out of situ because it is in a wall but upside down. The inscription looks like it dates from the mid to late first century AD from the letter forms so it could be an interesting find when I get round to giving it more attention. But first we have more trenches to finish!

The trenches at the bottom of the temple hill have been closed due to bed rock, bed rock and more bedrock. Thus we moved up towards the bathhouse mosaic and opened a number of trenches hoping to find something between the mosaic and the temple hill. No luck… less than 20cm down we hit bedrock again and earned ourselves the nicknames of the bedrock queens. If people think that archaeology is all amazing finds or at least finds, well it is, we find amazing amounts of dirt, stones and bedrock. With that we moved to open another trench onto of the temple but haven’t got far with it yet. So far I have found a modern 80’s cassette tape and more dirt.

Elsewhere on site the Turks have continued to uncover the mosaic and have almost finished uncovering the length of it close to the bathhouse wall. In the next week we will be working on cleaning it so look out for photos in the news and on facebook. The Clark University team have also completed work on the blocks in the block field up by the main temple complex on site and have now moved down to work with us in the agora. They have opened a trench to the North of the temple and are currently learning that archaeology involves roots and spikey branches, and hitting rocks with mattocks which sends vibrations right up your arms, a horrible feeling. You can’t be a wimp if you want to do archaeology. On the bright side though they seem to be enjoying doing something different and their enthusiasm is spurring the others on who have by now got a little fed up of countless days of making mud pies. Also by the mosaic a block with face has become visible which could be the pediment over the entrance to part of the building.

Outside the site the students have had the opportunity to visit the site of Lamos which I wrote about last year. Check out previous blog entries.

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Fortress Wall at Alanya Castle

Some of us though opted to take the day in Alanya instead yesterday. The city of Alanya is an interesting one, a mix of modern tourist sights and archaeology and history. Alanya is based on the ancient city of Coracesium (in the Latin) from the Luvian word Korakassa meaning ‘protruding city’. The archaeology includes a large multiple period fortress and castle. The fortress contains 140 towers and is situated on a point that protrudes from the middle of the city. The end of the point also contains a small Byzantine church and buildings on the cliff furthest out. The Castle complex includes a number of huge cisterns and a well, barracks and another Byzantine church. The Castle also boasts the best view I have ever seen in Turkey. Amazing!

View from Castle
View from Castle

And thus we continue. Will hopefully be able to tell you more of what we have found soon. Have also discovered that Nutella goes brilliantly with pretzels…

Dig long and prosper!