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Maia Atlantis: Ancient World Blogs -

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  • 12/29/18--06:25: Severan Database Project
  • [First posted in AWOL 21 May 2013, updated 29 December 2018]

    Severan Database Project

    The Severan Database Project is a collection of three datasets containing historical evidence from the Severan Period (193-235).

    Repository File Structure:
    # Survey of coin hoards from the Severan Period

    # Inscriptions mentioning Julia Domna

    # Survey of 14 cities from Greece and Asia minor minting under the Severans

    Project Lead:Julie Langford
    Associate Professor of Roman History
    Department of History,
    University of South Florida

    Assistant:David J. Thomas,
    Instructor of Ancient History and Digital Humanities,
    Department of History,
    University of South Florida

    Graduate Assistant:
    Christina Hotalen

    This project was originally hosted at The university page has since been removed. This dataset is an open-source publication of the raw data from that original project.

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    Over in Twitterland, Dr-Ing. Rouven Meidlinger@planlaufterrain from Aachen, Germany posted for our delight and edification a colourful enhanced LIDAR-data flyover of a hill near his home that showed a wide range of surface features of sites of several periods, from a 'Celtic' hillfort, a Roman villa, Medieval watchtower to a WW2 bunker. There were photos of the sites at ground level and some rousing music. That is Germany where ordnung muss seine and generally is. Sadly, there is a country beyond the edge of continental European civilization where there is no ordnung in public life or archaeological ethics. On a little green island there are archaeologists who see themselves as no worse than their European counterparts but see things very differently. The British Portable Antiquities Scheme and Council for British Archaeology and most of the archaeological community as a whole - in my conviction completely wrongly, and damagingly - actively promote Collection-Driven Exploitation of the archaeological record as 'Citizen archaeology'/'Archaeology for All' respectively. I do what I can to try and challenge them to think these issues through with proper attention to the issues they are dodging (a bit like brexit 'leavers' really). I thought this video was a good vehicle for such a challenge:
    : and which one to head to first with those metal detectors, eh? There must be lots of "archaeology"there for totally untrained and acquisitive members of the public to find and get involved with, no? means not trashing it, surely.
    Now, if the Portable Antiquities Scheme saw that (which they did not because they consider reading my blog as 'beneath their dignity'), they'd not give a second thought to what it meant, let alone consider offering a public reply as part of their so-called 'public outreach' (who cares what the public think archaeology is all about anyway, eh, PAS?). The Council for British Archaeology would probably shy away from ever engaging in anything that smacks of controversy over artefact hunting. They generally do. And so the site pilfering goes on, the British public and lawmakers continue to have the wool pulled over their eyes by the complacent, cowering and passive British archaeological establishment who cannot make up their collective mind that the scandal has to STOP and are too scared to broach the topic in public.

    Over here on the Continent, we are going to fight the spread of this English disease. Most of us that is. There are some archaeological grant-money recipients in Ixelles and Helsinki who mouth the same fluff as the pro-collecting Brits and - like them - run a mile if you ask them to explain in more detail how what they say fits into the wider picture. But few people are convinced by their unconvincing Brit-bonkers arguments. So within minutes of me pointing out how the Brits with their short-sighted insular fascination with hoiking everything metal out now when they can would see that film, it's author reacted. Now, Germans are not given much to understanding the British sense of irony, so it seems Dr-Ing. Meidlinger took my tweet, aimed (it seems pretty clearly) to PAS and CBA and British archaeologists in general seriously. So he blocked me:

    Blocked! :>)
    Yep. I guess he mistook me for another advocate of Collection-Driven Exploitation of the archaeological record. It is a shame that he did not look into the context of that tweet (another illustration of the importance of context). Now, from what I can see, Dr-Ing. Meidlinger is not an archaeologist (I stand to be corrected on that point) but seems to have an amateur, rather than professional, interest in the past and he's produced some really nice and informative animations of ancient sites using the LIDAR data and the program it seems he is marketing. He is engaging with the past, learning about sites, localities, their history, how that fits into a wider narrative and getting his own personal insight into those pasts. In short everything the Bloomsbonkers lot say their 'metal detecting ["Citizen Archaeologist"] partners' are getting through Collection-Driven Exploitation of the archaeological record. But Dr-Ing. Meidlinger is not destroying anything. His interest in the past is non-intrusive, leaves the archaeological record intact. Why cannot Britain foster this kind of work?

    But what is going to happen is the Baz Thugwits of Britain when they find out about Dr-Ing. Meidlinger's program, they might decide to fork out their 250 Euros and buy one. What are they going to do with it? The PAS and CBA know full well what they are going to do with it. The Baz Thugwits are going to use it in the same way as they have been using publicly available LIDAR data for a few years now anyway. The Baz Thugwit version of 'citizen archaeology' (sic) is very much intrusive. In fact it is destructive. It involves spades and pockets.

    Although I do not think Dr-Ing. Meidlinger is an archaeologist, if he thought I really was advocating taking a metal detector to the lumps and bumps he documented, then he acted responsibly. He did what he did, I assume, to prevent damage being done to sites through Collection-Driven Exploitation of the Archaeological Record. I'd like to ask whether 2019 is the year when we can expect British archaeologists to act equally responsibly towards this damaging and exploitive hobby. Well, archaeologists, is it? Are you up to it?


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    A British farmer who built the first new long barrow tomb in the UK in more than 5,000 years has been told that he must pay thousands of pounds in...

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    Archaeologists have accused Highways England of accidentally drilling a large hole through a 6,000-year-old structure near Stonehenge during preparatory work for a tunnel. The drilling, which is alleged to have...

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    A newly-identified Recumbent Stone Circle has been recorded on a farm in Aberdeenshire (Scotland), in the parish of Leochel-Cushnie. Despite being a complete stone circle that has obviously been known...

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    A group of archaeologists and forensic researchers in the eastern German city of Halle, Saxony-Anhalt, announced that after reexamining the bones of the so-called 'Prince of Helmsdorf' they have concluded...

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    Archeologists have found remains belonging to a male baby born 5,700 years ago in an excavation in Argentina's Mendoza city. An archeological team from the Natural Science Department of the...

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  • 12/29/18--12:03: The Book of the Dead in 3D
  • The Book of the Dead in 3D

    Every image and piece of text has a purpose...

    Egyptian coffins are inscribed with spells and images which stand in for spells. All function together as a machine to resurrect the deceased and to guide them safely through the next world. Given this function, its perhaps surprising that the texts from coffins are usually published completely divorced from their position on the coffin. Any additional meaning conferred on the texts by their placement on the surrogate body or relative to each other and the vignettes is lost. In order to understand a coffin as a magical machine, it's necessary to view the spells in 3D so that this relationship can be taken into account.
    The aim of this project is to explore the relationship between texts and their positioning on a magical object through building annotated 3D models of coffins displaying the texts and translations.

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     [First posted in AWOL 28 February 2014, updated 29 December 2018]

    Abstracta Iranica

    Couverture Abstracta Iranica - Volume 32-33
    Revue de bibliographie sélective et critique pour le monde irano-aryen sur tous les aspects de la culture et de la civilisation iraniennes, des origines à nos jours

    A selective and critical bibliographical journal of Iranian studies, also covering Afghanistan and other areas relevant to Iranian culture

    چکیده‌های ایرانشناسی یک نشریه کتابشناسی گزیده و انتقادی است از پژوهشهای مربوط به همهً زمینه‌های فرهنگ و تمدن ایرانی‌ از آغاز تا امروز.

    Abstracta Iranica est une revue de bibliographie sélective et critique pour le monde irano-aryen ; elle rend compte des travaux concernant tous les aspects de la culture et de la civilisation iraniennes, des origines à nos jours.

    Les travaux présentés dans Abstracta Iranica sont sélectionnés parmi les publications de l’année précédente, et présentés par des chercheurs.

    Les auteurs et maisons d’édition sont invités à adresser à la Rédaction les ouvrages et tirés-à-part des articles destinés à faire l’objet d’un compte rendu dans la revue.

    Numéros ouverts

    Notes de la rédactionCe numéro triple d'Abstracta Iranica 37-38-39 s'ouvre quelques mois après la clôture du numéro triple 34-35-36.
    Ce nouveau numéro, qui recense les publications de 2014-2015-2016, est comme le précédent un numéro « ouvert » présentant les recensions reçues depuis plusieurs mois et il restera ouvert jusqu'en décembre 2018, date à laquelle démarrera le numéro suivant. Nous espérons ainsi retrouver notre rythme habituel de publications des recensions en résorbant le retard imposé par des éléménts externes et internes à la revue.
    Dorénavant, le principe de numéro « ouvert » reste valable pour tous les numéros futures et la mise en ligne sera opérée plusieurs fois par an, par paquet de 100 à 200 comptes rendus. De la sorte les recensions adressées par les contributeurs seront disponibles en ligne quelques mois plus tard.
    Plus de visibilité et une plus grande rapidité et, par conséquent, une meilleure diffusion devraient refaire d'Abstracta Iranica une référence indispensable de l'information et de la critique de l'ensemble des publications sur le monde iranien.
    Rémy Boucharlat - Directeur
    Poupak Rafii Nejad - Secrétaire de rédaction

    Numéro ouvert le 10/03/2018
    Première mise en ligne : 10 mars 2018
    Deuxième mis en ligne : 30 décembre 2018

    Numéros en texte intégral

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    [First posted in AWOL 16 December 2009. Updated 29 December 2018]

    Préhistoires méditerranéennes
    ISSN électronique: 2105-2565
    Préhistoires méditerranéennes est une revue bilingue multi-supports à comité de lecture (prend la suite de Préhistoire Anthropologie Méditerranéenne). Elle accueille toute contribution originale sur la préhistoire des espaces méditerranéens. La revue publie, en flux continu, des contributions au format électronique, regroupées chaque année dans une édition papier. Elle propose, en outre, sous la forme de suppléments, des numéros thématiques. Préhistoires méditerranéennes se veut un espace de débats d'idées ; elle souhaite mettre à disposition des auteurs et des lecteurs une tribune de publication contradictoire — suscitée ou sollicitée — permettant la discussion scientifique autour des articles retenus.

    Numéros en texte intégral


    Ancienne série

    Préhistoires de la méditerranée

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    Donna Zuckerberg, Not All Dead White Men: Classics and Misogyny in the Digital Age, Cambridge (MA), 2018.

    Éditeur : Harvard University Press
    288 pages
    ISBN : 9780674975552
    27,95 $


    A virulent strain of antifeminism is thriving online that treats women's empowerment as a mortal threat to men and to the integrity of Western civilization. Its proponents cite ancient Greek and Latin texts to support their claims—arguing that they articulate a model of masculinity that sustained generations but is now under siege.
    Donna Zuckerberg dives deep into the virtual communities of the far right, where men lament their loss of power and privilege and strategize about how to reclaim them. She finds, mixed in with weightlifting tips and misogynistic vitriol, the words of the Stoics deployed to support an ideal vision of masculine life. On other sites, pickup artists quote Ovid's Ars Amatoria to justify ignoring women's boundaries. By appropriating the Classics, these men lend a veneer of intellectual authority and ancient wisdom to their project of patriarchal white supremacy. In defense or retaliation, feminists have also taken up the Classics online, to counter the sanctioning of violence against women.
    Not All Dead White Men reveals that some of the most controversial and consequential debates about the legacy of the ancients are raging not in universities but online.

    Lire la suite...

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    Team MD?
    Heritage Action have a question for the UK's archaeologists and all thinking members of the public who (actually do) care for the remains of the past and what, properly used, they can tell all of us and future generations: 'Metal detecting: which team will YOU support in 2019? (HJ 28th Dec 2018).

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    I would have titled this post “I can hardly imagine Leviticus in The Good Place” but I wasn’t sure that readers would immediately pick up on the movie/song reference. This post emerges out of thoughts I’ve had recently related to the TV show The Good Place and the movie I Can Only Imagine. The initial prompting in the direction […]

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    The FLOs continue their predictable artefactual dumbdown in the post-Christmas social media as we head towards a new year. The Durham incumbent follows suit with a twitter post joyfully showcasing an artefact temporarily on his desk:  'A ferry token issued by the River Wear Commissioners in c.1900. The ferry crossed the River Wear at Sunderland, between Bodlewell Lane (pictured below) an Monkwearmouth for over 250 years until the closure of the route in 1957'. So we have a picture of a round disc with writing on it and an historical engraving showing some waterfront lane with steps and some folk history taken from a local website. To my mind this is another example of how the PAS presents to the public loose artefacts as illustrations of history, ignoring their function as components of archaeological evidence. So, I wrote that. I asked for clarification: is this archaeological outreach, or using objects to illustrate history? In what way can the object recorded here on a database be used for proper archaeological research?'

    The FLO glibly replied 'this token is material evidence of past human activity recovered from an archaeological context, from a historical period for which we also have documentary and pictorial evidence to complement the archaeological record'. But no archaeological record is represented anywhere in the social media post or database record. Both are typical examples of 'scissors and paste' show-and-tell. As I said, the artefact is used as a passive illustration, rather than actively used as a source. We are shown a piece of metal found loose in a field 100 km away from the ferry crossing. How and when it got there are unknown, what it can tell us about that ferry, or anything else is negligible. But it can be used so the finds volunteer can entertain herself by looking it up in the existing literature and telling us what she found out. Show-and-tell.

    As for my comment about it being used as an illustration, we got a tantalising glimpse into the FLO mindset and approach to archaeological inference in the next comment:

    But don't all archaeological finds have that dual purpose, both illustrating the archaeological record and being sources in their own right? I don't necessarily see a conflict here.
    Archaeological finds comprise part of the archaeological record, they do not 'illustrate' it. It is the job of the PAS to turn loose objects into a component of the archaeological record, not merely illustrate it. The latter is what coin collectors do. And indeed if you search eBay or coin collecting websites, you'll find more of these tokens with exactly the same kind of narrativisation about what they were, where they were used as the Durham FLO offers us. Here the PAS merely duplicates what is already online on coiney websites. Again, that is not the function the PAS was set up to serve. 

    The FLO says he sees 'no conflict' between the collection-driven approach and the archaeological one to artefacts. I do. What he says begs the question of what for an FLO 'the archaeological record' actually is? What constitutes it? And when is a pile of loose things not archaeology? Is the George Ortiz Collection (or Christian Levett's private museum in Mougins) 'archaeology' for the FLO? Addressing that gets him even deeper into the object-centred swamp.

    For me personally, the archaeological record is everything that has gone before, whether a bronze age burnt mound or a 1960s concrete park bench, 1970s plastic cotton reel or Neolithic flint scraper (Not to say I don't find some things more interesting than others)
    When  I said that he'd not answered the question posed, was just talking of 'things' and pressed further I asked: 'What makes a record a record? Just "being old and there"? Is an antique shop or car boot sale also 'the archaeological record', the subject of archaeological research and conservation protection?' I got a rather surprising reply:
    'Being old and being there' is a pretty good description of the archaeological record. And yes, it's possible (but not always the case) that boot sales and antique shops may be part of that record. Context, as ever, is key.
    'Being old and being there' is William Camden and Jonathan Oldbuck. Frankly, I do not see a box of loose metal items in a car boot as any kind of context that would allow the use of those items (the box, its contents and the vehicle) as any meaningful  'archaeological record' at all that would tell us about the sites those artefacts were randomly ripped from and mixed in that box. I doubt (hope) that the Durham FLO does not either and that he's not entering data onto the database with that kind of pseudo-context. 

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  • 12/30/18--03:04: A day in the life at a dig
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    Gemma Ryall is really excited by archaeological destruction, she joyfully reports on it going on ('Metal detecting helps increase treasure finds in Wales' BBC News 30 April 2017).
    The number of people finding treasure in Wales is increasing as metal detecting becomes a more popular pastime, archaeologists have said. National Museum Wales experts said they had seen a year-on-year rise in precious items reported, such as Bronze Age and mediaeval artefacts.
    That's the short-term view, propagated by the Portable Antiquities Scheme, the rest of us wonder where this is all leading and what effects there are not only on teh archaeological record, but also public perceptions of archaeology and the broader study of the past. 

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    Scholars in Press: An Interview with Chip Hardy

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