Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ancient History & Archeology Roundup

"The Inca Empire," National Geographic (May 2011)

See the extent of the Inca Empire in this interactive map.>>>

Melik Kaylan, "Rare Objects, Rarer Practices," Wall Street Journal, May 5, 2011

Great archaeological finds accrue history and tell fresh stories long after they're snugly ensconced in museums, not least because, as times change, the world asks new questions about ancient cultures and archaeology itself. Were the excavators heroes or looters? Did they, on balance, preserve or harm the site? Do we now approve of the site's original inhabitants—how did they treat their women or minorities? Can we garner any tips on how we might live today? The splendidly informative "Dura-Europos" show at the Boston College McMullen Museum touches on many such matters with dexterity—but it also lets us enjoy the old-fashioned delights of peering across the millennia in wonder.>>>

Megan Gambino, "What Secrets Do Ancient Medical Texts Hold?" Smithsonian (May 2011)

In 2002, Alain Touwaide came across an article about the discovery, some years before, of a medical kit salvaged from a 2,000-year-old shipwreck off the coast of Tuscany. Divers had brought up a copper bleeding cup, a surgical hook, a mortar, vials and tin containers. Miraculously, inside one of the tins, still dry and intact, were several tablets, gray-green in color and about the size of a quarter.

Touwaide, a science historian in the botany department at the National Museum of Natural History, recognized that the tablets were the only known samples of medicine preserved since antiquity. “I was going to do everything I could to get them,” he says.>>>

Peter Thonemann, "The Messiah codex decoded," TLS, April 6, 2011

"Are Lead Tablets Discovered in a Remote Cave in Jordan the Secret Writings About the Last Years of Jesus?” the Daily Mail wondered. “A group of 70 or so ‘books’, each with between five and 15 lead leaves bound by lead rings, was apparently discovered in a remote arid valley in northern Jordan somewhere between 2005 and 2007 . . . . They could, just possibly, change our understanding of how Jesus was crucified and resurrected, and how Christianity was born”: thus the BBC’s religious affairs correspondent. “Containing cryptic messages in Hebrew and Ancient Greek, the codices were etched in an indecipherable code”, added the Daily Telegraph. “Academics speculate that they are actually the lost collection of codices mentioned in the Bible’s Book Of Revelation . . . [they] appear to refer to the Messiah and possibly even to the Crucifixion and Resurrection”: the Mail again.>>>

"The 'Clash' At Marathon Shaped Greece, And The West," NPR, April 25, 2011

At the start of the fifth century B.C., the Persian empire was the world's paramount power, stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to North Africa to the Indian subcontinent. But the Persian emperor, King Darius, did not control Athens — and defeating its much smaller army seemed a relatively small matter.

In September of 490 B.C., Persian troops advanced on 10,000 vastly outnumbered Greek soldiers on the Plain of Marathon. But the Greeks managed to crush the Persian army that day and, as the story goes, ran all the way home to preserve their victory.>>>

1 comment:

hcr said...

This is great. BTW, I saw the Dura-Europos exhibit after a classist friend told me I had to, even if I'd never heard of Dura-Europos, and she was right. (If anyone in the Boston area is interested, BC has fairly cheap public parking nearby, so it's easier to get to than you would think.)

The incredible importance of the site, though-- shown through the artifacts-- did beg the question of why I had never heard of the place before. I've toyed with the idea of doing a post here about the city that teachers could use as a jumping off place. But it would be a real neophyte job. Any classicists out there want to give it a try?