Saturday, June 22, 2013

Special Exhibit in Pittsburgh

Information about the early history of Saudi Arabia is hard to come by. Not a lot of archaeological work has been done there and publications are few and far between.

The Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh has a special exhibit right now of some artifacts from Saudi Arabia. I have not seen it, but will be in Pittsburgh in a couple of weeks. If I can get to it, I will publish a write up to let you know what I see.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Looting Continues

     The governmental chaos in Egypt, as we have mentioned before, is leading to massive looting of archaeological sites. Take a look at this article to see just one example of what is going on. And do look at the slide show for some truly grim photos of scattered bones and pits dug into ancient cemeteries.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The "Dolphin Vase"

     I am not usually all that interested in pottery, but there is one vessel in the Metropolitan Museum's collection that is really interesting.

     The so-called "Dolphin Vase" was found at Lisht and may date to the Thirteenth Dynasty. Its origin has been debated for many years, with many Egyptologists suggesting that it may have been influenced by Aegean art. Others point to the decoration's resemblance to Tell el-Yahudiya ware and suggest an origin in the Levant.

     The vase shows three dolphins along the its lower part, with a number of birds (geese?) above the dolphins. It has been pointed out (McGovern, Patrick, et. al., "The Archaeological Origin and Significance of the Dolphin Vase as Determined by Neutron Activation Analysis", Bulletin of the American School of Oriental Research, No. 26 (Nov. 1994), pp. 31-43) that the birds have no parallels on Crete, which would also argue against this vase being influenced by Aegean art. The piriform shape of the vessel is a common shape for pottery made in the Levant during this time period.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Child Abuse in the Ancient Near East

Sadly, child abuse has gone on in all human societies since the beginning of time.

The first known case of child abuse in ancient Egypt was discovered recently when the body of a child was examined and found to have multiple broken bones that had clearly happened at different times.

We also know from Hammurabi's Law Code that daughters were mistreated by their own fathers. Law 154 states that a father will be banished from his city for having sex with his daughter, and laws 155 and 156 provide for punishment of men who have relations with their daughter-in-law.

While we often view ancient civilizations through their artwork and monuments, we should not forget that these civilizations were made up of many people who had the same positive, and negative, behaviors as people today. Some things have not changed throughout human history.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Festival Hall of Tuthmose III

Figure 1 - Festival Hall of Tuthmose III
     The Eighteenth Dynasty Pharaoh Tuthmose III was remembered for hundreds of years after his death as one of Egypt's greatest kings. He built extensively at Karnak Temple where he erected obelisks and wrote the tale of his conquests in the Levant. He also constructed one of the most unique buildings ever erected in Egypt, the Festival Hall of Karnak.

     The Festival Hall was built as part of the celebration of Tuthmose's Heb-Sed festival. This festival was first celebrated after the King had been on the throne for thirty years, and was then celebrated every few years after that. The building in Karnak that the Pharaoh erected to celebrate his Heb-Sed is designed to look like a giant tent made of stone. The building has an "awning" on the outside and the columns that support the roof have "upside down" capitals that seem to be imitations of the poles used to support a tent. Possibly this is an echo in stone of the tents that Tuthmose lived in during his many military campaigns.
Figure 2 - Tulips(?) from the Court Behind the Festival Hall

     Behind the Festival Hall is a court where the Pharaoh had depicted some of the plants he saw during his campaigns, plants that did not exist in Egypt. See figure two for a depiction of what looks like tulips.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Howard Carter's Classic now an E-Book

The first volume of Howard Carter's classic Tomb of Tut.Ankh.Amen is now available as an ebook. The book has been converted to a Kindle edition which I read on an iPad with the Kindle app. The book is formatted cleanly, looks good on the screen and is easy to read.

The photos in the book are sharp and look as good on the screen as they do in the original printed edition of the book. My only complaint is that not all of the photos that were originally in the book are in this edition.

It is great to finally have this classic work available on an e-reader.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Looting Continues in Egypt

The current chaos in Egypt is being exploited by thieves who are stealing Egypt's cultural heritage for their own gain. Another article on the web highlights some of the concerns. This time the thievery has extended to the Moslem heritage of the country. One odd thing about this article is that, although it covers the looting of Egypt's Moslem heritage, it includes photos of Djoser's step-pyramid.

One can only hope that the looters are caught and prosecuted for their crimes.