Weekly Roundup of Archaeology and History Sept 9-15

Here are some posts I enjoyed this past week:

Here’s a resource for writers and readers that may come in handy, a searchable list of Best Book Review Blogs of 2017 by Reedsy. I found out about this from Jane Friedman’s blog Electric Speed, which is a strong recommendation source. Click here for Reedsy “Best Book Review Blogs of 2017”

A new tomb find in Egypt of a goldsmith and his wife’s tomb roughly from the 21st/22nd dynasty period, 3,500 years ago. Statues of the two as well as mummies and a funerary mask, have been found, as other piles of skeletons and pottery. This isn’t the most impressive find the authorities admit, but Egypt’s Antiquities Minister wants everyone to hear about it and “make people want to come to Egypt.” Tourism has been a tough sell in Egypt, lately. I do sympathize. And the funerary mask is lovely. Click here for Archaeology News Network “3,500 year old tomb discovered in Draa Abul Naga necropolis on Luxor’s west bank”

Close up of Hittite cuneiform writing on clay tablet, photo by J. David Hawkins Wikimedia

Close up of Hittite cuneiform writing on clay tablet, photo by J. David Hawkins Wikimedia Commons

Kültepe, an archaeological site in central Turkey, has, over the 70 years the dig has been under excavation, revealed over 23,000 clay tablets dating back 4,000 years to the earliest appearance of writing in Anatolia during the Assyrian Trade Colonies. There are children’s practice tablets among the collection, which means a school of some sort and local transmission of the skill, which was originally brought in from the east. I’m not sure why this article sees this as new news, it’s quite old news, but it’s fascinating news. The Turkish government is fond of pushing their ancient sites for tourism—just as I was mentioning about Egypt in the post just before this—so I guess the big collection and its venerable pedigree make for worthy news even if no new discovery has been made. Click here for Archaeology News Network “4,000 year old clay tablets discovered in central Turkey”

German archaeologists working in the Jordan Valley found a 7,000 year old, 20 centimeter tall model of a grain silo. At the same site, large grain silos have also been found. The model implies a ritual, especially as it was found broken in a central location between silos. Being able to store food is power—political and economic—and marks a huge step in human development. So this model silo has an outsize significance as a marker of this big human jump. Looking at the model, I confess I might not have identified it for what they say it is. The clay balls at the top look more like grapes than grain to me, but I’ll accept their interpretation. The find context helped. Click here for Archaeology News Network “7,200 year old ‘unusual pottery vessel’ unearthed in Israel”

A dromos (entry) into a Mycenaean chamber tomb at Dendra (not this new one)

A dromos (entry) into a Mycenaean chamber tomb at Dendra (not this new one)

Another amazing Mycenaean rock-cut, chamber tomb find. Near ancient Orchomenos in Boetia, central Greece. Orchomenos was a major power center in the 14th and 13th centuries BCE. It’s the largest of its kind to have been found in Greece. Tomb 2 has only one burial, unusual in these tombs which are often reused. This means that all the items in that tomb, and there is an abundance, are certain to be associated with those human remains. So, for example, the fact that there is jewelry and the skeleton is male, 40 to 50 years old, contradicts the long-standing view that all jewelry in tombs should be assumed to be associated with the female remains (easy to see where that assumption came from and why it is silly). One of the finds are horse bits. That may not sound so exciting to you, but I’ve spent so much time trying to accurately figure out how these guys used horses, so I think that particular pile of metal—so clearly horse bits that even I can recognize it—is pretty amazing. There are also stemmed drinking cups, called kylixes, and stirrup jars that would have held aromatic oils. I bet someone wanted to claim only women used aromatic oils while bathing, also. That we know isn’t true. Universal bathing element among the rich. Roses and cedar are two “scents” I know about from Mycenaean times. The study of the contents of this tomb has just begun. While I bet this was a pretty incredible dig to be working on this past summer, I will point out the stats this article includes, to remind us of the hard, careful labor that is archaeology, in 4700 “episodes” they sieved all 75 cubic meters of soil excavated from the tomb’s dromos (entry hall) and chamber. That’s a lot of sieving. Boggles the mind. Remember it’s hot in Greece in the summer. Click here for British School in Athens “Major Archaeological Discovery Near Orchomenos in Boeotia Central Greece”


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