Weekly Roundup of Archaeology, History and Historical Fiction August 20-26

Here are posts I enjoyed this week from around the web:

Hala Sultan Tekke surrounding geography

Hala Sultan Tekke the day we went to see the site

I posted about these amazing finds on Cyprus at Hala Sultan Tekke before, but the photos here are excellent and more details. This was such a desolate, wind scoured site when my husband and I visited, I’m having trouble imaging the burgeoning city that must once have been there. Today it’s salt flats and dust. But I’ll work on it. Just a failure of imagination. Click here for Heritage Daily “Sensational Grave Find in Cypriote Bronze Age City


Olympic cycling is all done, but I just found this post on Olympian cycling and it’s amusing. Adapting historical bikes to the correct Olympian god. Given my husband’s bicycling focus, it caught my eye. The writer of the post is Edith Hall, classicist at London University. For more serious information from her see her book Introducing the Ancient Greeks. Click here for “Olympian not Olympic Cycling” 

Samsum Museum Roman mosaic of Achilles & Thetis--Dionysius

Different mosaic of Poseidon fr northern Turkey in the Samsum Museum. Lots of Roman mosaics all over Turkey

Roman mosaic of Poseidon found in a frigidarium in the ancient city of Aigai in the Adana area of Turkey. Dates to 3rd or 4th century AD (positively modern compared to what I work on in Turkey). Below it are Greek words saying, “Greetings to all of you bathing.” The city was a naval base for the Romans and a center of Asclepius, the god of healing. All around this southern area of Turkey mosaics have been uncovered. There’s a large museum of them and many more still in position at sites. Click here for “Poseidon Mosaic found in Central Turkey” in Archaeology News Network

Synagogue in Galilee dating to Second Temple period (1st century AD) found. The synagogue is laid out in the manner used before the destruction of the temple, that is benches around the room facing the center for someone to give a sermon or read Torah (no ark, no east facing). The site is a large Jewish agricultural estate and the synagogue appears to have been built to serve the needs of the family and workers because they were too far from the city to use the synagogue there. The archaeologists guess the site was abandoned before it brought the attention of Roman soldiers after the Bar Kokhba rebellion and hence escaped destruction and thus remains to be excavated in a fairly whole state. For those interested in a historical understanding of Jesus, this find shows the type of synagogue in which he is said to have preached around the Galilee area. For Jews it provides a window into Jewish practices before the key transformation of Judaism with the destruction of the Temple. Click here for “Ancient Synagogue Discovered in Galilee” on Ynet.news

Hattusa defensive tunnel

Hattusa defensive tunnel

A “secret” tunnel underneath a sanctuary found in Alacahöyük, one of the oldest digs in Turkey (begun in 1907) which shows extensive occupation in the earliest Anatolian periods (well before the Hittites) and continues through at least the Bronze Age. They are saying the tunnel is 2300 years old, dating to Hittite period and they found a cuneiform tablet in it with instructions by the king to priests on a religious ceremony. They have not dug out the whole length of the tunnel and it isn’t clear to me where they think it connects to or leads out to, if they’ve even made some guesses yet. Tunnels are a distinctive feature at the capital of Hattusa (which, for some reason, the title of this article incorrectly says this find is) and it isn’t surprising to find them in use elsewhere. The main one I’ve walked through at Hattusa pretty clearly was a defensive feature in and out of the city—a controllable access point. You could definitely kill any invaders one by one as they came through with high walls above to keep out the main force. This new tunnel in Alacahöyük sounds like an internal connecting tunnel, but I don’t have a clear sense of its location. Perhaps connecting the royal family’s spaces to the sanctuary. The Great King had many religious duties to perform and quick, private access would make sense. We have records of the Hittite kings interrupting military campaigns to get back to the heartland of the Empire to perform their religious functions at festivals etc. Have to keep the gods on your side. Clear set of priorities, those Hittites. It’s an interesting mindset to write within.Click here for “Secret Tunnel found” Archaeology News Network


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