Weekly Roundup of Archaeology and History August 26-Sept 1

Here are some posts I enjoyed this week:

image Uffington White Horse photo by Dave Price Wikimedia Commons

Uffington White Horse photo by Dave Price Wikimedia Commons

In Greek mythology the sun is drawn across the sky in a chariot, a dangerous job for anyone but the sun god to accomplish as one mortal son of the sun found out. Apparently the idea of horses and chariots pulling the sun across the sky is fairly universal to Indo-European cultures and sun chariots with horses are found in Scandinavia and elsewhere. Now an archaeologist says the Uffington White Horse, a 360 foot wide horse carved into a chalk cliff in England, is part of this same tradition, a sun horse. No one could figure out why this mysterious prehistoric geoglyph was best viewed from the sky—where none of its Late Bronze Age creators could go. But apparently if you position yourself on the hill opposite, the sun arises behind the horse and seems to gain on the horse during the day and pass it at the end. The horse appears to gallop along the ridge in a westerly direction toward the sunset. So the Uffington White Horse is actually The Sun Horse. Isn’t mythology a wonderful thing? Another remarkable fact about this horse. Given a couple years of neglect and the horse would disappear. Amazingly, for the last 3,000 years of the horse’s existence, the people living around it have felt drawn enough to this feature to keep it weeded and lay new chalk down to preserve its white color. Even today. Doesn’t that put a smile on your face? Click here for Archaeology Magazine “Prehistoric Uffington White Horse”

image Angkor wat photo by Maksim Wikimedia Commons

Angkor wat photo by Maksim Wikimedia Commons

Upcoming AIA Lecture: Looking Beyond the Temples: Exploring the Residences of the Ancient Angkorians

Speaker: Allison Carter, University of Oregon

When and Where: Thursday, September 14, 2017 at 6pm, Benedictine University Community Room, 225 E. Main Street, Mesa AZ

Angkor, centered in the modern nation of Cambodia, was one of the largest preindustrial settlements in the world and has been the focus of more than a century of epigraphic, art historical, and architectural research. However, few scholars have examined the lives of the people who built the temples, kept the shrines running, produced the food, and managed the water. This presentation will focus on my recent work with the Greater Angkor Project examining Angkorian habitation areas and specifically the excavation of a house mound within the Angkor Wat temple enclosure. Through this multidisciplinary research, we aim to better understand the nature and timing of occupation within the Angkor Wat temple enclosure and the types of activities taking place within an Angkorian household.

Click here for more information: AIA Central Arizona Society Upcoming Lecture

image Temple of Zeus Nemea (not Mycenaean), photo by G Da Wikimedia Commons

Temple of Zeus Nemea (not Mycenaean), photo by G Da Wikimedia Commons

The continuing dig at ancient Nemea in Greece has uncovered new Mycenaean monumental chamber tombs with unlooted grave offerings, such as daggers with handles covered in gold foil and floral decorated ceramic wine jars. The finds are encouraging because looters systematically stripped this site in the 1970s and 80s. The stolen antiquities ended up in the international market and in 1993 Greece won a victory when many of the stolen items were repatriated and a museum was set up at the site. But the new finds are especially valuable as they were located under undisturbed later occupation layers, and hence the overall history of the site could be reconstructed and the context of the finds identified in detail. This site in the modern village of Aidonia is filling in needed understanding of the transitions within the Mycenaean period and after as Greece shifted from centralized kingdoms to city-states. Click here for Archaeology News Network “New Mycenaean tombs discovered in Nemea excavations”


Habu Temple, Pharaoh crushing captives, photo by Morgana

Habu Temple, Pharaoh crushing captives, photo by Morgana

Egyptian Pharaohs were gods who crushed their enemies beneath their feet. This is regularly depicted on their monuments and, as this ASOR blog post points out, in places in the throne room where a visiting Hittite would see it and be warned as they prostrated themselves before Pharaoh, carved and painted around the base of the dais lifting up the throne, for example. But the Egyptians also put such images on the insides of Pharaoh’s sandals and arms of his chair because they believed that by sympathetic magic he did crush his enemies and thus kept order in the world (foreigners equaled chaos). I’m thinking a certain contemporary President would love to be depicted stomping on captives and come to think of it, he thinks foreigners equal chaos, also. History does repeat itself. Click here for ASOR blog “The Pharaoh’s Magic – Imagery and Diplomacy in the Late Bronze Age”


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