Weekly Roundup of Archaeology, History and Historical Fiction Dec 17-23

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

We all know that purple is the color of kings and queens. Many of you may also know that connection comes from the use of that color by Roman emperors. If you’re very clever you even know that the association between reddish purple and regal arises from a shellfish. The dye came from these small critters in tiny, labor-intensive amounts, hence its great value and hence the color of the Head Honcho. Now it turns out global warming has taken Mediterranean temperatures beyond the shellfish’s tolerance and they have disappeared forever. No more Roman Emperors, folks. That may not be the last item to go…. Click here for “Ancient Shellfish used for purple dye vanishes from eastern Mediterranean” on Archaeology News Network 

Clarification from lead archaeologists of “Lost Greek City” The archaeologists were alarmed at the idea that people thought they’d found never before seen ruins near Vlochos. They didn’t. Their work has changed the dating and understanding of the significance of the site. The fortification walls etc have been seen and registered for a long time. I understood that from the write up I read. But switching from very late ruins (Roman or Medieval) to Classical seemed pretty darn big news to me given that we didn’t think anything important was in that part of Greece in the Classical period and so it seemed to me to warrant a switch from Lost to Found City. But that evening, my husband quite intelligently expressed surprise that the walls hadn’t been seen before (he has been dragged to a lot of such sites and noted from the aerial shots that these were highly visible), so obviously I was as guilty in my write up as others. Just wanted to pass on an accurate assessment. Click here for “Lost Ancient City” discovered 200 years ago say Greek Archaeologists” on Archaeology News Network  

A rare Late Bronze Age find (1,500-1,200 BC) in Macedonia of a bronze diadem tells what I imagine was a sad story. The precious jewelry was found on the body of a girl 6-7 years old. The diadem must have been designed for an adult since it was wrapped twice around the little girl’s head. She also had a carnelian necklace, 2 bronze belts and many other jewels. Some wealthy family was crushed by grief, I think. Isn’t that the story you hear? Click here for “Late Bronze Age Grave of young girl wearing elaborate diadem found in northern Greece” on Archaeology News Network

Here’s an enjoyable article via the BBC about the ancient myths and mythical creatures that Rowling borrowed and adapted in constructing Harry Potter’s world. The best fantasy always seems to pull from the details of history. Interesting that a few of her borrowings underwent some major desexualizing. She was writing for youth, but the ancient myths did not have that concern at all. Click here for BBC “The Myths and Folktales behind Harry Potter”




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