Weekly Roundup of Archaeology, History and Historical Fiction Dec 31-Jan 6

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

Archaeologists in China have pushed back the beginnings of silk 4,000 years. They have developed a way to study soil from the 8,500 year old Neolithic tomb and prove that silk was present, although from biomolecular evidence. No gowns to show you. The question of when and where silk traveled into the rest of the world is a separate issue, but an interesting one. Kind of amazing to think of silk production in the context of Neolithic life. Human beings are ingenious. Click here for Archaeology News Network “Prehistoric Silk Found In Henan”

photo Aphrodite's Rock

Aphrodite’s Rock

This is a titillating BBC post on Paphos, Cyprus, which has been named a 2017 European Capital of Culture. Not bad for a touristy beach town! The post points out the designation comes from the ruins found in the vicinity—which are entirely worthy. Much is made in the post of the worship of Aphrodite and ritual prostitution that took place at the temple, whose very fragmentary ruins are there. The Roman ruins with their gorgeous mosaics are more impressive to look at, if less intriguing. The particular version of Aphrodite that was worshipped on Cyprus from early on owes a great deal to eastern goddesses such as Ishtar/Astarte, etc and not much with the Greek myths most people know, although you can see the rocks that cause the foam in the sea from which she rose (never mind that’s not the cause in the myth, but best for tourism to blame some scenic rocks). I love the layered-ness of Cyprus. Everything goes back and back far into prehistory. Romans banning a late version of ritual prostitution under Constantine is a positively modern event. I find it entirely possible to believe a goddess was born there. Click here for BBC “It was an ancient form of sex tourism”

A grave that symbolizes the womb and hence rebirth into the afterlife? The Egyptian pot burial—wherein the body is curled into a pot as a coffin—was considered the poor person’s solution, and primarily for children. But now archaeologists realize it was a choice made by the wealthy and is as common for adults as children. So the symbolism suggested itself as an interpretation. This style of burial was used elsewhere besides Egypt. What do you think? Click here for Science News “Ancient Egyptian Pot burials were not just for the poor”

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