Here are some posts I enjoyed this week:
“There is a distinct human phenomenon in ancient Near Eastern history: persons who were born males, but under various social and historical circumstances their masculine identity was considered to be ambiguous. These persons can be classified as belonging to a third gender.” This is the opening of an ASOR blog post on Gendered Otherness in the Ancient Near East. It asserts that defining an otherness in gender was part of the assertion of control by the “hegemonic” men, that is, the men in political control. I find some parts of this discussion less clarifying than would be my preference, but still interesting. Given all the current discussions, good to examine historical attitudes. I suspect no ancient Near Eastern gave a darn about which bathroom anyone used… Click here for ASOR blog “Masculinities and Third Gender: Gendered Otherness in the Ancient Near East”
An unexpected, huge Roman era gate found at Beit She’arim in Northern Israel. This is the town where the Sanhedrin met. It was a fairly small town and no one expected major fortifications. So now the question arises, why? Was it a Roman fortress, unbeknownst to modern historians? Did the locals have enough wealth that they decided to invest in security? There is some irony to the puzzlement about this monumental gate—Beit She’arim means House of the Gates. So maybe the residents knew something. Click here for Archaeology News Network “Remains of Roman era gate discovered at Israel’s Beit She’arim”
Upcoming Lecture: ISIS and Crowdsourcing Cyber Archaeology
Title: Crowdsourced Monitoring of Damage to Archaeological Sites in Conflict Zones: The TerraWatchers – ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiative Collaboration.
Speaker: Stephen H. Savage, Arizona State University
When and Where: Thursday, March 23, 6pm, ASU Tempe Campus, Coor Hall Room L1-10
Link below for directions and other details
The deliberate looting and destruction of archaeological sites and museum objects by ISIS has been widely reported by western media, and widely condemned by political leaders and academics. The world watched in sorrow as the Temple of Bel at Palmyra was blown up two years ago; before that, we witnessed the deliberate destruction of priceless materials from the Mosul Museum. Widespread looting of ancient sites has flooded the illegal antiquities market with objects whose sale helps fund ISIS and other groups. While the West has mostly focused on these and other acts of deliberate destruction, the collateral damage to archaeological sites caused by military activity in the region has generally gone unnoticed or under-reported. The American Schools of Oriental Research created their Cultural Heritage Initiative with funding from the U.S. Department of State in order to monitor damage to sites caused by these activities. But the job is so big, with so many sites to examine, that ASOR could not do it without help. A crowdsourced solution to the monitoring problem was required, and the TerraWatchers web platform provided a solution. With the assistance of a Catalyst grant from the Office of the President of the University of California system, TerraWatchers is working with the Center for Cyber-Archaeology & Sustainability, at Qualcomm Institute, University of California, San Diego to train and supervise students from UCSD, UC Berkeley, UC Merced, and UCLA to monitor nearly 11,000 sites in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. The results of the TerraWatchers mission are reported back to ASOR and the State Department, and through them, to international law enforcement agencies. This presentation will explore some of the results of our ongoing efforts.
Stephen H. Savage has worked in the Near East for nearly 40 years, including fieldwork in Jordan, Israel and Egypt. He received his Ph.D. in Anthropology/Archaeology from Arizona State University (ASU) in 1995. At ASU, he was an Affiliated Professor in the School of Human Evolution & Social Change, IT Manager for the Archaeological Research Institute and a Scientific Software Engineer for the Institute for Humanities Research. He develops large-scale archaeological and GIS database applications for a variety of platforms, including the Digital Archaeological Atlas of the Holy Land, the Aegean Digital Archaeological Atlas, and the Mediterranean Archaeological Network. He is the author of the TerraWatchers web platform for crowdsourced satellite image analysis.
My writing friend and mentor, Marylee MacDonald, is a guest way down under on Clancy Tucker’s blog. On the writer’s life, life getting in the way and not, raising a hammer and children, writing literary fiction. Click here for Clancy Tucker’s blog “Marylee MacDonald Guest”
A 4000 sq ft bathroom complete with cold dip, warm and hot rooms? In northwest France? Sound like a luxury resort? It was, kind of. A wealthy Roman family’s retreat in the countryside. I guess living in the “provinces” wasn’t bad. These days as we think about the gaps between the lifestyles of the extremely wealthy and the vast majority of the rest of us, it’s interesting to see the layout of this “bath complex” all for one family. It looks a lot like the public baths in Rome from similar time frames. Click here for Archaeology Magazine “From the trenches Bathing Ancient Roman Style”