Weekly Roundup of Archaeology, History and Historical Fiction Feb 4-10

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

image Garum amphora mosaic from Pompeii, yes even on their wall art

Garum amphora mosaic from Pompeii, yes even on their wall art

The Roman obsession for fermented fish sauce (garum as the Romans called it) wins again. A shipwreck buried under 2,000 clay amphorae that once held garum has been found near the southern coast of Mallorca. It dates to 3rd or 4th C BC. Once they look under all those clay storage jars, I’m sure they’ll find lots of fascinating stuff, but meanwhile… Somehow I would have been seriously bummed to sink under stinky fish sauce. But I guess I’d have been bummed to drown no matter what was on board. What contemporary craze is comparable to the garum fetish? Click here for Archaeology News Network “1,800 year old Roman shipwreck found off Spain’s Balearic Islands”

A new Egyptian tomb has been discovered. A private one, of a royal scribe from the Ramesside period. One wall painting shows the scribe accompanied by other people. Another wall painting depicts the wooden ship of the sun god accompanied by four baboons. I think being accompanied by baboons might make for a much more exciting day than I usually have. Maybe I’ll try to convince some that I’m a divinity and they should walk around on their hind legs in adoration. Or maybe not… I think my manuscript is confused enough without further assistance by baboons. Click here for Archaeology News Network “Royal Scribe Tomb Found in Luxor”

This is a great archaeology project that anyone can participate in from his or her own desk. Here’s a snippet from the GlobalXplorer website to give you the idea of what Dr. Parcak is doing. Click on through to have some fun and quite possibly contribute to a new discovery.

“GlobalXplorer° is an online platform that uses the power of the crowd to analyze the incredible wealth of satellite images currently available to archaeologists. Launched by 2016 TED Prize winner and National Geographic Fellow, Dr. Sarah Parcak, as her “wish for the world,” GlobalXplorer° aims to bring the wonder of archaeological discovery to all, and to help us better understand our connection to the past. So far, Dr. Parcak’s techniques have helped locate 17 potential pyramids, in addition to 3,100 potential forgotten settlements and 1,000 potential lost tombs in Egypt — and she’s also made significant discoveries in the Viking world and Roman Empire.”

Click here for GlobalExplorer home page

Excavations on Keros

The Aegean island of Keros, between Naxos and Santorini, is the oldest island sanctuary in the world, claims Sir Colin Renfrew, the British archaeologist who has been excavating there for a decade. The sanctuary dates to about 3,000 BCE in the Early Bronze Age. A monumental staircase and other fragments of public buildings begin to fill out a picture of what happened on this island. Previously large numbers of fragments of Cycladic statues, small ones, had been found on the mountain on the main part of the island. Interestingly, none of the fragments fit together. It appears that there was some rite in which a person brought a fragment of one of these presumably sacred figures and left it on the mountaintop. But there were no buildings near. Gradually, buildings and the connecting staircase have been found on a piece of the island now separated by water, but connected then. This predates even the period I write about, so whether it’s the earliest island sanctuary in the whole world or not, it’s certainly incredibly early.

Any creative leaps as to what the purpose was or form of a rite involving these fragments brought from somewhere else? I would love to hear your ideas. It is so evocative, and probably one of those things we’ll never quite know for sure.

Click here for Archaeology News Network “More Finds At Oldest Island Sanctuary On Greece’s Keros”


Weekly Roundup of Archaeology, History and Historical Fiction Feb 4-10 — 3 Comments

  1. Perhaps coffee or tea is the modern garum – consumed copiously, a distinctly acquired taste with a dash of bitterness, but immensely popular and something that children learn to consume at a young age.

    I often find scribe’s tombs more interesting than royal tombs. It’s an insight somewhat lower down the social scale, and the ability of scribes to rise on merit (at least partially).

    • I like the thought process. Tea might have been ahead at on point, especially in the British Empire, but I suspect coffee is No 1 now. It seems that all my fellow novelists drink copious amounts of coffee – and wine or chocolate. Chocolate has swept part of the world too and beats garum for taste. Off to do some research. Who are the modern scribes? Writers?

  2. I like the parallel of coffee. Pretty good match. And I had a similar reaction to the scribe’s tomb. No gold masks but insight into a more widely accessed world, although still pretty high on the social scale. One could ask where the tomb builders are buried…

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