Weekly Roundup of Archaeology, History and Historical Fiction June 26-30


Libbie Hawker took the costume part seriously (along with a saucy wench who also had fun, but I can’t identify)

Last week I attended the Historical Novel Society Conference in Portland, and since that

Geraldine Brooks giving the inspirational keynote. She’s brilliant.

included an extended road trip to visit friends and family, I’ve been mostly offline and out of touch. Ideally, during the HNS conference, I’d be busy posting photos on Facebook and Twitter, but I’ve never gotten into that habit. I enjoy the company of many writer friends and participate in a lot of intense conversations and panels, very much in the real world, face-to-face kind of communication and forget all about sharing that experience online. Oh well. Trust me, if you read or write historical fiction, the every other year conference is the perfect place for you. For me, it’s very renewing and rejuvenating. I needed that this year. Writing and publishing is a long and circuitous journey if you want to do it well. I’ll include 3 photos I remembered to take, but forgot to post. Incorrigible.



Informal lunch with one key group of friends, Priscilla Royal, Sarah Woodbury, Mary Lou Locke (clipped out of sight across fr me, alas), Libbie Hawker, Steve Bartholomew


Here are some posts I enjoyed once I’d returned to my quiet desk and extra hot desert home.

A blog post about archaeology and video games—which, before you roll your eyes, is a real and very intriguing pairing. This is an initiative at Leiden University and they are exploring everything from public group Minecraft reconstructions of Palmyra to raise awareness of heritage destruction to interactive archaeological reconstructions to latent and intentional “archaeological” themes in existing video games (and more). This is a smart group of thinkers. Links to their work in various forms are included in the post if you want to follow this further. I enjoyed this post thoroughly. Click here for ASOR “The VALUE project: Video Games and Archaeology at Leiden University”

Göbekli Tepe, photo by Kpisimon Wikimedia Commons

Göbekli Tepe, photo by Kpisimon Wikimedia Commons

One of the oldest complex archaeological sites in the world—Neolithic, pre agriculture & pottery, 12,000 yrs ago—called Göbekli Tepe, in southeast Turkey near the Syrian border has revealed yet another utterly baffling and mysterious find. Three decapitated (after death) skulls with intentional lines carved into them. The lines aren’t decorative and the purpose is impossible to do more than guess at. None of the many other skulls have these marks. Enemy skulls? Special ritual? Decorated skulls aren’t an unknown thing in the Neolithic world, such as plaster decoration on skulls in the Levant, but nothing like this and no decorated skulls anywhere in Anatolia before. Göbekli Tepe has some remarkable rock carvings of half human/half animal creatures, headless figures (hmmm, that seems related) and various other mystical and intriguing symbols on multiple enclosures of tall t-shaped pillars and rings of stone. Before finding this site, everyone assumed such elaborate ritual spaces would occur only after agriculture made storage and abundance of food possible. Now the question has to be asked, did people come up with agriculture in order to sustain such locations and the people and activities performed there? If only we had a magic window into Neolithic life in Anatolia and the Near East. Click here for Science Magazine “Carved Human Skulls found in ancient stone temple”

Egypt ruled strongly in Canaan from Tuthmose III through Rameses II, and then sputtered and poked along for an ill-defined period there until the general empire collapse at the end of the Bronze Age. Archaeology magazine has done an interesting article on that Egyptian colonial rule and on the archaeological clues to the demise of Egypt’s influence in the port of Jaffa. Experts interpret burn layers and the absence of Canaan artifacts inside the Egyptian area of Jaffa (in contrast to the widespread back and forth of Egyptian and Canaanite artifacts elsewhere in the Levant). I’m more familiar with the Ramses II period when the tug of war over these lands is between the Hittites and the Egyptians. I enjoyed hearing from the Canaanites in this article. Click here for Archaeology Magazine “Egypt’s Final Redoubt in Canaan” 

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