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

Here are some posts I enjoyed this week:

In Chinese mythology there are, apparently, two generals, Clairvoyance, who can see thousands of miles in the distance, and Clairaudience, who can hear equally far. They serve the Jade Emperor, who is the ruler of Heaven and all realms of existence below. Pretty impressive crew and leader. Now a researcher in China says you can see what these legendary characters looked like in large, muscular statues with mysterious items in the two generals’ hands. They just might be an early telescope and a “telephone receiver”—or maybe a scroll and a snake. I’m going with the logical identification. I’m pretty sure the telephone is remarkably modern…. Click here for Archaeology News Network “Mythical Chinese psychic beings identified in Dazu Rock Carvings”

Researchers are trying to get a clear sense of how much hidden damage armed conflict does to archaeological treasures and how we can mitigate some of that damage. In the face of flattened temples, this may seem hopeless, but I’m hoping these efforts succeed over time. Click here for Archaeology News Network “Scientists study ways to preserve world heritage sites damaged in armed conflicts”

Beer, wine, weed and opium? The history and earliest evidence for mind altering plants and fermentation, and the ways these are integrated into communal, religious and medicinal practices. Interesting post on the ASOR blog. Click here for the American School of Oriental Research Blog ‘Joy plants’ and the earliest toasts in the Ancient Near East

Well, this one is fun, but turns out not to be Templars. Still, probably great fun to explore. And still good to feed the imagination, just not the historical one.
I usually end up down research rabbit holes—you know the fascinating bit of historical information that once uncovered ends up with no reasonable place in the story anyway and would be a dread info dump, so it lies unused in the storage house of my brain. But this is some rabbit hole: Underneath a rabbit hole in the British countryside a massive cave and tunnels used by the Knights Templar—the group who brought you the most effective fighters of the Crusades (kind of a dubious role of “honor” but…). This underground labyrinth is extraordinary and the candlelit rock walls remind me of my far more ancient Hittites than Medieval Christians. Quite cool. Someone set a story here, please. Calling all you who write this period. Click here for the Mirror “Stunning 700-year-old giant cave used by Knights Templar found behind a rabbit hole in the British countryside”

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