Weekly Roundup of Archaeology, History and Historical Fiction May 6-12

Here is my round up of posts I enjoyed this week:

Egyptian funerary art shows gardens near the tombs, but no gardens had been found until now. The archaeological remains were found near ancient Thebes, now Luxor, a rectangular garden with a grid of square plots dating to 2000 BCE. Analysis of plant remains will show if the garden’s contents correspond to the written records of symbolic plants for resurrection, fertility and a return to life. Grid patterned gardens exist in other parts of the ancient world—Babylon and others. Humans like to organize and tame the wildness of nature. Click here for Archaeology News Network “4,000 year old funerary garden discovered at Egyptian tomb entrance”

image Augstus' Mausoleum

Augstus’ Mausoleum

Augustus’s mausoleum to be restored. It’s been closed for safety reasons since the 1930’s and is in a sad state. Mussolini did some showy work in the area to build his “imperial glory” but didn’t actually mend the mausoleum itself. The first step in renovation is clearing the garbage piled up around it since the 1970’s. Augustus must be very annoyed at the state of things… Click here for Archaeology News Network “Restoration Of Mausoleum Of Augustus In Rome Begins”

A Viking cave in Iceland, formed by volcanic eruption during the period when Vikings first appeared in the area, offers up elusive clues to its past. Found inside: a large wall blocking off much of the cave, an oval stone room behind said wall, piles of unburned but very broken animal bones, jasper firestarters and beads of a narrow range of colors. One theory holds that outlaws resided in the cave, or other fringe groups, another that rituals were performed in the cave to hold inside the Norse god Surtr who would have been held responsible for the volcanic eruption and was believed set to kill all the gods and life at the end of time. If a protective ritual was performed here, it worked. The volcano never erupted again and we have not reached the end of time. Oh wait, maybe that last part is no longer true… Click here for Archaeology Magazine “The Blackener’s Cave”


image Dead Sea Scroll fragment, Oriental Institute Museum

Dead Sea Scroll fragment, Oriental Institute Museum

Everyone has heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls and what we learned from them, but the same area provided archaeologists with many legal scrolls from far more personal contexts that tell us intimate details about daily life, especially about women, who are so often left out of the record. This article on the ASOR blog about some of these legal scrolls is fascinating. Besides showing the interesting power of women financially, it also shows Jews and Nabateans (if you’ve been to Petra, that was a Nabatean city) interacting and living together with no problem at all. To quote the author “When relations between various ethnic and religious groups in this region are so fraught today, it is salutary to consider another historical setting, such as Maoza in 99 CE, when relationships across the two main ethnic groups were demonstrably positive.” History is a salutary study. Click here for the ASOR blog “Ancient Legal Papyri Bring Lost World to Life”


This is an article for authors from Jane Friedman. It’s about what publishers do or don’t do in marketing and also has some links within it to other specific Jane Friedman posts of a very helpful sort if you’re trying to figure out how to make books sell, whether big press, small press or self published. Click here for Jane Friedman website “Books Become Bestsellers” 

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