The Swahili Coast and its culture in the medieval period (roughly the tenth to fifteenth centuries) is relatively little studied, compared with other cultures of its size and influence, though it represents a key node in the development of global trade before the European Age of Discovery. Its history is known in broad strokes, but less is known about how the medieval Swahili lived and how they incorporated influences—from religion to architecture—from across the Indian Ocean world. Fleisher and his codirector, Stephanie Wynne-Jones of the University of York, looked for a site that would allow them to examine such questions in detail. “We had an inkling Songo Mnara would be that site,” he says, “but it has completely exceeded our expectations.
posted by MartinWisse
on Mar 5, 2014 -
In September, Italian archaeologists removed a slab door in Tarquinia and entered an untouched, newly discovered Etruscan tomb (Slideshow: Entry to Tomb, Pictures of Contents
) There was much excitement to find the intact tomb of a high-status man - a warrior, a prince, a man of importance, with a lance, grave goods, and the remains of his wife. Or so it was trumpeted by the discovering team and the media. A month later … the figure on the wider slab with the lance turns out to be the female, and the man was on the other slab. Whoops! Judith Weingarten writes about the assumptions made before and after the osteological analysis
(and Part II
). [more inside]
posted by julen
on Dec 16, 2013 -
"But Freud had a second fear: a fear of Rome's layers. In formal treatises, he compared the psyche to an ancient city, with many layers of architecture built one on top of another, each replacing the last, but with the old structures still present underneath. In private writings he phrased this more personally, that he was terrified of ever visiting Rome because he was terrified of the idea of all the layers and layers and layers of destroyed structures hidden under the surface, at the same time present and absent, visible and invisible. He was, in a very deep way, absolutely right
." [more inside]
posted by Paragon
on Aug 20, 2013 -
In 2008 a letter was excavated during an archaeological dig
of a Peruvian colonial town abandoned for unknown reasons around the turn of the 18th Century. On the back of that letter were recorded several numbers and their names in a dead tongue, lost in the upheaval following the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire. Even though this may be the only remnant of an entire language, there is quite a bit that linguists can glean from these fragments. For a brief overview of the findings of research by a joint American-Peruvian research group, read here
. And here is the full journal article
, which places these numbers in their historical and linguistic context.
posted by Kattullus
on Sep 25, 2011 -
Did the Scots visit Iceland?
New research reveals island inhabited 70 years before Vikings thought to have arrived. This appears to be the first physical evidence that confirms
the stories of celitc monks being on the island when the Norse arrived.
posted by novenator
on Dec 26, 2010 -
Ever since the famed Lucy skeleton was discovered in Ethiopia in 1974, there have been some unanswered questions. She was very tiny, and some researchers claimed it was unlikely that she (and, by extension, Australopithecus afarensis
) could walk. Although other specimens were found throughout the 70s, none were more than bone fragments. Recently, researchers announced that they found another partial skeleton
, and they believe it proves that afarensis
posted by Plutor
on Jun 22, 2010 -
The Seljuk Han in Anatolia
has tons of information about and pictures of the caravanserai, inns for caravans, built by the Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm in what is now Turkey. The Seljuk caravanserai, called hans, were a vital resource for trade from the middle ages to recent times. The website, by Katherine Branning
, explains what a han is
, their origins
, their function in trade
, what life there was like
and much more. The site also features 39 individual hans, such as the Kadin Han
, now a furniture store, Dibi Delik Han
, which is undergoing restoration, Zazadin Han
, which has been restored already, and the spectacular Sultan Han Kayseri
. For an academic survey of Seljuk hans, here's Ayşıl Tükel Yavuz'
The concepts that shape Anatolian Seljuq caravanserais [pdf, automatic download]
posted by Kattullus
on Jan 8, 2010 -
Man from the Margin: Cao Cao and the Three Kingdoms
You'll perhaps have read
reports that archaeologists believe they have found the tomb of Cao Cao (曹操) (of course, not everyone agrees
with the identification). Warrior, strategist, statesman and p
, Cao Cao lives on in the cultural memory of China, a by-word for cunning
and of course a central character in the great historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms
and hence also recent John Woo blockbuster Red Cliff
. To understand the man in his historical context, there's little better in English than the 1990 George Ernest Morrison Lecture in Ethnology given by now-retired Professor Rafe de Crespigny
, one of the foremost Western scholars of the Han Dynasty and Three Kingdoms periods of Chinese history. He makes several of his vastly erudite essays on Chinese history available at the ANU
posted by Abiezer
on Dec 30, 2009 -
Bogus! Why do fakes get made? Why do people fall for hoaxes? Greed, pride, revenge, nationalism, pranks, and gullibility mix in an archaeological setting.
Archaeology Magazine examines eight classic cases, and more.
posted by amyms
on Dec 23, 2009 -
Knossos: Fakes, Facts, and Mystery.
"The masterpieces of Minoan art
are not what they seem... The truth is that these famous icons are largely modern. As any sharp-eyed visitor to the Heraklion museum
can spot, what survives of the original paintings amounts in most cases to no more than a few square inches. The rest is more or less imaginative reconstruction, commissioned in the first half of the twentieth century by Sir Arthur Evans
, the British excavator of the palace of Knossos
(and the man who coined the term 'Minoan' for this prehistoric Cretan civilization
, after the mythical King Minos who is said to have held the throne
there). As a general rule of thumb, the more famous the image now is, the less of it is actually ancient."
posted by homunculus
on Aug 30, 2009 -
is a new online exhibit from the excellent Burke Museum
at the University of Washington, Seattle. It tells the story of the land underlying Seattle, one of the United States' most geologically active city sites, and of the human attempts to engineer this landform. Closely related are the archaeology of West Point
and Coast Salish Villages
of Puget Sound (e.g., read the story
of North Wind and Storm Wind).
posted by Rumple
on May 2, 2009 -
Why do mummies scream? Are screaming mummies really testaments to horrific deaths? Or are they the result of natural processes, botched or ad hoc mummification jobs, or the depredations of tomb robbers?
Archaeology Online examines the science and history behind the gape-mouthed "masks of agony" seen on some mummies, and explores their portrayal in entertainment and pop culture. The article includes lots of interesting and informative additional links.
posted by amyms
on Mar 30, 2009 -
The digital collection
of the Tokyo National Museum
is full of wonder. TNM is the oldest museum in Japan and collects archaeological objects and art from Japan as well as other parts of Asia. The collection can be browsed by type
. Here are some of my favorites: Buddha's life
, The name "Korin" given to pupil
, Tale of Matsuranomiya
, Coquettish type
, Tea caddy in shape of bucket with handle
, Mirror, design of sea and island
, Traditionary identified as Minamoto no Yoritomo
, Seated Monju Bosatsu (Manjusri) and attendants
, Sword mounting of kazari-tachi type
and (my current desktop background) Figures under a tree
. This is but a small sampling of all that can be found in the digital collection
posted by Kattullus
on Dec 22, 2008 -