Recent archaeological news from Biblical Archaeology Review:
Caught in the Culture Wars
July 20, 2008
It started innocently enough: In 1991, Wellesley College classics professor Mary Lefkowitz was asked to review Martin Bernal’s Black Athena, which argued that classical Greek civilization basically stole its ideas from Egypt. This viewpoint, Lefkowitz quickly found out, was a beloved pillar of Afrocentrism, never mind that some of its assertions were flat-out wrong: Aristotle, for example, could not have come to his theories by way of the books in the Alexandria Library because he died long before the Library came into existence. Even worse, Lefkowitz became embroiled in a bitter battle with a colleague at Wellesley, who accused her of racism. Her culture war battles are now over, but Lefkowitz has released a memoir of those days. Read the Times (of London) Literary Supplement review of History Lesson.
Rare Maritime Artifact Discovered by Lifeguard
July 19, 2008
While diving off the coast of Palmahim Beach in Israel, lifeguard David Shalom made an unusual find. Rather than the usual colorful fish or shells that most divers expect to see, Shalom discovered something significantly rarer: a 2500-year-old white marble disc used by ancient mariners to ward off evil. One of only four such artifacts in the world today, the disc was very common in the maritime world of the ancient Mediterranean. Painted in the form of an eye, they were affixed to the prows of ships to warn of danger and act as a sort of nautical good luck charm. Shalom was diving in Yavne-Yam, a known antiquities site. Upon making the startling discovery, he turned the precious artifact over to the Israel Antiquities Authority. Kobi Sharvit, the director of the Marine Unit of the Israel Antiquities Authority, commented that not only was this type of disc popular in the ancient Mediterranean world, it is still used today on boats in places such as Portugal, Malta, Greece and in the Far East.
The International Herald Tribune reports on the disc to ward off evil.
Putting It All on the (On)Line
July 18, 2008
The University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology plans to make its one million artifacts available through the Internet.
Don’t Ask Us
July 17, 2008
The World Archaeological Congress concluded its recent meeting by calling on archaeologists not to provide any assistance to the military in planning possible attacks against Iran.
Jericho Felled by TB?
July 16, 2008
Researchers studying bones excavated in the 1950s at the Biblical city have found many inhabitants had TB, suggesting Jericho succumbed to more than tumbling walls. The researchers hope studying the ancient bones will help them fight TB today.
Is That Covered By Insurance?
July 15, 2008
Papyrus scrolls buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and discovered in a villa 200 years ago are undergoing MRI examinations at a hospital in Washington State.
The Modest Venus
July 14, 2008
A well-preserved statue discovered in Macedonia shows the nude goddess of love attempting to demurely cover her herself.
Is “Cultural Property” a Crock?
July 13, 2008
A columnist for the Times of London thinks the recent demands by some countries for the return of ancient artifacts are driven by “narrow nationalism and a political agenda, an attempt to lend historical credibility to modern states that did not exist when the objects were created.”
She Sells Looted Sea Shells by the Sea Shore
July 12, 2008
A newly enacted law in Greece opening up the country’s coastline to sea divers may have a baleful unintended consequence: widespread looting of underwater remains and artifacts.
Iraqi Sites Better than Feared
July 11, 2008
An international team of archaeologists recently visited eight important ancient sites in southern Iraq and found that there had been no looting at them since 2003.
Elaborate Etruscan Tomb Discovered
July 10, 2008
Road construction in Perugia has unearthed an Etruscan family tomb in excellent condition, containing seven funerary urns, a pillar, two benches and parts of a bronze bed. Etruscan civilization flourished in Italy in the middle of the first millennium B.C.
Pompeii Threatened Again
July 9, 2008
The Italian government is appointing a special commissioner to administer the spectacular ancient site, which is in a chaotic state and which has seen a big drop in visitors.