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ONLINE JOURNAL

H istor y • Arc hae o l o g y • Sc ie nce VOL. 02 • AUGUST • 2012

IN THIS ISSUE • A Brief History Of Greek Helmets • Rebelling Against The Gods: Egyptian Tomb Robbery • Colour Symbolism In Ancient Mesopotamia • Pseudo Script At Gebel el Silsila • A Summary Of Vampires In The Archaeological Record • Beer In The Ancient World • The Beguiling Taino Of The Ancient Carribean ... and more


AncientPlanet Online Journal — VOLUME 02 — August 2012 WEBSITE http://ancientplanet.blogspot.com/

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A Summary of Vampires in the Archaeological Record

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Rebelling Against the Gods

Egyptian Tomb Roberry

EDITOR/PUBLISHER Ioannis Georgopoulos email: ioangeorgopoulos@gmail.com NOTICE The editors accept no responsibility for any loss, injury or inconvenience sustained by persons using the resources contained within the journal and/or websites mentioned herein. Editorial and contributors views are independent and do not necessarily reflect those of AncientPlanet. © 2012 AncientPlanet Online Journal, founded by Ioannis Georgopoulos. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, microfilming, recording or otherwise, without the prior written consent from the authors. Permission of the author is also required for all other derivative works, including compilations and translations. Unless stated otherwise, all photos and illustrations are by AncientPlanet and its authors. Reproduction of the material published in AncientPlanet in any form by any person without prior consent is a violation of copyright and appropriate action may be taken against any person(s) violating the copyright. Front Cover: Corinthian helmet from the tomb of Denda. From a Greek workshop in South Italy, 500–490 BCE. Credit: Matthias Kabel/Wiki Commons. ANCIENTPLANET™ PATRAS, ACHAIA EΛΛΑΣ | GREECE ISSN: 2241-5157 2

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Pseudo Script at Gebel el Silsila

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Symbolism in Ancient Mesopotamia

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A Brief History of Greek Helmets

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contents

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Souvenir from the Peloponnese: Part One

Also in this issue

78 Sir Leonard Woolley: The Prodigal Archaeologist

106 Capo Colonna, Calabria, Italy

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The Beguiling TaĂ­no of the Ancient Caribbean: An Interview with Dr. JosĂŠ R. Oliver

142 Heritage Crime Is Big Business

148 Letter from Azerbaijan 152 Exhibitions in Europe & the USA

156 Six Great Websites 3


Ioannis Georgopoulos, M.A. Archaeologist / General Editor whose research interests include Aegean archaeology and the writing systems of Bronze Age Crete and Greece.

Monty Dobson, Ph.D American archaeologist, historian and filmmaker, whose curiosity and passion for the human story has led him to travel the world.

Lisa Swart, Ph.D Egyptologist specializing in the Egyptian Third Intermediate Period, Egyptian art and iconography, funerary customs and theology.

Aikaterini Kanatselou, M.A. Archaeologist whose research interests are mainly focused on Aegean prehistory, religion, language and art.

Jesse Obert, B.A. Classical Archaeologist specializing in Warfare in Antiquity and currently sitting for an MA in Ancient History.

Maria Nilsson, Ph.D Classical archaeologist/ancient historian specializing in Graeco-Roman iconography and religion in Egypt.

Joshua J. Mark, M.A. Historian and published author with advanced degrees in both English and Philosophy.

Charlotte Booth, M.A. Egyptologist who has written extensively on Egyptology, including magaizine articles as well as eleven books.

Andrea Sinclair, M.A. Classical scholar specializing on the interconnections and iconographic issues for the Egyptian, Aegean and Near Eastern Bronze Age.

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contributors

Amy Talbot B.A. Archaeology student interested in Palaeopathology, Biblical Archaeology and Gender Studies.

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Jame Blake Wiener, M.A. Historian who is passionate about research and the dissemination of knowledge to scholars and laymen alike.

Melanie Chalk B.A. Freelance proofreader and owner of Spellsure Proofreading Services, based in the Costa del Sol, Spain.


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n this somewhat hefty and much awaited second issue of AncientPlanet we begin with a short article by Amy Talbot tackling the issue of vampires in the archaeological record. We have all read about the recent discoveries of alleged vampire graves in Bulgaria, of the evil Mayor of Sozopol whose corpse had been staked to the ground lest he rose from the dead to further torment his poor subjects. In this article Amy presents three case studies of actual vampire burials unearthed by archaeologists and formulates an objective definition of ‘vampirism’ based on their common elements.

map, in what is the first installment of a two part article. Likewise, the welltravelled Charlotte Booth takes us to Capo Colonna in Calabria, South Italy, where we are introduced to the ancient Greek settlement of Kroton.

Next, Dr. Lisa Swart discusses the life and times of the great British archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley and his contributions to the field of Mesopotamian archaeology.

Finally, we present several must see exhibitions in both Europe and the USA, and conclude with a brief review of six great websites.

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Next James Wiener presents an in-depth discussion with Spanish-born archaeologist Dr. José R. Oliver on the subject of the mysterious Taino Indians of the Ancient Caribbean.

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Then follows a disturbing report by outspoken American archaeologist, Dr. Monty Dobson, on the worldwide trade in illicitly gained antiquities. From Elgin to The next series of articles deal with various the Taliban, trafficking in looted art and aspects of Mesopotamian, Egyptian and antiquities is certainly big business, worth Greek archaeology respectively. The first billions of dollars each year. The number of these is a fascinating journey into the of heritage crimes committed annually art of Ancient Mesopotamia, written by is staggering to say the least but, as Dr. our newest team member Andrea Sinclair. Dobson notes, what is more alarming is This is followed by an engrossing account the ultimate destination of this money! of tomb robbery in Ancient Egypt, provided by our resident Egyptologist, In Letter from Azerbaijan we are informed Dr. Lisa Swart, and an equally compelling of the current excavations at the medieval discussion of Greek helmet types by our settlement of Agsu conducted by Dr. Gafar Jabiyev and Dr. Fariz Khalilli. ancient warfare expert Jesse Obert.

Dr. Maria Nilsson, another newcomer to the AncientPlanet team, introduces her latest research project on Graeco-Roman masons’ marks found at the Egyptian quarry of Gebel el Silsila, while Joshua Mark treats us to a history of beer through the ages.

On behalf of the AncientPlanet team Ioannis Georgopoulos Editor/Publisher

In ‘Souvenir from the Peloponnese’, Greek archaeologist Aikaterini Kanatselou takes us to several archaeological sites in the Peloponnese, both on and off the tourist

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Nosferatu . Credit: Wiki Commons.

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ampires are everywhere. This is not an understatement. From the traditional Dracula, to the romantic view of vampires in the Twilight franchise to countless TV shows, films and theatre shows, vampires are very much an everyday concept (Oinas 1982).

differently, all show cases of “vampirism”.

Poland: The Drawsko Vampires

In traditional Slavic culture a vampire is defined as a “manifestation of an unclean spirit possessing a decomposing body” where a vengeful spirit would take the blood and life force of a living person in However, it appears vampires have also crept into order to survive. In the Drawsko cemetery in souththe archaeological funerary and osteological record, ern Poland, where a traditional Slavic culture thrived where cases of “vampirism” have emerged recently, from 17th to 18thcentury AD, three examples have due to the pathological and funerary arrangement emerged in the excavations of potential vampires. of the burials and the circumstances in which the individuals passed away. This article will attempt to Evidence give an informative take on the vampire phenomena from an archaeological perspective, while looking All the inhumations are supine with heads facing at interesting social customs and folk tales, relat- west; one body is that of a juvenile and this has ing to an unnatural concept. Body decay, although been found potentially tied up with stones placed well known to us as the bacterial process that all on the throat, while the other two bodies, both of living things go through, was novel and abnormal, whom are adults, have sickles placed on their necks. particularly in the medieval and late antiquity from the 16th century up until the 19th century (Roberts Discussion and Manchester 2005). This perceived state of unnatural processes led to a change in attitudes This evidence can tell the archaeological comtowards the dead and, in a relatively short space of munity a vast amount of information about social time, a medical and pathological acceptance into customs towards a perceived unnatural. The inhuthe norm. It is worth a mention that there is rela- mations themselves are Christian customs, introtively little published research on this topic, and so duced to the Slav people between the 10th and there is plenty of scope for this area of archaeology 11th centuries while the heads facing west show to be better understood and discovered. The three the inhumations are against a Christian norm, as examples below, all very different and all dated traditional Christian inhumations face the east 7


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Above: Drawsko vampire grave 29/2009 with stones on throat; Below: Drawsko vampire grave 28/2009 with a sickle on throat. Credit: Slavia.Org.

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Among the many medieval plague victims recently unearthed near Venice, Italy, was the partial body and skull of the woman with her jaw forced open by a brick—an exorcism technique used on suspected vampires. Credit: National Geographic News.

in traditional style. Therefore these “vampires” were people who died an unnatural death that went against social and religious customs, rites and ethics. This means potential reasons for death include suicide, drowning, unbaptized individuals, and heathens (Fine 1987, Oinas 1982). These individuals, however, were clearly seen as on the fringes of society and did not deserve a Christian burial (Fine 1987, Oinas 1982). It should be noted that at the time of research there was no evidence of a pathological cause to their deaths, and this example is the only example where the individuals were already ostracised from their community. The items found with the inhumations, the sickles and the stones, are methods deployed to destroy or suppress the vampire. A key term is “apostrophic” which means to ward off evil (Oinas 1982). Sickles and knives are seen as apostrophic, while the stones are to prevent the vampire from swallowing the blood as well as being a preventative measure in the arising of the vampire. Tying up a perceived

“vampire” is again a preventative measure to keep it from arising from the grave. Other ways that have been observed amongst the Slav community to prevent a vampire from arising and claiming victims are the deposition and decapitation of the head, where the head would be removed and placed by the feet (Fine 1987, Oinas 1982). Also the corpse would sometimes be found face down, while staking the body with ash was another apostrophic device. However, cremation was the traditional way of removing the entire vampire as the entire body would be destroyed (Oinas 1982).

Italy: The Venetian Vampire This is also a newly discovered find and as such there is relatively little published information. However, it appears the fear of vampires spread down to Italy potentially from the Balkan influence of the neighbouring Slavic and Balkan states (Fine 1987). According to Matteo Borrini of the University of Florence, the superstition comes from the Kashubes 9


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of north-central Poland and 13th century Bohemia and Moravia, where a nachtzehrer or “night waster” was a being who was controlled by satanic forces, where the Devil had entered a body through various means and was using the body for its own purposes. It is interesting to note that this superstition arose at the same time as Christianity was spreading up the Balkans into Central Europe.

to prevent the vampire from taking any blood and so it would starve. Other measures included staking the body, as well as cremation of the body. It is interesting to note in this example, although this was not a norm for social customs, as the woman was not already on the fringe of society, it is a pathological reason why she was believed to be a vampire. It is not just ignorance here of the body’s state of decomposition, but instead of medical and pathologiEvidence cal knowledge of the effects the plague has on the A female skeleton dated to the 16th century was body, giving it a more gruesome and unnatural asfound in Lazaretto Nuevo Island in North Venice from pect than just of the decomposition (Fine 1987). a mass grave of plague victims dated to 1576 AD. The female was found with a brick in her mouth, causing ripples among the archaeologists excavating her New England: Connecticut from both an anthropological, archaeological and In the 19th century, vampires entered America and mythological viewpoint were most commonly found in the New England area,

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Discussion This one skeleton sums up in a word the attitudes of the medieval Venetians at the time - ignorance. Medieval ignorance of the body’s natural stages of preservation and decay was inherent at the time, and especially as many saw the plague victims decompose in the open; it is no wonder such a horrific sight was believed at first to be demonic (Fine 1987). However, modern forensic science tells us now that bloating of the body, a build-up of a gas and fluid discharge from the mouth, which would often decompose any material placed over, is part of the natural bacterial decay. However, seeing the bodies apparently “breathe”, the Venetians saw this as vampires coming alive and so would take preventative measures against it. It is accepted that the medieval Venetians knew about algor mortis or the cooling of the body, and rigor mortis, the stiffening of the body, but decay and putrefaction were unknown, as graves were never opened up. Skeletons were accepted, however, and so with the pandemic of the plague, the graves would be opened up constantly showing the process in between the rigor mortis and the skeleton, such as the bacterial decay of the shroud from the mouth and the fluid discharge which made the Venetians believe a vampire was alive and drinking blood. These post-mortem measures, such as placing a brick in the mouth, would be done after the death of the individual. The brick in the mouth was 10

a very protestant area traditionally held by colonists, where 12 accounts have been told, all based around Rhode Island, Connecticut and Central Vermont (Sledzik and Bellatoni 1994). It is worthwhile noting early on, that 11 of these accounts all died of tuberculosis, bringing a pathological note into this scale. As well as the “vampire” to be discussed below, in these accounts there is also a sad story of a parent who took out his daughter’s heart post-mortem in order to ward off her apparent “vampirism” (Sledzik and Bellatoni 1994). Being only two hundred years ago, these accounts are the most modern and show the impact of folklore and fear in a modern nonEuropean community, showing that the same fears and folk tales, as well as the same medical ignorance, is not just limited to Central Europe and was rife up until the 20th century. Evidence In the small Walton family cemetery in Connecticut, one individual out of the 29 buried there - a 55 year old male - was found to have a post-mortem rearrangement of skeletal remains, as well as palaeopathological evidence of tuberculosis. The tuberculosis was shown by periostisis present in the distal left tibia and the distal left fibia (see below) as well as periostisic legions in the left second, third and fourth ribs (see below). There was also osteoarthritis present, however this was apparent in all the skeletons and so potentially depicts a farming community


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Mass plague graves found on Venice’s “Quarantine” Island. Credit: National Geographic News.

Gunther’s disease came up, about lack of awareness of this condition, whose clinical term is ErythropoiDiscussion etic protoporphyria or an allergy to sunlight (Sledzik This “vampire” died of tuberculosis, a wasting and Bellatoni 1994). This was apparently common at disease, which would have caused fear to the rest the time and so could have helped inflame the fears of the family as they saw other members potentially of an undead creature, causing the wasting way of waste away, after the death of the male, giving rise to relatives, who were also allergic to the sun. Sadly the belief that an undead creature was in the family this disease is almost invisible in the archaeological feeding off them. This draws in the ignorance, as record, but it would be interesting to see whether seen above in Italy, where a lack of understanding the “vampire” above had this disease. and ignorance to pathology and medical knowledge rather than the decaying corpse, led to a belief Tuberculosis in Vampirism. By using an apostrophic remedy in the post-mortem rearranging of body parts, and As tuberculosis and consumption are the diseases the earlier account of the removing of the heart, referred to in these passages, a brief section is usealso shows the measures taken in apparently curing ful here to clarify the diseases and the terminology the “vampirism” and bringing in some overkill of the used. The tibia and the fibia refer to the lower corpse. Other methods heard of include burning the leg bones (Roberts and Manchester 2005), which corpse as well, which seems to be fairly consistent being long are more susceptible to receiving inwith other findings. In the research a note about fections, and commonly new bone formation on (Sledzik and Bellatoni 1994).

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Left tibia showing the new bone formation indicating active infection (periostitis) at the time of death, from the South Tombs Cemetery, Amarna, Egypt. Credit: The Amarna Project.

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without documented vampire cases, unlike American farming communities who may not have been as aware. Despite the Slavic vampires not being recorded as having tuberculosis, it is interesting to note the small isolated community which would have helped inflame the mythological rumours, much like the American counterpart “vampire”. In England as a comparison, small communities were often immune to infectious diseases due to their isolation. For example, Monastic communities were some of the healthiest communities (Mays S 2006) due to the nature of the existence; however, when infection did enter it would affect the entire community (Mays 2006).

Conclusions

these bones can represent not just tuberculosis but also leprosy and scurvy as well as other infectious diseases. The term distal means peripheral, or further away from the centre of the body, and is the opposite of proximal, or closer to the centre of the body. While periostisis refers to the inflammation of the periosteum. The periosteum is a membrane that surrounds the bone and contains cells known as osteoblasts which lay down the new bone (Wingate 1976). So periostisic legions on the distal left tibia and fibia, means: new bone formations on the lower left leg bones (Mays 2006).

There are four main points, therefore, that can be summarized from these findings.

Consumption is a more colloquial term for tuberculosis, however medically it refers more to tuberculosis of the lungs, or pulmonary tuberculosis (Roberts and Manchester 2005). However, due to its common use in records from antiquity, it is clear that it was a well recognized disease, particularly in London, making consumption and tuberculosis an “urban disease” (Roberts and Manchester 2005: 186), due to being passed in such close proximity between human to human through airborne disease. However, it appears there was an awareness of infectious diseases as there is correlation that people with infectious diseases such as leprosy, plague, treponematosis and tuberculosis were excluded from normal communal mortuary space (Bello and Andrews 2006), giving rise to some areas clearly not being ignorant as to medical and pathological knowledge. In England, there is tuberculosis

Although these four points cannot be taken as definite guidelines, they summarize nicely four traits across all of the “vampire” cases and reasons for the “vampires” being named as such. It is also interesting that as tuberculosis is spread more easily in isolated farming communities who are away from medical knowledge, folkloric myths are more likely to appear here, rather than in a city, as is the case of London, where despite huge cases of consumption and tuberculosis in the seventeenth century there are no known documented vampire cases. This is unlike the Americas, and to an extent Poland, where although the cause of death of the skeletons has not been documented, with the vampirism of the skeletons found in a small rural community such as Drawsko it would not be surprising if findings revealed tuberculosis in the skeletons. However, with the Venetian vampire, this is an excellent example

1) Ignorance as to post-mortem decay 2) Ignorance as to medical pathology, i.e. the plague and tuberculosis 3) Religious rites and ethics, i.e. the Christian doctrine and what was the social norm as dictated by religion 4) Some form of post-mortem apostrophic rites on the body


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Seventeenth century depiction of death and the body after death. The body goes from body to skeleton without any knowledge of decay and putrefaction. Credit: Infowars.

of how quickly a disease affects a community and the mythology surrounding death and the religious influence felt with the idea of satanic possession amongst the religious Venetians. It is surprising that not more individuals were marked out as vampires because in a mass grave of consumption victims the state of decay and putrefaction would be similar to the female. As excavations in all sites continue it will be interesting to hear about further discoveries, and see whether there is scientific correlation in the idea of vampires and mythology affecting the more rural or religious communities before medical awareness came about. Further Reading Bello S. and Andrews P., “The intrinsic pattern of preservation of human skeletons and its influence on the interpretation of funerary behaviours”, Social Archaeology of Funerary Remains, ed. Gowland R. and Knusel C., Oxford: Oxbow, 2006: 1-13

Mays S., “The Osteology of Monasticism in Medieval England”, Social Archaeology of Funerary Remains, ed. Gowland R. and Knusel C., Oxford: Oxbow, 2006: 179189 Oinas F., “East European Vampires and Dracula”, Journal of Popular Culture 16 (1), 1982: 108-114 Roberts C. and Manchester K., The Archaeology of Disease, Stroud. The History Press, 2005 (Third Edition) Sledzik P. and Bellantoni N., “Bioarchaeological and Biocultural Evidence for the New England Vampire Folk Belief”, The American Journal of Physical Anthropology 94 (2), 1994: 269-274 Wingate P., The Penguin Medical Encyclopedia, Penguin: Middlesex, 1976 www.archaeology.org/online/features/halloween/ plague.htm, (Samir S. Patel Interview with Matteo Borrini, Uncanny Archaeology) www.slavia.org/fieldschool.php?go=drawkso_vampires (accessed 17.5.2012)

Fine J., “In Defence of Vampires”, East European Quarterly 21, 1987: 15-23 13


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Detail from the Processional Way in Berlin’s Pergamon Museum showing a lion framed by rosettes, both symbols of the goddess Inanna/Iťtar. Credit: Wiki Commons.


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Colour Symbolism in Ancient Mesopotamia his

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introduction to a less scrutinized aspect of Near Eastern iconography; the use of colour, and

makes a brief assessment of the available evidence for symbolic values for colour from ancient Mesopotamian texts, art and architecture. Colour is a universal visual ingredient of all human culture and is now understood to bear symbolic qualities for human cognition far beyond mere aesthetic values. However, colour itself permeates our modern culture in ways which make an assessment of its value in antiquity less straightforward. In contemporary culture we are surrounded both in the media and in our environment by vivid unsaturated hues, and instructed in the complexities of the shadings of the colour palette in our early school years. (Not to mention that moment of self doubt when one stands before a home decoration paint colour display in search of that perfect shade for the living room).

Basic Colour Wheel. Credit: Wiki Commons.

For a modern audience, colours are scientifically defined, partitioned and categorized with obsessive and sometimes even arbitrary precision. The significance of colour in antiquity, however, was simpler and not distanced from the symbolic and esoteric worlds, but rather was embedded within the nature and

value of materials and objects. In addition, bold colours would not have been as universal as the modern audience now experiences. In antiquity, bright colour would instead have been more restricted to (what we may now perceive as clichĂŠd) elements of the natural environment such as flowering plants, 15


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Dedicatory cuneiform inscription in blue and white glazed brick from Babylon, reign of Nebuchadnezzar, 600-560 BCE, Pergamon Museum, Berlin. Credit: Wiki Commons.

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the ocean, sunsets, stones, clays and other natural phenomena. Beyond the natural world, the only theatre for the performance of vivid colour would have been via the polished stones, forged metals, vitreous glazes and mineral pigments used to produce the spectacular artefacts from monuments, treasuries, temples and palaces.

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Academic studies of Mesopotamian visual design have in the past focused on issues of artistic style to the exclusion of this essential component of all visual art and architecture, the employment of colour in the construction of an artefact. This article shall, instead, make an assessment of the evidence for symbolic values for colours from the ancient Near East. But before we dive headlong into this tantalizing subject, I shall briefly define the boundaries both geophysical and chronological that will limit the discussion. The title ‘ancient Near 16

East’ refers to the city states and cultures of Mesopotamia (‘between the two rivers’) in the region of the rivers Euphrates and Tigris, and constitutes the regions of modern Iraq, Iran and Syria. Accordingly, the time frame covered by this examination shall encompass the 3rd to 1st millennia BCE (Before Common Era), which is approximately the period from 4000 BCE until around 500 BCE. While the great cultures which rose and fell during this time frame are many and include the Sumerian, Assyrian, Mitannian, Babylonian, the Kassite and Persian, the native language system itself remained relatively consistent throughout the entire region. There were two languages written using the cuneiform script that were employed for literature, correspondence and account keeping. The earliest is Sumerian and the other is Akkadian, its successor, which came to be employed as


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the lingua franca for the entire Near East in the 2nd millennium. It is these two scripts which supply us with the material for understanding a perception of colour and colour symbolism in Mesopotamia. For it is by examining the employment of colour terms in texts which provides the clues to their possible meaning and value in antiquity.

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Berlin and Kay’s model is a theoretical template which is a valuable guide to approaching an analysis of colour terminology in developing societies. However, it should be emphasized here that this model is not ‘set in stone’ and has, in fact, been disputed in scholarship for not applying to specific ancient cultures. Indeed, it is based on linguistic grounds and therefore may not necessarily apply directly to the discussion of a perception of colour from antiquity. It does, however, provide a solid guide for demonstrating that colour terms in a language first develop systematically out of a simple pairing of contrasting light and dark shades without specific emphasis on hue.

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Near Eastern scholars have identified five core linguistic terms for colour in Mesopotamian texts. These terms do not match modern notions of hue, but are relatively consistent with the theoretical model developed by Brent Berlin and Paul Kay in the 1970s. This model argued that cultures evolve a linguistic vocabulary for colour as social complexity develops. They established a clear seven stage pattern for colour word evolution which begins with the simplest concept, the notion of light and dark; the colours white and black. Subsequently a language then acquires terms for red, either yellow or green, green or yellow, to blue, then brown and so on until finally the more blended tints like grey, pink, orange and The ‘Queen of the Night (Burney) Relief’, 1800-1750 BCE, British Museum, London; Recent examination of purple.

chemical residues from this baked clay plaque have established that it was originally overlaid with red, black and white paint pigments. The background behind the figure was black while the ‘underworld’ goddess figure (Inanna or Ereshkigal) was painted red. Feathering on both the goddess’s wings and the owls´ were patterned red, black and white. Credit: Wiki Commons.

others in the past. My object with this discussion is to address the practical significance of colour use and therefore shall attempt an analysis of the symbolic function and value of colour in visual design from Mesopotamia. It will therefore be necessary to employ the linguistic evidence in combination with the visual.

In this article it is not my intention to give With regard to the visual evidence, our view you an extended analysis of philological ap- of Mesopotamian art and design is influenced proaches to Mesopotamian colour vocabu- by the passage of time. Unlike Egypt, where lary evolution, this has been ably handled by conditions were favourable to the preservation 17


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Wooden gaming board inlaid with white shell, lapis lazuli and red limestone, ‘The Royal Game of Ur’ from the Royal Cemetery at Ur in southern Mesopotamia, 2600-2400 BCE, British Museum. Credit: Wiki Commons.

of pigment colours, Mesopotamia supplies us with meagre material for a practical analysis of colour. Wall paintings are scarce and where extant the damage and fading of original colours is extensive. This means that when we view Mesopotamian art we tend to perceive a more monochrome vision of the past. It is difficult to put this impression aside and embrace what was in actuality, an artistic palette of rich and translucent colour. It is this paucity which necessitates examining the textual evidence for the significance of colour and brings us to the main discussion.

green stone) and orange (a fruit). Note: For the following, all colour words written in bold face represent the Sumerian form and all italicised, the Akkadian (but not all variant spellings, for the lexical citations see Black et al. 2000). WHITE

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BABBAR or peṣu was equivalent in value to the colour white and was used to describe concepts of light, shine, brilliance, radiance, holiness, ritual purity and occasionally The Mesopotamian language had five core uncoloured (devoid of colour). terms which may be associated with colour. These included the complementary shades, It was an auspicious colour, the name of the white and black, and the warm and cold sun god Utu/Šamaš, the noun for ‘day’ and hues, red and green. In addition, there was was derived from a notion of brightness. an isolated term used to describe the idea of The ideogram (sign) evolved from an early coloured or patterned. It is worth noting that representation of the rising sun. In addition, core colour terms may be identified by their white was symbolically equated with the existence as a stand alone word not derived precious metals silver and antimony. It was from a proper noun for an object of a given also applied as an epithet for the moon god colouring. To illustrate this idea one may Nanna/Sîn and the planet Venus/the goddess compare the English core terms, red and blue Inanna, and should therefore be interpreted as against the derived terms, turquoise (a blue- a quality of lightness, or radiance, particularly 18


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Black, red and white conical mosaic pegs decorating architectural columns in the courtyard of the Eanna temple of the goddess Inanna from Uruk in southern Mesopotamia, 3400-3100 BCE, Pergamon Museum, Berlin. Credit: Wiki Commons.

associated with the heavenly bodies. BLACK GE6, or ṣalmu embraced dark, sombre hues; ranging from dark grey and dark blue, through to black proper.

ṣalmu was considered inauspicious and

associated with the night, gloom and shadow. It was used to refer to a 2nd millennium Hurrian underworld deity and demon, the Goddess of Darkness, whom scholars consider to be a northern adoption of the Mesopotamian demon Lamaštu. Predictably, the ideogram, when doubled (kukku, ‘darkness’) was one of

many names for the netherworld where the dead were thought to reside. As an abstract concept the noun embraced all subtleties relating to concepts of darkness, misery, sombreness and shadow. This does not, however, infer that the colour was avoided in visual representation, for it was not, on the contrary it was an important component of visual design in compositions with white and red. RED-BROWN SU4 or sāmu was broadly equivalent to the colour red, but leaned heavily towards dark red and the colour brown. 19


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Yellow, blue, black and white glazed brick frieze of Persian warriors from the palace of Darius at Susa, 500 BCE, Pergamon Museum, Berlin. Credit: Wiki Commons.

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It was auspicious and considered to ward off hostile forces. Red was a colour specifically associated with the representation of divinity, particularly in describing the physical features of gods. The goddess Inanna/Ištar bore the name ‘red lady of heaven’, a title reflective of her character as goddess of the morning and evening star, the planet Venus. The planet Mars was also associated with this colour for, similar to our usage, it was called the ‘red planet’. sāmu was also used to describe the colour of the heavens at both sunrise and sunset and, like white, was equated with the idea of brilliance and radiance. The semiprecious stone carnelian, which was popular for use in jewellery, bore this noun as its name.

such as ‘blood’, are in evidence (dāmu); also embracing ideas of brightness, darkness, passion and heat (Landsberger 1967, pp. 146-7). As one example, ḪUŠ or ḫušša was a derived term which favoured bright red and was employed in the context of blood, fire, the metal copper, storm, battle and the emotion of rage. The goddess Inanna/ Ištar, also bore the epithet ‘she of the red face’, again a title reflective of her aspect as goddess of the planet Venus (Barrett 2007, pp. 25-6), but equally this may reflect her role as patron of battle and warriors. This colour then included the aggressive and destructive nature of divinity.

GREEN-YELLOW Adjectives of intensification were often applied for shades of red, such as ‘dark’ SIG7 or warqu embraced the range of hues and ‘bright’, and terms derived from nouns, from yellow through to green.

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black materials and yet again was associated with notions of brilliance and radiance. It is the usage of this name for a precious stone which reflects the esteem that the colour blue held in Mesopotamian thought, for lapis lazuli was exceedingly valuable throughout the ancient Near East due to its rarity and attractive visual lustre. The stone itself is visually enhanced by small flecks of silvery pyrite and white calcite within the matrix of dark blue. These give the mineral a shimmering quality perhaps reminiscent of the night sky.

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Having examined the four preceding terms for colour, the reader may be interested to note that there was apparently no core term for the primary colour blue and that yellow (another primary colour) was subsumed within the colour green. This fits reasonably neatly into the theoretical model nonetheless, but we are subsequently confounded by the apparent absence of a core term for blue. It would be pointless to suggest that the complete absence of a word for blue is an indication of an indifference to the colour, as Landsberger argued in 1967, for there is copious evidence for a distinct value for blue in Mesopotamia from both ancient texts and archaeology.

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It was auspicious and employed to convey notions of freshness, fertility and ripeness. It described plants, ripened fruit, trees and, on occasion, was also used to describe the sky. This usage has provoked an argument that it must extend out to include the colour blue (perhaps a light blue). Green also functioned as a simile for brilliant, radiant or luminescent with the noun warqu originally stemming from a word for plant or vegetation. As white was symbolically equated with silver, greenyellow was associated with the precious mineral gold. In visual design however, it was less common, and primarily appears as yellow proper rather than green. Interestingly, yellow was often used specifically for the depiction of ‘forces of chaos’, such as lions, demons and hybrid monsters.

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No doubt the high value related to this stone’s rarity and therefore made it an ideal symbol for royal prerogative, for the power for obtaining and distributing lapis lazuli resided with rulers. However, it is not blue in isolation that was necessarily ubiquitous to Mesopotamian colour schemes. Rather, it was the employment of a balanced composition of colours which had its greatest impact on design. And this idea is reflected in the value of our final core colour term, burrumu. MULTI-COLOURED

DAR or burrumu ‘polychrome’ was a separate colour concept in its own right and while equating with the word ‘colour’, was perhaps most focussed within an idea of variegation, patterning or ornamentation, a word common to other ancient cultures (ancient Greek: poikilos/ποικιλος and pharaonic Egyptian: seb/s3b), but not neccessarily engaging to BLUE: uqnu contemporary western culture. burrumu was associated with ideas of speckling, The colour blue as a separate entity was ornamentation and ‘intricate’, was an epithet instead expressed by employing the term for of the goddess Inanna/Ištar (but also was confused with red) and was represented by the blue stone lapis lazuli; ZA.GÌN/uqnu. the ideogram for a bull´s horn. This precious stone and the colour blue were eminently auspicious and associated A sense of the concept is perhaps conveyed by as symbols of opulence and holiness for its usage to describe the patterning on animal both gods and kings. uqnu was employed hides or embroidered textiles, and would also to describe dark blue, dark purple and even explain the Mesopotamian preference for

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Detail of the predominantly blue glazed brick ornamental frieze from the throne room of the palace of Nebuchadnezzar II, Babylon, 604-562 BCE, Pergamon Museum, Berlin. Credit: Wiki Commons.

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Necklace of onyx, lapis lazuli, carnelian, obsidian and gold from southern Mesopotamia, 3000-2000 BCE, Pergamon Museum, Berlin. Credit: Wiki Commons.

variegated stones such as agate, jasper and chalcedony for luxury jewellery. In addition, the term places a much higher value on patterning as a unique colour concept, one on which we ourselves do not place the same value. Mesopotamian visual design outwardly reflected both social and religious thought and placed emphasis on ornamentation as a tangible reflection of abstract ideals of universal harmony and abundance (Winter 2002).

appear to be accidental and may reinforce the idea of the necessity for balance between the three cosmic elements, heaven, earth and the underworld; for Mesopotamian religious thought perceived the universe as composed of three spheres, in which the heavens where the gods dwelt lay above the human sphere and the realm of the dead below (Bottero 1992).

Apart from this tricolour pattern, the dominant colour combination in Mesopotamian design For patterning, the colours white, red and was the pairing of red with blue (or black). blue are ubiquitous to Mesopotamian repre- This dichotomy has been argued as symbolic sentation throughout the long period under of the fundamental dualities, the masculine discussion. This colour convention does not force balanced with the feminine, heaven 23


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Detail of the ‘War panel’ on the ‘Standard of Ur’ from the Royal Cemetery at Ur in southern Mesopotamia, lapis lazuli, shell and red limestone, 2600-2400 BCE, British Museum. Credit: Wiki Commons.

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with earth, and the divine sphere with the human realm (Winter 1999; Barrett 2007). In this instance both colours, alone and together in combination, appear to reference varying notions of divinity and the realm of the gods. Red and blue may also have functioned as a metaphor for the divine pairing of the goddess Inanna/Ištar and her male partner, the shepherd god Dumuzi/Tammuz, where the female element is inferred by the colour red and the male by the colour blue. Perhaps this equally referenced the goddess of love and war’s androgynous nature, as her (red) figure was traditionally represented adorned with lapis lazuli jewellery (Barrett 2007).

LIGHT: namru Beyond the value of patterning, both the popularity of the pairing of red with blue and the combination of red, white and blue, the highest value for colour in Mesopotamia appears to have been the quality of light and brilliance. Terms for bright or radiant are common for descriptions of valued objects such as jewellery, weapons and cult statues and also tend to function as similes for both purity and sanctity. As would be expected, these nouns often stem from the sign for sunlight and therefore, the colour white; UD/ peṣu.

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To further illustrate this association of red and The emphasis on brightness over hue in languages is blue with the divine sphere; in a text describing not an isolated occurrence, for focus on colour is also the heavens, the highest, belonging to the sky a relatively recent linguistic development for the English language. This changeover appears to have occurred during god An/Anu, was composed of red carnelian, the Middle English period, 1000-1400 CE (Hardin and Maffi). also the throne of the god was considered to be composed of lapis lazuli and lit with amber (Rochberg 2009). Red paired with blue In opposition or balance with this value for therefore conveyed strong visual messages of light is the idea of dark as an essential complementary negative force. After all, dark colours divine presence and worldly harmony.

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shared equal footing in visual representation and therefore were considered necessary components of a composition. Terms for dark colours such as adaru and da’mu, while arguably representing negative and destructive influences, were equally essential elements to a balanced and harmonious design.

perfected with gold, silver, eye chalcedony,

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“Year in which Hammurabi the king fashioned a magnificent dais-throne,

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Perhaps it is worth noting that it is common for academic literature to equate lightness and radiance with the usage of terms for shininess. I would emphasize that lightness and darkness values do not automatically align with the value of shine as opposed to matt. To illustrate this point, dark stones like lapis lazuli may nonetheless be polished to a high degree of shine and gloss, and this factor should be taken into account when assessing colour perception in antiquity.

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about the careful choice of colour, in addition, luminous colours themselves were considered manifestations of the presence of divinity and of divine sanction and they broadcast to the world notions of holiness and ritual purity (Winter 2002). Therefore minerals, such as lapis lazuli, carnelian, silver and gold which could be worked and polished to a glossy Here the function of dark colours may again and translucent finish were highly prized for incorporate the idea of an ordered universe, the construction of precious objects (Winter with evil influences harnessed by the light. Just 1999). as similarly the motif of a ruler demonstrating “Τhe outermost battlement was white, The second, control over the forces of chaos was an black, the third, dark red, The fourth dark blue, the important feature of royal iconography in fifth orange. the ancient Near East. A neat example of In this manner the entire circumference of the this idea from contemporary culture is the ramparts was coloured. And the two innermost walls blue and white glass bead which is still used were one entirely plated with silver And the other with gold.” throughout the Middle East as an amulet to avert the evil eye and bring luck to its bearer. Herodotus (Historiae, I.98.25) describing the walls of the Median citadel at Ekbatana, ca. 450 BCE, translation by the author.)

In summary, the preceding discussion noted that while the Mesopotamian language had a limited linguistic scope for concepts of colour, materially the colour vocabulary was rich and meaningful. Emphasis, however, lay in qualities of light and shine which equated with notions of spirituality, and in patterning which advertised ideas of harmony and world order. In addition, specific colours held important symbolic associations, such as red with divinity, green with abundance and, importantly, the colour blue with ideas of divinely sanctified power and opulence.

chalcedony of GIR.MUŠ type and ZA.GIN.TA (lapis lazuli)

In reflection, it appears that in ancient shining like radiance for Inanna of Babylon to Mesopotamia the choice of colour in the complete her chariot.” construction of an object was not at all random, but rather, it was a conscious decision (Name of Year 14, reign of Hammurabi, Babylon, in the entire construction of meaning and 1792-1750) value. Perhaps next time you, the reader, In Mesopotamia the visual qualities of an view an artefact in a book or at a museum, artwork, that is the shine, colour and patterning, think about the impact of colour and light on outwardly demonstrated the object’s spiritual the object of your interest. In addition, think and aesthetic value. This value was not just about how the choices made in the design

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may reflect tangible manifestations of the divine in Mesopotamian thought. *** Further Reading Barrett, C. E. ‘Was Dust Their Food and Clay Their Bread? Grave Goods, the Mesopotamian Afterlife and the Liminal Role of Inana/Ishtar’. Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions 7, (2007). 7-65. Berlin, B. & P. Kay. Basic Colour Terms: Their Universality and Evolution. Linguistic Connections to Colour Terminology (and Social Complexity). California: Stanford University. (1999) Black, J., A. George & N. Postgate. A Concise Dictionary of Akkadian: Akkadian-English. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. (2000) Bottero, J. Mesopotamia: Writing, Reasoning and the Gods. London: University of Chicago Press. (1992) Hardin, C.L. & L. Maffi. Color Categories in Thought and Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University. (1997)

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Landsberger, B. Über Farben im SumerischAkkadischen’. Journal of Cuneiform Studies 21 (1967). 139-173 Winter, I. J. ‘The Aesthetic Value of Lapis Lazuli in Mesopotamia’. In Cornaline et pierres précieuses: La Méditerranée, de l’Antiquité à l’Islam, editor A. Caubet, Paris: Louvre. (1999). 43-58. Winter, I. J. ‘Defining “Aesthetics” for Non-Western Studies: The Case of Ancient Mesopotamia’. In Art History, Aesthetics, Visual Studies, editors M.A Holly & K. Moxey, New Haven: Yale University. (2002). 3-28. Web Links ePSD, Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary Project: http://psd.museum.upenn.edu/epsd/nepsd-frame. html [Last edited: 06/26/06, accessed 12/01/12]. ***


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The bull in the bas-relief on the Ishtar Gate at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. Credit: Wiki Commons.


Rebelling Against the Gods Egyptian Tomb Robbery By Lisa Swart PhD

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ver since the inclusion of funerary goods in Egyptian tombs, burials have been plundered for the valuable objects within. This article surveys the motives of the robbers, tomb protection in the form of

architectural devices and divine agency. The legal system and punishment of

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thieves is also described.

“As for any rebel who will rebel and who will plan in his heart to desecrate this tomb and what it contains, who will destroy the inscriptions and damage the statues in the tombs of the ancestors and the temple of Ra-Qerert with no fear of the court, he shall not be glorified in the necropolis, the seat of the glorified spirits, his property shall not exist in the necropolis, his children shall be expelled from their tombs, he shall be an enemy of the glorified spirits whom the lord of the necropolis does not know, his name shall not be mentioned among the spirits, his memory shall not endure among those living on earth, water shall not be poured for him, offerings shall not be given to him on the wag-feast and any other beautiful feast of the necropolis. He shall be handed over to the court, his city god shall abominate him, his relatives shall abominate him, his farm shall fall to fire, his house to the devouring flame. Everything which comes forth from his mouth, the gods of the necropolis shall repudiate it.” 28

So proclaims the inscription of Tomb III at Assuit serving as a warning to any would-be violators. By no means unusual, this tomb curse is part of a vast corpus of “threat formulae” common throughout Egyptian history - a sad testament to the prevalence of tomb robbery in ancient Egypt. The very nature of the Egyptian funerary beliefs necessitated the inclusion of grave goods, which together with the mummy ensured the survival of the deceased in the afterlife. Paradoxically, the temptation these grave goods created led to the plundering of the tombs of rich and poor alike endangered their existence. Consequently, tomb robbery was taken very seriously by the king and his officials, and prosecuted accordingly.

Provisioning the dead - a veritable goldmine The ancient Egyptians believed that the Afterlife was a mirror of life on earth, thus all the


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The innermost coffin of King Tutankhamun, it weighs 110.4 kilograms and is made of solid gold. The two outer coffins were made from wood and gilded. Credit: Wiki Commons.

necessities of life and comforts they enjoyed would also be available and necessary in the Afterlife. For tomb robbers, the promise of untold wealth contained in the tombs proved irresistible. We only have to look at the contents of the tomb of Tutankhamun to understand the driving force behind these robberies. It is one of the best-preserved royal tombs, however, contrary to popular belief, it was not discovered intact. It had been entered at least twice in ancient times, resealed, and, thankfully, forgotten. Tutankhamun’s tomb contained a phenomenal amount of valuable tomb goods, over three thousand objects in all, which took Howard Carter over ten years to catalogue. Most of these objects were manufactured from or covered in gold, such as his solid gold coffin and death mask. Additional objects made from precious materials such as lapis lazuli, turquoise and

amethyst are attested in great abundance. It is interesting to note that the fabulous wealth of Tutankhamun’s tomb was much less grand than the other royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings. Ironically, our knowledge of the contents of several tombs comes from a series of court documents or the “tomb robbery papyri,” these include the famous Papyrus Abbott and Papyrus Amherst – Leopold II. The documents recorded the legal inquiries, confessions, and inventories of stolen goods regarding series of tomb robberies during the reign of Rameses IX (1126 – 1108 BCE). From the Papyrus Amhurst-Leopold, the testimony of Amunpanefer and his colleagues who robbed the pyramid of King Sebekensaf of the Seventeenth Dynasty provides a tantalizing 29


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The Papyrus Abbott describes a political scandal that erupted during the reign of Rameses IX (1126 – 1108 BCE). In the document, Paweraa (a seemingly wily fellow) was accused of plundering the tombs in his jurisdiction. His accuser and rival, Paser, the mayor of Eastern Thebes, sent for an inquiry into the allegations. Of the ten royal tombs purported to have been desecrated, only the pyramid of Sobekemsaf II, a pharaoh of the Seventeenth Dynasty (1650 – 1550 BCE) was robbed. However, it was discovered that bands of thieves had been systematically looting the private tombs in the area. Paweraa appears to have exonerated himself in this case, by shifting the blame elsewhere, and Paser is shown in a very bad light. The document also records the proceedings from the trial with the thieves’ confessions and the descriptions of the tombs that were looted. (Twentieth Dynasty, c. 1100 BCE. British Museum, London. Credit: Wiki Commons.

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hint at the riches contained therein. The thieves state that “We opened their sarcophagi and their coffins in which they were, and found the noble mummy of this king equipped with a falchion (sword); a large number of amulets and jewels of gold were upon his neck, and his headpiece of gold was upon him. The noble mummy of this king was completely bedecked with gold, and his coffins adorned with gold and silver inside and out and inlaid with all kinds of precious stones.” The gold taken from the coffins of Sebekensaf and his queen amounted to 160 deben (14.5 kilograms).

impossible to trace back to the tomb once it was sold. Furthermore, the malleability of the materials made it relatively simple to divide the spoils between the thieves. When the objects in the tomb were gilded over wood, such as the faces and hands of coffins, and decorative elements of furniture, the precious metals were either hacked off or the object was burned and the metals extracted.

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In the same series of tomb robbery papyri, the thief, Paherihat confessed that “I went to the tombs of the West of Thebes (naming his accomplices)…We entered the tombs of the Robbers were mostly interested in goods West of Thebes and we stripped off all the silver that were easy to transport and dispose of. and gold which we found in the tombs…” AnObjects made from valuable metals such as other unnamed thief testified how he and his gold, silver, and copper were melted down, cohorts “went to the tomb of Thanufer, Third making it easier to transport the loot, and Prophet of Amun. We opened it and brought

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The gilded facemask from the coffin of Pedusiri, comprised of wood and plaster, gold leaf was applied to the face. It was believed that gold symbolized the flesh of the gods. Late Period or early Graeco-Roman Period, c.500 – 250 BCE. Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin. Public Domain.

out its contents: we took its mummy and threw it down in a corner of its tomb. We took his mummy cases to this boat…we set fire to them in the night. We stripped off the gold which we found on them…” Similarly, goods such as textiles, perfumes, cosmetics, precious varieties of wood and ivory were highly valued by thieves. To add insult to injury, the mummies themselves were often the targets of robbery as they typically contained jewelry or amulets of precious metals and stones in specific symbolic locations within their bandages. The thieves would strip the wrappings off the mummy; and the corpse would often be hacked or burned to facilitate the extraction of the valuable metals. The damaged corpse of “the Elder Lady” found in KV35. The hole in the chest is thought to have been made by robbers reaching into the chest cavity to extract gold amulets that were placed on the heart to protect the mummy in the Afterlife. From Grafton Elliot Smith’s “The Royal Mummies.” 1912. Public Domain. 31


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were buried in underground chambers as it was recognized it was no longer safe to store Over time, more and more luxury items were them above ground. Security measures were included in Egyptian tombs, thus further- already in place in the mastaba tombs of the ing the need for Egyptian architects to keep Early Dynastic and Old Kingdom where portadapting and developing new tomb designs cullises were installed, these great slabs of to ensure the integrity of the tomb. From stone slid into place and blocked the entrance very early on in Egyptian history, grave goods stairwell to the burial chamber. In later tombs, 32


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The mastaba of Seshemnefer III, the vizier of ancient Egypt, in the foreground with the pyramid of Chephren in the background at Giza. (Fifth Dynasty, c. 2450 BCE. Credit: Wiki Commons.

the entrance was obstructed by rubble.

the architects of the pyramid of Amenemhat III (1855-1808 BCE) at Hawara created a series Due to their immense size and considerable of hidden trapdoors and cul-de-sacs in an treasure, pyramids became a prime target attempt to mislead and discourage robbers. for thieves. With each successive ruler, archi- But, to no avail! When Flinders Petrie sent a tects attempted to outwit prospective thieves worker into the burial shaft, he reported that and kept changing the internal design of the only traces of the burial remained. The inking’s pyramid. In a great show of ingenuity, dustrious thieves had bypassed the obstacles 33


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and breached the burial chamber, which had been carved from solid granite, through the roof blocks (Taylor, 2001: 179). A major change in mortuary architecture took place during the New Kingdom when the royal tombs were carved into the cliffs in of the Valley of the Kings on the west bank of the Nile at Thebes (modern Luxor). The tombs 34

were painstakingly tunneled deep into the cliffs and a deep pit was excavated before the tomb chamber, it is unknown whether this pit served as a deterrent for robbers or had a mythical significance. The tombs were then decorated, and funerary goods deposited within the burial chamber. The tomb entrances were carefully sealed and hidden to make them blend into the surrounding landscape,


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The pyramid of Amenemhat III (1855 – 1808 BCE) at Hawara contained the most complex security features in Egypt, however it was robbed in antiquity. This was the second pyramid Amenemhat built as the first one at Dashur (the Black Pyramid) was abandoned due to construction problems. Credit: Wiki Commons.

no longer serving as a beacon to prospective thieves. However, enterprising thieves found their way in, and successfully burrowed their way from tomb to tomb. The burial equipment itself was designed to offer additional protection. The mummies of royalty and high-ranking officials were placed in thick stone sarcophagi made from the

hardest workable stone such as quartzite, basalt, and granite. However, industrious thieves succeeded in pilfering the contents by levering the lids open or burrowing the side of the sarcophagi. Locking mechanisms were also added to the coffin lids of royal sarcophagi of the Old Kingdom and on the wooden coffins of the elite of the Middle Kingdom. However, John Taylor (2001: 179) states that this may 35


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have been to prevent theft by priests respon- The Egyptian legal system and sible for the burial. retribution Robbing the dead was by no means confined Tomb robbery was reviled in ancient Egypt to the tomb. The embalming process offered as it threatened the afterlife existence of the an ideal opportunity for pilfering of jewelry deceased. According to the Egyptian worldview, when the tomb of a king was violated by less than honest embalmers. it endangered the stability and security of 36


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View of the Valley of the Kings in Luxor Credit: Wiki Commons.

Egypt, as the deceased king still played a role in assuring ma’at (order and stability). Tomb robbers were labeled “rebels,� a term that was steeped in Egyptian mythology. By their misdeeds, the robbers (or rebels) had shown themselves to be agents of chaos and were thus associated with the gods Seth or Apophis, who symbolized disorder.

The tomb robbery papyri provide a clear picture of the judicial process involved in prosecuting tomb robbers. From these documents, it appears that harsh sanctions were imposed for tomb violations within the judicial system. The severity of this transgression commanded the personal attention of the Vizier, who was responsible for the day-to-day administration 37


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of the kingdom. People suspected of “disturbing the peace of the dead” were arrested and had to appear before a court. The tribunal consisted of a commission of dignitaries from both ecclesiastical and governmental offices, and the trial was held in the Great Assembly (“Great Qenbet”) in the capital city. The suspects were then “examined,” a euphemistic term to describe the beating in which the alleged robber had the bastinado applied to his feet and hands; a particularly painful process involving the whipping of the soles of the feet. This method of interrogation, after several applications, appears to have the desired effect of producing a confession. Suspects were then required to swear a divine oath upon penalty if found lying, “if I speak a falsehood, may I be mutilated and sent to Kush,” swears one tomb robber after being thoroughly examined.

Thieves often worked in close collaboration with corrupt priests and well-bribed officials. The case of the quarryman, Amunpanefer, whose predations of the tomb of Sebeksenef (mentioned above) and several other tombs with various gangs was disclosed after a formal investigation is a classic example. Amunpanefer confessed that when he was arrested for the second time he bribed the official who caught him and succeeded in escaping, whereas he committed several robberies. “I took 20 deben (almost 2 kilograms) of gold that had fallen to me as my portion, and gave them to Khaemope, the scribe of the quarter…He released me and I rejoined my companions and they compensated me with a portion once again. Thus, I together with other thieves… have continued down to this day in the practice of robbing tombs.”

These cases were thoroughly prosecuted and no stone was left unturned; the suspect was cross-examined, and witnesses were brought in to corroborate the suspect’s testimony. Finally, judgment was wrought upon the suspect. The death penalty, which had been set by the king himself, is frequently mentioned as typical punishment. If the suspect and witnesses were found to have committed perjury, they were sent into penal servitude, mutilated (arms, ears or nose cut off), or impaled. Associated crimes, such as bribery were punished by penal servitude. Recipients of stolen goods were punished with mutilation and impalement. The Lifetime Protection Plan: The

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artists, craftsmen, etc) were very well placed to perpetrate such crimes, and it seems were actively involved in pillaging tombs. The level of criminality reached well into the upper administrative ranks, and many officials turned a blind eye to these illicit activities. Once again, the tomb robbery papyri give us great insight into the names and professions of the thieves, which were recorded and the specific crimes of the perpetrators were written down. The highest-ranking officials mentioned in these documents were Djehutyhotep, Chief Doorkeeper of the Temple of Amun, and Paweraa, the Mayor of Western Thebes.

Curse of the Mummy “The Butcher, the Baker, and the Chief Doorkeeper of the Temple of Amun” Extending the range of social institutions In the tomb robbery papyri mentioned above, tomb robbery appears to have been a professional operation, with networked gangs of men working assiduously to enrich themselves. Frequently, the people associated with the necropolis or tomb workers (stone masons, 38

such as police and law-courts, the Egyptians turned to the metaphysical world for further refuge and protection. The covert criminality of tomb robbing necessitated the need for justice and retribution to take place in both this world and the next. Here, the tomb owner protected himself by calling for divine inter-


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Medinet Habu was the administrative seat at Thebes where the thieves from the tomb robbery papyri were detained and tried in a court of law. Photo courtesy of Author.

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vention. This comprised of curses, imprecations that threatened anyone who trespassed and violated a tomb with severe punishments in this life and the next. “As regards any nome governor, any son of man, any noble man or any civilian, who will fail to protect this tomb and its contents, his god will not accept his white bread, he will not be buried in the West [cemetery], and their flesh will burn together with that of the criminals, they have been turned into ones who do not exist,” avows an inscription warning any potential violators of Tomb III at Assuit. The stated penalties typically comprised of removal from office, banishment from society, and the death penalty (often by fire or dismemberment). Communication with the gods would cease with the god’s refusal to accept the thief’s offerings and he would be unknown to them. Essentially, the thief would lose his identity and the right to be buried. Consequently, the Egyptian robber could not expect an afterlife, as his corpse was destroyed and his name erased from memory - a worse possible fate could not be imagined. Not only would the robbers actions affect him, but his entire family, as can be seen in Ankhtifi’s tomb inscription at Mo’alla. “As regards any ruler who will rule in Mo’alla and who will commit a bad, evil act against this coffin and against any part of this tomb, his arm will be cut off for Hemen at his procession… Hemen will not accept his meat offering…and his heir will not inherit from him.” Here the punishment also affected his children in that they would not take over his post and inherit any physical property from him. This would have had a major economic impact on the family for many generations. Other threats include far-reaching effects such as expelling the violator’s children from their own tombs.

Reappropriation and reuse of funerary goods Despite the abhorrence of tomb robbery in

Egyptian society, it was common practice in times of economic crisis to “reappropriate” and reuse funerary goods from older burials. For example, coffins were altered to suit the current funerary trends and sold to willing customers. Labelled “recommodification” by Egyptologists, this practice was especially prevalent from the late New Kingdom. From the short reigns of the successive kings Rameses IV to Rameses XI (ca. 1151 BCE - 1078 BCE), Egypt’s pharaohs ruled over a declining kingdom, the authority of the pharaohs became increasingly diluted by the power of the high priests of Amun at Thebes, later, plunging the country into civil war. Economic crises and the threat of invasions did little to keep the country on track. During the Third Intermediate Period (ca.1070 – 712 BCE), royal and private tombs in Thebes were plundered for all their contents to fill state coffers. Under the pretext of restoration, the high priests of Amun had the bodies of the great New Kingdom pharaohs rewrapped, where many mummies were stripped of their gold, and moved to safer locations. It seems that divine retribution was not a cause for concern when the state or religious institutions supported the pillaging of tombs.

Conclusion In his seminal publication “The Rape of the Nile,” Brian Fagan states that the plundering of tombs could be considered a timehonoured past time in Egypt. Even Howard Carter wrote in his diary on the inevitability of tomb robbery, conjuring up images of determined thieves painstakingly carving their way through tons of rock to claim their gold. It is quite clear from the way the robbers treated the mummies and desecrated the tombs that they did not fear threats of divine retribution. Additionally, the harsh legal sentences appear to have had little effect as a deterrent, although a suspect in the tomb robbery papyri declared his innocence by stating, “ I


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Further Reading Assmann, J. When Justice Fails: Jurisdiction and Imprecation in Ancient Egypt and the Near East. The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 78 (1992), 149-162 Capart, J., Gardiner, A. H., and van de Walle, B. New Light on the Ramesside Tomb-Robberies. The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 22, No. 2 (Dec., 1936), 169-193 Fagan, B. The Rape of the Nile: Tomb Robbers, Tourists, and Archaeologists in Egypt. Oxford: Westview Press. (2004). Lorton, D. The Treatment of Criminals in Ancient Egypt: Through the New Kingdom. Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, Vol. 20, No. 1, Special Issue on The Treatment of Criminals in the Ancient Near East (Jan., 1977), 2-64 Peet, T. E. The Great Tomb Robberies of the Twentieth Egyptian Dynasty. New York: Hildesheim (1997) Taylor, J. H. Death and the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. (2001) Willems, H. Crime, Cult and Capital Punishment (Mo’alla Inscription 8). The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 76 (1990), 27-54

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In reading these documents, it seems that nothing has changed, then as now, the economic benefits of tomb robbery far outweigh the threat of penalties enforced by the law. The plundering of Egyptian tombs and monuments continues to this day, as does the corruption and greed well attested in the ancient documents from thousands of years ago.

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saw the punishment which was done to thieves in the time of Kha-em-Waset (the Vizier). Truly, why am I going to seek death deliberately?“

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Bronze helmet, 7th-6th century BCE. Found in Montpellier in 1863. On display at the MusÊe gallo-romain de Fourvière, Lyon. Credit: Wiki Commons.


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A Brief History of Greek Helmets

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By Jesse Obert B.A.

The history of the Greek helmet began in the 17th century BCE, when the Mycenaean Empire controlled Greece. At the time, the Boar’s Tusk Helmet was popular throughout the region. This conically shaped helmet consisted of alternating levels of boars’ tusks in a style and design that may have originated in Western Europe (Snodgrass 19). The tusks were sewn into a felt or leather cap which served as the base of the helmet. In all reality, the boars’ tusks would have shattered after a single blow, but were an improvement over leather or even felt (Everson 10-11). Additionally, the laces holding the tusks in place would have been exposed and vulnerable, so leather

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arfare is a constantly changing aspect of human interaction. In Ancient Greece, an emphasis on camaraderie and communal reliance developed the concept of unit cohesion and specialization. Ultimately, Greece would become the birthplace of Western military thought. The maturation of this mentality can be traced through the stylistic and technological progression of military helmets. Experimentations with helmet design illuminate the limitations and intricacies of warfare as it was developed in the ancient world. Though the development of any technology is nonlinear, studying the evolution of stylistic designs reveals how the unique style of combat in Greece changed war.

strands were probably tied between the alternating tusks in order to protect the laces (Everson 7). Boar’s Tusk Helmets did not have a uniform design. Cheek guards were the first and most prominent addition to the helmet. They were formed from a single vertical series of boars’ tusks. Additionally, primitive versions of the iconic horsehair crest may have begun to appear on the Boar’s Tusk Helmets (Everson 9). Another decoration, which only appeared in the Bronze Age, was the addition of bulls’ or rams’ horns (Everson 9). The Boar’s Tusk Helmet may have been a prestige item related to hunting prowess (Snodgrass 19). Hunting was a frequent theme in Mycenaean art, and boar was often the target. The Boar’s Tusk Helmet was an effective display of skill as each helmet required somewhere between forty and fifty boars (Everson 10). As bronze forging techniques improved, bronze sheets began to be included in the Boar’s Tusk Helmet. The transition was by no means a universal one and many Bronze Age helmets restricted bronze to accessories such as cheek guards (Snodgrass 25-26). When bronze was used on the dome of the helmet, it initially took the form of small bronze disks which were sewn or clipped onto the 43


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Above Boar Tusk helmets from Mycenae (left) and Crete (right), c.14 cent BCE; Below: The Warrior Vase from Mycenae, depicting soldiers wearing what some scholars believe to be leather helmets with bronze studs. Credit: Wiki Commons.

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felt or leather cap underneath (Everson 39). Eventually full bronze helmets appeared, but these helmets were extremely thin and had to be attached to a cap (Everson 11).

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Near the end of the Bronze Age, neck guards began to appear in their most primitive form. They appear to have been a series of small interwoven bronze scales which draped from the back of the helmet (Everson 13). Additionally, horsehair crests became much more popular. These crests were rather simple and are often compared to the crests of Assyria and other Eastern states (Snodgrass 43).

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Despite the wide scale collapse of the Bronze Age empires in the 12th century BCE, the Boar’s Tusk Helmet continued to be an item of interest. The basic shape was maintained through the following Dark Age and had a Illyrian type bronze helmet from Argolis, 6th–5th noticeable influence on later Greek helmets centuries BCE. Credit: Wiki Commons. (Snodgrass 32). Though no Mycenaean helmets seemed to have physically survived, amongst the Macedonians and non-Greek Homer references and describes one in the Illyrians. However, the name is misleading as the Illyrian Helmet was originally developed 8th century BCE (Homer X.306-310). on the Peloponnese and quickly became In the 8th century BCE, two new helmets popular throughout Greece. Similar in shape emerged. They were made entirely of bronze to earlier Bronze Age helmets, the Illyrian and were products of advanced forging Helmet covered the entire head, cheeks, and techniques. Their sudden appearance and even part of the throat. Although, the face widespread adoption is often attributed was left open and the helmet was forged in to the dominant form of combat in the 8th two pieces which were soldered together century BCE. This dramatic style of violence along its peak (Snodgrass 52). involved crowds of heavily armoured men ramming into each other. At some point both Because the Illyrian Helmet was forged from sides would have a massive pushing contest two pieces, it was especially weak along the all the while trying to stab the enemy with a seam. The horsehair crest, which was already spear or sword. Though the details of Greek a psychological and stylistic asset, attempted battle are heatedly debated, scholars agree to address the issue. When the crest ran from that the Ancient Greek warrior was protected back to front it conveniently concealed and from head to foot except at their face, throat, strengthened the crease atop the Illyrian Helmet. This style of crest quickly became a and lower thigh. popular necessity, and for several centuries The first helmet was named the Illyrian Helmet Greek crests almost exclusively ran from front by later scholars because of its popularity to back (Everson 76).

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Left: A later Illyrian helmet with hinged cheek guards [Credit: Author]; Right: Corinthian style helmet from Sparta. Credit: Wiki Commons.

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The Illyrian Helmet had many weaknesses. The open face failed to address the dangers of intense close combat. Additionally, the forceful collisions involved in early Greek warfare made the structural weaknesses of the Illyrian Helmet a liability. The helmet was phased out and ultimately disappeared from Greece by the 5th century BCE (Everson 130). Interestingly, the Illyrian Helmet became a favourite of the Macedonians and Illyrians. These northern communities utilized light infantry, loose formations, and cavalry which all required the visibility of an open faced helmet.

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The Corinthian Helmet, which appeared around the same time as the Illyrian Helmet, was immensely more popular. It was remarkably strong as it was forged out of a single piece of bronze (Snodgrass 51). In addition, the face was entirely covered by a long nose guard and two thick cheek guards which almost met over the mouth. However, the helmet left the neck vulnerable and 46

was notoriously uncomfortable and heavy (Snodgrass 56). There was little to no padding, greatly restricted vision, and no ear holes. The wearer was partially blinded and practically deaf when he wore the helmet. This has led some authors to speculate whether the popularity of the Corinthian Helmet effectively postponed the invention of battlefield tactics as communication on the battlefield was almost certainly impossible (Hanson 71). An additional issue with the Corinthian Helmet was the cost. Corinthian Helmets had to be made specifically for each soldier (Snodgrass 59). If the helmet did not fit tightly over the soldier’s head, then a glancing blow could turn the helmet in battle and completely blind the soldier (Hanson 72). This need for an exact fit meant that the helmet could not be passed through families or recovered from battlefields. In Ancient Greece, soldiers had to purchase their own equipment and some men must have chosen the cheaper Illyrian Helmet or maybe even a leather alternative.


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Corinthian helmet dating to c.500 BCE, with a ridge around the peak of the head, but still missing ear holes. Credit: Wiki Commons.

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Front and sideview of Chalcidian type helmets. Credit: Wiki Commons.

By the end of the 6th century BCE, the Corinthian Helmet had been adapted to address its defects. The cheek guards and the back of the helmet were extended to rest on the wearer’s shoulders. This addition covered the neck and throat and dissipated the helmet’s weight. A ridge was added above the forehead encircling the peak of the helmet which allowed extra padding and additional protection from glancing blows. Finally, large ear holes were cut into the sides of the helmet to allow for communication on the battlefield (Snodgrass 94). This solidified the helmet’s popularity in Greece but, by the end of the 5th century BCE, the introduction of battlefield tactics and strategy had encouraged the Greek soldier to prefer more open helmets with better visibility.

the cheek pieces for the ears. At first glance the helmet looks like a rounded and lighter form of the Corinthian Helmet and may have been invented with that intention (Snodgrass 70).

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Like the Illyrian Helmet, the Chalcidian Helmet had a misleading name. It was named for its popularity in art from the city of Chalcis. However, the helmet first appeared in southern Italy and seems to have been invented by Greek colonists (Snodgrass 70). These settlers needed a strong helmet that would enable them to defeat the light infantry and cavalry of the local Italians. The Chalcidian helmet may have given them the visibility they needed while maintaining the protective shape of the Corinthian Helmet. The helmet was popularized on the mainland At the beginning of the 6th century BCE, the by the Athenians who seemed to prefer lighter Chalcidian Helmet began to appear. This helmets with more visibility (Snodgrass 70). helmet attempted to address the visibility and comfort issues of the Corinthian Helmet At the end of the 6th century BCE, as Corinthian while still providing adequate protection Helmets became less burdensome, a new for the face. The Chalcidian Helmet had a helmet was introduced on the western coast rounded nose guard and two large rounded of modern day Turkey. The region was called cheek guards. The eyeholes were slightly Ionia and was considered Greek. The Ionians larger and two slots were left open behind were known to combine eastern and western 48


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traditions to create hybridized technology, and the Ionian Helmet was no exception. It had a distinct neck guard and hinged cheek pieces. Additionally, the forehead had a large flat plate for extra protection. The cheek guards could be tied to the peak of the massive forehead guard, thereby leaving the face entirely open, or tied together at the chin. Though the absence of a nose guard or throat guard left the face less protected, the additional forehead guard and neck guard may have been reactions to a different style of combat (Snodgrass 65).

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The Ionians served in eastern armies as mercenaries and brought Greek combat to eastern battlefields (Herodotus II.152). At the time, battle in the Middle East relied much more heavily on missile weapons and loose formations. Ionian armourers may have added the thick forehead guard to protect the part of the helmet that stood out above the Greek warrior’s shield, and the neck guard to provide cover from missiles coming from above and behind the soldier. Nevertheless, the thick rounded cheek guards attempted to maintain the successful shape of the earlier Chalcidian helmet. The Ionian Helmet was especially popular in Athens, but at the end of the 6th century BCE the Athenians began to develop their own version, the Attic Helmet. The helmet originally appeared on artistic representations of Athena, but was eventually forged and utilized in battle (Snodgrass 69). In the century following the artistic introduction of the Attic Helmet, the Athenian military tended to avoid pitched battles. In the Peloponnesian War, 431 BCE – 404 BCE, the Athenians heavily relied on naval engagements and coastal raiding, both of which would have required lighter, more versatile equipment. In many ways, the Attic Helmet was an incorporation of the defensive success of the Chalcidian Helmet with the tactical benefits and stylistic popularity of the Ionian Helmet. This noticeable similarity to

Above: Warrior head vase from Ephesus or Rhodes representing an Ionian helmet. Credit: Penn Museum’ Below: Attic Helmet with ornamental forehead guard. Credit: Thefakebusters.

the Ionian Helmet and the Chalcidian Helmet has led many scholars to argue that it should not be recognized as a distinct style (Everson 132). The Attic Helmet was lighter than most Greek 49


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to a popular style of hat in Thrace, the region along the northernmost coast of the Aegean Sea. This similarity along with the time of its introduction has led several scholars to suggest that the helmet, or maybe just the style, was brought to Greece by Thracian mercenaries in the invading Persian Army (Snodgrass 104).

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The Thracian Helmet had a distinct brim over the face and eyes. This probably served as extra protection from missile weapons which began to reappear on Greek battlefields at the end of the 5th century BCE. Hinged and fitted cheek guards protected the face while still leaving plenty of space for the eyes and ears. The cheek guards on Thracian Helmets were usually elongated in order to provide additional protection for the neck and throat A Thracian helmet. Credit: Thefakebusters. (Snodgrass 104-105). Additionally, the cheek guards were attached with leather straps to a helmets and left the face completely open. hinge under the brim of the helmet. This would The neck guard was shorter than the Ionian have protected the hinge while allowing it to Helmet and left a significant amount of space be significantly lighter (Everson 139). for the ears. The cheek guards were hinged and sometimes they were even completely detachable (Snodgrass 69). Additionally, the cheek pieces were often fitted to each individual soldier’s face. This new style provided adequate protection and more visibility with a lighter guard. There was a forehead guard, though it was smaller than the guard on the Ionian Helmets. In fact, the forehead guard seems to have generally lost its practical application in favour of a decorative one. As warfare began to rely more and more on battlefield tactics and troop manoeuvres, helmets became lighter and lighter. The Attic Helmet managed to survive this time of transition and became a regular preference amongst later soldiers, including the Romans (Everson 135). At the beginning of the 5th century BCE, a new style of helmet appears to have been brought into Greece from the north. The Thracian Helmet is named for its similarities 50

A remarkably decorated Thracian helmet with a Phrygian styled peak. Credit: Thefakebusters.


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By its height, the Thracian Helmet tended to have a more forward rounded peak, in the Phrygian style. Occasionally, a horsehair crest decorated the top of the helmet, though crests in general had become significantly less common by the 4th century BCE. The Thracian Helmet continued to be popular amongst wealthier Greeks until the invasion of the Romans (Snodgrass 118).

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After Philip II’s military reforms in the 4th century BCE, nearly every soldier in the Macedonian Army wore a Thracian Helmet. Even Alexander the Great is said to have worn an elaborately decorated iron Thracian Helmet (Snodgrass 118). The military mindset at this time explains the immense popularity of the Thracian Helmet and Attic Helmet which provided good vision, hearing, and protection from missiles.

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Though the Thracian Helmet was present in 5th century BCE Greece, it was not as popular as the other helmets, such as the later Corinthian Helmet and the Attic Helmet. After the Persian Wars, warfare in Greece changed radically. The pattern of lightening the infantry’s panoply, which had been slow moving over the centuries, reached its peak in the 5th century and by the middle of the 4th century BCE some soldiers wore almost no armour and carried lighter, smaller shields. This noticeable trend in armour coincides with huge leaps in the understanding of battlefield tactics, troop specialization, and a sudden interest in military professionalism. A Boeotian helmet. Credit: Thefakebusters.

been a common image in art for centuries, as a felt version was often seen worn by Hermes, the god of trade and travel (Snodgrass 95). The Boeotian Helmet was one of the lightest and simplest metal helmets in Greece. It covered the top of the head and had a large all encompassing brim, but usually did not have cheek guards or a neck guard. The Boeotian Helmet was light and efficiently protected the wearer from missiles. By leaving the face entirely open, a soldier could survey the battlefield quickly and without difficulty. He could freely communicate with his companions and not be hindered by the helmet’s weight. Though some cavalrymen may have strapped the helmets to their head to prevent it from falling off, the general lack of accessories made it significantly easier and faster for a soldier to prepare for battle. However, one of the most significant benefits of the Boeotian Helmet was its low cost.

At the end of the 5th century BCE, the Boeotian Helmet was introduced. According to Xenophon, the Boeotian Helmet was the best helmet available for a cavalryman The Greek military system usually relied on (Xenophon XII, 3). This literary reference has self-funded troops from the top tiers of the led many archaeologists to conclude that the financial hierarchy. As the centuries passed Boeotian Helmet was originally invented as a and warfare became more advanced, armies cavalry helmet. Like the Thracian Helmet, the became bigger and more manpower was Boeotian Helmet was named for its similarity required. The wealthy aristocrats had less of to a popular style of hat (Snodgrass 94). It had a presence in the military, and states were

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tury BCE, a bronze version began to appear and during the Hellenistic era it was a popular infantry helmet. Like the Thracian Helmet, the Pilos Helmet occasionally had a horsehair crest, though crests were generally unusual at the time (Everson 136).

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The simplicity of the helmet may seem like a strange conclusion to the evolution of the Greek helmet, but several explanations have been proposed. Some argue that the advancement of battlefield tactics required that infantry have full vision and mobility (Everson 135). Another theory suggests that the lower class soldiers enlisted at the time could not afford the full panoply and so neglected the helmet in favour of a sturdy shield and weapon (Everson 136). Another A Pilos helmet. Credit: Wiki Commons. argument suggests that the helmet was forced to recruit from and rely on their poorer adopted because of a cultural competition citizenry. The influx of lower class soldiers, and instigated by the Spartans. the occasional state funded militias, created a huge demand for equipment that was both The first widespread adoption of the Pilos Helmet occurred in Sparta at the end of efficient and relatively cheap. the 5th century BCE. Apparently, when they After Alexander the Great spread Greek adopted the helmet they announced that culture and warfare across the Middle East, “they had nothing to hide, no fear or passion the region was gripped by large-scale wars in their faces� (Lendon 63). Before the Pilos between massive empires with huge armies Helmet was adopted in Sparta, they had of lower class citizens. This period is known predominantly used the Corinthian Helmet, as the Hellenistic era and lasted from the end which would have efficiently concealed of the 4th century BCE to the invasion of the their facial expressions (Lendon 53). The Romans in the 2nd and even 1st centuries BCE. Spartans argued that by adopting the Pilos Massive, closely packed infantry dominated Helmet they were exemplifying their bravery. the battlefield and this new style of warfare Some scholars argue that this boast put required even lighter and cheaper helmets. social pressure on other Greek communities At this time, the Boeotian Helmet became essentially forcing them to adopt the Pilos popular amongst infantry because of its low Helmet (Lendon 63). cost (Snodgrass 95). The Thracian Helmet and the lightest form of the Attic Helmet were still The Pilos Helmet provided unhindered popular, but the most common metal helmet communication, unrestricted vision, mobility, and a cheap alternative to contemporary metal in Greece was arguably the simplest. helmets. As warfare became more complex Like many of the later helmets, the Pilos Hel- and sophisticated it was the logical next step met was simply a metal version of a popular in the evolution of the helmet. Hellenistic hat. The Pilos was a brimless travelling cap combat relied on tightly packed groups common throughout Greece. In the 5th cen- working in unison; individual protection was 52


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Frontage of a bronze Corinthian helmet depicting the dispute of Heracles and Apollo for the Ceryneian Hind, beginning of the 5th century BCE, attributed to a workshop in Vulci. Credit: Bibi Saint-Pol/Wiki Commons.

sidelined in favour of troop manoeuvrability. Further Reading Battles had grown from single clashes of Everson, Tim. Warfare in Ancient Greece. Stroud: small communities to complex engagements Sutton Pub., 2004. Print. of huge empires. Hanson, Victor D. The Western Way of War. New York: Oxford UP, 1990. Print.

When the Romans invaded and ultimately conquered Greece, they brought peace to Herodotus. The Histories. Trans. Aubrey De the area. The centre of military advancement SĂŠlincourt. London: Penguin, 2003. Print. Homer. The Iliad. Trans. Robert Fagles. New moved to Italy, and many Greek helmets York, N.Y., U.S.A.: Viking, 1990. Print. were phased out in favour of lighter and Lendon, J. E. Soldiers and Ghosts. New Haven, stronger Roman helmets. Nevertheless, the CT: Yale UP, 2006. Print. legacy of the Greek helmet became a symbol of the technological and cultural superiority Snodgrass, Anthony M. Arms and Armour of the Greeks. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1967. Print. of Classical Greece. ***

Xenophon. On Horsemanship. Trans. H. G. Dakyns. Classic Reader. Blackdog Media, 27 Mar. 2003. Web.

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Souvenir from the Peloponnese A modern tour in landscape and history Part One

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By Aikaterini Kanatselou M.A. he brain wave of this article was a recent trip around the Peloponnese, a weekly sally of a small group of archaeologists. Its aim is to picture a random choice of exciting Peloponnesian

sites and places from different periods (Palaeolithic to Byzantine), areas (six out of the seven regional units) and natural landscapes (coasts, bays, peninsulas, plains, hills, caves). The subjective structure and the personal narration reflect a diary-like content, marking the diversity of the Peloponnesian historical landscape, open to the adventurous individual with a labyrinth of choices. You can follow the group day by day, either visiting popular destinations such as Mycenae and Olympia or just chasing the “brown” road-signs of the motorway which lead to less popular, hidden

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Stories of travelling in the Peloponnese

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The “island” of Pelops, the dark-faced king who became a play-thing for the Olympians, is a 21,439 square kilometres area of myth and fact, which takes root back in early prehistory to outgrow the classical world and define the nature of modern Hellenism. Strabo (Geographica, VIII) and Pausanias (Description of Greece, II-VIII), in late antiquity, were the first to attempt a systematic description of the historical landscape. The Chronicle of the Morea, written in the 14th 54

century, affected the perception of the West over Medieval Greece. The 15th century Italian scholars Ciriaco de Pizzicolli and Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, transmitted their discoveries of antiquarian interest, infusing the spirit of the Renaissance. In the 17th century, Evliya Çelebi, a Turkish chronographer travels extensively throughout the Peloponnese. Bernard Randolph, in 1671-79, was the first Englishman to record his memoirs of the Peloponnese. The French interest was enunciated by Francois Pouqueville and of course by François-René de Chateaubriand and successively culminated (often with political associations) in early the 19th century (Jean Alex-


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Map of the Peloponnese, marked with the sites

andre Buchon, Étienne Fourmont, Edgar Quinet, Henri Belle). In the orientalising 19th century, the British antiquarian interest in the Peloponnese was set alight, both romantically and practically (Lord Elgin, Lord Byron, William Gell, William Martin Leak, Christopher Wordsworth, William George Clark, Isabel Armstrong). Otto Magnus von Stackelberg, a Russian-Estonian in origin, studied and excavated in the Peloponnese. The number of modern studies is accumulating, each specializing in different aspects of the historical landscape (regions, eras, material culture, customs, dialects, lifestyles etc.). At the same time, numerous tourist guides present a simpler version of the Peloponnesian past, curtailed for the sake of the hurried visitor.

A personal story of archaeological travel Day 1 Departure from Athens, destination: Nafplio We depart from Athens early in the morning and hit the highway heading to Corinth. We take the exit to Loutraki and drive 20km westwards to the Heraion of Perachora.

The Heraion of Perachora On the way to the Heraion, northeast tip of the site, the visitor comes across the Fountain, i.e. a 55


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The Greek word for the Corinthian Canal is Isthmus (meaning neck and referring to the narrowness of the land connecting the Peloponnese with mainland Greece). Since ancient times, a shortcut was created to save boats from sailing round the peninsula: a stone ramp called the Diolkos (7th cent. BCE). Deep grooves were constructed which allowed wheeled vehicles to drag the unloaded ships over to the eastern port (Kenchreai) or the western port (Lechaion). The tyrant Periander (7th cent. BCE), Julius Caesar and his successor Caligula, as well as Nero (1st cent. CE) and Herodes Atticus (2nd cent. CE) all attempted to study and/or apply a plan of digging a canal, before the actual completion of the project in the 19th century (initiative of Ioannis Kapodistrias, executed by prime minister Thrasyvoulos Zaimis and King George I of Greece). Instead of visiting the ancient city of Corinth, we head to the sanctuary of Isthmia. The Heraion of Perachora. Photo courtesy of Author.

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The Corinthian Canal

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As indicated on a panel at the Heraion, we decided to visit the nearby Mycenaean necropolis at Skaloma, occupied from LH IIIA2/B1 continuing at least into early LH IIIC. Later, on the way back to Corinth, we make a short stop at the Corinthian Canal.

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series of massive cisterns and rock-cut basins that brought water to the site through water channels. A nearby sign leads to the chapel of Agios Nikolaos, where one can enjoy a magnificent view over the sanctuary and the Corinthian gulf. The sanctuary of Hera, situated in a small cove of the gulf, is a complex of different structures, including the temples (Hera Limenia and Hera Akraia), the stoa, the apsidal cistern and the banquet building. The site was occupied from the 9th to the 2nd centuries BCE, originally under Corinthian influence. The architectural complex and its landscape, the rural cult practices, as well as the various finds (pottery, terracottas, bronzes, ivories) have been studied and published mainly by the British School of Athens.


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The Isthmus of Corinth. Photo courtesy of Author.


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The Temple of Poseidon at Isthmia. Photo courtesy of Author.

Isthmia The sanctuary of Poseidon in Isthmia was one of the most important Pan-Hellenic sanctuaries in the Greek world. Beginning in 582 BCE, and every two years thereafter, athletic and music games were held here in honour of Poseidon. The temple of the god was first built in the 7th century, reconstructed in mid-5th century, burnt in 390 BCE and repaired once again until its final destruction by the Romans in 146 BCE. During the reconstruction of Corinth in 44 BCE, it was again renovated together with the rest of the sanctuary’s edifices. During the Justinian era, a large part of the sanctuary’s building material was used for the construction of the Hexamilion wall. Only the foundations and a few architectural elements were preserved and excavated by the American School. Fragments of a sacrificial altar were revealed east of the temple. The most impressive structure at Isthmia is the Palaimonion (1st cent. CE). This complex of buildings included a small, circular

temple to Palaimon, protector of the games and founder of a mystical cult. Northwest from the Palaimonion was the old stadium (6th cent. BCE). At the time of Alexander the Great, when Corinth was chosen to be the capital of the Greek world, a new stadium was built, some 250m to the southeast. The Isthmia festival was probably the most popular of all the Panhellenic celebrations, while the prize of victory was a simple wreath, at first made of pine and later of wild celery. Wondering if the location of the sanctuary was prominent enough to be seen from the sea by those sailing to Corinth, especially when the games were held, we carried on our journey, entering the highway and heading to the Argolid. We follow a westerly route for 70km and arrive at the site of Asine.

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After having climbed the acropolis, half of us following the modern and the other half the ancient path, we agree that it is not a rough climb at all. We conclude that the two smooth havens surrounding the cape must have made it easier for invaders to attack. Of course, the successive hills between Asine and the Argive plain seem ideal Bay of Asine, shot from the walls. Photo courtesy of Author.

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The Late Geometric period (8th cent. BCE) marks Asine’s most prosperous point, actively trading throughout the Cyclades, as well as with Athens and the southern Peloponnese. According to Pausanias, Asine, an ally of Sparta, was destroyed by its rival neighbour, Argos, around 700 BCE and its habitants migrated to Messinian Asine (modern Koroni).

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Bronze Age houses, as well as Mycenaean tombs, were found within the acropolis itself, while a large Mycenaean cemetery was uncovered on Barbouna hill to the northwest. Several chamber tombs were found to contain ample grave goods, which almost certainly attest to commercial activity between Asine and the Aegean, Crete and Cyprus. This was further corroborated during the 1990s, by the discovery of a Mycenaean shipwreck 14km east of the acropolis, at Cape Iria.

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gulf, very close to the modern town of Tolo, on a triangular cape-hill, 52m high. It is first mentioned in the Iliad, but has been occupied since the 5th millennium. Most evidence comes from the Bronze Age (2600-1050 BCE), as well as the historical times up to about 600 BCE. The strong preserved fortification walls are dated to around 300 BCE and were most probably constructed by Demetrius I of Macedon. The walls were repaired during the early Byzantine period (6th -7th cent. CE) and also during the time of the 2nd Venetian rule (1686-1715). The first excavations were carried out by a Swedish archaeological team (1922-1930) which investigated the acropolis, the lower town and the Barbouna hill. During the 1970s, research was carried on by the Swedish Institute of Archaeology and the 4th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities.


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Fortification walls at Asine. Photo courtesy of Author.


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Franchthi Cave, entrance. Photo courtesy of Author.

for the placement of fire-beacons which would have served as an early warning system for the defenders. Though we get inspired by the idea of possible future archaeological surveys in the north, we carry on with a 60km southeast windy drive to Franchthi Cave.

Franchthi Cave The cave occupies a rocky limestone headland by the sea, overlooking the Argolic Gulf. It is a horizontal cavern 150m. in length, intermittently occupied from the Upper Palaeolithic to the present, especially from 30,000 to 5,000 BP. The area outside the cave and along the shore has revealed both Neolithic and later material. Franchthi Cave is undoubtedly one of the most important archaeological sites in the Aegean world, not only because of the occupation length and the anthropological evidence it has provided (intact burials, as well as isolated human bones and teeth scattered throughout the site), but also for the quality of preservation of the finds (remnants of animals and plants in the form of bone, shell, seed, and pollen). Indeed, the cave

has yielded a wealth of information concerning early domestication, agriculture, pastoralism and diet in prehistoric Greece. Additionally, obsidian items from the cave have been traced to the island of Melos (southern Cyclades), which indicates long-distance sea travel. Franchthi Cave was initially excavated in the late 1960s and early 1970s, by the Universities of Indiana and Pennsylvania and the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. The exceptional standards of the Franchthi field-work have come to serve as a model for prehistoric excavation in Greece. A member of the group, particularly interested in the early Iron Age, urges us to visit a fortified site in Kranidi, Prophitis Elias. Following the indications and photos published in Sarah Wallace’s work, and with the assistance of the locals, we even-tually find the site. Those of us who are still vigorous, despite the already intense day, manage to climb up the hill. Later, we head north once again, to the summit of Mount Didimo. There, we enjoy a magnificent (and quite cool) sunset, overlooking the Argosaronic islands of Hydra, Dokos and Spetses. As the light 63


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Shot from Mt Didimo summit overlooking the Argosaronic islands. Photo courtesy of Author.

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fades, inspired by our intriguing journey thus far, own bishop. In the 12th century the Byzantines we head for the historical city of Nafplio, where we fortified Nafplio, by reinforcing its ancient walls and towers. Following the conquest of stay overnight. Constantinople by the crusaders (1204), Boniface I of Montferrat besieged and conquered the town. Day 2 From 1212 onwards, the Francs, under Geoffrey of Villehardouin, dominate the Peloponnese. In Sightseeing in central Argolid 1389, Nafplio passes into Venetian hands, while Nafplio the Turks manage to predominate in 1532. Two more exchanges would take place before the final Nafplio is without question one of the most liberation of Nafplio (1830) and its declaration as picturesque towns in Greece. It still bears the the capital of Modern Greece (1834). vestiges of the many different eras and cultural movements that have come and gone over its Unequivocally, the most impressive remnants long history. As far as the antiquity is concerned, of Nafplio’s long history are its castles. The only Strabo and Pausanias provide some limited Ancient, Byzantine and Frankish castle is known information. Archaeological finds are sparse; as Akronafplia, while the Venetian and Turkish however, Nafplio and its wider hinterland have castle is called Palamidi. Akronafplia is a low been inhabited since the Neolithic period. A small ascent (85m from sea level), while Palamidi part of the Mycenaean wall and a large cemetery has been built on the highest point (216m). can still be seen around the castle. In historical Both castles perfectly preserve their medieval times Nafplio develops as a coterminous region character and are today accessible to the wider to Asine and Argos. However, it is only in the public. Likewise, the town of Nafplio is graced Middle Ages that Nafplio really comes to the with an ample number of monuments, covering forefront. During the 9th century, the town was the spectrum of its long-standing history. almost certainly an administrative centre, with its 64


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Akronafplia, Nafplio. Photo courtesy of Author.

Palamidi Castle, Nafplio. Photo courtesy of Author.

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The Lion Gate, Mycenae. Photo courtesy of Author.

During the day we visit the Bronze Age citadels of Mycenae, Tiryns and Midea.

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Mycenae sits on a rocky ascent some 280m. high, located at the north-eastern end of the Argive plain. It is sheltered between two steep mountains, 15km from the coast. Since the 2nd millennium it has been a centre of power and whose rul-ing class was buried with opulent grave goods. The site, which was first fortified in c.1350 BCE, encompasses a total area of about 30 square km, and has a wall perimeter of 900m. During the late 13th century, the palace and several other buildings within the acropolis were destroyed by fire. Though the citadel was destroyed, the occupation of the site persisted until the early Christian period. The width of the walls varies between 5 to 8m. Their initial height is not known, but it is thought 66

that they may have reached 18m. Entrance to the citadel was via the Lion Gate. Pins on the underside of the gateway are evidence of the great wooden doors that once stood there. The interpretation of the heraldic lions which greet the visitor has kept archaeologists busy for the best part of the last century. South of the gate we encounter Grave Circle A, an area with a diameter of 27.5m. During the 16th century it was almost certainly a royal cemetery with shaft graves. In the 13th century a special arrangement of the wall incorporated it into the citadel. The Great Ramp (last arrangement in 1200) leads to the area of the palace, consisting of an open court and the tripartite “Megaron�. East of the palace we find the storerooms, regulated in three terraces. The northeast extension includes the Underground Cistern and the North Gate. The site extends outside the citadel, where we find Grave Circle B and the famous tholos tombs named after Aegisthus and Clytemnestra to the west, and the so-called Treasury of Atreus to the


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The Citadel of Mycenae. Credit: Wiki Commons


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The Gallery, Tiryns. Photo courtesy of Author.

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The main gate is on the east side and as at Mycenae, it was barred by a large, wooden double door. One of the most impressive architectural features of Tiryns is the Eastern Gallery, a 29m long corridor with six small rooms tangent to the east side. A second gallery was also been built in the south part of the wall. It is not certain whether these areas were used as storerooms or for defensive purposes. On the upper level is the Propylon, the monumental gateway that leads to the Palace complex. The latter consists of a group of smaller rooms and open areas. The central room, in the northern part of the building, was supported by four pillars, surrounding a large hearth. This same room also housed the throne and its walls were decorated with brightly coloured frescoes. Another room, the so-called “bathroom”, possessed a monolithic floor and has been connected to cult practices.

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20km south of Mycenae, on a low (26m) and restricted hill we find the citadel of Tiryns. The site has been inhabited since the Neolithic, but reached its apogee in the 13th century. Homer describes it as “strongly fortified”. Intensive building activity was carried out in EHII (26002200 BCE), demonstrating the importance of Tiryns over the region. After the partial fortification and the erection of a palace in LHIIIA1, the hill gets peripherally fortified and the palace complex is integrated in LHIIB2 (late 13th cent.). The complex was destroyed, probably by earthquakes and fires, around 1200. From that point and until modern times Tiryns gradually declined, though it was never completely abandoned. The first excavation was held in 1831 by Friedrich Thiersch and Alexandros RizosRagavis. Research was carried on by the German Institute of Archaeology during the three first decades of the 19th century, and by the Hellenic Archaeological Service since 1950.

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southwest. Numerous remains of other buildings and tombs are spread out over an area of 1.5km.


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Midea. Overlooking the Argolic Gulf. Photo courtesy of Author.

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Strong fortification walls encircled the east, north and west side of the hill, as well as a large Between the citadels of Mycenae and Tiryns, on section of the northwest slope. It is 450m long, a high hill (268m), Midea has an unrestricted 5-7m thick and 7m high. The citadel encompasses view over the entire Argive plain and the gulf. a total surface area of about 24 acres. There It was already inhabited during Final Neolithic are two monumental gates, east and west. The (5th - 4th millennium) and developed into a East Gate was the main entrance, leading to the flourishing settlement during the Early and upper part of the citadel, called the “Palace Area” Middle Bronze Age (3200-1600 BCE). By the Late by Alex Persson. We observe, however, that Helladic period (1600-1100 BCE) it had become the only “Megaron-like” building on the site is an important centre, reaching its apogee in located in the lower northeast terraces, and we the 14th and 13th centuries. Like Mycenae question Persson’s designation. A large number and Tiryns, its destruction in late 13th century of finds (vessels, tools, figurines, seals, beads, was marked by earthquakes and fires. The first Linear B tablets) were unearthed in the building archaeological investigation was held by the complexes close to the gates, suggesting their German Archaeological Institute in 1907 and by use as storerooms. Alan Persson in 1939. Some further research was carried on by Paul Åström and Nikolaos Verdelis In agreement that the citadel of Midea is probably in the 1960s. The systematic excavation of the the most impressive in terms of location, though site was accomplished by a Greek-Swedish team not as popular with tourists as Mycenae and Tiryns, we head northeast, to the nearby site of Dendra. in 1983. 70


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Day 3 Departure from Nafplio, destination: Sparta We spent the morning at the remarkable archaeological museum of Nafplio, where we enjoyed the finds from Franchthi and Dendra amongst the many other exhibits. Later that day we paid a visit to Argos and its museum to see the finds from Lerna, the Argive Heraion and the ancient city of Argos itself. Before leaving Argos, we visited the acropolis of Larisa (occupied from Mycenaean to Medieval and modern times) and the sanctuaries of Apollo Diradiotes and Athena Oxyderces at the foot of the hill. Our next stop was the Heraion of Argos.

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After finishing our archaeological exploration for the day, a huge discussion begins, often quite heated. What are the topographic connections between the citadels? How long might it take to walk from one place to the other through overgrown paths? What caused their destruction? Might it have been socio-political conflict? And if so, who were the opposing sides? Was there a Mycenaean elite imposed upon a broader social stratum? Were they of the same racial origin? What was their language? Is the term “Mycenaean” itself valid or does it merely serve an ethnic ideology and archaeological stereotypes? Is an alternative theory for the Bronze Age Aegean world possible? And, above all, could our approaches ever be objective and independent of the present, post-postmodern political and ideological (dis)orientations?

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The necropolis of Dendra is supposed to be the “royal” cemetery of Midea from at least the early Mycenaean period. Excavations held by a Greek-Swedish team brought to light one tholos tomb and 16 chamber tombs, dated to the 15th and 14th centuries BCE. Though some of them were looted, important and precious finds were recovered, the most distinctive of which is the bronze cuirass, an ex-cellent example of late 15th century armoury, and which is quite consistent with Homer’s descriptions.

The Dendra cuirass (Museum of Nafplio). Photo courtesy of Author.

Heraion of Argos The Heraion was the greatest sanctuary in the Argolid during classical times. Hera is mentioned as the protector of Argos even in the Homeric poems. It is a pivotal site, prominent, with a commanding view over the plain. The earliest finds date to the Geometric period. Most of the remains, however, date from the 7th through 5th centuries BCE. The upper terrace, supported by a retaining wall of possible late Geometric date, is a level paved area occupied by the Old Temple and an altar. The later, middle terrace supports the New Temple, where a chryselephantine statue of Hera by Polykleitos was housed. Other 71


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The castle of Larisa, Argos, from the sanctuary of Apollo Diradiotes. Photo courtesy of Author.

Excavations at the site were initiated under John L. Caskey in 1952, whose efforts kicked-off the series of publications on Bronze Age Lerna (Lerna I-V), inspiring many other publications. After a long period of Neolithic occupation (Lerna I and II) the site seems to have been deserted for a time before it was levelled off and reoccupied in the Early Helladic II period (Lerna III). The new settlement had a double ring of defence walls with gates and towers and a number of substantial buildings within. The largest building has been named the House of Tiles because of the unusual early occurrence of terracotta roofing tiles associated with the building. In the Early Helladic III period (Lerna IV), the inhabitants (who supposedly destroyed the earlier settlement) covered the site of the House of Tiles with a low tumulus surrounded by a ring of stones, as though to mark off a sacred area. In the Early Helladic III period Lerna was an open settlement of smaller buildings, some of them having an apsidal ‘megaron’ floor plan. Bothroi, or “rubbish pits” were another unusual characteristic of this settlement. The Early Helladic III levels at Lerna produced, in addition to the typical pottery of that period, a few examples of a pottery type known as “Minyan” ware, which was sometimes wheel-made and is a common feature of the Middle Helladic period. The settlement at Lerna continued to exist throughout the Middle Helladic period, but did not continue into the Late Helladic or Mycenaean period. At the end of the Middle Helladic period, two rectangular shaft graves were cut into the tumulus of the House of Tiles.

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After a 10km stretch heading towards the gulf, south of Argos, we pay a visit to the Bronze Age site of Lerna.

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structures located on this terrace included one of the earliest examples of a building with a peristyle court, which may have served as a banquet hall. On the lowest terrace there is a stoa and an Archaic step-like retaining wall. To the west are Roman baths and palaestra.


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Mycenaean shaft grave, Lerna. Photo courtesy of Author.

Sanctuary of Athena Alea, Tegea. Photo courtesy of Author.

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Pausanias, Description of Greece, translation by W.H.S. Jones, Loeb Classical Library. Salmon, J. The Heraeum at Perachora, and the Early History of Corinth and Megara, BSA 67, 1972, 159204. Demakopoulou, K. The role of Midea in the network of Mycenaean Citadels in the Argolid, in E. AlramStern, G. Nightingale (eds.), Keimelion. The Formation of Elites and Elitist Lifestyles from Mycenaean Palatial times to the Homeric Period. Proceedings of the International Conference, Salzburg, 3-5 February 2005, Vienna 2007, 65-80.

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Zangger, E., Landscape Changes around Tiryns during the Bronze Age, AJA 98(2), 1994, 189-212.

The article will be continued in the coming issue, with a tour over Laconia, Messenia and Elis. Web Links: ***

http://www.gtp.gr/LocPage.asp?id=61752

Acknowledgements

http://www.ioa.leeds.ac.uk/1970s/70094.htm

I would like to thank my friends Styliani Makarona and Maximilian Buston for their endurance, persistence and tolerance during this trip. Without Stella’s artistic sensibility and Max’s inquisitive sagacity, nothing would have looked the same.

http://lucian.uchicago.edu/blogs/isthmia/

*** Further Reading Caskey, J.L., Lerna in the Argolid: A short guide, American School of Classical Studies, 1977. Chateaubriand, F.R., Voyage en Grèce, Macmillan and co., London 1911. Jacobsen, T.W., Franchthi Cave and the Beginning of Settled Village Life in Greece, Hesperia 50(4), 1981, 303-319. Morgan, C., The evolution of a sacral landscape: Isthmia, Perachora and the early Corinthian state, in R. Osborne & S. Alcock (eds.) Placing the gods: sanctuaries and sacred space in ancient Greece, 1994, 105-142.

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Leaving the Argolid, we enter Arcadia and then Laconia. We make brief stops at the classical sanctuary of Tegea (Temple of Athena Alea) and the historical village of Karyes (a classical Arcadian city, from which the famous Caryatids of the Erechtheion took their name). Before entering Sparta, we follow a sign pointing to the Roman fortress. We can hardly make out any architectural features, though we observe piles the scattered pottery. We arrive at Sparta and prepare for our medieval encounters of the ensuing day: the eminent castles of Mystras and Monemvasia.

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http://www.gtp.gr/LocPage.asp?id=62396 http://www.gtp.gr/LocInfo.asp?infoid=49&code=EGR PAR20ASNTOL00020&PrimeCode=EGRPAR20ASNTOL 00020&Level=10&PrimeLevel=10&IncludeWide=1&Loc Id=60056 http://archaeology.about.com/od/archa13/a/franchthi. htm http://ascsa.academia.edu/TraceyCullen/ Papers/545133/Scattered_Human_Bones_at_ Franchthi_Cave_Remnants_of_Ritual_or_Refuse http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/941 http://odysseus.culture.gr/h/3/eh351.jsp?obj_id=2573 http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/artifact?name= Mycenae&object=Site http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/artifact?name= Argive+Heraion&object=Site&redirect=true

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Mylonas, G.E., Mycenae and the Mycenaean Age, Princeton University Press, 1966. Nordquist, G., A Middle Helladic village: Asine in the Argolid, Academia Ubsaliensis, 1987. 75


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Sir Leonard Woolley (1880 – 1960) “The Prodigal Archaeologist” By Dr. Lisa Swart

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ir Leonard Woolley is considered a giant in the field of archaeology of Mesopotamia. As the discoverer of the ancient city of Ur, his findings did much to further the study of the Sumerian civilization in the third millennium BCE. He led the way in recognizing how much the knowledge of architectural development could contribute to the understanding of ancient societies.

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Working at a time when the world was transfixed by the phenomenal discoveries of the tomb of King Tutankhamun by Howard Carter, many great findings were overshadowed by that singular event. However, Woolley showed a great flair for promoting his own discoveries, which were in no way any less spectacular than those of Carter’s. Never afraid of being wrong, Woolley’s willingness to conjecture made him an academic outsider of sorts, and his work spurred much debate. Woolley frequently gave public lectures, and was a regular on BBC radio, amassing a large public following all over the world. Visitors to his dig sites came from as far afield as Japan, where he entertained laymen and royalty alike. He had a gift for clear and articulate descriptions of his work, and was able to bring his research to life to his audiences, no matter how complicated. Labeled an “unrepentant popularizer of archaeology” by H. Winstone, Woolley was able to turn archaeology into a mass form of entertainment entrancing millions of readers in all parts of the world.

Toil and Serendipity Woolley was born into a family of eleven children to parents, Reverend George Woolley and Sarah. Due to George’s career as a minister, the family lived on very limited funds, and Woolley worked his way through school and college on scholar78

ships. From childhood, he had always assumed he would follow in his father’s footsteps and enter the church. However, upon graduating in theology at the New College, Oxford, he was strongly encouraged by Warden Spooner to pursue a career in archaeology. He soon became the junior assistant to Sir Arthur Evans, the keeper of the Ashmolean Museum at the time. After two years, he felt that he was better suited to life in the field, and joined Randall MacIver in Nubia excavating the first known Meroitic cemetery at Karanog. Two years later, in 1912, he succeeded R. Campbell Thompson as leader of the joint British Museum and University of Pennsylvania expedition to Carchemish in Syria. Assisted by T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia), he excavated until the outbreak of World War I. During the early part of the war, he served as an intelligence officer in Egypt, but was captured and spent the last half of the war in a Turkish prison camp. Due to the precarious political situation in the Middle East after World War I, there were great difficulties in getting permission to work again in Carchemish. Consequently, Woolley went on to dig for the Egypt Exploration Society at Tel el-Amarna in Egypt.

Fame and Ur of the Chaldees The seminal moment in his career came in 1922 when he was offered the directorship of the joint expedition of the British Museum and University of Pennsylvania to Ur (in modern Iraq). It was Woolley’s work at Ur that constituted his greatest contribution to Middle Eastern archaeology. Here, he uncovered over 1,800 graves, including the rich tombs of nobles filled with gold, silver, lapis lazuli, and additional evidence of human sacrifice. The most extravagant of these is the tomb of Queen Puabi, which contained her


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golden headdress, cylinder seal with her name in Sumerian, a lyre with a golden bearded bull’s head, golden tableware, among many more objects.

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During this time he became good friends with the mystery writer, Agatha Christie, whose book, Murder in Mesopotamia, was deeply influenced by her visits to Ur. It was also at Ur, that Christie met and later married one of Woolley’s assistants, Max Mallowan.

By 1934, Woolley decided that there was nothing more to excavate at Ur. Woolley had a keen interest in finding ties between ancient Aegean and Mesopotamian civilizations, so he turned his attention to Syria, working at the cities of alMina and Atchana in southeastern Turkey until 1949. Here, he discovered the remains of a small kingdom dating to around the fourth millennium BCE with a mainly Hurrian population. His work was interrupted by World War II where he served as a major in the Directorate of Public Relations. He was also charged with the creation of a monuments, fine arts, and archives branch of Civil Affairs. Towards the end of the war, he became the Archaeological Advisor to the Civil Affairs Directorate, responsible for protecting many valuable works of art in Italy. He also served as an advisor to the government of India for their archaeology program in 1938.

Woolley’s Legacy Despite being one of the most famous archaeologists of the time, Woolley never occupied an academic post or place on a committee in his entire career, preferring the freedom of freelancing. Woolley’s boundless enthusiasm and passion for archaeology was demonstrated in his exceptional industriousness in both fieldwork and literary output. In England, Woolley received great recognition for his work in archaeology, and was knighted for his services in 1935. Woolley’s

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Of great interest to the public and academic community was Woolley’s discovery of thick mud sediment below the lowest layers of habitation. This was believed by many to be evidence of the Great Flood, and was heralded at the time as proof of the Bible’s historical accuracy.

Leonard Woolley at Carchemish in 1913. Credit: Wiki Commons.

impact on the science he helped forge was widespread, ranging geographically from Egypt to India. The development of archaeological discovery in both India and Pakistan is indebted to Woolley’s recommendations. His remarkable discoveries created a lasting legacy in the understanding of ancient cultures, and laid the path for future research into Mesopotamian studies, in art, religion, architecture, government, and funerary practices. *** Further Reading Kirwan, L. P. Obituary: Sir Leonard Woolley. The Geographical Journal, Vol. 126, No. 2 (June 1960), 256257. Mallowan, M. E. L. Memories of Ur. Iraq, Vol. 22, Ur in Retrospect. In Memory of Sir C. Leonard Woolley (Spring - Autumn, 1960), 1-19. Winstone, H. V. F. Woolley of Ur: The Life of Sir Leonard Woolley. London: Secker & Warburg. (1990). *** 79


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Brewers from Meket-re’s model brewery, Middle Kingdom, Dynasty XII, Reign of Amenemhat I, c.1975 BCE. Credit: Metropolitan Museum of Art


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BEER IN THE ANCIENT WORLD

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By Joshua J. Mark M.A.

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n the modern world there persists the idea that beer does not have the same ancient pedigree which wine enjoys. This understanding comes, primarily, from the fact that the ancient

Greeks and Romans, who exerted such a powerful influence over present western culture, favored wine over beer. This article traces the brewing of beer from its ancient origin in Mesopotamia, through the various cultural incarnations, to the present day.

In his 2006 work, The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic - and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World, author Steven Johnson writes, “As soon as there were mass human settlements, waterborne diseases like dysentery became a crucial population bottleneck. For much of human history, the solution to this chronic public health issue was not purifying the water supply. The solution was to drink alcohol.” Contrary to the peculiar modern-day notion that wine was the

alcoholic drink of choice among the ancients, beer enjoyed an equal and, often, more exalted status. The intoxicant known in English as ‘beer’ takes its name from the Latin ‘bibere’ (by way of the German ‘bier’) meaning ‘to drink’ and the Spanish word for beer, ‘cerveza’, comes from the Latin word ‘cerevisia’ for ‘of beer’, giving some indication of the long span human beings have been drinking beer. Even so, beer brewing 81


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Proto-Cuneiform tablet, probably from southern Iraq, dating to the Late Prehistoric period, about 3100-3000 BCE, recording the allocation of beer. Credit: Wiki Commons.

Impression of a Sumerian cylinder seal from the Early Dynastic IIIa period ca. 2600 BCE showing persons drinking beer together from a large vessel using long stalks [Credit: Woolley 1934, pl. 200, no. 102 (BM 121545)]

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Gold spouted cup found in the death pit of the Royal Tomb of Queen Puabi of Ur, c.2500 BCE. The long spout would have been used like a drinking straw, probably for drinking beer. Credit: The Trustees of the British Museum.

did not originate with the Romans but began thousands of years earlier. The first beer in the world was brewed in the east by the ancient Chinese around the year 7000 BCE (known as ‘kui’). In the Middle East, however, beer brewing began with the Sumerians at the Godin Tepe settlement now in modern-day Iran between 3500 - 3100 BCE. Evidence of beer manufacture has been confirmed between these dates but it is probable that the brewing of beer in Sumeria was in practice much earlier. Some evidence has been interpreted which sets the date of beer brewing at Godin Tepe as early as 10,000 BCE when agriculture first developed in the region. While some scholars have contended that beer preceded bread as a staple, it is more likely that beer was discovered through grains used for bread making which fermented. The people of ancient Mesopotamia enjoyed beer so much that it was a daily dietary staple. Paintings, poems and myths depict both human beings and their gods enjoying beer which was consumed through a straw to filter out pieces of

bread or herbs in the drink. The brew was thick, of the consistency of modern-day porridge, and the straw was invented by the Sumerians or the Babylonians, it is thought, specifically for the purpose of drinking beer. The famous poem Inanna and the God of Wisdom describes the two deities drinking beer together and the god of wisdom, Enki, becoming so drunk he gives away the sacred ‘me’ (laws) to Inanna (thought to symbolize the transfer of power from Eridu, the city of Enki, to Uruk, the city of Inanna). The Hymn to Ninkasi is both a song of praise to the goddess of beer, Ninkasi, and a recipe for beer, first written down around 1800 BCE (considered the world’s oldest written recipe). In the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, the hero Enkidu becomes civilized through the ministrations of the temple harlot Shamhat who, among other things, teaches him to drink beer. The Sumerians had many different words for beer from ‘sikaru’ to ‘dida’ to ‘ebir’ (which meant ‘beer mug’) and regarded the drink as a gift from the gods to promote human happiness and well83


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Left: Alulu Beer Receipt, c.2050 BCE from the Sumerian city of Ur [Credit: Wiki Commons]; Right: Detail from the Code of Hammurabi. Credit: Boris Doesburg/Wiki Commons.

being. The original brewers were women, the priestesses of Ninkasi, and women brewed beer regularly in the home as part of their preparation of meals. Beer was made from bippar (twice baked barley bread) which was then fermented and beer brewing was always associated with baking. The famous Alulu beer receipt from the city of Ur in 2050 BCE, however, shows that beer brewing had become commercialized by that time. The tablet acknowledges receipt of 5 Silas of ‘the best beer’ from the brewer Alulu (five Silas being approximately four and a half litres).

and delivered to the court, the tavern keeper shall be put to death. 110 If a “sister of a god” opens a tavern, or enters a tavern to drink, then shall this woman be burned to death.

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Law 108 had to do with those tavern keepers who poured ‘short measures’ of beer in return for cash instead of corn (which could be weighed and held to a measure) to cheat their customers; they would be drowned if caught doing so. Beer was commonly used in barter, not for cash Under Babylonian rule, Mesopotamian beer sale (a daily ration of beer was provided for all production increased dramatically, became citizens, the amount depending on one’s social more commercialized, and laws were instituted status). The second law concerns tavern keepers concerning it as paragraphs 108-110 of the Code encouraging treason by allowing malcontents to gather in their establishment and the third of Hammurabi make clear: law cited concerns about women who were 108 consecrated or were priestesses of a certain If a tavern keeper (feminine) does not accept corn deity opening a common drinking house or according to gross weight in payment of drink, drinking in an already established tavern. The but takes money, and the price of the drink is less Babylonians had nothing against a priestess than that of the corn, she shall be convicted and drinking beer but objected to one doing so in thrown into the water. the same way as common women would. 109 If conspirators meet in the house of a tavern keeper, and these conspirators are not captured

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The Babylonians brewed many different kinds of beer and classified them into twenty categories,


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The Egyptian goddess of beer was Tenenit (closely associated with Meskhenet, goddess of childbirth and protector of the birthing house) whose name derives from ‘tenemu’, one of the Egyptian words for beer. The most popular beer in Egypt was Heqet (or Hecht) which was a honey flavoured brew and their word for beer in general was ‘zytum’. The workers at the Giza plateau received beer rations three times a day and beer was often used throughout Egypt as compensation for labour. The Egyptians believed that brewing was taught to human beings by the great god Osiris himself and in this, and other regards, they viewed beer in much the same way as the Mesopotamians did. As in Mesopotamia, women were the chief brewers at first and brewed in their homes; the beer initially had the same thick, porridge-like consistency and was brewed in much the same way. Later, men took over the business of brewing and miniature carved figures found in the tomb of Meketre (Prime Minister to the Pharaoh Mentuhotep II, 2050-2000 BCE) show an ancient brewery at work. According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, describing the diorama, “The overseer with a baton sits inside the door. In the brewery two women grind flour, which another man works Egyptian female servant filtering beer. into dough. After a second man treads the dough Figurine, 5th Dynasty, 2400 BCE. Credit: into mash in a tall vat, it is put into tall crocks to Archaeological Museum, Florence, Italy. ferment. After fermentation, it is poured off into Sekhmet, thinking it is a huge pool of blood, round jugs with black clay stoppers”. stops her rampage to drink. She gets drunk, falls Beer played an integral role in the very popular asleep, and wakes as the goddess Hathor, the myth of the birth of the goddess Hathor. benevolent deity of, among other things, music, According to the tale (which has much in it laughter, the sky and, especially, gratitude. The which pre-dates the Biblical tale of the Great association between gratitude, Hathor and beer, Flood in Genesis) the god Ra, incensed at the is highlighted by an inscription from 2200 BCE evil and ingratitude of humanity, sends Sekhmet found at Dendera, Hathor’s cult centre: “The to Earth to destroy his creation. He repents of mouth of a perfectly contented man is filled his decision, however, as Sekhmet’s blood lust with beer”. Beer was enjoyed so regularly among grows with the destruction of every town and the Egyptians that Queen Cleopatra VII lost city. He has a great quantity of beer dyed red popularity toward the end of her reign more for and dropped at the city of Dendera where implementing a tax on beer (the first ever) than

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recording their various characteristics. Beer became a regular commodity in foreign trade, especially with Egypt, where it was very popular.


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Egyptian wooden model of beer making in ancient Egypt, on display at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose, California. Barley beer is being brewed, with the men on the left mashing the yeast starter in a bowl for fermenting, while the ones on the right are bottling. The rightmost figure with a tablet tucked under his arm is a scribe, counting the bottles. Credit: BrokenSphere/Wiki Commons.

Egyptian relief showing a Syrian drinking beer through a long straw, c.1350 BCE. Credit: Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz/Art Resource, NY. 86


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for her wars with Rome (which the beer tax went to help pay for although she claimed the tax was to deter public drunkenness). As beer was often prescribed for medicinal purposes (there were over 100 remedies using beer) the tax was considered unjust.

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Beer brewing travelled from Egypt to Greece (as we know from the Greek word for beer, ‘zythos’, from the Egyptian ‘zytum’) but did not find the same receptive climate there. The Greeks favoured strong wine over beer, as did the Romans after them, and both cultures considered beer a low class drink of barbarians. The Greek general and writer Xenophon, in Book IV of his Anabasis, says, “There were stores within of wheat and barley and vegetables, and wine made from barley in great big bowls; the grains of barley malt lay floating in the beverage up to the lip of the vessel, and reeds lay in them, some longer, some shorter, without joints; when you were thirsty you must take one of these into your mouth, and suck. The beverage without admixture of water was very strong, and of a delicious flavour to certain palates, but the taste must be acquired” and, clearly, it was not to Xenophon’s taste. The playwright Sophocles, among others, also mentions beer and recommends moderation in its use. The Roman historian Tacitus, writing of the Germans, says, “To drink, the Teutons have a horrible brew fermented from barley or wheat, a brew which has only a very far removed similarity to wine” and the Emperor Julian composed a poem claiming the scent of wine was of nectar while the smell of beer was that of a goat. Even so, the Romans were brewing beer (‘cerevisia’) quite early as evidenced by the tomb of a beer brewer and merchant (a Cerveserius) in ancient Treveris (modern day Trier). Excavations of the Roman military encampment on the Danube, Castra Regina (modern day Regensburg), have unearthed evidence of beer brewing on a significant scale shortly after the community was built in 179 CE by Marcus Aurelius. While beer never became popular with the Romans, it had long been favoured by the indigenous people along the Danube.

Spouted beer strainer from Israel dating to c.800 BCE. Credit: Israel Antquities Authority.

The Germans were brewing beer (which they called ‘ol’, for ‘ale’) as early as 800 BCE (as we know from great quantities of beer jugs, still containing evidence of the beer, in a tomb in the Village of Kasendorf in northern Bavaria, near Kulmbach) and the practice continued into the Christian era. Early on, as it had been in Mesopotamia and Egypt, the craft of the brewer was the provenance of women and the hausfrau brewed her beer in the home to supplement the daily meals. In time, however, the craft was primarily taken over by Christian monks and brewing became an integral part of the monastic life (the Kulmbacher Monchshof Kloster, a monastery founded in 1349 CE in Kulmbach, still produces their famous Schwartzbier, among other brews, today). In 1516 CE, the German Reinheitsgebot (purity law) was instituted which 87


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regulated the ingredients which could legally be used in brewing beer (only water, barley, hops and, later, yeast) and, in so doing, continued the practice of legislation concerning beer which the Babylonians under Hammurabi had done some 3,000 years earlier. The Germans, like those who preceded them, also instituted a daily beer ration and considered beer a necessary staple of their diet. From the Celtic lands (Germany through Britain, though which country brewed first is disputed) beer brewing spread, always following, basically, the same principles first instituted by the Sumerians (female brewers making beer in the home with the use of fresh hot water and fermented grains). The understanding that beer was a gift from the gods continued on from ancient times as well. The popular Slavic god of hospitality, Radegast, was claimed to have invented beer by the Czechs and, in Norse mythology, the sea god Aegir and his family brewed beer for the gods which was served in goblets which refilled themselves when empty. The Finnish Saga of Kalewala (first written down in the 17th century CE from much older, preChristian tales and consolidated in its present form in the 19th century) sings of the creation of beer at length (devoting more lines to the creation of beer than the creation of the world). The female brewer, Osmata, trying to make a great beer for a wedding feast, discovers the use of hops in brewing with the help of a bee she sends to gather the magical plant. The poem expresses an admiration for the effects of beer which any modern-day reader acquainted with the drink would recognize: Great indeed the reputation Of the ancient beer of Kalew, Said to make the feeble hardy, Famed to dry the tears of women, Famed to cheer the broken-hearted, Make the aged young and supple, Make the timid brave and mighty, Make the brave men ever braver, Fill the heart with joy and gladness,

Fill the mind with wisdom sayings, Fill the tongue with ancient legends, Only makes the fool more foolish. In the Finnish saga, as in the writings of the ancient Sumerians, beer was considered a magical brew from the gods endowing the drinker with health, peace of mind and happiness. This understanding was cleverly phrased by the poet A.E. Houseman when he wrote, “Malt does more than Milton can to justify God’s ways to man” (a reference to the English poet John Milton and his ‘Paradise Lost’). From ancient Sumeria to the present day, Houseman’s claim would go undisputed among those who have enjoyed the drink of the gods and, no, that drink is not wine. *** Acknowledgements: A version of the article was first published in Ancient History Encyclopedia, http://www.ancient.eu.com/article/223/ March 2011. Grateful acknowledgement is made to Editor Jan van der Crabben. *** Further Reading: Egyptian Beer for the Living, the Dead, and the Gods http://beeradvocate.com/articles/629 Hammurabi: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ ancient/hamcode.htm The Kalevala: http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/ kveng/ World’s oldest beer receipt? - Free Online Library : http://www.thefreelibrary.com/

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Medieval monk brewing beer. Credit: Wiki Commons.

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Sphinx on Silsila East overlooking Silsila West. Photo courtesy of Author.


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Pseudo script at Gebel el Silsila

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An introduction to Graeco-Roman masons’ marks in an Egyptian quarry By Dr. Maria Nilsson he ancient Egyptian site of Gebel el Silsila is known for its many pharaonic stelai, funerary shrines and the famous rockcut chapel of Pharaoh Horemheb, but this article leaves the

Pharaohs’ chronicles and explores instead a complex and mysterious marking system that is preserved as engravings in the site’s extensive quarries that run on both sides of the Nile. Here we will investigate Graeco-Roman quarry marks, also known as masons’ marks, to learn about their possible practical and symbolic meanings.

Exploring the Mountain of the Chain

Bank. However, aside its natural beauty and monumental chronicles of famous pharaohs, Silsila holds an important role for also another reason: it features ancient Egypt’s (and possibly the world’s) largest sandstone quarries, which with almost one hundred individual sections run for c. 2.5 km on both sides of the Nile. Preserved within these are thousands of graffiti, including prehistoric pictographs, inscriptions and pictorial representations dating from the Old Kingdom and throughout all later ancient periods, acknowledged for their importance ever since the day when Napoleon’s scientists arrived at the shores of Silsila.

While sailing down the magnificent River Nile, the modern visitor to Egypt can gaze upon the many ancient monuments that are presented in splendour along the shores between the two southern cities of Luxor and Aswan. One of these sites is Gebel el Sisila, the mountain of the chain, known to the ancient Egyptians as Khenu or Kheny, and to the Romans as Silsilis, located between the more famous temple sites of Kom Ombo and Edfu. Using its modern name, Silsila is divided into East and West by the Nile at its narrowest point, providing the spectator a close overview of the many New Kingdom stelai, funerary shrines and the more famous Speos of One may therefore find it surprising that Silsila Horemheb, all of which are located on the West has never been properly excavated, except for

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Nile view overlooking a couple of Silsila West’s funerary shrines. Photo courtesy of Author. 93


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minor excavations carried out by G. Legrain and A. Sayce in the late 19th and early 20th century. It was made the responsibility of Egypt Exploration Society to survey the ancient remains of Silsila already during the early 20th century when Sir A. H. Gardiner visited the site together with A. E. P. Weigall. This task, however, was not achievable until 1955 when R. A. Caminos and T. G. H. James began the first season of totally nine during an almost thirty year period. While three main book 94

volumes were planned, making a comprehensive documentation of the site’s inscriptions, only the first volume was completed due to the unfortunate passing of Caminos. With the first volume focusing on the shrines, documentation of Silsila’s graffiti remains limited to F. Preisige and W. Spiegelberg’s publication from 1915; a monograph that is in much need of revision. While all other publications have focused on the monumental structures on Silsila West, we will


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Overview of the main quarry in Silsila East. Photo courtesy of Author.

explore here instead a series of engraved marks, symbols, belonging to the Graeco-Roman period in Egypt, generally known as masons’ marks, and within academic circles included in the term ‘pseudo script’. This topic is now studied in a project called ‘Pseudo script in Gebel el Silsila, a query into quarry marks, characters, codes and magic’, which I carry out in cooperation with Dr. John Ward and Adrienn Almasy, M.A. Now, let us explore the meaning of pseudo script before

looking closer at the site itself including its engraved marks.

Pseudo script in Gebel el Silsila The term pseudo script refers to a large and not necessarily comparative group of graphic signs, non-textual symbols that express a meaning and/or function, but which cannot be classified as traditional writing. Recognised for such a non95


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textual character, pseudo script includes graphic signs on seals, ceramic vessels, ostraca, temple and tomb graffiti, and the topic to be discussed here – quarry marks. Quarry marks appear in abundance throughout the Egyptian stone landscape, located in their original position in the quarries and on extracted blocks placed within temple structure, but similar to other graphic signs they have not been classified or studied systematically, which may have resulted in a 96

misconception of their meaning and function. In Egypt, Silsila is one of the most renowned sites to present quarry marks, so let us now turn to the site itself. The large sandstone cliffs of Silsila provide us with an exceptional window of information as to the quarrying techniques, removal and transportation of the quarried blocks that later formed the structures of so many Upper


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Landscape scene showing a part of the complex system of pathways, surrounded by spoil heaps. Photo courtesy of Author.

Egyptian temples and shrines. The by modern wind, and time itself. Set among these mounds hand almost untouched landscape rises from is a large network of pathways that winds its way the low shoreline that presents a series of between the numerous quarries. Scattered with preserved quays and landing stations that ceramic fragments, every pathway presents us during antiquity witnessed the loading of with a relative timeline for human interaction in quarried blocks to be delivered to required the terrain, indicating period of extraction and destinations. Rising from the Nile, the massive removal. debris mounds are easily mistaken for natural foothills as they have become weathered and In terms of size and appearance the individual assimilated with the landscape due to weather, quarries range from smaller open quarry faces 97


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measuring one or a few meters to the main open galleries that stretch beyond hundreds of meters. In addition and more frequently found in limestone quarries, Silsila presents also huge, enclosed caves, created as the quarrymen extracted block by block from the cliff, resulting in magnificent chamber-like rooms with large square columns lifting up the ceiling. Such enclosed galleries provided the workers with protection against the intense summer heat, wind, and other natural elements. As a third type of extraction method, Silsila shows examples of surface quarrying in an area where one can stroll in a landscape of unfinished criosphinxes, a fragmented falcon, intentionally destroyed shrines and a naos belonging to the period of Pharaoh Amenhotep III and his son, the future Akhenaten.

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Binding together the complex system of pathways and ancient road systems are clusters of small stone shelters, likely to have acted as simple shelters from the elements, but including also small stone huts and dwellings that may have offered housing for the workers and the Roman garrisons that were once stationed at this strategic location along the Nile. Now, as we have been acquainted with the physical appearance of the site of Silsila, we shall turn to the quarry marks, and to explore their possible meaning and function.

Gebel el Silsila’s quarry marks

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Drawing of one quarry face showing the placement of quarry marks. Photo courtesy of Author.

tions, abstract geometrical figures (hourglasses, swastikas, circles, etc.), animals, human-like figures, as well as hieroglyphic signs and Greek and Carian alphabetic letters, just to mention a few. Also, a few marks have not been identified so far. Previously, scholars have alternated between giving them either a symbolic meaning or a purely practical function. The more traditional viewpoint argues for a practical use, identifying them with stoneworkers’ or masons’ marks. As such the marks are regarded as representing the owner (of the quarry and/or quarried stone), contractor, individual workers or groups of quarrymen. In this respect one can compare them with medieval masons’ marks that were placed on building blocks, often placed in a clearly visible part of the structure. Such marks were made even more common in the late 16th century as Scotland issued rules for each mason to register his name or mark in admission to the guild. Staying on this topic, but returning to antiquity, masons’ marks in ancient architecture could also regulate the position of each element by using identical or associated signs to determine exact location, for example on individual drums in a column. Such a function is


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Inside one of the cave galleries. 99 Photo courtesy of Author.


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referred to as positioning marks. Other practical purposes include transportation marks, used by construction managers to control the workers’ performance and the amount of stone. Within temple and tomb structure, we find also height marks used to assist measurement, and depth marks painted or carved on walls to specify the depth of smoothing of rough surfaces.

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Accepting the practical function of other signs as indicators of ownership and identity marks, Egyptian quarry marks have been interpreted also for other aims. In his study of nearly one hundred carved graffiti from the quarries of elHĂ´sh, early Egyptologist G. Legrain suggested that the marks had a linguistic (textual) function and identified them with characters that served to transcribe a foreign language. More recent scholar S. Gosline presented a related idea when interpreting quarry marks at Elephantine Island as Carian alphabetic letters. In addition to the practical and textual function, a small number of scholars have moved towards a symbolic, religious meaning, basing such an idea on the religious character of certain marks, such as horned altars, offering tables, and other objects that have a clear cultic connection. This can be combined with a great amount of dedicatory inscriptions, written in Greek and demotic (a cursive script used in Egypt from the 25th Dynasty and onwards), mostly expressing adoration and without a doubt having a religious or superstitious nature together indicating a continuous stream of pilgrims visiting the site. W. Spiegelberg was the first scholar to attribute the quarry marks a religious, symbolic significance, and more recently H. Jaritz interpreted some of the quarry marks on Elephantine Island with religious symbolism. However, until now, no academic literature presents any comprehensive study on the topic of quarry marks, leaving their theories, whatever meaning and function is ascribed, open for debate and questioning. To understand why, we need to look closer at the individual categories of marks.

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Quarry mark depicting the two eyes of Horus. Photos courtesy of Author.

In the various quarries at Silsila, some quarry marks appear repeatedly, others more seldom. Each quarry or sections within a larger quarry has an individual theme seen in recurring and/ or accentuated quarry marks. Such a theme can focus on a single quarry mark, but more often it is the combination of marks that differs one quarry from another. For example, three main quarries repeatedly depict the combination of an offering table, a situla (sacred vessel) and a tree. However, the three quarries are separated by the variation of marks that surround the three matching marks: the first quarry displays, for example, also the jug alternatively a solar cross, while the second includes an Egyptian styled star alternatively a form of triangle, and the third a developed form of the Greek letter Eta (H). The three quarries with this combination of marks are located adjacently and are connected via an ancient pathway which enabled transportation of extracted stone blocks, which may explain the repetition of the three main marks.


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A series of quarry marks depicting, from left to right, a tree, an offering table, an Egyptian star, and a situla. Photos courtesy of Author.

Within the main quarry, the six smaller sections are clearly differentiated in illustrated marks: in the northern section we find a concentration of offering tables and horned altars, while the eastern section emphasises harpoons in various forms, often combined with hourglasses, and in the southern section is a combination of jugs and ankhs. All these marks appear in also other quarries, but the combination with other marks, or the obvious focus in amount, separate them from each other. Then, on the contrary, the western section presents a series of marks that are non-existent in the others, possibly indicating a different time period of workmanship.

Khnum, whose name in hieroglyphs begins with this sign, and it is known that the stone making up the Temple of Khnum at Elephantine Island was quarried from Silsila. Similarly, one part in the main quarry has a high concentration of harpoons, which combined with textual graffiti can be linked with the falcon-god Horus of Edfu, another temple which received its building blocks from Silsila.

This dissimilarity in theme may indicate a purely practical function as we discussed briefly above, but we can explore also the possibility that a specific mark or combination of marks indicates instead an estimated destination. For example, in the combination of the jug and ankh that we mentioned above, the jug (the so called nxmvessel) can be linked with the Egyptian ram-god

For this reason it is important that we look closer at also quarry marks that are preserved within the temples, more exactly on the individual stone blocks that were once extracted from the quarry. Let us use the two temples at Elephantine and in Edfu as we know from above. Belonging to the Temple of Khnum at Elephantine Island is a terrace, which along with an extensive seaside

Above: Quarry mark of a jug, possibly connected with the ram-god Khnum; Below: A group of quarry marks in the form of horned altars and a spiral. Photos courtesy of Author.

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A series of seventeen quarry marks indicating a complex use of symbolism. Photos courtesy of Author.

wall contains hundreds of quarry marks: only two depict the jug mentioned above. Additionally, Elephantine’s quarry marks include offering tables, ankhs, trees, swastikas, pentagrams, hourglasses, tridents, and a collection of marks that could be classed as identical or similar with hieroglyphs or Greek and Carian alphabetical letters. Edfu Temple equally displays hourglasses, triangles, tridents, ladders, circles, etc., in addition to a questionable harpoon (which would correspond with Silsila). This great variation of marks makes it very difficult for anyone to pursue a theory of determining the quarry marks as purely practical destination marks or positioning marks. Furthermore, the quarry marking system at Silsila is far too complex to conclude that this 102

would be the only meaning given to the marks. From the preserved written inscriptions we learn that the quarries of Silsila were regarded as sacred, each one with their own protective god or daemon. The already mentioned harpoon can be connected with Horus of Edfu, known as the ‘Lord of the harpoon’, and in the same quarry we find textual dedications to the same deity and images of falcons wearing the double crown (a traditional symbol for Horus of Edfu). Other marks that may be connected with specific gods or goddesses is the situla, which is often associated with Isis; a set of cow horns enclosing a solar disc, a symbol linked with Hathor; or the lotus, which often, but not always, attributes


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A quarry mark of a tree next to a Greek dedication expressing adoration. Photo courtesy of Author.

as no. 12, 15) vertical line, 16) stylised falcon, 17) fragmented mark, most likely Egyptian feather/ reed/knife. From this combination it is made clear that a few marks appear only once, while others appear twice or more. To limit a series consisting of totally seventeen marks to a purely practical function as identity marks or estimation marks seem highly unlikely, but to learn more we must turn to the symbolic meaning or possible association of the individual marks presented. The quarry mark group consists of a linear series Let us begin with the stylised falcon, which is of nine marks placed horizontally, with another represented with three examples. eight marks placed directly above or below. Starting with the linear series the individual We know that the figure indeed shows a falcon (or marks depicted are from right to left (reading a bird) since one of the marks includes details for a them in accordance with the direction they are feather and an eye. However, the lower part of the facing, identically with how to read hieroglyphs): figure may cause confusion as it does not follow 1) stylised falcon, 2) Egyptian star, 3) stylised the traditional (contemporary) Egyptian style. falcon, 4) offering table, 5) tree, 6) Egyptian Instead we need to turn to images belonging to feather, reed or knife, 7) trident, 8) up-side- the visiting cultures, those of Greece and Rome, down offering table, 9) (diagonally) crossed and it is in Roman symbolism that we find one square. Surrounding quarry marks include: 10) figure that is comparable. Illustrated on magical unrecognisable mark (possibly lower part of a amulets, but believed to have originated in feather/reed/knife), placed above the series, 11) Persia and mentioned in various Greek magical Egyptian star (to the very right), 12) mark similar papyri, is the so called anguipede: a figure made to the Greek tau (T), 13) offering table, 14) same up with a head of a bird and with eels or snakes Harpocrates. As a result, from a religious practical perspective, the individual quarry marks could be representing deities or mythic figures that were considered as protectors of the quarry. Unfortunately, neither this theory explains alone the great variation of quarry marks that appear not only individually, but even more importantly in groups or series. To learn more let us look closer at one example.

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for legs. If we consider the difficulty in carving fine details and the generally stylised form of quarry marks it is possible to link the stylised falcon with the anguipede commonly known as Abraxas. For your interest, the quarry marks predate the images on the magical gems with at least two-hundred years, and if examples elsewhere support this identification, the quarry marks would prove to be even more important as they create a bridge between the later Roman magical expression and those of the Late Period and the Ptolemaic (Macedonian) Dynasty preserved in textual sources solely.

and Rome it was a symbol linked to the water gods Poseidon and Neptune. Regardless of which cultural setting we choose, the trident has similar mythic qualities that speak of strength, victory over evil, power and control. The following mark, an offering table turned up-side-down is interpreted for now as a regularly positioned table, although it is important that we remain open for other meanings. The crossed square, like many other geometrical shapes, have many plausible meanings and functions: for example, it is one of the most evident forms to signify a pyramid if seen on an architectural plan, but based on the existence of other quarry marks The second quarry mark, the Egyptian star (sba), depicting stylised pyramids, seen as a triangle is known for its many symbolic connections with sitting on a base, it is unlikely that the crossed gods and deacons, and has practical relations square represent the same object. Examples on with the physical stars in the night sky. Without Silsila West show the crossed square with two a framework that specifies its meaning or at small circles added within the square, to the left least relation, however, it would be impossible to and right of the crossed centre respectively: we suggest one function in favour of another. One should therefore refrain from an interpretation common factor, though, is a form of protective since we cannot establishment actual form, at character or quality. The offering table needs least not until further examples within other little explanation as its symbolic meaning is made contexts can provide us with further information. obvious from its form. It is a religious symbol signifying piety or practical veneration, creating Already at this point it is made clear that each a link between the carver and the divine world one of the marks presented in the horizontal regardless of physical offering gifts (so often series has a complex symbolic character, many seen in Egyptian temple reliefs). From a symbolic with cross-cultural connections. This, of course, aspect, the tree is one of the more frequently comes as no surprise as Graeco-Roman Egypt appearing universal depictions, and its message was a centre for cultural syncretism. With of fertility and growth binds together all three multiple potential meanings and possibilities contemporary cultures (Greece, Rome, Egypt) for use it is interesting to find that in addition to existing in Egypt during the time of creation. The the quarries, one (artistic) medium binds these following mark is more difficult to analyse since it marks together: each mark or symbol is found has a pictorial likeness with three different items represented on also magical amulets, bearing known from comparative material. Again, it is a with them a message of superstition and magic. stylised image with a form that is comparable The absolute meaning of the symbols as they with a straight falcon feather, a reed plant, and a appear on amulets is still not fully understood, knife; all three represents facets of the traditional mysterious some would say, but at least scholars Egyptian circle of life – birth, growth, fertility, can agree in that they were a part of a complex death and rebirth. The trident is an interesting magical system, used for personal protection or mark as it is represented as a divine attribute in as spell binders. all three contemporary cultures. For the ancient Egyptians the trident, along with the harpoon, Conclusion was a symbol primarily connected with Horus the vanquisher and defeater of evil, while in Greece At this early stage of our research we have to 104


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Gosline, S., ‘Carian quarry markings on Elephantine Island’, Kadmos 31 (1992), 43-39 Haring, B. & Kaper, O. (eds.), Pictograms or pseudo script? Non-textual identity marks in practical use in Ancient Egypt and elsewhere. Proceedings of a conference in Leiden, 19-20 December 2006 (Egyptologische Uitgaven 25), Leiden (2009) Jaritz, H., Elephantine III. Die Terrassen von den Tempeln des Chnum und der Satet. Architektur und Deutung (Archäologische Veröffentlichungen, Deutsches Archäologisches Institut Kairo 32), Mainz (1980)

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Acknowledgements: The article is written with contribution by Dr. John Ward.

Caminos, R. & James, T., Gebel es-Silsilah, vol. 1: the shrines, London (1963)

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conclude by surrendering to the fact that there is not one single function or meaning, being practical or symbolic, that stands out as more convincing than another. Having a similarity with characters and signs on magical amulets does not exclude the possibility that the quarry marks were used for also other purposes. They may have had both a symbolic and a practical function. This article has explored just a few possibilities, but as the project continues the endeavour is to use a wider range of comparative archaeological material, and by studying Silsila’s quarry marks in more detail, step by step a pattern takes shape, and it provides us a better understanding of not only the complex marking system, but also Silsila’s cultural role as a working site for stone extraction and as a place of worship to which pilgrims came to express their gratefulness to the divine world.

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Legrain, G., ‘Inscriptions in the Quarries of el Hosh’, Society of Biblical Archaeology (1906), 17-26, with plates I-III. Preiskge, F. & Spiegelberg, W., Ägyptische und griechische Inschriften und Graffiti aus den Steinbrüchen des Gebel Silsile (Oberägypten) - nach den Zeichnungen von Georges Legrain, Strassburg (1915)

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Further reading Andrássy, P., Budka, J. & Kammerzell, F. (eds.), Nontextual marking systems, writing and pseudo script from Prehistory to Modern Times (Lingua Aegyptia – Studia Monographica 8), Göttingen (2009)

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The column of the Temple of Hera, Capo Colonna. Photo courtesy of Author.


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Capo Colonna, Calabria, Italy

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he following article is a guide to the archaeological site of Capo Colonna in Calabria in the south of Italy. It is a complex site, with

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Greek and Roman archaeological remains and sixteenth century

standing monuments. Capo Colonna has been a sacred precinct for over 2,000 years and was originally dedicated to Hera Lacinia, the goddess of women and fertility, and is now sacred to Mary of Capo Colonna.

Whilst many visitors to Italy interested in histor y and archaeology will travel to cities such as Rome or Venice, the south of Italy has a great deal to of fer. In the region of Calabria, along the south coast is the town of Crotone (ancient Kroton), a place steeped in histor y. It was a major Greek settlement and was the site of Py thagoras’ school. Sadly the cit y itself today has little histor y to of fer other than a seventeenth centur y castle and a museum, but only 11 kms outside of the cit y you will f ind yourself at Capo Colonna. Capo Colonna is named af ter the column; the last remaining standing stone of the Greek Temple of Hera Lacinia. This was once a site of many pilgrimages, and was the epicentre of the large settled Greek communit y. The site has maintained its re ligious impor tance, even af ter the Greek s lef t Crotone, and the Roman Empire collapsed. From the six th centur y to the present day, the site has been dedicated to Mar y, and numerous miracles attributed to her are said to have occurred in the region. However, Capo Colonna’s histor y is not

Location of Capo Colonna [Credit: Google]

only one of peace and religious contemplation, but also death and destruction. Hannibal the Car thaginian General, ended his campaigns in the south of Italy, before leaving for Africa from the por t of Crotone. Before he depar ted, he massacred many of the Italian tribesmen who had initially sup 107


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Archaeological Museum of Capo Colonna. Photo courtesy of Author.

por ted him but refused to leave with him for Car thage. This massacre took place at Capo Colonna and, according to legend, he erected two bronze tablets recording his victories over the Romans in the Temple of Hera. The militar y inf luence was maintained centuries later by the construction of the Tower of Nao, a for tif ication against foreign invaders, and in the Second World War a number of militar y lookouts sur veying the coastline were added and these are still visible today. When visiting the site, it is perhaps best to visit the Archaeological Museum of Capo Colonna f irst as there is no information around the site. This museum is a relatively new addition to the site, and tells the stor y of the sacred precinct through their interesting collection of archaeological f inds. A lion waterspout from the Temple of Hera The museum provides meaningful informaLacinia. Photo courtesy of Author. tion which can be applied to the archaeo logical remains outside. There are a num- lection of votive of ferings and under water ber of architectural items from the Temple f inds from various shipwreck s, in the sea of of Hera itself, as well as an interesting col- the Cape. 108


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Nineteenth century engraving of the Temple of Hera Lacinia, Kroton. Credit: Wiki Commons.

Remains from underwater excavations. Photo courtesy of Author.

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The sacred way leading to the Temple of Hera. Photo courtesy of Author..


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It is hard to envisage this woodland when standing on the site as it is today, but it would have been a bustling place, not only with priests and pilgrims but also sailors and merchants who used Capo Colonna as a resting place before continuing on their journeys. As you enter the archaeological park at the end of the Sacred Way you will see there are numerous remains visible. Unfor tunately, there are no information boards to help make sense of it all. However, this area with the column in the distance comprises the sacred buildings associated with the ancient Greek Temple of Hera Lacinia. There are at least three buildings, labelled as Building B, Building H and Building K .

Building H is square in shape, and was known as the Hestiatorion and is divided into several rooms. Archaeological f inds indicate this building was a canteen to provide refreshments to the pilgrims and priests on the site. The majorit y of f inds from this building all date to the four th centur y BCE, and it was constructed at the time of the height of the temple’s popularit y. Building K was known as the Katagogion, and is also dated to the four th centur y BCE and is L-shaped in construction. It is thought there was an arcade of columns, in similar st yle to the remaining column at the site. This arcade connected a number of rooms and an open cour t yard. It is thought this was probably a guest house for visiting dignitaries and pilgrims. The temple, in addition to of fering a religious ser vice to the surrounding area, also held an impor tant economic function, as people deposited their wealth into the “bank ” at the temple in order to protect it from thieves. However, when Hannibal was at Capo Colonna he emptied the treasur y at the temple in order to pay for the ships he needed to depar t for Africa. There are numerous other buildings, perhaps associated with this economic function but they are confused and dif f icult to identif y, and are combined with later structures on the site.

At the far end of the archaeological park is the column of Capo Colonna which is famous throughout the region, as it is the sole column standing from the Temple of Building B is rectangular in shape and is Hera Lacinia. She was the Greek goddess 111

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“A sacred grove, separated by a thick forest and tall trees, closed in the middle of fertile pastures where shepherds graze their herds especially at night ............... never attacked by wild animals or from men.”

thought to be the original temple before the f inal structure was built. Many ar te facts were discovered here, dating from the four th centur y BCE. These are now on display in the museum.

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The archaeological site is now a peaceful retreat with beautiful views of the coastline, as well as interesting archaeological remains which stand as a testament to its vibrant and colour ful past. To enter the archaeological park , one follows a white tiled walk way leading into the trees. This is a reconstruction of the Sacred Way, which originally led to the temple precinct of Hera Lacinia. This whole area was originally covered in dense woodland, and the Sacred Way cut through this to the temple and the sacred buildings. Liv y described the area:

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Whilst most of the signs within the museum are written in Italian, there is a language free video which has a computergenerated reconstruction of the Temple of Hera including the positioning of the structural elements displayed in the museum.

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Building H of the archaeological park. Photo courtesy of Author.

Building K of the archaeological park. Credit: Wiki Commons.

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Following the path to the lef t of the column leads to the Church of Mar y of Capo Colonna. It is a small church, with only one nave, but it is an impor tant one in the region. The original church was built over the site of a Roman villa, and the furnace and foundation remains can still be viewed to the lef t of the church. The earliest church at the site is recorded in a six th centur y manuscript called the Book of Miracles and claims there was a sacred image dedicated to St Luke in the church. The modern church is much newer but still houses an impor tant image; that of the Virgin of Capo Colonna, the patron saint of the Diocese of Santa Severina.

Annually on the third Sunday of May, the Cathedral in Crotone is the star ting point of the procession that celebrates the ‘Festival of Madonna of Capo Colonna’. The focus of this festival is the Byzantium image of the Virgin Mar y. A modern copy of this picture is carried in procession from Crotone, the 11 kms to Capo Colonna and the small church here. The procession, star ting at 1am arrives at its destination at dawn, and is accompanied by up to 10,000 pilgrims, some on their knees for the duration of the procession. The picture remains at Capo Colonna until dusk when it is transpor ted back to Crotone by boat, accompanied by f ishing vessels. The f ishermen believe she will protect their trips out to sea for the coming year. As she enters the harbour of Crotone she is greeted by music and f irework s. Ever y seven years the original picture is used in the procession, and the festivities are grander than the annual celebrations. The return is more traditional in this pro cession, where rather than returning by sea, the picture is carried by ox- drawn car t,

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Unfor tunately, a combination of centuries of ear thquakes and wars have destroyed much of the temple, although in the sixteenth centur y there were still a number of standing columns, hence the name of the site (Cape of Columns). But local quarr ying for the dressed stone to be used in the construction of the castle, harbour and nobles’ houses in Crotone and the surrounding areas, depleted the temple until ver y little remained.

The original image, a Byzantium icon transposed onto canvas brought to Italy in 500 CE, is kept in the Basilica Cathedral of Cro tone. However, it was stolen by the Turk s on one of their many raids of the area in 1519. They tried to set f ire to the picture and, although it blackened the image, it did not consume it. They therefore believed that it was a power ful piece of ar t, and they took it on board their ship. However, they were unable to move their vessel once they had the painting loaded. In order to be able to move it and leave the coast, they were forced to throw the picture overboard into the sea. It was then discovered by a local f isherman, Agazio lo Morello, who kept it in his house. He only revealed its discover y when he was on his deathbed.

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There were originally 48 of these columns lining a raised por tico surrounding the temple itself, creating a covered colonnade. Each column was over eight metres tall. The roof was made of polished marble tiles, and the eaves were peppered with lion headed water spouts. The marble roof tiles ref lected the moonlight, acting as a lighthouse, warning ships of the approaching coastline. During the sunlight the temple would have been visible from miles around.

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for the protection of women and fer tilit y, combined with the Roman goddess Juno. The site was the destination of thousands of pilgrims who lef t votive of ferings for her.

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Reused elements from the temple in local houses. Photo courtesy of Author.

The church of Mary of Capo Colonna. Credit: Wiki Commons.

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The Procession of Mary of Capo Colonna, Crotone. 2011. Photo courtesy of Author.

followed by the returning pilgrims. In the 2008 grand festival, the stars on the crown of Mar y in the picture were replaced with diamonds by Gerado Sacco, as the originals had been stolen in 1983. The nex t grand festival is to be held in 2015. Capo Colonna has been the site of many of the recorded miracles of the Virgin Mar y including in 1519, above the remains of the temple, the vision of a woman appeared holding the infant Jesus in her arms. She

was surrounded by a ver y bright light and a star upon her breast. In 1520 Mar y restored hearing and speech to Giovanni Matteo di Mar tovo and in 1559 she is accredited with restoring sight to a woman in the cit y, Giullia Vegli, who had been blind since bir th. Nex t to the Church of Mar y of Capo Colonna is the Torre Nao. This for tress is par t of a coastal defence system, which originally had twelve towers, to protect the 115


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Torre Nao. Photo courtesy of Brian Billington.

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coast from the Turkish invaders. The Torre Nao was constructed in 1568 by the Spanish viceroy Don Pedro de Toledo, although it was completed by the viceroy Parafan Ribeira.

This tower is not of ten opened to the pub lic, but the bridge gives fantastic views of the coastline, including the clear waters of Capo Riz zuto along the coast to the southwest, as well as providing a bird’s- eye view of the Greek and Roman remains which The structure is square in shape with an surround the tower. ex ternal staircase, leading to a small drawbridge giving access to the third f loor of Whilst perhaps Capo Colonna and Crotone the main structure. This drawbridge could may not have the archaeological densit y be raised adding an ex tra level of defence. of Rome or Pompeii it is an interesting site, which adds another piece to the jigsaw of In 1810 the tower stopped being used as a Italy’s chequered histor y. In addition to the defensive structure, and was used by the wonder ful archaeological remains which French Customs system. Af ter the unif ica- you will enjoy in relative solitude, perhaps tion of Italy in 1861 the tower was used as only disturbed by a few dog walkers, you headquar ters for the Guardia di Finanza. will also enjoy the fantastic views across For a number of years the tower held the the sea. You will be able to absorb the archaeological f inds from the water sur- tranquillit y of a site that has been a sacred rounding the area, although many of these centre for over 2,000 years, and when lookare now in the museum at the site. ing at the views it is easy to see why it was chosen. 116


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Dusk at Capo Colonna. Credit: Wiki Commons.


T h e B e g u i l i n g Ta í n o o f t h e Ancient Caribbean An Interview with Dr. José R. Oliver

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By James Blake Wiener M.A. he Taíno were among the most sophisticated and advanced Pre-Columbian peoples prior to the Voyages of Discovery in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Living in the Eastern Caribbean,

the Taíno In this interview, James Blake Wiener speaks with Dr. José R. Oliver about these enigmatic people.

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Dr. Oliver, I wanted to begin by asking what you think are the biggest misconceptions people—academic or nonacademic—have about the Taíno. I was wondering if you could then redress these misjudgments. While one cannot deny their important place in history as the first indigenous people of the Americas to greet Christopher Columbus, I would suspect that not many people recognize the Taíno words which litter our vocabulary—“Cuba,” “tobacco,” and “hurricane”— and that the Taíno had a sophisticated culture characterized by incredible resourcefulness in agriculture, warfare, and trade.

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Perhaps one key misconception about the Taíno lies in the name itself. At a superficial level it seems to refer to ‘a people’, characterized by a homogeneous culture and bounded ethnic group. The term, however, was devised in the late 19th Century by philologists Constantine Raffinesque (1836) 118

Map of Central America showing the area inhabited by the Taino Indians, an area encompassing presentday southern Costa Rica, Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, and Puerto Rico. Credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

and later Daniel Brinton (1871) to refer to the speakers belonging to the large Arawakan family of languages, which nowadays is classified within the Northern Maipuran-Caribbean subfamily. The early 16th Century Spanish chroniclers never used Taíno in reference to an ethnic or even a linguistic group, but


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Taino mural by the renowned Puerto Rican artist Miguel Ángel Guzmán. Credit: Tribe.net.

rather referred to the aborigines collectively as “Indios”. We probably will never know the terms (ethnonyms) the aborigines in the Greater Antilles used for self-designation, nor can one find in the Spanish texts any terms that refer to an ethnic group or polity. Even the well-known term “lucayo/a” (a compound Arawakan noun: luku = person + kaia = island) is does not designate an ethnic group or a polity: it merely glosses as “islander”. This was what the aborigine in the Bahamas responded when Columbus asked him who was he. It is a myth that only Taíno language (of the Caribbean Maipuran subfamily of Arawakan) was dominant in the Greater Antilles; much of central to eastern Cuba were not Arawakan speakers. In Hispaniola, there were non-Arawakan speakers, who were labeled (by Taíno/Arawak speakers) as “Macoríx”; other non-‘Taíno’ groups were identified as “Cigüayo” in reference to the men’s distinct hairstyle.

Ethnicity, how individuals and groups identify themselves to others and what criteria are deployed to claim or argue membership is complex and fluid, contextual and is often a negotiated proposition. And for that matter, the material culture that would have been selected, engaged, and displayed by natives “Indios” to express ethnic their identity (Tainoness) is quite variable and changeable. Furthermore, others, non-“Taínos”, can appropriate aspects of Tainoness, or indigenize it. I prefer now to speak of “Tainity” or “Tainoness” to emphasize that the “Indios” identified by the Spanish participated in more dynamic ways in how they, as individuals and as whole societies, negotiated, contested, or expressed (and sometimes suppressed) identities, from an ample, variable spectrum of social and cultural features form an ample repertoire available to them not just through their tradition (inheritance) but also by their from their social webs that encompass the 119


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other’s traditions. Roderick McIntosh (Yale University) coined the term “reservoir effect” in conceptualizing these issues of identity variability.

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Given that we know that a large portion of Hispaniola was inhabited by Macoríx groups that did not speak Arawakan (Taíno), it is ironic to see that by-and-large they have disappeared from the modern collective memory of historiography. Why privilege the so-called Taínos over others in our collective, academic memories? There are many modern groups today who actively claim Taíno heritage, but not one claims Macoríx or Cigüayo descent! I suspect that one reason might be that the Spaniards (erroneously) described what came to be labeled as “Taíno” (Arawak) as a civilized and sophisticated society, whereas the “Others” were portrayed as unsophisticated or barbarians. It would not be accurate to say that the “Taíno” were any more or less sophisticated or culturally complex than the Macoríx or any other groups in the Caribbean, like the Island Carib (that is, the Calina or Calinago, Eyeri, and Garifuna). For example, the archaeology in the region where the Macoríx were first sighted by the Spaniards, includes sites with large artificial earth ridges framing large plazas, ridged causeways, built-up platform mounds (today eroded into “conical” mounds) and in some areas, the tops of elongated hills were artificially leveled for settlement. What is interesting here is that this region of Macoríx de Abajo was multilingual and multicultural: the non-Arawak (Macoríx) and the Arawak (“Taíno”) live in adjacent settlements within sight of each other. Curiously there are two distinct ceramic traditions (going back to AD 700) that coexisted and survived until after the arrival of the Spaniards: the so-called Meillacoid and Chicoid. In southeastern Hispaniola, Puerto Rico and

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Jadeitite vulture pendant, La Hueca, Vieques Island. Hecoid, 300BC-AD 500. Photo courtesy of Dr. José R. Oliver.

the Virgin Islands, traditionally associated with the ancestors of the “Taíno” (Chicoid tradition, AD 1000/1200 to AD 1500), instead of large plazas framed by earthworks, they had smaller plazas but framed by monoliths decorated with petroglyphs. Many had a distinct space a rectangular court demarcated with monoliths, where the Antillean rubber ball game (or batey) was played. One can see that architectural as well as other material expressions of “Taíno” identity (especially the objects of political-religious power imbued with a vital force commonly referred to as zemi [cemí]) varied substantially from region to region, yet all of these aborigines maintained strong interactions, alliances, as well as enmities, and thus variously expressed their Taínoness. You mentioned trade. Certainly a wide range of commodities circulated throughout the circum-Caribbean and not just between the islands, but also with the


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JW

There are two distinct schools of thought on the genesis of the Taíno people and of how they migrated to the Greater Antilles (Cuba, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Hispaniola, the Bahamas, and the Virgin Islands). Can you briefly explain each and then weigh in with your own opinion? Furthermore, why did the Taíno believe they originated from caves on the island of Hispaniola?

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As for language, a number Taíno/Arawak words were certainly incorporated into European languages, such as Spanish, English (via sailors), and French to name a few. One popular word in English is the term BBQ (barbecue), whose root is bar[a]bacoa, or the wooden-grill natives used for roasting fish or meat; another

The term survives today as kasikua-li and kasikua-ri among modern Arawak speakers of Guiana (whose ethnonym is lokono or lukkunu; that is we are ‘peoples’. The root -sikua- means ‘house’ (ka- prefix means ‘having/with’ and suffixes -li, and –ri mark the gender). One last example. The English word canoe is derived from canoa (kanuwa). Of course, most Taíno terms borrowed by English or Spanish refer to things for which there was no counterpart or analogue in Europe; most of the surving Taíno-derived words refer to plants (or their edible products), such as cassava (kasabi, or casabe) and guava (guayaba), animals such as the manatee (manatí), or as toponyms. Granberry and Vescelius (Languages of the Pre-Columbian Antilles, Alabama Press, 2004) have published a useful study on ancient Caribbean languages.

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These trade networks began to operate with the first colonizers as early as 7600 years ago (from Canímar, Cuba) but better documented from about 5000 years ago. Through the centuries, of course, different commodities and materials were emphasized; the patterns of circulation (between islands and continental areas), thus changed. For example, the exotic gemstone-quality materials were largely defunct by around AD 500. Instead, other networks, developed, all of which indicates shifts in economic as well as social alliance networks. Thus, for the West Indian aborigines, the Caribbean Sea was not a barrier, but rather integral to their notions of place and geography. They were not isolated, as modern continental landlubbers might think, but the sea was as much their landscape as the land was. Thus archaeologists like now to speak of a ‘Caribbeanscape’ to emphasize that aboriginal intercommunity networks were multi-vectorial, and seafaring was key in shaping the nature and character of the Antillean peoples.

is hurricane from huracán. There is savannah from sabana, which literally translates without trees. And Hispanicized word maíz or Anglicized maíz derives from Taíno mahisi and mahite (Proto-Arawak reconstruction: *marisi), which in fact translates as ‘teehless’ probably in reference to a ‘kernel-less’ corn cob (m(a)[negative] + (a)hi [tooth]+ isi [tip,] or –te [noun designator]) means). I think that Spaniards were shown a cob with no kernels, so when they asked the natives for this new crop’s name, they got the right answer: the ‘toothless’ cob! Perhaps the most widespread is the word for chief, cacique (kasike), which translates as ‘head of the house’ or head of the lineage, even of a whole polity.

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neighboring continental areas: raw resources such as nephrite and jadeitite. Came as raw materials from what is the Motagua fault running through Guatemala-Mexico, whereas aventurine had to be traded from the Guyana highlands. The circulation of quality gemstones and greenstones, however, developed much later, arounbd 400 BC. Much earlier seem to be the circulation of edible/useful plants. A wide range of plants originated from Central America, such as wild avocado and maize, and from South America, such as yuca (manioc) and arrowroots (Calathea spp.).


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White-on-red painted saladoid bowl from Guadeloupe, circa AD 300-600. Credit: Florida Museum of Natural History.

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One school, best articulated by the late Irving Rouse (Yale University), argued that the Taíno, archaeologically identified by the Chicoid cultural tradition, was the result of a major population movement from the Orinoco Valley. These “South Americans” belonged to an ancient (ca. 2400 BC) archaeological tradition that evolved in the Orinoco River known as Saladoid, which spread out toward the coast of Venezuela, Guiana and Trinidad. They were also responsible for introducing an Arawakan-Northern Maipuan language (ancestral to Taíno). By 400 BC the migration of Saladoid groups reached Puerto Rico, although we now know they did not so by jumping from one island to the next; Montserrat, Guadeloupe and Puerto Rico, for example were reached 200 and even 400 years earlier than other islands in the Antilles. Rouse argued that the Saladoid, in effect, conquered and quickly replaced the original inhabitants (he called Archaic; we now prefer to call them Pre-Arawak); that is, in a short time all the local “Archaic” peoples 122

were either biologically exterminated and/ or culturally assimilated by the dominant Saladoid culture. Rouse envisioned the invaders as being characterized by a much more “developed” civilization (i.e., they had agriculture and ceramic technology, and had a sedentary lifestyle-villages) that contrasted with the Archaic inhabitants regarded as nomadic (no villages), low-tech (no agriculture, no pottery), and in sum simpler band societies. Perhaps unconsciously, Rouse’s Caribbean pre-Columbian history was colored by models of imperial conquest, where the cultural superiority of invaders could only result in the quick defeat and/or assimilation of the “defenseless” local, native groups, much in the way as Gordon Childe had to explain the pre-history of Europe in his early work. The prevalent image of the nomadic hunter-gatherers, who lacked village-level organization and pottery has its origins in the description of the Spanish of certain groups they saw in western Cuba, who they named


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Cueva de Berna, SE Dominican Republic. This calcareous cave decorated with pictographs and petrolglyphshas an early Pre-Arawak archaeological component. Credit: Picasa/Dominican Republic 2010.

Guanahacabey or Guanahacabibe, and in the Guacayrima Peninsula in southwestern Haiti. They were described as troglodytes; that is, as cave dwellers, who only survived by appropriating what nature offered. For centuries the “troglodyte” imagery survived: in the first decades of the 20th Century, the perception of cultural ossification, of stasis, among these apparently marginal groups still persisted. Interestingly, the Defender of the Indians, Bishop Bartholomew de La Casas engaged in a debate with the Spanish official Royal Chronicler, Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés, on the veracity of the existence of troglodytes in Guacayarima. Bishop Las Casas argued that these people were, in fact, not cave dwellers, but aborigines who hid in caves fleeing from the battles and conflict

raging between Spaniards and natives.

If we actually follow Las Casas’ descriptions of the Ciboney when he lived in Cuba, were neither slaves nor captives of the Taíno/Arawak, who had (in the past) migrated into Cuba from Haiti. Rather, he talks about a native society that lived among the Taíno in Cuba; to him the Ciboney appeared to be less hierarchically organized than the Taíno “newcomers” were. But since the term contains the Arawakan (Taíno) root ‘çiba’ (pronounced “seebah”, meaning ‘stone’), eventually the word Ciba/o-[n]ey became associated with “stone people” and hence with the notion of cave-dwelling hunter-gatherers. Ciboney, as used in the early Spanish chroniclers, seems to have referred to any and all non-Arawakan groups of Cuba, those who were not original or derived from Hispaniola. It was a catch-all label. Like in the case of 123


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Manioc or yuca roots. Credit: David Monniaux/Wiki Commons.

quent cultural development leading to the formation of a Taino culture stemmed from the Saladoid cultures. As the Saladoid expanded into different islands (as far north as Puerto Rico), they experience cultural divergence and differentiation. The expanding (via fission) daughter groups would only carry Nonetheless, Ciboney in most of thre earlier anthro- part of the parental cultural traits, akin to biology’s pological and archaeological works was used to founders’ effect. So each island had a local material classify an Archaic people ( “stone peoples”) a noun culture (Rouse used mainly ceramic style to define that reinforced the false imagery of surviving trog- culture) that could, nevertheless, be closely related lodytes that had ancestors extending well back into to other local cultures that share the same parental the Archaic period, even the Lithic Age. The Archaic (ancestral) culture: they are all of the same Saladoid groups living in the westernmost region of Cuba at tradition. the time of Columbus, according to earlier scholars (including Irving Rouse), remained in an Archaic By around AD 400-500, however, major changes state (hunter gatherer) simply because the arrival began to take place, and the Saladoid tradition gave Spaniard arrested the “inevitable” westward expan- way to the Ostionoid cultural tradition on Puerto sion of the civilization brought by the Taíno and Rico. From there it eventually expanded westward their immediate ancestors. to Hispaniola, Jamaica, Cuba and the Bahamas and eastward into the Virgin Islands. Further changes Rouse argument continues: since the Saladoid from about AD 900 led to other traditions emergmigration resulted in a population replacement and ing from this Ostionoid background, among which the rapid assimilation of the Pre-Arawak (“Archaic”) is the Chicoid that represent the direct ancestors of into the dominant Saladoid culture, then all subse- the historic Taíno in the Greater Antilles.

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Taíno, the term Ciboney is clearly not an ethnonym, but a generic name given by Arawakan (Taíno) to ‘Others’ in Cuba. I speculate that it likely referred to all people who lived in the (stone) hills, much like the term Cibao in Hispaniola means stone [hill] region.

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Reconstruction of a Taíno village in Cuba. Credit: Michal Zalewski /Wiki Commons.

The key point is that Rouse and other archaeologists at the time, argued that the cultural and historical roots of the Taíno can be traced in a single lineage going back to the Saladoid. In this view the preArawak (Archaic), fully assimilated, had nothing to contribute to the emergence of the Ostionoid and the later historic Taíno. In the Lesser Antilles, this process of cultural divergence from a Saladoid ancestry led to a different cultural tradition (than the Ostionoid of the Greater Antilles). Archaeologists call it Troumassoid (after Troumassé, site), eventually developing into Suazoid by around AD 1200. In the last 15-20 years, however, archaeological data has come to refute some of these views and new data has substantially modified our current understanding of Caribbean pre-Columbian or precolonial history. First there is clear-cut evidence that a number of pre-Arawakan groups had invented or developed pottery technology independently of the Saladoid in Puerto Rico, and of the (later) Ostionoid traditions in Hispaniola and Cuba. This technological innovation occurred several centuries, and in some instances a millennium, prior to the

Saladoid tradition reached the West Indies or the Ostionoid expanded out of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Secondly, paleobotanical studies, especially starch residue analysis, of the foodprocessing lithic implements used by Pre-Arawakan groups have yielded evidence of both domesticated and wild plants such as maize (Zea mays), common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), manioc or yuca (Manihot esculenta), sweet potato or batata (Ipomoea batatas), and two kinds of arrowroot or yautía (Xanthosoma saggitifolium, X. violaceum). Among the wild edibles identified are the marunguey and guáyiga (Zamia, portoricensis, Z. amblyphyllidia) that store starchy carbohydrates in their underground stem (not a rootcrop; the gruya or achira (a tuber; Canna sp.), the New World yam or ñame (Dioscorea spp.) and corozo palm seed (Acrocomia media). It has become clear that many pre-Arawak groups were not only gardeners but also managed forest plant resources. Several of these edible plants were introduced from Central and South America to the islands well before the expansion of Arawakan populations. By around 2000-1500 BC, they were an integral part of a wide-spectrum diet, complemented by fishing 125


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Large decorated three pointed stone (Ostionoid) from Puerto Rico. Photo courtesy of Dr. José R. Oliver.

and hunting. Some pre-Arawak sites also show yielded evidence of burial grounds, which suggests a close link between ancestors and the settlement, complexity in other ways. along with more complex notions of territoriality. At Angostura (starting ca. 4500 BC) site, in the north coast of Puerto Rico, archaeologists have Perhaps the most important evidence that changed shown that the settlement evolved and grew in our views on the origin of the Ostionoid, Chicoid and situ for several millennia, indicating a much more Meillacoid, the key traditions ancestral to the Taíno, sedentary rather than nomadic lifestyle. So much Macorix, Lucayo and Cigüayo (and, in my view, the so, that in some occupation areas human-made Ciboney also) is the vastly increased number of or anthropogenic soil had developed, what ar- radiocarbon dates enhancing our control of absolute chaeologists call Neotropical Dark Earth. (In the chronology. In Puerto Rico, for example, we can Brazilian Amazon, for example, this soil is known now demonstrate that the local Pre-Arawak are not as terra preta.) Such an anthropogenic soil can only much earlier than Rouse estimated (4,500> BC, only develop through a sustained, prolonged hu- not 1000 BC), but more importantly that pre-Arawak man occupation. The estuarine-maritime resources sites continued for over 800 years after the arrival were protein-rich and as environmental conditions of the Arawak (i.e, the local Saladoid and Huecoid changed, the inhabitants were successful in adapt- traditions), surviving into at least AD 400. Rouse’s ing to these changes. Nearby, sediment cores from argument of the cultural superiority and domination around a nearby lagoon demonstrate that around over the Pre-Arawak, of the latter’s total assimilation establishment of Angostura, forest/grassland fires or extinction, cannot be supported given that these peaked beyond what would expected from natural populations co-existed for 800 years! New research fires, indicating that inhabitants such as Angostura shows that, in fact, what Rouse defined as the emergwere deforesting areas for cultivation (slash-and- ing, early Ostionoid cultures in the Greater Antilles, burn). Microbotanical remains of maize found in the is the result of a complex and selective process of sediment cores lend support to the idea that some interaction between the pre-Arawak, Saladoid Pre-Arawak groups were, in fact, farmers. Further- and Huecoid groups (Arawaks). In anthropological more, not only in Angostura, but at other sites, such terms, the ethnogenesis of the Ostionoid cultures as Maruca in the south coast of Puerto Rico, have is not a linear divergence froma single common

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Chicoid (Taíno) shell guaízas from Dominican Republic. Photo courtesy of Dr. José R. Oliver.

ancestor, but a process of Creolization (transculturation, transvaluation, and syncretism) of at least three distinct cultural traditions. Let me give you a few examples. The famous highly decorated and sculptured three-pointed stones, so emblematic of “Taíno art” have their origin in Pre-Arawak groups, where these were miniature, triangular, undecorated specimens. The Saladoid (Arawak) groups throughout the Caribbean adopted this triangular icon via contacts with Pre-Arawak groups, whereas the Huecoid groups (probably Arawakan-speakers too, largely contemporaneous with the Saladoid) did not. Here is an instance where the three-pointer was adopted from Pre-Arawak (Archaic) by Saladoid groups and which became an inherited tradition that evolved into a central feature of Taíno politics and religion, as these triangular figures were imbued by cemí (sweetness), a vital force that rendered the icons as powerful personages −so much for the superiority and dominance of Saladoid culture! After AD 900 or so (middle to late Ostionoid) the miniature three-pointed became much larger and decorated. It seems that the specific identity of the personage depicted became an important element to represent and display in the

figure. They evolved from faceless (generic) icons to specific personages. Another example comes in the form of the guaíza artefacts. The term comes from the Taíno/Arawak waísiba, meaning both ‘my face’ and ‘my living soul’ (in contrast to opía, ‘soul of the non-living’ or the dead). At the time of European Contact, only the chiefs (caciques) or elites (nitaíno) were entitled to wear the guaíza (i.e., their soul) on their chest, as a necklace pendant (or also in an armband, belt, or forehead). The ‘face/soul masks’ are first found in Saladoid assemblages, but not in Pre-Arawak or Huecoid ones, suggesting that this was inherited by the Ostionoid directly from the Saladoid. These iconic “face masks” would become an important instrument of chiefly power, used by caciques to establish far-flung political alliances throughout the Caribbean. A different example pertains to the large skeletal stone heads also emblematic of “Taíno art”. These evolved from miniaturized prototypes (pendants) found in Huecoid assemblages, but not in either Pre-Arawak or Saladoid contexts. Both Huecoid and Saladoid ceramics include ceramic bowls (but in dif-

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Left: Miniature Saladoid ‘skeletal head’ made of shell. Center: A Huecoid skeletal head made of serpentinite. Right: A Chiciud (Taíno) skeletal head made of ignbeous rock. Photo courtesy of Dr. José R. Oliver.

ferent styles) with two spouts used for inhaling the cohoba powder, a powerful hallucinogen (Anadenanthera peregrina), implying the later Ostionoid and historic Taíno cohoba ceremony was an ancient Arawakan tradition that, thus far, seems not to have been part of the Pre-Arawak cultural repertoire (although this conclusion may change in the future, as paleobotanical research advances). Finally, the protocol (chaine opératoire) for lithic tool production was adopted by the Huecoid cultural groups entirely from the Pre-Arawak, a legacy that continued into Ostionoid and later cultural traditions, whereas the Saladoid lithic technology followed a different protocol of production, one that did not survive into later times. In sum, all the evidence points toward a multi-cultural environment of selective exchange, negotiation, or even mimicry, during these several centuries of coexistence that contributed significantly to the ethnogenesis of the varied Ostionoid cultures that led to the eventual rise of Taínoness in parts of the Greater Antilles. Irving Rouse and other archaeologists of his generation can be criticized for their over-emphasis on migration and population replacements and for their far too normative approach to the culture history of the Caribbean. Migration does not always lead population replacement nor to the inevitable cultural and/or biological demise of all the aboriginal inhabitants. The presumption that a superior civilization, Saladoid or Huecoid, from 128

South America overwhelmed the original inhabitants was overstated. Migration is a complex process that requires a more nuanced understanding of social dynamics between the local, native residents and the new arrivals. Rouse did not ignore the fact that there were processes of interaction leading to borrowing cultural features between Pre-Arawak and Saladoid groups, especially in Hispaniola and Cuba; he acknowledge these as diffusion. But Rouse was unconcerned with the social dynamics or underpinnings of how ‘diffusion’ was effected. He strongly felt that his remit was about cultures; the social implications (i.e., ethnogenesis) of diffusion he left for others to address. Clearly culture and society are not synonyms, they are related epistemological concepts, of course, but they should not be confused. I am afraid that some colleagues critical of Rouse’s work sometimes conflate culture and society. Rouse argued that if one wishes address research questions about social dynamics one cannot use his cultural historic (normative) approach, as it was specifically devised to address problems of culture not social processes. That migrations did take place, as Rouse and his contemporaries argued, is not contested by any archaeologists today: groups bearing a Saladoid tradition did migrate from northeastern South America, and Pre-Arawak Ortoiroid groups did migrate from Trinidad and Venezuela into the Antillean islands. Much of the archaeological evidence for


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Huecoid effigy bowl for inhaling cohoba, a hallucinogen. Photo courtesy of Dr. José R. Oliver.

A rarely preserved example Ostionoid/Chicoid cohoba inhaler. Photo courtesy of Dr. José R. Oliver.

this was gradually built by the likes of Jesse Walter Fewkes, Sven Lóven, and Froleich Rainey and culminating with the work in the 1960s and 70s of Ripley Bullen, Mario Mattioni and Irving Rouse to name a few. But since these earlier culture-centered archaeological studies, have gone from merely tracking (or identifying) these migrations in terms of human groups as passive carriers of cultural traits (norms reflected by artifact types or modes) distributed through space and time (Rouse’s cultural chronology), to asking more pointed questions about the social dynamics entailed in this process of expansion and about the social mechanisms of inheritance and transmission (or ethnogenesis and Creolization, if you will). We have as well situated humans and their societies as well as their cultures within a biotic and abotic context, as a dynamic part of the Caribbean-scape, to explore questions about their resilience, or lack of, in the face of environmental changes, be these natural, such as hurricanes, volcanism or sea-level changes or human-induced, such as forest fires, over-predation, biotic resource

management, etc. Human-environmental changes, historical ecology, are now important questions that were, for the most part, only tangentially explored or documented by the earlier generations of archaeologists, such as Rouse and Bullen. In sum, at least from my perspective, the advances of my and younger generations of archaeologists is only thanks to the groundwork laid by the likes of Rainey, Rouse, and Bullen, to name just a few. It is our task to build upon, refine and, yes, correct their legacies, not to create “straw-men” to show the world how smart is archaeology today… I only wonder what the next generations will have to say of the achievements of this decidedly more post-modern generation. I say this because there is a gathering trend (I am at fault sometimes too) in this generation to unfairly “demonize” the achievements of the past generations of archaeologists.

JW

I have always wondered the extent to which the Taíno maintained relations with the other peoples in the Caribbean. Did they interact with the Caribs of the Lesser Antilles or the Guanajatabey and Ciboney people of Cuba? If so, what was the nature of such exchanges?

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There is excellent evidence for intense interaction among diverse communities in pre-Columbian and early Colonial periods. I already 129


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commented rather extensively on the Guanahatabey and Ciboney in the previous question. Let me take the guaíza (“face/soul mask”) example of late PreColumbian (late Ostionoid tradition) and early Colonial periods. When Christopher Columbus first engaged in diplomatic relations with Gaucanagarí, a Hispaniolan chief, there was a notorious gift exchange between the two parties recorded by Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas. Guacanagarí gifted Columbus his guaíza made of cotton textile with gold eye-mouth and earspools. To reciprocate, Columbus gave him various things, including glass beads and, Guacanagarí’s favorite gift, a pair of gloves and redfelt hat. This exchange had the aim to establish a mutual political alliance. Columbus needed the support of local chiefs for his plans of colonization and the exploitation of gold sources in the Cibao, whereas Gaucanagarí had ambitions to increase his political power against Caonabó, an important cacique of the Maguana region of Hispaniola. As it turns out Guacanagarí claimed that two of his wives or women of his lineage had been kidnapped; one remained captive, the other executed on orders of Caonabó. But what Columbus did not realize was that Guacanarí had gifted not only a ‘face’ mask, but actually had given him his living soul.

strangers or foreigners, must become a partible, divisible person (what anthropologists call a dividual person). Giving his living soul (guaíza), his name (guaitiao) and his women (in martial alliance) obviously is a mechanism to extend his (or her) persona and power through a wide network of alliances with ‘Others’ or, of bringing them into his family through affinal (marital) relations. These chiefs thus became ‘extended persons’ (to use anthropologist Alfred Gell’s term), well beyond their individual bodies. I described the bare essentials of the exchange mechanisms through which certain valuable things (guaízas, names) and persons (women as brides) circulated widely in space that is not unlike the well-known example of the Kula Ring in the Trobriand islands. First described by Malinowski, the Kula provided the basis for Marcel Mauss to develop his famous theory of “The Gift” (reciprocity), leading to subsequent refinements by Godelier, Strathern, Munn and many others. It turns out that guaízas were made of various materials and combinations of materials (wood, shell, ceramic, stone, textile). The shell guaízas, with Taíno designs are, not surprisingly, widely distributed, well beyond the Hispaniola heartland of ‘tainity’. We find examples in the Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Antigua, Montserrat, Marie Galante, Dominica and as far south in the Grenadines. Some of these, although infrequent in the archaeolohgical record, are found in the Windward Islands embedded in complexes belonging to the Suazoid or late Troumassoid traditions (seemingly pre-Contact), dating to after AD 1000/1200. Thus, elements of Taínoness (souls/ guaízas) were to be apprehended and embeded into non-Arawakan groups, possibly ancestors of the Island Carib groups (Calinago, Eyeri, etc.).

The “Taíno” situated the living soul in the human face, as a contrast to the soul of the non-living, which was (often) represented by the skull of the deceased or its avatars: owls or bats, animals associated with darkness and nighttime, a parallel but inverted to the ordinary time/space domain (of the dead). Moreover, we also know that in such reciprocal acts, not only the guaíza was exchanged, but just as often brides and the personal names or titles. The latter, known as guaitiao (a mutually binding pact of friendship and alliance), involved gifting your own name to the other individual and vice versa, so that It would seem then that the social mechanism of from this point on, when we meet again, I will be you alliance-building, trade and exchange between and you will be me. natives of the Greater and Lesser Antilles did occur since ancient times. But political and other forms of These wives and name exchanges, recorded by the alliance could and did change. For example, Taíno Spaniards among aborigines (not all were “Taíno”), men and women kidnapped from Boriquén (Puerto go hand-in-hand with the exchange of faces/living Rico) were found in Guadeloupe by Columbus and souls. In other words, the cacique, in order to rule his men; they begged the Spaniards to take them and maintain alliance networks, especially with back to their homeland. The kidnapping of women 130


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A variety of gemstone-quality btracian-like beads from La Hueca site, Vieques island. Far right column, middle specimen: aventurine bead (material likely from Brazilian uplands); first column, top specimen: jadeitite (material likely from Motagua in Central America). Photo courtesy of Dr. José R. Oliver.

by Guadaloupe natives, like the case of Guacanagarí noted earlier, clearly suggests that this aggressive practice was not unique feature of the so-called “Caribs” of the Lesser Antilles; it would seem to have been a more generalized action undertaken by many different groups under particular sociopolitical contexts. Indeed, Guadaloupe has yielded a few large Chicoid (Taino) three-pointed stone cemís, one of which whose head is missing (purposefully decapitated?). Their presence there may be the result of war booty (hence, ritual decapitation of a powerful enemy icon?), but their presence could also be the result of emulation (mimicry) or alliance exchanges, in the case of the complete specimens. The aborigines of Guadeloupe were likely Island Carib-speakers (a mix of Calinago/Carib and Arawak/Eyeri), but ought not to be portrayed as the “Carib-as-cannibal savages” (caribes, caníbales) that the Spaniards constructed to legally justify slave raiding, that the Spaniards called “just war”. This legalistic argument was first crystalized in the philosophical-theological writings of St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century

and reassessed in the famous De Iuire Belli (1539) and later pronouncements (in De Indis) by Fray Francisco de Vittoria (his real name: Francisco de Arcadia y Compludo), and in even more intensely re-examined by Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas in both his Brevíssima Relación (1552) and Apologética Historia de Las Indias (not fully printed until the late 19th century). In any event, in the 16th century, the identification of Caribs (cannibals) in Spanish texts has little to do with linguistic, cultural or ethnic identity, but with establishing the legal foundation of a ‘just war” to enslave diverse aboriginal groups, not just from the Lesser Antilles. But recall that in the early period, from about 200 BC or so, there existed a widespread, truly CircumCaribbean trade network of gemstone-quality materials, many exotic to the Caribbean archipelago. I mentioned already nephrite, jaeditite, carnelian, amethyst, aventurine, barite, and even turquoise. Grenada and La Hueca (Vieques) both seem to have been centers for the manufacture of amethyst beads, while in Montserrat and Antigua were major centers for the manufacture of carnelian beads. 131


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Whereas one island produced evidence of all the stages of manufacture of, for example, amethyst or carnelian (waste, blanks) beads, in other islands only the finished beads are found. Undoubtedly other items were traded in exchange for the finished beads. This was a micro-lapidary trade network ranging from Puerto Rico to Grenada during early ceramic age (400 BC –AD 400), engaging members of both the Saladoid and Huecoid traditions, albeit not all Saladoid or Huecoid sites yielded evidence of such exotic micro-lapidary materials, which means that some communities seem to have been left out of this network. And, again, several of the exotic materials leave to no doubt that their raw sources had to be obtained and procured from Central and South America.

of the Taíno kingdoms (caciques in Taíno). How were these kingdoms organized and governed? Also did the Taíno kingdoms of the ancient Caribbean exhibit rigid social hierarchies or a clear division of labor between the sexes?

JO

If one reads the Spanish chronicles and texts carefully, even the most prejudiced of writers, such as Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés, were impressed by what they experienced or saw in the Caribbean. Oviedo, however, reserved his most positive impressions for the Caribbean islands’ plants and animals, but as for the native’s social and political organization, his Hispano-centric prejudices are all too evident; even Las Casas, the Defender of the Indians, was also man of his times, and did not escape his own Eurocentric prejudices when This network of exotic Huecoid/Saladoid microlapi- commenting on Amerindians, although his were of dary trade came to a close in the first couple of cen- a different sort from writers such as Oviedo. I don’t turies AD. Other exchange systems began to arise think we can talk of admiration as such. and involve other kinds of materials and finished products. Obviously, over the many centuries, the They all recognized, albeit in a fuzzy and confusing nature and geographic spread of materials and fin- manner, that the “Taíno”, that is the Arawakan native ished products have changed, sometimes expand- speakers in Hispaniola, did have a political system ing and other times contracting, and the location of that seemed to them to have analogies with the the trading network of partners (sites, islands) also feudal-monarchical system they were familiar with changed. An example of a trade network that per- in Spain: so they speak of some chiefs being like sisted in post-Saladoid times was the exploitation of kings (rey, reina) or lesser kings (reyezuelos), of the various species of flint, jasper, and chert materials nitaíno class as akin to noblility, of naboría class from major quarry sources in Long Island, Antigua. fitting the model of servants or in some cases slaves However, the island or island groups to which the or captives. At the same time, the Spanish would Long Island materials were exported seem to have find as illogical or nonsensical the rules of succession changed through time. Some archaeologists have to the office of the cacique or cacica (since females noted that the exploitation rights of such resources could and did become chiefs too), as these were not were likely to have been strictly controlled by locals, based on rules they were familiar with. and whereas at other times (and places) their exploitation was likely to be regarded as “common right”, The contrast became much more pronounced when much like fishing in deep sea waters had been a they encountered societies with a different sort of common right (akin to the ius gens/gentes concepts sociopolitical, economic and religious structure, of late Antiquity) until quite recently in human his- such as the Mexica (represented by the Aztec triple alliance) or the post-Classic Maya in Yucatán. There tory. they could see at work hierarchical structures that When the Spanish arrived in the Taíno echoed their own experience in the Mediterranenan heartland of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico (empires) and a native tribute system that resonated in the late fifteenth century, they were generally with the Iberian feudal and monarchical apparatus. impressed with the political and social organization Quickly, the polities and cultures of the Circum-

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Dr. Oliver, the Taíno played a ceremonial game with a rubber ball called batey. Does the Taíno batey share similarities with the games of Mesoamerican peoples—the Mayan pitz or Aztec ollamaliztli? Also, do archaeologists and scholars know of its primary social purpose?

JO

Yes there are many similarities with the various kinds of Mesoamerican rubber ball games, including games that were enacted in southwestern United States. Moreover, similar rubber ball games (but using a paddle) were also played in the Orinoco Valley (the Otomac groups described by the Jesuits in the 17th Century) and beyond. While there differences in detail with the Native American lacrosse, there are striking similarities as well with the batey game in the Caribbean. I have a feeling that rubber ball games, in all their variants, have very ancient, deep roots, a common origin, but whose very ancient history of differentiation and divergence through the Americas that is now lost in the mist of history. In other words, the old idea that the batey or Antillean rubber ball-game

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In the final analysis, the political and social organization of the Caribbean aborigenes were far too alien to the Spaniards expectations of what an “sophisticated” society or polity ought to be, especially when they contrasted it to the expectations of the gilded cities of the Gran Khan (as rendered by Marco Polo’s writings), or the just

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The Spanish texts do not express much admiration or, for that matter, comments one way or the other on the value or worthiness of the native sociopolitical systems (much less their religious beliefs). Much more we can find about their views on how the natives were to be harnessed and reorganized politically under the emerging colonial structure and what native elements or structures, if any, could be tolerated so long as they facilitated the colonization process: so they respected the caciques’ power as a means to re-organize native labor under the Spanish system of encomienda or repartimiento (in what they called demoras, or periods when the natives were forced to work for the Spaniards); they appreciated the medicinal knowledge that behiques (shamans) had of plants (e.g., for ‘curing’ syphilis), even though all despised what shamans stood for. Early on in Hispaniola, mixed race marriages were forbidden by the Crown (although they were common enough), but later by the 1520s, the Crown encouraged marriages between Spanish and elite nitaíno or chiefs (properly baptized!) as a means to enforce their authority over the native subjects from within.

“discovered” domains of the post-Classic Maya or the Mexica (Aztec) in the 1520s, and a bit later (1540s) the Inca. But perhaps the reason for the scant admiration for Taíno, is that the Taíno political system in Hispaniola (based on chiefdoms, which the Spanish coined the word cacicazgos, derived from the Taíno word for chief ) had in essence collapsed by 1508 through war and disease, and via the execution and/or imprisonment of many chiefs and preferred heirs to the office that provoked a crisis of succession among natives. The same occurred in Cuba and Puerto Rico around 1511. Of course, native rebellions and resistance continued for a long time (in Puerto Rico well after 1520, there were pockets of armed resistance still going on). The rather rapid collapse of the native political systems already speaks volumes on the question of admiration. For the Spaniards it was either irrelevant or a non-issue; their key objective was to secure and impose their (“superior”) life-ways so they could lead life of riches, as a gentleman (caballero) ought to, or to conquer new souls for Christianity.

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Caribbean region were rated on sliding Eurocentric scale of complexity. The Taíno, relative to, say the Muiska (Chibcha) of Colombia, the Inca or the Aztec empires were regarded as much simpler and farthest removed from what they would regard as a sophisticated civilization. So the initial admiration, if there was any at all, faded quickly. It is instructive to realize just how many of the early 16th Century prejudices of Eurocentrism were re-invented during and after the Enlightenment, especially during the 19th century, at the height of colonialism, and tied into false notion of what “progress” in evolutionary terms meant and on how it was “measured”.


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View of the largest ball court of the civic-ceremonial center of Caguana, Puerto Rico. The central plaza is in the background. Credit: Alessandro Cai/Wiki Commons.

was adopted, lock-stock-and-barrel, from the Maya or the ball was allowed to rest motionless. There or the Aztecs is pure speculation and, in my view, was no hoop like in the Mesoamerican versions. Interestingly teams were constituted by different highly unlikely. social criteria that reflected age, gender and status of The name batey, according to Las Casas, referred the players in a team, such as unmarried vs. married to both the rubber ball (made from the sap of the women, bachelors vs. married men, men vs. women, tabonuco tree) and the game itself. The noun has and warriors vs. warriors comprised opposing teams survived today to refer to the clean, swept courtyard but also there were mixed teams, such as married facing the house (in Puerto Rico) and has more men and women in both teams. recently been extended to include the community that lived around such courtyards or plazas (e.g., in The batey was also a ritual and ceremonial act, the Dominican Republic). I suspect that originally besides being a sporting event. It ritually controlled the term batey, referred primarily to the court area the tensions that normally arise within and between where the game was played. In any event, the games communities, by ceremonially regulating aggression were played in rectangular courts between two and competition; hence, the various social age, teams of variable number of players, sometimes up gender, statuses considered in composing the to 20 and 30 a side. They were, indeed, competitive team are reflections of the social roles played out sports with sets of rules according to gender; men in everyday life and which can often come into could only use their hips to hit the ball, but women tension and competition (as, for example, between could also use their knees; perhaps children had yet genders or between warriors of different factions other rules. A point (victory) was achieved by the or towns). Another important feature of the batey opponents when the ball went out of play (offside) game lies in its economic function, since we know 134


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The spiritual life of the Taíno was of great importance to their culture. They worshipped a pantheon of gods and goddesses— In Puerto Rico, there was a notorious case where a Yukiyu and Atabey most prominently—and relied ball game was ordered by cacique Agüeybana “The on cemís or icons for benevolence. Can you explain Brave” just prior to a raid planned to ambush and kill the importance of the cemís as well as comment on the Spanish encomedero, Cristóbal de Sotomayor. their complex role within Taíno religion? From what The game, I argued, was enacted in order to I understand, you explored this in your most recent determine which team of warriors would carry out publication and this is one of your areas of expertise. the raid. In fact, before the game itself, the cacique, along with his nitaíno advisors, had consulted the First, I should say that it is not quite cemí spirits to determine if the Spaniards were accurate to talk about Taíno ‘gods’ and ordinary human beings and thus experience death in ‘godesses’ as they have the dangeor of introducing the same way. Death, among the Taíno of Boriquén, Judeo-Christian theological connotations. That Fray was largely determined by the decomposition of Ramón Pané, a lay Jeronimite hermit, described in the flesh (about three days in the humid tropics). his Relación (ca. 1497) ‘Yocahú’as a a cemí being that They were unsure if the Spanish were the same can be “seen in the sky”, who is immortal and had species of beings as they were. Thus in this Cohoba not beginning is not precisely comparable to the Ceremony, the cacique, obtained the confirmation Judeo-Christian concept of God or Yahvé. The key from the cemí spirits that the Spaniards were in fact, here is that Pané links these two personages to the not “immortal”, but experienced death like ordinary concept of cemí. humans; they rotted too. The confirmation by the cemí spirit-beings was the necessary prelude before For reasons too long to explain here, I agree with carrying out the actual mortality test on Cristóbal Antonio Stevens-Arroyo that the aborigines of de Sotomayor. Following the cohoba, a great dance Hispaniola and likely other “Tainos” elsewhere in and chant fiesta (known as an areíto) was ordered the Greater Antilles had a concept analogous to a to celebrate the death of Sotomayor, even though supreme being, an ultimate, creative vital force. This the actual killing had yet to take place: so assured being was briefly named by Pané as Yaya (who had was the cacique of the future he envisioned through a son Yayael) a term that translates supreme spirit. the hallucinogenic trance and the confirmation ‘Ya’ means benign spirit, but with the alliteration (yaprovided by the cemí spirits. The areíto was then ya) it marks the superlative form of the noun: spirit followed by a ball game, where Sotomayor’s life of spirits. This term among the modern Lokono (or was played (in absentia), and where the winning Arawak) of Guiana still means “spirit, essence, first warriors would carry-out the raid and the execution. cause of life”.

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The raid succeeded and, in fact, Agüeybana went back after three days to ascertain that Sotomayor was indeed, dead (his body corrupted). So the three ceremonial acts in sequence, the cohoba, areíto, and bate, were preludes to war. But in this case, the test of the Spaniard’s mortality confirmed, led to the major island-wide uprising of the caciques of Boriquén, led by Agüeybana “The Brave” against the Spaniards in January, 1511. The Sotomayor case is a good example of how ball games had many layers of significance, beyond merely sporting events or a means for betting goods.

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that a wide range of goods, including human lives (as some Spaniards would find out), were placed in bets. Betting, unlike the exchange through reciprocity, means that “winners take all” (hence, no reciprocity). Perhaps this was a mechanism for what today one might call “upward socio-economic mobility”, but we do not know the rules for betting. For example, it may well be that one could not bet against the “home” team even if the opponent had a better winning record. The economic implications betting in ball games have yet to be fully explored from an archaeological perspective. The distribution of material culture through bets might not yield the same patterns as those circulating in reciprocal exchanges.


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Now, “Yukiyú” is a poor (modern) transcription of a term originally recorded by Fray Ramón Pané in about 1497 in Hispaniola. The original document written in Castilian was lost. Parts of the original were copied by Peter Martyr of Anghiera’s Decadas de Novo Orbe, Bartolomé de Las Casas in his Apologética Historia, and in epsitolar form by Columbus himself, to name the key ones. It seems that the complete document in Christopher Columbus’ archives in Spain was integrated into his son’s (Ferdinand Columbus’) Historia del Almirante, but this manuscript is also lost. Apparently, the most complete version of the Relación that survived (in print) was that of Alfonso de Ulloa (Venice, 1571) who had published an Italian version of Ferdinand’s History of the Admiral. Thus, the document underwent two translations: from Pané’s (who mother tongue was Catalan), Spanish (but according to Las Casas, with poor syntax because he was Catalan) to Italian, all of which had editorial implications when transcribing Taíno words into the Latin alphabet. So, “Yukiyú” was tracsribed by Ulloa as “Iocahuuague” whereas, Las Casas renders it as “Yocahu Vagua”. However, thanks to the analysis by Jose Juan Arrom and his reconciliation of all the versions of Pané’s relación, particularly focusing on the problems of transcriptions of aboriginal (Taíno language) phonetics and by comparing cognate forms in Arawak, a very close language to the Taíno, a significant number of these terms have been rescued.

Attabei or Attabei[ra], again is another high ranking personage that has several names, Atabey, Guácar, Apito and Zuimaco, some of the meanings of which were “decoded” by Arróm. Attá in Lokono (Arawak) language is the vocative noun form for “mother” Likewise, while the bounded suffix ‘–beira’ contains the root for “water”. Possibly the second name, Guácar, may be composed of “our” (wa-) and “ moon/ menstruation” (katti or kair[i]). This cemí being is said to be the “mother” of Yocahú.

There is a leap of faith from assuming that Yocahú, this grandfatherless being who lords over the ocean and (perhaps also) manioc is necessarily a supreme god or deity. It is certainly a high ranking cemí, as Pané first noted in his Relación of 1497, and it is clearly a millenarian being; grandfather may well refer to this condition of millenarian or to could be an acknowledgment that it is so ancient no memory remains of its ancestors. Furthermore, Yocahú is not the only cemí being to have mother and/or father. Indeed Pané tells us that the cemí beings had kin relatives (ancestors included), just like human beings do. And here is the key thing. The “Taíno’s” religious beliefs, based primnarily on Pané’s Relación (but also details given by other chroniclers of this early contact period) is dived into three clear parts. One has to do with mythology, the other has to do with something called cemí or çemí in old Castilian ( /ç/ is a phoneme between /s/ and “soft ‘c’; but decidedly not the /z/ phoneme used in the English transcription, Rather than “yukiyú”, the term is most likely Yucahú zemi or zeme, which I disapprove. The English /s/ (or Yocahú), which is only part of the set of names sound is much closer phonetically, although a bit given to this personage: Yucahú, Bagua, Maorcoti. too sibilant). The last part of the Relación has to do The suffix –hú is a nominalizer applied to human and with Pané’s expriences just before and a bit after he non-human beings that also denotes respect. This was forced to flee the settlement of chief Guarionex being’s name translates as, roughly, Manioc [yuca] in Hsipaniola. Being [-hú] + Bagua (large body of water; a lake or ocean) + without [ma-] Grandfather [óroco-ti]. (The The cemí beings were clearly not mythical Castilian ‘c’ phoneme in these samples corresponds personages. Indeed the term cemí translates as to the ‘k’ sound in English.). I am less certain that sweet or sweetness. The first to show the etymology the stem yoca- is that of yuca (manioc); it depends of cemí was a famous linguist, C. H. de Goeje in the on whether the correct phonetic transcription is late 1920s. Thus, the current popular conception yuca or yoca. As is well known a single phoneme that cemí refers to an object or a series of artifacts can drastically change the meaning of a word (as in is simply wrong. I have shown in some detail that English but versus bat). this metaphor “sweetness” was used to denpote

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The plaza of an ancient Taino settlement in Puerto Rico is lined with enigmatic stone carvings like this. Credit: The Ancient Standard.

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A wooden figure of a cemí-imbued anthropomortphic being. The round table-top would hold the dish with the cohoba hallucinogen. Musuem Fundación García-Arévalo, Santo Domingo, Diminican Republic. Photo courtesy of Dr. José R. Oliver.

something akin to the Polynesian concept of ‘mana’, or the Maori notion of hau. In other words it refers to a vital force or potency. The thing is that for the “Taíno” many things, visible and invisible, in nature and cosmos could potentially be imbued with this vital force, or cemí. Of course, not all things are imbued with vital force. Only in particular contexts, this vital force would be manifested to ordinary human beings and then only some would be transformed into various kinds of icons and artefacts. The icons are imbued with −they “have”− this powerful, vital force (i.e., cemí). So a tree is can just be a tree, leaves and wood, to be used for fuel, house construction, or bulding canoes. But is potentially can be imbued with cemí, it can have another nature (what Vivieros 138

de Castro called the Amerindian multinatural perspectivism, common to many aborigines’ world view today). Once manifested this tree could be sculptured into such icons as vomiting spatula, wooden icons, carved pendants, even petroglyphs in stalactites or in monoliths framing the plazas. The Cohoba Ceremony was crucial to determine if any such potential manifestation in nature had indeed a vital force. In the ceremony, via hallucination, the cacique or shaman would engage in a dialogue with this potency, whose form and identity was still occult in the tree or the rock. This enable this potency to reveal to the cacique or shaman who he or she was, tell him his/her names and titles, his/ her pedigree (descent, kin relations to other cemí-


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It is clear then that the form of government consultation process among the aborigines of the Greater Antilles, particularly in Hispaniola, was intimately linked to the relationship between the political leader and its continegnt of cemí-imbued figures and the world of hallucinated cemí beings. When the Spaniards began to impression and kill the caciques and their heirs a crisis developed since the factions forwarding their preferred candidates may not have had either the contingent of reputable, legendary cemí-icons or the candidante himself was yet an unknown quantity in terms of his/her effectyiveness in controlling and dealing with the cemí beings. In fact, it was in these moments of political crises that we find out that the emerging cacique candidates were doing their best to proclaim that their “cemís” were more powerful than their opponents’. And it is at this when also chiefs 139

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I suspect that the cemís with multiple names and titles were high ranked personages that had a accrued a long, rich biography, and hence a legendary status, since acquiring names over time often implies a change in status of the personage (human or not). We know, for example, that some of the wooden figures (e.g., seats or duhos, and icons) were maintained ver several generations, perhaps as long as 200-300 years.

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The exploration of who were the cemí beings and how the interaction between cemí-imbued figures or icons (i.e., non-human beings) and human was effected and the consequences of such relationships is a fascinating story, about which I have written in two recent books. But here, to conclude my reply to your question, I will focus on one aspect: politicalreligious power. The cemí, once materialized into a figure, was entrusted (not owned) to particular individuals, who had to henceforth observe the taboos and demands of this materialized cemíbeing. It was an uneasy relationship, since the cemí-being could always abandon its trustee. In the legends given by Pané, specific cemís could and did “escape” from its human trustee. The set of cemí figures under the trust of a cacique, were critical for governing. The chief, and is advisory council, generated policies regarding the well-being of the polity and its subjects: when to harvest, when to engage in long distance trades, whether to go to war or cement a guaitiao pact, which women to give in marriage and to whom, and so on. To decide whether a policy would be productive or wise, the chief had to consult the spirit cemís (those invisible vital forces) accompanied by all of its (material, concrete visible) cemí-imbued icons. To engage the cemís, he or she (in the case of female cacicas) would inhale the hallucinogen in the Cohoba Ceremony. Once in trance, the cacique could consult the cemí spirit beings or negotiate for a positive, beneficial

outcome of the proposed policy in hand (e.g., war, peace, marriage, trade, etc.). Of course, in such an altered state of consciousness (a parallel reality) the cacique could predict the future or “see” the outcome (dream, hallucinate), and hence whether the proposed policy was a good or a bad idea to implement. Both the cacique and the cemí-icons=, over the long run, and provided that the results were beneficial, would mutually enhance their reputations. Legends were built around the deeds of the cemí-icon and the chief. But incompetent chiefs, could potentially be abandoned by the cemí-icons entrusted to him; or a recently appointed, neophyte, cacique has yet to demonstrate whether or not he be as effective as his predecessor in negotiation, cajoling the cemí spirits to produce desirable outcomes of the policies to be implemented.

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beings), they way in which it should be sculptured (engraved, painted, molded, if ceramic), when and how he/she ought to be venerated, and finally, what power did it have. Thus, we are talking of persons, albeit non-human, who like humans, have ancestors and relatives, who have ranks (the more titles, the higher the rank), and when sculptured also have a form or body. So the aborigines treated them as persons, as social beings, albeit with cemí power. They did not have generic power, but specific ones. These powers often related to weather control, such as hurricanes versus gentle rain, versus drought. Other powers had to do with fertility of thew land of human procreation; to send death/evil to enemies and/or to cure, protect and support individuals or even entire polities.


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began to steal each other’s cemí icons, and that against the backdrop that stealing among Taínos was punishable by death through impalement. Why would they steal?; because they could not order on demand a powerful, legenadry cemí. Even if they did so and even if the cemí-personage was powerful, the reputation and record (biography) of such cemí has yet to accrue, proven to be effective in fostering the well-being of ordinary people. Everyone would have known the icons’ legends; the political elite could not “invent” them. Crucially, the emerging chief candidates themselves were almost certainly not the preferred or legitimate heirs designated by sumptuary rules of succession (those were dead or imprisoned). This they would have no proven effectiveness (reputation) their ability to control or obtain from them what is required, and above all, their kin or faction may not have the contingent of legendary cemí figures under their trust. The aspiring candidate (and the supporting political faction) had no choice but to steal these legendary cemí icons from others if he or she was to, indeed, govern at all. Sadly, we only have the actual names and legends of 12 of these cemí personages, their synoptic biographies collected by Fray Ramón Pané between 1494 and 1497. It is enough to provide a taste of the nature of these icons, but too little to caputure what was no doubt a rich and colorful diversity of legends attached to both the cemí-cions and the peoples who handled them and who felt their impact.

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republic, after 15 years of research in Puerto Rico, has to do with how little we know about the impact of the early days of Spanish colonization had in the aboriginal way of life. We know a bit more of what was going on in settlements inhabited by Spaniards (La Isabela, for example) than the short and longterm effects in the aboriginal villages. The other aspect has to do with the outstanding questions about ethnicity and material expressions of identity in a region where at the time of Spanish Contact, was multi-cultural and multi-lingual. There are two different ceramic traditions (Meillacoid and Chicoid) that seem to echo the distinctions between Macoríx (non-Arawak) and “Taíno” (Arawakan), but I suspect that the one-to-one correspondence of one tradition with one ethnic group is not so simple. For example, there is a “hybrid” ceramic style that appears to be a syncretism of both traditions. There interesting differences, such as the sites with Meillac materials lack cemeteries, whereas those with Carrier or Boca Chica (Taíno) materials have them. The former tend to bury individuals on the edges of house structures, often marked by raised platforms (now eroded to conical shapes) or on the slope edges of the flat-top ridges of the elongated hills in the area. This is the preferred settlement location of both Meillacoid and Chicoid groups. But more interestingly, the Meillacoid and Chicoid sites are distributed in a mosaic fashion, within sight of each other. We know that both traditions are largely contemporaneous (Meillacoid may be a bit earlier in some areas) and both survived into the Spanish Contact period, but it is less certain for how long into the colonial period and the ways in which either group adapted (socially, culturally, biologically) to the Spanish invasion. Nor do we have evidence that would illuminate how Arawakans and nonArawakan archaeological “groups” interacted with each other, and how such interactions changed after the arrival of the Spaniards.

Before concluding this interview, I wanted to congratulate you as the Macorix de Arriba Archaeological Project enters its third year. I also wanted to take the time to ask you a little bit about the project itself: what prompted the formation of this archaeological project and what have you and your colleagues uncovered so far in the Punta Rucia vicinity of the Dominican Republic? What has surprised and excited you most from your time there? And finally, what do you hope the project ultimately accomplishes? One interesting discovery, at the site of Edilio Cruz-1, is that the ridge top of the elongated hill (sometimes It is my pleasure to talk about such topics; these hills are 2 or more km long and may contain I enjoy re-visiting and re-thinking my views several sites or “neighborhood” throughout its on these matters. My engagement in Dominican length), had been artificially leveled, with the

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If there is one goal I would like to achieve is to provide a new voice to the Macoríx peoples and their (archaeological) ancestors, who have been largely forgotten by history and historians and many others today, at the expense of a Taíno-centric view of the ancient inhabitants of the greater Antilles. In short, I wish to rescue their memory for future generations.

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But a lot of the base-line archaeology is yet to be done in this region. We have a poor chronological control; we do not have yet good documentation on their house structures or village configuration (albeit in the ridge tops these were linear, but no good sense of arrangements within the hill tops). We do not yet know whether some households and their related refuse (usually swept downslope from the hill top) will yield significant socio-economic differences (“rich vs. poor”). In many ways, it is still pioneering archaeology, which is precisely what I enjoy most when doing fieldwork, when ignorance is largely to be illuminated; most of everything is yet to be known. I leave the complex, mutli-institutional dense projects (as, for example, in many areas or sites of Yucatán) for others.

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original organic topsoil being pushed to the edges of the slopes. Over this buried soil horizon at the edges, midden refuse (and lots of ash) were built over time. One of these refuse areas has yielded pits and disturbances that are not by looters (a constant problem in Dominican Republic), but likely a reworking of the organic refuse soil (a kind of hoeing, composting) for preparing and establishing house gardens. The central axis of the flattened hill is largely devoid of organic soil, and hence very poor for cultivation.

Dr. José R. Oliver is a Reader in Latin American Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. Born in Barcelona, Spain and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Oliver earned his BA in anthropology Miami University in 1977. He continued his studies in anthropology at the University of Illinois in UrbanaChampaign, IL, earning his MA in 1981, and then his PhD in 1989. Oliver was additionally a Ford Foundation Post-doctoral Fellow at Yale University in New Haven, CN. Oliver’s most recent work, Caciques and Cemí Idols: The Web Spun by Taíno Rulers between Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, was published in 2009. Blending the boundaries of ethnohistory and archaeology, the work explores the complexities of Taíno iconography and symbolism in relation to Taíno culture. Presently, Oliver is the program leader of the Macorix de Arriba Archaeological Project. This is a five-year field archaeological research program (2010-2014) conducted in the Punta Rucia coastal area of northern Dominican Republic, some 30 km west of “La Isabela,” the first European settlement founded by Christopher Columbus in January 1493 CE.

*** James Blake Wiener is a freelance writer and academic researcher based in Sarasota, Florida. Previously, he was as a Professor of European history at the State College of Florida. He received his BA, Magna cum Laude, in History and his MA in World History from New York University. Currently, he is the News Editor and Public Relations Manager for the Ancient History Encyclopedia.

JW

*** I thank you so much for your time Dr. Oliver! It’s been a pleasure to speak with Acknowledgements you and learn more about these mysterious, but Our sincerest thanks to Mr. Christopher Espenshade, M.A., RPA, very intriguing people.

JO

Muchas gracías James! It’s been great to speak with you too. ***

Principal Investigator, Archaeologist, and Manager for New South Associates in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, for his assistance in organizing the interview with Professor Oliver.

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Heritage Crime is Big Business By Dr Monty Dobson

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hile heritage crime today is not on the same scale as the wholesale removal of antiquities like Lord Elgin’s thefts of the early 19th century, it is far more widespread than generally acknowledged. The illicit trade of cultural property is a growing international business worth billions annually. Indeed, the United States Department of Justice Art Crime, including the illicit trade in antiquities, is the third highest grossing area of criminal activity in the world behind only Drugs and Arms trafficking. According to the Historical Museum of Basel Switzerland “hundreds of thousands of items of cultural significance ranging from works of art, manuscripts, ancient monuments to objects of ethnographic and archaeological significance are illegally sold on the international market. While it is impossible to determine the exact market value of illicit trade in cultural items, according to official US government reports the market is likely somewhere in the region of $US 6 billion per year. While the dollar value of the illegal trade in art and antiquities is enormous, the global statistics are truly staggering: in Italy alone last year there were more than 20,000 thefts reported, with many more crimes going undetected or unreported. A recent article by Britain’s Daily Telegraph cited one study that concludes there were more than 75,000 heritage crimes in the UK in 2011. While not all of these were theft, an astoundingly high number were. According to the Telegraph: “The study found nearly a fifth of the country’s 31,000 Grade I or II* buildings were subject to criminal acts while more than 63,000 Grade II buildings were targeted.” and that “more than 15 per cent

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of scheduled monuments – defined as unoccupied ‘nationally important historic structure significant for its archaeological value’ – were damaged by unlicensed metal detecting and illegal vehicle access.” Elsewhere in Europe, recent high profile thefts from museums and archaeological sites in Greece have been blamed on Government cuts to heritage protection. But the numbers alone only tell part of the story. It isn’t just the staggering scale of the market or the number of crimes that should concern us, it is the ultimate destination of the money that is alarming. Organized criminal gangs and fundamentalist terrorist organizations both benefit from the black market trade in illicit art and antiquities more than any other group. Indeed, in 1999, the 9/11 terrorist mastermind Mohamed Atta is known to have attempted the sale of looted antiquities to fund the terror plot against the World Trade Center in New York City. Zones of conflict offer opportunity to thieves, criminal gangs and terrorist organizations. Around the globe, heritage sites are often a silent casualty of conflict and the long tail of the crime is often deadly. In addition to the high profile 9/11 terrorist connection to looting, most international law enforcement agencies agree that regional conflict zones are fertile ground for heritage crimes. The United States FBI notes that local farmers in Afghanistan are known to be digging up cultural heritage items and selling them to “criminal or government organizations...” Thereby indirectly funneling funds to the Taliban which in turn uses those dollars to buy


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Two illegally excavated ancient male statues recovered from antiquities smugglers in southern Greece, May 18, 2010 [AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis]

Ancient vases and cups recovered by Italian authorities [Credit: AP photo/Riccardo De Luca]

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A police official inspects seized ancient statues at a police station in Karachi on July 6, 2012. Authorities in Pakistan’s financial capital seized dozens of precious antiquities belonged to 2,000-old Gandhara civilization, dug-up illegally from the country’s terrorism-torn northwest [Credit: AFP]

arms and attack NATO troops. In Syria heritage sites are under severe threat. According to the Interpol website: “The on-going armed conflict in Syria is increasingly threatening a significant part of the cultural heritage of mankind. Roman ruins, archaeological sites, historic premises and places of worship are particularly vulnerable to destruction, damages, theft and looting during this period of turmoil.” The antiquities then are smuggled abroad, given a false provenance, and sold, often on an open market to unsuspecting museums and collectors who never would imagine that their purchase might indirectly fund the Taliban.” The story doesn’t end with the theft of these items as they are not likely to be sold on supportaterroristshop.com. The seedy underbelly of the illicit art and antiquities market is the seemingly respectable network of dealers and middle-men who knowingly violate the 1970 UNESCO con144

vention for the sake of profit. For example in 1995 Italian police raided warehouses belonging to Italian Art Dealer Giacomo Medici located in a Swiss tax free zone outside Geneva. There Italian authorities seized hundreds of stolen items. Medici was convicted in Italy in 2004 and sentenced to 10 years in prison and a record fine of 10 million euros. Many of the items Medici moved were sold through a certain prominent London auction house. While there is no indication the auction house acted illegally, the case illustrates just how legitimate players in the art and antiquities market are duped by unscrupulous middle-men who are more than happy to forge the necessary documents. The complex web of middle-men is illustrated by the recent case of early fifth century B.C. Greek coin seized in Switzerland. According to an Associated Press story dated January 12, 2012 “a Swiss court has ordered the confiscation of a very rare ancient silver coin that was allegedly illegally excavated


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Buying your illicit coins and looted antiquities from seemingly legitimate online retailers like ebay may be no guarantee of authenticity of the object or legitimacy of the seller either. By some estimates as many as 90% of the antiquities traded online on sites like ebay or unclbobsusedantiquities.com are outright fakes. How can this be? According to Professor Charles S Stanish, Director, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA, the looters simply find it more profitable to manufacture multiple fakes than dig up genuine relics. In a 2009 article for the online magazine ARCHAEOLOGY, published by the Archaeological Institute of America, Stanish wrote: “many of the primary “producers” of the objects have shifted from looting sites to faking antiquities. I’ve been tracking eBay antiquities for years now, and from what I can tell, this shift began around 2000, about five years after eBay was established.” For those intent on ignoring the 1970 UNESCO Convention then, it seems to be a case of buyer beware.

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Interpol Works of Art Crime Area Webpage: http://www.interpol.int/Crime-areas/Works-of-art/ Works-of-art

UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property 1970: http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-URL_ ID=13039&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201. html FBI: http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/ law-enforcement-bulletin/march-2012/protectingcultural-heritage-from-art-theft Greece wins Swiss court ruling over ancient coin. By COSTAS KANTOURIS, Associated Press Monday, 16 January 2012 10:20

While many dealers, from major auction houses to online dealers, and their customers are legitimate and follow the law, more needs to be done 145

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Elsewhere on the internet there are many small time dealers who sell everything from coins to artifacts to art with little or no apparent concern for provenance as defined under the 1970 UNESCO convention. On May 18, 2012 an AFP news story noted that Italian police announced that they were investigating more than 70 people for trading thousands of looted archaeological artifacts on Internet auction site eBay. Italian police noted that they had seized more than sixteen-thousand artifacts ranging from bronze and silver coins, rings and ceramic vases Notes and Links in addition to 10 metal detectors.

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to track down and prosecute those who profit from the destruction of our collective heritage. A couple of recently announced online initiatives are promising to aid law enforcement agencies and the heritage communities do just that. The University of Glasgow’s project with the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, Trafficking Culture, seeks to create an online encyclopedia of looted sites and artifacts. Similarly WikiLoot, founded by the chaps behind the chasingaphrodite.com website aims to create an open source web platform for the publication and analysis of primary source records and photographs documenting the illicit trade in looted antiquities.

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in northern Greece and sold at auction in Switzerland...” Greek and Swiss officials believe that the coin was sold back and forth among a number of offshore companies before being sold in Switzerland in 2009 to an unidentified collector for $106,000.


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. . . m o r f r e t t Le n i a j i a b r e z A Archaeological Explorations at Agsu The Agsu Archaeological Expedition conducted by the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the National Academy of Sciences in Azerbaijan has been exploring the medieval town of Agsu since March, 2010, with the support of the MIRAS Social Organization in Support of Studying of Cultural Heritage.

‘cloak-room’. Various-size mud-bricks were used in the construction of the heating channels and flues.

The Expedition has now completed the archaeological research of the bath-house unearthed on the 4th excavation zone which had remained imcomplete in 2010 and also during the field and research season of 2011. As a result of the continuing excavations, the bath’s main entrance, stairs, stone floor, and other subsidiary structures within the complex, including a large open square with a stone floor flanked by rooms and a large swimming-pool, were revealed and explored. As the overall plan of the bath-house emerged, it became clear that the swimming pool formed the central element of the complex, and that it was flanked by a ‘recreational room’ with ‘tomblike’ recesses along its sides, a ‘cloakroom’ and several separate bathing rooms.

Lighting of the bath-house was achieved via windows with carved stone cupolst. During excavation one large and one smaller stone cupol was revealed inside the bath-house.

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The roof of the bath-house appears to have had a steep incline. Judging from the building fragments it seems that sections of the roof were arched and constructed from mud-brick. Other sections of roof The Expedition, which is led by Doctor of Historical covering the bath-house, especially the floors of the Sciences, Gafar Jabiyev, has painstackingly examined ‘tomb-like recesses’ in the recreation room, were some 15,000 square metres of the archaeological site arched and lined with mud-bricks. The roof of the till now and has revealed numerous unique artefacts passage leading from the cloak-room to the recrethat shed light on the medieval and recent history of ation room was almost certainly vaulted and lined Azerbaijan. with mud-bricks.

The bath-house was found to have a heating system fitted under the floor, the walls of which were lined with quarried stone and mud-bricks, neatly fitted to allow the free circulation of smoke and heat. A hearth located east of the bath-house formed the heart of the heating system. Above the hearth was an arch with two flues and which served to buttress the western wall beneath the bathing rooms and the 148

The remnants of several water and sewerage channels, running to and from the bath-house, were also revealed and investigated. One of the more capacious channels, cut along a north-south direction, ran from the bath-house’s cloak-room to a ditch located along the northern fortress walls of the city. The bottom and sides of this channel are built with precisely fiited hewn river stones, while the upper section was covered with rafters. This channel was cut along a steeper inclination so as to drain into the channel to the north of the bath-house. The Expedition’s 2011 field season launched a broader investigation of the area we provisionally call the 5th excavation zone, located closer to the city centre. The initial test area, located in the city centre and running along a north-south axis, measured some 100 metres in length by 2 metres in width. Our goal was to reveal any buildings located in this wider area


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Mr. Jabiyev on the excavation site.

and then to continue either eastwards or westwards depending on the building remains we encountered. We soon discovered that the buildings extended westwards and so we concentrated our efforts there.

Main thoroughfares differ from small and subsidiary streets by virtue of their width and length. Many of these have low, slanting areas and it was apparent that during times of heavy rain they would have been subjected to quite heavy flows and some inevitable flooding. Evidently, when Agsu was founded, this factor was almost certainly taken into consideration, and may be another reason why all the main streets run along an east-west axis. Exploration of 5th zone showed that all subsidiary streets, all of which are likewise neatly cobbled with river stone, run perpendicular (north-south) to the main streets.

The overall excavation area encompassed some 5,000 square metres. The synchronized investigation of such a wide area was significant insofar as it permitted an in-depth and comprehensive investigation of the city’s topography and especially of its inner structure – residential and commercial quarters, streets and squares, sanitation and maintenance concerns - as well as of construction and architectural pecularities. Particularly noteworthy are the numerous cisterns, wells and sewerage lines that were revealed in the 5th In the 5th zone it was immediately evident that wide zone. Several wells were unearthed just south of the and long streets, thought to be the main thorough- main thoroughfare, effectively dividing the excavafares of the city, were mainly of an east-west direc- tion site into two equal parts. Two of these, built with tion. These streets were all cobbled with river-stone hewn river stone, were exceptionally preserved. We and led either to the main and/or smaller squares of discovered that these wells were fed with water via the city. In our opinion, the main factor which deter- an underground water pipe that ran along a northmined the direction of Agsu’s main streets was the east direction and which was in turn connected to a city’s main gateway, which was located to the west, main channel connected to the Agsuchay river, the i.e. all main streets of the city are directed to the main primary source of the city’s drinking water. gate.

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Mr. Fariz Khalilli with other arhaeologists at the excavation site.

A large arched, two-cell cistern was also unearthed in 5th excavation zone. Built from river stone, this finely plastered cistern held some 140 cubic metres of water and evidently supplied drinking water to the ‘Juma Mosque’ and those lived near the Mosque. It is also worth noting that some of Agsu’s water lines passed through and under the floors and walls of several private houses, suggesting that they were equipped with running water. Large wooden logs and stone plates were used to close off the water lines at these sites.

finely plastered. Three minarets were revealed along the southern walls of the mosque. The windows and minarets of the mosque are arched and built from mud-bricks and alm.

During the course of the excavations thousands of tile fragments were revealed along the outer walls of the edifice. According to our estimations, some 60,000 individual tiles, each weighing between 800 and 950 grams, were used to decorate the ‘Juma Mosque’. This translates into a total load of approximately 60,000 tonnes. The existence of this structure, Certainly the most magnificent building remains the only example of a tiled building found in the setrevealed in Agsu to date are those of a large struc- tlement to date, clearly attests to a high level of techture, measuring 36x16 metres. which we have provi- nical and engineering skill. sionally named the ‘Juma Mosque’. The base of the mosque’s walls was built of river stones, while the A wide courtyard, lined with large limestone plates, walls themselves were built of mud-brick. Various opened onto the mosque to the north. The courtwooden fragments used in the mosque’s construc- yard itself was bounded by walls. The western wall tion were also unearthed, together with large iron was built of white-washed clay-bricks, while the eastnails and hooks. The mosque’s magnificent walls ern and northern walls were constructed from river were supported by wooden (oak?) columns, the stone. A well, used for ritual cleansing before divine bases of which were fashioned from finely sculpted service, was located in the centre of the courtyard. A stone, placed 2.5 metres distance from each other. tombstone belonging to Molla Ali Hussein oglu was The floor of the mosque was well constructed and also found, as were several graves of children. 150


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Excavation at the ‘Juma Mosque’.

The remains of several private houses were revealed south of the mosque, situated along the main streets running in an east-west direction. Their foundations were built from river stone and their walls were made of mud-brick. Small open areas fitted with bread-ovens (tendirkhana), wells, tendirs and hearths were situated infront of the houses, facing the streets. These arrangements are quite typical of the residential areas and streets of medieval Moslem cities.

stones from the cemeteries located to the north, east and west of the city were cleaned and restored. Our team’s epigraphical specialist, Habiba Aliyeva, has studied over 200 tombstones and his findings will be published in the forthcoming book ‘Medieval Agsu Town Epigraphy’.

The expedition has also catalogued numerous historical documents relating to Agsu, also called ‘Kharaba Sheher’ and ‘Yeni Shamakhi’ (‘New Shamakhi’). From these sources we learn that Agsu was A rich and colourful array of artefacts, including iron founded in 1735 by Nadergulu Khan, who had reand copper items, faience and pottery ware, cop- located the population of Shamakhi, a nearby setper and silver coins, porcelain of Chinese and Euro- tlement that had suffered extensive damage from pean production, glassware produced in England, earthquakes and wars, to the newly built city. were recovered during excavation. One interesting find was the discovery of numerous plates that had The results of the Agsu archaeological explorations clearly been washed at the side of the mosque’s have been published in a three volume study enwestern wall and neatly gathered and covered with titled ‘Medieval Agsu Town’ by the MIRAS Organizacloth. These finds clearly illustrate that the residents tion and also in numerous scientific journals. of 18th century Agsu enjoyed high living standards. Gafar Jabiyev Several cemeteries, mostly dating to the 18th cenFariz Khalilli tury, were discovered outside the town’s walls. Dur10/07/2012 ing the 2011 excavation season, many of the head151


What’s On . . . Exhibitions in The Martin-Gropius-Bau Museum in Berlin will host from August 7 through January 13, 2013 an exhibition entitled Olympia: Mythos, Culture and Games. Over 1,000 exhibits will be presented at the Museum coming from the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, the Archaeological Museum of Olympia, the Monetary Museum of Athens, the Antiquities collection belonging to state museums of Berlin, the Vatican Museum, the Archaeological Museum of Rome, the Louvre Museum and the archaeological collections of Dresden and Munich. Link: http://www.museumsportal-berlin.de/en/museums/ museum-details/martin-gropius-bau.html

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The Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki in cooperation with the Directorate for Documentation and Protection of Cultural Goods of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, is hosting temporary exhibition entitled: Trafficking Of Antquities: Stop It. Illicit trafficking of antiquities is a scourge as illicit excavations and theft of cultural goods are constantly rising. The vast majority of the exhibits on display are products of illicit trafficking. the Aristotle University excavation programme at Vergina, the 17th EPCA, the 16th EPCA and the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities also participated in this exhibition by lending ancient artefacts and archival material. The exhibition will run until 30 September 2012. Link: http://www.amth.gr/index.php/en/ The Novium Museum containing the remains of a Roman bath house has opened in Chichester, West Sussex. The museum also contains a mosaic from a nearby Roman fort. The baths were excavated in the 1970s and were then covered by a car park. Archaeologists also found remains of a pub and a school. The museum sits on a series of piles, so the remains underneath will not be damaged by the building. Link: http://www.thenovium.org/

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The Museum of Prehistoric Anthropology in Monaco is currently hosting The Nomads of Upper Asia, an exhibition featuring the culture of the extraordinary people who still inhabit a geographical area that includes parts of Mongolia, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and China. Since 2006, the Museum of Prehistoric Anthropology of Monaco, in conjunction with the Institute of Archaeology of the Academy of Sciences of Mongolia, has been excavating the ancient site of Tsatsyn Ereg. This exhibition allows the public to share in the archaeological investigations by examining facsimiles of the traditional deer stones, along with rock carvings, weapons and ornaments. The exhibition will run until 21 September 2012. Link: http://www.map-mc.com/ Faces & Voices explores the lives of people living in Egypt in the Roman and Late Antique period through the portraits and writings they left behind, now held in the collections of The University of Manchester’s John Rylands Library. The show features ten remarkable mummy portraits and an amazing display of Greco-Roman papyri – most of which have never been seen before in public – as well as a series of works by influential Egyptian artist Fathi Hassan. The exhibition will run from July to November Link: http://www.library.manchester.ac.uk/

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The Uffizi Gallery in Florence has opened ten new spaces, dedicated to 16th-century painters, mainly from Tuscany, from Andrea del Sarto to Bronzino and Raffaello. There is also a gallery with Hellenistic sculptures. The statues that are exhibited include Boy with Thorn (Roman art), the Aphrodite (Hellenistic art), also known as Toilet of Venus, and the Torso, showing a centaur with its hands tied behind its back, also known as ‘Torso Gaddi’, the Farnese Hercules (Roman art, 2nd century A.D.). Other sculptures on show include the Citharist Apollo, Dionysus with panther, a Niobide and a Head of Arianne, coming from the archaeological museum in the Tuscan capital.

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What’s On . . . Exhibitions in The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute presents rare Chinese burial objects in an exclusive exhibition that considers both the discovery and the impact of modern Chinese archaeology. Unearthed: Recent Archaeological Discoveries from Northern China features objects recently excavated from sites in the Shanxi and Gansu provinces and never before seen outside of China, including a fullsize stone sarcophagus discovered intact in 2004. The exhibition will run until October 21, 2012. Link: http://www.clarkart.edu/

The Western Science Center in Hemet, in partnership with La Sierra University in Riverside, is currently hosting the exhibition Weapons & War in the Iron Age. The exhibition presents artefacts from La Sierra University’s extensive collection, some excavated by La Sierra archaeologists from ancient sites in Jordan, and some from sites in Israel and Palestine. Most of the artefacts, including arrows, spears and swords, date from 1200 to 600 BCE, during the Iron Age of the Near East when iron became the prevalent material in making tools and weapons. The exhibit will run through the fall; no specific closing date has been set.

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The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia is currently hosting Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Ancient Times, a new exhibition that explores the rich history of ancient Israel with the largest collection of artefacts from biblical to Islamic periods ever to tour outside of Israel. Running through Oct. 14, the exhibition features more than 600 objects, including a 3-ton stone from Jerusalem’s Western Wall and 20 extremely rare fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls collection. They will be displayed in two sets of 10 for approximately three months each. Link: http://fi.edu/scrolls/

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The Getty Center is hosting Heaven, Hell, and Dying Well: Images of Death in the Middle Ages, an exhibition exploring medieval images that reflect imagined travels to the netherworld and attempts to map what awaited humankind beyond this earthly existence. Among the artworks presented are manuscript illuminations, printed books, a panel painting and stained glass. The exhibition runs until August 12, 2012. Link: http://www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/death_ middle_ages/ Millions of years ago an incredible array of dinosaur diversity began to emerge in the southern hemisphere, in the ancient land of Gondwana. The land masses that would form modern-day Africa, Madagascar and South America began to take shape, and were home to the largest and most unusual dinosaurs to have ever roamed the earth. Now, for the first time in North America, audiences will meet a new breed of beast in the Royal Ontario Museum‘s landmark exhibition Ultimate Dinosaurs: Giants from Gondwana. An extraordinary opportunity to experience dinosaurs you’ve never seen before, in ways you’ve never imagined. The exhibition will run until March 17, 2013. Link: http://www.joslyn.org/

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MAYA 2012: Lords of Time presented by the Penn Museum in Philadelphia leads visitors on a journey through the Maya’s time-ordered universe, expressed through their intricate calendar systems, and the power wielded by their divine kings, the astounding “lords of time.” The exhibition features remarkable objects including artefacts recently excavated by Penn Museum archaeologists from the site of Copan, Honduras. Visitors follow the rise and fall of Copan, moving across the centuries to discover how Maya ideas about time and the calendar have changed up to the present day. MAYA 2012 runs through early 2013, well past the apocalypse predicted for Dec. 23, 2012..

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Spotlight . . . Six Great Websi The Institute for Archaeologists (IfA) advances the practice of archaeology and allied disciplines by promoting professional standards and ethics for conserving, managing, understanding and promoting enjoyment of heritage. The organisation is open to all archaeologists and others involved in protecting and understanding the historic environment. Over 3100 people have so far joined IfA, and more than 70 organisations have registered. Membership is open to anybody who works within the historic environment, whether they are employed or volunteering their time. Individuals gain membership after rigorous peer review of their technical and ethical competence. Link: http://www.archaeologists.net/ The European Association of Archaeologists (EAA) is aimed at professional archaeologists of Europe and beyond. On this site you can find details of the EAA’s aims, activities and publications, and forthcoming conferences. The EAA is a membership-based association open to all archaeologists and other related or interested individuals or bodies. The EAA currently has over 1100 members on its database from 41 countries world-wide working in prehistory, classical, medieval and later archaeology.

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Link: http://www.e-a-a.org/

SAFE/Saving Antiquities for Everyone is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving cultural heritage worldwide. Their stated mission is to raise public awareness about the irreversible damage that results from looting, smuggling and trading illicit antiquities. SAFE promotes respect for the laws and treaties that enable nations to protect their cultural property and preserve humanity’s most precious non-renewable resource: the intact evidence of our undiscovered past. Link: http://www.savingantiquities.org/

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Ancient History Encyclopedia is a source of ancient history information, provided by a community of historians and history enthusiasts. The goal is to make quality ancient history information freely available on the internet, which is something that is clearly missing: Books are expensive, Wikipedia is comprehensive but unreliable, and many other sites are either amateurish, with a nationalist agenda, or their presentation is so bad that it nearly makes them useless. Link: http://www.ancient.eu.com/

A new interactive experience available to everyone on the internet brings the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt to you, to explore and learn at your own pace. You can experience the Pyramids in two ways: take a guided tour from an expert, or wander the temples, tombs and burial chambers on your own. There are notes in each site, including field journals from archaeologists, maps, current and historical photos, and objects constructed in 3D. The project currently includes four temples and the Pyramids of Khufu and Menhaure. The Pyramid of Khafre, the middle of the three pyramids, and the Sphinx have not been added yet. Many additions are planned. Link: http://giza3d.3ds.com/

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Link: http://leakeyfoundation.org/

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The Leakey Foundation promotes a multidisciplinary approach to exploring human origins. The Foundation awards more than $600,000 annually in field and laboratory grants for vital new research and long-term projects exploring human evolution. Leakey Grantees study many facets of our early ancestors through a variety of scientific disciplines: paleoanthropology, primatology, geology, genetics and morphology. Special encouragement is given to early career scientists asking new questions and offering innovative ways to answer questions about human evolution.

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ancientplanet online journal

for evolving minds The AncientPlanet online journal features original research papers on a wide gamut of subjects relating to history, archaeology and science. The purpose of this publication is twofold. In the first instance, it is intended to provide a platform for both professional academics and students to present their research to the wider public. As such, we welcome contributions from individuals from all walks of life, whether undergraduates, postgraduates, academics, museum staff, as well as the general public. Second to this, but equally as important, it is hoped that this journal will promote a greater understanding of this ancient planet we call home. If you want to write an article for ancientplanet please contact the editor at: ioangeorgopoulos@gmail.com

Free to view at:

http://ancientplanet.blogspot.com/

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AncientPlanet Online Journal Vol.2