Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Carphone Warehouse ... Fraud

Like most people I've had so many issues with Carphone Warehouse and their debt collection agencies making threats in the past.

There was the time they switched my broadband from BT to TalkTalk without my permission.

There was the contract I ended, but they insisted they had sent me a new phone which never arrived, and which they claimed meant I had agreed to a new 18 month contract. I filed the court papers after month of harassment, and not only did I win - although I'm still waiting for the refund ... - but they admitted that they didn't check the PO box to which letters ending contracts were sent.

We're currently in another one of their harassment cases, because I returned a phone that didn't work the same day I had been pushed into buying it, and they claim that the cooling off period allowed under UK law and various other laws do not apply to them. Again, I'm pretty sure if it comes to court I'll win that one too.

But ... this is where it gets interesting.

At 9.01 am today I received a phone call from the MacKenzie Hall Group of telephone number 01563503797 from a man who would not identify himself, and insisted on speaking to Mr xxx xxx.

The interesting detail is that they were calling a spare cell phone I keep for either visitors from abroad or when a second phone is useful.

When I bought the pay as you go phone at the Carphone Warehouse concession in Selfridge's, I told the saleswoman I didn't really want to give my details because they spammed, so she told me to make up a name and I did. So the Mr xxx xxx that they asked for does not exist.

So the MacKenzie Hall Group is a debt collection agency trying to harass a completely fictional person about an equally fictional debt.

Only the Carphone Warehouse could have sold them that name and number.


Oh, and I probably should have mentioned that Mr xxx xxx was my cat. And he's been dead a while.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Amphipolis: The Door

The third photo shows the tracks I mentioned before, and there are cuttings to show it could be set open in various places - this is normally seen in temples.

One thing no-one has asked is why is the door at Amphipolis so much more damaged than the rest of the structure and sculpture ... was it locked? and if so, this would be the first evidence of a possible attempt to rob the tomb in Antiquity. Or maybe the slabs were less secure than the rest of the building, so they fell and shattered.

Sphinx Head Found at Amphipolis

Alert! Βρέθηκε το κεφάλι της Σφίγγας στην Αμφίπολη

I'm going to guess that like the wing, it was found in an ancient context. So the break was not the result of modern looting as Christos Tsirogiannis of the MC has been telling people.

And the journalist who was taking photos for the dig is no longer posting them on her open Facebook page:

Best Archaeological Finds of the Week


The full mosaic. This has to be the top find. Press release here.

I won't be blogging any more about Amphipolis, or blogging much for a few weeks, as I'm busy writing a book. I will from now on happily discuss the finds being made at Amphipolis with any reputable journalist that gets in touch.

Since the posts I have written are all over the internet anyway, I've put them back up. I have already reported the man from the excavation and the man from the Ministry of Culture who have been leaking about the site. I can see that information is being leaked, and I can guess who might be leaking it, but I have nothing more to do with the excavation so I cannot be held responsible for problems the MC has. So that there are no misunderstandings, I have blocked anyone I know on the dig or whom I think is leaking on email, Facebook, etc.


Whilst there were many statues carved in wood in Antiquity, it is quite rare to find them, so this statuette found during excavations for the Athens metro extension is particularly exciting.

Press release here.


The second half of an inscription known since the 19th century will be presented Thursday. This is one of the rare official inscriptions from Hadrian's Jerusalem found, and I've blogged about the oter half before.

Preliminary press release here.


The press coverage - here - is a little garbled, and I suspect something was lost in translation. The stele was found in the Mausoleum precinct, which is where the vase Xerxes gave Artemisia I was also found. The inscription is a poem for a ruler, an eulogy naturally, written in “catalectic trochaic tetrameter” - this last details is interesting, as the Margites, a largely lost mock epic was also written in this meter. And the Margites was written by a poet named Pigres, who happened to be the brother of Artemisia I of Halicarnassus. The article gives a date for the stele of "was erected at the end of fourth century B.C. or at the beginning of the third century B.C.", and obviously it could well have been erected in honour of one of the many Diadochs in charge of the city, but if this detail is misreporting by the press, which also says the poem is Classical ... we probably have an important early stele linked to the Hecatomnid dynasty, or at least to the earlier dynasty they were trying to associate themselves with, and possibly a lost poem of Pigres?

UPDATE - this article is clearer and makes it clear that it is an ode to Hecatomnus himself!

And this photo (source) makes it clear that the block was used as a step - the 'shadow' of lines where the block above where can still be seen.


The quick answer to the question is I am ignoring leaks and to be honest have not had the time to look at most press and blog coverage. I am going to stick to discussing what is in the press releases and photos the Ministry of Culture release and explaining them. I think it is fair to discuss ideas based on them, but until they release all the information any ideas are just that ... Ideas.

The tomb may or may not contain a body, and we'll have to wait and see.

Phillip II seems to have been buried at Vergina and Alexander the Great was buried in Egypt so was not there.

Amphipolis is a model excavation, and the archaeologists know what they are doing and are some of the best in the world. Discussing their finds and explaining the press releases is in no way meant to be taken as a criticism of them. Once again, I have not been talking to the press, as I think they are the ones who should be doing so - not people claiming they are wrong.


Amphipolis: Alexander's Horses

I will blog about the mosaics that the Ministry of Culture just issued a press release about later today.

Before Olga Palagia announces that mosaics are Roman, let me make it clear that there is very good evidence of fine mosaics from a town destroyed by Philip II in 348 BC.

I am aware of how much hope and excitement the excavation at Amphipolis has generated during this difficult time in Greece. I am also aware that people are frustrated that they are not being told everything that has been found, and some of this is due to the slow nature of archaeology - for example tests need to be done on the soil, to confirm the date.

Having said that, I have gone out of my way not to mention conclusive evidence from the excavation. Doing so would have been a betrayal of archaeological protocol and of friendship.

But by refusing to share this information with the people of Greece, the Ministry of Culture has broken their bond of friendship with the people of Greece, whom they serve, and whose taxes fund their work.

I think that it is time that the Greek Ministry of Culture told the Greek people about Alexander's Horses and other finds from the excavation. Please do so.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Marcel Camille of Waitrose

Cycles on pavements, doesn't care about small children or dogs. BTW doesn't understand the Highway Code - cyclists with driving licences get points on their licences.


Another Monday Moaning

Because we can all do with a smile on a Monday morning ...

And remember the first five days of the week are the hardest - after that it gets easier.

Friday, October 17, 2014

New Book

Ian Drury at Sheil Land is my worldwide agent, and has the first quarter. Please contact him with bids, not me.

Obscure Roman Emperors: Diadumenian

If you enjoyed this video by Adrian Murdoch, check out his book on The Emperors of Rome; Kindle UK, Kindle US, etc

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ellie ...

... Quickly walking her post dentist. No pain or puffiness from wisdom tooth because Ann at Wallace Bryer is by far the best dentist in London, maybe Europe (seriously cannot recommend her enough). But I might be high as a kite as I rarely drink so the anaesthetic is still ... No more posts today, although news stories auto-post on my Twitter feed.


Obscure Roman Emperors: Gallienus

If you enjoyed this video by Adrian Murdoch, check out his book on The Emperors of Rome; Kindle UK, Kindle US, etc

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Breast Cancer Awareness: Siberian Mummy

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month in the UK. I've blogged about it before, and I wanted to do a follow-up post about ancient women who died of breast cancer. The problem is that with many of them we can't be sure they died of breast cancer, we can only assume.

With this woman, the famous Siberian Princess, we can be sure.

She has long been famous for her tattoos, but new tests show that she died of cancer around the age of 25 ... and that she had been using cannabis, probably like many cancer sufferers for medicinal purposes.

Iconic 2,500 year old Siberian princess 'died from breast cancer', reveals MRI scan:
Her use of drugs to cope with the symptoms of her illnesses evidently gave her 'an altered state of mind', leading her kinsmen to the belief that she could communicate with the spirits, the experts believe.
The MRI, conducted in Novosibirsk by eminent academics Andrey Letyagin and Andrey Savelov, showed  that the 'princess' suffered from osteomyelitis, an infection of the bone or bone marrow, from childhood or adolescence.
There have been numerous claims made that cancer is a 'modern' disease, which the ancients did not suffer from, but new studies are showing that although it was rarer - probably as a result of lifestyle factors such as dying much younger - it was around. Other studies have confirmed cancer in Egyptian mummies.
'When she was a little over 20 years old, she became ill with another serious disease - breast cancer.  It painfully destroyed her' over perhaps five years, said a summary of the medical findings in 'Science First Hand' journal by archeologist Professor Natalia Polosmak, who first found these remarkable human remains in 1993.
'During the imaging of mammary glands, we paid attention to their asymmetric structure and the varying asymmetry of the MR signal,' stated Dr Letyagin in his analysis. 'We are dealing with a primary tumour in the right breast and  right axial lymph nodes with metastases.'
'The three first thoracic vertebrae showed a statistically significant decrease in MR signal and distortion of the contours, which may indicate the metastatic cancer process.'
He concluded: 'I am quite sure of the diagnosis - she had cancer. She was extremely emaciated. Given her rather high rank in society and the information scientists obtained studying mummies of elite Pazyryks, I do not have any other explanation of her state. Only cancer could have such an impact.
The press article is fascinating and worth reading in full, and I plan to read the journal article too.

Obviously women should be careful and check every month not just in October.

The Edwin Papyrus now in NY is one of the first ancient descriptions of breast cancer, although the surgical treatise describes it rather than 'naming' it.

For a discussion and identification we have Hippocrates.

The term cancer comes from carcinos - that's Greek for the tumour looking like a crab.

Dear Baker and Spice ...

... Vaguely amused how many anonymous locals are praising you and smearing me ...

Remember: your staff started this, and you as a company are responsible for any libellous claims they make on your web pages.

Honestly, you might want to talk to a PR that understands that people forgive mistakes - they don't forgive lies and smears.

Obviously you're welcome to try to sue me, but you might have some minor issues that include I have witnesses and the facts on my side.

And no, I'm not a 'loyal customer' - I used to have coffee at Baker and Spice most days with a dying friend who couldn't walk any further ... But I prefer to go to any of the other cafes which provide croissants I prefer at far more reasonable prices.

So stop using Sock Puppets.


I Am Not Posting Leaks About Amphipolis

I don't know how many times I can say this.

I am not posting leaks about Amphipolis.

Michaelis Lefantzis has not leaked any information to me, and my only communication with him since early August was reporting someone at the site leaking information - which I did not post here. We have not communicated since.

I am not talking to any journalists about Amphipolis, so any who claim I am are not telling the truth.

If I wanted publicity I could easily do a spread in the Daily Mail about my own work, but I chose back in 2006 not to do publicity. I'm very happy to lead a quiet life, and have never had any TV offer or press offer that I thought was worth sacrificing that for.

I can see from coverage that there are leaks, and there is nothing I can do about it.

There's a lot of crap on the internet.

For example this story about me:

I don't sleep with married men, I don't have a child, I wasn't kidnapped ... well the whole post is complete and utter crap, and the wild imaginings of a paranoid schizophrenic who's also threatened to kill me.

There's one blog that argues I organised 9/11 as part of a Jewish conspiracy to invade Iraq and loot Baghdad Museum - I can't find the link.

Another web site says I'm part of a Catholic conspiracy to conceal the truth about Jesus.

The internet is crap.

Look, the short version is that I don't give a damn about what people think about me.

I do find it upsetting when people make false accusations against good people.

Michaelis Lefantzis has not leaked a single piece of information to me about Amphipolis.

I very much doubt that he has leaked any information about the site to anyone else, and people have stopped sending me leaks since I reported them.

Having said that, I can see from the press coverage and various other places that many of his ideas have been leaked elsewhere by other people on the excavation - I don't know by whom, and if I did I would happily report them.

Do I think the Ministry of Culture should release the information already presented at conferences? Yes, because this is a ridiculous situation where a lot of the information was put out there, and is now not available.

I was quite happy to discuss the excavations, making it clear that this is only my opinion, and that the archaeologists know what they are doing.

I am also quite clear that the accusations being made about Michaelis Lefantzis are political nonsense because of my book on the Parthenon Sculptures. Similarly Greece is the only country apart from Albania that has refused to provide Lootbusters with photographs of stolen archaeological material - although Albania refuses to admit anything is stolen, the Greek Ministry of Culture prefer to make political capital by playing 'gotcha' to embarrass dealers and collectors.

I have now removed all posts about Amphipolis.

I would rather do that than allow people to claim a good and decent man is behaving badly, and smear him because they don't like me.

I will not be blogging any more about Amphipolis.

I have to be honest, I had thought things had changed in Greece, but clearly they have not. The Ministry of Culture is as ridiculous as ever.