Hotel Fellah, (a world away from) Marrakech

Need something for the week-end? May I recommend the Fellah

Feeling a bit blue and in need of R'n'R? Dr Dorothy* recommends the Fellah and feels more relaxed after 12 days here than 12 months of therapy ...

Want to chill / celebrate / enjoy a little culture? Yup, like champagne the Fellah fits all those needs too!

I've been coming to Marrakech forever, and yes it has become far too touristy for me, but I make an exception for the amazing Hotel Fellah which is only 20+ minutes' drive from the city, but towards the Atlas Mountains and feels like a world away. Countless places have claimed "X is the New Marrakech" but the Fellah is far better as, well ...
to me "Fellah is the Old Marrakech".

You really don't need to pack much - today's outfit is a Nili Lotan caftan and a Hoola bikini with two bottoms (for tan lines ...) - although pack jumpers for the evening as it gets chilly then ... 

Okay, here's the deal. I stay here often and I really love the Fellah Hotel. It's the only place I know that manages to actually do all that culture and sustainable stuff, by helping the local village both through employment and through education as well as providing an amazing hotel experience for guests and having the Dar al Mamun library and cultural foundation with visiting artists, scholars and musicians.

Quick disclaimer, the Fellah Hotel did not sponsor this post, although they (as always) very kindly upgraded my room as a bigger one was available - I've seen them do the same for others, BTW too. So this was my suite's bath last time, and this time I have a similar one + the villa I'm in has a private pool.

At the moment it is sunny and you need sunblock, but even when it was more over-cast in December the place was still fun, with amazing views of the light changing over the Atlas Mountains as the sun set. There are cacti everywhere, and an old taxi and contemporary art which along with the more modern architecture make it feel like Prada Marfa meets a "club Med" for culture vultures ... people can ignore everything and chill or take boxing lessons with the charming Freddy or listen to the Senegalese musician on the Kora by the pool or learn to cook a tagine or chat with the fascinating artists working here or ... oh just doze on your terrace as I've been doing today.

I'm not going to put 1001 photos in this post as the Fellah's web site actually genuinely does reflect what this place is like: www.fellah-hotel.com

I know Small Luxury Hotels and Mr & Mrs Smith both often do deals if you book through them, or contact the hotel directly here ... the place is very quiet at the moment, and the perfect place to escape inclement weather and get a little R'n'R in the gentle sun.

One reason I'm plugging this place (unusually) before I leave is because the hotel sustains the village and foundation, neither of which can survive without the hotel's income. So if you do come, please do think of bringing books to leave as a gift for the library. If you're feeling generous, please do consider bringing some old clothes, particularly warm ones and particularly childrens' sizes, and donating them as ... well, it gets cold here, and they would be put to very good use.

NB - obviously Morocco is super-safe or I would not recommend it.


Alas this man is not at the Fellah .... but the creator of these amazing Shield Bags, Louise Leconte happens to be the artistic director here. And she's worked with Lady Gaga, so ... extra bonus points for cool factors etc and seriously, even I'm on the waiting list for the next batch of shield clutch bags, that's how amazing they are.

Louise Leconte Shield Bags

* please not that whilst I can legally call myself a Medical Doctor in the UK, I am not a Registered Medical Practitioner and this is not actual medical advice!

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis' Views

You want to know what they are? Well he's just released this free Kindle book explaining them (you don't need to have an actual Kindle device to read it; download the software to phone or computer and ... etc). Honestly was talking last night with someone about how Kindle can revolutionise the spread of knowledge, and this idea is bloody genius! Wish more politicians followed Yanis Varoufakis' lead in making their views available to all.

Europe after the Minotaur: Greece and the Future of the Global Economy by Yanis Varoufakis

On Amazon US Kindle too ...


Amphipolis ...

... look, I had literally refused to go on TV for well over five years as I don't want the "fame" and I only went on Greek TV as I was tired of people who had never been to the site at Amphipolis (Palagia, Chugg) talking crap; I wanted to defend the work of the amazing team who actually are working at Amphipolis.

I also should admit that whilst a book about Amphipolis would be lovely in the long term, I also had never planned to 'rush' to publish one before the archaeologists. I knew a book by me on the market would blow out others' attempts to get advances for a book, and that was my main plan. Also, if a book of mine one day is published and makes money, obviously I would split the profits with the guys there as they did the hard work.

I am happy to try to explain the archaeologists' finds, and try to theorise about them but ... I am currently taking a break as I was close to the CharlieHebdo office and the doctor told me I need to go for a rest. I have had absolutely no news or contact about the excavation finds from the team since the news broke in August - no-one is leaking to me as I gave the few (minor) people who tried hell. Theorise away, just be aware that we are just theorising and discussing possibilities!

Normally excavations are complicated, but the public and press only see the end results. Amphipolis may look a "mess" because unusually here people are seeing the excavation as it goes along. This is normal! As is changing theories as new evidence comes to light ... whoever this turns out to be, it is already the most important find of the century.

Michaelis Lefantzis has been there from the start, he was the one who went looking for bits of the Lion and thus in turn found even more amazing discoveries. Lefantzis is one of the most talented archaeologists (in Greece it's "architect" but in the UK & US we include that within "archaeologists") that I am aware of, not just in Greece but the world. He's the hero of Amphipolis, and the idiots claiming other crap are just that - idiots. Greece voted for change, so let's give Amphipolis a chance to change too.

Today In 98: Trajan Became Emperor

He's one of the few to successfully invade Iraq, although his heir found it harder to consolidate the conquest and withdrew.

Trajan's ashes were put in the base of his Column in Rome. Mondadori have created a very good (and free) App about Trajan's Column in English and in Italian.

Augustus claimed to have found a city of brick and left one of marble. Trajan was equally naughty with when it came to claiming edifices ...

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

Update: The Continuing Saga of the AIA-St. Louis Society

Beth Ann Judas, MA, Phd

The final decision of the AIA Council was that the AIA-St. Louis (AIA-STL) board must resign, in its entirety, by February 1, 2015 or the AIA would revoke their charter. January 13, 2015 saw another moment in the continuing saga of the AIA-St. Louis Society.  The Society called an emergency meeting to discuss the decision by the AIA Council during the 2015 Annual Meetings in New Orleans.

According to Douglas Boin (@douglasboin), who was present at the meeting, the members of AIA-STL discussed the situation and then voted to retain their board. The vote was 30 for the board, 27 against the board, and 4 abstentions, which suggests that many Society members felt strongly that the board did not act incorrectly (and the close numbers also demonstrate possible conflict concerning this issue).  Although members demonstrated support for their board, with that one act, they condemned their society.

But there was a sudden twist in the story. On Sunday night, January 25, the St. Louis officers and board of directors decided to resign in order to allow AIA-STL to continue its association with the national organization. Prior to their resignation, the officers and board picked their replacement interim officers and board.  Presumably, this will allow their members to decide who wants to participate in an election of officers.  The resignation was effective as of January 26, 2015.

Meanwhile, AIA memebrs and archaeological communities wait to see what will officially happen on February 1. The assumption at this point is that the AIA will allow AIA-St. Louis to continue as an affiliated socity since they have met the requirements set forth by the AIA Council at the 2015 Annual Meetings.

I have to admit this update has been a little harder to write, which is why I haven't posted this as quickly as I thought I would (plus, every time I think that I am ready to post it, some new information appears).  Aside from my confusion as to why the society members wanted to vote themselves out of existence, I can only assume that the vote against removing the officers was a result of the members believing-very strongly-in their board's decisions.  Was there also a bit of hoping to call the AIA's bluff? Perhaps... But that is all moot now, as the officers and board of directors resigned, and now we wait to hear from the AIA itself.

Meanwhile, over the past several months, I've had various conversations concerning this issue with friends who are not archaeologists and who know nothing about archaeology (except whatever interactions they have with it as a result of being my friend).  And the conversations, while positive, in-depth ones, seem to be exercises of how do (should?) archaeologists communicate complex issues such as this with the general public, especially one such as this, which is not as clear cut as one would think.  The sale was legal, but question of ethics in regards to an archaeological society and what roles and responsibilities it has as a public face of archaeology remains. It's easy to have in-depth discussions between friends and acquaintances over dinner or drinks, but that's not a feasible answer for reaching out to the rest of the public. Ultimately, the hard and terrible question remains, how do we communicate archaeological issues and ideals in a manner that makes sense to lay people?

*Announcement of Officers and Board Resignation on the Facebook page of  "St. Louis Archaeological Institute of America" (January 26, 2015)

*An Announcement concerning the AIA St. Louis Society (January 21, 2015)
The AIA announces that the St. Louis Society's charter will be revoked if the 100% of the current St. Louis Society board members resigned by February 1, 2015.  The announcement recognized the the decision of the St. Louis Society to not remove their board members from their positions on January 13, 2015.

*All of the statements made by the AIA re the AIA St. Louis Society gathered into one page on the AIA website.

*Changes to the (national) AIA Regulations
These updates were voted upon at the January 10, 2015 AIA Council meeting


Don't Forget to Get a PAP Smear Test ...

... it's not as embarrassing as cancer would be, and early detection makes cancer prevention more likely. Oh, and if you're in the UK go to an NHS Genito-Urinary Clinic as they know what they're doing and are so good at performing smear tests you *almost* won't notice.*

And apologies for not posting a "selfie" like everyone else in every other awareness campaign to "promote" it. I do actually have a 'selfie' of my cervix the gynecologist took, and ... oh anyway, I thought it was too early in the morning for readers to post that ;-)

* - okay technically that's a little lie. Any woman would notice someone sticking something in her ... but the GU nurses make it painless.


PTSD in 1300BCE account of 'ghosts faced in battle'

Post-traumatic stress discovered in 1300BCE with accounts of 'ghosts faced in battle':
Professor Jamie Hacker Hughes, a former consultant clinical psychologist for the Ministry of Defence, believes the first description of PTSD was accredited to Herodotus. The Greek historian describes what happened to a warrior called Epizelus during the battle of Marathon in 490BCE.

He "was in the thick of the fray, and behaving himself as a brave man should, when suddenly he was stricken with blindness, without blow of sword or dart; and this blindness continued thenceforth during the whole of his after life".

the timing of an old post being cited in this is slightly ironic as have it a bit again post Paris :-(

Today In 76: Hadrian Born

Hadrian built a fabulous villa at Tivoli, which has been reconstructed in 3-D by some brilliant scholars:

If you want to explore Hadrian's travels, there's a game for that: Hadrian: The Roamin' Emperor - OpenLearn - Open University

Today In AD 41: Caligula Died

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


Painted XLII Marks the Colosseum

Pretty exciting discovery from the team working on the Colosseum:

Colosseo, sulle arcate riaffiorano bagliori di rosso, la direttrice Rea "Quei numeri colorati, scoperta eccezionale" - Repubblica.it

They were cleaning the monument and this revealed traces of color; red paint was used to mark the numbers above the arches, indicating different sectors of the arena. They seem to believe that different colours were used to indicated different sections used by different classes.

Loebs and Ancient Sources ...

I've been sharing some of my DropBox folders on Twitter, and this is worth sharing more widely: ancient sources quoted by some books are a bit more interpretation than literal quotation, so it is worth going to the original text, eg the Loeb bilingual editions.

My file is here - https://www.dropbox.com/sh/popbs2wt0vmvgy4/AAAMPpgsFG3oMy4t1f7-mTt3a?dl=0 - and at the moment is just a mirror of Ryan Baumann's Loebulus, which is in turn based on Edwin Donnelly's “Downloebables” .... I'm slowly adding more as I clear out and back up various hardrives.


A Beautiful Sculpture from the Ancient Greek Diaspora

Nice reminder of how beautiful the (now all too rare) Archaic architectural sculpture was. This was found at Apollonia Pontica, a Greek colony off Bulgaria. An inscription links the 6th century BC temple to Apollo himself, the eponymous protector of the city:
Archaeologists Investigate Ancient Greek Temenos on Black Sea Island | Popular Archaeology

Today In 225: Gordian III Born

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

Today in 1961: Senator Kennedy Became President

... and Mrs Kennedy moved into the White House, which she re-decorated.