Mosul Museum Looting and Updates

I cannot embed the video but IT IS HERE also:

@News_Executive, who shared the images in the previous post is one of the more reliable sources of news on Twitter - he was very useful when I was stuck in Paris trying to work out what was going on, for example - and alas his Nineveh aka Mosul Museum photos appear to be authentic.

For those worried about Damascus Museum, my information is that it is still mostly crated up in a location that is nobody's business but safe enough.

Jobar Synagogue is still a mess, but the amazing anti-Assad and also anti-ISIS guys there have managed to save some more material. I understand that a Sefardi "museum" in American is rumoured to be offering bounties for Syrian Judaica, but don't worry that will get 'dealt with' through the correct channels.

So ISIS = fundamentalists destroying cultural property. Some fanatics paying to smuggle Jewish cultural property. And I guess I'll have to do an update on the Hobby Lobby Christian Fundamentalist crowd "saving" stuff by buying loot and dissolving Ptolemaic mummies next. 

For those interested in looting etc, @sauterne is running an amazing course in Italy on the subject which can be taken in full or audited. Email her (or me, I can 'forward') for more info.

Very Sad Photos

I'm a little snowed under with "stuff" - it also feels as if I'm on a bit of a world tour in the coming month - but this sad news is worth sharing:


Today In 364: Jovian Died

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


And this is why ...

... you should follow Sophie Hay on Twitter!


Sad Truth, Meet Fiction ...

Antiquities forgery makes for not-so-divine comedy at Sundance festival - The Art Newspaper:

A self-anointed biblical archaeologist has dreams of acquiring works from the Holy Land to turn his mega-church into a spiritual destination, but the caper fails in the film parody “Don Verdean”, directed by Jared Hess, which premiered at the recently ended Sundance Film Festival in Park City Utah.


Today In 137 (possibly): Didius Julianus Born

... or Today on the 30th January 133 ...

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


The Blissful Joy of Bathing

Bathing. Aphrodite appreciated it as did Artemis. The Romans built public buildings to celebrate its pursuit and pleasure - and the countless laws and edicts regarding bathing show how seriously they took it (particularly the segregation of men and women!).

The Roman Bathhouse developed through the Byzantines into the Muslim Hammam ... something every Classicist should experience (although I recommend skipping the African Mikvah experience).

In Marrakech I highly recommend Les Bains de Marrakech who do a slightly adapted version visitors prefer - and ask for the Shiatsu Master who is not listed, but does a massage unlike any shiatsu I've ever had and is simply amazing. (I have not tried their new French outpost but their standards are high, and I stayed there when they were first experimenting with a riad).

Bathing does not have to be simply hygiene - do like the Romans did and make it a cultural experience with a good book or music ... even a movie playing on a laptop.  

 Hygieia was a goddess for good reasons!


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".

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 :-(