Welcome to your favourite collection of ancient oddities — where the plagues are firmly history 🙂
I won’t bother you with Stuff To Learn During Quarantine. I figured your social feed is chock full of that stuff anyway, and you would have seen it. Same with actual historical information about historical plagues, because, again, everyone’s suddenly remembering those.
Instead, allow me to entertain you with my usual eclectic collection of archaeological oddities, bite-sized titbits for those with an warm place in their hearts for antiquity.
These are roughly in chronological order.
As a warm up, let start with something really old. Want to see a dinosaur? As in, not just the fossilised skeleton? Nodosaur Dinosaur ‘Mummy’ Unveiled With Skin And Guts Intact! This is one of the most well-preserved specimens found to date, maintaining skin, guts, and the 3D shape of the beast.
Moving on to the Stone Age (no Flintstones, sorry; humans and dinosaurs did not coexist, despite what TV would like you to believe) — Scientists Discover Ice Age Structure Made From Bones Of 60 Mammoths. There is obvious speculation about the how and why (including the archaeologists’ classic fall-back of “ritual purposes”), but there’s no doubt that a lot of effort went in to hunt, butcher, and then pile up the bones in one place to form a building. Quite the imagination fuel, if ever you needed any.
Moving on to recorded history.
As the ages come and go, the boundary between Prehistory and History is the written word. So how about a fascinating (and highly amusing) lecture on Cuneiform? Irving Finkel is a curator in the British Museum, a leading Assyriologist, and an hilarious character all around. The two lectures I’d like to draw your attention to are on Cuneiform Writing and on why Noah’s Ark was Round. Finkel is known for discovering an ancient (pre-biblical) cuneiform tablet with a story of a great flood, and his adventures in deciphering it and rebuilding the prescribed vehicle are highly entertaining.
Speaking of Celebrities, my favourite archaeologist… Wait, what do you mean museum curators, archaeologists, and classicists are not celebrities? Which century do you think I live in?
Anyway, you’ve heard the word Armageddon, right? The end of the world? It’s a bad transliteration of the Hebrew ‘Har Megiddo‘, literally the Mount of Megiddo. So, yeah, I’ve had school trips to Armageddon, and that’s probably why I love history and am not fazed much by the current apocalypse.
Back to my favourite archaeologist (from last week’s book review), he was part of the team that uncovered 20 cities layered on the site! The article in Nature is nice and well balanced, and Cline’s book also talks about the history of the archaeology on the site.
I originally found this on the Express, which was much more sensationalist than informative. Hence the link above to Nature. The Express did lead me to an article on another discovery, again in Israel but to the south (Megiddo is to the north). This time a Canaanite temple yielded a pair of amazing “Smiting War Gods” bronze figurines. You can read a much more informative article on the Rare ‘smiting gods’ among artifacts found at 12th century BCE Canaanite temple. (There’s probably a lesson there about double checking facts and media sources 😉
Coming to our favourite Graeco-Roman period, you all should know my love on ancient magic and curses. Recently discovered 30 curse tablets found in Athenian well. (The original article was in Haaretz, but the first link is a bit more detailed).
In Victrix, naturally, feature some nefarious magics. I don’t want to tease you too much (yeah, right), but the working slogan is “The Fast and the Furies: a tale of Chariot Races and Womanly Mysteries!” It also includes the return of favourite (both most and least) characters, high-paced drama, and Felix learning a lesson 🙀 Watch this space for the upcoming cover announcement (I just got it, and it is GORGEOUS!)
Back to our review of ancient discoveries, I saved the best for last: When I say Felix is “dressed in a toga and armed with a dagger” — I mean almost exactly this: Archaeology Intern Unearths Spectacular, 2,000-Year-Old Roman Dagger. This is an absolutely stunningly restored specimen of a pugio, the traditional Roman legionary dagger.
Felix’s dagger, if you’ve read Murder In Absentia, has a slightly larger pommel and thicker handle, and is inscribed with some arcane markings. Because he’s special.
Anyway, that’s all for today. Go watch those videos by Finkel if you want to find out exactly how entertaining ancient history can be, or read the lengthier, thoughtful articles to get some peace and quiet from this mad world of ours. Perhaps speculate a bit about future archaeologists making sense of our 21st century.
And, of course, should you need good escapist entertainment, go read my novels. Not only is there a free novella to get you started, but the books have been consistently getting rave reviews. Read them now, so you’re all set for when the third instalment comes out later this year 🙂
Thanks for the links. One one, can’t resist noting that mammoth bones and tusks used a building materials are found quite a lot in east-central Europe – mostly on ridges above swampy areas. The speculation is that, like elephants, mammoths prefer softer swamp vegetation when they get old, and therefore tend to die and their remains pile up near swamps (hence the ‘elephant’s graveyard’ story). No hunting needed.
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Interesting – thanks! I didn’t know that the use of their bones as building material was well known.
Thanks for the hints into In Victrix, and I’m REALLY intrigued by those curse tablets!
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