Friday, September 5, 2014

Science Links - 9/5/14 - Archeology [updated 9/6]

Update: Buried Treasure: 1,900-Year-Old Roman Jewelry Unearthed

Who doesn't love a buried treasure story?
A small pit filled with ancient Roman jewelry that dates back nearly 2,000 years to a violent riot that occurred around A.D. 61 was unearthed beneath a London-area department store, according to a British archaeology organization. 
An archaeologist with the Colchester Archaeological Trust, a registered charity devoted to promoting archaeology in the area, discovered the buried treasure during an excavation beneath the Williams & Griffin department store in the town center.
Although, the context of this one makes it a sad story. It was not merely a "violent riot" but full rebellion against the Roman government resulting in the burning of three towns.
qThe haul includes three gold armlets, two silver bracelets, a silver chain necklace, a small bag of coins, a "substantial" silver armlet and a small jewelry box with four gold rings and two sets of gold earrings. 
Article: Mosaic Floor Revealed at Alexander the Great-Era Tomb

Largest tomb of this period ever found in Greece. Absolutely no mention of any speculation about whose tomb. An omission I find fascinating, especially since no one knows where Alexander the Great is buried.

Mosaic flooring, red and black paint on the walls, statues of sphinxes, blue frescos.

Details to follow.

Article: 'Last Supper' Papyrus May Be One of Oldest Christian Charms

The papyrus is from Egypt, but written in Greek.

A researcher realized that a 1500-year-old piece of papyrus, previously known showed signs of being folded. The papyrus has writing that paraphrases part of Psalm 78 and the Last Supper. He hypothesized that it was folded in order to place into an amulet and worn as a magical protection for a Christian.

I would be more accepting of this as a charm and as a belief in some sort of Christianized pagan magic if they didn't claim that wearing a cross today is also Christian magic, and worn as protection. I think some ignorant intellectual has watched too many vampire movies and not read enough about basic Christian beliefs.
"To this day, Christians use passages from the Bible as protective charms so our amulet marks the start of an important trend in Christianity."
The actual quote:
"Fear you all who rule over the earth.
Know you nations and peoples that Christ is our God.
For he spoke and they came to being, he commanded and they were created; he put everything under our feet and delivered us from the wish of our enemies.
Our God prepared a sacred table in the desert for the people and gave manna of the new covenant to eat, the Lord's immortal body and the blood of Christ poured for us in remission of sins."
The discovery, which Mazza presented this week at an international conference on papyri at the university's research institute, reveals that Christians adopted an ancient Egyptian practice of wearing such charms to ward off danger.
"This practice is not very far from nowadays use to wear necklaces with the cross or images of Jesus, Mary, or the saints, for protection," Mazza said. "In many Catholic churches nowadays believers are given holy pictures of the saints with a prayer on the back that you can bring along again for protection."
Article: Ancient metal workers were not slaves but highly regarded craftsmen

Previous site interpretation: harsh conditions, high and thick wall surrounding the mine and refinery, fiery furnaces. It must about slaves!
Copper production is a complex operation requiring many levels of expertise. Ancient mine workers at Timna may have indeed been slaves or prisoners, because theirs was a simple task performed under severe conditions. However, the act of smelting, turning stone into metal, required an enormous amount of skill and leadership. 
The craftsmen ate meat and fish (a rarity). Copper was hard to refine (for the time) and very valuable (this is the height of the Copper Age, when most weapons were fashioned from copper).

The thick walls are now reinterpreted to being defensive in use: protecting the valuable craftsmen, their refinery and their refined copper.

The bias towards believing that it was all about slavery is interesting and says something about those archeologists that did the original work.

The author does not include who the people were.

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