Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Destruction of Mesopotamia

An informative if depressing article on the destruction of Iraq's past along with its present and future. The best way to see archaeological looting is via satellite, since the country is too dangerous to travel, and the experts are being driven out as part of the civil war.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

WWI Subterranean Ruins Uncovered in Belgium

Underground c0mplex, the Vampire dugout, filled with material culture and artifacts from a permanent battlefield settlement of the Western Front.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Jesus Tomb Part Almost the Last: New Epigraphic Claim and Boredom

This will probably be my next to last post on the topic of the Jesus tomb. An epigrapher has published an article saying the "Mary Magdalene" ossuary is no such thing, and that the inscription has been misread when in reality it isn't one inscription at all. This re-analysis suggests there are two female names on the box written at different times, the result of the box being a multiple burial. This would sink the whole argument if correct. Of course the director of the documentary notes an epigrapher did the original work and reading.

I can't comment on that, I'm not a Near Eastern archaeologist or epigrapher or linguist. I'm going to finally get around to watching the documentary next week. I had my Introduction to Archaeology students watch and report on it for extra credit. Anyway, my experience in epigraphy is with Maya epigraphy, which is a much younger field of study, and one still in development. So I can't apply the tendency for shifting readings in Maya epigraphy on to this case.

I'm somewhat surprised by the reaction to the Jesus tomb. I thought this would have caught more fire, ala The DaVinci Code. But there has been roundly rejected in the media and from what I can tell in much of the blogosphere. I don't think millions of people have all of a sudden developed a love of authoritative academics squelching extraordinary claims, or have become much more critical thinkers than usual. I think the answer proposed by documentary and book were just not popular. Doesn't mean those findings are correct, there are plenty of good reasons to think they aren't.

But I will note that for the first time, I've seen the people behind this documentary resort to one of the common themes of Spooky Paradigm research, the notion of democratizing science, taking power from the hands of the scientific establishment that ignores anomalies it doesn't like. From the article linked above.


Jacobovici attributes most of the criticism to scholars' discomfort with journalists "casting light into their ossuary monopoly."

"What we're doing is democratizing this knowledge, and this is driving some people crazy," he said.[/quote]

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Jesus Tomb Part 2: Serious Critique

This piece from the Washington Post includes the first criticism of the "Jesus Tomb" claims that seem sound, to me. Not just doubting the statistics, but cultural and historical considerations which suggest there may be problems. Still nothing that blows it apart, in my opinion, but worth reading