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Posts Tagged ‘ancient civilizations’

…until someone gets their head stuck in a 3,600-year-old Sumerian pot. From McSweeney’s Internet Tendency:

Beautiful piece. In excellent condition. One of only two complete pots from a pottery works at Larsa, dated to the reign of Rim-Sim I.

I honestly didn’t think my head would fit into it.

But it did, and now I can’t get it out. In addition to my extensive knowledge of the ancient Near East, I am blessed with a near-inexplicable touch-typing ability, so, if you will, picture me sitting at the computer with a pot on my head that dates from roughly the time when the Hittites invented iron-forged weapons. Or, to put it in more familiar terms, the pot on my head was about 400 years old when Troy was sacked.

It is of course priceless, which means I must extract my head without breaking it. Or, perhaps, my head should be cut off. But that would still leave the head-in-a-pot problem unresolved, wouldn’t it?

Welcome to Friday Funnies, Travel Dynamics International-style. Read the rest here. But don’t break your head trying to understand it.


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SCIENCE-US-BRITAIN-ROMAN-FINDIt’s called the “millefiori” (“a thousand flowers”) dish, and it’s “a miracle to have survived,” according to archaeologists in London.

Dating from the 2nd or 3rd century AD, and acquired by a citizen of the ancient Roman outpost of Londinium, it is made of hundreds of mosaic tiles shaped like petals, blue with white bordering. And nothing like it has ever been found intact in the Western Roman Empire.

The artifact was found 2.5 to 3 meters (yards) down at a sprawling ancient cemetery in Aldgate, east London, just beyond the old city walls. Romans were required by law to bury their dead outside the city gates.

It formed part of a cache of grave goods found close to a wooden container holding the ashes of a probably wealthy Roman citizen of Londinium.

Other artifacts recovered with the bowl included ceramic pottery and glass flasks which once contained perfumed oil used to anoint the body.

<Read more here>

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Now, as you survey the ruins of ancient Rome on our voyage from Rome to Athens, GoogleEarth has added the ultimate of historical modelings – an entire virtual representation of ancient Rome circa 320 A.D. More than 6,700 buildings are represented on this 3-D survey, through which you can zoom and pivot and fly through the Forum, the Colosseum, and other iconic sites. The effort also involved the contribution of Past Perfect Productions, which creates virtual reproductions of cultural heritage sites around the world.

If you’ve ever dreamed of being a time traveler, I highly recommend reading the BBC article, downloading Google Earth, and booking a cabin on one of our historically-oriented Mediterranean cruises.

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And it looked so innocent.

And it looked so innocent.

(ANSAmed) – BERLIN, AUGUST 21 – Troy was much bigger than what was believed until now, Ernst Pernicka, professor of Archeometry at the University of Tuebingen and in charge of the excavations under way in Turkey, affirms. While the scholars believed for long time that the legendary city spans on a surface of at most 27 hectares, in fact Troy was located on a surface of 35 hectares, Pernicka told the German media. The continuation of a defensive trench from the Bronze Age was recently discovered by the archaeologists and it allowed evaluating unequivocally the real expansion of Troy. (ANSAmed).

See the newly uncovered trench and affirm all your Brad Pitt-related fantasies on the Journey of Odysseus next autumn.

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By VESELIN TOSHKOV, Associated Press Writer

SOFIA, Bulgaria – Archaeologists have unearthed a 1,900-year-old well-preserved chariot at an ancient Thracian tomb in southeastern Bulgaria, the head of the excavation said Thursday.

Daniela Agre said her team found the four-wheel chariot during excavations near the village of Borisovo, around 180 miles east of the capital, Sofia.

“This is the first time that we have found a completely preserved chariot in Bulgaria,” said Agre, a senior archaeologist at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

She said previous excavations had only unearthed single parts of chariots — often because ancients sites had been looted.

At the funerary mound, the team also discovered table pottery, glass vessels and other gifts for the funeral of a wealthy Thracian aristocrat.

In a separate pit, they unearthed skeletons of two riding horses apparently sacrificed during the funeral of the nobleman, along with well preserved bronze and leather objects, some believed to horse harnesses.

The Culture Ministry confirmed the find and announced $3,900 in financial assistance for Agre’s excavation.

Agre said an additional amount of $7,800 will be allocated by the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences for an initial restoration and conservation of the chariot and the other Thracian finds.

The Thracians were an ancient people that inhabited the lands of present day Bulgaria and parts of modern Greece, Turkey, Macedonia and Romania between 4,000 B.C. and the 6th century, when they were assimilated by the invading Slavs.

Some 10,000 Thracian mounds — some of them covering monumental stone tombs — are scattered across Bulgaria.

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Now, lest you think that, as per the last post, TDI voyages are overly eggheady, we wish — with this post — to assure you this is decidedly not the case. We have blood pumping through our veins too.  And since we’re all mature adults here, we can let you in on a secret. We normally don’t publish this in the brochure, but as a special, optional extra available only on our Historic Cities of the Sea, Mediterranean Music FestivalJourney of Aeneas, and Journey of Odysseus voyages — as well as a devious little departure from your kids on board Voyage to the Lands of Gods and Heroes

we can take you to a brothel.

Don’t worry. This brothel’s been out of service for 1,928 years. After painstaking restorations, ancient Pompeii’s brothel was opened to tourists in 2006. Known as the Lupanare (after the Latin for she-wolf, which was ancient slang for a prostitute) it contains naughty frescoes much, much more salacious than
Lupanare

this one — which we will not show you, but we won’t mind terribly if you peruse them here. “It’s like a menu,” is what the tour guides like to say. But, according to Spiegel Online, these were highly idealized sexual images; the reality of prostitution in Pompeii was less erotic:

The windowless chambers where the prostitutes worked were separated from the anteroom only by curtains. Archaeologists discovered marks on the stone blocks that indicate customers didn’t even remove their sandals during sex… “In fact, this place where people went in search of pleasure was probably profoundly joyless.” That’s how an article in the German archaeology journal Abenteuer Archäologie sums up what scientists know about the brothel. “The cramped and uncomfortable chambers, stuffy and blackened by soot from candles, couldn’t have offered any very cultivated form of pleasure,” according to the article.

Pompeii’s prostitutes were mainly slaves of Greek or Oriental origin. But that’s only one reason why they were available so cheaply. Former slaves often continued to work in the sex trade. They hadn’t been trained in any other profession, and so they often had no real alternative. And not all women who worked as prostitutes were slaves. Customers had all sorts of women to choose from, and this may have helped to keep prices low.

However the London Times article notes that

There was even some evidence that Roman women frequented brothels for sex with male prostitutes.

It is lucky that we can see the more “adult” side of ancient Pompeii. The Times also notes that

Erotic objects found during the 18th and 19th-century excavations were considered so salacious they were kept in a “secret cabinet” at the National Archeological Museum in Naples, to which only those deemed to be of “mature age and respected morals” were admitted. The objects include a statuette of the god Pan copulating with a goat, and numerous phallic symbols, considered by the Romans to be good luck or fertility charms.

In other words, what TDI offers isn’t your grandfather’s Baedeker cruise.

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