They look like scraps of paper covered with lines of ornate faded script and mounted between sheets of glass. But to Matt Malczycki, they're a time machine offering glimpses into the commerce of medieval Egypt.
Malczycki, a Ph.D. student in history at the University of Utah, has been translating and analyzing the 777 documents and fragments of the Utah Papyri Collection, believed to be the largest collection of Arabic papyri in North America. And he has found that 1,000 years ago, Egyptian businessmen were sophisticated, polite and literate.
This seems like a great (if rather tedious) project. There are no doubt thousands of pages of papyrus sitting around in private (and public) collections that have yet to be translated. It also highlights the fact that the vast majority of surviving written records have to do with generally run-of-the-mill daily business transactions rather than flowery poetry or epic tales of kings and generals.
Truly mind-boggling Archaeologists discover witch burial in Crimea
An astonishing find will keep Russian archaeologists occupied for quite some time. Archaeological expedition from the Russian Ust-Alminsk region has made yet another sensational discovery.
In 2003, the same team of researchers unearthed an unlooted burial of a Sarmat girl in a lavish funeral gown; the burial also contained rings, earrings, necklaces and a variety of various golden medals, which had once been attached to clothes.
Artist's conception of what the witch may have looked like:
Various Viking items Viking Surprises
It's been the season for Vikings, with a replica of a warship originally crafted in Dublin setting sail in Denmark and some important discoveries in the British Isles.
Danish researchers at the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde have spent four years replicating a 90-foot-long ocean-going warship based on the museum's Skuldelev 2 shipwreck.
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Archaeologists at Ireland's National Museum have announced the "significant" and "exciting" discovery of a ninth-century Viking burial north of Dublin.
Biblical archaeology update The cave of Lot's seduction and the monastery it inspired
The ruins were first discovered during an archaeological survey at the south-east end of the Dead Sea in 1986, near a spring named Ain Abata. After further investigations it was evident that the site - near today's Ghor al-Safi, the biblical city of Zoara - was none other that the Sanctuary of Agios ("Saint") Lot. Biblical scholars and archaeologists have sought the site for decades.
Within a year of the discovery and identification of Deir Ain Abata ("Monastery of the Abbot's Spring") an international team of archaeologists was assembled to excavate and study the site. After more than 10 years of excavations and research, the final report is about to be published.
Story on Iraq not involving looting Field Museum 'reuniting' scattered collections from ancient Iraq site
With the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the museum recently began to study, catalog and reconcile the scattered but priceless collections of materials from the famous 5,000-year-old archaeological site of Kish, 50 miles south of Baghdad. Kish is one of the world's oldest cities and site of the earliest evidence of wheeled transport.
About time. Again, there are literally millions of items sitting in museum basements around the world that no one is seeing or studying. This is a good start at getting some of this material out to the public and the research community.
That's it for now. There's more, but we have pressing research concerns.