Tuesday, November 23, 2004

ArchaeoBlog film corner That's right, film corner. Alexander to be exact. We'll not bore you with an actual review of the film, since we haven't seen it and probably won't until it comes out on DVD or HBO and maybe not even then. But we thought we would deal with the issue of Alex's sexuality head-on in a decisive and scholarly manner. . . . .and simply link to a quote we found uproariously funny: Richard Roeper:

A group of Greek lawyers has threatened to file a lawsuit against Warner Bros. and Oliver Stone "for suggesting Alexander the Great was bisexual," as the National Post put it.

Some two dozens Athens-based attorneys are demanding that Warner Bros. issue a disclaimer saying "Alexander" is fiction.

Having seen the film, I can categorically state that Stone does not in any way suggest Alexander was bisexual.

He suggests Alexander was absolutely, fabulously gay.

Hat tip to Ann Althouse.

Now, off to investigate the historical and cultural accuracy of this "nude and revved-up Rosario Dawson". . . . .

Genuinely interesting Canadian dig unearths Sinai desert fortress

A Canadian archeological expedition in Egypt has uncovered the remains of a 4,200-year-old fortress near the Red Sea coast in the Sinai Desert, a discovery that sheds some light on life at the time when the Great Pyramids were built.

Details of the discovery will be published soon in the Bulletin of the American School of Oriental Research, and archeologists say it offers important clues on what was going on during the last years of the period in Egypt called the Old Kingdom (2700-2200 BC).

The team first learned of the site two years ago -- and returned this past summer -- while mapping archeological sites in the Sinai Desert. Led by a brief report of ruins in the area of Ras Budran and information from local Bedouin, they went south along the Red Sea coast to the remains of the fort.

Especially so because it's Old Kingdom.

Easter island, fools' paradise

The great mystery of Easter Island that struck all early visitors was not just that these colossal statues stood in such a tiny and remote corner of the world, but that the stones seemed to have been put there without tackle, as if set down from the sky. The Spaniard who attributed the marvels of Inca architecture to the Devil was merely unable to recognize another culture’s achievements. But even scientific observers could not, at first, account for
the megaliths of Easter Island. The figures stood there mockingly, defying common sense.

We now know the answer to the riddle, and it is a chilling one.

The article suggests (okay, it says so outright) that the inhabitants denuded the island and brought about their own destruction. We seem to recall reading about some recent work indicating it may have been more of a climatic disaster perhaps exacerbated by human activities. We'll do more research.

The ancients: now available in colour

For hundreds of years, Caligula's handsome, marble face has stared out at a fascinated world. Now situated at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek museum in Copenhagen, the celebrated first-century bust of this cruel young Roman emperor is made repellent, yet intriguing, not so much by his petulantly downturned mouth as by the blank, staring eyes chiselled from marble by an unknown sculptor.

It comes as a shock to be confronted with an exact replica with unthreatening hazel eyes. Add garish pink skin and glossy brown hair, and the new painted version of Caligula's bust looks as if it might once have been used to model hats in thewindow of a men's outfitters. Yet, according to the curators of a new exhibition at the Vatican museums, this is a lot closer to what the sculptor intended we see than the white marble to which we are accustomed.

CSI: Rodel, on south Harris

Moors murders scientist traces buried medieval village

A LOST medieval village has been discovered by a scientist who led a search for Moors Murder victims.
Professor John Hunter and a team of 15 have discovered what is believed to be a buried medieval crofting settlement while carrying out general field survey work in and around a harbour village in the Western Isles.
Artefacts buried under the clachan of Rodel, on south Harris, may provide evidence that the community was once an international trading centre, with vessels arriving from Scandinavia and also the Mediterranean.
It is not yet known what remains could be found if further investigation is carried out.

This seems to be making headlines Evidence of 16th-Century Spanish Fort in Appalachia?

A long-standing theory says that more than four centuries ago Spanish explorers ventured into the foothills of what is now North Carolina. They stayed long enough to possibly change the course of European settlement in the New World, then vanished into the fog of time, the story says.

Until recently historians regarded a 16th-century Spanish presence this far north in North America as more theory than fact. But archaeologists working in a farm field near the tiny community of Worry Crossroads might change that perception.

Combining detective work with old-fashioned digging, the team may have unearthed ruins and artifcats—evidence that Spanish soldiers did, indeed, roam the Appalachian Mountains. The researchers think they've found the site of Fort San Juan, where Spanish explorers reportedly stayed from 1566 to 1568. The outpost was near the American Indian village of Joara, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of present-day Asheville.

Actually interesting from a number of perspectives, not the least of which is the Spanish's role in depopulation due to disease. Read the whole thing.

Divers find ancient homes

International divers have discovered several cave sites along the Cape Peninsula coast where ancient lost civilisations might have lived.

The team embarked on their search earlier this month after Dr Bruno Werz, a marine archaeologist, found a prehistoric axe, that could be 1.5m years old, in Table Bay nine years ago.

Werz said in Simon's Town on Friday there were indications that more remnants of prehistoric civilisations could be found under the water.

The text quoted is somewhat misleading in that it calls these the remains of "civilizations". In fact, they appear to be fairly typical cave sites of hunter-gatherers from 45k years ago.

And finally. . . State plans to beef up security at Range Creek

The state of Utah is beefing up security at the remote eastern Utah canyon of Range Creek to protect an estimated 2,000 to 5,000 archaeological sites kept secret until last summer.
Archaeologists estimate as many as 250 households occupied the canyon over a span of centuries ending about 750 years ago. They left half-buried stone-and-mortar houses, cob houses and granary caches, and painted colorful trapezoidal figures with spiky hair styles on canyon walls.
Researchers had quietly conducted surveys at the site for three years, but the significance of the finds was hidden until news reports surfaced in June about the transfer of the land from a rancher to the state.
Because the publicity causes a greater risk of looting, the state has allocated $152,000 to secure the site through the end of the fiscal year 2005.
A combination of rangers and conservation officers will provide security for the site, and Division of Wildlife Resources employees will include it in some of their aerial flyovers.

That's the whole thing. This is the area where a rancher had kept quiet about numerous sites that appear to be in fairly pristine condition, thus keeping numerous graduate students in dissertation topics for probably the next hundred years.