Ethos, Interrupted is one year old!
I apologize for my lack of posts over the past several months. The only thing that matters is that I’m back!
Ethos, Interrupted is one year old!
I apologize for my lack of posts over the past several months. The only thing that matters is that I’m back!
The results have been extraordinary. Andrews and his team have found 2400-year-old spear throwing tools, a 1000 year-old ground squirrel snare, and bows and arrows dating back 850 years…”The implements are truly amazing. There are wooden arrows and dart shafts so fine you can’t believe someone sat down with a stone and made them.”
This has become a race against time. The ice continues to melt, and if artifacts are exposed and not removed from the ground within a few years they would be destroyed either by being trampled by caribou or dissolving in the acidic soils. Tom Andrews, who was the lead archaeologist on the International Polar Year Ice Patch Study, says this has now become and “ethical obligation to collect these artifacts as they are exposed.” I couldn’t agree with this statement more. It is an ethical duty to study those who came before us so that they might live on forever.
Prof. Gershon Galil of the University of Haifa has deciphered a Hebrew text found on a pottery shard discovered over a year ago in Khirbet Qeiyafa. The text dates back to the 10th century B.C. and is now the oldest known Hebrew inscription. How “sophisticated” ancient Israel was back in the 10th century around the time of King David is widely debated. This text proves that there was at least some level of government established that called for scribes to write about social issues.
Prof. Galil also notes that the inscription was discovered in a provincial town in Judea. He explains that if there were scribes in the periphery, it can be assumed that those inhabiting the central region and Jerusalem were even more proficient writers. “It can now be maintained that it was highly reasonable that during the 10th century BCE, during the reign of King David, there were scribes in Israel who were able to write literary texts and complex historiographies such as the books of Judges and Samuel.” He adds that the complexity of the text discovered in Khirbet Qeiyafa, along with the impressive fortifications revealed at the site, refute the claims denying the existence of the Kingdom of Israel at that time.
The contents of the text express social sensitivity to the fragile position of weaker members of society. The inscription testifies to the presence of strangers within the Israeli society as far back as this ancient period, and calls to provide support for these strangers. It appeals to care for the widows and orphans and that the king – who at that time had the responsibility of curbing social inequality – be involved. This inscription is similar in its content to biblical scriptures (Isaiah 1:17, Psalms 72:3, Exodus 23:3, and others), but it is clear that it is not copied from any biblical text.
People are always fighting over archaeological goods. How do we determine who owns these things? Nations, museums, and private collectors all make claims to goods derived from archaeological sites. Many times these entities are not from the country or culture which manufactured the goods. Not only are the goods removed from place of origin, but they are also bought and sold. How does anyone put a monetary value on history? If it were easy to determine a legitimate owner is it fair (or noble) to make them purchase the remains? Unfortunately, it is not always that easy to determine who owns artifacts.
The ownership of these artifacts have been debated for many years now. To summarize, the marbles were rescued from the severely damaged Parthenon by the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in the early 1800′s. At that time, Greece was part of the Ottoman Empire and it is alleged that the marble sculptures were allowed to be returned with the ambassador to England by the ruling Ottomans.
Both England and Greece have valid claims to the marbles. England has preserved a part of history that may have been damaged by neglect in Greece over the past 200 years, proof comes from the evidence of pollution damage on the remaining Parthenon fragments. Another good argument is that by having the objects on display in a no admission public museum that ordinary people of western Europe would have access to see the history of classical Greece without having to travel the long distance to Greece itself. There are definitely flaws in that argument, however, it is a wonderful thing that the British government is very supportive of free museums. Opposed to here in America where very few museums are free and even fewer are now because of the recession (the PA State Museum recently had to impose an entry fee due to cut in state funding).
The Greeks claim ownership to the marbles for a very obvious reason- they are Greek artifacts. The Greeks have been busy over the past several years working to preserve the Parthenon and surrounding Acropolis. A new Acropolis Museum has been built to house artifacts, and researchers gladly await the return of the Elgin Marbles. Of all projects I’ve heard of, this one tops them all. There is a very impressive restoration of the Parthenon being carried out. Watch PBS’s “Secrets of the Parthenon” to learn about this restoration. I’ve thought about this at length. All of the Elgin Marbles should be returned to Greece. In fact, many other countries who had marble sculptures from the Parthenon have since given them back. However, for the sake of historical education I think Greece should lend England some for the marbles to display to the British public.
Discovered by an amateur treasure hunter and his metal detector July 2009, this collection of over 1,500 pieces of Anglo-Saxon treasure was quite the exciting find. Here is a post that details exactly what was found. According to the official press release from http://www.staffordshirehoard.org.uk:
The Coroner for South Staffordshire, Andrew Haigh, is today (24th September 2009) holding an inquest on the find to decide whether it is treasure under the Treasure Act 1996. If it is declared treasure, the find becomes the property of the Crown, and museums will have the opportunity to acquire it after it has been valued by the Treasure Valuation Committee. The Committee’s remit is to value all treasure finds at their full market value and the finder and landowner will divide the reward between them. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent, and Staffordshire County Council wish to preserve the find for the West Midlands.
This is the first time I’ve come into contact with English archaeology laws. On November 25, 2009 the Treasure Valuation Committee valued the collection at £3.285 million pounds ($5.4 million). Apparently when England discovers a great treasure they immediately put it up for sale. According to this article, there are now a number of contenders to raise money for the treasure. Most notably, the Vatican who is said to have given the Anglo-Saxon King Edwin in the first place (I don’t think this is 100% been verified yet). Obviously, the Vatican won’t have any problem coming up with the money. The Art Fund has initiated a race to raise money to keep the treasure in England.
“If we cannot raise enough money to buy the hoard, the Vatican would certainly be interested in acquiring it I’m sure. But so would thousands of other people from around the world, and that is what we have to guard against. The worst thing that could happen would be to have the collection split up amongst private collectors.”
Again, I don’t know much about English archaeology laws, but I’ve read nothing in relation to this Anglo-Saxon treasure which remotely insinuates that anyone believes the laws are bogus. People are definitely putting up the fight to keep the treasure in England, but it seems that everyone accepts the fact that it must be purchased to do so. The finder and the land owner are splitting the money, but remember they aren’t selling it. It is English law to put a monetary value on all treasure and sell it to the lucky and wealthy collector. How do you even put a monetary value on history? It is hard for me to imagine. I think the treasure belongs to the English people and (without a sale) should be kept in England in a public museum.
The Staffordshire Hoard gained worldwide media attention when it went on display at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in September. Almost 65,000 people visited the artifacts, making it the most successful exhibit in the museum’s history.
Distinguishing who owns archaeological artifacts is not a simple process. These are only two examples of what goes on in archaeology today. I haven’t even touched upon the subject of collections of goods housed by private collectors and how it hurts public and academic education and research – I guess I did just add my 2 cents on that subject didn’t I?
This was a paper I wrote for a history of Western civilization class December 1, 2008. The discussion of the strained relationship between Muslims and Christians is just as valid today as it was 1,000 years ago.
The Build Up and Aftermath of the Crusades in the Christian and Muslim Worlds
The crusades were not only a series of wars, but a clash of cultures. The Christian west and Muslim east were just as different a thousand years ago as they are today. The first crusade occurred at a time when Islam was rapidly expanding and Christian Europe was experiencing economic growth. For both worlds the time was ripe for battle. Unlike most wars, the crusades lasted for several hundred years. This prolonged conflict left many lasting effects such as the large population of Muslims in the Balkans and the tensions between the two ideologies that is still present today. To truly understand the effects of the crusades it is important to compare the cultures of the Christian and Muslim worlds before and after.
This story starts with the Prophet Mohammad’s message; it was so inspiring that almost all of Arabia was converted to Islam within his lifetime. The Arabs of the east had a much different culture than the Christians of the west. Christianity had been established for over six hundred years by the time of Mohammad’s death in 632. Islam took off the ground running. Within a generation the close knit kinships of the Arabs became a powerful force rising to the call of conquest.
The earliest converts to Islam were viewed as the most faithful to the religion and were promised governing positions in new lands. The economy of Arabia was very fragile. Desert farming was unpredictable and frequent droughts made a very unstable food supply. Trade of luxury goods such as spices, incense, and perfumes were vital to ensure enough food was available for the livelihood of the region. Trade was dominated by the largest tribes, and it was often poorly distributed. Raiding was often necessary for survival. Amid the dry desert a violent and often brutal society arose. The seventh century successors of Mohammad urged Arabs to invade the Roman Empire, and they were more than happy to comply. The call for Islamic conquest created the opportunity for a new political elite to arise. It didn’t take much persuasion to attract and gain the support of the majority. Conquered peoples were taxed while Arab settlers paid no taxes and actually received salaries to live and work these new lands. Arabs who didn’t move to new lands were taxed; this paints a very clear picture that the Islamic conquests were supported by the Arab people. Massive armies of volunteers were not hard to construct.
The Muslims agreed that there would be no compromise for the complete conversion of pagans, by the sword if need be. Convert to Islam or die. Luckily for many Arab pagans, Islam was very attractive so many converted by choice and not force. It was more so during the conquests that people were forced to conform. It is interesting that the Muslims did make compromise for the “People of the Book,” Christians and Jews were seen as heretics of the Word, but nonetheless were not ostracized like the pagans. Submission held a core position in the faith. A good Muslim must submit to Islam-which literally translates to submission in Arabic. Islam is right, opinions that strayed from it were wrong. It is important to note that most people who heard about Islam converted willingly. Whether it was the message or the lower taxes for Muslim converts it is uncertain, but that really wasn’t the point when the goal was to create large Islamic states. A fully converted state meant true submission was achieved.
The religion of Islam set strict standards for Muslim treatment of each other. With no fighting allowed towards another Muslim, in addition to the religious fervor that was running rampant, it seemed almost natural for the violent society to lash outward. Conquests became the outlet for a fierce aggression that ran through the veins of every Arab man passed down from one generation to another. Within a hundred years Islamic forces marched all the way around North Africa conquering the Roman provinces of Carthage and Tangiers, they crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and conquered Spain, and almost pushed through Gaul all the way to Paris. Islam spread faster in one century than Christianity had in seven, and this was frightening. Continue Reading »
Fifteen years ago Jean Rouvier discovered a pile of fossilized bones and teeth in a basalt quarry in the Herault Valley in southern France. A subsequent dig by Jerome Ivorra, a researcher at France’s National Centre for Scientific Research, uncovered around 20 stone tools which bore traces of use.
The surprise came when argon dating showed the site went back 1.57 million years — substantially older than many other prehistoric sites — according to a paper published in the specialist journal, Comptes Rendus Palevol. It is older, for example, than the Spanish site at Atapuerca, which dates back a mere 1.2 to 1.1 million years. And as the paper pointed out, the existence of such man-made objects in Europe was extremely rare in this period. In comparison, the first such tools in East Africa date back to 2.5 million years ago, while human settlements in the Transcaucasia region date back to a 1.8 million years ago.
More digs at the site are scheduled for later this year. This is quite an exciting find.
Source: AFP France24.com
An article about the Bosnian pyramids appears in month’s issue of Smithsonian Magazine, this is the first time I’ve heard about this investigation, and it is incredibly exciting. Semir Osmanagic claims that there are several pyramids now hidden beneath hills about 15 miles northwest of Sarajevo that could be more than 12,000 years old. That is an extremely early date for monuments of the estimated size that these pyramids are. The official “Pyramid of the Sun” website posts up to date news and photographs of the archaeological site. A large scale investigation is set for this summer dig season and volunteers have been requested. Another website worth checking out is www.bosnianpyramid.com which has also posted reports done by specialist who have analyzed geographical and satellite imagery of the terrain.
At this point in time I have no opinion of whether there are truly pyramids in Bosnia, I haven’t seen all the evidence and will wait until the results from the large scale dig next summer to make a judgment. Many archaeologists simply refuse to believe there are massive 12,000 year old pyramids in Europe. Although it is not entirely impossible, we cannot get too excited about this discovery just yet (but it is exciting isn’t it?). It is possible that the hills are just naturally shaped like pyramids, but there are a growing number of people who are starting to think otherwise.
ABC News clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzDY0EBvCbU