What a week for archaeology. 

There’s the heartbreaking news from Palmyra, of course. Despite the unfortunate title (why does it have to be either/or?), Julian Battini’s take in The Guardian is especially sensitive.


But there was some good news, too.

What do I say??? (image via Hurriyet Daily News)

One tantalizingly brief article describes a find that is very close to my heart (or at least my dissertation), a marble block from Laodicea inscribed in Greek with a Vespasianic water law. There’s some nice sleuthing from Tom Elliott and others over on the Inscriptiones forum, though the full text of the inscription hasn’t surfaced yet. Intriguingly, the translation in the Hurriyet article linked above mentions a municipal office that sounds a lot like that of the curatores aquarum back in Rome. As I’m currently working on the Flavian water supply of Rome, I’m personally dying to see what the original Greek text says.


Not one of the newly found ones. (via Wikimedia Commons)

Also fascinating is the recent discovery of a bunch of new Linear B texts in Laconia. Not being a Mycenaean scholar myself, all I have to say about this is that it’s cool.


Finally, this long article in the New Yorker by the delightful Elif Batuman is a must-read for anyone interested in Turkey, ancient shipwrecks, prehistoric human footprints preserved in the mud, and the ways in which archaeology can be strategically used — or strategically ignored — by politicians.

“In a hundred-thousand-square-metre area, you excavate twenty-five square metres, and then you find something! It’s unheard of! Well, then they explained it to me. Under the seabed, there’s a dark, hard, oily clay. Past that, there’s tar. Under that, what they found was some kind of cultivated topsoil. There were seeds planted in it.”

The dig continued. “They expanded the area, and this time they found graves, they found those footprints, they found a jug,” Tansev said. “They found plants and insects, they found every kind of thing. They dug and found, dug and found. In that way, three years passed.”

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