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Monthly Digest - May 2023
In The Field…
Archaeologists in Spain have unearthed five life-size busts of human figures that could be the first-known human depictions of the Tartessos, a people who formed an ancient civilization that disappeared more than 2,500 years ago.
The carved stone faces, which archaeologists date to the fifth century B.C., were found hidden inside a sealed pit in an adobe temple at Casas del Turuñuelo, an ancient Tartessian site in southern Spain. The pieces were scattered amongst animal bones, mostly from horses, that likely came from a mass sacrifice, according to a translated statement published April 18.
You can read more at Live Science.
Researchers at Tel Aviv University and Ariel University Have Created an AI Program to Translate Akkadian Cuneiform
Reported by Arkeonews:
Israeli experts have created a program to translate an ancient language that is difficult to decipher, allowing automatic and accurate translation from cuneiform characters into English.
Researchers at Tel Aviv University (TAU) and Ariel University have developed an artificial intelligence model that can automatically translate Akkadian text written in cuneiform into English.
Experts in Assyriology have spent years studying cuneiform, one of the earliest known writing systems, in order to comprehend ancient Mesopotamian texts.
Two of the largest earthquakes in the history of the Eastern Mediterranean shook southern Turkey and north-western Syria in the early hours of Monday 6 February. The quakes had a magnitude of 7.8 and 7.6 on the Richter scale. The current death toll stands at more than 46,000, and several thousand missing are now presumed dead. On 20 February, the same region of Turkey was hit by another 6.4-magnitude earthquake and a second measuring 5.8.
The catastrophic events have devastated countless heritage structures, archaeological areas and religious sites, many still active places of worship, across an area so vast that it encompasses ten Turkish provinces and impacts more than 13 million people.
More at The Art Newspaper.
Reported by Live Science:
Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of a temple dating back around 2,700 years, to a time when a kingdom called Kush ruled over a vast area, including what is now Sudan, Egypt and parts of the Middle East.
The temple remains were found at a medieval citadel at Old Dongola, a site located between the third and fourth cataracts of the Nile River in modern-day Sudan.
Some of the temple's stone blocks were decorated with figures and hieroglyphic inscriptions. An analysis of the iconography and script suggest that they were part of a structure dating to the first half of the first millennium B.C.
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Quote Of The Month
It is annoying to be honest to no purpose. - Ovid
The Ancients: King Midas (Podcast)
The Ancients: Rise of the Assyrians (Podcast)
Ashmolean Museum (Oxford) - Coins at the Crossroads of Asia
The Institute for the Study of Ancient Culture (University of Chicago) - Artifacts Also Die
By Eckart Frahm
At its height in 660 BCE, the kingdom of Assyria stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf. It was the first empire the world had ever seen. Here, historian Eckart Frahm tells the epic story of Assyria and its formative role in global history. Assyria’s wide-ranging conquests have long been known from the Hebrew Bible and later Greek accounts. But nearly two centuries of research now permit a rich picture of the Assyrians and their empire beyond the battlefield: their vast libraries and monumental sculptures, their elaborate trade and information networks, and the crucial role played by royal women.
Although Assyria was crushed by rising powers in the late seventh century BCE, its legacy endured from the Babylonian and Persian empires to Rome and beyond. Assyria is a stunning and authoritative account of a civilization essential to understanding the ancient world and our own.
Alexander the Great, a Battle for Truth and Fiction: The Ancient Sources And Why They Can't Be Trusted
By David Grant
Most of what we ‘know’ about Alexander the Great (356-323 BC) comes from the pages of much later historians, writing 300 years or more after these events. But these Roman-era writers drew on the accounts of earlier authors who were contemporary with Alexander, some of whom took part in the momentous events they described. David Grant examines the fragments of these earlier eyewitness testimonies which are preserved as undercurrents in the later works. He traces their influence and monopoly of the ‘truth’ and spotlights their manipulation of events to reveal how the Wars of the Successors shaped the agendas of these writers. It becomes clear that Alexander’s courtiers were no-less ambitious than than their king and wanted to showcase their role in the epic conquest of the Persian Empire to enhance their credibility and legitimacy in their own quests for power. In particular, Grant reveals why reports of the dying king’s last wishes conflict, and he explains why testimony relegated to ‘romance’ may house credible grains of truth. The author also skillfully explains how manuscripts became further corrupted in their journey from the ancient world to the modern day. In summary, this work by a recognized expert on the period highlights why the legacy of Alexander is built on very shaky foundations.
Artifact Of The Month
This Roman-era marble relief dates to approximately the 2nd century CE and it depicts a wounded Greek warrior who collapses to the ground after being struck by a mortal blow from behind. This segment was part of a scene showcasing a battle between the Greeks and the Amazons.
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