Category: Archaeology


I was hoping that gaming and stuff might provide some distractions and instead I ended up signing up for a free class at Coursera called “Archaeology’s Dirty Little Secrets.” It looks awesome.

I’ve always wanted to take classes in archaeology and never had the chance when I was in college. I’m looking forward to this class, even if I am starting about a week after the class officially started. I have some catch-up work to do.

Catalogs and categories of Epona artifacts

A friend of mine recently asked me if the categorization of Epona artifacts used on was original to Nantonos and I. The short answer is that, no, every author who has studied Epona artifacts has created their own categories. It’s like organizing a pantry: each cook has a different way of arranging cans so they make the most sense to that cook.

Nantonos did the majority of the analysis on the artifacts and the catalog we were creating. The categorization on was his design. The artifact catalogs of Reinach (1895-1903), Magnen and Thevenot (1953), Sterckx (1985), and Euskirchen (1993) all apply organize artifacts into different categories. Linduff (1979) also categorizes the artifacts, although she didn’t compile a catalog.

The usual divisions are side-saddle and subtypes, enthroned / imperial and subtypes, and then miscellaneous. I’m not sure if others subset the cart type or not. There are additional might be something in the catalogs, especially in Euskirchen. My German isn’t good enough to see a division for that at a quick glance, but Euskirchen does break the types down into the smallest details.

The cart type categorization might be specific to I’m not sure if the other catalogs use the cart type.

In addition to the above catalogs of artifacts, two English language sources by Linduff and Mackintosh contain other types of categorizations. In Chapter 4 of The Divine Rider in the art of the Western Roman Empire, Mackintosh has an excellent discussion of symbolism and what the difference in artistic types mean. Linduff explores the relationship between how the artifacts are crafted and the cultural context.

Euskirchen is hard to find. I had to go to the Library of Congress to photocopy the catalog. Sterckx is available on Amazon, although the book appears to be out of print.

Magnen and Thevenot as well as Reinach are usually available through interlibrary loan. Reinach is still one of the best resources and is available online.

Here are the citations:

  • Euskirchen, Marion. “Epona.” Bericht der Römisch-Germanischen Kommission Deutsches Archäologisches Institut., 74 (1993): 607-838. Print.
  • Linduff, K. “Epona: A Celt among the Romans.” Collection Latomus 38.4 (1979): 817-37. Print.
  • Mackintosh, M. (1995). The divine rider in the art of the Western Roman empire. Oxford, Tempus reparatum.
  • Magnen, René , and Emile Thevenot. Épona : Déesse Gauloise Des Chevaux Protectrice Des Cavaliers. Bordeaux: Delmas, 1953. Print.
  • Reinach, Salomon. Épona La Déesse Gauloise Des Chevaux. Paris,: Leroux, 1895. Print.
  • Sterckx, Claude. Eléments De Cosmogonie Celtique. Bruxelles, Belgique: Editions de l’Université de Bruxelles, 1986. Print.

ORBIS: Google Maps for Ancient Rome

The science fiction blog / news aggregate site io9 has an article today about ORBIS, a Google Maps for Ancient Rome. Want to know how long it would take to travel between Roma and Londinium and how much it might cost in denarii? ORBIS, developed by Standford University, can tell you all you want to know about travel planning in the Roman empire circa 200 AD.

ORBIS looks like great fun to play with. The subheading for ORBIS is “The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World.” I’d love to cross reference some of the artifact locations from with roads and see if there was any correlation.

The Eagle

I’m going with a friend of mine to see The Eagle, a new movie based upon Rosemary Sutcliff’s book The Eagle of the Ninth. The movie gets mixed reviews. The review site Rotten Tomatoes gives The Eagle 34%.

We’ll see how it is. None of the reviews are really good, and some of the reviews are really bad. I’m seeing it with a friend so we’ll both either like it or hate it.

What are the odds that they will get a period saddle correct? (The saddles should be a four-horned saddle of the type reconstructed by Peter Connolly.) Or maybe the riders will have the Spanish / baroque saddles seen in so many other swords and sandals films.

Mice of Pompeii

The plaster cast figures from Pompeii are pretty famous. The casts are made by pouring plaster into hollows left in the ash by an item that has decomposed (like bodies, wood, etc.). The resulting figures capture the expressions and last moments of the people who were killed by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79CE.

A snippet of a documentary shows the mice from Pompeii captured using the same plaster technique developed by Fiorelli:

On a side note, it’s interesting to read the recounting of the eruption in letters from Pliny the Elder to Tacitus.

Learn Latin Online

I found a link to an online Latin immersion course, Latinum. The course provides sample tracks along with some text for studying. Sounds interesting.

I started studying Latin last fall, but ended up setting it aside due to lack of time and server issues with the course. I learned a lot while I was in it. (Learning Latin using a French text was *hard*. Here’s to having friends who have taught Latin or studied it extensively!)

Why study Latin? Because it provides an insight into the cultures that spoke it. When I learned French in college and high school, the language provided better phrases (maybe more elegant phrases?) for expressing ideas and dreams than English did. English is great for technical discussions because of its precision. My French isn’t near what it was in college, but I still appreciate the phrases and just the way it sounds. Learning Latin could provide a similar insight into the intricacies of the culture. (Besides, it would be cool to go into a museum and be able to read the inscriptions on the artifacts not to mention reading the CIL.)

Archaeology stories from Digg

December 23rd edition

2000 year old Bronze Horse Head Found In Germany
Frankfurt Scientists say a Roman horse head made from bronze and plated in gold has been discovered at an archaeological site in Germany.

Domestic Horse Ridden Further Back in Time
People were riding horses much earlier than previously thought, new archaeological finds suggest.

Ancient seed sprouts plant from the past – Hurriyet Daily News
A 4,000-year-old lentil seed unearthed in an archeological excavation has successfully germinated after being planted.

Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?
Resolving the dispute over authorship of the ancient manuscripts could have far-reaching implications for Christianity and Judaism.

Maps of War

A Twitter post today mentioned the Maps of War, a site that has history maps with time lines showing the progression of different events overlaid on a map. Two of the maps caught my eye: Imperial History of the Middle East and the History of Religion. I’ve embedded both of them here.

While not much of the site deals with ancient history, the maps do provide an interesting point of view.

The Flash files will load after the jump.

Read More Maps of War

Archaeology article links

I often post links to archaeology articles I find online using Digg. Digg used to offer a way to automatically post links from their service directly to a WordPress blog. A few months back, this service went away mysteriously. The only option I found to replace it is an integrated sidebar widget that lists the articles I did.

Unfortunate, it means that those of you who subscribe because of some of the archaeological content I post are not seeing anything. The links are on my side bar, but I now have to manually include the links on my page.

I’ll try to get them posted here instead of just on the Digg feed.

Shrine to Jupiter found at Vindolanda

Found a link to the article below on Archaeological News. Amazing find! I’d love to be able to see it.

To my friend on the right side of the pond — if you get to visit the site, send me a picture? — ONE of the most important artefacts ever unearthed at the Vindolanda Roman site near Bardon Mill could also be the heaviest. The 1.5 tonne altar depicts Jupiter riding a bull and wielding an axe and thunderbolt. The inscription was dedicated by Sulpicius Pudens, prefect of the Fourth Cohort of Gauls.

Destroying an archaeological site to build a Sam’s Club

I was reading Archaeologica during lunch and discovered an article about an American Indian mound in Oxford, Alabama being used as fill dirt for a Sam’s Club. The council members don’t seem to care about the possible historical site being demolished. Instead they are doing “what is best” for the city.

Here are some articles about the destruction of this mound:

The Archeology Magazine blog article written by Heather Pringle has the best description of the archaeology of the site and of Mound Builders in general. Dan Whisenhunt’s article in The Aniston Star defines the funding and political background to the deal between the CDA and Taylor Corporation.

Do we really need another Sam’s or Wal-Mart so much that an archaeological site has to be destroyed for our shopping pleasure?

Remains Of Gallo-Roman Winery in Burgundy

Science Daily had an article on the remains of a Gallo-Roman winery found in Burgundy. My favourite region in France is Burgundy. I should post some of the pictures I have of the grapevine-covered hill sides. It’s amazing. It would have been The Place to do a wine tasting — if I wasn’t allergic to alcohol…

Gevrey-Chambertin, 12 km from Dijon, is famous throughout the world for its Burgundy wines. It is now possible to conclude that winegrowing in this region goes back to the Gallo-Roman era, as testified by the findings of excavations by the Institut National de Recherches Archéologiques Préventives , at the spot known as “Au dessus de Bergis.”

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