Saturday, February 23, 2008
Friday, February 22, 2008
Columbia Museum of Art
Columbia, South Carolina
January 24–June 8, 2008
Legendary English archaeologist Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie (1853–1942) spent most of his life excavating ancient Egyptian sites. His monumental work at Giza, Abydos and Amarna— during which he developed new scientific approaches for establishing chronology— established him as “the father of Egyptology.”
This exhibit, on loan from the English museum that bears his name, displays over 200 of the most significant finds from Petrie’s 50-year career in Egypt. Some of his most important work occurred at Amarna, home to Akhenaten, the monotheistic pharaoh and father of the boy-king Tutankhamun. The exhibit brings to life the science of archaeology during its infancy as seen through the eyes of one of its greatest pioneers. This remarkable collection includes royal accoutrement, mummy portraits, furniture and jewelry, objects of everyday life—including one of the world’s oldest extant dresses— and fascinating illustrations of the technology of the ancient Egyptians.
Herschel Shenks, the editor, isn't afraid of controvery :) I get a chuckle every month reading the "Letters to the Editor" where irate people write in saying they are cancelling their subscriptions because BAR has published some article or other!
Don't let the name of the magazine fool you - it's not a bible-thumping support vehicle.
Check out this article:
A Temple Built for Two
Did Yahweh Share a Throne with His Consort Asherah?
By William G. Dever
The small house shrine published here for the first time provides significant support for the contention that the Israelite God, Yahweh, did indeed have a consort. At least this was true in the minds of many ordinary ancient Israelites, in contrast to the priestly elite.1 In what I call folk religion, or “popular religion,” Yahweh’s consort is best identified as “Asherah,” the old Canaanite mother goddess.2
. . .
Oddly enough, there is no description or even allusion to these naoi, or house shrines, in the Hebrew Bible. That they are model temples is beyond reasonable doubt. They are clearly miniature “houses for the gods,” as witnessed both by their clear architectural form and by the fact that in all West Semitic languages (Canaanite, Phoenician, Punic, Aramaic, Hebrew, etc.) the word ba¯yit/bêt is translated as both “house” and “temple.”
But what deity was worshiped in these house shrines? All of their motifs, fortunately, are reasonably well attested and understood. And nearly all are connected with well-known female deities, particularly Canaanite/Israelite Asherah and Phoenician Tanit (Asherah’s later reflex in the wider Mediterranean world).
The palmette capitals of the tree-like columns are not lotus-blossom capitals, as Weinberg and other classicists once supposed, much less “proto-Aeolic” capitals as William F. Albright thought. The late Israeli archaeologist Yigal Shiloh clearly demonstrated that they are stylized palm trees, especially typical of Iron Age royal and temple architecture.7 More recent research has shown that the symbolism responsible for the adaptation of the tree motif for columns in ancient Israel (and in Aramean and Phoenician monumental architecture) is probably deeply rooted in the old Canaanite identification of Asherah as a tree-goddess.
In an important article in BAR, for example, the late Ruth Hestrin brilliantly established the connection between the symbols of a stylized tree, a pubic triangle and a nurturing goddess. She even found representations in Egyptian art of the goddess with a tree trunk as a torso, a branch offering a breast to a nursing infant (in this case, the Pharaoh’s son).b (Ruth Hestrin, “Understanding Asherah— Exploring Semitic Iconography,” BAR, September/October 1991 - the article is free at BAR this month too.) (Image above: from the burial chamber of Pharaoh Tuthmosis III, the king is suckled by a breast that grows from the tree. The breast is held for the king by the goddess’s arm, also growing from the tree.)
In short, these tree-like columns were thought to be particularly appropriate in model temples dedicated to the tree-goddess Asherah.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Goddess, it's been so fricking cold here I can't stand it anymore - I'm surprised half the city hasn't committed hari kiri. How many layers of clothes can a person wear and still walk (sort of)? How many times can a person ice skate a mile to the bus stop on a sidewalk that isn't built for iceskating? But - today - finally, it actually got up to 20 degrees F. Tomorrow it will be even "warmer" - and by Monday - 38 degrees F with snow and rain mixed. Oh crap - here we go again! Later next week the nasty nasty cold cold unrelenting merciless cold strikes again. Will we ever see the 30's again??? I am so sick of knocking icicles off my gutters, of shoveling, of climbing over mile-high frozen-solid and icy snowbanks and holding my breath every time I take step on the never-ending treks to and from the bus stops! I'm oxygen deprived! No wonder my fingers are blue.
Okay, enough bitching about the crappy weather here. In August I'll be bitching about 90 degrees and 200% humidity.
Last night I watched the first episode of the new "America's Next Top Model" and had a blast; after that, I watched the repeat of the Pussycat Dolls' "Girlicious" and had a blast. I don't have any favorites on the programs yet, but I do have a couple of beyatches that I'd wish had been sent home - and weren't! Oh, how I wish they'd had stuff like this back when I was in my prime. Oh well, I wouldn't have gone to try out anyway :)
Hey, anyone out there looking for a 5 foot 3 and 3/4 inches tall "middle-aged" model with minimal wrinkles but in need of some strategic liposuction? My alter-ego is JanXena (hint hint).
Tonight's posts are a mix (as per usual); I'm now watching the Donald's TV show and that smarmy Englishman lost! I sure hope Trump fires his butt this time - he is utterly insufferable - even worse than that O woman on the other team!
Hope you like the pic. You may have seen it before - it's a classic. It makes me think of 110 degree F days in August in Las Vegas, chugging Gatorade and ducking into casinos to play nickle slots to get out of the sun. Ahhhhh.....
LONDON, (CAIS) -- The first volume of the catalogue titled “Sasanian Coins” will be published in the near future in a collaborative effort by Iran’s National Museum and the British Museum.
Iran’s National Museum’s Curator of Coins Marzieh Elaheh Asgari and Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis, the Curator of Islamic and Iranian Coins, in the department of Coins and Medals at the British Museum, have studied more than 5000 coins in the collections in Tehran and London.
The results of Sasanian Coin Project will be published in three volumes according to a Memorandum of Understanding which was signed between the museums 10 years ago.
Sasanian coins present the political, social and cultural conditions of the dynasty, and these volumes will be a valuable resource for the academic community and cultural enthusiasts. Each coin will be illustrated and described in the catalogue and the information will also go online. The following volumes are due to be published next summer.
Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis is responsible for the British Museum’s collection of pre-Islamic Iranian coins (from the third century BCE until the middle of the seventh century CE), which includes both Parthian and Sasanian dynastic coins. She also looks after coins of the Islamic era beginning with the Samanid and Buyid, Seljuk, Ilkhanid and Timurid, Safavid and Qajar dynasties of Iran.
Dr Curtis apart from the Sasanian Coin Project, she is also involved in a major Parthian Coin Project, which is a multi-institutional project with will catalogue coins of the third century BCE to the third century CE in Vienna, Tehran, Paris and Berlin.
The fourth Iranian dynasty, the Sasanians came to power in 224 CE, when Ardashir, a local king from Pars in southern Iran, seized the crown and became the new King of Kings of Iran. The Sasanians remained the most powerful empire in the ancient Near East until the advent of Islam and the Arab invasion of Iran in 651 CE.
Sasanian coins are an important primary source for the history, economics and religion of this dynasty. From the beginning, the image of the king with his elaborate crown appears on the front and a Zoroastrian fire altar is shown on the back. The crowns incorporate symbols, such as wings, which are associated with the Zoroastrian religion and idea of kingship. The coin inscriptions, which are in Middle Persian (Sasanid-Pahlavi), give the king’s name, his religious affiliation as a worshipper of Ahuramazda, the Zoroastrian Wise Lord.
From the sixth century onwards, important information on the mint and date within the king’s reign appears on the back. More than fifty mint centres are known through abbreviations in Middle Persian but not all can be identified with certainty. Sasanian were minted in gold, silver, bronze and occasionally lead. There were two women sovereigns in the Sasanian period. These were Boran (Purandokht) (r. 630-31) and Azarmidukht (r. 631). Both were daughters of emperor Khosrow II Parviz (r. 591-628).
The image (top) is from the CAIS article and is labeled "Two of King Ardashir's coins." Ardashir was the founder of the Sasanian Dynasty and ruled 224-241 CE. The top coin is interesting for the skull on top of the King's crown! The second coin is interesting because that looks like a cornucopia tower incorporated into the center portion of the king's crown.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Sarasota Mayor rescues baby squirrels
Feb 18, 2008 04:29 PM CST
Feb 18, 2008 10:12 PM CST
SARASOTA - Sarasota City Mayor Lou Ann Palmer spent her President's Day rescuing some furry residents.
The mayor was in her backyard when she came across two baby squirrels. She felt the tiny rodents were in distress, so she called the Wildlife Center of Venice.
They just happened to receive a call from another person in Sarasota with a similar situation, so the mayor went to pick up that squirrel as well.
They are on their way to the wildlife center to be checked out.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Mangalore: Goddess of wealth - Annual Feast of Shri Mariyamma Temple
Daijiworld Media Network [MM]Pics;
February 20, 2008
The annual feast of Shri Mariyamma Temple located at Urva was held on Tuesday, February 19. This temple is regarded to be one of the oldest temples situated in Mangalore. Thousands of devotees residing in and around Mangalore paid their respects and offered their prayers in the temple. Goddess Mariyamma, also referred to as the goddess of wealth is largely worshipped here.
Meanwhile, Gopalkrishna Suvarna, managing trustee of the temple, announced that the managing committee has decided to establish a golden 'Kalasha,' which would include 400 sovereigns of gold. “The faithful have already started to donate gold and cash for this purpose,” he informed.
“The temple is also involved in imparting education to needy children and bears the forefront for many social causes “ he added.
What's a "kalasha?" I did a bit of quick research on the internet. It seems that a gold kalasha is a pot (bowl) made out of gold that may hold sacred ingredients that are offered to a goddess or god during a ceremonial ritual.
So, is this temple now collecting gold sovereigns in order to melt them down to create a kalasha? Or are the sovereigns going to be spent to buy a gold kalasha? Or are the sovereigns intended to fill the kalasha (that will be provided from another source) in order to enable the temple to carry out the "education of the needy children" and be in the "forefront for many social causes?"
When she was born, the inhabitants of her village believed she was a gift from God and christened her Lakshmi, after the four-armed Hindu goddess of wealth.
However, her mother, Poonam, and father, Shambu Tatma, both in their twenties and earning about 50p a day as casual labourers, rejected the opportunity to exhibit her to pilgrims as a lucky charm and instead sought treatment.
Tomorrow's programme [a documetary] examines Indian attitudes to disability and the difficulties faced by the rural poor in overcoming deeply help superstitious beliefs.
"What mustn't happen is that Lakshmi is taken away and sold to a circus," the leader of Lakshmi’s village elders told the documentary's makers. "She could have been exhibited like a freak here and earned us a fortune but we never wanted to do that and neither did the parents."
Monday, February 18, 2008
So, tonight I'm splitting my time between doing the blog, research, and watching the shows.
BUT - you've just got to read this. I came across it entirely by accident as I was looking for information on Arabian battle queens. It's from Ancient Times Discussion Board under the topic Women in the Ancient World/ancient women and professions (this part of the Board hasn’t had a new post since 2005):
The latest Bulletin from the Australian Centre for Egyptology arrived today. It includes a little article that’s just right for this thread. This is the story of a woman of the Egyptian Old Kingdom who held a job not usually associated with women until the 20th Century CE. It’s also a story that might involve treason, retribution and a reward for loyalty. Does it sound interesting? Before we can get to the story of our lady we have to talk about the Old Kingdom in Egypt. Hang on. I think you’ll be happy.
Teti was the first King of Dynasty 6. Around his tomb he established a small but elite cemetery for members of his court. High position wouldn’t necessarily get a courtier a place in Teti’s cemetery. Loyal, personal service to the Royal Family just might do it. That seems to be the case of a humble lady known as Merinebti.
In the whole Teti cemetery uncovered so far, only 3 women have tombs of their own. One is Nedjetempet whose son married the King’s daughter. Another woman with a private tomb is a priestess of Hathor who was probably buried later that Teti’s time. It’s easy to see how Nedjetempet rated a tomb of her own. Merinebti’s tomb is a different story. The highest title the lady ever held was ‘guard’. The mystery is compounded by the fact that her tomb was taken from a man of much higher position.
The Old Kingdom title ‘guard wasn’t a high position but it was an honorable one. It isn’t clear exactly what their duties were but the term may refer to bodyguards for the royal family. In such a position it’s likely that royalty and humble folk saw each other on a daily basis. Perhaps the King could relax with his guard. He had to know them well. They were responsible for his life. They very well may have exchanged jokes.
As in modern law enforcement, the position of guard tended to run in families. Old Kingdom titles weren’t hereditary but we know of fathers and sons or groups of brothers who were all guards. We even know of one, Khufuankh, whose parents were both guards. Not many women held the position but female guards did exist.
We know nothing about Merinebti’s family or life except that she was probably in her 50s when she died. Why should an obscure female guard be given a coveted place in Teti’s cememtery? Why was her tomb taken from someone else?
The tomb in which Merinebti was buried originally belonged to Mereri, who held such titles as "overseer of weapons" and "Superintendent of the King’s house". He must have been a powerful man. He also must have done something horrible to have his tomb taken from him and his name erased. In the same area of the cemetery the tomb of the Vizier Hesi suffered a similar fate. Could both men have been involved in the same disgrace?
A key may be Mereri’s title "overseer of weapons". In the Old Kingdom there was no real army to speak of. In time of need local nobles were expected to provide troops for the King. Weapons were fairly rare. Even scenes of the King hunting in the desert show his bodyguards armed with sticks instead of something more lethal. An overseer of weapons could do a lot of mischief if he so chose.
Manetho claims that Teti was assassinated by his bodyguards. There’s really nothing to support this but it helps our story. Say Teti really was assassinated by plotters supplied with arms by Mereri and supported by the Vizier Hesi. Teti’s son Pepi I exacts justice with an iron hand. He imposes the worst possible punishment on the murderers of his father by depriving them of their tombs and obliterating their names. Perhaps Merenibti was the one who uncovered the plot. What better thanks than to reward her with the Overseer of weapons’ tomb?
Of course, we’ll never know. That little scenario is pure speculation. All we have is the tantalizing fact of a humble female guard buried in a tomb taken from a man of very high status. Ain’t speculation grand?
This post is a recap of : Kanawati, Naguib. "A Female Guard Buried in the Teti Cemetery" IN: BULLETIN OF THE AUSTRALIAN CENTER FOR EGYPTOLOGY. V.12 (2001) p.65-70.
I tried to locate further information online about Merinebti, but I found no images and no details from the excavation. I did find this:
Dr. Naguib Kanawati is the founder, in 1989, of the Australian Centre for Egyptology, which coordinates all Australian excavations in Egypt with the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities.
Reports: 17) Naguib Kanawati & Mahmoud Abder-Raziq, with contributions by L. Horácková, Ann McFarlane, T.H. Schmidt-Schultz, M. Schultz, Sameh Shafik, Eugen Strouhal, Elizabeth Thompson, Naguib Victor and Roxie Walker, The Teti Cemetery at Saqqara, Volume VII: The Tombs of Shepsipuptah, Mereri (Merinebti), Hefi and Others, (Warminster, 2001). ISBN 0-85668-806-1.
I also found this fascinating bit of information about a lady I assume is Mereri's wife (the disgraced official who gave up his tomb to Merinebti). Now, it could be that this is a different Mereri - on the other hand, the website I got this information noted that the tomb was from the Old Kingdom. Teti was the first Pharaoh of Dynasty 6 of the Old Kingdom and his son, Pepi, was one of the longest ruling Pharaohs ever. This Mereri's wife was a priestess of Hathor. I don't think it's a coincidence:
The red scarf was worn as a part of the costume for priestesses of Het-Hert during the Old Kingdom. It is a long, narrow piece of fabric that is tied around the neck with its ends trailing down the back like streamers. It was also worn by dancers, though draped in a different way.
Outside the Old Kingdom mastaba tomb of Mereri at Saqqara there is a false door of his wife Nebet (aka Ibi), a priestess of Het-Hert. The false door of a tomb is the place where the Seen and Unseen Worlds connect, allowing the ka of the deceased to partake of the offerings placed there by loving relatives.
The carved relief from this false door shows Nebet wearing a long scarf and carrying two cloth sacks and two sistra (one of which is sticking out of the sack on the right). It looks as if she also might be wearing a menat necklace around her neck. One of her titles was "Priestess of Het-Hert in all Her Places."
It seems that Pharaoh Pepi was merciful and did not have the name of Mereri's wife erased from eternity forever, as he might have done as a punishment for Mereri. (By the way, I believe the red scarf on the false door carving was emphasized by Photoshopping).
Sunday, February 17, 2008
The so-called TLV pattern, which resembles the three Roman letters, is commonly seen on the back of bronze mirrors of the Han dynasty. This sign, thought to have cosmological significance, also appears on other Han dynasty works, including diviners' plates, sundials, and the playing surfaces of the board game known as liubo, said to be a favorite of immortals.