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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in archaeology

 

 

From my mound, I will bless you.”

 

As the excavations at Cadbury castle—reputedly the site of Camelot—were about to begin in 1964, the archaeologists were met by a local, an old man who had lived nearby all his life.

“Have you come to dig up the king?” he asked, anxiously.

 

The royal Ship Burial at Sutton Hoo has long deserved its own epic, and now—in its own understated, very East Anglian way—it has one.

John Preston's The Dig is a shining, masterful novel, but—speaking as a pagan—I can't deny that it raises some difficult issues.

The discoveries at Sutton Hoo have enriched our knowledge of the ancestors and their ways immeasurably, and for this I'm deeply grateful, but it can't be denied that excavating the Royal Mound there also destroyed something sacred, and very important.

Though reconstructed to its original profile, overlooking the River Deben, the Royal Mound now stands empty, stripped of its kingly treasure.

 

I think of the head of Bran, buried to ward the coasts of Britain.

I think of how Arthur is said, in his arrogance, to have removed it, and what befell thereafter.

 

The Museo del Oro in Bogotá, Columbia, displays the breathtakingly intricate goldwork images of the ancient Tairona: golden plants, animals, and people.

But the mamas—shamans—of the Kogi, the last surviving cultural heirs of the Tairona, are dismayed by the excavation and display of these objects. Each one was buried, they say, with full intent: as an offering, a prayer, a talisman. That golden ear of corn in the display case was originally a gift to Earth Mother herself, intended to enrich the fertility of the fields. Torn from its proper context, denied its due offerings, what now is to become of the crop?

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I'm not going to write your Minoan history paper for you

I regularly get social media messages from people - mostly high school and college students - who have questions about the ancient Minoans. I'm always happy to point people toward accurate, up-to-date resources, since so many websites continue to perpetuate outdated information (a great deal of what Sir Arthur Evans supposed about the Minoans turned out to be wrong).

But I'm not going to write your paper for you.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
The History of Magic

I was delighted to take part in a discussion on the BBC  of the history of magic from a variety of perspectives. While our remit was broad (all of time!) we did try to bring up some specific examples from our respective areas of expertise. Of course that meant that I had a chance to talk about both medieval magic and Leonora Carrington.

Give it a listen here.

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"Don't believe everything you read on the Internet" - King Minos

I love the Internet. There's so much information so readily available. It's such a contrast to my early days of researching the Minoans, back in the 1970s and 80s, when I had to scratch and scrabble for a sentence here, a paragraph there, in books about other ancient cultures. But that ease of access to the online world comes with a price.

Anyone can put up a website and say anything they want to in it. That's good; freedom of speech and expression is something I'm all for. The problem comes when websites repeat outdated and inaccurate information, either because the writer doesn't know any better or because they have a theory they want to prove. Of course, this sort of thing happens in books as well, but it's more common online, simply because it's easier to put up a website than to publish a book.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Minoan archaeology: It's still a thing

When I talk with people about the ancient Minoans, I find they often believe that everything we know about ancient Crete was dug up by Sir Arthur Evans a century ago, and that's it. But that's not the case.

Evans is famous, sure, but did you know that the Minoan site at Gournia was originally excavated by the American archaeologist Harriet Boyd-Hawes? Work at the site was still ongoing this summer (2019). In fact, work at a lot of Minoan sites is still in progress, and we're learning and discovering more all the time. Here's a sampling of what's happening these days in the world of Minoan archaeology:

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

During the winter months, it can be difficult to find things to write about for White Mountain Druid Sanctuary because it is buried under snow and frozen ground.  However, Kirk Thomas, who is creating WMDSanctuary, has found an archaeological tour company in the Mediterranean that he really likes.  He has written several Facebook posts about the history of Cyprus, so I'm going to post those here.

First post

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Minotaur: A book review of a Sir Arthur Evans biography

Sir Arthur Evans is the name most closely associated with the rediscovery of ancient Minoan civilization. Though local Cretan archaeologist Minos Kalokairinos discovered the site of Knossos and did some preliminary digging there, it's Evans who undertook a large-scale, systematic excavation of the largest of the Minoan cities with its enormous temple complex and who introduced the ancient Minoans into the modern world. Joseph Alexander MacGillivray is another archaeologist whose focus is on Minoan civilization, and he has written a fascinating biography of Evans, titled Minotaur: Sir Arthur Evans and the Archaeology of the Minoan Myth.

First, let me point out that this book is a biography of Evans, not a retelling of the Minotaur myth. I've seen a few reviews from people who weren't able to suss out that fact (seriously, did you read the back cover or the online description?) and were disappointed when they read the book. It helps to pay attention before buying a book so you know what you're getting. What you're getting, in this case, is an amazingly detailed biography of a fascinating, complex, contradictory man who made quite a place for himself in history.

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