Saturday, May 26, 2018
one estimate there should be around 40,000 in the whole site. Some of them have burials in them – at least 134 skeletons have been recovered from the site – while others do not. In general, there is not much difference between the pits and ditches that contain skeletons and those that do not. But a great deal of ordinary domestic trash has been found on the site, which certainly makes it look like people lived there. That is, the place was obviously a site of great ritual importance, but it was also a town. Like Jerusalem, say.
reported finds include gold, ivory, and "green stones."
just now coming out.
news accounts from the time of the excavation reported that all were women. The latest statement from the excavators is that two are teenagers, while the rest all are between 20 and 35 years of age; 15 are women, and five could not be identified.
The subsidiary tomb contained a single male, 17-25 years old. An elephant tusk was laid above the young man’s head. Other finds include a set of twenty-three flint blades and several ivory artifacts.
In polls, support for democracy has been declining in both the US and Europe. You might think the ones turning against democracy were extremists of the right or the left, but no:
Friday, May 25, 2018
Every once in a while a little story comes along to remind me how hard the people who make to the top of most fields work. This is a memory of novelist Philip Roth:
I remember when Philip Roth told me he’d stopped writing fiction. He was talking with my wife and me, and — looking honestly happy and relaxed about his new situation — he said, “Now I can have a glass of orange juice in the morning and read the newspaper.” And I remember thinking, You could have had your orange juice after “Portnoy’s Complaint” or “The Ghostwriter,” that you probably earned at least a scan of the A-section by book 10 or 12 or 14. . . .
Philip once told me about finishing a novel, and how, with a new book under his belt and nothing to do, he’d walked out the door of his Manhattan apartment to the American Museum of Natural History, a few steps away. He’d strolled around the displays and told me that, standing in the museum’s Hall of Ocean Life, he’d gazed up at the giant model of a blue whale hanging from the ceiling and thought, “What am I supposed to do, look at a whale all day?” And so he went back up to his apartment and started writing again.
Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Archive.org. I read the whole thing, and my post on the overall story of the Babylon excavations is here.
But that still doesn't get us to the top; how did Koldewey know what the tops of the walls and towers looked like? So far as I can tell, he did not. Archaeologists can often guess at the height of walls from the amount of rubble, but at Babylon the upper layers had been mined for bricks for 2,000 years, so that would not be very reliable. And sometimes you can tell a lot about a building from particular cut stones or shaped bricks, but that does not seem to be the case at Babylon, where the bricks were all made to standard shapes and sizes.
So the reconstructed gate is 90% original about halfway up. Above that it may be largely imaginary, although it is built of original Babylon bricks. The wonderful sculpted animals are as real as anything you see in a museum. I come to the end of this exploration of Babylon feeling reassured more than worried; Koldewey and his crew did an amazing job, and the maps on which all our reconstructions of Babylon are based are as good as it gets. The tops of the buildings are a lot less certain than the bottoms, but that is just always the case in archaeology.
When you feel perpetually unmotivated, you start questioning your existence in an unhealthy way; everything becomes a pseudo-intellectual question you have no interest in responding to whatsoever. This whole process becomes your very skin and it does not merely affect you; it actually defines you. So, you see yourself as a shadowy figure unworthy of developing interest, unworthy of wondering about the world – profoundly unworthy in every sense and deeply absent in your very presence.
– Ingmar Bergman
– Ingmar Bergman
Tuesday, May 22, 2018
this blog, which has many more images and some history.