History

Sumer and the Modern Paradigm

Modern artists discovered Sumerian art between the world wars, at a time when British and American archaeological missions were working in southern Iraq. But archaeologists like Leonard Woolley, head of the mission in Ur were less fascinated by their finds. They considered Mesopotamian art inferior to Egyptian and to Graeco-Roman art and thought Mesopotamian iconography …

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James C. Scott’s New Book

James C. Scott is one of the scholars I always enjoy reading. I was introduced to his work Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts while in a (wonderful) seminary class on the Parables. The insightful connection that our beloved professor made between Jesus’ acts and words in his performance of the parables with …

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Did ancient people see blue?

Realizing that the origins of colors in Mesopotamia are found in the idea of brightness and saturation allows us to dispel the notion that Akkadian has a poor and imprecise color vocabulary. Rather than look for equivalents to English words like red, blue and purple, we should understand how colors were imagined and experienced by …

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Grain counting technologies

“The truth, Scott proposes, may be the opposite. What if early civilization was not a boon to humankind but a disaster: for health and safety, for freedom, and for the natural world? What if the first cities were, above all, vast technologies of exploitation by a small and rapacious elite? If that is where we …

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Of Siri and Hesiod

There’s a very subtle but very real history behind Siri (and Google Now and Amazon Echo’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana) having a female voice and persona… “But because the creatures in these myths are virtually identical to their creators, these narratives raise further questions, of a more profoundly philosophical nature: about creation, about the nature …

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Classical Inscriptions, Fonts, and Avatar

“The Renaissance was chockablock with copyists who learned and then duplicated Latin epigraphic scripts for various purposes. This imitation game had a great amount of influence on the Renaissance antiquities market at the time (forgeries could be bought all over Italy), but it is also revealed in the fonts we use today–particularly Roman fonts. The invention of fonts …

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“Dura Europos Fanboy”

Merianna just called me a “Dura Europos Fanboy” as she walked past me reading an article in this morning’s NY Times by Prof. Michael Peppard about Dura Europos while drinking coffee from my Dura Europos mug.  

The New York Public Library Uploads 200,000 Images for Public Use

What the web was made for… much more beneficial to humanity than social media silos or native content ads: The New York Public Library just uploaded nearly 200,000 images you can use for free | The Verge: “The New York Public Library just released a treasure trove of digitized public domain images, featuring epic poetry from the …

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Roman Empire GDP Per Capita

Fascinating… Roman Empire GDP Per Capita Map Shows That Romans Were Poorer Than Any Country in 2015 – Brilliant Maps: “What a difference 2,000 years makes. The map above shows the GDP per capita in 14AD of the various provinces of the Roman Empire in 1990 PPP Dollars. On average, the GDP per capita across …

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18th Century Contextual Advertising

Does this advertisement from the May 10, 1764 issue of Benjamin Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette make you want to pick up some Benjamin Jackson Mustard and Chocolate? Source: 18th Century Advertising, When Brevity Wasn’t Key | Rag Linen | Online Museum of Historic Newspapers We complain about ads on the web (or Facebook) today, but the …

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“We cannot ask a man what he will do, and if we should, and he should answer us, we should despise him for it.”

“We cannot ask a man what he will do, and if we should, and he should answer us, we should despise him for it.” Source: Lincoln – David Herbert Donald – Google Books A little reminder of what’s good about the United States on this night of shameful performances at the GOP Debate on the …

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U.S. Poverty Shifts Since 1960

“Since President Lyndon B. Johnson launched the War on Poverty 50 years ago, the characteristics of the nation’s poor have changed: A larger share of poor Americans today are in their prime working years and fewer are elderly. In addition, those in poverty are disproportionately children and people of any age who are black, Hispanic …

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Destroying Dura Europos

A Greek settlement on the Euphrates not far from Syria’s border with Iraq, Dura-Europos later became one of Rome’s easternmost outposts. It housed the world’s oldest known Christian church, a beautifully decorated synagogue, and many other temples and Roman-era buildings. Satellite imagery shows a cratered landscape inside the city’s mud-brick walls, evidence of widespread destruction by …

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Thomas Jefferson Was Obsessed with Mammoths

“For most of his life, Thomas Jefferson was obsessed with mammoths. (More correctly, he was obsessed with American mastodons, tree-chewing cousins of mammoths that lived in the Northern part of the continent—but at the time, he and the rest of the world thought they were mammoths.) He liked theorizing about mammoths, he liked talking about mammoths, he liked making his friends rack …

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Yale’s Religious Treasures

My masters degree in religion is from Yale, and it’s great to see the religious treasures there highlighted. However, I can’t believe the Dura Europos baptistry (from the earliest house church we’ve recovered and one of the first depictions of Jesus we have) didn’t make the list (the Mithraeum did, though… which is also spectacular). …

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Economic Virtue

We’ve been taught to think that the only economic virtue is competitiveness. This is a faith: I’ll get into it for all I’m worth, seeking the maximum advantage for myself. via The “Mad” Farmer » American Scientist.

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