Happy Canada Day, everyone!

Following a nearly six month long hiatus, I’m on my way back. More to follow shortly, and hopefully it’s interesting stuff!


The Roundup #57

The Trump Twitter Wars are establishing themselves as part of cultural lore, now that women and Alec Baldwin are firing back. And I learned today for the first time about the Nemi Ships.  Holy gods!

Otherwise, here’s this week’s roundup. Enjoy!

From Archaeology.org:

Don’t forget to always clean your bodies, and your plates. Evidence from Lapa do Santo in Brazil suggest that people not only defleshed bodies before burial, but they may also have cannibalized them nearly 10,000 years ago.

A network of smugglers has been exposed and several items repatriated from the US to Egypt following work by US Immigration and Customs.

Bitumen from the Sutton Hoo site appears to have originated near the Dead Sea, suggesting that trade was more extensive than previously thought.

A pair of mummified legs likely belonged to Queen Nefertari, wife of Pharaoh Rameses II, have been identified in Italy. Still wondering where the rest of of her is, though…

Earthenworks discovered on the Japanese island of Kyushu may show evidence of an invasion during the 7th century from Korea.

A theatre in the Roman province of Thrace (modern Bulgaria, near Plovdiv) appears to be older than originally thought following the discovery of an inscription near the site dating to the reign of the Emperor Domitian.

From the Smithsonian:

A remarkable video feature on the restoration of a 17th century map found shoved up a chimney in Aberdeen.

A more detailed article on the recently discovered site outside Abydos in Egypt.

The Weaponization of Language: Musings on the Rise of the Right and Protectionism in the Western World

I hate the word ‘waiting’. It’s so goddamned onomatopoeic. Long vowels punctuated by what appears to be a strong consonant – suggesting a climax or ending, perhaps? – only to be carried on with for another three letters, dragged along by the soft palate until you’re practically gurgling. Fuck ‘waiting’. At least with words like ‘stagnation’, you can feel your feet stuck in the mud. Or ‘boredom’, that sublimely alienating experience because it is so dependent on the individual.

And just as the rage peaks in cathartic waves, a pair of frightened animal eyes looks at you, and you realize you’ve been terrorizing another alienated being, one left alone by the necessities of the day-to-day. And that, truly, is the cause of the rage and the self-loathing and the fury and the tears that never actually come so that your eyes burn with the uselessness of it: the necessities of the day-to-day sap not only the will to live but the physical value in doing so. I don’t feel beyond frustration, that slightly itchy wool that sticks to you with the damp.

However, if “words, words, words… [are] all we’ve got to go on”, and if it cannot be considered entirely a saving ‘grace’, perhaps it can be in words where my frustration and rage vents into reality and I can once again know what it is to enjoy a day.


Yes We Can. I’m With Her. Make America Great Again. Britain First. Better Together. As with so many things, the US election of late has affected the world at large and the way we think within it. Preaching the importance of civic engagement aside, let’s take a look at what we’re asked to engage with. An idea? Certainly. A slogan? Without any doubt at all. A common understanding? Now hang on a minute there… If understanding is wrought from comprehension and communication (and there’s a fair amount of evidence to suggest that’s true, as well as hardly any suggesting it’s false), we bring to the black-and-white fore something that is hardly either or both but always, as Schrodinger’s Cat, something in between.

The recent US election has proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that one thing we are not doing is talking to each other. And as a result we don’t hear each other, we don’t listen, we don’t empathize, we don’t recognize. A permanent, polarizing social othering has anchored itself in the one avenue for political expression everyone is most familiar with: the ballot box. We vote for our candidate, not theirs. We vote for policies that will make our lives better, not those that would change the way we do things. We don’t consider that a policy that might not bear the kind of fruit we like on our ice cream sundaes might be in the best interest of more than just our bottom line.

And there you are: what is a bottom line? As I understand it, it is nothing more than the literal bottom line of a page – a financial statement, or ledger, in fact – where we see if we are ‘in the red’ or ‘in the black’ (as Interac would prefer us to be – great slogan, by the way!). When did any human society become reduced to red vs black, ahead or behind? Isn’t the whole existence of the nation state – although I understand that that term may be a tad anachronistic in some cases now – predicated on the complexities of the society that makes up a nation state existing in an eternal state of compromise? Give and take? Help and hinder? Show and tell?

Again, here’s the trouble. We’re not showing or telling anymore. We’re suggesting. And in the most political way possible, we are doing so without actually saying anything. Gods forbid the political establishment actually say something that could be taken as fact, or as an opinion, a position, or a thought! George Carlin ranted about this in one of his many great stand-up comedy shows, ultimately arguing that if we had kept the phrase ‘shell shock’ to describe the psychological affects of war on individuals, those individuals would not have to fight so hard or suffer in such silence for the support they so desperately need.

So what are we talking about here? We are talking about the weaponization of language. However, in a grotesque twist of fate, this weaponization has evolved counter to all other weapons of humankind. There are no targeting scanners, no weapons-lock mechanisms, no highly accurate surveys of the underground caverns for the Red October to escape through. Our words in the political sphere – so diluted of meaning as to suggest a myriad of potential ideas – have been weaponized through over-generalization. We are not sure, so we guess.

For example: “Make America Great Again”. What does ‘great’ mean in this context? Who is the do-er of the action ‘make’? Is it a command, relinquishing all responsibility from the person uttering this phrase to the people hearing it? And ‘again’? When was this? Do we know? Can we know? Even the word ‘America’ leaves much to be desired in its lack of cohesion. What ‘America’ are we talking about? Whose ‘America’ do we mean? How can we follow instructions if they are not clear? “Just following orders” is the refrain of a bygone era, but do you know which one? Are you sure?

The ‘aww shucks’ era of public speaking needs to end. If you don’t understand, find out. If you can’t understand, try. We’re not all just Average Joes because ‘The Average Joe’ was an idea developed in this hideously diluted politico-speak to make sure no one felt left out. Don’t feel left out! Get involved! Don’t be afraid your voice won’t be heard, or that you’ve missed the point, or that you don’t understand. Miss the point! Don’t understand! In your apparent confusion you will lead political language into the light. If you don’t understand, someone hasn’t done their job to make it understandable. And no, I do NOT mean by dumbing down an idea into words of five letters or less. Slogans and catch phrases don’t explain anything. They offer a hook, nothing more. Conversation, dialogue, discourse, discussion, consideration, debate allow people to work out an idea, try it from different angles, see where it fits in the house, or if it should be on the porch instead. There’s a reason so many of those words in English start with a ‘d’. Duh!


George Carlin’s full bit on soft language and political correctness, and ‘the intention of the words behind them that make them good or bad’, and the importance of context, ‘you can’t be afraid of words that speak the truth, even if it’s an unpleasant truth. I hate words that conceal the truth…’

The Atlantic’s response to Trump’s ‘locker room talk’ and the way it’s being spun in the media – not ‘explicit sex talk’ but ‘sexual assault’.

The etymology of political language, starting with ambition.

Neil MacGregor’s Guardian article on Britain’s view of itself.

The Roundup #48

The 2016 Olympics in Rio are well underway and people are discovering all kinds of sports they didn’t know they enjoyed watching, like rugby sevens apparently. And, in spite of the volcanic heat in Toronto, things are happening all over the world. My favourite of the week  has to be this note in the Washington Post about a massive mosaic depicting chariot racing discovered in Cyprus.

So, without further ado, here’s this week’s roundup. Enjoy!

From Archaeology.org:

Massive structures have been found near Risan, Montenegro dating to the third century BCE. Risan is the capital of ancient Illyria.

Healthy living isn’t a new fad, as the discovery of a plunge pool built in the 19th century inside a 12th century abbey proves.

Evidence from horses that died in the Middle Ages suggests that the elusive ‘ambling’ gait originated in Medieval England.

Fragments of Roman fresco discovered in Israel may have been part of a public building constructed in the second century CE.

Ongoing archaeological work around the site of Tintagel in Cornwall is providing new information on the date of the first settlements there.

From the Smithsonian:

The oldest known processed gold has been discovered in Bulgaria.

Evidence of the mysterious snake-head dynasty have been discovered in Belize.

From the Independent:

At first blush, the news that a Portuguese sailing ship has been discovered in a Namibian desert might sound outlandish (sorry, bad pun), but this is apparently not that unusual: the latest is the Bom Jesus, that set sail in 1533 and vanished with its crew and cargo on its way to India.

From the Guardian:

A unique find during the excavation of a burial site in Serbia: magic spells inscribed on gold leaf found with skeletons as amulets.

From History Today:

A feature on the largest pyramid in the world – and it’s not in Egypt, but in Mexico: the Great Pyramid of Cholula.

The Roundup #47

It’s been an interesting week in archaeological news (to the public; not the archaeologists themselves, who’ve been working at these sites for months if not years). The big highlight has to be the discovery of ruins outside of the already ruined castle of Tintagel where archaeologists believe Arthur may have been born.

Here’s this week’s roundup. Enjoy!

From Archaeology.org:

Possibly my favourite bit of news from this week, archaeologists have recreated a kitchen in a launderette at Pompeii.

The question over whether a burial site where the skeletons of men were found decapitated remains, as scholars dispute the idea that it could have been a mass grave for either gladiators or criminals.

Technology adds new dimensions to archaeological work as the footprints originally discovered by Mary Leakey in the Laetoli area of Tanzania and dated to over 3 millions years ago are analyzed by DigTrace software.

Evidence to support the mythical founding of China’s empire have been found: sediment from a massive flooding of the Yellow River nearly 4,000 years ago at a site called Lajia.

And a lavish burial for a woman has been discovered near Aspero in Peru.

From the CBC:

A huge mass burial site has been uncovered near Piraeus in Greece dating from the 8th to the 5th century BCE.

From the National Post:

Specialists have used a particle accelerator to determine that an old and much despised Degas held in Australia contains another portrait underneath, of one of Degas’ models, Emma Dobigny.

From The Guardian:

A massive, ornate Mayan tomb from the historical snake dynasty has been discovered in Belize.

The Roundup #46

It’s been a strange month but, having returned from a much needed holiday in Niagara-on-the-Lake, I’m ready to get back into the swing of things. And it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing, so here goes this month’s roundup. Enjoy!

From Archaeology.org:

Archaeologists are examining temples built hundreds of years ago to determine how to design future earthquake proofing.

Another delightful discovery out of the Galilee this season; this time it’s a rock-cut kiln from the Roman period.

Things I didn’t know: Hong Kong has not be subjected to any serious archaeological work in its harbour. The discovery of an anchor and cannon from a site near Basalt Island is the first such work to be undertaken.

An Etruscan tomb near Vulci has yielded enigmatic silver hands as part of its cache.

And speaking of Etruscans, the Danish museum Ny Carlesbeg Glyptotek is repatriating artefacts originally from the Sabine necropolis at Colle del Forno.

From a Swedish shipwreck, archaeologists may have discovered the stinkiest cheese ever, having been buried in mud for 340 years.

The earliest known evidence of tobacco cultivation has been discovered in Utah.

And evidence from the Solomon Islands suggests that early Polynesian tattoo artists used obsidian tools to imbed the ink in skin.

From Biblical Archaeology:

An in memoriam for Jim Robinson reviews the discovery and later release of the Nag Hammadi codices discovered in Egypt in 1945.

From the CBC:

Plans to raise Roald Amundsen’s ship, the Maud, from the seabed at Cambridge Bay are now underway.

The Roundup #45

This week brought to light (for me at least) some rather interesting notes on projects ongoing around the world. The first, and of course my favourite, is this piece from the Smithsonian about Wolfgang Neubauer’s non-invasive archaeological work on Carnuntum in Austria, particularly the ludus or gladiator school near the amphitheatre there. The second, which I stumbled on quite by accident after deciding to check out rogueclassicism.com for the first time in ages, about the search for the provenance of a Gospel purportedly to be of Jesus’s wife.

So how ’bout them apples?

And, with that, here’s the rest of this week’s roundup. Enjoy!

From Archaeology.org:

The remains of four people found in the back of a shop in Pompeii were discovered with jewellery and money, despite evidence of looting at the site.

Evidence of bitumen collection from Russia has been identified in the molecular remains inside an amphora.

Archaeological reconstruction of funeral rites for a shaman in Israel from 12,000 years ago yields all kinds of new information.

Evidence of what could prove to be a remarkable cooling system for working men and animals in Carthage’s circus.

Antibiotic resistant bacteria is not a new thing, as evidence from mummies from Peru and Italy suggest.

From the Atlantic:

A short and delightful video on new techniques designed to non-invasively read papyrus scrolls from Pompeii and Herculaneum.