Monthly Archives: March 2014

Landmark Antiquities Case Settled

iran(from USA Today and AP) — Survivors of a 1997 terrorist bombing blamed partly on Iran can’t seize thousands of relics from U.S. museums to pay a $412 million judgment against the Iranian government, a federal judge in Chicago ruled Friday.

The case targeting the Persian antiquities at the Field Museum of Natural History and the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute was closely watched nationwide by other museum officials, who feared a ruling against the Chicago museums could set an alarming precedent that might put their own collections at risk.

“I am very pleased,” said Matt Stolper, who oversees Persian collections at the Oriental Institute. “I’m happy these (artifacts) don’t need to be surrendered to be turned into money.”  Read more…

RadioCIAMS: Glenn Schwartz (JHU) on Elite Tombs at Bronze Age Umm el-Marra (Syria)

Umm el Marra tombRadioCIAMS is the podcast series of the Cornell Institute of Archaeology and Material Studies (CIAMS). In these podcasts we seek to probe the critical debates in archaeology in conversation between leading practitioners and the next generation of researchers.

On March 26, 2014 Glenn Schwartz (Johns Hopkins U. Prof. of Near Eastern Studies) met with CIAMS students Asa Cameron, Eilis Monahan, Jeff Leon, and Kathryn Weber to talk about excavations at Tell Umm el-Marra in western Syria, which have exposed a large funerary complex of rich tombs associated with local rulers in the Early Bronze Age period of Syria’s first urban civilization, ca. 2500-2100 BC.  We also discussed the piece Schwartz co-authored with Sebastian Heath (ISAW) on ‘Legal Threats to Cultural Exchange of Archaeological Materials’ (American Journal of Archaeology 2009). The full recording of the discussion opens below:

New Cornell-Heidelberg-NBU Excavations at Bresto, SW Bulgaria

Bresto diggers“Producing and Consuming the Transition: Incorporating Animal Resources at the Turn from Late Bronze to Early Iron Age in SW Bulgaria”  [see page for full description].  Dates: July 21-August-24th

Contacts: John Gorczyk (Cornell), Project supervisor:; Nerissa Russell (Cornell), co-PI: ; Bogdan Athanassov (New Bulgarian University), co-PI ; Philipp Stockhammer (Heidelberg), Project supervisor:                        

The larger goal of the project is to understand the transition from the LBA to EIA in the Mesta Valley where the site of Bresto is located. Previous work has shown that changes to settlement patterns were driven in part by increased communication with Aegean polities through major river valleys like the Struma. Large stone structures were built on prominent places in the landscape, positioned to provide the greatest vision of the surroundings or to control movement through river corridors and mountain passes. Among the many artifacts recovered from these structures were Mycenean ceramics, indicating a connection with the LBA polities further south. The most well studied of these, Kaimenska Chuka, was excavated by Mark Stefanovich and his team in the 1990s. Continue reading

New Open Access Journal Taking Submissions

arts-logoDear colleagues, I am editor of Greek and Roman Art and Archaeology for the relatively new open access, peer reviewed journal ARTS. We are working on an issue on “Archaeology and its Media” (see attachment). I would like to invite you to submit contributions from your fields or to circulate this email among colleagues and students, who you feel might be interested. 

The journal covers a very broad range of fields in Art History. Feel free to explore (vol. 2, for examples, is on Rock Art): 

Thanks a lot,

Annetta Alexandridis
Associate Professor of Classical Art and Archaeology
Department of History of Art and Visual Studies
Cornell University
GM 01 Goldwin Smith Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-3201

Wadi al-Jarf Site Rewrites History of the Pyramid Age

Jarf neareastarch.3 14 fig14As reported by Pierre Tallet and Gregory Marouard in Near Eastern Archaeology 77.1 (Mar 2014), a joint French-Egyptian team has discovered the oldest inscribed papyri and the oldest harbor complex in Egyptian and world history, dating to ca. 2550 BCE. The harbor site at Wadi al-Jarf not only illustrates the energy and complexity of Egyptian shipping that connected the capital to mining operations in the Sinai, but the 2013 discovery of an inspector’s ‘diary’ reveals the name of Khufu’s last overseer of works (Ankh-haf), lengthens Khufu’s reign by about 3 years, and provides invaluable insights into the construction of the Pyramids of Giza.

Punic Child Sacrifice Debate Heating Up

What follows is an essay by Hélène BENICHOU-SAFAR, UMR 8167, Orient et Méditerranée Chercheur associé, Paris. [re-posted on AGADE e-list]

Deux groupes d’auteurs ont récemment mis à profit les résultats d’un nouvel examen ostéologique pour réaffirmer dans deux articles réunis sous la même bannière dans Antiquity. 87, 2013[i] et prétendant clore le débat, qu’en dépit de l’incrédulité d’un grand nombre de spécialistes, les cendres enfantines découvertes par milliers dans les tophets puniques correspondaient à autant de sacrifices humains (les tophets, rappelons-le, sont ces enceintes si singulières qui sont constituées de lits superposés d’ex-voto et d’urnes cinéraires emplies d’ossements d’enfants mêlés ou non d’ossements d’animaux). Ces articles ont été signalés, présentés et/ou commentés dans The Guardian[ii], dans le Journal de l’Université d’Oxford[iii] mais surtout dans la présente tribune[iv] qui leur a servi de caisse de résonance et qui a pu laisser croire à un « scoop » : que l’on tenait désormais la preuve que « Ancient Carthaginians really did sacrifice their children », comme le titrait résolument l’un de ces organes de presse. Face à une telle situation, les chercheurs qui soutiennent au contraire que les cendres des tophets sont, dans leur très grande majorité au moins, celles d’enfants morts naturellement, se devaient de réagir et de faire entendre leur voix. Pour être l’un d’eux, je m’y emploierai ici. Read more…

Curatorial Assistant position at Oriental Institute, Chicago

[from Jack Sasson’s AGADE e-list]

Curatorial Assistant, Oriental Institute Museum
The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago
[Go there for full notice and to apply]

The University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute is an internationally recognized research center for studying the archaeological and textual record of the ancient Near East, including Egypt and Nubia. A primary unit within the Institute is its Museum, which houses over 300,000 registered objects. To find out more visit: Continue reading