Archaeology

Cultural heritage has a lot to teach us about climate change

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Museums, archaeological sites and historical buildings are rarely included in conversations about climate change, which tend to focus on the wider impact and global threats to our contemporary world. Authors: The Conversation Yet these threats impact everything, from local cultural practices to iconic sites of outstanding universal value. In light of this, it’s worth exploring the relationship between our heritage and the changing global climate in more detail. More powerful storms, flooding, desertification and even the melting of permafrost are ... Read More »

Enormous, rare Viking ship burial discovered by radar

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Archaeologists in Norway using ground-penetrating radar have detected one of the largest Viking ship graves ever found. Andrew Curry National Geographic Archaeologists have found the outlines of a Viking ship buried not far from the Norwegian capital of Oslo. The 65-foot-long ship was covered over more than 1,000 years ago to serve as the final resting place of a prominent Viking king or queen. That makes it one of the largest Viking ship graves ever found. Experts say intact Viking ... Read More »

36 Hours in Athens

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From the ancient Acropolis to a daring Renzo Piano-designed cultural center, the Greek capital is luring record numbers of tourists to explore its monuments, new and old. Chaney Kwak The New York Times There are cities that count their age by years; then there’s Athens, which can tabulate its history by millenniums. From battles and setbacks this ancient metropolis has rebounded again and again, proving itself to be resilient like no other. Sitting on a parfait of civilizations, the Greek ... Read More »

How Brexit has revived controversy over the Elgin Marbles in Britain

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The Parthenon Sculptures have been the subject of debate for more than 200 years. With Theresa May scurrying around the EU trying to deliver Brexit, Greece is quite right to probe the possibility of bringing the treasures home. Dominic Selwood Independent It seems unlikely that several hundred tonnes of marble from Mount Pentelicus near Athens could have a significant role to play in Brexit. But, following a letter from the Greek government to Jeremy Wright, the culture secretary, that is exactly what is now happening. Lydia ... Read More »

Brazil museum fire: ‘incalculable’ loss as 200-year-old Rio institution gutted

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The Museu Nacional houses artefacts from Egypt, Greco-Roman art and some of the first fossils found in Brazil Dom Phillips The Guardian Brazil’s oldest and most important historical and scientific museum has been consumed by fire, and much of its archive of 20 million items is believed to have been destroyed. The fire at Rio de Janeiro’s 200-year-old National Museum began after it closed to the public on Sunday and raged into the night. There were no reports of injuries, ... Read More »

Labyrinthine investigation concludes the Minotaur’s lair never existed

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Long held to be a known archaeological site, the Labyrinth of Crete was never built, says a new study. Fotis Kapetopoulos reports. Since the late nineteenth century, archaeologists, documentary-makers and novelists have asserted that the Cretan Labyrinth – the lair of the terrifying Minotaur – was a real place. But now a major paper suggests that the legendary maze was just that – legend, a figment of collective imagination. The labyrinth is popularly held to have been in the Palace ... Read More »

The surprising role cheese played in human evolution

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A solid white mass found in a broken jar in an Ancient Egyptian tomb has turned out to be the world’s oldest example of solid cheese. Penny Bickle The Conversation Probably made mostly from sheep or goats milk, the cheese was found several years ago by archaeologists in the ancient tomb of Ptahmes, who was a high-ranking Egyptian official. The substance was identified after the archaeology team carried out biomolecular identification of its proteins. This 3,200-year-old find is exciting because ... Read More »

Ancient Greek music: now we finally know what it sounded like

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In 1932, the musicologist Wilfrid Perrett reported to an audience at the Royal Musical Association in London the words of an unnamed professor of Greek with musical leanings: “Nobody has ever made head or tail of ancient Greek music, and nobody ever will. That… Armand D’Angour The Conversation Indeed, ancient Greek music has long posed a maddening enigma. Yet music was ubiquitous in classical Greece, with most of the poetry from around 750BC to 350BC – the songs of Homer, ... Read More »

Time to honour a historical legend: 50 years since the discovery of Mungo Lady

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This month we celebrate an event 50 years ago in western New South Wales that changed the course of Australian history. Jim Bowler The Conversation On July 15, 1968, the discovery of burnt bones on a remote shoreline of an unnamed lake basin began a story, the consequences of which remain sadly unfinished today. It’s the story of a legend, the discovery of Mungo Lady, the first in the series of steps that led to the creation of the Willandra ... Read More »

Point of No Return? Britain and the Elgin Marbles

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Britain’s ownership of the Parthenon Sculptures has caused controversy since they were first brought to London in the early 1800s. Ioannis D. Stefanidis History Today Keen to keep the Greeks onside, the debate became highly charged during the Second World War. Since they were first ‘acquired’ in 1816, Britain has never seriously considered returning the sculptures collectively known as the ‘Elgin Marbles’ to their place of origin. Successive governments have argued that they are better preserved and more accessible in ... Read More »

Illegal trade in antiquities: a scourge that has gone on for millennia too long

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Looting of artefacts has always been a sign of military might or economic power. Evangelos Kyriakidis The Conversation Over millennia, conquering generals would take away with them trophies to adorn their cities. In more recent centuries, the wealthy upper classes would make “grand tours” of classical sites and acquire – through whatever means – anything from vases to statues to entire temple friezes to show off at… Owning a piece of antiquity was seen as demonstrating wealth, a love of ... Read More »

How the Parthenon Came to Live in Nashville

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At first, no one expected this building to last: The Tennessee Centennial Exposition — picture something like a World’s Fair or Walt Disney World’s Epcot — was held in Nashville in 1897 and it featured a full-scale replica of the famous Parthenon in Greece. Kathryn WhitBourne Adventure – HowStuffWorks The plaster building, which fit in with Nashville’s ambition to be the “Athens of the South,” housed an art exhibition. Over six months, 1.8 million people visited the exposition, small when compared ... Read More »

Yes, we should return the Elgin Marbles—and all the other spoils of colonialism

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Returning artefacts to their rightful owners shouldn’t be a controversial argument but somehow, when it comes to British cultural institutions, it is Steve Bloomfield Prospect Sat in a sun-drenched courtyard, a senior official at a British cultural institution was explaining with some excitement how the digitisation of their archives meant that thousands of artefacts could now be viewed all around in the world. “Including in the places we stole them from,” I added. There was a pause. “That’s not the ... Read More »

UK’s Labour Party Leader Vows to Return Parthenon Marbles to Greece

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The leader of the UK’s labour party, Jeremy Corbyn, is the latest public figure to declare that colonial-era objects that were taken unlawfully should be returned to their country of origin. ArtForum If elected prime minister in the next general election, which will take place in 2022, Corbyn has pledged to return the famous Parthenon Marbles to Greece. Also known as the Elgin Marbles, the fifth-century sculptures—made under the sculptor Phidias—were taken from the Parthenon, an ancient temple dedicated to ... Read More »

Corbyn says he wants to hand the ‘stolen’ Elgin Marbles back to Greece if he becomes Prime Minister

Some of the Elgin Marbles damaged at the instigation of Sir Joseph Duveen.

Jeremy Corbyn has insisted he wants to hand the Elgin Marbles back to Greece if he becomes Prime Minister. By James Tapsfield, Political Editor For Mailonline The Labour leader made clear he viewed the ancient statues as ‘stolen’ and they should be returned. Many Parthenon sculptures have been housed in the British Museum since 1816 after they were bought by the government from Lord Elgin. Greece has long campaigned for their repatriation, but supporters insist they were purchased legitimately and ... Read More »

Jeremy Corbyn would give British Museum’s Elgin Marbles back to Greece

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The UK should start “constructive talks with the Greek government on the return of the sculptures”, Mr Corbyn says. SkyNews Jeremy Corbyn has said he would give the Elgin Marbles back to Greece if he became prime minister. The Labour leader told Greek newspaper Ta Nea “the Parthenon sculptures belong to Greece” when asked whether he would consider returning the carved figures and stelae. The Parthenon sculptures, as they are also called, have been housed in the British Museum since ... Read More »