The transformation of the Metropolis of Myra into an Ottoman village

By: Ebru Fatma Fındık
Research Assistant Hacettepe University, Faculty of Letters, Department of Art History, Beytepe, Ankara / TURKEY

Fig. 1: The house of a Turkish villager

The ancient city of Myra (mod. Demre) is situated in a plain of Lycia, surrounded by the Taurus Mountains to the north and by the Myros River (mod. Demra Çayı) to the east. Located to the south-west, on the banks of the Andrakos River, is its ancient harbour Andriake (mod. Çayağzı). The city has a large rural territory and during the Byzantine period the city had close religious, social, and economic ties with its territory (Foss 1996: 315).

Since 1989, the excavation and restoration work of the most important ecclesiastical building of the ancient city, the Church of St. Nicholas, has been carried out by the Art History Department of Hacettepe University. On the other hand, the excavations in the ancient city have been carried out by the Archaeology Department of Akdeniz University since 2009. Continue reading

The Cultural Afterlife of Mosaics in Turkey

By: Laurent Dissard, University of Pennsylvania

Sensational discoveries of mosaics periodically make the headlines of newspapers in Turkey. After being discovered, unearthed, cleaned, and removed, these ancient floors slowly make their way to museums or private collections. For this month’s ASOR Blog on the Archaeology of Anatolia, I wish to examine the curious afterlife of mosaics in, out of, and more recently, back to Turkey. I want to analyze their transformation from buried and forgotten things in the ground, to sanitized artifacts, aesthetic masterpieces, and contested objects of desire.

Unearthed in the late 1990s at Zeugma in Southeastern Turkey during rescue excavations before the construction of the Birecik Dam, the 2nd century AD mosaic below is now displayed in the newly built Mosaic Museum of Gaziantep. It shows Achilles on the island of Skyros leaving for the Trojan War. Thetis, Achilles’ mother, knowing that her son would die by joining the Greek army, dresses him as a girl and sends him to live with a king and his beautiful daughters on the island of Skyros, far away from the war.

Odysseus (R) takes Achilles (C) away from Deidameia (L)

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Basalt Connections at Zincirli Hoyuk

Basalt lion from the castle gate at Zincirli Hoyuk, in the Pergamon Museum

By: Leann Pace and Eudora Struble

When Eudora and I began graduate school together at the University of Chicago, I don’t believe either of us was planning to work on a long-term archaeological project in Turkey. Eudora was very involved with archaeology in Jordan and my limited experience led me to believe that I wanted to work on excavations in Israel. However, we were given the opportunity to join what would become the Neubauer Expedition to Zincirli. This journey began in 2006 and we are eagerly anticipating another great season in the summer of 2013. Obviously we are hooked on working at the site and on being part of the larger research community working in Turkey. Continue reading

Ethics, Archaeology, and Open Access

By: Eric Kansa

The issue of open access to scholarly works recently gained renewed attention following the tragic suicide of Aaron Swartz, an Internet activist charged with felony computer and intellectual property crimes involving the mass download of articles from JSTOR. ASOR uses JSTOR as a repository for the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (BASOR) and Near Eastern Archaeology (NEA)*.

Eric Kansa, a member of ASOR and the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) wrote the following opinion piece regarding the implications of Swartz’s death for scholarly communications in archaeology. The following reposts Eric’s discussion and a response from Fred Limp, President of the SAA. Both were originally posted here:
http://www.alexandriaarchive.org/blog/?p=891 and here: http://www.alexandriaarchive.org/blog/?p=899

Eric directs Open Context, an open data publication service for archaeology. He originally discussed open access issues in NEA (2007) with his colleagues Sarah Whitcher Kansa and Jason Schultz. He also co-edited (with Sarah Whitcher Kansa and Ethan Watrall) Archaeology 2.0, an open access book about new modes of scholarly communication published with the Cotsen Institute Press (UCLA). His most recent contributions exploring open access in archaeology are published in a special of World Archaeology (2012) edited by Mark Lake, and in the inaugural issue of the Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies (in press). Continue reading

Texts without Qumran and Qumran without Texts: Searching for the Latrines

By: James D. Tabor, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte

 On the other days they dig a small pit, a foot deep, with a paddle of the sort given them when they are first admitted among them; and covering themselves round with their garment, that they may not affront the rays of God, they ease themselves into that pit.                                                                                  Josephus War 2.148

  This paper explores the complex and shifting dynamics of comparing texts with texts, texts with “sites,” and sites with themselves, but without texts. I use the term “sites” loosely to refer to the material or archaeological evidence that may or may not be related to a given text from antiquity. I see this as an extension of Jonathan Z. Smith’s interest and fascination with  “comparisons” so evident in much of his work over the past three decades.  But more particularly I have in mind the Louis H. Jordan Lectures in Comparative Religion, delivered at the University of London in 1988, subsequently published as Divine Drudgery[1]. Fascinated by the “thick dossier of the history of the enterprise,” i.e., the comparison of “Christianities” and the religions of Late Antiquity, Smith undertakes what he calls “archaeological work in the learned literature” in order to highlight both theoretical and methodological issues. His operative question is what is “at stake” in the various comparative proposals? I am convinced that some of the same dynamics Smith finds operating in the development of the study of “Christian Origins,” namely Roman Catholic and Protestant apologetics and presuppositions, have been present from the beginning in considering the textual corpus known as the “Dead Sea Scrolls,” and in interpreting the physical site of the adjacent ruins of Qumran, as well as in the combining of the two—that is, texts and site. I want to expand a bit the comparisons of “words,” “stories,” and “settings” beyond their purely “textual” levels, and explore the methods of bringing in non-textual evidence, that is, evidence of “place.” In that sense I find Smith’s metaphor of the “archaeological” more than intriguing, and in this paper, with spade in hand (or perhaps I might say with “paddle” in hand!), I want to explore how the proverbial “mute stones” speak, or remain silent, in the presence of texts, and the ways in which the texts inform “place,” and “place” might enlighten the texts. Continue reading

2012 ASOR Annual Meeting Is a Tremendous Success

The 2012 ASOR Annual Meeting in Chicago
breaks records and is a tremendous success!

A record 925 ASOR members gathered in Chicago from November 14–17 for the 2012 ASOR Annual Meeting. The annual conference is the premier gathering for scholars, students, and lay enthusiasts who conduct research or are interested in the history and archaeology of the eastern Mediterranean region. This year there were more than 450 paper presentations on topics ranging from prehistoric to Islamic periods and the present. Topics covered everything from conservation strategies and the archaeology of Anatolia to current issues in biblical archaeology. While all of the papers were presented in English, many languages could be heard in the hallways with scholars in attendance from Iran, Turkey, Cyprus, Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Australia, Asia, Europe, North American, South America, and Central America. The event truly has become the premier international conference of the year for the history and archaeology of the eastern Mediterranean. Continue reading

Cyprus: Interconnections in the Late Bronze Age (ca. 1700-1100 BC)

By: A. Bernard Knapp
Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute, 11 Andreas Demetriou, 1066 Nicosia, Cyprus. Email.

Throughout its long prehistory and protohistory, the island of Cyprus was strategically situated between the cultures of ancient western Asia and the Aegean, if not those of the central Mediterranean. As a consequence, in literature both academic and popular, the island is frequently referred to as a ‘crossroads of civilizations’. This is especially the case for the Late Bronze Age (henceforth LBA, between ca. 1700-1100 BC), but it also holds true for the Iron Age, the Hellenistic and Roman periods, the Medieval and even the modern eras, albeit in very different ways.Cyprus

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Protecting, Preserving, and Presenting Cultural Heritage in Petra: The Temple of the Winged Lions Cultural Resource Management Initiative

treasury, petra, tweissi

Figure 1: Petra’s most famous icon, the Al-Khazne (‘the Treasury’) tomb façade with tourist camel riders (Q. Tweissi).

By: Christopher A. Tuttle

Two hundred years ago, on 22 August 1812, the ancient city of Petra was re-identified by the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, the first European on record to have visited the site since the 13thcentury. Word of his discovery quickly spread and other visitors soon followed in his footsteps—inaugurating a bicentennial of exploration and research at this amazing site located in what is today southern Jordan.

Petra served as the capitol city for the kingdom of Nabataea from at least the second century BCE until Trajan’s annexation of the region into the Roman Empire in 106 CE. Under Roman rule, the city retained its importance and became the administrative center for the new province of Arabia Petraea. Although heavily damaged by a major earthquake in May 363 CE, the city continued to play a significant role in the region during the Byzantine period when it served as an episcopal see of the Christian church. Continue reading

Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project receives 3-year NEH Funding

Aaron A. Burke and Martin Peilstöcker, the directors of The Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project, are pleased to announce the receipt of a 3-year National Endowment for the Humanities Collaborative Grant for excavations in Jaffa from 2013 to 2015.

Aerial photo showing the destruction of the Amarna period Egyptian gate complex in Jaffa

Aerial photo showing the destruction of the Amarna period Egyptian gate complex in Jaffa. (Photo courtesy of Aaron Burke)

The project is titled “Insurgency, Resistance, and Interaction: Archaeological Inquiry into New Kingdom Egyptian Rule in Jaffa.”

Since 2007 the Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project has brought to light the results of earlier excavations from 1955 to 1974 in Jaffa (Tel Yafo) by Jacob Kaplan, the municipal archaeologist of Tel Aviv-Jaffa. One of the primary objectives of this project was to provide a baseline for renewed archaeological exploration of Jaffa in which modern data collection methods and analytical techniques are employed to improve our understanding of the site and its population.

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A Roman Fort Amidst the Dunes: The ‘Ayn Gharandal Archaeological Project

By: Erin Darby and Robert Darby

Figure 1: Map of southern Jordan with ‘Ayn Gharandal

Located in southern Jordan, the archaeological site of ‘Ayn Gharandal lies covered by the desolate sands of the Wadi Araba (Fig. 1). Even though the site is located near an ancient spring, Lawrence (of Arabia) described the Araba Valley as follows: “Every few hours’ journey a greener patch marks a stagnant hole of water, which is always nasty to drink, in part from its own sedgy taste, and in part from the mixed flavors added to it by… camels (Woolley and Lawrence 1915: 13).” Noting that the Wadi Araba contained minimal archaeological remains, Lawrence ended his survey of the valley at ‘Ayn Gharandal and headed toward Petra.

Figure 2: Picture of ‘Ayn Gharandal fort prior to excavation

Continue reading

ASOR Recognized in Partners in Conservation Award

Teachers at the Harvard Semitic Museum in 2008

By: Ellen D. Bedell
ASOR Outreach Committee (Former Chair)

Project Archaeology, a program developed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and currently affiliated with Montana State University, won a Secretary of the Interior’s Partnership in Conservation Award in 2011. ASOR recently received a certificate signed by Ken Salazar, the Secretary of the Interior, recognizing the ASOR Outreach Committee as a partner in this award. Continue reading

April Theme: Fakes, Looting, and Artifacts Lacking Context

The ASOR Blog (asorblog.org) is pleased to announce a new “theme” for the month of April—Unprovenanced Artifacts and Possible Forgeries. The ASOR Blog will continue to post other items of interest that are submitted by the ASOR Staff and ASOR Members, but (just like we did in March) we will solicit posts on the “theme” for the month and also encourage unsolicited submissions on the theme from our membership. The guest editors for the month will be ASOR executive director Andy Vaughn (asored@bu.edu) and Professors Lynn Swartz Dodd (swartz@usc.edu) and Christopher Rollston (crollston@ecs.edu). Submissions should be sent to Andy Vaughn with a CC to Kevin Cooney (asorpubs@bu.edu). Continue reading

Comments from Prof. Steven Fine on the “Jesus Discovery”

I was a member of a team assembled last summer by a major media outlet to evaluate this project. Sitting in a stately conference room, Mr. Jacobovici, Professor Tabor and Professor Charlesworth presented their discoveries for the consideration of an internationally renowned group of scholars. The members of the evaluating team then offered our professional evaluations of this project. Continue reading

Prof. Robin Jensen Refutes Any Claim that She Concurs with the Interpretation in “The Jesus Discovery”

From Prof. Robin Jensen, Vanderbilt University

In December, 2010, I was asked to participate in a National Geographic film project that—I was led to believe—would investigate the image of Jonah in early Christian art. I was asked to fly to Rome in January in order to be filmed in the catacombs and comment on the figure of Jonah as it appeared in the iconographic décor of those underground cemeteries. It was made clear that my expertise in ancient Christian art, especially in regard to representations of Jonah, was the reason for this invitation.
Continue reading

Eric Meyers’ review of “The New Jesus Discovery”

Review of “The New Jesus Discovery”
(Simon and Schuster 2012, ISBN 978-1-4516-5040-2)
Eric M.Meyers, Duke University

For nearly two millennia Christians have venerated the site believed to be where Jesus was buried. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher was built at a place where liturgical celebrations were held in honor of Christ’s death and resurrection, even before the destruction of the temple in 70 CE. Emperor Hadrian in 135 CE built his Capitoline temple there, and a shrine to Aphrodite was built adjacent to it. Constantine, the first emperor to embrace Christianity (in the 4th c. CE), decided to build a church there to commemorate the Resurrection. The temple was thus torn down; construction of Constantine’s church began in 326, and the church was dedicated in 335 CE according to Eusebius of Caesarea (Life of Constantine, 3:28). No other site in all Christendom has been more venerated and more often authenticated than the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Nonetheless, on the basis of very little evidence James Tabor and Simcha Jacobovici would have us throw all of this tradition away and identify a Jewish family tomb in East Talpiot, several kilometers south of the Old City on the road to Bethlehem, as the “new” family tomb of Jesus.

Continue reading

Meyers and Rollston are guest editors for ASOR’s coverage of the “New Jesus Discovery”

Professors Eric Meyers and Christopher Rollston will be the guest editors of the ASOR Blog for the month of March. ASOR plans to invite scholars in ASOR and the field to react to the proposals made by Professor James Tabor and Filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici in their new book, The New Jesus Discovery. The ASOR Blog will host responses from scholars throughout the month of March, and these responses will be moderated by Meyers and Rollston. The discussion will start today (Tuesday, February 28th) with several posts from Meyers and Rollston: Continue reading

BASOR 363 (August 2011) available online for subscribers

ASOR is pleased to announce that BASOR 363 (August 2011) has been posted online at Atypon Link. This issue (and 4 years of back issues) is available to BASOR online subscribers and members who have chosen an online subscription as part of their membership.

You may access the table of contents for free here (members and subscribers will have complete access):

http://www.atypon-link.com/ASOR/toc/basor/363/august+2011

The issue contains articles by Sharon R. Steadman (“Take Me to Your Leader: The Power of Place in Prehistoric Anatolian Settlements”), Itzhaq Shai, Aren M. Maeir, David Ilan and Joe Uziel (“The Iron Age Remains at Tel Nagila”), and Eyal Regev “Royal Ideology in the Hasmonaean Palaces in Jericho”), and Benjamin Adam Saidel (“The Camera and the Pipe: Adjusting the Terminus Ante Quem of the Red-Slipped and Burnished Disc-Base Tobacco Pipes from Suba, Israel”).

The issue contains reviews by Edward B. Banning, Catherine Commenge, Louise Steel, Bill T. Arnold, and Pauline Albenda.

As a reminder, ASOR members who have chosen an online subscription receive the current year’s journals plus the last 4 years of ASOR journals as part of their subscription. For details on ASOR membership and how to get access to BASOR, JCS, and NEA, please see the following URL:

http://www.asor.org/updates/atypon-online.html

16th Annual Graduate Symposium-call for papers

The Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations’ Graduate Students Association (University of Toronto) presents…

The 16th Annual Graduate Symposium—Open Call for Papers
Near and Middle Eastern Studies in the Midst of Revolution
March 5-6, 2012
Deadline: January 9, 2012

http://sites.google.com/site/nmcgsagradsymposium/

The Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations Graduate Students Association of the University of Toronto invites proposals for the 16th Annual Graduate Symposium to be held on March 5-6, 2012. Since 1997, the NMCGSA Symposium has provided the opportunity for promising graduate students to share their original research with the broader scholarly community in a conference-like forum, and to publish their presentations as proceedings. By annually bringing together specialists in archaeology, history (both modern and ancient), anthropology, comparative literature, religion, philosophy, art, and political science, the symposium provides a unique opportunity for interdisciplinary discourse focused on the study of the Near and Middle East. The 2012 symposium aims to highlight this diversity in order to foster communication and exchange across disciplinary boundaries. While we encourage submissions that are related to the recent Arab Spring movements, we are nevertheless open to any variety of topics that pertain to the realm of Near and Middle Eastern Studies. We are also open to reviewing unorthodox proposals.

Submitting a Paper: Presenters are asked to submit an abstract of 250 words by e-mail attachment no later than January 9, 2012. Submissions should also include the following information in the body of the email: presenters name, program (M.A, Ph.D.), year of study, research focus, university/department, complete address, telephone number, email address, title of paper, and audio-visual requirements. Presentations must not exceed 20 minutes. The abstracts will be reviewed by committee and presenters will be informed of their acceptance no later than February 8, 2012. For purposes of anonymous adjudication, please do NOT include your name or other identification on the abstract attachment. If your paper is being submitted as part of a proposed panel or considered under a specific theme, please include the panel title or the proposed theme under the title of the paper on the abstract.

In order to foster greater scholarly dialogue, partial funding will be made available to five graduate students from North American universities to assist with travel costs. For eligibility please visit the symposium web site.

Please send us your submissions via the following e-mail address: nmcgsasymposium@gmail.com

 

ASOR annual meeting supersaver rates end Sept 23

ASOR’s annual meeting supersaver rates end at midnight on Friday, September 23 when most registration fees will increase $30. Please register for the annual meeting by following the link on the ASOR home page (www.asor.org).

ASOR has secured additional rooms over the annual meeting dates at the Westin St. Francis Hotel. Please book your room online by following the link on the ASOR home page. Please note that making your hotel reservations and conference registration are two separate steps.

Please do not hesitate to contact the ASOR office by phone at 617-353-6570 or at asormtgs@bu.edu should you have any questions. We look forward to seeing you in San Francisco this November.

 

Anson Rainey (z’l)

ASOR received the sad news that Prof. Anson F. Rainey (z’l), emeritus professor at Tel Aviv University, passed away today (Saturday, February 19, 2011). The funeral will be tomorrow (Sunday). The details were not immediately available.

Anson was a long-time, loyal ASOR member and one of the most accomplished scholars of Semitic languages in the history of our field. For me personally, he was a beloved teacher, adviser, and friend as well as a grandfather figure who cared deeply for my family and me. While his contributions to the field will live on for generations, he will be missed by many. An obituary will appear in a future ASOR publication, but we wanted to share this news immediately in the ASOR Blog.

Posted by Andy Vaughn (ASOR executive director)