Wednesday, August 31, 2005


The Yale Group for the Study of Native America invites submissions for an upcoming conference:

Pathways 2006: Cultural Intersections in "Native North America"
April 7-9, 2006, in New Haven, CT.

The goals of this conference are: to provide a comfortable forum for graduate students working at the intersection of American Indian or Alaska Native Studies and other Ethnic and Area Studies, such as African American Studies, Asian American Studies, and Latin American Studies, to share their work, and to foster student-to-student and student-to-professional relationships by encouraging networking and community-building for those working across traditional disciplinary boundaries.

Areas of study may include but are not limited to: History, Literature and Theatre Studies, Anthropology, Law and Policy, and the Arts. Papers may present a portion of the student’s original research, demonstrate emergent theoretical and methodological approaches, or advance pedagogical strategies for reaching students across departmental divides.

Individual paper proposals (rather than panels) are preferred. We are especially desirous of papers that demonstrate and discuss emergent approaches in the study of Native North America, and/or those that demonstrate an active involvement with Native communities. In order to foster a regionally diverse community of graduate student presenters, travel expenses will be paid for students whose papers are selected.

CVs and abstracts of no more than one page should be submitted by October 15, 2005 to: or
Pathways 2006
c/o Rosalinda Garcia
Yale College Dean's Office
P.O. Box 208241
New Haven, CT 06520-8241

For more information, please visit Yale's website:

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Lost Roman Treasure on NOVA

In case you missed tonight's NOVA on PBS:

Before large portions of it disappeared in the year 2000 beneath the rising waters of a new reservoir on the Euphrates River, the ancient city of Zeugma yielded one of the richest troves of Roman mosaics ever uncovered, including that of the gods Poseidon, Oceanus, and Tethys. Now undergoing restoration at Turkey's Gaziantep Museum, the well-preserved mosaics depict a wide variety of mythological scenes and individuals. You can view ten of the finest mosaics, many of which teams retrieved at the eleventh hour. Note that all names of gods and other mythological characters are the Greek names. Go to and click NOVA and "Lost Roman Treasure."

The "fly-through" of the 14-room Roman villa that housed many of these mosaics gives you a good idea of how beautiful these were and how great that at least these were saved. A friend of mine who has seen them says they are even better than they look in the film.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


As I've mentioned on a previous posting, I'm very concerned with the Science and Religion problems that are affecting the education of young people in this country. There's an excellent letter in yesterday's NY Times (Aug. 24) that I quote herewith (from Leon T. Rosenberg, emeritus professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford University School of Medicine):

"Politicized Scientists Put Evolution on the Defensive" ("A Debate Over Darwin" series, front page Aug. 21):
While the headline proclaims that evolutionists are on the defensive, scientists with a sense of public responsibility are properly resisting the efforts of the creationsists of whatever stripe to subvert the scientific education of Americans.
It is entirely possibly that with a sufficient expenditure of money, the country can be set back several centuries in its scientific education and made the laughingstock of the rest of the world.
Dangerous idelogies sometimes win for a while; witness Germany in the 1930's. Unfortunately, the evolution of ideas is not as well understood and is much more difficult to study than the evolution of life forms.
Those of us with faith in science and human intelligence will continue to speak out against attempts to destroy scientific education in the public schools."

I would add in the public forum -- private institutions as well! Great comment... let me know if you agree or if you don't, why?

Saturday, August 20, 2005


Archaeologist Manfred Osman Korfmann, 63, passed away last week. He was the excavation leader at the site of Troy for the past 17 years and was highly regarded. A lecturer at Germany's Tubingen Unversity he was known for his diligent work and new discoveries at Troy.

Friday, August 19, 2005

"ROME" is coming

HBO is presenting ROME starting August 28. From the Republic to the Dictatorship, with glimpses of Julius Caesar, Antony and others. The previews in the movie house looked awful but no reviews yet. We'll keep posted on that.


A prominent Israeli archaeologist claims to have uncovered the ancient palace of King David near the Old City of Jersalem. Following a six month dig at the site, Dr. Eilat Mazar (granddaughter of renowned archaeologist Benjamin Mazar) has stirred international interest that this could possibly be the Biblical palace built for the victorious King David by King Hiram of Tyre as recounted in Samuel II:5.

This is the same site that Kathleen Kenyon dug in the 1960s and Israeli archaeologist Yigal Shilo dug in the 1970s and 80s. Kenyon thought she had uncovered part of a Solomonic contstruction site added on to the City of David. Shilo found more of these stones nearby. And 80 years ago, Irish archaeologist Rober Macalister attributed the huge boulders to the ruins of the Jebusite city wall that King David broke as he conquered the city in about 1000 BC.

Now with the help of a $500,000 grant, Mazar and her team have peeled away the fallen stones, revealing what lay immediately underneath the boulders. She is convinced that the stones were not a ruined city wall but rather the ruins of an immense 3,000 year old building which was surprisingly well preserved. Inside were a variety of pottery shards dating back to King David and his son Solomons's time as well as a government seal impression of an official (Jehucal son of Shelemiah, son of Shevi) who is named twice in the book of Jeremiah (37.3 and 38.1).

Not all the experts are convinced. Seymour Gitlin, Director of Jersalem's W.F. Albright Institute says," This is an extremely impressive find, and the first of its kind which can be assoicated with the 10th century(BC). But due to all the possible historical implications, we need to look carefully at the pottery and to further excavate the area."

Stay tuned!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Delightful mystery!

“Bound for Eternity”
A Lisa Donahue Mystery
By Sarah Wisseman
Delightful little mystery (in paper) that highlights the goings on in a museum, setting up an Egyptian exhibit with mummies and artifacts and wow! -- a couple of murders of the staff by a staff member! Lisa becomes the reluctant sleuth.

I especially liked this because the heroine and narrator Lisa Donahue is a charmer, a single mother (young widow) organizing her life as a curator, looking for a man and being a good mom to a tyke. Having worked in a museum and rubbed shoulders with curators, I thought this gave you a good idea of the confusion that reigns! I was amused that she mentions Professor Bob Brier as the organizer of the mummy-making at the University of Maryland! Lots of fun for $15.95!

Friday, August 12, 2005

Time Magazine Cover Story

Here are a few paragraphs from Time, reacting to President's Bush comment that Intelligent Design should be taught along side Evolution. For the whole story see the url at the end. What's sad and a problem for this country is the BAD education young people are getting in some parts of the nation. I personally hope to continue to interact in the schools of the Tri-State area with our Prehistoric People Program, originally conceived at UCLA. This will be our 30th year of bringing stone age tools, on loan from UCLA's Fowler Museum, to classrooms. We've reached about 55,000 kids!

From Time Magazine Aug. 15, 2005
The Evolution Wars
When Bush joined the fray last week, the question grew hotter: Is "intelligent design" a real science? And should it be taught in schools?

Many scientists have been reluctant to engage in a debate with advocates of intelligent design because to do so would legitimize the claim that there's a meaningful debate about evolution. "I'm concerned about implying that there is some sort of scientific argument going on. There's not," says noted British biologist Richard Dawkins, professor of the public understanding of science at Oxford University, whose most recent book about evolution is The Ancestor's Tale. He and other scientists say advocates of intelligent design do not play by the rules of science. They do not publish papers in peer-reviewed journals, and their hypothesis cannot be tested by research and the study of evidence. Indeed, Behe concedes, "You can't prove intelligent design by an experiment." Dawkins compares the idea of teaching intelligent-design theory with teaching flat earthism-- perfectly fine in a history class but not in science. He says, "If you give the idea that there are two schools of thought within science--one that says the earth is round and one that says the earth is flat--you are misleading children."

Scientists say it is, in fact, easy to gainsay the intelligent-design folks. Take Behe's argument about complexity, for example. "Evolution by natural selection is a brilliant answer to the riddle of complexity because it is not a theory of chance," explains Dawkins. "It is a theory of gradual, incremental change over millions of years, which starts with something very simple and works up along slow, gradual gradients to greater complexity. Not only is it a brilliant solution to the riddle of complexity; it is the only solution that has ever been proposed." To attribute nature's complexity to an intelligent designer merely removes the origin of complexity to the unseen designer. "Who designs the designer?" asks Dawkins.

As for gaps in the fossil record, Dawkins says, that is like detectives complaining that they can't account for every minute of a crime--a very ancient one--based on what they found at the scene. "You have to make inferences from footprints and other types of evidence." As it happens, he notes, there is a huge amount of evidence of evolution not only in the fossil record but also in the letters of the genetic code shared in varying degrees by all species. "The pattern," says Dawkins, "is precisely what you would expect if evolution would happen." Dawkins insists that critics of Darwin are wrong to say that evolution has become an article of faith among scientists. He cites biologist J.B.S. Haldane who, when asked what would disprove evolution, replied, fossil rabbits in the Precambrian era, a period more than 540 million years ago, when life on Earth seems to have consisted largely of bacteria, algae and plankton. "Creationists are fond of saying that there are very few fossils in the Precambrian, but why would there be?" asks Dawkins. "However, if there was a single hippo or rabbit in the Precambrian, that would completely blow evolution out of the water. None have ever been found.",9171,1090909-7,00.html

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


I've found some interesting sites on line that you might want to investigate. Did you know you can find archaeology courses on line? There a good-looking British one but ok for U.S. students as well:

There's an intriguing one called Archaeology for Amateurs (AllLearn) from University of Oxford, Stanford and Yale. They are promoting "The Mysteries of Crete" for Spring '06 -- this is listed on the above url.

Take a look at that home site as there are lots of possibilities: Egyptology, Indians of No. America (Penn State), Introduction to Museum Studies, Ancient/Classical Studies.

Imagine... learning as you sit at home!! Glad I'm not teaching Continuing Ed any more... lots of competition out there!

Sunday, August 07, 2005


Going to Rome? There's a new exhibit "The Mystery Cults of Greek and Roman Antiquity" on the 2nd level of Rome's Collosseum. The display, accompanied by light and sound, documents many unofficial and secret religious rituals, some of whose traditions are still practiced today. There are more than 70 statues, frescoes, Greek urns, bas-reliefs and idols discovered in central and Southern Italy. Many of the statues on view are women such as the oracles and Isis (imported from Egypt). Men are represented from the Mithras cult as that was a men-only religion. (source: NPR Sunday morning, Reporter Sylvia Poggioli August 7, 2005

Saturday, August 06, 2005


"Kids are Scientist Too" Camp is sponsored by the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History and the Connecticut Archaeology Center at UConn. This summer they have been conducting an archaeological investigation at the former site of an 18th century home on the university's campus. The home, that probably dates to about 1729, was burned to the ground as a training exrercise for firemen in 1976 after the university realized it would be far too expensive to repair --- but they didn't realize the historical value of the house.

The site, supervised by State Archaeologist Nicholas Bellantoni, boasts a camp director, Cheri Collins, who has made the dig as realistic as possible for her students who range from those in grades five through ten. Just like real archaeologists, the students measure how deep in the soil they are digging, store their discoveries in labeled plastic bags, use precise digging techniques and record the weather and temperature in a notebook before digging each morning.

Mock digs (where instructors bury artifacts) that many archaeologists use around the country are just not as exciting. This is not only an educational exercise but the notes will go into the state's archaeology archives for future researchers to peruse. Kids are quoted as saying, "What I've learned is treasure doesn't have to be gold or a diamond... even a small nail can teach us a lot about history." Another kid got the idea as well: "If we threw away one piece of coal, it would be like throwing away history."

Need further info? Contact State Archaeologist Nick Bellantoni at

Thursday, August 04, 2005

200th anniversary of Lewis & Clark

These few weeks in August (August 1 - 17) mark the 200th anniversary of the year that Lewis & Clark and their "Corps of Discovery" met Sacagawea's Indian family (the Shoshone or Snake Indians).. You'll remember Sacagawea was their inerpreter and guide. I first came across the name when my family took me to a Dude Ranch in Idaho when I was 7 years old and Sacagawea was the name of my horse. I've always been a great fan of hers.

There are some nice excerpts from the diary of Merriwether Lewis in the August 2005 Smithsonian. My favorite:
..."We soon drew near to the camp, and just as we approached it a woman made her way through the crowd towards Sacajawea, and recognising each other, they embraced with most tender affection. The meeting of these two young women had in it something peculiarly touching, not only in the ardent manner in which their feelings were expressed, but from the real interest of their situation. They had been companions in childhood, in the war with the Minnetarees they had both been taken prisoners in the same battle, they had shared and softened the rigours of their captivity, till one of them had escaped...[When trade negotiatios were read] Sacajawea was sent for; she came into the tent, sat down, and was beginning to interpret, when in the person of [Chief) Cameahwait she recognized her brother: she instantly jumped up, and ran and embraced himm throwing over him her blanket and weeping profusely.. Do look for the entire episode on p. 25 of the Smithsonian Magazine or in the many versions of the Lewis and Clark journey of discovery....

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


Have you ever seen those stunning skulls carved out of rock crystal? They are in a number of major museums. I think I saw the one at the British Museum and the Smithsonian National Museum of Nat'l History also has one. Here's the scoop:

For some 60 years, tall tales about crystal skulls have circulated, beginning with a colorful British banker/adventurer who said that during the 1920s he and his daughter discovered a crystal skull under the altar of a Mayan temple. He claimed it was 3600 years ago with supernatural powers and that Mayan priests wielded it to invoke gods and devils. Its curse could bring misfortune and death!

However, Jane Walsh, an anthropologist at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural history says that no one has ever excavated a carved crystal skull. And that "if you were a pre-Columbian artisan and you wanted to carve something in stone or rock crystal -- which is actually quartz -- you'd use a stone file with maybe sand as an abrasive... Modern stone carving tools have embedded abrasives and leave very different imprints in the stone."

Bottom line: Walsh says: we discovered that all of the crystal skulls had been carved with modern coated lapidary wheels using industrial diamonds and polished with modern machinery." The Smithsonian's is no longer on view! (from Inside Smithsonian Research Summer 2005)