17 July 2015
Heracles, the tree in the garden of the Hesperides, and the dragon Ladon: another echo of the story of Adammu, the tree of life, and Horannu. (Antikensammlung, Munich)
In the first issue of Ancient History Magazine, I will be reviewing Adam, Eve, and the Devil. A New Beginning by Marjo Korpel and Johannes de Moor. The authors claim to have found traces of a Bronze Age myth about Adam, a serpent, and the tree of life. This is not the place to discuss their readings of Ugaritic tablets – you will have to wait for our first issue – but it is an interesting book, written by two authors who show a recommendable disrespect for disciplinary boundaries: cuneiform sources from Mesopotamia, Zoroastrian stories, Greek mythology, and Biblical texts are combined. Iconographic evidence is taken into account as well.
The protagonist in the Ugaritic myth is a snake-god named Horranu or Hilalu. After losing a conflict with the supreme god, he is cast out of heaven, and falls down in the south-Syrian region that is still known as the Hauran. To avenge himself, he posits himself as a giant serpent in the Ugaritic equivalent of the Garden of Eden, threatening to poison the tree of life. Immortality is now in peril and the gods send one of them, Adammu, to kill the serpent, but he loses the fight. In the end, a kind of compromise is found: death has become inevitable, but immortality remains possible by procreation.
[Read more on the blog of Ancient History Magazine.]
9 April 2015
Statue of a Hatrene nobleman. This is a cast in the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum in Mainz; the original is in the Baghdad Museum, which was recently reopened.
Yes, they are shocking, those images of the destruction of the museum of Mosul and the vandalism in Hatra. Still, I would suggest that you don’t pay attention to it. There are three reasons to ignore the news, sad though it is.
(1) Let’s be glad that the members of the so-called Islamic State are wasting their time destroying antiquities instead of human lives.
(2) We only see what is shown. Although it is terrible that ancient statues are destroyed, they are quite often well-documented. We know what is lost. The real problem is that there are illegal excavations and that the museums’ storerooms have been looted. The objects thus acquired are sold and we do not know what is lost. We don’t have footage of the clandestine trade – which funds ISIS – in ancient art. The footage shown to us, is a decoy.
(3) Let’s focus on the real news: Tikrit has been reconquered. Because the so-called Islamic State does not like that news, it shared a movie of the vandalism in Hatra. (Compare ISIS’ response to its defeat at Kobani: broadcasting the execution of Muath Al-Kassasbeh.) Because we are shocked – as we ought to be! – we start telling others and share the footage on social media. By doing so, we become unwitting allies of the so-called Islamic State, because we’re helping to distract from the fact that ISIS is suffering defeats and is forced to retreat.
If you feel outrage, the best thing to do is NOT share the news. If you want to do something, write a letter to a politician and call for legislation to stop the illicit trade of ancient artifacts.
[Originally on the website of Ancient History Magazine]
22 March 2015
Some time ago, I blogged about the new project of Karwansaray, the publisher of a/o Ancient Warfare: a new magazine about Antiquity with the admittedly predictable name Ancient History Magazine. I wrote that once the trial issue was ready, we would try to raise money with a Kickstarter campaign.
Well, you can download the trial issue here and you can find the Kickstarter there.
That’s all I really wanted to say. But, you may ask, why should you be interested in another new magazine? And why should you contribute to it?
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28 February 2015
I already wrote about the new magazine about the ancient world which Karwansaray Publishers wants to launch. The website is now online: here.
The PDF with the trial issue will soon be available too. It contains articles on a Greek in Egypt, a recently-published papyrus that seems to document a scene from Alexander’s campaign to the east, and Trajan’s Markets.
On the cover, you won’t see a museum piece or a ruin, as is customary on archaeological magazines. We’ve chosen a drawing of a scene from Trajan’s Markets. After all, our magazine is about the ancient world, and not about “the ancient world as seen by archaeologists” or “the ancient world as seen by classicists”. A drawing is a good way to show the world in which it all started: urban life, writing, states, monotheism, science, literature.
Please visit the website here.
22 January 2015
Ancient Warfare. The new magazine will also contain original artwork.
Last week, I posted that we are thinking about starting a new magazine devoted more generally to ancient history. This new magazine will be similar to Ancient Warfare, so each issue will be devoted to a particular theme, have well-written articles from contributors all over the world, and will be illustrated in full colour using photos of ancient buildings and objects (we have a vast collection of original photographs that allow us to show you stuff you’ve probably never seen before!), as well as custom artwork.
You can read more here.
15 January 2015
One of the covers of Ancient Warfare. Perhaps the new magazine will look like this.
Karwansaray, the publisher of a/o Ancient Warfare, has plans for a new magazine on Antiquity. You may wonder: don’t we have many magazines about Antiquity? The surprising answer is that they are quite rare. Archaeologists have journals about their perspective on the ancient world. There are magazines about the classics. There are magazines about the ancient Near East. There are magazines about Greece and Rome. But magazines about the ancient world are pretty rare.
So the general idea is to make something that connects all ancient regions and all kinds of scholars. Like Ancient Warfare, it will be lavishly illustrated, journalistic, bimonthly, and devoted to a theme. “Thrace” and “creation stories” come to mind, but of course everything else is possible. Unlike Ancient Warfare, it may be 60 pages or a bit more. The editors will be Josho Brouwers and Jona Lendering, and we’re not completely sure whether it should be called “Ancient History Magazine“.
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4 May 2014
Centuries after the destruction of Troy, its mighty walls still stood, eight meters high. Its sanctuaries and well house were recognizable. It is easy to imagine how the shepherds on the plain were impressed and told stories about the ancient city. Once, there had been a terrible war, they will have said, and the warriors had been people of superhuman strength. Not even those heroes, however, could have built the walls: they were not made by men but by gods.
Gods, heroes, and century-old ruins: that was all that a poet like Homer knew about Bronze Age Troy, the background of his Iliad. Other bards sung about Knossos, Mycenae, and Thebes, and in their poems we can also recognize echoes from the fourteenth and thirteenth century BCE. Echoes, only echoes: the poems were largely fictitious. The Aegean Bronze Age civilization was almost completely forgotten.
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