The Hierakonpolis painting and the Gebel el Arak knife by the blog Sumerian Shakespeare.

Watercolour from Tomb 100 at Hierakonpolis. Image source Quibell and Green 1902.
The following serves as an illustration of the pitfalls of writing beyond your knowledge base and also for talking to people who are experts in another area if you can’t be bothered doing the required amount of study yourself.  And incidentally, that free access to books online is pretty much useless when this only provides outdated research.
It is possibly also a recommendation not to write and drink at the same time.  But this is more of a guideline.
For some reason the amateur history blog Sumerian Shakespeare who writes up ancient Mesopotamian topics took it upon themselves to critique objects from Predynastic Egypt in two of their posts.  In the past I had assumed this blog was an adequate if unimaginative introduction to Mesopotamian culture for keen learners, but with the added bonus of nice pictures that are credited.  I have since altered this stance.
Now I find their blog shallowly researched, …

Modern crimes against ancient goddesses

Before I begin I want to get something clear: I am an archaeologist who specialises in Near Eastern/Egyptian iconography, BUT, I have also been a professional artist for my entire adult life, so I am an enormous fan of modern reception of the ancient Near East.I even run a fb group for this and make reception pieces myself, it is fun.
What I am not a fan of, is the proliferation of modern reception being used as examples of the real thing on Pinterest, Wiki, and a multitude of Christian and neo-pagan blogs and websites (plus some pseudo-history pages that purport to educate the masses).
This post will look at some viral ‘fake’ artefacts on the interweebs.They are not really originally fakes, btw… I assume the artists will have probably made them as freestanding artworks and as homage.
Other people have turned the copies into fakes by taking the image out of context.However, most of these images are so prolific that their original artist is long forgotten.Basically, because the indivi…

Bullshit Memes #1: Ancient ʽMysterious’ Handbags

Chlorite weight from Jiroft in eastern Iran, mid 3rd millennium.  National Museum of Iran.
Image Wikipedia

Bullshit Memes #1: Ancient ʽMysterious’ Handbags
Or how some people really can’t see past their own subjective experience, and will buy any old tat because it looks cool and often has mysterious in the title.
Yes I just did that.

The answer is ‘completely different objects’.
Left.  This Neo-Assyrian (1st millennium, 9th century BC) relief from Iraq has a winged protective Apkallu divinity who is holding a ritual bucket filled with a libation liquid.The image is a two dimensional interpretation of a circular bucket with a handle that is viewed in profile.The pine cone he holds is dipped into it, so that he can sprinkle the liquid.
Middle.  The jackal headed figure is the Egyptian god of mummification Anubis from a wall in the burial chamber of Tutankhamen’s tomb (2nd mill., 14th century BC).He is holding an amulet, the symbol of life, the ankh, that is really not in any known uni…

Trust no-one: The ‘MacGregor Box’

Illustration of the MacGregor box from Naville 1898.
Reverend William MacGregor (1848‒1937) was a British industrialist and antiquities collector during the late 1800s to early 1900s. He was an active member of the Egyptian Exploration Society and being cashed up and keen he also funded excavations in Egypt. This naturally gave him access to archaeological finds (in the good ol’ days of treasure hunting, sponsors got to keep many of the objects that were found).  But equally the gentleman was an avid collector from other less reputable sources.
His Egyptian collection was set up in a private museum in his mansion in the early 1900s and later dispersed through the dealer Sotheby’s in the early 1920s. The MacGregor box that is my topic here was at that time sold to a private collector, passing through various hands, ultimately ending up in the Museum of Fine Arts Boston in the USA in 1949.It has no provenience (excavation history) and therefore no context or date.Yet it has nonetheless …

Inana and Easter

And they call Christmas the silly season

My tetchy response to the poorly researched yet viral meme that  does the rounds on Facebook each year

The Mesopotamian Blues

I have a problem with using modern words when talking about ancient topics.Admittedly it is impossible to write a coherent article in English without using words specific to my language.  However, that being said, the foremost problem that I have is the outcome of studying a foolish amount of dead languages (and a couple of live ones).  So that, as a result, I am only too well aware that you cannot translate single words directly across cultures.
Different cultures and their languages frame language differently.They don’t just frame it differently, they have whole different meaning ranges for words that a modern dictionary might arbitrarily choose to translate one on one, or provide three similes for.This is particularly problematic for abstract or quasi-abstract concepts.After all, a concrete noun like ‘cow’ is more or less a large female mammal with horns in any language, although subtleties and genus might vary.However, concepts like colour, which is an idea imposed on a mechani…