Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Archive in Paper

December 20, 2010 Comments off

If you want a paper version of the archive, you can download it here:

Categories: Uncategorized

The Archive

December 20, 2010 Comments off

This website represents an archive of the posts prepared for the Archaeology of the Mediterranean World Blog from 2007-2010. I am no long curating this archive meaning that links and media may no longer function properly. I have made no effort to reproduce or capture the network that these blog posts relied upon for significance or meaning. The links preserved in the posts, however, may provide a kind of breadcrumbs from a future researcher. The Internet Archive captured three images of my blog in 2007:

October 16, 2007: (

November 12, 2007: (

December 24, 2007: (

The blog began in the spring of 2007 and continued until the end of 2010.  It consists of 857 posts and 455 comments.  During its time live at, it received well over 110,000 views and had an average of over 80 page views a day.  These are miniscule numbers in the broader world of the internet, but they do show that the blog had a consistent audience and grew steadily over its life.

As of this writing, a print version of this archive exists and is available online. A permanent archival copy (in print and in digital form) will be archived in the University Archives at the Elwyn B. Robinson Department of Special Collections at the Chester Fritz Library on the campus of the University of North Dakota.

I continue to blog at the New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World.

Creative Commons License
Archaeology of the Mediterranean World Archive: Volume 1 by William R. Caraher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Categories: Uncategorized

Friday Varia and Quick Hits

It’s another beautiful Friday morning in the Archaeology of the Mediterranean World Blogcast area.  So it seems like a good time for another exuberant gaggle of quick hits and varia:

  • Melissa Terras’ Digitial Humanities 2010 Plenary talk (Present, Not Voting: Digital History in the Panopticon) is among the best, recent “state-of-the-field” talks about Digital Humanities.  It is equal parts optimism and critique and any digital humanities project could take something away from it.
  • Harvard’s Center of Geographic Analysis, AfricaMap is a nice combination of of GIS, online distribution, gobs of data, and a user-friendly interface. It’s not overly flashy and has all the feel of something that almost anyone with a modest budget, time, and data could do (in other words, accessible), and at the same time is built on a robust, and “lightly” customized Open Source foundation.  The spelling mistakes on the “About” page actually add charm.
  • Apparently the colon, the punctuation mark not that body part, has come under some intense scrutiny lately.  The changing role of punctuation in the media has an almost immediate “trickle down” influence into how students use punctuation.  The new evil: the rise of the jumper colon.
  • I missed some things being out of the country.  Here is Yannis Hamilakis’ most recent thoughts on post-colonialism and archaeology: “Are we Postcolonial Yet? Tales from the Battlefield“. It was delivered at the Theoretical Archaeology Group meeting in May.
  • I’ve follow enough cricket to know that this match won’t get more interesting, but I am still naive enough to think that Pakistan could put together some kind of rally and do something spectacular.  As of lunch on day 4, Pakistan is chasing 439 (!!) and are now 224 back with a second innings of 216/4.  I know, it’ll never happen, but it’s a beautiful Friday and there is no harm keeping an eye on the score, right?
  • I am listening to three somewhat interesting freebies from World Around Records lable: Naturetone’s Nihon, Louis Mackey’s Destroyer of All Things (if for no other reason than it’s awesome, throwback, album cover), and J. Dante’s EP Destiny.  All are worth a download, listen, and chill.
  • I am reading: S. Friesen, D. Schowalter, J. Walters, Corinth in Context: comparative studies on religion and society. (Brill 2010); C. Nadia Seremetakis, The Last Word: Women, Death, and Divination in Inner Mani. (Chicago 1991); and M. Trachtenberg, The Craft of International History: A Guide to Method. (Princeton 2006).
  • This is pretty funny.  The Old Spice Guy (and concept) has received a good bit of buzz lately.  Too bad for Tony Stewart.

Have a good weekend!

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The Future of Ancient History

The recent Annual Meeting of Postgraduates in Ancient History at Nottingham in the UK inspired vigorous and wide-ranging debate among the PKAP staff.  Tim Cornell’s and Robin Osborne’s perspectives were particularly thought provoking.

Here’s a link to the meeting’s site with embedded videos.

It’s at least suggested viewing for any graduate students in ancient history.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

November 26, 2009 Leave a comment

Happy Thanksgiving to all my U.S. readers.  And thanks to everyone all the same for making my blogging hobby seem worthwhile!

What you thought I wouldn't post today for some reason?

Categories: Uncategorized

Just a bit more on Post-Classical Athens

September 16, 2009 5 comments

I blogged a bit last month about the Post-Classical Acropolis (in the context, first, of the controversy surrounding Constantine Costa-Gavras film for the new Acropolis Museum and then about A. Kaldellis new book on the Post-Classical Parthenon).  That writing and reading (and the suggestion of Kaldellis) led me to A. Loukaki's Living Ruins, Value Conflicts.  It's a very thoughtful exploration of the complex interplay of issues surrounding the preservation, restoration, and reconstruction (anastylosis) and the various values associated with these processes in a Greek context.  In particular, Loukaki explores not just the intellectual roots of heritage management decisions, but the political and, to a lesser extent, economic processes as well.  Her chapter on the Central Archaeological Council (CAC) of Greece is worth reading as a stand alone chapter.  And his final chapter, a case study of the Athenian Acropolis, is fascinating.

I've read many, many, books on the Athenian Acropolis and environs over the past 10 years (and not nearly as many as I could have read).  As an Associate Member and, later, junior faculty at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, I've visited the "sacred rock" many times as well listening to both student and professional explanations of the architecture, rituals, and efforts to preserve and reconstruct the buildings there. Despite this background (and I am not claiming by any means to be an expert, just an interested observer), I learned more about the Acropolis from Loukaki's short chapter than from almost any other recent work. 

As per usual, I won't attempt a formal or comprehensive review (although I will be very interested in seeing how this book is received).  Instead, I'll highlight three area where I particular appreciated his discussion of the Acropolis:

1) She does a nice job in putting the Plaka in context.  Any visitor to Athens — even for professional reasons — is inevitably drawn at some point the Plaka.  Clinging to the northern slopes of the Acropolis, this picturesque neighborhood is the center of the Athenian tourist industry.  I suppose that I've always been aware of the various policies that sought alternately to preserve the Plaka as a picture of Old Athens or reclaim it for the study of the ancient ruins that lay beneath the tourist tavernas and souvenir shops.  Loukaki does a good job laying out the various shifts in policy and places the gentrification of the Plaka over the past 15 years in an administrative context.

2) The center of Athens is under constant construction.  Syntagma, Makryanni, Monasteraki Square, Psiri, the vicinity of the Kerameikos, and Gazi are particular hives of recent activity.  The chaotic nature of downtown Athens, however, has potential to make even a careful observer of the urban form doubt any real plan or comprehensive vision to the bustle (other than the standard sprucing up of Athens most commonly associated with 2004 Olympics).  Loukaki outlines the plan behind these renovations (p. 280-282) both on a practical level and on an aesthetic and ideological level.  The goal is to produce a "open museum that unites the most important archaeological sites of the historical centre of the city."  I suspect that my failure to perceive such a plan is tied to my practice of make surgical strikes into the city center to look at specific monuments or museums rather than engaging the area as a unified whole.  In fact, my mental map of the area is so flawed that I regularly resort to maps or Google Earth when I need to describe the physical relationship between, say, the Roman Agora and the Kerameikos or the Library of Hadrian and the Ilissos basilica.  So, Loukaki's explanation and critique of the plan to unify the ancient sites in the city center runs counter to my experiences in Athens, but at the same time provides me with new mental map, complete with new boundaries and paths, to superimpose on what has become familiar space.

3) pikionis_acropolisPavementThe landscape of the Acropolis. While my time at the American School taught me about R. Griswold's plans to landscape the Agora in the 1950s, I was not particularly familiar with the details and shamefully knew nothing of D. Pikionis work to landscape the Acropolis, Philopappos, and Pnix areas.  The work of the latter, frankly, blew my mind.  Loukakis' discussion of Pikionis pavements (p. 270-274) which drew upon ancient, Byzantine, and Modern(ist) influences floored me.  How could I have walked these sites for so long and not noticed the pavement?  In fact, I had to pilfer the interwebs just to find photographs (and these do not do the pavement justice).  


More importantly, than just the pavements Loukaki's articulates Pikionis effort to unify the sites around the Acropolis in a way that accentuated their modern, ancient, and natural settings.  He sought to lead the visitor to the sites in a way that played on the visual dominance of the Acropolis by presenting it from a variety of perspectives.  This worked to accentuate the fragmented nature of archaeology (and reality evoking cubist notions of perspective (p. 274)) while at the same time unifying the archaeological and natural to reinforce the sanctity of the Acropolis.  Loukakis describes Pikionis efforts "yet his landscape seems eternal, as if it were there from time immemorial.  Still he manages to remain coherent in a modern, not post-modern way, because of his approach to historical time: he respects its flow and continuity, and enhances them wisely, not arbitrarily."

I've blogged in the past about the modern character of the Acropolis, and now I wonder how much of that perspective on the monumental core of the city of Athens derived in part from my naive engagement with Pikionis' landscape.

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The Mysterious Theft of a Column Capital from Olympia

September 9, 2009 4 comments

This weekend, apparently, someone stole a column capital from the Early Christian basilica at the site of Ancient Olympia (in Greece).  This alarming theft has led to the suspension of the local ephor (the official in charge of antiquities for the region) and made the national and international pressI’ve visited the site of Olympia and checked out this church many, many times.  The press has not made clear which capital was stolen from the building and whether this was an ancient capital used as spolia in the building or an Early Christian capital (this short article makes it seem like it is a 6th century column capital).  I do not recall any particularly dramatic column capitals from the building — to be perfectly honest — although the church is known for its abundant architectural sculpture which was presumably carved from the vast quantity of marble available from the ancient site itself. 

The interesting (and perhaps ironic) thing about this story is that the Early Christian church is built into the so-called Workshop of Phidias.  This is an ancient structure (the visible brick superstructure, from what I understand is 3rd century A.D., but it may have been built on earlier foundations) built to the same dimensions of the cella of the Temple of Olympian Zeus.  The excavators apparently found in the area molds for terracota antefixes and other evidence for construction so the building is thought to have been where the sculptor Phidias created his famous statue of Olympian Zeus.  Because of these ancient associations, its proximity to the most prominent ancient ruins on the site (it is right outside the ancient Altis), and its well-preserved condition, the basilica in the Workshop of Phidias is among the most visible and visited Early Christian churches in the Peloponnesus (note my clever humor in this post).  Its visibility alone would make its assemblage of architectural sculpture particularly well-known, and its presence within the well-maintained and heavily visited tourist site of Olympia makes this church also particularly accessible to the casual tourist.  Most Early Christian basilicas in Greece remain off the beaten path, protected by rusty and collapsing fences, overgrown and neglected.  Like the Workshop of Phidias basilica, many of these less-visible churches preserve both ancient and Early Christian architectural sculpture.  While I obviously do not condone the theft of antiquities, it’s difficult to imagine a less suitable Early Christian basilica to loot than the Workshop of Phidias basilica. 

OlympiaCitationsOf course, the presence of the church within the site of Olympia certainly adds prestige to the material within the church whether it was re-used or carved new.  Moreover, for a real connoisseur the site represents one of the more important sites for the Early Christian period in the Peloponnesus.  While much of the Late Antique settlement on the site itself was removed during the 19th century excavation, scholars — particularly the late Thomas Völling — have made important strides in cobbling together the fragmentary record of the hastily excavated Late Antique phases and combining with important, relatively recent discoveries like the extensive “Slavic” cemetery excavated during the construction of the new museum at the site in the 1970s.   For the 4th-6th century, the church seems to have been at the center of a substantial settlement which included several larger houses and a maze of smaller houses.  The church would have been important for the folks who lived at the site of Olympia in the Early Christian period, but it hard to imagine that the looter of the column capital knew that.

For more information on Early Christian Olympia, here’s a handout that I created a few years back when asked to talk about the Early Christian phase at the site and in the right sidebar I’ve included some citations to the church at the Workshop of Phidias for the truly ambitious.

It will be interesting to follow this story develop.  The suspension of the local archaeological representative suggests that something more has happened here than the press has reported.  I’ll keep an eye on the press and  David Gill’s blog Looting Matters over the next few weeks to see if more comes out.

Update 1: This brief note (Archaeologist’s Horde) has transformed the column capital from 6th c. A.D. to 6th c. B.C.  That’s a big difference!

Categories: Uncategorized