Dolphin Watching translated


Delphinus in Colour

I’ve found more trans­la­tions based on the press release I sent out about Delphi. In addi­tion to English, you can now read it in Greek («Διάβασαν» το μυστικό της Πυθίας), Italian, (Segreto Di Delfi In Un Antico Testo) and, amaz­ingly, in Hungarian (A csil­lagok jelezték Delphoi szer­tartá­sait).

I’ve been asked for a third ver­sion for the WAC volume on the Heavens Above ses­sion. I’m not sure if that’s going to hap­pen. There’s enough new mater­ial for the second paper for the journal Archaeoastronomy, but I don’t want to recycle old mater­ial as new for the WAC volume. What I’d like to offer is a paper look­ing at how ser­i­ously you can test the claims made. I think there are prob­lems, but not all of them are as bad as they seem. Efrosyni, who I’ve been co-authoring with isn’t keen on this as the prob­lems I want to dis­cuss are fairly basic.

I have been get­ting sick of it. I’ve been lack­ing inspir­a­tion and a little over­worked, so writ­ing some­thing for Archaeoastronomy that doesn’t sound like it’s going through the motions is dif­fi­cult. The Antiquity ver­sion had at least 30 drafts. I say at least, as for a month there were sev­eral drafts all marked draft 10. It was sup­posed to be a minor and quick paper, but it’s tak­ing out time I could be work­ing on my PhD with.

However, see­ing it picked up and trans­lated is a big ego-stroke. So now, I sup­pose, is the time to tackle DIAGv1.07.a.

Away in St Albans


I’m away with the 1st years today prac­ti­cing my yoof look. In the mean­time Troels Myrup has a post Archaeologists at Auctions?, which gives ser­i­ous thought to the rela­tion­ship between archae­ology and col­lect­ing. My own opin­ion is that I know there is a dif­fer­ence between a bon­afide antiquity sale and a clear­ing house for money-laundering by organ­ised crime — but I don’t have the skills to tell which is which.

On the sub­ject of crime: A rape law time-warp: back to the Sixties is hor­rific. Unless you feel the role of law is to pro­tect the strong. I think get­ting your­self para­lytic is a stu­pid thing to do, but I can­not see how it could pos­sibly jus­tify rape. It’s also flatly con­tra­dicted by legal pre­cend­ent, I can’t recall the exact case, but if this law stands then date-rape drugs become effect­ively legal in the UK.

Finally Now the Silence Is Absolute marks the end of the First World War Christmas Armistice.

Another reason to love Leicester: Evolutionary prose


There are people here like Jan Zalasiewicz who can write on evol­u­tion like this:

One should there­fore pro­ceed nervously, aware that an incau­tious simile here, a mis­placed ana­logy there, could pre­cip­it­ate a chain of events that might in future years enforce us all, by some Educational Decree or other, to give equal weight­ing to the the­ory that dino­saurs were Intelligently Designed (though, in the case of the duck-billed dino­saurs, per­haps Humorously Designed) and that the devil’s toe­nail is no less than divinely encoiled.

You can see all his columns here.

Public Academy


Engaging Anthropology looks like it will be a fas­cin­at­ing book to read. There’s a post about it on antro​logi​.info. One of my favour­ite books is Popularizing Anthropology by McClancy and McDonaugh which makes a strong argu­ment that if anthro­po­logy (and sci­ence) is pub­lic­ally fun­ded then there is an oblig­a­tion to make your res­ults access­ible to the pub­lic. They also make the argu­ment that pop­u­lar does not auto­mat­ic­ally mean unschol­arly. On a con­nec­ted note Snail’s Tales marks the 146 anniversary of the pub­lish­ing of On the Origin of Species.

Both posts have plenty for links to fol­low up.

An Apt Memorial


Helena-Reet trans­formed into Cleopatra. Photo by mnadi.

I atten­ded the fifth Dorothy Buchan Lecture last night at Leicester. Dorothy Buchan was a retired head­mis­tress of a school in Leicester with an interest in Graeco-Roman Egypt and the study of women in antiquity. When she passed away a fund was formed and an annual lec­ture series star­ted. It’s the school’s only major reg­u­lar event, and so far they’ve gen­er­ally been stun­ning. This year it was Dorothy ThompsonQueens and Commoners in Ptolemaic Egypt”.

Like the pre­vi­ous years I learned some­thing new. Dorothy Thompson demol­ished the myth of Cleopatra as femme fatale. More inter­est­ingly, from my point of view, she showed how Egyptian women in com­par­ison to their Greek and Macedonian coun­ter­parts had much more legal power. The even­tual Hellenisation of Egypt seemed to be a real blow for the inde­pend­ence of women. Under Greek law they always had to be rep­res­en­ted by a male, either hus­band or father.

She also astoun­ded me with the import­ance of text in Ptolemaic Egypt. One trans­ac­tion was accom­pan­ied with sixty pieces of paper estab­lish­ing rights of own­er­ship and gene­a­lo­gies of own­er­ship to vari­ous goods. I tend to view the clas­sical world as lit­er­ate in parts, which is per­haps a dated opin­ion. You don’t have to under­stand text to ven­er­ate its power. In fact in terms of ven­er­at­ing it, it may even be an advant­age to not under­stand it. But I think the sheer scale of the use of text in Egypt shows that you can’t simply dis­miss it as a tool of the élite.

Like the pre­vi­ous years it was a strong show, and next year’s also looks like it will be excel­lent as Helen King of Reading will be giv­ing it. All in all I think its an apt memorial for an educator.