Bad news for the Christians


There’s a 1st cen­tury BC tab­let which has been found pre­dict­ing a Messiah that will rise after three days. I can’t really see this shak­ing Christianity by con­nect­ing it to Judaism. The whole concept of a Messiah is Jewish. It’s not like Judea was short of Messiahs in this period. As for proph­ecies Matthew is known to have drawn on Jewish proph­ecies for his gos­pel, hence the whole being born in Bethlehem thing. It is of his­tor­ical interest though. It seems like a mes­siah proph­ecy we didn’t know about before. That could have told us more about the devel­op­ment of Christianity.

Sadly it can’t tell us a lot, because the mater­ial is unproven­anced. Anyone who’s Christian has had inform­a­tion about tab­let of import­ance to their faith trashed and it’s inform­a­tion which can­not be replaced. It’s been com­pared to find­ing the Dead Sea Scrolls.* It’s not like find­ing the Dead Sea Scrolls. It’s like burn­ing them unread and sift­ing through the ashes to see what you can make out.

However as long as there’s a mar­ket for unproven­anced and illi­cit antiquit­ies there’ll be a profit to be made from other people’s beliefs.

See also: The Boston Globe and Jim West’s web­log.

*Actually in some ways it is. An awful loot of inform­a­tion about them has been lost too due to the trade in unproven­ance antiquities.

The Burglars. Photo (cc) John Carl Johnson

Reconstructing the Buddhas of Bamiyan


Demolition rubble from the Buddhas. Photo (cc) Tracy Hunter.

In 2001 the Taliban des­troyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan. Now there’s a pro­posal to rebuild them, but can they be rebuilt and should they?

You can find the ori­ginal TIME story at this site.

When does the Past start?


People evicted from the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area and their fam­il­ies are ask­ing for more say in how the past of the site is presented.

The news story @ The Courier-Journal
The Official site @ The Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area
The Friends of LBL @ their web­site

Can you date myths by eclipses?


As you can see I’m scep­tical. I would read the PNAS paper this is derived from — except I’ve never been able to find a PNAS paper when it’s men­tioned as an early release press story. PNAS does noth­ing to help find them.