Monday, March 13, 2017

Many great MOOCs have either recently started or are due to start within the next week through the British forum Futurelearn - .  Of particular interest to me were the course on Archaeology which takes you through an actual site excavation near Stonehenge, a course on Extinction, a course on the Great Powers of the Ancient World, and Rome a virtual 3-D tour of the ancient city.  Sounds like a lot of good material out there for investigation!  See what you find interesting!

Sunday, January 22, 2017


For quite a while now I have been interested in expanding my personal library on the specific areas of archaeology that excite me the most, but there have been stumbling blocks.  In particular, finding and affording some of the older, more esoteric out-of-print items can be a daunting task.  However, this is becoming easier as more and more institutions put portions of their libraries online and make them available to the public in downloadable formats (usually .pdf).  

Recently, I discovered the Metropolitan Museum of Arts downloadable books and periodicals website while reading an article on ancient Egypt,  I then discovered a two volume out-of-print set I had been looking for was available for download.  Only 500 copies had ever been printed and I was about to get mine for FREE!  This is just one location for free downloads and I will be using my browser to find more and increase my virtual library.  

As my collection of virtual material is growing, I need to protect my data.  It was recommended that I purchase an archival external backup drive.  Wonder what that is?  Well, it is a storage drive so that you don't need to store the data on your computer, but it is also a backup with its own backup.  Inside, it has two drives and as you save to the external source your data will save to both drives so that they mirror each other.  Thus, as you grow your collect, it will be nicely protected against equipment failure.  

The two-volume limited edition set I got for FREE!  The information is priceless!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Two other courses with Ancient Interest

Thanks to Hamish Morrison who provided this information recently in the Coursera Forum:

"There are two other courses soon as well as the one on edx. Both are on futurelearn.
Health and Wellbeing in the Ancient World
Superpowers of the Ancient World: the Near East"

Sharing with others is an excellent way of learning more and is appreciated!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

EdX Course on Egyptian Writing and Script Starting January 9, 2017

For those of you interested in Egyptology, Bibliotheca Alexandria is offering a course through EdX entitled, The Journey of Writing and Scripts in Egypt.  There is a $25 fee for a certificate for the course.  However, it is free to audit.  The link for the class is below:

Uncover the multiple and diverse history of writing and scripts in Egypt and reflect on multilingualism, cultural diversity and plurality.

EdX Course on The Architectural Imagination - A Perspective on Historical Buildings

This EdX course is being offered by three Harvard University Professors and seeks to help you:

"Learn fundamental principles of architecture — as an academic subject or a professional career — from a study of history’s important buildings."

The course seeks to put the advent of new materials and designs in cultural and historical perspective which is certainly pertinent to archaeology.  While this course may incorporate much more than archaeological content, it is sure to add to your skill set as an armchair archaeologist.

The course begins on February 28, 2017 and is described as self-paced.  Here is the link if you are interested in enrolling:!

The Architectural Imagination


January 9, 2017 EdX will begin a MOOC on the topic of Human Origins. If interested here is the link.

Human Origins
Human Origins

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

On Archaeological Scholarship and Resources

A heard a brief comment today in one of my MOOCs, but it is one which I believe deserves a bit more attention.  Specifically, references were made to how we attribute various historical or archaeological "facts".  This is particularly important as one assumption often leads to another. Therefore as the computer scientists like to say, "Junk in junk out".

Let me explain more precisely.  None of us where around thousands of years ago so the "facts" upon which we predicate our conclusions are extremely important.  So how do we determine what to rely upon and what to discredit (in whole or in part)?  Well, the first scholarly thing to do is to search out primary sources.  These are those sources that are chronologically contemporary with or close to the event we are trying to validate.  Then it is prudent to seek other corroborating testimonies or sources so that all of our assumptions do not depend on one artifact or resource.

Secondary resources while somewhat useful for corroboration can be tainted by historical events which occurred after the actual or "real" event.  For example, we have all heard of revisionist history and that "history is written by the victors".  Many times in history the victors have even sought to wipe the slate clean of all mention of their predecessors or claim the others' accomplishments for their own.

In short, whether writing a paper, putting an artifact in context, or reading a secondary copy of a text consider the attribution of the source and its chronological juxtaposition and historical context.  I often wonder today as I watch what will become history unfold how it will be written and when I hear something falsely reported I want to jump up and say, "But that's NOT how it happened!"  How will they know that if they read it 200 years from now? 500?  1,000?  I hope they stop and analyze and so should we.