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.

Museum Site for Egyptology

Many of the larger museums are often thought of in terms of their Egyptology collections.  By this I mean such notables outside of Egypt such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Louvre, and The British Museum. I have been fortunate to visit all of these.  Additionally, I was lucky to catch the more recent Tut exhibit in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  However, I have never been fortunate enough to actually visit Egypt herself.  

To my surprise, I along with many others have overlooked The University of Pennsylvania Museum's collection which is indeed quite impressive.  There exist extensive online interactive resources and a searchable database as well as a magazine all of which can be reached via the Museum's site at  It is worth the time to browse and see the various offerings!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Roman Era Tombs Found in Turkey

Several Roman era tombs were found during a construction project in Turkey.  The Turkish Museum is investigating the site.  However, the workers were already quoted as saying they would get back to excavation as soon as the archaeologists cleared of the site.  This is another of those situations in which you hope a thorough investigation is conducted in scholarly fashion before the bulldozers take over or that the artifacts don't go missing in the night.  I recall one site that when they where informed that it had archaeological significance the developers flattened the site and the next day nothing was to be found (it was a mound type find).  Preservation and in-situ documentation is always a concern for archaeologists.

More Pharaohs Uncovered?

A recent find indicates the probable presence of more pharaonic tombs in Aswan.  The article below states that foundation stones have been dated and indicate another layer of tombs present underneath a location thought to be empty.  It will be interesting to see how many tombs, if they are indeed pharaonic and if they have been looted in antiquity.

Archaeology Online Education - MOOCs and More

For those of you interested in Online Education, I have also started a Google Collection entitled Archaeology Education.  I will be revealing, reviewing and recommending various online courses as I find them available.  This information will be available through Google Search, the link below and will also be available through my profile.

King Richard III Virtual Remains and Upcoming FREE Online MOOC by University of Leicester

Here is a great article on the not so distant excavation on the skeletal remains of King Richard III.   Included is a link to an online MOOC being offered again by the University of Leicester in February of 2017

What is an Armchair Archaeologist?

Well, if you are reading this then maybe you are one at heart.  An armchair archaeologist is the person who has never been on a dig or maybe only as an amateur, but likes to keep abreast on the trends in the field and discoveries of the day.  Maybe they have fiscal, physical or limitations that keep them from fulfilling a life goal of being in the field or maybe they are happy observing from the sidelines.  In any event, it is one of many of us filled with knowledge and thirsting for knowledge who are not traditional academics or archaeologist.  We search the web, purchase magazines and watch news stories pertaining to the past and our exploration and explanation of it.  If you are one of these people, I hope share this site and my experiences with you and hope will benefit from my knowledge!