Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Excavations Continue at Sobibor

Excavations continue at Sobibor, and have now confirmed the location - and existence - of gas chambers at the death camp.

Gas chambers at Sobibor death camp uncovered in archaeological dig:
An archaeological dig in Poland has revealed the location of the gas chambers at the Sobibor death camp, Yad Vashem announced on Wednesday.
This is important, as although the vast majority of people are reasonable and not only acknowledge but regret the Holocaust in which millions of Jews and Gentiles, Poles, Greeks, Catholics, homosexuals, Roma, disabled and the politically inconvenient were killed ... there will always be idiots, some theoretically highly educated, who continue to deny the Holocaust.

Last summer's excavation located an escape tunnel: Escape tunnel discovered at Nazi death camp Sobibor - Telegraph

In 2012 the finds were highly personal items left behind by those sent to their deaths.



Israeli archaeologist digs into Sobibor death camp in search of Nazi killing machines Israel News | Haaretz

70 years after revolt, Sobibor secrets are yet to be unearthed | The Times of Israel

The problem is that we forget, or we 'move on' and ... make the same mistakes all over again. In Yugoslavia, in Rwanda, now under ISIS or ISIL or whatever abbreviation you want to use for the fundamentalists pushing a strange misinterpretation of the teachings of Islam.

Every time I watch one of the many movies and documentaries about Rwanda, a part of me hopes that that Clinton administration official won't repeat her inane description of the massacres there as "acts of genocide" and instead admit that it was "genocide" pure and simple. Obviously, she never does. The distinction is important, and not just a legal nicety - had the US acknowledged that there was genocide there, they would have been obliged to interfere to prevent it under the 1948 UN Genocide Convention.

I understand people standing by and doing nothing because they were too scared to do so, fearing that they too would be the victims of reprisals, but I find it impossible to believe that people living in the vicinity of death camps did not realise what was going on. When Downtown reopened after 9/11 there was still the smell of barbeque; I know people tend not to talk about it, but it was distinctive, and obvious. Far fewer people were incinerated on 9/11 in the WTC than were on an average day in an extermination camp.

Former Harvard professor Samantha Power is currently the US Ambassador to the UN, so when she produces another revised edition of her seminal work A Problem From Hell, after having dealt with the current atrocities, it will be particularly interesting.

For now I can only recommend the most recent edition of A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide: x, x and the usual places.

It rightly won the Pulitzer in 2003, but unfortunately she has had to  update it many times since then. Given the situation in the Middle East, it is still a key read for anyone interested in current events, the history of geo-politics and nationalism run wild.


Congratulations to Christopher Rollston!

... and well done to George Washington U for hiring a very talented scholar:

George Washington U. Snags a Decipherer of Ancient Texts - People - The Chronicle of Higher Education

This was the rather innocuous, some might even say common sense, article that originally cost him his job at Emmanuel Christian Seminary:

The Marginalization of Women: A Biblical Value We Don't Like to Talk About - Christopher Rollston:

The Decalogue is a case in point. "You shall not covet your neighbor's house, you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male slave, his female slave, his ox, his donkey or anything which belongs to your neighbor" (Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21). Because the Ten Commandments are so well known, it's quite easy to miss the assumptions in them about gender. But the marginalization of women is clear. The wife is classified as her husband's property, and so she's listed with the slaves and work-animals. There's also a striking omission in this commandment: never does it say "You shall not covet your neighbor's husband." The Ten Commandments were written to men, not women.

Most of us fully agree with him, and that's why we made the point by buying his book: Writing and Literacy in the World of Ancient Israel; available in libraries, Amazon UK, Amazon US and all the usual places.



Reminder: Space NK Gift With Purchase Today

I blogged details and the products I highly recommend here: Dorothy King's PhDiva: Le Fluff et Le Puff ... Lotions and Potions at Space NK

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Today's Amphipolis Q&As

I'll start off by answering some of the various questions people have asked and discussing some of the theories about Amphipolis, then go back to regular blogging later today or tomorrow ...


I'm not sure where the question about huge tombs for soldiers came from, but yes there are some - eg the Chaeronea Lion might be either a tomb or more likely a cenotaph built by Philip II for those whose fell in that battle; ditto the later Macedonian Veria monument. War monuments are nothing new, and are well attested in Greek culture ... but I think it is very unlikely that the Lion Tomb at Amphipolis was a communal tomb for dead soldiers. As always, I may be wrong - the tomb has already re-written the text books about that type of Caryatid supporting the architrave with their hands, and who know what else we'll learn!

Again, I still don't know who was buried in the tomb at Amphipolis, and if the archaeologists do know, they're not saying yet. I am afraid that yes I've been to blame for over a year now for the theory that it could have been built for Alexander the Great - and yes, he still seems for a whole variety of reasons, some of which hopefully will become clear, to me to be the best candidate for whom the monument was constructed. He was not buried there as Ptolemy hijacked the body and took it to Egypt, but the tomb and an associated cult could well have continued under the Antigonids at Amphipolis, and various early Diadochs are likely to have wanted, hoped and perhaps even attempted to bring Alexander's body back to Macedonia to emphasise their claim to be his heir. Then someone may have been buried in it - an Antigonid or Lysimachus or a dozen others - or it could have been symbolically left empty as a cenotaph or a reminder ...


No, not 'probably' - the lion was almost certainly visible from the bridge, the town ... everywhere in Amphipolis. It was designed to be seen, hence the huge mound and large base that supported it. The key question to ask is was the tomb inside the boundaries of the town or outside it? Only founders of cities, such at Theseus at Athens - or refounders of cities such as Mausolus at Halicarnassus - could be buried within the city walls.

Although there are other tombs with lions, the lion hunt in an enclosed royal game park was associated with royal iconography under the Persians (eg see the sculptures from the tomb of the Hecatomind Satrap Mausolus) and from at least Phillip II onwards in Macedonian art (see the exterior painted frieze of Vergina Tomb II).

The seated Lion at Chaeronea is linked to the battle Phillip II fought there. The Cnidos lion is reclining and different, but not yet linked to anyone specific. 

The Ecbatana Lion is sometimes linked to the death of Hephaestion (left), and again he is a possible contended for the tomb, if Alexander's wishes were fulfilled. But the Ecbatana lion is very different, and we know from the later Arabic name of its site that it was the "Gate of the Lions" and one of a pair, oh, and Hephaestion died at Babylon not Ecbatana (see here).


Could there be more chambers, not just three? Very easily. Also the hole in the wall to the third chamber may well have been structural - Hellenistic architects sometimes put windows into the pediments of very large temples, which may have been partly for cult reasons, but also served to relieve the weight.



As the Greek Ministry of Culture has stated, there are severe structural issues with the third chamber. I pointed out that there were structural issues which led to a crack in the architrave above the caryatids (photo above), and that is one face cracked and fell off (it was found in the back-fill).

There was no tomb quite like this one at Amphipolis, and so the architect may have been more ambitious than ... I currently think that the back-filling of the tomb was to stop it collapsing and to 'preserve' it (ancient Macedonian tombs were not meant to be seen and visited inside anyway) ... and that the back-fill pre-dates the destruction of the super-structure. As always things change in archaeology, and there wouldn't be any point digging if new information didn't either refine our ideas or make us change our minds!


Speaking of changing our minds: the evidence suggests all previous reconstructions were wrong, and the Caryatids did not supported the architrave with one raised arm. They were architectural supports, as the cracks show, and but possibly hand their arms outstretched to each other - their touching hands could symbolise the joining of Europe and Asia by a certain Greek commander? I'll do a proper long post about the Caryatids - and another about the Ionic doorway and third chamber - soon, but yes they look vaguely like Archaic kore, but that's a long art historical explanation which is why the style is called archaising.

For now, see how the lowered arm holding out the drapery ...


better seem in the pair here:


This Hellenistic figure from Miletus now in Izmir copies the roll of fabric diagonally across the body:



[... well, first the drapery becomes an acanthus leaf in this ca. 280 BC Thracian tomb ...]


... is also to be seen in the statue of Tralles-Cherchel type from Cherchel:


... and the Tralles-Cherchel type from Tralles:


... but that in some more classicising variants, such as this one from a pair in Mantua, the hand is made to hold a mask - presumably one of the pair had Comedy, the other Tragedy?



I've been positing for a few years now that there are so many copies and variants of this type that it must copy a famous lost original pair ... but it seems the original may have been found!

Interestingly the raised forearms of this figure type do not survive anywhere except Amphipolis, so whilst we always assumed it went straight up ... clearly the new evidence shows that it did not!

I highly recommend this article to anyone interested in the earlier excavations of the Amphipolis Lion, which was found thrown into the river some way from the Kastra Hill - The Pride of Amphipolis | From the Archivist's Notebook:
Betsey Robinson Betsey A. Robinson, Professor of History of Art at Vanderbilt University, here contributes to The Archivist’s Notebook an essay about the history of the reconstruction of the Lion of Amphipolis in the 1930s and the people who spearheaded it; she also reminds us of recent work by the American School in the area in 1970.
Εἰπέ, λέον, φθιμένοιο τίνος τάφον ἀμφιβέβηκας, βουφάγε; τίς τᾶς σᾶς ἄξιος ἦν ἀρετᾶς;
Tell, lion, whose tomb do you guard, you slayer of cattle? And who was worthy of your valour?
Anthologia Palatina 7.426.1-2 (Trans. M. Fantuzzi & R. Hunter)
The lines above, by Hellenistic poet Antipater of Sidon, are as much of a tease today as they were when Oscar Broneer quoted them in The Lion Monument at Amphipolis in 1941.
And the date of the tomb ...


Yes, I am aware of this, and I am aware of her subsequent claim that the tomb must post-date 40 BC because there were no Greek Caryatids before then. I disagree about Caryatids, obviously, but it's good to have debate and if we all agreed we'd make less progress! Another Greek archaeologist who had not seen the excavations made claims about modern looting, and I disagree with him too. I'm afraid that the Greek archaeologist with whom I agree with re the early Hellenistic date are the ones that found the tomb and that have been digging it for years and actually seen the evidence.

And finally the Memphis sphinxes ...



Yes, I am aware of them, but chose to focus on other ones that I thought to be more relevant, but thank you all for sending them to me. Yes, they are linked to the Serapeion, which is in turn founded after Alexander the Great conquered Egypt, but again please guys, hold your horses! or sphinxes! The Serapeion continued to be added to for centuries, and some of the philosophers found near these sphinxes were earlish Hellenistic, but others were 2nd century AD. Also they were excavated by Auguste Mariette who died in 1881, and archaeological techniques were very different in those days ... so the very simple answer is that these are dated largely on stylistic grounds, and this date is very debatable.


Blog Love: Positive Prescription

I love psychiatrist Dr Samantha Boardman's blog, for its positivity - it does what the title says - and for the sensible advice, sometimes just common sense tips we can all forget about as we try to juggle our messy lives, other times discussions of interesting research. Her current, very timely post is 20 Secrets of Successful Students - and boy have I found myself saying the same things over the years, though putting the points across far less succinctly. There are many blogs out there giving life advice, but few are as qualified to do so as Dr Boardman's.

Positive Prescription - it's also worth signing up to the newsletter, which serves as a good weekly reminder.

Heels: Bionda Castana

At the start of last year the FT ran a piece about the best shoe designers - Best feet forward - FT.com - and I should probably be ashamed to admit I have heels from rather too many of them. But the most comfortable 10 mm ones I own? The ones I managed to keep up in with a woman insisting on power-walking well over 2 km at an increasingly competitive pace? The pair from Bionda Castana, and for that reason although I initially scoffed at the description of 'comfortable and wearable' ... I've slowly built up a little collection from them.

And the shoe I'd snap up if it came in leather not suede? Their Lana. It's the most chicest shoe.

Lots of companies give good service, but very few managed to do a good job of sorting out a mess not of their creation - that's why I recommend buying them from the fabulous Young British Designers.

Plus it's good to support British design and a small company ... and they charge £385 for the heels (sign up for the newsletter as they regularly send codes):

Lana Black Suede Ankle Tie Pumps by Bionda Castana / Shoes | Young British Designers

... they're £485 at the Bionda Castana site, although they have more sizes:

Lana – Bionda Castana Online Store

The Beatrix is also very elegant for evening (yes, I know toe cleavage is 'out' this season, but it'll be back by Christmas ...):

Beatrix – Bionda Castana Online Store

Beatrix suede and mesh pumps - NET-A-PORTER.COM

Monday, September 15, 2014

Alexander the Great Sucked at Geometry ...

Alexander the Great Sucked at Geometry | Letters From The Porch



Thank goodness he had Dinocrates!

Amphipolis: A Personal Clarification

I will get back to blogging the information that the Greek Ministry of Culture releases about Amphipolis.

I realise that some Greek archaeologists not on the excavation have been critical of both the press releases - which I thought was a sensible decision by the MC - and that the information in these press releases is being discussed on the internet.

I have always believed that people are interested in archaeology, and want to learn about it. Several times I've heard scholars at conferences complain how difficult it is to "engage the public" ... but I've never had that issue: if anything I've had problems dealing with the huge interest people have in archaeology ... and replying to all their questions (I am very behind on email, and apologise but I have a huge back-log).

My colleagues both mock me for giving my organisation Loot Busters a 'silly' name and then complain that "the public" is not interested in art crime and looting, and claim that "the public" see it as just a crime that effects the rich ... Need I point out that my experience has been the opposite? That lots of people express interest in my work and in that of the Portable Antiquities Scheme when I explain it to them? (I also prefer to get looted items back rather than to discuss looting).

I hate social snobbery, and I hate pseudo-intellectual pretensions even more. A few years ago I started Culture Concierge; one aim, to put scholars willing to be paid to act as guides together with people who would otherwise hire a guide regurgitating the usual stories, did not work out. The weekly emails covering London culture and Travel, did - although I had to take a break for personal reasons. I'm relaunching the (renamed) email newsletters soon, and people can sign up to Culture Cut London and Culture Cut World via these links or the web site.

One of the aims of Culture Concierge will be to produce quick, short but intelligent Culture 101 guides on cultural topics - for example Caryatids - and everything I have seen from people's reaction to Amphipolis suggests that people really are interested in learning more, even if they don't always have the time to read a full book. We'll also do short city guides - eg enough for a long week-end in say Athens or Marrakesh, picking the best and not overwhelming people with choices to merely fill pages.

I love explaining history and archaeology to people, and sharing knowledge. The reason I chose not to do TV is because I'm frankly fed up with things like getting asked by the History Channel to dress up in a Roman short skirt (ie uniform ... yup, they really did ask this, and before you say it was just one idiot, it was a VP who wouldn't take no for an answer).

I have not spoken to any journalists about Amphipolis. People who've asked me about the dig over the years I told to wait for the official presentation. I am reconsidering this for the same reason I've been blogging about the tomb - I can't complain about all the nonsense out there if I don't do my bit to explain it to people.

I would however like to make one thing very clear; whilst I know what was in the public presentation of the Amphipolis excavation at a conference in March ... I do not know what has been found there since then, and I am basing my posts on the MC press releases.

I have not asked the archaeologists at Amphipolis what they have found, nor have their volunteered to tell me. Even though one is a good friend, our only communication about Amphipolis was me making him aware of the leak of information early last month, and him thanking me for helping identify the source.

Earlier this year I had planned to take six months off to try to properly re-launch Culture Concierge and see if I could make it work. But ... glandular fever - aka mono aka Λοιμώδης μονοπυρήνωση - got in the way ... Because stress is a trigger, and I've had both it and post viral fatigue before, I quit several projects - one I felt was getting too political, another was getting both too political and resulted in 400+ emails a day, etc ... so the relaunch of CC has been pushed back, as I was too ill to do it let alone keep up with others' excavations.

I've always tried to explain archaeological findings and I will continue to blog about them. I don't care what people say about me, but I will defend friends like a lioness defending her cubs. My blogging about Amphipolis would not be an issue if I did not have friends on the dig ... but a) they are not leaking any information whatsoever to me, and b) I have friends on an awful lot of other excavations around the Med ... and honestly at this point in my life it would be a pretty damning indictment of me as an archaeologist if I didn't. People sometimes show me their finds to ask my opinion; sometimes to ask me to look out for items on the art market that might have been looted from their site; sometimes just because they're proud of what they've found and they know I won't blab.

Anyway, I am surprised that I have had to write such a lengthy explanation but ... I'll be blogging about Amphipolis again soon!

[Yes I am  that angry at the slurs that I spelt Amphipolis wrong in the title ... :-(]

Osman Does Iznik

I might have mentioned the fashion genius of Osman Yousefzada before, and this week Nrowns are featuring him in their windows, notably his slightly fabulously over the top "tile-jacquard" based on Iznik tiles. Only the jacket is on the Matches web site (here).

More Silly Photos Against Monday Moaning

Because we can all do with a smile on a Monday morning ...
And remember the first five days of the week are the hardest - after that it gets easier.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Egypt and The Exodus: The Other Side's Story

Yes it sounds like a story from The Onion - WATCH: Egyptian academic demands Jews give back gold stolen during the Exodus Jerusalem Post - and obviously the claim is as ridiculous as if the Jews made one for building the pyramids as slaves, or for the 'return' of the Colosseum since it was funded by the Temple Treasure, but ...


I had planned to blog about this around Passover, but since I seem to blog about crucifixion not at Easter, here goes ...

The Passover Letter from Elephantine tells us of a decree from Darius that allowed the Jews to celebrate Passover at the Temple at Elephantine in Egypt without being disturbed by the local Egyptians. The Egyptians had in the destroyed the Temple there in anti-Passover riots.

Was it anti-Semitism? No.

Whilst in Judaism and the Biblical tradition the Jews were slaves in Egypt, and Moses led then to freedom and eventual settlement in the Promised Land ... in Egyptian tradition the Jews were foreign rulers who had invaded, mistreated the local population - and the ancient Egyptians had had to rise up against them and free themselves from the Jews, whom they expelled.

This tradition is preserved in the early Hellenistic work of Hecataeus of Abdera, preserved only in quoted fragments, and that of Manetho.

For those interested in this and other versions of history we tend to forget, I highly recommend Anti-Judaism by David Nirenberg. Parts of it were infuriating (his stated methodology and decision to ignore evidence he could not read in the original language), but it was one of the most fascinating books I've read this year.

Available at libraries, Amazon UK, Amazon US and all the usual place.

(With thanks to Bruce Bartlett for sending me the original story ... although I bet he's surprised there is some logic to it!)

Apology re Yesterday's Green Post Comments

Yesterday I wrote a post in answer to a piece in the WaPo - PhDiva: I come to bury Green, not to praise him - about the almost universally condemned Green Scholar Initiative acquisition policies and treatment of Egyptian antiquities:
Hobby Lobby’s Steve Green has big plans for his Bible museum in Washington - The Washington Post

I'm hoping that Michelle Boorstein is using a heavy dose of sarcasm here:
Steve Green is standing in the basement of the eight-story Bible museum he’s building in Washington. Plans for the $800 million project are coming together nicely: the ballroom modeled after Versailles, the Disney-quality holograms, the soaring digital entryway with religious images projected on the ceiling, the restaurant serving biblically-themed meals.

 But my issue is not poor taste in decorating ...
A few people sent the author Ms Boorstein comments of a similar nature, including that post and the many others by scholars who have researched the Green collection, to which she replied:


Although Roberta Mazza was politer in pointing out that she had already furnished Ms Boorstein with information prior to publication:


I'm afraid that I was not, and I wrote something that I should not have. I implied that Ms Boorstein would be better suited to writing puff pieces for Town and Country magazine than journalism for the Washington Post. I should not have done so, and I would like to apologise unreservedly. I do not look down on Town and Country magazine, nor do I believe that they write puff pieces. It was a throw-away remark, and in fact I actually like that there are magazines out there who write positive articles rather than scurrilous tabloid-style ones. I enjoy reading Town and Country magazine, and will continue to purchase it, since it maintains higher journalistic standards that the Washington Post. I cannot apologise enough to Town and Country magazine, nor express how much I regret this slur against them.

A journalist from Town and Country would also probably have appreciated the irony of decorating a la Versailles, and know that whilst those who emulate the style see themselves as the great Louis XIV, they more often fall from grace like Louis XVI - see Patricia Kluge and all the other '80s trophy wives chronicled by Tom Wolfe in Bonfire of the Vanities and in Dominick Dunne's brilliantly observed People Like Us.

As a quick reminder, this is how Mrs Louis XVI ended up ...

Marie Antoinette's execution in 1793 at the Place de la Révolution, unknown artist.

Incidentally, although we recognise David as having been a great artist, Marie Antoinette probably would have looked down her nose at his art and seen his as a royal "decorator" ... David played an active role in the French Revolution, and in fact voted during the National Convention in favour of the execution of Louis XVI. I can't think of a better illustration of why one should treat everyone as human beings, and not as serfs merely there to do one's bidding.

Drawing by Jacques-Louis David of  Marie Antoinette on her way to the guillotine on 16 October 1793, now in the Louvre.

Lauren Greenfield's documentary, The Queen of Versailles, featuring the rise and fall of David and Jackie Siegel and their attempt to build a house modeled on Versailles is brilliant - ironic, self-aware, moving and very funny, it should be required viewing for all self-made men. Available at the usual sources: Amazon US and Amazon UK, etc ...

In case people accuse me of being a snob about 'new' money; I've always had far more respect for those who made their own way in the world than for those born with a silver spoon who inherited riches. And better nouveau riche than never riche - because these are the people that fund museums and cultural institutions. Just ... not always in the right way ...

Ellie and Balloons ...


Today:
@DorothyKing: Ellie celebrating 10th anniversary of Duke of York Square ... http://pic.twitter.com/GooUS8zhp3

And yesterday with a Vodafone balloon ...

A long time ago I dated a musician, and whenever I was with him everyone completely ignored me. Strangely I'm now sleeping with an even bigger (local) celebrity - Ellie von Jack Russell - and if anything ... People focus even more on her - and less on me - than they did on him. I'm happier living in the shadows, so that works for me. And she makes people smile, something we need.

Ellie often carries and plays with a balloon that says "Happy Birthday" - only because those are the ones our local newsagent stocks.

She used to be terrified of balloons, I blew some up to show her they were not scary, and by the second or third she realised that they bounce and are rather fun.

To answer another question - I have no problem with companies sending her branded balloons, and her mailing address is under 'contact me' on the blog.

Unfortunately Ellie does not do TV for the simple reason that I'd need to go along with her and be compensated for my time. (Obviously I'd make an exception for my secret crush Stephen Colbert, but ...)

Addendum - I always make an effort to pick up the pieces of the balloons once they eventually burst - I know that this means future archaeologists will not find the evidence ... but I don't like to litter!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

I come to bury Green, not to praise him

Unfortunately the Washington Post, reputedly the paper of record, went for blind eulogizing of Steve Green and his planned Bible Museum yesterday:

Hobby Lobby’s Steve Green has big plans for his Bible museum in Washington - The Washington Post

I'm hoping that Michelle Boorstein is using a heavy dose of sarcasm here:
Steve Green is standing in the basement of the eight-story Bible museum he’s building in Washington. Plans for the $800 million project are coming together nicely: the ballroom modeled after Versailles, the Disney-quality holograms, the soaring digital entryway with religious images projected on the ceiling, the restaurant serving biblically-themed meals
But my issue is not poor taste in decorating, it's the fact that Boorstein has written what amounts to a puff piece the Hobby Lobby museum, seemingly regurgitating their PR, without doing even a simple Google search that would have clarified how bloody controversial the museum's acquisition policy is. And by 'controversial' I don't mean "some scholars are against it" ... I mean that at least one acquisition is in direct contravention of both a US MoU and its import into the US in breach of US customs laws.

Almost two years ago I pointed out - Dorothy King's PhDiva: The Tale of the Very Dodgy Papyri ... - the obvious: that these papyrus fragments of Galatians 2:2-4 and 5-6 being discussed on a Biblioblog and on sale on eBay were highly dodgy. Not only did the seller admit to having smuggled them out of Egypt, with whom the US has a MoU, but that he was offering to post them from Turkey, which did not allow the export of antiquities.


Plenty of people who were well aware of the law were quite happily buying off the seller, and having the items sent by post to the US.

eBay refused to do anything about Lot 221146685190 or any other illegal items this seller listed under this or other handles. You can read my various posts about it here: eBay.

Finally, it an attempt to convince eBay the seller was dodgy as hell, I 'bought' one his lots, and gave him enough rope to hang himself: Dorothy King's PhDiva: So I Bought A Papyrus on eBay ...

eBay still couldn't have cared less. When I left negative feedback, they initially removed it, although it has now reappeared:


It was Don Quixote 1 - Windmills 0, and I had met the first looted item I had failed to get returned ... I felt as if I was banging my head against a brick wall.

Then the brilliant papyrologist Roberta Mazza visited an exhibition about the Green collection in Rome - A trip to Rome (with a detour on eBay). A Review of Verbum Domini II - and noted:
But I must confess that the fragment which attracted my attention mostly is number 28 in the catalogue (GC.MS.000462, p. 42 with figure 26). This is a humbler papyrus fragment from a codex page containing lines from Galatians 2 in Sahidic Coptic. The label reports that the item dates to the 5th-6th century AD and is undergoing research with the Green Scholar Initiative (as most of the items in the exhibition). I remembered this piece well, because it was noticed by Brice C. Jones among those put on sale on eBay from a Turkish account (MixAntik) in October 2012. At that time, Brice wrote a post about it on his blog, and there were reactions from people alerting on the legal issues concerning this selling. Dorothy L. King has also written on this and other fragments posted on eBay by MixAntik in her blog more than once. I have contacted Brice, who is going to write on this bit of the story in his blog soon.
See also her recent paper available here.

The Italians are not the best at dealing with items looted from other countries, but the owner was clearly Green, a US citizen, and he almost certainly planned to show the fragments in his US museum-to-be.

ICE could have seized the papyri on an import customs violation but ignored my email.

As a quick side note, the only cultural property blog I regularly read is Paul Barford's and he's been very on the ball on this one, and blogging info when I couldn't. See for example his: Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues: Green Collection and a Certain EBay Dugup Dealer

Barford has also been on the ball when it comes to the Green scholars destroying ancient Egyptian cartonnage from mummies as part of 'education' at Baylor University; see Portable Antiquity Collecting and Heritage Issues: US Christian Apologist Fanatics Destroy Ancient Artefacts

See also Brice Jones here; Jones took this screen shot from this video.


The deliberate destruction of Egyptian antiquities to try to find fragments of Biblical texts goes against everything every reputable scholar in the world believes. And is really rather different from the image presented in the Greens' Passages Exhibition adverts:




As a government agency, ICE should not be turning a blind eye to what the Greens and their Green Scholars Initiative are doing, and I sincerely hope their agents have not done so to support fellow Christians. eBay clearly doesn't care and their mantra must be: profit before adhering to the law.

If islamic fundamentalists destroy cultural property to propagate religious propaganda  - whether it's the Taliban or ISIS - we're metaphorically up in arms. Why do we treat Christian fundamentalists differently? Why do we make allowances for the Green Collection scholars destroying ancient Egyptian mummies? If this ain't religious discrimination, I don't know what is.

Mushrooms @ La Ferme London

The best funghi porcini I have ever bought in London (oh, sod it – they're better than any I've ever picked myself too) come from François' stand at the Duke of York Square market; he's there on Saturdays with a whole host of other French produce from onions to cheese. For other markets he goes to see: @LaFermeLondon.
 
This week there are no cepes as it was too rainy in France so those available have bugs, but he is selling beautiful chanterelles.
 
 
 
Whether or not to wash funghi porcini is a matter of preference – most people will tell you to just brush the dirt off, but I think there are times when a quick rinse and wipe is fine. I also trim the tougher bits.
 
 
Put a large pan of well salted water on to boil.
 
I slice the mushrooms. Then I warm olive oil in a pan (be generous as this will be the 'sauce'), and first sautee the stems. Then I throw in a generous pinch or four of sea salt. Most people used fresh garlic, but I find it tends to singe in this recipe, so instead I used half a teaspoon of powdered garlic or garlic salt (reduce the sea salt accordingly). Then I add the sliced tops of the mushrooms and thrown fresh tagliatelle into the now boiling water.
 
The mushrooms are ready when they have all soaked up some of the oil, roughly when the pasta is ready. Throw on some chopped flat parsley, mix and serve.
 
Incidentally, the mushrooms will not freeze when raw, but do freeze well when cooked this way.