Archaeology Odyssey, Winter 1998


Special Section

Who Invented the Alphabet

The Semites or the Greeks?

By Barry B. Powell

I would make the startling suggestion that the alphabet was invented by a single human being, who created this remarkable technology to record the Greek hexameters of the poet we call Homer. Certainly everyone agrees that the invention of the alphabet made possible the development of philosophy,...Read more ›

Who Invented the Alphabet

A Different View

By P. Kyle McCarter Jr.

Barry Powell should have listened to his grammar school teacher. It was the Phoenicians who invented the alphabet. The Phoenician script was strictly consonantal. Vowels were not represented, and the reader was required to supply them from his or her knowledge of the language. This system worked...Read more ›


Can Archaeology Discover Homer’s Troy?

Following in the footsteps of Heinrich Schliemann, modern archaeologists give a surprising answer to the question, Who were the fabled Trojans?

By Birgit Brandau

King Agamemnon rose to his feet: “Friends, Zeus vowed to me long ago that I should never embark for home till I had brought the walls of Ilium crashing down.” “Metal object, biconvex.” Thus wrote English archaeologist Donald Easton in his...Read more ›

Searching for the Historical Homer

By Carol G. Thomas

Did a man named Homer really live? And are the poems attributed to him, the Iliad and the Odyssey, rooted in actual history? Generations of scholars have wrestled with these problems and provided widely different solutions. But does it really matter? Perhaps the scholarly disputes over the...Read more ›

Reading Homer After 2,800 Years

Why the Iliad and the Odyssey fascinate us today

By Jasper Griffin

The Iliad and the Odyssey were composed nearly 3,000 years ago, and they are still constantly translated, imitated, dramatized and—above all—read. In a world in which few things stay in fashion for more than a single season, that is indeed a surprising fact. It is also a...Read more ›

Invoking the Spirit

Prehistoric religion at Ain Ghazal

By Gary O. Rollefson

Two of the oldest temples in the world—dating back more than 8,000 years—have recently been found at a site called Ain Ghazal, outside of Amman, Jordan. The site is already famous for its lifelike, nearly life-size plaster statues. With the two temples discovered in 1995 and 1996,...Read more ›