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A New Translation by Stephen Mitchell
Gilgamesh is at once our newest and our oldest, most venerable epic poem. Unlike Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, which have been broadly known since their composition around the late eighth century B.C. (except during the medieval Dark Age, when Greek learning was largely lost in the West), the first clay tablets inscribed with the Gilgamesh epic were found just 150 years ago, at the ancient Assyrian site of Nineveh in present-day northern Iraq.
Archaeology Odyssey, July/August 2005
Like the stone monuments it displays, the venerable archaeological museum stands the tests of time
Now, if a king among kings, or a governor among governors or a commander of an army should come up against Byblos and uncover this coffin, may the scepter of his rule be torn away, may the throne of his kingdom be overturned, and may peace...
Archaeology Odyssey, March/April 2000
The thousands of individual burials, the several mass burials and the animal burials all demonstrate that these were sacrificial offerings to the gods.
The evidence that Phoenicians ritually sacrificed their children comes from four sources. Classical authors and biblical prophets charge the Phoenicians with the practice. Stelae associated with burial urns found at Carthage bear decorations...
Archaeology Odyssey, November/December 2000
The rise and fall of the Hittites, Turkey’s splendid Bronze Age civilization
Just who were the Hittites? When this question began to be asked a little more than a century ago, our only knowledge of the Hittites came from the Hebrew Bible.1 Abraham buys a burial...
Archaeology Odyssey, January/February 2002
From Democracy to Monarchy in Sumer
If you read later Sumerian literature, you will think that Sumer was always a monarchy ruled by a king. That is what these later kings wanted you to believe. But this is not necessarily so. How monarchy came to Sumer is in fact a fascinating...
Archaeology Odyssey, January/February 2001
But must it be forgotten?
Turn on the Discovery Channel or the History Channel and chances are you’ll see programs about the wonderful accomplishments of the ancient Greeks and Romans. But what about that other...
Archaeology Odyssey, November/December 2000
How the ancients got high
The King David Hotel in Jerusalem has witnessed many historical scenes, some violent, others diplomatic. One of the more curious incidents took place in April 1974, when a security guard accompanying U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on an official visit to Israel happened to look out a...
Archaeology Odyssey, Winter 1999
John C. Huntington
Legendary Bamiyan! As our car neared the valley, I had no idea what to expect. Afghanistan and its friendly people promised a magnificent climax to the 18 months I had spent in Asia in...
Archaeology Odyssey, July/August 2001
The many faces of Ramesses the Great
You barely notice him in the cacophony of the modern city. Austere, stiffly formal, he is either too large or too small, slightly ridiculous amid Cairo’s dissonant traffic. The 31-foot-tall, 90-ton granite statue of the Egyptian pharaoh...
Archaeology Odyssey, September/October 2003
Rabbath Ammon it was called in ancient times, a place-name we might translate as the Ammonite Heights. During the Iron Age, it was the capital of the kingdom of Ammon, rival of the biblical Israelites. The remains of the ancient Ammonite...
Archaeology Odyssey, March/April 2002
In 1992 and 1993, at Sepphoris (in Hebrew, Tzippori) in the lower Galilee, we uncovered two inscribed amulets designed to invoke magical powers.1 It’s not abracadabra; it’s WHYHAW and AWAAA. See if that will cure your fever! These two amulets, small silver and bronze scrolls, open a fascinating...
Archaeology Odyssey, Summer 1998
History repeats itself in General Allenby’s 1918 march on Megiddo
Horses whinny softly, stamping nervously as their riders mount up in the chilly predawn air. The day’s mission looms ahead: a dangerous trek straight up the Wadi ’Ara and through the...
Archaeology Odyssey, Spring 1998
The strange ordeal of Hermann Hilprecht
European archaeologists were digging in the ancient Near East before the age of Napoleon. Americans, by contrast, were latecomers. The United States did not launch its first formal archaeological expedition in the Near East until the late...
Archaeology Odyssey, May/June 2000
To Harvard classicist Gregory Nagy, the man we call “Homer” is a myth.
The most influential Homer scholar of our generation is Gregory Nagy, Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature at Harvard University and director of the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington D.C. Nagy has permanently changed...
Archaeology Odyssey, May/June 2004
A 17th-Century Scandal in the Italian Province of Tuscany, Land of the Etruscans
One afternoon in November 1634, 19-year-old Curzio Inghirami went fishing with his 13-year-old sister in the river behind their house. Their villa, called Scornello, stood on an isolated hill in the countryside south of Volterra, the highest and most remote of the ancient Etruscan cities. On their way home Curzio amused himself by rolling stones down the riverbank. One stone uncovered a “small blackish clod,” bound together with bitumen and wax. On breaking open the bundle, he found a scroll of linen rag paper marked with strange writing.
Archaeology Odyssey, January/February 2006