This Week in the Ancient Near East

Garbage Dump of the Gods

What happens when a temple, say, Hatshepsut’s New Kingdom temple at Deir el Bahari, throws out offerings? Are there good and bad types of garbage? Let’s face it, archaeologists will take what they can get. But isn’t “precious rubble” the name of one of Barney and Betty’s kids?

The Strange Case of the Neo-Assyrian Armor in the Chinese Tomb, or The Ballad of the One Off Wonder

Neo-Assyrian leather armor? In a Western Chinese tomb? It’s a classic, what’s up with that situation. Is it really Neo-Assyrian? How do we know? If so, how did it get there? What can we make of a sample of one? Why are we talking about Ricardo Montalban? It’s an episode so filled with questions that we’re literally bubbling over.

Even More New Amazing Iron Age Finds from a Cult Site West of Jerusalem, or, To Gaze Upon the Knees of God

A slightly lopsided Iron Age cult site just outside Jerusalem? Little human figurines, big silos, and now the stone legs of a cult statue? What’s going on beneath the highway overpass at Motza? But why is anyone surprised about another temple in Judah? Wouldn’t surprise be an indictment of our entire educational system?

The Curse of the Mummy’s Double Chins, or, It’s Better to Look Good than to Feel Good

A new study uses DNA from Egyptian mummies to literally reconstruct their faces. Oddly enough, they look like Egyptians. Is this accurate? Is it ethical? One way or another, they’re pretty good-looking. And isn’t that the main thing? Anyway, what’s with all the mummified cats?

It’s the Very Nearly Live from ASOR 2021 Conference With Extra Special Guests Edition! Part 3-The Last Waltz

Yes, we’re still here at ASOR, but now we’re interrogating an entirely new crowd about the question of conferences, namely Dr. Margaret Cohen, Professor Alexandra Ratzlaff and Professor Andrea Berlin. The questions are mostly the same, but the answers from these three leading female scholars are quite different.

It’s the Very Nearly Live from ASOR 2021 Conference With Extra Special Guests Edition! Part 2-After Hours

What happens when a bunch of archaeologists start drinking bourbon and let their graying hair down? It’s an after hours edition with the one and only Professor James Hardin, who rather charmingly, can’t stay on script. He takes us to some surprising places, including some related to archaeological storytelling.

It’s the Very Nearly Live from ASOR 2021 Conference With Extra Special Guests Edition! Part 1-The Ballroom Tapes

A conference you say? That’s right, we’re here in Chicago at the ASOR meeting with a host of guests, luminary scholars with names like Professor Eric Cline, Dr. Matthew Adams (the one with a J.), Dr. Yorke Rowan, and Professor Morag Kersel. The topic - conferences and conference experiences. There are some important lessons here.

So You Need a Stone Floor For Your Hittite Temple? I Know a Guy.

Making a floor isn’t rocket science, but style and execution count for a lot. The terrazzo floor at the 15th century Hittite sanctuary at Uşaklı Höyük might be the earliest mosaic floor, or does that honor belongs to the Minoans?  What is the relationship between power and taste? Why are the triangles blue and what does the god Teshub really think about ‘oatmeal’ as a color?

11,500 Year Old Cultic Site With Huge Stone Circles, Pillars, and Skulls Mystifies Easily Mystified Archaeologists, Or, Gimme That Really, Really, Really Old Time Religion

Where does religion come from? How did hunter-gatherers build early Neolithic Göbekli Tepe in southeastern Turkey? What’s with the gigantic carved stone pillars and the defleshed human skulls anyway? What is religion, really? Why am I asking you? It’s an episode as profound as it is, well, mystifying.

Middle Bronze Age Site Smashed by Exploding Comet, Film at 11, Or, Who You Crushing with that Cosmic Debris?

Was a Middle Bronze Age site near the Dead Sea pulverized by a cosmic air burst at 1650 BCE? Say what? The science is compelling, from the shocked quartz to the melted iridium. But was all this remembered, maybe in a Biblical story about a site in the Jordan Valley pulverized by fire from the sky? That’s the tricky part.

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