Scientific Activities in COVID Epoch? 4th Warsaw Seminar on Underwater Archaeology is on Next Week!

Previous year was not easy at all, also for archaeologists. Possibilities of fieldwork were very limited, especially for abroad expeditions, and the conferences happened nearly only in the virtual reality.

As the previous editions of the Warsaw Seminar on Underwater Archaeology gave both the participants and organizers loads of positive effects and satisfaction, we agreed that we don’t want to be pushed into the Internet! We succeeded in moving the funds forward in time (like in case of the previous one, also this edition is sponsored by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, DNK/SN/464684/2020) and – finally – we meet in November! And you can join us live via YouTube channel of Faculty of Archaeology, University of Warsaw!

4th Warsaw Seminar on Underwater Archaeology will take place on the 18–20 of November 2021. Deadline for applications passed in April. Also this time, despite the pandemic, a huge interest of both ‘old friends’ and ‘debutants’ is close to sensational. We will host the researchers not only from Poland, but also Italy, Greece, Slovenia, Montenegro, Turkey, Croatia, Spain, Slovenia, Germany, Russia, Wales, Austria, and Switzerland…

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Bi(bli)oArch: Bibliographic database for human bioarchaeological studies in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East

Scholars from the Cyprus Institute, Nicosia, have prepared a bibliographic database for human bioarchaeological studies in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East (EMME), chronologically covering skeletal assemblages from prehistory to early modern times.

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1739 BC – year when the Sumerian civilization collapsed

Sumerians are known as the founders of the urban civilization that dominated in southern Mesopotamia in the 4th and 3rd millennia BC. They developed a network of irrigation channels that made it possible to cultivate cereals in desert areas of the Lower Euphrates, introduced an ideographic script, initially pictographic and then simplified to the form of cuneiform characters impressed in wet clay, built the biggest cities in the world at that time, with monumental temples and enormous palaces.

Najważniejsze miasta południowej Mezopotamii pod koniec III tysiąclecia p.n.e. Sumer rozciąga się od Eridu do Nippur, obszar między Kisz a Sippar był zamieszkany przez Akadów, a w II tysiącleciu stanowił trzon państwa babilońskiego. Na mapie został zaznaczony przybliżony zasięg Zatoki Perskiej na przełomie III i II tysiąclecia Near_East_topographic_map-blank.svg: Sémhur (na podstawie licencji CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
The most important cities of Mesopotamia in the late 3rd millennium BC. Sumer stretches from Erid to Nippur, the region between Kish and Sippar was occupied by Akkadians, then in the 2nd millennium it was the core of the Babylonian state. The map shows the range of the Persian Gulf in the late 3rd and early 2nd millennium BC
Near_East_topographic_map-blank.svg: Sémhur(published under CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

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Rapid change of climate did not cause the fall of the Akkadian Empire

The latest issue of Antiquity published a paper presenting results of biochemical analyses of human bones from a few sites situated in north-eastern Syria, and showing on this basis that in the 22nd century BC, when the Akkadian Empire was declining, there was no change in the local economy which could be a response to a long-term drought, and even if there was a temporary climate change, the local human societies survived it in a good condition.

Stela upamiętniająca zwycięstwo nad plemionami górskimi odniesione przez Naram-Sina, króla imperium akadyjskiego w latach około 2254–2218 p.n.e. © F. Romero, France - Paris - Musée du Louvre, na podstawie licencji CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Stele commemorating a defeat of mountain tribes by Naram-Sin, the king of the Akkadian Empire in 2254-2218 BC. 
© F. Romero, France – Paris – Musée du Louvre, published under CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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The Dawn of the Polish State

The circumstances surrounding the birth of the Polish state have been a source of fascination for a long time. Currently there are a number of research projects, conferences and individual studies that are looking at this issue in an interdisciplinary way. However, there are still many questions.

The book The Dawn of the Polish State, both to professionals and to the wider audience, shows a colourful picture of the past from a thousand years ago, but also illustrates the contribution of archaeology to the exploration of the roots of the state, Poland and Poles.

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Pomerium – new discovery

On 17 July 2021, an important and rare discovery was made during archaeological works carried out near the recently restored Mausoleum of Augustus in the Piazza Augusto Imperatore, just off the Via del Corso in Rome. A sizable travertine block (pomerium cippus) was unearthed, which defined the sacred boundary (pomerium) of Rome extended by Emperor Claudius in 49 AD. Although the discovered block is only partially preserved, with he censorial power of the the ruler (line 6) and a final formula: 

[au]ctis populi R[omani] / finibus, pomerium / ampliavit terminavitque 

(lines 7 – 9) 

linking this inscription to the activities of Claudius and similar cippi is most reasonable.

Why is the recent discovery in Rome so unique and of such a great significance?

Moment odkrycia pomerium © Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali
Discovery of the pomerium
© Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali

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Legitimization of the Elites in Poland and Norway – series of minilectures

A series of six mini-lectures was published by ELITES – Symbolic Resources and Political Structures on the Periphery: Legitimization of the ELITES in Poland and Norway, c. 1000 – 1300.The project focuses on the forms and means of symbolic power the members of the political elites in the two peripheral areas of Europe (Norway and Poland) employed to manifest their privilege right to rule to their peers and subjects.

The mini-lectures (in Polish and English, with subtitles) by an interdisciplinary team from the University of Warsaw and the University of Oslo, in partnership with the Museum of the Origins of the Polish State in Gniezno, deal with the legitimacy of elites in Poland and Norway and discuss topics such as:

 

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Climate Change and State Evolution

Despite substantial evidence on the short-term effects of adverse climate shocks, our understanding of their long-term impact is limited.  To address such a key issue, research has focused on ancient societies because of their limited economic complexity and their unparalleled experience of environmental and institutional change.  Notably, ‘Collapse Archaeology’ literature has reported statistical evidence consistent with the mantra that severe droughts trigger institutional crises.  This view, however, has recently been challenged by literature summarized in the paper Climate Change and State Evolution by Giacomo Benati and Carmine Guerriero.

Ziggurat w Nippur (współczesny Nuffar, Irak), niegdyś centrum religijne południowej Mezopotamii. Nawet jeśli uznajemy wywołany przez przemiany środowiska upadek starożytnych społeczeństw, to aby właściwie ocenić pełny wpływ zmian klimatycznych i związanych z nimi zmian politycznych, musimy odpowiednio połączyć wyniki analiz nauk przyrodniczych i społecznych © G. Benati
Ziggurat of Nippur (modern Nuffar, Iraq), once at the center of a key religious Mesopotamian polity and cultic center. Even if the environmental induced collapse of ancient societies has attracted much attention, to correctly evaluate the full impact of climate change and inform policy intervention we need to properly combine natural and social sciences. 
©  G. Benati

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Migration in Europe at the turn of Antiquity and the Middle Ages

An international team led by Prof. Aleksander Bursche has recently finished compiling the course and processes of migration in Central Europe at the end of Antiquity in a monographic form. The two-volume publication is the result of a six-year Maestro NCN project, during which archaeologists, anthropologists, historians and palaeobotanists studied cultural, ethnic, social, demographic and ecological relations from the late 4th to the late 6th centuries. It resulted in the re-evaluation of written sources, archives, archaeological and palynological materials.  A number of excavations were also carried out during the course of the project, as well as numerous anthropological, geophysical and palaeobotanical analyses of the sediments and pollen collected.

Monografia Migrations in Europe on the turn of the Antiquity and Middle Ages © P. Deska, A. Zapolska
Monograph Migrations in Europe on the turn of the Antiquity and Middle Ages
© P. Deska, A. Zapolska

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Bioarchaeology of the Near East – volume 14 is now available

After a few months of pandemic delay, the new volume of Bioarchaeology of the Near East has been issued online. This time, there are four regular papers and five short fieldwork reports, as well as the obituaries of Holger Schutkowski and Alina Wiercińska, two longtime members of the journal’s Editorial Board who passed away in the last two years.

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