Archive for December 15th, 2007

A recreation that doesn’t suck

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

A team of Cardiff University archaeologists working on an ancient industrial complex in Amarna, Egypt, have recreated a glassmaking furnace, proving for the first time that the ancient Egyptians had the means to create their own glass.

Up until now, archaeologists have thought Egyptians imported glass from the near east. This recreation shows that high-heat glass production from local sand was possible.

The whole site is neat.

The team have also discovered that the glassworks was part of an industrial complex which involved a number of other high temperature manufacturing processes. The site also contained a potter’s workshop and facilities for making blue pigment and faience – a material used in amulets and architectural inlays. The site was near one of the main temples at Amarna and may have been used to produce materials in state buildings.

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His name was Captain Kidd and when he sail’d…

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

… he sail’d on the Quedagh Merchant. He left it behind in the Caribbean when he went to New York to clear his name (instead he was turned in by one of his investors and sent off to face the gibbet music in England), and now, the Quedagh Merchant seems to have been found near Catalina Island off the southern coast of the Dominican Republic.

Kidd left the Quedagh Merchant in the hands of a merchant called Henry Bolton, but the vessel was plundered and set ablaze and allowed to drift for 3 nautical miles to where it now lies below the waves.

After inspecting the wreck, Mr Beeker said said that it appeared to be a ship that was scuttled. Particularly significant are the barnacled cannons, which he believed were stacked in the hold when Kidd moved from the Adventure Galley to the Quedagh Merchant. “What you have is cannon stacked in the cargo hold in opposite directions,” he said. “This was not a wreck. There are no deployed cannons.”

There is also an empty area in the middle of the hold that might have contained 70 tons of sugar that was part of the ship’s cargo.

“As an archaeologist, I cannot say conclusively that it’s Captain Kidd’s ship, but as a betting man, I am betting on the ship,” Mr Beeker said. “The age of it is right; the stacking of the cannons; the missing section where the sugar may have been; no deployed cannons. Everything is adding up right. It’s his ship.”

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You know how people say Rome ruled all of the known world?

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

Well, it didn’t. They knew perfectly well there were all sort of places far from their imperial reach. I don’t know how this silly meme got spread, but I blame crappy junior high school textbook sloganeering.

Rome did trade with all of the known world that cared to, though. See Pune, India.

The evidence suggests that Satavahanas, the earliest rulers of Maharashtra (230 Before Christ Era), who reigned from Junnar, were engaged in a flourishing import-export trade not just with the Romans but also with the Greeks and the Persians.

The port of Kalyan on the Konkan coast offered the link for the Romans touching the Indian shores at Bharuch, to reach Junnar via the western ghat pass of Naneghat.

The Satavahanas had a taste for wine, it seems, and the Mediterranean types had an ivory, spices and silk jones.

Rome-India trade routesGrain of salt with this article, though. It makes the outlandish claim that the Roman traders sailed around Africa to get to the port of Kalyan. A combination of shorter sea voyages through the Mediterranean and Arabian seas and overland travel on the Arabian peninsula is what most likely went down.

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