Complete set of gilt silver playing cards from 1616

October 10th, 2010

There are only 4 similar sets of Renaissance silver playing card known in the world, and this is the only complete one. The engraved and gilt silver cards were made in Augsburg, Germany, by Michael Frömmer in 1616. They’re the Italian deck – ace through 10, plus knaves, knights and kings in suits of coins, cups, sticks and swords.

They weren’t made for actual playing, though, but rather for a wealthy owner to display in an elaborate curio cabinet much like this one, which was also made in 17th century Augsburg.

These cards, according to family tradition, were given to Josefa Oribe y Viana de Contucci, ancestor of the present owner, by Infanta Carlota Joaquina of Spain (1775-1830). Princess Carlota was daughter of King Carlos IV and, as wife of King João of Portugal, Princess of Portugal and Brazil. During Napoleonic struggles, Carlota was exiled to Brazil with the Portuguese Court. When Napoleon forced her father to abdicate in Spain, she became claimant to the throne of Spain and Spanish America. Following the patriotic revolution in Buenos Aires in 1810, she ordered Portuguese-Brazilian troops into Montevideo to protect the interests of the Spanish monarchy. Carlota’s emissary in South America and the director of her military efforts there was Felipe Contucci. Carlota presented these cards to Contucci’s wife, and they descended to the present owner as follows:

Doña Josefa de Oribe y Viana (b. 13 September 1789), wife of Felipe Contucci, emissary of Princess Carlota in South America

Agustina Contucci y Oribe, daughter of Doña Josefa and wife of General Manuel Ceferino de Oribe y Viana (1792-1857), President of Uruguay 1835-1838, then by direct descent to the present owner

The set will go on sale at Christie’s Important Silver sale on October 19. The estimated sale price is $150,000-250,000 (a sum I can’t help but point out is far smaller than the what the Turner and Delahaye Roadster ending up going for).

Given the exquisite provenance, Michael Frömmer’s renown as maker of silver card sets including a French-suited deck that is part of the Pomeranian Kunstschrank, the most famous curiosity cabinet of the era, and it’s complete beauty, I would expect that estimate to be well exceeded.

Gilt silver Italian-suited playing cards by Michael Frömmer of Augsburg, 1616

I would love to play a rousing game of Scopa with that set, curio cabinet be damned.

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Bulgarian museums fight over Thracian gold

October 9th, 2010

The Panagyurishte Gold Treasure is a group of 9 gold vessels from the late 4th/early 3rd century B.C. Thrace that was discovered outside the town of Panagyurishte in the province of Plovdiv, Bulgaria, in 1949. Three brothers, Pavel, Petko and Michail Deikovs, were digging clay for the production of bricks at the nearby Merul tile factory when they found what they thought were funny looking wind instruments. They didn’t even realize the strange “whistles” were made of gold, but they brought them to the mayor’s office where officials called in specialists from the Plovdiv Archeological Museum to examine the artifacts.

Panagyurishte Thracian Gold Treasure, 4th/3rd c. B.C>The “wind instruments” turned out to be gold rhytons, intricately drinking vessels in the shape of a bull’s horn with an open pouring end and a drinking spout at the pointed end, hence the Deikovs brothers’ confusing them for the kinds of horns you blow on. There were 4 rhytons in the set, 2 carved in the shape of rams’ heads, 1 carved in the shape of a deer’s head, the last shaped like the head, torso and front legs of a he-goat. The remaining 5 pieces were 3 decanters in the form of an amazon head, a shallow dish called a phiale decorated with a concentric circle design of African heads and acorns, and a large amphora with fighting centaur handles and carved Greek mythological reliefs, including scenes from Hercules’ life and the Trojan War.

The total weight in the set is 6 kg (13.2 lb) of 23-karat gold. The weight of each piece is marked in Greek drachmae and Persian darics. The marks are similar to ones found on Hellenistic gold artifacts from Lampsak, a Hellenic colony on the southern Black Sea in what is today Turkey. Archaeologists think they may have been commissioned from Lampsak goldsmiths by Thracian king Seuthes III. Alternatively, the goldsmiths may have been Hellenic-trained local artisans. Other high quality gold pieces have been found in the area, so the latter explanation has gained more currency lately.

Anyway, this is one of the most famous and precious Thracian finds. The Panagyurishte Treasure has traveled the world, most recently last year in Japan. When it’s at home in Bulgaria, it is part of the permanent collection of the National History Museum in Sofia. It’s scheduled to tour the US in 2 months, but between now and then, the Treasure is on display at the Plovdiv Archaeological Museum. It arrived under heavy guard on Friday, and now Plovdiv’s Mayor, Slavcho Atanasov, doesn’t want to let it go.

“That’s it, now that it is in, we are not letting it go. We will guard it with human chains,” vowed Atanasov who claims that the treasure found in the town of Panagyurishte, which is technically in the Plovdiv District, belongs to the Plovdiv Museum, and not to the National History Museum in Sofia.

Bozhidar Dimitrov, Bulgaria’s current Diaspora Minister and former head of the National History Museum, has slammed the agreement between the national museum and the museum in Plovdiv, under which the people of Plovdiv should be able to enjoy the treasure for 2 months.

“I would never give the Panagyurishte Gold Treasure to a regional museum. It is Bulgaria’s greatest asset as far as its cultural heritage is concerned,” Dimitrov said.

The agreement, however, has been approved by Bulgaria’s Culture Minister Vezhdi Rashidov, who is in charge of the museums.

“Who is the Minister of Culture – Bozhidar Dimitrov or I?” Rashidov has told the media, who also said that in two months the Panagyurishte Gold Treasure is going to be put on display in the USA.

Atanasov doesn’t have a problem in principle with the Treasure going on display abroad; he just wants it on his turf whenever it’s in the country. The internecine tug of war could put a spanner in the works, though, since Mayor Atanasov has threatened to give the Sofia museum the copies the Plovdiv museum usually has on display and keep the real thing.

The Panagyurishte Gold used to be on display in Plovdiv, but it was removed in 1974 by Sofia authorities because they claimed Plovdiv didn’t have the proper security to keep it safe. Since then the Treasure has been around the world, but this is the first time it’s been back to Plovdiv in 36 years. The Plovdiv Museum has a brand new security system now, more state-of-the-art than the National History Museum’s, says Atanasov, and the gold has remained officially part of the Plovdiv’s Museum inventory all this time, so as far as he’s concerned, the Treasure should stay.

My prediction is the Panagyurishte Gold will be winging its way to the US in 2 months and Sofia will get its way in the end, but who knows? Stay tuned for more exciting Bulgarian museum melodrama.

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Camp Lawton artifacts on display

October 8th, 2010

Silver jewelry, possibly a memento from a loved oneThe wealth of artifacts discovered at the Confederate prison of Camp Lawton this summer are going on display starting tomorrow at the Georgia Southern University Museum. The exhibit will run until May 1st of next year.

German George Washington token, possibly valued as a cent in prison currencyArchaeologists weren’t expecting to find much more than evidence of the temporary structure — postholes from the stockade, for instance — but because the prison was evacuated in a rush on the run from Sherman’s troops, prisoners had to leave many of their belongings behind. After the war, the location was neglected and forgotten, then it was a protected government hatchery, so unlike every other stockaded Civil War prison, Camp Lawton was never picked clean by sight-seers and hobbyist.

Some of the artifacts on display include a name inscribed clay pipe, an actual rifle used by one of the Confederate guards — as well as a picture of the guard — a large collection of coins and buttons and other mementos.

“The items are important because they give insight to the individual that was there,” said Kimi Stone, senior curator. “A lot of them display very individual characteristics.”

The exhibit will also feature the illustrations of Robert Sneden, a Union prisoner interned at Camp Lawton.

Sneden was an experienced mapmaker and drew sketches of everyday Camp Lawton life, which he kept hidden from Confederate wardens by sewing the drawings into the lining of his coat.

Sneden was a Union private originally from Nova Scotia. He had worked as an apprecentice architect in New York, so when he volunteered for the 40th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment in 1861, they soon put him to work drafting campaign maps. He was witness to and depicted some of the most famous engagements of the war, like the Second Battle of Bull Run/Manassas, Antietam, the siege of Yorktown.

Sneden watercolor of inside Camp LawdonHe was captured in November 1863 at Brandy Station, Va., then moved to Georgia where he was kept prisoner at the notorious Andersonville prison. When Camp Lawton was built to alleviate the severe overpopulation at Andersonville, Sneden was one of the prisoners transferred. He sketched assiduously at Camp Lawton, taking advantage of the greater freedom allowed him outside of the stockade as a prison parolee. Legend has it he sewed the drawings into the lining of his clothes to keep them safe from his captors.

When he was finally exchanged after 13 months of internment, he returned to New York, wrote a memoir, and made watercolors from his sketches at the front and in prison camps. He died in obscurity, his work unknown, in 1918, until it was found in 1993 in a bank vault in Connecticut, then sold to the Virginia Historical Society.

His watercolors and drawings are the largest collection of Civil War art by a single artist known to exist. Sneden’s diary was published in 2000 as Eye of the Storm, and the full collection of over 300 images was published as Images from the Storm the next year.

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Helmet sells for $3.6 million to anonymous bidder

October 7th, 2010

Tear helmetThe magnificent Crosby Garret cavalry helmet found by a metal detectorist earlier this year sold to an anonymous phone bidder at a Christie’s auction today for £2.3 million ($3.6 million), over 8 times the risibly low pre-sale estimate. Six bidders, 3 over the phone, 2 in the room and 1 over the internet from California thought to be the Getty, duked it out for a mere 4 minutes before the hammer fell.

The Tullie House museum, a small local museum in Carlisle, had worked feverishly over the past month to raise money so it could purchase the helmet for local display. They received £100,000 from the public, £1million from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, plus more from corporate sponsors and the Cumbria County Council. These herculean efforts enabled the museum to stay in the bidding up to an amazing £1.7 million, but in the end they fell short.

“I’m still shaking,” Andrew Mackay, senior curator at the museum, said moments later. “Cumbria has had a few bad knocks recently, and this fundraising campaign was a good news story for the area, so this is a real blow. People will be terribly disappointed – we had thousands of pounds coming in every day, and children literally emptying their piggy banks.

“We are now very, very anxious to talk to the buyer to see where we go next.”

First they have to found out who it is. Christie’s won’t talk. They protect the anonymity of their clients like they’re frikkin priests. They won’t even say if the bidder is in Britain or out of the country. If it’s a British collector and he isn’t interested in loaning it for display, Tullie House and everyone else is screwed. The helmet will disappear into the shadowy Gollumworld of private collecting.

If it was an overseas buyer, there’s hope. They would have to apply for an export license and there’s a good chance they wouldn’t get one. The Culture Ministry can impose a temporary export bar on artifacts deemed of outstanding significance to national history, and if in-country institutions are able to raise enough money to match the helmet’s cost, then the Tullie House will get a second bite at the apple.

Meanwhile, the gigantic loophole in the Treasure Act this travesty has exposed may well be closed as a result. There was supposed to be a review of the treasure laws 3 years ago which would have ensured single objects like this one which are neither hoards nor made from precious metals but are still of incalculable historic value would qualify as legal treasure, and therefore be sold to museums for the fair market value as assessed by experts. The review never happened. This cause célèbre should light a fire under some asses.

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RFK’s copy of Emancipation Proclamation on sale

October 6th, 2010

The original handwritten copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, the executive order freeing all slaves in the rebel states issued by President Lincoln in 1863, is in the National Archives, but some printed copies signed by Lincoln and Secretary of State William Seward were made the next year for public sale.

Emancipation Proclamation signed copyForty-eight of these copies were printed in 1864 and sold for 10 dollars each to raise money for the Sanitary Commission, a forerunner of the Red Cross. Over the 150 or so years since then, half of them have disappeared. Out of the 24 remaining, 14 are in museums and other public institutions, and 10 in private collections.

One of them was purchased by Robert F. Kennedy in the summer of 1964, a hundred years after Lincoln and Seward autographed it for charity, for $9,500. He hung it on a wall in his 1840s mansion in McLean, Virginia. Robert Kennedy had been a vigorous enforcer of civil rights as Attorney General under his brother and Lyndon Johnson. Not only did he send U.S. Marshals to Oxford, Mississippi, to enforce the admittance of the first Black student, James Meredith, to the University of Mississippi and worked with Presidents Kennedy and Johnson to craft the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act, but he actively worked to desegregate the executive branch of government, which had been all-white since virulent racist Woodrow Wilson had resegregated the White House while preaching about keeping the world safe for democracy.

In a speech at the White House centennial ceremony, Kennedy spoke of furthering Lincoln’s work: “We have had a great deal of talk in the past 100 years about equality. Deed, not talk, is what is needed now. … We must do more because nations which are free, people who would be free, look to us for leadership, not merely in strength of arms, but in strength of convictions.” [...]

Princeton journalism professor Evan Thomas, a historian, said he wasn’t surprised that RFK would want to own such an important document.

“He enforced and pursued civil rights in a way that no one else in the attorney general’s office ever had,” he said. “He went down South and saw the injustice there, and he was determined to do something about it. … He captured some of the spirit of Lincoln.”

The McLean house was sold last year, and now Ethel Kennedy, RFK’s widow, is putting the Emancipation Proclamation copy up for auction at Sotheby’s New York on December 10th for an estimated sale price of $1.5 million. Sotheby’s will exhibit the document in Boston, Philadelphia and New York before the sale.

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Victorian pier in Hastings destroyed by arson

October 5th, 2010

Hastings Pier destroyed by arsonAt around one o’clock this morning, a fire broke out on the historic Victorian pier at Hastings in Sussex, England. Over 50 firefighters and 2 lifeboat crews tried to contain the blaze, but by the time the flames were put out 7 hours later, 95% of the superstructure had been destroyed. Thankfully nobody was injured. Two young men aged 18 and 19 have been arrested on suspicion of arson.

Hastings Pier in 1912, original pavilion at the endThe Hastings Pier was built in 1872 by premier pier designer Eugenius Birch. It was known as the “peerless pier.” The original structure was a 910 feet long wooden boardwalk built on a lattice girder framework supported by 14 cast iron piers.

It was the first seaside pleasure pier to have a large pavilion built on it. The original pavilion seated 2,000 people but it too was destroyed by fire in 1917. It was rebuilt even bigger in 1922 and would be renovated again along with several adjacent buildings in Art Deco style in the 1930s.

Although the pier would begin to decline in popularity after World War II, the pavilion saw a brief revival in the 60s as a concert venue for famous musicians like The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix. It also hosted the Bayeux Tapestry during celebrations of the 900th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings in 1966.

The buildings and structure weren’t maintained well and storm damage to some of the structural columns raised concerns about the pier’s safety. It was closed to the public between 1999 and 2002, then opened again briefly under new ownership and closed again in 2006. A local historical preservation society, Hastings Pier & White Rock Trust, just this year succeeded in persuading the Hastings council to buy the pier from its current owners using compulsory purchase powers (the British version of eminent domain) as long as funding could be found, and were inviting architects to submit restoration designs.

Despite the devastation of the fire, since 7 of Birch’s original cast iron piers and the lattice framework are still standing, albeit in a weakened state, there is still hope that Hastings Pier might pull through.

Anthony Wills, from the National Piers Society, said: “All is not lost for Hastings. It will take more than two kids with a box of matches to destroy Hastings pier. It has lasted since 1872 and it has been through plenty of crises before.”

Wills said the £50m rebuilding of the Grand pier at Weston-super-Mare, following a similar fire in 2008, provided hope to campaigners in Hastings.

Andy Brown, south-east regional director of English Heritage, agreed that a new pier could rise from the ashes: “There’s a long history of piers catching fire and buildings being replaced. Sadly this is normal.

“The engineering importance of piers survives these fires. The saga of the West pier at Brighton was on the same lines. Despite all the damage it was only when a big storm knocked down the bulk of original structure that we finally threw in the towel.”

Let’s hope it’s a mild autumn and winter, then. Here is some heartbreaking footage of the pier engulfed in flames shot by YouTube user bekka13xx who lives across from it.

To learn more about the history of Hastings Pier, see this Hastings Chronicle essay.

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Faces of the Civil War at the Library of Congress

October 4th, 2010

Tom Liljenquist, a jeweler from McLean, Virginia, has donated his collection of 700 high quality ambrotype and tintype portrait photographs of Civil War soldiers to the Library of Congress. He and his three sons spent 15 years building the collection which they decided to donate so they would be preserved in digital perpetuity and so that these important images could be shared with the public without fees or restrictions.

The collection represents an important resource in early photography. The ambrotype made use of the wet plate colloidion process on glass to create images that were cheaper than — and in some ways more attractive than — the daguerrotype. The tintype or ferrotype, which came into use at about the same time as the ambrotype — in the 1850s — was made by creating a direct positive images on treated iron metal.

As an historical archive, the Liljenquist family collection shows Civil War garb, weapons, musical instruments and family portraits.

Carl, died in the Civil War at just 18 years oldCarol M. Johnson, curator of photography in the LoC’s prints and photographs division, calls the collection “a landmark gift.” Some of the rarer pieces depict Black uniformed soldiers and portraits of soldiers with their wives and children. Most of the pictures are unmarked so we don’t know who the subjects were or who photographed them, but a handful of notes of historical information pinned to the photo cases have survived.

The picture on the right is a childhood portrait of a soldier named “Carl”. That’s a lock of his hair on the left and underneath the note from a parent says “My beloved son Carl taken from me on April 1, 1865, at age 18, killed at Dinwiddie. Flights of angels wing thee to thy rest.” The battles at Dinwiddie Court House (March 31) and and Five Forks (April 1) took place just 10 days before Lee surrendered at Appomattox on April 9th, 1865. :(

The entire collection will be exhibited in April 2011, coinciding with the 150th anniversary of the start of the war, but the Library of Congress has been working assiduously to digitize the pictures and put them online. They’ve made sure to digitize all the pictures in their period cases, which are not only beautiful but valuable artifacts in and of themselves. Over half of the collection is online already, and new pictures are being added every week.

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Ancient Roman spa in Turkey about to be flooded

October 3rd, 2010

Nymph fountain in situ at Allianoi (has been removed now)The 2nd century Roman thermal spa complex of Allianoi outside of Bergama (ancient Pergamon) in Turkey’s Izmir Province is in the process of being filled in with sand. Cranes and dump trucks manned by workers from the Turkish State Waterworks Directorate are filling the whole site — 17-foot walls, mosaics, colonnaded porticoes, the still-working thermal spa fed by a natural hot spring and much, much more — in preparation for the entire valley being flooded and turned into an irrigation reservoir for area farmers.

This nightmare has been in the offing for 5 years. Organizations like Europa Nostra and UNESCO have tried to stop construction of the Yortanlı Dam and the subsequent flooding of the valley, but they were only able to delay the project. The Turkish government could not be budged. Now the dam is built and the flooding is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

In theory this sand filling is meant to preserve the site so it won’t be damaged in the flooding, but the government is refusing to allow archaeologists access so it’s not like they’re going about this in a responsible way. The flippant comments from officials are hardly soothing.

Environment Minister Veysel Eroglu … said in late August: “Allianoi does not exist, it is an invention… There is just a hot spring like many others across Turkey.”

His remarks were roundly criticized while the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), the European non-governmental preservation organization Europa Nostra and archaeologists from the European Union urged the Turkish government in a letter to preserve the “common heritage” at Allianoi.

But the game seems to be over: Culture Minister Ertugrul Gunay quashed hope of saving Allianoi last week when he dismissed the idea of questioning the local archaeological commission’s decision in late August to bury the site for preservation.

“After all, Allianoi remained underground for a long time and it surfaced only during drilling works,” he said.

Professor Ahmet Yaraş, who excavated the site for 9 years and is now the leader of the Turkish NGO Allianoi Initiative (in Turkish only), is horrified. He believes 80% of the site has yet to be excavated and that the filling will, at best, do no good at all. Once the valley is flooded, sediment will build up quickly, so even if in some nebulous future the site were drained, archaeologists would have to dig through 20 feet of sediment to even get to the sand fill.

This isn’t the first time Turkey has dammed and flooded an area, submerging its ancient heritage. They’ve been building dams since the 70s to extend agricultural productivity and hydroelectric power, and sadly, preserving cultural patrimony just doesn’t seem to be a priority for the politicians.

Allianoi site, reconstructed thermal baths on the front right

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Neat things to do and read

October 2nd, 2010

Instead of doggedly pursing a single obsession, this weekend I’ve been flitting about, enjoying a variety of historical perspectives. Since I don’t really have a single story I want to focus on, I figure I’ll do something other blogs do regularly but I almost never do: share a bunch of links.

Boticelli's Venus totally wants youFirst on the list is the extreme closeup awesomeness of HaltaDefinizione. It’s a company that has a unique photographic system which allows them to take pictures at such a depth of detail that you can literally examine paintings a millimeter at a time. They’re so dense, some of them are almost 20 million pixels in surface area, composed from over 1000 individual photographs.

Most of its offerings are for paying customers only — including restorers, government ministries, museums, etc — but a few masterpieces of Renaissance art are available for free (albeit watermarked) browsing just for the next 4 months. Take advantage!

You can get so close you can see just how few paint chips are actually left on the wall of Leonardo’s Last Supper, or the tiny little barely-there self-portrait of Caravaggio to the right of the white reflection in Bacchus’ pitcher of wine, or count the flowers on Spring’s robe in Boticelli’s Primavera.

Each painting can take a few seconds to load so be patient. Be sure to click the fullscreen icon (bottom right) and then zoom at will. There’s also a nifty ruler icon that shows you the real life dimensions of what you’re viewing.

Now for some highly entertaining reading. A Short, Incomplete, and Somewhat Random List of People Who Have Had Their Heads Impaled on a Spike on London Bridge from Lawrence Person’s blog is exactly what it sounds like, plus it has lots and lots of links for the interested macabre reader to expand upon the short random list.

Next up, a fascinating article on The Cult of Celebrity in Georgian England by historian Lucy Inglis. She posits Queen Elizabeth I as the first modern celebrity, someone who deliberately crafted a Warrior/Virgin Queen persona congruent with Anglo-Saxon traditions of heroism and distinct from her actual personality. The article moves on to cover the 18th century proliferation of the press and growth of The Beauty as a pivotal factor in celebrity.

Garum amphora, mosaic from the villa of Aulus Umbricius Scaurus, PompeiiFinally, we have a series. It’s a multi-part history of condiments called De Condimentis. I stronly suggest you bookmark the series and check back every week for the latest installment. The author, Tom Nealon, has thus far written 3 parts. The first is an overview, starting with the ancients-to-modern trajectory of fish sauce. The second is about the role the fifth flavor, umami, plays in condiments. As an ancillary benefit, the article includes the greatest description of Marmite ever articulated:

Marmite is the pinnacle of fraudulent protein engineering and may be directly responsible for the “steely resolve” of the British during the two World Wars. It’s salty, brown, sticky, vegetarian, and a little like dropping a shot of Jagermeister in a glass of soy sauce.

Isn’t that exactly what Marmite tastes like?! A Jager bomb in soy sauce. That’s it, man. La phrase juste.

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Hear ancient Babylonian spoken after 2000 years

October 1st, 2010

Stele of Codex Hammurabi, 1792-1750 B.C., LouvreCambridge University Akkadian grammar expert Martin Worthington has recorded spoken Babylonian, the language of Gilgamesh and Hammurabi, which faded out of usage 2000 years ago. We can’t be sure this is how Babylonian sounded, of course, but Worthington thinks they’ve gotten pretty close to the mark by comparing it to related languages that are still spoken.

The Babylonian language, written on clay tablets in cuneiform script, dominated the Near East for centuries before it was gradually displaced by Aramaic. After a long decline, it disappeared from use altogether sometime in the first century A.D. — and was only deciphered nearly two millennia later by 19th-century European academics.

Worthington, who specializes in the study of Babylonian language and literature, said he got the idea of posting audio recordings of the ancient tongue to the Web because “the questions which students of ancient languages most frequently hear from laymen are: ‘How did they sound? And how do you know?’”

He said scholars have a pretty good idea of what Babylonian sounded like by comparing the language to its Semitic cousins — Hebrew and Arabic — and by picking out Babylonian words written in Greek or Aramaic. The vowel patterns within Babylonian itself also provide clues as to how some words are supposed to sound, he said.

The recordings range from different versions and chapters of the Epic of Gilgamesh, to excerpts from the Codex Hammurabi (the ancient law code from around 1790 B.C.), to a rather curious incantation meant to prevent dog bites.

The Ishtar poems, Ammiditana’s hymn to Ishtar and Ishtar’s Descent to the Netherworld, are both quite sexy, the first praising her hotness and the second lamenting its loss when she goes to hell. Versions of the former are read by two different experts, Karl Hecker and Doris Prechel. It’s interesting to compare the two and hear the differences in the readers’ accents and emphases.

Ammiditana’s Hymn to Ishtar, read by Karl Hecker

Ammiditana’s Hymn to Ishtar, read by Doris Prechel

You can listen to all 30 recordings read by a dozen experts and read along with both the cuneiform script and the English translation on Worthington’s website. Click the link to launch the audio file directly; click the book icon to the right of the link to see the written versions (there’s a link to the recording at the top of each page). More readings will be uploaded as they are recorded.

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