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The podcast that takes archaeology exactly as seriously as it deserves. Two real professors of archaeology and one guy from a fake institution discuss cutting edge archaeological discoveries at a high professional level using technical knowledge and stuff. A scholarly podcast for the discerning listener, it’s handmade, artisanal, and bespoke! Critics say, “A cheeky and irreverent take,” and “the good kind of shenanigans.” Other critics say, “damaging to archaeology,” and “deeply discreditabl ...
 
The Near East - the region known politically as the Middle East - is the home of both a long and eventful history as well as a much longer and fascinating prehistory. Here on Pre History I will cover the story of the Near East as we know it from the archaeological study of what people left behind as hunter-gatherers turned into farmers, as villages turned into cities, and as empires rose and fell.
 
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New data shows that cities in southern Mesopotamia were often islands in the stream divided by canals with lots of open spaces. What does it mean for early urban life if you have to take a gondola to work? Did kids learn to swim at Sumerian YMCAs? Who knew that urbanism was such a splash?Door thisweekintheancientneareast
 
The discovery of cheese in a 25th Dynasty Egyptian tomb made us realize, everybody loves cheese. But what is cheese, really? And whether a spreadable chevre or a squeaky halloumi, how did people even survive it before pasteurization? Our panelists stand proudly with the cheese.Door thisweekintheancientneareast
 
A little smidgeon of a papyrus has returned from Montana to Jerusalem. Does it date to the Iron Age? Is it real? Does it contain the word Ishmael? How did it get to Montana? Our contestants are confused, as usual. Maybe more than usual, which is saying a lot.Door thisweekintheancientneareast
 
The find of ivory decorations for furniture in Iron Age Jerusalem raises many questions. Where does the furniture come from and why does it look so uncomfortable? Were these diplomatic gifts or local knockoffs? Were there really elephants wandering around Syria in this period? Isn’t that what we should really be talking about?…
 
A recent article on a button-like toy has us wondering, what are toys anyway and what are they for? Were there actually children in the past? And what is playing, really? No, really, what is playing? And that’s where things started getting sticky for us.Door thisweekintheancientneareast
 
The upcoming 100th anniversary of the discovery of King Tut’s tomb has us talking about the discoverer, Howard Carter, who seems to have had sticky fingers and a propensity to fudge the story of his find. Ethics? Morals? Does it matter? Look at all that nice stuff!Door thisweekintheancientneareast
 
New research shows that certain Late Bronze Age pots from Cyprus really did contain opium, which isn’t too surprising since they’re shaped like opium poppies. What’s going on? What was all this opium for? Was everyone in the past on drugs? Sure looks that way.Door thisweekintheancientneareast
 
A new article on Neolithic skulls raises questions, like just how did all those skulls get separated from the bodies? Were there human sacrifices in the Neolithic or were there “ancestor cults,” whatever those were? Our contestants must dodge the ick factor to get to the Truth.Door thisweekintheancientneareast
 
New data that show the chicken was domesticated vastly later than previously thought have shattered the poultry paradigm. Moreover, chickens were elite pets for centuries before someone decided to toss them in a pot. The myths of the archaic bird die hard in this fast moving and delicious episode.Door thisweekintheancientneareast
 
In the east of Anatolia and off to the north of Mesopotamia is the southern Caucasus, which is also known as Transcaucasia. This region combines being one of the last parts of the Near East to have mobile hunter-gatherers, and one of the first regions of the Near East to practice copper metallurgy. In between we have the sixth millennium cal BCE, w…
 
A new analysis has shown King Tut’s knife was made of sky iron, that’s right, iron from the sky, you know, like from a meteor, the kind from outer space. What’s so special about iron anyway and what’s the deal with diplomacy and gift giving in the Late Bronze Age? And why are we talking about bellbottoms and personal computers?…
 
The underground cult site at Başbük in southeastern Turkey has us wondering, why depict Aramean deities in an Assyrian style? Is this an Iron Age cult site or a rich guy’s rec room? Or is it both? Mukīn-abūa of Tušhan, you sly dog.Door thisweekintheancientneareast
 
The discovery of oysters and crabs at Nabatean and Roman caravan sites in the Negev has us thinking, what’s going on here? What do we learn about trade and traders from food remains? Have we been too focused on the exports and not enough on the imports? One thing is for sure, you gotta eat.Door thisweekintheancientneareast
 
The giant stone sculptures of boxers found in a first millennium BCE Sardinian cemetery have our contestants puzzled. Are these protective deities or just slightly oversized sports heroes? And why does every culture around the world first pile stones and then carve them? Didn’t they have anything better to do with their time?…
 
After all of the arguments that we saw for the Wadi Rabah as to whether it was part of the Late Neolithic or part of the Early Chalcolithic, this time we shall have a look at Anatolia in the first half of the sixth millennium cal BCE - which is widely agreed here to the Early Chalcolithic. Unlike the more widespread cultures of the Halaf or the Wad…
 
New research has begun to reconstruct the smell of ancient perfumes from Egyptian tombs. But rich folks always try to smell better. The bigger question is what did the past smell like as whole? Our contestants detect zesty notes of burning dung and a cloying variety of herbs and spices.Door thisweekintheancientneareast
 
In this episode we head south to look at one of the major cultures of the Southern Levant during the sixth millennium BCE - the Wadi Rabah. While there is a lot that we know about the Wadi Rabah culture, there is also a lot that we argue about. Really, a lot. If you have any questions or comments you can email me at prehistorypodcast@gmail.com or r…
 
A Phoenician cemetery in Spain has us talking about, well, the Phoenicians. Who were they, where did they come from, and why do we even call them Phoenicians in the first place? Isn’t that sort of ‘othering’? And where does famed character actor Michael J. Pollard fit in?Door thisweekintheancientneareast
 
A Late Byzantine/Early Islamic shipwreck off the coast of Israel has us donning our Speedos once again. Wasn’t this tramp steamer aware of the momentous political and social changes taking place on land? Who cares when you’ve got walnuts and broken glass to deliver!Door thisweekintheancientneareast
 
Wine flavored with vanilla? Why would any self respecting Jerusalemite touch the stuff except to show off? Anyway, it pairs well with other weird stuff found in Iron Age Jerusalem like shark fossils, dried fish, and writing so why not?Door thisweekintheancientneareast
 
The early Iron Age site of Har Adir in the mountains of the Upper Galilee is back in the news. Was this an 11th century fortress of a local polity or a bird watching sanctuary? How can we tell the difference? What is a polity anyway? One thing’s for sure, don’t get us started about ‘Dark Ages.’Door thisweekintheancientneareast
 
The discovery of tattoos on an upper class woman from ancient Egypt has us asking, are these magical, medical, or a right of passage? But what about the tattooed criminals in ancient Greece? Maybe this tattoo thing goes different ways. The main thing is that people in the past looked more like modern Brooklynites than we realized.…
 
A stone game board from Oman has us puzzled. Is this rare find a signpost in the evolution of human cognition or a flat rock with divots? What are games anyway? New ways to think or old ways to kill time? It’s all a game to you people, isn’t it?Door thisweekintheancientneareast
 
The Halaf culture was first discovered on the eve of the first world war at Tell Halaf in eastern Syria. The beautifully made and elaborately decorated pottery of this culture made it a sensation in the archaeology of the ancient Near East in the early twentieth century, as no one had previously imagined that small and simple farming villages could…
 
A mass grave of Crusaders at the Lebanese site of Sidon raises many questions about identity, mobility, and warfare in the 13th century. But it fits right in with our understanding of human cruelty, what with the beheadings and all, so at least there’s that.Door thisweekintheancientneareast
 
Magdala had two synagogues, or did it? How many did they need and how often did they go to synagogue anyway? Is this just a post-Enlightenment conceit about pre-Enlightenment religiosity? But which is more important, the room with the services or the one with the bingo?Door thisweekintheancientneareast
 
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?Door thisweekintheancientneareast
 
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.…
 
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?…
 
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?Door thisweekintheancientneareast
 
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.…
 
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.…
 
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.…
 
After having a look at the seventh millennium BCE across Anatolia, the Levant and Mesopotamia, it is time to come back to Cyprus and see how life changed here after 7000 cal BCE. After the end of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic on Cyprus we see the development of the Khirokitia culture. Unlike with the regions which we have talked about on the mainland, …
 
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 a…
 
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.…
 
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.…
 
A ship graveyard, a sunken ship, and a fruit basket? Our contestants take a voyage to the bottom of the sea to discuss finds from the Nile Delta and ask the important questions like, what is the connection between fruit baskets and death, and how did Iron Age maritime insurers stay in business?Door thisweekintheancientneareast
 
Now that we have seen how societies changed over the seventh millennium BCE in Anatolia, the Levant and Mesopotamia it is time to have a look at a couple of important and common developments that we see in these regions during this later part of the Neolithic. While groups of people across these regions seem to drift apart during the seventh millen…
 
Missing basilicas, poison rats, and Trojan Horses? Holy Jerusalem earthquake Batman! Yes, that too and more in our end of summer stranger than fiction fantastic archaeology ripped from the headlines roundup episode! Our contestants are on the clock and it’s like Hollywood Squares without Paul Lynde! Or is it?…
 
First sharks and now pigs? What’s going on in Iron Age Jerusalem with all these non-kosher species? Were Judeans in the shadow of the Temple noshing on something naughty or are there other explanations? Are there ever! Our panelists' speculations are unbridled in this laughter filled episode. To learn more https://www.jpost.com/archaeology/cryptic-…
 
Now that we have had a look at the seventh millennium BCE in Anatolia and the Levant, this time I want to have a look at the change from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic to the Pottery (or Late) Neolithic across the large area of Mesopotamia - the land between the rivers. If you have any questions or comments you can email me at prehistorypodcast@gmail.co…
 
It’s only four little letters, well maybe five, but another tiny Iron Age inscription has raised more than a few eyebrows. What’s the significance of this latest scribble? Is it the name of a biblical character, or the name of a guy who didn’t want his lunch stolen? And why are our panelists talking about being stuck in a suburban cul-de-sac? To le…
 
The ‘Gospel of Jesus’ Wife’ is the latest high profile example of a forged ancient text. Scholars should have known better, but hey, where’s the fun in that? When Fox Mulder meets Elaine Benes the sparks fly and scholarship takes it on the chin. Our panelists are there ringside, sagely opining. To learn more A Scholarly Screw-Up of Biblical Proport…
 
Following our look at the change into the Pottery (or Ceramic) Neolithic in Anatolia, this time we are having a look at the Pottery Neolithic (also the Late Neolithic) in the Levant. Actually, this is the Pottery Neolithic of two Levants - the northern and southern Levant. Here we have two different sets of changes after 7000 cal BCE, happening in …
 
A bunch of 80 million year old shark teeth in Iron Age Jerusalem have set the archaeological world ablaze. What are they doing there along with 10,000 fish bones and six and a half tons of pottery? It’s gotta be a joke, right? Do our panelists speculate wildly or do they jump the shark? To learn more Cache of 80-million-year-old shark teeth found i…
 
Iron Age figurines in the Southern Levant depict naked women and not a lot else. The usual explanations are goddesses or magical devices related to fertility. But isn’t everything sort of related to fertility? What were mostly male Biblical Archaeologists missing? Probably quite a bit. Our panelists wax eloquent in this family friendly episode. To …
 
Is the third millennium BCE burial mound at Tell Banat in north Syria a war memorial to the site’s defenders? What moves the living to take a random sample of human and animal bones and bury them in a mound that looms over their community? What is a kunga anyway and how does the modern sport of donkey basketball fit in? Our panelists are strangely …
 
With the end of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic the Near East moved into the Pottery Neolithic - also called the Ceramic Neolithic or Late Neolithic depending on the region. Today we can have a look at this change into the Ceramic Neolithic across Anatolia. If you have any questions or comments you can email me at prehistorypodcast@gmail.com or reach me …
 
Resurrection genomics sounds fancy, even a little scary, but in this case it means cultivating date trees from ancient seeds and then sequencing their genes. What do we learn about the antiquity of this ever-popular fruit? And if dates are so great, how come the tree is the symbol and not the fruit? Our panelists are torn, yet characteristically sw…
 
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