Weekend Reading: Shipwrecks, Scrolls and Skeletons



This week there have been so many interesting news stories about ancient evidence that I’ve been having a terrible time focusing on my huge pile of marking! So here are the top three stories which have caught my eye this week. For anyone about to write an essay on the value of particular types of evidence, the importance of new techniques of analysis or the reporting of ancient-world news, there are some great case studies here!


  1. The Museum of the Bible Forgeries

This story – with forged scrolls, fraud and skulduggery – is a fascinating one. It’s caused a lot of controversy, both because of how the story has been spun by the Museum and because of how the press has reported it. Here’s a sample of the mainstream media coverage of the ‘fake’ Dead Sea Scrolls, the press release by the Museum, and a critical article identifying what some people see as the real issues.

The Guardian 

The Independent

The Atlantic 

Press release

Analysing the situation – Hyperallergic



  1. The Greek shipwreck

The recently dated Greek shipwreck has been making headlines this week around the world. Apart from the fact that it’s a remarkable discovery, it’s also fun to see how different publications emphasise different elements. The Telegraph floats the possibility of ‘treasure’. The Sun calls it the ‘Odysseus’ Vessel, and gives us some nice information on Sirens. The Daily Mail tells us, rather surprisingly, that ‘The ship, found 1.3 miles under the surface, could shed new light on the ancient Greek tale of Odysseus tying himself to a mast to avoid being tempted by sirens.’ Many publications offer infographics comparing the depth of the shipwreck to the Shard, the Empire State Building or both. I do like a snazzy infographic.


From coverage in The Times.


The Guardian (video)

The Times

The Telegraph 

The Sun 

The Daily Mail 

The BBC 


The Sun summarises Homer.


  1. The Skeletons of Pompeii

After last week’s excitement over the Pompeian graffito, this week another find has emerged; a number of skeletons found barricaded in a house. The skeletons have caught the imagination of the media, because of the insight into how real people responded to the eruption of Vesuvius – and much has been made of the evidence that their remains may once have been disturbed by looters. They’ve also captured the attention of scholars. Since so many of the skeletons of Pompeii were discovered decades or centuries ago, these new finds offer a lot of scope for new methods of analysis.


The Telegraph 



… and my favourite headline, from The Sun,

Skeletons of kids trying to shelter from Vesuvius eruption may unlock secrets of Pompeii



In Other News

Digital archaeology in Petra – Smithsonian 

ABC News upsets Egyptian officials – Egypt Today 

Reviewing MetamorphicaThe Guardian 

Solving the mystery of an unidentified object – The Daily Mail 

Music in the Baths – Ansa 

In Yorkshire and looking for a research project? – Yorkshire Museum

Fighting to keep a mosaic – Oxford Mail 




Comment and opinion

Homer in Egypt – Eidolon 

Homeric praise? – Classical Inquiries 

Corpus of jars – It’s All Greek to Me 

Talking about sensory studies – Sensory Studies in Antiquity 

Sexuality and changing sex – Sententiae Antiquae 

The Oracles of Dodona – The Historian’s Hut 

On audience experience – Exeunt

Henry Wellcome’s collecting – The History Girls 

Bad-ass babes – Ancient History School 

Women and power in  Egypt – Time

On creating a good sequel – Eidolon

The art of Assassin’s Creed: OdysseyKotaku 

Hell and damnation – The Conversation 

Catullus in Russia – Brave New Classics 

Medusa and strong women – Dancing Times

Celery at funerals – Atlas Obscura

Talking about phenomenology – Le Temps Revient 

The joy of digging – Financial Times 

Will you suffer for coming late in the alphabet? – Inside Higher Ed 

On polis, demos and other political words – The Rolla 

Making a statue colour correction – The New Yorker 

… and more on colours – Hyperallergic

Thinking about democracy – LA Review of Books 

Wheeling out Boudicca – The Conversation 

Archaeology and nationalism – JSTOR Daily 




Podcasts, video and other media

Postgraduate work-in-progress seminars – University of London 

Halloween episode: ghost stories – The Endless Knot 

Talking about Assassin’s Creed: OdysseyHistory Respawned 

Myth and Assassin’s Creed Game Fragger 

Understanding the Romans through food – BBC World Service 

Ancient vampires – Ancient History Fangirl 

A huge photographic resource on sarcophagi – Carroll Scholars 

4 thoughts on “Weekend Reading: Shipwrecks, Scrolls and Skeletons

  1. There seems to be so many great stories in the media lately! I asked the question in my recent blog post. I don’t know if it’s actually a fact or if I’m just becoming more attuned to noticing them.


  2. I mean in comparison to this time last year where I was digging for stories for A863, it seems students are spoilt for choice. They couldn’t have come at a better time.


    1. I agree: we’re just getting the ball rolling with that activity now, and there’s lots to choose from! I think the publicity surrounding the recent Pompeii excavations has helped to raise a bit of a media buzz about the ancient world.

      Liked by 1 person

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