Friday, July 25, 2014

Episode R8 - The Thousand Year Gap

“Whilst fully recognizing his enterprise, devotion, and energy in carrying out these excavations, I cannot but express the regret that Dr. Schliemann should have allowed the ‘enthusiasm,’ which, as he himself admits, ‘borders on fanaticism,’ to make it so paramount an object with him to discover the Troy described by Homer, as to induce him either to suppress or to pervert every fact brought to light that could not be reconciled with the Iliad.” – Frank Calvert, 1875

Despite numerous returns to Hisarlik, Heinrich Schliemann was unable to establish the layer holding Homer’s Troy.  It was only near the end of his life, with the aid of Wilhelm Dorpfeld, that his quest was finally rewarded.  In the meantime, Schliemann’s excavations at Mycenae and Tiryns had shed new light on the wealth and power of Late Bronze Age Greece.
http://s407341505.onlinehome.us/Episode_R8_The_Thousand_Year_Gap.mp3

Friday, July 11, 2014

Episode R7 - The Man Who Sold Troy

“Who will persuade me, when I reclined upon a mighty tomb, that it did not contain a hero? – its very magnitude proved this.  Men do not labour over the ignoble and petty dead – and why should not the dead be Homer’s dead?”  - George Gordon, Lord Byron, 1810

Three millennia after its fall, British archaeologist Frank Calvert used clues from Homer, and his own deep knowledge of the region, to establish the most likely site of ancient Troy.  Unable to finance the excavation, he was compelled to partner with wealthy enthusiast Heinrich Schliemann.
http://s407341505.onlinehome.us/Episode_R7_The_Man_Who_Sold_Troy.mp3

Friday, June 27, 2014

Episode R6 - The Heroic Age

“I should weary the reader, were I to describe, step by step, the progress of the work, and the discoveries gradually made in various part of the great mound.  The labours of one day resembled those of the preceding; but it would be difficult to convey to others an idea of the excitement which was produced by the constant discovery of objects of the highest interest.”  - Austen Henry Layard, Nineveh and Its Remains

While Layard resumed his Assyrian excavations, and Rawlinson continued to decipher Akkadian, both efforts began to shed light on the even older civilization of ancient Sumer.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Episode R5 - Behistun Hat-Trick

“The Major constantly and indefatigably employed himself, from daylight to dark, revising, restoring and adding to his former materials.  This was a work of great irksomeness and labour in the confined space he was compelled to stand in, with his body in close proximity to the heated rock and under a broiling September sun.” – Felix Jones, 1844

After the debacle of the First Anglo-Afghan War, Henry Creswicke Rawlinson made two more excursions to Behistun.  His attempts to copy the remaining inscriptions nearly cost him his life.
http://s407341505.onlinehome.us/Episode_R5_Behistun_Hat-Trick.mp3

Friday, May 16, 2014

Episode R4 - Dwelling of the Lions

“What can all this mean?  Who built this structure?  In what century did he live?  To what nation did he belong?  Are these walls telling me their tales of joy and woe?  Is this beautiful cuneiformed character a language?  I know not.  I can read their glory and their victories in their figures, but their story, their age, their blood, is to me a mystery.  Their remains mark the fall of a glorious and a brilliant past, but of a past known not to a living man." – Paul-Emile Botta

The excavations of Botta and Layard brought the majesty of ancient Assyria into the modern world.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Episode R3 - The Place of God

“My antiquarian studies go on quietly and smoothly, and despite the taunt which you may remember once expressing, of the presumption of an ignoramus like myself attempting to decipher inscriptions which had baffled for centuries the most learned men in Europe, I have made very considerable progress...I aspire to do for the cuneiform alphabet what Champollion has done for the hieroglyphics.”  - Henry Creswicke Rawlinson, July 1836 (writing to his sister Maria)

In 1836, Henry Creswicke Rawlinson - British soldier, adventurer and Orientalist – first encountered the Behistun Inscription.  He would devote the next few decades to deciphering its three cuneiform scripts.
http://s407341505.onlinehome.us/Episode_R3_The_Place_of_God.mp3

Friday, April 18, 2014

Episode R2 - Arabia Felix

“His Majesty…has dispatched a few days ago by the vessel Greenland a group of scholars, who will travel by way of the Mediterranean to Constantinople, and thence through Egypt to Arabia Felix, and subsequently return by way of Syria to Europe; they will on all occasions seek to make new discoveries and observations for the benefit of scholarship…” – Copenhagen Post, 12th January, 1761

Carsten Niebuhr survived malaria, earthquakes, civil wars, bandits, plagues and the deaths of all his colleagues to successfully complete the first modern scientific expedition to the Near East.