kyle cassidy (kylecassidy) wrote,
kyle cassidy

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so brad called me last night and asked if i wanted to meet famed archaeologist and metalurgist James Muhly, who was speaking at penn. of course i did. so we went and heard his lecture on "How did treasures like those from the royal tombs at Ur come about in a land with no real prior traditions in metalworking?" which was very interesting -- how bronze was invented, basically at the same time, in 20 scattered places at once AND, oddly enough, within 100 years of inventing bronze, they had perfected it -- it's still made exactly the same way today. not only, how do you decide to add copper to tin, but, where do you get the tin in a land that is basically mud and reeds. (short answer: nobody knows).

after the lecture brad and i went to dinner with Dr. Muhly and his wife and also Dr. Erle Lichty at the White Dog. the most interesting bit of the conversation there was how the breakup of the ottoman empire by the american and british governments after the first world war caused, specifically, the problems that we are seeing in iraq today. namely, the kurds, the shiites, and the sunni's did not want to be together in one country. they also carved out a piece of palestine, broke up all the arab groups anywhere near suez, and split iraq from kuait. the division of the empire with little thought to the interrelations of the people living there (more like cutting up a pie) and the propping up of various puppet governments (starting with king fizel (sp) and still not over) started a rumbling that's just gotten louder over the years. meanwhile, it's getting difficult for archaeologists to get permits to dig in a lot of the places they're desperate to dig in.

Here's Brad with a Babylonian figurine in museum storage.

Tags: babylon, bronze, cannibalism
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