Monthly Archives: January 2015

The Legend of the Barkhamsted Lighthouse (update)

Ritaroberts's Blog

Some time ago I posted The Legend of the Barkhamsted Lighthouse. It was about a young Molly Barber who married against her fathers wishes a Narragansette Native Indian named James Chaugham. That story is still on my blog.

Briefly James Chaugham was born c l7l0 in Block Island, R I, and died in c l790  in Riverton, CT. He married Molly Barber l740. They had eight children. Sally, Samuel, Soloman, Meribah ( Mary ), Hannah Sands, Mercy  Mary (Polly) and Elizabeth

It was some time later that I received a message from Coni Dubois explaining that she is a direct descendant of the Chaugham family line. Coni has spent many years of research after her father had requested her to trace the family tree.This has become her life’s mission to find her Native American Roots which up until now has taken more than 20 years.

Coni began by putting all the main pieces of…

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Posted by on January 28, 2015 in Uncategorized


The Year Civilization Collapsed 1177 BC


What happened more than 3,000 years ago that caused a worldwide collapse of society


Half way through Eric Cline’s engaging book there is a map of the ancient eastern Mediterranean  and Near East. It shows 47 archaeological sites that were destroyed in the period around 1200 BC. They include the Palaces of Knossos,Mycenae, and Pylos in Crete and mainland Greece; Troy, Miletus, and Hattusas in Anatolia; Carchemis, and Ugarit in Syria; Megiddo (Armageddon), Lachish, and  Ashkelon in the Lavant; and four less famous sites on the island of Cyprus, such as Enkomi. In Egypt shortly after this period, the New Kingdom pharaohs lost their authority over the  country with the assassination of Rhamesses lll in about ll55 BC. The Bronze age collapse of Western civilization was complete.

Explanation for the collapse have been offered for well over a century: some pre-date the actual excavation of most of the above sites during the 20th century. In general , beginning with  the French Egyptologist Gaston Maspero in the 1860’s and 1870’s, and continuing until recently,the destruction has been attributed to an invasion by the so-called “Sea Peoples” . They are mentioned and depicted as captives) under the mysterious ethnic names Peleset, Tjekker, Shekelesh, Shardana, Danuna, and Weshesh in the hieroglyphic inscriptions of Ramesses lll at Medinet Habu. According to Ramesses, these groups overran the great powers of the day- the Hittites, the Mycenaeans, the Canaanites, the Cypriots, and others- until they were finally stopped in Egypt, first by the pharaoh Merneptah in 1207, and then again by Ramesses lll in ll77 BC.


However there is no incontrovertible archaeological evidence for where the Sea Peoples came from, who they were, or what lands they conquered. The Shardana have been speculatively  linked with Sardinia. the Peleset with the Philistines( who came from Crete, according to the Bible, and settled in Palestine); but there is no proof of these associations. The Sea Peoples remain as enigmatic as ever; notes Cline. Along with some other modern scholars, he argues: rather than militant invaders intent on destruction, they were more likely to have been refugees who did not necessarily always attack and conquer the local peoples but frequently simply settled down among them. Either way, they are unlikely, all by themselves, to have ended civilization in the  Aegean and eastern Mediterranean .


The capture of the Sea Peoples during the battle of Delta.

If not outside invaders, what did destroy these cities? This, of course, is the subject of Cline’s book, which is the first title in a Princeton University Press series, Turning Points in Ancient History, The series aims not only to illuminate key events in the past, but also to elucidate  their relevance to the  present. The regional situation in ll77 BC  and in AD 2013 are surprisingly similar, Cline remarks in his opening paragraph, ” The economy of Greece is in shambles. Internal rebellions have engulfed Libia, Syria and Egypt, with outsiders and foreign warriors fanning the flames. Turkey fears it will become involved, as does Israel . Jordan is crowded with refugees, Iran is bellicose  and threatening, while Iraq is in turmoil.; the fact that there is no 2lst century equivalent of the Sea Peoples (unless we compare them with the unfortunate African migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Europe) might even provide further ammunition for those who doubt the Sea Peoples existence.

It might at first seem far- fetched to compare the pre-Classical world of l200 BC with our present-day, internationally linked, world. But Cline makes a fascinating case for equivalence. In fact, much f his book is rightly taken up with discussing the ancient world in the centuries leading up to l200 BC , before he reaches the period of simultaneous site- destruction. Despite the hazards of travelling by land and sea at this time, and the cumbersome nature of written  communications ( mainly in Akkadian cuneiform), the major powers were much in touch with each other, through trade, diplomacy, marriage, and war. For example Minoan pottery and other finished objects from Crete- or at least written references to them – have been excavated in Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Cyprus, Syria, and Iraq.  A cuneiform tablet notes that Zimri-Lim, a Syrian king of Mari, sent a pair of 18th century Minoan shoes as a gift to King Hammurabi of Babylon, who returned them to Zimri-Lim for reasons not recorded

Minoan Pot Octopus  Minoan Ryton from Zakros 1500-1450 bc


Minoan Pot of the Octopus Style                       Minoan Ryton


Consider the astonishing Bronze Age ship wrecked off the south western coast of Turkey at Uluburun some time around l300 BC, which was discovered by a Turkish sponge diver in 1982 and subsequently excavated with great care by archaeologists led by George Bass. On board were products from at least seven different countries, states, and empires. For example the cargo contained ten tons of copper from Cyprus and one ton of tin probably from Afghanistan, two dozen ebony logs from Nubia, almost 200  ingots of coloured raw glass from Mesopotamia, about 140 Canaanite storage jars containing terebinth resin, fruits and spices, brand new  pottery from Cyprus and Canaan, scarabs from Egypt (one made of solid gold inscribed in hieroglyphics with the name of Nefertiti) and cylinder seals from the Near East (some made of lapis lazuli from  Afghanistan), swords and daggers from Italy and Greece (which may have belonged to the crew or the passengers), and a stoner scepter- mace from the Balkans. Also found were 14 pieces of hippopotamus ivory and one elephant tusk. Although the owners and sponsors of the Uluburum ship are unknown, as are its port of origin and destination, it is reasonable to assume that the ship was part of a widespread international trade-not least because two other Bronze Age shipwrecks have also been identified.

Consider also, an archive of clay tablets from Ugarit, on the  Syrian coast, delivered during the construction of a military  bunker in 1973. It contains correspondence between the king of Ugarit and the kings of Egypt, Cyprus ,Hatti, Assyria, Carchemish, Sidon, Beirut, and possibly Tyre. Curiously, apart from a single mention of enemy ships, the correspondence contains little evidence of trouble approaching, and suggests that sea-going trade with Ugarit continued right up to its destruction, which must have occurred some time after 1191 BC: the date of execution of an Egyptian chancellor corresponding with the king of Ugarit.

Claude Schaeffer, the French archaeologist who originally excavated Ugarit in the 1930’s, argued that it was destroyed by an earthquake, Marguerite Yon, its most recent excavator, disagrees. She attributes the destruction to enemy attack, on the grounds that numerous arrowheads were found in the destroyed or abandoned ruins, along with  buried hoards of valuables unclaimed by the  inhabitants after their presumably hasty, forced evacuation ( an observation with sad resonance for today’s Syria.


Other excavations of Schaeffer’s time such as Arthur Evans at Knossos and Carl Blegen at Troy , argued for earth quakes, as a key factor in the destruction of 1200 BC . In subsequent decades  earthquakes tend to have been rejected as an explanation in favour of human agency, for instance by Robert Drews in The End of the Bronze Age; changes in warfare and the catastrophe  1200 BC(1993)  Recently, however, the earthquake explanation  has come back into fashion, and with good reason.  Geophysicist Amos Nur ( a Cline collaborator), for example, in his book Apocalypse; earthquakes, archaeology and the wrath of God (2009) convincingly argues that a map of the maximum intensity of seismic ground-motion in the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean during the period c AD 1900-1980 shows a striking  overlap with the sites destroyed during the Bronze Age collapse. Of course this does not prove that these sites were destroyed by earthquakes.. ‘ writes  Nur, ‘ but it does place earthquakes high on the  list of suspects whenever unexplained destruction is found’.  Cline is inclined to agree, noting that archaeology definitely implicates earthquakes in the destruction f Mycenae, Tyrins, Thebes, Pylos, Troy, Hattusas, Ugarit, Megiddo, and Enkomi, among other sites.But he concludes that earthquakes, alone, are unlikely to have  caused societal collapse- a view consistent with the fact that no city in history has ever been abandoned after an earthquake, however destructive , with one exception: Port Royal in the Caribbean , much of which slid under the sea in 1692

The Queens Megaron at Knossos

The Queens Megaron Knossos.

Other candidates for the cause of the collapse are: climate change, droughts, famine, internal rebellions, external invaders ( such as the Sea Peoples), and the breakdown of internal trade. The  major evidence for each, drawn from many sites, is objectively considered by Cline- and dismissed as insufficient on its own. Finally he concludes: no single incident can really be imagined to have brought about the end of the Bronze Age; rather, the end must have come as the consequence of a complete series of events that reverberated throughout the interconnected kingdoms and empires of the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean and eventually led to a  collapse of the entire system’, in other words, an invasion by the Sea Peoples will no longer wash as an explanation, but, as yet, we do not properly understand what happened in the period around 1177 BC. This is reasonable, if a shade disappointing. But then, aren’t historians ( Starting with Edward Gibbon in the 18th century) still debating what caused the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century AD – not to speak of the global financial collapse of AD2008 ?

Courtesy Andrew Robinson.



Posted by on January 26, 2015 in Uncategorized


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MAJOR Announcement! PARTNERSHIP with KORYVANTES: Association of Historical Studies: A World-Renowned Historical Greek site: Click to visit KORYVANTES:

This Partnership is most important to our Linear B Research

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MAJOR Announcement! PARTNERSHIP with KORYVANTES: Association of Historical Studies: A World-Renowned Historical Greek site: Click to visit KORYVANTES:

KoryvanteslogopngKORYVANTES: Who we areKORYVANTES”, The Association of Historical Studies,is a Cultural Organization, researching and applying experimentally the Military Heritage of the Greeks from the Bronze Age to the late Byzantium.Koryvantes” has participated in Academic conferences of Experimental Archaeology (University of Warsaw 2011, Academy of Pultusk 2012, University of Belgrade 2012, Organization Exarc / Denmark 2013 ), while our studies have been published in academic literature (British Archaeology Report Series) and Special International Journals (Ancient Warfare Magazine ).Koryvates” has participated in International Archaeological Festivals (Biskupin / Poland 2011 , Lyon / France , 2012 ) and International Traditional Archery Festivals ( Istanbul 2013 Amasya 2013 , Biga 2013 , Kiev 2013) , presenting high quality shows to thousands of viewers.Koryvantes” has…

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Posted by on January 23, 2015 in Uncategorized


Surprise, surprise! What rôle does Formulaic Language play in Linear B Tablets, and does it have anything to do with Homer’s archaic Greek?

Read more of my progress with the Ancient Minoan Script Writings. Its getting more challenging to decipher but fascinating. Thanks to my fellow bloggers for your support. Please leave comments also on my teachers blog Richard Vallance where you will read this original post,

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Surprise, surprise! What rôle does Formulaic Language play in Linear B Tablets, and does it have anything to do with Homer’s archaic  Greek?  
Does that surprise you, if you are a Linear B translator? It surprised my translator colleague, Rita  Roberts, and myself, for quite some time – well over a year. But not any more. There are two inescapable reasons why we have been able to come to the conclusions we have reached. These are:(a) that the Linear B scribes very frequently used what Rita and I call supersyllabograms, a term which describes a peculiar phenomenon common to only a subset of syllabograms which have defied decipherment for the past 63 years since 1952. We shall be deciphering almost all of the 31 supersyllabograms, a substantial subset of the full set of 61 syllabograms (over 50 %). Only a very few supersyllabograms still defy decipherment, at…

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Posted by on January 22, 2015 in Uncategorized


Who were the Trojans and where did they come from?

Luciana Cavallaro

Many scholars, including Carl Blengen American archaeologist who worked at the site in the 1930s, believed the Trojans were of Greek origin. This conjecture was attributed to the Greek names given to the characters in the Iliad but that isn’t the case. Homer mentioned a close relationship between the Trojan allies and in particular with the Dardanians. Excavations at the site of Troy/Ilios/Troya/Troia have found artefacts that showed the Trojans were in fact indigenous to the region and related to the Indo-European people who migrated to the area.

An artist's impression of Troy VIh/VIi in around 1400 BC An artist’s impression of Troy VIh/VIi in around 1400 BC

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Posted by on January 19, 2015 in Uncategorized


Experimental Archaeology ( Minoan Domestic Life )


Jerolyn Morrison, my friend and colleague at the Institute for Aegean Prehistory Study Center for East Crete has been researching on Crete for 17 years  into the domestic life of the ancient Minoans.

Jerolyn  and I worked at sorting and fitting together many bags of ancient pottery shards to form vessels  for Jerolyn to make replicas of these vessels from local clay so that she could experiment with how people used them. At this stage I left her to continue with what has been her long term project, she works with archaeologists and botanists to discover what foods these ancient people ate; she uses the replica pots to cook feasts for local guests in the Minoan way, using the kinds of ingredients Minoans used. Of course all at the Study Center had a sneak preview first.

Jerolyn has a  master’s degree in anthropology  with emphasis in archaeology; she has been a Fulright  Scholar and a trained potter and has just submitted her dissertation for a Ph.D. in  Archaeology and Ancient History at the University of Leicester, England.

Jerolyn creating minoan style pots

Jerolyn Morrison creating Minoan style pots. Photo by Stella Johnson 20ll


The Minoans, a Bronze Age people lived in Crete between 2000 – l500 B.C. They were  a seafaring people ruled by a King; they built massive palaces and created vibrant frescoes; their city of Knossos was sung of by Homer, ‘ with their unique art and architecture, the Minoans made a significant contribution to the development of Western European civilization as it is known today, ‘notes Mark Cartwright in the Ancient History Encyclopedia, ‘ The archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans excavating at Knossos from l900 – l905 CE, discovered extensive ruins which confirmed the ancient accounts both literary and mythological, of a sophisticated Cretan culture and possible site of the legendary Labyrinth and palace of King Minos.


Jerolyn and her fellow researchers look for details of the Minoan’s domestic life through piecing together shattered objects, chemical analysis, experiments (like cooking demonstrations, she works with a conservation team; who put these deposits together very slowly and meticulously, to form a story about an archaeological deposit that’s been excavated. From there she works with other archaeologists, and other archaeo- botanists, putting together a more in depth story about ancient people from the objects that are found. Here is how the archaeo-botanists determine what the Minoans ate.Jerolyn  and her colleagues go through these deposits to look for little carbonized lentils, pieces of fish bones, goat, small pieces of crushed olives; and tiny precious gems under the microscope where you can see if they have been crushed or charred or cooked in particular ways. Jerolyn says ” we find a lot of lentils, cracked wheat, butchered pork bones, butchered sheep and goat, also cattle bones and butchered deer. ”


Jerolyn’s replica Minoan style cooking pots. That’s Cleo the Study Center’s cat inspecting them.

In 20ll Jerolyn’s team, Minoan Tastes (, along with the excavators Chrysa Sofianou and Tom Brogan, produced a tasting for some 80 – l00  people in the village Papadiokampos in eastern Crete. Their menu and methods were based on the contents of House A1, an excavated two-story, multi- room, mud and- rubble house that had evidently been destroyed instantly, as evidenced by a smashed jar with the remains of fish soup near parts of the hearth. Her lecture at the British Museum and article in 2009  “Cooking Up New Perspectives for Late Minoan 1B Domestic  Activities:  An Experimental Approach to Understanding the Possibilities and the Probabilities of Using Ancient Cooking Pots” explains how they went about it.

The cooking pots were crafted  by Jerolyn from clay that ” macroscopically  and petrographically closely matches the Mochlos cook-pots-tripod cooking pots, jars and  wok-shaped cooking dishes with broad spouts. ” However, due to heavy winds it was too dangerous to have an open firing, so a modern pizza oven and an electric kiln in Pachia Ammos were used to fire the vessels,” her dissertation notes.  The team formed a rectangle of stones to make the hearth and lit the charcoal and olive wood chippings to start the cooking fire which took about 45 minutes to reach the right temperature. It takes about three hours from start to finish


Lentils seasoned with honey, bay leaf, crushed coriander seed, sea salt and topped off with olive oil (this island had no tomatoes or carrots back then).

Octopus simmered in either beer or red wine, and seasoned with thyme, garlic and leeks.

Sautéed cuts of pork, mainly pancetta, seasoned with grape syrup, leeks and garlic,

Beef Liver simmered in pure’ed  chestnuts, crushed coriander seeds, and garlic. ( This was my favourite,it was absolutely delicious )

Sautéed lamb seasoned with whole coriander seeds, garlic, and leek and finished off in a Cretan red-wine reduction.

All of these dishes were cooked in pots on tripods. Also, some cooking dishes were turned over to allow the baking of flat bread.

Jerolyn Morrison Experimental Cooking 1

Jerolyn’s Experimental Cooking

Jerolyns cooking demonstrations have been a huge success and she intends to carry on teaching and exploring ancient domestic cooking. Also to publish an online newsletter or journal as well as hold workshops and cooking classes. There is nothing like this in Crete or for Cretan studies, and this is important, because at the end of these study seasons you want to put together articles, lectures, and books to broaden the knowledge of these ancient civilizations and explain why modern people should care about them.






Large chariot, horse burial found in China

Large chariot, horse burial found in China.

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Posted by on January 9, 2015 in Uncategorized


A Pictish Symbol-Stone

A Pictish symbol-stone engraved with a possibly unique distribution of markings has been hailed by archaeologists as ‘probably Morays most important Pictish finds for a decade’.

Measuring some 1.7m in length and weighing over a ton, the stone was identified by Aberdeenshire Council Archaeology Service (ACAS) after a Craigellachie landowner reported that his ploughman had ‘broken his plough on a rather large stone with evidence of some type of carving on the side’.  It has been interpreted as a class one  symbol-stone (that is, an unworked stone with symbols-but not crosses incised on it), a type usually associated with the 6th-8th centuries AD.  One face is decorated with an image of a large eagle, with a crescent and V-rod design below, while a second face bears carvings of a mirror-case symbol ,notch rectangle, and Z rod . These are all fairly typical Pictish symbols, found on other stones in the area such as at Arndilly and Ineravon.

Pictish - stone with synbols (1)

Photo courtesy of Aberdeenshire County Archaeology Service.

ACAS Regional Archaeologist Clair Herbert said. What makes this stone more unusual  however, is the presence  of symbols on two adjoining faces that are aligned the same way. This is such an exciting and rare find. As far as I have been able to establish there are no other known examples- certainly not from north-east Scotland- of carved Pictish stones with this distribution of symbols, where two pairs of images are present on adjoining faces that could be visible at the same time’, she said. ‘ I don’t think that both sets of symbols were carved at the same time- there are subtle differences in their style, but for a stone to have had this kind of reuse , and it not to have been turned upside down in the process obscuring the original design, is unusual, in  fact unique’.

Pictish-stone with symbols (2)

Photo. courtesy of Aberdeenshire County Archaeology Service.

New finds of any kind of carved Pictish stone of this scale are incredibly rare. There have been a handful of small fragmentary stones found in the north-east over the last 60  years, but in terms of large-scale stones ( of any classification ) the most recent has been is the Rhynie Man, found in 1978. The stone has since been declared Treasure Trove, and will be displayed in Elgin Museum, likely in 2015.

ACAS hope that geophysical survey and exploratory excavation over its floodplain findspot will shed more light on whether this was its original location, or if the boulder had been carried there by a later inundation.


Posted by on January 7, 2015 in Uncategorized



Rita Roberts’ Translation of Knossos Tablet K 1092, Rams at Eksonos & Sygrita

Here is an update on the progress of my Linear B Ancient Script Writing Translations. This was a tricky one which my teacher Richard Vallance explains ..Click to visit the original post.

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Rita Roberts’ Translation of Knossos Tablet K 1092, Rams at Eksonos & Sygrita: Click to ENLARGE

Rams at EkosoRita Roberts, my Linear B student who is now at the advanced stage of learning Mycenaean Greek, and I had quite a field day discussing the implications of various interpretations which might be lent to this tablet in translation. What especially intrigued me was the possibility that one could interpret the toponym Eksonos as meaning “outside the belt”, where “belt” refers to a belt of arable agricultural land. Rita, who lives near Heraklion and Knossos in Crete, put me onto this scent, as she explained to me that even to this day sheep are raised on non-arable land in Crete and Greece, which makes perfect sense when you come to think of it... except that, being Canadian and living in the “Great White North”, the idea never crossed my mind. It takes a native…

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Posted by on January 2, 2015 in Uncategorized

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