One of the oldest examples of poetic literature in the world, the “Lament for Ur” is a dirge for the destroyed city, written by the earliest kings of the Isin dynasty, who wished to rebuild it. Ur had fallen to the Elamites, which was the end of the city’s third dynasty. The purpose of the poetry was to calm the angered, anguished soul of the god of Ur. Only then could they commence rebuilding efforts. In the lament, the goddess Ningal weeps for her city after pleading with the god Enlil to call back a destructive storm. There are other sections, sprinkled throughout, describing the ghost town Ur has become, calling on the moon god Nanna for protection, and describing the destructive storm of Enlil that destroyed the city. Ningal, who incidentally is wife of the moon god Nanna, goes on to recall her petition to the leaders of the gods, An and Enlil, to change their minds and not to destroy Ur. But the council of gods decided that Ur’s third dynasty, though it ruled for a thousand years, was deserving of their prophesied fate. The city was allowed to be destroyed by the Elamites. The lament seems particularly concerned with all the shrines and temples destroyed – perhaps to appease or honor as many gods as possible? The destruction of Ur is reported to Enlil, and his consort Ninlil, who are praised and exalted at the end of the Lament for Ur. This ancient poetry dates to 2000 BCE

A helpful way to look at [injustice in the world] is to view all of human history as a ‘Dude, Where’s My Car?’ situation. You wake up one day and find that you did all sorts of shit – good and bad – that you have no memory of. And it doesn’t matter because it was still you. And I’m saying, it was literally you – if put in the same situation, you would have done the same thing your forefathers did. The only reason you’ve escaped guilt, and the only reason you’re able to watch old Bugs Bunny cartoons and cringe at how racist they were, is because you were born in an era after other people had already done a lot of the hard work rooting out that shit. You know what your great-grandparents didn’t.

Extremely Rare Royal Egyptian Silver Diadem, 17th Dynasty c. 1580-1550 BC

This is one of only two known silver Egyptian diadems! It was found at Thebes in the 1820s and is associated with the tomb of Nubkheperre Intef. Both known diadems date to the 17th Dynasty and bear many similarities, not only in terms of material but also in design and manufacture, and were both likely made for a royal personage.

The double uraei – the stylized representation of two sacred cobras, protectors of the royal power in ancient Egyptian art – suggest that the diadem offered here was originally the property of an Egyptian queen: the motif is seen in the early 18th Dynasty Theban tomb of Tetiky, where it appears on the accoutrements of Queen Ahmose-Nefertari. It is also seen in images of Amenhotep III’s queen, Tiye, Akhenaten’s consort, Nefertiti, and Nefertari, wife of Ramesses II. The present diadem, predating these known examples, demonstrates that this tradition was already established in the Second Intermediate Period.

Silver was accessible only to the highest echelons of Egyptian society. Due to the lack of an abundant local source, it was both rarer and more costly, and thus held in higher esteem, than gold. It is likely that the silver used for this extraordinary royal diadem was sourced from beyond the boundaries of the Egyptian world, from the spoils of war or commerce.

Darker Than Blue: Policing While Black in N.Y.C.

“The origins of American policing, the historian W. Marvin Dulaney argues, cannot be fully understood without considering slavery and racism. “By the beginning of the eighteenth century, most American colonies had enacted laws to regulate the behavior of African slaves,” Dulaney writes in his book “Black Police in America.” “The codes also established the slave patrol or ‘patterollers.’ The slave patrol was the first distinctively American police system, and it set the pattern of policing that Americans of African descent would experience throughout their history in America.” 

Read more from Matthew McKnight.

Egyptian Gold Wedjat Eye Amulet, Late Period, Dynasty 26-29, c. 664-380 BC

The wedjat-eye amulet represents a human eye with its brow, but the lines below the eye are often identified as the facial markings of a falcon. The wedjat-eye was supposedly the eye that Seth tore from Horus during a battle over who would lead the gods. Thoth healed the injured eye, returning it to Horus as the “sound one.” Wedjat-eye amulets were used from the Old Kingdom through the Roman Period and whether worn as a bracelet for everyday wear or tucked among mummy wrappings, this amulet was effective source of protection, strength and perfection.

What Do You Know About Utah?

Besides that there’s lots of Mormons and a weirdly salty lake, I didn’t know that much either. So here’s a facts list:

  1. Utah’s Great Salt Lake is about 4 times saltier than any of the world’s oceans. About 41% evaporates each year!
  2. The name “Utah” is derived from the name of the Ute Native American tribe. The name means “people of the mountains.”
  3. In 1824, Jim Bridger was the first Caucasian person to see the Great Salt Lake. He initially thought he had found the Pacific Ocean because it was so salty, but soon realized it was a giant salt lake.
  4. During the Utah War (1857–1858), over 120 unarmed settlers, including women and children, were murdered by a group of Mormon militiamen. The militia initially claimed Native Americans killed the settlers. The motives behind the massacre remain unclear.
  5. Approximately 62% of Utahans are Mormons, or members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Utah is the most homogeneous state in the nation in terms of religion.
  6. The state is home to the country’s first department store, Zions Co-operative Mercantile Institution. Today it is known as ZCMI.
  7. Polygamy was practiced in Utah until it was banned in 1890 as a condition of being granted statehood.

In the 10th and 11th centuries, at the height of their reign, the Vikings often claimed that their swords were indestructible, and could cut a man in half in a single swing. Yet there is a mystery surrounding Viking swords that has been confounding historians for hundreds of years. For despite their oft-quoted claim to be indestructible, Viking swords are often found broken. 

The Museum of Berlin contains an ancient sword that became the centerpiece that unraveled the mystery of why Viking swords are frequently found in pieces, despite their claim to be indestructible. The unbroken sword contained an eight-letter word that was eventually the key to solving the mystery: “Ulfberht”. 

A team of historians did some research and discovered that Ulfberht was the name of a Viking foundry - in other words, it was essentially an ancient factory that produced metal castings used to create objects such as swords, axes, war hammers, and armor. The name of ‘Ulfberht’ was legendary among Viking warriors, and was well-known for producing the sharpest, strongest, and most versatile - and expensive - swords. 

As it turned out, many lesser-known foundries attempted to pass off their poor quality - but less costly - swords as Ulfberht weapons by inscribing the name of Ulfberht onto their products. Unfortunate swordsmen then paid the ultimate price for their cheapness when they discovered too late in the heat of battle that their swords were prone to shattering upon impact. [x]


Remains of Bronze-Age Cultic Priestess Hold Surprise


“An iconic Bronze Age girl who was buried in Denmark about 3,400 years ago came from a foreign land, a new analysis of her hair and teeth suggests.

The Egtved girl was named after the village where she was found. All of her bones were missing from her remains, but her clothing, hair, nails and some teeth were still in pristine condition.

The new analysis, which was published today (May 21) in the journal Scientific Reports, suggests the woman may have spent her early life in southern Germany, making several long trips in the last two years of her life, said study co-author Karin Frei, a geologist and archaeology researcher at the National Museum of Denmark. [See Images of the Iconic Bronze Age Burial]

Ancient teenager

The girl’s final resting place was first unearthed in in 1921, in a large burial mound made of peat bog. In addition to the remains of a 16- to 18-year-old girl, the oak coffin bore the cremated remains of a child, who was about 5 or 6 when he or she died.

The grave formed a unique microclimate: The acidic peat created a thin layer of iron around the coffin, which let rainwater seep into, but not out of, the coffin, Frei said. These acidic, oxygen-free, waterlogged conditions led to the decay of the bones but left her hair, nails and clothing intact, Frei said.

The Bronze Age teenager was wearing a wool skirt belted with a large bronze disk with spirals on it.

“She looks, in a way, very modern, in this kind of miniskirt and a kind of T-shirt,” Frei told Live Science. (Her unique fashion sense has inspired scores of Pinterest-worthy re-enactments.)

Photos: Iron Age Fashion

Figurines from the Bronze Age show women in similar dress, with spiral symbols associated with a Scandinavian sun cult, so historians have concluded the girl must have been a priestess of that cult, Frei said. [Photos: Ancient Bronze Age Sundial]

Long-distance traveler

Frei first analyzed strontium isotopes, or atoms of the element with different numbers of neutrons, in the wool skirt. Because the rocks in different regions contain different ratios of strontium isotopes, which are then taken up by the plants, animals and people who eat in that region, the ratio can reveal where a person or animal lived.

The wool was not from anywhere near Denmark, and likely came from near the Black Forest in Germany, the team found.

Next, Frei analyzed a portion of the girl’s hair and a molar tooth, which forms early in childhood and doesn’t change after that. The girl had about 9 inches (23 centimeters) of hair at the longest point, and hair grows about 0.4 inches (1 cm) per month, allowing the team to recreate the last two years of her life.

“She moved from one place outside Denmark, to a place that could be Denmark, to a place very far from Denmark,” where she spent a large portion of the last six months of her life,” Frei said. “She probably died or got sick and died very shortly after her arrival to Egtved,” Frei said.

Given how many trips the girl made over long distances, she was likely traveling quickly by boat, Frei said.

The cremated cranial bones of the child buried alongside the Egtved girl revealed he or she spent much time in the same distant region as the Egtved girl.

Denmark and southern Germany were centers of power at the time, so the southern German girl was likely married in a strategic power alliance to a chieftain in Denmark, and may have been traveling back to her hometown in her last years. The two individuals may or may not have been related; either way, the youngster spent time in the same rough locale as the Egtved girl.

Long-distance trade

The study shows that Bronze Age people were not just trading, but were  traveling long distances, said Flemming Kaul, a curator of prehistory at the National Museum of Denmark, who was not involved in the study.

Nordic amber has been found, like a trail of breadcrumbs, along rivers and beaches in Europe and in the Mediterranean. Meanwhile, blue glass beads from Egypt and Mesopotamia have been found in Scandinavian graves, according to a study published in January in the Journal of Archaeological Science. And the bronze used to make the girl’s sun-cult belt decoration wasn’t from Denmark, but instead had to have come from somewhere like the Alps, he added.

The new finds suggest these goods weren’t just traded over short distances hand-to-hand, but that people were venturing to far-flung lands themselves, Kaul told Live Science.”