Ancient Egyptian vase in the shape of a duck, made from polychrome faience.  Artist unknown; 3rd cent. BCE (Ptolemaic period).  Thought to come from Alexandria; now in the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore.  Photo credit: Walters Art Museum.


Listen, you all knew I was a major dork already. 

These are the posters I made as decorations for the English dept. grad party. As this year marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, we obviously went with a theme. If you are into typography, you can see my freehand attempts at the First Folio typeface. But my pride and joy is the brilliant new party game, Pin the Beard on the Bard. 

Yes, the party was grand fun. And no, improvising cardstock beards for my friends to tape to a judgmental drawing of Shakespeare had not been a life goal, but I am proud to have achieved it nonetheless..


178 people live in this tiny Portuguese medieval village called Piódão, situated in the Serra do Açor mountainside. The buildings are built with traditional schist stonework, wooden doors, and blue painted windows. Many homes nail tiny wooden crosses on their door frames to ward off storms.

Oldest Known Axe Fragment Found in Australia

Archaeologists from The Australian National University have unearthed fragments from the edge of the world’s oldest-known axe, found in Carpenter’s Gap, a large rock shelter in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. The axe fragment was initially excavated in the early 1990s among a sequence of food scraps, tools, artwork and other artifacts. In 2014, archaeologists rediscovered the fragment as further study was being carried out on the objects dug out of the site.  The axe fragment was recovered from the oldest levels of the site, and is believed to date between 46,000 and 49,000 years ago, around the time people first arrived on the Australian continent. The axe is the oldest of its kind in the world. Such technology appeared in most areas throughout the world with the rise of agriculture 10,000 years ago.  

New studies of the fragment have revealed that it comes from an axe made of basalt that had been shaped and polished by grinding it against a softer rock like sandstone. The axe would have been very useful for a variety of tasks including making spears and chopping down or taking the bark off trees. Professor Sue O’Connor has suggested that the axe technology was developed in Australia after people arrived around 50,000 years ago.  “We know that they didn’t have axes where they came from. There’s no axes in the islands to our north. They arrived in Australia and innovated axes,” Professor Peter Hiscock from the University of Sydney concurred with O’Connor’s hypothesis, adding that “Since there are no known axes in Southeast Asia during the Ice Age, this discovery shows us that when humans arrived in Australia they began to experiment with new technologies, inventing ways to exploit the resources they encountered.” Interestingly, the axe technology did not seem to spread beyond Northern Australia as humans started moving to other parts of the continent. 

An article on the discovery has been published in this month’s issue of the journal Australian Archaeology. You can read it for free here


Hirotoshi Ito


“A smile on the beholder’s face is the main motivation for my work.“

Hirotoshi Ito comes from a family of stone masons who for the last 130 years have been in the business of working stone primarily for monuments and grave markers.  Though stone is his primary media, he often combines different materials, incorporating metal, ceramics, and pigments in his works.  He makes his sculptural works while at the same time attending the family business.
For his personal work he collects stones and rocks from the riverbanks in his neighborhood, then utilizing the stone’s natural shapes and qualities he fashions them so as to express a warmth and humor in the hard stone.


Donegal Castle, Ireland

Donegal Castle is situated in the center of Donegal town, County Donegal in the northwest of Ireland. For most of the last two centuries, the majority of the buildings lay in ruins but the castle was almost fully restored in the late 1990s.

The castle consists of a 15th-century rectangular keep with a later Jacobean style wing. The complex is sited on a bend in the River Eske, near the mouth of Donegal Bay, and is surrounded by a 17th-century boundary wall. There is a small gatehouse at its entrance mirroring the design of the keep. Most of the stonework was constructed from locally sourced limestone with some sandstone. The castle was the stronghold of the O'Donnell clan, Lords of Tír Conaill and one of the most powerful Gaelic families in Ireland from the 5th to the 16th centuries.