Month: May 2014

One of My Tools

Only a fraction of the tablets from the Achaemenid period which have been excavated have been published, and many of the published ones look like this: A typical entry in Strassmaier’s “Inschriften von Darius, König von Babylon” (Liepzig, 1892): “1 1/2 mina 2 1/2 shekels silver …” One Johann N. Strassmaier... Continue reading: One of My Tools

The Rise and Fall and Rise and Fall of Cities

My visits to Heuneburg and Haithabu/Hedeby reminded me that I don’t know enough about one of the great puzzles in world history: why cities spread so slowly, with frequent retreats and abandonments. There were towns in the Balkans before the Indo-Europeans came, but it was almost the year 1,000 before there was a single town on the Baltic, and that was burned and abandoned. Why did it take 5,000 years for cities to spread from Mesopotamia to Denmark, when other innovations spread in a few centuries? And why did many societies which once had prosperous cities give them up?
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When the Bronze is Like a Mirror

In April I participated in a prehistoric bronze-casting workshop with Dr. Bastian Asmus at the open air museum at Heuneburg (near Herbertingen, Baden-Wurtemburg, Germany). I believe that it is helpful for historians to understand the world of things and skills in which their subjects lived. Like any other art, imitating historical bronze-casting requires a range of skills and is best learned by practice.

Das Donautor
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