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(One of these days I would like to go back through all these jillions of links and organise them by subject. "'I would like'? I would like a trip to Europe!" - Daffy Duck)

Anat: Autonomous Goddess Of Ugarit. Presented by Ellie Wilson at the Society of Biblical Literature's annual meeting, November 1993.

Artefacts found in Pilbara cave show Aboriginal life in northern WA dates back 50,000 years (ABC, 19 May 2017) | The extraordinary science behind an Aboriginal history discovery 65,000 years in the making (SMH, 20 July 2017). "Artefacts found in Kakadu national park show that Aboriginal people have lived in Australia for a minimum of 65,000 years, 18,000 years longer than the previous estimate."

The world's oldest observatory? How Aboriginal astronomy provides clues to ancient life (Lateline, 13 October 2016) | How astronomy paved the way for terra nullius, and helped to get rid of it too (phys.org, 14 October 2016)

Ancient Humans Liked Getting Tipsy, Too (Smithsonian.com, 10 July 2017) | What wine did Jesus drink at the Last Supper? (phys.org, 17 April 2017) | Barley dormancy mutation suggests beer motivated early farmers (phys.org, 21 November 2016) | Revealing the science of Aboriginal fermentation (phys.org, 24 October 2016)

Late last year the Brooklyn Museum's Tumblr posted about the use of "Visible-Induced Luminescence imaging to map the presence of Egyptian blue". Meanwhile, the earliest known use of Egyptian blue has been identified in a bowl from the time of King Scorpion.

Archaeologists discover earliest monumental Egyptian hieroglyphs (phys.org, 26 June 2017)

DNA from ancient Egyptian mummies reveals their ancestry (Washington Post, 30 May 2017)

The origin of the tabby coat and other cat mysteries revealed (ABC Science, 20 June 2017) | No, Those Aren't Male Lions Mating. One Is Likely a Female. (National Geographic, 18 April 2016)

The Amazon Women: Is There Any Truth Behind the Myth? (Smithsonian Magazine, April 2014) | The kingdom of women: the society where a man is never the boss (The Guardian, 1 April 2017) The Mosuo of Tibet.
What ancient Egypt tells us about a world without religious conflict (The Guardian, 30 October 2015) The Faith After the Pharaohs exhibition at the British Museum.

Information-age math finds code in ancient Scottish symbols (Scientific American, 31 March 2010)

How we discovered that people have been cooking plants in pots for 10,000 years (phys.org, 24 January 2017)

Scientists find advanced geometry no secret to prehistoric architects in US Southwest (phys.org, 23 January 2017)

Why we'll always be obsessed with – and afraid of – monsters (Medical Xpress, 31 October 2016)

Inscription About Ancient 'Monkey Colony' Survives [Daesh] Attacks (LiveScience, 9 December 2016)

Women Are the Backbone of the Standing Rock Movement (Time, 29 November 2017)

This is your brain on God: Spiritual experiences activate brain reward circuits (Medical Xpress, 29 November 2016)

Pristine pressed flower among 'jaw-dropping' bronze age finds (The Guardian, 30 September 2016)

“Gay” Caveman Wasn’t Gay… (En|Gender, 7 April 2011) "... she was trans." Or third gender. Or...

Unearthing the origins of East Africa's lost civilization (CNN, 19 October 2015). Kilwa in Tanzania, part of the Azania trading society.

Gender and the Generic in Divine Acclamations (a series of Tweets from Edward Butler, 28 November 2015).

Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae
ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
Egyptian hieroglyphs at Mnamon: Ancient writing systems in the Mediterranean: A critical guide to electronic resources

Ancient Egypt for kids - Egyptian Crowns and Headdresses of Gods

A Very Remote Period Indeed: A blog reviewing recent archaeological publications having to do with Paleolithic archaeology, paleoanthropology, lithic technology, hunter-gatherers and archaeological theory.

Untangling an Accounting Tool and an Ancient Incan Mystery (NYT, 2 January 2016)

Diodorus Siculus describes the Assyrian king Sardanapallus (perhaps Ashurbanipal) as a transvestite / transgender bisexual and blames him for the destruction of the Assyrian Empire - although the Greek historian's account mostly sounds like a pretty ordinary war.

Ancient Egyptian herbal wines (Patrick E. McGovern, PNAS 106(18), 5 May 2009) | Archaeological team prepares 4,000-year-old Hittite meals (Slate, 8 September 2016)

Ancient 'Mad Libs' Papyri Contain Evil Spells of Sex and Subjugation (LiveScience, 20 May 2016)

Scientist debunks nomadic Aboriginal 'myth' (GA, 9 October 2007) | Waking our sleeping Indigenous languages: 'we're in the midst of a resurgence' (GA, 31 August 2016) | Indigenous Australians most ancient civilisation on Earth, DNA study confirms (GA, 21 September 2016) | World-first genome study reveals rich history of Aboriginal Australians (ABC, 22 September 2016) | Indigenous Australians know we're the oldest living culture – it's in our Dreamtime (GA, 22 September 2016)

A Lost European Culture, Pulled From Obscurity (NYT, 30 November 2009). Review of the exhibition The Lost World of Old Europe: the Danube Valley, 5000-3500 B.C.

How human sacrifice helped to enforce social inequality (Aeon, 8 June 2016)

The Exotic Animal Traffickers of Ancient Rome (The Atlantic, 30 March 2016)

Female King Ruled in Canaan, Carving Suggests (National Geographic, 10 April 2009)

Scientists use 'virtual unwrapping' to read ancient biblical scroll reduced to 'lump of charcoal' (GA, 21 September 2016)

Unearthing the origins of East Africa's lost civilization (CNN, 19 October 2015)
ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
Ancient customer-feedback technology lasts millennia (New Scientist, 2 March 2015). Nanni wants a refund from Ea-nasir for these rubbish copper ingots.

The Newly Discovered Tablet V of the Epic of Gilgamesh (Ancient History etc blog, 24 September 2015). It revealed more details of Gilgamesh and Enkidu's battle with Humbaba in the Cedar Forest.

Summer Solstice – Season of Passion and Social Justice (Summer's Path blog, 6 July 2015). Sekhmet, the Ancestral Outraged Mother, and fighting for racial and sexual equality.

Grave of ‘Griffin Warrior’ at Pylos Could Be a Gateway to Civilizations (NYT, 26 October 2015)

Farmers Have Been Enjoying The Fruits Of Bee Labor For 9,000 Years (NPR, 11 November 2015)

Remains Of Captive Carnivores Discovered At Mexican Pyramid (iflscience.com, 19 December 2015)

3,200-Year-Old Papyrus Contains Astrophysical Information about Variable Star Algol (scinews.com, 23 Decembe 2015): "Ancient Egyptians wrote Calendars of Lucky and Unlucky Days... The best preserved... is the Cairo Calendar dated to 1244 – 1163 BC (Ramesside Period). According to scientists at the University of Helsinki, this papyrus is the oldest preserved historical document of naked eye observations of a variable star, the eclipsing binary star Algol."

Early Egyptian Queen Revealed in 5,000-Year-Old Hieroglyphs (Live Science, 19 January 2016) "... one inscription the researchers found tells of a queen named Neith-Hotep who ruled Egypt 5,000 years ago as regent to a young pharaoh named Djer."

Discovery Of Ancient Massacre Suggests War Predated Settlements (NPR, 21 January 2016)

Ancient Babylonian astronomers used calculus to find Jupiter 1,400 years before Europeans (ABC, 29 January 2016)

Gobekli Tepe: The World’s First Temple? (Smithsonian, November 2008)

Rise of human civilization tied to belief in punitive gods (Science News, 10 February 2016)

Lost art of Aboriginal dendroglyphs revived by modern artist (The World Today, 19 February 2016)

Is the Moon seen as a crescent (and not a "boat") all over the world? (Ask an Astronomer) Had to include this because of Inanna's "crescent-shaped barge of heaven". :)

ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
Spiritual Power? 18th-Century Artifacts Unearthed in Caribbean

The Archaeologist as Titan [review of Belzoni: The Giant Archaeologists Love to Hate]

Remains of Long-Lost Temple Discovered in Iraq: "'One of the best results of my fieldwork is the uncovered column bases of the long-lost temple of the city of Musasir, which was dedicated to the god Haldi,' Marf Zamuatold Live Science in an email. Haldi was the supreme god of the kingdom of Urartu. His temple was so important that after the Assyrians looted it in 714 B.C., the Urartu king Rusa I was said to have ripped his crown off his head before killing himself."

Oops! Etruscan Warrior Prince Really a Princess

Archaeological cave dig unearths artefacts from 45,000 years ago (Australia)

Bisexual Viking idol marks ancient circle (2004)

Was Cleopatra a drag queen? (2005) (Three known artifacts show Cleopatra VII dressed as / represented as a man.)

Brooklyn Museum to publish a handbook for the recently deceased (Book of the Dead of Sobekmose)

One-of-a-kind Egyptian spider rock art dates back to 4,000 B.C.

Alan D. Eames, 59, Scholar of Beers Around the World, Dies

Ancient Egyptian mummies buried near Barnsley

Barnsley lass Joann really digs Egypt (not what I was looking for, but pretty entertaining nonetheless :)

Clues to Lost Prehistoric Code Discovered in Mesopotamia (looking inside clay envelopes with CT scans)

Die Auferstehung der Göttin Sachmet (The Resurrection of the Goddess Sekhmet) and Egyptian goddess statue unveiled in İzmir’s Red Basilica - an 8.5 metre tall statue in Pergamon

More Sekhmet statues unearthed at Amenhotep III's temple in Luxor

4,000-year-old [Old Babylonian] erotica depicts a strikingly racy ancient sexuality

ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
Presumptive "ocular prosthesis" found in the Burnt City - Tumblr discussion, including artist's impression. :)

Evolution of Angels: From Disembodied Minds to Winged Guardians

Africans in Roman York?

Oldest Perfumes Found on "Aphrodite's Island"

Peking Man Was a Fashion Plate

Papyri Point to Practice of Voluntary Temple Slavery in Ancient Egypt

Study shows 'gene flow' from India to Australia 4000 years ago

Stirling Castle's Amazon warrior revealed

Sekhmet's bits: Forgotten statue uncovered

Temple find shows sway of ancient Egyptian religion

War was central to Europe's first civilisation - contrary to popular belief

Ancient "Egyptian blue" pigment points to new telecommunications, security ink technology

DNA sleuth hunts wine roots in Anatolia

Robot Finds Mysterious Spheres in Ancient Temple (Best headline ever. The temple's in Teotihuacan.)

Uncovered: Ritual public drunkenness and sex in ancient Egypt

Linguists identify words that have changed little in 15,000 years

Classic gags discovered in ancient Roman joke book

Cosmic find unearthed using Aboriginal Dreaming story

Digging for the truth at controversial megalithic site (Indonesia's Gunung Padang)

Folk magic found in old Brisbane basement

The earliest iron artifact ever found was made from a meteorite

Evidence of 3,000-Year-Old Cinnamon Trade Found in Israel

Cheese first made at least 7,500 years ago

How Egyptian god Bes gave the Christian Devil his looks

Ancient Magician's Curse Tablet Discovered in Jerusalem

Egyptian goddess statue unveiled in İzmir’s Red Basilica (It's a nine-metre tall Sekhmet. Wow!)

Finds in Israel add weight to theory God “had wife”


Evidence of fire-raining comet discovered on Earth: "The sea of silica was a well-known area of study as its glass was found in highly valuable jewelry, including a brooch of the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun."

Untangling the Mystery of the Inca (khipu)

ETA (thanks, [livejournal.com profile] alryssa!):

"Lost City" of Tanis Found, but Often Forgotten

Photos from the submerged ancient city of Heracleion
ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
Herewith some notes on gender complexity in various cultures, relevant to the question of gender in the Ancient Near East. (I'll add additional notes to this posting as I find more references. Last update 30 July 2017 (added some links).)

Johnson, Crystal. "Napanangka: the true power of being proud". In Colouring the rainbow: blak queer and trans perspectives life stories and essays by first nations people of Australia. Edited by Dino Hodge. Mile End, SA, Wakefield Press, 2015.

"One day when I was a bit older, in my teens, I sat down with my grandmother and said to her about why she didn't mind me wearing girl's clothes. She said that there were always sistergirls [trans women] in Aboriginal culture and there always were trans people long before European settlement in Australia. And people like her tribal group - being the last tribe to be discovered in Australia - I believe her for that because she didn't come into contact with a white person until she was a teenager. In Arrente they call us 'gawarregwarre'; Luritja mob, they say like 'kungakunga,' same again, meaning like 'girl girl';Warlpiri, they say 'karnta-pia'. The trans women at that time would join the women to do traditional women duties like cooking, collecting bush fruit, growing up the children, and making bush medicine. They'd go through women's ceremony and they'd be respected as women. They'd have relationships with men and be married because they'd be identified as straight women." (p 37)

Hollimon, Sandra. "Warfare and Gender in the Northern Plains: Osteological Evidence of Trauma Reconsidered." in Arnold, Bettina and Nancy L. Wicker (eds). Gender and the Archaeology of Death. Walnut Creek, CA, AltaMira Press, c2001.

Third and fourth genders ("Two-Spirit People") in Plains Indian society have been "extensively documented", with the emphasis on biological males who adopt feminine dress and occupations. "It appears that for some North American groups, a combination of characteristics qualified a female person as belonging to a named 'fourth gender'; these include participation in male-dominated subsistence activities such as hunting, inclusion in war parties as armed combatants, occasional and/or partial cross-dressing, sexual activity with women, and refusal to marry men."

Two-spirit men participated in war parties, and in some cultures, were considered lucky to have along. Hollimon notes that "The gender role designated 'warrior woman' can be distinguished from the occasional participation of women in war parties" - she fought often, was good at it, and it was clearly a part of her identity.In some societies, women who dreamed of "Double Woman" "were given sexual license that was unavailable to normative women" and "might obtain power to make medicines or war shields, amongst other skills."

[Tons of references. I don't want to go too berserk, but I would like to get my hands on the books Two-Spirit People (1997) and Changing Ones (1998).]

Crass, Barbara A. "Gender and Mortuary Analysis". in Arnold, Bettina and Nancy L. Wicker (eds). Gender and the Archaeology of Death. Walnut Creek, CA, AltaMira Press, c2001.

Inuit gender is amazing. For one thing, Inuit languages lack gendered pronouns. For another, the division of labour is "fluid and flexible", with men cooking and sewing and women sealing and whaling. But this is the part that blew my mind: "Personal names are considered an aspect of one of the souls (most groups believe in two) the Inuit possess... When the name of a recently deceased relative or community member is given to a newborn, the infant is believed to acquire some of the wisdom, skills, and traits of the deceased. The child becomes a living representative of the deceased person, who is often viewed as being partially reincarnated. This procedure may be repeated, resulting in the child assuming multiple gender roles..." One Inuit boy was called "stepmother" by his dad and "aunt" by his mum, "for these were their respective relationships to the woman whose soul was the boy's guardian."

Inuit clothing is gendered - for example, a woman's parka has a hood big enough to carry a child in, slung against her back - but Crass gives various examples of cross-dressing. "Among the Caribou Inuit, a child given the name of a deceased relative of the opposite sex wore the clothing of that sex." Shamans are androgynous, "occupying a shifting position between male and female. Their clothing could combine the characteristic features of both sexes".

But to get to the specific topic of this posting: "biological males who dressed, worked, and lived as females are described among the Inuit of Kodiak Island.. Often these transformers were shamans, but all gender transformers were influential. Some of them were males raised as females from infancy, either because of their 'feminine' appearance or a desire of the parents to have a daughter. Parents could designate a male child to become a shaman at birth and raise that child as a female."

Crass notes that no "female-to-male gender transformers are reported" from the Island, but also that they are sometimes "invisible" to "naive ethnographers" - such as the chap who, in 1980 in Greenland, "had an opportunity to observe two female gender transformers... but could not distinguish them from the men. They were both good sealers and clever at women's work." (Hollimon makes the same point about Plains Indians.)

(I found more examples of Inuit gender complexity in an online book review.)

Wilfred Thesiger, The Marsh Arabs. Penguin, London, 1977.

In the fifties, Thesiger spent long periods of time in southern Iraq, living amongst the 'Marshmen'. These guys are still around, but they had a bastard of a time under Saddam. Some fled to Australia, where of course we treated them like criminals. *grinds teeth together* Anyway:

"'A mustarjil is born a woman,' Amara explained. 'She cannot help that; but she has the heart of a man, so she lives like a man.'

'Do men accept her?'

'Certainly. We eat with her and she may sit in the mudhif. When she dies, we fire off our rifles to honour her. We never do that for a woman. In Majid's village there is one who fought bravely in the war against Haji Sulaiman.'

'Do they always wear their hair plaited?'

'Usually they shave it off like men.'

'Do mustarjils ever marry?'

'No, they sleep with women as we do.'

Once, however, we were in a village for a marriage, when the bride, to everyone's amazement, was in fact a mustarjil. In this case she had agreed to wear women's clothes and to sleep with her husband on the condition that he never asked her to do women's work. The mustarjils were much respected, and their nearest equivalent seemed to be the Amazons of antiquity.'

(Thesiger also encounters a Marsh Arab transwoman: 'I often noticed the same man washing dishes on the river bank with the women. Accepted by them, he seemed quite at home. These people were kinder to him than we would have been in our society.')
The thing about not having to do woman's work reminds me of the bridal Inanna's wriggling out of the womanly work of weaving. (Although her brother Utu promises to bring her the fully processed textiles, I'll bet he didn't have to pluck, comb, spin, braid, warp, weave, and dye them himself! I wonder who got stuck with the job?)

Note to self: find out whether 'the heart of a man', in Arabic, has the same sense of 'heart' as in English, or as in Sumerian or Egyptian: does Amara the canoeboy mean 'courage', or something more like 'mind' or 'soul'?

Stylianoudi, M.-G. Lily. "On Transvestism". in Berggreen, Brit and Nanno Marinatos (eds). Greece and Gender. Bergen, Norway, Norwegian Institute at Athens, 1995.

"In some cultures, such as those of the Siberian Chukchee, the institutionalised role of shaman is provided for adult male homosexuals. These men adopt feminine dress, activities, mannerisms, become 'wives' of other men and assume the 'female' role in anal intercourse. Their social status may be high." (p 158)

The Zar possession cult of Ethiopia "is mostly a feminine cult and it is taken up by women when they wish to publicly voice opinions which ordinarily, because of their role and status, they would not be allowed to... the demons are males and some of them are fierce warriors so that the possessed woman is allowed to carry weapons or any other 'male' attributes characteristic of the demon." (p 155)

Wikan, Unni. "The Xanith: a Third Gender Role?" in Behind the veil in Arabia: Women in Oman. Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982.

The xaniths of the Omani city of Sohar are common and, from Wikan's account, seem pretty well-accepted (which may seem surprising - she discusses Omani attitudes to gender and sexuality, and how the xanith fits into the picture, at length). They're men who declares themselves women, though they're not permitted to wear women's clothing; instead they wear a male dishdasha modified with the waist of a female dress. "Male clothing is white; females wear patterned cloth in bright colours; xaniths wear unpatterned cloth in pastel colours." Similarly, their hair length and style are distinct, and unlike both men and women, they go bareheaded. At the time of Wikan's study (the seventies), Omani women were strictly secluded and segregated; at meals, weddings, and so forth, xaniths are found with the women, who don't follow the usual rules of modesty with them. However, a xanith is still a man for the purposes of the law, and is referred to with masculine pronouns. Wikan's informants were certain that all xaniths are sex workers whose clients were men (legal, unlike sex work by women) although some work as domestic servants. Interestingly, some xaniths chose to return to the role of men, and some even move back and forth between their male and female roles. (Wikipedia gives the word as khanith, meaning "effeminate", and notes its use as an insult. Do note the age of this study.)

Wikan remarks: "Here, then, may be the key to an understanding of the gender system in Sohar. It is the sexual act, not the sexual organs, which is fundamentally constitutive of gender. And there is no confusion possible in this culture between the male and female role in intercourse: the man "enters", the woman "receives"; the man is active, the woman is passive. Behaviour, and not anatomy, is the basis for the Omani conceptualization of gender identity." (p 175)


Law, Benjamin. Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East. Collingwood, Vic. : Black Inc., 2012.

"Thailand has a long history of transsexualism. Before the 1960s, it had three gender categories: chai (masculine); ying (feminine); and kathoey, a sort of umbrella term that referred to in-betweeners - effeminate men, masculine women and people with intersex conditions. Afterwards, those categories splintered further into super-specific identities like gay, tom (masculine lesbian) and dee (feminine lesbian)." (p 51)

"Let's take a brief tour through a Beginner's Guide to Homosexual Slang in Myanmar. Repeat after me. Achauk (pronounced 'ah-chowk') is a handy, all-encompassing term for any man who has sex with other men. Use it carefully, because it's the Burmese equivalent of 'faggot'... There are three categories of achauk... Apwint ('ah-pwint', meaning 'open') are Burma's queens, who live and dress as women and are always - always - on the receiving end of anal sex." (p 207) Apwint sleep with either thange (macho, out, always on top) or (straight-acting) abone. Apwint dance at nat spirit festivals, "where apwint were revered as spirit mediums in dance ceremonies that predated Buddhism." (p 229)

The same book mentions "Jogappas, male devotees of the Hindu goddess Yellamma, [who] dressed in the saris and jewellery of married women and sexually serviced men as a display of their religious devotion."


The Eerie Beauty of Rare Alphabets, The Atlantic, August 2011: "The Buginese language spoken on Indonesian islands has five genders—feminine woman, feminine man, masculine female, masculine man, and bissu ('a gender that embodies both male and female energies, and is thus revered as mystical and wise')."

The Sacrifices of Albania's 'Sworn Virgins'

Sworn to virginity and living as men in Albania

Fa'afafine - Samoan boys brought up as girls

Fa'afafine: The boys raised to be girls

Sulawesi's fifth gender (Inside Indonesia, 2 April 2001). "The Bugis acknowledge three sexes (female, male, hermaphrodite), four genders (women, men, calabai, and calalai), and a fifth meta-gender group, the bissu." | In Indonesia, Non-Binary Gender is a Centuries-Old Idea (Atlas Obscura, 18 June 2016)

Sistergirls and brotherboys unite to strengthen spirits (ABC, 21 November 2016). A gathering of gender-diverse Indigenous Australians.

ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
Further to yesterday's posting, I did a little more Googling, and found a passage from the Kriol Baibul which includes the word drimin:

"Tudei na ai sabi nomo eni drimin jidan iya, oni det trubala God blanga Isreil."

This is from 2 Kings 5:15, where Naaman, miraculously cured of his leprosy, declares: "Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel." (NIV)

With the help of an online Kriol dictionary, I can stumblingly render the Kriol translation as, "Today surely I know that no other Dreaming lives here, only that true God of Israel."

(Kriol is of course a creole, a fully-fledged language with its own syntax and grammar, spoken by around thirty thousand people in the north of Australia. But it's kind of fun to spot the bits of Pidgin English incorporated into its vocabulary - "today", "savvy", "belong", etc.)


Aug. 27th, 2009 05:39 pm
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