Category Archives: Ancient

ESSAYS ON GAME DESIGN – ESSAY ELEVEN: LUCK BE NOT LAZY

My next Essay on Gaming and Game Design, since this is my post for Design of Things to Come.

ESSAYS ON GAME DESIGN

Essay Eleven: Luck Be Not Lazy

“High Fortune is the Good Wife of the Brave Husband.”

“Our survival kit is within us…”

“Good Luck befriend thee, Son…”

Synopsis:Boldness makes you luckier.” Boldness and risk taking make you more likely to survive and succeed than timidity and cowardice. This is true both in life, and in-game.

Recently while reading the book The Survivor’s Club (I am a survivalist and often study various aspects of survival art and science) I came across a very interesting equation by Nicholas Rescher.

The equation is as follows:

λ(E) = ∆(E) x [1-pr(E)] = ∆(E) x pr(not-E)

Rescher was attempting to mathematically illustrate how conclusions are drawn about the conditions and functional nature of “luck.” I have not had the time to examine the mathematics in detail for myself since I have only the basic equation formulation and a basic interpretation by the author of the book (not the author of the equation). I plan on looking up the entire background of the equation when I have the time.

Basically the equation states that how lucky an individual (or theoretically an event, with variable exchange) is considered to be depends upon a number of factors, but not least is the level of sufficient risk associated with any endeavor. That is to say the greater the risk taken by an individual, when success is finally achieved (though success is not guaranteed), then naturally the “more lucky” such an individual is considered in relation to others. This is of course only logical, and can be illustrated in the following way.

Two men decide to cross a chasm. One does so by a secure wooden footbridge with a safety railing, another along a length of tightrope. If both men make it safely across then most objective observers would say that the man walking upon the tightrope was “luckiest.” His risk was greatest and when (if) he succeeds then luck has been said to play a greater role in his crossing (in spite of any personal skill he might possess in wire-walking) than in the guy who has crossed the chasm on a relatively secure footbridge (in which case chance or luck plays a much smaller, if any, role as regards the crossing). This is self-evident, though perhaps often ignored or not noticed in this way in most circumstances by some observers.

lady luck

But I suspect that an even more interesting underlying and basic assumption fundamental to the structure of the equation (though it may not necessarily be overtly stated, when considering “normative variables”) is this: the greater the risk you take the more lucky you are likely to be. Not merely as a matter of relative comparison to others in different circumstances, but as a practical and fundamental matter in most any circumstance. And by extension then the more risk you assume in your given situation then the more likely you are to eventually succeed within that given situation. (Also this implies that luck is not a matter merely to be judged and quantified after the fact, or after the conclusion of the endeavor, but as a functional force, and likely an indirectly measurable force, operating throughout the course of events.)

Think about that for a moment. For the idea may just very well be fundamental to the nature of what many consider “good fortune.” Whether most people realize it or not.

The implication is that with great risk comes not only great danger, but also a greater probability towards actual and more capital success. (I think that there are several reasons for the likelihood of this conclusion, some physical, some psychological, and a few of which I will discuss here). The equation actually states that if you succeed then a larger level of risk can be said to include within the nature of the success a greater degree of good fortune, expressed colloquially as “luck.” But underneath the equation, if you examine it closely, is a sort of sub-structural formulation that implies that the greater the level of risk you assume in attempting any given or particular thing, the more likely you are to actually succeed, but that this does not become absolutely mathematically obvious until after the events are actually concluded.

In short the equation is covertly implying that all things being equal, and excluding the impossible (of course, as well as the intentionally foolhardy and reckless), it is the one who assumes the greatest risk who is far more likely to be lucky and in the end, to succeed as a result of the advantages bestowed by luck. (Is luck the only factor in success? Good Lord no. Preparation, skill, cunning, cleverness, drive, desire, etc. – all of these factors and more, or even less, can help to assure success. But what it is saying is that among roughly equivalent situations and/or competitors it is the more daring and less risk averse who is mathematically far more likely to “get lucky” and win the day, other factors not withstanding. Risk is therefore, as counter-intuitive and paradoxical as the idea may seem, one of the open and golden gateways to good fortune. Or as the old maxim goes, “Fortuna favet fortibus.” There is far more to that observation than mere Latin wit.

We all know that boldness is a fundamental aspect of the nature of Heroism. (Indeed, I personally would not attempt the execution of the function of anything heroic lacking the mettle of individual bravery as my guide. There is neither room for in most risky situations, nor likelihood of success in most dangerous situations for the ‘timid hero.’) Heroes therefore are universally bold. Or on the royal road through hardship and risk to becoming universally bold. Yet often heroes also triumph over seemingly vastly superior opponents with vastly superior resources. Why? Because they are bold. Because they are daring, and audacious, and brave. They also almost universally, whether in real life, or in myth or literature, “get lucky” or at least luckier than everybody else around them. Why? Because fortune does indeed favor the bold. The bold risk great things and therefore fortune is a natural and interested companion along the way. Fortune is attracted to bravery and risk-taking. (This does not imply that all risks are equal, or even equally fortunate, only that fortune prefers boldness to a lack thereof.)

Now it might appear on the surface that the heroic individual, or group, is often both bold and lucky. But the actual truth is they are lucky precisely because they are bolder than everyone else. Hence luck does not make one bold, being bold makes one lucky. There is a direct, if not always immediately observationally evident, correlation. That man who takes the most risk is that man who is likely to be luckiest and to be most successful. Even if bravery does not create good fortune in a particular circumstance it at least maintains and augments what good fortune already exists within that circumstance.

There are several reasons for this I think, some derived from my own personal observations, others I have gathered from anecdotal evidence, some taken from historical studies, still others implied by the equation I listed above.

First, the psychological ones:

1. The man who is audacious and daring tends to impress others with their vision. Small visions do not attract interest or followers. Bravery impresses and heroic visions and examples evoke imitation. Courage inspires devotion. And devotion inspires more courage as well as more of itself, which thereby tends to augment good fortune through cooperative enterprise and shared labor and objectives. Making success far more likely.

2. The individual who is brave tends to impress even dangerous creatures and animals, which will sometimes flee a man who the animal could easily kill because the man exhibits no fear. So if something or even someone thinks you’re crazy enough to be unafraid (regardless of whether you really are or not in that situation) when they think you should be then this gives them pause about their own chances of success against you. Courage in yourself can often inspire caution in an enemy or dangerous opponent, tipping the scales of good fortune, as well as the initiative and control of the situation in your favor.

(This has happened to me on more than one occasion with animals, men, and situations. For instance I’ve been shot at and drawn on on more than one occasion. Most recently this happened to me about two weeks ago. Yet I managed to defuse that particular situation without bloodshed or anyone being harmed because I walked towards the gunfire instead of freezing or fleeing from it when guns were drawn. Not that walking into gunfire is the most impressive or important kind of courage, it is far from it. Other things are often far more dangerous. I know that from personal experience. But the policeman in this case had the wrong location and the wrong target and he was obviously afraid of attack himself and so he drew and fired when he thought he was under attack. I don’t blame him by the way, he did indeed think he was under attack and may have even thought he could possibly be killed. He was also a young fella and a bit of a rookie. I doubt he had ever drawn his weapon before in the line of duty, but that’s just an assumption mind you based upon my observations of the boy, I didn’t really ask him. But he didn’t do anything really wrong; he was just surprised and scared by the situation, not knowing what was really going on. So I supported him when his commanding officer came out to do the in-the-field inquiry about why and how he had discharged his weapon. But I was able to prevent any real harm during the incident by walking into his line of fire [he wasn’t shooting at me, but I caused him to pause by interjecting myself] and taking control of the situation with my voice. Thereby stopping any further firing. I don’t think most people realize how effective an instrument the human voice can be in controlling a dangerous situation but those of you with law enforcement or military backgrounds probably know exactly what I mean. Your voice is probably often your most effective tool of courage and control. So I wasn’t afraid at all when it was happening, though my wife later yelled at me, as she often will, by saying “you stupid white guys run towards gunfire instead of away from it.” But obviously it has got nothing to do with being white, I’ve known a lot of brave men from all kinds of backgrounds, or even really with being stupid I would argue, but with training. I wasn’t afraid at all and so acted as I have trained myself over time, to walk towards danger and not away from it, and to attempt to command any given dangerous situation by not panicking, but by trying to assume control of the circumstances. I also wasn’t scared at all in this situation because I wasn’t thinking about myself at all. Over time I have basically trained fear for my own safety out of myself so that when others are endangered I think about others and not myself. Which eliminates the occupation with “self-fear.” It has become a matter of habit by now, and I never consciously weigh dangers for myself in my mind in that way anymore. However this does not mean the elimination of fear, if my children or wife had been under fire or endangered then I would have been afraid, I would have been thinking of their survival. I do not think though, and thank God this has never occurred, that even in that situation it would have paralyzed me, but I would have been afraid. Afraid for them. Indeed after the shooting I spoke about before was over and I realized just how bad the situation could have become for everyone – there was another officer who could have drawn and started shooting but he remained basically calm and watchful – I had about two minutes where I needed to sit down. To prevent my legs from shaking. But that was about 15 to 20 minutes later. Various friends and some people at church heard about this little adventure from my wife and the police and they all said I was a lucky fool. Just shook their heads. But I wasn’t a lucky fool; I was lucky because in that situation my training allowed me to be bold enough to prevent the situation from becoming completely out of control. I guess what I’m saying is that training yourself to move towards danger may seem apparently crazy, and so the assumption is that you just get lucky that nothing bad happens. Actually you get lucky because you act boldly. The crazy is only relative to those who do not understand that boldness enhances good fortune, not detracts from it.)

3. Bravery does not allow for panic, especially not debilitating panic. Courage is usually prepared for most situations (through exercise, practice, training, and habit) or at the very least does not panic and make situations worse. Boldness has “faith in itself.” Because boldness and enterprise are habits and skills that can be learned through practice. Perhaps some people are naturally born fearless or bold. But regardless of the veracity of that statement a person can become bold and daring through the exercise and practice of courage, just as is the case with bodybuilding through resistance training. You become muscularly and physically stronger by working ever-heavier resistance against weak and inexperienced muscles. You become more courageous by placing yourself in dangerous situations and exercising control against your fear. Eventually your “courage physique” will increase and it will take more and more danger to cause fear any real friction or resistance against you.

That’s all I’m gonna say about the psychological factors because it is not my intent in this essay to discuss all possible psychological variables. But merely to present basic possibilities.

greek

Now for some of the physical factors:

1. I suspect that on the physical level there is an “Entrainment of the unlikely” but nevertheless “necessarily possible” whenever boldness is a factor operating upon the physical environment. That is to say that boldness has both a physical and a quantum effect upon the surrounding environment much as it does on the psychological environment in which courage is in operation. Though the effect may be subtle, it nevertheless positively influences events in favor of the party operating “boldly.” The apparent physical effect is displayed as a tendency of events to move favorably in relation to the “bold party.” Though of course more than one party may be simultaneously operating in a bold fashion. It is not my intention in this short essay though to discuss competitions or conflicts between separate parties acting against each other each in their own bold fashion. That subject can be taken up by another if they so desire.

2. I suspect boldness is probably also a “quantum excitement” to the local environment, causing obstacles and frictions to move away from or bend away from the “bold party.” Friction and resistance does not build up in the environment against the bold, but rather boldness acts as a sort of overlaying energy field that slightly tilts the operational environment in the favor of the bold. You might think of daring and risk as exciting the local environment in such a way that it acts as a sort of simultaneous lubricant for good fortune, and as a sort of barrier against misfortune.
Now if all, or indeed if any of this is true, then this idea has large scale implications for human activity and work in the real world. It also has large scale gaming implications, because heroic gaming could therefore be used as a sort of imaginary training ground for the development of higher and higher states of mental and psychologically habitual (behavioral habits begin in the mind after all) boldness, which could then be effectively transferred outside the self-contained environment of a given game and exported to the wider world.

But for the moment, since this is a website and forum dedicated to gaming let’s examine how we might exploit the idea encapsulated by the statement: “Boldness makes you luckier.”
So I’m going to make a few suggestions as to how to use this hypothesis within your game and/or game setting.

1. If you use some factor, variable, or attribute in your game that represents or expresses Luck (I use several in my games) then (given that my previous statements and hypotheses above make sense to you) anytime your players display real courage this should have a corresponding and even compounding “Luck Effect.” If they are brave, and bold, then their level of Good Fortune should naturally increase, or be augmented in some way. Good luck is never lazy, and it is rarely risk-averse. Rather the braver the character the more likely he is to be lucky in any given situation (assuming he or she does not face impossible odds or an inescapable situation).

So acts of courage and heroism are more than likely to have a direct and positive corresponding effect upon factors of good fortune and the benefits bestowed by luck. I can’t tell you how to do this exactly in your game or setting (because I don’t know the details of your setting) but it is my recommendation that you bind together in some way acts of heroism and boldness to corresponding gains in good fortune. (However these things might be expressed, as bonuses to saving throws, or as “luck advantages,” or as gains to certain types of abilities or skills, or whatever the particular case may be in your situation.)

2. I would also suggest that acts of cowardice and timidity have a corresponding suppression upon factors involving luck. The risk averse would also be averse to natural good fortune. After all the obverse of my proposition, that bravery makes you luckier, is easily demonstrable. No great thing was ever achieved by timidity. The timid do not attempt and therefore naturally do not achieve great things. That is self-evident. Therefore good fortune can hardly be considered a close ally of timidity or cowardice, for achievement is the opposite of being retiring and timid. And achievement against great odds can be called one of the potential proofs of good fortune. So the bold often achieve where the timid will not go. And good fortune goes where the bold dare to lead her. Therefore fortune is long time friend of the bold, but always the stranger to the timid.

3. Courage might not only affect “Luck Factors” but even attributes like Charisma, Wisdom, and leadership. Courage should and will increase luck and overall good fortune but it might also temporarily or even permanently increase attribute scores like Charisma, Wisdom, Intelligence, or leadership abilities.

4. Courage causing increases in luck and good fortune might also have a corresponding positive effect upon things like intuition or even psychic abilities (I use the term psychic to reflect both mental abilities and spiritual capabilities.)

5. Courage would make one “fortunate” in the types and quality of the individuals you attract to yourself as friends, allies, and followers.

6. Another suggestion I might make is that in game terms at least allow for a sort of generalized and conditional reaction to acts of heroism, bravery, and boldness on the part of the surrounding environment. This could take any number of different forms but the overall effect would be that the environment “acts lucky” towards the person exhibiting bravery, initiative, and enterprise.

7. Courage and luck might have a beneficial effect upon the degree of power and level of control one may exercise over magic, magical items, artifacts, and devices, and/or more mundane types of tools/technology.

8. If courage increases good fortune and good fortune makes survival more likely then heroism and bravery should likely have direct and positive effects upon any useful survival mechanism or skill within your game.
These are but a few simple ways that the relationship between boldness and good fortune could be exploited in game, and could also serve as a sort of “reward system” to your best and bravest role-players. I could go into other related matters such as the possible mathematical relationship between boldness, confidence, and chance mechanisms, like gaming dice. But I’ve explored pretty much what I personally wanted to explore as regards this subject, and since I am presenting this post as an Interactive Essay others can add related or peripheral content as they see fit.

But in summation I would also like to encourage you all to make better use of heroism, enterprise, initiative, and boldness in your own situation(s), both in real life and in-game. I suspect that given time you will find yourself more and more inclined to boldness through practice (assuming you are not already), and as a result of that more likely to find yourself enjoying an ever increasing level of good fortune and definite luck.

Good luck to you then.

Political and Organizational History of the Cavaliers, Paladins, Rangers, and the Dragoons

Continuing with a post and description of my own gaming milieu and world, that of Iÿarlðma, or The Other World.

 

Political and Organizational History of the Cavaliers, Paladins, Rangers, and the Dragoons

Being a brief and basic political and organizational history of the Cavaliers, Paladins, Rangers. and Dragoons and a basic Organizational description of Dragoon Commands, Motivations, and Goals.

General Information/Basic History: The Cavaliers, Originally the Cohort of Holy Cavaliers was formed as a special guard for Pope Boniface I, the Pontiff of Rome in the year 419 AD. The Cavaliers served faithfully and were recruited from famous horsemen and officers drawn from the various provinces of the Roman Empire.

The Cavaliers were allowed to secretly exist by the emperors, who on occasion also employed them as personal guards or as special agents for various military, political, diplomatic and espionage missions. In time they came to be seen as a very powerful organization and elite military force in their own right. Many began to fear them, especially in the halls of civil government where the Imperial Guards considered the Cavaliers as a threat and a dangerous competition.

Eventually in the year 498 AD the Emperor Anastasius turned a blind eye to events in Rome as the Imperial Guards, some seditious prelates and the governor of Rome set up their own anti-Pope, Laurentius. This new pope threatened the existing pope Saint Symmachus, whose successor upon Symmachus’ death was forced to flee first to Sicily and then eventually into Gaul. Some of the most loyal Cavaliers then at Rome also fled with the newly elected but unordained pope Palladius (after whom the Paladins are named) as he left the city. Many others were arrested in secret by the Imperial Guards at night and executed. Some of the leaders of the Grand Cohort, as the Cavaliers were popularly known escaped initial arrest when the Italian Garrison refused to detain them, and fled the city accompanied by the remains of the Theban Legion (Thundering Legion) who had survived the pagan revival massacre and had continued to exist as an underground organization in service to the pope. Those who fled took ship and made their way first to North Africa and eventually east coming to Alexandria and then to the eastern Capital at Constantinople. Those Cavaliers serving along the frontiers, after hearing of the dissolution of their order and of the fate of their comrades deserted their ranks and melded into the local population or joined mercenary patrols under false names and backgrounds. The anti-Pope then formed his own personal guard of hand-selected Imperial soldiers as well as deserters and traitors from the ranks of the Cavaliers who were eventually to become known as the Dragoons. These Dragoons acted as a virtual Praetorian guard for the anti-Pope Laurentius and for several anti-popes to follow.

Goals & Ideals of the Dragoons: The annihilation of the Cavaliers and the destruction of any organization which might be considered a splinter group of the Cavaliers, such as the Paladins of the West, the Palademes of the Eastern Roman Empire, the Rangers of the West and the Vigilantes of the Eastern Empire. They also intend to depose the current Pope and install their own Anti-Pope. The basic history of the group is as detailed above, and their origin as a result of the Cavalier Purge is well known in educated political, military and church officiate circles, and among some few in the higher social classes. The more secretive history, as detailed in the Inner Workings section below is far less well known and is a closely guarded secret known by few. The Dragoons of all ranks and commands are a very secretive group, go to great lengths to hide their activities and have also gone to great lengths to make it appear as if their group has disbanded or simply faded out of existence in the past 100 years or so. Many of the Paladins and Rangers they hunt to death are not even aware of their existence until they are ambushed, poisoned, captured, tortured, or murdered. The Dragoons are less active in the East, being more numerous and driven in the West but do also occasionally send hunting parties into the Eastern Empire and even as far East as the Middle East and Persia. No matter where they operate their goals are the same.

The Dragoons have also spawned much smaller tactical operation teams and parties such as the Consociatio and often work in partnership with barbarian kings and even with organized crime syndicates such as the Keishon (the Black Hand) and with pirates and brigands. They tend to support their activities secretly with an underground financial organization of minor nobles, corrupt military and civil officials, and by engaging in various criminal activities, such as arms smuggling, tax interception and theft, and kidnapping/ransom/extortion operations.

Despite the vicious reputation of the order and despite the fact that by most every objective standard the group is indeed inclined towards evil and self-promotion the members of the Dragoons consider themselves completely justified in their actions and actually think of themselves as working for the good. They consider their Anti-Pope to be an ideal leader and they consider the eradication of the Paladins and Rangers to be a Holy Objective and Divine Purpose.

Leadership: The top ranks of the leadership of the Dragoons remains a secret and is unknown to any except the leaders themselves. Every rank has a leader as does every overall Command. These leaders also operate in secret with assignments and missions being passed down from higher level operatives and leaders through a secretive transmission and code/messenger system. On the local level the Dragoons are divided into small tactical commands which undertake missions, hunt Cavaliers and their descendants, steal tax monies, engage in criminal activities, smuggle weapons, corrupt and bribe officials and surveil any target of interest. The name of the current Antipope is unknown, as his identity is an enigma, however it is believed by some he may be a high church official stationed either at Rome or in Ravenna.

The names of the leaders of certain splinter groups, such as the Consociatio are known (his name is Leticus Cambrius) and such people and groups are even famous and well respected, however nothing is known about the shadowy and covert activities of these groups and men. The Consociatio is publicly known but is not known to have any ties to the Dragoons and the Dragoons intend that all such aligned groups are fronts for other activities and that their true intentions remain secretive and hidden.

Inner Workings: The antipope and the Imperator (Supreme General) of the Imperial Praetorian Guards for the Western emperors were unsatisfied with the initial purge of the ranks of the Cavaliers. Fearing that the survivors who had escorted the pope into exile and that those who had escaped to Africa would rise again to power and take revenge decided upon a hunting pogrom to fully eradicate any surviving Cavaliers and their families and associates. They also intended to capture and imprison the deposed pope. Those Imperial Guards who had best known the habits, training, and numbers of the Cavaliers, along with Cavaliers who had been tortured and disaffected from the pope’s service were formed into a new unit, officially known as the Cavaleem, whose public duty was to apprehend and arrest the outlawed Cavaliers. However their real duties were to hunt down and kill the remaining Cavaliers, as well as kill their families and seize any possessions they might have as tribute, and to capture and imprison the pope in exile.

The most powerful arm of the Cavaleem were organized at a secret training base in Hispania where they divided themselves into special units devoted to particular kinds of work and assignments. These Cavaleem, who called themselves the Dragoons were to become the most famous of all Cavaleem and eventually, would give their name to all Cavaleem, as the popular name for the Cavaleem soon became the Dragoons.

The Dragoons divided themselves into four Commands; 1) the Emeralds, who served as political police for the emperors and various other high officials in the civil government, and as Special Bodyguards for the antipope, 2) the Crimson which served as city detachments of political and civil police, both at Rome and in frontier cities, 3) the Argent who were a unit assigned to the regular legions as officers and informers to keep the civil authorities and the emperors informed of possible intrigue or insurrection, and 4) the Ebone, who served as special forces agents, usually operating alone or in small detachments. The Ebone Command were the most well trained unit of soldiers in the secret Cavaleem force, being experts at weapons, horsemanship, tracking and hunting, and unarmed combat. Often they were also trained as assassins proficient at killing men in secret, and in the uses of poison. The Ebone unit was the detachment assigned with the hunting down of and the eradication of the escaped or exiled Cavaliers. Because of their dedication in fulfilling this assignment the Ebone were also called the Cavacaedere, the Cavalier Killers, but they earned their most famous nickname later because of the enmity that developed between themselves and the Paladins. They became most popularly known as the AntiPaladins. After the official line of popes were restored some AntiPaladins, especially the Ebone agents, began to sell their services to others who wished to seize the papal seat and become new antipopes, or to those who wished to seize Imperial crowns or foment rebellions among the barbarians. Some even went to hire for the Arabs, Muslims, Persians, and others in the Orient where their reputations for ruthlessness and for espionage and insurrection were unmatched. A secret core of Dragoons remained in the Western Empire however, operating from Sicily, Hispania, North Africa, and Ravenna, determined to forever eradicate any remains of the Cavaliers and their descendants and to reestablishing an antipope favorable to themselves so that they might rise again to power in the West.

Those Cavaliers who escaped into exile with the pope would eventually form the basis of the Paladins of the Holy Roman Empire of Charles Martel (The Hammer) and eventually of Charlemagne in the West. Those Cavaliers who escaped to Africa and eventually to the east became the champions of the Eastern Church, the Palademes and War Monks of the Orient. Those frontiers Cavaliers who had deserted their post or who had become mercenaries also became very famous, especially in the Eastern Empire, as the legendary Rangers. The Rangers were often employed by the Eastern Empire and by the emperor as frontiers’ sheriffs, spies, infiltrators, bounty hunters, anti-insurgent operatives, and anti-raiding outpost defenders. Whereas the Paladins gained great public prestige and eventual political power as the servants of the church and the defenders of the civil order, the Rangers, because of their background, preferred to operate alone or in small groups and often in secret and/or in disguise. The Paladins became the new public face of the Cavaliers and were considered the champions of public law and the authorities and of urban life, while the Rangers became the heroes of the poor and the oppressed along the frontiers, the defenders of the land, and the champions of private justice. Eventually the Rangers in the East would take on a new title, the Vigilantes, and would keep law where no official law existed and the hand of no army could reach.

Whereas the AntiPaladins became almost fanatical in their hatred of and hunting of the Paladins, because they greatly feared the rising political and civil power of the Paladins, the Rangers never forgot the original purge of the Cavaliers and held a fierce and secret hatred for the Dragoons, of all commands, but especially against the Ebone Dragoons. So while the AntiPaladins covertly hunted the Cavalier survivors and the Paladins, the Rangers and Vigilantes, with their own secret plans, hunted the AntiPaladins.

CAIRNS OF THE DEAD

Excellent gaming and story background materials.

 

Forgotten monuments of Northern Sweden

The larger of the Spir Mountain Cairns from NW. Photo by Carl L. Thunberg 2014-06-26. (CC BY-NC)

The larger of the Spir Mountain Cairns from NW. Photo by Carl L. Thunberg 2014-06-26. (CC BY-NC)

Carl L. Thunberg
Carl L. Thunberg is a Swedish archaeologist and historian, born in Stockholm 1963, with master’s degrees completed at the Universities of Gothenburg and Uppsala. His two main areas of specialisation are ancient Scandinavian monuments and the transitional period between the Viking Age and the Nordic Middle Ages. Academia Page

The Spir Mountain cairns are located near to the Swedish city of Örnsköldsvik in Norrland. These two exceptionally well preserved Early Bronze Age cairns are arguably the finest examples of this region, and aesthetically, they are equal to the best prehistoric monuments that Sweden has to offer.

The Spir Mountain; the view in a southeasterly direction. Photo by Carl L. Thunberg 2014-06-26. (CC BY-NC)

Forgotten monuments in a wild landscape

Norrland’s ancient monuments are often – in comparison to southern Sweden – relatively inaccessible, and to reach these particular examples one must climb a rugged mountain covered with pine trees.

In the main, the information concerning the most northerly Swedish prehistoric sites is outdated, and was brought together in the 19th and early 20th centuries (e.g. Ekdahl 1827-1830; Sidenbladh 1864, 1867, 1868; Olsson 1911, 1914). However, these inventories are often the only references available, as can be seen from the FMIS system of the Swedish National Heritage Board.

Monuments to the dead

Map over the Spir Mountain (Spirberget) with the cairns marked. Through the FMIS system by Carl L. Thunberg 2015-02-28. (CC BY-NC)

The vast majority of the cairns appear to have been built as monuments to the dead, mainly during the southern Scandinavian Bronze Age; circa 1800-500 BC. They occupy prominent positions overlooking the surrounding area, and some researchers speculate that they had a function as tribal markers for family group territories (Baudou 1959, 1968; Burenhult et al 1999).

Unlike the cairns from the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age which appear to contain cremation burials, the Early Bronze Age examples like one of the Spir Mountain cairns (RAÄ Grundsunda 109:1), have internal burial chambers with cists containing skeletal remains, accompanied by various grave goods. In some cases the cairns have been used repeatedly, and have been expanded out from their original structures (ibid).

Many of the cairns were constructed near or overlooking what was once the sea shore; some 30-50 metres above present sea level (ibid), and it is interesting to note that Spir Mountain had once been an island within a bay during the Bronze Age.

Norrland’s coastal cairn-zone is usually considered to extend from northern Uppland to Piteå in Norrbotten, a distance of about 860 kilometres. The coastal cairn-zone in Ångermanland is particularly rich, and includes about 700 registered sites.

Carl L. Thunberg by the larger of the Spir Mountain Cairns. Photo Sven Käll 2014-06-26. (CC BY-NC)

Two remarkable structures

During the investigations of prehistoric sites in Ångermanland, the project reached the Spir Mountain and its cairns in 2013. The first visit was an overwhelming experience, standing before two remarkable structures of dry stone masonry with spectacular views across the surrounding landscape. The larger of the cairns (13m in diameter) is exceptionally well preserved, and almost perfectly circular. The stone required for construction must have required an immense investment of labour. The smaller cairn is just to the east and is 6m in diameter.

There are few known settlements that can be associated with the coastal cairns, but it is likely that the area’s inhabitants must have had an economy based on fishing and seal hunting (Baudou 1968). In Västernorrland there are cairns dating from the Earlier Bronze Age through to the Iron Age, with some still in use as late as the Viking Age, long after the tradition disappeared in many other places in Sweden and other parts of Scandinavia (Baudou 1959, 1968; George & Vinberg 2006).

Although the groups of coastal cairns in Norrland, with their contextual continuity, must represent the cultural remnants of a resident population, until further modern research takes place in this landscape it is difficult to fully interpret the sites and identify the cultures that created them.


Link to map and satellite photoshttp://www.hitta.se/karta/partner?s=014c725f

Link to the archaeological search engine of FMIS: http://www.fmis.raa.se/cocoon/fornsok/search.html

Link to the RAÄ page for Carl L. Thunberg and the Spirmountain Cairns: http://www.raa.se/aktuellt/vara-evenemang/arkeologidagen/till-arrangemangen/angermanland/spirbergsrosena-en-majestatisk-fornlamningsplats-i-ornskoldsvik/

Link to Carl L. Thunberg’s Academia.edu page: http://gu-se.academia.edu/CarlLThunberg

References

  • Baudou, E. 1959. Till frågan om de norrländska kuströsenas datering. Fornvännen: Journal of Swedish Antiquarian Research (1959): 161-176. KVHAA.
  • Baudou, E. 1968. Forntida bebyggelse i Ångermanlands kustland. Arkeologiska undersökningar av ångermanländska kuströsen. Arkiv för norrländsk hembygdsforskning XVII. Härnösand.
  • Burenhult, G (ed.). 1999. Arkeologi i Norden. Bokförlaget Natur & Kultur. Stockholm.
  • George, O. & Vinberg, A. 2006. Arkeologisk undersökning av gravröse vid Älandsfjärden. Rapport 2006:10. Länsmuseet Västernorrland & RAÄ. Härnösand.
  • Ekdahl, N. J. 1827-1830. Berättelse till Kongl. Witterhets, Historie och Antiqvitets Academien om de Wettenskapliga Forskningsresor, som blifvit företagna åren 1827, 1828, 1829, 1830 i Norrland … (etc). Antikvarisk-topografiska arkivet: N. J. Ekdahls samlingar.
  • Olsson, E. 1911. Berättelse öfver arkeologiska undersökningar i Ångermanland. KVHAA.
  • Olsson, E. 1914. Översikt av de fasta fornlämningarna i Ångermanland. Fornvännen: Journal of Swedish Antiquarian Research (1914): 49-80. KVHAA.
  • Sidenbladh, K. 1864. Några fornminnen i Norra Ångermanland, antecknade sommaren 1864 av Karl Sidenbladh Phil.stud.Norrl. KVHAA.
  • Sidenbladh, K. 1867. Berättelse till Kongl. Witterhets, Historie och Antiqvitets Akademin om de antikvariska undersökningar gjorda under 1867. KVHAA.
  • Sidenbladh, K. 1868. Fornlemningar i Ångermanland och Medelpad 1864-1868. KVHAA.

THE BYZANTINE IMPERIAL ARMY

HANG SON SOONG

Amazing…

Can you imagine both the Real World and fictional adventure and exploration possibilities? I can.

see link to article for original video.

An Aerial Tour of ‘Hang Son Soong,’ the Largest Cave on Earth

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In this new 6-minute film, cave, adventure, and travel photographer Ryan Deboodt takes us on a breathtaking aerial tour of the world’s largest cave, Hang Son Doong, located in central Vietnam. Deboodt brought a drone and an array of cameras to help capture the cave system, the largest chamber of which is 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) long, 200 meters (660 ft) high and 150 meters (490 ft) wide. Despite its enormity, the cave was only discovered in 1991 by a local man, and it wasn’t even studied by scientists until about five years ago. One of the most disorienting thing about watching Deboodt’s film was my brain not comprehending the scale of what I was looking at. It’s only once you notice the ant-like people walking through some of the shots that you realize just how massive this place is. You can see more of Deboodt’s cave photography on Instagram. (via PetaPixel)

THE DOLMENS ARE COMING, THE DOLMENS ARE COMING!

Never underestimate the power of the Mighty Dolmen. I’ve had many a Real Life adventure at just such a spot.

And they make great Gaming Adventure locales as well. You never know what will arise from under, or out of, the Dolmen. Just ask the Irish.

 

DAYS OF FUTURE PAST

Ancient Shrines Used for Predicting the Future Discovered

by Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor | February 19, 2015 07:14am ET

ancient shrines, gegharot archaeology, divination, ancient hilltop fortress

A shrine excavated at the entrance of a fortress’ west terrace in Gegharot in Armenia. The stone stele like would’ve been a focal point for rituals practiced there some 3,300 years ago.

Credit: Photo courtesy Professor Adam Smith

Three shrines, dating back about 3,300 years, have been discovered within a hilltop fortress at Gegharot, in Armenia.

Local rulers at the time likely used the shrines for divination, a practice aimed at predicting the future, the archaeologists involved in the discovery say.

Each of the three shrines consists of a single room holding a clay basin filled with ash and ceramic vessels. A wide variety of artifacts were discovered including clay idols with horns, stamp seals, censers used to burn substances and a vast amount of animal bones with markings on them. During divination practices, the rulers and diviners may have burnt some form of substances and drank wine, allowing them to experience “altered” states of mind, the archaeologists say. [See Images of the Divination Shrines and Artifacts]

“The logic of divination presumes that variable pathways articulate the past, present and future, opening the possibility that the link between a current situation and an eventual outcome might be altered,” write Adam Smith and Jeffrey Leon, in an article published recently in the American Journal of Archaeology. Smith is a professor at Cornell University, and Leon is a graduate student there.

The fortress at Gegharot is one of several strongholds built at around this time in Armenia. “Evidence to date suggests that this coordinated process of fortress construction was part of the emergence of a single polity that built and occupied multiple sites in the region,” write Smith and Leon.

Smith believes that Gegharot would have been used as an occult center for the rulers. “I would think that this is probably a cult center largely specializing in servicing the emerging rulers from the ruling class,” he told Live Science in an interview.

At the time, writing had not yet spread to this part of Armenia so the name of the polity, and its rulers, are unknown.

Predicting the future

Smith and Leon found evidence for three forms of divination at Gegharot. One form was osteomancy, trying to predict the future through rituals involving animal bones, in this case the knucklebones of cows, sheep and goat.

The knucklebones, which were covered in burns and other markings, would have been rolled like dice in rituals attempting to predict the future, Smith said. “You would roll them and depending upon whether the scorched side or the marked side came up you would [get] a different interpretation,” Smith said.

Lithomancy, trying to predict the future through the use of stone, also appears to have been practiced at Gegharot. Inside a basin at one shrine, archaeologists found 18 small pebbles. “These stones appear to have been selected for their smooth, rounded shape and their color palette, which ranged from black and dark gray to white, green and red,” Smith and Leon write. How exactly these unmarked stones would have been used in rituals is unknown.

Flour for the future?

At one shrine, on the fortress’ east citadel, the archaeologists found an installation used to grind flour. Smith and Leon think that this flour could have been used to predict the future in a practice called aleuromancy. [The 7 Most Mysterious Archaeological Finds on Earth]

“What is conspicuous about the grinding installation in the east citadel shrine is the lack of a formal oven for bread baking,” Smith and Leon write. The shrine’s basin “was clearly used for burning materials and certainly could have been used to bake small balls of dough, but it is unlikely that it would have been used to cook loaves of bread.”

Stamp seals found at the shrine would have allowed people to punch a variety of shapes into dough. “One possibility (admittedly among many others) is that the stamps marked the dough that was then used for aleuromancy.”

Future’s end

The shrines were in use for a century or so until the surrounding fortress, along with all the other fortresses in the area, were destroyed. The site was largely abandoned after this, Smith said.

At the time, there was a great deal of conflict in the south Caucasus with a number of regional polities fighting against each other, Smith said. The polity that controlled Gegharot seems to have been wiped out in one of those conflicts.

Although the rulers who controlled Gegharot put great effort into trying to predict and change the future, it was to no avail — their great fortresses being torched in a cataclysm they could not avoid.

Excavations at the shrines are part of the American-Armenian Project for the Archaeology and Geography of Ancient Transcaucasian Societies (Project ArAGATS).

The west terrace shrine was excavated in 2003, the west citadel shrine in 2008, and the east citadel shrine in 2010 and 2011.

GOT MAIL?

WE’VE GOT MAIL

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

We are selecting objects for a new permanent display of metalwork on the first floor (Lower Gallery). Whilst searching through the museum’s reserve collections at our off-site storage facility  we found this wonderful board mounted with different types of mail armour. Mail is often referred to as ‘chain mail’ – terminology introduced by Sir Walter Scott in his 1822 novel “The Fortunes of Nigel”.

This assemblage was collected – and possibly arranged – by General Pitt-Rivers himself. Pitt-Rivers collected from many sites in London during the 1860s, often as part of early ‘salvage archaeology’ excavations during groundworks for civic construction projects such as the London Underground and the Victoria Embankment.

C17th-centruy mail with rounded jumped (butted) rings and f
lat, welded rings. 1884.31.41. 5 © Pitt Rivers Museum

The pieces of mail are described in an early catalogue of 1874 as “Twenty fragments of Chain armour. European and Oriental”. The hand-written labels date some of them to the XVII (17th) century, and several are recorded as being recovered from the “Thames Embankment”. The board has clearly been put together as an exhibit rather than a cataloguing or storage device. We have no record of whether it was ever displayed at the Pitt Rivers Museum but it may well have been displayed in Bethnal Green Museum (now the V&A Museum of Childhood) and South Kensington Museums (now the V&A) where the General’s archaeological and ethnological collection was first shown to the public in London from 1874-1878 (Bethnal Green) and from 1878-1882 (South Kensington), before being donated to the University of Oxford in 1884.

The board was arranged to show a variety of different types and gauges of linkage variations within the single category of ‘mail armour’ – a neat demonstration of Pitt-Rivers’s concept of ‘typological’ arrangements. Some samples are of butted or ‘jumped’ mail, arranged in alternating rows with solid welded rings. Butted rings were the cheapest type of mail to make and buy, though the most vulnerable to a well-placed thrust from a sword or spear. Each ring is linked to four others in the European ‘4-in-1’ style.

There were also examples of what seemed to be imitation rivets – perhaps to give the illusion of quality or strength – plus large-gauge hooked mail with spiral links, which may have been worn by horses in conjunction with solid barding armour.

Mail with possible imitation rivets (left) and hooked mail, possibly for horses (right)
1884.31.41. 15 and 1884.31.41. 13 © Pitt Rivers Musuem

The different pieces of mail were fixed to the painted wooden board with metal staples. Many of the metal rings were suffering from corrosion and rust and some links were missing. When the items were sent to our Conservation lab, our conservator Andrew rearranged tangled links and cleaned the metal with a sponge and stiff brush.

Of the twenty small pieces, a handful demonstrating the different mail types were chosen for the new Metalwork display. One substantial piece of fine mail was arranged flat on the left side of the board, rather like a half-folded T-shirt, but in fact consisted of a tube that opened out into a flat piece. Perplexed, we consulted the experts. Staff at the Royal Armouries were very helpful and Thom Richardson, Keeper of Armour and Oriental Collections, suggested it was part of C17th-century pajama zereh (mail trousers), worn by an Indian Mughal warrior.

Half riveted mail armour, identified as being part of Indian pajama zereh (mail trousers), India. 1884.31.41. 3
© Pitt Rivers Museum

Next, Andrew considered how to create a mount that would both support the mail for display and illustrate how it would be positioned on the body. Using a template from the armour, and based on his own leg, he made a liner out of calico, and filled it with polyester wadding. After padding it out to form a rough leg shape, he then tacked the mail to the calico with cotton thread. Research indicated this is not too dissimilar to how the armour would have been worn, as it would originally have been sewn to fabric trousers. Mail armour can adjust to many shapes and is very heavy, so this mount should support most of the weight and hopefully help visitors understand how it was worn.

Andrew at work in the Conservation lab making a new display mount for the pajama zereh leg armour
© Pitt Rivers Museum

You can see just how much work has to go into preparing just a few objects. You will be able to see the mail armour, alongside up to 200 other objects, in the new Metalwork display on the first floor this summer. In the meantime, you can still find examples of full mail shirts, plus various other armours (plate, lamellar, brigandine) upstairs on the Upper Gallery or here on our Arms and Armour site.

Helen Adams
VERVE Project Curator

CROWNING GLORY

This gave me a lot of good ideas for treasure, but in particular for a magical crown of indeterminate construction, symbols and glyphs, decoration, and powers.

Actually, far more a powerful relic than a mere magical object.


The Nahal Mishmar Treasure

In 1961, a spectacular collection of objects dating from the Chalcolithic period (ca. 4000–3300 B.C.) was excavated in a cave in the Judaean Desert near the Dead Sea. Hidden in a natural crevice and wrapped in a straw mat, the hoard contained 442 different objects: 429 of copper, six of hematite, one of stone, five of hippopotamus ivory, and one of elephant ivory. Many of the copper objects in the hoard were made using the lost-wax process, the earliest known use of this complex technique. For tools, nearly pure copper of the kind found at the mines at Timna in the Sinai Peninsula was used. However, the more elaborate objects were made with a copper containing a high percentage of arsenic (4–12%), which is harder than pure copper and more easily cast.

Hidden in a natural crevice and wrapped in a straw mat, the hoard contained 442 different objects.

Carbon-14 dating of the reed mat in which the objects were wrapped suggests that it dates to at least 3500 B.C. It was in this period that the use of copper became widespread throughout the Levant, attesting to considerable technological developments that parallel major social advances in the region. Farmers in Israel and Jordan began to cultivate olives and dates, and herders began to use milk products from domesticated animals. Specialized artisans, sponsored by an emerging elite, produced exquisite wall paintings, terracotta figurines and ossuaries, finely carved ivories, and basalt bowls and sculpture.
The objects in the Nahal Mishmar hoard appear to have been hurriedly collected. It has been suggested that the hoard was the sacred treasure belonging to a shrine at Ein Gedi, some twelve kilometers away. Set in an isolated region overlooking the Dead Sea, the Ein Gedi shrine consists of a large mudbrick walled enclosure with a gatehouse. Across from the gatehouse is the main structure, a long narrow room entered through a doorway in the long wall. In the center of the room and on either side of the doorway are long narrow benches. Opposite the door is a semicircular structure on which a round stone pedestal stood, perhaps to support a sacred object. The contents of the shrine were hidden in the cave at Nahal Mishmar, perhaps during a time of emergency. The nature and purpose of the hoard remains a mystery, although the objects may have functioned in public ceremonies.

MILITARY ANTIQUITIES

William Roy’s ‘Military Antiquities of the Romans in North Britain’ (1793) Online

Jan 30, 2015

630

William Roy’s ‘Military Antiquities of the Romans in North Britain’ (1793) is a classic work on the military conquest of Scotland by the Romans.

Plan shewing the course of the Roman wall called Grime's Dyke? - from NLS website

One of the earliest detailed descriptions of Roman antiquities in Scotland, with 51 map plates and 174 pages of supporting text.

This website is a complete electronic facsimile of the original. Many newly-discovered Roman remains were recorded in the volume for the first time. As a record of early archaeology in Scotland and of related topographical information regarding Roman sites, it can never be entirely superseded.

Its author, William Roy, is better known for his work on the Military Survey of Scotland (1747-1755), and in founding what became the Ordnance Survey, but he was also a keen antiquarian and man of science, and this splendid volume is also a lasting monument to these interests.

http://maps.nls.uk/roy/antiquities/index.html

GOT 20?

Is this the oldest d20 on Earth?

57,985

Is this the oldest d20 on Earth?

Romans may have used 20-Sided die almost two millennia before D&D, but people in ancient Egypt were casting icosahedra even earlier. Pictured above is a twenty-faced die dating from somewhere between 304 and 30 B.C., a timespan also known as Egypt’s Ptolemaic Period.

According to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where the gamepiece is held, the die was once held in the collection of one Reverend Chauncey Murch, who acquired it between 1883 and 1906 while conducting missionary work in Egypt.

Got a 20-sided die that predates the Ptolemaic Period? Post about it in the comments.

[The Metropolitan Museum of Art]

Hat tip to Polter Dog!

THE MEDICINAL TATTOO

Absolutely fascinating. I mean the entire case, and the murder scenario, which I’ve followed for years now, but these recent discoveries about the tattoos, especially those. That really gives me a lot of ideas, both for gaming scenarios and spells and charms, etc., and for fictional stories.

 

Scan finds new tattoos on 5300-year-old Iceman

January 22, 2015
Examination. (Credit: ©South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology/Eurac/Samadelli/Staschitz)

Aaron Deter-Wolf for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online

A new study has used advanced imaging techniques to identify previously unknown tattoos on the ribcage of the 5300-year old man known as Ötzi, bringing his total number of tattoos to 61.

But first, some context

In September of 1991 hikers in the Ötzal Alps along the border of Austria and Italy happened upon the mummified corpse who became an archaeological celebrity. After Ötzi died at the hands of unknown attackers one late spring or early summer around 3500 BC, his body and belongings were left in a small gully where they were entombed beneath an alpine glacier. A combination of glacial meltwater and extreme cold resulted in natural mummification of his body.

Thanks to more than two decades of analysis, scientists arguably know more about Ötzi’s health and final days than those of any other ancient human. He died at around 45 years of age after being shot in the back with a stone-tipped arrow and bludgeoned. In the 12 hours preceding his death he climbed into the mountains from an Italian valley, and ate a last meal consisting of grains and ibex meat. Ötzi suffered a variety of ailments, including advanced gum disease, gallbladder stones, lyme disease, whipworms in his colon, and atherosclerosis. Researchers have sequenced Ötzi’s entire genome, identified a genetic predisposition to heart disease, and determined that he has 19 surviving male relatives in his genetic lineage. However, a new study shows the Iceman still has secrets left to reveal.

Now for the tattoo part

Ötzi was tattooed, and offers the earliest direct evidence that tattooing was practiced in Europe by at least the Chalcolithic period. However, until now it has been difficult to conclusively catalog all of his marks. Ötzi’s epidermis naturally darkened from prolonged exposure to sub-zero temperatures as he lay beneath the glacier, and as a result some of his tattoos became faint or invisible to the naked eye. Consequently previous studies have identified between 47 and 60 tattoos on the Iceman’s body.

For several decades scientists have recognized that advanced imaging techniques, and particularly the near-infrared spectral region, can be used to reveal faint or invisible tattoos on ancient mummified remains. These techniques are effective because the carbon that comprised most ancient tattoo ink absorbs certain wavelengths differently than the human epidermis. Therefore when mummified skin is illuminated using those wavelengths, carbon-based tattoos appears much darker than the surrounding untattooed skin.

The new examination of Ötzi by Marco Samadelli, Marcello Melis, Matteo Miccoli, Eduard Egarter Vigl, and Albert R. Zink consisted of non-invasive multispectral photographic imaging performed on the Iceman at his home in the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, Italy. The researchers first slightly thawed Ötzi’s body, which is ordinarily kept at 21.2 °F, in order to eliminate the ice layer from his skin. On reaching 29.2 °F, he was photographed from all sides using a modified 36 MP digital SLR camera outfitted with filters to capture images in ultraviolet, visible, and infrared wavelengths. These images were then processed using specially-designed software capable of distinguishing and analyzing seven wavelength bands for every recorded pixel. This method, which the authors call “7-Band Hypercolorimetric Multispectral Imaging,” allows for detection of color differences even in the non-visible spectral range.

Samadelli and colleagues were able to detect a previously unrecorded group of tattoos on Ötzi’s lower right rib cage. Those marks consist of four parallel lines between 20 and 25 mm long and are invisible to the naked eye. According to the authors, these make up “the first tattoo … detected on the Iceman’s frontal part of the torso.”

The researchers also created a complete catalog of Ötzi’s tattoos. These include 19 groups of tattooed lines, for a total of 61 marks ranging from 1 to 3 mm in thickness and 7 to 40 mm in length. With the exception of perpendicular crosses on the right knee and left ankle, and parallel lines around the left wrist, the tattooed lines all run parallel to one another and to the longitudinal axis of the body. The greatest concentration of markings is found on his legs, which together bear 12 groups of lines.

And no, they weren’t a tribute to his girlfriend

While the different combinations of lines in Ötzi’s tattoos may have held some underlying symbolic meaning, it appears that their function was primarily medicinal or therapeutic. Previous research has revealed that 80% of the Iceman’s tattoos correspond to classic Chinese acupuncture points used to treat rheumatism, while other tattoos are located along acupuncture meridians used to treat ailments such as back pain and abdominal disorders, from which Ötzi also suffered. In his 2012 book Spiritual Skin: Magical Tattoos and Scarification, anthropologist Dr. Lars Krutak documents an experiment in which Colin Dale of Skin & Bone Tattoo in Copenhagen determined that hand-poked tattoos applied to acupuncture points using a bone needle “could produce a sustained therapeutic effect,” successfully relieving ailments such as rheumatism, tinnitus, and headaches.

Samadelli and colleagues note that Ötzi’s newly-identified tattoos are not located above a joint, and suggest that this particular group of lines was therefore not related to the treatment of lower back pain or degenerative joint diseases. However, after reading the article Krutak was intrigued by the possibility that the new tattoos might be located on or near other classical acupuncture points or meridians, and if so “Perhaps these could be traced to Ötzi’s known pathological conditions, such as gallbladder stones, whipworms in his colon and atherosclerosis.”

Krutak consulted Gillian Powers (M.Ac., L.Ac.), a licensed acupuncturist in Washington, DC, who reported that acupuncture points near the newly-recorded tattoos “can be used to treat the symptoms associated with whipworms (abdominal pain, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea) and gallstones (abdominal pain, nausea/vomiting, etc.), as well as breathing issues.” Powers also noted that the location of the new tattoos is in close proximity to the gallbladder itself, and therefore could have additional effects on gallstone pain.

The new study was published online this week in the Journal of Cultural Heritage.

Aaron Deter-Wolf is a Prehistoric Archaeologist for the Tennessee Division of Archaeology and an adjunct professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Middle Tennessee State University, where he teaches the Anthropology of Tattooing. In 2013 he co-edited the volume Drawing with Great Needles: Ancient Tattoo Traditions of North America You can follow his research at http://tdoa.academia.edu/AaronDeterWolf.

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Read more at http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1113319184/scan-finds-new-tattoos-on-5300-year-old-iceman-012215/#i2td7wjDmPPE7UBa.99

 

HOW YA REALLY DO IT

APOLLO LETROS

Mon, Jan 19, 2015

Archaeologists Investigate Ancient Greek Temenos on Black Sea Island

Sozopol, Bulgaria—A team of archaeologists are discovering new finds on a tiny island just off the Black Sea coast near Sozopol, Bulgaria—finds that may shed additional light on the location and features of a lost temple to Apollo erected by Archaic Greeks in the late 6th century BCE.

Epigraphic sources document that a temple to Apollo was raised on an island near the ancient Greek colony of Apollonia Pontica, which is located near present-day Sozopol. But there has been no evidence to suggest where the temple was actually located—until recently, when an archaeological team under the direction of Kristina Panayotova of the National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, unearthed a fragment of East Greek pottery with an inscription dedication to Apollo.

The ancient temple was famous for another reason: It was here, in front of the temple, where a colossal 13-meter high bronze statue of Apollo was raised and dedicated to the Apollo letros (the Healer), the patron deity of Apollonia Pontica.

“In 72 BCE the Romans under Marcus Lucullus sacked the city and the colossal sculpture was taken to Rome as a trophy,” state Panatoyova and colleagues in a summery of their excavations project on the island. “It was exhibited for several centuries on the Capitoline Hill.”* It has been lost to the world since the advent of the Christian era, as has the exact location of the temple.

Panayotova’s teams have been conducting excavations at the site since 2009, and have thus far uncovered evidence of Greek settlement here going back as far as the 7th century BCE and a late 6th-early 5th century BCE Archaic Greek temple complex which may be the lost temple of Apollo. Other finds included remains of a temple from the 4th century BCE Hellenistic  period; an ancient Greek tholos; an ancient Greek copper foundry; an early Byzantine basilica and necropolis; two ritual pits from the Archaic period containing numerous artifacts; several early Christian 5th century CE graves; structures dated to the Archaic period; and many other finds.

Apollonia Pontica is considered among the earliest urban Greek settlements on the Western Black Sea coast. The city acquired its name in honor of its patron deity, Apollo, and was founded by the philosopher Anaximander and Miletian colonists around 610 BC., becoming an important center of trade between ancient Greece and Thrace. Strong, prosperous and independent for centuries, it was finally conquered by the Roman legions under Marcus Lucullus in 72 BCE. The city thereafter became known as Apollonia Magna, or Great Apollonia.  Its name was changed to Sozopol during the Christian period in the 4th century CE.

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apolloniapontica2Found at Apollonia Pontica, terracotta plaque frieze fragment artifact shows two hoplites. Marie Lan-Nguyen, Wikimedia Commons

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apolloniapontica3Found at Apollonia Pontica, a lot of 4 Greek silver coins. Wikimedia Commons

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Panayotova and colleagues plan to return to continue excavations at the site in 2015, and will be operating a field school for students and volunteers. “The Field School Season 2015 envisions excavations at the top of the island, in the area of the Archaic and Classical Greek and Hellenistic temples, Ancient Greek copper foundry and the Early Christian basilica and necropolis, where the excavations from 2012 take place,” state Panayotova and colleagues.*

More information about Apollonia Pontica and the field school can be obtained at the project website.

See the earlier news article published by Popular Archaeology in 2013.

ANCIENT NOW

This Ancient Pigment Could Soon Be Used to See Through Your Skin

This Ancient Pigment Could Soon Be Used to See Through Your Skin

Egyptian blue was one of the famous pigments of the ancient world. Not only was it a scientific achievement, it has become an important historical signifier because it only came from contact with Egypt. It’s now being used in advanced technology that see right through your skin.

Egyptian Blue in the Ancient World

This Ancient Pigment Could Soon Be Used to See Through Your Skin

What do you get when you toss calcium carbonate, copper-containing metal, and a lot of sand in a very hot fire? Probably nothing. That’s why it was so impressive that Egyptians were able to turn those ingredients into something thousands of years ago. The three ingredients together can form calcium copper silicate, or Egyptian blue pigment -but the process is arduous and exact. First of all, a flux is needed. A flux is an ingredient added to a firing process that lowers the melting point of the other ingredients. Potash or calcium carbonate are common fluxes. Even with the flux, the fire used to melt the substances has to get up to about 950 degrees celsius. That’s tough to make today, let alone 4,500 years ago.

Once the Egyptians started making the compound, it was enormously popular. Egyptian blue was a vivid pigment that resisted fading. It started appearing along trade-routes, spreading to other civilizations. These days, it’s used to determine whether an ancient civilization was in contact with Egypt, giving us an economic and political picture of the ancient world. It colored the classical world for over five thousand years, and didn’t lose popularity until the end of the first millennium AD.

Egyptian Blue in the Hospital

This Ancient Pigment Could Soon Be Used to See Through Your Skin

Egyptian blue, after a long spell of obscurity, may become very popular again. It has a special property. Hit it with visible red light, and it will give off infrared. It will give off infrared for a prolonged period of time. This is helpful if you’re an archaeologist and you want to determine what kind of pigment coated a statue a long time ago. Expose the statue, the painting, or anything else, to a concentrated beam of red light, then take a picture with a camera sensitive to infrared. While most of the art piece will be dark, anything painted with Egyptian blue will shine like animal eyes in the dark.

It’s even better if you’re a doctor. The frequency of infrared that Egyptian blue emits penetrates flesh more deeply than most other frequencies, without doing any damage. Incorporating Egyptian blue into medical technology will be a cheap way to scan a person’s body. It won’t take much Egyptian blue, either. Egyptian blue can be separated into sheets one thousandth the width of a human hair. How do get this advanced nanotechnology? Stirring the pigment gently in warm water for a few days. Which means that, it’s possible to get a very cheap, very accurate medical technology out of a five-thousand-year-old pigment, some water, and a spoon.

Images: Walters Art Museum

[Via The Spatially Resolved Characterisation of Egyptian Blue, Chemistry of Glass, Egyptian Blue: The Color of Technology, Egyptian Blue: The Oldest Known Artificial Pigment, The Exceptional Near-Infrared Luminescence Properties of Cuprorivaite.]

COMPACT OF THE BASILEGATE

This is the compact or agreement which is signed by every character who wishes to serve in the Basilegate. Of course the requirements to be chosen are rigorous (they were looser in the beginning but became more standardized and more selective over time) and one cannot just join, one must be both sponsored and invited since the very existence of the group is unknown to most people, including most high representatives of the government, military, and church. No one, even the Team Members themselves are absolutely certain who knows of their existence and who does not, and whereas many people know of the group’s existence as a Diplomatic Team, this is merely a cover for their far more secretive and covert activities.

There is no such Compact or agreement undertaken by members of other teams though the Hoshi has an oral agreement, the Oro does as well, and the Caerkara has a legal agreement but nothing really similar to the Compact, which details duties, careers, obligations, rewards, and future potential advancements.

 

Compact Of The Basilegate

By authority of the Emperor Nikephorus, Basileus of New Rome and the Roman Empire, it has been ordered that the Strategion, War Academy of Constantinople, create an official legation known as the Basilegate, the Imperial Legate, to be constituted in the year 805 Anno Domini.

This legation shall be charged with those official duties expressly demanded by Emperor Nicephorus and his representatives. These duties shall include, but are not limited to the following services; Work against the enemies of the empire, internal and external, the suppression of enemy raids and pirating activities, land and seas, the securing of lawless areas and the capture or elimination of criminals, action as official enquirers, action as emissaries and diplomats and as representatives of the Empire and King, and to render whatever other services are deemed fit and necessary by the Empire. That this legation shall swear allegiance to the Emperor and his servants and representatives and shall swear allegiance to the Church in order to serve the Empire as needed.

This legation shall by law and structure be attached to the Strategion and shall receive their orders from the War Academy and from those representatives of the Emperor placed in command of the legation.

The legation shall be initially equipped at Imperial expense, which shall provide arms and armor, and tack, tackle, and gear for their provision. All additional gear and equipment will be provided from War Franchise at reduced cost, as well as reduced cost for training and what additional supplies are as required for the execution of official duties. In addition such travel expenses as are accrued, either by land or by sea shall be compensated as long as those expenses are acquired by conduct of official assignment. Furthermore all additional expenses shall likewise be compensated, whether of travel or of board or equipment or supplies or of food and the legation shall be housed at imperial expense whenever they are stationed in Constantinople.

Whatever additional rewards accrue to the legation shall be theirs to keep and dispense with as they see fit, but the legation shall not be empowered to collect fees or levy taxes in the name of Empire, Emperor or Church. They shall not levy taxes or fees of any kind while executing official duties but may keep rewards and payments they receive for additional services in the name of the empire as long as such additional services do not detract from or conflict with their primary duties and services.

This legation shall travel and execute their duties with the full approval and official support of Empire and Church, but shall remain a secret legation, unknown to the general populace and civil and military authorities, with the exception of those individuals and authorities who need to be aware of the nature of the legation. The legation will travel as needed in disguise. The legation shall be free to act as necessary to execute their duties and are fully empowered to take whatever actions necessary to execute their duties as long as such actions do not imperil the sacred honor of Emperor, Empire or Christian sanctity.

In reward of six years of honorable service this legation and all of the individuals of this legation shall receive in compensation; farm lands of their own in Anatolia, severance pay upon termination, and their farm lands shall be free from annual land taxes, in perpetua. In addition if the members of this legation shall further continue their service beyond the term of their six years either as a renewed legate, or in order to train their successors, or to teach at War Academy or University then they shall also receive; a small estate built upon their granted farm lands, shall be empowered to levy taxes for the Imperial Theme which they inhabit, and shall be granted a seat with the Emperor in Constantinople during Communions performed on High Holy Days. The enumerations of this contract shall constitute the entirety of the duties and compensations respected by all members of this legation and their superiors and their Emperor.

End of Compact

ORICHALCUM? – THE RICHES YET DISCOVERED

This opens up a whole new and fascinating venue of ancient, historical, fictional, and even gaming metallurgy. And shipwreck, ruins, mining, production, and smithing sites that would produce such alloys and materials.

Divers Retrieve ‘Atlantis’ Metal Orichalcum from Ancient Shipwreck

By Rhodi Lee, Tech Times | January 10, 2:01 AM

Atlantis Map
Divers exploring an ancient shipwreck discovered 39 ingots believed to be made of the legendary metal orichalcum that Plato said was forged and used in the city of Atlantis.
(Photo : Athanasius Kircher)

atlantis-map

A group of divers who were exploring a 2,600 year-old shipwreck off the coast of Sicily discovered ingots believed to be made of orichalcum, a metal that the ancient Greek philosopher Plato wrote to have been forged in the legendary city of Atlantis.

The orichalcum, whose composition and origin remain widely debated, is said to have been invented by a mythological Greek-Phoenician alchemist named Cadmus and was considered very valuable in the ancient times it ranked next to gold.

In the fourth century B.C., Plato, one of the greatest geniuses of all time, mentioned the orichalcum in the Critias dialogue with his description of Atlantis being a realm that flashes with the red light of the mysterious metal.
He said that the orichalcum was mined there and that was used to cover the floors and structures of floors of Poseidon’s temple. Many experts today believe that the metal is a brass-like alloy produced in the ancient times using a process known as cementation.

Sebastiano Tusa, Sicily’s superintendent of the Sea Office, said that 39 ingots had been found by a team of divers who were exploring a shipwreck that dates back to the first half of the sixth century.

The sunken ship, which was found about 1,000 feet from the coast and at a depth of 10 feet, is believed to have likely been transporting cargo from either Greece or Asia Minor when it sank on its way to the port city of Gela in southern Sicily, probably during a storm.

Tusa hailed the finding as a unique discovery given that no similar object has yet been discovered before.

“Nothing similar has ever been found,” Tusa said. “We knew orichalcum from ancient texts and a few ornamental objects.”

An expert who conducted an analysis of the 39 ingots using X-ray fluorescence found that these were an alloy with up to 80 percent copper, up to 20 percent zinc and a small percentage of lead, iron and nickel.

Some experts however said that the newly found artifacts were not made from the orichalcum. Enrico Mattievich, who used to teach at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), is one of the scholars who do not think the metal has a brass-like nature.

Contrary to views of other experts, Mattievich claims that a metallic alloy characterized by fire-like reflections similar to the Plato’s description was found in metallic jaguars associated with the Chavín civilization that thrived in the Peruvian Andes from 1200 B.C. to 200 B.C and these were made of 9 percent copper, 15 percent silver and 76 percent gold.

 

THE UNKNOWN QUEEN

You know, stuff like this not only makes for great history, it makes for superb gaming material and excellent fictional materials. A party goes out to explore a set of ruins and stumbles across another set of ruins, or a tomb, totally unexpectedly, and discovers within it things far more valuable, and far more dangerous, than they had originally anticipated.

Tomb of Fifth Dynasty queen found in Egypt

Updated yesterday at 5:01pmSun 4 Jan 2015, 5:01pm

Czech archaeologists have unearthed the tomb of a previously unknown queen believed to have been the wife of Pharaoh Neferefre who ruled 4,500 years ago, officials in Egypt say.

The tomb was discovered in Abu Sir, an Old Kingdom necropolis south-west of Cairo where there were several pyramids dedicated to pharaohs of the Fifth Dynasty, including Neferefre.

The name of his wife was not known before the find, antiquities minister Mamdouh al-Damaty said in a statement.

He identified her as Khentakawess and said for the “first time we have discovered the name of this queen who had been unknown before the discovery of her tomb”.

That would make her Khentakawess III, as two previous queens with the same name have already been identified.

Her name and rank had been inscribed on the inner walls of the tomb, probably by the builders, Mr Damaty said.

“This discovery will help us shed light on certain unknown aspects of the Fifth Dynasty, which along with the Fourth Dynasty, witnessed the construction of the first pyramids,” he said.

Miroslav Barta, who heads the Czech Institute of Egyptology mission that made the discovery, said the tomb was found in Neferefre’s funeral complex.

“This makes us believe that the queen was his wife,” Mr Barta said.

An official at the antiquities ministry said the tomb dated from the middle of the Fifth Dynasty (2994-2345BC).

Archaeologists also found about 30 utensils – 24 made of limestone and four of copper – the statement said.

AFP

THE LADY OF ELCHE

I personally have no interest in the ancient astronaut or ancient alien theories and with attributing all of mankind’s accomplishments (historical or prehistorical) to some unknown source or to alien entities.

I am however greatly interested in evidence (and I think that there is an ample and rapidly accumulating body of evidence) that many previously little-known or unknown civilizations have existed in this world in the past, both in mostly historical ages and in prehistorical epochs.

I am also becoming ever more convinced that such civilizations were not mere isolated enclaves but probably engaged each other in vigorous trade exchanges via well-traveled oceanic exploration and  shipping routes.

Which in this case would explain the Hellenistic influences.

So this may very well be evidence of one such civilization or culture.


The mysterious Lady of Elche

The stunning yet mysterious Lady of Elche

In 1897, archaeologists uncovered a stunning artifact on a private estate at L’Alcúdia in Valencia, Spain. This find was a statue – a polychrome bust of a woman’s head. Believed to date back to the 4th Century BC, the bust features a woman wearing an elaborate headdress. Now seen as one of Spain’s most famous icons, the bust is known as the Lady of Elche.

It is said that a young boy of fourteen had overturned a stone when he came across the bust. The bust shows the woman’s head, neck and shoulders, and extends down to her chest. However, it is possible that the bust was originally part of a larger, full-body statue.

The complex headdress features two large coils known as “rodetes” on either side of the head and face. It is thought that this was a ceremonial headdress, and that the woman may be a priestess. The headdress runs across the forehead, with a pattern of raised marble-shaped bumps. Tassle-like pieces hang in front of the ears, and elaborate necklaces grace her chest. The woman’s face contains an expressionless gaze, and when it was found, contained traces of red, white, and blue decorative paint. The composition of the stone indicates that it was carved at L’Alcúdia.

The Dama de Elche bust

The Dama de Elche bust. Credit: Luis García (Creative Commons)

The origin of the sculpture is puzzling and has become a matter of heated debate. Some scholars suggest that the sculpture is Iberian, and may be associated with Tanit, the goddess of Carthage, while others have proposed the work reflects an Atlantean Goddess. The unusual features of the sculpture, such as the apparent elongated head and the spools on the side of the head, have also prompted numerous alternative theories to be proposed. For example, according to some independent researchers, the spools are not part of a unique headdress, but are in fact a type of technological headgear that reflects the highly advanced nature of the supposed Atlantis civilization.

Dama de Elche bust

Some independent researchers have argued that the woman’s head is elongated and the spools reflect a type of technological headgear.

 There are others who argue that the statue doesn’t deserve the attention it receives because it is, in fact, a forgery. Art historian John F. Moffitt argues that the shape of the lady’s eyes and nose are “too delicate to have been carved in pre-Christian Spain.” This argument has been dismissed by many other scholars, who view the bust as a great accomplishment of the early Iberian civilization.

Painting based on the Lady of Elche

Painting based on the Lady of Elche, ‘Jepthah’s Daughter’. James Tissot. (Public Domain)

In 1997, the Mayor of Elche fought to have the bust of the Lady of Elche returned from the National Archaeological Museum of Spain in Madrid to the city of Elche, to be on display during celebrations of the city’s 2000th year. It was to be a special exhibit, but the petition to have the bust returned was denied. The government commission that denied the request asserted that the bust was too fragile to survive the 250-mile journey from Madrid to Elche. However, others believe that this denial was based upon political motivations. The director of Elche’s archaeology museum, Rafael Ramos argued that it was “preposterous” to say that the statute could not survive the journey, noting that more delicate pieces are transported around the world regularly. His belief is that those in Madrid worry that Elche would not want to return the statue, and that many other cultural relics would be removed from Madrid if the Lady of Elche bust were allowed to be transported. This has created many issues of pride on both a local and regional level. To those in the area, a cultural relic of Elche belongs in Elche.

The disputes and theories regarding the Lady of Elche illustrate the cultural importance of the bust. As a famous ancient icon of Spain, the bust represents Spain’s cultural past. Every Spanish schoolchild learns about the bust and the stories behind the priestess. While the disputes and theories about the bust may continue indefinitely, it is likely hoped by all that the bust will remain safely preserved as a culturally significant symbol of ancient history.

– See more at: http://www.ancient-origins.net/artifacts-other-artifacts/stunning-yet-mysterious-lady-elche-002305#sthash.lLdmNy7o.dpuf

WESTERN MAN and THE DRAGON BLADE

There is very little “historical” about this film. And they have obviously Chinese-filmed up and heavily stylized (and cheapened) the armor and many of the weapons. Meaning even less historicity.

Nevertheless, when I was in college one of the first plays I ever wrote was called Western Man. It was about a Greek Christian who had served his enlistment in the Roman Army in North Africa and Syria and decided to travel East along the Silk Road with some of his fellow Greeks as a merchant and wanderer. Eventually he ends up in Western China and settles and marries there, where, because of invasion (being a Christian he hopes the latter part of his life will be peaceful and almost monastic) he must train the surrounding village in Roman fighting tactics at the same time many of them wish to learn about Christianity.

In the resulting warfare his wife his killed and he decides to return West with his infant son, only to make it as far as Samarkand where he ends up becoming the chief merchant and wealthiest man in the city (shy of the rulers).

For that reason alone I am intrigued by the premise of this film and wonder if the film might actually have a shot at being good. I’d like to think it possible anyway.

The Trailer for Dragon Blade, Starring Jackie Chan and John Cusack

December 26, 2014

Dragon Blade

Although the Chinese production is not yet set for an official release domestically, the historical epic Dragon Blade will open on February 18, 2015 in China in regular, 3D and IMAX 3D theaters. The film has now debuted a first trailer, via Check Magazine, and you can check it out for yourself in the player below!

Directed by Daniel Lee (14 Blade, Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon), Dragon Blade stars Jackie Chan (Rush Hour, 1911), John Cusack (Being John Malkovich, High Fidelity), Adrien Brody (The Darjeeling Limited, Splice), Peng Lin (Little Big Soldier, The Viral Factor), Si Won Choi (“Athena: Goddess of War,” “Extravagant Challenge”) and Sharni Vinson (You’re Next, Bait). Chan also produces Dragon Blade alongside Susanna Tsang.

Set in China during the Han dynasty (206-220 AD), Dragon Blade follows Huo An (Chan), an official framed and enslaved for a crime he didn’t commit. Soon thereafter, however, he meets Roman soldier in Cusack’s Lucius and the pair begin to form an unlikely alliance.

We’ve also updated our Dragon Blade gallery with quite a few stills from the new film and with character posters featuring Chan, Brody, Cusack and many more. Check them all out in the gallery viewer at the bottom of this page.

 

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