We updated the project page of the Stone-Cone building and added the final video. It shows the complete construction and reconstruction of the Stone-Cone building, from its complex foundation design to reflections about its inner installations. The video was made for a conference talk, so there is no sound, labels or explanations. Go and check it out!

    Since the Arab Revolution started in December 2010, several countries in the Near East and North Africa have either forced their leaders to give up their power, protested against them or are still in conflict. Naturally, the archaeological work in these countries came to a stop during that time. In the case of Egypt, excavations are already continuing and although it is not clear, in which direction the newly elected president will lead the country, the political situation seems pretty stable at the moment. With Syria it is totally different. The uprisings of 2011 have grown into a civil war between the old regime and the opposition and at the moment there is no end in sight. The number of casualties is rising every week and the degree of destruction has already become unbearable.

    Over 120 archaeological teams had to stop their work in Syria and it is not yet predictable when they will be able to return. As we have seen in the case of Iraq, it may not be possible for archaeologists to continue their work for a long time. Here, only since 2009 some solitary projects have started to excavate again. Instead, many projects shift their orientation to the work they can do from home: process the excavation data and publish the results. This might work well for terminated excavation trenches or completely recorded findings. It is another case for work that just started and was hoped to be continued and completed in one of the following seasons.

    Stratigraphy for example is much easier understood in the field than from the plans and if a situation is unclear, the archaeologist can recheck it instantly. From the documentation material alone, the comprehension of a complicated situation can be quiet a challenge. In one of our recent projects we figured out, in which way a simple 3D-model can help to understand stratigraphic connections, architectural sequences and general relations between trenches. The archaeological excavation team of Mari under the direction of Prof. Pascal Butterlin assigned us with the creation of a 3D-model of the excavation trench V1 to help to understand the complex stratigraphic relations. Additionally, the team wanted to have a simple tool to easily present their results to a wider audience. Therefore, we converted the 3D-model into a Google SketchUp model to make the data as user-friendly as possible for the team to work with.

    The archaeological work in Syria (and the whole Near East for that matter) is of major importance and although it is not possible to excavate at the moment archaeologists have to continue the work. The work we can do from home is a good and important step to maintain the research and the interest in these countries. In the case of Iraq or Egypt we slowly can continue the work and as I understand it, the cooperation between foreign and local archaeologists is still welcome. We can only hope that the situation in the other countries will resolve peacefully soon, primarily for the sake of the people living there and also for the cultural heritage they are preserving.

    Image: © Sebastian Hageneuer

      I just found out that a few unique screen prints of these wonderful Gilgamesh illustrations by artist Franziska Leischker are still available for purchase. The illustrations show key scenes from the Ancient Near Eastern epic of Gilgamesh and were originally created by Franziska for the Gilgamesh exhibition in the August Kestner Museum that we wrote about here and here.
      The motifs are:
      1) The Ziggurat of Uruk; 2) Enkidu, the savage; 3) Enkidu and Shamhat; 4) In Humbaba’s forest; 5) Gilgamesh and Enkidu fight Ishtar’s Bull; 6) Gilgamesh at Enkidu’s deathbed; 7) Siduri’s tavern at the world’s end; 8) The Babylonian Noah; 9) Gilgamesh fetching the Herb of Immortality.
      For purchase and details contact Franziska Leischker directly!

      Credits: All images © Franziska Leischker

        The exhibition in the Martin-Gropius-Bau Berlin shows a collection of over four hundred vintage photographs taken by Dennis Hopper, the famous artist, director and actor. The photos were taken in the sixties and show the spirit of that era, portraying many iconic persons like Andy Warhol, Paul Newman and Martin Luther King.

        The rather small exhibition displayed all photographs behind flat glass cabinets on the wall. The originals were of excellent quality and comfortably visible throughout the exhibition. The motifs were most compelling and show the sixties through the eyes of the famous actor. After the death of Dennis Hopper, the forgotten photographs were rediscovered in five boxes. Hopper selected them himself before his death for his first big exhibition.

        I enjoyed the exhibition very much and was positively surprised by the wonderful pictures, because I was not aware that Dennis Hopper was a photographer. What I liked the most were the motifs of the “hippie movement” (to which Hopper counted himself) as well as the series of bikers, which reminded of the film “Easy Rider”. The photographs offer a unique insight into that time. Even though there were about 400 photographs on display, the exhibition was quite small and I would have wished for two or three more rooms.

        Nevertheless, I would definitely recommend this exhibition, it is worth having a look!

        Image: © Sebastian Hageneuer

          Today a friend of mine led me to a new feature of GoogleMaps. If you feel like taking a walk through the halls of the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, you can explore the museum at Google Maps! Enjoy an undisturbed visit and take as much time as you want to take a look at the Ishtar Gate or the grave of Assurnasirpal. There are other museums to explore too, so give it a try, also: thanks to Stephan!

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