Musings

__ on the past

I’ve been mapping the distribution of Bronze Age mounds in modern central Turkey, and thinking about the (human) population density, and the agriculture and distribution system it took to feed those people. This is the era of the Hittites (not what they called themselves). I’ve been vastly ignorant of Hittite history, which perhaps is just as well, as there have been several breakthroughs in recent research that has changed our ideas about their political economy to some extent.

See this magnolia? It’s actually two adjacent trees on the bank of a former railroad ROW (to the right). Now the ROW is the BeltLine, a pedestrian and bicycle corridor, with landscaping by Trees Atlanta. To the left is a shopping center with a Whole Foods and a Staples (guess which one gets more traffic 🤣). Delivery trucks are the most common traffic along this route behind the stores (and us when the “front” is clogged).

Here’s a ca. 1950 photo from Georgia State’s archives of the Ponce de Leon Ballpark. The info that follows is from 2020 article by Adam C. Johnson (here). In 1890, there was a lake where the field is, and the magnolia was already there. The ballfield was first built in 1907. The photo shows the version built in 1923. If you were sitting behind home plate, you were looking straight at the magnolias. Johnson writes:

If a baseball hit the magnolia tree and bounced back into the field, then the ball was in play because, per the rules, it had to pass through or remain in the tree to be a home run. To this day, the Spiller Magnolia Tree is the only tree in baseball that has been in play, and [Babe] Ruth and Eddie Matthews are the only confirmed players to have hit home runs into it.

Recently, Trees Atlanta has cloned the magnolias, and planted the new trees along the BeltLine.

End of baseball trivia.

BTW, that big building to the far right facing the ballfield was a huge multi-story Sears that had a side track from the RR for deliveries. The building recently was redeveloped and is now Ponce City Market.

I’m “fine”

Lamp base verdigris

Metal that degrades with this green color must have copper in it…not all copper, just some. It’s called verdigris. It was a scaly, peeling kinda day, and I’m “still processing,” as the phrase goes.

Quite a day

With our fine cuppsa-joe in hand, we strolled across the Fox River bridge rather early in the morn, meeting these googly-eyed statues of two of the four fox-sons of Papa Charlemagne. The St. Charles (Illinois) Chamber of Commerce website tells the story of Charlemagne’s command to his offspring to take care of the EuroAmerican settlers of the valley. I find it a fanciful and strange tale.

Upriver a short way, we came across this statue, also with rather paternalistic words, although I rather liked the figure’s presence.

We continued up the riverwalk to the older train trestle (green), now with a walking bridge nestled alongside (brown). Our friends said long ago when they were children, the daring among them might cross on the trestle…this was long before the river was cleaned up and the walking trails developed. And condos built and development and resurgence…and gee, it’s great someone spent tax dollars to clean up the river….

In the afternoon, we attended a fine party and BBQ, and still later, we caught the smoke-altered sunset en route to our overnight location in Wisconsin. A great time was had by all.

When o when

I was reading about Chaco Canyon prehistory today and got to thinking: when was it we were there? Turns out: almost exactly a decade ago. Here’s a very large kiva, not sure where.

Pretty sure these are some of the rooms back against the cliff at Chetro Ketl. When were these places in use? About a thousand years ago. And still amazing.

These are scanned slide images (thank you, Guru). A different modern time, too.

Oh, geeze

Orchid open

I’m still parsing an article* in the NYTimes about the pieces of the kylix that curators at the Met began collecting in the 70s. Over the years the Met obtained pieces from multiple art dealers.

A kylix is a kind of stemmed drinking cup. This one is made of terra cotta and thirteen inches in diameter. It has a nice decoration of a man and woman partying in a circular panel on the interior. The exterior has a band of multiple male figures, described as older fellows chasing younger guys.

The last fragment of the kylix arrived at the Met in 1994, and the restored vessel was on display until last fall, when the Manhattan DA’s office seized it as a looted item.

As near as I can tell, the prevailing opinion is that the vessel was intentionally broken, and the pieces essentially funneled to the Met’s purchasers and curators. This is not the only vessel in the Met’s collection that may have received this treatment.

Remember: to archaeologists pottery contributes to a complex story, while to art historians pottery has aesthetic, and, yes, monetary value—even broken, when an intact vessel would be worth more, the pieces have monetary value.

* The article is “The Kylix Marvel: Why Experts Distrust the Story of an Ancient Cup’s Rebirth,” dated today, by Graham Bowley and Tom Mashberg.

This is the way

We headed toward mountains, not difficult to do. Note plenty of snow.

We crossed the Río Grande. Note plenty of water aka snow melt.

We stopped at an overlook to see the canyon of the Rito de los Frijoles, aka Bandelier National Monument,

The main community on the flats is Tyuonyi, extensively excavated between 1909 and 1912, including 242 rooms. I cringe at the thought of the data that was destroyed and discarded. These walls are reconstructions.

This is Long House, which extends along the base of this wall for quite some distance. In some places the rooms were three deep. The rows of holes were the sockets for roof beams, called visas.

If you look very closely on the slope above the model, you will see walkways, stairs, and ladders that reach the big cave, aka Alcove House, just to the right of center and far above the model’s left shoulder.

This view makes the “trail” look more vertiginous than it is. If you visit, remember that ladders are easier to go up than to descend, IMHO.

The view from Alcove House. I was so lucky to be there by myself for about five minutes.

Back on the return trail along the creek, note the good flow of water and the logjam. We counted at least five big logjams, and all new foot bridges across the creek. The rangers were too busy for me to ask when the storm was that brought down the many trees and washed them downstream.

On the way back, we stopped at the Tesuque Village Market, which is indeed a market, but also a restaurant and bakery. We indulged in their key lime pie…lovely, just the right tartness.

We returned to Santa Fé on the Old Spanish Trail, which is winding and scenic. I find these fences particularly picturesque.

Fog to sunshine

We exited the city in fog and continued in fog into the country. Hazelnut tree orchard to the left.

Oh, look what we spotted! Mystery how it got there….

The last snow we drove by en route to the coast.

Where we found the tide was out.

We met up with our friends who took us to a special place with woods roads and trees and even elk droppings and a soaring eagle and an eagle on a nest.

Old growth stump being re-inhabited by the forest.

Forest floor trillium.

Four trunks on this special tree.

Old Bell System phone for making calls to dearly departed ones.

Fabulous backlighting on the tree-moss.

The tide is even farther out…leaving evidence of an ex-bridge.

Active bridge.

All about scale

I went down a deep rabbit hole for most of the afternoon in locating Pottery Neolithic archaeological sites on the southern Sinai peninsula. Archaeological sites can be notoriously difficult to locate (or not), so that’s not surprising…in general. Fieldwork on several of the sites was decades ago, then repeatedly mentioned in later articles and comparative reports, so you’d think the locations would be…not so mysterious. Not.

In the process of this “digging” (forgive me), I came across Saint Catherine’s Monastery. Before the monastery and Saint Catherine, this is where, some say, Moses saw the/a burning bush. Of course, digging deeper, there are several proposed locations for the Moses/burning bush event.

Now, the Catherine is Catherine of Alexandria, who had the misfortune to be born before Romans accepted Christianity but in their territory, and, not surprisingly, she was tortured for her faith. She died about AD 30, or so the story goes. Although she seems to have remained in the Alexandria area (western Nile delta), somehow the Sinai location perhaps 600 km to the SE had Saint Catherine relics, as, they say, her body was found in a nearby cave. Wow; lots to swallow there.

Look how much I learned without ever finding the exact location of Ujrat el-Mehed (the PN site), although I did figure out the general area. Heh. And in the process found (on GooEarth) the ruins of Gebel Abbas Basha, dating to, as I recall, the late 1700s.

See: rabbit hole. Or, perhaps more truthfully, a whole darned burrow complex.

Ah, well

I did this and that today, and in between read a few pages of “The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books,” by Edward Wilson-Lee (2018). It’s about the library that the second son of Christopher Columbus amassed, larded with detailed stories about the father, of course. I kept having to check on Wikipedia pages to get more context than Wilson-Lee offered. I was especially curious about the geography of central-northern Spain, which wasn’t Spain then. And map pages do load slowly here in the hinterlands.