Heritage: October 2004 Archives

October 25, 2004

Dead witch found

Russia: An unusual burial will keep Russian archæologists busy for some time. The grave discovered in the Crimea appears to be that of a woman aged about 40 who was an upper-class magic-user.

9 bronze rings, the same number of bells (perhaps, this particular number had been considered sacred at the time), a whole array of different amulets, beads-all of the items have been unearthed by the archaeologists. The witch must have dug out those accessories from ancient burials in order to intensify her magic powers. The reason the scientists are inclined to believe this is so, has to do with the fact that all the relics date back to a much earlier period than the woman's corpse.

Mind-boggling find in Crimea - Pravda, 22nd October 2004.

October 19, 2004

Raiders Got It Wrong

United Kingdom: If you thought the Ark of the Covenant was buried deep in some anonymous warehouse in Washington DC, you're wrong. It's actually in a basement of the British Museum.

On a shelf in a locked basement room underneath the British Museum, are kept 11 wooden tablets; they are covered in purple velvet. And no one among the museum's staff — including Neil MacGregor, the director — is permitted to enter the room.

The tablets — or tabots — are sacred objects in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the most important of the 500 or so priceless Magdala treasures, looted by Britain from Ethiopia in 1868 and now held in this country. For almost two decades, the only people allowed access have been Ethiopian church clergy; it is considered sacrilegious for anyone else to see them.

Amid growing calls for the return of the treasures, the British Museum has moved them from an anonymous storage site to its Bloomsbury main building and announced that it is considering loaning them to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in London on what would be a permanent basis. They are regarded as representing the original Ark of the Covenant, which housed the Ten Commandments and the Orthodox Church has been lobbying for their return — or at least easy access to them — for more than 50 years.

October 9, 2004

Ancient monument vandalised

England: Birkrigg stone circle near Ulverston has been vandalised for the second time in a year. This time, the neds responsible made a crude and unconvincing attempt to make it look like the work of environmentalist protestors.

One of the standing stones of a Bronze Age stone circle has been daubed with red paint.

Last November four of the 12 stones which form an inner circle on the common were covered in paint.

One bore the cryptic message, Stop the Gene War, in black paint.

Paint had also been spattered on the grass, where a fire had also been lit.

VANDALS STRIKE AGAIN AT BIRKRIGG STONE CIRCLE - North West Evening Mail, 29th September 2004.

October 2, 2004

Star (of David) Wars

The San Diego Jewish Journal has a long article about the influence of Judaism on science fiction. It looks at both the pioneering work of Jewish authors, both religious and secular, and the influence of Jewish mythology

From a science-fictional perspective, the most influential Judaic legend is The Golem of Prague, which concerns a rabbi who creates a creature out of clay to protect the Jewish people. Although there are different endings to the tale, in the most popular version he loses control of his monster and must destroy it. The spiritual forbearer of such well-known fables as Frankenstein and familiar characters like the Terminator and the HAL 9000 computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey, the Golem has become a powerful trope embodying both cautionary and idealistic outlooks – two notions that are invaluable to successful science-fiction storytelling. For many genre authors, particularly those steeped in Jewish folklore, the story remains a rich ideological source.

Ultimately, they regard the Jewish influence as responsible for the fundamentally optimistic nature of the genre: that the world will be a better place, and people will not have destroyed themselves.

Stars of David - San Diego Jewish Journal, October 2004 (via Locus).

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries in the Heritage category from October 2004.

Heritage: August 2004 is the previous archive.

Heritage: December 2004 is the next archive.

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