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Showing posts from August, 2015

The Birth of Archaeology in Bahrain

It was a cool winter morning in 1878 when a young British officer by the name of Edward Law Durand (5 June 1845 - 1 July 1920) swept ashore onto the island of Muharraq in Bahrain. Sent by the British Political Residency to conduct an archaeological survey (funded by the British Museum) of the island, his report of the burial mounds was the first archaeological study conducted in the country and in the Gulf since the time of Alexander (or Rome even).

It was on this occasion that he thus became the first European writer to comment on the Bronze Age burial-mounds there, and had the fortune to discover a cuneiform inscription (named the Durand Stone) which he brought back to his family home in Scotland but which was later moved to London where it is believed to have been destroyed during the Blitz.

Durand's Stone is important as it contained Old Babylonian inscriptions. Only when translated by Sir Henry Rawlinson (the forefront scholar in Mesopotamian affairs) did its content beco…

Why do we smile in photos?

Ever noticed how no matter when or where a photograph was taken in the 19th century, it was incredibly rare to come across a single smile. Surely they can't have been that gloomy back in the day (must've been all that evil smallpox and what not) , right?

Except for that smiling guy in the other post.

But hey, let's figure out WHY our long-gone 19th century colleagues seem to be so cranky. This is by no means a complete list but rather the logical assumptions.

1. Primitive cameras with long exposure timesWhereas we live in an age where we capture that split fraction of a second in time and send it to our colleagues on Snapchat or Twitter (or God-forbid MySpace), our deceased colleagues weren't as fortunate. Cameras were sturdy things, they had incredibly long exposure times often requiring people to stay rather still for several minutes or else the photograph would blur out. In case you haven't tried it, smiling for several minutes whilst remaining still (like you wou…

The Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf, Oman and Central Arabia

The Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf, Oman and Central Arabia (nicknamed Lorimer) [2] is a two-volume encyclopedia compiled by John Gordon Lorimer. Published in secrecy by the British Raj government in 1908 and 1915, it served as a handbook for British diplomats in the Arabian Peninsula and Persia.[1]  
Declassified in 1955 under the fifty-year rule, it was widely praised for its extensive details of the region's history and geography.[2] It is considered to be "the most important single source of historical material on the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia" from the 17th to early 20th century.
At the turn of the 20th century, the British empire sought to solidify its links to British-controlled India which in turn resulted in a greater interest in the Persian Gulf region, culminating in the visit of the Viceroy of India Lord Curzon to the Gulf in 1903. [1] To ensure that British agents in the region were adequately informed and prepared to strengthen their influence in th…