Musings

Twists and Turns of Life (Or, A Labyrinth in Iceland), Part 1: Trolls, Christianity, and “Excrement Bay”

My mild fascination with labyrinths was revealed in an Ancient Dan post a few years ago, triggered by my literally stumbling upon a carved representation of one at ancient Knidos in Turkey. A recent trip to Iceland provided a chance to investigate the most remote labyrinth of Europe in a more planned and systematic manner. My circuitous trek to arrive at it was unexpectedly matched by the maze of background info on the site, legends in the region, questions about the form of the labyrinth itself, and—ultimately—how we deal with changes of direction and uncertainties of life.

Rolling the Dice in Uncertain Times

As I write, lead news stories are no longer about the growing severity of the COVID-19 Pandemic, but rather debates about “reopening” the economy. In the US, different states have taken varying approaches, with protests, demonstrations, pleas, and public service announcements against all of them. Media outlets frequently refer to easing of restrictions where infection rates have not declined as a “gamble” or even “rolling the dice.”

Seeking Answers to an Unknown Future in the Distant Past

One of the mixed blessings of being human is the ability to formulate thoughts and make strategic decisions in response to circumstances rather than just react in an innate way. The “curse” aspect of this trait is the frustration of not knowing the future. We realize—often too late—that our plans may be thwarted by unforeseen … Continue reading Seeking Answers to an Unknown Future in the Distant Past

Life, B.C. (Before Charmin): Toilet Practices in the Roman World (Or “How I Learned to Love the COVID-19 Toilet Paper Crisis”)

In these extraordinary times, it is hard to know where the world is going. But, as the children’s book title proclaims, Everyone Poops, so the world has to go somewhere. Apparently, this is innate knowledge to judge from the panic buying and hoarding of toilet paper (or “rolls” for the UK audience). But (pun possibly … Continue reading Life, B.C. (Before Charmin): Toilet Practices in the Roman World (Or “How I Learned to Love the COVID-19 Toilet Paper Crisis”)

The Influence of the Memory of Romans who Died while Traveling: the Maison Carrée

I have always been fascinated by monuments or memorials to the deceased and the psychology behind them, as well as the physical structures themselves. This post initiates an occasional series on monuments to long-dead Romans and other figures of antiquity by looking at the Şekerhane Köşkü; very likely the platform for a temple of the Deified Emperor Trajan . . .

A Man Named Doris

NOTE: I am re-posting this to social media for Black History Month; inspired in large part by readings for the World War II course I am taking this term. The first sentence is obviously now out of date, but the story deserves continued notice. Today—12 October 2019 (as I write this)—would be the 100th birthday … Continue reading A Man Named Doris

An August Mausoleum or August?

The first Emperor of Rome, Caesar Augustus, died on this day, 19 August, AD 14.[1] Occasioned by the 2005th anniversary of that event, this post is a brief follow-up to “Monuments to Dead Romans: The Şekerhane Köşkü,” featuring a probable Temple to the Deified Emperor Trajan (d. AD 117). Since that entry (first in a … Continue reading An August Mausoleum or August?

Trump’s Ultima Thule (and some seemingly unrelated Pics of the Day)

Most of my posts result from a combination of visits I have made to odd places, some latent interest sparked by a random input, and bizarre current events. This is one of those posts. The stimuli, respectively, were a recent visit to the Orkney Islands, my 26 July A.Word.A.Day (AWAD) email featuring ultima Thule, and … Continue reading Trump’s Ultima Thule (and some seemingly unrelated Pics of the Day)

Monuments to Dead Romans: The Şekerhane Köşkü (Pic Of The Day, 2019-08-08)

I have always been fascinated by monuments or memorials to the deceased and the psychology behind them, as well as the physical structures themselves. This post initiates an occasional series on monuments to long-dead Romans and other figures of antiquity by looking at the Şekerhane Köşkü; very likely the platform for a temple of the Deified Emperor Trajan . . .

Lystra: Human Nature on Display (Pic Of The Day, 12 May 2019)

A follow-up to my previous Pic of The (special) Day post is in order. Last week, I held forth on the “Genesis of the Accepting Church” using the Apostle Paul’s first visit to the city Antioch of Pisidia, as narrated by Acts 13. This was occasioned by my use of the passage for a special … Continue reading Lystra: Human Nature on Display (Pic Of The Day, 12 May 2019)

Pics of St. Patrick’s Day: How the Irish Saved Civility*

Mrs. Ancient Dan had always wanted to visit Ireland, mainly because her dad had related accounts of his Irish ancestry. I was raised with a Protestant British distaste for the Irish, but with a suppressed knowledge of some Irish blood (revealed by the scattered red hairs visible when I allow my beard to grow). But … Continue reading Pics of St. Patrick’s Day: How the Irish Saved Civility*

The Road Between Jerusalem and Jericho and the Road Between Discrimination and Acceptance (Pic Of The Day, 2019-03-10)

I was asked to give the “spoken reflection” at tonight’s Celtic Worship Service at University Baptist Church, and thought I would post my reflection here with a couple of pics. The focal passage is the famous “Good Samaritan” story in Luke 10, which I find very thought-provoking in light of the increased divisiveness and media … Continue reading The Road Between Jerusalem and Jericho and the Road Between Discrimination and Acceptance (Pic Of The Day, 2019-03-10)

Pic of the Day (2019-03-03): Dry Dry Desert 2, the Sun Temple of Niuserre

Exactly two months after my first blog complaint about this unbelievably wet winter, rain continues to fall and much of the USA is experiencing a renewed cold snap. Thus I am moved to wistfully feature another drier and warmer place: the 4500 year-old Sun Temple of Niuserr­ē in Egypt. Abu Ghurob: Sun Temple of Niuserrē, … Continue reading Pic of the Day (2019-03-03): Dry Dry Desert 2, the Sun Temple of Niuserre

Pic of the Day (2019-02-28): Fading Winter, Receding Ice, and Lost Sleep

Here in South Mississippi it appears that Winter has largely ceded the environment to an early Spring, but with emphasis on precipitation. There does seem to be a LOT of water available up in the atmosphere. Those observations are my excuse to post this POTD of a receding glacier. Sadly, that is the current state … Continue reading Pic of the Day (2019-02-28): Fading Winter, Receding Ice, and Lost Sleep

Pic of the Day (2019-02-20 & 2021-07-15): The Rachel

To round out my “shipwrecks” POTD posts—of which this may be last, because I think I have run out of shipwrecks—I give you “The Rachel.” UPDATE (15 July 2021): another shipwreck post has recently been added here; plus there is an addition to this post at the end. After Hurricane Camille in 1969, a mysterious … Continue reading Pic of the Day (2019-02-20 & 2021-07-15): The Rachel

The Fate of Rome (and Russian Trolls): A Very, Very Short Book Review

One of most respected thinkers of his time and easily categorized among the “best people,” he became a chief advisor to the most powerful man in the world. But the inner circle of that man—who rose to his position of rule against all expectation— was a world of unpredictable chaos and eventually Fear.

Pic of the Day (2019-02-05): Δημήτριος (Dimitrios); the Shipwreck of State, 2

My previous “Shipwreck of State” post bemoaned the chaos and unrest in Venezuela by featuring Aruba shipwrecks and Plato’s use of the Ship of State analogy to comment on proper leadership for democracies (Republic 6. 488a–489d). This got me nostalgic about shipwrecks I have known and resulted in the this brief follow up Pic Of … Continue reading Pic of the Day (2019-02-05): Δημήτριος (Dimitrios); the Shipwreck of State, 2

Pic of the Day 2019-02-03: Stadiums with a Past

I am pretty unexcited about this evening’s “big game” between the bandwagon team of dubious integrity and the other guys that rammed their way in via an egregious no-call. Perhaps you, dear reader, need a diversion from the endless-but-not-timeless hype of the afternoon. This week, the question came up in conversation (I don’t even remember … Continue reading Pic of the Day 2019-02-03: Stadiums with a Past

The Talking Heads of Rapa Nui: Take Me to the River . . .

But there is no river on Rapa Nui. Indeed, Easter Island has no perennial watercourse of any kind. Perhaps there were streams prior to deforestation but, by any estimation, water resources were and are a major issue for inhabitants of this small remote island with irregular rainfall. That and other environmental limitations make the erection … Continue reading The Talking Heads of Rapa Nui: Take Me to the River . . .

Pic of the Day: The Massacre of the Innocents (28 December 2018)

In Western Christian traditions 28 December commemorates the Massacre of the Innocents. In other words, it remembers the killing of the male children under 2 years of age in Bethlehem by Herod the Great in his attempt to eliminate the recently born Messiah/Christ (Matt 2:1-18). The location of the Magi’s audience with Herod is not … Continue reading Pic of the Day: The Massacre of the Innocents (28 December 2018)

The Winter Solstice and Christmas, Or: How I Stopped Worrying [about How to Express Christmas Greetings] and Love the Season*

Continuing and concluding my series on the Winter Solstice, we now turn to the question of its relation to the date for Christmas. The moment of the Winter Solstice generally occurs on 20-21 December in our current Gregorian Calendar. With Christmas set at 25 December, the relation between the two would appear merely coincidental. But … Continue reading The Winter Solstice and Christmas, Or: How I Stopped Worrying [about How to Express Christmas Greetings] and Love the Season*

Pic of the Day 2018-10-03: Sela and “The Rock”

A brief mention of “wondrous” landscapes in my graduate Geography seminar last night and tonight's episode of a daring Bible study series at University Baptist Church have inspired me to return to my recently neglected blog with this Pic of the Day (actually several pics) installment; which also clearly rates cross-listing as a You Don't … Continue reading Pic of the Day 2018-10-03: Sela and “The Rock”

The Lost Derelict Aircraft

It was 9 July 2004, during a family vacation to Hawai‘i. Earlier in the day we had climbed Diamond Head, the extinct volcano overlooking Waikiki Beach, and explored some World War II bunkers. Then we decided to go as far as possible around the North Shore of Oahu. No one else was around as we reached the end of the paved road at Mokule'ia Beach. Not far beyond, we topped a small rise and were shocked to see debris from an apparent plane crash—and no small plane; it was a major wide-body commercial jet!

Derelict Aircraft I have Known, number Zero

My piece on a derelict Soviet MiG 17 jet fighter aircraft in Texas was something of a departure from the usual Ancient Dan fare, to be sure. To continue that theme as a series of occasional posts will permit me to do several things: 1) indulge my interest in old historical aircraft; 2) share a … Continue reading Derelict Aircraft I have Known, number Zero

Adada

With the conflict between Turkey and POTUS in the news this week, I felt prompted to feature an unusual and unappreciated site in the former, long on my list of potential “You Don't Get This on the Bus Tour” and/or “Pic of the Day” posts. Adada (lat/long = 37.572972, 30.984000): the city has an unusual … Continue reading Adada

A Relic of the Forgotten and Cold Wars (that now seem less forgotten and cold)

A MiG 17! I had seen it in the 1980s and was immediately interested. But I never had time to stop and my usual route changed. But things changed again (as they often do), it was still there I noticed, and finally I recently stopped to take a gander. The MiG (Mikoyan-Gurevich) 17 was a … Continue reading A Relic of the Forgotten and Cold Wars (that now seem less forgotten and cold)

“Lord Help:” Pic of the Day 2017-12-10 (and 2015-07-11)

Ruins of the ancient city of Knidos (also Cnidus) lie at the end of a long peninsula jutting into the Aegean Sea from SW Turkey. In antiquity one came there mostly by sea, as did the Apostle Paul (Acts 27:7) while a prisoner en route to Rome. Cnidus-Knidos: Apollo and Round Temple (photo © Daniel … Continue reading “Lord Help:” Pic of the Day 2017-12-10 (and 2015-07-11)

Pic of the Day 2017-10-06: Interfaith Interaction in Ancient Rough Cilicia?

This Pic of the Day post is 5 days delayed, but it is serendipitously appropriate in light of a fine talk I heard tonight at University Baptist Church on Ecumenism and Interfaith Dialogue as a "pillar" of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Mississippi—delivered by a former student and now CBF of MS Coordinator, Dr Jason … Continue reading Pic of the Day 2017-10-06: Interfaith Interaction in Ancient Rough Cilicia?

Pic of the Day 2017-10-04: An ancient garden statue center

Yesemek is a rather unusual archaeological site in Turkey, 6 km from Syria. The "ruins" are really a workshop for production of standard Hittite (and Neo-Hittite) monumental statuary used to decorate palaces and public buildings. The basic forms were created here and then transported and perhaps detailed at the cities where they were installed. Hundreds … Continue reading Pic of the Day 2017-10-04: An ancient garden statue center

A Serendipitous Adventure: The Belevi Tumlus

You Don’t Get This on the Bus Tour, 2. While scanning for high ground from which to get a better overview pic of the Belevi Monument, my adventure companions and I noticed something odd about the adjacent hilltop. It had a very uniform dome-like summit, as would be expected for a man-made tumulus . . … Continue reading A Serendipitous Adventure: The Belevi Tumlus

Not Quite Ready for Prime Time: The Belevi Monument

You Don’t Get This on the Bus Tour, 1. This is the first true post in my series “You Don’t Get This on the Bus Tour,” for which one should read my introduction. As noted there, I selected my first site to continue the theme of the introduction and serve as an exemplar of the … Continue reading Not Quite Ready for Prime Time: The Belevi Monument

An Easter Ritual Figurine of Unknown Function

Happy Easter to all! Since this is probably (and hopefully) the weirdest Easter of our lifetime, Ancient Dan has decided to embrace it and present this unusual archaeological artifact to readers for review. While the object is clearly somehow related to Easter celebrations, I am aware of no exact parallel. Therefore, I will refer to … Continue reading An Easter Ritual Figurine of Unknown Function