Volume 29 / Issue 2


Issue Cover

Special Issue: Archaeological Facts and Fantasies

On the cover: King Arthur and his knights setting out in search of the Holy Grail, from a 14th century Italian manuscript (Ms. Fr. 343 Fol. 8. Courtesy of the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris).

King Solomon in History and Myth

The career of Solomon, King of Israel, is known primarily through biblical references and traditions. The historical reality behind specific elements reported in these sources, however, varies greatly. Take Solomon’s most famous characteristic, his wisdom. In the Old Testament, Solomon is described as a man to whom God gave “wisdom and understanding beyond measure” (1 […]

Solomon, the Copper King

A Twentieth Century Myth

By: James D. Muhly

King Solomon is one of those biblical figures known to almost everyone, regardless of religious persuasion or degree of spiritual belief. Most people have at some time in their lives heard stories about Solomon the builder, the architect of the first great temple for the worship of Yahweh in Jerusalem; Solomon the wise man, famous […]

The Fallout from the Thera Eruption

By: Nicholas Hartmann

The effects of the Thera eruption on the island itself were devastating. Estimates of the amount of volcanic material (tephra) ejected during the eruption range from 3 to 28 cubic kilometers. Much of this volume fell back directly onto the island, burying parts of it under 30 meters of debris. Thera would also have suffered […]

Madame Blavatsky and Theosophy

By: Brian Fagan

One of the more popular recent reincarnations of the legend of Atlantis took place in the United States. During the 1870s, Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891) lived on Sansom Street, within the present boundaries of the University of Pennsylvania campus. This strange and eccentric Russian woman had enjoyed a diverse career as a circus horse […]

Atlantis Lost and Found

The Ancient Aegean from Politics to Volcanoes

By: Nicholas Hartmann

In addressing the topic of “Atlantis”, which over the years has become a catch-all term for a number of wildly unrelated ideas, my purpose is to sort out fact from fantasy. Let us begin with facts. The word Atlantis and some of the ideas surrounding it originated in the writings of Plato (428-347 B.C.; Fig. […]

Archaeology and Pseudo-Archaeology

By: Brian Fagan

This issue of Expedition grew out of a symposium held at The University Museum on October 5, 1985, entitled “Archaeology: Fact and Fantasy.” The articles that follow discuss popular but fanciful ideas about the past—myths—that are in some way related to archaeology. In some cases, archaeology has recovered evidence of events or historical periods that […]

Some Non-Royal Curses

By: David Silverman

Most genuine Egyptian curses take a particular form, and, once established, the pattern remains intact. Those placed on private tombs during the Old Kingdom are usually preceded by a statement such as: “As for any [here is put the title of any one of several profes­sions] who will pass by this monu­ment, may he say […]

The Curse of the Curse of the Pharaohs

By: David Silverman

“Cursed be those that disturb the rest of Pharaoh. They that shall break the seal of this tomb shall meet death by a disease which no doctor can diagnose.” (Inscription reported to have been carved on an Egyptian royal tomb) Throughout the centuries, ancient Egypt and its civilization have often been referred to in terms […]

The Life and Times of King Arthur

By: Janice B. Klein

Arthur has been depicted in many ways. He is most commonly seen as the high Medieval king of 13th, 14th, and 15th century tapestries, paintings, and book illustrations, complete with a court of noble lords and ladies and, of course, the Knights of the Round Table (Figs. 1, 2). To the Victorians he was a […]

Traditional Potters of India

Ethnoarchaeological Observations in America

By: Marilyn P. Beaudry and J. Mark Kenoyer and Rita P. Wright

We stood on a hillside surveying the landscape for just the “right spot.” M. Palaniappan preferred the low, more level area near the base of the hill, while Jhithru Ram favored the more sloping crest. Three others of us stood by observing as they spoke animatedly in Hindi. The day, a steamy one in early […]