web analytics

More Boo!

Meet the lady from Grave 6705 in the bronze age city of Shahr-i Sokhta, now southern Iran. She died between 2900 and 2800 BC. She may have been a foreigner. She was aged between 28 and 35. She was surrounded by rich grave goods. She was six feet tall.

AND SHE HAD A FALSE EYE. Earliest found so far. It wasn’t a sphere; she wore it like an eye patch. It was made out of pitch and animal fat, so it is now black, but some specks of white paint on the surface means it may have been painted white like an eyeball. It was inlaid with fine gold wires radiating from the center, and there are some incised squiggly lines that may be imitation capillaries. I’m unclear whether they were inlaid.

It wasn’t a grave good; she wore it in life for quite a long time. There were two little holes where fine threads attached and held it in place. Both the prosthetic and the threads left marks on her bones. In fact, it looks like she had an abscess possibly caused by this thing.

That’s all we know and that’s cool enough.

But it’s been reported that she was a noblewoman or a priestess and she used the eye to convince people she could see into the future. Which is fun and all, but there’s not a scrap of evidence.

It’s part of an odd contradiction I’ve found since I’ve gotten interested in prehistory. We have never had better tools to examine the past. Radiocarbon dating, DNA testing, chemical analysis of teeth and other organic finds, ground penetrating radar, aerial analysis – it’s simply stunning the good, hard data we can glean now.

But the reports often come packaged with completely unsusbtantiated, fanciful conclusions. I mean, the official reports do (don’t get me started on where journalists go). I mean, we all like to speculate, sure. Maybe if you do the hard work to get a PhD in prehistory, your reward is that your wild-ass guesses get listened to.


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 23, 2021, 9:36 pm

Also, if I can indulge a little misogyny, it’s also the case that the field seems to have LOTS of women in it and they seem to be the most fanciful. Girls, teehee! Am I right, fellas?

I’m beginning to hear murmurs from some of these scholars of how sad they are to dig up bones and “disturb” graves, which wouldn’t exactly be helpful to the field of archaeology if it catches on.

Comment from The Neon Madman
Time: February 23, 2021, 9:52 pm

Yeah, it gets amusing how anyone in the field likes to take a bit of hard data and stretch it into a mountain of fantasy speculations.

Comment from OldFert
Time: February 23, 2021, 11:36 pm

Well, to stretch the misogyny a little, the field of journalism seems to have lots of wimminfolk in it now, too. As does politics, especially at the more local level.
Those fields seem to have a bit more, uh, imagination in them than they did when I was a kid and they were mostly male. Kinda like the fabulists seek out some professions over others.

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: February 24, 2021, 12:09 am

Weasel – do you mean ‘this’ kind of archeology?


But…nothing to do with Archeology and medicine is it!

Neat info about the artificial eye eh?

A while back there was an interesting bit about using dead people’s teeth in ancient times to replace ones that had been pulled. Wired in with bridges made of gold wire.

Also – trepanning, South America and the Middle East, done waaaaaay before people ought to have been drilling holes in people’s heads! (As opposed to Bushpanning….)

And finally – have you ever pondered how they figured out which parts of the Fugu you could eat and which you can’t?

Uh huh.
“Did he die?”
“Okay, make a note, we can’t eat that part.”
“Right, got it, carry on, we still have a few more prisoners”

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: February 24, 2021, 2:12 am

As far as gender impact on archaeology, the comments above remind me of a study done by Lego decades ago – they were only selling to 50% of their potential market; to wit – girls never played with ‘em. Pastel colors instead of reds and yellows? Nuthin. Hence the study which was probably unofficially titled: “What Do Women Want” (in Legos)?

They found that girls were only interested in Legos if they could be used to make “stage scenery” in which social fantasy interaction with others could be acted out (“Hey Ken, would you like to come over to my Dream House and, and, bake cookies? I could pick you up in my Corvette!”).

I could see how this same thing might creep into one’s analysis of artifacts. (“Wow! What did she do with that sexy artificial eye? If it was me….I’d be all, Hey Ken, look into my eye, er, eyes!”)

But: all this is speculation and therefore valueless – it is in fact the same thing that we am complaining about – it’s not based on empirical evidence.

And this complaint of people extrapolating from tiny bits of evidence and speculating that extrapolation into an complete story is nothing new and goes back to at least 1605 when Francis Bacon was bitching about it – at a time when there were very few women in the sciences which kinda blows my gender bias theory.

“ Another error hath proceeded from too great a reverence, and a kind of adoration of the mind and understanding of man; by means whereof, men have withdrawn themselves too much from the contemplation of nature, and the observations of experience, and have tumbled up and down in their own reason and conceits. ”

Yeah, see I totally know all about Francis Bacon, see, and this has nothing to do with the novel that I am just coincidently reading right now about ‘The Glorious Revolution’, and if that quote above appeared in it, I am positive I didn’t even notice cause I remember all about it from college in the 1970’s…

Ya’all believe me, right?

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: February 24, 2021, 10:21 am

@Someveg – and you had me goin there till you got all honest and such.
Clearly you ain’t cut out for public office man.

Funny about your reference to Bacon though, according to a Prime documentary I viewed just the other day, he was a suspect in the mystery of “who created the Voynich manuscript”. Along with Leonardo Da Vinci. And the documentary said Mr. Bacon was very much into the whole science as science thing, and hardly at all into the science as ‘feewings’ thing.


Interestingly, also referring to Weasel’s recent post on dyes and pigments, the documentary covered the pigments used in the manuscript to try and date it’s creation and authenticity!

This place is amazing for coincidental references.

Speaking of references, most of my references to Bacon are whether or not to fry it straight up in the air fryer, or wrap it around marinated chicken fingers and sheetpan cook it (no no you idiot! I said SHEETcake!), or use it in a very nice Instantpot potato salad recipe. WinCo has super cheap Bacon they slice up on site, about half the price of the normal packaged brand, if you can get it before it sells out every day.

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: February 24, 2021, 4:11 pm

Well I hope they test her DNA!

Bacon (not Francis): JavaSon thinks a whole pound of bacon of crispy bacon would make a dandy restaurant appetizer. He would order one every time.

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: February 24, 2021, 7:55 pm

Crispin Bacon, that was Francis’ younger, better looking brother.

Comment from Tom
Time: February 25, 2021, 9:43 am

Crispin Bacon, that was Francis’ younger, better looking brother.

Nor to be confused with his first cousin, Crispin Weldun.


Write a comment

(as if I cared)

(yeah. I'm going to write)

(oooo! you have a website?)

Beware: more than one link in a comment is apt to earn you a trip to the spam filter, where you will remain -- cold, frightened and alone -- until I remember to clean the trap. But, hey, without Akismet, we'd be up to our asses in...well, ass porn, mostly.

<< carry me back to ol' virginny