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Herculean task for modern scholars - More on the Discovered Roman Literature being unearthed.
The UK Times ^ | April 05, 2002 | By Robert Fowler

Posted on 04/05/2002 3:43:19 PM PST by vannrox

Herculean task for modern scholars


By Robert Fowler




ALMOST all the texts we have of the ancient classics derive from generations of scribal copies, separated by many centuries from the originals. Most works of classical literature — some 90 per cent — were not even lucky enough to be copied and survive into modern times. Very occasionally, the archaeologist’s spade turns up fragments of books written in antiquity itself, allowing us direct access to lost works and what the ancients said.


Some celebrated sites, such as Oxyrhynchus in Egypt, have yielded up splendid finds. Yet strangely, the most spectacular of sites remains to be fully explored.


Pompeii is deservedly the most famous archaeological excavation in the world. Buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in AD79 and brought to light by generations of painstaking archaeologists, the massive site, some 100 acres, contains the heart of a bustling merchant town, whose market, public buildings, recreational facilities and residences afford the visitor a ghostly sense of antiquity, rendered poignant by the looming bulk of the distant and beautiful volcano.


But besides Pompeii there is Herculaneum, situated on the coast just west of Vesuvius and five miles south of Naples. This was a seaside retreat for the rich. Although smaller than its sister and crowded on all sides by the modern town, it is in some ways even more pleasant to visit. Instead of the pumice that crushed and burnt Pompeii, Herculaneum was first smothered in super-heated gas and ash, then volcanic mud. The first surge carbonised the contents, and the second entombed them.


Consequently, Herculaneum is in a much better state of preservation. Upper storeys, furniture, woodwork, paint and replanted gardens all give an immediate sense of life.


The most famous of Herculaneum’s buildings is not, however, excavated as yet. In 1752-54, tunnellers acting on the orders of the Bourbon King Charles III came across the only intact library known from ancient times, in the house accordingly dubbed the Villa of the Papyri. At first they did not recognise the blackened lumps for what they were, and nearly threw them away. But the chance spotting of a few letters led to the rescue of the rolls from the rubbish heap, and inaugurated the modern discipline of papyrology. Not for the only time in the history of this site, however, financial, administrative and political difficulties put a premature stop to the explorations before the rest of the books could be unearthed.


The library turned out to be peculiarly one-sided, consisting mostly of philosophical books in Greek by Philodemus of Gadara, who was virtually unknown except as the author of some very fine epigrams. But this discovery put him in a wholly new light. He was the most important Epicurean philosopher of the 1st century BC. His patron was Lucius Cal-purnius Piso, father-in-law of Julius Caesar, to whom he dedicated one of his works. In all probability this was Piso’s villa, and Philodemus’s personal library.


Deciphering the charred rolls — black ink on black papyrus — is phenomenally difficult. The books must first be unrolled. Early efforts were disastrous. A common method was to cut a roll in half vertically (which in itself caused much damage either side of the knife), to transcribe as much as could be read on the inner surface, then scrape off the first layer to get at the next one. This first layer was, of course, lost for ever, and we are now dependent on the deficient transcripts of these early scholars, working long before the age of powerful microscopes, infra-red light and digital image-enhancing techniques. It did not help that the rolls and half-rolls were often jumbled or separated, making their reconstruction a puzzle of fiendish difficulty.


In spite of these obstacles, modern scholars have made spectacular progress in the past 30 years. The driving force was Marcello Gigante, Professor of Greek at Naples, who died last November. At his instigation an international team of scholars set to work on the nearly 1,800 rolls of writings on poetry, rhetoric, theology, physics, ethics and the history of philosophy, throwing floods of light on the literary and philosophical culture of the day. The most immediate connection is with Horace’s Art of Poetry, which owes much to Philodemus. Virgil was another pupil, who no doubt studied with him in this very villa.


The library contained works by other Epicurean philosophers, including Epicurus himself. There were also some Latin books. Fragments of a Roman comedy from the time of Terence have recently come to light. Still, Epicurean philosophy preponderates. The question must be whether this was the whole of the library. It seems extremely improbable. Where is the Greek poetry? Where are the other Latin books? Perhaps the remainder has disappeared. But it may still be there, containing who knows what riches. The potential importance of such a discovery cannot be overstated.


It is thus imperative that the excavation be completed. Should the volcano erupt again, we could lose the chance for ever. Partial excavation in the 1990s has established the dimensions of the villa, which we now know stretched down towards the sea on several terraces. It has emerged, too, that during the eruption attempts were made to remove the books in packing cases, some of which could well be found on these lower levels. But, once again, the excavations were interrupted, and we now have the worst of all situations, for, partly exposed as it is, the villa is vulnerable to flooding.


Chronic lack of funds has meant that the already excavated sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum have been slowly deteriorating, creating a crisis of preservation. The villa must compete with many other projects clamouring for support. But among all the buildings of this World Heritage Site, this villa is unique because of the papyri. The will, and the money, must be found to finish the excavation properly, and so, one hopes, restore the great library to an expectant world.



TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: archaeology; economic; epigraphyandlanguage; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; herculaneum; history; library; pompeii; roman; romanempire; scribe; text; vesuvius

1 posted on 04/05/2002 3:43:19 PM PST by vannrox
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To: vannrox
My God! Ye Gods! What a treasure!
2 posted on 04/05/2002 3:47:52 PM PST by null and void
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Comment #3 Removed by Moderator

To: abwehr
Eeeeevil man!
4 posted on 04/05/2002 3:56:13 PM PST by null and void
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To: null and void
Go here to see the first related article that this refers to.
5 posted on 04/05/2002 3:57:18 PM PST by vannrox
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To: vannrox
ALMOST all the texts we have of the ancient classics derive from generations of scribal copies, separated by many centuries from the originals.

With the exception of the New Testament documents, virtually all the other classic texts are represented by only a very few copies written many hundreds of years after the originals. The generations of scribal copying isn't too bad a thing unless one has only a very few copies to work with in which case it is difficult to get a good idea of what the original documents actually were. Polar opposites are the early Christian literature/New Testament and the Koran. In the former, there is such a wealth of literature that most of the New Testament can be reconstructed from quotes in the early church fathers alone. There is a very good degree of certainty about the text of the original writings as they existed in the latter half of the first century and the early second century. In contrast, "reformers" in Islam caused non-authorized versions of the Koran to be rounded up and burned. The discoveries in Herculaneum are truly wonderful and terribly exciting.
6 posted on 04/05/2002 4:03:44 PM PST by aruanan
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To: vannrox
Thereupon one of the priests, who was of a very great age, said:

O Solon, Solon, you Hellenes are never anything but children, and there is not an old man among you.

Solon in return asked him what he meant.

I mean to say, he replied, that in mind you are all young; there is no old opinion handed down among you by ancient tradition, nor any science which is hoary with age. And I will tell you why. There have been, and will be again, many destructions of mankind arising out of many causes; the greatest have been brought about by the agencies of fire and water, and other lesser ones by innumerable other causes...."
http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/timaeus.html

Keep in mind, the collective Western memory has been largely destroyed by the Burning of the Library of Alexandria, along with all the book burnings from the Sack of Rome, to the Dark Ages forward. We in the West suffer from a collective cultural amnesia.
Library of Alexandria #1
Library of Alexandria #2
Library of Alexandria #3

Jurist

7 posted on 04/05/2002 4:23:12 PM PST by Jurist
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To: aruanan
Is that why the Christians are having a hissy fit about the Dead Sea Scrolls?

Personally, I will trust text that can be dated close to the original even.

8 posted on 04/05/2002 4:29:51 PM PST by Hunble
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To: Hunble
<> What hissy fit ar you refering to? As far as I've heard the Dead Sea Scolls contain Old Testament material which thus far has proven to be very close to our current translations. Is there something new I haven't heard about?
9 posted on 04/05/2002 4:42:48 PM PST by foolscap
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To: blam
fyi
10 posted on 04/05/2002 4:44:04 PM PST by Fish out of Water
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To: Hunble
"Is that why the Christians are having a hissy fit about the Dead Sea Scrolls"

I haven't heard anything about this. Could you please explain?

11 posted on 04/05/2002 4:44:38 PM PST by freedom9
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To: Jurist
World Heritage Site

Isn't this one of the infamous UN projects? Money should be no problem. Of course since it is in town now, doing any work on adjacent lots to protect from flooding would require permits and buying up land, all requiring money.

Knowledge and history from the old days isn't really lost, it's just mixed in and jumbled together. Anyway, the contents of this library would be a private collection of contemporary works, and would bring this period to life. Whose ox could be gored; it's been a long time.

12 posted on 04/05/2002 4:44:56 PM PST by RightWhale
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To: freedom9
Just wait, I am sure some of our Freeper frinds will be more than happy to enlighten us.

Almost 50 years later, the full text of the Dead Sea Scrolls has not been released to the public.

Like you, I would like to hear the reasons why.

13 posted on 04/05/2002 4:49:27 PM PST by Hunble
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To: vannrox
bttt
14 posted on 04/05/2002 4:51:37 PM PST by Don Myers
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To: Miss Marple;
FYI
15 posted on 04/05/2002 4:56:09 PM PST by father_elijah
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To: Hunble
I would like to hear the reasons why.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are in three bodies today. The Isreali's have a few, there is an unknown number in private collections and the Catholic Church controls the rest of the scrolls in the Scrollery in Jerusalem. All scrolls published prior to 2000 can be contained in 3-4 books with extensive writings filling innumerable additional volumes. Since the Office of the Inquisition of the Holy Roman Catholic Church (actually they changed their name about 60 years ago but I can't remember it) lost control of the scrolls in about 2000, we now have 47 additional volumes of scrolls published.

Of course, the Catholic scholars claim they were just being careful for 56 years but they have put out a lot of "spin" and "smoke" in two years for a bunch of guys that were just figuring out what it says. They probably haven't learned too much more than they already have in the Vatican Libraries but they won't let us see that either. Now that the Huntington Library in Pasadena has photographs of all of the scrolls and will let any serious scholar look at them, the truth will begin to emerge.

16 posted on 04/05/2002 5:56:49 PM PST by IncredibleHulk
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To: IncredibleHulk
Thanks for your reply. I have a feeling we will hear some other version tonight also.

Frankly, I am 47 years old and have waited most of my adult life to read the actual text.

What are they hiding?

17 posted on 04/05/2002 6:06:08 PM PST by Hunble
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To: Hunble
Archeologists today released transcripts of the long lost "Freerepublic" hard drives.

While scholars disagree on most of the references to a "constitution", most do agree that the recuring use of "tinfoil, flame, and Clymer" in the same sections seem to indicate a relationship between these obtuse terms.

Dr. Seamus Johannson, head of the Dept. of Cyber-archeology at Princeton also noted the cyclic nature of complaints regarding "new format" which while cryptic seem to indicate separate periods of cyber-realignment,the largest seemingly occuring prior to the Oslo war of the first half of the 21st century.

Hehehe.

18 posted on 04/05/2002 6:13:30 PM PST by tet68
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To: blam
ping
19 posted on 04/05/2002 6:16:50 PM PST by kiryandil
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To: tet68
Should I continue laughing as you intended, or should I cry?

Thanks tet68, you did not let me down.

20 posted on 04/05/2002 6:20:54 PM PST by Hunble
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To: abwehr
You're not kidding. The Complete Works of Doris Kearns Goodwin could be discovered

That's good, that's very good!

But, perhaps, it would only be the basis of DKG's books; and not attributed or footnoted.

21 posted on 04/05/2002 6:42:44 PM PST by leadhead
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To: tet68
Very Good, and hot too!.
22 posted on 04/05/2002 6:47:00 PM PST by leadhead
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To: Jurist
Cyril's army of monks murdered the prefect and were cannonized by him for this deed; marauding through the city they came across Hypatia, daughter of the Museum's last great mathematician Theon. She was a Neoplatonist philosopher and astronomer whose teachings are partially recorded by one of her admirers and pupils, the Christian Synesius, and she was also supposedly an advisor to Orestes and one of the last members of the Museum.

Driving home from her own lectures without attendant, this independent woman and scholar epitomized the suspect nature of Paganism and its heretical scientific teachings. She was dragged from her chariot by the mob, stripped, flayed, and finally burned alive in the library of the Caesareum as a witch. Cyril was made a saint.

And we're still waiting for the Church to "Apologize..."

23 posted on 04/05/2002 6:57:28 PM PST by fire_eye
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To: foolscap
What hissy fit ar you refering to? As far as I've heard the Dead Sea Scolls contain Old Testament material which thus far has proven to be very close to our current translations. Is there something new I haven't heard about?

*One* of the things that turned up in the DSS was a reasonable facsimile of the Sermon on the Mount. "Apoplectic", "Ballistic", and "Hysterical" barely suffice to describe the mental condition of the Catholic clergy who discovered this, since of course... oh, never mind, you should be able to imagine the sordid details from that much...)

24 posted on 04/05/2002 7:10:38 PM PST by fire_eye
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Comment #25 Removed by Moderator

To: Fish out of Water;kiryandil
Thanks for the ping.
26 posted on 04/05/2002 7:29:40 PM PST by blam
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To: CTYankeeMike
Christianity the modern institution bears little resemblance to the Christianity of Christ. That is disturbing to some, but for no good reason.

What's the point of Christianity if it "bears little resemblance to the Christianity of Christ"? Much of modern Christianity is little more than a gang affiliation.

27 posted on 04/05/2002 7:58:09 PM PST by owl
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Comment #28 Removed by Moderator

To: Hunble
Is that why the Christians are having a hissy fit about the Dead Sea Scrolls?

Personally, I will trust text that can be dated close to the original even.


The only hissies I've heard of is what others say Christians are having or should have over the "secrets" the Dead Sea Scrolls are purported to contain that will render Christianity untenable. This is simply ludicrous. Although the entire collection hasn't been officially published or released to other researchers, it has been available to researchers in the form of copies for a long, long time. The reason for the "secrecy" has nothing to do with explosive contents but with the maintenence of professional bailiwicks. The way it works in this case is that the scrolls had been largely under the control of one guy. It was he who decided who would get access and who would not. His students would, in the normal course of events--ie, his earthly demise--continue the custodianship of the manuscripts. When you have in your possession a treasure trove of manuscripts from one of the most important times and regions in history, you have a chance at immortal glory (relatively speaking) in your field. But you won't get there by being kindergartenish and share with all the other wittle wesearchers any more than you would find a big treasure in a field and put up floodlit signs announcing the fact before you get thorough control over the situation.

I can understand why some people would be wanting to suggest the existence of something detrimental to Christianity due to the overwhelming solid historical support it has.
29 posted on 04/06/2002 3:51:55 AM PST by aruanan
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To: CTYankeeMike
The whole purpose of Christianity is self-betterment and betterment as a whole. If we are no different from the way we were 2002 years ago, then Christianity indeed would have served no purpose.

It take it, then, that you are pretty much completely unfamiliar with Christianity.
30 posted on 04/06/2002 3:54:55 AM PST by aruanan
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To: Jurist
Keep in mind, the collective Western memory has been largely destroyed by the Burning of the Library of Alexandria, along with all the book burnings from the Sack of Rome, to the Dark Ages forward. We in the West suffer from a collective cultural amnesia.

A more recent "cultural revolution/lobotomy" -- FDR's stooges eradicated a vast American popular literature by calling in and melting down pre-set lead printing plates in the early 1940s.

31 posted on 04/06/2002 4:03:11 AM PST by TomSmedley
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To: aruanan
Although the entire collection hasn't been officially published or released to other researchers, it has been available to researchers in the form of copies for a long, long time

Patently false, but spoken like a true catholic.

32 posted on 04/06/2002 6:26:35 PM PST by IncredibleHulk
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To: IncredibleHulk
Patently false, but spoken like a true catholic.

I'm not Catholic and, rather than being patently false, this was common knowledge to people in the field at least 25 years ago.
33 posted on 04/06/2002 8:19:39 PM PST by aruanan
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To: IncredibleHulk
Although the entire collection hasn't been officially published or released to other researchers, it has been available to researchers in the form of copies for a long, long time.

Patently false, but spoken like a true catholic.

Well, whether officially or unofficially, one can now also get the complete texts on CD-ROM. (emphasis added) You want I should burn you a copy?
The University of Chicago Library
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 Full Record
UniformTitle: Dead Sea scrolls
Title: The Dead Sea scrolls electronic reference library [computer file] / edited by Timothy H. Lim in consultation with Philip S. Alexander.
Imprint: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press ; Leiden : Koninklijke Brill NV, 1997-
Description: computer laser optical discs : col. ; 4 3/4 in.
Computer data and program.
Notes: Title from disc label.
Vol. 1 accompanied by user manual (xii, 54 p.).
Vol. 2 accompanied by user manual (32 p.).
System requirements: IBM PC or full compatible; 16 Mb RAM; MS-DOS 3.3 or higher; Windows 3.1 or higher; MSCDEX 2.0 or higher; double-speed CD-ROM drive compatible with MPC level 1 or higher; SVGA monitor set to display 256 colors; Microsoft mouse or compatible; 30 Mb hard disk space.
Contents: v. 1. [Digitized images of all the biblical and non-biblical Dead Sea scrolls] (2 discs) -- v.1 The Dead Sea scrolls database (non-Biblical texts).
Summary: Comprehensive collection of reference materials on the Dead Sea scrolls and related areas of interest including digitized images of the scrolls, transcriptions, translations, and associated literature.
Acknowledgement: Gift of the Library Society
Subjects: Dead Sea scrolls.
Qumran community
Other entries: Lim, Timothy H.
Alexander, Philip S.
ISBN: 9004106979 (single user)
Holdings

Copy:

Location Call No. Copy No. Notes
Mixed Media, Regenstein Circ  CDRomBM487.D29 1997  c.1   

Main run  v.1-v.2     

Email record to: 
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34 posted on 04/06/2002 8:33:45 PM PST by aruanan
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To: aruanan
Well, whether officially or unofficially, one can now also get the complete texts on CD-ROM. (emphasis added) You want I should burn you a copy?

Your information is so out of date it is dangerous. You probably still believe the Essenes were at Qumran.

The Dead Sea Scrolls at the Huntington

(A microfilm copy of the original in Jerusalem)

The Huntington is often asked about its connection with the Dead Sea Scrolls. The original Scrolls, discovered between 1947 and the early 1950s in caves near the Dead Sea, are housed in the Rockefeller Museum and the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem.

In 1982, the Preservation Council headed by Mrs. Elizabeth Hay Bechtel gave the Huntington a master set of Scroll microfilm negatives. The Huntington’s expectation was that it would provide a secure and stable environment for the preservation of the archival copy of the photographs and not serve as the primary center for their study. A duplicate set of negatives had been made for the Biblical Manuscript Center in Claremont, CA, and it was assumed that Biblical scholars would be able to satisfy their research needs there – especially since the Huntington does not have the specialized reference materials that Biblical scholars need.

At the time the Huntington Library decided to make copies of the microfilm available, access to the original Scrolls and fragments, believed to have been written between 200 B.C. and A.D. 68, was limited to seven scholars, each of whom were assigned some part to decipher, edit, and publish. Many qualified scholars were therefore excluded from studying the Scrolls. By 1990 an Israeli scholar, Emanuel Tov, was appointed editor, and he moved to expand the editorial committee and liberalize access.

In early August of 1991, then Huntington Library Director William A. Moffett proposed to his colleagues that the Library make its photographs of the Scrolls—the most extensive such resource not controlled by the official Scroll editors—as accessible as possible to researchers, putting an end to the question of limited scholarly access. On September 22, 1991, Dr. Moffett announced the Huntington would make microfilm copies of the Scrolls available to scholars and the public around the world through inter-library loan, which resulted in extensive media coverage.

The Huntington Library has provided microfilm copies of the Scrolls on indefinite loan to over 80 libraries in the United States and around the world. However, there are now a number of facsimile editions and translations (the Scrolls are written in Aramaic, Greek or Ancient Hebrew) that provide more accessible means of studying these materials.

There are a number of websites devoted to the Dead Sea Scrolls. Among them the Israel Museum http://www.imj.org.il/shrine/, the Library of Congress http://metalab.unc.edu/expo/deadsea.scrolls.exhibit/.html, and The Field Museum in Chicago http://www.fmnh.org./exhibits/scrolls_tempexhib2.htm.

Microfilm copies of the Scrolls are not available to the general public, but can be requested through inter-library loan from a public or academic library near you. Libraries wishing copies of the microfilm for reference purposes should complete a standard ALA Inter-Library Loan Form and submit it along with a check for US$50 to cover the cost of duplication, handling, and postage. Please mail your request and payment to Donna Stromberg, Assistant to the Library Director, The Huntington Library, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA, 91108.

35 posted on 04/06/2002 9:32:13 PM PST by IncredibleHulk
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To: owl
What's the point of Christianity if it "bears little resemblance to the Christianity of Christ"? Much of modern Christianity is little more than a gang affiliation.

So Israelis are Nazis and Christians are gang-bangers, eh?

How the f*** did JimRob not ban you over the years? Did you keep a really low profile?

36 posted on 04/13/2002 1:47:45 PM PDT by Lazamataz
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To: vannrox
bump
37 posted on 04/13/2002 1:48:57 PM PDT by VOA
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To: tet68
What? No refernces to moose and cheese? It's a conspiracy! They're not revealing all of it!

I know, 'cause my seance group was channelling the ghost of Michael Rivero the other night and he said so!

38 posted on 04/13/2002 2:12:14 PM PDT by uglybiker
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To: vannrox; *Gods, Graves, Glyphs
Just adding this to the GGG homepage, not sending a general distribution.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on or off the "Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list --
Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.

39 posted on 07/21/2004 8:09:05 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (Unlike some people, I have a profile. Okay, maybe it's a little large...)
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To: vannrox
I wonder if a MRI could tell the different layers apart in the scrolls and if it tell ink from the paper and finally if it could then digitally unroll the scroll?
40 posted on 07/21/2004 8:25:22 AM PDT by fella
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Just updating the GGG information, not sending a general distribution.

Please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list. Thanks.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on, off, or alter the "Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list --
Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
The GGG Digest
-- Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)

41 posted on 07/30/2005 8:04:30 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Down with Dhimmicrats! I last updated by FR profile on Tuesday, May 10, 2005.)
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· join list or digest · view topics · view or post blog · bookmark · post a topic ·

 
Gods
Graves
Glyphs
Just updating the GGG info, not sending a general distribution.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.
GGG managers are Blam, StayAt HomeMother, and Ernest_at_the_Beach
 

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42 posted on 07/11/2008 9:19:57 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/_________________________Profile updated Friday, May 30, 2008)
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