The romance of archeology: extract – V

Magoffin, R.V.D, Davis, Emiy C.The romance of archeology, Garden City Publishing Company Inc., 1929, New York

Chapter Eight: Archaeology in British Isles, p 173-174

The stone huts cleared of sand are large, with ceilings as high as ten feet, but the doors are low, so that even a short man must stoop to enter. Inside a typical house were found stone tables, stone cupboard shelves, a fireplace, and scattered household articles of a seaside home of the Stone Age — bone laddles, drinking cups of whalebone, simple earthenware dishes, and polished stone axe-heads. in addition there were beads and amulets of walrus ivory, which the fishermen and their dark-haired wives wore to set off their costumes of animal skins or to ward off evil. An unexpected discovery was that huts were connected by a network of indoor streets made of roofed-over stone passages. The untidy villagers cast kitchen refuse on the roofs of these indoor streets, and at times even built campfire there and cooked their meals.

In the corner of one cottage the archaeologists discovered a mysterious grave containing two skeletons. These appear to be not the remains of inhabitants of the stone house but victims entombed by some gruesome rite when the house was built. Barbarians elsewhere have been known to sacrifice a victim at the foundation of a new building in order to confer a magic stability upon its walls. The meaning of the burials is carved in plain view on a slab in front of the grave; but the marks have defied modern scholarship. They are like, and yet unlike, runic letters.

The romance of archeology: extract – IV

Magoffin, R.V.D, Davis, Emiy C.The romance of archeology, Garden City Publishing Company Inc., 1929, New York

Chapter 5: The Glorious Past of Hellas, p107-108

In the argolid, on a mountain spur 912 feet high, Schliemann in 1876 first found a double ring (87 feet in diameter) of stone slabs. Twenty-three feet below the surface he came upon the first of five graves. In it and the others (a sixth grave was discovered later) were found face masks of solid gold, bracelets, rings, daggers (sixty swords and daggers in one tomb), ivory, amber, silver, bronze, alabaster, diadems, pendants, grasshopers of gold with chains of gold wherewith the royal ladies attached them as ornaments on their dresses or in their hair; more than seven hundred ornaments in all. Nothing to equal this had ever been found before. Small wonder, it is not, that the world got into training for an archeological race?

The romance of archeology: extract – III

Magoffin, R.V.D, Davis, Emiy C.The romance of archeology, Garden City Publishing Company Inc., 1929, New York

Chapter 3: Glamor of the Gift of the Nile, p67

Reisner believed  from the first that he had discovered, not a burial, but a reburial. Pharaoh Sneferu had made a tomb for his queen Hetepheres near his own pyramid at Dahshur. Sneferu died and was entombed. When Hetepheres died, her son Cheops placed her mummy in the prepared tomb, as is proved by inscriptions. Thieves broke into Queen Hetepheres’ tomb, but were discovered, and of course killed, before much treasure, if any, had been carried away. Cheops, seemingly, was having a secret tomb prepared near his own pyramid, but did not wait for its completion, but removed his mother to it at once.

Inside the tomb chamber was a marble sarcophagus, over which lay a number of faïence-inlaid sheets of gold. On the floor were several chairs overlaid with gold, and a set of eight marvelous toilet jars of alabaster. on what was left of a palanquin and bed were four identical inscriptions which, when translated, say: « the mother of the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, the Follower of Horus, the guide of the ruler, the favorite one whose every word is done for her, the daughter of the god of his body, Hetepheres.  » Inside a gold-encased box […] containing deben rings,  » were found two sets of ten anklets. These rings for the legs are inlaid with dragon flies of malachite, lapis lazuli, and red carnelian. They are of different diameters, graduated in size to fit the leg. On the floor also were discovered three cups of gold, two gold and five copper razors, three gold and four copper knives, as well as several flint knives and many pieces of pottery and alabaster. To the dismay of the excavators, when the lid of the sarcophagus was raised, no mummy was inside. It must have been hidden somewhere else.

The romance of archeology: extract – II

Magoffin, R.V.D, Davis, Emiy C.The romance of archeology, Garden City Publishing Company Inc., 1929, New York

Chapter 3: The Glamor of the Gift of the Nile, p 58

Queen Hatshepsut’s temple architect, Senmut, seems to have been this Egyptian Elizabeth’s Essex. In building the temple for his queen, he introduced his own portrait behind various doors in it. In the season 1927-1928, the Metropolitan Museum’s Egyptian Expedition found he had also dared to start a tomb for himself deep down and directly beneath her temple. Only one room of his tomb had been decorated before his downfall. Its ceiling represents a chart of the heavens, the best, and one of the earliest astronomical charts thus far found. Senmut also brought down from Assuan to Karnak two granites obelisks 97 1/2 feet high for the Queen’s jubilee. They were the tallest obelisks ever made with the one exception of that erected at Heliopolis by her enemy (and also her half-brother and nephew), Thothmes III […]

The romance of archeology: extract

 

I’m gonna put a bunch of these extracts on my blog. I fucking love this book. The writing… the entertainment value is incredible!

Magoffin, R.V.D, Davis, Emiy C., The romance of archeology, Garden City Publishing Company Inc., 1929, New York

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Chapter One: The spade is mightier than the pen, p10

The recall of the veterans to arms was sponsored by Alcibiades, handsome, aristocratic, very rich, and very clever, and quite the most gifted in effrontery of any Athenian of that time; and in the sequel he proved to be the most debonair of all the plausible rascals of history. The soldiers, and boys under military age, and the discharged veterans all leaped to the call of opportunity. Our veteran in Euboea got together what little he needed, and then, before he left his new little house, he buried in a terra-cotta pot under his floor the balance of his money, among the pieces being a number of the new coins that had been minted that very year and paid to him when he was discharged. He hurried to Athens, was enrolled, and sent on board the fleet which was so eager to go that the ships raced one another down the Saronic gulf, as all the women of Attica on top of the houses at Piraeus waved them bon voyage. The expedition was the greatest debâcle of history. The entire force was killed or captured. The pot of coins, after 2,333 years, turned up accidentally by a spade in 1921, is one of the thousands of pitiful mortalities of that ill-starred expedition now archeologically authenticated.

Elderlings are Dragonborns well done

I recently read the amazing Liveship Traders trilogy by Robin Hobb and one thing that leapt to my mind is how much more interesting the Elderlings are compared to D&D Dragonborns.

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In my actual (Chult) campaign, to contrast with my human-only previous one, I’ve let the players choose any race, « even the dumb ones » I said. I was kind of relieved when none of them chose to play a Dragonborn as, for me, this race is certainly one of the dumbest fantasy race out there.

 Shaped by draconic gods or the dragons themselves, dragonborn originally hatched from dragon eggs as a unique race, combining the best attributes of dragons and humanoids.

A cop-out if there ever was. At least there’s no sexually deviant dragons copulating with puny humanoids, oh wait, that’s where Half-dragons come from! Sigh…

Dragonlance’s  Draconians were not much better (I mean, how much stolen dragon eggs you need to make whole armies?!) but at least they replaced the overly used orcs.

Now, what about Hobb’s Elderlings?

They were ancient Humans that pretty much lived side by side in a symbiotic society with dragons. Because of their proximity with these powerful beings’ essence and the occasional use of special rituals, they have acquired variable degrees of draconic traits: scaling, greater height, bright eyes, longevity and so forth. The culture of the Elderlings, what few glimpses we have of it, is also quite intriguing.

 

 

Urban Myconids

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Myconids In SiT! They’re street cleaners, removing offal, dejections, basically any organic waste. Sometimes they get a little less discriminatory about the unmoving quality of their sweepings.

That’s something I came with while reading Jeff Vandermeer’s book:

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What I’m stealing for my setting is only the cruder idea of the Gray Caps of Vandermeer, who aren’t even mushroom creatures as such, but are fuzzily described as smaller humanoids with a weird civilization based on advanced fungi technology.

The total creepiness and sinister threat of the Gray Caps I leave out, only because it won’t do thematically for my setting, but it was a very good read!

Flâneur (adapting the rogue for SiT)

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I won’t mess with the mechanics of the rogue as it is one of the few character classes that is perfectly okay within SiT but… Here is a little more flavour coming along with the flâneur. As always, the players will be free to do as they wish (almost) but it seems to me that a rogue character could well be played with these lines in mind:

The flâneur belongs to the same social and moral universe as the spy, agent de sûreté and, somewhat later, the detective. Like them, he strives to be both all-seeing and invisible (though, just as spies were commonly spied upon, so too the flâneur is himself not infrequently the object of physionomie) and, no less than Vidocq or Hugo’s Javert, he is a Protean figure capable of assuming a variety of disguises in order to pursue his scopophiliac passion undetected.

extract from The flaneur and his city by Richard D.E. Burton

The flâneur is a keen observer, so much so that using physionomie knowledge he can, from the dress, gait, etc. in a mere moment gain, like Burton says: « god-like power-through knowledge over the Other. »

Rosler-LeFlaneur

Well I think that would help explain a few things about the features of the rogue class (versatility, skills strength, backstab ability and such).

 

Gangs of New York (excerpt dump)

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Lets get it out of the way, this book  has barely any historical value. Yet I read it twice. Twice, cover from cover within a few months lapse! That’s because it’s pretty unique in its genre. It reads more like an ancient epic tale or saga. There’s no main character, no plot either, what it got is a whole lot of over the top scenes! But I’m not doing a review here, merely dumping inspiring bits…

And many a boy became a gangster solely because of an overwhelming desire to emulate the exploits of some spectacular figure of the underworld, or because of a yearning for fame and glory which he was unable to satisfy except by acquiring a reputation as a tough guy and a hard mug.

One of the tenements was called Jacob’s Ladder, because it was entered from the outside by a rickety, dangerous flight of stairs. Another rejoiced in the name of Gates of Hell. A third was known as Brick-bat Mansion.

Even the most ferocious of the Paradise Squares eye-gougers and mayhem artists cringed when a giant Plug Ugly walked abroad looking for trouble, with a huge bludgeon in one hand, a brickbat in the other, a pistol peeping from his pocket and his tall hat jammed down over his ears and all but obscuring his fierce eyes. He was an adept at rough and tumble fighting, and wore heavy boots studded with great hobnails with which he stamped his prostrate and helpless victim.

Gangsters and other criminals who sought refuge from the police in the dismal chambers of the Court cut other openings from the cellars of the tenements, and hid themselves and their plunder on the side ledges of the sewer or in niches cut in the walls.

…the honest citizens decided to fight fire with fire, knowing that they could not depend upon the police for protection. The word went out that they wished to employ a gang leader who would pit his strength against Poole and his minions.

Walling had always been impressed by the fact that the gangster would seldom stand up before a policeman armed with a heavy locust club, and that there was nothing a thug feared so much as a sound thumping.

The gangs of the Five Points and the Bowery, by far the most turbulent of the city’s inhabitants, took advantage of the opportunity to vent their ancient grudges against each other, and engaged in almost constant rioting.

Barricades of carts and stones were piled up in the streets, and from behind these defenses the gangsters shot and hurled bricks and used their club.

Travelling Mike sold needles and other small articles for the use of the housewife, but his box was more apt to contain pearls and diamonds, or stolen bonds, than legitimate objects of barter.

She also offered advanced courses in burglary and safe-blowing, and to a few of the most intimate of her associates gave post graduate work in blackmailing and confidence schemes.

…a Bowery drinking place called the Morgue, the owner of which boasted that his product was equally efficient as a beverage or an embalming fluid. …Soon a score of men were blazing away with revolvers, but all were drunk and no one was injured. The proprietor of the Morgue said they were very silly to expect to hit anyone after drinking his liquor.

With the connivance of crooked officials and politicians, contractors had hurriedly flung together cheap and flimsy tenements in the congested districts to house the hordes of immigrants, and these structures soon degenerated into slums of the utmost depravity.

…was divided by the gangs into clearly defined kingdoms, and the boundaries were garrisoned and as carefully guarded as are the frontiers of civilized nations.

Over a period of more than a half dozen years Battle Annie was the Queen of Hell’s Kitchen, and acquired widespread renown as the most formidable female of her time.

Perhaps fifty small groups which operated south of Forty-second street owed allegiance to the Gophers, Eastmans, Five Pointers, Gas Housers, and Hudson Dusters, and in the event of a general gang war rallied under the banners of the great captains. Each of these small gangs was supreme in its own territory, which other gangs under the same sovereignty might not invade, but its leader was always responsible to the chieftain of the larger gang, just as a prince is responsible to his king.

In addition to the great gangs and their vassal combinations, there were also a large number of independent groups which controlled small areas within the domains of the larger gangs, and vigorously opposed any attempt to absorb or suppress them.

They were greatly feared by their simple countrymen, for not only were they amazingly proficient in the use of the bomb, revolver and stiletto, but were reputed to be able to cast the evil eye, and to possess other magical powers.