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Ancient Geoglyphs of Kazakhstan: The Mysterious Markings in Danger of Destruction


Rings, crosses, circles, squares, and a swastika are some of the many intricate designs of the enigmatic and ancient geoglyphs spread across the vast northern steppe of Kazakhstan. 50 huge geoglyphs were discovered by archaeologists in 2007 and were revealed last year, but researchers still seek to piece together who built the large-scale creations or why.

Archaeologists Irina Shevnina and Andrew Logvin, who discovered the geoglyphs, said of the finds, “As of today, we can say only one thing – the geoglyphs were built by ancient people.”

According to IBTimes, the sprawling creations are built-up mounds on top of the earth, unlike the famous Nazca Lines of Peru, which were dug and scraped into the earth. The mounds, found in the Torgay region in Kazakhstan, are typically formed with rocks, stone fragments, brush, gravel and soil. Like other giant geoglyphs, they are easily visible from altitude, and researchers have surveyed sites using satellite images from Google Earth.

Last year a team of archaeologists from Kostanay University in Kazakhstan and Vilnius University in Lithuania, investigated the giant structures using aerial photography and ground-penetrating radar.

A wide variety of shapes were revealed , with sizes ranging from 90 to 400 meters (295 to 1312 feet) in diameter. They were mostly shaped out of earth, but the swastika geoglyph was found to have been made out of timber, and as such is not in good condition.

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Pittsburgh University scientists Shalkar Adambekov and Ronald Laporte are currently working to get the area designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site to protect the archaeologically important sites. The geoglyphs are thought to date back 3,000 to 7,000 years.

The large scale of the Kazakhstan geoglyphs can be seen when shown next to a modern road. Credit: Google Earth

A protected designation may help preserve the ancient sites, and it seems to be sorely needed. In July it was reported by the International News Agency "Kazinform" that some of the unique glyphs had been irreparably destroyed by reconstruction of roads through the area.

The road reconstruction project was carried out in 2013, and it passed through the center of the Kazakh archaeological complex. The head of the department of Technical Supervision Office of Transport and Highways of the Kostanay region said the repairs did not exceed the boundaries of the original road which was built in the 1970’s, but Kazinform claims in its article that the construction of a bypass road partially damaged a hill which was part of an historical object.

Satellite image showing the road R-259 bisecting an ancient Torgay geoglyph in Kazakhstan. Credit: Google Earth

Ancient geoglyphs are particularly vulnerable to damage. In 2014 Greenpeace environmental activists damaged the Nazca geoglyphs in Peru when they walked on the delicate archaeological site to install a huge cloth message urging the use of renewable energy. Squatters and animals also pose a major problem for Nazca conservationists.

Funding for research into the Torgay geoglyphs will be required if investigations and protections are to be accomplished.

Shalkar Adambekov told IBTimes UK , “It’s a complicated problem. Kazakhstan is an obscure country and no one knows much about it. It’s not floating in world news, as a result few people know what’s going on there. That’s one part of the problem. Financing is another thing. Archaeology as I understand is not very well funded and Kazakhstan is a developing country ... If we could attract more financing that would be great.”

Ronald Laporte, professor emeritus in epidemiology, is pressing to have the ancient geoglyphs secured and protected. “So little is known about them,” he told IBTimes.

“Our ancestors must have spent so much time building them that there had to have been an important function to their lives. Understanding these better is essential to understanding our own history, especially in Kazakhstan with a nomadic population – why would they spend all these years building and going back and forth? In terms of the history of mankind, they mean something very important but they just haven't been investigated,” he said.

The geoglyphs are thougth to be between 3,000 and 7,000 years old. Credit: Google Earth/discovery.turgay.kz

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In the ancient past of Kazakhstan societies were nomadic, so it is not yet understood why, or how, people constantly on the move would stop to build such large-scale, permanent creations. It is thought the geoglyphs served religious purposes and might have been used for funeral ceremonies. They might also have served as family or tribal symbols, or were a means of marking ownership of the land.

Some scientists believe they are linked to the heavens with some representing constellations in the night sky. Other experts believe that the lines played a role in pilgrimage, with one walking across them to reach a sacred place. Yet another idea is that the lines are connected with water, something vital to life yet hard to get in the desert, and may have played a part in water-based rituals.

Archaeological excavations at the Kazakhstan geoglyphs revealed the remains of structures and hearths, suggesting that rituals took place there.

A square geoglyph with cross pattern in Torgay, Kazakhstan. Credit: Google Earth

Research was presented last year at the Forum of the European Association of Archaeologists in Istanbul. The cultural and historic value associated with the geoglyphs has prompted some scientists to put them on par with international sites such as the pyramids of Egypt, and Central American, and Britain’s Stonehenge.

Featured Image: The spectacular ancient geoglyphs of Kazakhstan are in geometric patterns, including circles, squares, and a swastika. Credit: Google Earth

By Liz Leafloor


The Terrifying Warning Lurking in the Earth’s Ancient Rock Record

Brendan Pattengale is a photographer who explores how color can convey emotions in an image. In his photo illustrations throughout this article, the colors of the original photos have been adjusted, but the images are otherwise unaltered.

This article was published online on February 3, 2021.

Updated at 1:53 p.m. ET on February 11, 2021.

We live on a wild planet, a wobbly, erupting, ocean-sloshed orb that careens around a giant thermonuclear explosion in the void. Big rocks whiz by overhead, and here on the Earth’s surface, whole continents crash together, rip apart, and occasionally turn inside out, killing nearly everything. Our planet is fickle. When the unseen tug of celestial bodies points Earth toward a new North Star, for instance, the shift in sunlight can dry up the Sahara, or fill it with hippopotamuses. Of more immediate interest today, a variation in the composition of the Earth’s atmosphere of as little as 0.1 percent has meant the difference between sweltering Arctic rainforests and a half mile of ice atop Boston. That negligible wisp of the air is carbon dioxide.

Since about the time of the American Civil War, CO2’s crucial role in warming the planet has been well understood. And not just based on mathematical models: The planet has run many experiments with different levels of atmospheric CO2. At some points in the Earth’s history, lots of CO2 has vented from the crust and leaped from the seas, and the planet has gotten warm. At others, lots of CO2 has been hidden away in the rocks and in the ocean’s depths, and the planet has gotten cold. The sea level, meanwhile, has tried to keep up—rising and falling over the ages, with coastlines racing out across the continental shelf, only to be drawn back in again. During the entire half-billion-year Phanerozoic eon of animal life, CO2 has been the primary driver of the Earth’s climate. And sometimes, when the planet has issued a truly titanic slug of CO2 into the atmosphere, things have gone horribly wrong.

Today, atmospheric CO2 sits at 410 parts per million, a higher level than at any point in more than 3 million years. And humans are injecting more CO2 into the atmosphere at one of the fastest rates ever. When hucksters tell you that the climate is always changing, they’re right, but that’s not the good news they think it is. “The climate system is an angry beast,” the late Columbia climate scientist Wally Broecker was fond of saying, “and we are poking it with sticks.”

The beast has only just begun to snarl. All of recorded human history—at only a few thousand years, a mere eyeblink in geologic time—has played out in perhaps the most stable climate window of the past 650,000 years. We have been shielded from the climate’s violence by our short civilizational memory, and our remarkably good fortune. But humanity’s ongoing chemistry experiment on our planet could push the climate well beyond those slim historical parameters, into a state it hasn’t seen in tens of millions of years, a world for which Homo sapiens did not evolve.

When there’s been as much carbon dioxide in the air as there already is today—not to mention how much there’s likely to be in 50 or 100 years—the world has been much, much warmer, with seas 70 feet higher than they are today. Why? The planet today is not yet in equilibrium with the warped atmosphere that industrial civilization has so recently created. If CO2 stays at its current levels, much less steadily increases, it will take centuries—even millennia—for the planet to fully find its new footing. The transition will be punishing in the near term and the long term, and when it’s over, Earth will look far different from the one that nursed humanity. This is the grim lesson of paleoclimatology: The planet seems to respond far more aggressively to small provocations than it’s been projected to by many of our models.

To truly appreciate the coming changes to our planet, we need to plumb the history of climate change. So let us take a trip back into deep time, a journey that will begin with the familiar climate of recorded history and end in the feverish, high-CO2 greenhouse of the early age of mammals, 50 million years ago. It is a sobering journey, one that warns of catastrophic surprises that may be in store.

The first couple of steps back in time won’t take us to a warmer world—but they will illuminate just what sort of ill-tempered planet we’re dealing with. As we pull back even slightly from the span of recorded history—our tiny sliver of geologic time—we’ll notice almost at once that the entire record of human civilization is perched at the edge of a climate cliff. Below is a punishing ice age. As it turns out, we live on an ice-age planet, one marked by the swelling and disintegration of massive polar ice sheets in response to tiny changes in sunlight and CO2 levels. Our current warmer period is merely one peak in a mountain range, with each summit an interglacial springtime like today, and each valley floor a deep freeze. It takes some doing to escape this cycle, but with CO2 as it is now, we won’t be returning to an ice age for the foreseeable future. And to reach analogues for the kind of warming we’ll likely see in the coming decades and centuries, we will need to move beyond the past 3 million years of ice ages entirely, and make drastic jumps back into the alien Earths of tens of millions of years ago. Our future may come to resemble these strange lost worlds.

Before we move more dramatically backwards in time, let us briefly pause over the history of civilization, and then some. Ten thousand years ago, the big mammals had just vanished, at human hands, in Eurasia and the Americas. Steppes once filled with mammoths and camels and wetlands stocked with giant beavers were suddenly, stunningly vacant.

The coastlines that civilization presumes to be eternal were still far beyond today’s horizon. But the seas were rising. The doomed vestiges of mile-thick ice sheets that had cloaked a third of North American land were retreating to the far corners of Canada, chased there by tundra and taiga. The roughly 13 quintillion gallons of meltwater these ice sheets would hemorrhage, in a matter of millennia, raised the sea level hundreds of feet, leaving coral reefs that had been bathed in sunlight under shallow waves now drowned in the deep.

By 9,000 years ago, humans in the Fertile Crescent, China, Mexico, and the Andes had independently developed agriculture and—after 200,000 years of wandering—had begun to stay put. Sedentary settlements started to blossom. Humans, with a surfeit of calories, began to divide their labor, and artisans plied new arts. The Earth’s oldest cities, such as Jericho, were bustling.

It’s easy to forget that the Earth—cozy, pastoral, familiar—is nevertheless a celestial body, and astronomy still has a vote in earthly affairs. Every 20,000 years or so the planet swivels about its axis, and 10,000 years ago, at civilization’s first light, the Earth’s top half was aimed toward the sun during the closest part of its orbit—an arrangement today enjoyed by the Southern Hemisphere. The resulting Northern-summer warmth turned the Sahara green. Lakes, hosting hippos, crocodiles, turtles, and buffalo, speckled North Africa, Arabia, and everywhere in between. Lake Chad, which today finds itself overtaxed and shrinking toward oblivion, was “Mega-Chad,” a 115,000-square-mile freshwater sea that sprawled across the continent. Beneath the Mediterranean today, hundreds of dark mud layers alternate with whiter muck, a barcode that marks the Sahara’s rhythmic switching from lush green to continent-spanning desert.

Imprinted on top of this cycle were the last gasps of an ice age that had gripped the planet for the previous 100,000 years. The Earth was still thawing, and amid the final approach of the rising tides, enormous plains and forests like Doggerland—a lowland that had joined mainland Europe to the British Isles—were abandoned by nomadic humans and offered to the surging seas. Vast islands like Georges Bank, 75 miles off Massachusetts—which once held mastodons and giant ground sloths—saw their menagerie overtaken. Scallop draggers still pull up their tusks and teeth today, far offshore.

By 5,000 years ago, as humanity was emerging from its unlettered millennia, the ice had stopped melting and oceans that had been surging for 15,000 years finally settled on modern shorelines. Sunlight had waned in the Northern summer, and rains drifted south toward the equator again. The green Sahara began to die, as it had many times before. Hunter-fisher-gatherers who for thousands of years had littered the verdant interior of North Africa with fishhooks and harpoon points abandoned the now-arid wastelands, and gathered along the Nile. The age of pharaohs began.

By geologic standards, the climate has been remarkably stable ever since, until the sudden warming of the past few decades. That’s unsettling, because history tells us that even local, trivial climate misadventures during this otherwise peaceful span can help bring societies to ruin. In fact, 3,200 years ago, an entire network of civilizations—a veritable globalized economy—fell apart when minor climate chaos struck.

“There is famine in [our] house we will all die of hunger. If you do not quickly arrive here, we ourselves will die of hunger. You will not see a living soul from your land.” This letter was sent between associates at a commercial firm in Syria with outposts spread across the region, as cities from the Levant to the Euphrates fell. Across the Mediterranean and Mesopotamia, dynasties that had ruled for centuries were all collapsing. The mortuary-temple walls of Ramses III—the last great pharaoh of Egypt’s New Kingdom period—speak of waves of mass migration, over land and sea, and warfare with mysterious invaders from afar. Within decades the entire Bronze Age world had collapsed.

Historians have advanced many culprits for the breakdown, including earthquakes and rebellions. But like our own teetering world—one strained by souring trade relations, with fractious populaces led by unsteady, unscrupulous leaders and now stricken by plague—the eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean were ill-prepared to accommodate the deteriorating climate. While one must resist environmental determinism, it is nevertheless telling that when the region mildly cooled and a centuries-long drought struck around 1200 B.C., this network of ancient civilizations fell to pieces. Even Megiddo, the biblical site of Armageddon, was destroyed.

The Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon in Iceland

This same story is told elsewhere, over and over, throughout the extremely mild stretch of time that is written history. The Roman empire’s imperial power was vouchsafed by centuries of warm weather, but its end saw a return to an arid cold—perhaps conjured by distant pressure systems over Iceland and the Azores. In A.D. 536, known as the worst year to be alive, one of Iceland’s volcanoes exploded, and darkness descended over the Northern Hemisphere, bringing summer snow to China and starvation to Ireland. In Central America several centuries later, when the reliable band of tropical rainfall that rings the Earth left the Mayan lowlands and headed south, the megalithic civilization above it withered. In North America, a megadrought about 800 years ago made ancestral Puebloans abandon cliffside villages like Mesa Verde, as Nebraska was swept by giant sand dunes and California burned. In the 15th century, a 30-year drought bookended by equally unhelpful deluges brought the Khmer at Angkor low. The “hydraulic empire” had been fed and maintained by an elaborate irrigation system of canals and reservoirs. But when these canals ran dry for decades, then clogged with rains, invaders easily toppled the empire in 1431, and the Khmer forfeited their temples to the jungle.


How AI Helped Decode Ancient Geoglyphic Etchings In Peru

Trapezoids, triangles and many other geometric shapes — that’s what one would see if they flew a drone over the high desert in Peru, South America. These giant geometric figures resemble birds, insects and other living beings.

These are the famous Nazca lines which were discovered in the 1920s. In total, there are over 800 straight lines and 300 geometric figures. Archaeologists have been studying these lines ever since their discovery and still continue to do so till date.

In the last decade or so, researchers from Japan’s Yamagata University alone have discovered more than 100 new geoglyphs. Now, they have joined hands with tech giant IBM to make use of artificial intelligence and identify geoglyphs more efficiently.

Ever since their discovery, these geoglyphs have been subject to many theories. While few archaeologists connect the dots between astronomical observations and lines, the others spark up theories on aliens and other supernatural forces.

Studying these etchings from the ground is difficult, and this hampered the research in their early days. Today, researchers from around the world work for years to identify the hidden markings on the land.

How AI Plays A Role

A research team led by Professor Masato Sakai (Cultural anthropology, Andean archaeology) at Yamagata University discovered 142 new geoglyphs which depict people, animals and other beings, at the Nazca Pampa.

The biomorphic geoglyphs are thought to date back to at least 100 BC to AD 300. Additionally, in a feasibility study carried out from 2018 to 2019 together with IBM Japan, the university discovered one new geoglyph by developing an AI model on the AI server IBM Power System AC922 configured with the deep learning platform IBM Watson Machine Learning Community Edition (formerly known as IBM PowerAI).

AI Speeds Up The Process

Nazca lines in Peru are one of those discoveries that spark out various conspiracy theories ranging from aliens to supernatural beings. This specific region in Peru got its reputation for having mysterious etchings on the land, the enormity of which, could be realised using a drone or trekking up a hill.

Ever since their discovery in the 1920s, these drawings or geoglyphs as they are named, have been under the scanner to decipher the ancient thought processes and other secrets. While previous methods have taken many years, using AI, the researchers could do it in two months.

The geoglyph spotted by AI tools is a human figure about five meters (16 feet) tall. IBM Japan Scientists from Japan have used machine learning for the first time to identify a new figure among the ancient motifs of Peru’s Nazca Lines.

The illustration, known as a geoglyph, is thought to date to between 100 BC and 500 AD, and was made by removing the dark stones of the Nazca Desert to reveal the white sand beneath.

It is small, just five meters in height (shown above), and it shows a humanoid figure grasping a cane or club. Like the other drawings in the Nazca Desert, its exact function is unknown, but its discovery next to an ancient path suggests it might have been used as a waypoint. It is in an area that we often investigated, but we did not know the geoglyph existed.

So far, satellite-based or drone-based remote hyperspectral sensing and imagery have helped researchers discover hundreds of these figures.

Today scientists are looking to work more efficiently and improve their ability to find and study new geoglyphs. For this, researchers from Yamagata joined hands with IBM to make use of IBM PAIRS Geoscope platform and AI.

PAIRS GEOSCOPE is a platform, specifically designed for processing massive geospatial-temporal data (maps, satellite, weather, drone, IoT). This platform was also used for crop identification, irrigation management, as well as monitoring vegetation growth around power lines to reduce the risk of outages.

IBM made its platform widely available in February, and its customers have already begun to use it to help improve how multiple sources of data can be integrated to benefit large-scale operations.

Uncovering the formations at the Nazca is a difficult task. The above picture is what an aerial shot of one region in Peru looks like. Unless suggested, it is difficult to identify the presence of any geometric figure.

So. identifying usually takes years but with the help of IBM, researchers could do the same in a few months.

For Yamagata’s research, the geoscope and AI offer the unique ability to analyse massive datasets from a number of sources, including layers of LiDAR data along with drone images, satellite visuals and geographical survey information, to help reveal new lines and formations.

Conventional archaeological practices would require a significantly longer time to integrate different types of data, potentially adding months to the discovery process.

With PAIRS, these same tasks and analyses are expected to take minutes.

Future Direction

The exact purpose of the geoglyphs is still unknown. When the American professor Paul Kosok was investigating these geoglyphs back in the 1940s, he caught the sunset to be in direct alignment with the line. Kosok called the 310 square mile stretch of the high desert “the largest astronomy book in the world”.

Later, the German, Maria Reiche, studied these lines for 40 years and fought unyieldingly for her theories on the lines’ astronomical and calendrical purpose. She had to battle it out to save the site from destruction for lack of awareness.

Ancient art is a window into the culture and methods of our ancestors and preserving such sites becomes crucial as the on-site research usually takes decades of study.

By imbibing deep learning algorithms into archaeological studies, the researchers hope to speed up the process and uncover more mysteries.

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The Nazca Lines

There are certain sites in the world that inspire intense curiosity about their origins, like the Stonehenge formation or the statues on Easter Island. These ancient human-made structures cause us to wonder what was in the minds of those who created them, what purpose did they serve? Another intriguing example of this type of site is the Nazca Lines of Peru, an extensive set of patterns drawn into the Nazca Desert over 1,500 years ago.

Making a Good Impression

The Nazca Lines are a series of negative geoglyphs—patterns drawn on the ground by adding (positive) or removing (negative) stones or soil. Other examples of geoglyphs include labyrinths, burial mounds known as intaglios, and so-called “hill figures”—shapes cut into hillsides to reveal the chalk beneath, most often found in England (such as the Uffington White Horse).

The term “Nazca Lines” refers collectively to hundreds of large designs drawn on the surface of the Nazca Desert. They’re thought to have been created between 200 BCE and 600 CE by the Nazca, a culture known for its distinctive pottery and intricate textiles. This desert, an arid plateau located between the Andes and the coast of Peru, has a very particular topography and climate that allowed for both the construction and the preservation of the figures.

Instead of a sandy surface, the Nazca Desert floor is covered in a layer of pebbles made red through oxidation. Various designs, ranging from straight lines and geometric forms to intricate figures of animals, insects, and humans, were created by removing these pebbles, exposing the lighter-color soil beneath. The lack of wind and rain in the area meant that these figures were not disturbed since their creation thousands of years ago until they were rediscovered in the modern era.

Eyes in the Sky

A curious trait of the Nazca Lines is that they are difficult to identify from the ground given their tremendous scale, they are much more recognizable from above. Thus it was not until the 1920s, when airplanes began flying over the area, that they were seen in their full aspect. This peculiarity led scientists and amateurs alike to ponder both the how and the why of these formations: How did the Nazca people create these large-scale designs without seeing them from above, and why would they have created them this way in the first place?

An early attempt to answer these questions came from Paul Kosok, an American archeologist, and his one-time assistant, Maria Reiche. Kosok, and Reiche after him, believed that the lines were a type of astronomical calendar, showing the alignment of different planets and stars as they rose above the horizon.

Reiche, who took over the study and mapping of the lines after Kosok left the project in 1948, eventually became its premiere advocate and guardian. Born in Germany and educated in mathematics, geography, and languages, Maria Reiche first went to Peru in 1932 to work for the German consul in Cuzco as a nanny and teacher for his children. She began working with Kosok in 1940, and spent the rest of her life preserving and studying the lines, until her death in 1998.

Although the astronomical calendar theory has raised doubts—including the observation that the multitude of lines and their varying orientations could be found to correspond with almost any trajectory and the fact that astronomical alignments have changed with time—Reiche made a huge contribution to the study of the lines. Her advocacy brought heightened attention to their existence, and resulted in their designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.

Alien Flight Forms

Reiche believed that the Nazca had created the lines using grids, making smaller versions of the drawings and then transposing them onto a larger design. She even found markings she believed showed this initial process near some of the figures. Although the use of this method cannot be confirmed, there is evidence that the Nazca used some form of surveying technique in their production of the designs. Wooden pegs, dated to the time of the Nazca, have been found near the ends of long lines, implying they were used as markers of some kind.

The Nazca were very able weavers, and this ability could have translated into general pattern-making facility as well. Also, there is a similarity between figures they used on their pottery and some of the geoglyph forms. This seems to indicate their aptitude and predisposition to be the creators of the figures.

Nevertheless, some have publicly doubted the Nazca’s ability to create such works, given their earthbound perspective. Chief among these doubters is the Swiss author and UFO theorist, Erich von Däniken (of Mystery Park fame), who claimed in his 1968 book, Chariots of the Gods, that the Nazca Lines were in fact landing strips for alien spacecraft.

Another attempt to explain how the Nazca could have created the lines, when they are only fully visible from the air, was made by Jim Woodman in the late 1970s. He believed that the Nazca could have constructed basic hot air balloons, using materials available to them, in order to survey their designs from above. To prove this point, Woodman and balloonist Julian Nott set out to create a prototype of such a balloon and to attempt flight. They created a balloon out of cotton fabric, inflated it using only the heat from a wood fire, and attached a reed basket to it as their gondola. They did manage to get airborne, but this success does not prove that the Nazca did so too.

In response to this kind of speculation, Joe Nickell of the University of Kentucky set out to reproduce one of the Nazca figures (a 440-foot-long [about 130m] condor) without recourse to aerial observation. With the help of friends and family, and using a method of measuring points on a smaller version of the design to corresponding points on the larger design, in a matter of days he succeeded in producing a close likeness of the Nazca condor, sketched out in white lime on a Kentucky field.

Walk the Lines

While most scholars now believe the lines were created by the Nazca, most likely without aid from above, the question of their purpose remains unanswered. What was the motivation for this huge undertaking?

Given their size and their complete visibility from the air, the lines may have served some religious purpose, made for the benefit of celestial beings. The recent discovery of the ancient town of Cahuachi, located near the lines, lends credence to this theory. Archeologists studying the site believe that the town was a pilgrimage center to which people would come before visiting the lines.

Although there is no record of how the lines might have served in religious ritual, some now believe that ancient pilgrims might have walked along the lines as a show of devotion to a particular sacred entity, much as labyrinths were used in medieval cathedrals in Europe, and to a certain extent today.

Some people believe that the lines correlate with underground water sources, a key piece of knowledge in such an arid environment the religious ritual might even have pertained to ensuring adequate water supplies in this drought-prone area.

Keep Off the Beaten Track

Whatever their purpose, for the first time in their long history, the Nazca Lines are now threatened with serious defacement. Although prohibited, there has been extensive foot and vehicular traffic over the lines in recent years, particularly by looters stealing artifacts from the ancient tombs in the area. Also contributing to the problem is increased tourist activity and the nearby Pan-American Highway.

After the environmentalist group Greenpeace staged a protest near one of the formations in 2014, damaging it in the process, Peru received a grant from the United States to better study and preserve the Nazca lines. As part of that initiative, new drone and mapping technology revealed the presence of 50 previously unknown geoglyphs, thought to be the work of an earlier civilization than the one which created the already-known formations.

This is an encouraging development, and brings hope that the situation can be turned around and the Nazca lines can be protected. It would be truly unfortunate for these fascinating structures to be lost after resisting destruction for so many centuries.

After all, they are not only a part of the rich cultural heritage of the area—which also includes the remains of the great Inca empire—but they offer a unique chance to put oneself into the minds of those who lived so long ago. This is what makes the Nazca Lines so fascinating for modern folk: their inscrutable mystery, which has lasted over the course of centuries.

Note: This is an updated version of an article that originally appeared on Interesting Thing of the Day on July 5, 2006.


Celtic Lore: Cauldrons – The Magical, the Mythical and the Real

This article was first published on #FolkloreThursday on 11th February 2021, titled , “Ancient Celtic Cauldrons: The Magical, the Mythical, the Real,” by zteve t evans.

Cauldrons

In the ancient mythologies of the Welsh and Irish Celts, the cauldron played an important role in some of their most enduring stories and myths. In these, they were often attributed with magical properties but in the everyday life of the Celts, they were also very useful and versatile utensils. Here we take a brief look at the everyday usage of cauldrons followed by a look at five mythical cauldrons. To conclude we will discuss one real, very ancient and very special cauldron found in a bog in Denmark.

The Cauldron of Ceridwen

One of their most famous cauldrons was the cauldron of knowledge, inspiration, and rebirth. It belonged to a sorceress named Ceridwen. She used her cauldron to brew a potion that would imbue knowledge and wisdom to whoever drank of it, yet she intended it solely for her son. The concoction had to be boiled and stirred for a year and a day. She tasked a blind man named Morda with the job of feeding the fire, and a boy named Gwion Bach with stirring the brew. Many people see the continuous stirring of the cauldron as blending the attributes of divine wisdom and inspiration with the eternal cycle of life, death, and rebirth to create the perfect brew of existence.

The Gundestrup Cauldron

The Gundestrup cauldron is most spectacular of real ancient Celtic cauldrons so far recovered, dated to the Iron Age. It is made of silver and beautifully and intricately decorated with many fine images. The silversmiths are unknown, but in those days few craftsmen could produce such craftsmanship in silver. They may not even have been Celts, but the best available craftsmen at the time. However, because of the Celtic iconography, it displays it was thought to have been commissioned by an unknown, high-ranking Celt, probably for purely ceremonial purposes. The imagery was believed to express one or more Celtic myths, and possibly display several deities mixed with other images of a different style.

The Importance of Cauldrons

Many scholars think in Celtic times people came together around a cauldron to engage in the enjoyable, sociable activity of eating. The Gundestrup cauldron, being made of silver, was probably not used for cooking on a fire, but may have held pre-cooked food or drink or was purely ceremonial.


The Nasca Lines: Ancient Marks in Peruvian Desert Remain a Mystery

[From The Epoch Times] On a lonely stretch of the Pan-American Highway, 275 miles south of Lima, Peru, lies a town called Nasca. The town sits in the Pampa region, a desolate plain on the northern tip of the Atacama Desert. What makes this area unique is the Nasca Lines -- a spider's-web of lines and shapes crisscrossing 250 square miles of bone-dry desert. Their origin and purpose has baffled scientists and laymen alike since their "discovery" in the 1920s.

The Nasca Lines consist of trapezoids and spirals, giant animal and humanoid figures, and ruler-straight lines that stretch for miles. These lines and ground drawings, called "geoglyphs," are attributed to the Nasca race that populated this land between 200 B.C. and 600 A.D. They were created by removing the top layer of dark rock from the desert floor, revealing contrasting white-yellow sand. Interestingly, the drawings are best viewed and appreciated from the air.

Average rainfall in this desert is a half-inch a year. Widely recognized as the driest place on earth, the Atacama's Nasca Lines have been preserved for thousands of years.

When commercial airlines started flights over the Peruvian desert in the 1920s, pilots and passengers spoke of seeing "landing strips" crisscrossing the ground below. Stories of these mysterious lines soon spread. Many experts have since then attempted to unravel the puzzle of the desert drawings.

Dr. Paul Kosok came to the Nasca desert in the 1930s to study ancient irrigation channels. Initially, the Nasca Lines were thought to be remnants of these channels. Often traveling by foot, Dr. Kosok soon discovered large-scale drawings of animals and other objects. Over time, he theorized that the drawings represented a large astronomical chart.

In the mid-1940s, a German girl named Maria Reiche worked to further develop Dr. Kosock's astronomical theory. Her background in mathematics and astronomy enabled her to map and study the desert shapes. She noted that many lines aligned with important solstices, and discovered further correlations to the solar cycle. She found large drawings of a monkey, whale, spider and several birds. While painstakingly clearing, measuring and reproducing the lines on paper, she discovered a standard of measurement used by the ancient artists. In 1977, she published a book, Mystery On The Desert, summarizing her research of the Nasca Lines. She continued her research until her death in 1998.

Other experts had different theories. Toribio Nejia, a renowned Peruvian archaeologist, proposed the lines were sacred pathways, or "ceques," and the clearings used for ritual gatherings. Author Erich von Daniken made one of the more fanciful speculations in his book Chariots of the Gods? He speculated that the lines were laid out for alien spacecraft to land on the desert.

Although many theories abound to the purpose of these strange markings, there remains no consensus as to their meaning.

As these different researchers brought more attention to the Nasca Lines, the normally lonely desert was suddenly under threat. As she did years earlier when the lines were threatened by a government scheme to irrigate the arid pampa, Maria Reiche was able to spearhead an effort to preserve these unique markings by restricting crowds driving through the fragile terrain. In 1994, the Lines of Nasca were designated a World Heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

To this day, the Lines of Nasca remain a mysterious remnant from an ancient civilization.


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Contents

As a field of archaeology, Levantine archaeology encompasses excavations, salvage, conservation and reconstruction efforts, as well as off-site research, interpretation, and other scholarship. The geographical scope of Levantine archaeology includes the Hatay Province of Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and Cyprus. The terminology for archaeology in the Levant has been defined in various, often competing or overlapping ways. Prior to and during the period of the British Mandate in Palestine (1920–1948), archaeology of the region was typically described as Palestinian archaeology or Biblical archaeology. Under the influence of William F. Albright (1891–1971), biblical inquiry and narratives became increasingly important indeed, Albright conceived of Palestinian archaeology or Levantine archaeology as a sub-field of biblical archaeology. "The archaeology of ancient Israel," is described by Franken and Franken-Battershill as, "but a small part of the far greater study of Palestinian archaeology [. ]" in A Primer of Old Testament Archaeology (1963). [5] In a survey of North American dissertations, the overwhelming emphasis has been on the southern Levant. However it is only when considering the northern Levant alongside the southern that wider archaeological and historical questions can be addressed. [6]

While both Classical archaeology and Levantine archaeology deal with the same general region of study, the focus and approach of these interrelated disciplines differs. Even scholars who have continued to advocate a role for Classical archaeology have accepted the existence of a general branch of Levantine archaeology. [1] In addition, Classical archaeology may cover areas relevant to the Bible outside of the Levant (e.g., Egypt or Persia) and it takes into account the use and explanation of Biblical texts, which Levantine archaeologist ignore. Beyond its importance to the discipline of classical archaeology, the region of the Levant is critical for an understanding of the history of the earliest peoples of the Stone Age

In academic, political, and public settings, the region's archaeology can also be described in terms of ancient or modern Israel, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus, and the Hatay province of Turkey. Archaeologists may define the geographic range more narrowly, especially for inquiries that focus on 'Israel' or 'Palestine,' whether construed as ancient or modern territories. [7] The shifting terminology over the past 50 years reflects political tensions that operate within and upon the field.

Levantine archaeology in the 21st century has relegated biblical concerns to a less dominant position, functioning as a "big tent" incorporating multiple archaeological practices. [8] The Levant has displayed cultural continuity during most historical periods, leading to the increased study of the region as a whole. [6]

Temporal scope Edit

From prehistoric times through the Iron Age, chronological periods are usually named in keeping with technological developments that characterized that era. From the Babylonian era onward, naming is based on historical events. Scholars often disagree on the exact dates and terminology to be used for each period. [9] Some definitions for the temporal scope, particularly earlier on tended to exclude events after the Byzantine Period, [9] but the temporal scope of Levantine archaeology has expanded over the years. In 1982, James A. Sauer wrote that the Islamic periods (630-1918 CE) were part of Levantine archaeological research, and that while some periods had been "ignored, neglected, or even discarded for the sake of other periods," it is now "an almost universally accepted principle that archaeological evidence from all periods must be treated with equal care." [10]

Leslie J. Hoppe, writing in 1987, submits that Dever's definition of temporal scope of Levantine archaeology excludes the Early Arab period (640-1099), the Crusader period (1099–1291), the Mamluk period (1250–1517) and the Ottoman period (1517-1918). [11] However, Dever's definition of the temporal scope of the field in What Did the Biblical Writers Know, and When Did They Know It? (2001), indicates that Hoppe's critique is no longer valid. There, Dever writes that the time-frame of Levantine archaeology, "extends far beyond the 'biblical period,' embracing everything from the Lower Paleolithic to the Ottoman period." [12]

The list below, from the Paleolithic Age to the Byzantine period, is drawn from the definitions provided by the Mercer Dictionary of the Bible. [9] For periods thereafter, the terminology and dates come from Sauer and Hoppe.

  • Prehistory
      (Old Stone) Age = 1,500,000-14,000 BCE (Mesolithic, Middle Stone) Age = 14,000-8,000 BCE (New Stone) Age = 8,000-5,800 BCE (Copper Stone) Age = 5,800-3,700 BCE
      • Early Bronze (EB) Age = 3,700-2,500 BCE
      • EB IV/Intermediate Bronze (IB) (formerly EB IV/MB I) = 2,500-2,000 BCE
      • Middle Bronze (MB) Age = 2,200-1,550 BCE
        • MB I (formerly MB IIA) = 2,000-1,750 BCE
        • MB II(-III) (formerly MB IIB/C) = 1,750-1550 BCE
        • LB I = 1,550-1,400 BCE
        • LB II = 1,400-1,200 BCE
        • Iron I = 1,200-980 BCE
        • Iron IIA = 980-830 BCE
        • Iron IIB = 830-721 BCE
        • Iron IIC = 721-586 BCE
        • Early Hellenistic = 332-198 BCE
        • Late Hellenistic = 198-63 BCE
        • Early Roman = 63 BCE-135 CE
        • Late Roman = 135-324 CE
          = 640-1099 CE = 1099-1291 CE = 1250-1517 CE = 1517-1918 CE
      • Modern Palestinian archaeology began in the late 19th century. Early expeditions lacked standardized methods for excavation and interpretation, and were often little more than treasure-hunting expeditions. [13] A lack of awareness of the importance of stratigraphy in dating objects led to digging long trenches through the middle of a site that made work by later archaeologists more difficult. [13]

        Edward Robinson identified numerous sites from antiquity and published his findings with Eli Smith in a pivotal three-volume study entitled Biblical Researches in Palestine and the Adjacent Regions: Journal of Travels in the Year 1838. In Syria, Ernest Renan carried out research in the 1860s and Howard Crosby Butler of Princeton University carried out surveys of Byzantine Christian sites (1904–1909). [14] In the early 1900s, major projects were set up at Samaria, Gezer, Megiddo and Jericho. [14]

        An early school of modern Palestinian archaeology was led by William F. Albright, whose work focused on biblical narratives. [15] Albright himself held that Frederick Jones Bliss (1857–1939) was the father of Palestinian archaeology, although Bliss is not well known in the field. Jeffrey A. Blakely attributes this to Bliss' successor at the Palestine Exploration Fund, R.A.S. Macalister (1870–1950), who underplayed his predecessor's achievements. [16]

        While the importance of stratigraphy, typology and balk grew in the mid-twentieth century, the continued tendency to ignore hard data in favour of subjective interpretations invited criticism. Paul W. Lapp, for example, whom many thought would take up the mantle of Albright before his premature death in 1970, wrote:

        "Too much of Palestinian archaeology is an inflated fabrication [. ] Too often a subjective interpretation, not based on empirical stratigraphic observation, is used to demonstrate the validity of another subjective interpretation. We assign close dates to a group of pots on subjective typological grounds and go on to cite our opinion as independent evidence for similarly dating a parallel group. Too much of Palestinian archaeology's foundation building has involved chasing ad hominem arguments around in a circle." [17]

        In 1974, William Dever established the secular, non-biblical school of Syro-Palestinian archaeology and mounted a series of attacks on the very definition of biblical archaeology. Dever argued that the name of such inquiry should be changed to "archaeology of the Bible" or "archaeology of the Biblical period" to delineate the narrow temporal focus of Biblical archaeologists. [1] Frank Moore Cross, who had studied under Albright and had taught Dever, emphasized that in Albright's view, biblical archaeology was not synonymous with Palestinian archaeology, but rather that, "William Foxwell Albright regarded Palestinian archaeology or Levantine archaeology as a small, if important section of biblical archaeology. One finds it ironical that recent students suppose them interchangeable terms." [1] Dever agreed that the terms were not interchangeable, but claimed that "'Syro-Palestinian archaeology' is not the same as the 'biblical archaeology'. I regret to say that all who would defend Albright and 'biblical archaeology' on this ground, are sadly out of touch with reality in the field of archaeology." [18]

        In recent decades, the term Levantine archaeology has generally replaced Syro-Palestinian archaeology. Electronic database results reveal an "overwhelming adoption" of the term ‘Levant’ when compared to ‘Syria-Palestine’ for archaeological studies. [19] This is primarily due to the strong cultural and geographic continuity of the Levant, the northern sections of which were generally ignored in Syro-Palestinian archaeology. [20] Towards the end of the twentieth century, Palestinian archaeology and/or Levantine archaeology became a more interdisciplinary practice. Specialists in archaeozoology, archaeobotany, geology, anthropology and epigraphy now work together to produce essential environmental and non-environmental data in multidisciplinary projects. [21]

        Ceramics analysis Edit

        A central concern of Levantine archaeology since its genesis has been the study of ceramics. Whole pots and richly decorated pottery are uncommon in the Levant and the plainer, less ornate ceramic artifacts of the region have served the analytical goals of archaeologists, much more than those of museum collectors. [22] The ubiquity of pottery sherds and their long history of use in the region makes ceramics analysis a particularly useful sub-discipline of Levantine archaeology, used to address issues of terminology and periodization. Awareness of the value of pottery gained early recognition in a landmark survey conducted by Edward Robinson and Eli Smith, [22] whose findings were published in first two works on the subject: Biblical Researches in Palestine (1841) and Later Biblical Researches (1851). [23]

        Ceramics analysis in Levantine archaeology has suffered from insularity and conservatism, due to the legacy of what J.P Dessel and Alexander H. Joffe call "the imperial hubris of pan-optic 'Biblical Archaeology.'" The dominance of biblical archaeological approaches meant that the sub-discipline was cut off from other branches of ancient Near Eastern studies, apart from occasional references to Northwest Semitic epigraphy and Assyriology, [24] as exemplified in the Mesha Stele, the Sefire Stelae, and the Tel Dan Stele. [25]

        As a result, widely varying principles, emphases, and definitions are used to determine local typologies among archaeologists working in the region. Attempts to identify and bridge the gaps made some headway at the Durham conference, though it was recognized that agreement on a single method of ceramic analysis or a single definition of a type may not be possible. The solution proposed by Dessel and Joffe is for all archaeologists in the field to provide more explicit descriptions of the objects that they study. The more information provided and shared between those in related sub-disciplines, the more likely it is that they will be able to identify and understand the commonalities in the different typological systems. [26]

        Defining Phoenician Edit

        Levantine archaeology also includes the study of Phoenician culture, cosmopolitan in character and widespread in its distribution in the region. According to Benjamin Sass and Christoph Uehlinger, the questions of what is actually Phoenician and what is specifically Phoenician, in Phoenician iconography, constitute one well-known crux of Levantine archaeology. Without answers to these questions, the authors contend that research exploring the degree to which Phoenician art and symbolism penetrated into the different areas of Syria and Palestine will make little progress. [27]

        Arab Edit

        After the creation of independent Arab states in the region, national schools of archaeology were established in the 1960s. The research focus and perspective differs from that of Western archaeological approaches, tending to avoid both biblical studies and its connections to modern and ancient Israel, as well as its connections to the search for Western cultural and theological roots in the Holy Land. Concentrating on their own perspectives which are generally, though not exclusively oriented toward Islamic archaeology, Arab archaeologists have added a "vigorous new element to Syro-Palestinian archaeology." [28]

        British and European Edit

        European archaeologists also continue to excavate and research in the region, with many of these projects centered in Arab countries, primary among them Jordan and Syria, and to a lesser extent in Lebanon. The most significant British excavations include the Tell Nebi Mend site (Qadesh) in Syria and the Tell Iktanu and Tell es-Sa'adiyah sites in Jordan. Other notable European projects include Italian excavations at Tell Mardikh (Ebla) and Tell Meskene (Emar) in Syria, French participation in Ras Shamra (Ugarit) in Syria, French excavations at Tell Yarmut and German excavations at Tell Masos (both in Israel), and Dutch excavations Tell Deir 'Alla in Jordan. [28]

        Italian archaeologists were the first to undertake joint missions with Palestinian archaeologists in the West Bank, which were possible only after the signing of the Oslo Accords. The first joint project was conducted in Jericho and coordinated by Hamdan Taha, director of the Palestinian Antiquities Department and the University of Rome "La Sapienza", represented by Paolo Matthiae, the same archeologist who discovered the site of Ebla in 1964. Unlike the joint missions between Americans and Jordanians, this project involved Italians and Palestinians digging at the same holes, side by side. [29]

        Israeli Edit

        Jewish interest in archaeology dates to the beginnings of the Zionist movement and the founding of the Jewish Palestine Exploration Society in 1914. Excavations at this early stage focused on sites related to the Bible and ancient Jewish history and included Philistine sites in Afula and Nahariya, as well as a second- to fourth-century village at Beth She'arim and a synagogue in Bet Alpha. [30] Early archaeological pioneers in 1920s and 1930s included Nahman Avigad, Michael Avi-Yonah, Ruth Amiran, Immanuel Ben-Dor, Avraham Biran, Benjamin Mazar, E.L. Sukenik, and Shmuel Yeivin.

        By the 1950s, in contrast to the religious motivations of Biblical archaeologists, Israeli archaeology developed as a secular discipline motivated in part by the nationalistic desire to affirm the link between the modern, nascent Israeli nation-state and the ancient Jewish population of the land. Paleolithic archaeology was of little interest, nor was archaeology of Christian and Muslim periods. [31] Yigael Yadin, the pioneer of the Israeli School of archaeology, excavated some of the most important sites in the region, including the Qumran Caves, Masada, Hazor and Tel Megiddo. Yadin's world view was that the identity of modern Israel was directly tied to the revolutionary past of the ancient Jewish population of the region. He therefore focused much of his work on excavating sites related to previous periods of Israelite nationalistic struggles: Hazor, which he associated with the conquest of Canaan by Joshua in c. 1250 BCE, and Masada, the site where Jewish rebels held out against the Romans in 72-73 CE. [32] Masada was extensively excavated by a team led by Yadin from 1963 to 1965 and became a monument symbolizing the will of the new Israeli state to survive. [31]

        Today, Israeli universities have respected archaeology departments and institutes involved in research, excavation, conservation and training. Notable contemporary archaeologists include Eilat Mazar, Yoram Tsafrir, Ronny Reich, Ehud Netzer, Adam Zertal, Yohanan Aharoni, Eli Shukron, Gabriel Barkay, Israel Finkelstein, Yizhar Hirschfeld, and many more.

        North American Edit

        Apart from Israeli archaeologists, Americans make up the largest group of archaeologists working in Israel. [28] Joint American-Jordanian excavations have been conducted, but Nicolo Marchetti, an Italian archaeologist, says they do not constitute genuine collaboration: "[. ] you might find, at a site, one hole with Jordanians and 20 holes with Americans digging in them. After the work, usually it's the Americans who explain to the Jordanians what they've found." [29]

        Palestinian Edit

        The involvement of Palestinians as practitioners in the study of Palestinian archaeology is relatively recent. The Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land notes that, "The 1990s have seen the development of Palestinian archaeological activities, with a focus on tell archaeology on the one hand (H. Taha and M. Sadeq) and on the investigation of the indigenous landscape and cultural heritage on the other (K. Nashef and M. Abu Khalaf)." [33]

        The Palestinian Archaeology Institute at Bir Zeit University in Ramallah was established in 1987 with the help of Albert Glock, who headed the archaeology department at the University at the time. [34] Glock's objective was to establish an archaeological program that would emphasize the Palestinian presence in Palestine, informed by his belief that, "Archaeology, as everything else, is politics, and my politics [are those] of the losers." [35] Glock was killed in the West Bank by unidentified gunmen in 1992. The first archaeological site excavated by researchers from Bir Zeit University was undertaken in Tell Jenin in 1993. [36]

        Glock's views are echoed in the work of Khaled Nashef, a Palestinian archaeologist at Bir Zeit and editor of the University's Journal of Palestinian Archaeology, who writes that for too long the history of Palestine has been written by Christian and Israeli "biblical archaeologists", and that Palestinians must themselves re-write that history, beginning with the archaeological recovery of ancient Palestine. [37] Such a perspective can also be seen in the practices of Hamdan Taha, the director of the Palestinian National Authority's Department of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage, responsible for overseeing preservation and excavation projects that involve both internationals and Palestinians. Gerrit van der Kooij, an archaeologist at Leiden University in the Netherlands who works with Taha, says that, "It doesn't surprise me that outsiders become frustrated [. Taha] sticks by his policy of equal partnership. That means Palestinians must be involved at every step," from planning and digging to publishing. In Van der Kooij's opinion, this policy is "fully justified and adds more social value to the project." [38]

        Dever submits that the recent insistence that Palestinian archaeology and history be written by "real Palestinians" stems from the influence of those he terms the "biblical revisionists", such as Keith W. Whitelam, Thomas L. Thompson, Phillip Davies and Niels Peter Lemche. Whitelam's book, The Invention of Ancient Israel: The Silencing of Palestinian History (1996) and Thompson's book, The Mythic Past: Biblical Archaeology and the Myth of Israel (1999) were both translated into Arabic shortly after their publication. Dever speculates that, "Nashef and many other Palestinian political activists have obviously read it." Harshly critical of both books, Dever describes Whitelam's thesis that Israelis and "Jewish-inspired Christians" invented Israel, thus deliberately robbing Palestinians of their history, as "extremely inflammatory" and "bordering on anti-Semitism", and Thompson's book as "even more rabid." [37]

        Dever cites an editorial by Nashef published in the Journal of Palestinian Archaeology in July 2000 entitled, "The Debate on 'Ancient Israel': A Palestinian Perspective", that explicitly names the four "biblical revisionists" mentioned above, as evidence for his claim that their "rhetoric" has influenced Palestinian archaeologists. [37] In the editorial itself, Nashef writes: "The fact of the matter is, the Palestinians have something completely different to offer in the debate on 'ancient Israel,' which seems to threaten the ideological basis of BAR (the American popular magazine, Biblical Archaeology Review, which turned down this piece - WGD): they simply exist, and they have always existed on the soil of Palestine . " [37]

        According to the Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Tourism and Antiquity, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip there are 12,000 archaeological and cultural heritage sites, 60,000 traditional houses, 1,750 major sites of human settlement, and 500 sites which have been excavated to date, 60 of which are major sites. [39]

        For the last 3,500 years, Gaza's history has been shaped by its location on the route linking North Africa to the fertile land of the Levant to the north. First strategically important to the Egyptian Pharaohs, it remained so for the many empires who sought to wield power in the region that followed. Gerald Butt, historian and author of Gaza at the Crossroads, explains that, "It's found itself the target of constant sieges - constant battles [. ] The people have been subject to rule from all over the globe. Right through the centuries Gaza's been at the centre of the major military campaigns in the Eastern Mediterranean." [40] Gaza's main highway, the Salah al-Din Road, is one of the oldest in the world, and has been traversed by the chariots of the armies of the Pharaohs and Alexander the Great, the cavalry of the Crusaders, and Napoleon Bonaparte. [40]

        Having long been overlooked in archaeological research, the number of excavations in the Gaza Strip has multiplied since the establishment in 1995 of the Department of Antiquities in Gaza, a branch of the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities of the Palestinian National Authority. [39] [40] Plans to build a national archaeological museum also promise to highlight the rich history of Gaza City, which has been described as, "one of the world's oldest living cities." [40] Rapid urban development makes the need for archaeological research all the more urgent to protect the region's archaeological heritage. [39] Population pressure in the tiny Gaza Strip is intense, which means that numerous potential archaeological sites may have been built over and lost. According to specialists, there is much more under ground and under the sea than what has been discovered to date. [40]

        Notable findings and sites Edit

        Anthedon Edit

        Joint archaeological excavations by the Palestinian Department of Antiquities and the École Biblique et Archéologique Française began in the Beach refugee camp in Gaza in 1995. Various artifacts dating back as far as 800 BCE include high walls, pottery, warehouses and mud-brick houses with colorful frescoed walls. Archaeologists believe the site may be Anthedon (Antidon), a major Hellenistic seaport on the Mediterranean which connected Asia and Africa to Europe. [39] [40]

        Christian sites Edit

        A 6th-century Byzantine church was discovered in 1999 by an Israeli archaeologist on the site of an IDF military installation in the northwestern tip of the Gaza Strip. The well-preserved 1,461-year-old church contains three large and colorful mosaics with floral-motifs and geometric shapes. [41] The most impressive of these is a multi-colored medallion at the entrance to the church. Inscribed therein is the name of the church, St. John, (named for John the Baptist), the names of the mosaic's donors, Victor and Yohanan, and the date of the laying of the church's foundations (544 CE). [41] Also found nearby were a Byzantine hot bath and artificial fishponds. [41]

        Palestinian archaeologists have also discovered a number of sites of significance to Christianity. At Tell Umm el ‘Amer in 2001, a Byzantine-era mosaic was unearthed. Experts believe it forms part of the oldest monastic complex ever to be discovered in the Middle East, likely founded in the 3rd century by Saint Hilario. [42] While the archaeologists working at the site are Muslim Palestinians, they see nothing unusual about their desire to protect and promote a Christian shrine in an area inhabited by only 3,500 Christians today. Said Yasser Matar, co-director of the dig: "This is our history this is our civilisation and we want our people to know about it [. ] First we were Christians and later we became Muslims. These people were our forefathers: the ancient Palestinians." [43] Dr. Moin Sadeq, director general of the Department of Antiquities in Gaza, [41] has submitted an application to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to assign it World Heritage Site status and fund the site's protection, restoration and rehabilitation for visitors. [43] Another Byzantine era monastery and mosaic, since named the 'Jabalya Mosaic', was excavated by the Palestinian Department of Antiquities after its discovery by labourers working on Salah ad-Din road in Gaza City. [39]

        Tell es-Sakan Edit

        Tell es-Sakan is the only Early Bronze Age site in Gaza discovered to date. Located five kilometers south of Gaza City, the site was discovered by chance in 1998 during construction for a new housing complex, and work was halted to allow archaeological soundings to be conducted. [39] The site spans an area of eight to twelve hectares and shows evidence of continuous habitation throughout the Early Bronze Age (3,300 to 2,200 BCE). [44] Joint Franco-Palestinian excavations with UNDP support began in August 2000, covering an area of 1,400 square meters and revealed two main phases of occupation. Four strata at the base of the site reveal Protodynastic Egyptian settlement dating towards the end of the 4th millennium BCE, while middle and upper strata reveal Canaanite settlement during the 3rd millennium BCE. [39] [44]

        Challenges posed by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Edit

        In 1974, the IAA removed a sixth-century Byzantine mosaic from Gaza City, dubbed 'King David Playing the Lyre', which is now in the synagogue section of the Israel Museum. [41] According to Jerusalem Post, it is illegal for an occupying power to remove ancient artifacts from the land it occupies, but Israel maintains that the Palestinians have not been able to safeguard antiquities in the areas under their control, where looting is common. In the past, looted items have been sold to Israelis. Hananya Hizmi, deputy of Israel's Department of Antiquities in Judea and Samaria, explained, "Probably it was done to preserve the mosaic. Maybe there was an intention to return [the mosaic] and it didn't work out. I don't know why." [41]

        After the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, the West Bank was annexed by Jordan (1950), and archaeological excavations in the region were carried out by its Department of Antiquities, as had been the case throughout the British Mandate in Palestine. Made up of Muslim and Christian officials and headed by the British archaeologist Gerald Lankaster Harding until 1956, field archaeology was conducted primarily by foreigners. [45] Large-scale expeditions included those of the American Schools of Oriental Research at Tell Balata (1956–1964), the British School of Archaeology at Jericho (1952–1958), and the École Biblique at Tell el-Farah (1946–1960) and Khirbet Qumran (1951–1956). Rising nationalistic pressures led to Harding's dismissal in 1956 and thereafter, the Department of Antiquities was headed by Jordanian nationals. [45]

        After Israel took over the area during the 1967 war, all antiquities in the area came under the control of the Archaeological Staff Officer. [46] Though the Hague Convention prohibits the removal of cultural property from militarily occupied areas, both foreign and Israeli archaeologists mounted extensive excavations that have been criticized as overstepping the bounds of legitimate work to protect endangered sites. [46] Vast amounts of new archaeological data have been uncovered in these explorations, although critics say that "relatively little effort was made to preserve or protect archaeological remains from the later Islamic and Ottoman periods, which were of direct relevance to the areas Muslim inhabitants." [46]

        In the early 20th century, Palestinians focused on investigating Palestinian "material culture," as it relates to folklore and customs. In 1920, the Palestine Oriental Society was founded by, most prominently among them Tawfiq Canaan. The work of this society was more ethnographic and anthropological than archaeological. [45] Interest in archaeological fieldwork increased as West Bank universities emerged in the 1980s and cultivated a new approach to Palestinian archaeology. A new generation of Palestinians, like Albert Glock, introduced innovations to the field by studying Islamic and Ottoman period ruins in village contexts. [46]

        Notable findings and sites Edit

        Belameh Edit

        Belameh, located a little over one mile (1.6 km) south of Jenin, is an important Bronze Age site identified with the ancient city of Ibleam, one of the Palestinian cities mentioned in the Egyptian Royal Archive that was conquered by Thutmose III in the 15th century BCE. [47] [48] The location was called Belemoth during Roman-Byzantine times, and Castellum Beleismum in the Crusader sources. [49]

        The site was initially discovered by Victor Guérin in 1874, then by Gottlieb Schumacher in 1910, and Bellarmino Bagatti in 1974. [49] Later on, excavations in Khirbet Belameh, led by Hamdan Taha of the Palestinian Antiquities Department, began in 1996. [39] [48] These have focused on a water tunnel carved out of rock sometime in the Late Bronze or Early Iron Age that connected the city at the top of the hill to its water source at the bottom, a spring known as Bir es-Sinjib. [48] The tunnel allowed inhabitants to walk through it undetected, particularly useful during times of siege. [39] There is evidence that the tunnel fell into disuse in the 8th century BCE, and that the entrance was subsequently rehabilitated some time in the Roman period, while the site itself shows occupation into the medieval period. [48] Plans have been drawn up to turn the site into an archaeological park. [39] G. Schumacher had described the water tunnel in 1908, and a small-scale excavation was conducted by Z. Yeivin in 1973. The water passage of Belameh is important for the understanding of ancient water systems in Palestine. [48]

        Bethlehem Edit

        As of April 2007, the procedures to add Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity to the UNESCO World Heritage List have been initiated. [50]

        Dead Sea Scrolls Edit

        The Dead Sea Scrolls are 981 parchments discovered in 11 caves in the hills above Qumran between 1947 and 1956. The discovery of the scrolls was dubbed "[u]nquestionably the greatest manuscript find of modern times" by William F. Albright, and the majority are transcribed in a unique form of Hebrew now known as "Qumran Hebrew", and seen as a link between Biblical Hebrew and Mishnaic Hebrew. Some 120 scrolls are written in Aramaic, and a few of the biblical texts are written in Ancient Greek. Israel purchased some of the parchments, believed to have been composed or transcribed between 1 BCE and 1 ACE, after they were first unearthed by a Bedouin shepherd in 1947. The remainder were acquired by Israel from the Rockefeller Museum in the 1967 war. [51] [52]

        When 350 participants from 25 countries gathered at a conference at the Israel Museum marking the fiftieth anniversary of their discovery, Amir Drori, head of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), said that the 2,000-year-old documents were legally acquired and an inseparable part of Jewish tradition. A Palestinian academic, Hamdan Taha, responded that Israel's capture of the works after the 1967 war was theft "which should be recitified now"., [53] Israel is now digitally photographing the thousands of fragments that make up the Dead Sea Scrolls in order to make them freely available on the Internet. [54]

        Nablus Edit

        The Old City of Nablus consists of seven quarters representing a distinctive style of traditional urban architecture in Palestine. Founded in 72 CE by the emperor Vespasian under the name Neapolis, the city flourished during the Byzantine and Umayyad periods, becoming the seat of a bishopric. [55] Monuments in the city include "nine historic mosques (four built on Byzantine churches and five from the early Islamic period), an Ayyubid mausoleum, and a 17th-century church, but most buildings are Ottoman-era structures such as 2 major khans, 10 Turkish bath houses, 30 olive-oil soap factories (7 of which were functioning), 2850 historic houses and exceptional family palaces, 18 Islamic monuments and 17 sabeel (water fountains)." [56] A few monuments within the Old City date back to the Byzantine and Crusader periods. A Roman-era aqueduct system runs under the city, part of which had recently been preserved by the municipality and opened for visitors. [56]

        According to Hamdan Taha, great damage was inflicted on the historic core of the city during Israeli military incursions in 2002-2003. [55] Taha's claim was confirmed by a series of reports produced by UNESCO that noted that pursuant to military operations undertaken in April 2002, hundreds of buildings in the Old City were affected, sixty-four of which were severely damaged. Of these, seventeen were designated as being of particular significance to world heritage, as per an inventory of sites prepared by Graz University between 1997 and 2002. According to UNESCO, reconstruction costs are estimated at tens of millions USD, though "the loss of irreplaceable heritage damage cannot be determined financially." [57]

        Tel es-Sultan Edit

        Tel es-Sultan (meaning the "Sultan's Hill") is located in Jericho, approximately two kilometers from the city center. Kathleen Kenyon's excavations at the site beginning in 1951, established that it was one of the earliest sites of human habitation, dating back to 9000 BCE. The mound contains several layers attesting to its habitation throughout the ages. [50]

        Despite recognition of its importance by archaeologists, the site is not presently included on the World Heritage List. In April 2007, Hamdan Taha announced that the Palestinian Authority's Department of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage had begun the procedures for its nomination. [50]

        Challenges posed by the Israeli–Palestinian conflict Edit

        West Bank barrier Edit

        Construction of the Israeli West Bank barrier has damaged and threatens to damage a number of sites of interest to Palestinian archaeology in and around the Green Line, prompting condemnation from the World Archaeological Congress (WAC) and a call for Israel to abide by UNESCO conventions that protect cultural heritage. In the autumn of 2003, bulldozers preparing the ground for a section of the barrier that runs through Abu Dis in East Jerusalem damaged the remains of a 1,500-year-old Byzantine era monastery. Construction was halted to allow the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) to conduct a salvage excavation that recovered a mosaic, among other artifacts. Media reported that an IAA official media blamed the IDF for proceeding without procuring the opinion of the IAA. [58]

        Excavation in Israel continues at a relatively rapid pace and is conducted according to generally high standards. Excavators return each year to a number of key sites that have been selected for their potential scientific and cultural interest. Current excavated sites of importance include Ashkelon, Hazor, Megiddo, Tel es-Safi, Dor, Hippos, Tel Kabri, Gamla and Rehov. Recent issues center on the veracity of such artifacts as the Jehoash Inscription and the James Ossuary, as well as the validity of whole chronological schemes. Amihai Mazar and Israel Finkelstein represent leading figures in the debate over the nature and chronology of the United Monarchy.

        Archaeology has been widely influenced by the modern Arab-Israeli conflict. During the British Occupation, many Jewish and Christian populations have renewed their interest in the ancient Judaic archaeological sites located in the region. Several Palestinian authors argue that Zionists, or individuals who believe in a Jewish homeland, use archaeology to create a sense of national identity. One author, in a highly controversial book, when as far as to state that a joint project of the Jewish Palestine Exploration Society and the Va‘adat Shemot (Names Committee) attempted to rename sites from an Arab-Ottoman template to the template of biblical Israel. [59] Today this attitude, is an important factor in the controversy over the West Bank. Judea and Samaria, (the name of the region prior to the occupation of the region by Jordan), are the locations of several archeological sites and ancient Hebrew artifacts. [60] Israeli (and Jewish) scholar Nachman Ben-Yehuda, quoting Y. Shavit, lists the following aspects of archaeology that have been placed in the service of a Jewish homeland: (1) confirming the essence of the biblical narrative (2) proving the continuity of Jewish settlement in Israel as well as its size (3) "to emphasize the attitude of Jewish settlers to the land" (4) emphasizing the practical side of life in the land (5) providing the contemporary Jewish presence with a deep "structural-historical" meaning and (6) "to provide the new Jewish presence with concrete symbols from the past which can be transformed into symbols of historical legitimization and presence." [61]

        Some Palestinian scholars have argued that they, not modern Jews, are the genuine descendants of the Israelites and Philistines ancient inhabitants of the land. Some have been, in essence, offering the world a reading erasing ancient Israel from the region's history. [62] Renovations on the Temple Mount conducted by the Islamic Religious Authority, especially in the area adjoining and underlying the El-Aqsa Mosque, have sacrificed the integrity of underlying structures by dumping debris and other materials. This has contributed to the bulge in the southern wall of the Temple. [63]

        Sovereignty dispute Edit

        Proposals to internationalize the Old City of Jerusalem have been rejected by all parties in the Israeli-Arab conflict, each insisting on exclusive sovereignty. [64] Neil Silberman, an Israeli archaeologist, has demonstrated how legitimate archaeological research and preservation efforts have been exploited by Palestinians and Israelis for partisan ends. [64] Rather than attempting to understand "the natural process of demolition, eradication, rebuilding, evasion, and ideological reinterpretation that has permitted ancient rulers and modern groups to claim exclusive possession," archaeologists have become active participants in the battle. Silberman writes that archaeology, a seemingly objective science, has exacerbated, rather than ameliorated the ongoing nationalist dispute: "The digging continues. Claims and counterclaims about exclusive historical 'ownership' weave together the random acts of violence of bifurcated collective memory." [64]

        An archaeological tunnel running the length of the western side of the Temple Mount, as it is known to Jews, or the Haram al-Sharif, as it is known to Muslims, sparked a serious conflict in 1996. As a result, rioting broke out in Jerusalem and spread to the West Bank, leading to the deaths of 86 Palestinians and 15 Israeli soldiers. [65]

        Damage to archaeological sites Edit

        During the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, and throughout the period of Jordanian rule of Jerusalem which ended in 1967, Jordanian authorities and military forces undertook a policy described by their military commander as "calculated destruction,", [66] aimed at the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem. The Jordanian actions were described in a letter to the United Nations by Yosef Tekoa, Israel's permanent representative to the organization at the time, as a "policy of wanton vandalism, desecration and violation," [66] which resulted in the destruction of all but one of 35 Jewish houses of worship. Synagogues were razed or pillaged. Many of them were demolished by explosives, and others subjected to ritual desecration, through the conversion to stables. [67] In the ancient historic Jewish graveyard on the Mount of Olives, tens of thousands of tombstones, some dating from as early as 1 BCE, were torn up, broken or used as flagstones, steps and building materials in Jordanian military installations. Large areas of the cemetery were levelled and turned into parking lots and gas stations. [68]

        The Old City of Jerusalem and its walls were added to the List of World Heritage in Danger in 1982, after it was nominated for inclusion by Jordan. [69] Noting the "severe destruction followed by a rapid urbanization," UNESCO determined that the site met "the criteria proposed for the inscription of properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger as they apply to both 'ascertained danger' and 'potential danger'." [69]

        Work carried out by the Islamic Waqf since the late 1990s to convert two ancient underground structures into a large new mosque on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif damaged archaeological artifacts in Solomon's Stables and Huldah Gates areas. [70] [71] [72] From October 1999 to January 2000, the Waqf authorities in Jerusalem opened an emergency exit to the newly renovated underground mosque, in the process digging a pit measuring 18,000 square feet (1,672 m 2 ) and 36 feet (11 m) deep. The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) expressed concern over the damage sustained to Muslim-period structures within the compound as a result of the digging. Jon Seligman, a Jerusalem District archaeologist told Archaeology magazine that, "It was clear to the IAA that an emergency exit [at the Marwani Mosque] was necessary, but in the best situation, salvage archaeology would have been performed first." [73] Seligman also said that the lack of archeological supervision "has meant a great loss to all of humanity. It was an archeological crime.". [71]

        Some Israeli archaeologists also charged that archaeological material dating to the First Temple Period (c. 960-586 BCE) was destroyed when the thousands of tons of ancient fill from the site were dumped into the Kidron Valley, as well as into Jerusalem's municipal garbage dump, where it mixed with the local garbage, making it impossible to conduct archaeological examination. [72] They further contended that the Waqf was deliberately removing evidence of Jewish remains. [74] For example, Dr. Eilat Mazar told Ynet news that the actions by the Waqf were linked to the routine denials of the existence of the Jerusalem Temples by senior officials of the Palestinian Authority. She stated that, "They want to turn the whole of the Temple Mount into a mosque for Muslims only. They don't care about the artifacts or heritage on the site." [75] However, Seligman and Gideon Avni, another Israeli archaeologist, told Archaeology magazine that while the fill did indeed contain shards from the First Temple period, they were located in originally unstratified fill and therefore lacked any serious archaeological value. [73]

        Compared to Israel, archaeological knowledge about Jordan (formerly Transjordan) is limited. [76] Two universities, the University of Jordan and Yarmouk University, offer archeology studies. Apart from the work of the official antiquities department, there are many foreign-educated professional archaeologists in Jordan, working on dozens of field projects. Findings have been published in the four-volume Studies in the History and Archaeology of Jordan (1982–1992). [14]

        After the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, the West Bank was annexed by Jordan (1950), and archaeological excavations in the region were carried out by its Department of Antiquities, as had been the case throughout the British Mandate in Palestine. Made up of Muslim and Christian officials and headed by the British archaeologist Gerald Lankaster Harding until 1956, field archaeology was conducted primarily by foreigners. [45] Large-scale expeditions included those of the American Schools of Oriental Research at Tell Balata (1956–1964), the British School of Archaeology at Jericho (1952–1958), and the École Biblique at Tell el-Farah (1946–1960) and Khirbet Qumran (1951–1956). Rising nationalistic pressures led to Harding's dismissal in 1956 and thereafter, the Department of Antiquities was headed by Jordanian nationals. [45]

        After Israel took over the area during the 1967 war, all antiquities in the area came under the control of the Archaeological Staff Officer. [46] Though the Hague Convention prohibits the removal of cultural property from militarily occupied areas, both foreign and Israeli archaeologists mounted extensive excavations that have been criticized as overstepping the bounds of legitimate work to protect endangered sites. [46] Vast amounts of new archaeological data have been uncovered in these explorations, although critics say that "relatively little effort was made to preserve or protect archaeological remains from the later Islamic and Ottoman periods, which were of direct relevance to the areas Muslim inhabitants." [46]

        In the early 20th century, Palestinians focused on investigating Palestinian "material culture," as it relates to folklore and customs. In 1920, the Palestine Oriental Society was founded by, most prominently among them Tawfiq Canaan. The work of this society was more ethnographic and anthropological than archaeological. [45] Interest in archaeological fieldwork increased as West Bank universities emerged in the 1980s and cultivated a new approach to Palestinian archaeology. A new generation of Palestinians, like Albert Glock, introduced innovations to the field by studying Islamic and Ottoman period ruins in village contexts. [46]

        Notable findings and sites Edit

        Belameh Edit

        Belameh, located a little over one mile (1.6 km) south of Jenin, is an important Bronze Age site identified with the ancient city of Ibleam, one of the Palestinian cities mentioned in the Egyptian Royal Archive that was conquered by Thutmose III in the 15th century BCE. [47] [48] The location was called Belemoth during Roman-Byzantine times, and Castellum Beleismum in the Crusader sources. [49]

        The site was initially discovered by Victor Guérin in 1874, then by Gottlieb Schumacher in 1910, and Bellarmino Bagatti in 1974. [49] Later on, excavations in Khirbet Belameh, led by Hamdan Taha of the Palestinian Antiquities Department, began in 1996. [39] [48] These have focused on a water tunnel carved out of rock sometime in the Late Bronze or Early Iron Age that connected the city at the top of the hill to its water source at the bottom, a spring known as Bir es-Sinjib. [48] The tunnel allowed inhabitants to walk through it undetected, particularly useful during times of siege. [39] There is evidence that the tunnel fell into disuse in the 8th century BCE, and that the entrance was subsequently rehabilitated some time in the Roman period, while the site itself shows occupation into the medieval period. [48] Plans have been drawn up to turn the site into an archaeological park. [39] G. Schumacher had described the water tunnel in 1908, and a small-scale excavation was conducted by Z. Yeivin in 1973. The water passage of Belameh is important for the understanding of ancient water systems in Palestine. [48]

        Bethlehem Edit

        As of April 2007, the procedures to add Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity to the UNESCO World Heritage List have been initiated. [50]

        Dead Sea Scrolls Edit

        The Dead Sea Scrolls are 981 parchments discovered in 11 caves in the hills above Qumran between 1947 and 1956. The discovery of the scrolls was dubbed "[u]nquestionably the greatest manuscript find of modern times" by William F. Albright, and the majority are transcribed in a unique form of Hebrew now known as "Qumran Hebrew", and seen as a link between Biblical Hebrew and Mishnaic Hebrew. Some 120 scrolls are written in Aramaic, and a few of the biblical texts are written in Ancient Greek. Israel purchased some of the parchments, believed to have been composed or transcribed between 1 BCE and 1 ACE, after they were first unearthed by a Bedouin shepherd in 1947. The remainder were acquired by Israel from the Rockefeller Museum in the 1967 war. [51] [52]

        When 350 participants from 25 countries gathered at a conference at the Israel Museum marking the fiftieth anniversary of their discovery, Amir Drori, head of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), said that the 2,000-year-old documents were legally acquired and an inseparable part of Jewish tradition. A Palestinian academic, Hamdan Taha, responded that Israel's capture of the works after the 1967 war was theft "which should be recitified now"., [53] Israel is now digitally photographing the thousands of fragments that make up the Dead Sea Scrolls in order to make them freely available on the Internet. [77]

        Nablus Edit

        The Old City of Nablus consists of seven quarters representing a distinctive style of traditional urban architecture in Palestine. Founded in 72 CE by the emperor Vespasian under the name Neapolis, the city flourished during the Byzantine and Umayyad periods, becoming the seat of a bishopric. [55] Monuments in the city include "nine historic mosques (four built on Byzantine churches and five from the early Islamic period), an Ayyubid mausoleum, and a 17th-century church, but most buildings are Ottoman-era structures such as 2 major khans, 10 Turkish bath houses, 30 olive-oil soap factories (7 of which were functioning), 2850 historic houses and exceptional family palaces, 18 Islamic monuments and 17 sabeel (water fountains)." [56] A few monuments within the Old City date back to the Byzantine and Crusader periods. A Roman-era aqueduct system runs under the city, part of which had recently been preserved by the municipality and opened for visitors. [56]

        According to Hamdan Taha, great damage was inflicted on the historic core of the city during Israeli military incursions in 2002-2003. [55] Taha's claim was confirmed by a series of reports produced by UNESCO that noted that pursuant to military operations undertaken in April 2002, hundreds of buildings in the Old City were affected, sixty-four of which were severely damaged. Of these, seventeen were designated as being of particular significance to world heritage, as per an inventory of sites prepared by Graz University between 1997 and 2002. According to UNESCO, reconstruction costs are estimated at tens of millions USD, though "the loss of irreplaceable heritage damage cannot be determined financially." [57]

        Tel es-Sultan Edit

        Tel es-Sultan (meaning the "Sultan's Hill") is located in Jericho, approximately two kilometers from the city center. Kathleen Kenyon's excavations at the site beginning in 1951, established that it was one of the earliest sites of human habitation, dating back to 9000 BCE. The mound contains several layers attesting to its habitation throughout the ages. [50]

        Despite recognition of its importance by archaeologists, the site is not presently included on the World Heritage List. In April 2007, Hamdan Taha announced that the Palestinian Authority's Department of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage had begun the procedures for its nomination. [50]

        Challenges posed by the Israeli–Palestinian conflict Edit

        West Bank barrier Edit

        Construction of the Israeli West Bank barrier has damaged and threatens to damage a number of sites of interest to Palestinian archaeology in and around the Green Line, prompting condemnation from the World Archaeological Congress (WAC) and a call for Israel to abide by UNESCO conventions that protect cultural heritage. In the autumn of 2003, bulldozers preparing the ground for a section of the barrier that runs through Abu Dis in East Jerusalem damaged the remains of a 1,500-year-old Byzantine era monastery. Construction was halted to allow the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) to conduct a salvage excavation that recovered a mosaic, among other artifacts. Media reported that an IAA official media blamed the IDF for proceeding without procuring the opinion of the IAA. [58]

        Important sites in Lebanon dating to the Neanderthal period include Adloun, Chekka Jdidé, El-Masloukh, Ksar Akil, Nahr Ibrahim and Naame. [78] Byblos is a well-known archaeological site, a Phoenician seaport, where the tomb of Ahiram is believed to be located. An ancient Phoenician inscription on the tomb dates to between the 13th and 10th centuries BCE. [79] Byblos, as well as archaeological sites in Baalbek, Tyre, Sidon, and Tripoli, contain artifacts indicating the presence of libraries dating back to the period of Classical antiquity. [79]

        Coastal, central and southern Syria (including modern Lebanon) "constitute the major part of ancient Canaan, or the southern Levant," and according to Dever, the area is "potentially far richer in archaeology remains than Palestine." [14] Yet, in the 19th century, Syria received significantly less archaeological exploration than Palestine. Beginning in the 1920s, large excavations have been conducted in such key sites as Ebla, Hama, and Ugarit. Albright envisioned Palestine and Syria within the same cultural orbit and, though best known for his pioneering work on biblical archaeology, he also foreshadowed contemporary scholars in using "Syro-Palestinian" to integrate the archaeology from Syria. [14]

        Syria is often acknowledged to be a "crossroads of civilizations", "traversed by caravans and military expeditions moving between the economic and political poles of the Ancient Near Eastern world, from Egypt to Anatolia, from the Mediterranean to Mesopotamia." While there is significant geographical and cultural overlap with its neighbouring regions, Akkermans and Schwartz note that specialists in Syria itself, rarely use the term "Syro-Palestinian archaeology" to describe their inquiries in the field. Syria can be seen as a distinct and autonomous geographical and cultural entity whose rainfall-farming plains could support larger scale populations, communities, and political units than those in Palestine and Lebanon. [80]

        Following the program of the French Mandate, the Syrian school of archaeology has an official antiquities department, museums in Aleppo and Damascus, and at least two important scholarly journals. [14]

        The Amuq Valley in the Hatay Province of Turkey has aided in the understanding of western Syrian historical chronologies. Robert Braidwood documented 178 ancient sites in the Amuq Valley, eight of which were then further excavated. Artifacts recovered from these excavations helped in the formation of a historical chronology of Syrian archaeology spanning from the Neolithic to the Early Bronze Age. [8] [81]


        Contents

        Dostoevsky's parents were part of a noble family of Russian Orthodox Christians. The family traced its roots back to Danilo Irtishch, who was granted lands in the Pinsk region (for centuries part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, now in modern-day Belarus) in 1509 for his services under a local prince, his progeny then taking the name "Dostoevsky" based on a village there called Dostoïevo (from Polish: dostoinik - dignitary). [5]

        Dostoevsky's immediate ancestors on his mother's side were merchants the male line on his father's side were priests. [6] [7] Andriy Dostoevsky, the writer's grandfather, was a priest in 1782–1820, signed in Ukrainian – "Andriy". After him, his son Lev ruled in Viitovtsi (1820–1829). Another son, Mykhailo (the writer's father), studied at the Podolsk seminary, which was then founded in Shargorod. From there, as one of the best students, he was sent to study at the Medical and Surgical Academy in Moscow (after training he became one of the best doctors at the Mariinsky Hospital for the Poor). Before the war of 1812 he signed in Ukrainian – "Mykhailo" and only during the war, when he worked as a military doctor, he began to sign in Russian – "Mikhail".

        In 1809, the 20-year-old Mykhailo Dostoevsky enrolled in Moscow's Imperial Medical-Surgical Academy. From there he was assigned to a Moscow hospital, where he served as military doctor, and in 1818, he was appointed a senior physician. In 1819 he married Maria Nechayeva. The following year, he took up a post at the Mariinsky Hospital for the poor. In 1828, when his two sons, Mikhail and Fyodor, were eight and seven respectively, he was promoted to collegiate assessor, a position which raised his legal status to that of the nobility and enabled him to acquire a small estate in Darovoye, a town about 150 km (100 miles) from Moscow, where the family usually spent the summers. [8] Dostoevsky's parents subsequently had six more children: Varvara (1822–1892), Andrei (1825–1897), Lyubov (born and died 1829), Vera (1829–1896), Nikolai (1831–1883) and Aleksandra (1835–1889). [9] [6] [7]

        Fyodor Dostoevsky, born on 11 November [O.S. 30 October] 1821 in Moscow, was the second child of Dr. Mikhail Dostoevsky and Maria Dostoevskaya (born Nechayeva). He was raised in the family home in the grounds of the Mariinsky Hospital for the Poor, which was in a lower class district on the edges of Moscow. [10] Dostoevsky encountered the patients, who were at the lower end of the Russian social scale, when playing in the hospital gardens. [11]

        Dostoevsky was introduced to literature at an early age. From the age of three, he was read heroic sagas, fairy tales and legends by his nanny, Alena Frolovna, an especially influential figure in his upbringing and love for fictional stories. [12] When he was four his mother used the Bible to teach him to read and write. His parents introduced him to a wide range of literature, including Russian writers Karamzin, Pushkin and Derzhavin Gothic fiction such as the works from writer Ann Radcliffe romantic works by Schiller and Goethe heroic tales by Miguel de Cervantes and Walter Scott and Homer's epics. [13] [14] Dostoevsky was greatly influenced by the work of Nikolai Gogol. [15] Although his father's approach to education has been described as strict and harsh, [16] Dostoevsky himself reports that his imagination was brought alive by nightly readings by his parents. [11]

        Some of his childhood experiences found their way into his writings. When a nine-year-old girl had been raped by a drunk, he was asked to fetch his father to attend to her. The incident haunted him, and the theme of the desire of a mature man for a young girl appears in The Devils, The Brothers Karamazov, Crime and Punishment, and other writings. [17] An incident involving a family servant, or serf, in the estate in Darovoye, is described in "The Peasant Marey": when the young Dostoevsky imagines hearing a wolf in the forest, Marey, who is working nearby, comforts him. [18]

        Although Dostoevsky had a delicate physical constitution, his parents described him as hot-headed, stubborn, and cheeky. [19] In 1833, Dostoevsky's father, who was profoundly religious, sent him to a French boarding school and then to the Chermak boarding school. He was described as a pale, introverted dreamer and an over-excitable romantic. [20] To pay the school fees, his father borrowed money and extended his private medical practice. Dostoevsky felt out of place among his aristocratic classmates at the Moscow school, and the experience was later reflected in some of his works, notably The Adolescent. [21] [14]

        On 27 September 1837 Dostoevsky's mother died of tuberculosis. The previous May, his parents had sent Dostoevsky and his brother Mikhail to St Petersburg to attend the free Nikolayev Military Engineering Institute, forcing the brothers to abandon their academic studies for military careers. Dostoevsky entered the academy in January 1838, but only with the help of family members. Mikhail was refused admission on health grounds and was sent to an academy in Tallinn, Estonia (then known as Reval). [22] [23]

        Dostoevsky disliked the academy, primarily because of his lack of interest in science, mathematics and military engineering and his preference for drawing and architecture. As his friend Konstantin Trutovsky once said, "There was no student in the entire institution with less of a military bearing than F.M. Dostoevsky. He moved clumsily and jerkily his uniform hung awkwardly on him and his knapsack, shako and rifle all looked like some sort of fetter he had been forced to wear for a time and which lay heavily on him." [24] Dostoevsky's character and interests made him an outsider among his 120 classmates: he showed bravery and a strong sense of justice, protected newcomers, aligned himself with teachers, criticised corruption among officers and helped poor farmers. Although he was solitary and inhabited his own literary world, he was respected by his classmates. His reclusiveness and interest in religion earned him the nickname "Monk Photius". [25] [26]

        Signs of Dostoevsky's epilepsy may have first appeared on learning of the death of his father on 16 June 1839, [27] although the reports of a seizure originated from accounts written by his daughter (later expanded by Sigmund Freud [28] ) which are now considered to be unreliable. His father's official cause of death was an apoplectic stroke, but a neighbour, Pavel Khotiaintsev, accused the father's serfs of murder. Had the serfs been found guilty and sent to Siberia, Khotiaintsev would have been in a position to buy the vacated land. The serfs were acquitted in a trial in Tula, but Dostoevsky's brother Andrei perpetuated the story. [29] After his father's death, Dostoevsky continued his studies, passed his exams and obtained the rank of engineer cadet, entitling him to live away from the academy. He visited Mikhail in Reval, and frequently attended concerts, operas, plays and ballets. During this time, two of his friends introduced him to gambling. [30] [26]

        On 12 August 1843 Dostoevsky took a job as a lieutenant engineer and lived with Adolph Totleben in an apartment owned by Dr. Rizenkampf, a friend of Mikhail. Rizenkampf characterised him as "no less good-natured and no less courteous than his brother, but when not in a good mood he often looked at everything through dark glasses, became vexed, forgot good manners, and sometimes was carried away to the point of abusiveness and loss of self-awareness". [31] Dostoevsky's first completed literary work, a translation of Honoré de Balzac's novel Eugénie Grandet, was published in June and July 1843 in the 6th and 7th volume of the journal Repertoire and Pantheon, [32] [33] followed by several other translations. None were successful, and his financial difficulties led him to write a novel. [34] [26]

        Early career (1844–1849) Edit

        Dostoevsky completed his first novel, Poor Folk, in May 1845. His friend Dmitry Grigorovich, with whom he was sharing an apartment at the time, took the manuscript to the poet Nikolay Nekrasov, who in turn showed it to the renowned and influential literary critic Vissarion Belinsky. Belinsky described it as Russia's first "social novel". [35] Poor Folk was released on 15 January 1846 in the St Petersburg Collection almanac and became a commercial success. [36] [37]

        Dostoevsky felt that his military career would endanger his now flourishing literary career, so he wrote a letter asking to resign his post. Shortly thereafter, he wrote his second novel, The Double, which appeared in the journal Notes of the Fatherland on 30 January 1846, before being published in February. Around the same time, Dostoevsky discovered socialism through the writings of French thinkers Fourier, Cabet, Proudhon and Saint-Simon. Through his relationship with Belinsky he expanded his knowledge of the philosophy of socialism. He was attracted to its logic, its sense of justice and its preoccupation with the destitute and the disadvantaged. However, his relationship with Belinsky became increasingly strained as Belinsky's atheism and dislike of religion clashed with Dostoevsky's Russian Orthodox beliefs. Dostoevsky eventually parted with him and his associates. [38] [39]

        After The Double received negative reviews, Dostoevsky's health declined and he had more frequent seizures, but he continued writing. From 1846 to 1848 he released several short stories in the magazine Annals of the Fatherland, including "Mr. Prokharchin", "The Landlady", "A Weak Heart", and "White Nights". These stories were unsuccessful, leaving Dostoevsky once more in financial trouble, so he joined the utopian socialist Betekov circle, a tightly knit community which helped him to survive. When the circle dissolved, Dostoevsky befriended Apollon Maykov and his brother Valerian. In 1846, on the recommendation of the poet Aleksey Pleshcheyev, [40] he joined the Petrashevsky Circle, founded by Mikhail Petrashevsky, who had proposed social reforms in Russia. Mikhail Bakunin once wrote to Alexander Herzen that the group was "the most innocent and harmless company" and its members were "systematic opponents of all revolutionary goals and means". [41] Dostoevsky used the circle's library on Saturdays and Sundays and occasionally participated in their discussions on freedom from censorship and the abolition of serfdom. [42] [43]

        In 1849, the first parts of Netochka Nezvanova, a novel Dostoevsky had been planning since 1846, were published in Annals of the Fatherland, but his banishment ended the project. Dostoevsky never attempted to complete it. [44]

        Siberian exile (1849–1854) Edit

        The members of the Petrashevsky Circle were denounced to Liprandi, an official at the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Dostoevsky was accused of reading works by Belinsky, including the banned Letter to Gogol, [45] and of circulating copies of these and other works. Antonelli, the government agent who had reported the group, wrote in his statement that at least one of the papers criticised Russian politics and religion. Dostoevsky responded to these charges by declaring that he had read the essays only "as a literary monument, neither more nor less" he spoke of "personality and human egoism" rather than of politics. Even so, he and his fellow "conspirators" were arrested on 23 April 1849 at the request of Count A. Orlov and Tsar Nicholas I, who feared a revolution like the Decembrist revolt of 1825 in Russia and the Revolutions of 1848 in Europe. The members were held in the well-defended Peter and Paul Fortress, which housed the most dangerous convicts. [46] [47] [48]

        The case was discussed for four months by an investigative commission headed by the Tsar, with Adjutant General Ivan Nabokov, senator Prince Pavel Gagarin, Prince Vasili Dolgorukov, General Yakov Rostovtsev and General Leonty Dubelt, head of the secret police. They sentenced the members of the circle to death by firing squad, and the prisoners were taken to Semyonov Place in St Petersburg on 23 December 1849 where they were split into three-man groups. Dostoevsky was the third in the second row next to him stood Pleshcheyev and Durov. The execution was stayed when a cart delivered a letter from the Tsar commuting the sentence. Dostoevsky later alluded to his experience of what he believed to be the last moments of his life in his 1868-1869 novel, The Idiot, where the main character tells the harrowing story of an execution by guillotine that he recently witnessed in France.

        Dostoevsky served four years of exile with hard labour at a katorga prison camp in Omsk, Siberia, followed by a term of compulsory military service. After a fourteen-day sleigh ride, the prisoners reached Tobolsk, a prisoner way station. Despite the circumstances, Dostoevsky consoled the other prisoners, such as the Petrashevist Ivan Yastrzhembsky, who was surprised by Dostoevsky's kindness and eventually abandoned his decision to kill himself. In Tobolsk, the members received food and clothes from the Decembrist women, as well as several copies of the New Testament with a ten-ruble banknote inside each copy. Eleven days later, Dostoevsky reached Omsk [47] [49] together with just one other member of the Petrashevsky Circle, the poet Sergei Durov. [50] Dostoevsky described his barracks:

        In summer, intolerable closeness in winter, unendurable cold. All the floors were rotten. Filth on the floors an inch thick one could slip and fall . We were packed like herrings in a barrel . There was no room to turn around. From dusk to dawn it was impossible not to behave like pigs . Fleas, lice, and black beetles by the bushel . [51]

        Classified as "one of the most dangerous convicts", Dostoevsky had his hands and feet shackled until his release. He was only permitted to read his New Testament Bible. In addition to his seizures, he had haemorrhoids, lost weight and was "burned by some fever, trembling and feeling too hot or too cold every night". The smell of the privy pervaded the entire building, and the small bathroom had to suffice for more than 200 people. Dostoevsky was occasionally sent to the military hospital, where he read newspapers and Dickens novels. He was respected by most of the other prisoners, and despised by some because of his supposedly xenophobic statements. [52] [53]

        Release from prison and first marriage (1854–1866) Edit

        After his release on 14 February 1854, Dostoevsky asked Mikhail to help him financially and to send him books by Vico, Guizot, Ranke, Hegel and Kant. [54] The House of the Dead, based on his experience in prison, was published in 1861 in the journal Vremya ("Time") – it was the first published novel about Russian prisons. [55] Before moving in mid-March to Semipalatinsk, where he was forced to serve in the Siberian Army Corps of the Seventh Line Battalion, Dostoevsky met geographer Pyotr Semyonov and ethnographer Shokan Walikhanuli. Around November 1854, he met Baron Alexander Egorovich Wrangel, an admirer of his books, who had attended the aborted execution. They both rented houses in the Cossack Garden outside Semipalatinsk. Wrangel remarked that Dostoevsky "looked morose. His sickly, pale face was covered with freckles, and his blond hair was cut short. He was a little over average height and looked at me intensely with his sharp, grey-blue eyes. It was as if he were trying to look into my soul and discover what kind of man I was." [56] [57] [58]

        In Semipalatinsk, Dostoevsky tutored several schoolchildren and came into contact with upper-class families, including that of Lieutenant-Colonel Belikhov, who used to invite him to read passages from newspapers and magazines. During a visit to Belikhov, Dostoevsky met the family of Alexander Ivanovich Isaev and Maria Dmitrievna Isaeva and fell in love with the latter. Alexander Isaev took a new post in Kuznetsk, where he died in August 1855. Maria and her son then moved with Dostoevsky to Barnaul. In 1856 Dostoevsky sent a letter through Wrangel to General Eduard Totleben, apologising for his activity in several utopian circles. As a result, he obtained the right to publish books and to marry, although he remained under police surveillance for the rest of his life. Maria married Dostoevsky in Semipalatinsk on 7 February 1857, even though she had initially refused his marriage proposal, stating that they were not meant for each other and that his poor financial situation precluded marriage. Their family life was unhappy and she found it difficult to cope with his seizures. Describing their relationship, he wrote: "Because of her strange, suspicious and fantastic character, we were definitely not happy together, but we could not stop loving each other and the more unhappy we were, the more attached to each other we became". They mostly lived apart. [59] In 1859 he was released from military service because of deteriorating health and was granted permission to return to European Russia, first to Tver, where he met his brother for the first time in ten years, and then to St Petersburg. [60] [61]

        "A Little Hero" (Dostoevsky's only work completed in prison) appeared in a journal, but "Uncle's Dream" and "The Village of Stepanchikovo" were not published until 1860. Notes from the House of the Dead was released in Russky Mir (Russian World) in September 1860. "The Insulted and the Injured" was published in the new Vremya magazine, [d] which had been created with the help of funds from his brother's cigarette factory. [63] [64] [65]

        Dostoevsky travelled to western Europe for the first time on 7 June 1862, visiting Cologne, Berlin, Dresden, Wiesbaden, Belgium, and Paris. In London, he met Herzen and visited the Crystal Palace. He travelled with Nikolay Strakhov through Switzerland and several North Italian cities, including Turin, Livorno, and Florence. He recorded his impressions of those trips in Winter Notes on Summer Impressions, in which he criticised capitalism, social modernisation, materialism, Catholicism and Protestantism. [66] [67]

        From August to October 1863, Dostoevsky made another trip to western Europe. He met his second love, Polina Suslova, in Paris and lost nearly all his money gambling in Wiesbaden and Baden-Baden. In 1864 his wife Maria and his brother Mikhail died, and Dostoevsky became the lone parent of his stepson Pasha and the sole supporter of his brother's family. The failure of Epoch, the magazine he had founded with Mikhail after the suppression of Vremya, worsened his financial situation, although the continued help of his relatives and friends averted bankruptcy. [68] [69]

        Second marriage and honeymoon (1866–1871) Edit

        The first two parts of Crime and Punishment were published in January and February 1866 in the periodical The Russian Messenger, [70] attracting at least 500 new subscribers to the magazine. [71]

        Dostoevsky returned to Saint Petersburg in mid-September and promised his editor, Fyodor Stellovsky, that he would complete The Gambler, a short novel focused on gambling addiction, by November, although he had not yet begun writing it. One of Dostoevsky's friends, Milyukov, advised him to hire a secretary. Dostoevsky contacted stenographer Pavel Olkhin from Saint Petersburg, who recommended his pupil, the twenty-year-old Anna Grigoryevna Snitkina. Her shorthand helped Dostoevsky to complete The Gambler on 30 October, after 26 days' work. [72] [73] She remarked that Dostoevsky was of average height but always tried to carry himself erect. "He had light brown, slightly reddish hair, he used some hair conditioner, and he combed his hair in a diligent way . his eyes, they were different: one was dark brown in the other, the pupil was so big that you could not see its color, [this was caused by an injury]. The strangeness of his eyes gave Dostoyevsky some mysterious appearance. His face was pale, and it looked unhealthy." [74]

        On 15 February 1867 Dostoevsky married Snitkina in Trinity Cathedral, Saint Petersburg. The 7,000 rubles he had earned from Crime and Punishment did not cover their debts, forcing Anna to sell her valuables. On 14 April 1867, they began a delayed honeymoon in Germany with the money gained from the sale. They stayed in Berlin and visited the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden, where he sought inspiration for his writing. They continued their trip through Germany, visiting Frankfurt, Darmstadt, Heidelberg and Karlsruhe. They spent five weeks in Baden-Baden, where Dostoevsky had a quarrel with Turgenev and again lost much money at the roulette table. [75] The couple travelled on to Geneva.

        In September 1867, Dostoevsky began work on The Idiot, and after a prolonged planning process that bore little resemblance to the published novel, he eventually managed to write the first 100 pages in only 23 days the serialisation began in The Russian Messenger in January 1868.

        Their first child, Sofya, had been conceived in Baden-Baden, and was born in Geneva on 5 March 1868. The baby died of pneumonia three months later, and Anna recalled how Dostoevsky "wept and sobbed like a woman in despair". [76] The couple moved from Geneva to Vevey and then to Milan, before continuing to Florence. The Idiot was completed there in January 1869, the final part appearing in The Russian Messenger in February 1869. [77] [78] Anna gave birth to their second daughter, Lyubov, on 26 September 1869 in Dresden. In April 1871, Dostoevsky made a final visit to a gambling hall in Wiesbaden. Anna claimed that he stopped gambling after the birth of their second daughter, but this is a subject of debate. [e]

        After hearing news that the socialist revolutionary group "People's Vengeance" had murdered one of its own members, Ivan Ivanov, on 21 November 1869, Dostoevsky began writing Demons. [81] In 1871, Dostoevsky and Anna travelled by train to Berlin. During the trip, he burnt several manuscripts, including those of The Idiot, because he was concerned about potential problems with customs. The family arrived in Saint Petersburg on 8 July, marking the end of a honeymoon (originally planned for three months) that had lasted over four years. [82] [83]

        Back in Russia (1871–1875) Edit

        Back in Russia in July 1871, the family was again in financial trouble and had to sell their remaining possessions. Their son Fyodor was born on 16 July, and they moved to an apartment near the Institute of Technology soon after. They hoped to cancel their large debts by selling their rental house in Peski, but difficulties with the tenant resulted in a relatively low selling price, and disputes with their creditors continued. Anna proposed that they raise money on her husband's copyrights and negotiate with the creditors to pay off their debts in installments. [84] [85]

        Dostoevsky revived his friendships with Maykov and Strakhov and made new acquaintances, including church politician Terty Filipov and the brothers Vsevolod and Vladimir Solovyov. Konstantin Pobedonostsev, future Imperial High Commissioner of the Most Holy Synod, influenced Dostoevsky's political progression to conservatism. Around early 1872 the family spent several months in Staraya Russa, a town known for its mineral spa. Dostoevsky's work was delayed when Anna's sister Maria Svatkovskaya died on 1 May 1872, either from typhus or malaria, [86] and Anna developed an abscess on her throat. [84] [87]

        The family returned to St Petersburg in September. Demons was finished on 26 November and released in January 1873 by the "Dostoevsky Publishing Company", which was founded by Dostoevsky and his wife. Although they only accepted cash payments and the bookshop was in their own apartment, the business was successful, and they sold around 3,000 copies of Demons. Anna managed the finances. Dostoevsky proposed that they establish a new periodical, which would be called A Writer's Diary and would include a collection of essays, but funds were lacking, and the Diary was published in Vladimir Meshchersky's The Citizen, beginning on 1 January, in return for a salary of 3,000 rubles per year. In the summer of 1873, Anna returned to Staraya Russa with the children, while Dostoevsky stayed in St Petersburg to continue with his Diary. [88] [89]

        In March 1874, Dostoevsky left The Citizen because of the stressful work and interference from the Russian bureaucracy. In his fifteen months with The Citizen, he had been taken to court twice: on 11 June 1873 for citing the words of Prince Meshchersky without permission, and again on 23 March 1874. Dostoevsky offered to sell a new novel he had not yet begun to write to The Russian Messenger, but the magazine refused. Nikolay Nekrasov suggested that he publish A Writer's Diary in Notes of the Fatherland he would receive 250 rubles for each printer's sheet – 100 more than the text's publication in The Russian Messenger would have earned. Dostoevsky accepted. As his health began to decline, he consulted several doctors in St Petersburg and was advised to take a cure outside Russia. Around July, he reached Ems and consulted a physician, who diagnosed him with acute catarrh. During his stay he began The Adolescent. He returned to Saint Petersburg in late July. [90] [91]

        Anna proposed that they spend the winter in Staraya Russa to allow Dostoevsky to rest, although doctors had suggested a second visit to Ems because his health had previously improved there. On 10 August 1875 his son Alexey was born in Staraya Russa, and in mid-September the family returned to Saint Petersburg. Dostoevsky finished The Adolescent at the end of 1875, although passages of it had been serialised in Notes of the Fatherland since January. The Adolescent chronicles the life of Arkady Dolgoruky, the illegitimate child of the landowner Versilov and a peasant mother. It deals primarily with the relationship between father and son, which became a frequent theme in Dostoevsky's subsequent works. [92] [93]

        Last years (1876–1881) Edit

        In early 1876, Dostoevsky continued work on his Diary. The book includes numerous essays and a few short stories about society, religion, politics and ethics. The collection sold more than twice as many copies as his previous books. Dostoevsky received more letters from readers than ever before, and people of all ages and occupations visited him. With assistance from Anna's brother, the family bought a dacha in Staraya Russa. In the summer of 1876, Dostoevsky began experiencing shortness of breath again. He visited Ems for the third time and was told that he might live for another 15 years if he moved to a healthier climate. When he returned to Russia, Tsar Alexander II ordered Dostoevsky to visit his palace to present the Diary to him, and he asked him to educate his sons, Sergey and Paul. This visit further increased Dosteyevsky's circle of acquaintances. He was a frequent guest in several salons in Saint Petersburg and met many famous people, including Princess Sophia Tolstaya, Yakov Polonsky, Sergei Witte, Alexey Suvorin, Anton Rubinstein and Ilya Repin. [94] [95]

        Dostoevsky's health declined further, and in March 1877 he had four epileptic seizures. Rather than returning to Ems, he visited Maly Prikol, a manor near Kursk. While returning to St Petersburg to finalise his Diary, he visited Darovoye, where he had spent much of his childhood. In December he attended Nekrasov's funeral and gave a speech. He was appointed an honorary member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, from which he received an honorary certificate in February 1879. He declined an invitation to an international congress on copyright in Paris after his son Alyosha had a severe epileptic seizure and died on 16 May. The family later moved to the apartment where Dostoevsky had written his first works. Around this time, he was elected to the board of directors of the Slavic Benevolent Society in Saint Petersburg. That summer, he was elected to the honorary committee of the Association Littéraire et Artistique Internationale, whose members included Victor Hugo, Ivan Turgenev, Paul Heyse, Alfred Tennyson, Anthony Trollope, Henry Longfellow, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Leo Tolstoy. Dostoevsky made his fourth and final visit to Ems in early August 1879. He was diagnosed with early-stage pulmonary emphysema, which his doctor believed could be successfully managed, but not cured. [96] [97]

        On 3 February 1880 Dostoevsky was elected vice-president of the Slavic Benevolent Society, and he was invited to speak at the unveiling of the Pushkin memorial in Moscow. On 8 June he delivered his speech, giving an impressive performance that had a significant emotional impact on his audience. His speech was met with thunderous applause, and even his long-time rival Turgenev embraced him. Konstantin Staniukovich praised the speech in his essay "The Pushkin Anniversary and Dostoevsky's Speech" in The Business, writing that "the language of Dostoevsky's [Pushkin Speech] really looks like a sermon. He speaks with the tone of a prophet. He makes a sermon like a pastor it is very deep, sincere, and we understand that he wants to impress the emotions of his listeners." [98] The speech was criticised later by liberal political scientist Alexander Gradovsky, who thought that Dostoevsky idolised "the people", [99] and by conservative thinker Konstantin Leontiev, who, in his essay "On Universal Love", compared the speech to French utopian socialism. [100] The attacks led to a further deterioration in his health. [101] [102]

        On 6 February [O.S. 25 January] 1881, while searching for members of the terrorist organisation Narodnaya Volya ("The People's Will") who would soon assassinate Tsar Alexander II, the Tsar's secret police executed a search warrant in the apartment of one of Dostoevsky's neighbours. [ citation needed ] On the following day, Dostoevsky suffered a pulmonary haemorrhage. Anna denied that the search had caused it, saying that the haemorrhage had occurred after her husband had been looking for a dropped pen holder. [f] After another haemorrhage, Anna called the doctors, who gave a poor prognosis. A third haemorrhage followed shortly afterwards. [106] [107] While seeing his children before dying, Dostoevsky requested that the parable of the Prodigal Son be read to his children. The profound meaning of this request is pointed out by Frank:

        It was this parable of transgression, repentance, and forgiveness that he wished to leave as a last heritage to his children, and it may well be seen as his own ultimate understanding of the meaning of his life and the message of his work. [108]

        Among Dostoevsky's last words was his quotation of Matthew 3:14–15: "But John forbad him, saying, I have a need to be baptised of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness", and he finished with "Hear now—permit it. Do not restrain me!" [109] When he died, his body was placed on a table, following Russian custom. He was interred in the Tikhvin Cemetery at the Alexander Nevsky Convent, [110] near his favourite poets, Nikolay Karamzin and Vasily Zhukovsky. It is unclear how many attended his funeral. According to one reporter, more than 100,000 mourners were present, while others describe attendance between 40,000 and 50,000. His tombstone is inscribed with lines from the New Testament: [106] [111]

        Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it dies, it bringeth forth much fruit.

        Extramarital affairs Edit

        Dostoevsky had his first known affair with Avdotya Yakovlevna, whom he met in the Panayev circle in the early 1840s. He described her as educated, interested in literature, and a femme fatale. [112] He admitted later that he was uncertain about their relationship. [113] According to Anna Dostoevskaya's memoirs, Dostoevsky once asked his sister's sister-in-law, Yelena Ivanova, whether she would marry him, hoping to replace her mortally ill husband after he died, but she rejected his proposal. [114]

        Dostoevsky and Apollonia (Polina) Suslova had a short but intimate affair, which peaked in the winter of 1862–1863. Suslova's dalliance with a Spaniard in late spring and Dostoevsky's gambling addiction and age ended their relationship. He later described her in a letter to Nadezhda Suslova as a "great egoist. Her egoism and her vanity are colossal. She demands everything of other people, all the perfections, and does not pardon the slightest imperfection in the light of other qualities that one may possess", and later stated "I still love her, but I do not want to love her any more. She doesn't deserve this love . " [59] In 1858 Dostoevsky had a romance with comic actress Aleksandra Ivanovna Schubert. Although she divorced Dostoevsky's friend Stepan Yanovsky, she would not live with him. Dostoevsky did not love her either, but they were probably good friends. She wrote that he "became very attracted to me". [115] [116]

        Through a worker in Epoch, Dostoevsky learned of the Russian-born Martha Brown (née Elizaveta Andreyevna Chlebnikova), who had had affairs with several westerners. Her relationship with Dostoevsky is known only through letters written between November 1864 and January 1865. [117] [118] In 1865, Dostoevsky met Anna Korvin-Krukovskaya. Their relationship is not verified Anna Dostoevskaya spoke of a good affair, but Korvin-Krukovskaya's sister, the mathematician Sofia Kovalevskaya, thought that Korvin-Krukovskaya had rejected him. [119]

        Political beliefs Edit

        In his youth, Dostoevsky enjoyed reading Nikolai Karamzin's History of the Russian State, which praised conservatism and Russian independence, ideas that Dostoevsky would embrace later in life. Before his arrest for participating in the Petrashevsky Circle in 1849, Dostoevsky remarked, "As far as I am concerned, nothing was ever more ridiculous than the idea of a republican government in Russia." In an 1881 edition of his Diaries, Dostoevsky stated that the Tsar and the people should form a unity: "For the people, the tsar is not an external power, not the power of some conqueror . but a power of all the people, an all-unifying power the people themselves desired." [120]

        While critical of serfdom, Dostoevsky was skeptical about the creation of a constitution, a concept he viewed as unrelated to Russia's history. He described it as a mere "gentleman's rule" and believed that "a constitution would simply enslave the people". He advocated social change instead, for example removal of the feudal system and a weakening of the divisions between the peasantry and the affluent classes. His ideal was a utopian, Christianized Russia where "if everyone were actively Christian, not a single social question would come up . If they were Christians they would settle everything". [121] He thought democracy and oligarchy were poor systems of France he wrote, "the oligarchs are only concerned with the interest of the wealthy the democrats, only with the interest of the poor but the interests of society, the interest of all and the future of France as a whole—no one there bothers about these things." [121] He maintained that political parties ultimately led to social discord. In the 1860s, he discovered Pochvennichestvo, a movement similar to Slavophilism in that it rejected Europe's culture and contemporary philosophical movements, such as nihilism and materialism. Pochvennichestvo differed from Slavophilism in aiming to establish, not an isolated Russia, but a more open state modelled on the Russia of Peter the Great. [121]

        In his incomplete article "Socialism and Christianity", Dostoevsky claimed that civilisation ("the second stage in human history") had become degraded, and that it was moving towards liberalism and losing its faith in God. He asserted that the traditional concept of Christianity should be recovered. He thought that contemporary western Europe had "rejected the single formula for their salvation that came from God and was proclaimed through revelation, 'Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself', and replaced it with practical conclusions such as, ' Chacun pour soi et Dieu pour tous ' [Every man for himself and God for all], or "scientific" slogans like 'the struggle for survival ' ". [120] He considered this crisis to be the consequence of the collision between communal and individual interests, brought about by a decline in religious and moral principles.

        Dostoevsky distinguished three "enormous world ideas" prevalent in his time: Roman Catholicism, Protestantism and (Russian) Orthodoxy. He claimed that Catholicism had continued the tradition of Imperial Rome and had thus become anti-Christian and proto-socialist, inasmuch as the Church's interest in political and mundane affairs led it to abandon the idea of Christ. For Dostoevsky, socialism was "the latest incarnation of the Catholic idea" and its "natural ally". [122] He found Protestantism self-contradictory and claimed that it would ultimately lose power and spirituality. He deemed (Russian) Orthodoxy to be the ideal form of Christianity.

        For all that, to place Dostoevsky politically is not that simple, but: as a Christian, he rejected the atheistic socialism as a traditionalist, he rejected the destruction of the institutions and, as a pacifist, he rejected any violent method or upheaval led by both progressives or reactionaries. He supported private property and business rights, and did not agree with many criticisms of the free market from the socialist utopians of his time. [123] [124]

        During the Russo-Turkish War, Dostoevsky asserted that war might be necessary if salvation were to be granted. He wanted the Muslim Ottoman Empire eliminated and the Christian Byzantine Empire restored, and he hoped for the liberation of Balkan Slavs and their unification with the Russian Empire. [120]

        Racial beliefs Edit

        Jewish characters in Dostoevsky's works have been described as displaying negative stereotypes. [125] In a letter to Arkady Kovner from 1877, a Jew who had accused Dostoevsky of antisemitism, he replied with the following:

        "I am not an enemy of the Jews at all and never have been. But as you say, its 40-century existence proves that this tribe has exceptional vitality, which would not help, during the course of its history, taking the form of various Status in Statu . how can they fail to find themselves, even if only partially, at variance with the indigenous population – the Russian tribe?" [126]

        Dostoevsky held negative views of the Ottoman Turks, dedicating multiple pages to them in his "Writer's Diary", professing the need to have no pity for Turks at war and no regrets in killing Turks and depopulating Istanbul of the Turkish population and shipping it to Asia. [127]

        Religious beliefs Edit

        Dostoevsky was an Orthodox Christian [128] who was raised in a religious family and knew the Gospel from a very young age. [129] He was influenced by the Russian translation of Johannes Hübner's One Hundred and Four Sacred Stories from the Old and New Testaments Selected for Children (partly a German bible for children and partly a catechism). [130] [129] [131] He attended Sunday liturgies from an early age and took part in annual pilgrimages to the St. Sergius Trinity Monastery. [132] A deacon at the hospital gave him religious instruction. [131] Among his most cherished childhood memories were reciting prayers in front of guests and reading passages from the Book of Job that impressed him while "still almost a child." [133]

        According to an officer at the military academy, Dostoevsky was profoundly religious, followed Orthodox practice, and regularly read the Gospels and Heinrich Zschokke's Die Stunden der Andacht ("Hours of Devotion"), which "preached a sentimental version of Christianity entirely free from dogmatic content and with a strong emphasis on giving Christian love a social application." This book may have prompted his later interest in Christian socialism. [134] Through the literature of Hoffmann, Balzac, Eugène Sue, and Goethe, Dostoevsky created his own belief system, similar to Russian sectarianism and the Old Belief. [134] After his arrest, aborted execution, and subsequent imprisonment, he focused intensely on the figure of Christ and on the New Testament: the only book allowed in prison. [135] In a January 1854 letter to the woman who had sent him the New Testament, Dostoevsky wrote that he was a "child of unbelief and doubt up to this moment, and I am certain that I shall remain so to the grave." He also wrote that "even if someone were to prove to me that the truth lay outside Christ, I should choose to remain with Christ rather than with the truth." [136]

        In Semipalatinsk, Dostoevsky revived his faith by looking frequently at the stars. Wrangel said that he was "rather pious, but did not often go to church, and disliked priests, especially the Siberian ones. But he spoke about Christ ecstatically." Both planned to translate Hegel's works and Carus' Psyche. Two pilgrimages and two works by Dmitri Rostovsky, an archbishop who influenced Ukrainian and Russian literature by composing groundbreaking religious plays, strengthened his beliefs. [137] Through his visits to western Europe and discussions with Herzen, Grigoriev, and Strakhov, Dostoevsky discovered the Pochvennichestvo movement and the theory that the Catholic Church had adopted the principles of rationalism, legalism, materialism, and individualism from ancient Rome and had passed on its philosophy to Protestantism and consequently to atheistic socialism. [138]

        Dostoevsky's canon includes novels, novellas, novelettes, short stories, essays, pamphlets, limericks, epigrams and poems. He wrote more than 700 letters, a dozen of which are lost. [139]

        Dostoevsky expressed religious, psychological, and philosophical ideas in his writings. His works explore such themes as suicide, poverty, human manipulation, and morality. Psychological themes include dreaming, first seen in "White Nights", [140] and the father-son relationship, beginning in The Adolescent. [141] Most of his works demonstrate a vision of the chaotic sociopolitical structure of contemporary Russia. [142] His early works viewed society (for example, the differences between poor and rich) through the lens of literary realism and naturalism. The influences of other writers, particularly evident in his early works, led to accusations of plagiarism, [143] [144] but his style gradually became more individual. After his release from prison, Dostoevsky incorporated religious themes, especially those of Russian Orthodoxy, into his writing. Elements of gothic fiction, [145] romanticism, [146] and satire [147] are observable in some of his books. He frequently used autobiographical or semi-autobiographical details.

        An important stylistic element in Dostoevsky's writing is polyphony, the simultaneous presence of multiple narrative voices and perspectives. Polyphony is a literary concept, analogous with musical polyphony, developed by Mikhail Bakhtin on the basis of his analyses of Dostoevsky's works. [148] Kornelije Kvas wrote that Bakhtin's theory of "the polyphonic novel and Dostoevsky’s dialogicness of narration postulates the non-existence of the 'final' word, which is why the thoughts, emotions and experiences of the world of the narrator and his/her characters are reflected through the words of another, with which they can never fully blend." [149]

        Reception and influence Edit

        Dostoevsky is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential novelists of the Golden Age of Russian literature. [150] Leo Tolstoy admired Dostoevsky's works and considered his novels magnificent (correspondingly, Dostoevsky admired Tolstoy as well). [151] Albert Einstein put him above the mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss, calling him a "great religious writer" who explores "the mystery of spiritual existence". [152] Friedrich Nietzsche at one point called Dostoevsky "the only psychologist . from whom I had something to learn he ranks among the most beautiful strokes of fortune in my life." [153] [154] Hermann Hesse enjoyed Dostoevsky's work and cautioned that to read him is like a "glimpse into the havoc". [155] The Norwegian novelist Knut Hamsun wrote that "no one has analyzed the complicated human structure as Dostoyevsky. His psychologic sense is overwhelming and visionary." [156] The Russian literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin's analysis of Dostoevsky came to be at the foundation of his theory of the novel. Bakhtin argued that Dostoevsky's use of multiple voices was a major advancement in the development of the novel as a genre. [148]

        In his posthumous collection of sketches A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway stated that in Dostoevsky "there were things believable and not to be believed, but some so true that they changed you as you read them frailty and madness, wickedness and saintliness, and the insanity of gambling were there to know". [157] James Joyce praised Dostoevsky's prose: ". he is the man more than any other who has created modern prose, and intensified it to its present-day pitch. It was his explosive power which shattered the Victorian novel with its simpering maidens and ordered commonplaces books which were without imagination or violence." [158] In her essay The Russian Point of View, Virginia Woolf said, "Out of Shakespeare there is no more exciting reading". [159] Franz Kafka called Dostoevsky his "blood-relative" [160] and was heavily influenced by his works, particularly The Brothers Karamazov and Crime and Punishment, both of which profoundly influenced The Trial. [161] Sigmund Freud called The Brothers Karamazov "the most magnificent novel ever written". [162] Modern cultural movements such as the surrealists, the existentialists and the Beats cite Dostoevsky as an influence, [163] and he is cited as the forerunner of Russian symbolism, [164] existentialism, [165] expressionism [166] and psychoanalysis. [167] In her essay What Is Romanticism?, Russian-American author Ayn Rand wrote that Dostoevsky was one of the two greatest novelists (the other being Victor Hugo). [168] Argentinian writer Julio Cortázar also mentions Dostoevsky in his novel Hopscotch.

        Honours Edit

        In 1956 an olive-green postage stamp dedicated to Dostoevsky was released in the Soviet Union, with a print run of 1,000 copies. [169] A Dostoevsky Museum was opened on 12 November 1971 in the apartment where he wrote his first and final novels. [170] A crater on Mercury was named after him in 1979, and a minor planet discovered in 1981 by Lyudmila Karachkina was named 3453 Dostoevsky. Music critic and broadcaster Artemy Troitsky has hosted the radio show "FM Достоевский" (FM Dostoevsky) since 1997. [171] J.M. Coetzee featured Dostoevsky as the protagonist in his 1997 novel The Master of Petersburg. The famous Malayalam novel Oru Sankeerthanam Pole by Perumbadavam Sreedharan deals with the life of Dostoevsky and his love affair with Anna. [172] Viewers of the TV show Name of Russia voted him the ninth greatest Russian of all time, behind chemist Dmitry Mendeleev and ahead of ruler Ivan IV. [173] An Eagle Award-winning TV series directed by Vladimir Khotinenko about Dostoevsky's life was screened in 2011.

        Numerous memorials were inaugurated in cities and regions such as Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Semipalatinsk, Kusnetsk, Darovoye, Staraya Russa, Lyublino, Tallinn, Dresden, Baden-Baden and Wiesbaden. The Dostoyevskaya metro station in Saint Petersburg was opened on 30 December 1991, and the station of the same name in Moscow was opened on 19 June 2010, the 75th anniversary of the Moscow Metro. The Moscow station is decorated with murals by artist Ivan Nikolaev depicting scenes from Dostoevsky's works, such as controversial suicides. [174] [175]

        Criticism Edit

        Dostoevsky's work did not always gain a positive reception. Some critics, such as Nikolay Dobrolyubov, Ivan Bunin and Vladimir Nabokov, viewed his writing as excessively psychological and philosophical rather than artistic. Others found fault with chaotic and disorganised plots, and others, like Turgenev, objected to "excessive psychologising" and too-detailed naturalism. His style was deemed "prolix, repetitious and lacking in polish, balance, restraint and good taste". Saltykov-Shchedrin, Nikolay Mikhaylovsky and others criticised his puppet-like characters, most prominently in The Idiot, Demons (The Possessed, The Devils) [176] and The Brothers Karamazov. These characters were compared to those of Hoffmann, an author whom Dostoevsky admired. [177]

        Basing his estimation on stated criteria of enduring art and individual genius, Nabokov judges Dostoevsky "not a great writer, but rather a mediocre one—with flashes of excellent humour but, alas, with wastelands of literary platitudes in between". Nabokov complains that the novels are peopled by "neurotics and lunatics" and states that Dostoevsky's characters do not develop: "We get them all complete at the beginning of the tale and so they remain." He finds the novels full of contrived "surprises and complications of plot", which are effective when first read, but on second reading, without the shock and benefit of these surprises, appear loaded with "glorified cliché". [178] The Scottish poet and critic Edwin Muir, however, addressed this criticism, noting that "regarding the 'oddness' of Dostoevsky's characters, it has been pointed out that they perhaps only seem 'pathological', whereas in reality they are 'only visualized more clearly than any figures in imaginative literature'. [179]

        Reputation Edit

        Dostoevsky's books have been translated into more than 170 languages. [180] The German translator Wilhelm Wolfsohn published one of the first translations, parts of Poor Folk, in an 1846–1847 magazine, [181] and a French translation followed. French, German and Italian translations usually came directly from the original, while English translations were second-hand and of poor quality. [182] The first English translations were by Marie von Thilo in 1881, but the first highly regarded ones were produced between 1912 and 1920 by Constance Garnett. [183] Her flowing and easy translations helped popularise Dostoevsky's novels in anglophone countries, and Bakthin's Problems of Dostoevsky's Creative Art (1929) (republished and revised as Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics in 1963) provided further understanding of his style. [184]

        Dostoevsky's works were interpreted in film and on stage in many different countries. Princess Varvara Dmitrevna Obolenskaya was among the first to propose staging Crime and Punishment. Dostoevsky did not refuse permission, but he advised against it, as he believed that "each art corresponds to a series of poetic thoughts, so that one idea cannot be expressed in another non-corresponding form". His extensive explanations in opposition to the transposition of his works into other media were groundbreaking in fidelity criticism. He thought that just one episode should be dramatised, or an idea should be taken and incorporated into a separate plot. [185] According to critic Alexander Burry, some of the most effective adaptions are Sergei Prokofiev's opera The Gambler, Leoš Janáček's opera From the House of the Dead, Akira Kurosawa's film The Idiot and Andrzej Wajda's film The Possessed. [186]

        After the 1917 Russian Revolution, passages of Dostoevsky books were sometimes shortened, although only two books were censored: Demons [187] and Diary of a Writer. [188] His philosophy, particularly in Demons, was deemed anti-capitalist but also anti-Communist and reactionary. [189] [190] According to historian Boris Ilizarov, Stalin read Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov several times. [191]

        Dostoevsky's works of fiction include 15 novels and novellas, 17 short stories, and 5 translations. Many of his longer novels were first published in serialised form in literary magazines and journals. The years given below indicate the year in which the novel's final part or first complete book edition was published. In English many of his novels and stories are known by different titles.

        Major works Edit

        Poor Folk Edit

        Poor Folk is an epistolary novel that describes the relationship between the small, elderly official Makar Devushkin and the young seamstress Varvara Dobroselova, remote relatives who write letters to each other. Makar's tender, sentimental adoration for Varvara and her confident, warm friendship for him explain their evident preference for a simple life, although it keeps them in humiliating poverty. An unscrupulous merchant finds the inexperienced girl and hires her as his housewife and guarantor. He sends her to a manor somewhere on a steppe, while Makar alleviates his misery and pain with alcohol.

        The story focuses on poor people who struggle with their lack of self-esteem. Their misery leads to the loss of their inner freedom, to dependence on the social authorities, and to the extinction of their individuality. Dostoevsky shows how poverty and dependence are indissolubly aligned with deflection and deformation of self-esteem, combining inward and outerward suffering. [192]

        Notes from Underground Edit

        Notes from Underground is split into two stylistically different parts, the first essay-like, the second in narrative style. The protagonist and first-person narrator is an unnamed 40-year-old civil servant known as The Underground Man. The only known facts about his situation are that he has quit the service, lives in a basement flat on the outskirts of Saint Petersburg and finances his livelihood from a modest inheritance.

        The first part is a record of his thoughts about society and his character. He describes himself as vicious, squalid and ugly the chief focuses of his polemic are the "modern human" and his vision of the world, which he attacks severely and cynically, and towards which he develops aggression and vengefulness. He considers his own decline natural and necessary. Although he emphasises that he does not intend to publish his notes for the public, the narrator appeals repeatedly to an ill-described audience, whose questions he tries to address.

        In the second part he describes scenes from his life that are responsible for his failure in personal and professional life and in his love life. He tells of meeting old school friends, who are in secure positions and treat him with condescension. His aggression turns inward on to himself and he tries to humiliate himself further. He presents himself as a possible saviour to the poor prostitute Lisa, advising her to reject self-reproach when she looks to him for hope. Dostoevsky added a short commentary saying that although the storyline and characters are fictional, such things were inevitable in contemporary society.

        The Underground Man was very influential on philosophers. His alienated existence from the mainstream influenced modernist literature. [193] [194]

        Crime and Punishment Edit

        The novel Crime and Punishment has received both critical and popular acclaim, and is often cited as Dostoevsky's magnum opus. [195] [196] [197] [198] [199] To this date, Crime and Punishment remains one of the most influential and widely read novels in Russian literature. [200]

        The novel describes the fictional Rodion Raskolnikov's life, from the murder of a pawnbroker and her sister, through spiritual regeneration with the help and love of Sonya (a "hooker with a heart of gold"), to his sentence in Siberia. Strakhov liked the novel, remarking that "Only Crime and Punishment was read in 1866" and that Dostoevsky had managed to portray a Russian person aptly and realistically. [201] On the other hand, Grigory Eliseev of the radical magazine The Contemporary called the novel a "fantasy according to which the entire student body is accused without exception of attempting murder and robbery". [202] Richard Louire, writing for the New York Times, praised the book and stated that the novel changed his life. [203] In an article for the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Patricia Bauer argued that Crime and Punishment is both "a masterpiece" and "one of the finest studies of the psychopathology of guilt written in any language." [204]

        The Idiot Edit

        The novel's protagonist, the 26-year-old Prince Myshkin, returns to Russia after several years at a Swiss sanatorium. Scorned by Saint Petersburg society for his trusting nature and naivety, he finds himself at the center of a struggle between a beautiful kept woman, Nastasya, and a jealous but pretty young girl, Aglaya, both of whom win his affection. Unfortunately, Myshkin's goodness precipitates disaster, leaving the impression that, in a world obsessed with money, power and sexual conquest, a sanatorium may be the only place for a saint. Myshkin is the personification of a "relatively beautiful man", namely Christ. Coming "from above" (the Swiss mountains), he physically resembles common depictions of Jesus Christ: slightly larger than average, with thick, blond hair, sunken cheeks and a thin, almost entirely white goatee. Like Christ, Myshkin is a teacher, confessor and mysterious outsider. Passions such as greed and jealousy are alien to him. In contrast to those around him, he puts no value on money and power. He feels compassion and love, sincerely, without judgment. His relationship with the immoral Nastasya is obviously inspired by Christ's relationship with Mary Magdalene. He is called "Idiot" because of such differences. [82] [205]

        Demons Edit

        The story of Demons (sometimes also titled The Possessed or The Devils) [176] is based largely on the murder of Ivan Ivanov by "People's Vengeance" members in 1869. It was influenced by the Book of Revelation. The secondary characters, Pyotr and Stepan Verkhovensky, are based on Sergei Nechayev and Timofey Granovsky respectively. [206] The novel takes place in a provincial Russian setting, primarily on the estates of Stepan Verkhovensky and Varvara Stavrogina. Stepan's son Pyotr is an aspiring revolutionary conspirator who attempts to organise revolutionaries in the area. He considers Varvara's son Nikolai central to his plot, because he thinks that Nikolai lacks sympathy for mankind. Pyotr gathers conspirators such as the philosophising Shigalyov, the suicidal Kirillov and the former military man Virginsky. He schemes to consolidate their loyalty to him and each other by murdering Ivan Shatov, a fellow conspirator. Pyotr plans to have Kirillov, who is committed to killing himself, take credit for the murder in his suicide note. Kirillov complies and Pyotr murders Shatov, but his scheme goes awry. Pyotr escapes, but the remainder of his aspiring revolutionary crew is arrested. In the denouement, Nikolai kills himself, tortured by his own misdeeds.

        The Brothers Karamazov Edit

        At nearly 800 pages, The Brothers Karamazov is Dostoevsky's largest work. It received both critical and popular acclaim and is often cited as his magnum opus. [207] Composed of 12 "books", the novel tells the story of the novice Alyosha Karamazov, the non-believer Ivan Karamazov and the soldier Dmitri Karamazov. The first books introduce the Karamazovs. The main plot is the death of their father Fyodor, while other parts are philosophical and religious arguments by Father Zosima to Alyosha. [208] [209]

        The most famous chapter is "The Grand Inquisitor", a parable told by Ivan to Alyosha about Christ's Second Coming in Seville, Spain, in which Christ is imprisoned by a ninety-year-old Catholic Grand Inquisitor. Instead of answering him, Christ gives him a kiss, and the Inquisitor subsequently releases him, telling him not to return. The tale was misunderstood as a defence of the Inquisitor, but some, such as Romano Guardini, have argued that the Christ of the parable was Ivan's own interpretation of Christ, "the idealistic product of the unbelief". Ivan, however, has stated that he is against Christ. Most contemporary critics and scholars agree that Dostoevsky is attacking Roman Catholicism and socialist atheism, both represented by the Inquisitor. He warns the readers against a terrible revelation in the future, referring to the Donation of Pepin around 750 and the Spanish Inquisition in the 16th century, which in his view corrupted true Christianity. [210] [208] [209]

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