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Pebble mosaic found in 4th c. BC Greek bathhouse

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Archaeologists have discovered a pebble mosaic in a 4th century B.C. bathhouse in the ancient city of Ambrakia (modern-day Arta) in northwest Greece. The mosaic predates the bathhouse but matches it thematically, depicting animals and settings with connections to water.

Discovered during excavations of the Small Theater archaeological site, the mosaic adorns the floor of a circular space just northwest of the theater. It is more than 12 feet in diameter and was made using small white, off-white and dark river pebbles. The weren’t painted or treated, but shine from the natural polish imparted by untold aeons spent in the river current. Decorative accents were created using amber and red pebbles. One small section in the northwest section of the mosaic shows evidence of having been repaired in antiquity.

The mosaic is bounded by a spiral border one foot wide and in the center stars a five-tentacled octopus (pentapus?) with anime-large eyes. South of the cephalopod is a swan, wings spread as if attempting to take flight, with a rope around its neck that is held but a cupid figure standing on its right. In the southeast section is a dolphin with a cupid on its back. A female figure leads a swan in the west section, while in the northern section another cupid holds a swan by the leg. Also on the west side are two squirrels playing with something, toy or animal, that cannot be identified. To their right is a water fowl. The human figures have strips of amber pebbles over their torsos and arms, possibly representing scratches, and their lips are conveyed with pale yellow/cream pebbles. Facial features and details on the limbs are figured using very small pebbles.

A similar pebble mosaic floor was found under the eastern section of the theater in the 1970s. It also depicts winged cupids, swans and dolphins, but there are marked differences as well — the way the pebbles are embedded, the lack of color differences that convey dimension — which suggest it is older than the recently-discovered mosaic. It was raised in 1976 and moved the Archaeological Museum of Arta.

In a press statement, the Arta ephorate said the dating was based on architectural evidence and on comparisons with pebble mosaics found at the Ancient Corinth baths, dated to the mid-4th century.

The supervision of the excavations is carried out by archaeologist Nektarios-Petros Gioutsos and three conservators have already taken measures to preserve and stabilize the new find.

Arta, in western Greece, has been inhabited continuously from antiquity to the present, and the layered remains of older settlements are still visible in various parts of the present city. The Small Theater is situated in the center of the modern city.

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digdoug
2 days ago
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I want an Octopus mosaic in my bathroom.
Louisville, KY
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Your weekly Bruce

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I sweat just like Bruce! I sweat just like a man’s man who’s beloved by millions and an occasional embarrassment to bandmates who think he should commit his rocking in a much lower range!

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digdoug
9 days ago
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Bits like this make me respect this dude a lot.
Louisville, KY
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Life After Death on Wikipedia

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What pageviews tell us about how famous people are remembered after they die.
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digdoug
13 days ago
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this is a fantastic set of data and visualizations
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By cortex in "New Kids on the Block" on MeFi

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Look, we can have goats on your property in under two hours, any time, any day of the year. And for a reasonable fee, we won't.
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digdoug
13 days ago
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Louisville, KY
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Kevin Kelly | The Caret

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"When people have to stand by what they say they just behave better."

In the course of a career spent thinking and writing about digital culture, have you had any big philosophical shifts? Is there anything you’ve done a 180 on?

I favored the option of being anonymous online but I’ve come to change my mind on that and I now feel that anonymity is a very toxic thing except in very small doses. When people have to stand by what they say and they have a reputation to uphold they just behave better. I think a lot of the troubles we have right now with social media could be solved by insisting on true names.

You founded one of the first online communities, The Well. So do you feel partly responsible for setting the precedent for anonymity on the web?

We had pseudo-anonymity on The Well, actually. There were handles but you had to give a credit card number to join so you could find out who people were. We had one conference that was anonymous and it was a complete disaster. It became like 4Chan. It was just like a pit. It just very quickly devolved into horrible stuff. So that was the beginning of realizing the danger there. It was like unleashing the dark side when you do that.

Your job requires you to keep abreast of all the latest technologies, how do you decide which ones to incorporate into youownr life? What have you adopted and what have you decided to skip?

I have a Facebook account but I don’t read it. I just use it to post. I sort of polluted it in the early days by friending people who weren’t really my friends. I have a LinkedIn account but I’ve never used it. I have a Twitter account that I use with this app called Nuzzel, which surfaces the most popular links shared in my network. It’s fantastic because that’s what I’m looking for on Twitter—what people are reading, not so much what they’re saying. They also have an option where you can get what the friends of your friends are reading. That’s where the really interesting stuff comes because I start to get things that I wouldn’t normally see.

The first site I check in the morning is Hvper. It’s the entire internet on one page. It’s like the top 5 headlines of every possible news — the entire mediascape. It gives me a really good sense of what’s top of mind online and that’s very useful.

Our family hasn’t had TV ever, but I was one of Netflix’s first subscribers. I’m a big documentary fan. I actually have a site dedicated to my favorites called True Films. So I use Netflix and Amazon Prime to watch and boy this is the high time for documentaries. It’s almost impossible to keep up there are so many good ones.

Any that you’ve seen recently?

I just recommended “Living on One Dollar” on Recommendo. It’s about two gringos who try to live on a dollar a day in the highlands of Guatemala (because that’s the average income there). It turned out there was a huge amount of skill necessary to be able to live on that amount of money and they had to be taught by the locals. For instance, they weren’t getting enough calories and the secret was they needed to refry their beans in lard. It made this very abstract figure very real and it was a great illumination of how most of the world lives.

Oh and “AlphaGo”! There’s a documentary about AlphaGo, the Google AI that beat a human Go player. There was total denial in the beginning that the machine could win and you kind of see the humbling of the guy and feel for him as he loses.

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digdoug
13 days ago
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"I think one of the most powerful things you can do is turn something off that’s usually on, no matter what it is."
Louisville, KY
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Miles and Kilometers

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digdoug
17 days ago
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Louisville, KY
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