The Ancient World Online.

A reader (thanks, Bruce!) sent me a link to AWOL – The Ancient World Online, saying it has access to “all kinds of good stuff,” and he was right!

AWOL is a project of Charles E. Jones, Tombros Librarian for Classics and Humanities at the Pattee Library, Penn State University […]

The primary focus of the project is notice and comment on open access material relating to the ancient world, but I will also include other kinds of networked information as it comes available.

The latest post is Newly Open Access Journal: Archäologie in Ägypten (“Magazine of the German Archaeological Institute Cairo”); below an updated one from 2011, there’s Machine Translation and Automated Analysis of the Sumerian Language; there’s a sidebar of Open Philology Project digitized books (UPDATE: Miles gloriosvs, Volume Tom. 4, fasc. 2; NEW: Parmènide, Volume T. 8, Partie 1); in short, there’s all kinds of good stuff — check it out!


  1. Chuck Jones says

    Thanks for the plug! Glad you like it.

  2. My pleasure — thanks for creating it!

  3. Trond Engen says

    I’ve started looking at Textile Terminologies from the Orient to the Mediterranean and Europe, 1000 BC to 1000 AD. I think it’s written for marie-lucie, though.

  4. Wow, a 541-page book with articles on all sorts of fascinating topics about textile terminology, all for free — what a world!

  5. marie-lucie says

    Why can’t I read it? I click, a blank page comes. That’s it. Help!

  6. Weird, it should link to a pdf file.

  7. Stu Clayton says

    It’s some file, not a website. Chrome on my smartphone asked me for permission to “update my settings” in order to download the file. I refused permission. Marie-Lucie, you shouldn’t download files from sites unknown to you – not on a smartphone ever, but only on your PC and only provided you have anti-virus software running.

  8. Stu Clayton says

    It’s not clear from the URL that it’s a PDF. Here is the URL, mangled by me to prevent linking:

    h t tp: digitalcommons .unl .edu / cgi /viewcontent cgi ?article=1056&context=zeabook

  9. But I want to know about textiles in 1050 AD. Truly the darkest timeline.

  10. Marie-Lucie, you shouldn’t download files from sites unknown to you – not on a smartphone ever, but only on your PC and only provided you have anti-virus software running.

    Assuming she does have anti-virus software running (which surely we all do), there’s no reason why she shouldn’t download this file. There’s such a thing as excessive paranoia. This is an academic edited book, not a get-rich-quick scheme.

  11. Stu Clayton says

    Marue-Lucie, if you like I’ll download this file, virus-check it and send it to you by email. I would first check how large it is, though.

  12. marie-lucie says

    Stu, I did not know I was trying to download a file, I just wanted to read at least some of it to see the kind of document it was. I have a Mac, I think it has anti-virus software, but I usually only download documents sent to me by people I trust.

  13. Stu Clayton says

    Steve, this is not about scams, but malware. Random URLs are highjacked all the time.

    What she experiences on her Mac, and what I just experienced on my Samsung, should not be happening if the Javascript were plain-vanilla Javascript.

    You’re welcome to pooh-pooh caution about things beyond your ken. I will continue to urge caution about things beyond the ken of those on whom I am urging it.

  14. Stu Clayton says

    Marie-Lucie, I have occasionally, in Chrome (safest browser by far provided you keep it uodated) on my laptop, clicked a link and got what *seemed* to be a blank page. When I looked at the HTML, though, the page was not empty. This does not happen when the page is set up by a professional programmer.

    Something is wrong here. Your browser may even have a PDF reader, which should cut in if all were well. But it doesn’t, so not all is well.

    Providing a link to a PDF which downloads automatically (if you’ve set your browser settings to do just that) is so simple even I could do it. This is clearly not such a link.

  15. Stu Clayton says

    Marie-Lucie, you were lucky that you got a blank page. On my Samsung, Chrome warned me that my settings were not adequate for whatever was about to happen, and asked for a decision. My decision was NO, because I should not be having to make a decision if all were as it should be.

  16. Stu Clayton says

    Since this book reportedly has 541 pages, it may be much bigger than Samsung free memory could handle, or take too long. In this case there is probably a setting such as “download files without asking unless larger than X bytes, in which case ask me first”.

    Trouble is, the Chrome dialog didn’t say that. It just wanted to “update my settings”. And when I looked at the URL, no “.pdf” name extension was present.

    I’ve gone on long enough about this. All I am trying to do is show what caution should look like in the Internet. Malware, people, not get-rich-quick.

  17. But I see no reason why there should be malware on a site like that. In any event, I’ve written Chuck to ask him to take a look.

  18. Stu Clayton says

    Good move to notify Chuck.

    What do you mean by “a site like that” ? Perhaps you don’t know what “hijack” means here. It means gaining access to the web server and altering the HTML content sent to the user, or redirecting the user to another site – all without the knowledge of the web server operator.

    There is NEVER a “reason why there should be malware on a site like that”, nor on any site. And yet malware gets in there. Fancy that ! Could it be that that is why it’s called malware ?

  19. It’s a big file for sure (a little more than 53 MB), and lots of software has trouble with large files, but it is perfectly safe to download (it took about 2 minutes on a DSL in rural VA where I am at the moment inside the United States National Radio Quiet Zone). I go to considerable effort to examine each of the scholarly resources I list in AWOL. I am, myself, deeply grateful to the scholars who choose to share the results of their research free of charge to anyone who wishes to read it.

    I’d welcome communication, public or private, on ways I might improve the Ancient World Online.

    With best wishes,

    -Chuck Jones-
    Editor, AWOL

  20. Trond Engen says

    OK. Much happening while I’m busy.

    I found a link to the book on AWOL. The link brought me to a page at the Digital Commons domain run by the University of Nebraska Lincoln. The page contains the usual summary and details, and there’s a link for downloading the full text. Downpage there’s another link to a secondary page with links to the individual chapters, all indicated to be pdf-files. None of the links themselves show the file type of the linked object, which I dislike, but I’ve seen it before on other sites using Digital Commons, and unl edu itself is trustworthy. Since I’m on my laptop computer and can handle 53 MB, I chose “Download Full Text”. As expected it was a pdf-file, and I didn’t think more of it.

    The book looked interesting, so I linked to it, but I obviously should have made explicit what file type it was and what site.

  21. Thanks, Chuck and Trond!

  22. Trond Engen says

    A random example from elsewhere: University of Pennsylvania’s Scholarly Commons, P. A. Lorge: War and the Creation of the Northern Song State.

  23. Stu Clayton says

    Trond, it is no longer sufficient, with regard to software and the Internet, to go by appearances and cachet when assessing the “trustworthiness” of a site. Are you essentially implying here that unl in particular, or edu in general, is “trustworthy” because academic ?

    It can be known that “trustworthy” now must cover the software update policies of the website operators. About that we know nothing in most cases – apart from asseverations that convince until the shit hits the fan.

    The professors involved may be just as harmless and cuddly as can be, but this is not about their personalities and probity. It’s about whether their toilets leak because the janitors are ignorant or careless.

    This year’s Wannabe ransomware attack felled parts of two American universities, others elsewhere and also old-style-trustworthy institutions like the NHS. These places didn’t patch their software regularly – and even professors are gullible when they click on email attachments without thinking.

  24. Trond Engen says

    No, I don’t, but as I said, there’s nothing that appears irregular seen from my side. No malware was detected by the protection provided by my employer. The indirect link, while annoying, is a regular feature of Digital Commons. I can’t say what caused the file not to load on marie-lucie’s computer, or yours, but I suspect it may have to do with the indirect link, or with file size. But please explain. I’m no expert and I’ll believe what knowledgable people tell me.

  25. “Hijacking” is not much different from what happens when a bad guy puts arsenic or crushed glasses in glasses of tahin – either at the factory or in a retail outlet. The manufacturer and the supermarket may have quality controls, but these are statistical and can be gotten around by determined effort.

    For almost 4 decades now, software companies (IBM, Microsoft, Google, hardware driver companies and all the rest of them) have been in a rush to create PC software, peddle or give it away – in order to sell things and peddle more software. This software has for the most part been written without a thought for present and future dangers, indeed most programmers are pretty ignorant about what they are doing.

    The result has been software full of “bugs” (simple or complex programming mistakes) unknown to the manufacturer, that are exploited by baddies as soon as they discover them, before the manufacturers learn of them and fix them if they can. But the users where the software is installed may not patch their software with the manufacturer’s fixes. See the Wannabe ransomware attack, which exploited an old, old security weakness in Windows that Microsoft first discovered and fixed this year, publishing the fix in May, but too many users didn’t update. For the last 4 years at least, monthly “security fixes” are published by IBM, Windows, Google, Cisco, Apple, Adobe (one of the worst) … This will go on for decades, because “new” software is often pieced together in part from old software, which nobody understands, and commercial programmers for the most part still have the mentality of happy, ignorant children who do what they’re told.

    Analogical example of a security “bug”: a lock company issues a line of titanium Chubb locks for doors, but nobody notices for a long time that the lock unit can be simply unscrewed and removed from the door, allowing robbers to enter. At some point the company notices this flaw and recalls the locks, but not everyone hears of the recall (follows US-CERT notifications), or bothers to send the lock in (doesn’t apply the patch), and lots of houses continue to be broken into.

  26. Stu, you should meet my brother sometime. Computer network security is part of his job, and he’s appalled by my chuckleheadedly carefree attitude about it. You and he could have a high old time sharing horror stories and shaking your heads about my fecklessness.

  27. And anti-virus software has problems of its own. Bitdefender and Kaspersky Internet Security are the top AV products for professional programmers, according to every evaluation you find in the internet. I subscribed to Bitdefender this year, and soon after deinstalled it and forced the manufacturer to confirm in writing that I have cancelled my subscription. It caused my Lenovo i7 with 64-bit Windows Pro to hang up when shutting down, and changed the look of my taskbar. Tthere is no reason why antivirus software should be meddling with the taskbar. This made me suspicious.

    So I bought Kaspersky IS. It made it impossible for me to start my Java programs. It told me that my 64-bit Java 8 is a 16-bit version that can’t run. Kaspersky fixed that, and now the next problem is that I can’t start my Java eclipse development software because the launcher jar is supposedly “invalid or corrupt”. So I deinstalled Kaspersky IS. This is an extremely serious problem. Kaspersky has registered it under bug number 1772700, and after 4 weeks still has so solution.

    So then I bought the German Avira product. That worked OK until yesterday, when I was on a tight deadline and was trying to scan in 7 pages of a document that had a few pictures in it. The Samsung scan software stopped at the third page, claiming that “memory is full or something is kaputt”. After 30 minutes of fruitless struggling, I remembered that the last time I scanned in this *same* document was two months ago, *before* I installed Avira. So I shut Avira off, and could scan in the document.

  28. Steve, yeah, maybe I could learn something from your brother. “Sharing horror stories” is still fun – I just did it in re AV software – but I nowadays spend most of my time trying to get smart about this whole subject. It’s so incredibly complicated. In days of old it was all well and fine to know that you don’t know – now you can’t even be sure about that.

  29. Mistake: Microsoft published the Wannacry (not “Wannabe” !) security fix in March.

  30. Here’s a useful link: ‘;–have i been pwned? (“Check if you have an account that has been compromised in a data breach”). I seem not to have been pwned, amazingly.

  31. That “have I been pwned” site is run by Troy Hunt, known to me from Graham Cluley’s security news website www<dot>grahamcluley<dot>com. As well-known as Hunt’s site is, nobody (I searched the internet) seems to have noticed that it is in breach of data privacy.

    Consider this: anyone can enter anyone else’s email address there, and may then read “Oh no – pwned!” with summaries of what kind of data have been compromised. Instead of sending this information only to the entered address, it publicizes the information to whoever entered the address. This is the biggest piece of shit I have yet encountered this week.

    I just got this “Oh no – pwned!” message for two email addresses that are not mine, but belong to someone not a million miles from here who just rejoiced about not having been “pwned”.

    Consider a representative A at a small company thinking of doing business with customer B. In addition to checking B’s credit rating, the rep can go to haveibeenpwned to check on B. Suppose he finds there that B’s credit cards etc have supposedly been “pwned”. Average people like this rep, if they are honest at least with themselves, don’t know what “pwned” means (it’s like “fleas at the Ritz”). But average people also like to imagine they are savvy, so the rep may decide not to do business with B because he thinks B could be a financial risk.

    Note too that just below the “Oh no – pwned!” message is the following line:

    # Notify me when I get pwned __________ Donate #

    with links to subscribe and “donate”. Hmmm…..

  32. Look at the last sentence in this paragraph from the WiPe article on Hunt:

    # In February 2016, children’s toy maker VTech, who had suffered a major data breach months earlier, updated its terms of service to absolve itself of wrongdoing in the event of future breaches. Hunt, who had added the data from VTech’s breach to the databases of Have I Been Pwned?, published a blog post harshly criticizing VTech’s new policy, calling it “grossly negligent.”[7] He later removed the VTech breach from the database, citing that only two people besides himself had access to the data and wishing to reduce the chance of its spread.[8] #

    What does “its” mean in “reduce the chance of its spread” ? Is Hunt talking about spread of the VTech data, or of knowledge that this data is present at Hunt’s site and can be mined in the way offered ? This last is the point I am making. Hunt seems to have realized, or been forced by VTech to acknowledge, that exploiting their breach data in this way is not a good idea. Publicizing the information that certain breach data is available, and allowing it to be accessed by *anyone* in the way Hunt does, just compounds the breach. Data about data (“metadata”) is still data. Hunt is reponsible for a large-scale metadata breach, because of the way he allows metadata to be inspected.

    And yet Hunt hasn’t connected the dots to all the other data he has. Maybe this has something to do with donations and celebrity status.

  33. David Marjanović says

    could have a high old time sharing horror stories

    Like chemistry professors (about accidents) and middle-school teachers (about students).

  34. Hmmm indeed. Excellent points; I’m surprised nobody else has made a fuss about them.

  35. Stu Clayton says

    What does your brother think of what I wrote about Hunt’s site ?

  36. Oh, good lord, he doesn’t read LH, he has better things to do.

  37. My wife loyally reads the posts, but doesn’t read the comments.

  38. dammit, there are no better things to do than read lh

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