Original Text Adventure Source Code Examined

You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike.

The original text adventure game, ADVENT, was written in the mid-1970s by Stanford student Will Crowther. This game begat Zork, then King’s Quest, then any number of other adventure games on various computer platforms until the present day, when Second Life and World of Warcraft are scarcely recognisable as its descendants.

ADVENT is still around and has been ported to pretty much every machine in use today. But this is a late version of the game, expanded and beefed up by Don Woods. Crowther’s original version has long been considered lost. Yet now it has risen from the vaults, resurrected from 197670s backup tapes containing Crowther’s Woods’s student account!

Dennis G. Jerz has now published a long, thorough, well-illustrated study of the ur-version of ADVENT, comparing it both to the Woods version of the game and to the Colossal Cave in Kentucky that inspired Crowther’s game world. Seriously cool stuff!

Via Du är vad du läser.

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Alsengem Found in Sweden

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Alsengems are little multilayered button-like discs of coloured glass with incised human stick-figures on one side. Archaeology became aware of them in 1871 when one was found on the Danish island of Als. These gems are pretty coarse and ugly compared to the exquisite agate and intaglio ones of Classical antiquity, but they nevertheless have their place in an archaeologist’s heart.

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On the Continent, Alsengems are found as part of church art of the 11th through 13th centuries such as reliquaries, book covers and altar crosses. Their core area is the Netherlands, Lower Saxony and Frisia. In Scandinavia, they occur very sparingly in various archaeological contexts, suggesting that they were imported here on their own, not as part of larger objects. Perhaps they were kept as exclusive amulets. In Sweden, Alsengems are known from early towns such as Lund and Sigtuna and a few other places. Through their four-century floruit, the gems appear to have moved gradually from strictly ecclesiastical milieux into the era’s markets and towns.

Skogaby Kattarp

An Alsengem with two figures was found in June at Skogaby Kattarp in Halland, south-west Sweden. The site is being excavated for a road development by the Halland County Museum under the direction of Anders Håkansson. He reckons that he has found the remains of a magnate’s farm.

Thanks to Jan Peder Lamm for the tip. County Museum news page here. Local newspaper story here. Images and information taken from a document put on-line by Mats Roslund.

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Sättuna Barrow Seen from Boat


My dad tried out his new motorboat recently, going with my extra mom from Stockholm around Scania to Gothenburg and then across the country through the Göta Canal to Norrköping and back north to Stockholm again. Passing through Lake Roxen he sought out Sättuna in Kaga parish on the lake’s SW shore and took the above picture for me of the Sättuna barrow from the water. Below is a pic I took myself in September 2006. I want to radiocarbon date that mutha before the resident badger trashes its innards completely!

I’m glad to have a picture of the site from the lake, as Sättuna means “the tuna by the lake”. And tuna very likely meant something along the lines of “princely abode” 1500 years ago.

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With the Varnishing Ahead, I’m at My Shavings a Lot

The poet, philologist and bishop Esaias Tegnér (1782-1846) once wrote,

All bildning står på ofri grund till slutet
Blott barbariet var en gång fosterländskt

“All our learning must always stand on a slavish foundation
Barbarism is our single true heritage”

This was in the context of how nice Tegnér felt that the late-18th century reign of Gustaf III had been. This was somewhat controversial in the time of national romanticism, as the Gustavian era had been inescapably saturated by French cultural imperialism.

And Tegnér was right. As European countries go, Sweden was very late with all the refinements of civilisation. Almost all Swedish words for civilised matters have recently been borrowed and adapted from Continental languages. Lately, for instance, I have been thinking about two words having to do with art, both from the French, both with fun etymologies.

An artist’s studio is known as en ateljé in Swedish. This is the French atelier, meaning “studio, workshop”, from the earlier astelier, meaning “pile of wood shavings or artisan’s workshop full of such shavings”, from Latin astella meaning “small spear or wood-shaving shaped like one”.

The opening of an exhibition is called en vernissage, from the same French word, which literally means “varnishing”. Artists would apply the last touches to an oil painting and seal it with varnish at the exhibition venue. The British painter Turner liked to make semi-finished oil paintings and finish them at opening night to show off to his audience. If I understand correctly, some of his most daring and abstract canvases are in fact such unfinished pieces that he never got round to doing up properly.

So, how do you think artists spend the week before an important varnishing? In their pile of wood shavings.

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Blog Carnival Call for Submissions

Wednesday 15 August will see the Four Stone Hearth blog carnival appear in all its archaeo/anthro glory at Archaeolog. If you have read or blogged anything good on those themes lately, then make sure to submit it to one of the blog editors ASAP. (You are encouraged to submit stuff you’ve found on other people’s blogs.)

There’s an open hosting slot on 26 September and further ones later in the fall. All bloggers with an interest in the subject are welcome to volunteer to me.

Wart-Biter Cricket


Last night when I turned out the lights, something the size of a mouse jumped out of a lamp. We’ve had a bit of summer heat lately, and the balcony door has been open a lot. The creature turned out to be a wart-biter Great Green Bush-cricket female (Dectius verrucivorus Tettigonia viridissima), longer than my little finger and shiny green. I put a plastic box over her and slid a paper under before shooting photos and releasing her into the night. While in the box, she assiduously cleaned her toes with her jaws. A welcome visit.


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Turn On, Tune In LazyTown, Drop Out


My kids have taken to watching LazyTown, this really druggy and garish kids’ show on Playhouse Disney. It’s got a lot of caricatured puppets of children with the hands of real people, but also three live actors, the main character played by a little girl in a pink wig. The live actors, particularly the tall fey lantern-jawed villain, ham up their performances mercilessly. Their interactions with the vacant-eyed puppets lend an extra dimension of unreality to the show, and when you add the fact that it’s all been dubbed into Swedish so the lip movements don’t synch, you’ve got a product way off the scale on the weirdometer. Bad trip. Baaad trip. Yet LazyTown’s intended message is about the virtues of sports and exercise!? It’ll have a whole generation huffing paint stripper, mark my words.

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Villestofte: Danish Bog Booty

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Long-time Dear Readers may remember that I’ve written in the past about the wonderful Danish war booty sacrifices. Victorious defenders dunked the equipment of foreign armies they had beaten into sacred lakes, mainly during the Late Roman Iron Age c. AD 150-400. The lakes soon silted up into bogs, whose anaerobic conditions preserved the weaponry and other gear perfectly. Bee-youtiful stuff.

(Also, it’s a very good blogging topic if you want heavy traffic, because any mention of booty, particulary Danish bog booty, will attract porn surfers like you wouldn’t believe. Server logs show that a lot of these one-handers mistype “big booty” and inadvertently google “bog booty”, O being next to I on the keyboard.)

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The Vimose find from Funen is one of the biggest Danish bog finds, known and loved by all Early Iron Age scholars. Less known is a find from nearby Villestofte, which currently comprises only the above five objects that surfaced in 1849. My eminent colleagues Mogens Bo Henriksen and Xenia Pauli Jensen have just published a paper about the find. They’ve located the original find spot through painstaking archive research, reevaluated the artefacts and given them their first full publication. The finds date from the glorious phase C1b (c. AD 210-250) and may have belonged to a single warrior, possibly one who fell in the same battle that produced the main sacrificial horizon at Vimose. Strangely though, the Villestofte comb belongs to a local two-layered type that is only known from Funen itself and its immediate surroundings. The type occurs in the Vimose deposit as well, and fits poorly with the prevalent idea that all the sacrificed gear belonged to people who came by boat from somewhere else.

As it turns out, the site has not seen heavy peat extraction but still looks pretty much like it did in the 19th century. Who knows what may still lurk under the peat? Let’s hope for another Vimose, excavated to modern standards by Mogens and Xenia!

Bo Henriksen, Mogens & Pauli Jensen, Xenia. 2007. Krigsbytteofferfundet fra Villestofte. Fynske Minder 2007. Odense Bys Museer.

Site photograph by Mogens Bo Henriksen, finds photograph by Pia Brejnholt. Below the fold, the paper’s English summary.
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Reader Mug Shot Gallery

Curious about what the Aard regulars look like? I am! If you consider yourself an Aardvarchaeology regular, then please gimme a pic of yourself and I’ll put it into this gallery post. If you’ve got a pic on-line somewhere, just put a link to it in a comment. Otherwise, feel free to email me a pic.

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Here’s Greenman Tim of the Walking the Berkshires blog, touching a canebreak canebrake rattlesnake with a less-than-ten-foot pole.
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