Divers exploring a river near a former Roman Empire fort and settlement in Britain have found a piece of pottery that depicts the backside of a rather buff gladiator wielding a whip and wearing nothing but a G-string, according to British researchers.
The image represents the first known depiction of a gladiator in such revealing attire. It adds to the evidence that ancient Romans viewed gladiators not only as fearless warriors, but also as sex symbols.
Philippa Walton, who analyzed the object and is a finds liaison officer for the Cambridgeshire County Council, described the artifact to Discovery News. “The find is a small shard of pottery possibly from a drinking beaker made in Britain in the 3rd century A.D.,” Walton said. “It depicts a man wearing a G-string and possibly holding a whip and is likely therefore to represent a gladiator.”
She added, “There are parallels for depictions of gladiators on drinking beakers — some quite pornographic! — but I cannot think of any depictions where the gladiator in question wears nothing but a G-string.”
The shard was located in the River Tees in the town of Piercebridge, County Durham, England. Its discovery was announced by the Portable Antiquities Scheme, which is a British project that encourages members of the public to report archaeological finds.
Gladiators were trained warriors who fought to entertain the ancient Romans. Whips represent only one type of weapon that they used. Gladiators also wielded short, curved swords, nets, two-foot-long “stabbing swords,” three-pronged spears and other weapons.
Most of the warriors were war prisoners, slaves and criminals, but some were freemen desiring fortune and fame. At a time without movie stars and pay-per-view, gladiators filled the public’s desire for action, adventure and sex.
“A lot of film stars and celebrities like to show a bit of bum, so the Romans were no doubt the same or worse,” Rolfe Hutchinson told Discovery News. He discovered the object with diving partner Bob Middlemass. “After all, they were the celebrities of the day.”
The first thing he wanted to study was the impact of paying more or less for AdWords. He knew that paying more would result in higher placement — especially given that both the ads and the AdWords would be identical between the two sites. What he didn’t know, however, was whether a slight increase in cost-per-word would more than pay for itself in increased sales, or whether a slight decrease would go effectively unnoticed, thereby increasing his profit margins.
His old site with the same ads had been running successfully for a year paying at the relatively low rate of $0.10 per word (the AdWords minimum is $0.05 per word) and generating about 15,000 clicks-through per day. But for the new site, he started out paying $1.00 per word for exactly the same words. Based on everything he had read about AdWords (remember nobody actually SPEAKS to Google about these things — the service is totally automated from Google’s end), he expected his ad to move higher in the rankings and, hopefully, to make more sales as a result. And that’s exactly what happened, though not to the extent that he would have liked.
Buying AdWords at $1.00 versus $0.10, his ads DID move higher on the page and his revenue was increased, though not by enough to justify going all the way to $1.00 with its associated higher cost basis.
All the while, of course, the essentially identical original web site was churning along, still entirely dependent on AdWords, still carrying identical ads for identical products as the test site, and still generating an average of 15,000 click-throughs per day.
Now it was time to drop the per-word price a bit on the test site to see whether he could increase his profit margins after paying too much at $1.00. So he set the new per-word price at $0.40 — still four times as much as he was paying per word through his main site.
And his clicks-through dropped from 15,000 to 1,200 per day.
Same products, same ads, same service, but by paying four times MORE than his main site his results dropped by an order of magnitude.
A bit more experimenting showed a similar effect and he was never again able to match the success of his original site as it continually operated in precisely the same market with precisely the same services over the exact same period of time.
I have no idea what the heck is happening here, but my friendly reader, who makes his living from this stuff, has a theory. He believes the Google AdWords algorithm tries to do many things and one of those is to encourage advertisers to pay more for words. By modifying something that in turn modifies the results, Google is effectively encouraging advertisers to change their behavior.
So increasing the amount per word DID increase sales, though not enough to justify the additional cost. Google’s revenue per word, of course, went up by 10X. But dropping the price by more than half was greeted by a huge decrease in clicks-through that could only have resulted from some unknown resultant change in GOOGLE’s behavior, given that all other variables were constant.
If that’s indeed what’s happening, it isn’t illegal and to some might not even be unethical (I guess) but it feels just a little bit EVIL.
Ironically the only way this could be observed was though the use of parallel, otherwise identical web sites and AdWords accounts.
“It’s like Vegas,” said my friend. “They want you to lose. Try to game the system and they cut off one of your legs.”
On the eve of Iraq’s historic election, President Bush took responsibility Wednesday for “wrong” intelligence that led to the war, but he said removing Saddam Hussein was still necessary.
“It is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong,” Bush said during his fourth and final speech before Thursday’s vote for Iraq’s parliament. “As president I am responsible for the decision to go into Iraq. And I’m also responsible for fixing what went wrong by reforming our intelligence capabilities. And we’re doing just that.”
Translation: we cooked the books, and now we’re going to fire the waiters.
Or, if you want:
Step One: Admitting
you somebody else has a problem.
When Bush apologizes for “cherry-picking the evidence and ignoring advice from much of the State Department and military establishment,” I’ll eat my hat. Then the impeachment proceedings can begin.
Archaeologists today revealed the final section of the earliest known Maya mural ever found, saying that the find upends everything they thought they knew about the origins of Maya art, writing, and rule.
The painting was the last wall of a room-size mural to be excavated. The site was discovered in 2001 at the ancient Maya city of San Bartolo in the lowlands of northeastern Guatemala.
“It is really breathtaking how beautiful this is,” said William Saturno, an archaeologist with the University of New Hampshire and the Harvard Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.
The mural tells the story of creation, the mythology of kingship, and the divine right of a king, according to Saturno, who made the find and leads the excavation.
The painting dates to 100 B.C., proving that stories of creation and kings – and the use of elaborate art and writing to tell them – were well established more than 2,000 years ago, 700 years earlier than previously believed.