Latest update: 4/4/2005; 5:52:36 AM
quidquidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca

TOP 20: XVII  ca. 400 Unlooted Macedonian Tombs

Kathimerini appears to have been alone in reporting this one:

Recent finds at the ancient settlement of Archontiko, near Pella in northern Greece, have shed further light on the wealth, heroic culture, commerce and burial rituals of ancient Macedonians, following the discovery of 396 unlooted tombs and 5,000 objects, dating between the 7th and 4th centuries BC.

Among recent finds were 80 pit graves of warriors richly adorned in gold, carrying weapons and near their wives, who were also adorned with gold, Kathimerini reported yesterday. They date from the second half of the 6th century BC. The ancient cemetery is expected to yield many more treasures, as the necropolis of the ancient site covers an area of 200 stremmas (20 hectares), of which less than one hundredth has been excavated.

More ... As the remainder of the article mentions, Anastasia and Pavlos Chrysostomou have been excavating the site for the past four years or so. Previous discoveries have made the news and might be worth pursuing. An article in Anistoriton from late 2002, e.g., documents some nice gold found at the site last year, as does a piece from the Athens News Agency. It's nice as well to read the initial news coverage from back in 1996, when things were just beginning to be revealed.

::Thursday, January 01, 2004 1:48:06 PM::
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TOP 20: XVIII Roman Cart from Thrace

This was a tantalizingly brief item mentioned at a conference in Thessaloniki (and possibly was actually discovered in 2002) and reported initially (as far as I've been able to discover) in Kathimerini:

Archaeologists in Thrace have discovered a 2,000-year-old wooden cart in an excellent state of preservation in the tomb of a local Roman grandee.


A team working under archaeologist Diamantis Triandafyllos uncovered the four-wheeled cart, which was decorated with bronze ornaments and buried along with the two horses that drew it, in a large tumulus near the village of Mikri Doxipara, some 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) west of Orestias and close to the Bulgarian border.

Most of the wooden structure has survived, as well as the cart and horses’ bronze trappings and the four iron wheels. Triandafyllos believes the grave belonged to a local landowner or imperial official.  [...]

Kathimerini had a followup piece, which I appear to have missed in Explorator:

At least three Roman wooden carts, and not just one, as initially believed, have been located in a 2,000-year-old Thracian grave on Greece’s northeastern borders, an archaeologist said yesterday.

Speaking at the opening of a three-day conference in Thessaloniki on last year’s archaeological work in Macedonia and Thrace, Diamantis Triandafyllos said the discovery near the village of Mikri Doxipara, some 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) west of Orestias, was the first of its kind in Greece.

A 6-meter-high and 60-meter-wide tumulus has been found to contain three, and, maybe, four, wooden carts — one of which was preserved almost intact — dating to the first century AD, and two separate human cremations, of a man and a woman.

Along with each of the two carts excavated so far, which had four iron wheels and were decorated with bronze and silver-gilt ornaments, was buried a pair of horses. Triandafyllos, an expert on the archaeology of Thrace, said the carts had been used to carry the dead to their funerals.

The Hellenic Communication Service adds some interesting details:


The horses were apparently killed during the ceremony and buried with the dead. The skeleton of a dog was also discovered with one of the chariots. The finds were uncovered in a burial mound in the village of Mikri Doxipara in northern Evros, close to the Bulgarian border.

Remarkably preserved, two of the four-wheeled chariots bear impressive bronze-plated decorations, while another with silver-plated designs still preserves remnants of the cart's wooden frame and spoked wheels.


The team also unearthed the resting places of a man and a woman cremated in two rectangular shafts cutting through the middle of the mound. In intact condition, the offerings found include bronze and glass vessels, copper lamps and gold jewelry.

The mound, one of the biggest in northern Evros, has a diameter of 55-60 metres and a height of nearly seven metres. Years of neglect and the mechanical cultivation of surrounding farmlands posed a constant threat to the mound and its contents. The abundance of scattered fragments of marble reliefs found next to it initially led archaeologists to suspect the existence of a tomb construction or a marble sarcophagus. Extensive work on the mound, directed by Dr. Apostolos Sarris of Crete's Institute of Mediterranean Studies, has yet to prove them right.

All in all, clay pot fragments have been unearthed at 14 different points on the mound. The contents of the pots were offered to the dead. Archaeologists have also detected traces of cremations and offerings at five other points, but severe winter weather has lately stopped the excavations that began last September.

The mound most likely belonged to a wealthy Roman family since it contained more than one body. The finds, especially of clay, glass and bronze vessels, suggest that it is a first-century site.

More ... (worth reading ... there's additional news I haven't tracked down about the discovery of a Roman era wrestling arena)

::Thursday, January 01, 2004 1:26:52 PM::
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TOP 20: XIX The Dancing Satyr

Not an April Fool's joke, but put on exhibit for the first time on that date was a statue of a 'Dancing Satyr', attributed possibly to Praxiteles. Parts of it were originally found off the coast of Sicily in 1997, with other bits found a year later.

There's still a fair bit of coverage still available on this one. AthensNews preserves the Reuters spin:

ITALY unveiled an ancient Greek bronze statue of a dancing satyr on April 1, five years after Sicilian fishermen dragged it from the Mediterranean seabed in one of the most important marine archaeological finds ever. The 2,500-year-old satyr went on public display inside Italy's parliament in Rome, where it will spend two months before being moved to a permanent home in Mazara del Vallo, the fishing village in western Sicily nearest to where it was found. "The sea has given us back an extraordinary heirloom of our Mediterranean culture," said Pierferdinando Casini, speaker of the lower house of parliament, at the statue's formal inauguration on March 31. Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi and Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni hailed the find on the satyr's first public outing since it was brought into port. "This is one of the most important archaeological finds we have seen in this country," said Veltroni.

The satyr is missing both arms and one leg, but the head and torso are remarkably well-preserved despite centuries spent at the bottom of the sea. With its head tilted at a jaunty angle, curly hair flying and remaining leg suggesting it is in mid-leap, the two-metre tall satyr cuts a striking figure. It is thought to have been part of a group of statues of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and revelry, with dancing fauns, satyrs and other mythological creatures. No one knows how the satyr ended up 500 metres (1,600 ft) under water off Sicily.

More ...  See also The Age, which picked up the coverage from the Guardian. The Capitoline museum has archived its official exhibition page (the photo above hails from it) but it's still available and adds some useful details:

The Satyr was retrieved from the sea off the coast of Sicily in two different occasions: the discovery of the left leg, caught up in the nets of a fishing boat from Mazara in 1997, was followed by the discovery of the body in March 1998 , however missing the other leg and the arms.

It had probably been part of the cargo of a shipwrecked vessel sailing between Sicily and Cape Bon between the 3rd and 2nd century BC. The remains of the ship were identified by a lateral scansion sonar analysis of the relative stretch of sea.
Like the wreck of the Madhia, found just off the North African coast, it is a record of the flourishing ancient trade in antiquities, aimed at satisfying the decorative tastes of wealthy homeowners in the Greek and Roman eras.

More ...  Definitely a nice piece, but ever since I first saw the photo I've wondered how the art historians have decided it is a Satyr, other than, perhaps that it has pointy ears (there's a detail photo at the Capitoline Museum site). It looks to me like someone falling rather than someone in mid-dance -- perhaps Icarus. But then again, I'm just a rogueclassicist, not an art historian.

::Thursday, January 01, 2004 1:04:50 PM::
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TOP 20: XX Rhome/Rome

Coming in at number 20 is a story which really isn't archaeological at all. In the weeks after the Roman festival of Parilia (April 21), which, of course, commemorates the traditional founding of Rome in 753 B.C./B.C.E.,  many English-language news outlets picked up on an Il Messaggero story in which Italian scholars were claiming the city of Rome was named after a woman. preserves what was probably the best coverage:

A fragment of writing by Stesichorus, a Graeco-Sicilian poet who wrote not long after Rome's founding, suggests Rome was named after a Trojan woman called Roma.

The fragment, rediscovered and embraced by growing numbers of Italians today, challenges the popular legend that Romulus was Rome's founder.

Stesichorus (638-555 B.C.) described how Roma, with her Trojan fleet, fled the war-torn city of Troy.
They arrived in a beautiful place where visitors were "enticed to dream while being caressed by the off-shore breeze." Roma and her entourage, captivated by the idyllic spot, did not desire to leave. She had all of her ships burned. The happily stranded group then named the place after Roma.

Eleanor Leach, professor of classics at Indiana University, Bloomington, told Discovery News that the story is also recounted in a 5th century historical narrative entitled "Roman Antiquities" by the Greek writer Dionysius of Halicarnassus. He referred to the woman as Rhome, which means "power" in Greek.

According to a recent report in Rome's Il Messaggero newspaper, about 1,000 people marched in support of Roma on April 21. Based on writings by the scholar Varro who lived in the first century B.C., Rome was founded on that day in 753 B.C. between 8 and 9 a.m. A yearly celebration called Parilia is observed to commemorate the event.

While Rome's early history is clouded in mythology, most people are taught the legend of Romulus and Remus. In Roman writings, these twin brothers were born in the ancient Italian city of Alba Longa. They left, hoping to establish their own city. They chose a site, built a wall around it, and Romulus named it after himself.

Plutarch, a Greek biographer and essayist who lived from approximately 46-120 A.D., popularized the myth in his work entitled "Romulus." Stesichorus was born just over a century after 753 B.C., which supporters of the Roma theory say strengthens their claims.

Not everyone agrees.

Guy Rogers, professor of history and classics at Wellesley College, told Discovery News, "Stesichorus' context, controversial in itself, suits the establishment of the Republic- circa 510 B.C.E. — much better than the traditional foundation date of Rome."

However, he added, "We do know that as early as the sixth century B.C. a place called Aeneia in Macedonia was issuing coins showing Aeneas (a Trojan hero) carrying his father Anchises from the ruins of Troy, so the legend of someone getting away from the destruction of Troy goes back that far at least."

More ...  [here's an alternate link in case the story expires] Not much else on this on the web which touches on this in any significant way other than  the BMCR review by Nicholas Purcell (from 1997) of T.P. Wiseman, Remus: A Roman Myth , which has this useful paragraph:

Wiseman's technique is essentially similar to that of Jacques Perret, who argued 50 years ago that the Aeneas story was invented by Pyrrhus the New Achilles (cf. Pausanias 1, 11, 7) to package his Italian enemies. Such an argument means that apparent earlier allusions must be disposed of systematically. Perret's task was hard (see Momigliano, supra, for a review) and ultimately fruitless: Wiseman seems to be on to something better, precisely because, while there are early accounts that refute Perret because they mention Aeneas, they don't mention any male eponym for Rome (on the theme, see now G. Vanotti, L'altro Enea [Rome 1995]). The silence is eloquent for Wiseman. Leaving the epic tradition, Stesichorus' Geryoneis and Hecataeus' interests in Trojan foundations in Italy aside, there is the evidence of Hellanicus and his pupil Damastes, both of whom certainly addressed the question of the foundation, and certainly did not mention Romulus and Remus: one Rhome, in the age of Aeneas, is their eponym. Agathocles of Samos, the local historian of Cyzicus, who was murdered by the Alexandrian mob at the end of the third century, still preferred the Rhome version, though he knew several authors who spoke of a male eponym, Rhomos. For us, Rhomos first surfaces in writings of the age of Aristotle, Alcimus (whose teacher Stilpon of Megara died in 309), and Callias of Syracuse, the Agathocles-historian, fourth century authors who all wrote on the Aeneas episode: the last two are the only approximately datable exemplars of a widespread tradition adding to that account the activities of one or both of two eponyms called Rhomos and Rhomylos. It is notable that among the authorities adjoining these figures to Aeneas were some of the Roman writers after Fabius Pictor. We should add that the mysterious Xenagoras who named a trio of brothers as eponyms for Rome, Ardea and Antium is, as Wiseman argues, quite likely to be early because of the history of the latter two communities. Another of Wiseman's (more tentative: 57-60) 'dogs that didn't bark' 'Promathion' does not seem to me likely to be early. I share the opinion recently expressed by G. Capdeville (Volcanus. Récherches comparatistes sur les origines du culte de Vulcain [Rome 1995], 62-3, n. 4) about this author: although his 'récit très composite' may include early material from whatever source, it is impossible to imagine a fifth century Pythagorean compiling an Italike historia (note that that is indeed the title at Plutarch Romulus 2: Wiseman's "Italika" [57] is misleading). But this is in my view a help for Wiseman, since 'Promathion' appears to have mentioned twins explicitly, alone of the earlier accounts.

I'm rather surprised that the story is barely mentioned in T.J. Cornell, The Beginnings of Rome, Of course, it must be acknowledged that Classicists have been aware of the Rhome story for ages and not one of them really expects to find the "true story" of the foundation myth. This was one of that growing category of news stories which tries to find something 'newsworthy' to tie to some other event in the news (in this case, the anniversary of the foundation of Rome).

::Thursday, January 01, 2004 12:41:53 PM::
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FEATURE: Top 20 Archaeology Stories of 2003 -- Intro

Since all the media is doing the 'year in review' thing, I thought it might be interesting to try to put together a feature on the archaeological discoveries (and related items) dealing with the ancient Mediterranean world. As it turns out, I have exactly 20 items, so I figure, "why not do the top 20 thing?" So over the next few days as I turn these things out, you'll be seeing the "Top 20 Archaeological Stories of 2003". The order, of course, is purely subjective and I should probably warn folks in advance that it is heavily biased toward the Roman side of things. Actually, while doing the initial skim of research for this thing I've confirmed something I've believed for quite a while: that publication of archaeological discoveries relating to the Greek world -- and especially from Athens (despite all the construction going on and the piles of stuff that must have been discovered in the process) -- has pretty much dried up compared to five or six years ago when Explorator was in its infancy.

In any event, keep your eye open for the stories, which will begin appearing later today. 

::Thursday, January 01, 2004 10:25:10 AM::
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kalendae januariae

  • 291 B.C.-- dedication of the temple to Aesculapius on the Tiber Island
  • 194 B.C. -- dedication of the temple to Vediovis on the Tiber Island
  • 153 B.C.-- beginning in this year (if not before) the Consuls would enter office on this date
  • 7 B.C. -- the future emperor Tiberius celebrates a triumph for his victories over the Germans
  • 14 A.D. -- the future emperor Galba donned his toga virilis
  • 70 A.D. -- the deceased emperor Galba is granted restitutio memoriae
  • 89 A.D. -- L. Antonius Saturninus raises a revolt against Domitian at Moguntiacum
  • 112 A.D. -- dedication of the Forum of Trajan and the Basilica Ulpia
  • 1847 -- birth of Rodolfo Lanciani
  • 1854 -- birth of Sir James Frazer (The Golden Bough)

::Thursday, January 01, 2004 9:37:15 AM::
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we don't appear to be working ... or maybe we do ... whatever the case, it's started out as a very slow year!

::Thursday, January 01, 2004 8:28:48 AM::
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AWOTV: On TV Today

2.00 p.m. |HISTU| Mount Vesuvius: The Fury Within
"Rising 4,000 feet above Italy's Campania region, Mount
Vesuvius is one of the world's most active volcanoes, unleashing
its lethal fire time and again. We examine the 79 AD eruption
that destroyed the city of Pompeii, sealing the volcano's place
in history; a 1631 eruption, at the height of the Black Plague,
when the fiery mountain killed around 18,000; and a 1944
eruption that killed 26 as WWII raged across Southern Italy. Is
Vesuvius in a resting period or gearing up for another

8.00 p.m. |HINT| Arms in Action: Slings and Spears
"Produced in partnership with England's Royal Armouries located
in the Tower of London, this series action-tests weapons and
armor through the ages. We construct an ancient slingshot and
see why it survives as a street-fighting weapon in the Middle
East, and follow the unbroken history of the spear from mere
stick to Roman pilium to bayonet. "

HISTU = History Channel (US)

HINT = History International 

::Thursday, January 01, 2004 7:27:24 AM::
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1. n. an abnormal state or condition resulting from the forced migration from a lengthy Classical education into a profoundly unClassical world; 2. n. a blog about Ancient Greece and Rome compiled by one so afflicted (v. "rogueclassicist"); 3. n. a Classics blog.

Publishing schedule:
Rogueclassicism is updated daily, usually before 7.00 a.m. (Eastern) during the week. Give me a couple of hours to work on my sleep deficit on weekends and holidays, but still expect the page to be updated by 10.00 a.m. at the latest.

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