Most recent update:4/1/2004; 5:07:07 AM

 Wednesday, March 17, 2004

NUNTII: Classicist Dean of Humanities

... at the University of Chicago. Congrats to Danielle Allen:

Classics professor Danielle Allen will become Dean of the Division of the Humanities, beginning July 1. Allen, 32, who has produced influential work on democracy, citizenship and justice in both ancient Greece and modern America, is the first MacArthur fellow to become a Dean at the University.

“Danielle Allen is not only a brilliant scholar, an inspiring teacher, and an engaged and enlightened citizen,” said President Randel. “She also is a person who understands that the eternal truths of our humanistic traditions must be constantly re-energized and applied in our lives, if we have any hope of living as thoughtful human beings and worthy citizens of a great democracy.

“Through her scholarship, her teaching and her service, she has shown that she understands and is willing to share these truths with her colleagues, with her students and with her fellow citizens. We are most fortunate that she has agreed to apply some of her wisdom and energy to the leadership of our Humanities Division, and I very much look forward to working with her.”

As Dean, Allen will oversee the research, teaching and administration of the division, which includes 15 departments and six committees that cover languages, literatures and culture. She will succeed Janel Mueller, the William Rainey Harper Distinguished Service Professor in the College, who has been Dean since 1999.

“Dean Mueller has been an eloquent advocate for humanistic research and teaching over the past five years,” said Richard Saller, Provost of the University and a Classics professor. “Danielle Allen will continue the tradition of excellence, bringing the highest standards of scholarship and an active commitment to projecting the benefits of the humanities beyond the walls of the University.”

Allen, Professor in Classical Languages & Literatures, Political Science, the Committee on Social Thought and the College, said: “I am honored to have been invited to follow in Dean Mueller’s footsteps. She hands on a division whose strong intellectual and interdisciplinary traditions remain an unparalleled resource for shaping both our scholarly and public worlds.

“I hope to continue enhancing the symbiotic relationship we have between traditional humanism and new areas of humanities scholarship and also to expand programming in the arts and community partnering in ways that complement the division’s core scholarly mission. It will be a pleasure to support and advance the creative energy of the division’s faculty, staff and students.”

Allen’s ability to combine “the classicist’s careful attention to texts and language with the political theorist’s sophisticated and informed engagement” was one reason the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation chose her to receive its “genius” fellowship in 2001. [more in the University of Chicago Chronicle]

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From Kathimerini:

"Cyprus: One Thousand Pieces of Memory,” an exhibition opening in early May at the Museum of Cycladic Art, will be an event of the highest importance, both for the museum and for Greece. It will be the second-largest exhibition containing exhibits from Cyprus, after the Cesnola collection at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Some of the items will be displayed in public for the first time and the opening will be connected with Cyprus’s entry into the EU. The exhibition will consist of Thanos Zintilis’s collection of antiquities, one of the greatest private collections in the world, which has been divided into two parts. The first section, comprising 710 objects, was until recently on display at the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam, while the second, made up of 700 objects and 200 coins, was in Nicosia.

Preparations are already under way so that the museum’s entire third floor will be able to host the exhibits. It is hoped that either Greek President Costis Stephanopoulos or Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos will open the exhibition, depending on their schedules.

“What is important is not just the fact that the collection consists of 1,500 finds. Many of the objects are often very similar. We made a selection and chose about 1,000, which we called the ‘one thousand pieces of memory’,” said professor Nikolaos Stambolidis, director of the Museum of Cycladic Art. They are the pieces of a mosaic that covers the entirety of Cypriot civilization; objects range from the fourth millennium BC to the first Byzantine period. Among the highlights that make this exhibition unique are the cross-shaped stone statuettes. “These cannot be found either in New York or in Cyprus. The Museum of Cycladic Art is very proud to bring them to Athens.” Naturally, the move was carried out in collaboration with Zintilis and with the permission of the Board of Cypriot Antiquities in Nicosia. [more ... including an okay little photo of a 'teapot' (I know it isn't ...))]

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ante diem xvi kalendas apriles

  • Festival of Mars (day 17)
  • Liberalia -- a festival of general merriment and wine drinking in honour of Liber Pater (another name for Bacchus)
  • Agonalia -- the rex sacrificulus would offer a ram to various deities
  • 45 B.C. -- Julius Caesar defeats Pompey's sons and Labienus at Munda
  • 136 A.D. -- the future emperor Marcus Aurelius dons the toga virilis
  • 180 A.D. -- death of Marcus Aurelius at Bononia
  • 461 A.D. -- death of Saint Patrick (traditional)


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OBITUARY: Keith Hopkins

Since we've already posted one obituary for Keith Hopkins, in this space we'll just point out that today's Telegraph has the most extensive that I've read so far. Very nice.

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NUNTII: Equal Time for 'The Other Side'

Yesterday we posted a fine defense of Classics and Latin instruction by the Scotsman. Today a different columnist has the opposite view and in the interests of equal time, we'll post it here:

[...] This is good news for anyone over 45, the lost generations who were compelled to study Latin at school and who searched miserably to find a 2,000-year-old Roman with whom they could converse. These patrician Latin scholars can now sit in the circle of the local mulitiplex and lip-synch Pontius Pilate when he says: "Ecce Homo", a line that causes non-Latin-speaking gay Christians to swoon. In the cheap seats, confused plebs simply watch the moving pictures, too lazy to follow subtitles.

Unfortunately, the Hollywood-inspired revival of interest in Latin has come too late. My alma mater, Strathclyde University, the only university to offer teacher training in Latin and Greek, has suspended the course sine die, citing inter alia, a lack of demand.

As a quidnunc schoolboy, I am delighted with the demise of Latin. No longer will kids have to grasp more cases than a Heathrow airport baggage-handler. Forget decadence; the reason for the collapse of the Roman Empire was that while the Marcus et al had their heads up their anuses dealing with datives, ablatives and nominatives, Attila rode in and implemented the rather nihilist diktats of the Hun town-planning department.

Classics teachers are vainly endeavouring to save Latin going the way of Hittite and Brigante. They point to the humiliation of Gaelic, a once-proud tongue now spoken only by city-dwelling Nats and Rockall puffin-catchers. Latin is the basis of English, they say, ignoring the contribution made by other lingoes. Am I alone in not hearing a call for kids to study Persian so that they appreciate the etymology of pyjama?

Sure, knowledge of Latin is essential when filling in a cryptic crossword in one of the poncier papers, but most of us probably regard the time learning Latin as The Wilderness Years. The language was drummed into me for four years, but I think I learned more Latin listening to Frankie Howard in Up Pompeii.

Reading about Roman history was the one highlight, although even this was fraught with danger. My Latin teacher sternly told of how early Christians were tarred and set aflame in the Circus Maximus. Admittedly insincerely, I asked if this was the first recorded form of floodlighting. It was at this point that I realised the language had no use whatsoever. Except, perhaps, to sell a B-movie to a gullible public.

Holy battling elitisms, Batman! Alas, the misguided pomo seems to be in need of an intervention..

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NUNTII: The Roman Warm Period

I'm not sure how many Classicists are aware of the sogennant 'Roman Warm Period', but a study reviewed by the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change might be worth tracking down. Here's what caught my eye:

Bao, Y., Braeuning, A., Yafeng, S. and Fahu, C.  2004.  Evidence for a late Holocene warm and humid climate period and environmental characteristics in the arid zones of northwest China during 2.2 ~ 1.8 kyr B.P.  Journal of Geophysical Research 109: 10.1029/2003JD003787.

What was done
The authors collected and analyzed various proxy climate data derived from ice cores, tree rings, river and lake sediments, lake terraces and paleosols, as well as historical documents, that enabled them to assess the climatic state of northwest China during the Western and Eastern Han Dynasties (206 BC-220 AD) relative to that of the past two millennia.

What was learned
Bao et al.'s analysis revealed, in their words, "strong evidence for a relatively warm and humid period in northwest China between 2.2 and 1.8 kyr B.P.," during the same time interval as what in regions surrounding the North Atlantic Ocean is referred to as the Roman Warm Period.  In fact, they determined that this period experienced "higher temperatures and higher precipitation than today." What is more, they report that "the warm-wet climate period during 2.2-1.8 kyr B.P. also occurred in central and east China, after [which] temperatures decreased rapidly (Zhu, 1973; Hameed and Gong, 1993; Yan et al., 1991, 1993; Shi and Zhang, 1996; Ge et al., 2002)," noting additionally that historical records report "an abrupt climate change from warmer and wetter to cooler and drier conditions occurred around A.D. 280 (Zhang et al., 1994)."  Last of all, they state that "three alternate China-wide temperature composites covering the last 2000 years display an obvious warm stage in 0-240 A.D. (Yang et al., 2002)," and that "according to a 2650-year warm-season temperature reconstruction from a stalagmite from Shihua Cave of Beijing (Tan et al., 2003), the temperatures during 2.1-1.8 ka B.P. were basically above the average of the entire temperature series."
[more ... includes bibliography]

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CHATTER: unCaesary Caesar

A piece in the Scotsman brings up something we've mentioned a couple weeks ago:

Julius Caesar may have commanded legions of the most powerful army in the ancient world but there was one battle he was never going to win. He could not stop himself going bald.

Cleopatra did her best, preparing salves of ground horse teeth, bear grease and deer marrow to slap on the Imperial head.

None of her remedies worked, and neither did Roman cures of sulphur, tar, and various kinds of animal urine.

Eventually Julius admitted defeat and took to covering his bare head with wreaths of laurel. [more, but not more about Caesar]

I have yet to fine a source for Cleopatra's cure for baldness ... any pointers appreciated ...

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NUNTII: Archaeological Scandal in Cyprus

The Cyprus Mail reports on some rather shoddy practices:

THE ARCHAEOLOGISTS’ Association yesterday launched a scathing attack against the Antiquities Department, accusing them of being unorganised, after recently discovered finds in Paphos were dug up and left exposed.

In a news conference yesterday, the chairman of the Association of Cypriot Archaeologists, Andreas Demetriou, said the area had been dug up without the presence of an archaeologist, disturbing the finds’ original location and leaving them in heaps next to the holes.

“They went there and dug up holes to construct a shelter for the dig,” he said.

“But they dug more than 50 holes and there was no archaeologist present on the site at the time.

“The finds were torn out of their original location and left in heaps next to the holes without anyone drawing a sketch of their location and without anyone documenting their position and location when they were unearthed,” Demetriou added.

The site was discovered a few months ago. According to Demetriou, the findings date back from the early 3rd century to the Roman and Hellenistic periods.

But digging up the holes and leaving the antiquities piled up in heaps next to them left Demetriou fuming. He said the findings had now lost their archaeological value since they were removed from their original spot, losing archaeologists valuable information about life in ancient Paphos.

“All of these items are now useless,” he said.

“For example there is a piece of carved bone that was probably used by a boy for a game, and was probably hung around his neck.

“This item was found in a heap of dirt and broken pieces of pottery, but if it had been left undisturbed, we could find out valuable information, maybe about the person who wore it, the area around him, but now it’s nothing more than a piece of carved bone,” he added.
“When I went down, I also found melted metal and evidence of a fire, but that has also been disrupted now, and we might never know what exactly happened.

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AWOTV: On TV Today

5.00 p.m.|DCIVC| Archaeology IV: Russian Amazons

7.00 p.m.|HISTU| The History of St. Patrick's Day
In Ireland, March 17th is a feast day honoring the bishop who
Christianized the island; but in America it's a boisterous
celebration of Irish heritage. We'll march up New York City's Fifth
Avenue with over 150,000 celebrants at the largest and oldest parade
on the day all Americans are Irish. With Andrew Greeley and Frank

7.00 p.m. |HINT| Secrets at Delphi
An exploration of the hallowed Greek ground at Delphi, where Zeus's
two eagles crossed paths and the Oracle prophesied the fortunes of
kings and countries.

8.00 p.m.|DISCC| Seven Wonders of Ancient Rome
The latest archaeological research, 3D models and sophisticated
graphics re-create the grandeur and majesty of ancient Rome's
wonders, including the Colosseum, Pantheon, Aqua Appia and Via Appia,
baths of Caracalla, Hadrian's Wall, and more.

8.00 p.m. |DISCU| Seven Wonders of Ancient Rome
Recreate these spectacular, awe-inspiring monuments. The men who
envisioned the Pantheon, the Aqueducts of Rome, the Via Appia, the
Baths of Caracalla, Trajan's Markets, Circus Maximus and the
Colosseum created the epitome of human achievement.

9.00 p.m. |DISCC| Who Killed Julius Caesar
Historians writers and film-makers have puzzled over the
assassination of Julius Caesar for centuries. Using the latest
technology and modern profiling techniques experts reveal the truth
behind history's most famous crime.

9.00 p.m. |DCIVC| Vesuvius: Deadly Fury

9.00 p.m. |DISCU| Seven Wonders of Ancient Rome
Recreate these spectacular, awe-inspiring monuments. The men who
envisioned the Pantheon, the Aqueducts of Rome, the Via Appia, the
Baths of Caracalla, Trajan's Markets, Circus Maximus and the
Colosseum created the epitome of human achievement.

Channel Guide

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