Most recent update:6/1/2004; 5:08:45 AM

 Tuesday, May 11, 2004

NUNTII: Ancient Potter's Fingerprint

From the Lincolnshire Echo:

 A fingerprint impression left more than 1,800 years ago has been found on a jar unearthed in a Lincolnshire field.

The print was discovered on the inside a Roman pottery fragment after an amateur archaeologist stumbled across it.

Experts believe the impression is of an index finger and would have been made by the potter who crafted the item.

The artefact was discovered in a field near Sleaford last month by metal detector user Tim Camm.

Once it had been cleaned, the item was reported to the portable antiquities scheme - a project run by Lincolnshire County Council which records archaeological objects found by members of the public.

Finds liaisons officer Adam Daubney said that the fingerprint made the artefact unusual.

"The impression would have been made when the potter used his thumb to make dimples around the top edge of the pot," he said.

"The thumb would have pressed against the outside of the jar and the clay then smoothed out.

"The index finger would have been used to press the clay from the inside."

He said that as the clay dried, the impression would have become permanent.

"This would have been made by a full-time potter - it's quite a highly decorated piece," he said.

"It shows a black slip or darkened edge around the lip and is made from grey clay.

"The fragment is part of a Roman jar - a piece of tableware which would have been owned by someone quite well off."

The style is typically Roman in decoration and was probably made in the second century.

Mr Daubney said: "This is not particularly uncommon artefact but it is a nice piece.

"As an archaeologist I rarely get to see the personal aspect in objects.

"Seeing the fingerprint makes you realise someone made this - it's not just a pot from the past." [more]

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CHATTER: Frasier Retrospective

Best line ever from Frasier which had ClassCon:

Beverly D'Angelo as "Audrey" - Doesn't understand why she should fix the dress she ripped. Frasier: "Euripides, Eumenides."

When I first heard it, I couldn't believe I had never thought of it ...

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CHATTER: The Glamourous Life of a Classicist

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

I started writing this in an airport. There's nothing much else to do for the two hours that you have to wait to get on a plane these days just because someone may want to blow up aircraft and buildings and people.

Plus, I couldn't really do this at my office. First, I'm a classicist at a high-quality, liberal-arts college in Minnesota -- in the second year of a two-year contract. That means I need to be as productive as I can be; the next job looms.

Second, a photo of a glaring, bug-eyed Theodor Mommsen, the great 19th-century classical philologist, hangs outside my office door. He reminds me that the only satire ve vill vork on at the office is Juvenal, Horace, or Menippus.

Still, all the hours I've spent waiting for airplanes to take off or land has given me plenty of time to wonder what many other people I've encountered are doing in academe, not to mention what I'm doing here myself.

I looked for a job the year I finished my dissertation, which was 2000 -- December, to be precise. I know because I still have the cork from the champagne bottle, and I wrote the date on it.

That academic year I got one on-campus interview -- from a small, public, liberal-arts college south of the Mason-Dixon line and on the East Coast. I'm glad I didn't get the job. The department chairman was a vast reservoir of machismo, and he took my visit with a visible and irritating nonchalance. The dean came off as imperious.

But I liked the president, even though I didn't get to meet him. He wore bow ties. I wear bow ties, too. I tell people I do it because it saves on the cleaning bill. (Classicists are known to wear a great deal of their food; there's even a quite famous scholar I've met on several occasions who would benefit from the invention of a plastic cravat).

I tell some people I wear bow ties because they're cheaper than neckties. Most of my family members understand that. Teaching 18-year-olds Greek and Latin is not as lucrative as law, banking, and accounting. But I actually wear bow ties because I like them. Most of my family members don't understand that.

My campus interview that first year on the market was on February 1. Out of some degree of insecurity, I avoided my general practice and wore a necktie to the interview. When I arrived at the agreed-upon time, no one but the part-time secretary was in, and she was on her way out the door.

So I had to wait all alone in the chairman's office. His name was Dwayne or Dwight or Larry. I don't remember anymore, mostly because I've gotten over it. The college was in a place where the ground never freezes. In Minnesota, where I am now, the frost line is about four feet below ground. I think freezing ground is healthy since it must kill all sorts of microorganisms, and I wonder why people in the South don't get really sick more often. Maybe they do. I don't know. I've never lived there. I wasn't offered the job. Maybe it's because I was wearing a necktie. [more]

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ante diem v idus maias

  • Lemuria (day 2) -- a private and publice appeasement of the dead; the Roman paterfamilias would rise at midnight to conduct a ritual involving beans and bronze
  • rites in honour of Mania -- a Roman divinity who was considered the goddess of the dead; she was also the mother of the Lares
  • 14 A.D. -- Augustus' last official census comes to an end
  • 330 -- Constantine renames Byzantium and makes it his capital
  • 1988 -- death of E.T. Salmon (Samnium and the Samnites)

5:51:28 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.


Archaeology Blogger Kris Hirst has a nice list of field schools and excavations in Europe, for those of you hoping to dig something other than a garden this summer.

5:31:44 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.


Ancient History Guide/Blogger N.S. Gill has organized all her Troy-related sections into one easily-accessible page which includes (among other things) good overviews of all the main characters in the Iliad (and the movie!) . Check it out!

5:17:41 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

BLOGWATCH: @ HobbyBlog

HobbyBlog continues to post a varied and interesting selection of ancient coins (daily!) ... this week I find two coins of particular interest: a coin of Valerian which has an image of Isis suckling Horus on it and a coin of the Republic from 112 B.C./B.C.E or thereabouts, with an image of the Lares Praestites on the reverse and Vediovis (Veiovis) on the obverse (I might have those backwards). As always ... worth a look!

5:13:36 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

CHATTER: Trojan Analogies

The Telegraph seems to be first (or among the first) to use Troy movie as a point of departure for an opinion piece:

Troy, the Brad Pitt version, is coming soon to a cinema near you. It is, as they say in movie credits, "from an idea by" Homer, who called it the Iliad. The Iliad begins during a hiatus in the war against Troy, with the Greeks falling out among themselves. Zeus arranges for a message to come to the Greek king Agamemnon in a dream. It tells him that, if he attacks Troy suddenly and at once, the gods will unite for his success.
Waking, Agamemnon immediately summons the Royal Council, and tells them of the dream, and that he will follow its instructions. Old Nestor, King of Pylos, stands up: "My friends, if any other of our countrymen had told us of a dream like this, we should have thought it false. But as it is, the man who had the dream is our commander-in-chief; so I propose that we take steps at once to get the troops under arms."

They ready themselves; but the dream of Agamemnon is a trick played upon him. Zeus has secretly taken the part of sulking Achilles, and his message sends the Greeks hastening to destruction.

Has something like this befallen America? Agamemnon's dream came after nine years of the Trojan war. Did September 11, coming 11 years after the first Gulf War and the failure to go on to Baghdad, give George W Bush the false dream that he could at last finish the business? Mr Bush is the commander-in-chief. Did he, believing himself inspired by what he calls, to Bob Woodward, his "higher father", lead his people to disaster? And has young Blair, like Nestor, accepted where he should have doubted, and thrown in his own people's lot with the deluded king?

That is what many are now inviting us to think. The narrative on television every day is of crisis, disappointment, suffering, division and anger. And the evidence does not seem to be hard to find. [more]

4:53:29 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

AWOTV: On TV Today

7.00 p.m. |HINT| Masada: The Last Fortress
Exploration of the mountain fortress where over 900 Jews made a last
stand against Rome in 73 AD. Examines if they committed suicide, and
focuses on the lone survivor of the Roman onslaught who lived to tell
his story.

HINT = History International

4:50:08 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

Click for Athens, Greece Forecast

Click for Rome, Italy Forecast

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