Most recent update:7/1/2004; 5:37:09 AM

 Monday, June 14, 2004

ante diem xviii kalendas quinctilias

5:54:23 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

ARTICLE: Location and Dating of Atlantis

In case you missed yesterday's Explorator, Rainer Kuhne's article in which he argues for a Spanish location for Atlantis based largely on aerial photos, is available in the 'Project Gallery' section of the journal Antiquity.

Note in passing: as I drifted off to sleep last night, I thought of the photo of the purported site as presented in the BBC article on this; the two rectangular structures which are supposedly the remains of temples certainly aren't oriented as ancient temples would have been ...

5:40:55 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

CHATTER: New Beastie Boys Album

ClassCon noses its way into pop culture again ... from Newsday we learn of the new Beastie Boys album, described inter alia thusly:

The bulk of "To the 5 Boroughs" (Capitol) is an old- school hip-hop hoot, packed with quick wordplay and the distinctive styles of Michael Diamond (Mike D), Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock) and Adam Yauch (MCA). For every line like "We need a bit more gun controlling," there are five lighthearted attempts to rhyme "iced latte" with "Wile E. Coyo-tay," "hot-to-trot-tay" and "maybe not-tay" and new catchphrases like "What the Helen of Troy is that?" It's a mixture of ideas that works well.

We'll see how far that one permeates the popular lingo. Sounds to me like it will have legs ...

5:30:14 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

CHATTER: Classics and 'Demand'

A piece in the Glasgow Herald begins promisingly:

THE outgoing head of Scotland's school curriculum advisory body said he would like every pupil in Scotland to be provided with their own laptop computer.

... which is something that I'm greatly in favour of myself. Later, however:

On the subject of training future classics teachers an area threatened by the Scottish Executive decision to withdraw funding of this unique area of teacher-training at Strathclyde University Mr Baughan gave broad support to the executive.

"This is a case of market forces essentially being at work. If there is a genuine demand for the teaching of Latin and classical studies I have no doubt at all that that demand will make its voice heard," he said. But Mr Baughan stressed he believed curricular flexibility was essential to schools if they were to engage with children, particularly the 20% who leave without qualifications.

I'm becoming convinced that this word "demand" has become one of the most over- and vaguely-used terms in education. What, precisely, is "demand" as it applies to education? Surely it doesn't come from the students -- near as I can tell, there is no "demand" for mathematics amongst most of them. Similarly, I don't think it comes from parents, a good chunk of whom clearly have no opinion about music, art, and drama being in the curriculum. I've also never heard of folks beating down the doors to "demand" their kids be given "guidance" or "family studies" or any of those other postmodern subjects. Of course, what they really mean is "enrollment", which is a different animal entirely ... Laptops for Latin ...

5:23:52 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

NUNTII: Who is Buried in St. Mark's Tomb? Alexander?????

The cynical among us immediately think this item -- from the Independent -- must be the beginning of the major hype about the Alexander flick (we'll see how much attention the story gets). According to "a respected authority", the tomb of St. Mark in Venice contains the body of Alexander the Great: 

It could be one of the worst cases of mistaken identity ever known. A British historian is claiming that the venerated tomb of St Mark in Venice contains not the great evangelist but the body of the most famous warlord in history.

The mummified remains buried beneath the altar of St Mark's Basilica in fact belong to Alexander the Great, according to Andrew Chugg, a respected authority on the Macedonian conqueror.

His theory, a complex tale of medieval body-snatching, is already dividing the academic world. This week he will cause outrage among devout Catholics when, writing in the latest edition ofHistory Today, he says the saintly relics should be exhumed and subjected to genetic testing.

Locating the body's resting place has been rated as the holy grail of archaeology. Alexander, a Macedonian king living in the 4th century BC, had godlike status during his lifetime and for many centuries after. By his 30th birthday he had conquered an empire stretching 3,000 miles from Greece to India.

His life will be dramatised later this year in a "sword and sandals" Hollywood epic starring Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie and Sir Anthony Hopkins and directed by Oliver Stone.

Alexander died aged 32 or 33, according to some authorities, and for 700 years his corpse lay entombed in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, which he founded. Yet, by the 4th century AD it had vanished.

Mr Chugg, the author of several books on Alexander, believes the confusion occurred when the warrior's body was disguised as St Mark to protect it from destruction during a Christian uprising.

"Both bodies were said to be mummified in linen, and one seems to disappear at the same time that the other appears - in almost exactly the same place, near the central crossroads of Alexandria," he writes. "It's a strong possibility that somebody in the Church hierarchy, perhaps even the Patriarch himself, decided it might be a good plan to pretend the remains of Alexander were those of St Mark.

"If this is true, then it was Alexander's remains - not those of St Mark - that were stolen by Venetian merchants and taken back to their native city some four centuries later." In fact, three early Christian sources state that St Mark's body was burnt after his death.

Mr Chugg's theory, elaborated in a forthcoming book, The Lost Tomb of Alexander the Great, has divided academics. Robin Lane Fox of Oxford University, an eminent Alexander scholar who advised Oliver Stone on the film, was dismissive. "It's very charming, but it's slightly stale buns," he said.

But Paul Cartledge, professor of Greek history at Cambridge and author of Alexander the Great: The Hunt for a New Past, was enthusiastic. "There's certainly a chance it could be true, because there's a historical gap that needs to be filled," he said. "We all want to explain why the trail goes cold at the end of the 4th century. At that point, Christianity triumphs and nobody has a voice to say where this pre-Christian hero is buried. He just fades away."

Dr Paul Doherty, another recent biographer, said: "Alexander was regarded as almost a divine figure, and if we could get to the body, with DNA testing, we could find out a great deal about him - for instance, why he died so quickly. The corpse of Alexander's father, Philip, was discovered in Greek Macedonia in 1970, so there's no reason why we shouldn't find Alexander. The body is out there somewhere - but I suspect it is still under the streets of Alexandria." [more]

We'll have to wait to see how this one plays out ... Chugg has published in scholarly journals on similar subjects (e.g. The Sarcophagus of Alexander the Great? in Greece and Rome 49.1 (2002)).

5:07:34 AM    Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

AWOTV: On TV Today

... nothing of interest ...
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