~ Spartacus: the Musical
From France comes news (thanks GB!) of a musical based on the story of Spartacus. There's an official website up for Sparatcus le gladiateur: revait d'etre libre ... it's in French, but it gives you an idea of what it will be about. You can send your mom an ecard too and totally baffle her. (requires Flash).
Sunday, September 12, 2004 12:30:27 PM
~ Cleveland Apollo Flak
The Cleveland Museum of Art is taking flak over the provenance of its recently-acquired Apollo. One account from the Plain Dealer:
Apollo was the god of light, music and poetry, but he's bringing mystery and controversy to the Cleveland Mu seum of Art.
Officials at the museum were ecstatic in June when they announced they had bought a hitherto-unknown ancient bronze sculpture of the Greco-Roman deity.
But while the museum is trying to figure out whether it purchased a Greek masterpiece or a later and somewhat less valuable Roman version, it is taking heavy flak over uncertainties in the sculpture's more recent past.
Prominent archaeologists and other critics say the museum shouldn't have bought the work because its provenance, or ownership history, is riddled with gaps. They say purchases of such works encourage the looting of archaeological sites and the global market in smuggled artworks.
"Museums like the Cleveland Museum of Art are outrageous in their acquisition policies," said Ricardo Elia, an associate professor of archaeology at Boston University and a prominent spokesman on the ethics of collecting antiquities.
Malcolm Bell, a professor of art history at the University of Virginia and a vice president of the Archaeological Institute of America, questions the museum's account that the art work was discovered by a retired German lawyer on his family's estate in the 1990s.
"It sounds like the kind of fabrication that is made frequently in the market to provide a faked provenance," he said.
Ernst-Ulrich Walter, the lawyer, declined through an inter preter to be interviewed.
Elia, Bell and others say the purchase is also troubling because the museum bought the Apollo from Phoenix Ancient Art, a dealership that has run afoul of the law.
Ali Aboutaam, who runs the gallery's branch in Geneva, Switzerland and who co-owns the business with his brother, Hicham, was convicted in absentia in Egypt last year on charges of smuggling and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Ali Aboutaam's lawyer, Mario Roberty, said the charges were "absolutely ridiculous" and politically motivated.
Hicham Aboutaam pleaded guilty in New York on June 23 - the day after the museum announced the Apollo purchase - to a misdemeanor federal charge that he had falsified a customs document to hide the origins of an ancient silver drinking vessel the Phoenix gallery later sold for $950,000.
Hicham Aboutaam declined to comment. His lawyer, Henry Bergman, said the Aboutaams are "not in the business of breaking laws," but that in the charge related to the drinking vessel, he "inadvertently broke a law by making a mistake filling out a form. The piece he imported was legal to import."
The museum acknowledges gaps in the Apollo's prove nance. But it says physical evidence shows the sculpture has been out of the ground for at least a century and could not have been looted in violation of modern laws or treaties, particularly the 1970 UNESCO Convention on Cultural Property, a key international agreement on halting illicit trade in art and antiquities.
Katharine Reid, director of the Cleveland museum, said she couldn't agree with the viewpoint that "the piece is guilty until proven innocent." She said that a greater public good is served by exhibiting the work for all to see than by passing it up. [more]
See also the article in the Art Newspaper ...
Sunday, September 12, 2004 11:07:33 AM
~ Audio-Visual Resources for Classics
Dr. J. wants this widely bruited about and it seems to be a good thing so to do, so:
I am delighted to announce that the newest incarnation of the Survey of Audio-Visual Resources for Classics (previously found at http://lilt.ilstu.edu/drjclassics2) is now available on-line in a searchable database format. The database is a compilation of thousands of audio-visual items useful for the teaching and learning of classical (Greek and Roman) archaeology, culture, philosophy, mythology, history, art and architecture, literature, and languages available for purchase (or available freely over the internet). Search by keyword, by specific media type, or by a host of other methods.
The new database offers users quick access to information that can be kept up-to-date easily. Users are encouraged to report inconsistencies (as well as suggestions for new items to be added) to the editor.
Please replace links to:
with the new address:
The Stoa has graciously agreed to host the AV Survey Database on a server otherwise committed to research and pedagogy, as a service to the classics teaching and learning community.
Dr. J has been compiling this resource for years and it definitely is the place to start if you're looking for slides, photos, videos, etc. about ancient Greece and Rome.
Sunday, September 12, 2004 10:25:45 AM
~ La Posta Vecchia
An Explorator reader sent this one in (thanks AM) but it seems more appropriate here (maybe) ... it's from the travel section of the Scotsman and provides details on La Posta Vecchia, a very expensive hotel in Italy:
The Italy of travel-writing cliché is all about light and love, but this time thereís no getting away from it. La Posta Vecchia, which stands on the former site of Julius Caesarís villa, embodies these concepts perfectly. From the breathtaking views over the Tirrenean sea and the exquisite design of the hallway, rooms and indoor Roman pool to the fine dining and the discretion and elegance of the understated service, the whole experience is rich and uplifting. The property and grounds were bought and lovingly restored to their 17th-century splendour by John Paul Getty in the middle of the last century, and it was turned into a hotel in the 1990s. [more]
Of course the place has a website, which is kind of interesting in itself (not your typical Italian hotel website). Maybe when I win the lottery ...
Sunday, September 12, 2004 10:22:46 AM
~ Odyssey Reading
Again it appears I spoke too soon when I bewailed the lack of marathon readings of the Odyssey ... from the Lexington Herald-Leader:
Some unsuspecting UK students who think Homer's Odyssey is a Simpsons episode might be surprised to see a slew of "rhapsodies" reciting the epic Greek poem all day Monday outside the Student Center.
Students in the honors program and noted guests from the community will take turns reading sections of the Odyssey, which recounts the journey of the warrior Odysseus as he struggles to return home after the Trojan War. The readings begin at 9 a.m. and last until midnight Monday.
Back in the day (the ancient Greek day), Homer's poems were top-notch entertainment. Professional readers, called rhapsodies (literally "song stitchers"), would publicly read his poems in their entirety. Bonus points if you stick around for the whole thing.
We assume those reciting are rhapsodes, by the way ...
Sunday, September 12, 2004 10:16:38 AM
~ Roman Finds at Acre
From Ha'aretz comes this tidbit, inter alia:
The contractors of Yefe Nof construction company received a direct order from Transport Ministry director-general Bentzi Salman to stop building a two level underpass at the eastern entrance to Acre-Safed. The Acre Municipality says stopping the work has caused a number of problems, the greatest of which is the danger to life.
The stoppage was the result of heavy political pressure from the ultra-Orthodox community following the discovery of ancient graves. Meir Porush, MK (United Torah Judaism), led the move to stop construction of the road, which will pass beneath railroad tracks and which is essential both for safety and to ease traffic congestion at the main eastern entrance to Acre due to the passage of four trains an hour during rush hour.
Israel Antiquity Authority (IAA) archaeologists' explanations that the graves belong to Roman legionaries and not to Jews have fallen on deaf ears.
The work began about a year ago, with a budget of slightly over NIS 30 million. At the first stage of construction, road 85 was detoured via a dangerous curve several dozen meters north temporarily, and construction began on the underpass at the site of the original road. Preparation for a detour for the railroad track has also begun.
It is estimated that NIS 15 million have been invested so far in the project. However two months ago, as construction excavators reached a depth of a meter and a half, they began to discover remains of Hellentisic structures and of a Roman aqueduct, and archaeologists were called in.
IAI northern district archaeologist, Dror Barshad explained that the area was declared an antiquities site many years ago. A salvage dig was begun on the site in coordination with the construction company. The archaeologist in charge of the excavations, Yotam Tepper determined that the human remains were of Roman soldiers. This was based on artifacts, including pagan altars, a hoard of coins that was apparently a soldier's salary, and the fact that the bones were burned, which was not in keeping with Jewish tradition. [more]
For those with a Classical bent, Acre is one of many ancient cities with the name Ptolemais ...
Sunday, September 12, 2004 10:13:12 AM