~ This Day in Ancient History
ante diem vi kalendas januarias
- nothing ... not even a reasonably-well-attested martyr
::Monday, December 27, 2004 8:24:31 AM::
~ The Year in Nudes
The Cleveland Plain Dealer has a piece noting the 'overexposure' Americans were, well, overexposed to this year and among the 'Nudes in Review' we read:
As the year was winding down, nudes were in the news again. The FCC, a formerly faceless bureaucracy, pumped its newly activated inquiring muscles, demanding tapes of NBC's Opening Ceremony coverage from the Summer Olympics in Athens.
Apparently, some of those unclothed, statuelike Greek gentlemen showed a little too much souvlaki. Even though the performers' colorful body suits were stylistic and symbolic, the FCC, responding to a rash of complaints (all nine of them), said it was determined to get to the bottom of this affront in the birthplace of Western civilization. For ancient Greeks, of course, there was only one way to run, jump and wrestle: naked.
The Cleveland Museum of Art unveiled its own ancient Greek, Apollo.
But the beautiful bronze sculpture was shrouded in mystery. It may or may not be the work of noted Greek artist Praxiteles, the museum may or may not have shelled out $5 million to acquire it, and its innate Greekness may or may not have been vouched for by Roman historian Pliny the Elder. One stroke of good fortune: The nude "Apollo the Lizard-Slayer" is exempt from FCC regulations.
This seems like an appropriate place to note in passing that in the 'authenticity kerfuffle' associated with the Apollo Sauroktonos, one of the things that struck me as 'odd', was the fact that he appears to have lost his arms, but retained his 'manhood', which is (I believe) unique among extant Praxitelean statuary.
::Monday, December 27, 2004 8:12:05 AM::
~ So That's Where Ikaros Was
I don't know about you, but when I was an undergrad (and even now) I often had difficulties putting ancient sites in a modern context. So, in the hopes that this will help someone somewhere adjust their own ancient mental map, here's an excerpt from the Lebanon Daily Star on a proposed tourist development in Kuwait:
Failaka, the scene of an attack in October 2002 when two Kuwaiti gunmen killed a U.S. Marine during wargames, is home to Kuwait's most important archaeological site.
It is 43 square kilometers in size, boasts 38 kilometers of coastline and is almost completely flat.
During the Iraqi occupation, Kuwaitis on the island moved back to the mainland, although some families have since begun renovating their properties.
After the Iraqi occupation, the Kuwait government bought up many of the residences on the island and the Kuwaiti armed forces today maintain a major presence.
A new harbor with a capacity for 300 boats will be built on the Island to link it with the mainland, Oun said.
Between 2300 B.C. and 1100 B.C., a Bahrain-based maritime trading civilization called the Dilmun dominated the Gulf and had a settlement on Failaka, remains of which can still be seen today.
The Greeks arrived in the 4th century B.C. in the form of a garrison sent by Nearchus, one of Alexander the Great's admirals, and Failaka became known as Ikaros.
A page at Globalsecurity.org adds some details:
The Greeks arrived in the 4th century BC in the form of a garrison sent by Nearchus, one of Alexander the Great's admirals. A small settlement existed on the island prior to this, but it was as the Greek town of Ikaros that the settlement became a real city. The Greeks lived on Failaka for two centuries. Failaka Island had a small Greek colony from 325 to 150 BC and was part of a maritime trade route in the Ptolomeic era. The remains of a temple can be found there today. Coins and seals found there point to Failaka remaining an important trading post with links to Iraq, Persia, the Mediterranean, the Levant, India and Africa. Its fresh water and strategic position favouring the Island's development.
Nearchus was one of the many fascinating military leader types in Alexander's retinue and the author of the Indike -- an account of his travels across the Indian Ocean.
::Monday, December 27, 2004 7:44:51 AM::
~ Ancient Village Near Tel Aviv
There's an AP story bouncing around about the discovery of remains of an ancient village near Tel Aviv. Here's the incipit of the version from the Jerusalem Post:
Archeologists have discovered a village near the Mediterranean coast dating from the 4th century B.C., the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Sunday - a rare find.
The discovery provides an unusual insight into a turbulent period when there were intense struggles for control over the area, said Uzi Ad, who led the dig.
During this period the region was under the rule of the Egyptian Ptolemy empire and then the Selucid Greeks from Syria before it was conquered by the Jewish Hasmonean dynasty in the second century B.C.
"The village was abandoned after the area was conquered by the Hasmoneans," Ad said. It was found just south of Tel Aviv, about 4 kilometers (2 1/2 miles) inland from the Mediterranean Sea.
Unfortunately, the article doesn't really give a hint about the culture of the village (other than to suggest they strategically located their garbage disposal area, which I would suspect is common to most cultures). Hopefully we'll hear more ...
::Monday, December 27, 2004 7:30:02 AM::
~ Pondering the Tsunami
In light of the recent tragic earthquake/tsunami which hit Indonesia and environs (which almost happened on the anniversary of the Bam earthquake last year), the Washington Times ponders some ancient earthquakes, inter alia:
The great French archaeologist Claude Schaeffer, excavator of the Bronze Age City of Ugarit, in present day Syria, believed that enormous quakes thousands of years ago periodically wrecked cities throughout the Near East, bringing to an end the Early Bronze Age and later disrupting civilization repeatedly.
A massive earthquake in Crete -- still a seismically sensitive zone -- is believed by many archaeologists to have destroyed the high civilization of Middle Bronze Age Crete, thought by many to have been the inspiration for the legend of Atlantis. The novelist Mary Renault used it as the basis for her classic historical novel "The King Must Die."
The city of Troy, immortalized by Homer in his Iliad, was found by archaeologists to have been destroyed by earthquake many times and repeatedly rebuilt.
On earthquakes at Troy and other sites in the eastern Mediterranean, there was an interesting article in the Stanford Report years ago (1997!) on the work of geophysicist Amost Nur. Media folk looking for 'precedents' might more appropriately want to mention Helike, in 373 B.C. ... I have often read/heard scholars speculating/postulating tsunamis in regards to the fall of Minoans and/or Myceneans, but I wonder what the sea level of the Mediterranean would have been at the time.
::Monday, December 27, 2004 7:26:21 AM::