~ This Day in Ancient History
- ludi compitales continue (day 3) -- really a moveable festival which might occur anytime between Saturnalia and January 5. It was largely a rural occasion involving woollen dolls being made to represent each free member of the household (simple woollen balls would be used to represent slaves) being hung up on the eve of the festival, presumably as offerings to the Lares. There would also follow more formal sacrifices at the compita (places where two farm paths crossed).
- ?? B.C. -- dedication of the shrine of Vica Pota, a deity apparently associated with Victoria in some way
- 138/9 A.D. -- martyrdom of Telesphorus
- 1906 -- birth of Kathleen Kenyon (excavatrix of Jericho)
- 1932 -- birth of Umberto Eco
::Wednesday, January 05, 2005 5:20:12 AM::
~ Father Foster
Here's the official description of this week's segment with Father Foster:
Six hundred years ago Pope Leo the Great, wrote about the magi, the camels they rode, the gifts they brought with them, the star they followed from the Orient... And centuries later our very own "Latin Lover" uses these same writings to celebrate that fascinating journey...
::Wednesday, January 05, 2005 5:06:43 AM::
~ Roman Influence at Beit She'arim
A piece in Ha'aretz on the house of a rabbi at Beit She'arim gives some glimpses of Roman architectural influence in Israel:
When Alexander Zeid - who in 1909 founded Hashomer, the first armed Jewish defense force in modern times - began to build his home in the hills of Sheikh Abrik in the late 1920s, the remains of an ancient wall were unearthed. Zeid invited archaeologist Benjamin Maisler - who subsequently changed his name to Mazar - to examine the wall. Mazar determined that it dated to the Roman period, and in 1939 and 1940 he led a team that exposed a large and well-established settlement that peaked between the end of the second century and the middle of the fourth century of the Common Era.
Mazar and Nachman Avigad, the directors of the excavation, identified the site as the historic Beit She'arim, one of the largest Jewish towns in the Lower Galilee in the late Second Temple period and the era of rebellions against the Romans. The area of the town was calculated at some 1600 dunams (400 acres), qualifying it as a fairly large settlement for that time. The archaeologists unearthed private residences, paved streets and several impressive public buildings.
One of these structures, found in the middle of the hill on which Beit She'arim was built, was the synagogue of Beit She'arim. Built in the early third century in basilica style, it was a rectangular structure with two rows of columns at its center. At one end of the basilica, which was constructed of large hewn stones, was a raised podium, and there was a place for the Holy Ark by the entrance wall. The walls were plastered, and adorned with decorated and inscribed marble tablets.
In the fourth season of the excavation, in 1940, the dig was extended beyond the area of the synagogue. The remains of four structures were unearthed along the slope below the synagogue.
Mazar and his colleagues believed that they were auxiliary buildings for the synagogue. These structures included a plaza - with a row of columns outside the wall of the building, fixtures and stoves for a bathhouse, a meeting and reception room, and on a lower level, a structure that Mazar identified as a storeroom.
Yigal Tepper, a Land of Israel historian, and Yotam Tepper, an Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist - father and son - have restudied Mazar and Avigad's findings during the last few years and have reached a surprising conclusion: The four structures are essentially different wings of the same building. And not just any building, but the home of Rabbi Judah the Prince, redactor of the Mishna - the core of the Talmud - Judaism's oral law, and leader of the Jewish community in the Land of Israel in the second century of the Common Era. The theory appears in their book, "Beit She'arim: The Village and Nearby Burial."
Sources from the time of Rabbi Judah the Prince speak of his extreme wealth and elevated status. The luxury of the building is indicated by its dimensions - approximately 400 square meters - and it apparently had three stories and many rooms. Like the synagogue, the building was constructed of large hewn stones. The cellar contained a stable - a rectangular structure divided into three long halls that could hold at least 16 animals. Stone feeding troughs were found in two of the walls.
The ground floor housed a bathhouse, service rooms and reception rooms. There was an internal courtyard, and the row of columns, which was located near the bathhouse wall. In Yigal Tepper's opinion, this courtyard was an exedra - a large curving portico. This design element was first found in Roman architecture and was not commonly found in private-home construction in the Land of Israel. The exedra served as a meeting place for relaxation and respite, for individuals who had come to consult with Rabbi Judah, the president of the Sanhedrin, the supreme court of rabbinical elders. Tepper believes that the building had a third story that would have served as living quarters for Rabbi Judah and his family.
Beneath the bathhouse, next to the stable, the archaeologists found another unique architectural element. Carved into a relatively small room, which had a separate entrance, was a bell-shaped pit that was not plastered. Atop it was a stone with a square hole in it. This was a lavatory - an item not ordinarily found even in the wealthiest homes of the period.
Avigad unearthed another large structure during subsequent excavations conducted in the 1950s on the southern side of the hill. It was an impressive basilica structure built in the second Century, during the period of Rabbi Judah's legislative activity in Beit She'arim. Based on contemporary sources, the Sanhedrin was then located in Beit She'arim. In their new study, Yotam and Yigal Tepper suggest that the Sanhedrin was housed in this structure.
::Wednesday, January 05, 2005 5:00:16 AM::
~ Chariot Track in Colchester?
From the Times:
ARCHAEOLOGISTS believe that they may have unearthed the world’s biggest Roman chariot-racing track outside Italy.
Excavations of part of the garrison in Colchester, Essex, Britain’s oldest recorded town, have revealed traces of a track that are being examined by English Heritage. The garrison is the home of the 16 Air Assault Brigade and is the longest-established garrison in the country.
A massive investment programme to rebuild most of the garrison under the Private Finance Initiative has begun to support the Brigade and other units. It is that preliminary work that has opened the way for experts from Colchester Archaeological Trust to unearth its Roman origins.
A spokesman for Taylor Woodrow, the house-builder, said: “At the moment there are a couple of areas where we are not 100 per cent sure what we have found and we have sent reports to English Heritage.”
Up to 2,500 homes are being built on the 209-acre redevelopment site. Colchester, which was first mentioned by Pliny the Elder in AD77, was sacked by Boadicea and her Celtic army, which was renowned for its war chariots.
Queen of the Iceni, she led the ultimately ill-fated rebellion against the Roman authorities as a result of their mistreatment of her family and people after the death of her husband, Prasutagus, who may have been a Roman client- ruler, in AD60.
Major Ian Marlow, Army chief of staff, said: “There is not a huge amount left, but the archaeological chaps have drawn up a rough plan of what it would have looked like. It is quite a find and there have been discussions with the council about how we go forward.”
English Heritage confirmed that it is investigating the find. If confirmed as a sizeable chariot-race track, the site will be of international importance. A spokeswoman said: “An inspector has visited the site and we are awaiting her report.”
Philip Wise, of Colchester Museums Service, said that if the find was verified, it could stop the housing development plans. He added: “I would hope we would be able to work something out with the developers so it could still go ahead.” [more]
::Wednesday, January 05, 2005 4:54:51 AM::
~ Ammianus and the Tsunami
A rogueclassicism reader pointed me to this (thanks JR!) ... In the just-released Journal of Roman Studies is a very topical piece. Here's the abstract:
Gavin Kelly: Ammianus and the Great Tsunami
This article is a close reading of Ammianus' narrative of the great earthquake and tsunami of 21 July A.D. 365 (26.1015-19). Contemporaries magnified the scale of the disaster to make it a providential response to the death of Julian the Apostate in A.D. 363. Ammianus is engaged, though at a distance, with the fantasies and providentialism found in these other, predominantly Christian, sources. The historian's autopsy, the carefully engineered closural position of the narrative, the implication of universal disaster, and intertextuality with the rest of the work combine to suggest that the tsunami acts as a representative symbol of the Res Gestae as a whole. The passage links the Roman Empire's lack of leadership after the death of Julian to the approaching disaster of Adrianople.
Having done that, I should mention that I've been toying with the idea of posting TOCs and/or Abstracts of journals here ... so here's the remainder of what's in the 2004 issue of JRS (comments on this practice welcome):
Walter Scheidel: Human Mobility in Roman Italy I: The Free Population
The first instalment of a two-part study, this paper presents a comprehensive quantitative model of population transfers within, to, and from Italy, from the late fourth century B.C. to the first century A.D. It assesses the size of the Italian population, changes in the pace of migration, and the scale of colonization programmes and urbanization, and explores the nexus between human mobility and Roman state formation and identity. (Next year's sequel deals with the size and mobility of the Italian slave population.)
Tobias Reinhardt: Readers in the Underworld: Lucretius De Rerum Natura 3.912-1075
This study argues for two connected conclusions. The first is that one can plausibly read lines 912-1075 of Lucretius' De rerum natura as a symbolic katabasis undertaken by the reader (which stands in an obvious tension to the surface meaning of the text). The second is that the Underworld thus constructed has a more specific model – the end myth in Plato's Gorgias – and that Lucretius engages with this model by showing that a particular conception of pleasure, in evidence in both texts, is to be adopted for reasons different from those suggested by Plato's dialogue.
Ingo Gildenhard and Andrew Zissos: Ovid's 'Hecale': Deconstructing Athens in the Metamorphoses
This paper examines the narratives in the second half of Metamorphoses 2 dealing with the legendary origins of Athens, which constitute an engagement with the Atthidographic tradition as mediated by Callimachus' Hecale. We argue that these (and various later) episodes subvert or obscure the cultural content of the Atthidography. Ovid's discourse of Attic origins is thereby subjected to 'deconstructive' pressures that result in a subtle but enduring vitiation of Athenian cultural prestige within the world-system of the Metamorphoses. The corollary to this denigration of Athens is the recurring anticipation of Roman ascendancy and the insinuation of a transcendent, all-encompassing Romanitas.
Judith S. McKenzie, Sheila Gibson† and A.T. Reyes: Reconstructing the Serapeum in Alexandria from the Archaeological Evidence
The Serapeum or Sarapeion, which contained the Temple of Serapis, was Alexandria's most important sanctuary. A detailed analysis is made of all the records of its archaeological remains and the written sources. There is sufficient evidence from which to suggest, for the first time, reliable axonometric reconstructions of both the Ptolemaic and Roman phases of the whole complex, and to clarify its chronology. These reconstructions confirm the fourth-century A.D. descriptions. The archaeological evidence also elucidates details in the historical sources concerning the conversion of the site to Christianity after the destruction of the temple in A.D. 391.
Günter Grimm and Judith S. McKenzie: Architectural Fragments Found in the Excavations of the Serapeum in Alexandria in c. 1900
Architectural fragments excavated at the Serapeum in Alexandria were recorded in photographs taken by the Sieglin Expedition in 1898/9-1901. These are analysed to ascertain what they indicate about the architectural orders used on the buildings of the Serapeum complex. Although fragmentary, these pieces are striking for the consistency of the glimpses they give of the architectural style of the Ptolemaic Serapeum as 'classical' [Greek]. They include blocks of a monumental Corinthian capital of the third century B.C. Furthermore, the details of these orders are those characteristic of the distinctive style of classical architecture which developed in Ptolemaic Alexandria.
Matthew Leigh: Quintilian on the Emotions (Institutio Oratoria 6 preface and 1-2)
This article investigates three major problems arising from the account of emotional appeal in rhetoric presented in Book 6 of the Institutio Oratoria. The first issue addressed is the place of Stoic ethics and Stoic rhetoric in the works of Quintilian and Cicero. What, in particular, are the implications of the Stoic demand that a peroration should do no more than summarize the factual arguments in the case? The second issue regards the placing of a lament for the loss of the wife and children of the orator in the proem to a book which goes on to address the role of the emotions in oratory. Does Quintilian make a textbook example of the rhetorical conquestio out of his own personal experience? If so, what does this suggest? The third problem again regards the deployment of claims to personal experience within rhetorical didaxis. Is the great secret which Quintilian claims to reveal to his readers any secret at all? Why does the personal experience claimed bear so close a resemblance to that of M. Antonius Orator in the Ciceronian De Oratore?
Edward Watts: Justinian, Malalas, and the End of Athenian Philosophical Teaching in A.D. 529
This article analyses John Malalas' description of the closing of the Athenian philosophical school and explains how Malalas' narrative, when placed within a sixth-century A.D. Athenian context, reveals that the end of Athenian teaching resulted from local factors and not explicit imperial policy. By contrast, the flight of the former Athenian teachers to Persia is unrelated to the closure of the school and, instead, arose from later anti-pagan policies initiated by the imperial court. Included as well is a discussion of how Malalas' description of the closing is both consistent with the process for disseminating late Roman law and reflective of the textual variety that this process produced.
::Wednesday, January 05, 2005 4:51:59 AM::
~ Whither Blogographos?
Folks (such as I) who have tried to visit Blogographos over the past few days may have been a bit concerned about the 'site could not be found' message that has been coming up. The owner of Blogographos (Debra Hamel) has informed me that the company that hosted her website(s) suddenly went out of business and she is in the process of moving her website(s) to a new ISP. Blogographos will return soon!
::Wednesday, January 05, 2005 4:43:00 AM::
~ d.m. Martin Robertson
The beginning of Martin Robertson's obituary in the Independent:
Martin Robertson was a giant in the study of the art and archaeology of Ancient Greece, and a much-loved friend of many in the field. His magisterial A History of Greek Art (1975) still holds prime position 30 years after publication for its breadth of learning and deep understanding, and assures his place at the forefront of scholars of classical art and archaeology.
Robertson was born shortly before the First World War into the centre of Cambridge academia, where his father, Donald, was to become in 1928 Regius Professor of Greek. After education at the Leys School and graduation from Trinity College, in 1934 Robertson went out to Athens as a student of the British School of archaeology there. The director at that time was Humfry Payne, and other budding scholars working at the school numbered such future luminaries as Romilly Jenkins, Nick Hammond, John and Robert Cook, A.H.S. (Peter) Megaw and Tom Dunbabin. Now the last survivor of that cohort has gone.
In 1936, after his time at the BSA, Robertson was appointed Assistant Keeper in the Greek and Roman Department at the British Museum. Here he stayed (apart from the war years) until 1948 when he succeeded Bernard Ashmole as Yates Professor of Classical Art and Archaeology at University College London. While holding that post he had the misfortune to choose to grow a beard - the college authorities soon put a stop to that. "Art" may have been in the title, but the Professor must not show any "arty" tendencies.
During the 1950s UCL fielded a strong team of professors; besides Robertson, Tom Webster was the Professor of Greek and Otto Skutsch the Professor of Latin. In 1961 Robertson was appointed Lincoln Professor of Classical Archaeology and Art in Oxford, again in succession to Bernard Ashmole, and served the university for the next 17 years. On retiring he returned to his home town of Cambridge.
Under the influence of (Sir) John Beazley, who held the Lincoln chair from 1925 to 1956, the study of Greek vase-painting, particularly in the attribution of unnamed paintings to specific hands, flourished in the scholarly community, and Robertson was in many ways Beazley's heir. His work in Athens led to an early series of articles on vase-painters, and all through his long career there was a steady stream of closely argued and finely written studies, not only in the area of attribution but also in iconography.
His first book was Greek Painting (1959) in which he used vase-paintings and work in other media to try to recreate the lost wall-paintings that were known only through textual references. His work on Athenian red-figure vase-painting finally culminated in The Art of Vase-Painting in Classical Athens (1992), an astonishing book for a scholar in his eighties. Indeed his retirement was a productive period, with important articles on the vases and fragments that were acquired by the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu.
Robertson's interest was not wholly centred on vase-painting. He wrote also on mosaics, jewellery and, above all, on sculpture, and 1975 saw the publication of a sensitive study, The Parthenon Frieze, and, what for many is his magnum opus, A History of Greek Art.
A masterly treatment of the vast canvas stretching over 1,000 years, the book is written in his graceful style, with learning lightly borne and enviable knowledge of the later European tradition. Indeed, a characteristic of Robertson's was to make subtle reference to later painters when seeking to illuminate the style of the Athenian craftsmen, an approach also used by Beazley. The abridged version, which he reluctantly edited, A Shorter History of Greek Art (1981), while seized upon by students as a short-cut to the basic facts, is a pale and rather bloodless imitation that fails to reflect the quality of the original and the personality of the author.
It was a mark of the man that Robertson was ready to put aside his own work and render assistance to others. He was instrumental in seeing the second volume of Humfry Payne's excavations of Perachora published in 1962, when tragedy had not only removed Payne himself but also succeeding editors.
But more important than this task was the work that he carried out, along with Dietrich von Bothmer, after Beazley's death in 1970, on Beazley's updating and enlarging of his earlier lists of painters, a task brought to conclusion in 1971 (Paralipomena: additions to Attic black-figure vase-painters and to Attic red-figure vase-painters). He also took it upon himself to explain and defend in an even-handed way Beazley's method of working, at a time when that method and its influence were coming under attack. Whilst convinced of the validity of Beazley's approach, he wished to see what truths the new polemicists had introduced. [the whole thing]
::Wednesday, January 05, 2005 4:38:36 AM::
~ AWOTV: On TV Today
6.00 p.m. |HINT| The Odyssey of Troy
What is it about the legendary city that more than 3,000 years after its fall, we still try to unravel Troy's mysteries? Scholars attempt to answer the question by researching the Greek poet Homer, possibly one of the greatest poets in Western Europe's history, and his epic tale of love and war, and comparing his text to archaeological sites.
7.00 p.m. |HINT| The Sunken City
The ancient Roman City of Ostia was once a vital seaport. Yet it died a slow, painful death. This documentary explores the reasons for its demise and looks at the abandoned wasteland today.
8.30 p.m. |HINT| Egypt According to Cleopatra
Walk the streets of Alexandria during the time of the Ptolemies along with its citizens as Cleopatra herself serves as virtual tour guide through Egypt during her reign as Queen. From the exotic yet cosmopolitan capital, built by Alexander the Great, to the Sanctuary of Dendera to the magical Isle of Philae, we explore her empire by land and sea. And, we follow Cleopatra as she sets sail for Italy on a visit to Caesar and end our journey within the city walls of Rome, where an Egyptian temple is being erected for Cleopatra's deity protector, Isis.
11.00 p.m. |HINT| Rome: The Ultimate Empire
Sam Waterston narrates this Emmy Award-winning series that sweeps through 7,000 years of history--from Ancient Mesopotamia to modern-day Tibet--and transports viewers across the ages using dramatic reenactments, location footage from 25 countries, and recent archaeological discoveries to reconstruct the ancient past. In this episode, we explore the glory of Rome--from founding to its zenith--and march along as the Romans conquer the then-known world.
HINT = History International
::Wednesday, January 05, 2005 4:35:31 AM::