Latest update: 3/1/2005; 5:15:28 AM
quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est ~ Seneca
~ This Day in Ancient History

ante diem xiv kalendas martias

  • Parentalia (day 4) -- the festival for appeasing/honouring the dead continues
  • ca. 130 A.D. -- birth of Faustina (II), daughter of the emperor Antoninus Pius and wife of the emperor Marcus Aurelius

::Wednesday, February 16, 2005 5:34:57 AM::

~ Classical Words of the Day

Today's selection:

polymath @

ululate @ Merriam-Webster

misandry @ Wordsmith

lupercalian @ Worthless Word for the Day

::Wednesday, February 16, 2005 5:28:15 AM::

~ Nuntii Latini

Ignistitium in Oriente Proximo (11.2.2005)

Mahmoud Abbas, praesidens Palaestinensium, et Ariel Sharon, princeps minister Israelianus, die Martis in oppidum Aegypti Sharm el-Skeikh congregati consensum de ignistitio in Oriente Proximo faciendo invenerunt et in fidem huius pacti dextram dextrae iunxerunt.

Tum primum post tumultum a Palaestinensibus anno bis millesimo commotum accidit, ut summi moderatores utriusque partis de pace inter se colloquerentur.

Concordia ita constituta Abbas: "Pax", inquit, "quae hodie in terras nostras venit, initium est novae aetatis".

Sharon ait causam esse, cur Israeliani cum liberis suis posterisque eorum maiorem temporis futuri spem haberent.

Difficile tamen dictu est, quantum temporis ignistitium inviolatum servetur, cum metuendum sit, ne ordines extremistarum Palaestinensium, qui sese illo pacto obligatos esse negant, actus violentos resumant.

Reijo Pitkäranta
Nuntii Latini, Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE)
(used with permission)

::Wednesday, February 16, 2005 5:23:58 AM::

~ Excavating Colonia

Looks like we'll be hearing a lot from Cologne in the future ... but for now, a brief item from Expatica:

Archaeologists on Tuesday started one of the biggest projects ever undertaken in Europe, hoping to rewrite the 2,000-year history of Cologne.

The diggers have four years to shift 100,000 cubic metres of soil, looking for foundations and artefacts that will go on display at the city museum.

The Romans founded "Colonia" and it was one of European biggest cities in late Roman times and the Middle Ages. Past digs have yielded Roman mosaics, tombstones and oil lamps.

Chief archaeologist Hansgerd Hellenkemper said his team would try to discover why the Roman river port silted up and how Cologne was affected by a drastic change in the world's climate 1,800 years ago.

The team are to dig up to 13 metres under the surface at sites that have been reserved for an underground railway. When the 100 archaeologists leave, the engineers will move in.

::Wednesday, February 16, 2005 5:21:31 AM::

~ New Kifissia Museum

From Kathimerini:

As thousands of prospective land developers have found out the hard way, the discovery of antiquities in your backyard can have highly tiresome repercussions. Communities, however, which can afford to take a more enlightened view, tend to get very upset when locally unearthed artifacts get carted off by state archaeologists to join thousands of other ancient finds in storage, with next to no chance of ever making it into crowded museums’ display cases.

Too often, the story ends there.

But occasionally, local communities, backed by excavators, are tenacious enough to secure the repatriation of their antiquities, to be displayed in purpose-built museums. Over a century after systematic excavations began at the most impressive Bronze Age site in mainland Greece, Mycenae now has its own museum.

Which makes it all the more remarkable that, less than four years after the discovery — just down the road from the Kifissia railway station — of a rich cemetery dating from the eighth century BC to the fourth century AD, the leafy northern Athens suburb now boasts its own small museum.

The modestly named Archaeological Collection of Kifissia occupies a listed 1930s villa on the corner of Kassaveti and Georganta streets, that provides about 150 square meters of exhibition space, as well as a conservation lab, offices and storerooms.

The museum only came into existence after a five-year campaign by Culture Ministry archaeologists — spurred by Dimitris Schilardi, who was in charge of the cemetery excavation as well as several other digs in northern Athens — backed by Kifissia municipal authorities and a dogged group of local residents who formed the Society of Friends of the Archeological Museum of Kifissia (EFAMK) in early 2002.

“Over the past decade, excavations in the northern suburbs and Kifissia, together with the large number of digs conducted more recently due to construction work for the Athens 2004 Olympics, have forced the state archaeological service to seek novel ways of storing and showcasing all the new finds,” Schilardi said. “There were a lot of artifacts which had to go somewhere. Kifissia had several museums, but none dedicated to antiquity. The Archaeological Collection will now fill that void.”

While the ministry provided the antiquities and specialized personnel, the Municipality of Kifissia contributed the museum building, paying the rent and the monthly bills. And EFAMK, headed by architect Pavlos Calligas, undertook to renovate the building using funds from subscriptions, private and state sponsorship as well as members’ voluntary work.

While the display — around 160 antiquities are exhibited — is weighted in favor of the artifacts from Kifissia, other areas of northern and northeastern Athens are also represented.

The northernmost peak of the Tourkovounia hills produced remains of a shrine dating to 700 BC that is associated with ancestral worship, while in Classical times the spot was dedicated to Zeus Ombrios, the bringer of rain.

In Maroussi, the ancient deme of Athmono, excavations in 2001-02 revealed a large ancient cemetery used from the sixth century BC to Roman times. Several fine pieces of Classical pottery were unearthed (associated with the workshop of the Achilles Painter), while the grave of a youth was found to contain a collection of 55 knucklebones, used in a game that was popular among boys and teenagers in antiquity.

Pallini, once a country village that now lies on the eastern fringes of the modern city, provided a group of impressive marble funerary monuments — a large relief sculpture of a seated woman with her slave, and several urns — from a cemetery built on the western bank of the Panaghitsa streambed.

Kifissia is represented by the finds from the cemetery, as well as a number of pieces of second century AD sculpture associated with the area’s most famous ancient resident, the philosopher and public benefactor Herodes Atticus. Herodes, who built the odeum under the Acropolis that is still named after him and the marble stadium at Ardittos, as well as several public buildings in Corinth, Delphi and Olympia, had a tumultuous relationship with his fellow Athenians. This is graphically demonstrated by a curse Herodes had inscribed on a marble slab, now in the museum, to deter vandals from attacking his property (a series of imprecations culminating in an ill death for the vandals and their families).

Among the earlier exhibits is a marble head from a male statue, discovered in Kato Kifissia, dating to around 420 BC.

“This shows that there are masterpieces hidden under Kifissia, which future archaeological excavations may reveal,” Schilardi said.

The ancient cemetery of Kifissia, excavated in a plot on the corner of Socratous and Aharnon streets, contained some 200 burials and, according to Schilardi, is one of the most important in the whole of Attica.

The finds on display include a bronze urn and a 90-centimeter-long iron sword that date to the eighth century BC.

“These funerary offerings attest to the wealth and power of Kifissia’s aristocratic families during Geometric times, while the burial customs show that they sought to imitate the heroic traditions described by Homer,” said Schilardi, who is now pushing for a larger venue for the artifacts.

“Since 2000, there has been a huge flow of finds. This creates the need for a larger museum,” he said, adding that the Municipality of Kifissia has expressed willingness to provide an 8,000-square-meter plot on which a suitable building can be erected.

::Wednesday, February 16, 2005 5:19:00 AM::

~ Double Take Headlines

A couple of headlines caused me to pause somewhat longer than I normally would while sorting through the email. First, from the Daily Guide:

Plato's teachers among lowest paid in state

Well, we all  knew that Socrates didn't die a rich man ... Then the Contra Costa Times declared:

Hercules' Wang goes for glory

No comment necessary, I assume ...

::Wednesday, February 16, 2005 5:17:08 AM::

~ Sabine Priest?

From (an Italian site) comes news of the discovery near Rome (probably in Rome ... it's ancient Eretum) of a tomb of what appears to be a Sabine priest. The site dates to the fifth century B.C./B.C.E. and includes the discovery of a lituus (only a couple of other such items have ever been found).

::Wednesday, February 16, 2005 5:12:41 AM::

~ Mythology Jeopardy

From the MetroWest Daily News:

The group of nearly 50 third-, fourth- and fifth- graders filled the music room and lined up two-by-two, facing the television screen.
     The enthusiastic youngsters looked ready to watch a new DVD or play a video game. Instead, a hush fell over the crowd as the Mythology Jeopardy Tournament began.
     "The Greek name for Aphrodite," Proctor School reading specialist Sylvia Pabrezia said, standing before the computerized Jeopardy screen.
     "Venus!" one of the students shouted after buzzing in.
     "That is correct," Pabrezia announced to a crowd of cheering students high-fiving.
     Yesterday's after-school tournament was the final part of a four-week mythology prep course for third-, fourth- and fifth-graders. Students voluntarily studied Greek and Roman mythology for the last four weeks, after school with Proctor teachers Liz O'Neill, Laurie McCabe and Pabrezia.
     In March, the students will take The American Classical League's national mythology exam, where they can receive award certificates and ribbons, said O'Neill, who introduced the program at Proctor.
     O'Neill said the Mythology Study Group came up as an "opportunity for third-, fourth- and fifth-graders to choose to challenge themselves."
     Last year, the school offered the exams to students, and this is the first year they have offered the study group.
     "We're always looking for ways to challenge the kids," O'Neill said.
     "This is completely above and beyond (the classroom)," she said. Students elect to participate in the extracurricular work which includes reading and studying mythology at home.
     The students are exposed to literature they are not able to study in the classroom. "We're really encouraging the kids to accept the challenge," O'Neill said.
     Fourth-grader Lauren Travers said she enjoyed the study group.
     "It's a fun way of learning to study and stuff, and it definitely builds up my skills," the 10-year-old Northborough resident said. "You get to learn about things that aren't around gods and goddesses."
     Fellow fourth-grader Eric Cziria said he thought the program was neat.
     The 9-year-old Northborough student said the coolest thing he has learned since studying mythology is that "some people ate children."
     Third-grader Kelly Petrone, 8, was on the winning team. "I really liked the Jeopardy game," she said.
     Sara Alsalem's favorite piece of mythology was fitting for Valentine's week. "I liked the myth of Cupid and how he was born from beauty and love," the 10-year-old fourth-grader said.

I hope that first question was a typo ...

::Wednesday, February 16, 2005 5:07:54 AM::

~ Classics Merger at UAlabama?

From the Crimson White comes the news:

Tara Carney, a classics-theatre and dance double major, said she does not like the idea of the modern languages and classics department merging classics, French and German into one major, because all three programs are distinct and should remain so.

Carney said she plans to apply to an Ivy League graduate school to study classics in the future. "I don't want a foreign languages degree," she said. "It would cause people to question the validity of the program."

To save the classics major from inactivation, UA officials are considering combining classics, French and German into one major, but some classics faculty and students do not think such a combination is a good idea.

"There is a rumor going around that [the Alabama Commission on Higher Education] might raise the bar on the number of graduates [required for a program to be considered viable],"said Michael Picone, chairman of the Modern Languages and Classics department. "We are doing our best to ensure that classics has a bright future.

"I am in favor of the merger as opposed to losing classics."

The Russian major was inactivated in the fall because it did not meet ACHE's standards. Classics is not currently considered viable by the Commission.

The combined major would be called "foreign languages." Even after the possible combination, students would still take a classics, French or German track of courses.

The proposal to merge the programs was reviewed by the College of Arts and Sciences Curriculum Committee, which will recommend to the Dean of A&S that the programs remain as they are. This recommendation is not binding.

"We may or may not go ahead with the merger," Picone said.

The Committee said the timing of the merger is not appropriate because of the planned enrollment increase at the University, Picone said.

The Committee said a combination of classics, French and German would also lead to confusion about the programs - both by prospective students and employers considering a graduate of the combined major.

"It makes it a little harder to determine what kind of background [a graduate with a degree in the combined major] would have," Picone said.

Picone said the College of Arts of Sciences must approve the measure first, and if it does, the University would present the proposal to ACHE.

"I am guardedly optimistic that it will go through," Picone said.

Ellen Haulman, ACHE staff associate for academic affairs, said the strategy of combining programs so the new major meets viability standards is fairly common, but "it has to fit - it has to make sense."

"This type of situation is not atypical," Haulman said. "That is an academic decision."

Even though some people might have a perception that a combined major would not be as rigorous, Picone said he does not think combining classics, French and German would hurt the programs.

A similar situation exists in the romance languages graduate program, which offers French and Spanish tracks.

"We haven't seen that work to the disadvantage of our graduates," Picone said.

Kirk Summers, associate classics professor, said the combination would be detrimental to the program - "right as we're hitting our stride."

"It is not particularly helpful for us," Summers said. "This doesn't do anything to improve the quality of our program.

"This is something that good universities don't do. It's a permanent scar on the University - one that cannot easily be undone."

Summers said classics produced about 10 graduates this year (a number that, if sustained over a three-year period, would make classics a viable program according to ACHE), and the enrollment in the program is increasing because of new recruiting efforts.

The third-ever Latin Day, which will be held in March, is an attempt to attract more high school students to the classics program.

Summers said the classics program does not produce more graduates because it is given limited resources by the administration.

Summers compared UA to the University of Georgia, which has more faculty members than the University, and he said while the UGA classics program produces many more graduates, the graduation rate is at roughly the same rate per instructor as the UA classics program.

"It shows a different mentality," Summers said, "that classics is central to their liberal arts program."

Some classics students also dislike the combination. Some said the title of a degree in foreign languages is less desirable than one in classics.

Mariah deGruy, who graduated with a degree in classics and is now an English graduate student, said combining majors would "water down" classics.

"I am very proud of the fact that I was a classics major - it makes me attractive to certain employers," deGruy said. "Classics isn't the same thing as a foreign language major."

Classics graduates might not be the ones who will donate lots of money to the University after they graduate, Carney said, "but the most important thing is if it's enriching for the faculty and students."

"It comes down to a numbers game - a money thing," Carney said.

Both students said classics should be combined as a last resort to save the major from inactivation.

"You are still doing away with it in a sense, because it's not the same anymore," deGruy said.

A combination of classics, French and German would not require major changes to the curriculums of any of the programs.

"I wouldn't say that it is a change in name only," Picone said, "but the change to the curriculum is minimal." [more]

::Wednesday, February 16, 2005 5:05:33 AM::

~ Bronze Age Factory Complex

Hopefully we'll get some more details on this brief item from Kathimerini:

A huge factory complex dating back to the Bronze Age has been discovered near the village of Pirgos in Limassol, archaeologists in Cyprus said yesterday. The 4,000-square-meter complex comprises an olive-pressing factory, a metal works site and a perfume-producing plant, according to archaeologists.

::Wednesday, February 16, 2005 5:02:07 AM::

~ Colorizing Statues Redux


Spurting red blood and flowing black dreadlocks are just a few of the details revealed on ancient sculptures at a Web site devoted to virtual color restoration, a growing trend that has resulted in a recent Vatican Museum exhibit on colored statues, as well as actual restoration of the world's best-preserved painted sculpture.

Before these projects, most all Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Greek, Roman and other early sculptures only were seen in the monotone colors of the sculpture's primary material, such as clay or marble, even though many of the objects originally were covered with gilt and bright paints.
“ We're trying, in our modest way, to raise awareness of how colorful things were in ancient times.

Minute traces of paint have led art historians to believe that even one of the earliest known prehistoric sculptures, a 30,000-year-old Venus figurine of a well-endowed fertility goddess, once was fully painted in bright red to symbolize life.

For the Virtual Sculpture Gallery Web site, a Miami University project, researchers Eric Case, Judith de Luce and colleagues investigated historical information about ancient Roman and Greek sculptures.

They then carefully colored several sculptures using Adobe Photoshop on Macintosh computers, before photographing the images at varying degrees and importing them into a Quicktime video program to give a 360° view of the original sculpture.

The online gallery features 16 "before and after" sculptures. These include a circa 500 B.C. "Gorgon head" that, when colorized, appears to be a hysterical, medusa-type creature with snakes and bold rays of color shooting out of its head.

A sculpture of a Greek "wounded warrior" has spurting red blood restored to where a knife sticks out of the injured male's body. A 600 B.C. Kouros gains a dramatic makeover, complete with heavy eyeliner. A statue of Apollo received bright red lips and long, flowing dreadlocks.

Perhaps the most dramatic changes between an unpainted sculpture and its painted twin can be seen on a Roman bust of Antiochus III and on a headless status of Nike.

Without color, Antiochus appears rather staid and humble, as though he might be wearing overalls. The restored, colorized version indicates that he wore heavy gold armor and a gold headband, both suggestive of a strong, radiant leader.

Paint also reveals that the angelic Nike once likely wore a slinky, dark green, off-the-shoulder dress that would not be out of place in today's popular fashion magazines. [more ... includes some scary photos]

The Virtual Sculpture Gallery.

::Wednesday, February 16, 2005 5:00:19 AM::

~ Mummified Roman Found?

From the BBC comes this tantalizing tidbit:

Archaeologists working in York have discovered an ancient coffin containing a preserved body.

Workers made the find during development work and discovered the body had been mummified using a rare technique.

The body, possibly dating from Roman times, has been well so well preserved historians are hoping the facial features can still be seen.

The coffin is being taken to the York Museum Trust for examination on Tuesday

A spokesman explained the discovery of the mummification technique, known as the gypsum technique, is the first to be found during a modern dig.

"If we are very lucky the face may not have been covered so it is possible the actual features of the individual may have been preserved.

"It may be possible to actually look into the face of one of our ancestors," he said.

The coffin will be taken to a storage site and later rehoused at the Yorkshire Museum.

::Wednesday, February 16, 2005 4:56:43 AM::

~ JOB: Generalist @ UIUC (one year)

The Department of the Classics at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, invites applications for a one-year full-time position at the rank of Visiting Assistant Professor.  The successful candidate must be able to teach Latin and Greek languages at all levels as well as courses in classical civilization, including Classical Mythology and Roman Civilization.  Course load will be 3 courses per semester. Salary $42,000.  Candidates should have earned their Ph.D. by June 2005, and show evidence of excellence in teaching.

Please send cover letter, curriculum vitae and three recent letters of recommendation to Kirk Freudenburg, Chair, Department of the Classics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 4080 Foreign Languages Building, 707 South Mathews Avenue, Urbana, Illinois 61801-3676.  For full consideration materials must be received by April 1, 2005.  Reading of applications will begin immediately.

... seen on AegeaNet

::Wednesday, February 16, 2005 4:55:19 AM::

~ DIG: BostonU Field School

The Boston University Mediterranean Archaeological Field School at the site of Torre d'en Galmes on the Island of Menorca will take place. The program will consist of a six-week excavation campaign combined with lectures, work in the museum and laboratories, and study tours of the island's cultural and historical monuments. Students will enroll for two four-credit courses: AR 503 Archaeological Field Methods and AR 511 Studies in European Archaeology.

The island of Menorca, the easternmost of Spain's three Balearic Islands, is located nearly midway between Spain and Sardinia, and between France and North Africa. It has played an important role in the history of the western Mediterranean, from the time it was first inhabited (ca. 2500 B.C.), through the Punic and Roman periods (from the 4th century B.C. to the 4th century A.D.), the Palaeochristian and Arab periods (5th through 13th centuries A.D.), and into the modern historical periods.

The field school will be based in Mahón, an attractive port city that is the modern capital of Menorca. The site of Torre d'en Gaumes, located near Mahón, belongs to the indigenous Talayotic culture of Menorca. It has some of the characteristic constructions of the culture: three talayots (large circular towers) and a taula precinct (T-shaped megalithic building).

The Boston University Archaeological Field School on Menorca will work in collaboration with the Museum of Menorca. Boston University Field Participants will excavate a series of underground structures, which will supply crucial new information about the island's Talayotic history, especially from the early Iron Age through the Roman period.

Students will receive an intensive introduction to all aspects of field excavation techniques, from methods of discovery and recovery to documentation, including the creation of site plans and the use of the Harris Matrix for recording stratigraphy. In the museum laboratory, students will process excavated material and will be trained in the basic techniques of artifact recording and illustration.

For full details please visit the BU Study Abroad listing at

... seen on rome-arch

::Wednesday, February 16, 2005 4:53:02 AM::

~ AWOTV: On TV Today

7.00 p.m. |HINT| Secrets at Delphi
An exploration of the hallowed Greek ground at Delphi, where Zeus's two eagles crossed paths and the Oracle prophesied the fortunes of kings and countries.
11.00 p.m. |HINT| Aegean: Legacy of Atlantis
This episode of the Emmy Award-winning series explores ancient civilizations that spread through the Aegean Sea and searches for historical roots of some of Western civilization's oldest legends, including an examination of ruins on the Greek Island of Thera (modern-day Santorini) for the basis of the Atlantis legend. On Crete, the Greek mainland, and Turkey, we follow the trail of clues that leads from ancient myths to evidence of the Trojan War, Trojan Horse, Minoan civilization, and the Minotaur. Sam Waterston narrates. 

HINT = History International

::Wednesday, February 16, 2005 4:51:34 AM::

1. n. an abnormal state or condition resulting from the forced migration from a lengthy Classical education into a profoundly unClassical world; 2. n. a blog about Ancient Greece and Rome compiled by one so afflicted (v. "rogueclassicist"); 3. n. a Classics blog.

Publishing schedule:
Rogueclassicism is updated daily, usually before 7.00 a.m. (Eastern) during the week. Give me a couple of hours to work on my sleep deficit on weekends and holidays, but still expect the page to be updated by 10.00 a.m. at the latest.

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