The weekly version of our Ancient World on Television listings has been posted .... so has the mega-return-from-holidays-issue-of Explorator (8.12-14) ... Enjoy!
A piece on sharks and the like in the National Post mentions:

But this is nothing new. Every seaside civilization in human history has somehow incorporated the shark into its culture. Archaeologists in Italy have found depictions on pottery of attacks by giant fish as far back as 725 BC. Likewise, the ancient Greek historian Herodotus famously depicted a "marine monster" attacking sailors in 492 BC.

Not sure about the pottery depictions, but the passage from Herodotus apparently relates to the destruction of the Persian fleet near Mt. Athos (and seems to be a misreading):

This was the stated end of their expedition, but they intended to subdue as many of the Greek cities as they could. Their fleet subdued the Thasians, who did not so much as lift up their hands against it; their land army added the Macedonians to the slaves that they had already, for all the nations nearer to them than Macedonia had been made subject to the Persians before this. [2] Crossing over from Thasos they travelled near the land as far as Acanthus, and putting out from there they tried to round Athos. But a great and irresistible north wind fell upon them as they sailed past and dealt very roughly with them, driving many of their ships upon Athos. [3] It is said that about three hundred ships were lost, and more than twenty thousand men. Since the coasts of Athos abound in wild beasts, some men were carried off by beasts and so perished; others were dashed against the rocks; those who could not swim perished because of that, and still others by the cold.

(via the Perseus Project ... here's the Greek)
The Guardian has an 'ask the astrologer' type column in which I found this exchange:

Q Is it possible to have a 'Saturn Return' outside of the 28- to 30-year cycle? Are there any positive connotations to Saturn? I am accustomed to thinking of it as an influence to fear.

A You aren't alone in fearing Saturn, but no planet is all bad, and when you're under saturnine skies you can and should undertake something big which demands patience, exactitude and strength of will. Saturn 'returns' (ie completes an orbit round the Sun) at ages 28-30, 58-60, 88-90, but the quarter and half points of the cycle - ages 7, 14-15, 21, etc - often show up as challenging and transitional times in people's lives.

I wonder if there's a connection between this and the concept of an annus climacterius, which the Romans believed happened at these very same ages (i.e. the 'quarter and half points of the cycle') ....
Colin Austin and S. Douglas Olson (edd.), Aristophanes: Thesmophoriazusae

T. P. Wiseman, The Myths of Rome

Robert Garland, Surviving Greek Tragedy
This has already appeared on several lists and blogs, but I had promised to delay until Sunday, which is historically the big day for rogueclassicism reading:

Would you be able to help me get the word out to classicists and lovers
of Latin about a project we're starting?

My organization has received permission from Oxford University Press to
gauge interest in the production of the Oxford Latin Dictionary on
CD-ROM. If we receive enough interest in the project, we will be able to
commence digitization of this resource.

If you'd like to pass on this news to your blog readers, you can get
additional details here:

And feel free to get in touch with me directly with any questions you
may have.

Daniel Foster, Press Relations
Logos Bible Software
(360) 685-2314 |

P. S. - We really need your help to let classicists know about this
project or I'm afraid it will never get done. Here's why…

This would be the very first electronic edition of OLD, so we'll be
working from the print edition: keyboarding, proofing, tagging, etc.
It's all very expensive. If we get enough pre-orders to cover the costs
of digitizing this massive dictionary, we'll do it. If not, it simply
won't get done.

Your readers can help get the project done by placing a pre-order. They
will not be charged if the project is cancelled, and they will not be
charged until it's completed. What's more, the current prepublication
price ($149.95) is the very best price that they will see for this
resource. It's about 50% of the list price for print, and it will
definitely go up. The earlier they get in, the better the price. We
always give the best discount to those who pre-order right away and thus
help us get the project done.

So if you can do your readers a favor by letting them know about this
project, it would help us and the whole classics community.
Seems Thucydides is being cited more and more in various contexts ... ecce this excerpt from an editorial in Gamla:

In Pericles'Funeral Speech, as recorded by Thucydides,Athens' wartime leader commented: "What I fear more than the strategies of our enemies is our own mistakes." Understood in terms of our stubborn march to repeated misfortune in America, in Europe and in Israel, Pericles' wisdom points to the mistake of underestimating one's own national vulnerabilities. For England, for America, for Israel, the only true refuge now lies in a sober awareness that we face a distinctly common enemy and that we should not capitulate to this enemy on one front while combating him on another.
The incipit of a piece in the Guardian about the trials and tribulations of a househubby:

With her usual exquisite timing, my wife waits until I'm having a quick lie-down on the landing floor before suddenly descending (or I suppose ascending) upon the scene of my homely Saturday morning drudgery, where only moments earlier she might have found me performing vigorous thrusts with a toilet brush or removing unsightly hairs from the plughole trap.

'Keeping busy?' she asks. I tell her I might have just tweaked something, but then wasn't it the Greeks (and here Plato and Diogenes etc part company with the Readers' Digest school of philosophy) who suggested that a frown only uses up more muscles than a smile if you're busy cleaning a bathroom at the same time?

In fact, as I continue rather too cheerfully (against the grain of my wife's own frown), why else would they name one of their leading epic heroes after a popular household scouring agent? Wasn't it Ajax who went mad and ran on to his own sword rather than spend the rest of his life suffering from lower-back pain aggravated by reaching into those difficult yellowy areas to the rear of the lavatorial pedestal where male children of the family to this day direct their urinary emissions?

My wife gazes down at me. 'Don't forget the door,' she says, by which she means the ridiculous drawbridge-style cupboard under our washbasin, which has taken to suddenly crashing down when it senses bare feet in the room.

... more
An excerpt from a lesson in the Jewish Journal:

Whenever I read this week's Torah portion, I think about that blessing from the Methodist minister because the portion also contains blessings from a non-Jew, Balaam, worthy of our consideration. The sages of the Midrash link the name of Balaam with a contemporary heathen philosopher of their time, Oenomaus of Gadera, claiming that Balaam and Oenomaus were the two greatest philosophers that the non-Jews ever had.

Oenomaus was a member of the younger school of Cynics who lived in the second century CE during the latter part of the reign of Hadrian, after the Bar Kochba War. He is mentioned in classical Roman literature as having successfully attacked pagan superstition, and he is identified in rabbinic literature with befriending the great Rabbi Meir. As a result of his close relationship with Rabbi Meir, he became familiar with Judaism, and the Midrash (Eicha Petihtah 2) records that the Romans therefore turned to him, just as Balak turned to Balaam in the Torah, and asked for advice on how to defeat the Jewish people.

We must appreciate that this request was presented to Oenomaus not only after the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, but also after the Bar Kochba revolt in 132-135 CE. The Jewish nation was beaten and almost destroyed, yet the Romans wanted to know the secret of our amazing survival.

Oenomaus answered, "Go through their synagogues; if you hear a hum of children's voices studying Torah, you cannot prevail over them; otherwise you can."

Alluding to Isaac's blessing of Jacob instead of Esau as recorded in the Book of Genesis, Oenomaus commented: "As long as the voice of Jacob persists in synagogues and houses of study, the hands are not Esau's hands; but whenever synagogues and houses of study miss the hum of those voices, Esau will prevail. The hands become Esau's hands."

The rabbis of the Talmud and Midrash realized that Oenomaus had discovered the secret of Jewish survival. They therefore accorded him the distinction of being the greatest philosopher the non-Jewish world had produced. With Balaam, he had probed and revealed the truth about our faith.
7.00 p.m. |SCI| Gallo-Roman Secrets Scientists are attempting to uncover how the Romans built roads, bridges and aqueducts two thousand years. Through cutting-edge computer graphics, discover the most mythical stadium of Antiquity -the Circus Maximus.

8.00 p.m. |DTC| True Gladiators Just outside the city walls of ancient Ephesus, the remains of the largest gladiator graveyard ever discovered have been excavated. This find gives new insight into the Roman Empire's bloody sport. Find out how gladiators lived, trained, fought and died.

9.00 p.m. |DTC| Lost City of Pompeii: Secrets of the Dead Journey to the playground of the Roman aristocracy, Herculaneum. Buried by the same volcanic eruption that leveled Pompeii, this city of luxurious villas, magnificent arcades and extensive library collections holds clues to the Roman's riches.

SCI = Science Channel

DTC = Discovery Times
This is the post I've been semi-dreading because, of course, the second you go away somewhere, lots of interesting stuff seems to happen. I didn't get to follow the blogs as much as I would have liked because I was on dialup (and I've got Firefox set up to open all the blogs I follow in separate tabs all at the same time -- obviously that doesn't work well on dialup), although I do give a tip of the had to Glaukopis and Curculio for trying to 'fill the void' (and Laudator for bemoaning my absence). In any event, hopefully you've already seen most of these which have caught my eye over the past couple of days ... in no particular order:

First of all, however, The Stoa appears to have been hacked by some script kiddies ... time to update wordpress ... [note in passing ... Michael Shanks might be in the process of being hacked too]

Bane's Demesne had a cute post about a less-than-enthusiastic Latin student ...

Campus Mawrtius has recently resurrected from its post-second-term hiatus (if that's the right word) with a semi-flurry of posts.

Over at Sauvage Noble, AM has been blogging the Linguistics Society of America's meeting (note in passing, we need more meetings blogged!!!!)

PH at Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean has put up a couple of useful epigraphical posts, one on the inscriptions of Pergamum online and now on the inscriptions of Aphrodisias.

NS Gill over at has consistently blogged about a pile of things, too numerous to mention here but worth checking out ...

MH over at Laudator similarly had a pile of good posts, but these in particular caught my jaded eye ... Plautus and Wodehouse ... Latin in Buffy and Angel
.... Acrostics... Rousseau and Latin

The Digital Classicist alerts us to the Eton Greek Software Project

Atriades paid a visit to the county museum in Taunton and took a pile of photos of the Low Ham Mosaic (and other things) which are definitely worth looking at ...

Pompilios has posted the first three chapters (in Spanish) of his book on the theory that Greek architecture is nautically-derived ... (alas, my Spanish is not sufficient to handle this)

Hobbyblog, of course, continues to impress with the sheer volume of his collection ...

... and dare I mention that Ginny Lindzey has started up a Live Journal thing called the Latin Zone, documenting her preparations for the upcoming school year?

Related to this (I still have a few more blogs to cover ... my bookmarks need some cleaning up), I note that the Cranky Professor will be doing an Ancient/Medieval Carnival of blog posts (someone sent me or a list notice of this but I deleted it ... I think it was mentioned by Alun somewhere) ... essentially you nominate your favourite blog posts (note, not blogs ... rc doesn't really qualify, I don't think, for the Carnival format) ... details can be found (among other places) at Early Modern Notes ...

Possibly more updates throughout the day today, but probably not.
While I was away watching the bulls get the better of some cowboys, the APA put out its June Newsletter and election insert. I note that in that newsletter, Amphora is looking for an assistant editor ... something I wouldn't mind doing, given my rants in the past about Amphora (especially in regards to layout), but I'm not a member of the APA so I probably don't qualify. Heck, they didn't even give me a second glance when they were looking for a webmaster lo those many years ago.

In any event, they also have put up the abstracts for the forthcoming issue of TAPA ... Leah Kronenberg's paper looks interesting:

Mezentius the Epicurean

This paper argues that Mezentius, the contemptor divum (“scorner of the gods”) in Virgil’s Aeneid , can be read as an allegorical Epicurean. His Epicurean element helps to explain his dramatic transformation from a symbol of impietas to one of pietas in Books 7–10, as well as pius Aeneas ’ reverse transformation into an impious Giant-figure. These transformations parallel the inversion of the traditional meanings of pietas and impietas in Lucretius and other Epicurean writers; in addition, the Giant-like Mezentius evokes the subversive Gigantomachy of Lucretius, which celebrates the archetypal scorners of the gods as positive symbols of Epicureanism. The “redeemed” Mezentius allows for an Epicurean reading of the Aeneid , in which impietas is redefined as true piety.
I've debated whether to bother including this here, but now that I've caught up with past items, it's wandered into the 'why not' category. We begin with a piece Arianna Huffington wrote a week or so ago ... here's the incipit as presented in the Arizona Daily Star:

My summer vacation has taken me to Sicily, and on my way over to Palermo, I decided to brush up on my Sicilian history. That meant delving into Thucydides and his epic chronicle of the disastrous Sicilian Expedition.

Of course, I had been forced to read all that as a Greek schoolgirl. But oh, what a difference the passage of many, many years and one Iraq war have made in my reading of the great Athenian soldier-historian!

The parallels between his rendering of the Sicilian Expedition - a case study in imperial power gone awry - and our current situation in Iraq are inescapable and chilling … and Santayana's old saw about those unable to remember the past being condemned to repeat it kept leaping to mind.

Or as Thucydides himself put it back in the day: "It will be enough for me, however, if these words of mine are judged useful by those who want to understand clearly the events which happened in the past and which (human nature being what it is) will, at some time or another and in much the same ways, be repeated in the future." Boy, are they ever.

For those of you who slept through Ancient History 101, here's a quick refresher, courtesy of Wikipedia: "The Sicilian Expedition was an Athenian trek to Sicily from 415 B.C. to 413 B.C., during the Peloponnesian War. It was an unmitigated disaster for the Athenian forces. As Thucydides recounts wryly in his 'History of the Peloponnesian War,' the generals leading the campaign had scant knowledge of Sicily, or of its population, and thus the forces marshaled for its conquering were woefully inadequate."

Sound familiar? But that's just the tip of the hubris iceberg when it comes to ancient analogies to the modern mistakes being made in Iraq.

For starters, the Athenian warmongers, led by Alcibiades, were convinced that conquering Sicily would be a cakewalk, leading to easy control of its grain and trade routes - and would serve as a great warning to other enemies of Athens. Those on the other side, led by Nicias, argued that the resources needed to conquer Sicily would be much greater than the hawks were advertising (perhaps Nicias was an ancient relative of Gen. Shinseki).

Nicias also correctly predicted that the ancient equivalent of the coalition of the willing wouldn't be all that willing (or, rather, about as willing as they were almost 25 centuries later).

The invasion of Sicily was part of a larger war - against Sparta - which was the first great "clash of civilizations," and it, too, was sold as a war of liberation. But instead of rolling over, the invasion drew the previously divided and ethnically diverse Sicilians together and attracted anti-Athenian forces from throughout the region.

In the end, Athens' ill-fated invasion of Sicily helped bring about the end of the Athenian empire, proving historian Arnold J. Toynbee's dictum: "An autopsy of history would show that all great nations commit suicide."

... it goes on, of course.

There is much wrong (I think) with Huffington's analogy (especially as it continues), but Victor Davis Hanson cuts to the quick in an aside in his most recent column ... here's the salient bit from the Mercury News version:

On July 21, Arianna Huffington, on her Huffington Post blog, drew on her Greek heritage to warn us that Iraq is like the Athenians' 415 BC disastrous attack on the Sicilian city of Syracuse. So, she huffs, ``Maybe someone should send Karl Rove a copy of Thucydides.''

She should, instead, carefully reread her own copy of the historian's work. The Athenians attacked a democracy larger than their own. Yet Thucydides implies that Athens still could have taken Syracuse had its generals and the people back home not bickered among themselves. Perhaps if the United States attacked India and lost, Huffington's analogy might make sense.
James O'Donnell, Augustine: A New Biography (reviewed by G. Bowersock)
Curious item on Ancien-l yesterday ... it appears that the creator of the Ancient History Source Book has gotten into hot water over some questionable activities and has been suspended from his job at the University of North Florida. Without getting into questions of guilt or innocence, it does appear that Dr. Halsall will be needing some financial support and it would probably be appropriate for folks who have made use of the the Ancient History Sourcebook to help out in some way.
Very interesting piece over at The American Thinker today ... here's the incipit:

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) claims for its journal Science

“the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of one million.”

Thus when it publishes a politically correct history of the relationship between science and Islam, as filled with errors as a garbage can left too long in the sun is filled with maggots, its falsehoods enter credulous and influential minds on every continent, including Antarctica.

“Science in the Arab World: Vision of Glories Beyond” by Wasim Maziak in the June 3, 2005, issue of Science, cites as its sole source for Islamic history “the historian James Burke.” Burke has written that the invention of lens-grinding lathes led to hairdressing, that Mozart's Marriage of Figaro brought about the development of the stealth fighter jet, and that the Boston Tea Party caused the invention of contact lenses. One can easily and quickly verify that Mr. Burke is no historian, but a television star, by pulling up information about him on, where even his admirers admit to his "snarkiness."

Rather than refuting all of the snarky errors in this snarky history, I will focus on a single snarky paragraph:

Of equal importance to the Arab-Islamic scientific discoveries on the European Renaissance was the reintroduction of ancient Greece’s natural philosophy by way of translations by Islamic scholars. The historian James Burke identifies several knowledge shocks that ignited the Renaissance. One was delivered by Ibn-Sina (Avicenna, 980 to 1037), whose Kitab Al-Shifa (“The Book of Healing”) introduced medieval Europe to the principles of logic and their use to gain knowledge and understanding of the universe. Another major shock was delivered by Ibn-Rushd (Averroes, 1126 to 1198), whose writings and commentaries reintroduced to medieval Europe the Aristotelian approach to studying nature by observation and reasoning.

The “Islamic scholars” who translated “ancient Greece’s natural philosophy” were a curious group of Muslims, since all or almost all of the translators from Greek to Arabic were Christians or Jews, as were the translators from Arabic to Latin. Consider the astonishing statement of Bernard Lewis in The Muslim Discovery of Europe:

We know of no Muslim scholar or man of letters before the eighteenth century who sought to learn a western language, still less of any attempt to produce grammars, dictionaries, or other language tools. Translations are few and far between. Those that are known are works chosen for practical purposes [philosophy being considered a practical discipline] and the translations are made by converts [who knew western languages before conversion] or non-Muslims.

... more.
From the BBC:

Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of a Roman lead smelting site in a peat bog in Ceredigion.

Dating back about 2,000 years, Cambria Archaeology said mines in the Borth area could have supplied the heavy, bluish-grey metal for production.

It added that blocks of Welsh lead may have even been transported to other parts of the Roman Empire.

Last year, archaeologists hinted they had found a Roman "industrial estate", but until now had little evidence.

In June last year, Cambria Archaeology, from Llandeilo, unearthed a medieval track on the edge of Cors Fochno (Borth Bog) in Llancynfelyn, near Borth.

It described it as the best preserved example of its type in Wales.

Carbon dating carried out on fragments of wood from the site dated back to 900 or 1020AD.

But further probing by archaeologists uncovered evidence of lead smelting underneath the track.

They returned to the site at the end of May with students from the University of Birmingham, who helped last year, and specialists from Lampeter University.

Now, after analysing data, archaeologists are confident they have stumbled across something significant.

"In Wales, this is of national significance. To find two key sites on top of each other is rare", said project leader Nigel Page.

"We've found a furnace and lead smelting base and although we have to do further scientific dating, we think it probably dates back about 2,000 years.

"As it is today, lead was an important commodity in Roman times and it's possible blocks or ingots were stamped with the legion identification and sent to other parts of the empire".

Mr Page said lead mines dotted throughout the area could hold further evidence of a Roman lead industry.

"There a number of lead mines in the area and it's possible these date back to Roman times and supplied lead for production," Mr Page added.

The smelting site has now been backfilled, although photographs have been taken of the find.
Amazingly this story quickly made it into the English press (cf yesterday's posts) ... an AP story via the Chicago Tribune:

A sewer might be no place for an emperor, but it is precisely from an ancient drainage system that archaeologists have dug-up a large marble sculpture of Constantine, one of Rome's greatest leaders.

Archaeologists found the 24-inch-tall head last week while clearing up a sewer in the Roman Forum, the center of public life in the ancient city, said Eugenio La Rocca, superintendent for Rome's monuments.

"We can't be sure of why it was put there," La Rocca said Thursday at a news conference during which authorities showed the bust to the media.

One possibility is that the sculpture of the man who reunited the Roman Empire in the early fourth century and ended years of persecutions against Christians was unceremoniously used later to clear a blocked sewer, he said.

La Rocca called the statue a rare find, saying that its insertion in the sewer probably saved it from the plundering the Forum suffered after the fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century.

"Many portraits have been found in Rome, but these days it's not easy to find one, especially of this size and so well preserved," he said.

Experts confirmed that the sculpture portrays Constantine by comparing it to coins and two other giant heads of the emperor that are kept in Rome's Capitoline Museums, La Rocca said. The Carrara marble head probably belonged to a statue of the emperor in full armor, and was erected in the part of the Forum built by the emperor Trajan after Constantine conquered Rome from a rival in A.D. 312.

The style and stern features used in all of Constantine's portraits also recall the traits of Trajan, who expanded the empire to its maximum size in the early second century.

"Trajan was the greatest emperor and Constantine considered him a model," La Rocca said

During his reign, which lasted from 306 to 337, Constantine tried to stop the fracturing of the empire and sought to restore it to its ancient glory. Although not a Christian himself, he ended the frequent waves of anti-Christian persecutions by proclaiming religious freedom throughout his lands. He also moved the empire's capital to Constantinople -- today's Istanbul -- closer to the Eastern borders threatened by the barbarian invasions.

La Rocca said that restorers will now take charge of the work, which will probably be put on display next year in a museum being built in the Roman Forum.

There's a pile of photos available via Yahoo ...
Interesting editorial over at Red State suggesting drawing inspiration from Gladiator's Maximus when it comes to supporting John Roberts' U.S. Supreme Court nomination ...
First we have a gladiator being beaten up (see below) ... now a Roman soldier is robbed of his sword! What's the world coming to ... from the Evening Telegraph:

THIEVES took advantage of an open display at a museum to steal some of the equipment put on show for people to touch.
Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery, in Priestgate, central Peterborough, had the items on display as part of its Call to Arms exhibition, an event designed to explore Peterborough's military history.

Thieves have now ruined the display by stealing a sword and a tin helmet that was part of the exhibition.

Stuart Orme, spokesman for the museum, said: "We have had a couple of items stolen from our exhibition. We have replica items which people can handle and these have obviously been taken.

"It is difficult to monitor people all the time during the exhibition but we believe it happened some time on Sunday afternoon.

"It is very frustrating because we put a lot of work into preparing displays. A few people are just spoiling it for the vast majority and it deprives some people of experiencing what is on display.
"We are now looking to replace the stolen equipment."

The first item taken was a replica tin helmet similar to the ones soldiers wore during the First World War, and the second item was a sword. Both exhibits were part of the body armour on a manikin, similar to those worn by soldiers in Roman times.

Staff at the museum say the objects were taken from the front hallway, and that CCTV footage from the museum has now been passed to police in a bid to catch the rogues.

A Cambridgeshire police spokesman said: "As the stolen objects are unusual, police are requesting that anyone who knows the whereabouts of these objects to contact the police or museum with any information."

The exhibition means members of the public can come face to face with Roman soldiers, Viking warriors and experience First World War trenches. There are also interactive displays and costumes to try on.

A roundup of sorts of news about Atlantis over the past couple of weeks ... we begin with the incipit of a piece in Nature:

"There occurred violent earthquakes and floods. And in a single day and night of misfortune... the island of Atlantis disappeared in the depths of the sea."

This account, written by Plato more than 2,300 years ago, set scientists on the trail of the lost city of Atlantis. Did it ever exist? And if so, where was it located, and when did it disappear?

In a recent paper in Geology, Marc-Andre Gutscher of the European Institute for Marine Studies in Plouzané gives details of one candidate for the lost city: the submerged island of Spartel, west of the Straits of Gibraltar.

The top of this isle lies some 60 metres beneath the surface in the Gulf of Cadiz, having plunged beneath the waves at the end of the most recent ice age as melting glaciers caused the sea level to rise.

Geological evidence has shown that a large earthquake and a tsunami hit this island some 12,000 years ago, at roughly the location and time indicated in Plato's writings.

Gutscher has surveyed this island in detail, using sound waves reflected off the sea floor to map its contours1. His results bring mixed news to Atlantis hunters.

... more. The article definitely has to be read in conjunction with Kris Hirst's (About's Archaeology Guide) cogent comments and Gutscher's response therein.

Elsewhere, the World Peace Herald has a bit on that Atlantis Conference:

Researchers are no closer to finding the location of the lost city of Atlantis, saying they are confused by Plato's account of its disappearance.

Plato, more than 2,300 years ago, wrote Atlantis disappeared into the ocean in just one day after violent earthquakes and floods.

During a conference of Atlantis researchers held earlier this month in Malta, Marc-Andre Gutscher of the European Institute for Marine Studies, noted Egyptians who told Plato the Atlantis story may have used a different definition of "years," meaning the destruction of Atlantis occurred more recently than thought.

The conference reached no firm conclusions. But researchers did agree on 24 criteria a geographical area must satisfy to qualify as a site where Atlantis could have existed.

The criteria include the existence of: hot springs, northerly winds, elephants, enough people for an army of 10,000 chariots and a ritual of bull sacrifice.

Geologist Floyd McCoy of the University of Hawaii-Kaneohe said most of Plato's description of Atlantis is ambiguous and open to interpretation, Nature reported.

McCoy told the conference, "With the information we have from the ancient text, it may never be found -- if indeed it ever existed."

And, alas, the poorly-translated press releases continue ... here's just the incipit:

The expedition is directed by specialist the investigating outstanding and in languages and writings of the antiquity, Spanish-Cuban Georgeos Diaz-Montexano(1), President Founded Emeritus of the rising "Scientific Atlantology International Society" (S.A.I.S.), and creator of the Proto-genesis project. Between his objectives it is the confirmation of revealers and enigmatic data found in several texts of the antiquity.

The old authors and the Atlantis

The Spanish-Cuban investigator and scriptologist Georgeos Diaz-Montexano has made very revealing discoveries that they allow to guarantee his thesis on the possible existence of an historical substrate in the story of Plato on the Island or Atlantis Peninsula or Atlantis, the one that would be according to Georgeos Diaz, in some point between the Straits of Gibraltar, the Gulf of Cádiz, the coasts of Morocco, and the Madeira Islands like possible more remote point. In their intellectual effort for to decipher definitively the enigma of the Atlantic civilization that Plato denominated with that same name, Diaz-Montexano has been able to find several references of other authors classic, previous to Plato, who give to faith of the existence of an island or peninsula that like the Atlantis Island was located just in front of the Straits of Gibraltar between Gadira or Gades, the present Cádiz, and the Atlas or coasts of Morocco.
... more
The brevity of this one from Rompres is somewhat tantalizing/annoying:

A team of French and Romanian archaeologists made an exceptional discovery at Rosia Montana (central-western Romania). It is a wooden ancient Roman hydraulic device for pumping out water from underground mines, dating back to the 2nd century A.D. that was presented in a conference at the Bucharest-based National History Museum, on Tuesday.

No more ... no photo ...
An AP piece via the Hindustan Times (much better than the version in the Scotsman):

Archaeologists excavating along the ancient Via Egnatia are revealing the secrets of the ancient Romans' equivalent of an Interstate highway.

Stretching 861 kilometers (535 miles) across modern-day Albania, Macedonia and Greece, the stone-paved road made the going easy for charioteers, soldiers and other travelers. It was up to 30 feet wide (9 meters) in places and was dotted with safety features, inns and service stations.

"This was a busy road, and the Romans managed to make it completely functional," archaeologist Polyxeni Tsatsopoulou told The Associated Press.

Built between 146 and 120 B.C. under the supervision of the top Roman official in Macedonia, proconsul Gaius Egnatius, the highway ran from the Adriatic coast in what is now Albania to modern Turkey, giving Rome quick access to the eastern provinces of its empire.

Ancient engineers did such a good job that the Via Egnatia remained in use for some 2,000 years, sticking to its original course even as its paving slabs were plundered for building material. But over the last century, what's visible of it has dwindled to less than three kilometers (two miles) in total.

Now it is being reincarnated as the Egnatia highway spanning northern Greece and set for completion in 2008. This 680-kilometer (425-mile) highway costing euro6.5 billion (US$7.9 billion) runs more or less parallel to the Roman road and crosses it several times. An excavation near the town of Komotini, some 270 kilometers (168 miles) east of Thessaloniki, revealed the Romans' sophisticated road-building techniques.

A central partition of large stones protected charioteers from oncoming vehicles, with similar barriers on the verges. "This prevented chariots, wagons and carts from skidding off the road," Tsatsopoulou said.

She said drivers held the reins with their right hand and wielded their whip with the left, so the Romans made drivers stay on the left to avoid the lash of oncoming riders and keep road-rage incidents to a minimum.

There were inns every 50 to 64 kilometres (30 to 40 miles), and post stations, the Roman equivalent of gas stations, every 11 to 23 kilometres (7 to 14 miles). "These post stations had spare beasts, as well as ... vets, grooms and shoesmiths," Tsatsopoulou said. Archaeologists also discovered ruins of military outposts, checkpoints and camps, with guard posts built near narrow passes to curb highway robbery.

Culture Ministry officials are hoping to turn the surviving highway remains into an archaeological walk for tourists, Tsatsopoulou said.

The Romans conquered Greece in 146 B.C., although Macedonia had come under Rome's control 20 years earlier. In A.D. 330, the empire's capital was moved to Constantinople, which marked the beginning of the Byzantine period in Greece.
From Ansa comes this brief item on the discovery of a fourth-century pair pf Roman mosaics:

Due mosaici risalenti al quarto secolo d.C. sono stati scoperti ad Aquileia all'interno di uno scavo condotto da alcuni archeologi. A renderlo noto e' un comunicato dell'Universita' di Trieste, per cui gli archeologi lavoravano. Il primo, in bianco e nero, e' di tipo geometrico, mentre il secondo, policromo e di estrema raffinatezza, raffigura ghirlande che racchiudono putti danzanti. I mosaici facevano parte probabilmente di una domus di proprieta' di un funzionario imperiale romano.

... no photo, alas; hopefully this will make it to the English version of Ansa with a few more detail.
An AP piece via CP via CJAD:

Italian police have recovered some 3,000 ancient Roman artifacts including coins and jewelry that were dug up and were about to be sold on the black market, officials said Tuesday.

The artifacts, which span centuries of Roman history, were seized in a series of raids last month in Verona, said Capt. Corrado Catesi of a regional police unit for the protection of Italy's cultural heritage.

News of the finds was not released until Tuesday because the investigation in the northeastern Italian city was still underway, Catesi said.

Investigators believe the artifacts were found during clandestine archeological digs in various locations in Italy and Bulgaria.

No one was arrested in the raids, but Verona prosecutor Maria Beatrice Zanotti was investigating five people - an Italian and four Bulgarians - suspected of trafficking in stolen goods, Catesi said.

The five were not necessarily connected, but were all trying to sell the items to private collectors on the illegal antiquities market, he said.

Catesi said the artifacts would probably end up in public museums after archeologists have examined and authenticated them.
The BBC has a major feature on Stanford's Forma Urbis Romae project:

For more than 500 years scholars have been wrestling with an ancient Roman puzzle that would test even the most cunning of quiz-masters.

How do you put together a giant stone jigsaw when 80% of the pieces are missing and you have even lost the lid?

Now with a joint Italian-US team on the case using a hi-tech approach the answer might finally be within reach.

The Forma Urbis, or Severan Marble Plan, is a giant map of the city of Rome constructed around AD200 by the Emperor Septimus Severus.

It was fixed onto the wall of the Templum Pacis (Temple of Peace) in the heart of the city - a massive display symbolising both the greatness of the city, and the emperor's power to know its every nook and cranny.

But with the decline of the empire from the 4th Century, the vast marble map - measuring 18m by 13m (59 feet by 43 feet) and intricately carved onto 250 separate slabs - was prised off the wall.

The building stones were stolen, crushed into cement or merely slid down off the wall to lie buried in the gardens below for the next 1,000 years.

Historical challenge

The rediscovery of some of the pieces during the Renaissance ignited an interest in reconstructing the map that has bewitched scholars ever since.

Now scientists at America's Stanford University have joined Italian archaeologists in the capital's Museum of Roman Civilisation with a multi-disciplinary and hi-tech approach to solving the ancient riddle.

The Stanford team has digitally scanned all 1,186 surviving pieces of the Plan and constructed a range of computer programmes which use algorithms to try to fit the pieces together.

Helping them in their detective work are a set of clues embedded within the pieces - the shape of the broken edges, the colour and veining of the marble, the carvings of the map itself and also a series of holes on the reverse of the pieces, where the slabs were fixed to the wall by evenly-spaced metal pins.

It is an intriguing cocktail of three-dimensional clues - but the rewards are equally intoxicating.

"We used all the clues to no success for the first two-three years, then we started to get the first computer matches," says Stanford's Professor Marc Levoy. "But when we verified them in Rome it was just amazing to physically touch the real pieces."

Hi-tech success

In the past year, the project has found as many matches as scholars have found in the past 20 years.

And in the last few weeks they have completed 3-D models for all the existing fragments: a monumental achievement and a major leap forward to reconstructing the forgotten landscape of ancient Rome.

Rich and poor, traders and bureaucrats, slaves and the free often lived cheek-by-jowl in the most multicultural and vibrant city of its age.

Its reconstruction after almost 2,000 years is a possibility that excites Professor Andrew Wallis Hadrill, director of the British School in Rome.

"Rome has always been a very cosmopolitan place and you can see this in the detail of the Forma Urbis: there's simply nowhere else like it.

"It was the first duty of the emperor to know who was in his city, where they lived, how on earth to feed them to keep them from rioting. So this map is a symbolical statement in both size and magnificence. It says: we know you in detail, we know every street, every doorway. What a wonderful way to display knowledge! It's saying, 'This is our city - look at it! Wow!'"

The map is also invaluable for revealing the hidden side of Rome which never stood the test of time - the commonplace houses and shops where ordinary Romans lived their lives.

Although frustratingly it only gives details of the ground floors for a city that would have had the New York skyline of its day, it is still the most important topographical work to have survived to modern times.

Now the veil is being drawn back from the real story of Rome - a buzzing, noisy, often smelly and crowded but living city, beautifully captured in stone.

You can still listen to the BBC Radio documentary Rebuilding Rome for the next couple of days ...
Wow ... Ansa is just spewing out the Roman stuff of late:

Roman soldiers who disappeared after a famous defeat founded a city in eastern China, archaeologists say .

The phantom legion was part of the defeated forces of Marcus Licinius Crassus, according to the current edition of the Italian magazine Archeologia Viva .

The famously wealthy Crassus needed glory to rival the exploits of the two men with whom he ruled Rome as the First Triumvirate, Pompey the Great and Julius Caesar .

Crassus decided to bring down the Parthian Empire - a fatal choice .

His forces were routed in 53 BC outside the Mesopotamian city of Carre - today's Harran - and he was beheaded .

According to the Roman historian Pliny, the Romans who survived were taken to a prison camp in what is now northern Afghanistan .

When Rome and Parthia sued for peace in 20 BC - 33 years after Crassus's last battle - all trace of the prisoners had disappeared .

The survivors of Crassus's legion became a mystery, walking ghosts in Roman legends. A Chinese historian in the Han Empire, China's second dynasty, provided an answer to the riddle in the early 3rd century AD .

The historian, Bau Gau, wrote that a Chinese war leader defeated a group of soldiers drawn up in typical Roman formation .

Crassus's old troops must now have been in their fifties and sixties .

Bau Gau said the foreigners were moved to China to defend the strategically important eastern region of Gansu, near today's city of Yongchang .

This is where the survivors founded the city of Liquian, the only site in China where the mark of Ancient Rome can be seen. 'Liquian' is said to mean 'Roman' .

The city has been virtually unknown outside China although hundreds of people visit it each year, admiring traces of defensive wallworks and pieces of broken pottery .

The number of visitors is certain to rise. Crassus, celebrated as the richest Roman of them all in pre-Imperial days, was never satisfied with his wealth and had an undying lust for glory .

Eighteen years before his doomed expedition to Parthia he put down a slave revolt led by the Thracian slave Spartacus. In Stanley Kubrick's epic film he was played by Laurence Olivier .

There's a nice page over at UNRV on the background to this (continue on to page called Battle of Carrhae).
A bit of info from the LA Times (via the Wichita Eagle) on what to expect when the DVD version of Alexander hits your local video store next week:

Director Oliver Stone's swords-and-sandals epic "Alexander" landed with a thud last year. Aside from the scathing reviews, it cost a reported $160 million to make and took in a mere $34 million on the domestic front.

Now Stone's got a chance at redemption.

"Alexander: Director's Cut," is due out Aug. 2 on DVD, along with a DVD of the theatrical version. The filmmaker spent months poring over the film -- re-editing, re-cutting and re-instating footage, in short, re-examining his sprawling take on the story of Alexander the Great, starring Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie, Val Kilmer and Anthony Hopkins.

"I'm not running away from the original, which I loved, but the derision was really devastating," the three-time Oscar winner said as he sipped water in his Santa Monica office. "Fortunately, films are now like paintings, permitting for several drafts."

Preparing the DVD was a time of soul-searching for the director, who was forced to reflect on what went wrong the first time around. Shot on three continents in 94 days, the narrative was confusing at times and the pacing problematic, Stone said. It was a weak third act that required the most rejiggering. The fixes may not add clarity, he added, but are emotionally more satisfying.

"Directors don't get paid for working on DVDs -- for us, it's a matter of pride," he said.

Although Warner Bros. is trumpeting the director's cut as a "bold, new film," Stone isn't expecting miracles. The studio is striking a 35-millimeter print for a screening and a Q&A with the director the night of the DVD release as part of the "Hollywood's Master Storytellers" series at the ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood.

Plans for a limited theatrical release were scrapped, Stone said. "Why go through that again?"

While it's too soon to say what the public reception will be for "Alexander," today's DVD market often offers filmmakers one last shot.

Take David Fincher's "Fight Club," which was deemed excessively violent in the wake of the Columbine shootings. On DVD, it became Entertainment Weekly's pick of the year. And Sergio Leone's epic "Once Upon a Time in America," which had 90 minutes slashed for its 1984 U.S. theatrical run, was brought back to life when released on DVD.

"A director's cut can take a picture that was almost unwatchable in theaters and turn it into a masterpiece," said Ted Sarandos, chief content officer for Netflix.

For all its shortcomings, "Alexander" was far from a disaster, Stone said. It took in four times as much internationally as it did in the United States. Stone said that he might have been mistaken to assume that Alexander the Great would have mass appeal to Americans who seem to have little tolerance for history.

Perhaps the project would have been more successful as a small, independent venture, he added.
Strange story from the Daily Post:

A MERSEYSIDE man dressed as a Roman Gladiator was attacked and badly beaten by a gang as he walked alone.

The 21-year-old had been walking in fancy dress down Bridge Street, Warrington at 12.15am on Friday.

It is believed he was on his way home from a party at the time.

The victim was approached by a gang of four or five youths and was asked for a cigarette before being punched in the face.

A spokesman for Cheshire Police said: "The males were thought to have run into the nearby McCauleys public house near Bridge Street."

The victim was taken to Warrington District General hospital with serious mouth injuries and was later moved to Whiston hospital.

His attackers are thought to be in their late teens and early 20s.

One is described as 5ft7ins tall with short blond hair shaved at the back and sides.
Some excerpts from an editorial in Asahi in response to new guidelines for anti-terror police in Japan:

In Greek mythology, the creator of humankind, Prometheus, incurs the ire of Zeus for stealing fire and giving it to the human race. In "Prometheus Bound," a tragedy by Aeschylus, Zeus orders his servant Kratos, the god of strength, to chain Prometheus to the rocks on a barren mountainside.

In response to the terrorist bombings in London, the city's Metropolitan Police reportedly adopted new internal guidelines. Code-named Operation Kratos, the guidelines allow anti-terrorism troopers to aim for the head, not the body, if they suspect someone is carrying explosives.


Back to Greek mythology. Kratos had a sibling, Bia, the personification of might and force. The two were always together.

The use of terrorist force must never be condoned, of course. Still, crossing the line by resorting to might and force must never happen.
The goal this a.m. is to get through the backlog of newsitems so that 'regular' blogging can resume ... we begin today with the incipit of a piece from the New Zealand Herald:

Technical writing isn't unlike running the Roman Empire, Phil Cohen says. It's all about understanding what makes people tick.

"The Romans controlled what for them was the whole world ... [but] they didn't have ballpoint pens. They had their act together, they thought about how people interacted and how they worked together. That's what did it for them," he said. "[It's] about making the technology fit the people rather than making the people fit the technology."
Not sure if we've mentioned this one before ... from Azobuild (?):

The remarkable archeological find of a Roman bathhouse with its timber-piped springwater supply still running intact means no delays to the £4.8 million development of an extension to The Sixth Form College in historic Colchester, according to the town's archaeological trust.

As the client college specialises in archeology courses, according to main contractor Higgins Construction PLC, there is no problem appreciating the value of such a rare find. Finding water piping timbers in such good condition is so rare that Colchester Archaeological Trust hopes to return later to excavate more of the site where a sports field is located.

Archaeologist Ben Holloway thinks that the bathhouse was attached to a villa between late-first and early 2nd Century AD, whose tessellated pavement in red mosaic was found 18 months ago by the side of the college sports pitch. It is believed the college grounds occupy 10 per cent of the Roman town's 100 acres, which exposes what is Britain's oldest town wall dated around 65-80AD. After needing to refill the bathhouse in preparation for the college extension, Howard Brooks is now leading the archaeological trust's excavation of a 2mx2m trench to research through remains of a Roman rampart constructed against the rear of the wall in the second century. It is thought wooden piles were used by the Romans to cope with water-logged ground conditions and that would mean being able to date the construction more precisely than ever from the tree rings.

Colchester Archaeological Trust expects its excavations to be complete within six weeks for Higgins to begin their own site preparations for the new college extension at the end of July. The extension is designed by the Roff Marsh Partnership architects. Fleuty & Robinson are the QS consultants.
Just a passing comment about Mel Gibson's supposed next film ... it's somewhat strange (I think) that the early buzz about the movie had it set in some ancient civilization from 3,000 years ago (e.g., in the Guardian) and now we get info that it's going to be Mayan-themed and 500 years ago (e.g. in this Reuters piece via Yahoo). Maybe Mel's sending out trial balloons ...
AGE relates (briefly) the discovery of a well-preserved marble head of Constantine near Trajan's Forum:

Ritrovata nell'area del Foro di Traiano la testa di una scultura raffigurante l'imperatore Costantino. La testa, in marmo bianco di Carrara, e' alta 60 cm ed e' stata trovata, in buono stato di conservazione, incastrata all'interno del condotto fognario principale del foro, durante gli scavi finanziati con fondi per Roma Capitale. Ne hanno dato notizia il sindaco di Roma Walter Veltroni e l'assessore alla Cultura del Comune di Roma Gianni Borgna. ''Una nuova emozionante scoperta nel tesoro del sottosuolo della nostra citta', hanno detto in una dichiarazione congiunta Veltroni e Borgna. ''Il recupero di questa scultura - hanno aggiunto - nell'area del Foro di Traiano appare significativo perche' documenta la presenza, all'interno del complesso monumentale, di immagini imperiali tardo antiche di grandi dimensioni''. La scultura raffigura l'imperatore secondo lo schema iconografico del periodo in cui entrava trionfalmente a Roma, dopo la vittoria su Massenzio a Ponte Milvio, nel 312 d.C.

... hopefully we'll get some more details. The version in Il Resto di Carlino includes a photo, but I'm not sure if it's actually the piece that was found (it certainly doesn't look like Carrara marble) ...
News from Ecbatana from Mehrnews:

An Achaemenid era stone column was recently discovered at the historical site of Hegmataneh (Ecbatana) in Hamedan, the director of the Hegmataneh Research Center announced on Monday.

Habibollah Rashid Beigi said that the stone column was discovered during the pre-construction stage of a shopping center.

“The stone column, which is called a torus, has a diameter of 118 centimeters and a height of 15 centimeters,” he stated, adding that the column is being renovated by the research center and will be put on display at the Hegmataneh Museum.

According to Herodotus, Ecbatana became the capital of the Medes in the late 8th century BC, although some historians believe the city was founded in the first millennium BC. During the Achaemenid era, it was the summer capital of the Persian Empire and the site of an important treasury, which was later looted by Alexander. Ecbatana was the satrapal seat of the province of Media from Achaemenid to Sassanian times.

Experts believe that the black granite column is probably from the Palace of Artaxerxes II, a monument built during the Achaemenid dynasty and mentioned in a Hegmataneh inscription kept at the National Museum of Iran.

However, no trace of the palace had ever been discovered before, Beigi added.

The Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (CHTO) has announced that it will allocate funds to purchase the land where the ruins of Ecbatana are located.
Explorator reader DC (thanks!) sent this one in from the Times ... here's some excerpts which should provide some comparanda to fans of Homer:

When the 13-tonne racing yacht I was crewing started spinning backwards faster than we had been sailing forwards, I knew this was not going to be an average regatta. We were in the grip of a whirlpool.

It was nearing midnight and we were 150 miles into the Rolex Middle Sea Race, in the Strait of Messina between Sicily and the boot of Italy. I had stayed awake after my watch to see the waters that Homer had described as the graveyard of boats.

I thought it was just a Greek myth that immortalised this place as home to Scylla, the six-headed monster who devoured sailors, and Charybdis, the original bad girl whom Zeus struck with a lightning bolt that changed her into a ship-swallowing vortex. Though I’d grown up sailing, earning my skipper’s certificate in Southampton, I’d never seen indications for whirlpools on any chart. That changed dramatically in the Mediterranean.


What brought us amateurs together was a passionate love of sailing that meant we jumped at the chance to join Peter when he entered Innovation in the annual Middle Sea Race round the islands of Stromboli, Lampedusa and Sicily. Ted Turner, founder of CNN and America’s Cup skipper, described it as the most beautiful sailing course in the world.


No one was laughing the night of the whirlpool in the Strait of Messina. We had light winds and Peter had nosed Innovation around the last headland of the narrow waterway when suddenly we began spinning backwards in a rapid series of 360-degree turns. The skipper turned the steering wheel every which way to no avail. I sat there mesmerised: how do you get out of a whirlpool? British sang-froid reigned supreme. Chris Winnington-Ingram, an engineer, poked his head into the cockpit and said: “I thought I should come up when I saw the moon go backwards. Twice. At speed.”

The skipper could have ended the drama by powering out of the whirlpool, but if you turn on a motor in a race you have to quit. Peter is not the retiring kind. So we spun around out of control until the whirlpool finally spat us out — directly into the path of an Italian ferry. Our necks craned upward at the black bow towering above us in the moonlight. It looked like something out of Star Wars bearing down on us. Lex Woodley, founder of a west London building firm, raced below and came back on deck with two burning white flares, holding them high to alert the ferry we were in its path. It changed course, narrowly missing us.

Danger averted, a day later Innovation was flying along at 27 knots in a Force 9 gale, now one of the leading boats in the Middle Sea Race. Then the 100ft mainsail came crashing down on deck. This race was starting to feel like a real-life Odyssey. [...]
Here's an interesting tidbit about J.P. Losman, who's currently in the Buffalo Bills (American Football) training camp ... from the Buffalo News:

The rest is Tulane history. Losman had to wait behind future No. 1 draft pick Patrick Ramsey for two seasons before taking the field. He passed for 52 touchdowns and 24 interceptions in his two years as a full-time starter. He led the Green Wave to a Hawaii Bowl victory in 2002 and he finished with the lowest interception rate in school history. His results didn't come easily. Off the field, he graduated on time with a degree in classical studies and made the dean's list most semesters. In the weight room he grew from a 175-pound freshman to a 227-pound senior. That development punched his ticket to the NFL.
Another one from Ansa:

The ancient mystery cults that Greeks and Romans followed in the privacy of their plush homes or the shadows of dank caves are being illuminated at the Colosseum in an impressive light-and-sound show. More than 70 works including statues, frescoes, ritualistic objects and private altars bear testimony to the increasing popularity of Dionysan, Eleusine, oracular, Orphic and Mithraic rites as adepts reached for meaning and salvation outside organised religion .

A series of marble heads from Calabria illustrate the Eleusine mysteries, related to fertility .

Adepts were devoted to two goddesses, Demeter the grain goddess, and her daughter Persephone, also known as Kore (the Maiden). Demeter gave the Greek city of Eleusis two things: grain as the basis of civilisation and the mysteries which held the hopes of a happy afterlife. The exhibition contains an array of representations of the massively popular god of wine, ecstasy and fertility, Dionysus .

Bacchanalian orgies devoted to the god are perhaps the most famous examples of secret rites. They were suppressed by the Roman senate in 186 BC .

Sculpted maenads - frenzied women who tore the god to pieces - are a highlight of the show. They are linked with bas reliefs depicting the related Orphic mystery, which stems from the legend of Orpheus who tragically turns back to see if his wife Eurydice is following him from the Underworld and thus consigns her there forever. The exhibition also contains several statues of the eastern deities Romans embraced from the 2nd century AD: Cymbele the earth goddess, the Egyptian divinities Isis and Osiris, and the Persian god Mithras .

Unlike other rites such as Christianity, these were increasingly tolerated as a form of political control over the Roman people .

Some believe Mithras - and also Dionysus - made it easier for Romans to eventually accept Christianity .

As early as their so-called archaic age, the Greeks had 'borrowed' Isis and Osiris, identifying them with Demeter and Dionysus .

Osiris married his sister Isis, who like him symbolised the passage of time and entry into the afterlife. Many Roman sanctuaries with Egyptian gods and 'Egyptianising' priests were later established, particularly the temple of Isis at Rome under Caligula. Mithras - whose famous depiction as he slays a mythically powerful bull is one of the other stand-out statues on view - was an ancient Indo-Iranian deity, found from the Bronze Age onward. The cult, which was brought back from the East by Roman legionaries, held its initiations in caves and had sacrificial meals there .

The exhibition concludes with a series of Mithraic objects that demonstrate how later Roman rites tended towards monotheism .

The Secret Rite: Mysteries in Greek and Rome has just opened and runs until January 8
An excerpt from

Raju’s interest in numismatics was kindled in 1949, when as a student he chanced upon an octagonal coin of the British era with King George’s figure on it at Tanuku. Later, he found two coins - one belonging to the Greek king Augustus of Second Century BC and another to the Tiberius of 4th Century
From Ansa:

The winged horses of Tarquinia, one of the world's most famous ancient sculptures and the most significant from the Etruscan era, have returned home after being restored .

The horses have only left this town northwest of Rome on three occasions: the world's first major exhibition on Etruscan civilisation in 1955 in Zurich, a Milan show in the 1990s, and the Italian Culture Ministry's Culture Week two months ago. After a year-long restoration which uncovered traces of original colour they have been put on permanent display at the National Archaeological Museum of Tarquinia .

The work of art was found shattered into more than 100 shards by archaeologist Pietro Romanelli in 1938, during excavation work on the Civita of Tarquinia, where the ancient Etruscan city of Civita used to be .

Civita is believed to be one of the major cities of the Etruscans, who dominated north-central Italy before the Romans conquered them and wiped out most traces of their civilisation .

The area around Tarquinia is dotted with ancient towns where Etruscan burial chambers draw thousands of tourists a year. Romanelli's dig brought to light the remains of a huge temple called the Ara della Regina (Altar of the Queen), the largest Etruscan temple ever unearthed. The winged horses, sculpted on a sizeable terracotta panel (114 cm high and 124cm wide), decorated the front of the temple .

They were placed according to the Etruscan style at the head of one of the temple's main frontal supporting beams. The winged horses once pulled a two-wheeled chariot mounted by a god to whom the temple is believed to have been dedicated. The chariot, which decorated an adjacent panel, has been lost. The coloured sculpture was clearly made by an Etruscan master .

He obviously had a comprehensive knowledge of Greek sculpture, which probably inspired the work. The meticulously crafted horses move gradually out of the panel and become a full-blown sculpture as their fine wings and heads emerge. The sculpture is believed to have been made between the end of the fifth century BC and the start of the fourth century BC. After being found, the work was put back together and placed on display at the Tarquinia museum .

In 2004, 66 years after it was found, the local cultural heritage office decided to update and revamp the first restoration. Experts used modern restoration practices and criteria to replace and reinforce old gluing, scrub surfaces and bring to light the age-old colour. Sifting through the objects housed in the museum, they also found the long, bronze nails that once fixed the panel in place .

These were placed in their original position. Finally, a perspex shield was placed on the back of the relief to help visitors understand how it was made .

The restoration of the famous high-relief work was carried out under the guidance of Ingrid Reindell and the scientific direction of Maria Castaldi, an expert at the archaeological heritage office of southern Etruria .
From Zenit:

At least 3,000 youths and 60 priests of a group supportive of the Latin Mass of Pope Pius V plan to attend World Youth Day in Cologne, an official says.

Armand de Malleray, of St. Peter's Fraternity, who is delegate general of the Juventutem association, announced the news to ZENIT.

The first Juventutem group was made up of followers of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who met in Brazil. For the past three years, Juventutem has been in full communion with the Church of Rome. Its members will attend the Aug. 21 Mass presided over by Benedict XVI.

In the preceding days, at 7:30 a.m. the Juventutem group will attend a Mass celebrated in Latin in the old rite, in the Church of St. Antonius in Duesseldorf, which, together with Bonn and Cologne, is one of the three areas in which World Youth Day events will be held.

The church was assigned to them by the Pontifical Council for the Laity with the approval of Cardinal Joachim Meisner of Cologne.

Three cardinals and eight bishops will preside at vespers or lead times of prayer and reflection which Juventutem members will attend.

De Malleray added that Juventutem's objective for World Youth Day is to "get to know one another, knowing that we have a common tradition within Holy Mother Church."
Very nice application of the definition of tragedy in a piece in the Jewish Press ... here's the incipit:

In Judaism there can be no justification for deliberate self-endangerment, and in classic Greek tragedy, there can be no deus ex machina. In tragedy, the human spirit remains noble in the face of largely inescapable death, but if there is anything remotely tragic in Israel`s Oslo/"Road Map"/"disengagement"- descent, it lies only in the original Greek meaning of the term — "goat song" — from the dithyrambs sung by goatskin- clad worshippers of Dionysus. In every other sense, Israel now exhibits behavior that desecrates its sacred Jewish heritage and its manifestly obvious Jewish obligations.

Prime Minister Sharon proceeds with the expectation of a "Two State Solution." Yet, his Palestinian "partners in peace" remain openly dedicated only to a single, 23 Arab state. Israel does not exist on the maps of Mahmoud Abbas` Fatah. As for the still unrevised Fatah constitution, its plans for Israel are plainly Crimes Against Humanity — this according to unassailable standards of authoritative international law. Mahmoud Abbas` only solution for the Israel-Palestinian conflict is a familiar "final" one. Abbas, of course, is smugly identified in Jerusalem and Washington as the "moderate" Palestinian voice.

Aristotle understood, in his POETICS, that a tragedy must elicit pity and fear, but certainly not pathos, a kind of suffering less heroic than what is to be expected of a genuinely tragic figure. Aristotle identified the tragic with "good" characters who suffer, in part, because they commit some error (hamartia) unknowingly. Prime Minister Sharon, on the other hand, has continued his country`s march to disaster not because of any such error, or even because of wantonness or caprice, but (in the most charitable explanation) because his territorial nationalism has become explicitly detached from Judaism.

Israel is currently in a tragic dilemma, a situation initially created by Rabin/Peres, sustained by Netanyahu, heightened by Barak, and soon to be "finalized" by Sharon. Now, each Israeli surrender leads the country closer to an unbearable conclusion. Now, Israel is in the condition of Orestes. Commanded by Apollo, in THE LIBATION BEARERS of Aeschylus (458 BCE) to avenge his father`s death by murdering Clytemnestra, the slayer who is Orestes` mother, Orestes knows that — whatever he decides — will make him guilty of grave offense. Unlike Orestes and in violation of specifically Jewish precept, the leader of Israel has placed his people directly in the path of misfortune — in a "place of danger." It is not divine whim that has brought Israel to its present existential vulnerabilities; it is the continuous, stubborn and inexcusable self-delusion of Israeli and Jewish leaderships. In some respects, the always-visceral compliance of American Jewish leaderships with Israeli government surrenders is even more loathsome than the original capitulations in Jerusalem.

Today a Prime Minister of Israel still codifies Hamas/PLO/PA/Fatah`s jihad-centered rule over essential and expanding sectors of the Jewish State. Yet, Holocaust denier Mahmoud Abbas was mentored by Yassir Arafat, and Arafat, in the words of Gustav Hendrikssen, professor emeritus of Bible Studies at Sweden`s Uppsala University, "is the heir of Hitler and the Palestinian Covenant is a more disgusting document than the Nuremberg laws." When this self-described "aged and bitter Gentile" recalled his reactions to awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to "one of the most despicable figures in our century," he saw in that event the drama not of tragedy, but of pathetic farce: "When I saw the Prime Minister of Israel and its Foreign Minister standing next to this murderous clown," says Prof. Hendrikssen, speaking of Rabin and Peres, "I had to think again about the meaning of the term `friend of Israel.`"

... more
I was semi-surprised no one on the Classics list mentioned this last week when all the news was abuzz with news about John Roberts and the Supreme Court ... an excerpt from the Indy Star:

The people who remembered Roberts congregated at the two Catholic schools he attended. Roberts attended Notre Dame Grade School less than a mile from his home and graduated from La Lumiere, a boarding and day high school near LaPorte, in 1973.

Lawrence Sullivan, a former teacher and headmaster who worked at the school for 35 years, said he remembered the young man well. Roberts was a captain of the football team, a wrestler and a member of the track team. He was interested in every subject, Sullivan said, but excelled especially in Latin, passing the advanced placement test on the epic poetry of Virgil.

The Lexington Herald-Leader adds this little detail, inter alia:

After completing the school's two-year Latin curriculum, Roberts worked on his own translating Virgil's "Aeneid."

"The guy who taught Latin had a hard time keeping up with him," said Larry Sullivan, the school's former headmaster.

... so he's probably the kind of judge who will pronounce stare decisis correctly ...
Excerpts from an 'apology' over at Tech Central Station (which I include because of the article below it):

I have a distinct memory of watching the 1992 Vice Presidential debate between then-Vice President Dan Quayle, Senator Al Gore and a person I had never heard of until that year; Admiral James Stockdale. Both Quayle and Gore gave polished opening statements. In contrast, Admiral Stockdale opened by saying "Who am I? Why am I here?"


When asked how he was able to resist his captors for the seven years he was held in the Hanoi Hilton, Admiral Stockdale cited as inspiration the works of the Stoic philosophers Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. So well-versed was Stockdale in the works of the Stoics that he went on to teach Stoic philosophy as a fellow of The Hoover Institution. It was his philosophical bent that helped him survive the depredations of captivity, as writer Jeff Bliss points out. It was that philosophical bent that caused him to ask "Who am I? Why am I here?" at the Vice Presidential debates -- debates he found out only a week before their occurrence that he would be participating in (Ross Perot's campaign hadn't bothered to tell him that they had received and accepted an invitation to participate in the debate on his behalf weeks earlier). Stockdale's question was mistaken as the puzzled musings of a lost and confused man. In reality, it was an admirable application of Marcus Aurelius's lesson about "first principles." While Dan Quayle and Al Gore were busy explaining what made them good political leaders, Stockdale tried to explain what kind of man he was. It is an indictment of us as a society that we were unprepared to listen when he tried to speak to us. It certainly was an indictment of me that I so readily dismissed him.

We certainly need more men like Phil Hartman to keep us laughing. But over and above anything, we need men like James Stockdale to keep us free.
The incipit from a piece in the Guardian:

In ancient Greece, people expected their heroes to be different. The first readers of the Iliad didn't imagine they could ever be as great as Achilles. They accepted that he was in a completely different category, a different order of being. And they didn't envy him his superior talent - they admired him for it.

Nowadays, if someone is vastly more talented than us, we don't congratulate them - we envy them and resent their success. It seems we don't want heroes we can admire, so much as heroes we can identify with.

We want to think we could be like them, and so we make sure to select heroes that are like us. We worship David Beckham because he's fallible. If Achilles were around today, the headlines would all be about his heel.

This is the real reason for the astonishing rise of reality TV. We allow halfwits to become celebrities precisely because there is no great gap separating them from us. That consoles us, because it makes us think that we could be famous if we had a bit more luck, or if we tried a bit harder. We can't bear the idea that some people might be better than us, so much better that we could never be like them, no matter how hard we tried. That upsets our democratic ethos, our belief that all people are born equal.


I think the author (Dylan Evans) may be on to something ...
An item in Corriere Canadese reveals the discovery of the source of the bricks for many of the well-known monuments of ancient Rome:

Il Colosseo, il Pantheon, le terme di Caracalla e di Diocleziano, il mausoleo di Adriano, i mercati Traianei e altri importanti e noti monumenti dell'antica Roma sono stati eretti con mattoni che provenivano da due fornaci di Mugnano, una frazione di Bomarzo (Viterbo), in funzione dal I al V secolo d.C.
La scoperta conferma alcuni tesi già da tempo avanzate su un possibile sito nella campagna viterbese, da dove provenivano i laterizi usati nell'antica Roma.
A scoprire il sito è stato l'archeologo Tiziano Gasperoni, collaboratore dell'Università della Tuscia, nel corso di alcune ricerche condotte per la cattedra di topografia antica, coordinate dal professor Piero Gianfrotta ed eseguite insieme con gli esperti della Soprintendenza Archeologica per l'Etruria Meridionale.
I laterizi usati nella Capitale riportano gli stemmi dei produttori, i fratelli Domitii, proprietari delle due fornaci. Questo particolare ha confermato che tegole, mattoni e mattoncini erano fabbricati proprio a Mugnano.
La scoperta dell'Università della Tuscia è di grande valore scientifico perché quella di Mugnano è finora l'unica fabbrica di mattoni destinati ad edifici importanti dell'antica Roma riportata alla luce.
Per il trasporto venivano usate grandi chiatte sulle quali erano sistemati i mattoni, ben legati. Poi la corrente del Tevere, che scorre nei pressi di Mugnano, faceva il resto, facendo arrivare a Roma il carico atteso dagli imprenditori del posto.
Come è stato accertato dai ricercatori, le fornaci producevano mattoni per tutte le esigenze edilizie: colonne, tetti, intercapedini e decorazioni. Tutta la zona dove sono state rinvenute le due fornaci dovrà essere ora bonificata, ripulita e sistemata.
We're still in catchup mode, but should have the backlog cleared by today or tomorrow ... here's a much-publicized story from the Jerusalem Post on the discovery that Jewish catacombs in Rome predate the Christian ones:

A Jewish catacomb in Rome predates its Christian counterparts by at least 100 years, indicating that burial in the city's sprawling underground cemeteries may not have begun as a Christian practice, according to a study published Wednesday.

Scholars have long believed early Christians were the first to bury their dead in Roman catacombs. But Dutch experts from Utrecht University who dated organic material from a Jewish catacomb in the city say it appears early Christians inherited the practice from Jews.

"Perhaps it doesn't clinch the argument, but it makes it very likely," said Leonard Victor Rutgers, an antiquities professor who led the university's team.

The findings, published in the journal Nature, further illustrate links between early Christian culture and Judaism, out of which Christianity emerged in the fist century A.D.

Radiocarbon dating shows that the Villa Torlonia catacomb, a Jewish burial site, was constructed between the first century B.C. and the first century A.D., long before any of Rome's 60 Christian catacombs, Rutgers said.

"The radiocarbon dating shows that it is very likely that the Jewish community in Rome developed the method and then the Christians copied it," Rutgers told the Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Although ancient Latin texts place a Jewish community in Rome as early as the first century B.C., burial places like Villa Torlonia were thought until now to have been used only from the third century A.D., roughly around the same Christians began using catacombs.

"So where and how did this ancient community bury its dead?" Rutgers said. "Now it seems likely that they used catacombs from the beginning."
Rutgers said his research might provide further evidence of the influence that Judaism had on early Christianity.

"The extent to which Christianity has Jewish roots is a very widespread debate today and this research adds a new element to the discussion," he said.

The study began two years ago, when Rutgers and his team collected samples of wood embedded in the stucco that covers the openings of many tombs in the Villa Torlonia catacomb.

The lines of tombs and niches are cut into the sides of winding galleries dug in soft tufa stone to create one of six known Jewish catacombs in Rome.

The catacombs are under the city park that surrounds Villa Torlonia, where dictator Benito Mussolini lived for 20 years.

Four of the ancient Jewish burial grounds in Rome have collapsed or were built over in past centuries, and unlike the more popular Christian catacombs, the other two are hard to visit.

Visitors need a special permit from Rome's archaeological authorities to enter the Villa Torlonia galleries, and the other Jewish burial site is on the property of a private villa near the ancient Appian Way.

Rutgers said that to confirm his findings, radiocarbon dating would have to be used on Christian catacombs as well, as those burials are usually dated by evaluating the style of the decoration and architecture used on site.
Comparative studies of the Jewish and Christian catacombs could also help confirm the link, he said.

"If you look at the layout of Villa Torlonia and compare it to the early Christian catacombs, the architecture is absolutely similar," he said. "The only difference is in the inscriptions and the iconography."

Christian catacombs are usually decorated with early Christian symbols like fish or doves and the interlacing Greek letters Chi and Rho - a monogram for the Greek word "Christos." In contrast, frescoes of Jewish symbols - such as menorahs, a seven-armed candelabra, palm leaves and the Ark of the Covenant - cover the dark tunnels under Villa Torlonia.

... more in this weekend's Explorator.
Just had a flurry of notes indicating that the ANE list has now resurrected ...
Not sure if I've mentioned this story before ... from the Guardian:

For years, tourists to the Acropolis have been frustrated to find ancient monuments shrouded in scaffolding, thanks to a long and painstaking restoration project. Now, an end is in sight.

Greek cultural officials said Wednesday that work on the Parthenon, the Athena Nike temple and the massive Propylaea gate - treasures built in the mid-fifth century B.C. at the height of Athenian glory - should be finished by the end of next year.

``These three works will be finished at the end of 2006,'' said architect Haralambos Bouras, a senior project official. ``All three were vitally necessary, and failure to carry them out could have resulted in severe damage to the monuments.''

Still, more scaffolding could go up at the Parthenon - the biggest crowd-puller - as projects on the Acropolis hill are expected to continue until 2020.

The multimillion-dollar restoration started 30 years ago, but the complexity of the work and funding snags caused considerable delays, with scaffolding embarrassing authorities during the 2004 Athens Olympics.

So far, the ancient marble structures have survived wars, fires and earthquakes, not to mention decades of modern pollution. Botched restoration efforts in the 1930s used iron clamps that rusted over the years, causing the marble to crack and break.

Work on the Athena Nike temple, an elegant Ionic structure at the entrance to the citadel, started in 1998. The whole building had to be taken down to its foundations.

According to Maria Ioannidou, who is supervising work on all three buildings, the ongoing effort is ``the biggest restoration project currently under way in the world.'' The total estimated price tag is $84.4 million.

So far, nearly 1,000 blocks of stone have been removed from the three monuments and 1,100 parts have been assembled from ancient fragments. Restorers used marble from Mount Pendeli, north of Athens, whose ancient quarries provided the original building material. More than half of the blocks have now been treated and put back.

``We treat each piece like an individual work of art,'' Bouras said.

Only one of the four major Acropolis monuments, the Erechtheion temple, has been fully restored. In addition to the Parthenon, further repairs are needed to Propylaea and the wall surrounding the citadel.

Afterward, the hilltop will be landscaped with hundreds of tons of earth.
This little tidbit from an editorial in the Daily News got caught in the scan:

Aristotle's Greece was destroyed by the Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great, who changed the world by spreading the use of coined money from Spain to India.

Then there was this one in the International Herald Tribune (!) in an article about ongoing efforts to get plundered German museum stuff back from Russia:

Among the art was the Treasure of Priamus - an important collection of Etruscan sculptures, vases, terra cotta and other items dating back to ancient Greece.
This one, of course, had a pile of coverage ... here's the BBC version:

A set of ancient silverware has been dug up from Pompeii, the Roman city destroyed by a volcano 2,000 years ago.

The hand-crafted goblets, plates and trays had been bundled into a wicker basket by an inhabitant fleeing the erupting Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.

The tableware, well preserved in ash and mud, was discovered five years ago and archaeologists have used the latest techniques to separate 20 pieces.

Experts say it is the most important find of this kind for 70 years.

Thousands of inhabitants of Pompeii gathered up what few possessions they hoped to save and tried to escape from the firestorm and the clouds of volcanic ash and mud which descended upon their city.

Pietro Giovanni Guzzo, in charge of the excavations at the world's first scientifically excavated archaeological site, told a news conference that the remains of up to 2,000 citizens of Pompeii out of a population of 10,000 to 15,000, trapped by the eruption have so far been recovered.

"But no-one knows exactly how many managed to escape," he said.

One man bundled his family silverware into a wicker basket and ran for his life.

He hid the basket in a stairwell in some public baths on the outskirts of the city before being overcome by fumes.

Archaeologists checking on the building of a new motorway near Pompeii dug it up, next to the man's skeleton.

The wicker basket and its contents were congealed into a solid block.

Ancient Pompeii silverware (photo: Archaeological Superintendence of Pompeii)
The set is the most important find of this sort in more than 70 years
Working with the latest archaeological techniques, including x-ray, experts have managed to separate the silverware, remove the heavy encrustations of the eruption and salvage them.

The remains of the basket are currently being treated with chemicals to preserve the vegetable fibre and are also expected to be put on show eventually.

The solid silver plates and goblets - all beautifully polished - were brought to Rome under heavy security guard for a private viewing. Together they weigh more than 4kg (9lbs).

I saw two exquisitely engraved wine cups, a set of small dishes, a large serving plate with an elaborately chased border, a spoon, plus some tiny, finely worked silver trays for appetisers.

Two other similar and larger hoards of table silver excavated in Pompeii during the 19th and 20th Centuries are on show in the Louvre museum in Paris and at the National Archaeological Museum in Naples. But no new treasure trove of this quality from Pompeii has been seen for more than 70 years. It will be put on show at the Naples museum during 2006.

... there's a couple of photos at the BBC page and more at yahoo... more links in this weekend's massive Explorator.
From ANSA comes this interesting report:

A 2,000-year-old highway, a mausoleum and an aqueduct have emerged from the dust just outside the Italian capital, making experts consider redrawing maps of ancient Rome .

Electric company workers stumbled on the finds in the early summer as they began digging near the suburban area of Casale di Malafede, preparing to install new street lights on the main road from Rome to the sea .

It appears the old Roman road, made of blocks of black basalt and wide enough to carry two lines of traffic, was a second, previously unknown, link between the capital of the empire and its port at Ostia .

It had long been assumed that there was only one road between Rome and the port, the Via Ostiense, which still exists today and carries heavy traffic from the modern city to the sea .

According to archeologists, the presence of the second road could mean a large area outside Rome was densely populated once and hence needed a second communications artery. Measuring some 4.5 metres across, the road is as wide as the key 'consular' roads, such as the Appian and Aurelian Ways, built by Romans to connect the city to the rest of Italy and Europe .

The theory of a previously unknown town, possibly something like a modern suburb, is backed up by the presence of the mausoleum and numerous poor people's graves by the side of the road .

"It is well known that Romans buried their dead beside the roads outside their settlements. So you have to ask whether there was once a thriving town between Malafede and Ostia," said ancient history lecturer Marco Guidi in Rome daily Il Messaggero .

The discovery of the aqueduct going from Malafede to Ostia neither proves nor disproves the idea that the area was heavily populated, although it would have required maintenance. The head of archeological digs at Ostia Antica, the old Roman site, has called on the government to stump up the 70,000 euros needed to throughly excavate the site at Malafede .

He said the area may offer more clues to the geography of the region outside Rome .
Prior to our sojourn in places west, we mentioned an article at EDP 24 suggesting archaeological evidence for a 'brutal Roman crackdown' on the Celts. rc reader PT has since alerted me to the existence of some responses by the excavators (you'll have to do a bit of clicking to see them all) in the SHARP forum suggesting the article was rather, shall we say, sensationalized.
The hype has begun for HBO/BBC's Rome project (I just saw a preview of sorts on our Movie Channel, actually) ... here's an excerpt from a piece on upcoming HBO stuff:

Get ready for Full Frontal Empire. That's the sort of description critics are kicking around for HBO's big-money, 12-hour series "Rome," launching its weekly episodes Aug. 28. Yes, this lavish location production vividly illustrates the rise of Julius Caesar, and yes, it charts the class warfare behind the decline of democracy and rise of empire, and yes, it's historically authentic, blah blah blah.

It's also in-your-face with full-frontal nudity, battle brutality, whippings, crucifixions and blood-drenched pagan rituals. In other words: enough debauchery to make Cecil B. DeMille's old-Hollywood Sodom wallows seem positively preschool.

"Rome" is a linchpin in HBO's bid to reclaim water-cooler cool, at a time when, despite another slew of Emmy nominations, the channel hears industry whispers that it's slipping in quality and zeitgeist status. Chairman Chris Albrecht spent most of his Friday press conference reciting a litany of HBO achievements that accomplished nothing so much as make critics chatter about him being so defensive.

Their reaction to early episodes of "Rome" previewed here was lukewarm, most critics finding it the expectedly extravagant costume epic, boasting artsy British accents and historical context but not much dramatic momentum.

... mesuspects critics are in covering-their-rear-ends mode after hyping Empire as something wonderful ...
There was a brief flurry of coverage about the Marion True case ... here's a representative piece from Reuters:

The curator of antiquities at California's respected J. Paul Getty Museum went on trial in Rome on Monday accused of receiving stolen artefacts in a case closely watched by the international art world.

After a decade-long investigation, Italian prosecutors charged Marion True, who has been with the Getty for over 20 years, of criminal conspiracy to receive stolen goods and illegal receipt of archaeological artefacts.

True denies the charges and the Getty has defended her.

"We trust that this trial will result in her exoneration and end further damage to the personal and professional reputation of Dr. True," it said in a statement following her indictment.

True did not appear in court for the start of trial, which was adjourned immediately after opening remarks until Nov. 16 in order to provide an English translation of the proceedings.

The case involves some 40 artefacts that prosecutors believe were illegally excavated or stolen and later acquired by the Getty, including a prized ancient Greek statue of Aphrodite.

"We have boxes and boxes of documents and very convincing elements," a source with the prosecution said.

The trial is widely seen as an effort by Italian authorities to crack down on the trade in illegally excavated archaeological items by putting pressure on museums and collectors to verify the origin of artefacts.

"We hope the trial will ensure this kind of crime isn't repeated, that museums learn you can't turn a blind eye to art theft," the source said.

Art experts estimate that the global black market in stolen antiquities generates billions of dollars a year.

Italy and France are the two main targets, accounting for more than 12,000 stolen pieces of art every year, with Italy's churches and archaeological sites a favourite for thieves.

"People need to admit that fantastic artefacts don't just emerge out of the blue," the source added. "Either they're fakes or they've been illegally excavated."

The ruling is also expected to have wider implications for countries trying to retrieve lost and stolen artworks.

The investigation began in 1995 when Swiss police seized thousands of documents and photographs along with some 4,000 stolen artefacts. Investigators say the paper trail showed how a group traded in and "laundered" stolen antiquities.

"They basically describe the last 40 years of illegal trafficking in antiquities from Tuscany and Lazio," a source said, referring to two central Italian regions.

In 2000, the evidence was sent to Italy and served as the basis for a trial of Italian art dealer Giacomo Medici, who is appealing a recent 10-year prison sentence.

Investigators say they will seek a shorter sentence for True and Paris-based art dealer Emanuel Robert Hecht who is also a defendant in the trial. They accuse True of knowingly acquiring stolen artefacts via Medici and Hecht.

In 1999, True and the Getty made the unusual and much-publicised decision to return three artefacts to Italy that they had determined were stolen years before.
Interesting item from CHN, although something seems to have been lost in translation:

In the construction of a new model of an Achaemenid battleship, which is made by experts of aero-marine research centre of Malek Ashtar University, all traditional and old techniques were respected.

Kambiz Alampour, administrator of “Marine and Navigation Museum of Persian Gulf” and the head of the executive team in charge of the project for construction a collection of ancient Iranian ship replicas said, “After studying 47 different resources including Iranian and non-Iranian resources we achieved the original design of the archetype. The genuine model of this ship was a kind of “three room” which was used as a battleship during Achaemenid dynasty. Now a replica in smaller size has been constructed in this centre using the traditional methods.”

This is the first ship of the collection which is made in the centre. According to Alampour the models of Qajar and Safavid ships are in the list to be made in future.

Alampour explained about the Achaemenid ship, “The model of this three-oar ship has been made in the size of 120 by 40 by 60 centimeters. According to the research has done so far, this ship had 2 big sails which are imitated exactly on the model ship as well.”

The method by which the timbers are bent and used for construction completely complies with those common methods and techniques during Achaemenid era.

Based on available resources it is widely known that Iranians had a long experience in navigation and ship making so that Iranian sailors and navy has always had an active role in bordering seas including Persian Gulf.

Achaemenids had such a powerful fleet that even nowadays marine archaeologists from Canadian archaeological institute and Greek centre for archaeological services are combing seabed off the Greek coast to find the remains of Persian battleships.

In his book, the ancient Greek historian, Herodotus, has explained about the catastrophic event which caused the Iranian fleet to capsize after colliding mount Atus in 492 BC. According to available documents the commercial marine course from southern part of Iran to the farthest ports of China were highly active during the reign of Darius the great of Achaemenid dynasty and Anoushirvan, Sasanid king of Persia.

... there's a photo of the model at the page ...
Excerpts from a lengthy piece in the Washington Post:

More than 2,000 years after Julius Caesar came here for provisions and decided to start a veterans colony, a new army has invaded -- a multinational force of archaeologists in what is perhaps the largest ongoing dig in the Mediterranean.

Led by Professor Richard Hodges of the University of East Anglia in England, 100 archaeologists from 19 nations, 60 Albanian undergraduates and dozens of local laborers are rotating in over the course of this summer's two-month digging season.

The scientific goal of this decade-long project is to learn how society was transformed at the end of the classical period of ancient Greece and Rome, but the city of Butrint is as much of an attraction. Over the course of 3,000 years, successive civilizations made this city their own. "It became a place in the middle of the Mediterranean where everybody came," Hodges said.

This year's dig is the third major excavation since the nonprofit Butrint Foundation began operations in 1994. Most of the team will work on the Vrina Plain, a flat marshland between steep mountain ridges on the coast of the Ionian Sea. It was the site of Caesar's colony, a Roman suburb just across a narrow channel from the 40-acre city.

The scope of Butrint's past excites archaeologists of many periods. It was "Troy in miniature" in Virgil's "The Aeneid"; legend says the city was founded by Trojan exiles, but that belief is not supported by archaeological evidence.

Butrint was first settled between 1000 and 800 B.C., Hodges said, most likely as an outpost to provide food for the large settlement on the island of Corfu. Its strategic location astride major trade routes made the city a player in the politics of the day. It was in turn Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine. Then came the Venetians and Ottomans, who built forts to protect the city and nearby fisheries.

In Butrint's heyday in the 5th century, Hodges said, as many as 20,000 people lived there. Monuments from each period remain today, just yards apart.


Ugolini excavated most of the city as it is seen today, including a Greek theater, a temple to the god Aesclepious, and a large 5th-century baptistry with a tile mosaic floor.

Besides the project on the Vrina Plain, the two other big digs of this decade were the excavation of a Roman villa and Byzantine church across Lake Butrint and a private home in the city called the Triconch Palace, a site Hodges calls "the best excavated sequence of a large Roman home in the Mediterranean."

The original aim of the Vrina dig was to investigate the Roman colony, and from its preliminary work the team has been able to reconstruct the way the Romans settled the plain. "The landscape is centuriated -- in other words, divided up and made into this planned colonial world," Hodges said. His team can discern street lines and building plots. Team members have identified a fallen aqueduct that brought water from a spring about four miles away.


"If you're digging up classical remains," Gilkes said, "you don't really have to be that careful. You just dig until you hit something hard -- a mosaic or floor or whatever. But if you do that, you don't realize the soil tells a story. The soil itself is something you can use."

Carefully sifting the soil by hand, archaeologists are now going down 31 inches over the entire area within the walls of the 5th-century church. In doing so, Gilkes said, they are looking at the beginnings of the Middle Ages, a period little understood in this part of the globe, when a new civilization arose out of the wreck of the ancient world. "What we have here is a most unique early medieval sequence, which I think is going to open the door on the medieval history of the Balkans and the Mediterranean in general," he said.

Nowadays, a project on the scale of the Butrint Foundation's is rare in the region. Hodges said many countries simply won't support big foreign missions. "For understandable reasons, there's a 'Gosh, we want to do our own archaeology,' and that's it," he said.

A number of factors made it possible for Hodges to undertake the project. As an impoverished Albania emerged from communist rule, the nation sought outside help in resuming the work that largely ceased when Ugolini died half a century before. The project benefited, too, from the financial backing of wealthy donors who started the Butrint Foundation to help preserve the landscape and the cultural heritage associated with it.

Hodges said the next step is to publish what they've learned. To dig too much could destroy the special nature of the place. The city and the national park that surround it have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Unlike many archaeological sites, the wide-open hinterland and unspoiled surroundings give it another dimension, said Ani Tare, director of Butrint National Park: "Butrint is a magical place, very beautiful. There is something very raw, I would say. It takes you back to time."

That timeless quality and a growing national pride of place are also putting Butrint on the tourism map. Preserving the past has become part of the debate over the future of this site. Tare is adamant that archaeology must take its place alongside preservation.

Hodges echoes that sentiment when he says the most gratifying part of the experience for him has been doing something that helps Albania.

"We're not just digging for loot," Hodges said. "We're digging with an idea of creating assets for the place -- intellectual, on library shelves, tourists, identity and so on."
From the Evening Mail:

ARCHAEOLOGISTS believe they have found the birthplace of St Patrick.

A dig in Urswick has uncovered a Roman fort which may be the Banna Vernta Berniae, thought by scholars to be where Ireland’s patron saint was born.

Excavations are being led by Steve Dickinson, from Ulverston, who tutors archaeology at Lancaster University.

Evidence of the Romans in Furness is rare. But Mr Dickinson is convinced the finds at Urswick are Roman with their typical layout of foundations and ditches.

Mr Dickinson said: “I can’t tell you how important it is for Furness and for the local community that helped us get to the point where we’ve reached and we’ve actually found something of national significance.

“The village could be the missing Roman fort of Banna Venta Berniae which is the alleged birthplace of St Patrick who actually recorded it in his own writings. So potentially this is hot property.

Next Saturday Mr Dickinson and members of the Urswick First Light heritage group will have a stall at Urswick’s Grand Day Out gala day in Urswick and public tours of the site take place on Sunday.
In case you missed it ... the Official Wheelock's Latin site has recently put up audio files to accompany the text ....
Interesting item (not specifically 'Classical') from the Indo-Asian News Service:

Mohammed Atta, the ringleader of the Al Qaeda cells which carried out the 9/11 attacks, had once attempted to smuggle artefacts out of Afghanistan to raise money, a report revealed Saturday.

Atta, believed to have been at the controls of the first plane that slammed into the World Trade Center, had approached a German art historian with enquiries about the antiquities market, said a report published in Der Spiegel news magazine.

The Al Qaeda terrorist, who headed the 9/11 terrorist cell from his modest apartment in the harbour district of Hamburg, called on an art expert at Goettingen University in 2000 or early 2001.

He told the professor of art history that he had access to "ancient artefacts of considerable value".

Atta wanted to know where to sell antiquities, the art historian was quoted as saying.

He mentioned in passing that he needed money to purchase an aircraft, the magazine reported, citing German BKA federal investigators.

The professor suggested him to contact a reputable auction house such as Sotheby's and never heard from him again.

Atta arrived back in Germany in early 2000 from an Al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan, where he is believed to have received instructions from Osama bin Laden to attack strategic targets in America.
There was quite a bit of coverage of this last week ... here's a representative article from the Age:

A secretive encounter with a Bedouin robber in a desert valley has led to what one Israeli archaeologist hailed as one of the most important biblical finds from the region in half a century.

Professor Chanan Eshel, an archaeologist from Tel Aviv's Bar Ilan University, said the discovery of two fragments of nearly 2,000 year-old parchment scroll from the Dead Sea area gave hope to biblical and archaeological scholars that the Judean Desert could yet yield further treasure.

"No more scrolls have been found in the Judean Desert since 1965. This encourages scholars to believe that if they bother to excavate, survey and climb they will still find things in the Judean desert. The common knowledge has been that there is nothing left to find there," Eshel said.

The two small pieces of brown animal skin, inscribed in Hebrew with verses from the Book of Leviticus, are said by Eshel to be from "refugee" caves in Nachal Arugot, a canyon near the Dead Sea, where Jews hid from the Romans in the second century.

Amir Ganor, head of the Authority's archaeological theft unit, declined comment.

Recently, several relics bearing inscriptions, including a burial box purported to belong to Jesus' brother James, were revealed as modern forgeries.

Archaeologist and Bible scholar Steven Pfann said he had not seen the fragments.

If authenticated, they would "in general not be doing more than confirming the character of the material that we have from the southern part of the Judean wilderness up until today."

But, he added, "what's interesting and exciting is that this is a new discovery...this is the first time we've seen anything from the south since the 1960s."

Eshel said he was first shown the fragments last year during a meeting in an abandoned police station near the Dead Sea.

A Bedouin who had been offered $US20,000 ($A26,660) for the fragments on the black market wanted an evaluation, an encounter that both excited and dismayed the archaeologist who has worked in the Judean Desert since 1986.

"I was jealous he had found it, not me. I was also very excited. I didn't believe I would see them again," said Eshel, who took photographs of the pieces he believed would shortly be smuggled out of the country.

But in March 2005, he discovered the Bedouin still had the pieces of scroll. Eshel said he bought them with $US3,000 ($A4,000) provided by Tel Aviv's Bar Ilan University and subsequently handed them over to the Antiquities Authority.

"Scholars do not buy antiquities. I did it because i could not see it fall apart," Eshel said

Eshel said that the fragments constitute the 15th scroll found in the area from the same period of the Jewish "Bar Kochba" revolt against the Romans, and the first to be discovered with verses from Leviticus.

More than 1,000 ancient texts - known collectively as the Dead Sea Scrolls - were discovered between 1947 and 1956 in 11 caves overlooking the western shores of the Dead Sea.
You can't tell me there isn't at least some Classics type out there who has wanted to try this ... from the Indy Star:

Take a full-size bedsheet, scissors, staples and a legend from long ago, and suddenly geometry in the middle of summer isn't so bad.

It may even be -- gasp -- fun?

Crazy as it sounds, that's exactly what students in Dave Ferris' class at Noblesville High School are saying about a project that was first a success for the legendary Princess Dido. Ferris got the idea from a math workbook that explained Virgil's story.

The princess, according to Virgil's Aeneid, like so many characters in mythology, had death brought to her doorstep when her brother killed her husband.

A plot for daytime drama, for sure.

Unlike today's soap stars, Dido picked herself up by her sandal straps and traveled to a new city, where she attempted to buy land in order to start a new life.

Outsiders, however, weren't welcome, it seems. Dido was told she and her staff could buy any land they could enclose in an ox skin.

Well, Dido wasn't born in the first century.

She and her workers sliced the ox skin into thin strips, tied them together, and as the legend had it, encircled the entire city and laid claim to all within it.

Ferris' students had no intention of taking over the high school.

But by taking an ordinary bed sheet and cutting it into 1-inch wide strips, the kids were able to stake out roughly an acre of land, in each of four groups that attempted the project.

"As soon as we got up and started cutting and stapling, the interest level just skyrocketed," Ferris said.

The major mathematical lesson the students were taught is something called the isoperimetric principle. In English, Ferris said, it means that the best way to enclose an area is with a circle.

"It's funner than what we've been doing this summer," offered Corey DeMoss, 16. "It makes a lot more sense (seeing it) than what I thought."

More sense, but not less work.

"It is a lot of work," admitted Mayra Gomez, 15, as she busily tried to untangle herself from yards and yards of blue bedsheet. "But it's way much better than (a worksheet)."

Ferris said the summer class was his test for the project.

"It's the first time I've ever done it," he said. "But because it is summer, I thought it was conducive to try this."

The students not only will study the geometrical properties of the experiment, but also write a paper when they're finished, detailing their experiences.

One of those lessons is likely to be organization.

Holly Chaudion, 17, was part of a team that had extraordinary trouble with their sheet tangling.

The fabric seemed to draw itself tighter and tighter together, despite the group's puzzle-solving efforts.

But that's part of the experience, too, Ferris said.

"Sometimes you learn more from your mistakes."
From Inside Higher Education:

It always comes as a surprise to learn that otherwise savvy and well-informed people in higher education have not read — in fact, have usually never even heard of — the compact treatise on campus politics known as Microcosmographia Academica. The short pamphlet with the grand title was written by F.M. Cornford, an eminent classicist at the University of Cambridge, and first published in 1908. After the better part of a century, it remains as sharp as ever: parts of it might have been written last week.

The Microcosmographia is written in the voice of a wise old don addressing the young academic politician. “I shall take it that you are in the first flush of ambition,” Cornford declares, “and just beginning to make yourself disagreeable.”

The most important advice is to avoid becoming a “Young Man in a Hurry” — that is, someone who believes that reforms are not just desirable, but feasible, even overdue. (That pre-feminist assumption about the gender of the reader is the most easily remedied of the book’s Edwardianisms. Its arguments apply just as well to the Young Woman in a Hurry.)

Such an individual is “afflicted with a conscience, which is apt to break out, like measles, in patches.” The typical specimen is “a narrow-minded and ridiculously youthful prig, who is inexperienced enough to imagine that something might be done before very long, and even to suggest definite things.”

Down that path, futility lies. The Young Persons in a Hurry “meet, by twos and threes, in desolate places, and gnash their teeth.”

Instead, the ambitious academic politician must understand and accept the natural order of things. “While you are young,” counsels the Microcosmographia, “you will be oppressed, and angry, and increasingly disagreeable.” That is as it must be. But with time, you will become mellower, if not exactly more pleasant.

“When you reach middle age, at five-and-thirty,” the advisor continues, “you will become complacent and, in your turn, an oppressor; those whom you oppress will find you still disagreeable; and so will all the people whose toes you trod upon in youth. It will seem to you then that you grow wiser every day, as you learn more and more of the reasons why things should not be done, and understand more fully the peculiarities of powerful persons, which make it quixotic even to attempt them without first going through an amount of squaring and lobbying sufficient to sicken any but the most hardened soul.” (From context, one can determine that Cornford’s “squaring” is today’s “networking.")

In due course, the academic politician ripens into “a powerful person” with “an accretion of peculiarities” your colleagues must at least tolerate.

“The toes you will have trodden on by this time will be as the sands on the sea-shore; and from far below you will mount the roar of a ruthless multitude of young men in a hurry.” writes Cornford. “You may perhaps grow to be aware what they are in a hurry to do. They are in a hurry to get you out of the way.”

More ...
A brief item from IOL:

Archaeologists have uncovered a tower and the remains of a town wall dating back to the fourth century on the island of Tinos in the Aegean Sea, the Greek culture ministry said on Wednesday.

The discovery, near a sanctuary for the Greek god Poseidon and his wife Amphitrite, was made during construction work for an island road.

"The tower is at least two metres high and located near the modern-day town of Tinos," archaeologist Mariza Marsari told reporters.

Marsari was on the island along with the head of the Greek central archaeological council (KAS), Christos Zahopoulos, to examine the find.

So far the sanctuary, which also dates back to the fourth century, had been the island's main cultural attraction.
From the Pasadena Star News:

Piling onto a bus headed for Irvine, Westridge School Latin students talk excitedly about the next two days even though they'll just be hanging with a self-described bunch of dead-language nerds. They are on their way to a statewide convention of Latin students at University High School where they will meet other teens who enjoy the language and its classic literature.

"It's nerdy fun and it's a convention of geeks,' says Sophie Rengarajan, an incoming senior Latin student at Westridge in Pasadena. "It's not an ordinary kind of thing.'

And it's not the annual toga party that keeps her involved, she says.

"Personally, it spurs on my excitement for studying Latin and allows me to take the excitement back to the classroom,' Rengarajan says.

Westridge is one of several schools in the Pasadena area that offer Latin classes for their students. Others include Flintridge Preparatory School, Mayfield Senior School and St. Francis High School.

Many of these schools have Junior Classical League chapters. For a annual fee, students can become members of the league and receive a membership card the Westridge Latin students fondly refer to as a "Latin nerd card.'

The league sponsors two annual conventions, the first the Southern California Amici Madness SCRAM a one-day convention each fall.

In the spring, the California Junior Classical League also sponsors the statewide two-day convention.

The convention begins with academic tests for the students followed by an assembly on Friday night and a dinner on Saturday night. There's also a race in which the classics students build their own chariots and pull it themselves.

On Saturday morning, the students and chaperones wear ancient Roman clothing. The female students wear stolae, long, roomy dresses girt with a cord and buttoned at the sleeves.

The male students wear togas, garments that fasten at the shoulder.

At both conventions, Latin students often participate in Certamen, meaning "contest' in Latin. This game requires knowledge of the Latin language as well as the culture of ancient Rome. The questions range from queries about grammar to the layout of the typical Roman residence.

Other foreign language students sometimes wonder what makes Latin students enjoy Latin so much. While many high school students choose French or Spanish classes to fulfill their foreign language requirement, the Latin students instead choose to study a dead language. To many people, this choice of study seems useless because Latin is no longer spoken.

Kristie Finch, an incoming freshman at Pepperdine University, recently graduated from Flintridge Prep. For her, Latin was not interesting because "the teacher seemed boring and very static whereas the other ones were engaging and friendly.' She chose to study Spanish.

Her brother Michael Finch, an incoming sophomore at Saint Francis High School, says that he enrolled in Latin partially because it did not require speaking and thus led to less pressure in the classroom. Once he began his Latin classes, he says "it was fun at first and then it got hard. But it was still fun.'

Westridge student Rengarajan says, "I started taking it in seventh grade when it was mandatory. But I have taken it since then because I think it is fascinating to translate works that are over 2,000 years old.'
There were quite a few items from Bulgaria in the last week ... here's the first cull (in chronological order). Our first item comes from the Sofia News Agency, and unfortunately doesn't include the dates of the artifacts:

The grave of a noble figure from the times of proto-Bulgarians that archaeologists uncovered near Shumen in eastern Bulgaria may be that of a woman.

Archeologists made the conclusion after they came across a second golden earring and do not rule out that the woman could have been the wife of a nobleman or ruler.

They may be on their way to unearth the valley of the Bulgarian khans to emulate the valley of the Thracian rulers.

The golden earrings with glass ornaments are the most spectacular find so far, along with bronze and ceramic relics.

July 22 from the Sofia News Agency:

Renowned archeologist Georgi Kitov has come upon the first findings at another Thracian mound near Kazanlak.

A ceramic jug, probably used for essential oils storage, was discovered at the Chasova Mogila.

Kitov's TEMP expedition plans to explore 14 mounds this season.

TEMP is famous for discovering some of the most sensational Thracian finds over the last several years. The team of Georgi Kitov has uncovered several Thracian tombs in the Kazanlak Kettle, which gave it the name Valley of Thracian Kings.

Last summer, the expedition discovered the sepulchre of King Sevt III, a mighty Thracian ruler.

On July 23, the SNA announced the discovery of the grave of Orpheus:

Bulgarian archaeologists say that they have discovered Orpheus' grave near the village of Tatul.

The archaeologists unearthed the entry to the Thracian temple in the Tatul sanctuary. The temple preserved the remains of a ruler that has been deified after his death.

For a second year now the team of Professor Nikolay Ovcharov continues its work at the Tatul sanctuary. It is believed to be a unique temple of mythical royal descendant and artist Orpheus.

Continuing excavation works come to confirm preliminary suggestions by archaeologists that the sanctuary at Tatul has effloresced for more than two thousand years in ancient times. It is probably the largest temple after the sanctuary of Dionisos in Perperikon, also located in the Rhodopes Mountain.

Then came a big discovery with a pile of coverage ... here's some from the Telegraph (which includes photos):

Archaeologists have unearthed 2,400-year-old treasure in a Thracian tomb in eastern Bulgaria, the director of the country's history museum said yesterday.

Professor Daniela Agre, who led the team of 15 from the Bulgarian Archaeological Institute, said the finds, made on Saturday, provided enormous clues to understanding one of Europe's most mysterious ancient people.

"The Thracians are one of the founders of European civilisation, this is important for all of us, not just Bulgaria," she said. "The period of the grave is exceptionally important. It was a peak moment in the development of Thracian culture, statesmanship and art. They had very strong contacts and mutual influences with Greece, Anatolia and Scythia."

Among the objects found were a golden laurel and ring, rhytons - silver drinking vessels shaped like horns, Greek pottery and military items including weapons and armour.

The tomb in Zlatinitsa, 180 miles east of the capital Sofia, is also extraordinary in that it has remained unopened since, Prof Agre estimated, the 4th century BC. Most Thracians tombs were looted in antiquity and those that remain untouched are vulnerable to sophisticated looters.

"This is the only way we can learn from artefacts, when they are in their original context," said Prof Vassil Nikolov, director of the Bulgarian Archaeological Institute. Prof Agre said it was the tomb of an upper-class lord or similarly powerful and wealthy leader, perhaps a governor.

"The used weapons and the arrow wounds in the bones of his horse indicated that he was a warrior. He was buried in the biggest burial mound in the region," said Prof Agre. "This was like a province of England, such as Kent, and he was the leader.

"Most of what is known about the Thracians, a nation of illiterate and loosely organised tribes, comes from the written accounts by the ancient Greeks who called them barbarians."

Scientists said the highly advanced artistry of the finds and architecture of the tombs made the Thracians more sophisticated than was thought.

Yesterday, the SNA gave us a bit of an update:

The unique Thracian treasure, discovered on Sunday in Bulgaria, was transported Tuesday to the National Historic Museum in Sofia.

Archaeologists came across the grave of an ancient ruler, believed to be a Thracian king, near the village of Zlatinitsa. The team from the National Historic Museum, headed by Prof. Daniela Agre, discovered 50 gold, silver and bronze funeral gifts.

The ruler was buried fully accoutred - with helmet, chain armor, sword and six spears. He also had a gold wreath on his head and a gold ring on his hand - symbols of king's power, Prof. Bozsidar Dimitrov, Museum's Director said.

The Thracian king was also a very tall man - approximately 190 cm of height, Prof. Agre said.

The astounding find dates back to 4th century BC and is believed to be the richest of its kind discovered so far in Bulgaria.

The treasure will be displayed to the public in the end of October, archaeologists announced.

Published by (February, 2005)

Nathan Rosenstein. _Rome at War: Farms, Families and Death in the Middle
Republic_. Studies in the History of Greece and Rome. Chapel Hill:
University of North Carolina Press, 2004. x + 339 pp. Tables, figures,
notes, bibliography, index. $45.00 (cloth), ISBN 0-8078-2839-4.

Reviewed for H-Italy by Jonathan P. Roth, Department of
History, San Jose State University.

New Perspectives on Rome's Farmer-Soldiers

_Rome at War_ is a traditional monograph, which is very much a good thing.
In this age of obfuscating postmodernizing, it is refreshing to see a
scholar challenge a generally accepted thesis, systematically and
creatively question the evidence and reason supporting it, and then
propose a more viable model. Rosenstein's work is characterized by clear
writing and an insistence on engaging all the evidence, even (in fact,
especially) that which might undermine his own thesis. More historians
need to get back to this tried and true method. However, that is not to
say _Rome at War_ is old-fashioned. The core of the argument revolves
around a sophisticated use of recent advances in demographics, and
although a background in statistics is useful, Rosenstein does an
excellent job of making the discussion clear.

The book focuses on the relationship between Rome's small holding farmers
and the increasing rate and burden of warfare in the third and second
centuries BCE. This association went both ways--the Roman military system
depended on the conscription of these farmers and, of course their
military service affected the farms themselves. The traditional view of
this relationship was that the small farmers found it more and more
difficult to survive economically because of long absences due to military
service during the Second Punic War. This led to smallholdings being
increasingly replaced by large, slave-run plantations. The reliance on
slavery supposedly made conscription more difficult, and swelled the ranks
of landless proletarians.

Archaeological evidence, primarily large-scale surveys, have thrown doubt
on this view, though such evidence is ill-suited for following economic
and social changes over a period spanning a few decades. Therefore,
Rosenstein uses contemporary demographic theory models as well as the
latest in archaeology to skillfully interpret the literary sources.
Clearly some guess work is involved in this sort of approach. For example,
casualty lists apply almost exclusively to major battles. The casualty
rate for smaller engagements and skirmishes is a mere guess, as is the
rate of death from disease. Fighting was not equal among all units--some
did not fight at all. Rosenstein's careful critique, however, raises
confidence in his method, and using numbers, as opposed to "many" or
"some," allows him to use statistical modeling to great effect. In
addition, he makes good use of comparative material throughout, drawing on
important studies of the Prussian military and of conscription in the
Confederate South, one of the only slave societies to go through the sort
of military mobilization that Rome did during the Second Punic War.

Rosenstein is scrupulous in making clear that his numbers are approximate
and generally meant to refer to the order of magnitude, but his model does
ultimately depend on the reliability of the numbers we get in ancient
sources, especially Livy. While this is, in the final analysis,
unverifiable, Rosenstein presents a powerful case that such numbers are
more reliable than is generally thought. There were accurate sources
available to the ancient historian, for example pay lists and records of
triumphs, and Rosenstein notes that Livy, despite his poor reputation, at
times seems to have been more critical of numbers than Polybius. It does
seem that especially high and low figures are the most remembered and are
over-represented in the sources, but the sort of conventional figures that
Walter Scheidel found in economic inscriptions do not appear in casualty
figures.[1] Differences in numbers reflected in our sources may have other
explanations than inaccuracy, for example they could reflect differences
in the status of casualties (citizen vs. non-citizen). One element that
comes through strongly is that we should not be hypercritical of Livy's
account of fourth and third century Rome.

The book's powerful arguments undermine the traditional explanations of
Rome's agrarian crisis. In the first place, conscription did not lead to
the abandonment of farms due to lack of labor because ancient farms
suffered from chronic over-employment and could afford to send young men
into service. A key element in Rosenstein's argument is the effect of late
marriage on Roman warfare. During the Republican period (and later) Roman
men normally married in their late twenties and early thirties to women in
their late teens. This meant that Roman men normally married, and
established farms, after their military service was over. The importance
of slave-run plantations in the second century is also analyzed.
Rosenstein advances a number of compelling critiques of the traditional
view. For example, it is clear that Rome's slave population did not grow
as rapidly as had been thought by P. A. Brunt.[2] Rome was already a slave
society before 200 B.C.E, with widespread use of slaves on relatively
small farms. Large-scale plantation slavery, however, relied on the sort
of Mediterranean wide market for Italian goods that did not exist until
the first century B.C.E. There are certainly references to enormous
numbers of slaves being brought in by second century wars (e.g. 150,000
from Epirus) but Rosenstein's in-depth analysis shows that the overall
numbers were much smaller than such passages suggest.

If the traditional view, that the economic and social problems of the late
Roman Republic are incorrect, then what does Rosenstein propose? His model
is complex and nuanced, but compelling. Rosenstein's demographic modeling
is very convincing, showing, for example, that a post-Punic War baby boom
likely occurred. He does not rely completely on modeling, however, and
always looks to both the literary and archaeological evidence, to see if
it is in congruence with his theories. He notes, for example, that many
colonies were established in the years after the Second Punic War
ended--consistent with the idea of a rising citizen population. It is not
that constant war had no effect, but that counter-intuitively, the normal
societal limits to population growth were "turned off" by the Punic Wars.
Thus there was a rapid growth of population, a post-war "baby boom" that
let to too many young men competing for too little land. The effect of
this was that smallholdings were subdivided too much to be
sustainable--thus forcing population into the cities, increasing the
proletariat. Roman writers attributed the crisis to under population
caused by conscription, but the very real rural crisis was caused by
overpopulation. Thus the Gracchan solution of distributing land was doomed
to failure; there was simply no surplus land to distribute. The problem,
Rosenstein concludes, was only solved by the massive population losses in
the Civil War and the subsequent overseas migration.

In the course of his arguments, Rosenstein makes many points important to
the military historian. His discussion of casualties and death rates is
valuable to anyone wanting to reconstruct the ancient battle. He considers
the effect of legionary armor in reducing wounds, that many diseases that
affected later armies (such as measles, plague, cholera and smallpox)
probably did not exist in Roman times. In addition, the infection rate of
wounds was lower than in gunpowder warfare. Rosenstein makes the valuable
point that the high age for men and low age of women for marriage resulted
in the Romans being able to conscript an enormous number of small-holding
farmers without negatively effecting the agricultural economy. This was a
major, if not the major, factor in thei
r imperial success. This remained
the case even when the Romans were conscripting up to 70 percent of the
free adult population for war, a number not equaled until the experience
of the Confederate States in the American Civil War.

Although the focus of the book is military history, it is also valuable
for a more general reader. In particular, the discussions of the patterns
of agriculture are illuminating. It is remarkable that so little attention
is paid to the mechanics of ancient farming, considering that it was not
only the principal activity of the vast majority of the population, but
also drove the economy of ancient states. Rosenstein is focused of this
issue for a specific reason, that is, to investigate the impact of
military conscription and service on the Roman family farm. In doing so,
however, he presents an extraordinarily clear and concise model of the
ancient farm. Students of ancient history (and others) would greatly
benefit from reading this section. Rosenstein discusses, for example,
Roman law of wills and inheritance; the agricultural calendar; and, the
point--made clearer by mathematical modeling--that ancient family
economics suffered from underemployment. Rosenstein explores other
non-military issues, for example, the ratio of marriageable men to women
in the Roman population, the types of crops planted, and the function of
both paid and unpaid labor in the ancient farm economy. Non-paid labor was
vital to the ancient farmstead and included both relatives and neighbors.
Indeed a "neighbor-helping-neighbor" labor exchange system existed, which
relied both on custom and on the exchange of gifts and services among
local farmers. Also thought provoking was the importance of public land
(_ager publicus_) to small farmers.

The traditional monograph uses appendices to present in-depth discussions
of issues relevant to the subject, but which would interfere with the flow
of the argument if included in the text. The serious student often finds
these short studies to be gems, and particularly good ones are often cited
in their own right. These appendices are generally as useful, or more so,
than short articles, and Rosenstein's are no exception. Since appendices
are not separately listed in bibliographies and databases, they are
sometimes overlooked. _Rome at War_ has seven. "The Number of Roman Slaves
in 168 B.C.," argues that the slave population at this time was smaller
than is generally assumed, namely fewer than 10 percent. "The Accuracy of
the Roman Calendar before 218 B.C.," argues that the Romans regularly
intercalated the lunar calendar to keep it in line with the seasons.
"Tenancy" is a remarkable mini-essay on the unusual nature of the
Greco-Roman citizen republic and how it effected the institution of tenant
farmers. Unlike the more normal monarchical systems of the Mediterranean
region, Rosenstein argues, there was little tenancy in Republican Rome.
"The Minimum Age for Military Service" slices through the confusion over
"inclusive counting" and shows that, for all intents and purposes, the
Romans calculated age exactly as we do. "The Proportion of _Assidui_ in
the Roman Population" shows that Brunt's estimate of only 50 percent of
the Roman adult males being _assidui_, with the rest being proletarians,
is way off. According to Rosenstein, 90 percent of Romans qualified for
military service. Here I have to take some issue--Rosenstein's figure
seems too high as Brunt's is too low. If so many qualified for service,
why even have a category of proletarians? Nevertheless, his arguments need
to be considered by anyone dealing with this issue. "The Duration of
Military Service in the Second Century B.C." is an argument that
Polybius's figure of sixteen years of service was indeed normal, as is
generally accepted, but has recently been challenged. "The Number of
Citizen Deaths as a Result of Military Service between 203 and 168 B.C."
concludes that, as a rule, generals tried to spare Roman citizens and use
Italian allies whenever possible. These appendices are truly gems of
scholarship. The reader also should not neglect to consult Rosenstein's
excellent notes, which also serve up mini-essays on important points. The
bibliography is comprehensive and up-to-date, something that cannot always
be taken for granted nowadays.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Rosenstein is the finest
practitioner of the "New Military History" in the United States. He shows
brilliantly in this, and his other books, the sorts of insights that a
fresh and open approach to Roman warfare can bring to all aspects of
ancient societies. I wish that more Romanists would abandon the sterile
acrobatics of postmodernism and return to the tried and true methods of
rigorous analysis and creative thinking that Rosenstein so ably practices.
While aimed at the scholar, _Rome at War_ is certainly appropriate, and
very useful, for graduate and upper division undergraduate courses.


[1]. Walter Scheidel, "Finances, Figures and Fiction," _Classical
Quarterly_ 46 (1996): pp. 222-38.

[2]. P.A. Brunt, _Italian Manpower_ (London: Oxford University Press,
1971), pp. 91-130.

Copyright 2005 by H-Net, all rights reserved. H-Net permits the
redistribution and reprinting of this work for nonprofit, educational
purposes, with full and accurate attribution to the author, web
location, date of publication, originating list, and H-Net: Humanities &
Social Sciences Online. For any other proposed use, contact the Reviews
editorial staff at
A brief item from Kathimerini a while back:

Construction cranes overlook the site of the Acropolis Museum, which was meant to be ready for the 2004 Athens Olympics. Authorities revealed yesterday that the project has run into another problem as the construction company, ALTE, cannot take advantage of government funding since its tax and social security obligations are not in order. The government has promised the museum will be ready by 2007 at a cost of 129 million euros.
Okay ... I've got close to 700 things clipped by me and/or sent to me by Explorator readers during the past two weeks to wade through (lots of it duplications, of course). Some of these items might be 'old news', but we'll include them anyway in no particular order (although I'm trying to go chronologically for the most part). To warm up the old digits, here's a little cartoon which might be doorworthy ....
We're back and I'll just apologize for the lack of posts ... I was in a dial-up situation and simply downloading email was a major problem (for three days I couldn't even do that until I figured out that someone had sent me a pile of photos which were preventing downloading the hundreds of other things). That said, I'm pretty zonked and won't be posting any 'real' posts until the a.m. ... I've got a pile of catching up to do, so I'll probably do 20 or so posts at a time until I'm caught up (or I might group a bunch of related posts together ... whatever the case, it'll require far more Starbucks than I have at hand ...).
An AFP piece via IOL:

An international congress devoted to the myth of the lost continent of Atlantis opened on Monday on the Greek island of Milos, attended by seismologists, geologists, geographers, philosophers, historians and archaeologists from five existing continents.

"We're not trying to establish whether Atlantis existed or not, or to agree on a definite location, which would be presumptuous for a tale that has existed for over 2 500 years," Spyros Pavlidis, a professor of palaeoseismology at the Aristotelio University of Salonika, told AFP.

"Our objective is to hear all hypotheses, take stock of all reliable data, and examine the sources of inspiration," he said.

Pavlidis, one of the congress organisers, said that contributions from some speakers were rejected for being "too fantastical."

The seismology professor personally sees in the Atlantis tale told by the fourth century BC Greek philosopher Plato "an allegory on the decline of a civilisation, with the hint of a true story at its core."

But he admits that most of the participants, who include independent researchers as well as university academics, in the three-day congress "are leaning towards believing the story, and seek to find the city."

Contribution themes range from The Quest For Atlantis: The Utopia Of An Utopia to Atlantis Was Israel.

... hmmm, I wonder what sort of journalist coverage this one will get.
ante diem iv idus iulias

ludi Apollinares (day 7) -- games instituted in 212 B.C. after consulting the Sybilline books during a particularly bad stretch in the Punic Wars; four years later they became an annual festival in honour of Apollo

100 B.C. (?) -- birth of G. Julius Caesar

67 A.D. -- martyrdom of Paulinus of Antioch

1536 -- death of Erasmus

1922 -- birth of Michael Ventris, who would decipher Linear B
abscondite @ Worthless Word for the Day

introspection @
Interesting post over at Laudator on those Kopro- names ...
I appear to have missed a whack of BMCR reviews somewhere along the way; here's one chunk (I don't know if the other chunk is easily retrievable):

Klaus Schöpsdau, Nomoi (Gesetze). Buch IV-VII. Platon Werke. Übersetzung und Kommentar. Band IX. 2.

I. J. F. de Jong, R. Nünlist, A. Bowie, Narrators, Narratees, and Narratives in Ancient Greek Literature. Studies in Ancient Greek Narrative. Volume One. Mnemosyne Supplement 257.

H.I. Flower (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Roman Republic.

Daniel Ogden, Aristomenes of Messene: Legends of Sparta's Nemesis.

J. Barnouw, Odysseus, Hero of Practical Intelligence. Deliberation and Signs in Homer's Odyssey.

David Roochnik, Retrieving the Ancients: An Introduction to Greek Philosophy.

Ian C. Storey, Arlene Allan, A Guide to Ancient Greek Drama. Blackwell Guides to Classical Literature.

Eugene Garver, For The Sake of Argument: Practical Reasoning, Character and the Ethics of Belief.

Diskin Clay (trans.), Euripides: The Trojan Women.

Lucilla Burn, Hellenistic Art from Alexander the Great to Augustus.

Rupertus Marius Danese, Titus Maccius Plautus. Asinaria. Editio Plautina Sarsinatis, 2.

John M. Cooper, Knowledge, Nature, and the Good. Essays on Ancient Philosophy.

Alan James (trans.), Quintus of Smyrna. The Trojan Epic. Posthomerica.

Michael Kulikowski, Late Roman Spain and its Cities.

Jona Lendering, Alexander de Grote. De ondergang van het Perzische rijk.

Leslie Brubaker, Julia M. H. Smith, Gender in the Early Medieval World: East and West, 300-900.

Paolo Esposito, Enrico M. Ariemma, Lucano e la tradizione epica latina. Atti del Convegno Internazionale di Studi, Fisciano-Salerno, 19-20 ottobre 2001. Università degli Studi di Salerno, Quaderni del Dipartimento di Scienze dell'Antichità.

Susanna Braund, Glenn W. Most, Ancient Anger. Perspectives from Homer to Galen.

Reinhold Merkelbach, Josef Stauber, Steinepigramme aus dem griechischen Osten. Band 4: Die Südküste Kleinasiens, Syrien und Palaestina.

Robert Leighton, Tarquinia. An Etruscan City. Duckworth Archaeological Histories Series.
I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned Novum Testamentum here before ... it's obviously a biblioblog but also touches on 'cognate fields'. Today I notice a handy little post about the Greek dual, which would be useful for those of you out there trying to wrap your mind around that particular aspect of verb conjugation.
Over at Towards an Archaeology of Iconoclasm, TM has a tantalizingly brief item on Christian iconoclasm being brought to bear on the Parthenon ...
Over the next couple of weeks we'll be off navel-gazing in the wilds of Alberta, and given that I never seem to get the 'roaming' access as advertised, there will likely be some irregularity in the blogging pattern at rogueclassicism. At a bare minimum, updates will be coming from a different time zone ... Glaukopidos (evilly?) reminds us that the next installment of Empire is on tonight but, as it happens, I'll be in an airplane and/or in transit from the airport when it is assaulting the airwaves.
10.00 p.m. |HINT| Hadrian's Wall
For the Ancient Romans, Hadrian's Wall marked the very edge of the civilized world. Completed in 128 AD, the remarkable wall, built on the orders of the Emperor Hadrian, marked the northern border of the Roman Province of Britain. Possibly inspired by traveler's tales of the Great Wall of China, it began as a single wall but evolved in the building, and by the time it was finished, it had become a complicated defensive system. The wall runs over 115 miles from the east to the west of England and provides a fascinating glimpse of military life during the Roman occupation. Vivid, authentic reconstructions, 3D graphics and animation, recent location footage, as well as interpretation, analysis, and commentary by leading authorities allow viewers to witness how the wall might have looked in its glory.

HINT = History International
Hmmm ... somehow I hae me doots about the origins of the tilde as presented in the Calcutta Telegraph:

I am a fan of Amitav Ghosh. He chooses such exotic subjects. Like the great romantic novelists, he takes us to explore the unknown and the strange. He is my Indian Conrad. I am not sure that I have read all his novels. But to my knowledge, The Hungry Tide is his first novel about Bengal. He has made even Bengal romantic in this book.

There is another novelty about The Hungry Tide: Amitav uses a tilde, my favourite diacritical mark. It is one of the two features of Portuguese which make it such an attractive language — the other being the Portuguese pronunciation of j as zh — as in leisure. I do not mean the Punjabi pronunciation, which is close to leiyur; I mean the s as in measure, and not the y as in mayor. And Amitav uses the tilde as in bãdh, “a tall embankment”, or Morichjhãpi, or search me.

I was told that this tilde was invented as a labour-saving device by the Romans. They were great ones for laws and documents; and since they did not have personal computers, they had to write out everything in longhand — and copy it any number of times. Apart from the labour of writing, every document had to be written on something. That something was papyrus, the wonder writing base from Egypt, where the papyrus reed grew on the banks of the Nile. Its rind was stripped off, its pith was laid out in strips, another layer of strips was laid on it at a right angle, and the two layers were hammered together into a sheet. It was a laborious process. Egypt had a monopoly on papyrus, and both Greece and Rome had to import it. It made a hole in their trade balances.

Then just before the birth of Christ, Egypt declared an embargo on the export of papyrus. Greek philosophers were in agony: how were they to write epics and drama without papyrus? One philosopher (literally, lover of knowledge) looked around, and inspiration came to him. All around his school, in the shadow of Acropolis, grazed cows and goats. He took the skin of a goat, cleaned it of hair and fat, and stretched it out and dried it. Thus he got parchment — a smooth, durable medium for writing which could be rolled up and shelved. After that, as long as the Greeks ate enough sheep, goats and cows, they could go on writing books without worrying about a shortage of material. If they wanted to write more books, they only had to eat more goats.

The Greeks did many experiments with the preparation of parchment. Some put lime in the water in which the hide was soaked; others put flour and salt. Some put oak gall to tan the hide; others tried out dog shit — a technology the Jews did not take to. But everyone had one suited to his tastes.

Instead of rolling them up into scrolls like the Greeks, the Romans stitched together sheets of parchment like our present-day books; they came to be known as codices. The word comes from caudex, which was a wooden stump to which petty criminals in Roman times were tied like modern cows or goats. This goes back to a time when the Romans wrote on wooden sheets covered with wax — they scratched out the letters on wax with a stylus. It was easier to scratch out straight than curvy lines; so instead of U they wrote V. If you do not believe me, go to Rome and walk around; you will find many triumphal arches the Romans built to bear me out. They wrote Marcvs Avrelivs, for example.

Even though the Greeks and the Romans ate all the animals they could, it was prudent to be economical in the use of parchment. Some people erased what was written on parchment and rewrote on it; such a manuscript, born of parsimony, was called a palimpsest. Many Roman words ended in m and n. They wrote the m or n on top of the vowel before it to save horizontal space. That is how the tilde was invented. After they departed, their descendants used it whenever they wanted to give a word a nasal twang. ...

... I was led to believe the tilde had its origins in manuscripts to indicate a letter was doubled (especially Ns)
Stanton J. Linden, ed. _The Alchemy Reader: From Hermes Trismegistus to
Isaac Newton_. New York and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.
xxvii + 260 pp. Illustrations, glossary, bibliography, index. $65.00
(cloth), ISBN 0-5217-9234-7; $24.00 (paper), ISBN 0-5217-9662-8.

Reviewed for H-Albion by Sachiko Kusukawa, Trinity
College, Cambridge.

This is a collection of English translations (previously translated
elsewhere) of primary sources relating to alchemy. The collection is
divided into three parts (ancient; Islamic and medieval; Renaissance and
seventeenth century), each part comprising nine authors. The first part
includes excerpts from the works of Hermes Trismegistus (_The Emerald
Tablet_), Plato, Aristotle, Pseudo-Democritus, the anonymous _Dialogue of
Cleopatra and the philosophers_, anonymous recipes, Zosimos of Panopolis,
Stephanos of Alexandria, and an anonymous poem; the second part has
selections from Khalid ibn Yazid, Jabir ibn Hayyan, Avicenna, Albertus
Magnus, Roger Bacon, Nicolas Flamel, Bernard Earl of Trevisan, and George
Ripley; the last part contains translations of Paracelsus, Francis
Anthony, Michael Sendivogius, Robert Fludd, Gabriel Plattes, John French,
George Starkey, Elias Ashmole, Robert Boyle, and Isaac Newton. Each
translation is prefaced with a brief biography and description of the
excerpts, with a judiciously concise bibliography (a full bibliography is
appended at the end of the volume). Although this kind of anthology would
never please the purist or the specialist (notable omissions include the
writings of Raymond Lull, Arnald of Villanova, and Marsilio Ficino), it is
nevertheless helpful to have in one volume so many standard authorities on
alchemy and their _loci classici_. It should be noted that this is a
text-based "Reader," so there is little about the actual alchemical
instruments or laboratory layouts, or on archaeological material.

_The Reader_ begins with a useful introduction, pointing out the recent
historiographic rehabilitation of alchemy as a significant part of
cultural history of pre-modern Europe. It includes an explanation of the
symbols, basic principles (to do with the relationship between art and
nature), and alchemical processes (there is further glossary at the end of
the book). As the author points out, "much alchemical writing is highly
visual" (p. 23), and to this end, fourteen alchemical figures are gathered
together at the front of the book. A study of figure 14 alongside the
excerpt from Flamel's _Exposition of the Hieroglyphical Figures_ is
rewarding, and justifies the editor's comment that it is "an excellent
example of the combining of visual and verbal mediums" (p. 123). Yet an
opportunity is missed with figures 1 and 12 from the _Musaeum hermeticum_
(not translated in _The Reader_) where the text accompanying the image
would have made an excellent introduction to the relationship between
God's creation, nature, and art--without translation, these figures are
not terribly useful in a non-Latinate classroom. Moreover, three of the
figures are from Michael Maier's works, whose texts are not included in
the volume. Alchemical images are notoriously difficult to comprehend, and
given the care with which the texts are annotated, the figures could have
been provided with some explanatory annotation or a summary translation of
the text accompanying the figures.

Throughout the volume, there are recurring themes, such as the
relationship between art and nature, divine and human creation, alchemical
principles and processes, and the ever-elusive philosopher's stone--these
suggest some common preoccupations in alchemy. The third part, in
particular, demonstrates the enduring importance of Hermes Trismegistus,
whose _Emerald Tablet_ is the first translation in this volume. On the
other hand, the selection as a whole succeeds in showing the variety of
styles and the heterogeneity of alchemical writing. Some, such as
Sendivogius's _A Dialogue Between Mercury, the Alchmyist and Nature_ and
Gabriel Plattes on how to detect a "cheat" make for compelling reading on
their own. Others, such as Zosimos's lessons and Flamel's _Exposition of
the Hieroglyphic Figures_, may turn out to be more challenging in the

This book can be used in university courses profitably, alongside Lyndy
Abraham's _A Dictionary of Alchemical Imagery_, as the back cover
suggests. I would myself favor Gareth Roberts's _The Mirror of Alchemy:
Alchemical Ideals and Images in Manuscripts and Books, from Antiquity to
the Seventeenth Century_ (1994) and, more generally, Sophie Page's _Magic
in Medieval Manuscripts_ (2004), to counter-balance the text with images.
If one is looking for more texts, continental and Latin sources are
translated by P. G. Maxwell-Stuart in his _The Occult in Early Modern
Europe: A Documentary History_ (London: Macmillan, 1999). Although the
selected texts in this _Alchemy Reader_ deserve to be studied in a course
on alchemy _sui generis_, the selections in the third part could well
serve as an excellent background for a literature course on Johnson's _The
Alchemist_, and almost half of the selections (i.e. Hermes, Plato,
Aristotle, pseudo-Geber, Avicenna, Albertus Magnus, Roger Bacon,
Paracelsus, Starkey, Boyle, and Newton) could be used as material for a
history of science course which has a focus on matter theory. This is a
useful addition to the bookshelves of students and teachers interested in

Copyright © 2005 by H-Net, all rights reserved. H-Net permits the
redistribution and reprinting of this work for nonprofit, educational
purposes, with full and accurate attribution to the author, web
location, date of publication, originating list, and H-Net: Humanities &
Social Sciences Online. For any other proposed use, contact the Reviews
editorial staff at
From the Sofia News Agency:

Archaeologists digging in the excavations of ancient Thracian tombs in Bulgaria have disclosed the first for this summer Thracian temple.

Bulgaria's archaeological expedition TEMP started its new excavations in the Valley of Thracian Kings at Ploska Mound last week.

The head of the expedition Dr Georgi Kitov said that the temple has been robbed in the ancient times. He also explained that the temple had two pillars. Data about that temple dates back to 1898 when the region was explored by the famous Skorpil brothers.

We are still in the beginning, Dr Kitov, known as the Bulgarian Indiana Jones, said.

TEMP is famous for discovering some of the most sensational Thracian finds over the last several years. The team of Georgi Kitov has uncovered several Thracian tombs in the Kazanlak Kettle, which gave it the name Valley of Thracian Kings.

Last summer, the expedition discovered the sepulchre of King Sevt III, a mighty Thracian ruler.
ante diem v idus iulias

ludi Apollinares (day 6) -- games instituted in 212 B.C. after consulting the Sybilline books during a particularly bad stretch in the Punic Wars; four years later they became an annual festival in honour of Apollo

1896 -- death of Ernst Curtius (historian/archaeologist)

1941 -- death of Sir Arthur Evans (excavator of Knossos)
magistracy @ OED

mistemious @ Worthless Word for the Day

temerarious @
Before thy shrine I kneel, an unknown worshipper,
Chanting strange hymns to thee and sorrowful litanies,
Incense of dirges, prayers that are as holy myrrh.

Ah, goddess, on thy throne of tears and faint low sighs,
Weary at last to theeward come the feet that err,
And empty hearts grown tired of the world's vanities.

How fair this cool deep silence to a wanderer
Deaf with the roar of winds along the open skies!
Sweet, after sting and bitter kiss of sea-water,

The pale Lethean wine within thy chalices!
I come before thee, I, too tired wanderer,
To heed the horror of the shrine, the distant cries,

And evil whispers in the gloom, or the swift whirr
Of terrible wings -- I, least of all thy votaries,
With a faint hope to see the scented darkness stir,

And, parting, frame within its quiet mysteries
One face, with lips than autumn-lilies tenderer,
And voice more sweet than the far plaint of viols is,

Or the soft moan of any grey-eyed lute-player.
There's a new issue of Ephemeris out on the enewstands ...
Can't remember if we've ever mentioned Bane's Demesne (which regularly seems to touch on matters classical), but the most recent post is a nice collection of photos of the Elgin/Parthenon Marbles with some interesting commentary ...
As noted on various lists (by amicus noster JM-Y) yesterday, the Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities has added a djvu-format version of L&S's Latin dictionary (under its original name 'Harper's Dictionary') ... it is not really searchable (as the version at Perseus is), but I've never been a fan of Perseus' text searches (especially in dictionaries; which doesn't seem to work as one would expect) anyway. A useful adjunct ...
From the Pasadena Star-News:

Piling onto a bus headed for Irvine, Westridge School Latin students talk excitedly about the next two days even though they'll just be hanging with a self-described bunch of dead-language nerds. They are on their way to a statewide convention of Latin students at University High School where they will meet other teens who enjoy the language and its classic literature.

"It's nerdy fun and it's a convention of geeks,' says Sophie Rengarajan, an incoming senior Latin student at Westridge in Pasadena. "It's not an ordinary kind of thing.'

And it's not the annual toga party that keeps her involved, she says.

"Personally, it spurs on my excitement for studying Latin and allows me to take the excitement back to the classroom,' Rengarajan says.

Westridge is one of several schools in the Pasadena area that offer Latin classes for their students. Others include Flintridge Preparatory School, Mayfield Senior School and St. Francis High School.

Many of these schools have Junior Classical League chapters. For a annual fee, students can become members of the league and receive a membership card the Westridge Latin students fondly refer to as a "Latin nerd card.'

The league sponsors two annual conventions, the first the Southern California Amici Madness SCRAM a one-day convention each fall.

In the spring, the California Junior Classical League also sponsors the statewide two-day convention.

The convention begins with academic tests for the students followed by an assembly on Friday night and a dinner on Saturday night. There's also a race in which the classics students build their own chariots and pull it themselves.

On Saturday morning, the students and chaperones wear ancient Roman clothing. The female students wear stolae, long, roomy dresses girt with a cord and buttoned at the sleeves.

The male students wear togas, garments that fasten at the shoulder.

At both conventions, Latin students often participate in Certamen, meaning "contest' in Latin. This game requires knowledge of the Latin language as well as the culture of ancient Rome. The questions range from queries about grammar to the layout of the typical Roman residence.

Other foreign language students sometimes wonder what makes Latin students enjoy Latin so much. While many high school students choose French or Spanish classes to fulfill their foreign language requirement, the Latin students instead choose to study a dead language. To many people, this choice of study seems useless because Latin is no longer spoken.

Kristie Finch, an incoming freshman at Pepperdine University, recently graduated from Flintridge Prep. For her, Latin was not interesting because "the teacher seemed boring and very static whereas the other ones were engaging and friendly.' She chose to study Spanish.

Her brother Michael Finch, an incoming sophomore at Saint Francis High School, says that he enrolled in Latin partially because it did not require speaking and thus led to less pressure in the classroom. Once he began his Latin classes, he says "it was fun at first and then it got hard. But it was still fun.'

Westridge student Rengarajan says, "I started taking it in seventh grade when it was mandatory. But I have taken it since then because I think it is fascinating to translate works that are over 2,000 years old.'
Something from the Western Mail which seems to have been lost in the shuffle last week:

EXPERTS digging at the site of a historic hill fort believe that they have uncovered vital clues to how people disposed of the dead in Roman times.

While Stone Age peoples erected large burial chambers to remember their dead, little is known about the ceremonies that took place during the time of the Roman empire.

Now a dig at Dinefwr Park, Llandeilo, has uncovered fragments of burnt bone that suggest cremation burials could have been under way at the site as early as the second century.

The "outstanding" site, filmed by the BBC's Time Team, was discovered in 2003 and in recent weeks the existence of two overlapping Roman forts was confirmed.

But the cremation site is what really excites archaeologists from Cambria Archaeology, which is working in partnership with the National Trust.

Dr Nikki Cook, the site's deputy director, said, "This cremation pot, which was found on the first day, was a star find because it was still intact and should tell us more about an area where so much is unknown."

The pot has been sent to laboratories for tests while the dig continues for another two weeks with public open days each Saturday.
From an account in Indian Country Today of the American Indian Nations Symposium:

Former Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell gave the opening keynote address. Asked during his college years why he wanted to participate in a government that had taken so much from Indian people, he had replied, ''Because it's the only game in town. You can hide your head in the sand or you can get active and try to make public policy better.'' Campbell served in public office for 22 years doing just that.

Campbell spoke of the ancient past, saying, ''Our ancestors were here when Socrates drank the hemlock and when Plato wrote the Iliad.''

... so, did Campbell misspeak or did the reporter mishear?
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.

HINT = History International
Issue 8.11 of our Explorator newsletter has been posted ... so too has the weekly (actually a to-the-end-of-the-month version) of our Ancient World on Television listings.
Latest description:

The gods lived on top of it and the Greeks chose to hold the first Olympic Games in history at the foot of it. It's Mount Olympus and our “Latin Lover” tells the tale with great “pernicitas”!...

... listen (gee I wish they'd make this a podcast)
Other blogs have already noted this, but I filed it away and forgot about it until a couple of days ago ... Pompilos is a sort of 'book in progress' sort of blog for a work entitled The Nautical Origin of Greek Architecture and Sculpture. Although the book is in Spanish, there is an English 'plan of the book' available. It's an interesting idea -- that Greek temples and the like got their start from boats being stored upside down; I'm not sure the ancient Greeks ever stored boats this way, but the work apparently deals with that objection.
Plenty of ClassCon in this story about how the BTK killer was caught ... from the Wichita Eagle:

The retired detective had a warning for Bob Beattie as they discussed the case of the BTK serial killer in May 2003.

BTK was likely dead or in prison, the detective said -- but if he's still out there somewhere, news that Beattie was writing a book about Wichita's most notorious murderer "could provoke him into resurfacing."

Two things drove BTK, the detective said: the perversions that led to the murders, and the hunger for attention that prompted him to send letters to the media.

Beattie and his wife recognized the danger if he went ahead with the book. They could become targets of a known killer." We knew there is a risk," he said. "We talked about it very frankly.

"It was opening Pandora's chest, and you weren't sure what was going to fly out."

But they decided to go ahead with the book anyway -- even if BTK reappeared.

Beattie gave an interview to The Eagle's Hurst Laviana for a story about the 30th anniversary of BTK's first murders. It was published Jan. 17. He also agreed to speak about his book at the March 20 meeting of the Wichita Retired Police Officer's Association.

Former deputy chief Jack Bruce said a copy of the association's newsletter was found in the filing cabinet of Dennis Rader's office in Park City Hall. On March 17, three days before Beattie's speech, Rader mailed a letter to The Eagle containing copies of Vicki Wegerle's driver's license and Polaroid photos taken of her after she was killed on Sept. 16, 1986.

The next week, Wichita police confirmed that the letter was authentic. After years of silence, BTK had resurfaced.

"He always wanted attention," Beattie said. "He wanted attention so much that he risked being caught."

The same detective who warned Beattie that his book might smoke BTK out from hiding predicted that if he ever did reappear he would be caught "within 10 days," Beattie said.

When that didn't happen, "I started becoming concerned," he said. "I had to start thinking about the possibility they may never catch this guy. We might have another Jack the Ripper."

As weeks, then months, went by, the tension built on Beattie.

"He knew who I was. I didn't know who he was.

"I was his nemesis -- we were adversaries," Beattie said of BTK. "He was writing 'The BTK Story' and I was writing about the hunt for BTK."

Beattie and his wife were careful about where they went and when they went there. Retired police officers began shadowing them to keep them safe.

Late last year, Beattie noticed a Park City compliance vehicle drive past his house. At the time, he didn't give it a second thought because a retired dogcatcher lives down his block.

Now, he knows better. Dennis Rader was a compliance officer in Park City from 1991 until his arrest Feb. 25.

"Police have not told me anything to make me believe he planned to make any attack or anything," Beattie said, "but it wouldn't surprise me if he had driven by just to see where I lived."

Last October, Beattie inserted a quote from Herodotus into his manuscript for what became "Nightmare in Wichita: The Hunt for the BTK Strangler."

"All arrogance will reap a rich harvest in tears. God calls men to a heavy reckoning for overweening pride."

"The ancient Greeks taught that the gods punished hubris," Beattie said Saturday. "I thought that if BTK continued to communicate, he would eventually be caught."

Rader has confirmed that learning about Beattie's book prompted him to resurface after 25 years of silence, saying that Beattie was likely "gloating" now.

"I think that says more about Rader, like I won and he lost," Beattie said.

Bill Mohr, secretary and treasurer of the retired police officers' association, said he has no doubt Beattie's book and the newsletter prompted Rader to start communicating again with the media and police.

"I think I can almost guarantee it," said Mohr, who worked as a dispatcher.

That, in turn, ultimately led to BTK's arrest.

On the first Saturday of July, the association gave Beattie its 2005 Distinguished Associate Member Award in appreciation for his "indispensable role" in the hunt for BTK.

Beattie said he felt honored. But his focus, he said, has always been on the people who died and the law enforcement officers who worked long and hard to bring BTK to justice.

... not sure about Beattie's background other than the fact he's a lawyer. I wonder if he has some Classics background?
From the Colorado Daily:

Graduate students from CU-Boulder produced an exhibit titled "Wining, Dining, and Dying in Ancient Greece," a selection of vases from Ancient Greece that is part of an intense, semester-long study for the Special Collections Department in Norlin Library.

Each student has been responsible for two or more pots owned by CU's Museum of Natural History, has done research into the pots' shapes, decorations, and functions. They have also researched into additional, related aspects of Greek social and ceramic history.

The graduate students that participated in the research included Megan Aikman, Jessika Akmenkalns, Jeff Gingras, Gina Hander, Heather McKeown, Crystal Rome, Stephanie Ann Smith, Sarah Thomas, and Summer Trentin.

A digital panoramic view and detailed information on each piece of artwork can be seen on the Classics Department Web site ( The Web site also explains the importance of studying artwork to gain information about the historic culture.

"The fact is that this exhibit is a really excellent example of the kind of stuff this university is all about," said Deborah Hollis, the faculty director of the Special Collections Office.

The exhibit is open to visitors through September from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. It is in room N345 of Norlin Library.

"I hope people come and learn about these great pots," said Hollis. "But it is also important that they not only physically come to the library but look at the Web site, which is really amazing. It is within the Classic Department, yet it works with new technology."

Dusinberre may be writing a paper about the exhibit for the Teaching with Technology seminar at CU, which will take place Aug.10 through 11.

The exhibit has been made by a collaborative effort of the CU Museum of Natural History, the Special Collections Department of the University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries, the Classics Department, and ITS-Graphics. Support was provided by a grant from the President's Fund for the Humanities.

"It's really an amazing production," said Hollis. "The Special Collections Department is the stage, Dusinberre is the director and the graduate students are the actors."
Not sure if we've mentioned this piece from Commercial Appeal (but it has today's date on it):

For its ninth time, St. Mary's participated in the Tennessee Junior Classical League (TJCL) convention, which was held at Rossview High School in Clarksville.

Fifty-four students from St. Mary's attended the convention with Upper School Latin teacher Jenny Fields and Middle School Latin teacher Dr. Patrick McFadden.

Several Germantown residents were winners.

Convention competitions included all sorts of events, like academic tests and costume, essay and photography contests.

Overall, St. Mary's took home the following group awards: First place in Scrapbook Sweepstakes, first in Spirit, second in Group Costume, second in Skit, second in 880 Relay, third in Publicity, fifth in Scrapbook, and fifth in Banner.

The following St. Mary's students won individual awards:

Alix House of Germantown in Dramatic Latin (Advanced Prose) 3, Essay 1 and Acrylic and Oil 5;

Lavanya Mittal of Germantown in English Oratory 2 and Acrylic and Oil 4;

Annie Ostrow of Germantown in 100 IM 1

Formed in 1955, the TJCL and its parent organization, the National Junior Classical League, are nonprofit fraternal organizations whose purpose is to promote appreciation and enthusiasm for studying Latin and the classical civilizations of Greece and Rome. This year's convention had almost 800 delegates from nearly 30 schools -- all there to celebrate the classics.

In other school "Latin news," St. Mary's announced its newest inductees to the National Latin Honor Society. New members include Alix House from Germantown.

St. Mary's students also garnered awards on the National Latin Exam. Silver medal maxima cum laude winners and Germantown residents include Alix House, Missy Johnson and Annie Ostrow. Magna cum laude winners include Lavanya Mittal. Cum laude winners and Germantown residents include Sasha Joyce and Catherine Vaughn.
From Moscow Times:

Dropped off by helicopter on a remote plateau in the Altai Mountains, the archaeologists were ready to spend the next month cut off from the outside world, to cook their own simple food and to engage in weeks of backbreaking physical labor. But this would be no routine dig for the team of researchers.

It was 1990, and the team was investigating the remnants of Pazyryk culture, an ancient society that had left huge burial mounds in the Ukok Plateau, a mountainous region about 2 1/2 kilometers above sea level. Most of the burial mounds, however, had been pillaged by grave robbers long ago. So when the team discovered an untouched site, the stage was set for a series of astonishing discoveries. In 1993, archaeologist Natalya Polosmak made an exceptionally lucky choice of a burial mound for excavation. Not only had it been left untouched by grave robbers, but it had escaped the forces of time itself. There, preserved in permafrost, lay the mummified, tattooed body of a woman who had lived approximately 2,500 years ago and had been given a lavish funeral. Two years later, another team -- led by Vyacheslav Molodin, Polosmak's husband and a fellow archaeologist -- found the frozen body of a man. Both mummies were found in a sparsely populated part of the Altai Republic, close to Russia's borders with China, Kazakhstan and Mongolia.

Last month, these decade-old discoveries were brought back into the spotlight when President Vladimir Putin gave the two archaeologists the State Prize in Science and Technology for their research.

Molodin and Polosmak, who are both professors at the Novosibirsk Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, were not the first experts to study Pazyryk culture. Pazyryk burial mounds, or kurgans, were discovered in the 1920s by the Soviet archaeologists Sergei Rudenko and Mikhail Gryaznov. The Pazyryks were contemporaries of the ancient Scythians, a nomadic people whose traces have been found from Mongolia to the Black Sea, and experts believe that the two cultures were related. Unusually for a cattle-breeding, migratory culture, the Pazyryks borrowed the use of textiles from their settled contemporaries, importing silks and dyes that couldn't be produced in the Altai region. In fact, textile evidence from the female mummy suggests that the Pazyryks had trade links with societies as far away as India.

In a set of recent telephone interviews, Molodin and Polosmak explained how their finds had helped scholars understand Pazyryk culture. The permafrost had preserved objects that archaeologists can't usually study, including "articles made of wood and cloth, and the biological objects themselves, the mummies," Molodin said.

Once unearthed from the frozen gravesite, these unique objects had to be treated immediately with chemicals. "Imagine wood that's 2,000 years old," Polosmak said. "When it's exposed to air and dryness, it might immediately crumble. It needs to be placed into the right environment. We didn't lose a single object."

The artifacts provided boundless opportunities for a variety of researchers, ranging from chemists and physicists to ethnographers and anthropologists. "Our geneticists have conducted gene analysis, and as a result we can discuss the ethnogenesis of the Pazyryk population," Molodin said. "Or, for example, through the hair of these people we can study their nutrition using chemical and physical methods."

There was even useful information in the fact that the first burial site to be discovered had escaped robbery. The kurgan containing the female mummy had actually housed two graves, one older and one newer, with the newer grave situated at the entrance to the main burial chamber. The robbers who had pillaged the grave "found the later burial, robbed it and decided that was it. That saved the main burial, which was below," Polosmak said.

The fact that the grave robbers were near-contemporaries of the deceased suggests a turbulent set of relationships between the nomadic peoples who once populated the area. Ancient tomb raiders violated graves not just for the sake of the spoils, Polosmak said, but also to demonstrate their victory. "It was an act that showed that a certain people had been defeated," she explained. Sometimes, looters were moved by their beliefs in the supernatural. "In their eyes, an object that had been in a grave possessed some kind of magic power," she said.

The tattoos on the mummies' bodies -- a unique discovery in the history of archaeology -- portrayed animals and fabulous creatures, providing insight into the arts and beliefs of the Pazyryk people. "Tattoos are a semiotic system, and there is the most profound meaning in the themes represented by the tattoos," Molodin said. "The analysis of the themes can say a lot about the mythology, about the art, because we also find these themes in Scythian-Siberian mythological art."

Although the Ukok Plateau remains a promising destination for archaeologists, digs there were discontinued in 1996. The government of the Altai Republic stopped the digs after local residents began objecting to the uncovering of the ancient graves. Opponents of the digs accused the archaeologists of various crimes, from stealing the republic's treasures to unleashing primordial curses. Regional authorities have received petitions demanding the return of the mummies to the burial site.

Molodin and Polosmak said that negative community reactions are something archaeologists have to be ready for. The rallying around the "Ukok Princess," as the Russian media dubbed the female mummy, was fuelled by myths, they said. The archaeologists pointed out that the so-called "Princess" wasn't really a princess; in fact, the furnishings of her burial mound peg her at a medium social level. And nothing points to her having been a progenitor of the modern Altaian population, as some profess her to be.

"This is modern myth-making," Molodin said, adding testily that archaeologists were often blamed for political events or natural catastrophes. "Archaeologists are to blame for all the troubles."

Polosmak said that the reaction might have doomed whatever clues about Pazyryk culture remained on the plateau after their excavations. "When we were digging, we saw no one the whole summer," she said. "People didn't know about this place. It had no attraction either for tourists locals. Now it's a pilgrimage destination."

Following the discoveries, tourists, shamans and would-be grave robbers poured to the site of the digs, which had only been used as winter pastureland for thousands of years, Polosmak said. "We were scouting there in 1996 and saw one kurgan near where our camp used to be that we didn't dig. It's simply torn up -- everything's been dug up and tossed about," she complained.

Ironically, the looters digging up Pazyryk graves will walk away with nothing, since the graves contain no treasure in the literal sense of the word. All the artifacts that are kept intact by permafrost must be processed immediately to save them from destruction, and amateurs simply do not have the skills or the equipment. "If they only knew what hard labor it was to obtain these objects," Polosmak said.

In fact, exhausting physical labor was involved at every step of the way. Polosmak underscored that an archaeologist's work is far from the romantic, Indiana Jones-inspired image that many people have. Archaeology students who had been with her during the original Ukok trip took a month to dismantle the huge mound of rocks by hand, eating camp food and weathering the heat, cold and wind typical of a high-altitude plateau. When they had finally uncovered the burial, their month of practical training was over. Polosmak had invited them to stay on another month, but by then "they were so tired that they were no longer interested in what happened next," she said.

Discoveries such as the Pazyryk mummies come rarely in archaeology, but Polosmak said that they make the entire enterprise worth it. "Imagine a crypt that's completely untouched," she said. "It opens up and you see things that were put there about 2,000 years ago, that were not seen by anyone but the people who put them there."

Polosmak believes that the best archaeology happens when researchers can relate to their finds on a human level. Then, she said, "archaeology becomes what it should be -- not the study of artifacts, but the study of people who are gone."

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography life of the day is none other than Hadrian. You might have to access it via this link if you are not accessing it on Sunday.
I can't remember if I mentioned back in March the publication of Labyrinth 85; here's the online articles:

Roman Portugal, L.A. Curchin

Greek has a Word for it: "Hairache" and Other Useful Terms, R. Faber

The Ancient Spice Trade, Part IV: Rome and the Early Middle Ages, C. Mundigler

Resource Depletion, Despotism and the End of Empires, Part I, D. Porreca

Scapegoat Ritual in Ancient Greece, C. Vester

... all available online and for free! (yay!)
Under the unfortunate headline "Bulgarian Archeologists Dip in Earth's Bowels", this from the Sofia News Agency:

Bulgaria's archaeological expedition TEMP started its new excavations in the Valley of Thracian Kings at Ploska Mound.

The information emerged from its chief, Dr Georgi Kitov. The archeological site is believed to hide in its bowels an unexplored Thracian shrine.

It is too early to be able to predict what we will find, Kitov said. All of us have higher expectations, given the last expeditions' results, he explained.

TEMP is famous for discovering some of the most sensational Thracian finds over the last several years. The team of Georgi Kitov has uncovered several Thracian tombs in the Kazanlak Kettle, which gave it the name Valley of Thracian Kings.

Last summer, the expedition discovered the sepulchre of King Sevt III, a mighty Thracian ruler.
9.00 p.m. |HINT| Line of Fire: The Roman Conquests
Although Caesar invaded it in 54 BC, Britain wasn't conquered until 43 AD when Claudius established Roman garrisons at Lincoln, York, and Chester. Viewers go inside this savage period of British history and enter the battlefield from an unique perspective--of those who fought and died there. And a bloody period it proved to be for the Romans had not reckoned on the ferocious campaign mounted against the all-powerful Legions under the leadership of the legendary Queen Boudicca.

HINT = History International
From EDP24:

Norfolk acted as a hub of resistance against Roman occupation, new analysis of archaeological finds has revealed.

But the empire's military might eventually eclipsed native East Anglians in a brutal crackdown described as a "lost holocaust".

A sprawling Celtic 'proto-city', as significant to its Iceni occupants as modern-day London, sprawled across eight square miles of West Norfolk, almost certainly providing a regular home to Boudicca.

David Thorpe, from the Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project (Sharp), is excavations director for the site - the exact location of which is not being disclosed.

Speaking yesterday, he explained the team have discovered burnt fragments of wattle and daub and stains in the earth. They believe these are the remains of a roundhouse which was razed to the ground by Roman invaders almost two millennia ago.

Much of this evidence has been available over the nine years excavations have taken place. But it is only now that the team feels confident enough outline their analysis in full after the conclusion of excavations.

Mr Thorpe said: "It seems there was a thriving population in the area and then, in about 60 or 70AD, the record completely stops. There is also a lack of Roman finds in the area.

"When you compare this to other areas across the country, it is extremely unusual. Most communities were conquered or peacefully accepted Roman rule so there are Roman finds.

"It seems this was a strong-minded population doing everything it could to resist the Roman empire - probably the last place to remain independent.

"But the Romans did not tolerate insurgency and they would have stamped down on it hard, destroying the settlements and selling the population into slavery."

As the Celts left no written records, much of the story remains informed speculation.

But structures unearthed include signs of palisaded boundaries separating areas and an oval of banks and ditches suggesting a fortress. Finds of exquisitely crafted jewelry suggest this would have been a centre for the Iceni's aristocratic caste, hinting at Boudicca's regular presence.

When the Romans invaded there was initially little conflict in East Anglia. A lack of Roman finds suggests the Iceni not only resisted their rule but also refused to trade with the empire in a form of ancient anti-globalisation.

The Iceni later revolted, joining forces with the Trinovantes of Essex. Their efforts were ultimately doomed.

"The Romans had contempt for the Iceni as barbarians who they believed by definition would always lose," said Mr Thorpe.

Sharp began in 1996 and its work has included the extensive excavation of a Saxon cemetery in the valley of the Heacham. For more information visit
Another Classically-inspired poem by Sara Teasdale ... entitled Helen of Troy:

Wild flight on flight against the fading dawn
The flames' red wings soar upward duskily.
This is the funeral pyre and Troy is dead
That sparkled so the day I saw it first,
And darkened slowly after. I am she
Who loves all beauty -- yet I wither it.
Why have the high gods made me wreak their wrath --
Forever since my maidenhood to sow
Sorrow and blood about me? Lo, they keep
Their bitter care above me even now.
It was the gods who led me to this lair,
That tho' the burning winds should make me weak,
They should not snatch the life from out my lips.
Olympus let the other women die;
They shall be quiet when the day is done
And have no care to-morrow. Yet for me
There is no rest. The gods are not so kind
To her made half immortal like themselves.
It is to you I owe the cruel gift,
Leda, my mother, and the Swan, my sire,
To you the beauty and to you the bale;
For never woman born of man and maid
Had wrought such havoc on the earth as I,
Or troubled heaven with a sea of flame
That climbed to touch the silent whirling stars
And blotted out their brightness ere the dawn.
Have I not made the world to weep enough?
Give death to me. Yet life is more than death;
How could I leave the sound of singing winds,
The strong sweet scent that breathes from off the sea,
Or shut my eyes forever to the spring?
I will not give the grave my hands to hold,
My shining hair to light oblivion.
Have those who wander through the ways of death,
The still wan fields Elysian, any love
To lift their breasts with longing, any lips
To thirst against the quiver of a kiss?
Lo, I shall live to conquer Greece again,
To make the people love, who hate me now.
My dreams are over, I have ceased to cry
Against the fate that made men love my mouth
And left their spirits all too deaf to hear
The little songs that echoed through my soul.
I have no anger now. The dreams are done;
Yet since the Greeks and Trojans would not see
Aught but my body's fairness, till the end,
In all the islands set in all the seas,
And all the lands that lie beneath the sun,
Till light turn darkness, and till time shall sleep,
Men's lives shall waste with longing after me,
For I shall be the sum of their desire,
The whole of beauty, never seen again.
And they shall stretch their arms and starting, wake
With "Helen!" on their lips, and in their eyes
The vision of me. Always I shall be
Limned on the darkness like a shaft of light
That glimmers and is gone. They shall behold
Each one his dream that fashions me anew; --
With hair like lakes that glint beneath the stars
Dark as sweet midnight, or with hair aglow
Like burnished gold that still retains the fire.
Yea, I shall haunt until the dusk of time
The heavy eyelids filled with fleeting dreams.

I wait for one who comes with sword to slay --
The king I wronged who searches for me now;
And yet he shall not slay me. I shall stand
With lifted head and look within his eyes,
Baring my breast to him and to the sun.
He shall not have the power to stain with blood
That whiteness -- for the thirsty sword shall fall
And he shall cry and catch me in his arms,
Bearing me back to Sparta on his breast.
Lo, I shall live to conquer Greece again!
The Times has an interesting piece on a recently-discovered mosaic from Palmyra, which appears to be a "template" for later depictions of St. George:

THE earliest known template for the image of St George slaying the dragon has been found in Syria, archaeologists believe.

A mosaic floor dating from approximately AD260 depicting the figure who became the patron saint of England has been found in the city of Palmyra in the Syrian desert. Experts say that the portrait is one of the finest classical mosaics yet uncovered and may even be the source of the St George legend.

George was reputedly a Roman soldier, martyred in Palestine some 1,700 years ago. The mosaic shows Bellerophon, a hero in Greek mythology, killing a chimera, and it was found in what appears to have been a dining room in Palmyra.

The warrior is wearing a wide-rimmed Roman helmet with a red streamer and is flanked by two eagles bringing wreaths of victory. Bellerophon is riding the winged Pegasus and thrusting a spear down into the lion’s head of the chimera, while its two other heads, a snake forming its tail and a goat on its back, hiss up at him.

Unusually, he has trousers and an embroidered tunic, the costume of Palmyra’s Sassanian Persian neighbours, and an open-sleeved coat of the sort worn by Palmyrene aristocrats.

The city was an outpost of Roman culture, located midway between the Mediterra- nean and the Euphrates, and its society reflected this rich blend of influences, stimulated by trade across the desert.

Michal Gawlikowski, the Polish archaeologist, said in the magazine Current World Archaeology: “Dozens of late Roman pavements representing Bellerophon are known from the western provinces, but this is the only one found in the Near East.”

St George was martyred in about 303 and the Bellerophon design provided a ready-made image to illustrate his emerging legend.

Dr Gawlikowski saw a political reading in the mosaic as well, with the chimera representing Palmyra’s Sassanian attackers, who were defeated by Odainat, a local ruler, in 259 in an otherwise disastrous struggle — even the Roman Emperor Valerian was captured and made to serve as a footstool. Odainat was a Roman senator, although Dr Gawlikowski said it is doubtful that he ever left Syria. After his victory, Odainat proclaimed himself “King of Kings”.

After Odainat’s death in 267, Zenobia, his wife, seized control of an area extending as far as Egypt, but was eventually captured by the Emperor Aurelian and imprisoned.

A second panel in the mosaic, which measures some 30ft by 18ft but occupies only part of the grand dining room, shows a mounted archer dressed like Bellerophon shooting a tiger, while another is trampled by his horse.

... a photo accompanies the original article.
An excerpt from a lengthy piece in the Peace Journal:

As others have noted, America's transition from republic to empire is remarkably reminiscent of Rome's. The irony is that as the United States inevitably becomes less democratic - it will also become less elitist. The mediocre and inapt peripatetic representatives of the popular will be replaced not by disinterested technocrats and expert civil servants but by usurpers, power brokers, interest groups, and criminal-politicians.

The Founding Fathers looked to Rome as a model. It is often forgotten that Rome has been a republic (509-27 BC) for as long as it has been an empire (27 BC - 476 AD). Hence the Senate, the bicameral legislature, the institutions of jury and professional judges, the interlocking system of checks and balances and other fixtures of American life.

Rome, like the USA, was a multicultural, multiethnic and inclusive melting pot. The family and religion - the mainstays of the American value system - were also the pivots of Roman society. Their work ethic was "Protestant" and their conduct "Calvinistic": frugality, self-reliance, steadfastness, seriousness, "fides" (good faith and reliability) were considered virtues.

From 287 BC, Rome was a full-fledged democracy and meritocracy - one's acquired wealth rather than one's arbitrary birth determined one's place in life. The Roman takeover of Italy is reminiscent of the expansion of the United States during the 19th century. Later, Rome claimed to be "liberating" Greek cities (from Macedonian domination and other Middle Eastern tyrants) - but then proceeded to establish a series of protectorates throughout Asia Minor, Greece and today's Israel, Palestine, Syria, Egypt and North Africa.

As Rome's sphere of interests and orbit of alliances widened to include ever growing segments of the world, conflicts became inevitable. Still, early Roman historians, patriotic to a fault, always describe Roman wars as "just" (i.e., in "self-defense"). Rome was very concerned with international public opinion and often formed coalitions to attack its foes and adversaries. It then typically turned on its erstwhile allies and either conquered or otherwise absorbed them into its body politic.

Roman commanders and procurators meddled in the internal affairs of these territories. Opposition - in Carthage, Corinth and elsewhere - was crushed by overwhelming force. Lesser powers - such as Pergamum - learned the lesson and succumbed to Roman hegemony. Roman culture - constructed on Greek foundations - permeated the nascent empire and Latin became the Lingua Franca. But, as Cato the Elder forewarned, foreign possessions and the absence of any martial threat corrupted Rome. Tax extortion, bribery, political machinations, personality cults, and moral laxity abounded. Income equality led to ostentatious consumption of the few, contrasted with the rural and urban destitution of the many. A growing share of gross domestic product was appropriated for the state by the political class. Rome's trade deficit ballooned as its farmers proved unable to compete with cheap imports from the provinces.

A whole class of businessmen - the equites, later known as the equesterian order (the equivalent of today's "oligarchs") - lucratively transacted with the administration. When erstwhile state functions - such as tax collection - were privatized, they moved in and benefited mightily. The equites manipulated the commodities markets, lent money at usurious rates, and colluded with Senators and office holders.

Sallust, the Roman historian, blamed the civil wars that followed on this wealth disparity. Cato the Elder attributed them to moral decadence. Cicero thought that the emergence of the armed forces and the "mob" (the masses) as political players spelt doom for Senatorial, republican Rome. Some are comparing the relentlessly increasing weight of the Pentagon since 1941 to the rise to prominence of the military in republican Rome. Yet, this is misleading. The role of the army in the Roman republic was enshrined in the centuriate assembly (the army as a voting collective) and the consuls, magistrates in chief were, invariably, former army generals. Though many American presidents, starting with George Washington, were former generals - the ethos of the United States is individualistic, not military.

Thus, when the tribune Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus (133 BC) embarked on a land reform, he was opposed by the entrenched interests of the nobility (the optimi). Undeterred, through a series of piecemeal, utterly legal steps, Tiberius Gracchus sought to transform himself into a despot and neutralize the carefully constructed system of checks and balances that sustained republican Rome. The Senators themselves headed the mob that assassinated him. This was the fate of his no less radical brother, Gaius, ten years later.

These upheavals gave rise to the populares - self-appointed populist spokesmen for the disenfranchised "common man" in the Senate. They were vehemently confronted by the nobility-backed Senators, the optimates. To add instability to earthquake, Roman generals began recruiting property-less volunteers to serve as mercenaries in essentially private armies. Lucius Cornelius Sulla, an impoverished aristocrat turned army commander, actually attacked Rome itself twice. To secure popular support, Roman politicians doled out tax cuts, free entertainment, and free food. Ambitious Romans - such as Julius Caesar - spent most of their time electioneering and raising campaign finance, often in the form of 'loans" to be repaid with lucrative contracts and sinecures once the sponsored candidate attained office. Long-established, prominent families - political dynasties - increased their hold on power from one generation to the next.

Partisanship was rampant. Even Cicero - a much-admired orator and lawyer - failed to unite the Senators and equites against assorted fanatics and demagogues. The Senate kept repeatedly and deliberately undermining the interests of both the soldiery and the equites, Rome's non-Senatorial businessmen.

This clash of vested interests and ulterior motives gave rise to Gaius Julius Caesar, a driven and talented populist. Caesar crossed the Rubicon, the river that separated Gaul from Italy, and subdued a rebellious and obstructive Senate. He was offered by an intimidated establishment, the position of dictator for life which he accepted. The republic was over. Life in Rome improved dramatically with the introduction of autocracy. Roman administration was streamlined and became less corrupt. Food security was achieved. Social divisions healed. The republic was mourned only by the discarded ancien regime and by intellectuals. Rome the city-state was no more. It has matured into an Empire.

And now, to Rome's crippled successor, Byzantium.

... more
10.00 p.m. |DCIVC| Lost Treasures of the Ancient World: Greece

DCIVC = Discovery Civilization
ante diem viii idus iulias

ludi Apollinares (day 3) -- games instituted in 212 B.C. after consulting the Sybilline books during a particularly bad stretch in the Punic Wars; four years later they became an annual festival in honour of Apollo

rites in honour of Vitula, possibly honouring a divinity who supposedly presided over victory celebrations ... or perhaps she had something to do with heifers

1851 -- birth of Arthur Evans (excavator of Knossos)
stet @ Wordsmith

somnolent @
One of the things I've had on my 'to do' list for ages has been to track down Classically-inspired poetry and post a bit every now and then ... here's a poem called Sappho by Sara Teasdale (Project Gutenberg text):

The twilight's inner flame grows blue and deep,
And in my Lesbos, over leagues of sea,
The temples glimmer moonwise in the trees.
Twilight has veiled the little flower face
Here on my heart, but still the night is kind
And leaves her warm sweet weight against my breast.
Am I that Sappho who would run at dusk
Along the surges creeping up the shore
When tides came in to ease the hungry beach,
And running, running, till the night was black,
Would fall forespent upon the chilly sand
And quiver with the winds from off the sea?
Ah, quietly the shingle waits the tides
Whose waves are stinging kisses, but to me
Love brought no peace, nor darkness any rest.
I crept and touched the foam with fevered hands
And cried to Love, from whom the sea is sweet,
From whom the sea is bitterer than death.
Ah, Aphrodite, if I sing no more
To thee, God's daughter, powerful as God,
It is that thou hast made my life too sweet
To hold the added sweetness of a song.
There is a quiet at the heart of love,
And I have pierced the pain and come to peace.
I hold my peace, my Cleis, on my heart;
And softer than a little wild bird's wing
Are kisses that she pours upon my mouth.
Ah, never any more when spring like fire
Will flicker in the newly opened leaves,
Shall I steal forth to seek for solitude
Beyond the lure of light Alcaeus' lyre,
Beyond the sob that stilled Erinna's voice.
Ah, never with a throat that aches with song,
Beneath the white uncaring sky of spring,
Shall I go forth to hide awhile from Love
The quiver and the crying of my heart.
Still I remember how I strove to flee
The love-note of the birds, and bowed my head
To hurry faster, but upon the ground
I saw two winged shadows side by side,
And all the world's spring passion stifled me.
Ah, Love, there is no fleeing from thy might,
No lonely place where thou hast never trod,
No desert thou hast left uncarpeted
With flowers that spring beneath thy perfect feet.
In many guises didst thou come to me;
I saw thee by the maidens while they danced,
Phaon allured me with a look of thine,
In Anactoria I knew thy grace,
I looked at Cercolas and saw thine eyes;
But never wholly, soul and body mine,
Didst thou bid any love me as I loved.
Now I have found the peace that fled from me;
Close, close, against my heart I hold my world.
Ah, Love that made my life a lyric cry,
Ah, Love that tuned my lips to lyres of thine,
I taught the world thy music, now alone
I sing for one who falls asleep to hear.
Cleaning up my bookmarks t'other day reminded me that I've meant to regularly post a link to Done With Mirrors regular Thursday feature Carnival of the Etymologies ...
Cristina Viano, ed., Aristoteles Chemicus: Il IV libro dei "Meteorologica" nella tradizione antica e medievale International Aristotle Series 1

Reviel Netz, The Works of Archimedes Translated into English, together with Eutocius' Commentaries, and Critical Edition of the Diagrams. Vol. 1: The Two Books On the Sphere and the Cylinder

Francesca Rochberg, The Heavenly Writing: Divination, Horoscopy, and Astronomy in Mesopotamian Culture

David Furley ed., From Aristotle to Augustine. Routledge History of Philosophy 2

[all are pdf; the Aestimatio site is another which has a format which really doesn't lend itself well to promoting by rc; think of your readers! They have to scroll to the bottom of the page to get the most recent material!!!!]
If you're wondering what's happening in the Big Roman Dig (and can't wait until the weekend, when I'll gather everything together in Explorator), there's a nice piece in the Guardian ....
I think we had hints of this sort of thing ... from the Guardian:

A rare statue of the ancient Thracian hero Orpheus has been unearthed in Bulgaria, near a place archaeologists say might house the hero's tomb, the leader of excavations said.

The 9cm (3.5in) bronze statue, dating from the 1st or 2nd century AD, was found in the village of Tatul, 200 miles south-east of Sofia, an archaeologist, Nikolai Ovcharov, said.

The statue, which was perfectly preserved, was found a few days ago by villagers, and handed to archaeologists working on the site, he said.

He added that the find appeared to confirm his hypothesis that the Tatul site was one of the main sanctuaries for Orpheus worshippers in the ancient world.

"The statue depicts a naked athletic god with a lyre in his left hand. Most probably it's a statue of Orpheus, which makes it a rare find."

According to myth Orpheus was a son of Apollo and a godlike poet and musician. After his death a cult developed around his figure, and Thracians seem to have worshipped him as a god, historians say.

... hmmm ... the circumstances of this one is somewhat suspicious ("found ... by villagers"). Bit of a rivalry between Kitov and Ovcharov?
An article in RedNova about a new kind of speculum mentions inter alia:

The Greek physician and writer Galen (130-200 A.D.) first recorded the use of a speculum. Bronze versions of the speculum, one with three blades and one with four blades, were found in the excavations of Pompeii in 1818 and are thought to have been buried around 79 A.D.

Archaeology has a photo of this one at their online dig (Pompeii) page from a few years ago ...
9.00 p.m. |DCIVC| The Mystery of the Parthenon

DCIVC = Discovery Civilization (Canada)
I have a weakness for the trash one gets regularly in the Weekly World News and, as it happens, this week's cover story is full of ClassCon. It's not online, so I've actually taken the time to type up some excerpts (I'm waiting for my dog ... he's broken, so we had to get him fixed). In any event, the cover story is about the discovery of a second Noah's ark. According to Professor Adam N. Deeve [snicker], the second ark was piloted by Noah's son Japheth and ended up in the jungles of the Faroe Islands ... Japheth, of course, conveniently carved his name in the ship's hull. Some quotes from Professor Deeve (my comments are in square brackets):

" There was even a massive crow's nest ... We believe this is where a cyclops was stationed, using his great eyesight to watch for dry land. There is a big red 'no' circle with Sinbad written in the center -- pretty conclusive evidence as far as we're concerned. " [hmmm ... I guess that explains how they ended up in the Faroe Islands ... do you really want someone with no depth perception as your lookout?]

" This section appears to be the stables ... We believe this is where Japheth kept unicorns, centaurs and winged horses. There are impressions of very large feathers in the mud that hardened to stone. In the centaur's stall are hoofmarks and extensive damage to what's left of the door. Being half human, the centaurs apparently resented being thrown together with pure equines." [hmmm ... more likely they got drunk and trashed the place, as is their wont]

There was also a level for birds, apparently, including a phoenix ... Dr. Deeve continues:

"As far as we can reconstruct the events, it seems that the phoenix went ballistic and while the crew was putting out the fire, the smoke seeped up through the floorboards and soon reached into the stable, upsetting the horses. The unicorn instinctively rammed his horn through the wall to allow air inside. Unfortunately the stable was below sea level and the ark began to flood."

The article concludes thusly:

"Deeve explained that the last artifact he discovered was the statue of a man in ancient robes. According to historical descriptions, it looks like the son of Noah."
"' We suspect he may have made a wrong turn at some point and wandered into Medusa's cabin,' Deeve said. 'The poor fellow could not have done much after that. This may be the first accident in history caused by a captain who was stoned.'"

If you purchase a copy, the 'Weird Picture Search' also has a Medusa/Perseus theme, by the way ...drawn by Sergio Aragones (remember him from Mad Magazine kiddies?).
From the Sofia News Agency:

Bulgaria's archaeological expedition TEMP is about to start new excavations in the Valley of Thracian Kings.

The campaign is expected to start at 14 mounds on Friday, and the team is hoping for sunny weather.

TEMP is famous for discovering some of the most sensational Thracian finds over the last several years.

The team of Georgi Kitov has uncovered several Thracian tombs in the Kazanlak Kettle, which gave it the name Valley of Thracian Kings.

Last summer, the expedition discovered the sepulchre of King Sevt III, a mighty Thracian ruler.
From the Boston Globe:

In the book-lined precincts of David and Anne Ferry's antique Greek revival home, you can easily picture Ralph Waldo Emerson, standing in the foyer with hat in hand. In 1842, he paid a call on the feminist critic Margaret Fuller, who owned the house at the time. But move to the rear veranda where poet and translator David Ferry settled into a chair for an interview, and the din of passing trucks and car horns yanks you back to the present.

Ferry's own life and work lately have been like that: the raw present and the deep past. He's a plain-spoken American, who looks like a professor as played by Henry Fonda. Yet his fame has spread lately for English translations of poets dead for thousands of years. Somehow, he has found ways to make those ancient voices fresh.

Ferry, who is 81, has published five books of poems (primarily his own, with some translations) between 1960 and 1999. In 1992, he published a ''verse rendering" -- he says it's not a translation -- of the 3,000-year-old Sumerian epic ''Gilgamesh." Then he turned to the classic Roman poets Horace and Virgil, with ''The Odes of Horace" and ''The Epistles of Horace," ''The Eclogues of Virgil" and, just published, ''The Georgics of Virgil."

Horace? Virgil? What do ancient Latin poets in togas have to do with us? They're so BC.

But that question is so 21st century. As recently as 1947, General George C. Marshall said in a speech that no one could ''think with full wisdom" about contemporary times without reading Thucydides's ''History of the Peloponnesian War." Richard Thomas, a classicist at Harvard whom Ferry consulted on the ''Georgics," said: ''The reason these authors were read by everybody until the beginning of the 20th century was that they were constantly applicable. Virgil confronts the same problems we encounter: in 'the Eclogues,' love; in 'the Georgics,' the brutality of toil, problems of empire and power, and the abuse of power."

Immersing himself in Horace and Virgil, Ferry tried to interpret them in English -- not hip and contemporary, but not falsely antique, either. As it came out in the poems, strange things happened, which you can't miss when you read his versions. The old poets weirdly appear, as if they were in the room with the reader, talking about recognizable human life. They seem like real guys.

The word ''georgic" refers to the rural life, and the four Georgics -- finished in 29 BC -- celebrate the world of farming and agriculture, and the human and animal life that depends on it: peasants and sheep and horses, vineyards and honeybees. But there's more than that. They also explore the brutal uncertainty of man's place in nature, with sudden storms washing away planted seeds and fire devastating olive groves. The storms include war and rapine, which destroy humble lives as surely as bad weather. Virgil is full of pity and admiration for resilience in the face of disaster. He could be writing about Darfur.

''It's about the basic, precariously valuable, fragile work that people do," Ferry said, ''and every passage in the poem has got that power of accomplishment and sometimes defeat." Though he is a part of an intellectual elite, Virgil notices and appreciates the lives of the poor: ''It's absolutely without condescension."

A life in poetry
Born in New Jersey in 1924, Ferry saw army service in World War II, went to Amherst College, then got his PhD at Harvard. Steeped in poetry, he wrote his first book about William Wordsworth. He married Anne Ferry, herself a critic and scholar, in 1958 (they have two children), and began teaching English literature at Wellesley College in 1952, where he stayed until he retired in 1989. Now he teaches part-time at Boston University.

Some literary lights grumble darkly about the low profile of poetry in our time, but Ferry said its status is no better nor worse than it ever was. Besides, he said, ''When you're teaching, you're teaching people for whom it's alive. So it's hard for me to experience the idea that it's marginalized, because for the people I spend my life talking to, it isn't."

Ferry's most recent book of his own poems was ''Of No Country I Know," in 1999, and a new collection is in progress. With his own poems to work on, why did he tackle these ancient works?

''Passivity," he answered. ''I got assigned."

Hooked, is more like it. Harvard classicist William Moran asked Ferry to translate a few sections of ''Gilgamesh," which was carved in cuneiform on stone tablets. ''I don't know Babylonian," Ferry said, and so he used previous word-for-word translations, consulted commentaries, and made English verses in iambic pentameter. He found it a fascinating experience and went on to do the whole epic of the hero Gilgamesh, and his grief at the death of his comrade Enkidu.

After that, he was asked to do a few odes by Quintus Horatius Flaccus -- Horace -- who lived from 65 BC to 8 AD. ''I'm not a classicist," Ferry said. ''My Latin gets worked up for each poem I'm working on. I'm sort of learning it as I go." He added, ''Because I fell in love with the odes, I fell in love with Horace." From Horace he moved to Publius Vergilius Maro (70-19 BC) -- Virgil.

The attraction for the ''Georgics" was as personal as it was academic. ''Many of my own poems in recent years have had to do with people marginalized, on the brink, near the abyss, always vulnerable," Ferry said. ''In the view of the 'Georgics,' we're always near the abyss. And so it seemed to me to be a meaningful connection between what I am doing as a poet and what I'm learning as a translator." It's not a strictly aesthetic interest -- the Ferrys help run a weekly supper for the needy at the Church of the Advent on Boston's Beacon Hill.

Not that only the down-and-out face the abyss. Ferry's poem ''That Evening at Dinner," reveals a woman friend holding out with gumption against age and illness:

We got her seated in a chair that was placed

A little too far away from the nearest table,

At the edge of the abyss, and there she sat,

Exposed, her body the object of our attention --

The heaviness of it, the helpless graceless leg,

The thick stocking, the leg brace, the medical shoe . . .

In his poem, ''Ellery Street," in which struggling human beings in the neighborhood and a struggling snail in his yard are part of the same world, Ferry sounds much like Virgil, who writes in ''The Georgics," ''the horse that was once / Victorious now miserably sinks / As he tries to arise, forgetting what he had been . . . "

Ferry doesn't pretend to Virgil's stature; still, that resemblance of voices isn't just an accident -- it's part of what translation is. Translation makes something new, and the maker's mark is on it. Of that new thing, Ferry says, ''It's yours. Extreme as it is to say, in a certain way your own translation completely erases the poem you are translating, and replaces it with your own."

In the age of ''The Da Vinci Code" and ''Harry Potter," it would seem unlikely that a commercial publisher like Farrar Straus & Giroux would take a chance on Horace and Virgil, even less on ''Gilgamesh." But Farrar's president and publisher, Jonathan Galassi, himself a translator of Italian poetry, has no doubts.

'' 'Gilgamesh' and 'Horace' have sold very well," he said. ''There is a hunger for access to the sources of literature, and David Ferry's translations are extremely readable and modern in tone."

As with many poets, a conversation with Ferry has long pauses as he says, ''hmm," and looks away, when asked a question. He tries to find the right words.

Asked whether he had ever felt that Virgil or Horace were near as he tried to get inside their heads and words, he answered later, by e-mail: ''Yes, there's the whole insane comedy of your voice pretending to be Horace's or Virgil's. It's like dressing up and thinking you're Napoleon. Of course, you know you're not. But even if you don't get it right, maybe you learn something of their tones of voice, their wild vocal power, and that little that you learn makes you feel like you're on a wonderful ride."
Tim Case writes @ Axis of Logic:

President Bush's June 29th speech at Fort Bragg, North Carolina reminded me of how the general population of Rome suffered through thirteen years of Caesar Claudius' reign; a reign which amounted to nothing less than a traveling freak show.

Every speech from President Bush seems to confirm his relationship to Claudius by means of Empirical Roman atavism.

Claudius was not only thought a fool but "instead of keeping quiet about his stupidity, Claudius explained in a number of short speeches, that it had been a mere mask assumed for the benefit of Gaius (Caligula), and that he owed both life and throne to it."[1] No one, however, believed him and soon a book was published entitled Fools' Rise to Power; the thesis being that no one would act the fool unless he was a fool already.

Claudius had ascended the Roman throne following one of history's greatest maniacs. Officially, Caligula's name was Gaius and he reigned from 37 AD until 41 AD. Reading the adventures of Caligula is quite accurately a trip into depths of megalomania. Among the titles he bestowed upon himself were "Pious," "Son of the Camp," "Father of the Army," along with "Best and Greatest of Caesars."[2] He also "insisted on being treated as a god - sending for the most revered or artistically famous statues of the Greek deities (including that of Jupiter at Olympia), and having their heads replaced by his own."[3]

... more
nonae iuliae

ludi Apollinares (day 2)-- games instituted in 212 B.C. after consulting the Sybilline books during a particularly bad stretch in the Punic Wars; four years later they became an annual festival in honour of Apollo

feriae Ancillarum -- a festival in honour of the "maids" who helped save Rome from a Latin attack in the days after the Gallic sack

rites in honour of Juno Caprotina -- rites possibly associated with the above in which Latin women offered sacrifices to Juno Caprotina under wild fig trees (the branches of the tree were also somehow used ... the old canard of 'fertility ritual' is usually mentioned in this context)

rites in honour of Consus in the Circus Maximus -- 'public priests' offered a sacrifice to Consus (possibly in a role of presiding over grain which has been stored underground) at his underground altar (was it uncovered for this?) at the first turning point in the Circus

eighth century B.C.? -- death/disappearance of Romulus

267 B.C. -- dedication of the Temple of Pales (and associated rites thereafter)

175 A.D. -- the future emperor Commodus dons his toga virilis

c. 200 A.D. -- martyrdom of Pantaenus (a Stoic!)

1586 -- birth of Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel (amasser of the Arundelian Marbles)
nolens volens @ Wordsmith (didn't he play for the Monkees?)

impolitic @ Merriam-Webster

ameliorate @ (although they claim the word is still rictus)
A couple of Classics-related posts at Dr. Weevil ... one marks International Kissing Day with a poem attributed to Petronius ... another ponders the etymology of 'liberal' ...
As mentioned yesterday, I missed (again ... dang, now I'll have to get a dvd or something) ABC's Empire, so if you'd like to read reviews, Glaukopidos has a good rant going ... see also the discussion at
Today we alert the masses to the existence of Towards an Archaeology of Iconoclasm, which are the thesis-in-progress thoughts of Troels Myrups on the subject of early Christian Iconoclasm. Troels has actually had another self-titled blog (in Danish) for quite a while, which touches on matters Classical, but in a language I cannot pretend to read ... in any event, one item definitely worth reading at the Iconoclasm site focuses on the fate of many an ancient sculpture ...
Curculio announces the epublishing of a very nice electronic edition of Martial IV with a useful apparatus criticus ....
Over at Laudator, MG has an interesting post with Classical parallels for the story of Potiphar's wife ...
From Cumberland Today:

Scottish tourism minister Patricia Ferguson has backed Historic Scotland's bid to secure European aid to make the historic structure Scotland's fifth World Heritage site, which would put it on a par with the Pyramids of Egypt and the Great Wall of China.
The wall stretches 37 miles across Scotland from Bo'ness to Old Kilpatrick. An excellent section of it, including remains of forts, runs through the Kilsyth, Croy, and Twechar areas.
The Scottish bid is part of a joint international effort to have the frontiers of the Roman Empire recognised, with similar projects under way in Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Croatia, and Hungary.
Launching a new booklet on the Roman frontiers at the Scottish Parliament along with the German consul general, Ingo Radke, Mrs Ferguson said: "If it comes to pass I think it will be the most ambitious World Heritage site that has been identified. The Antonine Wall is an outstanding archaeological treasure, not just for Scotland, but for Europe. World Heritage Site status will give the Antonine Wall the international status and protection it deserves."
She said the wall was something young people were very interested in learning more about. It was very tangible example of Roman history they could experience for themselves.
The total cost of the joint bid is around £900,000, with the countries hoping European funding would cover 60 per cent. of that.
Around 600 sites are recognised by the United Nations across the world.
Blane Dodds, head of cultural and recreational services for North Lanarkshire Council, said: "The Antonine Wall is, historically, a very important site, being one of only three artificial frontiers along the European boundaries of the Roman Empire. It marked the north-west frontier of the empire, and for part of its length runs through the northern corridor of North Lanarkshire, where the council has responsibility for its protection.
"We fully support the proposal to add the Antonine Wall to the list of World Heritage sites and will be working with our colleagues in planning, and with Historic Scotland and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland to ensure its protection."
Mention of this one is making the rounds of various blogs ... it's a quiz at Language Log related to how to say "Out of one, many"; I see two possible correct answers, plus a pile of ones that defy logic.
Nothing of interest ...
pridie nonas julias

ludi Apollinares (day 1) -- games instituted in 212 B.C. after consulting the Sybilline books during a particularly bad stretch in the Punic Wars; four years later they became an annual festival in honour of Apollo

late fifth century B.C.? -- in the wake of the aborted attack on Rome by Coriolanus, the senate dedicated a Temple of Fortuna Muliebris (and there were associated rites thereafter)
rictus @

decency @ OED

vox populi @ Wordsmith
Andrew Stewart, Attalos, Athens, and the Akropolis. The Pergamene 'Little Barbarians' and their Roman and Renaissance Legacy. With an essay by Manolis Korres.

A.J. Woodman, Tacitus, The Annals. Translated with Introduction and Notes.

Judith Evans Grubbs, Women and Law in the Roman Empire. A Sourcebook on Marriage, Divorce and Widowhood.

Michael J.B. Allen, James Hankins, Marsilio Ficino. Platonic Theology. Volume 4: Books XII-XIV. I Tatti Renaissance Library, 13.

Stephen D. Houston, The First Writing: Script Invention as History and Process.

Ellen Bradshaw Aiken, Jennifer K. Berenson Maclean, Philostratus' Heroikos: Religion and Cultural Identity in the Third Century C.E.

K. A. Worp, Greek Ostraca from Kellis: O.Kellis, Nos. 1-293. With a chapter on the ostraka and the archaeology of Ismant el-Kharab by Colin A. Hope. Dakhleh Oasis Project: Monograph 13.

Lukas de Blois, Jeroen Bons, Ton Kessels, Dirk M. Schenkeveld, The Statesman in Plutarch's Works. Volume I: Plutarch's Statesman and His Aftermath: Political, Philosophical, and Literary Aspects. Mnemosyne Suppl. 250.

Chrysanthe Tsitsiou-Chelidoni, Ovid. Metamorphosen, Buch VIII. Narrative Technik und literarischer Kontext. Studien zur klassischen Philologie, Bd. 138.

Brian K. Harvey, Roman Lives: Ancient Roman Life as Illustrated by Latin Inscriptions.
I'm pretty sure we mentioned this before (quite a few months ago) ... from the Buffalo News:

A treasured, 2,000-year-old Greek statue can stand tall in the face of a major earthquake, thanks to a team of University at Buffalo engineers.

The statue of Hermes with the Infant Dionysus now rests on a high-tech platform designed to protect the irreplaceable marble masterpiece from a powerful seismic force.

Faculty members at UB's earthquake engineering center helped make and test the platform for the Archaeological Museum of Olympia in Greece.

"You're protecting one of the world's great treasures. This is very fragile and can't be replaced," said Andrew S. Whittaker, a UB professor of civil, structural and environmental engineering.

The project involved a technology typically used to protect monumental structures, such as bridges, offshore gas platforms and airport terminals.

The work attracted international notice in the scientific and archaeological communities.

"It's the exposure of the university that was most important in this case," said Michael C. Constantinou, a UB engineering professor and project co-investigator with Whittaker. UB worked on the project with engineers at the National Technical University in Athens.

The Hermes statue is a national treasure, as precious to Greeks as the statue of David is to Italians, Whittaker said.

Art historians believe that the statue is the creation of the prominent Greek sculptor Praxiteles, carved sometime around 330 B.C., according to the museum.

The statue is 7 feet tall, with a 4-foot-high base, and together they weigh 6,600 pounds.

Hermes, the Greek messenger god, carries his brother Dionysus, the Greek god of wine. One of Hermes' arms - which may have held a bunch of grapes - and both legs had broken off, though the legs were replaced.

Originally, the museum protected the statue with a carpet and cushioning around its base. If the statue tipped over, the carpet ensured that it would break into large pieces and could easily be put back together.

Greek officials wanted to do more. "It can't be lost," Constantinou said of the statue.

The museum and the Greek Ministry of Culture initially brought in the university in Athens and later reached out to UB because of its expertise in this field, said Athina Athanasiadou, director of museum studies and cultural buildings for the ministry.

UB engineers have tested and analyzed a seismic-protective technology known as friction pendulum bearings.

The bearings used in this case weigh about 2,000 pounds each and consist of large, square pieces of metal connected by components designed to slide against one another.

When an earthquake hits, the bearings allow a structure to sway from side to side instead of falling over, a process known as seismic isolation.

The bearings are designed to support far heavier weights, so the UB engineers had to test them under much lower weight loads to ensure that they would work with the relatively small statue.

"This is really a boutique application of the technology," Whittaker said.

The UB engineers also developed computer software that allowed scientists in Athens to conduct simulated tests of how the statue might respond to the stresses and weight loads caused by an earthquake.

The testing was done on a tight schedule because Greek officials wanted the new platform installed in time for the Olympic Games, which were held in Athens last summer.

UB scientists tested the bearings in February 2004 at the earthquake engineering center on the North Campus in Amherst. Workers drove the bearings by truck to Toronto, from which they were sent by air freight to Athens.

Greek workers installed the bearings in March 2004. "They did a surprisingly good job," Constantinou said. "They understood that this is important."

There are four bearings, one placed at each corner of a large concrete platform that sits in a 5-foot-deep pit and supports the statue. In the case of an earthquake, the platform would slide on the bearings while the statue remains stable.
Why is it that Canadian companies always seem to be behind controversial excavations of Roman gold mines? From the Local Government Information Bureau:

Residents from a small Spanish town have found the myth of El Dorado too close for comfort and are fighting plans to excavate an old Roman gold mine in the area. They claim that, although the gold could be worth up to £365 million, the disruption caused by excavations would destroy the environment and ruin tourism.

Rio Narcea Gold Mines Ltd, a Toronto based mining company, has found that Tapia de Casariego is literally sitting on a gold mine. The gold lies in the bedrock of two lagoons located just outside the town and remained when the Romans left the Asturias province 2,000 years ago.

A ‘no gold’ petition has been signed by many of the towns 4,500 inhabitants, most of whom are fishermen, cattle farmers and hoteliers. They are fearful that the huge crater and pile of rubble produced by excavations will be “a brutal and irreversible aggression against the environment, marine life, the landscape and the archaeological heritage”. The jobs and infrastructure created by the mining would be no compensation for the environmental impact, they say.

Their views have the support of the provincial government and Gervasio Acevedo, the Mayor of Tapia de Casariego, who has insisted that the gold remains in the ground. “We will put all our efforts towards preventing the mine project from being carried out,” he said.

The town claims it has no need to dig up its heritage to become rich. According to Mr Acevedo, the town could become just as wealthy from the proceeds of the area’s burgeoning tourism.

... I suspect we'll be hearing more about this.
From icBirmingham:

An acclaimed archaeologist who is set to appear in a TV series about the history of Rome has joined the University of Birmingham.

Dr Ray Laurence, who has also just written a book about events leading up to the destruction of Pompeii, has been appointed as a Research Fellow in the University's Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity (IAA).

He will continue his research on the Roman world, on themes such as human ageing, travel and communications, and landscape archaeology.

Dr Laurence has more than ten years' experience in archaeology and ancient history, and his new book Pompeii: The Living City has met with much critical acclaim, including praise from the author Robert Harris, who said: "I only wish it had been available when I was researching my novel" (also called Pompeii).

From July 7 he will appear in a new Sky One documentary, The Life and Death of Rome.

Dr Laurence said: "I am delighted to be joining the University of Birmingham. This is a challenging new role that will enable me to develop my research in human ageing, urbanism and the landscapes of the Roman Empire. The IAA team and its organisation creates the opportunity for interdisciplinary research across the traditional boundaries between ancient history and archaeology, and beyond to connect with the social sciences and the earth sciences."

Dr Laurence previously taught Roman History and Roman Archaeology at the University of Reading for more than ten years. He has published six academic books on Roman archaeology and history.
... getting coverage in Kathimerini:

Professor Christos Doumas of the Greek Archaeological Society will be at next week’s Atlantis conference on Milos.

The case of Atlantis has never ceased to arouse interest. Did the lost land ever actually exist? If so, where exactly was it and what brought about its complete destruction?

These are a few of the questions that a number of scientists will ponder at an upcoming conference on «The Atlantis Case: In Search of a Lost Land,» scheduled to take place next week (July 11-13) on the island of Milos at the Giorgos Heliopoulos Conference Center.

Over the years, the search for Atlantis has enthralled many scientists working in fields such as history, archaeology, philosophy, volcanology, cartography and oceanography. During the event, a group of scientists will present current research on the mystery.

Professors involved in the upcoming conference's international program committee include Michalis Fytikas and Spyros Pavlidis of Thessaloniki University, Silvio Cataldi of the University of Turin, Stavros Papamarinopoulos of Patras University, Haraldur Sigurdsson of the University of Rhode Island in the USA, Giorgos Vouyiouklakis of the Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration and Christos Doumas of the Greek Archaeological Society. Doumas also leads excavations at Santorini's Akrotiri site.

Plato first mentioned the lost land of Atlantis in the fourth century BC, and the mystery remains intact at the dawn of the 21st century.


According to the philosopher's writings, Atlantis was a leading civilization of prehistoric times.

It was apparently an island-state in the Atlantic Ocean, and it faced the Pillars of Hercules (Straits of Gibraltar). According to Plato's version, it was founded more than 12,000 years ago.

The island-state was inhabited by an aristocratic and powerful tribe that enjoyed great wealth, thanks to the area's natural resources and the community's land planning. Atlantis, it seems, was also an important commercial center.

For many generations, the people of Atlantis lived humbly and wisely, but gradually became corrupted by greed and power.

In the end, it was Zeus who punished them with a powerful wave that ultimately «swallowed up» the island and its people.

The sensational story has drawn attention and admiration from specialists and non-specialists around the world, all of whom are in an endless search for evidence that might solve the mystery.

Could it be that the story is an exaggeration based on the fall of Cretan civilization and the destruction of Thera?

Or could it be that Atlantis never actually existed and was simply a myth mimicking Plato's descriptions of the perfect state?

Folks might want to check out the 'list of submitted abstracts' at the conference website ... we see a lot of familiar names from recent poorly-translated press releases, a lot of people with the title 'independent scholar' (not that there's anything wrong with that), 'author' (not that there's anything wrong with that) ... Doumas appears to be the closest thing to a Classicist at the conference.
Brief item from Kathimerini ... a photo accompanies the original article:

Archaeologists on the uninhabited islet of Despotiko near the Cycladic island of Antiparos have uncovered the remnants of ancient dwellings dating back to the Archaic era, which they described as ‘exceptional.’ The Culture Ministry said yesterday that fragments of kouroi statues (photo) and pillars, dating from 750 to 500 BC, have been found at the site, which has been operating since May.
8.00 p.m. |HINT| Egypt According to Cleoopatra
Walk the streets of Alexandria, during the time of the Ptolemies, alongside its citizens as their pharaoh, Cleopatra, serves as virtual tour guide of Egypt. From the exotic yet cosmopolitan capital, built by her ancestor 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 Queen 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.

HINT = History International

... I can't believe I missed Empire *again* (we got in the door just as it ended)
ante diem iv nonas quinctilis

13 B.C. -- a senatus consultum decrees that an Ara Pacis should be erected and annual sacrifices be held to honour Augustus' return from victories in Spain and Gaul
varicolored @

Amazon @ OED

lex talionis @ Wordsmith

... and for the record, I'm sure I'm not the only one who wondered whether/how rapier was connected to Latin ... according to Merriam-Webster, it isn't!
We'll likely be late updating tomorrow (Tuesday), if we get to update at all ... we're off shortly to a friend's cottage for a couple of days and we'll use the opportunity to refresh our mental solar panels ...
I notice this week that rogueclassicism gained mention in Humbul Classics Resources (thanks!) ... if you haven't visited the site, it's an extensively vetted/annotated collection of links to scholarly resources in Classics (not sure rc belongs there, but we won't argue) ... worth a look.
While cleaning up bookmarks, I realized I had totally forgotten about the existence of Radio Bremen's monthly Nuntii Latini ... Radio Bremen's version differs from YLE's -- other than only coming out once a month -- by including a glossary of terms which might be unfamiliar to the 'Classical' Latin reader. In any event, the news summary for the month of June is now available ...
There's a new issue of Ephemeris, the online Latin newspaper, on the estands ....
I fell behind a bit with Akropolis World News as I as cleaning up and reorganizing my bookmarks, so here are three sets of headlines of news in Classical Greek for your enjoyment (Happy Independence Day to our American friends, by the way):

Kansas High Court may close schools - New Da Vinci drawing uncovered

First text in History was a curse - Israeli government forbids its citizens to enter Gaza

New Iran president promises moderation - 90 students abducted in Nepal
James A. Arieti, Philosophy in the Ancient World. An Introduction.

Franco Maiullari, Omero anti-Omero: Le incredibili storie di un trickster giullare alla corte micenea.

Matthew Trundle, Greek Mercenaries from the Late Archaic Period to Alexander.

Walter Burkert, Babylon Memphis Persepolis: Eastern Contexts of Greek Culture.

Gunnar Seelentag, Taten und Tugenden Traians. Herrschaftsdarstellung im Principat. Hermes Einzelschriften, Heft 91.

Berno on Limburg on Berno.
In case you missed it, there's a fifth supplement now available for the indispensable Guide de l'epigraphiste which can be downloaded from the page with all the supplements (in case you missed them too!).
Again, Commercial Appeal comes through for us:

St. Mary's participated for the ninth time in the Tennessee Junior Classical League convention, held at Rossview High School in Clarksville, Tenn.

Fifty-four students from St. Mary's attended the convention with Upper School Latin teacher Jenny Fields and Middle School Latin teacher Dr. Patrick McFadden.

This year's convention had almost 800 delegates from nearly 30 schools.

Convention competitions included all sorts of events. Overall, St. Mary's took home these awards: first place in Scrapbook Sweepstakes, first in Spirit, second in Group Costume, second in Skit, second in 880 Relay, third in Publicity, fifth in Scrapbook, and fifth in Banner.

These St. Mary's students won individual awards: Elizabeth Anderson of East Memphis in English Oratory 1; Sarah Atkinson of East Memphis in Essay 3; Rachel Bleustein of East Memphis in Reading Comprehension 4 and Dramatic Latin 2; Sarah Donaldson of East Memphis in Essay 5; McKenzie Fields of East Memphis in Photography 2; Mary Catherine Holliday of East Memphis in 50 Freestyle 4; Brandon O'Brien of East Memphis in Reading Comprehension 4; Falconer Robbins of East Memphis in Essay 1; Rebecca Schaeffer of East Memphis in 440 Dash 1; Sarah Rice Stender of East Memphis in Geography 5; and Megan Turner of East Memphis in Female Historical Costume 4.

As a physics/Latin project, Upper School students worked with Upper School Science Chair Michael Volpe to construct Roman "chariots" from everyday materials such as wood, metal trash cans and old wheelchair axles. After Volpe and his students completed the project, chariot rides around the school track were offered to all Upper School students.

In other "Latin news," St. Mary's announced inductees to the National Latin Honor Society. From East Memphis, new members include Claire Arnett, Ann Atkinson, Sarah Atkinson, Virginia Dickinson, Ginni Fischer, Kat Morisy, Meredith Morten, Lizzy Parks, Samie Polly, Sarah Rice Stender and Megan Turner.

St. Mary's students also garnered awards on the National Latin Exam. Gold medal summa cum laude winners and East Memphians include Alex Tyler, Betsy Odland, Christine Petrin, Claire Riley, and Megan Turner.

Silver medal maxima cum laude winners and East Memphians include Elizabeth Anderson, Lillie Blanton, Rachel Bleustein, Virginia Dickinson, Sarah Donaldson, Brandon O'Brien, Caitlin Quigley, Eliza Leatherman, Kat Morisy, Ruthie Morrison, Mary Pollard, Jordan Reeve, Karen Stein, and Kathryn Waggoner.

Magna cum laude winners and East Memphians include Ann Atkinson, Sarah Atkinson, Bailey Bethell, McKenzie Fields, Caroline Harris, Mary Catherine Holliday, Miranda Kaltenborn, Jordanna Kisber, Sophie Page, Lizzy Parks, Kayleigh Renard, and Alexandra Yawn.

Cum laude winners and East Memphians include Claire Arnett, Reagan Bugg, Ginni Fischer, Elise Lasko, Meredith Morten, Barbara Phillips, and Lauren Wolfe.
6.00 p.m. |HINT| The Hidden City of Petra
Story of the Nabataeans, a desert people who carved the city of Petra out of the Jordanian mountains some 2,000 years ago. Their culture flourished, then disappeared. We visit the site of the amazing sculpted city, which included temples and colonnaded market streets.

7.00 p.m. |HINT| Arms in Action: Slings and Spears
Produced in partnership with England's Royal Armouries located in the Tower of London, this series action-tests weapons and armor through the ages. We construct an ancient slingshot and see why it survives as a street-fighting weapon in the Middle East, and follow the unbroken history of the spear from mere stick to Roman pilium to bayonet.

HINT = History International
Issue 8.10 of our Explorator newsletter is now online ... so too is the weekly version of our Ancient World on Television listings ...
A press release:

Finding information about ancient Greek inscriptions used to take years of research and countless hours tracking down answers in the library. Through contributions by Case classicist Paul Iversen’s work with the Packard Humanities Institute (PHI) Greek Epigraphy Project, classics scholars now can access and search more than 150,000 inscriptions through a comprehensive digitized database in a matter of minutes.

Information is currently available in CD-ROM form, but the project will shortly launch a Web site that can be updated regularly as new research surfaces. “Once the web site is available to the public, the search for information on inscriptions will be as short as a blink of the eye,” says Iversen, an assistant professor in the Department of Classics.

Iversen said the latest CD-ROM has enough information from books and journal articles about ancient Greek inscriptions that in paper form, the information could fill his third-floor office in Mather House at Case and spill out into the hallways.

Those CDs are finding their way into almost every classics department in the country and around the world, according to Iversen, who came to Case in 2001.

He can attest to the speed of data-mining inscriptions. While his work is collecting, entering, editing and proofreading inscriptions and related information from established journals and books, every so often something intrigues him.

An inscription on a stone fragment found in a private collector of antiquities in Rome was one item. Iversen said it was clear from the numeric system and the script employed on the stone that it had to come from some other region of Magna Graecia.

A quick search of the project’s database of ancient recorded writings from 750 BC to approximately AD 500 proved this hunch correct.

“Lo and behold, it was part of an inscription of donations during the First Cretan War of ca. 205 to 202 BC on the island of Cos,” said Iversen. He was able to link the fragment to a missing piece of an artifact now in the British Museum.

He said someone named Ross published the inscribed donation list in 1845 while the piece was intact in the stairwell of the church of Saint John of Jerusalem on Rhodes.

With a search through the PHI database, Iversen tracked the inscription to the island of Cos where it was made and later transported to the church on nearby Rhodes. Eventually the church became a mosque. One day, gunpowder stored in the mosque exploded to shatter the donation list. Most of what remained was given by the Pasha of Rhodes to Prince Edward Albert of Wales, who then donated the damaged inscription to the British Museum in 1873. One of the pieces, however, ended up in Rome.

Iversen’s search is one of many searches are leading to new discoveries through the electronic corpus of Greek inscriptions provided by the PHI Greek Epigraphy Project that began 17 years ago as a collaboration between Cornell University and The Ohio State University (OSU). “The PHI disk has revolutionized the way epigraphists do their work,” explains Iversen.

PHI was founded and funded by David Packard Jr.—also a classicist and the son of the Hewlett-Packard computer giant. The computer guru’s son saw the potential for digitizing known inscriptions and developed special software and computers called “Ibycus” machines. A new generation of computer software called “Betacode Editor” now enables the project to word process on Macintosh computers and soon they will launch a Web site for wider use for researchers and students with PCs and Macs.

Iversen currently is contributing to the project by finding, editing and entering into the database all the known inscriptions on stone, marble, metal and even some ceramic from the regions of Boiotia and the Megarid, which are north and west of Athens respectively. These inscriptions are found on grave markers, at the bases of statuary, on the sides of buildings, on ceramic vessels or even lead or gold leaf message scrolls with prayers or curses left at temples of the oracles or in grave sites.

Using a standardized editing system called the Leiden Conventions that reduces inconsistencies in reporting the ancient writings, he inputs the known Greek symbols and places notations where missing words or letters might be. He also reports where the inscription was found and some of the bibliography of earlier research published about the work.

“Inscriptions,” Iversen says, “unlike writings on papyrus which are usually copies of copies of copies, come down to us directly with no intervening hand. They are thus original documents. And the PHI project has been pivotal in making sure the texts of these Greek inscriptions survive the jump from printed to digital form to be available for future scholars.”

In his first year of studies towards his doctoral degree in classics at OSU in 1989, Iversen took an epigraphy class from Stephen V. Tracy, a world-renowned scholar of Greek epigraphy and the administrator for OSU work with the project.

Iversen was hooked. Tracy asked him to join the project. Since 1990, he has contributed on a full- or part-time basis collecting, entering and editing the texts of known inscriptions as a tool for scholars. “While I have logged in many hours on the project over the last 15 years,” Iversen says, “the lion’s share of the work on the project has been done by John Mansfield and Nancy Kelly at Cornell University, and Philip Forsythe at The Ohio State University. They are due the most credit.”

The project’s work is one of the first major update of known inscriptions in several regions of Magna Graecia that has taken place since the publication of multi-volume Inscriptiones Graecae series was begun in 1873. By updating the work begun with the Inscriptiones Graecae volume VII in 1892 that covered the regions of Boiotia and the Megarid, the project has almost doubled the corpus of Boiotian and Megarian inscriptions. Iversen has also worked on the material from Thessaly, Epeiros, Illyria, the Upper Danube, Thrace, Moesia Inferior, Scythia Minor, Dacia, the North Black Sea, Rhodes, the Rhodian Peraia, Cos, Cyprus, Aegean Islands, Italy, Sicily and the West.

In addition to the PHI project, Iversen teaches Greek and Latin classes, a SAGES (Case’s new undergraduate seminar program Seminar Approach to General Education and Scholarship) class called “Myth, Ritual & Society in the Ancient World,” other Classics courses, such as“Myth, Hero and Performance in Greek Literature”, an ancient history course called “The Ancient World” and an etymology class for medical students at Case.

... speaking of which, what has happened to the Packard Humanities Institute's website?
While folks are still rolling on the floor in paroxysms of laughter/disgust/whatever over ABC's Empire series, we read an announcement of HBO's Rome series;

HBO has set a premiere date of VIII/XXVIII, MMV for its series "Rome."

The launch - that's Aug. 28 for those of you who left Roman numerals back in fourth-grade math - will precede most of the broadcast networks' fall premieres by several weeks, giving HBO some time to try to build an audience for the 12-episode series. The pay-cable network also plans to give viewers numerous chances to see the show each week.

"Our goal is to put 'Rome' in front of every demo and every audience segment by appearing every day of the week and in all the appropriate timeslots, from 8 p.m. to late night," says David Baldwin, head of program planning at HBO. "This saturation sampling phase will be supported by HBO's legendary on-channel and off-channel promotion and awareness efforts."

Following the premiere, episodes will be scheduled every night of the week on HBO and sister channels HBO2 and HBO Signature. HBO also will repeat the previous week's episode prior to the debut of new installments. The first two episodes will run during a preview weekend in early September, which will also include the debut of the third episode on HBO On Demand on Sept. 5 - before it first airs in regular rotation on HBO.

"Rome," which HBO co-produced with the BBC, tells the story of the rise of the Roman Empire through the eyes of two soldiers who become caught up in Rome's history. The cast includes Ciaran Hinds ("Road to Perdition"), Kevin McKidd ("Kingdom of Heaven"), Ray Stevenson ("King Arthur"), Polly Walker ("State of Play"), Lindsay Duncan ("Under the Tuscan Sun") and James Purefoy ("Resident Evil").

John Milius ("Conan the Barbarian," "Clear and Present Danger"), William Macdonald and Bruno Heller (USA's "Touching Evil") co-created the series. Michael Apted ("Coal Miner's Daughter") directed the first three episodes.

Somehow I would have been a bit more confident if they had announced the date as a.d. v kalendas septembres with an a.u.c. date, but I suspect they figured everyone would think it was on September 5.
Latest official description:

The Romans had the word "orbis", but "horizon" expresses a different idea. That's why translating as expression such as " heading towards the horizon of the evangelisation of the world" may prove a difficult task. And it's no use looking it up in a dictionary of the Latin language..

... Listen

Boy, it sure would be nice if they made podcasts of Father Foster ... I'd probably be able to listen to him more.
T. P. Wiseman, The Myths of Rome
Peter Jones reviews a couple of books on the fall of the Empire in the Telegraph:

In 1984 a German scholar worked out that 210 reasons had been advocated for the fall of the Roman empire in the West in the fifth century AD - from bureaucracy to deforestation, from moral decline to over-hot public baths, from female emancipation to gout. But they can't all be right and in his fine narrative history, combining story-telling with a vivid use of original sources, Peter Heather makes a strong case for one overriding explanation: the Huns.

Meanwhile, Bryan Ward-Perkins [The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization, Oxford, £16.99, 256 pp] poses a different question: what were the implications of the end of the empire for your average provincial? Are we talking of a broadly seamless transition from centralised Roman control via local barbarian kingdoms to the medieval world, or something rather less comfortable?

Heather sets the scene in the early fourth century AD. The Roman army was still the most ruthlessly proficient in the world, and it had to be: frontiers needed guarding. To finance it, a vastly increased bureaucracy was in place. The provinces - stretching from Hadrian's Wall to Iraq, from the Rhine to the Atlas Mountains - were now thoroughly Romanised and demanding a say in imperial politics. A single emperor simply could not handle the workload. So in 295 Diocletian created a system of emperors and sub-emperors.

One important result of all this was that decisions were now taken in the great imperial palaces that sprang up all over the empire (Ravenna, Trier, Split, Constantinople, etc). The city of Rome was too far from the action. The Senate still met there, but was a shadow of its former self.

As for the barbarians (the northern Germanic tribes stretching from the Rhine to the Black Sea), they had nothing to offer Rome and after the destruction of Varus' legions in AD 9 were no longer thought worth taking on. They still raided from time to time, and Romans were not averse to doing deals (Germans made excellent soldiers). But the tribes were too disunited to pose a serious threat.

Edward Gibbon argued that this world was inherently unstable, doomed to collapse. Heather disagrees. Multiple emperors, admittedly, did cause sporadic and dangerous civil wars. But the problems generated by, for example, slow communications over massive distances, rigid economies and reactive bureaucracies were not new; tax increases to pay for the military did not lead to revolt, since provincials still saw benefits outweighing disadvantages; nor did Rome's Eastern (or "Byzantine") empire collapse - indeed, in the sixth century it fought back in the West under the emperor Justinian; and so on.

According to Heather, the collapse in the West was triggered in summer 376 by one event with huge ramifications: the sudden and quite unexpected irruption of a new and terrifying people into barbarian territory on Roman borders - the Huns. It was pressure from them that drove barbarians (Goths, Visigoths, Franks, Alans) into the Western empire over the next 60 years. The Romans were helpless to stop them.

The result was the establishment within the empire of barbarian kingdoms from Gaul to Spain, from Italy to North Africa. As its tax revenue dried up, Rome lost the capacity to raise troops to force these kingdoms back into the imperial fold. Stripped of the power to compel, it was thereby stripped of its authority. Local élites, so supportive of Rome when Rome could support them back, saw that their only option now was to collude with their new masters, whose forced migration had had the effect of forging them into cohesive barbarian "supergroups" capable of establishing permanent kingdoms that were to form the basis of modern Europe. In 476 the last Roman emperor, called (ironically) Romulus Augustulus ("little Augustus"), was quietly pensioned off by the barbarian Odoacer, and that was that.

Enter Ward-Perkins, laying about himself in fine, combative style. He agrees that many barbarians wanted not to destroy the empire but to settle securely within it; that the Romans were often happy to accommodate them (though some locals saw this as "selling out"); and that the new barbarian kingdoms frequently maintained the local Roman way of doing things - which had, after all, worked for hundreds of years.

Ward-Perkins's "but" is based on a mass of closely interpreted archaeological evidence. Setting his face firmly against scholarly fashion, which dictates that everything about "Europe" must be "positive" and that no cultures are allowed to be more sophisticated than others, he argues that the demise of Rome led to a collapse of general living standards from the 5th to the 7th centuries so severe that the result was effectively "the end of civilisation".

Because Rome's complex and highly developed economic, social, military and cultural infrastructure folded with the empire, a huge range of material goods, taken for granted across the whole Roman world by rich and poor alike, could no longer be produced, let alone delivered. No more fine pottery in massive quantities from far-off places for any who wanted it; little by way of coinage, or brick, tile and stone building (and what there was, like churches, much smaller than before); luxury goods only for the few, and these locally produced; agricultural productivity in decline; severely restricted levels of literacy (no more of those Pompeian walls covered in graffiti); insecurity the norm. Simplicity was the order of the day and the effects were felt from peasants to kings. It took centuries to get things back to where they had once been.

There is nothing mealy-mouthed about this hard-hitting and beautifully written assessment which, I am delighted to say, will cause a great deal of trouble. Between them, these two Oxford dons have created stimulating new beginnings to thinking about the end of the Roman empire in the West.
Over the next few weeks we'll be going on some navel-gazing expeditions from time to time, so I thought it might be a good time to experiment with some formatting changes of a sort. As regular readers of rc might be aware, I generally update rc first thing in the a.m., then send out announcements of what has been updated. This 'habit' was largely due to me being at work and not being able to update during the day conveniently, but now that I'm home (and using Tangelo), a different regime might attain. So, for the summer months I'll be updating things as they come (probably two or three times a day when I'm not navel gazing); I'll figure out how to announce things to the lists later.
Nothing of interest ...
From the Pioneer Press:

Like many of his generation, James Fred Rust loved new experiences, family and friends say.

His thirst for knowledge and the desire to explore the human condition prompted him to leave his childhood home in Falcon Heights at 18 for unfamiliar surroundings.

He could talk to a cabbie in Cairo, a waiter in Turkey and erudite scholars just about anywhere with natural ease, said Holly Raab, his former wife and business associate from Minneapolis.

Rust — a theater set and light designer, actor, director, avid reader and Greek archaeology specialist — died June 24 of colon cancer. He was 54.

He thrived living in the moment, said longtime friend and business partner, Peg Boden, of Apple Valley.

His life was anything but dull, said his wife, Joanne Moyer Rust.

He worked on an archaeological survey in Mark Twain National Forest near Springfield, Mo., until early June, when the doctors detected his cancer. For months, he warded off pain using over-the-counter drugs to help him keep working at the cultural resource management company he started with his wife and two friends in 2002.

Family members say Rust's passion for classical Greece stemmed from reading Edith Hamilton's classic "Greek Mythology" at a young age. He managed to incorporate his love for classical art forms in set or light design in theater and photography, said David Krchelich of Schenevus, N.Y., a friend and fellow set designer who worked in theater in Minneapolis from 1975 to 1985.

After freelancing for several theater productions in Minneapolis and Boston in the '70s and reading Homer, Shakespeare, Beckett, T. S. Eliot, Bertrand Russell and Greek philosophers, Rust returned to academia full time. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in anthropology from the University of Minnesota in 1985.

He then worked on a four-week project in Egypt to help with ground-site mapping at an archeological site dating to 1500 B.C. In 1988, he earned his master's in classical archaeology from the State University of New York in Albany. He later enrolled in a doctoral program at Boston University and worked as a research fellow at the University of Western Australia in Perth.

In 1994-95, Rust directed a survey of a Bronze Age citadel in northern Jordan (about 3000 to 1600 B.C.). But his heart was drawn to the Minoan civilization of Crete, which brought him time and again to the small island in Greece.

His knowledge of Greece drew the attention of Joanne Moyer, who is of Greek heritage and whom he knew from his theater days in Minneapolis. She became his wife following his divorce from Raab in 1993.

His sensitivity and intelligence garnered a lot of attention wherever he went, said his wife.

But he admired his father, a professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota. He enjoyed drawing upon his father's experience as soil science expert for his cultural resource management projects, said Raab.

Rust also is survived by his parents, Richard and Laura Rust of Falcon Heights; sister Deanna Rust of Lincoln, Neb.; and brothers Richard Rust of Falcon Heights, Mark Rust of Hutchinson and Robert Rust of Willernie.
I think this piece from the Sofia News Agency might be a coherent version of a report we had earlier:

Archeologists have found a piece of 23-carat Thracian gold in south Bulgaria.

The team was examining the Tatul sanctuary near Kardzhali when they picked the precious find. It was discovered in a layer from the Late Bronze Age.

Experts believe that the piece was a part of a gold-trimmed stone mask.

Tatul, an extremely rich archeological site, is expected to bring to the surface sensational finds, specialists say.

They have already discovered a thin bronze knife, pieces of bronze earrings and cups, as well as ceramic pieces of a scepter bearing unique images of the sun.

The royal symbol is believed to have belonged to a mighty Thracian king buried at the site of the temple.

Tatul is believed to be a unique temple of mythical royal descendant and artist Orpheus.

Continuing excavation works come to confirm preliminary suggestions by archaeologists that the sanctuary at Tatul has effloresced for more than two thousand years in ancient times. It is probably the largest temple after the sanctuary of Dionisos in Perperikon, also located in the Rhodopes Mountain.
In response to my query (below), Alun alerts us to the online version of an Assignment program from the BBC, looking at art and antiquities theft in Italy. Very interesting (and somewhat surprising?)>
Not much in the box (as you can see below), so I might be updating throughout the day. What I am hoping to find online somewhere is an excellent documentary thing that was on the BBC radio (via WNED) last night at 11.00 p.m. (EDT). It was all about the illegal antiquities and art trade in Italy ... if anyone comes across it in their webtravels, please drop me a line ...
A slow news day, but one of the items in my mailbox alerts us to Robert Mapplethorpe's latest at the Guggenheim Museum in which he presents a bunch of photos (and prints) of nudes in various 'Classical' poses.
7.00 p.m. |DCIVC| Moments in Time: Letter from the Roman Front

DCIVC = Discovery Civilization (Canada)
kalendae quintilis

rites in honour of Juno

rites in honour of Felicitas

69 A.D. -- Vespasian hailed as emperor in Alexandria

70 A.D. -- Titus attacks the walls of Jerusalem

1614 -- death of Isaac Casaubon
garrulous @

... and while not strictly etymologically connected, the 'thread' for the archaic enow at Wordsmith is interesting ...
An item from the Hellenic News Radio network which arrived in my mailbox but which I can't seem to access online:

Archaeologist Giannos Kouragios and his team have brought to light
significant archaeological finds. Three parts of archaic Kouroi were
discovered in very good condition during excavations on Despotiko,
close to the Greek island of Antiparos. Specifically the parts are two
bodies and a head, dating back to 560BC. The findings were located on
the uninhabited islet Despotiko, between the islands of Antiparos and
Sifnos. The Kouroi were found in a Sanctuary dedicated to ancient Greek
god Apollo. The leader of the expedition, who spoke exclusively on TV
station NET, explained that heads belonging to Kouroi had been
discovered in 2002, while this year they also discovered the two
bodies. He also added that the head they found was in excellent

The Excavations Are Continuing

The excavations it Mandra, on Despotiko, where the ruins of the
Sanctuary are located, began in 1997 and were funded by the Ministry
for the Aegean and Island Policy. Despotiko has been declared an
archaeological site. The excavations are continuing slowly and with
great care, since it is believed that many more treasures are hidden on
the islet, which has not been altered at all by human intervention.

From the Sofia News Agency:

Archeologists digging in the excavations of ancient Thracian tombs in Bulgaria will need some BGN 200,000 to carry out their work this year.

Dr Georgi Kitov is determined to continue the hard work of previous summer when his team unearthed numerous sensational findings dating nearly five centuries before Christ.

The TEMP expedition of Kitov will resume July 5 its work in the Valley of Thracian Kings. They will extend digging and research of the Goljamata Kosmatka excavations site, Kitov has said as quoted by Bulgarian News Agency.

It has revealed one of richest Thracian tombs known from the times of Antiquity.

Prominent archeologist Georgi Kitov, whose findings brought him the fame of Bulgaria's Indiana Jones, will present his latest book "The Land of Bulgaria. Cradle of Thracian Culture" on June 30 in Sofia.

One bulgarian dollar is (as of this a.m.) roughly .62 $US ... sounds like a good deal considering the publicity Kitov has been getting for Bulgaria.
TOC for the latest Classical Philology, available online from the UChicago Press site if you are fortunate to have access:

Prayer and Curse in Aeschylus' Seven Against Thebes
Eva Stehle

Virgil and Tibullus 1.1
Michael C. J. Putnam

Interactions: Physics, Morality, and Narrative in Seneca Natural Questions 1
Gareth Williams

A Common Source for Jerome, Eutropius, Festus, Ammianus, and the Epitome de Caesaribus between 358 and 378, along with Further Thoughts on the Date and Nature of the Kaisergeschichte
R. W. Burgess
9.00 p.m. |DTC| Hannibal
No short list of the greatest generals in history would be complete without the name of Hannibal, who was both feared and respected by his enemies. Hannibal's tactical genius is illustrated with exciting dramatic reconstructions of his victories.

DTC = Discovery Times Channel