pridie kalendas apriles

rites in honour of Luna at her temple on the Aventine

c. 130 A.D. -- martyrdom of Balbina

250 (?) A.D. -- birth of the future emperor Constantius I Chlorus

307 A.D. -- Constantine marries Fausta, the daughter of Maximian

1596 -- birth of Rene Descartes (author, of course, of that bit of Latin which a pile of folks know)
xenophobia @

fornication @ Worthless Word for the Day

vivacious @ Merriam-Webster
Looks like the campaign is subtly shifting ... from USA Today:

Greece is stepping up the pressure on Britain to return one of the ancient world's most valued treasures: the Elgin Marbles, sculptures removed from the Parthenon in the early 1800s and housed in the British Museum.

Greece announced earlier this month that, after years of delays, it would open its new Acropolis Museum in Athens in September. The modern structure would allow it to properly display and preserve the sculptures from the fifth century B.C.

And that, Greek Culture Minister Michalis Liapis said, "will be a strong argument against those who oppose the Marbles' return."

Not so, British Museum spokeswoman Hannah Boulton says. The Marbles, she says, won't be going to Greece — not out of fear they cannot be preserved, but because they fit in the museum's goal of displaying mankind's shared cultural heritage. "They should remain part of the collection," she says.

The dispute over the Elgin Marbles is part of a worldwide struggle over who owns antiquities. More nations are demanding a return of what they call their cultural heritage that they say was looted over the years, most often by richer nations. Museums, including major ones in the USA, are often the targets.

Greece, Italy, China and a host of other countries, such as Cambodia, are demanding that ancient treasures be given back. They base their claims on new "cultural property" laws that lay claim to art and artifacts inside their borders and a 1970 United Nations convention banning the export of works without a license.

More museums turning over property

A number of museums are complying, and governments are increasingly cooperating.

In recent years, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles have returned works to Greece or Italy.

Last week, Britain's Scotland Yard seized two paintings worth about $20 million at Italy's request. In January, U.S. federal agents raided four Southern California museums in search of art possibly looted from Southeast Asia or from Native American sites.

"A new wind is blowing," Liapis told an international conference on the return of antiquities earlier this month in Athens. The conference was organized by UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. "More and more museums are adopting tighter ethics codes, and governments are promoting bilateral and international cooperation."

The trend of returning works to their presumed land of origin isn't without its critics, however. They question whether today's governments are legitimate heirs of ancient civilizations or whether such antiquities, such as the Elgin Marbles, belong to all mankind.

"No one owns antiquities," says James Cuno, director of the Art Institute of Chicago, who argues that nations are invoking cultural property laws more for political reasons than to preserve or share ancient works with the rest of the world. "It's better to believe that they belong to all of us."

Cuno, who lays out his arguments in his forthcoming book Who Owns Antiquity, says the British Museum has a rightful claim to the Elgin Marbles and that offering them to the public as part of an encyclopedic view of man's cultural development is legitimate.

Dispute has raged for centuries

The dispute over the Elgin Marbles is a longstanding one.

Lord Elgin, a British diplomat, removed about half of the sculptures and friezes remaining on the Parthenon between 1801 and 1805. He had the permission of the Ottoman Empire that then ruled Greece. The British Museum obtained them from Elgin in 1816 and has displayed them free to the public since. Last year, 5.4 million people visited the museum.

Greek governments since World War II have questioned the ownership of the Marbles and demanded their return. The museum has steadfastly refused. "Our position hasn't changed," Boulton says. Displaying the Marbles with the Rosetta stone, plus Egyptian, Roman and other works from around the world, helps "tell a much broader story" of man's cultural development than if they were shown at the Acropolis with other Greek artifacts, she says.

Amid the struggle is a growing effort to find some middle ground in which works can be preserved and the whole world has a chance to see artifacts from different parts of the world in nearby museums.

Cuno suggests that archaeologists, museums and nations return to a pre-World War II policy called "partage," in which everyone could share. Under it, wealthier universities or foundations would underwrite the archaeological work in poorer countries and then share the finds with the host nations.

He says partage led to great exploration, knowledge and to great museum collections around the globe, including in such nations as Egypt and Iraq that didn't have them before. The result, he says, is more people around the world could see works in more museums.
Not sure what's happening at the Times today ... first there's the Sodom and Gomorrah piece (which follows this), then there's this throwaway remark:

Scrapbooks were invented by the Ancient Greeks but the modern variant was launched in Utah in the 1980s as a way of embellishing family photo albums.

Surely the writer didn't take intros like this one seriously:

Like many things in life, we owe scrapbooking to the Ancient Greeks. Great thinkers such as Aristotle, Plato and Socrates liked nothing better after a hard day's thinking than to dive into their stash and knock up a couple of 12 x 12 layouts whilst tucking into a plate of feta and black olives.

... or perhaps they were swayed by a Wikipedia thing about scrapbooking which mentions:

In ancient Greece hypomnemata were a form of notebook for recording one's own copies of what one had heard, read, or thought that might be worth remembering. There is little evidence in the archaeological and historical record that this practice was undertaken anywhere else previously.

... which looks like yet another attempt to find an ancient source for something utterly modern.
A bit out of our period, but there is some ClassCon mentioned in passing ... from the Times:

A clay tablet that has baffled scientists for 150 years has been identified as a witness’s account of the asteroid suspected of being behind the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Researchers who cracked the cuneiform symbols on the Planisphere tablet believe that it recorded an asteroid thought to have been more than half a mile across.

The tablet, found by Henry Layard in the remains of the library in the royal place at Nineveh in the mid-19th century, is thought to be a 700BC copy of notes made by a Sumerian astronomer watching the night sky.

He referred to the asteroid as “white stone bowl approaching” and recorded it as it “vigorously swept along”.

Using computers to recreate the night sky thousands of years ago, scientists have pinpointed his sighting to shortly before dawn on June 29 in the year 3123BC.

About half the symbols on the tablet have survived and half of those refer to the asteroid. The other symbols record the positions of clouds and constellations. In the past 150 years scientists have made five unsuccessful attempts to translate the tablet.

Mark Hempsell, one of the researchers from Bristol University who cracked the tablet’s code, said: “It’s a wonderful piece of observation, an absolutely perfect piece of science.”

He said the size and route of the asteroid meant that it was likely to have crashed into the Austrian Alps at Köfels. As it travelled close to the ground it would have left a trail of destruction from supersonic shock waves and then slammed into the Earth with a cataclysmic impact.

Debris consisting of up to two thirds of the asteroid would have been hurled back along its route and a flash reaching temperatures of 400C (752F) would have been created, killing anyone in its path. About one million sq km (386,000 sq miles) would have been devastated and the impact would have been equivalent to more than 1,000 tonnes of TNT exploding.

Dr Hempsall said that at least 20 ancient myths record devastation of the type and on the scale of the asteroid’s impact, including the Old Testament tale of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the Ancient Greek myth of how Phaeton, son of Helios, fell into the River Eridanus after losing control of his father’s sun chariot.

The findings of Dr Hempsall and Alan Bond, of Reaction Engines Ltd, are published in a book, A Sumerian Observation of the Köfels’ Impact Event.

The researchers say that the asteroid’s impact would explain why at Köfels there is evidence of an ancient landslide 5km wide and 500m thick.

I dunno ... I have a strange feeling about this one. I'm not sure how a computer can determine an asteroid in the night sky 5000 years ago. I'm not sure how one determines something is a 700 B.C. copy of something two and a half millennia before that (which would be at the 'beginning' of cuneiform writing, and in a different form/style). I am automatically skeptical when we're told someone has 'cracked the code' of something ancient ... cf. the coverage in the Telegraph, which seems a bit less sensational but still invites skepticism ...
... a bit of catching up needed ...

From BMCR:

Steven D. Smith, Greek Identity and the Athenian Past in Chariton. The Romance of Empire. Ancient Narrative Supplementum, 9.

H.E.M. Cool, Eating and Drinking in Roman Britain.

Virginia Burrus, Saving Shame: Martyrs, Saints, and Other Abject Subjects.

Ingo Gildenhard, Paideia Romana. Cicero's Tusculan Disputations. Cambridge Classical Journal. Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society. Supplementary Volume 30.

C.W. Marshall, The Stagecraft and Performance of Roman Comedy.

Christoph Markschies, Origenes und sein Erbe: Gesammelte Studien. Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur 160.

Rachel Hall Sternberg, Tragedy Offstage: Suffering and Sympathy in Ancient Athens.

S. J. Harrison, Generic Enrichment in Vergil and Horace.

Joanne Berry, The Complete Pompeii.

Simon Goldhill, How to Stage Greek Tragedy Today.

G.R.F. Ferrari (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Plato's Republic.

Ioanna Karamanou, Euripides. Danae and Dictys. Introduction, Text and Commentary. Beitraege zur Altertumskunde, 228.

Claudia Montuschi, Il tempo in Ovidio. Funzioni, meccanismi, strutture. Accademia La colombaria studi, 226.

Francesca D'Alfonso, Euripide in Giovanni Malala.

Michael Attyah Flower, The Seer in Ancient Greece.

Klaus Tausend, Verkehrswege der Argolis: Rekonstruktion und historische Bedeutung. Geographica Historica, 23.

Ferdinande Hoelscher, Tonio Hoelscher, Roemische Bilderwelten. Von der Wirklichkeit zum Bild und zurueck. Kolloquium der Gerda Henkel Stiftung am Deutschen Archaeologischen Institut Rom 15.-17.3.2004. Archaeologie und Geschichte vol. 12.

Sven Von Hofsten, The Feline-Prey Theme in Archaic Greek Art. Classification-Distribution-Origin-Iconographical Context.

Gisela Walberg, Midea. The Megaron Complex and Shrine Area. Excavations on the Lower Terraces 1994-1997. Prehistory Monographs 20.

Peter Liddel, Civic Obligation and Individual Liberty in Ancient Athens.

From Fabula:

J. Parini, Why Poetry Matters

From CJ Online:

M. Tulli Ciceronis De re publica, De legibus, Cato Maior de senectute, Laelius de amicitia. Edited by J.G.F. POWELL.

Some Theatre Reviews:

The Persians (Santa Barbara)

Lysistrata (San Jose)

Medea (New York)

More reviews of Conversations in Tusculum:

Financial Times
The Village Voice

From ANSA:

A Roman fresco recovered by art police from a private house in Paris last month went on show to the public for the first time in Rome on Thursday.

Archaeologists believe the painting was illegally removed during the 1970s from the walls of a villa in Oplontis, one of the towns covered in ash and cinder during the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79.

Dating to the first century AD, the painting shows a bower of vines, a satyr riding a mule, and a cloaked woman making a sacrifice at an altar.

The three-metre long fresco is the largest landscape-themed painting ever found in the Vesuvian area. ''It's rare to see a landscape fresco of these dimensions,'' said government archaeology chief Stefano De Caro.

''Usually they are small pictures showing ports or wild nature scenes. But here we have a rural landscape, with rows of vines and a big shrine - perhaps that of Dionysus (the Greek god of wine),'' he added.

Although archaeologists have yet to work out exactly where the fragmented fresco comes from, De Caro said it may once have decorated exterior walls overlooking a garden.

Italian art police worked with Swiss, Belgian and French investigators to track down the painting, which they knew had been in Geneva in the early 1980s. The fresco hung for some time in the house of a rich industrialist in Brussels before eventually finding its way to Paris.

Investigators discovered the painting in the house of French publisher and art collector Jacques Marcoux in Place Vendome in February.

After its 40-year trip abroad, the fresco has gone on display at Palazzo Massimo as part of an exhibition of wall paintings from Pompeii, Herculaneum and other Vesuvian towns that runs until March 30.

De Caro said the fresco would be returned to the Pompeii archaeology superintendency when the show ends.
ARCS is extending its search for the position of Director, since
funding may not be available before mid June.

Director, American Research Center in Sofia
Pending funding, the American Research Center in Sofia
( seeks to appoint an experienced
administrator and scholar of distinction as its Director (preferably
with a Ph.D. from a North American institution). The Director reports
to the Chair of the Center's Managing Committee and President of the
Trustees in drawing up and carrying out the academic and fiscal
policies of the Center. The Director is the chief administrator of
the Center's operations in Bulgaria and oversees all its activities,
including its academic program, summer session, and collaborative
research programs. The Director takes the lead in designing the
academic program and participates actively in the training of
graduate students at the Center. All members of the staff in Bulgaria
report to the Director. The Director ensures that the Center follows
all Bulgarian laws and regulations. The Director works with the
Director of the US Office in fund-raising, financial accounting, and
communicating with the Managing Committee. The term is flexible, two
to five years, although a term of at least three years is desirable.
It begins on July 1, 2008, and is renewable. Salary and benefits are
commensurate with rank and experience, with housing at the Research
Center included. Review of applications will begin on April 21.
Candidates must demonstrate strong qualities of leadership and state
clearly their views on the mission of the Research Center. They
should send a curriculum vitae, a statement of their interest in the
position and their views on the mission of the Research Center, and
the names of three referees to Professor Kevin Clinton, Chair,
Managing Committee, American Research Center in Sofia. Since ARCS is
in the process of preparing to move to permanent quarters,
submissions should be sent electronically (by e-mail attachments) to
kmc1 AT

The American Research Center in Sofia (ARCS) is a consortium of over
60 institutions of higher learning registered in North America. It
was established in 2004 as an organization dedicated to facilitating
academic research in Bulgaria for North American scholars and
collaboration between scholars from North America and countries in
Southeast Europe (Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and
Montenegro). The Center facilitates research in Bulgaria by offering
fellows and research teams logistical support. Visiting scholars and
fellows take advantage of the network established by the Center for
use of the resources of Bulgarian institutions, and the Center helps
to obtain necessary permits and approvals for research projects. The
Center also facilitates training in the languages of the region for
American scholars and sponsors conferences, guest lectures, seminars
and talks by visiting fellows, and other cultural events. For the
academic year 2008/2009 ARCS will offer three academic programs with
accompanying fellowships: a 9-month program for the period
September-May; a fall term program for the period September-November;
and a spring term program for the period February-April (for details
see ). With recent major grants from
the Packard Humanities ARCS has purchased its own building in Sofia,
which includes extensive library space and housing for the director,
visitors, and students.
The University of Stockholm and the Institute of Greece, Rome and the Classical Tradition, University of Bristol present

Reconstructing Pompeian Interiors: Decorations, Models and Virtual Reality
Friday 25th-Sunday 27th April 2008
At locations throughout Stockholm including the
Medelhavsmuseet, Royal Pavilion at Haga, Gustav III's antikmuseum in the Royal Palace

Papers by:
Agnes Allroggen-Bedel (Bad-Ems), Bettina Bergman (Mt Holyoke), Irene Bragantini (Naples), Hugh Denard (KCL), Shelley Hales (Bristol), Nina Heiska (Helsinki), Margot Hleunig (Bern),
Valentin Kockel (Augsburg), Anne-Marie Leander Touati (Stockholm), Margareta Nisser-Dalman (Uppsala), Antero Tammisto & Helena Wassholm (Helsinki), Mantha Zarmakoupi (Oxford/UCL)

For further information, please contact Anne-Marie Leander Touati (anne-marie.leander AT or Shelley Hales (shelley.hales AT
I wasn't going to make any comments about the Olympic Torch thing (as I have done in the past) primarily because of the protests associated with it (I try to avoid injecting politics here if it isn't absolutely necessary), but since Mary Beard has made a fine rant about the fascist origins of the thing and it is getting picked up in more mainstream venues (e.g. the Spectator, the CHE, etc.) I'm worried that folks might think there is absolutely nothing Classical about it. (pardon that near-run-on sentence)

While we can acknowledge that the Berlin Olympics made the torch relay into the spectacle MB is ranting about, it must be pointed out that torch races and torch relays were a feature of ancient athletic competitions, such at the Panathenaia, the Prometheia, and several others. On this, see appendix A (p. 190 ff) in Donald G. Kyle, Athletics in Ancient Athens. (available at Google Books; the whole appendix did show up in a preview).

So should we get rid of the torch race? Probably not ... for my part, though, I could do without the speeches and other babblings of non-athletes looking for photo-ops.
From A.P.:

Robert Fagles, a professor emeritus at Princeton University whose bold, flowing translations of Homer and Virgil made him an esteemed and best-selling classical scholar, has died. He was 74.

Fagles died Wednesday in Princeton of prostate cancer, the university said Friday.

"He was a quiet man, diligent and decorous, yet one who was unexpectedly equal to the swagger and savagery of Homer's 'Iliad' and 'Odyssey' in a way no one had managed before him," Princeton humanities professor and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon said in a statement.

According to Fagles' publisher, Viking, his translations have sold more than 4 million copies worldwide and he was the rare scholar who enjoyed both an academic and popular audience. He received numerous awards, including the National Humanities Medal, the Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the PEN/Ralph Manheim prize for lifetime achievement. His editions were staged all over the world and the audiobooks attracted such acclaimed actors as Derek Jacobi, who narrates "The Iliad," and Simon Callow for "The Aeneid."

One fan even wrote to Fagles, saying he wanted to name his cat after him.

"I suggested `Bob-Cat,'" Fagles recalled in a 2006 interview with The Associated Press.

Two years ago, his long-awaited edition of "The Aeneid" was released, a decade-long project for which Fagles — whose specialty was Greek — had to refresh himself on the Latin he learned in college, using grammar books, and the works of Catullus and Horace and other Roman writers. He was first diagnosed with cancer while working on "The Aeneid" and suffered from Parkinson's disease.

"The Aeneid," Virgil's immortal tale of the warrior Aeneus and the founding of Rome, capped a trilogy of critically and commercially successful translations of the classical world's greatest epics, starting with "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey." All were praised for honoring the translator's highest calling: Respecting the original text, while making it fresh and relevant for the contemporary reader.

Fagles' art was apparent in his interpretation of Virgil's most famous words from "The Aeneid," the first line, "Arma virumque cano," immortalized in the 17th century by John Dryden as "Of Arms and the Man I Sing," a title George Bernard Shaw lifted for his anti-war comedy, "Arms and the Man."

For Dryden, and for some of Virgil's contemporaries, "Arms and the Man" was Virgil's boast that he would combine the qualities of Homer's two works ("The Iliad" being a story of arms, "The Odyssey" of a man, the soldier Odysseus) into a single story. Fagles' interpretation, "Wars and a man I sing," is more somber, emphasizing the contrast between the plurality of battles (wars) and the singularity of Aeneus (a man).

"I wanted to convey something about the modern understanding of war, and then about a man, an exile, a common soldier left terribly alone in the field of battle," he told the AP in 2006. "Aeneus is like Clint Eastwood, like Gary Cooper, a warrior and a worrier. He changes into the heroic tragic man, duty and endure, endure and duty."

In "The Aeneid," Fagles made other changes. He ignored meter and rhyme. While other translators told "The Aeneid" in the past tense, Fagles used the present, believing that the story demanded immediacy and tension.

Born in Philadelphia and himself a published poet, Fagles came to classical literature and translation relatively late, or late for his chosen field. He was a junior at Amherst College when he read "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey" and longed to learn them in their original language.

Fagles' first published translation, of the lyric poet Bacchilydes, came out in 1961, around the same time he joined the Princeton University faculty. He translated several Greek tragedies, including works by Aeschylus and Sophocles, and took on "The Iliad" in the 1970s.

"I was younger then," Fagles said with a laugh in 2006, "younger and more foolish.

"It was a question of going back to the source, where did the tragedies come from? One of the great surprises and pleasures in translating `The Iliad' is that so much of it was dramatic discourse, people talking to other people," he says. "It was quite dramatic, not all that far from the plays I worked on."

Speaking in 2006, he was grateful just to see "The Aeneid" published. Virgil, who lived in the first century b.c.e, worked on his masterpiece near the end of his life and died without completing it, urging that the text be destroyed. Fagles, too, wondered if he would finish his work.

"I know that even when I started on `The Iliad,' I thought I was pressing my luck. I didn't know if I would live through it; it's a question on anybody's mind when you take on a 10-year project," he said.

"In a sense, all translations are unfinished. One thing I have learned is that no one will have the final say, that each generation needs its own translation. Some translators, like (John) Dryden, hoped that their work would last longer than a generation. That may be a vain hope."

Fagles, who was not working on any project at the time of his death, retired from the Princeton faculty in 2002. Last year, the school awarded him an honorary doctor of humane letters for "four decades of feats on behalf of Princeton, as the founding father of comparative literature, as a gracious and wise colleague and as an inspiring mentor and teacher."

He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Lynne, and their two grown daughters.
ante diem v kalendas apriles

37 A.D. -- arrival of Gaius (Caligula) in Rome

193 A.D. -- murder of the emperor Pertinax; recognition of Didius Julianus as Augustus

364 A.D. -- elevation of Valens to the rank of Augustus

... in the early Church, this was one of the days claimed as the day of Jesus' birth ...
A somewhat scant item from Western News:

A new PhD program in Classics will begin in September.

The Department of Classical Studies has offered a successful MA program since 1952, having last undergone a periodic appraisal by the Ontario Council on Graduate Studies in 2004.

A report arising from that process evaluated the program as “more than meeting the standards of good quality” and urged the department to introduce a PhD program to make fuller use of its strengths.

Since that time, five new faculty members have been hired with specialties that build upon and extend the academic fields of the department. The planned intake for the doctoral program will be three students a year, leading to a steady state enrolment of approximately 12.

Western is the University of Western Ontario in London (Ontario) ...
... but this one's a little different. From the St. Petersburg Times:

It is an hour before sunset and the sculptural crags of southern Tuscany are aglow. The air is soft and from somewhere faraway I can make out two men singing bits of Verdi.

But my mind is on something different. As I plod through a steep forest, behind a man dressed all in black, I am beginning to wonder if my penchant for living like a local is at last going to get me jailed. It is one thing to eat from street vendors and hang out with old ladies in black, but what I was doing now . . .

Suddenly my Italian friend whose backpack I had been following for an hour stops and faces me. Ask no questions, he says. "Be silent and watch."

"Watch for what?" I want to know as we resume our climb up the steep terrain surrounding this 12th century town. "Look at his palms," my friend says, as we struggle to find the cave where the grave-robber had said to meet him. "If he has dents on his palms, we can believe he truly knows where the tombs are. He will have marks from pushing poles into the earth and deep into buried tombs."

When my friend, who lives in a storybook stone cottage, had invited me to visit Pitigliano and this serenely undulating region of Tuscany, I had expected to be sipping wine and twirling pasta for two weeks. Instead, here we were in a rocky forest, ready to inspect illegally obtained Etruscan artifacts. But it is all right. The local mago (magician), who lives in the valley below, has told us we will not be discovered. All the locals believe him — why shouldn't I?

And there is more. The Italian philosopher-mechanic, who heroically keeps our moribund Jeep running in a kind of dead-man-walking state, and the sexy British expatriate beekeeper both had shrugged that, "It is a sin that such beautiful Etruscan objects should sleep beneath the earth." Yes, of course, we had all decided, we should help to awaken them. Beauty must see the light of day. Of course, we all knew the Italian government might have a different take on our stealthy activities. The removal of antiquities is strictly forbidden and punished with a fervor unexpected in the usually laid-back Italian bureaucracy.

A walk though history

Still, the romance that seems to swirl through Tuscany like smoke on an autumn night has enveloped us all. Gazing upward through the trees, I can see the grand specter of the town, parapets piled one on another, the massive city wall menacing to intruders, and the whole cliff aglow in sunset-sienna.

From the 10th century B.C., a town had perched on this cliff watching over the confluence of three rivers from its strategic position above. Neolithic dwellers, then Etruscan tribes, and finally the Romans who migrated north had all felt safe here. By the 13th century, the town of Pitigliano was home not only to Christians, but also to a large Jewish community as well. For much of the next 500 years, Pitigliano came under the protection of two great Italian families, the Orsinis and the Medicis, before becoming part of the Kingdom of Italy. Today, the 1545 Orsini fortress squats squarely within the great walls and the sounds of baroque concerts are heard throughout the summer. And of the Jewish population that once was so large it was called "Little Jerusalem"? There are but three people left.

Deep in the forest, we squat in the ebbing light beside a boarded-up opening in a tufa wall. These porous cliffs were dug into by each of the peoples who lived here. Living quarters, sheds, wine cellars, animal pens, and some above-ground tombs, the tufa was warm, smooth and soft.

A heritage disappears

As we wait for our nefarious contact, the beekeeper admits she is nervous. Speaking Italian like a local, she says she's not sure she trusts the grave-robber to produce authentic vases and artifacts, yet she'll be even more anxious if he does. She decides to change the subject to calm herself.

"Did you know I was Jewish?" she says, by way of conversation. "I can take you to several restaurants in Pitigliano with wonderful kosher risotto and gefilte fish with an Italian twist. We even have a kosher white wine and chianti." The beekeeper relaxes as she goes on. "After living in the expanding ghetto for centuries, the Jewish population comprised nearly one-third of Pitigliano. It was when Italy became a nation that the Jews were free to go. They dispersed all over Europe. And that was really the end here. The 'unleavened bread bakery' that sits under the street near the synagogue, the Jewish cemetery and the Jewish University — all were forgotten." Thankfully, she says, restorations begun in 1995 have now made Pitigliano's Hebraic sites a kind of pilgrimage stop for Jewish visitors.

Suddenly, there is movement in the near darkness around us. My friend, who knows his Etruscan earthenware and vouches for the grave-robber's "credentials," stands up. The philosopher-mechanic remains still — perhaps pondering "the greatest good for the greatest number." The beekeeper seems to inhale quickly as she glances at the mago. The magician, who had "read" the patterns of oil poured into water, seems calm and diffident and quietly takes her hand.

Me? We are a band of multinational nincompoops, I think to myself. Like Cub Scouts in the woods, we should just go home for hot chocolate before the Italian authorities haul us all away. And then the grave-robber steps out of the darkness.

Not the real thing

Carrying a weathered cardboard box, he shrugs at my friend and nods to the rest of us. "Ah," he says in Italian, "Sometimes we have luck and sometimes, she goes away . . ." He reaches into the box. With flashlights poised, we focus on what he pulls out. From a jumble of pottery, he extracts a small, black vase with exquisitely curved handles on a narrow base. Coated with dirt, the umber and white paintings are still visible. An Etruscan vase — I'm thinking — it must be 8th century. And then, "Sfortuna, unfortunately," he says, "this is a copy." We all turn our flashlights toward his face. With a smile he gestures at the box. "Another buyer, he buys all the real ones . . . but these! These are beautiful, are they not?"

With relief, I snap up a couple of imitation Etruscan vases for souvenirs, grateful I won't be handcuffed coming out of the forest with genuine antiquities. My friend, however, is disgusted. He has gotten some prize pieces just this way, he assures us. The philosopher has remained philosophical and the mago says he had predicted there would be no problems all along. The beekeeper's Italian had developed an English accent in her nervousness, but now she is giggling as we tramp out of the forest.

On our way, she invites me up into the town of Pitigliano for a glass of kosher bianco vino. As we climb through the darkness, I ask her, "Did you notice anything unusual about the grave-robber's hands?" With a quizzical look, she says no. I tell her about the dents on the palms of real robbers. Then with an Italian shrug acquired through many experiences just like this one, she says, "The only thing real about this grave-robber was the dust on his hands from digging the fake vases out of his garden. Even new dirt looks authentic in the dark!"
From Marsalace comes news of a large dedicatory inscription (it seems) to Hercules:

Nel corso dei lavori di fruizione e valorizzazione del parco archeologico di Capo Boeo a Marsala, che si sono svolti durante le scorse settimane, è stata ritrovata una grande epigrafe in lingua latina, che faceva riferimento ad un tempio di Ercole. La scoperta, sottoposto ad attenta analisi dagli archeologi del Servizio per i Beni Archeologici della Soprintendenza di Trapani, diretti da Rossella Giglio, è stata effettuata ...

al margine esterno delle strutture note da tempo della cosiddetta “villa” romana. Si tratta di due grandi blocchi monumentali, che presentano sulla faccia esterna una iscrizione pubblica a grandi lettere in lingua latina che si sviluppano in quattro righe, che sono oggetto di attenti studi e analisi per l’interpretazione. L'epigrafe è stata presentata ieri alla cittadinanza marsalese e alle scolaresche, nell’ambito delle attività programmate per la “Settimana dei beni culturali”, presso il museo archeologico “Baglio Anselmi”. Dalle primissime analisi autoptiche, ancora da verificare, sembrerebbe che le grandi lastre dell'epigrafe verosimilmente provenissero da un tempio e che furono riadoperate, qualche secolo dopo la sua distruzione, per la sistemazione del margine della strada. Si tratta di uno dei cardini, le strade che tagliavano in direzione grossomodo nord-sud ad angolo retto i decumani, nella grande maglia perfettamente regolare che caratterizzava l’urbanistica della città antica. La responsabile del servizio per i beni archeologici, Rossella Giglio, ha dichiarato che l’antico assetto topografico si può verificare nella città attuale in alcuni isolati che attraversano il decumano massimo, oggi via XI Maggio: ad esempio quelli che sono delimitati dalle vie Correale, Vaccari, Rapisardi.

Marsala is the ancient Lilybaeum ...
ante diem vi kalendas apriles

47 B.C. -- Gaius Julius Caesar is victorious in Alexandria

47 B.C. -- Ptolemy XIII drowns while trying to cross the Nile (related to the foregoing event?)
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colleague @ Merriam-Webster
Nothing really new here, but it's a bit of a slow day ... from NPR:

Lovers of ancient Rome have another treasure to behold as the home where future Roman Emperor Augustus lived in about 30 BC is now open to the public.

Located on the Palatine Hill overlooking the Roman Forum, the house features four rooms that have been breathtakingly restored since they were discovered half a century ago. Vividly colored frescoes that experts say are among the best surviving examples of Roman art adorn the walls.

The Palatine Hill was where all the VIPs of the period chose to live.

"When in English you say 'palace,' it comes from here. It was the palatium, the ancient palace of Augustus and all emperors of Rome," says Francesco Rutelli, Italy's culture minister and a former mayor of Rome.

"It's an incredible place. ... You have a stadium here, you have the house of Augustus, the house of [his wife] Livia, you have the terme, ancient baths," Rutelli says during a tour of the site. "I think we have much to learn, much to teach and much to preserve."

The discovery of a single fragment of painted plaster nearly 50 years ago led archaeologists to a mound of rubble. After careful digging, they found exquisite frescoes originally commissioned by Augustus, commonly known as Octavian.

Gianna Musatti was among those who helped restore the home of Augustus, the great-nephew and adopted son of Julius Caesar who became the first emperor of Rome.

"These frescoes are among the most beautiful we have in Italy," Musatti says. "They are on a par with Pompeii, and they are of excellent quality because the future emperor could hire the best painters of the time."

In 31 BC, Augustus' forces triumphed over the armies of Mark Antony and Cleopatra. His ascension to power effectively ended the republic and gave rise to the Roman Empire.

But his first home on the Palatine was sober — in fact, the historian Suetonius described it as modest. The frescoes, while done in vivid shades of red, blue and ochre, are far from ostentatious.

One of the four restored rooms is decorated with scenes of an elegant garden. Another, called the "room of the masks," has a theatrical theme with a trompe d'oeil stage with two doors ajar and comic masks peering from small windows with a garden behind.

Some sections of the frescoes were found intact, while others were painstakingly pieced together from thousands of tiny fragments. Musatti says 90 percent of the decorations have been restored and that everything visible is original.

The pigments retained their brilliance partly because the frescoes were buried under rubble for centuries and kept safe from the degenerative effects of humidity, Musatti says. To prevent sudden changes in temperature and humidity that could damage the frescoes, authorities have decided to allow only five visitors in at a time.

Last November, as restorers were surveying the foundations of the house, they came across a 50-foot-deep cavity with a vaulted ceiling encrusted with mosaics and seashells. The grotto was deemed too ornate to have been part of a home, and some archaeologists think it may be the sacred cave where ancient Romans believed a she-wolf nursed the city's founders, Romulus and Remus, and where the city itself was born.

"Traditions, legends, faiths and history go together in Rome," Rutelli says. "The myth of the foundation of the city was not only myth, because we discover ... the very place where the entrance door of the origin of Rome was created eight centuries before Christ."

Although the underground chamber — known as the Lupercale, from the Latin word for wolf — has yet to be excavated, visitors to the area have an abundance of sites to see. A $16 ticket buys access to the Forum, the Palatine Hill and the nearby Colosseum, and proceeds go toward funding further archaeological work.

A nice photo of the 'room of the masks' accompanies the original article ... given a recent discussion on the Classics list, I wonder whether those are cats on the roof of the scene?

From the Blackpool Gazette:

WORKMEN digging new sewers have unearthed part of Poulton's Roman past.
The remains of a Roman roundhouse, thought to date back to the second century, were discovered as United Utilities were working on a new pipeline project, on grazing land near Garstang Road East.

The amazing find was unearthed five weeks ago as work on a £10m sewer improvement scheme began. As is the case with any large scheme, an archaeologist was present on-site in case anything of historic interest appeared. Within hours of the workmen moving in, it became clear that a significant discovery had been made.

Alison Plummer, from the Lancaster office of Oxford Archaeology, which works with United Utilities, said: "As the topsoil was stripped away, we realised we were looking at something very exciting and rare.


"Finds like this are very rare in Lancashire, and especially rare in this area, there are only two other Roman roundhouses that we know of in the county – one outside Lancaster and one near Lathom.

"Our team of 10 archaeologists are now working at the football pitch-sized site, painstakingly uncovering and documenting what remains of the Romano-British roundhouse which is around 10m diameter."

A small amount of black burnished ware pottery, thought to date from around the second century, has been found which has helped experts date the roundhouse.

The remains of the house, which the team believe would have been a dwelling house, include an outside drainage gulley, holes for the timber support posts, some cobbles and a storage pit.

The archaeological team believe they have also discovered signs of a further roundhouse a few metres away, suggesting this could have been the site of an early settlement.

Local people are invited to see the site for themselves tomorrow as part of an open day before the site is covered over once more.

Poulton-based archaeologist Pascal Eloy said: "This is such an important find and it really re-writes Poulton's history.

"Previously there was a big gap in history in this area, so it is really exciting to have this link with the Romans here."

The site will be open between 11am and 3pm for members of the public to see the discoveries.

The team is appealing to people to keep away at other times in case the site is disturbed.

Archaeologists will be on-site for the next two weeks documenting every detail of their finds and taking photographs which will eventually form the basis of an information archive.

There's a video accompanying the article which provides rather more detail about the finds themselves ...
ante diem vii kalendas apriles

1546 -- death of Thomas Elyot (compiler of the first major (?) Latin-English dictionary)

1859 -- birth of A.E. Housman
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glottogony @ Worthless Word for the Day

sericerous @ Merriam-Webster
Last week it was the Agora ... this week, from Red Orbit:

Each Monday, this column turns a page in history to explore the discoveries, events and people that continue to affect the history being made today.

It was the pivotal moment in an ancient soap opera, one marked by intrigue, romance, betrayal and widespread consequence.

The Battle of Actium in 31 B.C. was an epic showdown that pitted Mark Antony and Cleopatra against spurned former ally Octavian. When Octavian eventually reigned supreme in battle, it meant the end of the Roman Republic for good and the beginning of the Roman Empire, whose influences were ultimately felt throughout the world.

Antony's colossal defeat also led to his and Cleopatra's Shakespearean double-suicide, providing plenty of movie fodder 2,000 years later.

Roman soap opera

Rome had been a republic for more than 450 years when things started to dissolve. De facto leader Julius Caesar was assassinated on the Ides of March in 44 B.C., escalating a messy civil war and creating a power vacuum that would be filled by two equally power-hungry politicians and militarists - Mark Antony and Octavian, Caesar's adopted son.

Power sharing between the two was tenuous, but a truce was formed when Antony was betrothed to Octavian's sister. It wouldn't last long, however, because - in true soap opera form - there would soon be another woman to contend with.

Cleopatra, a beautiful and shrewd queen who already had a son by Julius Caesar, was the Pharaoh of Egypt when Rome started to implode. When Mark Antony passed through Egypt after a battle in the Near East, she seduced him too, angering Octavian over the disregard of his sister.

The resulting tension between Antony and Octavian in 31 B.C. had less to do with Octavian's hurt pride than the worry over Antony and Cleopatra's growing influence in the region, historians say, but it certainly makes for an interesting story.

Movie-style showdown

It's hard to imagine a more movie-worthy showdown than the one between Antony and Cleopatra on one side with a fleet totaling 500 warships, and Octavian on the other with almost 1,000, for control of the entire vast territory of the Roman Republic.

The Battle of Actium was fought in the waters off Greece - a Roman territory, at the time - and ended in the complete obliteration of Antony and Cleopatra's forces. When it was over, the waters were choked with the naval wreckage, historians at the time noted, as well as the bodies of 5,000 sailors.

Antony and Cleopatra did not go down with their navy. Recognizing their impeding defeat, the lovers fled in their separate ships and were chased down by Octavian. They both committed suicide instead of being captured. To seal his victory and eliminate competition, Octavian went to Egypt and executed Cleopatra's children by Antony as well as Julius Caesar's one and only son.

Worldwide consequences

Shakespeare turned the story of Antony and Cleopatra into a famous play, but historically, the Battle of Actium had even more important consequences.

Octavian, for his part, remained standing as the sole ruler of Rome in a time when the Republic was hanging on by a thread. Just a few years later, he was renamed Augustus and declared divine head of the new Roman Empire, a system that would last a further 400 years and engulf much of Europe, as well as parts of the Middle East and Africa under its rule.

Rome's influence over the language, religion and architecture of the 2.2 million square miles it once controlled lasts until this day.

By killing Julius Caesar and Cleopatra's son Caesarion, Octavian also effectively ended a 4,000-year tradition in Egypt. There would not be another true pharaoh in that country, which was absorbed under the banner of the empire.

It's been a decade since the Actium Project ... I thought there was going to be some deep water investigation ...
3.00 p.m. |DCIVC| Mummy Detective: The Three Kings
The identity of the Magi who visited the Christ child in Bethlehem is a biblical mystery; trace their journey from Persia to Jerusalem to their confrontation with Herod; find out why they brought their signature gifts, and how they vanished from history.

DCIVC = Discovery Civilization (Canada)
ante diem viii kalendas apriles

c. 30 A.D. -- crucifixion of Dismas "the Good Thief" at Jerusalem

101 A.D. -- Trajan departs for his first war against the Dacians

235 A.D. -- The emperor Maximinus Thrax is coopted into all the priestly colleges

c. 269 A.D. -- martyrdom of Cyrinus
repine @

patulus @ Worthless Word for the Day
From the New York Times:

As reflected on this Sunday’s letters page, readers took us to task after Colson Whitehead — in his March 2 back-page essay, “I Write in Brooklyn. Get Over It” — called Walter Hill’s 1979 youth-gang cult film “The Warriors” “a glorious B-movie version of “The Odyssey.”

Whitehead, of course, is free to compare whatever film to whatever book he wants. But readers pointed out that “The Warriors,” about a Coney Island gang on the run far from its home turf, was based on Sol Yurick’s novel of the same title, which in turn was explicitly inspired not by the “Odyssey” but by Xenophon’s “Anabasis.” It’s the eye-witness high-adventure story of 10,000 or so real Greek mercenary warriors who, at the end of the fifth century B.C., found themselves trapped in the heart of the mighty Persian empire (not far from Baghdad, as it happens) and had to fight their way back home, through Armenia and along the shore of the Black Sea. (Thalatta! Thalatta! “The sea! The sea!”)

The “Anabasis” is a classic volume in the annals of the Clash of Civilizations, dramatic, rich in incidental detail and well worth reading. (Among much, much else, for bibliophiles, it contains the best evidence for the wide circulation of books in the classical Greek world: Xenophon mentions that “many written book-rolls” were among the commercial plunder that local Thracians took from Greek ships grounded on the Black Sea coast, plying the routes between Greek cities and trading posts there.)

It’s amazing how apt the gang motif is for Xenophon’s work, both in terms of the diverse, exotic, often fierce inhabitants of the Persian empire (freely translated on film into Baseball Furies, High Hats, Electric Eliminators and so forth) and of the Greeks themselves. “The Ten Thousand were a gang of roughs,” George Cawkwell writes in his introduction to the book’s Penguin edition, and Occidentalist loyalty wavers a mite when our Hellenic heroes are plundering villages, grabbing people to sell in the slave market or manhandling the natives they intend to use as guides. (I don’t want to meet the Warriors on the F train.) But you can say this for Xenophon the Athenian — he got most of his crew out alive, something not true of the vaunted Odysseus (check it out: Odysseus’s men, survival rate zero!).

It puzzles me why filmmakers so often fail in trying to play the classics straight but sometimes oddly succeed in capturing some real essence of an ancient work in an exaggerated or outrageous guise. (Zack Snyder’s 2007 film “300,” about the Battle of Thermopylae but based primarily on a graphic novel by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley, is another example of the same.) Xenophon is relatively easy Greek, and a lot of students start out reading it. But the classicist Robin Lane Fox concedes that “The Warriors” is “now the Ten Thousand’s best-known legacy.” Anyway, it made an impression on me: One Halloween, I dressed up my older daughter, 9 at the time, as a Baseball Fury — a cheap but effective costume if your kid already has a uniform.
ante diem ix kalendas apriles

Festival of Mars (day 24)

Quando Rex Comitavit Fas -- a somewhat obscure entry in the Roman calendar which seems to hearken back to the days of the monarchy. A plausible explanation connects this with the fact that this was one of the days when the ancient Comitia Calata would 'witness' wills, and so other legal matters could not take place until the king had dismissed the comitia.

Happy blogday to Jim Davilia's Paleojudaica ...
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frondescent @ Worthless Word for the Day

potentate @ Merriam-Webster
From the Standard-Examiner:

Chariot racing has a long and glorious history, dating back to ancient Greece.

The Giles family, charioteers from Morgan with a long racing history, will rely on hard work and hope as they try to add a first division world championship to their laurels.

When the races begin at noon today at the Weber County Fairgrounds, 1000 N. 1200 West, the Giles family -- including aunts, uncles, cousins, wives, brothers, sisters and young'uns -- will be cheering on Zoo Zoo Zoom and Dashin' Straw when they jump from the gate in the toughest and highest division race in this first weekend of the 2008 World Cutter and Chariot Racing Championships.

The family's racing history may not go back to the days of Greek glory, when chariot racers competed in the first Olympics, but the family has a long association with the American version of this fast-paced sport.

Ray Giles grew up working and training horses and has had his own horse since he was 3. Forty years ago, when he was 19, he started going to the chariot races with his uncle, Homer Randall.

Ray Giles, who turns 60 next month, started bringing his brother, Bruce, and his nephews, Dave, Blake and Clay, with him. The fever and the fury of two horses attached to a 60-pound chariot pounding down a 400-meter track infected them all.

"David used to go with me all the time, from when he was about 10 or 12, and then he just really got into it," Ray said.

"He'd study the horses real close ever since he was a little kid. Blake went, on and off, with us. Blake started getting really involved when we started with our own team."

After his Uncle Homer died, Ray used his years of helping and watching to put together his own team: The Giles Family of Wasatch Slopes Racing Association.

"You kind of get the bug," said Dave Giles, team statistician and horse scout.

"You're watching your family do it, and you want to do it yourself, and you want to have your own team, so he (Ray) finally was able to do it 13 years ago. We've run every season since."

This is the third time the team has competed in the first division at the world championships.

"Everyone helps," Dave said. "My uncle (Ray), he feeds them in the morning, and my younger brother, Clay, he's there every night. He's the stall cleaner and gets 'em on and off the walker and spends a lot of time working with the horses.

"Blake is our driver. He's the gallop person, the driver of the team at the racetrack. I kind of pick horses out -- figure out which ones we're going to buy."

The combination of working with horses, friendly competition and even sheer luck draws the Giles family back year after year.

"I know there's not very much money involved in doing it," Dave said. "We probably lose money. It's the competitive spirit, something about the bond with the horses. You trust them, they trust you. You can tell. You know their personality, and they know yours, and it just gets in your blood."

Preparing for the races is a year-round commitment, and the Giles family spends up to three hours a day taking care of their horses.

In preparation for today's race, they've already put in weeks of work, running, training and prepping the horses, prepping the stalls for the horses and loading the trailer.

"You have to have more than one person," said Clay Giles. "I guess one person could do it, but we have, gosh, I'll betcha when we're at the track getting ready to run, we have eight or 10 people helping.

"Each has their duty. One pulls the chariot, and one holds the lines, a couple people are choking up, and a couple are riding ponies, leading the horses off, and a lot of people, almost everyone in there, is family."

Blake said chariot racing is expensive, but worth the price for the family togetherness.

"The biggest thing is, it keeps all our family involved. Not very many people can say they go out and spend four hours every Saturday with their family. We're pretty close as a family, and it just gives us an excuse to get together once a week."


The World Cutter and Chariot Racing Championships is co-sponsored by the Wasatch Slopes Racing Association and Weber County.

* When: Noon today and Sunday, and March 28-30

* Where: Golden Spike Arena at the Weber County Fairgrounds, 1000 N. 1200 West, Ogden

* Cost: $7 per day or $25 for all five days

There are websites here and there with more info on this (apparently growing) sport ... I wonder if they have four-horse races ...
CBC fills in some details:

About 1,000 ancient artifacts found in a wealthy Italian's country house outside Rome were stolen from one of Emperor Trajan's 1st-century villas, archaeologists have determined.

They say the artifacts, which were being used to decorate the man's weekend residence, were ripped off the walls of what is believed to be Trajan's hunting retreat in Arcinazzo Romano, a town in the countryside outside Rome.

Some were stolen from boxes of fragments that archaeologists had excavated from the villa but had left at the site of the ongoing dig, a news conference was told.

Suspect not identified

The man has not been identified because the theft is still being investigated but police said he is an affluent engineer. He is not in police custody.

Pieces of ancient mosaics were inserted into the home's basement floor, and the fireplace and bathroom were decorated with other pieces, authorities said.

Many were damaged by glue used to stick them to display supports, says Marina Sapelli Ragni, the superintendent of archaeology in Lazio, in the upper Aniene River valley. Restorers will try to repair the damage, she adds.

Police did not give the date of the raid, but indicated it happened more than a year ago. The artifacts were under study for a year before experts decided they came from Emperor Trajan's villa.

Among the loot are pieces of marble that once covered the sprawling villa, which has only been partially excavated.

The theft from the excavation site dates to 2002. Archaeologists say they realized the artifacts must have come from an Imperial villa because of the fine quality of the decoration.

Gilding was usually reserved for the most palatial of ancient Roman villas.

"The richness and beauty of this villa was no less than that of the villa of Hadrian, Trajan's successor," near Tivoli, says Sapelli Ragni.
8.00 p.m. |HINT| The Rise and Fall of the Spartans: Code of Honor
Revered and feared in their own time, the ancient warriors from the Greek city-state Sparta invented the boot camp, frontal assault, state-sponsored education, and a lifestyle and aesthetic that still bears their name. Who were these soldiers willing to fight a losing battle in defense of honor and country? How did they become the greatest fighting force the world has ever known? What kind of society produced such men? We explore the cornerstones of life and death in ancient Sparta.

9.00 p.m. |HISTC| ROME | the Spoils
While Pullo descends into Erastes’ netherworld, Vorenus negotiates a severance for veteran soldiers on behalf of Ceasar, who invites him and Niobe to one of Atia’s parties. Cassius attempts to convince Brutus that the life and death of the Republic is indeed “in your hands.”

10.00 p.m. |HINT|The Rise and Fall of the Spartans: Tides of War
In the 5th century BC, all of Greece united against Persia. But after the defeat of the invading Persian army, both Sparta and Athens became rivals, each expanding in strength and influence. While Athens ruled the sea, Sparta's celebrated army was unbeatable on land. When the two Greek giants met on a collision course, the resulting Peloponnesian War spanned 27 years, engulfed all of Greece, and changed the nature of democracy. We explore the devastating effects of the war and demise of Sparta.

HINT = History International
HISTC = History Television (Canada)
The passing of Ross Scaife last week took me completely by surprise and it's taken me a while to figure out how best to react to it, outside of expressing my deepest sympathies to his family and friends. Dr. Scaife was one of the many folks who I knew completely due to their online presence -- this is one of the possibly strange effects of the Classics 'subculture' that has grown on the Internet over the past decade and a half. At the same time, Dr. Scaife was one of the truly great presences in that subculture ... of the many, many, many Classicists in the world, he was one of the few who ventured onto the Internet and was one of the very few who very early on realized its potential for Classical Studies and scholarly communication. He didn't need my constant railing in various fora to 'get it'; he got it without any prodding from me. And more than just talking the talk, as might have been so easy for someone in a busy academic milieu, he walked the walk. Many of his (in collaboration with others) projects on the Internet have been around for so long that they seem to have always been there, for example:

Diotima: Materials for the Study of Women and Gender in the Ancient World ... a pioneering site, not just in Classics, but in Humanities in general ...

Anahita-l ... a discussion group set up to complement the above (now at Yahoo, but some of the most interesting discussions from its early days are still available in the UKy listserv archives)

Suda Online ... a model for scholarly collaboration

Neo-Latin Colloquia ... arguing against the 'dead language' claim

... eventually most of Dr. Scaife's Online projects became subsumed under the rubric of the Stoa Consortium, again, a model for online scholarly collaboration.

On his 'cv' page at UKy, there is an interesting excerpt from Tennyson's Ulysses:

Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Dr. Scaife will definitely be missed.

Further reading:

Dot Porter's obituary of Dr. Scaife at the Stoa (with an opportunity to comment)
Obituary in the Free-Lance Star
Obituary in the Kentucky Kernel
From the Jerusalem Post:

The remains of a building from the First Temple period have been uncovered in an archeological excavation just west of Jerusalem's Temple Mount, the Israel Antiquities Authority said on Sunday.

The discovery marks the first time in the history of Jerusalem archeological research that building remains from the First Temple period have been exposed so close to the Temple Mount, the state-run archeological body said.

No archeological excavations have ever been carried out on the Temple Mount itself due to religious sensitivities.

The "unprecedented" find was first discovered a couple of months ago during a two-year dig in the northwestern part of the Western Wall plaza, less than 100 meters west of the Temple Mount, said archeologist Alexander Onn, who is participating in the dig at the site.

The "salvage excavation" being carried out ahead of planned construction at the site first revealed the remains of a magnificent colonnaded street from the Late Roman period (second century CE) which is referred to as the Eastern Cardo, and which served as a main city thoroughfare.

Next, it emerged that the Roman road was paved with large heavy limestone that was set directly on top of the remains of a building that dates to the end of the First Temple period.

The walls of the buildings are preserved to a height of over two meters.

The Roman road effectively protected the finds from the First Temple from being plundered in later periods. The First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE.

Another artifact found in the excavations is a personal seal made of precious stone bearing a Hebrew inscription that was apparently inlaid in a ring.

The elliptical seal, which measures about 1.1 cm x 1.4 cm and is decorated with four pomegranates, includes the name of the seal's owner, "to Netanyahu ben Yaush," which appears engraved in ancient Hebrew script.

The two names are known to be biblical names: Netanyahu is mentioned a number of times in the Bible (in the Book of Jeremiah and in Chronicles), while the name Yaush appears in the Lachish letters.

The owners of personal seals were typically people who held senior government positions, although this combination of names was unknown until now.

In addition to the personal seal, a vast number of pottery vessels were discovered in the dig, including three jar handles that bear stamped impressions.

An inscription in ancient Hebrew script is preserved on one these impressions and it reads: "[belonging] to the king of Hebron."

The newly-found remnants of the city's past will be preserved next to a new Western Wall Heritage Center, slated to be built at the site, and whose planning prompted the salvage dig.

The construction of the building, which is expected to take several years and is being underwritten by the American media mogul Mort Zuckerman, will include an educational center, a video conference room, a VIP lounge and a police station.

A conference to be held in Exeter on May 9-10 2008, sponsored by the Centre for Mediterranean Studies and the Department of Classics & Ancient History in Exeter and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, and supported by the Wellcome Trust

Organisers: John Wilkins (Classics, Exeter), Grainne Grant (Classics, Exeter), Alain Touwaide (Smithsonian, Washington)

In Conference Room 1, Xfi Centre, Streatham Court

Programme and practical details are listed at the end of this document

The science of Botany has developed in astonishing ways in the West (through such pioneers as Theophrastus and Linnaeus) and in other

cultures; but the human understanding and use of plants has extended even more widely, in such areas as food, medicine and manufacturing, as well as

in art, literature and general interest. Physic or medicinal gardens for royalty have during the 19th and 20th centuries been extended to all, in

the form of parks and botanical gardens such as the Paris Jardin des Plantes or the Gardens at Kew. Amateur interest in plants as part of the

natural world or the garden is enormous, and is addressed by major projects such as the Eden Project in Cornwall. Book plates of plants identify the species for the specialist, but they are also a thing of information and beauty for the amateur, helping to disseminate botany more widely.

The aim of this conference is to explore the dissemination of knowledge about plants outside the strict academic boundaries of Botany. Botany has

benefited from the journeys of Alexander the Great to the East, of the Europeans to the Americas and the Far East; but so have many others.

Pepper, chocolate and coffee shape our daily lives, giving them meaning as well as nutrition. How is knowledge of the plants and their products

transferred? How, for example, have medical authors and illiterate healers transmitted their knowledge of plants? How have experts written about

other properties of plants, their scents and colours? How have plants been represented in art and literature?

The conference is confined to the plants of the Mediterranean, whether native or introduced species.

On Friday evening there will be a tour (45 mins long) of the plants on the Exeter campus, guided by Stephen Scarr who was Head Gardener for 27 years. Please bring coats and brollies just in case.

On Saturday evening there will be a visit to Knightshayes Gardens with John Lanyon and Lorraine Colebrook to see a fully working kitchen garden and the Natural Trust’s plant conservation programme. We plan to travel by private car (I hope those who have them will share). Drivers should park in the visitor car park at Knightshayes, from which the visit will start.

Proposed speakers

Suzanne Amigues (Montpellier): popular remedies in Theophrastus (not attending in person but will supply a paper for circulation)

Rosie Atkins (Chelsea Physic Garden): Chelsea Physic Garden: London’s oldest

outdoor classroom

Siam Bhayro (Exeter): Galen and the Syriac tradition

Barbara Boeck (Madrid): The plants of the Babylonian tablets

Lorraine Colebrook Knightshayes Garden in Devon

Andrew Dalby (independent scholar): food plants in antiquity: the Geoponica

A speaker from the Eden Project

Costanza Ferrini (Rome): olives

Grainne Grant (Exeter): Perfume Plants in Antiquity

Sandy Knapp (Natural History Museum): The solanum family online

John Lanyon Knightshayes Garden in Devon

Mary Orr (Southampton): The Jardin des Plantes and the Women of Paris

Anna Pavord: The Search for Order: pre-Linnaean pioneers

Caroline Petit (Manchester): Galen on Simples

Antoine Pietrobelli (Paris): Polemics on ptisane in Antiquity and beyond.

Dawn Sanders (freelance): Children and plants : Pokemon and Harry Potter

Francesca Stavrakopoulou (Exeter): The Tree of Knowledge

Alain Touwaide (Smithsonian): Dioscorides

John Wilkins (Exeter): an English version of Galen on Simples

All are welcome. If you would like to attend the conference, please email J.M.Wilkins AT as soon as possible.

If you plan to go on the trip to Knightshayes, please email John Wilkins

There is no conference fee. If you want lunch and are not a speaker or chair, then the cost is £8.50. If you would like to join the speakers for dinner on May 9th at St Olave’s in Mary Arches St, the cost is £19.75.

Please book lunches and dinner through John Wilkins no later than March 31st 2008.

I thought I had mentioned this one from ANSA (also mentioned on the Classics list) ... but I guess I didn't:

Fruit trees, vegetables, and medical and sacred plants that once grew in the gardens of Pompeii went on show to the public on Tuesday.

The plants have been grown in an 800-square-metre botanical garden at the archaeological site that has been painstakingly restored to its former glory and is opened to visitors each spring.

An interdisciplinary team, including archaeologists, biologists, botanists and historians, has spent years excavating the remains of the site, identifying exactly which plants were grown where.

The biologist leading the team, Anna Maria Ciarallo, said that they made use of a variety of sources to discover what green-fingered Pompeians planted before the town was destroyed by ash and cinder from the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. Extensive analysis of Roman texts showed that Pompeii was especially famous for its vines, onions and cabbages, while wall paintings on the houses also revealed details about favourite plants.

However, since the murals sometimes took their inspiration from far-off royal courts, Ciarallo said they could not always be trusted to give an accurate picture of the Pompeian garden.

''In the frescoes we can find species that could not have been part of the local flora, such as the orange tree, the mango, the annona or the thuja from Africa,'' Ciarallo explained.

''The determining factor in understanding the local plant life is therefore the analysis of plant remains that have survived to this day, like wood, pollen, seeds and fruits, from which we have been able to create a long list of species,'' she said.

Growing food that could be preserved was extremely important to the inhabitants of Pompeii, and hard-shelled nut trees such as walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts were common because of the long shelf-life of their fruit.

Fig and olive trees, whose fruits could be dried out and preserved, were also fundamental to the Pompeian kitchen and can be found in the garden alongside apple, quince and pear trees.

Among the vegetables are pulses and cereals such as chickpeas, lentils, peas and broad beans, which were cooked in soups.

Basil and marjoram are included in a range of herbs used both in food preparation and for medicinal purposes.

Also growing here are garlic, which can help lower high blood pressure, thyme, which has antiseptic properties, and rue, which can help induce abortion.

Pompeii's marshy soil made it particularly well-suited to riverside trees such as ash, whose flexible wood was used to make bed staves, willow, used for baskets, and poplar.

Different kinds of cane were also grown for a variety of purposes: to make wicker furniture, to strain ricotta, to act as frames for other plants, to make musical instruments and to make screens to divide rooms in houses, according to Ciarallo.

The garden, which is divided into different sections signposted in Italian and English, will be open to the general public until June 2.

Products and seeds from the garden will meanwhile be on sale at the renovated herbalist's store at the site.

This is the second garden developed by Ciarallo's team in the remains of Pompeii.

Five years ago the team recreated a 4,000 square-meter garden attached to the city's Casa del Profumiere (Perfumers' House).

This led to the sale of the balms, essences and cosmetics in the adjoining building.

Violet, rose, lily, basil, dill, rue, thyme, anise, oregano and lemon balm were just some of the plants cultivated in the garden, although the perfumer living there probably also made use of more exotic, imported ingredients.

Ciarallo's team also uncovered several olive trees in the garden, which were used to produce oil in which herbs, spices and flowers were left to steep.

The finished product was kept in containers made of non-absorbent materials such as bronze and glass to slow down the otherwise rapid deterioration process.

The interdisciplinary group has also been behind a highly successful attempt to produce the world's first recreation of ancient Roman wine.

The project, now in its eighth year, uses grapes from the restored vineyard at the House of the Fountain.

The ruby-red, full-bodied wine was named after one of the buried city's most famous attractions, Villa dei Misteri (Villa of Mysteries).
UGA Summer Classics Institute for Teachers, Undergraduate Majors, and Graduate StudentsEach year the Institute offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate Latin and Classics courses, including, in odd-numbered years, Intensive Beginning Greek and, in even-numbered years, Intensive Beginning Latin. The Institute curriculum is supplemented by workshops and guest lectures by visiting Master Teachers and other scholars. The program is designed especially for Latin teachers who wish to continue their education or earn a Master’s degree in Latin on a summers-only basis. The fifteen faculty members of the Department of Classics share in a tradition of cooperation with high school teachers and programs that culminates each summer in an exciting and challenging curriculum. Here are the offerings for the summer of 2008:Courses to be offered in 2008:

1st SHORT SESSION: 16 JUN - 7 JUL EXAM: 8 JULLATN 2050 Intensive Latin I (12:45-3:30pm) Mr. FieldsLATN 4/6020 Roman Epic Poetry: Vergil (8:30-11:15am) Dr. DixCLAS 8020 Archaeology of Roman Daily Life (12:45-3:30pm) Dr. Norman

2nd SHORT SESSION: 9 JUL - 29 JUL EXAM: 30 JULLATN 2060 Intensive Latin II (12:45-3:30pm) Dr. CorriganLATN 4/6010 The Catilinarian Conspiracy (8:30-11:15am) Dr. Nicholson

THROUGH SESSION: 16 JUN - 28 JUL EXAM: 29 JULCLAS 1020 Classical Mythology* (1:00-2:15pm) Dr. Nicholson* With special materials for teachers.LATN 4/6770 Methods and Materials for Teaching Latin* Mr. Fields* WEDNESDAYS ONLY - 3:45-5:50pmCLAS 8000 Proseminar* Staff* MONDAYS ONLY - 3:45-5:35pm

Housing: · On-campus housing rates are not available until March, but should be comparable to recent rates:Sample recent rates for dormitory rooms (for singles) are: $1,179 (Through Session) $638 (1st Session) $561 (2nd Session)Inexpensive off-campus housing is also typically available.UGA meal plans are offered at low student rates.Tuition: • Summer 2008 rates are:In-State: $211 per credit hr. + $340 in feesOut-of-State: $805 per credit hr. + $340 in fees

Latin teachers from outside of Georgia receive, upon application to the Department, a tuition waiver to reduce tuition to the in-state level.Admissions: All participants in the Institute must also be admitted to the University of Georgia, either as Degree or Non-Degree students.

To apply to the Graduate School, go to;for supporting materials required by the Classics Department, go to and supporting documents must be received no later than April 1 (March 1 for foreign students).Former Institute students who did not attend last year’s Institute will need to complete a brief re-application form for re-admission to the Graduate School at For Institute information, contact Sandra Phillips at gradinq AT or Professor Rick LaFleur, at rlafleur AT, or write to the Department of Classics, 224 Park Hall, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602-6203. Scholarship Assistance:Scholarships are available from the Department; teachers are also encouraged to apply for scholarships offered by organizations such as the American Classical League and the Classical Association of the Middle West and South.FacilitiesThe Department of Classics houses both the ALEXANDER ROOM, a quiet, comfortable reading room and reference library with approximately 3,200 volumes, and the TIMOTHY NOLAN GANTZ CLASSICS COMPUTING CENTER, a state-of-the-art facility for its students, and is adjacent to the three-million volume UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA MAIN LIBRARY.
From the Independent:

On the ancient Syrian island of Arwad, which was settled by the Phoenicians in about 2000BC, men are hard at work hammering wooden pegs into the hull of a ship.

But this vessel will not be taking fishermen on their daily trip up and down the coast. It is destined for a greater adventure – one that could solve a mystery which has baffled archaeologists for centuries.

The adventure begins not in Arwad but in Dorset, where an Englishman has taken it upon himself to try to prove that the Phoenicians circumnavigated Africa thousands of years before any Europeans did.

Philip Beale, 47, has commissioned the building of a replica Phoenician ship that he plans to sail around the continent with a crew of 20. Their 10-month expedition sets off in August and will follow the route that seafaring Phoenician merchants are said to have taken more than 2,500 years ago.

Apart from navigation and communications equipment, Mr Beale's crew will have none of the comforts of a 21st-century vessel – their ship has no toilet or running water, no spare sails and no emergency motor. If they run into difficulty, they will have to rely on old-fashioned brawn – and row.

"For me it is the challenge that is the attraction but I am a little wary," Mr Beale admitted yesterday. "I have been round the Cape of Good Hope before in a traditional vessel and I know there are risks. There is a 30 per cent chance that we won't be able to complete it at all."

Mr Beale had the idea for his unusual quest when he read the works of Herodotus, who wrote about the Phoenician voyage. According to the Greek historian, their journey began on the shores of the Red Sea, when the Egyptian King Necho asked a group of Phoenician seamen to attempt the first near-circumnavigation of the continent in 600BC. Mr Beale's crew will use the Suez Canal to reach the point of their predecessors' departure.

Two thousand years after the Phoenicians, the first European known to have rounded southern Africa was a Portuguese navigator, Bartolomeu Dias. He was blown off course in 1488 as he explored the coast in the hope of finding a trade route to Asia.

In pre-Christian times the Phoenicians – referred to in the Bible as "rulers of the sea" – were considered the only sailors capable of navigating their flimsy wooden vessels on such a treacherous voyage. So how will Mr Beale's crew fare in their flimsy replica ship?

"There are lots of dangers," he admitted. "In rough seas there is a risk that it could simply fall apart. And because we have got just one square sail, we cannot sail into the wind, so we might get blown on to rocks."

As if that did not sound frightening enough, the crew also face a considerable risk of running into modern-day pirates as they navigate the African coast.

This is not Mr Beale's first maritime adventure. In his early twenties, he was inspired to study old ships by a picture of an ancient Indonesian schooner that he saw in Java. In 2003, he gave up a career as a City fund manager to commission a replica of that 2,800-year-old boat and sail it to Africa. Since then, he hasn't looked back. "I don't think I could do a nine-to-five now," he said.
Nice item on crucifixion in today's Star:

The image of the crucifixion has come down through the centuries: Christ's arms outstretched as if beseeching, his legs straight, his hands and feet nailed to the cross.

But this weekend in Britain in the final part of a TV drama called The Passion, Jesus will be shown in a different position – his arms above his head, nails through his forearms, his knees bent in a fetal position. The cross is T-, not t-, shaped.

Even before it airs, it's being criticized. Several theologians say it's offensive to deliberately ignore the iconic depiction venerated by millions of Christians, Catholics in particular. Furthermore, to suggest Christ's nails went through his forearms, not his hands, contradicts the New Testament's Book of John, in which Jesus says to his disciple Thomas: "Put your finger here; see my hands."

Tampering with the sacrosanct image wasn't done gratuitously, counters the BBC. The position was partly based on a crucified skeleton of a man in his 20s found near Jerusalem in 1968, dating from the time of Christ. It's the only archeological find of its kind because victims were usually left to decay on the cross.

"There were a variety of positions," says John Marshall, a University of Toronto religion professor. "Experiments with dead bodies have found that the hands are not strong enough to take the nails, the forearms are."

The ancient Romans were without doubt the world's leading practitioners of this excruciating brand of execution.

But they didn't invent it. And they haven't been the last to use it. Crucifixion exists even today.

But it began in antiquity. The Islamic Qur'an mentions the practice being used in Egypt in the time of Moses and some archeologists say it, or a similar form of impalement, was used by the ancient pharoahs.

It first appears in the historical record in 519 BC, with "Darius I, king of Persia, crucified 3,000 political opponents in Babylon." In the fourth century BC, during Alexander the Great's occupation of what is now Afghanistan, rebels were rounded up and crucified.

Rome used it at home both as punishment and deterrent for slaves and low-born non-citizens deemed guilty of everything from highway robbery and false testimony to grave-robbing and rebellion. Considered a shameful way to die, Roman citizens could be sentenced to nailing only for high treason.

In 71 BC, a slave rebellion led by the gladiator Spartacus was finally ended when 6,000 prisoners were crucified on a single day along a 27-kilometre stretch of road into Rome. The screams of the victims were said to have haunted the Appian Way for a century.

It was a favoured method of dispatching the earliest followers of Christ. Mocking graffiti dating to about 200 AD found on a wall on Rome's Palatine hill show a man worshipping a crucified ass, clearly meant to represent Jesus. Roman historians recorded that the emperor Nero ordered that Christians be crucified, and at night their bodies set on fire to provide illumination – human torches for the dark Roman night.

When the Romans besieged Jerusalem in 70 AD, 500 people a day were crucified, according to the Jewish historian Josephus: "There was not enough room for the crosses and not enough crosses for the bodies."

The victims were left to decay on the cross, the remains of their bodies tossed into garbage pits.

The Romans employed several forms, depending on the sadistic ingenuity of those carrying out the execution and the time needed for the spectacle to have maximum effect on passers-by.

Sometimes, victims were attached to a cross only with ropes. A crossbeam, to which the victim's arms were already bound, was simply fastened to the vertical beam, the feet then bound to the stake with knotted rope.

If the person was to be nailed, he was laid on the ground with his shoulders on the crossbeam, his arms or hands held out and nailed to the two ends. It was then raised and fixed on top of the vertical beam. The victim's feet were nailed down either one on top of the other, or on either side of the plank.

Sometimes the cross had a small seat attached half-way down the vertical beam or a foot-rest at the bottom – not to ease the process, but to prolong it. Taking weight off in this manner meant the anguish of dying lasted two to three days.

The quickest, most efficient form was to suspend the person's arms directly over his head. If the feet were nailed or tied down, suffocation would occur in less than an hour because he couldn't raise himself up to breathe.

Only after emperor Constantine, a Christian convert, prohibited crucifixion in 337 AD did the practice end, at least in the Roman empire. But it would resurface in other times, other places.

In 1066, in Grenada, Spain, a Muslim mob crucified a Jewish official and killed most of the Jewish population. In 1597, 26 Christians were nailed to crosses at Nagasaki, Japan. But crucifixion isn't just the preserve of history: After World War II, eyewitness accounts by prisoners-of-war in Dachau reported inmates were crucified there.

Torture was prohibited under international law in 1948. But neither torture in general, nor unbelievably, crucifixion in particular, has been eradicated.

In the 1970s, it was used in Cambodia by Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge. Since 2000, Yemen practices the "non-lethal" crucifixion of criminals, though it's believed to be reserved for those condemned to death.

In 2001, Hafiz Sadiqulla Hassani, a former Afghan policeman during the repressive rule of the Taliban, told British reporter Christina Lamb his unit was ordered to torture and crucify those unwilling to submit to the Taliban's ways.

"We always tried to do different things. We would put some of them standing on their heads to sleep, hang others upside down with their legs tied together. We would stretch the arms out of others and nail them to posts like crucifixions."

On and on it goes: In 2002, Al Jazeera reported the crucifixion in Sudan of 32 Christian priests and other males, some in their teens. In 2003, Iran adopted a law entitled, "Implementation regulations for sentences of retribution, stoning, killings, crucifixion, execution and lashing."

That same year, an Iraqi named Manadel al-Jamadi was tortured to death in Baghdad's notorious Abu Ghraib prison. A CIA interrogator ordered that he be stripped, hooded and hung from bars above his shoulders in a manner known as "Palestinian hanging," a form of crucifixion allegedly used by the Israelis.

In this case, it was apparently intended as a torture technique rather than a deliberate execution. A distinction without a difference. Over 45 agonizing minutes, Al-Jamadi suffocated to death.

"It may be hard for people to believe," says Aubrey Harris of Amnesty International Canada, "but yes, crucifixion still exists in several parts of the world."
From ANSA:

Roman history fans may get a chance to admire the marble of Trajan's Column in its original colour version, the city's archaeology department has said.

The department is in talks with electricity company Acea and researchers from Rome university to create a beam of light that will shine up the column and superimpose long-lost colours that originally enlivened the battle scenes carved on the monument.

Most scholars agree that Roman statues and triumphal arches that survive today in white marble were once brightly coloured (like the frescoes decorating the walls of Roman houses), but the pigment has worn off over the centuries.

The illumination of the column, built in 113 AD to celebrate the Emperor Trajan's successful military campaigns, would be a way of restoring the colours in a non-intrusive and reversible way, the archaeological department said.

It added that the plan is to beam the light up the column for a few minutes every hour, but only at weekends.

''Nothing acts like light to deepen our understanding, activating our emotional brain,'' said Maurizio Anastasi, head of the archaeology department's technical office.

The illumination of Trajan's Column is planned for 2009 as part of a larger project to light up the entire Roman Forum. By illuminating sections of the sprawling ruins, visitors will be able to get a better idea of what was built when, the department said.

... I'm still wondering about the "brightly coloured" claims (as opposed to "coloured" or "weathered/muted colours") ... I don't think the proponents of the 'brightly coloured' claim have thought through the maintenance implications ...
From the Jerusalem Post:

First the archeologists hit bronze, then they found silver.

Israeli archeologists have unearthed a coin in Jerusalem's City of David that, they now believe, was used to pay the head-tax in the Second Temple period, the Antiquities Authority announced.

The rare silver coin was discovered in an archeological excavation outside the walls of the Old City in what was Jerusalem's main drainage channel 2,000 years ago.

Archeologists earlier uncovered thousands of nondescript small bronze coins that were used in every day life, said Prof. Ronny Reich of the University of Haifa.

"A drainage pipe is, not surprisingly, a place where you find lots of history," he said.

In the book of Exodus, Jews over age 20 are commanded to contribute half a shekel each year to pay for public sacrifices and the furnishings of the Temple.

Israeli archeologist Eli Shukron said the coin found at the dig was probably dropped in the drainage ditch by accident.

"Just like today when coins sometimes fall from our pockets and roll into drainage openings at the side of the street, that's how it was some two thousand years ago - a man was on his way to the Temple and the shekel that he intended to use for paying the half shekel head-tax found its way into the drainage channel," Shukron said.

The shekel weighs 13 grams, and shows the head of the chief deity of the city of Tyre on one side, and an eagle upon a ship's prow on the reverse.

Despite the importance of the half-shekel head-tax to the economy of Jerusalem in the Second Temple period, only seven other shekel and half shekel coins have been found in archeological excavations in Jerusalem.

Interesting item from Jewish Journal:

Imagine a rabbi encountering a statue of Zeus in Roman Palestine, circa 70 to 300 C.E. -- a monotheist's nightmare.

"The myth is that he would have uttered something like the Yiddish 'gevalt,'" said professor Yaron Z. Eliav of the University of Michigan, who recently spoke about Jews and statues at the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades. "We imagine he would have put his hand over his face, the way an ultra-Orthodox Jew might shield his eyes from a poster of a woman in a bikini."

But the sages who wrote classical texts, such as the Talmud, could not afford to ignore such statues, which were like the mass media of the ancient world.

Images of gods, mythological monsters, sports heroes and emperors were everywhere: atop pedestals and in niches, adorning public buildings, temples, fountains and tetrapyla, the colonnaded structures marking street intersections. They were intended to be lifelike and often heavily painted, as revealed in the Getty's new exhibition, "The Color of Life: Polychromy in Sculpture From Antiquity to the Present."

"One could not have strolled heavily Jewish cities such as Tiberias or Caesarea without encountering Roman sculpture every step of the way," said Eliav, as he strolled amid ancient statues at the museum. "While the assumption has been that the sages opposed everything Graeco-Roman, they were in fact far more sophisticated and varied in their response."

Eliav co-directs the multidisciplinary Statuary Project at the University of Michigan, which, among other endeavors, peruses classical Jewish texts for references to statues (there are at least 6,000 of them -- many appreciative of the figures' beauty and tolerant of female nudes).

The texts reveal that the rabbis were fluent in Greek and in the customs of the ancient world. "Not only did [they] repeatedly mention statues by name, such as Aphrodite, Mercury ... emperors, or even the 'faces which spout out water in the towns' (t. Avod. Zar. 6:6), they were also conscious of the social and political dynamics associated with the positioning of statues," Eliav wrote in an essay.

Thus they were able to work out pragmatic rulings on how Jews should interact with the ubiquitous sculpture. In a Mishnah debate on idolatry, just one scholar, Rabbi Meir, insisted that "all statues are forbidden"; most of the others argued that only statues meant to be worshipped were off limits. A passage in the Yerushalmi, the Palestinian Talmud, suggests that informal rituals conducted in front of public sculptures did not necessarily turn them into idols -- a practical viewpoint in a society where the informal veneration of statues, including processions and the sprinkling of libations, were common.

As Eliav traversed a room filled with statues of Aphrodite (also known as Venus), the goddess of love, he recounted the Mishnah anecdote about Rabban Gamaliel in the "Aphrodite bathhouse." When a pagan asked how Gamaliel could tolerate the bathhouse's statue of the goddess, the rabbi said the sculpture didn't function as a deity, but rather was "an ornament for the bath." Gamaliel reasoned that Romans would not walk around naked in front of a statue they intended to worship; he added that: "She [Aphrodite] is standing by the drainage, and all the people are urinating in front of her."

Eliav paused by a statue that could have decorated such a bathhouse -- a small, second century marble Venus, missing her head and arms, but still sensual with wet-looking drapery clinging to her curvaceous body.

"Many bathhouses had statues like this Venus, which would have been appropriate, because Venus was born of the sea," Eliav said. "The rabbis would have engaged this kind of statue on a daily basis, because everyone in the Roman world loved bathhouses -- they offered warm, clean water, which people didn't have in their homes."

Next, Eliav pointed out a very different image of Venus: A massive, clothed statue that may well have been worshipped (one possible giveaway was her size.) The rabbis noted other ways to discern statues that were worshipped -- such as those wielding "a stick or a bird or a ball" (the eagle was associated with Zeus, for example).

"What fascinates me is that the rabbis knew the attributes the Romans used to identify their own deities," Eliav said.

Kenneth Lapatin, associate curator of antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum, joined Eliav in the gallery.

"The rabbis re-contextualized the statues and found ways to 'read' them that made them acceptable on a day-to-day basis," he said. "And their world view often allowed them a great deal of variability, because they, like us, lived in a complex society, where on the Sabbath they were [strictly] Jewish and on Tuesday they might serve on the city council and on Wednesday they were perhaps working in their blacksmith shop, making armor for the centurions."

Eliav, 43, spent much of his childhood in the ultra-Orthodox community of B'nai B'rak in Israel. His father, an ardent Zionist, separated from the more observant branch of the family in order to join the army, to attend a secular university and New York University law school.

Eliav attended yeshiva in New York for five years before moving back to Israel, where he enrolled at Hebrew University. "My religious identity was always shaky, but I always had a lot of passion for Jewish texts," he said. "I decided to study the Talmud, but with the help of my professors, I realized I didn't want to study it out of context. That is when I began studying classics and archeology in order to understand the environment in which the texts were created."

Today, Eliav's specialty is the encounter between Jews and Graeco-Roman culture. His book, "God's Mountain: The Temple Mount in Time, Space and Memory," won the 2006 prize for best first book from the American Academy for Jewish studies.

He believes that the findings of the Statuary Project will have relevance for Jews today.

"It shows that the rabbis worked to pave a path that would allow people to embrace their Jewish identity within a multicultural environment," he said.

9.00 p.m. |NG|The Real Mary Magdalene

10.00 p.m. |NG|Jesus: The Man

NG = National Geographic
ante diem xiii kalendas apriles

Festival of Mars (day 20)

Quinquatrus (day 2) -- second day of a five-day festival (although the name originally came from the fact that it came five days after the Ides, apparently) sacred to Mars but also somehow connected to Minerva; it was also apparently a 'school holiday', so no doubt we'll soon be reading about how the Romans invented Spring Break

43 B.C. -- Birth of Ovid (by one reckoning)

268 A.D. -- assassination of Gallienus
acerbic @

frondescent @ Worthless Word for the Day

compunctious @ Merriam-Webster
From the Star (I don't think we've mentioned this one yet):

Police seized some 1,000 ancient artifacts from a wealthy Italian man's country house outside Rome that were stolen from one of Emperor Trajan's villas, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Authorities contend the artifacts, which were being used to decorate the man's weekend residence, were ripped off the walls of what is believed to be Trajan's hunting retreat in Arcinazzo Romano, a town in the countryside outside Rome.
Some were stolen from boxes of fragments that archaeologists had excavated from the villa but had left at the site of the ongoing dig, prosecutors told a news conference.
The prosecutors declined to identify the man since they were still probing the theft, but said he was an affluent engineer who used the stolen artifacts to adorn his country home. The suspect was not in police custody as the probe continues.
Pieces of ancient Roman mosaics were inserted into the man's basement floor and his fireplace and bathroom were decorated with other pieces, authorities said.
Many of the artifacts were damaged by glue that he apparently used to stick them to transparent display supports, said Marina Sapelli Ragni, Lazio's superintendent for archaeology. Restorers would try to repair the damage, she said.
Authorities did not give an exact date for the raid, but indicated it happened more than a year ago. The artifacts had been under study for about a year before experts decided they came from Trajan's 1st century villa.
Among the loot are pieces of marble that once covered the sprawling villa in the upper Aniene River valley in Lazio. The villa has only been partially excavated.
The theft from the excavation site dates to 2002. Archaeologists said they realized the artifacts must have come from an Imperial villa because of the exceptionally fine quality of the decoration. Gilding was usually reserved for the most palatial villas of the ancient Romans.
"The richness and beauty of this villa was no less than that of the villa of Hadrian, his successor," near Tivoli, Sapelli Ragni said.

We mentioned looting at Piazza Armerina a couple of days ago ... kind of strange that major sites seem to be plundered so easily ...
From the News-Herald:

Longtime West Geauga High School Latin teacher Bill Prueter still considers himself a student.
He reads extensively, he says, to stay humble - because that makes him study new material like his students do - and to stay at least a few steps ahead of his class.
"I heavily encourage my students to ask questions and stump me," Prueter said. "This gives them a feeling of empowerment that they have a part in the direction of the class, and their questions often point out what I do not know, and this spurs more reading on my part."
He has much to show for his efforts in the classroom.
His students trounce competition at annual statewide contests, and he recently won the American Classical League's Dr. Elizabeth Watkins Latin Teacher of the Year Award for 2008. The award, which is offered nationally, was established by Dr. Dwight G. Watkins in memory of his wife, who taught Latin at Oak Hills High School in Cincinnati.
Prueter received $500, which he used to purchase a "very expensive set of books" of commentaries on the letters of Cicero. He said his wife, Sarah, encouraged him to apply for the award.
"As I told the election committee in my letter, I pray that I somehow approach the expectations they have for the quality of teaching the award symbolizes," he said.
The American Classical League was founded in 1919 for the purpose of fostering the study of classical languages in the United States and Canada.
The 58-year-old Chester Township resident has taught the ancient language for 32 years - 26 at West Geauga.
Most people know that Latin roots make up many words in the English language - an English word with three or more syllables has a 90 percent chance of coming from the Latin and/or Greek language, Prueter says.
But he says there are other reasons it remains relevant - for one, the academic discipline it takes to learn Latin.
"My students learn mental agility and the courage to attack the difficult," he said.
Prueter's enthusiasm for the subject continues to spur students' interest in West Geauga's Latin Club, which has nearly 40 members now.
"He's probably one of the most passionate people I've witnessed about the subject area he teaches," high school Principal Dave Toth said.
Prueter also is working on his certification to draw objects in the solar system. Once he attains proficiency, astronomers will use his drawings to document change and surface movement of the major planets.
"I enjoy very much sitting at my telescope observing, and then drawing what I see," he said.

6.00 p.m. |HINT| History's Mysteries: The Roman Emperors
When the power of Rome was concentrated into the hands of supreme rulers, the empire began to corrode as the emperors led lives of increasing depravity. We'll visit their mansions to get an inside look at the splendor--and squalor--in which they lived, and insight into their sometimes inexplicable acts.

HINT = History International
ante diem xv kalendas apriles

Festival of Mars (Day 19)

Quinquatrus (Day 1) -- a festival celebrating Minerva's birthday (maybe)

rites in honour of Minerva (obviously connected to the above)

11 B.C.E. -- Herod dedicates his renovated Temple in Jerusalem

303 A.D. -- Martyrdom of Pancharius of Nicomedia

363 A.D. -- fire destroys the Temple of Apollo on the Palatine
transmute @
From the Evening News:

A SET of Roman coins, buried in a field near Whitby, have been declared treasure trove.
Two men discovered the 49 coins, dating from AD64 to AD68, and part of a brooch after metal detecting in the field near Ugthorpe.

Russell Willis, from Cleve- land, and Trevor Pye, from Sheffield, found the coins which were declared treasure by coroner Richard Watson.

The friends were staying at a nearby caravan park in July last year and decided to metal detect in the field, owned by Ian Webster.

Mr Willis said: "The owner gave us permission to detect on his land and within
minutes we found a coin. After that we found quite a few more. We them came across the segment of the brooch."

An inquest was held at Norton Court where Mr Watson said the coins belonged to the Crown. It was not revealed how much they were worth.

In 1998 Mr Willis and his brother Jason found 21 coins in the same field, which was once the site of a Roman encampment. They were also declared treasure. Coins were also discovered there more than a century ago.

Mr Watson said: "All of the coins found are part of the same find. They are all treasure and I am also declaring the fragment of the brooch as treasure."

The first set of coins are now kept at the Whitby Museum in Pannet Park.

Honorary keeper Mark Edwards said: The British Museum in London looked at the coins first and we now look after them at the museum.

"We are interested in getting the second set of coins as well."
If you would like to attend this conference (details below), please contact
Bill Allan (william.allan AT by Thursday 27th March.

Please also state whether you would like to attend the dinner (c. £20 plus

There is no conference fee. We gratefully acknowledge the support of The
British Academy, The Classics Faculty Board, and the OUP's John Fell Fund.

Bill Allan & Adrian Kelly (conference organizers)

Poetry and Performance: A Conference in honour of Oliver Taplin
Ioannou Centre for Classical
and Byzantine Studies
Friday 26th – Saturday 27th September, 2008

Friday 26th September

8.30-9.00: Arrival and registration

TRAGEDY I – Chair: Bill Allan
9.00 Pat Easterling (Cambridge) 'Naming and not naming in Sophocles'
9.30 Adrian Kelly (Oxford) 'Aias in Athens'
10.00 Laura Swift (Oxford) 'Epinician and tragic worlds in Sophocles'
10.30-11.00 Questions and discussion

11.00-11.30 Coffee

TRAGEDY II – Chair: Adrian Kelly
11.30 Scott Scullion (Oxford) 'The Archaeology of the Fifth-Century Theatre
in Athens Revisited'
12.00 Ian Ruffell (Glasgow) 'Imperialism, Hegemony and "Universals": the
Ideology of Form in Athenian Tragedy'
12.30 Edith Hall (RHUL) 'Jocasta's Body and the Body Politic in Euripides'
1-1.30 Questions and discussion

1.30-2.30 Lunch

COMEDY I – Chair: Al Moreno
2.30 Athena Kavoulaki (Crete) 'Dionysiac festival and comic charis'
3.00 Martin Revermann (Toronto) 'Comic chorality'
3.30 Robin Osborne (Cambridge) 'The Comic Body'
4.00 Eric Csapo (Sydney) 'Iconographic Evidence for Phallic Performers at
the Athenian Dionysia in the time of the Introduction of Comedy to the
Festival Program'
4.30-5.00 Questions and discussion

7.30pm CONFERENCE DINNER [at a local restaurant]

Saturday 27th September

COMEDY II – Chair: Pat Easterling
9.00 Michael Anderson (Trinity College, Connecticut) 'Women at the Gates:
Staging Gender Inversion in Aristophanes' Lysistrata'
9.30 Gregory Hutchinson (Oxford) 'House politics and city politics in
10.00 Peter Brown (Oxford) 'Slaves, ex-slaves and Aristophanes' Frogs'
10.30-11 Questions and discussion

11-11.30 Coffee

RECEPTION: HOMER – Chair: Chris Carey
11.30 Richard Rutherford (Oxford) 'A Homerist reads the Ilias Latina'
12.00 Katherine Harloe (Reading) 'Homeric soundings in the eighteenth century'
12.30 Amanda Wrigley (Oxford) 'Homer on the Radio'
1-1.30 Questions and discussion

1.30-2.30 Lunch

RECEPTION: DRAMA – Chair: Lydia Prior
2.30 David Wiles (RHUL) 'Theatre and citizenship: the reception of classical
thinking in the French Enlightenment'
3.00 Fiona Macintosh (Oxford) 'Aeschylus and Modernism'
3.30 Pantelis Michelakis (Bristol) 'Tragedy from the machine: technology,
media, performance'
4.00-4.30 Questions and discussion

4.30 Tea and departure
The School of Classics at St. Andrews University and the School of
Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology at Liverpool University are pleased
to announce a one-day conference on ‘Pliny the Younger in Late Antiquity’
to be held at St Andrews on Saturday 16th May 2009. The conference will
explore various aspects of Pliny’s reception, reputation and influence in
the third, fourth and fifth centuries, particularly although not
exclusively, in oratory and letter-writing. Confirmed speakers are
Professor Bruce Gibson (Liverpool), Professor Roy Gibson (Manchester),
Professor John Henderson (Cambridge), Dr Gavin Kelly (Edinburgh) and Dr
Roger Rees (St Andrews). Proposals for further 30 minute papers are
invited in the form of abstracts of c.300 words, to Bruce Gibson
(bjgibson AT or Roger Rees (rdr1 AT by 31st
May 2008.
Wales Classical Conference
Gregynog (near Newtown, Powys)
15th/16th May 2008

Journeys and Discoveries

Thursday 15th May

2.00 pm onwards: Registration
3.30 - 4.15 pm: TEA

4.15-4.20 pm: Maria Pretzler (Swansea): Welcome

4:20-5:10 pm: Richard Evans (Cardiff): Discovering the Landscape: the Case of Syracuse.
5.10-5.50 pm: Hannah Lawson (Swansea): Linen: the shipwright’s fabric of choice
5:50-6.50 pm: Susan Sorek (Lampeter): The Emperor’s Needles: Egyptian Obelisks in Rome.
7.00 pm - 8.30 pm: DINNER

Friday 16th May

8.00 am - 9.00 am: BREAKFAST
9.00-9.45 am: Kai Brodersen (Mannheim): Imaginary Journeys to the Seven Wonders.
9:45-10.10 am: Hannah Mossmann (Exeter): ‘What goes up…’ Aerial Journeying in Lucian.
10:10-10.30 am: Anton Powell (Swansea): Aeneas discovers the Sicily-s
10.30-11.00 am: COFFEE
11:00-11:45 am Maria Pretzler (Swansea): Discovering Greece with Pausanias
11:45 am-12:40 pm Geoffrey Eatough (Lampeter): Journeys into the Future: William Camden’s Britannia
12.40 pm - 1.00 pm: Discussion and Closing Remarks
1.00 pm- 2.00 pm: LUNCH
From 2.00 pm: Free to walk in grounds/depart.

This is an annual event which is intended to bring together a wide range of perspectives on a particular (loose) topic. As every year, we aim to make this a good occasion for informal discussion and conversation, and all are welcome.
The cost for this event is £63.50 for the whole conference (all included: accommodation, three meals, tea coffee, conference costs).

More information about Gregynog can be found here: .

If you would like to attend please write to me ( m.pretzler AT ) by Friday 4th April.

Maria Pretzler
The Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology at the University of Reading is hosting an interdisciplinary conference, 'APHRODITE REVEALED: a goddess disclosed', 8-10th May 2008.

It will include a public lecture by Vinciane Pirenne-Delforge (Liège), "Flourishing Aphrodite", at 5:30 pm on 8 May 2008.

Full details of the conference, including schedules, abstracts, and booking forms, as well as our poster, may be obtained from the conference website, We would appreciate it if potential participants could send booking forms and payment by 3 April 2008 to n.l.aitken AT

We particularly bring your attention to the fact that--thanks to generous funding from the Classical Association, the SPHS and the SPRS--we are able to offer a few bursaries (covering conference attendance and up to 2 nights accommodation) to eligible postgraduate students. Please encourage them to contact me directly and as soon as possible.

We would be grateful if you could print out and post the conference poster,

Any further queries may be addressed to either of the organisers:

Miss Sadie Pickup
Wolfson College
Oxford University
Oxford OX2 6UD
sadie.pickup AT

Dr. Amy C. Smith
Curator, Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology
Senior Lecturer, Department of Classics
School of Humanities, HumSS
University of Reading, Whiteknights
Reading RG6 6AA
a.c.smith AT

tel. +44 (0)118 378 8420
fax +44 (0)118 378 8919
10.00 p.m. |HINT|Lost Worlds: The Seven Wonders
The Seven Wonders of the World were a celebration of religion, mythology, art, power, and science. They were built by the ancients in a time before Christ and their scale and majesty continues to mesmerize us today. The structures were created on a scale that's hard to imagine, and their architects pushed engineering to a new height which still astounds us today.

HINT = History International
ante diem xvi kalendas apriles

Festival of Mars continues (day 18)

37 A.D. -- The dead emperor Tiberius' will is annulled and Gaius (Caligula) is given the title "Augustus" by the senate

235 A.D. (?) -- murder of Alexander Severus at Moguntiacum (Mainz)
nefarious @

titanic @ Merriam-Webster
From LiveScience:

It was the heart of the city – where ordinary citizens bought and sold goods, politics were discussed and ideas were passed among great minds like Aristotle and Plato.

Who knows where we'd be without the "agoras" of ancient Greece. Lacking the concept of democracy, perhaps, or the formula for the length of the sides of a triangle (young math students, rejoice!). Modern doctors might not have anything to mutter as an oath.

What went on at the agora went beyond the simple daily transactions of the market. The conversations that happened there and the ideas that they bore continue to affect us to this day, from the way scientists carry out their work to how we pass our laws.

The heart of public life

Nearly every city of ancient Greece had an agora – meaning meeting place – by about 600 B.C., when the classical period of Greek civilization began to flourish. Usually located near the center of town, the agora was easily accessible to every citizen, with a large central square for market stalls bound by public buildings.

The agora of Athens – the hub of ancient Greek civilization – was the size of several football fields and saw heavy traffic every single day of the week. Women didn't often frequent the agora, but every other character in ancient Greece passed through its columns: politicians, criminals, philosophers and traders, aristocrats, scientists, officials and slaves.

Not only did the ancient Greeks go to the agora to pick up fresh meat and some wool for a new robe, but also to meet and greet with friends and colleagues. Akin to the modern high-powered lunch, much business got done in the casual setting.

High voter turnouts

Some of the world's most important ideas were born and perfected within the confines of the Athenian agora including, famously, the concept of democracy.

Regular Athenian citizens had the power to vote for anything and everything, and were fiercely proud of their democratic ways. No citizen was above the law – laws were posted in the agora for all to see – or was exempt from being a part of the legal process. In fact, Athenians considered it a duty and a privilege to serve on juries. Both the city law courts and senate were located in the agora to demonstrate the open, egalitarian nature of Athenian life.

The Athenian democratic process, whereby issues were discussed in a forum and then voted on, is the basis for most modern systems of governance.

Ultimate brainstorm session

Scientific theory also got its start in the agora, where the city's greatest minds regularly met informally to socialize. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle all frequented the Athenian agora, discussed philosophy and instructed pupils there.

Aristotle, in particular, is known for his contributions to science, and may have developed his important theories on the empirical method, zoology and physics, among others, while chatting in the agora's food stalls or sitting by its fountains.

Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine and its Hippocratic Oath, and Pythagoras, a mathematician who developed the geometric theory of a triangle's sides, were both highly public figures who taught and shared ideas in their own hometown agoras.
From ANSA:

Pompeii tourist operators were hot under the collar on Monday after the regional government let slip plans to cap the number of tourists allowed to visit the archaeological site and open it to private business initiatives.

Campania tourist chief Claudio Velardi told local newspaper Corriere del Mezzogiorno that limiting the number of visitors to the ancient ruins was the only way to offer adequate services at the site, while he also wants to boost revenue by allowing entrepreneurs to make use of the Roman city.

''If we cap the number of visitors it will be easier to allow businessmen within the ruins to make money and hold events without being hampered by cultural fuddy-duddies,'' he said.

''There's nothing scandalous about that - they do it at MoMa, at the Prado and at the Louvre, and Fendi even rented the Great Wall of China to organise a fashion show, paying an outrageous sum to the government in Beijing.

''Here they ostracise you even for thinking such a thing, to the absurd extent that Roman Polanski has to make his film about Pompei in Spain''.

But Velardi's comments have outraged the head of Pompei's tourism department, Vincenzo Piscopo, who says that capping tourist numbers will destroy a local tourism industry already crippled by the recent rubbish emergency in Campania.

''We do need to plan greater protection for the ruins, but we can't limit the enjoyment of one of the most beautiful and special sites in the world, nor can we aggravate a crisis that is already suffocating us,'' Piscopo said.

''Local tourism barely manages to survive on three million tourists a year, and with the trash emergency on top of that operators are in full-blown crisis,'' he added.

Pompeii has registered a steady increase in profits over the last few years, cashing in 20.8 million euros in 2007. However, hoteliers in nearby Naples have expressed concern over a dramatic drop in tourist bookings as a result of the widely publicised rubbish emergency, which saw mountains of trash pile up on the region's streets in January.

Earlier this month the city introduced a special discount package for all tourists who stay for at least two nights in a bid to woo visitors to the area between Easter and July, with reduced entry to museums, bus tours and public transport.

Pompeii, which was smothered in ash and cinder by the 79 AD eruption of Mount Vesuvius, is one of the main tourist draws for visitors to the region.

... is Polanski back on board with his Pompeii flick?
From Reuters:

Greece said on Monday momentum was growing for the return of the prized Parthenon marbles, taken from the Athens Acropolis some 200 years ago by Britain's Lord Elgin, as major museums handed back more ancient objects.

Museums around the world have in recent years started returning ancient artifacts to their countries of origin and have tightened checks on acquisitions to avoid buying objects that were illegally excavated or smuggled abroad.

"More and more museums are adopting tighter ethics codes and governments promote bilateral and international cooperation (for the return of ancient objects)," Greek Culture Minister Michalis Liapis told an international conference at the new Acropolis Museum.

"So an ideal momentum is being created ... for clear solutions on this issue," he said.

The trend towards returning artifacts was strengthened by the high-profile affair involving former J. Paul Getty Museum curator Marion True and smuggled artifacts that were acquired by the museum.

Italy dropped a legal case against the Getty Museum last year after the institution agreed to return 40 items Rome believed had been stolen and smuggled out of the country, and the Getty has returned several such items to Greece.

Both Italy and Greece have charged True with offences linked to trafficking in antiquities. She denies any wrongdoing.

New York's Metropolitan Museum has returned a prized 2,500-year-old vase to Italy, which recently displayed nearly 400 looted ancient objects that have been recovered in the past three years.

The Parthenon marble friezes and sculptures were removed from the Acropolis above Athens by British diplomat Lord Elgin in the early 19th century, with permission from the Ottoman Empire officials then in power.

Lord Elgin acquired his collection between 1801 and 1810. It was bought by the British Museum in 1816 and has been a major attraction there since. The museum refuses to return them to Greece on the ground that its statutes do not allow it to do so.

Liapis told the conference "This museum is ready to embrace all important artifacts taken from the holy rock (the Acropolis) and I hope the same goes for the foreign-based Parthenon marbles... so the unity of the sculptures can be restored."

Britain said for many years that the marbles were better preserved in London than in Athens' polluted air. Greece has said this argument is now obsolete given the completion of the new museum, where an empty gallery awaits the Parthenon marbles.

If Greece really thinks the Getty case and the Marbles are analogous, why don't they take the British Museum to court?
Interesting idea from a letter to the Times:

Sir, It seems that any archaeological claim can make headlines these days, no matter how implausible.

I refer, of course, to last year’s published discovery of the Lupercal on the Palatine in Rome. My incredulity came not at the existence of such a place — the fabled nursery of Romulus and Remus, suckled by a wolf — but at the evidence presented by Carandini’s team in support of the publication. I was not the only one to doubt.

Last month a topography expert, Professor Coarelli, dismissed the archaeologists’ findings in an article printed in La Repubblica, offering instead the mundane opinion that the cave is a fountain or nymphaeum. While this satisfied my frustration at Carandini’s loopy call, it did not, to my mind, provide an adequate enough alternative.

In order to settle this matter once and for all, then, might I propose my own opinion, at once less mundane than Coarelli’s and more enlightening than Carandini’s?

On discussing the stranger habits of the late Emperor Augustus in his Twelve Caesars, Suetonius, a Roman historian, exposes a chink in the aegis of this otherwise great ruler. He tells us that the Emperor was so terrified by thunder and lightning that he had a storm bunker built beneath his palace, to protect him from the gods.

This fear, extreme as it sounds, is understandable when we hear (ibid 29) that, during a campaign abroad earlier on in his career, he very narrowly escaped a direct hit from Jupiter, witnessing the torch-bearer right in front of him incinerated on the spot.

The fact, then, not only that the grotto was discovered during excavations of Augustus’s palace but was then found to be decorated with a material (shells) pertaining to Neptune (the god of sea storms), and iconography (an eagle) pertaining to Jupiter (the god of sky storms), indicates that Carandini’s team has indeed found something special.

William Ford
Teacher of classics, Godolphin and Latymer School
London W6

Here's what Suetonius says (via the Latin Library):

Circa religiones talem accepimus. Tonitrua et fulgura paulo infirmius expavescebat, ut semper et ubique pellem vituli marini circumferret pro remedio, atque ad omnem maioris tempestatis suspicionem in abditum et concamaratum locum se reciperet, consternatus olim per nocturnum iter transcursu fulguris, ut praediximus.

Mister Ford might be on to something ...
From the Evening Standard:

Towering figures such as Cleopatra, Alexander the Great and Hannibal will come to life in the classroom in the first GCSE course in ancient history.

Interest in the subject is said to have soared on the back of big budget movies focusing on the civilisations as old as time.

Troy, Hollywood's take on the Iliad, the epic Greek poem about the siege of the ancient city, starred Brad Pitt as the legendary warrior Achilles.

And Colin Farrell starred as Alexander the Great in Alexander, the story of the king of Macedon who conquered Persia, Egypt, Syria and Mesopotamia.

Students will be able to study the history behind Hollywood blockbusters such as Troy, starring Brad Pitt

Now the OCR board has unveiled an ancient history GCSE a year after threatening to scrap the subject at A-level.

It was saved after campaigners backed by Tory MP and London mayoral candidate Boris Johnson warned the subject could disappear from state schools for ever.

The exam board says there has been strong demand from schools to present the subject to a younger audience.

GCSE pupils taking the subject will study the foundation of Rome and Greece along with the Persian wars.

Figures such as Alexander the Great, the Carthaginian general Hannibal and Roman empress Agrippina the Younger will feature in the course.

It will also cover ancient civilisations such as the Egyptians, the Minoans, the Persians, the Hellenes world and the Celts.

The movie Troy, which featured the legends of the Trojan horse and Helen of Troy, was released in 2004, one of a batch of productions reflecting Hollywood's fascination with history.

Last year 300, starring Gerard Butler, focused on the Battle of Thermopylae of the fifth century BC.

300, based on the fifth-century BC Battle of Thermopylae when 300 Spartans held back 1,000,000 Persians for several days, is another film that has sparked new interest in ancient history

Details of the ancient history GCSE, to be introduced in September next year, are on their way to exam watchdogs for approval.

Professor Tom Harrison, chairman of the Joint Association of Classical Teachers, said: "With the huge public interest in the ancient world, classics nationally is buoyant and this new qualification will bring the subject to a younger, even broader, audience."

The new GCSE is expected to differ from current subjects such as classical civilisation and Latin, which emphasise language, art and architecture.

Ancient history will focus on the study of original sources, such as archaeological evidence and translated literature.
From the Daily Skiff:

Cult and religion are synonymous for some religious sects within Roman culture, an adjunct anthropology professor told students and faculty Monday.

Over a catered lunch, students and faculty listened to a lecture by Jennifer Lockett, adjunct anthropology professor and classical archaeologist, titled "Ancient Roman Cults and Mystery Religions," organized by Chi Delta Mu , an academic religious student organization. Chi Delta Mu is open to all students and organizes weekly lectures in different disciplines every Monday.

Lockett said the definition of a cult is veneration, adoration and worship.

The Roman mystery cults, a religious sect of Roman culture with selective membership and without public rituals, were just as important as traditional Roman religions and practices in Roman culture, Lockett said.

Romans were tolerant of other religious traditions when they conquered the East Mediterranean and Asia Minor, Lockett said, allowing cults to coexist without conflict.

She said not only did the unknown allure members, but the offer of a better afterlife attracted many worshipers.

The mystery cults promised a better afterlife, but they were also an easy scapegoat during times of social and political upheaval, Lockett said.

The cults suffered waves of violent suppression throughout history, she said.

Prominent cults, like the Cult of Bacchus, triggered many conspiracy theories to hatch and cause witch hunts. In 186 B.C., 7,000 suspected members of the Cult of Bacchus were hunted and killed because they were deemed dangerous to the state, she said.

Mystery cults still exist, such as the Freemasons, revived and made popular by author Dan Brown, author of "Da Vinci Code," Lockett said.

Jeremy Arnold , president of Chi Delta Mu , Lockett's lecture appealed to him because it gave him insight to some history of Rome, where he plans to study for the entire next semester.
From the
Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star

Allen Ross Scaife, 47, husband of Cathy Edwards Scaife, and son of William and Sylvia Scaife of Fredericksburg, died of cancer Saturday, March 15, 2008, at his home in Lexington, Ky.

Allen was born in Fredericksburg on March 31, 1960. He graduated from the Tilton School in Tilton, N.H., in 1978, and from the College of William and Mary in 1982 with a major in classics and philosophy. He earned a Ph.D. in 1990 in classical studies at the University of Texas at Austin. In 1988, he participated in the summer program at the American Academy in Rome and in 1985, was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship for a year of study at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, Greece.

From 1991 to the time of his death, Allen was on the faculty at the University of Kentucky in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages, Literature and Cultures, where he taught courses on women in the ancient world, Greek art, Aristophanes, and the Greek historians, as well as Greek and Latin language courses.

Since July, 2005, Allen was the director of the Collaboratory for Research in Computing for Humanities, a research unit at the University of Kentucky which provides technical assistance to faculty for humanities computing projects, and supports interdisciplinary partnerships between resident faculty and researchers around the world.

A pioneer in using computer technology to advance scholarship in the humanities (, Allen was founder and co-editor of The Stoa: A Consortium for Electronic Publication in the Humanities and a founding editor of the Suda On Line, a web-accessible database for work on Byzantine Greek lexicography. He was also co-creator of Diotima: Materials for the Study of Women and Gender in the Ancient World.

Allen most recently collaborated on the high-resolution digital imaging of the Venetus A, a 10th century manuscript of the Iliad located at the Biblioteca Marciana in Venice, and was involved in the early stages of project EDUCE, which aims to use digital scanning technologies for virtually "unwrapping" and visualizing ancient papyrus scrolls.

His many interests included sailing in the Northern Neck of Virginia, hunting, cooking, woodworking and photography.

Allen was the proud father of three sons, Lincoln (16), Adrian (13), and Russell (9). In addition, Allen is survived by three siblings, Bill Scaife of Stafford County, Susan Duerksen of Richmond and John Scaife of New York, as well as their spouses and children.

A local memorial service will be announced at a later date.

Memorial donations may be made to the Swift/Longacre Scholarship Fund which provides support for students of classical studies at the University of Kentucky. Please make checks payable to the University of Kentucky and send in care of Dr. Jane Phillips, Department of MCLLC, 1055 Patterson Office Tower, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky. 40506-0027.
From the New York Sun:

The myth of Jason held powerful dominion over the minds of the ancient Greeks. The voyage of the Argonauts — from the Aegean Sea, through the narrow waters of the Hellespont, to the Black Sea and into the hinterland — represented the archetypal passage from the relative safety of the known world into a perilous land of mystery and incantation. It was the transition from civilization, from reason itself, into something akin to barbarism and savagery.

A tingling sense of what was at stake can be felt among the glowing artifacts that are now displayed at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, which has just opened in a Renaissance-style townhouse on the Upper East Side.

This accredited institution is primarily intended for graduate students and is affiliated with New York University. In the spacious ground-floor galleries, the inaugural show is ambitious in conception and expert in fulfillment. So much so that this institution can fairly rank as a new museum for New York. Largely the idea of Shelby White, widow of Leon Levy and a well-known collector of antiquities, the Institute is roughly comparable, in seriousness and refinement, to such other recent Manhattan museums as the Neue Galerie, which covers modernism in Germany and Austria, and the Rubin Museum of Art, dedicated to the cultures of the Himalayas.

"Wine, Worship, and Sacrifice: The Golden Graves of Ancient Vani" is not only beautiful in itself: It embodies with uncanny perfection the aims of the institution that houses it. The novelty of ISAW is that it addresses the great breadth of the ancient world, rather than only one culture. In practice, this would seem to suggest a commitment to exploring the odd things that happened whenever the civilizations of Greece and Rome collided with those of their neighbors. That story is told through the 130 objects in this show, most of them loaned by museums in Tbilisi and Vani in the Republic of Georgia. All of the objects were discovered in seven of the 28 grave sites that Georgian and foreign archeologists have been excavating since the 19th century.

Like their modern-day descendants, the denizens of that mountainous region beside the Black Sea spoke a Kartvelian language that was entirely unrelated to the Indo-European and Ural-Altaic languages that encircled them. In the objects on view, mostly dated around 300 before the common era, one sees strongly Hellenistic works, artifacts that fully embody local traditions, and a convergence of the two.

You could not ask for a more powerful record of this collision than the juxtaposition of the "Torso of a Youth of the 2nd Century B.C." against several other figures, far more local in feeling, from the previous century. The former is nothing less than one of the finest sculptures to survive from the ancient world. Headless and shinless, it possesses a vitality that enables us easily to imagine what has vanished, and to recognize in it an ideal Hellenic type of corporeal perfection. But within that perfection, there is a sharpness, a sensitivity, an aptness of detail that makes the work far more than the mere embodiment of some arid abstraction. Through the coolness of its bronze, the eye picks up a vital warmth. How jarring to pass, within the same gallery, from this perfection to the hieratic stick figures of a neighboring vitrine. Their severity, their oversized heads, and the incongruous addition of gold jewelry to their rough-hewn bronze convey a modern, even postmodern, feeling. It is likely that these will come closer to contemporary taste.

Something like an equilibrium between these two styles can be found in a bronze lamp comprising the heads and extended trunks of three Indian elephants. Having acquired a blanched platinum patina from centuries underground, this lamp represents the application of a Hellenistic sensibility to decidedly un-Greek forms. The naturalism of these elephant heads — the ears, eyes, tusks, and runnels in their rough hides — strains credulity. It is a hallmark of the sculpture's excellence that there is an inexhaustible power to the artifice: At no point is this work reduced, any less than the aforementioned torso, to mere materiality. Over and over, it reasserts its claims to life.

The second, larger room in the exhibition is devoted to splendid gold jewelry, as well as to some of the more utilitarian jugs, jars, and glasses that were occasioned by the region's vigorous tradition of winemaking. There is so much gold here that, if the Met had mounted them in an exhibition, the result would have been a blockbuster, with knockoffs selling briskly in the concession area. ISAW is too high-minded for such a thing. More important, the excellence of the work far surpasses the value of the gold. All manner of torques, studs, and pendants are here, often enhanced by a granulation technique that causes the objects to appear coated in golden dew.

As fine as that workmanship is, there is elegance in the installation itself, directed by the gallery's curator, Dr. Jennifer Y. Chi. As with exhibits at the Rubin Museum and Neue Galerie, the quality of the current display suggests seriousness and professionalism, together with great visual tact, that bode very well for this newest and most welcome enhancement to the cultural life of New York.
Fragmented Narrative: the Narratology of the Greek Letter.

An International Conference at Lampeter

21 – 24 September 2008.

For further information please see

Department of Classics, University of Wales Lampeter in association with KYKNOS, the Centre for Research on the Narrative Literature of the Ancient World (

Speakers include: Ewen Bowie, Pamela Gordon, Dimitri Kasprzyk, David Konstan, John Morgan, Patricia Rosenmeyer, Niall Slater, Tim Whitmarsh.

See website for full list of speakers and topics.

Please contact: Owen Hodkinson (details below) for further information or if you would be interested in attending the conference. Booking forms available soon from the conference website (this will also be advertised.

Owen Hodkinson
o.hodkinson AT
Dept. of Classics
University of Wales Lampeter
SA48 7ED
+44 (0)1570 424721
ante diem xvi kalendas apriles

Festival of Mars continues (day 17)

Liberalia -- a festival of general merriment and wine drinking in honour of Liber Pater (another name for Bacchus)

Agonalia -- the rex sacrificulus would offer a ram to various deities

45 B.C. -- Julius Caesar defeats Pompey's sons and Labienus at Munda

136 A.D. -- the future emperor Marcus Aurelius dons the toga virilis

180 A.D. -- death of Marcus Aurelius at Bononia

461 A.D. -- death of Saint Patrick (traditional)

indolent @
8.00 p.m. |DISCU|Jesus: The Complete Story: The Early Years
Explore the strange fables that surround Jesus' birth. Follow the childhood and early adult years of Jesus using a first century living museum newly opened in Nazareth. Find out why Jesus began his mission and why he chose to live his life the way he did.

9.00 p.m. |DISCU|Jesus: The Complete Story: The Mission
Learn how Jesus carried out his ministry as a healer and exorcist and how his taste for parties with undesirable guests became an attack on religious authorities. Follow him to Jerusalem and see how dangerous it was for him during the Passover Festival.

9.00 p.m. |HISTC| ROME | Triumph
Unanimously proclaimed Emperor by the Senate, Caesar pronounces the war over, and prepares for five days of feasting and games honoring his “triumph.” No longer an enlisted soldier, Pullo eyes a pastoral future with Eirene; Vorenus runs for municipal magistrate, with Posca’s help; Octavian retrieves Octavia from her self-imposed exile; and Servilia invites a revenge-minded Quintus Pompey into her home, to Brutus’ dismay.

10.00 p.m. |DISCU| Jesus: The Complete Story: The Last Days
Look at the last days of Jesus' life: the Last Supper; the Mount of Olives where he prayed and sweat blood; and the trial where he is condemned for blasphemy. Explore what may have accounted for his resurrection and find out what he may have looked like.

DISCU = Discovery Channel (US)
HISTC - History Television (Canada)
From Scholia:

Luca Graverini, I Metamorfosi di Apuleio: Letteratura e Identita

From BMCR:

Thomas A. Schmitz, Modern Literary Theory and Ancient Texts. An Introduction. Translation of 2002 German edition.

Sarah Broadie, Aristotle and Beyond: Essays on Metaphysics and Ethics.

Pietro Pucci (ed.), Inno alle Muse (Esiodo, Teogonia, 1-115), Testo, Introduzione, Traduzione e Commento. Filologia e Critica 96.

Florence Malhomme, Anne Gabriele Wersinger, Mousike et Arete. La mousique et l'e/thique de l'antiquite a l'age moderne. Actes du colloque international tenu en Sorbonne les 15-17 decembre 2003.

Waldemar Heckel, Lawrence Tritle, Pat Wheatley, Alexander's Empire. Formulation to Decay. A Companion to Crossroads of History.

Vincent Jolivet, Ruines Italiennes. Photographies des collections Alinari.

David J. Breeze, Roman Frontiers in Britain. Classical World Series.

Christian Heller, Sic transit gloria mundi : das Bild von Pompeius Magnus im Buergerkrieg. Verzerrung-Stilisierung-historische Realitaet. Pharos-Studien zur griechisch-roemischen Antike 21.

... and some theatre reviews

Three reviews of Conversations at Tusculum

New York Times

Iphigenia (NY)

Oedipus (Senca's ... Salem)
The first submission deadline for the AIA's 110th Annual Meeting, to be held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, January 8-11, 2009, is less than two weeks away. The submission. The schedule for submission of sessions and papers has been revised from past years. Please refer to the explanation below to determine if you need to submit a paper by the March 30th deadline.

The general deadline is being pushed back to late August to allow summer fieldwork to be completed. There is also an early deadline for Joint Colloquia and for any non-U.S. Resident who will need an early decision so they can apply for a visa. If the individual is part of an organized session, the entire session must be submitted by the early deadline. A link to the U.S. State Department site listing the latest visa requirements for the U.S. is provided on the AIA website. The two deadlines are:

Sunday, March 30, 2008
This deadline is applicable to all Joint AIA/APA Colloquia, and any other organized sessions or open session submissions from a non-U.S. Resident needing an early decision to acquire a visa. Submissions not meeting the above criteria, but submitted prior to this March 30th deadline will be considered in the Fall.

Sunday, August 24, 2008:
This deadline is applicable for all other submissions including colloquia, workshops, open session papers, posters, and roundtables.

The submission system will be open from February 1 through August 24, 2008. If you expect to be in the field without internet access you may submit your abstracts early, but you will not be notified of the PAMC?s decision until October 1, 2008.

The full Call for Papers and submission instructions are available on the AIA website ( Please be sure to review these instructions prior to submitting your abstract or session. All submissions must be made by means of online submission via the AIA website. The program committee is particularly keen to receive submissions on the following topics: European Prehistory; Ancient Near East; new methods of research and analysis, and thematic papers from any region or period that address use of sacred space, funerary art and practices, patterns of urbanism, and identifying ethnicity in the physical record. All submissions, of course, must pass the PAMC's vetting process to be put onto the program. As with past meetings, all submissions must be made electronically. The online submission forms and supporting documents are available on the AIA website.

* View the 2009 Call for Papers -

* Online Submission Forms -
From the Beacon-Journal:

What was once a bright constellation in the universe of art and antiquities is disintegrating in an online auction, mouse-click by mouse-click, in a major step toward satisfying millions of dollars of an Akron collector's debt.

The continuing fall of Bruce Ferrini from international prominence is being documented in real time, as eBay-style bids creep upward on 153 items, many of them ancient religious artifacts.

A 2,800-year-old strip of linen mummy wrap, inscribed with text from the Book of the Dead.

Current bid (as of Friday afternoon): $1.

A Babylonian pottery vessel, ap
proximately 3,800 years old, valued at $3,000 to $5,000.

Current bid: $150.

Ferrini owes some $5 million to a long international list of creditors. Mainly because of the eclectic nature of the collection and the controversy attached to its architect, this auction has been more than two years in the making.

Auction houses shy away

The assets were seized in late summer of 2005. Despite the quality of the goods, the major, mainstream auction houses shied away. The sale is being conducted by the Dallas-based Heritage Auction Galleries, with the items on view at Arte Primitivo Gallery in New York City. Online bidding will continue until the close of business Wednesday.

To view the auction, go to and click on the top image of a plank decorated with Egyptian hieroglyphics.

The auction was arranged by Akron attorney Scott Haley who, as receiver, represents the creditors and is, for legal purposes, the current owner of a remarkable body of artifacts, some dating to hundreds of years B.C.

The auction house describes the sale as ''a liquidation auction of an eclectic collection of Old World antiquities, illuminated manuscript leaves, American Indian pottery, and numerous other interesting collectibles.''

Items include English Romantic poet Lord Byron's personal copies of three of his own books — The Giaour, The Corsair and The Bride of Abydos — which include editing in the author's own handwriting. The estimated value is $10,000 to $20,000.

There is a carved stone section of a wall frieze from India depicting a Buddha in a long flowing robe, about 1,600 years old. Its estimated value is $10,000 to $15,000.

And there are nearly 20 of the illuminated manuscript pages — illustrated sections of text, usually from religious books — that defined Ferrini's high reputation as a collector.

Some not included

The auction does not include the three most valuable and controversial segments of Ferrini's disputed collection. An ongoing legal battle has yet to sort out the true owner of these items, worth millions:

•A batch of biblical artifacts that include fragments from the Book of Exodus and the Letter of Paul to the Colossians. It also includes part of the controversial Gnostic manuscript known as the Gospel of Judas.

•A large marble Assyrian relief believed to have belonged to Alexander the Great.

•Fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, whose display at the John S. Knight Center in 2004 devolved into a contentious public squabble, with court injunctions and lawsuits over missing money, unpaid bills and claims of fraud.

Charlie Bowers is a Cleveland attorney who represents Frieda Nussberger-Tchacos of Switzerland, who claims to be sole owner of the papyrus pages of the Gospel of Judas. He hopes the auction represents a step forward in resolving Ferrini's complex legacy.

''We certainly hope that the receiver gains as much from the auction as possible,'' Bowers said. ''But what does still remain to be determined is the ownership of the other items that we still claim.''

Bowers declined to put a value on the Gospel of Judas fragments, and said doing so would be irrelevant, as his client has promised to donate the artifact to Egypt, where it can be properly archived, displayed and studied.

Ferrini is expected to give a deposition Monday in a Summit County courtroom regarding the ownership. Bowers said Ferrini has produced two more pages of the Judas text and has indicated he will give up claims of ownership. Ferrini's attorney, Tim McKinzie, did not respond to a request for comment.

Ferrini, a Kent State University graduate, began his collecting career as a young man, purchasing a single illustrated leaf from a Cleveland dealer for $27. With a discerning eye and shrewd business sense, he acquired a collection of illuminated manuscripts that was internationally recognized for its quality. In 1995, Ferrini made headlines after exposing a retired Ohio State University professor who was stealing rare manuscript pages from the Vatican.

In 2002, he pledged $6.8 million to Kent State University in the name of his son Matthew, who had died the year before.

Financial collapse

The reversal of his fortune had apparently already begun. The first cracks began to appear with the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit in Akron, which brought to the surface his financial collapse.

Ferrini was arrested for contempt of court during the dispute. The following year, he filed for bankruptcy protection. Ferrini's household furnishings were auctioned in fall 2005, raising about $23,000. His home in Bath, valued last year at $1.6 million, was sold at sheriff's sale for a little more than $1 million. He is living in Akron.

The legal battle over Ferrini's debts continues. According to Summit County court documents, he has serially failed to submit court-ordered depositions and is in danger of being found in contempt. He is due to appear Friday to explain his lack of cooperation.

FWIW, most of the Greek stuff appears to have been snapped up already ... provenances are the usual 'from a private NYC collection' or other collections (the "Mr and Mrs Daniel Donner collection" is frequently mentioned; I don't think I've seen that one before)
Ahh ... those environmentally-friendly Romans (he said, with tongue firmly ensconced in cheek) ... from the Echo:

Popular TV programme Time Team is set to feature a Lincolnshire dig - and show that the Romans were keen recyclers.

Tony Robinson and archaeologist Phil Harding spent three days on a dig in a field at Wickenby, near Market Rasen.

The programme, called the Romans Recycle, is to be screened on Channel 4 on Sunday, March 23.

Filming was done in May last year and evidence of a Romano-British settlement, whose inhabitants melted down coins and brooches and re-used the metal, was discovered.

Assistant producer of Time Team Ben Knappett said: "The Romans were big on recycling. They had this big metal working site at Wickenby where they would re-use brooches and things like that.

"They would melt them down and re-use the metal."

Metal detectorist Keith Kelway (57), a heritage studies student, first found artefacts on the site abut five years ago.

"I've made about 500 finds from the late Iron Age and Roman periods which include loads of coins, brooches, military items, pottery and even some chariot sittings," said Mr Kelway, who lives in Doddington Park, Lincoln."
From Vivi Enna:

Scoperti e sequestrati dalla Guardia di Finanza di Piazza Armerina reperti archeologici di rilevante interesse storico e archeologico.

In seguito alla costante attività di intelligence operata dai militari del Nucleo Mobile della Tenenza di Piazza Armerina, secondo specifiche direttive disposte dal Comandante Provinciale di Enna, volte ad arginare il sempre presente fenomeno del traffico illecito di materiale archeologico, è stato stroncato lo smercio di 47 reperti di interesse storico di varia tipologia e datazione.

Il possessore dei reperti, già noto ai militari, è stato intercettato e bloccato mentre percorreva, a bordo della propria autovettura, la SS. 117bis, nei pressi dello svincolo di Contrada Camemi in agro di Piazza Armerina.

In seguito all’ispezione dell’autovettura e alla successiva perquisizione dell’abitazione nella disponibilità del predetto è stato rinvenuto e sequestrato il materiale archeologico in parola.

Tra i manufatti posti in sequestro spiccano 31 monete (1 d’oro di età bizantina, 8 d’argento di età greca, medioevale e romana e 22 di bronzo di età greco-romana), vaghi di collana in pasta vitrea e osso di età antica e un conio in pietra per monete.

Le perizie effettuate dai funzionari della Soprintendenza Archeologica della Provincia di Enna hanno confermato il rilevante interesse storico ed archeologico dei reperti, riconducendo il reperimento degli stessi tra quelli più rilevanti degli ultimi anni sia sotto il profilo quantitativo che qualitativo.

Il responsabile è stato deferito alla competente Autorità Giudiziaria per i reati di illecito impossessamento di beni archeologici, omessa denunzia di rinvenimento e ricettazione.

I think this is the third or fourth time I've read (mostly 'one liners' up to this point) of folks conducting illicit digs near the site ...
From National Geographic:

Experts have digitally reconstructed Rome's earliest major temple, the Temple of Apollo, built by the first Roman emperor, Augustus.

The temple dates to 28 B.C., and its ruins stand adjacent to the emperor's imperial palaces on the city's famous Palatine Hill. (Read related story: "Sacred Cave of Rome's Founders Found, Scientists Say" [January 26, 2007].)

Until now the original design of the temple had not been well understood, partly due to the ruins' poor state of preservation.

Also, previous efforts to model the temple had been based on outdated historical assessments rather than on the ruins themselves.

Stephan Zink, a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, studied the site and its archaeological remains to produce new measurements and other data to accurately recreate the temple.

"This reconstruction provides an entirely new reference point—not only for archaeologists and scholars of Augustan temple design, but also for ancient historians and classicists," Zink said.

The Augustan period of the Roman Empire, from about 43 B.C. to A.D. 18, saw a flowering of activity in science, politics, technology, and architecture.

The Temple of Apollo was Augustus' first temple project and may have played a role in the emperor's effort to secure his power.

"The new reconstruction closes a substantial gap in our knowledge on the architectural history of the time and … opens up possibilities for reassessing many aspects of Augustan culture," Zink said.

He presented his findings at the January meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America.

Then and Now

Zink conducted summer fieldwork at Palatine Hill from 2005 through 2007. He studied the temple's surviving foundation and marble fragments found scattered around the site.

All that remains there today are massive and seemingly unshaped blocks of Roman concrete, which once formed the nucleus of the temple's podium—its base or platform—Zink explained.

The parts of the foundation that once supported the columns and walls, built in blocks of compacted rock called tuff, have been entirely lost.

But several architectural fragments, such as a full column cross-section, have survived and are spread throughout the site.

Combining his field data with previous research from the 1950s and 1960s, Zink was able to restore most of the temple's key measurements and bring the site back to life in a digital reconstruction.

(See pictures of ancient Rome reconstructed in 3-D.)

"When looking at the site today, it is hard to imagine that there once stood a temple that was as high as an apartment house with ten stories," Zink said.


Zink's new observations reestablished the original position of each column and put the surviving marble fragments back in place.

The reconstruction also took into account the known design plans of Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, a famous Roman engineer and architect during the time of Augustus.

The building's facade, according to the new model, shows a structure rooted in local Italic traditions with features similar to those of famous Greek and Hellenistic temples, which are thought to have influenced Vitruvius' work.

"Only due to the fact that the temple is now visible again, a comprehensive assessment of its design is possible," Zink said.

"For the first time, questions like—What were the models for its design? How does the structure compare to other temples in and around Rome? What was the symbolic meaning of the temple's design within its political and historical context?—can be answered based on actual data from the field."

Birte Poulsen, an archaeologist at the University of Aarhus in Denmark, was not involved in the study.

She said Zink's study sheds crucial new light on the architecture of early imperial Rome.

"The methods seem convincing, and Zink already [has] good results," Poulsen said.

"The Temple of Apollo is one of the most important constructions from the time of Augustus. A more profound knowledge of the Temple of Apollo will increase our understanding of the Augustan architecture in general, and in particular Augustan Rome."

A photo of the reconstruction accompanies the original article. A pdf illustrated abstract of Zink's presentation is also online (it was the winning grad paper at the AIA). If Zink is correct, and the Temple was as prominent as he suggests, it becomes even more difficult to believe that Dionysius of Halicarnassus would not have mentioned the supposed proximity of the Lupercal to it as opposed to the Temple of Victory ...
... if such a thing can be said. Folks might be interested in a Wikihow article on How to Celebrate the Ides of March ...
From Reuters:

Greeks on Friday hailed a new study showing the modern-day island of Ithaca is the same as that of Homer's legendary hero Odysseus, rejecting a recent British theory that pointed to a nearby island.

British researchers last year claimed they had solved an intriguing classical puzzle, saying the kingdom of Ithaca was located on another Ionian island further west.

"This new study shows how wrong and inaccurate the British theory is," Ithaca councilor and former island mayor Spyros Arsenis told Reuters of the study conducted by Greek geology professors and other scientists over eight months.

Arsenis also heads the island's' "Friends of Homer" society.

The British study -- which suggested that Homer's Ithaca was actually part of what is modern-day Kefalonia -- had enraged islanders who are fiercely proud of their renowned ancestor, the wiliest of the ancient Greek writer's epic heroes.

The British team suggested that drilling showed the Paliki peninsula on Kefalonia may have once been an island and that it better matched Homer's description of the homeland which Odysseus left behind to fight in the Trojan war.

"The new Greek study shows...the geological formations could not have been formed in just 3,000 years and there is no evidence of any sea channel," Arsenis said.

The study will be officially presented next week. The island's local council also welcomed the results.

"This study rules out once and for all the theory that the Paliki peninsula was once a separate island. It is a slap in the face for the British researchers," it said in a statement.

Finding ancient Ithaca could rival the discoveries in the 1870s of ancient Troy on Turkey's Aegean coast and the mask of Agamemnon, who led the Greek forces against the Trojans. No one knows for certain whether Odysseus or his city really existed.

The discovery of the ruins of Troy, where Odysseus, Achilles, Paris, Menelaus and other Greek heroes did battle, has led scholars to believe there is more to Homer's tales than just legend.

Wow ... heavy duty bad mouthing of British researchers before the study is even released ... no good can come from that ...
Tip o' the pileus to David Parsons for this link to Father Foster speaking (in Latin) about the difficulty of translating some modern concepts into Latin. The narration/subtitles are in Portuguese, but Foster himself speaks Latin (and is very understandable). There's also a nice shot of a Latin ATM machine:

Poking around the 'related videos', I also see we have a video of our favourite Carmelite and (presumably) his class singing a Caesar Song:

Interesting item from a University of Vienna press release:

Archaeologists from the Institute of Prehistory and Early History of the University of Vienna have found an amulet inscribed with a Jewish prayer in a Roman child’s grave dating back to the 3rd century CE at a burial ground in the Austrian town of Halbturn. The 2.2-centimeter-long gold scroll represents the earliest sign of Jewish inhabitants in present-day Austria.

This amulet shows that people of Jewish faith lived in what is today Austria since the Roman Empire. Up to now, the earliest evidence of a Jewish presence within the borders of Austria has been letters from the 9th century CE. In the areas of the Roman province of Pannonia that are now part of Hungary, Croatia and Serbia, gravestones and small finds attest to Jewish inhabitants even in antiquity. Jews have been settling in all parts of the ancient world at the latest since the 3rd century BCE. Particularly following the second Jewish Revolt against the Roman Empire, the victorious Romans sold large numbers of Jews as slaves to all corners of the empire. This, coupled with voluntary migration, is how Jews also might have come to present-day Austria.

Child’s grave
The one or two year old child, which presumably wore the silver amulet capsule around its neck, was buried in one of around 300 graves in a Roman cemetery which dates back to the 2nd to 5th century CE and is situated next to a Roman estate ("villa rustica"). This estate was an agricultural enterprise that provided food for the surrounding Roman towns (Carnuntum, Györ, Sopron).

The gravesite, discovered in 1986 in the region of Seewinkel, around 20 kilometres from Carnuntum, was completely excavated between 1988 and 2002 by a team led by Falko Daim, who is now General Director of the Roman-German Central Museum of Mainz, with the financial backing of the Austrian Science Fund FWF and the Austrian state of Burgenland. All in all, more than 10,000 individual finds were assessed, most notably pieces of glass, shards of ceramic and metal finds. The gold amulet, whose inscription was incomprehensible at first, was only discovered in 2006 by Nives Doneus from the Institute for Prehistory and Early History of the University of Vienna.

The inscription on the amulet is a Jewish prayer
Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one.

Greek script, Hebrew language
Greek is common with amulet inscriptions, although Latin and Hebrew and amulet inscriptions are known. In this case, the scribe's hand is definitely familiar with Greek. However, the inscription is Greek in appearance only, for the text itself is nothing other than a Greek transcription of the common Jewish prayer from the Old Testament (Deuteronomy, 6:4): "Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one."

Amulet to protect against demons
Other non-Jewish amulets have been found in Carnuntum. One gold- and three silver-plated amulets with magical texts were found in a stone sarcophagus unearthed west of the camp of the Roman legion, including one beseeching Artemis to intervene against the migraine demon, Antaura. Amulets have also been found in Vindobona and the Hungarian part of Pannonia. What is different about the Halbturn gold amulet is its Jewish inscription. It uses the confession to the center of Jewish faith and not magic formulae.

The gold-plated artefact from Halbturn can be viewed from 11 April 2008 onwards as part of the “The Amber Road – Evolution of a Trade Route? exhibition in the Burgenland State Museum in Eisenstadt.

Here's the photo that accompanies the press release:

The Department of Classical and Near Eastern Studies at the
University of Minnesota invites applications for two positions.

Position 1
We seek a full-time, academic year (08/25/08-05/24/09) Temporary
Assistant Professor in Classics to begin fall semester, 08/25/08.
This is a one year, sabbatical replacement position. The successful
candidate will be a specialist in Greek literature and culture. The
teaching load for a full-time assistant professor is 2 courses per
semester. The appointee is expected to have an active research
program and participate fully in department and professional service
activities. Courses will consist of: a large introductory lecture
course in Greek civilization, a more advanced undergraduate lecture
course focusing on a specific period of Greek civilization, one
course in intermediate Greek or Latin, and a graduate reading course
in Greek. PhD required by start of position.

Position 2
We seek a full-time, academic year (08/25/08-05/24/09) Lecturer in
Classics to begin fall semester, 08/25/08. This is a one year,
sabbatical replacement position. The successful candidate will be a
specialist in Latin literature and Roman civilization. The teaching
load for a full-time lecturer is three courses per semester. Courses
will include a lecture course in translation on early imperial Rome,
intermediate Latin prose, and intermediate Latin or Greek poetry. PhD
required by start of position.

Please send a cover letter indicating which position is sought, a cv,
three letters of recommendation, and evidence of successful teaching.
Fullest consideration will be given to applications received by April
1, 2008, but the positions will remain open until filled. Interviews with
selected candidates will be conducted at the April 17-19 meeting of CAMWS
in Tucson, Arizona, or by telephone with selected candidates who cannot
attend. Applicants should indicate whether they will be in Tucson.

All applications must be submitted online. To create an application, please
visit the following website:

* To apply for the Temporary Assistant Professor position, please
refer to requisition number 154212.
* To apply for the Lecturer position, please refer to requisition
number 154246.

For more information about applying online, please contact the
department at 612-625-3465.

For further information about the department, please visit our
website at

The University of Minnesota is committed to the policy that all
persons shall have equal access to its programs, facilities, and
employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national
origin, sex, age, marital status, disability, public assistance
status, veteran status, or sexual orientation.
Some interesting observations/factoids in this item from the Stranger, meant to gloss the Roman Art from the Louvre exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum:

The latest blockbuster at Seattle Art Museum is an anomaly: 50 tons of Roman art from the Louvre, much of which has never before been moved from its final resting place in Paris. The Louvre put it on the road in order to raise money. SAM, which refuses to say how much it paid for the show but is charging a special required fee of $20 as opposed to its suggested-donation general admission of $13, is hoping to draw crowds and to prove its new facility is a home worthy of the gods. There's marble, glass, and gold, divided into rooms separated by theme: Citizenship; Foreigners, Slaves, and Freedmen; The Emperor; Death. It's a terribly restrained, sexless, official view. Here are some keys that unlock it a little:

1. Almost half of what's in the show got to the French capital through Napoleon's sticky hands. Invading Italy in 1797, he grabbed art from the Vatican Museum and leading families, but he didn't need to steal from the best of the private collectors, the Borghese family. Camillo Borghese was in debt and he was Napoleon's brother-in-law, so he sold hundreds of sculptures, reliefs, and busts to Napoleon. (After his fall, some of the stolen art was returned and some kept, in exchange for French works.) The wheeling and dealing of the distant past doesn't open up the Louvre to claims on its collection today: Its Roman art was amassed before the invention of international laws that govern how antiquities are collected.

2. How all this art got to Seattle is a secret, says Anna Hayes, a registrar with the American Federation of Arts, which planned the high-security trip. She can say that it came to the United States in four shipments by cargo plane. She won't say exactly how it moves inside the country (it has been in Indianapolis and will go to Oklahoma City). Augustus may already have been on I-5.

3. According to architect Rem Koolhaas, the Roman empire had an "operating system." Like a franchise, it repeated architectural elements in all its cities: a forum, a coliseum, aqueducts, and two intersecting central roads. You see its corporate branding in the map of Carthage at the show's entrance. The emperors disseminated copies of official portraits of themselves in full-length marble. Portraits of regular people, meanwhile, stood in public in order to demonstrate the right ways to dress and behave as citizens.

4. Emperors can be identified by hair alone. Augustus, for instance, wore a fork in the middle of his bangs and two claw-like pinchers to the right, as evidenced in a youthful, larger-than-life official sculpture of him in the show that was stolen from the Vatican Museum and kept in France by treaty agreement. It would have been one of many identical sculptures. (Women's hair, given its own entire salon-like room in the exhibition, was both elaborate and tightly controlled.)

5. The relationship between the sculptures and the emperors was political and largely fantastical. Augustus made himself look younger while Caligula, who reportedly resembled livestock, made himself beautiful. In the aftermath of Caligula's excesses, Claudius emphasized his advanced age in his sculptural portraits (he was known to fall asleep at meetings).

6. In contrast to architects, artists in the Roman empire were thought of as lowly craftsmen, and sculptures were often made on assembly lines—one guy would make the foot, another the face, and so on, according to University of Washington assistant professor of Roman art Margaret Laird. Only one of the sculptures in the show is signed.

7. These sculptures weren't intended to be seen as creamy monochromes. They were originally painted, especially to highlight the eyes, the hair, and the clothing. On the head of a young priest in the "Religion" section, you can make out the faint trace of an iris in the right eye.

8. Roman religion was, above all, accommodating. It continually had to make room for newly annexed heathens. There were all sorts of gods for all sorts of things, culminating in Mithraism, the final, doomed competitor with Christianity for religious dominance in the empire. No one knows quite what Mithraists practiced (its failure may be attributable to the fact that it was only open to men), but we do know that they met in caves. One relief, discovered in present-day Lebanon and featuring Mithras, his helper animals, the four seasons personified, and the signs of the zodiac, is the epitome of the jumble.

9. Despite the fact that one of the few colored-stone sculptures in the show is a black-marble figure who looks to be of African descent and is labeled as a slave, Roman slavery applied to all races. In addition, it's even possible that this figure—and the small figure next to him, wearing a charm that usually was reserved for citizens—doesn't represent a slave at all, Laird says. The reason is that it's almost impossible to determine who's a slave, as opposed to, say, a worker, in Roman art. They have no definitive identifying marks (like citizens or soldiers do), unless they're wearing the patterns of particular owners.

10. Most of these sculptures don't look like fragments because they've been fixed up, whether recently or in the 1700s or 1800s. The boy Nero's head, for instance, is mounted on an alien body. You can see the break in his neck. A marble head of his mother, Agrippina, is missing a nose and a chin. It seems fitting. Nero did, after all, have to try several times before finally killing her.

Some of the items on view can be seen at the Indianapolis Museum of Art's online 'catalogue' ...
While the Classics list has been pondering the recent events concerning the erstwhile governor as a tragedy for a few days already, the BBC is one of the (soon-to-be-many, no doubt) media outlets that have also picked up on the 'tragic' aspect ... perhaps more noteworthy, though, is this item by amicus noster Bruce Thornton in the City Journal, which suggests there is something more 'comic' about it:

Commentators are already calling the rise and fall of New York governor Eliot Spitzer “tragic.” The tragic arc, as the old Greeks articulated it, goes something like this: talent and drive lead to success, but success breeds arrogance and blindness to one’s human limits. Then comes the fall from power, engineered by the gods to teach mortals once again that even the mightiest and most brilliant of us are in the end defined by our common flaws. But the fall has something grand about it: in Sophocles, for example, Oedipus’s angry pursuit of knowledge about his horrific crimes is admirable, too, for it ultimately saves his city from a devastating plague. His excesses also come to some good by illustrating Aeschylus’s dictum that “suffering teaches”—teaches that for all of our abilities and achievements, we are still mortals subject to time, chance, and our own chaotic passions.

Like most scandals that bring down modern American politicians, however, Spitzer’s lacks the grandeur of tragedy. True, his talent and ambition, like Oedipus’s, led him to significant public achievements and fame. As the “sheriff of Wall Street,” he relentlessly pursued alleged financial evildoers, earning along the way a reputation for toughness and results that swept him into the governorship. And also like Oedipus, he overreached because of hubristic arrogance and self-righteousness—“Listen, I’m a fucking steamroller and I’ll roll over you or anybody else,” he once warned Republican Assemblyman James Tedisco. Even before his current troubles, he had been wounded by allegations that his staff ordered state police to track Republican State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno’s travel records, in an effort to damage him politically.

Yet Spitzer’s downfall—sordid trysts with high-priced prostitutes, complete with grubby financial hijinks to cover up his deeds—is ultimately the stuff of low comedy and satire. For insight into the departing governor’s troubles, then, we’d be better off looking to the Greek comic poet Aristophanes, who uses sexual crimes and excesses to dramatize his characters’ inability to subordinate the body to the mind and do what is in the public interest. Like Aristotle, Aristophanes saw politics as “public virtue.” And the paramount virtue is self-control: the ability to resist one’s appetites for a higher good. The politician who gives in to appetite—especially sex—is unfit to rule, for his failure to control himself shows that he is a slave to his passions. Once such people obtain political power, like the Sausage-Seller in The Knights or Bdelykleon in The Wasps, they use it to indulge themselves at the expense of the community. How can we trust such people with political power and responsibility, Aristophanes asks, when they will sacrifice even their own honor and reputation for the sake of more immediate pleasures?

Do Americans really care any more about sexual indiscretions among our public officials? Sometimes we seem to have severed the link between political power and virtue. Many now see virtue as belonging solely to the private realm, and we’ve tended to reduce political power to questions of technique and policy—as if knowing the name of the prime minister of Kazakhstan qualifies one for political leadership. It’s easy to imagine Spitzer’s ending up as neither a tragic nor a comic figure, but rather a therapeutic one: hawking his tell-all bestseller on Oprah after a suitably groveling public apology, while the audience experiences neither pity nor fear, nor even scornful laughter, just the tears of cheap sentiment.
Various versions of this one kicking around ... it seems to be connected with the Thessalonki Necropolis story ... from AP via Yahoo:

Greek archaeologists said Tuesday they have unearthed rare evidence of what they believe was brain surgery performed nearly 1,800 years ago on a young woman — who died during or shortly after the operation.

Although references to such delicate operations abound in ancient writings, discoveries of surgically perforated skulls are uncommon in Greece.

Site excavator Ioannis Graikos said the woman's skeleton was found during a rescue dig last year in Veria, a town some 46 miles west of Thessaloniki.

"We interpret the find as a case of complicated surgery which only a trained and specialized doctor could have attempted," Graikos said.

We've had a couple of trepanation items at rc before ... back in 2006 we had an example from Bulgaria ... back in 2004, a case from Chios was one of our 'top xx archaeological discoveries for 2003' (scroll down for the full item, with what Hippocrates had to say, or click here for the press item from Kathimerini) ... here's an excerpt from a Call for Papers a few years back as well, which might be useful for folks wanting to read more:

This colloquium would be the fourth in a series of interdisciplinary conferences on the general theme of the Archaeology of Medicine organised by the Centre for the History of Medicine of the University of Birmingham Medical School (UK). The first in 1998 was entitled ‘The Archaeology of Medicine’ [published as Robert Arnott (ed.), The Archaeology of Medicine, Oxford, 2002 - BAR International Series 1046]; and the second in 2000 concerned ‘Cranial Trepanation in the Ancient World’ [published as Robert Arnott, Stanley Finger and C. U. M. Smith (eds.), Trepanation: History, Discovery, Theory, Lisse, Swets and Zeitlinger, 2003].

UPDATE: here's a nice photo from National Geographic:

From ANSA:

Brian Eno, the father of ambient music, has teamed up with Italian contemporary artist Mimmo Paladino for a new site-specific exhibition at Rome's Ara Pacis Museum.

A huge black steel ring now frames the Emperor Augustus's Altar of Peace on the first floor of the museum, while on the ground floor Paladino has created a universe of shadowed sculptures of human forms, rifle butts, little birds and shoes.

Eno's 'visual music' accompanies the exhibition, entering the museum spaces through portable radios and grills of loudspeakers.

''The aim was to create a piece of music that animates Paladino's sculpture, freeing something deeply buried inside it and evoking an aura of infinite continuity and coherence,'' said curator James Putnam.

''What interests me is that music can be figurative, pictorial like a landscape,'' added Eno, who began his career with Roxy Music and has worked as a producer with U2, Depeche Mode and Coldplay. In the section of the show directly below Augustus's altar, Eno has created a musical ambience without words, melodies or rhythm that permanently changes.

''One of the most intriguing and fascinating aspects is not knowing what it will be, but at the same time knowing it will be different every time you listen,'' Putnam said.

Eno and Paladino worked together on a similar project in 1999 at the Round House in London called The Sleepers, where Eno supplied layers of sound via multiple CD players to Paladino's sculptures of human forms curled on the floor in the centre of the space and crocodiles stalking the corridors.

''They can both pick out a relationship between visual art and the art of sound,'' Putnam said, explaining why the duo enjoy collaborating. ''Eno has compared his music to sculpture, something tangible in space, and Paladino believes that the creation of music from the harmony of tones is comparable to the creation of visual art from the harmony of forms''. The show, which runs until May 11, is the first site-specific installation at the Ara Pacis Museum, which was designed by US architect Richard Meier and unveiled amid fiece polemics in 2006.

The sleek stone-and-glass complex - central Rome's first piece of modern architecture since Fascist days - split professional architecture critics, with some hailing it as a welcome piece of understated modernism in a florid Baroque city, and others as wholly out of step with its surroundings.

While I think Brian Eno's stuff is great, I don't quite understand what is going on with this ...
From a Newswise press release:

Along an isolated, rocky stretch of Greek shoreline, a Florida State University researcher and his students are unlocking the secrets of a partially submerged, “lost” harbor town believed to have been built by the ancient Mycenaeans nearly 3,500 years ago.

“This is really a remarkable find,” said Professor Daniel J. Pullen, chairman of FSU’s Department of Classics. “It is rare indeed to locate an entire town built during the Late Bronze Age that shows this level of preservation.”

Pullen and a colleague, Assistant Professor of Classical Studies Thomas F. Tartaron of the University of Pennsylvania, led students from both universities in conducting an initial study of the site during May and June of 2007. What they found was unique: an archaeological site that required very little digging.

“Because of soil erosion and tectonic subsidence” -- the latter induced by earthquakes along the numerous local faults -- “much of the soil had already been stripped from the site,” Pullen said. “So the architectural remains of about 20 acres of closely built structures were plainly visible.”

Although more than three millennia of earthquakes and other factors have collapsed the structures, what remains are the buildings’ foundations, walls that in some places still stand nearly 5 feet tall, and a number of clues as to the settlement’s construction and purpose.

“All of the structures were laid out in a grid pattern, which suggests that the entire community was planned and then built all at once, rather than piecemeal,” Pullen said. “This would indicate that the settlement was built with some strategic purpose -- perhaps as a military or naval outpost.”

The settlement, referred to as Korphos-Kalamianos by Pullen and Tartaron, rests on the shores of the Saronic Gulf in the western Aegean Sea about 60 miles to the southwest of the Greek capital, Athens. Directly across the gulf, the ancient city-state of Kolonna on Aigina likely was a rival of the emerging city-state of Mycenae, which sits about 40 miles inland to the west, during the period between 1400 and 1200 B.C. when Korphos-Kalamianos was built.

“We have identified some fortification walls with gates on the inland side of Korphos-Kalamianos, which does suggest that the town had at least some role as a fortress, possibly to protect the harbor,” Pullen said.

Pullen and Tartaron’s 2007 work involved conducting a systematic study of the architectural remains at Korphos-Kalamianos and producing an accurate map of their location using Global Positioning System and other high-tech instruments. This summer, they plan to return to the site with more students (five FSU graduate students and two alumni will make the trip) to conduct underwater research along the shoreline.

“We don’t know exactly why, but some portion of the settlement is now submerged in the Saronic Gulf,” Pullen said. “We can say that in the Bronze Age the configuration of the coastline at Kalamianos was very different from that of today. So this summer, we plan to collaborate with Greece’s department of underwater antiquities on a bathymetric survey of the shallow waters around the Korphos region that should clarify aspects of the Bronze Age coastline.” (Bathymetry is the measurement of the depths of oceans, seas or other large bodies of water.)

Pullen and Tartaron have named their three-year undertaking the Saronic Harbors Archaeological Research Project, or SHARP, and shared their initial findings at a meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America in Chicago in January. SHARP has received financial support from several groups, including the Institute for Aegean Prehistory, the Loeb Classical Library Foundation, the Stavros S. Niarchos Foundation, FSU and the University of Pennsylvania.

The project website ...
6.00 p.m. |HINT| History's Mysteries: Hidden Tomb of Antiochus
According to ancient Greek inscriptions, the tomb of King Antiochus I, ruler of Commagene, lies buried atop the 7,000-foot high Mt. Nemrud. In the 19th century, German excavators claimed the burial grounds were of Greek and Persian ancestry. But in the 1950s, American archaeologist Theresa Goell began to unravel the secrets of the funeral sanctuary. Today, both archaeologists and tourists are amazed and puzzled by the colossal burial place. But the human remains and tomb's riches are still hidden.

HINT = History International
Various versions of this one filling my box ... from AP via Yahoo:

Greek workers discovered around 1,000 graves, some filled with ancient treasures, while excavating for a subway system in the historic city of Thessaloniki, the state archaeological authority said Monday.

Some of the graves, which dated from the first century B.C. to the 5th century A.D., contained jewelry, coins and various pieces of art, the Greek archaeological service said in a statement.

Thessaloniki was founded around 315 B.C. and flourished during the Roman and Byzantine eras. Today it is the Mediterranean country's second largest city.

Most of the graves — 886 — were just east of the city center in what was the eastern cemetery during Roman and Byzantine times. Those graves ranged from traces of wooden coffins left in simple holes in the ground, to marble enclosures in five-room family mausoleums.

A separate group of 94 graves were found near the city's train station, in what was once part of the city's western cemetery.

More findings were expected as digging for the Thessaloniki metro continues. Digging started in 2006 and the first 13 stations are expected to be done by the end of 2012. A 10-station extension to the west and east has been announced.
From the Telegraph:

AN "EXCEPTIONAL" ancient Roman site has been discovered in woodland near Peterborough.
Despite numerous digs and excavations across the region over the past two centuries, the huge site, hidden deep in woods at Bedford Purlieus, had miraculously gone unnoticed.

Early work has only scratched the surface of the Roman remains, but indications have left experts stunned by how well preserved the remains, of what appears to be a building of some importance, are.

Forestry Commission District Operations Manager, Hugh Manall said: "It's unusual for us to find a site of this significance that we didn't realise was there. Generally, sites as good as this are known about."

Experts believe the remains at the site, just off the A47 at Wansford, near Peterborough, probably date back to between the second and fourth centuries AD.

Excavations have been taking place at three areas in the woods thanks to funding from Augean Ltd's landfill tax and Peterborough City Council.
City council archeologist Ben Robinson described the find as "exceptional".

He said: "I've not seen a Roman building as well preserved as this. The work we have done has shown we have got a building of quite some importance, with all the features of a high-status Roman site. This was something big and impressive."

Luxuries included in the building were heating and paintings hung on the wall.

And, because the site has been hidden in a forest, it has remained virtually undisturbed.

Mr Robinson said: "We've only scratched the tip of the iceberg, there's a lot more to be discovered.

"But we have to be mindful that sites like this are rare and we shouldn't destroy them by digging them up. We also have to be careful about the wildlife and rare plants in the forest, but I really hope we will get to do more there.

"The thing about this is people have been carrying out archaeological digs in this area for the best part of 200 years. You would think that with the amount of work that has gone on that everything has been discovered. This shows that's far from the case, we're getting new finds on a weekly basis.

"This area is a very, very exciting place to do archaelogy."

Chance find led to discovery
It was only a chance discovery that led archaeologists to the site. For 44 years forest craftsman Ricky Hannah worked in the woodland without ever
noticing the massive remains.

Until one day in 2005, astonished Ricky suddenly spotted a strange rectangular lump.

He called in experts, who initially thought it was a 2,000 year-old travellers' stop-over complete with bedrooms, baths and steam rooms – so it was nicknamed "Ricky's Motel".

It is only after months of careful excavation that it has finally been confirmed that the find is actually Roman remains.

Speaking at the time of the discovery, Mr Hannah said: "I first noticed a lump and thought, well that looks like a corner. I followed the line and found another, and another, and another.

"Then I looked up and saw the site spreading out all around me up to 80 metres away.

"The managers wanted us be able to spot things that might turn out to be ancient remains. And blow me, after a while you find checking the ground for interesting lumps and bumps becomes addictive."
A bit out of our period, but this piece from Today is still interesting:

"The sea was driven back, and its waters flowed away to such an extent that the deep sea bed was laid bare and many kinds of sea creatures could be seen," wrote Roman historian Ammianus Marcellus, awed at a tsunami that struck the then-thriving port of Alexandria in 365 AD.

"Huge masses of water flowed back when least expected, and now overwhelmed and killed many thousands of people... Some great ships were hurled by the fury of the waves onto the rooftops, and others were thrown up to two miles (three kilometres) from the shore."

Ancient documents show the great waves of July 21, 365 AD claimed lives from Greece, Sicily and Alexandria in Egypt to modern-day Dubrovnik in the Adriatic.

Swamped by sea water, rich Nile delta farmland was abandoned and hilltop towns became ghost-like, inhabited only by hermits.

The tsunami was generated by a massive quake that occurred under the western tip of the Greek island of Crete, experts believe.

Until now, the main thinking has been that this quake -- as in the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 26, 2004 -- occurred in a so-called subduction zone.

A subduction zone is where two of the Earth's plates meet. One plate rides over another plate which is gliding downward at an angle into the planet's mantle.

Subduction zones usually have measurable creep, of say a few centimetres (inches) a year. But as the rock becomes brittle and deformed at greater depths, these zones can also deliver titanic quakes, displacing so much land that, when the slippage occurs on the ocean floor, a killer wave is generated.

The 365 AD quake occurred at a point on the 500-kilometre (300-mile) -long Hellenic subduction zone, which snakes along the Mediterranean floor in a semi-circle from southwestern Turkey to western Greece.

Researchers in Britain have taken a fresh look at this event and have come up with some worrying news.

University of Cambridge professor Beth Shaw carried out a computer simulation of the quake, based especially on fieldwork in Crete where the push forced up land by as much as 10 metres (32.5 feet).

They estimate the quake to have been 8.3-8.5 magnitude and that its land displacement -- of 20 metres (65 feet) on average -- puts it in the same category as the 9.3 temblor that occurred off Sumatra in 2004.

They conclude the slippage occurred along 100 kilometres (about 60 miles) on a previously unidentified fault that lies close to the surface, just above the subduction zone.

The quake happened at a depth of around 45 kilometres (30 miles) -- around 30 kilometres (20 miles) closer to the surface than would have been likely if the slip had occurred on the subduction fault itself.

After the 365 AD quake, the fault is likely to remain quiet for around 5,000 years.

But if the tectonic structure along the rest of the Hellenic subduction zone is similar, a tsunami-generating quake could strike the eastern Mediterranean in roughly 800 years, the scientists estimate.

The last tsunami to hit the eastern Mediterranean occurred on August 8, 1303. According to research published in 2006, a quake off Crete of about 7.8 magnitude hit Alexandria 40 minutes later with a wave nine metres (29.25 feet) high.

"That there has been only one other such event... in the past 1,650 years should focus our attention on the modern-day tsunami hazard in the eastern Mediterranean," the new study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, warns.

"Repetition of such an event would have catastrophic consequences for today's densely-populated Mediterranean coastal regions."

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) is setting up a tsunami alert system for the Mediterranean as part of a global network established after the 2004 Indian Ocean disaster.
A reminder that March 15th is the deadline for the submission of proposals
for the conference Where the Wild Things Are: Inhuman Territories in
Classical Antiquity. This event will take place at the University of
Reading, 4th-5th September 2008.
The theme of the conference is ancient conceptions of monstrous and half-
animal beings and their geographical location.

Contributions will include:

Keynote speaker, Professor Yulia Ustinova (Ben Gurion University of the
Negev) on caves and their wild inhabitants in Greek thought.
Professor Daniel Ogden (University of Exeter) on dragons and water sources
in Greek myth.
Dr. Andreas Michalopoulos (University of Athens) on wild things in
Seneca’s Phaedra.
Dr. Dunstan Lowe (University of Reading) on rustic deities and the
wilderness in Roman epic.
Dr. Emma Aston (University of Reading) on centaurs and tribal displacement
in Greek myth.

Proposals should be sent to Dr. Emma Aston (E.M.M.Aston AT or
Dr. Dunstan Lowe (D.M.Lowe AT The postal address, if
preferred, is:

Dept. of Classics
University of Reading
The Reception of Ancient Greek and Roman Drama Conference

Institute of Classical Studies

11-13 June 2008

WEDNESDAY 11 June 9:45-10:00

Welcome and Introduction

Professor Mike Edwards Director of the Institute of Classical Studies

Dr. Anastasia Bakogianni Conference Organiser

10:00-11:30 The Problem of the Spectators: Ancient and Modern

Professor Lorna Hardwick (Open University)

(Re)Constructing the ancient audience: the implications for reception

Helen Eastman (Oxford)

The Director and the modern audience

Associate Professor Peter Eversmann (University of Amsterdam)

The practical and cognitive aspects of audience response

11:30- 1:00 Reception Theory

Chair: Dr Gesine Manuwald

Dr. Chiara Thumiger (UCL)

Hallucination drunkenness and mirrors: ancient reception of modern drama

Pauline Rochelle (Open University)

Reaching Across the Diasporic Gulf – Shake Hands with the ‘Real’ Agamemnon

Dr. Jane Montgomery Griffiths (Monash University, Australia)

Acting Perspectives: performance experience as a route to reception

Lunch 1:00- 2:00

2:00- 4:00 Rome to modern times

Chair: Professor Lorna Hardwick

Dr. Jean-Michel Hulls (St. Annes’ College, Oxford)

Re-Reading Seneca: The tragic tyrant and his values in Statius’ Thebaid

Dr. Lisa Maurice (Bar Ilan University, Israel)

Contaminatio and Adaptation: Roman Comedy and the Modern Reception of Ancient Drama

Assistant Professor Ariana Traill (University of Illinois at Urbana)

Casina and The Comedy of Errors

Dr. Gesine Manuwald (UCL)

Love and politics on the stage in imperial Rome and in 17th century Europe: the presudo-Senecan praetexta Octavia and the opera Il Nerone (1679)

Coffee Break 4:00- 4:30

4:30- 6:00 Reception in Art

Chair: Dr Ariana Traill

Ioanna Karamanou (Drama, University of the Peloponnese)

The Attack Scene in Euripides’s Alexandros and its Reception in Etruscan Art

Hara Thliveri (UCL)

Surrealism and Tradition in the paintings of Nikos Engonopoulos

Philip Walsh (Comparative Literature, Brown University)

Aubrey Beardsley: Reader and Critic of the Lysistrata

Evening Reception


10:00- 11:00 Greek Drama in Modern Greek Film: Michael Cacoyannis

Chair: Professor Maria Wyke

Professor Charles Chiasson (University of Texas at Arlington)

The Power of the Peasantry in Michael Cacoyannis’ Electra

Dr. Anastasia Bakogianni (ICS)

Cacoyannis’ Iphigenia: the power of the mob

11-1:00 The Reception of Greek Drama in Modern Greece

Chair: Dr Anastasia Bakogianni

Dr. Gonda Van Steen (University of Arizona)

All the King’s Patriots…: Romanticist Persians in Athens of 1889

Dr. Efimia Karakantza (University of Patras)

Electra's menos: Sophocles vs Stein in the 2007 Production of Electra by the National Theater of Greece

Gregory Ioannidis

(Department of Theatre Studies, University of Athens)

Fighting and dying for Ancient Greek Drama: “Scandals” in the history of Ancient Drama performances in Modern Greece

Maria Troupi (Open University, Cyprus)

Bost’s Medea: Exploring aspects of the reception of Euripides and the tragic genre in Modern Greece

Lunch 1:00- 2:00

2:00- 4:00 Performance Reception 1

Chair: Dr. Jane Montgomery Griffiths

Professor Barbara Goff (University of Reading)

The Deaths of Astyanax

Catherine Jackson (Open University)

The R.S.C. and Greek Drama: Deborah Warner’s Electra and Katie Mitchell’s Phoenician Women

Dr. Athena Coronis (Theatre Studies, University of Patras)

Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice: A Dramatic Study of the Orpheus Myth in Reverse

Marcel Lysgaard Lech (University of Copenhagen)

No Sex in the City – a look at the reception of Lysistrata on the modern Danish scene

Coffee Break 4:00- 4:30

4:30- 6:00 Performance Reception 2

Chair: Professor Charles Chiasson

Elke Steinmeyer (University of KwaZulu-Natal)

Greek Drama in Africa

Professor Yoshiko Nishimure (Wakayama Medical University, Japan)

The Reception of Greek Tragedy in Modern Japan

Dr. Hans Peter Obermayer (Munich City College)

“Absolute Alcestis” Robert Wilson stages Euripides and Heiner Müller 1987 in Stuttgart

Laura Monros-Gaspar (Universitat de València)

Performances of Greek and Roman Drama at the Roman Theatre of Sagunto (1982-2008)

FRIDAY: 13 June

10:00-11:00 Byzantium to modern times

Chair: Dr. Gonda Van Steen

Dr. Antony Makrinos (UCL)

Tragedy in Byzantium: Eustathius and Sophocles Ο Φιλόμηρος

Dr. Marigo Alexopoulou (Hellenic Open University)

The reception of Euripides’ Bacchae: from Byzantium to the present

11:00-1:00 The Reception of Medea

Chair: Dr. Chiara Thumiger

Sue Day (Open University)

Witch Medea? Visual representations of a mythical woman

Dr. Georgi Gochev (New Bulgarian University, Sofia)

Tutto e santo: Mythical and realistic features in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Medea

Dr. Maria Cecília de Miranda Nogueira Coelho

(The Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo)

Medea in Brazil: Agostinho Olavo´s Além do Rio, and Chico Buarque and Paulo Pontes´ Gota d`água

Tatjana Manojlovich (Theatre Studies, University of Lisbon)

Medea's Love: Helia Correia's Desmesura. Exercícios com Medeia

Lunch 1:00-2:00

2:00- 3:30 French Receptions

Chair: Dr. Zachary Dunbar

Paul Monaghan (Theatre Studies, University of Melbourne)

Peladan’s symbolist Prometheide and the transformation of the world in fin de siècle Paris

Dr. Betine van Zyl Smit (University of Nottingham)

The Reception of Andromache in Latin and French literature

Dr. Susanna Phillippo (University of Newcastle)

Accidental creativity

Coffee Break 3:30-4:00

4:00-5:30 Audio-Musical Reception

Chair: Dr. Betine van Zyl Smit

Amanda Wrigley (APGRD, Oxford)

Greek Drama on Radio

Angeliki Zachou (Theatre Studies, University of Athens)

Music and the tragic feeling in Modern Greek performances of Ancient Greek Drama

Dr. Zachary Dunbar, Director/Writer and Concert Pianist (London)

Did the earth move for you? The cathartic event in tragedy and music

This paper will be illustrated by a piano performance

Screening of Michael Cacoyannis’ The Trojan Women

With regards to costs they are as follows:

Full rate: £90.00

Speakers/students: £ 60.00

Day rate for speakers/students: £25.00

Day rate: £35.00
6.00 p.m. |HINT| History's Mysteries: Lost City of Atlantis
The ancient Greek philosopher Plato wrote about the fabled missing continent. Even South American Indian legend told of a similar tale. Did a highly civilized and technologically advanced people disappear with their secrets at the bottom of the sea, or is Atlantis merely myth?

8.00 p.m. |DCIVC| Mysterious Death Of Cleopatra
The daughter of an incestuous marriage, Cleopatra married and murdered her brothers, inheriting the throne of Egypt at age 17; her life was filled with the unexplained; experts re-examine the circumstances of Cleopatra's untimely death.

HINT = History International
DCIVC= Discovery Civilization (Canada)
From AGI comes a piece where Francesco Rutelli continues to promote the 'Lupercal' claim:

"La cosa che depone a favore del fatto che sia davvero il Lupercale e' che, essendo il ninfeo una struttura circolare di cui tre quarti sono scavati nella roccia, fa pensare che si tratti effettivamente di una grotta".
Cosi' Francesco Rutelli, a margine dell'inaugurazione della casa di Augusto, ha espresso la sua opinione sulla veridicita' o meno sul fatto che quello ritrovato, il Lupercale, sia realmente il luogo nel quale la lupa allatto' Romolo e Remo.
Rispondendo in inglese alla domanda di una giornalista straniera, Rutelli ha detto che a Roma "tradizione, storia e fede vanno a braccetto" riferendosi al fatto che definire in termini scientifici i reperti archeologici come il Lupercale e' un'operazione complessa dal momento che mette insieme componenti diverse tra loro. Rutelli e' poi tornato a parlare del Museo della storia antica di Roma che dovrebbe sorgere presso l'ufficio elettorale di via dei Cerchi. Su questo ha dichiarato: "Noi dobbiamo avere un grande luogo di spiegazione al pubblico della citta', perche' esiste un problema di divulgazione di massa". Rutelli immagina il Museo della storia antica come luogo di incontro tra reperti archeologici e divulgazione attraverso le nuove tecnologie cosi' da compiere 'una visita virtuale della Roma antica'. Sui tempi e costi dell'opera Rutelli ha chiuso con una battuta: "Bisogna chiederlo al prossimo sindaco".

I still don't buy it ... if folks are still bugged by this like I am, check out the Italian Culture Ministry's page ... there are maps and plans there (as well as dossiers of all the press coverage, in case you've missed it). Looking at the maps (again) I am beginning to be more in agreement with Adriano La Regina, who was one of the early skeptics of the claim:

But Adriano La Regina, Rome's superintendent of archaeology from 1976 to 2004, said ancient descriptions of the place suggest the Lupercale is elsewhere -- 50 to 70 meters northwest of the cave discovered near Emperor Augustus' palace. "I am positive this is not the Lupercale," La Regina told Reuters in an interview.

Instead, he believes the cave -- which ministry pictures show is decorated with well-preserved seashells and colored mosaics -- was a room in Nero's first palace on the Palatine Hill, which burnt down in 64 AD in the great fire of Rome.

The Culture Ministry had no immediate comment on the statements from La Regina, who pointed to a description of the Lupercale given by Greek historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus in his major work on early Roman history, "Roman Antiquities."

Dionysius said the Lupercale, which draws its name from the Latin word for wolf, was close to the Temple of Victory, also on the Palatine Hill, while the cave unveiled this week was found near the Temple of Apollo.

Here's what Dionysius says (1.32, via Lacus Curtius):

As for the Arcadians, when they had joined in a single settlement at the foot of the hill, they proceeded to adorn their town with all the buildings to which they had been accustomed at home and to erect temples. And first they built a temple to the Lycaean Pan by the direction of Themis (for to the Arcadians Pan is the most ancient and the most honoured of all the gods), when they had found a suitable site for the purpose. This place the Romans call the Lupercal, but we should call it Lykaion or "Lycaeum." Now, it is true, since the district about the sacred precinct has been united with the city, it has become difficult to make out by conjecture the ancient nature of the place. Nevertheless, at first, we are told, there was a large cave under the hill overarched by a dense wood; deep springs issued from beneath the rocks, and the glen adjoining the cliffs was shaded by thick and lofty trees. In this place they raised an altar to the god and performed their traditional sacrifice, which the Romans have continued to offer up to this day in the month of February, after the winter solstice, without altering anything in the rites then performed. The manner of this sacrifice will be related later. Upon the summit of the hill they set apart the precinct of Victory and instituted sacrifices to her also, lasting throughout the year, which the Romans performed even in my time.

The Temple of Apollo is practically right on top of the thing they're calling the Lupercal. Even given Dionysius' shortcomings in many areas, it is really difficult to believe that he would neglect to mention the proximity of the Lupercal to the Temple of Apollo, as opposed to the (still uncertain) location of the Temple of Victory. And just in case folks are wondering, the Temple of Apollo was dedicated in 28 B.C.; Dionysius lived ca 60 B.C. to sometime after 7 B.C..
From the Crimson:

The friends and family of longtime Classics professor Zeph Stewart gathered Friday to pay their respects to the former Lowell House Master, filling Memorial Church with Harvard alumni, Classics Department affiliates, and Lowell notables.

Stewart, who passed away on December 1 at the age of 86, was praised for his 12 years of service as a house master, his five-year term as chair of the Classics Department, and his central role in reviving Harvard University Press’s Classical Library, which publishes English translations of Greek and Latin texts.

But Stewart’s record of humility and caring for those who ranked lower than him—what his daughter, Sarah B. Stewart, called “a deep love, respect, and interest in other creatures”—was most noted.

Classics professor Richard F. Thomas recalled meeting Stewart at a New York job interview in 1976, three weeks before the death of his own father, who was the same age as Stewart.

“If I seem to make an analogy, that is what I am doing, even if Zeph would have been embarrassed to hear it,” Thomas said, referring to the man who “taught that teaching intermediate Latin was as important as teaching a graduate seminar” and would often visit Latin classes at area schools.

Current Lowell House Master and religion scholar Diana L. Eck recalled a bolder side of Stewart that led him to become a key supporter in the “daring move” towards adopting religion as an undergraduate concentration in 1974. This “radical spirit,” Eck said, was further displayed as Stewart took a leading role in urging the relaxation of the parietal rules that used to restrict private meetings between male and female students.

According to his children, Stewart, who in 1957 wrote a letter to The Crimson celebrating the “gentlemanly conduct” and “integrity” of a member of the janitorial staff, had a habit of seeing the heroic side of people who lived their lives far from public view. Stewart, his daughter said, once sent his three children a reminder of some of the great role models they had known: “a cook, a housekeeper, and a cowboy we knew well somewhere in Wyoming.”

Friday’s speakers left no doubt about his place in the history of the University that he first encountered as a graduate student in 1947.

“When we think of the great and the shining lights of this University and turn to the dead, the name that leads all others is that of our friend, Zeph Stewart,” said Rev. Peter J. Gomes.

Despite the gravity of the occasion, the service did not lack humor in honor of Stewart who on one occasion brought down a pet boa constrictor to remove loiterers from the dining hall, according to Sarah Stewart.

“For want of a better word, [Zeph] also had his impish side,” Thomas said at one point, before recalling Stewart’s wry enjoyment of the struggles and awkwardness that occurred when Thomas found himself teaching his own wife—then a graduate student—in an advanced Latin course.

Ralph J. Hexter ’74, the president of Hampshire College, who is, by his own account, one of the first few openly gay college presidents in the country, said after the memorial ceremony that the support he received as a Lowell House resident from Stewart and his wife put him “in good stead” for his later achievements.

Gomes had his own thoughts to offer on what his friend might have felt about the proceedings.

“I think he would have been mildly intrigued at the encomia his colleagues were presenting,” Gomes said. “He was shrewd, as I said—he knew how to separate the wheat form the chaff.”
8.00 p.m. |DISCC|Mythbusters: Archimedes Death Ray
Adam and Jamie accept the challenge from letter-writing fans to retest the "Archimedes death ray."; in turn, fans and an MIT team are invited to perform this challenge.

9.00 p.m. |HISTC| ROME | Utica
With Scipio and Cato defeated, Caesar returns home to a hero’s welcome. Vorenus and Pullo’s showdown with local thug Erastes gets an unexpected reprieve from Caesar. Servilia’s plan to use Octavia to unearth a secret about Caesar backfires.

DISCC = Discovery Channel (Canada)
HISTC = History Television (Canada)
The incipit of a piece in the Washington Post:

He's written fishing books that have been published all over the world and articles in some of the sport's leading magazines. His photography is as legendary as his graceful fly-cast. And on top of it all, he was a professor of Classical Studies at Villanova University for 41 years.

On March 29, you can catch Ed Jaworowski at the 33rd annual National Capital Angling Show, where he is scheduled to be the featured speaker and instructor.

Anyone know if EJ wrote anything about ancient fishing?
The incipit of a piece at News Antique:

On June 4, Christie’s New York is pleased to offer an exquisite Roman statue of the goddess Tyche (estimate on request). Standing 31 ½ inches high, and executed in the rarest of materials: porphyry. The statue was formerly in the private collection of Dr. Elie Borowski, collector and connoisseur of ancient art, who acquired it in 1967. It was on loan to the sculpture museum Liebighaus in Frankfurt, Germany from 1980-1986, and later exhibited at the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto from 1986-1991.

“This is the most spectacular and beautiful sculpture that I have ever had the pleasure to work with,” says G. Max Bernheimer, International Head of the Antiquities department. “The fact that it’s still in impeccable condition, makes it all the more exceptional.”

While we apparently are supposed to be impressed by the appearance of a well-documented provenance of this one (such as it is), we should note David Gill's observations. I also find this tantalizing excerpt of a review (in Archaeology Magazine) of Network (a book I wasn't aware of, but will now have to track down):

Network raises many disturbing questions that go unanswered. For example, we are told that in 1968 an arrest warrant was issued for Elie Borowski alleging that he had received large numbers of illicitly dug up antiquities. Then we learn that the document had been "destroyed." When? By whom? Surely it wasn't the only copy. Were there transcriptions of related proceedings or depositions?

John R. Patterson, Landscapes and Cities: Rural Settlement and Civic Transformation in Early Imperial Italy.

Brian Daley, Gregory of Nazianzus. Series: The Early Church Fathers.

Vivienne J. Gray, Xenophon On Government.

Aniello Salzano, Agli inizi della poesia cristiana latina; autori anonimi dei secc. IV-V.

Caroline Winterer, The Mirror of Antiquity. American Women and the Classical Tradition, 1750-1900.

Clemens Koehn, Krieg - Diplomatie - Ideologie. Zur Aussenpolitik hellenistischer Mittelstaaten, Historia Einzelschriften, 195.

A. Chaniotis, T. Corsten, R.S. Stroud, R.A. Tybout, Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum, Volume 52 (2002).

Joan Booth, Robert Maltby, What's in a Name? The Significance of Proper Names in Classical Latin Literature.

Christopher Shields, Aristotle.

John Gruber-Miller, When Dead Tongues Speak. Teaching Beginning Greek and Latin. American Philological Association Classical Resources Series 6.

Scott Noegel, Nocturnal Ciphers: The Allusive Language of Dreams in the Ancient Near East, American Oriental Series, 89.

Gesine Manuwald (ed.), Cicero, Philippics 3-9. Volume 1. Introduction, Text and Translation. Volume 2. Commentary. Texte und Kommentare, 30.

From RBL:

John J. Collins and Craig A. Evans, eds., Christian Beginnings and the Dead Sea Scrolls

From Scholia:

Daniel Ogden (ed.), A Companion to Greek Religion. Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World.

From the Washington Post:

Alberto Manguel, Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey: A Biography

From the Times of London:

Medea, by Euripides, translated by Robin Robertson

From Monsters and Critics

If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho Translated by Anne Carson

With all the busts going on, I wondered if anyone was bothering to try to find the illegal excavation sites ... from Quotidiano:

Seguono tre tombaroli e scoprono una importante area archeologica. E' successo ad Agira (Enna) dove i carabinieri della compagnia e del nucleo tutela patrimonio culturale di Palermo hanno posto sotto sequestro un cantiere che insisteva su un'area di interesse archeologico, denunciando 3 persone per scavi clandestini e trafugamento di materiale archeologico.

A destare i forti sospetti dei militari sono stati gli orari insoliti in cui tre operai espletavano lavori di scavo. I carabinieri, infatti, procedendo ad un controllo, hanno appurato che il terzetto, servendosi di speciali attrezzature, tra cui un escavatore, avevano realizzato delle grosse buche al fine di trafugare materiale archeologico.

I carabinieri con l'ausilio di personale della soprintendenza militari hanno successivamente scoperto la presenza di una fornace medievale e di una necropoli, quest'ultima risalente all'età ellenistica.

Nel corso dell'operazione i militari dell'Arma hanno sequestrato un escavatore meccanico, attrezzi vari per scavi clandestini, un unguentario acromo, pezzi di anfore acrome, frammenti ceramici riconducibili a vasellame e resti di ossa umane.

L'area interessata, di particolare interesse scientifico, estesa mq. 150 circa, è stata sottoposta a sequestro giudiziario.
From the University of Toronto News:

Classics professor Regina Höschele is providing a new perspective on our literary past.

By analysing epigrams as books, rather than individually, her research has exposed previously unseen connections between epigrams and has demonstrated that when analysed collectively, they are more valuable than originally thought.

According to Höschele, epigrams are “very little poems” that first appeared in the eighth century BC, inscribed on tombstones or votive offerings. In fact, “some of the earliest texts in all of western literature are epigrams,” Höschele explained. Over time, these inscriptions evolved to become more elaborate and by the Hellenistic age in the third century BC, poets were writing epigrams for books. Authors began playing with the conventions of epigraphical poetry and some poems even started to develop erotic shadings only seen previously in the form of song.

Höschele said epigrams have been catalogued and preserved by academics for hundreds of years and were extremely popular in the Renaissance but for a long time they weren’t taken seriously because they paled in comparison to the works of “true classics,” such as Homer. However, in recent years, the classics community began to recognize that there was more to these poems than previously thought.

Höschele is part of a new generation of researchers who believe that epigrams were artfully arranged in books by their authors, adding to their significance; a single epigram read alone may seem unremarkable, but a collection of epigrams presented as a group brings new dimension to their content.

It is also important, Höschele said, to understand that “the authors arrange the poems in a way that presupposes [the] linear reading” of a papyrus scroll, which, unlike modern books, reveals its text in a very specific order as it is gradually unrolled. Höschele explained that a linear reading not only shows “how the poet plays with us” but it also demands a certain level of reader intelligence and becomes “an intellectual game.”

Her latest research, some of which was published in the 2007 winter issue of Transactions of the American Philological Association, focuses mainly on largely unknown post-Hellenistic authors who helped to stretch the boundaries of the epigram tradition; she is the first to extensively study the first century AD poet Rufinus.

But not all academics agree with Höschele’s interpretations. There is no proof that epigrams were arranged by their authors to produce subtle subtexts and the books in which these poems originally appeared have all been lost. Yet Höschele feels that “some epigram sequences are just so sophisticated that I cannot imagine that it’s coincidence.”

Despite her skeptics,Höschele said that she will continue to work to uncover the nuances of these poems that were not only “a major part of intellectual life for many centuries” but also belonged to one of antiquity’s most popular genres.
The Boston Globe suggests:

But daylight saving apparently dates to the ancient Romans, who are said to have taken advantage of the summertime sun by extending the actual length of daylight hours.

As is often the case when modern journalist types try to find an ancient 'connection' to something modern, this doesn't strike me as quite right. In this case, we have an example where 'the ancients were just like us' approach doesn't quite work. We're operating on an assumption that an hour is sixty minutes long. The Romans were operating on a principle that the amount of daylight was divided into twelve hours ... i.e., they didn't "extend" anything, but had a more fluid definition of what an hour was ... here's a nice page on Roman Timekeeping (based on Carcopino) ...
Various versions of this one ... from MSNBC:

A sixth-century copper factory, medieval kitchens still stocked with pots and pans and remains of Renaissance palaces are among the finds unveiled Friday by archaeologists digging up Rome in preparation for a new subway line.

Archaeologists have been probing the depths of the Eternal City at 38 digs often set up near famous monuments or on key thoroughfares.

Over the last nine months, remains — including Roman taverns and 16th-century palace foundations — have turned up at the central Piazza Venezia and near the ancient Forum where works are paving the way for one of the 30 stations of Rome's third subway line.
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"The medieval and Renaissance finds that were brought to light in Piazza Venezia are extremely important for their rarity," said archaeologist Mirella Serlorenzi, who is working on the site.

Serlorenzi said that among the most significant discoveries in a ninth-century kitchen were three pots that were used to heat sauce. Only two others had been found previously in Italy.

The archaeological probes are needed only for stairwells and air ducts, as the 15 miles of stations and tunnels will be dug at a depth of 80 to 100 feet — below the level of any past human habitation, experts said.

However, most of the digs still have to reach the earth strata that date back to Roman times, where plenty of surprises may be lying in wait. That may spark problems between planners and conservationists, officials said.

"It is impossible that there will not be situations of conflict. We know that in some cases the conflict will create a removal of ancient ruins," Rome's archaeological superintendent Angelo Bottini told The Associated Press.

Under Italy's strict conservation laws, it will be up to Bottini's office for Rome to decide whether a find will be removed, destroyed or encased within the subway's structures.

Countless public and private works have been scrapped over the years in Rome and across Italy, and it is not uncommon for developers to fail to report a find and plow through ancient treasures.

Rome's 2.8 million inhabitants can rely on just two subway lines, which only skirt the center and leave it clogged with traffic and tourists.

Plans for a third line that would service the history-rich heart of Rome have been put off for decades amid funding shortages and fears the work would grind to a halt amid a wealth of discoveries.

The $4.6 billion project is due for completion in 2015, but parts of the line are scheduled to open in 2011, sporting high-tech automatic trains transporting 24,000 passengers an hour.
From ANSA:

Four frescoed rooms in Augustus's House on Rome's Palatine Hill are to open to the public for the first time this weekend.

Experts believe the rooms, found in the 1970s below the ruins of Augustus's sprawling imperial palace, were part of a smaller house where he lived when he was still just Julius Caesar's adoptive son Octavian and not Rome's first emperor.

The four surviving rooms from the two-storey house are a dining room, a bedroom and a large entrance hall on the ground floor, and a small study on the floor above.

The windowless rooms received light from the entrance, which once looked out onto extensive gardens but is now blocked off by a wall dating to the reign of Nero (37-68 AD).

Fragments of the rooms' frescoes found by archaeologists on the floor have been painstakingly pieced back together during a 1.5-mln-euro restoration of the house.

Experts say the frescoes are among the most splendid surviving examples of Roman wall painting, on a par with those currently housed in the National Museum of Rome at Palazzo Massimo and those found in the house of Augustus's wife Livia.

Guided tours of the house will be covered by a new single ticket offering access to the Roman Forums, the Colosseum and the Palatine.

But only five people at a time will be allowed in to see the rooms due to their small dimensions and the fragility of the frescoes.

Augustus's House has been revealing new finds for years, although most of the digs are off-limits to visitors.

In November last year archaeologists said they had found a grotto deep beneath the palace which they argue may have been the shrine where Ancient Romans worshipped Romulus, the founder of the city.

Next year archaeologists hope to open to the public Augustus's resting place - a once majestic mausoleum in white travertine marble that is now an overgrown ruin in one of Rome's Fascist-era piazzas.

Augustus, the first emperor of Rome and the architect of the famed 'pax romana' ('Roman peace'), began building the mausoleum in 28BC after seeing the mausoleum of Alexander the Great in Egypt.

He was entombed in his creation in AD 14, and after him many other emperors and their loved ones were buried in niches of the building. A 20-mln-euro project is under way to restore the ruin and to redesign the square in which it stands.

From ANSA:

Sorry-looking barbarians in chains and the glorious generals who brought them to their knees are the stars of a new exhibition celebrating Roman triumphs that has opened here in Rome.

Awarded to military leaders in ancient Rome who had won a particularly impressive victory against a foreign enemy, a triumph was a lavish public parade that saw the winning general and his army marching through the city with white sacrificial bulls, showing off the treasures they had snatched as well as humiliated leaders and their families.

Around 100 works including bas-reliefs, sculpted marble slabs, statues, bronzes and coins are on loan from the largest Italian and international archaeological museums for the show at the Colosseum, tracing triumphs from the time of the Etruscans up until the reign of the Emperor Constantine (272-337 AD).

''This is the first time an exhibition has focused on conveying the significance of a Roman triumph in the ideology of the western world,'' said Rome Cultural Heritage Superintendent and curator Eugenio La Rocca ''Similar symbolism and rituals can be found from Byzantine iconography right through the Renaissance era up to the parades of the Third Reich or those of Labour Day and military displays,'' he added.

The first section of the Rome show is dedicated to the triumphs themselves, with marble scenes portraying prisoners in chains, reproductions of conquered cities and above all images of the enormous piles of booty accumulated during the course of successful campaigns.

The second section focuses on the conquering heroes, from busts of generals such as Caesar, Pompey and Octavian to marble reliefs recording bloody battle scenes. On display here are other objects loaded with symbolic meaning, including armour and helmets richly decorated with battle scenes and portraits of victorious generals.

The exhibition closes with a selection of images showing populations defeated by the might of the Roman army including Greeks, barbarian chiefs, Dacians and Jews, trussed up and with their heads bowed low in front of their captors.

Among the highlights is a statue of a wild-bearded barbarian prisoner with his hands tied behind his back found in Alexandria, Egypt, and dating to the reign of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD); and a tiny gold coin minted under the Emperor Vespasian (9-79 AD) depicting a defeated barbarian leader on his knees offering up his army's standard. Organisers pointed out that the Colosseum was an ideal venue for the show because it is so close to triumphal arches built to celebrate imperial victories that are still standing today among the ruins of the Roman Forum.

Nearby is the arch of Constantine - the largest triumphal arch known - as well as those of Titus (39-81 AD), celebrating the future emperor's destruction of the city of Jerusalem in 70 AD, and of Septimius Severus (146-211 AD), with its reliefs showing winged victories ready to crown the emperor after he defeated the Parthians twice.

Roman Triumphs runs at the Colosseum in Rome until September 14.
From One India:

History is the flavour of the season and after the much-hyped Jodhaa Akbar, one more historical from Bollywood - on Alexander the Great - is ready to hit the halls soon. Vikram Kumar and Tripta Chopra will play the leads. The movie is ready for an April 18 release. Made at a budget of Rs 100 million, the film will be released in Hindi, English, Tamil and Telugu. The Tamil version will hit on the same day when the Hindi version hit the halls.

Directed by Ravi K Patwa, the film is titled Royal Utsav and its makers claim that its grandeur is comparable to Jodhaa Akbar. To make the film interesting, the director has taken a little bit of liberty and put in Alexander the Great's reincarnation in India!

Set in 400 BC, it revolves around Alexander the Great, who after conquering many countries set his sights on India, but his army refused to move further. Somehow he managed to breach the boundaries of Punjab, but from there he was forced to return. On his way home he died. In this film, Patwa shows that Alexander is reborn and returns to India to marry Rani Rupmati.
From the BBC:

A major oil painting of an 18th Century female scholar has been rediscovered by London's National Portrait Gallery.

The portrait of Elizabeth Carter, painted between 1735 and 1741 by John Fayram, was found by curators in a private collection.

Carter was part of the Bluestocking group of intellectuals who promoted the advancement of women.

The painting, which will go on display from 13 March, depicts Carter as Minerva, goddess of wisdom and warfare.

It will be part of the National Portrait Gallery's exhibition, Brilliant Women: 18th Century Bluestockings, which will run until 15 June.

"This portrait was part of a campaign to present Carter as an intellectual prodigy, a female celebrity and a virtuous role model for women who might wish to pursue an education," said the exhibition's co-curator, Dr Lucy Peltz.


The gallery's curators knew of the portrait's existence from a poem published in 1741 and a photograph sent to the gallery in the 1940s.

But the painting, part of a private collection, has never been on public display and was unearthed while curators researched the exhibition.

Carter was well known to her contemporaries for her successful translation of the ancient Greek philosopher Epictetus.

Writer Samuel Johnson once said that his "old friend, Mrs Carter could make a pudding as well as translate Epictetus... and work a handkerchief as well as compose a poem".

Here's the portrait (again, from the BBC):

... all female classicists should get this done at least once ...
We first heard of this a few months ago ... now we get some details from ABC:

Rome's archaeological officials said they are ending a decade-long policy of free visits to the Roman Forum and will start charging entry to the city's ancient power center on March 10.

Access to the Forum will be included in a single $16 ticket that visitors already pay to enter the nearby Colosseum and the Palatine Hill. Officials say the proceeds will go to increased security and restoration works at the Forum and other sites in Rome.

Nestled in a valley between the Colosseum and the imperial residences on the Palatine, the Forum has the remains of several key buildings from Roman times, including the Senate, the basilica built by the Emperor Maxentius, as well as temples and other monuments.

The new ticket policy comes as resources are stretched thin for Rome's archaeological office, which is working to open long-closed sites and new exhibitions even as its budget is weighed down by fresh discoveries, new digs and conservation projects.

Also on March 10, Emperor Augustus' frescoed palace atop the Palatine will reopen to the public after decades of restoration works. Visitors will walk through decorative marvels in Augustus' studio and in the hall where he received guests, and rooms in the nearby palace built for his wife Livia.

I'll reiterate my hope that they use at least some of the money gained to label the monuments themselves ... it shouldn't take me an hour (not quite ... I'm exaggerating) to locate the lapis niger ...
From Punto Informatico:

Telefono Antiebay, osservatorio di Telefono Antiplagio sulle compravendite online, ha annunciato di aver inviato una segnalazione al Ministro per le Attività ed i Beni Culturali, Francesco Rutelli sulla vendita all'incanto di reperti archeologici su eBay.

reperto all'astaSono tre, in particolare, i link individuati dall'associazione che presenterebbero aste non in regola con la legge. "La normativa italiana - si legge in una nota - prevede che se non si è in grado di dimostrare la legittima provenienza dei reperti (non basta la ricevuta fiscale del venditore, né quella della vincita all'asta) è obbligatorio comunicare al Ministero per le Attività ed i Beni Culturali o alla Sovrintendenza di appartenenza l'avvenuto acquisto, presentando l'oggetto da far visionare ad un archeologo, con due fotografie, insieme alle ricevute della compravendita. Dopo di che sarà rilasciata autorizzazione scritta a possedere il bene. Se non si segue questa procedura, chiunque puo' essere denunciato per ricettazione ed omissione di comunicazione all'autorità competente".

Gli oggetti nel mirino dell'associazione si trovano qui, qui e qui. Si tratta cioè di oggetti che i venditori descrivono come "pezzi della Valle dei Templi di Agrigento - Tempio di Ercole", "testa in marmo bianco dell'imperatore Settimio Severo del II o III secolo d.C., con tanto di iscrizione" (base d'asta: 9.000 dollari); "svariati lotti di monete romane".
Secondo Telefono Antiplagio il Ministro dovrebbe informare i Carabinieri della Tutela del patrimonio culturale affinché siano predisposte opportune indagini atte anche all'eventuale rientro in Italia di reperti che dovessero essere stati sottratti illegalmente.

... I wonder if they care about the proliferation of fakes being offered on eBay as well ...
From Kathimerini:

Exciting new finds at the archaeological site of Pella have opened a new chapter in Macedonian history. Beneath the ruins of the ancient capital of the Macedonian kingdom is a large prehistoric burial ground that has yielded the first evidence of organized life in Pella during the third millennium BC.

It was while they were engaged in conservation, repairs and other work to highlight the site that the excavation team from Aristotle University came across more than 100 Early Bronze Age burials in large jars, accompanied by marble works of art from the Cyclades, local ceramics and metalware.

The finds are so recent that experts at the Demokritos Center have not yet completed the analysis of bones that will yield precise dates. However, the initial evidence supplements what is already known about Pella in the Early Bronze Age (2100-2000 BC), when it was the most important city in Bottiaea, long before it was made capital of the Macedonian realm. What became known as “the greatest of Macedonian cities” was apparently built on top of the prehistoric graveyard when Archelaus moved his capital there from Aiges, excavation director Professor Ioannis Akamatis told Kathimerini.
Grave goods from among the artifacts found at the prehistoric burial ground.

It was on this site that one of the most important urban centers developed. It had what was at the time an innovative, Manhattan-style, rectangular town plan, with an extensive network of water and sewerage pipes, which helped make Macedonia’s largest city one of the most important political and cultural centers of the Hellenistic Era (4th to 1st centuries BC).

The precise boundaries of the prehistoric cemetery cannot be determined because a large part of it lies beneath the urban center of the ancient city, but the graves that have been located so far beneath the city roads provide enough information to form a picture of prehistoric Pella.

In accordance with burial customs in Pella’s prehistoric community, the dead were placed in jars, simple trenches or in stone structures. The bodies placed in jars were buried with their limbs folded and the head either close to the mouth or the bottom of the jar.

Many of the jars are between 150 and 160 centimeters tall. One of them will be exhibited in a new museum in Pella as it was found, with the remains of the body and the grave goods.

The position of the body depended on gender: Men were placed facing the right, women to the left. The arms were crossed over the chest and the hands drawn up to the face below the jaw. Some graves contained infants and children up to the age of 3, while several belong to individuals aged 14-16.

The bodies in the jars represent about 30 percent of the burials. “The Macedonian plain was fertile in antiquity too. They stored goods (agricultural products, wood and metal) in storage jars, and that practice also influenced burial customs,” said Akamatis.

The dead were accompanied by objects, many of which had long been in everyday use before they ended up in the grave. Most tombs contained at least one vessel. Some of the dead were buried with valuable jewelry such as silver rings, gold earrings, bracelets and necklaces, bronze clasps, needles and daggers. “The prosperity of Pella’s prehistoric community is apparent from the metal goods and jewelry,” commented Akamatis.

All the clay finds were vessels made by hand using techniques employed in the Early Bronze Age in Macedonia (3100-2200 BC). Expertly worked marble flasks bear traces of red paint (associated with perceptions of death and life after death), indicating that they were used in burial ceremonies.

Akamatis said that the marble vessel of Pella, which is very rare for Central Macedonia, is related to a Late Neolithic Age (4500-3100 BC) example from Alepotrypa Dirou in the Mani, while a series of small Cycladic flasks date from the Early Cycladic I period.

“The flasks, made with marble probably from Paros, found their way to the coast of prehistoric Pella by sea from the Cyclades to the Gulf of Loudia. It is one of the earliest known examples of trade and economic ties between the Cyclades and Macedonia and the broader region.”

The settlement to which the burial ground belongs must have been fairly close by, Akamatis believes.

The Bronze Age settlement may have been maintained into historical times, since a few distinctive Early Iron Age objects have been discovered at Pella.
Various versions of this one filling my box ... from AP via Yahoo:

Road construction on the western Greek island of Lefkada has uncovered and partially destroyed an important tomb with artifacts dating back more than 3,000 years, officials said on Wednesday.

The find is a miniature version of the large, opulent tombs built by the rulers of Greece during the Mycenaean era, which ended around 1100 B.C. Although dozens have been found in the mainland and on Crete, the underground, beehive-shaped monuments are very rare in the western Ionian Sea islands, and previously unknown on Lefkada.

The discovery could fuel debate on a major prehistoric puzzle — where the homeland of Homer's legendary hero Odysseus was located.

"This is a very important find for the area, because until now we had next to no evidence on Mycenaean presence on Lefkada," excavator Maria Stavropoulou-Gatsi told The Associated Press.

Stavropoulou-Gatsi said the tomb was unearthed about a month ago by a bulldozer, during road construction work.

"Unfortunately, the driver caused significant damage," she said.

She said the tomb contained several human skeletons, as well as smashed pottery, two seal stones, beads made of semiprecious stones, copper implements and clay loom weights. It appeared to have been plundered during antiquity.

With a nine-foot diameter, the tomb is very small compared to others, such as the Tomb of Atreus in Mycenae, which was more than 46 feet across and built of stones weighing up to 120 tons.

But it could revive scholarly debate on the location of Odysseus' Ithaca mentioned in Homer's poems — which are believed to be loosely based on Mycenaean-era events. While the nearby island of Ithaki is generally identified as the hero's kingdom, other theories have proposed Lefkada or neighboring Kefallonia.

Stavropoulou-Gatsi said the discovery might cause excitement on Lefkada but it was too soon for any speculation on Odysseus.

"I think it is much too early to engage in such discussion. The location of Homer's Ithaca is a very complex issue," she said.

Trust the press to latch on to the Odysseus angle and make it the major focus of the story ... then again, something I've always wondered about is whether all those peoples who are cataloged in the Iliad had similar burial practices ...

... a very small photo accompanies the original article ...
From the Daily Star:

Japanese archaeologists of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon have completed the rehabilitation of Roman tombs in the Ramali region, east of the Southern coastal city of Tyre, Nader Siqlawi, representative of the Lebanese Directorate General of Antiquities, told The Daily Star Tuesday.

"The Japanese commission of archaeology has rehabilitated the walls of the TG04 roman cemetery and the paintings decorating them the way they were in the old ages, particularly the Roman period," Siqlawi said.

According to Siqlawi, the project was the result of a contract signed between the aforementioned commission and the Lebanese Culture Ministry.

"The contract has charged Japan's Nara University with finding the appropriate archaeologists and sending them to Lebanon," he said. "Rehabilitation works have been carried out in four years during which the Japanese and Lebanese specialists have conducted several studies and researches in this regard."

Professor Nishiyama Yoichi, who headed the commission, expressed his happiness for having worked in Lebanon, which he described as "the country of diversity, culture and civilization."

"We have rehabilitated that cemetery which is considered a witness to Roman civilization that is characterized by the diversity of colors, particularly green, red and blue," he said.
... for the 'radio silence'; a couple of days of extreme hecticity heading into our March break. Of course, there's piles of news that decided to break during those days, so I'm in catch up mode ...
ante diem iv kalendas martias

Festival of Mars (day 4)

51 A.D. -- the future emperor Nero is given the title princeps iuventutis

ca 254 A.D. -- martyrdom of Gaius
probity @

grammaticaster @ Worthless Word for the Day

nocebo @ Wordsmith
Excerpt from a piece in Business Week comparing Obama's rhetoric to MLK's:

Many observers say Obama sounds like King. He does because he uses some of the same techniques that made King an electrifying speaker.

1. Parallel structure We can thank the ancient Greeks for this rhetorical tool—they called it "anaphora." It simply means repeating the same word or expression at the beginning of successive sentences or phrases. One of the most famous examples is King's "I Have a Dream" speech. "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed…. I have a dream that… I have a dream…" Obama uses the same device frequently. In his Iowa victory speech on Jan. 3, Obama said, "You have done what the cynics said we couldn't do. You have done what the state of New Hampshire can do in five days. You have done what America can do in this new year."

Anaphora's sister technique is called "epistrophe." It is the repetition of a word or expression at the end of a successive sentences or phrases. For example, in Obama's New Hampshire speech, the expression "Yes, we can" rallied thousands of supporters when used like this: "It was a creed written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation: Yes, we can. It was whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they blazed a trail towards freedom through the darkest of nights: Yes, we can. It was sung by immigrants as they struck out for distant shores and pioneers who pushed westward against an unforgiving wilderness: Yes, we can.

... more (but without the hat tip to the Greeks)
From Kathimerini:

Two men have been arrested in Thessaloniki on suspicion of trying to sell an illegally excavated Roman period statue thought to be of significant archaeological value, police said on Saturday.

The 1.15-meter statue was found in a trailer that was parked near the city’s airport. Archaeologists told police that the artifact is an important find and would fetch a lot of money if sold, though no specific amount has been made public.

Police believe the statue was being kept in the trailer while the two suspects, aged 57 and 50, negotiated its sale to an, as yet, unidentified buyer.

Officers found several other artifacts when they searched the home of the 50-year-old. They also seized around 3,000 packets of contraband cigarettes and are investigating whether the men had any accomplices.
From the Crimson:

Classicist John K. Schafer had no idea that being in the right place at the right time—and knowing his Ovid—would lead to an epic meeting with Matt Damon.

Harvard’s Classics department is often called upon to perform translations, from salad dressing labels and Vatican documents to military mottoes and movie lines, as the University’s scholars of the ancient world show a surprising impact on our own.

In Schafer’s case, a department administrator found him in the graduate student lounge and told him that the dialect coach for “The Good Shepherd” was looking for someone to translate a passage from Ovid’s “Metamorphoses.”

In the movie, a beautiful German translator asks Matt Damon’s character if he’s read Ovid, and Damon responds with the quotation Schafer translated.

As a thank-you, Schafer and his wife were invited to one of the movie’s rehearsals at the set in Manhattan.

“And this very nice guy, the brilliant dialect coach, said, ‘Hey Matty! Here’s John! Helped us on the Latin!’” Schafer said.

He continued, “[Damon] smiled a huge grin at me and said, ‘Thank you.’ And I tried not to feel goofy standing next to this Adonis—while [Robert] DeNiro walks up and down this room scowling at people in the aisles, with a bad haircut and slummy-looking clothes.”

Although Schafer said it was thrilling to meet Damon, a member of the Class of 1992, the encounter had its downsides.

“It was bad for my male ego,” he said, “standing next to him.”


Another common caller to the Classics department is the U.S. military—specifically, subdivisions of the Air Force.

But when the Air Force Academy enlisted Schafer’s help for a motto requiring Latin translations of “leadership” and “honor,” he recalled running into some difficulty. Both words proved nearly impossible to translate.

“There’s really no comfortable way to put that in Latin,” Schafer said, referring to the word “leadership.”

Schafer, now a lecturer in the Classics department, said that the closest word to “leadership” in Latin is “auctoritas,” which can easily be misinterpreted for “authority.”

“Honor” was not any easier for Schafer to translate.

“Latin has a word ‘honor,’ but...the shades of meaning are very different,” Schafer said. “Honor doesn’t mean a personal code of right conduct, That notion of honor is foreign to the Latin word.”

Although Schafer offered a few suggestions, the Air Force Academy did not take any of them.

Graduate student Justin C. Lake said he too has struggled to translate modern English words into august Latin phrases.

Lake received an e-mail from a major at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey, asking him to translate the motto “chaos under control” into Latin.

“I sent up three to them, and they actually picked my least favorite,” Lake said. “They ended up using ‘confusa sub moderatione’—literally, things in disorder under more than moderation; it means regiment or control.”

Lake said he was glad to do the translation for free. As a bonus, he received a special coin from the Air Force base with an engraving of the motto.

“It was nice in the middle of a war to do something for the Armed Forces, even if it was something very small like writing a Latin motto,” Lake said.


While translating for the Air Force and Hollywood may sound glamorous, Harvard classicists have not always been pleased with the results.

Lake now says that he wishes he had just sent the Air Force his favorite motto.

Similarly, Schafer did not find the “Good Shepherd” scene—or the movie itself—to be very coherent.

In the scene, when Damon is asked if he’s read Ovid, he replies with the quotation: “I grabbed a pile of dust, and holding it up, foolishly asked for as many birthdays as the grains of dust. I forgot to ask that they be years of youth.”

Schafer said that, given the context, the quotation seemed obscure.

“If someone says, ‘Have you ever read Tolstoy?’ and someone responds with something from ‘War and Peace,’ it would be weird,” he said.

The original scene was not as awkward.

“The original idea is that Matt Damon is about to go to Tibet with this gorgeous German woman, and she says to him, ‘When you were at Yale, did you read Ovid?’ And he says, ‘Sure.’ And she starts reciting Latin to him, and between each line he translates it,” Schafer recalled.

“But the version they came up with made no sense at all,” Schafer said.

Nonetheless, both Schafer and motto-translator Lake said they enjoyed their experiences.

On the other hand, Kathleen M. Coleman, a Classics professor currently teaching Ovid, was not so excited about the prospect of recounting her experience with Hollywood.

When asked in a phone interview to talk about her experience working as a historical consultant for the 2000 movie “Gladiator,” the normally friendly Coleman said, “No, sorry. Bye.”

An expert on Roman games, Coleman asked to have her name removed from the credits when she discovered the film’s glaring historical inaccuracies.

She recalled one exchange between the filmmakers in a 2005 Financial Times article: “Kathy, we need to get a piece of evidence which proves that women gladiators had sharpened razor blades attached to their nipples. Could you have it by lunchtime?”

“That was not a very good experience for her,” department administrator Teresa T. Wu said. “I think she won’t work with Hollywood again.”


Over the years, the Classics department has received its share of odd phone calls.

Once someone called to find out how to say “74” in Latin, Lake said.

“Someone has some random Latin question, and they figure, ‘I’ll just call Harvard, and some nerd at a desk will tell me what I want to do,’” Schafer said.

Christopher P. Jones, a Classics professor, said he does not believe that the department should give out translations gratis.

“My belief on the whole is we’re not a service and that people should not suppose that we are just around to give out information for free,” Jones said.

“When I say I’ll do it for $100, they normally look somewhere else and find someone more tender-hearted,” he added.

But John M. Duffy, chair of the Classics department, said he does not find these calls very bothersome.

“We’re happy to provide the service,” he said, “as long as it doesn’t become something that becomes too often or becomes a nuisance, but in my case that hasn’t happened.”

Lenore S. Parker, a department administrator who answers phone calls to the department, recalled one memorable experience.

“Someone from Paul Newman’s office once requested a translation of a motto for his salad dressing label,” she said, “and sent us cases of his microwavable buttered popcorn that perfumed our hallways for months afterwards.”
ante diem v nonas martias

Festival of Mars (day 3)

262 A.D. -- martyrdom of Marinus and Asterius at Caesarea
vapulation @ Worthless Word for the Day

prepone @ Wordsmith
9.00 p.m. |HISTC| ROME | Caesarion
Having pursued Pompey into Egypt, Caesar arrives in Alexandria and meets the boy king Ptolemy XIII, who offers the general a surprise gift. Vorenus and Pullo play liberators again, freeing Ptolemy’s incarcerated sister, Cleopatra. Caesar seeks payment from Egypt for past debts, and ends up forging a strategic union to ensure his legacy.

HISTC = History Television (Canada)
Assorted odds and ends from the mailbox ...

Dorothy King sent in a couple of very interesting items (in addition to the Bacchae thing from the Telegraph) ... first we have some Red Figure Chucks:

... see the full post on these at Eternally Cool; perhaps we should challenge readers of rogueclassicism to make their own and send in a photo (this could be a way way way cool Classics Club activity; t-shirts are so hesterno die all of a sudden) ...

Next, DK also sends in this different spin on the idea of a Roman Candle:

Get your own from Fred and Friends ... several tips o' the pileus to DK for finding these!

The Classics types at UKentucky have put some videocasts of Latin conversations online ...

Classics@ has updated its online publication of the Posidippus papyrus ...

... that's it, but if anyone is going to take up my Red Figure Chucks challenge (and, of course, they don't necessarily have to be Red figure), this page has some useful advice on mixing the paint ...
From BMCR:

Mary R. Lefkowitz, Women in Greek Myth. Second edition.

Monika R. M. Hasitzka, Koptisches Sammelbuch III. (KSB III). MPER XXIII, 3. Mitteilungen aus der Papyrussammlung der Oesterreichischen Nationalbibliothek (Papyrus Erzherzog Rainer).

John Breuker, Mardah B.C. Weinfield, A Little Book of Latin Love Poetry. A Transitional Reader for Catullus, Horace, and Ovid.

Brian McGing, Judith Mossman, The Limits of Ancient Biography.

Cornelius Hartz, Catulls Epigramme im Kontext hellenistischer Dichtung.nBeitraege zur Altertumskunde 246.

Paolo Sommella (ed.), Tabula Imperii Romani Foglio K-32 Firenze.

Luigi Bravi, Gli epigrammi di Simonide e le vie della tradizione. Filologia e critica 94.

S. Douglas Olson (ed.), Athenaeus: The Learned Banqueters.

Mogens Herman Hansen (ed.), The Return of the Polis. The Use and Meanings of the Word polis in Archaic and Classical Sources. Papers from the Copenhagen Polis Centre 8.

From RBL:

John R. Hinnells, ed., A Handbook of Ancient Religions, Review of Biblical Literature
he Leeds International Classics Seminar is pleased to announce a one-day
conference on the theme:


This event will be held at the University of Leeds on Friday 9 May 2008,
11.30am – 5.30pm.

The speakers will be:

Mary Beagon (Manchester)
Louise Calder (Wolfson College, Oxford)
Gordon Campbell (NUI Maynooth)
Catherine Osborne (University of East Anglia)
Brigitte Resl (Liverpool)
Chiara Thumiger (University College London)

Full details of the programme are being finalised, and will be available
soon from:

or from the organisers:

Malcolm Heath (m.f.heath AT
Regine May (r.may AT

The meeting is open to all academic participants; postgraduate and
undergraduate students are especially welcome.

Those interested in attending should let Malcolm Heath know (by email) at
least a week in advance.

The conference fee (including tea/coffee and a buffet lunch) is £15 (£10
students and unwaged), payable on the day.
From the Comet:

ARCHAEOLOGY enthusiasts found Roman artefacts when they excavated three test pits.

Members of Norton Community Archaeology Group organised the excavation in gardens in Caslon Way, Letchworth GC.

They knew Roman pottery had been found on the site when the houses were built in 1955 and they wanted to find out more.

They were assisted by pupils of Fearnhill School in Letchworth GC and members of the Young Archaeologists' Club.

In one pit, they found pieces of a cooking pot and part of a flagon for holding drink. In another pit, part of a mortarium - a grinding bowl that was used as a food processor - was found. These two pits were about 50 metres apart, suggesting the settlement covered quite a large area.

In the base of one of the pits, the surface of a yard was also uncovered.

These finds show the site was probably a large farmstead or a farming hamlet. Others have been found nearby at Hawthorn Hill, and Archers Way.

Mr Fitzpatrick-Matthews said: "We found exactly what we were looking for - Roman pottery from a village that stood here 1900 years ago. It may not be a temple or an amphitheatre, but it's still important evidence about the story of Letchworth.
From the Times:

An excavation is about to start at one of the most important Roman villas in Western Europe. Its spectacular mosaics were saved by readers of The Times five years ago after being placed on the World Monuments Fund’s list of the most endangered sites.

One of Britain’s leading archaeologists is to explore the 1.6hectare (4acre) site around Brading Roman Villa on the Isle of Wight. Barely 15 per cent of it has been excavated and the dig is expected to last five years.

Sir Barry Cunliffe, Emeritus Professor of European Archaeology at Oxford University, said that the north side appeared to suggest a large assembly hall with side aisles.

The finds could include mosaics, although it is unlikely that they would match the quality of those within the villa itself with their depictions of peacocks signifying eternal life, Orpheus charming the beasts of the forest and Tritons, or sea deities, carrying reclining nymphs on their backs.

In 2003 readers of The Times responded to warnings that the mosaics would have to be reburied and removed from public view unless money could be raised to rehouse them. Their protective corrugated-iron structure had been condemned after flood waters in a heavy storm inflicted serious damage a decade earlier. Readers contributed more than £100,000 to the cause, enabling the construction of a £3.1 million single-storey grass-roofed building, which was opened in 2005 and has won international awards. Kenneth Hicks, a trustee of the charitable trust that owns the villa, said: “ The Times was the catalyst that meant the project was a success.”

The Romano-British settlement on the island flourished through an active stone-quarrying industry and maritime trade. The villa’s remains disappeared from sight until 1879, when a local farmer stumbled across them.

Sir Barry said that the excavation could give an insight into the identity of the owner of the villa. Its luxury suggests that it was owned by the wealthiest of Roman Britons. The sophistication of the mosaics – which are replete with allegory, politics and double entendre – suggest someone highly cultured. One theory is that the villa belonged to Allectus, who ruled Britain in AD293296 after murdering his predecessor Carausius, an army commander who had proclaimed himself emperor of Britain.

The excavation, which is due to start in August, will include up to 20 graduate archaeologists and also involve local people, particularly the young. The trust needs £50,000 a year to make that possible and has launched an urgent appeal for help.
Very interesting item from the Telegraph:

It might not be immediately obvious why a neuroscientist should be interested in ancient Greek language, literature and history, but I believe the classics and the sciences are synergistic, and will increasingly be so as the 21st century unfolds.

My fascination with ancient civilisations began long before I set foot in a lab. Looking out from the grey and grainy Chiswick of 1960s London, the world of gods and goddesses provided an exotic contrast to contour maps, quadratic equations, dates of treaties, the life cycle of conkers and other classroom pre-occupations.

One particular mistress, Veronica Lemon, provided the intellectual turning point. Through her I discovered that reading and writing Greek was a way to gather wisdom. Greek stretched our schoolgirl brains to explore beyond the syllabus and exams.

One insight I've always remembered was the suggestion that the three Greek tragedians, spanning respectively three generations, reflected a transition in the human mind from a hapless pawn towards an accountable individual. The earliest, Aeschylus, described a blind determinism where human beings were mere victims of their fates, embodied in a collective Chorus. Then on to Sophocles, where the individual started to become differentiated and interweave with the divine; to be proactive as well as reactive. So, finally, to Euripides, where action and reaction were internalised as inner emotions and conflicts. One of our books described this transition as travelling "from the cathedral to the powerhouse".

It isn't hard to see why the Greek tragedies are still compelling. Questions about determinism, free will and individuality were heady stuff to a teenager. The perception that it is futile to plough through dead languages when science teaches us about real life was turned on its head. Greek opened up a window on that most intoxicating of subjects: philosophy. How would one distinguish an individual's "mind" from a generic "brain"? Is "consciousness" different from "mind"? (As surely it must be - since when you "lose" your mind, you are still conscious.).

Discussing these kinds of dichotomies became natural. In Classics lessons, we would compare anything and everything, from the lengths of vowels in Latin and Greek, to attitudes to empire. In Greek you can signpost two sides of an argument in one sentence: "on the one hand, and on the other": action, and reaction. Soon I was starting to see almost everything as thesis and antithesis.

We have three disparate strands to pull together: internal conflict; loss of mind; and the tension between equal and opposite forces. Euripides' The Bacchae is about the eternal theme of the strong psychological conflicts that occur within each of us. From it we learn how the human condition must encompass a ceaseless struggle for equilibrium.

The plot centres on King Pentheus of Thebes, who is attempting to stamp out the crazed, abandoned worship of the God of wine Dionysus, also known as Bacchus. Pentheus will not accept the frenzied rituals conducted by women carried away by wine and dance. These "Bacchae" have completely "lost their minds".

Consecrate yourselves to Bacchus, with stems of oak or fir,
Dress yourselves in spotted fawn skins, trimmed with white sheep's wool.
As you wave your thyrsus, revere the violence it contains.
All the earth will dance at once.
Whoever leads our dancing - that one is Bromius!
To the mountain, to the mountain,
where the pack of women waits,
all stung to frenzied madness to leave their weaving shuttles,
goaded on by Dionysus.

Early on in the story, Pentheus' attempt to censor the women is challenged by Tiresias, who draws a clear thesis-antithesis.

…among human beings two things stand out preeminent, of highest rank.
Goddess Demeter is one - she's the earth
(though you can call her any name you wish),
and she feeds mortal people cereal grains.
The other one came later, born of Semele -
he brought with him liquor from the grape,
something to match the bread from Demeter.
He introduced it among mortal men.
When they can drink up what streams off the vine,
unhappy mortals are released from pain.
It grants them sleep, allows them to forget
their daily troubles. Apart from wine,
there is no cure for human hardship.

Today this idea of opposing forces of wine and bread still has an instinctive appeal: in our minds there are sobering checks and balances to contrast with the ecstasy of abandonment.

The word "ecstasy" comes from the Greek "to stand outside of oneself". But as a neuroscientist, I ask: how could the forces of wine and bread transcend metaphor to be realised in the physical brain? Let's make a small excursion into the world of the neurons.

Although we are born with pretty much all the brain cells or neurons we will ever have, it is the growth of the connections between them that accounts largely for the growth of the brain after birth. These connections will reflect our individual experiences, and so we become unique individuals.

It's an incredible thought that no one has ever had - nor ever will have - a brain or rather, a mind, exactly like yours. So although we are born as passive recipients of our senses, our brain connections soon become personalised to the particular lives we lead and the culture to which we are exposed. Everything is evaluated in terms of previous experience and in turn each new experience will change our subsequent evaluations.

This process of malleability is what neuroscientists call "plasticity". For example, even after five days of learning the piano, we can see changes in the brain and, more excitingly still, a similar result after five days of merely imagining performing those exercises. The "mind" is therefore the personalisation of the brain, realised by individual configurations of neuronal networks driven, in turn, by individual experience.

But gradually these abstract sensations will coalesce into, say, a familiar face. And the more that face features in your life, the more connections will form: so you shift from the momentary hit of pure sensation to a subtler, continuing cognition.

"Meaning" - consistent recognition of your mother - will start to trump the raw experience of a sweet taste or a warm bath. Gradually you develop your mind as you accumulate in your memory all the various events in which your mother features.

You would only "lose your mind" if the neuronal connections were dismantled, which is what happens in dementia. However, a temporary way to lose your mind is to take a substance that leads to the connections malfunctioning: alcohol and psychoactive drugs work by impairing the function and communication of cells within these networks of neurons. You literally blow your mind.

In Euripides' play, this loss of mind and meaning is taken to an extreme: Pentheus, a prurient voyeur, ventures to watch the rituals. As a result, he gets torn apart by the frenzied Bacchants, one of whom, his mother, parades the severed head as a trophy, tragically unaware of what she is doing.

It is hard to imagine getting as insanely drunk as Pentheus' mother. An unremitting diet of drugs, sex and rock'n'roll - or wine, women and song - is something most of us would eventually tire of. The point of "letting yourself go" is that such interludes are intermittent - you have to return to ordinary life.

There's much to be said for developing a personalised mind, of finding meaning in the world around us, of escaping from a mindless, momentary experience. We humans want and need both: Pentheus the party-pooper is a caricature. The ideal would be to get the balance right.

Perhaps in the future such an equilibrium could be more elusive still, as the impact of booze and drugs is supplemented by an unprecedented new influence. Young people today are already spending an average of six hours a day in front of a screen. This fast-paced and sensory-laden experience could be cajoling the developing mind towards process over content, to medium over message, to sensation over significance, to wine over bread.

Science and the classics form complementary ways of approaching the big problems; indeed, one inspires the other. Neuroscience provides the appropriate tools and observations, and Greek tragedy the big questions and conceptual framework. The fact that neither discipline necessarily gives the answers is all the more reason for cross-fertilisation.

As Euripides writes in his conclusion:

The gods appear in many forms, carrying with them unwelcome things.
What people thought would happen never did.
What they did not expect, the gods made happen.
That's what this story has revealed.

For more on this, check out the BBC's segment on The Essay for March 4 ...