Assorted items of interest ...
Plans are afoot to establish the Carlisle Museum as "the base to explore the western end of Hadrian’s Wall":
• £500,000 Roman plan for Carlisle museum
(News and Star)
The recent rain in Rome has closed the Domus Aurea:
• Rain shuts down Nero's palace in Rome
If you want to (somewhat anachronistically) eat Christmas dinner like a Roman emperor:
• Eat Christmas dinner like a Roman emperor
• Christmas, the Roman way
(Western Morning News)
... or ponder the connection between Mithras and Santa Claus:
• Mithras and St. Nick
(Area Wide news)
Interesting preservation-of-site story:
• Roman townhouse find leads to 'fundamental' re-design of £30 million Leicester multi-storey
The job action which affected the Acropolis and several other archaeological sites in Greece (while all the rioting is going on too!) is over:
• Archeological sites opened after 10-day strike
Interesting suggestion for/about the Loeb Classical Library:
• The Loeb Classical Library and a missed marketing chance
Baby Zeus? (potentially disturbing/shocking):
• Doctor removes 'perfectly formed' FOOT growing inside baby's brain
ante diem xv kalendas januarias
Saturnalia (day 2) - major, popular festival in honour of Saturn with banquets, the wearing of soft caps (pilei), and general good cheer. Shops and schools were closed, gambling was legally permitted, gifts were exchanged and masters might even wait on their servants. Obviously this festival is often seen as a precursor to our modern-day Christmas celebrations ...
69 A.D. -- emperor-for-a-little-while Vitellius
abdicates, but changes his mind later
1809 - Death of Alexander Adam
, an eminent Classicist
I'm somewhat surprised at how long this one is taking so long to get more exposure. As of this writing, Science Daily is the only one reporting on the discovery of some lead bars dating to the third century B.C. from the sea off the coast of Ibiza. One of the bars has Iberian script on it and the lead has been traced to mines in southern Spain. The article wonders why lead would be sent to the Balearic Islands and then answers its own question by noting the existence of the famous Balearic mercenaries. The lead seems to coincide with the period of the Second Punic War.
Dixit Marcus Heinrich Hermanns:
“The characters must have been added to the metal before it had set, shortly after it had been cast in which case, the characters are more likely to be related to production as opposed to commercial information.”Rare Lead Bars Discovered Off The Coast Of Ibiza May Be Carthaginian Munitions
“The examination of the recovered lead bars provides a further basing point for the examination of the pre-Roman metal industry in the western Mediterranean region ... there have been some relevant discoveries in the past, however, it is very difficult to establish anything concrete with certainty, due to the research done so far.”
(Science Daily)Hallan en Ibiza lingotes de plomo de 2.200 años de antigüedad
(Milenio)Kölner Wissenschaftler vermutet Rüstungsgüter für Karthago
(U zu Koln)Cologne Scientist suspects Carthaginian Munitions
(ditto)Vorchristliche Bleibarren vor Ibizas Nordküste
(Ibiza News)Seltener Bleibarrenfund vor der Küste von Ibiza
Seems to be an evening of necropoleis ... An Italian team has uncovered, inter alia, a sizeable necropolis near Palmyra which dates to the mid-second-millennium B.C.. That's a bit out of our purview, but the ANSA report also mentions the discovery of a stretch of Roman road, including eleven milestones mentioning "Aurelius" (Aurelian, shurely) and remains of a mansio.Ancient necropolis unearthed
(ANSA)Ancient burial site found in Syria
National Geographic is somewhat late in reporting the discovery of a major necropolis (back in September) at Himera, which includes a number of mass graves of soldiers and infants. The soldiers are believed to have fallen in the first Battle of Himera in 480 B.C.
Stefano Vassallo dixit:
"It's probably the largest Greek necropolis in Sicily," Ancient Mass Graves of Soldiers, Babies, Found in Italy
"The remains of Himera's buildings had been known and studied for a long time, and we knew there should be some graves. We didn't expect so many graves"
"Each [mass grave] contains from 15 to 25 skeletons. They were all young healthy men and they all died a violent death. Some of the skeletons have broken skulls and in some cases we found the tips of the arrows that killed them,"
"Greeks and Carthaginians fought a bloody battle in the plain under the town walls, right on the burial ground," Vassallo said. "People from Himera won."
"All the people were slaughtered or deported and the colony never rose again,"
"Infant mortality was very high at the times. We found the tiny skeletons placed inside funerary amphorae, like in a womb, alongside small terracotta vases called guttus, with spouts like present-day feeding bottles."
"People from Himera were very tall, about 175 centimeters [69 inches]. Unusual for the times."
(NG)PHOTOS: Ancient Mass Graves, ''Baby Bottles'' Discovered
We had some previous coverage on this last month from ANSA
GENDER AND SEXUALITY IN ANCIENT GREECE
Study Afternoon preliminary notice
Wednesday February 4th 2009, Queen's Building 150,
Southlands College, Roehampton University
* Dr Susan Deacy (Roehampton) Gender and sexuality:
where are we at?
Violence, desire and crime: 1.15-4.00
* Dr Fiona McHardy (Roehampton): The drowning of
* Prof. Edward Harris (Durham): Did Greek Men Care
Whether a Woman said "Yes"? Sexual Violence and the
Absence of Consent in Greek Law, Literature and Art
* Dr Rosanna Omitowoju (Cambridge): New dynamics of
desire in Menadrian Comedy
The state of the subject(s): 4.15-5.15
* Dr Sue Blundell (Open): The Gender Survey of UK
* Dr James Robson (Open): How to write a textbook on
Greek gender and sexuality
All welcome, including undergraduate students. Further
details (including the poster) available from: Susan
Deacy, School of Arts, Roehampton University, London
SW15 5PH; s.deacy AT roehampton.ac.uk
Dr S.J. Deacy
Senior Lecturer in Greek History and Literature
Roehampton University, London
Fish and Seafood
Anthropological and Nutritional Perspectives
Kamilari Crete Greece
31st May to 6th June 2009
Prof. Nikolaos I. Xirotiris, Laboratory of Anthropology Demokritos
University of Thrace Komotini e-mail
As. Prof. Antonia Matala, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics
Harokopio University Athens e-mail
As. Prof. Nena Galanidou, Department of History and Archaeology
University of Crete Rethymno e-mail
Kostas Zafeiris, PhD, Laboratory of Anthropology Demokritos
University of Thrace Komotini
Christina Papageorgopoulou, PhD, Seminar f. Ur- Fruehgeschichte,
University of Basel, Switzerland
THEMES OF THE CONFERENCE
The meeting aims to provide a multidisciplinary approach to the role
of fish and seafood in the human diet from ancient times to the
present. Contributions will cover, but will not necessarily be
restricted to, one of the following themes:
Fish and seafood as a dietary component
Fish biology in relation to nutritional value
Fish and palaeodiets
Fish and seafood in archaeology and art
Symbolic and ideological uses of fish
Impact of fish and seafood consumption on health
Culinary aspects of fish and preservation techniques
Safety aspects of fish consumption
The problem of fish availability in the near future
Industrial production of fish
TENTATIVE PROGRAMME May/June 2009
Sunday, May 31st Arrival
Monday, June 1st
10.00-13.00 Keynote lecture, and presentation of papers
13.00-17.30 Lunch, siesta or swimming on the beach
17.30-20.30 Presentation of papers
21.00 Dinner at a local tavern
Tuesday, June 2nd
10.00-13.00 Keynote lecture, and presentation of papers
13.00-17.30 Lunch, siesta or swimming on the beach
17.30-20.30 Presentation of papers
21.00 Dinner at a local tavern
Wednesday, June 3rd
10.00-13.00 Keynote lecture, and presentation of papers
13.00-17.30 Lunch, siesta or swimming on the beach
17.30-20.30 Presentation of papers
21.00 Dinner at a local tavern
Thursday, June 4th
9.30 Guided tour to the archaeological sites of Phaestos and Gortys
19.30 Presentation of local cuisine and tasting at Kamilari (South Crete)
Friday, June 5th
9.30 Guided tour to the archaeological site of Knossos
19.30 Presentation of local cuisine and tasting at Avthou (East Crete)
Saturday, June, 6th
A fishing expedition will be organised with the aid of local fishermen
who will take us in their boats for fishing in the bay at night.
Exposition of 'fish-art' and photographs of ancient fish-cultures
Exposition of local food products
Exposition of fish and seafood products
The conference will take place at Kamilari, in the south of Crete.
Kamilari is a small village situated on a hill opposite to the Minoan
site of Phaestos, within 2 km distance from the beach and 60 km from
Heraklion, the largest town on Crete.
Links about Kamilari:
Kamilari is a one-hour drive from the Heraklion airport, to which
there are direct flights from several European airports.
Alternatively, one can have a stopover in Athens or Thessaloniki.
Arrival: A shuttle service will be provided from Heraklion airport to
the conference site. Please let us know your exact arrival details
ahead of time, so that we can schedule your transfer to Kamilari.
Departure: Shuttle service will be provided from Kamilari to
Heraklion, Saturday, June 6th.
Accommodation has been reserved in nice pensions at Kamilari. There is
choice between a room, a studio or a house:
Rooms, accommodating 1-2 people. In all rooms there is WC with shower
or bath, refrigerator, and air-conditioning.
Studios, accommodating 2-3 people. All studios have balcony,
kitchenette with refrigerator and cooking facilities, WC with shower
or bath, and air-conditioning.
Houses, accommodating 4-5 people. Houses also have a swimming pool.
The average accommodation price per person is 20-45 Euros/day without
Access to internet will be available with a small charge
ante diem xvi kalendas januarias
Saturnalia (day 1) -- major, popular festival in honour of Saturn with banquets, the wearing of soft caps (pilei), and general good cheer. Shops and schools were closed, gambling was legally permitted, gifts were exchanged and masters might even wait on their servants. Obviously this festival is often seen as a precursor to our modern-day Christmas celebrations ...
246 B.C.E. -- the Torah is translated into Greek (obviously not in one day)
... one of those rare days when none of the major sources have one for us!
The Latin American Herald Tribune is reporting that an archaeologist working near Leon (Spain) has found a Roman lamp depicting a gynecological examination.
Dixit Angel Morillo, inter alia:
... "an exceptional piece that illustrates the presence of doctors in the city"
... "appears a very slender woman, possibly affected by a serious illness, like cancer, and a doctor who is performing a gynecological exam with a vaginal speculum."
"We know that during that period there were vaginal speculums, which are practically the same as the ones we have (now), but ... representations of them have come down (to us) on very few occasions and never - so far - in the case of a lamp."
No photos, alas, but the lamp is said to be 'in private hands' but is headed for a museum.Ancient Roman Lamp Shows Gynecological Exam
(Latin American Herald Tribune)
Tip o' the Saturnalian pileus to Domingo Vallejo Sanz who sends in additional coverage (which notes the lamp was found a couple of years ago), including a photo (of sorts):Aparece en León la única lucerna del mundo con una escena ginecológica
Some shorter items that caught my caerulian brow ...
The headline of this very brief item speaks for itself:Acropolis closure ‘more damaging than riots’
A pertinent auction result:Hadrian sells for nearly $1 million
(The Daily Iberian)
A piece on Ernst Pernicka and his activities at Troy:Troja bleibt der Traum
I really have no comment on this one:Jesus And Zeus May Not Be So Different After All - The Striking Parallels between the Christian Nativity Story and the Pagan Birth of Zeus
(Express Press Release)
As rogueclassicism goes through a bit of a rethink (folks might notice some posts go up in the evening again), I find I can give a bit more attention to items like these. This one is another one of those claimed quotations about the ancient world, and somewhat unusually, it's pretty accurate. It begins with a paragraph from a piece in the Denver Education Reform Examiner:
I discovered a written copy of a conference oral presentation given at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government back in June of 1997. An example given details the story of a lawyer, dismayed by the lack of a high school in his community, decides to found one and supplies half of the money. The rest of the funding and the governing responsibilities are given over to the parents of the future attending students. He could very well have funded the entire school’s needs but reasoned that if there was an invested interest by the parents the school’s success and direction would be better served. This did not occur in our recent history, but in 60 A.D. The lawyer’s name was Pliny the Younger, a citizen of the Roman Empire. This was given as an example of the free market approach to education and was the focus of this presentation.
Now I don't claim to know Pliny's floruit, but I do know that he was but a lad in 79 A.D. when Vesuvius went kablooey, so the likelihood of him doing this isn't very. So we tracked down the oral presentation, by one Andrew J. Coulson. Inter alia:
But kids and schools did not just appear on the scene five decades ago, and neither did the debate over school governance. That point is most sharply driven home by a letter from a successful lawyer, outlining his views on schooling. He was born in the early sixties in a small town and lamented the fact that it didn't have a high-school, so he decided to found one himself. But rather than fully endowing the new school, which he could easily have afforded to do, he chose to supply only a third of the necessary funds. In his letter, he explained his decision this way:
I would promise the whole amount were I not afraid that someday my gift might be abused for someone's selfish purposes, as I see happen in many places where teachers' salaries are paid from public funds. There is only one remedy to meet this evil: if the appointment of teachers is left entirely to the parents, and they are conscientious about making a wise choice through their obligation to contribute to the cost. People who may be careless about another person's money are sure to be careful about their own, and they will see that only a suitable recipient shall be found for my money if he is also to have their own... I am leaving everything open for the parents: the decision and choice are to be theirs-all I want is to make the arrangements and pay my share.
What's remarkable about his letter isn't so much its contents as its context. As I said, it's author was born in the early sixties--not the early 1960s or the early 1860s, but the early 60s of the first century A.D. His name was Pliny the Younger, and he was a citizen of the Roman Empire.
[I've underlined the part which is purportedly a quote from Pliny]
Of course, Pliny did sell a chunk of land as an alimenta/foundation in his native Como. He wrote to his friend Caninius about it:
1 Deliberas mecum quemadmodum pecunia, quam municipibus nostris in epulum obtulisti, post te quoque salva sit. Honesta consultatio, non expedita sententia. Numeres rei publicae summam: verendum est ne dilabatur. Des agros: ut publici neglegentur. 2 Equidem nihil commodius invenio, quam quod ipse feci. Nam pro quingentis milibus nummum, quae in alimenta ingenuorum ingenuarumque promiseram, agrum ex meis longe pluris actori publico mancipavi; eundem vectigali imposito recepi, tricena milia annua daturus. 3 Per hoc enim et rei publicae sors in tuto nec reditus incertus, et ager ipse propter id quod vectigal large supercurrit, semper dominum a quo exerceatur inveniet. 4 Nec ignoro me plus aliquanto quam donasse videor erogavisse, cum pulcherrimi agri pretium necessitas vectigalis infregerit. 5 Sed oportet privatis utilitatibus publicas, mortalibus aeternas anteferre, multoque diligentius muneri suo consulere quam facultatibus. Vale.
(Epistulae 7.18; Latin Library
You ask my opinion in what way the money which
you have offered to our townsfolk for an annual feast
may be secured after your decease. While the inquiry does
you honour, the decision is not an easy one. Suppose
you pay the amount to the municipality? It is to be
feared that it may be squandered. Suppose you give
land ? Being public land, it will be neglected. For my
part, I can find nothing better than what I did myself.
In lieu of five hundred thousand sesterces,* which I had
promised for the maintenance of free boys and girls, I
made over to the agent of the public property some lands
of mine of much greater value ; these I had reconveyed to
me on condition of paying thirty thousand sesterces
annually as a rent-charge. In this way the capital of the
municipality was made safe and the income was assured ;
the land itself, in consequence of there being a large margin
over the rent-charge, will always find an owner to culti-
vate it. I am aware that this cost me something more
than the amount of my nominal donation, as the lien of
the rent-charge has diminished the selling price of a very
handsome property. But one is bound to prefer public to
private interests, those that are enduring to those that are
mortal, and to be much more careful in securing one's
benefactions than one's property.
(trans. J.D. Lewis
The endowment is also mentioned in CIL 5.5262 as one of the items of Pliny's 'c.v.' (see the restored text and translation at Livius.org
Where this quote seems to come from, more or less, is from a letter to Tacitus:
Totum etiam pollicerer, nisi timerem ne hoc munus meum quandoque ambitu corrumperetur, ut accidere multis in locis video, in quibus praeceptores publice conducuntur. 7 Huic vitio occurri uno remedio potest, si parentibus solis ius conducendi relinquatur, isdemque religio recte iudicandi necessitate collationis addatur. 8 Nam qui fortasse de alieno neglegentes, certe de suo diligentes erunt dabuntque operam, ne a me pecuniam non nisi dignus accipiat, si accepturus et ab ipsis erit. 9 Proinde consentite conspirate maioremque animum ex meo sumite, qui cupio esse quam plurimum, quod debeam conferre. Nihil honestius praestare liberis vestris, nihil gratius patriae potestis. Educentur hic qui hic nascuntur, statimque ab infantia natale solum amare frequentare consuescant. Atque utinam tam claros praeceptores inducatis, ut in finitimis oppidis studia hinc petantur, utque nunc liberi vestri aliena in loca ita mox alieni in hunc locum confluant!'
(4.13.7ff; Latin Library
I would even promise the whole amount,
were it not for the fear that such a gift might one day be
perverted by means of jobbery, as I see happens in many
places where teachers are engaged at the public expense.
This abuse can only be met by one remedy, and that is,
that the right of making these engagements should be left
to the parents alone, and that the conscientious care of
deciding rightly should be imposed on them by the
necessity of subscribing. For those who would perhaps
be careless of other people's property, will certainly be
careful of their own, and will see to it that none but a
deserving person shall receive my money, if he is to receive
theirs as well. Accordingly, I would have you come to an
agreement, and band yourselves together, and derive addi-
tional spirit from me, who am desirous that the sum which
I shall have to contribute may be as large as possible.
You can confer nothing more desirable on your children,
or more grateful on your own neighbourhood. Let those
who are born here be educated here, and from their very
infancy let them grow accustomed to love and to inhabit
their native soil. And I pray that you may introduce
teachers of such repute that this will be a source to which
neighbouring towns will resort for learning, and that, just
as now your children flock to other places, so strangers
may soon flock to this place."
(trans. J.D. Lewis
Turns out the actual quotation comes from Betty Radice's translation of the Epistulae
... so outside of the dating problems, I guess we can give this one close to full marks.FORGOTTEN LESSONS ORAL PRESENTATION DELIVERED TO THE CONFERENCE ON RETHINKING SCHOOL GOVERNANCE
(School Choices)Historical data about school control that might surprise
(Denver Education Reform Examiner)
ante diem xvii kalendas januarias
ca. 250 A.D. -- martyrdom of Albina
Another one that's in the incipient stage but which I suspect will be filling newsprint across the globe. Scientist types have taken all sorts of artistic images of Cleopatra and used them as the basis for creating an image of what Cleopatra really looked like. Seems reasonable ... an attractive woman of mixed ethnicity. The Daily Mail has the best photos at the time of this writing:Sorry Liz, but THIS is the real face of Cleopatra
(Daily Mail)Cleopatra's first true image recreated
(Times of India)Elizabeth Taylor's Cleopatra 'nowhere near reality'
(Telegraph)First Accurate Depiction of Cleopatra Created?
You'll want to check out Rick Darby's post on this:Why, Cleopatra, I hardly recognized you
This one is just starting to hit the English press, but judging from the coverage by AP, it isn't going to get much better. German archaeologists have found evidence of a battle involving the Romans, in northern Germany -- specifically, near Kalefeld-Oldenrode (124 miles north of the Teutoburg Forest), and, get this, is dated to the early third century A.D.! The dating is based on a "well worn" coin of Commodus. Some 600 artifacts have been found, mostly weaponry (spears, arrowheads, catapult bolts and the like) and the German coverage acknowledges that the Germans of the time did make use of Roman weaponry, but there appears to be definite evidence of a 'Roman' presence.
Although the German archaeologists apparently held a press conference on all this, they don't appear to have generated very many quotes. Roman battlefield discovered in northern Germany
(AP)600 Roman artifacts found in northern Germany, Romans may have stayed longer than thought
(Chicago Tribune)600 Roman artifacts found in northern Germany, Romans may have stayed longer than thought
(LA Times)Photo Gallery: Archaeologists Find Roman Battlefield in Germany
(Speigel)Römisches Schlachtfeld am Harzrand entdeckt
(IDW)Hier metzelten Römer die Germanen nieder
(Welt)Forscher entdecken Schlachtfeld
(FR)Römisches Schlachtfeld in Niedersachsen entdeckt
(BZ)Römisches Schlachtfeld entdeckt
(n-tv)Archäologische Sensationsfunde präsentiert
(WLZ-FZ)Romans fought in north in 3rd century, dig shows
(Guardian)Archaeologists Find Roman-Era Battlefield in Germany
(Spiegel)Archaeologists Discover Roman Battlefield in Northern Germany
(DW-World)Ancient Battlefield Hints at Roman Persistence
(Science Now -- best English coverage so far)Discovery of Roman Battlefield Poses Historical Riddle
(Spiegel)Vorstoß nach der Varusschlacht
(Focus ... tip o' the pileus to S Karcher for this and the previous link)Roms vergessener Feldzug
(LZ)Ancient Roman battlefield uncovered in Germany
(Boston Herald)Roman battlefield unearthed
ante diem xviii kalendas januarias
Consualia -- a festival in honour of Consus
which likely involved a similar celebration to that held on August 21 (i.e. horse races, chariot races, and garlanding of the steeds)
337 B.C. -- death of Timoleon
(according to one reckoning)
19 B.C. -- dedication of the Ara Fortunae Reducis
37 A.D. -- birth of the future emperor Nero
130 A.D. -- birth of the future co-emperor Lucius Verus
I thought there would have been more chat about this one in the blogosphere, but unless I've missed it (and probably have) the response to Hershel Shanks' suggestion a couple of weeks ago in regards to how to deal with the trafficking of antiquities has been a resounding round of indifference. Shanks begins by pointing out the two "stupid" and "stupider" policies of assorted archaeological organizations in regards to illicit antiquities, to wit:
1. Don't buy looted antiquities (presumably directed at museums).
2. Don't allow scholars to research/publish looted objects (not sure about that one).
Here's what Shanks suggests:
Compete with the looters. Professional archaeologists should professionally excavate areas subject to looting—and fund their excavations by selling the “loot.” After all, we are assured by Giorgio Gligoris, “profits are phenomenal.” The “loot” from these professional excavations must, of course, be available for study and publication. And we will always know where they are in an open market—just as we know about the location of a Renoir painting.
Moreover, much of this professionally excavated loot will end up in museums. Indeed, museums will be some of the prime purchasers—with money provided by their benefactors. Other pieces will later be donated to museums by private purchasers. Such gifts provide the donor with a tax deduction in many countries—a nice inducement.
Wow ... that's a solution that may have worked back in the days of Howard Carter, but there seems to be a glaring bit of blindness here ... there ain't an archaeological nation on earth which doesn't lay claim to anything dug out of its soil -- and that's backed by all sorts of legislation and UN conventions yadda yadda yadda. So even if archaeologists could sell what they dug up, the country of origin would have a prior claim to it.
Actually, when I began reading Shanks' article I was kind of hoping he'd propose something Portable Antiquities Scheme-like and in theory, that would be a better option and potentially could work. You could even insert professional archaeologists into the mix, although I think there needs to be some formal definitions of what/who a professional archaeologist is ...First Person: A Radical Proposal
I did miss Paul Barford's postings (and the subsequent discussion in comments on this):"Stupid archaeologists": why don't they join the looters?
Long-time readers of rogueclassicism will possibly recall that I sometimes bewail the apparently total lack of knowledge of Classical references in our political system up here in the Great White North. Accordingly, it is worth noting that the one recurring Classical image which we do see in Canadian politics is the so-called 'night of the long knives', which is something unpopular leaders of political parties are said to undergo when their party wants to dump them. Most recently, this happened to Liberal leader Stephane Dion and the CBC has an editorial by Don Murray which evokes the image clearly in a piece commenting on leadership changes in Canada and France:
The examples of Brutus, 2052 years ago, and Dion, just days back, illustrate the dangers of coups d'etat, both attempted and successful.
Brutus, we know from Plutarch, was a plodding, honest opposition senator. He became concerned, then angry, at the arrogant ways and brazen usurping of power by Caesar. So he helped form a coalition of knife-wielders.
The coalition dispatched Caesar on the Ides of March. But Brutus was an honourable man, at least in Shakespeare's view, and, rather than bury the body in the dead of night, he allowed a public funeral and a funeral oration by Marc Antony.
The speech was a masterpiece of truth, half-lies and spin. Brutus and the coalition lost the PR war. There were riots, followed by civil war. Brutus chose the wrong side.
His army faced defeat, he faced capture. According to Plutarch, he said, "we must fly, not with our feet but with our hands." His hands took a blade and pushed it into his chest.
I think Mr. Murray is thinking more of Brutus via Shakespeare rather than Plutarch, but it doesn't really matter. For the record, I am fully aware of the 'night of the long knives' connection to events in Nazi Germany
and in the UK in 1962
. In Canada, however, there always seems to be this 'stab in back'/betrayal a la Brutus aspect to it ... I first heard of it in connection to the time when Dalton Camp was operating to get John Diefenbaker
removed as leader of the Conservatives back in 1966 (although I heard of it much later, of course ... there was a book by that title, as I recall). The phrase was also used by folks in Quebec after being 'left out' in the so-called "Kitchen Accord"
when assorted premiers and other politicos were working on the patriation of the Canadian Constitution back in 1981. It's actually one of those semi-regularly-heard expressions when a Canadian leader's position is in jeopardy ... "the knives are out for ...".The danger of being Brutus
WRITING AS MATERIAL PRACTICE:
Surface, substance and medium
The UCL Institute of Archaeology Annual Conference
Friday 15 – Sunday 17 May 2009
Dr. Kathryn E. Piquette and Prof. Ruth Whitehouse
Whereas content meaning has been the main focus of research on written
evidence, this international conference seeks to explore past
'writing' and related symbolic modes in relation to material practice,
performance and sensory experience. Papers are sought that, through
case studies, will emphasise the artefactual nature of writing—the
ways in which materials, techniques, colour, scale, orientation or
visibility inform the creation of inscribed objects and landscapes,
and structure subsequent engagement, perception and meaning making.
Please submit paper proposals of 500 words to
materialityofwriting At googlemail.com by 31 December 2008. Abstracts
should be submitted as word files and include your name, title,
institutional affiliation (if appropriate) and full contact details.
If you do not plan to give a paper but would like to register your
interest, please get in touch!
The many possible engagements with our theme include but are not limited to:
Defining 'Writing': How do we know when writing is 'writing'? Is this
category appropriate for characterising past forms of graphical
Scribal Technology: How do materials, tools and technological choices
relate to the expression and meaning of writing?
Inscribed Object Worlds: How does the substance, surface, shape or
size of an object inform the expression and meaning of writing
Inscribed Landscapes: In what ways do 'natural' and built landscapes
construct and influence written meanings?
Writing as Embodied Practice and Performance: How does the physical
expression of writing inform physical and sensory engagements?
Hidden and Absent Writing: What is the social significance of writing
if it is invisible or absent?
Methodology: What practice- and materials-based methods can be
developed for the study of past writing, from documentation during
excavation, analysis, interpretation and publication, to teaching and
• Papers will be pre-circulated 2 weeks in advance and all
participants will be expected to read pre-papers before hand.
• On the day, each paper will be allotted a 40 minute time slot: 20
minutes for outlining main points of the pre-paper and 20 minutes
dedicated to discussion.
• We are intending to offer an edited volume of conference papers to
Left Coast Press for publication, for inclusion in their Institute of
An interesting item from Discovery News coming from a recent conference in Naples ... a team of volcanologists have reconstructed the last hours of the lives of the inhabitants of the house of Julius Polybius in Pompeii. In the words of one of the team, Claudio Scarpati, when the eruption occurred:
"At that moment, Polybius' house was inhabited by 12 people, including a young woman in advanced pregnancy. They decided to remain in the house, most likely because it was safer for the pregnant woman. Given the circumstances, it was the right strategy."
"Contrary to what was previously believed, a large number of deaths occurred in the first hours of the eruption. Many skeletons of those who tried to escape show fractured skulls, meaning that they died from collapsing roofs or large fragments falling from the eruptive column."
It apparently took a while for Polybius' roof to collapse, but when it began to do so, the inhabitants took refuge at the rear of the house. Mitochondrial DNA analysis showed that six of the victims were related; interestingly, two of those also were victims of spina bifida (something I'd never heard of before; essentially this was a family which probably did not want to leave family members behind).
"There were three adult males, three adult females of various ages, four boys, one girl, one child and one fetus in the last month of intrauterine life. The fetus was associated with the skeleton of a young (16 to 18-year-old) female."Pompeii Family's Final Hours Reconstructed
"The position of some skeletons on the volcanic deposit indicates that some individuals were lying on beds at the moment of death."
"The first pyroclastic currents arrived from the north and overtopped the rear part of the house. The currents moved into the garden and advanced toward the front of the house. No escape was possible for the people there. The ash reached every corner in the house and suffocated its inhabitants."
(Discovery News)Podcast: "Pompeii, The Last Hours"
(Related podcast at Archaeorama)Pompeii family's final hours reconstructed
(MSNBC)How Vesuvius Buried a Pompeian Family
(Softpedia)Scientists reconstruct Pompeii family's final hours
On the skeletal remains:Skeletal material from the house of C iulius polybius in Pompeii, 79 AD
(Abstract from Human Evolution)
More on the House of Julius Polybius:Casa di Julius Polybius
(Stoa)The House of Julius Polybius
(Video and 3d reconstruction at the Archaeology Channel)
ante diem iii idus decembres
Agonalia -- the fourth and final occurrence of this festival in the Roman calendar; like all instances, the Rex Sacrorum would sacrifice a ram in the Regia, but on this occasion, the sacrifice was apparently in honour of Sol Indiges.
Septimontium -- a somewhat obscure festival apparently originally only celebrated by the 'montani' (i.e. the 'hill-dwellers') which involved sacrifices on each of Rome's seven hills.
287 -- martyrdom of Fuscian
302 -- martyrdom of Pontian
Or at least that's the spin being put on a discovery at Magdala of jars containing some sort of unguent. The jar was found in mud at the bottom of a pool in a "thermal complex" being excavated by archaeologists from the Franciscan academic society Studium Biblicum Franciscanum.
Father Stefano De Luca dixit:
''The mud-filled condition of the site allowed us to find these truly extraordinary objects, which were intact and sealed and still contain greasy substances''
''We think these are balms and perfumes and if chemical analysis confirms this, they could be similar to those used by Mary Magdalene in the Gospels to anoint the feet of Christ''.
''Even if Mary Magdalene was not the woman who anointed the feet of Christ, the discovery of the unguentary vases at Magdala is extremely important.'
''We have in our hands the cosmetic products from the time of Jesus. It's very likely that the woman who anointed Christ's feet used these products, or ones similar in organic composition and quality.''
The actual contents of the jars await further analysis.Italians find 'Jesus's foot salve'
(ANSA)RITROVATO IL 'PROFUMO DELLA MADDALENA'
(ANSA)Perfume vials from Christ’s era unearthed
(MSNBC)Perfume vials from Christ's era unearthed in Israel
(Reuters India)Perfume vials from Christ's era unearthed in Israel
(Yahoo)Vase discovery linked to Mary Magdalene
(Telegraph)Ancient perfume vials found
A Reuters report is circulating in various forms around the net about the dig at a bath site at the Villa Vignacce on the outskirts of Rome. The complex is believed to have origianlly belonged to one Quintus Servilius Pudens, a friend of Hadrian. There aren't many details, actually, but we do read of the discovery of a marble head which appears to represent Asclepius or Zeus Serapide. A coloured-glass mosaic was also found (alas, no photo of this).
Archaeologist Dora Cirone dixit:
"It's very unusual to find such well-preserved remains in Rome because most of the sites have usually been plundered already and the artifacts stolen." Rare artifacts uncovered in Roman baths dig
"Luckily, much of the remains here were found buried below floor level, and no one had laid their hands on it."
(Reuters India ... includes a small slide show)Rare artifacts uncovered in Roman baths dig
(Yahoo)Rare artifacts uncovered in Roman baths dig
Previous coverage:Archaeologists dig up 2nd-century bath complex in Rome
(IHT ... mirrored at rogueclassicism
Another in our "Alive and Well" series:
Fr. Dwight Campbell stands in the front of the second-floor classroom wearing black cassock and white collar.St. John Vianney students learn Latin
"Medicus," he says to two-dozen students in school uniforms. "What do you think that means?"
This year, Campbell began teaching Latin to seventh and eighth-grade students at St. John Vianney School in Northlake. While Latin remains the official language of the Roman Catholic Church, the school is more interested in how knowing Latin will assist its students in their understanding of other languages.
"It will help them study one of the popular languages such as French, Italian or Spanish," Campbell said. "It's good for the English language as well. Many of our words are derived from the Latin language."
Stephanie Ondrla, an eighth-grader, agrees.
"Some words, they come from Latin," Ondrlad said. "The gift is dona or donate. Rosa is rose."
Latin developed near the River Tiber around the eighth or ninth century BC. As the Romans conquered much of the world, they brought their language with them through Europe and the Mediterranean.
While the Roman Empire began to crumble around 250 to 550 AD, Latin remained a language for the educated in the west. It was also adopted as the official language of the Roman Catholic Church. Today Latin is still used in philosophy, medicine and law.
It's a bit challenging to learn.
"It's a more technical language," Campbell said. "In Latin, the nouns change from male, female and neuter. In Latin, the verb comes at the end of a sentence."
As a dead language, it's tough to use Latin to express contemporary concepts like basketball or hip hop lyrics, though Campbell says its possible.
"There are modern lexicons in Latin," Campbell said. "It requires the creation of words."
Ondrla likes learning Latin partially because it makes her unique.
"Not many people get a chance to learn Latin and we do," Ondrla said. "It's kind of fun to learn something else."
Hadrian's Wall Heritage Ltd. has acquired a significant chunk of land at Camp Farm, Cumbria with plans to excavate a Roman fort there and the associated vicus.Secrets of important Roman site set to be unveiled
They're looking for Heritage Lottery Fund(ing) to help preserve the recently-discovered Colchester Circus.COUNCIL IN HLF BID TO PRESERVE BRITAIN'S FIRST ROMAN CIRCUS
(24 Hour Museum)
Another metal-detectorist-found coin hoard has been declared treasure (not sure which one this is).Happy Days Again for Ancient Roman Hoard
ante diem iv idus decembres
The tribunes of the plebs would enter their office on this day during the Roman Republic.
ca 300 A.D. -- martyrdom of Carpophorus
Archaeologists are quite excited over the discovery of what might be a complex of buildings, including a "pagan" Roman temple, a nymphaeum and a villa in Notts. It is only the second "pagan" Roman temple to be found in the area and the first in 40+ years. Ursilla Spence, senior archaeological officer dixit:
"This is a monumental discovery. I have never seen Roman archaeology looking like that in Notts.
"It is starting to re-write our understanding of Notts in the Roman period.
"You don't expect to see a wall of this masonry. It looks as if it could be a pagan Roman temple. Not only are they using these huge blocks but they were using smooth faces. It is very much a grand building.
"We certainly were not expecting anything like this.
"We had nothing to say it was there. To us it is new and very exciting."
"We think it's a whole complex. We have got most of the elements. I am expecting another structure to turn up this week."
Bryn Walters, director and secretary of the Association for Roman Archeology, added:
"This could change the way the history [of Southwell] is looked at.Roman temple unearthed in Notts
"It is interesting that there might be something else and has not been found yet.
"If there is a temple, there is going to be something else not far away."
(Evening Post)Remains of Roman temple unearthed in Nottinghamshire
Adrian Murdoch has links to previous coverage over at Bread and Circuses:Roman temple at Southwell, Notts
I just noticed amongst my mixed up inbox that John Lock sent me notice of the excavators' website as well:Southwell Archaeology- the site of Southwell Community Archaeology Group (SCAG)
... along with a note:
Members of Southwell Community Archaeology Group [SCAG] and the wider community are absolutely delighted that these finds are of such great significance. The challenge is to continue to insist on a full site investigation and then a visionary way forward to fully promote and preserve the site in perpetuity. In particular we are strongly promoting the case for totally excluding from any development the western strip, part of which is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and taking that part into public ownership as a continuation of a "green finger" through Southwell.
I've never been a Meryl Streep fan but an excerpt from Variety might make me at least glance at the DVD version when it comes out:
Streep's Sister Aloysius is definitely "old school," a quality Flynn attempts to bring up to date, unfortunately in vain.Meryl Streep, 'Doubt'
"She's a classicist," Shanley explains. "She's somebody who's read Plato, who's thought about the Greek city-states. She has an educational philosophy, is a serious person and isn't there to be liked but to get the job done."
A small hoard of 13 bronze coins found near Ellesmere has been declared treasure trove.Hoard of bronze Roman coins declared treasure trove
Some recently-found Roman remains from Malaga have been deemed less important than the esplanade-construction they have been hindering and can be covered over again.Roman remains in Málaga to be buried again
A portion of Brading Roman Villa which was on view for the past while has been covered over again for preservation purposes.Villa dig site goes under cover
(Isle of Wight County Press)
ante diem v idus decembres
297 A.D. -- martyrs of Samosata
303 A.D. -- martyrdom of Leocadia
1667 -- birth of William Whiston
(translator of Josephus, although better known for other reasons)
1717 -- birth of Johann Winckelmann
A year or so ago we had a couple of reports on the discovery of an Illyrian shipwreck which, since that time, was apparently being connected to Illyrian piracy. A lengthy followup piece in Science Daily (drawing on a piece from the University of Oslo's Apollon magazine) provides an interesting update. Further investigation of the site -- the ancient Desilo -- suggests that it was a major trading site/port. Located some 20 km in from the coast on the Neretva river, the archaeologists have found remains of a harbour, sunken ships, and plenty of broken amphorae, all of which don't really lend themselves to the 'pirate base' interpretation.
According to the archaeologists, Marina Prusac and Adam Lindhagen (inter alia):
“There is much to suggest that far more is hidden in the mud. We’ve only scraped the surface so far.”
“There certainly were pirate activities along the coast, but we thought it rather odd that the pirates were so far inland and so near the important Roman colony of Narona. In our opinion Desilo might have been a trading centre.”
"Desilo is situated at the innermost point of a quiet bay where it was natural to transfer goods to smaller boats, so the place is perfect for an inner trading harbour. We knew that if we found a harbour it would represent a rare example of a meeting point in this impenetrable landscape"
On the remains of a wall of a polygonal structure which is being interpreted as a trading post:
“The wall was solid and stable. The other side was not so well constructed and most likely functioned as a dam. There were a number of mooring holes placed at the same height on the wall, almost like a horizontal band.”
“This find can only be interpreted as indicating the presence of a settlement that presumably existed for several hundred years or even longer before the trade between the Illyrians and the Romans started.”
“Thanks to the clay and the fresh water the objects are surprisingly well preserved. Salt water would have destroyed the wood.”
Analysis of the pottery suggest the amphorae came from the Dalmatian coastal area:
“Imports from the Roman colony Narona must therefore have been far more extensive than we previously thought.”
“In exchange for wine the Romans may have bought salt, metal, leather and slaves. The price could have been the same as in the north. According to Julius Caesar (100-44 B.C.), the Gauls were happy to swap a slave for a 25-litre amphora of wine.”
“We don’t know why the boats were sunk and the pitchers destroyed. It’s absurd to think that the Romans sank almost a thousand amphorae containing their own wine. The amphorae may have been dumped when they’d been emptied. But animal bones, horse teeth, Illyrian pottery and weapons like axes and spear tips have also been found in the sea. So it’s possible that they made ritual offerings to the sea – a well-known phenomenon in Scandinavia during the Iron Age. If we can confirm that this is the case, then this is the first example we have heard of from the Illyrian area.”
Apollon Magazine adds this interesting bit:
While Professor Vasilj was of the view that all the boats were sunk at the same time in a Roman campaign against Illyrian pirates, the Norwegian archaeologists have found indications that the boats were sunk over a period of almost a hundred years. Their evidence is based on the dating of the wine amphorae.
Not sure why they don't seem to be thinking of the semi-regular storm-in-the-harbour situation a la the Pisa Shipwrecks ... actually, it would be interesting to see if there is any correlation between sinking of Pompeii ships and these ones, no?
Previous coverage:Bosnian archaeologists discover fabled ships
We also have a brief item from Science Daily
, no longer there, but preserved at RC ...
cf:A Maritime Pompeii
Source:Unique Archaeological Discovery In Balkan: World’s First Illyrian Trading Post Found
(Science Daily)The world’s first Illyrian trading post found
(Apollon ... a few photos)
Adnkronos is reporting the discovery of a 'luxury bath' building in Ennetbaden, Switzerland. The baths are believed to have been part of the Aquae Helveticae frequented by Roman soldiers stationed at Vindonissa (Windisch).
The building was apparently rather sumptuous, with a nice hypocaust system, frescoes, and mosaics and the walls were covered with marble. Evidence of expensive accoutrements was also found, including silver plated bronze tray and other items, including a purse containing 30 silver coins dating to the third century A.D..
It is speculated that the bath complex was destroyed by fire in 260 A.D. when the Alemanni came to town.
A similar report from SF Tagesschau adds some comments on the discovery of some later burials (7th century)ARCHEOLOGIA: SVIZZERA,SCOPERTO LUSSUOSO BAGNO TERMALE ROMANO
(Romagna Oggi)Vergessener Friedhof im Aargau entdeckt
ante diem vi idus decembres
Rites in honour of Tiberinus and Gaia -- not a lot is known about these rites; Tiberinus had a temple on the Tiber island and presided over the Tiber (of course); Gaia seems to have originally given the Campus Martius (a.k.a. Campus Tiberinus) to the Roman people.
65 B.C. -- birth of the poet Horace
(Quintus Horatius Flaccus)
Archaeologists have found a major pottery workshop site which specialized in the mass production of 'name-brand' lamps for the ancient Roman world. According to Discovery.com, a dump near the site contained items marked with the Strobili, Communis, Phoetaspi, Eucarpi and Fortis 'labels'. The brand names have been found in all parts of the Roman Empire and Fortis was especially 'trendy' (their word) right into the second century A.D.. In regards to the latter, it has long been suspected that Fortis was based in Mutina/Modena, and now we have strong evidence of such.
Donato Labate (the archaeologist in charge of the dig) said (inter alia):
"We found a large ancient Roman dumping filled with pottery scraps. There were vases, bottles, bricks, but most of all, hundreds of oil lamps, each bearing their maker's name."
"It was indeed a commercial success. Fortis gained such a name for its lamps that its stamp was copied and reproduced throughout the empire. It was one of the earliest examples of pirated brands."
"We know now for sure that Fortis came from Mutina. The city was a major pottery center, a cluster of pottery workshops, as the variety of brand names on the newly discovered items testifies."
Just to give you an idea of how far afield a Fortis lamp might go, back in 2001 one was found at Carmarthenshire (Wales); photo and report at the BBC
Sources:Ancient Roman Oil Lamp 'Factory Town' Found
(Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News)Ancient Roman oil lamp 'factory town' found in Italy
(New Kerala)Ancient Roman oil lamp brand 'from Modena'
One of the things I was busy with this past weekend was dealing with the preliminaries for moving rogueclassicism to a different blogging platform -- my ISP is undergoing changes and it seems a good time to migrate to something like Wordpress.com. One of the advantages of this is it will allow me to consolidate all the archives in a single, searchable place but it will take time as none of the blogging platforms I have used for rc have a script to import things easily into Wordpress (I'm looking at a transition taking a few months ... I'm paid with my ISP up to May, so there's no rush). In any event, if you want a bit of a sneak preview you can check it out
(don't bookmark it; it's going to have a different domain name ... I'll probably fiddle with colours etc. incessantly over the next while as well).
Rites in honour of Faunus: essentially a rural ritual involving an offering of wine and a kid on a turf altar to mark the end of the year's toil and ensure the continued protection of the sheep.
302 A.D. -- martyrdom of Gratus
Interesting item from the Independent
A research report, published by the Council for British Archaeology yesterday, reveals that a pagan priest from Yorkshire was buried in the late 3rd century wearing what was probably full ritual regalia including a five-strand necklace of 600 jet beads, a jet bracelet, a brown shale armlet and a bronze anklet.
He was buried immediately opposite a large stone building – possibly a temple.
Investigations have been run by English Heritage and other archaeological organisations at the site, Bainesse near Catterick in North Yorkshire, over the past 20 years. They suggest that the building lay at the heart of a settlement strung out along more than half a mile of the ancient Roman Dere Street, which is now the A1 trunk road.
Experts in Roman religion believe that the Yorkshire cleric belonged to the officially sanctioned and important religious cult of a mother goddess called Cybele, who originated in Anatolia, present-day Turkey.
The cult was based on the great mother goddess and her toy-boy lover Attis who, guilt-ridden for having sexually betrayed her, went mad, castrated himself and, consequently, died.
The cult's tradition dictated that its priests had similarly to mutilate themselves in painful solidarity with Attis, often using a piece of flint or a sharp fragment of pottery. Ritual clamps were then used to staunch the blood, but Cybelean priests often died in the process.
Indeed, the Romano-British transvestite eunuch from Yorkshire probably perished from the wounds inflicted in just such an act. Osteological examination of his skeleton shows he died in his early 20s.
The ritual self-castration, which was performed in a state of dance-induced ecstasy, was known in the Roman calendar as the "day of blood" and described by at least one Roman emperor as the "sacred harvest".
The deity Cybele eventually became a universal goddess, viewed as mother of the gods, the goddess of everything from peace to war, from fertility to nature and from law to disease.
In some respects, the cult of Cybele had certain similarities with early Christianity. Attis sacrificed himself and was resurrected from the dead. In the 4th century Attis became identified as a sun god, as was Christ at the time. And through Attis and Cybele, as in Christianity, the cult's followers were guaranteed immortality of the soul. The concept of priestly celibacy was also a common feature.
Some 40 metres (130ft) from where the Yorkshire priest was buried was the substantial stone building. Its proximity to the burial, as well as an important feature of the structure – a subterranean chamber reached by a flight of stone stairs – suggests the building may well have been a temple of Cybele. Cybelean temples were unusual in having underground rooms, one for secret rites and another in which individuals wishing to achieve spiritual immortality bathed in the blood of ritually slaughtered sacred bulls.
Other religious objects found near by include a bronze statue of a Roman god, a pair of bone dolphins, symbolising immortality, three small altars and a potentially ritual whetstone for sharpening cutting implements found immediately adjacent to the underground chamber. Inside the underground room itself were the remains of feasts held at least 16 centuries ago.
There's an article in the European Journal of Human Genetics
making another link with Anatolia for the Etruscans ... here's the abstract (fwiw):
The origin of the Etruscans (the present day Tuscany, Italy), one of the most enigmatic non-Indo-European civilizations, is under intense controversy. We found novel genetic evidences on the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) establishing a genetic link between Anatolia and the ancient Etruria. By way of complete mtDNA genome sequencing of a novel autochthonous Tuscan branch of haplogroup U7 (namely U7a2a), we have estimated an historical time frame for the arrival of Anatolian lineages to Tuscany ranging from 1.1plusminus0.1 to 2.3plusminus0.4 kya B.P.
... not sure about the dating there; even on the 'outside' end, it seems a bit short, no?
gods of SMALL THINGS
Ure Museum, Department of Classics, University of Reading
21-22 September 2009
Small and portable objects functioned in a variety of non-commercial contexts in the ancient Mediterranean. What was the importance, for example, of knucklebones and mass-produced vases deposited in caves? Such objects are often fragmentary and/or overlooked, even by excavators. Some dedications at sacred sites, sanctuaries and temples, on the other hand, have received considerable attention as artefacts of exquisite craftsmanship and/or evidence of mercantile activity. But how can these items and assemblages of them, whether or not they were used as offerings, inform us about the relationships between humans, their ancestors and gods?
This 2-day international conference at the University of Reading will investigate the cumulative value of non-prestige ex votos, through the following questions:
• What does the mobility and portability of an object contribute to its object biography?
• Do local traditions favour the dedication of small, personal and/or mundane objects?
• How do such small objects relate to the human body and its participation in travel, e.g. pilgrimage?
• Could small dedications reflect a continuum between the religious and domestic sphere?
We seek papers on a range of cultural manifestations of small things, from the prehistoric through the Hellenistic periods. We particularly invite topics considering such manifestations in the Greek Mediterranean, including Cyprus, the Black Sea, the Near East, and North Africa. Abstracts of ca. 300 words are invited from scholars, including postgraduates students in archaeology, ancient history and related disciplines. Please send abstracts to one of the conference organisers, noted below, before 15 January 2009.
Marianne Bergeron (m.e.bergeron AT reading.ac.uk)
Amy C. Smith (a.c.smith AT reading.ac.uk)
Katerina Volioti (k.volioti AT reading.ac.uk)
ante diem iii nonas decembres
Possible date for rites in honour of the bona dea: essentially private rituals for Roman women only held in the house of a consul or praetor and attended by the Vestal Virgins and assorted upper class types. The actual date does not appear to have been 'fixed' and, of course, this ritual was 'crashed' by P. Clodius (dressed as a woman) in 62 B.C. with all sorts of nasty spinoffs, not least of which was the Julius Caesar's divorce from his wife Pompeia.
313 A.D. -- death of the retired emperor Diocletian
Two olive branches buried by a Minoan-era eruption of the volcano on the island of Thera (modern-day Santorini) have enabled precise radiocarbon dating of the catastrophe to 1613 BC, with an error margin of plus or minus 10 years, according to two researchers who presented conclusions of their previously published research during an event on Tuesday at the Danish Archaeological Institute of Athens.
Speaking at an event entitled "The Enigma of Dating the Minoan Eruption - Data from Santorini and Egypt", the study's authors, Dr. Walter Friedrich of the Danish University of Aarhus and Dr. Walter Kutschera of the Austrian University of Vienna, said data left by the branch of an olive tree with 72 annular growth rings was used for dating via the radiocarbon method, while a second olive branch -- found just nine metres away from the first -- was unearthed in July 2007 and has not yet been analysed.
The researchers said both olive tree branches were found near a Bronze Age man-made wall, giving the impression that they were part of an olive grove situated near a settlement very close to the edge of Santorini's current world-famous Caldera. The two trees were found standing when unearthed, and apparently had been covered by the Theran pumice immediately after the volcano's eruption.
According to the two scientists, other radiocarbon testing from archaeological locations on Santorini and the surrounding islands, as well as at Tel el-Dab'a in the Nile delta in Egypt, corroborate the dating based on the olive tree.
On the other hand, as the two researchers pointed out, archaeological evidence linked with the Historical Dating of Ancient Egypt indicate that the Thera eruption must have occurred after the start of the New Kingdom in Egypt in 1530 BC.
The two researchers said their find (olive tree) represents a serious contradiction between the results of the scientific method (radiocarbon dating) and scholarly work in the humanities (history-archaeology), with both sides holding strong arguments to support their conclusions.
The radiocarbon dating places the cataclysmic eruption, blamed for heralding the end to the Minoan civilisation, a century earlier than previous scientific finds.
The eruption and the subsequent devastation throughout the Aegean has long piqued researchers' interest, with many scholars pointing to Plato's reference of the "lost continent of Atlantis" on vague memories, passed down generation to generation in the ancient Greek world, of the catastrophe.
We should note that this 1613 date has for a while been central (plus or minus) to Sturt Manning's thesis
that Aegean chronology needs to be redated ...
iv nonas decembres
c. 255 A.D. -- martyrdom of Hippolytus
c. 256 A.D. -- martyrdom of Aurelia
259 A.D. -- martyrdom of Pontian
... a little cluster from the persecution under Valerian
From the Guardian
... forgot to mention this one yesterday:
It was hailed as an archeological discovery of global importance showing, among other things, the oldest representation of Christ on the cross and proof that ancient Egyptian influences had survived deep in Roman Spain.
For traditional Basques the pictures, symbols and words found scraped onto pieces of third century pottery dug up near the town of Nanclares, in northern Spain, included miraculous evidence that their unique language of Euskara was far older than ever thought. Eighteen months ago the dig's director, Eliseo Gil, claimed that some finds at the Roman town known as Veleia were on par with those at Pompeii or Rome itself. Basque nationalists bristled with pride. This archeological jewel gave them a far greater claim to a distinctive, millennial and Christian culture than they had dreamed possible.
Now a committee of experts has revealed those jewels to be fakes. "They are either a joke or a fraud," said Martín Almagro, a professor in prehistory from Madrid. "How has something like this been taken seriously for so long?" The hunt is on for an archeological fraudster who defaced fragments of third century pottery with fake graffiti.
The fraudster seems either to have buried the pieces or planted them in a laboratory where experts sifted through finds. The fakes left the first people to see them swooning.
The Calvary scene was hailed as both the nearest thing mankind had to a contemporary pictorial account of the crucifixion, and proof that Basques had been relatively early Christians.
The words in Euskera, if genuine, would have predated by 700 years the previous earliest known written form of the language. The hieroglyphics caused speculation about the existence of third century Egyptologists who might have created the inscriptions to teach children.
Now experts who have studied the pieces in depth say the fakes, some of which used modern glue, should have rung warning bells immediately. References were found to non-existent gods, 19th-century names and even to the 17th-century philosopher Descartes.
Words in Euskara used impossible spellings. The hieroglyphs included references to Queen Nefertiti which would have been almost impossible to make prior to the 19th century.
The Calvary scene, meanwhile, included the inscription "RIP". "It is a formula that can only be applied to people who are dead," Almagro told El Correo newspaper. "To say that Jesus Christ is dead would be a heresy. I haven't seen anything quite so funny in the whole history of Christianity."
Local authorities and sponsors from Basque public companies have poured hundreds of thousands of euros into excavations. Last week they closed the dig temporarily. Eliseo Gil did not return calls from the Guardian but sources said those in charge were not yet fully convinced that their finds were fake.
We did mention this find a couple of years ago
(which, interestingly, does not appear to have subsequently been picked up by major newswires or anything) ... the original article has moved
and, alas, the photos which accompanied it seem to have vanished ...
Corriere della Sera
is reporting that a major chunk (23 km!) of the Via Aemilia Scaura has been found ....
The VAS was an extension (of sorts) of the Via Aemilia
begun by Marcus Aemilius Lepidus and completed by Aemilius Scaurus. The latter's efforts 'connected' Pisae (Pisa) and Genua (Genoa).
From the Chicago Flame
... this can't be good:
While the recession and its resultant budgetary issues hang over all of UIC, they may loom greatest over the Department of Classics and Mediterranean Studies. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is considering severe cuts to this department, which would result in the termination of its major in Latin and all instruction in Ancient Greek.
To cut costs, the College of LAS just last year had been forced to suspend the major in Italian, though Italian's faculty had shrunk to a point where the major would've been difficult to sustain. However, the classics program has stayed strong over the years with a full faculty of professors dedicated to this often-overlooked department and its students.
Created almost four decades ago by a few professors from the English department, UIC's classics curriculum is Chicago's only publicly funded college program in the classics. It is staffed by a regular faculty of PhDs, as there is no graduate program. As with all classics programs, classes are small compared to other areas of study, which has made it a prime target for cutbacks. Yet according to Professor Nanno Marinatos, Ancient Greek costs "very little to the university," as over half the classes have been taught since 1981 as "free overload" by professors on their own unpaid time.
Although this year has been a strong one for the department with the some of the highest enrollment sizes and the most majors it has ever seen, the department appears to have seen the need to revitalize its program. There are plans underfoot to stress the program's connection with Chicago's Greek community and to appeal to Greek-speaking students at UIC, to whom the difficult language of Ancient Greek would be more accessible. Most importantly, it will stress the academic and professional success that many classics majors attribute to their study of Latin and Greek.
Ancient Greek, for example, would be an invaluable asset to a student learning the philosophy of Plato, the poetry of Homer, or the theology of the New Testament, as many of the concepts in the original texts would be lost in translation. Marinatos says, "Greek is a highly conceptual language. And reading these authors in the original language is very rewarding for my students. They can appreciate its immense beauty and the tightness of its thought."
Classics majors often move on to very diverse fields, proving the value of their learning experience as being beyond just an expanded vocabulary. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, students with majors in the classics have higher acceptance rates into medical schools than those with solely biology or other science majors. In addition, they consistently score the highest on the GRE and according to Harvard Magazine, are more successful at getting into law school than those with political science, economics, and pre-law degrees.
According to professor and department head John Ramsey, studying the classics helps students become "good problem solvers, think accurately, and make good arguments," as having to decipher another language and comprehend its grammar would force the reader to sharpen their own thoughts.
Though often overlooked, the Department of Classics and Mediterranean Studies provides a 'pillar of support' to the rest of the university as the interdisciplinary nature of its field often makes it overlap with other areas of study, such as history, literature and philosophy. In fact, understanding Ancient Greek is absolutely integral to the teaching of ancient philosophy, and there's often collaboration between the classics and philosophy departments at UIC.
UIC is a campus that prides itself in its commitment to cultural diversity, and it appears that there can be as much to learn from ancient Greek and Roman politics, architecture, oratories, and histories as there is from any other culture present at the university.
... hmmmm ... I wonder if we'll be revisiting the 1980s ...
rites in honour of Neptune (connected with an altar rededication or a temple dedication?)
rites in honour of Pietas near the Circus Flaminius (not much known about this one, apparently)
147 A.D. -- Annia Galeria Faustina, wife of the emperor Marcus Aurelius,
is given the title of Augusta
comes this tantalizing item:
The creator of CBS' red-hot police procedural "The Mentalist" has unfinished business in Italy.
Bruno Heller says he wants to produce a theatrical wrap-up to his critically beloved and prematurely canceled HBO drama "Rome."
"There is talk of doing a movie version," he said. "It's moving along. It's not there until it is there. I would love to round that show off."
The lavish period drama ran for two seasons on HBO, which co-produced the series with the BBC. With the final season of "The Sopranos" as its lead-in, the first season was solidly rated, but high production costs presented the network with a tough call on the pickup. HBO opted for a second season to help get more value from its initial investment but not a third, effectively canceling the show in summer 2006 before the second season debuted the following January. The "Rome" sets were destroyed, and the actors were released from their contracts, making the decision all but irreversible.
Season 2 of "Rome" was a surprise. Although slightly lower-rated than the first, the show did remarkably well without a "Sopranos" lead-in. The first season received four Emmy Awards, and another seven Emmys were heaped upon the final season.
Suddenly "Rome" was a Greek tragedy: a hit show with no future. The broadcast networks quickly snatched up the show's leads for their top fall pilots.
HBO executives have since admitted that axing the show probably was a mistake.
One seeming drawback to revisiting the show after its wrap is the demise of a key lead character, Lucius (Kevin McKidd). Yet Heller reveals that the character's off-camera fate was far from fatal.
"It was very deliberate that we saw him drifting away but didn't see him atop a funeral pyre," Heller said.
McKidd has a recurring role on ABC's "Grey's Anatomy." Fellow "Rome" star Ray Stevenson is in "The Punisher," and Polly Walker is cast in Sci Fi's "Caprica."
A feature revival of a defunct series always is considered difficult, though HBO succeeded with "Sex and the City," and Fox's "Arrested Development" is making progress toward the big screen. Heller would not discuss plot ideas, but the original series outline for "Rome" next called for the hedonistic Roman leaders to deal with the rise of a certain problematic rabbi -- a story line that would have put a whole new spin on the Greatest Story Ever Told and potentially bring "Rome" a larger audience.
"I discovered halfway through writing the second season the show was going to end," Heller said. "The second was going to end with the death of Brutus. Third and fourth season would be set in Egypt. Fifth was going to be the rise of the messiah in Palestine. But because we got the heads-up that the second season would be it, I telescoped the third and fourth season into the second one, which accounts for the blazing speed we go through history near the end. There's certainly more than enough history to go around."
This year’s programme is below:
12 January Dr Antony Eastmond (Courtauld Institute)
Consular Diptychs: Paradoxes and Problems
26 January Dr Caroline Vout (Cambridge)
Sculpture and Epic
9 February Lisa Shekede (Independent)
A Nabataean Wall Painting at Siq al-Barid, Petra: Context and Conservation
23 February Jason Mander (Oxford)
The Iconography of the Roman Family: Interpreting Portraits of Children in Funerary Contexts
9 March Ben Russell (Oxford)
The Good Shepherd Sarcophagus from Salona and the Stone Trade
11 May Amanda Claridge (Royal Holloway)
Reading Trajan's Column
All seminars held on Mondays at 5.30pm in Seminar Room 1, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London. For further info contact A.Claridge AT rhul.ac.uk or peter.stewart AT courtauld.ac.uk