Classical Doggy Massage?

An item about dog grooming in something called Medill Reports mentions, inter alia:

Canine myotherapy, or muscle therapy for dogs, has been around since for “as long as people have been petting their dogs,” said Sue Olmos, a certified myotherapist at Midstates Myotherapy and Sanchez’s former teacher. While massaging athlete dogs can date back to ancient Roman times, being certified in the discipline is fairly new.

Searching for a source for this, I find a related claim on another site:

Ancient Greek and Egyptian literature includes illustrations of massage being carried out on horses, dogs and cats.

I wonder what an ‘athlete dog’ dog would be in Roman times … whatever the case, don’t eat that Elmer …

Gadara Aqueduct

Spiegel has an extensive article on Mathias Döring’s efforts to enlighten the world about the Gadara aqueduct which he began following/discovered back in 2004 (I think). Here’s a bit of a tease from the article:

The tunnel was discovered by Mathias Döring, a hydromechanics professor in Darmstadt, Germany. Treading on moss-covered steps, he squeezes his way into dark caverns plastered with waterproof mortar. Greek letters are emblazoned on the walls, and bats dart through the air. “Sometimes we have to stop working — there isn’t enough oxygen,” says the project director.

Qanat Firaun, “Canal of the Pharaohs,” is what the locals call the weathered old pipeline. There are even rumors that gold is hidden in the underground passageways that run up to 80 meters (262 feet) below the surface.

Döring has found a better explanation. It turns out the aqueduct is of Roman origin. It begins in an ancient swamp in Syria, which has long since dried out, and extends for 64 kilometers on the surface before it disappears into three tunnels, with lengths of 1, 11 and 94 kilometers. The longest previously known underground water channel of the antique world — in Bologna — is only 19 kilometers long.

“Amazing” is the word that the researcher uses to describe the achievement of the construction crews, who were most likely legionnaires. The soldiers chiseled over 600,000 cubic meters of stone from the ground — or the equivalent of one-quarter of the Great Pyramid of Cheops. This colossal waterworks project supplied the great cities of the “Decapolis” — a league originally consisting of 10 ancient communities — with spring water. The aqueduct ended in Gadara, a city with a population of approximately 50,000. According to the Bible, this is where Jesus exorcized demons and chased them into a herd of pigs.

Folks who can read German might also be interested in the following (pdf) mentioned in the Wikipedia page on the Gadara aqueduct:

Mathias Döring: “Wasser für Gadara. 94 km langer Tunnel antiker Tunnel im Norden Jordaniens entdeckt”, Querschnitt, Vol. 21 (2007), pp. 24–35.

Josephus Invented the Essenes?

I suspect that — in the wake of this Golb business — media outlets will overreact by giving attention to every fringe theory … a case in point is Ha’aretz’s item on Rachel Elior’s views on the Essenes. While I think it is reasonable to question whether the Essenes were the ‘authors’ of the Dead Sea Scrolls, it seems kind of strange to deny the existence of the Essenes outright … here’s the conclusion of the Ha’aretz piece:

Elior says Josephus, inspired by descriptions of life in the Greek city of Sparta, made the Essenes up.

“There is no historical testimony in Hebrew or Aramaic of the Essenes. It is unthinkable that thousands of people lived abstemiously, contrary to Torah laws, and nobody wrote anything about it,” she said.

Then who did write the scrolls?

Elior says the Sadducees, a sect descending from the high priest Zadok, who anointed Solomon as king, are the true authors. The scrolls belonged to the Temple and were brought to the Dead Sea to protect them, she says.

“The scrolls speak in clear Hebrew of the priests, sons of Zadok. So why call them Essenes?” asked Elior. “That’s a distortion of history. It’s like saying that the State of Israel wasn’t established by Mapai, but by the Greens.”

The apocalyptic prophecy cited in the scrolls of a war between the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness is a war between Zadok’s sons, who served as high priests until 175 BCE, when they were ousted by the Hasmoneans, the descendants of Matityahu, she said. Prof. Hanan Eshel of Bar-Ilan University claims that denying the Essenes’ existence is groundless.

“Almost 70 scholars accept the statement that one of the Essenes’ groups lived in Qumran and some say we’re all morons and only they understand,” he said. One of the scrolls, “describes a small group of people living communally. Can anyone explain to me how this could have come from Jerusalem?”

Read what you like into the Wikipedia entry on Dr. Elior …  outside of the attitude toward private property, I’m really not sure how she gets a Spartan connection to what Josephus writes; see, e.g., Steve Mason’s translation of the main chunk of Josephus relating to the Essene way of life at Biblical Archaeology Review

UPDATE: Joseph Lauer alerts us to a much more detailed criticism of this theory by Dr. Stephen Goranson on the Biblical Studies list:

Classical Social Networking

I think I missed linking to this (png) mockup of  Vergil’s purported Facebook page (it’s generally billed as “the Aeneid on Facebook”), which was making the rounds of the lists again this week … synchronicitally,  in the wake of news that some juror at a trial was Twittering, CBS was speculating on other trials which might have been given such treatment:

Plato tweets the trial of Socrates (399 B.C.): “Should the old man plead insanity for refusing to do reverence to the gods? Analysis you can’t get from Xenophon.”

Seems to me that both these things — but especially the Facebook one — could have an interesting application as an assignment in a literature or history class for any subject (instead of the traditional ‘book report’). Set up a Facebook page for Catullus’ affair with Lesbia (or for a bunch of the poems in general); Julius Caesar Tweets the Gallic Wars … heck, Tacitus and his reputation for (almost frustrating) brevity must have been the protoTweeter, no?

Statues from Palmyra

Tantalizingly brief item from SANA:

The National Excavation and Restoration Expedition uncovered four limestone statues during excavations in a buried cemetery within a private real-estate property in the Palmyra oasis.

Two of the statues depict women clad in traditional Palmyran attire consisting of cloaks, long gowns and turban. The other two statues depict men, one of them with a young girl standing by him.

The Director of Palmyra Archeology and Museums said the statues are 60 cm high and 50 cm wide, and date back to the 2nd century AD. The statues have been moved to Palmyra National Museum.

… can’t find any more details …