Roman Remains in Denmark?

From the Copenhagen Post:

What was supposed to be a simple three week long research exercise for archaeology students at the University of Aarhus developed into a unique excavation project.

Remains of more than 200 bodies have been found at the dig site near Skanderborg in Jutland dating from around 2,000 years ago.

The Illerup River Valley was a deep lake measuring about 10 hectares during the Iron Age and archaeology digs have established that it was used as a major sacrificial site during that period.

The area, which is a popular location for archaeologists, is now a mixture of bog and meadow, much of which is subject to conservation laws.

The student dig began on 20 June and almost immediately began turning up human remains.

‘This was a defeated army that was sacrificed to the lake at the time. The majority of remains are large arm and leg bones, skulls, shoulder blades and pelvises,’ said Ejvind Hertz, curator from Skanderborg Museum and excavation leader.

According to Hertz, the 200 victims found so far are just a small fragment of what lies in the area, which has only been partially excavated, and estimates suggest that the figure could run to well over one thousand.

The valley was first drained in 1950 and subsequently studied intensely by archaeology teams between 1975 and 1985, when around 15,000 weapons and military objects were discovered.

Hertz said the latest find is unique as it is unusual to find the bones of sacrificial victims without their weapons.

‘It is very unusual as there has been no other find of this size before in Western Europe,’ Hertz told The Copenhagen Post.

Hertz believes the new discovery points to the river valley being used as a major sacrificial site.

‘You could consider the Illerup river valley as a central holy place. There was one god that victims were sacrificed to and another god further along the valley that received sacrificed weapons.’

The excavation was extended to four weeks and archaeologists are in the process of removing the bodies. Hertz said they hope the dig will act as a preliminary survey for a much larger, extensive excavation in the future.

So what does this have to do with the Romans? Possibly nothing … but Roman items have been found in the Illerup River Valley before. An interesting article on past finds there includes these tantalizing paragraphs:

Prior to the offering, items were deliberately spoilt. Swords were broken across and shields smashed. The round items are shield bosses, torn out of the wooden shields and then deformed by cuts and blows.

Part of the ceremony involved destroying the weapons and equipment. Next, the remnants were gathered into bundles, which were wrapped in various forms of cloth – military cloaks, for example. The bundles were then carried out onto the lake in boats and thrown overboard. These bundles have been found all over the bed of the lake, which was 250 meters wide and 400 meters long.

During the course of 18 years (spread over two periods), these ancient bundles and their contents of swords, spears, lances, shields, knives, combs, Roman silver coins, bridles, tools and much more were recovered one by one after having spent as much 1,800 years in the sediment of the lake. The finds were brought to the Moesgård Museum, preserved, described, sorted, and then compared with similar material from as far afield as the Black Sea, Scotland, Africa and the Arctic.

The Illerup finds are exceptional, because of both their sheer quantity and their condition. The alkaline nature of the soil has preserved iron so well that two hundred Roman swords, for example, could be used today had they not been ceremoniously broken and bent prior to being cast into the lake.

Two hundred Roman swords! That’s pretty strong evidence of some major arms dealing in antiquity … let’s hope they do some DNA tests on the bones to try and get a handle on national origins …

Roman Tunnel in Plovdiv

Another brief item from SNA:

Municipal employees discovered a well-preserved ancient Roman tunnel in the southern Bulgarian city of Plovdiv.

The workers were clearing up the Nebet Tepe (“Guards’ Hill”) fortress in order to turn into a tourist attraction when they came across the tunnel near the Maritsa River.

The tunnel has a fully preserved staircase and leads to the northern side of the fortress. Plovdiv’s Deputy Mayor Shopov, who is a historian himself, told the BGNES news agency that no one had any idea about the existence of the tunnel.

The clearing up of the fortress began after a month ago the Plovdiv Municipality got a permission from the Bulgarian state to be in charge of the ancient site, and to turn it into a clean and well-lit tourist attraction ready to welcome tourists.

The Guards’ Hill is one of the many historic sites in Plovdiv; it features remains of a prehistoric settlement, and in 12th century BC was the site of the Ancient Thracian city Evmolpia.

Plovdiv was one of those cities called Philippopolis in Greek times, then Trimontium when the Romans had control of the area.

When Classics Go Bad

… or something like that. TMZ alerts us to someone claiming to be the reincarnated goddess Venus de Milo who has brought a lawsuit against Hugh Hefner for something. As you can tell, this one’s really bizarre (and if someone had emailed it to me, I’d be checking Snopes and other sources; it might eventually be debunked for all I know) … here’s the ClassCon from her affidavit (which I’m actually typing because it’s so bizarre … the spelling errors are not mine):

He’s always mayed my life my adopted families lives a mess you relize he’s suppose to be the centaur of the Greek gods. And since I’m really a reincarnation, I’m really Venus Demilo the goddess. Along with roger dawson he’s odyeseuos and everyone I know knows this.

It goes on (and is potentially offensive) and there’s more ClassCon scattered throughout. Simply bizarre.

Another Comic: Athena

Dynamite Entertainment has a new mini-series based on the goddess of Wisdom:

The incipit of a review at Comic Book Resources:

Though they originated thousands of years ago, the myths and legends of ancient Greece still serve as the gateway drug for fledgling fans of all kinds of adventure fiction in the modern day. In today’s pop culture, updated versions of the gods and goddesses make their presence known in all kinds of stories set across all kinds of genres. Along those lines, Dynamite Entertainment’s four-part “Athena” series finds the goddess of wisdom and war plucked out of ancient Greece and into the wiles of modern Manhattan. With a twist, of course.

“Athena wakes up at the base of the Parthenon in modern times,” writer Doug Murray told CBR. “Remember that the Parthenon was built in honor of Athena and originally featured a heroic-sized statue of her. She has no memory of being a Goddess or participating in the events of the ancient myths so, when she recovers, she is a sort of tabula rosa—and has to find a place in the modern world. There was some talk of making her a counseler, but I felt that making her an investigator for the D.A. of New York gave more story opportunities, and that’s the way we eventually went.”

… another one to keep my eye open for …

rogueclassicism Review: Mythsongs CD

As most readers of rogueclassicism are aware, all those wonderful stories which are embraced under the category of ‘myth’ were often told in poem — or more accurately — song form. With Myth Songs, the multi-talented Nick Humez has put together a CD version of songs  he originally wrote to be sung to his myth class at Montclair State University. While the vast majority of the seventeen tracks relate to Greek Myth, there are nods to others such as Norse (Sleipnir), Egyptian (Akhnaten’s Gavotte), Sumerian (Fraglied, Inanna’s Waltz), Canaanite (Ba’al and Mot), ‘Proto-IndoEuropean’ (The Triple Goddess), and Irish (Hibernica). In this review, we’ll be focusing on the Greek ones, of course.

The opening track — Perseus — is a lengthy and witty retelling of the tale which is performed in the Irish/Scottish folk song manner which is reflected in most of the songs. It’s very complicated from a metrical point of view — again, as are many of the songs — but is not inaccessible. The theme (and style) is revisited in Three Monster-Slayers in Search of a Single Malt. One could imagine one or both of these being used to introduce students to the Perseus story or even Clash of the Titans (original or remake). By contrast, the Wilusiad and The House of Atreus both feature dulcimers, which give the songs themselves a Renaissance-like sound (for want of a better term) and establish a suitably tragic mood for the subject matter. The Oracles (which includes a bit of Roman content, inter alia, with the story of Tarquinius) is mostly a piano piece which has reminiscences of Tom Lehrer.

There is much to delight in this CD, especially if one is following along with the lyrics provided in the liner notes. A taste of the wit which characterizes many of the tracks can be seen in this excerpt from The Olympian Dozen (All 14 of ’em):

Now Rhea was dim, and did not prevent him
From ingesting her children, one, two, three, four, five;
But the sixth she concealed, and in place of a meal
Of a boy, gave a boulder, preserving alive
Little Zeus, who (much quicker), when Cronus with liquor
Was drunk, an emetic did slip him, and there
Made his dad for to chunder (the first Jovian thunder)
And up came five siblings, no worse for the wear.

All in all, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable CD and one which would fit into any university-level myth or Classical Civilization course in some manner. It could also be used profitably, I think, at the High School/Middle School with motivated students (as long as they had access to the lyrics). Some of the songs would readily lend themselves to school projects involving a video/animation creation (with appropriate permissions, of course) and if you’re going to be hosting a Roman-style banquet, many of the songs would fit in well as an alternative or supplement to ‘traditional’ lyric poetry/epic performances.

More information (including a full list of tracks) on Mythsongs can be gleaned from official website (although the email address there may be out of date).

Pompeiiana Newsletter

Not sure if folks have noticed in the Classical Blogosphere sidebar that Andrew Reinhard has been posting back issues of the pioneering Pompeiiana newsletter … if not (or if so), folks will be interested in this missive AR sent out yesterday:

This is a quick note to say that 100 issues of Pompeiiana Newsletter are available online at:

I put #100 up today, so I am about halfway into posting every issue. As always, Pompeiiana is free — click on the title of each post to open the PDF file which you can then either save to your computer or print. Today’s issue closes out 1988, the year that Pompeiiana went from a four-page tabloid to eight pages (including one full page of Latin/Classics comics, many of which were student-created).

A very useful resource if you’re a Latin teacher, and fun reading if you’re not!

Lyceum Opening Next Month

Brief item from ANA:

The archaeological site of the 4th century BC Lyceum of Aristotle, in downtown Athens, will open to the public in late July.

The Lyceum, named after its 6th century BC sanctuary to Apollo Lyceus (the “wolf-god”, from the word “lykos”, or wolf), had long been a place of philosophical discussion and debate, and had had been the meeting place of the Athenian assembly before the stablishment of a permanent meeting area on Pnyx hill in the 5th century BC.

But the Lyceum is mostly renowned for the philosophical school founded there by Aristotle upon his return to Athens in 335 BC after being the private tutror of the then young prince Alexander of Macedon, the future Alexander the Great, since 343 BC.

After his return to Athens in 335 BC and up to his death in 322 BC, Aristotle rented some buildings in the Lyceum and established a school there where he lectured, wrote most of his philosophical treatises and dialogues, and systematically collected books that comprised the first library in European history. Since Aristotle liked to walk around the grounds as he lectured, surrounded by his students, the philosophical school he founded was called Peripatetic (from ‘peripatos’, which means stroll or walkabout in Greek).

Situated just outside the walls of ancient Athens, the Lyceum was brutally sacked and razed to the ground by the Roman general Lucius Cornelius Sulla in 86 BC, but was later rebuilt.

The site’s location remained unknown for centuries until it was rediscovered in 1996 during excavations for Athens’ new Museum of Modern Art.

… hmmm … I wonder if the previously-announced plans to cover it are still a go …