CFP: Religion and Identity in the Ancient World

Seen on Classicists (please send any responses to the folks mentioned in the quoted text, not to rogueclassicism!):

Postgraduate workshop on Religion and Identity in the Ancient World, 22nd-

23rd April 2010 Durham University

This postgraduate workshop, hosted by Durham University’s Centre for the
Study of the Ancient Mediterranean and the Near East (CAMNE) on 22nd –
23rd April 2010 in Durham University’s Theology department, will explore
the extent to which religion influenced identity in the ancient world. The
aim is to stimulate interdisciplinary discussion of the issue: we
therefore invite contributions from theologians, classicists and
archaeologists, and indeed anyone else with an interest in religion and
identity in the ancient world.

The construction of an identity is influenced by many factors: linguistic,
cultural, geographical, political and historical, amongst others. In
today’s world, religion is a defining factor in the identities of
millions. Even in self-consciously secular societies, the remnants of
religious influence can still be seen in political and architectural
landscapes. From towering cathedrals and mosques to the horse and cart of
the Amish, there are many ways in which religion can influence identity.
The same diversity is also found throughout the ancient world.

Heads of state from the Egyptian Pharaoh to the Roman Emperor were not
merely political figures, but also occupied pivotal roles in state
religions, and were therefore fundamental in the religious identities of
their subjects. However, such figures existed alongside much more personal
and local beliefs which had an equally powerful influence on the religious
identities of individuals. The story of Israel on the other hand, while
equally varied, is of a nation whose ‘head of state’ is not an earthly
figure, but God himself. Differently again, early Christianity quickly cut
across social, ethnic and political boundaries by offering a new identity
through relationship with Jesus Christ.

If you would like to present a paper, please submit a short abstract of
ca. 150 words detailing your topic to p.j.alpass AT by Monday 8th
March. Contributors will be invited to include their papers in an
electronic volume of the workshop proceedings. There are some grants
available towards the cost of transport, and accommodation is provided for
those coming from UK institutions.

Peter Alpass, Ed Kaneen and Donald Murray

A Bust in Lebanon Nets a Sarcophagus

No photos, alas …

The Lebanese Antiquities Department received on Monday a rare sarcophagus and other antique items confiscated from the house of a sheikh in Baalbek.

The judicial police found the antiquities last Wednesday at the house of Sheikh Mohammad Jaafar Suleiman al-Mohajer, who was believed to have dug them out illegally and kept them secret hoping to sell them.

The items included a sarcophagus dating back to the Roman era in the second century AD and two carved stones, one showing the head of a lion and another showing the portrait of an emperor. The sarcophagus is believed to be of great importance because it might be that of a child from a royal family and it is to be soon displayed at the Lebanese National Museum.

However, according to an article published Tuesday by the Arabic-language newspaper An-Nahar, Mohajer claimed that he had previously contacted the department about the discovery but that the latter had failed to recover the items.

Mohajer said he found the antiques on a property he owned and had sent a letter to the Culture Ministry asking them to buy the items.

Nonetheless, the department insisted it was informed of the discovery before receiving Mohajer’s letters, security sources told An-Nahar. It had launched an investigation in the matter because the items were not reported within the legal deadline of 24 hours and they were dug illegally on the property of Hajj Haydar al-Mohajer.

Furthermore, the judicial police arrested on February 2 two men suspected of fraud, who confessed that Mohajer’s son, Ali Ammar, had tried to sell them antique jewelry items for $1.7 million.

The police raided Mohajer’s house last Wednesday and found the sarcophagus in his back yard along with two other antiques. But they did not go inside the house where antique jewelry might be hidden, noting that the sarcophagus was found empty while the dead were traditionally buried with all their jewelry.

via Antiquities Department receives rare sacrophagus | The Daily Star.

Restoring Jupiter

Interesting item:

IT IS almost 2,000 years old and was thought to have been lost forever, but now an ancient Roman bust is being preserved for future generations.

Conservationists have begun the painstaking process of restoring a marble carving of the Roman god Jupiter which has been rediscovered at Fountains Abbey, near Ripon.

The piece has been identified as part of the celebrated collection of the Earl of Arundel’s collection of antiquities from the classical world and is now being analysed by English Heritage at its archaeological store in Helmsley.

Susan Harrison, English Heritage Curator, said: “The condition of the bust is pretty good, but it does need cleaning and further research. Because it’s mentioned in 17th Century records, experts knew it existed, but they have searched for it in vain amongst the world’s collections of antiquities.

“But here it was all along, safe and sound and waiting to be rediscovered. We plan to do further work to determine the type of marble which will give us an indication of where in the Roman world it is originally from. It really is an impressive piece.”

According to Roman mythology, Jupiter was the most powerful of all the Gods and the Latin depiction of the Greek, God Zeus.

A short little video report accompanies the original article.

via Conservationists begin restoration of Roman bust of Jupiter | York Press.

Tarquinian Reggia from Gabii?

This one’s working its way through the Italian press … a sixth century (B.C.) edifice which includes an image associated with the Tarquins. Also of interest is evidence of ritual foundation sacrifice and the burial of five (non-sacrificed?) children under the foundations as well.  Il Messaggero seems to have the best coverage so far:

Gli archeologi la considerano una testimonianza unica e straordinaria. In tutta Italia ne esistono forse una decina di esempi. E’ stata riportata alla luce a Gabii, venti chilometri a sud di Roma la casa del rex della città antica. I muri delle stanze sono integri, un particolare quasi senza precedenti per l’epoca, e la dimora è composta da tre stanze non comunicanti tra loro che, con tutta probabilità erano affacciate su un grande portico e che erano gli ambienti della casa destinati al culto. I muri erano intonacati e dipinti. Sotto il pavimento in pietra sono state ritrovate intatte, le fosse di sacrifici rituali fatti per inaugurare il cantiere. In cinque di queste i corpi di altrettanti bimbi nati morti. «Non si tratta di sacrifici umani», precisano concordi il sovrintendente archeologo Angelo Bottini e il professor Marco Fabbri. Indizio però che si trattava di una casa molto importante.

Gli archeologi della sovrintendenza di Roma e quelli dell’università di Tor Vergata che insieme l’hanno riportata alla luce tra settembre e dicembre 2009 sono convinti che si tratti della casa dei Tarquini a Gabii, una reggia costruita nel sesto secolo a.C., forse su un edificio preesistente. Era una reggia sfarzosa con un tetto decorato da statue e da un fregio in terracotta riconducibile alla famiglia dei Tarquini.

L’ipotesi è che vi abitasse il figlio di Tarquinio il Superbo, Sesto Tarquinio. Ma forse la residenza era della famiglia già nei decenni precedenti. «Di certo -dichiarano Fabbri e Bottini – c’è che quella casa regale ad un certo punto venne distrutta o meglio, venne smontato il tetto monumentale e gli ambienti vennero seppelliti fino a lasciare solo un tumulo di pietre. Una fortuna. Perchè proprio quel seppellimento ha consentito alla reggia di arrivare praticamente intatta fino a noi».

Costato fino ad oggi 60mila euro lo scavo deve ora continuare. Si spera di trovare il tetto e gli altri ambienti della regia. «Cercheremo di stanziare altre risorse», dichiara il sottosegretario Francesco Giro. «La speranza – conclude Bottini – è che si possa continuare a scavare. E che proprio qui, nello scenario meraviglioso di Gabi, si possa allestire un grande parco archeologico».

We’ll see if this gets any coverage in the English press …

via Gabii, svelata la reggia dei Tarquini Archeologi: testimonianza unica in Italia | Il Messaggero.