Holy Anachronism Batman!

This must have been zombie Thucydides:

In some animals, however, there seems to be a genuine ability to sense the changes that occur before earthquakes.Perhaps the first person to record this was the Greek historian Thucydides, in 373 B.C. Days before a massive earthquake hit the city of Helice, he says all manner of animals streamed out. Dogs, rats and weasels, they ran for the hills. Snakes sensed the coming catastrophe too, and they slithered for the highlands.

via Italian toads fuel case for animals’ seismic sense | The Japan Times Online.

Caryatid (hair)Stylings

From a press release:

A DVD is now available that documents the Caryatid Hairstyling Project, directed by Dr. Katherine Schwab, associate professor of art history at Fairfield University, to show if the elaborate female coiffures seen among the Erechtheion marble Caryatids, or maidens, at the Acropolis Museum in Athens could actually be replicated on women today. The 15-minute, fast-paced DVD follows six female students as their long hair is twisted and curled in intricate patterns ( which in real time took hours ) and records their reactions as they are transformed in appearance from modern 21st century women to elegant young women of ancient Greece. Produced by Christopher McGloin and Daniel Kole of the Media Center, with music arranged by Dr. Laura Nash, Program Director of Music, the DVD was funded by a grant from the University’s Faculty Research Committee and the Classical Studies Program. A webpage about the project includes a clip and online purchase of the DVD at http://www.fairfield.edu/caryatid.

Dr. Schwab, who has a long-standing association with the Acropolis Museum, frequently travels to Athens to pursue her research on the Parthenon east and north metopes. After seeing photographs of the Caryatids in an exhibition, The Creative Photograph in Archaeology, organized by the Benaki Museum and hosted by Fairfield University, Dr. Schwab became increasingly curious about the beautifully carved hair of the Caryatids. The result of her investigations is this project and DVD. Crucial to her research on the Caryatid hairstyles, she said, were the important photographs by Goesta Hellner in the archives of the German Archaeological Institute at Athens and the Alison Frantz Photographic Collection at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens ( ASCSA ). Dr. Natalia Vogeikoff-Brogan, Head Archivist at the ASCSA, remarked that the “archaeologist Alison Frantz ( 1903-1995 ) served as the staff photographer of the Athenian Agora Excavations from 1933 to 1968. Her valuable collection of about 3,000 black and white negatives ( 4×5 inches ) has been used to illustrate several famous publications on ancient Greek art.”

Student participants, who consisted of five art history majors and one psychology major, were selected for the project on the basis of the length and thickness of their hair. The hairstylist Milexy Torres, who was able to accurately recapture the intricate twists and braids of the caryatids on the models, concluded that the Athenian coiffures were true to life.

The students participated out of curiosity, but some said they felt particularly enthralled by ancient Athenian culture by the time the project was completed. Sophomore art history major Amber Nowak, who served as one of the student models, said the project helped her feel surprisingly connected. “It no longer seemed like some point in ancient history,” she said. Junior art history major and student model Caitlin Parker observed, “above all, participating in the Caryatid Hairstyling Project reinforced how fortunate, expansive and really unlimited the discipline of Art History is.”

Dr. Schwab has sent copies of the DVD to colleagues at the new Acropolis Museum, where five of the original caryatids are displayed, and the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities at the British Museum, where the sixth caryatid resides. At Fairfield University it will be used in art history and classical studies classes, and it can be shown to visiting school groups in the smart classroom adjacent to the Bellarmine Museum, due to open later this year.

Last summer Dr. Schwab was in Athens for the opening of the new Acropolis Museum where twenty-six digital scans of her original research drawings of the Parthenon east and north metopes became part of the permanent installation in the Parthenon Gallery.

via Documentary now available of ancient Caryatid hairstyles being brought to life.

In case the link up there doesn’t go through:

Art History – The Caryatid Hairstyling Project

Here’s an example of one of the hairstyles:

The ‘Bronze Men’ of Caria

I forgot to mention this one last week … a nice article from al-Ahram:

When Herodotus toured the known world during the fifth century BC to compile his international history, he did not forget his hometown Caria, now Bodrum in Turkey.

Caria (the name means “the steep country”) stood in the western part of Anatolia, whose coast, according to the ancient world map, stretched from mid-Ionia to Lycia and east to Phrygia. Mountains and valleys were the main features of the country’s scenery, and it was poor in agriculture in comparison with its counterparts at the time: Egypt and Babylonia. Its hilltops were fortified, while villages were scattered in valleys and it was hard to find a city of any size. There was thus little similarity between the inhabitants, the Carians, as each village had its own version of the Phoenician alphabet, its own customs and tradition. The only thing in common among all Carians was their religion. One of the ritual centres was Mylasa, where their supreme deity the Carian Zeus. They also had other deities such as Hecate, the goddess responsible for, among other things, magic and road crossings.

The first mention in history of Caria and its inhabitants was in the cuneiform texts of the Old Assyrian and Hittite Empires, who called the area Karkissa. History forgot about it for almost four centuries until the second citation by the legendary Greek poet Homer in his catalogue of ships.

The Carian language belonged to the Hittite- Luwian subfamily of Indo-European languages, and was related to Lycian and Lydian. Those who lived in the west of the country spoke a language closer to Greek.

According to Herodotus the inhabitants of Miletus spoke Greek with a Carian accent, which implies that during the dark ages, between about 1200 and 800 BC, the Greeks settled on the coast of Caria. Herodotus himself was a good example of the close ties between the Carians and Greeks: his father is called Lyxes, which is the Greek rendition of a good Carian name, Lukhsu.

Because of the hard and poor nature of Caria’s land, Carians, like many other mountain people at the time, hired themselves out as mercenaries and military specialists. According to Herodotus, the Greeks were indebted to the Carians for three military inventions: making shields with handles; putting devices on shields; and fitting crests on helmets. Because of this last invention, the Persians called the Carians “cocks”.

What, however, was the relationship between the Carians and the Egyptians? And how did they help Egypt?

Turkish archaeologist Canan Kèçèkeren, who has devoted herself to following the tracks of the Carians, the original inhabitants of her hometown of Bodrum, says that the Carians were working for the Egyptian army mainly during the 26th Dynasty and were known the most loyal of soldiers to the Pharaohs. Ancient Egyptian sources described them as “the bronze men who came from the sea”.

Kèçèkeren told Al-Ahram Weekly that they were living in Egypt between the eighth and fourth centuries BC and evidently felt at home there, as they settled first in the eastern Delta northeast of Bubastis before spreading to other parts of the Nile Valley.

“My project is to follow up their footsteps along the Nile and document in detail the remains of their cultural heritage,” Kèçèkeren says, adding that: “I am sure that if I have a chance of realising my project in a good way, this will establish a cultural bridge between Caria’s capital Bodrum and Egypt with the help of archaeology.”

From Herodotus, who was also a Carian citizen, we learn that Carians made their appearance as mercenaries in Egypt in the seventh century BC when they teamed up with Ionians to help Psammetik I assume power as founder of the 26th (Saite) Dynasty.

Kèçèkeren relates that Psammetik I visited an oracle where he was told that one day the “bronze men” would come from the sea and would help him. This vision became true and the Carians, who were pirates and wore metal suits of armour, came from the sea, and he opened his heart to them and took them into his army and reunited Egypt, which at that time was divided into 12 parts. Later Pharaoh Amasis, one of Psammetik’s descendants, recruited his bodyguard from among the Carians, whom he resettled in Memphis; one of this city’s quarters bore the name Caricon, while its inhabitants were called Caromemphites.

Several texts written in the Carian language have survived and been found in the Memphite cemetery near modern Saqqara, where Caromemphites were buried. Carians were also attached to the campaign of Psammetik II, and Carian soldiers who immortalized their names at Abu Simbel Temple participated in the invasion of Nubia.

When the Persian king Cambyses invaded Egypt in 525 BC, the Carian contingents were still there, serving Psammetik II. According to Herodotus, they sacrificed children before they went into battle against the invaders. They managed to switch sides, however. (They were not the only ones: even the commander of the Egyptian navy, Wedjahor-Resne, deserted his king.) In Egyptian sources from the Persian age we still find Carians, now serving a new lord. One of the latest examples is an Aramaic papyrus from a date equivalent to 12 January, 411 BC. Seven years later the Egyptians became independent again; this time, the Carians were unable to switch sides, and it appears that the collaborators were found out and dismissed.

Kèçèkeren told the Weekly that the largest number of inscriptions in the Carian language was in the form of graffiti written by mercenaries on rocks, temples and tombs, mostly in Egypt and Sudan. More than 300 inscriptions in Carian have been found, with about 200 of them located in Egypt, namely in Memphis, Sais, Buto, north Saqqara, Luxor, Elephantine Island, Abu Simbel, Silsilis, Buhen, Gebel Al-Sheikh Suleiman and Khartoum.

“It is interesting that more were found abroad than in their homeland,” Kèçèkeren says. “My aim is to visit these settlements for documentation and photographs [of the inscriptions]. I have already visited some of the towns or places like Luxor, Edfu, Kom Ombo, Tel Aswan and Abu Simbel, and I have found some graffiti written in the Carian language on the knee of Pharaoh Ramses II’s colossus at Abu Simbel Temple.’” She explained that the Tomb of Maussolus, which gave rise to the word “mausoleum”, was the best known of Carian buildings and one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Sadly, it no longer exists.

Her purpose is to contribute to a study that will add new dimensions and promote the Carian civilisation, as well as ensuring the Carians’ place on the upper level in culture. “I also hopes that this will establish a cultural bridge and a platform between the Carian capital, Bodrum, and Egypt with the help of archaeology, as they share the same Mediterranean Sea and have a long, shared and friendly past,” she said.

Kèçèkeren has been greatly encouraged by her friends and colleagues in Egypt. “They have supported my project and helped me in every way,” she said.

via In the footsteps of the Bronze Men | Al-Ahram.

Kolb v Lombardo (sort of) on the Historicity of the Trojan War

Though Hollywood may lead us to believe that the only real question behind Troy is whether Brad Pitt or Orlando Bloom looks better in fighting gear (or without it), a greater controversy has been brewing among historians and archaeologists for the past century.

Scholars have yet to reach a consensus about the historicity of Homer’s Troy, offering various theories on the location of the city and the Trojan War. During Thursday’s lecture at the Michael C. Carlos Museum, Professor Frank Kolb of Germany’s University of Tübingen discussed the truth of claims made about the location of Troy. His lecture was followed by a reading by University of Kansas Professor Stanley Lombardo from his translation of the Iliad, Homer’s timeless account of the Trojan War and its mythic heroes.

Kolb has been involved in a dispute in past years with another Tübingen professor, Manfred Korfmann, who led Troy-related excavations in Turkey from 1988 until his death in 2005. While the subject is unlikely to become the topic of heated debate on The Daily Show, it is nonetheless a divisive issue within the scholarly community. The controversy involves what Kolb believes is Korfmann’s misrepresentation of findings concerning archeological evidence for the existence of Troy. His concern stems not from jealousy, Kolb claims — he was the one who recommended Korfmann as the leader of the Troy investigations — but from a desire to separate fact from fiction.

The two men’s dispute is centered on the ruins at Hisarlik, an archeological site in northwestern Turkey. With a touch of dry humor, Kolb enumerated the many examples of the Turkish government’s attempts to claim the Trojans as their own descendants. According to this dogma, “Homer and Troy are Turkish.” Kolb believes it therefore comes as no surprise that Korfmann, who obtained his excavation license for Hisarlik from the Turkish government, faced no criticism for his Hisarlik-Troy findings.

Kolb guided the audience through the layers of the Hisarlik ruins, parts of which date anywhere from the Bronze Age to the first century B.C. He questioned the veracity of one of Korfmann’s claims that a ditch surrounding part of the ruins served as a defensive measure against attackers. As Kolb pointed out, the ditch is only a few feet deep. At best, the ditch was perhaps a water channel or irrigation device.

“Show me the enemy who might be stopped by a ditch of this size,” said Kolb sarcastically, pointing at the picture of the structure on the screen.

He also refuted Korfmann’s theory that Hisarlik, which he renamed Troaie to match his findings, served as a major trading center in the area. With no archaeological evidence to back such a claim, Kolb regards the theory as having “no more credibility than the Trojan horse.”

Kolb believes that the “city called Troiae never existed.” Rather, a study of the word Ilios — the ancient Greek name for Troy — reveals Greek, not Trojan, connotations. According to Kolb, Homer’s Trojan War may in fact have been a compilation of conflicts that occurred in northern Greece, where those peoples known as the Ilians resided. The Ilians then may have altered the details of their stories once they expanded into Asia Minor.

If we want to experience Troy the myth rather than Troy the reality, Kolb says, we “should undertake a voyage into the text,” providing a good transition from his lecture to Lombardo’s reading from the Iliad.

Lombardo reads with a classic audio-book voice that is both clear and unforced. He is not the high school English teacher who reads all dramatic verse with the same contrived whisper, the kind of voice one saves for deathbeds and funerals. He is Stanley Lombardo, translator of epics, and he speaks with the voice of a true poet.

Lombardo accompanied his reading with his usual instrument of choice, a small drum. He sped up or slowed down his playing to match the tone of certain passages, creating a steady sense of urgency throughout the reading.

With the combination of Lombardo’s reading ability and musical accompaniment, one does not have to overexert the imagination to see him as a classic muse. However, Lombardo has made something so ancient as the Iliad more accessible to the populace by using conversational English in his translations. In this way, everyone can share in the experience of poetic recitation, which is at its core a means of reaching all through storytelling.

Kolb and Lombardo provided two very different takes on the story of Troy. Kolb’s lecture served as evidence of the difficulty of deconstructing myth in the present day, while Lombardo’s reading embraced the myth itself.

Perhaps Kolb is correct. Perhaps Homer’s Troy never existed, and was merely an amalgam of stories. But maybe one can forget this uncertainty every now and again and simply indulge in the myth.

via Homer’s Troy: Fact, Fiction or Both? | The Emory Wheel.

Odyssey Adaptation

I mentioned this one on Twitter the other day, but we should probably give it fuller treatment … I suspect we’ll be following this one in the future … the incipit of an item at Total Film:

Even though he’s already got a ballooning list of projects attached to his reputable name, director Barry Sorrenfeld is apparently set to sign on to helm animated film Pig Scrolls.

Men In Black 3, Swift and The How-To Guide For Saving The World are all flicks currently squabbling for his attention.

But it seems that DreamWorks Animation are keen to recruit Sonnenfeld for Pig Scrolls, adapted from a novel by Paul Shipton. It’s a porcine version of the swords and sandals epics that are currently en vogue in Hollywood.

The ever-dependable Pajiba report that Sonnenfeld is developing Pig Scrolls as a possible directing project, with Clash Of The Titans and Kung Fu Panda name-checked as influences.

Shipton’s novel follows Gryllus, a member of Odysseus’ crew who is transformed into a pig by Circe (part of the original Greek myth). But as Odysseus escapes, Gryllus goes on to have his own adventure, which naturally involves giant monsters and gorgeous teen prophet Sybil.

via Film news Sonnenfeld to direct Pig Scrolls | TotalFilm.com.

According to the somewhat poorly-written Wikipedia article on the Pig Scrolls, Paul Shipton has an MA in Classics. For those teachers out there, here’s something a LIS grad student put together for folks wanting to use it in the classroom (.pdf).

Interesting Byzantine Burial from Kaukana (Sicily)

A bit out of the period of our purview, but very interesting:

UBC archaeologists have made several important new discoveries since unearthing in 2008 a tomb at Kaukana, an ancient Roman and Byzantine village on the south coast of Sicily.

Professor Roger Wilson, Head of Classical, Near Eastern and Religious Studies at UBC, returned to the site in 2009 to direct his students in the successful excavation of a house in this settlement, where a substantial tomb was discovered unexpectedly inside one room. Normally burials are found at this period in the village cemetery on the outskirts, or else around the village church, so the location of the tomb is a puzzle. Inside they had found two skeletons – one of a woman aged about 25, and the other that of a young child.

DNA testing in 2009/10 has now confirmed that the woman and child belong to the same family, and the child has been identified, also through her DNA, as a little girl, about four years old: they were clearly mother and daughter. From the way in which her bones were arranged, it is clear the child was placed in the tomb sometime after the mother had been buried. But the discoveries have now got even more interesting. The mother is now known to have been approximately 30 weeks pregnant (some bones of her foetus survived), and periodic feasting occurred at her graveside: not only were dining plates, amphorae for wine and oil, and cooking pots found alongside the tomb, but also ovens where the food they ate was cooked. Preliminary analysis of carbonized seeds shows that one meal consisted of wheat, barley, millet, peas, eggs and lentils. There was even a bench provided for the diners, and a low table. One of the amphorae had brought wine all the way from Egypt, and a clay lamp of about 550 CE, imported from Tunisia, is thought to show the earliest depiction of a backgammon board ever found. It is known that this game (a descendant of earlier Roman games) was being played by Roman emperors in the fifth century CE. Clearly the woman, whose tomb had a hole in the lid to take libations of wine, was a much-loved person, given the attention paid to her burial and the evidence of ritual feasting in her honour. The team now also knows, from the discovery of an inscription in 2009, that she was definitely a Christian, since a tomb slab was inscribed ‘holy, holy, holy’, an allusion to part of the early Christian liturgy.

But why was she so honoured, and why here inside a home within the settlement, and not at the cemetery or church? One discovery of 2009 was that she possessed a tiny hole in her skull, a natural defect which she had had from birth, with the result that the lining of the brain, the meninges, would have protruded from it. The condition, known as meningocoele, would have given her constant headaches and a tendency to suffer from periodic seizures. Perhaps her miraculous powers of recovery on such occasions, apparently coming back from the ‘dead’, meant that she was seen by some as a holy woman, possibly one possessing special mystical powers. Perhaps she was rejected by her local church as being too scary, given her disabilities – one revered by some but feared by others. Or did she belong to a different, non-catholic Christian sect? The cause of her death is unknown, but it might have been due to complications which arose during her pregnancy. Even if questions surrounding this discovery abound, one thing is certain. The woman remained as remarkable in death as she was once in life.

Professor Wilson and his team, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, will return to Kaukana this summer in an attempt to solve some of the riddles and make other discoveries in the house where the tomb was found. Meanwhile lab work in the new facilities of UBC’s Laboratory of Archaeology at the Museum of Anthropology will continue to find out more about the woman and her condition. Late Roman and early Byzantine life in Italy holds a fascination not only for Italians but for historians, archaeologists and scientists worldwide.

“Archaeology is about the painstaking recording of objects and structures, yes,” said Wilson, “but above all it is about people. At Kaukana we have been fortunate to recover part of the particularly poignant life-story of one young woman, and of her little daughter, who lived and died some 1400 years ago”.

via University of British Columbia Faculty of Arts websiteNews .