Roman Temple in Southwell (Iterum)

This one seems to be making the rounds again:

Remains unearthed in Nottinghamshire could be an unknown Roman temple, archaeologists have claimed.

Excavations on the Minster C of E School site in Southwell between September 2008 and May 2009 revealed walls, ditches and ornate stones.

The team analysing the finds said the shape and quality of the remains suggest it could have been an important place of worship.

This could mean Southwell enjoyed a high status Roman Britain, they added.

A wall of large block masonry that was probably plastered and possibly painted, with a ditch that may have contained water, was possibly the boundary of a large temple.

Roman pilgrims

The remains of timber scaffolding for the wall were also uncovered. Radiocarbon dating of this dated it to the first century.

Ursilla Spence from Nottinghamshire County Council, the archaeologist who supervised the work, said a lack of domestic remains, like pots and tools, also indicated a ceremonial use.

“This is a fascinating site,” she said. “But, so far, it has raised more questions than it has answered.

“I hope that future excavation work, when the site is developed, will throw more light on exactly what was going on here 2,000 years ago.

“But, whatever we might find in future, I believe we have already shown that Roman Southwell was a much more significant place than anyone previously thought.”

She added that if the site was a temple, a nearby ‘villa’ with mosaics, excavated in 1959, could actually have been a hotel for pilgrims.

The site is expected to be developed for housing and further excavation would take place during the building work.

via BBC News – Remains in Southwell ‘could be Roman temple’.

We first mentioned this back in December of 2008 (Roman Complex from Notts) and Adrian Murdoch (who mentioned on Twitter this was an “old story” was blogging about that one even before that (Roman temple at Southwell, Notts). It really doesn’t seem like there’s anything new here and it doesn’t appear that the relevant excavators’ website has been updated in a long time either.

The Loss of Classical Literature is Blamed On …

Islam? Here’s an excerpt from the middle of a very long book review of  Holy Warriors: Islam and the Demise of Classical Civilization by John O’Neill at Europe News:

Until the first quarter of the seventh century Classical Civilization was alive and well in the Middle East and North Africa — even more so than in Europe. City life flourished, as did the economy and the arts. Literacy was widespread, and the works of the Classical historians, as well as the philosophers, mathematicians, and physicians, were readily available and discussed in the academies and libraries located throughout the Near East, North Africa, and Europe. In Egypt, during the sixth century, renowned philosophers such as Olympiodorus (died 570) presided over the Alexandrian academy which possessed a well-stocked and funded library packed with probably thousands of volumes. The Alexandrian academy of this time was the most illustrious institute of learning in the known world; and it is beyond doubt that its library matched, if indeed it did not surpass, the original Library founded by Ptolemy II. The writings of Olympiodorus and his contemporaries demonstrate intimate familiarity with the great works of classical antiquity — very often quoting obscure philosophers and historians whose works have long since disappeared. Among the general population of the time literacy was the norm, and the appetite for reading was fed by a large class of professional writers who composed plays, poems and short stories — the latter taking the form of mini-novels. In Egypt, the works of Greek writers such as Herodotus and Diodorus were familiar and widely quoted. Both the latter, as well as native Egyptian writers such as Manetho, had composed extensive histories of Egypt of the time of the pharaohs. These works provided, for the citizens of Egypt and other parts of the Empire, a direct link with the pharaohnic past. Here the educated citizen encountered the name of the pharaoh (Kheops) who built the Great Pyramid, as well as that of his son (Khephren), who built the second pyramid at Giza, and that of his grandson Mykerinos, who raised the third and smallest structure. These Hellenized versions of the names were extremely accurate transcriptions of the actual Egyptian names (Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure). In the history of the country written by Manetho, the educated citizen of the Empire would have had a detailed description of Egypt’s past, complete with an in-depth account of the deeds of the pharaohs as well as descriptions of the various monuments and the kings who built them.

The change that came over Egypt and the other regions of the Middle East following the Arab Conquest can only be described as catastrophic. Almost all knowledge of these countries’ histories disappears, and does so almost overnight. Consider the account of the Giza Pyramids and their construction written by the Arab historian Al Masudi (regarded as the “Arab Herodotus”), apparently in the tenth century:

“Surid, Ben Shaluk, Ben Sermuni, Ben Termidun, Ben Tedresan, Ben Sal, one of the kings of Egypt before the flood, built two great pyramids; and, notwithstanding, they were subsequently named after a person called Shaddad Ben Ad … they were not built by the Adites, who could not conquer Egypt, on account of their powers, which the Egyptians possessed by means of enchantment … the reason for the building of the pyramids was the following dream, which happened to Surid three hundred years previous to the flood. It appeared to him that the earth was overthrown, and that the inhabitants were laid prostrate upon it, that the stars wandered confusedly from their courses, and clashed together with tremendous noise. The king though greatly affected by this vision, did not disclose it to any person, but was conscious that some great event was about to take place.” (From L. Cottrell, The Mountains of Pharaoh (London, 1956)).

This was what passed for “history” in Egypt after the Arab conquest — little more than a collection of Arab fables. Egypt, effectively, had lost her history. Other Arab writers display the same ignorance. Take for example the comments of Ibn Jubayr, who worked as a secretary to the Moorish governor of Granada, and who visited Cairo in 1182. He commented on “the ancient pyramids, of miraculous construction and wonderful to look upon, [which looked] like huge pavilions rearing to the skies; two in particular shock the firmament …” He wondered whether they might be the tombs of early prophets mention in the Koran, or whether they were granaries of the biblical patriarch Joseph, but in the end came to the conclusion, “To be short, none but the Great and Glorious God can know their story.” (Andrew Beattie, Cairo: A Cultural History (Oxford University Press, 2005) p. 50)

via How Islam Destroyed the Literary Inheritance of the Classical World | EuropeNews.

… but are there no writers who get it right? I’m sure every period has their share of shoddy historians (by whatever definition you want to apply to ‘historian’). Whatever the case,  it appears that Mr O’Neill has missed Warwick’s Podcast on Graeco-Arabic Studies (and probably much else). Perhaps it’s not surprising that this book appears to be self-published?

Latin for Volcano?

The eruption of Vesuvius in Discovery Channel'...
Image via Wikipedia

A very interesting series of items from Jonah Goldberg popped up at the National Review Online this week. First:

A slew of readers are outraged, perplexed, confabulated and gobsmacked by the claim made below by another reader that there’s no Latin word for “volcano.”

I agree it is bizarre. After all you would think that after Pompeii was covered in lava and hot ash by Mount Vesuvius, someone would have said “Hey, you know what? We could really use a word for that thing.”

Meanwhile, a friend informs me that Mons ignifer (fire-bearing mountain) is the Latin neologism for volcano.

Better late than never, I suppose.

via: No Latin For Volcano

Followed quickly by:

This is awesome, from a reader:

Hi, Jonah,

I discovered this a few years ago, after I’d read Robert Harris’ excellent novel, _Pompeii_. It’s told from the point of view of a hydraulic engineer in AD 79, sent to figure out why the aqueduct around Pompeii is running dry. I kept wondering why the characters weren’t thinking about the possibility of the volcano erupting, and I finally tried to look up the word in my Latin dictionary, without success. It’s the Chambers & Murray—considered the best 1-volume Latin dictionary out there—so it wouldn’t have accidentally missed the word.

That really surprised me. But I reckon Vesuvius really surprised the Romans, too. I thought this might have been the first eruption of a volcano their civilization had known, but that’s not the case, since even Vergil refers to an eruption of Etna in the Aeneid. So…even weirder they didn’t have a word, since they knew about these things. Huh.

via: No Latin for Volcano Cont’d

Then:

The controversy won’t go dormant. From a reader:

Mr. Goldberg,

There may not be a single word for a volcano, but there is a Latin phrase for it:

mons flammas eructans (“mountain belching fire”)

Thanks.

And:

Aren’t you being more than a trifle gullible? The Romans employed ample terminology for volcanoes; even more for the sort of eruptions of stupidity evidenced by your reader. I suggest you consign his email to the mouth of a mons flammas eructans. While you’re at it, utter a prayer to Volcanus.

And:

good heavens — anyone who saw the doctor who episode “the fires of
pompeii” (2008) knows there was no latin word for “volcano.” also,
that as bad as volcanic eruptions are, they prevent the pyrovile rock
people from becoming our new alien overlords. sheesh.

And:

According to the episode “The Fires of Pompeii” they simply didn’t have one.

THE DOCTOR (subdued, to Donna)
They don’t know what it is. Vesuvius is just a mountain to them, the top hasn’t blown off yet. The Romans haven’t even got a word for volcano. Not until tomorrow.

[...]

via: More Volcanic Latin

I’m not sure saying “they didn’t have a word for it” gives the right impression. As some of the commentators about are implying, it seems more accurate to say that the Romans didn’t really distinguish between mountains that ‘burned’ and mountains that didn’t ‘burn’ except with the addition of adjectives. Here, e.g., is what Pliny the Elder has in a section describing ‘flagrant mountains’ (2.110 via Lacus Curtius):

verum in montium miraculis ardet Aetna noctibus semper tantoque aevo materia ignium sufficit, nivalis hibernis temporibus egestumque cinerem pruinis operiens. nec in illo tantum natura saevit exustionem terris denuntians: flagrat in Phaselitis mons Chimaera, et quidem inmortali diebus ac noctibus flamma; ignem eius accendi aqua, extingui vero terra aut fimo Cnidius Ctesias tradit. eadem in Lycia Hephaesti montes taeda flammante tacti flagrant, et adeo ut lapides quoque rivorum et harenae in ipsis aquis ardeant, aliturque ignis ille pluviis; baculo si quis ex iis accenso traxerit sulcum, rivos ignium sequi narrant. flagrat in Bactris Cophanti noctibus vertex.

An Epic Battle About Homer’s Home

Photograph taken of the bust of Homer in the B...
Image via Wikipedia

Here’s the incipit … not sure if I blogged this already:

Many historians agree that the world’s most well-known epic poet, Homer, lived in the Aegean city of İzmir, but several mayors are eager to have their towns recognized as his home.

The ancient Greek poet Homer, traditionally considered the author of the epic poems “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey,” is believed to have lived in ancient Smyrna, today’s İzmir, in the eighth century B.C. Seven different locations claim to be home to Homer, with Bornova and Gaziemir on the brink of a tough battle.

Gaziemir Mayor Halil İbrahim Şenol, a member of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, argued that Homer was born in Gaziemir. “The history books say Homer was born where the Meles River starts, and it starts in Gaziemir,” said Şenol. “It is not true that Homer lived in Bornova, and our research will support and reveal the truth.”

Bornova, another town in İzmir, also claims it is the hometown of the Greek poet. Bornova Mayor Kamil Okyay Sındır, also a member of the CHP, earlier said the town should be proud of being Homer’s hometown and cited the Meles River reference to strengthen his argument.

“Homer wrote about the Meles River in his works, which is why it is believed he lived around here,” Sındır said. “All findings indicate Homer lived in Bornova. There are seven locations in the Aegean and the Greek Islands claiming to be Homer’s hometown, but Bornova is the strongest candidate.”

Bornova was quick to take advantage of its links and last year opened the “Homeros Valley,” an attraction center built between the Bornova district center and Kayadibi village by the İzmir Metropolitan Municipality.

Şenol appointed archeologist Ercan Çokbankir as the Gaziemir Municipality Culture Coordinator after last year’s local elections, and he has been focused on the issue ever since.

“It makes more sense that Homer was a Gaziemir local,” said Çokbankir, adding that no argument is 100 percent certain. “Many history books name the river from Çatalkaya as Homer or Homeros. Bornova does not have such a record,”

“The Homeros Valley project has been built in the wrong location,” he said. “The right place would be Gaziemir.”

The Gaziemir mayor noted that the municipality will soon organize an international conference on Homer. “After all, Homer is a world-renowned poet, and the most important thing is that most historians agree he lived in İzmir,” said Şenol. “I’m aware that there is not much point in arguing about whether he lived in Bornova or Gaziemir, but we just want the truth to be known.”

More:  This is Homer’s real home, says mayor | Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review.

Necropolis at Ostia!

The skinny: it dates from the second half of the first century A.D. (based on it apparently demonstrating a transition from cremation to inhumation) and most of the occupants seem to be low-status males (skeletal remains show evidence of a life of ‘hard labour’) …

Resti di una necropoli di epoca romana sono stati scoperti nel Parco dei Ravennati ad Ostia Antica. Il ritrovamento durante il lavori effettuati da Acea in via Gesualdo per la sistemazione di un nuovo impianto di illuminazione.

L’area di necropoli si stendeva lungo un muro ad angolo, di cui è stata rinvenuta soltanto la fondazione. Le tombe ad inumazione ed in limitatissimo numero anche ad incinerazione sono sistemate in modo caotico, con numerose riduzioni volontarie per far posto alle inumazioni più recenti.

La necropoli sembra risalire alla seconda metà del I secolo d.C., in un momento di passaggio tra l’uso del rito ad incinerazione a quello ad inumazione. A comunicarlo la Soprintendenza per i beni archeologici di Roma di Ostia.

«Dall’analisi antropologica preliminare gli inumati, nella maggior parte di sesso maschile, sono apparsi appartenere ad un livello sociale molto basso, per le numerose tracce di alterazioni scheletriche causate da stress biomeccanici, attribuiti ad un’attività lavorativa particolarmente pesante, che prevedeva un forte impegno funzionale degli arti – prosegue la nota – Inoltre, nell’area di cantiere più vicina alla Stazione della Ferrovia Roma-Lido sono state rinvenute alcune strutture murarie, rasate al livello delle fondazioni, riferibili a due ambienti adiacenti pavimentati con mosaici a disegni geometrici in bianco/nero. Queste strutture possono collegarsi alle altre visibili lungo via della Stazione di Ostia Antica ed a quelle scoperte in più punti negli anni passati nei pressi della Stazione e probabilmente riferibili ad ambito commerciale e residenziale. I dati scaturiti da questo intervento si sono rivelati particolarmente interessanti per la ricostruzione delle modalità di utilizzo del territorio immediatamente circostante alla città romana di Ostia Antica».

Lo scavo è stato realizzato su incarico Acea dalla Cooperativa archeologia, sotto la direzione scientifica della Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Roma – Sede di Ostia, con il supporto di un’antropologa collaboratrice del Servizio di Antropologia della Soprintendenza. E’ stato possibile mettere in luce la continuazione dell’ambito necropolare già evidenziato durante un precedente cantiere Acea, effettuato nel 2006 nell’angolo Sud-occidentale del Parco dei Ravennati.

via Ostia antica, trovati resti di una necropoli - Il Messaggero.

An Obsession We Can Identify With (to a certain extent)

Not sure I’ve ever had something from the Sun, so:

A PENSIONER who dresses as a Roman gladiator and calls himself Maximus Decimus Meridius has admitted his obsession may be “over the top”.

Tony Barnatt Jose, a retired lorry driver, has devoted his life to the ancient empire — turning his house into a shrine and even making pilgrimages to Rome.

His fixation was sparked when he saw Russell Crowe’s epic movie Gladiator.

The 66-year-old grandfather has adorned the walls of his terraced home in Durham with shields, helmets, masks, pictures and cuttings.

He spends hours poring over books and watching films about the Roman Empire and wears a full suit of replica armour.

Mr Barnatt said: “After seeing Gladiator, I read a book about Hannibal, the military commander.

“I started going to the library and reading more about Roman history, going to Roman forts and collecting antiquities.

“Since then my obsession has just got worse and worse.

“The Romans left such a legacy all over the world. Even now, Rome carries on — even in America with the Senate.”

He added: “Everybody knows me as Maximus Decimus Meridius. Lots of people think I am mad.

“But so what, as long as it doesn’t harm anyone. I really enjoy it. The clothes and armour look real and I think they’re really great.”

Mr Jose estimates his Roman fascination now takes up three-quarters of his time.

The front door of his house bears the nameplate Rome and the house number is in Roman numerals.

His desk is a production line for homemade scrolls, armour and his next weapon — although the law prevents him from carrying a real sword.

He is now offering to attend events and parties in his gladiator costume, to raise cash for charity.

via Rome devotee: Call me Maximus | The Sun |News.

‘Lamboglia 2′ from Bari

This one seems to be getting an awful lot of attention in the Italian press for some reason … a 2nd or 1st century B.C. amphora find from the waters near Bari.

Un’anfora romana risalente al periodo compreso fra il II ed il I secolo a.C. è stata scoperta su un fondale sabbioso non molto lontano dal porto di Bari e recuperata dai carabinieri del Nucleo subacquei. Si tratta del primo recupero archeologico eseguito dal Nucleo subacquei carabinieri di Bari che opera nel capoluogo pugliese dallo scorso 26 ottobre. Il nucleo è costituito da otto uomini, tutti operatori subacquei, impegnati a tutela delle persone e dei natanti, nella prevenzione dei reati ambientali in acqua e nel recupero di relitti e tutela dei beni archeologici. Ha sede sul Molo Pizzoli. Il recupero del reperto – a quanto si è saputo – è avvenuto mentre i militari stavano facendo un’immersione di addestramento e hanno scoperto l’antico reperto archeologico, parzialmente ricoperto di sabbia. Si tratta – hanno confermato gli esperti del Comando tutela patrimonio culturale – di una «lamboglia 2», un’anfora dal corpo ovoidale di circa un metro e venti di altezza, con le anse applicate sotto l’orlo, impiegata nell’antichità per il trasporto di liquidi, in particolare vino. Un manufatto tipico dell’area mediterranea che per il suo uso viene denominata «vinaria». Il reperto, dopo il recupero, è stato trasportato in un’apposita vasca d’intesa con la Soprintendenza dei beni archeologici.

via Ripescata un’antica anfora romana – Corriere del Mezzogiorno

… and I just learned from an article by Joann Freed that Lamboglio 2 vessels are equivalent to Dressel 6a (I think) … not sure why Dressel keeps coming up today!

Joann Freed, EARLY ROMAN AMPHORAS IN THE COLLECTION OF THE MUSEUM OF CARTHAGE, EMC/CV XL, n.s. 15, 1996, 119-155

A Major Bust in Agrigento

A doctor had some 930 archaeological artifacts in his possession … seems to be one of those ‘private museum’ situations:

I carabinieri del nucleo tutela patrimonio culturale della Sicilia e del Comando provinciale dei carabinieri di Agrigento hanno sequestrato 930 reperti archeologici all’interno dell’abitazione di un medico agrigentino. Secondo quanto ha spiegato il capitano Giuseppe Marseglia del nucleo tutela patrimonio culturale di Palermo si tratta del maggiore sequestro di reperti archeologici degli ultimi dieci anni in Sicilia. I militari hanno sequestrato diversi crateri a figure rosse di epoca greca, ma anche reperti protostorici, bizantini, ellenistici ed anche del basso medioevo. Il provvedimento di sequestro e’ stato firmato dal sostituto procuratore Giacomo Forte e dal procuratore aggiunto Ignazio Fonzo. Il medico e’ stato denunciato per ricettazione e la sua posizione e’ al vaglio della magistratura. A mettere i carabinieri sulle tracce del “museo privato” e’ stata una segnalazione. Tutti i reperti saranno consegnati ora alla Soprintednenza di Agrigento. Il loro valore si aggira attorno a un milione di euro.

via 930 REPERTI ARCHEOLOGICI SEQUESTRATI A AGRIGENTO | AGI.

Also Seen: Papandreou’s Odyssey

The Greek p.m. comments on the bailout:

On Friday, Papandreou said he hoped accessing the rescue package would give Greece the breathing room it needs to move forward on his reform agenda, which includes modernizing the Greek state and tackling the country’s pension morass. Evoking the ancient hero Odysseus and his epic journey home from the Trojan War, the American-born Prime Minister also warned that Greeks should have no illusions about how tough the process will be. “We are on a difficult path, a new odyssey for Greece and for the Greek nation,” he said. “But we know the way to Ithaca, and we have charted the waters in our quest.” Odysseus’ quest took 10 years. The Greeks can only hope their journey to fiscal solvency won’t take as long.

via Greek PM Papandreou Asks E.U. and IMF for Financial Help – TIME.

… assuming the war is over, of course …

Citanda: The Death of Pythagoras

Here’s the spoiler (the conclusion) of a nice article in Philosophy Now:

Suddenly Pythagoras came to a stop. A vast bean field stretched before him. He stood frozen, uncertain what to do. His eyes focused on a single bean dangling inches from his papyrus- covered feet. So true was he to his ideals that, even at the risk of losing his own life, he was unwilling to trample upon even a single bean. Staring down upon that vibrant bean, the sun low in the sky, he imagined it to be blossoming into a divine ripeness before him. And as he stood there, hesitating, contemplating his next move, his pursuers caught up with him. They lifted their weapons, and bringing the knifes down hard, spilled Pythagoras’ blood on the plants – ending his life for the sake of a bean, and for the deep wisdom immersed in that diminutive cosmic object.

… a case of “Bean there, done that”?

via The Death of Pythagoras | Philosophy Now .

Possible Roman Burial from Attard (Malta)

Brief text accompanying this video (sans commentary) from the Times of Malta:

Government workers stumbled on an ancient tomb during excavation works at Ġnien Ħal Warda in Attard this morning.

The tomb including skeletal remains and an amphora.Attard Local Council, which is responsible for the works, immediately alerted the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, whose experts are trying to date the find.

Council officials said the remains could be over 2,500 years old.

I’m guessing that’s a Dressel 20 amphora, which would make this a 2nd or 3rd century A.D. group burial, but I will happily be corrected on that identification.

via: Ancient tomb unearthed in Attard | Times of Malta

UPDATE (A few hours later):

Just came across this news report (with sound) which seems to suggest the burial is Punic, but I don’t have a clue what they’re saying:

Interesting Career Path for Ousamane Diop

Ousmane Diop, chairman of the Modern Languages Department of the Roxbury Latin School, was installed as the Stanley J. Bernstein Professor of Modern Languages on April 13. Diop is a longtime Roxbury Latin teacher and a resident of Roslindale.

A native of Senegal, Diop joined the Roxbury Latin faculty in 1994, a graduate of Oberlin College with degrees in French and mathematics. He later earned a master’s degree in education from Harvard University. At Oberlin he starred in tennis, one of the top players in that school’s history, ranking sixth in doubles by the ITA in his senior year. In 2006 he was inducted into Oberlin’s John W. Heisman Club’s Athletic Hall of Fame. In addition to teaching French, Diop serves as the school’s varsity tennis coach.

There is perhaps no more respected and more revered faculty member at Roxbury Latin than Diop. In his remarks to the assembled school community and guests, headmaster Kerry Brennan said, “For all of his 15 and a half years at Roxbury Latin, Mr. Diop epitomized all that we have come to expect and admire in the men and women who make up our faculty. He is a teacher, counselor, coach, adviser and mentor to scores of young men in his charge, a cherished and esteemed colleague of our faculty and staff. We are all better off from an association with Mr. Diop.”

More:  Diop installed as professor of modern languages at Roxbury Latin | West Roxbury Transcript.

Roman Altar Stones from Musselburgh

Drem
Image via Wikipedia

Interesting item from the BBC:

Roman altar stones dating back almost 2000 years have been found at a cricket pavilion in Musselburgh, East Lothian.

The stones have been described as the most significant find of their kind in the past 100 years.

Renovations were planned at the pavilion but archaeologists had to survey the protected building before work could begin.

Their unearthing of the stones and other artefacts has postponed the planned developments on the pavilion.

George Findlater, senior inspector of ancient monuments at Historic Scotland, said: “The stones have carvings and quite possibly inscriptions which can have a wealth of information on them, a lot of data about the people and their religion at that time.”

At least one of the altars is from the 2nd Century and is dedicated to the Roman God Jupiter.

Councillor Paul McLennan, cabinet member for community wellbeing at East Lothian Council, said: “The discovery of these remains is particularly exciting as it is not often that Roman altar stones are discovered during an archaeological excavation in Scotland.

“This helps with the emerging picture of life in and around the Roman fort at Inveresk during the second century.”

via Roman altar stones unearthed at Scottish cricket ground | BBC News .

Citanda: Oriental Institute News & Notes Now Online

Chuck Jones has been mentioning this one in various fora … it’s the newsletter which members of the OI get — occasional ClassCon and a nice example of what ‘organization’ newsletters can be. (Warning: the pdf files are huge … not for slow connections):

Homeric Bluegrass?

The conclusion to a piece about the musical proclivities of some Georgetown profs:

Professor Alex Sens of the classics department also uses music to teach students about ancient Greece. Sens asserts that just as musical improvisation draws upon a storehouse of musical elements that have developed over a number of generations, so too poetry continually revisits the customs of its predecessors.

“The dynamics of oral poetry is a snapshot of older traditions,” Sens says. “There is the same tension between tradition and formulation in the Homeric epics as there is in rock ’n’ roll, for example.”
As an accomplished musician himself, Sens would know.

What began as an alternative career option in college turned into a passion outside of his study of ancient Greek and Hellenistic society. Though his creative spirit contributes to his academic life, Sens admits that for him, music is often a release.
Sens is currently a member of Big Chimney, a bluegrass band made up of local musicians, including a member of the SEIU, a staff member of the Department of Energy and a Navy officer. Sens performs on the dobro — “a Hawaiian guitar but louder” — with the band throughout the D.C. area.

Sens has had significant success with his bands in the past, releasing a number of albums and, making appearances at various Georgetown functions, such as Friday Music Concert Series and New Student Convocation. His choices of venue are just as wide-ranging as his repertoire, which spans from traditional bluegrass to rock ’n’ roll covers of groups like Led Zeppelin.

“I thought he was just another failed musician academic,” says fellow classics professor Charles McNelis, whom Sens invited to one of his concerts when McNelis began teaching at Georgetown. But the concert changed his perception, recalls McNelis, who decided to go to hear his colleague play at The Birchmere in Alexandria, a 25,000-seat theater.

“I was really impressed and amazed,” McNelis says.
This selection of dynamic professors demonstrates that art has the ability to both complement and enhance academic study. In music and in learning, the best ideas grow from the place where creative improvisation and structured form collide. Music provides an outlet to challenge norms and create new modes of thinking. In the case of these three professors, it is music that brings this higher dimension of thinking to the classroom. You never know — next time you’re at the 930 Club, you may see your professor rocking out onstage.

via A Sound Education: Georgetown Professors Combine Art.

Kathleen Coleman on Fatal Ambitions

In case you’re at Cambridge a few hours from now:

Professor Kathleen Coleman, Professor of Latin at Harvard University and renowned author on Latin literature and history will give Newnham’s biennial Jane Harrison Memorial Lecture on Friday, 23 April 2010.

She’ll argue that pushy parents and a competitive society driving youngsters to extremes to succeed is far from a modern phenomenon.

Entitled “Fatal ambitions: the hazards of educating the gifted and talented in Ancient Rome”, Professor Coleman will discuss how literary, musical, and athletic contests with special categories for children were imported from Greece to Rome. She’ll reveal how less wealthy classes embraced these competitions, with an eager eye on the advantages to be gained from success, but that even then, some educators worried that the children were being pushed too hard and in some cases, to the grave.

Professor Coleman received her graduate education at Oxford University and joined the faculty of Harvard University in 1998 after a teaching career in Africa and Ireland. She has published extensively in the areas of Latin literature and history. She has also been active in the media, contributing to programmes on the BBC, National Public Radio, the Discovery Channel, Grenada Television, and the History Channel. Professor Coleman was appointed special consultant to Hollywood’s Dreamworks studio when it produced the cinema blockbuster ‘Gladiator’, but she asked for her name to be removed from the film’s credits because she felt her advice wasn’t reflected in it when it was released.

In her lecture she’ll suggest that while precocious children and ambitious parents are a universal phenomenon in advanced societies, culturally specific circumstances were also factors in ancient Rome. With children regarded as mini-adults, and literacy seen as the key to social advancement; Professor Coleman argues that the ability to perform at virtuoso level was one of the hallmarks of Roman culture and that the accompanying pressure to do so blighted the lives of the gifted and talented children of Ancient Rome.

The Newnham Jane Harrison Memorial has been hosted by Newnham since 1928. It was created to honour the memory of Jane Ellen Harrison (1850-1928) who studied and lectured in Classics at Newnham. She was renowned for her public lectures on Greek art and for her unconventional and outspoken views. As a pioneering female scholar, Harrison was at the centre of a revolution in the study of Greek culture and religion, undermining the conventional view of Greek culture as essentially intellectual and “rational”; while at the same time deploying French anthropological theory in the attempt to understand Greek religion. She wrote on a wide variety of subjects, from Russian language and literature to women’s suffrage and herself.

The Jane Harrison Memorial Lecture: “Fatal Ambitions: The Hazards of Educating the Gifted and Talented in Ancient Rome” will be given in LG17, the Law Faculty, Sidgwick site on Friday 23 April at 5.30pm. All are welcome and no booking is required.

via Pushy parents in a competitive society: how ancient Roman teens had it tough too | Physorg.

PreRoman Tomb from Foligno

Most of the interesting stuff is in the first couple sentences of this one … a sixth-century female burial along with an iron fibula and amber necklace …

Una tomba a tumulo di eta’ preromana e’ stata rinvenuta a Foligno nel corso dei lavori di realizzazione della Variante Nord della citta’; all’interno della tomba e’ stata individuata una sepoltura femminile risalente al VI secolo avanti Cristo. Ritrovato anche il corredo, composto da fibule in ferro, una collana d’ambra, vasellame in impasto…

More: FOLIGNO SCOPERTA TOMBA ETA PREROMANA CON CORREDO E VASELLAME – Agenzia di stampa Asca.

David Davies on Archaeological Traces of LitTrad

Interesting incipit from the UDallas University paper:

On Thursday, at 7:30 p.m. in the Art History Auditorium, the Rome office gave the third installment of the Rome Walking Tour in Irving, a series of lectures designed to both prepare future Romers for their semester abroad and enhance the Rome experience for past Romers, as well as for people who have never yet gone to Rome. Dr. David Davies of the English and classics departments spoke on “Archaeological Traces of Literary Traditions I: Facts of Fiction.”

Davies began his lecture by holding up a dollar bill and explaining that the eagle on the back is the bird of Zeus, accented with the olive branch and the brace of arrows. That this image appears on the bill is representative of the government’s use of art to speak to the nation. As such, the eagle represents an independent power capable of both peace and war. Also on the back of the dollar bill is the Latin phrase, “Annuit coeptus” – “he has nodded at our beginnings,” a line from the Aeneid describing the foundation of the Roman people.

With this beginning, Davies explained that he wanted to make his audience aware of the many images from the Lit Trad I poems scattered around, specifically in Rome. “The audience of the poems was so captivated that they wanted artistic representations of them to remind them.” Davies said that he wanted to make some suggestions on how to understand these images. Therefore, the first part of his lecture he called “Art, or how to look at it.” First, he cited the example of Pasquino, one of the seven “talking” statues of Rome, a badly worn marble statue which, in the middle ages, Romans would scribble messages near to voice their dissatisfaction with the reigning powers. Davies explained that the guide books will alert the tourist of this story, but will fail to identify the statue as a representation of Menelaus defending the fallen Patroclus. “You have to know the stories from which the artists took their inspiration,” Davies said.

The rest: Davies gives lecture on archaeological traces of Lit Trad I – News.

Citanda: Mary Beard on Ostracism

The incipit of Mary Beard’s latest:

One of the smart ideas of the ancient Athenian democracy was the system of ostracism. If the people wanted to decide between the policies of two different politicians, and they were deadlocked — they had a vote and simply exiled one of them…

More: A Dons Life by Mary Beard – Times Online – A three-cornered election: the ancient Athenian solution.

Romans and Dacians Get Along Just Fine

Just a little fyi tidbit … something may have been lost in translation:

Tens of Romanians established in Italy came to Circo Massimo and in the streets of Rome in order to applaud and encourage the „Dacians” and the „Romans” of the Terra Dacica Aeterna Association in Cluj-Napoca (north-western Romania), who participated in the Natale di Roma history festival that was held over April 16-21.Likewise, many Romanians accompanied the „Dacians” and the „Romans” in Cluj-Napoca to the Trajan’s Column monument, which displays scenes from the wars between the Dacians and the Romans that occurred 19 centuries ago.One of the festival’s important moments was the parade, attended by almost 1,700 participants. They wore costumes identical to the ones worn 2,000 years ago, they marched in the streets of the ancient Rome area and presented their honours to the officials.

via Romanians living in Italy congratulate „Dacians” and „Romans” in Cluj | Financiarul.

Ptolemaic Coin Hoard

Lots of coverage of this one, but all of it very brief:

Archaeologists have uncovered bronze coins bearing the image of ancient Egyptian ruler King Ptolemy III in an oasis south of the capital, the culture ministry announced on Thursday.Also found by the Egyptian team were necklaces made of ostrich eggshell, it said.The 383 items dating back more than 2,250 years were found near Lake Qarun in Fayum oasis, around 120 kilometres (75 miles) from Cairo, the ministry said in a statement, adding that they were in excellent condition.The coins weighed 32 grams (1.12 ounces) each, with one face depicting the god Amun and the other the words “king” and “Ptolemy III” in Greek along with his effigy, the statement said.

Other objects from different periods were also found during the dig, in addition to parts of a whale skeleton around 42 million years old, it added.

The ministry said it was the first time Egyptian archaeologists had found necklaces made from ostrich eggshell at Fayum.

Of Greek origin, the Ptolemaic dynasty ruled from around 330 BC to 30 BC and was Egypt’s last before the country fell under Roman rule. Queen Cleopatra was the dynasty’s final sovereign.

via Egypt unearths coins more than 2,250 years old |Middle East Online.

… we’ll be updating this later with more coverage and any photos I manage to find.