Heavy Rain Uncovers an Iberian Necropolis

Some problems in translation, alas:

These works have recovered more than twenty burials, mostly groups, which are dated the first century BC and show clear Iberian cremation rites.

Iberian necropolis dated 100 BC in Arjona (Jaén) Heavy rain in Arjona uncovers the further remains

The accidental finding in Arjona (Jaén) was discovered in the remains of an Iberian necropolis of the first century BC, some of the archaeological work is to be presented in June at an international meeting.

The box, cube-shaped and made of sandstone, has, on its four sides, relief’s of different scenes of mourning, with fights between two warriors, both on horseback or on foot. The stone box has a cover and inside were the ashes of two people, according to a coroner at the Complutense University of Madrid who have analyzed the remains belonging to a man and a woman, burned less than 800 degrees, as evidenced some pieces of bones from the hand and foot. The discovery was made incidentally during the rains last year near Arjona.

As the winter rains threatened to damage the site, Arturo Ruiz and Manuel Molinos, director and deputy director of the Andalusian Center of Iberian Archaeology (IAAC), respectively, promoted an emergency archaeological intervention, conducted between February and May.

via Iberian necropolis dated 100 BC in Arjona (Jaén) Heavy rain in Arjona uncovers the further remains | Barcelona Reporter .

Latest Italian Bust

Italian police in the Sicilian capital Palermo have seized ancient artefacts after several raids which uncovered an alleged operation that used the Internet for selling the finds. Since the beginning of the year Operation Archeweb has found 69 suspicious pieces in the hands of alleged traffickers.

Police specialising in protecting cultural patrimony have seized small Greek, Roman statues, coins, vases and other pieces since the beginning of the year, the police said on Thursday.

The archeological pieces have been handed over to authorities in the Italian culture ministry.

Seven suspects may be charged with receiving stolen goods from illegal archeological digs.

Italy’s rich archeological heritage spans the entire peninsula, including Etruscan tombs and Roman villas. Ancient artefacts found in Italy are considered state property.

via Italy: Police seize archeological artefacts in raids | Adnkronos.

What To Do With A Classics Degree

Interesting job/life:

Liana Lupas stands out in New York, even by the standards of a city that defines itself with superlatives and seems to have world-class specialists in every conceivable discipline. She calls herself “the only librarian in the world who takes care of one book.”

Of course, that book is “the” Book, the Bible. And in two decades with the American Bible Society and the Museum of Biblical Art, Lupas has been responsible for a collection that includes more than 45,000 books of Scripture printed in more than 2,000 languages during six centuries.

“Each and every one is important to me, whether it was a pamphlet printed last month or a first edition printed before 1500. They are part of the same story and should be treated with respect,” Lupas said.

Lupas trained as a classicist in her native Romania, where she earned her doctorate in Greek and Latin. She worked at the University of Bucharest for 21 years before joining her husband in New York in 1984.

“I came as a refugee from the communists,” Lupas told Catholic News Service. Her husband spent many years in labor camps in Romania and the Soviet Union, and the couple was determined to live in freedom with their young daughter, she said.

With a small child at home, Lupas took a job as a library assistant, shelving books at the New York University law library and studied for her master’s in library science at Columbia University. A research project for her studies brought her to the American Bible Society, a venerable 193-year-old institution dedicated to making the Bible available to every person in a language and format each can understand and afford.

“I had seen the place as a tourist and knew they had an extraordinary collection,” Lupas said. “I was also conscious of my accent and figured that ABS was a Christian organization and they might be polite, even kind, to me.”

As it turned out, she had a great experience with the head of the American Bible Society archive and earned an “A” in the course she took. Two years after she completed her master’s degree, she became a cataloger at the society. Within a year, she was the curator.

The society’s Scripture collection is immense and some of the holdings are more rare than others. Lupas said most of its acquisitions are new translations, given by publishers to the organization that serves as a depository library. She is able to buy rare books for the collection with donations from a Friends of the Library organization.

She said that Bibles considered rare might include anything printed before 1700, the earliest translation in a language or geographic area, regardless of age, and Bibles belonging to historic figures, among other criteria.

In 2005, the Museum of Biblical Art opened in the Manhattan building that houses the American Bible Society. Its two galleries and learning center draw tourists, scholars and church-sponsored field trips, according to Lupas. In January, the society loaned 2,200 of its rare volumes to the museum for public exhibits over a 10-year period. Lupas was included in the loan and is now curator of the museum’s rare Bible collection.

About 4,400 people visited the inaugural exhibit, entitled “Pearl of Great Price,” for which Lupas chose 20 items she said “suggest the breadth and depth of the collection.” She included significant translations in English, Japanese and Bengali; Bibles with prominent publishers; those with unique marketing campaigns; and several with famous owners, such as Helen Keller, or intended readers, including Pony Express riders and World War II sailors and airmen.

The latter were New Testaments supplied by the American Bible Society, wrapped in waterproof covers and placed in survival kits on ships and planes. Frank H. Mann, the organization’s general secretary, said in 1943 that it was the first time in the group’s history that it was distributing Scripture he hoped no one would read.

Lupas said she does not have a personal collection of Bibles, because she has unlimited access to the books she calls her friends. But if she could own any one of the rare volumes she curates, Lupas said it would be the Complutensian Polyglot, a Spanish Bible printed in 1514 in Hebrew, Latin, Greek and Aramaic. “It’s an extraordinary book, the pinnacle of Catholic biblical scholarship,” Lupas said. She called it the first great polyglot Bible, or Bible printed in more than one language.

Raised Greek Orthodox, Lupas said she fulfilled a long-held dream to become a Catholic after she settled in New York. She belongs to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Parish in Ridgewood in the Queens borough of New York.

Lupas’ daughter, Maria Cristina, has followed somewhat in her mother’s footsteps. She majored in classics at Georgetown University, graduating with honors in 2000. Her faith journey led to Notre Dame de Vie, a French Carmelite secular institute, which has members in Washington. On Aug. 14 in France, Maria Cristina will profess final vows as a lay Carmelite. Her mother will be at her side.

Librarian oversees rare collection of Bibles from past six centuries | Catholic News Service.

The Latest Bulgarian Bust …

The Bulgarian police have busted a 41-year-old priest, who organized illegal antiques’ sale over the internet.

The priest, identified at D.I., employed by the Vratsa Eparchy, managed to conduct over 1 000 illegal deals in the course of just several months, the Interior informs. He was arrested and pre-trail proceedings were launched.

The police have raided four locations in the capital Sofia, the northern city of Vratsa and the town of Oryahovo, and located 53 Thracian, Rome and Byzantine coins, jewelry and antique vessels along with a bust of Heracles and a marble head of Venus. The authorities have also confiscated an illegally owned rifle, metal detectors, and computer software.

The priest in question is from Vratsa, but since 2002 had worked at the Oryahovo Church.

via Bulgarian Police Bust Priest for Illegal Antique Trading: Bulgarian Police Bust Priest for Illegal Antiques Trading | Sofia News Agency.

Herculaneum Papyri and the EDUCE Project: Update

University of Kentucky Logo
Image via Wikipedia

I think the last time we heard of this was back in July of last year; seems they’re having some difficulties:

Some 2,000-year-old Roman scrolls are stubbornly hanging onto their ancient secrets, defying the best efforts of computer scientists at the University of Kentucky to unlock them.

The researchers have learned much about the scrolls, which were reduced to lumps of carbon in the heat of an eruption by Italy’s Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. But they can’t read what’s written on them.

“What we’ve found is that the problem is even more challenging than we thought going in,” said Brent Seales, Gill professor of engineering in UK’s computer science department and leader of the team working on the scrolls.

The UK team spent a month last summer making numerous X-ray scans of two of the scrolls that are stored at the French National Academy in Paris. They hoped that computer processing would convert the scans into digital images showing the interiors of the scrolls and revealing the ancient writing. The main fear, however, was that the Roman writers might have used carbon-based inks, which would be essentially invisible to the scans.

That fear has turned out to be fact.

“We hoped that we could look for calcium or other trace compounds in the ink that might help us tease out the writing,” Seales said. “But that hasn’t worked.”

Seales says he now hopes that re-scanning the scrolls with more powerful X-ray equipment will reveal the text, which scholars are anxious to read.

The effort is part of UK’s EDUCE project — Enhanced Digital Unwrapping for Conservation and Exploration — which has drawn international attention for using computer technology to peek inside fragile and faded books and manuscripts from antiquity, and produce exact digital copies for study. EDUCE, which Seales launched several years ago, is best known for producing stunning digital images of the oldest known copy of Homer’s Iliad, which is stored in Venice.

The Roman scrolls, however, have been a harder nut to crack.

Hundreds of the scrolls were stored in a Roman villa that was buried under tons of hot ash when Mount Vesuvius destroyed the Roman towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum in one of history’s most famous volcanic eruptions. The scrolls lay hidden for 1,600 years, until excavators stumbled upon them at Herculaneum in 1709.

What they found was a mystery. Volcanic heat had carbonized the scrolls — they resemble lumps of charcoal ready for a barbecue grill — which crumbled when anyone tried to unroll them. Scholars think the scrolls contain writings in Latin by the Roman philosopher Philodemus. But that’s only a guess until someone figures out how to read the scrolls without destroying them.

The UK team hoped to do that with computer magic last year.

Seales says that, in addition to the carbon-ink problem, the sheer volume of computer data produced from the X-ray scans overwhelmed UK’s interactive software. That slowed the system to the point that technicians were typing in commands and waiting half an hour or more for a response, he said.

“We’re not ready to say yet that we’re definitely not going to see the ink,” Seales said. “But we haven’t found a way yet to get at what we want.”

According to Seales, UK is looking at possibly rescanning the scrolls, in partnership with a group in Belgium that built the X-ray scanner used last year. A meeting with the group had to be canceled in April when the eruption of a volcano in Iceland interrupted flights to Europe.

“We’ve been talking with the engineers over there on how we could go back and scan the scrolls again, knowing what we know now, and do a better job of capturing the data we need,” Seales said. He has said that it ultimately might take the creation of new computer technology to unlock the scrolls.

“Of course, we want to be the ones to do that,” he said. “We’ve solved every other part of the problem. This is the missing link.”

UK’s computer imaging has confirmed that the rolled up papyrus scrolls are 30 to 40 feet long, which seems to suggest writing must be present. Why store a 40-foot scroll with no writing on it?

“The scholars are really excited by that,” Seales said. “If the scrolls are that large, think how much text there could be.”

Another item on the project mentions a couple more Homer manuscripts on the ‘scanning list’:

Medusaceratops

Medusa from Clash of the Titans.
Image via Wikipedia

The incipit of an item in the Vancouver Sun:

Two Canadian scientists have announced the discovery of a new species of horned dinosaur — a seven-metre-long, magnificently adorned predecessor of the famed Triceratops — that gobbled plants near the present-day Montana-Alberta border nearly 80 million years ago.

The stunning new species has been identified as Medusaceratops lokii, a nod to two freakish mythological beings that inspired Michael Ryan — the dinosaur’s Ottawa-born co-discoverer– when it came time to assign a name to the creature.

“Medusa” — from the mythic Greek monster whose serpentine hairdo could turn her victims into stone — describes the distinctive “snakelike hooks” found on the ornamental frill at the back of the dinosaur’s skull.

And “Loki” pays homage to the Norse god of mischief, a reference to how tricky it was for Ryan and his research partner — University of Calgary biologist Anthony Russell — to nail down the identity of the big-horned reptile.

“One of the things I have a problem with as a paleontologist is how some of my colleagues come up with terribly unpronounceable names,” said Ryan, a Carleton University graduate who is now an adjunct professor there as well as the head of vertebrate paleontology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

“I like to give my dinosaurs names that roll off the tongue and actually evoke an image,” he told Canwest News Service on Friday.

Mission accomplished.

Thanks to Ryan’s childhood memories of the 1981 fantasy-film classic Clash of the Titans (which featured a memorable animated Medusa) and his nerdy appetite for Marvel comics (which portray Loki as a terrifying, horned villain), the name of the world’s newest dinosaur is an unforgettably vivid blend of classic scientific nomenclature and pop-culture kitsch.

[...]

via Medusaceratops’ name blends mythology, pop culture.