Citanda: Backpacking to Babylon

One of my spiders just dragged this back to my laptop … seems one Theodore May is retracing Alexander’s journey and is documenting his trip in a blog (along with associated tweets) called Backpacking to Babylon. Here’s a bit from the ‘about’ page:

Backpacking to Babylon represents several years of dreaming and planning. This project aims to chronicle Alexander’s long march to Babylon and his legendary rivalry with Darius, and where possible place his exploits in a modern-day context. In viewing the present through the prism of the past, I hope to enrich our understanding of both. Along the way, I hope to share with you many untold stories as well.
In order to do this, I am walking in the footsteps of Alexander the Great through seven countries/territories, over eight months, covering 2,000-plus miles, arriving ultimately in the capital of ancient Babylonia, Babylon, the remains of which are found 50-odd miles south of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. Some readers may quickly reference the Biblical hymn Psalm 137, while others may be more familiar with a popular “modern” interpretation by German disco band Boney M.

This project also aims to explore the limits of new media. Trekking through out-of-the-way places is nothing new — witness the exploits of explorers through the centuries. However, only in the past several years has it become possible for the rest of us at home to come along for the ride.

Check it out at:

Kouroi Followup: Cemetery Found

John Ketseas (thanks!) sends in an item from Naftemporiki (in Greek) which appears to be a followup to that Kouroi story from a week or so ago. It appears that further investigation has found a cemetery in the area, and (I think) some of the parts from one of the kouroi (I may be misreading that one). In any event, here’s a photo from the article:

from naftemporiki

… and for those of you who read modern Greek, here’s the article:

Etruscan House from Grosseto: Followup

We’re getting a few more details on that Etruscan house find at Grosseto which we mentioned last week … here’s an excerpt from ANSA’s coverage:

Following an initial excavation of two weeks, the archaeological team revealed details of the earliest discoveries.

The building’s walls were made of blocks of dried clay, the first ever example of Etruscan-made brick, said Rafanelli. Clay plaster was also found, along with a door handle and the remains of bronze furniture. Of particular interest is the basement of the house. Built of drystone this was apparently used as a cellar for storing food supplies. A massive pitcher which stood in the corner of the main room was used to hold grain.

Other finds include the original flooring of the house, made of crushed earthenware plaster, along with remains of vases, amphorae and plates painted black.

A large quantity of metal nails in the house, along with their placements, indicates the main room might have once contained a kind of mezzanine level built from wooden beams. Six Roman and Etruscan coins discovered on a small alter inside the structure suggest it collapsed in 79 BC, during a period of war sparked by the Roman general Lucius Cornelius Sulla.

Experts believe the building, which was used both as a home and for commercial activity, belonged to a wealthy and influential family at the time of its collapse. The variety of styles discovered so far indicates it was extended and renovated several times during its three centuries of existence. “The building was part of the ancient town of Vetulonia and is much older than other sections of the town uncovered so far,” said Rafanelli. “We also want to work towards transforming this building into an open air museum,” she added, promising the excavations would continue.

via Etruscan home ‘unique discovery’ |

Roger Bagnall Interview

Saw this on the Classics list (tip o’ the pileus to Dennis Webb)… it’s an Australian radio interview with Roger Bagnall all about the Oxford Handbook of Papyrology and it’s actually a very nice intro to papyrology in general. If you don’t have time to listen, click the ‘transcript’ button:

Pompeiian Pigments

Potentially of interest to someone … here’s the abstract (the article itself is payfer, of course):

Powdered pigments found in bowls from the Pompeii archaeological site and some wall-painting fragments from the Vesuvian area (conserved in the National Archaeological Museum of Naples) were investigated by microscopic Raman and FTIR spectroscopies, X-ray diffraction and scanning electron microscopy-energy dispersive X-ray. Brown, red and yellow pigments are common ochres based on goethite and haematite. The blue pigment is Egyptian blue: the presence of tridymite and cristobalite indicates firing temperatures in the 1000-1100 °C range. Pink pigments were prepared both with purely inorganic materials, by mixing haematite and Egyptian blue (violet hue), or presumably by adding an organic dye to an aluminium-silica matrix. A white powder found in a bowl is composed mainly of the unusual pigment huntite (CaMg3(CO3)4). Celadonite is found in the green samples from the wall paintings, together with Egyptian blue and basic lead carbonate, while the heterogeneous green pigment in a bowl shows malachite mixed with goethite, Egyptian blue, haematite, carbon, cerussite and quartz.

There’s a somewhat longer summary at Volcanic spectroscopy (not sure how that’s affiliated with the journal)

This Day in Ancient History: kalendas junias

Roman Emperor Septimius Severus (193-211 CE). ...
Image via Wikipedia

kalendas junias

  • rites in honour of Carna, a nymph who was somehow associated with the health of bodily organs
  • Saecular Games (day 1) — celebrating Rome’s thousand-year anniversary
  • 388 B.C. — dedication of the Temple of Mars (and associated rites thereafter)
  • 344 B.C. — dedication of the Temple of Juno Moneta (and associated rites thereafter)
  • 259 B.C. — dedication of a Temple of the Tempests near the porta Capena (and associated rites thereafter?)
  • 37 A.D. — the emperor Gaius (Caligula) gives the people a congiarium
  • 67 A.D. — the future emperor Vespasian captures Jotapata
  • 165 A.D. — death of Justin Martyr
  • 193 A.D. — emperor-for-a-little-while Didius Julianus is deposed; Septimius Severus is recognized as emperor at Rome