Another Bulgarian Bust … Coins This Time

I’m always curious what happens to the artifacts ‘after’ …

A young Bulgarian in possession of 130 ancient coins was stopped on the Greece-Turkey border, police in the north-eastern Greek city of Komotini announced today.

Intercepted at the border crossing in the town of Kastanies yesterday, the man – whose identity has not been revealed, had over 100 coins dating to the ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine eras, which he claimed he had found in the Turkish countryside using special detection equipment, Dimitris Hotzidis, head of customs in Kastanies, told Greek news agency ANA.

The coins have been transferred to archaeological authorities in Komotini, and the Bulgarian has been passed on to prosecutors in the nearby city of Orestiada.

According to police in Komotini, cited by international media, theft and trafficking of archaeological artefacts has been on the rise in the last couple of months, particularly between Greece and Bulgaria.

via Bulgarian Caught with 130 Ancient Coins on Greece-Turkey Border | Balkan Travellers.

Citanda: The Punder Years

Here’s another one for your rss reader … the ‘Word Lizard’ has an interesting little blog on puns, usually with some historical connection … the most recent post, e.g., includes the phrase ‘Curculio vespertilio’ ; you’ll have to visit for the context (put your groaning pads on first):

The Art of Ancient Greek Theater @ the Getty

From a Getty Press release:

The Art of Ancient Greek Theater, on view at the Getty Villa from August 26, 2010 – January 3, 2011, is the first exhibition in the United States in over fifty years to focus on the artistic representation of theatrical performance in ancient Greece. Assembling international loans of antiquities from many museums and private collections, the exhibition illustrates the ways in which dramatic performance was depicted in the visual arts of ancient Greece between the fifth and the first centuries B.C. The exhibition is being presented in conjunction with the Getty Villa’s annual outdoor theater performance, Sophocles’ Elektra.

“Ancient art and theater share a strong and enduring connection–one that is inspired by mythology and the social, cultural, and political realities of life in ancient Greece and Rome,” says David Bomford, acting director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “With this exhibition and our annual production in the outdoor theater, we are delighted to bring ancient theater alive at the Getty Villa and invite our visitors to join us and discover how those themes found in ancient times persist today.”

The Art of Ancient Greek Theater spans centuries of artistic production throughout the cities of the Mediterranean. The exhibition showcases magnificent Athenian and South Italian vases as well as significant marble reliefs and numerous terracotta masks and figurines drawn from major collections in Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Themes of the Exhibition

Elaborate costumes, complex choreography, scenic architecture, and the mask—which continues to be an icon for tragedy and comedy—are vividly depicted in the visual arts of ancient Greece.

An introductory section introduces visitors to the architectural and physical environment of ancient Greek theater. The importance of drama to the civic and religious life in the ancient Greek world is reinforced by a large mural map, locating about one hundred ancient theaters in the Mediterranean. The map is complemented by marble sculptures of actors and poets as well as a model of the Theater of Dionysos in Athens, the home of the festival of the Great Dionysia, where the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes were originally performed.

The exhibition is organized in three general themes. The first theme is devoted to the historical context of ancient Greek performance. Springing from the worship of Dionysos, theatrical performance developed out of the god’s religious rites and festivals. Objects on view depict actors, costumes, masks, choruses and chorusmen, with Dionysos the god of theater as motivator and benefactor.

The second theme focuses on tragedy and the satyr plays and will present comparative installations of vase-paintings inspired by ancient performances of Athens’ renowned tragedies: Aeschylus’ Oresteia; Euripides’ Medea, Herakles, Children of Herakles, Andromache and Iphigenia in Aulis; and Sophocles’ Oedipus. Objects representing satyr play will be anchored by the exceptional loan of the great Pronomos Vase from the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples.

The third theme of the exhibition features comedy. Depictions of comic parodies and farces, where gods and centaurs share the stage with plotting slaves and thieves, and genre vase-painting represents costumed and masked actors in scenes on ancient stages, include some of the most vivid painting from the ancient world.

“We hope that our visitors will come away with a rich understanding not only of the context of ancient Greek theatrical performance but of the many ways artists interpreted the choruses and plays they witnessed. These vase-paintings, reliefs and figurines are often the only evidence we have for many aspects of ancient drama.

Significantly, the heightened visual style and attention to details such as costumes and choreography result in portrayals of ancient actors, poets, and musicians that give us an immediate sense of their performance on stage,” says Mary Louise Hart, associate curator of Antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum, who curated the exhibition.

Performance

During the run of The Art of Ancient Greek Theater, the Getty Museum will present Sophocles’ Elektra directed by Carey Perloff, artistic director of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, with a new translation commissioned from Timberlake Wertenbaker. Elektra will be performed in the Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater at the Getty Villa on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, September 9 through October 2, 2010. In addition, the Villa Theater Lab will present Understanding a Satyr Play: The Trackers on November 19 and 20, 2010.

Publication and Related Events

The exhibition will be accompanied by a companion volume co-authored by Mary Louise Hart; Michael Walton, Professor Emeritus of Drama at the University of Hull, United Kingdom; François Lissarrague, Professor at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales Centre Louis Gernet, Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art, Paris; Martine Denoyelle, École des hautes études en sciences sociales Centre Louis Gernet, Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art; and H. Alan Shapiro, W.H. Collins Vickers Professor of Archaeology at Johns Hopkins University.

Time Team Finds a Roman Villa!

Time Team logo
Image via Wikipedia

But we have to wait a while for the television program:

A GLIMPSE of life under the Romans has been unearthed by TV star Tony Robinson and his Time Team archaeologists in the village of Castor.

Filming in the historic grounds of St Kyneburgha Church for the BBC show, to be broadcast next spring, the team made great strides in uncovering the mysterious past of the site.

Guided by previous excavations carried out by 19th century archaeologist Edmund Artis, who is buried at the church, Mr Robinson and his team were delighted to discover the remains of what could be a plush Roman villa dating back to the second or third century.

The team has been digging since Tuesday but the biggest discovery happened yesterday lunchtime, when a mosaic floor was discovered beneath some 17th century graves.

The finding certainly pleased Mr Robinson, who said: “I was initially surprised at how little we were finding, given the history of the site, but it was just a case of digging a little deeper.

“The mosaic does seem to back up previous suggestions that there was a grand Roman building or set of buildings.

“The problem with Castor is that a lot of its history is a bit foggy and nobody knows the complete picture, but we’re hoping we will be able to contribute to a greater understanding about its past.”

Among the discoveries made were several walls which suggest that the area was used as a private complex by a wealthy Roman citizen, complete with Roman baths near Peterborough Road.

Time Team archaeologist Phil Harding was working on unearthing the mosaic flooring in the graveyard and said there was evidence previous gravediggers could not find their way through.

He said: “We’ve been finding a lot of bones in the trench and it seems like gravediggers were finding it impossible to dig past the mosaic and so were just burying people three feet deep.”

Current church gravedigger David Reed said he was pleased that the dig had been successful. He said: “It’s nice to see so much history in this area being brought out into the open.”

via Time Team dig up Roman villa at Castor | Peterborough Today.

Pondering the Wine Dark Sea

The incipit of a review of Guy Deutscher, Through the Language Glass … looks interesting:

This tale begins with a Liberal leader and his innovative exploration of the colour blue. Not Nick Clegg and the Tories, but William Gladstone and his concern about Homer’s use of colour in The Iliad and The Odyssey. Gladstone was the first prominent intellectual to notice something awry with the Greek poet’s sense of colour. Homer never described the sky as blue. In fact, Homer barely used colour terms at all and when he did they were just peculiar. The sea was “wine-looking”. Oxen were also “wine-looking”. And, to Gladstone, the sea and oxen were never of the same colour. His explanation was that the Ancient Greeks had not developed a colour sense, and instead saw the world in terms of black and white with only a dash of red.

Guy Deutscher’s interest in the Homeric eye is less about evolution or optics than it is linguistic. Can we see something for which we have no word? Yes. The Greeks were able to distinguish shades of blue just as vividly as we can now, despite lacking a specific vocabulary for them. Yet, writes Deutscher, even though Gladstone was wrong about the Greeks’ sense of perception, his hunch about the emergence of colour words was “so sharp and far-sighted that much of what he wrote . . . can hardly be bettered today”.

It turned out that it wasn’t just the Ancient Greeks who never said the sky was blue. None of the ancient languages had a proper word for blue. What we now call blue was once subsumed by older words for black or for green. (In fact, this is why in Japan green lights are actually a bluer shade of green than in the rest of the world. The word used for the green of traffic lights is ao, which used to mean “green and blue” but now means blue. Rather than change the word, they changed the colour.)

… I’m trying to recall ‘wine looking’ oxen … I’m also wondering about that phrase “black and white with only a dash of red” … kind of sounds like ’300′.