Nemean Meteor?

Length: 550 cm. Width: 450 cm. (whole mosaic).
Image via Wikipedia

An item up at Fortean Times about Ernst Chladni caught my eye a couple of days ago because it included this paragraph:

In fairness to the Age of Reason’s meteor­ite debunkers, an awful lot of superstition and folk tales fell from the sky. The large meteor that came down on Ensisheim, Alsace, in 1492 was housed in the local church as an example of the “wrath of God”, while practically any stones that looked odd – from fossil shark’s teeth to prehistoric flint tools – were touted as “thunderstones” that had fallen during thunderstorms. The statue of the goddess Diana at Ephesus (probably carved from a meteorite) “fell from the sky”, as did the Nemean Lion, which Hercules had to defeat as the first of his 12 Labours (an association preserved in the constell­ation of Leo and the Leonid meteor shower). The Council of Claremont in France, which proclaimed the First Crusade in 1095, was preceded by portents including an ominous shower of meteors.

We should point out that the claim about the image of Diana ‘falling from the sky’ only appears in the Acts of the Apostles (19.35), as far as I’m aware, and otherwise I think the image most of us associate with Ephesus was originally made of wood. The second assertion made above — about the Nemean Lion somehow being associated with a meteor shower — is a new one to me, although one can follow a line of thinking which would go something like: Constellation Leo (which the Greeks associated with the Nemean Lion) -> Leonid meteor shower -> Nemean Lion as meteorite. Fred Schaff’s The Starry Room mentions in passing:

Gertrude and James Jobes mention a version of the tale of Hercules in which his foe the Nemean Lion is said to have fallen from the moon (“in the form of a meteor”, the Jobeses write).

This is presumably from the Jobes’ Outer Space: Myths, Names, Meanings, Calendars, which I do not have access to. Has anyone read of a version of the Nemean Lion tale which does make this lion-meteorite connection?

And nobody will really know where lieth those little things with the sort of raffia work base, that has an attachment …

ANA-MPA  just set the record, I think, for vagueness in archaeological reporting:

A clay vessel and a large fragment of pottery were located at the bottom of the sea by two foreign nationals on board the French flag leisure boat “ISALIO” that had anchored at Garitsa Bay off the Ionian Sea island of Corfu.

The findings were brought to the surface on Tuesday after the local Coast Guard was informed of the discovery and will be handed over to the responsible authorities.

via Foreign tourists discovered antiquities in the sea region of Corfu.

Another Cleopatra Beauty Secret?

We’ve heard of assorted beauty secrets from the Egyptian queen before, but this one is — as far as I can tell — absolutely new:

The cosmetics industry is always creating rejuvenation and beauty products. Historical beauty icons often provide inspiration for new formulas to be created. Such is the case of gold lifting, a treatment inspired in one of the rituals of Egyptian queen Cleopatra. “Some historical records show that she used to sleep wearing a gold mask to prevent aging,” says cosmetologist Jana?na Lacava, who is in charge of development and treatment at the Deep Laser advanced aesthetics centre, in the city of Sao Paulo.

… and absolute B.S..

As Fair As Cleopatra.

Citanda: The Deadly Styx River and the Death of Alexander

I don’t think we mentioned that, subsequent to all the news coverage about the possible poisoning of Alexander, Adrienne Mayor’s ‘working paper’ on the subject became available at the Princeton/Stanford Working Papers in Classics site:

Here’s the abstract:

Plutarch, Arrian, Diodorus, Justin, and other ancient historians report that rumors of
poisoning arose after the death of Alexander in Babylon in 323 BC. Alexander’s close
friends suspected a legendary poison gathered from the River Styx in Arcadia, so
corrosive that only the hoof of a horse could contain it. It’s impossible to know the real
cause of Alexander’s death, but a recent toxicological discovery may help explain why
some ancient observers believed that Alexander was murdered with Styx poison. We
propose that the river harbored a killer bacterium that can occur on limestone rock
deposits. This paper elaborates on our Poster presentation, Toxicological History Room,
XII International Congress of Toxicology, Barcelona, 19-23 July 2010, and Society of
Toxicology Annual Meeting, Washington DC, March 2011.

CONF: Clash of the Titans – Leeds colloquium

Seen on Classicists (please send any responses to the people/institution mentioned in the post, not to rogueclassicism!)

In the week of its official DVD release, the Classics Department at the University of Leeds is pleased to ‘Release the Kraken’ with a half-day colloquium on Leterrier’s Clash of the Titans on Friday, 29 October 2010.

Schedule and details of speakers are given below:

12.00 – 12.30 p.m.: Coffee in Staff Common Room (Parkinson 119)

12.30 – 12.40 p.m.: Welcome (Steve Green)

12.45 – 1.30 p.m.: Steven Green ( Leeds)

Between Heaven and Earth: Perseus and the Triumph of Humanity

1.45 – 2.30 p.m.: Gideon Nisbet (Birmingham)

God Mode: Unlocking Clash of the Titans with Sony’s God of War

2.45 – 3.30 p.m.: Dunstan Lowe (Reading)

"What do we need the gods for?" Olympian Mythology in 21st century

3.45 – 4.30 p.m.: Concluding Discussion and Future Developments

4.30 – 6.30 p.m.: Drinks and Early Dinner

There is no fee for attendance, but those interested in attending should notify Steven Green ( so that I can ensure adequate seating/ coffee provision.

Manicure Set from Myra-Andriake (Turkey)

The only version in English that I can find of this (in multiple newspapers) has the story tied to that Swedish phallic thing that was in the news for most folks last week. Here’s what’s important for us:

Archaeologists have uncovered an ancient Roman personal care set at Myra-Andriake in Antalya’s district of Demre, Turkey.

Professor Nevzat Cevi, an academic from Akdeniz University’s Archeology Department and colleagues excavated an 1800-year-old pair of bronze tweezers and a manicure rasp at Andriake Port.

“Now, we are aware that the Lycian women of the Roman period 1,800 years ago were living well-groomed by using a pair of tweezers, rasp and mirror,” The Hurriyet Daily News quoted Cevi as saying. […]

This appears to be the original article; no photo, alas (manicure set or medical kit?) … not sure what was left out of the above:

Conserving Your Summer

One of the potential ‘career areas’ I don’t think we stress enough in the Classics world is conservation, so here’s a piece from UD Daily wherein a student describes her experiences:

This summer I am working in the conservation lab at the archaeological site of Poggio Colla in the Mugello Valley of Tuscany, Italy. Poggio Colla has been annually excavated for the past 17 seasons by Southern Methodist University, Franklin and Marshall College and the University of Pennsylvania Museum.

The site is an active field school where students learn the techniques of archaeological excavation. Additionally, conservation activities, illustration, zooarchaeology, cataloguing and research are carried out at two lab facilities.

Poggio Colla is an Etruscan settlement site with habitation dating from the 7th century to the 2nd century BCE. It is also believed that the site may have functioned as a sanctuary for ritual purposes during the later period.

As an intern in the conservation lab, I work with one other graduate intern, Nicole Ledoux, from the UCLA/Getty Conservation Program, and supervising conservators Ariel O’Connor and Allison Lewis. In the lab, we examine and document the finds before cleaning and stabilizing them so that they can be safely handled and studied by archaeologists and students. We have also been working on rehousing some of the important bronze finds from past seasons.

This season, five new trenches have been opened and the finds so far are predominantly ceramics, bronze, iron and bone. I am working on cleaning and excavating the interior of a large impasto holmos, a large ceramic base for a vessel. After cleaning is completed, I will be stabilizing cracks and joining fragments to reconstruct the remaining portions.

Since the site is an active field school, we have given tours of the lab to current students and taught them about the field of conservation and the differences between archaeological site work and museum work. We gave a conservation workshop on methods of ceramic reconstruction where they learned to reassemble broken ceramics using facsimile terracotta pots and conservation adhesives.

It has been a wonderful experience to work hands-on with such a variety of archaeological materials and to collaborate with specialists from many fields. I have enjoyed sharing our work in the conservation lab with other students and staff. Additionally, working in Italy has given me the opportunity to travel to museums and archaeological sites to compare conservation methods with those I have been studying at the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation.

Mosaics at Chedworth Roman Villa

From the BBC:

More Roman mosaics have been uncovered at Chedworth Roman Villa in Gloucestershire.

The mosaics have been hidden for centuries but have now been unearthed by archaeologists.

They will now be permanently displayed as part of a £3million project to develop the ancient site.

The work is all part of a project to improve the protection for the fragile Roman remains and to improve visitor facilities.

“Our archaeologists have known these mosaics existed on site since they were first seen during the Victorian excavations but later re-buried,” said Pippa Wise, Chedworth programme officer.

“It was agreed they would be better protected if excavated again and put on display in a proper environmentally controlled building which will protect them from frost and other damage.”

The £3million scheme will see new environmentally controlled conservation shelters replace old Victorian sheds.

The new building will have walkways above the mosaics allowing visitors to look down on them more easily as well as interactive displays about life in Roman Britain.

The mosaics will be unveiled at a special community day on Tuesday, 27th July, 2010 when local schools and community groups will be invited to the villa to celebrate.

This is clearly a followup to their Lottery Grant announced a few months ago

Restoring Eastgate Roman Tower

From the BBC:

A Lincolnshire hotel is working with English Heritage to restore one of the county’s most important Roman sites.

The North Tower of the East Gate in Lincoln is one of only a few surviving Roman gates in Britain.

It was first excavated in the 1960s, but now requires major restoration work to be carried out.

The restoration project will be funded by a grant of £53,000 from English Heritage, with a further £20,000 of funding from the Lincoln Hotel.

City of Lincoln Archaeologist Mick Jones explained: “It is important that the Roman East Gate is restored because it is a high-profile, prominent monument, it is one of the first things visitors see.”

Christopher Nevile, owner of the Lincoln Hotel, agreed: “Lincoln is such an important historical city and we attract so many tourists who are interested in discovering more about our heritage and culture. We want to do our bit to preserve this piece of history on our doorstep.”