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of the Apostles (19.35), as far as I’m aware, and otherwise I think the image most of us associate with Ephesus was originally made of wood.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.
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..
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.
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 (s.j.green) so that I can ensure adequate seating/ coffee provision.
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:
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.
This is one of those features in the Independent where they break down what’s involved in a university subject, give info about the requirements, etc.:
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 …
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.”
nte diem iii kalendas sextilias
- ludi Victoriae Caesaris (day 11)
- after 101 B.C. — dedication of the Temple to “The Fortune of this Day” (Fortuna Huiusce Diei) and subsequent rites thereafter; presumably this is one of the temples vowed prior to the Battle of Vercellae
- 69 A.D. — destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem (Av 9)
Some good news from the Telegraph:
Some 160 pupils in three schools will be given lessons in the native tongue of Archimedes and Herodotus from September.
The move follows the successful introduction of Latin to dozens of state primaries in England.
The Iris Project, a charity campaigning for the teaching of the Classics, which is leading the latest drive, said the subject had substantial knock-on benefits across the curriculum.
Lorna Robinson, charity director, who will be teaching the one-hour lessons every two weeks, told the Times Education Supplement: “People can be daunted at the idea of learning a language that has a different alphabet as it may feel like an additional challenge.
“Actually, though, we¹ve found that while it does add an extra dimension to the learning it¹s one that people take to quite quickly and really enjoy once they get going.
“Ancient Greek is just a wonderful language, full of beautiful words and fascinating concepts.”
Pupils will be taught the alphabet, basic grammar and vocabulary, as well as learning about ancient Greek culture, such as the development of the Olympic Games and the comedies of Aristophanes.
Latin is currently more widely taught than ancient Greek, although it is still mainly confined to private schools.
Advocates include Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, who recently gave a Latin lesson to teenagers at a London secondary.
Under new plans, three Oxford primary schools will be given Greek lessons from September. A further 10 will get one-off taster sessions.
Sue Widgery, head of East Oxford primary in Cowley, where children speak 26 different languages, said: We were sufficiently enthused by Latin to give it a go with ancient Greek. It heightens children’s sense of language, they can see the connections between languages and it is fun.”
Congrats to Lorna Robinson … a tireless campaigner for such things.
Blic has the story … here’s the important bits:
Director of Archaeological Park Viminacium, Miomir Korac, has said for Tanjug while major excavation was taking place at the Roman amphitheatre site at Viminacium, a sculpture made of jade and of excellent craftsmanship was discovered.
“Only a few days ago we had the discovery of jade figurine more than 35 centimetres long, but this one, just like that first one, is unfortunately not complete. What is fascinating, though, is that it’s made out of one piece and of jade and that the craftsmanship is excellent. This points to the fact the workshop must have been at this very place,” said Korac.
Korac pointed out the latest sculpture shows signs of meticulous work of a master, but that the figurine’s head has not been preserved, neither has its lower torso. The archaeological digging is still under way and Korac hopes further finds at the site will reveal the identity of the master.
Korac says that near the site where the jade figurine was discovered in the amphitheatre, a bronze, gilded eagle was found, obviously once perched upon a two-wheeled cart. [...]
The article includes a photo:
… which I include so you can see that the subject matter is definitely Roman. Now I know what you’re thinking … this piece of jade must have been imported from the East and that’s definitely a possibility, but I find it a bit odd that if there were importations of jade going on that we’d only find it being rarely used in sculptures(off the top of my head, I can only think of a helmet from Dura Europos which had some sort of jade detail) … if you’re trading something potentially valuable, you tend to bring a lot of it, no? In any event, and without getting into the differences between nephrite and jadeite, I bring this up because ages ago I had to do some research about jade for a term paper, and was semi-surprised to learn that there are plenty of examples of jade objects in Europe from Paleolithic and/or Neolithic times and there was quite a debate in the nineteenth century about the origin of it (i.e., with the implication that Paleolithic types were trading with the Far East!). As the debate evolved, it emerged that there was evidence for scattered deposits of jade in various places in Europe (in Switzerland, especially) – a reasonable, if dated, summary can be found in:
- F. W. Rudler, “On the Source of the Jade Used for Ancient Implements in Europe and America,” The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 20, (1891), 332 ff
… for the jade helmet detail from Dura Europos (which I’ve since tracked down again and which is said to have come from Turkmenistan), see:
- Simon James, “Evidence from Dura Europos for the Origins of Late Roman Helmets,” Syria, T. 63, Fasc. 1/2 (1986), p. 121.
… whatever the case, they should be able to do a chemical analysis to determine the source of the jade …
UPDATE (a few hours later): Max Nelson kindly reminds me:
In the article you cite, Simon James does not mention a jade helmet piece but a jade sword piece. More details can be found in Simon James’s Excavations at Dura-Europos 1928-1937, Final Report VII: The Arms and Armor and Other Military Equipment (The British Museum Press 2004), esp. pp. 142 and 151, in which he shows that the jade disc pommel for a sword was found in tower 19 in Dura-Europos. It may have come from a Sasanian weapon held by a Persian attacker; the stone itself may have come from Chinese Turkestan.
… mea culpa, mea culpa … misremembering it because of the title of the article.
ante diem iv kalendas sextilias
- ludi Victoriae Caesaris (day 10)
- 67 A.D./C.E. — fighting in Jerusalem between pro-surrender-to-the-Romans groups and their counterparts; the former set fire to some food supplies which apparently contributed to the fall of the city three years later (!) (need to track this one down)
- ca. 260 — martyrdom of Lucilla and companions
Nice introduction to the subject in Smithsonian Magazine:
Wow … the archaeologist types in Wales keep coming up with discoveries. In the past week, I’ve read of three major finds … typically, things from Wales don’t seem to make it beyond the local papers, but the first two items are a bit different. Here’s the Telegraph coverage about a Roman villa find in Aberystwyth:
Archaeologists have discovered a 4th Century villa near Aberystwyth, the first time they have found evidence of Roman occupation of North and mid Wales.
Findings indicate Abermagwr had all the trappings of villas found further south, including a slate roof and glazed windows.
The villa is likely to have belonged to a wealthy landowner, with pottery and coin finds on the site indicating occupation in the late 3rd and early 4th Centuries AD.
It was roofed with local slates, which were cut for a pentagonal roof. The walls were built of local stone and there was a cobbled yard.
Roman villas were high-status homes of wealthy landowners which sat at the heart of a farming estate. They are common throughout southern England and south Wales, but rare in mid and west Wales.
It was thought that Wales was a “military zone”, abandoned by the Romans a few decades after the first century.
Dr Toby Driver, of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales and Dr Jeffrey Davies, formerly of Aberystwyth University, had previously excavated at the nearby Trawscoed Roman fort, which had been abandoned by AD 130.
“Our trial excavations this year have confirmed the remains of an imposing Romano-British building in the heart of mid-Wales, where no Roman villas were previously known” they said.
“The discovery raises significant new questions about the regional economy and society in late Roman Wales, and raises the possibility of future villa discoveries in the surrounding countryside”.
- Roman villa found in Welsh ‘military zone’ | Telegraph
- Dig finds Romans just couldn’t bear to leave | Wales Online
- Remains of Roman villa near Aberystwyth discovered | BBC
- Unearthed Roman villa could re-write history | Cambrian News (original local coverage)
The BBC picked up a story about a lime kiln find during road construction:
The most significant find – a large lime kiln – was previously hidden under an earth mound.
The Gwynedd Archaeological Trust says the kiln, and slates from a building for high-ranking officials, indicate a large Roman settlement.
Building work began on the £34.4m bypass earlier this year.
Iwan Parry, from the trust, said the the presence of the roofing slates was documented after a dig in the area in the 1920s but the lime kiln was a complete surprise.
“We’re not certain of the dates yet because radio carbon dating has not been carried out, so this is really the beginning of the research we’ll have to carry out,” he said.
Mr Parry added the kiln was “huge” at round 4m (13ft) across and 2m (6ft) deep.
“They had cut into the stone – which would have been a lot of hard work – to create a bowl,” he said.
“The purpose of the kiln would then be to create the lime for cement,” he added.
As the land around the kiln had not been reclaimed from the sea at the time the Romans were around, the kiln would have been on a small island in the estuary, he said.
“The kiln is a surprise too because we did not think there was any lime locally in Tremadog.
“The nearest source we thought was on Anglesey – but there might have been a type of lime around here” he added.
The roofing slates – cut into a diamond with two sides squared off – were first thought to be from the Nantlle Valley near Caernarfon.
Similar slates were then found at a barracks in Chester however, and they came from Bethesda (near Bangor), he said.
Wherever they are from it is still a significant find as the slates are “one of the first examples of Welsh slates being used as roofing”, he added.
Excavation work on the bypass also revealed signs of human habitation in the area from 6,000 years ago.
“We found small bits of flint which they would have used,” said Mr Parry.
“The location, on an island, would have meant there was a plentiful supply of food there in Mesolithic and Neolithic times.”
Fulfilling the scholastic rule of three, and just hitting my email box a few moments ago (and so, still ‘local’), comes something from the Mail:
A ROMAN home or trading post is being excavated at Tai Cochion near the village of Brynsiencyn.
Gwynedd Archaeology Trust held an open day at the site and over 200 people visited to find out about the discoveries.
The location of the site – over the water from Segontium in Caernarfon – together with initial discoveries, suggests the settlement to be a trading post linking Anglesey with the mainland.
This is the first site of its kind to be found in North Wales and will help historians to understand the relationship between the Romans and the indigenous people.
The excavation is the subject of a programme which will be screened on S4C in November.
Trust staff and volunteers are trying to find some final clues as to the exact history of this site by finishing some detailed excavations and making vital recordings before the excavation is finished.
Dave Hopewell, senior archaeologist, said: “Over 15 volunteers have joined Gwynedd Archaeology Trust staff to excavate the Roman settlement in Brynsiencyn during the last three weeks. This excavation was made possible due to funding from CADW.
“A land survey undertaken last winter indicted there was a large settlement.
This excavation has supported this interpretation with a wide roman road, buildings, a boundary ditch and a rubbish pit being unearthed in the small excavated area.”
A large amount of pottery has been found including some made in France. This indicates the settlement was of high status.
The Trust has high hopes the origins of this piece of pottery can be traced to a specific location and time helping to date the settlement and perhaps learn more about what went on there. [...]
As I dig deeper into my pile of things I’ve marked with little purple question marks, I find an interesting item I first came across toward the end of May. Something called the Londonist had a feature called An Historic London Elephant Parade which included this in its timeline:
43 AD: Emperor Claudius brings the first recorded elephant to England during the Roman conquest. It journeys to Colchester but would have probably passed through the London area.
I thought it was interesting, and checked what Wikipedia had to say:
The first historically recorded elephant in northern Europe was the animal brought by emperor Claudius, during the Roman invasion of Britain in AD 43, to the British capital of Colchester. At least one elephant skeleton with flint weapons that has been found in England was initially misidentified as this elephant, but later dating proved it to be a mammoth skeleton from the stone age.
Now one expects touristy type sites to take this to some extreme, e.g.:
Visit Colchester, Britain’s oldest recorded town and soak up its history. Discover the secrets of William the Conqueror’s impressive castle, which lay hidden for centuries. Walk through the Roman streets where Emperor Claudius once rode triumphantly in on an elephant.
But let’s see what the pros do … the Colchester Castle Museum includes this on their FAQ page:
6. Did Claudius really bring elephants with him when he invaded?
Yes he did, we are told that elephants were involved in his triumphal entry into Colchester or Camulodunum as it was called. Imagine being a Briton and watching those enormous animals marching past you.
Okay … we’ve gone from bringing elephants to having a ‘triumphal entry’. The Time Team folks echo something that is seen on several other sites, however:
Colchester is the oldest garrison town in Britain, the site of the most famous event during the Roman invasion, where Claudius rode in on the back of an elephant.
Similiter, the Colchester Archaeological Trust:
Fund-raising events in the pipeline include a reception at the Mayor’s Parlour, and Mrs Bailey said she would also like to recreate Claudius’ entrance to Colchester with elephants in an effort to raise awareness of the campaign.
So we’ve gone from Claudius being the first to bring elephants to Britain, to him including them in some ‘triumphal’ procession, to him — despite his famous disabilities — actually riding into Colchester on one.
Now here’s what I don’t get … as far as I’m aware, the ONLY statement about Claudius bringing elephants in his invasion of Britain comes from Cassius Dio 60.21 (via Lacus Curtius):
Shortly afterwards Togodumnus perished, but the Britons, so far from yielding, united all the more firmly to avenge his death. Because of this fact and because of the difficulties he had encountered at the Thames, Plautius became afraid, and instead of advancing any farther, proceeded to guard what he had already won, and sent for Claudius. For he had been instructed to do this in case he met with any particularly stubborn resistance, and, in fact, extensive equipment, including elephants, had already been got together for the expedition.
That’s all that is said about Claudius’ elephant(s), as far as I’m aware and it has clearly been witness to some ‘expansion’. But even the claims about this being the ‘first’ seem to be challengeable … In Polyaenus’ Stratagems 8.23.5 we read (via Attalus):
When Caesar’s passage over a large river in Britain was disputed by the British king Cassivellaunus, at the head of a strong body of cavalry and a great number of chariots, he ordered an elephant, an animal till then unknown to the Britons, to enter the river first, mailed in scales of iron, with a tower on its back, on which archers and slingers were stationed. If the Britons were terrified at so extraordinary a spectacle, what shall I say of their horses? Amongst the Greeks, the horses fly at the sight of an unarmed elephant; but armoured, and with a tower on its back, from which missiles and stones are continually hurled, it is a sight too formidable to be borne. The Britons accordingly with their cavalry and chariots abandoned themselves to flight, leaving the Romans to pass the river unmolested, after the enemy had been routed by the appearance of a single beast.
Polyaenus was writing during the time of Marcus Aurelius … Cassius Dio was writing in the first couple of decades of the third century. Both were very far removed from their subject matter, so you can take either claim with as many grains of salt that you care to. And just in case you were curious about ‘elephant fossils’ mentioned in the Wikipedia article, one of the (many) references to same that I came across was in The Monthly Review from May-August of 1826:
Now normally I’d put this sort of thing — especially considering the ongoing campaign to raise awareness of Colchester Roman Circus — in the same category as Lisa Simpson (in Lisa the Iconoclast) eventually put the Jebediah Springfield/Hans Sprungfeld revelation that the ‘myth brought out the good in everyone’, but since the folks in Colchester seem themselves to have been angry at the British Museum for suggesting no Roman circus had ever been found in Britain, I’m not so charitable … come on … elephants in the invasion are amazing enough; no need to claim priority (especially when there is competing evidence of equal weight) nor force us to imagine the physically disabled Claudius somehow getting up on the back of a pachyderm …
I’ve got all sorts of little items lingering in my mailbox and need some principle of organization for them, I think. First, though, we should draw your attention to a couple of podcast type things … the first: Evaluating Alexander the Great is actually the free ‘first lecture’ in a series at learnoutloud.com. This particular series is by Robin Lane Fox and even just this first freebie is worth listening to. Next, the BBC’s Digital Places has a segment on Google’s Ancient Places … it’s right at the beginning (tip o’ the pileus to Terrence Lockyer for this one).
-Agamemnon. According to legend, this ancient Greek king sacrificed his daughter Iphigenia so the ships would sail. Her website might have run more along the lines of DoNotMakeMyDadYourHereditaryMonarch.com
… I’m sure there’d be pop up ads from carpet distributors and ax manufacturers …
iPhone auto-corrects ‘Gordian’ to ‘hoedown’. Apple need to invest in some classical education for their software engineers.
No, not the loveable short Gaul, but the shipwreck. From the BBC:
Dr Jason Monaghan said Asterix is the most historically valuable Roman artefact in northern Europe.
He said a public private partnership could be the way forward.
Dr Monaghan said: “It’s a very exciting idea, but Guernsey is actually quite a small place and maritime archaeology projects are expensive.”
He said: “What we’re saying at the moment is the ship is ready we want people now who are interested in helping secure the future of the ship to step forward and to start the discussion of where it’s going to go, how we’re going to fund it coming here.”
The wreck was found on Christmas Day 1982 in St Peter Port Harbour and raised by the Guernsey Maritime Trust during 1984-86.
Since then it has undergone restoration work at the Mary Rose Trust in Portsmouth, costing the States £5,000 a year.
Dr Monaghan said: “It will be finished in terms of conservation in the next couple of months, the Mary Rose Trust have agreed to keep it until the end of 2011 and we’re discussing with them whether they can keep it for a couple more years while we establish what we’re going to do with the ship long term.
“It would be very nice if it could be brought back to Guernsey, the chief problem is its size, it’s 18m (59ft) long. There’s no building that the Museums service has which is long enough to put it in.
“So we have to find a building, we have to convert the building, we have to build a glass showcase to put the ship in with a bit of environmental controls to keep the humidity stable.
“Then we have to build effectively a museum gallery around it in order to make it interesting for the general public who don’t know anything about Roman ships.
“So we display the artefact beautifully and then we interpret it for locals, for visitors, for school groups so that they can understand what they are seeing so they see how it fits into ships in the Roman world and how Guernsey fits into the Roman world as well.”
Dr Monaghan said the wreck was extremely important to Guernsey.
“It takes St Peter Port’s history back as a trading port right back to the 3rd Century AD and actually probably before that,” he said.
St Peter Port Harbour and Cobo Bay Dr Monaghan said St Peter Port Harbour looked more like Cobo Bay when the ship was afloat
“So it shows how important we were in the Roman world and it’s also the biggest Roman object from Britain [and] the largest surviving seagoing ship of this particular antiquity in northern Europe.
“It’s a Celtic style boat, i.e. a boat made by the people who lived in the region, but it had Roman technology built into it, so it’s an interesting mix of the local style and Roman – we’ve got bits of evidence to about 50BC of ships like this operating locally.
“This ship was designed specifically in our waters, it’s got a flat bottom which means it didn’t need a harbour because St Peter Port in those days would have looked a bit more like Cobo with little rocky inlets and with beaches in between.
“It would have been able to come in here and go up on the beach and wouldn’t have needed a great big posh jetty like the Roman merchant ships would have done. This is a special local adaption to solve particular problems and it’s also very heavily built so it could stand a bit of rough handling.”
Some previous coverage:
Seen on Classicists (please send any responses to the people/institution mentioned in the post, not to rogueclassicism!)
Greek Memories: Theory and Practice
Department of Classics & Ancient History, Durham University
Ritson Room, 27-28 September 2010
Memory, and its correlate, forgetting, are at the centre of a recent surge of studies focused on the construction of collective identities. In the wake of Halbwachs, and more recently Assman, much work has been devoted to the relationship between cultural memory, intentional history (the invention of tradition), and identity, in ancient Greece and elsewhere. While these elements are bound to interact in any society, the specific ways in which they are conceptualized and function may differ significantly. We propose to reorient the discussion by focusing on how the theories and the practices of memory, recollection, and forgetting play themselves out in specific texts and authors from ancient Greece, within a wide chronological span (from the Homeric poems to Plotinus), and across the entire range of literary ‘genres’ (epic and lyric poetry, tragedy, comedy, historiography, philosophy and scientific prose treatises). In particular, we plan to explore two interrelated aspects: (i) explicit discursive reflections on memory, recollecting, and forgetting as divine and human experiences and (ii) the role of these reflections in shaping practices of thought, communication, and writing.
Monday 27 September
9.30 – Welcome, registration and coffee
10.00-10.15 – Introduction to the conference
10.15-11.00 – Anita Nikkanen (Harvard), ‘Mnemosyne khariessa’
11.00-11.45 – Sarah Harden (University College, Oxford), ‘Self-Reflexive Memory in Pindar and Theognis’
11.45-12.30 – Peter Agocs (Christ’s College, Cambridge): ‘Speaking in the Wax Tablets of Memory’
12.30-14.30 – Lunch and break
14.30-15.15 – Andrea Capra (Milano): ‘Lyric Oblivion: When Sappho Taught Socrates how to Forget’
15.15–16.00 – Silvia Milanezi (Nantes): ‘Comic memories’
16.00-16.30 – Tea
16.30-17.15 – Catherine Darbo-Peschanski (CNRS, Lille 3): ‘Place and Nature of Memory in Greek Historiography’
17.15-18.00 – Neil Sewell-Rutter: ‘Remembering and Forgetting Cambyses: Memory in the Constitution Debate, Herodotus 3.80-82’
19.45 – Conference dinner
Tuesday 28 September
9.15-10.00 – Anca-Cristina Dan (Institute for Neohellenic Research, Athens / Paris IV): ‘The Memory of Wonderful Sites: Some Remarks upon Herodotean Theoretical Principles in Proemia of Extant “Geographical” Works’
10.00-10.45 – Steven D. Smith (Hofstra University, New York): ‘Claudius Aelianus: Memory, Mnemonics, and Literature in the Age of Caracalla’
10.45-11.15 – Coffee
11.15-12.00 – Ynon Wygoda (Hebrew University of Jerusalem): ‘Socrates’ Forgetfulness and Platonic Irony’
12.00-12.45 – Jean-Louis Labarriere (CRNS, Paris IV): ‘PhantasmaM and PhantasmaF in Aristotle’s De Memoria, 1, 450 b 20-451a8’
12.45-15.00 – Lunch and break (and guided tour of cathedral?)
15.00-15.45 – Emidio Spinelli (Roma, La Sapienza): ‘Physics, Memory, Ethics: the Epicurean Road to Happiness’
15.45-16.30 – Stephen Clark (Liverpool): ‘Plotinus: Remembering and Forgetting’
16.30-16.45 – Tea
16.45-17.30 – Maria Michela Sassi (Pisa): ‘Greek Philosophers on How to Memorise – and Learn’
17.30-18.00 – Final discussion
More information (bookings, location, programme) can be found at
Or e-mail the organisers, luca.castagnoli AT durham.ac.uk, paola.ceccarelli AT durham.ac.uk.