Greek Bearing … Fruit?

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.

Jade Figure from Viminacium?

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. [...]

via Jade sculpture found at amphitheatre | Blic

The article includes a photo:

from Blic

… 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.

This Day in Ancient History: ante diem iv kalendas sextilias

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