This Day in Ancient History: pridie kalendas septembres

pridie kalendas septembres

  • 12 A.D. — birth of the future emperor Gaius (Caligula) at Antium
  • 40 A.D. — Gaius (Caligula) celebrates an ovatio after his attempted military campaigns in Gaul and Britain
  • 161 A.D. — birth of the future emperor Commodus (and his twin, Titus Aurelius Fulvus Antoninus)

Statues of Cleopatra

I’ve been sitting on this one for a while … an excerpt from a piece by Zahi Hawass in Asharq Al-Awsat:

However what is strange is that there is not one statue of Queen Cleopatra, and thanks to historians we know that such statues did exist. However there is an image of Queen Cleopatra on the walls of the Temple of Hathor in Dendera, in which she is depicted with her son Caesarion…while there is also a boat rest-stop at the Temple of Kom Ombo whose construction is attributed to Cleopatra, and a maternity house in the Temple of Dendera, and a carving at the Louvre Museum that is allegedly of Cleopatra VII.

Now I’m not sure if I’m reading that correctly, but I was under the impression that that black basalt statue from the Hermitage Museum — which was part of the Cleopatra exhibition at the British Museum — was Cleopatra VII, i.e.:

I know a couple of the busts from that exhibition were ‘identified’ as Cleopatra (but hesitant), so we can probably grant him that; I can also note that some of the press coverage, such as that from the BBC, noted:

Many of the images of Cleopatra during her reign were destroyed by Octavian, Mark Antony’s successor, who took over after the couple killed themselves.

… although I don’t recall that being attested in our ancient sources. Do we really have no statues of Cleopatra VII?

… and of course, we can also argue forever about who the Esquiline Venus is …

Intact Minoan Tombs Found!

Saw this on Aegeanet … it’s in Greek and Google translate is okay on it but a bit vague for my liking; the upshot seems to be the discovery of some Minoan tombs in the Heraklion area, with pots, jewellery, etc. inside. Not sure if there’s any evidence of looting at all, but this is clearly a major find. Hopefully we’ll hear/read more:

Allianoi Update

From a press release:

An ancient city in Turkey’s Aegean area will be covered with sand instead of silt and clay then inundated with reservoir water from a new dam, officials say.

Environmentalists say the decision to use sand to cover the ancient city of Allianoi will mean the ultimate destruction of an architectural treasure, Hurriyet Daily News reported Friday.

Despite efforts by environmentalists, a Turkish preservation board said sand would be used to cover the city before waters from the Yortanli Dam flood the region.

The Allianoi Initiative, spearheading a legal fight against the construction of the dam, objected to the new ruling. The group contends it will bury a rich repository of history and the sand cover will not be enough to protect the important ancient site.

The decision was a surprise, a lawyer for the initiative said, adding the group would immediately go to court to stop the sand-filling.

Allianoi, a hot springs settlement of the Roman Empire during the second century A.D., sits on the flood plain of the Bergama Yortali Dam, which environmentalists have been fighting since 1993, Hurriyet reported.

Allianoi has been a long-time legal saga … here’s much of our previous coverage (I’m sure I’ve left some out; they all seem to say the same thing):