Classical Barbie

Speaking of Cleopatra (see next post), I was just yakking on Facebook about the existence of a Cleopatra Barbie, news of which my spiders brought me from a blog called comigirl … turns out these things are genuine collectibles. She doesn’t appear to available at Amazon yet (click the comigirl link to see this Cleo), but there are a number which might be of interest, including a Barbie of Liz Taylor as Cleopatra:

… and a Medusa Barbie (if you’ve got 500.00+ dollars):

… and an Aphrodite Barbie (cheap at almost 300 bucks:

… and Athena Barbie (cheapest of them all … less than 200 bucks:

… not sure if Princess of Ancient Greece Barbie counts (she’s really cheap):

… no Artemis Barbie? No Amazon Barbie? No Gladiatrix Barbie?

ADDENDUM (an hour or so later): See, this is why folks have to be all over social media … turns out one of my Twitter followers (Liz Gloyn) is a Ph.D. candidate who works — in her ‘spare time’ —  on the ‘reception’ side of these Classical Barbies and has even written a paper on the subject, which you can access from her page at

Yet Another Cleo Biography

Theda-bara-cleopatra detail
Image via Wikipedia

From an interview in the New York Times:

Gail Collins: Your new biography of Cleopatra is coming out this fall, right? I’m reading it, and I’m pretty sure that from now on, whenever I hear elected officials complain about the treachery of their opponents, I’m just going to say: “Ha! You should try being queen of Egypt in 40 B.C.”

Stacy Schiff: Red and blue states were nothing to a woman who not only played to two radically different constituencies but also knew she could be removed by Rome, deposed by her subjects, undermined by her advisers — or stabbed, poisoned and dismembered by her own family. On the other hand, Cleopatra had one great advantage. She lived at a time when female sovereigns were not anomalies. And when women enjoyed rights they would not again enjoy for another 2,000 years. You could call them early feminists, if I may use a dirty word.

via Of Mama Grizzly Born? – Opinionator Blog –

I think it might be time we declared a moratorium on books about Cleopatra … a quick glance through Amazon shows from the past couple of years:

  • Cleopatra the Great: The Woman Behind the Legend by Joann Fletcher
  • Antony and Cleopatra by Adrian Goldsworthy
  • Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff (the above-mentioned one presumable)
  • Cleopatra: A Biography by Duane Roller
  • Cleopatra and Antony: Power, Love, and Politics in the Ancient World by Diana Preston (I’ve got a review of this on one of my laptops … I should post it)
  • Cleopatra: Last Queen of Egypt by Joyce Tyldesley

… then again, this one coming out in a few weeks makes one go hmmmm when one sees the authors:

  • Cleopatra: The Search for the Last Queen of Egypt by Zahi A. Hawass and Franck Goddio

(i.e. not someone from the Dominican Republic)

Pausulae Discovered?

From Adnkronos:

Aerial photos taken on Monday from a police surveillance plane have revealed what is believed to be a large ancient Roman settlement near the eastern Italian city of Macerata.

Archaeologists say the site could be part of the mysterious city of Pausulae. The city is described by 1st century AD historian Pliny The Elder, and is believed to date from the late 2nd century BC.

Archaeologists from the surrounding Marche region identified from the photos a sprawling 20 hectare site criss-crossed by roads, with dwellings and buildings containing quadrangles and columns.

Thick walls enclose the settlement which is located in a river valley.

Earlier this year in nearby Cittareale in the neighbouring region of Lazio, an international team of archaeologists claimed to have unearthed the 2000-year-old birthplace of the early Roman emperor, Vespasian.

via: Italy: Ancient Roman settlement ‘discovered’

What Pliny says (3.13.11 via Lacus Curtius):

Cupra oppidum, Castellum Firmanorum et super id colonia Asculum, Piceni nobilissima intus, Novana. in ora Cluana, Potentia, Numana a Siculis condita, ab iisdem colonia Ancona, adposita promunturio Cunero in ipso flectentis se orae cubito, a Gargano CLXXXIII. intus Auximates, Beregrani, Cingulani, Cuprenses cognomine Montani, Falerienses, Pausulani, Planinenses, Ricinenses, Septempedani, Tolentinates, Traienses, Urbesalvia Pollentini.

Just for orientation purposes, the Auximates presumably inhabited Auximum, which is the modern Osimo … modern Macerata is in the right general area …

Other coverage:

Statue of Liberty … from Perge?

One of the reasons for the paucity of posts over the past while was that I was in a very low/expensive bandwidth situation which didn’t give me the luxury of checking stories which landed in my mailbox. This excerpt from some sort of travel site is a prime example:

This in itself would be reason enough to visit Perge, and the many other ancient discoveries in Turkey but the added intrigue of Perge’s “Statue of Liberty” makes a trip there irresistible. Carved into a tall column, the three-dimensional figure bears an uncanny resemblance to New York’s own, including a crown and a torch held high and, as same as the American “lady,” a sword instead of a tablet of law. And, the similarities make sense because it turns out that Frederic Bartholdi’s inspiration for American Statue of Liberty was none other than the Roman deity, Libertas, the goddess of freedom. Could it be that Perge’s figure, with her distinctive pose and characteristics, became the model all the “Lady Liberties” down through the ages?

via: Are The Origins Of America’s Statue Of Liberty To Be Found In Turkey? Recent Discovery of Figure on Ancient Column in Perge Leads to Speculation

The vagueness of the date of the ‘discovery’ is what I wanted to check and I really can’t go much better than “recent”. The ‘official’ Turkish tourism site includes similarly undated info:

The roots of the famous ‘Statue of Liberty’ emerged from the ancient site Perge in Antalya. A statue that was realised on one of the columns turned out to be very similar to the ‘Statue of Liberty’.The roots of the ‘Statue of Liberty’ go back to an ancient statue that was excavated in the ancient site Perge. It was found out that a statue on one of the columns decorating the ancient site is very similar to the ‘Statue of Liberty’. This column which was discovered after the excavations have started, has gained a lot of interest.The statue holding a torch in his hand and with its nine bars resemble the ‘Statue of Liberty’ incredibly. During a visit to Perge by the Minister of Culture and Tourism Ertuğrul Günay, got a promise for lifting the columns. When the columns have been lifted, the figure of the ‘Statue of Liberty’ came out clearly.

… and a photo:

Judging from other finds mentioned on the page, the find was made in the past year, so it seems unlikely that the Perge depiction of Libertas was the direct influence for the thing in New York’s harbour. Other than that, the Wikipedia article on the various influences that came together in the modern sculpture are interesting (especially the detail that it was originally designed to be sporting a pileus, which was shot down as ‘abolitionist’).

Did Pertinax Sleep at Lullingstone Roman Villa?

Marble bust of emperor Pertinax, 193AD. Vatica...
Image via Wikipedia

An uncharacteristically-not-sensational item from the Daily Mail:

Historians are becoming increasingly convinced that a villa uncovered 20 miles from London was once home to Britain’s Roman Governor.

Since Lullingstone Roman Villa was first uncovered in the 1930s experts believed it was once the home of a leading Roman or wealthy Briton, but archaeologists were unsure of the owner’s identity.

Now experts have re-examined treasures found at the site, near Orpington in Kent, and say it was almost certainly the home of Publius Helvius Pertinax.

He was governor of Britain between AD185 and 186 and went on to become Roman Emperor in AD193.

A high-quality intaglio, or seal, found just outside the villa during excavation is now believed to have been the Governor’s personal seal.

This finely-engraved victory gem was found next to some discarded coins.

The governor is known to have fled the villa at the end of the second century amid a mutiny by his soldiers. The men then looted it for gold and silver.

Roman experts believe the looters prised the seal from a gold signet ring and then left it behind as worthless. There are signs the seal has been gouged with a knife.

Historians also say two portrait busts left behind were of the governor and, almost certainly, his father.

The one of Pertinax was left decapitated in an act of spite, probably carried out by an enraged soldier.

Joanne Gray, English Heritage curator of Lullingstone, said: ‘We have always known that the site must have belonged to someone of high status because of its size, the quality of its mosaic floor and the archaeological finds.

‘The image on the seal is one of victory. It is an image often used by Romans as a sign of imperial power.’

She said the research had been carried out by archaeologists Martin Henig, who lectures in Roman art and culture at Oxford University, and German archaeologist Richard de Kind.

Mrs Gray said: ‘The research that has been done points quite strongly to Lullingstone being the home of Britain’s governor. Everything seems to fit.’

Visitors to the villa, near the village of Eynsford, can still view the basement and foundation walls of the villa.

We should note that Martin Henig published an article about the above-mentioned seal associated with Pertinax:

… available for an incredible exhorbitant price from Ingenta Connect (as often) …

Templum Pacis to Come to Light! (and more!?)

This is potentially very exciting and I’m surprised it hasn’t been picked up by more English press coverage … the conclusion to a  Rossella Lorenzi piece at Discovery News:

The centerpiece of the Forum of Peace was indeed the temple. Built in 71-75 A.D by Vespasian, the Temple of Peace celebrated the brutal pacification of the Jews and the destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

Tons of gold, silver trumpets and gold candelabra were plundered from the Jerusalem temple and paraded through Rome’ streets in triumph.

The moment was captured in a frieze carved into the Arch of Vespasian’s son, Titus, which clearly shows the menorah, the seven-branched temple candelabra that was the symbol of ancient Judaism, being exposed through the streets.

Between 75 A.D. and the early 5th century, the treasure, which helped finance the building of the Colosseum, was put on public display right in the Temple of Peace.

Although it is unlikely that fragments from the treasure are unearthed, the archaeologists hope to bring to light other precious remains from the Forum of Peace.

A space for culture and meditation adorned with a gallery of sculptures which had previously occupied Nero’s Golden Palace, the area featured a beautiful garden and large library, with a section entirely dedicated to medicine.

“We have recently found some of the foundation on which Nero’s sculptures stood. They bear the signatures of the artist who carved them,” said Rea.

“We might find some items related to the library, such as the bronze or ivory statuettes which portrayed the authors of the books and marked the various sections of the library. We also hope to recover some other fragments of the Forma Urbis map,” Rea added.

Ancient Roman Map Puzzle May Get New Pieces | Discovery News

The first bit of the piece focusses on the mentioned possibility of finding more fragments of the Forma Urbis (which was attached to the temple).

Other coverage: