Major Temple Site from LeMans/Vindunum

From the Guardian:

Excavations near the antique city of Vindunum (now Le Mans) have revealed a vast religious site dating from the first to the third centuries AD with remarkably well-preserved offerings.

Sometimes archaeology requires imagination. And you need it to conjure up the vast complex of temples that stood nearly 2,000 years ago on this flat two-hectare strip of land, in what is now Neuville-sur-Sarthe, 4km to the north of Le Mans.

“I have been an archaeologist for 30 years, and I’ve been lucky enough to work on some wonderful digs. But this is an exceptional discovery, the sort that all archaeologists dream of making once in their lives,” said Gérard Guillier, who heads the team from the National Institute of Preventive Archaeological Research (Inrap) that has been poring over this piece of land since June. The team has no time to lose because in the autumn this former Gallo-Roman sanctuary will be transformed into an “urban development zone”.

After an aerial assessment that revealed the shape of the ancient buildings in the wheat fields, followed by the some underground probing, mechanical diggers were sent in to clear the surface of the site. Unfortunately the blocks of limestone and sandstone from the antique buildings had disappeared, salvaged over the centuries for other building work in the area. Only a few stones bear witness to the original temple structures. Young archaeologists uncover them delicately one at a time, using trowels, scrapers and brushes. Every stone is numbered, drawn and its location marked on a map.

“Given the size of the site, hundreds of pilgrims, possibly thousands, would have come here to honour the gods,” said Guillier. “They probably held other mass events here too.”

The lines drawn on the ground by the archaeologists make the site resemble a vast treasure hunt. The red ones indicate the streets, paths and galleries that once connected the buildings, while blue circles mark the holes that held the pillars supporting the colonnade, which led the visitors to the temples.

At the entrance to the site, there once stood a large E-shaped building, probably for welcoming the pilgrims, selling religious objects and housing the temple guardians. One wide path littered with iron slag (Vindunum was a major metalworking centre), leads a few hundred metres south to the foundations of a circular fanum (temple) about 12 metres in diameter. That round shape was rare in Gallo-Roman times and there are only a few such examples in France.

In fact, three temples were erected successively during the second and third centuries. Possibly they had to be rebuilt because of the instability of the ground. A pergola and a flight of steps would have led to the temple, which had stone walls around seven metres high covered by a tiled roof. Inside, the cella (central room) housed the statue of the god.

Another fanum stood at the west, the oldest in the sanctuary, dating to the first century. It was square, 15 metres wide and apparently in the Celtic temple tradition. This one was originally built in wood and stone added later, together with a cella surrounded by a gallery for circumambulation and a wall separating the sacred space from the profane. Fragments of coloured plaster show that the walls were once panted. The temple was surrounded by octagonal or square-shaped secondary “chapels”.

It is here that the archaeologist uncovered a marvellous selection of objects placed as offerings. They include Gallic, Celtic and Roman silver coins, bronze and silver-plated bronze fibulae (broaches), some jewellery including a gold ring with a green quartz representing a deity, as well as bronze keys, pottery and knives. They also found a dagger, sledgehammers and hammers, possibly offerings from soldiers and ironmongers, who held high-risk occupations requiring more divine protection than others.

But what gods were worshipped there? No statues or inscriptions have been found as clues, and the Gallic pantheon was as plentiful as the Roman one.

Another large sanctuary once stood in Allonnes, to the south of Le Mans, dedicated to the Gallo- Roman god Mars Mullo. Would there have been two major sanctuaries in one city? According to Guillier, “Situated as they were on hillocks on either side of Vindunum, they probably had a protective role for the town.”

The archaeologists have another enigma to solve. They have uncovered several graves near the circular fanum, with funerary objects such as a glass bottle and a box for seals. Until now archaeologists have never found temples and graves in such close proximity, since Romans observed strict separation between what they perceived as the “pure” and the “impure”. It will take years to reconstruct the history of the sanctuary and its pilgrims. And a great deal of imagination.

<a href=”http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/aug/17/france-archaeology”>* News * World news * France Ancient temple complex discovered near Le Mans</a>

See also:

… I’m sure I’m not the only one who had never heard of this Mars Mullo before …

Temple of Artemis at Didyma?

The English version of this one has lost something in translation … it appears to suggest that there might be remains of a temple of Artemis at Didyma, which is something that has long been the subject of scholarly debate. We really need to get some decent English coverage of this:

GERMAN archaeologists are looking at a new find which could suggest a second temple close to the Temple of Apollo.

They have extended their excavations away from Apollon and have discovered a wall which they consider to be part of another temple – maybe that the Temple is for Artemis – the twin of Apollon.

Representative of Ministry of Culture and Tourism Ferhan Büyükyörük said: “An illegal dig was done in the area previously, which revealed the remains of a wall.

“The excavations team is searching this year to see if there is more to the wall and if it belongs to a structure. Its size and location suggests a building to the south of this wall. Didyma means twin; Apollon was the twin brother of Goddess Artemis.

“This wall might belong to an Artemis Temple. We will see what the excavations unearth.”

The works will continue until September.

Running Google translate on a pile of Turkish coverage reveals that they are indeed talking about Didyma; I wouldn’t want to go further than that …

Miss Universe Silliness

One of the things they make contestants do in the Miss Universe pageant, apparently, is pose in their native costume. This, apparently, the native costume of women in Italy, no doubt designed to safely fend off the advances of Italian men on subways:

Reuters photo

… and apparently Greek women wear this sort of thing all the time:

Reuters Photo

More silliness noted on this subject at:

… which is an article at Reuters’ ‘Oddly Enough’ blog

Citanda: Harpastrum Redux??

There’s a video at the link … not sure about this one:

If this looks like a combination of football, rollerball and the Second Punic War, well, it kind of is. It’s called Harpastrum, an ancient Roman game practiced by Legionaries to prepare them for battle. Today it’s better known as Fight Football League, played only in Italy, and possibly Tennessee during Titans’ practices. They’ve added some rules and have a couple of ambulances standing by, but otherwise it’s just like Julius Caesar drew it up back in the day. Have a look for yourself, after the jump.

via The NFL is for Nancy boys; here’s Fight Football League – Out of Bounds – NBC Sports.

FWIW, the Wikipedia article on Harpastrum pretty much tells all we know about the game in antiquity (i.e. not much) …

Citanda: Golden Sponge-Stick Comp ’10

From Caroline Lawrence’s Roman Mysteries blog:

Are you a budding young writer?

Could you create the next Flavia Gemina or Falco?

Well, here’s your chance.

Burgess Hill School presents an annual writing competition now in its third year: THE GOLDEN SPONGE-STICK COMPETITION.

This global competition is now open to all UK and International school & college students. [more]

via Roman Mysteries Blog: Golden Sponge-Stick Comp ’10.

Major Find (Maybe?) From Apollonia

Here’s one Tim Parkin (and others) and I have been chatting about on Facebook … AFP via PhysOrg:

Archaeologists unearthed a Roman bust from the 2nd century AD hailed as the most important archaeological find of the last 50 years in Albania, experts said Friday.

“It is an exceptional discovery, the most important in the last 50 years in Albania because the bust is still intact,” French professor Jean-Luc Lamboley, who led the dig at Apollonia with Albanian archaeologists, told AFP.

Experts say the bust of an unknown athlete found at the Apollonia site, some 120 kilometers (75 miles) from Tirana, was of a remarkable quality.

Apollonia is one of the biggest archaeological sites in Albania and the fact that no modern town was built on its ruins makes for excellent excavating conditions.

The team of French and Albanian archaeologists digging at the scene are studying how Apollonia evolved from a Greek colony founded in the 7th century BC to a Roman settlement in the 3rd century AD.

“This spans a thousand years of history and we can study here how the classic Greek civilisation was transmitted, evolved and enriched in Roman times,” Lamboley said.

“For security reasons the bust was moved Friday to the Tirana archaeological museum as the Apollonia museum still has no security system in place,” the French expert added.

After the fall of communism in the early 1990s and following public unrest in 1997 several art works were stolen from Albanian museums probably to be sold to foreign art lovers at very high prices.

… the original AFP item (via Google and likely short-lived; no photo):

In any event, the PhysOrg piece is accompanied by a photo:

I tracked down another photo at Balkan Insight:

… which is interesting, because that second one doesn’t seem to be the same as the first one at all (perhaps this is a case where an indefinite article became definite in translation; maybe it’s just the angle of the photo). In any event, assuming that the first photo is the one that is being ‘hailed’, what Dr Parkin (and others) and I have been struck by is how ‘perfect’ this bust seems to be, despite having been buried for however many years. The nose, hair, and everything else seems undamaged and really isn’t typical of what tends to emerge from archaeological sites.

That said, I believe this must be the same site where Jack L. Davis and the University of Cincinnati was digging a few years ago (see also this earlier post) At one point, road construction threatened it … not sure how long the French have been involved there.

ADDENDUM (an hour or so later): Dorothy King notes the similarity to an item in the Shelby-White Collection which graced an exhibition catalog a while back (the image is via the Looting Matters blog):

Yewden ‘Brothel’ Followup

Remember that claimed brothel site with the 97 infant burials from the Yewden Villa in Hambleden? Here’s an incredibly interesting followup:

ARCHAEOLOGISTS investigating a mass burial of 97 infants were ‘horrified’ to find what they believe to be the skeleton of a dismembered child.

Chiltern Archaeologists suspect the site in Hambleden could have been a Roman brothel – where unwanted babies were systematically killed.

Dr Jill Eyers, who lives in Lane End, said the group has discovered cut marks on the bones of one of the babies.

She added: “These were knife marks and would represent a dismembering of this infant. We are horrified to say the least and are now about to closely check all other infant skeletons.

“If dismembered this could be signs of a ritual activity at this site. This is turning more sinister by the minute.”

Dr Eyers said ritual activity was not unusual for Roman Britain, citing a ‘head cult’ which was present in St Albans in Hertfordshire.

The group has been carrying out tests on excavation finds from 1912 at the Yewden villa.

An examination of the remains, which were rediscovered in boxes kept at Buckinghamshire County Museum, revealed the babies died at 40 weeks gestation.

A BBC documentary set to air on August 19, called ‘Digging for Britain’, will feature the Hambleden discoveries.

Presenter Alice Roberts was so enthused by the project that she has volunteered to join the Chiltern Archaeology team.

via: Skeleton of ‘dismembered’ child discovered by Chiltern Arcaeologists | Bucks Free Press

It’s unfortunate that we’re not given more details about where these purported cut marks were. It’s worth pointing out in this context that child sacrifice was not unknown in Roman Britain, e.g.:

In a few cases, evidence seems to point towards child sacrifice. At the temple at Springfield, Kent, excavated in the 1960s, foundation sacrifices of paired babies were found at all four corners of the temple. The burials took place at different times, indicating that the practice was repeated as the temple was extended. Similarly, excavations in the 1970s in the centre of Cambridge included a subterranean shrine and ritual shafts, of which no fewer than 12 contained newborn babies in baskets, several of them buried with small dogs. The shafts seem to have been left open for about 200-300 years.

via: Allison Taylor, “Burial with the Romans”, British Archaeology

Clearly this is still a developing story … we’ll see if they still cling to the ‘brothel’ theory …

Hekatomnus’ Tomb Found(?)

I’ve already griped about how my low-bandwidth situation while visiting my mother was incredibly annoying when there was big archaeological news, so by way of praeteritio, I won’t mention it again. Even so, another example of which were reports of a tomb find in Milas, Turkey. The initial English report brought back by my spiders  suggested the tomb of “Hekataios” had been found, and I expressed hesitations about that in the issue of Explorator that went out at the time. That, however, was followed by our friend Dorothy King’s excitement on Twitter about the discovery of the tomb of Hecatomnus, the founder of the Hecatomnid dynasty in Caria. It turned out I was getting a number of news reports on this, but didn’t make the connection as most of them had headlines concentrating on a ‘looted tomb’ being found. Eventually, however, we did manage to see what Dr King was excited about … AP seems to have taken the lead in picking up the story, so here’s the version from The Age:

Turkish police have raided a house used by people suspected of digging illegally for antiquities and discovered two tunnels leading to an underground tomb that housed an ancient marble coffin and frescoes, officials say.

Culture Minister Ertugrul Gunay on Friday described the discovery near the town of Milas, in western Turkey, as an “important archaeological find” and ordered digs in surrounding areas, Haber Turk newspaper reported.

Looting of ancient artifacts is common in Turkey, and the country has imposed heavy penalties to deter illegal digs. But the Milas discovery is the first time in years that authorities have found what could be an important archeological site while chasing looters.

The 2800-year-old carved coffin, decorated with reliefs of a bearded reclining man, probably belonged to Hecatomnus, who ruled over Milas, according to Turkey’s Culture Ministry.

Several treasures that would have been placed in the underground tomb were most likely looted by the treasure hunters and sold in the illegal antiquities trade, the ministry said.

A court has arrested and charged five of 10 people detained in the raid, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported.

Anatolia, which was allowed to enter the tomb, said the suspects had dug two tunnels – six and eight meters long, from the house and an adjacent barn, leading to the tomb that is buried about 10 meters deep.

They used sophisticated equipment to drill through the thick marble walls of the tomb and were working to remove the coffin from the underground chamber when they were detained, according to the Culture Ministry.

“I would have wished that this (archeological find) had been discovered through our digs and not through digs conducted by a band of treasure hunters,” Anatolia quoted Gunay as saying.

“This is not an ordinary treasure hunt. It is very organised and it is obvious that they received economic and scientific help,” Gunay said. Turkey also would investigate the suspects possible overseas links, he said.

The story has been more widely reported (for obvious reasons) in the Turkish Press and Dorothy King’s own series of blogposts are definitely worth reading:

In addition to the foregoing, folks will probably like the photos from Radikal’s slideshow:

… and perhaps more interesting is a 15 minute video from Haberler(with commentary in Turkish, of course, but there really isn’t much of it … definitely read DK’s posts before watching this; be patient … it took forever to load for me); keep your eye open for the segment showing how the looters accessed the tomb … they had some heavy-duty equipment:

In regards to the foregoing, I tried to do a Google translate on the text and I *think* the identification as Hekatomnus is based on inscriptions/graffiti on the walls left by workers? I’m not at all positive about that but it’s a major question which isn’t dealt with in the English coverage.

More coverage:

Nulla dies umquam memori vos eximet aevo redux

A couple of years ago or so I mentioned the Valiants Memorial in Ottawa, which honours a handful of folks in 400 years (still not sure about that number) of Canadian military history. It includes a quotation from the Aeneid: No day shall erase you from the memory of time (Book Nine).

Now, interestingly enough — and lost in all the brouhaha over mosques and the like — it appears the 9/11 Museum will be sporting the same inscription … inter alia:

The final descent runs parallel to the Vesey Street stairs, known as the survivors’ staircase, encased in wooden scaffolding on Tuesday. The 37 steps served as an escape route for people fleeing. It stood for years as the last remaining above-ground remnant of the original complex.

There are also several places where visitors can stand between the remnants of the two towers.

Thousands of unidentified remains of 9/11 victims will be stored in the museum, in an area reserved for the medical examiner’s office; an adjacent room will be set aside for family members. These areas will be off limits to the public.

A quotation from Virgil’s “Aeneid”, “No Day Shall Erase You From the Memory of Time,” will be incised into the wall that separates the private and public spaces.

via: 9/11 Museum Going Up In NYC Offers Raw Experience

This Day in Ancient History: ante diem xiv kalendas septembres

Bust of Emperor Augustus wearing the Corona Ci...

Image via Wikipedia

ante diem xiv kalendas septembres

  • Vinalia — the second major wine festival of this name celebrated by the Romans
  • 43 B.C. — the future emperor Octavian enters his first consulship; Octavian’s adoption by Julius Caesar formally recognized
  • 14 A.D. — Augustus dies at Nola
  • 232 A.D. — birth of the future emperor Probus
  • 304 A.D. — martyrdom of Thecla at Caesarea
  • c. 306 A.D. — martyrdom of Agapius at Caesarea

Wired Gets All Wired Up About a Denarius

I’m sure most of you have seen this — it’s been making the rounds these past couple of days — from Wired:

*This one features the Moon driving her chariot over a housefly.

*I can’t doubt that this made perfect sense at the time. It’s like: you got drunk, and you went to the gladiatorial games, and you watched half a dozen guys get slaughtered. And then you were broke. And hung over. And then you asked your friend, Julius: “Hey. Can you loan me a couple of houseflies? Just to tide me over till payday?”

“No problem, buddy.” Clink. Clink.

… accompanied by a very large photo:

It was also accompanied by a link to the British Museum catalog, whence it presumably came, but, alas, it didn’t work. So for those of you who were wondering, it’s a Denarius dated to 179-170 B.C. … official description:

(obverse) Helmeted head of Roma, right; behind, denominational mark. Border of dots.
(reverse) Luna in biga, right, with horses prancing; below, mark; in exergue, inscription. Line border.

... the ‘fly’ is designated as an inscription. The BM has several examples of this coin (here, here, here, here, etc.)

The fly is curious, but the one I’ve always wondered about is the grasshopper, e.g. on this one from the 90s B.C.:

… or this one from 92 B.C.:

I’ve often wondered whether these little things (which are often beneath the rearing feet of a horse) are some sort of family/national symbol or something, but have never been able to check that out. Does the grasshopper indicate a year when grain was threatened and the threat averted? Was the moneyer’s family rewarded with an agnomen because of it? Was including the grasshopper the fulfillment of some sort of vow?

Nysa Dig Resumes

From Hurriyet:

Archaeologists have begun excavations at the ancient Greek city of Nysa, in western Turkey, where they hope to find new artifacts around the theater, agora and gymnasium.

Professor Vedat İdil, head of the excavation team from Ankara University, said the team, comprised of Turkish, Canadian and American architects, archaeologists and historians, plans to work until October this year.

Nysa is located in the Sultanhisar district of Aydın province, 50 kilometers east of the Ionian city of Ephesus. There are important ruins on the site from the Hellenistic period, the Roman period and the Byzantine era. Much of the open-air Greek theater and its walled entrances are still intact. The library currently has three walls.

There are remnants of a gymnasium, a Roman bath and a bouleuterion. The 100-meter Nysa Bridge, a tunnel-like substructure, was the second largest of its kind in antiquity.

via: Excavations begin in Nysa in western Turkey | Hurriyet

n.b. … in case you were wondering,  this Nysa (in Caria) is not to be confused with Nysa-Scythopolis (in Israel)

Latest from Peperikon

The last bits from a piece at Novinite:

The latest Perperikon finds presented Tuesday include a human idol from the 5th century BC, a bronze axe and a Thracian war knife. The archeologist explained that during the first day of the excavations they also found a medical instrument from Roman times, which has been used to remove from skin a worm-parasite and then clean the wound.

Other unique discoveries include a Roman lamp from the 3rd century with the picture of a scarcely clad female dancer waiving a scarf above her head, a number of antique coins, a silver coin with Tsar Ivan Alexander and his son Mihail, and a medieval silver tiara. The finds are very important because they are not very typical for this area and are proof for Bulgarian presence here in 1343, according to Ovcharov.

The archeologist informed that this summer the digs are subsidized with BGN 118 000 which will allow for 3-month work and a team of over 100. In addition to the connection between the palace and the Perperikon Acropolis, the archeologists will study for the first time the northeastern sector of the Acropolis with the full study of the latter being the final goal.

Ovcharov declared the excavations and the research show Perperikon is the largest ancient city in the Rhodope Mountains and one of the largest on the Balkans during the Antiquity and the Middle Age, much larger than the Bulgarian historical coastal towns of Sozopol and Nesebar.

The first few paragraphs are a response to claims of ‘relationships’ between archaeologists and treasure hunters in Bulgaria.

d.m. Colin Austin

From Cambridge City News:

Cambridge professor Colin Austin, one of the world’s leading specialists on ancient Greek texts, has died of cancer at the age of 69.

Australian-born Prof Austin was educated in England and France – his mother tongue was French.

He studied at Oxford and came to Trinity Hall as a research fellow in 1965.

He was made a director of studies there, and remained a fellow until he retired in 2008.

Prof Austin, a fellow of the British Academy, taught in the Faculty of Classics in Cambridge and was treasurer of the Cambridge Philological Society for 40 years.

Colleagues said he had “a remarkable gift” for reconstructing fragmentary poetic texts preserved on Egyptian papyri.

Prof Austin had been working on a new edition of Greek New Comedy poet Menander.

He is survived by his wife Mishtu, their two children and four grandchildren.

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 Academia.edu:

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 – NYTimes.com.

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) …