A Major Bulgarian Bust

From the Sofia News Agency … it would be nice to have photos of some of this stuff:

Bulgarian police have shattered a crime group trafficking archaeological finds, including breath-taking items such as 2-meter marble statue of Aphrodite.

The organized crime group carried out illegal archaeological digs at the ancient Roman city of Ulpia Oescus on the Danube, close to the village of Gigen, Pleven District.

The five busted men had been watched by the police for five months.

In addition to the marvelous statue of the Greek goddess of love Aphrodite, the police seized from the treasure hunters about 200 various Ancient Roman coins, small metal statuettes, parts of Roman horse ammunition, and stone images of gods Asklepius and Hygiea.

The statue of Aphrodite was found buried in the yard of a house in the village of Gigen, where the treasure hunters hid it.

The police believe the statue was probably dug out in 2006 or 2007 and had been hidden as the dealers awaited the right clients.

The special operation was carried out by the unit for fighting trafficking of cultural heritage items.

Ulpia Oescus was an ancient town in Moesia, northwest of the modern Bulgarian city of Pleven, near the village of Gigen. It is a Daco-Moesian toponym. According to Ptolemy, it was a Triballian town, of the Ancient Thracian tribe Triballi, but it later became Roman. It was one of the most important Roman towns on the lower Danube.

This is where Emperor Constantine I the Great built the largest river bridge in ancient times, Constantine’s Bridge on the Danube, which was 2.5 km long, 6 meters wide, and existed in 328 AD – ca. 355 AD.

(The “next” bridge (today’s Ruse-Giurgiu Bridge) on the Lower Danube, in the Bulgarian-Romanian section of the river was built only in 1954, about 1 600 years later, at the initiative of the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.)

Thus, Ulpia Oescus was linked by a bridge over Danube with the ancient city of Sucidava (modern day Corabia – Romania) by Constantin the Great.

Unlike Colonia Ulpia Ratiaria near Archar on the Danube, another major Roman stronghold utterly destroyed by Bulgarian treasure hunters, Ulpia Oescus near Gigen is believed to be one of the top archaeology spots in Bulgaria that is relatively well-protected from treasure hunters’ raids.

JOB: Greek Art @ BU (TT)

Seen on various lists (please send any responses to the people/institution mentioned in the post, not to rogueclassicism!)

Boston University’s Department of History of Art and Architecture
invites applications and nominations for a tenure-track position as
assistant professor of Greek art and architecture to begin September
1, 2011 (pending final budgetary approval). Ph.D. required; teaching
experience and publications preferred. The successful candidate will
teach four courses per academic year, usually two lecture courses and
two seminars, and conduct research in her/his area of specialization.
Applicants should send a cover letter, curriculum vitae, and the
names of three references no later than December 1, 2010, to
Professor Fred S. Kleiner, Chair, Department of History of Art and
Architecture, Boston University, 725 Commonwealth Avenue, Room 302,
Boston, MA 02215, fsk AT bu.edu. Supporting materials, unless requested
by the search committee, will not be returned. Boston University is an
Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

d.m. Honor Frost

From the Telegraph:

During a career that began in the 1950s, she led many excavations in the Mediterranean and was noted for her skills as an illustrator and her work on the technicalities of ancient boat-building and nautical equipment, particularly the use of stone anchors and their typology.

Among her most important projects was an expedition, sponsored by Unesco, which she led to survey the Pharos (lighthouse) site in the Port of Alexandria in 1968. She dived the site and confirmed the existence of ruins representing part of the Pharos as well as the remains of submerged buildings representing the lost palace of Alexander and the Ptolemies, and published a preliminary report with drawings which revealed the site’s importance.

For the next two decades, however, the site remained more or less forgotten, because of a lack of specialised archaeologists and the fact that the area was in a military zone. It was only in the 1990s that work there resumed.

In 1971 the Sicilian authorities and the British School at Rome appointed Honor Frost to direct the excavation of a Punic warship in Marsala harbour off the coast of Sicily. It is believed to have been one of the Liburnian “longships”, an oared vessel with 17 sweeps per side, used by ancient Carthage in the Battle of the Aegates Islands (241BC), the last battle of the First Punic War between Carthage and the Roman Republic.

The ship had been uncovered by a dredger in 1969, and for several years Honor Frost and an international team of marine archaeologists worked on the site, publishing regular reports, before eventually restoring the wreck for display at the local museum.

She concluded that the warship had sunk stern-first after being rammed by the Romans. The crew had apparently abandoned ship, taking their weapons with them, but left evidence of their diet, including deer, goat, horse, ox, pig and sheep as well as olives, nuts and fruit. There were also traces of cannabis, which the crew may have chewed as a stimulant before going into battle. The team also found a human skeleton, possibly of a Carthaginian sailor trapped by ballast. The ship’s “nationality” was painted on the sides with letters by its Punic builders.

An only child, Honor Frost was born on October 28 1917 in Nicosia, Cyprus. After the death of both her parents she became the ward of a London solicitor, Wilfred Evill.

She studied at the Central School of Art, London, and the Ruskin School of Art, Oxford, then worked as a designer for the Ballet Rambert, and later as director of publications at the Tate Gallery.

Honor Frost was, as she put it, “baptised” into the delights of underwater exploration in a garden well in Wimbledon. She had been invited to try a diving suit attached to a hand pump which had been used in the Second World War for shallow water work and, as she descended, found herself entranced by the beauty of her surroundings: “air bubbles, like quicksilver, adhered to undercut surfaces. The floor was a cushion of dead leaves in every stage of decomposition.” Underwater, she found, “the mind loses its habits of anxiety, while powers of contemplation increase”.

She soon became convinced that “time spent on the surface was time wasted”, and, in the late 1940s, began training at Cannes with the Club Alpin Sous-Marin.

It was with the club, under the guidance of the archaeologist Frederic Dumas, that she dived her first wreck, a large Roman ship lying at the foot of a rock called the Balise de la Chretienne off the south coast of France at Antheor. “Around 15 metres I could just make out the wreck, or rather a tumble of amphorae extending as far as the eye could see,” she recalled. The wreck was inhabited by a colony of octopuses, “graceful, playful and as sensuous as cats when tickled”.

In 1957 she reported for work for the last of six seasons of an excavation, led by the British archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon, of tombs near Jericho. Though she did not enjoy working on dry land, Honor Frost was struck by the contrast between the gung-ho excavation of the Roman ship and the discipline and careful record-keeping of land-based archaeology, particularly the way in which the “context” of the tombs was studied in as much detail as their contents.

The experience convinced her of the importance not only of recording shipwrecks of particular historical interest photographically, but also of representing them in meticulously detailed plans and finding out as much as possible about the surrounding sediments.

After the Jericho dig was over, Honor Frost moved to Lebanon, where she explored the ancient harbours at Tyre and Sidon and along the Syrian coast. She developed an interest in stone anchors after spotting several built into the walls of the bronze age temple at Byblos, and then discovering similar anchors off the nearby coast.

Among other achievements, Honor Frost was the first to recognise, in 1959, that a wrecked ship off the coast of Turkey at Gelidonya, which contained a rich cargo of copper and tin ingots together with personal possessions of the crew, dated from the late Bronze Age and was early Phoenician. At the time of the discovery, scholars believed the Myceneans had dominated Mediterranean trade in the Bronze Age and that the Phoenicians were not present on the seas until the Iron Age.

From her guardian, Honor Frost inherited a valuable collection of art and antiques and a Georgian house in London, where she entertained an eclectic circle of friends, including Erica Brausen, director of the Hanover Gallery during its heyday, and the fashion designer Thea Porter. Her fascination with the Mediterranean eventually led her to acquire a house in Malta as a second home.

Among other works she wrote Under the Mediterranean (1963), about her early experiences as an archaeologist. She was also a frequent contributor to the Mariner’s Mirror, the journal of the Society for Nautical Research.

Honor Frost was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1969. In 1997 the French government awarded her a medal for pioneering submarine archaeology in Egypt, and in 2005 the British Sub-Aqua Club presented her with the Colin McLeod award for furthering international co-operation in diving.

Two hip replacements in later life did little to slow her down. Shortly before she died, on September 12, she was planning another season at Sidon and a trip to India to see what she believed to be the largest stone anchor in the world.

Honor Frost was married but separated.

via: Honor Frost | Telegraph


Honor Frost | Guardian

Lady Baba Teaches the Imperfect

Via Francesca Tronchin … this originally was presented at the LJCL meeting apparently:

… if I were starting Latin now, I’d probably buy into this … I’m a bit old school, though, and still can hear Dr Yardley’s Cleesesque bam, bas, bat, bamus, batis, bant whenever I’m messing with the imperfect …

Update (milliseconds later) … came across the ‘live’ performance:

This Day in Ancient History: ante diem vi kalendas novembres

Constantine at the battle of the Milvian Bridg...

Image via Wikipedia

ante diem vi kalendas novembres

  • 97 A.D. – The emperor Nerva adopts the future emperor Trajan
  • 312 A.D – Battle of the Milvian Bridge; Constantine I has a vision and defeats Maxentius to become sole emperor


[n.b. oddly, in all my years of doing This Day in Ancient History in one form or another (at least 10), I have never had anything for October 28! I haven’t had a chance to double check these items for sources]

Agrigento Youth at the Getty

Getty Villa ( Los Angeles ). Sign.
Image via Wikipedia

From a Getty mailing that just landed in my box:

The Agrigento Youth, one of the masterpieces of the Museo Archeologico Regionale di Agrigento in southwestern Sicily, goes on view today at the Getty Villa in a gallery devoted to images of athletes and athletic competition (Gallery 211). On loan to the Getty Museum through April 19, 2011, the figure is a rare example of an early classical marble statue called a kouros, or idealized nude young man.

To the ancient Greeks, sculptures such as these represented the finest civic ideals an aristocrat could attain upon reaching manhood. They were made to serve as costly dedicatory objects which could function as dedications to gods, representations of gods, or to honor the memory of a fallen mortal as part of his funerary ritual.

One of the best preserved examples of the kouros type in Sicily, pieces of this sculpture were excavated from two cisterns close to cult precincts devoted to Demeter and Persephone on the slope of the ancient acropolis of Akragas (modern Agrigento) in the late 1800’s.

The figure was carved by an unknown artist around 480 B.C., just at the artistic turning point between the archaic and classical periods. The style has been termed by scholars the Severe Style due to the solemn facial features and erect stance favored at this time. Under life size at 1.02 meters (40 inches) in height, The Agrigento Youth is comparable to the highest quality contemporary Athenian kouroi, with whom it shares many traits, such as the sensitively rendered modeling of the anatomy, the erect stance with one leg forward, and the serene and straightforward gaze. Unlike the majority of those statues, this figure’s right arm is raised as if holding out an object. The stone from which it was carved is a white marble imported from Greece, which indicates that The Agrigento Youth was an expensive and noteworthy dedication.

The sculpture is also distinguished by certain features which call attention to its Sicilian origins. The structure of the head is long and the face is oval, with prominent cheekbones, heavy-lidded eyes and a prominent lower lip. Sharply patterned hair is a feature common to all kouroi, but in Sicily the treatment is even more pronounced, with delineated strands of finely carved locks forming into a cap and rolled into a thick coil of hair banded by a simple diadem. Residues of the red pigment indicating the hair’s original color are clearly visible.

Before its installation at the Villa, the Museum’s conservation team collaborated with conservators from the Museo Archeologico Regionale to construct a custom seismic isolation base and pedestal for The Agrigento Youth. When the sculpture returns to Sicily, it will be accompanied by its new pedestal and earthquake-resistant mount for display in its home museum.

This is the latest in a series of cooperative efforts between the Getty and the Sicilian Ministry of Culture and Sicilian Identity arising from a 2010 agreement that calls for a number of collaborative projects, including object conservation, seismic protection of collections, exhibitions, scholarly research, and conferences.

“We are delighted to showcase The Agrigento Youth at the Getty Villa, and are pleased to continue working with our colleagues in Sicily in this latest chapter of our ongoing partnership,” says David Bomford, acting director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “This loan, and its conservation component, meets the spirit of our agreement to work in partnership with our Sicilian colleagues to preserve and share Italy’s rich cultural heritage.”

The Agrigento Youth is the second major loan to arise from the 2010 agreement. The Gela Krater, a monumental red-figure volute-krater (wine mixing vessel) attributed to the Niobid Painter, was on view at the Villa since June before it was returned this month, also with a new, custom-designed seismic isolator base and pedestal.

“We are pleased to have these objects on view at the Getty Villa where they can serve as fine examples of Sicily’s cultural offerings, helping to create broader awareness for our collections and heritage,” explains Dr. Giuseppe Castellana, the director of the Parco Archeologico e Paesaggistico della Valle dei Templi. “It is also wonderful that both objects will return to us with new bases that make them more secure.”

In addition, the Getty recently partnered with the Centro Regionale per la Progettazione, il Restauro e per le Scienze Applicate ai Beni Culturali to organize a conference on the seismic mitigation of museum collections this month in Palermo. The conference included a workshop for museum technicians and conservators on seismic mount-making, and other topics related to caring for collections in earthquake-prone areas.

Still to come on loan are objects from the archaeological site of Morgantina in central Sicily. The Getty is also working with Sicilian colleagues on two upcoming Getty Villa exhibitions, one investigating Sicily during the Classical and Hellenistic periods, and another on Selinunte, an important Greek colonial settlement in northwest Sicily.

In addition to the Sicilian region, the Getty Museum has also established cultural partnerships with the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Florence and the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples.

For now, there’s a good photo from the Cleveland Museum of Art where the item was sojourning for a while …

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