Dr Beard delivers an interesting lecture:
Dr Beard delivers an interesting lecture:
Interesting thesis by Maria Nilsson out of the University of Gothenburg. Here’s the abstract:
Nilsson, M., The crown of Arsinoë II. The creation and development of an imagery of authority. 760 pp. 158 pls. Written in English.
This study deals with a unique crown that was created for Queen Arsinoë II. The aim is to identify and understand the symbolism that is embedded in each pictorial detail that together form the crown and how this reflects the wearer’s socio-political and religious positions. The study focuses on the crown and its details, while also including all contextual aspects of the relief scenes in order to understand the general meaning. This crown was later developed and usurped by other female figures; the material includes 158 Egyptian relief scenes dating from Arsinoë’s lifetime to Emperor Trajan, c. 400 years. In order to show the development of the crown’s symbolism, this work includes a large number of later scenes depicting the Egyptian goddess Hathor wearing a crown almost identical to Arsinoë’s.
The results of this study suggest that the crown of Arsinoë was created for the living queen and reflected three main cultural positions: her royal position as King of Lower Egypt, her cultic role as high priestess, and her religious aspect as thea Philadelphos. It indicates that she was proclaimed female pharaoh during her lifetime, and that she was regarded the female founder of the Ptolemaic Dynasty. The results of the study of the later material suggest that the later Hathoric crown was created in a time of political instability, when Ptolemy IV needed to emphasise his ancestry – underlining his lineage from Arsinoë II and Ptolemy II. The comprehensive study of the contextual pictorial setting indicates that this is a plausible explanation: the crown of Arsinoë became a symbol of authority worthy of continuation.
… and here’s how Science Daily covers the story:
A unique queen’s crown with ancient symbols combined with a new method of studying status in Egyptian reliefs forms the basis for a re-interpretation of historical developments in Egypt in the period following the death of Alexander the Great. A thesis from the University of Gothenburg (Sweden) argues that Queen Arsinoë II ruled ancient Egypt as a female pharaoh, predating Cleopatra by 200 years.
Researchers are largely agreed on Queen Arsinoë II’s importance from the day that she was deified. She was put on a level with the ancient goddesses Isis and Hathor, and was still respected and honoured 200 years after her death when her better-known descendant Cleopatra wore the same crown. But the reasons behind Arsinoë’s huge influence have been interpreted in many different ways.
Maria Nilsson has studied her historical importance by interpreting her personal crown and its ancient symbols. The crown, which has never been found but is depicted on statues and Egyptian reliefs, was created with the help of the powerful Egyptian priesthood to symbolise the qualities of the queen. The thesis questions the traditional royal line which excludes female regents, and defies some researchers’ attempts to minimise Arsinoë’s importance while she was still alive.
“My conclusion instead is that Arsinoë was a female pharaoh and high priestess who was equal to and ruled jointly with her brother and husband, and that she was deified during her actual lifetime,” says Nilsson. “It was this combination of religion and politics that was behind her long-lived influence.”
But it was not only Cleopatra who wanted to re-use Arsinoë’s important and symbolic crown. Male descendants — all named Ptolemy — used her crown as a template when creating a new crown which they gave to the goddess Hathor to honour the domestic priesthood and so win its support when Egypt was gripped by civil war.
The thesis is clearly structured around the crown and includes its wider context in the reliefs. Nilsson paints an all-round picture of the queen, how she dressed, the gods she was depicted with, the titles she was given, and so on.
The source material comes from Egypt and can be used as a basis for understanding the country’s political and religious development. At the same time, Nilsson paves the way for future studies of Egyptian crowns as symbols of power and status, and of the development of art in a more general sense.
“The creation of Queen Arsinoë’s crown was just the beginning,” she says.
The abstract and thesis (both in pdf) are available at:
… definitely worth a look …
Man … we’re pretty close to being able to play insula-collapse-bingo … from NPR:
A stretch of garden wall ringing an ancient house in Pompeii gave way Tuesday after days of torrential rain, the latest structure to collapse at the popular archaeological site.
Pompeii officials said an inspection found that a 40-foot (12-meter)-long section of wall forming part of the perimeter of a garden area near the House of the Moralist gave way in several points. They said the extreme sogginess of the soil brought down the wall in an area that hasn’t been excavated near the house.
Italy’s is struggling to preserve its immense archaeological wealth for future generations.
A few weeks ago, Italy was embarrassed when a frescoed house, the Schola Armaturarum, where gladiators prepared for combat, was reduced to a pile of stones and dust in seconds. Less than a year ago, another building, the House of the Chaste Lovers, collapsed in Pompeii.
The House of the Moralist wasn’t affected by the wall’s demise “and isn’t at risk for collapse,” Pompeii excavations director Antonio Varone said.
The Schola and the House of the Moralist are only a few steps away from each other along one of Pompeii’s main streets, which are usually thronged with some of the 3 million tourists who traipse the paths each year.
The House of the Moralist includes the remains of the homes of two families in the ancient city that was buried by the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. It is one of many structures in Pompeii that are off-limits to tourists, and no one was injured in the wall’s collapse, which was discovered early in the morning before opening hours.
Made of tufa rock, the garden wall was heavily damaged during the U.S. bombing of the Naples area in World War II. It was rebuilt after the war using a mix of the ancient stones and modern material, said Daniela Leone, an official of the state Naples and Pompeii Archaeological Superintendency.
Earlier this year the wall was reinforced, but the reinforcement work was “swept away by the violence” of the storms, the Pompeii archaeology office said in a statement.
Coincidentally, Carabinieri police were in the ruins when the garden wall came down. The officers were inspecting the gladiators house as part of efforts to pinpoint the cause of that collapse and decide if that structure can be reconstructed.
Culture Minister Sandro Bondi instructed ministry officials to keep monitoring Pompeii but warned against “useless alarmism.”
A no-confidence motion against Bondi, proposed by opposition parties after the gladiator house collapsed, had been scheduled to be voted on in Parliament on Monday, but work on legislation caused the vote to be put off until a date to be determined.
This one likely won’t make it to the English press, but Il Tempo is reporting that remains of a massive temple platform that came to light during WWII bombing is not actually that of the Capitoline Triad as has been believed for at least a generation. The recent discovery of some statue podiums near the Cathedral of S. Cesareo suggest the temple actually lies under that church:
Il Capitolium non abita più qui. Incredibile ma vero: il Campidoglio terracinese, sacrario numero uno della colonia romana, ha cambiato location. Una fresca scoperta archeologica lo trasferisce all’interno della cattedrale dedicata a S. Cesareo, diventato, con l’epopea cristiana del medioevo, il luogo sacro del nuovo culto. Ora non rimane altro che riscrivere libri e guide, compito molto più facile rispetto a quello di modificare la memoria collettiva. I lavori di restauro della cattedrale intitolata al patrono della città si stanno rivelando una miniera di ritrovamenti. L’ultimo ha la suggestione della novità rispetto a qualcosa che era solidificato nella nominazione e nella mente di tutti, da quando nel periodo bellico le bombe avevano portato alla luce dietro Palazzo Venditti un basamento con una colonna isolata, unica restante del fronte composto da 4 ìgemelle”. Non ci fu bisogno di una folgorazione. Quella costruzione divenne sic et simpliciter, agli occhi di studiosi e non, il Capitolium dell’antica città romana. D’altronde si sapeva che la fondazione delle colonie ad opera dei Romani avveniva sempre con la contestuale realizzazione di una struttura dedicata alla triade capitolina (Giunone, Giove, Minerva). Erano le divinità ufficiali, rappresentative di uno Stato, che manifestava in questo modo il suo potere. Per la città era un onore essere insignita di un tale privilegio. La versione ha retto per più di mezzo secolo. A dire il vero in tutto questo tempo c’è stato chi (Filippo Coarelli) ha sostenuto in una sua guida del Lazio che il Capitolium era da localizzare all’interno del Tempio maggiore, ma la sua affermazione ha assunto l’aspetto di un’eresia archeologica, per cui è rimasta relegata come un’ipotesi inattendibile, fino a quando fortuna e bravura non si sono coalizzate a rivelare qualcosa di clamorosamente inaspettato. E’ successo che si stava risistemando un locale posto sul lato destro della Cattedrale prima delle cappelle quando l’occhio attento dell’esperto è andato ad una strana struttura a ìT”, nella quale si poteva individuare i resti del podio di una statua. Di un altro podio, nel passato, erano state scoperte tracce proprio nelle vicinanze dell’altare cristiano. A questo punto, l’intuizione: a quell’altezza, per tutta la larghezza del tempio, correvano le tre colonne, dedicate ad ospitare, a partire dal I secolo dopo Cristo, le statue dei maggiori della romanità quali Giunone, Giove e Minerva. Ora il puzzle archeologico, per essere completato, avrebbe bisogno solo del ritrovamento della terza base, ma il teorema trova conferma anche in una specifica circostanza: era abitudine dei Romani costruire il loro Campidoglio o su un’acropoli o a ridosso del foro per il significato ideologico che quella presenza si portava appresso. Ma, se il Capitolium terracinese non è più il Capitolium, cosa rappresenta quella piattaforma che si trova dietro l’Appia antica? Per una verità che si scopre, un giallo che nasce.
My Twitter godfather beat me to this one … on the periphery of our purview:
Yay! Discover Magazine gets it!!!! Will we see retractions from the Telegraph et al?
… in case you missed our previous posts, most recently:
… also in memory of Leslie Neilsen:
… as told by Penelope:
I first saw this on the Classicists list … I hope it’s making the rounds of other lists; a letter from Dr. Judith Fletcher:
I am writing to you because our new Dean is thinking of eliminating senior Greek courses based on low enrollments. We have a reciprocal agreement with Waterloo that allows our students to take a semester of Greek with them, and then students come down to me. Since I am no longer in the department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, I no longer have any way of intervening in this decision other than pleading with the Dean. It seems that he has been persuaded by arguments that Greek should not continue at the third or fourth year.
I am not sure what constitutes a low enrollment, since last year I taught Homer to 10 students at both the graduate and undergraduate level. This year it looks like I will have 8 students in my Aeschylus course. Next year, given the numbers in second year Greek this year, it looks like a pretty healthy sized course as well.
I am wondering if you would be willing to write to Michael Carroll and advocate for maintaining senior Greek (third and fourth year at Wilfrid Laurier). It would help if you could also copy your letter to the Vice President Academic, Deb MacLatchy.
It doesn’t help that the present chair of Archaeology and Classical Studies is a North American archaeologist and has absolutely no desire to keep senior Greek alive. I don’t know if there is any point in copying him to the letter. I leave that to your discretion.
If I can provide you with any further information, please don’t hesitate to ask. And if you know anyone who could also write on behalf of this issue, please forward this email to them.
The Dean of Arts is Michael Carroll, and his email is mcarroll AT wlu.ca
The Vice President Academic is Deb MacLatchy and her mail is dmaclatchy AT wlu.ca
Professor Alan Sommerstein wrote to the Dean of Arts on the matter and received this reply:
Dear Professor Sommerstein,
I have passed on your comments to John Triggs, Chair of the Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, to share with his colleagues.
It would appear, however, that you have been misinformed. I have checked with Professor Triggs and he tells me that no one – and certainly not the Departmental Council in ACS – has suggested that third and fourth year Greek courses be discontinued. And of course, both he and I are mystified over the suggestion that the Dean’s Office has made such a recommendation.
The Department Assembly (note: not the Dean’s Office) has recently recommended that a few courses be taken off the books (mainly because of retirements or because they no longer fit the program), but most of these are archaeology courses. It has also recommended that some low enrollment courses not be offered every year. This is a departmental decision but one that reflects a departmental concern with planning that I would be loath to overrule (and indeed will not be overruling).
… and Dr Fletcher’s gloss on the above:
Thanks Alan. You will get a message from the Dean saying that Greek is not being cut, but that it is just not on offer next year. This is technically speaking not the Dean’s decision, but the decision of the chair of archaeology, John Triggs. The Dean refuses to intervene, and insists that Greek is not being eliminated. My response is “then why is it not being offered?” We have the highest number of junior level students in Greek that we have ever had. We share courses with the university of Waterloo so that if we offer one semester of Greek they offer a corresponding semester.
There is something going on here that has absolutely nothing to do with enrollment, and more to do with politics. This is the first year in my 15 years at Laurier that a senior Greek course has not been offered.
It really is a travesty.
… and, of course, there are all those students who suddenly find themselves without options for senior Greek. What happens to their prospects, especially if they had plans on going to grad school? This goes beyond travesty — it is an incredibly evil strategy because I’m sure as everyone can see, you don’t offer Greek at ‘one end’, so students don’t see it as an option to begin with, don’t take it at all, and essentially the program dies within three years.
The email address which seems to be missing in all this is that of John Triggs: jtriggs AT wlu.ca
The incipit of a piece on the IDF from Ynet:
Alexander the Great, the man who conquered the ancient world, said that those who develop new combat methods or who possess new arms will be triumphant.
Did he ever say such a thing?
For the past few days there have been posts on Facebook about some major Australia-England cricket series going on … turns out, there are some ads with a Classical bent for same … the first seems inspired by a certain Russell Crowe film:
… another features Australian cricketer Shane Warne as a Roman emperor, but it doesn’t seem to be online yet … if it shows up, I’ll post it.
I can’t find that we’ve mentioned this one before at rogueclassicism … from ANA/MPA:
Excavation works on a sunken vessel dated to the post Hellenistic era off the resort town of Nea Styra, in the southern Evoikos Gulf separating the mainland and large Evia (Euboea) island, were concluded for 2010.
The ancient vessel was loaded with amphorae, considered extremely interesting, as the cargo, along with wooden remnants. The latter’s presence indicates that the vessel also transported high-value products, possibly sculptures in whole or in parts.
Amphorae Brindisi and vases filled with foods and wines, bronze and iron nails and small parts of copper statues of natural size, along with two legs of a day-bed, were collected and lifted from the vessel.
The wreck was located in 2007 at a depth of 40 to 45 metres. Thirty-six divers, researchers, archaeologists, photographers, architects and other experts took part in the underwater excavation.
The research was organised by the Maritime Antiquities Ephorate and the Institute of Maritime Archaeological Research.
Excavation works will continue and in 2011.
The incipit of one of those science articles with plenty of Latin words … this time, though, there’s also a reference to ‘Etruscan’ divinities:
Mildew infections not only cause unsightly vegetable patches, they can also result in extensive crop failure. Interestingly, the processes involved in infections with this garden pest are similar to those involved in fertilisation. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne and the University of Zurich have identified two proteins in the model plant species Arabidopsis thaliana that are necessary for both fertilisation and infection with powdery mildew. This explains why mildew-resistant plants, in which these genes are mutated, are infertile. (Science, Vol 330, p 968-971)
Pollen tubes and hyphae, the filamentous structures of which fungi are formed, not only look very similar, they also require similar proteins. The two proteins in question, which have just been discovered, are named after the Etruscan fertility goddesses Feronia and Nortia. The scientists discovered that these proteins are both beneficial and harmful to plants. They link the capacity for seed formation with the absence of resistance to mildew infection. [...]
… Feronia was a divinity associated with fertility; Nortia with time (she was the one who was associated with the ritual ‘driving of the nail’ in the Capitoline Temple of Jupiter). Is it just me or do others think ‘Robigo/us’ might have been a better name for at least one of these proteins? Volutina might be another one ..
Excellent feature at Nature (includes a pdf article that’s free!):
Another one that was making the rounds this week. From Fox6:
Father Reginald Foster is trying to resuscitate something most people consider dead; the old language of Latin.
Years ago, Foster spurned the family business for a higher calling. He joined the priesthood. Foster soon learned he excelled at one of the tools of the trade. He spoke Latin like a Roman emperor. That talent was noticed and needed at the Vatican where Latin remains the official language.
For the next 40 years, every official document that came from the Vatican was either written by Foster’s hand or approved with his eyes. That includes the funeral mass of Pope John Paul II, the mass heralding the ascention of Pope Benedict, even the document certifying Jerome Listecki as Milwaukee’s Archbishop.
Foster is an affectionate but strict teacher. He says Latin demands discipline and dedication. He makes all of his students sign a tough contract.
“I tell the students, you can take off your shoes or clothes or bring beer or wine in class, I don’t care if you make one stupid mistake, you’re out!” said Foster.
Foster wants Latin to survive. Yet, he laments the long, slow death of the language. That begs the question: If Latin is dead, which is to say it’s not really spoken anywhere anymore, then why is it still important?
Foster says, “Relevant! Because it’s about three quarters of our western civilization, for one. All of our thoughts, ideas, prayers and all this other stuff has come through Latin!”
Anyone interested in taking Fr. Foster’s class should mail a short note of interest to Reginald Foster at 3553 S. 41st St. in Milwaukee. He’ll send you a contract and you can take the class for free in Milwaukee.
… the original post has a nice television news segment on Foster as well. Definitely worth a look; I’m sure Father Foster would cringe at the voiceover’s use of ‘begging the question’ … also nice to see a Latinist using a document camera (sorry … I can’t embed it).
One of the things that was being passed around the past week (during which occurred American Thanksgiving, of course) was this humourous item on Thanksgiving seating arrangements, as interpreted by College Humor:
… which was very interesting from a Classics point of view when one thinks about Roman triclinium seating arrangements. Here’s Pedar Foss’ diagram of same (via uSydney) … AGE, GENDER, AND STATUS DIVISIONS AT MEALTIME IN THE ROMAN HOUSE: a synopsis of the literary evidence is definitely worth a look if you’ve never visited:
Now, given that lectus imus #1 is the place of the host, that would correspond, presumably, with ‘dad’ above, putting grandpa in the locus consularis, which makes sense. Beside grandpa comes grandma, then the tipsy mom, who is pretty much the furthest away from the host (no comment). Beside dad is the creepy uncle, who is presumably only there because he is dad’s brother. The locus summus is presumably reserved for the various kids, legitimate and otherwise … not much has changed!
Here’s something I didn’t know … there’s a Classicist behind Inspector Morse … from the incipit of a feature at FT.com:
Crime writer Colin Dexter has become inextricably linked with the city of Oxford, where his bestselling Inspector Morse novels are set. So it is interesting to discover that he went to university at Cambridge. More than that, he didn’t get round even to visiting Oxford until the late 1950s, when he went to meet the later-to-be-disgraced media tycoon Robert Maxwell.
Back then, Dexter was a classics teacher in Corby, Northamptonshire, while Maxwell was the boss of Pergamon Press, a specialist academic publisher. “We met up to discuss my writing a few textbooks for him, which I duly did,” says Dexter, who recently turned 80. “Even if he did turn out to be a crookster, he was always very kind to me.” [...]
… and here’s an interesting bit from the middle:
“I’ve written 19 books in all and I haven’t touched a typewriter, let alone a computer key, in all that time. I wrote them all out in longhand on ruled paper using a blue Biro. Then I got them typed up by a dear old lady down the road. She was very good even if some of the pages were smeared with red nail varnish.”
I still remember marvelling at seeing a copy of Mommsen’s ‘thesis’ (can’t remember where) … handwritten and only 30 or so pages …
I don’t think there is any new discovery lurking behind this one, but it’s interesting to bring it up as a reminder that not all gladiators died in the arena:
An ancient site in the southwestern province of Muğla is believed to be the land where gladiators lived after they retired.
Excavations carried out in Muğla’s Yatağan district uncovered the city of Stratoniceia, where the largest gymnasium in Anatolia and a graveyard for gladiators are located. The excavation is expected to shed light on gladiator fights from about 1,800 years ago.
“We believe that gladiators retired and lived in Stratoniceia. As much as it is a city of marble, Stratoniceia is also a city of gladiators,” excavation head Bilal Söğüt, a professor at the department of archeology at Denizli’s Pamukkale University, told the Anatolia news agency.
Söğüt said it has many aspects that distinguish it from other ancient sites, including the gymnasium and the fact that the city was one of gladiators.
A necropolis including tombs of gladiators was uncovered in the northern part of the city. “The gravestones found there are on display at the Muğla Museum. Among them are very famous gladiators, including Droseros, who was killed by Akhilleus, as well as Vitalius, Eumelus, Amaraios, Khrysopteros and Khrysos. Droseros had 17 victories, losing to Akhilleus in the end,” Söğüt explained.
Nowhere else in Anatolia is home to this many gladiator gravestones, he said. More gladiator gravestones are expected to be uncovered during the ongoing excavation. “We hope to discover more gladiator names in the coming years. We will have a clearer picture of the area in the future. We will discover more items here,” Söğüt said.
Muğla Provincial Culture and Tourism Director Kamil Özer said they will carry out a campaign in 2011 to promote the seven gravestones on display at the Muğla Museum. “We first plan to restore the museum building. We aim to promote the building’s gladiator hall, especially at international fairs. [Muğla’s] culture tourism is lucky to have the gravestones of these seven gladiators exhibited at the Muğla Museum,” he said. The gravestones are accompanied by images from the hit movie “Gladiator” on display at the museum.
If you want to get an idea of what’s at the Mugla Museum, damiandude has a nice flickrset …
One of the things I constantly wrestle with as a blogger is whether to post things as soon as they come out and risk having a better version/more detailed version come out later — as often happens — or hold onto things and let them sit in my 2blog file, where they often get forgotten. In this case, something just hit my email box that reminded me of the others. So, to begin our little excursus, way back in September, Kristina Killgrove was first to alert me (and several others followed) to the cover of Amanda Claridge’s Rome: An Archaeological Guide:
… apparently they’ve dealt with that leaking roof thing at the Pantheon. Then our longtime Classics list friend Yong-Ling Ow mentioned on Facebook the cover of Miriam Greenblatt’s Julius Caesar and the Roman Republic:
… which appears to be sporting the image of a ‘different’ Julius Caesar. Today’s offering is not as dramatic as the previous two, but displays one of my personal bugbears. Natalie Haynes’ The Ancient Guide to Modern Life actually looks interesting from an initial review, but the cover looks like this:
… which does that thing of using Greek letters as if they were English … rotating omegas for ‘c’ and ‘u’ … sigmas for ‘e’ … something theta-like for ‘o’ … still, not as bad as a local hall called the “Olympia” which rendered its name in Greek letters and used a Psi for the ‘y’.
I don’t know if this is an unhealthy obsession or what, but over the years, one of the recurring things at rogueclassicism has been on the origin of ‘toasting’, in the sense of raising a glass at some festival/celebration and making some kind words. The usual tale is that there is some connection between the ancient Romans/Greeks or whoever putting a burnt piece of bread (toast!) in their wine to make it taste better. I think we first pondered it on the cusp of 2005/2006 and declared it officially silly on the cusp of 2008/2009.
This year, the story seems to come much in advance of its usual New Year’s Eve context and is somewhat modified … here’s the incipit of the piece that caught my eye:
Since ancient times, from the Greeks to the Romans, glasses of wine had been lifted in either celebration to their gods or to those recently fallen. This raising of the glass evolved through time in celebration of great accomplishments or an oath of loyalty.
Fast forward to 1643. The Middle Temple, who often used cooked bread (or obviously toast) to dip in their wine to improve the flavor, raised their glasses to then-Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia, swearing their allegiance and lives to her. [...]
… which I use by way of introduction to reponder the question and see if this takes off (heheheh, he said, rubbing his hands in evil glee between key strokes). The thought occurred to me in one of my pre-caffeinated states one a.m. that what we call ‘a toast’ might actually be a corruption of Latin ‘tuis’ (dative) or ‘ad tuos’ (accusative) which one could imagine being said in some sort of ‘toasting’ context. I’m too lazy to Google it, but it’s probably been suggested already. Of course, the SMBC cartoon in the previous post most likely applies here …
Some interesting tidbits hit my emailbox over the past few days, and it seems that they might be best presented together. The first two are actually cartoons posted by James McGrath on facebook in regards to how ‘science reporting’ seems to work … seems to me, they work just as well for archaeological reporting. The first comes from Abstruse Goose and reminds me of that ‘gladiatrix’ story from a few months ago:
Next, from SMBC:
… which pretty much applies to the ‘Lost Legion in China’ stuff of late …
Coincidentally this week, rogueclassicism was mentioned in passing in the Times Higher Education thing in an article by Jay Kennedy (“My Dan Brown Moment”), whose work in what’s been dubbed ‘The Plato Code’, will fall into one or the other categories above for many of our readers, depending on which side of the fence they’re on.
This was the first one of these that I saw (courtesy of Paul Halsall):
… not quite classical, but a good one to follow up with: