via Twitter: Ehud Netzer Collection @ BAR

Can’t figure out why Biblical Archaeology Society tweets don’t work like other tweets … in any event, a couple of Ehud Netzer items of interest there (and apologies to those who dealt with previous versions of this post that didn’t work:

New Year’s Eve Kissing Origins: Don’t Eat That Elmer

“This one isn’t even worth commenting on, other than to point out it is possibly the weakest attempt to link some modern practice to ancient Rome that I’ve seen in ages …

The custom of kissing can be traced back to the Ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia, which took place near the end of the year.

Germanicia Found?

Very interesting news item from Hurriyet:

Mosaics found during an illegal excavation in the southeastern province of Kahramanmaraş have led to the unearthing of an ancient city called Germenicia, which remained underground for 1,500 years. The mosaics, found under a house in the Dulkadiroğulları neighborhood, are expected to shed light on the history of the city.

The Roman-era city of Germenicia was unearthed by chance during an illegal excavation in the basement of a house. Preliminary examinations showed that the mosaics were high-quality contemporaries of those unearthed in the ancient cities of Zeugma and Yamaçevler. The first steps have been taken to completely unearth Germenicia and its mosaics, with houses in the area expropriated by the Culture Ministry.

Speaking to Anatolia news agency, Provincial Culture and Tourism Director Seydi Küçükdağlı said the location of Germenicia was shown as Kahramanmaraş on ancient maps, but archaeologists had been unable to determine its exact location because no architectural remnants of the city had been found.

He said the accidentally found mosaics, first stumbled upon during the illegal excavation in 2007, were the reason for finding the 1,500-year-old city. “Although the city was very important and magnificent – it even printed its own money at the time – it remained underground as a result of invasions and fires,” he said.

Küçükdağlı said excavations were initiated under the coordination of the Kahramanmaraş Museum Directorate at the end of November. “After the first mosaic was found, we examined the region and registered 19 parcels of land that could be important. We have expropriated five parcels and excavations have started on three. The houses where the mosaics were found have been torn down and a protective cover installed at the site.”

Open-air museum

Küçükdağlı said excavations would continue, and when completed the area would become an open-air museum to be visited by tourists.

He said seven archaeologists were participating in the excavation. “The mosaics have changed the future of the buried city. They are on the ground level of two-story magnificent villas built in the late-Roman period around 400 A.D. and will give us clues about the daily social life at the time.”

Küçükdağlı said the Culture Ministry also decided to carry out academic excavations in the region, adding that they sent invitations to 44 universities with archaeology departments and expected their response.

He said the fifth International Mosaics Corpus would be held in June in Kahramanmaraş and that the symposium would provide information about the history of the mosaics.

Ancient city of Germenicia

Archaeologists believe there are more remnants of the ancient city of Germenicia, which is named after the father of Roman Emperor Caligula, in the Namık Kemal neighborhood in the foothills of Ahir Mountain. They believe the city was buried by landslides and avalanches caused by a severe earthquake.

Research has shown the region likely featured as many as 100 villas with 15-20 rooms each. Excavation work on the newly unearthed mosaics so far has suggested they were likely floor decorations in one of those villas.

via: Mosaics found in SE Turkey lead to unearthing of ancient Roman city – Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review.

The photo accompanying the item:

via Hurriyet

via Hurriyet


Of course, the city is more properly called Germanicia (after Germanicus) … according to the Wikipedia article, it was originally a Hittite settlement and then refounded by various conquerors/occupiers. I’m assuming the Germanicia name change came during Germanicus’ conquests of Cappadocia and Commagene, but I can’t find an ancient reference to it … was it pre- or post-assassination? And if pre, was it an action which someone like Piso and his allies might consider ‘threatening’? I haven’t seen this ‘side’ of Germanicus before …

ClassiCarnival 12-20-10

Sorry … meant to include this list of highlights from the Classical blogosphere yesterday but didn’t quite get rountoit … in no particular order:

Apollo Saettante at the Getty

Today I was sent a Getty Press Release of interest:

After eighteen months of analysis, conservation, and re-stabilization, the bronze statue of Apollo Saettante (Apollo as an Archer) from Pompeii will go on view at the Getty Villa from March 2 to September 12, 2011 in the exhibition Apollo from Pompeii: Investigating an Ancient Bronze. Providing a behind-the-scenes look at this rare treasure, the special six-month exhibition presents the results of the first full study of this ancient sculpture.

Originally located in the Temple of Apollo in Pompeii, the Apollo Saettante was discovered in fragments centuries after it was buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79. The bulk of the figure was unearthed in June 1817 just north of the Forum. A year later, in October 1818, veteran soldiers hunting a fox near the ancient city walls stumbled across some of the statue’s still-missing parts. The Apollo was one of the first major bronzes to be found at Pompeii, and was subsequently reassembled and displayed in the Real Museo Borbonico in Naples.

The conservation of the Apollo Saettante at the Getty Villa is the result of an important collaboration between the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples, as part of a broad cultural exchange agreement made in 2007 between the Italian Ministry of Culture and the Getty Museum. This exhibition marks the Apollo Saettante’s first showing in the United States, and complements the Villa’s collection of ancient works from Greece, Rome, and Etruria. Following its exhibition in Los Angeles, the statue will be returned to Naples, where the Getty’s conservation efforts will ensure its stability for generations.

The Apollo Saettante arrived in Los Angeles on loan for study and conservation treatment in 2009, together with the Statue of an Ephebe (Youth) as a Lampbearer, which is currently on view in the Basilica at the Getty Villa.

“This project has provided us an unprecedented opportunity,” said Erik Risser, an assistant conservator of antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum and co-curator of the exhibition. “Large bronzes rarely survive from antiquity, and the chance to conduct a thorough investigation into the Apollo Saettante has brought to light its rich and complex history.”

A variety of approaches, including archival research, X-radiography, ultra-violet photography, and endoscopic examination, have provided important new information regarding both the techniques used to make the statue in antiquity, and also the methods used to restore it in the nineteenth century. The investigations extended to analyses of the metal alloy composition, the pigments on the surface, and even of the types of bolts used in the re-assembly, all to answer questions about previous restoration efforts.

Apollo from Pompeii: Investigating an Ancient Bronze presents the results of these investigations, displaying art-historical, technical, and scientific evidence side by side in order to demonstrate the range of methods used during the study of the statue at the Getty Villa. Special features include the discovery of a large void in the statue’s back, which indicates that the method of its ancient manufacture was highly unusual, and the identification of two different phases of restoration. An interactive touch-screen display in the exhibition will provide visitors with the opportunity to explore the statue. This interactive feature will also be available on the Web at

Alongside select examples of ancient bronze sculpture from the Getty Museum’s Antiquities collection and a series of archival drawings and documents from the Getty Research Institute, the exhibition will also feature a bronze statue of Artemis, the sister piece to the Apollo Saettante. The two faced one another in the Temple of Apollo at Pompeii, and the inclusion of the Artemis, also on loan from the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples, will provide a unique opportunity to develop and extend the discoveries that have been made in examining the Apollo.

This exhibition follows a series of Getty Villa exhibitions devoted to restoration and conservation, including The Hope Hygeia: Restoring a Statue’s History (2008), Fragment to Vase: Approaches to Ceramic Restoration (2008-2009), and Reconstructing Identity: A Statue of a God from Dresden (2009-2010), as well as early excavations in the Bay of Naples (The Herculaneum Women and the Origins of Archeology, 2007).

The exhibition is also one in a series of Italian collaborations that have brought important works of art to the Getty Museum, beginning in June 2009 with the display of the Chimaera of Arezzo in partnership with the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Florence. The Getty also has long-term agreements with the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples, and the Sicilian Ministry of Culture and Sicilian Identity, for exhibitions over the coming years.

Apollo from Pompeii: Investigating an Ancient Bronze is presented in collaboration with the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples. It is curated by the Getty Museum’s Erik Risser, assistant conservator of antiquities, and David Saunders, assistant curator of antiquities. This exhibition runs concurrently with In Search of Biblical Lands: From Jerusalem to Jordan in Nineteenth-century Photography, March 2—September 12, 2011 at the Getty Villa.

Here are a couple of photos of interest:

Apollo as an Archer (The Apollo Saettante), Roman, 100 BC- AD79. Courtesy of the Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompei.

The xray version is really neat:

2009 X-ray of Apollo as an Archer (The Apollo Saettante), Roman, 100 BC- AD79. Courtesy of the Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompei.

This Day in Ancient History: ante diem xiii kalendas januarias

019 Vitellius
Image via Wikipedia
ante diem xiii kalendas januarias

  • Saturnalia continues (day 4) – major, popular festival in honour of Saturn with banquets, the wearing of soft caps (pilei), and general good cheer. Shops and schools were closed, gambling was legally permitted, gifts were exchanged and masters might even wait on their servants. Obviously this festival is often seen as a precursor to our modern-day Christmas celebrations.
  • 69 A.D. — supporters of the Flavians capture Rome; murder of the emperor-for-a-little-while Vitellius