Waterloo Institute of Hellenistic Studies Launched

From the Waterloo Record:

It was a time of change, a time when the developments of a single culture were felt, as never before, beyond its borders.

The Hellenistic Age spans the roughly 300 years between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the death of Cleopatra VII in 30 BC — not an overly-lengthy period of time, but a significant one.

It marked the first time in the western world that the changes within one society — Greece — had lasting impacts on neighbouring cultures and civilizations to come, from Spain to India.

It represented the most cross-cultural interaction that had ever been seen, at every level of life — economics, politics, religion, language, science, culture — said the University of Waterloo’s Riemer Faber.

“This period is particularly rich, both in developments and in ideas,” Faber said.

It is in recognition of the significance of this often-neglected area that a new research institute dedicated to the period has been launched at UW.

The Waterloo Institute for Hellenistic Studies is believed to be the first of its kind in North America to conduct interdisciplinary research focusing on this period, said Faber, its director.

Although it has been operating since the spring, an official launch was held Thursday night to coincide with a three-day workshop that hopes to build a framework for international collaboration in the future.

Faber said the Hellenistic Age has often been overlooked because it wasn’t the time of classical Athens, and it wasn’t the Roman Empire. But more and more, scholars are recognizing its importance — and its historic similarities to the globalization occurring in today’s world.

“It is a period in which precedents were set, or parallels created, that apply today,” Faber said. “The world view, the perspective of people, changed dramatically.”

The institute’s steering committee consists of six faculty members from UW’s Department of Classical Studies who have research interests in the period, Faber said. His specialty lies in the literature and language of the time.

There are already numerous research associates from UW and abroad with a connection to the institute, and Faber said it plans to embark on a number of collaborative projects and publications with other academic centres. There are also hopes to raise funds to support a chair for the institute and to attract visiting researchers.

The institute is developing a resource database and will also launch an online journal in the near future.

… which is interesting, given the reports a short while ago that Greek at Wilfrid Laurier — with whom Waterloo shares ‘teaching’ — is threatened. How does this work? Or do the powers that be at WLU figure this Hellenistic Studies thing will pick up the slack and save them (WLU) some money?

Pylos Helmet Dispute

This one was kind of difficult to track down because the coverage in English was so vague. The inital report in Earthtimes went thusly:

The Italian government is going to court in Berlin this week to claim an early Greek metal helmet, which it claims was stolen from an archaeological site in Italy in 1993, a court spokesman said Wednesday.

Greek-speaking trading cities existed on southern Italy’s coasts in the 7th to 6th century BC when the helmet, distinctive for its geometric style of decoration with zigzags and concentric circles, was made.

Rome is demanding the surrender of the antique helmet from the agency running Berlin’s museums and the legal executors for a private art collector who has died, the spokesman said.

Museum officials said the helmet is in a Berlin safe and at the disposal of the Berlin public prosecutor. Justice authorities seized the spherical helmet in 2003 at Rome’s request.

A city newspaper, the Tagesspiegel, said it was very rare and practically priceless. It is believed it passed through various hands before a Berlin art-dealer obtained it for his private collection.

Italy noticed the item when his assets were offered at auction after his death.

Geometric style is a mark of very old Greek pottery and metalwork.

A few days later, their sister publication Monsters and Critics gave the outcome (while repeating much of the initial stuff too):

A German court rejected a demand by Rome Thursday for the return of an ancient Greek metal helmet allegedly stolen from an archaeological site in Italy in 1993.

The Berlin administrative tribunal said the Italian government’s claim had arrived too late. Rome will be able to appeal the ruling. The heirs of a private art collector say the helmet is theirs.

Greek-speaking trading cities existed on southern Italy’s coasts in the 7th to 6th century BC when the helmet, distinctive for its geometric style of decoration with zigzags and concentric circles, was made.

Public prosecutors in Berlin seized the spherical helmet at Rome’s request in 2003 and put it in a museum safe while the parties argued ownership in the courts.

Italy said it was stolen from an excavation site instead of being offered to the government. [...]

The initial German coverage was in Der Tagesspiegel:

Italien klagt gegen die Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz und das Land Berlin. Die Stiefelrepublik fordert von Berlin die antike Beute von Ausgrabungen zurück. Streitobjekt ist ein griechischer Kegelhelm aus der geometrischen Epoche, also aus den Jahren 675 bis 900 vor Christus. Er soll aus einer Raubgrabung in Süditalien aus dem Jahr 1993 stammen und illegal nach Berlin gekommen sein, sagt die Münchener Anwältin Levke Voß, die das italienische Kulturministerium vertritt. Nächsten Donnerstag wird der Fall erstmals im Verwaltungsgericht verhandelt.

Die Geschichte um den antiken Schutzhelm ist verworren. Weder genaue Herkunft noch damalige Funktion sind geklärt, schon gar nicht der Eigentümer. Es handele sich um einen „ganz seltenen Helm“ mit unschätzbarem Wert, sagt Anwältin Levke Voß lediglich. Der Pilos- Helm, wie er auch genannt wird, könnte sowohl im Krieg als auch als Prestigeobjekt getragen worden sein, vermutet Martin Maischberger von der Antikensammlung der Staatlichen Museen Berlin.

Sicher ist für den Staat Italien nur: Nach der Raubgrabung vor 17 Jahren sei das „wichtige Kulturgut“ über verschiedene Händler bei einem mittlerweile verstorbenen Berliner Kunsthändler gelandet, sagt Voß. Als Teile von dessen Sammlung verkauft werden sollten, sei das Land Italien auf das vermeintlich gestohlene Objekt aufmerksam geworden. Vor sieben Jahren kam dann das Schreiben der Italiener: Sie ersuchten Berlin um Rechtshilfe, um den Helm aus dem Privatbesitz des Sammlers zurückzubekommen. Daraufhin beschlagnahmte ihn die Berliner Staatsanwaltschaft und übergab ihn 2004 der Stiftung, um ihn fachgerecht zu lagern. Die Klage sieht deshalb in ihr und im Land Berlin die „Anspruchsgegner“, sagt Anwältin Voß. Die Klage richtet sich zudem gegen die Testamentsvollstrecker der Erben.

„Nach unseren Informationen stammt der Helm aus der Raubgrabung und wurde illegal nach Deutschland eingeführt. Er steht deswegen Italien zu“, sagt Voß und pocht auf das Kulturgüterrückgabegesetz. Das besagt, dass unrechtmäßig ausgeführte kulturelle Gegenstände dem Ursprungsland zurück gegeben werden müssen. Die Gegenseite sieht das anders. Die Italiener hätten keinerlei Beweise für ihre Version der Geschichte, sagt der Anwalt der Erben. Sie selbst waren bisher nicht zu sprechen. Der Helm sei viel früher als 1993 gefunden worden und die Erben die rechtmäßigen Besitzer. Das entscheidende Datum bei Ausgrabungen ist indes das Jahr 1970, erklärt Maischberger. In Europa habe man sich Ende der 80er Jahre darauf geeinigt, alle nach 1970 illegal ausgegrabenen Kunstwerke als Raubgrabungen zu betrachten.

… it included this photo (the source is ‘privat’):

We’ll see where this one goes …