d.m. Willi Dansgaard

I can already hear my readers saying “Who?”. Willi Dansgaard was a climatologist who pioneered checking Greenland ice cores and the like for evidence of climate change. From a Classics perspective:

Dansgaard later organised or participated in more than 19 expeditions to the glaciers of Norway, Greenland and Antarctica, and went on to develop ways to date gases trapped in the ice as well as to analyse acidity, dust and other influences on climate, including volcanic eruptions.

Thus, analyses of the acidity levels in ice cores have shown that a particularly large eruption produced of acidic fallout on Greenland for three years roundabout 50BC (possibly supporting accounts of a dimming of the sun after Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44BC, which is reported in the writings of Virgil and Pliny the Elder).

… which is one of the many ‘Bethlehem stars’ for the Classics set (along with Halley’s comet, which doesn’t quite match Julius Caesar’s assassination).

Barack Obama and the Lessons of Antiquity: Robert Garland

Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...

Image via Wikipedia

While poking around Youtube yesterday, I came across a pile of videos from the Hauenstein Center, which apparently hosted a conference called Barack Obama and the Lessons of Antiquity in which a pile of big name Classicists made some interesting comparisons. Near as I can tell, all of the talks are available, so over the next few days I’ll be posting them here. The first is Robert Garland on American Empire and Global Leadership (this is the first paper after Bruce Thornton’s keynote address, which I’ll post at the end … there are, of course, some introductory remarks prior to Dr Garland’s assumption of the podium):

This Day in Ancient History: ante diem ix kalendas martias

Marble portrait of Gaius Caesar

Image by Tintern via Flickr

ante diem ix kalendas martias

  • Parentalia possibly comes to an end with the festival of Feralia, during which sheep were sacrificed to the dead; the additional rites mentioned by Ovid (Fasti 2.565 ff) apparently in connection with the Feralia probably have nothing to do specifically with the festival.
  • 4 A.D. — death of hoped-for-successor-to-Augustus Gaius Caesar (either February 21 or 22) in Limyra

Altar of the Twelve Gods Found?

Interesting (and uncharacteristically detailed)  item in Kathimerini:

Renovation work on the aged Piraeus-Kifissia electric railway (ISAP) on the stretch between the central Athenian neighborhoods of Monastiraki and Thisseio have brought to light one of the most exciting archaeological discoveries of recent years.

Archaeologists believe that remnants found during construction in the area of the Ancient Agora, on the northwestern slope of the Acropolis, belong to the famed Altar of the Twelve Gods, one of Athens’s most ancient monuments and a landmark that marked the very center of ancient city, from which all distances were measured — like an ancient Syntagma Square, which marks the starting point in terms of street numbers.

The find has created a lot of excitement among Greek archaeologists, who believe that it will change the map of Ancient Athens as we know it. “Thucydides mentions only a handful of monuments in his historical works,” explained archaeologist Androniki Makri. “Of these, even fewer have actually been found and they are located in the archaeological sites surrounded by the mass of this densely built city. If I had to say what kind of attitude we, all Greeks, should have toward these monuments, I would obviously answer that we should be guarding and protecting them, promoting them and showing them off in any way possible.”

The Altar of the Twelve Gods (a small section of which is visible in the Ancient Agora) is almost completely buried under the lines of the ISAP train. ISAP is not willing to give archaeologists the time they need to collect evidence from the new find or to draw up a plan about how to handle it. According to the archaeologists they are 100 percent sure about the identity of the find, because the altar is one of the Athenian monuments that have been described the best in the relevant literature.

“The significance of the altar from an archaeological perspective regarding the history of the Agora and coupled with new evidence from excavation is obvious to the scientists,” said Angelos Matthaiou, secretary of the Hellenic Epigraphical Society.

“All of the new evidence that has arisen has not yet been completely understood and cannot be in such a short period time; this is also obvious to the experts. It takes a lot more thought and study, not just into the history of the altar itself, but also into its significance as far as the Agora’s early history is concerned,” added Matthaiou.

According to Thucydides, the Altar of the Twelve Gods was founded during the tyranny of Peisistratus by his grandson of the same and son of the tyrant Hippias in 522-521 BC, It marked the very center of the ancient city.

Archaeologist Sophia Aliferi also said that “Pindar, obviously in reference to the altar in his dithyramb for the Athenians, called on the gods of Olympus to dance near the fragrant, much-frequented navel of the holy city of Athens, the renowned and exquisitely adorned Agora.”

Persian War

The Altar of the Twelve Gods was partially destroyed during a Persian raid in the 480-479 BC period and was not rebuilt until several decades later, as evidence found during the excavation of the Ancient Agora, including worn stones and seashells believed to date to the fourth quarter of the 5th century BC, suggest.

Closer to modern times, in 1891, when the Athens-Piraeus electric railway was being constructed, only a very small part of the Agora has been excavated and very few of its monuments were brought to light. At the time, neither archaeologists nor the contractors had any idea which relics were are risk of being destroyed in the process of construction and so they failed to take any measures to prevent any damage.

Nevertheless, archaeologists today say that despite the extent of the work that was carried out at the time, very little damage was caused as contractors built the rails on this particular stretch just a little bit higher up than where the altar is located.

The evidence the archaeologists give is enlightening: the excavation of trenches to support the walls flanking this section of the railway tracks in 1891 destroyed the area around the altar and brought small sections of the actual altar to light.

Later, excavations by archaeologists in 1934 at the Ancient Agora began revealing more parts of the altar as well as the peribolos, or courtyard, which helped archaeologists identify it for what it was. Their findings were confirmed even more recently by the discovery of a statue base with an ancient epigraph suggesting that the statue was commissioned by the Ancient Athenian aristocrat Leagros to the sculptor Glaukos to honor the 12 gods of Olympus.

Many questions continue to eat away at experts, who are hoping that new excavations at the site will reveal all. Their hopes, however, may be short-lived if ISAP goes ahead with its renovation work as planned.

This discovery has reignited the issue of jurisdiction, which has been the bane of many a construction project in Greece and has also sealed the fate of many areas of historical interest.

On the one hand, ISAP is eager to complete construction work and to open this section of the railway to beleaguered commuters without further delay.

On the other, archaeologists insist that further excavations in the area may contribute significantly to more discoveries about the topography of and life in Ancient Athens. They are suggesting that the tracks be elevated or diverted over a bridge, or even that the altar be dug up and moved.

They believe that if the Altar of the Twelve Gods is allowed to be buried again it will not only set a precedent but also form a black mark against Greek society and the attitude it takes toward its ancient heritage.

“We have a duty to ourselves, to our children and to the rest of the world, and especially to western civilizations, whose roots we like to brag lay here,” said Androniki Makri, an archaeologist.

If the Altar of the Twelve Gods is buried under the tracks again, added Angelos Matthaiou, “it is tantamount to admitting, as a society, that we have failed to do our duty, that we have allowed others to dictate how we manage our ancient legacy and have given in to those who have sold their concsiences in exchange for material goods.”


Dorothy King answers a question I was wondering about … we did know about a bit of this sticking out previously …

This Day in Ancient History: ante diem xiii kalendas martias

Portrait, oil on canvas, of Edward Emily Gibbo...

Image via Wikipedia

ante diem xiii kalendas martias 

  • Parentalia (Day 5) — the period for appeasing the dead continued
  • Quirinalia — festival honouring the namesake of the Quirinal hill, the Sabine divinity Quirinus, who was later identified with Romulus. Little else is known about the festival.
  • 304 A.D. — martyrdom of Donatus and 80+ others near Venice
  • 1776 — Edward Gibbon publishes the first volume of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Archaeology Magazine Corrigenda

… from the mailbag:

We, as Etruscologists, would very much appreciate it if you would post the following correction, since it is our understanding that Archaeology, the magazine published by the Archaeological Institute of America, does not intend to print a correction.

The November/December 2010 issue of Archaeology featured an article on the Etruscans with the Louvre terracotta sarcophagus on the cover flipped in its orientation. In the article itself, two more photographs were also misoriented: the Pyrgi inscription on p. 39 and the Etruscan mirror on p. 43.

Far too many people think the Etruscans are mysterious; and Archaeology has certainly deepened the mystery by implying that the Etruscans dined reclining on their right elbows and eating with their left hands — which, of course, seems eminently logical, since their language is written from right to left.

In short, we are saddened to say that Archaeology must be used with caution as a scholarly source of information.

Please feel free to circulate this notice.


Jocelyn Penny Small, Rutgers University
Richard De Puma, University of Iowa
Ingrid Edlund-Berry, University of Texas – Austin
Ili Nagy, University of Puget Sound
P. Gregory Warden, Southern Methodist University

Another Antiquities Dealer in Trouble

A different sort of case from the Guardian:

A British antiquities dealer who faces being deported to Greece and imprisoned over claims that he sold stolen ancient artefacts to an Athens dealer is expected to learn his fate within the next fortnight.

Malcolm Hay, 60, an Oxford-educated trader who has sold antiquities to museums worldwide, was arrested in 2007 – eight years after he sold broken pottery pieces to the dealer.

He claims the trader, who bought hundreds of shards from him, used his invoice falsely as “whitewashing” for valuable unprovenanced items that were later found in her shop by Greek police.

The items seized from the trader in 2000 were worth nearly £200,000. They included unbroken pots and figurines from around 6BC, which under Greek law belong to the state. She was later acquitted after claiming that she bought them from Hay, a charge he disputes.

Hay maintains that the only evidence is the word of the Greek dealer, which “the Crown Prosecution Service wouldn’t regard as evidence”. He says that he sold her the shards for £1,880 in 1999, invoicing them as “550 pieces of terracotta”.

Having previously sold to the Athens dealer, Hay was surprised when in 2000 Interpol requested an interview with him as a witness.

He heard nothing more until he was arrested by British armed police in 2007, based on a European arrest warrant (EAW) issued by Athens. He said: “I had never been notified, accused or summoned by the Greek courts in the intervening years, and this came like a blow.”

His plight has shocked the antiquities world and has led dealers to attach photographs to invoices.

Hay faces being jailed for four years if he is extradited under EAW legislation, which no longer requires foreign prosecutors to provide evidence of guilt to British courts. Lawyers say the advent of the EAW has sparked hundreds of extradition requests from member states – some, such as a request from Poland, for offences as minor as the theft of firewood.

The article continues, but it seems largely a duplication of the above … the ‘whitewashing’ claim is kind of interesting, as it is the sort of thing that I have long suspected is the purpose of many online auctions of antiquities (especially those strangely private ones which used to be regular features on eBay … not sure if they are still allowed) … we’ll see what happens in this one.

Latest Lysistratidai

Belgian politico-spouses are being urged to give their hubbies the Lysistrata treatment:

… we started keeping track of these things a couple of years ago … fwiw, I could have sworn I saw a sign suggesting a similar thing in the tv coverage of the recent Egyptian or Tunisian uprisings, but I can’t find any mention of it …

Gladiator Epics — Classics Departments’ Dirty Little Secret

Lengthy piece in the Miami Herald on the ongoing popularity of Gladiator/Roman movies … along the way, they interview some Classicists:

From the biblical epics of the ’50s to the toga dramas of the ’60s through more recent hits such as “300,” “Gladiator,” “Braveheart” and TV series such as “Hercules,” “Xena: Warrior Princess,” “Rome” and I, Claudius,” it seems there is always an audience out there that is as equally entranced by the ancient world as the modern – even if the genre is often dismissed as sword-and-sandal or toga trash.


No one knows that better than those who teach the classics for a living. They understand why some view movies/TV shows about the eras with which they are fascinated with a jaundiced eye.

“That’s a legacy of the ’50s, those great Roman biblical epics that were so serious. … but there were fake beards and visible smallpox vaccinations,” says Matthew Brosamer, an associate professor of English at Los Angeles’ Mount St. Mary’s College, who specializes in the literature of Roman, Middle Ages and Renaissance eras. “Literate moviegoers didn’t respect them.”

Richard Armstrong, associate professor of classical studies at the University of Houston who has taught a course on how Rome is perceived in cinema called “Epic Masculinity,” says in an e-mail response that the accents also get in the way. “Part of it is that we have these odd conventions that the Romans had British accents, while all the Christians sound like they’re from Kansas.”

(Actually, in “The Eagle,” Scottish director Kevin Macdonald flipped the script and wanted American actors to portray Romans and British actors to play their slaves and occupied peoples. “He wanted to make a bit of a political statement,” Tatum says.)

Of course, there’s the undercurrent of homo-eroticism which was most famously lampooned in “Airplane!” with the line from the late Peter Graves: “Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?”

Not to mention sex in general which, in Hollywood’s eyes, Romans seemed to be having all the time with anyone, anywhere.

Armstrong thinks that Starz’ “Spartacus” series is aping the worst aspects of “Caligula,” the 1979 Roman Empire-era film produced by Penthouse magazine’s Bob Guccione that was derided at the time for being pornographic.

“‘Spartacus’ aspires to that level of transgression,” says Armstrong. “I think the constant juxtaposition of sex and utter brutality oversimplifies whatever it wants to say about the ancient world, and reflects more the worlds of cage fighting and the Playboy Channel than Rome, or Capua where it’s actually set. … Pretty boring unless you’ve never seen naked people before.”

That sense that the ancient world strutted to a different moral drummer is why some think that so many are intrigued by that time period. We can live vicariously through these characters and accept behavior from heroes and villains that we would be repulsed by if set in the contemporary world.

“Why can we be titillated by sexual situations involving Roman slaves but would perhaps object to modern pornography about sex slaves? Putting those actions among those ‘decadent Romans’ lets us turn our fantasies to 11 while displacing all, or almost all, the guilt,” sums up Ricardo Apostol, assistant professor of classics at Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University in an e-mail. He teaches a course called “Sword and Sandal: The Classics in Film.”

“Some people can consume it that way, as straight ‘awesome.’ Others, needing a little more distance, ironize it into a guilty pleasure or camp,” he continues. “But it all comes down to the same thing, and our projections onto the Romans say a whole lot more about us than they ever could about them.”

Yet, for all of that, they feel there is also an upside to all this Hollywood revisionism. “The best of the genre, as in the case of HBO’s ‘Rome,’ can help give a sense of the texture of ancient life – not so much the ‘facts,’” says Armstrong.

Sums up Apostol, “Spectacles like these not only get students in the door, they offer ready starting points for discussions. … And, for students, it’s much more exciting and rewarding to hear that, no, Spartacus was not fighting against the institution of slavery, than it ever could be to hear random facts about a bunch of dead people that they never heard about. … I can only say to Hollywood: Keep ‘em coming.”

I’ve always found it strange that the powers-that-be in those universities who decide to shut down Classics departments don’t realize the butts-in-seats side of things … it’s not like there is ever a long period without this sort of movie …

Pamphilus and Servilia, Reunited!

From the University of Reading comes a nice Valentine’s Day tie in:

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching romance is in the air and this year the University of Reading has played the ultimate role of Cupid.

Dr Peter Kruschwitz and Virginia Campbell from the University’s Department of Classics have used their expertise to reunite a married couple…after 2,000 years apart!

Sometimes little things result in couples going their separate ways, but sometimes it takes greater forces, like the AD 79 eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Lucius Caltilius Pamphilus and his wife, Servilia, who lived in the ancient city of Pompeii, was such a couple. The funerary inscription Lucius commissioned for his beloved wife was broken apart, the pieces scattered and buried by the destruction caused by the volcanic eruption.

Excavation of the pieces begun as early as 1813 and scholars originally recorded them as separate fragments. Virginia, whose current PhD thesis is on Pompeian tombs, and Peter, an expert in Latin inscriptions, were examining material for Pompeii when they made the exciting discovery that the pieces are actually from the same inscription. Reconstructed with skill and loving care it now reads:

‘Lucius Caltilius Pamphilus, freedman of Lucius, member of the Collinian tribe, for his wife Servilia, in a loving spirit.’

Peter Kruschwitz said: “Amazingly the inscription was fragmented in such a way that all that was missing from the first part was the name of the wife. So identifying these as parts of the same inscription literally reunited the couple.

“Dealing with fragmentary Latin inscriptions is often like playing with a giant jigsaw puzzle. You have ten pieces of what used to be a 2,000 piece game. If you manage to discover adjacent pieces and then a beautiful little vignette emerges, this is among the most fulfilling moments for anyone dealing with ancient inscriptions. This case, of course, is even more beautiful than others, because it literally reunites two human beings who once were a loving couple almost 2,000 years ago.”

Lucius and Servilia are now happily side by side in the National Archaeological Museum of Naples

The Reading team’s findings have been published in the most recent volume of the journal Tyche: http://www.verlag.holzhausen.at/?pid=14&lang=1&book_id=203#203

The original article has links to the Museum of Naples and (obviously) Tyche, but they aren’t directly linked to anything pertaining to this, alas …

Them’s Fightin’ Words!

So Daniel Mendelsohn wrote a scathing review of the tv series Mad Men and someone didn’t like it … an excerpt from an account at the New York Times (which has all the relevant links, of course):

Mr. Peck is perhaps better known for not liking things than liking them (see, e.g., his collection of literary essays and criticism “Hatchet Jobs”). Naturally, his response to “The Mad Men Account” begins with a delicious bit of ad hominem, in which he calls Mr. Mendelsohn “a Princeton-educated classicist who should never be allowed to write about anything more recent than, say, Suetonius.”

… actually, I think we need more Classicists writing reviews of things like Mad Men and fewer people telling us what we can’t do, because we are Classicists.

Cleopatra’s Mummified Hand! (doubt it, but still interesting)

Catching up on a pile of backlogged email, I was gobsmacked to read this excerpt from an upcoming auction announcement … from Auction Central News (inter alia):

The most extraordinary of all items in the sale is the actual mummified hand of Cleopatra, to be auctioned with documentation. The preserved, mummified left hand has an unbroken history of ownership since its acquisition in Egypt by the English General Bowser, in 1794. It was presented to the general as the “hand of Cleopatra, daughter of Ptolemy Auletes.” It measures 7 7/8 inches and is in excellent condition (20.3 cm). The hand is in great condition with slender fingers and well preserved nails.

Accompanying the hand is the original 1894 article about its rediscovery by Mr. Jordan in a lady’s collection, containing the facts per Rev. John Wharton. The hand is retained in the original mahogany case constructed by Mr. Jordan, with original label and photo. Also included is a piece of Mrs. L. Jordan’s stationery with notation about her husband’s prior ownership of the hand, an insurance form for £500 dated 1/4/59, and two letters regarding the sale of the hand for L. Taylor at Sotheby’s, both on their stationery, one dated Aug. 28, 1958 and the other Dec. 31, 1958. Also included is a late 19th-century pamphlet about Cleopatra’s Needle, the Egyptian obelisk that stands on the Victoria Embankment in London.

Following is an excerpt from the paperwork that outlines the history of the hand:

“The mummified hand was presented to the English General Bowser, who defeated Tippoo Sahib in 1783-1794, in 1794 when he was visiting Egypt on his way back to England. Since this was not the usual route from India to England he must have been there for some exploration and acquisition. A letter in an 1894 English newspaper [recounts] the rest of the history of the hand as told by Rev. John Wharton: ‘The account which I have always heard is this: as the General was residing in the country various excavations of mummy pits were being made, and one magnificent but ponderous sarcophagus was brought to light. The inscription was not, I should think. hieroglyphic at so late a date, indicated the mummy as that of the celebrated Cleopatra. One of the hands was immediately presented to the valiant English general, and this is that identical hand.’”

  • Ancient Resource’s Feb. 19 sale features Amlash rhyton, Cleopatra’s hand.
  • Now one reason for my gobsmackedness — and no, I don’t believe for a moment that this is actually Cleo’s mummified hand — was that it was just back in October that the BBC mentioned (and I failed to blog about):

    Staff at a Newcastle auction house have been a little nervous of late, refusing to do anything that means being in the building on their own.

    The reason is a 2000-year-old mummified hand which they’ll be auctioning in December.

    It comes in its own glass-covered, mahogany box but is far from the prettiest thing the company have sold.

    It’s claimed it’s the hand of Queen Cleopatra – though the auctioneers can’t yet guarantee which one.

    Andrew McCoull, from Anderson and Garland, says: “The hand itself is what can only be described as a yellowy, leathery colour.

    “It’s a lady’s hand, a left hand, with manicured fingernails which are still there and evidence of what was possibly a ring on one of her fingers – there’s a sort of a dark patch – but, all in all, it’s a pretty gruesome looking object.”

    The real queen?

    The hand – remarkably well preserved – reputedly belonged to the famous Queen Cleopatra but Mr McCoull needs further evidence to support that claim.

    The ancient Egyptians seem to have had a habit of giving any old mummified hand to visiting dignitaries.

    He says: “It’s got an interesting history. It surfaced in Kirkby Stephen in 1894 and it is documented all the way back to its presentation to General Bowser in Egypt in 1794.

    “It was then believed to be presented as Queen Cleopatra’s hand, although there were several Queen Cleopatras.

    “We don’t really know at this stage if this is the famous one.”

    Rare sale
    Card from box containing mummified hand
    The hand seems to have provenance – but which Cleopatra is it?

    No-one could pretend the hand is pleasant to look at though it obviously has potential historical interest.

    The auction house hope to do more research before the sale, possibly contacting The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo to see whether this could be ‘the’ Cleopatra’s hand.

    They have no idea who might want to buy it. Mr McCoull admits: “It is pretty gruesome. But, bearing in mind it is over 2000 years old, it’s got a good right to be looking pretty gruesome I think.”

    The sale is on Wednesday, 8 December and, between now and then, Anderson and Garland have to decide what the guide price should be.

    Normally it’s based on what similar objects have sold for in the past but Mr McCoull says that doesn’t help in this case: “I’m not aware of any mummified hand of any description coming up for sale, certainly in my memory, and that goes back quite a long way, unfortunately.

    “So I think we’d be having a stab at probably somewhere in the region of a £1000.”

    The official description from the online auction site fills in the ‘hole’:

    In 1958 the widow of Mr. Jordan, a Mrs. L. Jordan, an antiques dealer herself, sold the hand to one L. Taylor of Tynemouth, Northumberland. This L. Taylor Esq. had the hand insured and began corresponding with Sotheby in late 1958 and early 1959 about placing the mummified hand into one of their auctions, which they showed interest in doing.

    The hand however remained in the Taylor family until its sale in late 2010.

    A most interesting item with an unbroken history of ownership since its acquisition in 1794!

    It is definitely an interesting item … I wouldn’t doubt that it belonged to someone named Cleopatra, actually, but I highly doubt it would be Cleopatra VII … the 18th century tombaroli must have made great profits from their European invaders …

    d.m. J.V. Luce

    From the Irish Times:

    Former Trinity vice-provost and emeritus professor John Victor Luce died yesterday following a short illness at the age of 90.

    Better known as JV Luce, he was a senior fellow of Trinity and was the 62nd vice-provost of the university from 1987 to 1989, a position which his father, Arthur Aston Luce also held between 1946 and 1952. He also acted as the public orator at Trinity for a number of years.

    Mr Luce was the author of numerous books, including those on Homer and the Trojan War, a subject which he specialised in. He also wrote a book entitled Trinity College Dublin, The First 400 Years , published in 1992.As a young man he was an avid sportsman and played hockey for Ireland in the 1940s and was captain of the Trinity squash and hockey teams, as well as playing cricket.

    ClassiCarnival 02-06-11

    Some gleanings from my blogroll (and elsewhere) from the past week or so which you might have missed (some are a bit older, having scrolled to the next page of my inbox the last time I was compiling) … in no particular order:

    In Explorator 13.42

    I sent this one out early out of fear of internet outtages this a.m. … didn’t materialize, of course. Some items of interest from my weekly newsletter; some have already appeared at rogueclassicism and some will hopefully appear later. I’m including a section I put together on the goings-on in Egypt just in case you’re interested:

    … I figure this deserves a section of its own at this
    particular time; we’ll see if it’s needed next week:

    First, a few blogs which are keeping on top of things (almost on an hourly

    http://www.kv64.info/ (might have to scroll a bit through this one)
    http://paul-barford.blogspot.com/ (ditto)

    … and a Facebook page (Restore + Save the Egyptian Museum!):


    … and a looting database:


    Mary Beard’s son sent out some dispatches about the general atmosphere:



    No doubt folks are familiar with the early reports of damage to things
    associated with Tut, e.g.:







    Zahi Hawass (now Minister of Antiquities) has given the impression that
    everything is ‘just fine’:



    … but he’s giving mixed messages in the press:



    … but clearly there were things happening at Saqqarah (and environs):




    … and at the tombs of Neferefre and Sahure (not sure if this is lumped in
    with the Saqqarah items):


    … and Qantara Museum:


    … and there was possibly another attempt at the Cairo Museum (I’m not sure
    of the chronology of this


    … and elsewhere:


    … and Cleopatra-seeker Kathleen Martinez was suggesting otherwise too:


    … and we’re reading reports of several museums being looted:


    … and some sort of ‘international alert’ was sent out to watch for looted




    … and UNESCO waded in:


    … so despite the assurances, other scholars seem to be adopting a ‘wait
    and see’ attitude (these are all different; many
    of the scholars have ‘connections’ to digs going on, of course):


    (Laurel Bostock)
    (Bob Brier)
    http://www.telegram.com/article/20110203/NEWS/102030853/-1/NEWS04 (Donny
    George; Alexandra Cleworth)

    Still, we’re getting some followup pieces that are giving some hope:


    And in case you were wondering about the beheaded mummies mentioned last


    Oddly, we didn’t get many stories of evacuations of archaeological types
    (that I saw, anyway):


    Folks were protecting the Bibliotheca Alexandrina:


    We’re also getting the first of the oped pieces suggesting ‘repatriation’
    ideas from various
    countries might not be the best idea after all:

    Apparently we’re faster than Neanderthals:



    … although there’s still a bit of Neanderthal in all of us:


    Pondering the Denisovans:


    More on an earlier departure from Africa:


    A Byzantine church find might also be the site of the tomb of Zechariah:








    … while the discovery (it is claimed) of the Laodicea Church isn’t getting
    quite as much


    Restoration work continues on the Acropolis:


    Philip Freeman on what Alexander the Great would do with Egypt right about


    TellmeOmuse is an interesting project:


    On the possible Syrian origins of the myth of Orion:


    J. Rufus Fears talks about democracy:


    More on that Roman road found in Puddletown Forest:



    On the utility of Latin:


    Feature on Mt Hymettus:


    Didn’t we have this medicine-from-a-shipwreck story a few months ago?:



    Not sure if this feature on one of the ‘curves’ in the Circus Maximus will
    make it into English or not:


    What Frederick Danker is up to:


    What Susan Rotroff is up to:


    Stephen Margheim appears to be a rising star:


    … although they don’t seem to get that at UMaine:


    … while Howard has dropped its Classics major:


    The annual Roman numerals attempt at wit:


    … while Tom Payne puts a Greek/Roman spin on the Super Bowl:


    Nice followup story on the Tod-sponsoring-the-Colosseum thing:


    Review/interview/podcast with Peter Stothard, *Spartacus Road*:


    Review of Tom Payne’s translation of Ovid’s *Ars Amatoria*:


    Review of Matthew Dennison, *Livia, Empress of Rome*:


    More on efforts to restore the Olympias:


    Time Magazine has a feature on the ‘Top 25 Political Icons’:


    … while elsewhere we have a list of the 10 most powerful women in history:


    … and a list of five famous philosophers greatest hypocrises:


    On the history of encyclopedias:



    Second Temple coins and jugs found during a weapons search in Galilee:

    Not sure if I mentioned attempts by a Somerset museum to keep the Frome


    Latest eSylum newsletter:

    Everyone is going gaga at Google’s Art Project:


    Septimius Severus:



    Alexander the Great:


    A couple of Titians are on tour of the US:


    Useful Addresses
    Past issues of Explorator are available on the web via our
    Yahoo site:


    To subscribe to Explorator, send a blank email message to:


    CFP: ‘Alexander in Africa’

    Seen on the Classicists list (please direct any queries to the folks mentioned in the item and not to rogueclassicism):

    ‘Alexander in Africa’ (12th Unisa Classics Colloquium, Grahamstown, South
    Africa 28-30 June 2011)

    Proposals for papers are hereby solicited on topics related to the theme,
    which is seen as covering the following: Alexander’s sojourn on the African
    continent (founding of Alexandria, Siwah, interaction with local populace,
    politics, myth and religion, ‘last plans’, other related issues from the
    sources including the Romance); legacy of Alexander in Egypt and Roman
    Africa (Ptolemaic and otherwise); ancient and modern receptions of
    Alexander relating to Africa (Arabic histories; colonial aemulatores; South
    African and other African literature e.g. Mary Renault, etc.).

    Please submit abstracts of appr. 200 words to bosmapr AT unisa.ac.za by 14
    March 2011. Scholars working on archaeological, epigraphical, religious,
    philosophical, and interdisciplinary material are encouraged to submit

    The Unisa Classics Colloquium this year forms a running parallel session at
    the Biennial Conference of the Classical Association of South Africa
    (CASA), hosted by the Classics Department at Rhodes University,
    Grahamstown. The conference website can be accesses at
    http://atashost.co.za/CASA/. Papers at the conference are limited to 20
    minutes in 30 minute sessions.

    Please note that registration will be dealt with by the CASA Conference
    organisers, but proposals for the Alexander panel should be send to the
    address given above. Being part of a larger conference unfortunately limits
    the number of papers we will be able to accept. The following Alexander
    specialists are currently signed up for the conference: John Atkinson (Cape
    Town); Timothy Howe (St Olaf), Corinne Jouanno (Caen); Daniel Ogden
    (Exeter), Frances Pownall (Alberta), Richard Stoneman (Exeter), Adrian
    Tronson (New Brunswick), Pat Wheatley (Otago).

    The Unisa Classics Colloquium is organised annually by the Department of
    Classics and World Languages at the University of South Africa.

    CONF: Feminism and Classics VI: Crossing Borders, Crossing Lines

    Seen in the Canadian Classical Bulletin (please direct any queries to the folks mentioned in the item and not to rogueclassicism):

    Feminism and Classics VI: Crossing Borders, Crossing Lines
    Brock University,
    St Catharines, Ontario, Canada
    May 24-27, 2012

    Ancient Mediterranean society was crisscrossed by multiple boundaries and borders. Firm boundaries between male and female, slave and free, gods and mortals (to name just a few) defined social identities and relationships, even as these lines were regularly crossed in religious ritual, social practices and artistic imagination. In current scholarship, Feminism is now Feminisms, encouraging multiple, and even transgressive, approaches to the study of women, gender, and sexuality in the ancient world. But has Feminism itself become a boundary, dividing fields of study or generations of scholars? Or is it a threshold, encouraging crossings between literary, historical and archaeological evidence? What new approaches are scholars using to push the boundaries of the evidence and the limits of our knowledge of the ancient world?

    This conference will focus on boundaries, liminality, and transgression. What kinds of crossings did ancient people experience and what control did they have over such crossings? How did borders and border crossings differ in relation to gender, ethnicity, age, or legal status? If the masculine and feminine were clearly demarcated categories of being, how do we interpret homosexual, transvestite and gender-labile aspects of the ancient world? What points of contrast and connection exist between different types of gendered space (literal or metaphorical) and do they change when geographic or national boundaries are crossed?

    We invite submissions for abstracts of papers and workshops that explore these and related themes, and encourage proposals from a variety of methodological and theoretical perspectives. Abstracts of 300 words can be submitted electronically (starting January 31, 2011) to the conference website:

    Deadline for receipt of abstracts is June 30, 2011.

    For inquiries, please contact FCVI AT brocku.ca.

    The Department of Classics at Brock University is pleased to host Feminism and Classics VI. Brock University is the only Canadian University to be located in a UNESCO International Biosphere Reserve. It is within an hour’s drive of Toronto, Ontario and Buffalo, NY, and thus easily accessible and close to major attractions, shopping and airports. The Niagara region is framed by Lake Ontario, Lake Erie and the Niagara River, and is in the heart of Ontario’s vineyard country, and visitors can enjoy the culinary and wine trail. More information about Brock University and its location can be found at http://www.brocku.ca/about/why .