6th/5th Century Burials from Kozani

… and this item from Athens News causes a tip o’ the pileus to Diana Wright (dw on the same scrap of paper as the next item) … this adds a few details to previous coverage of the find (cf: Greek Farmers and Their Livestock):

Eleven tombs of people buried with domesticated animals dating back to the late 6th century and early 5th century BC have been discovered during archaeological excavations in Mavropigi, Kozani prefecture, in the Public Power Corporation (DEI) lignite mine.

The finds, unearthed over a period of one month, are considered to be of major importance as it is the first time that humans buried together with animals have been discovered in Greece on such a scale.

“The tombs of 11 humans and bones of 16 animals, namely horses, dogs, cows, a buffalo and a pig were found, while there are also partial remains of deer, ship and goats,” the director of the 30th ephorate of prehistoric and classical antiquities, Georgia Karamitrou, told the Athens-Macedonian Press Agency.

Karamitrou, who presented the finds on Thursday in Mavropigi, said that the uniqueness of the cemetery unearthed is the entombment of a large number of animals with the dead.

She said that similar isolated finds have been unearthed in several areas of the country, the most characteristic being the entombment of small children with dogs, dolphins and turtles on the Dodecanese islands and Samothraki.

Archaeological studies have been ongoing for years in the Mavropigi area, financed by DEI in the context of its “Actions for Society” programme that includes the conservation of cultural wealth in the areas it is active in.

… that seems sufficient, I suspect, to remove my initial speculation about anthrax vel simm …

Marble Statue from Epidaurus

From Athens News (I think I need to tip the ol’ pileus to Francesca Tronchin on this one …  I have an ‘FT’ on the scrap of paper I wrote it down on):

A marble statue of the mythical god Hermes, a copy of a 4th century BC statue, has been discovered during restoration works of the surrounds of ancient Epidaurus.

The life-size statue depicts the torso of a standing nude man with a cloak on his left shoulder and draped over his arm.

According to archaeologists the marble statue, which is in excellent condition, is believed to have been sculpted in the Roman era, possibly in the 2nd century AD, during Emperor Hadrian’s visit to Epidaurus.

Archaeologists are not yet definite whether the head of the statue depicts Hermes or is the reproduction of a noted official of the era.

The place where the statue was found is within the area of the ancient theatre is also believed to have also contained the ancient city’s agora (forum).

The artifact was moved to the Epidaurus Museum for restoration.

The restoration works in the area are being conducted by the Culture Ministry’s Epidaurus Monuments Restoration Committee.

The original article has a cut off photo of the find … not much there to help in regards to identification.

Roman Remains from Dianium

Brief item from the Costa News:

EXCAVATIONS on Dénia’s central Avenida Miguel Hernández have unearthed remains of huge harbour buildings and warehouses thought to date back to the first century AD.

Archaeologists are studying an area of around 3,200 square metres along the length of the street in the hope of uncovering more hidden treasures giving further clues about Dénia’s Roman past.

Their work has also revealed 10 tombs which they estimate were last used in the second or third century AD and which form part of the necropolis of the old city of Dianium, as Dénia was known around 2,000 years ago.

Other findings include a marble gravestone with an epitaph engraved on it, and the foundations of four Roman houses containing valuable artefacts such as coins and shards of pottery.

Huge Mosaic Found in Turkey

No … not a Canadian Thanksgiving story … here are the deets from Hurriyet:

Drilling work at a construction site in Hatay has unearthed ancient works including an 850-square-meter mosaic. Said to be Turkey’s largest, the mosaic will be exhibited in a new hotel at the site along with other discoveries.

Archaeological treasures, including a large mosaic, have been found during drilling at a construction site for a new hotel in the southern province of Hatay. The mosaic found during the drilling is 850 square meters and estimated to be the largest mosaic discovered in Turkey. As a result of the discovered artifacts the construction project will now only employ man power and the hotel will display the precious works when it opens.

Antakya Municipal Mayor Lütfü Savaş, deputy manager Faik Selçuk Kızılkaya and Hatay Museum manager Nalan Yastı evaluated the latest discoveries at the hotel construction site on the Hatay-Reyhanlı road. The construction project belongs to businessman Necmi Asfuroğlu.

Thanks to the artifacts discovered the city will have another museum, Mayor Savaş said, adding that the construction works are still continuing. The hotel will also contribute to employment in the city in Hatay. The hotel will consist of two parts. There will be a museum in the basement. This will contribute to the cultural heritage of the city, according to Savaş.

“The excavations and discovery of ancient artifacts under the soil are very important, exhibiting them in the museum is vital for the city’s cultural background,” he said, adding that Hatay will gain a new museum thanks to the drilling process. There are further attempts to building another hotel in Hatay, he said, adding that he is positive about those initiatives.

After the discovery amid the drilling, the Hatay Museum started a six-month rescue excavation project in July 2010, Hatay Museum manager Nalan Yastı said. The necessary documents about the excavation were sent to the Adana Culture and Environment Protection Association, she said, adding that the association agreed to exhibit the valuable artifacts in the hotel, which is currently under construction.

Construction continues

An ancient glass artisan workshop, walls from the Hellenistic era and the largest mosaic have been found.

The construction of the hotel is still continuing under the protection and controls of museum officials, said Yastı. The officials constantly control the drilling process and preserve the new artifacts unearthed, she added. The 850-square-meter mosaic is not damaged and in very good condition, she said, adding that it is the first time a mosaic like this has been unearthed in Turkey.

There was also a 3,000-square-meter marble floor discovered during the drilling process, she said, adding that the construction process never damaged the artifacts.

Businessman Necmi Asfuroğlu who owns the construction project said they did not want to damage the artifacts discovered during construction. There will be a 17,000-square-meter museum to exhibit those artifacts, he added. The hotel, on the other hand, will have 200 rooms.

“We avoid using any kind of construction machines in order not to damage ancient artifacts on the site,” he said, adding that they are working with man power.

“Our aim is to finish both museum and hotel in 2013 April,” he said. Currently, there are 90 people working on the hotel’s construction. The hotel and the museum were estimated to cost $60 million.

… haven’t been able to track down a photo of the mosaic. The original article has a sort of ‘construction site’ photo which is less than useful.

CFP: “Sacred Landscapes in the Peloponnese”

Seen on the Classicists list:


Sparti, 30 March – 1 April 2012

in collaboration with the 5th Ephorate of Byzantine Studies (EBA) under the auspices of the Municipality of Sparti.

First Circular – Call for Papers

The sacred in all its expressions – religious architecture, holy places,
sacred art, creed, myth and legend, etc. – has throughout history been located in and responded to the natural and cultural landscape. The aim of the 3rd CSPS International Conference is to bring together scholars to discuss sacred landscapes in the Peloponnese from prehistory to post- Byzantine times with a focus on the following themes:

1. Sacred landscapes, identity/ethnicity
2. The Sacred in the natural landscape and seascape
3. ‘Sacred’ economies and the ownership of land
4. Setting of the sacred in art, literature, folklore and mythology
5. Pollution and purity and their spatial configuration
6. Ritual performance in its setting
7. Pilgrimage and movement through the landscape

Papers should not exceed 20 minutes. The official languages of the
Conference will be Greek and English.

To register for the conference or to submit an abstract for consideration, please request a registration form by e-mail from csps AT nottingham.ac.uk or, alternatively, by post from Dr Chrysanthi Gallou, Centre for Spartan & Peloponnesian Studies, Department of Archaeology, School of Humanities, University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham NG7 2RD, United Kingdom, no later than November 30th, 2011. Incomplete or belated registration forms will not be considered by the Scientific Committee of the Conference.

JOB: Greek Lit @ UBC (tenure track)

Seen on Aegeanet:

The Department of Classical, Near Eastern and Religious Studies (CNERS)
at the University of British Columbia-Vancouver campus invites
applications for a tenure-track appointment, effective July 1, 2012, at
the rank of Assistant Professor. The primary research focus of the
position is in Greek literature, particularly poetry, but we also
welcome applications from candidates working on intersections between
Greek and Roman literature and culture. The person appointed will be
willing and able to teach Greek language and literature at every level
including graduate level; the ability to teach Latin too will be an

The successful applicant must hold a PhD (or expect to have successfully
defended prior to 1 July 2012) and must have demonstrated
accomplishments in scholarship along with enthusiasm for teaching in a
department with the unique combination of fields present in CNERS. The
successful candidate will be expected to maintain an active program of
research and teaching and to participate fully in graduate supervision,
departmental service, events and initiatives.

The programs, faculty research interests and general activities of CNERS
are found at www.cnrs.ubc.ca.

The position is subject to final budgetary approval. Salary will be
commensurate with qualifications and experience.

Applicants should submit a letter of application, an example of their
published research, a current CV containing full contact information,
and evidence of teaching effectiveness. They should arrange for three
confidential letters of reference to be sent to Dr Susanna Braund,
Acting Head, Department of Classical, Near Eastern and Religious
Studies, University of British Columbia, Buchanan C227, 1866 Main Mall,
Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z1, Canada, email susanna.braund AT ubc.ca by the deadline of November 15th 2011.

Application materials must be submitted by 15 November 2011, as noted

UBC hires on the basis of merit and is committed to employment equity.
All qualified persons are encouraged to apply. We especially welcome
applications from members of visible minority groups, women, Aboriginal
persons, persons with disabilities, persons of minority sexual
orientations and gender identities, and others with the skills and
knowledge to engage productively with diverse communities. Canadians and
permanent residents of Canada will be given priority.

Some Potential Amphora Use Revisionism

There has long been an assumption — seen in many, many textbooks — that the Greeks and Romans used amphorae mostly for shipping wine (and possibly garum). A new study suggests the contents were rather more diverse. Here’s the coverage from Science:

Ceramic jugs known as amphorae were the cardboard boxes of ancient Greece. Produced in the millions, they contained goods that were shipped across the Mediterranean and beyond. But what was in them? In a new study that uses a DNA-based method inspired by crime-scene protocols, scientists say they’ve uncovered a cornucopia of cargoes, but other researchers are skeptical of the technique.

Shipwrecks and other sites have yielded plenty of intact amphorae. Maddeningly, nearly all are empty, devoid of obvious clues to what they once held. Researchers have scraped bits of ceramic from the vessel’s interior to look for leftover genetic material. In the new study, however, they also turned to a less destructive method straight from television’s CSI: swiping the amphorae with a swab. The idea came from the Massachusetts State Police, whom the investigators called for leads.

A team led by maritime archaeologist Brendan Foley of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution tested the new protocol on nine 5th to 3rd century B.C.E. amphorae that had been languishing in a government storage room in Athens for more than a decade. All had been hauled up in fishermen’s nets before being handed over to the Greek government in the 1990s.

To reveal what the vessels once held, the researchers collected DNA from the amphorae and mixed it with snippets of DNA from a selection of plants. When amphora DNA stuck to one of these genetic probes, the investigators knew they’d found a match. The scientists also sequenced amphora DNA, then searched a DNA database for the same sequences.

The results, published online last week by the Journal of Archaeological Science, suggest that swabbing works better than shaving the ceramic. And the data seem to show something less surprising as well: The ancient Greeks really liked olive oil. The team found that olive oil, olives, or some combination of the two were even more common in the amphorae than grape products such as wine. Many of the amphorae also had traces of DNA from oregano, thyme, or mint, which may have been used to flavor and preserve foods. Most common of all was DNA from the juniper bush, “not something you typically think of in the ancient Greek diet,” Foley says. “Maybe a whole lot of juniper berries were added to food and drink in the ancient world.”

Eight of the nine amphorae bore DNA from a complex mixture of foods, leading Foley to support the argument made by some scholars that amphorae were reused for maritime trade rather than being discarded after one voyage. He also argues that the findings show that rather than shipping single commodities, Greek merchants were trading in “value added” items, the ancient Greek version of the prepared-food aisle in the supermarket. The findings “open up a whole series of questions about the way the first economies, the first markets actually worked,” he says.

Although Foley’s team took careful steps to avoid contamination, one scientist is dubious that the technique worked as advertised. It is “remarkable” that the amphora “should release endogenous DNA by simply swabbing the surface,” Oliver Craig of the University of York in the United Kingdom said via e-mail. Craig, who specializes in recovering DNA and other molecules from ancient artifacts, would need to see more control tests to be convinced.

But if the technique is validated, it would be a valuable tool, say archaeologists not connected with the study. “If that [analysis] can be done on just any old jar lying around a store room for a long time, that’s great,” says Mark Lawall, an amphora specialist at the University of Manitoba in Canada. It could allow researchers to pin down the contents of amphorae found on a specific shipwreck, for instance, and then calculate the value of the ship’s cargo-offering deeper insight into ancient economies.

See also: Ancient Greek ships carried more than just wine (Nature)

The study itself is in the Journal of Archaeological Science with a rather high price (31.50!!):

Brendan P. Foley, Maria C. Hanssonb, Dimitris P. Kourkoumelis, Theotokis A. Theodoulou, Aspects of Ancient Greek trade re-evaluated with amphora DNA evidence

… and here’s the official abstract:

Ancient DNA trapped in the matrices of ceramic transport jars from Mediterranean shipwrecks can reveal the goods traded in the earliest markets. Scholars generally assume that the amphora cargoes of 5th-3rd century B.C. Greek shipwrecks contained wine, or to a much lesser extent olive oil. Remnant DNA inside empty amphoras allows us to test that assumption. We show that short ∼100 nucleotides of ancient DNA can be isolated and analyzed from inside the empty jars from either small amounts of physical scrapings or material captured with non-destructive swabs. Our study material is previously inaccessible Classical/Hellenistic Greek shipwreck amphoras archived at the Ministry of Culture and Tourism Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities in Athens, Greece. Collected DNA samples reveal various combinations of olive, grape, Lamiaceae herbs (mint, rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage), juniper, and terebinth/mastic (genus Pistacia). General DNA targeting analyses also reveal the presence of pine (Pinus), and DNA from Fabaceae (Legume family); Zingiberaceae (Ginger family); and Juglandaceae (Walnut family). Our results demonstrate that amphoras were much more than wine containers. DNA shows that these transport jars contained a wide range of goods, bringing into question long-standing assumptions about amphora use in ancient Greece. Ancient DNA investigations open new research avenues, and will allow accurate reconstruction of ancient diet, medicinal compounds, value-added products, goods brought to market, and food preservation methods.

Around the Classical Blogosphere:

Major Roman Gold Hoard from Bredon Hill

From the Sunday Mercury:

WHEN metal detectorist Terry Herbert discovered the Staffordshire Hoard, it was described as a once in a lifetime find.

But now a fellow treasure hunter may also have struck gold – after discovering a ‘huge haul’ of Roman coins near the historic Bredon Hill in Worcestershire.

Details of the find remained hush-hush last night and the identity of the lucky new metal detectorist has not been revealed.

But it is understood Worcestershire County Council and the county coroner have been informed because of the potential archaeological significance.

The Bredon treasure is already being compared with the Staffordshire Hoard, the country’s biggest ever find of Anglo Saxon gold.

It netted lucky Terry and local farmer Fred Johnson a whopping £1.6 million each after being unearthed in a muddy field at Hammerwich, near Brownhills.

One metal detectorist told the Sunday Mercury: ‘‘Very few people know about this find at Bredon Hill, even in the metal detecting community.

‘‘But the rumours are that this could be a really huge haul of Roman coins and there could be an official announcement about it soon.’’

Archaeology experts are excited by the prospect of a major new discovery at Bredon Hill, once the site of an Iron Age fort.

Nearby Worcester is a hotspot for Roman artefacts and evidence of settlements from the period has been discovered in villages scattered around the area.

Last night Dr Roger White, an expert in Roman archaeology from the University of Birmingham, described the possibility of a new find in Bredon as “exciting”.

“As well as potentially valuable pieces, these coins are historic documents, and they can tell a story on their own,” he said.


“Bredon Hill is not a major hub of Roman activity, but it does sit between the settled areas of two tribes, while Worcester has a Roman foundation, and was a major focus of iron production.

“Hoards like this potential one in Bredon are always intriguing and the whole buried treasure thing captures the imagination.

‘‘And from an historical point of view, it is exciting. This could give us enormous amounts of information.”

Dr White said there could be a wide variety of reasons why the coins were buried at Bredon Hill.

“Sometimes large burials of coins are evidence of a religious ritual, an offering to the gods,” he explained.

“In other cases, someone who was under threat could have buried them because they wanted to hide their wealth.

“Another regular occurrence was coins being recalled, so they could be melted down to produce more currency. When that happened, Romans would head into the garden, and bury their money to keep it safe for the future.

“It will be fascinating to find out what is there in terms of coins, but also why, and how, it came to be buried there.

“Every hoard is different, and the bigger the number of coins, the more we can find out about the history of the area.”

A spokeswoman for Worcestershire County Council refused to comment, but it is understood that the coin find has been reported to the coroner.

Metal detectorists have been hunting for the next big Midland find since the Staffordshire Hoard was uncovered in 2009.

The treasure, which included hundreds of bejewelled battlefield items, added up to 5kg of the purest gold and 2.5kg of silver.

The Telegraph coverage — which is virtually identical — includes a photo of some of the objects from the Staffordshire Hoard … a bit misleading, even with the caption. I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about this one in the next week. I’ll be adding links below …

Recent Nuntii Latini Graecique ~ 10/14/11

Nuntii Latini:

Akropolis World News: