I’ve been sitting on a pile of items on the state of antiquities in Libya of late, but this item from the Daily Mail which just came in easilty eclipses them all, despite the source:
A gang of Libyan looters have raided a priceless collection of gold and silver coins that are believed to date back to the time of Alexander the Great.
The thieves carried off with the pieces, known as The Treasure of Benghazi, having drilled through a concrete ceiling at the National Commercial Bank of Benghazi.
An expert has described the raid as ‘one of the greatest thefts in archeological history.’
Whilst the break-in was initially believed to have been part of the uprising against Muammar Gadaffi, Hafed Walada, a Libyan archeologist working at King’s College London told The Sunday Times; ‘It may have been an inside job.
‘It appears to have been carried out by people who knew what they were looking for.’
Alongside the coins, several artefacts, including monuments and figurines of bronze, glass and ivory, as well as jewellery, bracelets and medallions, are also believed to have been seized by the thieves.
Early leads had initially pointed to neighbouring Egypt, where a farmer had attempted to smuggle 503 gold coins and a golden statue through the port city of Alexandria, however attempts to locate him have thus far failed.
Most of the Benghazi treasures had been on Libyan soil following a mass recovery of the collection between 1917 and 1922 from the temple of Artemis, in Cyrene – an ancient Roman city, now Libyan territory and otherwise known as Shahat.
During the Second World War, much of the treasure was on display at the Museum of Italian Africa in Rome, but eventually returned to Libyan soil in 1961 and was kept at the bank.
Italian archeologist, Serenella Ensoli, from the Second University of Naples insisted the treasure was priceless given its historical value.
‘The collection is not well studied and is a huge loss for Libyan heritage.’
- via: ‘One of the greatest thefts in archeological history’: Huge haul of ancient Libyan gold is stolen from underground vault in Benghazi (Daily Mail)
… doesn’t bode well at all, obviously …
Kind of quiet these past few days:
- Round-Up: October 29 October 29, 2011 (Laura Gibbs)
- Getty Museum Announces Antiquity in the Twentieth Century. Modern Art and the Classical Vision Symposium October 28, 2011
- Freaky Friday: King of the World: Pompey the Great vs James Cameron October 28, 2011
- Battle at the Milvian Bridge October 28, 2011 (N.S. Gill)
- Ancient Inscriptions of the Northern Black Sea October 28, 2011 Charles Jones
- Web Conference: Ancient Civilization: Political Institutions and Legal Regulation October 28, 2011 Charles Jones
- Latin Gender October 28, 2011 admin
- More Greek manuscripts online at the British Library October 28, 2011 Roger Pearse
- 2011.10.58: The Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum: Archaeology, Reception, and Digital Reconstruction. Sozomena: studies in the recovery of ancient texts: edited on behalf of the Herculaneum Society, 1
- 2011.10.57: Le syntagme nominal en Latin: nouvelles contributions. Actes de l’atelier du centre Alfred Ernout. Université de Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV), 11 octobre 2008. Kubaba. Série grammaire et linguistique
- 2011.10.56: A Most Dangerous Book: Tacitus’s Germania from the Roman Empire to the Third Reich
- 2011.10.55: Spectacle in the Roman World. Classical World series
- 2011.10.54: The “Orphic” Gold Tablets and Greek Religion: Further Along the Path
- 2011.10.53: La céramique protobyzantine de Delphes: une production et son contexte. Fouilles de Delphes, V, 4
- 2011.10.52: Lilio Gregorio Giraldi: Modern Poets. I Tatti Renaissance Library 48
- 2011.10.51: Onomatologos: Studies in Greek Personal Names Presented to Elaine Matthews
- 2011.10.50: Il calamo della memoria. Riuso di testi e mestiere letterario nella tarda antichità. IV (Raccolta delle relazioni discusse nel IV incontro internazionale di Trieste, Biblioteca Statale, 28-30 aprile 2010). Polymnia, 13
- 2011.10.49: The Cave of the Cyclops: Mesolithic and Neolithic Networks in the Northern Aegean, Greece. Vol. II: Bone Tool Industries, Dietary Resources and the Paleoenvironment, and Archeometrical Studies. Prehistory monographs, 31
- 2011.10.48: I Sofisti. Pensatori, 18
- 2011.10.47: Geoponika: Farm Work. A Modern Translation of the Roman and Byzantine Farming Handbook
- 2011.10.46: Children in the Roman Empire: Outsiders Within
- 2011.10.45: Wille und Handlung in der Philosophie der Kaiserzeit und Spätantike. Beiträge zur Altertumskunde, Bd 287
- 2011.10.44: Filostrato Maggiore. La Pinacoteca. Aesthetica, 71
- 2011.10.43: Jewish Exegesis and Homeric Scholarship in Alexandria
- 2011.10.42: The Consul at Rome: the Civil Functions of the Consuls in the Roman Republic
- 2011.10.41: Soldiering for God: Christianity and the Roman Army. History of Warfare 61
- 2011.10.40: Body, Disease and Treatment in a Changing World: Latin Texts and Contexts in Ancient and Medieval Medicine
- 2011.10.39: Aristophanes’ Comedy of Names: a Study of Speaking Names in Aristophanes. Sozomena: Studies in the Recovery of Ancient Texts 8
From the popular press (via our #classicalbook Twitter hashtag):
- #classicalbook ~ The dark days of the Roman Empire [I think we posted this a couple weeks ago?] October 29, 2011 [Loeb Classical Library]
- #classicalbook ~ Memorial by Alice Oswald: review October 28, 2011
- #classicalbook ~ The Siren’s call: A Roman recovered [Swerve] October 28, 2011
- #classicalbook ~ The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, and more – review October 28, 2011
- #classicalbook ~ She rivals Cleopatra in power and status [novel about Theodora] October 27, 2011
- #classicalbook ~ A different Cleopatra: The woman behind the drama, lies and enemies [Schiff] October 27, 2011
- #classicalbook ~ Books: Livia, Empress of Rome October 27, 2011
- #classicalbook ~ David Abulafia, The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean October 27, 2011
The Telegraph has an item which opens thusly:
The Chinese were baffled by what they described as a “guest star”, which appeared in the night sky in 185AD and lingered for 8 months.
Similarly, the Guardian piece on the same subject opens:
A puzzle that has baffled astronomers for centuries has been solved – almost 2,000 years after the first supernova was documented by the ancient Chinese.
- Massive supernova mystery solved (Guardian)
I’m not sure why the press is missing out on this one, but this same supernova of 185 A.D. appears to have been mentioned by a couple of sources closer to our hearts in relation to the time of Commodus. As Paul and Lesley Murdin mention in their Supernovae, Herodian and the Historia Augusta both seem to be referring to this event. First, the HA from the life of Commodus (16 via Lacus Curtius’ translation):
Before the war of the deserters the heavens were ablaze.
As Bill Thayer mentions in a note, the ‘war of the deserters’ happened in early 186. Herodian mentions a similar sort of omen about the same time (i.14 via Terullian.org):
Stars remained visible during the day; other stars, extending to an enormous length, seemed to be hanging in the middle of the sky.
… nothing in Dio, alas. Whatever the case, I’m often struck how celestial events recorded by Chinese astronomers seem to show up as portents in our various ancient historians. I’m sure someone has already done a thesis on this …