Benghazi Treasure Looted from Libya!!!!

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.’

… doesn’t bode well at all, obviously …

Circumundique ~ 10/27-28/11

Kind of quiet these past few days:

Recent Book Reviews ~ 10/30/11

From BMCR:

From the popular press (via our #classicalbook Twitter hashtag):

Commodus’ Supernova?

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.

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 …