Walls of Philippopolis Found

From the Sofia Echo:

Part of the ancient fortress wall of Philippopolis was discovered during excavations by EVN Heating in the centre of Plovdiv, Bulgarian National Television said on December 9 2011.

The find, however, will not be exhibited because the roadway has to be covered over again, the report said.

Workers who were installing a heating pipeline made the find and stopped work immediately so that archaeologists could carry out an examination of the section of the fortress wall, which is about 50m long and close to two metres wide.

The find gives a new insight to the topography of ancient Phiippopolis.

Archaeologist Zheni Tankova said that the fortress wall was built in the last quarter of the second century CE.

Archaeologists also found part of the remains of a large structure with a width of more than two metres. These may be the remains of a tower or an entrance to the building, but they cannot be studied fully because they are under buildings and a busy street.

The find has been filmed and recorded and will be covered over again in coming days with the completion of the work on the heating infrastructure.

Sounds Like Epic Bull to Me …

UMSL Daily has a review of a book called Her Art: Greek Women in the Arts from Antiquity to Modernity, edited by Diane Touliatos-Miles which initially sounded interesting, until I read this bit of the interview with the editrix:

Are you dropping a bombshell by writing that Homer was not the author of the “Iliad” and “Odyssey”?

You bet I am. Homer heard the women composer Phantasia of Memphis, Egypt, singing the stories of the “Illiad” and “Odyssey” when he visited there. He took these ideas back to Greece where he had his followers write them down because Homer was blind and could never write.

Of course there are many other bombshells, like Socrates. He had had been tutored by Diotima of Mantineia, a philosopher who taught Socrates the so-called “Socratic” dialogue. Or there’s Kassia, the woman who was too brilliant to become empress.

… outside of the interesting detail that she seems to be able to speak in misspelled words (a la Tumbleweeds), we have mentioned the ‘Homer was a woman’ theory before … Andrew Dalby wrote a book on it and it seemed to have legs for summer of 2006, and then disappeared: Homer a Woman? (start of summer) … Iliad Written By a Woman? (end of summer; Anthony Snodgrass seems to think the Odyssey being written by a woman might work). Folks might want to check out Dennis’ dialogue of sorts with Andrew Dalby back when that part of the story was alive: Dalby Strikes Back.

Outside of that, however, one should check out the Wikipedia entry for Phantasia (poetess), which cites Eustathius of Thessalonica (who cites “a certain Naucrates”)– a 12th century bishop — as the source of the story. Perhaps someone with more experience in the Homeric scholia etc. could point me to a reference for this? Outside of that, it seems pretty clear that she has a rather different view of how oral poetry works …

Turning to the claims about Diotima, of course, who figures prominently in Plato’s Symposium, calling her the source of the Socratic dialogue seems a bit of a stretch — we won’t even get into the long-standing debate over whether she is a real or fictitious character, or someone modelled on Pericles’ lady-friend Aspasia. All that really can be said is that Socrates in the Symposium used a (real or imagined) debate with her to illuminate ideas about Love.

I’m not familiar with Kassia, who seems to be from the 9th century …

Whatever the case, I’m hoping some Classicists who specialize in these areas will take the time to formally review the ‘antiquity’ claims made in this book …

Another Bust in Greece

… but this time, it isn’t Thessaloniki … From an AP report via the Miami Herald:

Greek police say they have arrested two men believed to have illegally unearthed a 2,600-year-old bronze helmet.

A police statement Friday said the 6th century B.C. ancient helmet was in fine condition.

The two Greek suspects were arrested on Thursday in the southern town of Pyrgos. Police say one of the men also had six antique silver coins in his house.

Under Greek law, all antiquities found in the country are state property. That doesn’t prevent a lucrative illicit trade in ancient artifacts discovered by farmers or organized gangs of grave robbers.

… I’ve always found it interesting that all these sorts of reports rarely seem to make it into the English editions of Greek newspapers …

Steampunk Meets Classics (Finally!)

The Guardian reviews a collection of short stories in the Steampunk genre and includes this tantalizing summary of one of them:

MT Anderson’s “The Oracle Engine”, multilayered with irony and full of sly jokes, takes us, via Plutarch, to ancient Rome. A vengeful Artificer builds a prototype computer (out of metal, probably brass) and rigs it to bring about the downfall and death of the plutocrat Marcus Licinius Crassus in 53BC. A team of cloistered youths works the Oracle; its creator believing that “an order of male virgins who never see the light of day would be ideal for the operation of a computing machine such as this”. And, of course, there are dirigible triremes. Steampunkum est!

Don’t know about you, but whenever I see photos of some of the big names from the early modern history of our discipline, I can’t help but think that Classics and Steampunk is a natural mix:

photo via utexas