Third Century Roman Site from Nibal Peak?

From SANA comes an item which is tantalizing … not sure how Roman it is:

Excavations by the national archeological expedition in Nibal Peak site near the town of Jableh in Lattakia governorate uncovered a rectangular structure in the western area of the site.

Director of Jableh Archeology Department Ibrahim Younes Kheirbek said that the structure measures 26.5 meters from north to south and is 13.15 meters across, built with large stones and smaller, intricately-carved stones in the style of Roman temples.

He said that the structure consists of a front hallway with an entrance in the middle leading to a stairway in the center which leads to a platform in the northern section, adding that it probably dates back to the 3rd century AD.

The remains of a structure were also uncovered in the eastern area of the site, running 19 meters from north to south and 8.5 meters across, its walls consisting of large stones and ranging in thickness from 1 to 1.5 meters.

Excavations also uncovered the foundations of a structure built with large carved stones and measuring 7 by 5 meters. It was built lower than the other structures, its floor is covered by carved tiles, and it contained remains of columns, pottery fragments, Roman coins and a few Islamic-era coins.

Excavations around the perimeter of the site located the ruins of an ancient residential area around 1 kilometer east of the site, in addition to the ruins of a large structure likely to have been a Roman castle.

… a couple of not-overly-helpful photos accompany the original article.

Chair of Greek Revived at Glasgow

From the Scotsman:

WHEN the unassuming Professor Douglas MacDowell retired in 2001, the chair of Greek at Glasgow University he occupied fell victim to cost-cutting and was left unfilled.

Few at the university thought they would hear more about it. The professor seemed set for a modest retirement. He lived in a £100,000 flat in the city’s Byers Road and drove a hatchback valued at less than £1,300. His furniture and personal belongings were valued at just £2,767 when he died in 2010 aged 78. Now he has sprung a surprise, donating more than £2 million from a portfolio of stocks and shares to revive the chair of Greek.

Clearly he had not been investing any of his savings in Greek government bonds. Indeed, many at the university might feel this generous donation may be put to better use establishing a chair of portfolio risk management: the lecture theatre would be packed to capacity. It is easy to dismiss ancient Greek as a dead and irrelevant language in the modern world, less easy to cast aside the linguistic insights it provided and the discipline of thought it imposed. Now the professor has had the last laugh, teaching an invaluable lesson, not only to his former university but to a modern financial world that clearly lost its senses. Who dares say now modern Greek wisdom is superior to ancient?

Ryan Boehm Talks Greek Religion

From the Dartmouth:

Religion and cult worship played a central role in civic and political life in the ancient Greek city-state of Kolophon, Brown University classics professor Ryan Boehm said in a lecture Wednesday afternoon in Reed Hall.

Kolophon was a city in present-day Turkey located near the ancient city of Ephesus that flourished during the late fourth century B.C. It is an interesting case study of Hellenistic Greece, as its study sheds light on the role of worship in Greek city-states as well as the form and function of archives in the ancient world, according to Boehm.

Boehm said Kolophon’s most interesting structure is the sanctuary of the Mother of the Gods, which was built during a period of urban renewal in the late fourth century B.C. Using records from Hetty Goldman’s 1922 excavation of the site, Boehm said he is currently attempting to reconstruct a blueprint of Kolophon to understand the significance of the sanctuary of the Mother of the Gods and its alleged role as a public archive.

“Much of the material remains unstudied and unpublished,” he said.

Fragments of terra cotta and marble figurines of Kybele, the mother of the gods, suggest that the sanctuary was built in her honor. Kybele was seen as a “central symbol of Asiatic sovereignty,” he said.

The sanctuary was built to link the present with the past and to unite the community during a period of urbanism, Boehm said. As a result of this urbanism, worship began to take place in a civic context.

“Religion and politics were inseparably intertwined,” he said. “Part of what it meant to participate in politics was to participate in a common community of worship.”

Fragments of 11 known documents — including documents that dealt with city planning, urban projects, appointment of officials and citizenship — were found in the sanctuary and suggest that the building may have been used as a public archive at one point in time, he said.

This “central civic function” of the sanctuary confirms the intersection between politics and religion, he said.

“The public business of the city was symbolically placed in the guardianship of the mother of the gods,” he said.

In the third century B.C., after the Macedonian ruler Lysimachus destroyed Kolophon and the population resettled in Ephesus, the Kolophians retained a lingering attachment to the sanctuary.

This attachment complicated negotiations between kings and cities and posed a fundamental challenge to urbanism, Boehm said.

“The urban renewal process had a deep impact on religious life,” he said. “History, identity, community and memory are deeply rooted in the cultural and physical landscape,” he said.

The fact that the population returned to Kolophon to worship its gods after its “whole civic space moved” is extremely interesting, classics professor Roberta Stewart, who attended the lecture, said.

Teddy Henderson ’15 and Margo Manocherian ’15, prospective classics majors who also attended the lecture, said they were impressed with Boehm’s research techniques.

The Hellenistic period of Greek history is often looked at from an “imperial standpoint” but Boehm’s research focused “on the point of view of the citizens and the average Joe,” Henderson said.

“He examined this issue from a perspective I’ve never seen before,” Henderson said.

Manocherian said the lecture was an interesting look at the state of modern archeology.

“It’s almost historiography because it involves interpreting records of records and reading between the lines,” Manocherian said.

Reconstructing a site from work that was done around 90 years ago presents “a special kind of challenge,” classics professor Roger Ulrich said.

He said the Hellenistic period — which has traditionally been overlooked by historians and archeologists — is becoming increasingly important in the field of Greek archeology.

The lecture, titled “The Sanctuary of the Mother of the Gods at Kolophon,” was sponsored by the classics department.