The “Patio Tomb” … Evidence of Early Christianity? I Hae Me Doots (A Classics Perspective)

As long time readers of rogueclassicism — and even my Explorator newsletter — are no doubt aware, it is rather commonplace for Jesus-related claims to be made by folks of various qualifications as Easter approaches. In last year’s season, e.g., we were dealing with claims about lead codices (which seem to have disappeared off the radar) and Simcha Jacobovici’s claims regarding crucifixion nails which supposedly came from the tomb of Caiaphas (see, e.g.: Simcha’s Crucifixion Nail Silliness). The latter, of course, was media hype connected to a television documentary (The Nails of the Cross), which coincidentally I saw for the first time in the past couple of weeks, but it is interesting that the investigative techniques which were seen there for the first time (I believe) are the same sort of thing used in the present claim.  The new claim is about a set of burials a short distance away from the Talpiot Tomb, which, of course, Professor Jacobovici has previously hyped as the family tomb of Jesus, a claim which is so well-known by now that I really don’t have to say much more about it. The ‘new’ burials are in something which is also a ‘Talpiot Tomb’, but is being referred to as the “Patio Tomb” and the claim is that some of the folks buried within are our earliest examples of Christians, nay, this is the burial place of some actual disciples of Jesus. In passing we should note the tomb is assumed to be pre-destruction of Jerusalem (i.e. pre-70 A.D./C.E.). The claim is based on a purported ‘fish’ image and a puzzling inscription, and James Tabor has written a lengthy, illustrated piece at Bible and Interpretation defending the view (A Preliminary Report of a Robotic Camera: Exploration of a Sealed 1st Century Tomb in East Talpiot, Jerusalem … pdf) — it’s worth noting that Dr Tabor features prominently in much of Professor Jacobovici’s documentary work.

The press coverage has been extensive, but I think it will suffice to present here the UNC Charlotte press release which seems to have been the starting point for much of the coverage yesterday (Tabor’s article seems to have come out after many of the stories hit the airwaves):

The archaeological examination by robotic camera of an intact first century tomb in Jerusalem has revealed a set of limestone Jewish ossuaries or “bone boxes” that are engraved with a rare Greek inscription and a unique iconographic image that the scholars involved identify as distinctly Christian.

The four-line Greek inscription on one ossuary refers to God “raising up” someone and a carved image found on an adjacent ossuary shows what appears to be a large fish with a human stick figure in its mouth, interpreted by the excavation team to be an image evoking the biblical story of Jonah.

In the earliest gospel materials the “sign of Jonah,” as mentioned by Jesus, has been interpreted as a symbol of his resurrection. Jonah images in later “early” Christian art, such as images found in the Roman catacombs, are the most common motif found on tombs as a symbol of Christian resurrection hope. In contrast, the story of Jonah is not depicted in any first century Jewish art and iconographic images on ossuaries are extremely rare, given the prohibition within Judaism of making images of people or animals.

The tomb in question is dated prior to 70 CE, when ossuary use in Jerusalem ceased due to the Roman destruction of the city. Accordingly, if the markings are Christian as the scholars involved believe, the engravings represent – by several centuries – the earliest archaeological record of Christians ever found. The engravings were most likely made by some of Jesus’ earliest followers, within decades of his death. Together, the inscription and the Jonah image testify to early Christian faith in resurrection. The tomb record thus predates the writing of the gospels.

The findings will be detailed in a preliminary report by James D. Tabor, professor and chair of religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, to be published online in on February 28, 2012.

“If anyone had claimed to find either a statement about resurrection or a Jonah image in a Jewish tomb of this period I would have said impossible — until now,” Tabor said. “Our team was in a kind of ecstatic disbelief, but the evidence was clearly before our eyes, causing us to revise our prior assumptions.”

The publication of the academic article is concurrent with the publication of a book by Simon & Schuster entitled “The Jesus Discovery: The New Archaeological Find That Reveals the Birth of Christianity.” The book is co-authored by Professor James Tabor and filmmaker/professor Simcha Jacobovici. A documentary on the discovery will be aired by the Discovery Channel in spring 2012.

The findings and their interpretation are likely to be controversial, since most scholars are skeptical of any Christian archaeological remains from so early a period. Adding to the controversy is the tomb’s close proximity to a second tomb, discovered in 1980. This tomb, dubbed by some “The Jesus Family Tomb,” contained inscribed ossuaries that some scholars associate with Jesus and his family, including one that reads “Jesus, son of Joseph.”

“Context is everything in archaeology,” Tabor pointed out. “These two tombs, less than 200 feet apart, were part of an ancient estate, likely related to a rich family of the time. We chose to investigate this tomb because of its proximity to the so-called ‘Jesus tomb,’ not knowing if it would yield anything unusual.”

The tomb containing the new discoveries is a modest sized, carefully carved rock cut cave tomb typical of Jerusalem in the period from 20 BCE until 70 CE.

The tomb was exposed in 1981 by builders and is currently several meters under the basement level of a modern condominium building in East Talpiot, a neighborhood of Jerusalem less than two miles south of the Old City. Archaeologists entered the tomb at the time, were able to briefly examine it and its ossuaries, take preliminary photographs, and remove one pot and an ossuary, before they were forced to leave by Orthodox religious groups who oppose excavation of Jewish tombs.

The ossuary taken, that of a child, is now in the Israel State Collection. It is decorated but has no inscriptions. The archaeologists mention “two Greek names” but did not notice either the newly discovered Greek inscription or the Jonah image before they were forced to leave. The tomb was re-sealed and buried beneath the condominium complex on what is now Don Gruner Street in East Talpiot.

The adjacent “Jesus tomb,” was uncovered by the same construction company in 1980, just one year earlier. It was thoroughly excavated and its contents removed by the Israel Antiquities Authority. This tomb’s controversial ossuaries with their unusual cluster of names (that some have associated with Jesus and his family) are now part of the Israel State Collection and have been on display in various venues, including the Israel Museum. These ossuaries will be in an exhibit running from late February through April 15 at Discovery Times Square.

In 2009 and 2010, Tabor and Rami Arav, professor of archaeology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, working together with Jacobovici, obtained a license to excavate the current tomb from the Israel Antiquities Authority under the academic sponsorship of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Because of its physical location under a modern building (making direct access nearly impossible), along with the threat of Orthodox Jewish groups that would protest any such excavation, Tabor’s team determined to employ a minimally invasive procedure in examining the tomb.

Funding for the excavation was provided by the Discovery Channel/Vision Television/Associated Producers. Jacobovici’s team at the Toronto based Associated Producers developed a sophisticated robotic arm to carry high definition cameras, donated by General Electric. The robotic arm and a second “snake camera” were inserted through two drill holes in the basement floor of the building above the tomb. The probe was successful and the team was able to reach all the ossuaries and photograph them on all sides, thus revealing the new inscriptions.

Beyond the possible Christian connection, Tabor noted that the tomb’s assemblage of ossuaries stands out as clearly extraordinary in the context of other previously explored tombs in Jerusalem.

“Everything in this tomb seems unusual when contrasted with what one normally finds inscribed on ossuaries in Jewish tombs of this period,” Tabor said. “Of the seven ossuaries remaining in the tomb, four of them have unusual features.”

There are engravings on five of the seven ossuaries: an enigmatic symbol on ossuary 2 (possibly reading Yod Heh Vav Heh or “Yahweh” in stylized letters that can be read as Greek or Hebrew, though the team is uncertain); an inscription reading “MARA” in Greek letters (which Tabor translates as the feminine form of “lord” or “master” in Aramaic) on ossuary 3; an indecipherable word in Greek letters on ossuary 4 (possibly a name beginning with “JO…”); the remarkable four-line Greek inscription on ossuary 5; and finally, and most importantly, a series of images on ossuary 6, including the large image of a fish with a figure seeming to come out of its mouth.

Among the approximately 2000 ossuaries that have been recovered by the Israel Antiquities Authority, only 650 have any inscriptions on them, and none have inscriptions comparable to those on ossuaries 5 and 6.

Less than a dozen ossuaries from the period have epitaphs but, according to Tabor, these inscribed messages usually have to do with warnings not to disturb the bones of the dead. In contrast, the four-line Greek inscription contains some kind of statement of resurrection faith.

Tabor noted that the epitaph’s complete and final translation is uncertain. The first three lines are clear, but the last line, consisting of three Greek letters, is less sure, yielding several possible translations: “O Divine Jehovah, raise up, raise up,” or “The Divine Jehovah raises up to the Holy Place,” or “The Divine Jehovah raises up from [the dead].”

“This inscription has something to do with resurrection of the dead, either of the deceased in the ossuary, or perhaps, given the Jonah image nearby, an expression of faith in Jesus’ resurrection,” Tabor said.

The ossuary with the image that Tabor and his team understand to be representing Jonah also has other interesting engravings. These also may be connected to resurrection, Tabor notes. On one side is the tail of a fish disappearing off the edge of the box, as if it is diving into the water. There are small fish images around its border on the front facing, and on the other side is the image of a cross-like gate or entrance—which Tabor interprets as the notion of entering the “bars” of death, which are mentioned in the Jonah story in the Bible.

“This Jonah ossuary is most fascinating,” Tabor remarked. “It seems to represent a pictorial story with the fish diving under the water on one end, the bars or gates of death, the bones inside, and the image of the great fish spitting out a man representing, based on the words of Jesus, the ‘sign of Jonah’ – the ‘sign’ that he would escape the bonds of death.”

Here is a smattering of the press coverage as of this writing … the headlines will give an idea how this is being spun:

… and we should highlight one media outlet (MSNBC) which isn’t buying into the hype:

MSNBC is to be commended because — unlike the majority of the other media outlets, which took the claims at face value — they looked into what the Biblioblog community was saying about the claim. I urge readers to read the Biblioblogger commentary for themselves, which is conveniently presented in ’roundup’ form by Tom Verenna:

… also worth checking out are the entries at the ASOR blog in general for the past couple days (beginning February 28, 2012 if you’re coming to the party late).  Of the various items there, I encourage folks to also read Christopher Rollston’s entry (Reflections of an Epigrapher on Talpiyot Tombs A and B: A Detailed Response to the Claims of Professor James Tabor and Filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici) since it complements some of what I have to say below and vice versa (hopefully!). I’ll also be referring to some of the figures (etc.) in James Tabor’s article mentioned above … if it’s in the TL;DR range for you, at least check out pp 12-22 or so.

So with the Bibliobloggers’ excellent background, we now bring a (rogue)Classicist perspective to this. When I first became aware of this story, I scrambled to find relative photos — they were rather sparse, initially. But now practically all coverage has a photo of some sort, and most of them have this one (this is the version in the Daily Mail; some outlets credit this to Simon and Schuster) from one of the ossuaries:

We are told that what this depicts is a whale spewing out Jonah (portayed as a ‘stick figure’). In Tabor’s article, it is presented as figure 21 and he discusses this image on pp 20-22 of his article. It is rather interesting how important a role the story of Jonah played in early Christianity. Tabor also offers an image from the San Sebastiano Catacomb as comparanda (fig. 22). When I initially saw this photo, I immediately wondered about its orientation. As presented in all the newspapers, of course, it does look rather ‘fish-like’ (whale-like), but I was skeptical whether it really was oriented that way. The Classicist in me rotated it thusly, the first time:

… and I saw an image of a priestess; perhaps someone associated with the cult of Diana. Was there a cult of Diana at Jerusalem? Nah … didn’t seem right. So we rotated it again:

… and we saw a pot of some sort. Rollston (section B) sees a Nephesh Tower or perhaps a tomb facade. I’ll defer to his judgement on this bit of iconography, but will note that Tabor does claim it isn’t a Nephesh Tower (pp 23-24). He insists it’s a stick figure emerging from the mouth of a whale.

After all that, however, I am disturbed by a couple of things. When Tabor’s article did come out, it was clear that the orientation of the photo in the newspapers — which clearly leads one to see something fish-like — isn’t the orientation in the tomb. While the image is presented in this orientation in the article (fig. 21), another image shows that it is, in fact, presented in the above-mentioned ‘nephesh’ pose (fig. 20).  Further, the ‘nephesh’ pose photo in Tabor also indicates that the upper right ‘rim’ of the tower is cut off by something and there is no explanation for the difference in the photos (did I miss it?). I find such things suspicious.

Whatever the orientation, however, to see a whale vomiting out a figure is a major stretch. Even if you are a hack artist, does it seem likely that you will portray a whale doing something akin to spitting out chewing tobacco saliva (i.e. with the mouth closed, more or less) or will you open that whale’s mouth wide? I’ve never seen any image of Jonah being spewed out where the beast’s mouth isn’t a gaping maw.  I’ve also never seen an image of Jonah being vomited ‘downward’.  This simply doesn’t look like a whale, much less a whale expelling Jonah, to me. Removing the “Jonah connection” also seems to be a major blow to the supposed Christian identification of this particular ossuary.

Now we turn to something which I think is far more significant — an inscription on one of the ossuaries. But first a bit of background … there were a pair of ossuaries originally found together in one of the niches, but now moved from their original positions.  Tabor described their difficulties photographing the first one (p. 14):

4. Ossuary 4:2=Kloner 4:2 . This  ossuary is  in its original position. It is ornamented  but due to its distance
in the niche and its closeness to the wall we were not able to examine  its façade closely. Its far end  has a
name inscribed in Greek but unfortunately even our snake camera probe could not reach far enough
inside the niche to shoot back at that end and get a clear wide  shot of  the letters. All we have is the 1981
enhanced photo in which the Greek letters are faintly v isible but remain undeciphered . Our best
reading at this point is  that the name might be ΙΟΝΑΣ (Jonah)  ΙΟΝΕΣ (John) or maybe even  ΙΟΥΛΙΑ
(Julia), but these are uncertain possibilities. 

The rogueclassicist in me, of course, was very excited at the possibility that there was someone named Julia in this tomb, and found it interesting that her obiously-Latin name (if it is her name) was transliterated by Greek characters, which is not an uncommon phenomenon in this part of the world. Of course, I was also disappointed that I couldn’t look at a photo of this. That said, however, the other ossuary also had an inscription and — perhaps not coincidentally — it forms the other major part of the identification of this tomb as belonging to early Christians. Here’s a photo of the inscription which has appeared in many newspapers:

Tabor’s article has two other versions which really should be looked at side by side (I can’t seem to extract them from the pdf, so I will refer you to fig. 19). Here’s how he reads this (p. 14) … apologies for the formatting:

5. Ossuary 5:3=Kloner 5:2 . This ossuary is has a highly ornamented f ront f açade with twin rosettes and
an elaborate  frieze border. In  the narrow curved blank space between the rosettes there is a four line
Greek inscription written in uncial letters ( Fig.  1 9 ). The final two letters of line 4 are uncertain, both in
their formation and due to the limitations of remote autopsy by camera. Th e following variations
appear possible:
We are convinced that each line of  the inscription is a separate and discrete word, yielding the f ollowing
word divisions. I include here  the variables of  line 4:  
1.  ΔΙΟΣ
2.  ΙΑΙΟ
3.  ΥΨΩ
4.  ΑΓΒ   ΑΓΙΩ   ΑΠΟ or ΑΠΒ

Rollston (section C) raises numerous objections beginning with the first line. Rollston doesn’t think someone in this part of the world would use the equivalent of ‘deos’, but would prefer ‘theos’ or something like that. He also doesn’t see the second line (which is supposedly the tetragrammaton) beginning with an iota. He also doesn’t have the certainly of the reading ‘hypso’ — which supposedly refers to the resurrection — in line three that Tabor seems to have. For what it’s worth, I think Rollston’s criticisms are very valid, but he has, perhaps, missed  something which I find to be incredibly interesting, if it can be confirmed somehow.

I spent hours (literally) staring Sheldon-like at the photo of this inscription, and did much playing in Photoshop with contrast and the like to  try and get the most visible version. Here’s what I did most of my work from:

I was initially struck by the apparently huge space between the delta and the sigma. There also seemed to be some sort of ‘squiggle’ separating them which is somewhat more visible in Tabor’s fig. 19 photo. I could not see this squiggle forming an iota and omicron. What I did see was a mu … and suddenly things came together!!! This is an ossuary! Could it be that we might have a Latin style funerary inscription beginning with D(is) M(anibus) S(acrum) in Greek characters?

If such were the case, we’d expect the name of the deceased next, in the dative form. As Rollston notes, the second line doesn’t begin with an iota. From my black-and-white fiddling, I suggest it begins with a Gamma and the second line actually reads ΓΑΙΟ … i.e. Gaius (in a transliterated dative form)

Line three is a mess, but when one looks at all the photos together, it emerges that there isn’t a Psi in that line; the upper right ‘fork tine’ of the psi seems to be a scratch or photographic artifact. What is actually there (as I hope can be seen from my photo) is a Nu. What precedes the Nu, however, is a bit of a mess and seems to be a couple of letters run together. There also is a faint trace of a letter before the Omega which ends the line. I suggest what is written here is ΙΥΝΙΩ … i.e. Junius (also transliterated dative).

So as I see it, the inscription is a basic transliterated Latin-Greek commemorative inscription to one Gaius Iunius. But what about that mysterious last line? What I see is ΑΓΒ and one of Tabor’s photos seems to show this very nicely — arguably it’s the clearest line of all of them, but also the most puzzling. Tabor gives all sorts of possibilities, ranging from Greek, to backwards Aramaic, to Hebrew transliteration (he eventually settles on a Hebrew imperative which runs parallel to the hypso suggestion). Perhaps it has merit, but it seems to introduce a rather complicated linguistic scheme unnecessarily. If we are dealing with a simple transliterated Latin-style funerary inscription, we’d expect the inscription to end with some reference to the deceased’s age (annos vixit x). Might we suggest that ΑΓΒ is an abbreviation for A(nnos) 3  B(ixit)?  Or if that Gamma is actually a Pi, A(nnos) 80 B(ixit)?

In other words, from a (rogue)classicist perspective, this pre-destruction-of-the-temple-collection-of-ossuaries is interesting not because of some purported early Christian connection, which is tenuous at best and requires an awful lot of argument to make it sound convincing. Nay rather, this collection of ossuaries is interesting because one of the niches includes the remains (possibly) of an obviously-Roman-named Julia and (apparently) of a Gaius Junius, whose ossuary commemorates him Roman-style with Greek letters.

Marathon Ovid Reading

Tip o’ the pileus to Christopher Brunelle for sharing this item from the St Olaf College News:

In the final week of Interim, students in Classics 129, The Neverending Myth, worked until the wee hours of the morning studying 15 different translations of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. They were not cramming for a final exam, but instead participating in the “Metamorphomarathon,” a 15-hour marathon reading of the epic poem January 25.

After spending the day reading aloud in Buntrock Commons, the group finished the 15-hour Ovid reading just before midnight in Tomson Hall. Photo by Kyle Obermann ’14.

Visiting Assistant Professor of Classics Christopher Brunelle organized the event to share Ovid’s work — a classic that he says is often overlooked. “When thinking about the most influential works from the ancient world, most people think of Homer or the Iliad. But it was Ovid’s Metamorphoses that had the greatest effect on Western art and literature,” Brunelle says.

Brunelle coordinated the public performance of the 12,000-line text to honor the Roman poet. “Not only did we read the work aloud, as Ovid intended, but we used 15 different translations to better appreciate the different sense each brings to the work,” Brunelle says. (The group even performed the rap seen in the video below.)

The event began at 9 a.m. in Buntrock Commons. Performing in the central Crossroads Lounge, the group was watched and joined by a constant flow of community members. At 4 p.m. they transferred to Tomson Hall, where they pressed on and finished the last book at 11:48 p.m.

Brunelle says that the college’s 2011–12 “Transformations” academic theme and the unique teaching style of Interim courses (when students spend the month of January concentrating on one class) inspired the event. “I realized that the theme fit perfectly with Metamorphoses, which translates to transformation,” he explains. “During Interim, it is rewarding for students to focus on one topic, like Ovid’s Metamorphoses. It allows them find Ovid’s morals in the text and create or transform them into their own meaning.”

The Metamorphomarathon, supported by a Caristia grant for public sharing of classic works through the Classical Association of the Middle West and South, is not St. Olaf’s first marathon reading of a classic. In 2008 the late Professor of English Richard DuRocher organized a 12-hour “Milton Marathon” reading of Paradise Lost.

You’ll want to check out the original to see Dr Brunelle and crew performing an Ovid rap …

CJ Review:Smith on McKeown, Classical Latin

Posted with permission

J. C. McKeown, Classical Latin: An Introductory Course. Indianapolis and Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company, 2010. Pp. xx + 421. Paper, $39.95. 978-0-87220-851-3. Classical Latin: An Introductory Course Workbook. Paper, $19.95. ISBN 978-1-60384-206-8. Two-volume set: Paper, $53.95. ISBN 978-1-60384-207-5.

Reviewed by Alden Smith, Baylor University

Nowadays it is not uncommon to find a fresh iteration of the Wheelock–LaFleur with new gadgetry that some like and others wish never had been added. Like another James Bond film, Wheelock seems to go on and on, with continued box office success but seemingly less satisfied viewers.

Jim McKeown’s Classical Latin is not new in approach but is rich in fresh material, presenting itself as a competitor to the Wheelock. I say this without having taught out if it, as this reviewer’s teaching schedule has not permitted as much. Poring over the book, however, reveals much about McKeown’s approach. He does not subscribe to the Oxbridge methodology of reading inference, a method that developed in the nineteenth century, in part borne out of Maximilian Berlitz’ success in establishing inductive language schools in New England. Berlitz’ approach is, if only indirectly, the forerunner of books such as Robert Ball’s Reading Classical Latin: A Reasonable Approach, Hans H. Ørberg’s Lingua Latina or the Cambridge Latin and Oxford Latin series.

I have appended, below, a slightly abbreviated version of McKeown’s table of contents. McKeown’s order of presentation seems to me judicious, as each chapter builds nicely upon the previous one, more or less weaving back and forth from verbs to nouns until reaching adjectives. This text also comes to the perfect system slightly quicker than does the Wheelock–LaFleur. McKeown wends his way through numerous pronouns, before moving on to participles and infinitives. His schema of 28 chapters is designed to be done at the rate of one per week for a regularly paced class or double speed for an intensive course, as McKeown explains on p. xiii of the prefatory material. This structure is, in my view, superior to any other textbook on the market.

The book seems to me to achieve basically all that it sets out to do. Grammar is emphasized and reinforced by vigorous exercises designed to strengthen vocabulary while mastering both parsing and translating. McKeown accomplishes this goal in what he calls Prolusiones, or introductory “practice drills,” which are in spirit (but not content) modeled on the practice combat of Roman gladiators. The sentences are generally good and challenging, but not unintelligibly so. Exercises allow students to use some of the details that the book includes, such as a wide range of case usage (e.g. genitive of characteristic, explained on p. 178).

There are also readings drawn from ancient texts in each chapter (Lege, Intellege), though these are not for translating per se but rather designed for reading and understanding, which one might regard as a tip of the hat to the inductive approach. Not having taught out of the book puts me at a disadvantage here, for my own inclination would have been to offer shorter passages from the ancient texts and require precise translations with directed parsing. That said, however, I think McKeown’s method could, and probably does, work well, too. Instead of requiring translation, he ask the students questions such as, on p. 241, which has on it Caesar’s BG 2.20, “What were the two factors which most impeded preparations for battle?” et sim.

The centerpiece of each chapter contains detailed explanations of grammar, straight-up vocabulary, and various readings such as those described above as well as sections entitled “Ars Poetica” and “Aurea Dicta.” The first set of these quotations from ancient authors includes translations of each, while the second requires the student to render them. Both approaches seem to me good, as such maxims are interesting enough for the student to try to decode and memorable enough to stay in the student’s mind. A useful appendix expands upon these for the eager student or teacher. Except for one encompassing indeclinable words, the other appendices are predictable, offering a review of forms and vocabulary.

Each chapter also includes a section entitled Lusus, which essentially serves an extension of the vocabulary and includes words for recognition along with etymologiae antiquae. These consist of fascinating explanations of various tidbits of Roman culture, from place names to body parts to family members. To take one example (p. 321), a nepos is explained as a grand child because he or she is born (natus, -a) after (post) one’s children. Each chapter also includes a selection, in English, drawn from an ancient author, touching upon the life of the Romans.

I should add that for those who like workbooks there is one that accompanies the text. While I do not like workbooks, I can see that much of what is in this book could be useful—save perhaps the section entitled Verba Rescribe, which is a word game requiring the student to rearrange letters to form, for example, a pronoun. I could add that both book and workbook are rather bulky in design, but that would be nitpicking. In short, the only thing I do not like about the book really lies outside of the text proper, i.e. the workbook; yet even that could prove useful to those who relish extra-textual aids.

For nearly half a century the Wheelock has been center stage in elementary Latin courses in the United States. Its success is palpable, as many students, even those who go on for the Ph.D. in classics, begin Latin in college. It would be an understatement, therefore, to say that the field of Classics owes the Wheelock a great debt. But as in the case of the James Bond series, one has to ask just how many more times it can be revised. Perhaps the time has come for a new secret agent and a new Latin textbook, as well. Based on methodology, order of presentation, and overall design, Classical Latin may be that book. The name is McKeown, James McKeown.


Chapter 1 The Present Active Indicative, Imperative, and Infinitive of Verbs

Chapter 2 First Declension Nouns, Prepositions

Chapter 3 The Future and Imperfect Active Indicative of Verbs

Chapter 4 Direct Questions, Irregular Verbs, Compound Verbs

Chapter 5 Second Declension Nouns

Chapter 6 First and Second Declension Adjectives and Adverbs

Chapter 7 The Perfect Active Indicative System of Verbs

Chapter 8 Third Declension Nouns

Chapter 9 Third Declension Adjectives and Adverbs

Chapter 10 Volo, Nolo, Malo, Numbers, Nouns of Limited Form and Variable Meaning

Chapter 11 Fourth and Fifth Declension Nouns

Chapter 12 Comparative and Superlative Forms of Adjectives and Adverbs

Chapter 13 Correlative Adjectives and Adverbs, Irregular Adjectives

Chapter 14 The Passive Voice of Verbs

Chapter 15 Deponent and Semi-Deponent Verbs, Expressions of Time and Place

Chapter 16 Particular Uses of Cases

Chapter 17 Pronouns I, Intransitive Verbs with the Dative

Chapter 18 Pronouns II, Intransitive Verbs with the Genitive or Ablative

Chapter 19 Participles

Chapter 20 Gerunds and Gerundives, the Supine

Chapter 21 Indirect Statement

Chapter 22 The Subjunctive Mood of Verbs in Main Clauses

Chapter 23 The Present and Imperfect Subjunctive in Subordinate Clauses I

Chapter 24 The Present and Imperfect Subjunctive in Subordinate Clauses II

Chapter 25 All Subjunctive Tenses in Subordinate Clauses

Chapter 26 Variations in the Mood of the Verb I: Conditional Sentences

Chapter 27 Variations in the Mood of the Verb II: cum, dum, etc.

Chapter 28 Impersonal Verbs

Reviews from Bryn Mawr

  • 2012.02.50:  Chantal Martin Pruvot, Karl Reber, Thierry Theurillat, Ausgegraben!:Schweizer Archäologen erforschen die griechische Stadt Eretria. Eine Ausstellung der Schweizerischen Archäologischen Schule in Griechenland in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Antikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig.
  • 2012.02.49:  Maria Caccamo Caltabiano, Carmela Raccuia, Elena Santagati, Tyrannis, Basileia, Imperium: forme, prassi e simboli del potere politico nel mondo greco e romano
  • 2012.02.48:  Giovanni Parmeggiani, Eforo di Cuma: studi di storiografia greca. Studi di storia, 14.
  • 2012.02.47:  Benjamin Kelly, Petitions, Litigation, and Social Control in Roman Egypt. Oxford Studies in Ancient Documents.
  • 2012.02.46:  Christopher Carey, Trials from Classical Athens. Second edition (first published 1997). Routledge sourcebooks for the ancient world.
  • 2012.02.45:  Pieter De Leemans, Aristoteles and Guilelmus, Aristoteles Latinus XVII 2.II-III, De progressu animalium; De motu animalium. Translatio Guilellmi de Morbeka..
    Pieter De Leemans, Aristoteles Latinus XVII 1.III, De motu animalium. Fragmenta translationis anonymae.
  • 2012.02.44:  Robin Darling Young, Monica Blanchard, To Train His Soul in Books: Syriac Asceticism in Early Christianity.

Bar Kochba Treasure Map? Say What?

If this wasn’t in Arutz Sheva, I might not even bother posting this:

Antiquities Authority officials over the weekend arrested a gang of Arabs who were using an ancient manuscript as a “treasure map,” as they proceeded to dig up a well-know archaeological site in the Modi’in area. The site, Khurbat Kharuvta, has been raided numerous times over the past years, after a scroll found in a previous archaeological dig. According to the scroll, which dates back to the days of the Bar Kochva revolt nearly 2,000 years ago, Jewish soldiers hid gold coins and other valuable objects at the site.

Archaeological Authority officials caught five members of a gang, from a village near Hevron, who broke into the site Friday night. Officials said that the gang caused a great deal of damage to the site, which was a Jewish settlement during the days after the Second Temple period. Among other things, the officials said, the thieves dug up an ancient mikveh during their search for the coins – but proceeded to destroy at, as they excavated further in search of the treasure.

This seems to be a similar report with slightly different details:

Israeli officers arrested five would-be antiquities thieves in a cave at an ancient site between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, the Israel Antiquities Authority said Monday.

The men, West Bank Palestinians, were apprehended after a scuffle with antiquities inspectors early Saturday, according to the statement. They had been spotted scouring the site with a metal detector, and are suspected of looting other sites in the same area near the city of Modi’in.

Among those sites was one given a cryptic mention in the Copper Scroll, one of the Dead Sea Scrolls, as a possible location for the burial of the treasures of the Jewish Temple. According to the Antiquities Authority, that mention has made the site a popular target for thieves.

The suspects also managed to uncover a Jewish ritual bath that dates from the time of the Second Temple and was not previously known to archaeologists, according to the statement. However valuable the find, however, the men also destroyed important archaeological layers and “brought about the loss of much knowledge about the historical background of the area,” the statement said.

The men remain under arrest.

I can’t find any reference to this site (with that name) on the web, other than in this article and spinoffs. I’m going to assume — possibly erroneously — that the scroll is one mentioned by Robert Cargill three years ago (new bar-kokhba scroll discovered?) which I don’t believe we mentioned at rogueclassicism for some reason. An article from Ha’aretz at the time (May or June of 2009)

Two Palestinians were arrested Tuesday for allegedly stealing a rare antique Hebrew scroll and attempting to sell it for millions of dollars.

Police apprehended the two suspects in Jerusalem after an intelligence tip allowed police forces to trace their tracks and intercept the document’s sale.

The rare historical document, handwritten in Hebrew on papyrus paper and estimated to be more than 2,000 years old, is a bill surrendering property rights. The document was written by a widow named Miryam Ben Yaakov, and hails from a period in which the people of Israel were exiled from the area and very few Jews remained.

The scroll also, unusually, clearly indicates a precise date on the first line: “Year 4 to the destruction of Israel”. The intention is, presumably, either to the year 74 C.E. (the year when the Second Temple was destroyed during the Great Revolt) or to 138 A.D. (the annihilation of the Jewish settlement following the Bar Kokhva revolt).

The Israel Antiquities Authority said on Wednesday that the scroll was an “exceptional archeological document, of the like but a few exist,” adding that similar scrolls had been sold worldwide for sums as high as $5-$10 million.

The IAA estimated that the seized document was indeed authentic, but the final verdict will arrive only after it returns from a series of laboratory tests.

The document was apparently stolen from a cave within Israel’s borders where antiquities raiders were digging.

“We don’t know from which cave it was exactly stolen, “said Amir Nur, director of the anti-antiquities theft division.

“If we had known we would have searched for more scrolls in that area.”

Police investigator Eli Cohen said Wednesday that officers was looking into how the suspects arrived at the scroll, and were they involved in other antiquities robberies.

The current scroll came undone somewhat while it was excavated, something which wouldn’t have happened, according to the AA, if it would have been removed in a professional excavation.

According to the Antiquities Authorities’ law all of the archeological artifacts within Israel’s borders, excavated or otherwise, are state property and fall under the responsibility of the Antiquities Authority.

In fact, any trading in artifacts is considered illegal in Israel, with the exception of a small number of cases authorized by the IAA.

… or am I confusing two different things? From a dig or a cave? Has the 2009 find been published? And then there’s that mention of the Copper Scroll … hmmmm

Kent Production of Aristophanes’ “Thesmophoriazusae”

Seen on the Classicists list:

Classics@Kent is proud to present their first performance of Greek drama, Aristophanes’ "Thesmophoriazusae". It will take place on Wednesday 14th March 2012 (2pm and 7.45 pm) at the
Gulbenkian Theatre on the University of Kent campus (Canterbury). The play will last approximately one and a half hours.

We will portray the twisted tale of a rescue mission packed with slapstick, innuendo and parody. Join us an hour before to enjoy the festival of Dionysus. Be serenaded by bards and poets, cleansed
by water rituals, eat Greek food, drink Greek wine and be very merry.

Tickets can be booked through the Gulbenkian website [] or by
telephone on 01227 769 075.

To complement the play, there will be a series of workshops for local schools on the morning of the performance to promote the study of Greek drama. They will learn about its place in society as
well as have the opportunity to act out scenes from the play in costume with masks.

The production has been generously supported by the Hellenic Society and the Schools’ Partnership Development Office.

For further details, please email Gina May: G.May AT

CFP: Women and War Conference

Seen on the Classicists list:

Sponsored by: Ryerson University, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the University of Athens, Hydrama Theatre & Arts Centre, and the University of Southern California

July 3-5, 2012 Hydra Island GREECE

We are pleased to announce The First Annual Women & War Conference: Building an Interdisciplinary Dialogue. The three-day conference will examine the experience of women in war, past and present, using ancient Greek drama as a means of inciting international discourse on post traumatic stress syndrome and healing..

We invite submissions and registration from mental health researchers, theatre, music, dance, and visual artists, historians, and scholars engaged in examining the roles and representation of women in war and resultant psychological trauma. The conference will be constituted of cutting-edge research papers, photojournalism, film/video, and workshops, and the conference proceedings will be published by Ryerson University.

Conference Web-Page:

Submission of Papers Workshops/Film/Videos: by April 7, 2012
Reduced fee for Conference registration: by May 1st 2012

Research questions fuelling our enquiries include:

1. Can contemporary theatrical and/or dance productions of Ancient Greek battle-themed plays written to a backdrop of war provide a lens through which to view and debate the female war experience? Can these productions effectively examine moral and ethical conflicts related to participation in and around combat? If so, how is this assessed?

2. Can the recovery process for war-related PTSD be assisted by the transformative power of theatre, dance, film, video, and still photography?

3. How do artists, scholars, and researchers adopt modes of formulating and disseminating research that draws upon traditional intellectually-driven findings, yet which may culminate in the sharing of embodied knowledge, personalized and presented through performance?

4. Where are the effective intersections in social sciences and humanities research in the areas of mental health, war, gender, and the arts?

Proposed topic areas, spanning pre-war, during war, and post-war experiences include:

Acting and Performing Identity
Humanities Informing Healthcare and the Long-Term Impact of Trauma
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence
Women and Military Socialisation
Women on the Home Front and the Battle Front
Motherhood and War
Women War Artists
The Refugee Experience

The conference is open to military personnel, mental health researchers, educators, scholars and artists from all over the world and is an opportunity to meet potential collaborators from different countries as well as participate in an international discussion about the impact of war on women globally.

The conference working languages are English and Greek. Translation services will be provided.

You are welcome to take part in the conference as a Speaker, Workshop Presenter, and/or Participant. Space, however, is limited. Please apply early.

Papers, presentations, workshops, and world premier theatre performances looking at the entire pre-, during-, and post-war experience for women are encouraged. It is important that scholars, artists, and researchers from all disciplines attend and participate.


Papers: 15 minute papers may be presented, followed by Q & A

Film/Videos: Up to 30 minutes of film/video may be presented, with a discussion immediately following with the director/producer/and/or other key artists.

Practical workshop, master class, work in progress, performance fragment not requiring special technical conditions, reading/lecture, other way of demonstration offered by Speaker/Presenter will be considered.


Proposals should be sent to: peggy.shannon AT and should include the following documents:

· Detailed CV
· Brief Biography – max 100 words
· Title and format of presentation
· Abstract of presentation – max 300 words

If proposing a film or video presentation please include:

· 5 minute Film/Video extract, DVD format, with a full synopsis (if applicable).

All documents of a presentation proposal should be sent in one email as PDF attachments: text documents should be sent in Word format; photo materials should be sent in JPEG format; Video/Films in DVD format.

Participants of accepted submissions will be notified by April 22nd, 2012.

Registration fee:

Early Bird – 275 CAD (180 GBP) for registration before May 1st
Regular – 400 CAD (254 GBP) for registration after May 1st
Student/Senior – 132.50 CAD (84 GBP)

The fee covers participation in all events of the conference including panels and presentations, a welcome dinner on July 3rd, entrance to The Women & War Photo Exhibition, and three world premier productions. It does not, however, cover meals and accommodation.

The official day of arrival is Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012
The day of departure is Friday, July 6th, 2012
Conference Web-Page:

Related web page :

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