Theft at Olympia

As most readers of rogueclassicism are probably aware, yesterday the press, academic discussion lists, and social media were ablaze with news of a theft at one of the the museums at Olympia. What follows is an attempt to synthesize the various reports in a useful way …

The basic story seems to be thus: at 7:30 a.m. local time, two masked men armed with Kalashnikovs (maybe … reports vary on their level of armament) entered the Museum of the History of the Olympic Games during a shift change and demanded of the only (48-year-old, female) guard on duty at the time that she hand over assorted objects which apparently weren’t even in that particular museum. When she refused, they tied her up and proceeded to do some smashing and grabbing in a display case of bronze and terracotta votive objects associated with the Temple of Zeus. The numbers of objects taken is still unknown, but estimates range between sixty and seventy objects, most of which date from the ninth to fourth centuries B.C., except for  a gold Mycenean ring. Outside of the Mycenean ring, which Dr Vassiliki Pliatsika on AegeaNet identified (citing Greek press reports) as one having the catalog number CMS VS1B 135 (not sure which one that is), it has not yet been specified which objects had been taken. In the words of a cultural ministry official:

“They took small objects made of bronze and pottery — figurines, vases and lamps — and the ring,” the official said. “The artifacts were behind reinforced glass panels which fracture like a car windscreen, and the thieves grabbed whatever small objects they could reach through the holes they opened.” (AP)

Another interesting detail:

Officials said the robbers seemed to have poor information on the museum, asking the guard where they could get golden wreaths and a valuable stamp collection — which are not part of the display. (AP)

The various reports are all pretty unanimous in connecting this sad event to cuts Greece made three years ago to various cultural agencies, which also involved cuts to security at museums. Some quotes from the folks involved:

“The cutbacks imposed by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund have hurt our cultural heritage, which is also the world’s heritage” said Yiannis Mavrikopoulos, head of the culture ministry museum and site guards’ union.

“There are no funds for new guard hirings,” he said. “There are 2,000 of us, and there should be 4,000, while many have been forced to take early retirement ahead of the new program of layoffs. We face terrible staff shortages. As a result, our monuments and sites don’t have optimum protection — even though guards are doing their very best to protect our heritage. (AP)

“Clearly the museum’s security was insufficient … to guard a global treasure,” Olympia mayor Kotzias later told state television. (AFP)

“The level of security is indeed lacking,” Kotzas told state-run NET television. “These are treasures. A piece of world heritage has been lost thanks to these thieves … I think (authorities) should have been more mindful and the security should have been more serious.” (MSNBC)

“All museums have suffered cuts, both in guards and archaeologists, the staff are no longer enough to operate at full shifts,” said Ioanna Frangou, general secretary of the union of short-term culture ministry staff. (AFP)

Dimitra Koutsoumba, president of the Greek Archaeologists’ Association, said the latest attack was a sad and worrying incident.

“It is the first time that we have an armed robbery at a museum during operating hours. It shows that the cuts the Culture Ministry has made since the crisis hit in 2009 make it easier for such incidents to take place,” she said. “The minister himself had told us that the cuts were ranging between 30% and 35%, and they include cuts in personnel.” (CNN)

Art and archaeological treasures were always poorly guarded here,” said one archaeologist, who did not want to be named, “but now the guards are so badly paid that they do not make much of an effort to protect anything.” (Independent)

In the wake of the theft, Greece’s culture minister Pavlos Geroulanos is said to have resigned, but reports vary as to the accuracy of this (and/or whether the resignation was accepted).

We compile the actual news reports below … for those of you who are more audio-video oriented, Al Jazeera has a very nice video report:

Video reports can also be found in Channel 4 and BBC coverage … the Daily Mail coverage includes a feature on the museum itself …

Dan Diffendale has a flickr photoset from the museum if you need an idea of the sorts of things that were there (I suspect some of the things on the second page are the ones which were taken). Another flickr photoset (I think from the museum itself) is also available.

The coverage (in no particular order):

Glossing “Age of Bronze”

Interesting item from Yale Daily News:

With the help of one Yale alum, a ’90s historical comic book series is gaining a new, educational edge.

Thomas Beasley GRD ’09 said in a Tuesday talk at Sterling Memorial Library that he hopes to put a modern twist on the study of ancient Greek history with the publication of a reader’s guide to a comic book series about the Trojan War, “Age of Bronze.”

The digital media publisher Throwaway Horse is currently adapting creator Eric Shanower’s 31-issue comic series into a digital format. In reconfiguring the comic, Throwaway Horse brought in Beasley, a classics scholar, to write an embedded page-by-page reader’s guide for each issue, which acts as a didactic extension of the comics describing the Greek mythological figures referenced in the material and providing historical context for each story. Since the project’s inception in October 2011, three issues of the newly digitized comic have been made available for the iPad.

Beasley said that the comic series could be useful in academic settings, as the series seeks to represent the full length of the 10-year-long Trojan War and not just the last few years covered in the epics of Homer.

“While the books are not well-known in the academic community yet,” said Beasley. “They would be ideal for a class on the Trojan war because they are less anachronistic than [the works of] Homer.”

The guide is intended as an academic jumping-off point for those whose curiosity about Greek history and mythology is piqued by the comics, Beasley said the guide is intended as an academic jumping-off point for a reader whose curiosity about Greek history and mythology may be aroused by the comics. The guide is also equipped with a discussion forum, Beasley said, to enable readers to engage in conversations about the material.

The guide includes biographies of key characters, as well as maps of the region and descriptions of Bronze Age paintings and pottery that inspired the comic’s style.

But the series and the guide are not meant to substitute for Homer’s works, Beasley noted.

“It doesn’t seek to replace any of the texts from which it draws,” Beasley said. “I certainly wouldn’t recommend reading it instead of reading the works of Homer.”

Audience members interviewed said they appreciated Beasley’s attempt to make the classics more easily accessible to a broader audience.

“It has a wide range,” said Lindsay King, a librarian at the Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library. “You could use it just for fun or you could use it for some really serious investigations.”

Caroline Caizzi, King’s colleague at the Haas Arts Library, said that while many would typically associate the Classics Department with a traditional teaching style, she appreciated the unconventionality and visual nature of comics as a medium for education.

Beasley’s talk is a part of the Teaching with Technology lecture series held in the International Room of Sterling Memorial Library every Tuesday.

We used to mention the Age of Bronze series semi-regularly as new installments came out. Our last mention, I think, may have been an interview with the creator of the series, Eric Shanower. The official homepage of the comic will give you a taste of the work …

Temple of Quirinus Found?

Assorted outlets in the Italian press are mentioning the excavation of a sculpture, identified as a maenad, from a depth of 27 metres, on the Quirinal. It is thought to date from the third century A.D. and archaeologists involved in the dig think they have found the site of the Temple of Quirinus and are sitting on a “gold mine”. This appears to be adding weight to Andrea Carandini’s suggestion some five years ago that the temple’s remains were in the gardens of the Quirinal Palace (see: Temple of Quirinus?).  It would have been kind of nice if they had held off the original reporting of this (on February 14th) to February 17th, which would have coincided with the ancient date of the Quirinalia, which presumably would have happened in the area as well, but oh well …

Il Messagero has the best coverage, including  brief (unembeddable, alas) video which show the sculpture that was brought out (not quite sure how it is being identified as a maenad, other than the fact that it seems to be nude):

… the video, in case you missed it, is here.

More coverage:

For info on the Temple of Quirinus:

JOB: BSA Knossos Curator Position

Seen on the Classicists list:

The British School at Athens, an institute for advanced research in the Humanities and Social Sciences, seeks a fixed term (5 year), full-time Curator to manage its research centre at Knossos and to conduct original research. You will be capable of combining academic and managerial tasks in a flexible manner, of facilitating the work of resident and non-resident scholars using the Knossos facilities, and of representing the British School on Crete. Residence at the Knossos research centre is a requirement. You will have completed a doctorate or have comparable relevant experience (e.g. in conservation or collection management), and have defined an original research project which can be completed while in post (and resident) at Knossos (preference may be given to applicants proposing a project which focuses on Knossian collections). You will be able to communicate effectively in Greek, or to demonstrate how you will acquire this level of command before taking up the post.

The salary will be up to £23,000, including health insurance. The position is available from 1st July 2012. A probationary period will apply.

Further details are available at: http://www.bsa.ac.uk

Informal enquiries about the post may be addressed to the School Director, Professor
Catherine Morgan (director AT bsa.ac.uk) or the Chair of the Crete SubCommittee,
Professor Todd Whitelaw (t.whitelaw AT ucl.ac.uk).

The closing date for applications is Monday 23rd April 2012. Interviews will be held in late May.

JOB: Classics/Biblical Hebrew @ UBC

Seen on various lists:

University of British Columbia
Faculty of Arts
Assistant Professor in Classics/Biblical Hebrew for 2012-13

Applications are invited for a 9-month position in Classics at the
level of Assistant Professor, without review, in the Department of
Classical, Near Eastern and Religious Studies (CNERS) in the Faculty
of Arts, University of British Columbia. The successful candidate will
be expected to teach five courses over the two terms, including Roman
Law and some combination of Ancient History, Classical Studies, Greek
and/or Latin courses. The ability to teach Biblical Hebrew at either
beginners’ or intermediate level will be an advantage but should not
deter applicants who do not have this skill. The successful candidate
will also be expected to conduct an active program of research and to
participate fully in student advising, departmental service, events
and initiatives. This position is subject to final budgetary approval.

Ideally candidates will have completed their PhD and will be able to
demonstrate excellence in both teaching and research. The appointment
will run from August 1st 2012 until April 30th 2013. Informal
enquiries may be made to the Acting Head of the Department of CNERS,
Professor Susanna Braund, at the email address below. Please visit
www.cnrs.ubc.ca for information about the department.

Applicants should send a letter of application, a CV, a scholarly
writing sample, and the names and e-mail addresses of three referees.
Please ask your referees to write separately to the address below, to
reach the Department not later than the date specified. We cannot
accept e-mail applications, but referees’ signed letters of support
can be sent forwarded as .pdf attachments. Applications and letters of
reference should be sent to the Chair of the Search Committee,
Professor Susanna Braund, CNERS, Buchanan C227, 1866 Main Mall,
Vancouver, BC Canada V6T 1Z1, to reach her not later than March 19th
2012. E-mail: susanna.braund AT ubc.ca.

UBC hires on the basis of merit and is committed to employment equity.
All qualified persons are encouraged to apply. UBC is strongly
committed to diversity within its community and welcomes applications
from visible minority group members, women, Aboriginal persons,
persons with disabilities, persons of any sexual orientation, and
others who may contribute to the further diversification of ideas.

We encourage all who are qualified to apply; however, Canadians and
permanent residents of Canada will be given priority. Applicants from
this group are encouraged to self-identify.

Bronze Age Hut (+) from Lipari

The incipit of a brief item from UPI:

Archeologists found an ancient hut from the Bronze Age during construction work on the southern Italian resort island of Lipari, officials said.

The hut was uncovered, along with Roman-era Hellenistic slabs, during work in a town square, Italian news agency ANSA reported.

The age of the hut was not immediately determined, but the Bronze Age is generally recognized as extending from 1800 B.C. to 1000 B.C. [...]

The ANSA coverage (similarly brief):

Archaeomolise is a bit more extensive: Lipari: scoperta capanna dell’età del Bronzo

CONF: Ruin or Renewal? Places and the Transformation of Memory in the City of Rome

Seen on the Classicists list:

Ruin or Renewal? Places and the Transformation of Memory in the City of Rome
The University of Wales Trinity Saint David (Lampeter Campus)
The City of Rome Project (www.city-of-rome.org)

9-10 March, 2012

This conference aims to explore the connections between memory and the topography of the city of Rome, with a particular focus on the afterlife in antiquity of monuments, buildings and places. Papers will explore such themes as the natural transformation, or the deliberate appropriation or manipulation, of the memories associated with monuments, by means of relocation, restoration, embellishment, neglect or demolition.

Speakers:

Dominique Briquel (Paris-Sorbonne): ‘Monuments of the Regal Period and the Beginnings of the Republic: the Ambiguity of realia’

Amanda Claridge (Royal Holloway): TBC

Marta García Morcillo (Trinity Saint David): ‘Topography of Terror: Proscriptions and the City of Rome’

Lucy Jones (King’s College London): ‘Movemur enim nescio quo pacto locis ipsis: Nostalgia and the Ethics of Social Memory’

Don Miller (Newcastle): ‘For God, Country or Self? Religious Dedications and the Construction of Public Image in Republican Rome’

Jill Mitchell (Trinity Saint David): ‘The Religious Transformation of the Caelian Hill in the Late Fourth Century’

John Patterson (Cambridge): ‘The Imperial City of Rome and the Demise of the Republican Nobility’

Cecilia Ricci (Molise): ‘Memory and Epigraphy. The pauper in First Century Rome, an ongoing research project’

James Richardson (Trinity Saint David): ‘Poetry, Performance and Place in Archaic Rome’

Federico Santangelo (Newcastle): ‘The Statue of Marsyas’

Alexander Thein (Trinity College Dublin): ‘The Myth and Monuments of Castor and Pollux circa 168 B.C.’

Lily Withycombe-Taperell (Royal Holloway): ‘The Temples of Jupiter Feretrius on the Capitoline Hill in Augustan Rome’

The conference is part of the City of Rome Project, and is timed to coincide with the inaugural City of Rome lecture, which will be given by Professor Tim Cornell. The lecture will take place on Thursday, 8 March at 6.00 pm, and will be on ‘The City of Rome in the Archaic Period in the Light of Recent Discoveries’.

Please direct any inquires to the organisers:

Marta García Morcillo (m.morcillo AT tsd.ac.uk)
James Richardson (J.Richardson AT tsd.ac.uk)
Federico Santangelo (F.Santangelo AT ewcastle.ac.uk)