Madeline Miller: Myth of the Week: Callisto.
History of the Ancient World: Technical terminology in Greco-Roman treatises on artillery construction.
History of the Ancient World: Weavers of Fate: Symbolism in the Costume of Roman Women.
History of the Ancient World: Written in the Stars: Poetry and Philosophy in Aratus’ Phaenomena.
American Institute for Roman Culture: Archaeology, Academics and Social Media.
Mike Anderson’s Ancient History: Goths – The Greatest of the German Tribes.
Check this trailer for a production written by UBC’s Andrew Irvine
… even better, the whole thing can be seen here …
Folks might recall our previous post on the contentious claims being made by Dr James Tabor and Professor Simcha Jacobovici in regards to their research at a tomb in Jerusalem which they claim contains the earliest evidence of Christianity, and possibly is connected to some of Jesus’ disciples (The “Patio Tomb” … Evidence of Early Christianity? I Hae Me Doots (A Classics Perspective) ). I’ll direct folks to that post to see how the story was spun by the press, but the conversation/discussion continued on various fronts over the past weeks and I think the claims have been thoroughly discredited. With that in mind, I thought it would be useful to put together a ‘one-stop-shopping’ type roundup of all the various scholarly opinions that have weighed in, especially seeing that the book on this tomb has just come out and there is an impending Discovery documentary. When the latter comes out, without a doubt, folks will be hitting the internet looking for ‘the real story’ and hopefully what follows will help guide their opinions.
At the outset, I think it is important for folks to know that I am retracting my own reading of the “Messanic” inscription on Ossuary 4. I was working from the early photos of the inscription and, while I still like the idea of a ‘pagan’ couple named Gaius and Julia in a Jewish tomb, other photos — which are much more clear but haven’t been made available to the general public — demonstrate that my reading clearly cannot stand. The photos that are available as part of the press kit at The Jesus Discovery site continue to be somewhat low quality (alas, see, e.g., here, here, here, and here), but contact with other scholars who are privy to such things have shown definitively, e.g., that the first line is definitely ΔΙΟΣ, among other things (this aspect of the story is probably still developing).
And so, on to the roundup … in what follows I’m linking to professional scholars (i.e. they have degrees in a relevant discipline and are actively engaged in teaching and/or research) ; if a link has (JT) or (SJ) following it, it is an indication that James Tabor or Simcha Jacobovici have responded to the blog in its comments section. (Comments) indicates that there are valuable comments by other scholars that are worth reading as well. Again, I strongly encourage folks to spend some time reading the (now revised) version of James Tabor’s paper on the site which is up at Bible and Interpretation …
Other views on the inscription:
- Christopher Rollston, Reflections of an Epigrapher on Talpiyot Tombs A and B: A Detailed Response to the Claims of Professor James Tabor and Filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici(JT) [suggests numerous problems; must be contrasted with Bauckham (below)]
- Christopher Rollston,James Tabor’s Iota: A Palaeographic Problem for his Inscriptional Reading (JT)(Comments)
- Richard Bauckham, The Four-Line Ossuary Inscription from Talpiyot Tomb B – an Interpretation (JT) [suggestion: Belonging to Zeus IAIO. I, Hagab, exalt (him/you).]
- Richard Carrier, Amazing Proofs of Jesus![inter alia, on problems with reading all sorts of inscriptions]
… at this point, we should reiterate that this “messianic” inscription is on Ossuary 5 but there are serious problems with the identification of the various ossuaries (especially 4 and 5) when the available photos are examined closely. In this regard, I decided to make this problem my initial foray into Pinterest, and direct folks there to see the problems. Mark Goodacre blogged on the same subject and definitely should be read in conjunction therewith:
- Mark Goodacre, Anomalies in the Talpiot Tomb B Photographs(JT)
- David Meadows, Talpioyot Tomb B/Patio Tomb(Comments)
Turning now to the more contentious issue, namely, the so-called Jonah image, things have definitely taken some strange turns. After several folks had pointed out the image in the newspapers had been rotated to predispose the public to see it as a fish spewing out a man, several reasonable alternative suggestions were made:
- April DeConick, It looks like a fish to me(JT)(Comments)[included primarily because AD initially saw a fish, then changed her mind ... the comments are very useful]
- Steve Caruso, More on “The Jesus Discovery” – A Fish? Nay.[amphora or unguentarium]
- Bob Cargill, On ‘Absalom’s Tomb’ in Jerusalem and Nephesh Monument Iconography: A Response to Jacobovici and Tabor by Robert Cargill(JT)
- Joan Taylor, The Talpiyot Unguentarium(JT)
- Tom Verenna, Some Considerations About the Iconography on the Ossuary[unguentarium]
- Andrew McGowan, A Fish Story in the Talpiot Tomb[kantharos]
- Juan Fernandez de la Gala, SOME CONSIDERATIONS ABOUT THE ICTHYOMORPHIC DRAWING ON OSSUARY 6:3 FROM EAST TALPIOT TOMB (TALBIOT B OR “PATIO” TOMB), IN JERUSALEM(JT)[funerary neck amphora]
- Antonio Lombatti, Never seen a fish depicted upside-down[amphora]
- Antonio Lombatti, Some observations on fish-like images on ossuaries [fish images on other possibly Christian ossuaries]
Other comments on the ‘fish’:
- Mark Goodacre, Scales of a fish on the Talpiot ossuary?
… but in regards to the Jonah image, as time went on it became very clear that rotating the image to predispose viewers to see a fish; CGI enhancement (and possibly photoshopping) of key images began to rear their ugly heads. Robert Cargill led the way on this one, which resulted in ‘unenhanced’ photos appearing in the press kit:
- If the Evidence Doesn’t Fit, Photoshop It: Digital Image Manipulation in the Case of Simcha Jacobovici and James Tabor’s Jonah Ossuary(JT)(SJ)
… after the ‘corrected’ images were added to the press kit, other items began to appear:
- Tom Verenna, Again – It’s Not a Fish…and Stop using Doctored Photos!(JT)[evidence of a 'handle' on the 'tail' of the 'fish']
- Mark Goodacre, When is a fish not a fish? When it has handles(JT)[similiter]
- Tom Verenna, A Possible Handle on Image 5 of the Amphora?(JT)
… and Robert Cargill pounded the final nail into the ossuary (I believe) with a post just the other day:
- sins of commission and omission: digitally generated marginal ‘fishes’ and overlooked handles on the so-called ‘jonah ossuary’(JT)
… which, interestingly enough, resulted (it appeared) in all sorts of photos disappearing and reappearing from the press kit. Steve Caruso was/is all over that:
That said, as can be seen from the above, Dr Tabor has been actively trying to defend his views with the various scholars. In the interest of balance, we should also make readers aware of things he posted on his own blog or at the ASOR blog:
- Talpiot Tomb Ossuaries in New York–What are the Chances?
- A Fish or a Tower?
- What a Difference a Day Makes
- A Perfume Flask or a Fish?
- The Fish and the Man…
- A Reply from Prof. Tabor—A Jonah Fish Image or a Tower Tomb Monument?
Miscellanea (Other blog posts which are useful):
- Mark Goodacre, Was there a predisposition to find Jonah and the whale?(JT)
- Mark Goodacre, The Talpiot Tomb and the Beatles [also on 'predisposition'](JT)
- Joel Watts, $imcha gives a prime example of the Theory of Motivated Reasoning[similiter]
- Jason Staples, The New Talpiot Tomb: An Observation on the Patio Tomb and Resurrection[on the illogic of folks believing in resurrection wanting to be buried next to Jesus' dead body]
- James McGrath, The Talpiot Tombs and New Testament Historical Criticism(JT)
- Robin Jensen, Prof. Robin Jensen Refutes Any Claim that She Concurs with the Interpretation in “The Jesus Discovery”(JT)(SJ)[self-explanatory headline]
- Eric Meyers, Eric Meyers’ review of “The New Jesus Discovery”(JT)[book review]
- Jodi Magness, Jodi Magness responds to the “New Jesus Discovery”[criticizing the lack of actual 'archaeology'](JT)
- Mark Goodacre, The Da Vinci Code and the Talpiot Tomb(SJ)
- Tom Verenna, What are the Criticisms of the ‘Jonah’ Ossuary?
… also worth a read:
- Move Over Indiana Jones – GE Cameras Do Non-Invasive Tomb Exploration [GE's report on the technology used; note that it produces high res imagery, so many folks were wondering why the need for CGI enhancement]
Other Roundups (which include items I have not):
- Tom Verenna, Roundup of Biblioblogger Comments on the New Jacobovici Claims(February 28)
- James McGrath, Talpiot Tombs Latest (Including Fish-Reorientation and Unguentaria)(March 5)
- James McGrath, Latest Talpiot Tomb Round-Up (including a review of The Burial of Jesus)(March 6)
- Tom Verenna, New Roundup on the ‘Jesus Discovery’ (AKA the ‘Jonah and the Whale’ ossuary) (March 6)
- James McGrath, Round-Up on the Talpiot Patio Tomb (to fish or not to fish – that is the question)(March 8th)
- James McGrath, Talpiot Tombs Latest Round-Up (with fish handles) (March 11)
- James McGrath, The Talpiot Mysteries: Featuring the Biblioblog Detectives and the Case of the Ichthyomorphic Ossuary Unguentaria/Amphora(March 13)
… that should be satis superque to debunk this one. I may add items to this page over the next few days if it seems worthwhile.
Dorothy King’s latest project is called “Lootbusters” and is an online photographic catalog of sorts of items purloined from museums (Greek, Roman, and Egyptian) and Greek and Roman items suspected to have been looted. It’s clearly a work-in-progress (and, given the nature of the antiquities trade, always will be), and is definitely worth checking out every now and then … especially at auction time and/or after that session on eBay:
Latest installment of the Classics Confidential interviews is with Helen King about the “Flashing Midwife” tale/anecdote/story:
Seen on the Classicists list:
Where: British Museum
When: 14-15 June 2012
Laura Ambrosini – ISCIMA
Filippo Canali De Rossi – Liceo Classico Dante Alighieri, Rome
Chris Carey – UCL
Hazel Dodge – Trinity College Dublin
Mark Golden – University of Winnipeg
Ian Jenkins – British Museum
Jason König – University of St Andrews
Leslie Kurke – University of California, Berkeley
Vivienne Lo – UCL
Zahra Newby – University of Warwick
Robin Osborne – University of Cambridge
Olga Palagia – University of Athens
Alan Peatfield – University College Dublin
Chris Pelling – Oxford University
Otto Schantz – University of Koblenz
Reinhard Senff – Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, Athens
Judith Swaddling – British Museum
Oliver Taplin – Oxford University
Hans Van Wees – UCL
Book now to beat the rush.
A flyer is available at:
Messages to the list are archived at http://listserv.liv.ac.uk/archives/classicists.html
The incipit of an item in the Greek Reporter:
The 32nd metope of the Annunciation, that has been removed from the Parthenon temple atop the Athens Acropolis for conservation, will be exhibited at the Acropolis Museum of Athens on the 25th of March.
The 32nd metope from the southwestern side of the Parthenon, a Classical Era temple dedicated to the mythical goddess Athena, is known as the metope of the Annunciation because it was thought to resemble the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary and it is the first time that it is being exhibited at the Acropolis museum.
On the 25th of March, the Acropolis Museum will be open to the public from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m., while the Athens Philharmonic Orchestra will perform at 17:00 on the ground floor of the museum. [...]
- via: Metope Of The Annunciation To Be Exhibited At The Acropolis Museum (Greek Reporter)
Always something to learn: I had never know this metope was sometimes referred to as the Metope of the Annunciation. The Greek Reporter piece has a small photo of it but here’s a cast of it via the Beazley Archive to give you an idea:
The incipit of a feature in Trinity College Magazine … always fun to read about a Canadian who studied Classics and had subsequent success (he currently is with the Globe and Mail, I believe):
John Allemang ’74 is a journalist, rather than someone for whom journalism is a job. His newsroom experiences date back to the days of newsmen smoking at their desks, filing stories by phone and couriering a cockroach from bureau to bureau in a cassette-tape case on a “Tour of the Bureaus,” making light of the travels of a managing editor.
Allemang is not the guy who produces follow-the-formula stories; he listens to his editors and works with them, but he lets his stories speak for themselves, rather than allowing editorial edict to dictate. Like so many writerly quirks, his intuitive independence likely stems from his upbringing. The eldest of four, he was often left to his own devices, enjoying a childhood spent exploring local drainage ditches, breaking bones and, according to one oft-quoted report card, doing his classmates’ work for them.
He attended University of Toronto Schools – where he excelled and flailed academically, dominated at sports from hockey to gymnastics, took dubious hitchhiking trips across North America in the summers, and cut class to go look at art and hear poetry.
He went on to Trinity, completing a specialty degree in Classics. He was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship (much to his surprise) and left for Oxford, where he studied Classics at Wadham College. While there, he sated a hunger for gastronomic knowledge.
“I spent a lot of free time in Soho studying the markets, stores, bakeries, dim sum restaurants, cafés,” he recalls. He would buy ingredients, like a pig’s head, and figure out what to do with them, turning his flat into a makeshift rendering plant.
And in those batches of DIY head cheese lie journalistic origins: Allemang began filing reports to The Good Food Guide, a British publication he describes as “a more literate pre-Zagat amalgam of people’s real dining experiences channelled through an intellectually sophisticated, allusive editorial sensibility.”
Following Oxford, he applied to the Canadian diplomatic services but was notified of a hiring freeze. He briefly considered a career as a hockey player in rural France, but chose to enter U of T’s law school instead, which he soon decided wasn’t for him. Eventually, he came back to writing. He contacted two publications, hoping they would hire him to write about food. [...]
- via: A Rare Approach to Journalism (Trinity College Magazine)
pridie idus martias
- Festival of Mars (day 14)
- Equirria — the second of two days of horse racing (the first was on February 27) dedicated to Mars; the reasons are obscure, but probably have something to do with preparing horses for the upcoming campaigning season
- 222 A.D. — Severus Alexander is given the title Augustus