Moles at Epiacum

Years ago it was all about badger, badger, badger … now, it seems, moles are digging up Roman artifacts at Epiacum … from the Journal:

EARTH burrowing moles are responsible for digging up some of Roman Britain’s deepest secrets in a remote corner of West Northumberland.

They may be the bane of farmers across the land, but some moles are doing the human race a huge historical favour.

Epiacum, an isolated Roman fort close to the Cumbrian border 12 miles south of Hadrian’s Wall, is a scheduled ancient monument and as such, any excavation is banned on site.

But humans has never yet introduced any law understood by Mr Mole – and scores of them are churning up Roman artefacts at Epiacum – or Whitley Castle – as they push out their molehills.

Whitley Castle stands on 1,000-acre Castle Nook Farm, and yesterday a team of 37 volunteers, under the watchful eye of English Heritage, sieved through those molehills to see what our subterranean allies had brought up.

Among the finds were:

A quarter-inch-long piece of rare Samian ware, tableware known as the classic Roman ceramic discovery;

A number of pottery rim fragments from Roman serving bowls and earthenware pots;

A jet bead from a Roman necklace or bracelet.

“We’ve had a good day,” smiled farmer’s wife Elaine Edgar, who is heading plans to develop and promote the fort and this month landed a £49,200 Heritage Lottery grant to help her along.

“The Samian ware is the sort of thing the Romans used to keep up with the Joneses and we found a quarter-inch flat, round piece of it.

“Last year we found a small bronze dolphin-shaped piece which we believe to have been a tap-head from the wash-house. It was just lying there on the side of a molehill.

“We also found a number of nails, which settled the argument of whether the Romans used wood or stone for their buildings.

“And this year we have found some really nice pieces – even the weather was kind to us.”

All the molehill sites at Epiacum, two miles south of Slaggyford and near the Cumbrian border, were ‘gridded out’ 48 hours earlier in 10-metre squares with rods and tape.

“The moles are able to do what we humans are forbidden by law to do,” said Elaine, “and that is excavate on-site. As farmers we are not allowed to do anything that turns the land over.

“English Heritage had to be on site yesterday to make it legal for us even to sieve through the molehills.”

Paul Frodshaw from AONB – Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – who is one of the four directors of newly-formed Epic Epiacum Ltd, took the Roman finds away in carefully-labelled bags last night to officially catalogue them.

But their ownership falls to Elaine and her husband John as landowners of 30 years.

Now Elaine hopes that she will eventually be able to display them in a display area on the eight-acre fort site.

“That would be my great wish,” she said last night. “I have high hopes, and it is only with the help of the moles that we have been able to find these remains.

“Perhaps we should get them some Roman helmets – then they would be real mighty moles.”

Honours for Judith Lynn Sebesta

Nice item about our longtime interent friend Judith Lynn Sebesta! From the Yankton Press and Dakotan:

Judith Lynn Sebesta, Ph.D., professor of classics and chair of the department of history at the University of South Dakota, is the 2012 recipient of the Monsignor James Doyle Humanities Teaching Award. Presented by the College of Arts and Sciences at USD, Sebesta was honored with the award and $500 at the 2012 Phi Beta Kappa initiation/Lifto Amundson Lecture on March 29.

Sebesta is co-editor of “The World of Roman Costume” (University of Wisconsin Press) and co-author of “The Worlds of Roman Women” (Focus Press). She is co-editor of “The On-line Companion to the Worlds of Roman Women” ( <> ), executive secretary of the National Committee for Latin and Greek ( and is noted for her expertise in Latin teaching methodology. She has taught courses in Latin, Classical Mythology, Ancient Egypt and Women in Antiquity, and her research interests include Women in Antiquity, particularly Roman women, and Roman clothing and costumes. Sebesta received her Ph.D. from Stanford University and a B.A. from the University of Chicago.

Made possible thanks to a gift from Monsignor James Michael Doyle, former chair of religious studies at USD and a prominent theologian inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame, the Doyle Award is awarded annually to an outstanding teacher in the Humanities Division of the College of Arts and Sciences.

via: USD Professor Recipient Of Doyle Humanities Teaching Award (Press and Dakotan)

Utter B.S.: Veni, Vidi, Vici Trademarked

Okay, this is officially ridiculous … first it was the Volvo nonsense, then Lamborghini with its Deimos nonsense, and now some town in Turkey has managed to trademark Julius Caesar’s phrase? From Hurriyet:

The municipality of Zile in the northern province of Tokat has announced the acquisition of the Turkish patent license for the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar’s famous saying “Veni Vidi Vici” which is believed to have been uttered in district’s 4,000-year-old castle.

It took two and a half years to acquire the patent, Mayor Lütfi Vidinel said.

“The copyright of the phrase belongs to our municipality for the following 10 years. We are planning to renew it every decade. A global tobacco company is using this phrase as part of its brand logo and we are planning to contact them and ask for our copyright share for the use of the phrase. We will allocate the funds we raise for the fight against tobacco use,” Vidinel said.

In May 47 B.C., Caesar defeated Pharnaces of Pontus near the town of Zile. He claimed he captured the enemy in four hours. To inform the Roman Senate of his victory, Caesar succinctly wrote, “veni, vidi, vici” (I came, I saw, I conquered).

This a.m. I quipped on Twitter that all the Classics departments should band together and trademark the name of every Greek and Roman divinity. We should add to that the name of every ancient author and everything they said. We clearly could easily fund Classics for eternity …

CONF: Reading Roman Declamation, Seneca the Elder

Seen on the Classicists list:

Abstracts and program for the first event on SENECA THE ELDER, Montpellier 22-23rd November

2012 in the series READING ROMAN DECLAMATION have now gone live on the conference website.

To register please e-mail roman.declamation AT

Further events will take place in Sao Paulo, Brazil, 25-26 September 2013 (QUINTILIAN) and

CONF: Classical Theatre and the Contemporary Stage

Seen on the Classicists list:

The Classical Association of Scotland


the CAS annual event 2012

Classical Theatre and the Contemporary Stage

A panel discussion featuring

DAVID GREIG (playwright and director)

LIZ LOCHHEAD (playwright and Scots Makar)

DAVID STUTTARD (author, translator and founder of Actors of Dionysus)

in conversation with

Professor DOUGLAS CAIRNS (University of Edinburgh)

Saturday 16th June 2012, 4:30 p.m.
Centre for Contemporary Arts, 350 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow

Tickets £5 (members of CAS), £10 (non-members)
includes drinks reception

Advance booking is encouraged, to avoid disappointment, but tickets should
also be available on the door. To reserve your ticket in advance, please
send cheques (payable to “The Classical Association of Scotland”) to Luke
Houghton, Classics, School of Humanities, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12
8QQ. For further details and any enquiries, please contact
luke.houghton AT

App: Grammaticus

From the ‘contact the rogueclassicist’ mailbox … I have not tried this app, but it does look useful:

I’m very pleased to announce that version 1.0 of Grammaticus is now available on the iTunes App Store. Grammaticus brings the full texts of Smyth’s _Greek Grammar_, Allen and Greenough’s _New Latin Grammar_, and Goodwin’s _Syntax of the Moods and Tenses of the Greek Verb_ to your iPhone and iPad and adds a host of useful features including multi-term full-text search, inline citation viewing, and bookmarks. If you’ve ever wanted to search for every Latin word ending in -ibus in A&G or view every citation of Thucydides in Smyth, now you can!

Grammaticus is priced at $6.99–perhaps not super-cheap in a world of frivolous 99-cent apps, but less than a tenth of the cost of buying new hard copies of Smyth and A&G!

More information and screenshots are available here:

You can download it from the App Store on your iDevice, or via the link below:;mt=8

Also, you can access it from the App Store by searching for “grammaticus” or “smyth” or a few other similar keywords. (As of this writing, it isn’t yet showing up in search results, but I’m told it will start doing so in the next day or so. In the meantime, you can use the above URL to access it directly.)

Please feel free to forward this email on to any friends, colleagues or students who might find it useful. (And feel free to send me feedback about the app when you’ve given it a whirl!)

Thanks very much,

Adrian Packel
adrian.packel AT

Greek Kiln Firing

I don’t think we’ve mentioned this in the past … from the Tucson Sentinel:

Flames will fill an 8-foot-tall ancient Greek kiln replica when students, teachers and community members attend the all-day 10th Greek Kiln Firing on Friday.

The event began in 2004 when the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) awarded the AIA Society of Tucson and Southern Arizona — made up of University of Arizona faculty and students — the first Local Society Outreach Grant for its newly established Greek Kiln Project.

The AIA awards a university or program that successfully plans and implements an outreach program in the society to get the community involved and to educate the community in some way about archaeology.

Eleni Hasaki, an associate professor at UA’s School of Anthropology and Classics, helped conceive and submit the Kiln Project along with members of the society, St. Augustine Catholic High school and local potters.

“My research expertise is in ancient Greek pyrotechnology, so it was an exciting and intriguing project for me to start. All the AIA lectures take place on campus, so there is a close connection between the AIA Tucson Society and UA,” said Hasaki.

“In the late ’90s and around early 2000s there was a big push to do experimental replicas and to test theories that only come from archeological remains. To replicate it, build it and fire it and then study the whole process they used,” she said.

The construction of the wood-fired kiln was complex. The Greek kiln has two chambers — a combustion chamber with a perforated floor and another that holds the pots.

St. Augustine Catholic High School offered their campus as a holding place for the Greek kiln.

“We were extremely lucky when the school allowed us and welcomed us to make the project a part of their school, the location is an educational experiment in an educational setting so it worked out perfectly,” said Hasaki.

“It had to be in an open area, and it took a while to come up with a design of the kiln because it had to consist of materials as close to antiquity as possible, we wanted to come up with a design based on archeological evidence,” she said.

Students and faculty contribute to the event each year by bringing some of their own pieces to be fired. Black- and red-figured pottery is most commonly fired at the event to represent the ancient Greek techniques.

St. Augustine teacher Patricia Bradshaw and her students have been producing different types of pottery with historical and mythological themes including the Trojan wars, Olympian gods, theatrical masks and Roman gladiators.

Unlike a gas or electric kiln, the wood-fired process takes 18 hours and the kiln’s temperatures can climb as high as 1,600 degrees.

The firing event attracts local potters because the effects of the wood-fired kiln on the glazes are unpredictable and less controlled, Hasaki said.

“People come and go to the firing, it reaches out to a lot of academic audiences. There is a team coming from the ASU Arts Program and we even have ceramic pieces sent to us from a potter in Japan to be fired,” she said. […]

… the article ends with an exhortation to visit the AIA Society of Tucson and Southern Arizona’s web page … the Kiln Project’s section is definitely worth a look in this context.