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.

Potidea Tsunami

This is one of those stories that aggravates me greatly because it seems to provide a ‘scientific’ corroboration for something in Herodotus, and so the evidence of such corroboration would be interesting, but instead the vast majority of the media reports concentrate on ‘implications’ (i.e. it happened 2500 years ago, so it might happen again!). In any event, the AFP coverage via Deutsche Welle seems to have the most of interest to us, despite their headline:

Greece should add northwestern regions to its list of areas at risk of tsunamis and earthquakes, according to German scientists. The experts used an account of fifth-century B.C. historian Herodotus in their research.

Scientists from the RWTH Aachen University have warned that northwestern coastal regions of Greece remain prone to earthquakes and tsunamis and should be added to the list of areas at risk.

“We have found several historic tsunamis on the coast,” Professor Klaus Reicherter told the DPA news agency. “That means there is a certain risk for the coastal areas.”

He and his colleagues found sediment on the northern Greek peninsula where Potidaea, and its modern counterpart, Nea Potidaea, is located. They showed signs of massive marine events, such as large waves.

The ancient Greek historian Herodotus lent a hand to modern-day researchers

Excavations in the suburbs of the nearby ancient city of Mende uncovered a high-energy level dating back to the fifth century B.C. that contained far older sea shells that were likely picked up off the ocean floor and deposited during a tsunami.

An account dating back to 479 B.C. by Greek scholar Herodotus triggered the scientists’ research. He described “mighty waves” that killed hundreds of Persian invaders that year, in what was then Potidaea.

Over the last four years, the researchers sought out lagoons to look for sediment like marine sands or gravel that are typical for an area affected by a tsunami.

They also found evidence of massive blocks of rock formations “where you do have to ask yourself, how did they get out of the ocean,” Reicherter said. […]

Some coverage does quote a bit of Herodotus, or at least paraphrase him, so here’s a full bit from 8.129.1-3 (via Perseus):

This is how Timoxenus’ treachery was brought to light. But when Artabazus had besieged Potidaea for three months, there was a great ebb-tide in the sea which lasted for a long while, and when the foreigners saw that the sea was turned to a marsh, they prepared to pass over it into Pallene. [2] When they had made their way over two-fifths of it, however, and three yet remained to cross before they could be in Pallene, there came a great flood-tide, higher, as the people of the place say, than any one of the many that had been before. Some of them who did not know how to swim were drowned, and those who knew were slain by the Potidaeans, who came among them in boats. [3] The Potidaeans say that the cause of the high sea and flood and the Persian disaster lay in the fact that those same Persians who now perished in the sea had profaned the temple and the image of Poseidon which was in the suburb of the city. I think that in saying that this was the cause they are correct. Those who escaped alive were led away by Artabazus to Mardonius in Thessaly. This is how the men who had been the king’s escort fared.

It’s worth noting — as Colin McLarty has done in the ongoing discussion of this on the Classics list — that a generation later, during the Peloponnesian Wars, Thucydides would recognize the connection between earthquakes and tsunamis. See, e.g. 3.89.1-5 … again, via Perseus):

The next summer the Peloponnesians and their allies set out to invade Attica under the command of Agis, son of Archidamus, and went as far as the Isthmus, but numerous earthquakes occurring, turned back again without the invasion taking place. [2] About the same time that these earthquakes were so common, the sea at Orobiae, in Euboea, retiring from the then line of coast, returned in a huge wave and invaded a great part of the town, and retreated leaving some of it still under water; so that what was once land is now sea; such of the inhabitants perishing as could not run up to the higher ground in time. [3] A similar inundation also occurred at Atalanta, the island off the Opuntian-Locrian coast, carrying away part of the Athenian fort and wrecking one of two ships which were drawn up on the beach. [4] At Peparethus also the sea retreated a little, without however any inundation following; and an earthquake threw down part of the wall, the town hall, and a few other buildings. [5] The cause, in my opinion, of this phenomenon must be sought in the earthquake. At the point where its shock has been the most violent the sea is driven back, and suddenly recoiling with redoubled force, causes the inundation. Without an earthquake I do not see how such an accident could happen.

T.C. Smid comments on both these events in ‘Tsunamis’ in Greek Literature, Greece & Rome, Second Series, 17 (1970), pp. 100-104.

Of course, tsunamis in the Mediterranean have been the source of a fair bit of attention here at rogueclassicism … some of our previous coverage:

On the one mentioned by Ammianus Marcellinus, see also Adrian Murdoch’s Tsunami in late antiquity … we also note at Corinthian Matters: Did a tsunami destroy ancient Lechaion?

… and we’ll end with an assortment of the other press coverage of the ‘Potidea event’:

Hopefully we’ll get further coverage when/if Dr Reicherter’s paper is published …

Marathon Iliad Reading at Bowdoin

From Bowdoin:

Members of the 207-year-old Peucinian Society — a literary group and Bowdoin’s oldest student organization — recently read the complete Iliad aloud from the Bowdoin College Museum of Art steps.

In previous years, Peucinian members have read the Odyssey during their annual Homer-a-thon, but this year decided to tackle the longer Iliad. “The record for the Odyssey is six hours,” RJ Dellecese ’14 said, taking a break while fellow member Molly Stevens ’15 read a passage with fiery brio. “But the Iliad is 25 percent longer.”

The heroic Iliad readers — about 11 of them — started their performance last Friday at 10:08 a.m. and recited the final words at 1:29 a.m. Saturday morning: “Such honours Ilion to her hero paid, And peaceful slept the mighty Hector’s shade.” They read through the beautiful sunny day, through some afternoon gusts of wind, through a nearby dance practice, through dinner and dusk and into the chilly hours of night. Why, you might ask? “We do it for erudition,” Dellecese explained. “And to express our love for the classics and philosophy and to share what we consider to be a great story.”

via: A 15-hour, 21-minute Non-Stop Oration of the ‘Iliad’ (Bowdoin)

… the news item also includes this video; sounds like they used Pope’s translation:

Another Wall Collapse at Pompeii

Not sure whether this will make it out of the Italian press … the La Repubblica coverage briefly mentions the collapse of an interior wall of a house without one of those fancy schmancy names in Regio V … the area wasn’t open to the public:

Ancora un crollo all’interno degli Scavi di Pompei. L’ennesimo cedimento nel sito archeologico più grande del mondo è avvenuto ieri pomeriggio. Ha riguardato una parte non estesa di un muro di cinta all’interno di una domus senza nome della Regio V. L’area era stata già interdetta al pubblico.

La Soprintendenza Archeologica Speciale di Napoli e Pompei ha confermato il cedimento del muro – di età romana, intonacato. L’area in cui il muro è crollato sarà oggetto di bandi per il restauro. «Stiamo lavorando per la messa in sicurezza anche in questa zona», dice la soprintendente archeologa di Napoli e Pompei, Teresa Elena Cinquantaquattro, che ha redatto un’informativa sul cedimento. Una relazione è stata inviata anche ai carabinieri.

Nei giorni scorsi il Napoletano è stato flagellato da piogge abbondanti che sono probabilmente tra le concause del cedimento.

via: Pompei, ancora un crollo all’interno degli Scavi (La Repubblica)

More coverage: