Way Cool Winged Centaur at Sotheby’s

So it’s recess and I decide to page through the ecatalog of Sotheby’s upcoming antiquities auction … the first thing I come across of interest is described as an Etruscan black figure amphora, attributed to the Micali painter (6th/5th century B.C.) … Here’s a detail:

Check out the official photo … not only is this centaur interesting for having wings, but for having the proper ‘male anatomy’ on its forequarters. I once did a paper on centaurs in ancient art and as far as I was aware, this ‘proper forequarters’ thing came to an end in Mycenean times (maybe Dark Ages). This is an incredible piece and, alas, seems destined for a private collection, so make your screengrabs while you can.

Socrates Going on Trial Again

I first read about this in Greek Reporter a few days ago, but it wasn’t sufficiently detailed for my liking … now ANSA comes through, however:

Have you ever dreamed of having a time machine to travel as you wish into the past and personally witness an historical event? Today, in some ways, this is possible. As a matter of fact the aficionados of great trials will be able to witness online and live the replica of one of the most famous trials in history, the one against the Greek philosopher Socrates which took place about 2500 years ago and ended with the death penalty for the defendant charged with hemlock poisoning. This time there will be new judges in the case and there is the possibility that the final verdict might even be different.

The initiative of repeating the trial, as Kathimerini newspaper reported, came from the Onassis foundation and will take place on May 25 in the prestigious headquarters of the foundation’s cultural centre in Athens. Famous European and American jurists were invited to re-examine the social and legal claims which were taken against Socrates, whereas the final decision will be up to the members of the public which will follow the trial in the courtroom and online.

Socrates had been accused of heresy towards the locals, wanting to introduce new gods and to corrupt the young. He was put on trial by 500 citizens of Athens as jurors and judges and the philosopher was found guilty with a majority of 280 votes and was condemned to death. Historical accounts have told us that Socrates remained tranquil and composed during the whole trial and also after hearing his sentence.

Today, many centuries after his death in 399 BC, the great philosopher is back in the dock. Presenting extensive discussions and talks from both parts, the event is aimed to re-examine the trial based on historical and contemporary accounts, trying to adapt the court case to the modern day standards of public ethics and current perception of justice.

This exchange of judicial arguments also proposes a new approach to Socrates as a Philosopher and to his contribution to the public life of ancient Athens.

A similar virtual trial against Socrates was organised by the Onassis Foundation last May at the Federal Court in New York and ended with his acquittal. Will this year’s verdict be different? Those in defence of Socrates this year will be the British lawyer Michael Beloff and his French colleague Patrick Simon, whereas the lawyers called to represent the Public Ministry and the interests of the city of Athens will be Ilias Anagnostopoulos, lawyer at the Supreme Court and professor at Athens University and the lawyer Anthony Papadimitriou who is also Chairman of the Onassis Foundation.

Taking part in the jury are Sir Richard Aikens and Sir Stephen Sedley, both members of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales; Sophie-Caroline De Margerie, judge of the French State Council; Pierre Delvolve and Francois Terre, both members of the French Academy of Moral and Political Sciences; Stephan Gass, vice-president of the Swiss Court of Appeal; Giuseppe Nay, former president of the Swiss Federal Court; Loretta Preska, Head judge of New York City’s south district; Anna Psarouda-Benaki, professor of criminal law and former president of the Greek Parliament; Vasilleios Rigas, vice-president of the Supreme Court of Athens and Peter Westermann, professor of law at Tubingen University.

The new Socrates virtual trial will be shown live on the website: www.sgt.gr/dikisocrati.

Interestingly, last year — almost to the day — they did a similar thing in New York: Socrates Retried Redux; I don’t think that one was generally available like this one seems to be. If the link up there doesn’t work for you, try this one (I think the above is the actual broadcast and isn’t live yet; the latter link is the Greek homepage for the event). Not sure if this is going to be an English thing or subtitled or what.

From the Italian Press: Major Bust in Italy

Not sure if this will get coverage in English or not … from Il Tempo:

Sono 70 gli indagati nell’inchiesta condotta dai Carabinieri del Nucleo tutela patrimonio culturale di Cosenza che ha consentito di recuperare 17mila reperti archeologici. Le investigazioni hanno preso spunto dall’individuazione di un personaggio della provincia di Crotone, abitualmente dedito alla illecita ricerca sul territorio calabrese e alla commercializzazione di beni di natura archeologica mediante l’aggiudicazione di aste ed inserzioni online. I successivi approfondimenti investigativi hanno consentito di ricostruire la consistenza dell’intero traffico illecito degli ultimi anni e di identificare gli operatori del mercato clandestino di riferimento. A questo punto, sono stati avviati mirati accertamenti finalizzati a stabilire la provenienza dei beni archeologici commercializzati e la loro lecita detenzione. Accertata la presunta illiceita’ dell’attivita’ posta in essere e’ stata eseguita una perquisizione, e successivo sequestro, ordinata dalla Procura della Repubblica di Crotone. L’indagine che e’ stata condotta in varie fasi e localita’ del territorio nazionale ha portato alla denuncia di 70 persone per reati che vanno dalla ricettazione alle violazioni al Testo Unico sui beni culturali. Sono stati sequestrati 16.344 reperti archeologici tra cui oltre 15mila monete in argento e bronzo di epoca magno greca, romana e bizantina; 10 metal detector; 1.200 reperti archeologici, consistenti in vasi ceramici, fibule, anelli, bottoni, pesi da telaio e monili in ceramica; 42 reperti di natura paleontologica. Completati gli esami di rito i reperti archeologici saranno, al piu’ presto, messi a disposizione delle competenti Soprintendenze Archeologiche per consentirne la fruibilita’ pubblica e gli opportuni approfondimenti scientifici.

The gist: of the 17 000 items recovered, 15 000 or so were silver or bronze coins; the remainder were ceramics, pins, loom weights, etc. from Magna Grecia, Roman, and Byzantine times. They appear to have been selling things online in various places …

Roman Jigsaw (Contest too!)

Here’s a nice little timekiller to prevent you from studying for or marking exams … it was mentioned on the Classicists list last week (and there’s a contest!):

Ancient Rome is back on the map. The success of TV shows like Mary Beard’s Meet the Romans has helped viewers rediscover the city and illuminated the streets of Rome in the public’s imagination. Cambridge Journals is proud to publish a number of leading Classics Journals which bring new research and findings to an ever widening audience. Since 2011 we have been privileged to publish the Papers of the British School at Rome (PBSR), a leading journal devoted to research about Italy and Rome from a wide range of disciplines. To help you piece together a more vivid picture of Roman civilisation, we invite you to complete our online jigsaw puzzle.

Those of you who subscribe to the Papers may will have seen the 2011 cover image which features a section of the city from 1570 printed from the hand coloured engraving by Pirro Ligorio. We have taken the full scale image and dismantled Ancient Rome for you to rebuild it- as an online jigsaw puzzle.

Rome wasn’t built in a day?
Give it a try and see how quickly you can rebuild Rome with the PBSR online jigsaw at http://bit.ly/JI671R (hosted by jigsawplanet.com).

As an incentive to complete the puzzle we invite you to send a screenshot of your completed puzzle with time to pbsrjigsaw AT gmail.com. The quickest time will be awarded with a £50 Cambridge University Press books voucher, and the top 5 places will be each awarded a copy of paperback The City in the Roman West, c.250 BC to c.AD 250. Competition closes on June 30th 2012.

Find out more at the Cambridge Journals Blog.

d.m. Crawford Greenewalt

From a Berkeley News Center release:

Crawford Hallock Greenewalt, Jr., emeritus professor of classical archaeology at the University of California, Berkeley, and a leading participant for more than 50 years in the Archaeological Exploration of Sardis in Turkey, died on May 4 at the age of 74.

He passed away in Delaware, due to complications from a brain tumor just over a week after receiving the American Archaeological Institute’s esteemed Bandelier Award for Public Service to Archaeology for his personal and scholarly achievements in the field.

Greenewalt, or “Greenie” as he was known by friends and colleagues, was an expert on Lydian culture and published extensively on the site of Sardis, an ancient city that was the capital of the Lydian Empire and home of King Croesus, famous for his legendary wealth; and later, a capital city under Persian, Roman, and Byzantine rule. He also took part in Turkish excavations at Pitane, Old Smyrna, and Gordion.

While still a graduate student, Greenewalt excavated some of Sardis’s most important monuments, including the monumental Lydian walls on the acropolis of Sardis, and investigated the huge burial mound of Karnıyarık Tepe. He made his first real mark in Sardis in 1960 when he rediscovered the long buried Pyramid Tomb.

His ongoing archaeological work in the field and in the lab is said to have greatly expanded the understanding of Lydian culture, Lydian and Greek pottery, and the chronology of Lydia as well as of the entire Aegean and eastern Mediterranean world.

Greenewalt also supervised the reinstallation of the Sardis galleries in the nearby Archaeological Museum of Manisa, and carried out such gallery projects as a building reconstruction displaying Lydian architectural terra cottas.

Greenewalt was born on June 3, 1937, in Wilmington, Del. His interest in ancient civilization, said to have been sparked when he was just eight years old, never waned.

He was educated at Tower Hill School in Wilmington, Del., and then at Harvard College, where he was awarded a B.A. in 1959, and the University of Pennsylvania, where he received his Ph.D. in 1966.

Greenewalt joined the Sardis Expedition, which is sponsored jointly by the Harvard University Art Museums and Cornell University, as its official photographer in 1959, shortly after graduating from Harvard.

He continued with the expedition every summer. He became its field director in 1976, supervising an international staff of archaeologists, art historians, architects, conservators, object illustrators, anthropologists and others as he kept the project’s focus on the Sardis of King Croesus and the Archaic period. At Sardis, he also trained generations of students in archaeological techniques.

Greenewalt stepped down in 2007, and Nicholas Cahill, a Berkeley alumnus and professor of art history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, took the helm. Cahill, one of Greenewalt’s students, recalled his former professor, mentor and friend fondly.

“In the classroom, he (was) a model of erudition, bringing both a broad range of learning and a deep understanding of the ancient world,” Cahill said.

“Never underestimating the complexities of ancient cultures, he persuaded us not to oversimplify things or be satisfied with superficially convincing incomplete explanations,” Cahill added. “For him, there (was) always another side to the story, and one which did not mix up, but filled out, the rich canvas of ancient Greece, Rome and the Near East.”

In 1966, Greenewalt joined the Classics Department at UC Berkeley, where he taught undergraduate and graduate courses in classical archaeology as well as Greek and Roman art, and seminars in subjects including “comparative destruction layers” from such ancient sites as Gordion and Pompeii.

He was a pillar of the campus’s Graduate Group in Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology (AHMA), and was highly appreciated for his longtime curatorship of Mediterranean archaeology at the campus’s Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology.

Greenewalt was honored in 1993 with the Henry Allen Moe Prize in Humanities by the American Philosophical Society in recognition of his commitment to the humanities as well as for his paper, “When a Mighty Empire Was Destroyed,” and for his role in reconstructing the history of the people of Lydia. He also was awarded honorific memberships in the German Archaeological Institute and the Austrian Archaeological Institute.

Upon his retirement from UC Berkeley in 2010, Greenewalt received the campus’s highest honor, the Berkeley Citation. Awarding the citation on behalf of Chancellor Robert Birgeneau was Andrew Stewart, chair of AHMA and a UC Berkeley professor of classical Archaeology. Stewart, a longtime Greenewalt colleague, noted his “stunning discoveries, his prizewinning publications, his legendary hospitality, his caring mentorship” and the deep respect he received from those who worked alongside him.

“’Greenie’ sets an example of collegiality, dedication, generosity, and integrity that most of us can only try to emulate,” Stewart said.

He is survived by his sister, Nancy G. Frederick, of Wilmington, Del. His brother, David Greenewalt, died in 2003.

A memorial service will held at 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 19, at Christ Church Christiana Hundred in Wilmington, Del.. There will be a campus memorial for Greenewalt in the fall.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Archaeological Exploration at Sardis, Harvard Art Museum, 32 Quincy St., Cambridge, MA 02138.

see also:

… and the AIA has put up a nice tribute page which includes the above video and some reminiscences from colleagues:

ORBIS ~ Definitely Worth a Look (and Continued Use)

The ORBIS project was getting a lot of attention on social media last week, and sadly scrolled down beyond my visual level in my mailbox … happily, however, the fine  folks at Stanford just put out a nice press release describing the project:

Imagine you’re in Rome, it’s 205 CE, and you’ve got to figure out the quickest way to transport wheat to Virunum, in what’s now Austria. Your transportation choices are limited: ox cart, mule, ship or by foot, and your budget is tight. What do you do?

Enter ORBIS: The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World. With it, you can survey the options that would have been available to an ancient Roman in that very predicament with the ease of getting directions via GPS.

Type in your starting point, destination, the goods you need to move, and the time of year. Voila! You can quickly see the most cost-effective way to transport the grain.

By generating new information about the ancient Roman transport network, ORBIS demonstrates how, more than anything else, the expansion of the empire was a function of cost.

ORBIS reconstructs the time spent and financial expense associated with pre-modern travel. By simulating movement along the principal routes of the Roman road network, the main navigable rivers and hundreds of sea routes, the interactive route map recreates the infrastructure of the entire pre-modern Roman world in a way that has never been done before.

Classics Professor Walter Scheidel and Stanford Digital Humanities Specialist Elijah Meeks developed the highly detailed digital model over the last eight months. It was officially launched May 2.

“ORBIS is dynamic, not static, and functions both as a publication and as a tool for the creation of new information,” Scheidel said. By allowing users to experiment with a huge number of data combinations, “it lets users do things that could not be done on the printed page.”

Although historians have plotted the thousands of destinations and the land and sea routes that traversed the three continents of the Roman Empire, ORBIS integrates real-life scenarios that illustrate how the empire was held together through trade routes.

“Traditional maps fail to capture the severe environmental constraints that governed the flows of people, goods and information,” said Scheidel, whose research interests focus on ancient social and economic history.

In recreating an ancient journey, an ORBIS user can take into account seasonal conditions, 14 modes of road travel from camel caravan to military march, different types of ships and various speeds of travel. Together, these factors reveal how the Romans came to perceive time and distance.

Before ORBIS, no one, Scheidel said, had formally visualized or demonstrated this pre-modern system of globalization.

The transportation network is part of a comprehensive website that supports data-driven claims with historical and technical information – what Meeks called a “digital scholarly publication with embedded data-driven arguments.”
Building a digital empire

Scheidel was inspired by seeing an interactive map of the London Tube system that morphs to represent actual travel times rather than distance. He contacted Meeks, who works on digital humanities projects at the Stanford Libraries, and they began to collaborate.

Their primary source material was Emperor Diocletian’s price edict of 301 CE, which provided official declarations of the price of most goods in the Roman Empire. It is, as Scheidel described it, “the largest source of information for what things cost at the time.”

Using the same technology that allows for the Google Maps-like interface, Meeks then set about the work of building an interactive, multi-modal transportation network. His version, however, was designed to distort the Roman world to reflect cost and speed in what is known as a “dynamic distance cartogram.”

The network is organized around 751 sites. Most of them represent urban settlements of the Roman period, supplemented by a number of promontories and other landmarks that were significant for travel. Seaports represent 268 of the sites.

Meeks said ORBIS was built on the “shoulders of giants.” It incorporates existing latitude and longitude data for Roman sites from the Pleiades project (an online gazetteer of ancient places) and the road networks from the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World.

What did not yet exist was an accurate representation of sea travel in antiquity, likely due to the difficulty of creating such a model. Meeks and Scheidel needed a formula that would account for both sea surface and the speed at which the average ship would move across it. Scott Arcenas, one of Scheidel’s graduate students who has extensive sailing experience, helped create a mathematical algorithm that simulates a ship’s movement in different wind conditions.

With the inclusion of hundreds of sea routes in the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and the coastal Atlantic, ORBIS users can produce the cost of a seemingly infinite number of itineraries. The resulting cost simulations can be used to both explore and explain the distribution of cities in the Roman Empire that clustered along coasts and major rivers.

Inland, the price-cost ratio increased much more rapidly than time cost: it was much easier for Romans to march to faraway places and conquer them than to move goods between different regions, unless they were on the coast.

As a result, Scheidel said, “imperial expansion was much easier to accomplish than economic integration. That helps explain why all pre-modern empires were brittle and easily fell apart, and could easily be reconfigured.”

Initial data surveys have already revealed how incredibly important the ocean was to the development and expansion of the Roman Empire.

“The Roman world was a product of the Mediterranean Sea and unthinkable without it,” said Scheidel. “In that respect it differed much from land empires like China, where communication had always been much costlier.”

Using ORBIS results, Scheidel was able to ascertain that freight charges set for 50 sailing routes were clearly “a direct function of sailing time, something that nobody had been able to establish before.”
A work in progress

ORBIS was launched not as a fixed object, but as an interactive platform that Scheidel and Meeks are making available to other scholars and the general public.

The site will be continually updated in response to user feedback. Scholarship that is made possible by the model will be posted on the site itself as open access digital publications.

By adding more data, users can extend the sea surface and apply the model anywhere on the globe, making the model “infinitely expandable,” said Scheidel.

Scheidel anticipates that users will formulate their own questions as they experiment with the site. His hope is that ORBIS will help “create a new approach to our understanding of connectivity in a pre-modern society.”

You can put Orbis through its paces here … there are plenty of handy little videos to get you started but the ‘mapping’ tab is where the business gets done. What I really like about this is that it takes into account things like time of year and whether the ship takes a deep sea or coastal route. There are other variables as well and clearly these are based on the latest scholarly research. It’s interesting, e.g., to note that in August it would only take 20 or so days for a fast sailing ship to get from Rome to Jerusalem, which probably has some implications for all the dating surrounding Philo’s visit to Caligula and all that statue-in-the-temple thing. This will definitely be a useful tool …

Brill Fonts

The folks over at the place that turns out incredibly expensive (it seems to me) books have come out with a realllllllllllllllllllly nice font package. Here’s a bit of their blurb:

After careful consideration, Brill has taken the initiative of designing a typeface. Named “the Brill”, it presents complete coverage of the Latin script with the full range of diacritics and linguistics (IPA) characters used to display any language from any period correctly, and Greek and Cyrillic are also covered. There are over 5,100 characters in all. This indispensable tool for scholars will become freely available later this year for non-commercial use. You will be able to download the font package after agreeing to the End User License Agreement. “The Brill” is available in roman, italic, bold, and bold italic, with all necessary punctuation marks and a wide assortment of symbols. It will be especially welcomed by humanities scholars quoting from texts in any language, ancient or modern. “The Brill” complies with all international standards, including Unicode. John Hudson of Tiro Typeworks, well-known for his multilingual fonts, is the Brill’s designer.

… for those of you wondering, it has macrons and near as I can tell it has ligatures and other sorts of things which Classicists would need in a font. Might be worth checking out (and it will be free, apparently):