Digging Zominthos

Folks might be aware that one of Archaeology Magazine’s ‘Interactive Digs’ is a Minoan site at Zominthos … they’ve been digging there for seven or eight years and have just started putting up the ‘field notes’ for this year’s installment. Most of the brief notes so far have a (raw) video clip accompanying them:

CJ Online Review: Bérard et al., Guide de l’épigraphiste

posted with permission:

François Bérard, Denis Feissel, Nicolas Laubry, Pierre Petitmengin, Denis Rousset, Michel Sève, et al., Guide de l’épigraphiste: Bibliographie choisie des épigraphies antiques et médiévales. 4th Edition. Paris: Rue d’Ulm, 2010. Pp. 448. Paper, €30.00. ISBN 978-2-7288-0443-6.

Reviewed by Gil Renberg, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton

The fourth edition of the Guide de l’épigraphiste, appearing a decade after the last edition in 2000 and a quarter-century after the first edition, is an even more valuable reference tool, since in addition to its inclusion of ten years’ worth of new bibliography it also includes older works that were omitted from the third edition. The new Guide presents 2975 entries, and overall the work has grown by nearly 400 entries, with obsolete studies having been removed in addition to new ones having been included. The Guide is particularly useful for those engaging in epigraphical research due to its nearly comprehensive geographical listing of corpora and other works in which Greek and Latin inscriptions are edited or presented, but the part that is arranged thematically will be useful to all ancient historians as well as scholars in a number of related fields. Thus despite its title it is not a work from which only epigraphers can benefit, but rather one for all manner of ancient historians, classicists, historical linguists, archaeologists, art historians, and numismatists, among others.

Roughly 900 of the entries comprise the geographical survey, which for every political and geographical region begins with the primary corpus (usually part of Inscriptiones Graecae or the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum) and then provides references for secondary corpora (e.g., corpora devoted to sub-regions, individual cities, or museum collections), journal articles in which epigraphical materials not yet included in corpora have appeared, and other pertinent publications limited to that area. The result is that for any region or urban area in the whole of the Latin West and Greek East as well as more distant lands in which the presence of the Greeks or Romans is epigraphically attested (e.g., Afghanistan, Armenia, Nubia) one can immediately find the most important work or works devoted to the Greek and Latin inscriptions found there. The chronological span of this survey is likewise broad, extending to 1453 C.E. for Greek inscriptions and the beginning of the Merovingian era for Latin inscriptions. A later chapter for “Épigraphies périphériques,” featuring just under 700 entries, serves as a complement, surveying epigraphical sources for the languages of the different civilizations that preceded, interacted with, or were ruled by the Greeks and Romans (e.g., Celtic, Coptic, Etruscan, Lycian, Minoan and Mycenaean, Semitic). The Guide also provides extensive coverage of thematic works devoted to the major areas of ancient studies, including diplomatic and political history, literature, economics and domestic economy, military affairs, law and governmental institutions, architecture, sculpture, athletics and spectacles, and religion. Several shorter chapters are devoted to basic works and studies that are important primarily for scholars engaged in epigraphical work: introductions and handbooks; volumes of select inscriptions; reference tools covering chronology, prosopography, paleography, onomastics, and other subjects that are frequently pertinent to the study of individual texts; collections of reprinted articles by prominent epigraphers; and so on. While the main audience for the book is scholars who are actively engaged in epigraphical research, the bibliographical surveys that are not specifically epigraphical will make the Guide prove useful to a much broader scholarly community.

The book is designed to be a straightforward reference tool, and the authors have succeeded in this goal. The arrangement in terms of chapters and sections is logical and intuitive, and the three indexes (author, geography, subject) are thorough and helpful. Moreover, though annotation is relatively sparse it is usually essential, providing information about a work’s scope if that is not obvious from the title, as well as pertinent bibliography such as book reviews or supplementary studies. Among the most valuable contributions of the Guide, however, is one not to be found within its pages: the team that produces it uses the internet to disseminate a “Supplement” each year in which they present entries for all of the new works as well as some previously overlooked. These are available at the book’s main webpage, http://www.antiquite.ens.fr/ressources/publications-aux-p-e-n-s/guide-de-l-epigraphiste/article/overview. (This URL is for the English version of the website; a link to the otherwise identical French webpage can be found there.) Thus instead of waiting a decade for the next edition, scholars need wait no longer than a year for the Guide to be updated. The Guide’s website also provides other useful materials, including a concordance between the 3rd and 4th editions (http://www.antiquite.ens.fr/IMG/file/pdf_guide_epi/concordance_3_4.pdf) and a file with links to all of the websites covered in the Guide (http://www.antiquite.ens.fr/IMG/file/pdf_guide_epi/sites_www_guide_4.pdf).

Overall, the Guide continues to be among the most fundamental tools for scholars at any stage of a research project involving Greek or Latin epigraphical sources, as well as one of the best sources of bibliography for those engaging in the study of the ancient world.

Parthenon Marbles Discussion Progress?

This just-emerging story seems to be making the rounds of assorted European papers … the only English version, however, is in the Hong Kong Standard:

Greece is holding talks with the British Museum on the return of fragments from the Parthenon Marbles, the director of the Acropolis Museum in Athens said today.
Demetrios Pantermalis said he had made a proposal on the issue at a UNESCO meeting in June and that talks would be held in Athens in the coming weeks, AFP reports.
“I proposed an arrangement to colleagues from the British Museum, involving pieces — hands, heads, legs — that belong to bodies from the Parthenon sculptures and can be reattached,” Pantermalis told Skai Radio. “The proposal has been accepted in principle, we will have a discussion in the autumn.”
Greece has long campaigned for the return of the priceless friezes, removed in 1806 by Lord Elgin when Greece was occupied by the Ottoman Empire and later sold to the British Museum.
The British Museum has turned down successive Greek calls for their return, arguing that the sculptures are part of world heritage and are more accessible to visitors in London.
Inaugurated in June 2009, the new Acropolis Museum includes a section reserved for the disputed collection.
Pantermalis said the Marbles issue remained “taboo” and that the new proposal involving smaller pieces could be a way to “unravel the thread”.
As culture minister in 2009, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras had turned down a British Museum loan offer for the Marbles, arguing that acceptance would “legalise their snatching” by the 19th century British diplomat.
“The government, as any other Greek government would have done in its place, is obliged to turn down the offer,” Samaras had said at the time.
“This is because accepting it would legalise the snatching of the Marbles and the monument’s carve-up,” Samaras said.
British Museum spokeswoman Hannah Boulton had then told Skai Radio that her museum could consider loaning the Marbles to Greece for three months on condition that Athens recognise the museum’s ownership rights to the sculptures.

Skai Radio is a Greek station (if you were wondering) … I’m kind of confused, though … is the idea the BC would lend body parts or that Greece would provide missing parts? Or both? Stay tuned …

Bryn Mawr Classical Reviews

  • 2012.08.37:  Fiorenza Bevilacqua, Memorabili di Senofonte. Classici greci.
  • 2012.08.36:  Bernard Fragu, Arnobe. Contre les gentiles (Contre les païens). Tome VI. Livres VI-VII. Collection des Universités de France série latine, 396.
  • 2012.08.35:  Stephanie Lynn Budin, Images of Woman and Child from the Bronze Age : Reconsidering Fertility, Maternity, and Gender in the Ancient World.
  • 2012.08.34:  Simon Hornblower, Antony Spawforth, Esther Eidinow, The Oxford Classical Dictionary. Fourth edition.
  • 2012.08.33:  Joseph Pietrykowski, Great Battles of the Hellenistic World.
  • 2012.08.32:  Monica Chiabà, Roma e le priscae Latinae coloniae. Polymnia: studi di storia romana, 1.
  • 2012.08.31:  Daniel C. Ullucci, The Christian Rejection of Animal Sacrifice.
  • 2012.08.30:  Brent D. Shaw, Sacred Violence: African Christians and Sectarian Hatred in the Age of Augustine.
  • 2012.08.29:  Dirk Schnurbusch, Convivium: Form und Bedeutung aristokratischer Geselligkeit in der römischen Antike. Historia Einzelschriften, 219.
  • 2012.08.28:  Damien Agut-Labordère, Michel Chauveau, Héros, magiciens et sages oubliés de l’Égypte ancienne: une anthologie de la littérature en égyptien démotique. La roue à livres, 60.
  • 2012.08.27:  Therese Fuhrer, Rom und Mailand in der Spätantike: Repräsentationen städtischer Räume in Literatur, Architektur und Kunst. Topoi. Berlin studies of the ancient world, Bd 4.
  • 2012.08.26:  Frederick Jones, Virgil’s Garden: the Nature of Bucolic Space.

Early Gibbonry

Tip o’ the pileus to John McMahon for pointing us to this one … from an Oxford press release:

A newly-discovered manuscript may represent Edward Gibbon’s earliest experiment in the irony for which he would become famous, an Oxford University English academic has found.

Professor David Womersley of Oxford University’s English Faculty discovered the manuscript written by the 19-year old Edward Gibbon, which had been left in the attic of a house in Lausanne for many years.

The manuscript reveals what may be Gibbon’s earliest use of irony as scholarly polemic – a technique he polished in The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. The full manuscript can be viewed in this week’s Times Literary Supplement.

It also reveals that some memorable turns of phrase in Gibbon’s most controversial use of irony in chapter 15 of The Decline and Fall were borrowed from a Christian apologist writer who had been on the sharp end of Gibbon’s barbs.

‘This new manuscript, although quite short, gives an important insight into the origins of Gibbon’s distinctive ways of thinking and writing,’ said Professor David Womersley.

‘The paper is important because it is perhaps the earliest example of the adolescent Gibbon experimenting with irony for purposes of scholarly polemic – a technique which made The Decline and Fall notorious.’

He added: ‘Exploration of the context of the manuscript leads to the surprising discovery that some memorable turns of phrase in Gibbon’s most controversial use of irony in chapter 15 of The Decline and Fall came from an unexpected source: Lettres sur le déisme by the Swiss academic theologian Jean Salchli, a critique which Gibbon himself criticised.

‘This discovery is striking. A contemporary parallel might be Conservatives using the language of the ‘Third Way’ to attack the policies of Tony Blair.

‘It also suggests that the stylistic roots of Gibbon’s undermining of the Christian religion are not to be found among the enemies of Christianity but rather among its defenders. This may help to explain why orthodox thinkers found The Decline and Fall at once maddening and unanswerable.’

Gibbon’s papers were left in Lausanne, Switzerland after his death in 1794. Most were sent back to England but others remained in private hands. Some of these have now been presented to the Archives de la Ville in Lausanne, where this manuscript had been mis-described, and so overlooked.

It is however identical in size, paper quality and handwriting to the manuscript journal Gibbon kept while touring Switzerland in September and October 1755 (now in the British Library).

Gibbon was born in 1737 and died in 1794. A Member of Parliament and historian, his The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire was published in six volumes between 1776 and 1788.

Professor Womersley said: ‘The Decline and Fall represents the greatest and most sustained act of historical imagination in world literature, so it is fascinating to see how Gibbon’s mental and literary world was furnished and what shaped it.

‘This manuscript is particularly intriguing because it contains the seeds of ideas and styles that would in a few years become enormously important.’

Edward Gibbon attended the University of Oxford at a young age but left when he converted to Roman Catholicism. He later renounced Catholicism and reverted to being a conforming, if undevout, member of the Church of England.

A fuller version of Professor Womersley’s article will be published in an academic journal in the near future. His discovery was made possible by a grant from Oxford University’s John Fell Fund.

Petra (re)Discovery Bicentennial

Tip o’ the pileus to Lindsay Powell for directing us to this article in History Today, marking the bicentennial (August 22, 1812) of the ‘rediscovery’ of Petra by J.L. Burckhardt:

To add to the celebrations — and I’m not sure how long this one will stay on the web once I mention it — here’s the Petra installment from National Geographic’s Ancient Megastructures series (focussing on the construction of the Khazneh/Treasury):