CFP: (Re)Constructing the Past: Abandonment and Renewal in the Ancient World

DEADLINE EXTENDED! Deadline for abstract submission extended to Friday, December 14, 2012!

Call for Papers: (Re)Constructing the Past: Abandonment and Renewal in the Ancient World

Graduate Student Conference, February 22-23, 2013
Department of Classical Studies, University of Michigan

Keynote Speaker: Professor Karl Galinsky, University of Texas at Austin

Modern conceptions of the ancient world are often dominated by images of destruction and abandonment, concretized in the ruins of ancient structures or fragments of lost texts. But ruin in the ancient world is almost always accompanied by eventual renewal, a regeneration or remembrance of the thing lost, abandoned, or destroyed.

The 2013 interdisciplinary conference in Classical Studies is open to graduate students studying the history, literature, art, and archaeology of the ancient Mediterranean and will focus on cycles of desertion, ruin, and rebuilding in the ancient world. We invite papers on the abandonment of cities, buildings, and regions, the abandonment of literary genres and styles, the abandonment of ideas and religious practices and beliefs, and the modern abandonment of interpretative theories, as well as the memory of and responses to such abandonment. We welcome papers addressing how and why deserted objects and ideas are reconstructed, as well as the effects of rebuilding on individuals, society, material culture, and literature. Potential topics also include the historical and literary trope of moral or artistic decline, the literary topos of abandoned women, themes of regret and nostalgia, and the subject of exile. Submissions dealing with issues of reception and adaptation, including the reuse and reappropriation of abandoned buildings, objects, texts, laws, or ideas are also encouraged.

Please submit an abstract of no more than 300 words by December 14, 2012 via email as a PDF attachment to classicsgradconference AT In your email please include the presenter’s name, institution, email address, phone number, and any A/V needs. Please omit identifying information from the actual abstract document. Accepted presenters will be notified in early January 2013. Food and lodging will be provided for presenters.

Nuntii Latini (YLE)

Separatistae in Catalonia victores

In comitiis Cataloniae partes politicae, quae ad independentiam spectant, maiorem partem delegatorum in parlamentum regionale acceperunt. Nihilo minus separatio Cataloniae non est probabilis, ut factiones principales iam nuntiaverunt. Inopia quaestus et depressio oeconomica usque gravescens voluntatem separationis apud Catalanos auxerunt.

Catalonia ex partibus Hispaniae oeconomiam habet validissimam, sed multi Catalani censent causam difficultatum oeconomicarum, quibus illi quoque gravantur, in eo esse, ut nimia pars pecuniarum regionis Matritum delabatur. Regimen Hispaniae centrale voluntati separatistarum vehementer resistit et habet proposita ad secessionem spectantia illegalia et constitutioni Hispaniae contraria.

Alia: Mursi novus pharao appellatus … Arafat exhumatus … Medvedev aurigas ebrios coercet …Tigres pauciores quam umquam ante …In Utsjoki sol disparuit

H-Net Review of Lendon, Song of Wrath

 Lendon, J. E., Song of Wrath: The Peloponnesian War Begins. H-War, H-Net Reviews. November, 2012.

Reviewed by Joseph Frechette (University of Maryland)
Published on H-War (November, 2012)
Commissioned by Margaret Sankey


J. E. Lendon’s engaging new history of the Ten Years or Archidamian War, that is, the first phase of what we have come to refer to as the Peloponnesian War, sets itself to what seems at first glance a formidable task. Disdaining Thucydides’ analysis that the “truest cause” of the war was the fear that Athens’ increasing power was inspiring in the Spartans, Lendon looks instead to the aitiai (charges) and diaphoroi (disputes) that the great historian so famously eschewed. He builds here on an earlier article in which he posited that a Homeric concern for honor and revenge were driving factors in the outbreak of Greek wars and sets out to test the theory against the history of the Archidamian War.[1] In Lendon’s estimation, cities’ sense of timē (honor), whether stemming from a mythological past or practical accomplishments, could be totted up and compared with real-world results. Thus, Greek poleis acted out of anger and concern for timē as much as out of rational interest when they made war on each other. Tragically, what one city saw as the taking of just revenge for another’s hybris (insult), could in itself be viewed as a disproportionate act of hybris and treasured up as the cause of future conflict, inspiring and perpetuating interminable cycles of war. Concern for cities’ relative ranking with regard to timē and whether or not they were treated with the correct level of respect or deference in the fluid environment of interstate relations only created greater opportunity for hybris and revenge.

Ironically, in such an environment, Lendon suggests that the appearance and rhythm of reprisal were as important as its reality. Poleis tried to carefully modulate their vengeance so as not to spiral out of control into hybris. Rather, the goal of this tit-for-tat cycle of violence was to either preserve or revise the combatants’ relative honor ranking in the eyes of the Greeks. Thus, Athens sought to force Sparta to accept her equality in honor while Sparta fought vindicate her superiority. To this end, Athens took care to retaliate for the annual Spartan ravages to Attica by amphibious raids around the Peloponnese and shaming the Spartans wherever possible. If Athens could not match Sparta in the virtue of andreia (bravery) in outright hoplite battle, they could surpass them in the competing virtues of charis (reciprocity) and mētis (guile). In essence, Lendon seeks to explain why the ancients approved of Pericles’ strategy, which, by modern lights, often seems half-hearted.

Lendon also seeks to rescue Thucydides from the realists and present a rereading of the Archidamian War in which honor, rather than fear or interest, is the dominant element in the remarkable trinity of Thuc. 1.75 and 1.76. Despite the comfortable familiarity that modern realists find in the importance of dynamis (power) in Thucydides’ analysis of the war’s outbreak, in the later sections of his history, such reasoning is generally placed in the mouths of reprehensible figures while Thucydides’ own analysis is more often expressed in terms of rank–that is, relative levels of timē. Whatever Thucydides’ theory behind the special case of the outbreak of the war, Lendon argues that Thucydides knew, and described in the rest of his work, a world in which honor and revenge rather than realist calculus governed affairs.

One is reminded of G. E. M. de Ste Croix’s assertion that, on occasion, Thucydides’ “editorials” are contradicted by his “news reports.”[2] Although other scholars have applied the notion of a pivot point away from the realism of Book 1, Lendon sets himself apart by suggesting this was not necessarily due to some literary or didactic strategy on Thucydides’ part, but cultural factors.[3] Thucydides simply described the world as he knew it and the events as he saw them. Once we relieve ourselves of the comfortable, but facile notion of Thucydides as a modern realist, and try to set him and his history in the context of his own times and ethos, Lendon believes that the cycle of anger and revenge leap into high relief. The notion of Thucydides’ archaic sensibilities is not new, but Lendon makes the case with specific reference to his analysis of Greek interstate politics.[4]

In order to emphasize this point, Lendon adopts an interesting and engaging rhetorical style. He provides the reader with a narrative of the Archidamian War as he imagines the romantic Herodotus would have composed it rather than the austere Thucydides. To that end, he not only writes with verve and panache, but includes local myths and legends, sometimes anachronistically, in order to give a sense of the traditional values he believes to have been at work. The result may be debated as a matter of taste. However, this reviewer was delighted. This is not the dreary tome that is so often the product of academic scholarship, but is in fact a joy to read. Lendon wears his erudition lightly, although his extensive endnotes and appendix on the source material will be read with profit in their own right. His facility with the English language is of the sort usually drubbed out of historians in graduate school.

Overall, undergraduates and the general public will be able to rely on an accessible and well-written synthesis of the current scholarship, while specialists will profit from an old tale retold very well with an engaging new perspective.


[1]. J. E. Lendon, “Homeric Vengeance and the Outbreak of Greek Wars,” in War and Violence in Ancient Greece, ed. Hans Van Wees (London: Duckworth, 2000), 1-30.

[2]. G. E. M. de Ste. Croix, “The Character of the Athenian Empire,” Historia 3 (1954): 1–41.

[3]. For example, Robert W. Connor, Thucydides (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984), 63-75; and Josiah Ober, “Thucydides Theoretikos/Thucydides Histor: Realist Theory and the Challenge of History,” in War and Democracy: A Comparative Study of the Korean War and the Peloponnesian War, ed. D. R. McCann and B. S. Strauss (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2001), 273-306.

4. Lowell Edmunds, “Thucydides’ Ethics as Reflected in the Description of Stasis,” HSCP 79 (1975) 73-92.

Mithraeum Reopening to the Public

From the Art Newspaper:

Few people have ever visited the long network of underground tunnels under the public baths of Caracalla, which date back to the third century AD and are considered by many archaeologists to be the grandest public baths in Rome. This underground network, which is due to be reopened in December, is also home to a separate structure, the largest Mithraeum in the Roman Empire, according to its director Marina Piranomonte. The Mithraeum has just reopened after a year of restoration work which cost the city’s archaeological authorities around €360,000.

To celebrate the reopening, Michelangelo Pistoletto has installed his conceptual work Il Terzo Paradiso (the third heaven), which he first presented at the 2005 Venice Biennale, in the gardens surrounding the public baths. The work, made of ancient stone fragments and pieces of columns arranged in a triple loop, represents the harmonious union of the natural and technological worlds, according to the artist. It will be on view until 6 January 2013.

Mithraeums were places of worship for initiates of the religious cult of Mithraism, which was centred around the Persian god Mithra and practiced throughout the Roman empire from around the first to the fourth centuries AD. A Mithraeum would usually exist underground, either in a cavern or beneath existing buildings, and was traditionally dark and windowless.

The conservation problems began when skylights were installed. The presence of sunlight coupled with the circulation of air altered the underground microclimate and caused algae to grow on the walls as well as water gathering in the 25 metre-long central hall. During the works the skylights were sealed shut, a collapsed vault was restored and the walls and flooring were cleaned. A lighting system was also been installed to compensate for the closure of the skylights.

The Mithraeum was discovered a century ago and was almost entirely devoid of decoration. Only a small and poorly conserved fresco of Mithra remained, although the site had other significant features including the fossa sanguinis, a two-and-a half-metres-deep square pit in which new initiates would be lowered to receive the blood of a specially sacrificed bull.

The Mithraeum is due to be connected with the other branches of the underground network to form a single visitors route, although two further adjacent spaces have still to be restored before this can happen. Restoration work is expected to take around two more years.

One thing I’ve been meaning to look into is to try to get a handle on how many “Mithraeums” there were in Rome … just a stone’s throw away from this one (I think) is one near the Circus Maximus.

Another Necropolis in Bulgaria

The finds are from various periods, but it sounds like this find might lead to more within our purview. From Novinite:

A necropolis with over 100 burials has been unearthed during archaeological excavations near the village of Marten in northern Bulgaria.

The discovery was made by the archaeologist from the Archaeology Museum in the Danube city of Ruse, Deyan Dragoev.

The necropolis is on the path of the future gas connection between Bulgaria and Romania.

The site includes tombs from the Thracian times to the times of the First Bulgarian Kingdom. The oldest ones date from the 5th – 4th centuries B.C. Some reveal very interesting rites such as the tomb of a decapitated soldier, whose head was laid on his lap, while others have been buried with gold and silver jewelry or with their dogs.

Some skeletons have deformed skulls, which have been typical for the First Bulgarian Kingdom as a sign of high position in society and of nobility. Noble children then had their heads tightened with headbands in order to change the form of the skull, experts say.

Remnants include wooden coffins, and ceramics and glass from Roman times.

The two Thracian tombs, according to archaeologists, show that a Thracian settlement, unknown until now, has been located nearby.

On Wednesday, the Ruse archaeologists sent bone material for analysis at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

Dyslexia and Ancient Greek

Tip o’ the pileus to Graham Shipley, who mentioned this study on the Classicists list … here’s the abstract of an article by Kate Chanock:

This paper recounts the process by which a severely reading-disabled adult student taught himself to read and write Ancient Greek, and in so doing, improved his ability to read and write in English. Initially, Keith’s reading and writing were slow, difficult and inaccurate, accompanied by visual disturbance. However, motivated by a strong interest in Ancient Greek literature and philosophical ideas, Keith enlisted me (his Faculty’s academic skills adviser) to help him learn the language. Working on transliteration focused Keith’s attention on the alphabetic principle separately from meaning, while practising translation focused on the formal markers of meaning. Relieved of the stress of performing under pressures of time and others’ expectations, Keith made good progress with Greek and, after 6 months, found himself reading more fluently in English, without visual disturbance. This paper seeks to contribute to our knowledge of how adults learn to read, looking at the interplay of motivation, phonological awareness, knowledge of how form conveys meaning, and the learning environment. It both draws upon, and raises questions for, the neuroscientific study of dyslexia.

Classical Words of the Day


CJ Online Review: Hägg, Art of Biography in Antiquity

posted with permission:

The Art of Biography in Antiquity. By Tomas Hägg. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Pp. xv + 496. Hardcover, £70.00/$110.00. ISBN 978-1-107-01669-9.

Reviewed by Joseph Geiger, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

This book is neither an enquiry into the evolution of the genre of ancient biography (if such it was) nor a step-by-step analysis of the remnants of lost works that may throw some light on surviving ones. Hägg does not intend to emulate the works of Leo or Momigliano, but is offering instead a very different book: it consists of detailed discussions of all extant works[[1]] (or well chosen examples of them in cases of lengthy series) that have as their subject the life of a person, and only occasional examinations of works known only from fragments; the emphasis is on literary analysis and criticism. “The primary purpose of the present study is to interpret the surviving texts” (68–9). Art, for some reason appearing in a smaller font on the dust-jacket, is written large in this book.

Hägg casts his net very wide: he discusses the art of biographical writing rather than the very loosely defined genre of biography, in other words, instead of worrying much about the definition of biography, it is the practice of biographical writing and the development of the literary art dealing with the life of a person that are the focus of this book; according to Hägg, “[b]iography is more subject matter than form” (3). It is not so much influences we are after, but the accretion of the elements that eventually make for full-fledged biographies, prefiguring their modern descendants, of whom the author indeed never loses sight. In his wide sweep we proceed from Ion of Chios and Xenophon’s three works, Memorabilia, Evagoras and Cyropaedia through the fragments of Hellenistic biography, the “open biographies” of Aesop and Alexander and the Lives of Homer, to the Gospels, the Roman biographers Nepos and Suetonius, Nicolaus of Damascus, Plutarch, Lucian, Philostratus and the Late Antique Lives of philosophers, with much more on the way. Once we accept the author’s terms, this is an excellent book. The analyses of the works, accompanied by sizeable extracts (Greek is kept to the footnotes), are lucid, the discussions well informed and to the point, and the book abounds in valuable insights.

Obviously in a book of this scope every reader will find points to differ (as, e.g., Hägg’s occasional disagreement with the present reviewer). However, it will be more productive to limit the discussion to the author’s method. His justly praised The Novel in Antiquity (Oxford: Basil Blackwell; Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983) had a somewhat easier task: though also discussing extensively a variety of works on the fringes, the core of the “canonical” (our canon) Greek and Roman novels has never been doubted. In the present book the definition of biography, or even of biographical writing, is so loose as to admit, e.g., a long discussion (117–34) of the Alexander Romance, a work that has already been covered, at only somewhat lesser length, in the (much shorter) book on the novel.

Our gain from this book is clear, and should not be underestimated: not only a great number of sensible, and often excellent, descriptions and analyses of many works of Greek and Latin literature, but also an admirable overview of one aspect of classical literature spanning almost its entire length. It is also an asset that, as in the book on the novel, it was possible to treat Greek and Latin literature under the same cover, while not losing sight of the differences between Greek and Roman. This is arguably the best modern analysis of ancient biography, or biographical writing, as a modern reader may understand it. On the other hand since Hägg almost totally eschews theoretical questions and definitions, we are left as unenlightened as we were before as to whether the ancients, or any ancients, had a clear notion of biography or biographical writing. Did bios or vita in the title raise definite expectations in the prospective reader, expectations that were not present in the absence of these terms? Our understanding of ancient biographical writing and of many important works has been much advanced, our concept of the ancients’ notion of biography much less so.

This book will prove useful both to the uninitiated, who will benefit also from the most handy section of “Further Reading,” and to specialist classical scholars, few of whom will have the range Hägg displays in the book and in the bibliography. The death of the author shortly after the delivery of the manuscript to the publisher is a real loss to scholarship. We must be grateful to Stephen Harrison, who saw this flawlessly produced book through the press.


[[1]] Surprisingly the fourteen short Lives of women, discussed in D. Gera, Warrior Women: The Anonymous Tractatus De Mulieribus (Leiden–New York–Cologne: E. J. Brill, 1997), are never mentioned, thus missing virtually the only opportunity to treat such biographies.

Latest Repatriation Issue: Orpheus Mosaic in Dallas

From Hurriyet:

Archaeologists are hopeful that Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay will announce the return of the Orpheus Mosaic to Turkey from the Dallas Museum of Art in the U.S. on the eve of new year, daily Hürriyet reported.

Günay had previously hinted that the ministry would return a specific historical artifact that was originally discovered in Turkey but was subsequently taken abroad, without specifying which item it would be. Rumors in the archaeology world suggest that it will be the Orpheus Mosaic, which was smuggled from the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa in 1950.

A delegation from the Culture and Tourism Ministry has reportedly left for Chicago for the handover process, and will return to Turkey on Dec. 5 with the Orpheus Mosaic.

Dallas Museum of Art Director Jill Bernstein has said they will issue an official statement on the subject next month.

The Orpheus Mosaic (A.D. 194) is known as the earliest Edessa mosaic that archaeologists have dated so far. Edessa is the Hellenistic name given to Şanlıurfa.

The mosaic was taken abroad by smugglers after its discovery by J.B. Segal in 1950 in Şanlıurfa. Turkey’s Aktüel Arkeoloji (Contemporary Archaeology) magazine earlier this year launched a campaign to return the Orpheus Mosaic back to Turkey.

Also Seen: Roman Medicine (pre-Greek)

The latest Carnivalesque is out and, as always, is very scant in terms of the ancient side of things (I really don’t know why … our Blogosphere posts should indicate that there’s a heckuva lot to choose from) but what it does include is very interesting … a post by Helen King on Roman Medicine prior to (more or less) the ‘Greek takeover’ of the discipline (in Rome):

CFP: Representions of Space and Place

Domesticating Reality: Representations of Space and Place in Antiquity

Graduate Student Conference
Department of Classics
University of Toronto
20-21 April, 2013

Keynote speaker: Lisa Nevett, University of Michigan

The interplay between culture and space in ancient thought is manifested in many ways. Not only are artistic and literary features envisioned and understood in spatial terms, but physical spaces are also imagined and explored through cultural expression. This interaction is found in all forms of the representation of spaces – textual, verbal, pictoral, architectural. Alex Purves’ recent study of space and narrative highlights this approach: "Plot’s spatial legacy is pervasive in ancient Greek thought, where songs might be conceived as pathways, logoi as routes, writing as the movement of oxen turning back and forth across a field with a plough…, narratives as pictures or landscapes, and plots even as living creatures that take up set areas of space."

As scholars of Classical antiquity, we find ourselves at the mercy of representation to shape and inform our understanding of spaces – landscapes, buildings, voyages, rooms – which are no longer knowable by any other means. At the same time, our understanding of cultural expression is often enriched by our ability to comprehend it in spatial terms.

We invite graduate students working in any area of Classical studies (such as literary criticism, history, archaeology, science, philosophy, social history, and philology) to submit papers exploring the various means by which space was represented in antiquity. How was space conceived, constructed, and defined in the Greek and Roman worlds? How were differences in spaces and places articulated? How was their use represented?

Some further possible themes to explore include:

-Abstraction: How is space conceptualised in ancient sciences such as geometry, astronomy, geography, and astrology?
-Scale: How do cartographic or proto-cartographic representations negotiate issues related to the size of the subject? (The microcosm and the miniature.)
-Rhetoric: How do the spaces and places invoked function in discourse? How do particular ritually, historically, or mythologically relevant places resonate in various genres?
-Mobility: What is the effect of movement through space? How do travel and representations of real or imagined journeys articulate differences and universalities? (Ethnography, alterity, regional specificity.)
-Polarities: What frequently appearing dichotomies are built on spatial concepts? (Public & private, home & away, liminal & centripetal.)
-Formalities: What formal techniques do poets, painters, and other ancient artists employ to represent and construct space and places? (Ekphrasis, pastoral, space as literary trope.)

We ask that abstracts of no more than 300 words be submitted as email attachments (.doc/.pdf) to utoronto.grad.classics AT no later than January 21st, 2013. Papers will be allotted 20 minutes, plus 10 minutes for discussion.

CJ Online Review: Pullen, Nemea Valley Archaeological Project I

posted with permission:

Nemea Valley Archaeological Project Volume I: The Early Bronze Age Village of Tsoungiza Hill. By Daniel J. Pullen. Princeton: The American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 2011. Pp. xxxix + 1047. Hardcover, $150.00. ISBN 978-0-87661-922-3.

Reviewed by Erika Weiberg, Uppsala University

This volume succeeds in the full integration of all material from the Early Bronze Age (EBA) periods on the Tsoungiza hill, located in the district of Corinthia in the north-eastern Peloponnese. It is the final publication of the excavations by James Penrose Harland in 1926–1927 and the re-excavation and extension of his work by the Nemea Valley Archaeological Project (NVAP) in 1984–1986, as well as of the work done by Pullen (in collaboration with Robert Bridges) under the scepter of University of California at Berkeley (UBC). The result is a highly detailed and comprehensive publication (the first of a scheduled pair, the second concerning the Middle and Late Bronze Age occupation at Tsoungiza, being in preparation).

The archaeological and environmental frameworks are outlined in Chapter 1 (Introduction) and are followed by a presentation of the scanty remains from the Neolithic period (primarily Final Neolithic, FN; Chapter 2). Also the EH I period (Chapter 3) was most likely a “small-scale affair” (51), with no preserved architecture and the analysis based instead on the material from a number of pits and a cistern. Being mostly representative of late EH I habitation, however, the results work well with the results from the following EH II Initial period (Chapter 4) in giving valuable evidence of the so far little known EH I/II transition. Most interesting is the short discussion on the potential transitional character of EH I Pit 32 defined by the “odd combinations of EH I fabrics with EH II surface treatments” (55f., 89f.). The bulk of the material from the EH II Initial period derives from the so called “1982 House A” (to distinguish it from the chronologically later House A excavated by Harland). The structure stood isolated and the rich material, consisting of a large amount of pottery, especially small bowls, numerous fire dogs and terracotta whorls indicate a non-domestic use and on-site consumption of meat.

As noted by Pullen, “the differences between the EH II Initial period and the succeeding EH II Developed period are not great at first” (200). This transitional phase, preceding the full introduction of the classic EH II sauceboat, is evident both in the 1982 House A, and in Pit 56 assigned to the EH II Developed phase 1 (254f.) with its remarkable deposit of an assemblage for eating and/or drinking, long since on display in the Archaeological Museum of Nemea. The term EH II Developed (Chapter 5) is in part used to indicate the lack of a Late phase at Tsoungiza, but also to emphasize the completed introduction of classic EH II traits. Of considerable interest is the detailed account of the context relating to the monumental House A on the crown of the hill due to both its chronological and geographical relevance for the development of the so called corridor house architecture of later EH II. The discussion is the latest, but most likely not the last, in the debate on this specific type of architecture. This reviewer finds especially thought-provoking the suggestion that the early presence of an open court, which could in some sense have guided the somewhat awkward location of House A over a sharp rise in the ground, giving this open area potential precedence over any nearby structures (268, 281; with reference to similar histories at nearby Lerna).

The analysis of the EH III period (Chapter 6) relies to a very large extent on the documentation of Harland, as little remained to be re-examined by NVAP. EH III at Tsoungiza consisted of a densely built community of primarily domestic nature spanning most of the EH III period. The lack of good stratigraphic sequences, however, means that the chronological designations are heavily dependent on the pottery sequences established by Jeremy Rutter for Lerna IV. Based on the fact that that the Lerna material was extensively weeded at and after the time of excavation, while all was retained at Tsoungiza, some interesting comments on similarities and differences could still be made (such as the much lower frequency for drinking vessels at Tsoungiza than at Lerna, and the very high frequency of pattern-painted pottery at Lerna).

Among the figures and ornaments (Chapter 7) the human figurines and yoked oxen stand out, the latter already often discussed in relation to agriculture and societal complexity. Chapter 8 on textiles includes a detailed discussion of mat- and textile impressions and the interesting new suggestion of the enigmatic terracotta anchor-shaped objects being used as suspended distaffs for holding the unspun fibers while spinning in specific locations. Spindle whorls are especially numerous, and in all, textile production is credibly presented as having been a common activity at Tsoungiza. In comparison, the miscellaneous finds in metal, stone and bone (Chapter 9) are meager (the already well-known lead seal the extraordinary exception), and the chapter comes out as a somewhat awkward, but perhaps necessary, interlude between the two preceding and the three following chapters.

Chapters 10–12 present the chemical and lead isotope analyses (by Maria Kayafa, Zofia Stos-Gale, and Noel Gale), the chipped stone industry (by Anna Karabatsoli) and the ground stone tools (a preliminary report, by Kathleen Krattenmaker). All three chapters include findings that are interpreted as indications of Tsoungiza as a geographically isolated settlement: no copper from the Cycladic islands, only already partially reduced obsidian cores recovered, and a low number of andesite objects. These results stand somewhat at odds with the early introduction of other features, such as the seal and incipient monumental architecture and this seems an interesting avenue for further research.

The two final specialist chapters, 13–14, deal with the faunal remains (by Paul Halstead) and the palaeoethnobotany (by Julie M. Hansen and Susan E. Allen). Although both materials are of moderate size, in combination the two chapters present most informative and detailed analyses of subsistence practices at Tsoungiza. Both faunal and botanical remains indicate an economy based on small-scale mixed farming. Evidence suggests on-site butchering, food preparation and consumption by both small-sized and large scale social gatherings, and a diet that beyond meat consisted primarily of barley and lentils, with addition of high percentage of figs and of acorns. There are further interesting observations made regarding tool marks on bones and a most usable appendix on species of plants remains from FN-EH III Tsoungiza.

Pullen’s research on social organization and socio-economic complexity is evident in interpretative passages and longer discussions throughout the book, and makes for an interesting read. The Tsoungiza material proves to be a valuable and much needed source of information on chronological grey-zones and a tool for visualizing the workings of cultural transformations. Although a more synthesized discussion on chronology would have been helpful, the specific clarifications by Pullen makes clear (Chapter 15: Conclusion, and elsewhere) that the Tsoungiza material, unfortunately, cannot help to clarify issues of the FN/EH transition, nor that of the EH II/III transition. It is rightly emphasized instead that the two chronological transitions that have been helped are those of the EH I/II transition and the earlier phases of EH II.

The publication of the EBA village on Tsoungiza hill holds a richness of information (prolifically illustrated and above all tabulated, including appendices and concordances) that is likely to inspire in turn many further works on the nature of the EBA societies for decades to come, for many types of specialist and interpretative scholars alike. With the information presented in this publication there is at present not so much to suggest that early EH II Lerna and Tiryns, despite being located on the coast, were significantly better placed or supplied than Tsoungiza, or necessarily hierarchically superior.

Severan Era Coin Hoard from Plovdiv

From the Sofia Globe:

Archaeologists working at the Odeon site in Bulgaria’s second city of Plovdiv have found 40 silver coins said to date from the third century CE when the city was under Roman rule.

The coins were said by archaeologists to have been minted during the Severan dynasty, while ruled from 193 to 235 CE and variously feature images of four different emperors.

The Odeon site, dating from the second to fifth centuries, is the location of a Roman-era theatre, and is smaller in scale than Plovdiv’s well-known ancient theatre in the city’s Old Town.

The coins were found near the complex of administrative buildings at the northern end of the forum complex.

This archaeological season, more than 600 coins have been excavated at Plovdiv’s Odeon site. From the Hellenic era, there have been many finds of pottery.

At the Odeon site, a marble eagle was found earlier in 2012, and is estimated to date from the second to third century. Maya Martinova, head of the dig at the site, said that the eagle was of a type from the interiors of public buildings, and along with finds of marble columns and other items, was proof of the luxurious interiors of buildings in Phillipopolis, a prosperous city at the time.

The Odeon site has also seen finds of tiles depicting theatrical masks and Roman pottery. The coins include some with the images, respectively, of the emperors Geta and Caracalla, minted in ancient Sofia and in ancient Plovdiv at the end of the second and beginning of the third centuries. [...]

Some previous coverage of this dig:

Classical Words of the Day