Save the Gladiator Tomb!

T’other day we mentioned that Italy plans to rebury to so-called ‘Gladiator Tomb’ found a few years ago due to lack of funds (‘Gladiator Tomb’ to be Reburied? (‘Gladiator Tomb’ to be Reburied?) … although I didn’t say it at the time, although reburial of monuments to preserve them is not uncommon, this one seems a bit short-sighted. You have to think that the tourist potential of this would be huge … On a more practical side, the site really has not been studied and so the fine folks at the AIRC have set up a petition urging the powers-that-be to reconsider the reburial plans. The goal is to get 5000 signatures and so far they’re sitting at 639 (as of this writing, of course). Check out (and perhaps sign) the petition here:

[n.b. after you sign, you are taken to a screen asking for a donation to the petition company; it might appear to you that you have to pay to sign, but you have already signed]

Female Genital Mutilation in Rome?

There’s a piece from Discovery going around right now with a focus on the origins of female genital mutialtion. Inter alia:

While the term infibulation has its roots in ancient Rome, where female slaves had fibulae (broochs) pierced through their labia to prevent them from getting pregnant, a widespread assumption places the origins of female genital cutting in pharaonic Egypt.

Do we have an ancient source that mentions this? Or is this another case of a Latin word leading someone, somewhere to infer that the practice must have been Roman?

H-Net Revew: Erskine, ‘Roman Imperialism’

Andrew Erskine. Roman Imperialism. Edinburgh Edinburgh University
Press, 2010. xxiv + 208 pp. $115.00 (cloth), ISBN
978-0-7486-1962-7; $37.50 (paper), ISBN 978-0-7486-1963-4.

Reviewed by Jack Wells (Emory and Henry College)
Published on H-War (December, 2012)
Commissioned by Margaret Sankey

Andrew Erskine’s _Roman Imperialism_ provides an overview of how and
why the city-state of Rome conquered the Mediterranean world. The
book is divided into two main parts. The first presents a survey of
recent approaches and issues, and the second gives a selection of
ancient sources in translation. The book will be very useful to the
undergraduate reader who wants to understand the political and social
causes and consequences of Roman expansion, but it does not offer
much to the student of the Roman military.

The first half of the book is divided into five chapters. The first
chapter states the aim of the book, which is to explain "how [the
Roman] empire was acquired, conceived and maintained and how the
subject responded to it" (p. 1). Erskine also discusses Rome’s own
terminology for "empire" and gives an overview of the primary sources
on the topic.

The second chapter offers a chronological survey of Rome’s conquests,
starting with its domination of Italy and concluding with the major
territorial acquisitions under the empire. Erskine is correct to
point out that the majority of Rome’s conquests took place during the
period of the Republic (509-30 BC), but he treats the empire (30
BC-AD 476) in a cursory manner, mentioning in passing Claudius’s
conquest of Britain and Trajan’s campaigns in Dacia. Erskine
relegates Roman imperial history to the sidelines, which is perhaps
necessary, given the nature of our surviving sources and the demand
for brevity. Readers wanting a detailed examination of the empire
will have to look elsewhere.

The third chapter is particularly valuable and discusses various
explanations that have been offered by ancient and modern scholars
for what motivated the Romans to undertake wars of conquest.
Erskine’s historiographic overview is thoughtful, and his criticisms
of the scholarship are on point but usually not heavy-handed. He
outlines the three main approaches that modern scholars have used to
explain Roman expansion: wars to defend Rome and its allies, the
militarism of Roman politics and society, and war for economic gain.
He most sharply criticizes the so-called defensive imperialists, the
most important of whom, he points out, did not use the term
"defensive imperialism" in their own writings. He suggests that
Western imperialism made scholars of the early twentieth century more
inclined to put a positive spin on Roman motives for conquest. He
describes the blind spots in the arguments of those who employ the
latter two approaches, but does not attempt to impose his own
viewpoint on the reader.

The fourth chapter outlines how Roman rule transformed the provinces
culturally and socially and how Rome’s rule was viewed by the
inhabitants of the empire. Because our best sources for this topic
come from the era after the accession of Augustus, it is here that
Erskine devotes most of his attention to the imperial period. Erskine
discusses how Greeks, Jews, and Gauls adapted to Roman rule and how
far they were able to accommodate themselves to Roman overlords. He
describes how Roman culture spread throughout the empire, explains
why provincial cities were eager to build temples to Roman emperors
and to Rome itself, and outlines the major revolts against Roman

The fifth chapter explores how acquiring an empire transformed Rome
and the Romans. Erskine discusses the problem of managing an empire
of about fifty million with only about 160 high-ranking officials and
points out that much administrative business was left to local
elites. He argues that imperialism changed Rome into a city of
marble, transformed the rest of Italy, and helped bring about the end
of the Republic.

All this is a lot to accomplish in eighty-seven pages, so Erskine has
to be cursory and could not cover everything. One obvious omission is
any significant discussion of the Roman military. For Erskine, the
question of how Rome acquired its empire is primarily a political one
that has social and cultural implications.

The second half of the work contains a readable collection of primary
sources in translation. The collection, organized alphabetically by
name of author, is designed to be used as a reference for the first
half of the work, which contains citations to the primary sources in
relevant places. Some of the weaknesses of the first part are
mitigated by the selection of primary material. For instance, those
wanting to learn about religion’s role in Roman warfare will find
Livy’s description of how priestly officials known as fetials
declared war in ritual fashion. Those wanting some description of the
Roman army will find Polybios’s famous depiction of the _fustuarium_,
in which soldiers who failed to do their duty were beaten to death by
men from their own unit. Likewise, several descriptions of triumphs
are also given. Erskine incorporates different types of sources, not
just literary but also epigraphical and numismatic, and he provides
several photos of relevant works of art and architecture. Scholars
interested in the Roman army at war will, however, be disappointed to
discover that Erskine does not include Polybios’s description of the
organization of the Roman legion from book six of his _Histories_,
except for the passage on discipline mentioned above.

Erskine also provides a helpful ten-page section on further reading,
a list of Internet resources, a glossary of terms, and a thorough
bibliography, all of which will be very useful for teachers or for
those beginning research on the subject. Erskine’s is a welcome but
brief introduction to the causes and consequences of Roman
imperialism. The chief flaw of the work is its brevity. Because this
subject has been of great interest to scholars, the list of primary
sources and the bibliography of modern works are enormous, perhaps
too large to be easily summarized in so few pages.

Citation: Jack Wells. Review of Erskine, Andrew, _Roman Imperialism_.
H-War, H-Net Reviews. December, 2012.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States

JOB: Art History @ SUNY (New Paltz)

Seen on Greekarch:

External Posting (Faculty)
Applications are invited for consideration for appointment to the following position:
Department: Art History
Budget Title: Assistant Professor
Local Title: Assistant Professor of Art History
Posting Date: November 7, 2012
Classification: TBD
Duties: The department of Art History at the State University of New York at New Paltz invites applications for a full-time, tenure-track position beginning in Fall 2013 in ancient art.
Duties: Responsibilities include the teaching of courses in Greek or Roman art, other areas of ancient art according to the applicant’s specialty, and the first half of our undergraduate survey, active engagement in scholarship, and university service. Specialization may be in Greek Roman, or any area of ancient Mediterranean or Near Eastern art.
Qualifications: A Ph.D. in art history is required; exceptional ABD candidates with a firm completion date will be considered. Candidates should demonstrate scholarly ability, with publications preferred, and have teaching experience beyond T.A. level. Candidates who bring diverse cultural experience and who are especially qualified to mentor and advise all members of our diverse student population are especially encouraged to apply.
Contact Information: Electronic submissions preferred. Candidates should send cover letter, CV, writing sample and three letters of recommendation (sent directly from references) to: arthistsearch AT Please note Search #F12-37 on all materials submitted for this search.
Paper copies may be sent to:
Chair, Art History Search Committee
HAB 602A, 1 Hawk Drive
State University of New York at New Paltz
New Paltz, NY 12561-2443
Official transcripts will be required of successful applicant.
Deadline: Applications accepted until position is filled. Priority given to applications received by 1/15/13.
Other important information about this vacancy: Recognized regionally for the strength of its academic programs, New Paltz is a highly-selective comprehensive public college of about 7,800 students, offering a variety of undergraduate as well as some graduate degree programs. New Paltz is located 80 miles north of New York City, at the foothills of the Catskill Mountains, with easy access to the City and to nearby cultural and recreational amenities.
The State University of New York at New Paltz is an AA/EOE/ADA employer

Attic Inscriptions Online

This one is filling my email box and my various twitter feeds … a bit of the intro:

Inscriptions on stone are the most important documentary source for the history of the ancient city of Athens and its surrounding region, Attica. Dating from the 7th century BC through to the end of antiquity, Greek texts are available to scholars in Inscriptiones Graecae (IG) I (up to 403/2 BC) and II (after 403/2 BC) (website), updated annually by the Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum (SEG) (website), and in the Packard Humanities Institute (PHI) Greek Inscriptions website. However, until now, very few of the inscriptions have been available in English translation, whether in print, or online. This site is intended to rectify this situation, beginning in 2012 with the inscribed laws and decrees of Athens, 352/1-322/1 BC, of which new texts have recently been published as IG II3 1, 292-572.

Attic Inscriptions Online

Classical Words of the Day


This Day in Ancient History: ante diem iii idus decembres

ante diem iii idus decembres

  • Agonalia — the fourth and final occurrence of this festival in the Roman calendar; like all instances, the Rex Sacrorum would sacrifice a ram in the Regia, but on this occasion, the sacrifice was apparently in honour of Sol Indiges.
  • Septimontium — a somewhat obscure festival apparently originally only celebrated by the ‘montani’ (i.e. the ‘hill-dwellers’) which involved sacrifices on each of Rome’s seven hills.
  • 287 — martyrdom of Fuscian (and others)
  • 302 — martyrdom of Pontian