Seeking Heritage Status for Laodicea

From Hurriyet:

Denizli Municipality has submitted documents to UNESCO for the inclusion of the ancient city of Laodicea on the agency’s World Heritage List.

The ancient city is one of the strongest candidates for the list, Denizli Mayor Osman Zolan said in a written statement.

“Work has begun to include the ancient city, which is home to one of the seven holy churches mentioned in the Bible and the only ancient city in Anatolia with four baths and two theaters in the UNESCO list,” he said, adding that the city also boasted the largest ancient stadium in Anatolia.

He said the necessary documents had been sent to the Culture and Tourism Ministry and that it had been included in 37 places that would become candidates for the UNESCO World Heritage List.

“We have made great progress in the excavations in the ancient city in the last four years. Excavations have been continuing for 12 months. We discovered an ancient church structure. Last year, the ancient city was visited by 300,000 tourists. Our goal is to increase this number to 1.5 million,” the mayor said.

The city of Laodicea was one of the chief seats of Christianity. Laodicea receives passing mention in the epistle to the Colossians and is one of the seven churches of Asia mentioned in the Book of Revelations.

The Laodicean church is thought to have been founded by the Colossian Epaphras, a Christian preacher.

Laodicea is one of those places we don’t hear from very often for some reason … last summer a temple to Athena as found there (Temple of Athena From Laodicea)

CJ Online Review: Evans, Daily Life in the Hellenistic Age

posted with permission:

Daily Life in the Hellenistic Age: From Alexander to Cleopatra. By James Allan Evans. Revised edition. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 2012. Pp. xli + 196. $19.95. ISBN 978-0-8061-4255-5.

Reviewed by Thomas R. Keith, Loyola University Chicago

Those who are charged with teaching undergraduate-level courses on Hellenistic history will appreciate the virtue of James Allan Evans’ goals in Daily Life in the Hellenistic Age. His text, first published in hardcover in 2008, seeks to bridge the gap between most introductory Greek history textbooks, which tend to give the Hellenistic age short shrift compared to the Archaic and Classical periods, and masterful but unwieldy tomes like Peter Green’s Alexander to Actium. The intended result is a book accessible to those with no background in ancient history, yet with sufficient detail to serve as the core text for an entire course on the period. If Daily Life falls short in these aims, this is a consequence not of any flaws in its construction, but of a cumulative lack of attention to detail.

The book’s strongest suit, without question, is its impressive breadth. Evans does a capable job of working around the problem of the paucity of literary evidence for certain aspects of Hellenistic history; he is particularly skilled at mining non-historiographical sources such as New Comedy, Theocritus, and Herondas for insight into details of mundane life. Consequently, close attention is paid throughout to the issues of gender, class and ethnicity that more traditionally minded historical surveys sometimes neglect, as well as to such matters as diet and dress. Compliments are also due to Evans’ in-depth treatment of the complexities of Hellenistic religion in Chapter 14. As is reasonable for a book aimed at a non-specialist audience, he largely downplays abstract questions of theology in favor of a focus on the details of “on-the-ground” practice. The resulting analysis communicates ably the sheer vibrancy and diversity that pulsated beneath the uniform veneer of Greek culture.

The text also casts a wide geographical net. In particular, Evans devotes much attention to Ptolemaic Egypt, and ably demonstrates its unique status as both Greek and “other,” with all the attendant interpretive difficulties that status poses. Judaea, too, is well-treated, and undergraduates interested in the interaction between the classical world and Judaism will find much of interest. Political affairs in mainland Greece itself are dealt with more cursorily—the growth of federal states, for example, passes largely undiscussed—but any shortcomings in this regard are made up for by the lengthy Chapter 13, “Hellenistic Kingdoms,” an intelligent and incisive summary of the competing power blocs in the Hellenistic world and the ideologies of rulership that prevailed in each.

However, the pedagogical value of the text is undercut by its sloppy production. Errors, both typographical and factual, occur with unsettling frequency. This is perhaps most obvious in the realm of dates: at various points, the battles of Chaeronea (p. x), Lake Trasimene (p. xxv), and Cannae (ibid.), the Peace of Apamea (p. xxxvii), the death of Hadrian (bis, p. 133 and photo 11), and the reigns of every Antigonid monarch save Philip V (p. 182) are dated incorrectly. The text is also often confused on fundamental matters of geography (e.g. the Lydian empire is described as Asia Minor “east of the Halys,” rather than west (p. x); Attica is referred to as Greece’s “western peninsula” (p. 15)). Transliterations of Greek names are variable and sloppy (e.g. p. 112 “Amphiareus” for “Amphiaraus”; p. 119 “didaskoloi” for “didaskaloi”). For whatever reason, these problems are most acute in the preface, but they are by no means confined to it.

Evans’ prose style is competent, but uninspired, and he is strikingly prone to repetition; in part this is a necessary consequence of the book’s thematic, rather than chronological, organizational schema, but it is less easy to excuse the multiple cases in which phrases are repeated almost verbatim, sometimes only a few paragraphs apart. (See e.g. p. 32: “[The chlamys] was the favorite costume for horsemen in Greece”; pg. 33: “The chlamys was also the favorite dress of horsemen in Greece”; pg. 95: “[The
krater] would be a fine example of the potter’s art …”; p. 96: “The krater was usually a splendid example of the potter’s art …”). The only illustrations provided are a folio of black-and-white photos, all but one of which are pictures of archaeological sites. Only one map is offered, a new addition to the paperback edition depicting the Hellenistic kingdoms in 280 bce; maps of the western Mediterranean and of mainland Greece in detail are definite desiderata for future editions. While the bibliography is full, the notes given at the end of each chapter are very sparing. Throughout, the text gives an impression of having been prepared in haste, which is surprising for a revised and updated edition.

This is all the more unfortunate, given the attractiveness of Daily Life’s comprehensive scope and low cost. It is to be hoped that future editions will correct the text’s flaws, after which it will be a worthy addition to the curriculum for undergraduate ancient history courses.

Pompeii Restoration Project to Begin

I think this is the one they’ve been arguing about for four or five years … from ANSA:

The long-awaited restoration of the Pompeii archaeological site will begin on February 6, the authorities said Wednesday.

An agreement on how to proceed at the UNESCO World Heritage site has been finalized and more details will be coming, said Fabrizio Barca, minister for territorial cohesion.

The so-called the Grande Progetto Pompei or Great Pompeii Project is to secure and improve access to the ruins of Pompeii.

It has financial backing from the European Commission, as well as the Italian government.

That includes about 105 million euros for restoration and conservation works at the world-famous site which has come to symbolize the failings of the Italian state after some of the area’s most famous buildings collapsed in November 2010.

More recently, a piece of a modern wall structure bordering the ancient site of Pompeii collapsed following heavy rains, which shifted some of the ground underneath the wall section.

The site has been falling into decay for some time and after recent collapses in the past two years, there has been growing concern about Italy’s ability to protect it.

Last spring, Italian Premier Mario Monti pledged that the project will “secure the site’s damaged areas and … ensure that this is done using capable, honest businesses, not organized crime”.

via: Restoration of historic Pompeii slated to begin next week (ANSA)

This Day in Ancient History: pridie kalendas februarias

pridie kalendas februarias

  • 1000 B.C. — temple of Hercules at Tyre completed (according to one ‘traditional’ reckoning)
  • 817 B.C. — death of Anchises (according to the same reckoning)
  • 36 B.C. — birth of Antonia (“Minor”), daughter of Marcus Antonius and Octavia and future mother of hope-to-be-emperor Germanicus and emperor-to-be Claudius
  • c. 250 A.D. — martyrdom of Metras/Metranus in Alexandria
  • c. 250 A.D. — martyrdom of Saturninus, Thrysus, and Victor in Alexandria

Another English Planter, Another Roman Sarcophagus?

I’m beginning to think the Roman-sarcophagus-in-the-garden is becoming the Classical equivalent of the Declaration-of-Independence-from-the-thrift store … From the Daily Mail comes what appears to be another case of gardeners not realizing they were putting their plants in something rather valuable:

A garden trough used as a flower planter for 30 years has been identified as rare 2,000-year-old marble coffin worth over £100,000.

The unsuspecting couple from Northumberland inherited the 6ft 9in long sarcophagus from the previous owners of their house, who left it behind in 1982.

The retired pair only realised its worth when they learned of a similar ornament on sale at an auction house.

Experts were invited to inspect it and discovered the one-tonne trough was a rare ornate Roman sarcophagus – a coffin carved from stone that usually sits above ground – dating back to the First and Second Century AD.

Auctioneers said the couple were ‘shocked’ when they learned how valuable it is.

Made from Carrara marble, the sarcophagus would have been commissioned for the funeral of a wealthy woman and placed in a private mausoleum in Rome.

The sarcophagus is worth more than the couple, who asked not to be identified, paid for the home it was found in.

The previous owners did not even mention the sarcophagus on the house deeds and clearly did not know its value.

It is almost identical to another Roman sarcophagus that is in the Galleria Lapidaria in the Vatican.

The carved marble side features cherubs that represent charm, beauty and creativity in Greek mythology

The front is carved with a central panel of the Three Graces, which represent charm, beauty, and creativity in Greek mythology.

It is not known how it found its way to the rural house near Hadrian’s Wall, but a copper plaque on the back of the sarcophagus states ‘Bought from Rome in 1902.’

Guy Schwinge, of Dukes auction house in Dorchester, Dorset, flew to Newcastle as soon as he saw the pictures of the sarcophagus the couple had emailed.

He found the rare ornament filled with plants and soil and left on the grass.

He said: ‘It is quite exceptional for a something of this importance to turn up unrecognised in a garden.

‘They told me that they acquired it when they bought the house and just thought it was an ornamental plant trough.

‘The people who sold the house didn’t make a big fuss about it and it wasn’t mentioned in the deeds so they couldn’t have know what it was.

‘The property is very close to Hadrian’s Wall and the sarcophagus dates back to Emperor Hadrian but that is purely a coincidence.

‘It has always been in the same spot and the vendors have found it ideal for putting bedding plants in over the last 30 years.

‘I think they were a little shocked when I confirmed what it was and how much it might sell for.

‘After I left they took great care in emptying the soil out of it and a crane was brought in to place it on a lorry and drive down to us.’

Mr Schwinge said although it is impossible to know for sure how the ornament made its way to England, a possible theory is that it was one of seven sarcophagi bought by US railroad magnate Henry Walters from the Palazzo Accoranboni gallery in Rome for $1million.

Mr Schwinge said: ‘It is interesting to speculate whether the sarcophagus we are selling could relate to Henry Walters’ purchase.’

Laurence Keen OBE, an archaeologist and art expert, who examined the sarcophagus, said: ‘It was obviously intended for a high status individual.

‘The combination of the strigilated panels and the figural decoration indicates that it was intended for a wealthy individual.

‘The simply hewn back probably suggests that it came from a private mausoleum, where the tomb was placed against a wall.’

The sarcophagus will be sold at auction in Dorchester on February 14.

… plenty of photos at the Daily Mail site … Mr Schwinge seems to have a nose for this sort of thing; back in September, another case: Roman Sarcophagus in a Dorset Garden. That one was only worth half of what this one is worth, supposedly, even though it seemed to be in better condition.

Sybaris Flooded!

From ANSA comes news of another site which we probably should start being concerned about:

The mayor of Cassano allo Jonio in the southern region of Calabria on Monday appealed to President Giorgio Napolitano for help in tackling the emergency at the local Sybaris archaeological site due to recent flooding.

The ancient remains were overrun by 200,000 cubic metres of water on January 18 after the nearby river Crati burst its banks following heavy rainfall.

Since then the fire and civil protection departments have been working to pump the water out of the site but there is concern over the remaining mud, which could become difficult to remove. Meanwhile numerous individuals and associations have offered to help with clean-up operations and Italy’s academic community has also rallied in support of the site, whose remains testify to the three successive settlements, the Greek colonies of Sybaris and Thurii and the Roman city of Copia, that once stood there. There is concern particularly for the Roman remains (2nd century BC-7th century AD), which lie closest to the surface and are rich in frescoes and mosaics. Here “the force of the water, which covered five hectares in the Parco del Cavallo area, even caused walls to crumble,” site director Silvana Lupino said. The priority now is to quantify the damage, with the cost of restoration possibly running to hundreds of thousands of euros. Lupino said it would “take months” to remove the mud with the help of “specialised teams” in support of the site’s technical staff. The excavations have been temporarily closed to the public although the management hopes they will reopen in time for the summer tourist season.

CJ Online Review: Liapis, Commentary on the Rhesus

posted with permission:

A Commentary on the Rhesus Attributed to Euripides. By Vayos Liapis. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. Pp. lxxviii + 364. Hardcover, £90.00/$185.00. ISBN 978-0-19-959168-8.

Reviewed by Simon Perris, Victoria University of Wellington

Commentaries, like readers, come in all sorts. Vayos Liapis’ commentary on Rhesos is of the kind I prefer, for he dedicates it not only to explicating the text, but also to advancing an argument. “In order to establish whether Rhesus can or cannot be Euripidean, and (more importantly) in order to lay the groundwork for a proper appreciation of this idiosyncratic play, nothing less than a full-scale commentary is required” (v). Production meets the usual standards of the press: typographical errors are few enough;[[1]] binding is adequate; the reproduction of Diggle’s OCT text leaves a little to be desired. Liapis translates each lemma into English. End matter includes indices Graecitatis, Nominum et Rerum Potiorum, and Locorum Potiorum.

This is effectively a book about dramaturgy and authorship. Liapis’ introduction, now required reading for anyone working on Rhesos, thus introduces the main interpretative issues (“The Mythical Background,” “Dramaturgy and Stagecraft,” “Character-Portrayal,” “Language and Style; Metre,” “The Authenticity Question,” and “The Text”) and also outlines the argument: the Rhesos attributed to Euripides was composed by a man of the theatre imitating the style of the old master with limited success, probably in the fourth century, possibly for performance in Macedon.

Liapis does force the issue at times. At p. xxix, despite citing Pickard-Cambridge’s caveat on the matter, Liapis maintains that “kothornos-boots” on Apulian red-figure vases are “a tell-tale sign of theatrical influence.” Kenneth Dover (Aristophanes: Frogs (Oxford, 1993) ad 47) and, more recently, Rosie Wyles (Costume in Greek Tragedy (London: Bristol Classical Press, 2011) 25) affirm that classical kothornoi—to be distinguished from post-classical cothurni—were not a synecdochic icon for tragedy.

On the one hand, Rhesos supposedly demonstrates its poet’s incompetence. On the other, while arguing for a fourth speaking actor in the Alexandros scene, Liapis claims that “no half-competent playwright” would have risked the failure of a very fast costume change (xliv). On that note, Liapis is very dismissive of the possibility of a fourth actor at Khoephoroi 886–90, calling it a “specious” example (xliv) and thus implying that the case is open-and-shut.

Due to the play’s depiction of Odysseus and Diomedes, we are told, “one is bound to conclude that the playwright is manifestly unsympathetic to the Greeks” (li). The most one can conclude is that the poet’s portrayal is manifestly unsympathetic.

To my mind, a concentration on minor, unnamed characters is anything but paradoxical (liii) in a drama which owes so much to Euripidean style.[[2]]

I resist any assumption that “late” stylistic features are necessarily late-Euripidean, and I am thus wary of the conclusion, “That one and the same play can combine metrical and linguistic features both from early and from late Euripides can mean one thing, and one thing only: Rhesus is the work of a later imitator” (lvii).

Nevertheless, Liapis’s sensible and cogent argument has real explanatory power. I, for one, am persuaded. Moreover, Liapis’s commitment to his argument (if not his author) also supports the other goal of the commentary—to understand Rhesos as a piece of theater. He meticulously unpacks the play, qua verse drama, such that even a reader convinced of Euripidean authorship should still come away from the book enlightened about how Rhesos works or does not work, as the case may be.

I was gratified to discover that Liapis and I came independently to the same conclusion regarding the staging of Rhesos: neither the stage-building nor its door(s) represent anything, and Hektor sleeps not in a Homeric hut (klisiê) but in a bivouac (69–70).[[3]] On a related note, Liapis makes astute observations on Odysseus and Diomedes’ entrance to an empty stage (xxxvii–viii). Further, I approve of Liapis’s forthright approach to the problem of the chorus, and now agree entirely that “The chorus’ identity as soldiers on guard duty proves to be an exceedingly bad idea” (xli).

As his own entries in the bibliography illustrate, Liapis has spent some years now working on Rhesos, and in the commentary proper we reap the fruits of that labor on points of detail as well as wider issues. See, for example, the exemplary treatment of the Rhesos-poet’s (ab)use of the word ἄντυξ (instances of which may be found in the index Graecitatis); the explanation of λῦσον βλεφάρων γοργωπὸν ἕδραν (Rh. 8); or the lucid account of the Hypotheseis to the play. On the other hand, I strongly disagree that “it is doubtful … that [δαίμων] is ever used as a mere synonym for ‘god’” (87). Compare, for example, Bakkhai 22, 417, 498, et cetera.

Rhesos is probably our only extant fourth-century tragedy and, some would say, the weakest extant tragedy. Perhaps the most refreshing thing about this book, then, is that Liapis implicitly stakes a claim for the play’s importance without apologizing for its (lack of) quality. This excellent commentary deservedly takes its place as the standard reference work on Rhesos for scholars and graduate students alike.


[[1]] xxii: “n.*”. xliv n. 126: “n.*” (twice). lxvii with n. 226: Liapis repeats (not verbatim) an earlier assertion (p. lvi with n. 175) about the poet’s lax approach to interlinear hiatus. 57: παρέμβολήν [sic]. 62: “or later hypotheseis-collection[s] were falsely attributed.” 70: references to both “Popp” and “H. Popp.” 102: ὅ,τι [sic]. 110: “Fraenkel.;”. passim: the editor of tragic fragments is sometimes “Radt,” sometimes “R.”

[[2]] See now F. Yoon, The Use of Anonymous Characters in Greek Tragedy: The Shaping of Heroes (Leiden: Brill, 2012).

[[3]] S. Perris, “Stagecraft and the Stage Building in Rhesus,” G&Rome 59 (2012) 151–64.

Dig: Roman Villa at Cortona

I am told there are spaces still available on this one:

Excavate a Roman Villa at Cortona, Italy

One *6 credit 4 week session – May 20 – June 14, 2013
Study Abroad Special Funding for 2013

Within the context of research on the Romanization of Etruria, we are continuing the excavation of a large Roman complex of the 1st century B.C. through the 5th century A.D. From the early 1st c. B.C. onwards, the villa was terraced with an elongated plan. Several CAESARUM brickstamps indicate that the complex was part of an estate owned by the Roman Imperial family. In later centuries structural and functional changes in the complex document the architectural and social transformations that occurred during the later empire in rural Italy. The site and its artefacts are the core of the Roman section in the Cortona Museum.

Classics 475/476 (undergrad) or 601/602 (graduate level). The field school is limited to 15 students.

The course is taught in 6 modules, including lectures, museum and site visits, excavation, laboratory, interpretation of finds. The course emphasizes archaeological interpretation within in the cultural and historical context of Roman Italy.

Application deadline is March 1, 2013. You will be notified in early March regarding acceptance into the course.

More info: Roman Villa at Cortona

Classical Words of the Day


This Day in Ancient History: ante diem iii kalendas februarias

ante diem iii kalendas februarias