Cup Used by Perikles?

As folks have probably already seen, the interwebs are burning up with the discovery — apparently — of a cup used by Pericles.  eKathimerini’s coverage seems to embrace all the coverage making it to the English press:

A cup believed to have been used by Classical Greek statesman Pericles has been found in a pauper’s grave in north Athens, according to local reports Wednesday.

The ceramic wine cup, smashed in 12 pieces, was found during building construction in the northern Athens suburb of Kifissia, Ta Nea daily said.

After piecing it together, archaeologists were astounded to find the name “Pericles” scratched under one of its handles, alongside the names of five other men, in apparent order of seniority.

Experts are “99 per cent” sure that the cup was used by the Athenian statesman, as one of the other names listed, Ariphron, is that of Pericles’ elder brother.

“The name Ariphron is extremely rare,” Angelos Matthaiou, secretary of the Greek Epigraphic Society, told the newspaper.

“Having it listed above that of Pericles makes us 99 per cent sure that these are the two brothers,” he said.

The cup was likely used in a wine symposium when Pericles was in his twenties, and the six men who drank from it scrawled their names as a memento, Matthaiou said.

“They were definitely woozy, as whoever wrote Pericles’ name made a mistake and had to correct it,” he said.

The cup was then apparently gifted to another man named Drapetis (“escapee” in Greek) who was possibly a slave servant or the owner of the tavern, said archaeologist Galini Daskalaki.

“This is a rare find, a genuine glimpse into a private moment,” she said.

Ironically, the cup was found on Sparta street, Athens’ great rival and nemesis in the Peloponnesian War that tore apart the Greek city-states for nearly 30 years.

General of Athens during the city’s Golden Age, Pericles died of the plague in 429 BC during a Spartan siege.

The cup will be displayed in the autumn at the Epigraphical Museum in Athens.

The eKathimerini coverage (and others) include a small photo of the cup, but it isn’t easy to see the names. It is somewhat suspicious though (but that’s my nature), so I tracked down the Ta Nea coverage referenced in the article, which provides some important details (and photos). I’ll present to google translate version here … it’s not too bad until towards the end:

A simple wineglass – a black-glazed Skyphos – 5th century BC found in a humble tomb in Kifissia comes to rock the boat of archeology, as not only it is almost certain that it was used by Pericles, but not impossible to bear and the handwritten signature. Which makes the humble vessel as the first tangible evidence of the daily life of one of the most famous personalities of history.
“It is a rare find. A lively authentic element of a private moment “says archaeologist of Second Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities Serenity Daskalakis the vessel of only eight centimeters uncovered the foundations of a building under construction on the street at 18 Sparta Ave.
Just two meters below the surface and in a grave not identified bones archaeologist found the vase broken into 12 pieces. When annealed, the surprise was great. On one side below the handle was engraved six names in the genitive: Aristeidou, Diodotou, Daisimou, Arrifronos, Pericles and Efkritou. And all along was mounted on a frame.

NAME-KEY. How do we know that Pericles stated in the vessel is the man who has linked his name with the creation of the Parthenon? “The name Arrifron is very rare and brought his grandfather and elder brother of Pericles. The mention of his name over that of Pericles on the surface of the vase makes us 99% confident that they are the two brothers and entered as Pericles is none other than the man who guided the fate of Athens in the period of highest edge ‘ explains the secretary of Greek Epigraphy Society and editor of archaiognostikis inspection “IOROS” (term), the anniversary edition which published the study’s important findings, Angelos P. Matthew.

“It’s not the first time we have the name of Pericles in full inscription, as he is known only in fragmentary” continues stressing the importance of the find. “Assuming that the Aristides (usual name, but at the time we are talking about the famous politician lived stayed in history as Righteous), Pericles and Arrifron of skyphos identified with eminent Athenians, I see that they do not coincide in politics.

Aristides acted the years 488-478 BC, Pericles the period 460-429 BC But there might be overlap in a social interaction. In 470 BC for example Arrifron would have been 25 years old, 24 and Pericles Aristides around 50, “says archaeologist, which dates the adiakosmito vessel (vessel hijacked and not of great house) using the formula of between 480 and 465 BC .

The six men may be found together in a banquet or pub. And since they drank from the same vessel – something that was common – carved their names in general to show that the glass belongs to them. And periekleisan a framework to make it clear that it was nothing, starting with the largest.
Experts distinguish at least two handwritings, but can not know whether the one hand belongs to Pericles. “It certainly was dizzy from the wine as it is clear that whoever wrote the name of Pericles made a mistake initially and wrote at par and then corrected it,” says Matthew Angel.

OWNER. Whose but the vessel was found in Kifissia? The answer lies at the base of stating a name yet: Runaway, written in nominal rather than in Attic, as other names, but in the Ionic alphabet. Who could it be? “This is a main male name denoting status, brought that someone who left secretly, probably a slave” does the Serenity Daskalakis, which does not exclude the possibility that it was he who served in the banquet men or the owner of the hijacked and they gave him the vase as a keepsake. Gift precious family heirloom that was not separated nor his grave.

Even better, the Ta Nea coverage has some different views of the cup, which includes something that doesn’t seem to be mentioned anywhere: it’s written upside down. I have to include the photo:

periclescup

Ta Nea Photo

Visit the Ta Nea link up there for the ‘runaway’ inscription on the base. If genuine, this would be an amazing find, but there are causes for concern. First of all, scratching names on some black figure piece would be an amazingly simple way to add value to an otherwise boring black figure piece. It is also ‘iffy’ to base ownership on the basis of a collection of names (see, most infamously, in regards to the Talpiot tomb claims as neatly elucidated by Mark Goodacre: The Talpiot Tomb and the Beatles.) But even without that, just looking at it raises questions that need to be answered. If these guys were sharing the cup, why would they need to put ALL their names on it? Has another cup been found with this sort of thing? Getting ‘autographs’ as a keepsake seems to be a modern phenomenon. Why has a box been drawn around the ‘signatures’? Why are they upside down? Perhaps more importantly, if the cup was broken in a dozen pieces, is it just a happy coincidence that the names seem to come from a large unbroken piece? That paleographers distinguish two hands is also suggestive … perhaps that’s your best indicator that this is a ‘value added’ piece? (i.e. the cup originally had the first three names (or whatever) then a more recent hand added some more, then drew a box around things to give the impression it was all done at the same time.)

I think the jury is still out on this one …

Plans to Rebury “Parthenon of Thessaloniki”

From Greek Reporter (I’m not sure this is news; I could have sworn we’d heard about this before):

Local residents of Thessaloniki in northern Greece are outraged by a decision to build an apartment block on top of a recently discovered ancient Greek temple in the heart of the city. The temple of goddess Aphrodite, which was brought to Thessaloniki from the city of Aenea in the 6th century B.C., is said to be priceless in value thus the locals named it “Parthenon of Thessaloniki.”

The temple lies in an area now called Dioikitirio (administrative centre). In Roman times the area was known as the Square of the Sacred Ones, as most of the city’s temples were concentrated there.

The ancient Greek temple was brought to light in 2000 after the demolition of a two-storey building. The archaeologists found the eastern part of the temple’s krepis, statues of Greek and Roman times, and numerous fragments of architectural parts.

While most of the temple remains in Dioikitirio, some parts including the columns of the temple, as well as many of the other remains, are currently being exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki.

According to the school of Architecture of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Antigonidon square can be reformed in two levels, so that the temple would be rebuilt and become visible in its entirety.

Statue of Demeter Found/Recovered

Brief item from Greek Reporter:

A statue, believed to be the ancient Greek goddess Demeter, has been unearthed at an illegal excavation in Simav, western Turkey. The statue, weighing in at 610kg and standing 2.8 meters tall, was discovered by two Turks, Ramazan C. And Ismail G, 26 and 62 years old respectively, who are alleged to have been conducting illegal excavations in the wider area where the statue was found. The two men were taken into custody by the Turkish police and sent to court.

The head of the statue and the altar, missing during the raid, were later found in a house in the city centre.

In Greek mythology, Demeter, one of Zeus’ sisters, so the story goes, was the goddess of agriculture, nature, abundance and seasons, and mother of Persephone, wife of Hades.

The original article is accompanied by a photo of a statue; it isn’t clear whether this is the statue they found or not …

A New Metrologist: Odysseus

An interesting citation project discovers, inter alia, the work of a hitherto unknown metrologist. Froma CORDIS press release:

A research conducted at the Department of Classical and Romanic Philology has led to the creation of a pioneering database of bibliographical citations on authors of Ancient Greece and Rome, whose works, in many cases, have not survived in full until our days. The work of the team led by Professor Lucía Rodríguez-Noriega Guillén has conducted to, for example, the discovery of previously-unknown authors, such as Odysseus, a metrologist that offers the definition of “verse”, and whose existence and contributions had not been documented until now.

This is the first research that seeks to thoroughly analyze all the citations (whether literal or not) of an ample scholarly corpus, highlighting the special value of the literary tradition of the Late Antiquity. The references to other authors and their works (in literal or free citations, imitations, testimonies, etc.) detected in the 28 writers that compose the full cast of grammarians, rhetoricians and sophists of the 3rd and 4th Centuries, make up this open database. The exahustive analysis of these materials will help to better know not only the works of the authors who are being studied, but also the contributions and the impact that the contributions of other authors had, and whose legacy has not been directly preserved until today.

The new technologies have allowed that those materials are offered freely to experts from all around the world in a website that is updated as new milestones are achieved in the project. The innovative nature of the initiative and its strategical value as a source for consultations make the portal, inaugurate last October, a future reference for the international experts on this field.

The selection of authors and period is not an accident. “Grammarians, rhetoricians and sophists are writers who very frequently quote others, especially as a model or example, and that is why, in their works, there is an abundance of testimonies and fragments from past philosopher’s, poets, grammarians, orators, historians…”, explains Lucía Rodríguez-Noriega Guillén. On the other hand, the Greek authors of the 3rd and 4th Centuries BCE are specially valuable to recover the works of their unknown predecessors, since the popularization, starting on the 4th Century CE, of the book as we know it today, substituting papyrus rolls, was a critical moment that led to the loss of a sizable portion of Greek and Roman literature, since it was not copied into the new format. These authors, however, were still able to access many works that would, eventually, disappear.

The research project titled “La tradición literaria griega en los ss. III-IV d.C. gramáticos, rétores y sofistas como fuentes de la literatura greco-latina“, funded by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, aims at documenting the indirect transmission of the works of classical authors cited by others in the aforementioned corpus of scholars. The researchers from the University of Oviedo started their labor by thoroughly analyzing the works of the selected authors. “We extract absolutely every single reference to works or authors, regardless of the type of citation they are found in, and whether their authorship is explicitly stated or not. From there, we compose a file for each one of this citations, tracing its history from the original author to the late Byzantine period”, explains the main researcher of the project.

This task of thorough analysis creates a network of relations between authors and expands the information on those who are less known for the general public. The dedicated working of tracing each citation to find its origin and presence throughout history leads to, for example, knowing that Homer is the most cited author, and to be precise, his work The Illiad. “Homer would be the “trending topic” of the moment”, explains Lucía Rodríguez-Noriega, establishing a comparison with today. In the case of philosophers, the two most cited ones are Plato and Aristotle, in that order.

The researchers from the University of Oviedo work in collaboration with Philologists of the University of Zaragoza, who conduct their own coordinated project on Los gramáticos latinos tardíos como fuente para el conocimiento de la tradición gramatical greco-latina. The project also has the collaboration of researchers from the University of the Basque Country. [...]

Finds from Zakynthos

I’m somewhat skeptical about this one as it is being reported … from the Greek Reporter:

A submerged underwater archaeological site with extensive sunken architectural remains was found by the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities team at a depth of 200 to 600 m. off the Alikanas beach on northeast Zakynthos, the Ionian Sea Island, as archaiologia.gr revealed.

The team has begun exploring around the area since May 13, 2013, after an invitation made by the Municipality of Zakynthos.

The large site covers about 30,000 sq. m., something that reflects the existence of a significant ancient settlement in the Alikanas area. It contains a visible courtyard, ancient building material and at least 20 circular column bases, with a 34 cm hollow in the center where a wooden column may have been inserted.

Initial assessment leads to the result that the remains belong to a large ancient public building, which is probably related to the ancient city’s port. However, due to the absence of pottery from the surface, it is still not that easy to date the find.

The Municipality of Zakynthos along with the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities will proceed to more extensive research and mapping of the site as soon as possible, so as new evidence will be found of the history and topography of ancient Zakynthos.

The original article includes a photo of what might be one of the column bases. Even so — and acknowledging that the area around Zakynthos is earthquake prone — we’re talking a very large site which is supposedly 200m to 600m below the surface of the sea. That’s pretty deep for a major site to sink and no one to mention it. I’m very curious how this was explored (divers? submarine? robot?) and whether it might not make more sense to see this as one or more shipwrecks full of building materials … we definitely need more details on this one.