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.

Snake Goddess is Demeter?

More from the AIA shindig (and Stephanie Pappas, who clearly is making a name for herself in terms of coverage of archaeology of late):

A mysterious “snake goddess” painted on terracotta and discovered in Athens may actually be Demeter, the Greek goddess of the harvest.

Once linked to the worship of the dead, the goddess is flanked by two snakes on a slab of terracotta about the size of a piece of notebook paper. She has her hands up above her head, which has given her the nickname “the touchdown goddess” thanks to the resemblance of the pose to a referee’s signal. The goddess is painted in red, yellow and blue-green on a tile, with only her head molded outward in three dimensions. This unusual piece of art was found amid a jumble of gravel and other terracotta fragments in 1932 in what was once the Athenian agora, or public square.

The catch, however, is that the snake goddess isn’t originally from the agora. The gravel and figurine fragments were fill material, brought in from an unknown second location to build a path or road in the seventh century B.C.

“Not only is our snake goddess unidentified, but she’s homeless,” said study researcher Michael Laughy of Washington and Lee University in Virginia. “She got mixed up in that road gravel, presumably obtained near the site of her original shrine.” [...]

More Likely, according to Laughy’s analysis, the snake-flanked woman is both a representation of and an offering to a goddess. Votive deposits from the shrines of goddesses include pottery disks, terracotta horses, plaques and shields, as well as female figurines. These votives match the finds uncovered in Athens.

In particular, shrines devoted to Demeter and Athena, the goddess of wisdom and war, show the closest matches to the types of figurines found, Laughy said.

Demeter is a strong candidate, as there was a shrine built in her name in the seventh century mere minutes-long walk from the Athens agora, he said. It’s the only sanctuary where ancient Greeks are known to have left loom weights and spindle whorls, which are disks that weigh down spindles used for spinning thread and which are found in the Athens fill debris. What’s more, Laughy said, the spot was graded in the seventh century, which could have produced a debris pile that was then carted away to make paths in the agora.

Finally, the goddess’ serpentine companions also point to Demeter, who was particularly associated with snake iconography, Laughy said.

“Snakes and Demeter are happy together in imagery in the seventh century,” he said.

Laughy warned that the evidence linking the snake goddess and Demeter is circumstantial. However, he said, the evidence is strong that the woman is not a figure associated with death, but a goddess. If she were Demeter, the snake goddess plaque would be one of the oldest images ever found of that particular deity. [...]

…and I suspect I’m not the only one thinking about Minoan snake goddesses right now as well … and I’m now really starting to be bugged by the lack of abstracts the AIA put up for the meeting

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.

Ed: Summer Intensive Greek at Baylor

Not just classical, but early Christian and Byzantine Greek are immensely alive and productive fields in the modern academic world. This program is specially designed to open possibilities for you in all these areas. With dedication, you can follow these avenues as far as you like in almost any period and style of Greek, Classical or Christian, at an undergraduate and eventually professional level.

Maybe We’re Too Cynical About the Cynics?

Some nice hype from UCincy on Susan Prince’s work with Antisthenes:

Are cynics and happiness mutually exclusive? For modern cynics, perhaps. But for the ancient Cynics, not necessarily.

Research by the University of Cincinnati’s Susan Prince shows that despite the historical perception of the ancient Cynics as harsh, street-corner prophets relentlessly condemning all passersby and decrying society’s lack of virtue, these Greek philosophers, indirectly descended from Socratic teaching, weren’t all doom and gloom. They actually might have espoused a shortcut to happiness.

“We don’t have good scholarship on the Cynics. They’re seen as misanthropes and as sloppy and dirty people who want to cut down the elite,” says Prince, UC assistant professor of classics, adding, “But there’s a positive strand that needs to be recovered, and I’m really going to punch that hard with my research.”

Prince was invited to present her new research paper, “Antisthenes and the Short Route to Happiness,” during the 13th annual Unisa Classics Colloquium hosted by the University of South Africa’s Department of Classics and World Languages from Oct. 25-27 in Pretoria. More than a dozen presentations from international scholars will address the conference theme of “Ancient Routes to Happiness.”

Much of Prince’s work focuses on the individual believed to be the primary influence on the Cynic movement, Antisthenes.

Antisthenes was a pupil of Socrates and occasional rival of Plato. In fact, while history occasionally paints Plato as a philosopher of unequaled wisdom, UC’s Prince says that through study of his texts, it’s more plausible that he developed his ideas through tight intellectual debates with his contemporaries, and Antisthenes was among them.

ANCIENT CYNICS’ RECIPE FOR HAPPINESS: AVOID AN EMPHASIS ON MATERIAL GOODS
Plato and Antisthenes shared many beliefs in common with all philosophers – rejection of wealth and luxury, and embracing the pursuit of wisdom and virtue. But Antisthenes’ methods set him apart from Plato. Whereas Plato founded his Academy for philosophical teaching and lengthy study, Antisthenes advocated a short but rigorous path toward virtue and happiness.

Antisthenes’ way was short in that he endorsed an abbreviated curriculum when compared to those of other schools of philosophy, which contended that the quick route was a road to nowhere. Antisthenes’ teachings skipped over the technical aspects of logic in order to concentrate on ethical literature, such as reading Homer.

And Antisthenes’ way was rigorous in that it required a drastic attitude change. To follow the path of the Cynic was to abandon many societal conventions and to live in accord with nature – no more fancy clothes, no more exquisite feasts and even no more roof over your head.

ANCIENT CYNICS’ LACK OF EMPHASIS ON MATERIAL GOODS LED TO MORE LEISURE TIME
Through this shortcut, Prince says Cynics were able to gain leisure time which could be put toward living the good life or what Antisthenes called “seeing the things worth seeing and hearing the things worth hearing.” And that’s how an ancient Cynic could exist in ethical bliss until the end of his days.

“You get to your happiness quickly and then you practice your happiness for the rest of your life,” Prince says.

In a modern context, there’s some irony in the notion of a cynic devoted to the pursuit of happiness, and Prince hopes her research can clear the air on Antisthenes, et al. In addition to her paper for the Unisa conference, she has a 600-page manuscript on Antisthenes scheduled to be published through the University of Michigan Press in 2013 or 2014. She wants to show that the negative connotation associated with “cynic” might be historically inaccurate and to provide a little redemption for centuries of misjudgment.

“I’m resisting the modern sense of ‘cynic,’” Prince says. “That just hits the mission on the head: To recover the ancient Cynics and show that you can’t just project straight backward. There’s a whole history there that has led us to our modern sense of the term ‘cynic,’ and that comes from the negative tradition.”

MORE BACKGROUND ON ANTISTHENES AND ANCIENT CYNICS
“Plato didn’t become great by himself,” says UC’s Prince. “Antisthenes was very important as one of the interlocutors who wasn’t always Plato’s enemy. Their relationship was more like a sibling rivalry.”

Rivalry or not, when looking into history’s rearview it seems as if Plato’s shadow has grown larger than it appeared, diminishing the contributions of others. Peter van Minnen, head of the Department of Classics in UC’s McMicken College of Arts & Sciences, thinks the Cynics have been under represented in the scope of Greek philosophers.

“Susan’s revised Greek text is explained in more detail than ever before,” van Minnen says. “Once it is published, all classicists will turn to it for Antisthenes. The Cynics are kind of neglected but ‘good to think with’ so we don’t take Plato and Aristotle as the only gospel in Greek philosophy.”

Sundial from Chakidiki

From Greek Reporter:

One of the rarest sundials dating from the Greco-Roman period was found in Polichrono in Chalkidiki.This sundial is not a usual one as it shows the correct time at any given place.

It is noteworthy that in the Ancient Greek world, sundials consisted of a gnomon (indicator in Ancient Greek) in the form of a vertical post or peg set in a flat surface, upon which the shadow of the gnomon served to indicate the time.

This sundial has a surface which is separated in 12 parts representing 12 hours of the day. More particularly, the sundial consists of a hyperbola tracing the shadow’s path at the winter solstice, a second one for the summer solstice, and a straight east-west line in between marking the equinoctial shadows.

A line from the base of the gnomon to the south of the dial running due north denotes noontime. The hyperbola is centered on this noon line. The winter hyperbola opens to the north, the summer hyperbola to the south. In addition to the center noon line, additional oblique lines are added on either side to denote the hours of daylight before and after noon.

Archaeologist of the 16th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, Betina Tsigarida, specialist in the area of Chalkidiki, was the one to find the sundial and was given it as a reward for her work.

via: Old Sundial Found in Chalkidiki (Greek Reporter)

Latin and Greek Acquire Hipster Status in Australia

Some excerpts from the Sydney Morning Herald:

LATIN is up. So is legal studies. Visual arts and studies of religion have dropped slightly in the rankings but remain in the top 15 most popular courses for students undertaking this year’s Higher School Certificate, with exams to begin on Monday.

[...]

Latin is slightly up on last year with 173 students enrolled in the continuers course, making it the 14th most popular language course. Classical Greek has nine enrolments in continuers and six in extension despite being taught in only five high schools in the state. Classical Hebrew has experienced something of a revival this year, with 37 students enrolled in continuers, up on 28 last year.

”Classical languages are alive and well in NSW which is not necessarily the case in other places,” Ms Taylor said. ”There is always a small but significant number of students who see value in classical study. They are a very passionate group of students and teachers, I can tell you.”

The head of classics at Pymble Ladies’ College and president of the Classical Languages Teachers Association, Emily Matters, said reports of the demise of dead languages have been grossly exaggerated. ”People sometimes express surprise that they are still being taught but it hasn’t stopped. The one thing I regret is that more children aren’t given access.”

Dr Matters has adapted the 2nd-century story Cupid and Psyche for the stage in a production in Latin and Classical Greek. More than 60 students from 10 schools are involved in the production.

Grant Kynaston, a Sydney Grammar School student who plays Cupid, is studying Latin and Classical Greek and believes the ancient languages are coming back into vogue. ”They are hipster subjects,” he said. ”But seriously, it’s interesting to be able to read things which have maintained their relevance for two or three thousand years.”

Emily Baird, from Sydney Girls High School, who plays Psyche, was drawn to Latin for its meditative qualities. ”It’s quite therapeutic – that’s my inner-nerd coming out,” she said. ”I find it quite calming to go to Latin after doing English.”

… checking out the original article is a good thing: there’s a brief newsish video about the Cupid and Psyche production mentioned above …

Amazon and Scythian Words on Greek Vases?

This is yet another one which I could have sworn I had posted, but which I can’t find when I look for it. A very interesting article by Adrienne Mayor (and several others … it’s a pdf):

… to which we can add some commentary by languagehat:

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:

Also Seen: Greek Roots

We don’t often see newspaper articles acknowledge the contribution of ancient Greek to the English language — especially in a Canadian newspaper … a taste in medias res of an item in the Globe and Mail:

[...] In the unlikely event that you are asked to strip naked in a gym by a philologist, don’t freak out. The word “gymnastics” descends from its Greek parent gumnazo, which means “train naked” and comes from the word gumnós – “naked.” In ancient Greece, exercises were often performed in the nude, and at one time Olympic track meets were run in the buff because it was believed that the sun was soothing to the nerves of the back. While in practice sessions, the modern gymnast performs calisthenics, vigorous exercises to improve muscle tone and fitness. This term blends the Greek stem kalli, which means “beauty,” with the Greek word for strength, sthenos.

The Greek word for contest is athlon, and this has bequeathed to us four Olympic sports: the decathlon (10 events), the heptathlon (seven events), the pentathlon (five events) and the triathlon (three events). The pentathlon, in which contestants compete in shooting, fencing, swimming, riding and cross-country running, has an interesting history. The choice of these sports was based on the legend of a warrior who, having to convey a message to the rear of the fighting forces, had to battle on horseback with his pistol and sword. However, because his horse was killed in the struggle, he had to swim and run to complete his mission. [...]

… we appear to have been given license to tell people to strip naked; use it responsibly! ;)