Glossing Alma-Tadema

One of the things in my box this a.m. was a video from the Smart History folks about Alma-Tadema’s Listening to Homer:

… and I followed a sidebar link and found another video from the Clark Art Institute about the same artist’s Women of Amphissa (a print of which once graced the back of the door in a grad office at Queen’s when I was there):

I’ll leave it to you to decide which presentation is more effective …

Classics Confidential | Amy Smith Talks About the Ure Museum (et alia)

The tease:

In the fourth interview recorded during this year’s Classical Association CC’s Anastasia Bakogianni talks with Dr Amy Smith, a member of the Classics Department at the University of Reading which hosted this year’s meeting. This interview and the one with Dr Sonya Nevin that follows were recorded on the premises of the Ure Museum, with Amy’s kind permission in her capacity as the Museum’s curator. CC gratefully acknowledges its debt to Dr Smith and the Classics Department at the University of Reading for allowing us to film on location!

In this interview Amy talks about the Ure Museum’s long history, its early days and the excavation work of Percy Neville Ure, the University’s first Professor of Classics, and the museum’s development over the years. She also speaks about some of the current collaborations that the Ure is involved in with local schools in Reading and the British Museum.

In the second part of the interview Amy talks about her love for the iconography of the classical world and her engagement with digital classics. Lastly Amy tells us about a recent volume she co-edited with Sadie Pickup: Brill’s Companion to Aphrodite. The idea for the book arose when a headless statue of Aphrodite was chosen as the item on loan from the British Museum that would be displayed in the Ure Museum; thus we return full circle back to the museum at the heart of the Classics Department at Reading.

Classics Confidential | Gail Holst-Warhaft on Penelope’s Confession

The official description:

In this interview, Professor Gail Holst-Warhaft of Cornell University joined CC’s Anastasia Bakogianni to discuss her love of Greece (both ancient and modern), and to share with us how this life-long love affair found a creative outlet in her poetry collection Penelope’s Confession (Cosmos Books, 2007).

 

Classics Confidential | Judy Hallett: American Women and the Study of the Classics

The Intro:

This week’s Classics Confidential vodcast features Professor Judith Hallett of The University of Maryland talking about her work on American women’s engagement with the classics. She discusses the difficulties that women faced in gaining entry into higher education and in establishing their scholarly role and position. And she talks about the fascinating case of Edith Hamilton, who taught classics and wrote a number of influential books that helped to shape a whole generation’s response to ancient Greece and Rome.

The Afterlife of Ovid ~ Conference Videos!

Last weekend, the Warburg Institute and the Institute for Classical Studies hosted a conference called The Afterlife of Ovid and a number of videos from the meeting have made it to Youtube. I’m going to sort of intersperse an ‘edited program’ with the videos (not all talks are there … not sure if they will be coming later today or what):

Thursday 7 March 2013

10. 50 Welcome: John North (IClS)

11.00 Professor Frank Coulson (Ohio State University)
Bernardo Moretti: A Newly Discovered Humanist Commentator on Ovid’s Ibis

11.50 Dr Ingo Gildenhard (University of Cambridge)
Dante’s Ovidian Poetics

1.50 Professor Gesine Manuwald (University College London)
Letter-writing after Ovid: his impact on Neo-Latin verse epistles

2.40 Professor Hélène Casanova-Robin (Université Paris-Sorbonne Paris IV)
D’Ovide à Pontano : le mythe, une forma mentis? De l’inuentio mythologique à l’élaboration d’un idéal d’humanitas

4.00 Dr Fátima Díez-Platas (Universidad de Santiago de Compostela)
Et per omnia saecula imagine vivam: The imaged afterlife of Ovid in fifteenth and sixteenth century book illustrations

4.50 Dr Caroline Stark (Ohio Wesleyan University)
Reflections of Narcissus

Friday 8 March 2013

10.30 Professor John Miller (University of Virginia)
‘Ovid’s Janus and the Start of the Year in Renaissance Fasti Sacri.

11.20 Professor Philip Hardie (University of Cambridge)
Milton as Reader of Ovid’s Metamorphoses

12.10 Dr Victoria Moul (King’s College London)
The transformation of Ovid in Cowley’s herb garden: Books 1 and 2 of the Plantarum Libri Sex (1668).

2.00 Professor Maggie Kilgour (McGill University)
Translatio Studii, Translatio Ovidii

2.50 Professor Hérica Valladares (John Hopkins University)
The Io in Correggio: Ovid and the Metamorphosis of a Renaissance Painter

4.10 Professor Elizabeth McGrath (Warburg Institute)
Rubens and Ovid

Note in passing: this is a pretty good model for recording a conference or panel session although it might be useful if handouts were posted at the original conference website.

Video: Edward Cohen on Ancient Greek Crises

The blurb:

Edward E. Cohen, Adjunct Professor of Classical Studies, University of Pennsylvania, and Trustee Emeritus, American School of Classical Studies at Athens, will discuss the relationship between the current Greek, European, and American financial crises while examining what can be learned from the experiences of the ancient Greeks.

Video: Was There a Trojan War?

I seem to have missed this UPenn video last week:

Was there a Trojan War? Assessing the Evidence from Recent Excavations at Troy
In the course of the latest campaign of excavations at Troy, in northwestern Turkey, archaeologists have uncovered a wealth of evidence that enables us to situate the site within the political and military history of the late Bronze Age (14th/13th centuries BCE). Dr. C. Brian Rose, Curator, Mediterranean Section, Penn Museum, speaks at this “Great Battles: Moments in Time that Changed History” series lecture program.

Video: Brian Rose on the ‘Warts and All’ Thing

And we might as well include official descriptions of these UPenn videos too:

When one visualizes the Roman Republic, the first image that usually comes to mind is that of a male aristocrat whose portrait bears the signs of advanced age: incised lines on or around the forehead, eyes, and mouth, and short, closely cropped hair that is often receding. On occasion there is no hair at all, and the irregularly shaped heads frequently feature large ears, thick lips, and sharply aquiline noses. Why did the Romans choose such an unusual type, and how long did it remain in vogue? In this lecture, Dr. C. Brian Rose, Curator-in-Charge, Mediterranean Section, answers these and other questions about Roman portraits, and presents new archaeological evidence from the northern Galilee that bears on the date of the type’s creation.

Classics Confidential: Daniela Manetti on Ancient Medicine

I think I’ll include the original description with these Classics Confidential posts …

This week’s interview features Professor Daniela Manetti from the University of Florence, who at the time of filming was visiting the Humboldt University in Berlin as part of the research programme ‘Medicine of the Mind, Philosophy of the Body: Discourses of Health and Well-Being in the Ancient World’. Professor Manetti has published on a wide variety of ancient medical texts, but in this conversation she focuses on the intriguing papyrus fragment known to us as the Anonymus Londinensis, which was found in Egypt and bought by the British Library in 1889. This text, which discusses the multiple causes of illness, is a treasure trove for ancient medical historians, but it also gives us a unique and precious insight into the processes of ancient textual composition. www.classicsconfidential.co.uk

Review: Rome’s Lost Empire

Not sure how long this one will be up on Youtube, so it might be a good idea to watch it now … my review follows:

We’ll begin by noting that when this one first appeared on the BBC a week or two ago, it seemed to be universally-panned by folks on twitter and facebook. It had been hyped by the BBC (who produced the program).and by the University of Alabama (whence comes Sarah Parcak, whose work sparked the show: Birmingham Egyptologist Sarah Parcak featured in BBC show on lost treasures rediscovered from space). In case you didn’t know, Parcak was the “space archaeologist” who was in the news a year and a half ago for finding a pile of Egyptian sites (including pyramids) using her satellite methods (e.g. Egyptian pyramids found by infra-red satellite images … BBC). She also gave a very interesting TED talk that you should check out if you get a chance: Sarah Parcak: Archeology from space ).

That said, we have to note that this particular documentary has a pile of the ‘devices’ that I find incredibly annoying in documentaries about the ancient world, and all of them are connected to trying to create ‘drama’. For example, although the thing is hosted by the very capable Dan Snow, I really don’t care about his parents dragging him around ancient sites or Dr Parcak’s imaginary space ship.  We really don’t need silly statements about Dr Parcak being an ‘ordinary lecturer’ by day, but someone who sits in front of a computer at night doing research (don’t we all do that?). I don’t like the ‘contrivedness’ of having Dr Parcak being set up in the ruins of Portus/Ostia (can’t tell which), supposedly doing the research for the first time when we all know it was all done well in advance of any footage being shot. We also don’t need the shots of her working long hours into the night or confessions of self doubt, yadda yadda yadda. The UK version of all this is an hour and twenty minutes long; when the program comes to the US this summer, it is apparently going to be shorter. If they’re looking for things to cut out, that’s a nice list.

As long as we’re talking about editing things out, I should also note that in general, the documentary puts one in the same mood as one might have been listening to the Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main Street for the first time: so much good stuff if the other bits were stripped out. In particular, the supposed unifying element in this program — the question of how Rome maintained such a vast empire with so few soldiers — is completely unneeded and the focus should have been from the start simply what the new technologies can tell us that we didn’t need to learn before. We don’t need to make it look like we are suddenly coming up with a new theory when we’re just finding evidence confirming what is already believed by a majority of scholars.

That said, there is some really good information here, but not all of it is without controversy. The first segment is devoted to Portus and is seeking to help Simon Keay and crew find things like canals and the lighthouse. Back in 2010, a canal find at Portus was big news (Major Roman Canal from Portus!). In 2011, we read about a shipyard find (Huge Roman Shipyard Found (Maybe)) .

Unfortunately, the segment with Keay and crew is just an introductory tease and we are taken to the land of the Dacians — which, of course, is more dramatically referred to as ‘Transylvania’. Outside of the use of sonar to ‘sort of” find the footings of the bridge Trajan built across the Danube (and the expected graphical recreations), what is really important here is the use of LiDAR to find evidence of rampants around Sarmizgetusa. The segment involves a big gun in Dacian archaeology (Gelu Florea) and really deserved a bit more attention than it had. But it’s really our first indication of what these new technologies can reveal to us.

Back to Portus where Parcak has (finally, it dramatically appears) located something with her infrared-enhanced satellite technology: a major canal running up the *east* side of the Tiber. This is an incredible find and it would have been very nice if they could have somehow followed it further to see how far it actually went. As with the previously-mentioned canal find (above), I can only ask  what effect all these canals had on the water levels of the Tiber. Someone needs to correlate reports of flooding of the Tiber to construction of canals like these.

Unfortunately (again), they don’t really go very deep into the matter and suddenly have a need to dash off to Jordan. There’s lots of dramatic silliness until we meet up with Chris Tuttle, who has been working in the environs of Petra over the past few years. The goal of this segment is to find evidence of “abundance” under the pax Romana and Parcak locates a promising site with the infrared satellite thing. The trio (Snow, Parcak, and Tuttle) do a quick survey and find potsherds, some of which are apparently Roman. Supposedly this is evidence of “abundance” … more detail is needed here.

Back to Portus, where Parcak identifies what is possibly a Roman amphitheatre. This is presented as a new find and is really quite dishonest as presented. In fact, Keay made the claim to have found this back in 2009 — and for some reason it doesn’t seem to have been mentioned by me. Happily, the Science Daily coverage is still up: Archaeologists Discover Amphitheatre In Excavation Of Portus, Ancient Port Of Rome … as is Mary Beard’s criticism of all the hype: The luxury amphitheatre at Portus. After the tease, we are shown the shipyards mentioned above (also not a new discovery, obviously).

Then we’re off to Tunisia, which apparently was “Rome’s granary” (as if Sicily and Egypt suddenly weren’t producing). The big name here is David Mattingly, who is pleased to learn from the satellite technology about a fort (which the gang explores … and it is apparent that some diggers have already been there). Along the way we are shown remains of a Roman frontier wall … it would have been nice to see the extent of this — does it rival Hadrian’s Wall?

Finally, we head back to Portus, where this time the LiDAR is used to identify a big platform. Keay concludes that it must be the platform the lighthouse stood on and there follows much recreation — interestingly, the Portus Project’s webpage sort of downplays the recreation of the lighthouse, although it finds it useful. Missing in this segment would have been an overlay of the harbour itself to see if this platform actually extended into the water. As presented, it’s a few dotted red lines on a satellite shot. I still can’t quite figure this one out.

In closing, I should also mention something that I found annoying in all this: there were no subtitles to identify the various archaeologists and they don’t appear to be mentioned individually in the credits (although they might be clipped from the Youtube version).  Definitely something that should have been included, if only to allow people to follow up on things. Stripped away of the docuembellishments and other shortcomings, though, the program does go far to show the utility of Parcak’s satellite-infrared approach to finding sites as well as the incredible potential for LiDAR. We’ll very likely be seeing similar docu-applications in the future.

Some other reviews:

What Latin Do You Know?

I’m still trying to track down the official Papal Bull which established the Latin Academy which the pope recently decreed, but until then, this Rome Reports video is actually really good:

… I wonder what would happen if they asked the same question on the streets of some North American city (both knowledge-wise and ‘accent-wise’)