Interesting item from Hurriyet:
A mosaic featuring an Eros figure fishing on horse has been found in the southern province of Adana’s Yumurtalık district. The half fish-half horse Eros, which is called Hippocampus in Greek mythology, is claimed to be the one and only such mosaic in the world.
Made up of marble, glass and stone, the mosaic is estimated to date back to the late Roman or early Byzantine era.
The Adana Museum Directorate has initiated archaeological excavations in the region where the mosaic was discovered. One week ago the existence of a villa was determined in the area. The villa was thought to be owned by a top state official and the Eros mosaic was revealed when a part of the villa was excavated.
Yumurtalık Deputy Mayor Erdol Erden said the Eros mosaic was found during a one-week excavation. “We found young and adult Eros figures in the villa. Experts say that these figures were the first and only such figures in the world,” Erden said.
… as often, the original article is accompanied by a photo of the piece which is really interesting … there are a pair of Erotes fishing from the backs of hippocampi … the Erotes also look rather more mature than we’re used to (not the pudgy little kids); the one actually looks like one of the BeeGees …
Just this a.m. in our Explorator newsletter we were mentioning how looting of antiquities was funding the revolution in Syria … and now my spiders bring in some horrible news from AFP via the Global Post:
At least 18 ancient mosaics depicting scenes from Homer’s “The Odyssey” have been stolen in northern Syria, the culture minister was quoted as saying on Sunday.
“These mosaics were stolen during illegal excavations” on archaeological sites in the war-torn country’s northeast, Lubana Mushaweh said in an interview published on Sunday by the government daily Tishreen.
“We have been informed that these mosaics are now on the Syrian-Lebanese border,” she said without elaborating.
As the nearly two-year Syrian revolt has morphed into an armed insurgency, experts say fierce fighting and deteriorating security have left the country’s extraordinary archaeological heritage susceptible to damage and prey to a rising number of looters.
The minister said that an Aramaic gold-plated bronze statue was stolen from the Hama museum, a raging front in the war between loyalist troops and rebels.
Mushaweh admitted that her ministry faced great difficulties in “safeguarding 10,000 historical sites scattered around Syria,” cautioning against illegal excavations “which could damage some sites and buried cities.”
But she insisted that museums across the country were “well guarded” and “their prized possessions for all humanity have been archived and placed in very secure locations”.
… I can’t track down from what museum or site these were stolen from (“illegal excavations”) and if they were already known or not … the only photos that seem to accompany articles are some rebels sitting under a Roman mosaic that I don’t think (or hope) is related …
A mosaic from the second or third century with a human figure has been found during the construction of a district bazaar area in the southern province of Mersin’s Tarsus district.
Tarsus Gov. Orhan Şefik Güldibi said the mosaic was unearthed by chance in the construction area.
“Maybe we have reached one of the most important archaeological remains in Tarsus. We know that the history of Tarsus dates back to ancient ages. We have found Orpheus mosaics on the ancient Roman road next to the courthouse. It shows us the richness of the district’s archaeological treasures,” he said.
After unearthing the mosaic, construction work was halted and scientific work was initiated. The district governor said that there was a structure 25 meters by five meters in the area they thought could be a water cistern from the early Roman period.
“This structure may also be the remains of a bath, palace or villa. We will see after the examinations. The human mosaic has Greek writing on it, which will be translated by experts. We think there are other mosaics around this one. We will restore and display it,” Güldibi said.
- via: Mosaic found at a bazaar construction (Hurriyet)
… as often, Hurriyet includes an annoyingly small photo of the mosaic (we want to read the Greek!!!!), ecce:
… I can’t figure it out, other than perhaps to suggest this is the origin of North American style football as we clearly have a quarterback sporting a playoff beard … more coffee needed.
This seems to be more covert hype for a(n interesting) book than ‘news’ per se (maybe not), but … from a Carlos III University of Madrid press release:
This line of research, coordinated by Luz Neira, who is a professor in the Department of Humanities: History, Geography and Art, as well as a researcher in UC3M’s Institute for Culture and Technology (Instituto de Cultura y Tecnología), continues on the path established by previous studies that examined the images of women and certain legends in Roman mosaics. “We had previously shown the memory and conscious, self-interested reuse of myths, but this new volume also examines the possibility that there is a subliminal message regarding the elites’ fundamental concept of the civilization versus barbarism binomial,” explains the historian, who was in charge of the coordination and publication of ‘Civilización y barbarie: el mito como argumento en los mosaicos romanos’ (‘Civilization and Barbarism: Myths as plots in Roman Mosaics’) (CVG, 2012). A variety of specialists in Roman mosaics also collaborated on this book, which offers a new perspective in the approach to mythology and its reuse throughout history, which was a result of “a conscious and self-interested phenomenon of re-semantization.”
Specifically, there are premeditated and conscious recreations of certain mythological characters and episodes from different areas of the Empire, which were selected and even distorted in order to generate a spirit, deepen principles, or recall the foundations upon which their privileged position within the Roman state had been established, the researchers explain. “They re-used certain Greek myths as symbols that reinforced what Rome stood for,” states Luz Neira, “because they were of transcendental importance, due to the universal values they depicted, and they became champions of civilization”.
The scene of Achilles in Skyros, one of the most frequently depicted among the mosaics of the imperial epoch and which can be found, for example, in the villa of La Olmeda (Palencia), seems to be intended to highlight the archetype of the hero who is capable of giving his life for his country. The legends of divinities such as Dionysius and Aphrodite, the Labors of Hercules, the Journeys of Perseus and the battles between Amazons and centaurs are some of the other mythological episodes that originated in Greece that the Romans appropriated as their own and converted into models to be followed. “The memory of a legendary war and a mythological hero would become with the passing of time, and even up to the present day, the phenomenon with the greatest impact on people and individuals; this is what led us to analyze the myth as the story of the struggle between civilization and barbarism,” concludes the researcher.
Historiography in mosaics
Until now, the concept of the civilization in the Roman Empire had been analyzed using written sources and official images found in public spaces, in sculptures or relieves of certain monuments, such as arcs, steles or commemorative columns. However, very little in-depth research had been done on the representation of these concepts in private spaces, perhaps due to their domestic character, the researchers point out. “We were surprised by the absence of references of this type in the form of mosaics, where due to their unusual circumstances of conservation in situ the mosaic documentation offers an authentic repertoire of tile work, with geometric, plant and human figure decoration, connected to the private domestic contexts that pertained to the most privileged sectors of Roman society in any urban or rural location of the Empire,” comments Professor Neira.
In this respect, according to this historian, it seemed unthinkable, a priori, that members of the elite, who were involved in the government and matters of the Empire, would not have made use of the significant surface area of the mosaics that paved the living spaces of their domus and villae to commemorate their victories and their identification with Rome as a guarantor of civilization as opposed to “barbarism”. “They did it,” states Luz Neira, “by depicting re-used myths that evoked the values that, from an ideological point of view, Rome wished to represent.”
- via: The Romans used Greek myths in their mosaics as symbols of civilization (Carlos III University of Madrid)
Brief item from ANSA:
Monasterace (Reggio Calabria), September 20 – A large mosaic, likely of ancient Greek origins, has been discovered in the southern Italian town of Monasterace.
The discovery was announced Thursday by Mayor Maria Carmela Lanzetta.
The polychrome mosaic, said to be well-preserved, measures 25 square meters and covers the entire floor of a room in a thermal bath.
According to archaeologist Francesco Cuteri, who made the discovery, the mosaic is the largest found in southern Italy and dates from the Hellenistic period, which ran from about 323 BC to about 146 BC
- via: Hellenistic mosaic found in southern Italy (ANSA)
The Italian coverage adds some details, such as Monasterace being the ancient site of Kaulon. Reggio TV also includes this photo of one of the mosaics:
- via: Kaulon restituisce il più grande mosaico ellenistico del Sud (Reggio TV)
ANSA’s Italian coverage includes this one:
- via: Scoperto mosaico greco, piu’ grande Sud (ANSA)
… which doesn’t quite seem to match, but it is a large mosaic …