Another Roman Ghost Story

From All News Web, and as with our previous ghost stories, FWIW:

A hotel in Romania recently became a site of interest for ghost hunters after a local photographed what appears to be a female spirit standing above its lobby stairwell. The hotel, named the Decebal, is situated in the mountain spa resort of Baile Herculane.
Local, Victorian Loval aged 33 and her boyfriend snuck inside the hotel which has been closed for five years for renovations. While inside she snapped the photo, but only saw the ghost later, when she developed the film. The hotel is said to stand on an ancient Roman ruin and the ghost appears to be wearing the white robe of an ancient Roman priestess.
Some have dismissed the photo as an illusion caused by irregular stonework in the lobby however others have been in the hotel since the event and swear that they saw the ghost. One group of students fled the building in fear after being confronted by the apparent spirit. Another man called friend from inside the lobby in a panic after claiming to have seen its ghostly resident. Some have commented that she might be guarding something of ancient importance.
Now it appears that the owner of the site is worried that this non-paying resident might be bad for business when the establishment re-opens. It is being reported in the Romanian press that the hotel management is planning to bring out a medium to make contact and ask the spirit why she remains and on what conditions she might ‘check-out’.

I don’t know what’s more amazing … that someone saw a ghost, or that someone is still using a film-based camera to take photos of  a not-particularly-photogenic stairwell … I have  (grade seven) students who could photoshop this after about five minutes of training. Don’t eat that Elmer …

Roman City Found in Algeria

A tantalizingly brief item from l’Unita reports the discovery of a Roman City in Algeria:

Alcuni resti archeologici sono stati scoperti a Zerdaza, a sud di Skikda, nell’est dell’Algeria. La scoperta e’ stata casuale, durante la costruzione di una casa. Secondo le prime analisi i resti appartenevano alla citta’ romana di Tabsus, che sorgeva sulle rive del fiume Safsaf. Tra i reperti ritrovati: colonne in marmo, alcuni torchi e una grande vasca per la raccolta dell’olio d’oliva, e una pietra di dimensioni importanti.

I’m completely out of my element on this one … I’ve never heard of Tabsus or of a Safsaf river. Is this a known Roman site or is this the sort of thing, say, that might have come to light in the wake of the recent arrest of an Australian antiquities dealer?

A Different Parallel/Analogy

Every week (it seems) I wade through piles of editorial flotsam and jetsam which claims the U.S. is like the Roman Empire, yadda yadda yadda, so it’s semi-refreshing when one reads a parallel like this incipit from Investor’s Chronicle:

The situation of Lloyds Bank puts one in mind of Greek tragedy. For instance, Aeschylus’ “The Supplicants”, in which the plot rest on the forced marriage of the 50 daughters of Danaus – the Danaides – to their cousins, the Aegyptians. To escape this fate, the Danaides flee to Argos, where King Pelasgus eventually agrees to protect them. But lo, the Aegytians turn up and threaten a blood bath. King Pelasgus is killed. Danaus takes his place but cannot resist the Aegyptians. The Danaides are duly married, but follow their father’s instructions to murder their husbands on their bridal beds. 49 do so. The husband of the fiftieth kills Danaus.

Direct parallels with Lloyds are hazy, but the essential commonality is there. Supplication by HBOS to be saved. Pelasgus – that’s Gordon Brown – offers to help but to no eventual avail. Like Lloyds, the Aegyptians achieve their improbable desire but are immediately decimated by it. There are a few more scenes to run yet… I fear the Lloyds body count hasn’t started.

Don’t know enough about the situation to comment on how close the analogy is, but it’s certainly different …

CFP: Scientists and Professionals in the Ancient World

7-9 SEPTEMBER 2009

The technical and scientific writing of Graeco-Roman antiquity has been the
focus of systematic scholarly study in recent decades. Attention has been
mainly directed towards the textual means through which ancient technical and
scientific knowledge was organised and codified. Relatively little scholarly
effort has been put into examining the role of authorial voice in the making of
such bodies of knowledge, despite the fact that authorial perspective is very
important in modern history of science and anthropology’s evaluation of how
scientific truth is constructed. Even less, until recently, has there been an
effort to connect ancient scientific writing with broader strategies of
cultivating a distinctly professional, or ‘specialist’ identity in antiquity,
such as are manifested through biography, epigraphy, or art. There has been
some important recent work in all of these areas, but this conference aims to
break new ground through a comparative approach which brings together scholars
working on many different areas of ancient professional and intellectual life,
investigating technical and scientific texts in a wide range of different
fields, and integrating that with attention to other kinds of evidence for
professional activity in the ancient world.

We are particularly interested in exploring the extent to which certain key
topoi of professional self-presentation may be traced across genres (including
poetry, philosophy or sophistic performance) or representational media (such as
inscriptions, funerary art, or sculpture). We envisage a particular focus on the
Roman Empire, but welcome papers on other periods.

The conference is funded by the Leverhulme Trust, as part of a wider project on
‘Science and Empire in the Roman World’. It is the third in a series of
conferences, following earlier events on ‘Encyclopedism before the Renaissance’
(June 2007) and on ‘Ancient Libraries’ (September 2008).
More information on the project may be found at:

Conference Organisers:
Dr Emma Gee (ergg
Dr Jason König (jpk3 AT
Dr Katerina Oikonomopoulou (ao40 AT
Professor Greg Woolf (gdw2 AT

We invite papers on the following topics:
• The social status and esteem of ancient scientists and professionals.
• Authorial voice and self-presentation in ancient technical and scientific
• Genres of professional self-presentation (texts, inscriptions, statues, or
grave monuments) and their relationship to one other.
• The institutional organisation of professional and scientific activity (such
as professional guilds, philosophical schools, and other educational
institutions) and its role in fostering, promoting and representing
professional ‘identity’ in antiquity.
• Ancient notions of the professional, the scientist, the intellectual.,
• Changing representations of particular professions and intellectual fields.
• Biographical representations of scientists and professionals; the ancient
professional in the eyes of others.

Scholars, including postgraduate students, are asked to send 300-word abstracts
to Katerina Oikonomopoulou (ao40 AT by the end of March 2009.

The Height of Alexander

A review of Simon Sebag-Montefiore , Heroes: History’s Greatest Men and Women at concludes thusly:

There was one glaring error: Alexander the Great’s height is given as 4’ 6”; but would make him the same height as the crippled poet Alexander Pope, and is never mentioned by the ancient authorities; surely the author means 5’ 6”, similar to Napoleon’s and quite a respectable stature?

I’m not sure we know what height Alexander was … over at there’s a reasonable guess of 5’6” or 5’7” …