Saving the Nimes Amphitheatre

Nice item in the Times about Thierry Algrin’s efforts to ensure that the Roman amphitheatre at Nimes continues to stand. Apparently the major problem now is water seeping into stones and mortar. Twenty million Euros have been allocated, but that is destined only to help the exterior. A local politician suggests the renovations might take 40 years. Contrarily, M. Algrin dixit:

“It shouldn’t take that long … I am confident that it will be completed this time because there is a real consensus now that something must be done. We can’t just walk away.”

On the reasons for the damage:

“This seems to be speeding up. The question is why is this happening now, when the building has been there for 2,000 years? The only explanation is that the houses in the amphitheatre from the 6th to the 18th centuries kept the water off.”

Roman Taxation in Judaea?

Some sort of conservative publication called Gather claims, inter alia:

In Jesus’ time, the Roman Empire taxed the Israelites at a rate of 65 percent of gross wages or gross agricultural production.Yes, you read that correctly.

The Romans got 65 percent. The Israelites kept 35 percent. This was designed to keep the laborers struggling to survive. The Romans wanted to ensure that the laborers had little time to express their discontent.

An attached comment suggests:

For those who are skeptical about the Roman tax rate, there is a footnote

Robert J. Miller Ph.D., lecture at Epworth By The Sea Methodist Retreat Center, St. Simons Island, GA, 10/07/2003. Fellow at http//

I’ll hold my tongue about footnoting claims made in lectures and also about the appropriateness of referring to ‘Israelites’ at this time … but can anyone come up with a combination of Roman taxes that would give a 65% taxation rate?


Something I’ve always wondered about, but never long enough to actually look up, is the origin of the word ‘Vatican’ … A piece in CathNews saves me a bit of trouble:

Sanctified by what is believed to be the site of Peter’s martyrdom and burial, this ground was numinous even in pagan days. First, it was a place where Etruscan prophets “vaticinated” (prophesied) which gave it the name “Vatican”. Then, it was sacred to the mother goddess Cybele, honoured by a corps of dancing eunuchs.

So it is the home of ‘vates’ … I won’t make the obvious comment about eunuchs …

Epigonion Redux

Science Daily is reporting on the ASTRA project’s reconstruction of an epigonion, apparently thinking this is something new. Faithful readers of rogueclassicism will recall this selfsame project’s selfsame news on this selfsame instrument back in September (from a report in the Register). Clearly the current report is designed for ‘publicity’ purposes:

The ASTRA project will be demonstrating the epigonion at this week’s
EGEE User Forum, 2-6 March 2009, Catania, Italy.  People will be able
to listen to the reconstructed instrument and play it using a MIDI
keyboard. The demonstration will also allow visitors to run real
reconstruction on the grid. A professional musician will play ancient
scores on the epigonion.

Back in September we noted that an mp3 was available of the reconstructed instrument’s sound, but tonight it seems to be consistently crashing firefox … ymmv.