Roman Burials from Bethlehem

Haven’t seen any more coverage of this other than from the Ma’an News Agency:

Roman-era catacombs were unearthed in Bethlehem Saturday during construction in an empty lot beside Bethlehem University.

The small underground cave system opens facing north, and held four stone coffins with engravings on each, housed in two separate dug out burial areas.

Head of Antiquates department in Jericho Wael Hamamrah estimated the artifacts, complete with skeletal remains and some pottery are between 1,800 and 1,900 years old.

Construction workers preparing to lay pipe in the yard called Palestinian tourism and antiquates police when they went to investigate the sudden collapse of earth in an area they had been digging in that morning.

The underground hall leads to two rooms, one 70×28 centimeters and the other 40×24 centimeters,

Head engineer at the site Mohammad Al-Quraji said the crew was very surprised when the earth collapsed, and stunned when they peered into the underground tombs. They left the scene untouched until antiquities experts arrived, and helped remove debris as experts investigated the site.

A not-very-useful photo accompanies the original article …

Cross Cultural Match of the Century!

… or so it seemed when I read this headline a bit too quickly:

Alexander on undercard as Latimore faces Spinks

… could the wily translator match up to the inquisitive Egyptian beastie? The followup tells the tale:

Spinks edges Latimore for IBF belt!

… and in case you were wondering, Alexander enneagrammatically KOed Jesus in the ninth round …

Cleveland Museum of Art Returns

Getting a smattering of coverage this past week was the announcement that the Cleveland Museum of Art would be returning 14 items (13 from the period within our purview) to Italy which were considered to be of dubious origin. In return, the CMoA will be receiving a loan of items of similar value. There don’t seem to be many photos of the items, but this red figure askos is one of my faves:

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer
From the Cleveland Plain Dealer

An excerpt from the coverage in the Plain Dealer:

Italian authorities used evidence collected in a police raid in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1995, which exposed a network of “tombaroli,” or tomb robbers, who passed the works to middlemen who sold them to museums.

Among the most significant objects being returned to Italy from Cleveland is a fourth-century B.C. Apulian red-figured volute krater — a large wine vessel — by the Dorias painter, which stands roughly 4 feet high.

Other works include Etruscan silver bracelets; a Neolithic bronze warrior from Sardinia; an Attic rhyton, or drinking vessel, in the shape of a mule; and a large, Corinthian-column krater.

Rub said the condition of the objects was inspected both by Italian and museum officials Tuesday before they were crated and sealed for transfer today.

The museum turned down requests from The Plain Dealer to observe and photograph the packing of the artworks, in part out of concern for security and in part because museum views the transfer as less important than the agreement reached with Italy last fall.

“I look upon this as a kind of mechanical thing,” Rub said. “The big news for me was the signing of the agreement.”

Of equal (or perhaps greater) interest is a little excerpt tucked into a sidebar photo:

The Cleveland Museum ofArt and Italy have created a joint committee to examine the museum’s “Victory with Cornucopia (Chariot Attachment),” purchased in 1984, plus a large bronze statue of Apollo Sauroktonos, or “Lizard Slayer,” to determine whether the works were looted in violation of modern laws.

I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about that.

As always in such things, David Gill’s  blogposts should be consulted:

Romans in China Redux

Folks who follow me on Twitter (for whatever reason) know that I spent much of yesterday returning to using Thunderbird as my email program of choice, during the course of which I came across assorted things which I had put aside to check out later, etc.. Among those items was the oft-repeated story about people from the Chinese village of Liqian being descended from Crassus’ troops. Every couple of years, we’d get a story — such as this one from ANSA back in 2005, this one from Xinhua from 2005, and this one from the Telegraph back in 2007 — in which we’d hear about genetic tests to prove or disprove such. It seems the testing was done and the results were published, but for some reason, the press doesn’t seem to have been interested in them (near as I can tell).

Here’s the relevant abstract:

The Liqian people in north China are well known because of the controversial hypothesis of an ancient Roman mercenary origin. To test this hypothesis, 227 male individuals representing four Chinese populations were analyzed at 12 short tandem repeat (STR) loci and 12 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP). At the haplogroup levels, 77% Liqian Y chromosomes were restricted to East Asia. Principal component (PC) and multidimensional scaling (MDS) analysis suggests that the Liqians are closely related to Chinese populations, especially Han Chinese populations, whereas they greatly deviate from Central Asian and Western Eurasian populations. Further phylogenetic and admixture analysis confirmed that the Han Chinese contributed greatly to the Liqian gene pool. The Liqian and the Yugur people, regarded as kindred populations with common origins, present an underlying genetic difference in a median-joining network. Overall, a Roman mercenary origin could not be accepted as true according to paternal genetic variation, and the current Liqian population is more likely to be a subgroup of the Chinese majority Han.

… oh well.