Yes Minister – Trojan Horse

While poking around to see if there was a way to make links to the Colbert Report more ‘universal’ (i.e. via Youtube) I came across this funny Yes, Minister clip (I used to watch this show … can’t recall ever seeing this episode) … there’s some good Latin stuff here (after a couple of minutes of introduction) … this is what happens to Classics majors when/if they grow up:

Colbert Papae Salutem Dicit

At the end of a funny clip commenting on the Pope’s recent wrist injury, Stephen Colbert sends a Gregorian Chantesque ‘get well card’ to the pontiff … You can watch the clip via the Comedy Network (Canada) or Comedy Central (US) … not sure about other jurisdictions (July 22 edition)…

CONF: Judaea and Rome in Coins

seen on Ioudaios:


An International Conference

13 & 14 September 2010

A two-day conference with the theme Judaea and Rome in Coins, 65 BCE to 135
AD, will be held at the premises of Spink and Son Ltd. in London on Monday
13th and Tuesday 14th September 2010.

This event, co-ordinated by David Jacobson, Nikos Kokkinos and Philip
Skingley and co-sponsored by the Institute of Jewish Studies at University
College London (UCL), follows two previous London conferences (‘The World of
the Herods and Nabataeans’ in 2001 and ‘Herod and Augustus’ in 2005), which
were successful events and have become reference points.

The period covered spans the Roman conquest of Judaea by Pompey through to
the last major Jewish uprising against Roman rule under Simon Bar-Kokhba,
and encompasses the birth of Christianity. The past few decades have seen
considerable advances in numismatic scholarship dealing with this period,
partly stimulated by archaeological exploration and numerous coin finds,
which have shed new light on the historical events and associated political,
social and economic issues. We should like to use this conference to
exchange views and analyse the fresh developments from new perspectives.

Well-known experts in the fields of Roman and Jewish numismatics will be
delivering lectures in four sessions over two days, these are:

Michel Amandry, Dan Barag, Julian Bowsher, Andrew Burnett, Kevin Butcher,
Ted Buttrey, David Hendin, David Jacobson, Morten H rning Jensen, Nikos
Kokkinos, Larry Kreitzer, Kenneth Lonnqvist, Sam Moorehead and Danny Syon.

Hospitality in the form of buffet lunches and refreshments will be provided.
The Conference Proceedings will be published.

A small related exhibition will be on display in the Spink showrooms for the
duration of the Conference and a visit to the British Museum is scheduled
where a further related exhibition is planned.

The cost of participation for the four sessions is 80 or 50 for full-time
students. To register your interest in this event please contact Philip
Skingley at Spink and Son Ltd., 69 Southampton Row, Bloomsbury, London WC1B

Tel. +44 207 563 4045 / Fax. +44 207 563 4068 or email: pskingley AT

Due to limitations of capacity it is important to register your intention to
attend early. A 25% deposit payable now will secure a place on a first-come
first-served basis. Budget accommodation in University student halls of
residence is expected to be available to attendees. If you require such
accommodation, please indicate this in your registration of interest, but
this needs to be notified before the end of the year.

Berlusconi Hiding Antiquities?

Okay … this is a bizarre one (to me anyway) in the myriad ways it’s being covered. The Italian Daily l’Espresso has been publishing some ‘sex tapes’ which apparently were made by one of Silvio Belusconi’s paramours, and in one of them, he reveals that there are Phoenician (Punic, more likely … possibly even Greek) remains under one of his villas in Sardinia. Different press outlets are choosing to concentrate on ‘sex’ side, but many are looking at the ‘antiquities’ side as well … here’s excerpts from the Daily Mail coverage:

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s sex tapes are the talk of Italy today – but not because of their racy content.

Instead Italians are outraged at the Prime Minister’s inadvertent boast of 30 ancient tombs buried on his estate – an apparent find of great archaeological significance that should have been reported.

The recordings were made by high class escort Patrizia D’Addario, 42, and even include a conversation allegedly between her and Berlusconi, 72, in which she praises him for his sexual performance.


But Italians did not seem overly worried about the tapes allegedly detailing their leader’s sexual exploits – until the revelation of the existence of the tombs.

In one transcript published in Italian media yesterday, Berlusconi is heard apparently boasts to Ms D’Addario about the existence of 30 Phoenician tombs, from the 3rd century BC on his Villa Certosa estate on Sardinia where guests have included Tony Blair.

After some small talk about sex – including Berlusconi apparently giving Ms D’Addario some crude sex tips – he then appears to describe how at Villa Certosa there is a ‘fossilised whale and 30 Phoenician tombs from three centuries before Christ.’

Any discovery of historical significance should be reported to the Ministry of Culture in Rome and to the local paramilitary police office in charge of artistic heritage.
Berlusconi’s villa, near Olbia, Sardinia, is nestled in rolling countryside, and allegedly comes with ancient tombs which could further the story of Italy’s history

Berlusconi’s villa, near Olbia, Sardinia, is nestled in rolling countryside, and allegedly comes with ancient tombs which could further the story of Italy’s history

Failure to do so can result in a fine of up to 3,000 Euro and or a year in jail – and it would appear that Berlusconi has not reported the existence of the tombs.

Today Giuseppina Manca di Mores, of Italy’s National Association of Archaeologists, said: ‘If the presence of these 30 previously unknown tombs on Berlusconi’s estate is confirmed it represents a very significant discovery.

‘As an association we are calling for an immediate examination because the historical significance of these tombs is vital to the study of the Phoenician civilization which we know was significant in the Mediterranean.

The remains of a Phoenician city by archaeologists digging in Beirut in 1997. The find was touted as historic – and now archaeologists are concerned that a find of similar historic significance is buried on Berlusconi’s estate

The remains of a Phoenician city by archaeologists digging in Beirut in 1997. The find was touted as historic – and now archaeologists are concerned that a find of similar historic significance is buried on Berlusconi’s estate

‘For years historians have debated whether the nearby town of Olbia was founded by the Greeks or the Phoenicians and these tombs could be the breakthrough needed to provide the answer.

‘Greek artefacts have been discovered already in the area but Phoenician tombs would be a new piece to the puzzle and open up a whole new field of historical research.’

Today opposition leaders called for an inquiry into the tombs.


In case you’re wondering, Berlusconi was describing his villa and said, inter alia:

SB: Questa è una balena fossilizzata
SB: Sotto qua abbiamo scoperto 30 tombe fenice … del 300 avanti cristo
SB: Ecco, vedi, questi qua sono i meteoriti. Questi son quelli che mi ha regalato … visti questi qua io sono andato in India … questo qui è il labirinto …. che ti ho detto.

UPDATE (09/25/09): Berlusconi’s lawyer is doing damage control, according to Earthtimes:

Berlusconi’s lawyer, Niccolo Ghedini, has disputed the veracity of the series of tapes that began appearing on left-leaning magazine L’Espresso’s site on Monday.

On Friday he slammed what he said were the latest “unverified reports.”

“Berlusconi would have never spoken of the discovery of 30 Phoenician tombs in his park, because nothing of the sort exists or has been found in the area of Villa Certosa,” Ghedini was quoted as saying by the ANSA news agency.

According to Ghedini, the grounds surrounding Villa Certosa – where Berlusconi often hosts foreign dignitaries – have been inspected by Italian judicial officials in the past.

UPDATE (later the same day): L’Espresso is  now contending that Ghedini is lying: Le ‘tombe fenicie’ esistono, Ghedini le visitò nel 2005 … but L’Unione Sarda claims no one has seen any such ruins: Nessun avviso archeologico di tombe fenicie a Sassari

Ancient Port of Trafalgar

I’m hoping we’ll get more on this one, but many of these items reported by ANSA never seem to make it beyond ANSA’s own English coverage:

Searches along the Cadiz coast have led Spanish archaeologist Joaquim Casellas to find the ancient port of Trafalgar, 50 metres below the waves and partly buried at a depth of 15 metres below the sea floor. “This is one of the most important archaeological finds ever in Spain” said the Spanish researcher, who previously discovered some of the new rooms inside the pyramids of Cheops and Giza together with Zahi Hawass. In his research in Andalusia, Casellas has employed the airborne radar survey techniques also used in Egypt. The ruins of the port of Trafalgar, uncovered together with many archaeological finds, date back to a time before the Roman period. As Casellas explained to the press, they could go back to the era of the Phoenicians or even further. The port was found in the area of the Cape which give its name to the historic battle in 1805 in which Napoleon’s dream to conquer Britain was shattered. The site “has a surface of 15 by 3km” according to the archaeologist, “the submerged part is 50m under water, the land part is 15m below the surface.” Thanks to radar survey techniques, Castellas can now reveal that “the port is surrounded by a 30m-high wall,” with “a large-scale geometric layout similar to the pattern found in the ruins of Ampurias,” the Greek-Roman city in the Catalan region of Upper Empordà in Girona. According to the researcher, several buildings were constructed on the port in successive periods. Castellas has used aircrafts equipped with radar in his search, since diving in the area, a protected nature reserve, is not allowed. The radar used in the research can find signs of urbanisation as deep as 400m, and “was designed to survey large land masses with a fine-toothed comb.”The results of the air survey were superimposed on Google maps of area: “They make clear” the archaeologist said “the ancient port is shown in red, which stands out against the surrounding area, shown in green, littered with archaeological relicts and finds.” The method used, according to Castellas, “gives us a much wider and detailed view, enabling us quickly to find valuable archaeological sites at a lower cost per expeditions, which is the most complicated and costly parts of research.” Interest in Spain by marine archaeology has been reawakened in recent years, partly thanks to the find in 2007 of the half a billion dollars worth of golden and silver doubloons by the North American treasure hunting company Odyssey. But Castellas said, referring to the antique port of Trafalgar, that no old relicts or treasure chests will be brought to the surface. “To recover some of the treasures of the ancient civilisations” he explained “we need investments which are only possible with real political interest in archaeology.”

This Google Earth modification from ECD might give you a better idea of the nature of this find: