Mithridates’ Palace at Phangoria

I’ve been sitting on this one for a while too … mostly because of disorganization. In any event, from IC Russia:

Ruins of the burnt down palace of the ancient king Mithradates VI Eupator have been discovered in Taman Peninsula, on the place of the old city of Phanagoria.

On the site of fire archeologists also found purses with coins, and broken but otherwise well-preserved earthenware.

“The found coins are not a hoard: they were abandoned by the king”s family and courtiers trying to escape from the fire and violence” – the head of the Taman expedition Vladimir Kuznetsov says.

He reminded that Phanagoria, once a Greek colonial settlement, was for several centuries the capital of the Asian part of the Bosporus state. As for Mithradates VI, he lived there about the year 63 BC. Historians assume that a rebellion broke up in the city, and the residents captured the king”s daughter and four sons, and set on fire the centre of the city, including the palace, where the king”s family lived.

The account of the destruction of the palace is in Appian 108 (courtesy of

When he had recovered from his illness and his army was collected (it consisted of sixty picked cohorts of 6,000 men each and a great multitude of other troops, besides ships and strongholds that had been captured by his generals while he was sick) he sent a part of it across the strait to Phanagoria, another trading place at the mouth of the sea, in order to possess himself of the passage on either side while Pompey was still in Syria.

Castor of Phanagoria, who had once been maltreated by Trypho, the king’s eunuch, fell upon the latter as he was entering the town, killed him, and summoned the citizens to revolt. Although the citadel was already held by Artaphernes and other sons of Mithridates, the inhabitants piled wood around it and set it on fire, in consequence of which Artaphernes, Darius, Xerxes, and Oxathres, sons, and Eupatra, a daughter, of Mithridates, in fear of the fire, surrendered themselves and were led into captivity. Of these Artaphernes alone was about forty years of age; the others were handsome children.

Tip o’ the pileus to Adrienne Mayor who pointed me in the direction of a photo of one of the coins:

from Veste
from Veste

… Clearly a coin of Mithridates VI Eupator … There’s also a news video (in Russian) here (and some more photos if you can figure out the tabs) …

Statue of Augustus

I’m pretty sure we’ll hear more about this in the coming days, but just in case we don’t … from the Local:

Archaeologists in have discovered fragments of a 2,000-year-old bronze Roman equestrian statue of Emperor Augustus in a stream near Giessen, the Hessian state science ministry has announced.

“There has never been a find of such quality and preservation in Germany,” a statement from the ministry said, adding that it was a “sensational” discovery.

On August 12, archaeologists pulled the gold-gilded, life-sized head of a horse and a shoe of the emperor – who ruled the Roman Empire between 23 BC and 14 AD – from a stream in what was once the Roman outpost Germania Magna. Experts there have uncovered several bits of the statue among some 20,000 artefacts uncovered at the site in recent years.

Scientists from the University of Jena believe it may have been destroyed by Roman soldiers retreating after the legendary Varusschlacht, or the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD, when Germanic tribes ambushed and wiped out three Roman legions. As the remaining Roman troops retreated after the devastating defeat, they destroyed most of what they could not take with them.

“Due to the location of the find, there is a unique possibility to date the statue to a few exact years and establish a connection to the events surrounding the Varusschlacht 2,000 years ago,” the statement said.

The ministry plans to make an official presentation of the find on August 27.

I’m not sure if the gilded hoof shown on this page is from this find or not …

UPDATE (08/26/09): I’ve had this nagging question for the past few hours … why is this connected with the Varus thing? Are we to believe that Roman armies marched around with large equestrian statues while on campaign? Or am I missing something?

UPDATE II (a few minutes later): The Wikipedia article on Waldgrimes suggests an incipient major settlement had started there and never finished (photos at; presumably because of Varus. I wonder if this statue might not have been tossed in the river by the victorious Germans rather than retreating Roman armies …

Colossal Statue of Apollo from Hierapolis!

Corriere della Sera photo
Corriere della Sera photo

I’ve been sitting on this one all day waiting for some English source to pick it up, but none seems to be forthcoming (Today’s Zaman … where are you?) … the Italian press is reporting the discovery of fragments of what appears to be a statue of Apollo which would make a statue some four metres high! All of the reports are very brief, e.g., this concluding bit from Corriere della Sera (click the reference link for more photos):

I due frammenti permettono di ricostruire una statua colossale in marmo di più di 4 metri di altezza. La figura è seduta su un trono e indossa una tunica mirabilmente drappeggiata con un effetto di trasparenza che lascia intravedere la possente muscolatura. La statua colossale di Hierapolis – spiega D’Andria – rappresenta con grande probabilità Apollo, seduto in trono, che regge con il braccio sinistro la cetra e si può riferire al culto reso al dio nel vicino tempio costruito sotto l’imperatore Tiberio. Il ritrovamento – sottolinea l’esperto – assume un valore eccezionale per la qualità stilistica, per la particolarità dell’immagine di culto e per la rarità di queste opere – meno di una decina – in Asia Minore».

Periodico Italiano draws parallels with a similar statue from Claros:

“Le statue colossali erano diffuse nell’antichità – spiega d’Andria – le più famose tra quelle conservate sono state ritrovate nel Santuario di Claros, uno dei più famosi oracoli del mondo antico. Alte più di 7 metri, rappresentano Apollo seduto in trono, affiancato dalla sorella Artemide e dalla madre Latona, mentre una replica della stessa statua di Apollo, alta 3 metri, è stata ritrovata di recente a Sagalassos, non lontano da Antalya.”

As mentioned above, Claros was a major oracular centre in antiquity …

CONF: Lucretius in the European Enlightenment

Seen on the Classicists list:

Lucretius in the European Enlightenment
A Conference hosted by the School of History, Classics, and Archaeology
The University of Edinburgh

3 – 4 September 2009
For more information, see


Thursday 3 September

Venue: Old High School, Infirmary Street

9:00 Registration

9:20 Opening: Thomas Ahnert, Hannah Dawson, Michael Lurie

Chair: Dr Michael Lurie

9:40 Mr. David Butterfield (Cambridge):

‘Lucretius’ De rerum natura and classical scholarship in the eighteenth century’

10:40 Tea and Coffee

Chair: Dr Thomas Ahnert

11:10 Prof. Gianni Paganini (Università del Piemonte Orientale):

‘Pierre Bayle’s Lucretius’

Chair: Dr Hannah Dawson

12:10 Dr James Harris (St. Andrews):

‘Of shipwrecks and sympathy: Lucretius, Hume, and the pleasures of tragedy’

1:10 Lunch

Chair: Dr Tim Hochstrasser

2:30 Prof. Ann Thomson (Université Paris 8 Vincennes-St. Denis):

‘Lucretius and la Mettrie’

Chair: Dr Thomas Ahnert

3:30 Dr Tim Hochstrasser (London School of Economics and Political Science):

‘The role of Lucretius in Diderot’s later political thought’

4:30 Tea and Coffee

Chair: Prof. Ernst A. Schmidt

5:00 Prof. Alan Charles Kors (University of Pennsylvania):

‘Lucretius and d’Holbach’

6:00 Reception

8:00 Dinner at La Garrigue, 31 Jeffrey Street

Friday 4 September

Venue: Old High School, Infirmary Street

Chair: Prof. Gianni Paganini

9:30 Prof. Piet H. Schrijvers (Leiden):

‘Lucretius in the Dutch Enlightenment’

10:30 Tea and Coffee

Chair: Dr John Robertson

11:00 Prof. Andrew Laird (Warwick):

‘Lucretius and Spanish Jesuit culture after the Bourbon Reforms: Diego José Abad and Rafael Landívar in Italy’

Chair: Prof. Alan Charles Kors

12:00 Prof. Wolfgang Pross (Berne):

‘»Atheorum antistes et oraculum«: Enemies of Lucretius in the European Enlightenment’

1:00 Lunch

Chair: Dr Hannah Dawson

2:30 Dr Avi Lifshitz (University College London):

‘Lucretius and German debates over the origins of language, c. 1750’

Chair: Dr Avi Lifshitz

3:30 Dr Mario Marino (Jena):

‘Herder and Lucretius’

4:30 Tea and Coffee

Chair: Dr Michael Lurie

5:00 Prof. Ernst A. Schmidt (Tübingen):

‘Wieland and Lucretius’

Chairs: Thomas Ahnert, Hannah Dawson, Michael Lurie

6:00 Final Discussion

8:00 Dinner at The Home Bistro, 41 West Nicolson Street

Dr Michael Lurie
School of History, Classics and Archaeology
The University of Edinburgh
David Hume Tower
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9JX
Office: +44 (0)131 650 35 88
Fax: +44 (0)131 651 17 83
Email: michael.lurie AT

CFP: Sparta Journal of Ancient Spartan and Greek History Vol. 5 no. 2

Seen on various lists:

Call For Papers on behalf of Robert Montgomerie, Managing Editor of Sparta:

Journal of Ancient and Greek History, (ISSN 1751-0007) Nottingham, UK.

For the next issue of Σparta we would like to call for papers directed at
ideas around the archaeology of Spartan religiosity and Spartan Law. Papers
on architecture, temples, artefacts, ritual, divine justice etc. will be

Deadline: November 11th, 2009
Forthcoming Issue: Volume 5 no. 2 (January, 2010)
Max. number of words: 3,000 – bibliography is required

Please send your article with an email covering note to:
sparta AT

The articles will be peer-reviewed and the editorial may ask for further