Greek Necropolis at Gela?

Another one which probably won’t go much beyond the Italian press (where it is getting rather brief attention, actually) … Archaeologists working in downtown Gela have come across remains of a 7th to 5th century B.C. (Greek) necropolis. So far, four tombs have been found of the enchytrismos alla cappuccina variety and it is believed they may be part of a much larger necropolis identified by Paolo Orsi at the turn of the (20th) century. Here’s the coverage from Il Giornale:

Una necropoli arcaica è stata scoperta a Gela. Sono stati alcuni operai, al lavoro per posare i tubi dell’acquedotto in una zona centrale della città, ad aver trovato i resti. Si tratta di quattro tombe e di un piccolo sarcofago litico. Sono stati inoltre rinvenuti corredi ceramici di tipo corinzio, attico e ionico. Le tombe sarebbero state realizzate fra il quinto e il settimo secolo avanti Cristo, in età greca: il ritrovamento è davvero molto importante. Per questo i lavori di scavo per la condotta idrica sono stati immediatamente interrotti e la zona è ora presidiata 24 ore su 24 ore per impedire ai tombaroli di profanare quel che è affiorato. L’area potrebbe far parte di una più ampia necropoli già individuata ai primi del Novecento dall’archeologo Paolo Orsi durante una campagna di scavi nel vicino quartiere Borgo. Ora si andrà avanti ad esplorare il sottosuolo, con la regia della Sovrintendenza ai Beni culturali di Caltanissetta. E si spera, naturalmente, di trovare, con un briciolo di fortuna, altre testimonianze del passato glorioso di Gela. Le tombe venute alla luce sono del tipo enchytrismos alla cappuccina.

Fires in Greece

This NASA photo seems to be making the rounds of various lists:

NASA photo
NASA photo

Thankfully, the fires seem to have been brought under control. It is possibly worth pointing out that two years ago — almost to the day — we were breathing a similar sigh of relief in regards to Olympia and highlighting this photo from Spiegel:


… we’ll continue to wonder if lessons have been learned …

CONF: Third International Colloquium: ‘Ptolemaic Waterways and Power

Seen on the Classicists list:

This is to notify colleagues of the Third International Ptolemaic Colloquium to be held in Piraeus/Greece on 18-20.09.2009. All welcome (no conference fee). For further information please contact

Ptolemaic Waterways and Power

Third International Ptolemaic Colloquium (18-20/9/09)
dedicated to the memory of Frank W. Walbank,
sponsored and hosted by the Laskaridis Library (Piraeus/Greece)


17/9/09: Arrival of participants and accommodation (17, 18 and 19/9) in the hotel Grande Bretagne (Syntagma Square, Athens).

18/9/09 (Friday: Laskaridis Library, Praxitelous 169-Piraeus). Transfer of speakers with hired coach from the hotel (coach departure: 8.15)

Welcome of participants-Addresses-Introduction: 9.00-10.00

First Session, 10.00-11.30 (3 papers)

1. An. Meadows, “The Ptolemaic League of the Islanders”

2. H. Hauben, “Callicrates of Samos and Patroclus of Macedon, Champions of Ptolemaic Thalassocracy”

3. V. Gabrielsen, "The waterways connecting Rhodes and the Ptolemaic Kingdom".

Discussion, 11.30-12.00

Break, 12.00-12.15

Second Session, 12.15-13.15 (2 papers)

4. A. Erskine, “Polybius and Ptolemaic Seapower”

5. K. Buraselis, “Ptolemaic grain, seaways, and power”

Discussion, 13.15-13.30

Buffet lunch for the speakers, 13.30-14.30

Free time/rest, 14.30-16.00

Third Session, 16.00-17.00 (2 papers)

6. Maria Stefanou, “The solution of emigration: Ptolemaic cleruchs of foreign origin”

7. P. McKechnie, “Our Academic Visitor is Missing: Posidippus 89 (A-B) and seaborne transfer of intellectual capital”

Discussion, 17.00-17.15

Break, 17.15-17.30

Fourth session, 17.30-18.30 (2 papers)

8. Eir. Peppa, “Clay figurines and vases between Ptolemaic Egypt and the Aegean”

9. Olga Palagia, “Ptolemaic seaways and the diffusion of royal portraiture”

Discussion, 18.30-18.45

Supper for the speakers (Hotel Grande Bretagne), 19.30-20.30

19/9/09 (Saturday: Second day of the colloquium, Laskaridis Library)

First Session, 9.00-10.30 (3 papers)

10. Lila Marangou, “Amorgos and the Ptolemies. Old and new evidence”

11. L. Criscuolo, “Ptolemies and Piracy”

12. D. J. Thompson, “The barge she sat in, like a burnish’d throne …’ (Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra, Act 2, scene 2). The role of Hellenistic royal barges”

Discussion, 10.30-11.00

Break, 11.00-11.15

Second Session, 11.15-12.15 (2 papers)

13. An. Helmis, “Policing the Nile: measures against deserters of the Ptolemaic fleet”

14. Th. Kruse, “The Nile police in the Ptolemaic period”

Discussion, 12.15-12.30

Buffet lunch for speakers, 12.30-13.30

Free time/rest, 13.30-14.30

Third Session, 14.30-16.00 (2 papers)

15. St. Burstein, “Ptolemy I and the Beginning of Ptolemaic Activity in Nubia and the Red Sea Basin” (to be read)

16. Chr. Habicht, “Eudoxos of Kyzikos and the Ptolemaic exploration of the sea route to India”

17. F. Prontera, „Timosthenes and Eratosthenes: sea routes and hellenistic geography“

Discussion, 16.00-16.15

Break, 16.15-16.30

Fourth session, 16.30-17.30 (2 papers)

18. P. Nadig, "Ptolemaic elephant hunts“

19. Klaus Geus, “Roads or waterways? Ptolemaios’ description of Africa reexamined”

Discussion, 17.30-18.00

Visit at the Archaeological Museum of Piraeus, 18.15-19.30

Supper for speakers (Hotel Grande Bretagne), 20.00-21.00

20/9/09 (Sunday: Third and last day of the colloquium)

Excursion to Methana/Arsinoe – Return to Athens (Hotel ”Grande Bretagne”) in the late afternoon – Farewell and departure of participants (if any wish to stay further in Athens please contact us).

Please note that the Syntagma Square is within easy reach from the Eleutherios Venizelos Airport of Athens by (a) bus (just outside the Arrivals gate at the Airport, bus X95, ticket price 3.20 euros); (b) metro network (station directly next to the airport, ticket price: 6 euros); (c) taxi (fare to Syntagma: ca 25 €)

Not Sure What to Make of This One …

I’ve got a large file of ‘claims’ associated with the ancient world which I try to track down every now and then, but this one arrived today and I can’t wrap my head around it at all … from one of those press release things:

The more she listened to this music, the better she felt. She wondered, why? She found that music had been used for healing since the beginning of time and that only in the last few hundred years had it evolved into being used primarily for entertainment. Euclid used the monochord, a single-stringed instrument, for healing in 300 BC. In the third century B.C., Socrates was said to have healed hundreds by playing water-filled glasses..

… so … anyone know of Euclid or Socrates ‘healing’?

Alexander Gemstone!

The spectacular finds continue to pour in! This time, it’s the discovery of what should probably be called an intaglio depicting Alexander the Great … from Tel Dor! Here’s the Arutz Sheva coverage:

Excavations in Tel Dor have turned up a rare and unexpected work of Hellenistic art: a precious stone bearing the miniature carved likeness of Alexander the Great. Archaeologists are calling it an important find, indicating the great skill of the artist.

The Tel Dor dig, under the guidance and direction of Dr. Ayelet Gilboa of Haifa University and Dr. Ilan Sharon of Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, has just ended its summer excavation season. For more than 30 years, scientists have been excavating in Tel Dor, identified as the site of the Biblical town of Dor. The town’s location, on Israel’s Mediterranean Sea coast some 30 kilometers south of Haifa, made it an important international port in ancient times.

“Despite the tiny proportions – the length of the gemstone (gemma) is less than a centimeter and its width less than half a centimeter – the artist was able to carve the image of Alexander of Macedon with all of his features,” Dr. Gilboa said. “The king appears as young and energetic, with a sharp chin and straight nose, and with long, curly hair held in a crown.”

According to the archaeologists involved in the Tel Dor excavations, the discovery of the miniature Alexander gemstone carving in Israel is fairly surprising. The Land of Israel was not, for the Greek Empire, a central or major holding.

“It has been accepted to assume that first-rate artists – and whoever carved the image of Alexander in this gemstone was certainly one of them – were primarily active under the patronage of the large royal courts in Greece itself or in major capitals,” the scientists explained. “It turns out that local elites in secondary centers such as Dor could allow themselves – and knew to appreciate – superior artwork.”

Additionally, the new find is important for the study of the historical Alexander the Great. The gemstone was found in the remains of a large public building from the Hellenistic period in the southern area of the tel. Unlike most of the portraits of Alexander in museums throughout the world, with unknown origins, the Tel Dor carving was found and classified within its archaeological context. The face was definitively identified as that of Alexander the Great by Dr. Jessica Nitschke of Georgetown University and Professor Andrew Stewart of UC Berkeley.

Historically, Alexander himself passed through Dor in 332 BCE, during his voyage to Egypt. It appears that the city fell to him without resistance. Since that time until its conquest by the Hasmonean Jewish King Alexander Yannai around 100 BCE, Dor served as a stronghold of non-Jewish Hellenists in the Land of Israel.

Here’s the best photo of the find (tip o’ the pileus to Joseph Lauer, who passed on a number of Hebrew-language items):


The identification of Alexander seems reasonable (based on the nose and chin) and the detail is amazing for the size of the object. It’s interesting that it seems to depict a pre-Zeus Ammon Alexander …