Gladiator Graveyard?

From the Times … seems to be hyping an upcoming TV documentary:

Archaeologists believe that they may have discovered a Roman gladiator cemetery near York city centre. About 80 remains have been found since the investigation began in 2004, with more than half of them decapitated.

Researchers believe they may form part of the world’s only well-preserved Roman gladiator cemetery.

Kurt Hunter-Mann, a field officer at York Archaeological Trust who is leading the investigation, said: “The skulls were literally found somewhere else in the grave — not on top of the shoulders.

“We could see that in quite a few cases the skulls had been chopped with some kind of heavy bladed weapon, a sword or in one or two cases an axe.

“But they were buried with a degree of care. There are no mass pits. Most of them are buried individually.”

He said that bite marks on one of the skeletons helped to steer the team to its initial theory.

“One of the most significant items of evidence is a large carnivore bite mark — probably inflicted by a lion, tiger or bear — an injury which must have been sustained in an arena context.

“There are not many situations where someone is going to be killed by something like that, and also to have other wounds, and also to be decapitated. They may have been a gladiator involved in beast fights.”

He added: “Other important pieces of evidence include a high incidence of substantial arm asymmetry — a feature mentioned in ancient Roman literature in connection with a gladiator; some healed and unhealed weapon injuries; possible hammer blows to the head — a feature attested as a probable gladiatorial coup de grace at another gladiator cemetery, Ephesus, in Turkey.

“The arm asymmetry would also be consistent with weapons training that had already started in teenage years, and we know from Roman accounts that some gladiators entered their profession at a very young age.”

Most losing gladiators who were put to death were stabbed in the throat. However, decapitation may have been adopted as a custom in York in response to a prevailing local preference, he said.

“At present our lead theory is that many of these skeletons are those of Roman gladiators. So far there are a number of pieces of evidence which point towards that interpretation or are consistent with it.

“But the research is continuing and we must therefore keep an open mind.”

The size and importance of York suggested it might have had an amphitheatre, he said, but so far none has been found.

The skeletons date from the late first century AD to the 4th century AD. Fourteen of them were interred with grave goods to accompany them to the next world.

The team said that the most impressive grave was that of a tall man aged between 18 and 23, buried in a large oval grave some time in the 3rd century.

Interred with him were what appear to have been the remains of substantial joints of meat from at least four horses, possibly consumed at the funeral — plus some cow and pig remains.

He had been decapitated by several sword blows to the neck.

Additional research has also been carried out by forensic anthropologists at the University of Central Lancashire.

Dr Michael Wysocki, senior lecturer in forensic anthropology and archaeology at the university, said: “These are internationally important discoveries. We don’t have any other potential gladiator cemeteries with this level of preservation anywhere else in the world.”

I’m not sure whether this is connected to the Roman ‘Cold Case’ we mentioned four years ago (which also seemed to be hype for a television program) … or the Roman Graveyard we mentioned a month before that (which also seemed to be hype for a television program). I think that program was a Timewatch episode called The Mystery of the Headless Romans, but perhaps this one is new.

FWIW, the Times seems to have also reported on an early stage of this excavation back in 2005: Mystery of 49 headless Romans who weren’t meant to haunt us

Overnight we appear to have had a pile of other coverage of this story, most of which are really playing up the ‘lion, tiger, or bear’ wound angle; we’ll forgive the media this time for not distinguishing between gladiatorial participants and those who participated in venationes:

CFP: Land & Natural Resources in the Roman World

Seen on Classicists (please send any responses to the people/institution mentioned in the post, not to rogueclassicism!)

International conference:
Land and natural resources in the Roman World
Brussels, 2011, May Thu. 26th – Sat. 28thRoman Society Research Center
(VUB/UGent/Kent University)

Further details on the conference and the wider research project of the
Roman Society Research Center can be found on

In comparison with other pre-modern empires, the economic performance of
the Roman Empire (ca. 200 B.C. – A.D. 600) is impressive: not only were
living standards raised for the population at large, but the empire also
showed strong resilience and the ability to overcome economic crises. In
order to explain this remarkable success, recent work in Roman economic
history has placed particular stress on the analysis of economic
performance. Yet the economic foundation of any pre-industrial society,
namely agriculture and natural resource exploitation, has not yet received
the attention it deserves, notwithstanding some important recent work by
scholars such as Kehoe, Erdkamp, and Banaji.

The conference ‘Land and natural resources’, to be held in Brussel on May
26th-Sat. 28th, aims at studying in detail the varied ways in which the
Romans exploited their land and natural resources, how they reflected on
these usages, and how this contributed to the economic development of the
empire. We are interested not in performance per se, but in the structures
that made this performance possible.

‘Exploitation of land and natural resources’ should be understood in a
broad sense, ranging from the exploitation of uncultivated lands (e.g.
hunting and gathering), techniques to bring new land under cultivation, all
types of farming, mining and quarrying, to the harnessing of the power of
wind and water and techniques of irrigation. These cannot, however, be
studied in isolation. Wider economic and ideological developments need to
be included, in particular changes in agricultural structure (concentration
of land, management of holdings, attitudes of landowners etc.), changes in
the market (supply, demand, nature of trading channels) of agricultural
goods and natural resources, and changes in state structures (local
differences, the role of the tax system, the role of large landowners such
as the church); it also needs to be asked how these impacted on the
exploitation of the land and natural resources. In addition, ideological
factors, such as the idealization of agricultural labor in Roman society,
may have had a considerable impact on the exploitation of the land. The
conference thus does not wish to study the exploitation, processing and
distribution of various natural resources (agricultural and non-
agricultural) in isolation from each other, but in their interaction with
each other. We believe this integrative approach will greatly enhance our
understanding of the foundations of the Roman economy.

Keynote speakers include Dennis Kehoe. Elio Lo Cascio, Christer Bruun,
Analisa Marzano e.a.

We welcome proposals for 20 minute papers on any of the above topics.
Abstracts of 500 words should be submitted to Paul Erdkamp
(perdkamp AT or Koen Verboven (Koen.Verboven AT by Sept.
1st, 2010.

To enhance the coherence of the conference we ask you to choose one of the
following themes.

The availability of natural resources
Natural resources (arable land, ores, fishing grounds, …) are unevenly
spread. Did access to natural resources matter in the long run ? Were
regions rich in resources more likely to experience economic growth or
not ?

Ownership and Control
Who enjoyed ‘rights of exploitation’ of natural resources ? What were these
rights were based upon (property rights, political control, custom…). Did
Roman ideas about social status influence definitions of rights of access
to and exploitation of natural resources (for instance, were sacred
properties, public lands, and private lands managed and exploited

Organisation and modes of exploitation
How was the exploitation of natural resources organized. What is the
implication of this for investment, productivity and the acquisition of
expertise? Is the State directly involved in the exploitation of mines,
quarries, forests, salt pans etc. (for instance through the army),
indirectly, or not at all ? How did all this develop over time?

Exploitation and processing of natural resources
Natural resources are rarely ‘ready at hand’ or ‘ready to use’. Their
exploitation requires an amount of know-how and investment in extraction
and processing facilities. We are not interested in technology per se, but
in whether and how innovations occurred, how technology spread, and how
skills were acquired. Who financed the necessary facilities ? How durable
were they ? How much expertise and expense was needed for upkeep?

The fruits thereof …
Who benefited from the exploitation of natural resources apart from the
direct consumers ? Did the profits accrue into the hands of private
entrepreneurs ? of middlemen or the state ? Did the latter profit through
taxation or as owner farming out the natural riches ? What was the role of
the market in this process ?

CONF: Ancient Greek Music (Corfu)

Seen on Classicists (please send any responses to the people/institution mentioned in the post, not to rogueclassicism!)

Department of Music
The Ionian University, Corfu
Seventh Annual Seminar on Ancient Greek Music
5-11 July 2010

Every year since 2004, the Department of Music at the Ionian University has
hosted a week-long seminar on a topic related to the music of ancient
Greece. The morning sessions are devoted to the study of one particular
text or topic; discussions are led by Dr Eleonora Rocconi (Pavia),
Professor Andrew Barker (Birmingham) and Professor Egert Pöhlmann
(Erlangen). In this year’s morning seminars (starting at 10.00 a.m.) we
shall be examining passages concerned with music in Plato’s Laws, as

Monday-Tuesday, 653c-667a (Eleonora Rocconi)
Wednesday-Thursday, 667b-671a, 700a-701b (Andrew Barker)
Friday-Saturday, 798d-812e (Egert Pöhlmann)

The afternoons are free. In the evenings from Monday to Saturday there is
a programme of lectures on topics to do with ancient Greek music, most of
which have no special connection with the issues discussed in the morning
sessions. The evening speakers at the 2010 seminars are as follows:

Monday 5 July
18.00 Panos Vlagopoulos (Ionian University): ‘Accessus ad seminaria’.
19.15 Andrew Barker (Birmingham): ‘Philo of Alexandria on the foundations
of music’.

Tuesday 6 July
18.00 Lydia Goehr (Columbia/NY) ‘The assessment of music and its
instruments in Plato’s Laws’.
19.15 Klaus Krüger (FU/Berlin) ‘Ideas of musicality and Platonism in
Renaissance painting’.

Wednesday 7 July
18.00 Stelios Psaroudakis (Athens): ‘The Aristoxenian theory of musical
19.15 Christos Terzis (Athens): ‘Harmonics for beginners: Baccheios’

Thursday 8 July
18.00 Antonella Provenza (Palermo): ‘Musical remedies for deadly problems:
music therapy in the Homeric poems’.
19.15 Andromachi Batziou (Ionian University): ‘A commentary on Plato
Phaedrus 246-254’.

Friday 9 July
18.00 Stefan Hagel (Vienna): ‘More about auloi’.
19.15 Joan Silva Barris (Barcelona): ‘The rhythms of Aeolic songs’.

Saturday 10 July
18.00 Barbara Kowalzig (London): ‘’Broken rhythms: materialising social
time in the Khoros’’.
19.15 Francesco Pelosi (Pisa): ‘Music and ethics in Plato and Plotinus’

On the final day of the event, Sunday 11 July, there will a round-table
discussion in the morning, and in the evening a public concert of music
linked to ancient Greek themes.

The official language of the seminars is English. Seminars in previous
years have been attended by participants from ten different countries in
Europe and the Americas, many of whom have returned year after year. But
the overall numbers are relatively small (between 20 and 35 each year); the
event is conducted in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, and we are always
happy to welcome newcomers. There is plenty of free time for socialising,
and for enjoying the sea, sunshine and other delights of Corfu.
The fee for attendance at the week of seminars and lectures is 200 euros.
Students attending can stay in the University’s dormitories, if they wish,
at a cost of 10 euros per night. All scholars and students who are
interested in joining us in 2010 should contact the organiser, Dr Panos
Vlagopoulos, email pvlag AT .

CFP: Imagining Europe: Perspectives, Perceptions and Representations from Antiquity to the Present

Seen on Classicists (please send any responses to the people/institution mentioned in the post, not to rogueclassicism!)

Call for Papers – LUICD Graduate Conference 2011

Leiden University Institute for Cultural Disciplines
27 and 28 January 2011

Confirmed key note speakers:

Professor Edith Hall, Royal Holloway, University of London
Professor Jonathan Israel, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton


‘Qui parle Europe a tort. Notion géographique’. Otto von Bismarck’s
elliptic remark, scribbled in the margin of a letter from Alexander
Gorchakov in 1876, would go on to become one of the most often-quoted
statements about Europe. But was Bismarck right? Is Europe nothing but a
geographical notion? Even the briefest glance at history shows that more
often than not perceptions and definitions of Europe go beyond the mere
geographical demarcation of a continent. In 1919, for instance, Paul Valéry
imagined Europe as a living creature, with ‘a consciousness acquired
through centuries of bearable calamities, by thousands of men of the first
rank, from innumerable geographical, ethnic and historical coincidences’.
Of course this is only one of a multitude of different representations.
Europe has always signified different things to different people in
different places – inside Europe as well as outside. Europe meant, for
instance, something different to Voltaire, l’aubergiste d’Europe, at Ferney
in the 1760s than to Athanasius Kircher in Rome a century earlier or to
Barack Obama in Washington today.

This conference explores the different ways in which Europe has been
imagined and represented, from inside as well as outside Europe and from
classical antiquity to the present day. This wide scope reflects the
historical range of the LUICD’s three research programmes (Classics and
Classical Civilization, Medieval and Early Modern Studies and Modern and
Contemporary Studies) as well as the intercontinental focus of many of the
institute’s research projects. The conference aims to present a diachronic
perspective of some of the many images of Europe, with particular attention
to the historical, cultural and economic contexts in which these images
were created and the media and genres in which they have been presented.

Although the emphasis of the conference lies on different and changing
perspectives, perceptions and representations, it also wants to explore the
notion of similarity – are there any aspects that keep recurring in the
different visions, aspects that might even be said to be intrinsically

The conference aims to provide a platform for graduate students in the
humanities, from Leiden as well as other universities in the Netherlands
and abroad, to present and exchange their ideas in an international and
interdisciplinary environment. The organising committee is honoured that
Professor Jonathan Israel and Professor Edith Hall have accepted our
invitation to act as keynote speakers and participate in discussions during
the conference.


The LUICD Graduate Conference aims to reflect the institute’s
interdisciplinary and international character and as such welcomes
proposals from graduate students from all disciplines within the
humanities, from universities from the Netherlands as well as abroad. The
conference wants to present a variety of different perspectives on Europe
(from within as well as outside the European continent) and those working
in fields related to other continents are particularly encouraged to submit
a proposal.

Subjects may include historical events, processes and discourses, textual
and/or visual representations, literary or art canons, colonial and post-
colonial relations, philosophical developments and political issues.
Questions that could be raised include: how did (and do) oppositions such
as barbarism versus civilization, Christianity versus paganism or old
versus new worlds relate to the conceptualization of Europe? What role does
(perceived) cultural superiority play in these oppositions? What ideas
might be regarded as predecessors of or alternatives to the concept of
Europe? In what ways did (and do) forms of universalism and regionalism
compete with identity formation on a continental level? How have individual
artists represented Europe? How do different (literary) genres, such as
travel literature, historiography or letters, construct a particular image
of Europe or Europe’s relations with other cultures? Is it possible for art
collections to imagine Europe or to question existing perceptions of
Europe? How do migrant literature and cinema reflect the changing identity
of Europe today?

Please send your proposal (max. 300 words) for a 20-minute paper to
C.Maas AT The deadline for the proposals is 1 November
2010 – you will be notified whether or not your proposal has been selected
before 15 November 2010.

After the conference, the proceedings will be published either on-line or
in book form. More information on this will follow in due course.

If you have any questions regarding the conference and/or the proposal,
please do not hesitate to contact us at the above e-mail address. More
information about the conference will be published on the conference
webpage, which will go online this summer.

The organizing committee:

Drs. Thera Giezen
Drs. Jacqueline Hylkema
Drs. Coen Maas