Paris (?) Sarcophagus … and Biblical Archaeology Review

I don’t know why this happens to me so often … I take a break from my news feed to run some errands and then I get a notice via Twitter from the folks at Biblical Archaeology Review pointing me to an article with the headline screaming: Has the Sarcophagus of Paris, Prince of Troy, Been Found? Of course, I’m looking at this on my iPod while sitting in a parking lot somewhere and can’t check things out fast enough. Whatever the case, the coverage at BAR mentions the Balkan Travellers site as a source so, of course, my instincts are that something has simply been lost in translation, as often seems to happen. But no! The summary from BAR (which is simply their daily news page; this item might scroll off) includes this as the incipit:

Archaeological excavations at the ancient city of Parion in northwest Turkey have revealed the sarcophagus of an ancient warrior. The sarcophagus contains an inscription of a warrior pictured saying goodbye to his family as he leaves for war. It is believed that the sarcophagus could belong to Paris, the prince of Troy who triggered the Trojan War.

Here’s the actual Balkan Travellers item … there do seem to be some possible translation problems, but I’ve highlighted an important passage:

A sarcophagus of a warrior was recently discovered during archaeological excavations of the ancient city of Parion, located in Turkey’s north-western province of Canakkale, near Troy.

The sarcophagus was unearthed in the ancient city’s necropolis, Professor Cevat Basaran, head of the excavation team in Parion ancient city in the village of Kemer near the town of Biga, told national media.

According to the archaeologist, the newly found sarcophagus had an inscription of a warrior saying goodbye to his family as he left for a war. The warrior in the inscription, he added, could be Paris who caused the Trojan War.

Parion is among the most important of the dozens of ancient settlements in the region of Troad, in which the city of Troy was the focus. Parion was first found by archaeologists in 2005. Many precious artefacts, including gold crowns and sarcophagi, have been unearthed at the site since, suggesting the city’s importance during the Hellenistic and Roman Age.

via: Archaeologists Unearth Warrior Sarcophagus at Ancient City of Parion, Turkey

That is to say, they’re NOT claiming this sarcophagus BELONGS to PARIS but rather, that it possibly DEPICTS Paris. Now there isn’t a picture of this sarcophagus included but I’m willing to put big bucks on the likelihood that this is actually something Hellenistic/Roman as might be hinted at in the article’s final paragraph … that pretty much nixes the ‘actual sarcophagus of Paris’ possibility right there.  And just so we’re not confining our criticism to BAR,  we should also point out that ‘Paris departing for the Trojan War’ really isn’t a common motif (if I’m wrong, please correct me) — Paris CAUSED the Trojan War by taking that thousand-ships-launching beauty away; I really can’t think of a depiction of the “Bye folks … I’m off to kidnap-Helen-and-give-Homer-something-to-poetize-about” genre …

Whatever the case, the folks at Biblical Archaeology Review really should know better than to describe things as they did … source notwithstanding.

UPDATE (07/19/10): we now note that BAR has made corrections to their text …

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