What Timothy Howe is Up To

From a St Olaf College press release:

St. Olaf Associate Professor of History Timothy Howe was the keynote speaker at Re-visioning Terrorism: An Interdisciplinary and International Conference at Purdue University.

The conference, which coincided with the 10-year anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, gave Howe the opportunity to deliver a paper on Athenian insurgency against Alexander the Great and his father, Philip II. He also discussed how history can guide modern scholars and politicians to interpret terrorism and insurgency today.

Howe was asked to speak at the conference due in large part to his recent work Insurgency and Terrorism in the Ancient Mediterranean, a collection of 14 essays by a team of national experts on the subject. Howe is the editor for the project, and is also the author of one essay about insurgency during the time of Alexander the Great. The book emphasizes a modern methodological approach to terrorism and insurgency that differs from what Howe calls “trendy military parallels.”

The opportunity to speak at the conference was supported by the Scott R. Jacobs Alexander the Great Fellowship, awarded to Howe by the University of Utah to continue his research on ancient Mediterranean insurgency and terrorism, specifically during the reign of Alexander the Great. The university granted Howe the fellowship because his topic of study was new. “That is what is great about history,” says Howe. “People don’t realize that there is a wealth of new topics to explore.”

Howe credits his teaching career at St. Olaf as the inspiration for this approach. “When the students are new, the conversations are new,” he says. “It ensures that I am also a student, learning new perspectives from those in my classroom. That is the beauty of a liberal arts education.”

Roman Fort in Scotland

From the Scotsman:

ARCHAEOLOGISTS digging at the site of a former jeans factory have uncovered the remains of at least two Roman forts – and artefacts including 60 pairs of shoes.
The hoard of leather footwear is believed to be the largest of its kind yet found in Scotland.

Other discoveries include pottery, ovens, coins, bones, jewellery, an axe and a spearhead dating back to the first and second centuries AD, when the forts were in use.

The discoveries have been made at the site of the former Wrangler factory in Camelon, Falkirk, which is set to become a Tesco supermarket.

Camelon has long been suggested as the possible site for Camelot, the home of King Arthur, who many believe was a Roman who stayed on after the collapse of the Roman Empire and fought against the invading hordes of Anglo-Saxons.

The idea of King Arthur as a Roman was the basis of the 2004 Hollywood movie, King Arthur, starring Clive Owen, as a Roman centurion. Yesterday, experts described the new finds as “nationally important” and the most significant in the Falkirk area “for generations”.

Archaeologist Martin Cook said a rich bounty of relics had been uncovered, despite only 10 per cent of the site being examined so far.

He said: “This will be one of the most important finds in the Falkirk area for decades and one of the best ones we’ve been involved with.

“It’s hugely exciting because of the quality and quantity of artefacts from the organic deposit and reinforces the importance of the forts which have been rebuilt more than once.

“This proves that the Romans were there for a greater length of time, which is different to their normal routine of coming in, building something and then tearing it down so the natives can’t use it once they have left. We found some Samian pottery from France, more than we expected to find.

“There were coins, trumpet brooches and 60 pairs of leather shoes in the ditch, something we really didn’t expect and which is hugely important statistically. It shows how many troops were using the forts.”

He added: “These 60 shoes are remarkable for their quantity but also for their quality. They are leather sandals with straps and hob-nailed soles.”

To avoid digging as much as possible, the rest of the site will be preserved in situ, although the team would like to dig more.

Geoff Bailey, Falkirk Council’s keeper of archaeology and local historian, said: “There was probably a harbour on the River Carron where the golf club is now. The area is the lowest crossing point on the Carron and it would have been the A1 of the Roman period.”

Crassus, Take Back Your Legions! Please!

I can’t believe people are still buying into this … as often, people believe what they want to believe, especially if money is involved. From Xinhua:

It is hard to believe that in a remote village in northwest China Western-looking Chinese people stage ancient Roman dances and military parades that they’ve inherited from their ancestors.

But in the square of Liqian Village of Yongchang County of Gansu Province, a dozen Western-looking villagers — suited in armor and carrying shields — demonstrated a rare fish scale-shaped formation.

The formation, local villagers said, has evolved from the military alignments of an ancient Roman army and is flexible enough to both attack and defend.

“It is amazing to see the merging of two great ancient cultures in this remote village,” said Pamela Mccourt Francescone, a visitor from Italy.

With deep-set green eyes and a long, hooked nose, Luo Ying, the 35-year-old lead performer, has a European look. His fellow villagers nicknamed him “Roman Prince.”

“I believe that I am somewhat related to the ancient Romans,” said Luo.

Situated along the Silk Road, a 7,000-km-long trade route that linked Asia and Europe more than 2,000 years ago, the village stepped into the spotlight in the 1990s when archeologists found the remains of an ancient fort and a crowd of Western-looking people there.

DNA tests in 2005 confirmed that some of the villagers are indeed of foreign origin, leading many experts to conclude they are the descendants of the ancient Roman army headed by general Marcus Crassus.

In 53 B.C., Crassus was defeated and beheaded by the Parthians, a tribe that occupied what is now Iran, putting an end to Rome’s eastward expansion.

But a 6,000-strong army led by Crassus’s eldest son apparently escaped and were never found again.

Though some anthropologists are convinced the foreign-looking villagers in Yongchang County are the descendants of the ancient army, others are not so certain.

In November 2010, the Italian Studies Center was jointly established by China and Italy at Lanzhou University in Gansu. One of its research programs focuses on the early descendants of the ancient Roman army in China.

Professor Yuan Honggeng, head of the center, said they hope to prove the theory by digging to uncover more evidence of China’s early contact with the Roman Empire along the Silk Road.

“We hope to unravel the mystery of the lost Roman legions,” said Yuan.

Various research projects are being conducted, and local residents are not hesitant to show pride in their unusual bloodline, especially as they have tried for decades to shake off poverty caused by long-lingering drought and the village’s remote geographical position.

In 1999, the village, previously named Zhelaizhai, renamed itself Liqian. According to China’s historical records, Liqian was how the ancient Chinese addressed the Roman Empire.

The remains of the fort are currently surrounded by iron chains. A monument has been erected beside the remains to tell its history, and a recently constructed Roman-style pavilion stands near the monument.

In August 2010, a new complex built in the style of Roman architecture was established to cater to visitors.

A Beijing-based film producer has plans to spend millions turning the villagers’ story into a film.

Meanwhile, villager Zhao Shouming is pleased to see tourists coming in almost every day.

“We are very happy that the village has now become vibrant,” said Zhao, who earned 2,000 yuan (about 313 U.S. dollars) last year thanks to the boom in tourism.

Our previous coverage of this sort of thing covers pretty much all the objections: Romans in China Rerereredux

Circumundique ~ October 2, 2011

Gleanings …