Punic Amphora from Denia

Brief item from Euroweekly:

AN amphora dating back to the fourth century BC has discovered buried three metres deep in the ground near Denia port. Archaeologist Josep A Santonja Gisbert says the jar is in perfect condition and has identified it as ‘Punic’ a unique type that was produced in Ibiza between the years 400/375 and 300 BC. Linked to other similar discoveries found in settlements and underwater sites around the Iberian lift from Ampurias to Almeria, and the Balearic Islands, is clear evidence of the expansion of Eivissa wine and its consumption by the Iberian tribes. Its presence is particularly relevant as it fills an historical void connecting Iberian culture and settlements existing in the vicinity of Denia. A representative of the the Archaeological Museum of Denia said they were very grateful to Alvaro Gomez Ferrer who discovered the item and the local police for their collaboration in excavating the find. A full report will be compiled by the experts and issued to the Underwater Archaeology Centre of the Generalitat Valenciana.

The original article has a photo of the amphora … this find obviously predates the Roman occupation of the site (we heard of a Roman fish-salting factory there a while ago: Roman Salting Factory from Denia/Dianum) and probably comes from the time the place was a colony of Massilia(Strabo’s: Hemeroscopeium (3.4.6). For a press release (in Spanish) from Denia, which identifies the type more specifically as a PE14 amphora:

A Major Mosaic Museum in Şanlıurfa

Another one from Hurriyet:

Turkey’s largest mosaic museum is being built where a theme park had been planned in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa, one of the oldest cities in the world.

A few years ago, during the foundation excavations for a theme park in the Haleplibahçe neighborhood, mosaics featuring hunting and fighting scenes of warrior “Amazon women” from the Roman era in the fifth and sixth centuries were discovered. Experts have classified these mosaics as the world’s most valuable.

The project was then transformed to include an archaeology museum, archaeopark and mosaic museum, as specialists were concerned that the artifacts being excavated could be damaged if transported to another place.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has ordered the acceleration of the project, which will cover an area of 200,000 square meters and cost 38 million Turkish Liras.

‘City deserves this museum’

Şanlıurfa Gov. Celalettin Güvenç told Anatolia news agency that cultural centers, museums and big sporting arenas were the leading highlights of cities, adding that Şanlıurfa’s cultural background merited such a museum. “This museum will be a significant cultural tourism destination. Haleplibahçe will attract Western attention to this city as well as Göbeklitepe. We plan to finish construction work here in 500 days.”

Şanlıurfa Culture and Tourism Director Selami Yıldız said the project consisted of the Şanlıurfa Archaeology Museum on 26,000 square meters, the Edessa Mosaic Museum on 4,000 square meters and an archaeopark on a 29,000-square-meter area between the two museums. There will also be an amphitheater, cafes and walking areas as well. “We will have the largest museum complex on a 60,000-square-meter area,” said Yıldız.

The Şanlıurfa Museum currently covers an area of 2,500 square meters, but the new museum will be 10 times larger, Yıldız said. “This new museum will display the world’s oldest artifacts. No museum in the world displays 12,000-year-old works. We will exhibit the artifacts that should be exhibited in a closed area.” Yıldız also said Istanbul, Gaziantep and Hatay had noteworthy mosaics. “Now Şanlıurfa will come to the fore.”

We mentioned the find of mosaics (the Hurriyet piece has a small photo of one) back in 2008: Roman Palace in Turkey. Didn’t know about the ‘theme park’ connection …

Gladiating Returns to Aspendos

From Hurriyet:

Roman era blood sports – or at least a mock dramatization thereof – will return to an ancient arena in the southern province of Antalya tomorrow thanks to an initiative to stage gladiator fights for tourists.

“The performances will start at 9 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays,” Mehmet Bıcıoğlu, a consultant for the Aspendos Gladiator Arena, recently told Anatolia news agency. “Performed by a group of 80 people, the gladiator fights will be accompanied by Gregorian music, and dance performances will also be presented.”

Gladiator fights were typically staged between slaves, or slaves and ferocious animals, as a form of entertainment in the Roman era. The dramatized fights in Aspendos will be presented with hand-made clothes and weapons before audiences of up to 800 people, Bıcıoğlu said, adding that the arena for the battles has been completed.

Bıcıoğlu said his group would be presenting a type of event that has never been seen in modern Turkey. “I think our organization [will] contribute greatly to cultural tourism in Antalya,” he said.

The group is planning to perform until the end of November, Bıcıoğlu said, adding that tickets for the first performance tomorrow will cost 25 Turkish Liras.

The 12 performers who are set to portray gladiators have been engaged in rigorous training ahead of the first performance, while organizers are working to make the hand-made clothes and weapons, as wells as the sword fights and execution scenes, resemble the original spectacle as closely as possible.

The performers who will act in the swordfight scenes are also training hard to ensure they will not harm each other.

“Our practices are going very well; we would like to see many spectators here,” said İbrahim Caner, one of the gladiators.

This one’s a bit confusing; Aspendos does have one of the best preserved theatres in the area but (as the Wikipedia article on Aspendos notes) it hasn’t been used for performances for a while. They did build something called the ‘Aspendos Arena’ nearby … can we assume that’s where the fighting will take place? I’m still trying to wrap my head around gladiators fighting to ‘Gregorian music’, but it probably doesn’t mean what I think it is.

CFP: Hercules: A Hero for All Ages

seen on the Classicists list:

International Conference, University of Leeds 24-6th June 2013

The conference aims to explore the potential for a large-scale project on
the reception of the ancient Greek hero Herakles in post-classical
culture. The idea arises from the recent monograph Herakles in
Routledge’s Gods and Heroes in the Ancient World series by Emma Stafford
(University of Leeds), the final chapter of which sketches Herakles-
Hercules’ development from late antiquity to the present day.

The conference will make use of the main Leeds campus’ excellent
facilities, including the Yorkshire Bank Lecture Theatre and comfortable
overnight accommodation in Storm Jameson Court. It will bring together
scholars from a wide range of disciplines – including medieval and later
European history, art history, literature, drama and music – with a view
not only to scoping the extent of Hercules’ significance as a cultural
figure, but also to provoking discussion of methodological approaches
which might inform a bigger project.

Speakers already include: Karl Galinsky (Texas), Edith Hall (KCL), Pat
Simons (Michigan), Matt Dillon (New England), Philip Ford (Cambridge),
Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones (Edinburgh), Kathleen Riley (Sydney), Paula James
(OU), Kim Shahabudin (Reading), Susan Deacy (Roehampton), Greta Hawes

Contemporary writers and artists: Several practitioners will be talking
about their Hercules-related work, including: Marian Maguire (print-maker,
The Labours of Herakles), Helen Eastman (director Hercules, Chester
20120), George Rodosthenous (director Heracles’ Wife, Leeds 2010).


Proposals for papers on any aspect of the post-classical Herakles-Hercules
are welcome, for example in the following areas:

* Hercules’ appropriation by Christianity
* Hercules’ emergence in Renaissance literature and art as the type of
virtue in general, and eloquence in particular
* Hercules’ role as political emblem from the fourteenth to eighteenth
centuries, especially in various northern Italian city-states and at the
Burgundian court
* Hercules’ particular relevance to France, as supposed forefather of the
French people, role-model for kings from François I to Louis XV, and
paradoxical hero of the Revolution;
* Herculean themes in music from sixteenth-century opera to nineteenth-
century symphonic poems
* the re-working of tragedies by Sophokles and Euripides, especially on
the themes of Herakles’ death at his wife’s hands and of the frenzied
slaying of his own children, for twentieth- and twenty-first-century
* Hercules’ role in film and as a comic-book hero.

If you are interested in offering a paper, you should first e-mail Emma
Stafford (e.j.stafford AT leeds.ac.uk) indicating the general area you might
explore. A title and short abstract (c.250 words) will then be required
by 1st October 2012.

What Greek Myth Can Tell Us

Hypish sort of thing (I think) from Paul OMahoney in the Independent … here’s the end bit:

[…] But the Greek myths don’t just shed light on modern day Greece – they illuminate the whole world. The global financial crisis was created by a brand new banking breed of Midases, all of them hungry for gold. Midas was a king who did one good deed and was rewarded by the god Apollo who told him he would grant him one wish. What would Midas choose: world peace? An end to hunger? An Olympics that was delivered on budget? No. He wished that everything he touched would turn into gold. EVERYTHING. This included his daughter, as well as all the food he tried to eat. Not a smart move. The gods had to step in and revoke his wish, but not before the damage was already done…

There are further warnings from the past. We constantly worry nowadays about conservation – preserving the planet and its natural wonders for future generations. It is unbearably sad to think that our grandchildren may never see a panda bear (although I do think pandas are a bit overrated – how can one animal sleep for so long? They do nothing! And if they don’t want to have sex, well, you just can’t force it can you?), and it is awful to think of young people growing up in this century who may never witness the many beautiful animals this world has to offer. Well, that didn’t bother those ancient Greek heroes much did it? When’s the last time you caught David Attenborough narrating glorious high-definition footage of a Chimaera battling to the death with a Hydra? That’s right, never: because Bellerophon and Heracles got there first. In fact, Heracles must be responsible for the extinction of more species than any man before or since. If Disney’s Hercules had been in Disney’s Lion King then it would have been a very different film (and highly unlikely to get a ‘U’ certificate).

But the Greeks had the right idea. Their heroes had faults – plenty of them – but they didn’t have it all their own way. Yes Heracles was an eco-warrior’s worst nightmare, but he also died in excruciating pain wearing a poisoned cloak given to him by his wife. Odysseus must have sailed further than Dame Ellen MacArthur in his quest to make it home, and Midas ended up hungry and alone, with his ears replaced with those of an ass. If only we could mete out similar punishment to those who were foolish enough to think that everything they touched would turn to gold this time round.

The terrible problems that afflict Western culture today were woven into the myths of the people who gave us that culture in the first place. They really knew what was what those ancient Greeks – so maybe the solutions are in there too.

… personally, I always thought it important to recognize that his labours were a major ‘make work’ project and all those monsters Hercules battled probably would have died anyway … they were the only members of their species and don’t seem to have had any breeding partners …