Bones From an Ankara Opera House

I seem to have the ‘before’ and ‘after’ articles of this one, both from Hurriyet … first, the before … from August 30:

Human bones and a skull have been discovered under the stage at the historical Ankara Opera House, home of the Ankara State Opera and Ballet (ADOB), during renovations, daily Hürriyet reported yesterday.

Restoration work at the building has been halted to permit archaeologists a chance to examine the venue.

ADOB performs most of its pieces in the historical opera building, which was built in 1933 as an exhibition house and turned into an opera house in 1984. The State Theaters also use the building under the name Büyük Tiyatro (Great Theater). Since it is an old structure, the stage was insufficient for the needs of the opera and underwent a restoration process at the end of the last opera season.

During the renovations, a skull, arm, leg bones and pottery were discovered 25 to 30 meters under the stage. The directorate informed the Culture and Tourism Ministry about the findings and archaeologists from the Cultural Heritage and Museums General Directorate investigated the area.

ADOB director Aykut Çınar told Hürriyet that the stage elevators were being renovated. “There is a platform approximately 25 to 30 meters under the stage where the elevator hoist mechanism is. The mechanism was removed to be changed since these machines are very old. Excavation was necessary for their removal.”

After learning about the discovery, Çınar said he and ADOB General Director Regim Gökmen stopped the excavation, installed a safety line and requested an anthropologist and archaeologist from the ministry to inspect the findings.

Çınar said the team arrived at the building the same night and began examinations. “They determined that there were no more remains and gave us permission to continue excavations under the supervision of an archaeologist. The area was already very small and the excavations continued two more days.”

Noting that there were no further discoveries, he said, “There were only a few human bones like legs, arms and a skull, as well as very small pieces of pottery from old periods.”

He said a report would be prepared about the findings. “We have heard that the finds are most probably from the Roman period, but we are waiting for the official report. The excavation work is done and the archaeologist has left the site. We have delivered the bones to the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations,” Çınar said.

According to some resources, the area was an Armenian cemetery during the Ottoman Empire, which might be the source of the remains.

The next day:

The mystery of the human bones that were discovered under the stage at the historical Ankara Opera House, home of the Ankara State Opera and Ballet (ADOB), during renovations, seems to have been solved.

As a result of the examinations by archaeologists and anthropologists from the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, the discovered skull belongs to a 25-30 year-old man, while the bones belong to a woman, whose age could not be determined, daily Hürriyet reported yesterday. The experts said the ceramic pieces, also found during the same renovations, dated back to the late Roman period. “The bones and the skull are most probably from this period too,” they said.

Meanhile, at a press conference held on Aug. 29, ADOB General Director Rengim Gökmen said the building had been undergoing a comprehensive restoration process for the first time, and that the discoveries would not prevent the continued restoration of the building. “The restoration will continue during the summer months for the next four to five years,” he said.

Gökmen said the new season would be opened with the newly-renovated stage. “The Phantom of the Opera has become real,” he joked.

I’m curious about the 25-30 metres below the stage thing … how deep is this compared to ground level? Seems awfully deep …

Hockey in the Pula Amphitheatre Followup

A while back we mentioned plans to hold a hockey game in the ancient Roman amphitheatre at Pula (Hockey in the Pula Amphitheatre!) … here’s an update with some photos of the ice surface in progress:

… I hope someone posts some video at Youtube when the time comes …

CONF: Cultural F(r)ictions in Hellenistic Literature

Seen on the Classicists list:

CULTURAL F(R)ICTIONS IN HELLENISTIC LITERATURE (University of Exeter 27th-28th September 2012)

On 27th-28th September, the Centre for Hellenistic and Roman-Greek Culture and Society, in the Department of Classics and Ancient History (Exeter), will host a conference to celebrate Hellenistic literature and raise provocative new questions about the interaction between Greek and other cultures through a series of research presentations and reading-workshops. We particularly welcome postgraduate students who are working in this subject to attend. Details of the programme are included below. The conference is generously supported by funding from the Leventis Foundation, as part of an initiative to promote research on the impact of Greek culture on non-Greek cultures.

There is no charge to attend the conference, but to register your intention to attend, please contact me at the email address below.

Thanks to the generosity of the Classical Association, bursaries are available to postgraduate students to assist with travel-costs to attend the conference; enquiries to K.Ni-Mheallaigh AT


3-4.30pm Reading workshop, Longus Daphnis and Chloe, led by Professor Ewen Bowie
4.30-5pm Tea/coffee
5-7pm Professor Flora Manakidou (Democritus University ofThrace), ‘Callimachus’ Iambi: modes of travelling and politics’.

9.30-10.15 Dr Karen Ní Mheallaigh (Exeter), ‘Textual transmission as cultural exchange: the story of the Kyranides.’
10.30-11.15 Dr Ivana Petrovic (Durham), ‘The representation of court society in Hellenistic poetry: Persia, the Greek world, Rome.’
11.30-12 Coffee/tea
12-12.45 Professor Tim Whitmarsh (Oxford), ‘Cultural Hybridity: the Alexander Romance’.
1-2 Lunch
2-2.30 Daniele Sberna (Durham), ‘Λεπτός/lepidus: proclamations of liberty in Callimachus and Catullus.’
2.45-3.15 Christian Djurslev (Exeter) ‘Alexander Kerasphoros – the horned Alexander in Hellenistic culture and beyond.’
3.30-4.15 Professor Barbara Borg (Exeter), ‘A cup of stories: art and text on the ‘Homeric bowls’.
4.15-4.45 Tea/coffee
4.45-5.30 Professor Ewen Bowie (Oxford), ‘Philicus’ Hymn to Demeter.’
5.45-6.45 Reading-workshop, led by Dr Ivana Petrovic: ps.Longinus, On the Sublime
Digression: Genius versus Mediocrity (32.8-36.4)
Appendix 44.1-end.

CFP: Theoretical Roman Archaeology conference (TRAC) 2013

Seen on the Classicists list:

Session proposals are invited for the 23rd Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference which will take place on 5th-6th April 2013 at King’s College London ( Proposals and any queries should be sent to the conference email address (trac AT and should comprise an abstract (max. 250 words) as well as the names and contact details of the proposer(s), and of any individual proposed speakers. We are interested in panels on any of the various aspects of current theory and practice in the field of Roman archaeology, particularly those of a cutting edge or controversial nature. Please do foward this invitation to any interested colleagues.

CFP: Staging Death: Funerary Performance, Architecture and Landscape in the Aegean

Seen on Aegeanet


2nd circular and call for publication papers

A recent colloquium at the 113th Archaeological Institute of America Annual Meeting (Philadelphia,January 5-8, 2012) explored the notion of funerary place as an intuitive concept with which to approach landscapes, buildings, bodies, societies and identities in the Aegean. In this espoused ‘archaeology of place’, funerary monuments may be regarded as an intrinsic part of the human landscape. The built and unbuilt environments together form social, lived, ideational landscapes inhabited by people. Funerary places are not fossils of past behavior frozen in time through construction and the deposition of bodies, but are inherently performative: they are continuously reworked, revamped, rebuilt, remembered, or turned to ruins, obliterated, abandoned, and forgotten.

Recent scholarship in the Aegean attempts to move beyond a perceived divide between nature and culture, object and subject, body and mind, focusing on the multisensorial, somatic, social/intersubjective experience of mortuary place; the study of funerary landscape and architecture as abstract behavior and space, is being tempered with experience and a sense of place, while there is a growing interest in interpreting landscape as something other than a passive backdrop of behavior or specular representation.The colloquium sought to identify directions for further research along these lines of inquiry; and to expand upon themes of study such as the use of funerary monuments as arenas for social and political competition, as instruments for the proclamation or contestation of status,and as vehicles for the legitimization of power and ancestral rights.

We are now soliciting papers for an edited volume that will address questions such as these:

· Affordances of place:What determines locality? What are some affordances and potentialities of particular landscapes? How do landscape configurations create distance and difference? Might some of these affordances and their perception be cross-cultural and universal, or are they entirely context-specific?

· ‘Landscaped’ buildings, ‘architectonic’ landscapes: What do inherent, sensible qualities of the landscape (e.g. forms, color and texture) impart on the experience of built space? To the extent that the environment is also a source of building materials, what can we say about the qualities of the latter as architectonized pars pro toto of landscape? How do buildings mimic, incorporate, substitute, subvert, compete with landscape? How does landscape structure and compete with architectural arrangements?

· Movement and interplaces: How does movement, directionality, and approach construct ‘flows of the mind’ in a given context? What kinds of spatial stories are created through architectural design, structured movement, different perspective or sequence of approach?How can we better understand ‘interplaces’, i.e. the pathways between settlements and cemeteries, different cemeteries, different tombs within cemeteries, and the various spatialities of the tomb?

· Places and bodies: How are bodies contained within buildings and the pathways that connect them? Can buildings be seen to function as surrogates of people’s bodies? What might some anthropomorphic and human-metaphoric qualities of buildings and landscapes be?

· Beyond the specular: Can we do more than just ‘look at’ buildings, and sense them as well by incorporating soundscapes, feelscapes etc.? How can we augment the specular paradigm of architectural study? Can we regard ‘monumentality’, permanence and quality of construction from a perspective other than conspicuous consumption and the display of power?

· Modes of containment and knowledge: How does architecture structure taskscapes and guide social practice? How does architecture include or exclude, group or ungroup, constrain or allow, reveal or conceal? What do modes of containment tell us about participation and the control of knowledge? How do funerary places mediate and manage specialized knowledge?

· Aesthetics and politics of the hidden: What are some ludic qualities of architectural design? How are the dynamics of presence/absence, welcome/exclusion, familiarity/risk, knowledge/ignorance deployed, and what other dynamics might be relevant in context? Does architectural design cultivate an aesthetics of the hidden and for what purpose?

· Boundaries and divisions: What are the metaphoric and liminal associations the built environment, such as processional accesses, entrances, thresholds? What kinds of worlds do entrance divide and blend? What is the source and nature of culture-specific hidden imaginaries beyond? What do boundaries do to ‘porous places’?In what sense can we speak of ‘homes’ and ‘cities of the dead’ in the Aegean? How does verisimilitude help create unitary spaces of human experience? What are some purposes of architectural isomorphism in specific contexts?

· Biographies and memory: How are biographies of monuments constituted through revisitations, alterations, obliterations? What is the afterlife of places, if any, in the notional landscapes of memory? What explains particular topophilias or topophobias? Why are some places ‘more persistent’ than others?How are mnemoscapes constructed? How do funerary places retain their cognitive ‘stickiness’ when not in sight? What is special about walking in or reusing ruins and ‘abandoned’ places?

· Contested places: If places are maintained, when and why are they questioned? What alternate meanings might arise from the point of view of exclusion? What do the landscapes and places of resistance look and feel like? How does place construct identity? How do autotopographies emerge and how might they acquire intersubjective status?

· Performance: Can we incorporate notions of ‘performance’ into a holistic approach to the structuring of mortuary ritual within the enabling and constraining aspects of buildings and topography?

Scholars with proposals related to the prehistoric and early Iron Age Aegean are encouraged to submit an abstract of about 300-400 words to Anastasia Dakouri-Hild and Michael Boyd, at stagingdeath AT by October 1st, 2012. Authors will be notified by October 30th. The deadline for full-length submissions of accepted proposals is May 30, 2013 (8,000-10,000 words; more details TBA). Full-length submissions will be subject to peer-reviewing by the publisher and thus are not guaranteed inclusion in the volume.