From the Italian Press: Mycenean Necropolis Found Near Corinth

From Adnkronos comes this item on the discovery of a Mycenean necropolis with a pile of pottery and bronze items near a sixth century temple at the ancient site of Rhypes:

Una necropoli micenea utilizzata a partire dal XV secolo a.C. circa e’ stata scoperta da un gruppo di archeologi dell’Universita’ di Udine nei pressi della citta’ greca di Eghion, nella regione dell’Acaia, nel Peloponneso nord-occidentale. Il ritrovamento e’ avvenuto durante la terza campagna di scavi che l’equipe, guidata dalla professoressa Elisabetta Borgna, ha condotto nell’ambito di una missione archeologica internazionale nella localita’ di Trapeza, un’area collinare vicino a Eghion e poco distante dalla costa sul Mar di Corinto.

Finora sono state portate alla luce due sepolture del tipo ”a camera” del XII-XI secolo a.C., molto diffuse in ambito miceneo. Queste tombe, scavate nei pendii di colline, sono costituite da un corridoio di accesso e da una camera funeraria scavata nella roccia. La scoperta della necropoli ha consentito inoltre di recuperare un prezioso corredo di vasi in ceramica, finemente decorati e conservati, pressoche’ integri, nella posizione in cui erano stati deposti.

Alla missione internazionale, coordinata dall’archeologo Andreas Vordos per concessione del Ministero greco della Cultura, collabora anche un team di ricercatori dell’Istituto archeologico germanico di Atene. L’intero progetto e’ sostenuto dall’Institute for Aegean Prehistory di Philadelphia (Stati Uniti) e dall’Istituto Italiano di Preistoria e Protostoria di Firenze.

Le ricerche compiute dagli archeologi dell’Ateneo friulano hanno permesso di trovare non solo la necropoli micenea, ma anche di comprendere l’origine del culto celebrato sulla sommita’ dell’altura della Trapeza, un pianoro piatto e regolare da cui il toponimo ”tavola”. In cima alla collina infatti si trovano i resti monumentali di un grande tempio del 500 a.C. circa da cui proviene un prezioso patrimonio di sculture riferibile alla citta’ achea di Rhypes (nominata da Pausania, scrittore e viaggiatore del II secolo d.C. e preziosa fonte di notizie su arte, topografia e miti dell’antica Grecia).

Nella zona adiacente al tempio i sondaggi stratigrafici compiuti dai ricercatori udinesi hanno documentato una lunga frequentazione dell’altura, a partire dall’occupazione del Neolitico Finale (fine del IV millennio a. C.) e in particolare durante i secoli che segnano la transizione tra eta’ del bronzo ed eta’ storica (Submiceneo-Protogeometrico, XI-IX secolo a C.). Inoltre, il ritrovamento di ceramiche e manufatti in bronzo, oggetto di offerta votiva, ha dimostrato l’esistenza di un luogo di culto di eta’ geometrica (VIII sec. a.C. circa) che precedette il tempio monumentale.

”Sapevamo dell’esistenza della necropoli micenea- spiega Borgna, docente di Archeologia egea – da una serie di corredi funerari frutto di precedenti scoperte casuali e da alcune segnalazioni presenti nella bibliografia archeologica”. Le ceramiche ritrovate nella necropoli testimoniano la presenza nell’area di un ceto sociale di livello elevato alla fine del periodo miceneo, databile al XII-XI sec. a.C. circa.

”Il corredo di vasi – sottolinea la professoressa – apparteneva a gruppi elitari che disponevano di un artigianato specializzato nella produzione di ceramica decorata in maniera molto elaborata. Un’elite protagonista di importanti scambi che legarono i centri tardo micenei alle comunita’ italiane che importarono e imitarono largamente la ceramica micenea fatta al tornio e dipinta, frutto di una tecnica artigianale ancora ignota in Italia”.

L’equipe impegnata nella missione archeologica in Grecia e’ formata da dottorandi, laureati e studenti del dipartimento Storia e tutela dei beni culturali all’Ateneo friulano e della Scuola interateneo di specializzazione in Archeologia delle universita’ di Udine, Trieste e Venezia.

Archeologia, l’Università di Udine scopre una necropoli micenea di 3.500 anni fa (Adnkronos)

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Amazon and Scythian Words on Greek Vases?

This is yet another one which I could have sworn I had posted, but which I can’t find when I look for it. A very interesting article by Adrienne Mayor (and several others … it’s a pdf):

… to which we can add some commentary by languagehat:

Lexicity

It’s been a slow couple of days for news, so I’m starting to find things in my mailbox again … I don’t think I mentioned the Lexicity site, which was making the rounds of various media a few weeks ago. It gathers together a pile of language resources (including Greek and Latin … Sanskrit too) which will likely be of great use to folks who frequent rogueclassicism … it looks interesting, even if it has a somewhat hubristic tagline …

 

CJ Online Review: Kim, Homer between History and Literature in Imperial Greek Literature

posted with permission:

Homer Between History and Fiction in Imperial Greek Literature. By Lawrence Kim. Greek Culture in the Roman World. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Pp. xi + 246. £58.00/$99.00. ISBN 978-0-521-19449-5.

Reviewed by Robert Lamberton, Washington University in St. Louis

It is rather surprising that the project of a history of the reception and interpretation of Homer in antiquity began to be realized only in the latter part of the twentieth century, encouraged by the widespread interest in reception theory and the history of reception that emerged at that time (4–5). Lawrence Kim’s contribution to that history, which received the prestigious Goodwin Award of Merit of the American Philological Association in 2011, fills in an important chapter and provides at the same time a valuable and innovative perspective on a major tendency in the literature of the Roman Empire.

The chapter in question chronicles the demise of a long tradition, a mode of reading Homer that might be placed under the rubric Homer the Historian. The literary tendency to which that tradition fell victim was the fundamental and radical estheticism of the Second Sophistic, its rich appreciation of the power of fiction and the elusiveness of fact, and of the pleasure, cultivated by the rhetors of the high empire and clearly savored by their audiences, of experiencing the willful and self-referential dissolution of reality into fiction and fiction into reality as the voice of the orator worked its magic.

After a brief introduction, Kim plunges the reader into what should be the unquestioned domain of Homer the Historian: the classical historians Herodotus and Thucydides (Ch. 2). What Kim demonstrates in this chapter is that the tensions that were to fuel the Second Sophistic’s deconstruction of this idea of Homer are already abundantly visible here. The two historians repeatedly call attention to Homer’s lack of reliability (since he was a poet) but assume, with little basis or explanation, a fundamental historical reliability lying behind the Iliad’s representation of heroic warfare and its motivations. This anticipates a question that will emerge later: “Where did Homer get his information?” (206), a question that seems to be the elephant in the room throughout the developments recounted here. It is the final impossibility of answering this unasked question that resulted in the debunking of Homer the Historian in the Second Sophistic.

The third chapter, on Strabo, lays out the history of Homer the Geographer with admirable clarity, based largely on a contrast between the attitudes of Strabo and Eratosthenes (56–60). On one side, we have Strabo the Stoic with his stodgy commitment to the notion of Homer the Teacher; on the other, Eratosthenes, who is the exception in antiquity in dismissing this idea of the poet and asserting that Homer, like other poets, aims “at entertainment, not instruction” (56). Yet in both of these geographers we still encounter the unexplained notion that Homer knew the facts (including the geographical facts) and, properly read, can yield valid geographical information.

Kim’s reading of Dio Chrysostom’s “Trojan Oration” (Ch. 4) is, along with Ch. 5 on Lucian, the major accomplishment of the book. The effect of this slow and careful reading is to recreate what is surely Dio’s primary goal: the gradual rendering plausible of the absurd hypothesis that the true story of Troy is the opposite of what the Iliad delivers (Achilles, and not a disguised Patroclus, was really killed; the Trojans really won the war). This is an excellent illustration of the way the Second Sophistic orators turned reality on and off like a spigot, but the procedure is given a very special esthetic boost by the fact that the reality so treated here is a fiction (Homer’s) that had long had the status of “truth” among the Greeks.

From this point, it is clear how the chapter on Lucian’s True Stories will serve Kim’s program. The emphasis is on the episode situated on the Isle of the Blessed, where Homer is found living along with the characters he created and thus becomes, appropriately, an element of his own fiction. The world of the True Stories is “a literary world of Greek paideia” (174) and here Homer and his characters are situated entirely beyond history in a timeless sphere populated by figments of the imagination.

The Chapter on Philostratus’ Heroicus (“Ghosts at Troy,” Ch. 7) contextualizes that work with reference to the “true” pre-Homeric accounts of the Trojan war of Dares and Dictys (both several centuries later in their known literary form, though each trails a fabricated genealogy). The issue, again, is credibility, something the (fictional) eyewitness takes on as the Trojan war recedes back into the oral tradition in the Middle Ages. Philostratus’ dialogue, however, as it delves into Homeric criticism and lore, seems to mock even the credibility of an eyewitness account by invoking the evidence of “the ghost of Protesilaus,” who was, among those who figure in the Troy tale, the one who had the least opportunity to see the war. This is another way of distancing Homer and Homeric lore from history, of situating the “truth” of poet, characters, and events—and even the history of inquiry into all three—in a sphere accessible only by the intervention of the deceased—though it might be more accurate to call them something other than “ghosts” since both Protesilaus and Achilles (visited on a similar mission in Philostratus’ Apollonius of Tyana) are decidedly Hesiodic ὄλβιοι ἥρωες (W&D 172), and not run-of-the-mill εἴδωλα.

Kim’s study is thus a considerable contribution to the study of the literature of the high empire, as it is to that of the ancient reception of Homer. The Goodwin Committee has done us all a service in drawing attention to this book, which is built on genuinely original, interconnected readings of an underappreciated body of ancient literature.

This Day in Ancient History: idus septembres

idus septembres

ludi Romani (day 9)

epulum in honour of Minerva and others (connected to the ludi Romani)

ritual of the ‘driving of a nail’ by the Pontifex Maximus/Rex Sacrorum into the Temple of Jupiter (likely connected to the above and below entries)

509 B.C. — dedication of the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus (and associated rites thereafter; also incorporated into the ludi Romani, it seems)

490 B.C. — yet another reckoning for the Battle of Marathon

16 A.D. — revelation of the conspiracy of Lucius Scribonius Libo, leading to the first of the maiestas trials which characterized the emperor Tiberius’ principate

81 A.D. — death of the emperor Titus; his brother Domitian is acclaimed as emperor

122 A.D. — construction of Hadrian’s Wall begins? (I’m still wondering about the source for this claim)