Infant Burial from Austria

Here’s one from a month or so ago that I was hoping would get a bit more coverage, only to have it get lost in my email box … from the Austrian Independent:

Builders digging up land for a bypass at Schützen am Gebirge in Burgenland have unearthed a child’s grave dating back to Roman times.

Archeologists say that the tiny grave surrounded by heavy stones had been undisturbed until it was found by the road workers, and that it dated back to the first century after Christ.

They said the grave still had pottery and glass items inside which in many other cases had been stolen by grave robbers.

Archeologist Kurt Fiebig from the organisation PannArch that is doing the dig said: “It was a child’s grave, which unusually for the time was a whole body burial and not a cremation. We have found milk teeth in the skull that will help us identify the age of the body.”

The team said they had also found another grave nearby and what was the foundations of a house. The second grave however had already been plundered.

There are some photos of the finds here:

CFP: Beauty, Bravery, Blood and Glory

Seen on the Classicists list:

Beauty, Bravery, Blood and Glory: Ancient Virtues and Vices in Modern Popular Culture

Bar Ilan University/Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel 10-11 June, 2013.

Ancient Greece and Rome are rarely depicted objectively in modern popular culture. Sometimes these ancient cultures, epitomised by smooth white marble and classical beauty, are idealised and glorified. More commonly, they are depicted as wicked and corrupt, decadent and licentious, characterised by excessive drinking, the violence and bloodlust of the arena, sexual deviance and a lust for world domination. Intertwined with these characterisations are other groups, notably Jews and Christians, who may be depicted as foils to the pagan population. Portrayals of ancient Judaism and Christianity also often present exaggerated ideals of heroism and virtue in popular culture. This conference aims to explore the way particular virtues and vices are considered to be particularly representative of the ancient world, and to reflect upon how these virtues and vices are portrayed in twentieth and twenty-first century popular culture, in all its forms and media, including cinema, television, radio, literature, comics, advertising, the internet and video games.

We invite proposals for papers (20 minutes plus discussion) exploring the many ways that the vice and virtues of the ancient world are popularly represented in the modern world. Possibilities of subjects include, but are not limited to, depictions of the following aspects of ancient Greece and Rome:

– Modern Representations of the Ancient Body

– Greek, Roman or Christian virtues

– Male and Female Sexuality

– Imperialism and Democracy

– Rhetorical virtues

– Ancient Heroism

– Freedom Fighters

– Slaves and Slave-owners

– Love, Sex, Orgies and Debauchery

– Ancient Religion in a Modern World

Keynote speakers: Monica Cyrino (New Mexico) and Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones (Edinburgh).

Please send proposals to arrive by 30 November 2012. Paper proposals should be no more than 300 words, and should be accompanied by contact details.

For further information please contact Eran Almagor (almagore AT or Lisa Maurice (mauril68 AT

CJOnline Review: Causey, Amber and the Ancient World

posted with permission:

Amber and the Ancient World. By Faya Causey. Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2012. Pp. 144. Hardcover, $25.00. ISBN 978-1-60606-082-7.

Reviewed by Rachael Goldman, Graduate Center, City University of New York

Faya Causey has studied the subject of ancient amber for a long time. Ever since her 1985 Berkeley dissertation, “Studies on Greek, Etruscan and Italic Carved Ambers,” she has engaged with the subject in a serious way, providing her well-trained eye to catalogue descriptions, analysis and re-evaluation of several major collections of major art. So it seems only fitting that she should have written this small but authoritative text on amber, prepared as an introduction to the online catalogue of Ancient Carved Amber in the J. Paul Getty Museum.

For some reason, amber exhibits evoke a natural curiosity that is not found in most ancient art. Causey’s book is divided into roughly three sections, ranging from the scientific properties of amber to its production and use in ancient Italic and Etruscan art.

Her first chapter deals with the creation and use of amber in ancient jewelry, defining what the scope of ornament and decoration had been for ancient men and women. She then deals with the employment of amber in magic and religious spells, commenting on Pliny the Elder’s lengthy list of uses for amber. She comments on how pieces of amber were also included in burial contexts. Here she discusses the composition of amber: unfortunately, as a resin produced from the bark of trees, there is no set way to determine how old a piece of amber is, because of variations in the composition of the resin. Most importantly Causey explains all the possible types of detritus that can be included in the hardened resin, such as bacteria, fungi, worms, snails, insects, spiders and even some small animals.

Her next section discusses the various geographical contexts in which amber is found, claiming that the sea beds of the Baltic Sea are most plentiful, but she also mentions the ancient sources that list Sicily, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan as places that were amber-rich. Her most illuminating chapter examines the scientific properties of amber, which includes its rare magnetic ability, which was used in the earliest experiments with electricity (which gets its name from the ancient Greek name for amber, elektron). For the enthusiast, the photographs on pages 42–3, showing two Etruscan examples of carved amber, a translucent portrait head with an archaic smile and an embracing satyr and maenad, beautifully illustrate the variety of carving in this delicate medium.

Causey next changes direction and focuses on amber in its ancient context, particularly the sources that name elektron in Greek or glaesum in Latin, sometimes slightly absurd, as when she cites a graphic illustration in a medieval bestiary showing amber as the product of lynx urine. She includes a useful compilation of ancient literary sources ranging from Pindar to Herodotus and Ovid to Martial. She discusses how amber was spread and how it was used, including attempts to deceive collectors; even Leonardo da Vinci knew the exact recipe of making fake amber from hardened egg whites. She explains the complex process of transporting amber through the Mediterranean, showing that there was no single route and that there is no literary evidence for the amber trade until the time of Pliny the Elder. If there is any fault to this chapter, it is that her discussion is relegated to Italian routes across the Adriatic Sea, when perhaps there were more developed routes along the silk route through Asia. She concludes with chapters on amber medicine and amulets, archaeological evidence for the use of figured amber, the working of amber, and the production of figured amber objects.

This is a text for a wide audience, ranging from ancient historians to enthusiastic collectors and educators. The sumptuous array of photographs is a feast for the eyes and also highlights the details that might ordinarily be overlooked in many of these tiny examples. A few minor critiques of the book are that it is slightly disorganized and the title is a little misleading since it focuses exclusively on Italic and Etruscan pieces. The bibliography and source citations are extensive and scholarly. Often the subject of amber is neglected in general surveys of ancient art and this is a welcome addition to anyone curious about this remarkable and beautiful material.