Honours for Mary Beard!

Congratulations to Mary Beard, who has been awarded an OBE for services to Classical Scholarship. Very nice that such things continue to be recognized …. here are Dr Beard’s own thoughts on the matter:

  • OBE? (A Don’s Life)

FWIW, I tried to track down other Classics types who have been similarly honoured and they are few and far between:

  • Michael Grant OBE, CBE
  • Peter Jones MBE
  • Christopher Rowe, OBE
  • Martin Ferguson Smith, OBE

… I’m sure there are more, but not many more. Now I’m wondering if Dr Beard is the first woman Classicist so honoured …  Again, congrats to our favourite Don!!

UPDATE (an hour or so later): Averil Cameron received a DBE in 2006

CJ Online Review: Wight, Molten Color: Glassmaking in Antiquity

posted with permission

Molten Color: Glassmaking in Antiquity. By Karol B. Wight. Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2011. Pp. 128; 92 color and 2 b/w illustrations, 36 line drawings, 1 map. Paper, $20.00/£13.99. ISBN 978-1-60606-053-7.

Reviewed by Susan Walker, Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford

The well-chosen cover photograph of a multi-colored ribbon flask, a product of early imperial Roman glass-making, illustrates both the sense of flow in the title and the visual appeal of this short survey of glassmaking in antiquity. Recently appointed Director of the Corning Museum of Glass, Wight has retained her sense of wonder at the technical brilliance of ancient glass, and communicates her passionate interest in glassmaking throughout the book. The work is addressed to a non-specialist audience.

A short introduction makes the modern reader aware of the omnipresence of glass in our daily lives; a first chapter explains what glass is and how its properties have been exploited. Good use is made here of illustrations from early books. Wight alludes briefly to the advances made in recent decades in our understanding of the chemistry of ancient glass. The map of the Roman Empire is puzzling: the sites marked on it require explanation as centers of glass-making at various times in antiquity. An historical overview begins with the earliest techniques used in Bronze Age Mesopotamia and Egypt: casting, core-forming and mosaic glass. Wight moves on to the Mediterranean of the first millennium BC, where there is a frustrating lack of surviving glass of monumental scale, but where gold-glass was first exploited and Hellenistic glass-makers developed mosaic glass to new heights of perfection. The processes of core-forming and making mosaic glass are well explained and clearly illustrated.

Much space is devoted to the glass of the Roman Empire, for the Romans exploited to spectacular effect the newly discovered technique of glass-blowing. Raw glass was exported to Europe from Judaea and Alexandria. Early imperial control of the Alpine regions allowed the exploitation of abundant local resources of metal and wood to turn glass from a small-scale, luxury product into a convenience for the masses. Secondary workshops employed glassmakers using iron blowpipes; these could hold heavier gobs of molten glass than the earliest known pipes of glass or ceramic found in Judaea. Large containers were produced, and, most significantly for the future of the craft, glass could be recycled.

Glass thus acquired a much wider range of uses, which are explored in the last chapter of the text. The excellent photographs are not scaled but dimensions are given in the captions, along with a brief description of the glass’s function and technique of manufacture and, most usefully, a museum inventory number. A glossary explains technical terms printed in bold font in the text. The layout of the chapter headings is irritating, set within the first page of text.

The focus of Molten Glass is technological and exclusively focused upon the Getty Museum’s collection. In the preface, the author explains that the book draws upon an exhibition prepared in 2006. Temporary exhibitions of ancient glass have been a major source of scholarship in recent years: within the short bibliography Wight refers to another influential display organized by technique: Glass of the Caesars, held at the British Museum and other venues in the late 1980s. Vitrum: Il vetro fra arte e scienza nel mondo romano, held in Florence in 2004, produced a catalogue of lasting value, perhaps omitted because the publication, edited by M. Beretta and G. Di Pasquale, is in Italian. I missed any recommendation to read E. Marianne Stern’s seminal article “Roman Glass-blowing in a Cultural Context”, AJA 103 (1999) 441–84. Scholarship on ancient glass is international, with significant publications in all the major European languages, comprehensively summarized and critically reviewed every five years by Marie-Dominique Nenna in Revue Archéologique.

Notwithstanding these limitations, Wight gives her readers a valuable, well-illustrated and clear account of the techniques of glass-making in antiquity as seen through the remarkable collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum. The museum would do well to commission a series of similar books on the making of other classes of object within its collections.

Dissection in Early Alexandria

Very interesting item at History in an Hour … here’s a tease:

During the third century BCE, the city of Alexandria was home to a remarkable event in the development of ancient medicine as two physicians, named Herophilus and Erasistratus, conducted ground-breaking investigations into internal human anatomy. This research was important not only because it corrected many ancient misconceptions about the body, but because the doctors are believed to have reached their conclusions by dissecting human corpses, a practice outlawed in the Ancient World.

Here’s the rest:

d.m. Evelyn Byrd Harrison

From the ASCSA:

Renowned art historian Evelyn Byrd (Eve) Harrison died peacefully in her New York City apartment on November 3.

Born in Charlottesville, Virginia in 1920, Eve Harrison received her A.B. from Barnard College in 1941 and her M.A. from Columbia University in 1943, but her graduate studies were interrupted by the Second World War. Until the end of 1945, she served as a Research Analytic Specialist, translating intercepted Japanese messages for the War Department.

In 1949, she joined the staff of the ASCSA’s Athenian Agora Excavations. She received her Ph.D. from Columbia in 1952, and a revised version of her dissertation on the portrait sculpture found in the Agora inaugurated the series The Athenian Agora: Results of Excavations Conducted by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Her Portrait Sculpture was followed in 1965 by Archaic and Archaistic Sculpture, volume XI of The Athenian Agora.

Professor Harrison began her teaching career in 1951 at the University of Cincinnati, where she taught not only art history but also first-year Greek and Latin. After a second research position with the Agora Excavations between 1953 and 1955, she joined the faculty of the Department of Art History and Archaeology of Columbia University, where she was named full professor in 1967. Four years as Professor of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University followed, and in 1974 she was named Edith Kitzmiller Professor of the History of Fine Arts at the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University.

She was honored for her contributions to art history and archaeology by election as an Honorary Councilor of the Archaeological Society of Athens, a member of the German Archaeological Institute, a member of the American Philosophical Society, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The Archaeological Institute of America recognized her lifetime of accomplishment by awarding her its Gold Medal for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement in 1992.

d.m. Glenys Lloyd-Morgan

From the Guardian:

My friend Glenys Lloyd-Morgan, who has died aged 67 after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, devoted her career to the appreciation and understanding of Roman archaeology.

She was born in Halifax and brought up in Caernarfonshire; her father was a merchant sea captain and her mother was an entomologist and teacher. Glenys graduated from the archaeology department at Birmingham University in 1970 and acquired fine skills in excavation. Former contemporaries recall how she practised it at Droitwich, Worcestershire.

Under Richard Tomlinson’s supervision, she did a PhD at Birmingham on Roman mirrors, which she studied, along with any potential Celtic-related predecessor artefacts in museums throughout Britain and Ireland. Venturing into the world of Roman Europe, she spent a very happy period at the Museum Kam in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, in 1973-74. At the British School at Rome, she met Sir Anthony Blunt, who vividly recalled Glenys’s enthusiasms for Etruscan mirrors and how she had enlivened the school’s New Year’s Eve party by dancing on the table.

In March 1975, Glenys joined the Grosvenor Museum, Chester. There, she catalogued collections and did convincing re-enactments as a Roman lady. Though hoped-for promotion never materialised, she soldiered on until marrying and moving to Rochdale in 1989. She became a finds consultant specialising in Roman artefacts. In 1998, she returned home to north Wales, where it was recognised that she had developed Alzheimer’s. She was taken into a home soon afterwards and the rest of her life was spent in full-time care.

I first met Glenys at the Young Archaeologists’ Conference in Durham early in 1968, where she sang and danced, as was often her habit. Her dress could be unconventional and her eastern dances disarming to those more used to her authoritative archaeological presentations.

Made a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in March 1979, she published in mainland Europe, Britain and Ireland. Glenys was a warm-hearted and helpful collaborator who made lasting friendships, retained her youthful sense of fun, loved children and assumed the role of aunt without encouragement. Her scholarly works will endure.

She is survived by her sister, Ceridwen, her brother, Dewi, and three nephews.