Wow … it’s hard to believe that the Ancient Lives Project has been around for almost two years now (see our initial coverage: Help Transcribe the Oxyrhynchus Papyri) … according to this interesting video from the Guardian, as of last October they’ve had well over a million transcriptions done in this crowd-sourcing project … check the video out:
Day: May 18, 2013
Pondering the Historicity of the Trojan War
Over at the OUP Blog, Eric Cline has keyboarded an interesting post … here’s a bit in medias res:
[…]According to the Greek literary evidence, there were at least two Trojan Wars (Heracles’ and Agamemnon’s), not simply one; in fact, there were three wars, if one counts Agamemnon’s earlier abortive attack on Teuthrania. Similarly, according to the Hittite literary evidence, there were at least four Trojan Wars, ranging from the Assuwa Rebellion in the late 15th century BCE to the overthrow of Walmu, king of Wilusa in the late 13th century BCE. And, according to the archaeological evidence, Troy/Hisarlik was destroyed twice, if not three times, between 1300 and 1000 BCE. Some of this has long been known; the rest has come to light more recently. Thus, although we cannot definitively point to a specific “Trojan War,” at least not as Homer has described it in the Iliad and the Odyssey, we have instead found several such Trojan wars and several cities at Troy, enough that we can conclude there is a historical kernel of truth — of some sort — underlying all the stories.[…]
- via: The Trojan War: fact or fiction? (OUP Blog)
Battle of Mons Graupius Site Found (?)
From the Herald:
A HISTORIAN is claiming to have found the site of one of Scotland’s most significant battles.
Archaeologist Mike Haseler believes he has evidence to suggest that the battle of Mons Graupius took place in Moray.
Mons Graupius was a key battle for British independence against the repressive hand of Rome almost 2000 years ago.
According to the Romans, 10,000 Britons died that day at the hands of this first European super-state, while many others fled the scene.
Despite stringent efforts by experts, the site of the battle between the Romans and the Caledonians – in either 83AD or 84AD – has never been conclusively identified.
However, Mr Haseler believes his research strongly points to the battle taking place near Elgin, at Quarrelwood Hill to the north-west of the town.
He is now asking that experts pay closer attention to the site and examine what he believes to be a possible Roman fort a short distance away.
From his research and examining the formation of aerial crop circles, Mr Haseler believes he has discovered the fort just south of Elgin.
“I knew the site was a really good candidate from looking at old maps, but I never thought I would find what appeared to be the ditches of a Roman fort staring out at me from the computer screen,” he said.
“I have looked and looked at the evidence, and everything fits.
“I have been to the site, and it is just as described by the Roman writer Tacitus and, barring going up with a metal detector, which is clearly illegal, there is nothing else I can do but present the evidence I have for the public to decide.”
Mr Haseler, who is based in Lenzie, East Dunbartonshire, found the location while completing his certificate of field archaeology at Glasgow University.
Key to his discovery was his reconstruction of a second century map to help him pinpoint the homeland of the Caledonian tribe.
Considerable debate and analysis has surrounded the site of the battle, which is known to have taken place on Scottish soil.
Touted locations include Perthshire, to the north of the River Dee, while other historians have suggested it may have taken place in Kincardineshire or even Bennachie in Aberdeenshire.
However, Mr Haseler’s research brought him to Moray.
“It is the right size and the only way to prove or disprove it is to go public and ask for experts to assess the site,” he added. “The general position of the site is an excellent fit for Mons Graupius.
“The Caledonian army of about 30,000 would be gathering on Quarrel Hill and were probably expecting the Romans to take two days to reach them.
“Instead, I think [Roman governor] Agricola pressed on with a surprise attack and took only one.
“The Romans, having sent out scouts to select a suitable site for a temporary camp, would have arrived to the surprise and consternation of the Caledonians very late in the day, and made camp a few miles from the Caledonian army.
“So, the main battle would have been fought on the south of Quarrelwood Hill, and perhaps on the immediate plain in front.
“Having looked at all the possible candidates, I am convinced that this site is the best fit to what we know about the battle, mainly because most other sites are just too far south even to consider.
“Historians have been gradually moving the assumed locations of tribes further north, so a lot of the potential sites are now located too far south, but we simply don’t know what is there until we start digging.”
Of course the obvious question is to ask about any archaeological evidence that has already been found in the area …
UPDATE (a couple days later): Adrian Murdoch is also skeptical: Battle of Mons Graupius Found?
This Day in Ancient History:
- c. 250 A.D. — martyrdom of Venantius
- 304 A.D. — martyrdom of Theodotus
- 1692 — death of Elias Ashmole (founder of the museum that bears his name)