d.m. Lawrence Richardson

From the News and Observer:

Lawrence Richardson, Jr.
December 2, 1920 – July 21, 2013

Lawrence Richardson, Jr., died late July 21, 2013 in the Pavilion at Croasdaile Village after a very short illness. He lived a long and wonderful life, and he was lucid and productive to the end. Born December 2, 1920 in Altoona, PA, he was educated at Yale (A.B. with philosophical orations, 1942; Ph.D. in Classical Studies, 1952). But his heart was always in Italy, the center of his prolific scholarship, and at Duke University, where he taught in the Department of Classical Studies from 1966 through his retirement in 1991. Only in 2008 did macular degeneration stop him from going to his office daily, and even through the week of his death he continued to read Latin, correspond with former students, friends, and colleagues, and pursue scholarly projects in his retirement community at Croasdaile. He was a gentle, generous person, famous among friends for his love of convivial companionship and gardening, and known to many for his genteel affability as he walked daily to Duke’s East Campus. He will be sorely missed, even though his numerous scholarly works remain to represent his erudition, wit, and life devoted to the humanities.
He spent many years in Rome and the Bay of Naples, Italy. Larry arrived first in post-war Italy as a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome in 1948, a fascinating experience he recently described in The American Academy 1947-54. Reopening & Reorientation: A Personal Reminiscence (published in 2013, when he was 92). He returned to the American Academy repeatedly, as a field archaeologist working at Cosa (1952-55), Classicist in Residence (1977), and Mellon Professor-in-Charge of its School of Classical Studies (1980-81), as well as during summers. He served the Academy as a Trustee, on various committees such as the Library, and in many other ways. He served on the editorial board of the Associazione Internazionale “Amici di Pompei” (“Friends of Pompeii). He has published numerous articles, reviews, and books, including A New Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome (1992), Pompeii: an Architectural History (1988), A Catalog of Identifiable Painters of Ancient Pompeii, Herculaneum and Stabiae (2000), and Pompeii: The Casa dei Dioscuri and its Painters (1955). He is a joint author of Cosa II: The Temples of the Arx (1960), and Cosa III: The Buildings of the Forum (1993), helping to publish the material from the site at which he first excavated.
He was a recipient of Fulbright, Sterling and Guggenheim Fellowships. He was a former president of the Archaeological Institute of America (North Carolina Society), a member of the AIA, the American Philological Association, and the Academy of Literary Studies. In 2012 he received the Gold Medal Award for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement in recognition of his myriad contributions to archaeology through his fieldwork, publications, and teaching.
Although Larry taught also at Yale University and at the University of North Carolina, his real home other than Italy was in Durham and at Duke, where he mentored countless students and numerous colleagues from his arrival in 1966. He served as chairman of the Department of Classical Studies in 1966-69, and again in the 1980s. He was in his office daily from mid-morning until after 6, in early years accompanied by one or two of his dear Airedales. His door was always open, and he never seemed too busy to answer a question; he offered his full attention, and then, without a hint of having been bothered, he turned seamlessly back to whatever he had been doing. His personal library was vast and generously loaned; his knowledge seemingly even greater, and just as generously shared. One of his happiest courses was Latin Prose Composition, and he was often seen patiently working with individual students over a translation of a contemporary news piece into the Latin of Cicero. Many of those undergraduates have gone on to careers in medicine, law, or other non-Classical pursuit, but each vividly recalls Latin Prose Comp with Professor Richardson.
Larry was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Dr. Emeline Richardson. He leaves to mourn him innumerable colleagues, students, and friends, whose lives he enriched. He was well cared for at Croasdaile where he continued to learn to his last days, introduced by devoted visitors to Italian soccer and other non-Classical topics. In keeping with his request, there will be no service. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to the Richardson Graduate Travel Fund, and sent to the Department of Classical Studies, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0103.

Roman Necropolis from Jordan

I wonder if we’ll hear more about this … from Ammon:

The Department of Antiquities (DoA) has unearthed the remains of a Roman cemetery in Abdoun, it announced late on Monday.

Ahmad Al Shami, Amman antiquities inspector, said 12 burial sites were discovered in addition to artefacts and human bones dating back to the Roman era.

The site in Abdoun, which is one of Amman’s upscale neighbourhoods, includes numerous graves and skeletal remains of several individuals, according to Shami.

In addition, archaeologists have found pottery and a coin.

“We will study the pottery and the coin for more details about that era,” he told The Jordan Times over the phone on Tuesday.

Shami added that they did not find a complete skeleton, only remains, which experts will study to identify the age and gender of those who were buried at the site.

In addition to the 12 graves the DoA unearthed, there are two destroyed tombs and a small yard in front of them that was used to prepare the dead bodies, he noted.

“We also found symbols of Rosetta, the Roman flower, engraved in the stones,” Shami said.

The cemetery was discovered on private property by a contractor supervising a construction project, and the owner was requested to stop work at the site until studies by the DoA conclude.

via: ‘Roman cemetery unearthed in Abdoun’ (Ammon)

Roman-Jewish Friendship Tablet Real?

Still thinking about this one from Arutz Sheva:

An independent historian from the small northern Negev city of Arad has turned the world of historical research upside down with controversial new research published in a Danish journal.

The article authored by Dr. Linda Zollschan, which appears in Classica Et Mediaevalia, the Danish Journal of Philology and History, Volume 63, proves a long-gone bronze tablet displaying ‘friendship’ between Rome and Israel’s Jews did indeed exist. The research has overturned previous assertions to the contrary.

Ancient writers – Josephus, Justinus and Eusebius – have all made reference to the fact that the Jews received “friendship” (a technical term for diplomatic ties, just below formal diplomatic relations) from the Romans. Memory of this event was preserved through oral and written tradition into the Middle Ages on a bronze tablet that once hung in the Church of San Basilio in Rome, says Zollschan in her article.

“The bronze tablet had been well known, for it was remembered after it had disappeared from sight and given attention in the Mirabilia, a guidebook which had wide currency and was still being reprinted and used into the sixteenth century,” Zollschan explains.

“The tablet was singled out for attention because of its mention of Judas Maccabaeus who was held in high regard in the Middle Ages. The story of the Maccabaean revolt against the Seleucid king served as an allegory of the battles of the Church against its enemies. The success of the Jews with G-d’s help was also considered an uplifting exemplar of military leadership and later (during the Crusades) as the defender of Jerusalem.”

That it was inscribed on bronze defines it as an inscription that had significance in its own right, and that it was not used as building material, as were so many stone inscriptions, she adds. Its text, which contained mention of Judas Maccabeaeus — Judah Maccabee – gave it a religious significance, reminding the viewer of Judah the warrior, aided by G-d, who succeeded against overwhelming odds in his battle against the Syrian Seleucid army.

Till now, most historians in the field have believed the tablet – which has not been seen in centuries – was only a myth confused with one inscribed in stone.

“There are several indicators to be considered that speak for the tablet’s authenticity,” Zollschan argues in her article.

“Overlooked in previous treatments of this bronze tablet is the relevance of its location … in the ruins of the Temple of Mars Ultor in the Forum of Augustus, a temple which had served as the ‘Foreign Office’ of Rome. Its contents recording friendship between the Roman and the Jews was the type of information that would have been inscribed on a bronze tablet and hung on a temple wall in Rome.

“This friendship was just the type of diplomatic relations that many of the ancient sources also report was cemented as a result of the Jewish embassy to Rome in 161 BCE. Bronze was the typical medium for the setting down [of] the text of decrees of the Senate and recording diplomatic relations,” she explains.

“Being affixed to a wall accorded with Roman practice. In the Middle Ages, ancient Roman inscriptions, like the one in the Mirabilia, were often displayed in churches.”

There were other details that afford ample proof of the tablet’s existence as well, she argues, despite the fact it no longer physically exists.

“The bronze tablet was mentioned in 1140 and continued to be known in the sixteenth century when the guidebook was still sold to pilgrims coming to Rome,” Zollschan explained in her article.

Several hundred years later, there was still a Jewish connection.

“The land on which the now dilapidated church stood was granted by Pope Pius IV in 1562 to the Dominican order of nuns, who built the the Monastery of SS. Annunziata. They had sought property in Rome to house Jewish girls who had converted to Christianity and who wanted to live as nuns under monastic vows, but had nowhere to go because other monasteries rejected them on account of their Jewish ancestry,” she continued.

“Converts were given accommodation and girls were lured to convert by a gift of 50 scudi for a dowry so that they could marry. The church found for them a suitable Christian partner. Those who did not marry became nuns.

“So it was that 40 nuns (converts from Judaism) came to live on the ruins of a church that had once openly displayed evidence of friendship between the Romans and the Jews.”

The article isn’t out yet (not until August, apparently), but there is an abstract (I believe) at Dr Zollschan’s Academia.edu page:

I think we have to read the article on this one before passing judgement …

Also Seen: Ass-Kicking Athletes of Antiquity

I’ve been meaning to mention this series by Karl Smallwood over at Man Cave Daily, which are written somewhat tongue-in-cheek and not with the historical accuracy/focus we might be used to. There are also images in the sidebars which might not sit well with some folks. Still, you might want to check out:

Dragon and Dolphin (nope) Mosaic From Monasterace

This one is potentially very interesting … most of the coverage comes from ANSA-related outlets in various languages, so here’s the English coverage from Gazzetta del Sud:

Students on an archaeological dig near the southern Italian town of Monasterace have uncovered an important and ancient mosaic, authorities said Tuesday. The large mosaic, likely of ancient Greek origins, was discovered near another major find announced last fall by archaeologist Francesco Cuteri. Cuteri says he is pleased that students from Argentina and Italy made the latest mosaic discovery, which he added is an important find. “The discovery is of extraordinary importance because it is the largest Hellenic mosaic of Magna Grecia (an area of southern Italy),” he said. The mosaic, depicting dragon and dolphins, may date from the Hellenistic period, which ran from about 323 BC to about 146 BC. Work on the excavation began in 1998 and last year had already led to the discovery of a mosaic depicting a dragon, a rosette and six panels with floral motifs. Cuteri said work is far from finished. “We are confident….we can find at least two other panels,” he said, adding the new area has been dubbed ‘the hall of dragons and dolphins’. “We have worked on this excavation for 15 years and now what emerges fills us with joy”.

That said, I don’t understand why all the ANSA coverage includes what isn’t exactly the greatest photo available, i.e.:

via Gazzetta del Sud

Corriere della Calabria includes one that’s a bit more clear:

via Corriere della Calabria

… which raises a question: does the ‘dragon’ interpretation come via the first photo, which has something on top of it which makes it look like there are two creatures? So we’ll track down another photo (actually, the whole set, it seems):

via Mondo Tempo Reale

Seems we ain’t dealing with dolphins or dragons. Those are good old-fashioned Hippocampi/oi, no?

UPDATE (an hour or so later): definitely an argument for the benefits of caffeine … when the caffeine hit, I remembered we mentioned an earlier phase of this back in September: Hellenistic Mosaic From Monasterace … check out the photo there. How are they getting dragons and dolphins from this????

UPDATE II (a couple days later): tip o’ the pileus to the Random Classicist who wrote in to remind me of the beastie known as the Cetus, the foe of Perseus which I had totally forgotten about. Here’s an example of a Cetus image from the Classical Art Research Centre (a mosaic from Tunis) :

… so the thing I was calling a Hippocamp is clearly a Ketos/Cetus. Are they considered dragons? Or is that just something that happened during translation?

UPDATE III (the next day): Tip o’ the pileus to John Dillon, who also sent in some very useful comments:

_Ketos_ seems to be the contemporary term of choice among art historians for sea beasties of this form, though one still encounters _pistrix_ (and, in Italian, its derivative _pistrice_). Joseph Fontenrose (Python_, pp. 288-306) is helpful here, esp. pp. 288-89 and fig. 25 on p. 305; cf. also Barbette Stanley Spaeth, _The Goddess Ceres_, p. 135, and J. M. Blanquez, “Grifos y ketoi en mosaicos de Italia, Hispania, Africa y el Oriente”, in Nicole Blanc and André Buisson, edd., _Imago Antiquitatis_ (Paris, 1999), pp. 119-28; figs. 1-9. In Italian they’re conceived of as a sea serpent and thus as a sort of _drago_ and are popularly called by that latter term (_ketos_ and _pistrix_ both being far too specialized for a general audience). Since English _dragon_ tends to signify a four-legged, terrestrial creature, a better translation of _drago_ in this context would be _sea dragon_.

A few further ancient and medieval _ketoi_:
1) A red-figure vase in the Museo Jatta in Ruvo di Puglia [but how much of this is down to a modern restorer?]

2) The sea wind (at right) on the Ara Pacis Augustae:

3) Jonah and the “whale” in mosaic on the epistle ambo (said to be earlier C12 but I’d check to see what Jill Caskey has to say before repeating this standard dating) in the cathedral of Ravello:

4) Detail of the later C12 mosaic floor of the cathedral of Otranto:

5) At far left, on the probably earlier C13 mosaic frieze on the cathedral of Terracina: