#Thelxinoe ~ Classics News for August 24, 2021

Hodie est a.d. IX Kal. Sept. 2774 AUC ~ 16 Metageitnion in the first year of the 700th Olympiad

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In a seemingly abandoned desert spot, near a small and insignificant Egyptian village, for a period of one thousand years, a city flourished; an important Hellenistic-Egyptian city, perhaps the 3rd largest in Egypt at the turn of the world from the Greek to Roman influence. This city, was called Oxyrhynchus: which translates as the city of the sharp-nosed fish . This, is where our adventure today begins! Two thousand years ago Oxyrhynchus, was on canals leading directly to the river Nile, which as today, it was the lifeline of all of Egypt’s inhabitants. On January 11, 1897, a low mound was being dug, when a piece of papyrus with unknown Logia, or ‘Sayings of Jesus’ was brought to the surface (it would later be determined that this was the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas ). Next was a leaf from the Gospel of Matthew , and then even more pieces of papyri. In three months, the men found enough papyri to fill 280 boxes. These papyri, tell us the story of the inhabitants, open a window to the everyday past, and to the private lives of the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine citizens of Egypt!

Today it is the second largest city in France. But Marseilles is also the country’s oldest city. Founded at the turn of the 7th century BC by Greek settlers, the ancient history of Marseilles (known to the Greeks as Massalia and the Romans as Massilia) is rich. Strategically positioned close to the River Rhone it soon became a wealthy trading metropolis. Notable names are plenty. Artemis is closely linked with the city’s foundations; the explorer Pytheas hailed from Massalia. And who can forget the great Carthaginian general Hannibal Barca, who passed close by Massalia with his army enroute to Italy in 218 BC. To talk through the early ancient history of Marseilles, from its mythical Greek Mama Mia foundation story to the Battle of Alalia, Dr Joshua Hall returned to the podcast.

Stretched along the north of the Hindu Kush mountain range and the south of the Oxus river, the history of the ancient region of Bactria envelops some of the most intriguing periods of the ancient world. The land, which now straddles parts of Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, can be tracked through the Bronze Ages, the Persian Empire and the rule of Alexander the Great, Greco-Bactrian rule and the rule of the Kushites. To guide us through this history, Tristan from our sibling podcast The Ancients spoke to David Adams, the Australian photojournalist and documentary filmmaker. David has personally explored many of the archaeological sites of Bactria, he shares his experiences and explains how the evidence shows the impact of climate change on the societies who lived there.

Three major wars, substantial territorial annexation, and a new form for Consuls to be elected, all occurred between 349 to 300 BCE (late 4th Century BCE). Dr. Gary Forsythe, Associate Professor, Texas Tech University, makes a fifth appearance on the show to explain the events.

You might call ceramics the “plastics” of the ancient world…ubiquitous, indestructible, and incredibly useful! But how do we identify the spaces where ancient potters once made these everyday objects? Dr. Elizabeth Murphy joins the podcast to tell us all about the discovery and excavation of ancient tableware workshops at the site of Sagalassos in modern Turkey. Listen in as artisanal techniques are brought to life and the everyday lives of ancient potters are revealed through archaeological exploration.

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‘Sorting’ Out Your Day:

Today on the Etruscan Brontoscopic Calendar:

If it thunders today, it portends the death of high born youths.

… adapted from the text and translation of:

Jean MacIntosh Turfa, The Etruscan Brontoscopic Calendar, in Nancy Thomson de Grummond and Erika Simon (eds.), The Religion of the Etruscans. University of Texas Press, 2006. (Kindle edition)