#Thelxinoe ~ Classics News for October 21, 2021

Hodie est a.d. XII Kal. Nov. 2774 AUC ~ 15 Pyanepsion in the first year of the 700th Olympiad

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Was life for our ancient ancestors brutish and short or did they exist as noble savages free and living in harmony with nature and each other? Many of our assumptions about ancient societies stem from renaissance theories about how society should be organized and what civilisation is. Dan is joined by David Wengrow, Professor of Comparative Archaeology at University College London and co-author of The Dawn of Everything to challenge some of these assumptions and show that they were founded on critiques of European society. David shines a light on the great variety of ancient civilisations, the different models of society they offer and how that might influence us today.

Gold and horses! 2,500 years ago, in the area of the Great Steppe that is now Eastern Kazakhstan, an extraordinary ancient Scythian culture reigned supreme. They were called the Saka, renowned for their skill as horse archers and for their elaborate elite burials. Ancient Persian and Greek sources labelled them a barbaric, nomadic people – a scourge on the ‘civilised’ world. But new archaeological discoveries from East Kazakhstan are revealing a very different picture. A picture that highlights how the Saka were a highly-sophisticated ancient society. A culture that boasted complex settlements, expert craftsmen, extensive trade routes and more, alongside their equine mastery and their staggering wealth. Now, for a limited time only, you can see some of these newly-discovered artefacts at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. The exhibition is called ‘Gold of the Great Steppe’. Running from 28th September 2021 to 30th January 2022, it is the first exhibition about this ancient culture ever to be shown in the UK. To find out more about the exhibition and what these newly-discovered artefacts are revealing about the Saka, Tristan headed up to Cambridge to interview Dr Rebecca Roberts, associated curator of ‘Gold of the Great Steppe’.

We’re back at Troy, where shirts are optional, digging up an artifact from a bygone era: late 90’s television. Joined by the wonderful Dr. Deborah Beck, expert Homerist from UT Austin, we we break down the 1997 Hallmark miniseries, The Odyssey. This movie, by its director’s own omission hones in on the action-adventure aspects of Homer’s Odyssey. But, we scholars ruminate, are those really the best parts of the story? We mediate again on the pitfalls of sticking to the plot of a story while missing its larger themes. We also tackle two of the great questions of our time: Iliad or Odyssey and who had the best mullet?

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‘Sorting’ Out Your Day:

Today on the Etruscan Brontoscopic Calendar:

If it thunders today, it portends coughing sicknesses and cardiac issues.

… 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)