1.28.2015

Amphipolis ...

... look, I had literally refused to go on TV for well over five years as I don't want the "fame" and I only went on Greek TV as I was tired of people who had never been to the site at Amphipolis (Palagia, Chugg) talking crap; I wanted to defend the work of the amazing team who actually are working at Amphipolis.

I also should admit that whilst a book about Amphipolis would be lovely in the long term, I also had never planned to 'rush' to publish one before the archaeologists. I knew a book by me on the market would blow out others' attempts to get advances for a book, and that was my main plan. Also, if a book of mine one day is published and makes money, obviously I would split the profits with the guys there as they did the hard work.

I am happy to try to explain the archaeologists' finds, and try to theorise about them but ... I am currently taking a break as I was close to the CharlieHebdo office and the doctor told me I need to go for a rest. I have had absolutely no news or contact about the excavation finds from the team since the news broke in August - no-one is leaking to me as I gave the few (minor) people who tried hell. Theorise away, just be aware that we are just theorising and discussing possibilities!

Normally excavations are complicated, but the public and press only see the end results. Amphipolis may look a "mess" because unusually here people are seeing the excavation as it goes along. This is normal! As is changing theories as new evidence comes to light ... whoever this turns out to be, it is already the most important find of the century.

Michaelis Lefantzis has been there from the start, he was the one who went looking for bits of the Lion and thus in turn found even more amazing discoveries. Lefantzis is one of the most talented archaeologists (in Greece it's "architect" but in the UK & US we include that within "archaeologists") that I am aware of, not just in Greece but the world. He's the hero of Amphipolis, and the idiots claiming other crap are just that - idiots. Greece voted for change, so let's give Amphipolis a chance to change too.



Today In 98: Trajan Became Emperor

He's one of the few to successfully invade Iraq, although his heir found it harder to consolidate the conquest and withdrew.

Trajan's ashes were put in the base of his Column in Rome. Mondadori have created a very good (and free) App about Trajan's Column in English and in Italian.


Augustus claimed to have found a city of brick and left one of marble. Trajan was equally naughty with when it came to claiming edifices ...




If you enjoyed this video by Adrian Murdoch, check out his book on The Emperors of Rome; Kindle UK, Kindle US, etc

Update: The Continuing Saga of the AIA-St. Louis Society



Beth Ann Judas, MA, Phd


The final decision of the AIA Council was that the AIA-St. Louis (AIA-STL) board must resign, in its entirety, by February 1, 2015 or the AIA would revoke their charter. January 13, 2015 saw another moment in the continuing saga of the AIA-St. Louis Society.  The Society called an emergency meeting to discuss the decision by the AIA Council during the 2015 Annual Meetings in New Orleans.

According to Douglas Boin (@douglasboin), who was present at the meeting, the members of AIA-STL discussed the situation and then voted to retain their board. The vote was 30 for the board, 27 against the board, and 4 abstentions, which suggests that many Society members felt strongly that the board did not act incorrectly (and the close numbers also demonstrate possible conflict concerning this issue).  Although members demonstrated support for their board, with that one act, they condemned their society.

But there was a sudden twist in the story. On Sunday night, January 25, the St. Louis officers and board of directors decided to resign in order to allow AIA-STL to continue its association with the national organization. Prior to their resignation, the officers and board picked their replacement interim officers and board.  Presumably, this will allow their members to decide who wants to participate in an election of officers.  The resignation was effective as of January 26, 2015.

Meanwhile, AIA memebrs and archaeological communities wait to see what will officially happen on February 1. The assumption at this point is that the AIA will allow AIA-St. Louis to continue as an affiliated socity since they have met the requirements set forth by the AIA Council at the 2015 Annual Meetings.

I have to admit this update has been a little harder to write, which is why I haven't posted this as quickly as I thought I would (plus, every time I think that I am ready to post it, some new information appears).  Aside from my confusion as to why the society members wanted to vote themselves out of existence, I can only assume that the vote against removing the officers was a result of the members believing-very strongly-in their board's decisions.  Was there also a bit of hoping to call the AIA's bluff? Perhaps... But that is all moot now, as the officers and board of directors resigned, and now we wait to hear from the AIA itself.

Meanwhile, over the past several months, I've had various conversations concerning this issue with friends who are not archaeologists and who know nothing about archaeology (except whatever interactions they have with it as a result of being my friend).  And the conversations, while positive, in-depth ones, seem to be exercises of how do (should?) archaeologists communicate complex issues such as this with the general public, especially one such as this, which is not as clear cut as one would think.  The sale was legal, but question of ethics in regards to an archaeological society and what roles and responsibilities it has as a public face of archaeology remains. It's easy to have in-depth discussions between friends and acquaintances over dinner or drinks, but that's not a feasible answer for reaching out to the rest of the public. Ultimately, the hard and terrible question remains, how do we communicate archaeological issues and ideals in a manner that makes sense to lay people?

*Announcement of Officers and Board Resignation on the Facebook page of  "St. Louis Archaeological Institute of America" (January 26, 2015)

*An Announcement concerning the AIA St. Louis Society (January 21, 2015)
The AIA announces that the St. Louis Society's charter will be revoked if the 100% of the current St. Louis Society board members resigned by February 1, 2015.  The announcement recognized the the decision of the St. Louis Society to not remove their board members from their positions on January 13, 2015.

*All of the statements made by the AIA re the AIA St. Louis Society gathered into one page on the AIA website.

*Changes to the (national) AIA Regulations
These updates were voted upon at the January 10, 2015 AIA Council meeting

1.26.2015

Don't Forget to Get a PAP Smear Test ...

... it's not as embarrassing as cancer would be, and early detection makes cancer prevention more likely. Oh, and if you're in the UK go to an NHS Genito-Urinary Clinic as they know what they're doing and are so good at performing smear tests you *almost* won't notice.*



And apologies for not posting a "selfie" like everyone else in every other awareness campaign to "promote" it. I do actually have a 'selfie' of my cervix the gynecologist took, and ... oh anyway, I thought it was too early in the morning for readers to post that ;-)



* - okay technically that's a little lie. Any woman would notice someone sticking something in her ... but the GU nurses make it painless.

1.24.2015

PTSD in 1300BCE account of 'ghosts faced in battle'

Post-traumatic stress discovered in 1300BCE with accounts of 'ghosts faced in battle':
Professor Jamie Hacker Hughes, a former consultant clinical psychologist for the Ministry of Defence, believes the first description of PTSD was accredited to Herodotus. The Greek historian describes what happened to a warrior called Epizelus during the battle of Marathon in 490BCE.

He "was in the thick of the fray, and behaving himself as a brave man should, when suddenly he was stricken with blindness, without blow of sword or dart; and this blindness continued thenceforth during the whole of his after life".


the timing of an old post being cited in this is slightly ironic as have it a bit again post Paris :-(

Today In 76: Hadrian Born

Hadrian built a fabulous villa at Tivoli, which has been reconstructed in 3-D by some brilliant scholars:



If you want to explore Hadrian's travels, there's a game for that: Hadrian: The Roamin' Emperor - OpenLearn - Open University

Today In AD 41: Caligula Died






If you enjoyed this video by Adrian Murdoch, check out his book on The Emperors of Rome; Kindle UK, Kindle US, etc

1.21.2015

Painted XLII Marks the Colosseum

Pretty exciting discovery from the team working on the Colosseum:

Colosseo, sulle arcate riaffiorano bagliori di rosso, la direttrice Rea "Quei numeri colorati, scoperta eccezionale" - Repubblica.it

They were cleaning the monument and this revealed traces of color; red paint was used to mark the numbers above the arches, indicating different sectors of the arena. They seem to believe that different colours were used to indicated different sections used by different classes.

Loebs and Ancient Sources ...

I've been sharing some of my DropBox folders on Twitter, and this is worth sharing more widely: ancient sources quoted by some books are a bit more interpretation than literal quotation, so it is worth going to the original text, eg the Loeb bilingual editions.

My file is here - https://www.dropbox.com/sh/popbs2wt0vmvgy4/AAAMPpgsFG3oMy4t1f7-mTt3a?dl=0 - and at the moment is just a mirror of Ryan Baumann's Loebulus, which is in turn based on Edwin Donnelly's “Downloebables” .... I'm slowly adding more as I clear out and back up various hardrives.

1.20.2015

A Beautiful Sculpture from the Ancient Greek Diaspora

Nice reminder of how beautiful the (now all too rare) Archaic architectural sculpture was. This was found at Apollonia Pontica, a Greek colony off Bulgaria. An inscription links the 6th century BC temple to Apollo himself, the eponymous protector of the city:
Archaeologists Investigate Ancient Greek Temenos on Black Sea Island | Popular Archaeology

Today In 225: Gordian III Born





If you enjoyed this video by Adrian Murdoch, check out his book on The Emperors of Rome; Kindle UK, Kindle US, etc

Today in 1961: Senator Kennedy Became President

... and Mrs Kennedy moved into the White House, which she re-decorated.


1.19.2015

CSI: Amphipolis - Murder

One body had old injuries that had healed, the other had so many stab marks on the bones - which went through skin, flesh, muscle and are pretty hard to do with a knife - so there is no doubt in my mind that the younger man was assassinated.


UPDATED Amphipolis: The Bones ... Murder!

Υπουργείο Πολιτισμού και Αθλητισμού - Μελέτη Σκελετικών Καταλοίπων Ταφικού Μνημείου, Λόφου Καστά, Αμφίπολη:
"The bodies of those buried have been distinguished: In a woman (person 1), two middle aged men (people 2 and 3) and a newborn person (4 person)."
The woman in the cist grave, around which the others seem to have been buried, was over 60; Olympias was born circa 370 BC and died in 316, so the maths is wrong for her.

The two men were in their later 30s or earlier 40s, and the younger of the two shows signs of several sharp blows - possibly injuries, more likely murder by stabbing. The older, taller man has an old wrist fracture that has heeled. Interestingly "both men have degenerative osteoarthritis and spondylitis lesions in different parts of their skeletons." - this suggests they could have been related as these are genetic issues.

In addition as Edson noted in his article The Tomb of Olympias, inscriptions show she was buried at Pydna; so Amphipolis could not have been built pre the Battle of Pydna around her earlier tomb there ... you can download the article here.

There are also animal bones (those of the 550 which are not the human 157?) including horses, which further supports the idea of a Macedonian royal burial - way back when everyone was poo-pooing Amphipolis, I asked if there were horse bones or equipment by the entrance, as to me that was a key indicator. 

The skeletons are fragmentary, so we might be missing people, but this many figures is unusual; family mausolea were not the norm at the time.

Philip III Arrhidaeus was murdered and is the right age for one of the men. We know that he died in 317 BC, but was later honourably buried with his wife Eurydice II Adea, whose suicide had been forced and her mother Cynane: Diodorus 19. 52; Athenaeus 4. 41.

Whilst I can't find a source that mentions Adea having a baby, a newborn son could well have been the issue that forced Olympias' hand, and led him to murder them all. Cynane died in 323 and is too young to be the woman buried in the cist grave; her mother Audata vanishes from the records after Philip II, and is assumed to have died but need not have. (Obviously this is just a guess!)

The bottom line is not just any noble could have built this sort of tomb, and the Argead Dynasty had strong ties to Amphipolis for centuries - Alexander I famously defeated the Persians there.

Hephaestion died not stabbed at 32, so has to be excluded. 

Update - the reason I left to Philip III and Eurydice II is that near Amphipolis is where they were kept hostage and probably killed. 

Everything I have seen fits a tomb built the period of Alexander and soon after, but the cremated bodies could have been added later. Cassander honourably buried them, and he married Alexander's half-sister Thessaloniki after Pydna to cement his claim to the throne ... so yes the making a point of honourably burying is odd, but so were the politics of the day!

The uncremated 60+ woman could be the tomb of an "ancestor" such as Deianira from whose child with Heracles the Argeads claimed descent, or another early royal - don't forget the earlier Macedonians were Persian vassals, and practiced certain rituals that differed from other Greek states.

A cremated fifth body is in such a poor state the sex could not be determined, and if it was a woman, Eurydice is a candidate but if she is a separate death then she'd be Cynane.

CORRECTION as he rightly pointed out, I was using an old book and forgot the new source showing Olympias murdered them (Cassander killed Roxane and Alexander IV at the Amphipolis fortress):




UPDATE: also, I sometimes state the conclusion and forget to explain the thought process ... "Aegae" in the sources is possibly two later writers making a mistake / misinterpretation of a lost source that describes a "royal cemetery" or "mausoleum" and an assumption made it was the traditional one at Vergina etc. Ancient sources can be wrong which is why we tend to trust more contemporary inscriptions more ... Athenaeus was around AD 200 and gathered interesting titbits; and Diodorus was Augustan.