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.

1.18.2015

Amphipolis Bones: News Soon

I thought the press conference was scheduled for the 20th, but some on Twitter are saying the results will be released today. This was the previous press release from December is below, and the new one will be here.

Just a quick re-cap: the tomb was constructed at the time of Alexander the Great, and possibly / probably construction continued after his death.

The body found inside seems to have neither been cremated nor mummified; earlier suggestions from the archaeologists suggest that it predates the main body of the tomb. We know that after the Persian Wars Cimon went to find the bones of Theseus so that they could be buried in a shrine to him (probably on the hill over the Agora, the so-called Hephaisteion); whether he took them from a long-known 'tomb' of Theseus or they were random old bones is of course open to question. Alexander adores Achilles, but his tomb is elsewhere in later sources, so we need to look for a suitable hero or ancestor that was thus honoured, and my best guess would be Alexander I who defeated the Persians at Amphipolis and was the first Macedonian king to take part in the Olympics ... but obviously that is just an "educated guess"!

The Source of Papyri ...

Mummy Mask May Reveal Oldest Known Gospel:
Evans told Live Science, "We're not talking about the destruction of any museum-quality piece."

 Oh yes they are! And here's the proof they themselves provided:


And as I noted before, I am confused how fragments of the same old Mark are supposedly coming out of a "legally acquired" cartonnage in Texas AND via a dealer in Istanbul selling on eBay ...

How To Tell a Fake 101


It's a very pretty ring, and when I was in Paris someone Tweeted a photo of this Greek 2nd Century BC ring in the Benaki, and trying to stay positive I RTed it. Almost immediately I thought "no!" ... I undid the RT and made a passing remark that it was interesting that the ancient Greek creator had knowledge of the work of Michelangelo.

Recent events have made me realise too few people spend enough time with originals, and so I thought it might be worth taking the time the explain my thought process.

NSFW ---> PLEASE NOTE I HAVE ADDED A BREAK HERE AS THESE IMAGES OF ANCIENT ART ARE NOT SAFE FOR WORK