A thoughtful piece in the Irish Echo by Peter McDermott who complains about Mayor Bill de Blasio's attempts to rid Manhattan of horses and references the Battle of Teutoburg Forest. He also says some nice things about book:
The animals (including mules, whose presence was confirmed at the archeological site at Kalkiese) may seem incidental to the story of Rome’s humiliation in 9 AD, but they are a reminder that Western civilization was built thanks in great measure to horse power.
The image of the Native American warrior on horseback may be imprinted upon our consciousness, but it was the very lack of horses prior to the advent of the Europeans that can help explain why the indigenous peoples were so easily overcome. Anybody could have invented the wheel, but it was the use of the draft animal that made possible the huge leaps forward in technology in Europe.
Until just a few generations ago, horses moved the great cities of the world. They pulled barges, for instance, and later buses, and more recently made possible the mass delivery of milk to homes.
Now these remarkably adaptable creatures, having brought us this far, are expected to exit stage left from New York City history altogether and go live in some fantasy rural paddock.
There is a good piece in tomorrow's Guardian about the authenticity of the Warren Cup in the British Museum:
On Wednesday, 15 years after the British Museum bought the Warren cup for £1.8m, it was denounced by a highly respected German archaeologist as a forgery.
At a public debate staged by King's College London, Prof Luca Giuliani challenged the museum's view that it dates from the 1st century AD and the reign of the emperor Nero.
The professor of classical archaeology at Humboldt University in Berlin dismissed it as a creation of the early 20th century, arguing that such explicit imagery is unprecedented in Roman silverware. He suggested instead that the cup was designed for the pleasure of its former owner – a wealthy American gay man, Edward Perry Warren, who bought it in Rome in 1911, and who also acquired other "counterfeit" pieces, he said.
The full piece is here. I have long been a fan of the cup - I wrote about it back in 2006 and, of course, it was famously one of Neil MacGregor's 100 Objects.
A conversation with the irritatingly brilliant Armand D'Angour a couple of weeks ago put me on the right path, though I uncharitably damned him at the time for spoiling my illusions.
It has long been regarded as a fake/forgery.
Anyone else who still thinks it might be Roman should rush to a library and get hold of MT Marabini Moevs' "Per una storia del gusto: riconsiderazioni sul Calice Warren," Italy Ministero Per I Beni Culturali E Ambientali Bollettino Darte 146 (2008), pp. 1-16. An extract can be read here. More background on Edward Perry Warren in this 2012 doctoral thesis here.
UPDATE The story is also covered in the Daily Mail this morning
After much research in beer books, brainstorming, and deliberation, we came up with "Pliny the Elder". Pliny, the man, lived in the first century- 23 to 79 A.D. According to our brewing references, he and his contemporaries either created the botanical name or at least wrote about Lupus Salictarius, or hops, currently known as Humulus Lupulus. That was a very early reference to an important part of any Double IPA! Pliny the beer has now become one of our flagship brews!
Thanks to MB for the heads up. And by the way, on a similarly ABV-ish theme, it is worth having a look at his blog post - pretty convincing - Was Hadrian's Wall Awash with Beer. Read it here.
To add some critical balance to yesterday's post about Arminius beer, here is the counter for those who prefer their pint more imperial, more Roman. It is the Caesar Augustus IPA from William Bros Brewing Comany in Alloa. And it is highly recommended too.
If you go to Park Kalkriese in Germany, you can buy an Arminius beer, but as far as I know, this is the first time a US brewer has decided to make one. The August Schell Brewing company in New Ulm, home to the other Hermannsdenkmal, is about to bring one to market:
A radical departure from Schell’s signature lagers, Arminius is distinctly hoppy with a fruity, floral aroma. The beer does not, however, depart from Schell’s rare ability to marry tradition and innovation. Combining the hop profile of west-coast American IPA’s with traditional German brewing techniques, Arminius will be double dry hopped and brewed with over 2.5 pounds of hops per barrel.
Today's Herald has a brief note confirming that the long-planned merger between Historic Scotland and RCAHMS will go ahead:
Two of Scotland's main heritage bodies are to merge, it has been confirmed.
The Scottish Government published a strategy document for the "historic environment" yesterday as Fiona Hyslop, the culture secretary, launched a Bill to address the management of the nation's built heritage.
The Historic Environment Scotland Bill will bring together Historic Scotland and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS).
The new body will be called Historic Environment Scotland (HES).
The organisation will "be expected to play a key role in delivering the strategy, developed in partnership with stakeholders" which include the Built Environment Forum Scotland, the National Trust for Scotland, the Society of Antiquaries, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and others.
First, to set up the new organisation which has been dubbed Historic Environment Scotland, it is going to cost the taxpayer just over GBP5m. Given the Scottish government's track record with overly generous cost estimates, this this likely to be at the lower end of what this is going to cost in the end. Expect at least GBP10m.
Second, the savings that the merger of the two organisations will make appear to be based on firing people and by cutting terms and conditions, like provision of overtime. The financial notes - always the best place to start - trumpet savings of GBP16.29m between 2013/14 and 2020/25, though 96% of that will be saved by getting rid of people over the next four years.
And third, for a bill that will change the heritage landscape of Scotland, it is curious that there is no mention of it on the websites of either Historic Scotland or the culture secretary.
UPDATE Lunchtime 5/3/14. A press release has finally been put up on the Historic Scotland website. You can read it here. Still nothing on Fiona Hyslop's website.
In the late 20th century, a British prime minister looked at her country, saw that it was in decline and set out to reverse that decline; her name was Margaret Thatcher. In the mid-fourth century a Roman emperor looked at the Roman Empire and saw that it was in decline and set out to reverse that decline: his name was Julian the Apostate.
Hmm. I am not convinced that the analogy is that close. Julian was hardly the first emperor to try and reverse the decline that he saw in Rome (Decius perhaps?), nor is it especially accurate to claim that he is "the only noteworthy emperor in the fourth century after Constantine". Theodosius anyone? But it is worth a read.
Douglas Boin in the New York Times has an op-ed piece this morning talking about papyrus, provenance and looting. The Sappho story has died down in recent weeks, but remains important. As Boin notes:
In eagerness to add lines of Sappho to the canon, they noted, the community had sidestepped potentially uncomfortable questions about their acquisition. Even if the Sappho papyrus has a perfectly legal history, indifference to the provenance of a cultural treasure has sent tacit and dangerous encouragement to traffickers of looted artifacts.
Obbink's continued silence remains as concerning as it did at the end of January. Read the full article here. See my last post on Sappho here.
A very kind interview by Hamish Hutchinson about Emperors of Rome, my book on the seventy-eight Roman emperors who ruled in the West, from Augustus to Romulus Augustulus:
Murdoch told the Advertiser, “If you’ve ever done history at school it focuses on the impact on society and you forget about the people involved. Everybody does Augustus and knows who Caligula is and at university they do term-sized chunks but you never do how you get from A to B to C. I wanted to get an idea of the men behind the throne.”
His idea to humanise the figures leads to some surprisingly odd revelations – among them, the hair facts.
Adrian went on, “Lucius Verus was so vain that he put highlights – gold dust – in his hair. He didn’t want anyone to think he was going grey. A lot of emperors were very touchy when they started going bald. They went out their way to stop statues showing their balding heads – that’s why Julius Caesar would be posed with a head wreath.