Continuing the general series on Roman India, this piece from DailyIndia.com about more recent discoveries. Digs still seem centred around Muziris, and the archaeologists are starting to build up quite a serious picture:
What began as exploratory studies in Kerala, has thrown up enough artefacts and structures of two millennia old Indo-Roman trade era to delight archaeologists, who are looking for the lost port of Muziris.
Archaeological teams in Pattanam village, near the port city of Kochi have been working on a site, which has yielded pottery, amphora, beads and other artefacts that are reminiscent of the ancient Romans.
"The initial studies carried out in this region have amply indicated that there was a Roman presence. The Roman ceramics, pottery and coins found here indicates deeper Roman ties and therefore, based on the artefacts abounding this area, we presented a proposal to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) which got approved," said the Director of the Kerala Council for Historical Research, P J Cherian,
Cherian has been heading a study that has been a parallel exercise to the excavation and conservation being carried out under his guidance.
"The most exciting thing we have excavated today is a human remains. In our climatic conditions and soil acidity, it is hard to expect these kinds of remains to stay intact. So, now we will send these identified human remains to the laboratory for further analysis," added Cherian.
Historians believe the lost port of Muziris was key to trade between India and the Roman Empire. For many years, people have been in search of the almost mythical port, known as Vanchi to the locals.
Pattanam is the only site in the region to produce architectural features and material contemporary to the period.
Speculations and guesses for the location of Muziris had initially hinted on the mouth of the State's Periyar River, at a place called Kodungallor - but now evidence suggests a smaller town nearby, Pattanam, is the real location.
Many pieces of amphora were found, at the now excavated site, which is a Mediterranean pottery.
The ancient town was an exchange point according to scriptures. The Romans brought in gold and took back the region's aromatic spices, including 'black gold'- pepper.
In 1983, a large hoard of Roman coins was found at a site around six miles from Pattanam.
However, even if Muziris has been found, one mystery remains - how it disappeared so completely in the first place.
While archaeologists and scholars celebrate, the owners of the piece of land are worried about their rights to the place.
"A few archaeologists came to us and asked permission to carry out excavations on our land. They said that they wanted to do some research on the place. They began digging deep and found artefacts and now that it is an archaeological site, we wonder what will happen to our land," said Valsala Kumari, who hoped to get back her land.
With the site now being marked as an Archaeological treasure, Kumari and her family say, they never knew the place would throw up so much of the unknown.
Couple of posts that have caught my eye over the last week or so. First up, a blog that looks an interesting read. Current Epigraphy - does exactly what it says on the label.
I have been meaning to link to Studenda Mira for a while. Consistently worth a look. This week alone a heads up about a book on the division between public and private expressions of Late Antique Christianity and a link to an essay on the fifth century invasions.
David Derrick ponders historical novels.
How would students today evaluate Socrates as a professor? Thomas Cushman at the Chronicle of Higher Education ponders the question:
This class on philosophy was really good, Professor Socrates is sooooo smart, I want to be just like him when I graduate (except not so short). I was amazed at how he could take just about any argument and prove it wrong.
I would advise him, though, that he doesn't know everything, and one time he even said in class that the wise man is someone who knows that he knows little (Prof. Socrates, how about that sexist language!?). I don't think he even realizes at times that he contradicts himself. But I see that he is just eager to share his vast knowledge with us, so I really think it is more a sin of enthusiasm than anything else.
I liked most of the meetings, except when Thrasymachus came. He was completely arrogant, and I really resented his male rage and his point of view. I guess I kind of liked him, though, because he stood up to Prof. Socrates, but I think he is against peace and justice and has no place in the modern university.
Also, the course could use more women (hint: Prof. Socrates, maybe next time you could have your wife Xanthippe come in and we can ask questions about your home life! Does she resent the fact that you spend so much time with your students?). All in all, though, I highly recommend both the course and the instructor.
A lovely piece in the Times by Natalie Hayes reacting to the shock news that a GCSE in Latin is harder to attain than one in PE or textiles:
Language papers are already easy, often to the point of being boring. I hated learning French, and gave it up as soon as I could — not because it was difficult, but because it was achingly tedious. Why would anyone want to spend 40 minutes trying to explain their Saturday job, or what they did at the weekend, to a bored Swiss teaching assistant who had a tangible hangover and indefensible shoes? I ran straight into the welcoming folds of A-level Latin and Greek, where I was reasonably certain to be reading about people killing their mothers (Electra), embarking on an elephantine alpine excursion (Livy XXI) or committing big, messy suicide (all classical literature).
Constantine Porphyrogenitus’ De Ceremoniis has only intermittently been translated. Section 2.42 concerns the tombs of the emperors which were buried in the Church of the Holy Apostles. A translation has been published before, Glanville Downey, “The Tombs of the Byzantine Emperors at the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople,” JHS 79 (1959), 27-51. This is a lighted edited version based on his text (p30-32) and translation (p32-34).
Heroon of the Holy and Great Constantine
1. In the main building, to the east, lies the sarcophagus of St Constantine, [made of] porphyry, or rather ‘Roman’ [stone], in which he himself lies with the blessed Helen his mother.
2. Another sarcophagus, [of] porphyry Roman [stone], in which lies Constantius [II], the son of Constantine the Great.
3. Another sarcophagus, porphyry Roman, in which lies Theodosius the Great.
4. Another sarcophagus, green hieracites, in which lies Leo the Great.
5. Another sarcophagus, porphyry Roman, in which lies Marcian with his wife Pulcheria.
6. Another sarcophagus, green Thessalian, in which lies the Emperor Zeno.
7. Another sarcophagus, Aquitanian, in which lies Anastasius Dikoros with Ariadne his wife.
8. Another sarcophagus, of green Thessalian stone, in which lies the Emperor Michael, the son of Theophilos. Note that this sarcophagus of Michael is that of the Emperor Justin the Great. It lay in the monastery of the Augusta, below the Apostle St Thomas, in which the robes of the apostles were found. And Lord Leo the Emperor took it and placed it here for the burial of the body of this Michael.
9. Another sarcophagus, green Thessalian, in which lies Basil with Eudokia and Alexander his son.
10. Another sarcophagus, Sagarian or pneumonousian, in which lies the renowned Leo with his son Constantine, who died later, the Porphyrogennetos.
11. Another sarcophagus, [of] white, so-called imperial, [stone], in which lies Constantine the son of Basil.
12. Another sarcophagus, green Thessalian, in which lies St Theophano, the first wife of the blessed Leo, with Eudokia her daughter.
13. Another sarcophagus, Bithynian, in which lies Zoe the second wife of the same Leo.
14. Another sarcophagus, green Thessalian, in which lies Eudokia the third wife of the same Lord Leo, she who was surnamed Baine.
15. Another sarcophagus, Proconesian, in which lie Anna and Anna the daughters of the blessed Leo and Zoe.
16. Another small sarcophagus, Sagarian or pneumonousian, in which lies Basil the brother of Constantine Porphyrogennetos, and Bardas the son of Basil his grandfather.
17. Another small sarcophagus, of Sagarian stone, in which lies. . .
Heroon of the Great Justinian
18. At the apse itself, to the east, is the first sarcophagus, in which lies the body of Justinian, of unusual foreign stone, in colour between Bithynian and Chalcedonian, something like stone of Ostrite.
19. Another sarcophagus, of Hierapolitan stone, in which lies Theodora the wife of Justinian the Great.
20. Another sarcophagus lying to the west, on the right hand, of stone of Dokimion, of variegated rose colour, in which lies Eudokia the wife of Justinian the Younger.
21. Another sarcophagus, of white Proconesian stone, in which lies Justin the Younger.
22. Another sarcophagus, of Proconesian stone, in which lies Sophia the wife of Justin.
23. Another sarcophagus, of white stone of Dokimion, onyx, in which lies Heraclius the Great.
24. Another sarcophagus, green Thessalian, in which lies Fabia the wife of Heraclius.
25. Another sarcophagus, Proconesian, of Constantine Pogonatos.
26. Another sarcophagus, of green Thessalian stone, in which lies Fausta the wife of Constantine Pogonatos.
27. Another sarcophagus, Sagarian, in which lies Constantine, the descendant of Heraclius, the son of Constantine Pogonatos.
28. Another sarcophagus, of variegated Sagarian stone, in which lies Anastasius also called Artemios.
29. Another sarcophagus, of Hierapolitan stone, in which lies the wife of Anastasios also called Artemios.
30. Another sarcophagus, of Proconesian stone, in which lies Leo the Isaurian.
31. Another sarcophagus, of green Thessalian stone, in which lay Constantine, the son of the Isaurian, who was surnamed Kaballinos; but he was cast out by Michael and Theodora, and his cursed body was burned. Likewise his sarcophagus was cast out and broken up, and served for the foundations of the Pharos. And the great blocks which are in the Pharos belonged to this sarcophagus.
32. Another sarcophagus, of Proconesian stone, in which lies Eirene the wife of Constantine Kaballinos.
33. Another sarcophagus, green Thessalian, in which lies the wife of Kaballinos.
34. A small coffin of Proconesian stones, in which lie Kosmo and Eirene, sisters of Kaballinos.
35. Another sarcophagus, Proconesian, in which lies Leo the Chazar, son of Constantine Kaballinos.
36. Another sarcophagus, of Proconesian stone, in which lies Eirene the wife of Leo the Chazar.
37. Another sarcophagus, green Thessalian, in which lies Michael Travlos.
38. Another sarcophagus, of Sagarian stone, in which lies Thekla the wife of Michael Travlos.
39. Another sarcophagus, of green stone, in which lies Theophilos the Emperor.
40. Another small sarcophagus, green, in which lies Constantine the son of Theophilos.
41. Another small sarcophagus, of Sagarian stone, in which lies Maria the daughter of Theophilos.
The Stoa to the South of the Same Church
42. In this lie the sarcophagi of Arcadius, Theodosius [II], his son, and Eudoxia his mother. The tomb of Arcadius is to the south, that of Theodosius to the north, that of Eudoxia to the east, each of the two porphyry or Roman.
The Stoa to the North of the Same Church
43. In this stoa, which is to the north, lies a cylindrically-shaped sarcophagus, in which lies the cursed and wretched body of the apostate Julian, porphyry or Roman in colour.
44. Another sarcophagus, porphyry, or Roman, in which lies the body of Jovian, who ruled after Julian.
A fun piece in the Guardian today - an A-Z of Greek history told via Hollywood.
Homer's tale of the Trojan war. Its climax is the death of Hector at the hands of Achilles, not the strategem of the Trojan horse and the fall of Troy. This led to Homer being dropped as a scriptwriter by Warner Bros for Helen of Troy (1955) - which, with its lavish sets, beautiful but statuesque leads Rossana Podesta and Jack Sernas, and direction by Robert Wise (who later directed The Sound of Music), should really have been a musical. Okla-Homer.
Though I also liked:
Largely absent from movies thus far. We eagerly await Oliver Stone's take on The Symposium.
Google Books has been scanning PG and PL for a while now. I confess that I had found the process of searching for them incredibly confusing. Although trial and error still seems to be the best method, Roger Pearse explains how to do so. A minor warning is that the files are pretty huge. Theophanes comes in at 82 MB.
Duller than coverage of Britney Spears in the tabloids and slower than a referral for a hip replacement on the NHS, the tale of the UNESCO nomination of the Antonine Wall staggers on. Questions were asked in the Pretend-y Parliament a couple of weeks back:
Cathy Peattie (Falkirk East) (Lab): To ask the Scottish Executive what the next steps will be now that the Antonine Wall has been nominated as part of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site.
Patricia Ferguson: A decision on whether to accept the nomination of the Antonine Wall will be taken by the World Heritage Committee, a United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO) committee, in summer 2008. The nomination, including an associated management plan for the site, will be evaluated before this date. The documentation will be checked by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre in Paris before detailed examination is carried out by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), the body with the formal role of advising UNESCO on potential cultural World Heritage Sites.
The outstanding universal values of the proposed site as well as its authenticity and integrity will be assessed by an ICOMOS evaluator, who will visit the site in summer 2007. Checks will also be made to ensure that the necessary protection and management structures are in place. If ICOMOS requires further information this must be requested from the UK government by 31 January 2008. The UK government will then have until 31 March 2008 to submit further information for consideration. Once ICOMOS have made their evaluation, the UK government will have one final opportunity to highlight any factual errors in the evaluation before the World Heritage Committee makes its decision on the nomination at its meeting in July 2008.
In preparation for the ICOMOS site visit and the subsequent management of the site, Historic Scotland, the relevant agency within the Scottish Executive, is coordinating the establishment of a management group for the site involving key stakeholders.
Copies of the Antonine Wall Nomination Document and Management Plan (Bib. number 41888) have been placed in the Scottish Parliament Information Centre.