Antiquity: Books, Money, Death, Graffiti

While I will probably not be teaching humanities for a while now, topics related to it still catch my attention. Partially that’s because I was already interested in all those things, which is why I graciously (one might even say graspingly) accepted a second start Humanities class this spring. I’m going to keep posting them here because, if I ever want them again, I’ll know where to find them!

I expect to want them, too; my present chair said he is sure I will be “breaking into” humanities at my new college much more swiftly than they would expect. He’s sure I’ll be in the middle of everything anywhere I go. (Does that mean I’ve been in the middle of everything here? Why, yes, it probably does. 🙂 )

Jordan Wants to Regain Christian Relics:

A group of 70 or so “books”, each with between five and 15 lead leaves bound by lead rings, was apparently discovered in a remote arid valley in northern Jordan somewhere between 2005 and 2007.

“They will really match, and perhaps be more significant than, the Dead Sea Scrolls,” says Mr Saad.

“Maybe it will lead to further interpretation and authenticity checks of the material, but the initial information is very encouraging, and it seems that we are looking at a very important and significant discovery, maybe the most important discovery in the history of archaeology.”

Significant Medieval Treasure Found in Austria:

Austria’s BDA, in charge of national antiquities, said the treasure trove, found in the vicinity of Wiener Neustadt, consists of more than 200 rings, brooches, ornate belt buckles, gold-plated silver dishes and other pieces or fragments, many encrusted with pearls, fossilized coral and other ornaments. It says the objects are about 650 years old and are being evaluated for their provenance and worth.

According to to the BDA, the man was digging to enlarge a small pond in his back garden when he found the buried treasure in 2007 consisting of 153 pieces of jewellery and 75 other precious objects and fragments.

Infanticide Common in the Roman Empire:

Infanticide, the killing of unwanted babies, was common throughout the Roman Empire and other parts of the ancient world, according to a new study.

The study, which has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Archaeological Science, explains that “until recently, (infanticide) was a practice that was widely tolerated in human societies around the world. Prior to modern methods of contraception, it was one of the few ways of limiting family size that was both safe for the mother and effective.”

Based on archaeological finds, the practice appears to have been particularly widespread in the Roman Empire.

Titas Wuz Here is a great article in the Boston Globe about ancient graffiti.

It seems less likely that you’ll recall the anonymous Athenian who, some 1,500 years ago, snuck out in the middle of the night to inform the world that a certain Sydromachos had a backside “as big as a cistern.” Likewise, the fact that someone named Titas was “a lewd fellow” will almost certainly have passed you by.

As for the pictures in the clomping textbooks of old, these would have consisted of grainy busts and urns, not boomerang-shaped penises or disembodied testicles. But times have changed, and there they are, on page 94 of “Ancient Graffiti in Context”: the free-floating genitalia of Hymettos, carved into the rocks there by someone with time on his hands and a loose grasp of human anatomy.

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