The Amphipolis Tomb

An enormous tomb is currently under excavation at Amfipoli, Greece. It’s been all over the news, so you may have read about it already. But if not, here’s a website that collects information about the ongoing work:

The Amphipolis Tomb

Current thinking dates the complex to the Hellenistic period, just after Alexander (ca. end of the fourth century BC). But much remains unknown and conclusions, at present, are tentative.


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The Digital Loeb Classical Library

The Loeb Classical Library – whose little green and red volumes contain between them nearly the entire corpus of classical Greek and Latin literature (with facing English translations) – is going digital this fall. From the website:

“…the introduction of the digital Loeb Classical Library presents an interconnected, fully searchable, perpetually growing, virtual library of all that is important in Greek and Latin literature. Epic and lyric poetry; tragedy and comedy; history, philosophy, and oratory; the great medical writers and mathematicians; those Church fathers who made particular use of the Classics—in short, our entire Greek and Latin Classical heritage is represented here with up-to-date texts and accurate and literate English translations. 523 volumes of fully searchable Latin, Greek, and English texts are available in a modern and elegant interface, allowing readers to browse, search, bookmark, annotate, and share content with ease.”

Take a look at the announcement on the HUP site.

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Save the Archives – Preserving Greek Migration History

In the mid-20th century, thousands of Greeks immigrated to the US, Australia, Canada and elsewhere, mainly as a result of WWII, the Greek civil war, and the socio-economic disruption that these wars caused. A new initiative, Save the Archives, seeks to digitize and preserve some 200,000 immigration entry documents connected to this wave of Greek immigration. The documents are currently stored at the International Organization for Migration offices in Athens. They sit in a basement, rotting away, and soon they might be thrown away altogether. Save the Archives is seeking to raise 25,000 euros to digitize and preserve these important records. Take a look at the project here.

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Mapping the Jewish Communities of the Byzantine Empire

Scholars at Cambridge are busy mapping the Jewish communities of the Byzantine Empire, which is no easy task. The evidence is fragmentary and quite dispersed. Here’s an overview of the the project from their website:

“The aim of the project is to map the Jewish presence in the Byzantine empire using GIS (Geographical Information Systems). All information (published and unpublished) about the Jewish communities will be gathered and collated. The data will be incorporated in a GIS which will be made freely available to the general public on the world-wide-web. Researchers and members of the public will be able to create maps according to their own specifications.

Chronologically, the project will begin in 650. This is soon after the Arab conquest of Egypt, Palestine and Syria when these regions, with their substantial Jewish populations, were permanently separated from the Byzantine empire. The end-date is fixed by the arrival in the region of large numbers of Jewish immigrants from Spain in 1492. Geographically, the core areas of Asia Minor, the southern Balkans and the adjacent islands including Crete and Cyprus will be included for the entirety of the period, Byzantine Italy however, will only be covered down to the Norman conquest. Some smaller territories that were only briefly under Byzantine rule may be excluded.”

The GIS initiative is now live and can be accessed here. The amount of information they’ve assembled is really impressive. The interface is easy to use, and you can save your search results. The site contains a large bibliography, too (close to comprehensive, I’d imagine).

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Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World for iPad

If you like maps of antiquity, you know that the Barrington Atlas is the Gold Standard. And the weighty tome has now been converted into an app for the iPad. From the website:

“In 102 interactive color maps, this app re-creates the entire world of the Greeks and Romans from the British Isles to the Indian subcontinent and deep into North Africa. Unrivaled for range, clarity, and detail, these custom-designed maps return the modern landscape to its ancient appearance, marking ancient names and features in accordance with modern scholarship and archaeological discoveries. Geographically, the maps span the territory of more than seventy-five modern countries. Chronologically, they extend from archaic Greece to the Late Roman Empire.”

If I owned an iPad, I’d buy this, because it’d be a wonderful convenience to have it. But I don’t. But maybe you do. So I wrote this post.

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An Island Settlement in Late Antiquity: Boğsak

This morning I came across an interesting blog post (via Bill Caraher) about a late antique island settlement off the coast of southern Turkey, Boğsak Island. The post summarizes a lecture given by Dr. Günder Varınlıoğlu at King’s College, London, who directs the Boğsak Archaeological Survey. One of the (perhaps) interesting facets of settlement patterns in Late Antiquity is the proliferation of sites on small and sometimes quite barren islands (without, e.g., water supplies). Tim Gregory has studied this phenomenon in some detail in Greece in the Corinthian and Saronic Gulfs. At one time, these settlements (in Greece at least) were thought to be “isles of refuge,” places where really scared inhabitants of the mainland went when equally scary barbarians showed up to do terrible things to their homes and families. But Gregory’s work debunked much of this, and he demonstrated (among other things) that the material remains on these islands were of a more permanent nature and that many were inhabited over long periods of time (rather than a narrow window at the end of antiquity). Thus, the islands were settled for reasons beyond simple “refuge” from barbarian invasions, despite a lack of natural resources. And while the island inhabitants would certainly have relied on the nearby mainland for many of their provisions, they were also integrated into regional and long-distance trade networks. But why these islands were settled in the first place–their overall function within the settlement hierarchy and economy–remains unclear. Boğsak fits this model, and you can read all about it here.

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The Hamemati of Syria

The Syrian refugee crisis is now one of the most pressing ongoing humanitarian issues in the world. Some two million Syrians have fled the country, and another four million have been displaced internally. Refugee communities are now concentrated in Jordan (ca. 550,000), Lebanon (ca. 800,000), Turkey (500,000), and Iraq (ca. 200,000), where they live in official camps established by the host country or in makeshift camps.

Some of these Syrians are hamemati, pigeon collectors, and they have continued to collect pigeons while in exile. Some hamemati have even taken their Syrian birds into exile with them. It’s a small but important part of Syrian culture for these refugees.

From the NYT:

“Syria’s pigeon collectors, hamemati as they are known back home, are among the most ardent in the Arab world. They do not breed or race them. They will trade and sell them, but mostly they just keep them as treasured pets. So it comes as little surprise that some have gone to great lengths to pursue their hobby in exile, especially since no one expects Syria’s two-and-a-half-year civil war to end anytime soon.

A coop atop a trailer in a refugee camp; a flock of pigeons circling above a building in a neighborhood with Syrian newcomers. These are the telltale signs of the hamemati in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, the nations with the most Syrian refugees. Even if the collectors have not managed to resume their hobby yet, any Syrian will immediately identify the local hamemati, who often gather together and endlessly swap pigeon stories.”

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