Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Exhibits ending and beginning

If you were in Rome on November 20 you might have seen the Ara Pacis brilliantly lit up in its original colors by a fancy projection system. [ANSA]

If you're in Rome between now and December 13, you still have time to catch the exhibit Etruschi e Fenici sul mare: da Pyrgi a Cartagine ("Etruscans and Phoenicians at sea: from Pyrgi to Carthage") at the Vittoriano. [via Archaeogate; Provincia di Roma]

If you time it right, you can then head up to Bologna for the opening on December 12 of the exhibit Cavalieri etruschi dalle Valli al Po: Tra Reno e Panaro, la valle del Samoggia nell’VIII e VII sec.a.C. ("Etruscan horsemen from the Vales to the Po: Between Reno and Panaro, the Valle del Samoggia in the 8th and 7th c. BCE"), which runs until April 5, 2010. [photo above; via Archaeogate; press release; exhibit page]

And another if: the Museo delle navi antiche di Pisa might partially open to the public in April 2010. [via Storia Romana].

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Don't Eat That, Elmer, That's Horse [Finch]!

There's been some controversy about a free distribution of On the Origin of Species with a "special" introduction; in any case, I gladly note the existence of a counterpoint group, "Don't Diss Darwin," with the tongue–in–cheek motto "noli fringillidas edere!" I had to look up the middle word, which as it turns out is the scientific Latin term for the family of finches, of course. The Classical form on which it's based is fringilla, -ae which the OLD tells me means "a song-bird, perhaps the chaffinch," attested in Varro and Festus (usually a bad sign), and Martial in a form fringillus, cf. Greek φρυγίλος. This latter occurs once in Classical Greek—where else?—the Birds of Aristophanes, 763, where it gets trotted out for a pun with Φρὺξ.

For what it's worth, there was a Cistercian monastery of S. Angelo in Fringillis (or Frigido) founded in Calabria in 1220, as well as a Fringilla: some tales in verse of 1895 by
Richard Doddridge Blackmore (famous today for his novel Lorna Doone), with the doddgy lines quorsum haec? non potui qualem / Philomela querelam; sed / fringilla velut pipitabunda vagor adorning the frontispiece. The illustrations are passerable, but the verse, oh, the verse! The one snippet ought to be enough; the rest is available freely at Google Books:
God is with us ; He shall speed us ;
Or (if this vile crew impede us)
Let some light into their brain,
By the sword of Tubal Cain.
-Lita of the Nile, Part I, XII

All that said, Wikipedia informs me that Darwin's finches are now placed in the tanager family of Thraupidae rather than the true finch family, Fringillidae. θραυπίς occurs only in Aristotle History of Animals 592b30 and refers to a small bird. Such is the nature of scientific Latin. So noli fringillas edere, noli thraupidas edere, noli θραυπίδας edere, as you like.

Heroes and villains, dogs and goats

The Museo Civico Archeologico di Fara in Sabina [excellent website] has mounted an exhibit entitled "Un Re, un Guerriero, un Eroe | La tomba 36 della necropoli sabina di Eretum." The three-chambered Tomb 36 of the Colle del Forno necropolis, discovered in 2005, contained the burial of a Sabine potentate of the late 6th c. BCE, his ashes deposited in a wooden box draped with a gold-embroidered cloth, along with his arms, bronze cauldrons, a terracotta throne, a chariot and sacrificed horses. It's certainly worth noting here that the contents of another rich tomb of the same necropolis, Tomb XI [another excellent website], dating to the early 7th c. BCE, are currently on display in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen, having been looted in the 1970s and passed through the hands of the infamous Robert Hecht [NYTimes (16/3/2009); Looting Matters (17/3/09); Iconoclasm (18/5/09); Iconoclasm (18/10/09)].

Apropos of the previous post, a 4th-3rd c. BCE Greek necropolis was discovered in the territory of Castellaneta (Ta), unfortunately already looted [Corriere del Mezzogiorno; AGI]

Speaking of looting, SafeCorner reports on the "L'Arma per L'Arte 1969-2009" exhibit at Castel Sant'Angelo, celebrating 40 years of the Comando Carabinieri per la Tutela Patrimonio Culturale.

Cultural patrimony laws got you down? Now you can get your very own legal memento of a trip to Italy-- adopt a stray dog from Pompeii, via the "(C)Ave Canem" project [News in English; official Italian site].

....and, the mostly* gratuitous link of the day:
Extinct Goat Tried out Reptilian, Cold-Blooded Living

*(it has to do with adapting to a small Mediterranean island -- Majorca, in this case)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

'Beyond Magna Graecia' conference follow-up

This past weekend I was in Cincinnati for the Semple Symposium "Beyond Magna Graecia: New Developments in South Italian Archaeology. The Contexts of Apulian and Lucanian Pottery." Turnout was quite frankly higher than I'd been expecting, possibly somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 -- the photo below, taken Friday around midday, doesn't really do it justice. As usual, it was good to catch up with a couple of friends and meet others for the first time.

So, have new developments taken us 'beyond Magna Graecia'? There was plenty of evidence on hand for a widespread corrective necessary in this A.T. period (After Trendall), to put South Italian Red Figure back into its contexts (Trendall frequently omitted such information in his publications, even when it was certainly known). Some of Trendall's attributions were questioned, painters divided and joined, but one of the take-aways was to what an extent the field still relies on his monumental works. In any case, those contexts turn out more often than not to be non-Greek. Moving from Messapia, up to Daunia, and then back through Peucetia, the papers provided a sensitive analysis of the way Red Figure ceramics were used and produced by both non-Greek and Greek inhabitants of Apulia, responding to local needs and customs.

Ted Robinson speaks on archaeometric analysis.

The art historical element, strong in traditional Anglophone scholarship on South Italy, was present at the conference, but it was clear that no one would today dispense with the archaeological context of the artifact class in question. Ted Robinson's work on archaeometric analysis is certainly a step in the right direction, and the wider exposure of information from ongoing excavations in Italy is welcome. That the work of Italian researchers is not more widely known is a problem, and one that is only part due to the difficulty of obtaining foreign publications. I hope that the published proceedings will do their part to lead a new generation of American students to learn Italian -- honestly, if one has already learned Latin and French, it shouldn't be that difficult!

Several speakers emphasized the continued importance of Taranto, so as not to throw the baby out with the Greek bathwater. But, despite some tantalizing new data, there is still no certainly clinching evidence of Red Figure production at Taranto, at least not of the sort found at Metaponto, likely though it may be.

The conference was organized with the express intent of publishing proceedings as an up-to-date state-of-the-field in English; the last few Semple Symposia have had an average of three years from lectern to library, so look for a volume in 2012, maybe -- perfect vacation reading for the apocalypse?

Thanks to all at Cincinnati.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Magazine online: ArcheoMolise

The Centro Europeo di Ricerche Preistoriche in Isernia (Molise) is hosting the new magazine ArcheoMolise, whose issues now number three. Available here in .rar and .zip formats, which unpack into pdfs. The journal focuses on the archaeology of Molise, with forays into Colombia, and its chronological scope ranges from the Paleolithic through the present day, as can be seen from the contents:

(Aprile/Giugno 2009, No. 0 - Anno I):
- Antonella Minelli et al., 'Isernia La Pineta. Il sito preistorico alla luce delle recenti acquisizioni'
- Ettore Rufo, '40.000 anni fa a Rocchetta a Volturno. Gli artigiani neandertaliani di Grotta Reali'
- Chiara Santone, 'Il ripostiglio di Vinchiaturo. Alcune osservazioni.'
- Sandra Guglielmi & Petronilla Crocco, 'La necropoli di Ripatagliata. Studio antropologico dei resti scheletrici umani rinvenuti a Guglionesi'
- Karicla Scarcella, 'Il carnevale di Cercepiccola. Mesi, stagioni e drammi carnascialeschi'
- Michele Fratino, 'La catapulta sannitica di Casalbordino'

(Giulio/Settembre 2009, No. 1 - Anno I):
- Marta Arzarello et al., 'I bifacciali di Monteroduni. Un sito acheuleano di occupazione?'
- Michele Raddi, 'L'alta valle del Volturno. Insediamenti tardo antichi e medioevali'
- Walter Santoro, 'S. Croce di Sepino. Un Eigenkloster della valle del Moschiaturo'
- Luca D'Alessandro, 'Le maitunat' di Gambatesa. Una tradizione secolare'
- Brunella Muttillo, 'Alla riscoperta di El Dorado. La missione archeologica molisana in Colombia'
- Andrea Lonardelli, 'Il costume funerario femminile nel Molise preromano. I casi di Termoli, Guglionesi, Larino, San Giuliano di Puglia, Pozzilli e Gildone'

(Ottobre/Dicembre 2009, No. 2 - Anno I):
- Lorenzo Quilici, 'Il castello di Gerione presso Casacalenda, da Annibale agli Angioini'
- Adriano LaRegina, 'Ritratto di Caligola, poi di Augusto, dal Molise'
- Giovanna Falasca, 'San Giuliano del Sannio, alla ricerca delle origini storiche'
- Gabriella Di Rocco, 'Insediamenti fortificati del Molise occidentale, tra alto e basso Medioevo'
- Alessandro Testa, 'La Maschera del Cervo a Castelnuovo al Volturno, breve introduzione alla storia ed alle interpretazioni di una pantomima tradizionale'
- Roberta Venditto, 'Un alabastro inglese nel Regno di Napoli. Il caso del polittico del museo archeologico di Venafro'

(I'll be in Cincinnati for the "Beyond Magna Graecia" conference from tomorrow, Thursday, through Saturday, November 12 - 14. The organizers have helpfully put up a selection of background readings for the conference topic here.)