Cairenes have asked me about the crowds at Luxor as a barometer of Egyptian torism. The temple of Amun at Karnak seemed plenty crowded to me, and this is considered late in the season!
I spent most of the day moping about the weather and reading an oldish (1899) book about Rome that I’ve used forever but never actually READ. So after a long walk late in the afternoon I watched Strictly Ballroom (1992) . . . after which Netflix suggested Flashdance. Yes, I watched Flashdance (1983). Michael Nouri was so young!
And guess who will be teaching in Rome Spring of 2014?
By the way, read the whole article. Skylights are ALWAYS a problem. Always. If an architect suggests skylights, fire him. If you’ve always wanted skylights, you’re wrong.
A previously unknown Constantinian basilica has recently been excavated in Sofia, Bulgaria. No meaningful photos at link. If I hadn’t already made and distributed the take-home final I would turn this into a question for Arth 270: Art and Architecture of the First Christian Millennium. Something like:
The deputy mayor would like the discovery of this substantial basilica to mean that Serdica (Roman Sofia, Bulgaria) was in the running with Byzantion to be Constantine’s Nova Roma. Examining our list of the buildings Constantine did build while turning Byzantion into Constantinopolis (and don’t forget the walls!), evaluate this claim.
Oh well, lucky them!
This is encouraging. The Dallas Museum of Art is returning looted art to Turkey even before the Turkish government asked for it (click and see – there’s an ok photograph of the mosaic in question). Compare that to the Met, which is still stonewalling. In exchange, Dallas hopes to get some good loan materials. I hadn’t noticed that Max Anderson is now the director at Dallas – his first director position was at Emory’s Carlos Museum.
When Pompeii shows up in my news feed the pictures are almost never good.
Last week I was talking to the colleagues who are leading the Rome program this spring about Herculaneum vs. Pompeii. This kind of mess is part of what helped me decide to take the 2011 crew to Herculaneum. Pompeii is too big to take care of properly.
New finds under the Temple of Anubis in Saqqara. Sorry that it’s video – you can click for the transcript. The ancient Egyptians may have been sacrificing and mummifying new born puppies, too.
Fun article about how exciting the ancient Olympics might have been – complete with cheating scandals!
The historical model of Decline and Fall lives. Of course, it’s an endless problem in the historiography — we learn new things that confirm or undermine old things (especially from archaeology), scholarly fashions change, and people still keep writing books. There was some discussion at Marginal Revolution yesterday that reminded me of something I’m doing this fall in Art and Architecture of the First Christian Millennium* (ARTH 270).
Most of the students in this course will be majors in art history, studio art, or architectural studies, with a sprinkling of other humanities; they typically don’t have a very strong background in European history. I think most of them are sure that the Roman Empire fell, and I bet that a majority believe in barbarian invasions as the cause of that fall. I’m also fairly sure that they believe that this process was fairly swift (that’s what fall implies – an event). Whether they know anything about decline I am much less certain. The last time I polled folks in this course (3 years ago?) almost no one knew who Gibbon was or the title of his book. Me, I prefer changed slowly into two different things, one centered on Constantinople and one without a coherent center, but decline will do in a pinch.
So, I’ve tried using a history textbook as a supplement: Roger Collins’ Early Medieval Europe, 300-1000. It’s pretty good and it’s not unreadable – but it’s way too long for a resource book.
This year I’m using a popular history: William Rosen’s Justinian’s Flea: The First Great Plague and the End of the Roman Empire. I think this will have a number of advantages. It’s a third of the price of Collins, and available for Kindle and on Audible! Though the main focus is fairly narrow (early 6th Century), Rosen provides lots of background, and tells it in a fairly orthodox fashion that I won’t have to correct much. The comparative angle – Rosen is interested in how China was like and unlike the Roman and Persian Empires – is interesting. The most difficult part will be getting the students not to adopt Rosen’s fairly deterministic story — bubonic plague enabled the rise of Islam — but I’ll do my best.
Best of all, I think it’s a fairly good introduction to the later Empire in the West before its decline and to how the Empire in the East held on.
We’ll see – every iteration is a new adventure!
*Unfortunately, I created that course at a time when we were going in for evocative course titles. I’d be better off with Early Medieval Art & Architecture, but that would involve filling out paperwork.
Not in Jersey, on Jersey. The Channel Island, not the State. The story.
Click and look at the picture in this version – the find is a block that weighs 3/4 of a ton!
There’s almost no way to have a find of that size without it eventually telling us things we didn’t know about, say, Celtic exchange and trade around the time of Julius Caesar.