New at LacusCurtius and Livius.Org (3)

31 December 2007

Bill really seems to like Dio Chrysostom; he has now put online Oration 1, Oration 2, and Oration 3, which are the three first instalments of a series of four dealing with the nature of imperial rule. They were addressed to the emperor Trajan (picture; Valkhof Museum, Nijmegen). He added Discourse 28 and Discourse 29, the notorious Melancomas texts.

In Bill’s Antiquaries Shoebox, an odd essay on Homeric heroes and fish, and a sequel.

I have added two very small articles, one on Alexandria ad Issum (modern Iskenderun) and one on the island of Tenedos. Nothing very special.

Lepcis Magna

29 December 2007

I have put online a long article on Lepcis Magna, the most important city of Roman Tripolitana, and the birth place of the emperor Septimius Severus. You can find it here. At the moment, there are four pages on Lepcis’ history (Phoenician beginnings, Romanization, Golden Age, Decline); five pages with sources; twenty-two inscriptions; and twenty-seven pages with photos of Lepcis’ buildings and the villas in the neighborhood. The photo shows the city’s most famous monument: the Arch of Septimius Severus.

I will add at least two pages before this year is out, and hope to add more in February, when I’m back from a new visit to that remarkable place, which is -from an archaeological point of view- less important than the Limes Tripolitanus, but still very much worth a visit.

Qumran / Scrolls of the Dead Sea

27 December 2007

qumran1.jpgThe preliminary report of the excavations at Qumran has been published; it can be downloaded here. If I may summarize the summary: there is no connection between the settlement and the famous scrolls, and the theory that the buildings were some sort of (Essene) monastery, is incorrect. The building may in fact have been a pottery manufactory center.

Although the authors of the preliminary report, Yitzhak Magen and Yuval Peleg, are archaeologists, and have until now not commented upon the scrolls, they now propose that these important texts were left behind by refugees from Judaea, who tried to evade the Roman legions during the war of 66-70. This may explain why so many scrolls with Biblical texts have been found – too many for one monastery.

All this is not very new. The theory that the Qumran settlement was a monastery and that the scrolls were written over there, has always had its skeptics, and the idea that the scrolls belonged to more than one library has been proposed before.  Still, it is interesting to see that the people who have been excavating the area for more than a decade (1993-2004), now join those who are skeptical about the old thesis.

New at LacusCurtius and Livius.Org (2)

26 December 2007

I used Christmas day to reorganize part of Livius.Org. Revised articles include: the “treasure of Ambiorix” (photo), “Halys“, “Cinyps“, and “Legio III Parthica“. The latter is an update of an article based on Ritterling, taking into account the information from Le Bohec’s Les legions de Rome sous le Haut-Empire. I intend to do all legions, but I am not in a hurry.

Meanwhile, Bill expands LacusCurtius by putting online speeches by Dio of Prusa. Today, Discourse 6 was made accessible, which is called “Diogenes, or On Tyranny”, but in fact deals with Domitian, who had sent Dio into exile.

New at LacusCurtius and Livius.Org

24 December 2007

Continuing to put online translations of the orations of Dio of Prusa, Bill has made available Discourse 5, a Libyan myth about a monster that was half woman, half snake. It reminded me of a native Libyan sculpture I once saw in the temple of Slonta (photo). I read a bit about that sanctuary, but none of it referred to Dio, so perhaps the combination of these two pieces of evidence has never been attempted before, or is simply nonsense.

My own contribution to the web is more modest than Bill’s, but some of you may find the tombstone of Viatorinus interesting, a Roman soldier killed by Franks near Cologne. I’m currently more occupied with reorganizing all articles, to prepare for a migration to a Content Management System; the pages on Deutz, Cologne, and Alteburg were restyled. Also restyled is my Amsterdam section, which has nothing to do with Amsterdam, but I think you will like the section on Stone Tablets.

New at LacusCurtius (1)

23 December 2007
Coin of Postumus

Coin of Postumus

Bill Thayer has added a translation of Dio Chrysostom‘s Eighth Discourse to the LacusCurtius website, an essay on the nature of virtue. Another addition is the Latin text of the chapters on the “Thirty Tyrants” that belong to the Historia Augusta. This is the name that the anonymous author gives to a series of third-century usurpers. One of them was Postumus, who is shown on this coin from the delightful Rheinisches Landesmuseum in Bonn.

Mount Ararat

23 December 2007
The summit of Mount Ararat

The summit of Mount Ararat

Mount Ararat is rightly famous for being the place where Noah and his relatives left the Ark. The Turks call this volcano Ağrı Dağı, the Kurds call it Çiyaye Agiri (“fiery mountain”), and hotel owners in the neighborhood do not hesitate to say that this is the Mount Ararat. And it is easy to believe them, because the snow-capped mountain is the largest and most impressive of all summits in eastern Turkey. The problem is – it can not be the place where Noah disembarked.

The Bible does not refer to a summit called Ararat, but to “the mountains of Ararat”, and this proper name refers to the ancient kingdom of Urartu (cf. Jeremiah 51.27). Ancient Jewish authors and early translators of the Bible were well aware that there was no mountain called Ararat. The author of the second-century BCE Book of Jubilees (5.28, 10.15) states that the Ark landed on “Mount Lubar” in “the land of Ararat”, and the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus knew that “Ararat” referred to a summit he calls “Baris”, which is in a country north called Gordyene (Jewish Antiquities, 1.93). Josephus adds that in his days, bitumen could still be found near the site of the Ark

Babylonian sources concur. In his account of the FloodBerossus mentions the presence of bitumen as well, the Epic of Gilgameš also refers to mountains in what is now Kurdistan, and the Quran speaks of Al-Gudi. The author of Jubilees, Flavius Josephus, the Babylonian writers, and the Quran have retained an older tradition, which puts the Ark’s landing site between Lake Van and the Tigris. This must be the site which the ancients believed was the location of the final act of the story of the Flood, where the hero disembarked and sacrificed.

It may perhaps be identified with a summit northeast of modern Cizre called Cudi Dağı (satellite), where eastern Christians, who were unaware of the identification of Ararat with Ağrı Dağı made in the Medieval West, and Muslims still venerate the tomb of Noah.


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