On Thursday March 27th at 5PM in the Rittenberg Lounge of Mather Hall, Dr. Karen Foster will speak to us about monkeys in Aegean art and imagination: “Karen Pollinger Foster (Ph.D., Yale University) specializes in the art and archaeology of the Bronze Age Aegean, with particular interests in interconnections with Egypt and Mesopotamia and studies of walling painting programs from Thera. Her most recent book, Civilizations of Iraq (2009), co-authored with Benjamin R. Foster, received the 2010 Felicia A. Holton Book Award from the American Archaeological Institute of America. She has recently completed a trilogy dealing with volcanic imagery in art and literature, beginning with the Thera eruption and concluding with the Villa of the Mysteries at Pompeii. Her current major research project involves the final preparation of Strange and Wonderful: Exotic Flora and Fauna in Image and Imagination, a comprehensive study of this material from ancient to modern times.”
Please join us on Thursday at the Common Hour in Rittenberg Lounge for a talk by Dr. Christelle Fischer-Bovet, who will be talking to us about “Identifying People in Hellenistic and Early Roman Egypt – A Comparative Perspective”!
“Hellenistic rulers and the Roman government were already exposed to the issue of identifying people for juridical and fiscal purposes. The systems that were used in Egypt at both periods have been variously interpreted and often contrasted. By looking at legal and fiscal documents preserved on papyri, this paper explores how official categories of persons allowed both states to single out groups that were particularly valuable to the state formation process and whose loyalty was essential. It suggests that both systems are more similar than usually thought and that the Roman system in Egypt can be understood as a systematization of developments already occurring in the last century of Ptolemaic rule. However, in contrast to the early period Ptolemaic, this systematization did not create new elites, but rather maintained the privileges of most of the same families.”
Please join us for an Archaeological Institute of America lecture at 5PM in McCook Auditorium on the Vikings on Monday March 6th. Dr. William Fitzhugh, re-scheduled from February, will deliver a lecture entitled, “Vikings: the North Atlantic Saga.” Please join us!
More info: https://www.archaeological.org/events/22333
On Thursday, November 3, 2016, students and faculty packed Rittenberg Lounge in the Trinity College Mather Student Center to hear a lectured by Vincent Tomasso, Assistant Professor of Classics. Tomasso’s talk, “Greek for Amazons. Wonder Woman’s Words Through the Ages,” discussed the curious use of Greek letters and words in the film and original comic book versions of the Wonder Woman story. Tomasso noted that Greek was required for admission to Trinity in the earlier twentieth century, and the connections between classical mythology and the creator of the original Wonder Woman character.
You can view a videotape of the whole lecture here.
Tomasso’s talk was supported by the Classics Department’s Moore Fund, a small endowed fund devoted to promoting the study of classical Greek at Trinity. Students excited about learning Greek can take Greek 101 in the coming spring 2017 semester.
On Friday and Saturday, October 21 and 22, 2016, Trinity College hosted a conference in honor of Elizabeth R. (“Betsy”) Gebhard. Scholars convened from all over the world to give papers on topics dear to Betsy’s heart, from theaters at ancient Stobi in Macedonia to Cybele and Attis at Corinth; a list of participants and their topics follows. The conference was organized by Trinity’s own Martha Risser, who has known and worked with Betsy for over thirty years, and Virginia Anderson-Stojanovic, another of Betsy’s long-time collaborators and friends.
Silvana Blazevska, “Theaterical Entertainments: Evidence on Terracotta Oil-Lamps and Figurines from Stobi”
Matthew Dickie, “The Mysteries of Palaemon in Late Antiquity”
Katherine M. D. Dunbabin, “Some Athletic Imaginary at the End of Antiquity”
Jonathan Hall, “Telesilla and her Afterlife”
Goce Pavlovski, “The First Phase of the Cavea of the Roman Theatre at Stobi”
Kathleen Warner Slane, “Gifts for Demeter”
James Wiseman, “Cybele, Attis, and Regilla at Corinth”
Bonnie Honig, Professor of Modern Culture and Media and Political Science at Brown University and author of Antigone, Interrupted (2013), a well-received study of the way Sophokles’ play has been interpreted and used in the 2500 years since its first performance, reflects on the interconnections between the Antigone and the Black Lives Matter movement in a moving and timely post on her blog, The Contemporary Condition. Her reflections show once again how relevant the Greek and Roman classics remain as touchstones for thinking about the human condition, even in this day of cell phone cameras and Facebook.
Check out Trinity College’s story about three Classics majors who received summer research grants!
Transylvania Diaries: Week 4: Parietal, Temporal, and Frontal, Oh My!
So, a fun fact about children is that they grow. This means their bones display an incredible, frustrating, fascinating amount of morphological diversity. That diversity poses an additional challenge for identifying bones and any associated pathology.
Our first week in the lab has already settled into a solid routine. We have one to two lectures each day, with a coffee break around 10 AM, lunch at noon-ish, and bone washing for one to two hours before end of day at 4PM. A distinct benefit over the field is the opportunity to walk into town for coffee or lunch. Outside of lecture and bone washing, we have time to study the structures we covered during lecture. On Monday, we were surprised with an assessment bone quiz. I solidly failed it, although not so terrible for someone who has never taken an osteology course before. I am choosing to view it as room for improvement.
In our first week, we covered the bones of the pelvis (ilium, ischium, and pubis), the cranial vault (occipital: pars squama, pars lateralis, pars basilaris; temporal: pars sqauma, pars tympani, pars petrosal; frontal, parietal, and sphynoid), the splanchocranium or facial bones, (maxilla, mandible, zygomatic, ethmoid, inferior nasal concha, lacrimoles, palatines, and vomer), teeth, the vertebral column, and bone development. In addition to learning the bones, we are also learning different features of each bone, such as different articular surfaces, foramen, and fossa. Suffice to say, my brain is a little fried. Teeth and vertebrae are evil and I hate them. At least for now.
I’ve found that being able to handle the bones in various developmental stages to be hugely helpful in learning the bones. Certain bones, such as the ilium and parietal, are easier to side be feel rather than by sight. Jessica and Sam, who worked on the other dig last session, have been incredibly helpful and patient in helping me learn on the bones. I’d be utterly and entirely lost without them. Their tutelage definitely paid off – on our bone quizzes at the end of the week, I vastly improved compared our pre-test. There may be hope for me yet.
We also received our first two homework assignments. The first is an annotated bibliography that will develop into our culminating research project at the end of the session. Though I haven’t quiet settled on a topic, I think I will be looking at taphonomic changes wrought by natural phenomena. The second was all about teeth. We aged individuals based on casts and radiographs, and identified which arcade the tooth came from, the type of tooth, and if it was permanent or deciduous. Once all of that was figured out, we scored the development of the teeth based on various standards.
Transylvania Diaries: Week 2- Is this a bone?
Top Five Things That Look Like Bones But Are Not:
- Calcium deposits
- Small rocks
- Old sticks
- Clumps of clay
Being a novice to burial excavation, approximately 90% of the questions I ask are along the lines of “Is this a bone? If yes, what is it?” And most of the time, it is not a bone. A quick and dirty field method for distinguishing between rocks and bones is to lick the object in question. Bones stick to your tongue because they’re porous. I may or may not have licked a lot of rocks already.
We started the week with a lesson in soil tests. Soil tests, to a non-geologist, are really just glorified playing in the dirt. They involve testing the texture of the soil matrix by rubbing it against your palm, and water retention by rolling a teaspoon of dirt into a ball. Because I am a mature adult, I totally did not make pet rocks out of the clay matrix when I was done with my practice or formal soil tests.
Eleanor and I finished up excavating our neonate burial on Monday. However, with Zsolt split between two dig sites, we were not able to finish our burial with mapping and taking elevations until Wednesday. Mapping at a 1:10 scale for a burial that is only 46 cm total is no easy task, especially when the distance between points was less than the thickness of our pencil lead. Eleanor is a drawing champ, however, so we were able to produce a representative map of our burial. We finished up by taking elevations relative to our site datum point and measuring the location of the burial relative to the corners of the trench. We were able to pull the neonate on the same day we mapped. It was really a relief to finally get it out of the ground, especially since we’ve been having some rain in the evenings. The bones now rest, safe and sound, at the lab for processing.
For the rest of the week, I worked on excavating a different burial. Before I had started working on it, Zsolt had pointed it out to Katie Z. and said, “There are legs there.” Zsolt has yet to be wrong, so I was set upon the supposed location of the legs. Lo and behold, I found just feet in that location. As with the neonate before it, this burial was in direct sunlight all day. Excavating baked out clay is rapidly becoming my least favorite part of excavation, especially when you know that the bones underneath are delicate. Thankfully, the feet are very well articulated, which somewhat eased the excavation process. Other than the distal phalanges, all of the bones in the right foot are present and the left foot has all the bones through the proximal phalanges, including sesamoid bones. By Friday, this burial was ready for a photo and elevations, though I had missed the key Zsolt window of opportunity on Friday. I’ll have to wait until next week to finish up paper work and mapping.
A very cool feature of Patakfalva is that we are surrounded by hills. Therefore, we have the distinct pleasure of watching the storm clouds role into our site from quite a distance. We had just about two minutes of rain catch us while we were waiting for the bus on Thursday. Friday, however, was an entirely different story.
We could see the clouds over the northwest hills at our noon lunch break. Other members of the crew had the foresight to check the weather. I had ignored my raincoat on my bedroom floor and set out on Friday morning none the wiser that we were headed for a torrential downpour. By our 3:00PM break, the clouds had darkened and the wind was picking up. Before the end of our break, Katie Z. instructed us in the rain procedure. She asked that we keep our tools close, and be ready to tiny tarp our individual and big tarp the rest of the trench if she shouted “rain.” Burials first, then gear. In the back of everyone’s mind, however, was the fact that we don’t have a structure at Patakfalva. If rains, we get wet.
As the day went on, the wind steadily picked up and the clouds darkened. By 3:45PM, we had the “rain” call, and the mad scramble started. I cannot adequately describe the chaos that ensued. We had three trenches to tarp, which is incredibly difficult with high-speed winds. We were forced to sacrifice entire sides of trenches 12 and 11 in order to preserve the more fragile burials. There was lots of shouting, and falling on wet clay, and general mayhem. After the fact, a fellow participant described the experience as “feeling like I was on a sinking ship in a terrible storm, doing everything we could do to stay alive.” With the thunder, lightning, and rain like needles, I don’t disagree. The best part was after the trenches were as under control as we could get them, we had to wait for the bus in the pouring rain for another half hour. Go team.