Julius Caesar’s genocide in the Netherlands discovery

Julius Caesar sculpture, AFP photo

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Julius Caesar fought battle near Oss

Today, 19:02

Archaeologists say they found the final proof that Julius Caesar has marched around in what is now the Netherlands. They have identified the location of a battle in 55 BC in which Caesar defeated two Germanic tribes. Which took place at the present village Kessel in the municipality of Oss.

These two tribes were the Tencteri and Usipetes. It is uncertain whether they were Germanic or Celtic.

According to archaeologist Nico Roymans of VU University Amsterdam this is the first time that the presence of Caesar in the Netherlands has been confirmed. Until now the site of the battle, described by Caesar himself in Book IV of his De Bello Gallico, was unknown.

Archaeologists used historical, archaeological and geochemical data to arrive at their discovery. In the soil at Kessel they found large numbers of skeletal remains, swords, spearheads and a helmet.


The two Germanic tribes came from an area east of the Rhine and explicitly asked Caesar for asylum. Caesar did not accept that request. His troops then butchered the two tribes in an action that today, according to the scientists, would be described as genocide.

According to archaeologists, this is now also the earliest known battle on Dutch soil.

The first evidence for Julius Caesar’s invasion of Britain has been discovered by archaeologists: here.

European Middle Ages and Enlightenment, new book

This video from the USA is called Stephen GreenblattThe Swerve – Part 1.

And this video is the sequel.

By Tom Carter in the USA:

A key moment in the prehistory of the Enlightenment

9 August 2014

The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, Stephen Greenblatt, W.W. Norton, 2011 (US$16.95)

In his autobiography, Trotsky compares the Protestant Reformation in Europe to the work of men who have broken out of an insane asylum. “To a certain extent, it really was,” he remarks. “European humanity broken out of the medieval monastery.”

The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, a recent bestselling non-fiction book by Harvard academic Stephen Greenblatt, tells the story of how the first cracks began to appear in the medieval monastery walls. It chronicles a little-appreciated but nevertheless significant event in the history of human ideas: the rediscovery of Lucretius’s poem De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things) in the winter of 1417 by former papal secretary and book hunter Poggio Bracciolini. Key philosophical conceptions drawn from this rediscovered poem, Greenblatt argues, formed the foundations for many subsequent developments in modern thought.

Greenblatt’s controversial book won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, and it has also come under attack as an “anti-religious diatribe.” The book has merit and, as a celebration of the very early stages of the intellectual trajectory that would become the Enlightenment, deserves to defended.

The Swerve paints a truly dark picture of the Middle Ages in Europe. At the dawn of the fifteenth century, society is subordinated to the whims and caprices of a cruel aristocracy of landowners, warlords, and priests. Ignorance and superstition reign, and lists are maintained of banned and heretical books. War, hunger, and disease regularly carry off entire populations. The ruins of ancient Rome are pilfered for bricks and scrap metal, and the literary treasures of antiquity are forgotten. The Catholic Church treats every original thought as a potential threat to its hegemony, and it aggressively tortures dissenters and burns them at the stake. There is not a drop of romance in Greenblatt’s grim account of this period in history.

Even 200 years after the events that are the main focus of the book, at the height of the Renaissance, the Catholic Church continued to use the most barbaric methods against those who would challenge its worldview. Greenblatt gives the following description of the death of the colorful and brilliant philosopher Giordano Bruno, who was murdered by the Inquisition on February 17, 1600:

“He [Bruno] had steadfastly refused to repent during the innumerable hours in which he had been harangued by teams of friars, and he refused to repent or simply to fall silent now at the end. His words are unrecorded, but they must have unnerved the authorities, since they ordered that his tongue be bridled. They meant it literally: according to one account, a pin was driven into his cheek, through his tongue, and out the other side; another pin sealed his lips, forming a cross. When a crucifix was held up to his face, he turned his head away. The fire was lit and did its work.”

The executions of religious reformers Jan Hus and Jerome of Prague—also by burning at the stake—likely had a particular impact on the protagonist of the story, the early humanist Poggio Bracciolini (1380-1459). Poggio witnessed the execution of Jerome, who, according to a contemporary chronicler, “lived much longer in the fire than Hus and shrieked terribly, for he was a stouter, stronger man, with a broad, thick, black beard.”

Poggio, in a letter to a friend, praised the eloquence with which Jerome had made his case before his persecutors, even with his own life in the balance. His friend replied, “I must advise you henceforth to write upon such subjects in a more guarded manner.” The terror of the Inquisition was everywhere.

Under these conditions, the work of the early humanists was driven semi-underground. Their work took the form of searching for and appreciating the works of the classical writers of Greek and Roman antiquity.

Some authors of historical novels and detractors of books like Greenblatt’s glorify the Middle Ages as a lost paradise of beautiful damsels, chivalrous courageous knights and pious Christians; while ignoring the exploitation of the peasantry, horrible executions imposed by the Inquisition and the nobility, etc. However, some authors of the Renaissance and later, opposed to the ‘dark Middle Ages’, tend to idealize Greek and Roman culture, forgetting aspects like slavery or Julius Caesar’s bloody war of conquest in Gaul.

To give a sense of how much had been lost, Greenblatt quotes Roman rhetorician Quintilian’s praise for the works of Macer, Lucretius, Varro of Atax, Cornelius Severus, Saleius Bassus, Gaius Rabirius, Albinovanus Pedo, Marcus Furius Bibaculus, Lucius Accius, Marcus Pacuvius, and others. With the exception of Lucretius, Greenblatt writes, all of the works of all of these authors have been lost.

The poem of Lucretius, which Poggio rediscovers in 1417, has significant philosophical implications. Little is known about the life of Lucretius (99 BCE–c. 55 BCE), who was a follower of Epicurus. In his masterpiece De Rerum Natura, he sought to combine beauty of aesthetic presentation (poetry) with the highest achievements of science and philosophy.

Partway through the book, Greenblatt makes a list of some of the key ideas in Lucretius’s poem: everything is made of invisible particles; these elementary particles are eternal; all particles are in motion in an infinite void; the universe has no creator or designer; nature ceaselessly experiments; human society began not in a Golden Age of tranquility and plenty but in a primitive battle for survival; there is no afterlife; all organized religions are superstitious delusions; religions are invariably cruel; there are no angels, demons, or ghosts; understanding the nature of things generates deep wonder; the highest goal of human life is the enhancement of pleasure and the reduction of pain; and the greatest obstacle to pleasure is not pain but delusion.

According to Lucretius, all phenomena come into being as a result of the unpredictable “swerve” of elementary particles, and this conception is the source of the title of Greenblatt’s book. There is a curious quasi-materialism in Lucretius that no doubt fascinated his early modern readers: “Sight did not exist before the birth of the eyes, nor speech before the creation of the tongue.”

In addition to its radical philosophical content, Lucretius’s poem is rich in passages of arresting beauty, even now after the passage of so many centuries. Lucretius portrays the world as ever-changing and yet still possessing continuity. Life has meaning, even if an individual’s life does not continue after death, as part of something greater. “Thus the sum of things is ever being renewed, and mortals live dependent one upon another. Some nations increase, others diminish, and in a short space the generations of living creatures are changed and like runners pass on the torch of life.”

The Swerve traces the fascinating impact of the poem and its Epicurean ideas across the subsequent centuries. Botticelli paints scenes from the poem; Shakespeare refers to it in his plays; Montaigne cites it in his essays; and it animates Thomas More’s Utopia. Asked to describe his philosophy of life, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “I am an Epicurean.”

Greenblatt does not mention it in The Swerve, but Epicurean philosophy had a certain influence on another important figure in modern thought: the very young Karl Marx, who filled seven notebooks with a study of Epicurean philosophy and even wrote his doctoral dissertation on “The Difference Between the Democritean and Epicurean Philosophy of Nature.”

Some of the value of Greenblatt’s book is reflected in the ferocity of the attacks against it. Hostility to the Enlightenment and all of its accomplishments predominates in ruling circles in America and throughout the world. The epoch of imperialism, Lenin wrote, is “reaction all down the line.” It is no coincidence that, in a country where the Supreme Court recently affirmed the “religious right” of corporations to deny health care to women, a book celebrating secular humanism and the Enlightenment would encounter a chilly reception in certain quarters.

The Los Angeles Review of Books published one such attack, entitled “Why Stephen Greenblatt is Wrong—and Why It Matters.” The author of the attack, Jim Hinch, a religion correspondent for California’s Orange County Register, takes furious exception to Greenblatt’s narrative “of how modern western secular culture liberated itself from the deadening hand of centuries of medieval religious dogmatism.”

“Greenblatt’s caricatured Middle Ages might have passed muster with Enlightenment-era historians,” Hinch writes (using the word “Enlightenment” as an epithet). The Swerve, he continues, is “filled with factual inaccuracies and founded upon a view of history not shared by serious scholars of the periods Greenblatt studies.”

These “factual inaccuracies” are never specified. Meanwhile, it appears that “serious scholars” (whom Hinch does not name) have lately determined that the Dark Ages were not that dark, that there is no such thing as the Renaissance, and that life under the Inquisition was not really that bad!

Replying to a hostile review in a different journal, Greenblatt wrote, “I plead guilty.… That is, I am of the devil’s party that believes that something significant happened in the Renaissance. And I plead guilty as well to the conviction…that atomism—whose principal vehicle was Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura—was crucially important in the intellectual trajectory that led to Jefferson, Marx, Darwin, and Einstein.”

It is a testament to the power of the poem—more than two millennia after it was composed, and nearly 600 years after its rediscovery by Poggio —that it still evokes such hostility. Indirectly, in a way, the response of people like Hinch confirms Greenblatt’s thesis.

Finally, the description of The Swerve as an “anti-religious diatribe” is one of those slanders that depends on the audience not having read the book in question. Greenblatt’s sympathies are clearly with reason, secularism, and the Enlightenment, but the book is not actually concerned with making a case for or against religion.

Greenblatt, in fact, rather objectively relates how the protagonist of the story, Poggio, made his career within the complex institutions of the Catholic Church. Greenblatt also describes medieval religious monasteries as places where books were carefully copied, preserved, and revered (if not always fully appreciated). There is a glimpse here and there, across six centuries, of how life really was, with some of its movement and contradiction.

Greenblatt’s book deserves to be defended against right-wing obscurantism, but in the opinion of this reviewer it has other limitations. In an effort to make the book as simple and approachable as possible, the reader sometimes feels that Greenblatt has “dumbed down” the material too much, almost to the point of being condescending. One wants to ask the author to kindly dispense with the “popular” style, and instead to tell us what he knows. Meanwhile, the author returns again and again to certain key philosophical themes for emphasis, but the result is sometimes simply repetitive.

Greenblatt’s suggestion that the rediscovery of Lucretius’s poem actually “caused” the world to “swerve” in a new direction is more than poetic license. It is an outright exaggeration. De Rerum Natura is fascinating, and certainly it had broad influence over a long period. But the Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment cannot all be understood as contingent on the rediscovery of this poem.

Material conditions for a major change in consciousness in Europe were in the process of ripening at the time of Poggio’s rediscovery of De Rerum Natura. Medieval Church doctrine had served as the dominant ideology throughout a long historical period characterized by feudal relations of production, namely the exploitation of peasants tied to estates owned by the feudal aristocracy. The growth of towns, which featured early capitalist relations and which were increasingly controlled by what would develop into the modern bourgeois class, heralded a shift in ideas.

The old forms of consciousness were being undermined by changing material conditions, and the rediscovery of the poem under such circumstances was a fortuity. In other words, if Lucretius’s poem had not been rediscovered, and instead had been lost forever, then the form of the historical processes that led to the Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment might have been affected, but not the eventual trajectory.

But as a history of how it actually did happen, and as an introduction to a masterpiece of world literature that deserves to be rediscovered again, Greenblatt’s book is worthwhile reading.

London Roman age archaeological discoveries

This video from England is called The Roman gallery at the Museum of London.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Wednesday 10 April 2013

Experts praise big City dig

An archaeological dig in the City of London that has unearthed thousands of Roman artefacts was hailed as “the most important excavation ever held in London” today.

Just yards from the Thames, in what is now the capital’s financial district, Museum of London archaeologists have found coins, pottery, shoes, lucky charms and an amber gladiator amulet which date back almost 2,000 years.

Experts excavating the site, which lies alongside a huge building project for new offices on Queen Victoria Street, have also uncovered wooden structures from about 40 AD around 40ft (12m) beneath the ground.

Sexism in British media

British historian Mary Beard, Photo: BBC/LION TELEVISION

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Things get ugly for journo after beauty comments

Wednesday 02 May 2012

Self-proclaimed “beauty” Samantha Brick sparked outrage today after claiming that some women were “too ugly for TV,” writes Louise Nousratpour.

Journalist Ms Brick, who was recently ridiculed for claiming “women hate me for being beautiful,” defended sexist remarks by TV critic AA Gill that BBC2 Meet The Romans presenter Mary Beard was too unattractive for television.

“While Ms Beard is a supremely intelligent woman…the plain truth is that Ms Beard is too ugly for TV,” she wrote in an article for the Daily Mail.

Do Ms Brick or her co-thinkers ever ask whether men on TV, intelligent or not so intelligent, are good-looking or not?

Ms Brick then argued that “savvy” presenters would realise their looks is key to success and consider undergoing complete makeovers, including cosmetic surgery.

But NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet slammed Ms Brick’s inflammatory comments.

She said: “Women working in the media continue to face double standards, yet we know the public want to see, hear and read contributions from a diverse range of presenters, journalists and actors, not just – thankfully – the beautiful.”

Historian Mary Beard, who has been branded “too ugly for TV” by self-proclaimed “beautiful journalist” Samantha Brick, has said she will not lose any sleep over a “silly fuss”: here.

What We Look Like: A Comic About Women in Media. Anne Elizabeth Moore and Robyn Chapman, Truthout in the USA: “‘What We Look Like,’ with Anne Elizabeth Moore and Robyn Chapman, is a follow-up to Ladydrawers’ look at women’s participation in the labor force. This time, we look at why the diminished economic status of women isn’t popularly considered, even beyond media’s gendered hiring practices. The representations of women that do result are a far cry from the reality – compare for yourself!” Here.

Think sexist advertising isn’t a big deal? Think again: here.

Why It Sucks to Be a Woman in the Video Game Industry; here.

Ancient Roman women’s microcredits

In this video in Spanish, professor Carmen Lázaro tells of her research about ancient Roman women’s microcredits.

From Asociación RUVID, a universitary organization in Valencia, Spain:

Women of ancient Rome prompted a similar system of microcredits to overcome legal exclusion

26 April 2012

Some women in ancient Rome already implemented the concept of microcredit as a loan of small amounts of money that enables people without resources to develop work projects on their own. The study conducted by the professor of Roman Law at the Universitat Jaume I Carmen Lázaro shows how women managed to evade the legal rules that excluded them from activities related with the bank and exchange through credit contracts of small amounts of money made by and among women and guaranteed by pledge agreements in which they gave as collateral personal property of small value.

The existence of this microcredit system is known through various sources, mainly epigraphic, such as the inscriptions found in Roman Granio House in Pompeii, which reflect legal transactions as the ones carried out among the moneylender Faustilla and other women with an interest at 6.25%, remaining as collateral for reimbursement by way of endorsement (through pignus-pawns) personal items such as earrings or coats.

Today, microcredit interest for women, often poorer than the Roman ladies which the new research is about, is often more than 6.25%. 20 percent or higher.

That is one of the reasons why today women doubt whether microcredits are really the miraculous panacea for all the problems of women, and of poor people, that its propagandists claim.

In the Netherlands, microcredits are propagated by Princess Máxima. She and her husband, the crown prince of the Netherlands, are very rich. First they had a scandal with an expensive villa in poor Mozambique. Then they bought a villa in Maxima’s native Argentina. Now, they are buying a villa in Greece, which, if the banking fat cats have their way, will become as poor as Mozambique.

Likewise in ancient Rome, women’s microcredits did not succeed in bringing women equality to men. Or in solving poverty. Or slavery.

Ovid’s poetry influenced visual arts

Titian, Diana and Actaeon

From daily The Guardian in England:

The transformative effect of Ovid’s Metamorphoses on European art

As a summer National Gallery exhibition will show, Titian was the greatest visualiser of Ovid – but he had some major competition

The National Gallery once put on an exhibition about the influence of the New Testament on western art. Seeing Salvation argued that if you don’t know the biblical story of Christ, you can’t comprehend such paintings as Titian’s Noli Me Tangere. But this summer the same gallery showcases another, very different book that has also exerted a vast influence on European art – Ovid‘s Metamorphoses.

Written in Latin in the reign of the ancient Roman emperor Augustus, who exiled Ovid for naughtiness, this epic poem retells the myths of ancient Greece for a sophisticated Roman audience. Ovid’s audience worshipped these same gods, giving the Greek pantheon Latin names (Zeus became Jupiter or Jove, Aphrodite became Venus, and so on) but found the antics of their deities by turns salacious, shocking, hilarious and tragic.

Ovid tells stories in verse about the crazed love life of Jupiter, driven by his lusts for various nymphs to take the forms of a bull, or a cloud, or a shower of gold in order to trick or seduce them. He tells of the courage of Perseus, who killed Medusa, and the folly of Phaethon, who tried to drive the sun’s chariot. He was the favourite source of classical myth for artists in the 16th and 17th centuries, and reading his book is like flicking through a series of descriptions of famous paintings, so copiously has he been illustrated.

The National Gallery is putting on its show Metamorphosis to celebrate the two great Titians it has purchased in partnership with the National Gallery of Scotland. Diana and Callisto and Diana and Actaeon both depict scenes from Ovid. But if Titian was the greatest visualiser of Ovid he had a lot of competition. Such marvels of art as Correggio’s Jupiter and Io, Michelangelo’s Fall of Phaethon, and Carravaggio’s Medusa all draw heat from Ovid’s imaginative fire.

The exhibition Metamorphosis, an Olympic special tied in with new opera productions, involves works by contemporary British artists – including Chris Ofili and Mark Wallinger – that respond to Ovid’s myths. The gallery is also publishing newly commissioned poems after Ovid by writers who include Seamus Heaney.

Amazon statue of Herculaneum

This video is called Ancient Secrets of Herculaneum.

From LiveScience:

Ancient Amazon Warrior Statue Resurrected

By LiveScience Staff

posted: 13 January 2009

Laser-scanning and computer graphics are breathing virtual life into a 2,000 year-old statue of an Amazon warrior.

The Roman statue was discovered by the Herculaneum Conservation Project in the ancient ruins of Herculaneum, a town preserved in the same eruption that buried nearby Pompeii in AD 79.

Scientists think the statue represents a wounded Amazon warrior, complete with painted hair and eyes preserved by the ash that buried the town.

“The statue is an incredible find,” said study researcher Mark Williams of the University of Warwick‘s WMG (formerly Warwick Manufacturing Group). “Although its age alone makes it valuable, it is unique because it has retained the original painted surface, preserved under the volcanic material that buried Herculaneum.”

Pompeii a symbol of Italy’s sloppiness: here.

Herculaneum papyrus scrolls: here.

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Emperor Hadrian withdrew troops from Iraq

This video is about Emperor Hadrian, and the wall he built in the north of England.

From British weekly Socialist Worker:

Hadrian and the limits of empire

The brutality of the Roman Empire led ordinary people to fight back. Neil Faulkner looks at how resistance to the empire shaped Hadrian’s rule

Insurrection in the cities of Iraq. Mass resistance across Palestine. Foreign troops bogged down and facing defeat. A crisis for western imperialism in the Middle East.

This may sound like a description of the world today. But the date was 117 AD and the policies of bull-headed Roman emperor Trajan (98-117 AD) had set the region alight.

Trajan had first brought carnage and chaos to Dacia (ancient Romania), when he crushed the independent kingdom on Rome’s northern border, plundered its bullion reserves, took half a million slaves and replaced native farmers with colonial settlers.

Romania is “the land of the Romans” and Romanian is a form of Latin because Trajan’s policy of ethnic cleansing 2,000 years ago was so thorough.

Dizzy with success, he then went for Mesopotamia (ancient Iraq), which was the main tax base of the sprawling Parthian Empire at the time. Mesopotamia was among the oldest, richest and most heavily populated centres of civilisation in the world.

But the Parthians were stunned by the Roman blitzkrieg and melted away. Within three years Trajan’s 130,000 strong army had reached the Persian Gulf and he appeared to be a world-conquering colossus – a new Alexander the Great.

Then the Middle East exploded. The people of the occupied cities turned on their Roman garrisons and massacred them. The Parthian Army swept down from the eastern uplands and cut the long Roman supply line to Syria.

Deep in the rear – in Libya, Egypt, Cyprus, and Palestine – the Jewish peasantry rose in revolt against Greek landlords, Roman tax-collectors, and local puppet-rulers.

As news of the debacle spread, the European heartlands of the empire came under attack and Trajan hurried home. He died en route and the succession passed to his second in command – Hadrian.

Hadrian was a highly intelligent and far-sighted member of the Roman ruling class. The revolt in Iraq taught him three lessons that he never forgot.

First, the Roman army could be defeated. Second, the empire was over-extended and risked further defeats if it failed to retrench. Third, such defeats could spark a tidal wave of resistance that might bring down the entire system.

It is surely not a coincidence that the British Museum has chosen Hadrian as the subject of its major exhibition this year. His achievement was to manage the greatest U-turn in Roman history and end a centuries-old policy of aggressive, predatory, expansionary imperialism. And defeat in Iraq was the catalyst.

Persian king Cambyses’ lost army in Egypt: here. And here.

Plaster copies of Greek and Roman sculpture

This is a BBC video from Britain, about ancient Greek sculpture.

The antiquities museum says about one of its present non-permanent exhibitions, Models of beauty. Masterpieces in plaster:

13 June through 16 November 2008

This exhibition shows beautiful 17th, 18th and 19th-century plaster casts of the finest sculptures of Antiquity. The timeless beauty of classical sculpture is the focal point of this exhibition. Further attention is paid to the role played by plaster casts in science, art criticism and art education in the past four hundred years.

Today Dr Ruurd Halbertsma of the museum showed us around this exhibition.

He started with talking about Rome, as in that city, in the sixteenth century, were the origins of copying sculptures from antiquity. When, early in that century, visitors came to Rome, they might know from writings that during antiquity, there had been many sculptures in public places. However, when they visited the city, they saw only a few sculptures said to have survived from the Roman empire or earlier: the she-wolf of Capitol hill; the Marcus Aurelius statue; Trajan’s Column.

When, while building churches or other buildings in medieval Rome, sculptures or parts of them from antiquity had been found, they had been recycled as building material. After 1500, however, people found out that discoveries like these might add to knowledge about antique art. In this way, new sculptures which became famous, were found, like the Laocoön group and the Apollo of the Belvedere. They attracted many artists and other visitors from many European countries to Rome.

The popes and other élite people from the papal states sometimes, as a favour, started giving plaster copies of antique sculptures to princes in other countries. One example was Trajan’s column, a copy of which was given to King Louis XIV of France. In 1824, these plaster copies were found in a windmill in Leiden. the Netherlands. It is not known how they had ended up there. As, since the seventeenth century, in the open air of Rome, the original Trajan’s column has suffered much from pollution, these plaster copies are today valuable, as they show details which are no longer clear in the original.

In the exhibition are also cork models of ancient Roman buildings, which used to be sold to tourists. And reproductions of idealized paintings of ancient Roman remains, by the neo-classicist Giovanni Paolo Panini (1692 – 1765).

During the eighteenth century, drawing academies, based on neo-classicist views, arose in many countries. First, the students had to learn to draw skeletons and muscles for human anatomy. Then, they had to make drawings of Greek and Roman sculptures, considered as models of perfect human bodies. Only after that did they draw nude human models, with bodies not as perfect as antique sculptures.

Among the plaster copies often found in drawing academies were the Venus of Arles. And the “Borghese gladiator” which does not really depict a gladiator, as gladiators did not fight while naked. The nude statue probably depicts a hero.

The Venus of Arles was considered the ideal female form, until 1820, when the Venus de Milo was discovered in Greece.

One of the drawings, depicting a statue of the Greek god Apollo, at the exhibition, is by nineteenth-century drawing academy student, later famous painter, George Hendrik Breitner.

When female students had to draw plaster copies of statues, fig leaves were attached to prevent the women from seeing male genitalia.

Certainly since the 1960s in the Netherlands, neo-classicist ideas in art education became weaker. For the plaster copies, that often meant they were hidden away or even destroyed.

In the sixteenth century, mainly Roman sculpture and Roman copies of Greek sculpture had become known in western Europe. In the early nineteenth century, for the first time, classical Greek sculpture became widely known. Eg, after the Parthenon marbles arrived in London. People had difficulty in getting used to them. The poet John Keats was one of not very many people admiring the Marbles right from the start. While fellow poet Lord Byron attacked Lord Elgin for taking the sculpture from Athens. More about Byron: here.

When sculpture from the Aegina temple, still older than the Parthenon, became first known in Germany, famous author Goethe did not like it, as it did not conform to his preconceived ideas of what Greek art should be.

Bronze Horse Head Hints at Roman Ambitions in Germany: here.

MSU art professor’s theory about ancient decorating choices casts new light on Roman paintings: here.

Why the ancient Greeks and Romans reclined for a meal: here.

Roman coins discovered in Egypt

Coin of Valens

Reuters reports:

Egypt coin finds shed light on Roman past

Posted Mon Apr 14, 2008 9:39am AEST

Archaeologists have discovered two gold coins in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula dating to the era of Eastern Roman Emperor Valens.

The coins are the first of their kind to be found in Egypt, the country’s antiquities council said.

The Supreme Council for Antiquities said excavations at a site west of St Catherine’s monastery in Sinai unearthed two coins containing images of Valens, who ruled the Eastern Roman Empire from 364 to 378 AD.

Valens attacked the Visigoths in 378 AD near Adrianople in a battle often viewed as marking the start of the collapse of the Western Roman Empire.

The Gothic cavalry routed the Romans, killing over 20,000 people, including Valens.