Friday, October 30, 2009

Protecting Archaeology in Italy, Now by Email

Yesterday I wrote about the upcoming Nov. 13th meeting of the Cultural Property Advisory Committee. I am now getting reports that people have sent in their letters by fax. This is great. I have also heard that messages sent by regular mail will take weeks to arrive. That makes e-mail a good alternative. The address is Attaching a word document to that address is a good idea. Or the fax number is (202) 632–6300 .

Some relevant links.

In 2001 the US and Italy signed a Memorandum of Understanding. You can read that here as a PDF:

Article II of the MoU was amended in 2006. Here's a link:

And as a pdf:

Here's the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affair's (ECA) page for the agreement with Italy:

And, finally, the page for the Cultural Property Advisory Committee:

If you're interested in the topic, it is worthwhile to poke around the ECA site. There is lots of good information there.

But to emphasize my main point, please write a letter. The deadline is Monday, November 2nd so that the may be the best way to communicate. If you have letterhead and no fax machine, make a scan at 8-bit 100 dpi and attach that. Here's the e-mail again: .

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Protecting Archaeology in Italy, Nov. 2nd Deadline

The primary US mechanism for regulating the trade in illegally excavated antiquities is a series of agreements with other countries that specify what can be imported and how the two countries are going to co-operate to promote the preservation of cultural patrimony.

On Nov. 13th, the Cultural Property Advisory Committee, which helps draft and review such agreements, is meeting in Washington, D.C. to consider the Memorandum of Understanding with Italy.

The full-text of the agreement can be found here

The call for the meeting is here: Follow the link at
the top right for more specifics.

The announcement of the meeting includes the following:

"With respect to comments on the interim review of the Memorandum of Understanding Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Italy Concerning the Imposition of Import Restrictions on Archaeological Material Representing the Pre-Classical, Classical and Imperial Roman Periods of Italy, concluded on
January 19, 2001, and extended in 2006, oral comments must be limited to Article II of this MOU."

Article II concerns actions that both the US and Italy are supposed to take to implement the MoU. I am writing now to encourage readers either to write a letter to CPAC commenting on Italy's actions under Article II.

Letters that address specific actions by Italy that fall under Article II and which benefit or affect the writer are the most useful. But the bar is low, so to speak. If you excavate in Italy, have conducted research there, have seen Italian material on loan to American museums, or have used such material in your teaching, that counts.

Discussion of loans is particularly important. Museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Getty Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Princteton University Art Museum, the Morgan Library in NYC, the Meadow Museum at Southern Methodist University and others have Italian material on loan. If you have seen these objects and enjoyed them, please write.

Letters do not need to be long. Without meaning to provide too much unnecessary advice: the opening sentence should say you're writing about the Memorandum of Understanding between the US and the Republic of Italy. Give a brief introduction (I am a teacher/professor/student/archaeologist/member of the public), and then a few examples of personal impact. End with a call for continued co-operation between the two countries.

DEADLINES: letters need to be received on Nov. 2. They can be faxed to (202) 632–6300 or sent to

Cultural Heritage Center,
SA–5, Fifth Floor,
Department of State, Washington,
DC 20522–0505.

Every letter counts so please write if you can.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Anglican Options in the UK

The continuing echo of late antiquity in the modern world is of interest to me. This comes to mind in light of the announcement from the Vatican that it will allow Anglicans to convert while "preserving aspects of their Anglican spiritual and liturgical heritage". I note that there is an alternative that looks back further than the reformation.

The document British Orthodox Heritage Resurgance starts with the paragraph:
For a thousand years, from AD37-45 to AD1054-66, the people living in the British Isles believed and worshipped God as an integral part of the undivided Orthodox Church. That Church was governed world wide by five Patriarchs, those of Constantinople (the Ecumenical Patriarch), Rome, Jerusalem, Antioch and Alexandria. The Church in the British Isles was a local expression of the common Christian Faith held throughout the world. The great saints of the British Isles such as Saint Aidan, Saint David, Saint Patrick, Saint Alban, Saint Chad, Saint Cuthbert, Saint Boniface, Saint Dunstan etc., were all members of that Orthodox Catholic Church in the British Isles which continued for a thousand years.
AD 1054 is, of course, the year of the so-called Great Schism, one of a series of events that lead to the remarkable variety of christian liturgy and doctrine that exists today. While I don't mean to comment on the historicity of the document, I do like the living offering of the pentarchy as a model for modern church government and self-description. Can't we just go back to the Middle Ages?

Brief Thoughts on EPUB Books at Google

I've been playing with downloading epub books from Google. EPUB is a format for digital publication targeted to portable readers. That's not what I care about right now. It is cool that it uses plain old xhtml and standard image formats to represent the contents of a book. That means if you can unpack an EPUB file, which is very easy, you have access to text and images in readily consumable form.

I'm not the first to point this out. See Greg Crane What do you do with a Million Books for early thinking on the large scale implications of Google's work.

In terms of playing, here's what's fun. If you go to the G Books page for H. Chase's Catalogue of Arretine pottery from the MFA, you'll see a link to download the "EPUB" version.

Once you've downloaded that file, it's easy to unpack. I'm a Mac/Linux user. If you are too, and you like the command line, 'unzip Catalogue_of_Arretine_pottery.epub' will do the trick. Otherwise, change the extension to ".zip" and double-click on the file. I'm sure something similar will work in Windows.

Once unpacked, you have two directories, 'OEBPS' and 'META-INF'. The first is the one with all the goodies in it. Open 'OEBPS/images' and you'll see the plates from the book. Those files aren't hi-res, but better than nothing.

The text is the in 'Content-###.xml' files. These can be opened in a browser directly.

As people like Greg have noted, cool things will happen when communities, such as scholars/enthusiasts of the ancient Mediterranean world, take these files and add value to them. In the meantime, I like being able to get at the images, and to have the text on my hard-drive so its available for searching. On the Mac, Spotlight does a good job of indexing the Content files. It also indexes the compressed archives when their extensions are ".zip". It seems to ignore the ".epub" files but I bet that will change soon enough.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Another Video of Upenn Roman Pottery

I'm still enjoying using my phone to shoot video in museums. And I've upgraded my copy of iLife so I can put the clips together with iMovie. That's seems to be good enough for my skill level. The latest product is overviews of a display at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

As I note in the opening frame, these are totally unofficial and personal works. Yes, I'm a Consulting Scholar in the Mediterranean Section and that's why I find myself in the galleries. But I'm just messing around here so don't think worse of the institution because of my low production values.

I'm also still playing around with how to do captions, etc. This time I tried adding "freeze frames". When I get comfortable with what I can do, I'll start adding more informative copy.

I have clips of Upenn Dressel 1's and a Dressel 20 handle/body sherd. And I went to the Brooklyn Museum last weekend. In the past they've had a little bit of Roman pottery on display. But the Egyptian displays keep growing at the expense of later material. I shot some of that and some Bronze Age Cypriot and Minoan vessels. I'll compile and upload those eventually.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Chronology of Phocaean Red Slip (LRC) Hayes 1 and 2

The chronology of Phocaean Red-Slip (LRC) Hayes forms 1 and 2 is turning out to be very important for the work Billur Tekkök and I are doing at Troy/Ilion, in particular when it comes to dating late 4th century building activity at the site. No real surprise there. In the grand scheme of things, Phocaea is near Troy so we should expect to have a fairly complete range of vessels, especially through the early to mid 6th century when the city is still in pretty good shape. An earthquake hits in c. 525 +/- and things seem to get rapidly worse after that. A few PRS Hayes form 10's and a little bit of African Red-Slip, including a Hayes 91d, show that there was ongoing activity at the site but it seems clear that things slow down over the course of the 6th century AD.

In terms of forms, we have lots of Hayes 1s, plenty of Hayes 2's, and many Hayes 3's. We also have a few 5's, vessels near form 6, 8's, a single 9, and a few 10's.

This post isn't about quantities so I'm intentionally using very vague terms. It is about chronology, or rather about the current thinking on the early chronology of the ware. It's just an opening shot so I hereby invoke all the informality that comes with a blog post.

Hayes defined the most widely used typology in 1972 in his Late Roman Pottery (worldcat). He described 10 forms with various subtypes and made frequent reference to his work at the Athenian Agora. Picking from his combination of explicit dating and narrative discussion gives the following date ranges for early PRS (p. 325-329):
Hayes 1a"late fourth-early fifth century."
Hayes 1b"early-third quarter fifth century."
Hayes 1c"uncertain, perhaps first half of fifth century"
Hayes 1d"early-third quarter fifth century"
Hayes 2alate fourth (370) to 450
Hayes 2bNo explicit dates are given for the start of this variant, end falls under the general rubric that form 2 ends by 450.
Hayes 2cEarly variant, "with mid-late fourth century material".

And while we're at it, here are some profile drawings:
Hayes 1a/b from Troy (I17.0647:5)

Hayes 2a from Troy (I17.0647:1)

For more examples go to

Since 1972, the start of form 2 has at times been moved later. This has been done partly on the basis of excavations at San Giacomo degli Schiavoni in Molise (Italy), which documented PRS from a rich early fifth-century cistern fill. The full reference is U.Albarella , V.Ceglia & P.Roberts, S.Giacomo degli Schiavoni ( Molise ): an early fifth century AD deposit of pottery and animal bones from central Adriatic Italy. Papers of the British School at Rome, LXI, 157-230. I'm writing this from home but I do have a photocopy of that article. (Note: why isn't PBSR online? Really, it should be. Or is it and I just don't know about it.)

Jumping ahead a little bit, J. Hayes in his 2009 Agora volume on the imported fine-wares (about which more below), writes of this deposit that it is "coin-dated" (p. 85). Roberts in the article itself writes, "No coins were found, but abundant dating evidence was provided by imported finewares..." (p. 163). Earlier, Albarella writes, "Continuity of occupation through the Imperial period is well documented by and coins...". Question: is there a subsequent publication of a coin from (or clearly dating) the cistern fill? Hayes only references the PBSR article so may overstate the case by calling it "coin dated". Regardless, it's a large deposit (435 vessels identified), with various imports including 33 African Red-Slip (7.5%) and 13 PRS (3%). It certainly shows ARS and PRS circulating together in the early fifth century but I'm not sure it needs to be read as indicating a later start for Hayes 2.

I could offer more references, both to Albarella et al. and to other deposits but I'll instead return to Hayes 2009 (worldcat). Pages 83-88 discuss PRS and offer a substantial update on the chronology presented in LRP. To go along with the narrative, catalog entries 1229 to 1419 are all PRS and there are many profile drawings and a selection of photographs. It's a "don't miss" selection of information about the ware.

Looking to turn Hayes' prose into some relevant dates - some represented as numbers -, I come up with the following:
First appearance of PRS in Agora"...later fourth century, but regular importation seems to coincide with the marked slump seen here in African imports around 390-400... (p. 85)
Form 2 and 3Citing Italian and other sites, "it seems reasonable to conclude that the stamped forms 2 and 3 both originated close to the turn of the century as replacements for two popular African products..." (p. 85)
Form 3f and 3gIn Beirut earthquake horizon of 551.(p. 86)
beginning of Form 10"...the evidence from Lejjun (Jordan) hints at ca. 550..." (p. 86)
"...the continued presence of PRS ware until the mid-7th century seems assured..." (p. 86)
Those are just a few quotes from Hayes' prose introduction to the ware. Turning to the catalog, here are synopses of/snippets from some of the entries that stand out as useful for our work at Troy:

1230A "forerunner" to Hayes 1 dated to the late 3rd/early 4th. This piece is useful for documenting transition from Çandarli/ESC to PRS.
1326 + 1327Form 1 variant. From "Grynnion" workshop? No join between sherds so perhaps not same vessel. "4th Century or later".
1231Form 1 from "Context of second half of 4th century.
1229Hayes 1. "Early(?) variant, in probable Çandarli fabric./Late 4th century. Context of Same date."
1232-1236Main series of Hayes 1's, from first half of fifth or residual in later context.
1237Hayes 2a from "Context of ca. A.D. 400.
1238Hayes 2a dated "Ca. A.D. 400-425."
1239Hayes 2a/b from "Context of ca. A.D. 400+."
1240Hayes 2b "Date later than 1239? Context of ca. A.D. 460-475"
1242Hayes 2c dated "Ca. A.D. 400 to mid-5th century."
1243Hayes 2c from "Context of mid- to late 4th century."
1244+1245Small Hayes 2's both from "Context of late 4th century."
1246+1247Small Hayes 2's both dated to "Ca. A.D. 400 or later."
I've assembled the above tables because when I read the prose introduction, I became concerned that the phrase "the stamped forms 2 and 3 both originated close to the turn of the century" could be become hardened into something like "forms 2 and 3 appear after 400." While this is true for Hayes form 3, I think the appearance of Hayes 2 needs to be kept a little earlier.

As noted, saying so goes against one stream of discussion of form 2. For example, when reviewing C. Abadie-Reynal's volume on the Roman pottery from Argos (worldcat) for BMCR, K. Slane wrote, "Recent work in Corinth confirms that LRC forms 1 and 2 are prevalent in the first half, perhaps even second quarter of the fifth century, rather than in the fourth." I quote the review first because it's readily available online. More in depth discussion can be found in two Hesperia articles: K. Slane and G. Sanders, Corinth: Late Roman Horizons Hesperia 74 (2005), 243-297 (online). To quote:
Assemblage 1 marks the earliest appearance of LRC at Corinth: Hayes forms 1 and 1A, 2B and C, 3.32, and 4 (or 3/4) appear in small quantities with coins of the second quarter and middle of the fifth century and with fifth-century AfRS. Although the amount of AfRS is sharply reduced from what it had been in the fourth century, it is still two or three times as common as LRC. (p. 283)
At the end of the same paragraph, assemblage 1 is dated to 450 or 460. By extension, LRC 1, 1a, 2b, 2c first appear at Corinth in 450 to 460.

In the catalog of this article no. 1.10 on page 251 and fig. 3 is a Hayes 2c similar in profile to Agora XXXII no. 1243, which is said to be from a "Context of mid- to late 4th century." So it looks like the first appearance of 2c at Corinth may post-date its appearance at Athens by 50 years. That's a big gap.

Slane has also published The End of the Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore on Acrocorinth Hesperia 77 (2008), 465-496 (online). The most relevant paragraph is the following:
No additional Late Roman C was identified in the reexamination of the context pottery. The single piece found in the sanctuary remains an intact saucer of form 1D (120, Fig. 2) from the debris overlying the floor of the Roman Propylon (lot 2240).Although progress has been made in establishing that LRC was manufactured at several sites south of Pergamon, including Phocaea,the published dates of LRC still depend heavily on the Athenian deposits.In the West, LRC is rare until ca. 470 and most common in the first half of the 6th century. Earlier forms appear ca. 430 in southern Italy (San Giovanni di Ruoti, San Giacomo degli Schiavoni), and the same forms appear at Benghazi. At Corinth, in the area north
of Buildings 1–7 east of the Theater, LRC forms 1 and 2 occur in approximately equal numbers with form 3B–C, suggesting that importation occurred through most of the 5th century; assemblage 1 from the same area contained form 2 and an early example of form 3.40 The most likely date for 120 therefore remains 425–460. Unfortunately, it is not from what we term “destruction debris.” Because it is intact, I had suggested that it was from one of the late graves, but none were identified so far west on the Middle Terrace. Perhaps it can be associated with the dismantling of the Roman Propylon, which would thus be dated ca. 430–460.
That's a long quote, I admit. But it makes for a good read and it is worth following the footnotes if you have access to the article online or in print. For my immediate purpose, it makes no definitive statements about the start of production of PRS Hayes 2, only about its appearance at Corinth.

As noted above, Slane's BMCR review is of the Roman pottery volume from Argos. What's is going on there. In her introduction to PRS, Abadie-Reynal writes:
La chronologie établie par J. W. Hayes parait généralement confirmée par les trouvailles ultérieure. La date d'apparition de cette production a été fixée dans la seconde moitié du IVe siècle, autour des années 370. Cette production continue jusqu'au VIIe siècle. (p. 176)
Catalog nos. 288, 289, and 290 (17.1.2-4) reference sherds of Hayes 2a, b and c from early fifth century deposits. Cat. no. 292 (17.2.2) is identified as the foot of a Hayes 2. Here's the discussion:
Un exemplaire provient d'un context daté de la fin du IVe siècle. Il est importante car c'est le seul fragment de la forme Hayes 2 qui ait été trouvé à Argos dans un contexte de cette époque. Il confirme donc bien que cette forme a commencé à être utilisée à la fin du IVe siècle, même si la majorité des fragments proviennent d'ensembles du Ve.
This offers a correction to Slane's statement in the BMCR review that "Abadie-Reynal is explicit that all examples of LRC form 2 are found in contexts of the fifth century or later, but a few examples of form 1 seem to be transitional from Çandarli." A foot is not as good evidence as a rim, however.

[Quickly checking the catalog of A. Ivantchik Un puits d'époque paléochrétienne sur l'agora d'Argos BCH 126 (2002), 331-404 (online), gives 2 Hayes 3's and a 4 of the mid-fifth.]

OK. What does all this have to do with Troy/Ilion? We have a Hayes 2 sealed in the construction of a columned portico that was added to an earlier building in the late fourth or early fifth century AD. It's the example illustrated above. The same deposit produced 2 Hayes 1a/b rims, a Hayes 1a base, an ARS H50, and an ARS H53b. I'm repeating two drawings from above, but here they all are together.

Hayes 1a from Troy (I17.0647:4)

Hayes 1a/b from Troy (I17.0647:5)

Hayes 1a base (I17.0648:6)

Hayes 2a from Troy (I17.0647:1)

Hayes African Red-Slip 50a (I17.0647:2)

Hayes African Red-Slip 53b (I17.0647:3)

It's a nice group and its date matters. Building the portico is part of a larger resurgence of activity after a lull in the fourth century. If things don't get going again until after 400, that affects our understanding of how quickly Ilion responded to large-scale phenomena such as the increasing population of Constantinople. Consider this and other issues local, regional and Mediterranean-wide and the date of PRS Hayes 2 matters. Especially if it's after 400 and is the latest dateable sherd in that deposit.

Right now, partly on the basis of I17.0647 and on the basis of the Argos catalog, I think Hayes 2 begins before 400. On a related matter, I think the transition from Çandarli to ESC is a smooth one and that Ilion, even if the fourth century isn't a high-point, continues to receive finewares from the south throughout this transition. But I'm adopting a somewhat informal tone in offering this initial conclusion because I've gathered the evidence as notes on secondary literature and as consideration of the material at Troy. I haven't pursued the dialectic between those sources to a firm end. I'm comfortable I've read pretty much everything but I need to do more photocopying/photographing so that I can get everything in front of me at the same time. More importantly, I think the work will be strengthened if I ask for comments now, so that's mostly what I'm doing.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Attitudes toward Pottery

Partially as a note to myself, here are a few passages from early Christian literature that reveal attitudes towards ceramic vessels:
[Romans 9:21] hath not the potter authority over the clay, out of the same lump to make the one vessel to honour, and the one to dishonour?
[Timothy 2:20] And in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth, and some to honour, and some to dishonour
I'm using Young's Literal Translation because it's out of copyright and because its approach is useful.

More complete in terms of its range of material culture is the following from the so-called Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus:
See not only with thine eyes, but with thine
intellect also, of what substance or of what form they
chance to be whom ye call and regard as gods.
2:2 Is not one of them stone, like that which we
tread under foot, and another bronze, no better than
the vessels which are forged for our use, and another
wood, which has already become rotten, and another
silver, which needs a man to guard it lest it be
stolen, and another iron, which is corroded with rust,
and another earthenware, not a whit more comely than
that which is supplied for the most dishonourable
2:3 Are not all these of perishable matter? Are they
not forged by iron and fire? Did not the sculptor make
one, and the brass-founder another, and the
silversmith another, and the potter another? Before
they were moulded into this shape by the crafts of
these several artificers, was it not possible for each
one of them to have been changed in form and made to
resemble these several utensils? Might not the vessels
which are now made out of the same material, if they
met with the same artificers, be made like unto such
as these?

That's the somewhat archaic sounding translation of J. B. Lightfoot as found on the excellent Early Christian Writings website. The Greek text is available from The Christian Classics Ethereal Library, which is also a terrific resource.

Many more such passages could be cited so take the above as just a small taste from an abundant feast.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

"Mediterranean Ceramics" YouTube Playlist

I've created a "Mediterranean Ceramics" YouTube playlist. Follow that link or use this embedded player:

As always, this is in a spirit of experimentation.

One comment: you'll note that there are no voice overs. The one time guards looked at me funny when I was shooting one of these is when I was making comments about the objects in a case. So I don't do that anymore. Perhaps I'll get round to doing audio tracks in the future.

And let me know if there are any videos that should be added to this list.

FYI: Workshop at Center for Hellenic Studies

This should be interesting:

WORKSHOP: Host your texts on Google in one day

The Center For Hellenic Studies will conduct a one-day workshop at the Center's Washington, D.C., campus, on Monday, Jan. 11, 2010, with the subject: "Host your texts on Google in one day". Bring one or more XML texts to the workshop in the morning, and leave in the afternoon with a running Google installation of Canonical Text Services serving your texts to the internet.

For more information, including how to apply, please see

Feel free to forward this announcement to anyone who might be interested.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Roman Pottery Study Case at the Metropolitan Museum

I'm all for criticizing museums when they buy unprovenanced antiquities, pointing out when they seem to be unduly effected by poorly conceived laws, and praising them when they do a good job of presenting material to the public.

The last applies to the Metropolitan Museum's Greek and Roman study collection. It's true there aren't labels, but there is access for those who can travel to New York. In lieu of that, here's a YouTube video of one case of Roman pottery.

I shot it with my iPhone a little over a week ago. Very unprofessional but perhaps better than nothing.

There are three levels in the case and I move from top to bottom. I've added two annotations. Move to 1:50 to see a box indicating that a bowl is African Red-Slip. I would do more if it were possible to link to non-YouTube web pages. I suppose that's too dangerous in terms phishing, etc. But it would be nice.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Google finds Roman Amphorae

Way back in April 2008 I noted that the excellent resource Roman Amphorae: a digital resource seemed to be hiding itself from Google. See the third paragraph of that post.

Since then, I've written and submitted the chapter "Diversity and Reuse of Digital Resources for Ancient Mediterranean Material Culture" that is forthcoming (2010) in G. Bodard and S. Mahony, eds., Digital Research in the Study of Classical Antiquity from Ashgate. In that I make the same observation about Roman Amphorae. The text was submitted earlier this year, and I noted towards its end that many of the observations I make about digital resources may change since the Internet is a moving target.

Accordingly, I'm very happy to report that Google searches now include Roman Amphorae pages. Try For me, the seventh link goes to the drawings page for that Late Roman form from N. Africa.

An administrator from the Archaeological Data Service was an anonymous reviewer of my paper. Perhaps it made a difference. Or maybe not. That doesn't matter. I'm just happy that the problem has been corrected.