Archive for January, 2013

Piecing together Diogenes of Oinoanda

A new blog from the author of Antiochepedia:

Diogenes was an Epicurean Greek from the 2nd century AD who carved a summary of the philosophy of Epicurus onto a portico wall in the ancient city of Oenoanda in Lycia. The surviving fragments of the wall, which originally extended about 80 meters, 25,000 words long and filled 260 square meters of wall space. Less than a third of it has been recovered.

It sounds like a useful project:

The purpose of this blog is to gather together the disparate representations on the great inscription at Oinoanda so it will be accessible to the general public.

From my diary

I’ve started to look at the material on the earliest Mithraic monuments.  This is frustrating, because of what I know is online and cannot see!  Thus I cannot see pp.34-35 of Beck on Mithraism, even though I know it is online.  If you can, and feel like sending me some screen grabs, I would be grateful.*

Meanwhile my attention has been drawn to the mysterious Kerch plaques, which show a bull-killing but not a familiar one.  This led me to look at the CIMRM.  From this I learn that Derewitzky, Das Museum der Kaiserlich Odessaer Gesellschaft, vol. 2, 1898, contains useful material on p.10 f., and plate V, 1.  Again … I can’t access the dratted thing.  I wonder whether that is because I am in the UK, and so “Outside The Wall of Knowledge”; or whether the book simply isn’t online.  Rats!

Not that I am the only one to have this problem.  Vermaseren himself, in CIMRM 10, describes a report of a find of a Mithraeum at Aitador in the Crimea, and adds:

This sanctuary of the Persian god is said to have been published by Rostovtzeff in IIKA[1] 40, 1911, 1 ff;, but up to now we have not yet succeeded in consulting this article.

I suspect Vermaseren would envy my access to materials online, tho.  A little searching, a bit of Google “did you mean to search for” something incomprehensible in Russian, a list at AWOL, and I find that vol. 40, 1911, here.

Wonder if I can get much out of this, using Google Translate…!

UPDATE: Blasted thing is in DJVU format, and with a website name as “watermark”.  So I can’t export the thing for character recognition.  Let me try printing it – I have the Adobe PDF driver installed and should be able to “print to PDF”.

The table of contents says that the article is about “Thracian gods”.

UPDATE: Sadly the resolution in the DJVU is too low to get any OCR to work.  Rats!

* Got it – thanks!

  1. [1] =”Izvesti ja imperatorskoi kommissii archeologiceskoi. See also CR Comm. Arch. Petersbourg”, or so Vermaseren says.

A truly nasty IE9 bug: “” doesn’t work any more!

I apologise to my non-techie readers.  But this issue cost me a couple of hours of my life, and I can’t find anything about it on the web.  So I feel morally obliged to write something.

Yesterday a kind reader drew my attention to some mysterious behaviour in the new Mithras pages.  Lines that contained a hyperlink were being split.  <div> tags were mysteriously moving to the next column.  Unordered list tags (<ul>) were displaying an extra blank line at the top.

After some debugging, and removing all the styling, I got the code necessary to produce the problem down to a small fragment:

<!doctype html>
<html>
<head>
<title>some title</title>
</head>
<body>
<a name="top"/>
<ul>
<li><a href="#second_header">1. second header</a></li>
<li><a href="#third_header">2. third header</a></li>
</ul>
 </body>    
</html>

And this gave the result:

And why, oh why, does this very standard boiler-plate code give an extra “dot” in IE9?  It doesn’t in Chrome or Firefox.

Believe it or not, the answer is the <a name… /> tag, what is called the “destination anchor”.  If you change it thus:

<a name="top"></a>

It all works!  You get what you should get, this:

I am quite frustrated about this.  I mean, did Microsoft actually test IE9 at all?

Once I made this change, all — and I mean all — the weird formatting errors went away.  They had nothing to do with CSS, or <div> tags, or inline-blocks.

HTML has got really very complex these days.  Doing CSS is almost impossible unless you do it all the time; most people just copy and paste bits.  It is all so far away from the days when HTML won acceptance by being easy.

UPDATE: I think that the problem is that IE9 simply supposes that the “<a name=…>” tag has not been ended.  It just ignores the “/>”.  So it carries on, rendering the HTML, until it encounters another anchor tag.  This will most likely be a link: “<a href=…>.  At this point, it throws a paragraph break (why?), resets itself and carries on.  And this is why you get random problems further down in the HTML.

The reason why my ordered list, above, had an extra “dot” is that the entries in the list were hyperlinks.  So IE9 found the start of the first one, went “eek! panic! panic!”, threw a paragraph break (thereby splitting the list into two and creating an empty entry) before gathering itself up and carrying on.  The problem does NOT manifest unless the ordered list contains the links.

For some reason this can also affect DIV’s and IMG tags, but I have not sought to bottom out how and why.

Finding the limits of the internet

I’ve just added a page to my new Mithras site for CIMRM 1083.  This monument is perhaps the most complicated and well-preserved example of a carving of Mithras killing the bull.  It shows all sorts of events from his (unknown) mythology in side panels.  In other words, it’s a gem.  Vermaseren states that just about every book that ever mentions Mithras includes a photograph of it.  It’s famous.  It’s the classic representation.  It comes from the Nida-Heddernheim Mithraeum no 1, and apparently it’s in a museum in Wiesbaden.

Yet … I have been quite unable to find any photographs of it on the web!  Yes, the internet doesn’t have the classic relief of Mithras doing his Mithras-act.

It is worth reminding ourselves that what is online may be very skewed.  We tend to judge by availability.  Yet here we have an example where the internet is distorting the message, by omitting something really, really important.  It leads to the general question: how is the internet misleading us?

Here’s Vermaseren’s image of it, for your reference:

The Dura-Europos military calendar (“feriale duranum”)

I wonder how many of us were aware that the excavations at Dura-Europos also included a papyrus with a  military calendar on it?  I certainly never was.  Its shelfmark is PDura 54, and it is held at the Beinecke library in the USA.  As with all papyri there are gaps, of course.  But the item indicates what sort of events were officially marked by a garrison in the third century, in the reign of Alexander Severus (“our lord Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander”).  As such, it gives a glimpse into garrison life.

A transcription of the Latin text is here.  Details and photographs are here.  A translation is online in Google Books preview here.[1]  Since these previews can be a bit transitory, and a lot of people will not click through anyway, I thought that I would reproduce it here.

* * *

Column I

The Kalends of January:…

3 days before the Nones of January: because vows are discharged and announced, and for the safety of our lord Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander Augustus and for the everlasting empire of the Roman people, to Jupiter Optimus Maximus a male ox, to Juno a female ox, to Minerva a female ox, to Jupiter Victor a male ox, … to Father Mars a bull, to Mars Victor a bull, to Victory a female ox …

7 days before the Ides of January: because honourable discharge is granted to those who have served out their time along, with the right of privileges; also because salaries are paid out to the soldiers, to Jupiter Optimus Maximus a male ox, to Juno a female ox, to Minerva a female ox, to Safety a female ox, to Father Mars a bull…

6 days before the Ides of January: for the birthday of the divine empress …, to the divine … public prayer.

… days before the Ides of January: for the birthday of Lucius Seius Caesar, father-in-law of the Augustus, a male ox to the genius of Lucius Seius Caesar, father in-law of the Augustus.

9 days before the Kalends of February: for the birthday of the divine Hadrian, to the divine Hadrian a male ox.

5 days before the Kalends of February: for the Arabian and Adiabenine and most great Parthian victories of the divine Severus and for the start of the reign of the divine Trajan, to Parthian Victory a female ox, to the divine Trajan a male ox.

1 day before the Nones of February: for the start of the reign of the divine Antoninus Magnus …, to the divine Antoninus Magnus a male ox.

The Kalends of March: for the rites of the birthday of Father Mars Victor, a bull to Father Mars Victor.

1 day before the Nones of March: for the start of the reign of the divine Marcus Antoninus and of the divine Lucius Verus, to the divine Marcus a male ox, to the divine Lucius a male ox.

3 days before the Ides of March: because emperor Caesar Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander was acclaimed emperor, to Jupiter a male ox, to Juno a female ox, to Minerva a female ox,… to Mars a male ox; and because emperor Caesar Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander Augustus was first acclaimed emperor by the soldiers …, public prayer.

1 day before the Ides of March: because Alexander, our Augustus, was acclaimed Augustus, pater patriae and pontifex maximus, public prayer; to the genius of our lord Alexander Augustus a bull.

Column II

14 days before the Kalends of April: for the day of the festival of the Quinquatria, public prayer; through to 10 days before the Kalends, the same public prayers.

I day before the Nones of April: for the birthday of the divine Antoninus Magnus, to the divine Antoninus a male ox.

5 days before the Ides of April: for the start of the reign of the divine Pius Severus, to the divine Pius Severus a male ox.

3 days before the Ides of April: for the birthday of the divine Pius Severus, to the divine Pius Severus a male ox.

II days before the Kalends of May: for the birthday of the eternal city of Rome, to the eternal city of Rome a female ox.

6 days before the Kalends of May: for the birthday of the divine Marcus Antoninus, to the divine Marcus Antoninus a male ox.

The Nones of May: for the birthday of the divine Julia Maesa, to the divine Julia Maesa public prayer.

6 days before the Ides of May: for the Rose festival of the standards, public prayer.

4 days before the Ides of May: for the games of Mars, to Father Mars the Avenger a bull.

12 days before the Kalends of June: because the divine Pius Severus was acclaimed emperor by to the divine Pius Severus.

9 days before the Kalends of June: for the birthday of Germanicus Caesar, public prayer to the memory of Germanicus Caesar.

1 day before the Kalends of June: for the Rose festival of the standards, public prayer.

5 days before the Ides of June: for the festival of Vesta, to Mother Vesta public prayer.

6 days before the Kalends of July: because our lord Marcus Aurelius Severus Alexander was acclaimed Caesar and donned the toga of manhood, to the genius of Alexander Augustus a bull.

The Kalends of July: because Alexander, our Augustus, was first elected consul, public prayer.

4 days before the Nones of July: for the birthday of the divine Matidia, to the divine Matidia public prayer.

6 days before the Ides of July: for the start of the reign of the divine Antoninus Pius, to the divine Antoninus Pius a male ox.

4 days before the Ides of July: for the birthday of the divine Julius, to the divine Julius a male ox.

10 days before the Kalends of August: for the day of the festival of Neptune, immolatory public prayer.

The Kalends of August: for the birthday of the divine Claudius and the divine Pertinax, to the divine Claudius a male ox, to the divine Pertinax a male ox.

The Nones of August: for the games of Safety, to Safety a female ox. … before the Kalends of September: for the birthday of Mamaea Augusta, mother of our Augustus, to the Juno of Mamaea Augusta … … for…

… before the Kalends of September: for the birthday of the divine Marciana, to the divine Marciana public prayer.

Column III

1 day before the Kalends of September: for the birthday of the divine Commodus, to the divine Commodus a male ox.

7 days before the Ides of September …

14 days before the Kalends of October: for the birthday of the divine Trajan and for the start of the reign of the divine Nerva, to the divine Trajan a male ox, to the divine Nerva a male ox.

13 days before the Kalends of October: for the birthday of the divine Antoninus Pius, to the divine Antoninus Pius a male ox.

… before the Kalends of October: for the birthday of the divine Faustina, to the divine Faustina public prayer.

9 days before the Kalends of October: for the birthday of the divine Augustus, to the divine Augustus a male ox.
[...] of November [...]
[...] the Kalends [...]

Column IV

16 days before the Kalends of January ……. public prayer; through to

10 days before the Kalends the same …

  1. [1] Olivier Hekster, Rome and Its Empire: A.D. 193-284, p.127-9.

From my diary

I’ve continued to work on the new site about the Roman cult of Mithras.  I’ve added some more monuments to the page of selected monuments.

Butr today I went through the section on the main page about initiation into the mysteries, and looked up all the material and checked it.  The results were not that encouraging.  It wasn’t wildly wrong… but it wasn’t that good.  The new version is quite a bit different from the version that was there yesterday, particularly when it comes to footnotes.

This material was based on the last reliable version of the Wikipedia Mithras article, which I contributed to very largely before it was hijacked and poisoned by a troll with the support of a couple of corrupt administrators.  So I thought it was reasonably reliable.  It didn’t feel grossly wrong, even to me.  But of course there was stuff that I had never checked, even in the days when I worked on Wikipedia.

My eye fell particularly on the table of grades of initiation, supposed symbols, and the god / planet for each.  It took very little reading in the literature to realise that the data was from two different sources, and that this fact was not made clear.  The “symbols” were often not really right.  When they were right, the author had not realised that two of the three symbols related to the god, not to the grade of initiation.

Another crass error was a reference to “colitores”.  But the term (a version of cultores) only appears in inscriptions to Jupiter Dolichenus.  The author of the material had simply lost control of his syntax, thereby confusing the reader.

It may seem like small stuff but, as ever, I came away discouraged as to the likely reliability of any Wikipedia article.  How many people can afford to spend several hours verifying a relatively short paragraph of text?

Worrying.  Still, the version on my new site is pretty solid.

Islamic criminals take down Egyptology web sites: TPTB take no action.

I learn from Paleobabble that a particularly nasty bit of cyber-violence has been going on.  It seems that Moslem groups in Egypt have been running attacks on the Egyptology sites edited by Kate Phizackerly and others, notably the KV64 news blog, on discoveries in the Valley of the Kings, and their new project, the Egyptological magazine.  The sites have gone off-line.

On the former there is the message:

Following on from the problems at Egyptological I have taken the reluctant decision to close this blog as well for the foreseeable future.  Many thanks for your support over the years.

Mike adds:

As her words indicate, Kate was also one of the forces behind the online journal Egyptological, which was recently discontinued due to hacking efforts on the part of radicalized Islamic elements in Egypt. Apparently the KV64 blog was also incompatible with those elements. Another loss for free speech in Egypt.

Here I must disagreed with Mike.  There never was free speech in Egypt, except under British rule.  It was a despotism before that period, and ever since.  The issue is free speech online.  Free speech for us.  Here in the west.  Now.

A bunch of violent scumbags from the back-end of nowhere, who never have contributed in any way to the web, have successfully interfered with the scientific effort of the entire human race.  And our masters, The Powers That Be, who live very well on our taxes, they say … nothing.  It’s OK, apparently.  So next year, there will be more.

The selfish scum who did this care nothing about Egyptology, of course.  They only care about their own wishes, and whether they will get caught.  They’re criminals, in other words; because that more or less defines the word “criminal” and his activity.  These sorts of people are why we have policemen in real life, and why we need them.  Now they are doing their evil deeds online.

It seems to me that criminal activity on the web is now threatening all of us who contribute to it.  It is becoming very risky to contribute online under your own name.  The criminals will try to smear you online, and if possible damage your business thereby.  Cowardly employers will see the lies, and shy away.  Any of us can be harmed by this kind of thing.  What can we do?  I would discourage anyone from posting online under their own name.  But of course the malicious love to “reveal” identities that they themselves have forced people to hide.

We must all wish Kate and her team well.  They went the extra mile, they contributed, they helped others.  Well done, people!

UPDATE: I have just found the announcement about the attacks on Egyptological here.

Kate and Andrea are very sad to announce that Egyptological will be unavailable for the forseeable future.  It has been targeted by a professional hacking group as part of an onslaught on Egypt-related web sites during the current unrest in Egypt.

Although we have been in negotiations with the hackers, which seemed to be going well, they have now announced their intention of resuming hostilities against us.  They apparently see Egyptology sites such as ours as representing a form of political threat.

Until we have been able to assess the level of damage inflicted upon our backup solution, and have been able to devise a new strategy for the future security of Egyptological, our site will remain unavailable.  We do not expect it to be recovered until the end of January.

Please be aware, however, that we are fully committed to restoring Egyptological to its former state, together with the latest unpublished edition of the Magazine, and we are investigating the possibility of publishing a temporary archive at an earlier date.

We recommend that anyone with similar web sites should upgrade their own security arrangements, as you may now be interpreted as representing a political or religious affiliation.

Kind regards from both of us

Andrea Byrnes and Kate Phizackerley
Egyptological

Sadly they were unable to recover the situation.

UPDATE: A post has appeared from Drs Byrnes and Phizackerley here.  Evidently some people have been in touch to try to find out who the guilty parties are.  Drs B. and P., quite naturally, do not want to get involved.

There seem to be suggestions that Andrea and I know the affiliation of those who hacked us. We don’t and by policy I haven’t speculated. Part of the reason for my reticence is that some, although not all, of the hackers have been polite to us. In particular, at no point did the hackers claim association with any religion.

We are grateful for the offers of assistance, thank you. … I am however reluctant to  share any further details of what has happened with anybody to avoid  the risk of a third party politicising the issue.

By policy Egyptological was apolitical and respectful of all religions. If there is to be any future, we will retain those principles. And perhaps the times when principles matter most are in the face of adversity.

Someone should be able to work out precisely who the attackers are, and remove all doubt.  That would seem the first thing for the technically minded to determine.

It is, admittedly, extremely hard to think of any other group in the world likely to attack archaeological sites (in both senses of the word).  But of course I am entirely willing to learn different.  Who else could possibly do such a thing?

New translation of the Coptic Apocalypse of Elijah online in English

Dr Anthony Alcock writes to say that he has made a new English translation of the Coptic text of the Apocalypse of Elijah.[1]  This is a curious text.  There is a fragmentary Jewish version and it was probably rewritten as a Christian apocryphon in the 3rd century A.D.  Some have suggested syncretism with ancient Egyptian ideas as well.[2]  Charlesworth’s notes on this text may be found at the Early Jewish Writings site here.[3]

Here is a PDF of the new translation.

I think we may all be grateful to Dr Alcock for translating it and making it accessible to us.  More please!

  1. [1] I find a previous translation online here, although I am unclear where this comes from.  Charlesworth refers to
  2. [2] Abstract of paper by Oliver Jackson, here.
  3. [3] From The Pseudepigrapha and Modern Research, pp.  95-97: “

    Two works bear this name and should be distinguished as 1 Elijah and 2 Elijah.     The first is extant in Coptic fragments which were edited by G. Steindorff     (Die Apokalypse des Elias [TU 17] Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1899) and translated     into English by H. P. Houghton (“The Coptic Apocalypse. Part III, Akhmimice: ‘The Apocalypse of Elias,’” Aegyptus 39 [1959] 179-210). There     are also a few minor excerpts and fragments in Greek which are reprinted by A.-M. Denis (no. 23, pp. 103f.).  In its present form the pseudepigraphon is Christian and dates from the third century. Most scholars concur that it derives from an earlier Jewish work, and J.-M. Rosenstiehl (no. 706, pp. 9, 75f.) concludes that the Grundschrift     was composed in Egypt during the first century B.C.”

From my diary

For the last week or so, I have been adding extra material to the new Mithras site from inscriptions and monuments.  I’ve been concentrating on the section on British monuments in Vermaseren’s CIMRM (collection of Mithraic monuments).  It’s been really quite interesting, ferretting around in Google Books trying to find this article or that book, which might have a picture of the item.

Of course most of the monuments are of no special interest.  Which leads one, inevitably, to the question of which monuments are important, and how to highlight these.

Not that I need worry about that too much just yet!

From my diary

I spent some time yesterday hunting for volume 4 of Archaeologia Aeliana, published in 1846.  This may contain an account of the discovery of the Rudchester Mithraeum, and so I wanted to read it.

Sadly Google Books is really bad at handling series.  Archive.org generally is better, but I couldn’t find that specific volume.  Rather frustrating, that.

On a more positive note, I found that the Journal of Roman Studies is in JSTOR.  These days that means that I can access it!

UPDATE:  It seems that Rudchester was known as “Rutchester” in the 19th century – all these places along Hadrian’s Wall are little more than farms — and a search for “Rutchester Mithras” in Google Books took me straight to … Archaeologia Aeliana volume 4!  I enclose the link for other frustrated searchers.  Come on, Google; why not help us here?