Friday, January 29, 2010

A new Concordia term: "where" (needed for linking papyri to Pleiades resources)

In discussions this week with Sean and Hugh, we explored what would be minimally necessary for web feeds describing the papyrological documents now being surfaced via

In the long term, we'd like to link not only to descriptive resources (at Pleiades or elsewhere) for their modern places of finding but also any ancient places attested in the texts themselves (having done named-entity analysis on all 50,000+ documents, the first steps in which are now underway by Mark Depauw and the Trismegistos team in Leiden).

In the near term, we can express geographic linkages on the basis of the nome attributions recorded for the papyri by the editors of the Heidelberger Gesamtverzeichnis der griechischen Papyrusurkunden Ägyptens whose records are incorporated into the contents.

But none of the terms we had previously defined in our Concordia link-type thesaurus precisely fit this information. We did have several geographic terms (findSpot, origin, observedAt and attestsTo), but we needed to add a more generic one: "where". The nomes as indicated by HGV are geographical classifications, based on the ancient regions, made primarily for facilitating reference and review by modern scholars. They don't necessarily constitute "find spot" or "place of origin" in every case. This "where" term idea followed naturally from Sean's earlier efforts to advocate for a "where" link relation type. A link in a feed entry using this term will simply indicate that the described resource should be treated as being located, in a general way, at the place described by the linked resource.

Hopefully, this term will be useful not only for, but also for other pre-existing datasets where the location information recorded about ancient artifacts is similarly less precise than the born-digital epigraphic corpora that guided the minting of our initial thesaurus terms. Hopefully it will also prove useful in contexts such as those that Sebastian has recently been blogging about.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

ISAW Exhibitions Musical Performance: Christine & Dinu Ghezzo and Friends

Location: 2nd Floor Lecture Room
Friday, January 22 2010
7:00 p.m.

This special concert will highlight folk and traditional songs from different parts of Romania. Some of the musical traditions included are Colinde (Winter Songs/Carols) , Bocete (Death Laments), Doina (Lyrical Songs) and Wedding Songs. Each song will be presented with sensitivity to traditional methods of interpretation, while bringing in new elements such as sound samples of folk instruments and improvisation by the musicians. The music will express a full spectrum of universal human emotion and experience, while sharing the rich repertoire of Romanian traditional music. Each song will be introduced with a brief description and translation of the words, and time will be set aside for audience questions.

This event is associated with the Lost World of Old Europe exhibition, currently showing at ISAW.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

ISAW Lecture: The Late Copper Age in the East Balkans and the Case of Varna

NYU Institute for the Study of the Ancient World Exhibitions Lecture: Vladimir Slavchev
The Late Copper Age in the East Balkans and the Case of Varna

Speaker: Vladimir Slavchev
Location: 2nd Floor Lecture Room
Date: Thursday, January 21 2010
Time: 6:00 p.m.
*reception to follow

The Varna Necropolis, a cemetery that lies in the western industrial zone of Varna, Bulgaria, is one of the premiere archaeological sites in the world for the research of world pre-history. The massive interest in this cemetery is due to the abundance and variety of objects recovered from its graves, namely gold artifacts. Dr. Slavchev will discuss these grave goods (and the necropolis from which they came) in relation to Varna culture as a whole. The presence of artifacts in a wide range of materials at the cemetery, one of the burial sites of the highly-developed local community that inhabited the shore of Varna Bay at the time, suggests that the community was part of a developed network of medium and long range trading, transport and distribution of prestige items. Dr. Slavchev will argue that the local manufacturing of goods was predominantly aimed at the local community and its needs. Therefore, such prestige items could have functioned as gifts for exchange with neighboring cultures or as goods to be sold in the trading network.

This lecture is associated with the Lost World of Old Europe exhibition, currently showing at ISAW.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Living in the Heights: Hilltop settlement and the changing landscape of northern Hispania during late antiquity

NYU Institute for the Study of the Ancient World Visiting Research Scholar Lecture: Damián Fernández

Speaker: Damián Fernández
Location: 2nd Floor Lecture Room
Date: Tuesday, January 19 2010
Time: 6:00 p.m.
*reception to follow

Hilltop settlement was one of the most prominent characteristics in the landscape of the northern Iberian Peninsula until the Roman conquest. With the establishment of Roman rule in the decades around the turn of the era, several of the pre-Roman hilltop forts were abandoned in favor of a developed network of lowland cities that became the backbone of the regional settlement hierarchy. This process was somewhat reversed after the late-third century CE, when archaeologists have dated the beginning of the occupation of hilltops (and, sometimes, the re-occupation of Iron Age sites). The ‘movement towards the highlands’ has traditionally been interpreted either as reemergence of indigenous social structures that had survived the Roman conquest or as the result of the insecurity provoked by the presence of barbarian armies in the third and fifth centuries.

In the last two decades, piecemeal archaeological research in the northern Iberian Peninsula has begun to provide us with new information about these sites. Their material culture and the more accurate chronology indicate that traditional interpretations about the phenomenon of hilltop occupation are no longer valid. After reviewing some paradigmatic sites, this lecture will offer an alternative model to understanding the change in settlement patterns. It will be argued that occupation of hilltops must be understood in the context of the administrative reforms of the late Roman Empire and the economic changes that occurred in northern Iberia during late antiquity.