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25 August AD 117– The announcement of Hadrian’s accession in Alexandria (#Hadrian1900)

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Republication from  followinghadrian.com,

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One thousand nine hundred years ago on this day, only two weeks after Hadrian’s proclamation in Antioch, the new prefect of Egypt (Praefectus Aegypi), Quintus Rammius Martialis, addressed a circular letter to the strategoi of the Egyptian districts (nomes) announcing the imperial accession of Hadrian and instructing them to declare festivities for ten days.

The document, written in Greek, has been preserved on papyrus (POxy 55.3781). It comes from the Oxyrhynchus Papyri Collection which comprises the papyrus texts excavated by two young Oxford scholars, Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt, in the rubbish dumps outside the Graeco-Egyptian town of Oxyrhynchus in central Egypt in the late 19th and early 20th century. The manuscripts, dating from the 3rd century BC to the 7th century AD, include texts with information about the daily life and the economic affairs of the town as well as a large collection of literary works in Greek and a few in Latin. They were then brought to England and deposited in Oxford. The Egypt Exploration Society owns more than 500,000 papyrus fragments from this site which are now housed in the Sackler Library in Oxford. It is the biggest hoard of classical manuscripts in the world. After more than 100 years since their discovery, the Oxyrhynchus Papyri continue to be reconstructed from fragments and translated at Oxford University.

 Location of Oxyrhynchos in Egypt.
By NordNordWest (Oxyrhynchos map.gif by Yomangani) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

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Palintonon (ballista) heavy catapult

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Detailed diagrams of a gigantic palintonon (παλίντονον), around 334 BC (siege of Halicarnassos), probably by E.W. Marsden. The palintonon was a Hellenic heavy catapult, mostly stone-throwing, which was constructed in various scales (from just heavy to enormous). It was invented and intensively used by the Greeks in the early or mid-4th century BCE but it was soon adopted by the Carthaginians, the Romans and other ancient states. It became a ‘beloved’ weapon for the Republican and Imperial Romans: they called it ‘ballista’, but the correct initial version was ‘ballistra’ (βαλλίστρα), also a Greek term from the verb ‘βάλλω’ that is “to shoot”.

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Book Review: The Byzantine Wars by John Haldon, History Press, 2008

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At times I receive emails with which my readers ask me to suggest to them some studies, treatises, sourcebooks etc for specific issues of history, military history and engineering/architecture. Due to the unfortunate fact that I do not have the time to answer to each one separately (which is why I also had to disable the comments on the posts), I decided to write some reviews on books that I’ve studied on such topics. The Greek readers know that I’ve written two historical novels on Antiquity, so some readers ask me which my favorite historical novels are; thereby from time to time I’ll also suggest some of these works for the English-speaking and German-speaking readers, especially recent ones and some older.
I will start this new section with a military study that is a work by the well known Byzantinologist John Haldon: The Byzantine Wars.          The Byzantine Empire during her very long history, faced a multitude of enemy states, peoples and nomadic hordes, thus developing the characteristic Byzantine warfare, one of the most advanced of its time concerning the entire planet. Her geographical position at the “crossroads of civilizations”, her weighty heritage from both the Roman and the ancient Greek armies and her confrontation with particularly dangerous enemies in all her borders, led her to always maintain a vigorous and well-organized army, an army of the real “imperial” kind.

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Russian scientists use mass spectrometry to ‘look inside’ an ancient Greek amphora

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Republished from MIPT

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Russian scientists have identified the components of the oldest bitumen sample to be found in an ancient vase and made an accurate estimate of its age. In their article in the Journal of Mass Spectrometry, the researchers from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech), the Institute for the History of Material Culture, the Talrose Institute for Energy Problems of Chemical Physics, and the Emanuel Institute of Biochemical Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IBCP RAS) propose a new and more effective approach to organic compound analysis and introduce specially designed software.

Bitumen is a form of petroleum found in natural deposits. Its use dates back to the Stone Age. The word ‘mummy’, for example, derives from the Persian ‘mūm’, or ‘bitumen’, because this substance was used in embalming. The Greeks used bitumen in construction, medicine, and warfare—it is possible that the legendary ‘Greek fire’ was based on bitumen. The oldest amphora filled with bitumen (5ᵗʰ century BCE) was discovered by Russian archaeologists on the Taman Peninsula, a highly volcanically active region (numerous petroleum seeps are located there) and a possible source of the bitumen imported by the Greeks.

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ROME MUST BE DESTROYED (Part II)

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ALEXANDER
Alexander the Great goes ashore in Asia (Minor). Artwork  by Tom Lovell.
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By Periklis Deligiannis
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Continued from PART I

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I go on with some more text from my historical novel “Rome must be destroyed ” which belongs to the sub-category of Historical Fiction. For more info and text, read PART I. A reminder of the plot: Alexander the Great has not died in 323 BC (year of his death in reality). He goes on living and invades Italy, Carthage and the Western Mediterranean. The peoples of those regions (Italians, Carthaginians, Libyans, Celtiberians, Gauls and many others) fight against him under the leadership of Rome, Carthage and Samnium. The hero of my book is not a Greek but a Roman (Aelius Sembronius Vulca), originally a mercenary of Alexander and then an enemy of him. After a series of diplomatic and strategic detours, bloody battles and –finally – total warfare, the war results…..
The first part of the novel (Sogdiana) takes place in the steppes of Central Asia (modern Uzbekistan), the second part (Return) in Italy, the third (Carthage) in Carthage, the fourth and the fifth……
This is the first book of a trilogy that I wrote on this subject.

I apologize in case that the translation in English is not ”literary” enough (or maybe it is!). Copyright is mine, thereby for a probable reproduction of this text, please send to me an e-mail message.

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SOGDIANA

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All the barbarians were dead, except two women. The older one had the common Asiatic appearance. Her heavy wound indicated that she was running out of time. The other woman had an uncanny beauty, a real temptation for us men from the Inner Sea. She was young and diminutive. We were impressed by her narrow slanted eyes that looked like reptilian, her protruding cheek bones in her face below the eyes, her small slender nose and her very pale, almost yellow skin. Her body which was silhouetted below her thin leather dress, appeared to be well formed. Her breasts were small, but firm and well rounded.

I knew that most of the Sauromatae people resembled in appearance to the Asiatics. I now verified from this woman and her other dead comrades, that some resembled to the Serae and the Phryni who live afar in the East, beyond India, around a large Yellow river as they call it. I have seen a few Serae merchants at Farthest Alexandria. They had the same strange appearance and the same yellowish skin. The local Sogdians speaking about them, say that they are exceptionally civilised, their kingdoms are powerful and their armies are worthy of the Greek ones. They may say it to tease the Macedonians!
Volsinius the Campanian who had captured her, was most enchanted by the reptilian-eyed woman.
“That is my trophy!” said with joy. He could not wait for the moment to enjoy her. He dragged her holding her stiffly by the hair, whilst she pounded and kicked him. Three of the soldiers, who were passionately looking at her, approached the young girl. They wanted to taste her … If they wanted her Volsinius was unable to deny. He had the right to enjoy the woman first and keep her for his own, after the others had done with her. However the Italian mercenary did not want to share the girl and he was holding tightly his bloodstained spear. Centauros who had seen the threatening situation spoke.
“We don’t have time for this. We are leaving immediately! “.
“We won’t be long Centauros …” said Numerius.
“The Sauromatae we killed were few. They surely belong to a larger raiding party. Somewhere, close by, more enemies are lurking…. “

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