Following up on Becoming Binford, here’s my Binford trading card, along with a nice quote for those who thought the quest for obscurity started with post-modernism.
There was in Athens a house, spacious and open, but with an infamous reputation, as if filled with pestilence. For in the dead of night, a noise like the clashing of iron could be heard. And if one listened carefully, it sounded like the rattling of chains. At first the noise seemed to be at a distance, but then it would approach, nearer, nearer, nearer. Suddenly a phantom would appear, an old man, pale and emaciated, with a long beard, and hair that appeared driven by the wind. The fetters on his feet and hands rattled as he moved them.
Any dwellers in the house passed sleepless nights under the most dismal terrors imaginable. The nights without rest led them to a kind of madness, and as the horrors in their minds increased, onto a path toward death. Even in the daytime–when the phantom did not appear–the memory of the nightmare was so strong that it still passed before their eyes. The terror remained when the cause of it was gone.
Damned as uninhabitable, the house was at last deserted, left to the spectral monster. But in hope that some tenant might be found who was unaware of the malevolence within it, the house was posted for rent or sale.
It happened that a philosopher named Athenodorus came to Athens at that time. Reading the posted bill, he discovered the dwelling’s price. The extraordinary cheapness raised his suspicion, yet when he heard the whole story, he was not in the least put off. Indeed, he was eager to take the place. And did so immediately.
As evening drew near, Athenodorus had a couch prepared for him in the front section of the house. He asked for a light and his writing materials, then dismissed his retainers. To keep his mind from being distracted by vain terrors of imaginary noises and apparitions, he directed all his energy toward his writing.
For a time the night was silent. Then came the rattling of fetters. Athenodorus neither lifted up his eyes, nor laid down his pen. Instead he closed his ears by concentrating on his work. But the noise increased and advanced closer till it seemed to be at the door, and at last in the very chamber. Athenodorus looked round and saw the apparition exactly as it had been described to him. It stood before him, beckoning with one finger.
Athenodorus made a sign with his hand that the visitor should wait a little, and bent over his work. The ghost, however, shook the chains over the philosopher’s head, beckoning as before. Athenodorus now took up his lamp and followed. The ghost moved slowly, as if held back by his chains. Once it reached the courtyard, it suddenly vanished.
Athenodorus, now deserted, carefully marked the spot with a handful of grass and leaves. The next day he asked the magistrate to have the spot dug up. There they found–intertwined with chains–the bones that were all that remained of a body that had long lain in the ground. Carefully, the skeletal relics were collected and given proper burial, at public expense. The tortured ancient was at rest. And the house in Athens was haunted no more.Ghost story from Pliny’s Letters
A story in the Guardian on the Getty Museum, though it’s hardly the only major museum in the world with this problem. SAFE points to the LA Times which has another story, Getting it right at the Getty, talking about the issue.
Had my photo taken with Efrosyni for a Greek paper, Ta Nea, yesterday. I’m the one on the left in glasses. We’re frequently confused for one another. Not by anyone who’s met us both I should add, but for some reason we both get called Efrosyni if she or I gives a paper on our work separately.
The one they’ll probably use is one without the glasses. Though you still can’t see my eyes as they’re nearly closed in the bright sunlight.
Term will be starting soon and a new intake of first years will be wondering what is wanted from an essay. I’ve updated my file, but I may re-write it again before term starts.
Panic. Photo by ckirkman.
I remember panicking at the thought of writing 2000 words when I did my first Ancient History essay, so if you’re still worried with a fortnight to go before the deadline, here’s how I’d tackle a first year essay.
Rule One. This is important. Tattoo it to friend’s head so you don’t forget.
READ THE QUESTION
I was in London today, and thought I’d take a photo for 64 Baker Street, who I know is a fan.
That’s a phrase that grates sometimes. “There could be something in it.” It doesn’t seem to matter what outrageous tale you make up, it doesn’t take too long before you find someone who’ll gently shake their head, hmm and say “Well, there could be something in it.”
This does crop up as a phrase from graduates in Archaeology and Ancient History from most universities that I’ve met. Interestingly I often hear in association to claims about Atlantis or Pyramids on Mars. Obviously the Face on Mars isn’t an actual face, but there could be something in it. If readers from the hard sciences are feeling unduly smug, I also struggled with a Physics post-doc who was convinced that interbreeding with aliens was a possibility, when we find them. We share no DNA with alien life, if it exists. We do however share something like 47% of our DNA with cabbages (I think that the figure varies a lot depending on how you measure it). A Human-cabbage hybrid would seem more likely. You can insert a joke about the politician of your choice here.