There is a new life of Hypatia of Alexandria out for a modest price ($30). Hypatia is a figure who has a significant role in modern pop culture (there is even a good film about her!) and polemics about religion, but comes from a place and time which is not as accessible as Socrates’ Athens or Marcus Aurelius’ imperium. But Alexandria in the fourth century CE was a colorful place, full of faction-fights and nations, sects, and languages all jumbled together. So if you want a look at that world by someone who is more interested in the ancient world than scoring points in modern debates, you might want to check it out (you can find a new or used copy on bookfinder).
Edward J. Watts, Hypatia: The Life and Legend of an Ancient Philosopher. Women in antiquity. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017.. Pp. xii, 205. ISBN 9780190210038. $29.95.
Reviewed by Aistė Čelkytė, Underwood International College, Yonsei University (email@example.com)
This monograph, dedicated to reconstructing the life and career of the Alexandrian mathematician and philosopher Hypatia, is part of the Women in Antiquity series. The study has a strong historical focus, so that little is said about Hypatia’s philosophical views, apart from identifying Hypatia as a Plotinian Platonist, that is, one who did not engage in theurgical practices popular among contemporary Platonists. The choice of a historical focus might seem surprising as the evidence for her life is very sparse, but Watts presents a detailed picture of Hypatia’s career by means of innovative use of a large variety of texts. The book is comprised of introduction, ten chapters and concluding remarks.
Manouchehr Moshtagh Khorasani needs funds to print his latest book, on black-powder firearms in Iranian museums. The title will be Persian Fire and Steel: Historical Firearms of Iran. His earlier book, Arms and Armour from Iran, contains a wonderful assortment of information drawn from books and articles in half a dozen languages. It also contained... Continue reading: Cross-Post: New Manouchehr Khorasani Book Crowdfunding
While I can’t pull the lid off Ninkasi’s vat to announce some projects which are still fermenting, today I would like to remind my gentle readers about two other new publications.
First, I have a short article on Marduk and Tiamat in issue 9 of Ancient History magazine. The focus of that issue is on Athens in the fourth century BCE, but there are also articles on Sicilian and Egyptian topics. If you like Peter Connolly’s The Ancient City you will like this issue. Check it out!
Second, I have obtained permission to release a pre-print of my paper on the mnemonic techniques employed in the writings of Fiore dei Liberi, a fencing master from Friuli who died some time after February 1410 CE. It was scheduled for a conference proceedings which was intended to appear in 2014 but which has been delayed. I hope it has something useful for fencers who want to learn more about medieval studies, and medievalists who want to learn more about physical culture. You can download the PDF from my website. (It is not beautifully formatted, because I made it from a PDF of the proofs which I had to convert to LibreOffice to edit then back to PDF to post; I am sorry, but going through the file and correcting the formatting would be very time consuming, and I can’t afford to take that many hours away from my other writing projects).
Back in 2014 I began a project to address a problem which I noticed. Amateur students of armour seemed to have trouble finding written sources, and historians specialized in one period sometimes seemed not to notice things which I saw again and again in the world history of armour. For example, my reading in the world history of prices in general, and armour prices specifically, makes me read the statement that Athenian settlers needed to bring arms worth 30 drachmas differently than some other ancient historians do (for a list of sources, see Van Wees, Greek Warfare: Myths and Realities, p. 52, plus the Salamis Decree from the Acropolis at Athens). From watching the traffic on my blog, I noticed that if you give people a link to sources, many of them will follow it. In my view, making sources available is the single most important thing which historians can do: interpretations change and are a product of our culture, but sources are foreign and reading enough of them makes it hard to have any simple interpretation of history, or believe that people in other cultures and other times think just like we do. But often sources on armour are published in out-of-print books in a handful of libraries, or available in old translations by people who were not especially interested in material culture.
Unfortunately, I have had to put this project aside for two years now, so I think it is time to make sure that my gentle readers know about Armour in Texts.
Matthew Amt’s Greek Hoplite Page (offline as of October 2021 but archived on the Wayback Machine) is pretty well known among people interested in ancient warfare. It might not be as well known that he has been updating it, expanding the bibliography to include some of the new publications on Greek clothing, arms, and armour... Continue reading: Matthew Amt’s Greek Hoplite Page Updates
Issue 7 of Ancient History magazine is now heading to subscribers. It contains something which was not quick to write, but which I think is very important: a summary of some studies in German which ask how many words of text in different ancient languages survive. Do you think that there are about twice as many words of Greek because the green Loebs take up twice as much shelf space as the red ones? Or prefer ten to one like Liddell and Scott guessed? How do Egyptian, Akkadian, and Sumerian fit in? This article explores how those German researchers tried to find an answer, and what that answer is. To my knowledge, their work has never been discussed in plain language in English, so check it out! The article had to be trimmed for space, so in this post I would like to give the sources for a statement. Read more
Ancient Warfare X.4 has reached the borders of Rhaetia. Copies are available here. While some of my publications are stuck at stages between “handing in the manuscript” and “opening the package with my author’s copy,” my latest article for Ancient Warfare is now available. It has ostraca! Bored clerks! Desperate bandits!... Continue reading: The Achaemenid Storehouse At Arad
A typical page from the old JRMES: “after many costly and fruitless experiments” John Duckham wields his 10-cubit lance on horseback https://www.indiegogo.com/project/journal-of-roman-military-equipment-studies/embedded The Journal of Roman Military Equipment Studies used to publish finds of Roman banded armour, reconstructions of Roman saddles, and experiments with sarissas on foot and on horseback. Like... Continue reading: Reviving the “Journal of Roman Military Equipment Studies”
Sword pendant in gilded silver, found in House 40 at Sandby borg. Photo courtesy of Daniel Lindskog. Off the eastern shore of Sweden lies the island of Öland, and on that island fifteen hundred years ago the Ölanders built a ring fort and filled it with halls and silver and sparkling... Continue reading: The Sandby Borg Massacre