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Etruscans  

Nigel Spivey

Etruscans (Tyrsenoi, Tyrrheni, Etrusci) dominated much of Italy throughout most of the first millennium bce. Geographically, their presence can be traced from the Adriatic coast to Campania; their principal centres, however, were located in territory between Rome to the south and Florence to the north, on the western side of the Apennines. (The “Tyrrhenian Sea” usually refers to waters extending from Sicily up to the Gulf of La Spezia.) The Etruscans have a reputation for mystery generated to a large extent by the fact that their language was radically different from both Greek and Latin (see etruscan language). Substantial and consistent ancient written sources for Etruscan history have not survived; nonetheless, modern research has gone some way towards clarifying our vision of a society that, while heavily influenced by the Greeks, and eventually subsumed by the Romans, was politically and culturally autonomous.There were contradictory theories in antiquity about the ethnic origin of the Etruscans, with one Greek narrative (Hdt.

Article

landscapes, Roman  

Kim Bowes

Roman landscapes exhibited enormous diversity, from the rolling hills of the Mediterranean heartland, to Nile marshlands, Apennine mountain pastures, and African pre-deserts. New work on this diversity has demonstrated the intensive methods with which they were managed for agriculture and artisanal output, as well as their highly periodized histories. While much debate in the study of these landscapes has revolved around ancient climate change, more apparent is robust human intervention, which often reached a peak during the Roman period. Romans thought deeply about landscapes, and their literature and religious rituals used landscape to frame moral, religious, and political values.

Unlike the landscapes of the Greek city states, those encompassed by the Roman empire at its height were diverse in the extreme. Among the empire’s territories were the pre-desert regions of Tripolitania and the Syrian frontier, the mountain pastures of the Apennines, and the marshes of the Egyptian oases, not to mention the rolling limestone landscapes of the Mediterranean heartland. Even within smaller slices of these territories (and even within tiny micro-regions), new work has revealed the remarkable diversity of vegetation, sunlight, rainfall, and topography. It is the plurality of these landscapes that gave Romans material for a rich tradition of literary and religious expression as well as a vast and intensive apparatus for economic exploitation.

Article

gardens  

Katharine T. von Stackelberg

Gardens in the Greek and Roman world were both important cultural spaces and essential contributors to the Mediterranean food economy. Originally dedicated to producing useful household plants for the farm, the garden (kēpos, hortus) developed into a highly desirable urban and suburban amenity that combined productive, leisure, and religious space. Gardens’ association with the paradeisos enclosures of Persian and Hellenistic kings also encouraged their use as status symbols that signaled wealth and power. Gardens were also used as spaces of philosophical engagement and religious activity. They serve as an index of colonial and imperialist practice, reflecting the expansion of Greek and Roman territory through the introduction of new plants, and the use of Hellenizing and Orientalizing art and architecture. As cultivated places defined by their proximity to architecture, gardens emerged as an ideal space to explore the intersection between art and nature represented in the idea of the locus amoenus (‘pleasant place’) and the culture of the Roman villa.

Article

food and drink  

Erica Rowan

The ancient Graeco-Roman diet was based on cereals (Gk. sitos, Lat. frumentum) but supplemented and flavoured by a wide variety of legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs, meats, other animal products, fish, and other seafood. The Greeks used the generic term opson for food eaten with bread or other cereal products. Olive oil and wine were important sources of fats and calories for those living within the Mediterranean climatic zone. In the more northern regions of the Roman Empire and in Egypt, beer was the more common beverage. Most of the meat consumed in the ancient world came from the major domesticates. Garum or fish sauce was eaten in the Greek world but became ubiquitous during the Roman period and was shipped all over the empire. A huge array of fish and shellfish were eaten, fresh where possible but also salted, at both coastal and inland sites. Food in the Greek and Roman world served a multitude of purposes in addition to basic sustenance and human survival. Particular items such as figs, olives, barley, and emmer wheat were strongly connected to notions of Greek and Roman identity. Wealth, status, education, and cultural belonging were displayed through food, and foodstuffs appear frequently in all forms of Greek and Roman literature. Food was also a popular subject in art, and numerous mosaics depict raw ingredients and agricultural scenes. The field of ancient food studies originally explored diet through the ancient textual sources and often focused on the grain supply to Rome. Since the 1980s, however, it has evolved to incorporate all manner of archaeological and environmental evidence to explore a wider array of topics that includes animal sacrifice, non-elite diet, regional and chronological dietary variation, gender, economics, and identity.

Article

Antikythera Mechanism  

Alexander Jones

The Antikythera Mechanism (National Archaeological Museum, Athens, inv. X 15087) was a Hellenistic gearwork device for displaying astronomical and chronological functions. Substantial but highly corroded remains of the instrument were recovered from an ancient shipwreck (see Figure 1).

The most complex scientific instrument to have survived from antiquity, it resembled the sphaerae or planetaria described by Cicero (1) and other Greco-Roman authors. The date of its construction is in dispute but must have been earlier than the middle of the 1st centurybce and can scarcely have been before the end of the 3rd centurybce. It is an invaluable witness for ancient mechanical technology at its most advanced level (see mechanics) as well as for Hellenistic astronomy.

Article

ships, Bronze Age  

Shelley Wachsmann

During the Bronze Age, ships and seafaring capabilities transformed the Mediterranean and Red Seas from insurmountable barriers to highways over which cultures communicated for a variety of reasons. Watercraft were essential to the development of maritime cultures in the Bronze Age. Our knowledge of these vessels derives primarily from contemporaneous iconography, but also from remains of the actual vessels and from texts. Each culture developed ships and boats that best suited their individual needs based on the availability of materials and local traditions.Ships and boats played a pivotal role in the Bronze Age Mediterranean, both on inland waterways and at sea. Virtually everything made or used by humans travelled in some way by watercraft, which allowed cultures to interact over vast distances through exploration, trade, warfare, piracy, and migration. Acquiring copper and tin was of primary importance, and in the late 2nd millennium bce the shape of some ingots, termed “oxhide ingots,” was particularly suited for ship transportation. Militarily, ships could be used as mobile fighting platforms during battles, but more commonly they served for coastal raiding and as naval transports for men and supplies. It is impossible to understand the Mediterranean Bronze Age world without taking into consideration the influence of .

Article

Mycenaean civilization  

Jeremy Rutter

Mycenaean civilization takes its name from the hilltop citadel of Mycenae in the Argolid, celebrated in Homer’s epics as “rich in gold” and the capital of Agamemnon. In 1876, Heinrich Schliemann, fresh from his excavations at Troy, which in his view had established the historical reality of the Greeks’ legendary siege and sack of that city, unearthed five astonishingly rich tombs at Mycenae and claimed them to contain the burials of Agamemnon and his followers, thus inaugurating the study of Greece’s Late Bronze Age (LBA) past. One and a half centuries of subsequent fieldwork have exposed the remains of hundreds of settlements and thousands of tombs characterized by the distinctive material culture termed Mycenaean that flourished for over six centuries (c. 1700–1050 bce). This lengthy duration of the mainland Greek LBA (better known as the Late Helladic [LH] or Mycenaean era) is conventionally subdivided into three major stages of development: pre-palatial or early Mycenaean (LH I–IIB; c.

Article

Eleutherna  

Antonis Kotsonas

Eleutherna is an ancient city on the Aegean island of Crete. It is located 25 km (15.5 miles) south-east of the modern city of Rethymno and is adjacent to the villages of Eleutherna and Ancient Eleutherna. The ancient site is centred on a narrow, long hill located between the north-western foot of Mount Ida and the north coast of Crete. The hill rises to 340 m (1,115 feet) above sea level, extends in a north to south direction, is flanked by two streams, and overlooks lowland areas extending northwards to the Aegean Sea.The name Eleutherna derives from the name of one of the Cretan daemons called Kouretes (Steph. Byz., s.v. Ἂωρος, Ἐλευθεραί, Ἐλεύθερνα). According to Stephanus of Byzantium, Aoros and Saoros were earlier names of the city, while Apollonia was a later one (Steph. Byz., s.v. Ἂωρος, Ἀπολλωνία κγ´, Ἐλευθεραί).Greek mythology considered Eleutherna as the home of Linus, son of .

Article

Lyktos  

Antonis Kotsonas

Lyktos (or Lyttos, from the Classical period on) is an ancient city on the island of Crete. It is located on the central part of the island, a short distance to the east of the modern town of Kastelli Pediadas and close to the village of Xydas (also spelled Xidas). The ancient site occupies a double acropolis which is part of the northwest foothills of the Lasithi mountains, and is crowned by two modern chapels. The acropolis of Lyktos rises to an elevation of over 600 m (2,000 ft) and overlooks the fertile plain of Pediada. The name Lyktos may refer to the highland location of the site (Steph. Byz., s.v. Λύκτος).The history and culture of Lyktos is amply documented in ancient literature and epigraphy (I.Cret. I xviii), to a degree which is unusual for any Cretan city. Indeed, Lyktos has produced the second largest epigraphic record from anywhere on Crete (after .

Article

Biblical Archaeology  

Aren Maeir

Biblical archaeology is defined as the study of the archaeological remains of the peoples, cultures, and periods in which the biblical texts were formed. While in the past biblical archaeology was often seen as an ideologically motivated field of inquiry, currently, a balanced and scientifically advanced approach is common among most practitioners. The large body of research in this field, continuing to the present, provides a broad range of finds, insights, and understanding of the relevant cultures, peoples and periods in which the biblical texts were formed.Biblical archaeology may be defined as the study of the archaeological remains of the regions, cultures, and periods, in which the biblical texts were formed. Modern biblical archaeology does not attempt to prove or disprove the Bible. Rather, archaeological study of the cultures in which the Bible was formed, or which are included in the Bible narratives, can provide a better understanding of the material and intellectual context of the biblical texts. The primary aim, however, is to study the archaeology of these regions, periods, and cultures associated with the Bible, the biblical interface being secondary. Biblical archaeology focuses primary attention on the regions and cultures of the Southern Levant, specifically the region of modern-day Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, and southern Syria. Nearby regions such as Egypt, northern Syria, Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Cyprus, and the Aegean are within its scope of interest. The main chronological focus of biblical archaeology are the periods in which the actual biblical texts were formed and written down—the Iron Age, Persian period, and Hellenistic period for the Hebrew Bible, about .