‘Bind His Hands’: Curse Tablets and Charioteer Magic in Ancient Sports

Over on the Forbes blog this week, I wrote a bit about how social anxiety can be viewed through magic. In the case of curse tablets involving charioteers, we see an incredible amount of energy invested in sports. The culture of athletic competition and rivalry in chariot racing is not all that different from theContinue reading “‘Bind His Hands’: Curse Tablets and Charioteer Magic in Ancient Sports”

Does NYC’s New 3D Printed Palmyra Arch Celebrate Syria Or Just Engage In ‘Digital Colonialism’?

Over on the Forbes Blog, I discuss the ethics of 3D printing antiquities and the developing practice of “digital colonialism.” These issues have come up yet again with the unveiling of the 3D replica of the Palmyra Arch newly erected in New York City. The problem is with the signage, the lack of methodological transparency, and absenceContinue reading “Does NYC’s New 3D Printed Palmyra Arch Celebrate Syria Or Just Engage In ‘Digital Colonialism’?”

Tattoo Taboo? Exploring The History Of Religious Ink And Facial Tattoos

Over on my Forbes blog, I explore the history of religious tattoos. This post stems from my interest in the use of various stigmas–legal, social, and even corporal–against marginalized individuals. Tattoos in Greco-Roman antiquity were often linked to servility, but could also advertise one’s religious convictions. I spoke with tattoo historian Anna Felicity Friedman about pilgrimage tattoos inContinue reading “Tattoo Taboo? Exploring The History Of Religious Ink And Facial Tattoos”

What Not To Wear: A Short History Of Regulating Female Dress From Ancient Sparta To The Burkini

Over on the Forbes blog, I talk about the history of dress codes for women. As anyone who reads this blog knows, I think a lot about clothing, color, and historical dress. This post is reacting to the recent burkini bans in towns along the French Riviera by mentioning the fact that Sparta, Rome, theContinue reading “What Not To Wear: A Short History Of Regulating Female Dress From Ancient Sparta To The Burkini”

I Wear My Sunglasses at the Fight? The Emperor Nero and the History of Sunglasses

Nero princeps gladiatorum pugnas spectabat in smaragdo. The princeps Nero viewed the combats of the gladiators in a smaragdus. — Pliny, Natural History, 37.16. There are many fantastical stories to be found in Pliny the Elder’s Natural History. Part of the lure of this encyclopedic work is the (often misleading) conviction with which the statesman explored the objects, peoples, and placesContinue reading “I Wear My Sunglasses at the Fight? The Emperor Nero and the History of Sunglasses”

Sacrificial Lambs: Livestock, Book Costs, and the Premodern Parchment Trade

Pliny the Elder remarks on a conflict that arose between King Eumenes of Pergamum and Ptolemy V, the Egyptian pharaoh, around 191 BCE. The naturalist notes the regal rivalry in his section on writing materials from the ancient world (NH 13.21). During an epic battle to build each other’s libraries bigger and faster (would that thisContinue reading “Sacrificial Lambs: Livestock, Book Costs, and the Premodern Parchment Trade”

Martius Madness: On Manliness, Roman Gambling Laws, and NCAA Brackets

We are in the midst of the NCAA March madness tournament in the U.S., and, as NPR reported, the American Gaming Association boasted more NCAA Brackets than number of votes for the next president. Now, I identify as both a UVa Cavalier and a UNC Tar Heel, and so my entire household was glued to the screen yesterday. AsContinue reading “Martius Madness: On Manliness, Roman Gambling Laws, and NCAA Brackets”

Epigraphy Enchiridion: A List of Open Access Books for Teaching Greek and Roman Inscriptions

A famous funerary epigram now at the British Museum (IG XIV, 2131) and dating to the second century CE has a skeleton lying in repose. It reads: “Who can say, passerby, looking on a fleshless corpse, whether it was Hylas (i.e., a beautiful youth) or Thersites (i.e., a bow-legged, ugly man)?” I first learned about this inscriptionContinue reading “Epigraphy Enchiridion: A List of Open Access Books for Teaching Greek and Roman Inscriptions”

Times New Roman: Classical Inscriptions, Epigraphy Hunters, and Renaissance Fonts

The Renaissance (ca. 1330-1600) is often remembered for its revival of Classical literature. Modern books like The Swerve celebrate the Renaissance era book hunters such as Poggio Bracciolini, who travelled to hidden monasteries in search of Latin manuscripts of Virgil or Cicero, and uncovered lost works, such as Lucretius’ De rerum natura. However, the Renaissance was also a time for rediscovering Latin and GreekContinue reading “Times New Roman: Classical Inscriptions, Epigraphy Hunters, and Renaissance Fonts”

Libellus Behavior: Papyri, Valentines, and 3D Printing

  In 249  CE, the emperor Decius disseminated an edict that required inhabitants of the Roman empire to perform a sacrifice. As UNC professor James Rives has argued, this was the first Christian persecution to be instituted on an empire-wide scale. Those who completed the supplicatio (order to perform a sacrifice) needed to be certified by an imperially designatedContinue reading “Libellus Behavior: Papyri, Valentines, and 3D Printing”