A Reversed Perspective: Looking at Greek and Roman Art from Behind(s)

A few weeks ago, I began to ponder the ways in which Greek and Roman art is presented within the modern museum context–and to ruminate on whether we put a bit too much emphasis on the perceived front of a piece of art rather than the side or back of it. This led to aContinue reading “A Reversed Perspective: Looking at Greek and Roman Art from Behind(s)”

To The Black Sea And Back: The Late Antique Dura-Europos ‘Shield’ Map

  Dura-Europos is an ancient site on the Euphrates river in modern-day Syria. The objects excavated at the site by Yale University (later famously led by Mikhail Rostovtzeff), and the French Academy of Inscriptions and Letters during the 1920s and 1930s provide some of the most vivid wall paintings, mosaics, and material culture from the ancient worldContinue reading “To The Black Sea And Back: The Late Antique Dura-Europos ‘Shield’ Map”

The Argument Made By The Absence: On Whiteness, Polychromy, And Diversity In Classics

It has been a few days since I published a piece on my Forbes blog regarding the perception of whiteness and statues in antiquity. I knew when I started taking notes on the subject of polychromy many months ago that this column would likely cause a stir within the field, among colleagues, and online. I hadContinue reading “The Argument Made By The Absence: On Whiteness, Polychromy, And Diversity In Classics”

‘Pie Zeses’: Toasting To A New Year

Another year of blogging is almost in the proverbial books and I must say that while 2016 was a wretched year socio-politically, it was professionally quite satisfying. My first book, Trade and Taboo was published and I even began writing for Forbes regularly. There is no doubt that I have much to be thankful for asContinue reading “‘Pie Zeses’: Toasting To A New Year”

‘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”

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”

What Rep. Steve King Gets Wrong About The Dark Ages — And Western Civilization

Over on my Forbes blog, I address the comments of Representative Steve King this week and explore the myths of the “Dark Ages” and of “Western Civilization.”  As I say, perpetuating the myth of western exceptionalism is a dangerous narrative to tell ourselves.

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”

‘Can I Get Your Autograph?’: A Short History of Signature Collecting

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with collecting the signatures of the Atlanta Braves baseball players. It was a point of pride to show my friends the signatures of John Smoltz or Greg Maddux, and they provided me with a little residual cachet. Turns out that Romans had much the same reaction. The naturalContinue reading “‘Can I Get Your Autograph?’: A Short History of Signature Collecting”

Hail, Caesar: A Classicist’s Movie Review

It is about 43 minutes since we got out of seeing ‘Hail, Caesar!’, the Coen brothers’ new movie about a Tinseltown film studio during the 1950s. I enjoyed the film immensely, and, well, I have some frayed, butter stained theater napkin notes about the multiple classical allusions in the film. Before we get to the allusions, let’s talkContinue reading “Hail, Caesar: A Classicist’s Movie Review”