The Story of the Black King Among The Magi

The Christian liturgical calendar reserves January 6 as Epiphany––the day when the Magi allegedly visited Jesus as recounted in the Gospel of Matthew. I have written before about the origins of frankincense and myrrh, but about a year ago, I began discussing the magus (the Latin plural is magi) named Balthazar with Nyasha Junior. As weContinue reading “The Story of the Black King Among The Magi”

Deus Ex Machina: Depicting Cranes and Pulleys in the Ancient World

Within ancient theater, the phrase ‘deus ex machina‘ actually referred to a crane called a μηχανή (the Greek term from whence we get our “machine”) used to suspend and then lower individuals onto the stage during performances of tragic plays, particularly those written by Sophocles and Euripides. In nine of his plays, an epiphanic deus was loweredContinue reading “Deus Ex Machina: Depicting Cranes and Pulleys in the Ancient World”

Building the Iron Gates of Alexander: The Migrant Caravan & Geographies of Fear

Thousands of refugees are currently standing at the US-Mexico border. In their 2,500 mile journey from Central America, these women, children, and men from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador have endured much in order to petition for a grant of asylum within the United States. As I have written about before, the concept of theContinue reading “Building the Iron Gates of Alexander: The Migrant Caravan & Geographies of Fear”

Anno Domini: Computational Analysis, Antisemitism, and the Early Christian Debate Over Easter

This post was originally published at the SCS Classics blog on March 30, 2018.  In the 6th century CE, a Scythian monk named Dionysius Exiguus was sent to Rome. Dionysius may have taken the monastic nickname of “the small” (exiguus), but his humility sheathed both his incredible abilities as a translator of Greek and Latin andContinue reading “Anno Domini: Computational Analysis, Antisemitism, and the Early Christian Debate Over Easter”

Teaching Ancient, Early Christian, And Medieval History in the Era of #MeToo: A Short Bibliography

I think we can all agree that sexual harassment and assault are not inventions of the 20th or 21st centuries. While the visibility of these issues have increased notably in the past 6 months, they have sadly been a part of the tapestry of history since the very beginning. The good news (and there hasContinue reading “Teaching Ancient, Early Christian, And Medieval History in the Era of #MeToo: A Short Bibliography”

Replacing the Squeeze? Teaching Classical Epigraphy With 3D Models

This semester, I am incorporating more epigraphy into my undergraduate and graduate level courses. The University of Iowa has a top-flight classics program (if I do say so myself), but we do not have a proper squeeze collection to work with (something I took for granted while at UNC-Chapel Hill). As such, in addition toContinue reading “Replacing the Squeeze? Teaching Classical Epigraphy With 3D Models”

Were Pagan Temples All Smashed Or Just Converted Into Christian Churches?

This week over at the Forbes column [access it here], I discuss an article in the new volume of the Journal of Late Antiquity (10.1) It is a great piece of scholarship written by ancient historian Feyo L. Schuddeboom and is called “The Conversion of Temples in Rome.” The article effectively uses archaeological evidence for temple conversion within the cityContinue reading “Were Pagan Temples All Smashed Or Just Converted Into Christian Churches?”

The Itinerarium Egeriae: Mapping Egeria’s Pilgrimage On Candlemas

In the Roman Catholic Church, the celebration held forty days after Christmas is the festival of Candlemas (February 2). Candlemas recognizes the presentation of Jesus in the temple and the purification of the Virgin Mary forty days after giving birth (Luke 2:22-29). This was in accordance with Jewish purity law (Lev. 12:4) which required women whoContinue reading “The Itinerarium Egeriae: Mapping Egeria’s Pilgrimage On Candlemas”

‘The Eagle Huntress’ And The Ancient History Of Falconry

Over at the Forbes blog this week, I discuss the ancient and medieval history of falconry in the Mediterranean. After seeing the new documentary film ‘The Eagle Huntress,’ about a 13-year-old girl named Aisholpan learning to become an eagle hunter with her father in Mongolia, I went back to some class notes on Greco-Roman attitudes towards theContinue reading “‘The Eagle Huntress’ And The Ancient History Of Falconry”

A Short History of Demons, Exorcism, And Possessed Women

Since last’s week accusation by Alex Jones that Hillary Clinton and President Obama were demons that smelled of sulfur, I had begun to think about the role of demons, exorcism, and demoniacs in early Christian texts. Over on the Forbes blog, I discuss how the subject of demons has a rich past in the religion, butContinue reading “A Short History of Demons, Exorcism, And Possessed Women”