Picturing the Patriarch: Resources for Finding Illustrated Papyri and the Case for Image Licensing

Ancient and medieval papyri not only transmitted text, some even held illustrations. Mathematical, scientific, and magical papyri often had accompanying images meant to enhance the understanding of a text or perhaps to depict someone being cursed. Some historical and literary papyri (e.g., those of Homer) had illustrations as well. I was reminded of this fact this morning,Continue reading “Picturing the Patriarch: Resources for Finding Illustrated Papyri and the Case for Image Licensing”

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”

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”

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”

Sarcophagraphic Novels: Understanding the Classical Comics

Arguably the most well-known piece of early Christian relief is the Junius Bassus Sarcophagus. Dated to 359 CE, it is a visual mix tape all recorded in expensive marble. It depicts a number of biblical scenes both from the New Testament (e.g., the lives of Christ, Peter, and Paul) and the Old Testament (e.g., Isaac, Garden of Eden), and framesContinue reading “Sarcophagraphic Novels: Understanding the Classical Comics”

‘Let the Snorter Be Covered in Soot’: Ancient Board Game Inscriptions

☩ μὴ θεόμαχος νήων. ☩ ☩ ἀσβολόθη ὁ ῥονχάζων. ☩ Let the snorter / be covered in soot! [MAMA X, 330=PH 269278] Games of chance are never a silent endeavor; however, Romans found it rather uncouth to snort when Fortune was not on your side. A civil person kept their nose silent. There is a strong auditoryContinue reading “‘Let the Snorter Be Covered in Soot’: Ancient Board Game Inscriptions”

The Hand of God: Depicting Legitimacy in Late Antiquity

As virtually every ancient or medieval historian has done in their career, I will kick us off today with a scene from Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life. We cut to a general addressing a rather sparse audience: “Well, of course, warfare isn’t all fun. Right. Stop that! It’s all very well to laugh at the Military, but,Continue reading “The Hand of God: Depicting Legitimacy in Late Antiquity”

Third Eye Blind: The Cyclops in Late Antiquity

Born around the year 490 CE in the city of Philadelphia, John the Lydian had a lot to say about Roman corruption and civil servants. His book, On the Magistracies of the Roman State, provides insight into the sausage factory that was late antique bureaucracy. Though living in Constantinople at the time, he addressed a story from his hometown (3.59):Continue reading “Third Eye Blind: The Cyclops in Late Antiquity”

CFP: Shifting Frontiers in Late Antiquity XI

The Transformation of Poverty, Philanthropy, and Healthcare in Late Antiquity The Society for Late Antiquity announces that the eleventh biennial Shifting Frontiers in Late Antiquity conference will take place at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, IA, March 26-29, 2015. The period of Late Antiquity (A.D. 200-700) witnessed great changes in respect to attitudes towardsContinue reading “CFP: Shifting Frontiers in Late Antiquity XI”