Friday, September 30, 2016

Fall Events Sneak Preview; the "Book of the Blog" is Back!

It is hard to believe that it is almost October! Never fear, as the Fall program of the Institute is about to begin. Here is the first of two sneak previews of coming events. For our Athens Friends Association we have on Wednesday, October 19th another book presentation and reading by the Vancouver-based travel journalist and author W. Ruth Kozak. Last fall Ruth was in Athens and gave us a dramatic reading of the first book in her trilogy, Shadow of the Lion, about the aftermath of the death of Alexander the Great. Her next volume, The Fields of Hades, which is just published picks up where the story left off.

And then, oh yes, we do love our Canadian film nights at the Institute! Well the next instalment of this “revered institution” will be on Wednesday, November 30th. A film that I wanted us to see last year (but was outvoted, alas!), Gunless, is now on slate for this evening. This is a Canadian western spoof (2010) with talented actors and an amusing take on ”the code” of proper behavior in the Old Wild West for a professional gunslinger.

So save the dates and be on the alert for future blogs with more information about each event.

The world-renowned “Book of the Blog” is back!

In the early years of this running commentary on what is happening here in Athens there was a regular feature called the “Book of the Blog”. These were succinct mini-reviews of selected new acquisitions and donations in the Library of the Institute. For a variety of reasons this much-awaited component of the blog gradually disappeared. I did write, however, that any donations of books, monographs and conference proceedings written or edited by Canadian scholars to our Library would be reviewed. I’m pleased to announce that at our 40th Anniversary Colloquium in June two edited books were given to our Library.

The first volume is edited by Jane Francis (Concordia University) and Anna Kouremenos entitled Roman Crete. New Perspectives (Oxbow Books, 2016). Not only is Jane the lead editor, she also wrote the “Introduction” and a contribution on “Apiculture in Roman Crete”. The latter research originated in her study of the evidence for beekeeping from the Sphakia Survey Project. Further, among the 12 contributors are two other Canadian researchers. Scott Gallimore (Wilfrid Laurier University) re-assesses Crete’s economic role in the Roman Imperial system using primarily the distribution of Cretan transport amphorae over time and space. After a close relationship with the Italian peninsula up through the 3rd century CE the distribution patterns changed towards Cyrenaica, the Black Sea coast and the rest of the eastern Mediterranean. Administrative re-organization and the logistical needs of the Imperial army on the northeastern frontier appears to behind this. A better understanding of the Cretan amphora types also indicates that the island weathered the 3rd-century CE economic crisis well. Despite this crisis the major Cretan cities embraced the typical Roman imperial entertainment and cultural activities package according to George W.M. Harrison (Carleton University). His wide ranging analysis brings together many desperate threads to illuminate his thesis.

The contributions, which originated in a conference, examine aspects of the island’s material culture, iconography, ceramics and lamps, sculpture and architecture within the context of the Roman Empire. The “Introduction” and the “Afterward: putting Crete on the Roman map” (Kouremenos) provide a pithy yet broad overview of the island of Crete under the long-lasting Roman rule. This has been long needed as most scholarship dealing with the island focuses on the Minoan period and on the Iron Age polities. The references that are cited in the contributions are excellent guides to more in-depth examinations of both Roman Crete and its integration into the Empire. The ample images, drawings, plans, charts, maps are of high quality and resolution. There are even polychrome images to supplement the standard B/W ones. This one is a keeper, indeed!

Next week I will share my thoughts on the other donation. These volumes and our Library await you from Monday to Friday, 09:00 to 13:00.

David Rupp

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