I have been thinking a lot about the trend to rehabilitate or to give a backstory to villains lately (e.g. Joker, Cruella). Nero (and the new exhibition at @britishmuseum) is certainly an example. 🧵 newyorker.com/magazine/2021/…
A few yrs ago @CKlosterman visited Milwaukee to talk about his villain book _I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined)_ I read it & attended the reading @boswellbooks. I asked if his book was a hero with a 1,000 faces for villains? en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Wear_th…
K’s definition is that a villain is “the person who knows the most but cares the least” but I’d argue Nero is not actually in that camp & this exhibition carved out nuance. In fact, our sources show Nero is evil but also filled with a longing to be accepted. But this is not new!
But as @Lauren_Ginsberg pointed out to me last night, this idea of needing to reassess the verity of the “monstrosity” of Nero is close to 30 years old. I went back to an old review I read for comps edd by Elsner and Masters as an example of this approach: bmcr.brynmawr.edu/1994/1994.09.0…
In other words, to Classicists this is nothing new. In the same issue of the @NewYorker, they expose Homer as *gasp* more than one person—not a lone genius? And classicists will of course say: um, yeah. newyorker.com/magazine/2021/…
What I think we are seeing is more popular media catching up to and incorporating that ideas and theories that classicists and historians have been developing for years at a quicker pace. Yes, much of this is old hat to us but not to the public! To them this is new and uncharted.
Academia has a choice: We can sit here & be smug (as some will: e.g. the many notes I got about how “everyone knows about polychromy, Sarah! You’re not the 1st!”) or we can cheer on the reporters, writers, curators, & more “trade” authors working hard to translate for the public.
I see the space b/w academia and mass media collapsing & that is great. And @Lauren_Ginsberg is right that this new Nero exhibition is not new theory—but will more importantly drive pop interest! & that should be celebrated. No matter if classicists have been noting this for yrs.
I guess what I am saying is that in reality, we academics are our own worst villain sometimes (myself included), by constantly nitpicking and correcting people out of relevance. Let’s not wait 2,089 years for someone to rehab us. Let’s work on ourselves now. 🧀-y as it is to say.

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More from @SarahEBond

10 Jun
An intact chicken egg dating to 1021 CE has been discovered at Yavneh (ancient Iamneia: pleiades.stoa.org/places/687925). forward.com/fast-forward/4… Although the article notes chickens came into Israel in the "Hellenistic era" (332-64/3 BCE) let's chat origins & other egg discoveries. https://forward.com/fast-fo...
Most new studies pinpoint chicken domestication from northern China and parts and then later Southeast Asia, but the first chickens were really more pheasants. pnas.org/content/111/49…
A lot of people believed that it was the Persians who introduced the chicken to the Greeks, because of its nickname of the "Persikos Ornis" means Persian bird. But as @FlintDibble discussed in 2018, we cannot trust Aristophanes for our chicken origins!
Read 9 tweets
8 Jun
Since it is #WorldOceansDay, I’d like to address a topic directly connected to the sea: Roman concrete. Currently, Portland cement accounts for 8% of carbon emissions. But rediscovery of the Roman concrete recipe + seawater to activate it is a hope for greener infrastructure. ImageImageImage
See, back in 2013 a team from @BerkeleyLab with samples from Dr. Marie Jackson reverse engineered Roman concrete, mentioned by authors such as Pliny the Elder and glimpsed at in Roman harbors, the Pantheon, etc newscenter.lbl.gov/2013/06/04/rom…
The scientists used samples from Pozzuoli Bay (three cheers for Puteoli) and discovered seawater was a key element! Image
Read 4 tweets
2 Jun
I forgot that there is a site called Hippos and so have to admit I was a little let down by this title because I have always wanted to see Roman era hippo bones. haaretz.com/israel-news/MA…
Like many, I am a little obsessed with the "sad hippo" ostracon (Egypt, ca. 1479–1425 BCE) now @metmuseum. metmuseum.org/art/collection… And thus have a collection of hippo images.
But will say my favorite hippo is now "William" (sorry, William metmuseum.org/blogs/now-at-t…) or the "sad hippo" ostracon, but actually a gigantic Roman rosso antico version probably from the 2ndC CE now at the @Glyptoteket: lacmaonfire.blogspot.com/2018/04/the-an… http://lacmaonfire.blogspot.com/2018/04/the-anxiety-of-ancie
Read 4 tweets
1 Jun
Good morning! A new, open access article in Archaeometry looks at the 4th century CE Blemmyes between the Nile Valley and the Red Sea coast and their trade in glass beads in Nubia, by Joanna Then-Obłuska & Laure Dussubieux.

Q. What can beads tell us? onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ar… https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/arcm.12680?af=R
Who are the Blemmyes? cf. the Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity: worldcat.org/title/oxford-d… They are a Roman era and late antique nomadic group with tumuli cemeteries concentrated in Lower Nubia. The authors look at 34 beads from Kalbasha (Talmis): pleiades.stoa.org/places/795868 #adfines https://www.worldcat.org/title/oxford-dictionary-of-late-anthttps://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/arcm.12680
The Blemmyes knew a fair amount about trade, and this article comes out at the same time as the new article on excavations looking at emerald mining in Roman Egypt and the Mons Smaragdus (JNES): journals.uchicago.edu/doi/10.1086/71…. I wrote on emeralds & trade here: sarahemilybond.com/2016/05/22/i-w…
Read 5 tweets
30 May
As more news comes that people & businesses are likening the absence of a vaccination card to a “Jewish star” I want to take a moment to remember how and why Jewish badges were originally used—since November 11, 1215. And reject this appropriation predominantly by Christians. 🧵
In 1215, 412 bishops and over 800 clerics and secular representatives came together in the Lateran in Rome for the Fourth Lateran Council. It required Jews to be set off by their dress. papalencyclicals.net/councils/ecum1…
To be sure, the use of hats and even the use of yellow to distinguish Jews had been used for hundreds of years prior, but this council set a precedent in Christendom that would be replicated and enforced by monarchs as well.
Read 10 tweets
28 May
A new study out in Tel Aviv's JIA makes an overly bold (& rather dismissive) claim in terms of its reasons for the study of scaleless (=non kosher) fish & their consumption at Judean sites: No one has studied this before. I beg to differ! tandfonline.com/doi/10.1080/03… Let's discuss...
I applaud the examination of "56 zooarchaeological assemblages of fish from 30 sites throughout the southern Levant from the Late Bronze Age through to the end of the Byzantine period (ca. 1550 BCE to 640 CE)." & the conclusion non-kosher catfish was actually commonly eaten.
But those who have been reading the work of Jordan Rosenblum @UWBadgers hcommons.org/members/jrosen… have known for yrs that there is a lot of evidence for deviations and differences in kosher laws & how they were followed in antiquity. And Jordan is a big deal in Jewish food studies.
Read 6 tweets

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