The Moschos Ioudaios Inscription

One of the most interesting early Greek inscriptions involving a Jew/Judaean is the so-called “Moschos inscription” (or “Moschus inscription”), a record of a manumission found in 1952 during excavations at Oropos north of Athens. The inscription was recovered from the Amphiareion, a shrine to the hero Amphiaraos.  The inscription itself bears no date but is generally assigned to the first half of the third century BCE, which would make it among the earliest Greek inscriptions to mention an ΙΟΥΔΑΙΟΣ in the singular. I was having a hard time locating an image of the inscription online, but I recalled having scanned the publication some time ago. I was able to find the scan and have posted it here: Continue reading

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A Model of Nag Hammadi Codex III (and Some Thoughts on Large Single-quire Codices)

After I started out by making a model of Nag Hammadi Codex VI, the second Nag Hammadi book that I tried to make was Codex III. Like Codex VI, Codex III is made up of a single papyrus quire, but the construction of the cover of Codex III is slightly more complicated than that of Codex VI. The quire of Codex III was composed of 40 bifolia (two of which were in reality a single folio with a stub). So, this is a considerably thicker codex than Codex VI, which contained 20 bifolia. The construction of the quire thus required more materials and more time spent cutting the bifolia to size. Continue reading

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The Odyssey at Olympia?

An interesting news report is circulating about the discovery at Olympia of an incised clay tablet containing lines from Homer’s Odyssey. The ultimate source of the story seems to be a press release from the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports, which presents the least garbled version of the report. The picture accompanying the story shows a bit of text text from Book 14, lines 8-13 of the Odyssey:

Olympia Odyssey

Incised clay tablet containing lines from the Odyssey; image source: Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports

The tablet is tentatively assigned to the third century CE. So, the headlines describing it as “the oldest written record of Homer’s Odyssey” are of course a bit of an exaggeration. I am curious to learn more about the precise context of the find and the extent of the inscription.


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A Model of Nag Hammadi Codex VI

As I was writing my book on early Christian manuscripts, one of the most helpful things I did was take up the construction of models of ancient codices. Going through the process of assembling a codex really forced me to understand the literature about ancient books much more thoroughly. I was fortunate to have access to an excellent leather store in Denmark, where I could buy goat skins and a handful of other supplies, and for my first project, I was generously given some good quality papyrus by a friend. I decided to start with Nag Hammadi Codex VI, a single-quire codex with a fairly simple leather cover. Continue reading

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Addenda to the Palatine Alexamenos Graffito

I posted several days ago about a recent visit to the Palatine during which I was able to see the new display of the famous Alexamenos graffito and the newly opened paedagogium in which the graffito was originally found. I returned to the Palatine hill today to visit the ongoing excavations at the Horrea Agrippiana. On our way out of the site, I stopped by the paedagogium again to snap a few additional photos only to find that a new barrier had cut off access to the rooms of the paedagogium: Continue reading

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A Marble Relief of a Priest of Cybele

It’s always a pleasant surprise to visit a familiar museum and find a “new” piece. It happened to me the other day at the Capitoline Museum. Earlier this year, there was an exhibition on Johann Joachim Winckelmann (actually, it was mainly on the history of the Capitoline hill in the eighteenth century). That exhibit is now over, but in a ground-floor room of the Palazzo Nuovo (in a section of the exhibit that I completely missed) were some of the didactic materials from the exhibition along with some pieces of sculpture. I was surprised to see among them the famous relief of the priest of Magna Mater: Continue reading

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The Palatine Alexamenos Graffito

Just about every introductory book on early Christianity will have an image, usually a drawing or a significantly enhanced photograph, of the famous “Alexamenos graffito,” a depiction of a man worshipping a crucified figure with the head of a donkey. The image, discovered in 1856 on the southwestern slope of the Palatine hill in Rome, is generally thought to evoke the experience of Christians in the Roman world in the age before Constantine. Usually assigned to some point in the third century, it is among the earliest depictions of the crucifixion of Jesus and a Christian worshipper.


Detail of the Palatine Alexamenos graffito (June 2018)

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