Philip of Macedon’s Remains Identified

Boy, it’s been a good week for Classicists – and it’s only Tuesday! Just yesterday we had the news that Xena is going back into production, and today (okay, the news came out yesterday, I just sat on it for a day) we hear that researchers have released a study that says they have identified the remains in one of the tombs at the Great Tumulus hill near Vergina in Macedonia. They had previously attributed a different tomb to Philip of Macedon, which contained a number of elaborate grave goods that seemed linked to the Macedonian royal family.

However, these goods were eventually realized to be from a slightly later period than when Philip died – 317 BCE, instead of 336 BCE when he was assassinated. The big thing in identifying that the body was not Philip’s is that he was said to have suffered a critical lance to the leg just a few years before his death, which crippled him. This body showed no signs of this, or a few other significant injuries.

The skeleton in this tomb that is now identified as belonging to Philip did indeed have a knee injury, and was about the correct age. He was really tall (180 cm), too. The tomb also contained the body of a woman approximately 18 years old, and a baby. The article over at Popular Archaeology says this supports the story that Olympias, mother to Alexander the Great, killed Cleopatra, who was Philip’s wife after her (he had a lot of wives), and their child. This happened shortly after Philip’s own death. There are a lot of historians that speculate on events around this time so it’s typically been hard to understand what is truth and what is fiction, but with this sort of evidence it certainly does put one version of the tale into a more concrete light.

Super interesting stuff. If you want to read the whole article and see more photos, check out the story over at Popular Archaeology.

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Adults don’t know what it’s like to be 17 years old

I saw a quote from Maisie Williams where she stated that adults don’t know what it’s like to be 17. It wasn’t until I read the comments on twitter that I felt to say something myself, but yeah. She’s totally right.

I’ll let you in on a secret, now: I’m not 17. I may not regard myself as much of an adult sometimes but I’m well into my 20s and I can fully admit I have no idea what it’s like to be a 17-year-old in the year 2015. I had a flip phone in high school. That says it all, doesn’t it? I’m part of a post-technology pre-digital-immersion generation. I had a cassette player, now I have an iPhone. But enough about that.1117291

Time is a beautiful and terrifying thing, and that’s the point I want to make here. As we get further and further from age 17 we recall less and less what it is like to be that age. And more to the point, the experiences of a 17-year-old now are drastically different than in the years before. Even what we recall is largely unhelpful in understanding the modern teenage experience. Yes, the hormones are still the same, maybe the teenage drama is all similar. But you’ve got to understand that those experiences are now intersected with the technology and connectivity of today. And that makes a world of difference.

Conversations like this are an uphill battle because older generations will never fully accept that they are the older generation. And we will be, too, one day (I’m already on my way, surely). We are the last generation that will have to teach our parents how to use email. Eventually, a counterculture will arise to subvert what we see as current counterculture. (Is the moment we stop jumping onto new counterculture the moment that we truly become adults? I wonder.)

I could go on for days on this subject, but instead I’ll leave you with this. When I was 17, I asked myself, “Why don’t these adults know what it’s like to be 17? They were this age once. Shouldn’t that mean they understand what I’m going through? Why do we keep having this disconnect?”

There will always be generational conflict. Discussions surrounding generations are boring and overwrought. The sooner that people can collectively accept that experiences of different age brackets all differ from one another (in both directions), the sooner we can start having more productive conversations.

Food Woes at Memorial University

I’m delighted that the food quality at Memorial University has been getting some attention this week. I may be a little spoiled having come here after attending Guelph U, known for having the best food in the country, but I must really agree with the vocal students who have brought this issue up that the offerings at MUN are ridiculously poor.

I was fortunate enough to never have to live in the residence nor depend on the dining hall for meals. I’ve passed through once or twice and thought that the building looked nice enough, but never having consumed the food I can’t really provide much of an opinion. However, in speaking to my vegetarian friends that have lived in residence for years now, they make it clear that their dining options are pretty limited to a wilted salad bar and bowls of cereal. I can’t imagine how anyone with intersectional dietary needs (gluten-free, vegan, lactose, etc.) must fare.

I do depend on the cafes around campus for snacks occasionally and the selections there is fairly poor as well. I’ve yet to brave a slice of the pizza, labeled but ominously hidden in paper containers under a heat lamp. The muffins are a little dehydrated but tolerable when desperate. There’s one vegetarian sandwich they offer that I have tried (I think there’s an egg salad sandwich but I wouldn’t dare touch it) and it is just some dry bread, hummus, grated carrot and lettuce. It’s certainly not worth the price (which I think is about $3.75). The food in the University Centre food court is okay, mostly as they are managed by chain companies. I don’t know all the kitchen conditions obviously but I feel safe with Booster Juices.

My understanding is that the problem with the dining hall is that the food provider, Aramark, continually provides low quality products for the staff to prepare. This, in combination with poor cooking, yields an unpleasant result for the students forced to eat there. I’ve read on the student app Yik Yak numerous times when someone discovers that something served that night at “dhall” is edible, and they share the news to let others take advantage of the rare treat. I have a friend who works in the meal hall and from what I have heard and experienced, the staff are all quite nice. I certainly wouldn’t look to them as the main problem for the food quality.

And to add, I have written before about the poor quality of produce available in Newfoundland in general. The shipments must travel far to get here and poor weather will often impact the delivery significantly. At least half the year is at risk for bad winter weather, which means the school year in particular faces the worst level of fresh greens. The notion passed about in the comments on this issue of a fruit bar being offered once a semester makes me shudder. No wonder this province was recently given such poor reviews in terms of obesity.

(The CBC wrote this article about the issue today.)

Food, Feasting, and Survival in St. John’s

The cost of living in Newfoundland isn’t cheap. Somehow, the image of living on a remote island once conjured up images of low rent and reasonable prices — I don’t know why I was so naive.

I’m more than happy to lay the cards on the table here. I have a one-bedroom apartment with a kitchen and living room on the top floor of an old house (I share the bathroom on the second floor with the girl downstairs). The washer and dryer are inexplicably on my floor, as well. It’s a mostly private, somewhat inconvenient, definitely not soundproof scenario. And I pay $675 a month for this, utilities included. In the winter the power goes out intermittently, and the internet too. Some days it seems reasonable, other days it does not. I unfortunately found out that my housemate pays significantly less than me, for reasons I cannot fathom. I would complain but I’m moving in just under two months. Ain’t worth my time.

That being said, life is still expensive here. Food prices are outrageous. I’m only feeding myself, a vegetarian who uses coupons and shops sales, and I spend on average $35 a week on groceries alone (I averaged $20-25 a week in Guelph). The quality is terrible. The worst part is, I know this is the best food on the island. Shipments go right to St. John’s before the leftovers move to the other communities. The grocery store near my grandparents’ house on the west coast is literally a vegetarian nightmare.

So with all this being said, and my internal monologue filled with griping about the state of affairs, it hadn’t crossed my mind how these things affect businesses in town. Short sighted of me, I know. But The Overcast put out an article examining this very issue, and it really opened my eyes.

The food scene in St. John’s is both excellent and poor. It is excellent because there are so many diverse businesses, passionate owners and chefs, and creative dishes on offer. It is poor because these things are all limited by availability and money. There’s no way to dine out cheaply around here, because businesses simply can’t afford to charge anything less and still break even. Their diversity in dishes is limited because there simply are no produce options.

I could go on and on but I strongly urge you guys to take a look at the article on their website. It explains the issue really well. I’ll leave you with this quote:

No one’s out to fleece you in an industry that considers breaking even and surviving another month a success.

Road salt and other seasonings

A few days ago I read that St. John’s was already $1 million over budget on road salt this winter. I’ve been mulling over what it is I want to say about this problem, recalling the number of days I’ve stepped outside my front door and seen it to be too icy to even make it to the bus stop; Halifax has given me the soap box I was looking for.

Anyone who’s been reading the news or simply living in the city knows that Halifax’s road and sidewalk clearing is a big issue this winter. I feel like us folks in Newfoundland are rather resigned to the shitty winter existence forced upon us, whereas Haligonians are simply busier people. There have been protests and countless editorials and online discussion about their overworked road clearing companies and the general lack of actually clear roads (and sidewalks). So I am pleased to see that the city councillors are investigating alternative to road salt. Beet juice, cheese brine, and molasses are a few of the ingredients being considered. It seems like they’re doing their research, other city’s trials and errors being considered. So this could be a beneficial move, if at least for next winter.

I think I am generally opposed to the notion of road salt due to its visual and ethical similarities to the great “salting of Carthage” we hear about in Classics all the time. It’s awful for the environment (not to mention shoes) and there’s just something incredibly cold and wintry about big piles of salt. It’s as if it prevents spring from coming. Yeah, this may just be a personal issue. But the Carthage reference still stands.

The Coast asks us:

Halifax probably has a butt-load of something just sitting around that we can slather all over our streets and sidewalks. We just need to be creative. Spent microbrew grains? Feta brine? Old peanut shells like days gone by at Maxwell’s?

My vote is for the microbrew grains. Lord knows there’s enough to go around in that city. Though it may leave a rather yeasty smell around town. Same scent problems appear to be the case with cheese brine, and probably molasses, too. I can’t imagine it would make the long-enduring dog walkers of Halifax terribly pleased.

New Bakery in Halifax: The Old Apothecary

I wanted to share this as I am going to be sorely missing my neighbourhood bakery once I move back to Nova Scotia next month. There’s a new bakery opening this spring on Barrington, called The Old Apothecary. I love, love when old buildings are restored to respect their roots, and from the sounds of it that is what the plan is with this location. Nova Scotia heritage is so interesting and precious, especially when you’re dealing with pre-explosion era buildings.

Laura MacLeod is the owner, and has a twitter and instagram that updates with renovation photos. In an interview with The Coast she listed offerings the bakery will feature: breads, croissants and pain au chocolat, eclairs, macarons… everything that will make me fat and poor. I can’t wait.

(check out the interview here if you want to salivate over the prospect of baked goods)

Redefining the Library

Something I’ve been chewing on for a few days is this article in the metro. Council members of the new Halifax library (which I unfortunately have yet to visit, blame my poor priorities) have been tossing around the idea that the word ‘library’ doesn’t quite sum up all it is that goes on in the facility. Having worked in a public library for three years, I agree. The general populace of non-library-visiting people have no idea what goes on there and the services they offer. Books are just a single facet of a complex organization.

However, the dangers of losing the title ‘library’ are significant. At the core of it, I think you don’t want to lose what started everything: the books. Phasing them out would simply create a community centre. A valuable resource to be sure, but not a library in its own right. As a classicist I may be a little biased at retaining old traditions, but only when they are still useful and relevant (additionally, my friend and colleague is doing her thesis on ancient libraries, so it’s on the mind a lot).

So what new name could fill the gap, if ‘library’ wasn’t used? Is there a term that can connote the same range of things? I think that we should simply accept that words, as they are wont to do, change definition over time. A library is not simply a place for books. It is a place of community engagement, display, interaction, and interpretation. Anyone who is not aware of this definition should be made aware. In fact, why not a larger campaign redefining ‘library’? Inform the public what it means in a modern context. If we change what visitors/consumers/whatever term you’d like think of when they hear the word, we can facilitate a great change in the way the community interacts with a place branding itself as such.