Vladimir Putin dived in the Black Sea recently, near the ancient Greek city of Phanagoria, and came up with these artifacts. One supposes he is publicizing the excavation which the ruling party as some sort of stake in, but it also reminds me of the commercial ventures I heard about nearby in Crimea. With what they told me in a wine shop in Yalta is the permission of the government there, people go diving for amphoras in the Black Sea, which fetch a good price in local markets. Phanagoria, in the Taman Peninsula, where Putin dived, seems a lot more remote. Perhaps then it will escape the kind of looting that Putin promoted with the stunt.
Some years back some good friends told me that archaeology is never *intensively politicized in Israel, (for it is always in some way politicized, even if one is tempted to exaggerate its political *impact); or at least, they argued, what’s wrong with rooting for one side in History, as glimpsed through archaeology? The ritual Channukah archaeological announcements tend to belie the naive notion that archaeology is a-political. I just got one from this lovely organization called Tzapit. Because it’s urgent that people everywhere know there wasn’t some historical gap in the Jewish occupation of Jerusalem — in fact the Hasmoneans *were there! This is news? — they urge me to “PRINT TELL A FRIEND….” …And so I obey: the story is here. But of course the problem with “rooting” for one “side” in History in this situation is that real people actually get run out of their real houses and neighborhoods on the strength of these claims. After going on the Ir Amim tour, my views on this have really hardened: this isn’t playing around with historical facts, but rather playing with fire!
"Mesogeia" is really "τα μεσόγεια," which literally means "that which is in between land." To most Athenians, it refers to the interior of the Attic peninsula, the rural inland that is neither the beaches nor the metropolis itself. The fourth-century BCE author of the pseudo-Aristotelian "Athenaion Politeia," the so-called "Constitution of the Athenians," describes a civil war that took place very early in Athenian history between the men of the plain (pedion), the men of the coast (paralia) and the men of the mesogeia. It's landlocked land, in other words.
What for some is land between land is for others land between water. The Mesogeios (Thalassa) is Greek for the Mediterranean Sea. The region of primary focus on this blog surrounds that body of water, which is to say, the classical lands, Israel and the Middle East. But I also put stuff up about international relations and security, economy and society, media, and the dialogue between ancients and moderns. I am after all a recent PhD in ancient Greek and Roman history.