Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Carnivalesque returns, and brings us Antioch

Carnivalesque, the carnival of early history blogs, is back -- over at Cranky Professor. And the first of its links takes us to Zenobia: Empress of the East, whose author Judith Weingarten, a fan of all things associated with the Eastern Empire, left in May to travel to Hatay (or Antakya), the city that now arises from the spot where the ancient Antioch once stood. To let us abandoned readers share in some of the fun she looks at an interesting Turkish initiative to reconstruct the old city. It is some challenge, because the current incarnation of the settlement is entirely modern -- if you stretch the idea of modern just a little bit. Certainly there is nothing there to suggest a city that once thought of itself as Rome's rival.

Apparently that has not stopped the Turkish scholar, Dr Kayhan Kaplan of the Department of Landscape Architecture at Mustafa Kemal University in Hatay, who at this site has posted reconstruction of what the old city may have looked like, from four different angles. It looks like the site is entirely in Turkish, but you don't have to read Turkish to enjoy this.

As Judith Weingarten points out, there are limits to this kind of reconstruction, but it gives people something to argue about, and progress is possible:
Needless to say, archaeologists and historians are going to argue about his recreations for a good many years. In fact, Antiochepedia has already thrown down the gauntlet on nine points of topography (e.g., were the river branches narrower? should the island's southern tip be more pointed? that kind of stuff). For the rest of us, it is simply stunning and gives us a real "feel" of ancient Antioch.
I agree entirely with Antiochepedia: "In the good old days, Dr Kaplan might have been cheered along the Colonnaded Street for this job!"

There is more good stuff at Zenobia, and at Cranky Professor for that matter.

Image: Antioch as depicted on the Peutinger map, a medieval copy of a Roman original.

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