Princeton authors speaking at Oxford Literary Festival 2014

We are delighted that the following Princeton authors will be speaking at the Oxford Literary Festival in Oxford, UK, in the last week of March. Details of all events can be found at the links below:images5L8V7T97

Jacqueline and Simon Mitton, husband and wife popular astronomy writers and authors of From Dust to Life: The Origin and Evolution of Our Solar System and Heart of Darkness: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Invisible Universe respectively, will be speaking  on Monday 24 March at 4:00pm  http://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2014/Monday-24/in-search-of-our-cosmic-origins-from-the-big-bang-to-a-habitable-planet

David Edmonds, author of Would You Kill the Fat Man? The Trolley Problem and What Your Answer Tells Us  about Right and Wrong will be speaking on Monday 24 March at 6:00pm http://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2014/Monday-24/morality-puzzles-would-you-kill-the-fat-man

Robert Bartlett, author of Why Can the Dead Do Such Great Things? Saints and Worshippers from the Martyrs to the Reformation will be speaking on Tuesday 25 March at 2:00pm http://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2014/Tuesday-25/why-can-the-dead-do-such-great-things

Michael Scott, author of Delphi: A History of the Center of the Ancient World will be speaking on Wednesday 26 March at 10:00am http://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2014/Wednesday-26/delphi-a-history-of-the-centre-of-the-ancient-world

Simon Blackburn, author of Mirror, Mirror: The Uses and Abuses of Self-Love will be speaking on Wednesday 26 March at 4:00pm http://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2014/Wednesday-26/mirror-mirror-the-uses-and-abuses-of-self-love

Roger Scruton author of the forthcoming The Soul of the World will be speaking Thursday 27 March 12:00pm http://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2014/Thursday-27/the-soul-of-the-world

Alexander McCall Smith, author of What W. H. Auden Can Do for You will be speaking about how this poet has enriched his life and can enrich yours too on Friday 28 March at 12:00pm http://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2014/Friday-28/what-w-h-auden-can-do-for-youMcCallSmith_Auden

Averil Cameron, author of Byzantine Matters will be speaking on Friday 28 March at 2:00pm  http://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2014/Friday-28/byzantine-matters

Edmund Fawcett, author of Liberalism: The Life of an Idea will be speaking on Saturday 29 March at 10:00am http://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2014/Saturday-29/liberalism-the-life-of-an-idea

In addition, Ian Goldin will be giving the inaugural “Princeton Lecture” at The Oxford Literary Festival, on the themes within his forthcoming book, The Butterfly Defect: How Globalization Creates Systemic Risks, and What to Do about It on Thursday 27 March at 6:00pm  http://oxfordliteraryfestival.org/literature-events/2014/Thursday-27/the-princeton-lecture-the-butterfly-defect-how-globalisation-creates-system

 

The Oracle will see you now…

Scott_DelphiMost of us are unlikely to visit Delphi in our lifetime and the likelihood of receiving a true Delphic reading is even more slim without the invention of a time machine. Thankfully University College London has saved us the effort of manipulating time and space by creating this handy web widget where you can Consult the Oracle: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/GrandLatMisc/oracle.htm

I can practically smell the ethylene, benzene, methane, or whatever else you believe leaked out of the rocks at the Oracle of Delphi. What wisdoms will the oracle relate? What conundrums will she solve? What mysteries will she impart on the masses? Oh, just go have a look already!

And if you’re interested in learning more about Delphi, please check out Michael Scott’s new history. It tells the story of Delphi in a manner you’ve never seen before. The oracle is described in great detail, of course, but he also explains why Delphi was important as a banking, sporting, political, and cultural center. The book concludes with a short travel guide for those of us lucky enough to visit in person (or perhaps just daydreaming about the trip).

They came from the sea… but did they cause the collapse of civilization?

Coming in April 2014 — 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed by Eric H. Cline

In 1177 B.C., marauding groups known only as the “Sea Peoples” invaded Egypt. The pharaoh’s army and navy managed to defeat them, but the victory so weakened Egypt that it soon slid into decline, as did most of the surrounding civilizations. After centuries of brilliance, the civilized world of the Bronze Age came to an abrupt and cataclysmic end.

In this major new account of the causes of this “First Dark Ages,” Eric Cline tells the gripping story of how the end was brought about by multiple interconnected failures, ranging from invasion and revolt to earthquakes, drought, and the cutting of international trade routes. Bringing to life the vibrant multicultural world of these great civilizations, he draws a sweeping panorama of the empires and globalized peoples of the Late Bronze Age and shows that it was their very interdependence that hastened their dramatic collapse and ushered in a dark age that lasted centuries.

The deal of the decade just got better, The Barrington Atlas app is on sale for $14.99 (#AIAAPA)

Barrington iconIn celebration of the joint meeting of the American Philological Association and the Archaeological Institute of America, we’ve lowered the price of The Barrington Atlas app to $14.99. It will only be on sale through January 8, so don’t wait. After January 8, the price will return to $19.99 (which is still a steal given the print book costs $395.00).

New Ancient World Catalog!

Be among the first to browse and download our new ancient world catalog!

Of particular interest is the new Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World App for iPad. Hailed by the New York Times as “the best geography of the ancient world ever achieved” and deemed by classicist Bernard Knox to be “an indispensable tool for historians concerned with ancient times” as well as “a source of great pleasure for the amateur,” the unsurpassed Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World is now available in digital form as a full-featured app for the iPad. Including all the content of the $395 print edition of the Barrington Atlas, the app makes this essential reference work more portable and affordable than ever before possible.

In 102 interactive color maps, this app re-creates the entire world of the Greeks and Romans from the British Isles to the Indian subcontinent and deep into North Africa. Unrivaled for range, clarity, and detail, these custom-designed maps return the modern landscape to its ancient appearance, marking ancient names and features in accordance with modern scholarship and archaeological discoveries. Geographically, the maps span the territory of more than seventy-five modern countries. Chronologically, they extend from archaic Greece to the Late Roman Empire.

A must-have for scholars, this app will also appeal to anyone eager to retrace Alexander’s eastward marches, cross the Alps with Hannibal, traverse the Eastern Mediterranean with Saint Paul, or ponder the roads, aqueducts, and defense works of the Roman Empire. Designed exclusively for the iPad, the app uses the latest technology and is available for iPad 2 and above.

Also be sure to note new and forthcoming books in the catalog including the compelling 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed by Eric H. Cline, the richly illustrated Delphi: A History of the Center of the Ancient World by Michael Scott, and the fascinating Philology: The Forgotten Origins of the Modern Humanities by James Turner.

Even more foremost titles in ancient world can be found in the catalog. You may also sign up with ease to be notified of forthcoming titles at http://press.princeton.edu/subscribe/. Your e-mail address will remain confidential!

If you’re heading to the American Philological Association and Archaeological Institute of America annual joint meeting in Chicago, IL January 2nd-5th, come visit us at booth 105 to enter the raffle for the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World App for iPad.

Also follow #AIAAPA and @PrincetonUnivPress on Twitter for updates and information on our new and forthcoming titles throughout the meeting. See you there!

Peter Brown Wins 2013 Philip Schaff Prize

Peter Brown – Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350-550 AD
Winner of the 2013 Philip Schaff Prize, American Society of Church History

The Philip Schaff Prize is an award in the amount of $2,000 to the author of the best book published in the two previous calendar years, originating in the North American scholarly community, which presents original research on any period in the history of Christianity, or makes a significant synthesizing scholarly contribution.  According to Dr. Keith Francis, Executive Secretary of ASCH, “The members of the committee described Through the Eye of a Needle as a ‘tour de force,’ a ‘magisterial study,’ and a ‘work of astonishing erudition.’  High praise indeed!  I was even more impressed by the comment that you had written ‘a brilliant synthesis of other scholars’ work as well as the harvest of your own five-decade career.” The prize will be awarded at ASCH’s next business meeting in Washington DC on January 4, 2014. For more information, click here.

k9807Jesus taught his followers that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. Yet by the fall of Rome, the church was becoming rich beyond measure. Through the Eye of a Needle is a sweeping intellectual and social history of the vexing problem of wealth in Christianity in the waning days of the Roman Empire, written by the world’s foremost scholar of late antiquity.

Peter Brown, the world’s foremost scholar of late antiquity, examines the rise of the church through the lens of money and the challenges it posed to an institution that espoused the virtue of poverty and called avarice the root of all evil. Drawing on the writings of major Christian thinkers such as Augustine, Ambrose, and Jerome, Brown examines the controversies and changing attitudes toward money caused by the influx of new wealth into church coffers, and describes the spectacular acts of divestment by rich donors and their growing influence in an empire beset with crisis. He shows how the use of wealth for the care of the poor competed with older forms of philanthropy deeply rooted in the Roman world, and sheds light on the ordinary people who gave away their money in hopes of treasure in heaven.

Through the Eye of a Needle challenges the widely held notion that Christianity’s growing wealth sapped Rome of its ability to resist the barbarian invasions, and offers a fresh perspective on the social history of the church in late antiquity.

Peter Brown is the Philip and Beulah Rollins Professor of History Emeritus at Princeton University. His many books include The World of Late Antiquity, The Rise of Western Christendom, and Augustine of Hippo.

 

Rome wasn’t built in a day either…

[Update: the app is now available in the iTunes store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/barrington-atlas-greek-roman/id767575157]

Greatness is taking longer than expected, so we have to delay the availability date for The Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World for iPad by a few days. The new availability date is December 2, 2013.

We are striving to make sure the app is as perfect as possible before we make it available to the public. In the meantime, we hope you will enjoy this rather Apple-esque video highlighting even more features of the app.

Peter Brown Receives Honorable Mention for the 2013 Cundill Prize

Peter Brown – Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350-550 AD
Honorable Mention for the 2013 Cundill Prize in Historical Literature, McGill University

“The Cundill Prize in Historical Literature at McGill is the world’s most important international nonfiction historical literature prize.”

Six books have moved on to the shortlist; the winner will be announced on November 20th in Toronto. Peter Brown’s book did not make the shortlist, but was recognized by the jury with an honorable mention (one of only two books so honored).

For more information about this award and event, click here.

Through the Eye of the Needle

 Through the Eye of a Needle is a sweeping intellectual and social history of the vexing problem of wealth in Christianity in the waning days of the Roman Empire, written by the world’s foremost scholar of late antiquity.

Peter Brown examines the rise of the church through the lens of money and the challenges it posed to an institution that espoused the virtue of poverty and called avarice the root of all evil. Drawing on the writings of major Christian thinkers such as Augustine, Ambrose, and Jerome, Brown examines the controversies and changing attitudes toward money caused by the influx of new wealth into church coffers, and describes the spectacular acts of divestment by rich donors and their growing influence in an empire beset with crisis. He shows how the use of wealth for the care of the poor competed with older forms of philanthropy deeply rooted in the Roman world, and sheds light on the ordinary people who gave away their money in hopes of treasure in heaven.

Through the Eye of a Needle challenges the widely held notion that Christianity’s growing wealth sapped Rome of its ability to resist the barbarian invasions, and offers a fresh perspective on the social history of the church in late antiquity.

Peter Brown is the Philip and Beulah Rollins Professor of History Emeritus at Princeton University. His many books include The World of Late Antiquity, The Rise of Western Christendom, and Augustine of Hippo.

How Not to Run A Country

 

As our government shuts down today and our leaders fail to find the common ground necessary to settle their differences, they would do well to be reminded of the words of the Roman statesman Cicero:

“In politics it is irresponsible to take an unwavering stand when circumstances are always evolving and good men change their minds. Clinging to the same opinion has never been considered a virtue among statesmen.”

I doubt old Marcus Tullius would think this is any way to run a country. To find out how he thought one should be run and what we might learn from him check out How to Run a Country.

 

How to Run a Country

Patrick E. McGovern’s study is the first to prove using chemical analysis that the Etruscans taught the French Celts in Lattara how to produce wine

Dr. Pat

A cartoon from Dr. Pat’s page on the University of Pennsylvania Museum’s website.

Patrick E. McGovern, author of Ancient Wine: The Search for the Origins of Viniculturespearheaded the research that further confirms Etruscans from Italy heavily influenced wine production in Lattara, an ancient harbor city in the south of France. There had been ancient documents and archaeological findings that already strongly suggested Etruscans presented wines to the Celt dwellers of France at trading stations in Lattara. McGovern and team’s findings only strengthen this notion.

Using biomolecular analysis, McGovern and researchers discovered that fifth century Etruscan pots used for transportation, known as amphorae, had traces of wine imbued with rosemary, basil, and thyme. McGovern’s research also establishes that the Celts living in Lattara began producing the wine at the close of the fifth century.

The team of researchers stumbled upon another fresh discovery: In the past, it was generally understood that limestone presses in Lattara were used to press olives. Using biomolecular anaylsis, just as they did with the amphorae, the group found that the presses were actually used for grapes.

To establish that the compressor was utilized to squash grapes, the researchers obtained consent to carve off a tiny portion of a limestone wine press. The sample was mailed to the University of Pennsylvania Museum, where procedures embracing mass spectrometry were employed to separate and classify chemical compounds present in the rock and earthenware.

The study was printed in the May 1 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Read the original article on The Sacramento Bee’s website: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/06/12/5488741/archaeologists-affirm-frances.html#storylink=cpy

Interested in channeling the local fifth century Gallic people with a little home winemaking? Check out this informative how-to video made by YouTube user martiwf0:

Watch the video via YouTube: http://youtu.be/HjHwC75meuw

Ancient Wine
Patrick E. McGovern

Coming of Age in Second Life by Tom BoellstorffThe history of civilization is, in many ways, the history of wine. This book is the first comprehensive and up-to-date account of the earliest stages of vinicultural history and prehistory, which extends back into the Neolithic period and beyond. Elegantly written and richly illustrated, Ancient Wine opens up whole new chapters in the fascinating story of wine and the vine by drawing upon recent archaeological discoveries, molecular and DNA sleuthing, and the texts and art of long-forgotten peoples.

Patrick McGovern takes us on a personal odyssey back to the beginnings of this consequential beverage when early hominids probably enjoyed a wild grape wine. We follow the course of human ingenuity in domesticating the Eurasian vine and learning how to make and preserve wine some 7,000 years ago. Early winemakers must have marveled at the seemingly miraculous process of fermentation. From success to success, viniculture stretched out its tentacles and entwined itself with one culture after another (whether Egyptian, Iranian, Israelite, or Greek) and laid the foundation for civilization itself. As medicine, social lubricant, mind-altering substance, and highly valued commodity, wine became the focus of religious cults, pharmacopoeias, cuisines, economies, and society. As an evocative symbol of blood, it was used in temple ceremonies and occupies the heart of the Eucharist. Kings celebrated their victories with wine and made certain that they had plenty for the afterlife. (Among the colorful examples in the book is McGovern’s famous chemical reconstruction of the funerary feast–and mixed beverage–of “King Midas.”) Some peoples truly became “wine cultures.”

When we sip a glass of wine today, we recapitulate this dynamic history in which a single grape species was harnessed to yield an almost infinite range of tastes and bouquets. Ancient Wine is a book that wine lovers and archaeological sleuths alike will raise their glasses to.

 

The “Gate to Hell” Unearthed

Italian scientists have reportedly found the “Gate to Hell” among ancient ruins in southwestern Turkey. The discovery was recently announced at an archeology conference in Istanbul, Turkey, according to Discovery News. Commonly called “Pluto’s Gate,” or Plutonium in Latin, the cave was understood to be the portal to the underworld in Greek and Roman mythology, with its entrance filled with lethal vapors. According to the discovery team’s head, Francesco D’Andria, this extraordinary finding helps to confirm and clarify what we know from ancient literary and historic source material.

Plutonium is documented in the description of ancient Hierapolis within Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites (1976), which notes:

Adjoining the temple on the SE is the Plutoneion, which constituted the city’s chief claim to fame. It was described by Strabo (629-30) as an orifice in a ridge of the hillside, in front of which was a fenced enclosure filled with thick mist immediately fatal to any who entered except the eunuchs of Kybele. The Plutoneion was mentioned and described later by numerous ancient writers, in particular Dio Cassius (68.27), who observed that an auditorium had been erected around it, and Damascius ap. Photius (Bibl. 344f), who recorded a visit by a certain doctor Asclepiodotus about A.D. 500; he mentioned the hot stream inside the cavern and located it under the Temple of Apollo. There is, in fact, immediately below the sidewall of the temple in a shelf of the hillside, a roofed chamber 3 m square, at the back of which is a deep cleft in the rock filled with a fast-flowing stream of hot water heavily charged with a sharp-smelling gas. In front is a paved court, from which the gas emerges in several places through cracks in the floor. The mist mentioned by Strabo is not observable now. The gas was kept out of the temple itself by allowing it to escape through gaps left between the blocks of the sidewalls.

D’Andria and his team are currently creating a digital reconstruction of the ancient site. In the meantime, we thought it might be useful to brush up on our own ancient world knowledge. Here’s a quick reading list to get you going:

k235When They Severed Earth from Sky: How the Human Mind Shapes Myth
Elizabeth Wayland Barber & Paul T. Barber
Check out Chapter 1

Myth and History in Ancient Greece: The Symbolic Creation of a Colony
Claude Calame, Translated by Daniel W. Berman
Read Chapter 1

The Mythic Image
Joseph Campbell
One of Princeton University Press’s Notable Centenary Titles

k6773Apocalypse: Earthquakes, Archaeology, and the Wrath of God
Amos Nur, With Dawn Burgess
Here’s the Introduction

Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World
Edited by Richard J. A. Talbert
Winner of the 2000 Association of American Publishers Award for Best Professional/Scholarly Multivolume Reference Work in the Humanities
One of Princeton University Press’s Notable Centenary Titles

Pope Francis and Through the Eye of a Needle

Since the ascension of Pope Francis, there has been much debate over the new pontiff’s concern for the poor, social justice, and his desire for a simple life. Executive Editor Rob Tempio sees this discussion as at the very heart of the debate within the Church over wealth between Augustine and the followers of Pelagius detailed in Peter Brown’s award-winning magnum opus, Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350-550AD:

In his Palm Sunday homily to mark the start of Holy week, Pope Francis enjoined the faithful throngs to lead “simple lives” and reminded them that Christian joy isn’t to be found in “possessing lots of things.” He also relayed something his grandmother used to tell him in Argentina “burial shrouds don’t have pockets” or as he put “you can’t take it with you.” The sentiment in these admonitions echoes Jesus’s claim that no sooner could a rich man enter the gates of heaven, than a camel fit through the eye of a needle.

This teaching of Jesus’s was the centerpiece of a millennia-old internecine struggle within the early Christian Church over the renunciation of wealth. This struggle came to a head in the battle between Bishop of Hippo, St. Augustine, and the followers of the British monk Pelagius who preached radical ideas about wealth and advocated its total renunciation as inimical to the Church’s true mission of ministering to the poor. Augustine eventually won this intellectual battle and the Church went on, following the fall of the Roman Empire, to become among the wealthiest institutions in all of Western Europe. This was thanks to, in no small part, the vast amount of alms and charitable donations it received from those seeking expiation for their sins and entry through the proverbial needle. However, the battle was won, or so it was argued, by accepting the wealth in order to better help the poor and those in need.

This struggle for the soul of Christianity and the role of wealth in the formation of the Catholic Church lies at the center of Peter Brown’s “magnificent” and “magisterial” panorama, Through the Eye of a Needle. With the installation of Pope Francis and his calls for people to reject the “consumer culture” of the modern world and to instead lead simple, austere lives–like that of his namesake–so as to refocus the church’s efforts on social justice for the downtrodden and the poverty-stricken, the time is ripe for a clearer understanding of the Church’s historically vexed relationship with wealth.

–Rob Tempio, Executive Editor and Group Publisher in the Humanities, @robtempio