Gifts from Warsaw and flowers from Johannesburg…

I am writing this post from my room at The Melville Turret guesthouse in Johannesburg!

The Turret at Melville

I am invited here for the Afro-Byzantine and Greco-African Conference organized by the Department of Greek and Latin Studies at the University of Johannesburg. For the program see here: programme & participants. More about the proceedings as the days advance.

Today I met my main contact at the University of Johannesburg, Dr. Effie Zacharopoulou, a specialist of Axumite and Nubian history who also teaches Greek language and literature and is one of the main organizers of the conference I am attending. Lately, Effie has turned her attention to the formation of the Nobadian state and the role of the Roman Empire, so it was with great pleasure that I presented her with a gift from Artur Obluski: The Rise of Nobadia. Social Changes in Northern Nubia in Late Antiquity. I hope that this marks the beginning of fruitful future collaborations.

Artur’s publication is the 20th supplementum of the renowned Journal of Juristic Papyrology (JJP) where very important works about Christian Nubia have already been published.

This is how the Raphael Taubenschlag Foundation, Chair of Roman Law and the Law of Antiquity, Department of Papyrology of Warsaw University and Editors of JJP (J. Urbanik, T. Derda, A. Lajtar, G. Ochala) proudly present Artur’s work (ISBN 9788392591993, hardcover, xviii + 240 pp., 5 maps, 6 charts, 21 figs., price: 60 EUR):

The author of this book presents an innovative approach to the history of Nubia. The period covered includes the fall of Meroe and the rise of the united kingdom of Nobadia and Makuria. The emphasis was put on the analysis of social and political transformations. Moreover some major improvements of the chronological nomenclature have been suggested. Nowadays we can be certain that after the fall of Meroe there was no political vacuum, but various political organisms immediately started to rise: Nobadia, Makuria and Alwa.

While I have read big parts of Artur’s book, I left my copy back home. I did bring with me though the 22nd supplementum of JJP (ISBN 978-83-938425-1-3, hardcover, xiv + 367 pp., 69 b/w figs., indices; price: 77 EUR), namely Giovanni R. Ruffini’s, The Bishop, the Eparch, and the King. Old Nubian Texts from Qasr Ibrim (P. QI 4):

British excavations at Qasr Ibrim have yielded numerous written sources composed in Greek, Coptic, Old Nubian, and Arabic. However, only a small portion has been published so far, among them some sixty Old Nubian texts, both literary and documents, edited between 1988 and 1991 by Gerald Michael Browne. After the field stagnated for twenty years, Ruffini took up the task initiated by Browne and produced an edition of sixty-two further Old Nubian texts, this time only documents. Documents included in this volume supplement Ruffini’s 2012 monograph (Medieval Nubia. A Social and Economic History) and provide illustration for his reconstruction of social and economic life of the Middle Nile Valley in the 12th–14th century.

You can purchase all the JJP volumes and supplements from here:

There are also some special offers for those who hold a big basket: All volumes of the Journal of Juristic Papyrology (JJP 1-42) can be bought for 500 EUR (including shipping costs), and the same amount will cost the purchase of all volumes of JJP Supplements (i-xxii), including shipping costs. A wise investment of 1000€ indeed!

If now you wish to dive into the knowledge accumulated by another school of studies of the past in Warsaw, namely the  Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology, then things are easier and cheaper. Just click the link below and you will find free online access to volumes 1-19 of the PAM journal:


It was raining as I was writing these lines…

The rains started earlier this year in South Africa, and I was lucky to see the famous jacaranda trees blossomed, a scenery that makes Melville particularly beautiful during this season.


I find it very interesting that the nobelist Greek poet and diplomat, George Seferis, when servicing in South Africa praised the beauty of these trees with the following words:

Jacarandas playing castanets and dancing

threw around their feet a violet snow.

The rest’s uninteresting, and that

Venusberg of bureaucracy with its twin

towers and its twin clocks

profoundly torpid like a hippopotamus in blue sky.

And cars raced by showing

backs glistening like dolphins.

At the end of the street waiting for us –

strutting idly about its cage –

was the silver pheasant of China,

the Eurlocamos Nychtemerus, as they call it.

And to think we set out, the heart full of shot,

saying goodbye

to Onokrotalus the Pelican – he

with the look of a trampled Prime Minister

in the zoological garden of Cairo.

(The translation is from Roy McNab (ed.): George Seferis: South African Diaries, Poems and Letters (Cape Town: Carrefour Press, 1990, and I copied it from a South African blog:

I think it is a good conclusion for this first post from Johannesburg and in anticipation of tomorrow’s visit downtown where I will be attending festivities for the Ohi Day at the premises of the Greek Bishopric in town…

This entry was posted in books, Nubia and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Gifts from Warsaw and flowers from Johannesburg…

  1. Pingback: Around the Archaeology Blog-o-sphere Digest #8 | Doug's Archaeology

  2. ounoginiri says:

    I think that the trees of Athinas street in the Center of Athens are Jacarandas. In spring when they are blossomed all the street has this beautiful mauve- violet color.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.