The Ancient Historian

Ancient history, mountaineering, cycling and other outside adventures

Archive for the month “April, 2013”

Climbing Mt Whitney in March

Finally, I am getting around to reporting on my climb of Mt Whitney via the Mountaineer’s route this past March. As usual, I used IMG, simply an outstanding guiding company, and they did not disappoint. A first class experience all the way. That does not mean it was easy, because it wasn’t. We had a team of five climbers, and two guides, one of whom was one of the owners of IMG and a legend in the mountaineering world, George Dunn. The other guide was Tristan Sieleman, of Sierra Mountaineering International, an authorized guiding company in the Inyo National Forest. One heck of a great guide. So we were set for an adventure. I fly into Las Vegas on March 12, picked up the car ( a yellow bug ?!), hit the cheap hotel, behind the strip, and slept. I spent the next morning waiting for George to arrive, I had great luck that he needed a ride out to Lone Pine CA and I was happy to have his company. We left Vegas around noon and drove West, through Death Valley. Quite something in itself, and my first time seeing this truly spectacular place. Hitting Pahrump NV we passed a promising looking Mexican Restaurant, and had lunch. Simple, but very good. We continued on and hit Lone Pine at around 4 or so. I knew nothing of this town, but it has a real history, and quite a lot of charm for being so remote. I Stayed at the Dow Villa, famous as a place where the movie stars stayed filming the dozens of westerns shot in Lone Pine over the years. A very nice spot. After a quick pizza, I packed up my pack for the early start the next day, took a photo of the Sierras, with Whitney front and center 15 miles away, and wondered what the next day would bring.



The Ptolemaic Serapeum at Sakkara and the Archive of Ptolemy, son of Glaukias, the recluse


I’ve been reading through the early part of a very famous archive from Sakkara, dated to the 160’s BC with students in my Daily Life in the Greek Papyri course this term. It is one of the most fascinating group of texts from the ancient Mediterranean world for sure. Dorothy Thompson’s (who by the way is the next Rostovtzeff lecturer here at Yale, November 2013) Memphis under the Ptolemies, Princeton U Press ( now just out in a 2d ed.) analyzes the archive (all in Greek, but some of the petitions anyway were probably originally in Demotic and translated) in wonderful detail. The BBC did a kind of docudrama of some parts of the archive-makes for fun watching, especially after having read and thought about the texts. I was just recently in Vienna, where the famous Apis embalming text (mentioned in the film) is on display in a lonely corner of one of the rooms. A bit of a shame. It is a profoundly beautiful text written in the finest Demotic hand I’ve ever seen.  There are a few howlers in the film, but it’s fun. The actors are speaking mainly Moroccan Arabic, but there is some Coptic in the dialogue, attempting to vocalize the spoken demotic of the 2d century BC.

The file is here (may take a while to load)

And an American version in 5 parts on Youtube is here

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