New article on Sogdian rhyta

Rhyton in the form of a Saiga antelope head, Sasanian, ca. 5th–6th century A.D. Silver-gilt, 11.1 x 7.09 in. (28.19 x 18.01 cm). Rogers Fund, 1947. New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 47.100.82.

I am happy to report that my friend and former Met colleague Betty Hensellek has just published a wonderful article entitled “A Sogdian Drinking Game at Panjikent” (Iranian Studies 52, 837-857). Betty argues that the banqueting murals from Panjikent illustrate a drinking game involving rhyta, and that the relative success of the participants is indicated by the manner in which they wear their kaftans. It is an ingenious study of social history, drinking vessels (including the Saiga antelope head’s rhyton at the Met, pictured above) and modes of dress, and I highly recommend it!

New front runner for weirdest job ad

Last month I posted about a truly bizarre Classics job ad at a Canadian university. Today I came across an ad that tops this one, a postdoc at my alma mater the University of St. Andrews. It is for two four-year research fellows, one specializing in the ‘history of rat-catching,’ and the other in the history of ‘rat-proofing.’ These are part of a project in St. Andrews’ Department of Social Anthropology, sponsored by the Wellcome Trust, entitled ‘The Global War Against the Rat and the Epistemic Emergence of Zoonosis.’ Much as I would like to a) go back to Scotland, and b) have the job title of ‘Research Fellow in Rat-Catching,’ I am unfortunately not qualified for this post, as I lack adequate knowledge of rats. But I encourage those with relevant qualifications to apply!

So much for Novae Famae 2019-20

NF19 has already crashed and burned. Despite the best intentions of its organizers, someone posted a link to an inane SCS op-ed, and the site immediately descended into the racism and vitriol that made its predecessor so unbearable. One need not look any further to see that a) classics is doomed, and b) rightly so.