29 March 2007

Persia: Thirty Centuries of Art

An exhibition in the Hermitage Amsterdam (since 2004, there is a satellite of the Hermitage Museum on the Amstel River) is now showing 200 works of Persian art from the St. Petersburg collection. This cosmetic spatula with a handle in the form of the naked goddess is a rare example of Parthian ivory work (1st-2nd C. AD). Although it comes from a private collection, the closest comparable ivory statuettes are from Susa in Elam (roughly modern Khuzestan), the ancient heartland of the Persian nation. The oriental naked goddess is sometimes pictured (as here) holding a child, but more often she cups her breasts in her hands or extends her arms toward the beholder. The image is very ancient, dating back at least to the Innana/Ishtar figurines of the Old Babylonian period, and was very widespread: she appears in Mesopotamia, Syria, Israel/Palestine, Egypt, and then sailed on to Cyprus, whence she entered into our own inheritance as Aphrodite rising naked from the foamy sea.

(Photograph courtesy of the State Museum the Hermitage, St. Petersburg)

I want to write more about the naked goddess, and about the show in Amsterdam's Hermitage (31 March-16 September 2007), but I'll be travelling for the next few days so this must wait. Still, I'd like to take a moment to fast-forward 2,000 years....

This white silk burqa, created by the Italian fashion designer Gabriella Ghidoni and her Afghan partner, Zolaykha Sherzad, was shown on the cat walk in Kabul in July 2006 -- the first fashion show in Afghanistan for over 30 years. The model is not Afghan, as is evident from her scandalous display of naked fingers and toes. Otherwise, the garment caused no great rise of emotion among the Afghan women invited to attend the fashion show. In the western press, however, the reaction was very different: many journalists thought it a disgrace to design such a garment. I'm not so sure. If you're forced to choose between wearing a burqa or having acid thrown in your face, you might take a "let them wear silk" attitude and get something out of living on the old Silk Road. What do you think?

(My thanks to Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, Director of the Textile Research Centre, Leiden, for the 'burqa on the cat walk' photograph)

25 March 2007

The Calculus of Prostitution and Palmyra

An individual will start to sell prostitution if the price for selling the first amount of prostitution, minus the costs of a worsened reputation for doing so, exceeds the shadow price of leisure evaluated at zero prostitution sold.

Or, to put it in a nutshell, as over at Cosmic Variance:

[(δU/δL) / (δU/δC) | Sp=0] ≤ w - [(δU/δr) / (δU/δC) | S = 0]

This calculation describes when a prostitute finds it worthwhile to sell (typically) her services, where:

* U is the “utility”
* L is the amount of leisure you have.
* C is the amount of goods and services you, as a consumer, consume.
* S is the amount of prostitution you, as a prostitute, sell to your customers.
* W is the going price for prostitutes.
* R is a measure of your reputation.

When discussing prostitution in the ancient world, I think we can leave 'R' out of the equation. Most of the women attested in the sources were slaves [who had no 'L'], ex-slaves (freedom for the slave prostitute did not necessarily mean freedom from prostitution -- a cold fact that makes the connection between slavery and sold sex even closer) or lived in social conditions that were close to slavery [very little 'C']: we know that poor women and children were promised clothing and shoes in return for prostituting themselves.

Prostitution in Roman times was, on any estimate, widespread: a Roman male would encounter prostitutes in bars, inns, outside circuses and amphitheatres, and at festivals and fairs, almost anywhere in the city. For the customer, sex was readily available and inexpensive -- a win-win situation both for the client and the brothel-owner. Slave traders, too, had a flourishing business. Clement of Alexandria tells us that slave wholesalers transported prostitutes as if they were grain or wine, while retailers acquired them as if they were bread or sauce. Such brisk, prosperous trade attracted upper-class investors who, through judicious use of middle-men, largely escaped the social opprobrium associated with it. The jurist Ulpian (I'll talk more about him when we finally return to Julia Mamaea!) coolly declared that "rents which are derived from the lease of urban properties will be included in an estate even though they are derived from prostitution: for brothels are operated even on the properties of many honourable men."

The state, too, could not resist the profits to be made from the sale of sex. Beginning with the Emperor Caligula in 40 AD, a tax was collected at a maximum rate of 1 denarius per prostitute per day -- or so much as she earned with one man [or 'W' -- which ranged from the unfortunately-named fraction of a denarius, the as, earning an estimated 2 - 16 asses per man (16 asses = 1 denarius)]. The best guess for 'S' is that the ladies brought in 2.5 - 3 denarii per day for high-priced and 2 - 2.5 for lower-priced prostitutes (admittedly, two or three times higher than the wages of unskilled male labourers, but, then again, the men could keep their wages). The prostitute tax was a handy source of revenue and was not rescinded until well into Christian times.

The Palmyran connection

In the year 137 AD, the Senate in the city of Palmyra published the tariff and regulations fixing the taxes levied on goods brought into and exported from the city and services provided within it. The 'laws' were inscribed on those huge stones illustrated above in both Palmyrene and Greek

Since in the past most of the dues were not included in the tax law but were only exacted by custom -- because it had been written into the contract that the person collecting the tax should do so according to the law and the custom -- and since it frequently happened in this matter that quarrels arose between the merchants and the tax collectors, it has been decreed that... the dues should be written down, along with the original law, on the stone stele which is opposite the temple called Rabaseire [a god of the underworld; location unknown].

Since you absolutely want to know: the tax on prostitutes thus displayed was 6, 8, or 16 asses per day, the price, presumably here too, of one client encounter. This suggests that the cheaper street walkers caught in the Roman tax trap (the 2 asses types) were either untaxed or non-existent in Palmyra. The law tariff also informs us that a tax of 22 denarii was charged for an imported slave, which makes it quite clear that the import of slave-prostitutes would have been a one-way bet and big money-spinner for the city.

But what the devil is 'U'?

[My remarks on the economics of Roman prostitution are owed to Thomas McGinn's fascinating and learned study, The Economy of Prostitution in the Roman World: A Study of Social History and the Brothel]

16 March 2007

Zenobia's Triumphant Return to Palmyra (Updated)

Zenobia the ibis, that is.

(or, not to put too fine a point on it, the northern bald ibis: © RSPB images).

The rarest birds in the Middle East have just returned to their breeding grounds near Palmyra. Their migration route took them across seven countries, flying more than 3,800 miles to spend the winter in the Ethiopian highlands.

Zenobia's re-appearance in Palmyra (with Sultan and Salam on her tail), has been heralded as a success for the project that began when scientists tagged the three adult birds last summer.

The Palmyran colony was only discovered in 2002 and its numbers have never risen above 13. They are thought to be the last of a Middle Eastern population that formerly numbered several thousand; and the bird is now classified as critically endangered – the highest level of threat there is. The northern bald ibis, Geronticus eremita, is a large bird with black plumage that flashes irridescent purple and green when the light strikes it, with a bald red face, red bill and legs and a strange crest of long feathers on the back of its head, which makes it look as though it is wearing a feather wig. It is usually silent but hisses and grunts (like an angry queen) when at its nest and in display.

Little was known of the birds’ migration before the tracking project began. I've been following the trio on my website (click on Links: Zenobia the ibis) since last July, when they took off for their winter grounds. On the outward journey, the tagged birds unexpectedly spent over three weeks in Yemen. Just when the bird-watchers began to think they might stay there, they shot across the Red Sea to central Ethiopia.

But it was their return route that most surprised the scientists. They flew west rather than east of the Red Sea, crossing from Sudan to Saudi Arabia at the Sea’s widest point of 180 miles. ‘Our hearts were in our mouths,' said a research biologist, 'because they set out to sea quite late in the morning and were still far offshore when night fell.'

Researchers plotted each stop-over and the length and time of each leg and, if you enable Javascript, you can follow their migration online

The bald ibis was revered in ancient Egypt. Regarded as the reincarnation of Thoth, scribe of the gods, the 'crested ibis' or 'crested akh-bird' (not to be confused with the Egyptian 'sacred ibis' which was a different species) was sacred to the god, who was pictured as an ibis-headed man.

This image of Thoth is a carved and painted relief in a room near the sanctuary of the Temple of Karnak, erected by Queen Hatshepsut in the 18th Dynasty. Thoth is pouring a libation over the (now erased) figure of Hatshepsut. There is a cartouche of Hatshepsut above Thoth, but the name too has been partly erased. This damage was done in the reign of her nephew, Thutmose III, who ruled after Hatshepsut and who had been joint pharaoh with her during her lifetime.

[My thanks to Robert Partridge: The Ancient Egypt Picture Library, and editor of the magazine Ancient Egypt for this extraordinary image of Thoth.]

I shall not be side-tracked by Hatshepsut

... even though, after Cleopatra, she is probably the best known female ruler of Egypt. She ruled for about twenty years — first as regent for, then as co-ruler with her nephew, Thutmose III (ca. 1479–1458 BC). She had herself crowned Pharaoh in 1473 BC, thus becoming the first and only female king of Egypt.

No one knows if she was murdered or died of old age but, after her death, her monuments were obliterated and she was erased (quite literally) from history. In Zenobia's time (I mean Queen Zenobia, not the ibis), all memory of Hatshepsut had been lost. And the female Pharaoh would remain lost until modern Egyptologists reconstructed her damaged inscriptions and restored her to her rightful dynastic place.

With the best will in the world, I cannot bring her into the story of Zenobia, either queen or ibis.

Update: Some splendid photographs of Northern Bald Ibises were taken by Gianluca Serra of the Palmyra Project (UN FAO) in the Talila nature reserve, the first functional protected area in Syria. The reserve was not just set aside for Zenobia and Team Ibis, of course, but the many wild animals that were either hunted to extinction in Syria (such as the Arabian oryx, now reintroduced) or endangered (the Arabian deer, Maha). More information on the reserve, which can now be visited with guides, on ecotourism syria, an enthusiastic new site -- even if I doubt the "lions and tigers" that they claim for Syria's wildlife. Although there were lions living along the banks of the Euphrates in Queen Zenobia's time, they are certainly long extinct; tigers, as far as I know, never roamed Syria in historical times (but I would be happy to be proven wrong).

(left) Cagan Sekercioglu
A tagged Northern Bald Ibis Geronticus eremita
© 2008 BirdLife International. Working together for birds and people

Syria’s tiny population of Northern Bald Ibises is doing well at its protected breeding site, but the young birds are not returning to the colony.

2007 ...the freshly fledged chicks separate early from parents during the first migration. In fact the survey confirmed that only the four adults wintered on the Ethiopian highlands. There was no trace of the other nine birds, six freshly fledged chicks and three subadults. “We realised that we had scratched just the surface of the mystery of the migration of these birds: where have the younger birds gone? We have good reasons to believe that they have not died out, and they have probably gone to winter in a different location and country -Yemen, perhaps?

Update 28 September 2008 : Breeding failure prompts captive breeding proposal for Syria’s Northern Bald ibis

A workshop on conservation of the Critically Endangered Northern bald ibis concluded that the Palmyra birds should be supplemented with juveniles taken from the expanding semi-wild population at Birecik, Turkey. Chris Bowden of the
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds explained that captive breeding was a last resort, as there is no guarantee of success following a total breeding failure at the colony in the past year. 'If fewer than two pairs attempt to breed next year, we will hit the emergency button. The Birecik birds are genetically similar, and so they are the obvious source for supplementation."

Read the rest of the story at Wildlife Extra.

(Right: photo by J. Crisali)

13 March 2007

The Curious Case of Elagabalus' Beard

He shaved his minions' groins, using the razor with his own hand -- with which he would then shave his own beard.

This rank insult by (the possibly fictitious) Aelius Lampridius in the Historia Augusta comes hard on the heels of an equally squalid but entirely contradictory charge:

In the public baths he always bathed with the women, and he even treated them himself with a depilatory ointment, which he applied also to his own beard, and shameful though it be to say it, in the same place where the women were treated and at the same hour.

How revolting! Elagabalus not only used hair-removal creams on his chin and chops but spread it on his pubic area as well – proof positive of a perverse, effeminate nature: prostitutes, courtesans, and probably upper class women were smooth all over, applying psilothron (melted pine resin in oil), boiling dropax (bryonia?), or a waxing plaster called Venetian clay to legs, arms, and intimate places. The poet Martial, in this (as in so much else) is explicit about that last point:

Epigram III.74

You smoothe your face with psilothron and your bald scalp with dropax. Are you scared, Gargilianus, of the barber? What happens with your nails? For surely you can't cut them with resin or Venetian clay. Desist, if you have any shame, from displaying your wretched bald scalp: this, Gargilianus, is what usually happens with a cunt.

Elagabalus is thus accused both of shaving his catamites’ privy parts with the razor he used on his very own beard, and also of being smooth like a woman on his chin and below the belly too. The author may be confused but not a jot less censorious: he had his whole body depilated, deeming it to be the chief enjoyment of life to appear fit and worthy to arouse the lusts of the greatest number.

The word of Cassius Dio, Senator

Dio, who nicknamed the emperor 'Sardanapalus' (after he was safely dead), was quoted in the previous post, as saying that Elagabalus had once “shaved his chin and held a festival to mark the event; but after that he had the hairs plucked out, so as to look more like a woman.” While Dio does not charge him with pubic depilation, he goes one better:

He carried his lewdness to such a point that he asked the physicians to contrive a woman's vagina in his body by means of an incision, promising them large sums for doing so.

The purpose of what would have been the world’s first transgender operation is as predictable as it was deplorable:

[He] set aside a room in the palace and there committed his indecencies, always standing nude at the door of the room, as the harlots do, and shaking the curtain which hung from gold rings, while in a soft and melting voice he solicited the passers-by.

“Thus far,” says the conservative Senator, “I have described events with as great accuracy as I could in every case.”

A trustworthy source?

The "haunting portraits" of Elagabalus at the top of the page caused a brief flurry in the learned blogosphere last Christmas when David Derrick published them on The Toynbee Convector. As he pointed out, it had been a deliberate Christian choice to usurp the Sun-god's natal celebration for Christ's birthday (earlier, I think, than David says: it was still within the reign of Constantine I). It had been Elagabalus, of course, who had introduced the Imperial cult of the Sun-god to Rome (which makes him, I suppose, a kind of mega-great-godfather to Christmas). Meanwhile, Adrian Murdoch on Bread and Circuses observed to his own surprise,"If my eyesight is not failing me ... it seems to show an imperial statue sporting a [moustache]."

A moustache?

“There is no [other] image in the whole history of the empire showing a Roman wearing a moustache on its own. Indeed ... there is not even a Latin word for ‘moustache’.”

David rejoined, ”It may just be a sign of Elagabalian eccentricity.... And if that was unknown in the Roman world, all the more reason [for him] to have done it."

Our sources say he depilated. These statues show a moustache. Did he, or didn't he?

Coins don't lie (at least not so much)

Elagabalus’ image on his coins show four stages (I am following Jona Lendering at Livius.Org on the stages). Note the growth of facial hair:

* a boy's portrait

* a lad with longer sideburns

* sideburns up to the chin and a moustache

* with a full beard.

Elagabalus had become emperor when a little more than 13 years old and died in his 18th year. If anything, he seems positively precocious to have sported a curly beard at the age of 18. He hardly had time to shave, let alone to depilate too, before losing his head entirely. The point is: the Senator (and the gossips) seem to have made it all up, and had no qualms at spreading unfounded scurrilous tales. Another stick with which to beat the dead “Assyrian”.

I wonder if it wasn't the oddity of the moustache that first provoked the whole mess. A worse breach of Roman decorum than we now know (though strangely not mentioned in our sources). It may, indeed, be an eastern custom. I’ve found some statues of Parthian nobles who do have moustaches and no accompanying beards. Too few and too separated in time for any firm conclusion, but, again, suggestive of an eastern habit entirely misunderstood and twisted by the Roman elite.

And this is the reason why:
Elagabalus in the gown of the Priest of the Sun.

It's a drag to be an Emperor.

Before we go: What about the third Julia, his mother Julia Soaemias?

History has not been kind: “She lived like a harlot and practised all manner of lewdness in the palace.”

The first measure enacted after her son's death, we are told, provided that no woman should ever enter the senate, and that whoever should cause a woman to enter, his life should be declared doomed and forfeited to the kingdom of the dead.

08 March 2007

Speaking of beards

Sir Flinders Petrie

A great archaeologist and a great beard.

The sites he dug include innumerable tombs and major towns and trading centres in Egypt, Israel, and the Gaza Strip. An exhibition at The Brunei Gallery in London highlights his excavations in Gaza where he worked in the 1920s and 1930's. He found immense amounts of pottery, jewellery, and a huge variety of tools. This is the first time that many of these artefacts have been on public display. But the exhibition is much more than a showcase for remarkable objects. It draws on the letters, notebooks and photographs kept by Petrie and his colleagues.

I haven't seen the show yet but this is already my favourite. The handwriting reads One of the Hyksos houses - Bedawy girl washing Hyksos potsherds. This must refer to the Hyksos levels at the site of Tell el-Ajjul in Gaza, where Petrie discovered several hoards of gold and silver jewellery dating to the mid 2nd-millennium BC. The Hyksos were the "despised Asiatics" who ruled much of Egypt between 1640-1550 BC and el-Ajjul was probably their Palestinian capital.

Washing of potsherds is a common sight on all archaeological digs, but I've never seen women or girls openly performing this task in the Middle East. Have I missed something? Or were Bedouin girls freer in the past than they are now? They are clearly mixing with men who are unrelated to them: note the pith-helmeted chap in the background together with another woman. Very odd.

The exhibition is on until 24th March. If you're in the London area, hurry to see it.

Update: An illustrated catalogue is available from the Brunei Gallery Bookshop priced, for the duration of the exhibition, £20; after that £25. You can also order the catalogue from The Museum Bookshop (where I buy most of my Egyptology books): it's in stock.

Next, as promised, the curious case of Elagabalus' beard.

04 March 2007

More Uppity Women: the 4 Julia's (Part III) ... continued

Do you believe a word of it?

I don't think I do, or rather only the last paragraph: Elagabalus did make Alexander his Caesar and both Julia Maesa and Julia Soaemias were present on that day (26 June 221) in the Senate.

Maesa may have persuaded Elagabalus to adopt his cousin by arguing something like this: "Bassianus, my pet," (for she would hardly have called him by the name of the god that they both adored) "you should devote yourself to your divine duties and the worship of our god, since that is what you most love in life. Let someone else look after worldly affairs and keep you free from the cares and worries of the empire." And she might have added, "We don't want someone from outside the family," and sotto voce, certainly not your favourite charioteer, "but the task should be kept in Severan hands, like those of your little cousin." It was quite incidental that, given Alexander's youth, Maesa would thus remain the
de facto ruler of the Roman Empire.

Clearly, Julia Soaemias did not have the power to resist her mother. Indeed, you may have noticed that she was largely absent in the earlier post ostensibly dedicated to her name. I apologize for slighting her, but this is due to Maesa's continued domination. She was the one pulling the strings.

However, things didn’t go quite as she had planned. Or did they?

Julia Soaemias versus Julia Mamaea

Not everyone appreciated the emperor's passion for Sol Invictus Elagabal, while his marriage and remarriage to a Vestal Virgin was a running scandal. The sources mention criticism, coming mostly from the Senate. After a while, voices of discontent were heard among the Praetorian Guards as well. The behaviour of the emperor may have been quite normal in Emesa, in Rome it was unacceptable. The man who was expected to represent Roman virtues, was a Syrian in all his ways and merely proved that the Roman anti-Syrian prejudices were exactly right.

When all that was once held in respect was reduced in this way to a state of dishonour and frenzied madness, everyone, and particularly the praetorians, began to grow bitterly angry. They were revolted at the sight of the emperor with his face made up more elaborately than a modest woman would have done, and effeminately dressed up in golden necklaces and soft clothes, dancing for everyone to see in this state. So they inclined more favourably towards Alexander, expecting better things of a boy who was receiving such a modest and serious education.

For Mamaea was bringing up Alexander like a little Roman.

[She] removed him from contact with activities which were shameful and unbecoming for emperors. In private she summoned teachers of all the arts, and trained him in the exercise of self-control, introducing him to the wrestling schools and manly exercises, and gave him both a Latin and a Greek education. [Elagabalus]was absolutely furious about this and regretted the adoption of Alexander and his participation in the empire. He cleared out all Alexander's teachers from the court, executing some of the extremely distinguished ones and driving others into exile.

One unsurprising consequence is that the two mothers viciously quarrelled. Openly at variance with each other, both "were inflaming the spirits of the soldiers." In what must have been a bitter struggle for praetorian loyalty, Soaemias didn't rise to the challenge: it was Mamaea who had inherited the skills and guile of her mother.

Although Alexander was winning favour, it would have been foolish to leave things to chance, so, of course, Mamaea also privately handed over some money for clandestine distribution to the soldiers. In this way she hoped to capture the loyalty of the soldiers with money as well, always the most attractive inducement for the men.

In this conflict, Julia Maesa and the Senate backed the Caesar. The crisis came to a head during a visit of Elagabalus and his mother to the Praetorians' camp on 11 or 12 March 222:

[He] became aware that he was under guard and awaiting execution ... so he made an attempt to flee, [but was] discovered and slain, at the age of eighteen. His mother, who embraced him and clung tightly to him, perished with him; their heads were cut off and their bodies, after being stripped naked ... and dragged through the city for a long time and mutilated, were thrown into the sewers which run down to the River Tiber.

His name was expunged from the public records and his images and statues were destroyed. Julia Soaemias, having already been the only female member of an imperial family ever to have been dragged through the streets and dumped into the sewer, also suffered a damnatio memoriae; and her images, too (such as the statue pictured above) were mutilated.

Alexander, though extremely young and very much under the tutelage of his mother and grandmother, was greeted as emperor by the soldiers and conducted up to the palace.

Julia Maesa died not long after the accession of Alexander: perhaps in 223, but in any case before 3 August 224. She had chosen well, and was deified.

Orientalism Gone Wild

What's wrong with this story?

[Elagabalus] served ... huge platters heaped up with the viscera of mullets, and flamingo-brains, partridge-eggs, thrush-brains, and the heads of parrots, pheasants, and peacocks. And the beards of the mullets that he ordered to be served were so large that they were brought on, in place of cress or parsley or pickled beans or fenugreek, in well-filled bowls and disk-shaped platters -- a particularly amazing performance. For ten successive days, moreover, he served wild sows' udders with the matrices, at the rate of thirty a day, serving, besides, peas with gold-pieces, lentils with onyx, beans with amber, and rice with pearls; and he also sprinkled pearls on fish and truffles in lieu of pepper.

And so on ... and so fantasizingly on.

Greeks and Romans liked to believe that all eastern potentates devoted themselves to luxury: that they stayed indoors in their self-indulgence, were thus pale and unmanly, and never seen by anyone except their eunuchs and wives (it's hard to imagine such kings leading armies -- as they certainly did -- but inconsistency was not a hobgoblin for ancient authors). Elagabalus had proved himself not to be a Roman; therefore he was a Syrian, and depraved, extravagant, and feminine.

In a banqueting-room with a reversible ceiling he once overwhelmed his [guests] with violets and other flowers, so that some of them were actually smothered to death, being unable to crawl out to the top.

This deliciously decadent story, painted by Lawrence Alma-Tadema, as illustrated above, is probably right about the reversible ceiling (Nero had it, too), but the rest is overheated fantasy, typical of ancient writing about Elagabalus. As if, once they started, they couldn't stop. Cassius Dio sneeringly refers to the emperor as 'Sardanapalus', the name of the legendary king of Assyria who was said to have outdone all eastern kings in his sybaritic way of life. And Sardanapalus was, of course, more of a woman than a man. When a visitor came to his palace, he saw

...the king with his face covered with white lead and bejewelled like a woman, combing purple wool in the company of his concubines and sitting among them with knees uplifted, his eyebrows blackened, wearing a woman's dress and having his beard shaved close and his face rubbed with pumice (he was even whiter than milk, and his eyelids were painted), and when he looked upon [him]he rolled the whites of his eyes.

Exactly the same accusations were leveled against Elagabalus:

He worked with wool, sometimes wore a hair-net, and painted his eyes, daubing them with white lead and alkanet [a red-dyed ointment used to colour faces, similar to modern rouge]. Once, indeed, he shaved his chin and held a festival to mark the event; but after that he had the hairs plucked out, so as to look more like a woman.

Need we go on? What is astonishing is that so many modern commentators believe this tripe. In fact, to prove the point, I shall write one more post on the subject of Elagabalus' beard, before (finally!) turning to the last of the four Julia's.

02 March 2007

Never Put Off Till Tomorrow....

Yes, now you know I'm a procrastinator. The post on Julia Soaemias would have been finished, as I said, "tomorrow (if I can)", but I couldn't. Instead, I've put an e-mail alert on the blog so that readers needn't waste time only to find that I've again put off till tomorrow what ought to have been done today. Do subscribe.

And I'll try to finish the post this weekend (if I can).

Meanwhile, enjoy "Greek cows throughout the ages."

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