Recent news items of interest:
- The “Jesus’ wife” papyrus
- Giant mosaic in Turkey
- Money gallery at the British Museum
- Roman shipwreck
There’s a lot to like about David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5,000 Years (2011) which is essentially a history of the relationship between money and morality from the dawn of civilization in Sumeria up to the present day. However, in a work that spans so many centuries, regions, and academic disciplines (anthropology, economics, history), some minor errors are bound to crop up. I offer the following comments on Graeber’s references to ancient history in the hopes that they might be fixed in a future edition:
Territories that had never been under Roman rule – in Ireland, Wales… [Graeber, page 61]
The Romans did conquer Wales.
Nehemiah… received permission to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem that had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar more than two centuries earlier… [Graeber, page 81]
This implies that the Temple had been in ruins for two hundred years but rebuilding began in the sixth century with help from the Persian king Cyrus [see the beginning of the book of Ezra]. Perhaps Graeber meant to refer to the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls?
[Annikeris] A Libyan philosopher of the Epicurean school… [ransomed Plato] [Graeber, page 197].
Epicurus lived after Plato so this Annikeris cannot be an Epicurean philosopher.
Scenes from the conference on Money and Power in the Roman Republic, McGill University, Montreal, May 19-21, 2011.
In the fourth century as in the fifth, a city could not run a serious navy without taking a coldly instrumental attitude towards the assets of its gods.
– John K. Davies “Temples, Credit, and the Circulation of Money.” In A. Meadows and K. Shipton, eds., Money and its Uses in the Ancient Greek World (2001) 126.