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Carmela Vircillo Franklin

(b Berlin, Aug 18, 1911; d Cambridge, MA, Sept 6, 2006).

German historian of antiquity and the Middle Ages, active also in Italy and America. Bloch was trained at the University of Berlin under the historian of ancient Greece Werner Jaeger, art historian Gerhart Rodenwaldt and medievalist Erich Caspar from 1930 until 1933, when the rise of National Socialism convinced him to move to Rome. There he received his tesi di laurea in ancient history in 1935 and his diploma di perfezionamento in 1937. He then participated in the excavations at Ostia, Rome’s ancient port, which was an important site in the revival of Italian archaeology under Fascism. At the outbreak of World War II, he immigrated to the USA, and began his teaching career in 1941 at Harvard University’s Department of Classics, where he remained until his retirement in 1982. His experience of totalitarianism shaped both his personal and professional beliefs.

Bloch applied a deep knowledge of epigraphy, history and material culture, art history, literary and archival sources to his research and he had a propensity for uncovering the significance of new or neglected evidence. One such area was Roman history. His first publications, on ancient Rome’s brick stamps (many of which he discovered ...

Article

Gerasa  

M. Rautmann and J. M. C. Bowsher

[anc. Antioch-on-the-Chrysorrhoas; now Jerash]

Ancient city in Jordan, set in the hills of Gilead c. 45 km north of Amman. It flourished from the 2nd century bc to the 7th century ad; the site is in the modern town of Jerash. Founded by Antiochos IV of Syria (reg 175–164 bc), Gerasa first rose to importance as Antioch-on-the-Chrysorrhoas during Hellenistic and Roman times. Its location between Pella and Philadelphia ensured its continued prosperity as one of the cities of the Decapolis in Roman Syria. Gerasa’s shift to the new province of Arabia in ad 106 sparked its greatest urban flourishing, which continued until its capture by the Persians in ad 614 and the Arabs around ad 635. Although ancient Gerasa remained occupied until the 8th century ad, it was devastated by a major earthquake c. ad 746, and later sources suggest that it was abandoned. The site was discovered in 1806 by the German traveller ...

Article

Maskana  

J.-C. Margueron

[Mesken; Meskene; Miskina]

Small town in north Syria on the south bank of the River Euphrates near an ancient site known in antiquity as Emar, in Byzantine times as Barbalissos and in Islamic times as Balis. It lay on an ancient trade route between the Mediterranean, Anatolia and Mesopotamia. The site was excavated in 1929 and again between 1971 and 1976 during salvage operations accompanying the building of the Tabqa Dam. The minaret was dismantled and rebuilt on higher ground, but the ancient site and Maskana itself have been flooded by Lake Assad. Finds are in the National Museum, Aleppo, and the Musée du Louvre, Paris; objects looted from the site are in numerous private collections.

J.-C. Margueron

This Bronze Age city flourished during the 3rd and 2nd millennia bc as a staging-post on a major trade route, where not only goods but also ideas and influences were exchanged. The city is mentioned in the Ebla texts of the second half of the 3rd millennium ...

Article

Tyre  

Nina Jidejian

[Gr. Tyrus; Arab. Sur]

Ancient city in south Lebanon, c. 30 km south of Sidon, which flourished as one of the leading centres of the Phoenicians (see Phoenician). It was originally an island fortress facing Palaetyros (now Tell el-Rashidiyeh). In 332 bc, after an unsuccessful siege of seven months, Alexander the Great joined the island to the mainland with a causeway, thus turning Tyre into a peninsula. The history of the city spans more than 4000 years. The site was first excavated in 1860 by Ernest Renan, and again briefly in 1903; French expeditions surveyed it in 1921 and 1934–6, and since 1947 excavations have been directed by Maurice Chébab. Most of the finds are in the Louvre in Paris and the Musée National in Beirut.

Excavations have revealed little of the ancient city, but in the first half of the 1st millennium bc the skill of its craftsmen was recorded in the Bible (I Kings 5:18; 7:13–45). The magnificent remains of Roman and Byzantine Tyre, however, prove that the city deserved the title ‘Metropolis of Phoenicia’. A splendid avenue bordered with cipollino marble columns and paved with mosaic leads to the southern port. Other remains include a palaestra bordered with grey granite columns from Aswan in Upper Egypt, baths, a rectangular construction with five tiers of steps used for festivals, and cisterns for the flourishing purple dye industry. A monumental archway 20 m high was raised over the principal road leading into Tyre. The city’s aqueduct ran perpendicularly to the road. On both sides spread a vast Roman-Byzantine necropolis, which has yielded about 300 sarcophagi (e.g. Beirut, Mus. N.). Several of the sculptured reliefs depict episodes from the ...