April 2, 2002
1:43 PM   Subscribe

Remains of a 2,000 year-old library await funds to restart excavation. "All that now remains of the exploration is a huge waterlogged hole in which float the syringes of local heroin addicts."
posted by luser (21 comments total)
Sorry, via RobotWisdom
posted by luser at 1:44 PM on April 2, 2002

Surprised Harvard or..someone doesn't pay the way for this. Seems worthwhile. Think the Italians want to keep all the stuff dug up domestically?
posted by Settle at 1:58 PM on April 2, 2002

Cool link, thanks luser. Sounds fabulous, can you imagine the feeling of opening into that library, all those rows of scrolls...wow

Yup, I'm surprised no one has ponied up.

settle: I was under the assumption that regardless of who dug it up, the Italians get to keep most if not all of the stuff. I may be wrong here, I am not sure, I shall look it up.
posted by bittennails at 2:15 PM on April 2, 2002

This villa was owned by one Lucius (Catullus?) Piso, an extremely influential and powerful man, member of a family that was also extremely powerful.

If you search on the Net for references to this man in connection with Jesus and Christianity, you will find a few web pages written by atheists who claim that this man and/or his family INVENTED Jesus Christ and Christianity (from earlier pagan myths) for their own ends.

As I recall, these web pages cite some evidence. They also claim that the Vatican knows of how Christianity was created.
So therefore, a rationale is presented as for why this apparently priceless treasure has yet to be archeaologically explored. Not to put to fine a point on it--the Vatican (incredibly powerful in Italy) has put the kibosh on this project...for obvious reasons.
posted by username at 2:19 PM on April 2, 2002

Username, here's a link, for what it's worth...
posted by elvissinatra at 2:36 PM on April 2, 2002

That's a helluva wild story...I had never heard of this...
posted by bittennails at 2:41 PM on April 2, 2002

That is a kooky link. Try one of the more "mainstream" ones:


It is apparent to me that these people are indeed on the right track, but for now proof is lost in the mists of time...or maybe it may be more accurate to say that proof is lost at the bottom of a destroyed villa....
posted by username at 2:42 PM on April 2, 2002

It is apparent to me that these people are indeed on the right track ...

Personally, once I got to the fifth "fact" of Piso's authorship that involved the number 6, 66, or 666, I gave up. If the truth of the Bible is that it was invented by numerology geeks, I'm glad the Vatican is squashing it.
posted by rcade at 3:12 PM on April 2, 2002

Yeah, I read a couple of pages from the "mainstream" site's introduction and gave up. Puh-leeze. But if you want to read a cracking good (fictional) conspiracy theory about the "Jesus event," try King Jesus by Robert Graves.

Sadly, it doesn't take a Vatican conspiracy theory to explain why we aren't excavating the site: our priorities are screwed up.
posted by coelecanth at 3:18 PM on April 2, 2002

If the truth of the Bible is that it was invented by numerology geeks, I'm glad the Vatican is squashing it.

Monitor-wrecker of the week.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:27 PM on April 2, 2002

Religious fanaticism aside, this is really very exciting just for the archeological aspects of it alone. How often do you come across an intact library that has been buried for such a period of time ?

I personally could care less about the Vatican and Christianity. I have always considered the bible as the worlds most revered sci-fi fantasy novel anyway.
posted by a3matrix at 3:28 PM on April 2, 2002

So, is that Piso stuff the crux of the booklet that there've always been ads for in the Nation's classifieds ("Scholarly booklet proves Josephus invented Jesus, authored false gospels") ? if so, as an avowed atheist and "fan" of the bible as literature, they seem pretty ignorant of a lot of the agreed-upon facts (origin of our current calendar, theories of gospel development -- the "Q" text and all that -- existence of wordplay and numerological signals in Hebrew -- and in fact other ancient cultures' -- sacred texts, development of the canon as we have it today, etc. etc.). but then again sites like that would have been pretty convincing to me when I was in high school.

as to the lost library...I do hope something happens, that someone steps in with funding and all that...apart form the dialogues of Aristotle and lost plays of Euripedes that the author is speculating about, it would be wonderful to suddenly have a huge body of completely unknown works...forerunners of Apuleius, contemporaries of Plautus, literary epics on the order of Appolonius Rhodius's Argonautica...

well, it's nice to dream for a moment. it may come to nothing.
posted by sherman at 3:33 PM on April 2, 2002

Yes, this undiscovered library may prove a substitute for the lost Alexandrian library, supposedly burned by the Christians when they carved the flesh from Hypatia's bones with oyster shells back in 400 AD?
posted by username at 3:36 PM on April 2, 2002

A library that huge might even contain a load of pr0n which still hasn't been digitized and made available via the net. Heck, that alone could pay for the expedition and turn the entire world economy around!
posted by RevGreg at 3:40 PM on April 2, 2002

"Eight of the world's leading scholars of ancient literature, including four professors of Greek (from the universities of Bristol, Harvard, London and Oxford) have launched a campaign to recover what they believe the villa may still contain"

Does anyone know more about this campaign? Can anyone make a donation to it? I wonder how much money they could get from the public. Calling all philanthropists, lost knowledge from the founders of Western Civilisation needs your help!
posted by homunculus at 3:41 PM on April 2, 2002

It's not the Vatican. I squashed the exploration. See I checked a book out from that library a dozen few centuries ago, and I can't afford to have them coming after me for the late fees.
posted by willnot at 3:56 PM on April 2, 2002

No wonder they can't uncover priceless treasures that lie under their very noses. The goddamned eye-talians are too busy trying to steal my special north pole candy.

(Reference to Pokey the Penguin)
posted by Settle at 4:37 PM on April 2, 2002

Last year, it was announced that advanced imaging technology from Brigham Young University (led by Steven Booras, who's used it for a number of archaeological projects) would be used to read some of the charred texts. The Philomenus Project, covering the entire excavation, has a home page; eventually they hope to collate complete texts of the Epicurean works, especially Philodemus, the author of many found here.

homunculus, here's the home page of the International Center for the Study of the Herculaneum Papyri (in Italian, courtesy the Wayback Machine). At least a mailing address would be there.

Note that in contrast to the black-helicopter stuff about Piso discussed elsewhere, there is no major scholarly expectation of finding works closely related to Christianity.
posted by dhartung at 5:28 PM on April 2, 2002

Thanks dhartung, this stuff is great!
posted by homunculus at 5:52 PM on April 2, 2002

Yes, great links, it's lovely to see pictures, what a difference simple photographs can make.
posted by bittennails at 5:58 PM on April 2, 2002

Where do I send my check? That's the kind of thing that I'd be willing to give lots of money to.
posted by JCB at 7:27 PM on April 2, 2002

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