Julius Caesar was warned to tread carefully in the long grass at Troy lest he step on Hector's ghost: the mythical geography of Greece mirrored that of the real world. The ancient Greeks re-created a physical view of the mythical past that poets, priests and politicians used as a paradigm for contemporary behavior, and they drew upon the world around them not just to illustrate that past, but also in many ways to invent it. Massive fossil bones were giants; strange rocks were petrified heroines; Bronze Age walls and tombs were the work of giants; and artifacts from the past became Achilles' spear, Helen's necklace, Herakles' cup. The Greeks could point to where Poseidon struck the Acropolis with his trident, to Athena's olive tree, to Odysseus' cave in Ithaca. It all enhanced their sense of Greekness and of history, and it came to attract the Roman tourist too. John Boardman explores how the Greeks created and re-created their past in physical terms in both objects and images: those that are recoverable, those that are mentioned in texts, or those that may be imagined. He also assembles the many relevant extracts from classical writers with paraphrases of their content. Presented alphabetically under authors and with indexes to gods, heroes, places and classes of object, these Testimonia provide an absorbing read in their own right as well as useful source material for students.
The Archaeology of Nostalgia offers new insights into the making of myth and the exceptional imagination of a people creating the first modern civilization out of the relics of their past. Sir John Boardman is known and respected the world over as an outstanding authority and teacher in the field of classical art and archaeology. He was Lincoln Professor of Classical Archaeology and Art at Oxford from 1978 until his retirement in 1994. Among his many activities as scholar, archaeologist, art historian, editor and author, Sir John conducted major excavations on Chios (1953-55) and at Tocra in Libya (1964-65). His prodigious output of books includes some thirty titles. A Fellow of The British Academy, he has received numerous honors, including a knighthood in 1989 and honorary doctorates from the Sorbonne and the University of Athens