G.W. Bowersock is Professor Emeritus of Ancient History at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. His next book, The ­Crucible of Islam, will be published in the spring.
 (November 2016)

IN THE REVIEW

On the Election—I

What is to be done about the Republican Party? Sixty years ago it was the party of Dwight Eisenhower and a dynamic suburban middle class putting an end at last to the long reign of the New Deal Democrats. This summer it became the pathetic captive of Donald Trump, a television performer professing to speak for a discontented and sullen middle class.

The Bible and the Perils of ‘Evolution’

‘The Creation of Adam and Eve’; Flemish school, seventeenth century

The Good Book of Human Nature: An Evolutionary Reading of the Bible

by Carel van Schaik and Kai Michel

The Mediterranean World: From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Napoleon

by Monique O’Connell and Eric R. Dursteler
For a Dutch professor of biological anthropology in Zurich, Carel van Schaik, to join forces with a German journalist, Kai Michel, to offer “an evolutionary reading” of the Bible took more than courage. It required a wholesale rethinking of that immense text as nothing less than “humanity’s diary, chronicling both …

The Glory of Pergamon in New York

Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World

an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, April 18–July 17, 2016
The curators of the Metropolitan Museum’s current exhibition have successfully combined loans from Berlin with major pieces from many other collections so as to provide a wide-ranging exploration of the art and culture of the so-called Hellenistic world.

The Classics: A Subtle New View

‘Achilles and Ajax playing dice’; Attic black-figure amphora by Exekias, from Vulci, Italy, circa 540–530 BCE

Classical Literature: An Epic Journey from Homer to Virgil and Beyond

by Richard Jenkyns
The literature of the ancient Greeks and Romans is not so central in contemporary culture as it once was, when Western civilization traditionally traced its roots to the Jews, Greeks, and Romans. In today’s global and multicultural world the Iliad and the Aeneid have taken their place alongside the Confucian …

NYR DAILY

The Venice of the Sands in Peril

The ancient city of Palmyra, a day after ISIS began its siege, May 18, 2015

The fall of the ancient city of Palmyra before the brutal forces of ISIS last week raises the terrifying prospect of damage that could potentially eclipse the recent destruction at Mosul, Nimrud, and Hatra in Iraq. The tragedy of all this is the calculated disregard of a tradition of Palmyrene achievements that really means something to the Arab world.

The Lod Mosaic

It’s not easy to make sense of the remarkable Lod Mosaic, a large, ancient floor newly discovered in Israel and now on display in the United States for the first time at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But the very difficulty of interpretation, together with the excellent state of preservation, is what makes it so fascinating. We simply don’t know whether it was part of a residence or an official building, and we can’t even say whether the owner or owners were Jewish, Christian, or pagan. The date is not secure either, although the excavator proposes about AD 300 because late third-and-fourth-century coins and ceramic scraps were found immediately above it. Miraculously, what is on display at the Met survived intact apart from one large gash near the bottom that the excavator considers ancient damage, although not everyone agrees. The mosaic at the Met is the main part of an ensemble of floor mosaics that the Israeli Antiquities Authority uncovered in 1996 at Lod (ancient Lydda) during the construction of a road between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Measuring some twenty-three and a half feet by thirteen feet, the mosaic consists of a large square containing a central octagonal medallion, with narrow rectangular panels above and below the square.