The Polemarch lives in the Epilyceum

The Polemarch was one of three senior archons who ran classical Athens.  The job title means war leader, but by the time of my stories his job had changed to being mayor of all the resident aliens in the city, of which there were many.  The resident aliens were a big part of the economy.

Like all archon jobs, people got elected Polemarch for a year, and having done the job once you could never be elected to it again.  Also, if you won the election, you moved home.

The Polemarch had an official residence, called the Epilyceum.  (I'm using the latin form of the name here.  The exact transliteration is Epilykaion.)

Aristotle says that the Polemarch's official residence used to be called the Polemarcheum, but the name changed after one man who held the job, a fellow named Epilycos, totally renovated the place out of his own pocket.  Which was rather clever of him because now he'll be remembered forever.  Though I imagine his real motive was along the lines of his wife saying, "I'm not living in that horrible, drafty, run-down place until you fix it up!"

Some modern historians reject Aristotle on the grounds that epilyceum in Greek means "outside the Lyceum".  Since there happened to be a place called the Lyceum, they take it to mean the Polemarch's residence was next door.

It sounds reasonable, but the problem is they're guessing from a distance of 2,600 years, while Aristotle was passing on what was probably common belief a hundred or so years after the fact.  They can't argue that the name is odd.  There was a comedian called Epilycos, so an archon by that name is perfectly possible.

So now you can say to people at parties that the Polemarch lived in the Epilyceum.

What is the oldest name still in use?

Here's a question for you:  what is the oldest name still used by people today?

I had this fun conversation with Aven and Amalia on twitter yesterday, and we weren't able to come to a decisive answer.  Aven cleverly suggested Eve.  Amalia thought maybe Krishna.  My idea was Inana, who appears in the Epic of Gilgamesh.

Some rules:

It has to be a name either written down or provably used by a real person of ancient times.

To be counted as still in use it has to be a name chosen by parents or in some sense natural (i.e. not one deliberately adopted in later life).

The floor is open for suggestions!

The Archimedes Palimpsest: a correction

Some time ago I wrote about the Archimedes Palimpsest.  It's an incredibly ancient book written by Archimedes, that was thought to be totally lost for two thousand years.  Then a copy of it was found underneath a bunch of Christian writings.  A mediaeval monk had re-used the parchment, you see.

Researchers used some very clever imaging systems to recover the original text, at which point they not only discovered a lost ancient book, but they also discovered that Archimedes had been well on the way to discovering calculus, one thousand eight hundred years(!) before Newton and Leibniz got it.

Two days ago a correction appeared in the comments of that post I wrote.  I'd said that the monk who covered over the text was unknown.   Someone named Roger Easton, a newcomer to the blog, wrote to say that the name of the monk was indeed known, and that he's credited with (inadvertently) saving the book.  

I get random comments on older posts all the time, so I didn't give it a lot of thought.

Then the next day it suddenly hit me...the name of the imaging guru who recovered the Archimedes Palimpsest was none other than... Professor Roger Easton.

I think we can take this comment as coming ex cathedra.  Here's what Professor Easton had to say:
The comment that we do not know the name of the monk who erased the original Archimedes text is incorrect -- it is Ioannes Myronas, as discovered in 2006 when the manuscript was imaged using X-ray fluorescence. Dr. William Noel, Director of the Archimedes Palimpsest project, has said that he believes that Myronas may be credited with SAVING the writings rather than destroying them, since he provided a camouflage that actually preserved them.

The (fictional) distribution of death

Here's a fun idea.  My publisher Soho has put a map on their web site showing the location each of their authors uses in their books.  The map's on the front page of their crime imprint.  It doesn't locate the author, it locates the books.

So it's effectively a scene of the crime map!

What's interesting is the distribution of death across the globe.  There are some clear inferences:

If you're worried about being slaughtered by a Soho author, you should avoid traveling to Europe.  The whole place is just a hotbed of crosses on the map.

China and East Asia in general is another good place to avoid.

You'll be perfectly safe in Russia.  Also most African states, the Ukraine, New Zealand and Mongolia.

There's no point trying to hide in the South Pacific.  Someone died in the Solomon Islands.

Australia has a surprisingly high murder rate for the population.  (Don't blame me!  I contributed to the European body count.)

America has a remarkably low murder rate.  The Euro-to-US ratio is the complete opposite of reality.  I wonder why?

The Marathon Conspiracy: cover reveal!

The Marathon Conspiracy is number 4 of the Athenian Mysteries, and here's the cover!

It's another beautiful artwork from professional artist Stefano Vitale.  During the course of the series Stefano has moved to Venice from the US.  So we have an Australian author, a US publisher and an Italian artist.

You might have noticed the bear.  The bear and the skull that Nico holds are part of the story, needless to say.  The stoa in the background is the Sanctuary of Artemis at Brauron.  It is famous, amongst other things, for being one of the world's first school for girls.

Incredibly, we're actually organized for this book.  The release details are already up on the major stores.  Release date is early May 2014.