Maurizio Forte a professor at Duke University, uses satellite photos and high-tech imaging technology to look at the remains of a Roman villa hidden below ground. Using this remote data, his students are creating a virtual replica of the building.
Forte’s work involves less traditional archaeological skills as he will work in a new Smith Warehouse lab being designed for him and other visual artists and scientists as well as spending time within the impressively named Immersive Virtual Environment facility where he can examine virtual ruins in Turkey, China, Italy and elsewhere. He wants to bring ancient civilizations back to life, and simulate them with an unusual level of detail and accuracy.
He realises that technology used in innovative ways can be a catalyst for new ideas and by combining the talents of people with different backgrounds and approaches it is possible to share knowledge and take a different approach from the traditional views.
“His work depends on teamwork and he really values collaboration,” said Carla Antonaccio, chair of the classics department. Though trained in Roman archaeology, what Forte does is not bound by a particular place or culture, allowing a free and radical approach to studying the past.Different approaches
Forte’s brand of visual, virtual archaeology is attracting different students to archaeology as well – with backgrounds in computer and environmental science as well as visual arts and architecture.
At least one core principle remains, however. In piecing an ancient community back together, either in person or virtually, Forte makes the distinction between re-creating it and simulating it. He isn’t re-creating these ancient communities; rather, he and his students are applying their knowledge of these ancient places and peoples to make their best – but educated – guess about the design and how people lived. And how much easier if you can immerse yourself in the virtual world.
The work they do remains public domain, an interactive, digital textbook of sorts for use by other scholars and any who want to explore that data.
“Any scientific approach uses inferences and hypothetical analyses,” he said. “We cannot reconstruct the past, but we can simulate it because the past itself is fluid. Our job is to be open to multiple interpretations and perspectives.”
Source: Duke University
Duke University. Cyber Archaeology examines ancient cultures. Past Horizons. April 12, 2013, from http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/04/2013/cyber-archaeology-examines-ancient-cultures For Archaeology News – Archaeology Research – Archaeology Press Releases
A team of archaeologists from the University of Southampton have used the latest in digital imaging technology to record and analyse carvings on the Rapa Nui (Easter Island) statue Hoa Hakananai’a.
James Miles, Hembo Pagi and Dr Graeme Earl from the Archaeological Computing Research Group at the University of Southampton teamed up with archaeologist Mike Pitts to examine the statue at the Wellcome Trust Gallery in the British Museum.
Dr Earl explains: “The Hoa Hakananai’a statue has rarely been studied at first hand by archaeologists, but developments in digital imaging technology have now allowed us to examine it in unprecedented detail.”
Hoa Hakananai’a was brought to England in 1869 by the crew of HMS Topaze and is traditionally said to have been carved around AD1200. Rapa Nui is home to around 1,000 similar statues, but Hoa Hakananai’a is of particular interest because of the intricate carvings on its back.
It is popularly believed that around AD1600 the Rapa Nui islanders faced an ecological crisis and stopped worshipping their iconic statues. They turned instead to a new birdman religion, or cult. This included a ritual based around collecting the first egg of migrating terns from a nearby islet, Motu Nui. The ‘winner’, whose representative swam to the islet and then back with the egg, was afforded sacred status for a year.
Hoa Hakananai’a survived this shift in religious beliefs by being placed in a stone hut and covered in carved ‘petroglyphs’, or rock engravings, depicting motifs from the birdman cult. As such, it may be representative of the transition from the cult of statues to the cult of the birdman.
The team from the University of Southampton examined Hoa Hakananai’a using two different techniques: Photogrammetric Modelling; which involved taking hundreds of photos from different angles to produce a fully textured computer model of the statue, capable of being rotated in 360 degrees; and Reflectance Transformation Imaging; a process which allows a virtual light source to be moved across the surface of a digital image of the statue, using the difference between light and shadow to highlight never-seen-before details.
James Miles, a PhD student at Southampton, comments: “Despite the wonders of modern technology, creating accurate, detailed geometric models of these kinds of complex surfaces remains a painstaking task. We have more work to do but the virtual versions already provide a more interactive way of studying Hoa Hakananai’a.”
Using these techniques, the team made some fascinating discoveries, perhaps the most significant being the apparently simple recognition that a carved bird beak is short and round, not long and pointed as previously described: this allowed the two birdmen on the back to be marked as male and female, unlocking a narrative story to the whole composition relating to Rapa Nui’s unique birdman cult. They also realised that the statue is one of the few on Easter Island that did not stand on a platform beside the shore. It is now believed to have always stood in the ground, where it was found, on top of a 300 metre cliff.
Pitts comments: “Study of the tapering base suggests that rather than being the result of thinning to make it fit into a pit, as often suggested, it is more likely part of the original boulder or outcrop from which it was carved. This may also explain why, as we now see it in the British Museum, it appears to lean slightly to the left – its uneven end resulted in its being incorrectly set into its 19th century plinth.”
Other observations from the digital imaging include:
- When it was half-buried by soil and food debris, small designs known as komari, representing female genitalia, were carved on the back of the head.
- At a later date, the whole of the back was covered with a scene showing a male chick leaving the nest, watched by its half-bird, half-human parents – the story at the heart of the birdman ceremony, recorded in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
- A round beak on the right birdman in the scene described above. This can be read as a sign of female gender, and confirmation of the male / female bird ‘parents’. The female birdman is matched by the female komari on the right ear of the statue, and the male on the left by a paddle on the left ear – a symbol of male authority.
- A rounded shape near the lower part of the right birdman, possibly the egg the male chick hatched from. Another possibility is the ring clutched in the two birdmen’s arms has been re-imagined as an egg.
- Faint indications of fingers around the navel, which may have once been more prominent, but later removed.
It’s hoped the imaging carried out by the University of Southampton’s Archaeological Computing Research Group will open new debate on the significance of the engravings of Hoa Hakananai’a.
The photogrammetry model was created with Agisoft PhotoScan software and analysed in MeshLab; the RTIs were made and viewed with open source software produced by Universidade do Minho and Cultural Heritage Imaging, using equipment funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council.
Source: University of SouthamptonMore Information
- Archaeological Computing Research Group, University of Southampton http://acrg.soton.ac.uk/blog/3169/
University of Southampton. Hoa Hakananai’a – Rapa Nui statue tells a new story. Past Horizons. April 12, 2013, from http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/04/2013/hoa-hakananaia-rapa-nui-statue-tells-a-new-storyFor Archaeology News – Archaeology Research – Archaeology Press Releases
The Late Palaeolithic site of Ouriakos is located on the south-eastern coast of the island of Limnos in the northern Aegean. It was discovered in 2006 during the construction of a car park close to the beach which removed part of a sand dune.
The site is partly located on a Pleistocene calcarenite marine terrace, some 10m above present sea level, delimited by two seasonal streams. A profile along the right bank of the southern stream shows a buried dark clayey palaeosoil that developed above the calcarenite, containing chipped stone artefacts at its top, and which was sealed by a sand dune.
Surface collections made in 2008–2010 on the exposed archaeological surface , and the excavations that followed in 2009–2012, revealed that the site extends for some 1500m⊃2;.
The lower part of this deposit yielded a few unidentifiable bone fragments, a burnt sample of which was AMS-dated to 10 390±45 uncal BP/10 564–10 124 cal BC at 2σ (GrA-53229), suggesting that the site was settled during an advanced period of the Younger Dryas cold oscillation (c. 11 000–10 000 uncal BP; Lowe et al. 2001: tab. 3). Ichipped stone artefacts were recovered.read the full project Gallery report on www.antiquity.ac.uk
A dig at the Walton Basin in Radnorshire is lending weight to the theory that there may have been a Neolithic tribal centre based in the area.
The site has been dated back to between 3800 and 2300BC and shows remains of palisades, cursuses (lengths of bank) and enclosures that all bear some resemblance to monuments found at Stonehenge.
The Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust has been carrying out intermittent excavations on the site for close to 40 years. dig at a site in Mid Wales is lending weight to the theory that there may have been a Neolithic tribal centre based in the area.
Mid Wales could have been home to a “Neolithic theme park” used for gatherings, religious rituals and feasts, archaeologists suggest.
A dig at the Walton Basin in Radnorshire is lending weight to the theory that there may have been a Neolithic tribal centre based in the area.
The site has been dated back to between 3800 and 2300BC and shows remains of palisades, cursuses (lengths of bank) and enclosures that all bear some resemblance to monuments found at Stonehenge.
The Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust has been carrying out intermittent excavations on the site for close to 40 years.
read the full article on www.walesonline.co.uk
Visitors to the Stanford Archaeology Center find modern glass cases filled with fragments of a lost city – wooden toothbrushes and combs, buttons and leather shoes, ceramic bowls and soup spoons – remnants of the once thriving Chinatown community in San José.City beneath the city
Free to the public and running until June 30, City Beneath the City offers a glimpse into one of the largest Chinese communities in America in the 19th century. Yung, who has developed exhibits that address social issues for museums in Europe and the United States, wanted to draw attention to the racism that culminated with arson and the destruction of the Market Street Chinatown in 1887.
Complete, reconstructed and fragmented rice bowls, opium pipes and glass bottles that survived the fire sit in pristine display cases and beneath are a series of metal drawers.
They are described as “the guts, the depths of that history” that visitors must open in order to reveal the items inside – hair combs, a porcelain doll leg before they are essentially ‘re-buried’ when the drawers close, until the next visitor reveals them again.Opening drawers to rediscover the artefacts. Image: CBC Exhibit Simple items – complex objects
Yung, herself an immigrant from Hong Kong who spent her teen years in the South Bay, designed the installation to reflect “a dynamic set of relationships between fragments and whole, history and present.” The porcelain bowls and colourful glass vials are beautiful to look at, but they are not just aesthetic items – they are “complex objects bearing social, cultural and political significance,” she added.A word evokes alternative feelings about the recovered bag of fishbones. Image: CBC Exhibit
For two decades in the late 1800s, the community was home to more than 1,000 Chinese immigrants. Thousands more visited the area to see family, pick up mail, go to restaurants, see doctors or attend shows at the local opera house. Following the fire in 1887, the artefacts that are now part of City Beneath the City lay buried for a century before being excavated in the 1980s. A lack of resources meant they received little attention for another 20 years.
Barbara Voss, a Stanford associate professor in anthropology, became the primary investigator on the Market Street Chinatown Archaeology Project in 2002 when Stanford partnered with the Chinese Historical and Cultural Project and History San José to curate thousands of artefacts ranging from household and personal items to seeds and animal bones.
City Beneath the City, said Voss, “gets archaeology out of the laboratory,” helping inform everyone about local history. “The seemingly mundane items are a record of daily life that has been missing about the Chinese” said Voss.
Voss continued, “Typically, archaeologists use materials from the past to learn about the past, but Rene Yung has shown us how artefacts can be used to spark new perceptions about present-day issues.”
In addition to the exhibit, anyone can interact with this era in history during a quarterly public excavation.
Source: Stanford University, by Veronica MarianMore Information
- City Beneath the City
- CBC Exhibit Photo Gallery
- Stanford Archaeology Center
- Market Street Chinatown Archaeology Project
Stanford University. Lost Chinatown art installation brings archaeology out of the laboratory. Past Horizons. April 11, 2013, from http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/04/2013/chinatown-brings-archaeology-out-of-the-laboratory For Archaeology News – Archaeology Research – Archaeology Press Releases
A partnership involving Wajarri Traditional Owners and two archaeologists from the University of Western Australia is seeing sites of extraordinary cultural and archaeological significance investigated and documented in Western Australia’s remote Weld Range.The Weld Range. Image: Karina Williams Cultural importance of ochre mines
The 60km-long range in the Murchison – about 600km north-east of Perth – is home to the National Heritage-listed Wilgie Mia and Little Wilgie ochre mines and known to contain at least 18 more sites of critical cultural importance.Wilgie Mia Ochre Stockpile south of the Weld Range. Image Duncan Wright
They include ecologically diverse hunting and camping grounds, waterholes, rock shelters, law grounds, specialist seed-gathering places, burial grounds, quarry sites, rock-art sites (often dominated by hand stencils of women and children) and stone arrangements, including one used to teach young boys undergoing initiation how to navigate by the stars.
“These places present a rare insight into past lifeways, communication, trade and marriage networks as well as the underlying cosmology of a living culture,” archaeologist, Project Co-ordinator and UWA Masters student Viviene Brown said.
Wajarri Traditional Owners have worked closely for several years with archaeologists from UWA’s Eureka Archaeological Research and Consulting Centre to gather site data but there is little official record so far of the cultural and archaeological treasures they have uncovered.
Research Project Director Dr Vicky Winton said a key goal of the federally-funded Weld Range Web of Knowledge project was to produce a cultural heritage management plan for prospective land users to ensure a collective approach to heritage management rather than the current piecemeal approach. The project would also foster the archaeological recording and reporting skills of Wajarri Traditional Owners to enable them to secure better heritage outcomes.Engaged in active recording of cultural heritage
“This is their heritage and they are deeply committed to its protection,” Ms Brown said.
Wajarri Traditional Owner Colin Hamlett said the project was important for all Australians, particularly future generations.Brendan Hamlett recording rock art in 2011. Image: Jane Fyfe
“When I was at school they were teaching us about other country’s culture and language, but people in Australia should be learning about Australia and the history of traditional Aboriginal people,” Mr Hamlett said. “We thank UWA’s Eureka group for making this possible.”
UWA Eureka centre Director Professor Joe Dortch said he was excited to see the continuing partnership between the University and Wajarri Traditional Owners strengthened by the Federal Government’s Indigenous Heritage Program.
“The Weld Range Web of Knowledge Project shows how archaeologists and traditional owners, by working closely together, can produce excellent results in both cultural heritage management and research.”
The Indigenous Heritage Program – administered by the Federal Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities – has granted Ms Brown, Dr Winton and a core group of Wajarri Traditional Owners $229,800 over three years, including funding for three 11-day field trips.
Source: University of Western AustraliaMore Information
- Eureka Archaeological Research and Consulting Centre
- Mind the gap: recent results of a survey for Aboriginal archaeological sites in the Weld Range, Murchison region, Western Australia
Vicky Winton, Viviene Brown & Richard Everett Cameron Antiquity Vol 84 Issue 325 Sept. 2010
- Australian National Heritage Listing of Wilgie Mia Aboriginal Ochre Mine
- Ethical Engagement Consultancy
University of Western Australia. Traditional owners protect their own cultural treasures. Past Horizons. April 10, 2013, from http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/04/2013/traditional-owners-protect-their-own-cultural-treasures
For Archaeology News – Archaeology Research – Archaeology Press Releases
A classic example of interweaving a fictional character with an historical figure is Bram Stoker’s, Count Dracula with that of Vlad III, the infamous 15th century ruler of Wallachia.
A portrait of Vlad “Țepeș” (the Impaler) – after his favourite manner of execution – hangs in Ambras Castle in the Austrian Tyrol. To tourists who visit Romania this famous portrait represents the Count Dracula of fiction, as surely as any Hollywood film poster.
To a Romanian though, this view is sacrilegious, but in examining the huge success of a temporary exhibition opened in the capital city of Bucharest in 2010, promoting that same overlapping of fiction and historical reality, it is obvious that no-one is immune. This was the first time that the portrait from Ambras Castle was shown in Romania and was also used in the official publicity poster. The exhibition entitled, “Dracula: Voivode and Vampire” did not include the name of Vlad in its title.
Taking account of this interplay between fact and fiction and how it is presented to the public, it is interesting to compare the treatment of two separate Romanian sites; Bran Castle and Poienari Fortress. Both sites are located in the Carpathian Mountains and are surrounded by wonderful landscapes, situated near spectacular routes (Rucăr-Bran mountain pass and Transfăgărășan, respectively).Bran Castle
Historically speaking, there is absolutely no connection between Bran Castle and Vlad III. Built by Transylvanian Saxons from Brașov in the late 14th century, at the command of King Lajos I of Hungary, it is located at the southern border of Transylvania, next to Wallachian territory and was intended to protect the ancient route through the Carpathians. Throughout the middle ages the castle was occupied at various times by both Hungarian and Transylvanian rulers, but never by Vlad III, despite his frequent forays from Wallachia into Transylvania.Atmospheric entrance into Bran Castle. Inherited by the Royal family
After World War I and soon after the union of Transylvania with Romania, the city of Brașov offered Bran Castle to Queen Maria. It was later inherited by Princess Ileana, the youngest daughter of Ferdinand and Maria. Then, after World War II the castle was nationalised (in 1948) under the communist regime, transformed into a museum and opened to the public.
In 2006, it was returned to the Habsburg Family (the descendants of Princess Ileana and her husband), who continue to keep it open to the public. It has now become a major tourist attraction and the most popular museum in Romania, receiving about half a million visitors per year.
Its huge success is based on a marketing campaign that associates the castle with vampire legends and in particular, Dracula. Almost all of the promotional material is kitsch in nature with the image of Dracula an approximate copy of the Ambras portrait.
Although the connection of Bran Castle to either Dracula or Vlad III is absolutely zero, tourists are willing to pay the ticket price and buy souvenirs, happy that they are visiting “the real Dracula’s castle”. Some even believe they have been given a factual history lesson.
The castle administration recently declared takings of one million Euros.Poienari Fortress
This great fortress is one of Romania’s “lieux de mémoire”. It occupies a magnificent position, situated on a peak of the Carpathians and dominating the landscape of the upper valley of the Argeș River. It was built at the northern border of Wallachia by the first Vovoid rulers of the country who belonged to the 14th century Basarab dynasty, (thus, contemporary with Bran Castle, but at that time in another country and under another authority).Poienari Fortress on it’s steep sided hill.
Archaeological excavations carried out from 1968 until 1970, showed that the core of the fortress was built in the early 14th century. In the mid 15th century, the construction was expanded in Byzantine style by Vlad III during his second reign (1456-1462).
Poienari is the only castle which has a definite association with this medieval ruler. It was a good place to imprison claimants to the throne and to store the country’s treasures during times of trouble.
In the second half of the 16th century, approximately two and a half centuries after its construction, the fortress was abandoned. All but forgotten, the ruin was “rediscovered” by amateur archaeologists in the mid 19th century. It fired up the romantic imagination and it is believed that this remote but picturesque fortress was the basis for Jules Verne’s novel The Castle of the Carpathians.
A new perspective on Vlad
A brief period of restoration performed in the second half of the 20th century – after the archaeological research was completed – was intended to offer a new perspective on Vlad the Impaler; as a military genius.
The chances of transforming this opportunity into a big success story exponentially increased in 1974, when the Transfăgărășan road was finished. Access from the road to the fortress, was provided with the construction of 1400 concrete steps. After a relatively difficult 40 minute climb, the visitor finally reaches the fortress, but the magnificent view certainly makes up for all the effort.The final steps up to Poienari Fortress.
Unfortunately, Poienari Fortress has not lived up to expectations. After the restoration it was administrated by a small local museum, whose finances were also small and consequently the marketing campaigns were almost non existent. Two years ago the fortress was taken over by a bigger museum from the capital city of Argeș County, however, their rather weak marketing campaigns also made little difference to visitor numbers.Choosing a future for the castle
Partly because the administration has chosen not to go down the “Dracula’s Lair” route but to present the real history of Vlad III based on archaeological evidence and historical documents, the fortress is getting no more than 52,000 visitors per year compared to Bran’s half million. The annual income from ticket sales and souvenirs amounts to a little under 60,000 Euros, a fraction of the generated sales at Bran.
However, due to the spectacular landscape and the real story of Vlad III, “Son of the Dragon” and the infamous “Impaler” of legend, Poienari Fortress has the potential to become a tourist attraction in it’s own right.
While it is clear that sensationalism sells tickets, it is perhaps not the most desirable route to follow for Poienari. There is clearly a better way to present Vlad in such a way that can both excite the imagination and provide an educational experience in order to attract visitor numbers that the fortress deserves.
The question remains – how does one promote the actual figure of Vlad III and his castle without losing the sense of excitement and imagination that will entice the visitor to come to this spectacular but overlooked site?More Information
- From a presentation at the Seventh World Archaeological Congress, Jordan 2013
- This article is a modified version of a poster which was presented as a comparative view for the exploitation of the Dracula myth and also of the image of Vlad the Impaler, by two Romanian sites: Bran Castle and Poienari Fortress – at the 7th World Archaeological Congress in Jordan in January 2013.
- http://www.muzeul-judetean-arges.ro/Cetatea-Poenari/48/ (only in Romanian)
Dragoș Mandescu. Poienari Fortress – Vlad versus Dracula. Past Horizons. April 10, 2013, from
http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/04/2013/poienari-fortress-dracula-versus-vlad For Archaeology News – Archaeology Research – Archaeology Press Releases
ANCIENT CORNISH MONUMENT THREATENED BY CATTLE
TROVE OF NEANDERTHAL BONES FOUND IN GREEK CAVE
SNOWY LANDSCAPE REVEALS WALES’ ANCIENT REMAINS
BRONZE AGE COLLECTION GOES ON DISPLAY
ANCIENT ARTIFACT LOST IN PLAIN SIGHT
AFTERLIFE OF EARLY NEOLITHIC HOUSES IN POLAND
UNEARTHING ANCIENT SWEDEN
HOLY LAND FARMING BEGAN 5,000 YEARS EARLIER THAN THOUGHT
DISPUTED FINDS IN SOUTH AMERICA MORE THAN 22,000 YEARS OLD
MIGRATION TO MARIANAS LONGEST OCEAN-CROSSING IN HISTORY
STONE-AGE SKELETONS UNEARTHED IN SAHARA DESERT
‘STONE SHIPS’ IN BALTIC WERE BUILT BY MARITIME GROUPS
SKULLS OF EARLY HUMANS CARRY SIGNS OF INBREEDING
QUARRY DIG UNEARTHS NEOLITHIC SETTLEMENT IN BERKSHIRE
DONKEYS WERE A BRONZE AGE STATUS SYMBOL
Please note that now your favourite podcast – along with a great deal of additional features – is available also as an app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch on iTunes Store.
Stone Pages with BAJR and Past Horizons presents the long running archaeology based podcast with the latest archaeology news, mainly related to prehistory, megalithic monuments and discoveries.
A settlement from the Byzantine period in which an impressive wine press and a ceramic model of a church were preserved was exposed in salvage excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority conducted near Hamei Yoav.
Sa’ar Ganor, the Ashkelon district archaeologist of the Israel antiquities Authority pointed-out that:
“the wine press at Hamei Yoav and three similar wine presses are located along the ancient road leading from Beth Guvrin to ancient Ashkelon and its port, thus, facilitating the transportation and exportation of the wine to Ashkelon and from the port of Ashkelon to Europe and North Africa.
Dr. Rina Avner, the excavation director said, “The wine press, which exceeds 100 square metres in area, consists of three components: a large treading floor paved with ceramic tiles was discovered in the centre in which there is a press bed of a screw used to press grapes.
“Three vats into which the must flowed were revealed along the western side of the treading floor. The collecting vats were carefully designed with slots in their sides that allowed the liquid to flow in a controlled manner and they were treated with hydraulic plaster so as to prevent the must from seeping into the ground. Compartments were exposed around the treading floor, which were used for fermenting the grapes upon their arrival from the vineyard and converting them to fine quality wine.
“In the second stage the grape remnants were pressed a second time by means of the screw situated in the centre of the treading floor, from which plain wine was prepared that was referred to in rabbinic sources as “paupers wine”.”Excavated wine press. Image: Saar Ganor, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority Miniature model of a church
A ceramic model of a church from the Byzantine period, which is somewhat a rarity in archaeological research, was found near the wine press.
This object is a kind of clay box that has an accentuated and decorated opening in its broad side. Floral decorations and crosses appear on the other three sides. The roof of the model is fashioned in the shape of a sloped tile roof, and in its four corners are four decorative knobs meant to accentuate the corners. On the top of the roof a large loop handle, also flanked by crosses, was attached for holding or suspending the object. The variety of decorations and building-like features of the object suggest this is a miniature model of a church.
Dr. Avner explained, “Objects of this kind are known from archaeological research as lanterns: they were used as practical ritual objects that were hung or placed inside buildings. An oil lamp inserted into it through the decorated opening illuminated the inside of the model. Since the crosses also served as narrow openings, the light was disseminated via them and shadows of crosses were projected onto the walls of the building where the object was placed“.
The wine press will undergo conservation and will be incorporated into the modern complex of the garden event, near the spa of Hamei Yo’av.
Source: Israel Antiquities AuthorityMore Information
- Find out more about ancient Ashkelon – Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon
- Ancient Ashkelon – National Geographic article
Israel Antiquities Authority. Wine press and miniature model church found at Ashkelon. Past Horizons. April 10, 2013, from http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/04/2013/byzantine-wine-press-and-miniature-model-church-discovered For Archaeology News – Archaeology Research – Archaeology Press Releases
Scores of archaeologists working in a waterlogged trench through the wettest summer and coldest winter in living memory have recovered more than 10,000 objects from Roman London, including writing tablets, amber, a well with ritual deposits of pewter, coins and cow skulls, thousands of pieces of pottery, a unique piece of padded and stitched leather – and the largest collection of lucky charms in the shape of phalluses ever found on a single site.
Sophie Jackson, of Museum of London Archaeology, said: “The waterlogged conditions left by the Wallbrook stream have given us layer upon layer of Roman timber buildings, fences and yards, all beautifully preserved and containing amazing personal items, clothes and even documents – all of which will transform our understanding of the people of Roman London.”
The horrible working conditions, in a sodden trench up to 7 metres deep along the buried river, resulted in startling preservation of timber – including massive foundations for buildings, fencing still standing to shoulder height, and remains of a complex Roman drainage system, as well as the largest collection of leather from any London Roman site, bone and even a straw basket, which would all have crumbled into dust centuries ago on a drier site.
The most puzzling object is an elaborately worked piece of leather, padded and stitched with an image of a gladiator fighting mythical creatures. The archaeologists believe it may have come from a chariot, but are only guessing since nothing like it has ever been found.
Other finds include an amber charm in the shape of a gladiator’s helmet, which may have been a good luck charm for an actual gladiator; a horse harness ornament combining two lucky symbols, a fist and a phallus, plus clappers to make a jingling sound as the horse moved; and a set of fine-quality pewter bowls and cups, which were deliberately thrown into a deep well.
The site at Great Queen Street was at the heart of the Roman city of London. It is now being redeveloped as a new headquarters for Bloomberg designed by Lord Foster, but after the second world war, when Victorian buildings were cleared for an office block, it became internationally famous when a buried Temple of Mithras was found. Crowds queued around the block to see the remains, which were preserved after a public outcry led to questions in parliament over the threat of their destruction. The temple was reconstructed on top of a car park, but as part of the present project is being moved back to its original site, where it and many of the finds will eventually be on display to the public.
Up to 60 archaeologists from Museum of London Archaeology worked on the site, digging by hand through 3,500 tonnes of soil. The site, which includes the longest surviving stretch of the Wallbrook, covers the entire period of Roman London, from very soon after the invasion to the 5th century.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
The Mary Rose is the Pompeii of Tudor Britain, a time capsule of astonishing, eerie survivals from a world preserved for centuries in a muddy seabed.
On 31 May this year, the new Mary Rose Museum will open in Portsmouth, exhibiting this early 16th-century warship and its rich contents (raised by archaeologists in 1982 to worldwide fascination) in a new state-of-the-art setting. The museum promises to be a revelatory journey into the lives of ordinary sailors in the age of Henry VIII.
The Mary Rose was one of the biggest, most heavily armed ships in Henry VIII’s navy and, on 19 July 1545, she led the English fleet out of Portsmouth to confront a fleet of French galleys. Hit sideways by a sudden gust of wind, the massively crowded and laden wooden ship capsized and sank immediately, killing most of the men on board. She rested undisturbed on the seabed until modern archaeologists retrieved this unique treasure trove of history in a complex salvage operation.
The sight of the ship’s surviving structure, preserved in a moistened chamber, is spooky and daunting: you feel you are getting an intimate view of a real Renaissance warship. Yet it is the array of artefacts found in the wreck that are so touching, redolent of a complete way of life that ended so suddenly. Just as Vesuvius preserved an uncanny freeze-frame of life in Pompeii, the finds from the Mary Rose reveal the real life of a sailing ship. They include doctor’s instruments and carpenter’s tools, drinking tankards and kitchen stuff, and carvings made by those onboard, full of grotesque invention and fine-wrought eccentricity.
There are beautifully preserved weapons – it was a warship after all. Gigantic bronze cannons are decorated with monstrous faces and royal insignia, while small handguns fitted with shields and made in Italy show a fiendish ingenuity reminiscent of the inventions of Leonardo da Vinci.
The Mary Rose is an amazing national treasure and I can’t wait to see the new museum of the ship and its relics. The Renaissance was the Age of Discovery, when sailing ships changed the map of the world. Such famous vessels as The Golden Hinde have been reconstructed from scratch in modern times, but uniquely, the Mary Rose exists as she sank, with her own timbers, joined together by the original shipbuilders. Leather and rope and other soft stuffs have survived as well as wood – there are even swashbuckling thigh boots that look like they belonged to the TV series Blackadder’s Lord Flashheart.
If you are moved by the British Museum’s Pompeii exhibition, make a date to visit Portsmouth this summer – for the Mary Rose is Britain’s homemade archaeological wonder.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
Bamburgh, fortress palace of the Anglo-Saxon Kings of Northumbria, has been continuously occupied for more than 3,000 years. Since 1996 this legacy has been investigated by archaeologists, students, and volunteers participating in the Bamburgh Research Project’s (BRP) annual excavations.
But now this work is under threat. Because of rising costs and the rash of funding cuts for Arts and Heritage across the United Kingdom this predominantly student funded project now needs your help to survive.Training in fieldwork and post excavation
The BRP summer excavation season and field school provides training in all aspects of archaeological fieldwork and post excavation techniques.
The work has revealed the industrial heart of the fortress, the homes, lifestyle and even the burials of the people who lived and worked in the palace and has shown that there was a diverse and international population at the Northumbrian royal court.Dig volunteers: Image: Bamburgh Research Project Bringing discoveries to a wide audience
Bamburgh Research Project is one of the leading not-for-profit heritage groups in the United Kingdom. Not only is their archaeological research published in peer-reviewed journals and conference formats, but they make a huge effort to bring these discoveries to the general public and schools with open days, lectures, community participation digs, school visits and through social media. They also produce their own high quality films.
To continue to do this they really need your help! Raising money through ‘crowd-funding’ promotes the exchange of donations for rewards such as exclusive tours of the site or advertisement on their official website.
The money raised by this campaign will help to:
- Replace old equipment and consumable items
- Continue to train and support the next generation of archaeologists
- Provide opportunities for volunteers to participate in archaeology
- To extend their research capability and disseminate results
- To enhance their work with schools and online
By contributing to the campaign you will be helping to ensure a sustainable future for this important research.
Source: Bamburgh Research ProjectMore Information
- Bamburgh Research Project
- Join the 2013 archaeological Field Season at Bamburgh
- Youtube Videos
Bamburgh Research Project. Bamburgh Research Project needs your support. Past Horizons. April 09, 2013, from http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/04/2013/bamburgh-research-project-needs-your-support For Archaeology News – Archaeology Research – Archaeology Press Releases
The Old Bailey Online celebrates its tenth birthday this month after attracting over 34 million page views since it went live in 2003.
The founders of the Old Bailey Online, Professor Robert Shoemaker from the University of Sheffield and Professor Tim Hitchcock from the University of Hertfordshire , were awarded the Longman-History Today Trustees Award for their major contribution to history. The award was given for the groundbreaking Old Bailey and follow-up London Lives projects that point the way to the future of the discipline.
In addition to the 10 year anniversary of the site, April 2013 also marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of the last ever issue of the Old Bailey Proceedings, which were published almost continuously for 240 years, from 1674 to April 1913.
Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts commented that the online trial accounts: “provide a valuable resource to academics and researchers as well as source material for creative industries. Garrows Law has used Old Bailey Online to bring to life a fascinating aspect of our history.”Locating London’s Past
Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the National Lottery, the Old Bailey Online was developed at the Humanities Research Institute at the University of Sheffield and the Higher Education Digitisation Service at the University of Herfordshire. Since its completion the same project team have added two new resources to widen its reach. London Lives, released in 2010, contains records relating to crime, poverty and social policy in eighteenth-century London. This fully searchable resource provides access to over 240,000 manuscripts from eight archives and fifteen datasets, giving access to the names of 3.4 million Londoners. Locating Londons Past, launched in December 2011, allows place names from the Old Bailey Proceedings to be mapped onto John Rocque’s 1746 map of London and the first accurate modern Ordinance Survey Map (1869-80).Connected Histories
A pioneer online historical resource, the Old Bailey Online has inspired countless other online projects. It is also included in several larger web resources, including Connected Histories, a search interface for 22 online historical databases totalling over 15 billion words. Connected Histories, funded by JISC, was developed by the same team at Sheffield and Hertfordshire that created the Old Bailey Online, in collaboration with the University of London’s Institute of Historical Research. It enables users to explore resources such as the Old Bailey trials alongside a wealth of other historical records.
Professor Shoemaker said: “The Old Bailey Online has been used in many, many ways we never anticipated. We are particularly proud of the fact it is a free resource, open to all, and we continue to be amazed at the creative work it facilitates.”
Professor Hitchcock added: “It is the everyday details and the voices of the poor that continue to shock; and as the years have gone by, new voices and new details rise to surface almost daily. The site has helped make a new history from below possible.”
To help celebrate the Old Bailey Online’s tenth anniversary, the website is hosting a blogothon where accounts of researchers’ and teachers’ experience using the site will be posted – everyone is welcome. If you have a blog, all you need to do is publish a post sometime around the weekend of 13-14 April and let the team know about it.
Source: University of Hertfordshire
University of Hertfordshire. Old Bailey Proceedings Online celebrates tenth anniversary. Past Horizons. April 09, 2013, from http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/04/2013/old-bailey-proceedings-online-celebrates-tenth-anniversary For Archaeology News – Archaeology Research – Archaeology Press Releases
Nunalleq: The Yupiit and the Arctic World shows the results of a partnership between a team of archaeologists from the University of Aberdeen, in north east Scotland and the Yup’ik village of Quinhagak in western Alaska.
The coastline in Quinhagak is rapidly being washed away as a result of global warming. The Quinhagak community, fearing that its heritage would be lost, asked University of Aberdeen archaeologists to conduct a rescue dig. Within hours of starting digging, archaeologists located a prehistoric village site which was falling into the sea.The old village
The site was named ‘Nunalleq’ by village elders, meaning ‘the old village’ in Yup’ik. Nunalleq is a winter village site dating from 1350-1650 AD. The permafrost has preserved tens of thousands of rarely seen artefacts from wood and other organic materials, and the collections ranks as one the largest and best-preserved ever recovered from the north.
The exhibition’s curator and director of the archaeological excavation, Dr Rick Knecht, said: ‘This is an opportunity to break some new ground in terms of museum partnerships and outreach with indigenous communities in the north. We began this project at the village’s request because rising sea levels are eroding the sites and objects like entire masks were washing up on area beaches.’
The Nunalleq dig was guided by traditional history, with Yup’ik culture bearers sharing their knowledge with the archaeologists to interpret the discoveries made on site, and archaeologists sharing their data about the site with the village.
Star objects from Nunalleq include Yupi’k masks, intricately carved wooden dolls, and ivory carvings such as a tiny figurine of a palraiyuk: a monster from Yup’ik legend which was said to have lurked in rivers and lakes in ancient times.
These new finds, on display for the first time, are shown together with material from the University of Aberdeen’s rich collection of ethnographic material from the Arctic, illustrating the day-to-day lifestyle, housing, diet, clothing, games and art of people in Alaska half a millennium ago.On temporary loan
The material from Nunalleq is owned by the Qanirtuuq Corporation (owned and operated by the people of Quinhagak) and is on temporary loan to the University of Aberdeen. After the items from the archaeological dig have been conserved, catalogued and analyzed, they will return to Quinhagak with the intention of exhibiting them in the village.
Source: University of Aberdeen
- Nunalleq: The Yupiit and the Arctic World will be on display at King’s Museum, no. 17 High Street, from Monday 11th March to Saturday 7th September. King’s Museum is open to the public for free 10am-4pm Monday, Wednesday – Friday, 10am – 7.30 pm Tuesday, 11am-4pm Saturday.
- A programme of events associated with the exhibition will include lectures and talks about the Nunalleq site.
- ‘Frozen in Time: A remarkably well-preserved prehistoric site in Alaska’ by Dr Richard Knecht, on the 7th of May 7.30pm New Kings 10, entry free. Also there will be a lunchtime talk titled ‘Yuyaraq: the Yup’ik way of life’ on the 10th of May 2013, 12:00 – 13:00
University of Aberdeen. Nunalleq: The Yupiit and the Arctic World. Past Horizons. April 09, 2013, from http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/04/2013/nunalleq-the-yupiit-and-the-arctic-world For Archaeology News – Archaeology Research – Archaeology Press Releases
According to reports from the Peruvian newspaper El Comercio, serious damage to elements of the outer boundary of the world famous Nazca lines has been caused by heavy machinery belonging to a quarry firm removing limestone from the area.
The damaged lines are located near the Panamericana Sur Highway and an adjacent area has also been affected. There are hundreds if not thousands of these lines and trapezoids on the Nazca plain with many of the most famous geogylphs such as the spider, hummingbird and monkey, etc. all undamaged.Nazca lines. Image: Wikimedia Commons Irreparable damage
So far, irreparable damage has been done to a number of lines up to 150 metres in length, along with the total loss of a trapezoid almost 60 metres long.
Archaeological assessments carried out over four months ago warned that damage to the lines would continue with the effect being a serious alteration to the cultural landscape.
The report noted this archaeological area is situated within a reserve and should therefore fall under the legal framework for protection and conservation of the cultural heritage of the nation.
“The limestone firm responsible has not been sanctioned or supervised by the authorities of the Regional Directorate of Culture of Ica, despite being in this great archaeological reserve,” said Eduardo Herrán Gómez de la Torre, director of research at Ojos de Condor, according to reporting by Peru This Week. It was considered unlikely the Peruvian government would be able to act on this serious damage to the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Source: El Comercio
- Read the article in Spanish from El Comercio: http://elcomercio.pe/actualidad/1549876/noticia-empresa-extraccion-cal-destruye-zona-arqueologica-nasca_1
El Comercio. Several lines at Nazca suffer irreparable damage . Past Horizons. April 09, 2013, from http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/04/2013/several-lines-at-nazca-suffer-irreparable-damage For Archaeology News – Archaeology Research – Archaeology Press Releases
In what is now called Iraq some five thousand years ago some of the earliest civilisations were born. It is the land of great cities such as Ur and Babylon, home to the Sumerians, who are credited with one of the earliest formal scripts as well as organised and controlled urban living, and the later Babylonians, whose trading and military skills forged a mighty empire.The early stages of excavation on the ancient settlement mound of Tell Khaiber. Image: Stuart Campbell Beneath the arid sands of Iraq
Priceless information about mankind’s past still lies concealed beneath the landscape in the ‘tells’ – earth mounds – that are the remains of ancient towns and villages.
Iraq has a proud tradition of valuing and researching this unique heritage, but war has taken its toll. The image of the country’s ancient heritage has now sadly become associated with looting and destruction. Local experts have been working in isolation, struggling to stop pillaging, with little opportunity to benefit from interaction with the global community. But the time has come, where at last it is becoming possible to move forwards once more.A new age of discovery Clay plaque, 9cm high showing a worshipper wearing a long robe with fringe down the front. Image: Stuart Campbell
The Ur Region Archaeology Project has put together a team of Iraqi and international expertise to begin a new age of discovery, using the latest techniques to unveil and interpret a shared heritage.
The team, directed by Professor Stuart Campbell, Dr Jane Moon and Robert Killick, has already discovered a remarkable new structure. First spotted from satellite remote sensed images, the building complex is thought to be an administrative centre serving one of the world’s earliest cities.
After carrying out geophysical survey and trial excavations at the site of Tell Khaiber the team confirmed that the size of the complex measured around 80 metres square – roughly the size of a football pitch. It is made up of an arrangement of rooms around a large courtyard and lies only 20km from Ur itself.
The team contain the first British archaeologists to excavate in Southern Iraq since the late 1980s, working close to the ancient city of Ur, where Sir Leonard Woolley discovered the fabulous ‘Royal Tombs’ in the 1920s.
Professor Campbell said: “This is a breathtaking find and we feel privileged to be the first to work at this important site. The surrounding countryside, now arid and desolate, was the birthplace of cities and of civilization about 5,000 years ago and home to the Sumerians and the later Babylonians.”
One of the most striking finds at the site to date, is a clay plaque, 9cm high, showing a worshipper approaching a sacred place. He is wearing a long robe with fringe down the front opening.
“It has been off-limits to international archaeologists for many decades so the opportunity of re-engaging with the study of the earliest cities is a truly exciting one,” said Professor Campbell.
The team provisionally date the site to around 2,000 BC, the time of the sack of the city and the fall of the last Sumerian royal dynasty, based on the finds recovered and suggest the structure is probably connected to the administration of Ur.A wider study
The team aim to analyse plant and animal remains found at the site to help reconstruct environmental and economic conditions in the region 4,000 years ago.
Marshy conditions are thought to have prevailed, with the head of the Gulf being much further north, so that maritime trading was possible in order to obtain vital natural resources from India and the Arabian peninsula.
Professor Campbell who has now returned from Iraq, added: “As well as offering unparalleled opportunities for redeveloping research in one of the most important areas of archaeology in the world, the project is also building partnerships with local practitioners and institutions.
“The aim is to help rebuild capacity in archaeological expertise and heritage management, working alongside members of Iraq’s State Board for Antiquities and Heritage, and to address the 20-year isolation from the international community.”
Source: University of Manchester
University of Manchester. Ur Project confirms massive building complex in southern Iraq. Past Horizons. April 08, 2013, from http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/04/2013/ur-project-confirms-massive-building-complex-in-southern-iraq For Archaeology News – Archaeology Research – Archaeology Press Releases
The Djehuty Project, led by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), has discovered on the hill of Dra Abu el-Naga in Luxor (ancient Thebes), the burials of four individuals belonging to the elite of the 17th Dynasty of Ancient Egypt, who lived about 3,550 years ago.
These findings, discovered during the 12th campaign of archaeological excavations, shed light on a little-known historical period in which Thebes becomes the capital of the kingdom and the empire’s foundations become established with the dominance of Egypt over Palestine and Syria to the north, and over Nubia to the south.Pieces of Intefmose’s obelisk. Image: CSIC
The project is led by the CSIC researcher José Manuel Galán, from the Institute of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (ILC), and funded by Unión Fenosa Gas and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport.
The 17th Dynasty belongs to the Second Intermediate Period of Egypt (between 1800 and 1550 BC), characterized by the hegemony of rulers of Syrian-Palestinian origin settled in the eastern Delta. This is a period of great political complexity in which the monarchy did not control all the territory and the real power was in the hands of local rulers.Intefmose and Ahhotep
The owner of one of the tombs was called Intefmose, to whom the three inscriptions found inside (one of them accompanied by a portrait in relief) call “son of the king”. Galán states: “We believe that Intefmose could be the son of Sobekemsaf, one of the first kings of the 17th Dynasty, about whom we barely have historical information“.
The tomb of Intefmose consists of a small chapel built with adobe bricks, erected in front of a shaft-grave (about seven metres deep) that leads to a burial chamber. Through a hole in the back of this room, there is access to the burial chamber of a second tomb discovered by archaeologists during this campaign.
The second tomb belongs to the high-level official Ahhotep, also called “spokesman of Nekhen”, city better-know as the Greek toponym Hierakonpolis. In the burial chamber, archaeologists found (as part of the grave goods) three clay funerary figurines (shabtis), painted and with the name of the deceased written on the front.
Galán adds: “Two of these shabtis were found inside of both small clay sarcophagi, decorated with an inscription on the sides and on the top. The third one was wrapped in nine linen fabrics, as if it was a real mummy, and each of the fabrics had traces of writing in black ink. These figurines have a very original and naïve style, which provides them a special charm and a unique character“.Intact coffin of a boy that lived about 3.550 years ago. Image: CSIC
In addition, during this archaeological campaign, Galán and his team unearthed the intact coffin of a boy that lived about 3,550 years ago, as well as a set of shabtis and funerary linens of another child, prince Ahmose-Sapair, who lived during the transition from the 17th to the 18th Dynasty.Tribute of Djehuty to the 17th Dynasty
This series of findings confirm, according to Galán and his team, that the Dra Abu el-Naga hill, on the northern edge of the necropolis of ancient Thebes, was the cemetery of the Royal Family of the 17th and early 18th Dynasties, as well as of their main courtiers. Recent findings help to contextualize the work done during previous campaigns in the tombs of Djehuty, supervisor of the Treasure of Queen Hatshepsut (ca 1470 BC), and Hery, a courtier who lived about 50 years before the said royal scribe.
The head of the Djehuty Project concludes: “Unlike what the rest of courtiers of his time did, around 1470 BC, Djehuty did not place his tomb in the surrounding area of Deir el-Bahari, where the Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut was erected, but he chose the hill of Dra Abu el-Naga for his eternal rest, half a kilometre further to the north, because that’s where the members of the 17th Dynasty were buried“.
In a fragmented political context, the 17th Dynasty, native to Thebes, the most important southern city, led the reconquest and expulsion of northern rulers (called “Hyksos”), unified the country, and contributed to the germ of a new historical stage in Egypt, the New Empire, the time of the great kings who would forge the Egyptian Empire from its new capital, Thebes.
Source: Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)More Information
Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). Discovery of 17th Dynasty Ancient Egyptian elite. Past Horizons. April 08, 2013, from http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/04/2013/discovery-of-17th-dynasty-ancient-egyptian-elite For Archaeology News – Archaeology Research – Archaeology Press Releases
Babylon was one of the glories of the ancient world, its walls and mythic hanging gardens listed among the Seven Wonders.
Founded about 4,000 years ago, the ancient city was the capital of 10 dynasties in Mesopotamia, considered one of the earliest cradles of civilization and the birthplace of writing and literature.
But following years of plunder, neglect and conflict, the Babylon of today scarcely conjures that illustrious history.
In recent years, the Iraqi authorities have reopened Babylon to tourists, hoping that one day the site will draw visitors from all over the globe. But despite the site’s remarkable archaeological value and impressive views, it is drawing only a smattering of tourists, drawn by a curious mix of ancient and more recent history.
Read more about this story on edition.cnn.com
Over four millennia ago, the fortress town of Gonur-Tepe might have been a rare advanced civilisation before it was buried for centuries under the dust of the Kara Kum desert in remote western Turkmenistan.
After being uncovered by Soviet archaeologists in the last century, Gonur-Tepe, once home to thousands of people and the centre of a thriving region, is gradually revealing its mysteries with new artefacts being uncovered on every summer dig.
The scale of the huge complex which spans some 30 hectares can only be properly appreciated from the air, from where the former buildings look like a maze in the desert surrounded by vast walls.
Just 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the celebrated ancient city of Merv outside the modern city of Mary, the ruins of Gonur-Tepe are an indication of the archaeological riches of Turkmenistan, one of the most isolated countries in the world.
Read the full story on www.france24.com
The British Museum is currently presenting a major exhibition on the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, the first ever held on these important cities at the British Museum, and the first such major exhibition in London for almost 40 years.
The result of a close collaboration with the Archaeological Superintendency of Naples and Pompeii, over 250 fascinating objects, both recent discoveries and celebrated finds from earlier excavations have been brought together to tell the tale of these doomed Roman towns. Many of these objects have never before been seen outside Italy and the unique focus looks at the heart of people’s lives in Pompeii and Herculaneum, from the bustling street to the intimate spaces of a Roman home, the heart of people’s lives in Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Pompeii and Herculaneum, two cities on the Bay of Naples in southern Italy, were buried by a catastrophic volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in just 24 hours in AD 79. This event ended the life of the cities but at the same time preserved the them, their rediscovery providing an unparalleled glimpse into the daily life of the Roman Empire. There they remained until rediscovery by archaeologists just over 1,600 years later.Preserved under ash
Owing to their different locations Pompeii and Herculaneum were buried in different ways and this has affected the preservation of materials at each site. Herculaneum was a small seaside town whereas Pompeii was the industrial hub of the region. Work continues at both sites and recent excavations at Herculaneum have uncovered beautiful and fascinating artefacts.
These include treasures many of which will be displayed to the public for the first time, such as finely sculpted marble reliefs, intricately carved ivory panels and fascinating objects found in one of the main drains of the city.Portrait of baker Terentius Neo and his wife. Pompeii, AD 55–79. © DeAgostini/SuperStock.
The exhibition will give visitors a taste of daily life, from the bustling street to the family home. The domestic space is the essential context for people’s lives, and allows us to get closer to the Romans themselves. This exhibition will explore the lives of individuals in Roman society, not the classic figures of films and television, such as emperors, gladiators and legionaries, but businessmen, powerful women, freed slaves and children. One stunning example of this material is a beautiful wall painting from Pompeii showing the baker Terentius Neo and his wife, holding writing materials, to prove that they are literate and cultured. Importantly their pose and presentation suggests they are equal partners, in business and in life.
The emphasis on a domestic context also helps transform museum artefacts into everyday possessions. Six pieces of wooden furniture will be lent from Herculaneum by the Archaeological Superintendency of Naples and Pompeii. These items were carbonized by the high temperatures of the ash that engulfed the city and are extremely rare finds that would not have survived at Pompeii – showing the importance of combining evidence from the two cities. The furniture includes a linen chest, an inlaid stool and even a garden bench. Perhaps the most astonishing and moving piece is a baby’s crib that still rocks on its curved runners.
The exhibition will include casts from in and around Pompeii of some of the victims of the eruption. A family of two adults and their children are huddled together under the stairs of their villa. The most famous of the casts on display is of a dog, fixed forever at the moment of its death as the volcano submerged the cities.
Source: British Museum
British Museum. Life and death in Pompeii and Herculaneum. Past Horizons. April 06, 2013, from http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/04/2013/life-and-death-in-pompeii-and-herculaneum For Archaeology News – Archaeology Research – Archaeology Press Releases
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