Modified Cookie Cutter Houses at Pompeii?

Science Daily picks up this item from NWO which originally hit the interweb back in January:

Metrological analysis of ancient houses reveals the use of standard models that were ingeniously adapted to suit individual situations.

Pre-Roman atrium houses exhibited a striking number of similarities as part of a long Italic building tradition. Dutch researcher Noor van Krimpen analysed the measurements of primary mansions in Pompeii. As buildings were constructed according to a standard model, the adaptations to that model, required by the economical, practical and social demands of any particular project, provide a lot of information about the social significance of the houses of Pompeii’s elite.

Noor van Krimpen has added a new weapon to the archaeologist’s arsenal; the metrological analysis. This was already used to find out more about the design aspects of historical constructions. Van Krimpen, however, has now also used the method to add to our knowledge of the social significance of the houses of Pompeii’s elite. The main advantage of using metrological analysis is that it does not require further excavations and so the remains are kept intact.
The ideal measurements

The elite in Pompeii had architects to design their houses. Van Krimpen has demonstrated that these architects worked according to geometric figures and proportions, expressed in arithmetic approximations, a well-known tradition of classical mathematics. This resulted in a number of standard sets of ratios that were used by architects in the design of houses.

Despite the fact that the atrium houses in Pompeii show a high degree of homogeneity – all having been splendidly built around a so-called atrium, an inner courtyard with or without a roof – the architect’s skill and clients personal wishes ensured that each house retained an original character.
Dress to impress

Van Krimpen used a metrological analysis to establish what the original design must have been before subsequently examining how the houses were adapted to the particular circumstances. The adaptations revealed how a client exerted his influence on a design and how each situation required a unique solution. The primary mansions were mainly intended to receive friends and other notable persons and so had to be designed accordingly.

The Pompeii elite tried to maintain the illusion of a perfect home. The central symmetry was not solely maintained by juggling with the dimensions of the rooms. Van Krimpen even demonstrated how two neighbours had cooperated to outdo a third neighbour, one of the richest men in the city. They let their two houses be built behind a single facade so that their property appeared to be as big as that of their neighbour.

Van Krimpen investigated 18 primary mansions from Pompeii. Her research formed part of the broader project RUSPA (Ricerche Urbanistiche Su Pompei Antica) and was funded by NWO.

… the research was Van Krimpen’s doctoral thesis …

Windsor ‘Folly’

The incipit of an item from Staines News:

The restoration of an ancient ruin was completed on Thursday when the final decorative stone was put into place.

A 25-tonne crane was needed to lower the final stone on top of the Roman pillars of the ‘thousands of years old’ Leptis Magna ruins in Windsor Great Park, Virginia Water, on March 5.

The moment marked the completion of a restoration project started in November to restore the condition of the ruins, which had weathered severely, since being brought to the UK from Libya in 1818.

The project also involved the re-standing of seven columns that had fallen and a new ground level viewing platform being built.

I guess they’re technically not a ‘folly’, since they are genuine ruins … I never knew these things even existed. I also can’t find the circumstances under which George III brought them to their current location. Will the attention of their restoration lead them to being the next ‘repatriation’ issue?

Acropolis Strike … Again

(Rant)I’m sorry, but Greece will never, ever convince me about returning any marbles of any epithet until they can solve their seemingly constant labour problems. If I go to London, I can be pretty much assured of seeing the marbles. If I go to Athens, it’s a crapshoot whether this, that, or the other group prevents me from seeing things because Greece doesn’t have its labour house in order. (/Rant)

UPDATE (03/15/09): check out the following for the possible resolution to all this:

Artemisial Neglect

Hurriyet relates the state of affairs at the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus … erstwhile wonder, of course:

The site of the historic Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, looks more like a zoo these days as ducks, geese, chickens and sheep wander around its unfenced grounds.

Visited by approximately 1.5 million people a year, the temple lies within the boundaries of the Selçuk district in Aydın. Built by Croesus, the king of Lydia from around 560 to 550 B.C., it was burned down in 356 B.C. by a man called Herostratus who wanted to immortalize his name. Afterward, the temple was rebuilt on the same scale as the original, but three meters higher.


Though by its nature an important tourism spot, the Temple of Artemis retains little of its former glory. Only one column is still erect while remnants of others lie on the ground. Representatives of the tourism industry want to see this pitiful state improved. They are asking to have informational signs put up at the site to guide tourists and a mockup of the temple to be built there based on the building’s known architectural structure. They also want to have a fence put around the area to keep animals and cattle from roaming around the ruins.

We’ve mentioned the (possibly tacky) plans to rebuild before

UPDATE (03/20/09): From Today’s Zaman comes another short item on plans to rebuild/reconstruct the Temple (or at least a model of it):

Gallo-Roman Vineyard from Burgundy

The incipit of an interesting item from CNRS … mirrored in various places:

Gevrey-Chambertin, 12 km from Dijon, is famous throughout the world for its Burgundy wines. It is now possible to conclude that winegrowing in this region goes back to the Gallo-Roman era, as testified by the findings of excavations by the Institut National de Recherches Archéologiques Préventives (INRAP), at the spot known as “Au dessus de Bergis”. Carried out in collaboration with scientists from the ARTeHIS Laboratory (CNRS/Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication/Université de Bourgogne), this dig revealed 316 rectangular pits aligned in 26 rows, interpreted as being the remains of a vineyard from the first century AD.

Commissioned by the French Government (DRAC Bourgogne), excavations covering nearly 12,000 m² were completed during the summer of 2008 before building work started to enlarge a housing estate planned by Gevrey-Chambertin town council. The dig, divided into two sectors, revealed a series of hollow remains (pits, pot-holes and ditches) from different periods. For the Gallo-Roman era, an area of more than 6000 m² was covered by more than 300, regularly spaced and aligned pits, surrounded by a continuous peripheral ditch. These rectangular pits are 90 to 130 cm long by a little less than 60 cm wide, and sections of the soil filling them indicate the void left by the trunk and roots of a small shrub. Many of the pits are split into two compartments by a small ridge of rubble and soil.

How can these remains be interpreted? The alignment and rectangular shape of the pits are similar to those found at the sites of other Gallo-Roman vineyards discovered in both southern France, the region around Paris and in the UK. The small dimensions of the pits mean that the hypothesis of an orchard can be excluded. The “ghosts” of small shrubs observed in the filing earth are of the size of a vine stock. The two compartments separated by a ridge correspond to the recommendations of Pliny the Elder and Columella, two 1st century Latin authors, which were to plant two vine stocks in each pit and arrange them “so that the roots of the two layers in the same pit do not twist around each other, which will be easy to do by placing rocks no heavier than five pounts in the bottom of the pits, transversally and across the middle.” These pits are the first example how these viticultural and agronomic precepts were applied in Gaul. Some pits are edged by smaller, more shallow ditches. The secondary ditches probably served for provining, an ancient technique for the vegetative propagation of vines, when the above-ground part of the plant (stem, branches, etc.) was buried so that it developed its own roots before being separated from the parent plant and living as a new, independent individual.