d.m. Colin Wells (obituary)

This is Susan Treggiari’s obituary of Dr. Wells as it appeared in the Canadian Classical Bulletin (used with permission):

Colin Wells died on 11 March, at Bangor in North Wales, with his family around him, after a short illness. He was born on 15 November 1933. After Nottingham High School, where he was very well taught, he went up to Oriel College, Oxford, to read Lit. Hum. After taking Honour Moderations, he interrupted his studies in order to do his military service, during which he was stationed in Egypt and enjoyed early-morning riding in the desert. Returning to Oxford, he completed his Greats work. At this stage, he was especially interested in philosophy. But he nearly opted for a military career. Instead he began his teaching at Beaumont, an appropriate choice as he had become a Roman Catholic at 21. In 1960 he married Kate Hughes, daughter of the novelist Richard Hughes. He was asked by Fr. Etienne Gareau O. M. I. to accept an appointment at the University of Ottawa. After two years’ teaching and the birth of a son, Christopher, Kate and Colin returned to England so that he could start a doctorate in Roman Archaeology under the supervision of Ian Richmond. The seed for his work on the frontiers under Augustus was in an essay he had written as an undergraduate for P. A. Brunt, his tutor, who was a major influence. Another son, Dominic, was born during their two-year stay in England.
Colin served the University of Ottawa with energy, enthusiasm and vision. He was one of the pioneers of an interdisciplinary Classical Civilisation course. He served as chairman of the Department of Classical Studies / Département des Etudes anciennes (overseeing a period of growth) and as Vice-Dean and was secretary to an important committee which reviewed the structures of the university. Concurrently he was editing Echos du monde classique / Classical News & Views. At the same time, he was active in research and participation in learned societies. The Wells house in New Edinburgh was a centre of hospitality for classicists and other guests from all over the world. After over a quarter of a century, he regretfully left Ottawa in 1987 to take up a new and exciting post in Texas as Distinguished Professor at Trinity University, San Antonio. Here, with a new culture to explore, an office big enough for most of his books on Roman history and archaeology and a strikingly elegant house designed for entertaining, he and Kate entered upon a new period of their lives, making new friends while maintaining old contacts. Teaching continued to fascinate and pre-occupy him until he was seventy. At that point, they came back to their house in Oxford, before moving definitively to a house in Normandy, which offered a barn which could become a library. He had always loved France.

An able administrator, Colin served many organisations in the course of his career: the AAH, AIA, APA, CAC, Rei Cretariae Romanae Fautores, the Limes Congresses (he only missed one congress) and others. He was a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and Visiting Professor at Berkeley. He was Visiting Fellow at Brasenose (1973-4) and ever after, as a member of Common Room, enjoyed the hospitality and communal life of the college.

The German Policy of Augustus, the fruit of his work on frontiers, came out in 1972. It was followed by the exceptional introduction, The Roman Empire (1984), which has delighted and stimulated undergraduates ever since. An impressive production of articles in history and archaeology went on all the time, the rhythm accelerated recently, as the history and archaeology of northern France seized his attention. From 1976, initially with the late Edith Wightman, Colin was directing the Canadian team excavating in Carthage, an involvement which continued for over twenty years. His lectures on the dig, delivered in his inimitable style, will be long remembered. He was happily engaged in writing a short history of the Roman army and had just finished the first chapter. A book on the hellenistic period was in view.

A man of manifold interests and warm sympathies, Colin Wells made the most of his exceptionally full life up to the end. He will leave a big gap in the many circles to which he belonged.

All of us offer our sympathy to his wife, sons, grandsons and the whole family.

The funeral will be held on 18 March and there will be a memorial service in July.

Elsewhere:

23,000 Years B.P. Stone Wall from Thessaly

A bit out of the period of our purview, but of interest for those first classes of Classical Civ:

The oldest stone wall in Greece, which has stood at the entrance of a cave in Thessaly for the last 23,000 years, has been discovered by palaeontologists, the ministry of culture said Monday.The age of the find, determined by an optical dating test, singles it out as “probably one of the oldest in the world”, according to a ministry press release.
“The dating matches the coldest period of the most recent ice age, indicating that the cavern’s paleolithic inhabitants built it to protect themselves from the cold”, said the ministry.
The wall blocked two-thirds of the entrance to the cave, located close to Kalambaka, itself near the popular tourist area and monastic centre of Meteora in central Greece. Greek palaeontologists have been excavating the site for the last 25 years.

More coverage:

d.m. Gavin Townend

From the Northern Echo:

FORMER colleagues will join family and friends at Durham Cathedral for the funeral of a respected classics academic next week.Professor Gavin Townend died following a recent illness at Hallgarth Nursing Home, in Durham City, on Saturday, aged 90.

A widower, he survived his wife, Elspeth, by ten years.Their daughter, Julia, who is in social work, lives in Bristol.Following his wife’s death, Prof Townend formed a relationship with partner Elizabeth Still, with whom he lived until her death in 2007.

Born in Surrey in September 1919, he was educated at Haileybury School and at Merton College, Oxford University.Following the war, he taught at Liverpool University from 1946-66, after which he came to Durham as Professor of Latin for the last 18 years of his working life, up to retirement in 1984.He remained active in the classics field, publishing three books and several articles.Prof Townend was, primarily, an expert in Latin, Latin history and Latin historians.Former colleague, retired ancient historian, Professor PJ (Peter) Rhodes, said: “We like to think we’re the next best classics department after Oxford and Cambridge, and he certainly played his part in that.”

Macedonian Coin Hoard

From Balkan Travellers:

Around 20 coins with the image of the father of Alexander the Great, Philip II of Macedon, and “other ancient Macedonian rulers” were found by archaeologists during excavations along the road between the south-western Macedonian towns of Ohrid and Struga, national media reported today.In addition to the coins, a space with around 1,000 arrows was also discovered, Director of the Cultural Heritage Protection Office Pasko Kuzman told the Alsat-M television station.The archaeological find was made in the vicinity of the Cyclops Fortress, which – according to Kuzman, dates to the 358 BC when Philip II passed through the area with his army. The fortress, he added, was a strategic military position for the ruler’s army.Although Philip II of Macedon’s biggest claim to historical claim is perhaps his fathering of Alexander the Great, the ancient Greek personage 382 – 336 BC was a great ruler and military strategist in his own right, who largely realised his expansionist vision.

via Balkan Travellers – Macedonian Archaeologists Discover Ancient Coins near Ohrid.

I’m not clear whether the photo accompanying the original article depicts one of the coins found or not …

CONF: Laughter in the Library

Seen on Classicists (please send any responses to the folks mentioned in the quoted text, not to rogueclassicism!):

Laughter in the Library: a colloquium on Old Comedy for Penny Bulloch

Ioannou Classics Centre, Oxford

Saturday 5th June 2010

10.30 a.m. – 5.00 p.m.

To mark the retirement of Penny Bulloch and her contribution as Fellow Librarian at Balliol College,

Oxford, and earlier in Cambridge, and as a mainstay of all things Aristophanic and Old Comic in

the Classics Faculty of Oxford University, there will be a day of papers on Old Comedy in her

honour by friends, colleagues, and former students.

Speakers:

Edith Hall (RHUL): “The Aesopic in Old Comedy”

Angus Bowie (Queen’s, Oxford): narratology of space in Old Comedy (title TBC)

Matthew Wright (Exeter University): “Pea Soup and Old Jokes”

Peter Brown (Trinity, Oxford): Walter Braunfels’ opera Die Vögel (title TBC)

Matthew Leigh (St Anne’s, Oxford): topic TBC

All are welcome and there will be no fee for attendance, though for the purposes of planning it

would be very much appreciated if you could let the organizers know that you plan to come by

Friday 21st May. Tea and coffee will be served, and a small reception held afterwards. There will

also be an optional buffet lunch at a cost of £6. Please let the organizers know if you would like

lunch, by the same date, and make cheques payable to Dr. R.W. Cowan.

Any enquiries may be addresses to Bob Cowan (bob.cowan AT balliol.ox.ac.uk) or Adrian Kelly

(adrian.kelly AT balliol.ox.ac.uk).

Trinity College’s Classics Threatened

From the Tripod:

Trinity College’s Classics Department is in danger of being dissolved and replaced as an interdisciplinary program.

This process involves numerous steps, the first of which is the notification of Department Chair and Associate Professor of Classics Dr. Martha Risser by the Educational Policy Committee (EPC).

The EPC consists of various members of the Trinity Faculty, including the Dean of the Faculty, who serves as the chair but does not vote. There also are six elected tenured members of the faculty on the EPC, who must have been at Trinity for at least five years. These six members serve three-year, staggered terms on the EPC, and none of the members may serve consecutive terms.

There is at least one, but no more than three, representatives from the following departments: the natural sciences, the social sciences and the humanities/arts. The EPC also cannot have more than one member from any one department.

Now that the EPC has delivered a notification of its thoughts to Risser, a series of rigid steps will follow. Risser will first have to present a statement to the EPC, which she says “will vote on whether or not to bring a motion to the faculty, requesting permission to conduct an inquiry into the possibility of discontinuing the Classics Department and organizing an interdisciplinary program in its place.”

If the committee decides to bring a motion to the faculty, they will do so and wait for the faculty to vote. If the motion is approved, the EPC will conduct an inquiry and decide whether or not it is necessary to discontinue the Classics department. If they decide in the affirmative, they will allow the faculty to vote on the motion. If that motion is also passed than the ultimate decision lies with President James F. Jones, Jr.

“The questions concerning the role of a traditional classics department have been around for a great many years,” said Jones, “Several different solutions have been tried: from the Five-College Consortium model in Massachusetts to the IT classics network in the South sponsored by the Mellon Foundation. We here are trying to think of ways to increase the role of classics by extending traditional language (Greek and Latin) and literature offerings to classics studies. Some may wish for days of yesteryear where, at Trinity and elsewhere, Latin and Greek were required. But those days are never going to return, however much we might pine for them. The Dean is trying to think, with senior faculty here, of ways to extend our offerings rather than to have to justify tiny-enrolled courses for a very few.”

Jones also was sure to point out that his opinion was just one of many.

“I should state my own prejudices. I was a student at a military academy in the South where, if one were in the upper form, one had to read all the way through Ovid, Cicero, Livy, and Virgil. If I live long enough, I hope to end my career where I first started it: teaching Caesar, Cicero, Ovid, and Virgil in the morning and coaching soccer in the afternoon.”

The Classics Department was recently looked at by external reviewers who came to Trinity last spring and argued against the replacing of the department with a program. According to Risser, they recommended both of the vacant tenure-track positions be returned to the Classics Department and filled as soon as possible.

Risser also noted that the only NESCAC school without a Classics Department is Bates, where an interdisciplinary program is anchored by three tenured professors who specialize in Greek and Roman literature.

“Some have expressed concern about enrollments,” said Risser, “While it is true that some of our classes (e.g. Advanced Greek) are consistently small, others (e.g. Mythology, Ancient Warfare, Ancient Athletics) are large. Our average enrollments are equivalent to those of other departments.”

When asked about her own thoughts on the possible changes to the Classics Department, Risser expressed her uncertainty of the future.

“I really do not know what will happen, but I hope Classics will always be valued at Trinity. Classics has a long tradition of being an interdisciplinary field in which we examine the societies, cultures, values, laws, arts and ideas that form the core of the world in which we live. Through studying the ancient Greeks and Romans, our students become acquainted with the cultures that are at the very foundation of Modern Western and Middle Eastern civilizations, and gain understanding of the rich classical tradition that is still present in our lives today.”

A group in support of keeping the Classics Department has been created on Facebook by Trinity alumnus James Sickinger ’86, who majored in Classics while at the College. According to the Web site, the group is “intended to serve as a focal point for fostering support for the Classics Department at Trinity College, which is threatened with elimination. It will serve as a forum to provide information and foster communication.” At the time of press, the group had 340 members.

via College’s Classics Department Faces Possible Changes in Future – News.

Facebook seems to be blocked where I am right now; I’ll post the site later or, if some intrepid soul has access, please post it in the comments.

Gladiating Through University

show fight in Carnuntum: thraex vs.
Image via Wikipedia

From the Local:

Twenty students from the University of Regensburg plan to live and train in the style of Roman gladiators from 79 AD and stage a battle for scientific research this summer, the project’s Bavarian organisers said on Monday.

“We know hardly anything about the gladiators,” historian Josef Löffl said. “There are a lot of myths and clichés attached.”

Löffl and his colleagues plan to find out this August whether they can make modern young men into authentic gladiators following the Roman example.

The student warriors, who are all studying various disciplines at the university, won’t be eating pizza, hamburgers or steaks during their training. Instead they’ll have berries and white beans on their plates as the ancient Roman doctor Galen recommended in his texts.

They will also learn to fight wearing bronze helmets that weigh almost five kilogrammes at a camp that won’t allow girlfriends, showers, or washing machines.

“For me it’s a welcome change from sitting in front of the computer,” said athletic archaeology student Martin Schreiner.

He and the other gladiators are already training together four days a week. Following the summer training camp the group plans to perform at the former Roman army camp Carnuntum in Austria.

“We assume that those involved will weather the experiment quite well,” Löffl said.

Regensburg was once an important Roman stronghold along the Danube River, and historians at the university have conducted similar experiments in the past. In 2004 students built a Roman galley along the banks of the river, while others lived like legionnaires in the Alps.

This year’s project has been funded by €200,000 from businessman Hans Schaller, whose hobby is recreating historic events and participating as the character “Schallus Brutalus Maximus.”

via University students to live like ancient Roman gladiators – The Local.

Dr Loffl seems fond of putting grad students through these reenacment exercises

More coverage:

Guernsey as Roman Trading Post

The incipit of an item at the BBC:

A series of finds in 1980s completely changed the perception of the effect the Romans had on Guernsey.

Tanya Walls, La Société Guernesiaise archaeology secretary, said before the finds it had been thought they had little influence.

However, when evidence of settlements, trade and industry came to light it told a different story.

The island became a centre for trade, most obviously shown by the wreck of a Roman trading ship found off Guernsey.

Before the Romans, Guernsey had been well-known as a trading point for wine in the Iron Age as ships made their way north from Bordeaux.

The Romans capitalised on this settling in St Peter Port following their occupation of Gaul (modern day France).

In the 1980s a site was discovered at La Paladerie, in St Peter Port, where Roman artefacts and the remains of buildings were uncovered.

Amongst the items found on the site were locally produced Iron Age pottery alongside the finer type produced in Europe by the Romans and also remains of the household gods found in every Roman home before the empire’s conversion to Christianity.

A few years before this the Asterix, a Gallo-Roman trading vessel, was found in the mouth of the harbour and these two finds combined to show how Guernsey was used as a trading post.

Tanya explained that it is thought the Romans settled in Guernsey shortly after they conquered what is now France, but before they reached England, sometime in the first century BC, and: “Their influence would have been strong for around 300 years.”

Tiles from a Roman building were used in the construction of Castel Church

The idea that there was a Roman settlement in St Peter Port was furthered when the Town Market building was redeveloped in 2000 and a further series of settlements were found.

[...]

via BBC – Guernsey the Roman Empire’s trading post.

We mentioned the plans for the Asterix a few months ago …

Egalitarian Mycenean Burials?

Most of a very interesting item from the Independent:

A team of archaeologists have unearthed five chamber tombs at Ayia Sotira, a cemetery in the Nemea Valley in Greece, just a few hours walk from the ancient city of Mycenae. The tombs date from 1350 – 1200 BC, the era in which Mycenae thrived as a major centre of Greek civilization.

They contain the remains of 21 individuals who probably came from Tsoungiza, an agricultural settlement close to the ancient city. Despite the significant human remains, however, the team have found no evidence of elite burials, prompting speculation that Tsoungiza may have been an egalitarian society without leaders.

The team excavated the five tombs between 2006 and 2008, containing the skeletal remains of 21 individuals, including what appears to be an extended family made up of two men, one woman and two young children. Detailed analysis of the remains will be difficult to carry out as they are generally poorly preserved. The team have been advised by scientists that DNA analysis will not be possible, but it is hoped that analysis will reveal further information about the diet of the individuals.

The team also discovered pieces of obsidian and flint debris in the tombs, and believe that these tools would have been used to cut up bodies as part of ‘secondary burial’ procedures – a funerary practice that was not uncommon in the ancient world. Professor Angus Smith, of Brock University in Canada, is one of the directors of the excavation project. He explained:

“You bury somebody, then you wait for that person to decompose, then you go back into the tomb or grave and you collect the bones after all the flesh has decomposed”.

Professor Smith suggested that there were practical reasons to bury bodies in this way, in that the bodies would take up less space. But there may also have been ritualistic reasons. In Tomb 4 the team found a small pit that contained the secondary burials of two adult men. Both of their skulls were “displayed at a higher level than the rest of the skeleton,” said Professor Smith, suggesting that the men were “carefully placed in this pit”.

The team were surprised to find a lack of burial goods in the tombs. The Mycenaean civilization is known for its rich elite burials, but the goods found at Ayia Sotira were modest. They included alabaster pots, bowls, jugs, faïence and glass beads, and a female Psi figurine (one of three styles typical of Mycenae). After water-sieving the remains, they also found stone micro beads that were no bigger than a millimetre in size. One tomb contained 462 of these beads stowed in a side-chamber, and are thought to be the remains of a necklace.

There were no findings of the gold or silver artefacts expected in an elite burial, although they did find fragments of a conical rhyton – a two-hole vessel that can be used for libation rituals and is often associated with elite burials.

Professor Smith described the tomb complex as having a “distinctly different character to those around Mycenae. The wealthy and very wealthy tombs are missing”.

One explanation could be that the elite tombs were looted, either in ancient times or more recently. When the team arrived at Ayia Sotira, they found ‘probe holes’ that had been dug into the ground by looters searching for airways.

Another possibility is that the elite tombs at Ayia Sotira just haven’t been discovered yet.

A third possibility is that these people lived in a classless society – that despite being close to a rich city, the people of this settlement, for whatever reason, had no elites.

“It does seem to be a community of agriculturalists who don’t seem to have a clear leader or clear elite mixed in amongst them,” said Professor Smith. “Were they governed by the palace at Mycenae which sort of oversaw them? Or were they removed enough that they had their own system of politics and government but one that didn’t produce clear elites?”

via Mycenaean tombs discovered might be evidence of classless society | The Independent.

Interesting questions … it will be interesting to see where this all ends up going …

This Day inAncient History: pridie kalendas apriles

pridie kalendas apriles

  • rites in honour of Luna at her temple on the Aventine
  • c. 130 A.D. — martyrdom of Balbina
  • 250 (?) A.D. — birth of the future emperor Constantius I Chlorus
  • 307 A.D. – Constantine marries Fausta, the daughter of Maximian
  • 1596 — birth of Rene Descartes (author, of course, of that bit of Latin which a pile of folks know)

JOB: Generalist @ UArizona (one year)

Seen on the Classics list:

The Classics Department at the University of Arizona is seeking a Visiting
Assistant Professor for the academic year 2010-2011 beginning in August of
2010. This is a full time and benefits eligible position. Candidates should
be broadly trained classicists prepared to teach six courses (three courses
per semester), including one in the classical tradition, two large
enrollment classes depending upon the candidate¹s areas of expertise, and
Greek and Latin. A Ph.D. in Classics is required. The University of Arizona
conducts pre-employment screening for all positions, and this includes
verification of academic credentials, licenses, certifications, and work
history. This position is non-security sensitive and requires a name-based
criminal background check. The University of Arizona is an EEO/AA-M/W/D/V/
Employer.
Position open until filled.
Apply on line at www.uacareertrack.com

Burrito Burial From Gabii

This one’s making the rounds and is in multiple copies in my mailbox … excerpts from a very interesting item at the National Geographic.

A 1,700-year-old sarcophagus found in an abandoned city near Rome could contain the body of a gladiator or a Christian dignitary, say archaeologists who are preparing to examine the coffin in the lab.Found in a cement-capped pit in the ancient metropolis of Gabii, the coffin is unusual because it\’s made of lead—only a few hundred such Roman burials are known.Even odder, the 800 pounds (362 kilograms) of lead fold over the corpse like a burrito, said Roman archaeologist Jeffrey Becker. rectangular shape with a lid, he said.

The coffin, which has been in storage since last year, is about to be moved to the American Academy in Rome for further testing.

But uncovering details about the person inside the lead coffin will be tricky. For starters, the undisturbed tomb contained no grave goods, offering few clues about the owner.

What’s more, x-ray and CT scans—the preferred methods of coffin analysis—cannot penetrate the thick lead, leaving researchers pondering other, potentially dangerous ways to examine the remains inside.

“It’s exciting as well as frustrating, because there are no known matches in the record,” said Becker, managing director of the University of Michigan’s Gabii Project.

[...]

The newfound sarcophagus was the “most surprising” discovery made in 2009 during the largest ever archaeological dig in Gabii. Becker and colleague Nicola Terrenato received funding for the ongoing project from the National Geographic Society’s Committee for Research and Exploration. (The National Geographic Society owns National Geographic News.)
[...]

Lead was a high-value metal at the time, so a full sarcophagus made out of the stuff “is a sure marker of somebody of some kind of substance,” Becker said.

Past lead burials found throughout Europe have housed soldiers, elite members of the Christian church, and even female gladiators.

In fact, many lead coffins contain high-ranking women or adolescents instead of men, said Jenny Hall, a senior curator of Roman archaeology at the Museum of London, who was not involved in the new study.

However, the newfound sarcophagus’ tentative age may make the gladiator scenario unlikely, said Bruce Hitchner, a visiting professor in classical archaeology at All Souls College at the U.K.’s University of Oxford.

The coffin dates back to the fourth or fifth centuries A.D., while the gladiator heyday was centuries earlier, said Hitchner, who was not part of the excavation team.

[...]

What intrigues team leader Becker the most is the sarcophagus’s placement—”smack dab” in the middle of a city block. A taboo against burying the dead inside city limits was deeply ingrained in the Roman religious mindset of the time, he said.

“I don’t think it’s, We’re feeling lazy today, we’re going to bury Uncle Joe in the tomato garden,” Becker said. There may have been some major event that made people bury the body downtown—a possibility he intends to investigate during the next dig.

“As we seek to understand the life of the city, it’s important for us to consider its end,” Becker pointed out.

“To see someone who is at first glance a person of high social standing associated with later layers of the city … opens a potentially new conversation about this urban twilight in central Italy.”

Foot Bone Hints at “Extraordinary Preservation”

First, however, Becker’s team hopes to find out more about the person inside the lead sarcophagus. The researchers’ only hint so far is a small foot bone protruding through a hole in one end of the coffin.

Some lead burials have allowed for “extraordinary preservation” of human tissue and hair, Becker said, though the opening in the sarcophagus may mean that air has sped up decomposition of the body.

Still, early examinations reveal that the foot bone is “exceedingly” intact, Becker said: “Worst case, there’s an exceptionally well-preserved human skeleton inside the wrapping.”

[...]

via Lead “Burrito” Sarcophagus Found Near Rome | National Geographic.

The original article includes a very nice photo, which looks more like a paper airplane than a burrito to me; the purported gladiator connection (which is being hyped in some spinoff versions of this story) seems rather tenuous. The Gabii Project’s website is always worth a look … I can’t remember if we mentioned this similar burial from Yorkshire a couple of years ago …

More coverage:

Another Collapse at the Domus Aurea

The incipit of a piece from ANSA (tip o’ the pileus to Francesca Tronchin):

Part of the ceiling of Roman Emperor Nero’s Domus Aurea collapsed on Tuesday.Some 60 square meters of the baths built on top of the Golden House by the emperor who succeeded Nero, Trajan, came down because of seepage from recent heavy rains, civil protection experts said.The area where the collapse occurred, a tunnel that was once part of the baths, has been cordoned off because it is close to the entrance to public gardens above it, they said.”Now we’re trying to seal it off so no more rain will get into the hole,” they said.Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno said he was “very worried” about the state of the structure, one of Rome’s most celebrated tourist attractions.The special commissioner for the site, Luciano Marchetti, said “more collapses were possible”.The situation, he said, is “one of extreme alarm”.The Domus Aurea, built by Nero soon after the great fire in Rome in 64 AD, has been shut since 2005 for work to make it more stable.It was closed after masonry fell from flaking walls and a high level of dangerous seepage was detected.The current project aims to open up 2,600 square metres of the site.The top of the Domus on the Colle Oppio Oppian Hill is covered with parks, trees and roads whose weight and polluting effect are a constant threat.Archaeologists have also been trying to unearth more of the massive baths that Trajan built.The golden palace of the ill-famed Nero 37-68 AD first re-opened in June 1999 after 21 years in which it was Rome’s best-kept secret – open only to art officials and special guests.Some five billion lire 2.5 million euros were spent in refurbishing the visitable rooms filled with frescoes of weird animals like winged lions, griffins and tritons which led to the original coinage of the word ‘grotesque’, from the Italian word for cave grotto.

via Domus Aurea roof collapses | ANSA.it.

Long time readers of rogueclassicism will remember that the Domus Aurea reopened to the public back in 2006; by 2007, frequent rains had limited how much of it was open to the public;  it closed again in December 2008 and has not reopened since.

Ancient Roman Manga

The incipit of an item from ANSA:

Tokyo, March 29 – An Ancient Roman time traveller who shuttles between his own era and modern-day Tokyo is the hero of the comic strip awarded this year’s global manga prize.Lucius, a Roman architect who specializes in designing public baths, stars in a strip called Thermae Romae, which has been announced as the winner of Japan’s 2010 Cartoon Grand Prize. Created by the Europe-based Japanese artist Mari Yamazaki, the comic tells of how Lucius, a resident of Hadrian’s Rome in the 2nd century AD, is transported into 21st-century Tokyo. The architect is sucked into a hole in a vast bathhouse in Ancient Rome and is ejected into a modern Japanese equivalent, a sento, where at first he doesn’t even notice the difference so similar are the two structures. After the first incident he learns to travel back and forward After the first incident he learns to travel back and forward between the two cultures, although he believes the voyage carries him merely to a far-off country, not another time.

Inspired by his trips into modern Japan, he develops similar innovations for the Ancient Romans, where his suggestions for fruit milkshakes and showercaps are an instant hit. Yamazaki, 42, is originally from Japan but has spent much of her adult life in Europe. She moved to Italy at the age of 17 to study fine art, where she met and married a comparative literature student and history buff, who helped inspire the character of Lucius. But the idea also came from Yamazaki’s own passion for Japan’s public bathhouses. Speaking at the award ceremony by video link from Lisbon, where she lives with her Italian husband, the artist said she still missed sentos despite her many years in Europe.

I haven’t seen a copy in English of this yet; here’s an info page of sorts with what seems to be the cover art if you want to keep your eye open for it ….

Restoring a Roman ‘Burial Fresco’

Interesting item from the Triad (I think):

The Beirut National Museum has launched a six-month project to restore an ancient fresco of Roman burial rites that was first discovered near the southern city of Tyre in 1937.The fresco, discovered in a cave in the region of Burj Shmali by British excavators, was moved to the Beirut National Museum in the 1940′s to save it from degradation. Over the years it was kept in the basement of the museum along with other ancient tombs and artifacts.

The restoration, which will cost around $261,000 provided by the Italian embassy, will help conserve the fresco containing images of soldiers and warrior horses. Some of the images are believed to depict burial rituals of ancient Romans who ruled Tyre and much of the eastern Mediterranean then.

It’s the second time the fresco has undergone restoration. The first was in 1998 to help protect it against humidity.

‘This is a project of conservation of this fantastic wall paintings of Roman age. We are in the tomb of the 2nd century after Christ and the mythology describes the classic mythology connected with the ultra terrain and with the after life and the main myths of the after life. And the project here started actually a few years ago with the rescue of the whole basement of the museum and trying to reduce the amount of humidity that was in here,” said Georgio Capriotti, leader of the team of Lebanese and Italian restoration experts.

The Beirut National Museum contains about 1,300 artifacts from the prehistoric and ancient eras. It was closed in 1975 due to the civil war and reopened in 1999.

The basement of the museum is currently closed to visitors but is expected to reopen in November with the unveiling of the newly-restored fresco.

The original article is accompanied by a not-so-useful photo, but a  nice little embedded CBS video of the restoration work in progress …

Satyr on Display

The incipit of an item in Corriere del Mezzogiorno mentions a satyr found at Santa Maria Capua Vetere two years ago, which is apparently a copy of a Praxiteles in the Capitoline Museum:

Nel foyer del teatro Garibaldi di S. Maria Capua Vetere, dal 15 aprile al 30 giugno, sarà per la prima volta esposto al pubblico il Satiro del II secolo d.C. rinvenuto a Santa Maria Capua Vetere due anni fa, durante gli scavi in via Anfiteatro. Il restauro della statua in marmo, perfetta riproduzione del Satiro di Prassitele conservato nei Musei capitolini a Roma, è durato 18 mesi da parte della della Sovrintendenza ai Beni Archeologici. L’imponente scultura, alta oltre 2 metri, è stata portata alla luce circa due anni fa, nel corso dei lavori all’interno di una proprietà privata. Il marmo, seriamente danneggiato e spezzato in più parti, era rovesciato all’interno dei resti di un ninfeo sepolto a circa tre metri dall’attuale pavimentazione. L’importanza della scoperta ha suscitato l’interesse di archeologi, studiosi e appassionati.

I can’t remember this find ever being reported (I don’t think it is the Marsyas from last summer); anyone know about it?

Galaxy Zoo Meets the Oxyrhynchus Papyri?

Saw this inter alia in a piece in Time Magazine:

Researchers from other disciplines have begun approaching the Galaxy Zoo team for help sorting their own masses of information. With Galaxy Zoo’s assistance, the Royal Observatory Greenwich just launched Solar Stormwatch, which asks volunteers to track solar explosions captured on video by NASA’s STEREO spacecraft. The idea is eventually to be able to predict these flare-ups, which interfere with satellites and endanger astronauts. Another project will task volunteers with translating the famous Oxyrhynchus Papyri, a cache of 50,000 Ptolemaic-era manuscript fragments from Egypt. Yet another will analyze footage of the New Caledonian crow in the wild. (It’s one of the few nonprimate species to create and even modify tools.)

via Classifying Every Known Galaxy — in Just Three Weeks – TIME.

Anyone know anything about this? I can’t find any mention about Oxyrhynchus at the Zooniverse project page

Possible Redesign

Currently rogueclassicism is a three-column blog. I’m pondering going to a four-column template in order to incorporate a number of items that I post to twitter which might be of interest which generally don’t get ‘full treatement’ at rc. Would four columns be ‘too much’? (the template provided would put content in the left column and it would be porportionately narrower … some photos I’ve previously posted are a bit too wide for this layout; I’m more concerned whether it might be too difficult for folks to read; this site has an example of the layout (obviously not content)).

If you have an opinion, feel free to comment …

Vergina Restoration Project

Brief item from the ANA:

A restoration project of the royal mecropolis and the palace-city of Aigai within the larger archaeological site of Vergina, north-central Greece, will be financed with seven million euros by the National Strategic Reference Framework NSRF. Vergina is the burial site of ancient Macedonian kings, including the tomb of Philip II.The project, scheduled to be completed by 2013, includes beautification works to further promote the archaeological site.

via Vergina royal necropolis restoration project | ANA.