Mary Beard on Pompeii

Mary Beard was talking at the University of Wisconsin:

The University of Wisconsin Department of Classics hosted a distinguished professor of classics for a lecture about the ancient Roman city of Pompeii at the Chazen Museum of Art Thursday night as part of the Year in Humanities.

Mary Beard, a professor of classics from Cambridge University in England, told an audience of mostly non-students about the recent research in Pompeii — the ancient Roman city destroyed by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. — and the important insights it provides into daily ancient Roman life.

“Part of the fun of Pompeii is joining in the puzzling about it,” Beard said. “It’s not just being told what things were for, but trying to work out what things were for, what they looked like and what they were called.”

Beard also said she takes particular interest in the casual, everyday wall paintings and other forms of art the eruption preserved, such as a painting of a group of men playing dice over drinks. Beard said the paintings help dispel some misconceptions about ancient Roman culture, adding most common Romans wore multicolored tunics instead of the stereotypical tunics commonly seen in modern depictions of Roman life.

She added the presence of cubicles in one building led archaeologists to conclude it was a brothel, while other scientists have analyzed the remnants of lavatories and cesspits preserved after the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius to learn more about daily Roman eating habits.

The presence of graffiti on Pompeii’s main thoroughfare has also helped historians learn more about political and literary life in ancient Rome, Beard said. The graffiti, some of which appears to be professionally created signage, attacks campaign rivals for local offices and parodies major works of ancient literature, such as Virgil’s “Aeneid.”

“The town still appears to be covered in writing,” Beard said. “These are not just the average graffiti; they were made by trained graffiti artists.”

Beard also explained the current archaeological debate over the exact date of Mt. Vesuvius’ eruption. She said though the undisputed year of the eruption remains 79 A.D., the season of the eruption is still debatable because of conflicting evidence provided by archaeologists.

While Beard said she believes the evidence known today supports an August eruption, the presence of “autumnal” clothing and a coin that suggests a September or October eruption date still make the date a point of contention among historians.

UW junior Nick Coombs said the lecture appealed to his art history major and his interest in urban planning.

He said despite the fact he was unfamiliar with Beard before attending the lecture, he was satisfied with the insights she provided into the study of the city.

“I thought it was really interesting how most of what we know about Pompeii is still steeped in fables and innuendo,” Coombs said. “What we definitively know is very small compared to what people insist they know through very questionable sources.”

via Lecturer: Pompeii still holds great significance |The Badger Herald.

Warwickshire Hoard

Not sure if we’ve mentioned this one before; it seems to have been found a year or so ago:

Historians investigating a hoard of Roman coins unearthed in south Warwickshire are hoping to ensure they remain in the county – and to solve the mystery of who buried them.

The cache of 1,146 silver denarii dating from 209 BC to 64AD – the largest in the county – was found by metal detector enthusiast Keith Bennett and declared treasure trove last year.

The coins themselves shed light on the brutal and often corrupt machinations of the Roman Empire, but Warmington Heritage Group is trying to find out why they were buried and what they reveal about life in the area in the first century AD.

One theory has it that whoever buried the coins – then around five years’ pay for a Roman soldier – knew that the Emperor Nero was devaluing denarii by lowering the silver content.

Archaeologist David Freke, who has been involved in excavations nearby in 2008, believes whoever did so was a “financially astute” individual effectively gambling on the currency market.

Speaking to Warmington Heritage Group on Monday, Dr Stanley Ireland of Warwick University warned that the collection, currently being valued, should not be broken up and sold to private collectors.

Dr Ireland also explained how some coins’ rarity gave an insight into the political turmoil of the time.

Some, bearing the head of the Emperor Caligula, were recalled after he was murdered. Another double-headed coin shows the young Nero with his mother, whom he later tried to have killed in an ‘accident’, sending soldiers to finish the job when she escaped.

Others, known as ‘tribute’ coins, date from the reign of the Emperor Tiberius and are taken to be the money Jesus referred to when he told people to pay their taxes.

The hoard also contains counterfeits with a low silver content and a north African silver coin dating to the period of the Roman Republic and the Greek Empire.

Although Roman farms have recently been identified in nearby Tysoe, the hoard is the earliest Roman find in Warmington by some 300 years. The village group has applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund to pay for digs that may reveal why a wealthy person would have been there and why that spot – possibly a ditch or inside a building – was chosen.

Warwickshire Museum keeper of archaeology Sara Weir hopes to keep and display the hoard at Warwick Museum. She said: “The potential story behind who collected these coins and buried them is a tantalising clue to what happened here almost 2,000 years ago.”

via Warmington’s buried treasure may reveal what the Romans did for us – Warwick Today – Back to Home Page.

JOB: Generalist @ Oberlin (one year)

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


The Classics Department at Oberlin College invites applications for a
full-time non-continuing faculty position in the College of Arts and
Sciences. Appointment to this position will be for a term of one
academic year, beginning fall semester of 2010 and will carry the
rank of Assistant Professor.

The incumbent will teach a total of five courses, including three in
Latin language and literature, and one course of the candidateąs own
design in the Classical Civilization sequence. Ability to teach Latin
at all levels is required. Expertise in Latin poetry is desirable.
Some preference will be given to candidates also able to teach
intermediate Greek. Among the qualifications required for appointment
is the Ph.D. or ABD status (in hand or expected by first semester of
academic year 2010). Candidates must demonstrate interest and
potential excellence in undergraduate teaching. Successful teaching
experience at the college level is desirable.

The Department of Classics has four full-time faculty and teaches a
wide range of courses in Classical civilization, including Greek and
Latin Literature, ancient history, and ancient archaeology. Courses
in ancient philosophy, art, and religion are offered by cooperating
members in other departments. For further information on the
department, please see
departments/classics/. Phone 440-775-8390; Fax 440-775-8084.

To be assured of consideration, a letter of application, a curriculum
vitae, graduate academic transcripts, and at least three recent
letters of reference, should be sent to Kirk Ormand, Chair,
Department of Classics, Oberlin College, King Building 105, Oberlin,
Ohio, 44074 by April 7, 2010. Please do not send writing samples at
this time. Application materials received after April 7 may be
considered until the position is filled. Salary will depend on
qualifications and experience.

Oberlin College is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer
with a strong institutional commitment to the development of a
climate that supports equality of opportunity and respect of
differences based on gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual
orientation, and gender identity and expression. Oberlin was the
first coeducational institution to grant bachelor’s degrees to women
and historically has been a leader in the education of African
Americans; the college was also among the first to prohibit
discrimination based on sexual orientation. In that spirit, we are
particularly interested in receiving applications from individuals
who would contribute to the diversity of our faculty.

JOB: Roman Archaeology at UMissouri

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

Visiting Assistant Professor Roman Archaeology

The Department of Art History and Archaeology at the University of Missouri
seeks a visiting assistant professor to teach courses in Roman art and
archaeology. This is a fulltime,non-tenure track position from August 2010
to May 2011. The position is responsible for six courses (3/3), including an
introductory survey of Roman art and archaeology and undergraduate and
graduate-level Roman courses in a variety of topics. A PhD is required for
appointment at this rank, but advanced ABD applicants also will be
considered at a different rank. Teaching experience is preferred.

The department offers the BA, MA, and PhD degrees in classical archaeology
and art history. There are normally about 80 undergraduate majors and 25
graduate students. Graduate degrees in art history and archaeology can be
combined with interdisciplinary minors in Ancient Studies, Medieval and
Renaissance Studies, and Women零 and Gender Studies. The University of
Missouri is the main campus of the state university system and offers a
broad range of undergraduate and graduate programs. Please send letter of
application, curriculum vitae, and contact information for three references

Anne Rudloff Stanton, Chair
Department of Art History and Archaeology
109 Pickard Hall
University of Missouri
Columbia, MO 65211

Application review starts March 15, 2010, and will continue until the
position is filled. For more information see the department website at The University of Missouri-Columbia is an Equal
Opportunity/Affirmative Action/ADA Employer.