Sunday, August 28, 2005

In Rome again for the day, and I'm headed to the Musei Capitolini.

At Trebula, we thought we were digging in 3c BCE Republican levels, but someone had to go and find a coin with the Parthian standards on the reverse, which weren't returned until the reign of Augustus... I'm having a wonderful time. Monteleone Sabino is a gem of a medieval hilltop village. This weekend was the Festival of San Giovanni, and twice a day they throw ciambelle -- more or less rock-hard bagels -- from a certain house in the town, while all who are able fight to catch them. My Italian is improving, though slowly.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

(Pretend this was posted a week ago, like the date implies)

I made it safe and sound to Rome...

I hit the Museo Nazionale Romano at the Palazzo Massimo last night after I got settled in at my hostel. This morning I revisited my old friend, the museum at the Terme di Diocleziano with its collection of early epigraphic materials and the proto-history of the Latin peoples. At noon I met my new friends Jasper and Christy, until then only online acquaintances, through the Roman Army Talk forum. We grabbed lunch and then did the Pantheon and the Palazzo Altemps with its rooms of fine (and frequently heavily-restored) statuary. After that they went back to their hotel, and I journeyed on to another friend, the Museo Nazionale Etrusco della Villa Giulia. Of course, there's a "No Foto" policy in effect there -- I had to be careful and take my time so as not to get caught until I'd gotten what I needed. There were certain things that were just untakeable -- it's really a museum best done with a large group, so the bulk of the party can create a distraction while you snap your prizes.

Tomorrow I head to Monteleone Sabino north of Rome for the TrebulaMutuesca dig... who knows when I'll next have internet access. Vale for now.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Vengo volando

I fly out of Boston Logan tonight and into Rome FCO via Frankfurt courtesy of Lufthansa... the dig starts on Sunday: one day to rest and another to hit some museums with a Dutch friend on vacation.

Last night my friends and I invented a game which involves hitting frisbees out of the air with croquet mallets. I think we took our inspiration from this guy - Charun, blue Etruscan underworld demon extraordinaire. Later on I tore my toe playing capture the flag -- absit omen!

Adieu, adieu! my native shore
Fades o’er the water blue;
The night-winds sigh, the breakers roar,
And shrieks the wild sea-mew.
Yon sun that sets upon the sea
We follow in his flight;
Farewell awhile to him and thee,
My native Land – Good Night!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

For all your imperial household cleaning needs

Some pictures I cooked up a couple of months ago...

some background: I suppose Galba was in Spain and Vindex in Gaul, but I don't feel like changing it now.

Monday, August 15, 2005

LARTH marches on

The wireless is working at home now, and I can work from my own computer. Eugepae! One of the first things I did was to update my Emporical Images site with some new pics sent by a friend in Germany after his visit to Copenhagen. I want it to be an emporion for the empirical study of Antiquity, hence the name. Despite all the interesting-looking categories taking up space above it, the real heart of the site is in the Italic Military sections, in particular helmets.

In the fall of 2003, while studying at the Centro, I started a weekly study group called LARTH (Languages of Antiquity Research for Thrill and Honour). We met every Thursday (or was it Friday?) night for an introduction to a particular language. Each session included historical context, writing system, basics of grammar, and some original material for translation. My friend Pat Owens and I teamed up for the first session on Faliscan and Old Latin. Pat later presented Linear B Greek; I gave Umbrian, Oscan and an abortive attempt at Sumerian, and Ari Gerstman gave us Biblical Hebrew. I would note that Sumerian was not presented only because that night was too near to the end of the program and people's priorities lay elsewhere -- the handouts are in a box somewhere...

This summer, I was a Resident Assistant at the Lancaster site of the Center for Talented Youth, a program for academically-advanced 12-16 year-olds. I'd applied too late to get a TA position, but I think I had more fun as an RA than I would've as a TA. In any case, RAs organize afternoon activities for the students on a daily basis. I decided to revive LARTH for one activity period each session. I chose Etruscan and eliminated most of the hardcore linguistic material.

I gave an introduction the Etruscans and their language. After a brief tutorial with the alphabet, I had them cut out and assemble dice with Etruscan number-names, then using the rule that opposite sides add to 7 elicited the Etruscan names for 6 (huth), 5 (mach) and 4 (sha) given 1 (thu), 2 (zal) and 3 (ci). Next I (or rather my lovely assistants Marya and Alice) distributed the shards of terracotta planting pots we'd (deliberately) broken on the sidewalk behind the office. I had them write their names in Etruscan letters: for the second session, my supply request for a box of nails was approved, while the first session kids had to make do with markers. The questions that arose over how to represent sounds not present in Etruscan were illustrative of the difficulties the Etruscans themselves faced when writing Greek and other foreign names. This was as far as I got first session; the 43 kids who signed up generated more questions than I'd anticipated. Second session, with only about 20, we moved on to some fun with divination: they each cut out a diagram of the Piacenza liver and I showed them how to orient (or rather meridient) themselves and had them read the names of some principal divinities.

Both sessions were a blast and the kids had fun, too, besides lots of intelligent questions.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Champagne on the rostrum

I'm in the midst of some downtime between my summer employment and the first two weeks of the rest of my life, so I thought I'd start a blog. The title, Tria Corda, is an allusion to the poet Quintus Ennius, whom Aulus Gellius reports ...tria corda habere sese dicebat, quod loqui Graece et Osce et Latine sciret. I don't claim to know any of those languages as well as Ennius, but they are all at least in my heart if not hearts in and of themselves.

Sporadic Italic blogging is all that can be expected. In a week I'm headed to Monteleone Sabino in the hills north of Rome for a dig at ancient Trebula Mutuesca, the site of a sanctuary of the Sabine goddess Feronia. This summer, Dr. Vallarino hopes to be able to date the foundation of a large rectangular structure (probably late 4th/early 3rd c. BCE).

I've been trying to spread the word on this initiative from SAFE (Saving Antiquities For Everyone), regarding legislation restricting the US import of Italian antiquities: