Sunday, November 30, 2008

Venetic, Roman and Medieval Finds in Vicenza

Restoration work in the Corte dei Bissari by the Basilica Palladiana in Vicenza (Roman Vicentia) has led to the discovery of two Roman structures and a section of road, belonging to a previously unknown cardo. The Roman remains were found beneath "some residual Medieval layers" -- about which, unfortunately, no more is written.

The interior wall of a 3rd-4th century CE Roman house, preserved for a length of 9.70 m, divides two rooms, one paved in cocciopesto, the other originally mosaicked, of which only a few tesserae remain. To the south of this building is a second, whose details remain sketchy. Both buildings front a section of a north-south road (cardo), of which are preserved three curb blocks for a sidewalk ca. 1.00 m wide.

In addition to the remains of the Roman city, archaeologists found beaten clay floors belonging to the pre-Roman Venetic settlement.

[La Repubblica, Comune di Vicenza, Storia Romana]

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Discoveries at Modena both Licit and Il-

Excavations at Modena in Emilia-Romagna have brought to light a Roman ceramic kiln area and waster heaps dating to the first centuries CE. The discovery occurred in the course of construction of a basement for a new building on the Viale Reiter (see on Google Maps), outside the ancient city walls.

A Roman level was found at a depth of 5.50 m below a thick alluvial deposit. Large pits were found filled with kiln wasters, tile kiln elements, and general Roman trash including marble, plaster, stucco, mosaic tesserae, ceramics, coins and metal objects. A large pit, probably a clay quarry, produced misfired cooking ware, bricks, and amphorae, as well as kiln spacers and architectural elements. The pit containted ceramics of different productions, including Dressel type 2-4 amphorae, floor tiles, varnished jugs and bottles, thin-walled ware, North Italian terra sigillata cups, as well as over 100 Firmalampen (Factory Lamps) with the producers' stamps Fortis, Stabili, Communis, Phoetaspi, and Eucarpi.

Also found were a terracotta statuette of Hercules and the Erymanthian Boar, and 14 lead sling bullets, attributable to the Bellum Mutinensis of 43 BCE (I can't make out any inscriptions from the photograph).

[Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici dell'Emilia-Romagna, with many good photos; ItalyMag]

On the other side of the law, two collectors from Castelfranco Emilia (Modena) have been arrested and accused of illegal possession of antiquities, including a very fine javelin point and spear head, a 6th century BCE votive terracotta from Magna Graecia, Gothic and Lombard buckles, and Republican Roman coins.

[Il Nuovo Giornale di Modena, via David Gill at Looting Matters]

Thursday, November 20, 2008

7th century Etruscan village discovered near Parma

An Etruscan settlement dating to the 7th century BCE has been discovered near an industrial park on the outskirts of Parma. The finds include houses built on a network of channels for collecting rainwater, a kiln for bucchero production, and numerous home furnishings. Among the most recent finds is a fine red-varnished jug dating to the 5th century BCE. The settlement was inhabited for 150 years before the Etruscan foundation of Parma. The settlers came from Chiusi or Perugia, according to the archaeologists in charge.

(You can see the area, between Via Forlanini and Strada Uguzzolo, on Google Maps. I'm not sure if those are bulldozer marks, cropmarks, or what...)


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

18 Byzantine Tombs near Campomarino, Molise

Excavations by the Archaeological Soprintendenza for Molise and the Università degli Studi del Molise have brought to light 18 Byzantine tombs in the neighborhood of Marinelle Vecchie, just outside Campomarino on the coast of Molise. Such a discovery is so far unique in the area. Lombard presence is known in the region, but there is little other evidence for Byzantine activity in the 6th century.

Among the finds were amphorae and marbles with connections to Palestine, North Africa, Egypt and the opposite shore of the Adriatic, along with a Christian inscription dated to the 6th century CE. It is only the third such inscription known from Molise, according to Gianfranco De Benedittis of the Università degli Studi del Molise in Campobasso. The two previous date to the 4th and 5th centuries.

Work will continue with the hopes of locating a settlement connected with the necropolis. The excavation began a year ago, after a six-year study of the area with ground-penetrating radar, and was sponsored by the Regional Assessor for Culture Sandro Arco and the town of Campomarino.

(Via Il Tempo,, Termoli Online, Yahoo! News and Il Sannio Quotidiano)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Gabii Project pages

The much-anticipated Gabii Project has had a blog since July, Lapis Gabinus, which I think I've so far failed to mention. The project webpage was announced in October. They're looking for staff for the field season June 15 through July 31, 2009.

The Annotated Italic AIA, no. 2

(Part 2 of 2)

Saturday, January 10 at the 2009 AIA Annual Meeting presents a quandary of unfortunate cross-schedulings, viz. 4A: Current work in Pre-Roman and Roman Italy and 4D: Roman Cult and Ritual (with at least two Italicky papers), both from 8:30 to 11 AM, and 6A: The Ideology and Innovation of Monumental Architecture in Etruria and Early Rome, 6C: The Etruscan Objects Speak: New Linguistic and Socio-Historical Approaches to Etruscan Epigraphy, and 6G: Ancient Volsinii (Orvieto): Discoveries and Rediscoveries (workshop), all three from 1:30 to 4:30 PM. Architecture or epigraphy or Vieto? It seems one must choose.

Session: 4A: Current work in Pre-Roman and Roman Italy
Saturday, January 10, 8:30 AM - 11:00 AM

1. The Settlement of Ripacandida (Potenza, Italy) between Early Iron Age and Seventh Century B.C.
Gianfranco Carollo, Università degli Studi della Basilicata
2. A New Plan of an Ancient Italian City: Gabii Revealed
Jeffrey A. Becker, Boston University, Marcello Mogetta, The University of Michigan, and Nicola Terrenato, The University of Michigan
3. Excavations at Castel Viscardo, Italy: Field Reports 2006-2008
Silvia Simonetti (Field Director), Claudio Bizzarri (co-Director), David B. George (co-Director, Saint Anselm College)
4. Recent Excavations at Poggio Civitate (Murlo) – 2004-2008
Jason Bauer, Poggio Civitate Archaeological Project and Anthony Tuck, The University of Massachusetts at Amherst
5. First Season of Excavation at the Vicus ad Martis Tudertium
John Muccigrosso, Drew University
6. Decor, Destruction, and Renewal at Ostia in the Third–Fourth Centuries C.E.: Excavation of the Palazzo Imperiale, 2008
Joanne Spurza, Hunter College of The City University of New York
7. The Evidence for Linen as an Important Samnite Craft and Trade Good
China P. Shelton, Boston University

Session: 4D: Roman Cult and Ritual
Saturday, January 10, 8:30 AM - 11:00 AM

1. Italo-Hellenistic Sanctuaries of Pentrian Samnium: Questions of Accessibility
Rachel E. Van Dusen, University at Buffalo
3. (De-)Constructing Etruscan Cult Practice: New Perspectives on Etruscan Sacrificial Representations
Mareile Haase, University of Toronto

Session: 6A: The Ideology and Innovation of Monumental Architecture in Etruria and Early Rome
Saturday, January 10, 1:30 PM - 4:30 PM
Organizer: Dr. Michael L. Thomas, The University of Texas at Austin

1. Defining Monumentality in Archaic Etruria: The Case of the Etruscan palazzi
Gretchen E. Meyers, Franklin and Marshall College
2. Straw to Stone, Huts to Houses: Transitions in Building Practices and Society in Protohistoric Latium
Elizabeth Colantoni, University of Rochester
3. The Performance of Death: Rituals of Display and the Emergence of Community Identity in Early Etruria
Anthony Tuck, University of Massachusetts Amherst
4. Monumentalization of the Etruscan Round Moulding
Nancy A. Winter, Wolfson College, Oxford (UK)
5. The Colossal Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus and Roman Architectural History
John N. N. Hopkins, The University of Texas at Austin / American Academy in Rome
6. On the Introduction of Stone Entablatures in Republican Temples in Rome
Penelope J. E. Davies, The University of Texas at Austin

Session: 6C: The Etruscan Objects Speak: New Linguistic and Socio-Historical Approaches to Etruscan Epigraphy (Joint AIA/APA Colloquium)
Saturday, January 10, 1:30 PM - 4:30 PM

Organizer: Dr. Hilary Becker, The College of William & Mary

1. Lucumo to Lucius: Etruscans with Both Etruscan and Latin Names on Bilingual Inscriptions from Etruria
Gary Farney, Rutgers University
2. Surveying the Etruscan Inscriptions on Objects in the British Museum’s Collections
Margaret Watmough and Judith Swaddling, British Museum
3. Alphabet, Orthography, and Paleography at Poggio Civitate (Murlo)
Rex Wallace, University of Massachusetts Amherst
4. Public, Private, and Clan Property in Etruria
Hilary Becker, The College of William & Mary
5. Inscriptions on Tiles from Chiusi: Archaeological and Epigraphical Notes
Enrico Benelli, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche

Session: 6G: Ancient Volsinii (Orvieto): Discoveries and Rediscoveries (workshop)
Saturday, January 10, 1:30 PM - 4:30 PM
Organizer: Prof. Ann Blair Brownlee, University of Pennsylvania Museum

The Annotated Italic AIA, no. 1

The preliminary schedule of the AIA 2009 Annual Meeting in Philadelphia has been posted. There's a heap of interesting titles on Italy roughly B.C.E., many of which I've picked out here for convenience. This is part 1 of 2.

Session 1D: South Italy and Sicily
Friday, January 9, 8:30 AM - 11:00 AM

1. The Marsala Hinterland Survey: Results of the 2008 Season
Emma Blake, Tufts University and Robert Schon, University of Arizona
2. Athenian Pottery, Metal Vessels, and Local Taste at Morgantina
Justin St. P. Walsh, Louisiana State University and Carla Antonaccio, Duke University
3. Harbor Facility Submerged Off Ancient Locri-Epizefiri, Southern Italy, Discovered by Geophysical Survey
Jean-Daniel Stanley, Smithsonian Institution, Jenny M. Tennent, University of Saskatchewan, Patrick E. Hart, US Geological Survey, and Maria Pia Bernasconi, Universitá della Calabria
4. Agency and the Articulation of Cult Activity in the Early Greek Colonization of Sicily and Southern Italy
Jennifer L. Boger, Tufts University
5. Stelae from the Sanctuary of Demeter Malophoros in Selinus
Allaire B. Stallsmith, Towson University
6. Navigating Multi-cultural Relationships in Western Sicily during the Greek Archaic Period
Jeanette Cooper, Independent Scholar
7. Votive Offerings from Lucanian Sanctuaries between the Fourth Century B.C. and the Age of Romanization: Changes and Continuity
Ilaria Battiloro, University of Alberta

Session: 2C: Prehistoric Stone Tools
Friday, January 9, 11:15 AM - 1:15 PM

Bronze Age Obsidian Trade in Sardinia (Italy): The Use of Monte Arci Subsources at Duos Nuraghes and Other Sites
Robert Tykot, University of South Florida

Session: 2I: Poster Session
Friday, January 9, 11:15 AM - 3:00 PM

8. Light Frame Architecture at Poggio Civitate: A Comparison of Elite and Non-Elite Domiciles
Andrea Rodriguez, University of Florida, Andrew Carroll, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Anthony Tuck, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
12. Synchopation and Synaesthic Response to the Temple of Apollo at Syracuse
Brian E. McConnell, Florida Atlantic University
14. An Early Roman Kiln Site in the Metapontine Chora: The New Excavations at Pizzica Pantanello
Adam Hyatt and Keith Swift, Institute of Classical Archaeology, University of Texas at Austin
23. Italian Prehistory and the Emergence of the Civic Museum
Elisabetta Cova, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
26. First Season of Excavation at the Vicus ad Martis Tudertium
John Muccigrosso, Drew University

Session: 3B: In the Shadow of Vesuvius
Friday, January 9, 1:30 PM - 4:30 PM

Session: 3H: Gold Medal Symposium: Archaeological Approaches to the Study of Early States
Friday, January 9, 1:30 PM - 4:30 PM
1. Weak States and Weakening Paradigms. Against Teleology in Roman State and Empire Formation
Nicola Terrenato, University of Michigan

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Of Plastics and Potsherds

I note a recent article in Science, "Bioactive Contaminants Leach from Disposable Laboratory Plasticware" (discussion at Wired). I wonder, not being so chemically attuned, whether this is so different from the fact that ceramics shouldn't be kept in plastic bags if they're to be submitted to organic residue analysis.

For discussion, see two pages every practicing field archaeologist should read, "Protocols: Ceramic Artefacts and Skeletal Material," in Archaeology Meets Science: Biomolecular Investigations in Bronze Age Greece, eds. Y. Tzedakis, H. Martlew, M.K. Jones, Oxbow 2008 [ISBN
1-84217-238-7, WorldCat] 236-7, the upshot of which is: when handling ceramics, don't use plastic bags, don't use plastic gloves (if gloveless, use "hands that are free of potions and lotions"), and don't wash with acid.

"Archaeologists can render science useless unless as excavators, they handle their material in the right way...
No one, not any archaeologist or excavator, can be criticised for the way ceramic or skeletal material was excavated, cleaned, or stored, until contaminants started appearing in the organic residue results and were traced back to their sources. Excavators did what they thought was the best thing, and it was, until science came along and changed the rules.
From now on, however, there is no way an archaeologist can escape condemnation if he/she wilfully allows information that has been stored inside a pot or a bone, to be destroyed.
It is now an absolute obligation for excavators to think about the future application of science to archaeological subjects, and to prepare and archive artifacts accordingly, i.e. in such a way that the chemical signals that have survived hundreds or thousands of years, are not contaminated or destroyed through thoughtless handling and storage."

(And to make this post strictly relevant to the blog as a whole... pages 273-280 of the above-quoted book describe organic residue analyses of a Canaanite jar; a Myceneaean Vapheio cup, crocus-painted askos, and pithos; and local carinated cup and barbotine jug from the settlement of Punta d'Alaca on the island of Vivara near the Bay of Naples. Among the residues identified were vegetable oil flavored with a woody herb/bark, herb-flavored unresinated wine, olive oil flavored with an herbal extract, and an herbal mixture possibly flavoring milk or cream.)