Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Exhibits ending and beginning

If you were in Rome on November 20 you might have seen the Ara Pacis brilliantly lit up in its original colors by a fancy projection system. [ANSA]

If you're in Rome between now and December 13, you still have time to catch the exhibit Etruschi e Fenici sul mare: da Pyrgi a Cartagine ("Etruscans and Phoenicians at sea: from Pyrgi to Carthage") at the Vittoriano. [via Archaeogate; Provincia di Roma]

If you time it right, you can then head up to Bologna for the opening on December 12 of the exhibit Cavalieri etruschi dalle Valli al Po: Tra Reno e Panaro, la valle del Samoggia nell’VIII e VII sec.a.C. ("Etruscan horsemen from the Vales to the Po: Between Reno and Panaro, the Valle del Samoggia in the 8th and 7th c. BCE"), which runs until April 5, 2010. [photo above; via Archaeogate; press release; exhibit page]

And another if: the Museo delle navi antiche di Pisa might partially open to the public in April 2010. [via Storia Romana].

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Don't Eat That, Elmer, That's Horse [Finch]!

There's been some controversy about a free distribution of On the Origin of Species with a "special" introduction; in any case, I gladly note the existence of a counterpoint group, "Don't Diss Darwin," with the tongue–in–cheek motto "noli fringillidas edere!" I had to look up the middle word, which as it turns out is the scientific Latin term for the family of finches, of course. The Classical form on which it's based is fringilla, -ae which the OLD tells me means "a song-bird, perhaps the chaffinch," attested in Varro and Festus (usually a bad sign), and Martial in a form fringillus, cf. Greek φρυγίλος. This latter occurs once in Classical Greek—where else?—the Birds of Aristophanes, 763, where it gets trotted out for a pun with Φρὺξ.

For what it's worth, there was a Cistercian monastery of S. Angelo in Fringillis (or Frigido) founded in Calabria in 1220, as well as a Fringilla: some tales in verse of 1895 by
Richard Doddridge Blackmore (famous today for his novel Lorna Doone), with the doddgy lines quorsum haec? non potui qualem / Philomela querelam; sed / fringilla velut pipitabunda vagor adorning the frontispiece. The illustrations are passerable, but the verse, oh, the verse! The one snippet ought to be enough; the rest is available freely at Google Books:
God is with us ; He shall speed us ;
Or (if this vile crew impede us)
Let some light into their brain,
By the sword of Tubal Cain.
-Lita of the Nile, Part I, XII

All that said, Wikipedia informs me that Darwin's finches are now placed in the tanager family of Thraupidae rather than the true finch family, Fringillidae. θραυπίς occurs only in Aristotle History of Animals 592b30 and refers to a small bird. Such is the nature of scientific Latin. So noli fringillas edere, noli thraupidas edere, noli θραυπίδας edere, as you like.

Heroes and villains, dogs and goats

The Museo Civico Archeologico di Fara in Sabina [excellent website] has mounted an exhibit entitled "Un Re, un Guerriero, un Eroe | La tomba 36 della necropoli sabina di Eretum." The three-chambered Tomb 36 of the Colle del Forno necropolis, discovered in 2005, contained the burial of a Sabine potentate of the late 6th c. BCE, his ashes deposited in a wooden box draped with a gold-embroidered cloth, along with his arms, bronze cauldrons, a terracotta throne, a chariot and sacrificed horses. It's certainly worth noting here that the contents of another rich tomb of the same necropolis, Tomb XI [another excellent website], dating to the early 7th c. BCE, are currently on display in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen, having been looted in the 1970s and passed through the hands of the infamous Robert Hecht [NYTimes (16/3/2009); Looting Matters (17/3/09); Iconoclasm (18/5/09); Iconoclasm (18/10/09)].

Apropos of the previous post, a 4th-3rd c. BCE Greek necropolis was discovered in the territory of Castellaneta (Ta), unfortunately already looted [Corriere del Mezzogiorno; AGI]

Speaking of looting, SafeCorner reports on the "L'Arma per L'Arte 1969-2009" exhibit at Castel Sant'Angelo, celebrating 40 years of the Comando Carabinieri per la Tutela Patrimonio Culturale.

Cultural patrimony laws got you down? Now you can get your very own legal memento of a trip to Italy-- adopt a stray dog from Pompeii, via the "(C)Ave Canem" project [News in English; official Italian site].

....and, the mostly* gratuitous link of the day:
Extinct Goat Tried out Reptilian, Cold-Blooded Living

*(it has to do with adapting to a small Mediterranean island -- Majorca, in this case)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

'Beyond Magna Graecia' conference follow-up

This past weekend I was in Cincinnati for the Semple Symposium "Beyond Magna Graecia: New Developments in South Italian Archaeology. The Contexts of Apulian and Lucanian Pottery." Turnout was quite frankly higher than I'd been expecting, possibly somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 -- the photo below, taken Friday around midday, doesn't really do it justice. As usual, it was good to catch up with a couple of friends and meet others for the first time.

So, have new developments taken us 'beyond Magna Graecia'? There was plenty of evidence on hand for a widespread corrective necessary in this A.T. period (After Trendall), to put South Italian Red Figure back into its contexts (Trendall frequently omitted such information in his publications, even when it was certainly known). Some of Trendall's attributions were questioned, painters divided and joined, but one of the take-aways was to what an extent the field still relies on his monumental works. In any case, those contexts turn out more often than not to be non-Greek. Moving from Messapia, up to Daunia, and then back through Peucetia, the papers provided a sensitive analysis of the way Red Figure ceramics were used and produced by both non-Greek and Greek inhabitants of Apulia, responding to local needs and customs.

Ted Robinson speaks on archaeometric analysis.

The art historical element, strong in traditional Anglophone scholarship on South Italy, was present at the conference, but it was clear that no one would today dispense with the archaeological context of the artifact class in question. Ted Robinson's work on archaeometric analysis is certainly a step in the right direction, and the wider exposure of information from ongoing excavations in Italy is welcome. That the work of Italian researchers is not more widely known is a problem, and one that is only part due to the difficulty of obtaining foreign publications. I hope that the published proceedings will do their part to lead a new generation of American students to learn Italian -- honestly, if one has already learned Latin and French, it shouldn't be that difficult!

Several speakers emphasized the continued importance of Taranto, so as not to throw the baby out with the Greek bathwater. But, despite some tantalizing new data, there is still no certainly clinching evidence of Red Figure production at Taranto, at least not of the sort found at Metaponto, likely though it may be.

The conference was organized with the express intent of publishing proceedings as an up-to-date state-of-the-field in English; the last few Semple Symposia have had an average of three years from lectern to library, so look for a volume in 2012, maybe -- perfect vacation reading for the apocalypse?

Thanks to all at Cincinnati.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Magazine online: ArcheoMolise

The Centro Europeo di Ricerche Preistoriche in Isernia (Molise) is hosting the new magazine ArcheoMolise, whose issues now number three. Available here in .rar and .zip formats, which unpack into pdfs. The journal focuses on the archaeology of Molise, with forays into Colombia, and its chronological scope ranges from the Paleolithic through the present day, as can be seen from the contents:

(Aprile/Giugno 2009, No. 0 - Anno I):
- Antonella Minelli et al., 'Isernia La Pineta. Il sito preistorico alla luce delle recenti acquisizioni'
- Ettore Rufo, '40.000 anni fa a Rocchetta a Volturno. Gli artigiani neandertaliani di Grotta Reali'
- Chiara Santone, 'Il ripostiglio di Vinchiaturo. Alcune osservazioni.'
- Sandra Guglielmi & Petronilla Crocco, 'La necropoli di Ripatagliata. Studio antropologico dei resti scheletrici umani rinvenuti a Guglionesi'
- Karicla Scarcella, 'Il carnevale di Cercepiccola. Mesi, stagioni e drammi carnascialeschi'
- Michele Fratino, 'La catapulta sannitica di Casalbordino'

(Giulio/Settembre 2009, No. 1 - Anno I):
- Marta Arzarello et al., 'I bifacciali di Monteroduni. Un sito acheuleano di occupazione?'
- Michele Raddi, 'L'alta valle del Volturno. Insediamenti tardo antichi e medioevali'
- Walter Santoro, 'S. Croce di Sepino. Un Eigenkloster della valle del Moschiaturo'
- Luca D'Alessandro, 'Le maitunat' di Gambatesa. Una tradizione secolare'
- Brunella Muttillo, 'Alla riscoperta di El Dorado. La missione archeologica molisana in Colombia'
- Andrea Lonardelli, 'Il costume funerario femminile nel Molise preromano. I casi di Termoli, Guglionesi, Larino, San Giuliano di Puglia, Pozzilli e Gildone'

(Ottobre/Dicembre 2009, No. 2 - Anno I):
- Lorenzo Quilici, 'Il castello di Gerione presso Casacalenda, da Annibale agli Angioini'
- Adriano LaRegina, 'Ritratto di Caligola, poi di Augusto, dal Molise'
- Giovanna Falasca, 'San Giuliano del Sannio, alla ricerca delle origini storiche'
- Gabriella Di Rocco, 'Insediamenti fortificati del Molise occidentale, tra alto e basso Medioevo'
- Alessandro Testa, 'La Maschera del Cervo a Castelnuovo al Volturno, breve introduzione alla storia ed alle interpretazioni di una pantomima tradizionale'
- Roberta Venditto, 'Un alabastro inglese nel Regno di Napoli. Il caso del polittico del museo archeologico di Venafro'

(I'll be in Cincinnati for the "Beyond Magna Graecia" conference from tomorrow, Thursday, through Saturday, November 12 - 14. The organizers have helpfully put up a selection of background readings for the conference topic here.)

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Varia for October 4, 2009

In the Journals:
The latest issue (113.4) of the American Journal of Archaeology is available online, including:
-Elizabeth A. Meyer on "Writing Paraphernalia, Tablets, and Muses in Campanian Wall Painting" (abstract);
-Jeffrey Becker, Marcello Mogetto, and Nicola Terrenato uncover "A New Plan for an Ancient Italian City: Gabii Revealed" (abstract);
-John Oakley reviews the past decade in "Greek Vase Painting" (abstract);
-Bruce Hitchner's review article "Roman Republican Imperialism in Italy and the West" (link);
-and reviews of Archaeology and History in Sardinia from the Stone Age to the Middle Ages and Il Santuario dei Palici: Un centro di culto nella Valle del Margi.

Eric Poehler reviews Vedia Izzet, The Archaeology of Etruscan Society, in Rasenna 2.1 (2009).

This is a few years old, but I've just now run across it: M. Rubini, "A case of cranial trepanation in a Roman necropolis (Cassino, Italy, 3rd century BC)," International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 18.1 (2007): 95-99 (Abstract).

Returns to Italy of an Italian-American's collection of Medieval and later material from the Mezzogiorno (link).

The Carabinieri busted a wineshop in Ardea and turned up 500 pieces, including a 3rd c. BCE urn, a marble statue of a "Persian" Artemis, and Archaic Latial votive material (link).

Via David Meadows at RogueClassicism, I note that the conference entitled "Moisa Epichorios: Regional Music and Musical Regions" (Ravenna 1-3 October 2009) had a session on "Ancient Italy: Magna Grecia and Etruria":
Antonella Provenza (Palermo) – The paean and Apollo’s cult in Magna Graecia: music therapy among the Early Pythagoreans
Marina F.A. Martelli (Milan) – L’italica armonia di Senocrate di Locri
Carolyn Bowyer (London) – Etruscan trumpets


Emiliano Li Castro (Viterbo) – Il cuore nascosto di Diòniso
Angela Bellia (Palermo) – Mito, musica e rito nelle raffigurazioni dei pinakes del Persephoneion di Locri Epizefirii (VI – V sec. a.C.)
Anna Di Giglio (Foggia) – Strumenti a percussione nel mondo greco e magno greco: testimonianze letterarie e iconografiche
Giancarlo Germanà (Syracuse) – Gli dèi, gli uomini e la musica: analisi di un tema iconografico nelle importazioni attiche a Gela tra il VI ed il V secolo a.C.

Also from RogueClassicism, I note that the conference "OIKOS FAMILIA The Family in Antiquity: Framing the discipline in the 21st Century" (Gothenburg, 5-7 November 2009) will have a session on "Etruscan and Pre-Roman Family":
Key note addres: Marjatta Neilsen: Etruscan familes – the dead and the living
Jenny Högström Berntson: Women, Children and Votives in Magna Graecia
Elisa Perego: Iron Age and early Roman Veneto
Rafael Scopacasa: Familial Segregation and Communal Drinking in Ancient Appenine Italy

Umbrian Roundup

Todi in context

The XXVII Convegno di Studi Etruschi ed Italici will run from October 27 to 31 in Perugia, Gubbio, and Urbino, on the topic 'Gli Umbri in età preromana'. More information, and the program (pdf).

Back in the beginning of September, in Perugia, a Roman kiln for roof-tiles was discovered. (link)

News from the Soprintendenza for Umbria:
- 2nd century CE Roman tombs discovered at Gubbio (link).
- The Museo Archeologico in Orvieto is revamping its exhibits to display little-known and unpublished material from the Crocifisso del Tufo necropolis, and by the end of autumn will have an area devoted to research on the Campo della Fiera (link).
- In Perugia, the exhibit "Mira et Magica," which focuses on ancient inscribed gems, runs from September 25 to December 31, 2009 (link).
- In Spoleto, the Archaeological Museum has opened a second new gallery, "Dal Municipio all'età Imperiale" (link).
- The Museo Civico in Todi has opened a new display of local stone artifacts dating from antiquity to the present day, including a sundial and an Augustan altar (link).

Sunday, September 13, 2009

September 13, 2009

(I'm more or less settled in here at Michigan; now that I've got enough work to need distracting from, blogging will continue...)

From a journal you might not follow (I don't): Mangone et al., "Technological features of 'gnathia' pottery." X-Ray Spectrometry 38.5 (2009), 386-393 [abstract].

The Università degli Studi di Lecce has digitized Studi di Antichità and four monographs published by the Dipartimento di Beni Culturali dell'Università di Lecce - Settore Storico-Archeologico, available here (once you've clicked on the number you want, you have to click on "Contents..." in the left-hand column). Also possibly of interest: Gli Album del Centro di Studi Papirologici, Papyrologica Lupiensia and Kronos; you can see the full list of scanned journals and monographs here (don't miss the E-Prints down at the bottom of the page).

We are looking forward to Michael Weiss' forthcoming (2009) books Language and Ritual in Sabellic Italy (Leiden: Brill) and Outline of the Historical and Comparative Grammar of Latin (Ann Arbor: Beech Stave). His 2009 article "Umbrian erus" is available as a pdf on his website (above).

As for books that have already come out: Josh Katz (favorably) reviews Rex Wallace, The Sabellic languages of ancient Italy (2007) in Language 85.2 (June 2009), 490-492. Katz writes, "W rightly reminds us that the corpora of ‘dead languages’ are not always closed. It is exciting when a new inscription turns up..."

...and there are, apparently, a few new inscriptions, published by Adolfo Zavaroni and Giancarlo Sani, "Iscrizioni nord-umbre del bellum sociale nella Valle di Ospitale: prime indicazioni." Klio 91.1 (June 2009), 69-103. I think I will have more to say about this article and these inscriptions, but for now I'll simply copy the summary since it doesn't appear to be publicly available:
In two sites of the Valle di Ospitale (Modena province, near the border between Aemilia and Etruria) many inscriptions written on rocks during the bellum sociale (90–89 B. C.) by rebels against Rome have recently come to light. The rebels define themselves as Umbrians, but their dialect has several particularities which drive us to distinguish it from the Umbrian of the Iguvinian Tables. The alphabet contains some special letters, but it is above all the frequent use of ligatures that characterizes these inscriptions and makes their reading often difficult. Most of them contain exhortations to revolt against Rome and form an Umbrian League. A few writings have an erotic content; others are illuminating on the main gods worshipped by the rebels. Here we present a selection of the inscriptions whose reading is more easy.

(The leppard in the picture above is found on Gnathia-style cup from Rudiae, now in the Museo Archeologico Provinciale 'S. Castromediano' in Lecce. )

Conference: Beyond Magna Graecia

Beyond Magna Graecia:
New Developments in South Italian Archaeology

The Contexts of Apulian and Lucanian Pottery

November 12-14, 2009,
University of Cincinnati
A Semple Symposium

(Or, "Apulian Red Figure: more than just a pretty vase"...?)

Free and open to the public. More info at the UC site

Saturday, August 01, 2009

From the MiBAC Newsletter of 31 July 2009

Interesting things as always in the weekly update from the (still monstrously-named) Ministero per i Beni e le Attivita' Culturale (you can sign-up here; back-issues here, though not up-to-date):

The waves of the Mediterranean exposed the grave of a 'warrior' of the 3rd millennium BCE, ten meters from the shore, within the military zone at Torre Astura in Lazio. The contents of the grave, which find their comparanda in the Gaudo facies of the Italian Copper Age, include six ceramic vessels, a flint arrowhead, two flint dagger blades, and one human skeleton. The photo caption claims that he was killed by an arrow in the side, but I find no mention of this elsewhere. The press release, with excellent photos, is here; see the "Scheda tecnica, dettaglio" (.doc) for more technical details.

The first phase of restoration of the Herculaneum boat is complete, allowing for public viewing (Saturday and Sunday, 10:00-12:30 and 14:00-17:00, at no additional cost). The press release, again with photos, is here.

There's a new exhibition called Santuario di Ercole Vincitore. Il cantiere, lo scavo, le meraviglie ("Sanctuary of Hercules Victor. The site, the excavation, the wonders") at the sanctuary of that name in Tivoli. It will run from October of 2009 until February 2010, open every Saturday except December 26 from 10:30 - 13:00, free of charge. Info here.

La Religiosità nella locride tra passato e presente ("Religiosity in the Locride between past and present") is the title of a new exhibition in the Palazzo Nieddu in Locri. The exhibit, which covers the 4th century BCE to the 20th century CE, runs from July 31 to August 30, 2009.


Spending a few days taking it slow in sweltering Rome... the Museo Nazionale Romano in the Palazzo Massimo just gets better every time I go back. The substantial remains of the "Scopri il Massimo" exhibit (18 December 2008 - 7 June 2009) are worth a look -- the paintings from the Columbarium in the Villa Pamphilj are wonderful (including the fisherman above).

First time I've seen the Warrior of Lanuvium's belt on display in the Baths of Diocletian (though it could have been out for years for all I know):

The Etruscan museum at the Villa Giulia is due to (re)open about a dozen galleries this fall [I happened to read this in a newspaper and failed to note the details].

In other news: Confiscation of smuggled antiquities in Calabria. [ANSA]

Friday, July 24, 2009

Update from Lecce (with pictures of Arpino)

"Cyclopean" Gate, Civitavecchia, Arpino

The hotel here in Lecce has free internet in the room, so here's a bit of an update. Having wrapped up work at Mt. Lykaion (site & blog) and spent a delightful but all-too-brief time in Athens, I made my way to Rome on the 17th of July. Since then a whirlwind of visits to Gabii, Arpino (see above and below), Paestum, Potenza, Matera, and now Lecce. Many more pictures will follow, as will discussion. For now, just these.

The medieval tower in Civitavecchia, Arpino.

The big news of the day has to do with Silvio Berlusconi and his recent scandals. Beyond the sex tapes, one recording has a man alleged to be Mr. Berlusconi talking about 30 Phoenician tombs found on the grounds of his private villa in Sardinia. The tombs have not been reported to the Ministry of Culture, as required by Italian law; this could bring a penalty of a year in jail...
(BBC; Guardian; L'Espresso: audio, transcription, and discussion). ...and I see David Meadows has fuller discussion at Rogueclassicism (of course).

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Greetings from Athens

Apologies, dear readers (all four of you), for the lack of recent updates; preparations for summer field work and moving out of Philly have consumed my time. Posting will continue to be sporadic, but I'll try to provide at least minor updates on the work at Mt. Lykaion, starting June 1. I'm also planning an Italian excursion a bit later in the summer -- watch this space.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

April 22, 2009

The British School at Rome has elected a new director to succeed Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, in the person of Christopher J. Smith. Professor Smith, currently Vice-Principal of the University of St Andrews, is the author of Early Rome and Latium: Economy and Society c. 1000 to 500 BC (1996) and The Roman Clan: The Gens from Ancient Ideology to Modern Anthropology (2006) as well as numerous articles on the development of early Rome. One of his current projects is A Very Short Introduction to the Etruscans [More info at BSR (.doc), St. Andrews].

Italy has drawn up a list of cultural monuments damaged by the Abruzzo earthquake whose restoration is up for 'adoption' by foreign governments. Among those monuments is the 16th century Forte Spagnolo, home to the National Museum of Abruzzo, where rescue workers recently discovered the skeleton of a prehistoric elephant still intact after the quake. [ANSA; bis]

PastHorizons gives notice of the Vultur Project, which "will focus upon the Lucanian Frontier as a sphere of pre-Roman cultural interaction and Late Roman stability."

T. Eckhart reviews B. Cunliffe, Europe Between the Oceans. Themes and Variations: 9000 BC to AD 1000 at BMCR.

Coverage of the city of Rome's purported 2762nd birthday at EternallyCool.

David Gill reports on the return of 14 objects to Italy by the Cleveland Museum of Art today as well as ancient bronzes passing through North America.

The BBC reports on a University of Sheffield DNA study to determine if Bronze Age copper mining in Wales involved a migration from the Mediterranean. [More info at Dienekes' Anthropology Blog]

Bill Caraher reflects on two years of archaeological blogging.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

19 April 2009

A series of caves beneath L'Aquila were revealed by the deadly Abruzzo earthquake, some of which may have been used by prehistoric humans [Via Explorator; Adnkronos; Libero-news.it (bis)]

EternallyCool reports on chariot races in honor of Rome's upcoming birthday.

The collection of Pompeian frescoes will reopen in the Naples Museum on April 29, after a decade of being closed. (No word on when they'll be open next once the 29th has passed...)

A Franco Valente philippic on the destruction of (possibly Roman) stone terraces near Venafro in Molise.

An Italian study of 3000 middle- and high-school students in England, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain finds that Italian students show the least interest in museums and monuments while Spanish students show the most.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Another brick in the lodge - 18 April 2009

The Museo Archeologico Provinciale 'F. Ribezzo' (MAPRI) in Brindisi will reopen April 19 after two years of reorganization. Among the museum's collections are the bronzes recovered from a shipwreck off the Punta del Serrone, including a portrait of L. Aemilius Paulus [Archeologia Subacquea; Salentonline.it].

The archaeological site of Faragola in the Foggia province of Puglia will be inaugurated and opened to the public on April 24. The site, discovered in 2003, is best known for its sumptuous Late Antique villa, but shows evidence of occupation from the 6th c. BCE to the 8th c. CE [Via Viveur; more info in English and Italian, with much of the relevant bibliography available as pdfs].

The rock engravings from Valcamonica, in the Brescia province of Lombardy, are the subject of a new exhibition, 'La Valle Delle Incisioni,' which celebrates the centenary of their discovery in 1909 and the 30-year anniversary of their inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The exhibit, at the Palazzo Martinengo in Brescia, runs until May 10.

Brief piece on archaeological solidarity in the Abruzzo [ANSA].
Foreign funding for the restoration of cultural monuments in the Abruzzo [ANSA -- scroll down to the bottom].

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Weekly Bricolage: April 15, 2009

David Meadows skims the cream From the Italian Press at rogueclassicism.

The remains of the 7th c. BCE necropolis at Chiavari in Liguria, currently housed in Cicagna, could be moved to an exhibition space close to the location of the original excavation by this summer [Teleradiopace.tv; Google Maps]. It's not only the artifacts that are on display, but also, it seems the necropolis itself.

The Museo Bardini in Florence has reopened after a decade of restorations. Its collections run from antiquity up to the 18th century, with an emphasis on the Medieval and Renaissance.

The Palazzo Altemps in Rome is opening four new rooms for its Egyptian collection.

Clifford Ando reviews Edward Bispham, From Asculum to Actium. The Municipalization of Italy from the Social War to Augustus (2007) at BMCR; I note that "Bispham traces in relief the existence and history of the wide swaths of Italy that long remained unmunicipalized," though necessarily cursorily.

If your Italian interests run to the post-Antique, I note the recent publication (March 2009) of Paul Oldfield's City and Community in Norman Italy by Cambridge University Press. If you need to brush up on the intervening centuries, you might try C. Salvatore's Storia dell'Italia bizantina (VI-XI secolo). Da Giustiniano ai Normanni (2008).

When on Google Earth 18 is up at Scott McDonough's An Intermittent Waste of Time.

I can't let the recent earthquake in the Abruzzo pass without some words: a notice at Archeorivista. At The Guardian. The Italian Red Cross with the option of making a donation toward earthquake relief. MiBAC with information for donating to cultural heritage relief.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

RAC and roll all night

Off to RAC and TRAC in lovely Ann Arbor for the weekend...

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Picking pebbles out of a drain

(n.b. one word NSFW)

I've posted a video of Will Sheff of the band Okkervil River performing "A Stone" live in Milwaukee. This is a bit beyond our usual purview here at Tria Corda, but there's archaeological imagery throughout the lyrics—unintentional I'm sure—plus I happen to like the song.
"You love white veins, you love hard grey, the heaviest weight, the clumsiest shape, the earthiest smell, the hollowest tone..."
I originally heard "hard grey" as "hard grain," which would have made the description of the stone a bit more scientific; for some reason I imagined the stele of Hammurabi, though its hard-grained, heavy, clumsily-shaped diorite doesn't have white veins in evidence. Nor have I detected any particularly earthy smell about it; if anyone's ever given it a ding, could you let me know how it sounds?
"You love a stone, because it's smooth and it's cold. And you'd love most to be told that it's all your own."
As long as there is a demand for antiquities, looting will continue.
"You're out singing songs, and I'm down shouting names at the flickerless screen..."
Sounds like somebody got stuck doing the GIS work while everybody else nipped off for a drink...
"And I think I believe that, if stones could dream, they'd dream of being laid side-by-side, piece-by-piece, and turned into a castle for some towering queen they're unable to know."
I particularly dig this part: the agency, intentionality of objects; taking their meaning from being grouped into "castle," anyone?

I've posted the lyrics below, because the band's site is in Flash and doesn't allow for direct linking to particular bits...

Hot breath, rough skin, warm laughs and smiling, the loveliest words whispered and meant - you like all these things. But, though you like all these things, you love a stone. You love a stone, because it's smooth and it's cold. And you'd love most to be told that it's all your own. You love white veins, you love hard grey, the heaviest weight, the clumsiest shape, the earthiest smell, the hollowest tone - you love a stone. And I'm found too fast, called too fond of flames, and then I'm phoning my friends, and then I'm shouldering the blame, while you're picking pebbles out of the drain, miles ago. You're out singing songs, and I'm down shouting names at the flickerless screen, going fucking insane. Am I losing my cool, overstating my case? Well, baby, what can I say? You know I never claimed that I was a stone. And you love a stone. You love white veins, you love hard grey, the heaviest weight, the clumsiest shape, the earthiest smell, the hollowest tone - you love a stone. You love a stone, because it's dark, and it's old, and if it could start being alive you'd stop living alone. And I think I believe that, if stones could dream, they'd dream of being laid side-by-side, piece-by-piece, and turned into a castle for some towering queen they're unable to know. And when that queen's daughter came of age, I think she'd be lovely and stubborn and brave, and suitors would journey from kingdoms away to make themselves known. And I think that I know the bitter dismay of a lover who brought fresh bouquets every day when she turned him away to remember some knave who once gave just one rose, one day, years ago.

We now return to our irregularly-scheduled programming...

Monday, March 30, 2009

Snippets for March 30

MiBAC announces the launch of "Cultura Italia," a web portal for Italy's cultural heritage, which looks like it would bear some exploring (available in Italian or English).

Construction on the Museo Nazionale Archeologico di Adria has been completed after seven years; the new Roman section opened on March 28 (IGN/Adnkronos; museum pages).

Stephen Chrisomalis blogs about deciding whether or not to go to grad school in anthropology over at Glossographia... which leads me to a personal aside: I'll be starting work on a PhD in the Interdepartmental Program in Classical Art and Archaeology (IPCAA) at the University of Michigan this fall.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

In the journals...

This is in no way an exhaustive list, but I note some articles relevant to pre-, very pre-, or not-so- pre-Roman Italy in recent periodicals...

C. Bottari et al., "Archaeological evidence for destructive earthquakes in Sicily between 400 B.C. and A.D. 600," Geoarchaeology 24.2 (2009): 147-175.

V. Compare et al., "Three-dimensional Resistivity Probability Tomography at the Prehistoric Site of Grotta Reali (Molise, Italy)," Archaeological Prospection 16 (2009): 53–63.

M. Mariotti Lippi et al., "Comparing seeds/fruits and pollen from a Middle Bronze Age pit in Florence (Italy)," Journal of Archaeological Science 36.5 (May 2009): 1135-1141.

M. Pluciennik, review of M. Fitzjohn (ed.). Uplands of ancient Sicily and Calabria: the archaeology of landscape revisited (Accordia Specialist Studies on Italy Volume 13). (2007), Antiquity 83 (2009): 233–234.

L.V. Rutgers et al., "Stable isotope data from the early Christian catacombs of ancient Rome: new insights into the dietary habits of Rome's early Christians," Journal of Archaeological Science 36.5 (May 2009): 1127-1134.

J.M. Thorn, "The invention of ‘Tarentine’ red-figure," Antiquity 83 (2009): 174–183 (cf. T.H. Carpenter, "Prolegomenon to the Study of Apulian Red-Figure Pottery," AJA 113.1 (2009): 39-56, already commented on here at Tria Corda).

M. Tröster, "Roman Hegemony and Non-State Violence: A Fresh Look at Pompey's Campaign against the Pirates," Greece and Rome 56 (2009): 14-33.

Reviews in The Classical Review 59.1, (April 2009):

- Shane Hawkins reviews Adams, The Regional Diversification of Latin 200 BC–AD 600 (106-109)
- amicus noster Angelo O. Mercado reviews De Melo, The Early Latin Verb System. Archaic Forms in Plautus, Terence, and Beyond (109-111)
-P. J. Davis reviews Rea, Legendary Rome. Myth, Monuments, and Memory on the Palatine and Capitoline (143-144)
-Karl-J. Hölkeskamp reviews Eckstein, Mediterranean Anarchy, Interstate War, and the Rise of Rome (211-214)
-Roman Roth reviews Liébert, Regards sur la truphè étrusque (214-215)
-William E. Klingshirn reviews Engels, Das römische Vorzeichenwesen (753–27 v. Chr.). Quellen, Terminologie, Kommentar, historische Entwicklung (215-218)
-Christoph Reusser reviews Mannino, Vasi attici nei contesti della Messapia (480–350 a.C.) (237-239)
-Cesare Letta reviews Criniti (ed.), ‘Veleiates’. Uomini, luoghi e memoriae dell' Appennino piacentino-parmense (253-255)
-Heather Vincent reviews Clarke, Looking at Laughter. Humor, Power, and Transgression in Roman Visual Culture, 100 B.C.–A.D. 250. (257-260)
-Michael H. Crawford, notice on Marrazzo, Romagnoli, Stazio, & Taliercio (edd.), Presenza e funzioni della moneta nelle chorai delle colonie greche dall' Iberia al Mar Nero. Atti del XII Convegno organizzato dall' Università ‘Federico II’ e dal Centro Internazionale di Studi Numismatici, Napoli, 16–17 giugno 2000 (307)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

News for March 24, 2009: the weekly bric-a-brac

The splendid-looking (anybody been?) exhibit 'Potere e Splendore. Gli antichi Piceni a Matelica,' which opened at Matelica, will be on display at Bologna's Museo Civico from 30 April to 13 September 2009. The exhibit's website is http://www.poteresplendore.it, and details on its manifestazione bolognese are here.

The Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Florence has a new partnership with the Getty, which will bring the Chimera of Arezzo (along with loans from Rome, Naples, Basel, New York, and Boston) to LA for an exhibition opening July 16. Also in the pipeline are exhibits of ancient bronzes and of Etruscan materials from the Florence collection (Artdaily; via the Cranky Professor).

The British Museum has been doing some housekeeping inside a 12th century portable altar, and found relics belonging to 39 different saints, including St. Benedict (Guardian; via Adrian Murdoch).

Greece returned to Italy two 11th c. CE tomb frescoes stolen from the Grotta delle Fornelle at Calvi (ancient Cales) in 1982 (ANSA; comments by David Gill)

Not strictly Italian, but I wouldn't be surprised if it were on its way there when it sank, and it's pretty cool besides: A Greek fisherman pulled up part of a late 2nd c. BCE bronze equestrian statue between Kos and Kalymnos off the coast of Asia Minor and turned it in (AP/New Observer):

The British Museum has been doing some housekeeping inside a 12th century portable altar, and found relics belonging to 39 different saints, including St. Benedict (Guardian; via Adrian Murdoch).

Gratuitous link of the month: "Bizarre Lobster-Sized Creature Was the Monster Predator of the Cambrian"

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

1a Rassegna del Cinema Archeologico a Trinitapoli

If you happen to be in northern Puglia over the next few months, you might stop by Trinitapoli to take in a showing of their archaeological film series... but mostly I'm posting this because I happen to like the poster!
The original poster pdf is here, and the full program with info on the films is here (also a pdf).

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sexing Up the Antiquities Market?

Over the past week or two, a certain antiquities gallery has begun sending out email updates titled "Can YOU find the antiquity?" with a link to an object for sale. The first object to be so treated was this pre-Dynastic Egyptian vessel; the photo showing it next to a pair of shapely female legs has since been removed, presumably to make way for number 2. The conceit, based on the responses provided-- e.g. "I couldn't see the antiquity and I stared at the picture for a good 10 minutes"; "This must be a joke; there is no antiquity in this picture"-- is that we are to be distracted by the other objet d'art present in the photo.

My objection is not to do with any notions of prudishness; the pictures involved are not terribly risqué. Rather, I object to promoting the sale of unprovenanced antiquities (I admit I don't know when the late William Bowmore, O.B.E., collected the piece) through association with attractive women. That's a clumsy way to put it, I know, but it'll have to do for now.

Perhaps it's something to do with the economy, I don't know. Are antiquities no longer sexy enough to sell on their own appeal? Are they slipping relative to fur coats (Carlos Picón wants one) and in need of a makeover?

Sabines and Peuceti(?)

I've been on the road visiting grad schools lately, so I'm a bit behind, but here's some non-Google Earth-related news for a change...

An exhibition titled "I Sabini popolo d'Italia, dalla storia al mito" ('The Sabines, people of Italy, from history to myth') is opening at the Vittoriano on March 20, and will run until April 26. [IGN, Exibart]

A newly-discovered 5th-1st(?) century BCE site at Castellaneta (photo above) near Taranto, Puglia, has been put under the watch of the Guardia di Finanza. The 1600 sq. m site includes both habitation and burial, and has yielded sarcophagi, tombstones, and column fragments. The Soprintendenza area manager Teresa Schojer says there's no money to conduct further excavation. [ANSA, La Repubblica]

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

When on Google Earth, No. 10

Q: What is When on Google Earth? A: It’s a game for archaeologists, or anybody else willing to have a go!

Q: How do you play it? A: Simple, you try to identify the site in the picture.

Q: Who wins? A: The first person to correctly identify the site, including its major period of occupation, wins the game.

Q: What does the winner get? A: The winner gets bragging rights and the chance to host the next When on Google Earth on his/her own blog!


1.Shawn GrahamChuck JonesTakht-i Jamshid / Persepolis terrace
Achaemenid period
2.Chuck JonesPDDChurch of Saint Simeon at Qalat Siman, Syria5th-6th c. AD
2.1.Chuck JonesPaul ZimmermanQal’at al-Bahrain
16th c. AD
3.Paul ZimmermanHeather BakerBaraqish (Yathill), YemenMinaean
4.Heather BakerJason UrMohenjo Daro
ca. 2600-1900 BC
5.Jason UrDan DiffendaleMonte Albán, Oaxaca, Mexico
1st-5th centuries CE
6.Dan DiffendaleClaire of Geevor MineSegontium, Caernarfon, Wales77ish to about 390 AD
7.Claire of Geevor MineIvan CangemiCarn Euny
ca. 500 BCE-100 CE
8.Ivan CangemiSouthie ShamMonks Mound (Cahokia), Illinois USA
fl. 1050-1200
9.Southie ShamDan DiffendaleGergovia
fl. 1st c. BCE
10.Dan Diffendale

Friday, March 06, 2009

When on Google Earth, no. 8

Q: What is When on Google Earth?
A: It’s a game for archaeologists, or anybody else willing to have a go!

Q: How do you play it?
A: Simple, you try to identify the site in the picture.

Q: Who wins?
A: The first person to correctly identify the site, including its major period of occupation, wins the game.

Q: What does the winner get?
A: The winner gets bragging rights and the chance to host the next When on Google Earth on his/her own blog!

Like so much in archaeology, this game comes to us from our methodological cousins in geology. Shawn Graham adopted their game, and modified it for our use at whenonge #1. Chuck Jones had the first correct answer, and then hosted whenonge #2. The mysterious and elusive PDD got #2 right but never claimed his prize, so Chuck struck back with whenonge #2.1. Paul Zimmerman got the correct answer to #2.1 and hosted whenonge # 3. Heather Baker got the correct answer to #3 and hosted whenonge # 4, and Jason Ur won and hosted whenonge # 5. Dan Diffendale won that, and hosted whenonge #6 . Claire at the Geevor Mine won #6 and hosted #7, which was won by Ivan Cangemi. Since Ivan is without a blog of his own, I offered to host it here at Tria Corda. Be the first to correctly identify the site above and its major period of occupation in the comments below and you can host your own!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

When on Google Earth, No. 6

Q: What is When on Google Earth?
A: It’s a game for archaeologists.

Q: How do you play it?
A: Simple, you try to identify the site in the picture.

Q: Who wins?
A: The first person to correctly identify the site, including its major period of occupation, wins the game.

Q: What does the winner get?
A: The winner gets bragging rights and the chance to host the next When on Google Earth on his/her own blog!

Like so much in archaeology, this game comes to us from our methodological cousins in geology. Shawn Graham adopted their game, and modified it for our use at whenonge #1. Chuck Jones had the first correct answer, and then hosted whenonge #2. The mysterious and elusive PDD got #2 right but dropped the ball and never claimed his prize, so Chuck struck back with whenonge #2.1. Paul Zimmerman got the correct answer to #2.1 and hosted whenonge # 3. Heather Baker got the correct answer to #3 and hosted whenonge # 4, and Jason Ur won that round. His challenge of whenonge # 5 was over at AWBG, and I won that, so here we are... be the first to correctly identify the site above and its major period of occupation in the comments below and you can host your own!

In bocca al lupo!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

From the Italian Press

A bunch of Italian news over the past few days; since we're still catching up, I'll just direct you to David Meadows' list at Rogue Classicism, "From the Italian Press."

Thursday, January 15, 2009

One Steak with Catchup

Finally made it home from that little AIA/APA shindig in Philadelphia... here's a wrap-up of what happened while we were conferring.

The Soprintendenza di Bari is digging at S. Severo near Foggia in the Apulian Tavoliere, in an area previously targeted by tombaroli. Among the finds was a 4th century BCE tomb containing a lower jawbone, a bit of an upper jawbone, and two bronze spearpoints -- the 'Daunian warrior' of the headlines. (ANSA, TeleRadioErre)

Three "Crime Beat" Stories thanks to SAFE:
  • The Palermo Carabinieri have arrested a man for attempting to sell on Ebay more than 500 artifacts looted from sites of numerous periods in Sicily. (Business Week)
  • The Italian crackdown on looting is having an effect: the value of stolen or looted objects recovered in 2008 was more than double the value of such objects recovered in 2007. But the number of illegal digs in Italy increased by 15 percent, to a total of 238. (ArtInfo) ...of course, it's hard to say whether in fact the actual number of clandestine excavations increased, or whether the Carabinieri are just getting better at finding them.
  • And, finally, the repatriations go both ways: Italy will return 3800 artifacts, mostly coins, stolen from Bulgaria and recovered in Verona (Sofia Echo). Nathan T. Elkins adds much more to the story at Numismatics and Archaeology...

I see that Past Horizons is now selling trowels from Battiferro, so you don't have to order direct from Italy anymore...

Finally, Jovanotti was King of Italy in 2008 -- at least as regards record sales. You know you love Jovanotti.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

AJA 113.1

The latest issue of the American Journal of Archaeology (113.1, 2009) is out, and it's chock full of good stuff. Three articles pertain to Italian pottery of the 5th through 1st centuries BCE. First and foremost for the purview of Tria Corda is T.H. Carpenter's "Prolegomenon to the Study of Apulian Red-Figure Pottery" (39-56; Abstract), in my opinion a must-read.

Carpenter's analysis offers a fresh alternative to the (art historical) orthodoxy represented by the work of the late A.D. Trendall, and places the vases back into their "native" context—at least as far as possible for an object class that has suffered so much from looting: "To use the term 'Hellenized' for [the Italic] people, who had been trading with the Greeks for several hundred years, is meaningless unless the specific meaning is that they were Hellenized in the same sense that mainland Greeks were orientalized in the seventh century" (p.36). Recent scholarly activity has gone far in overturning colonial ideologies both ancient and modern, e.g. in the work of Edward Herring (for a good introduction to current trends, see his "Daunians, Peucetians and Messapians? Societies and Settlements in South-East Italy," in Bradley, Isayev & Riva, (eds.), Ancient Italy: Regions without Boundaries, Exeter 2007, 268-294); that such a well-known class of artifact had escaped such treatment up to now may be a function of the eminence of Trendall in the field. Carpenter also dissociates Taranto from its traditional role as producer of or major influence on Apulian vases, especially with regard to theatrical scenes, and refutes the notion that some scenes on Apulian vases represent images from "Orphic" religion.

Elsewhere, J. Theodore Peña and Myles McCallum discuss evidence for both the pre-Roman and Roman phases of the city in "The Production and Distribution of Pottery at Pompeii: A Review of the Evidence; Part 1, Production" (57-79; Abstract). Notable is the evidence for a Black Gloss Ware pottery production facility dating before the 2nd half of the 2nd century BCE, in the Vicolo Storto Nuovo.

Roman Roth—whose dissertation, published as Styling Romanisation: Pottery and Society in Central Italy (Cambridge 2007), treated Black Gloss Ware in Volterra and Capena—discusses the social implications of the replication of specific ceramic urn shapes in stone during the 2nd century BCE in "From Clay to Stone: Monumentality and Traditionalism in Volterran Urns" (39-56; Abstract).

élène Verreyke and Frank Vermeulen report on some results of the Potenza Valley Survey Project in "Tracing Late Roman Rural Occupation in Adriatic Central Italy" (103-120; Abstract), in a region (Picenum) better known for its Iron Age inhabitants.

Nothing explicitly to do with either pottery or Italy, but Stephen V. Tracy and Constantin Papaodysseus' note on "The Study of Hands on Greek Inscriptions: The Need for a Digital Approach" (99-102; Abstract) is very exciting--it means that we can soon replace epigraphists with computers... but seriously, this technique has a lot of potential. I wonder if it could be used to compare the work of known forgers with doubtful inscriptions?

Etruria in Philadelphia, Post AIA/APA

If you're still in town the day after the Annual Meeting wraps up, or if you're just lucky enough to live in Philadelphia, be sure to check out the following lectures on Monday the 12th of January:

Alba Frascarelli: Lost History Rediscovered? The Campo della Fiera Excavations and Livy's Fanum Voltumnae

The twelve peoples of ancient Etruria were said to meet at the shrine of their most important god, the Fanum Voltumnae outside the city of Volsinii, now recognized as modern Orvieto. Only recently have excavations by the University of Macerata begun to identify this all-important site of so much history. Dr. Frascarelli, one of the excavators, will present the latest findings.

Claudio Bizzarri: American Archaeological Projects in Etruria: The Excavations at Poggio Civitelle and Monterubiaglio.

The co-director of joint US-Italian excavations in Tuscany presents the results of this year's campaigns conducted by Florida State University, the University of Oklahoma and St. Anselm College.

Monday, January 12th

Classroom 2

University of Pennsylvania Museum


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Canosa

Happy new year. Bidding has opened (and closed?—I don't pretend to know anything about how this works) for the construction of a new National Archaeological Museum (not to be confused with the existing Museo Civico) in Canosa di Puglia. The planned complex will incorporate the remains of the Baptistery of S. Giovanni with its attached basilicas of Sta. Maria and S. Salvatore (as seen in the plan). The entire project runs to the tune of 16 million euro.

[From CanosaWeb, and again]