A recent study claims that the ditch on the north side of Hadrian's Wall originally served as the foundation for a temporary wooden. British archaeologist Geoff Carter believes that the ditch was not used as a defensive barrier but instead is the remains of the wooden wall that preceded the famous stone wall. In Carter's hypothesis, the wall's milecastles were built first (of stone) with a wooden wall spanning the distances between them. After the mile castles were completed, the wooden wall served as a temporary defensive barrier while the stone wall was being constructed. It was previously believed that the ditch and corresponding post holes were part of a defensive barrier in front of the stone wall, a view that is being challenged by Carter. Hadrian's Wall was not constructed as a massive defensive barrier but as a permanent, permeable border, though it is still believed to have had considerable defensive barriers in the form of ditches in front of the wall. Only further studies will determine how Carter's theory is compatible with current views on the wall's defenses.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Posted by Primvs Pilvs at 8:39 AM
Saturday, August 8, 2009
An enormous Roman villa has recently been unearthed north of Rome in the Sabine Hills. Dating from the 1st century CE, the villa is believed to have been the country home of the Emperor Vespasian. Archaeologists at the site say the that the size and location of the villa point to Vespasian, though they admit that they have found no inscriptions or any other archaeological proof as to the owner's identity. Though this discovery is indeed special, it demonstrates a phenomenon that has been going on in classical archaeology since the birth of the field. Throughout the history of of Greek and Roman archaeology, erroneous attributions have been made to artifacts without any justification what so ever. Heinrich Schliemann and his "Mask of Agamemnon" comes to mind as an early example. Also, the countless number Roman statues attributed to famous people is astonishing. It was common practice one upon a time to dig up a bust and proclaim that it represented whoever you thought it did. Many positive identifications of Roman statues have been based on coin portraits, but that is a more recent science. You can still go to museums today and find a "Marius" or "Brutus" statue that could in reality be anyone.
Posted by Primvs Pilvs at 3:15 PM
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Several years ago I went to Madison to see In Stabiano at the Chazen Museum of Art. The exhibit showcased frescoes and artifacts from ancient Stabiae, which was destroyed in the 79 CE eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. The exhibit was a delight; gorgeous frescoes covered the walls with marble sculptures and bronze artifacts interspersed, all in Madison care of the National Archaeological Museum of Naples. There was even a recreation of a triclinium with the original wall paintings assembled in their correct order so when you entered, you actually got the feeling of being in the ancient room. I'm not aware of any attendance figures, but I can only imagine that In Stabiano was a success for the Chazen. Though seeing such artifacts was a rare treat for me living in Wisconsin, the residents of Italy can see them at their leisure. The New York Times reports (see below) that Ravenna is home to a new exhibit entitled Otium Ludens (Latin for "playful idleness") which features nearly 200 wall paintings, many of which I was fortunate enough to see at the Chazen. The exhibit looks like yet another great collection of Roman art that will be displayed around the world; the New York Times states that the exhibit will travel from Ravenna to Toronto, Melbourne, Sydney, Madrid and Valencia.
Posted by Primvs Pilvs at 5:19 AM