Rome has been in the process of expanding its subway system for years now. The process is painfully slow (from the perspective of engineers) since every time a shovel is stuck in the ground, ancient artifacts are found and archaeologists must be called in. The subway tunnels themselves are far below the oldest strata of the city, but the locations of stations require digging from the top down. One such site may yield some exciting new discoveries in the near future. Work is slated to begin on the former site of the Forum of Peace. This Imperial forum and corresponding temple was once home to the giant marble map of the ancient city known as the Forma Urbis Romae. About 10% of the map exists today, but archaeologists are hoping to find more once excavations begin. They also hope to learn more about the forum and temple which housed the map.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Posted by Primvs Pilvs at 1:32 PM
Friday, August 6, 2010
Here in Milwaukee, we are no strangers to corporate sponsorship. Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers, bears the name of, you guessed it, Miller Brewing Co. The signs are certainly big enough, so there's no doubt as to who helped finance the stadium. We've also got the U.S. Cellular Arena and the Bradley Center (named after its locally famous benefactor), where the Bucks play. I have no problem with breweries or cellphone providers plastering their names on sports complexes. Often, their capitol is needed for these buildings to be constructed in the first place, and they rightly expect a little advertising in return. Could the Colosseum soon join the ranks of corporately sponsored sports arenas?
Posted by Primvs Pilvs at 5:03 PM
Monday, July 12, 2010
Recently there have been some amazing new discoveries in and around ancient Portus. A Roman amphitheater, an imperial residence, warehouses, burials and statues are among the notable finds in the area. All of these buildings and artifacts help to increase our knowledge of Rome's port and of the Roman world itself. The latest discovery will hopefully shed light specifically on Roman trade and shipping. A massive canal, 100 yards wide, has been unearthed at Portus. The canal is remarkable for its size and also because it will help us better understand the ancient port. In antiquity, Portus was located on the coast and this giant canal was used to connect the port to the Tiber river two miles away. This connection allowed river boats to bypass the tricky mouth of the Tiber. In conjunction with the finding of the canal, archaeologists have uncovered many artifacts relating to trade, especially with North Africa. Portus seems to have many secrets still hidden and I'm looking forward to the next archaeological discovery there.
Posted by Primvs Pilvs at 11:14 AM
Monday, May 10, 2010
Should Roman coins be considered looted artifacts? The U.S. government may soon decide that issue. Laws have been in place since 2007 regulating coins from Cyprus and China, but regulations have left out coins from elsewhere, including Roman coins. The law states that people bringing certain Cypriot and Chinese coins into the U.S. must show proof of the coin's provenance. Collectors are worried that Roman coins may be next on the list, and though they have many arguments for their case, they fail to convince. It is certainly true that this issue is not black and white, but I have to take the side of archaeologists and anthropologists. The collectors argue that Roman coins circulated widely in antiquity and their provenance is impossible to determine. They also say that coin collectors are stewards of coins that museums don't want. Both valid points in my book, but there are larger issues at stake here. Including Roman coins in the current law will not end all looting, but it is a step in the right direction.
Posted by Primvs Pilvs at 6:10 AM
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
A section of Nero's Domus Aurea collapsed today leaving a gaping hole in the garden that sits above the buried structure. Luckily, the Domus Aurea was under repairs at the time and no tourists were inside, and as of the latest reports, no one was injured. Water damage is the likely cause of the collapse and the integrity of the entire structure is now in question. Damage is nothing new to Nero's palace, which was destroyed not long after it was built. Some parts of the structure were buried and those are the areas people can visit today. For decades, though, the structural integrity of the palace has been in doubt. Water damage and algae infestations have closed the site in the past, sometimes for years, and it it any one's guess how this new disaster will effect the future of the site.
Posted by Primvs Pilvs at 10:52 AM
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Aqueducts are among Ancient Rome's most famous engineering achievements. Today, many impressive ruins can be seen throughout the Roman world, including in Rome itself. In fact some Roman aqueducts are still used today, including the restored Aqua Virgo and Aqua Traiana, which feed the Trevi Fountain and Fontana dell'Acqua Paoa respectively. Famous as they are, some Roman aqueducts have also held an air of mystery. The source of one aqueduct in particular, the Aqua Traiana, has long been a secret. Lake Bracciano has fed the aqueduct since ancient times, but the Aqua Traiana's exact starting point has been unknown until now. On the shore of Lake Bracciano, a pair of amateur archaeologists have discovered underground chambers, beneath a 13th century church, which they believe is the source of the aqueduct. The chambers exhibit typicall Roman opus reticulatum masonry and vaulted ceilings. The team's findings have yet to be confirmed by professional archaeologists, but if this is the true source of the Aqua Traiana, it would be an amazing find.
Posted by Primvs Pilvs at 7:32 AM
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Italy is at it again. This time their target is the famous 'Victorious Youth,' currently located at the Getty Villa in California. The statue is exceptional in the fact that it is bronze and Greek, a very rare combination in surviving ancient art. Italy's case is this: the statue was fished out of the sea near Fano, Italy in 1964 and subsequently illegally smuggled out of the country, later to be purchased by the Getty. The Getty's version is the same, minus the 'illegally smuggled' part. I'm sure both sides have what they believe to be concrete evidence supporting their case and it's going to be difficult to determine who acted in good faith and who didn't. The Getty's track record regarding stolen antiquities is certainly tarnished, but the Italians may also be accused of trying to drain other countries of antiquities for their own political purposes.
Posted by Primvs Pilvs at 8:19 AM
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Art is meant to be seen. If you go to any art museum, you will see throngs of people examining all types of art, often contorting themselves to get the right perspective or to see certain details. I'm guilty of this; I can only image what the museum guards think of me as I twist my body and practically do handstands to get a certain exact view of some Roman statue or Greek coin. How people interact with art is a big part of my interest in ancient art. In particular, I am interested how ancient people viewed their art, why they created it and what it meant to them. Today, we view ancient artifacts in a museum setting, thinking of them as relics from a lost world. To the ancient Greeks and Romans, thought, their art was contemporary and alive, created for their every day use. How ancient people viewed their art can tell us a lot about their perspectives, but unfortunately literary evidence on such perspectives is scarce. We must instead look at the archaeological record and disseminate what information we can.
Posted by Primvs Pilvs at 10:50 AM