Sunday, 31 January 2010

More news from Il Mattino: more of Pompeii to open to visitors

It was a big news day for archaeology in Naples newspaper Il Mattino yesterday - there is also a half page article giving news from Pompeii, including the announcement that the Temple of Venus has reopened and news that the House of the Chaste Lovers will be ready to visit in February (despite recent news of the collapse?).

News article: "Torna alla luce un altro pezzo del Teatro Romano"

More news from yesterday's edition of Il Mattino - this time on the latest results from the work at the Roman Theatre in Naples. This story appears both here and here describing how more of the theatre was found in a former carpenter's workshop in the historic centre of Naples.

News article: "Villa dei Papiri: nelle nuove stanze..."

Former Pompeii superintendent, P.G. Guzzo published an article yesterday on the new works at the Villa of the Papiri in Il Mattino, entitled "Villa dei Papiri: nelle nuove stanze delle meraviglie gli affreschi per le vacanze dei Romani".

A small box insert is dedicated to the new headquarters of the Herculaneum Centre at the Villa Maiuri.

To read more, click here.

Interview with Guy de la Bedoyérè

Readers in Britain will know Guy de la Bedoyérè as a member of Channel 4's popular archaeology show Time Team, and from his many books on a wide variety of topics and periods. But Guy is also a life-long lover of Pompeii, and has just published a new and extremely useful student handbook on Pompeii, Herculaneum and Ostia. He agreed to answer some questions about it here.

Guy, how did you first get involved with Pompeii? What is it that you like about the site so much?
I first went to Pompeii in 1974 at the age of 16. I saved for weeks on a paper round and headed out for three days. I was already obsessed with the Roman world but back then travelling abroad wasn't as straightforward. What I remember most was the emptiness of the site and how one could walk freely round almost every building. I went back in 1982 and 1987 but then small children prevented much travelling and it wasn't till 2006 and Channel 5's Pompeii Live with PBS's Herculaneum Uncovered which I was invited to take part in that got me back. Since 2007 I've been teaching Pompeii, Herculaneum and Ostia to A-Level pupils and that has meant going back. I've been to Pompeii five times in the last year and I'm delighted to say I am going back at the end of May 2010.

As for what I liked about it, I think it's the completeness of an ancient environment: neighbourhoods, street corners, the evidence for the haphazard lives of real individuals. One of may favourite spots is the street of tombs outside the Herculaneum Gate, but the best moment is always walking up to the Porta Marina and knowing a day in Pompeii is ahead of you. I simply love the place and sometimes just sit for hours in one house. It's such a shame that so much has had to be closed, for reasons I entirely understand.

Can you tell us a little about the book? What is your intended audience, and what do you hope to achieve?
The purpose of the book is to provide a short introduction to themes about status and buildings in Pompeii, Herculaneum and Ostia for school and university students and I was immensely grateful to Jo Berry and Roger Ling for their support and help. It's based around OCR's Classical Civilization CC6 paper 'Cities of Roman Italy' but should be of use to many other courses. There's so much available on Pompeii of course, but the other two cities are much harder to get started with at student level so I have tried to draw these themes together across all three. I've tried to look at how status worked in the provincial Roman town from the politics to trade, and all those extraordinary freedmen and their wives, and linked these to how status was expressed in public buildings, temples, homes, and tombs. The book is supported with a website and also with my channel on Youtube at KSHSClassCiv which carries walk-around films of a number of the buildings at all three sites: I have had contact from students all round the world who use that.

How do you think that Classics teaching, and teaching of Pompeii and other Roman cities more specifically, can be improved in schools?
Happily Classics in all its forms is increasing in popularity. One way to improve it is to broaden it out. I now teach Imperial Roman History from 44BC-AD69 for our A-Level History coursework - this brings the ancient world into the broader History curriculum and helps develop themes of power and authority which students study in their other papers in medieval and early modern contexts. It has proved very popular - who after all can really resist the glamour of Rome? I'd like so see more basic Latin taught too - it pays so many dividends in other subjects with vocabulary.

You've been involved with 'TV Archaeology' as part of Time Team for many years. Do you have any thoughts about the relationship between archaeology and the media?
TV archaeology has really helped awareness of the subject though like anything in a media context it makes huge compromises. Time Team involves a lot of research and post-excavation work that doesn't get shown, so it is rather simplified. But it taps into a really instinctive fascination most people have with who we are and where we came from. Time Team films are excellent ways to show the processes of archaeology and I make regular use of them in lessons. Now that Time Team America has come into being, using a totally different line-up of people, there is the potential for this to become more widely appreciated.

Cities of Roman Italy: Pompeii, Herculaneum and Ostia is now in shops in Britain and on, and can be advance-ordered in the US.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Documentary: Herculaneum Uncovered

The documentary Herculaneum Uncovered is available to watch online - it seems to have been there for some time, but we've only just noticed!

This episode is one of a series called Secrets of the Dead, and is described:
Near the fabled Pompeii is Herculaneum, another city buried and frozen in time by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Herculaneum Uncovered follows geo-archaeologists as they unearth precious artifacts that reveal what life was like before the eruption, and how the volcano devastated the town in a very different manner to Pompeii.

While the aerial views are particularly worth watching for, do take some of what the narrator says with a pinch of salt though, as usual TV is not always accurate. My favourite part is where the eighteenth-century Bourbon excavators are called "ancient tomb raiders"!

Book: Rileggere Pompei II. L'Insula 13 della Regio VI

Posted on behalf of Lara Anniboletti:

E' uscito un volume da parte di una delle unità di ricerca afferenti al progetto Pompei Regio VI (coord. prof. F. Coarelli):

Rileggere Pompei II. L'Insula 13 della Regio VI.
A cura di Verzar-Bass Monika e Oriolo Flaviana
Anno di pubblicazione: 2010
Collana/Rivista: Studi della Soprintendenza Archeologica di Pompei, 30
ISBN: 978-88-8265-528-0
Prezzo: € 330,00

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Incontri dell'Associazione Internazionale di Archeologia Classica

[English summary: The International Associazione for Classical Archaeology (AIAC) holds regular events where young scholars present their work in Rome. The next presentations will be held on 1 Feb 2010.]

L’associazione AIAC, fondata nel 1945, ha lo scopo di costituire un centro di vera e pratica collaborazione internazionale per tutti gli studiosi di archeologia classica. Tra le sue attività ricordiamo l’organizzazione di un convegno quinquennale di Archeologia Classica, la gestione di un sito web che include l’utilissima agenda archeologica, la pubblicazione di AIACNews e la recente creazione di una versione on line dei Fasti Archeologici (, non più pubblicati in forma cartacea.

Dal 2000, inoltre, si organizzano a Roma incontri mensili nei vari Istituti nazionali di archeologia per permettere a giovani studiosi (dottorandi, borsisti ecc.), che stanno svolgendo una ricerca in Italia, di presentare il loro lavoro e di incontrarsi. Le conferenze vengono preferibilmente effettuate in italiano, ma anche le altre lingue sono accettate.

Lunedì 1 Febbraio 2010, ore 17.00

Comunicare il passato con ricostruzioni, immagini e simboli

(moderatrice: Alexandra W. Busch – Istituto Archeologico Germanico)

Istituto Archeologico Germanico

Via Curtatone, 4D

- Elizabeth De Gaetano (British School at Rome / University of Southampton), Virtual reconstruction of Roman Pozzuoli.

- Juan Pedro Bellón, Carmen Rueda e Ana Herranz (Escuela Española de Historia y Arqueología en Roma-CSIC), La Seconda Guerra Punica nell'Alto Guadalquivir: la battaglia di Baecula.

- Sébastien Aubry (Istituto Svizzero di Roma), Le iscrizioni sulle pietre incise antiche (glittica) come elemento di ricalibrazione cronologica. L’esempio di una corniola del Mann (inv. n. 26407/568).

Piazza San Marco, 49
00186 Roma
Tel. (39-6) 6798798
Contatti :

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

ArcheoGuida comments

In case anyone should read ArcheoGuida, I want to make it clear that comments made about the collapse in the House of the Chaste Lovers by someone calling themselves 'Berry' are NOT by me! The only site I post on is Blogging Pompeii. I never comment, and have never commented, on sites like these. I certainly would never make the kinds of accusations made by this person, nor could I write them in such faultless Italian!

Chaste Lovers again

This is a political mess! Another report this morning, from La Repubblica, has conflicting details. Luisa Bossa, deputy of the Pdl political party (yep, there are elections soon ...) supports the story that has already been made public: 'Da fonti riservate ho saputo che il crollo sarebbe stato causato da lavori frettolosi alla Casa dei casti amanti, ordinati dal commissario Fiori in vista dell´imminente visita del premier. La gru utilizzata per i lavori sarebbe stata posizionata male, su una superficie non idonea: un terreno friabile che sotto la pioggia, ha ceduto facendo crollare trenta metri di muro antico in prossimità di via dell´Abbondanza, causando danni gravi a resti archeologici ed affreschi.'.

There is a bit more sense from Antonio Varone (who should know, since this is his excavation), who claims that the damage was not extensive: 'Nei giorni scorsi c´è stato un piccolo smottamento che non ha causato danni significativi: è franato un terreno nell´insula adiacente a quella della Casa, con il crollo di una parte di muro perimetrale. Siamo intervenuti subito, grazie all´operatività del cantiere.'

Yet Fiori seems to be denying that anything happened at all. And yesterday he announced that from February visitors to the excavators will be able to watch work in the House of the Chaste Lovers, by means of an open 'cantiere' (site) and a system of telecameras. Here is the press release, from
'Nuove meraviglie affiorano dalla Casa dei Casti Amanti di Pompei, e grazie ad un cantiere di scavo 'trasparente'. Gia' da febbraio i visitatori degli scavi potranno assistere 'in diretta' al lavoro degli archeologi e dei restauratori. Lo annuncia il commissario straordinario Marcello Fiori. 'E' un cantiere al quale teniamo molto - dichiara - L'offerta di Pompei si arricchisce ancora e grazie a questo cantiere a porte aperte proporremo al pubblico una visita diversa'.'

Perhaps we're back to staging excavations again ... (some of you will know what I'm talking about!). Anyway, the whole incident is bizarre, and - to my mind - the most disturbing thing is that efforts were made to keep it quiet.

Monday, 25 January 2010

More on the collapse in the House of the Chaste Lovers

More information is emerging today about the collapse of a crane into the excavations around the House of the Chaste Lovers. According to the Corriere del Mezzogiorno, the crane was badly positioned and was undermined by heavy rain. Apparently, it was being used in works in the House of the Chaste Lovers ordered by the commissario, Marcello Fiori, in hasty preparation for an imminent visit by Berlusconi. It has also been suggested that this terrible event occurred on the 15th January - not the 18th as previously recorded - and had been hushed up.

Visite al Santuario della Madonna di Pugliano e al ipogeo sotterraneo

For those who don't read Italian: Idraincoming is offering three visits to the underground cemetery below the Sanctuary of the Madonna di Pugliano in Ercolano (modern town above Herculaneum).

Con il mese di Febbraio, parte una nuova attività della Idraincoming, legata alla cultura del territorio vesuviano e patrocinata moralmente dal Comune di Ercolano. Un affascinante viaggio alla scoperta del Santuario della Madonna di Pugliano e al suggestivo ipogeo sotterraneo dell'arciconfraternita della SS Trinità.
Il Santuario e la cultura popolare verranno narrati dal ricercatore Giovanni D'Angelo, che attraverso i simboli più misteriosi come il Cristo nero e la Statua lignea della Bruna Puglianella, ricostruirà la storia e la cultura religiosa popolare del Santaurio e dei fedeli di Resina dei secoli passati, attraverso il mistero, l'esoterismo e le tradizioni pagane che circonadavano il culto.
L'itinerario proseguirà alla scoperta dell'Ipogeno del 700, dove attraverso una suggestiva e tenebrosa discesa, si riscoprirà la tradizione del culto dei morti (ancora attualmente praticato nell'ipogeo ogni mercoledì) e le storie legate al cimitero sotterraneo.
Oltre alla narrazione della nostra guida speciale, gli attori cantanti del Laboratorio Voci e suoni della memoria, interpreteranno dei brani e dei racconti, permettendo così di rivivere le emozioni legate all'itinerario.

Date: 6 , 27 febbario, 6 marzo
Ora: 10:30
Appuntamento: difronte al Santaurio della Madonna di Pugliano in Ercolano
Quota a persona: € 15,00
Durata: 1h e 30

Info e prenotazioni (l'itineraio parte con un minimo di 10 partecipanti e può arrivare a un massimo di 30)


Presentation: BSR library and archive digital collections

The Library and Archive of the British School at Rome invite you to a special event to present the new website: British School at Rome Library and Archive Digital Collections

28 January 2010 at 18,00 in the BSR lecture theatre.
On this occasion there will also be a cut-price book sale:
- duplicates of books, opuscula, journals, IGM maps
- BSR publications
- the Papers of the British School at Roem
followed by an aperitivo

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Collapse in the House of the Chaste Lovers

Shocking news today that the counterweight (I think) of a crane has fallen on the excavations that comprise the House of the Chaste Lovers, causing the collapse of 30 metres of fresco-bearing walls. The circumstances are shrouded in mystery, apparently.

Here is the full report, from

Pompei, crolla una gru sulla Casa dei Casti Amanti

Costerà diverse centinaia di migliaia di euro, forse più di un milione, il crollo negli scavi di Pompei avvenuto durante i lavori ordinati da Marcello Fiore, commissario straordinario di quell’area archeologica: cinque giorni fa, il 18 gennaio, il peso di una gru avrebbe causato un crollo a catena di 30 metri di muro e di altri 20 metri sottostanti, comprese pareti con affreschi, né sono da escludersi danni anche alla «Casa dei casti amanti». Tuttavia l’incidente è circondato da un fitto alone di mistero e di segreto che sta facendo sorgere seri dubbi sulle responsabilità dell’accaduto. La denuncia non a caso parte da Italia Nostra, ma trova riscontri tra i lavoratori del sito pompeiano che confermano l’accaduto ma chiedono di mantenere l’anonimato poiché gli è stato intimato di tacere sui fatti.

I CASTI AMANTI L’area interessata all’incidente, che non ha causato vittime o ferimenti, è quella di via dell’Abbondanza dove sono collocate la casa di Giulio Polibio e soprattutto quella dei «casti amanti»: in particolare su questa ultima domus si erano concentrati i lavori, al fine di renderla fruibile al pubblico anche a scavi non ultimati. Un progetto simile era stato creato alla fine degli anni 90, ma poi era stato accantonato per motivi di fattibilità. L’idea è stata però ripresa nell’ambito dei lavori straordinari per la valorizzazione del luogo avviati da Fiore in qualità di commissario straordinario, carica che detiene dal febbraio 2009. Lavori condotti, secondo i dipendenti del Ministero dislocati sul luogo, «in tutta fretta e senza andare troppo per il sottile», e soprattutto con grande «disinvoltura nell’uso di mezzi meccanici (come gru e scavatori, ndr.) che in un’area archeologica dovrebbero essere usati con grande cautela».

C’è chi non manca di sottolineare come la passerella che si stava approntando sarebbe servita a dare visibilità alla annunciata visita di Silvio Berlusconi a Pompei. Così, l’inaugurazione anche solo parziale della «Casa dei casti amanti» sarebbe andata a maggior gloria del governo e della Protezione civile, benché gli scavi e la messa in sicurezza del luogo siano stati iniziati oltre dieci anni fa. Insorgono le associazioni per la tutela: «Il silenzio su questo incidente è grave e non mi piace affatto – sbotta Maria Pia Guermandi di Italia Nostra –, chiediamo che il Ministero faccia quanto prima un serio sopralluogo corredato da fotografie per comprendere quanto accaduto e l’entità dei danni. Oggi l’area archeologica di Napoli e Pompei è sotto la gestione di un soprintendente che si occupa della tutela (Mariarosaria Salvatore, ndr) e un commissario dedicato alla valorizzazione: a quanto si è appreso finora emerge che il dovere di tutela non sia stato esercitato a pieno».

LA TUTELA ATTIVA Fotografa lo stato delle cose Guermandi, perché se da una parte è grottesco che un crollo causato da un mezzo meccanico come una gru o una scavatrice avvenga quando c’è un commissario che arriva dalla protezione civile, quello a cui si assiste oggi in Italia è proprio lo scontro tra l’idea di tutela, meglio ancora di «tutela attiva» – cioè rendere i luoghi d’arte e d’interesse culturale fruibili nel massimo rispetto del patrimonio – e quella di valorizzazione a tutti i costi. Per questa «valorizzazione» fatta di eventi, meglio se mediatici e a maggior gloria del politico di turno, lo strumento usato dal governo appare essere la protezione civile, a cui attraverso vari commissariamenti sono stati affidati alcuni dei luoghi di maggior interesse artistico e culturale della penisola, oltre l’area archeologica di Napoli e Pompei quella di Roma e Ostia, gli Uffizi di Firenze, la pinacoteca di Brera e così via.

Per questo tipo di operazioni Fiori avrebbe le carte in regola: portato alla ribalta da Francesco Rutelli che lo volle suo vicesindaco, divenuto rappresentante del governo nell’Evento giubileo del 2000 – successivamente coordinatore delle esequie di Giovanni Paolo II (costo per lo stato italiano di 4 milioni di euro) – di lì nel 2001 è passato alla Protezione civile di Bertolaso, dove s’è dato un gran daffare nella realizzazione dell’inceneritore di Acerra – compare anche nell’inchiesta documentario «Una montagna di balle» che racconta quella vicenda – e per il G8 de l’Aquila.

Da quando è arrivato a Pompei s’è occupato di mettere qualche fontanella nell’area degli scavi, di lanciare una campagna per l’adozione di cani randagi (periziabile sul sito e poi di occuparsi di questi lavori la cui durata dovrebbe essere di pochi mesi al costo di 33 milioni di euro. Il crollo del 18 gennaio gli ha rovinato il suo cinquantesimo compleanno, avvenuto appena due giorni prima. Niente paura: nel futuro rimpasto di governo di cui si parla in questi giorni sarebbe pronto per lui un posto in un ministero a Roma.

North Slope of Vesuvius

I've recently edited a book on the NORTH slope of Vesuvius:
Apolline Project vol. 1. Studies on Vesuvius' North Slope and the Bay of Naples

You can read it for free on Google Books:
or buy it:

I hope you'll enjoy it, if you want to know more about the excavations in Pollena Trocchia and Somma Vesuviana, please ask and I'll be glad to send more notes, articles, and pictures.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Pompeii Artifacts head to Philadelphia

Found a post in the Philadelphia enquirer about an upcoming exhibition.

Constitution Center to present Roman exhibit
By Stephan Salisbury

Inquirer Culture Writer

The ancient Rome of gladiators and senators, conquering armies and slaves, togas and helmets will be the focus of the next exhibition at the National Constitution Center.
"Ancient Rome & America," which will run Feb. 19 through Aug. 1, will consist of more than 300 artifacts and artworks from lending institutions in Florence, Rome, Naples, and 40 U.S. institutions, said David Eisner, the center's new president.

The center is curating it with Contemporanea Progetti of Florence and the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities in Rome.

The exhibit, which will be shown only in Philadelphia, may mark a shift in the way the Constitution Center mounts exhibitions, Eisner said at a news conference yesterday.

Up to now, the special exhibitions were produced largely by others and were often part of a tour. "Ancient Rome" and the next exhibit in the fall (the subject of which Eisner declined to disclose) will serve as progenitors of what is hoped to be a new era of in-house curatorial creations.

In the long run, Eisner said, "this business model will require us to recoup the cost of exhibitions through sponsorships and other kinds of partnerships."

"Ancient Rome," which Eisner said cost less than $1 million thanks to the largesse and goodwill of lenders, will focus on the parallels and portents embodied by the Roman Republic, the empire, and the Roman decline and fall.

Roman orators and ideas had a profound effect on Washington, Adams, Madison, Jefferson, and their comrades. Artists liked to depict the founders in Roman dress - togas were a favorite - and the founders modeled their oratory on the work of Cicero, the literary stylist and statesman who lived in the first century B.C.

At the news conference at the center, at Sixth and Arch Streets, William Rush's 1817 marble bust of Washington in a greatcoat and draped with a toga was unveiled to demonstrate the exhibition's themes and quality. The bust is on loan from the American Revolution Center.

A wide array of art and artifacts will explore possible parallels between American and Roman culture. Two eagles, one depicting the American symbol of state carved in 1804, the other a bronze Roman rendering probably broken off a military standard, will be shown side by side.

The football helmet of 1970s Eagles great Harold Carmichael will be shown next to a gladiator helmet and four original pieces from the gladiator barracks of a pavilion in Pompeii.

There also will be artifacts excavated from Pompeii, as well as the cast of a man who could not escape the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

Slave collars from both societies and Roman works owned and studied by those who crafted the U.S. Constitution will all be on view.

"Our goal," Eisner said, is to lead visitors "to ponder the lessons that ancient Rome can impart to America today." Project Calendar

To those of you working on projects in Campania:
I'm sure that many of you are finalising your project dates. Don't forget to add them to the calendar so that others know when you'll be on site!

Two Articles on Pompeian Epigraphy

The most recent volume of Studia Philologica Valentina (2008, vol. 11) contains two articles of interest to those working in Pompeii.

Cugusi, P. "Poesia 'uffciale' e poesia 'epigrafica' nei graffiti dei centri vesuviani. In appendice alcuni nuovi carmi epigrafici pompeiani."


Kruschwitz, P. "Patterns of text layout in Pompeian verse inscriptions."

Event: reading for Herculaneum

I recently posted news about the photographic exhibition "Racconti da Resina" which was taking a new look at the modern town that lies above Herculaneum.

This exhibition is coming to an end this weekend, and as a closing event there will be a "reading". Anyone is invited to bring poetry or prose inspired by Ercolano and everything it is and has. You're equally welcome to just come and listen...

Where: Villa Maiuri, Via IV Orologi, Ercolano
When: Saturday 23 January 2010
Time: 18.00

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Article: Dialogues of graffiti in the House of Maius Castricius in Pompeii

In the latest American Journal of Archaeology 114.1, 59 - 101:

Rebecca Benefiel, 'Dialogues of graffiti in the House of Maius Castricius in Pompeii'.

Ancient graffiti have traditionally been studied as brief texts, but that is only part of the information they communicate. I propose a more comprehensive approach that considers their content and form and situates them more firmly within their physical and social environment. Engaging more closely with the spatial context of graffiti informs us about the ancient use of space and the human activity within it. It also allows us to see what else, besides text, was inscribed on the walls of Pompeii. The concept of the dialogue offers a flexible model of inquiry and provides a fresh perspective for examining the numerous graffiti of a residential space. From number games to drawings to clever compositions of poetry, the graffiti of the House of Maius Castricius reveal wide participation and a strong interest in the act of writing, a popular activity here and throughout Pompeii.

Congratulations, Rebecca!

Latest Journal of Roman Archaeology 22 (2009)

This came out a couple of months ago, but I have only seen it now. It includes the following article and review articles:

M. L. Thomas & J. R. Clarke, Evidence of demolition and remodeling at Villa A at Oplontis (Villa of Poppaea) after A.D. 45. 355

R. Laurence, Observing Pompeii and its archaeologists in a re-invented guidebook 584 (Review of M. Beard, Pompeii. The life of a Roman town)

C. Mattusch, Herculaneum, Pompeii, and the French 587 (Review of S. Descamps-Lequime and M. Denoyelle, De Pompéi à Malmaison. Les antiques de Joséphine)

M. van der Veen, From countryside to urban centre: new botanical evidence for the development of Pompeii 591 (Review of M. Ciaraldi, People and plants in ancient Pompeii: a new approach to urbanism from the microscope room)

J. Trimble, The Herculaneum Woman statue types and their ongoing history 592 (Review of J. Daehner (ed.), The Herculaneum Women: history, contexts, identities)

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Article: Features of the Domenico Fontana’s Water Conduit (the Canal of Count Sarno) and the Date of Pompeii's Destruction

Andreas Tschurilow, Features of the Domenico Fontana′s Water Conduit (the Canal of Count Sarno) and the Date of Pompeii's DestructionScientific Study, 2009. (Also published in German and Russian.)

It is considered that Pompeii was destroyed in the first century and, being buried under a layer of volcanic ash and pumice-stone, it remained forgotten for more than 1500 years until in 1592 the architect Domenico Fontana, during the construction of a canal to bring water to Torre Annunziata, found in an underground passageway several inscriptions on marble plates indicating the location of an ancient city. In this paper we present arguments in favor of another hypothesis: that Pompeii came to the end of its existence after the completion of the canal which was constructed in ruined city, however, still not fully covered by the volcanic ashes. The paper brings up for discussion some results of the author’s study partially popularized on the Internet and presents his opinion that the famous Pompeii, being excavated by the archeologists in the last 200 years, in fact finally disappeared off the face of the earth as a result of the eruption of Vesuvius in 1631.

DAI Rom - more information about inauguration

My thanks to Pia Kastenmeier for sending in more details about the conference to be held on the occasion of the reopening of the DAI Rom. Italian below!


Einladung zum Festvortrag anlässlich der Eröffnung der Zwischenunterkunft des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts Rom am Montag, den 25. Januar 2010, 10.30 Uhr im Odeion des Museo dell’Arte Classica, Universita La Sapienza, P.le Aldo Moro, 5

Prof. Dr. Gilda Bartoloni (Roma)
Prof. Dr. Maria Grazia Picozzi (Roma)
Prof. Dr. Eugenio La Rocca (Roma)
Prof. Dr. Henner von Hesberg (Roma)

Prof. Dr. Hans-Joachim Gehrke (Präsident des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts)

Si invita alla conferenza inaugurale in occasione dell’apertura della sede provvisoria dell’Istituto Archeologico Germanico di Roma lunedì, 25 gennaio 2010, alle ore 10.30 presso l’Odeion del Museo dell’Arte Classica dell’Università La Sapienza, P.le Aldo Moro, 5

Prof. Dr. Gilda Bartoloni (Roma)
Prof. Dr. Maria Grazia Picozzi (Roma)
Prof. Dr. Eugenio La Rocca (Roma),
Prof. Dr. Henner von Hesberg (Roma)

Conferenza inaugurale
Prof. Dr. Hans-Joachim Gehrke (Presidente dell’Istituto Archeologico Germanico)


Roma, Tel 347 3137955 Fax 06 4884973

Oxbow Books discounts

Bargains from Oxbow books:

The Villa of the Mysteries in Pompeii: Ancient Ritual, Modern Muse
edited by Elaine Gazda
This is a catalogue of an exhibition by the Kelsey Museum at the University of Michigan which focused on a cycle of frescoes found in 1990 at the well-known villa on the outskirts of ancient Pompeii. Probably painted around 60 BC, the cycle depicts young women probably being initiated into the cult of Bacchus (Dionysus) in preparation for marriage. The catalogue presents a number of objects connected with the villa, as well as the reconstruction ...
Paperback. Publisher's Price GB £22.50, Our Price GB £9.95

The Natural History of Pompeii
by W.F. Jashemski
Following the prototype established by Pliny the Elder in his Natural History, Jashemski and the volume's contributors reconstruct the environment of Pompeii, Herculaneum and the surrounding Campanian countryside, based on the evidence preserved by the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79. The volume brings together the work of geologists, soil specialists, paleobotanists, botanists, paleontologists, biologists, chemists, dendrochronologists, ...
Hardback. Publisher's Price GB £147.00, Our Price GB £49.95

Web resources: Sisyphos

My thanks to Celia Mustermann for this link to Sisyphos - the University of Heidelberg's web resources on Pompeii (and elsewhere). This is a great collection of useful links!

House of the Menander

Another book - this time one that's been out for a while. The OUP sale has just started and they are selling Ling and Ling's The Insula Of Menander at Pompeii. Volume II: The Decorations at the bargain price (!) of £122.50 down from £245.


Riapertura dell’Istituto Archeologico Germanico di Roma

Good news: the German Archaeological Institute in Rome is to reopen in a temporary location (the current building has structural faults!). The following is from the Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali:

Dopo una chiusura di oltre 3 anni l’Istituto Archeologico Germanico di Roma, il più antico istituto di ricerca archeologica, riaprirà il 25 gennaio 2010 nella sede provvisoria di Via Curtatone 4d. In occasione dell’inaugurazione il direttore dell’Istituto, Professor Henner von Hesberg, terrà una conferenza stampa il 22.01.2010 alle ore 11.00. L’Istituto Archeologico Germanico di Roma nasce dall’“Istituto di Corrispondenza Archeologica”, fondato nel 1829. Esso dispone di una biblioteca di importanza mondiale, di una delle più grandi raccolte fotografiche sull’Italia e di ricchi archivi. Attraverso questi strumenti di ricerca, numerose manifestazioni e pubblicazioni, l’Istituto costituisce uno dei più importanti centri di dialogo internazionale nello studio delle antiche culture.

Book: Pompeii: Latrines and Down Pipes

Now available from Hadrian Books (British Archaeological Reports):

Barry Hobson, Pompeii, Latrines and Down Pipes. A General Discussion and Photographic Record of Toilet Facilities in Pompeii (BAR S2041, 2009). ISBN: 9781407304687 , Price: £ 75.00

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Book: Cities of Roman Italy

Guy de la Bédoyère's new textbook for A-level students "Cities of Roman Italy" is due for publication by Bristol Classical Press very soon. The book blurb reads:

The ruins of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Ostia have excited the imagination of scholars and tourists alike since early modern times. The removal of volcanic debris at Pompeii and Herculaneum, and the clearance of centuries of accumulated soil and vegetation from the ancient port city of Rome at Ostia, have provided us with the most important evidence for Roman urban life. Work goes on at all three sites to this day, and they continue to produce new surprises.

Pompeii is the subject of numerous books, but the other two cities are nothing like as well-served. This book, written by an archaeologist, historian and teacher with a lifelong interest in the Roman world, is designed for students of A-level and university courses on Classical Civilization who need a one-stop introduction to all three sites. Its principal focus is status and identity in Roman cities, and how they were expressed through institutions, public buildings and facilities, private houses and funerary monuments, against a backdrop of the history of the cities, their rise, their destruction, preservation and excavation. The reader is also guided towards other reading material and Internet sites that now offer unprecedented access to the cities.

Oebalus 4, 2009

Vi segnalo l'uscita del nuovo numero di 'Oebalus. Studi sulla Campania nell'Antichità' (4/2009, ed. Felice Senatore).

SALVATORE NAPOLITANO, "Selvaggio ingegno" e "occhio avvezzo a mirar opere antiche". Pietro Vivenzio e la dimensione europea della cultura a Napoli

ALBERT RIBERA I LACOMBA, La fundacion de Valentia: un apendice de Italia y Campania en la Hispania del siglo II a.C.

ENRICO A. STANCO, I cinturoni dell’ "acquisto Egg" al Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli

ENRICO A. STANCO, Due fibule settentrionali da Alife (CE) e la fase romana nella necropoli di Conca d’Oro, scavi G.G. Egg

VINCENZO BELLELLI, Nel mondo dei vasi campani a figure nere. A proposito di un libro recente

ROSALBA ANTONINI, Testi di Capua preromana. Qualche aggiornamento

ELIODORO SAVINO, Problemi della Guerra sociale in Campania nell’89 a.C.

FABRIZIO RUFFO, Sulla topografia dell’antica Stabiae. Osservazioni sulla Villa San Marco e sul cosiddetto impianto urbano alla luce delle recenti indagini archeologiche (2008-2009)

DOMENICO CAMARDO, I medici nel mondo romano ed il problema dei valetudinari a Stabiae

GRETE STEFANI, MICHELE BORGONGINO, A proposito della «cassata» di Oplontis

ANGELO ESPOSITO, La Villa di Damecuta a Capri. Analisi dei resti e ricostruzione dei livelli dell’edificio

FLAVIA CALISTI, L’allattamento simbolico


MASSIMO POETTO, GIULIO M. FACCHETTI, L’aryballos di Arat Numasiana (Tavv. I-III)

GIANLUCA SORICELLI, Allifae: produzione e circolazione ceramica nella prima età imperiale. Alcune note preliminari

AGATA ARENELLA, Nucleo sepolcrale di età romana in Alife (CE). Località Ponte di Meola

Recensioni: E. De Magistris, Paestum e Roma quadrata. Ricerche sullo spazio augurale (FRANCESCO MARCATTILI) - P. Ceccarelli, Friedrick Gottlieb Welcker e l’antiquaria napoletana. Carteggi Gervasio-Welcker e Minervini- Welcker (EDUARDO FEDERICO) - J. Berry, The Complete Pompeii (REBECCA RUTH BENEFIEL) - A. Mele (ed.), Il culto della dea Mefite e la Valle d’Ansanto (ALFREDINA STORCHI MARINO)

Your opinions about Amazon Associates, please!

Would anyone object to Blogging Pompeii being linked to Amazon Associates? What this means is that contributors could search for and link directly to books on from the 'New Post' page, without having to search for the relevant information on other websites and then cutting and pasting to BP. For example, here are three books that have been featured on BP in recent months:

Readers can link directly to Amazon for further details about each book, and can purchase it there if they wish.
My question to you is this: do you think this is a useful time-saving tool for the site, or would you prefer not to promote Amazon in this way? In the interests of full disclosure, you should know that I would earn a very small commission for any books sold this way, but that I would use any money made to develop BP further and not for personal gain!

The sewer exit at the Porta Marina

Dear all:

I'm hoping to enlist the help of the Blogging Pompeii community to assist me in placing an image published by the Eschebach's in 1995 (left). The image is of the exit of a sewer through the southern city wall. I believe this is the same sewer discussed by Cozzi and Solgiano (1900) in the Forum and found by P. Arthur (1986) in 1980's beneath the via Marina. My best guess is that this image shows the area just to the northwest of the Porta Marina's pedestrian entrance, with the end of the Suburban baths' eastern colonade / arcade being slightly out of the frame to the left (red circles in map).

Can anyone confirm or refute this? Facts, opinions, and wild speculation alike are appreciated.


Monday, 18 January 2010

New edition of Cronache Ercolanesi out

The latest edition of Cronache Ercolanesi (no. 39 / 2009) has just come out. For those who don't know it, it is the journal of the Centro Internazionale per lo Studio dei Papiri Ercolanesi (International Centre for the Study of the Herculaneum Papyri).

As you might expect most of the papers are on various papyri texts, which I don't have time to type up here (although if you want a list of the contents, then please feel free to email me).

The two non-text based articles which may be of interest are:

Agathe Antoni: Voyageurs francais à la découverte d'Herculanum aux XVIIIéme et XIXème siècles

Maria Paola Guidobaldi and Domenico Esposito: Le nuove ricerche archeologiche nella Villa dei Papiri di Ercolano

This second article is actually quite important, as it is the first archaeological news from the Villa of the Papyri area for a long time and contains a description of all the recent work carried out in the last couple of years by the Soprintendenza. If you're interested in a copy of this article, email me and I can let you know how to get a copy.

Graffiti on the walls of Pompeii

This article was posted on the Science News website reporting on the AIA Conference in Anaheim this past week.

Graffiti on the walls in Pompeii
News from the Archaeological Institute of America's annual meeting in Anaheim, Calif.
By Bruce Bower
January 30th, 2010; Vol.177 #3 (p. 14)

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Well-off homeowners living in the Roman city of Pompeii more than 2,000 years ago could read the writing on their own walls, and apparently didn’t mind the spontaneous scrawling. Citizens of Pompeii scratched out graffiti on the walls of private residences to share creative greetings, welcomes and salutations to friends, Rebecca Benefiel of Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., reported on January 8.

Many elite Pompeii dwellings bear dozens of graffiti messages on their walls, Benefiel notes. She studied 41 examples of written graffiti spread across two stories of one such house. Most graffiti appeared on walls in well-traveled areas, such as an entrance area and near stairways. Different people wrote messages back-and-forth to one another on the walls, sometimes in the form of poetry, Benefiel says. Graffiti writers intended to have their product read by an audience, she suggests.

Graffiti in the Pompeii house are generally small and unobtrusive. “Defacement did not motivate those who wrote on these walls,” Benefiel says. She also identified 12 instances of graffiti images in the ancient house. These drawings portrayed boats, animals, a palm frond and a man. A few areas contained graffiti consisting of a series of Roman numerals that were possibly used in number games, in Benefiel’s view.

Conference: Progetti di architettura. Concorsi, Realizzazioni e Sperimentazioni

Convegno: Progetti di architettura. Concorsi, Realizzazioni e Sperimentazioni
Organizzato da: Facoltà di Architettura, Università di Napoli "Federico II"
Data: 19 gennaio 2010
A: Villa Maiuri, Via IV Orologi, Ercolano (NA)
Ora: 09,30
Invito: cliccare qui

The title of this conference may not immediately appeal to most blog readers, but don't be put off - there will be at least two papers related to Vesuvian archaeology: one on the Herculaneum Centre and one on the Herculaneum Conservation Project. Other papers will describe architecture and architectural conservation projects in the Naples area.
The final programme should be ready later today - anyone who wants it can email me.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Question about the Metropolitan Museum frescoes

Can anyone answer this question from a regular reader, David Emery?

I had a business meeting in NYC and stayed over to look at the Met Museum's Greece & Roman galleries. Of course everything is spectacular, but I was particularly struck by the fresco installations. There's a set of three that particularly caught my eye. Photos attached (for some reason my pictures didn't come out very well). Anyway, given the really high quality, and to my mind artistic similarities (which my wife, an actual artist, agreed), I wonder if anyone's looked at whether these were done by the same artist(s) as the "Villa of the Mysteries" frescoes?

Marble Relief at Herculaneum

I just read Sarah's blog about the newly discovered Herculaneum relief and I wonder if the attached image, which I took some years ago, could be the 1997 relief mentioned in the article.

The top photograph shows how the marble relief was displayed "in situ" in the Villa of the Papyri archaeological area. Possibly it came from the indented rectangle in the wall above and to the right of the easel? However, it has since disappeared from the site and I would be very interested if anyone else remembers seeing it there and perhaps knows where it might be now.

The second image is a close up of the relief and the third is how the photograph was enlarged and used as a backdrop in the exhibition "Pompeii: Tales from an Eruption" at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in 2008.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Newly discovered Herculaneum relief: copy on permanent display

Latest mini-project carried out by the Superintendency at Herculaneum has been the creation of a copy of the marble relief found last year in the newly-named House of the Dionysian Reliefs in the Insulae Occidentalis (the corner of the ancient city that lies in the Villa of the Papyri archaeological area).

The copy has been installed at the ticket office at Herculaneum so that visitors can take a good close look - and touch it! The relief is also planned be one of the stops on a visit that is being designed for the blind and visually impaired by the Herculaneum Centre in the context of the Superintendency's ongoing commitment to provide greater access to the sites and their artefacts.

Here's a copy of the English text that accompanies the relief:

The latest discovery at Herculaneum
The marble relief on display here, which shows Dionysiac scenes, was discovered in Herculaneum on 18 February 2009. It was found in a large room with fourth-style decorations in a partly excavated luxury residence in the so-called north-west insula. It was inserted into the painted wall plaster of the east wall of the room at a height of 2 m from the floor.
In 1997 a similar relief, again with a Dionysiac setting, was removed from the south wall of the same room, where it had been inserted into the wall in the same way and at the same height from the floor.
Inserting marble reliefs (typoi) into wall decorations was particularly fashionable in the Roman world from the first century BC onwards. Rich and cultured patrons obtained original Greek works of art, or copies of them, from the antiquarian market and used them as prestigious ornaments in their homes. This can be seen in a passage of a letter dating to 67 BC (ad Atticum 1.10.3), in which Cicero asks a friend to purchase on his behalf two sculpted puteals (well heads) and, moreover, marble reliefs to insert in the painted decoration of his villa at Tusculum.
The recent discovery has allowed the technique used for embedding a typos in a wall to be recorded in detail: the face of the opus reticulatum wall was slightly hollowed out to a depth of 5 cm and the relief was placed in this niche without using mortar. Instead support was provided by two iron cramps on the long sides (1.08 m) and a single cramp on the short sides (0.66m) where there was no frame. Once painted plaster was added the edges were totally covered.
On the right-hand side of the Greek marble relief are a dancing Maenad and a bearded male divinity, probably Dionysius. While on the left there are two female figures in front of an archaistic statue of Dionysius with a kantharos (drinking vessel). The adult woman has her hand on the shoulder of the younger one in a protective gesture. The object in the hands of the young woman is difficult to identify: a tool or a torch, perhaps related to a particular ritual.
The relief was made in a neo-Attic workshop in the first half of the 1st century AD. It is not clear if there is a narrative connection between the two separate scenes, or if it is instead a pastiche where Dionysiac motifs and scenes were mixed or re-presented according to precise decisions made by the patron, who had chosen this theme for the south wall of the room as well.

Blogging Pompeii Social Event in Rome - tonight!

If you are in Rome, don't forget to go along to Bar San Callisto in Trastevere this evening to meet your fellow Pompeianists. See here for the details in Laura's original post.

BTW, I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the BP social in Anaheim!

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Napoli, recuperata una statua romana di inestimabile valore in un condominio

See Il Mattino for news of an ancient statue seized by the Carabinieri in the Fuorigrotta district of Naples. The statue - which it is claimed was probably part of a monument commemorating an Antonine emperor - had been on display in the garden of a condominium since the building had been constructed in the 1930s. It is thought that the statue was found during the construction work and was left in situ (kind of!). The carabinieri uncovered plans to steal the statue and sell it during a wider investigation into the illegal antiquities market - and moved in to grab it before the thieves. The statue has been taken to the Naples Museum for restoration, and will probably go on display there in the future.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Moregine Treasure on five-year loan to Metropolitan Museum

I can't find any official announcement, but I have been reliably informed that the Moregine "Treasure" will be travelling to New York later this year to be displayed at the Metropolitan Museum. This five-year loan is part of an agreement between the Italian and US governments which also included the return of several works of ancient art being returned last year.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Exhibition: Racconti da Resina

Sorry this is a day late - an exhibition on Ercolano's historic market opened yesterday, but still time to visit it for the next two weeks:

Villa Maiuri – Ercolano, Via 4 Orologi n. 23
11 – 24 gennaio 2010

Il giorno 10 gennaio 2010 alle ore 19,00 inaugurazione ufficiale durante la quale sarà proiettato il documentario “Balle e Racconti” a cura del Centro Herculaneum.
Fotografie di Flaviana Frascogna e Roberto Caccioppoli
Ad Ercolano, città ricca di contraddizioni dove antico e moderno si fondono in un’alternanza di prospettive visuali, vivono luoghi in cui la tradizione non cede il posto al cieco progresso. Alle pendici del Vesuvio continua a vivere “il mercato di Resina”.
Si estende per tutta via Pugliano, una strada che a partire dalla Basilica rappresenta la spina dorsale per gli abitanti del luogo. “Cca' ngop' s' nasce e la abbasc s' mor’ ”, ha detto Giuseppe, un ragazzo che lavora in uno dei negozi di panni usati del mercato.
Tutto è nato a partire dalla fine della seconda guerra mondiale che ha lasciato oltre alla distruzione, enormi capannoni di capi militari americani attorno ai quali è nato un piccolo commercio, che poi si è sviluppato nella direzione di un vero e proprio mercato dell'usato, “Resina” divenuto famoso in tutt' Italia.
Il Boom si è avuto negli anni ‘70 dove le balle di panni, provenienti dall'America, riempivano via Pugliano.
Oggi la situazione è ben diversa, il mercato di Resina è vuoto, svuotato dalle economie mondiali, ma anche dalla paura di tornare a Ercolano dopo alcuni attentati di camorra. Quelle strade non hanno troppe luci nelle vetrine, non ci sono enormi parcheggi, le insegne non sono grandi Nomi, ogni negozio ha il nome di chi ci lavora, con un pò di fantasia il negozio di giacche di pelle diventa “Kojak”. Sui volti della gente c'è la verità delle espressioni senza trucco, c'è la semplicità.

La mostra fotografica è composta da una serie di scatti in cui sono ritratti gli abitanti del posto con un'istintività che lascia parlare i luoghi, gli oggetti e le persone in tutta la loro dignità e splendore.
C'è un desiderio estetizzante, quasi un voler catturare la bellezza, la serenità e l'armonia di persone e luoghi nell'estremo rispetto per i soggetti ritratti: donne, uomini e vecchi abitanti del posto, fotografati senza posa, con il risultato di un realismo efficacemente omogeneo nella composizione.

Si ringrazia:
Photocopy Center, Piazza Trieste n.15 Tel. + 39. 392.52.32.169
Pasticceria Cepollaro, Corso Resina n.71 Tel. + 39. 081.739.08.00
Enoteca Vinarium di Ercole, Via 4 Novembre n.145 Tel. + 39. 3283204052

Exhibition: Pompeya y una villa romana

I have a blog confession to make: I went to a museum hosting a Pompeii exhibition and I didn't go... (sorry Jo!)

As previously mentioned on the blog, Mexico City's Museo Nacional de Antropología is currently holding the exhibition "Pompeya y una villa Romana: arte y cultura alrededor de la Bahia de Napoles" which is a great opportunity to see a wide selection of Vesuvian artefacts for those in that part of the world. The exhibition website in Spanish and English can be found here.

What I can tell you from having been there (if not actually in) is that the exhibition is entered from the main museum foyer, but with a separate ticket. The ticket costs 51 Mexican pesos although there is free entry on Sundays for Mexican citizens and residents. The museum is open every day except Monday and you can visit the exhibition from 9am to 7pm (although the website says until 5pm).
I saw no sign of an exhibition catalogue, but then sadly the museum bookshop was closed for stock taking over the holidays.

If you do visit the exhibition and haven't been to the museum before, then let me recommend that you dedicate at least an entire day so that you can also see the main collection (enough Romans! There are some big bits of Mesoamerican archaeology to enjoy!) The Museo Nacional de Antropología is one of those great museums that leaves you amazed by the wealth of their collection - I spent five hours there and saw less than half the objects (explaining why I didn't make it into the Pompeii exhibition, which also seemed a bit too much like a busman's holiday!)
Being able to compare the old and new world civilisations (much of which are roughly contemporary) makes a very interesting exercise.

Visitor numbers up over holiday period

Local news sources are citing higher visitor numbers over the Christmas period.
See, for example, this article from Il Mediano.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Social Event @ Rome

Hello there and have fun all of you going to Anaheim!

I'm suggesting another social event for blog contributors and their friends based in Rome.
Let's meet at Bar San Calisto at Trastevere Friday January 15th at 8 p.m.

See you there!
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