Tuesday 30 December 2008

AIA Conference Philadelphia 2009

The AIA abstracts for the up-coming conference are now on-line. Here are the details of the Pompeii session:

Session 3B: In the shadow of Vesuvius
Friday Jan 9th, 1.30 - 4.30 pm; Chair: Ian Sutherland, Gallaudet University.

1. Stabiae, 2002-2008: Surveys and Excavations
Thomas Howe, Southwestern University/Fondazione Restoring Ancient Stabiae, Ian Sutherland, Gallaudet University, Lindley Vann, University of Maryland, Katherine Gleason, Cornell University, Meg Watters, Steven Wilkes, and Eamonn Baldwin, University of Birmingham, U.K., Giovanna Bonfacio, SAP, Enzo Morrà and Maurizio Fedi, Università di Napoli, Federico II

2. The Great Peristyle Garden of the Villa Arianna at Stabiae
Ian M. Sutherland, Gallaudet University, R. Lindley Vann, University of Maryland, College Park, Kathryn L. Gleason, Cornell University, Amina-Aicha Malek, Laboratoire Archeologies d’Orient et d’Occident, Paris, and Michele A. Palmer, Landscape Architect

3. The Oplontis Project 2007-2008: Evidence of Demolition and Remodeling at Villa A (Villa of Poppaea) after 45 C.E.
Michael L. Thomas and John R. Clarke, The University of Texas at Austin

4. Lead Contamination in the Drinking Water of Ancient Campania
Duncan Keenan-Jones, Norman Pearson, and Justin Payne, Macquarie University, John Hellstrom, University of Melbourne, and Russell Drysdale, University of Newcastle

5. The Network of Urban Shrines at Pompeii
Lydia A. Herring-Harrington, University of Michigan

6. Scene Setting Silverware: Dining Among Deformed Figures in Pompeii
Tracy L. Hensley, Skidmore College

7. Animal Shows in Roman Pompeii
Allison L. C. Emmerson, University of Cincinnati

8. Masseria De Carolis: Eruptions and Resettlement on the North Slope of Mt. Vesuvius
Girolamo F. De Simone, St. John’s College, University of Oxford

Abstracts can be viewed at: http://www.archaeological.org/webinfo.php?page=10489

I'm hoping to hear some reports back from the conference. I'm really sorry not to be there.

Sunday 21 December 2008

AIA conference 2010

Thanks, Rebecca!
I won't be able to make it to Philadelphia this time, so I'll be interested to hear about the papers from anyone who goes.

But I have been thinking about next year's conference in Anaheim. There is a good chance that I will be there (with the kids, for obvious reasons!!), so I'm thinking about organising a session or participating in one. What I would like to do is organise a themed session, rather than just a general session on Pompeii.

So I am casting around for possible ideas for a session, which could just be Pompeii-based or Pompeii plus other sites. I have been thinking about 'The archaeology of the night' - how do people get around at night, how do they light their houses (although a fair bit has been done on that), what activities take place at night, and so on.

Does anyone know anyone working on this sort of thing, at Pompeii or elsewhere, or even from literary sources?

Or does anyone have any other ideas for a themed session? I am happy to share organisation (or even hand over organisation!) to anyone who wants to get involved.

Conference Papers on Pompeii

The Annual Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America (January 8-11, 2009 in Philadelphia, PA) has two panels that will feature papers on Pompeii and environs:

Session 3B: In the Shadow of Vesuvius (with papers on current projects at Stabiae, Oplontis, and Pompeii)
Session 5G: The House of the Vestals 100 Years After Van Deman

Individual paper abstracts will be online soon.

Saturday 20 December 2008

Italian Pompeii blog

I've discovered a couple of Italian blogspots on Pompeii:

http://pompei-scavi.blogspot.com/. Many of its posts are about modern Pompei, but there are some on the excavations.

http://pompeionline.blogspot.com/. This one is just about the excavations, with news about current events.

Emergency measures

Here are some links about the current state of emergency in Pompeii. I particularly like the BBC video report from July, which contains a few howlers.





One of the first acts of Renato Profilo, the new commissario, was to shut down the restaurant in the excavations (open since 1954). There is now nowhere to buy refreshments on-site, and the entrance tickets don't allow tourists to exit for lunch and then go back into the ruins. Apparently new facilities will be provided - by the same people who worked at the restaurant!

Here is a description of some of the other steps taken by Profili:


Thursday 18 December 2008

Virtual volcano

Some of you may be aware of my morbid fascination with volcanoes ... I have just discovered that you can create your own volcanic eruptions on this website:


Set the viscosity and gas to high and you get a Plinian eruption!

Tuesday 16 December 2008

Date of the eruption, yet more proof!

Here is something that interests me a lot, not least because the debate has been raging for over 250 years: the date of the eruption. Just two years ago, Greta Stefani was arguing for a November date based on the discovery of a coin that couldn't have been minted before September AD 79. Now Anna Maria Ciarallo is arguing once more for an August date. This article appeared recently in The Times (Oct. 29, 2008):

Stinking fish confirms date of Pompeii's destruction
Analysis of the town’s last batch of garum, a pungent, fish-based seasoning

The remains of rotten fish entrails have helped to establish the precise date of Pompeii’s destruction, confirming the accounts of Roman authors, Italian archaeologists report. They have analysed the town’s last batch of garum, a pungent, fish-based seasoning, frozen in time by the catastrophic eruption that covered Pompeii and nearby towns with nine to twenty feet of hot ash and pumice.
The desiccated remains were found at the bottom of seven jars and revealed that the last Pompeian garum was made entirely with bogue, a Mediterranean fish species. The vessels were unearthed several years ago in the house of Aulus Umbricius Scaurus, Pompeii’s most famous garum producer.
“Analysis of their contents confirmed that Mount Vesuvius is likely to have erupted on August 24 in AD79, as reported by Pliny the Younger in his account on the eruption,” Annamaria Ciarallo, director of the Pompeii applied research laboratory, told journalists.
Garum was made by fermenting fish in saltwater and had a sweet and sour taste. It was used on almost every dish and was often a substitute for expensive salt.
Producing garum was relatively simple. A layer of fish entrails was placed on a bed of dried, aromatic herbs such as coriander, fennel, celery, mint and oregano.
This was covered by a layer of salt about two fingers deep and the sequence of herbs, fish and salt was repeated until the container was filled. The concoction was left in the sun for a week or so, and the sauce was mixed daily for about 20 days.
The end result was widely available at open-air trattorias, thermopolia, where Pompeian “fast food” was served. The sunken jars on the counter contained spiced wine, and stews of meat or lentils, as well as garum.
“Pompeii’s last batch of garum was made with bogue, a fish that was cheap and easy to find on the market in summer months. People living in this region still make a modern version of garum, colatura di alici (anchovy juice), in July when this fish abounds on the markets,” Dr Ciarallo said.
“Since bogue abounded in July and early August and recipes recommend leaving the fish to macerate for no longer than a month, we can say that the eruption occurred in late August or early September, a date which is compatible with Pliny’s account.” The date of the eruption on August 24 is confirmed by biological data, Dr Ciarallo said. “The pollen found in Pompeii belongs to some 350 summer species. This is more evidence in favour of Pliny’s account.”
Doubts about the date of the eruption emerged a few years ago when archaeologists discovered a coin that seemed to refer to the 15th imperiatorial acclamation of Titus. This is believed to have occurred on September 7, AD79. “Unfortunately, that coin is hardly readable. However, it is not so important whether the eruption occurred in August or in October,” Teresa Giove, of the Naples archaeological museum, said.

Teresa Giove may have a point!
Thanks to Lawrence Keppie for drawing my attention to this article.
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