Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Alexandria, before Alexander

Via Alun Salt's nifty Historyscape feed comes this LiveScience article about Rhakotis, a town on the site of what would later become Alexandria. Sediment cores from the harbor suggest that there was a "flourishing urban settlement" more than 700 years before Alexander marked out his city's limits.

Archaeology is usually a grimy business, but the Smithsonian's Jean-Daniel Stanley says that getting these cores set a new standard in that regard:

Collecting these samples underwater proved challenging. "Alexandria now is home to as many as 4 million people, and we were in the unfortunate position of having to deal with their discharge—human waste, municipal waste, industrial waste—which got released into the harbor," Stanley said. "It's not funny, but you have to sort of laugh."
The Smithsonian's magazine ran a more extensive piece on this dig back in April.

ETA: Apologies to David Meadows for inadvertently stealing the title of his entry on a similar article...

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Louvre's Roman collection comes stateside

Eric at Campus Mawrtius tells us that the Indianapolis Museum of Art is the first of three stops for an exhibition of 184 selected Roman pieces from the Louvre. The show opens September 23 and runs until January 6, 2008.

The American Federation for the Arts says that next year, the exhibit will go to Seattle (February 21 to May 11) and Oklahoma City (June 19 to October 12).

I'm glad to see this going to some lesser-known museums, especially those in Indy and OKC. Can't let the coastal cities have all the fun!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Saxons probably didn't have a word for "frosting"

Anyone considering applying to the AIRC's field school, as featured in the previous post, should know that working on a dig can be very physically demanding. The field school tuition does provide a daily meal to keep your constitution up, but it's unlikely that any actual artifacts are on the menu.

Should you actually feel like chowing down on a piece of history, tonight's episode of Ace of Cakes featured a birthday cake in the shape of the helmet from the Sutton Hoo ship burial.

Roman baths find announced

Popping up everywhere, as AP bulletins do, is this story about a bath complex once owned by Quintus Servilius Pudens, a buddy of the emperor Hadrian. It was unearthed at the big Parco degli Acquedotti dig site, in the suburbs south of the old city. The American Institute for Roman Culture, which runs the dig, has a page which suggests this was actually discovered last year (assuming this is the same "imperial" bath complex mentioned on that page).

With a hat tip to Adrian Murdoch, here's a Google Maps link to the Parco degli Acquedotti. Many previously excavated areas are visible, and if you pan back, the American school's presence is betrayed by the baseball fields (!) to the south. So much for "when in Rome..."

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Peter Heather on HNN

Peter Heather's The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians came out in 2005, but the paperback only hit U.S. shelves a few weeks ago. Heather summarizes his thesis—yes, it was barbarians, and Rome made them—in a new essay at HNN.