Monday, March 24, 2008

Archaeologists to paint Trajan's Column with light

Archaeologists want to use light to recreate the brilliant colors once seen on Trajan's Column in Rome.

The chaste white of Roman temples and monuments is a product of centuries of wear that has removed the original paint. The archaeology department in Rome is discussing the technical details of creating a light beam that would temporarily repaint the column, with the power company Acea and researchers at Rome University, the Italian news agency Ansa reported.

Under the plan, the column would be illuminated on weekends for a few minutes every hour.

''Nothing acts like light to deepen our understanding, activating our emotional brain,'' said Maurizio Anastasi, head of the technical office in the city archaeology department.
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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tom Holland and Robert Harris Join Classical Studies Promotion Effort

"Bestselling authors, Robert Harris and Tom Holland will launch a programme at the University of Liverpool to introduce more young people to ancient history and languages during Liverpool's year as European Capital of Culture.

Robert Harris is best known for his historical novel, Enigma. He has also written books based on the ancient world such as Pompeii. Robert will launch the University’s ‘Classics 08’ programme with fellow author, Tom Holland, known for his popular histories like Rubicon and Persian Fire, based on the late Roman Republic and the Persian Wars.

Designed to encourage both school students and their teachers to take up the study of the ancient world and its languages, ‘Classics 08’ aims is to make both classical culture and languages like Greek and Latin much more widely available.

Classics Lecturer at the University, Eugenie Fernandes, said: “The study of Classics and in particular classical languages has attracted renewed interest in recent years. Blockbuster films such as Gladiator and Alexander the Great have led to a revival of Latin and Greek as well as classical history. Both languages have shown to help students improve reading, comprehension, vocabulary and grammar.

“As part of the initiative we have set up a ‘Classics Club’, held on Saturdays for students over the age of 14, which is proving highly popular. We cover topics such as ancient art and drama, local architecture and archaeology and we also arrange trips to museums and theatres across the country.”

Classics 08 is the first of a number of similar projects expected nationwide as part of the ‘Classics for All’ initiative being launched by the Joint Association of Classical teachers and friends of Classics. For its part, Liverpool’s ‘Classics 08’ is helping schools to introduce classics to the curriculum and providing them with advice and support throughout the academic year."

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Brits announce new ancient history curriculum

I wish curriculum in the United States would incorporate a similar study of ancient history that has been announced in Britain. When I was young, the paltry 200 years of American history consumed most of the history curriculum taught in K-12.

"Teenagers will be able to study the history behind Hollywood blockbusters like Troy and Alexander for a new GCSE it has been announced.

The OCR exam board is devising the ancient history GCSE to cater for a surge in interest in the Romans and ancient Greeks.

Pupils will learn about literature and art and study archaeological evidence for the qualification, which will be taught in schools from September next year.

Clara Kenyon, director of qualifications at OCR, said: "Now GCSE students can study the real history behind the movies and increase their understanding of the great ancient empires."

The course will cover the foundation of Rome, Greece and the Persian wars, Alexander the Great, Hannibal, Cleopatra and Agrippina the Younger.

Teenagers will focus on the study of original sources, such as archaeological evidence and literature in translation.

Pupils will also be able to study aspects of other ancient civilisations, including the Egyptians, the Minoans, Mycenae, the Persian Empire, the Hellenistic world and the Celts.

Hollywood has produced a steady stream of big budget films based on tales from the classical world in recent years, including Troy, starring Brad Pitt as Achilles, and Alexander, in which Colin Farrell played the title role.

Professor Tom Harrison, chairman of the Joint Association of Classical Teachers, welcomed the new course.

He said: "This confirms the growth in the popularity of ancient history as an academic subject. With the huge public interest in the ancient world, classics nationally is buoyant and this new qualification will bring the subject to a younger, even broader, audience."

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Artifacts ripped from Trajan's Villa recovered from wealthy engineer

Roman mosaics are among my favorite art forms so this article made me shudder.

"Police seized some 1,000 ancient artifacts from a wealthy Italian man's country house outside Rome that were stolen from one of Emperor Trajan's villas, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Authorities contend the artifacts, which were being used to decorate the man's weekend residence, were ripped off the walls of what is believed to be Trajan's hunting retreat in Arcinazzo Romano, a town in the countryside outside Rome.

Some were stolen from boxes of fragments that archaeologists had excavated from the villa but had left at the site of the ongoing dig, prosecutors told a news conference.

Pieces of ancient Roman mosaics were inserted into the man's basement floor and his fireplace and bathroom were decorated with other pieces, authorities said.

Many of the artifacts were damaged by glue that he apparently used to stick them to transparent display supports, said Marina Sapelli Ragni, Lazio's superintendent for archaeology. Restorers would try to repair the damage, she said.

Among the loot are pieces of marble that once covered the sprawling villa in the upper Aniene River valley in Lazio. The villa has only been partially excavated."

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Sunday, March 9, 2008

Villa of Augustus on Palatine Hill Now Open To The Public

Exquisitely preserved frescoed rooms in the ruined house of Augustus, the first Emperor of Rome, were opened to the public today for the first time since they were unearthed nearly half a century ago.

Archaeologists say that the future emperor lived in the house on the Palatine Hill above the Forum in about 30BC, before he gained supreme power and built his imperial palace complex higher up the hill. The paintings have been restored at a cost of nearly €2 million (£1.5 million).

The wall and ceiling paintings in the house - discovered in the 1960s by the Italian archeologist, Gianfilippo Carrettoni - are in vivid red, blue and ochre. They include a small study, believed to have been Augustus's private retreat...

Some decorations on the walls and vaulted ceilings were found intact, while others have been pieced together from fragments. In one room, dubbed the Room of the Pines, the walls are painted to represent yellow columns.

In another, known as the Room of the Masks, a wall is painted like a stage, with narrow side doors standing ajar, comic masks peering through small windows and painted garden vistas beyond.

Visitors will enter the rooms in small groups to avoid damage to the delicate frescoes, restored after 20 years of excavation and conservation at the site by a team led by Irene Jacopi, the archaeologist in charge of the Palatine Hill.

Angelo Bottini, superintendent of archeology for Rome, said that a new combined ticket would provide access to the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, and the Palatine Hill, including the house of Augustus.

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