Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Getty Villa to Present Apollo from Pompeii: Investigating an Ancient Bronze

Unknown, Apollo as an Archer (The Apollo Saettante), 100 BC- AD79. Medium: Bronze. Dimensions: Object: H: 147 x W: 55 x D: 114 cm (57 7/8 x 21 5/8 x 44 7/8 in.) Accession No. VEX.2011.1.1 Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompei, Naples, Italy, 5629.

LOS ANGELES, CA (AP).- After eighteen months of analysis, conservation, and re-stabilization, the bronze statue of Apollo Saettante (Apollo as an Archer) from Pompeii will go on view at the Getty Villa from March 2 to September 12, 2011 in the exhibition Apollo from Pompeii: Investigating an Ancient Bronze. Providing a behind-the-scenes look at this rare treasure, the special six-month exhibition presents the results of the first full study of this ancient sculpture.

Originally located in the Temple of Apollo in Pompeii, the Apollo Saettante was discovered in fragments centuries after it was buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79. The bulk of the figure was unearthed in June 1817 just north of the Forum. A year later, in October 1818, veteran soldiers hunting a fox near the ancient city walls stumbled across some of the statue’s still-missing parts. The Apollo was one of the first major bronzes to be found at Pompeii, and was subsequently reassembled and displayed in the Real Museo Borbonico in Naples.

The conservation of the Apollo Saettante at the Getty Villa is the result of an important collaboration between the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples, as part of a broad cultural exchange agreement made in 2007 between the Italian Ministry of Culture and the Getty Museum. This exhibition marks the Apollo Saettante’s first showing in the United States, and complements the Villa’s collection of ancient works from Greece, Rome, and Etruria. Following its exhibition in Los Angeles, the statue will be returned to Naples, where the Getty's conservation efforts will ensure its stability for generations.

The Apollo Saettante arrived in Los Angeles on loan for study and conservation treatment in 2009, together with the Statue of an Ephebe (Youth) as a Lampbearer, which is currently on view in the Basilica at the Getty Villa.

“This project has provided us an unprecedented opportunity,” said Erik Risser, an assistant conservator of antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum and co-curator of the exhibition. “Large bronzes rarely survive from antiquity, and the chance to conduct a thorough investigation into the Apollo Saettante has brought to light its rich and complex history.”

A variety of approaches, including archival research, X-radiography, ultra-violet photography, and endoscopic examination, have provided important new information regarding both the techniques used to make the statue in antiquity, and also the methods used to restore it in the nineteenth century. The investigations extended to analyses of the metal alloy composition, the pigments on the surface, and even of the types of bolts used in the re-assembly, all to answer questions about previous restoration efforts.

Apollo from Pompeii: Investigating an Ancient Bronze presents the results of these investigations, displaying art-historical, technical, and scientific evidence side by side in order to demonstrate the range of methods used during the study of the statue at the Getty Villa. Special features include the discovery of a large void in the statue’s back, which indicates that the method of its ancient manufacture was highly unusual, and the identification of two different phases of restoration. An interactive touch-screen display in the exhibition will provide visitors with the opportunity to explore the statue. This interactive feature will also be available on the Web at

Alongside select examples of ancient bronze sculpture from the Getty Museum’s Antiquities collection and a series of archival drawings and documents from the Getty Research Institute, the exhibition will also feature a bronze statue of Artemis, the sister piece to the Apollo Saettante. The two faced one another in the Temple of Apollo at Pompeii, and the inclusion of the Artemis, also on loan from the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples, will provide a unique opportunity to develop and extend the discoveries that have been made in examining the Apollo.

This exhibition follows a series of Getty Villa exhibitions devoted to restoration and conservation, including The Hope Hygeia: Restoring a Statue’s History (2008), Fragment to Vase: Approaches to Ceramic Restoration (2008-2009), and Reconstructing Identity: A Statue of a God from Dresden (2009-2010), as well as early excavations in the Bay of Naples (The Herculaneum Women and the Origins of Archeology, 2007).

The exhibition is also one in a series of Italian collaborations that have brought important works of art to the Getty Museum, beginning in June 2009 with the display of the Chimaera of Arezzo in partnership with the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Florence. The Getty also has long-term agreements with the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples, and the Sicilian Ministry of Culture and Sicilian Identity, for exhibitions over the coming years.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Two More Walls Collapse in Crumbling Pompeii (Reuters Article)

Here is an article from Reuters this morning about further collapses yesterday in Pompeii. Heavy rains are taking their toll this year and only goes to show how fragile the ancient city is. It is good to see UNESCO getting involved.

(Reuters) - Two walls crumbled at the ruins of Pompeii Wednesday, the latest of four collapses in a month at the 2,000-year-old Roman-era site whose decay has become an embarrassment for Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's government.

A statement from Pompeii's archaeological superintendent department said the collapse involved an area two metres (yards) high and three metres wide of the wall along one of the site's main streets, the Via Stabiana.

A small chunk of a side room in the "House of the Small Lupanar," which was not open to the public, also fell, the statement said, adding both collapses were probably due to the heavy rains of the last few days.

Tuesday, a section of a modern retaining wall in the "House of the Moralist" crumbled and on November 6 the "House of the Gladiators" collapsed, shining a spotlight on the decay of the ancient city buried by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D.

Archaeologists, commentators and opposition politicians have accused Berlusconi's government of neglect and mismanagement of the UNESCO world heritage site, which has long been plagued by poor maintenance and lack of funds.

Culture Minister Sandro Bondi, who faces a no-confidence motion over the issue, says he is not to blame.

"Between September 2003 and February 2010 there have been 16 collapses at Pompeii -- so you see they don't just happen when the center-right is in government," he told Corriere della Sera Wednesday.

The Paris-based United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization said it would send a team of experts on Thursday to investigate the state of the archaeological site.

"This reactive monitoring mission will seek to identify potential threats to other structures at the site and possible measures, including the implementation of legal and management provisions, to avoid any further incidents," the U.N. agency said in a statement.

Pompeii was inscribed on UNESCO's list of world heritage sites in 1997.

(Reporting by Antonella Cinelli; Additional reporting by Leigh Thomas in Paris; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

Monday, November 29, 2010

King Tut comes to Melbourne

As we start to wind down both the school and university years its time to look forward to what the past has to offer next year.

Probably one of the biggest announcements for teachers of ancient history here in Oz was the announcement that the King Tut: Golden Age of the Pharaohs exhibit is coming to the Melbourne Museum in 2011. The museum is not a stranger to fantastic travelling exhibitions having hosted both the Pompeii and Titanic exhibitions recently. The king Tut exhibit is a massive undertaking in terms of size and the Melbourne Museum is one of the few museums in Australia capable of holding it.

This is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity for many (particularly our students) and one that teachers should consider taking their students to see. For those who want a behind the scenes look at the exhibit, National Geographic recently aired a special about the US tour of the exhibit and how it is put together.

The Melbourne Museum has an official exhibit website that everyone will find useful.
The URL is listed here

From the website comes the following:


For the first time in Australia's history, the record-breaking Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs exhibition visits Melbourne for its only Australian stop before Egypt's treasures return to Cairo. Part of the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces season, revel in the splendour of Ancient Egypt as you view a dazzling array of possessions unearthed from Tutankhamun's tomb. See Tutankhamun's golden canopic coffinette and the crown found on his head when the tomb was discovered.

Photo: Family viewing model ship for river travel

Learn about the extraordinary discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb and the belief and burial processes of Ancient Egypt. View results from the latest scientific testing conducted on Tutankhamun's mummy and what it is telling researchers about his life and death. More than seven million visitors have attended the exhibition in Europe and America.

So, as you plan for your students next year, try fit this in. Miss it and you will definitely regret it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Rome warns of more Pompeii collapses

Rome – Further unique relics from the Roman town of Pompeii are in danger of collapse, Italy's culture minister warned on Sunday – following the collapse of the famous "Gladiator's House" this weekend.

Frescoes from the 2 000 year-old Roman building "can probably be restored", Sandro Bondi insisted.

But Bondi also warned that unless urgent work is carried out, other archaeological treasures in Pompeii could share the same fate as the Gladiators' House.

The 40-square-metre edifice was used by gladiators to train before going to fight in a nearby amphitheatre.

First reports suggested that water infiltration following recent heavy rains may have caused the ground to shift causing the collapse of the roof, part of the walls and its facade.

Disgrace for Italy

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano has described the incident as a "disgrace for Italy".

Critics, including several experts, say the upkeep of many of Italy's heritage sites, including the Colosseum and Pompeii, has become impossible by funding cuts made by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's government.

"If (I) knew for certain that I was responsible for what has happened (in Pompeii) then I would resign," Bondi said, speaking during a visit to inspect the damage at the site.

Bondi suggested the upkeep of the Pompeii has been mismanaged. Only half of the funds allocated in 2009 were actually spent, he revealed.

Pompeii was destroyed in 79AD by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius that killed thousands of people and buried the city in six metres of volcanic ash.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Collapse in Pompeii

Hi everyone,

woke up this morning to this news from Pompeii. It highlights the fragile and unpredictable state of the ancient site and is becoming a rather sad and fairly regular occurance in the scavi...

Italian officials say ancient house used by gladiators in Pompeii has collapsed
By The Associated Press (CP)

ROME — A 2,000-year-old house in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii, which was once used by gladiators to train before combat, collapsed Saturday, officials said.

The site was closed at the time and nobody was injured, but the collapse underscored a controversy over the poor state of Pompeii, one of Italy's main tourist attractions.

The office of Pompeii's archaeological superintendent said the collapse occurred Saturday at around 6 a.m. (0500 GMT). Attendants opening the site saw the collapse about an hour later.

The house, called by the Latin name "Schola Armaturarum Juventis Pompeiani," was closed to the public, and could only be seen from the outside, and it was not considered at risk of collapse, officials said.

Situated on Pompeii's main street, the site was quickly cordoned off.

Antonio Varone, director of Pompeii's excavations, told the ANSA news agency that officials were trying to "preserve up to the last fragment of the 'Schola Armaturarum.'"

There was no official word on possible causes. News reports said water infiltration following heavy rains in the past days might be the cause.

The 430-square-foot (40-square-meter) space was used by gladiators to train before going to fight in a nearby amphitheatre, as well as by other athletes. It was also a storehouse for weapons and armour.

Pompeii was destroyed in A.D. 79 by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius that killed thousands of people and buried the city in 20 feet (six meters) of volcanic ash. But the ash also helped preserve Pompeii's treasures, providing precious information about what life was like in the ancient world.

The gladiators' house was believed to have been built near the end of Pompeii's life. It was partially destroyed during World War II, and the roof and some of the walls had been rebuilt.

The Culture Minister, Sandro Bondi, said some frescoes on the lower walls may have been preserved.

Italy has long grappled with its vast cultural and archaeological heritage, amid chronic shortage of funds, negligence and vandalism. Officials have had difficulty preserving Pompeii, which is visited by over 2 million people every year.

Only last month, Italy's most influential paper, Corriere della Sera, ran an editorial headlined "The humiliation of Pompeii" in which it said the cement works were damaging the ruins and that the last commissioner had ended his mandate in June.

Bondi called for greater funds for Pompeii, while the opposition was quick to blame the government.

Copyright © 2010 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mistake in this years HSC paper

Reports have now started hitting the media about a mistake in this years paper in the Pompeii and Herculaneum section. The mistake is a factual one and I am sure easily picked up by teachers who went over the paper post exam. Students should not be overly concerned though as markers will be told to take this into account when marking the paper and any continuation of the error in the student responses ignored and not penalised. This is how HSC marking happens.In reviewing the question there is more than likely no chance that the mistake actually affected any responses as the question it referred to did not require a specific answer to Pompeii or Herculaneum.

Below however is a story in the Sydney Morning Herald about the error.

Trouble erupts over HSC exam error

Heath Gilmore and Anna Patty
October 27, 2010

ANCIENT history students are the victims of a Higher School Certificate exam mistake, aptly - and literally - known as Herculaneum Gate.

In 2008 HSC examiners in their annual post-mortem upbraided students who confused the two towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Advertisement: Story continues below Two years later the examiners are accused of making the same error in a compulsory question posed to 12,269 students.

In last Friday's exam, students were asked about inscriptions from a cemetery excavated at Herculaneum.

But a cemetery has never been found at the Herculaneum archaeological site.

The inscriptions come from tombs at Pompeii, near the town's Herculaneum Gate.

Kathryn Welch, a senior lecturer in the department of classics and ancient history at the University of Sydney, said the mistake would have limited answers on one aspect in particular.

It describes a public official with a career that was perfectly normal in Pompeii, but not in Herculaneum.

''This will have impeded the students' realisation that they could have talked about politics in Pompeii on which they were probably better prepared,'' Dr Welch said.

''And, sadly, the better prepared the student was on Pompeii, the more they will have hesitated to apply their information to Herculaneum.''

Brian Brennan, an ancient historian who has led school tours to both sites, said angry teachers had contacted him over the mistake.

Both Roman towns were buried when Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD79.

''To the outsiders it may appear insignificant,'' he said. ''However, we wouldn't accept such mistakes in other papers like English or maths.

''It's a question about the credibility of the HSC paper and the board which oversees it. This mistake is basic. The teachers deserve better and they complain and complain and get rebuffed each time.''

Jennifer Lawless, the NSW Board of Studies inspector for history, said yesterday the Herculaneum reference was a factual error. But she said the incorrect location would have little impact on the students, who were asked to deal with evidence within the inscriptions.

She denied there had been errors in papers for the past three years, saying some facts presented were the subject of academic dispute known to students.

A Board of Studies spokeswoman said one complaint had been received about the ancient history paper this year. She said neither students nor teachers had made complaints about the 2009 or 2008 papers.

The spokeswoman said the mistake was unfortunate after an eight-month checking process.

''With all those processes there are sometimes errors,'' she said. ''When we find an error, the chief examiner is contacted and we evaluate how it might affect student responses.

''Markers are briefed so they are aware of it and gauge whether student responses have been affected. The bottom line is we want to make sure students aren't disadvantaged.''

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Good Luck 2010 HSC students

Wishing all those students sitting the Ancient History HSC paper tomorrow, best wishes.
It's almost over.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A day to remember

‎1931 years ago today, Vesuvio decided to awaken. Thus began a journey that brings me back to Pompeii each year. In those quiet places you can here the ghosts of Pompeii, I wish I was there today to be able to hear them.

Here's to you my home away from home, may you last another 1000 years and may the stories that you hold continue to be heard by those who will listen.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Love Among Pompeii’s Ruins Extends to Dogs (from the New York Post)

Published: July 15, 2010

(An adoption project helps find homes for stray dogs like Sallustius in Pompeii, Italy.)

POMPEII, Italy — One of Pompeii’s most famous mosaics is of a leashed dog with the warning “cave canem,” or beware of the dog.
That message had become all too appropriate in recent years, as visitors to the city buried by Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79 could attest. Droopy dogs wandering forlornly along ancient streets were a common sight here. Fights could erupt at a moment’s notice, over females in heat or territory, but mostly over food. There were isolated cases of dogs attacking people. More commonly, people were scared, because the dogs tended to travel in packs, tracking tour groups in the hope of scoring tasty treats.

When the Italian government declared a state of emergency for Pompeii in 2008, Culture Minister Sandro Bondi cited the strays as among the principal problems, along with illegal tour guides, inadequate washroom facilities and general neglect of the site.
But all that began to change last November, when administrators at the ruins introduced a project to promote the adoption of stray dogs from Pompeii.
On its Web site, the project is rendered as (C)Ave Canem. Giacomo Bottinelli, the coordinator of the project, acknowledged that the Latin was not correct. “It should be Ave Canis” — for Hail Dog — “but we didn’t want to get into anything too complicated,” said Mr. Bottinelli, who studied classical philology in college.
During the past six months, 22 dogs that had been living in the ruins have been adopted. Several more are waiting for a home.
Sallustius “is so sweet,” Mr. Bottinelli said of the 1-year-old red mongrel that never strayed far from his side. “But no one’s wanted him yet.”
Before the project started, Sallustius risked the same lonely fate as the other 70,000 dogs that the Italian Antivivisection League estimates roam the streets of the surrounding Campania region. Beyond those dogs, about 9,000 are housed in local pounds, according to 2009 Health Ministry Statistics.

“The problem of stray dogs is common in all of southern Italy,” said Mr. Bottinelli, who is also the Antivivisection League’s national director for adoptions. “Unfortunately, much of the population does not know about microchips, and they aren’t used to neutering their pets.”
Though official numbers are hazy, the Antivivisection League believes that some 135,000 animals are abandoned in Italy each year, usually during the summer, adding to the country’s stray population of more than 3 million, most of them cats.

But Pompeii has its own particularities.
More than two million tourists — potential food dispensers to dogs — visit the site each year. And every May and October, thousands of pilgrims come on foot to Pompeii to pray at the Sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary, which is just five minutes from the ruins. For reasons that remain obscure, many dogs are left behind when the pilgrims depart, Mr. Bottinelli said.
Illegal dog fights organized by the Camorra, the main organized crime gang here, are also common, creating an added risk for abandoned dogs. All these factors make for “critical problems in Pompeii,” Mr. Bottinelli said.
The dogs in his program get a complete medical checkup, including vaccines, and are neutered. They also receive a microchip implant that registers them in a national data bank. Only after all that can they be adopted.
“The aim is to control the stray population with the dogs’ well-being in mind,” said Roberto Scarcella, the veterinarian responsible for the adoption project. “It’s a cheaper alternative to putting them in a cage in the city pound.”

The ancient names given to the dogs — Vesonius, Diomedes or Mulvia, for example — are intended to reflect the dogs’ provenance, but the adoptive families are free to change them.
Last January, Petty Officer First Class Michael Zdunkawicz of the United States Navy, who works at the NATO base in Naples, adopted a black Labrador retriever from Pompeii. The dog was called Lucius, “but that sounded too much like the devil for me, and he’s everything but the devil,” said Petty Officer Zdunkawicz during a telephone interview. “So we renamed him Benedicto, after the pope.”
The adoption took about a month, he said, and volunteers from Pompeii made sure that his living quarters in Naples were suitable. (The adoption process is rigorous, with extensive vetting of the prospective families.)

Arguably, the excavation site at Pompeii has far more serious problems than strays.
Last month, the Italian government announced the end of the state of emergency, but much remains to be done. Many houses are still closed to the public; some recent restorations done under the aegis of the government-appointed emergency commissioner have been criticized; and concerns have been raised about transforming Pompeii into a money-making operation at the expense of protecting its archaeological wealth.

Still, the success of the dog adoption program, which costs a little more than $100,000, mostly for medical bills, suggests that small battles can be won. The project officially ends this summer, but local volunteers have been trained to take over. It is a necessity because new strays arrive all the time.
“The other side of the coin is that if you want to abandon your dog, you bring it to Pompeii because someone will take care of it,” said Pasquale Riso, a local veterinarian and a volunteer at the site. “So some people may try to take advantage of the situation.”

A version of this article appeared in print on July 16, 2010, on page A11 of the New York edition.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Field Week 1 Journal entry 1: The Pompeiian Forum

The Pompeiian Forum

Our first activity on site this week was an orientation tour of the scavi for newcomers. This gave us a chance to look at the forum area, an area we would also get a more detailed look at with a lecture by John Dobbins in Week 3. As such I have conbined information from both to give students and followers of the blog an overview of the forum.

For some time, scholars have argued over the nature of the forum area. many have argued that it was of an earlier Samnite construction phase within the city or Etruscan in nature. The Pompeii Forum Project under the leadership of Dobbins for many years in the 1990's worked and excavated to uncover the true nature of the forum and its use of space. The forum project's findings were somewhat revolutionary to those pumped out by excavators for many many years. The archaeological evidence which included excavation and measurement of structures and the analysis of both Roman and Etruscan units of measurement, concluded quite conclusively that the forum of Pompeii, as it was in AD79, was indeed a Roman forum. It is now suggested that after the Roman colonisation of the city they found a pre-forum type space. It was there in this space probably used for the town markets and also gatherings and meetings that the Romans added their own traditions to reorganise and further define the space into the forum that was Roman in nature. As Dobbins explained; "they made it grand and implanted their institutions and structure."

This years visit to the forum area has a new feel to it. A feel that has not existed for 15 years. In an effort to accomodate Japanese tourists who were annoyed at the small dust whirlwinds that could be whipped up by the afternoon breezes in the forum, the SAP, 15 years ago fenced off the forum space and planted grass. This forced tourists into the outside walkways around the forum and some luxurious grass was grown and stopping those dust whirl winds. This year, as part of an attempt to reinvigorate the scavi, the fence has been removed and the space returned to the people. The forum area is again how the Roman's intended. Slowly the grass that remains is disappearing and marble paving stones that still exist can be seen.

The oldest sanctuary/ religious space the Romans found in Pompeii was that of the Sanctuary of Apollo. Southern Italy was a part of the Greek colonial region known as Magna Graecia and Hellenistic culture had also heavily influenced some of the Italic cultures such as the Etruscans. The sanctuary was located in the oldest part of the city next to the central "forum" space. The Romans respected the religious space adding an alter in the temple area. Roman religious influence was also quickly made part of the city with the old Temple of Zeus reincarnated as the Temple to the Capitoline Triad; Jupiter, Juno and Minerva, and sat at the head of the newly restructured Roman forum area.

The Temple of Vespasian (probably earlier dedicated to Augustus) also became an important religious space within the forum.

It seems every Roman city, including Pompeii, needs to be a little Rome with a little Roman forum.
Frank Brown, architect and historian, was quoted by Dobbins as saying that the architecture of the Romans is the art of shaping space around ritual; religious (the Gods), the community and the family. All roman archiecture can be viewed in this way.

Go away now and find a map of the Roman forum. Label or become familiar with the space/ structures and their function. The forum is the civic, religious and economic centre of the city. It also supported social gatherings and events.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Field Journal Week One Pre-amble

Hi all.
After sitting here trying to overcome poor internet connection and 30+ degree heat I have decided that apart from posting various discussion starters or activities I will also post a more detailed journal of both week 1 and week 2's activities. In that I will include the discussion starters etc for those students and teachers following the blog. I will also include my "Ampitheatre" lecture given to the Pompeii Food and Drink team on site last Friday (now I have to put my notes together in some sort of order). My other hassle is trying to convert photos taken in RAW to JPG to place in here.
The weather in Pompeii so far has been interesting. Week 1 was rather mild and cool for Pompeii at this time of year and a dip in the hotel pool was quite chilly for a few days. However week 2 changed all that and the usual 30+ degree temperatures have come back with a vengeance making work hot and sticky from the early morning outset.
Again I load up each morning with sunscrean and plenty of water, a major necessity on an archaeological project in hot conditions. I already can tell that week 3 will continue with the hot temperatures.
The team has been a little unsettled this season with many changes of volunteer team members who are here for one week or two rather than the full 3 week season. This has allowed for interaction with more people and that is great although orientating them for work has been tougher. I guess on the upside was the fact that I was asked to take a staff position in week 1 of the season. I hope to have a chance to lead part of the team again in the future, as it felt good to have been given more responsibility within the project and the thought that the Project directors, in particular Dr Betty Jo Mayeske, had confidence to ask me was wonderful.
As I write this introduction for this field season we are getting ready for new team arrivals ahead of our team meetings this afternoon that begin the 3rd and final week here. Lunch will again no doubt be at the Little Paradise within the scavi gates...they have nice panini and refreshing granita's. Time for lunch and a swim and I will begin posting the Week 1 journal this afternoon.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

New vs Old. Right or wrong?

Information and discussion starter number two for those back home watching this and thinking about the HSC. A visit to the large theatre in Pompeii drew a gasp from this archaeologist and a number of others with me. The question is asked; is it right to restore an ancient structure to the point of it no longer retaining its ancient characteristics? When does restoration become reconstruction so that modern use becomes more important than the information that can be garnered from the ancient structure?

The ancient theatre has now been restored to the point of being able to be used for modern concerts and such, making Pompeii more accessible and attractive to the tourists, and I guess more usable for the locals.

But is it right?

Two articles of law governing restoration of ancient structures in the city seem to have been ignored. What do you think?

Have a look at the new images below and compare them to photos you may find of the structure pre restoration (2010).

What is this?

Hi guys,

hope my students are awake and ready to do a little research. Today while working in one of the houses I came across an interesting object. I'll post a pic and describe it. It was an oval like stone object with evidence of two bronze handles. What could this be? If you have an idea or can locate some information please post it in the comments. It is a rather unique household object that I haven't come across before (doesn't mean it wasn't common).

Have fun looking.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

We're Here: Pompeii Food and Drink field season begins

Hello all, e set up to view the blog for their HSC revision.
Well we are here and have officially started our work this season, all be it just the pre scavi team meetings.
This years work will be done under interesting conditions, with no less than 3 Superintendants since last season and a fourth on the way. Added to this was news in the last couple of weeks that the state of emergency that has existed with regards to Pompeii has been lifted. What all this means is anyones guess, however, I tend to think conspiracy theories and see a new era approaching the scavi, full of new tourist $$ on the back of some new archaeological work and restoration that is hard to justify. Who knows..
Tomorrow we begin work.

Friday, June 11, 2010

2010 Field Season is here

Hi everyone, the year has just flown by and my 2nd field season with the Pompeii Food and Drink Project has arrived. In a weeks time I will be on a flight to Italy and we have our first team meeting on Sunday June 20.

That first team meeting is important not only to give out and discuss the aims of the project this season but also to meet and get to know other team members. Although many of the principal staff remain the same and there are returning team members also, there will be a few new team members this season who have signed on for the chance to work behind the scenes in the ancient city. The team meeting also includes our OH&S briefing where the plan of evacuation will be outlined should Vesuvius decide to "go active" on us.

If you are one of my students reading this make sure you have joined the blog as a follower, I love to see your smiling avatar posted in the followers column. If you are just a curious passer by, follow the blog as well....I hope to have something both informative and entertaining here. For my students, log into the blog at least each Wednesday and Saturday for an activity based on my work here.

As well as a couple of activities each week for students studying the Vesuvian cities I aim to have a whole heap of information on here from this years season. The group will be working from the depths of Region I and II in the city and this season I know we will be working in at least two famous houses/ areas of the region; The Garden of the Fugitives and The House of Julia Felix. Can't wait. I will also be bringing you some up to date information from current excavation work in Herculaneum as HCP's lovely Sarah Court has arranged permits for some special access to the site.
For those interested in the current excavation and research activities in Pompeii of other teams I hope to be able to visit a couple of these while I am there. The Italian excavation work at the House of the Chaste Lovers has caused a bit of a stir so that will be one port of call for sure.

Finally, our downtime usually leads to further adventures within the city or out in other areas of the region. I have been trying to plan the weekend adventures in advance but like all good things, I think I will have more fun and adventure to share if we are spontaneous.

So look out for lots of photos, hopefully some video and for students some activities to help you revise for your HSC with up to date information and photographic sources. The field season reports will begin in just over a week.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

A little Raunchy for students...but important aspects of Pompeii's History none the less

Pompeii's X-rated art will titillate a new generation

By Michael Day in Milan

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Pompeii's saucy heyday might be a little behind it but the ancient city's power to intrigue, delight and even titillate remains intact – as proved by the hundreds of visitors queuing this weekend for an adults-only viewing of its most-erotic artwork.

The famous wall paintings in its ancient suburban baths will be spotlighted in a special night-time "sound-and-light" show, which say the organisers, will give visitors "their best view yet" of the pictures, which leave very little to the imagination.

Experts say the 16 paintings, depicting group and oral sex, have no equivalent at any other ancient Roman site; as such they have fuelled much debate since they were discovered 50 years ago. Some historians believe they were painted to advertise services on offer at the baths, or that they were merely a way of reminding bathers which locker they put their clothes in.

As an end note, I was able to spend some time in Pompeii's Suburban baths last field season studying the artwork and giving some thought as to their function and purpose.
The paintings are indeed striking and provocative. As the article mentions, they have indeed fuelled some debate amongst scholars in recent times. No evidence exists for an attached brothel to the baths and there is no precedent for such artwork to exist simply as a reminder for the baths clients to remember where they left their things.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Press Release - New Discoveries at Taposiris Magna

This article comes to this blogsite thanks to the website of Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Egyptian Antiquities.

Press Release - New Discoveries at Taposiris Magna

Archaeologists have unearthed a huge headless granite statue of an as yet unidentified Ptolemaic king at the temple of Taposiris Magna, 45 km west of Alexandria. The joint Egyptian-Dominican team is supervised by Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA).

The recently discovered royal statue, possibly depicting Ptolemy IV. (Photo: SCA)Egypt’s Culture Minister Farouk Hosni announced the find, adding that the mission has also located the original gate of the temple as well as evidence that the temple, dedicated to the god Osiris, was built according to traditional ancient Egyptian design.

Dr. Hawass said that the mission, which works in collaboration with the Dominican archaeologist Kathleen Martinez, found that the statue is very well preserved and might be one of the most beautiful statues carved in the ancient Egyptian style. The statue represents the traditional shape of an ancient Egyptian king wearing collar and kilt. Hawass believes that the statue may belong to king Ptolemy IV.

Hawass said that the temple’s original gate is located on the temple’s western side along with limestone foundation stones that once outlined the entrance. One of these foundations, explained Hawass, bears traces indicating that the entrance was lined with a series of sphinx statues similar to those of the pharaonic era.

Dr. Martinez began excavation work at Taposiris Magna five years ago in an attempt to locate the tomb of the well-known lovers, Queen Cleopatra VII and Mark Antony, as evidence implies that Queen Cleopatra was not buried inside her tomb built beside her royal palace, which is now under the eastern harbor of Alexandria.

Hawass pointed out that in the past five years, the mission has discovered a collection of headless royal statues, which may have been subjected to destruction during the Byzantine and Christian eras. A collection of heads featuring Queen Cleopatra were also uncovered along with 24 metal coins bearing Cleopatra’s face. A necropolis was also discovered behind the temple that contained many Graeco-Roman style mummies. Early investigations, said Hawass, show that the mummies were buried with their faces turned toward the temple, which means it is likely the temple contained a significant royal personality.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Problem with Vesuvius: A volcano waiting to explode

Here is a recent article sent to me. It was posted on a news service online.

Italy's Civil Protection Agency chief Bertolaso says volcano is Italy's biggest problem. Threat to city affects one million residents.

For the time being, Vesuvius is, as the expert say, dormant. The mighty volcano has not been active since March 1944, when Allied military newsreels documented the soaring lava fountains and the ash showers that killed 26 people.

The 1944 eruption palls in comparison with the destruction of Herculaneum and Pompeii in AD 79 but experts warn that, in terms of Vesuvius’ normal cycle, the return of volcanic activity is long overdue. That’s why preparations are necessary.

The head of the civil protection agency, Guido Bertolaso, said so in no uncertain terms to foreign journalists who asked him for an assessment of Italy’s volcanic risk after the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland. Bertolaso said: “Vesuvius is the biggest civil protection problem we have”. If the volcano became active again, Naples itself would be affected by the eruption. Part of the city could be included among the “red zone” municipalities this year and at least one million residents are reckoned to be affected by the new evacuation plan, almost twice as many as are involved today.
For some weeks, leading scientists from the Vesuvian observatory, including Marcello Martini and Gianni Macedonia, from the Federico II university in Naples, and Professor Franco Barberi from the major risks commission have been analyzing possible scenarios and updating in progress emergency plans. Bertolaso pointed out: “Currently, there are 18 municipalities in the red zone, officially with 500,000 residents, but in fact there are 650-700,000 people living there. A volcanic explosion would produce a column of smoke and lapilli up to 20 kilometers high and the area affected by falling ash could extend from Salerno to the Lazio border”.
Any new eruption would be preceded by earthquakes “with effects comparable to those at L’Aquila.” “There will be a week at most, more likely only three or four days”, in which to evacuate everyone before the disaster strikes. However, these are not scenarios “that should be taken as gospel”. Prevention, not alarmism, is the watchword. In contrast, Bertolaso was highly critical of the Campania regional law (“a total failure”), which sought to encourage residents to move out of the danger zone around Vesuvius.

“In the event, many people built homes in safe zones with public money and rented out the ones in the red zone”. According to Bertolaso, there is only one solution to the problem of unlicensed building today: “What’s there is there. But anything new that goes up must be demolished”.

It seems that after the Icelandic eruption, volcanoes are back on the agenda. Vesuvius apart, monitoring of Italy’s 13 submerged volcanoes in the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Sicilian Channel will soon get under way. “It will take at least two or three years and the budget is ten million euros”, said Bertolaso, who then addressed an appeal to Europe: “The ash cloud-related cost to airlines over the past few days has been estimated at roughly 2.5 billion euros, which rises to three billion if you factor in the impact on tourism. If just one tenth of that sum, say 250 million euros, had been invested in a more advanced radar control system, the emergency could have been managed much more effectively. That’s why I would like to see an international forecasting and prevention network set up for such risks”.

Bertolaso added: “If I had to name the volcano in Italy that is most likely to erupt today, I wouldn’t say Vesuvius. I’d look at the island of Ischia. The last eruption of Mount Epomeo took place in the 14th century and in the intervening years, its cone has risen by 800 meters (almost half a mile). The magma chamber is getting ready to blow”.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Tourism in Pompeii

New Initiatives to provide tourists with an experience in Pompeii have begun in 2010.
It's called PompeiiViva and looks magical.

Pompeii Viva - 2010 Events at the excavations of Pompeii

"Pompei Viva" is the claim for the 2010 program events of Pompeii ruins. It includes an intense schedule of cultural events, theatrical performances and a completely new way to live the city, started in February that will go on throughout the summer season.

The program offer a wide range of activities: “Live” archeological discoveries, multimedia tours, night walks, theme-based routes, special activities for children and kids, theatrical shows at the Teatro Grande and “The Archeoristorante”, a special restaurant where you can find the typical Campania foods and wines.

Activities already programmedFrom February 2010

•Pompeii’s first work site event: the house of Chaste lovers - One of the most beautiful houses (Domus) of the ancient city has been opened to the public.
•Concerts and Ballet from the San Carlo Theatre at the Auditorium.
From March 2010

•Multi-medial visit of the House of Giulio Polibio - One of the best known and most studied houses of Pompeii.
•Pompeii by bike.
•Easy Pompeii - the excavations have now been made accessible to everyone.
•Arts, crafts and professions.
•Pompeii for schools - educational exhibition “Pompeii - 24th August 79 a.D.”
From April 2010

•The Moons of Pompeii - the splendid archaeological site hosts The Moons of Pompeii: guided tours in a mysterious and magical atmosphere.
From May 2010

•Baby Pompeii: activities for families with children of pre-school age.
From June 2010

•The permanent illumination of the excavations - a permanent artistic light system will be the distinctive mark of Pompeii’s night life.
•Archeo- Restaurant - the flavours of the ancient world of Pompeii may be rediscovered at the Archaeo-restaurant situated in the splendid Casina dell’Aquila.
From June to September 2010

•Pompeii returns to the stage: the summer season at the great Theatre - after 15 months of work, the Great Theatre of Pompeii will return to its original splendor

Sunday, April 18, 2010

2010 Field Season approaching

Things just have a way of sneaking up on you when you aren't looking. The field season for Pompeii Food and Drink starts in exactly 9 weeks. Time seems to have flown past this year so far and I am sure I will be in Italy before I know it.

This year I aim to post some useful information and a number of activities and thought provoking discussion questions. I am hoping I can get some video shot whilst on site and while working to give you an idea of what life is like on a day to day basis in the long as I can get tech working over in Pompeii....anybody know where I can hire a cheap satellite vid phone?

With volcano's erupting in Europe I hope its not some sort of chain reaction. Our OHS meeting prior to commencing work will no doubt remind us of the realistic futility of evacuating all 2 million plus people from the Vesuvius neighbourhood, so if it goes up its off to the pub to wait it out.

I'll post some more detail to this years work as soon as I can although I know we will be working in the House of Julia Felix and the Garden of the Fugitives so these will provide excellent case studies.

My students start work on Cleopatra this term, with Pompeii and Sparta now behind us.

I hope you follow my work in Pompeii this season.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

More on Superintendent Position

Again thanks to Sarah Court and Blogging Pompeii for this story. More information on the Superintendecy in Pompeii. Students who look at the role of international organisations and private companies in the management, conservation and restoration of the Vesuvian sites should be interested in some of the information in Sarah's post.

Minister of Culture, Sandro Bondi, has confirmed the interim superintendent of Pompeii with be Proietti until a permanent head of the superintendency can be found.

He also mentioned plans to change the management of the Pompeii superintendency to a foundation following the model used by the Egyptian Museum in Turin which brings together public and private partners. Rumours of this have been going round for a long time, but it was thought that it was off the cards following the Protezione Civile scandal, as the Special Emergency Commissioner (who is from the Protezione Civile) was to be a key player in the foundation. Watch this space for further developments...

Pompeii Superintendent Retires

Thanks to Sarah Court at the HCP and Blogging Pompeii here is some news for students about the new changes in Superintendent in Pompeii. With new Superintendents sometimes come new ideas for management of the site......

The Archaeological Superintendent for Naples and Pompeii, Mariarosaria Salvatore retired at the beginning of the week. No new superintendent has been nominated, and it may be necessary for the Ministry of Culture to organise a public competition to choose one. In the meantime it is being suggested that Giuseppe Proietti (current Superintendent of Rome) will temporarily fill the gap until the end of the month.

More news/speculation in this Italian-language article published in Il Mattino: "Il sovrintendente «Lascio realtà molto difficili». Per la successione a Mariarosaria Salvatore si fa il nome di Proietti"

NOTE: It has been announced that Proietti will hold the temporary position for the next 6 months.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Getty Villa: Reproduction at its best.

Those students who have studied Herculaneum will know of the Villa of the Papyri. The Villa, rumoured to have been owned by Julius Caesars father in law, overlooked the ocean prior to the eruption of Vesuvius. Today it has only partially been excavated. A large extent of it still sits under the modern town of Ercolano, water table problems are major issues for that part of the archaeological site and past excavations have been shall we say less than ideal for the preservation of the Villa.
J.P Getty recreated the Villa in its ancient glory and opened it to the public in California in the 1970's. He used the original plans, that were quite detailed and drawn by the early archaeologist excavators of the villa, to recreate this beautiful copy. The J.P Getty Villa has only just been recently renovated and re-opened to the public. It not only has the look of the original Roman Villa but also houses a vast array of ancient art treaures many from Pompeii and Herculaneum that it shares with the public.
Below is a recent article from "The Province". Enjoy.

Getty Villa full of artistic treasures
Architecture high above Pacific Ocean transports visitors
By Jamie Portman, Canwest News Service
Photographs by: Robyn Beck/Getty Images, Getty Images

The Getty Villa has reopened to the public later after an eight-year, $275 million USD renovation.
It's a moment fixed in a distant time, yet you're experiencing it on a cliff high above the Pacific Ocean and modern Los Angeles.

You're plunged back to another millennium, experiencing the architectural beauty of a Roman basilica as it was in the first century, A.D.

Its various features, all of them stunning, immediately compete for your attention: a dramatic barrel-vaulted ceiling with intricate scroll decorations inspired by the Roman baths at Pompeii; a patterned floor recreated from ancient marble -- white, yellow, purple -- and green Egyptian granite; a further orgy of marble -- black, yellow, red, white -- in the Corinthian capitals which top the eight graceful pillars which line each side of this opulent interior.

There's plenty more to notice in this single space, from the delicate onyx panelling which lines the narrow side aisles to the remarkable alabaster windows which bathe the ancient statues of gods and goddesses in a soft light. But the Basilica is only one astonishment amid many.

A visit to the Getty Villa, which reopened in 2006 following a $275 million restoration and expansion, throws up surprises at every turn. The eye-filling Basilica is typical of the spaces that invite you to linger indefinitely. But perhaps the beating heart of the Villa is to be found in the Temple of Herakles which you approach through a modest vestibule. Once you arrive, your senses are immediately assaulted by the colourful marble floor with its alternating triangles, but your attention is ultimately drawn towards the niche at the far end and a and a striking 850-pound marble statue of a nude Hercules, one hand wielding the club with which he slew the Nubian lion, the other clutching the pelt of his quarry.

The statue was unearthed during 18th century excavations near Pompeii and fell into the hands of Britain's Lansdowne family. Oil billionaire J. Paul Getty purchased it from the Marquis of Lansdowne in 1951, and considered it the most important work of art in his collection -- one which he wished to share with the world.

The Getty Villa is a free attraction, one which draws visitors from tens of thousands of kilometres away. The only outlay required from you is an $8 parking charge, and even that can be waived if you decide to take public transit instead. Once inside, you're plunged into a treasure house of recreated architecture and landscaping which provide a striking setting for more than 1,200 priceless antiquities.

Getty viewed his art collection as a public trust. In 1954, he opened the J. Paul Getty Museum in the ranch house of his 64-acre Malibu estate to showcase a portion of that collection which included Greek and Roman antiquities, 18th century furniture, and European paintings. Four years later, he decided to indulge his obsession with ancient Mediterranean culture by building a Roman-style villa, inspired by the Villa dei Papiri, a luxurious country house buried by the Vesuvius eruption in A.D. 79 and not excavated until the 18th century. This new home for his art opened in 1974 and became a California cultural landmark.

Getty died at the age of 81 in 1976 without every having visited his remarkable creation. But his legacy continued to transform the cultural landscape of a state he loved. He left the museum four million shares of Getty Oil stock, which at the time was worth $700 million, and this led to the decision by the J. Paul Getty Trust to broaden public access to its astonishing holdings by building another museum -- known today as the Getty Center -- as the centrepiece of a 750-acre site in the Santa Monica Mountains overlooking West Los Angeles. When the new Getty Center opened in 1997, its four pavilions featured all the public Getty collections except for the antiquities. The latter would be reserved for a reborn Villa which the trustees envisaged as something unique -- the Western Hemisphere's only museum devoted to Greek, Roman and Etruscan art.

The Getty Center remains a glorious place in its own right, but it's the newly restored Villa which immerses the visitor in the ancient world.

Some critics continue to carp that it constitutes a Disneyfication of museum culture, but Villa administrators have been scrupulous in emphasizing what is authentic and what has been recreated.

For example, the outdoor statues are impeccable copies, but the 23 indoor galleries are restricted to the real thing. Those galleries, devoted to the Getty Trust's priceless permanent collection, are dramatically organized by themes -- including Gods and Goddesses, Monsters, Minor Deities, Women and Children in Antiquity, Athletics, Griffins and Sagas of the Trojan War. Their impact is powerful.

But really, the Villa starts making an impact as soon as you drive through the gates and find yourself moving over flagstones reminiscent of the Roman Empire.

Then, once you park and pass through the entrance pavilion, you're on an ascending museum path which offers tantalizing glimpses down below of an imposing artifact rising out of what appears to be an excavation site.

Then, suddenly and dramatically, you're on a balcony overlooking a magnificent 450-seat reproduction of an outdoor Roman theatre -- where TV star Tyne Daly is appearing this month in a rare staging of Aeschylus's Agamemnon -- and the main entrance to the museum and its pools and gardens. Among the heady delights of the building are its atrium, with its open ceiling and black-and-white mosaic floor; the Inner and Outer Peristyles with their wandering walkways, awesome vistas, sun-drenched pools, terrazzo colonnades, marble fountains tantalizing plant life and dramatic statuary; the dizzying Room of Coloured Marbles; and, of course, the Basilica and the Temple of Herakles. And everywhere there is easy access to the galleries which are located on two levels.

The four gardens offer their own pleasures in aiming to recreate the natural environment of the ancient Mediterranean. The herb garden, for example offers an ancient Roman kitchen garden alive with fruit trees, flowering shrubs and herbs that were used 2000 years ago for cooking and medicine.

The Getty Villa's mission is straightforward -- to foster the study of the classical world and its relationship to other cultures, to expose a wide audience to great works of art, to promote the conservation of antiquities, to encourage scholarly research. But it is also the warmest and most inviting of attractions.

(The Getty Villa is located in the Greater Los Angeles area, at 17985 Pacific Coast Highway, approximately 40 kilometres west of Greater Los Angeles. It is open Thursday to Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free, but there is an $8 parking fee. The Villa can also be reached by public transit on Metro Bus 434. An advance ticket is required and may be booked online at or by phone at 310 440 7300.)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Live Excavations at Pompeii

This news report comes from the Blogging Pompeii blogsite as posted from
Students looking at current projects being undertaken in Pompeii and the role that archaeology plays with both conservation and tourism should take note of the information in this article.

'Live excavation' at Pompeii
Work on House of Chaste Lovers open to public

Visitors to the archaeological site of Pompeii will soon get the chance to observe the complex excavation process involved as it happens.

Excavation and restoration work at the House of the Chaste Lovers, which resumed a few months ago following ten years of neglect, will open to the public from the start of February.
Visitors will be allowed to enter sections of the building and watch archaeologists at work, gaining a deeper understanding of the effort involved in bringing 2,000-year-old remains to light. ''This is a project of immense importance to us,'' said Pompeii's emergency commissioner Marcello Fiori, recalling it was a priority on his works programme, approved by the culture ministry in November. ''These 'open-door' excavations will greatly enrich the opportunities provided by Pompeii. ''They will provide visitors with a different kind of experience, in which they have the chance to observe the fascinating work of archaeologists in action, as well as seeing recently unearthed items in situ''. The site will be protected from damage by glass screens. Interior panels will provide visitors with practical information, while technology will offer a virtual reconstruction of the premises as they probably looked prior to their destruction.
Last week, reports appeared in some newspapers that the House of Chaste Lovers had been seriously damaged after a crane collapsed on top of the site but Pompeii Excavations Director Antonio Varone dismissed these claims. Accusing the media of ''alarmism'', he explained that there had been a ''small landslip that caused no significant damage''.
''Heavy rains led to earth movements in the insula (apartment block) next to that of the House of Chaste Lovers,'' he said.
''This caused the collapse of several meters of the boundary wall, which however contained no frescoes''. The House of the Chaste Lovers takes its name from its elaborate interior wall paintings showing lovers during a feast.
The premises were made up of living quarters and a small bakery opening directly on to the street where the public could buy bread. The bakery contained a large oven with millstones, while archaeologists have discovered the remains of mules, used to transport grain, in a stable at the back of the premises opening onto an alleyway.
Experts have already started reconstructing the garden space, using holes left by the reed markers that once surrounded it. The most recent finds include a large cistern, used to provide water to the bakery, and the remains of building materials, which archaeologists believe were being used to repair damage to the premises caused by a small earthquake not long before Vesuvius erupted. Paint pots, a small furnace, a compass and partially completed wall sketches indicate that the living quarters were also being redecorated at the time of the eruption. ''All this shows again how Pompeian society was lively and active at the time of the disaster,'' concluded Varone.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Pre Field Update 2010

G'day everyone and Happy New Year
2010 promises to be a big year for me and the blogsite.
I have been continuing to post news and information about the Vesuvian cities, and other Ancient History topics that are related to your HSC studies. Where possible I provide suggestions for further research, activities or resources that will be useful for you.
2009 ended with the completion with my BA in Archaeology and Ancient History at Macquarie University and as those who follow this blogsite would be well aware that I spent my first field season as a volunteer archaeological team member in Pompeii with the Pompeii Food and Drink Project. I learned so much from the 3 PI's and the PhD and MA students and archaeologists there about the ancient city from the point of view of an archaeologist in the field. It was an amzing experience and one which I am eager to replicate as I again this year become part of the team in the ancient city.
We are still exactly 6 months to the day away from starting work in Pompeii. My flights are done and I look forward to the pre field information as it is sent about this year's work. I am extremely excited that this year will be 3 weeks in the field and now that I am more prepared for the internet situation in Pompeii I am planning to post more from the site than I did last season...including video perhaps. I would like to make this field work time I am spending at the site as interactive as possible for you so please post me emails or comments to the blogsite that I can work on whilst there.
I am also hoping to put together a HSC study conference for students at my local schools later in the year which will include various panels of experts in the field to speak with students and answer questions. I hope to reproduce some of that here.
I look forward to bringing you as much information as I can to assist in your studies this year.

Graffiti on the Walls of Pompeii

Graffiti is an excellent archaeological source of information for those studying Pompeii. A number of excellent publications including Alison Cooley's Pompeii: A Sourcebook will outline in detail much of the Graffiti found on the walls of the ancient city. Those who have had a chance to go to Sydney University's HSC Study Day's over the past couple of years will have also seen Dr. Peter Keegan speak on the topic.

The information that follows comes from the recent Archaeological Institute of America Conference in Anaheim California (January 2010)

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

How are the needs of tourists catered for in Pompeii

It's been no secret that tourism was dealt a blow in Pompeii with the shutting of the only ammenties building within the walls of the ancient city of Pompeii more than 2 years ago. Problems with the local mafia and tendering processes left tourists without toilets and food within the site.
Today, a report on the ammenities recently opened from the view of a construction company providing the doors for the new Cafeteria.

Ditec automatic doors in the excavations of Pompeii

Boasting over 2 millions visitors a year, the archaeological site of Pompeii is the second most visited archaeological site in the world and has been selected by UNESCO as a world heritage site. Pompeii represents one of the most significant examples of Roman civilization and is like an exceptional open book on artworks, habits, trades and daily life of past civilizations. The city resurfaced after centuries of darkness exactly as it was, when it was suddenly covered by a thick layer of ashes and lava during the devastating eruption of mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.

In this astounding setting, inside the excavations overlooking the "Casa Bacco", right in the heart of the ancient city, a new cafeteria run by Autogrill Spa has been opened. To make it easier for the large flow of tourists to visit this exceptional artistic and cultural heritage, the restaurant has been fitted with the most modern and technologically advanced Ditec automatic doors: the new VALOR model.

Australians in Pompeii

The following article comes out of the University of Queensland. HSC students should note that a number of Australian archaeologists are a part of International teams working in the Vesuvian cities. The contribution of International teams has been invaluable to both the study of Pompeii and Herculaneum as well as pumping research and conservation funds into the ancient sites. Remember also that there is very little actual excavation currently happening in Pompeii.

After reading this article, using your internet resources, look up the contributions of other Australians in the field including Dr's Steven Ellis, Estelle Lazer and Jaye McKenzie- Clarke.

UQ archaeology digs into the life behind Pompeii

Brisbane may be 2000 years and half-a-world away from Pompeii, but it hasn't stopped a UQ archaeologist from digging up some hidden treasures.

Dr Andy Fairbairn, a senior lecturer in archaeology with UQ's School of Social Science, is working on a project looking at the life inside one of the world's most famous dig sites.

“The archaeology at Pompeii has moved on over the last 30 years, away from the big ticket items of the temples and the like to the minutiae of what everyday life was like in the ancient Roman city,” Dr Fairbairn said.

He does this by collecting samples from what would have been the toilets of the day to see the types of food were eaten.

“This type of archaeology is a bit slower than unearthing buildings, but it is very valuable as it allows us to piece together a picture of the economic and social development of the city,” he said.

“Even if we have to go through 2000 year old excrement to do it.”

He said his team of volunteer archaeology students patiently go through hundreds of bags of samples collected in Pompeii, looking for seeds and other plant material to build up a picture of what was being eaten and traded.

“Samples come from an excavation near one of the main entrances to the city led by Australian ex-pat Dr Steven Ellis (Cincinnati, USA), on the way to the theatre and gladiators,” he said.

“And what the excavation is showing so far is that the city was moving away from the production of goods in dispersed cottage industries to more specialised industrial production and trading,” he said.

Dr Fairbairn said while it may seem strange to have an Australian archaeology team working on ancient Roman sites, UQ's reputation in the field was strong, especially in archaeological science.

“Across UQ we have a very strong archaeology group doing work all over the world, including Turkey, India, Africa, Hawaii and Central America” he said.

“Due to the profession being quite small in Australia, we often specialise in a particular area and then collaborate with other groups around the world as appropriate.”

(Taken from the University Of Queensland News webpage 25/11/09)