promoting cultural heritage and conservation

Posts tagged “preservation

Life in the Trenches: Week 3 at the Dig

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Though this past week was only four days to accommodate a (well-deserved) three-day weekend, we jumped into work, comfortable with our designated roles and team coordination. We also welcomed a new team member, Julia Elsey, AIRC archaeology field school veteran and an unofficial Finds Coordinator. As an artifact intern, I work with Julia to clean, document, and organize our finds from this and the past dig seasons. Julia provided our team with a valuable lesson on marble types, (more…)


Conversations on Unlisted 2013 conference for #culturalheritage

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Looking back at our Unlisted 2013 conference, I am proud to say that this year’s conference was our most successful to date.  As in years past, the Unlisted conference brought together academics and professionals in a forum to discuss cultural heritage, with this year’s theme “Conversation for Conservation”, i.e. the necessary dialogue in social media for cultural heritage and ongoing awareness.

Over the past few years, we have chosen to accompany and complement our mission to promote cultural heritage by investing time in social media and video production, as we feel these contemporary forums are integral to education, promotion and sharing messages.  Our objective for Unlisted since the beginning was never to be a strictly academic conference for archaeologists and conservators but rather more out of the box and on the fringe of academia in the hopes of inspiring ideas and opening eyes/ears to a different kind of dialogue, and likewise expand the audience.

With that in mind, this year, we chose to investigate the overlap of cultural heritage and new media in many different and sometimes unfamiliar areas, leading us to encapsulate our (AIRC and Unlisted participants) interests, questions and potential solutions. This year’s conference was shorter than in prior years- a three-hour program that included presentations and roundtable with a filmmaker, a journalist, two photographers, two social media strategists, along with the AIRC itself.

Unlisted 2013 was like viewing cultural heritage through a contemporary and technological kaleidoscope.  Journalist Stephan Faris related our theme to journalism and reportage, while MiBAC’s Giuseppe Ariano discussed the Ministry of Culture’s growing voice and online engagement.  Photographer Sam Horine talked about instantaneous communication via photography and Instagram, citing his work during Hurricane Sandy. Photographer Nicolee Drake also discussed Instagram and the use of imagery in promoting cultural heritage.  Erica Firpo presented AIRC’s social media progress and its focused methods for cultural heritage, whereas I discussed AIRC work in video and photography projects which include Fasti online (Palatine dig), Digging History (AIRC initiavie), MiBAC eduation, and Comune di Roma.  Rose Bonello spoke about her success in engaging communities, finding corporate sponsorship and using technology as an aggregator fueled by passionate storytelling. Most poignant was Brent Huffman as he relayed the power of video film documentary to halt or at least for now retard the destruction of a precious heritage site in Afghanistan.

This year, Unlisted 2013 not only crossed genres –  archaeology, film making and social media- but our dialogue also traversed a variety of platforms outside of the physicality of the conference hall.  Thanks to Marconi University for live streaming, we had conversations via blogs and twitter, and even saw a brief Vine post [username: ThePlanet].   And in the days following the conference, Albert, Sam, Erica, Nicolee and I traveled around Rome and Naples to put this conversation into action through social media outlets and more specifically the hashtag #culturalheritage.  We didn’t invent the tag- cultural heritage has been around forever, but we encourage you to use it when you tweet, tumblr, gram and Vine.  Take a look out posts, feeds, galleries– yes, there is a lot going on but we can make it good.

~Darius Arya, Executive Director

Darius loves to talk about cultural heritage. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram all the time.

Sam


Conversation for Conservation, Unlisted 2013

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We are very excited to announce the theme of our annual Unlisted Conference, “Cultural Heritage in Digital Media: Conversation for Conservation, Sustaining Global Storytelling Online”. As in our past Unlisted conferences, guest presenters include members from mainstream media and Italian heritage representatives and a dynamic group of “outsiders” who will discuss the role of social media in cultural heritage. We are proud to host two established photographers that are successfully using the Instagram platform- Sam Horine and Nicolee Drake. Along side of them will be journalist Stephan Faris and filmmaker Brent Huffman who attracted global attention through his heritage video The Buddhas of Mes Aynak, a threatened site in Afganistan. There will be an online screening of his film prior to the conference start.

AIRC will talk about our own Kickstarter video project, ongoing educational filming in Rome (sites, excavations in cooperation with several local entities), and social action platform ipetition for the endangered site of the “gladiator tomb.” There will also be a number of people speaking that have found success in multiple stakeholder collaborations, including Nexus Mundi Foundation, an organization that has created a roadmap to involve corporate sponsorship, universities, and local communities.

Our objective in bringing this diverse group together is to foster dialogue in the various methods of promoting of cultural heritage, whether directly related to archaeological heritage or not.
PLEASE JOIN US

In Rome: Join us April 18, 4 pm at the Sala Vittoria Colonna on Via Colonna, 11 of Marconi University. The conference will also be simultaneously translated in English and Italian.

Elsewhere: live stream, April 18 4pm Rome (10am EST).

 


What’s in an Archaeologist’s bag?

archaeology gear APSo what exactly does a field archaeologist look like?

For most people, the term “archaeologist” conjures up the image of a stubbly man wearing a button-down shirt with pockets, chinos, a leather jacket, a wide-brimmed hat, a saddle-bag, a bull-whip, and a holster with revolver.

I’ve been working as a field archaeologist in Italy for going on 20 years now, and my appearance has never corresponded to that image—except for the stubble, which I proudly wear most days, and not out of vanity, but because my facial hair grows very slowly. I confess to having a broad-brimmed hat, a gag gift from a friend, but it’s too heavy to wear in the Mediterranean heat. Forget about a leather jacket. The pistol and bull-whip, as instruments for maintaining discipline among the crew, have been replaced by the threat of a low grade and/or no letter of recommendation for grad school.

What does a typical contemporary field archaeologist working under the Mediterranean summer sun look like? My outfit, which is pretty typical, includes:

  • A slightly tattered polo shirt, symbol of my tortured relationship with bourgeois social conventions, which I respect and despise simultaneously (an attitude I call “archaeo chic”)
  • Cargo pants, which allow me to carry truly ridiculous amounts of stuff on my person
  • Sandals, which keep my feet from smelling any worse than they really need to
  • Reinforced work boots, which keep my toes from getting any more crushed than they really need to be
  • A backpack, symbol of my lifelong dedication to scholarly pursuits (or my inability to grow up and get a real job, depending on one’s point of view)

Curious about the cargos?

  • Loose change for buying coffee during the day (I don’t make brilliant discoveries without caffeine)
  • Chewing gum with xylitol (I don’t make brilliant discoveries when distracted by food particles in my mouth or bad breath)
  • A packet of heavy-duty tissues (I don’t make brilliant discoveries with a stuffed up nose)
  • Polarized Ray-Ban sunglasses (I don’t make brilliant discoveries in blinding sunlight)
  • The key to the lock on the equipment shed (no one makes brilliant discoveries—or any discoveries, period—without access to tools)
  • Two cell phones: an iPhone 3GS that keeps me connected to the world (and my sanity), and a bare-bones model that keeps me connected to colleagues and students (and rings continuously…)
  • A mini Swiss Army Knife, for defense against irate colleagues and students

Double-strapping the backpack:

  • Clipboard with pen
  • Water bottle
  • Sunscreen
  • Baseball cap
  • Trowel
  • Cut-proof work gloves
  • Reserve pen
  • Bottle of non-aspirin painkillers
  • Asthma inhaler
  • Hand-sanitizing lotion
  • Reserve packet of heavy-duty tissues
  • Digital camera for capturing what used to be known as “Kodak moments”
  • Pocket flashlight for exploring the many underground spaces of Ostia Antica

Possible addition to next year’s gear list: a hip-flask. I suspect that I might make more brilliant discoveries with one. At the least, I won’t notice the phone ringing so much…

~A.P.


Make History with us: Kickstarter and Gladiator Tomb iPetition Update

Happy New Year!  2013 has already started to ring in fierce! With forty-eight hours left in our Kickstarter campaign “Digging History”, we are proud to share the news that we have 63 backers and have surpassed our target goal.  In fact, we are more than pleased (does “jumping up and down” give you a good idea?) with the amount of support we have had over the past four weeks- donations from every level and inspiring group of people spreading the word about our Kickstarter campaign on the streets and through the airwaves.  Reaching our goal of $10,000 in three weeks, and then surpassing it (we have now raised over $12,000), is a wonderful feeling!  Our feeling is that making history happens by the community, and as we move forward to outlining and organizing the production of Digging History, we look forward to acknowledging you- our supporters and donors.

What comes next?  Well, before we can really roll up our sleeves, we have a couple of days left to continue to raise funds.  We are pushing hard and reaching out (and asking readers those of you who have already donated) to do the same.   More funding will allow us to produce more (and that’s the true goal), to create a fun, accessible hub online that will truly serve to excite and teach K-12, colllege, professional, and the public at large about Rome.  Along with donating, another way to support our projects is also by spreading the word about what we do– in particular, our ipetition: Save the Gladiator Tomb– the quick update is that we have over 3000 signatures as we steadfastly approach our goal of 5000.  Please keep get your friends, friends of friends and acquaintances to sign.  Thank you to the following for their great mentions of these two projects:  Katie Parla of Parla Food, Unamericanaaroma.com, Italiannotebook.com, CNN and Ben Wedeman, Fathom Away and Russell Crowe.

~Darius Arya, Executive Director

dar[at]romanculture.org

Kickstarter


Save the Gladiator Tomb, Sign the iPetition

Reblogged from Executive Director Darius Arya’s blog DariusAryaDigs:

Please join me in voic­ing your con­cern for sav­ing the Gladiator’s Tomb, a unique cul­tural her­itage site that runs the risk of being reburied per­ma­nently for lack of fund­ing. Together with the AIRC, I am hop­ing to get 5,000 sig­na­tures on the iPe­ti­tion to save the Gladiator’s Tomb.

In 2008, on the Via Flaminia in the north­ern part of con­tem­po­rary Rome, archae­ol­o­gist found an impres­sive mar­ble mau­soleum, among other note­wor­thy tombs, along a well-preserved sec­tion of ancient road. The press was quick to call this par­tic­u­lar tomb “Tomb of the Glad­i­a­tor” since the tomb itself was comis­sioned by and for Mar­cus Non­ius Macri­nus, an prominent gen­eral under the reign of Mar­cus Aure­lius. Macri­nus’ life was par­al­leled in the Oscar-winning film Glad­i­a­tor (2000, Rid­ley Scott) with the general-then-gladiator char­ac­ter Max­imus mag­nif­i­cently played by Rus­sell Crowe. Upon its dis­cov­ery and nick­name, the world responded enthu­si­as­ti­cally because of its rela­tion­ship with the larger-than-life Max­imus, who rep­re­sented so much of Rome and cre­ated such enthu­si­asm for ancient Roman cul­ture, as well as the over­whelm­ingly impor­tant his­toric, archi­tec­tural, and epi­graph­i­cal qual­i­ties of the site itself.

Over the past decade and a half of liv­ing and work­ing in Rome, I have been for­tu­nate to visit the site on numer­ous occa­sions, and I am con­stantly struck by the enor­mity of the site-13,000 square meters in area, almost three American football fields. It is beau­ti­ful– both his­tor­i­cally and phys­i­cally. I think any­one that comes to the site can­not help but have an imme­di­ate con­nec­tion to the past. I am also in awe of the amount of mud that buried site thus pre­serv­ing it (45 feet in height)- it gives you an idea of both what the archae­ol­o­gists had to over­come but also how much lucky they were to even find it.

The superintendency’s recent (and almost abrupt) deci­sion to rebury the site for preser­va­tion is laud­able in that they want to pre­serve the site. How­ever, the his­tor­i­cal impor­tance of the site mer­its fur­ther atten­tion and exca­va­tion, not sim­ply cov­er­ing up. We have too much to lose here. If we have to pick and choose, this is one worth fight­ing for. Please join me in sign­ing and shar­ing this iPe­ti­tion now.


Caput Mundi: A city between domination and integration


“What a city is for its own limits and territory, today Rome is for the inhabited Earth, as though it had proclaimed the common homeland of the whole world.” –from Eulogy of Rome by the Greek orator Aelius Aristides

Take a moment to imagine what it must have been like to live in a context in which one city dominated the world, as Aristides says, “under the rule of a single man .  . . and everyone united as if in a common forum, with each man receiving that which suits him.” The sheer scope of such an existence is mind-boggling. Nothing comes close to it in modern-day terms. The Roman Empire stands alone in its depth and breadth.

And so begins “Caput Mundi: a city between domination and integration,” exhibition at Rome’s Colosseum. Caput Mundi elucidates the balancing act that the Empire faced by both conquering and eventually integrating those it came to dominate.   A precarious endeavor where the aggressive actions of the Empire perhaps produced civilization’s first and quintessential “melting pot.”  The Roman Empire mixed and matched various peoples (Latins, Samnites, Etruscans, Ligurians, Greeks) while also offering up a unique Roman culture, one that the Romans viewed as both encompassing, yet superior, to all others.

The exhibition boasts an impressive and carefully chosen selection of works from various museums both in Italy and abroad. The artifacts on display, like the bronze sentatoconsultum on the Bacchanalia, (an inscription of a law passed by the Roman senate that outlawed the Bacchanalia), serve to highlight the stark contrasts among opposing influences during the time of the Roman Empire: the intensity of its wars and conquests, the difficulties inherent in its diversity and wide-ranging geographic/cultural scope, and the complexity of its political and social make-up.

Though my academic background may not be strictly classics, I appreciated this exhibit for how it plainly revealed, both in words and artifacts, the complexities inherent both in governing and managing day-to-day affairs in such a unique political and social environment. As I read through the historical descriptions and admired the works of art dating back thousands of years, I continually found myself making ties and connections with modern-day Rome.

So much of ancient Rome continues on in today’s chaotic city. The tenacious, aggressive personality is equally complemented by the creative and light-hearted spirit of the Romans and their approach to daily life in Rome. The arrogance and superiority shown by a culture with such history – clearly revealed in this exhibition- were felt even at the time it was being made. While Rome continues to embrace people from all parts of the globe, it is still facing the internal conflict of acceptance versus dominance.

Caput Mundi runs through March 10, 2013- perfect timing.

~Shelley Ruelle, is AIRC Director of Programming.  When we want to know what’s going on in Rome, we ask her.  shelley.ruelle[at]romanculture.org

Photo above by Shelley Ruelle:  Maximinus Thrax, the “Thracian” AD 235-238, 27th emperor of the Roman Empire and the first to have never actually set foot in Rome


No time for snack time: Rome’s anti-eating ordinance

It’s been over a month since Rome’s anti-bivacco law, a citywide ordinance forbidding eating and drinking in areas of “particular historic, artistic, architectonic and cultural value” in Rome’s center was put into effect. The idea may have been conceived as lending a helpful hand to help the areas around the Colosseum, Pantheon, Spanish Steps, et al, in maintaining a modicum of cleanliness and lessening the accumulating debris that is inadvertently (or deliberately) dropped. However, instead raising hands to the nearest trashcan, it has raised polemic.

People do not see the logic in fines for eating while standing around, especially when the ground beneath their feet is carpeted in cigarette remnants.  They definitely don’t appreciate a monument-centric ordinance when the monuments themselves are in debatable states of preservation.  If anything, the ordinance seems a bit Baby-Bathwater syndrome- while trying to encourage cultural heritage, it is effectively discouraging respect, growth and (potentially) tourism.

Let’s get historic. Rome has a history of trash. Littering laws (for trash, bodies, dung, whatever) have literally been set in stone since Ancient Rome. Check out the 1st century BCE sepulcher pillar at Centrale Montemartini.  More likely, you’ve seen the 18th century mondezzari plaques but as quaint detail to Rome’s picturesque sidestreets. For centuries, Rome has been asking its visitors and residents alike to be kind to their city. Adding ordinances to existing laws seems slightly excessive when perhaps we need to focus on changing attitudes about cultural heritage, civic pride and just plain littering.

Will the anti-bivacco ordinance help the city’s plea to take of her and her patrimony? We’ll let you know if there is a significant change on January 1, 2013, when the ordinance expires.

For more information, please check out Elisabetta Povoledo’s Buon Appetito but not next to monuments (New York Times), Anti Bivaco è ordinanza per tutelare monumenti (Il Livello), and food blogger Katie Parla’s thoughts on the ordinance.


Welcome back, Santa Maria Antiqua

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One of our favorite sites to visit in the Roman Forum is the church of Santa Maria Antiqua, which up until this week had been closed to public viewing. Santa Maria Antiqua is the oldest church in the Roman Forum and a key monument in the transformation of the Forum from pagan to Christian space: constructed in the 6th century inside a 1st-century structure with courtyard attached to the Imperial palace on the Palatine hill above.  Santa Maria Antiqua was abruptly abandoned in the 9th century after a devastating earthquake and resulting landslide. The church was rediscovered at the turn of the 20th century, partly restored, and made accessible to visitors until 1980, when it was permanently closed due to damage caused by rising damp.  Since 2006, Santa Maria Antiqua has been a World Monuments Fund project, led by mural conservators Werner Schmid and Giuseppe Morganti, who have been working with the Archaeological Superintendency of Rome to restore the frescoes and permanently resolve the damp problem.

Thanks to centuries of sealing off, Santa Maria Antiqua can be considered a veritable Pompeii-like site- somewhat untouched postcards of an era that was written over. Its walls showcase a cycle of beautiful frescoes depicting the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus, popes, saints, and martyrs, thus forming one of the largest and most important collections of pre-Iconoclastic Roman and Byzantine art in the world.  These frescoes date to a period of iconoclasm when in East figures in churches were destroyed. The AIRC has a special connection with Santa Maria Antiqua. In years past, we have excavated in front of the site and we have also done our best to help WMF, Schmid, Morganti and team.  Over these past six years, we’ve had given special entry and behind-the-scenes access to Santa Maria Antiqua thanks to professors Morganti and Schmid, who’ve also taken the time to speak with our students.

From now through November 4,  Santa Maria Antiqua is available for public visits. A maximum of 25 persons can visit the site for approximately 45 minutes.  Reserve via  coopculture.it , 06 39967700.  Cost: €12+ €9 (Foro romano entrance ticket + guided visit)

Additional reading: La RepubblicaWashington Post


Photos by AIRC and La Repubblica


Sanguis et harena: Fighting around (and over) the Colosseum

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In its approximately 1980 years the Colosseum has seen a lot of action: gladiatorial spectacles (through the 5th century AD), wild animal hunts (through the 6th century AD), skirmishes and sieges for control of central Rome (11th-14th centuries AD). After several centuries of comparative leisure, the Colosseum is once again the scene of epic and historic events, although this time it’s not just the scene of the action – it’s the protagonist. And it faces the fight of its life.

The new third (C) metro line, crossing Rome and its periphery roughly from east to west and due to become fully operational in 2017, will have a stop at the Colosseum. Preliminary work on the station – an extension of the existing B line station – has been going on for a couple of years already, with modest results in terms of archaeological finds. In the next few months construction of the station will commence; the work area will extend into Via dei Fori Imperiali, the broad parade street built by Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini in the 1930s, causing local authorities to close half of the street and force both directions of traffic (reduced to one lane each way) onto the other half, right against the Colosseum. Conservation experts are concerned about the vibrations caused by the extra traffic in close proximity, augmented by the rumbling of heavy machinery in the Metro C work area.

At more or less the same time, the three-year, 25-million euro restoration project financed by luxury accessories brand Tod’s is supposed to begin – a starting date in December (the latest in a seemingly infinite series) was announced just last month by mayor Gianni Alemanno. The restoration will have three phases: (1) consolidation of the north and south faces and replacement of the fencing in the arches; (2) construction of a new visitors’ center with bathrooms, café, bookshop, and ticket office in the surrounding piazza near the Arch of Constantine; and (3) conservation and cleaning of the main structure, from the hypogeum (underground) up to the crown. The Colosseum will remain open to the public continuously.

The Colosseum’s imminent makeover has caused a lot of collateral controversy: there is increasing awareness of not only the monument’s precarious condition, but also its image around the world. In the spring, under heavy pressure from the Special Archaeological Superintendency for Rome, an agency of the national Ministry of Culture, the municipal authorities created a “zone of respect” around the Colosseum where the quaintly dressed “gladiators” and “centurions” who pose for photographs with tourists can no longer ply their trade. The city is also under pressure to remove the numerous trinket stands and mobile snack bars that dot the entire length of Via dei Fori Imperiali; these businesses are viewed with great suspicion by Romans because the vast majority of them are owned and operated by a single family, named Tredicine, which has amassed a fortune over the decades more from a laissez-faire attitude than from any legal authorization to occupy public soil. The Tredicine family has gone so far as to file suit against the authorities over the construction of the new café, branding it state-sponsored competition to their questionable “business.”

As if these tussles were not enough, a troubling discovery was made in the past year during a detailed study of the Colosseum’s physical fabric ahead of the restoration: the entire structure has tilted about 40 cm out of horizontal, with the north side rising and the south side dipping down, perhaps the consequence of a fissure in the 40-ft deep cement foundation. The experts put most of the blame on the constant vibrations caused by the traffic that whizzes around the monument’s perimeter, although a fair share of the blame must also go to the metro (B) line that runs just a few feet beneath the surface of the piazza, between the Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine. (To judge for yourself, you can stand at the edge of the earth embankment between these two monuments and wait for a train to pass.) The tilt is aggravated by the fact that the foundations of the south side rest on relatively unstable alluvial sediments, whereas the north side is founded on volcanic stone. Comparisons of the Colosseum’s situation to that of the leaning tower of Pisa are amusing but exaggerated.

Thankfully, not all the news about the Colosseum is gloomy. Legambiente, a leading Italian conservation organization, has submitted to the municipal authorities a proposal to close the entire length of Via dei Fori Imperiali to vehicle traffic in stages, starting with weekends (at the moment, the street is closed only on Sundays during the daylight hours), extending to weekdays within certain blocks of time, and culminating in complete closure of the street and removal of the asphalt around the Colosseum. Legambiente has begun to collect the 5000 citizen signatures necessary to have the proposal inserted into the city council’s agenda for formal consideration. With so many wild beasts encircling it, the Colosseum needs allies like Legambiente to watch its back.

– by Albert Prieto, AIRC  Associate Director of Archaeology, albert[at]romanculture.org

 

 


Summer Lovin’ happened so fast

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This is the last week of the Summer Field School at Ostia Antica Tor Boacciana. We can’t believe how fast time has flown as we document the past.  Here is a sampling of beautiful amazing photos taken on site by Selma Amzi, 2012 Field School Photography Intern.  Please take a look at our Flickr collection while on site, as well Facebook.




International Association for Classical Archaeology AIAC

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Not necessarily the protagonist of most coffee table conversations, the International Association for Classical Archeology (Associazione Internazionale di Archeologia Classica or AIAC) is the classical archaeologist’s best friend. A prestigious organization for promoting archaeological activities throughout Italy, AIAC is located right behind the tourist hub of Rome’s Piazza Venezia and the Vittoriano in the former papal residence of Palazzo Venezia. This unique historical setting speaks to the academic and institutional importance of AIAC as large scale research organization, benefiting members and scholars worldwide.

Founded in the aftermath the Second World War in 1946, AIAC was originally created with the aim to provide an international forum for archeologists and researchers to discuss classical archaeology across national, economic, or even political borders. AIAC’s roots, however, date back to 1823, when a small group of four northern European intellectuals would reunite periodically in Rome in order to explore the city’s architectural and artistic treasures as well as to read and discuss classical texts. This camaraderie resulted in the formation of the group entitled the “Circle of Hyperborean Romans” (Il “Circolo degli Iperborei Romani), in reference to the natives of Hyperborea, a mythical region supposedly located to the north of Thrace according to the ancient Greeks. In 1928, E. Gerhard, a member of this small knit community, launched the first archeological journal on Rome, under the newly inaugurated Institute of Archeological Correspondence.

Gerhard’s commitment to consolidate classical archaeological knowledge remains primordial to AIAC today. Starting in the 1950’s the association has hosted and organized a series of quinquennial conferences in large metropolises across the globe, such as Rome, Ankara and Izmir, Paris and Berlin. In 2008, AIAC marked its fifty years of conference organizing with its 10th meeting in Rome, entitled “Meetings between Cultures in the Ancient Mediterranean”.

In 2000, AIAC began publishing FASTI online, a website dedicated to consolidate news and updates on ongoing preservation and excavation projects worldwide. By the end of 2012, the organization hopes to provide each project with appropriate visuals, which American Institute for Roman Culture is proud to participate in doing. Since Spring 2011, we have been producing a series of short, documentary videos on excavation and conservation projects for FASTI/AIAC and with the generous help of the Italian Ministry of Culture (MiBAC). Our partnership has deepened this past summer as we are now sharing as office space in Palazzo Venezia and just down the hall from the AIAC center.

Please enjoy a look at our FASTI mini-documentaries.

by Michelle Al-Ferzly, Wellesley College Summer 2012 intern


Life in the Trenches: An Excavation’s Top 5

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~Nadia Pucci SAFS ’11 (Sant’Omobono) shares with us her top five things you really need to know when working on an excavation in Rome:

  1.  Sun screen, water, and gloves:  Sun protection is essential, especially in the more intense Italian heat. Water is also important for staying hydrated. Lastly, gloves are a must to prevent blisters from all the troweling. 
  2. Whatever you do, don’t bring: any valuable possessions, leave them at home! You don’t want to risk possible damage or loss of the items(s). Try not to bring your entire house with you to Italy, just bring the essentials since you will end up acquiring several items during your stay that you will have to haul back.
  3. The good and bad about working/living in Rome: Living in Rome means easy accessibility to various sites – mostly within walking distance – as well as the endless amount of pizzerias and gelaterias. The people and culture can be experienced even while taking a simple stroll to the piazza. There aren’t many words that can be used to accurately describe the endless possibilities that Rome has to offer, but “priceless” will suffice. One not-so-good aspect is transit. The buses can be a little unpredictable! Their bus stops are different from what we know and understand, and there are strikes which shut down most transport mechanisms for a few hours.
  4. What to do in your spare time:  With free time, I loved to venture and explore. From visiting Castel Sant’Angelo and the Vatican to walking along the Tiber at night under the moon and lights from the busy night markets. Of course, going to beach and swimming is a splendid way to beat the heat
  5. Who are you- aka Dig Personality: It’s hard to state one dig personality, because I feel that I experienced several at any given time. I definitely think that I was a cheerleader, encouraging my peers to continue troweling. And I do think that over time I became a wheelbarrow warrior! At first I was slightly afraid of the dreaded task of unloading the wheelbarrow, but by the end of the dig I was able to unload it with little or no help! Lastly, dirt magnet is an obvious personality for most people, especially myself, since no matter what the day’s tasks were I seemed to always be covered in dirt from head to toe. It was a challenge to stay clean during the dig!

Life in the Trenches: An Augustan Experience

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If my summer digging with AIRC in Ostia were a Roman Emperor, it would have to be Augustus. Not only was it the best summer ever, but it was also a time of personal and academic growth, development, and expansion.

I had worked for a few seasons on a dig near my hometown in New England, and, as an archaeology major, had always dreamed of working in Rome and gaining experience in Mediterranean field archaeology. In terms of skill building, I couldn’t have asked for more. While we spent most of our time digging, there was plenty of time spent getting acquainted with the ins and outs of artifact washing and cataloging, archaeological drawing, wall profiles, and surveying with a Total Station. In short, it was a complete field experience. My favorite times were spent swinging a pickaxe like I had a vendetta against the topsoil, but I am grateful for getting to develop my skills in other areas of fieldwork.

There’s nowhere else to dig quite like OstiaWhile still part of Rome, it’s quiet and idyllic; like digging in your neighborhood park (if your neighborhood were 2,000 years old and had a forum built by Tiberius). Since Ostia is often overlooked by tourists, it will feel like it’s your own. For all that, it’s only a 25 minute train ride from the center of Rome. Living right in the centro storico was an unbelievable experience, and I would happily spend my evenings and weekends exploring the little stone-paved streets and parks, or even traveling further afield throughout Lazio. To live in such a city, even for a summer, will challenge and excite you every day.

Ultimately, a field school is only as a good as the people who are part of it. There is so much to learn from the combined knowledge and years of experience of the AIRC staff—even if that means being repeatedly told “No Jonathan, that’s just another pretty rock.” I was surprised to find that many of the other students were not Archaeology or Classics majors, but quickly saw that just about everyone shared my enthusiasm for the subject matter and the work we were doing. We bonded right away, cooking together in our apartments and trying to figure out who was the sweatiest and filthiest on the train ride home. My trenchmates and I are still in touch.

When you sign up for the AIRC’s field school in Ostia, , you are signing up for more than archaeological skills and experience. You will leave with new friends and a unique experience under your belt that will give you a new way of looking at the world. I certainly came out the better for it. As Augustus himself said:

Ostia archaeologatorem marmoreum relinquit, quem geekum latericium accepit.

~ Jonathan Migliori, SAFS ‘10, is graduate of Brown University 2011 and will receive his M.A. from Durham University in 2012.


Life in the Trenches: Top tips when in Rome…

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AIRC 2011 alum Dustin Thomas offers his tips on how to have the best time in and out of the trenches:

  1. Explore! How often is it that you get to roam (no pun intended!) outside of your home country, much less in the Eternal City of Rome itself? There was certainly a lot that I got to see, learn, taste, and smell just by walking up the street, and I can definitely say that even after six whole weeks of “exploring” I am by no means done.
  2. When you’re digging, roll up your sleeves! A farmer’s tan is no joke, and it certainly is not sexy when you might decide to spend a Saturday afternoon at the beach. That being said, use sunscreen!!! I have a dark complexion, but I got burnt at least two times because I missed a spot or two with the sunscreen.
  3. Don’t pass up the opportunity for a late night experiencing some Roman nightlife…BUT don’t complain too loudly when early the next morning you’re struggling to get to the bus heading to the dig site. Balance is key, and there is a lot to experience with your classmates, especially since you should take the opportunity to better acquaint yourselves with people you might not be trench mates with. We used the weekends or even just the afternoons after a long hot day to grab a gelato and a gin and tonic at the local bar-tabacchi or a sultry smoke at the hookah bar later in the evening.
  4. Get your fitness on! Some of you out there who will be heading to field school this summer are undoubtedly very conscientious of your fitness. Digging is a very physically demanding activity, but sometimes I felt like I wasn’t getting a balanced enough workout, and who can forget the days in finds lab? My solution, like many of my classmates, was either to go for a run or just do some daily calisthenics. They got me energized to embrace the rest of the afternoon and evening, when I would otherwise be exhausted and sleep the day away.

Photos from Big Old Goofy WorldCoach G LifeChangingFitness, EventsinRome, Erica Firpo


Do you dig Rome? Field School TweetUp #DigRome

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In honor of its upcoming Summer Archaeological Field School (June 18 to July 29), on Wednesday March 28th AIRC will host a tweetup for past and present SAFS participants. This is our way of allowing the seasoned veterans of past editions to pass on their hard-won knowledge and wisdom to the next generation of aspiring Roman archaeologists – or just razz them. Multiple SAFS veteran and citizen of Rome honoris caussa Julia Elsey will be our special guest tweeter as @AIRC_Guest.  It’s a great opportunity to ask questions about our excavations in Ostia Antica and Palatine Hill,  and learn what’s its like to live in Rome for the summer.

When:  Wednesday, March 28 at 6-7 PM EST (3-4 PM PST, 12-1 AM in Rome, 9-10 AM in Sydney)

Host:  American Institute for Roman Culture

Where:   Twitter: Search for hashtag #digrome

How:   Check out our customized TweetGrid to send tweets. (You will need to bookmark the  tweetgrid page and login with your Twitter account when ready to tweet.) Follow the #digrome hashtag,  guest host Julia on @AIRC_Guest and @AIRomanculture. Or load your Twitter page and search for #DigRome for the 60 minutes of the event.

Participate:  Send us questions/comments in advance so that we can feature them. During the tweetup, get chatty and make sure to use the hashtag #DigRome in your tweets so everyone can see your question, answer, contribution, etc.

Not on Twitter?: You can still use the TweetGrid to follow the conversation. Though you will not be able to contribute to the discussion, you can follow all commentary.

For more information, please contact:  @AIRomanculture, email:  info@romanculture.org


Catch UNLISTED2012 everywhere: LiveStream and Twitter

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Our Unlisted2012 conference is all about global access and community.  With the help of US Department of State, we will be live streaming UNLISTED 2012 fro 230-530 Rome time (930-1230 EST).  Here is a test link.

For Twitter users, we created the tag #UNLST2012 so that you can find all relevant tweets.  Be sure to include this tag in all tweets regarding Unlisted2012 conference and we will do our best to answer your questions.  After each speaker we will have a brief question and answer session, as well as Q&A during the last hour of the conference – so tweet your questions and watch us respond.   To make it easier, please take a look at our UNLISTED TweetGrid which filters all conversations tagged #UNLST2012 as well as @AIRomanculture and @SaveRome (Director Darius Arya) accounts.

Information for live streaming and Twitter:

What you need
PC: Internet explorer or other browsers with windows media player plugin

MacOSX: Safari or other browsers with Flip For Mac Plugin


Life in the Trenches: Looking Back

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I can’t believe it’s close to a year since I was living in Rome. It feels like yesterday when I was making friends to last a lifetime, tasting the freshness of food I’ll never find here at home, and digging up places that the ancients called home. Most of all, while I was touring the city, I constantly felt like I was really walking in the footsteps of human civilization’s greatest thinkers, leaders, artists, soldiers, and entertainers.

If you’re anything like me, you’re enamored by ancient Rome. As a student aspiring to make a career out of Roman Archaeology, I’ve fallen in love with the prospect of investigating and learning about arguably humanity’s greatest civilization. It was a dream for me to actually go to Rome and dig in Italy. I had been on a field school before, but I was in for the experience of a lifetime. I was ready for adventure.

I arrived in Rome not quite knowing what to expect, but as soon as I landed I was practically overwhelmed with a completely new culture and a new way of life that would certainly take some getting used to. I was definitely nervous about who I was going to be living with and, more importantly, who I was going to be slaving in the hot Italian sun at the dig site with. (I won’t lie, I did a little Facebook-stalking to find out about my dig-mates before getting to Italy.)

It turned out that I was going to be spending a lot of the next six weeks with people that had almost the exact same interests as me, and not just with career aspirations or academic focus. Who would’ve thought?- Romies actually turn out to be very similar! Rome became a second home for me, and before long the rest of the AIRC students along with myself were talking about coming back.

So it is with a nostalgic heart that I conclude this entry. I wish everyone the best of luck in getting to Rome and the time of their lives while they’re there. I know I had mine –  the dig was definitely a learning experience, especially since I was trained in American archaeology to start– and hope everyone’s experience tops it.

~ Dustin Thomas is an Archaeology senior at Lycoming College. He reflects on Summer 2011’s archaeological field school for Life in the Trenches.


Bernie Frischer on the Petition to Protect Villa Adriana

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We are proud to publish Professor Bernard Frischer‘s op-ed piece on Protecting Hadrian’s Villa, an i-petition created by Frischer and sponsored by the American Institute for Roman Culture.  In less than a week, we have generated more than 2000 signatures, and are at 3650 signatures and counting.


 Hadrian’s Villa, the UNESCO World Heritage site near Tivoli is at risk. Here’s the background.

Rome has long used a garbage dump at a place called Malagrotta. In June 2011, the EU Commission ordered Malagrotta closed because of various violations of EU environmental regulations. Since then the Region of Lazio (the governmental unit in charge of Rome’s waste disposal) has been trying to find a new site. In September 2011, just two months before it fell from power, the Berlusconi government appointed Prefect Giuseppe Pecoraro to be Extraordinary Commissioner of Waste Disposal for Lazio with special powers to confront the emergency situation. In October 2011 Pecoraro announced a plan to install a new 400-acre garbage dump at a locality called Corcolle, which is less than one mile from the site of Hadrian’s Villa. Needless to say, the prospect of bringing Rome’s daily garbage to the very doorstep of a precious World Heritage Site was greeted with alarm and opposition. The Italian Ministry of Culture and the Province of Rome are on record in opposition to the proposal as are various nearby cities (including Tivoli) and citizen groups.

On March 9, 2012, Corrado Clini, the Italian Minister for the Environment, intervened by calling a meeting of Pecoraro and other interested parties. They decided to examine all possible sites for the new dump site before going forward with Corcolle. On March 15, 2012, Lorenzo Ornaghi, the Minister for Culture in the Monti government, spoke out forcefully against the selection of Corcolle. But Rome’s Mayor Gianni Alemanno was also quoted in the press the same day saying that the site of Corcolle was still under active consideration. Clini has called a follow-up meeting for March 22, 2012 at which it is expected that the fate of the Corcolle proposal will be decided.
On March 17, 2012, Rome’s daily newspaper, Il Messaggero ran an article that should send shivers up the spines of all lovers of antiquity. Here is my translation of the critical part:

GARBAGE EMERGENCY, A ‘YES’ OF THE TECHNICAL EXPERTS PUTS CORCOLLE AT RISK

by Maruro Evangelisti

“March 17, 2012, ROME – Among the documents which the collaborators of the Commissioner for Waste Disposal, Prefect Giuseppe Pecoraro, are examining in meetings with the Director of the Ministry of the Environment and representatives of the Province of Rome, City of Rome, and Region of Lazio, there is a site plan. It shows the area of Corcolle (selected to be one of the new temporary garbage dumps) at a distance of 2 kilometers from Hadrian’s Villa. The land parcel belongs to the corporation Pozzalana srl.

“In another site plan the boundaries of the UNESCO site of Hadrian’s Villa are only 1200 meters away. And in the dossier of the staff of the Commissioner there is also a document dated 15 June 2010 from the Archaeological Superintendency of Rome in response to a request to install a rubbish dump in which the Superintendency affirms that the land is ‘archaeologically sterile.’ And the Superintendency expressed its approval.

“In contrast, in the course of the meeting of specialists which blocked the choice of Corcolle [i.e., several days ago--BF], the Cultural Ministry vetoed the choice of Corcolle.

“In a nutshell: for Pecoraro the candidacy of Corcolle has NOT been discarded. It is the only site among the seven under consideration that permits creation of the garbage dump by this autumn, if Corrado Clini, Minister of the Environment, gives his approval.

“Let’s be clear: suppose that on March 22, 2012 the government says ‘yes’ to the areas chosen by Pecoraro (Corcolle and Riano). For Corcolle there is already a preliminary plan of action. Land expropriation and a call for bids will be set in motion. The winner will have to present a final proposal. An environmental impact report will have to be filed.

“Before October-November 2012 the new garbage dump [at Corcolle- Hadrian's Villa--BF] will not be ready. For that to happen, an additional month will be needed. If the options of Corcolle and Riano are rejected and if a different site is chosen, then the whole process starts over from the beginning and much more time is needed [to get Rome's new garbage dump up and running]. In that case, even an extension until December 2012 of the use of the current dump site at Malagrotta would not be enough.”

Time is short. You can help by signing an internationally sponsored online petition appealing to Pecoraro and Clini to abandon the ill-conceived plan to put a huge garbage dump so close to Hadrian’s Villa. Over 3,600 people from all over the world have already added their names, including such notable figures as Architect Richard Meier; Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, former Director of the British School in Rome and Master of Sydney Sussex College, Cambridge; and Salvatore Settis, former Director of the Getty Research Center and Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa. Sign today.

~Bernard Frischer, PhD

Photo from Wikipedia.


digostiaantica:

Great piece from Darius on Villa Adriana.

Originally posted on D a r i u s A r y a D i g s:

The shocking decision to create a massive landfill within a few hundred meters of Hadrian’s Villa, one of most well known, important cultural heritage sites in the world is, to say the least, astonishing.  See last December’s CBS news videofor a summary of the landfill project.

In light of the recent pummeling from the media that Italy has undergone due to the lamentable condition of the heritage management at Pompeii and the frequent fragments falling off the Colosseum in the past couple of years, it seems even more shocking to learn about the new plight of yet another world-famous site.

And, of course, in the face of it, one frequently asks, but what can I do?  What difference can I make?  With the decision announced late last year (to be confirmed this spring), there was not much time to act, either.   Luckily, a dear colleague and friend, Prof. Bernard…

View original 655 more words


Archaeological Cultural Heritage Preservation: AIRC’s Unlisted Conference 2012

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It’s All in the Packaging: Enhancing Visibility of Archaeological Cultural Heritage Preservation

On March 23, we are very excited to co-sponsor the 2nd annual Unlisted conference with the Italian Ministry of Culture.    Gathering together a broad range of stakeholders, Unlisted aims to discuss new ways to preserve global cultural heritage in areas that do not have the benefit of UNESCO World Heritage status.

Free and open to the public, presentations will be delivered on the morning and afternoon of Friday  March 23rd at the Centro Studi Americani. Simultaneous translation will be available, generously provided by the United States Department of State via the United States Diplomatic Mission to Italy.

If interested in attending the conference, post-conference site visits to Villa of the Quintilii and the bath complex at Capo di Bove (limited seating), and for additional information, please visit our Unlisted Conference Event page and/or contact Shelley Ruelle:  shelley.ruelle [at]romanculture.org


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