promoting cultural heritage and conservation

Posts tagged “study abroad

Hidden Jewels: Roman Forum

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One of the great things about living in Rome is that you frequently discover something new in a nook or cranny of the city that you think you know inside and out. A good example is the Roman Forum, a place I’ve visited dozens of times over the past 20 years. I first started visiting the Forum before the fencing was erected around all of the monuments. You could walk all over the Basilica Julia, pound the Augustan pavement of the square, and admire the blobs of melted bronze on the floor of the Basilica Aemilia, possibly the remains of coins knocked to the ground during Alaric’s sack of Rome in AD 410. There was also that golden period, between 1998 and 2008, when the Forum was open to the public for free all day long, acting as just another way to get from Via dei Fori Imperiali to the Colosseum valley.

So I thought I’d seen everything, including—thanks to my position at AIRC—many special structures and ongoing excavations closed to the public. A couple of weeks ago I was surprised to learn, while reading a recent book about the Forum, that the church of San Lorenzo in Miranda, which occupies the Temple of the Deified Antoninus and Faustina, is open to the public, but for only two hours a week (Thursdays 9-11). After kicking myself for never having thought to investigate that possibility, I visited the church on the next Thursday and was received by a very formal but friendly gentleman from a bygone era who gave me a rapid tour of the artistic treasures housed in the church (as well as an earful about its increasing isolation in the archaeological zone) and then turned me loose at the old doorway facing out onto the Forum, now a balcony floating about 25 feet above the ancient levels. Although the view is obscured by the columns of the porch, the experience is nevertheless a feast for the eyes, offering a fresh and fascinating perspective on the temple itself, the Forum, and the Palatine hill. In Rome, fortune really does favor the bold. And the curious.

~Hidden Jewels is a monthly series by Albert Prieto, AIRC Associate Director of Archaeology, as he investigates the hidden secrets of Rome that are right in front of us. albert[at]romanculture.org

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Coffee Talk

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Well, first of all, let me tell you that most of my spare time is spent at cafes around Rome. I sit and drink, and then creativity fills up my glass (after having finished work of course….say what!?). And most of the time, I always meet people who have something to interesting to share. The other day I was hanging out at one of my favorite bars in Rome- Bar del Fico- where I met a couple from France. The woman, Nadia, was a professor of medieval philosophy but I prefer to call her my new French-Algerian encyclopedia. She was modest and didn’t reveal her academic credentials until well into the evening  and when she did, oh my goodness, did she know everything about, well…many things! What stood out the most though was the mannerism in which she spoke about the country of her forefathers: Algeria.

Nadia’s eyes almost filled up with tears when she described to me how, unfortunately, many Algerians do not know the history of their country, their nation, and their identity. As history is very important to me, I was nostalgic but yet not surprised to learn that there is a huge lack of awareness of historical identity in Algeria.  Nadia continued to tell me that the preservation of archeological sites and monuments is in absolute miserable condition in Algeria. Ancient Roman columns are used as ashtrays, marble statues are covered with graffiti, historically significant sites are in disarray, and in general, citizens are not aware of the rich cultures that make up Algeria’s dense and mosaicked history.  In fact, those casually castaway artifacts represent millennia of Algerian culture: Carthaginian, Roman, Vandal, Byzantine, Caspian and Arab Umayyad cultures.

My conversation with Nadia that evening made me realize that though I am working to promote preservation of archeological sites in Rome and trying my best to emphasize the importance of cultural heritage, there is so much work to be done around the world. Rome is the eternal city but not the only one in need of dedicated people who try to teach history for sake of understanding our contemporary society.

~Saman Tehrani, AIRC intern, Summer/Fall 2013

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The Next Great Travel Writers Contest by @goabroad

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Can’t stop talking about your study abroad experience? Put it in writing for the GoAbroad.com”Next Great Travel Writers Contest” and show your friends your words are worth a lot.


Life in the Trenches: Week 4, 11 Things I’ve learned on the Dig

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  1. Count the buckets: When brushing away a mound of dirt with the equivalent of a glorified toothbrush and an oversized spork, it can be discouraging to look at your area after several hours of work and feel you haven’t made a dint in it.  In order to prevent dismay, learn to count the buckets of dirt that you fill instead.  Nothing says progress more than being able to climb up a pile of dirt and say, “Look, Ma!  I spent 5 weeks moving all this dirt from over there to over here!”
  2.  Remember all your hard work will eventually pay off* : Excavation needs to be a slow process

    (more…)


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…)


Life in the Trenches: Week 1 at the Dig

Welcome to the Parco dei Ravennati excavation in Ostia Antica.  There is nothing like being on site at an excavation, and nothing better than having hands on reportage of the dig itself.  Five participants have volunteered to contribute a blog post about what they are doing at Parco dei Ravennati.  From now through July 21, we will feature weekly posts from the point of view of actual dig participants as they get down and dirty in Ostia Antica. Our first post is from Tara Giangrande, an art history and anthropology student from Swarthmore College.
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After a week of touring around all seven hills of ancient Rome, the students of this summer’s AIRC archaeological field school began work at Parco dei Ravennati in Ostia Antica.  While a few of us had prior experience with excavation, it was an entirely new adventure (more…)


Digging the Dig before we dig, Ostia Antica 2013

For those of you with visions of Indiana Jones and Laura Croft frolicking through layer upon layer of antiquities, here’s a glimpse at what our excavation looks like immediately before the students start digging into Ostia Antica.

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We dig Rome: AIRC on Youtube

We dig Rome and we like sharing it, so in 2009 we created an AIRC account on Youtube:  WeDigRome where we upload AIRC-produced filmettes about our programs (inluding our summer excavation and full-immersion Latin) and our documentary projects such as Fasti Online and upcoming Digging History.

Our latest videos are Unlisted 2013: Conversation for Conservation, our annual cultural heritage conference.  If you were not able to attend the conference, take a look in our recently uploaded videos where we feature each Unlisted2013 speaker.


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.

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What Every Student of Latin Needs to Know

One of the most important aspects to education is dialogue, and we love to promote an on-going conversation with past, present and future students.  Summer 2012 student Lidia Zanetti Domingues spent last summer with Nancy Llewellyn in the AIRC’s Living Latin, Living History program, and writes about What Every Student of Latin Needs to Know.latin

At first sight, Latin always seems a tough nut. Whether you are a 14-year-old Italian during the you first day at the High school, or an American teenager who has decided to study Classics at the College, or anybody else eager to read Cicero or saint Augustine in the original language, the first impact with Latin can be really traumatic.

At the very beginning, I felt the same sense of discouragement that probably many of you are feeling or have felt too. But I decided that Latin language and literature were so amazing that it was worth the trouble. I have experienced many different types of teaching in different contexts and I wish to share my experiences with you. Here are some tips that I found very useful during my learning path.

  • Latin has a meaning:  many beginners seem to think that, since Latin authors wrote their works so many years ago, their language cannot but be cryptic and unintelligible. Therefore, when they look up a word in the dictionary,  they tend to pick the weirdest meaning they find. Remember that, if classical authors are still read nowadays, it’s because they still can communicate us something! If your translation has not much meaning, it is probably wrong. Yes, decus suum can also mean “the honor of pigs”, but why should Tacitus write about pigs’ honor?
  • Beware the false friends: the average student who is an Italian, French or Spanish native speaker is simply too lazy to look up some words in the dictionary. The Latin says focus? Well, it must mean fire (fuoco, feu, fuego), of course! Pity that it actually means “hearth”. Romance languages can be helpful allies to learn Latin also for those who are not native, but if you are not 100% sure about a meaning, it is better to check.
  • Accent issues: in one of your first classes, you might have learned the laws of Latin accent and especially the “law of the penultimate accent”. They are very simple, but unfortunately one always discovers very soon that they are not so simple when it comes to implement them: sometimes it looks almost impossible to discern whether the penultimate syllable is long or not. My advice is to always read Latin texts aloud and check the words you are unsure of in dictionaries or grammars. You should also bear in mind the retraction of the accent in compound verbs (e.g. dàre-circùmdare): it is very tricky!
  • Verbs quizzes: this is a method I often used during the first years of High school to learn Latin verbal system. With a friend, tear a sheet into pieces and write on them Latin verbs (the more insidious they are, the more useful the game will be), fold them and put them into a bowl. Draw a piece of paper in turn and try to analyze the verb: the other person must check that the answer is correct.
  • Try a spoken Latin course: apart from making you get rid of accent problems (if you use Latin words in real conversations, you will know for sure where to put the accent!), knowing how to speak aliquantum Latine also liberates you from the dependence on dictionaries. Also spoken Latin has its complexity and one of the biggest issues is to enhance one’s lexicon. Try to memorize words making connections between them, associating them by topic or by contrast (a word and its antonym, for instance). I also noticed that some of my American classmates struggled a bit trying to pronounce some words (contignatio was especially their nightmare), but they find very useful to divide such words in shorter sections, practicing their pronounce separately and then joining the parts.

Good luck with your Latin studies, and believe me: one day, when you will be reading an epistle of Seneca or an ode of Horace, you will agree with me that all your efforts were worth those enchanting masterpieces!

~Lidia Zanetti Domingues, LATIN2012

Interesting in augmenting your Latin studies with an on-site, practically total immersion in Latin? Please take a look at our Living Latin, Living History program. There are a few spots left for applicants for this summer 2013’s program in Rome- check out our video for the full experience.


Latin in the 21st Century

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The other day, I took a break from Rome and headed to a beach where I met two young gentlemen with tattoos.  In 2013, it’s not unusual to see tattoos of any kind, but what struck me as interesting is that both were in Latin, and after a quick chit chat, I learned that neither of the decorated had profoundly studied the language, they just liked the weight of it. I liked the fact that they were inadvertently promoting Latin as a living (and party-ing) language.

Latin loving comes in all shapes and forms– whether fans of an esoteric word or phrase or hard core academics who are living Latin to the fullest. Interestingly and on the academic horizon, Latin enrollment worldwide is increasing.   How is this possible in a world that is logarithmically speeding up academically, professionally and socially?  Isn’t the study of Latin a practice of  patience as well, thus contrary to all this techno-social velocity?

Quite the opposite, Latin is about substance in a world that is becoming more and more streamlined and simplified, and to some extent become similar.  Turning to history and the past, many look to the great empires. The Romans continue to exercise a pull on our imagination through the rich, diverse writings preserved in Latin.   We feel we can get under their skin and know their world via Latin.  And we feel we have a better grasp on ours and others by studying Latin.  It’s not by chance that the worlds of Harry Potter and Dan Brown are peppered with Latin.

To extrapolate,  having knowledge of Latin along with the ability to use it in daily life is something unique– whether making light conversation on the beach or spending your entire 24 hour day speaking Latin with colleagues and friends.  Though we don’t promise any tattoos, we do promote an almost 100% immersion in Latin with our summer Living Latin program, led by Professor Nancy Llewellyn.  Nancy loves Latin as much as these two love their tattoos, and probably more.

For more information about our summer Living Latin program, please email info@romanculture.org
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Ostia Antica: The Importance of First Impressions

If you mention Ostia Antica to most anyone, Italian or foreigner, you get only a blank stare and/or a shake of the head. Most modern Romans have never visited it, at least not in their adult lives; in fact, the majority of the roughly 300,000 people who visit the site every year are Italian schoolchildren and foreign tourists. This is a tiny fraction of the nearly five million people who visit the Colosseum every year. Yet there was a time—about 2000 years ago, admittedly—when, if you mentioned the word “Ostia” to anyone who travelled, whether Roman or foreigner, you would get an animated response fueled by mental images of Rome, the greatest metropolis of the ancient world, for which this unpretentious port city was the lifeline to the world. Millions of people from all walks of life embarked and disembarked at Ostia in the approximately 1000 years of its life, from slaves to emperors (Augustus, Claudius, Nero), from merchants to early Christian luminaries (St. Augustine). These people navigated the same streets, drank from the same fountains, and washed in the same bath complexes that we can see today, just 25 minutes by train from downtown Rome.

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I first “landed” at Ostia Antica as a graduate student in the summer of 1998. My initial impression of the site then still corresponds perfectly to its appearance today: a beautiful, sleepy, largely empty park packed with an incredible array of structures that beg to be explored. It’s like having a theme park practically to yourself, except this theme park happens to be the closest experience to the look and feel of ancient Rome available anywhere in the world.

Several things struck me then, as now. Ostia is as big as Pompeii, but it offers a much better visitor experience by virtue of being entirely accessible (whereas most of Pompeii is barricaded to keep visitors away), well-shaded by big pine trees, and much less crowded. The one major disadvantage that I recall was having to leave at lunchtime to forage for food in the Medieval borgo next door, an episode that nevertheless had a silver lining in introducing me to a quaint 1000-year-old town.

The food problem at Ostia Antica was soon remedied by the construction of a pleasant glass-walled cafeteria next to the site museum, which allows the visitor to spend the entire day among the ruins. The visitor experience at Ostia Antica continues to improve gradually with every passing year. Recently a cement staircase and ramp were installed on the decumanus maximus (main east-west road) at the corner of Via dei Molini to smooth the abrupt (and dangerous) drop from the Late Antique to the Republican street level, the mosaics in the Piazzale delle Corporazioni were cleaned, and Wi-Fi was installed in the cafeteria.

But if it’s true that first impressions are the most important ones, then much more needs to be done to allow Ostia Antica to make the sensational first impression every visitor deserves. There are many dirty mosaics and frescoes that need to be cleaned and conserved, collapsing walls that need to be patched up, and trees and plants that need to be cut back more frequently. Many of the informational signs are so old as to be faded or peeling, and there are not enough signs to make up for the lack of a good guidebook in English.

We at the American Institute for Roman Culture are big fans of Ostia Antica, and we’re working hard to improve the visitor experience there through a variety of projects. In 2010 and 2011 we created a series of educational videos about the site that were recently cited by The New York Times as an authoritative source. In 2011 we brought much-needed attention to the site by making it a central theme of our first annual Unlisted conference on sustainable cultural heritage. In 2011 and 2012 we tested an innovative approach to documenting and conserving the standing remains. And in recent years our Summer Archaeological Field School has been based at Ostia Antica.

In 2013 the AIRC field school will be held in the Parco dei Ravennati, a practically unexplored public park located between Ostia Antica and the borgo. This three-year excavation will help finally unite the two areas, blending the romantic beauty of Ostia Antica, the imposing majesty of the castle of pope Julius II, and the relaxing small-town charm of the borgo into an unforgettable first impression. It’s also an opportunity to engage the local community and invite them to invest their tangible and intangible resources in the transformation of Ostia Antica into a world-class archaeological experience on a par with Pompeii and central Rome through preservation, education, and promotion, so that everyone will gain something.

We want your first impression of Ostia Antica to be a great one: please consider joining the excavation project, if a student, or just stopping by to say “hi” as you make your way from the train station to the archaeological site.

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

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Studying Abroad in Rome

Shortly before I left to study abroad here in Rome, I found myself having to constantly answer the same question over and over from my friends and family in the States: “Why are you going to Rome?”  And then, all the rest: “Do you know anyone there?” “But it’s so chaotic!” “Do you speak the language?”  The idea of going abroad to study in Rome can throw people into a sort of tailspin with its overwhelming mass of past and present, big and small. Loud, louder, and loudest.

Rome is a city that draws people in from all over the world most likely for its treasure trove of charming contradictions:  ancient history and contemporary life, loud streets and quiet churches, urban chaos and green parks, and espresso-fueled days followed by afternoon naps and four-hour Sunday lunches.  And it is a one-of-a-kind outdoor and living museum that is irresistible– whether for its amazing ancient history and cultural heritage, or its an intangible quality of life here where you are always offered to try just one more flavor of their gelato or stay just a few minutes longer to chat over your cappuccino at the bar.  It is that very je ne sais quoi that makes those of us who come for a week, a summer and a semester want to stay a life time.

Fifteen non-stop weeks in Rome. Living in the city, making each neighborhood your classroom while studying with faculty at the top of their field who also eat, breathe and live what they teach ~these are what help to define our AIRC semester abroad program.  And then Rome, the city eternal, colors and highlights the rest quite easily.  Think of Rome as the background and stage for our program, which caters courses in history, art history, classics, communications and journalism, among others.  In fact, long ago, a professor once told me that living in Rome is like being in a play and that the moment you leave your house, you step out onto the stage and take part in a never-ending act.

Are you ready for your role?

~S.R.

For more information please visit our semester program information page here.  And contact Shelley Ruelle, Programs Director, at shelley.ruelle@romanculture.org.

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How Latin and Twitter helped a Journalist

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They are calling it “the tweet heard around the world”, a less than 140-character message by ANSA journalist Giovanna Chirri that announced to resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. “B16 si ‘e dimesso. Lascia pontificato dal 28 febbraio” [B16 is stepping down. Leaving on February 28.] The news itself is beyond spectacular.  As Papal history fans will note, Pope Benedict XVI will be the first pontiff to voluntarily resign since Gregory XII in 1415. Yes, nearly 600 year ago. And how this news was not just conveyed [Chirri's social media short-hand] but understood is just as spectacular.  Chirri, part of a papal audience on Monday, February 11, listened to the Pope’s Latin declaration,

Quapropter bene conscius ponderis huius actus plena libertate declaro me ministerio Episcopi Romae, Successoris Sancti Petri, mihi per manus Cardinalium die 19 aprilis MMV commissum renuntiare ita ut a die 28 februarii MMXIII, hora 29, sedes Romae, sedes Sancti Petri vacet et Conclave ad eligendum novum Summum Pontificem ab his quibus competit convocandum esse.” [For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.]

She confirmed with ANSA what she had heard, posted her tweet, and from there, the deluge.  Journalists quickly caught on, and began spreading the news, along with speculation as to why.  Chirri has quickly become a superstar both journalistically and linguistically.   Not only was she the very first to get the scoop on history-making news, she quickly followed up her tweet with another stating “the Pope’s Latin is very easy to understand”, an inadvertent shout-out to supporters of Latin language and its studies in academic institutions across the globe.  Optime, Iohanna!

Thanks to Chirri’s great use of Latin, a once “useless” language proves ever relevant in the real world and Latin’s lasting legacy continues to shine bright and clear.  It is opportune to note that there are many opportunities to study Latin around the world but very few to speak it and we are proud to support Latin and its uses in daily life and contemporary media by studying Latin in a contemporary and living environment.   Rome is the ideal city- as the city is literally covered in Latin inscriptions– and now with the world scrutinizing Vatican Ctiy for the coming months, it is a great opportunity to re-examine Latin’s role in contemporary society.

Pope Benedict XVI announces his resignation [VIDEO and below photo, The Guardian, February 11, 2012]

Click here for Official transcript

Pope Benedict XVI


Culture Week Canceled

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[Reconstructed imperial era tomb at the Museo Nazionale (Baths of Diocletian). Photo by Prof. Morel]

Every year, we eagerly await the announcement for Settimana della Cultura, Culture Week, a ten-day span which we’ve relished over the past several years as an opportunity not just to visit museums for free, but visit as many museums as possible.  This year, news was sent out early and unfortunately it was not good.  In an effort to cut costs and save money the Italian Ministry of Culture, MiBAC, has cancelled culture week.

Canceled? How could they do that?  It’s easy.  MiBAC’s Anna Maria Buzzi commented that “we [MiBAC] can no longer permit ourselves to renounce entry collections during those 7 days in spring,  one of the periods of the year when more visitors come [to Italy]. We will, however, maintain open museums with free entry the last Sunday of each month to Italian families in true financial difficulty.”

For those looking to save money while visiting museums and cultural sites, please make sure to look into state and province-sponsored cards such as Roma Pass,  a 3-day ticket which includes free entrance into two participating museums or archaeological sites, discounted entrance to subsequent sites and free public transport during the 72 hour time period. Cost: 30 euro.  And our favorite Archeologia Card, a 7-day ticket which includes free [single] entrance to Colosseo, Palatino/For Romano, National Museums: Palazzo Altemps, Palazzo Massimo, Crypta Balbi, Terme di Diocleziano, Baths of Caracalla, Cecilia Metella and Villa dei Quintilli. Cost: 27.50 euro.  Or the shorter term 4 Musei, a three-day ticket for single entry to Palazzo Altemps, Palazzo Massimo, Crypta Balbi and Terme di Diocleziano. Cost: 6.50 euro.


Study Abroad with AIRC: Cal State Fresno offers School of Record to AIRC Programs

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AIRC is pleased to announce the development of its partnership with California State University, Fresno (Fresno State), as official school of record for all academic program offerings. University academic credit for AIRC programs will now be offered by Fresno State. That includes our upcoming 15-week semester program:

as well as this summer’s program offerings:

The partnership, which is administered through Fresno State’s Division of Continuing and Global Education in partnership with the College of Arts and Humanities, support’s the University’s internationalization vision as articulated in its Strategic Plan for Excellence. Russel Statham, Manager for Administration and Global Operations, said, “We are excited about this new partnership and are pleased to be able to expand Fresno State’s role in promoting global education. Our alignment with AIRC will offer hundreds of students the opportunity to receive academic credit for world-class educational programs in Rome, and we are pleased to be a leader supporting international education opportunities.”

AIRC is proud to have Fresno State as its official partner in offering university academic credit for AIRC’s high-quality, one-of-a-kind academic programs in Rome, and is looking forward to the opportunity to now enroll a much wider range of students who require college credit for their academic experience abroad.

Now Enrolling! Click here to view AIRC Study Abroad Programs


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.


Applications Open: Archaeology Field School 2013

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We are pleased to announce that we are now accepting applications for our 2013 field school, an intensive six-week educational program in Roman archaeology led by AIRC faculty and affiliated expert archaeologists.  Following two successful digs in Ostia Antica, we continue in our investigations in the harbor city of ancient Rome.  And just as in past years, our field school offers both a synchronic (single-period) and a diachronic (multi-period) approach to the study of Roman culture to provide a comprehensive historical and cultural appreciation of Rome and Roman civilization, from its rise to power to its decline, understanding how it set a standard of cultural values that continues to exert influence over the entire Western world to this day.

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From June 10 through July 21, students will live in Rome’s historic center as they experience the unique combination of (1) one week of specialized academic instruction on the topography and development of Rome, including visits to major museums and open-air sites to augment field studies and provide participants with a broader context of what life was like in the ancient city, and (2) five weeks of hands-on fieldwork at Ostia Antica.  Students can expect hands-on experience and learning in techniques and methodologies of modern archaeological research, archaeological recording and record-keeping, identifying variety of Roman artifacts and building techniques/materials and practice “reading” art, architecture, and other traces of this civilization’s material culture to reconstruct the wider cultural framework, principles of conservation and in depth familiarity with the city of Rome, its port at Ostia and their rich archaeological record.

For more information about our field school, please visit the 2013 Field School information page, review the application/general information, and read  Popular Archaeology’s article about our excavation program.  We remain available to you via email info[at]romanculture.org and are happy to speak with

From June 10 through July 21, 2013, students will live in Rome’s historic center as they experience the unique combination of (1) one week of specialized academic instruction on the topography and development of Rome, including visits to major museums and open-air sites to augment field studies and provide participants with a broader context of what life was like in the ancient city, and (2) five weeks of hands-on fieldwork at an important archaeological site in the city and environs (including laser scanning and total station workshops).  Students can expect hands-on experience and learning in techniques and methodologies of modern archaeological research, archaeological record-keeping, identifying variety of Roman artifacts and building techniques/materials and practice “reading” art, architecture, and other traces of this civilization’s material culture to reconstruct the wider cultural framework, principles of conservation and in depth familiarity with the city of Rome, its port at Ostia and their rich archaeological record.

For more information about our field school, please visit the 2013 Field School information page, review the application/general information, and read  Popular Archaeology‘s article about our excavation program.  We remain available to you via email info[at]romanculture.org and are happy to speak with you to set up a phone conversation to discuss your academic and logistical needs.

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Habemus @Pontifex! Pipiatio Latina: What will you tweet the Pope #LTNL

Shortly after  Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi announced on twitter and in Latin the Pontifical Academy for Latin Studies,  the Vatican announced that Pope Benedict XVI will begin tweeting on December 12 as @Pontifex, perhaps the best handle to appear on Twitter in years.  We are excited that @Pontifex will be flexing the papal fingers to comment in no less than eight languages: English, Italian, German, French, Portuguese, Polish, Arabic and Spanish (each under language-specific Twitter accounts).

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Since only a few tweets will be hand-picked and then responded to by @Pontifex,  our upcoming Latin tweet up will focus on Quid pipies Romano Pontifici?  So for the next few days think about what you would tweet the Pope and then join in to Pipiatio Latina #LTNL Tuesday, December 11 at 3 pm Pacific/ 6pm Eastern Standard.

Pipiatio Latina is led by Dr. Nancy Llewellyn, Associate Professor of Latin at Wyoming Catholic College.  To participate, submit tweets to Nancy @RomeontheRange and @AIRomanculture, or send us questions/comments in advance  to info@romanculture.org.  Whether simply following or ready to engage in some chatter, look for hash tags: #LTNL and #LatinTweetUp and remember to add either or both of them to your tweets. We’ve also customized a TweetGrid so that you can follow the hashtags and our account at the same time.

Thanks for helping to promote Latin in the real and virtual worlds!

For a glimpse into Latin in action, please take a look at our Summer 2012 “Living Latin, Living History in Rome” program videos.


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


Halloween is all over Rome

Man-eating dolphins, crazy cow heads, scary skeletors, fake saints and a drainage mask- it  seems like Rome has always been ready for Halloween. . . .

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We’re getting smart: SmARTHistory

Over the past year, we’ve had our ear to the ground and one eye on the open, academic road as we are very interested in navigating the trails of online educational sites.  They are hot topics with even hotter names like Coursera, Udacity, Stanford and MIT.  Add Smarthistory/KhanAcademy to the list and you’ll find us literally digging through time with Smarthistory.org’s executive editors Steven Zucker and Beth Harris.

Smarthistory is a “not-for-profit, multi-media web-book designed as a dynamic enhancement for the traditional art history textbook”.  Are we looking to replace print? No, just increase the volume of discussion.  Or as John Berger once said, “the ways of seeing.” Enjoy our first collaboration: Digging through Time, and keep an eye out for more!


Pipiatio Latina: Agere Latine #LTNL

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Latin-language ATMs, Latin-speaking tour guides and Latin Segway riding scholars. Thanks to scholars, fans and friends, Latin language is making a comeback outside of the classroom and on to the streets.  In the quest to promote Latin, we want to celebrate our second year of Pipiatio Latina, a face-paced, on-going Latin-language Twitter meet up, on Thursday October 25th with the season’s first sixty-minute tweet up all about promoting Latin in real life use: Pipiatio Latina: Agere Latine.

Co-hosted by  Dr. Nancy Llewellyn and American Institute for Roman Culture, Pipiatio Latina will begin at 2 pm Central/ 4pm Eastern Standard time on Twitter.  Just search for hashtag #LTNL and #LatinTweetUp, or keep your eye on @AIRomanculture.  We’ve also customized a TweetGrid so that you can follow all three at once.Whether available by twitter or not, we encourage all of you to participate: send us questions/comments in advance  to info@romanculture.org,  @AIRomanculture, and Facebook  RomanCulture so that we can feature them in the #LatinTweetup.  And definitely state your mind in real time during Thursday’s tweet up.  We will be posting a follow up to each tweet up on this blog and will continue #LTNL Latin Tweet Ups through the year.

Help us to promote Latin by joining in and spreading the word!

For a glimpse into Latin in action, please take a look at our Summer 2012 “Living Latin, Living History in Rome” program videos.

 


That’s a Wrap: Living Latin videos on YouTube

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Salve! We wanted to share a peek into our Summer 2012’s “Living Latin, Living History in Rome” summer program led by Prof. Nancy Llewellyn of Wyoming Catholic College.  Nancy, an expert in spoken Latin practice and pedagogy, brought students in and out of Rome in an almost completely spoken Latin environment, and she was kind of enough to enjoy a bit of educational paparazzi.

The following links are for two videos produced by AIRC. T his summer, we followed Nancy and class — and had a great time, of course!  We hope  you do as well, and continue to spread the word[s] on living Latin.

  1. Overview of the program experience, showing the on-site readings, guest lectures, classroom exercises, and excursions that make this program unique and a must for any student who wants to understand Latin at the deepest level.
  2. Interview with Prof. Llewellyn in which she explains how she became involved with spoken Latin and why learning to speak the language is so important for anyone who works extensively with it.


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