Over the past year, we’ve fallen in love with Instagram- and not just because it enables all our I-spy fantasies, but because Instagram photos help to spread the word about cultural heritage. Whether professional photographers or accidental tourists, IGers (as we’ve been told they are called) are capturing culture in an instant. Deliberate or not, ancient or contemporary, culture and history are being documented with the press of a thumb and a tap on “share”. Next to “share”, the “explore” button is our favorite vehicle for traveling the world in search of whatever we want–and we’re not just looking for archaeology!
Protecting, saving and sharing cultural heritage is part of our mission which we strive for in a variety of media- from classrooms and dig sites to our smart phones. Please join in by tagging your photos #culturalheritage. And if you find something great about Rome, any where in its ancient empire or its contemporary culture, tag it #digrome as well.
From professional to happenstance, here’s who we are spying: Darius Arya (Roman Forum, Rome), Allison Roberts (Matrigny house in New Orleans, USA), Benten Tangen (Petra, Jordan), Jerome Foster (El Djem, Tunisa), Stefdw (lego Ankor Wat), Guilherme Abuchahla (Machu Pichu, Peru), Javiera O’Ryan (Easter Island), Fatihkon (St. Petersburg, Russia), Zanjeer (Balbek, Lebanon), Taylor Murray (Route 66 sign), Agnes Crawford (Last Supper, Taddeo Gaddi)
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.
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)
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.
Potential student excavators beware! If you go with AIRC to dig in Ostia, you WILL feel “Romesick” as soon as you leave!
I participated in AIRC’s Ostia field school two summers ago, and my time in Rome still affects who I am today. I now conduct my discipline of art history/archaeology as well as my life differently because of having learned and lived in this unique environment.
Ostia Antica is a fantastic site to excavate. It seems like it is always a work in progress, with other field schools and preservation projects occurring at the same time as AIRC’s dig. As an excavator, you are part of the process that creates and shapes how tourists and historians will perceive Ostia. Every time you sink your pickaxe or shovel into the ground, you are technically determining how the future will understand the ancient past!! Every day it felt so satisfying to walk back to the train station with everyone, covered in dirt from a hard day’s work and thinking about what laid in store for us tomorrow.
By the end of the six weeks, I loved all of the amazing friendships I made and how much I learned about myself. I still keep in touch with the other USC students who went on the dig with me, as well as many of the non-USC students too. I got to know and learn from Professor John Pollini and the AIRC staffers, and they all have been incredible mentors and teachers to me. I loved the independence and confidence I gained from living in Rome, being able to wander around on the weekends and late afternoons casually exploring the city. I really felt that I knew Rome like a local, like it had always been my home.
Even after two years, my time in Ostia with AIRC continues to aid my eagerness to learn. I went on another dig this past summer, and it was great to already have some excavation knowledge (and impress the field school’s staff with it!!). I could immediately participate in more complicated activities like field surveying and artifact conservation because AIRC gave me a great foundation in proper excavating, preserving, and cataloging techniques. They provided a well-rounded introduction to field archaeology that expanded my future opportunities.
If you aren’t scared of getting dirty, actively shaping Roman history, and living abroad for a summer, then AIRC’s Ostia field school will be a fantastic experience! My time in Rome changed me, and since then I have truly looked at life and the ancient past in a different and exciting way.
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:
- Test link: http://www.ktroma.it/romanculturestreaming/index.html
- Ttest page (to see how the video streaming works) http://www.ktroma.it/streaming/index.html
- For conducting a test prior to 23rd:
- For Ipad: With GoodPlayer App clicking on link on March 23
- Twitter: #UNLST2012 and UNLISTED TweetGrid
What you need
PC: Internet explorer or other browsers with windows media player plugin
MacOSX: Safari or other browsers with Flip For Mac Plugin
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.
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.
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.
“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.
Photo from Wikipedia.
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 video for 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…
The Colosseum, the quintessential symbol of Rome and Roman culture, has been a fixture in the international news for the past several months, mostly because of a series of incidents involving small pieces of stone, cement, and plaster that have detached and fallen, usually without causing injury. Is the Colosseum falling down? Yes and no.
In its 1930 years the Flavian Amphitheater (to use its formal name) has endured every conceivable form of structural stress and degradation: floods, fires, lightning strikes, earthquakes, invasive occupation by animals and humans (for settlement, commerce, and burial), deliberate attack (to remove the metal clamps holding together the blocks, creating the current Swiss-cheese appearance), and the slow, steady decay that every structure experiences due to seasonal changes in temperature and atmospheric moisture and pressure.
The most spectacular event in its history was undoubtedly the collapse of the southern section of the outer ring in the mid-14th century after a particularly violent earthquake shook the loose sediments underpinning the south side, where the lake of Nero’s Golden House had been (and, before that, a swampy basin fed by a small stream). The Colosseum was left in a particularly vulnerable state until the early 19th century, when an enlightened papal government sealed the exposed and buckling edges of the outer ring with the enormous brick buttresses visible today.
Fast-forward 200 years. What has changed in the Colosseum’s condition since then? Very little, if anything: fragments small and large have continued to detach, mostly because of the weather and age, and the general wear has accelerated due to tourist activity. But there is more awareness of the problems, mostly because of their economic effects. The Colosseum alone rakes in 35 million euros in ticket sales per year. Closing it to the public, as happened twice this month because of the extraordinary snow events in Rome, costs Italy hundreds of thousands of euros.
What is being done to conserve the Colosseum?
– by Albert Prieto, AIRC Associate Director of Archaeology
What do you have planned for this summer?
If you join one of the AIRC study abroad programs, you could be reading messages etched in ancient stone and speaking like a Roman emperor. Or washing dishes that have been sitting around for thousands of years. You could report and document (photography/film) limited access archeological sites. And you could even go to gladiator school.
AIRC has a very exciting summer lined up, (more…)