promoting cultural heritage and conservation

Posts tagged “Sustainable

Cultural Heritage and Instagram

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.

Have an IG account?  Follow us at SaveRome.  No account, no worries: you can still see our photos at Instgram.com/SaveRome and all photos tagged #culturalheritage.

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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)


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


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.




Life in the Trenches: Romesick

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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.

~ Alexandria Yen, SAFS ’10, will receive her B.A. in Archaeology and Art History from the University of Southern Californiain 2012


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:

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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.


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