MINISTERO DEI BENI E DELLE ATTIVITA’ CULTURALI E DEL TURISMO SOPRINTENDENZA SPECIALE PER I BENI ARCHEOLOGICI DI ROMA
La Soprintendenza speciale per i beni archeologici di Roma, con l’American Institute for Roman Culture, presenta i risultati delle più recenti ricerche effettuate nel Suburbium di Ostia antica. L’appuntamento con gli archeologi e con gli studenti di archeologia di 14 università del Nord America è fissato per venerdì 19, alle ore 10.00, all’angolo fra via dei Romagnoli e via della Stazione di Ostia antica (v. mappa).
Please join the Superintendency, along with the American Institute for Roman Culture, in the presentation of the findings of the most recent research of the Suburbium of Ostia Antica on Friday July 19 at 10 am. The conference will be held at our dig Parco dei Ravennati in Ostia Antica, via dei Romagnoli and via della Stazione di Ostia antica, see maps below. (more…)
- 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!”
- Remember all your hard work will eventually pay off* : Excavation needs to be a slow process
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…)
Week 2 at Parco dei Ravennati takes us behind the scenes with Katherine Livingston, University of Minnesota (Twin Cities), Near Eastern and Mediterranean Archaeology major:
When people hear that I am in Rome for an archaeological dig, many comments referencing Lara Croft or Indiana Jones pop up. The adventurous and even dangerous connotation that archaeology has developed in the media is generally fictitious. So when I heard Dr. Michele Raddi refer to some of his teachings as “Survival Archaeology” during workshops I let out a small scoff. But over this week I’ve seen that while it may not be risking life or death, surviving means adapting and cooperating for the ensured integrity and success of an archeological site. (more…)
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.
You don’t have to cross the Atlantic, meander your way through Europe nor head westward on the Orient Express to catch a glimpse of Rome. The empire’s inheritance to the world can be seen in modern and contemporary architecture in almost every town and city across the globe. We are always on the look out for imperial garland detail on a window, a forum in a shopping mall or a full-fledged coliseum/library/sports complex. Thank you for helping us find some Rome away from Rome wherever you are. Please keep it up– we are building a great gallery of “Roman” architecture which you can see on Statigr.am.
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.
Truth be told, the Roman Empire didn’t fully collapse and disappear. We see traces of classical architecture in our every day life, whether when walking around a sporting arena (hello, Los Angeles Coliseum!) or walking through a residential building entrance with a subtle egg-and-dart decoration. It doesn’t matter where in the world you are, there is always a little reminder of Rome that keeps the city, well, eternal.
With that in mind, we are asking you to show us Rome in your town with a call for photos. New York, Paris, Frankfurt, Seattle, London, Las Vegas, Bala Cynwyd, EUR…. we all know you have a little Rome in you, so show us what you’ve got. Friezes, gardens, markets, facades, rosettes, temples, train stations, and more. Does your Rome outside of Rome fit in with its surroundings or feel just a bit out of place? Is it reminiscent of the Pantheon, the Ara Pacis, the Roman Forum? And please let us know how you feel about it.
Rome away from Rome:Submit photos to info[at]romanculture.org with a description of what it is and where it is located. You can also submit directly to Facebookand Twitter. Make sure to include hashtag #romeawayfromrome, and any other info you’d like to share about the photo, as well as your blog, website, Twitter and other accounts. Upon receiving your photo(s), we will feature them on our blog, Facebook and Twitter. There is no deadline- just an ongoing photo project!
Photo of the New York Public Library by GreatBuildings
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.
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).
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.
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.
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
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?
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]
[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.
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:
- Fall 2013 Signature Semester Program September 2-December 12, 2013
as well as this summer’s program offerings:
- Living Latin, Living History A unique program in colloquial, spoken Latin language with Professor Nancy Llewellyn
- Layers of Rome, Track 1 History and Art History A comprehensive overview of the ancient Roman world
- Layers of Rome, Track 2 Media Studies A solid basis in ancient Roman studies for producing a real-world media project
- Archaeological Field School An intense hands-on excavation program, now in its 11th year
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.
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.
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.
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
The American Institute has just embarked on our first Kickstarter project with a target of $10,000 to fund production of a one-hour documentary, Digging History. Digging History will be the first of what we hope to lead to many documentaries that will be available as free, online educational resource for use to students and schools/universities, as well as anyone with an interest in learning more. Digging History is hosted and created by the AIRC team along with historians, archaeologists, videographers, historical and cultural experts and will bring viewers behind the scenes and learn about topics in art, archaeology, history, architecture, sustainability, conservation, religion and politics, from experts as they conduct their work, giving fun, accessible insights on the city and the people and events that shaped it, and continue to shape it.
As we have mentioned in other posts, we have already created several free, educational video podcasts in Rome and throughout Italy, made possible by partnerships with the Italian Ministry of Culture, and archaeological organizations AIAC and Fastionline. With this Kickstarter project, our long-term goal is to produce a huge amount of engaging content to become an online hub and focus for learning about all aspects of Roman culture. Please join us in our Kickstarted campaign– every contribution helps and each pledge is gratefully acknowledged and rewarded. All contributions are tax deductible.
Please join our Digging History Kickstarter Campaign.
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.
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).
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
Any time an ancient site opens, or better yet, reopens, it is a cause for celebration. Once again, we are permitted to literally step into history and equally watch as history makes itself thanks to continued cultural heritage endeavors and financial support. This is especially the case with the recent opening of the Mithraeum of the Baths of Caracalla. Originally discovered in 1912, this mithraeum is considered the largest documented gathering space for the worshippers of Mithras. (Mithras was a Persian god in vogue with the military and mostly lower class men, in the second and third centuries AD.) The mithraeum, approximately 23 meters long and 10 meters wide with a soaring cross-vaulted ceiling, can be only roughly dated by the two main events associated with the bath complex: the mithraeum was certainly created after the complex was completed in AD 217, and it was probably no longer in use when the aqueduct supplying the complex was cut during the Greco-Gothic Wars in 537. In reality, it probably went out of use long before 537, since most scholars hold that Christianity had supplanted Mithraism as a “religion for the masses” by the early 4th century.
Today, a visit to the mithraeum can be considered a brief one, as what is available to us are primarily two chambers: a small square ante-chamber and the main rectangular meeting hall. Apart from a recently-restored fresco of the god (missing the face, unfortunately – presumably hacked away by Christians), there is very little left of the decoration, which was probably very lavish. The well-preserved podium structures on either long side, on which the worshippers reclined during ritual meals, give an excellent idea of the context and purpose of the shrine. Certainly the most intriguing feature is the small tunnel that runs under the center of the main hall into an adjoining room, where there is an entrance/exit with staircase; this has been identified with some controversy as the fossa sanguinis, the ritual pit over which the bull at the center of the Mithraic mythology was slaughtered, bathing one or more initiates in its blood.
Its location, off a dirt road adjacent to the main entrance, is part of a subterranean area of the Baths of Caracalla. The mithraeum space is just one part of the massive, sprawling system of underground corridors that honeycombs the large artificial platform supporting the Baths of Caracalla. Beneath the thermae complex lies a warren of tunnels with furnaces, stoked by slaves, and storage areas for supplies, including wood. Though access to these tunnels is today only partial, there are confirmed plans to extend the conservation and restoration work to make more of these areas accessible, including a substantial area dedicated to grinding grain using the water that passed through the baths.
It is important to note that Rome and its port city Ostia Antica have the largest number of preserved mithraea of any city in the Roman empire—scholars estimate that Rome once had 700 Mithraic shrines, while Ostia boasts 17 confirmed shrines—but only a small percentage of these are accessible to the public. More money and more investment will only benefit conservation and access for tourists who are increasingly willing to explore the more remote corners of the ancient city.
Visiting the Mithraeum is also an excellent excuse to head into the Baths of Caracalla to walk among the monumental structure and also enjoy a contemporary art installation by Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto. Three interlocking circles made up of fragrments of ancient marble and stone, Terzo Paradiso is the new symbol of infinity created by Pistoletto originally for the 2005 Venice Biennale, and an ongoing, collaborative project in varying venues and media. The new infinity symbol is all to action for the active and conscious need to create a “third paradise” to combat and transplant the artificial world we are celebrating today. Too deep? Too artsy? In any case, the site specific installation (through January 6, 2013) is a beautiful juxtaposition of contemporary and ancient, especially with the backdrop of the majestic pines and Baths of Caracalla.
How to visit: advance reservation for a guided tour to Mithraeum at the Baths of Caracalla will cost 16.50 euro and does not include entrance to the Baths. Here’s a tip- try the unguided visits at 10:00, 10:30, and 1:00, which are practically empty on weekdays. How? Buy the regular ticket (6.00 euros) at the ticket booth and pay a 1.50 euro supplement to visit the Mithraeum at one of those three times.
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)
“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