Rome is empty of tourists in late January; Umbria is even emptier, yet on most days there is sunshine for nine hours. Middle Italy’s landscapes are brought into a blissful clarity by the low angle of the sun, which makes a trip outside the Eternal City utterly bewitching. Little over an hour north of Rome [...]
The EU have launched a £36.1m project to help conserve the spectacular Roman ruins at Pompeii. Approved by the European Commission in 2012, the funding aims to consolidate ancient structures, improve drainage, and assist the training of staff. Special measures will also be taken to protect the initiative from the influence of organised crime – [...]
Conservation work on the Colosseum’s only remaining covered passageway has revealed fragments of colourful frescoes and graffiti from the Roman period. Previously hidden beneath layers of calcified rock and dirt, the red, black, and blue scribbles suggest that the white and grey marble surfaces of the 1st-century AD amphitheatre might once have been much more [...]
As a schoolboy, Philip Kenrick was hooked by the fine red Samian ware he found amongst the coarse indigenous pottery at a site on the Watling Street in England. Otherwise known as terra sigillata, its more handsome precursor comes from Italy, and was traded throughout the Roman world. After enjoying great popularity, it suddenly fell from grace. Why?
A 16- to 20-year-old Roman from the 3rd century AD represents the first complete skeleton of a person with gigantism known from Antiquity, according to a paper in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. At 2m (6ft 7in), he would have towered over contemporaries in imperial Rome, when men averaged around 1.7m (5ft 7in) [...]
A team of French and Italian archaeologists have announced the discovery of the lost harbour of Ostia, once ancient Rome’s primary seaport. The commercial centre was founded beside the Tiber in c.620 BC to give Rome an outlet to the sea and guard against enemy fleets entering the river. According to contemporary writers such as [...]
The Temple of Hera at Selinunte is testament to the grandeur of this great Classical settlement. But it is just one of many on this sanctuary site. Now, Clemente Marconi and his team have uncovered one of the finest examples of Greek cult architecture and, next to it, one of the earliest to be discovered so far West – dedicated, they believe, to Hera’s sister Demeter.
The well-preserved wreck of a 2,000-year-old Roman merchant ship carrying hundreds of clay amphorae has been found off the coast of Italy. Following a tip-off by fishermen who reported finding pottery fragments in their trawler nets (see CWA 54 for more on the impact of commercial fishing on underwater heritage), researchers from the Genoan Police [...]
Archaeologists have mapped the entire streetplan of a lost Roman town, revealing that what was thought to be a sleepy backwater was in fact a thriving urban centre housing thousands of people. Interamna Lirenas was founded 50 miles south of Rome in the 4th century BC, but following its abandonment 1,500 years ago the colony [...]
We are proud to share with you the first published photos of the House of the Telephus Relief at Herculaneum since archaeologists started their reconstruction of its wooden roof and completed studies of its decorated ceiling. The roof had been swept off by the force of the eruption when Vesuvius blew its top in AD [...]
New research has deciphered two 1,600-year-old curses from the Late Roman Empire. Written in Latin and Greek on thin lead tablets, the inscriptions include drawings of their intended victims and a snake-haired figure thought to be Hekate, Greek goddess of witchcraft. The tablets were originally acquired by the Museo Archeologico Civico di Bologna in the [...]
All roads seem to lead to Rome. I once lived here for seven years and now, by way of another capital, Philadelphia, I am back. What is the attraction? Well, few places are steeped in so much history – ancient, Medieval, and modern. Few places, too, mix such energy with history. Forget the problems of [...]
Researchers studying 5,300-year-old ‘Oetzi’ have found traces of blood, the oldest red blood cells ever recovered, showing he died shortly after his wound was inflicted. Tissue samples from his fatal arrow wound revealed the distinctive ‘doughnut’ shape of red blood cells, and fibrin, a protein associated with blood clotting. The traces of fibrin show the [...]
Shelley Hales and Joanna Paul (eds) Oxford University Press, £80 Walter Scott called it a ‘City of the Dead’. To Goethe it was a ‘mummified town’. Part mausoleum, part museum, Pompeii’s timeless ruins have fascinated visitors since their rediscovery over 250 years ago, providing inspiration to students of Classical art who have sought to resurrect [...]
Pompeii and its neighbour Herculaneum are among the oldest archaeological sites in the world, but today they risk destruction by exposure to the elements, tourist traffic, and time. Yet these are not new problems. As early as the 18th century, excavators applied varnish to wall-paintings in an attempt to prevent their decay; different types of conservation work have taken place on site ever since. The challenge now is to ensure the preservation of these sites while continuing investigations into the town, its inhabitants, and its history. How can we preserve Pompeii’s past for our future? And what more is there to learn?
Imperial Rome’s mighty maritime gate at Portus was revealed in CWA 42. Now, Simon Keay reports on an exciting new discovery that may hold the key to the nature of this port: the giant military shipsheds of the Emperor’s fleet.
Tuscany conjures thoughts of the apogee of rich living. Its picturesque villages, graced by grand villas and their pools, serve as summer homes to the jet set. It is hard not to conclude that it has always been like this. Renaissance towns and castle-sized farms from the same period are a global benchmark for civilised [...]
A 45,000-year-old toddler’s milk tooth, found in southern Italy, is evidence of the first modern humans to reach Europe. Stefano Benazzi, of the University of Vienna, and Katerina Douka, from Oxford University, and colleagues, have identified two milk teeth as being early modern human rather than Neanderthal, as previously believed. Both are molars: one belonging [...]
Studies of the past tend to focus on the great sweeps of history, on the elite, and on their monumental buildings. But how did the ordinary person go about their daily life? How did the urban environment affect them, and how were they affected by it? The editors here choose three major cities in which [...]
There have been many Romes. From the earliest scattered huts on the Palatine to the frenetic modern metropolis, the Eternal City has repeatedly reinvented itself. Augustus boasted of finding it brick, and leaving it marble, while the Popes presided over a landscape of martyrs’ relics, before the Renaissance and Baroque movements recast the urban fabric [...]