Category: Issue 45

991

Life and Death at Vagnari

Throughout most of Italy, the 2nd and 1st centuries BC were a time of increasing prosperity. Towns sprang up and flourished, while the countryside grew ever more affluent. There is only one blot on this picture of rude economic health: the area of southern Italy we are examining. Growth appears particularly stunted in the vicinity […]

992

Down to Today

The convulsions in land use that usher in the post-Roman period are vividly laid bare by the Vagnari survey. In the 4th and 5th centuries, pottery distribution on the Imperial estate undergoes a fundamental change. Instead of clustering at the tilery and villa sites, there is a denser, more widespread scatter of Late Roman painted […]

993

United States: The World Trade Center ship

Not long after sunrise on 13 July 2010, two archaeologists descended a long aluminium ladder into a 25-ft deep pit immediately south of the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan. The archaeologists made this descent, as they and their colleagues had many mornings before over the previous months, to monitor the lumbering activities of a […]

994

Norway Oseberg ladies

In August 1903 Gabriel Gustafson, director of the University Museum of Antiquities in Kristiana (now Oslo), received an unexpected visitor. The caller, Oskar Rom, had travelled nearly 100km from his farm at Oseberg to tell tales of a Viking ship burial there. But the museum was in the process of moving, and the director had […]

986

Hannibal’s Revenge

In the summer of 1911, the young Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975) went on a bicycling tour around Rome and began to realise that the history of southern Italy was different from that of the north. When he returned to Oxford, he gave a series of lectures on the subject, but then his mind turned to higher […]

987

Botromagno: Becoming Urban

Today, Gravina is one of those little-known Italian towns that every tourist falls for. Meaning ‘ravine’ in Italian, the town is aptly named, as it teeters alarmingly on the brink of a precipice. This picturesque, if precarious, position lies some distance inland – 40 miles west of the provincial capital of Bari on the east […]

988

Fieldwalking

In 1996, Alastair Small and his wife Carola launched a major fieldwalking project to examine the countryside near Gravina. Focusing on the area along the Basentello River, they undertook ten seasons of survey here, covering an impressive 100km². Small teams of students assisted by local volunteers would scour the fields, walking 15m apart, and subdividing […]

989

Metapontum and Tarentum

The fate of the inland cities of Southern Italy depended to a considerable extent on the fortunes of the Greek colonies springing up along the coast; and for Botromagno in particular, on those of Metapontum near the mouth of the Bradano River. The greatest of these colonies was Tarentum (modern Taranto), founded in the 8th […]

990

Venusia’s supersize colony

The Samnites were hardy folk. Living in a region dominated by the Apennine mountains to the southeast of Rome, they proved reluctant to submit to the fledgling power’s imperium. Tensions flared into open conflict around 343 BC, when Rome was drawn into a land dispute. The Samnites were eager to be able to graze their […]

980

Pompeii problems

Questions are being asked about the cultural priorities of the Italian Government in the wake of recent structural damage to the ancient Roman ruins at Pompeii. Italy’s own President, Giorgio Napolitano, described as ‘a disgrace’ the collapse on 6 November 2010 of the Schola Armaturarum Juventus Pompeiani (‘the House of the Gladiators’), and with it […]

981

Ancient Maya marketplace

Archaeologists and soil scientists have come up with the novel theory that the open areas conventionally described as ‘ritual plazas’ in Mayan cities of the Classic era (AD 300 to 900) could really be outdoor markets. This idea challenges the notion that the Maya had a centralised food distribution system whereby foodstuffs were controlled by the […]

982

Southern India’s Rock Art Riches

Northern and central India are renowned for their vast amount of rock art of global significance; now an international team has demonstrated that southern India is as rich in art, dating from at least 10,000 years ago. Rock-art specialist Paul Taçon, of Australia’s Griffith University, has published some 60 new rock-art sites in the journal […]

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