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 […]
Since it was first excavated in 1748, the drama of Pompeii has excited the imaginations of archaeologists and tourists alike. Our impression of the site is informed primarily by a storytelling approach based largely on circumstantial evidence, and promoted by 18th- and 19th-century archaeologists who were not averse to holding ‘excavations’ to impress celebrity visitors: […]
Thirty years ago my career took a memorable new turn. I had been trained in settlement archaeology and the theory and practice that this entailed. Much of this was controversial because I subscribed to the so-called New Archaeology championed by a generation of American archaeologists and emulated with some skill by the rising stars of […]
Herculaneum’s destruction is a familiar story. On the 24 August AD 79 Vesuvius erupted, sending superheated mud cascading though the town, killing all before it, and carbonising timbers, foodstuffs, and documents. The helpless inhabitants died in the opening salvo of a geological catastrophe for which the only warning had been an earthquake over a decade […]
The remains – remarkably unprepossessing amid the spectacular ruins of classical Rome all around – comprise postholes, wall-slots, and drainage gullies, defining three small structures.
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 […]
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 […]