Italy

Italy: first modern European

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 […]

Book review: Rome, Ostia, Pompeii

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 […]

1078

Book review: When in Rome: 2000 years of Roman sightseeing

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 […]

1053

Book Review: Resurrecting Pompeii

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: […]

1027

A postcard from San Vincenzo Al Volturno

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 […]

1028

Book Review: Herculaneum: Past and Future

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 […]

1012

Palatine Hill

The remains – remarkably unprepossessing amid the spectacular ruins of classical Rome all around – comprise postholes, wall-slots, and drainage gullies, defining three small structures.

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 […]

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 […]

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