What is it? This mid 3rd century AD semi-cylindrical shield is known as a scutum and was used by legionary soldiers of the Roman Empire. Constructed of thin strips of wood glued together in layers to create a plywood board, the surface is covered with red-dyed hide or parchment. The round opening in the centre […]
The Guatemalan rainforest has kept its secrets well. Maya monuments like the world-famous pyramids at Tikal may seem hard to miss, but until recently surveying the dense jungle posed a formidable challenge. Now extensive aerial survey using lasers to strip away the foliage virtually has revealed just how much escaped detection. Tikal has gained two […]
Some of the finest surviving remnants of the Roman Empire can be found in Algeria. But how easy are they to visit? Philip Kenrick is our guide. For the tourist who is interested in the Classical Mediterranean (encouraged not least by the warmth), several really interesting countries with stunning antiquities have in recent years ceased […]
The mysterious images on the Nasca plateau, Peru, have captured countless imaginations. But where did this tradition of planting pictures in the earth come from? A curious congregation of figures and beasts, clustered around the nearby city of Palpa, seems to have been crafted before their famous neighbours. As new survey reveals further examples of […]
A fresh perspective on Pompeii and Herculaneum In the wake of the highly successful Expanded Interiors exhibition at Pompeii and Herculaneum, Catrin Huber and Ian Haynes reflect on what contemporary fine-art practice can reveal about Roman decoration. For many visitors, a trip to Pompeii and Herculaneum is all about the art. Countless ancient cities were […]
Today, a network of subterranean passages spreads out from under the world’s first cathedral, in Rome. Within the tunnels are remnants of Roman buildings dating from the Republic to the 4th century AD. The challenges associated with piecing together this remarkable jigsaw puzzle mean that the remains have never been studied as a group – until now.
At first, they came by sea, carrying cargoes of broken objects destined to be deposited at the world’s earliest known maritime sanctuary. Their destination was Keros, a small island in the heart of the Cyclades, which offered little in the way of natural resources to detain the voyagers after they had made their observances. But […]
Infancy and Earliest Childhood in the Roman World Maureen Carroll Oxford University Press, £75 ISBN 978-0199687633 Review by: Matthew Symonds It is received wisdom that Roman parents did not see infants as people, and so were unmoved by the death of newborns, insulating them from the high infant-mortality rate. This argument is seemingly borne out […]
The Science of Roman History: biology, climate, and the future of the past Walter Scheidel (ed.) Princeton University Press, £27 ISBN 978-0691162560 Review by: Hella Eckardt The study of the Roman past is often thought of as a conservative discipline, but this book demonstrates the enormous potential of historians and archaeologists engaging with new types […]
Materialising Roman Histories Astrid Van Oyen and Martin Pitts (eds) Oxbow Books, £40 ISBN 978-1785706769 Review by: Matthew Fittock Your possessions can tell people a lot about who you are, but this only makes up a small part of what objects do and mean: all have hidden stories that have quietly shaped lives in ways that […]
Few villas have been excavated in Sicily, but recent work at Gerace has revealed the name of the landowner from c.AD 350 to 400, one Philippianus. How much can archaeology tell us about him?
What is it? This is a Roman stone sundial, a timekeeping device that had become quite common in the Roman world from the 2nd century BC onwards. Carved out of a limestone block (54cm × 35cm × 25cm), the sundial is engraved with 11 hour-lines (demarcating the 12 horae of daylight) intersecting three day-curves (giving […]