Category Archives: Classical Archaeology

Smarthistory: Khan Academy for Social Studies

Great Mosque at Damascus by G. Lewis, courtesy of Smarthistory & Flickr

Great Mosque at Damascus by G. Lewis, courtesy of Smarthistory & Flickr

Khan Academy is popular in math for its brief lectures and interactive modules. However, you can also use it in the Social Studies. Check out Smarthistory, a free multimedia platform for student and teacher of history, archaeology, museum curation, and art history.

It includes an interactive timeline, in-depth yet easy to understand articles, vibrant images, and videos about topics throughout history and around the globe. Check out “Teach with Smarthistory” for ideas on how to incorporate it into your classroom. If you are a historian, archaeologist, museum curator, or otherwise involved in the social science consider contributing an article or multimedia content. Additionally, Smarthistory contributes videos to Google Art Project.

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Digital Roman Archaeology

The famous Serapium at Hadrian's Villa, Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The famous Serapium at Hadrian’s Villa, Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

My friend and former Professor Bernie Frischer, Ph.D. has just formally launched his Digital Archaeology Project of Hadrian’s Villa. The Roman Emperor Hadrian built his luxury Villa at Tivoli during the 2nd century CE.

The Digital Hadrian’s Villa allows visitors to examine sections of site via plans, images, 360° panoramic views, as well as 3D walkthroughs. It also includes videos and interviews with prominent scholars. This is an amazing, and free, resource for scholars and laypersons interested in Roman history and archaeology!

Explore Life & Death of Pompeii & Herculaneum on your iOS Device Courtesy of the British Museum

© British Museum

© British Museum

The British Museum, in conjunction with its exhibit on Pompeii and Herculaneum, has released an iOS App for the iPhone  ($2.99) and the iPad ($5.99). The application allows users to explores the cities via interactive maps, view objects in high resolution and contextual detail, an in depth timeline, and the aftermath of the eruption (including the city’s later discovery and excavation). The application draws from archaeological discoveries, the remains at the cite, historical sources (specifically the account of Pliny the Younger).

Right now, the application is limited to iOS devices but an Android version is planned to be released in May 2013.

For more information on the exhibit and its resources, be sure to check out the British Museum’s online exhibition website.

Ancient Pompeii’s Social Media

Pompeii shadowed by Mt. Vesuvius courtesy of Wikimedia

Pompeii shadowed by Mt. Vesuvius courtesy of Wikimedia

The Roman city of Pompeii was destroyed and buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 CE. The preserved city allows archaeologists, historians, and Classicists to examine materials far better preserved than a ‘traditional’ archaeological ruin.

The graffiti on the walls of Pompeii are famous for the content and vulgarity. However, scholars now believe they served another purpose: communication. Perhaps working as an early, non-tech, “social media.” Property owners may have had control over the political messages written on their walls.

“The current view is that any candidate could have chosen any location and have their ad painted on the wall. After looking at the contexts, this would not seem very likely. The facades of the private houses and even the streetwalks in front of them were controlled and maintained by the owner of the house, and in that respect, the idea that the wall space could be appropriated by anyone who wanted to do it seems unlikely.” – Eeva-Maria Viitanen

To learn more about the political ads and their role at the city of Pompeii, see the article posted at Scientific American.

Famous Roman Shipwreck Off the Coast of Greece Could be Two Ships

Antikythera Mechanism fragment courtesy of Wikimedia

Antikythera Mechanism fragment courtesy of Wikimedia

The famous Roman shipwreck at Antikythera may in fact be the resting place of two wrecked vessels. The underwater site was discovered in the early 1900s and became quickly famous when nautical archaeologists discovered a device they termed the Antikythera Mechanism, a sophisticated device used to calculate astronomical positions.

The breadth of the wreck and vast array of artifacts have led researchers to question whether or not there are actually two ships at the site rather than the assumed one.

The site’s preservation is due to its remote and deep location, which protects it from curious scuba divers and would be looters. However, the attention that has been showered on the site has encouraged documentary film makers and reporters to be more… creative in how they have presented the finds and the site itself. As such, researchers are planning to return to the site to better explore it.

“Because the site has been so intruded upon for more than a century it gets really hard to disambiguate what’s myth and what’s fact,” – Brendan Foley

To learn more about the excavation and proposed return to the Antikythera wreck, see the article at Discovery News.

Top 10 Archaeological Discoveries of 2012

Screen Shot 2012-12-13 at 12.24.08 PMToday, Archaeology Magazine has rolled out its “Top 10 Discoveries of 2012.” The list includes (in no particular order):

Maya Sun God Mask

Neanderthal Medicine Chest

First Use of Poison

Aztec Ritual Burial

Caesar’s Gallic Outpost

Europe’s Oldest Engraving

The First Pots

Scottish “Frankenstein” Mummy

2,000 Year Old Stashed Treasure

Oldest Egyptian Funerary Boat

 

How Pompeii Perished – Scientific American

Me in the Forum of Pompeii with Vesuvius in the Background

Every school child knows the story of Pompeii, the ill-fated city at the base of Mount Vesuvius. Pliny the Younger, an eye witness to the eruption, recorded the terrifying event:

You could hear the shrieks of women, the wailing of infants, and the shouting of men; some were calling their parents, others their children or their wives, trying to recognize them by their voices. People bewailed their own fate or that of their relatives, and there were some who prayed for death in their terror of dying. Many besought the aid of the gods, but still more imagined there were no gods left, and that the universe was plunged into eternal darkness for evermore.

Today, Scientific America highlights the death of the city and how many historians and archaeologists get the geology wrong. Mary Beard, an expert in Roman History, states that the problem is that historians and archaeologists are “not a volcanologist[s].”

To read more about the violent end of the city, see the article: “How Pompeii Perished.”