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.
Homer’s Iliad is one of the most famous works of Bronze Age Greece. Its date and composition, however, is one of the academically controversial. Recently, a group of researchers at the University of Reading applied the same techniques to researching genetic evolution (using the rate of genetic mutation) to the evolution of language. Using this method, they determined that the Iliad was written approximately 762 BCE +/- 50 years; a date consistent with historical theories.
“Languages behave just extraordinarily like genes.It is directly analogous. We tried to document the regularities in linguistic evolution and study Homer’s vocabulary as a way of seeing if language evolves the way we think it does. If so, then we should be able to find a date for Homer.” — Mark Pagel, Ph.D.
George Eliot wrote that ‘the happiest women...have no history’; such a philosophy embodies that for women in the ancient world there is a great lack of communication from women themselves. So to what extent is the historian thwarted by this lack of communication?
One of the biggest problems facing the historian of women in the ancient world is that there are very few sources that are written by women themselves; there is a general lack of communication.
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.
“Images in this “master-piece” show a woman’s torso and drawings of hairy children with extra limbs, and according to the Guardian, an image showing a woman’s torso opened up to reveal a baby in her womb. But there are no actual explicit images…” – Cathy Marsden
The book was likely written as an ‘information’ manual for the newly married, providing “medical information” on human sexuality and reproduction. The information, often grossly inaccurate, provides great insight into the minds of medical science. The “medical tidbits” state that a woman could give birth to a Black child if she was thinking of Black men during the conception or that a child conceived out of wedlock would be hairy or otherwise deformed. It also provides instruction for conceiving a child of a specified gender, by planning conception by the phases of the moon. The book even includes an instructional section for midwives (although modern midwives would be best to ignore his advice).
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.
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].”