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.
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.
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].”
In ancient Pompeii, it appears that for the Romans, trash and tombs went hand in hand. New discoveries have uncovered dedicated trash pits along side tombs. The ancients were never ones for adequate, effective, or health-conscience means of trash disposal.
Even so, this new discovery has surprised even some of the most tenured scholars. However, many modern archaeologists have recognized the ‘casual’ relationship Romans had with waste disposal and the lack of ‘reverence’ attributed to burials.
“In general, when a Roman was confronted with death, he or she was more concerned with memory than with the afterlife. Individuals wanted to be remembered, and the way to do that was a big tomb in a high-traffic area. In other words, these tombs and cemeteries were never meant to be places for quiet contemplation. Tombs were display — very much a part of every day life, definitely not set apart, clean or quiet. They were part of the ‘down and dirty’ in life.”
The Cit of Pompeii is perhaps the most famous and well visited archaeological site in the world. Due to exposure, climate, and, most of all, tourism foot-traffic, the remains of Pompeii are often on the radar due to degradation and damage that the site has experienced – most recently the collapse of several walls and buildings that resulted in the damage to several important regions of the site.
How to address the issue of Pompeii is a large and problematic one. As a major tourist attraction in Italy, it is a large revenue base. Severe cut-backs and revenue problems in Italy mean that funding for conservation habits is always problematic.
Today on the BBC, scholars argue whether or not the site should be closed or if it should just become a full-on tourist attraction/theme park. Will that solve its revenue problems? Check out the podcast here.
The Etruscans were one of the most prolific peoples to occupy the Italian peninsula before the Romans and their influence on Roman life and culture is unquestionable. In spite of their importance and significance, very little research has been done on Etruscan life and culture. New excavations in the Etruscan town of Vetulonia have uncovered a fully furnished Etruscan house.
While excavations at the 2,400 year old home are still in process, archaeologists have uncovered pottery, furniture, and many types of tiles. A destruction layer indicates that the house was brought down by a fire in 79 B.C., possibly set by the Roman dictator Sulla. To read more about the excavations and the discoveries being made at this site, read this article by Discovery News.