Posts Tagged With: Archaeology

Something Old, Something New

I’ve recently been on site in Herculaneum and Pompeii doing some work. Whilst my research often leads me to new areas of the city or I am trying to find some particular detail about whatever I’m working on, it is rare, having first set foot in Pompeii more than twenty years ago, for me to really see it in a new way. This visit, however, was different.

Currently (and until January), there are thirty bronze sculptures created by Igor Mitoraj placed around the city. This exhibit, reportedly curated by the artist before his death two years ago, places statues in various locales around the city. Many are in obvious public places like the Forum or the Stabian Baths, but others are placed in such a way that they kind of surprise you as you find yourself on the floor of the theatre with them looming above from the wall of the Triangular Forum. The artist was heavily influenced by Classical art, as is obvious from his work. I admittedly knew little about his work until quite recently, but have since read of his fragmented and misplaced or broken bodies as depicting both how damaged ancient statues appear, and as the physical representation of human despair. There is, certainly, a sadness in the faces that appear.

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Temple of Venus

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Stabian Baths

There were four sculptures, two in the changing room of the Stabian Baths and two in the Triangular Forum, that I found particularly reminiscent of ancient art. The wrappings and postures of these works are evocative of various ancient bronzes of boxers. One that comes to mind most immediately is Boxer at Rest, a late Hellenistic statue found in Rome.

One piece I found quite interesting simply for its placement was at the junction of the Via dell’Abbondanza and the Via Stabiana. In antiquity, much like today, this crossroads was a hub of activity and foot traffic coming and going from the Forum, the theatre district, and the commercial area of the street leading to the amphitheatre and palaestra. It was here one of the most prominent men in Pompeii in the Augustan period built an arch, which was surrounded by statues, including one dedicated to himself, Marcus Holconius Rufus. As this was an area once filled with honourific statues, it was really quite something to see one (more or less) as it should be. The same could be said of an equestrian statue placed in the Forum, positioned on one of the remaining statue bases of antiquity.

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Equestrian Statue in the Forum

 

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Junction of Via dell’Abbondanza and the Via Stabiana.

I absolutely loved seeing Mitoraj’s work scattered across the city. Besides the fact that his work is incredibly beautiful in its own right, seeing these bronze sculptures against the backdrop of the Pompeian cityscape was quite extraordinary. For one thing, it is rare to see bronze in an ancient site like this – where bronze survived antiquity without being melted down, it is almost exclusively kept in museums. This, although modern art, provided a small glimpse into a missing element of the ancient city. Beyond that, it made me look at Pompeii in a completely different way than I have before. I don’t want to say I am blasé about the remains of the city – I do still feel the same awe as I did the first time I stepped into the Forum as a high school student – but there is a certain amount of complacency when one has worked in the same place year after year. This exhibit of sculptures made me look again at familiar places, in a way that made me appreciate the artistry not just of the art work, but of the buildings, the scenery, and the way they worked together, giving me an entirely new impression of a city I have been in love with for decades.

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Quadraporticus

 

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Unpeopling the Past

A few weeks ago, I accidentally stumbled across a temporary exhibit at the British Museum of Francis Towne’s watercolours of Rome: ‘Light, time, legacy.’ Painted during a year long stay in the Eternal City from 1780 to 1781, this exhibit is a celebration of the two hundredth anniversary of the collection’s bequeathal to the British Museum upon the artist’s death in 1816. Towne apparently had some success during his lifetime despite failing to be elected to the Royal Academy on eleven occasions, but was largely forgotten after his death, until his works were re-discovered in the early twentieth century. The works held at the British Museum are not necessarily remarkable as far as eighteenth century landscapes go, but there is a use of light and perspective that I find captivating (beyond the subject matter itself, which of course if irresistible to a Romanist). There is a softness to his paintings that I find evocative of the evening light in Italy (and, in fact, he often wrote the time on the back of his paintings), of the texture of the stones the ancient Romans used to build their monuments, and one obviously endemic to the use of watercolour as a medium. What did strike me, though, as I wandered through the gallery, was the noticeable absence of people in his paintings.

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The Roman Forum (1781)

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View of the Colosseum from the Palatine Hill (1781)

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The Baths of Titus (1781)

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The Temple of Minerva at Sunset (1781)

Where the odd person is present, such as those with a cart in The Roman Forum, or the lone figure on the edge of the wall in The Baths of Titus (now identified as the Baths of Trajan), it appears to be a device used to add scale, so that the sheer size of the structures is not underestimated by the viewer. Overall, whether a figure is present or not, there is a feeling in each work of abandonment – that these relics of the ancient world are left in isolation, removed from the current world, and in many cases, slowly being reclaimed by nature. The Temple of Minerva at Sunset is a particularly good example of this, though I must say it did not appear much different the last time I was in Rome.

What immediately sprung to mind, when viewing painting after painting with almost no human trace, was the way archaeological sites are represented. A number of years ago, Jeremy Hartnett wrote about this practice in the early photography of the ruins of Pompeii. (I actually reviewed the volume it appears in for BMCR.) This chapter focuses on Vittorio Spinazzola, the director of excavation from 1910 to 1923, who was a pioneer in using photography to document not only the ongoing clearance of the site, but also the ruins once they were exposed. Hartnett wrote of the new use of photography in excavation for its importance as a means of documentation, where each image was concerned not only with ‘showing what came out of the ground, [but also] they explained how it was brought to light and by whom’ (p. 247). This is clear in a photo from the excavation of the House of Paquius Procolus (I.vii.1):

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This photo shows the workman, clearing debris, whilst being supervised under the watchful eye of Spinazzola himself (in the dark suit at the top). Part of the aim of the photographic documentation, and one that anyone with field experience is familiar with today, is to preserve a record of how any particular area is being excavated. In addition, Spinazzola was interested in showing the extent of the work being carried out. The photo below is striking, not just for the length of the area being cleared along the Via dell’Abbondanza, but also for showing how much of the ruins had yet to be uncovered just a century ago (you can just see the upper levels of the amphitheatre in the distance).

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What actually brought these photos to mind in viewing the exhibit of Towne’s watercolours, however, is the way in which the excavated areas were documented after the last of the volcanic detritus had been cleared. The workman are gone, Spinazzola himself is absent, and what remains is a street or a house, devoid of any human life.

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The streets, wrote Hartnett, ‘are presented as empty, antiseptic spaces, made as whole as possible (with fountains even gushing water in some shots) but then left pristine and uninhabited’ (pp. 265-6). He argues that this was a conscious choice for which photos of the excavation were published, that has had a lasting impact not only on how both scholars and the public view the ancient world, but also on how we present it ourselves. I am sure I am not the only one who has stood in Pompeii (or Rome, or Athens, or anywhere else) and impatiently waited for the tourists to move along, so that I could photograph my own monuments with no human interference. The fact is that I have thousands of photos from Pompeii, and all are of an abandoned, empty, cityscape devoid of human life. This image of an empty space, of a quiet street, or of the abandoned Roman Forum or Colosseum, as presented by Francis Towne, other artists, and many historians and archaeologists, could not be further from the reality of the past. I was struck by this when I first read Hartnett’s work, and was reminded of this when wandering the galleries of the British Museum. The irony here is that the people are, after all, what has always drawn me to the past. Removing life from representations of the past, whether in photo or painting, suddenly seems the antithesis of our work.

 

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Duos Annos

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It is now two years since I began my Leverhulme Trust funded project looking at social networks in Pompeii. Over the past year, my research has taken me off into a slightly different direction, particularly looking at some very specific aspects of political life in the ancient city, for which the way names are used is a fundamental component. Looking back at what I wrote to commemorate the first anniversary, I am pleasantly surprised by the increase in traffic, comments, and followers for this blog. To date, the site has been visited more than 18,000 times (more than twice the number of the first year), which is, frankly, astounding. I am sure this is in no small part due to the support of Blogging Pompeii and Napoli Unplugged, amongst others, who have frequently shared my posts, for which I am most grateful. I hope that the many people who come here continue to find my work interesting, as I certainly enjoy writing these posts.

And as such, as before, the five most popular posts published in the last year:

5. Losing my Religion (249)

4. Fools & Fakes (275)

3. Samnites in Pompeii (290)

2. Alma Tadema’s Imagined Connections (425)

1. Pompeii & Rome (441)

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Samnites in Pompeii

155837163-9171ee50-2b8f-422d-b732-d49f1073699dYesterday came a rather exciting announcement that a Samnite grave has been discovered in Pompeii. The details revealed thus far include that a skeleton, belonging to a woman approximately forty to fifty years old, complete with grave goods including numerous jars still containing traces of their original contents, has been excavated in an area beyond the Porta di Ercolano.

The Samnites were a native Italic people (much like the Latins who founded Rome), whose culture was similarly tribal, consisting of a loose federation of a number of groups who inhabited parts of central and southern Italy. They tended to live in some of the more mountainous regions of Italy, were sheep herders, and famed wool workers. They leave no written record of their own, but survive in the history of Rome written by Livy. His material, however, is heavily biased, as he was largely writing about the Samnites and their part in a series of wars fought against Rome in the fourth and early third centuries BC. Known collectively as the Samnite Wars, this conflict is largely characterised as a struggle for control of the Italian peninsula, in which Rome was the ultimate victor. It should thus come as no surprise that Livy views the Samnites as warlike, uncivilised, and generally inferior.

So how did a Samnite woman end up in Pompeii? Whilst my current work is focused entirely on the Roman period of Pompeii (89 BC to AD 79), the city existed for many hundreds of years before that. The settlement’s history is long and complicated: at a minimum, five separate cultural groups, including the Romans, are thought to have contributed to the town’s development during its six hundred years of existence. There are archaeological remains in Pompeii for Greeks, Etruscans, Samnites, and an unnamed indigenous Italic population in addition to the Romans. The foundation of the city, and the exact phases (if exclusive, which they probably were not) of each cultural group are a bit murky. However, it is clear from the archaeological record in Pompeii and in other towns of southern Italy, that sometime in the fourth century BC, the people of Samnium moved down from the mountains and into some of the more urban areas. Just in Campania, there is evidence of Samnite populations in Capua and Nola in addition to Pompeii.

One of the most comprehensive works published on the Samnites comes from E.T. Salmon. According to him, Samnites practiced inhumation, not cremation, and the archaeological evidence from excavations various necropoleis, such as the one at Aufidena, shows the same burial rite continuously used over centuries. The graves were lined, initially with wooden planks, later progressing to stones, and, eventually, to tiles. Many of the graves were also lined with gravel to facilitate drainage. The body of the deceased was fully dressed and laid out at full length in a supine position. The head was usually propped up on some object serving as a pillow. Grave goods always contained a number of rough impasto jars and a bowl, presumably used in a funeral feast (many recovered were found to contain traces of food). Stones or tiles were used to cover the graves, but they remained unmarked. Amongst the grave goods for women, spindles and loom weights were often found. As these items have been found in abundance in many of the native sites excavated in southern Italy, working wool was clearly a large part of the daily life of Samnite women. Schneider-Herrmann has suggested the importance of wool working was such that the women had great skill in weaving intricate patterns, basing this on the clothing depicted on Campanian vases of the fourth century. Though made under Greek influence throughout the fourth century BC, vases found in Campania and Apulia can be identified as depicting Samnites based on the native costumes worn by the figures.

As to Samnite burial in Pompeii, there are, in fact, a number of pre-Roman graves that have been found around the city. The dominant practice at the time was inhumation, as is expected, and they mostly consisted of simple burials of the corpse in stone or tile-lined cists, or occasionally even unlined burials. Some of these rather basic burials include grave goods such as bronze bracelets, terracotta bowls, jars and lamps, including Greek forms such as lekythoi, kylixes, and skyphoi. There are two areas around Pompeii were Samnite (or at the very least, pre-Roman) burials have been discovered. The largest of these consists of a group of approximately 160 graves, includes both pre- and post-colonial burials. Found five hundred metres beyond the Porta di Stabia in a four-hundred-square-metre area known as Fondo Azzolini, it has been identified as belonging to one family, the Epidii, who continued to use this one specific area outside the Porta di Stabia from pre-Roman times until the end of the city’s life, demonstrating a multigenerational adherence to one spot that is considered atypical. The earliest graves (just over forty in number) are inhumations similar to those attested by the Samnites, but there is alteration in the postcolonial period with a change to cremation, the addition of terracotta tubes for libations, and a greater inclination towards marking the burial locations with columellae.

A few pre-Roman graves have also been identified beyond the Porta di Ercolano, and this is part of what makes yesterday’s announcement so exciting. The original identification probably originated with Mau who notes the existence of a small Oscan cemetery that contains skeletons on the north-west side of the city. This reference is repeated by J.M.C.Toynbee in Death and Burial in the Roman World, who notes a series of four Samnite graves on the north side of the road leading away from the Porta di Ercolano on her plan of the cemetery.

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Section of Toynbee’s plan: Samnite graves are numbers 31-32.

But Toynbee failed to elaborate any further on the nature of the burials, or if they had ever even been excavated. This was slightly problematic, as later studies refer back to her when they mention ‘Samnite graves.’ Kockel included a brief description of the graves; his discussion, however, was confused by including a number of pre- and post-Roman burials, and artifacts that could be dated from the late Republican to early Flavian periods. All that was really clear about the area was that it had been used for burial continuously since before colonisation.

But this area, on the northwest side of the road, is exactly where the new grave has been found. From the photos (the best released so far are in the La Repubblica article), it is apparent that the tomb consists of a stone lined, inhumed, skeleton, fully extended in a supine position, with various pots, including red-figure vases of the type that were produced locally in Campania as well as imported from Greece. At first glance, it looks like a text-book example of a Samnite burial. I am sure I am not the only person who is eagerly anticipating further analysis of the bones, the jars and their contents, and hopefully, more excavation in the surrounding area.

The earliest graves in Pompeii resemble the Samnite burials of central and southern Italy dating from the ninth to the fourth centuries BC, which I have always felt indicates there was a stronger Samnite presence in the city than has previously been attested. The limited remains of Oscan (the language of the Samnites, which I intend to get to on another day) has been used by some to argue that Pompeii was thoroughly Romanised already at the time of colonisation, and the changes in burial that took place fairly rapidly after 80 BC may be indicative of that. Still, the pre-Roman graves thus far discovered, including this new one, are all located in the extra-mural environment, which shows that although the Roman directive to bury beyond the city walls was not a change from pre-existing practice, the change in form to cremation and large, above-ground tombs, more or less obliterated the earlier burials from the archaeological record, subject only to accidental discovery. I, for one, am extremely grateful for such a beautiful accident.

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a.d. III Nones Iulius

Whilst other Americans are preparing to spend the day celebrating our nation’s independence with barbeques, beer, and fireworks, I started thinking about a slightly different colonial experience. Pompeii, like many other towns in southern Italy, rose up in rebellion against Rome during the Social War (90-88 BC). This was a war fought between many Italian territories who had previously been allies of Rome. Much like the American colonialists, they had become fed up with paying taxes, providing soldiers, and supporting the expansion of Rome without receiving benefits like citizenship and voting rights. Indeed, the Italians also had a problem of taxation without representation. The alliance between Pompeii and Rome prior to the outbreak of the war is largely unknown – there is no clear evidence – but Pompeii was, by 90 BC, more or less surrounded by cities that were beholden to Rome, and had been Romanised (at the very least in terms of the adoption of Latin). Regardless, Pompeii did join other Campanian cities in the fight against Rome. In essence, what the Italian people wanted was either full access to the rights and benefits of being a Roman citizen, or a cessation of ties and alliances all together.

Besieged by Sullan troops in 89 BC, the city eventually fell to Rome. Evidence of the siege can still be seen in the city wall running between the Porta de Ercolano and the Porta del Vesuvio, and it is not uncommon for excavation in the northern sector of the city to turn up ballista and other projectiles used by the Roman soldiers.

image017The war was over soon thereafter. Despite being ostensibly won by Rome, the Italian allies got what they wanted: full Roman citizenship was granted to the entire population of Italy. There is a fair amount of debate as to what happened in the intervening years particularly as to how the city was governed, but in 80 BC, Pompeii officially became a Roman colony. The foundation of the colony was granted to Sulla, not only because he conquered the city, but as the general responsible for Roman troops in this and many other wars, he had a large number of veterans to provide for. It is from inscriptions such as this that we know the full name of the colony, which included reference to the founding patron:

CIL X 787
M(arcus) Holconius Rufus d(uum)v(ir) i(ure) d(icundo) tert(ium) / C(aius) Egnatius Postumus d(uum)v(ir) i(ure) d(icundo) iter(um) / ex d(ecreto) d(ecurionum) ius luminum / opstruendorum(!) HS |(mille) |(mille) |(mille) / redemerunt parietemque / privatum col(onia) Ven(eria) Cor(nelia) / usque at(!) tegulas / faciundum coera(ve)runt.
‘Marcus Holconius Rufus, duumvir with judicial power for the third time, and Gaius Egnatius Postumus, duumvir with judicial power for the second time, by decree of the decurions, paid 3,000 sesterces for the right to block off light, and say to the building of a private wall belonging to the colonia Veneria Cornelia.’

It is via Sulla that Venus becomes the patron goddess of the city, as she was also his family’s chosen deity. His moniker as ‘lucky’, a cognomen awarded to him (his full name was Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix) can also be found in the name of one of the districts around Pompeii, as attested in a number of inscriptions of its magister’s:

CIL X 1042
M(arcus) Arrius | (mulieris) l(ibertus) Diomedes / sibi suis memoriae / magister pag(i) Aug(usti) felic(is) suburb(ani).
‘Marcus Arrius Diomedes, freedman of a woman [Arria], for himself and his, in memory. Magister of the pagus Augustus Felix suburbanus.’

Roman colonies were typically founded with veteran settlement, and as far as anyone is aware, Pompeii was no different. This likely meant the arrival of approximately two thousand veterans of Sulla’s wars, with families if they had them, into the territory of Pompeii around 80 BC. Unlike places like Praenestae where soldiers were placed into towns abandoned by the previous inhabitants, it appears that the colonists and natives were integrated, at least physically. Pompeii was, in fact, the only colony of Sullan veterans that didn’t completely breakdown – there are examples of completely seperate cities, relocation of the native population, and at the worst, a significant amount of bloodshed. But that doesn’t mean that all went smoothly.

Approximately twenty years after the foundation of the colony at Pompeii, Cicero was called upon to defend Publius Cornelius Sulla, nephew, and at the time patron of Pompeii, against charges of conspiracy and incitement. The younger Sulla had previously had a spot of legal bother when he was elected consul and quickly removed from office for bribery, but in 62 BC was facing charges as a result of his supposed involvement in the Catiline Conspiracy. The passage of Cicero’s defense which relates to Pompeii is brief, and somewhat ambiguous:

Pro Sulla 60-62
‘Furthermore, I cannot understand what is the nature of this charge that the inhabitants of Pompeii were instigated by Sulla to join that conspiracy and set their hand to this nefarious crime. Do you think that they did join the conspiracy? Who ever said this, or was there even a hint of a suspicion of it? “Sulla,” he says “set them at odds with the new settlers in hope to use the division and dissension he had caused to get control of the town with the aid of the inhabitants of Pompeii.” In the first place, the whole quarrel between the inhabitants and the new settlers was reported to the patrons when it had grown chronic and had been pursued for many years. Secondly, in an inquiry conducted by the patrons, Sulla’s views were in complete agreement with those of the others. Finally, the new settlers themselves realize that Sulla was defending their interests no less than those of the inhabitants of Pompeii. This, gentlemen, you can infer from the large crowd of the settlers in court, men of the highest standing who are supporting and showing their solitude for their patron here in the dock, the defender and guardian of that colony. Even if they had not been able to preserve him in the possession of all his fortune and of every office, it is their urgent wish that at least in misfortune which now prostrates him he should through you be helped and kept from harm. The inhabitants of Pompeii who have been included in the charge by the prosecution have come to court to support him with no less enthusiasm. Although they quarrelled with the new settlers about promenades (ambulatione) and elections, they were of one mind about their joint safety. And I do not think that even this is an achievement of Publius Sulla that I should pass over in silence: that although he founded the colony and although political circumstances caused the privileged position of the new settlers to clash with the interests of the inhabitants of Pompeii, he is held in such affection and is so popular with both parties that he is felt not to have dispossessed the one but to have established the prosperity of both.’

Much has been made by modern scholars as to the levels of discord that must have existed between the colonists and the native Pompeians. The reality is that little information is provided by Cicero other than the fact that there was a disagreement over voting rights and a public walkway (this has never been fully understood but I have always liked the idea put forward by T.P. Wiseman and Dominic Berry that this refers to the quadraporticus behind the small theatre), and that in his role as patron Sulla mediated a settlement between the two groups. As proof of this Cicero points out that both Pompeians and colonists are present at the trial supporting him. Others have floated the theory that the small theatre was built specifically to serve as a meeting place for the colonists. Whilst it was constructed, as we know from the dedicatory inscription, by two of the earliest magistrates of the colony, there is no evidence to suggest this purpose was intended or indeed realised. The only actual mention of the colonists that survives epigraphically comes from the amphitheatre, which was constructed by the same two politicians.

CIL X 852
C(aius) Quinctius C(ai) f(ilius) Valgus / M(arcus) Porcius M(arci) f(ilius) duovir(i) / quinq(uennales) colonia<e> honoris / caus{s}a spectacula de sua / pe<c>(unia) fac(iunda) coer(averunt) et colon{e}is / locum in perpetu<u=O>m deder(unt).
‘Gaius Quinctius Valgus, son of Gaius, and Marcus Porcius, son of Marcus, quinquennial duovirs, for the honour of the colony, saw to the construction of the amphitheatre at their own expense and gave the area to the colonists in perpetuity.’

The size of the amphitheatre (unlike the small theatre), in no way relates to the number of colonists, and could never be claimed to be solely for their use regardless of how the inscription is interpreted. The fact remains that if the colonists wanted to present a clear and long lasting physical imprint on the city in order to visually assert their dominance over the native population, they failed miserably. Indeed, not even a funerary monument remains that names a colonist of the Sullan settlement. As to the issue over voting rights, the little evidence there is of longevity amongst politically active families in the pre- and post-colonial periods suggests any impact of a change in regime does not withstand the first generation after colonisation.

The evidence, in all its forms, suggests a true and relatively peaceful integration of veteran colonists and the indigenous population, even though colonisation was a result of war. This was unusual for the time, and as today’s American holiday suggests, unusual even two hundred and fifty years ago.

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By Any Other Name: Bodicacia’s Tombstone

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Wednesday saw the interwebs all agog with the live raising of a Roman tombstone in southern Britain near Cirencester, complete with an inscription seen for the first time in nearly eighteen hundred years. Those outside the world of Classical archaeology might not have seen this as a very big deal – new inscriptions, and for that matter, new burial grounds, are discovered all the time. Indeed, this is part of a larger excavation of a Roman cemetery which has thus far yielded the remains of fifty-five graves. What is fantastic about this is the fact that we have both a tombstone and corporal remains in situ: matching an actual skeleton to a named individual is rare, especially for Roman Britain, and the only example to come out of this burial site. The name itself, recorded on the tombstone in Latin, is sure to spark even further interest and speculation. The inscription reads:

I(unoni) / D(is) M(anibus) / Bodicacia / coniunx / vixit anno / s XXVII.
‘To the genius of the shades of the departed, Bodicacia, wife, lived twenty seven years.’

The dedication to Iuno is hardly unusual, and in fact appears in the funerary record of Pompeii. The inclusion of the Manes is a bit difficult to date precisely, but this far from Italy probably indicates a date in the 2nd century AD. Whist there is still some speculation as to whether this should be translated as a single name, or split to read Cacia, wife of Bodus, as I am not a linguist, this is a debate with which I don’t feel qualified to engage. What is interesting is that a number of the news stories have also offered the alternative of Bodica, and at least one I came across gave a full history of the infamous Boudica, clearly linking this burial to the Celtic rebel who fought Rome.

Although the burial of this warrior queen has never been located, and likely never will, there has been much desire to find it, and speculation of location ranges from the barrow of Parliament Hill to under a platform at King’s Cross to a McDonald’s in Birmingham (the latter no doubt inspired by the location of Richard III in a car park in Leicester). It seems very clear to me that this particular burial cannot be *that* Boudica. Not only is it miles away from both her area of origin (East Anglia) or the final battle between the Iceni and the Roman legions (the Midlands), but it is in Latin, follows Roman conventions for a funerary epitaph including a dedication to the Roman gods of the dead, and if the Twitter speculation is correct, bears Roman religious iconography in the form of the god Oceanus. Let’s face it: there is no way a woman synonymous with revolt would have been buried following the practices of those she saw as her oppressors.

But this leads me to a far more interesting question: was the name Boudica (or one of its many variants) a popular one? With this tombstone we potentially have the second known person to bear this name in the British Isles. Are there more? A quick search of the Epigraphik Databank Clauss / Slaby reveals that there are a number of occurrences of this name, with the initial root of Boudic-, Bodic-, and Boudig-. Whilst none of them are found in Britain, they do originate in other provinces with some Celtic antecedents, namely Lusitania and Germania Superior. There are three funerary inscriptions from Civitas Igaeditanorum (modern Idanha-a-Velha in Portugal), all of which demonstrate a combination of Roman and Celtic names.

CIL II 455 = ERBeira 229 = AE (1988) 697
Quintus Modesti f(ilius) a(nnorum) XXV / Placida Modesti f(ilia) a(nnorum) XIII / Boudica Flacci f(ilia) Modestus / Celtiatis f(ilius) liberis uxori sibi feci[t].

ERBeira 44
Bassus Maturo/vi et Boudica Sem/proni sibi et Bassi/no filio an(norum) XXX.

ERBeira 33 = AE (1967) 170
[L]ovio Caenonis f(ilio) patri / Boudicae Tongi f(iliae) matri / Cilio Tapaesi f(ilio) socro Cileae / Cili f(iliae) uxori Caeno Lovi f(ilio).

The texts from the province of Germania are also funerary in nature. One is from Bingium (modern Bingen am Rhein), a name thought to be Celtic in origin in and of itself, and the second is found in Ingelheim am Rhein:

CIL XIII 7519  
D(is) M(anibus) / Focuroni(a)e Pat/t(a)e fili(a)e et Firmi/nio [—]esinto ge/nero s[u]o Lutoria / Bodic(ca?) mater / de suo [vi]va pos(u)it.

Finke 224
D(is) M(anibus) / Martialio / Miccioni / et Ibliomari(a)e / Bodic(a)e patribu(s) / Miccionia / Ammisia / filia / f(aciendum) c(uravit).

What I find intriguing, however, is an inscription found on an altar in Bordeaux. This small monument appears to have been erected by a man as part of a vow regarding his passage from York (where the stone was sourced) to Gaul in AD 237:

ILTG 141 = AE (1922) 116
Deae Tutel(a)e Boudig(ae) / M(arcus) Aur(elius) Lunaris IIIIII/vir Aug(ustalis) col(oniarum) Ebor(aci) et / Lind(i) prov(inciae) Brit(anniae) inf(erioris) / aram quam vover(at) / ab Eboraci evect(us) / v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito) / Perpetuo et Corne(liano).
‘In honour of the goddess Tutela Boudiga, Marcus Aurelius Lunaris, sevir Augustalis of the colonies of Eboracum and Lindum, in the province of Britainnia Inferior, set up the altar he vowed on starting from Eboracum.  Willingly and rightly he fulfilled his vow, in the consulship of Perpetuus and Cornelianus’.

A more detailed discussion of the altar can be found here, but what I find compelling about this (and of course, the other texts) is that the name of Boudica, so often associated with an Iceni queen, with revolt, and re-appropriated during the reign of Victoria to symbolise the might of the British Empire, has a place in Roman history far beyond one individual. The name itself, in all its versions, divine or otherwise, was an example of the creation of a Romano-Celtic culture that held a place of some significance in the provinces.

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The Tombs of Pompeii

Please allow me to indulge in a little bit of self-promotion. My first (I hope!) book, which is the product of my PhD dissertation completed at the University of Reading in 2011, has just been published by Routledge.

9781138809192

This book offers a comprehensive overview of the tombs of Pompeii and its immediate environs, examining the funerary culture of the population, delving into the importance of social class and self-representation, and developing a broad understanding of Pompeii’s funerary epigraphy and business. The Pompeian corpus of evidence has heretofore been studied in a piecemeal fashion, not conducive to assessing trends and practices. Here, a holistic approach to the funerary monuments allows for the integration of data from five different necropoleis and analysis of greater accuracy and scope.

Whilst this project is not necessarily directly related to my current work on SNA in Pompeii, it certainly was the influence, as it was getting to know the people who built their tombs through the funerary inscriptions that got me interested in looking deeper into how the social community functioned.

If anyone is interested in the book, it can be purchased at Amazon, and directly from the publisher.

Finally, for anyone in Chicagoland, I will be giving a free lecture on the tombs of Pompeii at the Geneva Public Library on the 29th of December. Further information can be found here.

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Anniculus

I never would have realised this myself, but WordPress just kindly wished me (or rather, this blog) a happy anniversary. I find it difficult to believe that an entire year has passed since I began looking in earnest at the networks of Pompeii as visible through the epigraphic record, and find it even more surprising that I have found evidence of so many types of networks, not just in the ancient city, but in Latin literature as well (watch this space for more on that).

I have been amazed that the blog as a whole has had such a  following – this makes the thirtieth posting, and the pages have been viewed nearly six thousand times. So, in looking back at the last year of my research project and this blog, I thought I would review the top five posts, in terms of popularity. (Note: I have excluded hits for pages such as the archives, about section, and the posts containing videos from the research seminar series held at the University of Leeds earlier this year, all of which had many hundreds of views.  If you missed them, you can find them all here: The Present and Future of Vesuvian Research).

5. Vergil Abuse (96 views)

4. This time, it’s personal (106 views)

3. The Herculanenses (133 views)

2. Venus Pompeiana (149 views)

1. Pompeii and Circumstance (351 views)

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The Herculanenses

DSCF3519

Despite working in Pompeii for many years, I have never had much occasion to spend time in its sister city, Herculaneum, primarily because much of the material I have worked on (tombs, namely) have yet to be found there. Thanks to Rebecca Benefiel and the Herculaneum Graffiti Project, however, my interest in the second city destroyed by Vesuvius has been piqued. Tremendously.

The Herculaneum Graffiti Project has a two-fold objective: to create a searchable database for the non-lapidary texts of the Vesuvian cities, and to document the texts, preserving the evidence digitally and making it more broadly accessible.  As part of this endeavour, and working in conjunction with the Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni archeologici di Pompei Ercolano Stabia, Epigraphic Database Roma, EAGLE Europeana, and the Herculaneum Conservation Project, the HGP has begun on-site work to record and document the graffiti and dipinti of Herculaneum.

I spent the better part of a week taking part in the first field season for this project along with thirty other lecturers, post-graduates and undergraduates. Working in teams, we spent hours scouring the walls for inscriptions that have previously been attested, and hoping to find some new ones as well. When a text was found, it was measured, photographed, documented in a line drawing, and eventually, translated and entered into the EDR corpus.

 

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Despite having worked with texts of this nature for many years, it was a startling revelation to do so in situ, suddenly realising the difficulties in locating these often very small scribblings, deciphering the letter shapes of ancient handwriting, and understanding the meaning behind fragmentary words. It very quickly becomes understandable that much of this type of epigraphy has been missed, mis-read, and lost to the post-excavation elements. Thus, the importance of preservation, and simple efforts of conservation, quickly become apparent.

Case in point: eighteen graffiti were recorded in one room of the Grande Taberna in Insula IV, but only one can still be seen today. This text (CIL IV 10529), an anecdote about the philosopher Diogenes written in Greek, survives because it is protected by glass and a small roof, which prevent weathering of the plaster into which the letters were carved. Likewise, there is an incredibly well preserved graffito (naming the Herculanenses) sheltered by glass and a roof in the House of the Painted Papyri (CIL IV 10520). The dipinto of the papyrus for which the house was named (CIL IV 10481), however, was not covered in the same way, and is no longer  discernible.

In comparison, one of my favourite texts (for undoubtedly obvious reasons), has been left exposed to the elements, and has thus deteriorated considerably not only since it was first recorded, but noticeably even in the twenty years since it was last photographed by Varone (1994: 487).

CIL IV 10525
Hyacinthus hic fuit / Verginiam suae s(alutem).
Hyacinthus was here. Greetings to his Verginia.

 

DSCF3512

This illustrates not only the importance of continued efforts of conservation and preservation of the texts on the walls of Herculaneum, but also the importance of the Herculaneum Graffiti Project’s efforts to document and digitally preserve what is currently visible. I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to work with the project and this amazing group of people, and look forward to continuing to contribute to their incredibly worthwhile and necessary efforts.

 

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The Present and Future of Vesuvian Research

During the last three months I have had the privilege of hosting a number of distinguished speakers in the Department of Classics at the University of Leeds for a seminar series dedicated to current and future scholarship in Pompeii and the Vesuvian region. I wish to thank Professor Peter Kruschwitz, Dr. Rick Jones, Dr. Richard Hobbs, Professor Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, and Dr. Anne-Marie Leander for giving their time and sharing their work with those of us in attendance, and for agreeing to share their papers more widely through this blog.

Prof. Peter Kruschwitz ‘Aufidius was here. (Really? Where exactly?)’

Dr. Rick Jones ‘Future oriented archaeology in Pompeii’

Dr. Richard Hobbs  ‘Coins and Mediterranean connections in early Pompeii’

Professor Andrew Wallace-Hadrill ‘Herculaneum: Can we save the sites?’

awh

Dr. Anne-Marie Leander  ‘Focus on innovation in the study of insula V. 1 Pompeii’

Dr. Virginia L. Campbell ‘Sex degrees of separation’

 

 

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