Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Miriam Kolar, "Tuned to the Senses: An Archaeoacoustic Perspective on Ancient ChavĂ­n"

I have been interested in sensory history for a long time now, so the chance to read aloud this article by Miriam Kolar on the archaeoacoustics of Chavin de Huantar, a UNESCO site in the Peruvian Andes, is exciting. In the article, the interplay between ritual, musical instruments, and architecture is explored in order to reconstruct the experience of the oracle. Not only does the article present a rich analysis of the site, it introduces readers (er, listeners) to the methodology behind archaeoacoustics and the ways in which archaeologists reconstuct ephemeral evidence in order to understand individual and communal experiences. Although we travel away from the Mediterranean for this article, the methods, theory, and hypotheses that underpin it are important for every archaeologist, historian, or philologist.

The Journal: Here.

The Article: Here

Download from iTunes: Here

Feedburner: Here

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tony Freeth and Alexander Jones, "The Cosmos in the Antikythera Mechanism," ISAW Papers 4 (2012).

"Abstract: The Antikythera Mechanism is a fragmentarily preserved Hellenistic astronomical machine with bronze gearwheels, made about the second century B.C. In 2005, new data were gathered leading to considerably enhanced knowledge of its functions and the inscriptions on its exterior. However, much of the front of the instrument has remained uncertain due to loss of evidence. We report progress in reading a passage of one inscription that appears to describe the front of the Mechanism as a representation of a Greek geocentric cosmology, portraying the stars, Sun, Moon, and all five planets known in antiquity. Complementing this, we propose a new mechanical reconstruction of planetary gearwork in the Mechanism, incorporating an economical design closely analogous to the previously identified lunar anomaly mechanism, and accounting for much unresolved physical evidence."

Link to article: Here. 

Link to journal: Here. 

Feedburner link: Here.

Link to iTunes: Here.

Friday, January 10, 2014

John N. N. Hopkins, "The Cloaca Maxima and the Monumental Manipulation of Water in Archaic Rome"

Area of the Cloaca Maxima later repaired under Domitian.
This week we dive into the major sewer of Rome, the Cloaca Maxima, and attempt to dispel some preconceived notions surrounding it---namely that it always served as Rome's sewer. An article by John N.N. Hopkins explores the topography of early Rome during the regal period--the period of the kings prior to the founding of the Republic [753-509 BCE]--and proposes that the use of the Cloaca Maxima changed over time from the regal period into the Republican and then later imperial era. Moreover, its initial building served as a monumental statement to both Romans and non-Romans of the power of the burgeoning city. His article is a splendid reminder that infrastructure can shift in purpose over time and a further demonstration of how monumental building serves as visual propaganda.

Link to the Article: Here

Link to the Journal: Here

Link to the Podcast on Feedburner: Here

Itunes Link: Here 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Killgrove & Tykot 2013 - Food for Rome

Detail of a snail-and-fruit basket from a 4th century
mosaic in Basilica Patriarcale in Aquileia. (wikimedia commons)
Kristina finally jumps in to read her own article, Food for Rome, on the podcast thanks to permission from the journal publisher, Elsevier. This is an article that benefits from tables and figures, so do click through to the article at the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology site to see those visualizations while you listen or afterwards.

Abstract: During the Empire, the population of Rome was composed mostly of lower-class free citizens and slaves. Viewed from historical records, the Roman diet included primarily olives, wine, and wheat, but poor and enslaved Romans may have eaten whatever they were able to find and afford, leading to significant heterogeneity in the Roman diet. Previous carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses of skeletons from Imperial Italy have begun to reveal variation in diet, but little is known about what people ate in the capital city. This study complements previous work by adding new isotope data from human skeletons found in two Imperial-period (1st–3rd centuries AD) cemeteries in Rome. These data suggest that urban and suburban diets differed, most notably in the consumption of the C4 grain millet. Comparing these new data with all published palaeodietary data from Imperial Italy demonstrates that significant variation existed in the diet of the common people.

Full Citation:  Killgrove, K. and R.H. Tykot. 2013. Food for Rome: a stable isotope investigation of diet in the Imperial period (1st-3rd centuries AD). Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 32(1):28-38. DOI 10.1016/j.jaa.2012.08.002.

Links to:

Saturday, December 28, 2013

N. Mureddu (2013) ‘‘Ad omnia quae uelit incredibilis’: An Overview of Ancient Magic from the Roman Context to its Late Antique Perspective and Models’

Hematite magic scarab gem with a
"uroborus" serpent. Protective gem.
(1st century CE, Roman Egypt)
Today we delve into the world of magic! Nicola Mureddu discusses first Roman and then early Christian perceptions of magic in this article, and delves into the key powers, beliefs, and figures in both systems. Of special concern is Simon Magus--Simon the Magician--a first century CE convert to Christianity who engaged in magic and made many claims as to his own powers before being ultimately defeated by St. Peter. The article provides a basic understanding of some key ideas and sources in respect to ancient magic in the early empire into the fourth century CE.

PDF of the Article: Here. 

Journal Issue: Here. 

Feedburner Link: Here.

iTunes Page: Here. 

For a broader overview of magic and its criminalization in the Roman empire [in text form], I would suggest James Rives' wonderful article on "Magic in Roman Law."

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Simona Minozzi, et al., Gout and Dwarfism: Two Bioarchaeological Articles on Imperial Romans

In this episode, Sarah reads two open-access palaeopathology articles.

Simona Minozzi, Federica Bianchi, Walter Pantano, Paola Catalano, Davide Caramella and Gino Fornaciari, (2013) "A Case of Gout from Imperial Rome (1st-2nd century AD)." J Clin Res Bioeth 4:4.

Abstract: The study of pathological alterations in ancient skeletal remains may contribute to the
reconstruction of the history of diseases and health conditions of ancient populations. Therefore, in recent research palaeopathology provides an important point of view in bioarchaeology and medicine. This work describes the bone alterations observed in the skeleton of an adult woman found during archaeological excavations in the greatest necropolis of the Imperial Age in Rome. The skeletal remains showed some pathological anomalies and the most evident alterations consisted of multiple osteolytic lesions involving mainly the small bones of the feet, which presented round cavitations and scarce signs of bone repair. Differential diagnosis suggests that this individual was affected by gout, probably associated with hypothyroidism that determined her short stature. 

Article Link.

S. Minozzi, A. Lunardini, P. Catalano, D. Caramella, G. Fornaciari, (2013) "Dwarfism in Imperial Rome: A Case of Skeletal Evidence." J Clin Res Bioeth 4:154.

[No Published Abstract]

This article explores a skeleton that shows signs of dwarfism excavated from the Collatina necropolis in eastern Rome. Skeletal evidence for dwarfism in this time period is extremely rare, and this find allows a bioarchaeological window into an occurrence largely known in antiquity from literature and art. Perhaps what was most interesting to me was the discussion toward the end of the article to do with the shift from acceptance to rejection of dwarfs between the Roman and Christian periods.

Article Link. 

Subscribe to the Podcast: Here. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Elton Barker, et al. "Mapping an ancient historian in a digital age: the Herodotus Encoded Space-Text-Image Archive (HESTIA)"

This podcast ventures into the exciting realm of digital humanities by taking a look at the aims and methods of the HESTIA Project! We will read Elton Barker (Principal Investigator), Stefan Bouzarovski (Co-Investigator), Chris Pelling (Co-Investigator) and Leif Isaksen (ICT Consultant)'s 2010 article, "Mapping an ancient historian in a digital age: the Herodotus Encoded Space-Text-Image Archive (HESTIA)."

ABSTRACT: "HESTIA (the Herodotus Encoded Space-Text-Imaging Archive) employs the latest digital technology to develop an innovative methodology to the study of spatial data in Herodotus’ Histories. Using a digital text of Herodotus, freely available from the Perseus on-line library, to capture all the place-names mentioned in the narrative, we construct a database to house that information and represent it in a series of mapping applications, such as GIS, 

GoogleEarth and GoogleMap Timeline. As a collaboration of academics from the disciplines of Classics, Geography, and Archaeological Computing, HESTIA has the twin aim of investigating the ways geography is represented in the Histories and of bringing Herodotus’ world into people’s homes."

The Article Itself. 

Link to the Leeds International Classical Studies Journal

Podcast Link. 

Links to Some Other Projects Mentioned in the Article:

1. Perseus Project
2. PostgreSQL
3. PostGIS
4. TimeMap
5. Nick Rabinowitz's Blog