Roman Empire

The International Catacomb Society

From the International Catacomb Society:
The International Catacomb Society (ICS) is dedicated to the preservation and documentation of the Jewish catacombs and other rare vestiges of history that illustrate the common influences on Jewish, Christian, and pagan iconography and funerary practices during the time of the Roman Empire.  The society also strives to increase knowledge about the interconnections between Judaism, Christianity, and the surrounding ancient world by issuing grants, sponsoring lectures, and disseminating information and publications.
With its annual Shohet Scholars Program, the ICS desires to support scholars of demonstrated promise and ability who are judged capable of producing significant, original research. Shohet Scholars may do their research in the fields of archeology, art history, classical studies, history, comparative religions, or related subjects. The focus of the work should be within the sphere of the Mediterranean world from the late Hellenistic Period to the end of the Roman Empire. The work does not need to be related to the Roman catacombs, although applications for projects focused on the catacombs are welcome. Of special interest are interdisciplinary projects that approach traditional topics from new perspectives. Successful applicants will be expected to present a public lecture in Boston reporting the methods, results, and significance of their work and submit a written article for publication by the ICS.
The application deadline for the 2016-2017 academic year is December 15, 2015, for funding to be disbursed on July 1, 2016.
2015-2016 Shohet Scholars:
Elizabeth S. Bolman, (Temple University) “Publishing Late Roman Paintings.”
Bolman has directed a project that recovered magnificent secco paintings in the Red and White Monasteries near Sohag in Egypt. Some years ago she also gave a Shohet Memorial lecture at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston on the subject.
Steven Fine, (Yeshiva University) “The Arch of Titus Project.”
Fine attempts to contextualize this monument, which has been and continues to be contentious in the history of Judaism and Western culture. He is also directing high-tech digital reconstructions of the polychromy of the menorah panel on the arch.
Rosa Maria Motta (Christopher Newport University) and Davide Tanasi (Arcadia University) “Burial Practices and Funerary Rituals between the Late Roman and Early Medieval Periods in the Catacombs of St. Lucy in Syracuse (Sicily).”
This project will investigate the transformation of cemeterial spaces into cult places for religious practices relating to the worship of the holy relics of St. Lucy and of other holy men and women buried in the catacombs.
Robert Tykot (University of Southern Florida) and Kevin Salesse (Université de Bordeaux), “Quantifying the Roman diet: improving the accuracy and precision of paleodietary reconstructions by isotopic analysis.”
This project investigates dietary composition and variation of the ancient imperial-period Roman diet through isotopic analyses of both human and faunal remains from the catacomb of Santi Marcellino e Pietro (Rome, Lazio, central Italy) and other Italian sites.
More information about the ICS on our website www.catacombsociety.org.

Rebecca Jones (Historic Scotland) – Scottish Borders

Borders ‘Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011’

Borders ‘Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011’

Rebecca Jones, Historic Scotland

Rebecca Jones, Historic Scotland

Carry on Camping in the Scottish Borders

I’m Rebecca Jones and I used to work at RCAHMS but since August 2012 have been on secondment to Historic Scotland where I am now Head of Archaeology Strategy.

I have picked what appear to be a series of empty fields in the Scottish Borders, not far from Lauder on a hill above the Leader Water. These unassuming fields, now home to various sheep and crops, once held an army of around 40,000 Roman soldiers and probably the Emperor Septimius Severus and his entourage campaigning in Scotland in the early 3rd century AD with the specific aim of completing the conquest of Britannia (he did not succeed…).

All that we can see now at St Leonards is the differential growth of crops over the buried features (‘cropmarks’), best recorded through aerial photography.

North-east side of camp and one of its entrances, together with a settlement and enclosure which intersect the camp’s perimeter. Copyright RCAHMS (SC882008)

North-east side of camp and one of its entrances, together with a settlement and enclosure which intersect the camp’s perimeter. Copyright RCAHMS (SC882008)

We can recognise these linear cropmarks as being of Roman origin due to their characteristics: rounded corners, entrance gaps protected by additional stretches of ditch. In the case of St Leonards, this camp site lies close to the Dere Street Roman road, midway between two probably similar sized camps at Newstead (near Melrose) and Channelkirk (near Oxton). At 173 acres / 70 hectares, it is the largest camp recorded in the Roman Empire in Europe. Larger camps have recently been discovered in Syria: these may not have held a larger number of troops than St Leonards but perhaps needed a buffer within the perimeter to counter the threat of hostile Syrian archers.

Plan of St Leonards. ‘Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011’

Plan of St Leonards. ‘Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011’

Archaeology has a challenge when it comes to enthusing people about buried remains that they cannot see, particularly if there is no excavation in progress to show the depth of the ditches dug around the perimeter of the campsite, the fragmentary remains of ovens where they baked their meals and the rubbish and latrine pits where they disposed of… well, anything needing disposal! Yet we can fire imaginations by inviting our audiences to conjure up images of rows upon rows of tents housing soldiers who originated from around the Empire and spoke a variety of languages, not just Latin. The Emperor Septimius himself was from Libya in Northern Africa. We don’t know for definite that Septimius was here – we have no dating evidence from the site – but the most likely context for such a huge camp is the presence of the Emperor and his bodyguards and administration. I certainly love the idea that, for a few days and nights at least, the whole of the Roman Empire was run from these fields in the Borders.

This is what I’ve chosen for Day of Archaeology, but why not tell us your favourite archaeological sites in Scotland on Twitter using #MyArchaeology.

 

Coffee and Geometry

My name is Gareth Beale, I am a Phd student and I am working in the office at the University of Southampton.

Things have started well today, the temperamental coffee machine worked like a charm after the usual spluttering and steaming.  

It is a rather gloomy summers day here in Southampton and I would dearly love to be digging at some far flung corner of the (southern) Roman Empire where temperamental coffee machines are nothing but a dim memory and there is a cafe on every corner stuffed full of espresso and pastries, but alas it is not to be. Instead we are talking 3D computer graphics. This will not come as a surprise to anybody who has spent any time at Southampton, but it may well come as a disappointment to anybody reading this post. 

I am currently engaged in the process of writing a chapter for my PhD on the subject of Physically Accurate computer graphics and thier potenital as archaeological research tools. This morning will be dedicated to the dicussion of the relative merits of different forms of 3D data acquisition, specifically, time of flight laser scanning, triangulation laser scanning and structured light scanning. 

More coffee anyone?