Archaeology

The Egyptian Collection in Torino

Some pieces of the Immortali exhibit

Some pieces of the Immortali exhibit

The painted dancer

The painted dancer

One of the Book of the Dead collection

One of the Book of the Dead collection

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One of the the first "mummies" from pre dynastic Egypt.

One of the the first “mummies” from pre dynastic Egypt.

Pieces from the pre-dynastic collection.

Pieces from the pre-dynastic collection.

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The Temple of Elleysia

The Temple of Elleysia

The Egyptian Museum of Torino is presently undergoing reconstruction, to make a larger exhibition space for their extensive collection. At the time to show as much of the collection as possible there is a special exhibition titled Immortali, as well as the stable collections of the pre dynastic artifacts, the tomb of Kha and the statue room. The Immortali exhibition will be on display from 2013 until the new museum space opening in 2015.

Upon arrival to the museum the entrance uses mirrors, and angled architecture to appear as if the visitor is inside a pyramid. There are signs as well as very kind ticket takers to direct visitors on the itineraries path. The new itinerary for the museum’s renovation begins with Immortali exhibit.This is located in the basement, the path then takes the visitor through the mummy storage space, where a few mummies are visible through windows, then upstairs to the Predynastic and Kha collections, and finally across the courtyard to the statue room and temple of Elleysia.

There are plenty of brochures in multiple languages for information on both the Immortali exhibit and the regular collections of the museum. However if any individual forgets to grab these at the entrance, information is everywhere throughout the museum, as well as more places to grab these brochures.

The first information sheet, being that for Immortali discusses the plans for the future museum and what its layout will be.The plan is for the museum to confirm the famous quote by JF Champollion “The road to Memphis and Thebes passe through Turin.”.

The aims of the Immortali exhibit are to share the artifacts of the cult of the afterlife. The ideas around the afterlife changed throughout periods in Ancient Egypt, this exhibit shows how it was respected and how it differed through the ages. THe exhibit presents artifacts and great pieces of art which take the visitor through a ” vast chronological path” which includes the New, Middle and Old Kingdom as well as the Ptolemaic and Roman periods.

Each piece was chosen to show uniqueness of style or material showing a high degree of knowledge and skill as well as ambition of the nobles to tell of their own greatness.

The exhibition most definitely meets its intended aims. It is set up with different display cases and statue center pieces in chronological order. Each case has a large written plaque with in depth but easily read and understandable information about what that particular case shows. For example one case may describe how religion changed during the Middle Kingdom, then how it can be seen through the use of different gods, in different displays.  Another is how funerary practices changed in Roman and Ptolemaic Egypt, with tombs and funerary items to show this.

Each artifact is included with a small card explaining what it depicts, when it came from, when and where it was found, and how it is unique or different from other items of this type.

Though the artifacts seen are similar to those found in most other Egyptian collections from museums around the world, with a few marvelous exceptions such as that of a painted dancer a weaving display, and books of the dead; the Museo Egizio  presents them in such a way that a visitor  even with prior knowledge still walks away with a load of new information. The museum is a much better source even than most books suitible for non academics.

This exhibit is so well presented with such short yet helpful information, provided in both Italian and English (with the possibility of a French guide) that everyone can walk away with a better understanding of Ancient Egypt.

Tours are offered in many languages, and though Immortali has no special events of displays for children the museum has a whole provides children’s events. The most crowd-pleasing being that of a Halloween event.

The Museum was founded in 1824 under Savoy King Carlo Felice, from the collection of Bernardino Drovetti, Napoleons French Consul to Egypt. This original collection housed 5268 items. When Ernesto Schiapperelli was head of the museum, another 25000 objects were added, either through excavation or through auction.  The exhibit of the Tomb of Kha was provided to the museum upon it’s excavation in 1906, it included another 504 items. The Temple of Ellesiya was rescued with the help of the museum from the rising waters of Lake Nasser in 1965. In 1966 Egypt gave the temple to the country of Italy who then put it in the care of the museum.

The Museo Egizio prides themselves on their massive collection ranging over 4000 years. As well as the fact the make this collection and the ancient civilization accessible to everyone. One of their main aims is to present the entire range of Ancient Egyptian history in a clear and interesting way to all.

The Egyptian Museum of Torino succesfully achieves and even goes further than its aims. The museum is fun for those of all ages and levels of Egyptology knowledge *even those with none!). It provides thoughtful information which is easily read and understood. Providing visitors with much on  Ancient Egyptian life throughout the dynasties.

The museum is open Tuesday-Sunday from 8:30am to 7:30pm. If you are in the area it is a must-see. The collection is fascinating and I can promise you will leave with a new interest in Egyptology and at least one artifact resonating with you.

If you are further away I do recommend a trip to Torino to visit not only this museum, but the many other attractions in the city. It might even be best to save a trip until 2015 when the newly renovated museum will be revealed.

 

What would you like to see in Rome?

Something a little different, I need some feedback from all of you and you friends, family, etc!

I am in a Cultural Heritage Management class and our final project is to come up with a plan to regenerate an area of Rome. These final plans will then be presented in front of ICCROM at their headquarters and have a potential for being picked up as a real project. For those of you who do not know who ICCROM is, they are an organization which works to conserve cultural heritage, they are one of the more successful organization working with UNESCO. You can check out more of what they do here: http://www.iccrom.org/

All of us already have a plan in mind, however it would be great to hear from people planning on visiting, who might have experienced or will experience the city differently from us. The point it to bring in more tourism to this area, so an idea of outsiders interests would be wonderful!

Here are the areas and idea’s for plans(apologies for lack of quality photos this area was difficult.):

1. An Airplane Hanger from the 1930’s. It was a personal gift from Hitler to Mussolini and held many of the small planes of WWII. It is empty and abandoned now, on one side is a car park for Roman police vehicles. Ideas that have been proposed for this area are mainly exhibition spaces, another museum similar to Montemartini, or maybe a gathering spot/restaurant with planes of the era to set a theme.

Inside of the Hanger

Inside of the Hanger

Looking in through the fence this is the present state of the hanger.

Looking in through the fence this is the present state of the hanger.

The outside entrance from the side of the Police car lot

The outside entrance from the side of the Police car lot

2. Pontifical Arsenal of the Baroque Period. This is set along the river, but with trees and overgrown areas blocking the view. It is an open space but has potential to be enclosed. It has two gates for Entry. This used to hold boats, when they were being repaired on Rome’s river Port. Post WWII it was the area where one could find stolen bicycles, made famous in the film  Ladri di Bicicletta. This street is used as a market on Sunday, however the building is closed off. I plan to present this with a long-term and short-term plan. Short term: put up walls, and turn it into a large warehouse coffeehouse, with Italian style bar, and music playing every few nights. Use this to raise money for the long-term plan. The long-term plan would be to cut the surrounding trees to open the view, add a second floor, have the ground floor as a bar and restaurant with the upstairs an exhibition space.

Front of he building from across the road.

Front of he building from across the road.

We were not allowed in but it is possible to see the slightly buttressed style inside.

We were not allowed in but it is possible to see the slightly buttressed style inside.

The back of the building as seen from the back yard of the store next door.

The back of the building as seen from the back yard of the store next door.

Through the gate it is possible to see a little more of the front end.

Through the gate it is possible to see a little more of the front end.

3. Roman Emporium, unfortunately I do not have pictures of this as it is under scaffolding. It it is a few ruined arches alongside the river, it can only be used in Summer as it is along the river and the river often floods. It needs constant cleaning, has a few ceilings and is very important to the Roman history of this area. We are lost on plans for this except the possibility to integrate it into a summer bar as it is beside two night life areas.

4. The GIL, a youth fascist building. Presently this is a great example of architecture of the Fascist period, done by Luigi Moretti, a famous architect of the time. Walls have been added inside to separate the part of the building owned by Commune di Roma and Regione Lazio. Roma’s side is a gym and pool, complete with soccer fields outside. Lazios side is an exhibition space for presently photography, then there are many open rooms available for use, including a movie theater.  The plans presented for this were to open the surrounding area to better accentuate the architecture, then possibly an outdoor bar, and make it a community building, connecting the two sides.

The front of the building, this is the half that belongs to Regione Lazio

The front of the building, this is the half that belongs to Regione Lazio

Inside the exhibition space

Inside the exhibition space

Left over decoration from Mussolini

Left over decoration from Mussolini

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So please tell us if you would be interested in any of these ideas! And if you have other ideas that would more likely bring you to this area please share them! We are trying to come up with a reachable plan that will bring tourists to the great historic area of Rome.

 

Temple of Aesculapius: A Presentation Analysis

This will be an analysis of the presentation and interpretation of the Temple of Aesculapius, located in Villa Borghese. This analysis uses the format of analysis compatible with ICOMOS 2008 Interpretation and Presentation Charter and ICOMOS 1981 Florence Charter criteria and signification. These presentations are normally done through PowerPoint or a poster presentation, hence the short information, if you are more interested please let me know and I can give further explanation

The History of Villa Borghese

The original map of the gardens.

The original map of the gardens. Credit: Taken from a presentation by Prof. Simone Quilicci, AUR 2013

Originally a vineyard, Cardinal Sciopione Borghese obtained permission to turn this area into a lavish villa in 1605. The architects were Flaminio Ponzio and Giovanni Vasanzio. The original features included the Villa itself and the historic gardens, presently found behind the Villa, which is now a museum. The rest of the surrounding land was for horticulture and hunting. The Villa and its land has grown and changed throughout the years. These changes are categorized into 4 phases, however for this analysis phase 2 is as far as will be looked at.

Phase 2: 1776-1800

The map of the second phase of Villa Borghese. Credit: Taken from a presentation by Prof. Simone Quilicci AUR 2013

The map of the second phase of Villa Borghese. Credit: Taken from a presentation by Prof. Simone Quilicci AUR 2013

The Villa and land continued to be owned by the Borghese family, during this era they transformed surrounding gardens into neoclassical, English landscape style. The architect of this phase was Antonio Asprucci, while the landscape remodeler was Jacob More ( also a Romantic era painter).

Focus of Analysis: Temple of Aesculapius 1786

Temple of Aesculapius, Photo taken from Wikipedia.

Temple of Aesculapius, Photo taken from Wikipedia.

Built by Antonio and Mario Asprucci with painter Christopher Unterberger. It was built with the destroyed temple to Aesculapius once found on Tiber Island in mind. It is located on an island in an artificial pond. Originally the surrounding area was rocks and caves, with secretive and serpentine paths, this was changed in 1823 again by the Borghese family and once again when it was first given to the Italian nation.

The Temples Present Condition

The temple is still located in the same spot, and little has been changed directly to the temple. The area around the lake was altered in order to make It more accessible to visitors, this redesign was done in 1823 under the Borghese family.  Minor restoration and alteration to the area was made when the park was under the ownership of the city of Rome. The fence surrounding the island is a newer addition from the original.  It is not possible to enter the temple, or even access the island, which has been helpful in keeping the temple preserved.  It is however possible to take boats around the lake. There is wildlife in the lake, which also live on the island, including: turtles, ducks, swans and other water birds.

The temple stands as an aesthetically pleasing element to the lake, remaining clean and adding to the lake without a visually unpleasing distraction.

Public Use and Facilities within the Area

Surrounding rea of the Temple and lake. Photo is my own.

Surrounding rea of the Temple and lake. Photo is my own.

The road which leads to the temple, has benches as well as trash bins. Photo is my own.

The road which leads to the temple, has benches as well as trash bins. Photo is my own.

Though the island and temple are not accessible the park area surrounding is used often for public leisure time. Activities in this area may include picnics or relaxation, biking, as well as children having playtime. The lake provides boats for visitors to take for a ride around the lake. The boats are for rent and are set times, but they do not require a guide.

In the surrounding park there are small café’s and food carts where visitors may get food. Restrooms are however a bit further. There are benches and a few trash bins in the area.

Statement of Significance:

The Temple of Aesculapius remains a key aspect of the Villa Borghese park, by adding an aesthetically pleasing and welcoming interactive element to the park; It also is a key reflection of the 2nd phase of the park, acting as a perfect example of neoclassicism and English Romantic era landscape. Not only is this important to preserve for the history of the park and Borghese family, but also for all, in order to preserve examples of architecture and design from that period.

Analysis of Presentation to the Public

Though the temple itself is not accessible, it provides a picture perfect backdrop, which many visitors enjoy, it is made into one of the standard images of Villa Borghese Park. By providing open park area surrounding the lake and temple, visitors are free to relax, and enjoy themselves in this area. The lake offers an interactive activity by providing boating activities, this may draw in visitors, who can enjoy a fun activity by the temple. This activity, being that it is similar to activities visitors might have enjoyed in the 18th century, provides a connection through time, allowing present day visitors to imagine what life would have been like for the upper class. Because the sight is so beautiful it may provide a connection to visitors based on inspiration, however it may not demonstrate historical importance directly to them.  This site  does not necessarily  increase public respect or understanding, because unless a visitor has done their research, there is no way to tell that this building is a neoclassical building and when it was built.  Because there is not a clear story behind this temple, it does not help communicate the importance of cultural heritage. However the public does feel a connection to the site and it has become a staple element to the park which if threatened, the public would react.

Further, presently there is a problem which is that the lake has been drained and therefore the temple has been sealed off and surrounded by construction equipment, which could cause damage to this monument.You can read more here:  http://www.wantedinrome.com/news/2002563/villa-borghese-lake-to-be-drained.html

 

Back to Archaeology: Men and Women in Rome

Well I haven’t actually written anything educational in a while, I thought I might share some key things we have been talking about in Roman Identity. I should also mention I am writing an essay on Christianity in the Roman Empire, and when that is finished, oh boy will I have a post for here (I never realized how early the church became a institution rather than a faith!).

But for today, lets talk about men and women in the empire. I had to do a report on virtus, and I must say, it actually wasn’t that easy. Virtus, essentially, is masculine, it can only be used for a man and comes from the word vir, meaning man. It changed meaning often though, it’s traits included that of strength, worth, bravery, honor. These however seemed to differ, at one time virtus may only be won in military career, in another only in political or lawful career, then it seemed to change again and include all this as well as how a paterfamilias cared for his family. One thing is certain that Virtus was truly public image, your private life was not taken into consideration. By the description I really think of charisma as being the best equivalent. One of the interesting points that came up was that though we might think of past ideas of masculinity so military based, and so directed by men etc etc. We actually use the same idea of Virtus to choose our political leaders (which was what virtus was essential for in the Roman times). Think about it, we always look at how educated a presidential candidate is, we love hearing they spent time in the military and that they were brave and reached all these great feats, we love hearing they are religious and also are truly family men. We use the exact same ideas in order to judge our present day male leaders as the Romans did thousands of years ago. It is incredible that throughout all this time, masculinity has stayed the same!

Now onto women. Well women were always mothers and wives, nothis surprising there. What is really interesting is how women could go about freely in Rome, they could visit friends, go to market, or just wander and all this was accepted. What is also interesting is that women could divorce (under permission of the paterfamilias) and actually had a say in their “arranged” marriages. If you think about it, a society thousands of years ago had figured that out, when most women weren’t allowed divorce until very recent years in our Western societies. The rights of women really changed when Augustus came around, They were allowed more rights in terms of divorce, childbearing, etc. I think his choices were really great and thought he helped women a lot. But my professor and peers pointed out he only gave noble women rights which actually further helped him politically because it meant more high class babies would be born and swear allegiance to him. This I am still pretty torn about.

So for anyone who has studied this what are your thoughts?

 

A Day at the Pyramids

A Day at the Pyramids

Though the Pyramids were quite expensive it was decently worth it. Drivers can drop you off at the entrance but many stop earlier and you must pay for a carriage, camel, or horse, it is possible to walk around but with the wind and heat it’s to much work. Then one must pay to get into the grounds, as well as an extra payment to get into any of the Pyramids. I took a carriage, best option as it provided shade, and only went into the Great Pyramid. It is not the original tunnel into the Pyramid, but is still steep and long. Only one chamber is open and after the long climb it was very interesting to see. Even with the heat and expenses it was a good trip, with the best aspect being the camels. 🙂

A Little History: Jericho from Natufian to Bronze Age

Now that finals are over with, I may share my final projects with you, Here is a piece on Jericho.

Jericho has long been a city of interest. It’s tale in the book of Joshua earned it its fame, where it was destroyed by Joshua and the Israelites on route to Jerusalem. Though archaeology had difficulty proving the biblical stories of Jericho, it has been able to show the extensive history of the site and its inhabitants, beginning from the Natufian culture, leading through to the Bronze Age, where it was then abandoned mysteriously, for many years.

The oldest culture found in Jericho was that of the Natufians, these people were known to live around this area in about 10000BC.The Natufians were hunter-gatherers but remained in settlements for a small amount of time during the year.  Jericho was one of these settlements, in fact one of the largest.  The Natufians left behind scarce evidence bust what has been found includes grinding stones, flint and bone tools and shell decoration. Based on comparing the timeline of Jericho and the artifacts found, it is presumed, that the Natufians were the first to permanently settle in Jericho.

The majority of artifacts collected at Jericho come from the Neolithic period.  Kenyon determined that the earliest large scale settlement found must be Pre-Pottery Neolithic. John Garstang had found proof of Neolithic settlements in the 1930’s. Kenyon returned in the 1950’s to reevaluate and look further. Garstang’s findings included flints dating to 5000BC, hunting tools such as blades and arrow heads and then bone beads and mortars.  Garstang was the first to excavate and unveil the Neolithic layers.

The time period is determined mainly from the architecture of the buildings. Houses were round, using raw handmade mud bricks with dome shape roofs made of reeds. The bricks were not fired but only sundried. There was also presence of a plaster covering in yellow and pink tones to seal the house. All this architecture is typical to PPN settlements, along with early architecture, this was the period when the earth was beginning to warm and peoples began to settle and use agriculture. This settlement dates to around 9600BC.

As the city grows and develops, more evidence is found that the city was becoming  self-sustaining. Knives were found, as well as a small amount of arrow-heads, mortars, spindle disks and loom weights. The inhabitants of Jericho were making their own textiles and providing their own food source.  However this quantity of tools seems relatively small for such a settlement and it is unclear why no other tools appear. By the mix of tools for processing grains and arrow heads, this community seems to have been developing farming, but still hunting for a good portion of their food source.

In the PPN A Kenyon found the burial customs were to keep plastered skulls of ancestors underneath the floor. She found plaster decorated human skulls, painted and sculpted to keep personal features of the individual, along with shells inlaid as eyes.

Moving into Pre-Pottery Neolithic B, as defined by Kenyon, she notes how it is clear the population appeared to grow, but is skeptical as to why. There appears to be evidence of more people, and more building. New characteristics of society that appear in this time include a large amount of straw weaving and an early version of a fireplace.  PPNB burial and art customs change; Kenyon also found depictions of the human face and body in mask form. The earliest example of a stone cult statue also appears at Jericho, which is a small fertility figurine found by Kenyon.

One of the most impressive aspects to this Pre Pottery Neolithic settlement is the massive wall that surrounded the community.  Along with this wall was a tower, these aspects was not seen in other settlements of the time period. The tower was found by Kenyon and was 8m tall; with a staircase inside. There are many different theories of this wall and tower. Kenyon proposes it was simply for fortification, and she believes this is what shows that Jericho is the oldest urban complex. She believed this because the size of the structure lead her to believe that there had to be good social organization and central authority in order to organize the man power to build this wall and tower.

Moving into the Neolithic period a few changes are noticed. One is the living dwellings. In Neolithic there is a change from the round houses to shallow pit houses. This is also the period in which most early pottery was found. The pottery is crude, rarely with a slip, but appears wheel made.

The next key point of inhabitation is in the Bronze Age. The Bronze Age is important in the site because it is when the book of Joshua was dated. If there was any evidence for the biblical stories it would be found here. The book of Joshua has been dated to about the end of the Middle Bronze, leaning more to the Late Bronze Age.  The walls were taken down during this time but the specific dates raise argument.

Garstang originally had dated the  walls to the Middle and Late Bronze Age, believing that they were destroyed due to an invasion. Kenyon later dated them to Early Bronze Age. After reevaluating Garstang’s finds and combining them with her own, she found there was very little evidence showing occupation or inhabitation of the site during the Late Bronze Age, which began to disprove the idea of an Israelite invasion and occupation. Based on radiocarbon dating the wall is estimated to have been destroyed between 1617 and 1530 BC.

Leaving the religious aspect aside, Jericho holds much information showing how communities and culture developed during the Bronze Age, including a very well preserved cemetery. Based on the walls and architectural structure it is clear that the city grew in prosperity during this time.Both Garstang and Kenyon found mass amounts of pottery, also showing signs of wealth,  dating to the Bronze Age, between Early and Middle.

Garstang’s original findings include storages of grains, animal figurines and large amounts of pottery (not uncommon for ancient sites). The pottery that Garstang found was mainly painted bio chrome ware, in his reports he states he did not find any surrounding any tombs, but did throughout the city with the largest store in an isolated center building. Garstang also found older pottery, including Cypriot jugs and Hyksos scarabs.  Garstang attributed these particular scarabs to Amenhotep III, not taking into consideration that someone might have buried them later. This is how Garstang came to his conclusion that the city must have been abandoned sometime during his reign which dates around 1400BC, however the late carbon dates it as being left earlier. Garstang’s larger findings showed that of the floor plans of what he interpreted as a palace.

Kenyon’s was much of the same general goods and pottery with the inclusion of a large cemetery.  This particular cemetery, found under Kenyon’s excavations, has been one of the greatest of the Near East in creating databases and providing datable information because the remains were preserved so well. Burial customs had again changed: there were clear inhumation burials, but often with the skull separated and lined up together. What was truly extraordinary about these burials is that the wooden grave goods had preserved very well.

Scholars have not come up with a clear answer for why or how the city was abandoned, but at some point towards the end of the Middle Bronze Age it ceased to be occupied, and does not appear again in history as a major city until Classical Antiquity, under Alexander the Great.

Though Jericho continued to be abandoned for reasons unknown it was a successful and large urban settlement, one of the first in history. Through John Garstang and Kathleen Kenyon’s excavations the earliest history of Jericho has been able to be unveiled. Though we have not gotten closer to a definitive answer to the question of whether Joshua did bring the walls down, we have learned vital information about the Pre-history of the Near East. There are still gaps in knowledge of the settlements, but excavations at Jericho will continue.

Recent Damage

Recently there have been two accounts of damage to historical monuments that I think need to be addressed.  The first is the damage to Piazza Navona, due to a group of students climbing on the Fountain of Four Rivers and jumping into the water. (Here is the Link). This has raised questions about amount of security around these monuments.

The other is that recently  A Mayan Pyramid found in Belize has been being destroyed by road crews in order to find gravel.(Here)

I believe that both these incidents show the need to have better cultural heritage management and to truly protect monuments. 

Cerveteri

Cerveteri

This is one of the Etruscan tombs at Cerveti. The are set up too look like mounds or houses, most are round, but a few later on become more rectangular, resembling apartment blocks. They are then carved down underground into the tuffa. Though once decorated, they are no longer today. Inside the tombs are benches or beds carved into the stone, this is where the bodies were layed out as if sleeping. There are many tombs, located right outside the modern day town, they spill over the hill right to the edge of the town.