All posts tagged ruins

Pompeii artifacts at British Museum

Published April 13, 2013 by Tony

Life and death in Pompeii and Herculaneum

British Museum

28 March – 29 September 2013

It is the daily life of Pompeii and its near neighbour Herculaneum before the disaster that is the subject of the British Museum’s latest exhibition.
In fact, the British Museum in London is hosting its first ever exhibition on the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum sponsored by Goldman Sachs.
Titled “Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum“, with a unique focus to give a taste of the everyday life of the people in Pompeii, the exhibition will display 450 artifacts on loan from the Superintendence of Naples, until the end of September 2013, of whom some had never left Naples and which have never been seen outside Italy before.

AD 79. In just 24 hours, two countries in the Bay of Naples, southern Italy, were buried by a catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Preserved under ash, their rediscovery nearly 1,700 years later provided an unparalleled glimpse into the daily life of the Roman Empire.Plaster cast of a dog - from the House of Orpheus, Pompeii, AD79
In spite of the desolation that met the eyes of those who witnessed the aftermath of the eruption of Vesuvius, much was wrested from those ruins more than a millennium and a half later, and much continues to be found to this day – as recently as 1992, for example, 300 hundred bodies were excavated from the shore line close to Herculaneum. The volcanic ash had acted as a terrible preservative of sorts. Pompeii was said to have had a population of about 15,000, and only 10 per cent of those bodies were ever accounted for. Some must have fled, taking whatever was most precious to them – beside the felled body of a soldier we stare at a long sword, a stabbing dagger and a bag of tools. Others took with them a wicker basket heaped with bronze coins or the key to a house that would never be seen again.

The exhibition organizers have created a journey through time, with images of tranquil daily life in the ancient Roman cities that today are blended with the bustle of the city of Naples.
With over 20 years since the last major exhibition on Pompeii in the UK, recent discoveries alongside celebrated objects, including body casts, will reveal new insights into this highly captivating and humanFamily bodies story.
Starting with the bustling street, and moving through the intimate spaces of a home, the visitor will be transported into the lives of ordinary Romans nearly 2,000 years ago, before devastation struck. From the atrium to the garden, bedroom and dining room, this personal journey reveals parallels with our own lives today.

The presentation is systematic, and after seen common daily life objects, artworks, jewels and paintings,  the tragedy comes. You can see her, in a low-lit area on her own, flung down onto her face, helplessly sprawled in death, the Resin Lady, so called because the void of the body left in ash was filled with clear epoxy resin. This woman died in the basement of a villa near Pompeii. A little way away, among the most striking findings come down to London, is an entire family that died together in positions of pain and terror, braced against the hellish heat, huddled in an alcove under the stairs of their house. A child is on its mother’s lap. Mother and father appear to be falling backwards, reeling from the tremendous blast of heat. A child lies in the boxer pose – which means that its tendons would have god Pan with goatcontracted because of the searing temperatures.

And as a reminder that ancient Romans were truly made of flesh and blood, curators have not forgot some erotic items preserved from the cities (look at the marvelous penis on the handsome figure that acts as a support for the cake stand, for example). The Romans, we know,Placentarius - Cake Tray were not ashamed of their bodies and not embarrassed about sex, differently from the British of today, who have placed a kind of signal “unsuitable for children” in front of the statue of the god Pan that mates with a goat.

Statues, garden furniture, food moulds, even a mosaic warning sign reading “Cave canem” (beware of the dog) placed at the entrance of Orpheus home in Pompeii, are indicators of just how much the average person loved their stuff.
Of course, watching all the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum closely on site is a different story, and I can understand that this is better than nothing for British who can not or do not want to travel and come to Naples, but it becomes inconceivable to me that other people – non-resident in UK – will have decided to travel to go to London to enjoy this small exhibition, rather than come in Pompeii.



Archeological Finds

Published January 23, 2013 by Tony


Maschio Angioino

Entering the armory’s hall inside the fortress of the “Maschio Angioino” (to the left of palatine chapel) is like going back a thousand years behind the rest of the castle. Here in fact, archaeological excavations have brought to light several layers of the area in Roman times. The glass floor allows you to see the whole room and let you walk over the remains of a swimming pool in a villa of the first century BC, then covered with earth, or other structures of another villa of the imperial era (fifth century ) as it is also interesting the area where dozens of graves were found, some with kits rings and other jewelry, to denote that the area was used as a cemetery in the late Roman era and perhaps until the beginning of the construction of the castle. Moreover, even while working on the construction of Via Acton were found hundreds of skeletons, then placed in a wing of the “Cimitero delle Fontanelle (see the post about this old cemetery). The whole area around Piazza Municipio is one of the places where the physical and historical stratification of Naples is more evident, starting from the ancient greek harbor found after millennia during the first years of work underground, as shown from archaeological sites still open and displaying artifacts from various eras, from Roman times to the Middle Ages.

Phlegraean Fields

Published November 24, 2012 by Tony


Phlegraean Fields

The “Campi Flegrei” (Phlegraean Fields), is a large area of volcanic north-west of the city of Naples, like a peninsula. The word “flegrei” comes from the greek Flego which means “burn”. In the area are still recognizable least twenty-four between craters and volcanic structures, some of which have effusive gaseous manifestations (area of ​​Solfatara) or hydrothermal (Agnano, Pozzuoli, Lucrino) and are due to the phenomenon of bradyseism (very recognizable for its size in the past the so-called temple of Serapis at Pozzuoli). Geologically the area of the Phlegraean Fields caldera is a large quiescent with a diameter of 12-15 km in the main part, where there are numerous craters, small volcanic structures and volcanism areas subject to a secondary (fumaroles, hot springs , bradyseism …). Throughout the area are important visible deposits of volcanic origin as the Campanian Grey Tuff (or Ignimbrite Campana) or Yellow Tuff. In the area there are lakes of volcanic origin (Lago d’Averno), and lakes originated for dam (Lake Fusaro, Lake Lucrino and Lake Miseno).

Phlegraean Fields, lake Fusaro

Cuma and Baia are two archaeological sites in the province of Naples, Pozzuoli near the territory of which it is part, located in the volcanic area of Campi Flegrei.
In principle, Cuma is thought to have been founded around 740 BC, although the earliest archaeological evidence dates back to 725-720 BC
According to legend, the founders of Cuma was the Eubei of Chalcis under the guidance of Ippocle of Cuma and Megasthenes of Chalcis.
The city of Cuma was entirely directed toward the Acropolis, the highest part of every Greek city, situated in a very favorable geographical position, that is, on a hill near the sea.

In addition to the “Sybil Cave”, mentioned in the previous post, at Cumae, you can see:
Lake D’Averno, Grotto of Cocceius, the Temple of Zeus, the Temple of Apollo, the Roman Crypt, the Temple of Serapis or Macellum, The Forum with the Forum Baths and the Capitol, Arco Felice (Felix Arch).


lake averno

The lake takes its name from a deep, dark pit (currently unidentified) in its proximity and emanating sulphurous vapors, which, according to Greek and Roman religion, was access Netherworld, the realm of the god Pluto. For this reason the Roman underworld (Hades greek) are also called Hades.
In fact, even the poet Virgil in the sixth book of the Aeneid are close to the lake entrance to the mystical underworld where the hero Aeneas must go (scrupea, suit Lacu nigro nemorumque tenebris VI, 238). The name derives from the greek άορνος Avernus (‘no birds’) as the birds flying over the abyss die because of its sulfur fumes.
During the nineteenth century has been the subject of study in particular the optical phenomenon of Fata Morgana.

The lake Avernus is the crater of a volcanic apparatus formed 3,700 years ago in an old crater, the Archiaverno.
To the east of the lake there is a volcanic cone of Monte Nuovo, which was formed after an eruption lasting a few days (from September 29 to October 6, 1538). The crater of Monte Nuovo is visible with a short hike starting from the football field in Arco Felice. From the crater rim you have panoramic views over the bay of Pozzuoli including the islands of Ischia and Procida, west of Lake Averno, north of Mount Gauro and east to Mount Vesuvius.

Grotta di Cocceio

« Ibant obscuri sola sub nocte per umbram…
quale per incertam Lunam sub luce maligna est iter in silvis » (Virgil)

The Grotto of Cocceius (also called the Cave of Peace) is an underground tunnel that connects the lake Avernus with Cumae. The work was designed and built around 37 BC by Lucius Cocceius Aucto commissioned by Vipsanio Agrippa, who wanted the construction for military reasons: it was necessary to connect Cuma, fortification and lookout point on the Domitian coast-flegreo with the Portus Julius, an important military infrastructure located on basins of lake Avernus and the lake Lucrino, that artificial channels designed by the same Cocceius linked to each other and to the Gulf of Pozzuoli.  The tunnel was entirely dug in the tufa for about a mile, with a trapezoidal section and rectilinear, whose western entrance, on the lake, it was preceded by a vestibule adorned with columns and statues, was later destroyed. The gallery received light and air from six wells, dug into the hill, the longest of which was a hundred feet high, and it was large enough to allow the passage of two wagons. Parallel to the tunnel driveway on the north side, ran an underground aqueduct, also with niches and vertical wells, which provided water supply to the port.

The tunnel is also called “Grotta della Pace” (Cave of Peace), because according to a legend of the sixteenth century, a Spanish knight, Peter di Pace, badly advised by magicians and fortune-tellers, he squandered his property in the vain search for a supposed treasure therein buried.
The gallery, fall into oblivion, was restored in the nineteenth century by the Bourbon kings, during the Second World War it was used for storing explosives, and suffered damage when some of the explosives accidentally broke the First World War.

Currently, the cave is not open to visitors, for danger of collapse. The area is actually in a state of neglect and shabby. As always, many antiquities and works of art in Naples, for lack of funds and will, are abandoned to their fate. It would have taken half of the archaeological heritage that Naples has to make another city a highly qualified, researched and publicized city in the world.

Tempio di Apollo

Apollo_temple in Cuma

On the southern side of the terrace to the Temple of Apollo, brought to light in 1912. The terrace is paved all round with tuff and is bounded on the right by a parapet, also of tuff.
A sanctuary had to exist in this place since Vl sec.aC, but his consecration to Apollo is only by inscriptions of the Roman period found there, and perhaps previously was dedicated to Hera.
In front of the temple are the remains of a semicircular exedra perhaps, in Roman times, placed next to a well: facilities to report, probably oracular activity.

Cripta RomanaCocceio cavern

Designed to connect the lower town with the harbor area, the gallery, built during the Augustan age, crossed the acropolis from west to east with a length of m. 180. It was between the works of military buildup of the area has to ensure, together with the so-called cave of Mount Cocceio Grillo, direct communication between the Portus Julius and the port of Cumae.
The lighting of the tunnel was ensured by a series of open wells in time. In the last section on the right, were built two large tanks with steps for filtering water: the vestments, in opus reticulatum, are covered with a thick layer of earthenware to three feet high, two successive cuts made in the bleachers began in communication with the gallery.
In the early Christian period, along the walls of this section were obtained tombs of rectangular shape and of various sizes. At the same period are the graffiti of crosses and simple gammate visible in some parts of the rock, which suggests that the Crypt, as of “Antro della Sibilla”, has been used as a catacomb.
The structure of the eastern end of the Crypta perhaps not the same as the old one: the poor state of preservation and the dense vegetation do not allow their exact reconstruction. However, it appeared, probably, a richly decorated marble, fragments of which were found at the exit.

Tempio di Serapide

An unique volcanic phenomenon raises and lowers from centuries this majestic building, bringing the water above and below the massive columns. The large building is one of the best examples of macellum, the food market, built between the late first and early second century. The building is square in plan, with a central courtyard surrounded on all sides by arcades, paved with marble and lined with 30 granite columns. Around the courtyard are the shops, according to the typical pattern of the markets of the Roman world. There must have been a higher level, as evidenced by a scale in the southern corner.

The temple of Serapis has certainly been an important spa antiquity (as evidenced by some historical artifacts), so that the name of the temple in the true sense can be considered improper. During excavations (1750) was found a statue of the Egyptian god Serapis, and therefore was considered a temple.
The structure is built within a rectangular area (75 meters long by 58 meters wide). Its construction is considered by most dating back to Flavian, the signs of subsequent restoration testify the longevity and the intensity of use of this center in Roman times.
Of particular artistic value are also the materials used for the interior of the temple (exceptionally beautiful marbles and mosaics). The apse is semi-dome, the statue of Serapis (deities of trades) is located below it.

Il Foro

The Forum of Cumae is now only partially in the light, as it still buried in the east. Its present appearance dates back to the monumental arrangement he received in the late Republican.
It is a rectangular plaza with EO orientation, similar in size to the holes of Pompeii and Paestum (50×120 m), connected to the surrounding urban fabric by a road system is not perfectly smooth, of which survive today paving and paths. The short side was bounded by West Capitol, here significantly decentralized to the south compared to the canons of the Hellenistic period, that placed the main building of the hole in the center of the bottom side. The Baths of the hole were built in the city center, in the north-west area of ​​the forum, in a space formerly occupied by structures from the Republican period. The building was built during a period of intense construction activity, a few decades after the opening of the street Domitiana (95 AD), typologically recalls the Terme di Via Terracina to Naples and those of the Forum in Ostia. The Capitolium was built during the Samnite period (IV-III century BC.) And perhaps originally consecrated to the worship of Jupiter Flazo in CapitoliumRoman times the temple was dedicated to the Capitoline Triad (Jupiter, Juno and Minerva).
The temple stands on a high podium (m. 56.98 x28, 50) according to use italics: surrounded by a peristyle with the front of six columns, the cell had three naves, preceded by a large porch. The first phase are still visible in the podium by square blocks of Neapolitan yellow tuff, with double molding profile, and on the back of the cell, the floor in earthenware.

Ancient Magic Ruins to visit

Published May 31, 2012 by Tony

World’s most-visited ancient ruins

The past history, the ancient civilizations and what now remains by their ruins attract millions of people and inspire travel adventures. “Ancient ruins give us a connection to the past that’s visceral,” says Mary Jo Arnoldi, chair of the anthropology department at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. “This was a real place, and you can walk through it.” Ruins bring history alive and inspire us with their sheer size.
According to the number of annual tourists, the following list of the “most visited ancient ruins worldwide” comes out. How many have you visited? None?! Hmm… I think something is missing in your life and you probably need to escape a little more from your ordinary life and usual destinations. Ruins seems eternal, but you are not!

1)  Great Wall, Badaling, China
Annual Visitors: 9–10 million
The Great Wall: a name so simple, yet so powerful. It stretches for 5,500 miles across China, and its most beautiful section happens to be easily accessible—within 70 miles of Beijing. While much of what is visible today was built during the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), construction began on various sections as far back as 770 B.C. Credit goes to the million slaves and prisoners of war who carried blocks of granite, bricks, stones, and dirt on their backs up to the top of the ridgelines.

2) Colosseum, Rome
Annual Visitors: 6.9 million
When completed in A.D. 80, the arena held 50,000 spectators who watched mythology-based dramas and reenactments of land and sea battles as well as executions, fights-to-the-death among gladiators, and the ghastly slaughter of wild animals. The underground pits where those gladiators awaited their demise were opened to visitors in 2010 along with the 110-foot-high upper ring of seats, which offer panoramic views of the Eternal City. It’s one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

3)  Roman Forum, Rome
Annual Visitors: 5.1 million
The social center of Rome for 1,200 years beginning in the fifth century B.C., this 700-yard-long piazza has been both marketplace and government center. The ruins of sacred temples’ columns and friezes (whether dedicated to Saturn, the god of agriculture, or to the emperors Vespasian and Titus) hint at the level of grandeur on display here two millennia ago.


4)  Terracotta Army, Xi’an, China
Annual Visitors: 3.6–4.5 million
Discovered in 1974, these 700 life-size terracotta generals, infantrymen, archers, chariot drivers, and other warriors—as well as 400 horses and 100 chariots—are each unique, with distinct facial features, hairstyles, and clothing. They were arranged in rows in covered pits as part of a necropolis for Emperor Qin Shi Huang.

5) Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
Annual Visitors: 4 million
As one of the original Seven Wonders of the World and certainly the symbol of Egypt, the Pyramids have venerability cred going back 4,500 years. Yet we still don’t know for sure how the ancient Egyptians built them, which only adds to their intriguing appeal to travelers. The three major tombs for pharaohs at this UNESCO World Heritage Site are now surrounded on three sides by the pressures of Cairo, a city teeming with nearly 11 million people.

6) Pompeii, Naples, Italy
Annual Visitors: 2.5 million
Pompeii gives visitors who walk its excavated stone streets a firsthand experience of first-century Roman life. The coastal town famously disappeared completely under ash and pumice during the sudden eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79. Plaster casts made from “molds” created when ash-covered bodies disintegrated under the consolidated ash are moving reminders of the real people and animals that lived there. And then, just two steps from the “city of the sun” which has the highest concentration of works of art.

7) Acropolis, Athens
Annual Visitors: 2 million
The Acropolis refers to the cliff-like hill used as a citadel above Athens, and its most powerful monument is the hilltop Parthenon, a seemingly intact temple to the goddess Athena that’s the symbol of both Classical Greece and the origins of democracy. Built in the fifth century B.C., the Parthenon has lost many of its friezes and marble sculptures to plundering for European museums—with sporadic negotiations to try to get them back.

8)  Efes (Ephesus), Turkey
Annual Visitors: 2 million
Thirty years ago Ephesus was a nearly forgotten Roman ruin in an area of sparsely populated Turkish villages. Now much of the local economy is driven by it. The library and other buildings have been restored to give a sense of this large city 2,000 years ago, and concerts are still held in the 25,000-seat theater.

9) Teotihuacán, Mexico
Annual Visitors: 1.9 million
The terraced Pyramids of the Sun and Moon dominate the ancient plaza of this sacred city built between the first and seventh centuries. At 250 yards on a side and 200 feet tall, the Pyramid of the Sun is the third largest pyramid in the world. But the Temple of Quetzalcoatl is more decorated—dedicated to the plumed serpent god that figures prominently in its sculptures and reliefs.

10) Hierapolis, Turkey
Annual Visitors: 1.6 million
The brilliant-white, terraced pools of the Pamukkale “cotton palace” hot springs have lured people to this area for well over two millennia and are the reason the Greco-Roman town of Hierapolis exists. Built just above the half-mile-wide, 65-foot-tall travertine wonder in 190 B.C., this ancient “spa town” has ruins of temples, a well-preserved theater,and a Sacred Pool where visitors float above broken Roman columns.

There are many other ruins and magic places to see, but useless to continue if you do not have at least seen one of those listed above, do not you think?l


Published December 3, 2011 by Tony


Who does not know Pompeii, the excavations, the city of the ancient Romans flooded by lava with statues and paintings of bright red, just nicknamed Red of Pompeii?
That typical color “Red Pompeian” that inspired Raffaello (Raphael), who has become famous throughout the world, was not red but YELLOW!
According to a recent Italian CNR study, the red walls of the villas and houses in Pompeii and Herculaneum, analyzed with a spectro-photo-colorimeter, were originally color ochre, and only the action of hot gases during the eruption of 79 BC, could have led to that variation. On the other hand, there are many rooms that, having retained their original color, still are yellow colored. Among the pigments used for painting,  Minium and Cinnabar, the two minerals used in that period to get the red, are lacking while the cheap ocher is the most prevalent pigment. Red or yellow, which is however, we have an exclusive, thanks to the Vesuvius.
And thank goodness that there are two others: the red Ferrari and red Titian.

herculanum pompei

pompei_villa_misteri pompei

Area_Vesuviana pompei

scavi-di-ercolano terme

Pompei lupanare rosso pompeiano