Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pompeiian Votive Offerings

Fascinating terracotta votive offerings of phalli, breasts and uteri from the Naples Museum, and the marble ones from Athens.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Slightly Random Holiday Pics

Some holiday pics: Isis from Hadrian's Villa now in the Vatican Museum; Paestum; Amalfi; Live at Pompeii; a very gorgeous cult object from the favissa of a Yavneh temple on display at the Eretz Israel Museum; a visit with members of the Gath excavation team to Tel Zeit in Israel; Mount Vesuvius looming over Naples.

Monday, August 3, 2009

My Frenetic Trip

OK, as promised below, here's a proper report about my overseas trip (from which I've only been back less than a week). It went like this: Melbourne to Rome, to Naples, to Herculaneum, then the Amalfi Coast - Sorrento, Amalfi and Positano - with side trips to Pompeii and Paestum. Then back to Rome to visit musuems, walk around the city, and try and understand the geographical relationship between the Capitoline Hill and the Temple of Isis in the Campus Martius (which doesn't actually exist any more although we know where it was). I also attended the SAMR Conference (mentioned in a post below) which was fantastic because I met Carin Green, author of Roman Religion and the Cult of Diana at Aricia - a book anyone interested in contemporary Wicca, Stregheria and the portrayal of the Rex Nemorensis by J. G. Frazer in The Golden Bough should read - and also had lunch with her during which I pestered her non-stop about Diana's sanctuary. I also met Lauren Petersen, author of The Freedmen in Roman Art and Art History, which is important to me because of its chapter on the Popidius Family and their relationship to the cult of Isis in Pompeii. Lauren did a fantastic presentation on the sacred places of Isis in Rome.
Then I went to Israel, met up with Jason and Dean and went screaming down south on a bus to Eilat in order to cross the border into Jordan and visit Petra. This we did, and that's when I began to realise that I was much less fit that I had thought. I could only do one (extremely demanding) day at Petra whereas Jason and Dean did two. Then it was back to Jerusalem and on to the dig at Tell es-Safi Gath. I stayed on the dig for two weeks. It was very educational regarding field archaeology and pottery sherd processing and there were lectures at night and field trips to other sites some afternoons. I also met interesting people. It was very physically demanding however, and because I'd been debilitated by Petra (yes, in one day!) I began the dig very stiff and weak. The constant manual labour soon toughened me up however and by the end I was able to ascend the near-vertical hill up to the dig site with only a couple of rest stops (as opposed to about four) and also carrying heavy containers of water (as opposed to being unable to carry anything because it just made the ascent even harder). One of the highlights was the visit to Gath of (celebrity) archaeologist, Israel Finkelstein - yeah, I'm impressed by such things. Before I knew it I'd let out a solicitous wolf whistle - hey, he's sexy, it was a normal reaction - but luckily I don't think anyone really heard me because no doubt it would have been considered un-PC. I received a grant from the magazine, Biblical Archaeology Review, to attend the dig at Gath so in return will write up a report and supply photos to them, within the next month.
After the dig I went to Jerusalem and stayed in the Old City in the Muslim Quarter for five days. My hotel, the Hashimi Hotel, does have the best view of the Dome of the Rock - just as Lonely Planet said - and I spent a lot of time on their rooftop veging out, staring at the view and reading. I went to museums, sites, ate food and relaxed. Next I had to go to Tel Aviv, because I was flying out of there, and so went to the excellent Eretz Israel Museum which consists of several separate pavillions clustered around the excavation site of Tell Qasile. Fascinating. I particularly loved the ceramics and metal pavillions, the former contaning wonderful cult objects and the latter all the objects from the copper mine and Temple to Hathor at Timna in southern Israel. I'm very taken with Timna.
Then it was off to lovely Athens to visit three museums. All up I went to twelve museums on my trip and yes, I am now going to list them: In Italy I went to the Vatican, Palatine, Naples, Paestum, two separate collections of the National Museum of Rome (the collections of which are housed in several different buildings around the city) and the bookshop of the Capitoline Museum (I couldn't be bothered going into the actual museum that day and I have been there before). In Israel I went to the Rockefeller, Bible Lands and Eretz Israel Museums, and in Greece the Museum of Cycladic Art, the Athens Archaeological (simply enormous) which also, fortuitously, was showing the Worshipping Women: Ritual and Reality in Classical Athens exhibition, and lastly the New Acropolis Museum. It was all highly satisfying and I took lots of photos (where permitted) and bought catalogues and other fabulous books (consequently my suitcase was extremely heavy).
Images: Three Sirens and a (rather decayed but I think it looks very evocative) Sphinx from the Athens Archaeological Museum.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Been on 'oliday.

Yeah, that's right, a holiday. Well... it started off as a holiday, a research trip/holiday. Top picture is me relaxing at a hill-top hotel (which used to be a monastery) in Naples - sorry you can't actually see Naples in this pic (yes, I could be in Melbourne for all you know). Next pic is me in the Villa of the Mysteries in Pompeii - and yes, the red colour in the frescoes really is that bright! But no, I have not become a cow-girl, its just that it was so hot I simply had to wear a hat. Then I went to an archaeological dig in Israel which involved a lot of early rising and physical exertion. It was mentally stimulating and educational for sure, but these pics show me boiling hot and sweaty - at least there was shade cloth. A more sensible and informative post to follow - as soon as I have time.