My new book is out.
The call for papers for the Early Christianity and the Ancient Economy program unit:
The Early Christianity and Ancient Economy program unit sponsors three projects: The first project involves a study of all the major aspects of the economy in the ancient world, especially the Roman Empire. The second project examines first-century early Christianity both in relationship to the ancient economy and in regard to its own economic aspects. The third project does the same for Christianity in the second to the fifth centuries. Both synchronic and diachronic studies are encouraged, as are contributions focused on specific issues (such as money, texts, authors, themes, and events). Paper proposals for all three projects are welcomed, especially those that make use of papyri, inscriptions, and other realia. At least two sessions are planned for the meeting in Atlanta. Those submitting a proposal should designate in the Abstract the project for which the paper should be considered.
It’s been almost a year since I went to Sicily and took way too many photos. I’ve already posted some from the Villa Romana del Casale, Morgantina, and Aidone. Here are some other highlights:
A few miles out of town on the Via Nomentana is the Mausoleum of Constantina, built in the mid-fourth century CE. There is an associated basilica which looks like a circus. The nearby 7th century church of Saint Agnes (S. Agnese fuori le Mura) is also worth a look. Didn’t have a chance to visit the catacombs beneath it…
With our study abroad class drawing to a close today, Dr. Meyers and I took the opportunity to explore a new place: the Roman Houses of Palazzo Valentini (Le Domus Romane di Palazzo Valentini). This archaeological site, located underneath a sixteenth century palazzo near Trajan’s column, features parts of two Roman houses from the imperial period. The brochure calls it “an unforgettable journey through time” and I suspect it is unforgettable. I’ve certainly never seen a site presented like this before. You spend most of the tour looking down through glass floors at the Roman remains while experiencing a kind of son et lumière. The narration is at times kind of cheesy (e.g., “The horse was the Roman motor car”), bombastic, or poorly translated from Italian (e.g., “the Trajan column”) but that hardly detracts from the overall effect. The tour takes you through, among other things, the bathing complex of one house, a segment of Roman road, an impressive mosaic floor from the second house, and some nice opus sectile floors as well. The images projected onto the floors, walls, and ceilings recreate the ancient environment while the narration discusses how the Roman houses were destroyed as well as the subsequent occupation and use of the site. There are a couple museum-like sections with displays of marble, ceramic, epigraphic, and numismatic finds. The tour ends with a couple of presentations about Trajan’s Column. The visuals are quite impressive although I have the sense that the narration is being delivered by a computerized voice. They discourage photography and, given the way the site is lighted, it would be hard to take good photos anyway. However, their website provides a nice gallery of images. They advise booking tickets in advance. The whole tour lasted about an hour and a half. Definitely worthwhile.
The remains of this 4th century CE villa near Piazza Armerina are one of the great treasures of Sicily and indeed the world.
The decision to replace the villa’s old see-through roofs with opaque ones was an excellent one. It is now much easier to see (and photograph) the mosaics.
On this very cold weekend in the Midwest I thought I’d post some photos from the hottest place I visited in Sicily last spring (Morgantina) and the delightful little town (Aidone) whose archaeological museum houses some of its remains.
Morgantina is southeast of Enna and a short drive from the Villa Romana del Casale near Piazza Armerina (I’ll post some photos of its fantastic mosaics soon). Although this time the site felt like the inside of an oven, on cooler days it’s well worth a visit. (But bring water just in case.) The city dates back to the late Bronze Age but moved to its current location in the 5th century BCE. Changing hands several times in the many wars of the following centuries, the town lasted until the first century CE. Excavations have been going on for quite a while now so there’s plenty to see.