Friday, September 08, 2006

Teaching Company's new course on Classical Archaeology fascinating

I'm presently listening to the Teaching Company's new course on Classical Greek and Roman archaeology and am enjoying it immensely. I had no idea that Sir William Hamilton, husband of the Emma Hamilton who was the paramour of Admiral Horatio Nelson, was the man that really began the serious study of Greek vases. I also found it interesting that the lecturer, Dr. John Hale of the University of Louisville, observed that the original Bourbon-sponsored excavation at Herculaneum under the supervision of military engineer Rocco Gioacchino Alcubierre was conducted with a high degree of professionalism and was not as amateurish as so-called father of classical archaeology, Johann Winckelmann, would have people believe.

According to Dr. Hale, Winckelmann was outraged that he was not allowed to go down into the tunnels when he first visited Herculaneum and subsequently published unfounded claims that the work there was being shoddily done.

Dr. Hale is also more sympathetic to Heinrich Schleimann than other classicists. He said he feels that Schleimann, although orignally recklessly greedy for fame and unscrupulous in his original methods, eventually attempted to conduct work in his later life with a much more professional approach. He also feels the study of archaeology needed these types of flamboyant individuals from time to time to continue to spark enthusiasm for the field.

In this morning's lecture he also talked about the efforts of German archaeologist Edmund Buchner to find remnants of Augustus' mighty Horologium, a giant sun dial the size of two football fields that used an Egyptian obelisk originally created for Pharaoh Psammetichus as its gnomon, constructed on the Campus Martius. Of course Buchner succeeded in 1979, uncovering part of it in the cellar of a cafeteria in the Via di Campo Marzio. I noticed a website that said permission to see the original marble paving revealed by Buchner is available from the German Archaeological Society.

A good article about it can be read at:
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