Monthly Archives: September 2013

Activity Post Week Three–Slideshare Presentation

Hello Professor and fellow class-mates,

Here is the link to my presentation on I did not go overboard on text as I’m supposed to be presenting this in class tomorrow, so be warned if you are trying to follow it only through the slides.  I am also crushed to note that, once you’ve uploaded the presentation to slideshare, it’s not really a power-point anymore, so all my tedious work of animating the bullet-points, paragraphs, and arrows was a giant waste of time. Having never used it before, I did not realize this. I am sad to say that I think my presentation is significantly less cool without the power-point animation, but it cannot be helped.

Also, please note: in slide #2, there are two lines of text which in real power-point would have been hyper-links on which one could simply click. Because slideshare only offers a picture of the slide, clickable links are not possible, so I’ve included the actual web addresses of the articles in question. Please copy + paste the addresses, go to the sites, and give the articles a brief once over–they are quite amusing and the slide doesn’t make much sense without them!



Activity Post Week 3

The reading discusses how streets and spaces led to the Roman Forum, and to understand its movement.  The Roman Forum was a very important marketplace in ancient Rome surrounded by multiple businesses and government buildings.  The Forum depended on the streets that connected it all around. It discusses the topography of the streets that connect to the Forum. Different ancient authors, Greek and Roman, wrote about their recollection of the Forum, or events that had happened in the Forum. They also argue the difference in names for streets, whether it was a street, a way, avenue etc. It explains that the streets that most attracted movements were the ones that were the shortest and the ones that had less elevation change. They also use archaeology to determine the importance of each street. The locations of the streets were not the only factor that was important, but the junctions where those streets originated were also important.

The Roman Forum is said to have been one of the busiest places in Rome, where the people would come for leisure, or business. Having been to the forum myself, I can say that it is also the same nowadays.  The Forum attracts thousands of tourists and locals every day and covers a lot of ground in Rome.  It is located right downtown, and what is fascinating is that every street is connected to it, even today.  The important thing to understand about the forum is that the space and the cityscape are extensively connected to it. Finally, the Forum was for some reason built a different method than the forums in Greece, so that there could be gladiator shows in it.

There is a very interesting article about the movement, sequencing, and simulations of the funeral processions in the Roman Forum on JSTOR. Here is the link:



Week 3 Activity Post

This article talks about different sub topics concerning the diseases and deaths in the city Rome. Brent Shaw conducted his research based on about 4000 dates of deaths which were from the first half of the first century BCE and from the site outside of Rome on the via Appia. His data shows that the majority of the deaths of male and female that were up to the age of fifty, occurred in August, September, and October. The elderly must have suffered during those months also but most likely in the late fall, winter, and early spring. The diseases being recorded at that time were mostly malaria. Asclepiades and Galen both wrote about the different types of malaria and fever. And a century before Galen, Pliny the Elder wrote about diseases in his Natural History. Lichen and elephantiasis were two of the diseases he wrote about.

The environment where the Romans lived in also plays a big role concerning their health. It would be obvious that when the surroundings were bad, many different harmful diseases can be found that affects their health. It is established that the increase in malaria has to do with the flood problems they had. The location where the Romans were living, determines their health also because the cleaner the environment is, the healthier they are. Ancient sources such as Livy also pointed out that the hills of Rome would be the ‘most healthy’ place to be.

It should also be said that not all the pre-modern cities went through these diseases and health problems. Each city had their own problems based on their surroundings. It is not only the environment issue, but also how the diseases were treated. The medical state of help in the ancient time is obviously different than what we have now. We have more knowledge about the diseases and the treatments for it while back then, it was rarer for them. Also, Romans faced problems and diseases in which other cities did not have. Even with modern technology for researches, there are still many uncertainties regarding the cause of deaths and age of deaths in the Roman city. As we go further, we can only hope that the newer discoveries and of science and technology can help us find out more about the deaths and diseases in the ancient city of Rome.

Walter Scheidel, “Disease and Death in the Ancient City of Rome” (2009). Princeton/ Stanford Working Papers in Classics

Readings, Week Three (Part I)

Vitruvius, selected readings from De architectura:

Firstly, Vitruvius was an ancient Roman author. It seems worth noting that he wrote this particular work during the reign of emperor Augustus. As a classicist, this is significant and stands out because Augustus is known in part for his massive building campaigns which he used to propagate broader political (and sometimes even religious) messages appropriating his authority and decisions. The grandeur of Vitruvius’ constructions reflects these themes and one should consider this context in their reading of De architectura.

Vitruvius explains that prior to the construction of a city, a location is vital. Not too high or low in altitude, not too far north or south, etc. This portion of the reading seems to have more in common with biology and the interaction of climate with the human body than the strict architectural material Vitruvius goes on to discuss in tedious detail. Nevertheless his cities require the most ideal conditions. Rome would never settle for less after all…

In his layout of the city, Vitruvius places religious buildings on the highest points. What is the significance of this? Think about this practice, how it dates back before Rome. What significance/advantages has this provided in the past for other cultures?

Forums were placed in city centers according to Vitruvius’ theory of architecture. He also states that a coastal town should have theirs on ground close to the harbour. These were high centers of activity where many people could appreciate the public space. Thinking in the context previously described, how might Vitruvius have exposed this piece of  architecture for Augustus’ propaganda campaign? Is this even a valid connection to make, or are we reading too much into what would have been an immaculately adorned public space regardless of Augustus’ political ambition?

Finally, the basilica at Fano was a major public building that could be found in the forum. Many of the former questions applied to Vitruvius’ architectural schemes used on the forum can be raised again here. More specifically, if Augustus’ manipulation of the masses through the use of architecture and space can be granted, what exactly might he be “saying” with such major structures? Think about the use of religious symbols.

The Digital Roman Forum Project:

The pros of digital reconstruction are made very clear in the article. It helps reconstruct what buildings and other archaeological ruins would have resembled in their contemporary period. Also, without going in and digging up a mess, we can plot out safely how to go about the actual reconstruction process. It allows users to get a more interactive understanding of how the different pieces of the ruins relate. So, for example, it allows foresight when going in to do actual groundwork.

Given this, are there many cons that one can conceive of? Think about not simply the software itself, but even the misuse of it by humans. As is mentioned by the article, digital reconstruction used to be considered “less important” than other methods of archaeology because it was mostly demonstrative. This is refuted by Guidi who believes “that reconstruction is in fact the natural outcome of most archaeological research”. Considering both pros and cons, as well as your knowledge of other archaeological methods (if any), what side do you come down on? What is digital reconstruction’s place in archaeological method and practice?

My Voyant Work

The first half of my Voyant project did not post very much in the way of a pattern. The articles I selected were essentially something to do with Roman politics, with a time lag in the actual journals of about ten years. Finding articles to fit the subject and narrowing them down did not show all that many trends in the articles that I chose. Some words like law, elections, etc. show up through the texts, but in most cases the most frequent words showing up are primarily clustered in one article and not much in the rest.
This Voyant is at

My second Corpus related to archaeology was again rather random in the selection of articles. I chose to do newer articles and see if any patterns emerged, not really. Again, mainly a word would prominently show up in one text and for the rest would be infrequent. This is most likely because the articles I chose had no real common theme to them other than they were related to archaeology in some way. The recurring words were ones that may show up in any given article about anything classical, as words like century and evidence were the two most prominent that actually showed up in the texts, otherwise most words would be frequently in one article and basically not used at all in others. Had I chose articles on a more specific topic as if it were for a paper on a specified topic it would have produced better results or patterns, however I chose another method which was probably a poor choice. The Corpus is available here:

Reminder and Questions

Firstly, just a reminder that we are holding class in Ollie’s today. Hope to see everyone there and get some good discussion going!

Looking at both articles, they are written 20 years apart, but on similar topics dealing with developments in changing archaeological practice and its reception. What do you think about the tones of the two articles?

2015 will be the 80th anniversary of the Society for American Archaeology. Do you expect there will be a more optimistic or pessimistic reception of digital/public archaeology? Think about how New Archaeology was received in 1985 at the 50th anniversary.

Lorna Richardson mentions that there are approximately 7 million people in the UK without access to the internet, who would not benefit from any form of digital or public archaeology. This does not reflect North America. Do you think that this is a problem, or will it change and lessen over time?

Previous decades were described as “Hippie movements”, “New are Feel Good”, etc. This article was written in 1993. What are the 2000s and 2010s seen as in terms of archaeological practice and theory?

What do you think about issues of classical archaeology being restricted in old values? What do you think about the present representation of issues such as class, gender, race and education in working archaeologists now?

“A Digital Public Archaeology” Lorna Richardson

“the need for, and ethical responsibility of, archaeologists involved in the presentation of their work in the public realm to understand, respect and value the interpretations of the past by non-professionals, without the imposition of their ‘correct’ interpretational methods.”
– What does the ‘correct’ method mean to us as students and amateur Archaeologists, what do you think the common person views or perceives this correct method to be?
– How can an Archaeologist ‘dumb down’ a process so the public can better understand it wthout sacrificing the scientific or professional manner they are used to. Think about on the smallest scale of an individual find. How can the public be educated on the significance of a single sherd of pottery?
– What are the main boundaries the public faces to participate in the Archaeological process? How can we try to eliminate these boundaries?
– How might the public opinon of Archaeology differ from the UK to Canada?
Note: Archaeology Magazine – Richard 3rd article and the participation of the media and speedy release of data
Top Down vs Bottom Up
– Top Down – the professional Archaeologist invites the community into the process
– Bottow Up – the community takes on the project themselves and invites the professional Archaeolgist to participate
– Which approach is better in your opinion? Which one is more inclusive and does the inclusivity of the project benefit the process?
Websites the promote Archealogical discussion:
– What other websites offer a discussion on Archaeological finds and issues? How do these sites help form a public connection to professionals and the public? Can these sites cause an issue with the public view of Archaeology?
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
– How can these websites with almost a billion user help to create public forums for Archaeology? Would these websites help or hinder Archaeological process?
Note: Distinguishing between professionals and some kid using Wikipedia.
Archaeological Process:
With the public becoming more and more involved with Archaeology how do we keep the main points of Archaeology in the hands of the professionals. For example if we begin to post every find on a public forum almost as it is occurring what will stop someone from interpreting the finds incorrectly because they are unfamiliar with the processes of Archaeology. Would this situation be better solved by not posting all the data until the final record is released or should there be complete records of everything shown so that we avoid this misinterpretation? How can we along with posting all the findings, educate the public on the significance of the findings and the history involved with the process?

Lorna Richardson, “A Digital Public Archaeology?” Papers form the Institute of Archaeology, 23(1): 10, pp. 1-12, DOI:

Week 2: Activity Post

Lorna Richardson, “A Digital Public Archaeology?” Papers form the Institute of Archaeology, 23(1): 10, pp. 1-12, DOI:

A Digital Public Archaeology focuses on introducing the key literature on the practice of Public Archaeology in the UK, while addressing the issues associated with the engagement of the general public. Richardson gives detailed descriptions of Public Archaeology by attacking it from multiple theoretical perspectives in which give rise to a number of archaeological sectors. An interesting point Richardson addresses is the polarity of the methodological orientations adopted by Community Archaeology projects. The first of these techniques can be described as the top-down method which was championed by Marshall, Moser and Tully. This method maintains the professional integrity of the archaeological experts, who facilitate the archaeological process, while giving a voice to voluntary, amateur assistants. The other side of the spectrum is concerned with the bottom-up approach, described by Liddle, Faulkner, Crosby, Moshenska, and Kenny. This puts the process of public archaeology in the hands of non-professionals while experts are invited to give a supportive role. However this is only half the battle, the digital aspects of archaeology are addressed to inform the reader of the contemporary methods of distributing knowledge worldwide, via the internet. The reader is confronted with several issues associated with digital media communications in which takes a fairly pessimistic view of the contemporary scene. Finally the reader is left thinking of the future of archaeology and how these internet technologies will eventually transform the way one understands and engages with this discipline.

What are some positives and negatives you see to both methods of Community Archaeology?

What are your thoughts on Richardson’s comment of the archaeological material available online as only missing the tangible materiality of the archaeological experience?


Stephen L. Dyson, “From New to New Age Archaeology: Archaeological Theory and Classical Archaeology – A 1990s Perspective.” American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 97, No. 2 (Apr., 1993) pp. 195-206, URL: http//

This article takes a more historical standpoint than the last. Dyson begins by giving an overview of how classical archaeology functioned and why it eventually evolved. The reader finds the leading names of the twentieth century schools of archaeology in which pays an importance to The New Archaeologists. Dyson gives reason to the theoretical backing of modern archaeology and briefly describes the major literary works on the subject. The movements of post-processual archaeology illustrate the interdisciplinary efforts associated with archaeology. Throughout the article the reader is confronted with sociological, political, and individualistic implications of archaeology throughout its history. Thus, Dyson ties the contemporary concerns of theoretical archaeology to the major tenets of classical archaeology in which urges classicist to rethink their process, not only for their own good but the betterment of all archaeological schools.