Friday, November 23, 2007

Historical treasures, imagined and real


Over at Blogenspiel, Another Damned Medievalist has posted Carnivalesque XXXIII, a collection of links to interesting Ancient/Medieval items from recent blogs. Aside from cutting remarks about Beowulf and Neil Gaiman's role in it (go look it up!), there is a fine item from Tony Keen on what he'd like to see recovered from Pompeii if further digs discover more lost literature on the lines of the Greek library already found there. Posts like this can be tiresome but I liked Tony's so much that I followed his link to a post by Mary Beard, who earlier asked her readers for their wish lists.

It may seem that this wishing is ridiculously unrealistic. Well, wishes almost never come true in the way you'd like them to. But this week has shown that the unexpected can occur in a stunning manner. At least, I was stunned by two discoveries.

The first was a seemingly 7th-century royal cemetery in the North of England, the only such, with some individual pieces reminiscent of the Sutton Hoo material from East Anglia. This is really hot stuff, which will be analyzed for a long time to come.

Even better, if you are interested in Rome, is the apparent discovery of the Lupercale in Rome. To quote the Guardian, it's

a large vaulted hall beneath the Palatine hill ... almost certainly the fabled Lupercale - a sanctuary believed by ancient Romans to be the cave where the twin boys Romulus and Remus were suckled by a she-wolf.
The Guardian site has some video footage. You see, the cavern is in bad shape, and has only been seen via a probe-camera inserted from above. Watching it, you can imagine the excitement of the archaeologists and technicians who first saw it. The lead archaeologist, Andrea Carandini, said it's ""one of the greatest discoveries ever made" and whose to say that's wrong?

One story I saw said this shrine was accessible until the 16th century. Does any reader know more about this, and how the Lupercale was lost?

Let's call this Good News Friday and leave it at that.

Image: The English finds, from the BBC story.

1 comment:

  1. I don't want to acquire a reputation for pouring cold water on archaeologists' fantasies, though it may already be too late, but I have to warn you that Signor Dottore Carandini is not averse to making claims for his evidence that go well beyond what most of his colleagues think is justifiable. One of my colleagues heard him lecture a while ago and reported that when pressed for dating evidence for some of his suggestions he resorted to a circular defence based on how well it fitted in with the theory he was propounding. All I am saying is, he says he's found the Lupercale, and maybe this is more plausible than some of the other things he has claimed, but there will be a great deal of disagreement even in Rome...

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