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Lecture 20

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Ben Akrigg

CLA260H1S Method and Theory in Classics Session 19: Doing Roman Archaeology (In Alcock and Osborne eds. Classical Archaeology (2007) see the chapters by Martin Millett and Henry Hurst.) • Interest in the material remains of the ancient Romans went hand- in-hand with the intensifying interest in classical literary texts in Europe from the 14 century onwards. o Note in passing the somewhat exceptional figure of Cyriac of Ancona in the 15 century. In addition to his descriptions of monuments and antiquities in Rome, he travelled extensively in the eastern Mediterranean and recorded (and drew) what he found. What made him unusual (apart from the volume and quality of his observations) was the strength of his interest in Greek antiquities as well as Roman – particularly noteworthy is his illustration of the Parthenon in Athens. • Pompeii and Herculaneum are particularly important in the history of archaeology generally, not just Roman archaeology o The sites at Herculaneum and Pompeii started to be excavated under the patronage of Charles of Bourbon, the King of Naples in 1738 and 1748 respectively; the first catalogue of finds was published in 1755, and in 1762 Winckelmann published a ‘Letter’ on the Herculaneum finds. It was only in 1860 however that Giuseppe Fiorelli began properly systematic and recorded excavations. • There are foreign archaeological schools in Rome (most notably the French Academy, (Académie de France à Rome) which dates back to the 17 century, the British School at Rome, and the American Academy in Rome – but not forgetting also the Finnish Institute in Rome (Institutum Romanum Finlandiae), but they are much less central to Italian archaeology than their Greek counterparts in Athens. • The ‘New Archaeology’ of the 1960s and 1970s: o Generally associated with a group of US archaeologists (especially Lewis Binford), who were dissatisfied with the existing state of the discipline. o A (if not the) key concern of advocates of the ‘new archaeology’ was that existing approaches failed to explain change in past cultures. (Existing narratives tended to posit migrations of peoples and vague ‘influences’). o What was suggested instead was a greater focus on understanding the processes at work in the history of cultures – from this emphasis on processual interpretation the ‘New Archaeology’ is also (and now usually) identified as processual archaeology or processualism. (The use of these terms in this way is usually traced to Willey & Phillips’ 1958 book Method and Theory in A
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