Category: roman

Bad Romans

Oh-oh-oh-oh-oooh!
Oh-oh-oooh-oh-oh!
They were some bad Romans.

Rah-rah-ah-ah-ah!
Roma-Roma-ma-man!
Ga-ga-ooh-la-la!
Want your bad Romans

Claudius was ugly
Caligula was diseased
Ceasar wanted everything
As long as it’s free
Antony wanted love
Love-love-love
He wanted love

Nero had drama
With his baby mama
Commodus liked to watch men fight in the sand
Gladiator love
Love-love-love
Gladiator love

You know Julius Ceasar
He was dictator for life
They thought he was a bad, bad Roman

Brutus killed Caesar
Octavian wanted revenge
He went and killed some bad Romans
There’s lots love and
And even more revenge
When you talk about the bad Romans

Et-et-et-tu-uuu!
Et-tu-Bruté-ay-ay!
He was a bad Roman!

Oh-oh-oh-oh-oooh!
Oh-oh-oooh-oh-oh!
They were some bad Romans

Rah-rah-ah-ah-ah!
Roma-Roma-ma-mans!
Ga-ga-ooh-la-la!
Very very bad Romans

badromans1

Happy Ides of March! There’s much room for more verses to come…

Wall walking

I’m still a ways behind on the day trips of the last month or so.

When Jes and Tariq came to visit, they decided they wanted to see Hadrian’s Wall. They wanted to see Vindolanda, where I did my excavation in April and some other wallish things.

You can get to all the forts and landmarks on the wall on a bus from Newcastle, the AD122. But it only leaves once a day, at 9am. I wasn’t sure we’d be able to catch it on time, but with lots of coffee and a little luck, we boarded the bus and drove along the wall (literally, the road sometimes follows on top of the wall).

We started out at Vindolanda, where I gave them a tour from what I remembered of my orientation, told them what I’d found and showed them where I’d dug.

The original plan was to take the bus to Housesteads Roman Fort and look around. Housesteads is usually used as an example of the typical Roman fort plan and I hadn’t been yet.

We were waiting for the bus in front of Vindolanda. It was cold and windy and we were bored.

So we decided to walk to Housesteads instead.

I’m still not sure how far it was, but it wasn’t an easy walk by any means (though we were definitely the youngest and the most exhausted of the wall walkers that day - clearly the old people were in better shape!)

But it was beautiful.

What goes up must come down, photo by me

It looks nice until you realize that once you get to the top you have to go down again. And then up again. For at least 3 miles.

Climb me! photo by me

And sometimes the path would go over an old farmer’s wall and you have to climb over it on an Official Hadrian’s Wall Path Ladder (UNESCO approved!)

Jes and Tariq being a cute couple, photo by me

But the views from the top are spectacular. I think you can see Scotland back there. That’s Jes and Tariq, being cute.

Lake, photo by me

This was my second favourite view.

Milecastle 39, photo by me

The Romans had a Milecastle on every Roman mile of the wall. This is Milecastle 39, one of the best preserved on the wall.

Robin Hood tree, photo by me

Recognize this? This was my favourite part of the walk. This is none other than the iconic tree from the beginning of the Robin Hood movie with Kevin Costner. It’s somewhere between Once Brewed and Housesteads. Isn’t it a great tree?!

The three of us, photo by me

So we had to take a self portrait, obviously. My hair was escaping from its braids by this point. It was so windy!

Me and Jes walking the wall, photo by Tariq

All in all, it was a great day adventure and a good workout. My legs really hurt the next day.

Italia

A couple of weeks ago, I returned to Italy. After my last impression of Rome, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew, however, that this trip would be different.

For one, I was going with my friend Toe who speaks Italian. So I didn’t have to get lost in translation. He ordered my food and asked all the questions I needed. It was great!

Secondly, we were going to see more than just Rome. Toe’s family has an apartment just outside the city walls in Rome, but they also have an olive farm, in a city called Castelnuovo di Farfa, about half an hour away.

The Olive Farm, par moi

What I discovered was that Italy is beautiful. It really does have character, and it starts the minute you leave Rome. The entire time in the Sabine* (the area where the olive farm is) was like a scene from a bad romantic comedy. There was a traffic jam with sheep. There were narrow winding roads lined with olive trees. There was a part where we had to get out of the car and push.

Traffic jam, par moi

We explored the ruins of a Roman bridge. We went to a town that was about two streets big, and set entirely on a cliff. We sat in the sun. We got a tour (in Italian only!) of the Olive Oil Museum (including modern art inspired by olive oil!)

The Olive Oil Museum, par moi

And, inevitably, everything shut for two hours in the afternoon. It was slow, peaceful and quiet.

Peach blossom, by me

We spent a few days in Rome, too, and I still don’t love it. Next time, I’d rather just stay at the olive farm.

*The Sabine is the area from the early Roman myth of the Rape of the Sabines! How cool is that? I bought a children’s book in Italian about it.

You dig okay, Ponyboy

#57. Do an archaeological dig.

Today is the last day of my two week archaeological dig at Vindolanda, a Roman fort near Hadrian’s Wall.

Since I’m doing my MA in Greek and Roman Archaeology and all, I thought it would be a good idea to finally put my trowel where my mouth is. To get my hands dirty, literally. Though, apparently this is not a prerequisite to being an archaeologist as there are many who never do any digging at all and sit around talking about archaeological theory (the bane of my existence last semester.)

The first week I loved it. It was incredibly painful for the first two days. I didn’t know I even had some of the muscles that were hurting the next day! But once that passed, I was so excited to get back in the dirt and start finding things. Walls, nails, tons of pot sherds.

I’m glad I did two weeks. Last week, I was on a physical activity high and decided that I could actually do archaeology as a job. This week, I’m exhausted and I’ve realized that even though I do enjoy it, it will have to be an occasional thing for me because it’s just too tiring for an everyday job.

I had a really good time, though, overall. The people on the dig were great. The volunteers are all ages, from all sorts of places and have all different levels of experience. It would have been a really long two weeks if it weren’t for my trench buddies.

The highlight of my dig? On Tuesday I found a bronze (or copper-alloy!) Roman door knob! It was the only thing I found to get its own small finds bag.

And now… if I never touch another wheelbarrow in my life, I (and my poor wrists) will be very happy.

Wishing I was a hotter archaeologist, like Lara Croft.

Number 57 is the newest addition to my list, because I found out last year that I’d miscounted and forgotten it! So I got to add something a little more related to what I was going to do with my life.

They built a wall…

…the Romans, that is. Starting in 122 CE (or AD if you’d like). They built a wall from one side of Britain to the other, to regulate travel and keep the south safe from Barbarica - in this case, Scotland.

wall

In Rome, the army is power. Caesar came to power because he had support of the troops. When Octavian wanted to claim his inheritance, he bought off the army first. Any ruler worth his salt kept the army happy. And busy. Because a bored army is recipe for rebellion.

Emperor Hadrian was smart enough to recognize this, and put them to work building a wall, some forts and a milecastle every Roman mile. Sure, it was a lot about defence and transportation too. But the most important this is that the legions stationed in the North were too busy to come around and repeat the events of 69 CE (the year of four Emperors, all to fresh in the Roman mind).

Newcastle Upon Tyne stands at the Eastern-most edge of Hadrian’s Wall. Within a short journey is several major forts (Segedenum, Arbeia, Vindolanda, Birdoswald) and some of the most important Roman excavations going on now.

excavationsvindolanda

Being in Northeast, I’ve had a chance to visit some Roman ruins. We went out to Vindolanda about a week and a half ago. At Vindolanda, they found surviving examples of Roman papyri. Written in strange cursive Latin, the Vindolanda tablets show us daily life on the Roman frontier. From birthday party invitations to requests for leave, the tablets offer an amazing insight.

They’ve already done extensive excavations at Vindolanda, and they’re in the process of doing more. You can see a bathhouse, a granary, and several other buildings from the fort and the town that grew up around it to cater to the Roman army. You can see the complex system of wells and waterways that made it possible to supply water to almost every building. You can also see the remains of how they kept themselves warm in the cold Northeastern winter - the heated floors.

bathhouse

The second place I went was Birdoswald, where one of my professors is leading an excavation on a Roman cemetery. He led us through the excavation, and then we walked out to the Wall and followed it for a few miles to see a milecastle and a Roman bridge.

bridge

So I have a new goal. There is a path that follows the 80 miles of Hadrian’s Wall, from coast to coast. There are hotels and hostels on the way. I want to walk the Wall…. in the summer. Apparently it only takes about a week to get from Newcastle to the West coast.