AIA Montreal Day Two: From the Tiber to the Agora

I started the second day at the “Water as a Cultural Force” session, chaired by Rabun Taylor (Harvard). It was something of a mixed bag, but quite enjoyable. Like yesterday, I present a brief overview of the papers that I saw today:

The Palais des Congrés, Montréal – site of the AIA annual meeting 2006. Photo: TMK, January 2006.

Floods and the Distribution of Various Types of Buildings in Ancient Rome
Gregory S. Aldrete, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
This paper used topographical maps and GIS to simulate the effects of floods in Rome. Each generation would have experienced at least a couple of major floods, and a 15 m rise in the water level would have affected most parts of the city, including the Forum. The Forum Boarium, right by the Tiber, was one of the most frequently flooded areas of Rome. While some of the city’s most important monuments were in the danger zone, the only types of building that seems to have been deliberately kept away from the danger of flooding (at least from the 2nd century CE) were the imperial baths, all built on slopes or higher ground, and the luxury houses of the Roman elite on the hilltops.

Canalis Maximus: A Reexamination of the Monumental Design and Impact of the Cloaca Maxima in Sixth Century B.C. Rome
John N.N. Hopkins, The University of Texas at Austin
This paper investigated the early beginnings of public monumental architecture in Rome through a case study of the Cloaca Maxima. Following other recent studies, Hopkins argued that the Cloaca was constructed as a canal across the Forum Romanum in the late 6th century BCE by the city’s Etruscan kings. The construction of the canal also made it possible to further develop the Forum as the civic centre of Rome.

New Excavations at Carsulae: 2004–2005
Jane K. Whitehead, Valdosta State University
Whitehead presented the preliminary results of the excavations of a bath building at the Umbrian site of Carsulae, known for its natural springs. Early Italian excavators of the site argued that the bath building was similar in layout to the much debated bath building at Olympia, once touted as housing the world’s first hypocaust. However, the new excavations have revealed that this similarity is only superficial. Instead, Whitehead suggested a connection with the Stabian baths at Pompeii. During late antique repairs of the bath building, care was taken to keep its ‘archaic’ look.

The Pons Sublicius in Context: Revisiting Rome’s First Public Work
Alison B. Griffith, University of Canterbury
This paper discussed what is probably Rome’s most famous ancient bridge across the Tiber. Unfortunately, it does not survive, since by religious code it could only be constructed using timber. Nor has its location been precisely located. The discussion therefore relied on literary sources and comparative archaeological material. The Pons Sublicius is perhaps most interesting because of its religious importance.

I then went over to the small (but well-attended) “Pompeii” session, chaired by Christopher Parslow (Wesleyan).

The Role of Ollae Perforatae in Ancient Roman Garden Design and in the Ancient Plant Trade in the Vesuvian Region
Elizabeth R. Macaulay, Oxford University
I worked with Lizzie at Nemi back in 2002, so it was interesting to hear this paper on her doctoral work. Ollae perforatae are planting pots, recognizable by the holes in their lower part (hence the name) and constitute an important source to Roman gardens and gardening. She focused on the evidence from Campania, where some 350 planting pots have been excavated. These pots were predominantly locally made, and often intentionally broken before insertion into the ground to allow room for the growth of the plants’ roots. She then established a typology of the ollae perforatae.

Investigating Urban Change: Examining Insula VII.9 of Pompeii
Kevin Cole, University of Virginia
This paper presented a close architectural investigation of a series of rooms behind the Pompeii forum’s imperial cult building. Profound changes took place in this area after the earthquake in 62 CE, and two throughways to the forum were closed. The closeness of industrial production (of wool and garum), public space and private accommodation is striking.

All Fired Up: The Architectural Terracotta Industry of Pompeii
Benjamin Costello, IV, State University of New York at Buffalo
This paper dealt with mainly the theoretical side of the Roman tile-and-brick industry. In fact, he concluded that there at present is no archaeological evidence for large-scale industrial production of tiles at Pompeii. Such production would have taken place outside the city walls, an area we still know relatively little about.

In the afternoon, I saw the The Athenian Agora: Celebrating 75 Years of Discovery” colloquium, organized by Stephen Tracy (ASCSA). All of the papers took broad, synthesizing approaches to their topics, so I will keep it brief.

Recent Excavations in the Athenian Agora (2004 and 2005)
John McK Camp, II, American School of Classical Studies at Athens
Camp gave tribute to his predecessors and briefly outlined some highlights of the dig’s history. He then reported on some of the main findings of the last two years of excavations. Similar reports can be found here and here.

The Persian Destruction Deposits and the Development of Pottery Research at the Excavations of the Athenian Agora
Kathleen Lynch, University of Cincinnati
This paper investigated the evidence for Persian destruction deposits, from Eugene Vanderpool’s “rectangular rock-cut shaft” to the most recent findings. Lynch also further refuted the chronology proposed by Vickers and Gill for these deposits.

Ostraka from the Athenian Agora
James P. Sickinger, Florida State University
This paper presented the recent find of an ostraka cache known as K 2:7.

Commercial Buildings at the Classical Agora
Susan Rotroff, Washington University at St. Louis
This paper investigated a series of buildings on the Agora as potential sites for commerce.

Roman Portraits from the Athenian Agora: Recent Finds
Lee Ann Riccardi, College of New Jersey
This paper presented 3 female and 2 male portraits, recently found in the Agora. They had been re-used in various Medieval contexts. I could say a lot about this paper, but will wait until more appears in print. I remember seeing photos of most of these portraits on the Agora site, but I can’t find them at the moment.

Digitizing 75 Years of Archaeological History at the Athenian Agora
Bruce Hartzler, The American School of Classical Studies at Athens
This paper presented the various efforts of the Agora excavations to make their findings available digitally.

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