Rome, Tarquinia and Ceveteri

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Typical Roman view near my hotel – Santa Maria Maggiore + Vespas

I’ve just got back from my RAC/TRAC 2016 trip, and I can’t leave it too long before posting some pictures. The conference was absolutely excellent, and it was a joy to catch up with some old and new friends over at La Sapienza.

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La Sapienza

Highlights of the conference for me included Maureen Carroll’s paper on the votive statues of mothers holding babies at Capua, and Astrid van Oyen’s paper on Roman concrete. I also really enjoyed some of the papers on Roman diets and food, which taught me a lot about ancient wheat yields and nutrition. Archaeology conferences are incredibly varied, and this was no different. If you want to catch up on this year’s Roman Archaeology Conference and the Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference, there is a handy Storify summary of the tweets.

Like many others, I also went over to the British School at Rome March Mostra, where the current resident artists are displaying their work. Here’s a close-up from my favourite piece, “Io Saturnalia” by Anne Ryan.

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After the conference, I was basically on holiday for a few days, doing a few work-related things but not really any work – and seeing plenty of completely non-work-related things too. I finally made it to the Galleria Borghese, which I missed out on during my trip to Rome last year.

I also managed to make it to a lot of churches I hadn’t been to before, especially ones like Santa Prassede and Santa Pudenziana, with their beautiful early Christian mosaics.

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The Capitoline Museums were another excellent day out, since I hadn’t been in a few years.

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But the best of all was a day-trip to the sites at Tarquinia and Ceveteri. Surprisingly, I had never been to these wonderful Etruscan necropoleis before. I only got to do the sites and not the museums, but I will definitely be returning to complete the trip another time. Both sites are UNESCO World Heritage sites, and excellent in their own ways. In Tarquinia, you can enter down into beautifully painted Etruscan tombs. (The paintings are sensibly behind glass, so it is very tricky to get a good picture.)

In Ceveteri, the tombs are far less elaborately painted, but the site is incredibly atmospheric and quiet, with thousands of tombs stretching out along ancient roads. My friends and I couldn’t quite believe that we’d stumbled into this hidden world, less than an hour from central Rome.

It was an excellent conference, research trip and holiday, all rolled into one. Now, I can just hope to return to Rome again soon. Here’s a votive for safe journeys and return journeys, in the hope that I’ll be back soon.

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