Frescoes in the Roman Catacombs

A couple of days ago we had some exciting news about new Roman finds in Britain; now here’s some even more exciting archaeology news from Rome itself. Frescoes in the Catacombs of Domitilla, just outside the city, have been restored to show images and inscriptions which provide new evidence for life in Rome in the 3rd-4th centuries CE – from the organisation of the communal corn dole to the role of Christianity in the city at this period – plus graffiti left by the catacombs’ first excavators in the 17th century. Details and some nice pictures here. This is definitely going on my list of things to see in Rome!

Halloween blog round-up

Only a day late, a round-up of some Halloween-related posts to enjoy!

Firstly, here’s a collection of spooky stories from ancient Rome: ‘Zombies, Witches, and Werewolves, Oh My!

And here is yet another post for the board game fans about a game that’s good fun to play on Halloween (or any other time of year when you have several hours to spare for fighting Lovecraftian monsters): Eldritch Horror.

UK readers can help out with some spooky historical research: historians are trying to track down examples of ‘witch marks’ – lines, geometric designs, or letters carved into doors and windows of houses, churches, etc to keep witches away. Details at the Historic England site, where you can also submit pictures of any marks you spot!

Finally, a bonus link: pictures of some very grumpy looking cats in ridiculous Halloween costumes.

Eureka! It’s an automatic Latin poetry machine

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The ‘Eureka’ machine (image: Alfred Gillett Trust)

I just have to share this wonderful machine a friend recently sent me an article about: the ‘Eureka‘, a machine created in the early 19th century which automatically generated Latin poetry. Invented by John Clark (a relative of the Clarks who founded the shoe company), the machine caused a sensation when put on public display in London in 1845 (it was the subject of articles in Punch and the Illustrated London News, and its exhibition apparently made Clark enough money to retire).

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