Category: lyn - Part 2

Caroline Lawrence and Millie Binks Join a Growing List of Celebs Fighting to Save Colchester’s Roman Circus

Dan Cruickshank is front-page news

Best-selling author Caroline Lawrence has added her name to a growing list of celebrities supporting the fight to save Colchester’s Roman Circus.

Lawrence, the author of the Roman Mysteries series of childrens books, joins other high-profile people backing the appeal, including authors Ronald Blythe, Guy de la Bedoyere and Adam Hart-Davis, Time Team presenter Tony Robinson, architectural historian and TV presenter Dan Cruickshank, broadcaster Peter Snow, and former MP and cabinet minister Tony Benn.

Colchester was the first Roman capital of England, and boasts a number of well-preserved sites such as the Norman castle and Roman wall, which was built to defend against the ruthless Boudica. Lawrence will present a multimedia presentation in the town on February 19 to raise money for a public appeal aimed at rescuing the Sergeants Mess, a Victorian building that has the gates to the Roman Circus the UKs only Roman chariot racecourse beneath it.

Some 750,000 is needed to prevent the building falling into the hands of developers. A public appeal needs to contribute 200,000 of this by the end of February, with this kitty currently standing at 160,000 following a 30,000 donation from the council. The remaining 550,000 will then be found via grants and loans.

Colchester’s Circus isn’t the only Roman site currently under threat in the south east. Canterbury’s Roman Museum is also threatened with closure as part of the local council’s bid to cut costs. The museum contains original frescoes and part of a Roman pavement.

Concrete Plans are in Place for the Site

Proposed visitors centre for Colchester Roman Circus

If the appeal run by Destination Colchester and the Colchester Archaeological Trust is successful, a free public facility will be created on the site, complete with informative displays, a cafe and a garden featuring the remains of the eight starting gates.

Lawrence described the Circus as a real national treasure that was well worth saving for the thousands of schoolchildren (and their parents) who love learning about Britain’s Roman heritage.

One of the delights of writing the Roman Mysteries is the research I do, delving into the world of ancient Rome, she says. One thing I have come to realise is that many Roman institutions have modern equivalents, but the one aspect of Roman life we simply cannot replicate is a day at the [chariot] races.

CBBCStar to Join Lawrence

Site of Colchester's Roman east gateThe charity presentation on February 19 which could raise as much as 1,000 will also feature Millie Binks (a Colchester local), who plays the character of Pulchra in the CBBC adaptation of Lawrences books.

Lawrence said the presentation would be an illustrated talk that brought to life a day at the Roman Circus, describing the sights, sounds and emotions of a day of chariot racing.

The presentation will take place from 2pm on Friday, February 19 at the Colchester Arts Centre. Everyone attending will take home a free signed copy of one of Lawrences books. Tickets are 6 and can be bought online or over the phone on 01206 500 900.

More information on the appeal is on the official site, on the Facebook group Save Colchester’s Roman Circus and on Twitter.

Dragons’ Den Helps the Indiana Jones of the Perfumes Industry Release Ancient ‘Scents of Time’

David Pybus describes himself as a 21st century alchemist and aromancer, and says his mission in life is to get people to stop their frenetic living from time to time and to smell the roses. Hes underselling himself, of course. Hes really a chemist with more than 20 years experience at the worlds largest perfume makers.

During an appearance on the BBCs Dragons Den in 2007, he convinced entrepreneurs Theo Paphitis and Peter Jones to part with 40,000 each to help launch Scents of Time, a range of fragrances based on ancient themes.

Since his appearance on the show and with the backing of the two dragons, five fragrances Nenufar, Pyxis, Maya, Ankh and Night Star have been launched, with another two, Chrism (the anointing oil of European monarchs) and Aurum (a fragrance of the ancient Olympics) on the way. Nenufar is billed as “the sacred scent of Cleopatra” and used to seduce Mark Antony and Caesar, Pyxis is “the lost perfume of Pompeii“, Maya is the mystic scent of the Americas, Ankh is Tutankhamuns aroma of intrigue, and Night Star is the recreation of a rose scent discovered in the wreck of the Titanic. More than a dozen scents are being developed as part of a 20-year strategy to corner a slice of the perfume market.

The Indiana Jones of the Perfume World

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Pybus whose nicknames apparently include the Indiana Jones of the perfume industry and the Perfume Hunter (his middle name is Hunter) is to perfume what Patrick McGovern is to wine. Hes worked with archaeologists at Pompeii and other ancient sites to study and understand the use of fragrances in ancient times in order to re-create them for todays consumers. He says ancient scents have stood the test of time and are still remarkably fit for modern days.

After all cinnamon has been cinnamon, and rose rose, for millennia, he writes on his website. Nothing is new under the sun and the ancients blended perfumes just as well as any contemporary nose.

Pybus is the author of several perfume-related books, including Transports of Delight: An Aromatic Journey in Verse from East to West on the Wings of Perfume and Kodo: The Way of Calm, an exploration of the use of incense in ancient Japanese culture. Two more books are expected this year, including Scents of Time, which tells the story of the perfume range and its links to ancient times.

Cornering The Market

The perfumes in line with their ancient origins are intended to be unisex. He says the range has been popular among heterosexual men and women, as well as among gay consumers. This has convinced us simply to follow historic precedent and not to make the distinction. Less than 100 years ago, fragrances were used by all on the basis of what they liked, Pybus explains. There was no male/female distinction (think of Blackadder, when in Elizabethan times men wore ruffs, ear rings and the like.) It was those tricksy marketing people who dreamed it all up.

But, as youd expect with a product backed by Paphitis and Jones, the Scents of Time range isn’t immune to a little tricksy marketing if it helps it appeal to the modern masses. The range has been designed with the environment in mind: Pybus is against testing perfumes on animals, and he says more than 80% of the materials used in his packaging are recycled, with 97% of the resulting packaging in turn recyclable. And hes even done the maths on the products carbon footprint: The aromas for creating a perfume come for all over the world, and the formulae is secret, but taking everything into account, my best estimate is that to make and pack one bottle of fragrance ready for shipment uses up less than one tenth of a mile,” he says. “To get this figure, I divided the mileage needed to get from manufacturers of components to the factory all the raw materials, averaging one thousand miles for the fragrance materials, and took into account the weight percentage of each of the materials in the final product. Don’t forget that materials are sent out in bulk and we manufacture one thousand bottles at a time. It helps that all the component suppliers are UK-based, apart from the bottle which comes from France.

There is more about each of the perfumes including how they were created in downloadable booklets on the official website. Theres also a clip here of Pybus on Radio 4s Excess Baggage programme talking about scents and how smells can remind travellers of more exotic times long after their holiday is over.

Museum Closure: Canterbury’s Roman Museum Could be the Latest Victim of the Credit Crunch

Cattedrale di CanterburyCanterbury City Council is the latest local authority set to close museums as part of cost-cutting measures. The council is wielding the budget axe and its decided that saving the citys Christmas lights is more important than keeping the Roman Museum open to the public.

Under the budget proposals, the Roman Museum and the nearby the Westgate Towers Museum would close, while Herne Bay Museum would remain open only for educational groups (though apparently not for the general public who wish to educate themselves).

Canterbury is not alone in sacrificing museums often seen as soft targets as part of cost-cutting drives. Leicester, Worthing and Kingston are three others to have looked to cut museum opening hours in an effort to save money. In the case of Kingston and Worthing, residents have resisted the changes.

A National Cost-Cutting Trend

In Kingston, the council reversed plans to slash the museums opening hours after a public outcry. In Worthing, plans to cut the Museum and Art Gallerys opening hours were met with strong public opposition after more than half of those responding to a public consultation said they would accept a 14.9% rise in council tax if it meant the preservation of cultural and education programmes, which include the museum.

Canterburys budget plans fly in the face its own consultation, which saw more than 44% of respondents describe the museum changes as most unacceptable. With the Tory-led council seemingly determined to go ahead, public opposition to the plans is mounting. An online petition has been accumulating signatures from the general public, as well as from academics and teachers, while a Facebook group carrying news and updates on the campaign now has more than 1,000 members. Information on who to write to at council is provided on the Save Canterburys Museums website.

‘Canterbury Should be Exploiting Its Heritage, Not Shutting It’

Canterbury Roman Museum

Dr Paul Bennett of the Canterbury Archaeological Trust is among those fighting the closures. We should be exploiting Canterburys heritage assets more fully at this difficult [economic] time, not considering closure of the best of them for potential re-use as a retail outlet, he says. Canterbury is not just a provincial town its name is known all over the world for its heritage and it is therefore irrational, even in difficult times, to chip away at what is the main basis upon which visitors come to the city in the numbers they do.”

Canterbury is a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site, and the Roman Museum and Westgate Towers both sit within the popular tourist precinct that includes the world-famous Cathedral, St Martins Church and St Augustines Abbey. Bennett argues that cultural and historical sites that could further exploit Canterbury’s tourist potential should be encouraged, not shut down altogether. It is the very combination of museums in different locations that with greater engagement ought to provide added value to the Canterbury experience, he says.

The Roman Museum underground at the level of the old Roman town offers a fascinating window on life in a Roman town house, complete with an in situ Roman mosaic that was discovered following wartime bombing. The interactive nature of the museum means visitors can see reconstructions that illustrate what the house was like in Roman times, and there are also touch screen computer games and a touch the past area where visitors can handle real Roman artefacts.

A final decision will be made at a full meeting of council on February 18.

Hello Toi Moko: Sweden Returns Tattooed Maori Heads to New Zealand

Preserved Mori heads donated to a museum by a collector with a keen interest in natural history. A hand and a few odd bones gifted to a Swedish museum by a sea faring captain.

According to details released this week to coincide with the repatriation of Mori ancestral remains to New Zealand, having a preserved head in the corner of your office at work was just the done thing during the 19th century.

The recent return by two Swedish museums of Maori remains is part of a large-scale repatriation programme under way at New Zealands national museum.

In all, some 33 Mori ancestral remains were repatriated to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa during November, with the remains recovered from five institutions in four European countries.

In addition to the Natural History Museum and the Museum of World Culture, both in Gothenburg, the National Museum Wales, Cardiff, Hunterian Museum at Glasgow University in Scotland and Trinity College Dublin are all participating in handovers.

It is the largest repatriation to take place at the New Zealand museum since 2007, when 45 skeletal remains were repatriated from British museums.

Included in the repatriation are kiwi tangata (skeletal remains) and four toi moko (tattooed preserved heads). The remains were received at Te Papa during a ceremony on November 30.

This is both a time for sad reflection on the turbulent journeys these ancestors experienced and, at the same time, a cause for joy and hope as they are returned, says Michelle Hippolite, Te Papas Acting Chief Executive. I thank the institutions involved for their positive decisions to repatriate and for their support in the repatriation planning.

A Preserved Head the Perfect Gift for the Museum in Your Life

The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa released detailed information about some of the returned remains.

The Hunterian Museum, for instance, agreed to repatriate four toi moko. Thomas Steel, a Glaswegian with a keen interest in natural history donated three of these to the museum in 1886. Steel was an ardent collector from an early age, apparently, and its likely he obtained the toi moko while working for the Colonial Sugar Refining Company in Australia, Auckland, New Zealand and Fiji (the sale of Mori heads to European traders in the 19th century was not uncommon). Its reported that during his time with the firm, his corner in the Laboratory of the Colonial Sugar Companys Buildings was full of all kinds of natural history specimens”.

Trinity College, meanwhile, agreed to repatriate four kiwi tangata, consisting of three skulls and a complete skeleton. The female skeleton is provenanced to a False Islet Catlin River and was excavated by a Dr Will c. 1889. There is little information about the other skulls, other than that one was donated by an R Crocker Smith and another was donated by a TW Warren, both dates unknown. The final skull has no donor or date information, though it may have a name: Eahinamane.

National Museum of Wales 20 kiwi tangata from at least 11 different individuals can be traced to Mercury Island, off the north-east coast of New Zealand’s North Island. Mercury Island (known by Ahuahu to the Mori) has a rich history of Mori settlement.

Fewer than Half Maori Remains So Far Returned

The Gothenburg Natural History Museum repatriated a cranium and a near-complete skeleton. These were sent to the museum in 1876 by Sir Julius von Haast, former Director of the Canterbury Museum as part of some sort of exchange. They are thought to have been originally excavated from a peatbog on the north-east coast of New Zealands South Island.

Meanwhile, the Museum of World Culture repatriated a hand, a radius bone and an ulna bone from the left arm of a female. Theyd been ‘gifted’ to the museum on September 18, 1843 by a generous sea captain by the name of R Gavin.

These are just some of the 322 skeletal remains from 12 countries that Karanga Aotearoa, the authority overseeing New Zealands repatriation negotiations, and the national museum have brought home. It is estimated that a further 500 are still awaiting return.

Karanga Aotearoa says some negotiations take less than 12 months, though most take longer.

When remains are finally returned, they are retained at Te Papa on an interim basis until provenance can be proven and the remains returned to their places of origin. Identification can be a difficult and lengthy process. Mori believe that through this return to their domestic homelands, the dead and their living descendants retrieve their dignity. To date, 81 ancestral remains have been returned to their homelands.

Romans Join Fight Against Wind Turbine Plans

Locals in the north of England will use their areas rich Roman heritage to fight a major electricity suppliers plans to build wind turbines near their village.

RWE npower Renewables one of the UK’s leading renewable energy providers wants to build up to six turbines as part of its Stobhill Wind Farm development. The farm would generate enough electricity to power between 4,800 and 7,300 UK households every year.

The company has already conducted preliminary investigations into the site and submitted a scoping report to Durham County Council. A full planning application is expected before the end of 2009.

But residents oppose the plans, saying the turbines would be built within 400 metres of houses in the one-pub village of Bolam, threatening the areas serenity.

Area Needs More Fieldwork, Says Archaeologist

A campaign group, Bolam and Area Action Group (BAAG), which is fighting the proposal, says it hopes the council will grant conservation status to the village, thus protecting it from the development.

Archaeologist Niall Hammond, from the County Durham-based firm Archaeo-Environment, told the Teesdale Mercury that the land earmarked for development is a important historical site because Dere Street a major Roman road from York to Hadrians Wall is located just to the east of the village.

He said more fieldwork was needed to confirm Bolans prehistoric and Roman significance. [The current] absence of evidence is most likely due to medieval and later plough activity, and lack of fieldwork in the area as soils, topography and proximity to Dere Street make both late prehistoric and Roman activity in the area highly likely, he said.

The wider area of the middle Tees valley surrounding Bolam contains significant evidence for both prehistoric and Roman activity. Two cropmark sites are known from aerial photographs to the north-east of the village and which currently have no identification, and these may represent evidence of now-buried occupation sites of later prehistory or Roman periods. A Roman marching camp is known as a cropmark from Sandforth Moor, less than a kilometre to the south.

Photography Tips From Derry Brabbs: Shooting Hadrian’s Wall

Derry BrabbsDerry Brabbs is one of Englands finest heritage and landscape photographers. He has published more than 25 books, including collaborations with reknowned rambler Alfred Wainwright. His book England’s Heritage, a project in conjunction with English Heritage, featured more than 600 photographs of sites that have shaped England’s past.

He is both author and photographer of his latest book, Hadrian’s Wall. The book traces the Wall from west to east, from the Solway Firth to Wallsend on Tyneside, taking in places of historical significance along the way.

Brabbs has been photographing Hadrians Wall since his first assignment along the Roman frontier with Wainwright in 1984. For his Hadrian’s Wall project, he made countless trips over many months, battling the fickle microclimates of Cumbria and Northumberland to capture the essence of arguably Britain’s most important Roman remains.

Here, he tells HK about his experiences shooting the Wall and he also offers some advice for amateur photographers wanting to shoot the Wall either during daytime or, with the Wall set to be illuminated for one night only, after dark.

HK: You’ve been photographing Hadrian’s Wall since 1984, when you worked on a book with Wainwright. Can you tell us a bit about what you remember most about that first time shooting the wall?

DB: I remember a sense of awe that such a huge monument existed amidst wild countryside and on a bleak Pennine day, an overwhelming feeling of sympathy towards those tasked with both its building and subsequent. It was a spine-tingling and somewhat humbling experience to stand alone on one of the Walls highest vantage points, touching blocks of stone that were originally slotted into place by 2nd century soldiers from the Roman Legions based in York, Chester or Caerleon. Because we now take so much for granted and rely on technology for even the most basic tasks, it is easy to forget just how much of our built heritage was accomplished solely through manual labour.

HK: Were you interested in Roman history before you started photographing the wall?

DB: Not at the time of Wainwright, but I did encounter the Romans well before I did my own book on the Wall during the writing and photography of a major book I did in 2001 entitled Englands Heritage. My involvement with Hadrians Wall has served as a tangible reminder of just how incredibly meglomaniacal the Roman Empire was, but that they also had the manpower and military might to enforce their attempts at Known World domination.

HK: Can you tell us how your Hadrian’s Wall project came together?

DB: I initially chose Hadrians Wall as a potentially ideal subject for the publishers ‘A Year in the Life of’ series but we decided that because of the linear nature of the Wall, darting backwards and forwards during the different seasons would simply lead to confusion not least to the writer!

It took about nine months or maybe a bit longer to compile the images and write the text. One of my favourite moments was a foggy and frosty autumn sunrise at Black Carts when all the ingredients simply fell into place in way that does not happen very often.

Landscape photographers always have to be advocates of the glass half full philosophy, rather than the less optimistic version but the English climate does usually provide the half empty version! Another highlight was discovering the fragmentary ruins of Great Chesters fort, especially the originally altar stone left in situ by the south gate. Not a clue how many actual pictures I shot, but probably about 80 rolls of 35mm film in total; there are approximately 135 images in the book. Because I produce transparencies rather digital images, I have to overshoot for safety by doing camera dupes and bracketing exposures no Photoshop tweaking for me.

HK: You also authored this book as well. To what extent do you enjoy writing and shooting your own projects compared to collaborating with writers?

DB: I am still trying to decide whether an empty brain coupled to a blank computer screen is worse than a three-day location shoot plagued by constant low cloud or drizzle and the flat, grey light that only the Pennines can produce. However, the clouds in the sky often clear faster than the ones still lingering in the authors head and it is refreshing to simply be able to practice ones main calling as a photographer when illustrating another writers words.

HK: Are there any sections of the wall you most enjoy photographing?

DB: It has to be the central section between Cawfields and Housesteads because that is where the Wall soars up and over the undulating ridges of the Whin Sill as the Wall and its surrounding landscape are never the same two days running.

HK: When do you prefer shooting it?

DB: Autumn and winter are best because the low angle of the sun throughout the day creates stronger textures and softer colours on the stonework. And early morning is best; the colours seem richer, have a greater intensity and the atmosphere is often clearest then too. Sunsets can be good but because of the way the Wall is configured, all the best photographic angles of the Wall depend on morning or early afternoon light.

HK: What’s in your camera bag every time you photograph the Wall?

DB: Olympus OM4ti camera body, 24mm wide angle lens, 35mm Perspective Control (shift) lens and 65-200mm zoom. Polarising filters and graduated neutral density filters. Heavy duty Manfrotto tripod and a cable release. Copious quantities of Fuji Velvia 50 film.

HK: What sort of setup do you recommend amateur photographers use?

DB: Nothing special really but a wide angle lens will give dramatic images from close range and a telephoto is useful for pulling distant views and compositions in closer to the viewer. Do not believe all the hype written about the latest gear and how much one has to pay to achieve good results a camera is only as good as the eyes and creative instincts of the person holding it.

HK: The wall will be illuminated in March for one night what advice can you offer amateur photographers who are wanting to photograph it after dark?

DB: Research and recce. I cannot overstate the importance of knowing what you want to do and how it can be achieved. If there is chance to visit the Wall in advance of the day, take that opportunity to work out which vantage point you need for the shot. If you cant, look at lots of pictures and imagine each scene at dusk with the lights on and see if that might work for you. Do some practical tests around your own place at dusk, twilight and in the dark so that when the time comes, you know what settings to use on the camera. Beware of simply exposing for a bright light source and reducing the rest of the image to under exposed darkness. Assuming the lights will be lit before darkness descends, there is always a precious twilight moment when there is just enough light left to show some detail in the landscape, but the atmosphere of night created by lights will predominate. Check beforehand that your chosen vantage point is safely accessible on the night and that parking is available within easy walking distance. And take a powerful torch!

In general (and this goes for shooting during the day a well), I would say be prepared to walk not all the best views happen next to the car parks, and the main road running parallel with the Wall is a no-go parking zone with few pull-in places. Set the alarm clock and get out early, losing a few hours sleep is nothing compared to the rewards of a great picture.

HK: Your next book is on the river Thames will it carry any echoes of London’s Roman past?

DB: Thank you for asking! It is a beautifully photographed narrative covering the river from its source to the sea and although the Roman presence will come into it, I dont envisage delving too far into Londons Roman past in great detail, although it is inevitably an integral part of its history and has to be incorporated when and where appropriate.

All photos reproduced from Hadrian’s Wall by Derry Brabbs, published at 14.99 by Frances Lincoln.

Optical Illusions: is That an Exhibition of Trompe l’œil Coming to Florence and Paris?

Fancy pitting your powers of perception against some of historys masters of deception? Then heres your chance. Art and Illusions: Masterpieces of Trompe l’il from Antiquity to the Present Day, the first major exhibition on visual illusion to be held in Italy, is on at Florences Palazzo Strozzi until January 26.

Visual illusion has been used in art for thousands of years to trick and deceive us. This exhibition is designed to chart this fascinating story of trompe lil, or optical deception; the story of the tug-of-war between reality and its simulation. The show places optical illusion not only in the context of painting but also draws in the many other forms of art that have fooled and deceived us through the years, including furniture design, fashion design, and cuisine.

The genre is all about exploring new ways of experimenting with reality imaginary windows that open out onto cityscapes; table tops that tempt us to pick up objects that arent really there artistic flair that draws us in and catches us out. Other exhibits include faux armoirs, half-open, with books inside; wood intarsia of small Renaissance studios; soup tureens and table furnishings in the shape of vegetables; anatomical and botanical wax models.

Exhibition ‘Breaks Out of the Formal Confines of Art’

Organisers have chosen Escaping Criticism, Pere Borrell del Casos 1874 canvas of a boy breaking out of the confines of a picture frame, to represent the exhibition. Trompe lil, they say, breaks out of the formal confines of art in the same way as the boy is breaking free of the frame.

More than 150 works of art are on display, from Greco-Roman mosaics and frescoes to European masterpieces of the 1300s and more modern examples of illusionary design. The exhibition dedicates a significant amount of space to wall decorations and interiors, where detached frescoes from Ancient Rome take centre stage.

It was after all in Classical Antiquity that deception became an art form. As far back at the 1st century BC, artists were pushing verisimilitude how a falsehood could be closer to the truth than it is to other falsehoods to the point of illusion. After a break during the Middle Ages, it was reborn in early Renaissance Italy and in Flanders in the 15th century, and became a form of experimental art into the 20th and 21st centuries.

The exhibition is divided into 10 sections comprising works of different periods which either share a common theme or are akin to one another in type. It opens with a section entitled ‘In the Footsteps of Zeuxis and Parrhasius’. It’s inspired by a story told by Pliny the Elder in the 1st century CE. It’s about a competition between Zeuxis, a Greek painter born around 464 BC, and Parrhasius, his contemporary. It is said that the pair held a contest to decide which of them was the better painter. So life-like was Zeuxis painting of grapes that birds flew in to nibble on them. When Zeuxis asked Parrhasius to pull back his curtain and revel his work of art, Parrhasius was able to inform his friend that there was no curtain the painting was of a curtain. Zeuxis is quoted as saying: I have deceived the birds, but Parrhasius has deceived Zeuxis.

So life-like was Zeuxis depiction of grapes that birds flew in to nibble on them.

But its not only the Greeks who are left perplexed in this exhibition. While viewing masterpieces by Titian, Velzquez, Mantegna, Tiepolo, Tintoretto, Turrell and Pistoletto, visitors find themselves deceived by picture-frame doors and false floors designed to foster a sense of disorientation, turning the visit into an interactive experience. These are the work of Florentine architect Luigi Cupellini, who designed the exhibition layout to ensure the trompe lil theme was consistent throughout. His design has resulted in visitors getting to taste, touch, hear, smell and fully engage with the exhibition, challenging their perceptions of reality to the max. The aim is to allow visitors to probe the many ways in which the human brain can be deceived, and the pleasure a person feels when they find themselves involved in clever deception.

Art and Illusions closes in Florence on January 26; it will open at the Muse du Luxembourg in Paris from February 17, and run until August 1.

Pompeii Exhibition Hits New Zealand

Fresco, winged female. Painted plaster. Pompeii. Source – Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli e PompeiThe National Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa has four months of Roman festivities planned to tie in with its blockbuster Pompeii exhibition in Wellington.

A Day in Pompeii opens in the museums showcase Visa Platinum Gallery on December 19 and runs until April 25.

Te Papas acting chief executive, Michelle Hippolite, said New Zealanders were in for a truly unique experience.

Exhibition highlights from Pompeii include a bronze gladiators helmet and armour, exquisite gold jewellery, and a six-metre wide garden fresco that once graced the outdoor dining area of an opulent villa. There’s also a 3D theatre that allows visitors to visualise the eruption of Mt Vesuvius.

Visitors to the exhibition can also enter a draw for a trip of a lifetime for two to Pompeii.

The exhibition arrives in New Zealand after a successful four-month run at Melbourne Museum. The Australian museum extended its opening hours until 10pm on Thursday and Friday nights and until midnight on Saturdays to meet demand. Some 325,000 people saw the Melbourne show believed to have been Australias most popular museum exhibition. In cultural terms, only the recent Dali exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, which attracted 330,000 visitors, has been more popular. It comes at a time when Australasian museums are declining the chance to show the touring Tutankhamun exhibition, King Tut and the Golden Age of the Pharoahs, because its $10m pricetag is too high.

Medallion with couple. Painted plaster. Pompeii, House of the Gold BraceletVictorian arts minister Lynne Kosky said the Pompeii exhibition had “surpassed expectations“, though she would not disclose how much the exhibition had cost to put on. The shows Wellington run its only New Zealand season is expected to prove just as popular among Kiwis.

Visitors can walk through the streets of Pompeii and discover some of the treasures that were entombed beneath the ash of Vesuvius for almost 1,700 years. Marble statues and fine mosaics are featured, along with everyday items such as cooking pots, wine jars, and even carbonised food.

Vesuvius erupted on August 24, 79AD, burying the wealthy city of Pompeii under tonnes of volcanic ash. Once home to around 12,000 inhabitants, it remained in near-perfect preservation until archaeologists rediscovered it in 1748.

An Impressive Events Programme

A comprehensive events programme has been planned to tie in with the exhibition. There will be lectures by archaeologists, volcanologists and leading Classics scholars, as well as live music and poetry performances, childrens activities, and cooking demonstrations drawing on ancient and modern Italian cuisine.

Saturday, December 19 (Pompeii Family Fun Day)
* Pompeii crafts: learn about mosaics and make a glittering gladiators helmet
Where are our volcanoes?: Join geologist Dr Hamish Campbell for a map-based tour of New Zealands volcanoes.
* Tarawera: a New Zealand Vesuvius?: Mt Tarawera exploded into action during the early hours of June 10, 1886. Dr Hamish Campbell explores what happened and why, and compares the Tarawera eruption with the Somma-Vesuvius eruption.

Sunday, December 20
* NatureSpace Discovery Centre: Study volcanic rocks, dig for treasures, or create your own volcano.
* The archaeology of Pompeii: Go behind the scenes of one of the worlds greatest archaeological landscapes with archaeologist and Museum Victorian CEO Dr Patrick Greene.

Sunday, January 10
* Pompeii craft with Fifi Colston: create your own ancient decoration a snaky Roman wristband.

Thursday, February 4
* Vesuvius: Mt Vesuvius is similar to New Zealand volcanoes Ruapehu, Tongariro, and White Island. Join Dr Hamish Campbell to explore its history, geology, scientific significance, and its inevitable future.
* Lorenzo Buhne and La Cura perform a beautiful acoustic set of traditional southern Italian village melodies and harmonies with tambourines and melodica.

Thursday, February 11
* Discovery and excavation: Dr Matthew Trundle, Senior Lecturer in Classics, Greek, and Latin at Victoria University of Wellington, examines the gradual rediscovery of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Learn how archaeologists today interpret the evidence they find.
* Canto bello del liuto (Beautiful song of the lute): The Chanterelle Early Music Trio play lute songs and duets from the golden age of the Italian Renaissance.

Saturday, February 13
* Italy in music: A special concert by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, featuring work by Italian composers Rossini, Respighi, Verdi, and others. NZSO concertmaster Vesa-Matti Leppnen will perform Summer from Vivaldis Four Seasons.

Sunday, February 14
* An afternoon of food shopping and cooking in Pompeii.
* The Mediterranean Trio: Salvi Gaeta, Armando Gilmoni, and Robin Page play traditional music and songs from all areas of Italy.

Thursday, February 18
* A day in the life: This talk Dr Arthur Pomeroy, Professor in Classics at Victoria University of Wellington, brings alive the busy Roman city of Pompeii, and describes a typical day in the life of its inhabitants as they go about their business.
* Carmina latina, nobilia et turpia (Latin poetry, high and low): This recitation of Latin poetry (with English translations) features verse ranging from the pathos of Virgil to the earthiness of Juvenal.

Saturday, February 20
* Vespas, Italian motorbikes and Fiats: A display of Vespa scooters, Italian motorbikes, and Fiat cars arranged for close inspection on the Te Papa Plaza.

Thursday, February 25
* New Zealand volcanoes: New Zealand volcanologists share the latest research results for two different active volcanic regions in New Zealand: the highly explosive Taupo Supervolcano and the gentler Auckland Volcanic Field.
* Bravo String Quartet: Bravo String Quartet play a selection of Baroque, classic, romantic, and contemporary Italian songs.

Sunday, March 7
* The Roman garden: Gardening enthusiast Annie Brown presents a comprehensive pictorial journey through the ancient gardens of Pompeii, and explains the important role of the garden in Roman life.

Thursday, March 11
* Pompeian economy: Pompeii reveals a wide variety of economic activities market gardens, shops, bars, taverns, baths, theatres, brothels, and gladiatorial shows. Learn about the level of monetisation and trade in a small coastal city at the height of the Roman Empire.
* Canto bello del liuto (Beautiful song of the lute): The Chanterelle Early Music Trio play lute songs and duets from the golden age of the Italian Renaissance.

Sunday, March 14
* Letters from Italy: Julie Biuso first toured Italy in 1975 and fell in love with the place, people, and culinary delights. Letters she wrote home while she travelled paint vivid pictures of her experiences. Join Julie for brunch and listen to her read from these letters.
* Enjoy an exclusive viewing of A Day in Pompeii. Cost: $75 public, $70 Friends
Ticket information here.

Thursday, March 18
* Diving the Ring of Fire: Considerably more volcanic activity occurs on the seafloor than on land, with some of the worlds largest and most active submarine volcanoes located on the Ring of Fire. Surveys over the past 10 years have revealed a world of eruption, rich mineral deposits, and exotic animals. This talk is with scientist Dr Cornel de Ronde, who has surveyed and explored volcanoes along the Kermadec arc, the Mariana arc, and the Aeolian arc near Italy.

Sunday, March 21
* From the streets of Pompeii to the salons of Paris: the Classical influence on Western fashion. A fascinating, illustrated talk by Leimomi Gorsich Oakes exploring how discoveries at the excavations of Herculaneum and Pompeii have influenced fashion from the 1700s to the present day.

Thursday, March 25
* Baths and businesses: Pompeii was bustling with a range of businesses. Shopkeepers sold food and drink; there were bakers, fullers, dyers, metal workers, and lamp makers; and the city had brothels and baths. This lecture by Dr Judy Deuling, Senior Lecturer in Classics at Victoria University of Wellington, considers the range of activities and their locations within the town.
* Carmina latina, nobilia et turpia (Latin poetry, high and low): This recitation of Latin poetry (with English translations) features verse ranging from the pathos of Virgil to the earthiness of Juvenal.

Sunday, March 28
* Torna a surriento Italian songs and arias: Singers from the New Zealand School of Music perform songs and arias from Naples, as well as arias from the great Italian opera tradition.

Thursday, April 8
* Pompeii house and garden: Pompeii offers a glimpse into the amazing interiors of Roman houses, where walls were not simply painted with flat colour, but were opened-up vistas of realistic and fanciful architecture, and panels with mythological scenes and landscapes. This lecture considers several Pompeian paintings in their indoor and outdoor contexts. With Dr Judy Deuling, senior lecturer in Classics at Victoria University of Wellington.
* Lorenzo Buhne and La Cura perform a beautiful acoustic set of traditional southern Italian village melodies and harmonies with tambourines and melodica.

Sunday, April 11
* La musica antica ye olde songs: Baroque Voices take listeners on a journey of ancient discovery with rare and beautiful Italian music from the dawning of the Baroque era.

Thursday, April 15
* The Grand Tour: Te Papa Curator of European Art Victoria Robson gives a floortalk on the British watercolours and prints painted by eighteenth and nineteenth century artists taking The Grand Tour of Italy. Numbers are limited book by calling (04) 381 7000
* In the shadow of Vesuvius: Italian-trained art conservator Carolina Izzo details the conservation of items found in the cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii, and talks about some of the cities amazing decorative art, jewellery, furniture and sculpture which have informed and inspired Western culture.
* La Dolce Vita: An energetic instrumental trio known for its humour plays spirited interpretations of European caf-style music.

Thursday, April 22
* Pompeii and the social life of the Empire: This talk gives a tour of Pompeiis baths, and then ventures to the amphitheatre to watch the gladiators. Following that, its off to the entertainment district for a risqu night out. With Dr Arthur Pomeroy, Professor in Classics at Victoria University of Wellington.
* La Dolce Vita: An energetic instrumental trio known for its humour plays spirited interpretations of European caf-style music.

Activities for the Kids

* Volcanoes!: Study real volcanic rocks with a geologist and go on a field trip around Te Papa. Youll stop at all the volcanic hotspots: Awesome Forces, OurSpace, Bush City, and NatureSpace.
* Craft activities (construct an erupting volcano; re-create the Battle of the Mountains; befriend a pet igneous rock)
* Pompeii at play: Learn about life in Pompeii with exciting activities presented by Classics students from Victoria University of Wellington. Includes mosaic design, Roman coin-rubbings, story-telling, and fresco painting.
* Beginners lessons in Italian.

Workshops for Everyone

Jewellery, mosaics, and sculpture were some of the treasures unearthed at Pompeii. Learn about these art forms and make examples of your own in special, single-session workshops run by Inverlochy Art School. The workshops which cover jewellery making; mosaic making and sculpture are suitable for adults and include a ticket to A Day in Pompeii. Visit their site for full details.

Swedish Museums Repatriate Maori Remains

Two Swedish museums have this month returned the remains of Maori people, believed to have been removed from New Zealand in the 19th century. The remains from five different people included a skull, a skeleton, two arm fragments and a mummified hand.

A traditional Maori ceremony was held at the Museum of World Culture in Gothenburg to hand over the remains. Representatives from the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, the countrys national museum, and New Zealand’s Ambassador to Sweden Barbara Bridge attended.

The ceremony was all about talking to the spirits and acknowledging that even though the bodies are departed, the spirits have followed us and are in our memory”, Teherekiekie Herewin, the manager of repatriation at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, told The Local.

The remains had been held in the Museum of World Culture and the Gothenburg Natural History Museum. The Museum of World Cultures archives indicate its remains were given to the ethnographical department by Gothenburg Museum’s zoological department in 1884. They had originally been donated by a sea captain called AR Gavin in 1843.

The remains that had been held in the Gothenburg Natural History Museum originally arrived at Gothenburg Museums zoological department in 1876 as part of an exchange with New Zealands Christchurch Museum. They were probably exhibited in the East Indian Company building, which at the time was the city’s museum.

The director of the National Museums of World Culture, Director General Gran Blomberg, said his organisations position on the repatriation of human remains was clear. “The human remains in Western museums are mostly the result of colonial relationships and a racist view of the world,” he said. “We now aim to work actively for the repatriation of human remains younger than around 200 years to their country of origin.”

Ann Strmberg, Director of Gothenburgs Natural History Museum, said her museum dealt with requests for the repatriation of human remains promptly, and with sensitivity and respect.

Since 2004, Swedish museums have returned the remains of dozens of Aboriginal Australians and a totem pole belonging to a Canadian aboriginal tribe. It also recently returned 22 skulls to Hawaii. Meanwhile, issues of repatriation continue to be fiercely debated around the world, with calls for the Bust of Nefertiti, the Rosetta Stone, the Lewis Chessmen and the Elgin Marbles all to be sent to their country of origin.

Horrible Histories Coming Soon on Nintendo DS, PC and Wii

Think youd make a ruthless Roman? Find out when Terry Dearys Horrible Histories books make it on to the games market in North America on January 26, 2010. Graffiti Entertainment has secured the rights to publish Wii, Nintendo DS and PC versions of Horrible Histories: Ruthless Romans in North America. It has been developed by Slitherine, which released the game in the UK and Europe in August. Slitherine is also the company behind the Field of Glory and Legion Gold games.

Ruthless Romans features a series of mini-games about a young boy, Rassimus, who is captured and forced into slavery in Rome. To win his freedom, Rassimus trains as a gladiator, with players controlling his movements around Rome and learning of the gory history of ancient Rome along the way.

Dearys original emphasis on education has been retained: the game features quizzes on ancient Rome, and 30-odd mini-games involving colours and spot-the-difference tests.

The Horrible Histories books which cover everything from Awful Egyptians to Groovy Greeks and the Savage Stone Age have already been adapted into a CBBC TV series and a stage show. A Horrible Historie Terrible Trenches Exhibition at the Imperial War Museum is also currently running until October 21, 2010.