Vespasian Rocks. For 2000 Years.

I’ve always been fond of the Emperor Vespasian (honestly, who isn’t?) So I’m glad to see Rome is throwing a party for his birthday. From the Independent:

His name is immortalised in modern Italian as the word for a public urinal, but tomorrow that humiliation will be forgotten as Rome sets about throwing a massive party for the Emperor Vespasian’s 2,000th birthday. Naturally enough, the celebratory bash – which takes the form of a 10-month exhibition – is focused on the building for which he is most famous, the Colosseum.Vespasian

By far the largest amphitheatre the ancient Romans built, it is capable of holding at least 50,000 and perhaps as many as 70,000 screaming plebs. When it was inaugurated, in the reign of Vespasian’s son and heir Titus, 5,000 wild animals were put to the sword over 100 days for the amusement of the punters, and despite the halt called by Constantine, the emperor who converted to Christianity, bloody gladiatorial combat remained standard fare until it was banned early in the fifth century.

As the crowning monument of a civilisation, the Colosseum has always had its detractors. Some scholars of the ancient world regard it as hideous, without architectural merit. On its own terms, however, the mega-structure known originally as the Flavian Amphitheatre, after Vespasian’s family name, Flavius, was a great advance on what it replaced. It was located close to the heart of the grounds of Domus Aurea, the “House of Gold” built for the Emperor Nero, the great monument to his vanity and greed. Vespasian expropriated those grounds and, in place of Nero’s self-indulgence, provided the greatest forum ever built for the self-indulgence of the multitude: aesthetically crude perhaps, lacking in delicacy and taste, but stunningly bold. And an appropriate monument to an extraordinary man.

Look at the surviving marble busts of Vespasian and the centuries fall away. You can see his descendants in any Roman street. He was burly and thick-set with a bald, bull-like head, steely eyes and a tense, frowning mouth, teeth clenched in determination. One of his contemporaries remarked that he looked as if he was sitting on the lavatory, and having a hard time of it. Above all it is a common face. There was nothing aristocratic about this emperor. He was Roman social mobility incarnate.

His full name was Titus Flavius Sabinus Vespasianus and after his death, like all deceased emperors, he was worshipped as a god. He started out his life in an altogether different key, born the grandson of a centurion and the son of a tax collector in the rustic district of Sabina, north of Rome. He had only a mediocre education; in later life they made fun of him for his poor grasp of Latin. But you can read Vespasian’s ticket to glory in his simple, powerful face: he became a first-rate soldier, and beloved of the men he commanded.

He was in his early thirties when he made his mark, participating in the second invasion of Britain, seizing the Isle of Wight for Rome, and developing tactics for overcoming the Britons’ formidable defensive earthworks. Back in the Eternal City in furlough, he was ill at ease among the corrupt ruling class. AD66 he went to Greece as a member of Nero’s entourage but made the serious error of falling asleep during one of the megalomaniac emperor’s singing recitals. He saved his skin by fleeing to a remote province.

The following year the faux pas was forgiven when Nero realised that he had need of this man. Rebellion had broken out among the Jews in Judaea and the Roman forces were having a frustrating time trying to oust them from their walled cities. Vespasian’s success in winkling out the walled-up Britons was remembered and he was sent to Judaea with orders to suppress the rebellion and bring the Jews to heel. He did exactly that, and although many Jewish towns were destroyed and thousands of people killed, he was remembered as a fair and honest administrator. The defeat of the Jewish rebellion was the making of Vespasian. He was the hero of his army, and the loot he amassed would later go into the building of the Colosseum.

Rome descended into chaos and civil war after Nero’s suicide, getting through four emperors in a single year. All this time, Vespasian was plotting his path to power. With his devoted army at his back, and with two grown sons offering the promise of dynastic continuity, he was acclaimed emperor twice, first by his army in July AD69, then nearly six months later by the Senate. Vespasian would always be respectful and attentive to the Senate but he never had any doubt about the source of his power, and dated his accession from the first acclamation, not the second.

In the judgement of one contemporary historian, Vespasian was the first emperor whose character actually improved after he attained the throne. He took drastic measures to restore sanity to the Roman Empire’s finances, which had been emptied by Nero’s extravagance.

He raised taxes steeply, making himself instantly unpopular, and famously introduced a tax on public urinals, which is why in Italy they are associated with him to this day. When his son Titus remonstrated with him over this measure, the emperor held out a handful of coins for him to sniff. These come from the urinal tax, he said, “Pecunia non olet” (money has no smell). It was his most famous aphorism.

Vespasian retained his simple martial tastes despite all the temptations of his position; when a youth to whom he had given an important promotion came to him reeking of perfume, he sent him away in disgust, saying “I’d rather you stank of garlic”, and cancelled the new position.

Yet in his achievements he succeeded in transcending his humble origins and the brutalising years of military service: he created schools for grammar and oratory – thus laying the foundations for classical education all over Europe. He recruited a new class of administrators from the business class to run the empire on more professional lines.

And he set in train the greatest building boom of the century. When he came to power, Rome was full of ruins and abandoned sites, the result of the civil war that had preceded his coronation. To bring the city back to its former glory, Vespasian gave anyone with the desire and the necessary funds the right to build on those sites. The result was many of the breathtaking buildings in and around the Roman Forum that tourists still admire to this day. They include the Temple of Peace, the Domus Flavia and the Temple of Divo Vespasiano, his own cult.

To mark Vespasian’s big day, Rome is breathing new life into the ancient city he did so much to change. Busts, bas-reliefs, weapons, coins and paintings are among the 110 archaeological treasures that will be exhibited from today until next January in the Colosseum, the Curia in the centre of the Forum and the Criptoportico, a building on the Palatine Hill that has never before been open to the public. There will also be a new guided route through the Forum, with explanatory panels shedding light on the buildings for which the emperor was responsible.

Filippo Coarelli, the curator of the extravaganza, commented: “The element of chance in Vespasian’s success cannot hide the profound manner in which that success resonates with the whole history of Rome: the mobility which was intrinsic to that society, which allowed it to access the energy of emerging classes.”

Despite these achievements, and despite the Colosseum, which was still under construction when Vespasian died in 79, it was his determination to tax Romans to the hilt for which they most remembered him, the image of the stingy, money-grubbing son of a tax-collector that stuck.

During his elaborate funeral, the procession was led by a popular clown called Favor who mimicked the dead emperor. “How much did this funeral cost?” he demanded of the organisers at one point, according to Suetonius. “A hundred thousand sestertii,” came the reply. To which the Emperor’s caricature retorted: “Give me a hundred and chuck my body in the Tiber!”

10th VAST International Symposium on Virtual Reality, Archeology and Cultural Heritage

First call for papers:

10th VAST International Symposium on Virtual Reality, Archeology and Cultural Heritage
7th Eurographics Workshop on Graphics and Cultural Heritage

(VAST’09)

September 22-25, 2009, Valletta, Malta

http://www.vast2009.org
======================================================================================

——————–
Call for Papers
——————–

-Towards a “digital agenda” for the integration of technologies into Archeology and Cultural Heritage-

Nearly every organization whose mission includes promoting access to cultural information, is well aware of the value of digital applications, and digital technologies are finding their way into cultural organizations. Nevertheless, a clear-cut division still exists between humanities researchers, computer science researchers, information scientists, librarians, and campus technologists, which prevents a complete achievement of the  potential represented by the integration of these disciplines. Each community has distinctive practices, lingo, assumptions, and concerns. Understanding technology needs of the humanities, and more specifically of Archaeology, Libraries and Cultural Heritage, has particular relevance to the future of knowledge and education delivery, as well as, to develop shared technology services to enhance humanities research now and in the future.

The main goal of this VAST is to bring together professionals from all fields to start a true dialogue on CH needs and ICT solutions and achieve a true integration of disciplines. This VAST aims at disseminating the idea of a more systematic integration of digital practices in research and education programs for CH, exploring good practices, guidelines and skills development possibilities to structure long-term initiatives and move towards a “digital agenda” for Archaeology, Libraries and CH.

This is why we are seeking contributions that advance the state of the art in the technologies available to support sustainability of human heritage.

- 2/3/4D Data Capture and Processing in CH
- Augmentation of physical collections with digital presentations
- Data Acquisition Technologies
- Digital Libraries
- Digital capture and annotation of intangible heritage (performance, audio, dance, oral)
- Interactive Environments and Applications for CH
- Long term preservation of digital artefacts
- Metadata, classification schema, ontologies and semantic processing
- Multilingual applications, tools and systems for CH
- Multimedia Data Acquisition, Management and Archiving
- Multi-modal interfaces and rendering for CH
- On-site and remotely sensed data collection
- Professional and Ethical Guidelines
- Serious games in CH
- Standards and Documentation
- Storytelling and Design of Heritage Communications
- Tools for Education and Training in CH
- Usability, Effectiveness and Interface Design for CH Applications
- Visualization

- KEYNOTE SPEAKERS -
Archeology: Dr Zahi Hawass – General Secretary of the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt
Museums: Mme. Christiane Naffah – Director of the Research and Restoration Center for France Museums

- BEST PAPERS AWARD -
The best papers presented at VAST 2009 will be selected for re-submission on a special edition of the upcoming ACM Journal on Computing and Cultural Heritage (JOCCH), an online, peer reviewed publication.

- (NEW!) VAST-STARs -
VAST 2009 introduces the “VAST-STate-of-the-Art Reports (VAST-STARs)”, inspired by the EG STARs. These are papers providing useful novel overviews of research in the fields of computer graphics, computer science  and related fields that can benefit the multidisciplinary nature of VAST. They are survey papers in what the community considers important areas that have not been covered before or recently. Their aim is to give a detailed account of the principles, algorithms and open problems of a research area, so that an interested reader can quickly become up to speed in this field.  We warmly encourage all colleagues to submit to the VAST-STARs reports. The VAST-STARs will be published with the full papers and are also eligible for the best paper award. Two VAST-STARs will be selected by peer review and will be published in the EG proceedings together with the full papers.  VAST-STARs authors will present their work with a 60 minute presentation during VAST 2009.

- PAPER SUBMISSIONS -
We are soliciting five types of contributions:

=Full research papers presenting new innovative results. These papers will be published by Eurographics in a high-quality proceedings volume.

=VAST-STARs providing a useful novel overview of research in the fields of computer graphics, computer science  and related fields that can benefit the multidisciplinary nature of VAST.

=Project papers focusing on on-going projects, the description of project organization, use of technology, and lesson learned not innovative technical content. These papers will have an oral presentation and will be included in a “Projects & Short Papers” proceedings volume. Authors will have the option to present a poster during the breaks to provide more information regarding the project.

=Short papers presenting preliminary ideas and works-in-progress. These papers will have an oral presentation and will be published in the “Projects & Short Papers” proceedings volume.

=Tutorials and Workshops: half-day and full-day working sessions that provide an opportunity to educate and share on key topics of interest face-to-face. Tutorial submissions will be published in the “Projects & Short Papers” proceedings volume. Workshops that provide supplemental materials in time for the CD-ROM printing will also be included. All material will be made available on the VAST 2009 website.

All types of submissions will be reviewed and feedback given to the authors. See detailed information on the VAST 2009 website under Submissions.

- COMMITTEES -
Event Committee: Kurt Debattista – University of Warwick, Sandro Spina – University of Malta
Program Committee: Cinzia Perlingieri – University of California at Berkeley, Denis Pitzalis – The Cyprus Institute, STARC
Local Organisational Committee: Sandro Spina – University of Malta, Chris Porter – University of Malta, Keith Bugeja – University of Warwick.
VAST-STARs Committee: Fotis Liarokapis (Coventry University – UK), Michael Ashley – University of California at Berkeley

- ISC -
Achille Felicetti (PIN – University of Florence)
Aderito Marcos (Universidade do Minho – Portugal)
Alan Chalmers (University of Warwick – UK)
Alan Smeaton (Dublin City University – Ireland)
Alberto Proenca (Universidade do Minho – Portugal)
Daniel Pletinckx (Visual Dimension – Belgium)
Daniel Thalmann (Virtual Reality Lab – Switzerland)
David Arnold (University of Brighton – UK)
Erik Champion (Massey University – New Zealand)
Eva Zányi (University of Warwick – UK)
Fotis Liarokapis (Coventry University – UK)
Graeme Earle (University of Southampton)
Holly Rushmeier (Yale University – USA)
Kriste Sibul (ICOM-CC – Estonia)
Jean Angelo Beraldin (National Research Council – Canada)
Juan Barcelo (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona – Spain)
Michael Ashley (University of California at Berkeley)
Milena Dobreva  (Institute of Mathematics and Informatics – Bulgaria)
Karina Rodriguez-Echavarria (University of Brighton – UK)
Luis Paulo Santos (Universidade do Minho – Portugal)
Mercedes Farjas (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid – Spain)
Nadia Thalmann (MIRALAB – Switzerland)
Paolo Cignoni (ISTI – CNR -Italy)
Robert Sablatnig (Vienna University of Technology – Austria)
Roberto Scopigno (ISTI-CNR – Italy)
Sofia Pescarin (CNR – Italy)
Stephen Stead (Paveprime Ltd – UK)
Vittore Casarosa (CNR – Italy)
Maria Theodoridou (FORTH – Institute of Computer Science – Greece)
Bianca Falcidieno (CNR – Italy)
Isabelle Bloch (ENST – France)

- IMPORTANT DATES -
Abstract submission (full/project/short/workshops/tutorials/VAST-STARs): 12th May 2009 (23:59 PTZ)
Paper submission for full papers and short papers: 15th May 2009 (23:59 PTZ)
Author notification: 21st June 2009
Camera-ready: 28th June 2009

- CONTACTS -
Conference Web Site: http://www.vast2009.org/
Event Chairs: Kurt Debattista, Sandro Spina – org_committee<at>vast2009.org
Program Chairs: Cinzia Perlingieri, Denis Pitzalis – prog_committee<at>vast2009.org
General Info/Organisation/Logistics: Sandro Spina – info<at>vast2009.org

Report on the Greek and Roman Games in the Computer Age Conference, Trondeheim, Norway

From Andrew Reinhard, a report on the recent short conference detailing the nascent Classicists-discover-computer-games movement:

A revolution is happening now and the flashpoint is Scandinavia. Both Sweden and Norway have fought and won to keep Classics as a vital and viable subject of study at the secondary school and university level. Activist bloggers like Moa Ekbom in Sweden (see her Latinblogg), and activist students like Magnus Eriksson in Norway have been responsible for rescuing canceled Classics programs while at the same time finding ways to resuscitate Classics, promoting and publicizing both Latin and Greek as important for contemporary audiences, not just relating to scholarship, but also to popular culture, stripping the stigma of elitism from Classics and proving that Classical Studies is indeed essential for anyone.

The Greek and Roman Games in the Computer Age conference was organized by Classics professors Thea Selliaas Thorsen and Staffan Wahlgren, both of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology just outside of Trondheim, Norway. The first of its kind, this conference sought to survey Classics in computer games and virtual worlds as presented by fifteen speakers from Norway, Sweden, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Full report here. I note one of the games mentioned is Caesar IV, which I’ve written about a number of times on this blog. Another series of blog posts from the conference floor live here. I look forward to future iterations of this conference, and hope they come to this side of the pond so I stand a chance of attending.

Google Earth, Politics, and Replacement Geography

A disturbing  indication of how important Google is for shaping everything…. including the recent past:

From O’Reilly:

On June 26 Andre Oboler of the Jerusalem Center For Public Affaris published a report titled Google Earth: A New Platform for Anti-Israel Propaganda and Replacement Geography. In the report Dr. Oboler states, in part:

“…sites known to be ruins in 1946 are claimed to be villages destroyed in 1948. Arab villages which still exist today are listed as sites of destruction. The Google Earth initiative is not only creating a virtual Palestine, it is creating a falsification of history.[...]

The inclusion of virtual Palestine, superimposed on Israel in the core layer of Google Earth, is an example of replacement geography advanced by technology. Those wishing to find directions, explore the cities of Israel, or randomly wander across this small piece of land are immediately taken to a politically motivated narrative unrelated to their quest.”

What makes Oboler’s report compelling is not the fact that users have altered history and geography to suit their political purpose. Rather, it is that Israel, unlike other nations, has had this information included into the default display.

[other examples are included in the O'Reilly report]

This is especially pernicious, when you consider how most users of web-services (or computing services more generally) rarely question the default settings.  Replacement geography, indeed. It is one thing to provide a layer that shows a political history, quite another to just ‘slip it in’. Shame on Google.

Final word to O’Reilly News:

There is a wider issue for all of Google’s hundreds of millions of users. Google has built a reputation and a successful business based on trust. Google users trust that when they do a search, look at Google Earth, or use any of Google’s other services that accurate data is being provided to them. I have no evidence that Google’s search engine, for example, is in any way tainted by politics Despite that I find myself double checking the results Google provides with new search engines like Cuil and Mooter and even the venerable Alta Vista. Google has already lost the trust of many Israeli, Jewish, and pro-Israel users. What happens to Google’s business if this lack of trust spreads to the wider user community as they become aware of the charges of political bias?

Just Leap In: Light Embeddable MUVE?

Another day, another MUVE, this one browser based (when the larger predators can’t exploit a niche, smaller, more nimble creatures move in to fill the void). From SLENZ

Canadian-based Leap In Entertainment (http://www.justleapin.com/ ) thinks it can do what Google couldn’t, and has launched (Mid-January) a brand new virtual world that might actually stand a chance, according to Jason Kincaid at TechCrunch (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/01/12/just-leap-in-tries-to-succeed-where-lively-failed/)

So, geek wannabe that I am, I downloaded the wee application to open JLI spaces, and set to work. This is still in beta (is anything ever NOT in beta anymore?).  Because each space is self-contained, the graphics get loaded up quite fast, even on satellite-net. Movement controls are standard, allowing 1st and 3rd person views. Preloaded textures, objects, ‘characters’ (don’t know what these are supposed to do – chatbots maybe?) can be dragged-’n’-dropped into the space. New spaces can begin with templates, or it appears that you can begin with a tabula rasa – but if building is your thing, this probably isn’t your space. If you want a quick and easy MUVE however…

What might make this a useful environment for education is that audio and video can be uploaded with drag-n-drop into the space – tv frames and projectors are provided (unlike in SL, where you have to search to find one, or build it yourself).  So, you could imagine a group project, where folks are dispersed across the land, meeting in a JLI space, easily bringing in videos etc. Media streams quiet easily. Chatting is text-based.  Spaces can be embedded in blogs or webpages, facebook, the usual gamut. ‘Portals’ can be created (a red British phonebox is one option), networking together the different spaces, so one could easily set up a series of classrooms if one wanted.

I can’t embed the space here, since wordpress strips out iframes etc, but you can go here to see the demo space, with a movie of one of my ABM models as it (the model) runs.

Anyway, this will be one to watch!

Just Leap In!

Interactive Fiction – bibliography and other directions

Denis Jerz writes of IF,  “Interactive fiction requires the text-analysis skills of a literary scholar and the relentless puzzle-solving drive of a computer hacker. People tend to love it or hate it. Those who hate it sometimes say it makes them think too much”

I like IF. I’m crap at solving puzzles, but I like it all the same.

For the bibliophiles amongst us, some bibliography from the academic literature on Interactive Fiction – you’ll note that most of the academic interest in IF waxed and waned in the late 80s, early 90s. But, there has been a resurgence in interest lately, mostly due to the literary qualities of IF. If that’s the sort of thing that interests you, check out:

Douglass, J. (2007). Command Lines: Aesthetics and Technique in Interactive Fiction and New Media. Dissertation, U. California Santa Barbara. link

as well as the complete oeuvre of Nick Montfort, including his ‘Twisty Little Passages‘. Nick also has a ‘harcover‘ of an IF he created, for sale:


An annotated bibliography of academic IF, published in 2002, lives here.

Emily Short’s articles on the art of creating IF may be found here. If you’re at all interested in the possibilities of creating IF, you must start with Short’s work!

Finally, a blog worth following for the literary qualities of IF and other species of computer-mediated writing: Grand Text Auto ‘A group blog about computer narrative, games, poetry, and art’

Right. Here’s the bit o’ bibliography that I’ve scraped up this morning:

Baltra, A. (1990). Language Learning through Computer Adventure Games. Simulation & Gaming, 21(4), 445-452.

Blanchard, J. S., & Mason, G. E. (1985). Using Computers in Content Area Reading Instruction. Journal of Reading, 29(2), 112-117.

Bonnaud-Lamotte, D. (1986). Contemporary Literary Lexicology and Terminology: An Inventory. Computers and the Humanities, 20(3), 209-212.

Brackin, A. L. (2008). Tracking the emergent properties of the collaborative online story “deus city” for testing the standard model of Alternate Reality Game. (1)U Texas At Dallas, US.

Broadley, K. (1986). Past Practices and Possibilities with Computers. Australian Journal of Reading, 9(1), 41-50.

Clement, J. (1994). Fiction interactive et modernité [Interactive fiction and modernity]. Littérature (Paris. 1971), (96), 19-36.

De Souza E Silva, A., & Delacruz, G. C. (2006). Hybrid Reality Games Reframed: Potential Uses in Educational Contexts. Games And Culture, 1(3), 231-251.

Desilets, B. J. (1989). Reading, Thinking, and Interactive Fiction (Instructional Materials). English Journal, 78.

Douglass, J. (2008). Command lines: Aesthetics and technique in interactive fiction and new media. (1)U California, Santa Barbara, US.

Finnegan, R., & Sinatra, R. (1991). Interactive Computer-Assisted Instruction with Adults. Journal of Reading, 35(2), 108-119.

Howell, G., & Douglas, J. Y. (1990). The Evolution of Interactive Fiction. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 2, 93-109.

Lancy, D. F., & Hayes, B. L. (1986). Building an Anthology of “Interactive Fiction.”. Report: ED275991. 15pp. Apr 1986.

Lancy, D. F., & Hayes, B. L. (1988). Interactive Fiction and the Reluctant Reader. English Journal, 77.

Marcus, S. (1985). Computers in Thinking, Writing, and Literature. Report: ED266468. 20pp. Nov 1985.

McVicker, J. (1992). Several Approaches to Computer-Based Reading Study. CAELL Journal, 3(4), 2-11.

Newman, J. M. (1988). Online: Write Your Own Adventure. Language Arts, 65.

Niesz, A. J., & Holland, N. N. (1984). Interactive Fiction. Critical Inquiry Chicago, 11(1), 110-129.

Packard, E. B. (1987). Interactive Fiction for Children: Boon or Bane? School Library Journal, 34.

Pea, R. D., & Kurland, D. M. (1987). Chapter 7: Cognitive Technologies for Writing. Review Of Research In Education, 14(1), 277-326.

Sampson, F. (1987). Interactive Fiction: An Experience of the “Writers in Education” Scheme. Children’s Literature in Education, 18.

Simic, M., & Smith, C. (1990). The Computer as an Aid to Reading Instruction. Learning Package No. 27. Report: ED333393. 50pp. 1990.

Tavinor, G. (2005). Videogames and Interactive Fiction. Philosophy and Literature, 29(1), 24-40.

Thomas, S. (2006). Pervasive learning games: Explorations of hybrid educational gamescapes. Simulation & Gaming, 37(1), 41-55.

PMOG is now the Nethernet

Pm0g – the passive multiplayer online game – has gone in for some rebranding, calling itself ‘The Nethernet’.

I rather like the term, ‘nethernet’, as it implies a game played in some sort of metaspace outside (above/below/beside) the regular ol’ internet.

However, in the transition, Nethernet has lost some of the old steampunk aesthetic and charm that Pmog had – whereas before there were scrolls popping up inside your browser, and neo-victorian characters assaulting/assisting you, now there is the same-old same-old web2.0-ish vibe. No doubt the game runs better and is more secure this way, but I rather liked the old charm.

For old time’s sake, here are my missions made back in the Pmog 0.4 era (and rejigged to run under the new regime):

“How in the world can I find sources on the motivations of ancient Olympic athletes?? Maybe if you told me what to read, then I could answer the question.” read the email. The prof looked away from his computer, groaning inwardly. And no doubt, just parrot back to me a webpage, he thought. Why do students expect to be spoon-fed everything? “Follow me. First, let us search ‘ancient olympics’ properly. Where would you go first, O student at the University of Manitoba with its excellent library resources?’

Ruins on a Distant Planet

4 stars!
created by doctorg 9 days ago

New long range telescopes have identified a distant, inhabitable planet. There appears to have once been intelligent life…

Who Killed William Robinson?

4 stars!
created by doctorg 11 months ago

Between 1867 and 1868, a tiny community at the north end of Salt Spring Island, populated by about 25 families, was the scene of three brutal and seemingly unconnected murders. But were they really unconnected? All of the victims were members of the island’s Black community and all of the murders were blamed on Aboriginal people. Two of the murders were officially unsolved. In the case of William Robinson, an all-White jury found an Aboriginal man, Tshuanahusset, guilty of killing the Black settler and sentenced him to death. Was Tshuanahusset guilty? Why was he convicted? If Tshuanahusset did not kill William Robinson, who did? (Great Canadian Mysteries, by John Lutz and Ruth Sandwell)

Digital Zaraka

My first experience of field archaeology was in ’94, at the site of the Cistercian Monastery of Zaraka, in Greece (next door to Lake Stymphalos, of Herculian fame). Shelia Campbell of the Pontifical Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto was the director. I am pleased to see that new architectural survey work is taking place there, along with a 3d  reconstruction.

Zaraka was an amazing site, not least for the skeletons we found (I was a teenager: skeletons were always the most cool thing, ever). Hector Williams, directing the nearby work on the ancient city of Stymphalia, casually noted, ‘oh yes, that’s how they bury vampires around here’… How could I not sign up for the BA in archaeology after that?!

So I owe a debt to Peter Rahn, Shelia Campbell, and Hector Williams for getting me into this line of work… (or maybe I should just send them my student loan bills).