Friday, 5 June 2015

Hadrian's Wall of Sound

The ancient site, famous for keeping the barbarians at bay, provides a stunning backdrop for this most cultured of events - a novel outdoor music gathering that moves along the expanse of the wall from Carlisle to Newcastle.  Harps, Saxophones and the good old Ucayali provide some of the diverse sounds emanating from this splendid cacophony.

If anyone from the library is/has been lucky enough to have taken any pictures that you want to share, remember to use the #BBCMusicDay  #joliheroics

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Virtual tour of the Library

There is now a link from the Library Home (News) page to a tour of the library, starting at the Reception desk, through / past the literature corridor and rooms and onto the Papyrology and Epigraphy room.  Turning left from here, you reach the archaeology room with the main journal collection at the end of the room, before turning left again into the history / civilisation room, the numismatics room and the computer room.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Nostell Priory Greek Vases Archive


This important series of early nineteenth-century manuscripts was rediscovered in 2014 within the Beazley Archive in Oxford University's Classical Art Research Centre.
The papers document the purchase and display of the famous collection of classical Attic and South Italian vases and other objects acquired by Charles Winn, 8th Baronet of Nostell, from Naples in 1819. They include numerous letters written in 1818 between Charles Winn and his agent Dr. Richard Harrison negotiating the prospective purchase from the seller of the collection, Abbe H. Campbell. Matters discussed include the price, custom dues and potential rival bidders. Later letters deal with the financial arrangements, efforts by Cambell to sell Charles Winn other antiquities (including sculpture), details about packing and transport, and finally a notice that the collection had sailed for England on 9th February 1819. Also included is the original printed catalogue of the collection compiled by Campbell before the acquisition in 1818. Some later material (undated, but written on paper watermarked in 1837), may provide evidence for additional purchases of vases from the Mainwaring Collection in Lincolnshire.
When the vases were sold from Nostell Priory by Christie's in 1975, the archival material was retained and ended up in the Beazley Archive among the papers of Sir John Beazley. The vases themselves are now dispersed in public and private collections around the world. The decision has been made to reunite the manuscripts with the sequence of Nostell Priory papers to which they formerly belonged, which are now held by West Yorkshire Archive Service (
Letters and Manuscripts 1818-1837: View Nostell Priory Greek Vases Archive Scans

Thursday, 6 November 2014

The killing sand may return to the Colosseum

In July 2014, Professor Daniele Manacorda made the proposition that the floor should be returned to the world famous Flavian Amphitheatre.  The floor has been absent since its removal in the 19th century, when it was removed during excavations.  Since then, the Amphitheatre has been missing its floor (and sand) and the exposed innards of the hypogeum have been an iconic part for visitors to the attraction and experts.

This was all a very nice idea in principle, until last week when the Italian Minister for Culture, Dario Franceschini, reignited the debate by suggesting that it was one of the main ideas he was proposing for his scheme to boost tourism to Rome. 

The Flavian Amphitheatre was inextricably linked with gladiatorial combat, despite there also being beast hunts, executions, chariot races, animal hunt and reports that the arena was flooded for the infamous naumachia.  Gladiators have seen a resurgence in popular media in the past few decades with Ridley Scott’s Gladiator (2000), and more recently with the television series Spartacus (2010). 

However, this news has not recieved unanimous approval.  Dr Salvatore Settis, a Professor of classical archaeology and former head of Italy's cultural heritage council, argues that whilst Italy is suffering from economic troubles and financial stringencies, the idea of refitting the floor to the Colosseum is ridiculous.  “We are living a dramatic moment for cultural patrimony. In this situation, I do not think that giving the Colosseum back its floor is a priority.”

If you are interested in reading more about the Flavian Amphitheatre or about gladiators, then we suggest the following from our catalogue: -

·         Gladiators : violence and spectacle in ancient Rome
Dunkle, Roger.
Harlow ; New York : Pearson/Longman, c2008.

Classmark: 152F DUN

·         The gladiators : history's most deadly sport
Meijer, Fik.
New York : Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin's Press, c2005.

Classmark: 152F Copy 2 MEI

·         The Colosseum
Hopkins, Keith, 1934-2004.
London : Profile Books, c2005.

Classmark: 113M HOP

·         Colosseum : Rome's arena of death
Connolly, Peter, 1935-2012.
London : BBC Books, c2003.

Classmark: 113M CON

·         The Colosseum
Los Angeles : J. Paul Getty Museum, c2001.

Classmark: X 113M COA

Monday, 3 November 2014

Electra returns to the Old Vic theatre with Frank McGuinness’ adaptation of Sophocles’ play


Kristin Scott Thomas and director Ian Rickson reunite to bring Sophocles’ tragedy to The Old Vic in the round. Frank McGuinness delivers a charged adaptation of this classic tale of power and revenge.

Electra is bound by grief following the murder of her father Agamemnon, unwilling to forgive and consumed by a desire for revenge, her anger builds. On the return of her brother Orestes, Electra’s fury explodes without mercy, leading to a bloody and terrifying conclusion.

Interested in Electra or want to know more about Sophocles?  Then check out section 94.11E in the library next time you're in.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Amphipolis Tomb... Who Lies Within?

The great thing about a new discovery is that moments when all the experts around the world put their two-penny worth in and begin to make predictions regarding what the new discovery actually is.  This is precisely what is happening now with the Amphipolis (or Kasta) tomb. 

Sadly, looters seem to have taken the treasures that it once contained, but experts are convinced that much can still be learnt from what remains.  The Caryatid Marbles alone could be described as the find of the decade.

Suggestions of who the tomb once contained vary, but most theories centre on the followers of the Macedonian King Alexander the Great.  The rumour mills on twitter this morning has it firmly set as the final resting home of Alexander’s mother Olympia, whilst others have suggested Alexander's son by Roxana.

So who does this tomb belong to?  If you have any thoughts, let us know!  Answers on a postcard.  Or failing that, you can leave your ideas in the suggestion box below or email me at .

Friday, 19 September 2014

On the 19th September 86 A.D., the Emperor Antoninus Pius was born in Nemausus.  Born the son of Titus Aurelius Fulvus and later adopted by his predecessor Emperor Hadrian, Pius has been remembered for having a rather uneventful spell as emperor.  However, he did manage to enact extremely important legal reforms throughout the empire based on fairness and equality rather than the word of law.  Pius died in his seventy-fourth year.

If you are interested in reading about the Emperor, then we recommend you have a look at Cassius Dio’s, Roman History, Book 70 and the Historia Augusta, The Life of Antoninus Pius.

Happy Birthday Antoninus Pius!