Showing posts with label Porta Romana. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Porta Romana. Show all posts

June 6, 2013

Thursday, June 06, 2013 - , No comments

Report from Amelia: ARCA Intern Summer Kelley-Bell on ARCA Orientation for the 2013 Program

ARCA Interns in Cisterne Amelia
May 28th marked the beginning of the summer adventures for ARCA’s 2013 group of interns. In this year’s batch, we have three student interns: Yasmin Hamed, Summer Kelley-Bell, and Sophia Kisielewska. They are joined by Laura Fanadino, an undergraduate from Wellesley, and Kirsten Hower, ARCA’s 2013 Program Assistant, who is in her third year of working with the program. Each week, this lovely group of ladies is going to be bringing you insight into the program and some of its behind the scenes happenings. To start you off, Hello! My name is Summer Kelley-Bell and I’m from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Now let’s jump straight in to ARCA’s program.

The week started off with a few bumps along the way as the interns were reminded that Italian time runs a bit differently than any other time. Thankfully, we had arrived a bit early in order to work out the kinks and we have quickly adapted to the way a small town runs. Amelia is situated on top of a hill. Through the initial getting to know you stages between the interns, there was also the opportunity to get to know this fascinating town. Each day that we walked through the Porta Romana on our way to the library for work, we were also walking past a section of Roman road that has been paved around. It has been preserved so that future visitors to the city, or in fact its current inhabitants, can appreciate the history of this hilltop town. 

The official arrival day for the students wasn’t until the 31st, so we had a few days to get ourselves situated. We have checked out the grocery stores; sampled the wares at Bar Massimo, a local cafĂ©; and headed down to Dixie, where Sophia and Laura successfully navigated the purchase of internet keys. These “chiavetti” allow students to plug in a kind of thumb drive to their computers so that they can have internet anywhere there is a signal. All of these things were done in preparation for the arrival of the students. 

Friday the 31st was arrival day and it could have been a hectic day but it turned out quite well. Everyone banded together to navigate getting students from all over the world settled into their various Amerini apartments. Thankfully, the early arrival of the interns and the director, along with the help of Monica Di Stefano, the Amelia-based Social Director and Assistant, helped insure that everyone was safely placed in their homes. We met up later at La Locanda to officially welcome everyone to Amelia and to the program. This local restaurant has played host to ARCA in the past and it never disappoints. A large group of the students even stayed after the welcome cocktail had wound down in order to avail themselves of some of Locanda’s delicious food. 

Despite only being in the town for a brief period of time, students had very little problem finding their ways to the meeting point Saturday and then heading in to one of our classrooms for orientation. We heard speeches from the director and her various assistants, as well as a few words from Crispin Corrado, ARCA’s Acting Academic Director. Then the floor was given over to the students and we had a chance to get to know each other a little bit better. Saturday was given over to the idea of getting to know each other and the town and the interns even took some of the students on an optional walk to show them where to buy groceries and other such necessities.

However, the intern-led walk paled in comparison to Monica Di Stefano’s walk on Sunday. June 2nd marked “Corpus Domini,” a religious festival in Amelia where the streets are decorated with flower petals. Many of the students jumped at the chance to participate in this day and could be seen helping the locals to create rose petal angels and the like. We then had a walk around the city where Monica explained more of its history and grandeur. Monica showed us some of the wonderful little secrets that Amelia has to offer.

This year’s group of students comes from a variety of different backgrounds and places. They have come together from around the world to learn about something that interests each of us in different ways. This diversity is sure to translate into a very interesting program as each person brings their own unique experiences to the classes. I, for one, cannot wait to see where this will lead.

June 19, 2011

Current conflict in Libya puts Greek and Roman ruins at risk

by Rez Hamilton, ARCA Blog Contributor

This is an extract taken from, "Military use of ancient ruins during conflict" submitted for ARCA's course, "Art Crime in War" taught by Judge Arthur Tompkins, 2011.

Recently, international news has brought attention to the ancient city of Leptis Magna in modern day Libya, an archeological site that has been valued for its beauty and almost unheard of completeness. Leptis Magna is unfortunately located between two combating strongholds: Tripoli (about sixty miles away from the ancient ruins) and Misratah (currently held by rebel forces), and at the time of this report is still under the hold of Muammar Gaddafi. The current conflict in Libya which has been ongoing for the past several months has recently had journalists and archeologists alarmed that rumors pertaining to the Gaddafi regime’s use of this ancient site as a staging point for munitions and/or for military operational use are true.

Sadly, the ancient site of Leptis Magna has the potential of being irrevocably damaged by modern warfare having previously survived and persevered since the first recorded conflict against the Byzantines in the first millennium BC and just shy of its 30-year anniversary of being an UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Security and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Site. To give some scope to its scale and historical importance, Leptis Magna used to be Roman’s third largest and influential city on the African continent, following Alexandria and Carthage. Another UNESCO site that was declared in Libya during 1982 is Cyrene, which is currently a stronghold of rebel forces and which also has a history of military presence among its ancient ruins during World War II. With NATO’s ongoing conflict against the Muammar Gaddafi regime, a statement has been released which indicates that regardless of the location of resistant positions, NATO forces will strike, which means not even UNESCO heritage sites are safe.

Are the rumors true? According to reporters who attended a Libyan government sponsored tour of Leptis Magna last Wednesday, no military presence of personnel or munitions were seen. However, one must be considerate of the fact that due to the tour being Gaddafi regime sponsored, proof may have been taken away prior to the reporters arrival and/or may have been moved onto or replaced to the site soon after the camera crews had departed. In the meantime, the world must hope that the use of the site as a military show of force or for storage will never come to pass.

A military’s use of ancient ruins during conflict is not new nor is it unusual. One famous example which was used in order to justify the removal of the famed Elgin Marbles now housed in the British Museum in the UK, was when the Turks were using the Parthenon as munitions storage. While in storage, an accidental ignition of some of the weapons directly damaged the site. Ongoing arguments abound on the topic of its repatriation, and on whether or not Lord Elgin saved the marbles from further destruction.

Modern warfare cannot and will not allow the time nor will it lend protection to ancient sites, regardless of conventions and treaties. Nothing is unconditionally safe during conflict and as the record of the current regime has showed its marked carelessness for human life, it is safe to assume that not even ancient relics will be preserved. We can only hope that should any evil befall the ruins as the conflict continues that there will be enough left to put the pieces back together and that no plunder occur in the interim which would scatter the remains to the four corners of the earth for those with little care of provenance and wealthy enough to afford illicit antiquities. Should the plunder come to pass, then the ancient ruins will probably be forever ruined with little chance of ever reacquiring all the pieces to the heralded Leptis Magna, one of the most complete archeological sites known in modern times.

To personally share your thoughts/comments along with any examples of other specific ancient ruins which were used by the military in times of conflict (besides the parthenon), please email me at:

Works Cited:

· 1943, January. "Leptis Magna at Risk: History Repeats." Project Patrimonio. Word Press, 14 June 2011. Web. 18 June 2011.
· "Archaeological Site of Leptis Magna." UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Web. 18 June 2011.
· Charman-Smith, Mary. "The Ancient Ruins of Leptis Magna, Libya |" 31 Jan. 2011. Web. 18 June 2011.
· Coghlan, Tom. "Libyan Leader Muammar Gaddafi Hides Grad Missiles from NATO Raids in the Ruins of Leptis Magna « Shabab Libya." Shabab Libya. The Times, 14 June 2011. Web. 18 June 2011.
· Hewton, Terry. "Libya: Putting Ancient Ruins into a Contemporary PerspectiveAt Leptis Magna Ancient Romans, Early Christians and Modern Libyans Meet." Guardian [London] 23 Nov. 2010, World News sec. Guardian | 23 Nov. 2010. Web. 18 June 2011. 
· Hughes, Peter. "Libya: Ancient Ruins in African Sand." Telegraph [London] 28 May 2008, Travel: Activity and Adventure sec. - Telegraph. 28 May 2008. Web. 18 June 2011. .
· Londono, Ernesto, and Michael Birnbaum. "Fear for Libya’s Roman Ruins - The Washington Post." The Washington Post. 16 June 2011. Web. 18 June 2011. .
· Mustich, Emma. "Is Gadhafi Putting Ancient Ruins of Leptis Magna at Risk?" Web log post. The Archaeology News Network. 14 June 2011. Web. 18 June 2011. .
· Tharoor, Ishaan. "With Roman Ruins Under Threat, Libya’s Ancient Past Presses Against Its Present - Global Spin -" Global Spin - A Blog about the World, Its People and Its Politics - Time Magazine, 14 June 2011. Web. 18 June 2011.

More information about the archaeological site of Leptis Magna may be found on the UNESCO site here.

February 20, 2011

Sunday, February 20, 2011 - , No comments

Amelia, Umbria: Locals Sitting at the Porta Romana

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, Editor

During the summer of 2009, as I went in and out of the Porta Romana a few times a day to go to class at ARCA's Postgraduate Program in Art Crime Studies, to eat at Punto Divino, to purchase fresh yogurt from the cheese shop, or to walk to the duomo at the top of this medieval hilltop town in Umbria, I, along with everyone else going in and out of historical Amelia, saw locals sitting to the entrance of town. Watching people or cars, as I've mentioned previously, is a past time in Amelia. I typically was too shy to say hello to the locals but on my last day in Amelia in 2009, I asked these gentlemen if I could take their photo and they consented. Grazie!

February 19, 2011

Saturday, February 19, 2011 - ,, No comments

Amelia, Umbria: Porta Romana

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin

Reconstruction of the current Porta Romana began in 1592 and took 47 years. However, the brick sentry box dates from the 14th century. The plaque above the arch honored Santa Maria Assunta in 1703 after a big earthquake left the historic center unharmed and devastated the surrounding area. The town's coat of arms is a blue shield embossed with the letters, APCA, topped by a royal crown, and followed by two braches of faro (also known as spelt). The ancient wood door is closed for a few minutes every August on a Saturday evening during a medieval procession of town members in wool costumes that commemorates the Statuti Amerini which turned this formerly free town into a papal city. Where a drawbridge used to defend the town during the Middle Ages, a ditch is now filled with dirt and plants. A drawing of the town in 1700 shows the drawbridge at the Porta Romana and all the other buildings seen today, including the walls of the garden of the Palazzo Farrattini. Outside the gate today is a round mirror set at an angle for car drivers and pedestrians to see around the corner to pass safely into town.

To the south, the Porta Romana opens onto the Piazza XXI Septembre, the busiest intersection in town with four roads leading to other parts of Umbria such as Orvieto, Terni and Narni, Orte, and as far as Roma. An apartment above the arch of the Porta Romana opens its windows north into the historic center onto the shops lining Via della Repubblica.

Tomorrow I will post my favorite photos of a few of the local men sitting on the wall adjacent to the Porta Romana. They sit in the sun, talk, and watch the world go by. And although they had never smiled at me all the day I ran in and out of the Porta Romana, they smiled for the camera when I asked and I am quite fond of the photo -- and of course, them.

January 14, 2011

Amelia, Umbria: A view from the Historic Center

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin

This view from inside the historic center of Amelia is of Via della Repubblica looking down to the Porta Romana, the main gate of the town. The street is lined with shops. A coiffeur salon just inside the Porta Roma extends like a well-lit cavern alongside the medieval walls. Continuing up the street are clothing and jewelry stores, a fabric store, a pharmacy with the town's longest lines in the morning and evening; a hat shop; and Giampiero's shoe store where he can be found most mornings greeting his friends and clients with a smile and "Ciao, Ciao!" When Giampiero is not too busy at the shoe store, he walks up two doors to help his brother-in-law Luciano Rossi serve lunch at Punto Divino. A deconsecrated church, San Giovanni Decollato, once the Ospedaletto, a hostel for pilgrims traveling to or from Rome, opens sporadically to display and sell art and crafts for charity.