Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Pricing of GRBPIlion on

Shawn Graham of Electric Archaeology has published a collection of his blog posts on, the same Print-on-Demand service we use for GRBPIlion. This is cool.

I am also reminded by his post to be explicit about the pricing for the Ilion volume. Specifically, the current $21.03 cost is the minimum charge Lulu sets for printing and binding. Any amount above this would be split 80/20 between me and them. I will admit to guessing that even for $21.03, somebody - perhaps Lulu, perhaps the printer they use - is retaining at least a portion of the money, but I'm not bothered by that. All I know is that neither I nor Project Troia gets any revenue so that it's fair to say that we're trying to keep reader costs as low as possible.

This follows in the great tradition of scholars giving away their research for essentially no direct commercial gain. That's what happens when you sign over copyright to a journal for some minimal payment, often in the form of offprints. Academic books aren't usually money makers for their authors either. With Lulu, it is possible to be explicit about such economic factors and so drive hidden overhead out of the publication process.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Author Rights

Publishing Archaeology has discussed SPARC's Author Rights addendum. This bears on access to scholarly research so it's of interest here as well.

(via John Wallrodt)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Olympia Lamps Dissertation

ABZU has noted the digital publication of Ulrich Hübinger's 2003 Freie Universität, Berlin dissertation Die archaischen Lampen aus Olympia. Here is the beginning of the abstract:
Die Dissertation behandelt an einer Auswahl von 187 repräsentativen Beispielen rund 800 Funde von Lampen der archaischen Zeit (etwa 700 bis 580/70 v. Chr.) sowie einige verwandte Beispiele der beiden folgenden Jahrzehnte aus dem Zeusheiligtum von Olympia, die in mehr als hundert Jahren deutscher Ausgrabungstätigkeit zwischen 1874 und 1981 geborgen wurden.
The individual chapters and appendices are available as separate pdfs or the whole lot can be downloaded as a zip or tar file.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

GRBPIlion now CC

Greek, Roman and Byzantine Pottery from Ilion (Troia) is now clearly marked as being released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported license. Previously, only the PDF version was CC. Now you can download the whole publication and redistribute it if you so please. To make this easier, all the files are compiled into a single TAR ball. FYI, it's about 170 meg.

Our hope is that this will make the information more useful and also allow other institutions to archive and redistribute the material themselves.

An eventual "target audience" for the TAR ball is librarians and administrators of digital repositories. GRBPIlion is still very fluid so I don't know how this will fit into the acquisition strategies of such entities. We will be doing things like getting an ISBN (or maybe an ISSN) but we are also eager for suggestions of how best to make this resource consumable by anyone thinking about long-term preservation of scholarly information.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Burial in Britain

The embedded video shows the excavation of a 3rd Century AD sarcophagus in Britain.

Opening a Roman Coffin from Wessex Archaeology on Vimeo.

Apart from the fact that it's an excellent use of multi-media to bring the practicalities of archaeological field-work to the public, there is a close-up of a "small lustrous pot imported from France" at about 9:02 into the video. At this point I'll admit that Britain isn't the Mediterranean and the vessel in question is from northern Gaul so also a little outside my usual geographic range. But that's OK, it's all Roman so we're still more-or-less on topic.

The Wessex Archaeology site has a page with further information. This paragraph is interesting:
Everything points to the woman having been of high status. Almost 300 graves have been excavated at Boscombe Down in five separate cemeteries. Although many contained wooden coffins, this is the only one with a stone coffin. Dating to around 220 AD, the burial is the earliest in its cemetery and the later burials clustered around it. Many of the people in the other graves were buried with hobnailed shoes or boots for their journey to the next world and local copies of the imported pot are common finds.
I like the use of ceramics in the interpretation of social status.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Italian Sigillata in US Libraries

Anyone looking for an introduction to current thinking about Italian Sigillata could do worse than consulting the following four books:

Here's how one would do when looking for these titles at various libraries.

 Conspectus Cosa OCK Poblome et al.
Berkeley On shelf On shelf On shelf On shelf
Cincinnati On shelf On shelf On shelf On shelf
Columbia Offsite Not held On shelf On shelf
Harvard On shelf On shelf Off site "no online circulation information"
Michigan Not held On shelf On shelf On shelf

Two notes:
1: I chose the libraries somewhat arbitrarily. I use the Columbia library. Harvard is the largest university library system in the US. Cincinnati, Michigan and Berkeley all have strong graduate programs in Classical Archaeology.

2: The table obscures some detail. In particular, only the Burnham Classical Library at Cincinnati houses all these volumes in a single building. The other library systems distribute them between a main library, an art history library, and/or off-site storage.

Despite the fact that moving a volume "off site" is a terrible thing to do, this post isn't really a complaint. In fact, the table suggests that one's ability to study Italian Sigillata isn't half-bad if you live within convenient distance of a major research library. And there's always ILL.

Regular readers of this blog can probably guess that I'm itching to launch into a diatribe about how archaeologists would be better served if all this information were online. Take that as a subtext. For now, I'll just mention that Google Books lists "No preview available" for all these titles. That is a bummer.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Mediterranean Ceramics Reference Stability Report, Number 4

The MCRSR first appeared in October, 2007. For the fourth installment, I am making only one addition, no. 15, a Hellenistic lamp from Assos, Turkey now in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts. The URL for this entry is long and I have commented on this situation in a previous post. As a postscript to those observations, I'll briefly mention that I contacted Christine Kondoleon at the MFA and she kindly passed along my e-mail to the relevant department, which in turn seemed open to the ideas I had expressed in the post. So I now include an MFA URL as a way of tracking what happens on its website. In terms of the specific object, the lamp is interesting in part for coming from a well-recorded, at least for its day, excavation. The Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) began work at Assos in 1880 and in 1884 donated many of the resulting finds to the MFA. It is encouraging that information about these well provenanced objects is now available to all comers via the Museum's searchable collections database.

There are no changes to report for the other 14 URLs in the list below. There is, however, a hint of gathering instability. Some readers may have noticed that the AIA will cease to make PDFs of the American Journal of Archaeology's articles available for free download. Articles will be available via the commercial service Atypon. The change was announced in this letter from Naomi Norman, the AJA Editor-in-Chief. It should come as no surprise that I am disappointed by this decision. As an AIA Academic Trustee, I feel it is incumbent upon me to continue to work within the framework of the AIA's governing structure so I will not comment on ongoing discussions as the Institute faces the important issues surrounding the dissemination of scholarship in a digital age. I do encourage interested parties to read Dr. Norman's letter. It is a public document that captures a moment in time as learned societies negotiate this new territory. In terms of the MCRSR, the decision, which is in the process of being put into effect, may lead to a change in the URL for no. 4, K. Greene's article in AJA 111 (2007).

1. Walters' Catalogue of the Roman Pottery in the Departments of Antiquities, British Museum from Google Books:

2. Robinson's Agora V from JSTOR:

3. Lattara 6:

4. K. Greene's AJA article on Early Roman lead glazed pottery:

5. Heath and Tekkök, Greek, Roman and Byzantine Pottery at Ilion (Troia):

6. Vessel from Çatalhoyuk (via Flickr):

7. A Late Minoan III Pyxis from the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

8. An undocumented ARS Hayes 70 bowl from the dealer Classical Numismatics Group:

9. Fifteenth Century Mosque Lamp from Jerusalem now in the British Museum:

10. The Perseus Project Vase Catalog:

11. Wikimedia Commons Image of a Greek Geometric Skyphos in the Louvre:

12. Sagalassos from Pleiades:

13. Inscribed pot from Aphrodisias (HTML):

14. Inscribed pot from Aphrodisias (XML):

15. Hellenistic lamp from Assos, Turkey at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston:

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Journal of Roman Archaeology 20 (2007)

I am back from my holiday-season family excursions and the AIA/APA meetings in Chicago. A late present from me to myself was waiting upon my return: volume 20 of the Journal of Roman Archaeology in two fascicules.

All long-time readers of the JRA will immediately notice the smaller format, which was necessitated by the US Postal Service's increased overseas rates. I'm currently leaning toward preferring this smaller size. It's certainly easier to hold and won't require finding shelf space for more oversize volumes. The text is smaller and that will probably become more of a problem as my eyes continue to age.

In terms of content, excellence continues. I haven't read it cover-to-cover yet (will I ever?) but have enjoyed what I've come across so far. Of direct interest to ceramicists are J.T. Peña's article on tituli picti from Pompeii and environs (p. 233) and S. Rotroff's review of J. Poblome et al.'s volume on early Italian sigillata (p. 418).

Ceramics are deeply integrated into the study of Roman archaeology and this is reflected throughout the JRA's articles. I'll cite only one instance. M. Gawlikowski's superb article on the Mithraeum at Hawarte in Syria is an enjoyable read given the unusual iconography of the cave's wall-paintings and given the bright color plates which accompany the text (p. 337). I also took note of the following brief description of the fill of a pit cut into the floor of the cave:
The finds, carefully processed by G. Majcherek, represent a significant number of more or less complete vessels. Common wares were rather scarce, most being elegant tableware, including drinking cups, a dozen Eastern Sigillata A plates, some lamps, and a large skyphos with applied vine-scroll decoration. The finds are chronologically consistent, dating to the second half of the 1st. c. A.D. Taken together with some glass vessels, abundant animal bone fragments and ashes, they provide convincing evidence that the pit was used as a bothros (deposit for sacrificial remains). (p. 342)

Can there be anybody who does not eagerly await the full publication of this deposit?!?

One point. So far as I can tell, JRA articles are not generally available online. Furthermore, the publisher tightly holds on to redistribution rights. This text, in bold face, follows the copyright statement on page 2:
Pemission to copy may be obtained only direct from JRA, by e-mail, letter, fax or phone.
The Copyright Clearance Center (USA), the Copyright Licensing Agency (UK), and other national Reproduction Rights Organizations are not permitted to authorize copying or to collect fees for doing so.

While I certainly don't know the details, I believe the JRA exists as an independent entity funded largely from sales of the journal and its supplements (though one sometimes sees reference to subventions from other sources). In this context, I am more sympathetic than might be expected to the financial considerations that must be in play as the JRA considers whether or not to "go digital." It's also the case that the publisher, John Humphrey, was a professor of mine at the University of Michigan so that I am confident in saying that his main goal in publishing the JRA is the timely dissemination of archaeological information and analysis. Despite this prior disposition, I do have to say that I, along with many colleagues, eagerly await the inevitable day when I can bring the JRA's content into the field on my computer hard-drive.