Blockbuster archaeology exhibitions are increasingly challenging to mount. Do you market the show as if it was (and in this case is) a Netflix series? Then do you show objects for their intrinsic fascination or offer some kind of narrative ? The Vikings come laden with historical baggage. Yet the archaeology, being some of the most advanced in world history, provides a wonderful window on the history, life and times of the Scandinavians as they fully entered European history.
15 February – 75 years since Flying Fortresses obliterated the monastery of Monte Cassino, the home of Benedictinism. Today as we pass below the sky is cloudless, serene and around the rebuilt monastery is a feint wreath of lingering mist. Monte Cassino and its epic story mark the beginnings of a patch of Italy to which I am forever attached. Monte Cassino and San Vincenzo are twins, their histories intertwined. For years Cassinese monks came to San Vincenzo to enjoy its cool
Every year the Yorkshire treasure – the writer and playwright – Alan Bennett reads his previous year’s diary for The London Review of Books podcast. Each diary entry is a gem and as I walked on this blissful February Sunday beneath a cloudless sky and inhaled the late winter pleasure of Umbria, I double-dipped listening to his inimitable master’s voice. Umbria on a mid February morning He began and ended his entries for 2018 with reflections on Brexit. By now I have heard man
Salvo belongs to a world that is fast disappearing. Born to country folk, his life has almost entirely revolved around managing olive groves, vineyards, and a menagerie of animals. Cities belong to others. His twenty-five year old panda and his 1990s cellphone are reluctant concessions to modernity. For years he has added my garden to his portfolio of jobs, his pace slowing as he heads into his later seventies. In many ways he is priceless as he predicts the weather or the li
Last night I had the privilege to listen to Mary Beard thinking out loud about ‘What’s the point of Ancient Rome’. Her central argument was that the richness of the ancient history and archaeology makes us think about ourselves now. It’s not which Emperor Donald Trump resembles so much as look at how Roman slave quarters might compel us to reflect upon the conditions inflicted upon workers who produce our clothes and gadgets far from peering eyes. Mary was characteristically
Sean Kingsley’s new book is a gem of an archaeological story. The Battle of the Atlantic was in its second year when the British India steamer, SS Gairsoppa, was torpedoed by U-101 on 16 February 1941 off Ireland. Only the 2nd Mate, Richard Ayres survived. Voices from the Deep The steamer normally plied between Indian ports and Rangoon but was requisitioned to carry cargo to Britain. This included three million ounces of silver as well as hundreds of letters sent from troops