Archaeology and Product Placement

Excavators along Hadrian’s Wall found the remains of a Roman wooden toilet seat recently – and a manufacturer toilet seat manufacturer intends to make a special edition of one of their seats and devote some of the proceeds (it’s not clear how much) to the conservation effort. Click to read – and the “also read” stories are also loo-related.

Corbusier and Mussolini – Big-M Modernism and Fascism (the Real Thing)

This isn’t just Fascism-the-adjective-that-means-something-BAD. This is an example of architectural authoritarianism.

Corbusier was pestering Mussolini with designs for Addis Ababa three months after the conquest. That’s eager collaboration!

The link goes to a fascinating case study at Failed Architecture that discusses how eager European architects were to treat Addis Ababa as a blank slate – even though it had been the capital city of an empire since 1889 and was a real city.

Perhaps one should file this under War Crime Trials: Architects?

Travel day

After European Studies 101: Geneva to Chattanooga for midterm break and Elderly Parent Patrol! I’ll also get to go to a family reunion for a branch of the tree I haven’t seen this way since I left Atlanta. The Crawfords used to have a pool party at the 4th of July, but about the time I moved up here they started having the annual reunion in the fall – and seldom on the same weekend as my midterm break. So, Mama and I are off to North Alabama tomorrow.

What’s Hardball in the museum world?

Well, maybe the Turkish government has decided that refusing to loan art works to American and European museums will count.

The Met is staging a show in 2016 on the Seljuk empire (before the Ottomans, but it’s more complicated than the word predecessors sums up).

Without loans from Turkey, and with Iranian loans unlikely unless there is a sudden improvement in relations between the US and Iran, the Met will have to rely on major loans from British and European institutions instead.


The Met’s exhibition could include, scholars suggest, dragon door-knockers from Berlin, some of the earliest Islamic carpets in existence from Copenhagen, works from the great pottery reserves of the British Museum, and stone and figural carving from the Met’s own strong collections. Some of the finest Seljuk Qu’rans are also in Western collections.


But Turkish loans could have ranged from manuscripts from the Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul and trophy items, such as an extraordinary steel mirror with gold inlay also housed there, to reliefs from the walls of Konya, the Seljuks’ historic capital in Anatolia.


The article linked above also discusses the refusal of the Turkish government to make any loans to a major show at the British Museum a few years ago, so this is an ongoing strategy to get the museum world to engage in negotiations over looted or stolen artworks in their collections.


So when will I go to Rome next?

Folks from our language school partner in Rome and the interesting food studies institute which teaches a Food and Culture course some semesters (though not every program uses the GustoLab course) were in town this week. They wanted to know when I was coming back to Rome. I said 2017 (very sweetly they said things like “no, no – WITHOUT students! Surely sooner than that?”). What’s been going around the department this week makes me wonder if it won’t be Spring of 2018 before I lead another program.

Well, in that case I will CERTAINLY be there on my own, senza gli studenti, before then!