Travel and Adventure

How Aeneas invented Pizza

by CarolineLawrence December 15, 2013
How Aeneas invented Pizza

When most people think of Italy, they also think of pizza. In Naples they will tell you they invented this culinary sensation and that their pizza is still the best in the world. Pizza purists say when in Naples there are only two types you should eat: Marinara and Margherita. The first and most basic […]

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Looking for Virgil, finding Tony Soprano

by CarolineLawrence October 15, 2013
Looking for Virgil, finding Tony Soprano

by Caroline Lawrence When we visited Pompeii and Herculaneum a dozen years ago, everybody warned us to avoid Naples like the plague! They spoke of gangs of street-urchin pickpockets who would descend on us like locusts, fleets of Vespa-riding handbag-snatchers, piles of garbage and walls covered with rude graffiti. And then there were the suicidal […]

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Piccadilly’s Egyptian Hall

by Lucy Inglis October 14, 2013
Piccadilly's Egyptian Hall

Eighteenth century Piccadilly was a place for all sorts of curiosities to be displayed. Almost opposite Burlington House, at 170–173 Piccadilly, a Starbucks coffee shop now sits where William Bullock’s Egyptian Hall once stood. From 1798, when Nelson triumphed at the Battle of the Nile, English interest in the ‘East’ began to soar. While obelisks […]

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The Secret of Vesuvius

by CarolineLawrence August 14, 2013
The Secret of Vesuvius

by Caroline Lawrence Girolamo Ferdinando De Simone is an Italian-born, Oxford-educated archaeologist based in Naples. We met via Twitter because he likes my children’s book, The Secrets of Vesuvius, and might stage a shortened version using local schoolchildren on the north slope of Vesuvius. Finding himself in London for a colloquium on Herculaneum he tweeted […]

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Caecilius’ Willy

by CarolineLawrence July 15, 2013
Caecilius' Willy

by Caroline Lawrence (Wonders and Marvels contributor) Students and teachers familiar with the Cambridge Latin Course were in for a shock at the British Museum Pompeii exhibition this summer. We saw Lucius Caecilius Iucundus as never before and many of us exclaimed Herclé! (By Hercules!) Everybody knows his face from the famous orange textbook 1. […]

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Avoiding the Crowds

by tracybarrett June 20, 2013
Avoiding the Crowds

by Tracy Barrett (W&M contributor) I recently accompanied a group of alumni from Vanderbilt University on a cruise that started in Cannes and ended in Venice, with lots of stops on the way (at one point, we were in four different countries in four days). In Florence, I left the group and went to the […]

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Secrets of a Roman Sewer

by CarolineLawrence May 15, 2013
Secrets of a Roman Sewer

by Caroline Lawrence Recently I attended a fascinating lecture by Professor Mark Robinson of Oxford University on the subject of Roman organic waste. Excavating the Ancient Sewers of Herculaneum was part of the British Museum’s fabulous ongoing exhibition Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum. For a fuller account, please read my History Girls blog post. […]

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A Labyrinth of Kingdoms

by PamelaToler April 18, 2013
A Labyrinth of Kingdoms

By Pamela Toler Sometimes a book grabs you by the throat and won’t let you put it down. I recently experienced that with Steve Kemper’s A Labyrinth of Kingdoms: 10,000 Miles Through Islamic Africa. I got so wrapped up in the story that I broke my long-standing rule about traveling with hardcover books because I […]

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Pompeii Myth-Buster

by CarolineLawrence February 15, 2013
Pompeii Myth-Buster

by Caroline Lawrence  Pompeii buffs beware! If you go on a tour with Professor Andrew Wallace-Hadrill your world will be rocked as surely as the Pompeians were rocked on several occasions leading up to that fateful day in 79 CE when Vesuvius erupted. Wallace-Hadrill is director of the Herculaneum Conservation Project and author of Herculaneum: Past […]

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Does my bottom look big …? Bizarre Roman Beauty

by CarolineLawrence November 15, 2012
Does my bottom look big …? Bizarre Roman Beauty

by Caroline Lawrence Magnusne culus meus in hac videtur? ‘Does my bottom look big in this?’ A first century Roman woman would have asked this question hoping for the answer maximē! (You bet!) Ideals of female beauty have always varied throughout the centuries, from the well-padded women of Rubens’ time to the androgynous flappers of […]

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A Botanist, a Butcher and a Body: Encountering an Eighteenth-Century Vrykolakas

by Lisa Smith October 30, 2012
A Botanist, a Butcher and a Body: Encountering an Eighteenth-Century Vrykolakas

By Lisa Smith, W&M Contributor From 1700-1702, French botanist Joseph Pitton de Tournefort journeyed through the Greek islands and Constantinople. The following tale is his account of a Greek revenant (vrykolakas) on the island of Mykonos (A Voyage into the Levant, vol. 1, 1718). The story begins with the unsolved murder of a local “ill-natur’d and […]

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Bonanza denied by pickax and jackass

by CarolineLawrence October 15, 2012
Bonanza denied by pickax and jackass

By Caroline Lawrence (W&M Contributor) In 1849 two good-looking, well-educated brothers from Pennsylvania joined the surge of young men travelling westward to “make their pile” in California gold. Allen and Hosea Grosh endured hunger, cold, toothache, scurvy, rheumatism and so much dysentery that they had to learn to spell the word diarrhea for their letters home. […]

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Love Potion Number IX

by CarolineLawrence September 15, 2012
Love Potion Number IX

by Caroline Lawrence In the steamy hot room of the Roman baths, a muscular gladiator sighs as a slave scrapes the sweat, oil and dirt from his skin. The slave uses a strigil, a curved metal tool that performs the same task as the modern loofah. The strigil – or stlengis (στλεγγίς) as it’s called […]

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Stagecoach Madness

by CarolineLawrence August 15, 2012
Stagecoach Madness

by Caroline Lawrence “I can remember no night of horror equal to my first night’s travel on the Overland Route,” wrote a stagecoach traveler in the 1860s. This poor man had to resort to wearing a donut-shaped air cushion around his neck to stop his skull cracking against the sides of a violently swaying coach. […]

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Who buys used postcards anyhow?

by Lisa Smith March 14, 2012
Who buys used postcards anyhow?

By Lisa Smith, W&M Contributor The ‘archival jolt’ happened in the strangest of places, a Brighton fleamarket. Idly rummaging through the detritus of people’s lives in search of treasure, I found a large box filled with used postcards, and I wondered who on earth would purchase such a useless thing. Of course, the snoop in me […]

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