Thursday, January 10, 2013

Herculaneum book wins AIA award

    At the January 2013 joint meetings of the Archaeological Institute of America and the American Philological Association, Andrew Wallace-Hadrill received the 2012 Felicia A. Holton Book Award for representing "the importance and excitement of archaeology" to the general public.

The title of Wallace-Hadrill’s book, Herculaneum:  Past and Future (Frances Lincoln Limited Publishers with The Packard Humanities Institute, 2011), recalls C. Waldstein and L. Shoobridge, Herculaneum: Past, Present, and Future (Macmillan and Co. Limited, 1908), which provided overviews of the excavations, the ancient testimonia, and the finds, along with a proposal for continuing the excavation of the ancient town with international support and cooperation. This has indeed now happened, with the support of the Packard Humanities Institute since 2001. Wallace-Hadrill gives an up-to-date look at the background and history of the site, writing in a lively and compelling style. His magnificently illustrated book covers Vesuvian geology, the early Spanish Bourbon excavations of Herculaneum, the politics of restoration, the town, its people — from rich to poor — trades, homes, public buildings, old finds and new discoveries, and he concludes with modern efforts at conservation and protection.

            Wallace-Hadrill also delivered a paper on the "Packard Humanities Institute's Conservation Project at Herculaneum and New Discoveries" in an AIA session entitled "The Packard Humanities Institute: A Quarter Century of Contributions to Archaeology." He addressed the value of multidisciplinary teamwork in the conservation and maintenance of the site, and showed how at the same time new discoveries have been made and new conclusions have been reached. Among the most interesting recent finds that he discussed were timbers from an ancient roof and its decorated ceiling, which had been swept down to the ancient shore during the eruption of AD 79.

— Carol Mattusch

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