Lincoln’s coat: preserve or display?

The Brooks Brothers (!) coat Abraham Lincoln was wearing the night of his assassination is part of Ford’s Theater permanent collection. Until last year when Ford’s closed for renovations, the coat had been on exhibit since the museum acquired it in 1968, but now that reopening approaches, some conservators are concerned that the coat can’t …

Neanderthals ate sea mammals

Archaeologists have found evidence that Neanderthals living in caves on the Rock of Gibraltar ate seals and dolphins. This is a major find because up until now there has only been evidence of our more direct Cro-Magnon ancestors eating seafood, a misconception that has helped bolster the presumption of our cognitive superiority. The researchers can’t …

Caligula wuz here

More specifically, Caligula died here. The crazy sumbitch was killed by his own guards in a passageway underneath the palace, and now, Italian archaeologists may have found that very passageway. Maria Antonietta Tomei, a Rome archeologist, said a cryptoportico or underground corridor discovered beneath the imperial palaces on the Palatine Hill matched exactly the description …

Upscale Blitz tunnels for sale

The little people of WWII London hid in subway stations during the Blitz. Big shots (like spies and government functionaries) got much nicer digs: the Kingsway Tunnels. British Telecom owns them now, and they’re looking to sell. The two wartime tunnels that kept the men in bowler hats safe from the Luftwaffe were supplemented in …

Tomb of man who inspired Gladiator found

Marcus Nonius Macrinus was a highly regarded general and consul under Marcus Aurelius. He was (at least in part) the model for the Maximus character in Ridley Scott’s Gladiator. Archaeologists working on building site just north of Rome have found columns, parts of the roof, friezes, tumbled down walls, and most importantly, a Latin inscription …

Bonhams caves and I was right (yet again)

When Bonhams’ sale of the Geddes Collection made the news this summer it was because there was a superstar among the antiquities, namely Roman Elvis. At the time, I said: There was no mention that I could find on the Bonhams site or in the press about the ownership trail of these fantastical pieces. Mr. …

Pagan/Christian tomb found inside Roman villa

Romans buried their dead outside the city walls, traditionally, or inside a church. A 6th c. tomb in the middle of someone’s house is pretty much unheard of. That’s not all that’s unusual about this find. Two skeletons were found. One was of a woman between the ages of 25 and 30, with teeth in …

Toy hedgehog found in child grave at Stonehenge

Archaeologists digging west of Stonehenge have found a child buried with a chalk hedgehog figurine. The child was buried about 3000 years ago. Archaeologists who discovered the grave, where the child was laying on his or her side, believe the toy – perhaps placed there by a doting father – is the earliest known depiction …

Update: Paradise not to be paved after all

It looks like the Mayor of Rome has stopped construction on the Pincio parking lot. Instead of a new 700 space lot, 500 new spaces will be added to the existing parking deck a few blocks away at Villa Borghese. Why didn’t they do that from the beginning, you ask, especially since the Borghese parking …