On Silbury Hill by Adam Thorpe

bookshelves: summer-2014, published-2014, nonfiction, ancient-history, britain-england, wiltshire, archaeology, autobiography-memoir, bullies

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from August 16 to 22, 2014

 

BOTW

Description: Silbury Hill in Wiltshire – together with Stonehenge, Avebury and the remains of numerous barrows – forms part of a Neolithic landscape about which very little is known or understood.

Adam Thorpe describes his book as ‘”a marble cake of different soils. Memoir, data, theory, streaks of poetry, swirls of fiction” – but he is not alone in having been drawn to explore the meaning of the largest prehistoric mound in Europe. Artists and archaeologists as well as various cults and neo-pagan traditions have focussed on the blank canvas that the hill presents as a way of exploring our complicated relationship with the past and the people who lived there.

“An estimated million hours spent on construction rather than herding or cooking or stitching must have had a point, but we don’t get it. Is conjecture a species of fiction? To muddy the difference further, Silbury insisted on being called ‘she’. I obeyed, not out of New Age winsomeness but from the influence of country dialect, in which neuter pronouns are as alien as robot leaf blowers.”

This chalkland memoir told in fragments and snapshots, takes a circular route around the hill, a monument which we can no longer climb, and celebrates the urge to stand and wonder.Abridged, directed and produced by Jill Waters. A Waters Company production for BBC Radio 4.

Episode 1: The base of Silbury Hill covers five acres of Wiltshire turf which have not seen sunlight for 4,300 years. Adam Thorpe has known her since he was 13yrs old.

Episode 2: A target of bullying, the author was grateful for the soothing mysteries of the landscape.

Episode 3: What can archaeology really tell us? Face-to-face with Neolithic man.

Episode 4: The author meets a pair of enthusiastic Wiccan drummers.

Episode 5: All Hallow’s Eve 2013 – Silbury and the stone circle at Avebury, shadows and rituals.


YES! This is the sort of offering I like to see as a book of the week, however I prefer less whimsy, reminiscing and affectation mixed in with my non-fic.

Please note, the hill is not open to the public nowadays.

Three crop circles, just.

Sea Room by Adam Nicolson

bookshelves: published-2001, britain-scotland, nonfiction, one-penny-wonder, autumn-2010, ancient-history, archaeology, vikings, sciences

Read from October 19 to 20, 2010

 

** spoiler alert ** A keeper for sure; one never knows when one can break out the Nordic war-boat and head out to investigate the islands. A meandering description with black and white photos dotted throughout, also a few diagrams and maps.

About the author (wiki-sourced) – Adam Nicolson is the son of writer Nigel Nicolson and grandson of the writers Vita Sackville-West and Sir Harold Nicolson. He was educated at Eton College and Magdalene College, Cambridge and has worked as a journalist and columnist on the Sunday Times, the Sunday Telegraph and the Daily Telegraph. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

Nicolson was married to Olivia Fane from 1982 to 1992. They had three sons.[1] Since 1992 Nicolson has been married to Sarah Raven. He and his wife have two daughters and live at Perch Hill Farm[2] in Sussex and at Sissinghurst Castle in Kent.

First sentence – For the Last twenty years I have owned some islands

Grandmother(Vita Sackville-West) died and left father some money and an advert had been seen in the Daily Telegraph. Some previous owners were Compton Mackenzie, Lord Leverhulme and more recently, a racehorse breeder. It doesn’t take a genius to see that this was not a good place to rear Derby winners

On Architecture, Volume I: Books 1-5 by Vitruvius

bookshelves: dip-in-now-and-again, skim-through, ancient-history, architecture, e-book, how-to, nonfiction, history, published-27bc, roman-civilisation, rome, skoolzy-stuff

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Simon Keay
Recommended for: Chris Ethier
Read on May 26, 2014

 

Read here: http://academics.triton.edu/faculty/f…

After a rather understandably brown-tongued humble preface we are then advised that architects should know their history, music, art, philosophy, astronomy and medicine.

The Temples of Minerva, Mars and Hercules will be Doric, since the virile strengths of these Gods make daintiness entirely inappropriate to their Houses.

Book Two opens with Dinocratus who had quite the idea – make Mount Athos into a statue of a God. Looksee here:

Timotheus: a sculpture of Leda and the Swan in which the queen Leda of Sparta protected a swan from an eagle, on the basis of which a Roman marble copy in the Capitoline Museums is said to be “after Timotheus”.

The basis of a Björk dress:

The Mausoleum at the ancient city of Halicarnassus was the tomb of the king, Mausolus.

As for “wattle and daub”, I could wish that it had never been invented.

Basilica, Pompeii

Vitruvian Etruscan temple model. – Archaic Etruscan – In his book, On Architecture, Vitruvius set out the rules for designing Tuscan temples.

Vitruvian Harmonics

Aspendos

Tepidarium at Pompeii

Pompeii by Robert Harris

bookshelves: ancient-history, published-2003, spring-2010, italy, roman-civilisation, historical-fiction, conflagration

Read from April 26 to 29, 2010

 

** spoiler alert **

Description: Ancient Rome is the setting for the superb new novel from Robert Harris, author of the number one bestsellers Fatherland, Enigma and Archangel.

Where else to enjoy the last days of summer than on the beautiful Bay of Naples. All along the coast, the Roman Empire’s richest citizens are relaxing in their luxurious villas. The world’s largest navy lies peacefully at anchor in Misenum. The tourists are spending their money in the seaside resorts of Baiae, Herculaneum and Pompeii.

Only one man is worried. The engineer Marius Primus has just taken charge of the Aqua Augusta, the enormous aqueduct that brings fresh water to a quarter of a million people in nine towns around the Bay. Springs are failing for the first time in generations. His predecessor has disappeared. And now there is a crisis on the Augusta’s sixty-mile main line — somewhere to the north of Pompeii, on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius. Marius — decent, practical, incorruptible — promises Pliny, the famous scholar who commands the navy, that he can repair the aqueduct before the reservoir runs dry. But as he heads out towards Vesuvius he is about to discover there are forces that even the world’s only superpower can’t control.

Bought at Rome airport March 2010 for M’s birthday. Discussion points that raised their heads during reading:

– plot spoilers for this story are everywhere
– when those plot spoilers are ignored, Iceland is reminding us very subtlety.
– M is getting frustrated at the countdown method of layout
– ‘Who in their right mind would climb up to look at what’s happening’

A pal sent through a jokey email on Friday written in pidgin swedish/icelandic.

Put 30 billion euros in the bin outside the Icelandic Embassy and we will turn off volcano. Not call Polis.

M’s verdict – he thought the facts about the volcanoes and the aqueducts were stunning, and the story surrounding the historical facts, exciting. He would give the overall result somewhere between a 3 and 4 star.

My Verdict – I liked it a little more and the descriptions of the eruption were staggering.

4* Fatherland
4* Pompeii
3* Imperium
2* The Ghost
4* Lustrum
3* Selling Hitler

Fire in the East

bookshelves: published-2008, ancient-history, historical-fiction, one-penny-wonder, paper-read, tbr-busting-2014, winter-20132014, hardback, roman-civilisation, war, syria, military-maneuvers, testost-tosh, washyourmouthout-language, mythology, adventure, conflagration, spies, gr-library, iran-persia, iraq

Read from February 01 to 02, 2014

 

Description: The year is AD 255 – the Roman Imperium is stretched to breaking point, its authority and might challenged along every border. The greatest threat lies in Persia to the east, where the massing forces of the Sassanid Empire loom with fiery menace. There the isolated Roman citadel of Arete awaits inevitable invasion.

One man is sent to marshal the defences and shore up crumbling walls. A man whose name itself means war: a man called Ballista. Alone, Ballista is called to muster the forces, and the courage to stand first and to stand hard, against the greatest enemy ever to confront the Imperium.

This is part one of WARRIOR OF ROME: an epic of empire, of heroes, of treachery, of courage, and most of all, a story of brutal, bloody warfare.

There be a map spread over two sides: The Voyage of the Concordia and the itinerary of the Dux Ripae

Followed by another two sided map of the city of Arete, on the Euphrates, and a fragment from the Sassanid Book of Ayin

Prologue (Summer AD238) War is hell. Civil war is worse.

The first line of Chapter I: By the time the warship had cleared the harbour breakwater of Brundisium, the spies had found each other.

Book is discarded from Bristol Public Libraries.

Ahura Mazda

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It is all ‘Nasty Work In The Dark With A Short Sword’.

The Ghosts of Cannae: Hannibal & the Darkest Hour of the Roman Republic

bookshelves: history, ancient-history, roman-civilisation, winter-20132014, under-1000-ratings, tbr-busting-2014, war, tunisia, published-2010, newtome-author, italy, fraudio

Read from October 20, 2013 to January 19, 2014

 

Blurberoonies: Other battles are perhaps just as famous as Thermopylae, Waterloo, Gettysburg, but the aura of Cannae, where Hannibal obliterated the largest army the Roman Republic had ever put into the field, is unmatched. The battle is unparalleled for its carnage, with more men from a single army killed on that one day, Aug. 2, 216 B.C., than on any other day on any other European battlefield: something like 50,000 Romans died, two and a half times the number of British soldiers who fell on the first day of the Somme.

Pure Military History, so this is a tacticians wet dream. The strategies on display at Cannae have been emulated down the ages.