Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Archaeologists uncover amphitheatre used to train gladiators near Vienna

Archaeologists uncover amphitheatre used to train gladiators near Vienna

The ruins are a 'sensational discovery' with a structure to rival the Colosseum in Rome, archaeologists say

The Colosseum in Rome
The Colosseum in Rome – the largest amphitheatre built in the Roman empire. Photograph: Francesco Survara/Alamy

Archaeologists say they have located and excavated the ruins of a huge amphitheatre used to train gladiators east of Vienna, describing it as a "sensational discovery".

They claim that the ruins found through ground radar measurements rival the Colosseum and the Ludus Magnus in Rome in their structure. The Ludus Magnus is the largest of the gladiatorial arenas in the Italian capital, while the Colosseum is the largest amphitheatre ever built in the Roman empire.

A statement on Tuesday from the Carnuntum archaeological park gave no details about when the find was located and excavated.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Perseus with the Head of Ronald McDonald

Italian artist Giuseppe Veneziano updated the Greek myth of Perseus and Medusa with this sculpture. It’s a bit harsh. I mean, Ronald McDonald never turned anyone into stone.

Artist’s Website (some NSFW images) -via Kurositas | Photo by Flickr user mamasaurus rex used under Creative Commons license

UPDATE: In the comments, Sylvian proposes that this sculpture is actually a take on Caravaggio’s David with the Head of Goliath. I think he’s right.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Rome police arrest Colosseum 'gladiator' gang

A child looks at men dressed up as gladiators in front of Rome's Colosseum in JuneAFP 
Italian police have arrested 20 gladiator impersonators in an undercover sting aimed at ending a violent racket operating around Rome's most famous tourist sites, Italian press reported on Thursday.
Police disguised as gladiators, dustbin men and members of the public raided the gang made up of seven families working with five tourist agencies.
The modern gladiators are accused of attacking and intimidating competitors for a lucrative business in which gladiators collect up to 10 euros ($14) for having their picture taken alongside tourists in front of attractions.
The police officers disguised as gladiators were beaten up by the alleged criminal gladiators before other undercover officers swooped in.
"Gladiators" are a feature of the Roman landscape for tourists, with men decked out in bright red capes, helmets with plumes of red feathers and sandals while carrying swords and round shields.
They can be found outside the Colosseum, Castel Sant'Angelo, Piazza Venezia and even in front of St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, preying on the millions of tourists who pass through Rome every year.
Criminal gangs had divided up these tourist sights and were defending their territory with violence, the police said.
Five competitors who had been chased away alerted police to the gang's activities, leading to the sting operation.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Putin 'discovers Greek urns' on scuba dive

By Dmitry Zaks

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (left) cleans an ancient amphora as he visits a site of archaeological excavations on the Taman Peninsula. Putin pulled on a wetsuit and went scuba diving at an ancient Greek Black Sea site in the latest populist stunt preceding next year's elections
Russia's hard man Prime Minister Vladimir Putin pulled on awetsuit Wednesday and went scuba diving at an ancient Greek Black Sea site in the latest populist stunt preceding next year's elections.
State news reports said he descended just two metres (6.6 feet) and "luckily" discovered two sixth century urns in full presence of the media, because the water was so clear.
Television footage showed two moss-covered vases with ear-like handles sitting neatly next to each other on top of the sandy bottom as Putin swam into view.
"Treasure!" a dripping wet Putin told reporters with a big grin. "They drank it all already," he added when asked if there was anything left in the jars.
Putin -- a novice only attempting his third scuba dive -- "came across" the objects during an expedition on the southern Russian coast near Ukraine.
"The head of the expedition said they are from the sixth century AD," Putin said with a diving mask imprint still clear on his face. This would date them to the time of the early Byzantine era.
"When the ships were being loaded at the port, the jars would often break and then they would get tossed overboard," Russia's de facto leader explained.
Footage showed Putin accompanied on the diving raft by Russia's emergencies minister Sergei Shoiguand the powerful metals tycoon Oleg Deripaska.
The Basic Element company chief reportedly told Putin that he forgot his diving suit and refused to go into the water.
"What, you ran out of money?" the website quoted Putin as asking the Russian oligarch.
The high-publicity event took Putin to the Krasnodar region's Taman Peninsula -- home to the Phanagoria colony founded by the Greeks some 2,500 years ago and invaded by the ancient Rus in the 10th century.
Former Soviet intelligence officer Putin rose to the presidency in 2000 on the back of a carefully-cultivated image that mixed nationalist rhetoric with an action man image that set him apart from other Russian leaders.
He has flown a fighter jet into Chechnya and descended to the bottom of Lake Baikal in a special deep-sea vessel. Russian media have published photos of Putin wearing his judo black belt and stripped to his waist on a hunting trip.
One of his more daring escapades one year ago saw him chase whales off Russia's Pacific coast with a crossbow in hand.
"Living in general is dangerous," his office later quoted Putin as telling a reporter at the scene. He later piloted a Formula One car on a circuit near his native city of Saint Petersburg.
Putin's adventures at times contrast with the apparently more sedate lifestyle of President Dmitry Medvedev -- a lawyer by training who has yet to commit himself to a second term amid speculation Putin himself may run.
The Russian president has also encountered the occasional media mishap.
Medvedev this summer nearly ran his SUV vehicle into a cheering crowd of supporters after forgetting to put the gear lever into park and has also become the hit of a viral video in which he was shown dancing at a friend's party.
Putin and Medvedev have vowed not to run against each other and decide which of them will stand for the presidency soon.