Conversation for Conservation

c4cAIRC Executive Director Darius Arya talks about our Unlisted 2014 conference:

Three years ago, we decided that we   ~ AIRC, our friends, colleagues and future friends ~ needed a forum to discuss unbranded and neglected heritage sites.  We needed an arena to give these sites presence and, quite simply, more than just acknowledgement—we wanted to give them conversation.  And like that, we created the Unlisted Conference series, a panel of experts talking about current heritage programs, issues and projects.  With rising technology and light-speed communication, Unlisted has become more than just a discussion- it is on-going interaction through various platforms, traditional and not so traditional.

Unlisted 2014 “Conversation for Conservation” brings together a forum of experts in an interactive, face-to-face and digital dialogue on cultural heritage preservation within the context of social and digital media. Our participants (past, present and future) are dynamic contributors in their fields and also very integral to a greater network that spans further than a dig site and a laptop.

Heritage professionals often lag behind in the dialogue that is taking place on these popular, ever-evolving platforms. Or if they do become involved, their use of social media is often not engaging, tending more to be formulaic whether due to lack of expertise or perception that “serious” organizations should not use such “casual” outlets for communication.

The AIRC has devoted a substantial part of its time to enrich multi-platform conversation– multi-platform meaning lecture hall, excavation site, conference room, social media, any where and everywhere. Given our collective expertise in the relevant areas (archaeology, heritage preservation, videography, social media), we chose to run this year’s Unlisted program as a “workshop” rather than conference with papers.  Our objective is to foster real dialogue among stakeholders interested in grasping the opportunities provided by social media platforms, and to present concrete examples of what works and what doesn’t online, especially in video and photography. And we have to decided to up the ante, so to speak, by hosting the conversation at Shoot 4 Change (an organization very much involved in social issues captured visually), and as well as via Google + Hangout On Air.

Probably thanks to the Commodore 64, I’ve always had a passion for technology at our fingertips. I see it taking off for all forms of businesses, related advertisers, for journalism and fashion, art and culture. It has renewed an interest in storytelling with an increased attention to curated images, and it has fostered global connections through trending topics–all from our mobile devices. We’ve never had such resources to reach out and connect with people. Academia and cultural heritage NGOs lag behind, but why should they? They also have the opportunity to tap into these relatively free platforms and strike a chord with a global audience; why should developers, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to have all of the fun and be the only ones to make a big impact?

WANT TO PARTICIPATE? It’s easy. Visit our Google+ hangout at 4pm Rome time and start the conversation!

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Think Outside of the Trench

~by Julia Elsey, AIRC 3-peat alum and MA Candidate in Archaeology from University of London.


Ask a person on the street what an archaeologist does. Chances are, the verb “dig” will be included in their answer.   Archaeologists tend to encourage this association, to mythologize their exploits in the dirt, because it lends credibility both within and outside the discipline. (We’ve done it in this very blog.)

But excavation is destruction of a finite resource, and if your dig-site is left uncovered, you must undertake conservation to protect it. Responsible digging has a place in 21st century archaeology, but indeed there are other, non-invasive ways for vital research and participation to occur.

Maybe you’ve heard of laser scanning, but have you considered the value of its cheaper, old-school cousin, aerial photography? Photos of the land taken from high-up places (whether satellites or hot air balloons) are deceptively straightforward resources. We don’t know where all the archaeological sites are in any country. We can’t (and even if we could, shouldn’t) excavate the entire planet. But how much can we learn from photos?


On the ground it can be hard to notice or comprehend the traces left by previous structures that are now underground or non-existent, but aerial images present much clearer patterns. These patterns can provide huge amounts of data to those who can make sense of them. With platforms like Google Earth, aerial photography is an affordable way for archaeologists and non-archs alike to explore the past use of a landscape.

Looking at images taken from planes or satellites enables the discovery of new sites (like in the Amazon). No less interesting, but making for less enjoyable viewing, are the images archaeologists like Neil Brodie use to document the extent of looting in war-torn countries. Aerial photography also documents heritage under threat by modern development or environmental damage. It’s an important component of the heritage management toolkit, whatever the cool-factor.



Photo credits:

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The Great Beauty: Study Abroad in Rome this Summer


You oughta be in pictures, you oughta be in Rome.

Città Aperta, La Dolce Vita, The Great Beauty, Rome is all of that and more. It’s a millennial nexus of beauty, art, culture, decadence, upheavals, politics, history, creativity and cuisine.  And it is where you should be this summer.  Our summer study abroad program in Rome is an collaborative journey from Rome’s very beginnings to today’s Great Beauty, where you can’t help but become part of the Eternal City and the Eternal City becomes part  of you.

“Layers of Rome Track 1: History and Art History”  and Layers of Rome Track 2: Media Studies”  explore Rome’s many layers, uncover its mysteries and celebrate its ongoing dolce vita.

History and Art History: From the epic stories of Ancient Rome to the Renaissance’s cultural innovation, Layer of Rome 1 concentrates on the literal movers and shakers of Rome, learning about what really makes Rome eternal. Student also go behind the scenes with heritage experts and scholars to examine on going conservation work.

Media Studies: Pen and pencil, smart phone, tablet and video camera, students take a peek through the lens of mass communication and put their own spin on storytelling using interactive media platforms with the Eternal City as the backdrop. Layer of Rome 2 focuses on creating original content for e-portofolios via photography, video and journalism.

Rome is the classoom– its timeless architecture and rich cultural heritage provide our students with an interactive learning areas.  Our Layers of Rome programs are dynamic experiences with unparalleled access to heritage sites.  Our professors guide you daily through Rome’s baroque churches, Renaissance palazzi, and labyrinthine alleys and plunge into the present of modern architecture, contemporary art, ditigal media and spectacular politics. All programs are accredited by Fresno State, Division of Continuing and Global Education.

Are you ready for your close up?





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The Palatine Hill and Propaganda: the House of Augustus


This year is a big Augustus anniversary; 2000 years since the death of the first Roman emperor, Augustus. Born Gaius Octavius, he was the great-nephew and adopted son of Julius Caesar. After Caesar’s death in 44BC, when Octavian was nineteen, his rise to power saw him eventually acclaimed Emperor by the Senate with the title “Augustus” in 27BC. Behind the creation of the first Emperor was a manipulation of legend, religion, and geography to put any spin doctor to shame.

For example, Virgil’s “Aeneid”, an epic poem describing the tribulations of Aeneas, son of the goddess Venus and claimed by Octavian as his ancestor, was written for Augustus; it was for him that Titus Livy wrote his “History of Rome”, providing the back-story to the “Golden Age” of Augustus.

Which brings us to geography. Continue reading…

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Dig Rome for the Summer: Archaeology Field School

Semester promo final

It’s time for you to get a little sun and Rome always has plenty to share. Come and join us in Rome this summer, for our 2014 Field School, an on site, interactive archaeological excavation of Ostia Antica. From June 9 through July 20, our six-week program is knee deep in ancient history as we head to the trenches of the Empire’s harbor city.

On the streets. . . . If you come to study in Rome, you need to live it Continue reading…

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Are you ready to dig history? Digging History is live!

Ever since our successful Kickstarter campaign Digging History, we’ve been getting around. We’ve clocked in 100 hours of on-location filming in Rome, its museums and archaeological sites, and 150 hours behind the screen editing our ten-part original series Digging History, an investigation into the Eternal City that starts from its very beginnings.

Episodes 1 through 5 are viewable on our website Romanculture and our Youtube channel WeDigRome. The first episode introduces the series and then subsequently jumps head first into an exploration of Rome, covering sources, geology, size/population, and layering through the next four episodes. Keep your eyes out for Dig Deeper, a section that accompanies each episode and examines themes in greater detail. And also Discuss, an interactive social conversation where viewers can leave comments and keep talking Digging History. Shortly, we will upload the second half of the series, Episodes 6-10, which will explore the history of Rome by periods as well as special topics such as disasters, architecture, and engineering.

Please let us know what your thoughts on Digging History and please continue to support our efforts with a tax-deductible contribution.


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Come to Rome for the Summer! Ostia Antica Field School Excavation 2014

Are you ready for a little fun in the sun, Ancient Rome style? Come join us in Rome and Ostia Antica for our 2014 Field School, an accredited six-week (June 9- July 20) program. Our excavation goes deep– in the trenches, in history and in the city of Rome itself. Don’t forget your sun cream!

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Persepolis Fortifications Archive

LIvingstone 1

AIRC Field School 2013 Alum Katie Livingston write about her internship with Persepolis Fortifications Archive (University of Chicago):

My season with the AIRC went by like a whirlwind, however, that was not the only exciting project I was lucky to be a part of this summer. After barely noticing three days had passed upon coming home (due to a potent case of jet-lag) I was on a plane heading from Minneapolis to Chicago. My next adventure was to take place at the Oriental Institute on the University of Chicago campus as an intern for the Persepolis Fortification Archives. Continue reading…

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