Monday, October 09, 2006

Word of the Day: Necropolis

Was this story timed for maximum Halloween exposure?

Today, the AP ran a story on the Vatican "unveiling" (strange choice of words if you ask me) the burial place this week, which was discovered when someone was trying to build a parking lot--like so many important archeological sites. Maybe there's a joint necropolis/parking lot venture in the works? Ah, marketing...

My favorite passage, though, is this:

"The remains of the child, whose gender wasn't determined, were discovered during the construction of the walkways, after the main excavation had finished, said Daniele Battistoni, a Vatican archaeologist.

Buried there were upper-class Romans as well as simple artisans, with symbols of their trade, offering what archaeologists called rare insights into middle and lower-middle class life."

Considering we have no current cultural insights into lower- and middle-class life (unless "According to Jim" counts), and that we really didn't need to know about the mummified, gender-questioned baby, I am not sure any of this qualifies as important.

Then this:

"The burial sites help 'document the middle class, which usually escapes us,' said consultant Paolo Liverani, an archaeologist and former Museums official. 'You don't construct history with only generals and kings.'"

Really? I thought history was all about the rich. Oh, wait, I meant "pious."

Not that I am knocking the necropolis. Far from it. If I could afford the plane ticket, I'd be there in line waving my necropolis penant and snatching up plaster replicas of the alleged hermaphrodite child.

Oh, and you have to write the Vatican for permission to enter the tombs. Get out your best Laura Ashley stationery!

Read for yourself:

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