JUST TOO COOL: Of Niobids and Rovers

This is simply too cool.

Every once in a while, we find something from antiquity that we knew about but thought lost.

Check this out, from Gazzetta del Sud.  Dorothy King’s PhDiva has a lot of photos.  With a biretta tip to rougeclassicism. La Reppublica HERE.

Archaeologists discover Augustan-era sculptures near Rome

Sculptures found in villa in Ciampino tell myth of Niobe

Archaeologists discover Augustan-era sculptures near Rome

Rome, January 8 – Archaeologists say they’ve uncovered an “exceptional” group of sculptures dating to the 1st century BC in a villa in Rome’s suburb of Ciampino. The sculptures, found in an ancient villa owned by Roman general Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus, a patron of the poet Ovid, tell the myth of Niobe, the proud daughter of Tantalus who lost all her 14 children after boasting to the mother of Apollo and Artemis, Leto, about her fertility. Niobe, regarded as a classic example of the retribution caused by the sin of pride or hubris, was turned to stone. Excavations at the villa have also revealed a thermal bath area with fragments of artistic mosaics and a swimming pool as long as 20 meters with walls painted blue. Inside the bath area were found seven sculptures dating to the Augustan age, as well as a complete series of fragments that experts say can be reassembled. The group tells the story of Niobe, which figured in Ovid’s epic poem of transformation, the Metamorphoses, published in AD 8. La Repubblica newspaper said Tuesday a team of archaeologists made the valuable discovery last summer. “Statues of Niobe have been found in the past, but in the case of Ciampino, we have a good part of the group,” of statues, said Elena Calandra, superintendent of archaeological heritage. According to their reconstruction of the bath area, experts say the statues were carved on all four sides of the swimming pool, which may have been buried by an earthquake in the 2nd century AD. (file photo of Niobe statue)

This is as cool as another story on the other end of the spectrum, as it were.  The Mars rover Curiosity has – for the first time – used its brush!  Yes!  It has!  HERE.

PASADENA, Calif. — NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has completed first-time use of a brush it carries to sweep dust off rocks.

Nearing the end of a series of first-time uses of the rover’s tools, the mission has cleared dust away from a targeted patch on a flat Martian rock using the Dust Removal Tool.

The tool is a motorized, wire-bristle brush designed to prepare selected rock surfaces for enhanced inspection by the rover’s science instruments. It is built into the turret at the end of the rover’s arm. In particular, the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer and the Mars Hand Lens Imager, which share the turret with the brush and the rover’s hammering drill, can gain information after dust removal that would not be accessible from a dust-blanketed rock.

Choosing an appropriate target was crucial for the first-time use of the Dust Removal Tool. The chosen target, called “Ekwir_1,” is on a rock in the “Yellowknife Bay” area of Mars’ Gale Crater. The rover team is also evaluating rocks in that area as potential targets for first use of the rover’s hammering drill in coming weeks.

Images of the brushed area on Ekwir are online HERE.



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Crucesignata says:

    That is soooo fascinating! =D /me prints

  2. Andy Lucy says:

    I just KNEW I should have gone ahead and gotten that minor in exoarchaeology. LOL

    These are both fascinating discoveries. I am looking forward to reading the write-ups from the Ciampino excavations. Classical archaeology is a field that I wasn’t able to explore as much as I wanted to as an undergraduate in archaeology. But I devour the site reports and artifact analysis as it comes out.

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