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11 October 2017

Pompeii vs. Herculaneum

Italy’s celebrated archaeological site of Pompeii is compared and contrasted with nearby Herculaneum in terms of art, architecture, visitor experience, and (of course) geology.

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25 August 2017

Friday fold: Villa Romana di Casale

Okay, I’ll admit this is a bit of a stretch, but here’s your Friday fold: The mosaic-covered floor of this long hallway in the Villa Romana di Casale in central Sicily shows profound warping. The middle shadowed area sags downward by at least a meter, maybe more. It’s not a geological material that’s been deformed, but an architectural element instead. Still: the principle of original horizontality applies to floors as …

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18 August 2017

Friday folds: the Roman Forum

When in Rome, do Friday folds as the Romans do? Here are some images from my brief, sweltering visit to the Roman Forum(s) this past summer. The whole region is a jumblepile of ancient ruins in a thousand styles. Almost nothing is labeled. It looks like this: This particular building held up a bit better, and its lovely columns sported some folded marbles: Close-up shots to show the folding internal …

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20 January 2015

Building stones of the Acropolis (Athens, Greece)

As a follow-up to my post about the geology of the Acropolis klippe in Athens, Greece, and in the spirit of my post on the building stones of the Haghia Sophia in İstabul, Turkey, let’s turn our attention today to the various rocks that ancient Greeks used to construct the buildings of the Acropolis, such as the Parthenon. When we went to Greece in September, we didn’t just look at …

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17 January 2015

Geology of the Acropolis (Athens, Greece)

When visiting Athens, Greece, you are drawn to the Parthenon’s grand architecture atop the hill called the Acropolis. But why is the Acropolis a hill?

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6 November 2014

Santorini ashfall and Akrotiri

Santorini is an island with nice exposures of the Tethyan subduction complex, yes. But did you know there’s also a volcano there? 🙂 Here’s a shot of some snorkelers, with a lovely stack of pyroclastics rising up behind them. Ash, lapilli, more ash — Santorini’s volcano has been very active over the years. This is a prodigious quantity of volcanic material. In the year 1627 BCE, the eruption of Santorini’s …

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5 June 2013

Stone tools of the Piney Branch quarry, DC

Archaeology meets geology in this visit to the Piney Branch valley of Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C. Cretaceous deposits of cobbles of Cambrian quartzite were quarried by Native Americans and modified into tools thanks to the fact that they break with a conchoidal fracture.

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1 January 2013

Vulture petroglyph from Castle Gardens, Wyoming

Happy new year! Time marches on – and here’s a reminder of times past… Check this out – a couple of what appear to be vultures, etched by native Americans into the siltstone at Castle Gardens, Wyoming: Diameter of the outer circle is probably 1.5 or 2 feet. My annotated (and generally embelished) version: I love the “hunched” shoulders on these birds, and their expressionless faces. What’s the small inner …

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5 October 2011

Two Sisters

All this talk about footprints and tail traces, and I haven’t even shown you any “for sure” dinosaur fossils. Well, let’s remedy that today. We return now to the scene: exposures of the Jurassic Morrison Formation, on the east side of the Bighorn Basin, just north of Shell, Wyoming. I was wandering around, finding things like ripples and lichens and cobbles of chert that had multiple intersecting conchoidal fractures, and …

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11 May 2011

Pamukkale 4: Hierapolis

Atop the glorious pile of travertine that is Pamukkale (photos 1, 2, & 3), there is an ancient ruined city called Hierapolis. It was founded by the Romans in the second century BC, and was constructed (not surprisingly) from the most common locally available stone: travertine. A tomb with a view: This last one is a tomb, partially engulfed by laminations of calcite… Time and travertine wait for no man:

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