Sharpen your trowels

If there is one thing archaeologists like to do more than dig, it is debate, often fiercely. And no one debates with more passion than the Greeks. The tomb at Amphipolis is now under re-evaluation. Oh, yeah! Archaeology_Trowel

“Katerina Peristeri, the chief archaeologist of Amphipolis, has not presented any evidence that the tomb belongs to the 4th c. BC. Instead, she attacked in the media Olga Palagia, who presented a plausible case of dating the tomb in the Roman period, based on the existing finds. Since the excavation became food for the media, I would suggest that they make public ALL of their evidence, so that the debate can start. Until then, I will consider the tomb Roman.” Constantina Katsari 

So, after fishing around for published opinions (newspapers and internet), I see that we may have a possibly ROMAN tomb from the late Republic. Perhaps there will be human remains. This is gonna be good, folks. *grabs popcorn and ouzo*

The Home Office

Yes, I finally have one of my own. The walls of the tiny bedroom that once belonged to my sprouts is now mine; the walls are painted, the floors cleaned, the new light fixture hung. The gorgeous posh rug I bought doesn’t fit (too big) and the furniture hasn’t arrived yet, but I have one.

I have a tablinum. Well, not really a tablinum.

The home office is a very old idea. A very male idea. Every Roman man who enjoyed some level of status, wealth, and client dependents had a tablinum in his home. But it was not a place to hide away, read the latest scroll best-sellers and write adventure novels. If he had time for those civilized activities, he’d have and use his private library (bibliotheca). One had to be quite wealthy to have a personal library in the home. And the leisure time to enjoy it.

No, the home office was a public place, a place to be seen, sitting in one’s chair reviewing the ledgers and counting up the household profits and expenditures. Usually the tablinum was adjacent to the atrium, the assembly hall at the front of a Roman home. Since the doors to a Roman house were left open during many hours of the day, passers-by strolling down the street could (and were expected to) look in, see the well-appointed spacious atrium and then, behind it, the master’s tablinum.


And there in the tablinum, the dominus of the family would sit in his chair, back lit by the light of the next space, the internal garden or peristylium. With the right lighting, he must have appeared divine. The tablinum had no doors and was often elevated, accessed by a step or two.

The tablinum was a stage.

The dominus was the performer, acting his role as a responsible citizen for public consumption and approval. Here he would display some of his costliest artwork and the portraits of his illustrious ancestors. Here he would hear the requests of his clients and dole out rewards for loyalty. Here he would act as a good Roman man was expected to act: noble, generous, virtuous and solicitous.

I don’t have clients or costly artwork or illustrious ancestors. I have a door that I can close to hide away and write. So no, I don’t have a tablinum.

But I do have a home office.

At least, until one of the sprouts moves back in.

Fictional vs. real life archaeological discoveries


Charlie Hughes from Dominus back when you was a young grad student (sketch by Fiona Fu)

So, the archaeological mystery in Dominus begins with a medieval well, a collapsed wall, and unburied skeletons discovered at an ancient Roman villa site located just outside of Rome. But damn, real life is stranger (and better) than fiction. The on-going exploration of this late 4th century BCE Greek tomb is absolutely fabtastic. Great interactive maps, photos and excellent drawings though most likely not (like, um no) Alexander’s tomb. Bit of sensational ministry PR, me thinks. Happens. 

In book 2 of the Dominus series, Stefano and Charlie return to the mysterious underground corridor in the dead of night.

My guest blog post

Another blog post by little ol’ me about writing history and Romans in gay and m/m romance fiction. Read it HERE:


Maps are fun


The Roman Empire in the year that Trajan died while on campaign in the east. Click on the image for a larger version.

The Trophy of Marius… or rather, Domitian.


“This panoply of war trophies was misidentified during the Renaissance as “Trophei di Mario” (Trophies of Marius), referring to Gaius Marius (157-86 BC). The Roman General and Consul (elected Consul an unprecedented 7 times) was considered the third founder of Rome due to his defeat of the invading Germanic Cimbri and Teutonic tribes. He was popular for hundreds of years after his death. The panoply is actually from the time of Domitian, and represents trophies from his battles against the Dacian King Decebalus in 85 AD and his return after the loss of the 5th Legion’s battle standard in 86 through 88 AD. The war was eventually put on hold with a treaty and tribute while troops were built up, until finally Trajan completed the job during his renowned Dacian War campaigns of 101-102 and 105-106 AD (during which Trajan seized the Dacian gold and silver mines, and treasure ($474.3 million silver and $10.55 billion gold) improving the Roman economy tremendously).”


JP adds: The amount of wealth brought back to Rome as a result of Trajan’s Dacian Wars was extraordinary. But did Trajan find all the gold? 


Welcome to my new blog. I’ll be posting teasers, links to draft chapters, information about my stories and books, and random tidbits of information related to ancient Rome. For photos of m/m loving and other assorted eye candy, please visit my Tumblr page.