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.