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Read, Watch and Listen

(Photo: Simon Keay/Portus Project)

Interdisciplinary Research Environment: The complexity and richness of this site qualify it well for the use of scientific techniques as well as those more traditionally associated with the Humanities, thereby promoting an inter-disciplinary approach to studying the past. Analyses of sedimentary deposits and micro-fauna from deep cores drilled into the Claudian basin, quays and canals have taught us much about the use of water-spaces at Portus. Its environment, by contrast, is being studied by means of carbonized seeds and ancient pollen, while ceramics have been tracked to their widely differing places of origin across the Mediterranean by analysing the petrology of the minerals found within their clay matrix. Other scientific approaches include marine and terrestrial geophysical survey, computer visualization of project results and biological profiling of ancient skeletons.

(Photo: Hembo Pagi/Portus Project)

Student Involvement: The huge cost of large-scale excavations at Classical sites means that they are much rarer today than they used to be. However, the inter-disciplinary and ethical challenges inherent to these, and the range of techniques to which they are suited, means that they are ideal for training the next generation of Classical archaeologists in field and analytical techniques, as well giving them familiarity with the material culture of the Classical world. An AHRC project studentship in Roman ceramics, for example, has addressed one of our research questions and generated deep knowledge of one class of material, while excavation data have provided dissertation topics for MSc Computing students. Furthermore, countless undergraduate students from Southampton, Cambridge, Oxford, Aix-Marseille, Ghent, Roma Tre, Roma La Sapienza, Seville and Tarragona have had their first taste of Roman Mediterranean archaeology in this unique context.

(Image: James Miles/ Portus Project)

Data Capture: The Portus Project has worked with technology consultants and researchers to develop and evaluate various methods for capturing archaeological data. These include methods for recording buildings such as laser scanning and gigapixel imaging, and objects, including photogrammetry and Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI). We have also experimented with novel capture tools such as Microsoft Kinect and wearable cameras like Looxcie and GoPro as a way of enhancing information exchange and student involvement in the research process.

(Photo: Geert Verhoeven/ Portus Project)

International Collaboration: International collaboration is of key importance for a project of this scope. The Italian archaeological Superintendency for Rome was a key partner at its inception and subsequently, while the British School at Rome has been a key logistical centre. In addition to these institutions, we have worked closely with colleagues at the CNRS/University of Lyon on deep coring, received advice on Roman shipping by the University of Aix-Marseille, ancient wood by Cornell University and infra-red and aerial photography by Ghent University, while expertise on a variety of Roman finds has been supplied by colleagues at research institutions in Italy.

(James Miles/Matthew HarrisonGrant Cox/Portus Project)

Data Analysis and Presentation: Computer techniques have been used to inform our interpretative processes in many ways. For example, during the excavations of Building 5, a large structure of Trajanic date built for ship construction or repair, we began by integrating 3D geophysical data with that from excavation and laser scanning. This provided us with a framework upon which to build computer structural models so that we could test likely building forms. This in turn enabled us to better understand the building that we are studying and identify likely architectural comparanda. Furthermore we have undertaken the procedural simulation of this and other buildings, which have then been used to provoke discussions with colleagues about the possible uses and functions. A number of possible interpretations were then worked up by a 3D computer graphic artist. Portus has in turn been able to train students crossing these disciplinary boundaries.

(Image: Grant Cox/ Portus Project)

Visual Representation: The Portus Project has explored the creation of alternative methods for representing interpretations of the site, and the methods employed on the project, and for delivering these online, in exhibitions, publications and on site. This has included the production of computer graphic models, and also collaboration with professional photographers and with artists. For example, Rose Ferraby produced a series of screen prints reflecting archaeological processes such as geophysics and aerial photography in use at Portus. We have also looked at early plans of the site, including that of Rodolfo Lanciani and Italo Gismondi, and are currently examining contemporary Roman representations of the port, in particular the reverse of a sestertius of AD 112-114 showing the Trajanic basin and surrounding buildings., with Bernard Woytek (Institut für Kulturgeschichte der Antike der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften).

(Photo: Portus Project)

Outreach: We have been keen to share the results of our research from the start of the Portus Project, both within the academic community and beyond. Our outreach strategy was planned around international press conferences and public lectures in Italy, France and the UK, while project results featured in a widely aired programme made by the BBC and Discovery US. All of this has raised the profile of the site and stimulated interest at the local and international level. We have hosted many guided visits by interested amateurs, academics, local landowners, school children, US and Italian university students and members of foreign academies. In the UK we have also involved local school children in the project.  We were also visited by HRH Princess Alexandra in 2008, and on several occasions by HM Ambassador to Italy.

Rome (Photo: Simon Keay/Portus Project)

Raising Awareness of Portus: One of the academic impacts of the projects has been a raised awareness of the significance of Portus in discussions as to how Rome’s commercial and administrative influence was mediated across the Mediterranean basin. Another has focused upon the role of Computer Graphic Imagery in the archaeological interpretation process and in communicating this with interested users. Our work has also had considerable impact beyond academia. Our stakeholders have included our colleagues within the Italian Archaeological Superintendancy of Rome, with whom we are sharing practice on the recording and visualization of complex archaeological sites for the public, companies such as Microsoft Research, whose products have been trialled at Portus, and tour companies who are interested in including the site on their itineraries. The project has also facilitated the leveraging of additional research grant applications in the UK and beyond.

(Portus Project/UC Berkeley/Moscow State University/MSR)

Knowledge Exchange: One aim of the Portus Project has been to develop and enhance collaborations between academic and other organisations and individuals. This includes the development and application of digital methods of value both to the Portus Project and to industrial, government and third sector partners. For example, we worked with L-P: Archaeology to develop and test the functionality of their new ARK database. These developments have fed into their other commercial and research contracts. The project has also worked with Microsoft Research (MSR) on areas such as data capture, research data management and publication and learning technologies.

(Photo: Hembo Pagi/ Portus Project)

Initiatives Arising from the Portus Project: Our interest in linking archaeological research practice to education has developed most recently with work on virtual fieldwork and online learning. This falls under the aegis of the Portus Field School, a University of Southampton initiative arising from the Portus Project. For example, we are developing tools to provide access to field learning for disabled students, in partnership with colleagues in Geology, Geography and Oceanography. Most recently we have been developing a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) in partnership with FutureLearn focused on Portus, the Roman Mediterranean, and related archaeological practice.

(Photo Portus Project)

Research Theme 4

Although people were central to the life of any port, there is very little archaeological evidence for the inhabitants of Portus, or indeed many Roman Mediterranean ports, aside from occasional tombstones. Anthropological analyses of c. 43 inhumation burials of c. 6th c AD date from our excavations points to a predominantly male population involved in heavy physical labour with a heavy carbohydrate diet - a finding borne out from analyses of 3rd c AD burials nearby. On-going oxygen isotope evidence is investigating the possible origins of these people, as well as their foodstuffs. An idea of their cultural practices is coming from the table-wares and kitchen wares that they used, as well as from chance finds of rings and other personal possessions.

Self-portrait of Jack Ephgrave, 1931.

EP01-201 ©2013 Adrienne Livesey, Elaine Ryder and Irene Brien.

1931: An early ‘selfie’: Jack was at work in the BCC Printing Department when he took this photograph in a mirror, one of several self portraits which show how far he thought of himself as a photographer, not simply a snapshotter.​

Mr Pulman in the Artists' Department, British Cigarette Company, 1931

EP02-124. © 2013 Adrienne Livesey, Elaine Ryder and Irene Brien.

BCC’s designers at work. On the wall at the rear is a poster advertising ‘Jinbu’ – ‘Progress’ – cigarettes: two modern young women, smoking, ride a wheelbarrow. Just above them an aircraft can be glimpsed, climbing skywards. Tobacco advertising proved a powerful driving force in the development of a new urban Chinese visual culture. Ephgrave systematically photographed these talented, and now well-known, artists at work, and also documented the company’s modern printing and photographic machinery.​

The BCC and Pudong, looking towards river from the Artists's Department, 1929.

Ep02-123.  © 2013 Adrienne Livesey, Elaine Ryder and Irene Brien.

1929: Framed by two of the BCC plant’s buildings, this shot shows an ocean liner, being passed by the Libia, an Italian warship. Ephgrave took care to catch the angles of the staircases and of the plant’s sheds, composing an almost abstract study out of the technologies of power, coercion and capital.​

Workers at the B.C.C. factory, Pudong, c.1932.

Ep01-630.  © 2013 Adrienne Livesey, Elaine Ryder and Irene Brien.

Another nicely-composed shot, of factory hands gathered outside a plant office, probably taken from inside the printing department. British American Tobacco was the republican Chinese state’s single biggest taxpayer. It faced stiff competition in the cigarette market from Chinese-owned firms, which marketed their wares as ‘National Products’, and labelled buyers of British or other foreign goods as unpatriotic. Labour relations in Pudong could be difficult too because the area – and the unions – were largely controlled by very powerful gangsters.​

Biplane near Shanghai, 1927.

EP01-013. ©2013 Adrienne Livesey, Elaine Ryder and Irene Brien

The first prints in the albums were not taken by Ephgrave, but date from 1927, and were given to him by British military pilots serving with the 10,000-strong Shanghai Defence Force, sent to head off a feared Chinese nationalist assault on the foreign-controlled (and British dominated) International Settlement. A biplane flies over the countryside outside the city. The print has been damaged by the glue used to fix it in the album, but the romance of flight, and of Shanghai re-imagined, still comes through, and surely impelled the then 11-year old to collect the images.​

Aerial view of the Bund, 1927

Ep01-004. © 2013 Adrienne Livesey, Elaine Ryder and Irene Brien.

The same year and source: the riverside ‘Bund’, and wide Avenue Edward VII which marked the boundary of the International Settlement, top and the French concession, to the left. The crowded river and the meteorological signal tower remind us that Shanghai was a city on and of the water, a key point in global maritime networks; the imported cars on the streets exemplify its ostentatious modernity. The War Memorial, facing the end of Ave Edward VII locates foreign Shanghai in the European world, but the Shanghai Club, the second building north along the Bund places it in the British orbit, for this was the informal headquarters of the British presence.​

Hunjao Aerodrome after being bombed by the Japanese Air Force, 1932

EP01-394 ©2013 Adrienne Livesey, Elaine Ryder and Irene Brien.

1932: The beauty of the flight turned ugly: the wreckage of a military aircraft amongst the ruins of Hongqiao airfield, west of the International Settlement, part of the area that bore the brunt of the February 1932 war between Chinese and Japanese forces. Most Europeans supported the Japanese at this point, thinking that Chinese nationalism needed a check. Ephgrave took a camera into these blasted suburbs, recording the harrying of his city's surrounds.​

B.C.C. factory, union strike poster, 1933

Ep01-736. © 2013 Adrienne Livesey, Elaine Ryder and Irene Brien.

Shanghai industry was often a site of strife, of anti-imperialist activism, and violent responses, as well as struggles over economic issues. BCC was a particular site of unrest. ‘Down with all imperialist running dogs’ starts the hand-written poster on the left, posted during one of a series of strikes in 1933: ‘We demand that the plant implements the Factory Law’ demand the larger characters. The sequence of photographed wall posters of which this was a part, suggests that Ephgrave was probably drawn to the striking visual impression these posters make.

Shanghai Volunteer Corps Armoured Car Company, 1932

Ep01-279. © 2013 Adrienne Livesey, Elaine Ryder and Irene Brien.

Along with the International Settlement policy, the first line of foreign Shanghai's defence was the Shanghai Volunteer Corps. Ephgrave joined the Armoured Car Company, shown here at the Shanghai Race Club in 1932 preparing to have an official photograph taken. A significant proportion of young British men in particular​ joined the Corps, regularly parading through the streets, showing the strength of foreign power, and intent, then heading off to the their offices to trade. The irony was not lost on many of them; it was hardly lost on Shanghai Chinese.

An eight at 'Henli' (and a canoeist), c.1932

Ep01-699.  © 2013 Adrienne Livesey, Elaine Ryder and Irene Brien.

Sport – in Ephgrave’s case soccer, golf, and rowing – was embedded in foreign settler culture. Young Jack took many shots of the Shanghai Rowing Club’s activities outside Shanghai at a place dubbed ‘Henli’. The double-exposure may well be accidental, but Ephgrave’s decision to keep the print from it and add it to the albums suggests that he liked the effect.

At the annual basket fair in Shanghai, looking towards the Bubbling Well, 1930.

Ep01-124 © 2013 Adrienne Livesey, Elaine Ryder and Irene Brien.

1930: A crowded Shanghai street during the annual ‘Basket Fair’ which centred on the Jing’an -- ‘Bubbling Well’ – Temple, and which was held on the Buddha’s birthday. Far away from the Bund in feel, but barely a quarter of a mile west, tens of thousands of people thronged the streets and the hundreds of temporary stalls.


EP01-763 © 2013 Adrienne Livesey, Elaine Ryder and Irene Brien.

Street photographer: Three men examine something in front of a shop in one of a series of shots of a busy market district. Ephgrave’s attention seems to have been caught by the silk clothing of the man whose back is to his camera, but he has also caught a lively grin from a smoking passer-by.

Riverside scene, Shanghai, c.1933

Ep01-754.  © 2013 Adrienne Livesey, Elaine Ryder and Irene Brien.

What seems to be a river-side embarkation point for people getting to a ferry, or on the sampans on the right. Peddlers are selling snacks to the waiting crowd. The shot suggests the ubiquity of Ephgrave’s day-job’s craft: there is a poster for BCC’s ‘Hatamen’ cigarettes on the wall top left.

Portrait of a woman, near Shanghai, c.1933

Ep01-770. © 2013 Adrienne Livesey, Elaine Ryder and Irene Brien.

There are photographs of friends and family, the oarsmen and the well-turned-out volunteers, but this portrait of a pensive woman haunts us. It is one of a number of such finds in this collection, one family’s private archive, but a distinctive and now uncovered vision of a city’s tangled history.

The Cnut Gospel, Southern England, early 11th century (between 1017-1020).

Owned by Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales (d. 1612). Royal 1 D. ix, f. 45

The Christian Monarch

King Cnut as Benefactor of the Church

The inscription on the left-hand page in this book of the Gospels identifies King Cnut as a benefactor of the monastic community at Christ Church, Canterbury. Having established himself king of England by force, Cnut went to great lengths to justify his rule, and it is plausible that he might have donated this rich book to Christ Church, though there is no record of such a gift. The lavishly framed page to the right marks the beginning of the Gospel of Mark.

The Westminster Psalter, London, c. 1200 (Psalter) and 1250 (tinted drawings).

Owned by Charles II. Royal 2 A. xxii, f, 14v

A Psalter for Westminster the Coronation Church

This richly illuminated book belonged to the Benedictine abbey of St Peter, Westminster, and was probably commissioned by one of the community’s high-ranking brethren. The striking image on the left, King David portrayed as author of the Psalms, was painted by an unknown artist, probably an itinerant professional. The style shows the influence of some of the greatest artists working in southern England at the time. Further tinted drawings were added fifty years later during the period of heightened local artistic activity that accompanied Henry III’s rebuilding of Westminster Abbey.

The Henry VIII Psalter, London, c. 1540. Owned by Henry VIII. Royal 2 A. xvi, f.

Henry VIII Praying in his Bedchamber

Portrayed as we might expect him to appear at the age of 49 (his age when this book was made), Henry VIII holds a book that represents this book, his own Psalter. The writing in the margin is one of the King’s many annotations; he has written in Latin, ‘note who is blessed’. Placed at the beginning of the Psalms, Henry VIII’s portrait aligns him with King David, the supposed author of the Psalms. As seen in other copies of the Psalms in this exhibition, David’s portrait typically occupies this place in Psalters.

The Secretum secretorum, London, 1326–27. Purchased for the nation in 1952. Additional 47680, ff. 10v-11

How to be a King

Prince Edward’s Manual of Kingship

The king’s clerk Walter of Milemete commissioned this manuscript of the Secretum secretorum (Secret of Secrets) as a gift for the future Edward III. In the Middle Ages the Secretum compendium of knowledge for a king was believed to be a work that the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle had composed for his pupil Alexander the Great. Here, Alexander receives the book from a messenger who bears on his girdle the heraldic arms used by Prince Edward when Earl of Chester. In the lower margins, Edward’s arms are accompanied by those of his father, Edward II, and his two uncles.

La Grande histoire César. Bruges, 1479. Owned by Edward IV. Royal 17 F. ii, f. 9r

A Biography of Julius Caesar

The scribe of this manuscript wrote that it was made in Bruges in 1479 by order of the ‘treshault, tres excellent, et tres victorieux prince’ (very exalted, excellent and victorious prince) Edward IV. The copyist included a French biography of Julius Caesar, long popular with the nobility, as well as two additions that may have been made at the King’s request – an account of the reign of Augustus and a list of Roman emperors. The opening illustration shows Caesar’s fabled birth by Caesarian section, a term derived from this event.

Jean de Wavrin, Recueil des croniques d'Engleterre, vol. 1. Bruges, c. 1475.

Owned by Edward IV. Royal 15 E. iv, f. 14r

Edward IV: Founder of the Old Royal Library

A Chronicle of English History

Among the most impressive and lavishly illustrated of Edward IV’s collection of historical texts are two volumes containing part of the Recueil des croniques d’Engleterre (Chronicle of England) by Jean de Wavrin. Monumental in scale, this compilation in French prose told the history of Britain from its legendary origins to the reign of Edward IV. Its completion took the noble author the last 25 years of his life. In the first volume (displayed here) a large illustration shows Wavrin presenting his book to Edward IV.

Thomas Hoccleve, Regement of Princes, England, c. 1430–38

Owned by Prince Henry Frederick (d. 1612), Royal 17 D. vi, f. 40.

A Book of Advice for Prince Harry

The author Thomas Hoccleve is shown here presenting his book, the Regement of Princes, to the future Henry V. He completed this poem of instruction and political advice in 1410–11, when Henry IV was incapacitated by illness and Prince Henry governing on his behalf. None of the surviving copies of the Regement of Princes seems to be the book that Thomas Hoccleve presented to the Prince. This manuscript belonged to William Fitz Alan, Earl of Arundel, and bears his coats of arms.

Matthew Paris, maps from the Historia Anglorum and Chronica Maiora, St Albans, c. 1250.

Owned by Prince Henry Frederick (d. 1612), Royal 14 C. vii, f. 4v

The World’s Knowledge

Route-Map to the Holy Land

The St Albans monk Matthew Paris (died 1259) never made the journey to the Holy Land. He did however draw a fascinating map of the pilgrimage route from England to Jerusalem. It is displayed on four parchment sheets and divided in seven sections that allow the viewer to follow in the footsteps of a medieval pilgrim. The route begins in London and progresses from the bottom to the top of each page. The final destination is the Holy Land depicted on two leaves.

Jean Rotz, Boke of Idrography, Dieppe and England, c. 1535-42

Royal 20 E. ix, f. 28.

Henry VIII’s Atlas

Jean Rotz, an expert compiler of sea charts and navigator from Dieppe, left the court of Francis I of France to enter the service of Henry VIII. In 1542, he presented his Boke of Idrography to the English monarch, wishing to provide a ‘recreation of the king’s mind’. The volume was also a tool for learning some of the principles of navigation and discovering the countries of the world and their inhabitants. Rotz’s atlas contains 11 regional charts. Here, the map of the coast of Brazil includes an ethnographically precise depiction of a village and several activities of the Tupinamba tribe.

Genealogical Chronicle of the English Kings. England (East Anglia?), c. 1300–07; (addition) c. 1340–42. Owned by Henry VIII Royal 14 B. vi

Royal Identities

Genealogy of the Dukes of Normandy

This royal genealogy gives unprecedented visual prominence to the ancestors of William the Conqueror. The family line of the dukes of Normandy extends from Rollo (died around 932), to Henry I, with Matilda (labelled Maud) to their left. By this means the creators of the genealogy highlighted the important dynastic change that resulted from the Conqueror’s invasion of England. They also integrated his Norman lineage into the line of English royal succession.

The Lancelot-Grail Cycle, Northern France or Flanders (St Omer or Tournai), c. 1315-25. Owned by Henry VIII. Royal 14 E. iii, f. 89

King Arthur and the Holy Grail

The Quest for the Holy Grail, the mythical chalice containing Christ’s blood, is at the centre of this beautifully illustrated collection of tales that ends with the downfall of King Arthur. The texts in this volume combine chivalric and Christian legend and omit frivolous exploits involving damsels, thereby appealing to a high-minded aristocratic patron. On the right-hand page, Lancelot is pictured taking leave of Arthur and Guinevere and later knighting his son, Galahad, who will complete the quest.

The Shrewsbury Book. Rouen, 1444–45. Royal 15 E. vi, ff. 2v-3

The European Monarch

A Wedding Present for Margaret of Anjou

This remarkable book was a gift to Margaret of Anjou from the renowned military commander John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury (died 1453), here presenting the book to her. On the right is the genealogical claim of Margaret’s husband, Henry VI, to be the rightful king of France. In the diagram the descent of Henry (lower centre) from St Louis IX (at the top) is shown both from the English line, on the right, and the French line, on the left.

Motets for Henry VIII. Southern Netherlands (Antwerp?), dated 1516. Royal 11 E. xi, f. 2

Music Written for Henry VIII

This large and grand choirbook produced for Henry VIII is filled with allegorical and symbolic imagery unique to Henry. Dominating the top centre of the page is a crowned Tudor rose of red and white. The poem below this expresses the virtues of the two roses, finally united in the King. Below is the garden of England, guarded by Henry’s supporters, the red dragon and the white greyhound, with Catherine of Aragon’s pomegranate tree. The daisies or marguerites and the yellow marigolds at the base of the rose’s stem refer to Henry’s sisters Margaret and Mary.

Applying a soft wash similar to watercolour as a base for additional layers of paint

There was no daylight this was a problem because the artists and painters had differing lighting needs, the painters needed small 110 volt 80watt portable tungsten light at 2500k, the artists needed high power 500watt halogen lighting to maximize illumination covering large areas of the dome evenly, and to approximately match daylight at 5000k to match paint colour, every time I was on site the lighting changed as workers moved around. I needed to get a soft painterly light in my images to match the original painting but the lighting was harsh and mixed I tried various methods to get this right including flash, also a ring flash it gives a softer feel to the light but nothing worked all too harsh. Eventually I used a mix of long exposures (when the scaffolding stopped swaying) and against my better judgment increased the ISO. Increases the sensitivity of the digital sensor.