Sunday, February 13, 2011

Advertising circa 79AD.

I don't live in the past, but I will confess that I believe that civilization has gone downhill pretty steadily over the past half century. As far as English Literature goes, nothing, including Shakespeare, scaled the heights Chaucer did in the 14th Century. And for film, well, no one has yet to approach Buster Keaton and The Battleship Potemkin, unless it was Charlie Chaplin and Citizen Kane. Last night I left the Rome Opera and the splendor of Donizetti's "The Elixir of Love" and got into a Fiat blaring hip-hop until my head split.

Today I went back further in time to the ancient and semi-preserved cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Ash buried the former and corpses were found in various states of terror as they were overtaken by the pyroclastic blast (a wall of 1200-degree mud moving at 60 miles per hour.) Herculaneum was encased in mud and actually even better preserved than the more famous Pompeii, but the remains of Herculaneum are harder for archaeologists to get at--it's buried under 21 meters of concretized 2000-year-old mud.

That said, that which they have uncovered at each site is pretty spectacular. Both cities seem to have enjoyed a nice lifestyle, their houses adorned with gorgeous mosaics and frescoes.

They also had ads alongside the shells of stores which are also well-preserved. One showed a red amphora of wine as well as a green, blue and yellow one, along with different prices. 3 denarii for this wine, 5 for that. All-in-all a nice pictograph of an ad.

Today we make a big deal in advertising about data visualization and icons to represent words. The Romans had us beat.

I bet the wine was pretty good, too.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why are you in the ad world?

You're clearly a scholar who should be working at a museum or in a university!

I don't getbit.


Everyone can see the disdain you have for your industry.

Sorry, I don't get it.


Tom Detweiler

Anonymous said...

George "slow suicide" Tannenbaum. Don't give up buddy, we love you!

geo said...

Tom, I'm in advertising because I love it. I also love History and Literature and Film. Advertising allows me to study those--and in many cases apply them to my work.

Yes, there is a lot of pretense and stupidity in the business. But it has its moments of unadulterated joy as well.

Anonymous said...

Sorry does not compute.

You are a renegade mind


You could do solo much inacademis where lifelong learning is even more out of vogue than superbowl tv spots.

Tom

geo said...

Renegade minds, Tom. They don't fit anywhere. Academia or advertisemia. You do what you can and must to make a living and give your kids a better life.

Anonymous said...

ok, carpe diem

I believe your true calling is academia

I think your talents are being under utilized but "whad evah"

Tom