For archaeology lovers, there's no place like Rome.
The next best thing, however, is the the 'ArchaeologyFest' film series which began Friday evening in the Meese Auditorium and continues until next weekend. The film series, a benefit for the Archaeology Channel, will showcase eight movies in all.
First on the roster was 'Hidden Worlds: Underground Rome,' which revealed the many layers of Roman history in a vivid and dynamic way. Viewing some of the impressive remains of the Roman Empire naturally sparks the desire to travel there. The film tells the stories of several individuals who have been captivated by Rome's history, a history that is marked by numerous earthquakes and massive engineering projects.
Viewer Judy Bockstahler's daughter lives in Rome and is captivated by the city's history.
'I love archaeology. I've always thought it was fascinating,' said Bockstahler.
Moving on from a culture of wine and cheese to boot straps and bull horns, the second film held a slightly different view of the world.
'The Wild West Uncovered: The Rise and Fall of Virginia City,' makes no pretense at revealing ancient history. Approximately 130 years ago Virginia City, Nev., was 'the place to be.' Today, the population totals approximately 800 people.
Virginia City is described in the film as 'the closest we can come to Pompeii.' The town was named after Old Virginia, where the gold sparked a mining trend that would fuel a bustling frontier on the outskirts of Nevada.
One of Virginia City's most fomous residents was the novelist and journalist Mark Twain. Twain's associates believed that the city's residents were wealthy, contemplated building a church and savored a good lie.
Despite its white-washed appearance today, the remains of the old Virginia City lay beneath the ground, waiting to be discovered. The city was never engulfed in a volcano, as was the case in Pompeii, but artifacts and ruins have to go somewhere.
The series moved on from the Wild West to the mysterious ruins of Egypt with 'Unlocking Pharaoh's Cellar.' The screening revealed thousands of rare and precious artifacts from the Egyptian museum in Cairo. After the intermission, viewers were presented with a tasty finale, 'Chocolate: Pathway to the Gods.' The film surrounded a mouth-watering voyage into the 3,000 year-old history of chocolate in Mesoamerica and Europe.
This Friday, Nov. 14, the seiries will feature an Asian experience with 'From Hutong to Highrise: The Transformation of Beijing,' and 'The Giant Buddhas.' This film documents the destruction of two huge Buddha statues in Afghanistan.
Saturday, Nov. 15 is the final showing, beginning with 'Yamana: Nomads of the Fire,' which tells of the extinction of Indigenous Tierra del Fuegans. 'Komi: A Journey Across the Arctic' follows Alexei and Vassili as they heard 5,000 reindeer around the Arctic Circle. Both films offer insight into the struggles of indigenous peoples, both past and present.
The films at the 'ArcheologyFest' were chosen from more than 80 film entries. Next year the festival will be held in Eugene from May 19 to May 23. A total of 86 entries from 25 countries have already been submitted for 2009.
Admission is $6 at the door, and children under 12 are admitted free. Each showing begins at 7:30 p.m. For more information, call Richard Pettigrew at 541-345-5538.