Banking in the Roman World

Roman bronze balance weights. Probably used by a goldsmith or chemist. Imperial period. (Archaeological Museum, Como, Italy) / Photo by Mark Cartwright, Creative Commons Just as in other ancient civilizations, the first banks in Rome began in the temples consecrated to the ancient Gods. By Victor Labate / 11.17.2016 Ancient Roman Historian Romae Vitam Just as in other ancient[…]

Roman Emperor Claudius: Low Expectations, High Performance

Large grain marble head believed to be a local (Mediolanum) copy of an official portrait of Roman emperor Claudius (41-54 CE). (Archaeological Museum, Milan) / Photo by Mark Cartwright, Creative Commons Claudius was found quivering behind a set of curtains, fearing for his own life, and named emperor after Caligula’s death. By Donald L. Wasson / 10.18.2011 Professor of[…]

The Fall and Rise and Fall of Pompeii

The view inside Pompeii’s old granary (Francesco Lastrucci) The famous archaeological treasure is falling into scandalous decline, even as its sister city Herculaneum is rising from the ashes. By Joshua Hammer / 07.2015 On a sweltering summer afternoon, Antonio Irlando leads me down the Via dell’Abbondanza, the main thoroughfare in first-century Pompeii. The architect and conservation[…]

The Roman Republic: Its Rise, Growth, and Transition to Empire

Ruins of the Roman Forum / Wikimedia Commons The early history of the Roman Republic was one of fierce external pressure accompanied by sharp internal tensions. The Romans’ triumph over both these challenges laid the foundations for their future. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 07.12.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Introduction Latins, Greeks and Etruscans In[…]

Food in the Roman World

A view of the millstones and oven of a bakery (Pistrinium) in the Roman town of Pompeii which was buried in volcanic ash following the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE. The millstones have square sockets in which wooden beams would have been placed and harnessed to mules in order to turn the stones and so grind the grain[…]

Slavs: The Byzantine ‘Sclaveni’, Barbarian Enemies of Rome

Painting by Laurits Tuxen showing a Christian Bishop displacing an image of the pagan Slavic deities during the Christianisation process of the Slavic culture. Most the Slavic mythology and lore was lost during this time. / Photo by Laurits Tuxen, Wikimedia Commons The Slavs are the least documented group among the so called “barbarian” enemies of Rome during late[…]

The Agora in Ancient Greece and Rome

A model of the agora of Athens at its maximum extension during the 2nd century CE. (Agora Museum, Athens) / Photo by Mark Cartwright, Creative Commons The word Agora was an ‘open place of assembly’ in the ancient Graeco-Roman world. By Dr. Joshua J. Mark / 09.02.2009 Professor of Philosophy Marist College The word Agora (pronounced ‘Ah-go-RAH’) is Greek for ‘open place of assembly’ and, early[…]

Roman Era Map Shows Large Now-Sunken Island Off Black Sea Coast

Location of the sunken island of Cyanida / Kianida on Ptolemy’s 9th European Map (Nona Europae Tabula) published in the Reichenbach Monastery in 1467. The sizable island was likely located off the coast of the spot of today’s Black Sea border of Bulgaria and Turkey. Map: Wikipedia, National Library in Warsaw, Poland A sizable but now[…]

Rediscovering a ‘Lost’ Roman Frontier from the Air

Rewriting history from the air. William S Hanson Scrutinizing archives of aerial photography, we have been able to identify as Roman two more walls that will transform our understanding of the frontier of the Roman Empire in Eastern Europe.    By Dr. William S. Hanson and Dr. Ioana Oltean / 09.16.2013 Hanson: Professor of Roman Archaeology,[…]

The Grim Reality of the Brothels of Pompeii

Brothels in Pompeii were decorated with murals depicting erotic and exotic scenes: but the reality was far more brutal and mundane. Thomas Shahan/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY Though their activities were depicted alluringly in murals, the sex workers of Pompeii were slaves who lived hard lives. By Dr. Marguerite Johnson / 12.12.2017 Professor of Classics University of Newcastle Like the anxious men who began excavations at[…]

The Erotic Art of Ancient Greece and Rome

A fragment of a wall painting showing two lovers in bed from the House of L Caecilius Jucundus in Pompeii, now at Naples National Archaeological Museum. Wikimedia Commons From phallus-shaped wind chimes to explicit erotica on lamps and cups, sex is everywhere in ancient Greek and Roman art. But our interpretations of these images say much about our own culture. By Dr. Craig Barker / 02.22.2018[…]

Rome, 753 BCE: How Do We Determine When a City was “Founded”?

What happens to Romulus and Remus? Wolfgang Zwanzger/Shutterstock Questions of how, and when, a city “founded”. By Dr. Laura Swift / 08.17.2014 Lecturer in Classical Studies The Open University It has been reported that new archaeological finds have pushed back the age of Rome. A team of archaeologists discovered the remains of a wall built to channel water, which dates[…]

What We’re Finding as We Excavate Halmyris, a Frontier Fort of the Roman Empire

Excavating the eastern wall section of Halmyris in 2016. Emily Hanscam, Author provided Excavating the history of migration along the frontier of the Danube. By Emily Hanscam / 07.25.2017 PhD Candidate in Archaeology Durham University Today, some of the frontiers of the Roman Empire are now national boundaries, but in antiquity these spaces functioned very differently from how we understand borders today. I am part of a[…]

Rome’s Flaminian Obelisk: An Epic Journey from Divine Egyptian Symbol to Tourist Attraction

Piazza del Popolo. Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-ND From the Temple of Heliopolis to the centre of Rome, the massive stone column has boosted the egos of several powerful men. By Dr. Nicky Nielsen / 05.03.2018 Lecturer in Egyptology University of Manchester It’s a great place to sit in the shade and enjoy a gelato. The base of the Flaminian Obelisk[…]

How the Discovery of Julius Caesar’s First Landing Point in Britain Could Change History

Wellcome Trust/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA At Ebbsfleet, in northeast Kent, archaeologists have finally uncovered the site where JuliusCaesar’s fleet landed in 54 BCE By Dr. Andrew Fitzpatrick / 11.29.2017 Research Associate University of Leicester During the nine-year-long Battle for Gaul, Julius Caesar fought his way across northwest Europe. He invaded Britain twice; in 55BC, and again in 54BC. But while archaeologists have found evidence of the[…]

Rome’s First Emperor Died 2,000 Years Ago – His Tomb is Now Used as a Toilet

Not so august now. Stefano Carniccio/Shutterstock Monument restoration requires lacking funds. By Alice Borchi / 08.19.2014 PhD Candidate, University of Warwick Research Fellow, University of Hull Augustus, who died 2000 years ago, was the first emperor of Rome. He brought peace after the turmoil in the republic after the assassination of Julius Caesar when he defeated[…]

The Pax Romana: Its Rise and Decline

Angled shot of the Colosseum in Rome / Photo by Jimmy Walker, Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Nicholas K. Rauh Professor of Classics Purdue University EARLY ROMAN DYNASTIES (27 BCE – 180 CE) Julio-Claudian Dynasty 27 BC – 68 AD Augustus 27 BC – 14 AD Tiberius 14 AD – 37 AD Caligula 37-41 Claudius 41-54 Nero 54-68[…]

The Voyages of a Crouching Venus

An over-life-size statue of the goddess Venus is the centerpiece of J. Paul Getty, the Collector (Gallery 105). The J. Paul Getty Museum, 55.AA.10 This over-life-size sculpture was part of aristocratic English collections throughout the nineteenth century before joining J. Paul Getty’s new museum in 1955. By Judith Barr / 04.24.2018 Curatorial Assistant in Antiquities[…]

The Beauty of Greek and Roman Glass

Greek and Roman Glass (214) in the reinstalled Getty Villa Centuries-old glassworking techniques dazzle the modern eye at the Getty Villa. By Sara E. Cole / 05.03.2018 Curatorial Assistant, Antiquities Department J. Paul Getty Museum With its delicate contours, vibrant colors, and intricate surface ornamentation, Greek and Roman glass made in antiquity is still a delight to[…]

Shifting Roman Attitudes in Children’s Sarcophagi

By Dr. Beryl Rawson Vale Professor Emerita Professor of Classics and Ancient History Australian National University The sarcophagi shown below can be used to examine changing notions of childhood over time in the ancient Roman world.  Death is part of every society, but the rituals and objects surrounding death have varied across centuries and continents. They[…]

Ancient Roman Antonine Wall and Imperial Propaganda

The Summerston distance stone from the Antonine Wall, which was found near Bearsden, was one artefact successfully tested for pigment. Photo: The Hunterian Museum / University of Glasgow By Ivan Dikov / 04.22.2018 The 2nd century AD Antonine Wall in Scotland, the northernmost border wall built by the Ancient Romans, was painted in bright colors at least partly,[…]

Ancient Roman Tondo at Getty Inspires New Research of “Shield Portraiture”

Left: Tondo with the Bust of a Man, A.D. 300–400, Roman. Marble, 22 5/8 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 73.AA.113. Right: Gallery shot of tondo. Photo: Nicole Budrovich The return of an unusual marble bust to the Getty Villa galleries sparks new research and discoveries. By Nicole Budrovich / 02.17.2018 Curatorial Assistant, Department of[…]

How Did 4th-Century Roman Coins End Up in a Medieval Japanese Castle?

Roman coins were discovered in Katsuren castle in Uruma, Okinawa, southwestern Japan. EPA/Uruma City Education Board Is this evidence that Rome traded with Japan? Almost certainly not. By Dr. Kevin Butcher / 10.03.2016 Professor of Classics and Ancient History University of Warwick The recent discovery of Roman coins in controlled excavations of a castle in Japan prompted the inevitable[…]

Barbarians, Gladiators, and Head Cults: Roman London Uncovered

Keeping your head up was tough in Roman times. Public domain During a 1988 excavation on London Wall 39 human skulls were discovered. But they remained shrouded in mystery. By Dr. Richard Hingley / 01.17.2014 Professor of Archaeology Durham University During a 1988 excavation on London Wall 39 human skulls were discovered. But they remained shrouded in mystery.[…]