The Roman Empire in West Africa

This mosaic from the Antakya Archaeological Museum, Hatay Province, Turkey dates to the 2nd Century CE and depicts a black African fisherman. By Arienne King / 03.07.2018 Historian Introduction At its fullest extent, the Roman Empire stretched from around modern-day Aswan, Egypt at its southernmost point to Great Britain in the north but the influence of the RomanEmpire went far beyond even the borders of its[…]

The Display of Art in Roman Palaces

View of the Farnese Gallery, Rome, Francesco Panini, about 1775, pen and black ink and gray wash over black chalk. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 92.GG.16 By Gail Feigenbaum (above) and Lisa Cherkerzian / 01.25.2011 Feigenbaum: Associate Director Cherkerzian: Research Assistant Getty Research Institute At a time when we’re accustomed to viewing art in museums—and[…]

Fish Sauce: Ancient Roman Condiment?

Ava Gene’s, a Roman-inspired restaurant in Portland, Ore., incorporates colatura, a modern descendant of ancient Roman fish sauce, into several of its dishes. / Photo by Deena Prichep, NPR By Deena Prichep / 10.24.2013 Fish sauce — that funky, flavor-enhancing fermented condiment — is part of what gives Southeast Asian cooking its distinctive taste. But it[…]

Did Financial Exigency Drive the Roman Empire to Embrace Christianity?

Detail of a Tapestry depicting Constantine’s Victory over Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge designed by Peter Paul Rubens  1623-1625 CE. Photographed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art by Mary Harrsch © 2011 By Mary Harrsch / 12.20.2017 Historian Writing sometime between AD 307 and AD 310, an anonymous Gallic panegyrist recorded that Constantine witnessed a pagan theophany of Apollo accompanied by Victory, offering him laurel wreaths.[…]

The Equestrian Statue of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius

Equestrian Sculpture of Marcus Aurelius, bronze, c. 173-76 C.E., (Capitoline Museums, Rome) By Dr. Jeffrey A. Becker / 08.08.2015 Professor of Classical and Near Eastern Studies Binghamton University The original location of the sculpture is unknown, though it had been housed in the Lateran Palace since the 8th century until it was placed in the center of[…]

Vinum, Vidi, Vici

Etruscan and Massalian amphorae excavated at Lattes, France. Photo: Michael Dietler A look at wine’s integral role in culture and colonialism in ancient France. By Dr. Michael Dietler / 06.29.2015 Professor of Anthropology University of Chicago I couldn’t resist the pun. In 47 B.C. dictator Julius Caesar sent a famous communiqué to Rome summing up his latest achievement:[…]

The History of the Roman Triumph

A reconstructed relief panel from the original on the Arch of Titus, Rome, c. 81 CE. The scene, showing the triumph of Titus, is carved in three-quarter view and has Titus riding a four-horse chariot (quadriga) and shows him being crowned by a personification of Victory. The goddess Roma stands in front, holding the bridle of one of the horses. The two figures[…]

The Arch of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great

Speakers: Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker. Video produced by Dr. Naraelle Hohensee, Dr. Steven Zucker and Dr. Beth Harris By Dr. Andrew Findley / 09.27.2016 Assistant Professor of Art History and Humanities Ivy Tech Community College The Emperor Constantine, called Constantine the Great, was significant for several reasons. These include his political transformation of[…]

Potions and Poisons: Tracing the ‘Witch’ and Practice of Magic to the Graeco-Roman World

The Oracle, 1880, Camillo Miola (Biacca). Oil on canvas, 42 1/2 x 56 1/4 in. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 72.PA.32 Our idea of an old witch making evil potions can be traced back to a more benign Greek origin (later morphed by the Romans). By Shelby Brown / 10.19.2015 Classical archaeologist and classicist Education Specialist for Academic and Adult Audiences[…]

The Transformation of Rome’s Forum Boarium Over the Centuries

Forum Boarium in the Imperial Age, Lanciani FUR, tab. XXVIII, detail “A very popular area exists that borders the bridges and the Circus Maximus, named for an ox located there”. – Ovid, Fasti (VI, 477-8) With the Forum Boarium the ancients defined a level zone that included the eighth and eleventh Augustan districts, located between[…]

Final and Largest of Rome’s Imperial Fora: The Forum and Markets of Trajan

Apollodorus of Damascus, The Forum of Trajan, dedicated 112 C.E., Rome Apollodorus of Damascus, The Markets of Trajan, 112 C.E., Rome By Dr. Jeffrey A. Becker / 12.09.2015 Professor of Classical and Near Eastern Studies Binghamton University An emperor worth celebrating Marble bust of Trajan, c. 108-117 C.E., 68.5 cm high (The British Museum) (photo: Chris Stroup, CC[…]

Tomb of the Scipios and the Sarcophagus of Scipio Barbatus

Plaster cast of the Tomb of Scipio Barbata in-situ, early 3rd century B.C.E. (original, Vatican Museums) (photo: Caterina A., by permission) By Dr. Jeffrey A. Becker / 12.09.2015 Professor of Classical and Near Eastern Studies Binghamton University Image and status Veristic male portrait (similar to Head of a Roman Patrician), early 1st Century B.C.E., marble, life size[…]

The Gemma Augustea: Cameo of Augustus

Upper register (detail), Dioskourides, Gemma Augustea, 9 – 12 C.E., 19 x 23 cm, double-layered sardonyx with gold, gold-plated silver (Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna) By Dr. Julia Fischer / 08.08.2015 Lecturer of Art History Georgia Southern University Head (detail), Augustus of Primaporta, 1st century C.E. (Vatican Museums) Private art Gemma Claudia, 49 C.E., 120 x 152 cm without[…]

Augustus of Primaporta: Imperial Power in Imagery

By Dr. Julia Fischer / 08.08.2015 Lecturer of Art History Georgia Southern University Augustus and the power of images Augustus of Primaporta, 1st century C.E., marble, 2.03 meters high (Vatican Museums) Today, politicians think very carefully about how they will be photographed.  Think about all the campaign commercials and print ads we are bombarded with[…]

The Eternal Guffaw: John Leech and The Comic History of Rome

Detail from John Leech’s illustration “Tarquinius Superbus makes himself king” featured in The Comic History of Rome – Internet Archive At the beginning of the 1850s, two stalwarts from the heart of London-based satirical magazine Punch, Gilbert Abbott à Beckett and John Leech, cast their mocking eye a little further back in time and published The Comic History of Rome.[…]

Once a Thief: The Vyne Ring of Senicianus

By Dr. Peter Kruschwitz / 11.29.2017 From The Petrified Muse Professor of Classics Fellow of the Pontifical Academy for Latin (Pontificia Academia Latinitatis) University of Reading I have been looking at the Latin inscriptions of Silchester recently, and in that context I came across a very remarkable item: the so-called Vyne ring. The Vyne ring, around a seal depicting (and naming) the[…]

The Maison Carrée: Ancient Roman Temple in Nîmes

Maison Carrée, c. 4-7 C.E., Colonia Nemausus (modern Nîmes, France) By Dr. Jeffrey A. Becker / 12.09.2015 Professor of Classical and Near Eastern Studies Binghamton University The so-called Maison Carrée or “square house” is an ancient Roman temple located in Nîmes in southern France. Nîmes was founded as a Roman colony (Colonia Nemausus) during the first century B.C.E. The Maison[…]

Byzantine Amphora with Christian Inscription Discovered in Roman Trimammium Fortress

The six-line inscription in Ancient Greek found on the fragment of a 6th century AD Byzantine amphora in the Trimammium Fortress in Northeast Bulgaria. Photo: Ruse Regional Museum of History By Ivan Dikov / 01.09.2018 Part of an Early Byzantine amphora with a fully preserved inscription in Ancient Greek dedicated to Jesus Christ and Virgin Mary[…]

The Ara Pacis Augustae (Altar of Augustan Peace)

Ara Pacis Augustae (Altar of Augustan Peace), 9 B.C.E. (Ara Pacis Museum, Rome, Italy) By Dr. Jeffrey A. Becker / 11.23.2015 Professor of Classical and Near Eastern Studies Binghamton University Ara Pacis Augustae (Altar of Augustan Peace), 9 B.C.E. (Ara Pacis Museum, Rome, Italy) (photo: Steven Zucker, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) The Roman state religion in microcosm The festivities of[…]

Sacrifice Preparation as Communal Ritual in Ancient Rome

Preparations for a Sacrifice, fragment from an architectural relief, c. mid-first century C.E., marble, 172 x 211 cm / 67¾ x 83⅛ inches (Musée du Louvre, Paris)  [note: the date for this relief from the Louvre’s website—beginning of the second century C.E.—is at odds with the Louvre’s publication of its catalog, Roman Art from the Louvre (2009)[…]

The Capitoline She-Wolf: Rome’s Eternal Symbol

Coin (didramma) from the “Romano-campana” series, Herakles and the wolf suckling the twins, 265 B.C.E., silver coin (Capitoline Museum, Rome) By Dr. Jaclyn Neel / 01.22.2016 Assistant Professor of Classics and Ancient History Temple University Rome’s eternal symbol? If one could choose any animal to become one’s mother, how many people would choose a wolf?[…]

Sarcophagi of the Spouses at the Louvre and Rome

Sarcophagus of the Spouses, Etruscan, c. 520-510 B.C.E., painted terracotta (Musée du Louvre) Author does not wish to be identified Sarcophagus of the Spouses (Louvre) The freedom enjoyed by Etruscan women One of the distinguishing features of Etruscan society, and one that caused much shock and horror to their Greek neighbors, was the relative freedom enjoyed[…]

The Temple of Portunus in Rome

By Dr. Jeffrey A. Becker / 12.09.2015 Professor of Classical and Near Eastern Studies Binghamton University Temple of Portunus (formerly known as Fortuna Virilis), travertine, tufa, and stucco, c. 120-80 B.C.E., Rome The Temple of Portunus is a well preserved late second or early first century B.C.E. rectangular temple in Rome, Italy. Its dedication to the God[…]

Ancient Roman Still Life Painting

Still Life with Peaches and Water Jar (left), Still Life with a Silver Tray with Prunes, Dried figs, Dates and Glass of Wine (center), and Still Life with Branch of Peaches, Fourth Style wall painting from Herculaneum, Italy, c. 62-69 C.E., fresco, 14 x 13 1/2 inches (Archaeological Museum, Naples) By Dr. Lea K. Cline / 04.22.2017 Assistant Professor of Art[…]

Roman Wall Painting Styles

Example of a Fourth Style painting, before 79 C.E., fresco, Pompeii By Dr. Jessica Leay Ambler / 08.08.2015 Professor of Humanities Southern New Hampshire University Why Pompeii? View of Mount Vesuvius from Pompeii Paintings from antiquity rarely survive—paint, after all, is a much less durable medium than stone or bronze sculpture. But it is thanks to the ancient Roman[…]