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.[…]

The Fake News that Sealed the Fate of Antony and Cleopatra

Getting it on? Wikipedia Was a forged document responsible for the defeat of Mark Antony and the rise of Rome’s first emperor? By Dr. Eve MacDonald / 01.12.2017 Teaching Fellow in Ancient History University of Reading The papers and social media are today full of claims of fake news; back and forth the accusations fly that one side of the political divide in the US has[…]

Suetonius’s ‘The Twelve Caesars’: Vice and Virtue in Ancient Rome

Giovanni Cavino, I primi dodici imperatori Romani (‘The first twelve Roman emperors’), plaquettes produced at Padua, c. 1550. Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA Suetonius’s unforgettable tales of sex, scandal, and debauchery have ensured that his writing has played a significant role in shaping our perceptions of imperial Rome. By Dr. Caillan Davenport / 01.10.2018 Senior Lecturer in Classics and Ancient History and ARC DECRA Senior[…]

Did All Roads Actually Lead to Rome?

The Peutinger Table. Reproduction by Conradi Millieri – Ulrich Harsch Bibliotheca Augustana. Wikimedia Commons Today the phrase ‘all roads leads to Rome’ means that there’s more than one way to reach the same goal. But in Ancient Rome, all roads really did lead to the eternal city, which was at the centre of a vast road network.    By Dr. Caillan Davenport (left) and Dr. Shushma Malik (right) / 01.19.2017 Caillan: Senior[…]

The Gods Behind the Days of the Week

The Roman weekday ‘dies Veneris’ was named after the planet Venus, which in turn took its name from Venus, goddess of love. Detail from Venus and Mars, Botticelli, tempera on panel (c1483). / Wikimedia Commons The origins of our days of the week lie with the Romans. Three are named for planets, the other four gods. By Dr. Margaret Clunies Ross / 01.01.2018 Emeritus Professor of English Language and[…]

Where Do the Names of Our Months Come From?

Detail from the Roman-era Sousse Mosaic Calendar, El Jem, Tunisia. Ad Meskens / Wikimedia Commons Our lives run on Roman time. By Dr. Caillan Davenport / 01.10.2018 Senior Lecturer in Classics and Ancient History and ARC DECRA Senior Research Fellow The University of Queensland Our lives run on Roman time. Birthdays, wedding anniversaries, and public holidays are regulated[…]

Why the Romans Weren’t Quite as Clean as You Might Have Thought

The baths at Bath, England. Romans by Shutterstock The Romans are well known for introducing sanitation to much of their empire – but did it improve their health? By Dr. Piers Mitchell / 01.08.2016 Affiliated Lecturer in Biological Anthropology University of Cambridge Prior to the Romans, Greece was the only part of Europe to have had toilets. But by the[…]

Herodotus, Tacitus, and Eyewitness Reporting in Ancient Greece and Rome

News in ancient Greece Greek and Roman historians were also known to fudge or fabricate their time in the field. By Dr. Timothy Joseph / 02.23.2015 Associate Professor of Classics College of the Holy Cross Eyewitness reporting in ancient times The historians of ancient Greece and Rome placed a high priority on eyewitness reporting, on being there and seeing[…]

A History of the Byzantine Empire: Rome in the East

The Justinian Mosaic / Creative Commons Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 03.21.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief 1 – Byzantium: The New Rome 1.1 – Naming of the Byzantine Empire While the Western Roman Empire fell, the Eastern Roman Empire, now known as the Byzantine Empire, thrived. 1.1.1 – Introduction Map of Constantinople: A map of Constantinople,[…]

Has History Got Roman Emperor Tiberius All Wrong?

Tiberius post-conservation on view at the Getty Villa. Statue of Tiberius (detail), Roman, A.D. 37, Bronze, 96 7/8 in. (246 cm) high. Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompei – Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, Laboratorio di Conservazione e Restauro Rome’s second emperor may have been far less monstrous and depraved than the[…]

Helvius Cinna and Julius Caesar: Beware the Ides of March!

The Assassination of Julius Caesar, by Vincenzo Camuccini, 1804 / Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea via Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Peter Kruschwitz / 03.08.2016 Professor of Classics Fellow of the Pontifical Academy for Latin (Pontificia Academia Latinitatis) University of Reading Helvius Cinna, now virtually unknown to the wider public, once was one of Rome’s finest, most talented, highly acclaimed poets[…]

The Rubicon: How Julius Caesar Started a Big War by Crossing a Small Stream

A bust from the National Archaeological Museum in Naples depicts Julius Caesar, whose popularity skyrocketed after his conquest of Gaul, threatening the power of Rome’s nobility.  / PHOTOGRAPH BY DE AGOSTINI By Dr. Fernando Lillo Redonet / March 2017 Professor of Latin and Classics IES San Tomé de Freixeiro Introduction On January 10, 49 B.C., on the[…]

Beware the Ides of March

Baffling calendars, made-up quotes, and ominous livers underlie the story of Julius Caesar’s death. By Shelby Brown / 03.14.2014 Classical archaeologist and classicist Education Specialist for Academic and Adult Audiences J. Paul Getty Museum Julius Caesar, the famous dictator, was assassinated in 44 B.C. on the “Ides” of March. We’ve all heard of the Ides—but what exactly[…]

The Art of the Romans from the Early Republic to the Fall of the Empire

Procession on the Ara Pacis / Creative Commons Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 03.08.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief 1 – Introduction to the Romans 1.1 – Introduction Rome was founded in the mid-eighth century BCE by eight tribes who settled in Etruria and on the famous Seven Hills. 1.1.1 – Foundation Myths The Romans relied on[…]

Women and Property Law in Ancient Rome

Cornelia Africana / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Peter Kruschwitz / 03.08.2018 Professor of Classics Fellow of the Pontifical Academy for Latin (Pontificia Academia Latinitatis) University of Reading In 195 B. C., Rome’s women had had enough. It had been for almost exactly twenty years that, due to a decision taken in 215 B. C., at the height of the Second Punic[…]

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[…]