Category Archive 'Rome'
04 Jan 2016

How to Make Roman Bread

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In 79 A.D. in Herculaneum a baker put a loaf of bread into his oven. The oven was opened in the course of excavations in 1930. In 2013, the British Museum asked Georgio Locatelli to recreate the recipe.

12 Dec 2015

Caesar Battlesite Identified

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CaesarBattleRelics

Daily Mail:

Archaeologists claim to have proved that Julius Caesar set foot on what is now Dutch soil, destroying two Germanic tribes in a battle that left 150,000 people dead.

The tribes were massacred in the fighting with the Roman emperor in 55BC, on a battle site now known to be in Kessel, in the southern province of Brabant.

Skeletons, spearheads, swords and a helmet have been unearthed at the site over the past three decades – but until now have not been linked to Caesar’s battle. …

The two tribes, the Tencteri and the Usipetes, came from an area east of the Rhine and had asked Caesar for asylum.

But the Roman emperor refused and ordered his eight legions and cavalry to destroy them, the university said.

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05 Nov 2015

Roman Cavalry Helmet

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RomanCavalryHelmet
Roman Phrygian Type Bronze Cavalry Helmet, 100-250 AD. The helmet, terminating into the head of an eagle, has images of winged Victory. Warriors adorn the cheekpieces. Musee d’Art Classique de Mougins.

03 Jun 2015

Roman Pendant

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RomanThunderbolt
A ROMAN GOLD AND GARNET WINGED THUNDERBOLT PENDANT
CIRCA 1ST CENTURY A.D.

From Christie’s.

25 Apr 2015

Roman Parade Helmet

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RomanHelmet
Roman Parade Helmet

Roman mask helmet, 1st or more likely 2nd century AD; this facial helmet suggesting to be of Gallo-origin. These are often called ‘parade’ helmets for cavalry sports use, but it has been suggested that they were also used in combat. The psychological effect of being charged by one of these masked warriors would have been formidable. A living statue, god-like and terrifying.

Via Ratak Mondosico.

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I had the feeling myself that I’d seen that face somewhere before.

SilverSurfer1

21 Apr 2015

Margarita’s Epitaph

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Margarita1

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Peter Kruschwitz

Today, I had the immense pleasure of seeing one of my most favourite inscribed Latin poems – the epitaph for Margarita (‘Pearl’), a lap-dog, born in Gaul, deceased in second or third century Rome.

[T]his marble plaque… is preserved and on display in the British Museum in London (CIL VI 29896 cf. p. 3734 = CLE 1175; for the entry in the BM online database follow this link). …

On the right-hand side, there is a palm leaf incised as an element of decoration.

The inscription has been beautifully laid out (using aid lines) and carved – only in the penultimate letter of the final word tegit (‘covers’), the stone cutter originally made a mistake (writing teget instead of tegit, which he then tried to conceal by giving more emphasis to the I subsequently):

Unsurprisingly, this inscription has received a lot of scholarly attention.

Scholars and amateurs alike were taken by the affectionate way in which these Roman dog-owners (who remain nameless) talked about their pet. The allusion to the epitaph of the Roman poet Vergil in line 1 (Gallia me genuit, ‘Gaul sired me’, following the model of Mantua me genuit; see the learned article by Irene Frings on this topic [in German; available for free here]) was duly noted. …

The inscription, as I said, is a decent-sized marble-slab (61 x 50 cm), beautifully prepared and carved. Margarita was an imported animal from Gaul (it is unclear as to whether this is where her owners picked her up or whether they bought her in Rome as an imported animal). In addition to being a lap-dog, she served as a hound for animal hunts, roaming woods and hills.

In other words, she almost certainly was a costly, precious item owned by a wealthy aristocratic family – a family that would engage in pastimes such as hunting and keeping precious imported pets for display purposes. …

From The Petrified Muse via Ratak Monodosico.

15 Mar 2015

The Ides of March

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When I was in high school, I had Latin in 9th and 10th grade. Our Latin teacher had a curious personal custom. He sacrificed annually, in honor of Great Caesar, on the Ides of March, the male student in each class who had offended him by doing the least work and/or being the most disruptive. He sacrificed additionally one female student from each class whose selection, I fear, was based only upon his own capricious whim and covert sexual attraction.

The sacrifice consisted of the victim being bent over a desk and receiving three strokes of a paddle, delivered by a six foot+, 250 lb.+ Latin teacher laying on the strokes with a will and putting his weight behind them. (I won’t name him.) Mr. X’s paddle was a four foot long piece of 1 1/2″ thick pine, produced in our high school’s wood shop by General Curriculum students, who did not take Latin, but admired Mr. X. The paddle was roughly in the form of a Roman gladius, and its surface was scored by a series of regular lines, because it was generally believed that a blow from an uneven surface was more painful.

Mr. X had a fixed policy of assigning the duty of construing the day’s Latin assignment on the blackboard in strict and completely predictable order, going up and down the aisles of desks. Two or three of the smart kids would always actually do the Latin, (I was one of them) and it was our recognized duty to supply the translations in advance to the person who would be going to the blackboard.

Readiness to translate correctly was really vital, because Mr. X would apply his dreaded paddle to anyone who failed to write out the day’s assignment correctly on the blackboard. It was rare, but every once in a while some truly feckless idiot would neglect to seek out Kenny Hollenbach, Jack Rigrotsky, or yours truly, and would arrive at the blackboard, chalk in hand, unprepared.

Mr. X typically broke the current paddle over the defaulter’s posterior, and the mental defectives in shop class would gleefully commence the fabrication of a new, yet more elaborate, edition of the famous paddle.

Every March 15th, two 9th and 10th grade Academic Curriculum sections would look on with the same sadistic interest of Roman spectators at the gladitorial games, as Mr. X conducted his sacrifices. I can recall that he struck the pretty strawberry blonde with the well-developed embonpoint so hard that he raised dust from her skirt. We were a bit puzzled that girls actually submitted to being beaten with a paddle for no reason, but all this went on undoubtedly because the legend of Mr. X the fierce disciplinarian had enormous appeal in our local community. The whole thing was fascinating, and it all made such a good story that everyone, student and adult, in his heart of hearts, enthusiastically approved.

Mr. X would never be allowed to get away with that kind of thing today, alas! In Hades, poor Caesar must do without his sacrifice. And it is my impression that Latin instruction has rather overwhelmingly also become a thing of the past. Kids today learn Spanish. Modern languages are easier and are thought more relevant.

Teachers
My high school Latin teacher is the large chap wearing glasses. He also coached one of our sports teams.

06 Feb 2015

Learning Modern Management Techniques From Roman Slavery

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Jerry Toner, Director of Classical Studies at Churchill College, University of Cambridge and the author of The Roman Guide to Slave Management: A Treatise by Nobleman Marcus Sidonius Falx, argues that modern managers can draw lessons from the methods used by Ancient Roman masters to get the best service from their slaves.

Owning slaves and employing staff are in a simple sense a million miles apart. A comparison of the two is going to provoke, but similarities do exist. It is an uncomfortable truth that both slave owners and corporations want to extract the maximum possible value from their human assets, without exhausting them or provoking rebellion or escape. At a deep level, managing others always involves finding solutions to the age-old problems of assessing people from limited information, then incentivising, disciplining and rewarding them, to finally being rid of them. However much we might prefer to disguise the harsher side of wage-slavery behind a rhetoric of friendly teamwork, we could benefit from some straightforward Roman honesty. Everyone knew where they [sic] stood then – even if, sometimes, that was in the line for crucifixion.

Read the whole thing.

30 Jan 2015

Roman Mold-Blown Glass Cups

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EnnionGlassCups
Ennion, mold-blown glass cups (1st century A.D)

From the Metropolitan Museum via Belacqui.

05 Dec 2014

Roman Mystery Object

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RomanThingummy

Since 1739, roughly a hundred of these Roman dodecahedra have been found in sites ranging from Wales to Hungary, but mostly in Germany & France. Some are bronze, and some are made of stone.

Wikipedia:

No mention of them has been found in contemporary accounts or pictures of the time. Speculated uses include candlestick holders (wax was found inside one example); dice; survey instruments; devices for determining the optimal sowing date for winter grain; gauges to calibrate water pipes or army standard bases. Use as a measuring instrument of any kind seems to be prohibited by the fact that the dodacahedrons were not standardised and come in many sizes and arrangements of their openings. It has also been suggested that they may have been religious artifacts of some kind. This latter speculation is based on the fact that most of the examples have been found in Gallo-Roman sites. Several dodecahedrons were found in coin hoards, providing evidence that their owners considered them valuable objects.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

15 Mar 2014

The Ides of March

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02 Jan 2014

Roman Painting

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Roman painting of a rook perched on a vase.

Hat tip to Ratak Monodosico.

23 Nov 2013

Dancing Satyr

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Dancing Satyr of Mazara del Vallo, fourth-century B.C., Greece

Wikipedia:

The over-lifesize Dancing Satyr of Mazara del Vallo is a Greek bronze statue, whose refinement and rapprochement with the manner of Praxiteles has made it a subject of discussion.

Though the satyr is missing both arms, one leg and its separately-cast tail (originally fixed in a surviving hole at the base of the spine), its head and torso are remarkably well-preserved despite millennia spent at the bottom of the sea. The satyr is depicted in mid-leap, head thrown back ecstatically and back arched, his hair swinging with the movement of his head. The facture is highly refined; the whites of his eyes are inlays of white alabaster.

Though some have dated it to the 4th century BCE and said it was an original work by Praxiteles or a faithful copy, it is more securely dated either to the Hellenistic period of the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE, or possibly to the “Atticising” phase of Roman taste in the early 2nd century CE. A high percentage of lead in the bronze alloy suggests its being made in Rome itself.

The torso was recovered from the sandy sea floor at a depth of 500 m (1600 ft.) off the southwestern coast of Sicily, on the night of March 4, 1998, in the nets of the same fishing boat (operating from Mazara del Vallo, hence the sculpture’s name) that had in the previous year recovered the sculpture’s left leg. …

Restoration at the Istituto Centrale per il Restauro, Rome, included a steel armature so that the statue can be displayed upright. … [I]t is on permanent display in the Museo del Satiro in the church of Sant’Egidio.

Via Ratak Monodosico.

16 Oct 2013

Roman Bathhouse Still in Operation

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In Khenchela, a town in northeastern Algeria, a Roman bathhouse built in the First Century remains in active daily use today.

BBC News

Hat tips to Karen L. Myers, Bird Dog, and Anne Althouse.

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