Celebrating the endless wonders of the Roman world. “For these Romans I set no bounds in space or time; but have given empire without end.”
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Aug 14 • 5 tweets • 2 min read
1) Amazing to see this pre-Roman 'bathhouse' preserved underneath Braga railway station, Portugal. More accurately described as a steam bath or sauna, bathers would first splash themselves down from the basin in the open courtyard, before entering through the stone doorway.. 2) In this warm room, bathers would sit on stone benches and work up a mild sweat. When each bather was ready they would crawl through the hole in the stone wall into the hot steam room. The hole was small enough to minimise loss of hot air but large enough to squeeze through..
Aug 13 • 7 tweets • 3 min read
1/5) The only piece of Roman jewellery that can be matched to a known historical owner. This gold and carnelian signet ring was found on the skeletal finger of Scipio Barbatus (337 BC – 270 BC) inside his famous sarcophagus, when the Tomb of the Scipios was discovered in 1780..
2/5) The opening of the intact tomb alongside Rome's Via Appia was a revelation to the intelligentsia of the time. The elaborate sarcophagus of Barbatus in particular, with its ornate volutes and Doric frieze, quickly became iconic, inspiring many copies and Grand Tour souvenirs.
Aug 12 • 13 tweets • 5 min read
1) The Corinth Canal is one of history's greatest engineering feats. The 4-mile canal cuts through the Isthmus of Corinth allowing ships fast access between the Ionian and Aegean Sea. Though opened in 1893, it was actually a Roman superstar that first broke ground on the project. 2) The narrow isthmus connecting the Peloponnese to mainland Greece was long seen as an inconvenience to seafarers, forcing vessels to take a treacherous 700km voyage around the peninsula and hindering the lucrative trade route between East and West..
Aug 11 • 6 tweets • 2 min read
1) Roman emperor vs killer whale: Ancient writers report that during the reign of Claudius, an unlucky orca found its way into the great harbour of Rome at Ostia, where it spent several days feeding on the cargo of a shipwreck. Unfortunately for the whale... 2) ..Rome's harbour was heavily silted up and it became stuck in the treacherous sandbanks, unable to turn back to sea. Soon the orca's back was visible above the water 'very much resembling the keel of an upturned vessel.' When word of the trapped creature reached the emperor..
Aug 9 • 4 tweets • 2 min read
1) Sometimes it's possible to connect different Roman grave monuments and gain a wider understanding of life and death in a typical ancient family. This first memorial remembers Vagellia Avita who died aged 26, placed by her father Allius Avitus and her husband Silvanius Silvanus 2) Another memorial remembers Vagellia Rufina whose age is not given, set up this time by her grandfather Allius Avitus and her father Silvanius Silvanus - undoubtedly the same men. Together they buried two beloved women in their lives. From these separate memorials we see that..
Aug 9 • 8 tweets • 3 min read
1) On 30 October 1804, Nicolai Henrich Weinwich from Copenhagen wrote to President Thomas Jefferson enclosing a package of '150 pieces of true Roman coins of different sizes, from the reign of Emperor Augustus until that of Theodosius'... 2) Mindful that Jefferson was actively building the burgeoning collections of his American Philosophical Society - dedicated to 'promoting all useful knowledge of the world' - Weinwich writes in his letter that...
Jul 9 • 11 tweets • 3 min read
1) Herm portraits from the sanctuary of Diana on the northern shore of Lake Nemi: All were found together in 1887 and consist of white marble busts mounted on blue marble pillars. First off, the exquisite portrait of Staia Quinta.. 2) Staia's remarkable hairstyle of luxurious curls...
Jun 25 • 8 tweets • 3 min read
1) The jaw-dropping 'Kneeling Barbarian' sculpture, dating to around 20 BC. The figure is actually an architectural element, likely part of a grand monument in Rome celebrating Roman conquest in the East.. 2) The Kneeling Barbarian is mostly sculpted in Pavonazzetto or 'peacock' marble, a sumptuous red and yellow stone quarried at Docimium in Asian Minor (modern İscehisar, Turkey).
Jun 19 • 32 tweets • 12 min read
1) The Roman Capitolium of Brescia (ancient Brixia). Fortuitously buried by a landslide in the Middle Ages, the remains of the Capitol temple are a wonder in themselves - but what archaeologists discovered inside is truly unique. Let's take a journey into this remarkable site.. 2) A visitor to modern Brescia can walk in a town square on the site of Brixia's Roman forum (Piazza del Foro), at the end of which still looms the Capitoline temple, dedicated to the triad of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva - a rare, immersive archaeological experience..
May 28 • 7 tweets • 3 min read
1) In April 1992 the IRA detonated a one-ton bomb outside the Baltic Exchange in the City of London, on what would later become the site of the iconic 'Gherkin', tragically killing 3 people and injuring 91. As the site was cleared for redevelopment, archaeologists unearthed..
2)..the bones of a young girl from Roman London. Analysis showed she had died 1,600 years earlier around 350-400 AD, when she was between the ages of 13-17. While Romans usually buried the dead outside a city, she was buried inside Londinium, near the end of the Roman occupation.
May 21 • 13 tweets • 5 min read
1) Michelangelo's final work. The 'Rondanini Pietà' was left unfinished in the artist's Rome workshop when he died in 1564 at the age of 88. Eyewitnesses write that in the days before his death, Michelangelo was working solidly on this Pietà all day long.. 2) Michelangelo tackled the Pietà (Virgin Mary supporting the body of the dead Christ) several times, most notably in the famed work now in St Peter's Basilica, completed when the artist was 25. Rather than robust, classically proportioned figures of his youth, here he sculpts...
May 8 • 11 tweets • 4 min read
1) The incredibly preserved Roman painted altar unearthed in Milan (ancient Mediolanum) in 1825. The altar which dates to the late 1st century - early 2nd century AD, is made of masonry coated with plaster and decorated with vibrant paintwork.. 2) Each of the altar's four sides feature a beautifully painted divinity, an eclectic figurative selection of gods and goddesses who were often shown in similar poses on Rome's coinage. Let's take a closer look at the deities on this spectacular altar..
May 6 • 10 tweets • 5 min read
1) May 6th, 319 AD. A normal spring day across Roman Britain. Little do the inhabitants of Britannia's towns and cities know they are about to witness one of nature's most awesome cosmic events. At around 2:15pm as we know it, the quality of the afternoon light begins to change.. 2) The bright afternoon sky begins to darken. The spring birdsong falls silent. The hustle and bustle of the busy marketplaces draws to a standstill. To the disbelief of people across most of Roman Britain over the next hour, the sun is slowly wiped from the sky..
Apr 15 • 4 tweets • 2 min read
1/4) Four sides of an ancient ivory casket, with some of the earliest known depictions of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection (early 400s AD); in the first panel the Roman governor Pontius Pilate condemns Christ who carries the cross to his place of execution...
2/4) The second ivory panel shows Judas committing suicide by hanging after betraying Christ, followed by the crucifixion. Above Christ the Romans have hung a sign saying REX IVD[aeorum] - “King of the Jews”.
Mar 19 • 4 tweets • 2 min read
Newly photographed Roman Republican denarius struck by Quintus Minucius Thermus in 103 BC, in the third of seven consulships held by Gaius Marius. Thermus connects himself with the heroics of a namesake ancestor who won the corona civica, the second highest Roman military award..
As consul in 193 BC the elder Thermus defeated the Ligures in battle near Pisa, where he earned the corona civica by saving the life of a fellow soldier and then slaying the attacking enemy. Thermus can be seen on the left with his oval shield, defending an injured comrade below.
Mar 12 • 5 tweets • 3 min read
1) Newly photographed Roman Republican denarius minted by Marcus Sergius Silus around 116 BC. The coin has a remarkable depiction of the moneyer's famous grandfather - and a fascinating connection to the history of prosthetics!.. 2) On his galloping horse we see the Roman general Marcus Sergius, remembered for his legendary exploits in the Punic Wars a century before the coin was struck. He is shown wielding his sword and in the same hand holding a severed enemy head!
Mar 11 • 13 tweets • 5 min read
1) The Augusteum of Narona; a temple dedicated to the cult of the Emperor. Founded by the governor Dolabella in 10 BC, the temple was added to over many decades. Fragments of 17 marble statues depicting Roman emperors and the imperial family were discovered here in 1995-6. 2) Beginning with statues of Augustus and Livia on a raised podium, further members of the wider imperial family were soon added such as Agrippa, Gaius and Lucius Caesar. Germanicus, Tiberius, Claudius and their wives later expanded the remarkable statue group further.
Feb 19 • 9 tweets • 4 min read
1) Ancient fake news? Newly photographed denarius showing an event that almost certainly never took place. This coin struck at the beginning of Hadrian's reign shows Trajan adopting Hadrian, thus making him his successor, clasping hands and exchanging the necessary documentation. 2) If the message wasn’t clear enough to viewers, the scene is emblazoned with the self-explanatory declaration “ADOPTIO”. That this unique coin was required at all shows Hadrian clearly felt the need to publicly tackle simmering conspiracy theories around his accession..
Feb 18 • 9 tweets • 4 min read
The brutal birth of Rome in high-definition! New shot of this spectacular denarius struck in 89 BC - showing the legendary Rape of the Sabines where Romulus and his men, wanting to populate their newly founded city, abducted women of the neighbouring Sabine tribe for their wives.
In a remarkable depiction, two of Romulus’ soldiers can be seen, each carrying off a Sabine woman in their grasp; the women struggle and strike out against their abductors, their flowing robes adding movement and urgency to the scene.
Feb 17 • 4 tweets • 2 min read
This denarius was minted in 49 BC as Caesar crossed the Rubicon. Struck under the moneyer Manius Acilius Glabrio, we see Valetudo leaning on a column and holding a snake. Valetudo was the Roman equivalent of Hygieia, the Greek goddess of health and hygiene..
Glabrio was the stepson of Pompey the Great, raised in his house after Pompey married his mother Amelia Scaura. This coin was likely in support of Pompey, the idea being that he and the optimates were fighting to preserve the health (Salus) of the Republic as Caesar approached..
Feb 7 • 4 tweets • 2 min read
Roman agate intaglio with a remarkable depiction of Trajan's hexagonal harbour. Constructed in 103 AD, the hexagonal basin covered an area of almost 100 acres. Visible on the intaglio are covered porticoes, square warehouses and a temple with arched pediment and statue inside.
Trajan's hexagonal harbour is still visible today near the runways of Rome's Fiumicino airport, as a reed-filled lake known as 'Lago Traiano' - it now lies almost 3km from the sea.