The Roman Theatre of Merida

The Roman theatre of Merida was built during the reign of Augustus. There is an inscription in the theatre which reads M. Agrippa L.F. cos III. trib. pot. III Roughly meaning that Marcus Agrippa, Son of Lucius, three times consul, in the third year of his tribunician powers (built this). With this information, historians have…

Livia’s Garden: One of the world’s earliest nature art masterpieces?

In 1863 archaeologists unearthed magnificent finds from what was called the Villa of Livia at Prima Porta (slightly north of Rome). Livia was the wife of Augustus, the first emperor of Rome. Notably one of the finds from the house was the imposing statue of Augustus that is mostly associated with the emperor. However, another…

Monday Pop Quiz: Water Pump

It’s the start of the working week for most of the world. For those of struggling with Monday blues I thought I’d make life interesting with a little pop quiz. Please look at the images below and choose the correct answer. (Apologies for all the reflection in the photograph- museum lighting is not always best…

Portraits of Augustus (from my 2018 visits)

Roman sculptural portraits (whether in bronze or in marble) existed long before Augustus. Republican time portraiture from Rome depicts a high level of realism. You see people shown with their frowns and wrinkles. This was quite unlike the Hellenistic style which was all idealised and smooth. With his consolidation of power in Rome, Augustus also…

Melee

One of the podcasts I really enjoy listening to is Hardcore History. Often when describing scenes of battle in the episodes (especially ones in ancient times), the host Dan Carlin wonders how ancient battles would have looked when they were taking place. I mean yes, we do have contemporary (or near contemporary) accounts in writing…

The Boxer at Rest

If you have seen the recent BBC series ‘Civilisations’, then chances are that you are familiar with the statue of the boxer introduced by Mary Beard. If you didn’t catch it you can watch a 4 minute segment on the BBC website. The Boxer at Rest is an undated Greek statue that was discovered buried…

The Dome

Excerpts from J B Ward-Perkins’ book “Roman Imperial Architecture” on the dome of the Pantheon in Rome. “The dome is coffered, with five diminishing rings of twenty-eight coffers each, in antiquity stuccoed and perhaps gilded, and the only light comes from the great central oculus.” “Familiarity cannot deaden the impact of the interior as one…