Monday, 31 May 2021

Aureus of Roman Emperor Nerva

Nerva was Roman emperor from 96 to 98. Nerva became emperor at age 66 after a lifetime of imperial service under Nero. On 18 September 96, Domitian was assassinated in a palace conspiracy involving the Praetorian Guard. On the same day, Nerva was declared emperor by the Roman Senate.

A gold aureus of Nerva reflects the delicate balance of power in ancient Rome at the time. The circa A.D. 97 gold coin features a portrait of Nerva on the obverse, with clasped hands holding a legionary eagle set upon a prow on the reverse. $15k
Nerva’s reign was greatly assisted by his predecessor’s decision to increase wages for soldiers from 225 denarii to 300 denarii per year. The coins used to pay wages were of increased weight and purity, so the payout was even better.

Nerva's reign was marred by financial difficulties and his inability to control the Roman army. A revolt by the Praetorian Guard in October 97 forced him to adopt an heir. Nerva adopted Trajan, a young and popular general, as his successor. Nerva died of natural causes shortly after and was succeeded by Trajan.

Sunday, 30 May 2021

Emperor Nero

Nero is among the most famous of all Roman emperors – but not for good reasons. During his reign, from 54 to 68 CE, Nero had few accomplishments and many failures. Nero's mother, Agrippina the Younger, (Caligula's sister) dominated Nero's early life until he cast her off. Five years into his reign, he had her murdered. Nero's rule is usually thought that of a tyrant and most Romans thought him corrupt.

Silver denarius of 55/56
He was suspected of starting the Great Fire of Rome in 64 AD in order to clear the way for his new palace complex, the Domus Aurea. It caused widespread devastation and countless mansions, homes and temples were destroyed. The fire is reported to have burned for over a week. Nero seized Christians as scapegoats for the fire and burned them alive.
Nero was famous for devaluing Roman currency for the first time in the Empire's history. He reduced the weight of the denarius from 3.85 grams to 3.35 grams. He also reduced the silver purity from 99.5% to 93.5%—the silver weight dropping from 3.83 grams to 3.4 grams. He also reduced the weight of the aureus from 8 grams to 7.2 grams.
In 65 a conspiracy against Nero failed after being discovered. In March 68, Gaius Julius Vindex, the governor of Gallia Lugdunensis, rebelled against Nero's tax policies. The discontent of the legions of Germany and the continued opposition of the popular Galba in Spain, despite his being officially declared a public enemy were Nero's undoing. The prefect of the Praetorian Guard abandoned his allegiance to the Emperor. When the Senate declared Nero a public enemy it was the end. Nero could not bring himself to take his own life but instead forced his private secretary to perform the task. He died on 9 June 68.
In 2017 excavations at Mount Zion in Jerusalem for the first time discovered a gold coin bearing the likeness of Roman Emperor Nero. The coin had been struck in either 56 and 57 AD. The gold coin (aureus) bears the bare-headed portrait of the younger Nero as Caesar. The coin would have been minted before the city of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. The archaeologists hypothesized that the gold coin was part of a Jewish store of wealth, amassed before their mansions were razed – along with the rest of the city – by Titus and the Roman legions. The coin was likely hidden prior to the destruction of Jerusalem and overlooked by looting Roman soldiers.
The Siege of Jerusalem in the year 70 was the decisive event of the First Jewish–Roman War. The destruction of both the first and second temples is still mourned annually as the Jewish fast Tisha B'Av. The Arch of Titus, celebrating the Roman sack of Jerusalem and the Temple, still stands in Rome.

See ----->Worst Roman Emperors

Friday, 28 May 2021

Trump's Eagle - Aquila - SPQR

Jaws are flapping about the Trump campaign's use of the Nazi eagle. Students of history would recognize the Nazi eagle as that stolen from the Romans. The Nazi swastika was similarly hijacked from ancient sources. The word swastika comes from the Sanskrit svastika, which means “good fortune” or “well-being."
An aquila, or eagle, was a prominent symbol used in ancient Rome, especially as the standard of a Roman legion. A legionary known as an aquilifer, or eagle-bearer, carried this standard. Each legion carried one eagle.
The eagle was very important to the Roman military, beyond merely being a symbol of a legion. A lost standard was considered an extremely grave event. The Roman military often went to great lengths to protect a standard and to recover it if lost. In the aftermath of the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest the Romans spent decades trying to recover the lost standards of the three destroyed legions. SPQR stood for Senatus Populusque Romanus. The meaning was "The Senate and People of Rome". No legionary eagles are known to have survived.

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Relics from the time of the Battle of Salamis uncovered

The remains of a building was discovered by archaeologists working at a site off the coast of Salamis in 2019. They found ceramics, statues, columns and other features. They also found marble sculptures, including the head of a statue.
It was around this time, 480 B.C., that the Battle of Salamis took place. Following successful invasions by the Persians, the Greek fleet had withdrawn to Salamis and they were outnumbered. At this point Themistocles, a politician and general, convinced Greek allies to build a fleet and fight.
See ----->Ancient Naval Bases Discovered in Athens' Piraeus Harbor

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

The Aqueduct of Constantinople

The longest aqueduct of all time, the Aqueduct of Valens is 429 km long and supplied Constantinople with water. In AD 324, the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great made Constantinople the new capital of the Roman Empire. The aqueduct system worked for more than 700 years, until at least the 12th century.

Judaea Capta

Vespasian levied the punitive Fiscus Judaicus tax against all five million of his Jewish subjects. The Great Revolt between the Romans and the Jews in 63 CE occured when Roman governor Gessius Florus looted the Second Temple. After the capture of Jerusalem, the last rebels committed suicide at Masada. In 69 CE, Galba, the governor of Hispania (Spain), rebelled against Nero and Rome saw the 'year of 4 emperors'.

Vespasian. AU Aureus (7.05 g), AD 69-79. ‘Judaea Capta’ type.
Vespasian then began striking vast numbers of Judaea Capta coins in all denominations.

One element of the Judaea Capta imagery is a group of military trophies. Captured weapons and armor hung from a tree or post represents a military victory over the defeated enemy.

Sunday, 23 May 2021

Empress Livia Drusilla

Empress Livia Drusilla was Roman empress from 27 BC to 14 AD as the wife of Emperor Augustus. She was known as Julia Augusta after her formal adoption into the Julian family in AD 14. "Livia: a blight upon the nation as a mother, a blight upon the house of Caesar as a stepmother". That was Tacitus's assessment of Livia Drusilla. The historian elaborated that Livia put her husband, Emperor Augustus, under her control, and banished or had killed every potential heir to the throne in order to promote her own son, the bizzare Tiberius, as his successor.
In 42 AD Livia was deified by Claudius.
After Augustus died in 14 AD, Tiberius became emperor. Livia continued to exert political influence as the mother of the emperor. She was the great-grandmother of the emperor Caligula, grandmother of the emperor Claudius, and the great-great-grandmother of the emperor Nero. Livia is depicted as having great influence, to the extent where she "had the aged Augustus firmly under control." She died in 29 AD.

Friday, 21 May 2021

Gladiators - Heroes of the Colosseum

A new exhibition has opened at the Archaeological Museum Hamburg, "Gladiators - Heroes of the Colosseum." The first documented gladiator fights took place in Rome in 264 BC. Descendants of a deceased person had three pairs of slaves compete against each other in the honor of the dearly departed. Typically, the fight would happen in a marketplace. These private battles of nobility became increasingly popular among citizens of ancient Rome.

Under Augustus (63 BC - 14 AD), games were allowed only during a few specific days of the year.
Gladiators were not always prisoners or slaves. Gladiator schools ensured a supply of highly trained fighters and many free citizens also joined. The games offered a chance for the most successful warriors to earn redemption, wealth and freedom.

The typical schedule of a fight day started around noon, with executions of criminals sentenced to death. Afterward, circus acts would sometimes take the stage. After a few additional fights, the gladiators were presented as the main act. Women also fought against each other. This was officially banned in the year 200.
A gladiator was an armed combatant who entertained audiences in the Roman Republic and Roman Empire. Most were slaves, socially marginalized, and segregated even in death. The origin of gladiatorial combat is thought to be the 3rd century BC, and thereafter it rapidly became an essential feature of social life in the Roman world.

Its popularity led to ever more lavish and costly games. The games lasted for nearly a thousand years, peaking between the 1st century BC and the 2nd century AD. The games declined during the early 5th century after the adoption of Christianity.

The average age of those killed in the arena was around 28. Few gladiators survived more than ten matches.
The person who presided over the games was called the editor. He could be the emperor, a senator, or other political figure and made the final decision about the fate of the gladiators in the arena.

To make sure the loser wasn’t pretending to be dead, an attendant dressed as Mercury would touch him with a hot iron wand. If they were still alive, another attendant, dressed as Charon, would hit him with a mallet.
If a gladiator repeatedly survived the arena and lived long enough to retire, they were given a symbolic wooden training sword, or rudis, as a token of their freedom.

Even when they had won their freedom, the lucrative life of the gladiator still appealed: rudiarii were gladiators who had won their freedom but chose to remain fighting in the arena.

Gladius, an early ancient Roman sword
There were many types of gladiators and each had different weapons. It was usual to pair off combatants with widely different, but more or less equivalent, equipment. Studies have shown that gladiators fought to strict rules and barefooted. During combat musicians performed and altered tempo to match that of the combat.
From left, a disarmed and surrendering retiarius and his secutor opponent, a thraex and murmillo, a hoplhus and murmillo (who is signalling his surrender), and the referee.

Roman Gladiator Dagger

Four-pointed dagger

Roman soldiers were taught to deploy the gladius horizontally, piercing the enemy's ribs and penetrating vital organs.

Roman iron gladiator trident.

Gladiator Arm Guard

Greaves (leg protectors) and dagger discovered at Pompeii's gladiator barracks.

Pair of bronze greaves from the Gladiators' Barracks in Pompeii.

Helmet of a murmillo.