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.

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 Following successful invasions by the Persians, the Greek fleet had withdrawn to Salamis and they were outnumbered.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.

Thursday, 20 May 2021

House of the Tragic Poet

The House of the Tragic Poet is a Roman house in Pompeii famous for its elaborate mosaic floors and frescoes depicting scenes from Greek mythology. The house itself is not remarkable, but its interior decorations are not only numerous but of the highest quality among all others from ancient Pompeii. The mismatch between the size of the house and the quality of its decoration has been pondered. Little is known about the lives of the homeowners. The house originally contained more than twenty painted and mosaic panels, six of which have been relocated to the National Archaeological Museum in Naples.
The House of the Tragic Poet was discovered in 1824 by archaeologist Antonio Bonucci.

Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Roman gold ring that inspired J.R.R Tolkien

In 2016 the UK National Trust and the Tolkien Society put an artifact on display for fans of "The Lord of the Rings" to decide for themselves whether this was Tolkien's precious ring of power. The Vyne Ring or the Ring of Silvianus is a gold ring, dating to the 4th century, discovered in a field in Hampshire, England, in 1785.
It was originally the property of a British Roman called Silvianus. The gold ring is inscribed in Latin, "Senicianus live well in God," and inset with an image of the goddess Venus. It is larger than average, weighing about 12 grams. The ring is believed to be linked to a curse tablet found separately at the site of a Roman temple dedicated to a god named Nodens in Gloucestershire.
The tablet says a man called Silvianus had lost a ring, and it asks Nodens to place a curse of ill health on Senicianus until he returns it. An archeologist who looked into the connection between the ring and the curse tablet asked Tolkien, who was an Anglo-Saxon professor at Oxford University, to work on the etymology of the name Nodens in 1929.