Ancient Rome Unit 1
Click on images or internet addresses for larger images
conquered and assimilated its neighbors, and the process
them for almost 1000 years.
Click on the image or link to see a list of all ten course
What are we doing in this course?
Before Rome was Rome, the Italian peninsula was divided
language groups, some of which contributed to the
Latin. Latin took its name from the tribes of
Latium, the area
which contains Rome.
The bronze age terramare culture in northern Italy has
considered the first well organized urban culture in
Terramare town was planned on a basis similar to later
Roman fortress towns.
The iron age Villanovan culture displaced the Terramare
The Villanovans appeared as the third wave of trans-Alpine
have much in common with the Hallstatt culture of the
Alps. "Ages" (like "stone", "copper", "bronze", and
named for the materials used to make tools and
artifacts in the third image, above, are bronze, but they
probably made using iron tools. Some experts
Villanovan to be an early stage of the Etruscan culture.
The vast majority of the
remains of the Etruscan civilization were found in Etruscan
tombs. The Romans destroyed or overbuilt most of their
cities. Nonetheless, we know a great deal about how
levels of their society lived because of what was left in
tombs. The main repositories for Etruscan grave goods
Vatican Etruscan Museum and the National Etruscan Museum in the Villa Giulia in
are also smaller museums at some of the Etruscan
archeological sites in
Etruscan bronze art tended to
with attenuated figures of people and animals.
artwork, on the other hand, was very naturalistic as seen
in the winged
horses in the second image and in the funerary terracottas
The Etruscans were justly famed for their gold jewelery
particularly for the intricacy of their gold granulation.
The Lapis Niger cippus is under the black stone surface in
front of the
Curia in the Roman republican forum. It marks the
ancient Romans venerated as the site of the tomb of
truncated stone is covered with the oldest known
inscription. For more information on the Lapis Niger
supposed grave of Romulus, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SBhchFXlGg
The earliest known proto-Latin writing is on the "Duenos"
found on Rome's Quirinale Hill in 1880. A
kernos is a
circular arrangement of vases or jugs (in this case three
together. Duenos is one of the words in the
inscription and is an
early version of the word bonus = good. The second
the development of the Latin alphabet, and the third shows
Praenestina fibula with its forged inscription. The
fibula may be
older than the Duenos inscription, but the writing on the
fibula is a
In the 4th and 3rd centuries BC
colonies on the southern Italian coasts and on Sicily were
by both the Romans and the Carthaginians (who, at this
point were in a
long standing alliance). The Greeks hired a notable
general, Pyrrhus of Epirus, to fight off their predatory
neighbors. Pyrrhus used trained Indian elephants and
won all the
battles, but lost the war because of high casualty rates
forces. The Carthaginians, later used smaller North
elephants against the Romans -- war broke out between the
over possession of the Greek cities on Sicily. The
eventually won their "Punic" wars against Carthage -- also
attrition. The Punic wars are the subject of Unit 4 of
course. For more on Pyrrhus, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyrrhus_of_Epirus
The ancient temple of Fortuna at Praeneste was rebuilt on
grander scale in 80 BC. The town and temple became a
the ancient Romans during Rome's imperial phase and the
architecture was the prototype for many Roman hillside
villas both in
the ancient period and during the renaissance. The
eventually seized, during the renaissance, by the Colonna family who
rebuilt it again
as a country house. After several destructions and
the Colonna sold it to the Barberini family and it became
(summer retreat) for Pope Urban VIII Barberini. The
salon of the casino holds the famous "Nile Mosaic",
Barberini had removed to their palazzo in Rome. It
to Palestrina (Praeneste) in 1953. For more on the Nile
Mosaic, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nile_mosaic_of_Palestrina.
a Lego version of the Temple (with links to other Lego
sites) see http://www.ancient-theme.com/1998/olson.html.
One of the finest Roman marble portrait statues is that of
Caesar, which was discovered on April 20, 1863 in the
Villa of Livia at
Prima Porta, near Rome. His wife Livia Drusilla retired to
after his death. The sculpture is now displayed in the
Braccio Nuovo of
the Vatican Museums. It is a copy of a bronze (or
bronze) statue that was erected in Rome by the Senate to
Augustus. Both the metal statue and the marble one
been painted naturalistically. The
second image is
another copy, on display at the Getty Museum in Santa
California, which has some of the color restored. In
image I have added flesh tones to the second image to give
an idea of
how the original statue may have looked.
Part of the spoils of the conquest of Antony and Cleopatra
was a large Egyptian Obelisk looted from Heliopolis. (The
great collectors of Egyptian stuff and that's why there
Egyptian obelisks in Rome (13) than remain in Egypt.
Augustus set up
his prize in the Campus Martius as the gnomen of a giant
it was arranged so that the shadow of the gnomen fell on
his Ara Pacis
(altar of peace) right at sunset on his birthday,
Ancient Romans worshiped their ancestors and upper class
wax masks (called imagines) of any famous ancestors.
were kept in a special cabinet in the the atrium of their
and were displayed before visitors and worn in ceremonial
processions. The wax masks deteriorated over the
do have a few statues showing patricians holding
imagines. Although there is definite
resemblance, the individuality of the masks
Without a doubt, the Colosseum is the most recognizable
Roman ruin. It
was known in ancient times as the Amphitheatrum Flavium
acquire the Colosseum name until much later -- tenth
according to some authorities. The name Colosseum is
thought to refer to the colossal statue of
various stages) that stood nearby. The Rome Colosseum is
amphitheater built in ancient times. "Amphitheater"
is an ancient
portmanteau word that fuses "ambi" (both sides) and
The first known stone amphitheater was in Pompeii (where
it can be seen
today, only having required minimal restoration after
earlier wooden structures were built in Rome -- and then
disassembled after the games (ludi circenses) were
first known and most remarkable of the wooden
amphitheaters in Rome was
built by Caius Scribonius Curio. Each side pivoted
separately; it opened and closed with the audience
For more informationon the Colosseum, see http://www.the-colosseum.net/architecture/amphitheatrum-en.htm
And for information on
Curio's architectural wonder, see http://www.mmdtkw.org/RT04-ColosseumRotation.html.
Stone triumphal arches were built well after the triumphs
commemorated and replaced wooden arches which spanned the
triumphal processions. The arch of Titus, pictured,
stones missing) until it was restored
during the pontificate of Pope Pius VII by Giuseppe
Valadier in 1821.
Marcus Agrippa, the erstwhile General/Admiral, and
commander in Chief
of the forces of Augustus in the wars that put him in
became the chief contractor/builder of Augustine
Rome. He built
Rome's first Pantheon, which was not sacred to all the
gods of Rome but
rather to all the gods associated with the "Julian" family
Augustus. That structure occupied just the front
porch of the
current structure which was build by Hadrian.
is still the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the
of the most remarkable facts about the Pantheon is that it
with one continuous pour of concrete. For more
the Pantheon, see http://www.mmdtkw.org/RT04-Pantheon.html.
designed the Rotunda (Library) at the University of
to emulate the pantheon, and if you go down Constitution
Avenue in Washington DC you can see several buildings with
domes modeled on the Rome Pantheon dome..
The Latin word insula meant island, but it also meant an
block (except in Pompeii and surrounding towns, where
inexplicably called every city block and insula).
apartment block insulae. Most Romans lived in
insulae. The insula in the third image is thought to
specialized apartment hotel for merchants doing temporary
Rome's port, Ostia.
Anyone who accumulated enough money would buy a
domus. If there
was room, expansion was always a possibility as owner
wealthy -- or a bigger domus might be bought or two (or
domi might be combined into a McDomus.
The biggest domus in
expanded the palace on he Palatine adding the large
section to the
right of the internal horse ring. To do this, he had
the side of the hill by building large vaulted structures
his new buildings.
Rural villas -- working farms with quarters for the owner
-- could be
quite plush (first image) or very simple (second). Really rich folks might
also own a suburban villa in addition to their big domus
villas, like the Villa of the Mysteries outside Pompeii
although they still might be agricultural centers; the
Villa of the
Mysteries, for example, included a large winery and the
owned Vesuvian vineyards.
The biggest known suburban villa was the Villa Adrian in
(modern Tivoli) in the hills east of Rome, The model
villa, in the first image, shows that it was more like a
than a country house. on fact, recent excavations have
buildings to the upper right of the (i.e., southwest) of
the model and
site plan (-- both the model and plan have North to the
bottom). The second image shows Roman style villas
parts of the empire and Mt. Vernon and Monticello, two
Virginia estates modeled on large Roman villas.
Location! Location! Location! Central Mediterranean
the small pinch point between Sicily and Tunisia.
controls Sicily controls trade between the aestern and
western ends of
the Med. This, of course, is what the Punic Wars were
Sicily and Sardinia also eventually be came bones of
the Romans and Carthaginians. But before any of that
happen, Rome had to take over everything to its south on
the Italian peninsula
Rome sits in a low gap in the volcanic tuffa hills that,
was eroded by what became the Tiber River -- note the two
lakes, Lago Bracciano to the northwest and Lago Albano to
southeast of Rome. According to ancient Roman
legend, Romulus and Remus
floated down the Anio River from the Alban hills and then
Tiber and were found at the sight where Romulus later
Rome. Rome is as far up the Tiber as small Roman
ships could go.
The center of government, business and social activity of
and of tourist activity in modern Rome, the forums are the
active archeological dig in the world.
A model showing the Roman forums at the time of
Constantine (ca.320 AD).
The boundaries of ancient Rome were defined by defensive
walls, although it sometimes took some time for the walls
to catch up
with the expansion of the boundaries -- i.e., the
"pomeria" or sacred
boundaries might expand, but the walls might be built
later in response
to a perceived threat. The smallest and earliest
surrounded the small part of the Palatine where the first
was defined by Romulus (753 BC). The largest set of
standing today, are the Aurelian walls.
The Aurelian walls were started by Aurelian in 271 AD in
temporary barbarian successes in northern Italy and
finished by his
successor, Probus, in 275 AD. They were doubled in
thickness by Maxentius from 306 to 312 AD in response to
threat of the arrival his rival, Constantine.
Maxentius then made
the silly decision to march his legions out of the well
to Saxa Rubra, several miles to the north of Rome, where
he was roundly
defeated. In his retreat back to Rome, his remaining
caught at the bottleneck of the Milvian Bridge where they
and Max were
wiped out. This was a trivial event, but it had
major and well
known historical ramifications.
(Modern military strategists disagree on whether Maxentius
have been able to defend the walled city against the
that Constantine had marched down from England. More
on this in a
Rome was built on seven hills. Three of them were
(and were called "monti", i.e., hills) and four were were
the result of
water erosion of the higher area to the east (and were
i.e., ridges). The first stage of the "Severan"
walls did not
include the Aventine hill, and throughout the ancient
Aventine was considered to be outside the pomeria and a
foreigners could live and build their temples. The
was also outside the pomeria and, as its name states, it
location of military musters and demobilizations.
The Italian National Museum in the remains of the Baths of
displays this model based on archeological remains on the
that date from the supposed time of Romulus (mid-8th
The actual dig on the Palatine can be seen today, but work
under way and the dig site is fragile, so tourists can not
enter the fenced-in site. The whole story of Romulus
and the founding of Rome did not become the canonical
myth until the the time of Augustus when Virgil wrote his
glorify the Julian gens, but this particular legend
floated long before then. For a short run through of
founding myth according to Virgil, see http://www.mmdtkw.org/VFoundMyths.html
The Palatine and Capitolie hills during the Republic and a
of the republican city.
Annotated photos of parts of a tourist map of ancient