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Ancient Rome



  • Rome’s start to architectural hubris

    Granted that Rome was not built in a day, the unresolved question among scholars has been just how long did it take. How early, before Julius Caesar came, saw and conquered, did Romans begin adopting a monumental architecture reflecting the grandeur of their ambitions?Most historians agree that early Rome had nothing to compare to the sublime temples of Greece and was not a particularly splendid city, like Alexandria in Egypt.Any definitive insight into the formative stages of Roman architectural hubris lies irretrievable beneath layers of the city’s repeated renovations through the time of caesars, popes and the Renaissance. The most imposing ruin of the early Roman imperial period is the Colosseum, erected in the first century A.D.



  • 2,000-year-old Roman ship found off Genoa

    The discovery was made by police divers off the coast of Porto Maurizio, Liguria, Il Secolo XIX reported.At least 50 Roman vases were found in the ship, 50 metres below sea level, which remains completely intact.“This is an exceptional discovery,” Lieutenant Colonel Francesco Schilardi told the newspaper.“Now it’s a matter of protecting the ship and keeping the grave...



  • Nixon slams "All in the Family," ancient Roman rulers for being gay in White House tape

    An audio recording of former U.S. President Richard Nixon spouting off an anti-gay rant has surfaced.CNN published an excerpt from the tape, which was apparently recorded sometime during Nixon's time in the Oval Office from 1969-1974. In the clip, Nixon accuses the popular TV series "All in the Family" (which he initially mistakes for a movie) of "glorifying homosexuality,""The point that I make is that...I do not think that you glorify, on public television, homosexuality," Nixon proclaims. And the president doesn't stop there -- claiming that homosexuality "destroyed the Greeks," he notes, "Aristotle was a homo, we all know that. So was Socrates ... Homosexuality, immorality in general...these are the enemies of strong societies."...



  • Road through Roman history creates colossal headache

    ROME — Via dei Fori Imperiali, a multilane artery running through the heart of Rome, is typically a frenzy of swerving Vespas, zipping Smart cars and honking Fiat taxis.But Mayor Ignazio Marino is seeking to transform the avenue to something calmer, where Gucci loafers and sensible sneakers would rule.Mr. Marino’s plan to ban private traffic on the roadway, which bisects a vast archaeological site, from the central Piazza Venezia to the Colosseum, has prompted grousing and histrionic debate over a project that conservators say would solidify the world’s largest urban archaeological area.This being Rome, the first high-impact initiative of his seven-week-old administration, which goes into effect on Saturday, has provoked its share of unfavorable comparisons with the overweening ambitions of emperors past. “The mayor’s job is not to pass into history, but to work for his citizens,” said Luciano Canfora, a professor of classics at the University of Bari. “We already had Nero, that’s more than enough.”...



  • Diocletian’s palace gets laser facelift

    Conservators in Croatia have completed a ten-year project to remove more than 1,700 years of grime from the courtyard of the palace of the Roman Emperor Diocletian (AD244-311), in the coastal city of Split. Lasers were used as the primary method to clean the peristyle of the fourth-century imperial residence—an innovative technique that is normally reserved for cleaning individual sculptures or details of larger architectural elements, as opposed to whole structures. According to the architect Goran Niksic, who works for the city, this is the first time lasers have been used on this scale in Croatia to clean stone.



  • Great Pompeii Project finally under way

    The Villa of Mysteries, first excavated in 1909, is named after a large and colourful cycle of frescoes showing young women undergoing an ancient Roman marriage initiation rite. Conservators are using laser technology to restore the colours to their former glory. Pompeii officials released a statement saying this is the first time the technique has been applied to such an important cycle of works a the site and that “it constitutes a viable alternative for preserving surfaces that might be too sensitive for [traditional] mechanical and chemical methods of conservation”. The laser is able to detect and remove the different protective layers that have been applied to the frescos by previous restorers. A spokesman confirmed that the restoration work, which is scheduled to end in October, is going well so far.Similar laser technology was used on an unusually large scale to clean the courtyard of the palace of the Roman emperor Diocletian in Split, Croatia (see link above).



  • Does Caligula deserve his bad rep?

    Our modern idea of tyranny was born 2,000 years ago. It is with the reign of the Caligula - the third Roman emperor, assassinated in 41 AD, before he had reached the age of 30 - that all the components of mad autocracy come together for the first time.In fact, the ancient Greek word "tyrannos" (from which our term comes) was originally a fairly neutral word for a sole ruler, good or bad.Of course, there had been some very nasty monarchs and despots before Caligula. But, so far as we know, none of his predecessors had ever ticked all the boxes of a fully fledged tyrant, in the modern sense.There was his (Imelda Marcos-style) passion for shoes, his megalomania, sadism and sexual perversion (including incest, it was said, with all three of his sisters), to a decidedly odd relationship with his pets. One of his bright ideas was supposed to have been to make his favourite horse a consul - the chief magistrate of Rome....



  • Scotland coining in it out on the treasure trail

    A MEDIEVAL heraldic badge worn by a diplomat negotiating between Scottish and English forces during the reign of King Edward I was among the treasure trove artefacts unearthed in Scotland in the past year.A hoard of coins used to bribe hostile clans after the Romans retreated from Scotland were also handed to the Crown.There were 316 cases of historical items being handed over to the Treasure Trove Unit in 2012-13, up from 152 the previous year. The unit aims to ensure significant or important finds are kept for the nation and go on show in museums....