Io, Saturnalia!

Happy Saturnalia to all! December 17, marks the beginning of the Saturnalia, a festival held in honour of Saturn that lasted for between 3 and 7 days. It was celebrated in Rome for the first time in 497 BC when the Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum was dedicated. The poet Catullus called it… Continue reading Io, Saturnalia!

The Late Iron Age and Roman Ireland Project

In 2012, Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE) profiled the work of the Late Iron Age and Roman Ireland Project. The central aim of this project was to characterize the environment, settlement patterns, social structures, and ritual practices of the people who lived and died in Ireland during the first five centuries CE. It also surveyed the… Continue reading The Late Iron Age and Roman Ireland Project

Agrippina the Younger: Unofficial First Empress of the Roman Empire

Agrippina the Younger was the first empress of the Roman Empire, but almost no modern sources remember her as such. In fact, she is not often remembered at all. Unlike her predecessor, Augustus’s wife Livia, she has slipped out of history. Where she has left a mark it has been only as Claudius’s last wife… Continue reading Agrippina the Younger: Unofficial First Empress of the Roman Empire

Roman Inns Are Not For Free!

Thanks to our partnership agreement with the EAGLE Portal, Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE) will be republishing select EAGLE stories, on a periodic basis, which illuminate special topics pertaining everyday life and culture in ancient Rome. We hope that you enjoy these ancient vignettes, and we also encourage you to explore EAGLE’s massive epigraphic database. This… Continue reading Roman Inns Are Not For Free!

Art and Sculptures from Hadrian’s Villa: The Lansdowne Relief

This month’s sculpture from Hadrian’s Villa is a dark grey limestone relief decorated with mythological scenes. The Lansdowne Relief was unearthed in 1769 during excavations undertaken by the art dealer and archaeologist Gavin Hamilton, who sold it to Lord Lansdowne. The latter was an avid collector of antiquities who owned a fine collection of classical sculptures… Continue reading Art and Sculptures from Hadrian’s Villa: The Lansdowne Relief

The Grandeur of Roman Mosaics

Roman mosaic floor from Villelaure, France with Diana and Callisto Surrounded by Hunt Scenes, A.D. 3rd century. Gallo-Roman mosaic, colored marble, limestone, and glass tesserae. D: 296.6 × 271.8 × 6.4 cm (116 3/4 × 107 × 2 1/2 in.) Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Phil Berg Collection. Image courtesy of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Phil Berg Collection.

Roman mosaics decorated luxurious domestic and public buildings across the empire. Intricate patterns and figural compositions were created by setting tesserae — small pieces of stone or glass — into floors and walls. Scenes from mythology, daily life, nature, and spectacles in the arena enlivened interior spaces and reflected the cultural ambitions of wealthy patrons.… Continue reading The Grandeur of Roman Mosaics

Visiting the Roman Baths in Bath, England

In the heart of southern England, the city of Bath emerges from the countryside with picturesque stone buildings and neoclassical Georgian architecture. I recently visited the city’s Roman baths, which were built nearly two millennia ago and continue to impress over a million visitors each year.

Roman Glass from the Archaeological Museum of Pavia

A glass kantharos or drinking cup.

Roman glassware includes some of the finest pieces of art ever produced in antiquity and the very best were valued higher than wares made with precious metals. However, plain glass vessels such as cups, bowls, plates, and bottles were also used as everyday containers, in particular, for storing and serving food, drinks, and perfumes. The… Continue reading Roman Glass from the Archaeological Museum of Pavia