Statue of Antinous restored as Ganymede, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight (UK)

An over life-size Parian marble statue of Antinous restored as Ganymede can be admired at the Lady Lever Art Gallery at Port Sunlight on the Wirral (near Liverpool, UK).

Antinous, c. AD 130-138, restored c. 1795 as Ganymede, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Liverpool © Carole Raddato

Antinous, c. AD 130-138, restored c. 1795 as Ganymede, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight
© Carole Raddato

Rediscovered in the late 18th century during a revival of interest for the Classical World, the statue of Antinous was purchased in Italy in 1796 by Thomas Hope, a Dutch and British art collector, on his extensive Grand Tour through Europe, Egypt and Turkey. Thomas Hope shipped it to England to his London residence on Duchess Street where it was displayed between 1804 and 1849 alongside many other classical antique sculptures. After Hope’s death in 1831, the statue was moved to the family’s country residence in Surrey where it stood until the beginning of the 20th century. The statue was eventually bought at an auction in 1917 by the philanthropist and famous soap manufacturer Lord Leverhulme, who founded and built the Lady Lever Art Gallery.

'The Statue Gallery', Plate 1, 'Household Furniture & Interior Decoration', by Thomas Hope, London, 1807. NAL Pressmark 57.Q.1

‘The Statue Gallery’, Duchess Street, Plate 1, ‘Household Furniture & Interior Decoration’, by Thomas Hope, London, 1807. NAL Pressmark 57.Q.1

Prior to its transfer to England, the Antinous statue had been restored in Rome by the Papal sculptor Giovanni Pierantoni (who also restored the Braschi Antinous) between 1794 and 1796 and was said to had been found in Roma Vecchia (“Old Rome”). The statue was in fragmentary condition when it arrived in Pierantoni’s workshop; the lower left leg and the lower parts of both arms were missing. Pierantoni restored the missing limbs and added the cup in the right hand and the jug in the left, turning the figure into Ganymede, a young Trojan prince who was carried off to Olympus by Zeus to be his lover and cup-bearer of the gods. Both Antinous and Ganymede are legendary for their beauty and their roles as younger partners in a homoerotic relationship.

Antinous, c. AD 130-138, restored c. 1795 as Ganymede, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Liverpool © Carole Raddato

Antinous, c. AD 130-138, restored c. 1795 as Ganymede, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight
© Carole Raddato

Antinous, c. AD 130-138, restored c. 1795 as Ganymede, detail of the added jug, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Liverpool © Carole Raddato

Antinous, c. AD 130-138, restored c. 1795 as Ganymede, detail of the added jug, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight
© Carole Raddato

In the 18th century, it was common practice to add iconographical attributes to newly discovered ancient sculptures, as was allegorical portraiture (a living person depicted as a Greco-Roman god/goddess or other mythological figure) in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Antinous himself had been represented in many different divine and mythological guises such as Dionysus, Osiris, Apollo or as Silvanus.

Antinous, c. AD 130-138, restored c. 1795 as Ganymede, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Liverpool © Carole Raddato

Antinous, c. AD 130-138, restored c. 1795 as Ganymede, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight
© Carole Raddato

Antinous, c. AD 130-138, restored c. 1795 as Ganymede, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Liverpool © Carole Raddato

Antinous, c. AD 130-138, restored c. 1795 as Ganymede, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight
© Carole Raddato

Antinous, c. AD 130-138, restored c. 1795 as Ganymede, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Liverpool © Carole Raddato

Antinous, c. AD 130-138, restored c. 1795 as Ganymede, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight
© Carole Raddato

Around 100 portraits have been identified as Antinous, more than of any other figure from antiquity apart from Augustus and Hadrian himself. Images of Antinous were everywhere; on cameos, oil-lamps and bowls as well as colossal statues, busts and reliefs, while more than 30 provincial cities issued coinage stamped with his name and image. Nearly 2000 years later, Antinous’ beauty can still be admired in most classical collection of antiquities throughout the world.

The Lady Lever Gallery, Wirral (Liverpool) © Carole Raddato

The Lady Lever Gallery, Port Sunlight
© Carole Raddato

Antinous, c. AD 130-138, restored c. 1795 as Ganymede, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Liverpool © Carole Raddato

Antinous, c. AD 130-138, restored c. 1795 as Ganymede, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight
© Carole Raddato

Sources and references:

  • The myth of return: restoration as reception in eighteenth-century Rome by Jessica Hughes (pdf)
  • Sculpting Antinous by Bryan E. Burns (pdf)
Posted in Antinous, Museum, Mythology, Photography, Roman Portraiture | Tagged , | 2 Comments

The Byzantine “Bird Mosaic” from Caesarea, Israel

A stunning mosaic floor referred to as the “Bird Mosaic” was uncovered by accident in 1955 on the outskirts of Caeserea in Israel, outside the walls of the ancient settlement. With no budget available for its preservation, it was covered over again until the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Director of the Caesarea Antiquities Preservation project decided in 2005 to preserve the unique find and to reveal it to the public. Lying in situ, the Bird Mosaic offers a rare glimpse into the lives of a wealthy Byzantine-era Caesarean who commissioned this ancient work of art.

6th century AD Bird Mosaic, of a large villa or mansion, Caesarea, Israel © Carole Raddato

6th century AD Bird Mosaic,that adorned the atrium of a large palace complex outside the city wall of Byzantine Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

During the excavations of 2005 archaeologists determined that the ‘Bird Mosaic’ was part of a Byzantine palace complex dating from the 6th century AD. During the Byzantine period, the harbour city of Caesarea flourished and expanded as much as 800 m inland. This palace complex, covering an area of nearly 1 acre (4,000 sq. meters), was probably owned by a reputable and wealthy family. The “Bird Mosaic” adorned the floor of a large open courtyard, the atrium, with a portico along the western and southern sides.

The wide border of the mosaic pavement portrays wild and tame animals separated by fruit trees, bordering 120 round medallions arranged in 12 rows and 10 columns.

A gazelle, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic that adorned the atrium of a large palace complex outside the city wall of Byzantine Caesarea, Caesarea Maritima, Israel © Carole Raddato

A gazelle, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

A lion, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic that adorned the atrium of a large palace complex outside the city wall of Byzantine Caesarea, Caesarea Maritima, Israel © Carole Raddato

A lion, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
In Israel, lions were hunted to extinction long ago
© Carole Raddato

A leopard, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea, Caesarea The leopard, is Israel's only remaining big cat, though its future survival remains in doubt © Carole Raddato

A leopard, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
The leopard is Israel’s only remaining big cat, though its future survival remains in doubt
© Carole Raddato

A wild boar, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Israel © Carole Raddato

A wild boar, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

A bear, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Israel Sadly the local lions are now extinct © Carole Raddato

A bear, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
Sadly the local bears are now extinct
© Carole Raddato

A dog and pomegranate tree, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Israel © Carole Raddato

A dog and pomegranate tree, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

A dog, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea © Carole Raddato

A dog, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

An ibex, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea © Carole Raddato

An ibex, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

A bull's head, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Israel © Carole Raddato

A bull’s head, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

An elephant, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea © Carole Raddato

An elephant, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

A pomegranate tree, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Israel © Carole Raddato

A pomegranate tree, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Israel
© Carole Raddato

Each of the 120 medallion contains a bird, hence the name given to the mosaic. Eleven different species are represented, appearing several times, in an unusual arrangement of diagonal lines descending from right to left. Each diagonal line depicts the same bird. The birds include, flamingo, duck, peacock, partridge, guineafowl, ibis, goose, pheasant and pelican. Some other birds appear to be fanciful.

A peacock, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic that adorned the atrium of a large palace complex outside the city wall of Byzantine Caesarea, Caesarea Maritima, Israel © Carole Raddato

A peacock, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

A flamingo, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

A pheasant, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

A duck, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

A goose, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea © Carole Raddato

A goose, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

A pelican, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Israel © Carole Raddato

A pelican, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

A pelican, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Israel © Carole Raddato

A partridge, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

A fanciful bird, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

A guineafowl, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

A fanciful bird, detail from the 6th century AD Bird Mosaic, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

During the 2005 excavations of the Bird Mosaic, a few adjacent rooms were also exposed. These rooms are paved with mosaics with geometric and floral motifs.

Mosaic with geometric motifs, Caesarea, Israel © Carole Raddato

Mosaic with geometric motifs, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

Mosaic with geometric motifs, Caesarea © Carole Raddato

Mosaic with geometric and floral motifs, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

Mosaic with geometric motifs, Caesarea © Carole Raddato

Mosaic with geometric motifs, Caesarea
© Carole Raddato

Fragments of other mosaic pavements as well as pieces of plaster and roof tiles were found over the intact floors of the ground level, indicating the villa was a two storey building. One room contained fragments of a dazzling glass mosaic panel glowing with gold. It is believed to be the only one of its kind in the world. The nearly intact panel, also known as the “gold-glass table”, was found face down on the mosaic floor under a layer of ash and debris from the ceiling and the second floor. It is made of small glass pieces using the opus sectile technique. Experts believe the glass panel covered the surface of a wooden sigma table, burnt when the building was destroyed. The quality of its preservation is remarkable and its craftsmanship indicates Christian origins. To read more about the glass panel and see images of it, check this page.

The “Bird Mosaic Palace” is believed to have been destroyed during the Arab conquest in the 7th century.

The Bird Mosaic is located a short drive north of the Caesarea National Park. It is clearly signposted, on the way to the famous aqueduct along the beach.

Posted in Archaeology Travel, Byzantine, Byzantine Mosaic, Israel, Judaea | Tagged | 4 Comments

Art and sculptures from Hadrian’s Villa: Eight statues of seated Muses

This week’s masterpieces from Hadrian’s Villa are eight marble statues depicting seated muses.

In Greek mythology, the Muses were sister goddesses of music, poetry, and other artistic and intellectual pursuits. Poets and other artists often called on them for inspiration. Zeus, the king of the gods, was the father of the Muses. Their mother was Mnemosyne, goddess of memory. It was not until the 1st century BC that each of the Muses began to be related to a specific art. They were worshipped at the Museion of the famous library of Alexandria, from where the modern term “Museum” originates.

The statues were unearthed at Hadrian’s Villa in the 1500’s. They were made at the end of Hadrian’s reign by two Roman workshops reproducing Greek models from the 2nd century BC. The seated muses decorated the scenae frons (stage) of the odeon, a small theatre that could have held around 1,200 people.

The statues are now on display in the Prado Museum in Madrid.

Room of the Muses showing the eight marble statues depicting seated muses that were unearthed in about 1500 at Hadrian's Villa, Tivoli © Carole Raddato

Room of the Muses showing the eight marble statues depicting seated muses that were unearthed at Hadrian’s Villa
© Carole Raddato

In about 1670, the statues were acquired by Queen Cristina of Sweden (1626-1689) and exhibited in her palace in Rome. They were later acquired by Philip V of Spain (1683-1746) and reached the Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso (Segovia) in 1725.

The muses were heavily restored by the Italian sculptor Ercole Ferrata (1610-1686) who gave them new attributes in accordance with the identification they were given at the time. Only Terpsichore, the muse of dancing and choral song, was correctly identified. Due to their lack of original attributes, the exact names of the other muses cannot be identified.  They are now on display with their Baroque era names.

Statue of Terpsichore, Muse of dancing and choral song, unearthed in about 1500 in Hadrian's Villa, Tivoli © Carole Raddato

Terpsichore holding a lyre, muse of dancing and choral song, unearthed at Hadrian’s Villa, Tivoli
© Carole Raddato

The Muse Thalia bearing a portrait of Queen Cristina, muse of comedy, unearthed in about 1500 in Hadrian's Villa, Tivoli © Carole Raddato

Thalia bearing a portrait of Queen Cristina, muse of comedy, unearthed at Hadrian’s Villa, Tivoli
© Carole Raddato

The Muse Calliope with head of Aphrodite, muse of epic poetry, unearthed at Hadrian's Villa, Tivoli © Carole Raddato

Calliope with the head of Aphrodite, muse of epic poetry, unearthed at Hadrian’s Villa, Tivoli
© Carole Raddato

The Muse Euterpe, muse of lyric poetry, she is holding a aulos (double-flute) and has a small Eros at her feet, unearthed at Hadrian's Villa, Tivoli © Carole Raddato

Euterpe, muse of lyric poetry, she is holding a aulos (double-flute) and has a small Eros at her feet, unearthed at Hadrian’s Villa, Tivoli
© Carole Raddato

Urania, the muse of astronomy, holding a celestial globe, restored Roman copy of an original from the second century BC, unearthed at Hadrian's Villa, Tivoli © Carole Raddato

Urania, muse of astronomy, unearthed at Hadrian’s Villa, Tivoli
© Carole Raddato

Clio, Muse of history, unearthed at Hadrian's Villa, Tivoli © Carole Raddato

Clio, muse of history, unearthed at Hadrian’s Villa, Tivoli
© Carole Raddato

Polyhymnia, Muse of sacred hymns & poetry, unearthed at Hadrian's Villa, Tivoli © Carole Raddato

Polyhymnia, muse of sacred hymns & poetry, unearthed at Hadrian’s Villa, Tivoli
© Carole Raddato

Erato, muse of love poetry, unearthed at Hadrian's Villa, Tivoli © Carole Raddato

Erato, muse of love poetry, unearthed at Hadrian’s Villa, Tivoli
© Carole Raddato

Posted in Hadrian's Villa, Museum, Mythology, Spain | Tagged | 1 Comment

Exploring Aelia Capitolina, Hadrian’s Jerusalem

With thousands of archaeological sites, Jerusalem is one of the most excavated cities on the planet and to walk its streets is to walk through thousand years of history. This ancient city has been fought over more than any other place. It has been conquered, destroyed and rebuilt many times and Hadrian played a significant role in Jerusalem’s physical development.

In AD 130, on his grand tour of the eastern part of the Roman Empire, Hadrian visited the devastated city of Jerusalem , accompanied by his young lover Antinous. He established a new city on the site of the old one which was left in ruins after the First Roman-Jewish War of 66–73.

The new city was to be named Colonia Aelia Capitolina.

Aelia is derived from the emperor’s family name (Aelius, from the gens Aelia), and Capitolina refers to the cult of the Capitoline Triad (Jupiter, Juno and Minerva).

Drawing of the reverse of a coin from Colonia Aelia Capitoliana, depicting Hadrian as founder of the colony

Drawing of the reverse of a coin from Colonia Aelia Capitolina.
The reverse depicts Hadrian as founder ploughing with bull and cow the sulcus primigenius (aboriginal furrow) that established the colony’s pomerium (sacred boundary). The vexillum, or military standard, in the background represents the veteran status of the colony’s new inhabitants. The legend, COL[ONIA] AEL[IA] KAPIT[OLINA] COND[ITA], translates “The founding of Colonia Aelia Capitolina”.

Exactly when the construction of Colonia Aelia Capitolina began is still a matter of debate. Some scholars, relying on the writings of Cassius Dio, contend that the name change and the beginning of the construction of Aelia Capitolina occurred in connection with Hadrian’s visit in 130, perhaps even setting off the Second Jewish Revolt. Others, relying on the writings of the 4th century church father Eusebius, propose that the change of name occurred only after the Second Jewish Revolt was suppressed in 135. However, finds from recent excavations of the Eastern Cardo suggest that not only the foundation of the Roman city predated the Second Jewish Revolt but that the establishment of the city preceded the uprising by about a decade.

The urban layout of Aelia Capitolina was that of a typical Roman town; an orthogonal plan with a square grid of streets set at right angles. It was a military colony, a traditional and official settlement of veterans of the Tenth Fretensis Legion which had been in Jerusalem since the First Jewish Revolt and probably other Roman troops.

The colony was established just north of the camp of the 10th Legion. Its major buildings were the Porta Neapolitana in the north (now the Damascus Gate), a Temple of Aphrodite, two forums and, according to Roman historian Cassio Dio, a Temple of Jupiter built on the site of the former Jewish temple, the Temple Mount.

At Jerusalem Hadrian founded a city in place of the one which had been razed to the ground, naming it Aelia Capitolina, and on the site of the temple of the god he raised a new temple to Jupiter. This brought on a war of no slight importance nor of brief duration, for the Jews deemed it intolerable that foreign races should be settled in their city and foreign religious rites planted there.”

– Cassius Dio, Roman History, 69.12.

Reconstruction drawing of Aelia Capitolina

Reconstruction drawing showing known monuments of Aelia Capitolina
(the Eastern Cardo & Temple of Asclepius are missing) – Ritmeyer Archaeological Design

The 7th century Christian Chronicum Paschale lists several other buildings in Aelia Capitolina; two public baths, a theatre, a nymphaeum of four porticoes (perhaps the Pool of Siloam), a triple celled building (the Capitolium?), a monumental gate of twelve entrances (a circus?), and a quadrangular esplanade. However none of these buildings have been archaeologically located.

The Cardos

On the basis of Jerusalem’s depiction on the 6th century AD Madaba map (mosaic depicting the layout of Jerusalem, discovered in a Byzantine church in Madaba, Jordan), it is usually assumed that from the Damascus Gate in the north of the city (Porta Neapolitana) ran two wide colonnaded streets, the Western and Eastern cardos (Cardo Maximus & Lower Cardo). The Cardo Maximus is shown in the center of the mosaic with a pillared colonnade on both sides running south to the camp. Another smaller eastern street was connecting the north gate to the south part of the city, passing between the temple mount and the upper city and reaching the Dung Gate. It is indicated by a single line of columns crossing the top side of Jerusalem.

Reproduction of the 6th century AD map of Aelia Capitolina (Jerusalem)

Reproduction of the 6th century AD map of Aelia Capitolina

Paved and lined with columns, the Cardo Maximus was the main road that ran through the Roman and Byzantine city and also served as the center for the local economy.

Artist’s reconstruction of life in a Western Cardo of Jerusalem during the Aelia Capitolina period

Major sections of this 1900-year-old street have been excavated and are reused in today’s Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem. The entire roadway was originally 22 meter wide (40 feet) while the road itself was 5 meter wide (16 feet) with colonnaded and covered passageways on both sides to protect pedestrians from traffic and the heat of the sun. Shops lined the colonnades in its southwestern section.

Reconstructed section of the Cardo Maximus of Aelia Capitolina © Carole Raddato

Reconstructed southern section of the Cardo Maximus of Aelia Capitolina
© Carole Raddato

Reconstructed section of the Cardo Maximus of Aelia Capitolina © Carole Raddato

Reconstructed section of the Cardo Maximus of Aelia Capitolina
© Carole Raddato

The excavation of the Western Cardo by Professor Nahman Avigad of the Hebrew University began in 1975 and lasted two years. A 200 m long section of the cardo was exposed 4 meter below the present street level.  Today visitors can get a good idea of how the cardo looked like just beyond the entrance to the Jewish Quarter where two sections of the main street have been reconstructed. While some of the column bases were found in situ, most of the architectural features were reused in later structures that lined the cardo.

Reconstructed southern section of the Cardo Maximus of Aelia Capitolina © Carole Raddato

Reconstructed southern section of the Cardo Maximus of Aelia Capitolina with the wooden roof planks
© Carole Raddato

However the Hadrianic Western Cardo did not stretch this far south until centuries later. This portion dates to the time of Emperor Justinian. During the 6th century AD the city became an important Christian center with a rapidly growing population. The southern section was built to link the cardo to the two main churches of Byzantine Jerusalem, the Holy Sepulcher and the Nea Church.

Reconstruction drawing of the Eastern Cardo of Colonia Aelia Capitolina

Artist’s reconstruction of life in a Eastern Cardo of Jerusalem during the Aelia Capitolina period

Recent archaeological excavations in the heart of Jerusalem’s Old City have exposed several sections of the Eastern Cardo. Beneath the level of the Western Wall Plaza, at a depth of 5–6 meters, archeologists discovered the remains of a wide paved and colonnaded street, complete with shops on each side (much like the Western Cardo).  An Hadrianic date for the construction of the cardo was determined based on the finds discovered just beneath the paving stones. On the basis of these finds, archaeologists now suggest that the Roman city was planned and its main thoroughfares paved in the early years of Hadrian’s reign, about a decade before his visit to the East. (Source)

"Cotell2" by Zivya - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cotell2.JPG#mediaviewer/File:Cotell2.JPG

Excavation site in the Western Wall plaza where the remains of the Eastern Cardo was discovered
“Cotell2″ by Zivya – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

The Northern Gate, Porta Neapolitana

Underneath the Damascus Gate (built in the 16th century AD under the rule of the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent), remains of a gate dating to the time of Hadrian have been discovered and excavated. This gate features on the Madaba Map, which shows an open square with a column inside the gate.

Reproduction of the Madaba Map showing the Damascus Gate

Reproduction of the Madaba Map showing the Northern Gate of Aelia Capitolina, the broad plaza and the column supporting the statue of Hadrian

This impressive Hadrianic gateway, built with Herodian stones, consisted of a large arched passageway – situated beneath the opening of today’s Damascus Gate – flanked by two smaller, lower arches. It was protected on both sides by two guard towers. However, by the time the Madaba Map was made, the side passageways were blocked and only the central one was still in use. In front of the gate was a broad plaza, in the center of which stood a column supporting a statue of Hadrian at its top. Only the eastern entrance of the gate with its flanking tower has survived which can be seen below the modern raised walkway entering the Damascus Gate. The Roman gate of Aelia Capitolina has been restored and opened to the public; upon descending below the bridge leading to the Ottoman Damascus Gate, one can enter once again through this early gate into the city.

The Northern Gate of Aelia Capitolina beneath the Damascus Gate, built in 135 AD, Jerusalem © Carole Raddato

The eastern arch of the Northern Gate of Aelia Capitolina beneath the Damascus Gate, built in 135 AD
© Carole Raddato

One stone, just above the lintel of the arch, bears a battered Latin inscription with the city’s name under Roman rule, Aelia Capitolina. The end of the inscription reads, “.. by the decree of the decurions of Aelia Capitolina.”  The corridor beyond the surviving arch leads to the interior of the eastern gate tower. The tower has been preserved in its full height (12 meters) and only its ceiling is a later addition.

Inside the Hadrianic gate, a paved open area corresponding to the oval plaza we see on the Madaba Map is still preserved, from which the two main streets led down to two forums. A similar circular space is preserved at Gerasa (modern Jerash in Jordan), one of the Decapolis cities which, like Jerusalem, was rebuilt by Hadrian.

Paved open area preserved under the Damascus Gate, Aelia Capitolina © Carole Raddato

Paved open area preserved under the Damascus Gate
© Carole Raddato

Roman soldiers’ game carved into the pavement under the Damascus Gate, Aelia Capitolina © Carole Raddato

Roman soldiers’ game carved into the pavement under the Damascus Gate
© Carole Raddato

The original staircase that leads to the top of the tower is preserved to its original form and leads today to the Wall Walk.

The Damascus Gate (built in the 16th century AD under the rule of the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent © Carole Raddato

The Damascus Gate built over the remains of the Hadrianic gate
© Carole Raddato

The Triumphal Arch

Built in the style of a triumphal arch, the so-called Ecce Homo Arch, located near to the eastern end of the Via Dolorosa, is the central span of what was originally a triple-arched gateway. It was similar in purpose to the Arch of Titus in Rome commemorating the AD 70 victory over the Jews.

The Ecce Homo arch, a triple-arched gateway, built by Hadrian, as an entrance to the eastern Forum of Aelia Capitolina, Jerusalem © Carole Raddato

The Ecce Homo arch, a triple-arched gateway, built by Hadrian, as an entrance to the eastern Forum of Aelia Capitolina
© Carole Raddato

The central arch was flanked by two smaller arches, one of which can still be seen inside the Ecce Homo Church. The second small arch was incorporated in the 16th century into a Uzbek dervishes monastery on the other side of the Via Dolorosa street, but this was later demolished, taking the arch with it.

The so-called Ecce Homo arch, a triple-arched gateway, built by Hadrian, as an entrance to the eastern Forum of Aelia Capitolina, Ecce Homo Church, Jerusalem © Carole Raddato

The so-called Ecce Homo arch, a triple-arched gateway, built by Hadrian as the entrance to the eastern Forum of Aelia Capitolina
© Carole Raddato

Traditionally, the arch was said to have been part of the gate of Herod’s Antonia Fortress, which itself was alleged to be the location of Jesus’ trial by Pontius Pilate. However, since the late 1970’s, archaeologists have established that the arch was a triple-arched gateway built by Hadrian. It served as the eastern entrance of the Forum of Aelia Capitolina located to the west of the main north-south cardo.

The Ecce Homo arch, a triple-arched gateway, built by Hadrian, as an entrance to the eastern Forum of Aelia Capitolina © Carole Raddato

The Ecce Homo arch, a triple-arched gateway, built by Hadrian, as an entrance to the eastern Forum of Aelia Capitolina
© Carole Raddato

The Forum

Hadrian established two forums in Aelia Capitolina, one north of the Temple Mount and the other on the western side of the city. Both were large, open, paved spaces surrounded by temples and public buildings. Only the northern forum has been located with certainty. At the start of the 20th century, the French religious-archaeologist Father Louis-Hugues Vincent discovered a large expanse of ancient pavement immediately beneath the Convent of the Sisters of Zion. He declared that it was the “lithostrotos” of John’s gospel (the location of Pontius Pilate’s judgment of Jesus). Archaeology has proven conclusively that the pavement was associated to the arch and was part of the Hadrianic forum.

The paving of Hadrian's forum, thought to have been the "lithostrotos" of of John's gospel, Aelia Capitolina © Carole Raddato

The flagstone pavement of Hadrian’s forum, thought to have been the “lithostrotos” of of John’s gospel
© Carole Raddato

The site of the forum had previously been a large open-air pool of water called the Struthion Pool. It was built in 1st century BC next to the Antonia Fortress, a military barracks built around BC 19 by Herod the Great. The Herodian pool was laying in the path of the northern decumanus, so Hadrian added arch vaulting to enable the pavement to be placed over it. Beneath the paving is a large cuboid cistern which gathered the rainwater from guttering on the Forum buildings.

The paving of Hadrian's forum, thought to have been the "lithostrotos" of of John's gospel, Aelia Capitolina © Carole Raddato

The paving of Hadrian’s forum, thought to have been the “lithostrotos” of of John’s gospel
© Carole Raddato

The Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus on Temple Mount

At the excavation site in the Western Wall plaza, archeologists also uncovered two small streets that ran perpendicularly and led east from the cardo toward the Western Wall of the Temple Mount. This discovery may indicate that, during the early 2nd century AD, the Temple Mount area had something important standing in the place where the destroyed Second Temple once stood. Some scholars have proposed that there was once a temple – to Jupiter Capitolinus or some other Roman deity or combination of deities – that was built at the site of the Second Temple after Jerusalem had been transformed into a pagan city. In addition to Dio Cassius, other written sources implied that such was the case, but little archaeological evidence had ever been recovered to confirm or support this claim until the discoveries of these two small streets.

In AD 333, the “Bordeaux Pilgrim” mentioned that he saw two statues of Hadrian near the temple mount and that there was a building over the place of the Jewish Temple.

“There are two statues of Hadrian, and not far from the statues there is a perforated stone, to which the Jews come every year and anoint it, bewail themselves with groans, rend their garments, and so depart.”

– The Bordeaux Pilgrim, Itinerary 7a

However it has been thought that the pilgrim may have mistaken the statue of Antoninus Pius with that of Hadrian. This can be revealed by an inscription which today appears upside-down on the wall above the Double Gate located on the southern Temple Mount Wall. This inscription,  reused by later Islamic builders, could have been engraved upon the pedestal of Antoninus Pius’ equestrian statue.

Upside down inscription is from the Roman statue of Emperor Antoninus Pius that the Bordeaux Pilgrim recorded seeing when he was on the Temple Mount in 333 AD, Aelia Capitolina © Carole Raddato

Upside down inscription is from the Roman statue of Emperor Antoninus Pius that the Bordeaux Pilgrim recorded seeing when he was on the Temple Mount in 333 AD
© Carole Raddato

Shown rightside-up, the inscription reads:

The Antoninus Pius inscripion shown rightside-up © Carole Raddato

The Antoninus Pius inscripion shown rightside-up
© Carole Raddato

“To Titus Aelius Hadrianus
Antoninus Augustus Pius
The father of the fatherland, pontifex, augur
Decreed by the Decurions”

Double Gate located on the southern Temple Mount Wall © Carole Raddato

Double Gate located on the southern Temple Mount Wall
© Carole Raddato

In AD 398, Saint Jerome‘s commentary on Matthew mentioned that an equestrian statue of the Emperor Hadrian was still standing directly over the site of the Holy of the Holies, then consecrated to Jupiter Capitolinus.

So when you see standing in the holy place the abomination that causes desolation: or to the statue of the mounted Hadrian, which stands to this very day on the site of the Holy of Holies.

– Jerome, Commentaries on Isaiah 2.8: Matthew 24.15

Therefore it is reasonable to assume that there was an equestrian statue on the Temple Mount. These statues were probably destroyed by the Byzantine Christians after AD 333, the Jews in AD 614 or the Muslims in AD 638. This reused block (spolia) is the only part of the two statues found so far.

If a temple of Jupiter Capitolinus existed on Temple Mount, it is probable that the new sacred precinct had similar enclosures to that of the Temple of Jupiter that Hadrian built at Heliopolis (Baalbek). It is a theory put forth by the Tel Aviv architect Tuvia Sagiv, who has noted the striking similarity in both design and scale between the temple complex of Jupiter in Baalbek and the present arrangement of Islamic buildings on Temple Mount.

Temple of Jupiter, BaalbekThe standard pattern for such temples, as seen in the image above, was an entry through a propylon and an octagonal portico, a plaza with an altar, and the temple proper. Sagiv argues that when the architecture of the temple complex of Jupiter in Baalbek is overlaid on the Temple Mount, it matches the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock exactly (see the overlaid image here).

If Tuvia Sagiv is correct, then the Dome of the Rock is not the actual site of the Jewish temple. He suggests the Dome of the Rock was built upon the remains of the temple built by Hadrian (read more here).

The Temple of Asclepius & Serapis

In digs conducted in 1964 near the Church of Saint Anne, archaeologists discovered the remains of Hadrian’s Temple of Asclepius – the god of healing – and Serapis. Between 150 BC and 70 AD, a popular healing center developed on the site of the Pool of Bethesda, the water reservoirs that supplied water to the temple mount in the 3rd century AD. A water cistern, baths and grottoes were arranged for medicinal or religious purposes. In the mid 1st century AD, Herod Agrippa built a popular healing center, the asclepeion.

Excavations at the Pool of Bethesda showing the ruins of the Temple of Serapis with a column from an early Christian church, Aelia Capitolina © Carole Raddato

Excavations at the Pool of Bethesda showing the ruins of the Temple of Serapis with a column from an early Christian church (next to St Anne’s Church)
© Carole Raddato

When Hadrian rebuilt Jerusalem as Aelia Capitolina, he expanded the asclepeion into a large temple to Asclepius and Serapis. Several votive offerings were discovered at the site of the temple including a small edicule with snake – the symbol of Asclepius – and wheat ears, a statuette representing a woman getting ready for bathing as well as a Roman coin minted in Aelia Capitolina figuring the god Serapis.

Antoninus Pius mint form Aelia Capitolina, 138-161 AD CAP COAE Draped bust of Serapis right, wearing modius

Antoninus Pius. AD 138-161. Laureate head of Antoninus Pius right / Draped bust of Serapis right, wearing modius

Marcus Aurelius, with Commodus. AD 161-180. Confronted busts of Marcus and Commodus, each laureate, draped, and cuirassed / Draped bust of Serapis right, wearing modius.

Marcus Aurelius, with Commodus. AD 161-180. Confronted busts of Marcus and Commodus, each laureate, draped, and cuirassed / Draped bust of Serapis right, wearing modius.

In the Byzantine era, the asclepeion was converted into a church.

Ruins of the Temple of Serapis with a column from an early Christian church © Carole Raddato

Ruins of the Temple of Serapis with a column from an early Christian church (next to St Anne Church)
© Carole Raddato

The Temple of Aphrodite

At the junction of the Cardo Maximus with the Decumanus of Aelia, Hadrian’s architects laid out a vast forum (which is now the location of the Muristan). A sacred precinct was built adjacent to this forum in the area now occupied by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the purported tomb of Jesus and Calvary itself. According to Eusebius, Hadrian built a temple dedicated to the Roman goddess Venus in order to bury the cave in which Jesus had been buried.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the place where  © Jorge Láscar

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre built over the Hadrianic Temple of Aphrodite
© Jorge Láscar

The sources give conflicting reports but it seems the honoured god of the pagan sanctuary was Hadrian’s own family deity Aphrodite, a goddess also sacred to the occupying 10th legion: the emblem on its Vexillum standard was the Taurus, the zodiacal sign for April, the time of year when the legend was founded and auspicious to Aphrodite. The Hadrianic temple was  completely destroyed by the Emperor Constantine the Great 180 years later. He ordered that the temple be replaced by a church.

The Hadrianic temple was surrounded by a temenos (a sanctified area, marked by a protective wall) with a main entrance on the Cardo Maximus. In the 1970s, in the Chapel of Saint Vartan deep beneath the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, archaeologists discovered part of the original ground level and the protective walls of Hadrian’s temple enclosure (see image here). One of these walls has a stone etched with a merchant ship and an inscription “DOMINE IVIMVS” which translates “Lord, we shall go” (see image here). It is estimated that this stone dates from before the completion of the Byzantine church. It seems to indicate that the site of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was regarded as the authentic Golgotha even when a pagan temple stood there.

Coins minted in Aelia Capitolina

City coins were issued from the time of Hadrian to that of Valerianus (260) but are especially plentiful from the times of Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius, Eleagabalus, and Trajan Decius. The 206 coin types depict the many gods worshiped in Aelia Capitolina: Serapis, Tyche, Dionysus, the Dioscuri, Roma, Ares, Nemesis are all to be found in addition to the Capitoline triad.

Antoninus Pius. AD 138-161. Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right / The Dioscuri standing facing, each holding spear.

Antoninus Pius. AD 138-161. Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right / The Dioscuri standing facing, each holding spear.

Aelia was a quiet provincial city but great events such the imperial visit of Septimius Severus in 201 also took place. It was commemorated by an inscription discovered near the Western Wall. On this occasion the colony received the honorary title “Commodiana Pia Felix”, appearing for the first time on the coins of Geta.

Elagabalus coin bearing the new name of the city Aelia Capitolina Commodiana Pia Felix COL AEL CAP COM P F on the reverse with bust of Serapis wearing modius

Epigraphic evidence

As recently as two weeks ago, on Wednesday 22nd October (the day I arrived in Jerusalem), a rare find of historical significance was unveiled and displayed to the public by the Israel Antiquities Authority: large slab of limestone engraved with an official Latin inscription dedicated to Hadrian.

Photo of the Latin inscription set against the Rockefeller Museum, seat of the Israel Antiquities Authority in Jerusalem © Carole Raddato

Photo of the Latin inscription set against the Rockefeller Museum, seat of the Israel Antiquities Authority in Jerusalem
© Carole Raddato

The fragmented stone, roughly a meter wide, with Latin text inscribed in six lines, might have been part of a monumental arch dedicated Hadrian in 130 in honor of his imperial visit. Researchers believe this is among the most important Latin inscriptions ever discovered in Jerusalem and may shed light on the timeline of Jerusalem’s reconstruction.

Latin inscription dedicated to Hadrian found in Jerusalem, it was  incorporated in secondary use around the opening of a deep cistern © Carole Raddato

Latin inscription dedicated to Hadrian found in Jerusalem, it was incorporated in secondary use around the opening of a deep cistern
© Carole Raddato

Their analysis revealed that this inscription is the right half of an inscription discovered nearby in the late 19th century by the French archaeologist Charles Clermont-Ganneau. The two slabs are currently on display in the courtyard of Studium Biblicum Franciscanum Museum.

Two fragments of an imperial inscription in Latin from Aelia Capitolina dedicated to Hadrian, on display in the courtyard of Studium Biblicum Franciscanum Museum, Jerusalem © Carole Raddato

Two fragments of the imperial inscription dedicated to Hadrian, on display in the courtyard of Studium Biblicum Franciscanum Museum, Jerusalem
© Carole Raddato

Putting the slabs together, the complete inscription reads:

 ”To the Imperator Caesar Traianus Hadrianus Augustus, son of the deified Traianus Parthicus, grandson of the deified Nerva, high priest, invested with the tribunician power for the 14th time, consul for the third time, father of the country [dedicated by] the 10th legion Fretensis (second hand) Antoniniana”

The new part of the inscription provides confirmation that the Tenth Legion was in Jerusalem during the period between the two revolts, the destruction of the Second Temple in AD 70 and the Bar Kokhba revolt.

Tile fragment with a stamp of the Tenth Legion, "LG X F", and its symbol, a wild boar and a battleship, found in Jerusalem, 1st-2nd century AD, Israel Museum © Carole Raddato

Tile fragment with a stamp of the Tenth Legion, “LG X F”, and its symbol, a wild boar and a battleship, found in Jerusalem, 1st-2nd century AD, Israel Museum
© Carole Raddato

The inscription may also help researchers to understand the historical factors that led to the Bar Kokhba revolt. Did the construction of Aelia Capitolina and the building of a pagan temple on the site of the Jewish Temple Mount lead to the revolt? Or did these two events were putative measures Hadrian took against Jerusalem in the aftermath of the revolt?

During the reign of Constantine the Great, in the fourth century AD, Jerusalem became an important Christian city. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built on the site of the Temple of Aphrodite and the Basilica of Holy Zion at the south of the Western Hill.
Two and a half centuries later, Justinian built the massive Nea Church and extended the Roman Cardo further south. The Temple Mount was left in ruins.

Reconstruction drawing of Aelia Capitolina - Ritmeyer Archaeological Design

Reconstruction drawing of Byzantine Aelia Capitolina – Ritmeyer Archaeological Design

Sources:

    • The Archaeology of the Holy Land: From the Destruction of Solomon’s Temple by Jodi Magness (Cambridge University Press 2012)
    • Keys to Jerusalem: Collected Essays By Jerome Murphy-O’Connor (Oxford Univ Pr 2012)
    • The Foundation of Aelia Capitolina in Light of New Excavations along the Eastern Cardo by Shlomit Wekshler-Bdolah, Israel Antiquities Authority (2014 Israel Exploration Society)
    • The location of the Temple on the Temple Mount based on the Aqueduct and rock levels at Mount Moriah in Jerusalem by Tuvia Sagiv (2008) (Read online)
    • A Rare 2,000 Year Old Commemorative Inscription Dedicated to the Emperor Hadrian was Uncovered in Jerusalem (october 2014) published by the Israel Antiquities Authority
    • The Coinage of Aelia Capitolina,
    • Archaeological researches in Palestine during the years 1873-1874 by Charles Clermont-Ganneau Vol. 1 (Published 1896 by Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund in London) (Read online)
Here I am in front of the Latin inscription dedicated to Hadrian reveiled in Jerusalem on Wednesday 20th October 2014 © Carole Raddato

Here I am in front of the Latin inscription dedicated to Hadrian reveiled in Jerusalem on Wednesday 22th October 2014
© Carole Raddato

Posted in Archaeology Travel, Epigraphy, Hadrian, Israel, Judaea, Photography, Roman Army, SPQR | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

The inscription dedicated to Hadrian from the Tel Shalem arch

About a year and a half after the discovery of the bronze statue of Hadrian (see previous post here) in 1977, six fragments of a monumental Latin inscription – the largest ever found in Israel – were discovered near the camp of the Sixth Legion in Tel Shalem.

Monumental inscription from a triumphal arch dedicated to Hadrian, discovered near the camp of the Sixth Legion at Tel Shalem, Israel Museum, Jerusalem © Carole Raddato

Monumental inscription from a triumphal arch dedicated to Hadrian, discovered near the camp of the Sixth Legion at Tel Shalem, Israel Museum, Jerusalem
© Carole Raddato

The inscription, inscribed in three lines, had belonged to a large triumphal arch erected presumably in AD 136 by order of the Roman Senate to commemorate the suppression of the Bar Kokhba revolt.

A proposed reconstruction of the inscription was made in 1999 by Professor Werner Eck of the University of Cologne, a renowned scholar on Roman ancient history. According to W. Eck the inscripton reads (with the expansion of abbreviations):

Proposed restoration of the monumental inscription by W. Eck (1999)

Proposed restoration of the monumental inscription by W. Eck (1999)

Imp (eratori) Cae [s (ari) divi T] ra [iani Par-]
th [i] ci f (ilio) d [Ivi Nervae NEP (Oti) Tr] Aiano [Hadriano Aug (Usto)]
pon [t] if (i) m [ax (imo), Trib (Unicia pot (estate) XX ?, imp (eratori) I] I, co (n) s (uli) [III, p (atri) p (atriae) S (enatus) P (opulus) q (ue) R (omanus)?]

The reconstructed titulare by W. Eck precisely dates the arch. In AD 136 Hadrian accepted the title of Imperator for the 2nd time -IMP II-. If W. Eck’s reconstruction is correct then the arch was dedicated to Hadrian in honor of his victory over the Jews. Unfortunately, the end of the third line, where the dedicator was mentioned, is not preserved. However W. Eck’s reconstruction, when using the correct scale, demonstrates that only a few letters are missing after the emperor’s titles. The choice seemed quite clear for W. Eck; the letter missing were SPQR -Senātus Populusque Rōmānus- (the Senate and the People of Rome). The Senate and the People of Rome is several times attested as having honoured emperors by erecting an arch or some other large monument in the provinces to commemorate a great achievement, especially an important victory.

The impressive dimensions of the inscription – about 11 m wide – and the size of the letters – 41cm high in the first line – show that the inscription belonged to a monumental arch similar to the Arch of Titus in Rome, erected after his death to commemorate his conquest of Jerusalem.

Reconstruction drawing of the triumphal arch dedicated to Hadrian near the camp of the Sixth Legion at Tel Shalem, Israel Museum, Jerusalem

Reconstruction drawing of the triumphal arch dedicated to Hadrian near the camp of the Sixth Legion at Tel Shalem, Israel Museum, Jerusalem

Celebrations of the victory over the Bar Kokhba revolt were not confined to Judaea. Monuments commemorating the event were also set up in Rome; an inscribed slab (CIL VI 974) from the base of a colossal statue of Hadrian dedicated directly beneath the Temple of the deified Vespasian and Titus – the first destroyers of the Jews – has survived. This may indicate an attempt to link the Bar Kokhba revolt victory with Vespasian’s victory during the First Jewish–Roman War.

CIL VI 974

The name of the rebellious province of Judaea was officially changed to Syria Palaestina (chosen after the Philistines, ancient enemies of the Israelites) as further punishment of the defeated and the Jewish population expelled.

Sources:

  • Werner Eck, The bar Kokhba Revolt: The Roman Point of View , The Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 89, (1999), pp. 76-89
  • The Israel Museum (museum link)
Posted in Epigraphy, Hadrian, Israel, Judaea, Museum, SPQR | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Bronze statue of Hadrian from the legionary camp at Tel Shalem (Judaea), Israel Museum

A magnificent bronze statue of Hadrian, now on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, was found by chance by an American tourist in Tel Shalem (Beth Shean Valley, Israel) on 25th July 1975 while searching for ancient coins with a metal detector. Tel Shalem was once occupied by a detachment of the Sixth Roman Legion (Legio VI Ferrata). The 50 fragments of this statue were found in a building which stood at the center of the camp, perhaps in the principia (the headquarters tent or building).

Bronze statue of Hadrian, found at the Camp of the Sixth Roman Legion in Tel Shalem, 117–138 AD, Israel Museum, Jerusalem © Carole Raddato

Bronze statue of Hadrian, found at the Camp of the Sixth Roman Legion in Tel Shalem, Israel Museum, Jerusalem
© Carole Raddato

This remarkable statue was apparently used for the ritual worship of the emperor. Evidence suggests that it may have been erected in AD 132-133 to commemorate Hadrian’s personal involvement in suppressing the Bar Kokhba revolt or that it may have been set up in AD 135 to celebrate the conclusion of Hadrian’s reorganisation of Judaea into a new province named Syria-Palestina.

The statue probably portrays Hadrian in the pose of the supreme military commander greeting his troops (adlocutio) or as a conqueror stepping on a defeated enemy (a head of a youth was found next to the statue), though it’s far from certain that the head and the cuirass originally belong together.  Nevertheless, the Jerusalem bust is one of the finest bronze portraits to survive from antiquity. Only a few of this type of statues have been preserved in bronze, most of the surviving ones were made of marble. Hence the importance of this statue, which is further enhanced by its high quality of execution.

The head, cast in one piece and found intact, is one of the finest extant portraits of the emperor and is of a type popular in the provinces; the Rollockenfrisur type. Probably cast in an imperial workshop in Rome, Greece or in Asia Minor, the statue features the standardized likeness of the emperor, down to the unique shape of his earlobe, a symptom of the heart disease that eventually caused his death.

Bronze statue of Hadrian, found at the Camp of the Sixth Roman Legion in Tel Shalem, detail of the head, Israel Museum, Jerusalem © Carole Raddato

Bronze statue of Hadrian, found at the Camp of the Sixth Roman Legion in Tel Shalem, detail of the head, Israel Museum, Jerusalem
© Carole Raddato

The cuirass is decorated with an enigmatic depiction of six nude warriors. It has been suggested that the scene depicts a duel between Aeneas, wearing a Phrygian cap, and Turnus, the king of the Rutuli. The scene may be seen as an allegory of the triumph of Hadrian over the Bar Kokhba revolt.

Bronze statue of Hadrian, found at the Camp of the Sixth Roman Legion in Tel Shalem, detail of breathplate depicting a mythological battle, 117–138 AD, Israel Museum, Jerusalem © Carole Raddato

Bronze statue of Hadrian, found at the Camp of the Sixth Roman Legion in Tel Shalem, detail of breastplate depicting a mythological battle, Israel Museum, Jerusalem
© Carole Raddato

As is very common with cuirassed statue decoration, the torso wears a cingulum, a military belt wrapped around the waist and tied at the front in a elaborate knot (also commonly referred to as the Hercules’ knot). A paladumentum, or military cloak, falls over his shoulders.

Bronze statue of Hadrian, detail of the military belt (cingulum), found at the Camp of the Sixth Roman Legion in Tel Shalem, Israel Museum, Jerusalem © Carole Raddato

Bronze statue of Hadrian, detail of the military belt (cingulum), found at the Camp of the Sixth Roman Legion in Tel Shalem, Israel Museum, Jerusalem
© Carole Raddato

About a year and a half after the discovery of the statue, a monumental inscription dedicated to Hadrian was discovered near the camp. The inscription had been part of a triumphal arch built in AD 136 in honour of the emperor. My next blog post will be about this arch, the largest ever found in Israel.

Sources:

  • G. Foerster, A Cuirassed Statue of Hadrian, IMN 16 (1980) 107-110* G. Foerster, A Cuirassed Bronze Statue of Hadrian, Atiqot (English Version) 17 (1985), pp. 139-157
  • RA Gergel, The Tel Shalem Hadrian Reconsidered , American Journal of Archaeology , Vol. 95, No. 2. (Apr., 1991), pp. 231-251
  • The Israel Museum, Publisher: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2005 (museum link)
Bronze statue of Hadrian, found at the Camp of the Sixth Roman Legion in Tel Shalem, 117–138 AD, Israel Museum, Jerusalem © Carole Raddato

Bronze statue of Hadrian, found at the Camp of the Sixth Roman Legion in Tel Shalem, 117–138 AD, Israel Museum, Jerusalem
© Carole Raddato

 

Posted in Hadrian, Hadrian portrait, Israel, Judaea, Museum, Photography, Roman Army, Roman Portraiture | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Roman mosaics from the National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid

Two weeks ago I returned to Madrid to visit the new Archaeological Museum. Spain’s National Archaeological Museum reopened to the public six months ago after a massive six-year revamp that aimed at offering a state-of-the-art space for its collection of ancient artefacts. A total of 13,000 objects are on display in 40 rooms in a neoclassical building in the heart of Madrid.

National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid © Carole Raddato

National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid
© Carole Raddato

The museum spans the history of humans on the Iberian peninsula. The periods covered range from prehistory to the nineteenth century and include Iberian pieces such as the famous Lady of Elche and Lady of Baza sculptures, Roman and Greek works, Egyptian mummies and Moorish objects. The displays also include exquisite mosaics gathered from excavated Roman villas across Spain.

Mosaic with the Labors of Hercules, 3rd century AD, found in Liria (Valencia), National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid © Carole Raddato

Mosaic with the Labors of Hercules, 3rd century AD, found in Liria (Valencia)
National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid
© Carole Raddato

This 3rd century AD mosaic, made of limestone, was found in 1917 in Lliria (Roman Edeta) near Valencia. The central panel shows Hercules, dressed in women’s clothing and holding a ball of wool, beside the Lydian queen Omphale wearing the skin of the Nemean Lion and carrying Heracles’ olive-wood club. Around the central panel are vignettes depicting the twelve labours of Hercules.

Detail of the mosaic with the Labors of Hercules, 3rd century AD, found in Liria (Valencia), National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid © Carole Raddato

Detail of the mosaic with the Labors of Hercules, 3rd century AD, found in Liria (Valencia), National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid
© Carole Raddato

A splendid 2nd century AD mosaic from Palencia depicts the Gorgon Medusa and the four seasons. The Medusa mask and the images of the four seasons are surrounded by birds, sea lions and sea horses. They symbolize fertility and the harmonious evolution of the year.

Mosaic of Medusa and the seasons, ca. AD 167-200, found in Palencia National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid © Carole Raddato

Mosaic of Medusa and the seasons, ca. AD 167-200, found in Palencia
National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid
© Carole Raddato

Medusa was a popular image in many Roman homes as it was thought her ability to turn people to stone would ward off evil and wrong doers.

Detail of the Mosaic of Medusa and the seasons, ca. AD 167-200, found in Palencia National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid © Carole Raddato

Detail of the Mosaic of Medusa and the seasons, ca. AD 167-200, found in Palencia
National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid
© Carole Raddato

In Tudela, excavations have unearthed exquisite mosaics that adorned one of the largest Roman villas to be found in the northern peninsula. The mosaic below depicts a dolphin surrounded by plant motifs with intertwined garlands and branches with flowers and fruits. They symbolise the abundance and fertility of nature.

The Plant Mosaic with dolphin, 4th century AD, found in the Villa del Soto de Ramalete (Tudela, Navarre) National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid © Carole Raddato

The Plant Mosaic with dolphin, 4th century AD, found in the Villa del Ramalete
National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid
© Carole Raddato

Detail of the Plant Mosaic with dolphin, 4th century AD, found in the Villa del Soto de Ramalete (Tudela, Navarre), National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid © Carole Raddato

Detail of the Plant Mosaic with dolphin, 4th century AD, found in the Villa del Soto de Ramalete (Tudela, Navarre), National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid
© Carole Raddato

Another mosaic from Hispania depicts the Genius of the Year. It holds its attributes, a cornucopia (horn of plenty) and snake. The Genius of the Year favoured the passing of seasons and harvests. Genii were viewed as protective spirits, they protected the house and its inhabitants.

Mosaic with Genius of the Year, late 2nd century AD, found in Aranjuez National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid © Carole Raddato

Mosaic with Genius of the Year, late 2nd century AD, found in Aranjuez
National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid
© Carole Raddato

The concept of time has always held a great interest for humanity and under the Roman empire it took a very particular meaning. The Empire was likened to the universe and the Emperor likened to the master who regulated the universe. The passage of time and the succession of days, months and seasons illustrate the eternal renewal of the universe, and thus, the Roman empire (Source: Tunisian Mosaics: Treasures from Roman Africa, Aïcha Abed, 2006 Getty Conservation Institute). The mosaic below depicts a calendar with illustrations of the months and the seasons set amid bucolic and mythological scenes.

Mosaic of the seasons and the months, 3rd century AD, found in Hellin (Albacete) National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid © Carole Raddato

Mosaic of the seasons and the months, 3rd century AD, found in Hellin (Albacete)
National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid
© Carole Raddato

Mosaic of the seasons and the months, 3rd century AD, found in Hellin (Albacete) National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid © Carole Raddato

Mosaic of the seasons and the months, 3rd century AD, found in Hellin (Albacete)
National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid
© Carole Raddato

Each month is represented by a sign of the zodiac and a tutelary deity or a deity whose birth is associated with that month. There are also allusions to religious festivals. The mosaic celebrates the renewal of the cycle of nature which, aided by the gods, would provide the villa’s owner with sustenance and wealth.

The following mosaic, found in Fernán Núñez in the province of Córdoba, depicts the moment when Europa, daughter of Agenor, king of Tyre, is being abducted by Zeus in the form of a bull.

Mosaic depicting the abduction of Europa by Jupiter, 3rd century AD, found in Fernán Núñez (Córdoba) National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid © Carole Raddato

Mosaic depicting the abduction of Europa by Jupiter, 3rd century AD, found in Fernán Núñez (Córdoba)
National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid
© Carole Raddato

Such mythological images and stories accompanied the owners’ dinner parties and their guests. They decorated the floors or walls of their triclinia (dining rooms). A typical mosaic for a Roman triclinium had a small pictorial section (emblema) at its centre which the guests could admire during the meal. Zeus and his amorous conquests made a fine conversation piece.

Although most of the mosaic collection is from Spain, the National Archaeological Museum of Spain has acquired several smaller mosaics from Italy. The following mosaic, discovered in Rome in the mid-seventeenth century, depicts a Nilotic scene. Nilotic landscapes on mosaics and paintings portrayed life on the Nile river in Egypt and were abundant in the Roman world.

Nilotic mosaic, late 2nd century AD, from Italy National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid © Carole Raddato

Nilotic mosaic, late 2nd century AD, from Italy
National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid
© Carole Raddato

In this mosaic, a crocodile is trying to devour a man. Made of small, closely set tesserae called opus vermiculatum, it demonstrates the Roman fascination with Egyptian exoticism.

The museum also exhibits a pair of gladiator mosaics that were found on the Via Appia in Rome. Dating from the 3rd century AD, the first mosaic depicts the fight of two equites who can be identified by their small round shield. The lower scene depicts Habilis and Maternus, flanked by two lanistae (referees). In the upper scene, Maternus lies in a pool of blood, about to be dispatched by his opponent. The crossed-out O beside Maternus’ name symbolises death.

Mosaic depicting the fight between two murmillo gladiators named Simmachius and Maternus, 3rd century AD National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid © Carole Raddato

Mosaic depicting the fight between two equites named Simmachius and Maternus, 3rd century AD
National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid
© Carole Raddato

The other mosaic depicts a lanista officiating a gladiatorial contest. He is clearly identifiable in a white tunic holding his staff and gesturing to the gladiators. The secutor Astyanax and the retiarius Kalendio are engaged in a fight to the death. The lanista cheers them on. The outcome is shown above and confirmed by the inscriptions; the word VICIT appears beside Astyanax meaning he is the victor. Beside Kalendio’s name is a crossed-out O, an abbreviation for Obiit meaning “he died”.

Mosaic showing a retiarius (net-fighter) named Kalendio fighting a secutor named Astyanax, 3rd century AD National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid © Carole Raddato

Mosaic showing a retiarius named Kalendio fighting a secutor named Astyanax, 3rd century AD
National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid
© Carole Raddato

The most popular sport in Rome was chariot racing, even more popular than gladiatorial combats. Men went to the races and bet on which horses would win. The museum houses three small mosaics depicting scenes of chariot races. The first one below depicts a quadriga of the factio prassina (four-horse chariot of the green faction). The green team is victorious as the charioteer is holding a palm leaf.

Mosaic depicting a quadriga of the factio prasina (‘the greens,’ representing the spring), 3rd century AD, from Rome National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid © Carole Raddato

Mosaic depicting a quadriga of the factio prasina (the greens), 3rd century AD, from Rome
National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid
© Carole Raddato

The driver’s clothing was color-coded in accordance with his faction, which would help distant spectators to keep track of the race’s progress. The second mosaic below depicts a quadriga of the factio veneta (four-horse chariot of the blue faction) whilst the third one depicts a quadriga of the factio russata (four-horse chariot of the red faction). Both teams are shown as the winner of the race.

Mosaic depicting a quadriga of the factio veneta (the blues), 3rd century AD, from Rome National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid © Carole Raddato

Mosaic depicting a quadriga of the factio veneta (the blues), 3rd century AD, from Rome
National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid
© Carole Raddato

Mosaic depicting a quadriga of the factio russata (the reds), 3rd century AD, from Rome National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid © Carole Raddato

Mosaic depicting a quadriga of the factio russata (the reds), 3rd century AD, from Rome
National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid
© Carole Raddato

While the mosaics are the most impressive exhibits of its Roman section, the National Archaeological Museum also has an excellent collection of Roman portraits (including one of Hadrian), jewelry, weapons, ceramics, and inscribed bronze tablets that served as official announcements of new laws (Lex Salpensana, Lex Coloniae Genitiuae Iuliae).

FURTHER INFORMATION
Opening hours: Tue-Sat, 9.30 am – 8 pm / Sundays and public holidays, 9.30 am – 3 pm Closed: Mondays / 1 and 6 January, 1 and 15 May, and 24, 25 and 31 December
Address: C/ Serrano, 13 28001 Madrid

Website

Posted in Archaeology Travel, Gladiator, Museum, Roman art, Roman Mosaic, Spain | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Looking for Roman bridges in Provence, France

“Pontem perpetui mansurum in saecula mundi” (I have built a bridge which will last forever) – Caius Julius Lacer, builder of the Alcántara Bridge

Ancient Roman bridges represent one of the greatest wonders of the Ancient World. They are an exceptional feat of Roman construction and I hold a certain fascination for these impressive ancient structures. Naturally I always look for traces of Roman bridges while travelling. It was in Portugal that I really got excited about these engineering marvels. The country is indeed filled with perfectly preserved Roman bridges (see post here).

Last Summer I travelled to Provence in France and was asked by Ancient History Encyclopedia to write a piece on the 10 must-see ancient sites in Provence. Here I want to talk about the Roman bridges in this southern region of France where many have survived the centuries. Some are still in use today, some 2,000 years after they were built.

≈ The Pont Flavien

The Pont Flavien, with its surviving triumphal arches at each end, is one of the most beautiful surviving Roman bridges outside Italy.

The Pont Flavien, Saint-Chamas © Carole Raddato

The Pont Flavien, Saint-Chamas
© Carole Raddato

The Pont Flavien stands near the modern town of Saint-Chamas and consists of a single arch spanning the Toulourde River on the Via Julia Augusta. The name “Flavien” refers to a local Roman-Gaul aristocrat called Lucius Donnius Flavius, and an inscription on the bridge itself states that it was built at his instigation. In translation, it means:

Lucius Donnius, son of Caius, Flavos, flamen [priest] of Rome and Augustus, has ordained in his will that [this monument] be built under the direction of Cauis Donnius Vena and Caius Attius Rufius.

As the inscription indicates, the bridge was constructed at Flavos’ instigation following his death. It was completed around 12 BC. The bridge measured 21.4 metres long by 6.2 metres while the arches are at either end each stood 7 metres high.

The Pont Flavien, Saint-Chamas © Carole Raddato

The Pont Flavien, Saint-Chamas
© Carole Raddato

Following excavations, one can see the remnants of the Roman road with ruts worn by chariots and carts. The bridge was heavily used until fairly recently but it is now reserved for pedestrian use only.

The Pont Flavien, Saint-Chamas © Carole Raddato

The Pont Flavien, Saint-Chamas
© Carole Raddato

The Pont Flavien has been subjected to repetitive damages. In the 18th century, the western arch collapsed destroying the Roman lions on top of the pediment (the only surviving original lion is on the right-hand side of the eastern arch). Then the same arch was damaged by a German tank during the Second World War and finally collapsed when it was hit by an American truck. It was rebuilt in 1949 and some years later.

The Pont Flavien, Saint-Chamas © Carole Raddato

The Pont Flavien, Saint-Chamas
© Carole Raddato

≈ The Pont Julien

The Pont Julien, owning its name to the nearby city of Julia Apta (modern-day Apt), whose territory it was built upon, is a beautiful three-arched bridge spanning the Calavon River. Today, it is close to the town of Bonnieux.

The Pont Julien, Bonnieux © Carole Raddato

The Pont Julien, Bonnieux
© Carole Raddato

It was originally built in 3 BC on the Via Domitia, an important Roman road that connected Italy and Spain through the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis. (Gallia Narbonensis encompassed Roussillon, Languedoc, and Provence in southern France). The stone bridge replaced an older bridge built of wood and stone. It was probably destroyed by the torrential  waters of the river. Only a few blocks at the base at the based of the piles remain from that period as well as some gashes in the rock.

The Pont Julien, Bonnieux © Carole Raddato

The Pont Julien, Bonnieux
© Carole Raddato

With its three large arches (16.2 metres for the central arch, one of the biggest preserved from Gaul) its piles with holes and its roadway higher above the water, the new bridge provided a better drainage and a safer passage. The Pont Julien is perfectly preserved and remained in use until a neighboring bridge was built in 2005. However, it is now reserved for pedestrians and cyclists only.

The Pont Julien, Bonnieux © Carole Raddato

The Pont Julien, Bonnieux
© Carole Raddato

≈ The Pont romain de Viviers

The Pont romain de Viviers crosses the Escoutay River on the right bank of the Rhône near the town of Viviers in Ardèche. It was built in the 2nd or 3rd century AD on the road that linked the ancient city of Vivarium to Alba Helviorum (modern-day Alba-la-Romaine). The city of Viviers takes its name from its Latin name “vivarium”, meaning “fishpond”. This name was given to the Roman town because of the abundance of fish cruising the waterways around it.

Pont romain de Viviers © Carole Raddato

Pont romain de Viviers
© Carole Raddato

With its eleven spans, the Viviers bridge is approximately 108 meters long and 4.50 meters wide. Deeply damaged by severe flooding it has been repeatedly repaired or partly rebuilt. Repairs are attested from the 16th century to the 20th century.

Pont romain de Viviers © Carole Raddato

Pont romain de Viviers
© Carole Raddato

≈ The Pont Tibère

The Pont Tibère (Tiberius Bridge) is a Roman bridge crossing the Vidourle river in Sommières in the Gard department. It was built under the reign of Tiberius on the Via Luteva linking Nemausus (Nîmes) to Tolosa (Toulouse).

The Pont Tibère, Sommières © Carole Raddato

The Pont Tibère, Sommières
© Carole Raddato

It initially consisted of 17 arches, of which only 7 are now visible. It had a total length of 190 meters. During the Middle Ages, numerous arches were absorbed into the city’s structure. Today they serve as cellars.

The Pont Tibère, Sommières © Carole Raddato

The Pont Tibère, Sommières
© Carole Raddato

≈ The Pont Ambroix

The Pont Ambroix or Pont d’Ambrussum was a 1st-century BC Roman bridge which was part of the Via Domitia. The Ambroix Bridge is unquestionably the most spectacular ruin of Ambrussum, a Gallo-Roman archaeological site which has revealed an exceptional collection of buildings from the Gallic and Roman periods.

The Pont Ambroix, Ambrussum
© Carole Raddato

The Pont Ambroix is an impressive work of engineering, which allowed the Via Domitia to cross the Vidourle River. It is thought to have had 11 arches and to have been over 175 meters in length. Unfortunately, the ravages of time and the numerous floods took out all but one arch. Two had stood as recently as 81 years ago — which are reflected in Gustave Courbet’s famous 1857 painting of the bridge — but a violent flood in 1933 left only one arch standing.

The Pont Ambroix, Ambrussum © Carole Raddato

The Pont Ambroix, Ambrussum
© Carole Raddato

≈ The Pont romain de Vaison-la-Romaine

One of the best examples of Roman bridge-building skill is still standing to this day in Vaison-la-Romaine. The Roman bridge — built in the first century BC — spans the Ouvèze River, linking the lower part of the city to the upper medieval part of town. The bridge is unique due to its semicircular 17 meters arch. The bridge has been in continuous use since it was built and has already survived a direct bomb hit in World War II, as well as an attempt by the Germans to blow it up. It has also survived a devastating flood, which caused great damage on September 22, 1992.

Roman bridge of Vasio Vocontiorum, Vaison-la-Romaine © Carole Raddato

Roman bridge of Vasio Vocontiorum, Vaison-la-Romaine
© Carole Raddato

Related posts:

10 Must-See Ancient Sites in Provence, France (written for Ancient History Encyclopedia)

Looking for Roman bridges in Lusitania (Portugal)

Posted in Archaeology Travel, France, Photography, Roman Bridges, Roman engineering | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

A journey to Terracina on the Riviera of Ulysses

Following my visit to Minturnae (see previous post here), I continued my journey north along the Appian Way to reach Terracina, a picturesque town on the Tyrrhenian coast situated approximately half-way between Rome and Naples.

Legend has it that Odysseus sailed here on his travels and surrendered to Circe’s enchantment. Circe is said to have lived on Mount Circeo, a promontory stretching-out into the sea best visible from Mounte San’t Angelo above the town of Terracina. Nowadays the area is called the Riviera of Ulysses.

Mount Circeo as seen from Terracina, Italy

Mount Circeo as seen from Terracina, Italy
Wikipedia

After occupation by the Ausoni, Terracina was taken over by the Etruscans, followed by the Volsci in the 5th century BC who called it Anxur (the name of Jupiter as a youth -Iuppiter Anxur or Anxurus- god of the city) and made it a fortress against the Romans. In 329 BC, however, the city became Roman under the name of Colonia Anxurnas. It was later renamed Tarracina (a name probably derived from its Etruscan origin). A few years later, the Via Appia joining Rome with Capua was built, climbing to Tarracina on its way South.

Like Minturnae, Tarracina experienced a long phase of intense building from the time of Sulla (c. 138 BC – 78 BC) to Trajan (ruled AD 98-117) and Antoninus Pius (ruled AD 138-161). Much of the acropolis development dates to the time of Sulla, including the Forum Aemilianum. It was  named after Aulus Aemilius, a local wealthy man who ordered its construction.

Forum Aemilianum (Piazza del Municipio), Tarracina (Anxur), Terracina, Italy

Forum Aemilianum (Piazza del Municipio), Terracina, Italy
© Carole Raddato

The present Piazza del Municipio lays over the ancient forum. Its pavement is well preserved and it is still possible to see the inscription ” A. Aemilius A. F. Stravi(t)” in letters which were once filled in with bronze (Aulus Aemilius paved this – CIL 10.6306).

Forum Aemilianum (Piazza del Municipio), Tarracina (Anxur), Terracina, Italy © Carole Raddato

Forum Aemilianum (Piazza del Municipio), Terracina, Italy
© Carole Raddato

At the north end of the forum, the 11th century cathedral (consecrated to San Cesareo in 1074) is built upon the site of a temple identifiable as the Temple of Rome and Augustus whose column drums were reused in the building.

The Cathedral of Terracina built built upon the site of a Roman temple  whose column drums were reused in the building, Tarracina (Anxur), Terracina, Italy © Carole Raddato

The Cathedral of Terracina built upon the site of a Roman temple, Terracina, Italy
© Carole Raddato

Side wall of Cathedral of SS. Pietro e Cesareo with a remaining column from the Temple of Rome and Augustus still visible, Terracina (Anxur), Terracina, Italy © Carole Raddato

Side wall of the cathedral with a column from the Temple of Rome and Augustus still visible, Terracina, Italy
© Carole Raddato

A fine stretch of the Via Appia, which served as decumanus, is still preserved on the north side of the forum.

Forum Aemilianum, stretch of the Via Appia, Tarracina (Anxur), Terracina, Italy © Carole Raddato

Forum Aemilianum, stretch of the Via Appia, Terracina, Italy
© Carole Raddato

The access to the forum was preceded by a quadrifrons (four-sided) arch, which served as entrance to the forum. One side of the arch was discovered inside a destroyed medieval building under which lays a well-preserved stretch of the ancient Via Appia.

Remaining side of the quadrifrons (four-sided) arch under which lay a well-preserved stretch of the ancient Via Appia, Tarracina (Anxur), Terracina, Italy © Carole Raddato

Remaining side of the quadrifrons (four-sided) arch under which lay a well-preserved stretch of the ancient Via Appia, Terracina, Italy
© Carole Raddato

On the orders of Trajan, the Via Appia was brought down to sea level by cutting through the cliff along the coast. The Via Appia used to cross the hill at the back of the promontory by a steep ascent and descent. An attempt was made in 184 BC to get round it but it was probably not until early in Trajan’s time that a cut made in the Pisco Montano finally solved the problem (see image here). The depth of the cut is indicated by marks on the vertical wall at intervals of 10 Roman feet; the lowest mark, about 1 m above the present road, is CXX, corresponding to 36 meters.

It was probably following the road cut that some of the most important buildings of the imperial period were erected in the lower town by the harbour (amphitheatre, baths, etc.). However little is now visible, and its site is mainly occupied by a new quarter built by Pope Pius VI. Little remains of the ancient harbour constructed by Antoninus Pius and the area has been largely silted up.

Massive remains of another temple identified as the Capitolium (since it has a triple nave) lie next to Piazza del Municipio. Built іn opus reticulatum ca. 50-40 BC, the temple wаs dedicated tо the Capitoline Triad (Jupiter, Juno аnd Minerva). The temple was discovered by chance; in fact the site was brought to light only after the World War II bombings.

The Capitolium (temple dedicated to Jupiter, Juno аnd Minerva) dating back to ca. 50-40 BC, Terracina (Anxur), Terracina, Italy © Carole Raddato

The Capitolium dating back to ca. 50-40 BC, Terracina, Italy
© Carole Raddato

Restored between 1946 and 1948, the Capitolium still preserves its high podium, part of the access stairs, a column in Tuscan-Doric style as well as the remarkable remains of the walls of the three cellas in two-coloured opus reticulatum.

Remaining column in Tuscan-Doric style Capitolium (temple dedicated to Jupiter, Juno аnd Minerva) dating back to ca. 50-40 BC, Terracina (Anxur), Terracina, Italy © Carole Raddato

Remaining column in Tuscan-Doric style Capitolium, Terracina, Italy
© Carole Raddato

The cellas the of the Capitolium (temple dedicated to Jupiter, Juno аnd Minerva) dating back to ca. 50-40 BC, Terracina (Anxur), Terracina, Italy © Carole Raddato

The cellas the of the Capitolium dating back to ca. 50-40 BC, Terracina, Italy
© Carole Raddato

Opus Reticulatum on the cellas of the Capitolium dating back to ca. 50-40 BC, Terracina (Anxur), Terracina, Italy © Carole Raddato

Opus Reticulatum on the cellas of the Capitolium dating back to ca. 50-40 BC, Terracina, Italy
© Carole Raddato

The cellas are 9.25 m long each and half as wide. Underneath a door leads to the favissae, the rooms where the votive offerings were kept.

The podium of the Capitolium with the door leading to the favissae (the rooms where the votive offering were kept), Terracina (Anxur), Terracina, Italy © Carole Raddato

The podium of the Capitolium with the door leading to the favissae, Terracina, Italy
© Carole Raddato

Another important public edifice was the theatre. It had a splendid natural background, the Tyrrhenian Sea and the sight of Mount Circeo.

The area of the Roman Theatre built during the 1st century BC, Terracina, (Anxur), Terracina, Italy © Carole Raddato

The area of the Roman Theatre built during the 1st century BC, Terracina, Italy
© Carole Raddato

The ruins of the Roman Theatre built during the 1st century BC, Terracina, (Anxur), Terracina, Italy © Carole Raddato

The ruins of the Roman Theatre built during the 1st century BC, Terracina, Italy
© Carole Raddato

A statue of the Greek playwright Sophocles (the so-called Lateran Sophocles) was found amongst the ruins of the theatre. The statue was displayed in the Lateran Museum in Rome before being transferred to its present location in the Museo Gregoriano-Profano in the Vatican.

The Sanctuary of Jupiter Anxur is perhaps Terracina’s most famous historical site. It dates back to the fourth century BC, though much of the development belongs to the first century BC at the time of the Roman general Sulla. Built on Mount Saint Angelo (known as Mons Neptunius in the Roman era), about 270 metres above sea level, the complex is large and spectacularly sited, dominating the shoreline and sea. From here one can admire the extraordinary panorama, which to one side gives onto Mount Circeo, on the other, onto the Fondi Plain.

View of the Fondi plain from the Sanctuary of Jupiter Anxur, Terracina, Italy © Carole Raddato

View of the Fondi plain from the Sanctuary of Jupiter Anxur, Terracina, Italy
© Carole Raddato

The best view of this sanctuary is from the sea or from the beach. If you are fortunate enough to be floating on a boat somewhere near Terracina, you will see, from a distance, the great substructures of the Sanctuary of Jupiter Anxur (see image here).

The sanctuary was surrounded by a defensive wall and nine round towers built to keep the Via Appia under control and as well as to keep Sulla from advancing onto Rome during the wars between Marius and Sulla.

Defensive wall, the so-called Temple of Jupiter Anxur © Carole Raddato

Defensive wall, the so-called Temple of Jupiter Anxur
© Carole Raddato

The temple has long been assumed to have been dedicated to Jupiter Anxur (Jupiter the young) who was the city’s protector, although recent studies and discoveries of votive objects attribute it to Venus.

The most impressive remains are those of the underground passageway, the cryptoporticus, resting on twelve massive arches in opus incertum on the south and west sides.

The 12 pillared arches of the cryptoporticus of the so-called Sanctuary of Jupiter Anxur, Terracina, Italy © Carole Raddato

The 12 pillared arches of the cryptoporticus of the so-called Sanctuary of Jupiter Anxur, Terracina, Italy
© Carole Raddato

The 12 pillared arches of the cryptoporticus of the so-called Sanctuary of Jupiter Anxur, Terracina, Italy © Carole Raddato

The 12 pillared arches of the cryptoporticus of the so-called Sanctuary of Jupiter Anxur, Terracina, Italy
© Carole Raddato

The sanctuary was built on a number of terraces. Above the cryptoporticus stood the place of worship, the principal temple, as well as the favissa (votive deposit) and the rock of the Oracle.

The ruins of the podium of the so-called Temple of Jupiter Anxur, Terracina, Italy © Carole Raddato

The ruins of the podium of the so-called Temple of Jupiter Anxur, Terracina, Italy
© Carole Raddato

Only the high podium of the temple remains. The temple was reached by a flight of steps at the center. The cella was almost square while its outer walls carried six engaged Corinthian half-columns; a deep porch with six columns along the front and four down the sides (see reconstruction below).

Reconstruction of the main temple and the rock of the Oracle of the so-called Sanctuary of Jupiter Anxur

Reconstruction of the main temple and the rock of the Oracle of the so-called Sanctuary of Jupiter Anxur

The rock of the Oracle of the so-called Temple of Jupiter Anxur, Terracina, Italy © Carole Raddato

The rock of the Oracle of the so-called Temple of Jupiter Anxur, Terracina, Italy
© Carole Raddato

The upper terrace with its U-shaped ambulatory (see reconstruction below) was used for military purposes. The area was kept under control by a contingent of 80 soldiers led by a centurion. The soldiers stationed here had a separate life from the sanctuary but a small temple in antis was built for their religious needs.

Reconstruction of the so-called Sanctuary of Jupiter Anxur

Reconstruction of the so-called Sanctuary of Jupiter Anxur

Further images of Terracina can be viewed from my image collection on Flickr.

—-

Sources: Wikipedia, The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites, The Appian Way: From Its Foundation to the Middle Ages, edited by Ivana della Portella

 

Posted in Archaeology Travel, Italy, Mythology, Photography, Roman Temples | Tagged | 2 Comments

Art and sculptures from Hadrian’s Villa: Head of a diademed goddess

This week’s sculpture from Hadrian’s Villa is a head of a goddess made of Pentelic marble. She is wearing a diadem in her wavy hair that are centrally parted and dressed in a chignon at the nape of her neck. It was found in a cryptoporticus near the circular temple dedicated to the Venus of Knidos.

Bust of a diademed goddess, found at Hadrian's Villa Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Rome © Carole Raddato

Bust of a diademed goddess, found at Hadrian’s Villa, Hadrianic period
Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Rome
© Carole Raddato

The head of this female deity was made separately for insertion onto a larger than life-size body. The type is known from other copies of the Roman period deriving from a Greek, probably Attic, model in the severe style (470-460 BC).

This head is on display at the National Roman Museum – Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Rome.

Posted in Hadrian, Hadrian's Villa, Museum, Roman art | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments