Exploring Minturnae, a forgotten ancient city on the Appian Way

On a recent trip to Italy, I visited the Archaeological Area of Minturnae, a little-known but impressive archaeological site along the Appian Way.

Minturnae was originally an Auruncian city (of which no archaeological traces have been found), one of the three towns of the Aurunci which allied themselves with the Samnites and made war against Rome in 314 BC. After being defeated by Rome the city suffered severe repression and was burned to the ground. The Romans settled in the area and built a castrum along the river Liris after realising the strategic and commercial importance of its close location to the sea.

The military settlement grew into a Roman colony in 296 BC and became an important trading port of the Mediterranean as well as a fortified commercial centre along the Appian Way.

A stretch of the Appian Way passing through the ancient city and serving as its decumanus maximus, Minturnae © Carole Raddato

A stretch of the Appian Way passing through the ancient city ( decumanus maximus) and the reconstructed monumental colonnade, Minturnae
© Carole Raddato

In the 1st century BC Minturnae was a flourishing city provided with a Capitolium (temple dedicated to the triad of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva), a forum and a theatre. During the Imperial era a new forum was built, surrounded by public buildings such as a Basilica, thermal baths, an amphitheatre and a macellum (market).

Today there are still significant Roman remains scattered on both sides of the Appian Way.

Plan of the Archaeological Area of Minturnae

Plan of the Archaeological Area of Minturnae
http://www.agerminturnae.org/

On one side of the ancient road one finds the ancient theatre, the Republican forum, the Capitolium and the temple of Augustus.

The Republican forum and the Roman theatre, built in the late Republican ear or at the beginning of the Empire, Minturnae © Carole Raddato

The Republican forum and the Roman theatre, built in the late Republican era or at the beginning of the Empire, Minturnae
© Carole Raddato

The Roman theatre, built in the late Republican ear or at the beginning of the Empire, Minturnae © Carole Raddato

The Roman theatre, built in the late Republican era or at the beginning of the Empire, Minturnae
© Carole Raddato

The theatre, built during the reign of Augustus, had a capacity of 4,500.  It underwent several restorations and reconstructions, the latest of which is thought to date to the 4th century AD. Statues from the scaenae frons have been recovered including one of Augustus and another of Livia. They are on display in the Antiquarium inside the theatre.

The Roman theatre, view on the temples and Republican & Imperial forums, Minturnae © Carole Raddato

The Roman theatre, view on the temples and Republican & Imperial forums, Minturnae
© Carole Raddato

The podium of the Temple of Augustus, built at the beginning of the Imperial age right alongside the Capitolium,  Minturnae © Carole Raddato

The podium of the Temple of Augustus, built at the beginning of the Imperial age right alongside the Capitolium, Minturnae
© Carole Raddato

The ruins of the Capitolium (temple dedicated to the triad Jupiter, Juno and Minerva), an Etrusco-Italic type temple built ca. 191 BC,  Minturnae © Carole Raddato

The ruins of the Capitolium (temple dedicated to the triad Jupiter, Juno and Minerva)
© Carole Raddato

The Capitolium was an Etrusco-Italic type temple with three separate cella which was built soon after BC 191. It is located in the southern part of the Republican Forum and borders the Via Appia.

The Republican forum, Minturnae © Carole Raddato

The Republican forum, Minturnae
© Carole Raddato

On the other side of the Appian Way were the macellum (market), behind which was a large bathing complex, and the tabernae (room shops). Recent excavations have also revealed the Imperial forum which includes the Basilica, the Curia and the public latrines.

The macellum (market) and the tabernae dating to the Hadrianic period (117-138), Minturnae © Carole Raddato

The macellum (market) and the tabernae dating to the Hadrianic period (117-138), Minturnae
© Carole Raddato

The macellum was the emporium of the city where local and imported food poured into the nearby port. The building dates from the Hadrianic period with subsequent intervention during the Antonine era.

The macellum dating to the Hadrianic period (117-138) and the reconstructed monumental colonnade, Minturnae © Carole Raddato

The macellum dating to the Hadrianic period (117-138) and the reconstructed monumental colonnade, Minturnae
© Carole Raddato

The bath complex developped behind the macellum. The examination of the building techniques let archaeologists think that the thermae may have been built during the reign of Hadrian. We can clearly see the caldarium and the tepidarium as well as the natatio (swimming pool) divided into two baths.

The tepidarium, the warm bathroom of the baths complex heated by a hypocaust (underfloor heating system), Minturnae © Carole Raddato

The tepidarium, the warm bathroom of the baths complex heated by a hypocaust (underfloor heating system), Minturnae
© Carole Raddato

The natatio (swimming pool) of the bath complex, Minturnae © Carole Raddato

The natatio (swimming pool) of the bath complex, Minturnae
© Carole Raddato

Black & white mosaic in the caldarium of the thermae depicting cupids pressing grapes, Minturnae © Carole Raddato

Black & white mosaic in the caldarium of the thermae depicting cupids pressing grapes, Minturnae
© Carole Raddato

Opposite the Republican forum lays the Imperial forum. It is a big square paved in Coreno stone. On the eastern side of the forum stood the most representative buildings of the public life of the settlement: the Curia and the Basilica. The Basilica was built during the reign of Hadrian.

The ruins of the Hadrianic Basilica of the Imperial forum, Minturnae © Carole Raddato

The ruins of the Hadrianic Basilica of the Imperial forum, Minturnae
© Carole Raddato

The latrines, located in the Imperial forum, Minturnae © Carole Raddato

The latrines, located in the Imperial forum, Minturnae
© Carole Raddato

A remarkable exhibition of archaeological materials, stone inscriptions and statues can also be seen in the Museum inside the ancient theatre.

Just outside the archaeological site, visitors can marvel at the 150 majestic arches of the very fine aqueduct. It was built between the end of the Republic and the beginning of the Empire in opus reticulatum. The aqueduct entered the city at the west gate bringing water from the Monti Aurunci 11 km away.

Aqueduct near Minturnae © Carole Raddato

Aqueduct near Minturnae
© Carole Raddato

3D reconstructions of the buildings of Minturnae done by the Istituto Tecnico Statale Costruzioni, Ambiente e Territorio Geometri di Formia can be seen online (website).

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

Posted in Aqueduct, Archaeology Travel, Italy, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A tribute to Augustus

This week marks the bimillennial anniversary of the death of the first Roman emperor, Augustus. He died on 19th August AD 14 at the age of 75 after a 41-year reign, the longest in Roman history.

Augustus left his mark on Rome and western civilisation like few others. He vastly expanded the Roman Empire, established a period of relative peace known as the “Pax Romana” (or “Pax Augusta”), a period of immense architectural and artistic achievement whose effects were felt far beyond the capital. His legacy is perhaps best represented in the abundance of statues that were erected throughout the empire during and after his reign.

Augustus of Prima Porta, discovered  in the Villa of Livia at Prima Porta © Carole Raddato

Augustus of Prima Porta, discovered in the Villa of Livia at Prima Porta
© Carole Raddato

Portraits of Augustus were used as symbols of his political propaganda. Abandoning the realistic style of the Republican period, his portraits always showed him as an idealized young man. This would set the standards for imperial portraiture used by Roman emperors over the next three centuries.

The Roman historian Suetonius (The Lives of the Caesars , Book II, “Augustus”) describes Augustus as

“remarkably handsome and of very graceful gait. His teeth were small, few, and decayed; his hair, yellowish and rather curly; his eyebrows met above the nose; he had ears of moderate size, a nose projecting a little at the top and then bending slightly inward, and a complexion intermediate between dark and fair.”

Suetonius also mentions that Augustus cared so little about his personal appearance and particularly his hair, that sometimes he would have two or three barbers working on it together to save time. However most of the portraits of Augustus idealize him dramatically, and he does not age over the length of his reign.

More than 200 images of Augustus survive, more than of any other emperor. The longevity of his reign, his popularity during his lifetime, his deification after his death, and the tendency of following emperors to be identified with him (including Hadrian) are factors that guaranteed an abundance of portraits of this man.

In addition to the famous statue of Augustus from Prima Porta (a larger-than-life, idealized statue of him in military dress – image above), here is a selection of 12 of Octavian-Augustus finest surviving portraits:

1. Bust of Octavian

Bust of Octavian, probably created ca. BC 31 after his victory at the Battle of Actium Rome, Musei Capitolini © Carole Raddato

Bust of Octavian, probably created ca. BC 31 after his victory at the Battle of Actium
Rome, Musei Capitolini
© Carole Raddato

2. Head of Octavian

Head of Octavian, dating to the Triumvirate at the time of the Battle of Philippi (42 BC), the oldest portrait known Museo Archeologico Statale di Spoleto © Carole Raddato

Head of Octavian, dating to the Triumvirate at the time of the Battle of Philippi (BC 42), the oldest portrait known
Museo Archeologico Statale di Spoleto
© Carole Raddato

3. Equestrian statue of Augustus

Fragment of a bronze equestrian statue of Augustus dating from the end of the 1st century BC © Carole Raddato

Bronze torso from an equestrian statue of Augustus dating from the end of the 1st century BC
National Archaeological Museum, Athens
© Carole Raddato

4. Bronze head of Augustus

Bronze head from an over-life-sized statue of Augustus, found in the ancient Nubian site of Meroë in Sudan, 27 - 25 BC © Carole Raddato

Bronze head from an over-life-sized statue of Augustus, found in the ancient Nubian site of Meroë in Sudan, BC 27 – 25
British Museum
© Carole Raddato

5. Augustus as Pontifex Maximus

Augustus as Pontifex Maximus, late Augustan period, Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Rome © Carole Raddato

Augustus as Pontifex Maximus, late Augustan period
Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Rome
© Carole Raddato

6. Veiled head of Augustus

Veiled head of Augustus, end of 1st century BC Ancona, Museo Archeologico Nazionale delle Marche © Carole Raddato

Veiled head of Augustus, end of 1st century BC
Ancona, Museo Archeologico Nazionale delle Marche
© Carole Raddato

7. Cameo of Augustus

Cameo portrait of Augustus, about AD 14-20 British Museum © Carole Raddato

Cameo portrait of Augustus, about AD 14-20
British Museum
© Carole Raddato

8. Bust of August wearing the Corona Civica

Bust of Augustus wearing the Corona Civica, ca. BC 29 Rome, Musei Capitolini © Carole Raddato

Bust of Augustus wearing the Corona Civica, ca. BC 29
Rome, Musei Capitolini
© Carole Raddato

9. Statue of Augustus from Arles

Marble statue of Augustus, found in the Roman theatre in 1750 Arles, Musée de l'Arles et de la Provence antiques © Carole Raddato

Marble statue of Augustus, found in the Roman theatre in 1750
Arles, Musée de l’Arles et de la Provence antiques
© Carole Raddato

10. Augustus Bevilacqua

The so called “Augustus Bevilacqua”, bust of the emperor Augustus wearing the Corona Civica, Glyptothek, Munich © Carole Raddato

The so called “Augustus Bevilacqua”, bust of the emperor Augustus wearing the Corona Civica
Munich, Glyptothek
© Carole Raddato

11. Bust of August wearing the Corona Civica

Bust of August wearing the oak crown discovered on the site of the Roman villa of Chiragan, BC 19-18 Toulouse, Musée Saint-Raymond © Carole Raddato

Bust of August wearing the oak crown discovered on the site of the Roman villa of Chiragan, BC 19-18
Toulouse, Musée Saint-Raymond
© Carole Raddato

12. Posthumous portrait of Augustus

Posthumous portrait of Augustus, discovered in Saintes (France), ca. AD 40 Saintes, Archaeological Museum © Carole Raddato

Posthumous portrait of Augustus, discovered in Saintes (France), ca. AD 40
Musée archéologique de Saintes
© Carole Raddato

Augustus was an important role model for Hadrian. He had a portrait of the first Princeps on his signet ring and kept a small bronze bust of him among the images of the household gods (Lares) in his bedroom. In restoring Augustan buildings at his own expense in Rome and in the provinces – ie. the temple of Augustus at Tarragona- Hadrian was able to revive the memory of Augustus and associate himself with that name. (Souce: Anthony R Birley, Hadrian: The Restless Emperor)

He wished to be seen as the new Augustus. The imperial coinage of Hadrian drastically abbreviates Hadrian’s titulare. Instead of the usual “Imp. Caesar Traianus Hadrianus Aug.”, he would soon be presented simply as “Hadrianus Augustus”.

Antoninus Pius, who was perhaps motivated by a desire to be publicly associated with the first emperor, restored the Temple of Divus Augustus built to commemorate the deified first Augustus. The restored temple was shown on coins which depict it with an octostyle design with Corinthian capitals and two statues – presumably of Augustus and Livia – in the cella. The pediment displayed a relief featuring Augustus and was topped by a quadriga.

Temple of Divus Augustus on a coin of Antonius Pius issued circa AD 158

Temple of Divus Augustus on a coin of Antonius Pius issued circa AD 158

Many more portraits of the Emperor Augustus can be viewed from my image collection on Flickr.

Posted in Augustus, Museum, Photography, Roman Portraiture, SPQR | Tagged | 5 Comments

The Nervan-Antonines in Cologne

Built in 1974 over the remains of a Roman villa, the Romano-Germanic Museum in Cologne houses an extensive collection of Roman artefacts from the Roman settlement of Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium (named after Agrippina the Younger, born in Cologne), the capital of the Imperial Province of Germania Inferior. The museum houses the largest worldwide collection of Roman glasses including the Cologne cage cup and the miniature portrait of Emperor Augustus in turquoise glass. It is also home to the world famous Dionysus mosaic and the Sepulcher of Poblicius.

Reconstructed plan of the Roman city of Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium (Cologne) in the 3rd/4th century AD, Romisch-Germanisches Museum, Cologne © Carole Raddato

Reconstructed plan of the Roman city of Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium (Cologne) in the 3rd/4th century AD, Romisch-Germanisches Museum, Cologne
© Carole Raddato

In addition to the everyday life artefacts of Roman Cologne, the Romano-Germanic Museum exhibits numerous portraits of members of the Julio-Claudian dynasty (including Augustus and his wife Livia Drusilla) and of the Nerva-Antonine dynasty.

The Nervan-Antonines are well represented as it was in Cologne that Trajan accessed to the imperial throne. The then governor of Germania Inferior received the message just a few days after Nerva’s death in February AD 98. The messenger was none other than his cousin and successor Hadrian, who at the time was stationed as a military tribune at Moguntiacum (Mainz) in Germania Superior. Hadrian’s first visit to Colonia Agrippinensium as emperor was in the late spring of AD 122 on his way to Britannia. During his time in the capital, Hadrian probably stayed with his close friend, Aulus Platorius Nepos, the then governor of the province. More than a decade later, between AD 134 and 138, Hadrian’s tour of the German provinces was commemorated on the imperial coinage (see here).

  • Nerva (ruled 96 – 98)
ortrait of the Emperor Nerva, Romisch-Germanisches Museum, Cologne © Carole Raddato

Portrait of the Emperor Nerva, Romisch-Germanisches Museum, Cologne
© Carole Raddato

  • Trajan (ruled 98 – 117)
Portrait bust of Trajan (?), Romisch-Germanisches Museum, Cologne © Carole Raddato

Portrait bust of Trajan, Romisch-Germanisches Museum, Cologne
© Carole Raddato

  • Hadrian (ruled 117 – 138)
Marble head of Hadrian, Romisch-Germanisches Museum, Cologne © Carole Raddato

Marble head of Hadrian, Romisch-Germanisches Museum, Cologne
© Carole Raddato

  • Antoninus Pius (ruled 138 – 161)
Bronze head of the Emperor Antoninus Pius, Romisch-Germanisches Museum, Cologne © Carole Raddato

Bronze head of the Emperor Antoninus Pius, Romisch-Germanisches Museum, Cologne
© Carole Raddato

  •  Marcus Aurelius (ruled 161 – 180)
Statue of a Roman citizen of the second quarter of the 2nd century A.D., a portrait of the young Marcus Aurelius was added by a neo-classical sculptor sometime before 1818, Romisch-Germanisches Museum, Cologne © Carole Raddato

Statue of a Roman citizen of the 2nd quarter of the 2nd century AD, a portrait of the young Marcus Aurelius was added by a neo-classical sculptor sometime before 1818
Romisch-Germanisches Museum, Cologne
© Carole Raddato

Head of Marcus Aurelius, 140/145 A.D., Romisch-Germanisches Museum, Cologne © Carole Raddato

Head of Marcus Aurelius, 140-145 AD, Romisch-Germanisches Museum, Cologne
© Carole Raddato

  • Lucius Verus (ruled 161 – 169)
Head of Lucius Verus, Romisch-Germanisches Museum, Cologne © Carole Raddato

Head of Lucius Verus, Romisch-Germanisches Museum, Cologne
© Carole Raddato

  • Commodus (ruled 177 – 192)
Head of Commodus, 170-180 AD, Romisch-Germanisches Museum, Cologne © Carole Raddato

Head of Commodus, 170-180 AD, Romisch-Germanisches Museum, Cologne
© Carole Raddato

Many more portraits of members of the Nerva-Antonine dynasty can be viewed from my image collection on Flickr.

Related posts: The Nervan-Antonines in Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Rome / The Nervan-Antonines in Copenhagen

The Nerva–Antonine dynasty, Romisch-Germanisches Museum, Cologne © Carole Raddato

The Nerva–Antonine dynasty, Romisch-Germanisches Museum, Cologne
© Carole Raddato

Posted in Germania, Germania Inferior, Germany, Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius, Museum, Nerva–Antonine dynasty, Roman Portraiture, Trajan | Tagged | 1 Comment

Art and sculptures from Hadrian’s Villa: Marble relief depicting a youth with his horse

This week’s masterpiece from Hadrian’s Villa is a bas-relief representing a boy with a horse, probably Castor taming his horse, accompanied by a dog.

Boy with horse (possibly Castor), marble relief from Hadrian’s Villa, 125 AD, British Museum © Carole Raddato

Boy with horse (possibly Castor), marble relief from Hadrian’s Villa, 125 AD, British Museum
© Carole Raddato

This marble slab was carved using the flat ancient style in the manner of Greek works of the 5th century BC.  It was found in an area of Hadrian’s villa known as the Pantanello (Little Bog) by Gavin Hamilton in about 1769, and subsequently formed one of the Townley Marbles collection bought by the British Museum. The discoveries at the Pantanello were considerable. Many sculptures and architectural fragments that are now in major international collections were found including a colossal head of Hercules and two busts of Hadrian.

Source

Posted in Hadrian, Hadrian's Villa, Roman art | 1 Comment

The Painted Tombs of Paestum

With its three magnificent large Doric temples, Paestum became a well-known site thanks to the 18th century engravings by Piranesi and Goethe’s impressive descriptions in his Italian Journey. However Paestum is also renowned for its tombs decorated with painted scenes. During excavations in the 1960s, around 200 richly painted tombs from the Lucanian period (4th century B.C.) were discovered in a small necropolis about a kilometre north immediately outside the city walls.

The tombs were painted on the inside with scenes depicting funerals and the passage of the dead into the underworld. They were executed on site right after the four slabs had been put in place in the pit. These paintings were executed using  a technique resembling fresco. A thin layer of plaster was applied to a smoothed travertine slab. This style of tomb decoration blossomed under the Lucanians, a native people from mainland Italy who took over the city around 400 B.C. The scenes depict funerary games and rituals; the deceased on his/her deathbed, chariot racing, hunting scenes and duals between men.

One particularly richly decorated tomb is the so-called Tomb of the Diver. The tomb, which dates to around 480 B.C., is unique in the Greek colonies in Italy.  The significance of this particular tomb is that it contains the only example of Greek wall painting from the Archaic, or Classical period to survive in its entirety. It is made of five limestone blocks forming the four lateral walls and the roof, the floor being excavated in the natural rock ground. The paintings on the four walls depict a symposium scene, while the cover slab shows the famous scene that gives the tomb its name: a young man diving into a curling and waving stream of water, the passage from life to death.

Here is a series of images from the Paestum Archaeological Museum collection of paintings, starting with some pictures of the Tomb of the Diver.

The Diver, painting from the covering slab of the Tomb of the Diver, 470 BC, Paestum Archaeological Museum © Carole Raddato

The Diver, painting from the covering slab of the Tomb of the Diver, 470 BC, Paestum Archaeological Museum
© Carole Raddato

Fresco painting from lateral walls of the Tomb of the Diver depicting a symposium scene, 5th century BC, Paestum Archaeological Museum © Carole Raddato

Fresco painting from lateral walls of the Tomb of the Diver depicting a symposium scene, 5th century BC, Paestum Archaeological Museum
© Carole Raddato

Fresco painting from lateral walls of the Tomb of the Diver depicting a symposium scene, 5th century BC, Paestum Archaeological Museum © Carole Raddato

Fresco painting from lateral walls of the Tomb of the Diver depicting a symposium scene, 5th century BC, Paestum Archaeological Museum
© Carole Raddato

Detail of fresco from west walls of the Tomb of the Diver depicting a a cortege of guests, 5th century BC, Paestum Archaeological Museum © Carole Raddato

Detail of fresco from west walls of the Tomb of the Diver depicting a a cortege of guests, 5th century BC, Paestum Archaeological Museum
© Carole Raddato

Lucanian fresco tomb painting of a chariot race, from the Necropolis of Gaudo, 340-330 BC, Paestum Archaeological Museum © Carole Raddato

Lucanian fresco tomb painting of a chariot race, 340-330 BC, Paestum Archaeological Museum
© Carole Raddato

Lucanian fresco tomb painting of a man on a chariot, 350-330 BC, Paestum Archaeological Museum © Carole Raddato

Lucanian fresco tomb painting of a man on a chariot, 350-330 BC, Paestum Archaeological Museum
© Carole Raddato

Lucanian fresco tomb painting of a man racing a chariot past the winning post, 3rd century BC, PaestrumPaestum Archaeological Museum © Carole Raddato

Lucanian fresco tomb painting of a man racing a biga race, 3rd century BC, PaestrumPaestum Archaeological Museum
© Carole Raddato

Lucanian fresco tomb painting of 2 warriors fighting, 3rd century BC, Paestum Archaeological Museum © Carole Raddato

Lucanian fresco tomb painting of 2 warriors fighting, 3rd century BC, Paestum Archaeological Museum
© Carole Raddato

Lucanian fresco tomb painting of a two men fighting, 3rd century BC, Paestum Archaeological Museum © Carole Raddato

Lucanian fresco tomb painting of a two men fighting, 3rd century BC, Paestum Archaeological Museum
© Carole Raddato

Lucanian fresco tomb painting depicting a duel and boxing contest, 3rd century BC, Paestum Archaeological Museum © Carole Raddato

Lucanian fresco tomb painting depicting a duel and boxing contest, 3rd century BC, Paestum Archaeological Museum
© Carole Raddato

Lucanian fresco tomb painting depicting a lion hunt, 3rd Century BC, Paestum Archaeological Museum © Carole Raddato

Lucanian fresco tomb painting depicting a lion hunt, 3rd Century BC, Paestum Archaeological Museum
© Carole Raddato

Lucanian fresco tomb painting depicting a hunting scene, 370-360 BC, Paestum Archaeological Museum © Carole Raddato

Lucanian fresco tomb painting depicting a hunting scene, 370-360 BC, Paestum Archaeological Museum
© Carole Raddato

Lucanian fresco tomb painting depicting a hunting scene, 2nd half of 4th century BC, Paestum Archaeological Museum © Carole Raddato

Lucanian fresco tomb painting depicting a hunting scene, 2nd half of 4th century BC, Paestum Archaeological Museum
© Carole Raddato

Lucanian fresco tomb painting of a rooster, about 350 BC, Paestum Archaeological Museum © Carole Raddato

Lucanian fresco tomb painting of a rooster, about 350 BC, Paestum Archaeological Museum
© Carole Raddato

Lucanian fresco tomb painting depicting a duel judge by a sphinx, a flute player and two women weeping, 340 BC, Paestum Archaeological Museum © Carole Raddato

Lucanian fresco tomb painting depicting a duel judge by a sphinx, a flute player and two women weeping, 340 BC, Paestum Archaeological Museum
© Carole Raddato

Lucanian fresco tomb painting depicting the deceased on her deathbed (prothesis), 340 BC, Paestum Archaeological Museum © Carole Raddato

Lucanian fresco tomb painting depicting the deceased on her deathbed (prothesis), 340 BC, Paestum Archaeological Museum
© Carole Raddato

Lucanian fresco tomb painting depicting the deceased's departure for the underworld, 340 BC, Paestum Archaeological Museum © Carole Raddato

Lucanian fresco tomb painting depicting the deceased’s departure for the underworld, 340 BC, Paestum Archaeological Museum
© Carole Raddato

Lucanian fresco tomb painting depicting the goddess Victory on racing biga, 330-320 BC, Paestum Archaeological Museum © Carole Raddato

Lucanian fresco tomb painting depicting the goddess Victory on racing biga, 330-320 BC, Paestum Archaeological Museum
© Carole Raddato

Further images of the painted tombs of Paestum can be viewed from my image collection on Flickr.

Posted in Italy, Magna Graecia, Museum | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Animula vagula blandula… Hadrian’s farewell to life

Originally posted on FOLLOWING HADRIAN:

On this day ante diem VI idus quinctilias (July, 10th) in 138 A.D., Hadrian died after a heart failure at Baiae on the Bay of Naples.

He lived 62 years, 5 months, 17 days. He reigned for 20 years, 11 months.

Marble bust of Hadrian, from Hadrian's Mausoleum, National Museum of Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome © Carole Raddato

Marble bust of Hadrian, from Hadrian’s Mausoleum, National Museum of Castel Sant’Angelo, Rome
© Carole Raddato

Hadrian spent the last moments of his life dictating verses addressed to his soul. According to the Historia Augusta, Hadrian composed the following poem shortly before his death:

“Animula, vagula, blandula
Hospes comesque corporis
Quae nunc abibis in loca
Pallidula, rigida, nudula,
Nec, ut soles, dabis iocos.”

—P. Aelius Hadrianus Imp. (138)

These five lines defied translation. Nobody knows what they really mean, yet there have been forty three translations from the best English-speaking poets. Anthony R. Birley writes: “Few short poems can have generated so many verse translations and such copious academic debate as these five lines—a…

View original 363 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Pompeiianum, a reconstructed Roman Villa in the German town of Aschaffenburg

It is picturesquely located high on a terrace ridge overlooking the River Main. Now a unique tourist attraction, the building is a testimony to the enthusiasm for Antiquities in the 19th century.

Pompejanum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

Pompejanum, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

The Pompeiianum was built between 1840 and 1850 by order of Kaiser Ludwig I of Bavaria who had been inspired by the excavations in Pompeii. It was loosely modelled on the House of the Diosuri (Casa dei Dioscuri) in Pompeii. The Kaiser chose to built the Villa in Aschaffenburg because of its mild, sunny climate and its attractive position. The Pompeiianum was never intended to be a royal residence. It was a place where art lovers could study antiquity and see how life was like in a Roman house.

Pompejanum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

Pompejanum, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

Pompejanum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

Pompejanum, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

Visitors stepping into the Pompeiianum find themselves transported back 2000 years into the world of a Roman patrician.

The Atrium, Pompejanum. Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

The Atrium, Pompejanum. Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

Detail of wall painting in the atrium, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

Detail of wall painting in the 4th Pompeian style of the atrium, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

The Atrium, Pompejanum. Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

The Atrium, Pompejanum. Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

The rooms in the house are situated around the central atrium, an open inner courtyard which acted as the reception and living area. Cubicula (bedrooms) are arranged around all four sides of the atrium providing the perfect setting for original works of Roman art. Since 1994, Roman artefacts from the State Antiquities Collection and the Glyptothek in Munich are now on display inside the rooms of the Pompeiianum.

As a philhellene, Ludwig I patronized the arts and commissioned many neoclassical buildings, especially in Munich. He was also a frenetic collector. Through his agents, he managed to acquire such pieces as the Medusa Rondanini, the Barberini Faun, and the figures from the Aphaea temple on Aegina. The Glyptothek, which he commissioned, houses his collection of Greek and Roman sculptures.

Frament of Fresco from the theatre at Herculaneum, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

Frament of Fresco from the theatre at Herculaneum, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

 Drunken Satyr statue, Pompejanum. Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

Drunken Satyr statue, Pompejanum. Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

The splendid decoration of the interior and the mosaic floors were copied or adapted from ancient models.

Pompejanum, the Sacrarium, a place where sacred objects were kept, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

Pompejanum, the Sacrarium, a place where sacred objects were kept, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

Directly behind the atrium, opposite the entrance, is a room open on two sides (though both sides could be closed with curtains or folding doors in Roman times), the tablinum.

The Tablinium facing the Atrium, decorated in the 4th Pompeii style, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

The Tablinium facing the Atrium, decorated in the 4th Pompeii style, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

The tablinum was the office in a Roman house, the master of the house (paterfamilias) centre for business, where he would receive his clients. It often had an attractive mosaic floor and wall paintings.

Painting from the Tablinum, Minerva Preventing Achilles from Killing Agamemnon, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

Painting from the Tablinum, Minerva preventing Achilles from killing Agamemnon, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

Decorated coffered ceilings in the Tablinum, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

Decorated coffered ceilings in the Tablinum, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

The Roman domus was typically designed so that anyone standing in the vestibule could see straight through the atrium and tablinum to the colonnaded garden in the back of the house (peristylium). This has clearly been recreated in the villa.

The Atrium, Tablinum and Peristylium, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

The Atrium, Tablinum and Peristylium, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

Instead of surrounding their houses with large lawns and gardens, the Romans created their gardens inside their domus. The peristylium was an open courtyard within the house; the columns surrounding the garden supported a shady roofed portico whose inner walls were often embellished with elaborate wall paintings.

The back part of the house is centred around the peristylium much as the front centred on the atrium. Surrounding the peristyle in the Pompeiianum are the summer triclinium, the winter tricinium.

Winter triclinium with wall painting, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

Winter triclinium with wall painting, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

A triclinium is a formal dining room. It was named after the three couches (klinai, known as lectus triclinaris) typically found in this room. Each klinē was wide enough to accommodate three diners who reclined on their left side on cushions while some household slaves served multiple courses, and others entertained guests with music, song, or dance.

Summer triclinium with wall painting, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

Summer triclinium with wall painting, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

Dining rooms, like other rooms in Roman houses, often had beautifully painted walls and mosaic floors like the ones reproduced at the Pompeiianum.

Mosaic floor inside the summer triclinium, Pompeiianum, idealized replica of a Roman villa, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

Mosaic floor inside the summer triclinium, Pompeiianum, idealized replica of a Roman villa, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

In addition to the triclinia, surrounding the peristylium, are the culina (kitchen) and a single latrine. Wealthy matronae did not prepare meals; that was the job of their household slaves. The kitchen is complete with replica utensils and cooking wares. Baking was done in ovens, whose tops were used to keep dishes warm. Embers from the oven could be placed below metal braziers for a form of “stove-top” cooking as seen in this reconstructed kitchen.

The Culina, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

The Culina, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

The Culina, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

The Culina, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

Antique Roman glass, bronze vessels and Terra sigillata ware are among several authentic items on display too.

Beside the kitchen is a tiny room, no bigger than a cupboard, but one which often intrigues visitors most. It’s a Roman latrine. Single latrine in the house were located in or next to the kitchen. This was a typical arrangement which enabled the latrine to be used for the disposal of kitchen waste.

Reconstruction of a single latrine next to the culina (kitchen), Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

Reconstruction of a single latrine next to the culina (kitchen), Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

Upstairs are more cubicula (bedrooms) where several display cases have been installed, displaying ancient household objects, medical and cosmetic utensils, jewellery, children’s toys and oil lamps.

Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

In World War II, the Pompeiianum was heavily damaged by Allied area bombing but it was totally reconstructed and restored. It opened to the public for the first time in 1994.

In March 1995 the restoration of five rooms on the upper floor began and these new rooms have been open to visitors since July 2002. The ancient works of art exhibited on a permanent basis originate for the most part from the State Collections of Antiquities and the Glyptothek in Munich, which co-oversee the Pompeiianum as a branch museum. Since 2009 the Collections of Antiquities and the Glyptothek have also presented special exhibitions that change every year. The exhibition “The Immortals – The Greek Gods” is currently being shown until October 2014.

The exhibition room, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

The exhibition room, Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

Cave canem mosaic (beware of the dog), Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany © Carole Raddato

Cave canem mosaic (beware of the dog), Pompeiianum, Aschaffenburg, Germany
© Carole Raddato

The Pompeiianum enables visitors to get a vivid impression of what a Roman villa looked like and how life was lived in the domus. It is open daily except Mondays 9:00 to 18.00 from April 2 to October 12.

Posted in Germany, Museum, Photography, Pompeii, Roman Domus | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Art and sculptures from Hadrian’s Villa: Mosaic of the Doves

This week’s masterpiece from Hadrian’s Villa is a mosaic depicting a group of doves drinking from an ornate bowl, called Mosaic of the Doves.

Mosaic showing doves drinking from a bowl, from Hadrian's villa, 2nd century AD, probably a copy of Sosus's work (2nd century BC), Musei Capitolini, Rome © Carole Raddato

Mosaic showing doves drinking from a bowl, from Hadrian’s villa, 2nd century AD, probably a copy of Sosus’s work (2nd century BC), Musei Capitolini, Rome
© Carole Raddato

The mosaic is made of thousands of small tesserae in a dazzling range of colors called opus vermiculatum, by far the most sophisticated mosaic technique. It depicts four doves on the rim of a large basin of gilt bronze. One of the birds is drinking from this extremely refined vessel, whose handle is supported by a caryatid. The mosaic panel is an emblema, a decorative element designed to be the central point of an otherwise plain floor or wall. The emblema was originally an import from the Hellenistic eastern Mediterranean, where, in cities such as Pergamum, Ephesos and Alexandria, there were artists specializing in their production. One of them was Sosus of Pergamum, the most celebrated mosaicist of antiquity, who worked in the second century BC. The workmanship was said to be so perfect that real doves flew against the mosaic in a vain attempt to join their stone companions. (Source: S. Walker, Roman art -London, 1991-)

Mosaic showing doves drinking from a bowl, from Hadrian's villa, 2nd century AD, probably a copy of Sosus's work (2nd century BC), Musei Capitolini, Rome © Carole Raddato

Mosaic showing doves drinking from a bowl (detail), from Hadrian’s villa, 2nd century AD,
probably a copy of Sosus’s work (2nd century BC), Musei Capitolini, Rome
© Carole Raddato

The mosaic was discovered in 1737 during excavations at Hadrian’s Villa led by Cardinal Giuseppe Alessandro Furietti. Some scholars believe the mosaic to be Hellenistic and that it could be the famous Dove Mosaics by Sosus, which ancient sources described in the royal palaces of Pergamum. Other scholars think it is probably a copy of Sosus’ work made for Hadrian in the 2nd century AD. There are numerous copies that were made of this mosaic, even into late antiquity. In addition to Tivoli, these have been found at Delos; at Pompeii and Capua; in Marocco and Tunisa; and in the Christian mausoleums of Santa Costanza in Rome and Galla Placidia in Ravenna. But the finest copy of the Drinking Doves is the one discovered at Hadrian’s Villa. (Source: Umberto Pappalardo and Rosario Ciardello, Greek and Roman mosaics – Abbeville Press, 2012)

Mosaic showing doves drinking from a bowl, from Hadrian's villa, 2nd century AD, probably a copy of Sosus's work (2nd century BC), Musei Capitolini, Rome © Carole Raddato

Mosaic showing doves drinking from a bowl (detail), from Hadrian’s villa, 2nd century AD,
probably a copy of Sosus’s work (2nd century BC), Musei Capitolini, Rome
© Carole Raddato

The mosaic today is preserved in the Musei Capitolini in Rome and hence is known as the Capitoline Doves.

Posted in Hadrian's Villa, Hellenistic Art, Museum, Roman art, Roman Mosaic, Roman villa | Tagged , | 4 Comments

The Hadrianic reliefs from the Arch of Portugal (Arco di Portogallo), Rome

About halfway along today’s via del Corso, once called via Lata, a large arch of Roman age spanned the street up to the mid 17th century. It was earlier known as the Arcus Hadriani, but from the sixteenth century it was called Arco di Portogallo (Arch of Portual) because it adjoined the residence of the Portuguese ambassador, the Palazzo Peretti-Fiano.

The arch was removed in 1662 by Pope Alexander VII in order to widen the Corso and facilitate the running of horse races during Carnival. Many drawings of this arch, dating from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, show that it consisted of a single archway, flanked on each side by a pair of columns and surrounded by a cornice.

The two features of the arch which have drawn the most interest are a pair of panel reliefs that were originally incorporated in the north side of the structure. These are now heavily restored and displayed in the main staircase of the Palazzo dei Conservatori Museum in Rome. One of the reliefs shows the apotheosis of Hadrian’s wife Sabina, who was deified after her death. Hadrian sits on an upright chair and watches as Sabina is carried away from her funeral pyre (ustrinum) on the back of the torch-bearing personification of Aeternitas (Eternity). The reclining semi-nude youth at Hadrian’s feet is a personification of the Field of Mars (Campus Martius).

Relief from the Arc of Portugal (Arco di Portogallo) representing the apotheosis of Sabina (wife of Hadrian), 136-138 AD, Palazzo Nuovo, Capitoline Museums © Carole Raddato

Relief from the Arc of Portugal (Arco di Portogallo) representing the apotheosis of Sabina (wife of Hadrian), 2nd century AD, Palazzo Nuovo, Capitoline Museums
© Carole Raddato

When Sabina died in 136/137, Hadrian erected a monumental altar in her honour, probably on the northern Campus Martius to which this large marble relief may have belonged.

Relief from the Arc of Portugal (Arco di Portogallo) representing the apotheosis of Sabina (wife of Hadrian), 2nd century AD, Palazzo Nuovo, Capitoline Museums © Carole Raddato

Upper part of the relief from the Arc of Portugal (Arco di Portogallo) representing the apotheosis of Sabina (wife of Hadrian), 2nd century AD, Palazzo Nuovo, Capitoline Museums
© Carole Raddato

The second relief depicts Hadrian mounted on a Rostrum, reading from a scroll to two men and a child in front of a temple. Behind him are the Genius of the Senate and two attendants. It has been suggested that the panel commemorates Hadrian’s continuation of the institutio alimentaria, a public distribution of largess, began under Nerva or Trajan.

Relief from the Arch of Portugal (Arco di Portogallo): Hadrian's donation of food to Roman children, Palazzo Nuovo, Capitoline Museums © Carole Raddato

Relief from the Arch of Portugal (Arco di Portogallo): Hadrian’s donation of food to Roman children, Palazzo Nuovo, Capitoline Museums
© Carole Raddato

While the reliefs are either late Hadrianic or early Antonine in date, the architectural character of the arch seems to belong to a much later period (4th or 5th century AD), and that it was decorated with sculptures from earlier monuments, as was the case with the arch of Constantine.

Detail of the relief from the Arch of Portugal (Arco di Portogallo): Hadrian's donation of food to Roman children, (the head of Hadrian is restored), Palazzo Nuovo, Capitoline Museums © Carole Raddato

Detail of the relief from the Arch of Portugal (Arco di Portogallo): Hadrian’s donation of food to Roman children, (the head of Hadrian is restored), Palazzo Nuovo, Capitoline Museums
© Carole Raddato

Sources: Wikipedia, LacusCurtius, Musei Capitolini

Posted in Hadrian, Hadrian portrait, Italy, Museum, Nerva–Antonine dynasty, Roman art, Rome | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Photoset: The Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae (Greece), the so-called “Parthenon of the Peloponnese”

“Off all the temples in the Peloponnese this one could be considered second only to the temple at Tegea for its proportions and the beauty of its stone”. Pausanias, “Description of Greece”, Book VIII, 41, 8

The Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae © Carole Raddato

The Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae, South-east side
© Carole Raddato

The Temple of Apollo Epikourios (‘Apollo the Helper’) was built in a quiet and isolated site, high on a rocky ridge of Mount Kotylion (1,131 metres) at Bassae in south-west Arcadia. The mountain is scored with ravines (bassai or bessai in ancient Greek), which gave the place the name “Bassae”.

The Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae © Carole Raddato

The Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae, East colonnade
© Carole Raddato

The Greek historian Pausanias wrote, in the second century AD, that the name ‘Helper’ was given to Apollo by citizens of nearby Phigaleia, as thanks for their deliverance from the plague of 429-427 BC. He also wrote that the temple was designed by Iktinos, who had been responsible for the Parthenon.

The Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae, east colonnade © Carole Raddato

The Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae, east colonnade
© Carole Raddato

The temple is covered by a tent at the moment while the structure is made more secure. The severe weather conditions in this exposed location have caused some damage to the temple. The design of the canopy incorporates slopes and pitches which prevent the accumulation of large quantities of snow.

The Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae, the temple is covered by a tent a present, while the structure is made more secure © Carole Raddato

The Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae covered by a tent
© Carole Raddato

Archaeological researches have determined that the site was in continuous use since the archaic period, the existing temple being the last of four on the site. The classical temple is thought to have been built between 430 BC and 400 BC. It is made of local grey limestone, while parts of the roof, the capitals in the cella and the sculptured decoration are made of marble. Like several other temples of Arcadia, the temple is aligned north-south, instead of the usual east-west, probably due to some local tradition or to the limited space available on the steep slopes of the mountain.

The Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae, Opisthodomos and west colonnade © Carole Raddato

The Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae, Opisthodomos and west colonnade
© Carole Raddato

The Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae, Proanos © Carole Raddato

The Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae, Proanos
© Carole Raddato

The temple is unique as it combines elements of the three architectural orders of antiquity (Doric, Ionic and Corinthian). Doric columns form the peristyle while Ionic columns support the porch and Corinthian columns feature in the interior. The Corinthian capital is the earliest example of the order found to date. The temple has six columns on the short side and fifteen on the long sides, instead of the period’s usual ratio 6 x 13. That feature gives the temple its characteristic elongated shape.

Cut-out section showing the position if the architectural and sculptural components of the Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae, British Museum

Cut-out section showing the position if the architectural and sculptural components of the Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae, British Museum

A great part of the Temple’s building material now lies on the modern terraces built specifically for the purpose to the west and southwest of the monument. In the 1980’s, a major effect was made to collect, systematically order, and protect the architectural elements. Thousands of building blocks and architectural fragments were moved to selected areas, where they were identified, numbered, and arrange according to type.

The scattered architectural elements of the Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae © Carole Raddato

The scattered architectural elements of the Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae
© Carole Raddato

A Doric frieze of undecorated metopes and triglyphs ran along the outer facades. Only the inner metopes of the short sides were decorated: those on the proanos may have depicted the return of Apollo the Hyperboreans and those on the opisthomodos represented the rape of the daughters of the Messenian king Leukippos by the Dioskouroi but this is not certain.

The Bassai sculptures, male figure wearing a chiton and an alopekis (Thracian cap), holding a kithara, may be identified as Apollo or Orpheus, fragment of the north metope from the Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae (Arcadia), British Museum

The Bassai sculptures, male figure wearing a chiton and an alopekis (Thracian cap), holding a kithara, may be identified as Apollo or Orpheus, fragment of the north metope from the Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae (Arcadia), British Museum

The most eminent decorative feature of the temple is the continuous Ionic frieze that run around the interior of the cella. On the south and south east sides of the frieze are arranged a series of slabs showing the battle fought by Herakles and the Greeks against the Amazons, the mythical race of warrior-women.

The Bassai sculptures, marble block from the frieze of the Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae (Greece), Greeks fight Amazons, about 420-400 BC, British Museum

The Bassai sculptures, marble block from the frieze of the Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae (Greece), Greeks fight Amazons, about 420-400 BC, British Museum

The Bassai sculptures, marble block from the frieze of the Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae (Greece), Greeks fight Amazons, about 420-400 BC, British Museum

The Bassai sculptures, marble block from the frieze of the Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae (Greece), Greeks fight Amazons, about 420-400 BC, British Museum

The north and west sides of the frieze show the fight between the Lapiths, Greek inhabitants of Thessaly, and the Centaurs, mythical beasts, part man, part horse. The Centaurs had drunk too much wine at the wedding of the Lapith King Perithoos and tried to carry off theirs host’s womenfolk.

The Bassai sculptures, marble block from the frieze of the Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae (Greece), Lapiths fight Centaurs, about 420-400 BC, British Museum

The Bassai sculptures, marble block from the frieze of the Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae (Greece), Lapiths fight Centaurs, about 420-400 BC, British Museum

The Bassai sculptures, marble block from the frieze of the Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae (Greece), Lapiths fight Centaurs, about 420-400 BC, British Museum

The Bassai sculptures, marble block from the frieze of the Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae (Greece), Lapiths fight Centaurs, about 420-400 BC, British Museum

The frieze was removed by Charles Robert Cockerell and taken to the British Museum in 1815. They are still to be seen in the British Museum’s Gallery 16, near the Elgin Marbles.

Further pictures of the Temple of Apollo Epikourios can be viewed from my image collection on Flickr.

Sources: Bassae Sculpture British Museum,Wikipedia, Hellenic Ministry of Culture: Bassae

 

Posted in Arcadia, Archaeology Travel, Greece, Greek temple, Photography | 6 Comments