Television broadcast created by Hal Linker with his wife, Halla, and son, David. The broadcast begins in Tripoli, Libya. The scenes in Tripoli focus on the modernization of the city, including footage of a mosque and modern buildings, in addition to the city's ancient heritage, illustrated through shots of the remlibyaains of a Roman arch and a statue of the emperor Septimius Severus (r. 193 - 211). From Tripoli the Linkers travel to Sabratha. Footage shows the ruins of the forum and a temple and details of mosaics at the baths. The ways in which the Romans kept their city sanitary and comfortable are highlighted with shots focusing on the ruins of heated floors, pipes in walls, an aqueduct, and sewage drainage. Marble columns, statues, friezes, and gravestones are shown in detail. The city's large theater is also featured. Footage of the theater includes details of the mosaics at the adjacent baths, the audience seating, and the impressive stage façade (scaenae frons), which is remarkably intact. From Sabratha the Linkers travel to Leptis Magna, the birthplace of Septimius Severus. En route footage features policemen patrolling on camels and new structures, including a factory, a row of identical houses, and a mosque with detail shots of the minaret's decorations and PA system. There is also footage of a market, which includes shots of piles of pottery, bread, and produce, as well as crowds of men shopping and selling, and donkeys and modern cars sharing the same street. The arrival at Leptis Magna is heralded by a shot of a sign marking the ancient city in both Arabic and English (and Latin). Footage includes Latin inscriptions, carved marble pedestals, a large well in the city market place, and the seating and remains of the stage of a large theater. A large basilica is also featured, with close up shots of ornately carved columns. Footage of the different rooms in a Roman bath are featured, including shots of empty pools and high arched doorways.
Television broadcast created by Hal Linker with his wife, Halla, and son, David. Footage was shot in Tunis and the island of Djerba in Tunisia. Tunis, the capital of Tunisia (home to 800,000 of Tunisia's population of 5 million), has been modernizing over the years and is considered a center for Moslem learning. Mosques and minarets of different styles are shown. Footage of the gate Bab Saadoun shows just one of the entryways into the plazas to the many suks, medinas, and kasbahs. Most of the women in Tunisia are seen wearing long white robes that cover their entire bodies except their faces. Scenes of kasbahs show vendors selling fruits, vegetables, and meats to passer-bys. Shots of the suks show artisans at work making engravings and designs on metal, often using metal wire. Leaving Tunis and heading across the dessert, the Linkers visit the Roman aqueduct and tremendous colosseum. At Tuobro Majus, a colony founded by the Romans in 27 BC, they film the remains of columns, temples, and Latin inscriptions that were discovered in 1875. The Linkers' last stop is the island of Djerba, (20 miles long with a population of 60,000) where they film a large 13th century Spanish fort that was converted into homes for several Arab families and the white stone houses and buildings make up a large proportion of the island. People are seen swimming, as well as washing their laundry and camels, in the ocean. Linkers film El Graïba, a small Jewish town on the Island of Djerba that dates back to 6th century BC, showing Hebrew inscriptions on the white-washed walls inside houses and a synagogue used as a resting place for pilgrims. Nearby is a Moslem village where they film vendors selling bird cages, stuffed lizards, and traditional Tunisian rugs made of wool. An open air market is also shown where masses of traditional white pottery made of galala is being sold. The broadcast concludes with Gougou dancers performing on the island to wind instruments and drums.
Sitting on the top row of the ancient arena, I scan the ruins of Ostia, letting my imagination take me back 2,000 years to the days when this was ancient Rome’s seaport, a thriving commercial center of 60,00 people. I marvel also at how few visitors make the simple commuter train trip from downtown Rome to what I consider the most underappreciated sight in all of Italy.
Ostia Antica, just 30 minutes from the Colosseum, offers ancient thrills to rival Pompeii (which is 4 hours south of Rome). Wandering around the ruins today, you’ll see the remains of the docks, warehouses, apartment flats, mansions, shopping arcades, and baths—all giving a peek at Roman lifestyles.
Ostia, at the mouth (ostium) of the Tiber River, was founded around 620 B.C.; its central attraction was the salt gleaned from nearby salt flats, which served as a precious meat preserver. Later, around 400 B.C., Rome conquered Ostia and made it a naval base, complete with a fort. By A.D. 150, when Rome controlled all the Mediterranean, Ostia served as its busy commercial port. With the fall of Rome, the port was abandoned. Over time the harbor silted up. I’d like to take a moment to thank the mud which eventually buried Ostia, protecting it from the ravages of time—and from stone-scavenging medieval peasants.
Ostia’s small museum offers a delightful look at some of the city’s finest statuary—tangled wrestlers, kissing cupids, playful gods. Most of the statues are second- and third-century A.D. Roman pieces inspired by rare and famous Greek originals. The portrait busts are of real people—the kind you’d sit next to in the baths (or at the famous, many seated public toilets). Roman religion revered the man of the house (and his father and grandfather). As statues of daddy and grandpa were common in the corner of any proper house, many survive today.
Surviving frescos, while scant and humble, give a feeling for how living quarters may have been “wallpapered.” Perhaps the museum’s most interesting room features statuary from religions of foreign lands. Being a port town, Ostia accommodated people (and their worship needs) from all over the known world.
These days, you can stroll among the ruins and trace the grid standard for Roman military towns: a rectangular fort with east, west, north, and south gates and two main roads converging on the Forum. Walking along the main drag, Decumanus Maximus, you can identify buildings from the Republic (centuries before Christ) and the Empire (centuries after Christ) by their level. Over the centuries, Ostia’s ground-level rose, and the road was elevated. Anything you walk down into is B.C.
On the main drag you’ll see the vast theater (teatro). One of the oldest brick theaters anywhere, it’s still used for concerts today. The three rows of marble steps near the orchestra used to be for big shots.
Just in front of the theater is the grand Square of the Guilds, the former bustling center of Rome’s import/export industry, with more than 60 offices of ship-owners and traders. Along the sidewalk, second-century A.D. mosaics advertise the services offered by the various shops—a lighthouse symbolizes the port of Ostia and an elephant marks the office of traders from Africa. It’s fun to walk the entire square guessing from the ancient signs what was once for sale behind each store front.
The Forum Baths, a huge, government-subsidized complex, were the city’s social nerve center. Fine marble steps—great for lounging—led to the pools. People used olive oil rather than soap to wash, so the water needed to be periodically skimmed by servants. From the viewpoint overlooking the Baths of Neptune you’ll see a fine mosaic of Neptune riding four horses through roller-coaster waves.
Along Via Casa di Diana is the House of Diana, a great example of insulae (multi-storied tenement complexes where the lower middle-class lived) and an inn called the Insula of the Thermopolium. Belly up to this tavern’s bar. You’ll see a small sink, shelves once used to display food and drinks for sale, and scant remains of wall paintings.
A meander down Ostia’s back lanes is a veritable archaeological scavenger hunt. Look for hidden bits of fresco, preserved mosaic flooring, and millstones for grinding grain back when business was booming.
The key to enjoying sights from ancient Rome is to resurrect all that rubble in your mind. A quick trip out to Rome’s ancient port helps do just, that making it more likely that your hours climbing through the wonders of ancient Rome will give you goosebumps rather than heatstroke.
For more details, please see Rick Steves’ Rome.
Rick Steves (www.ricksteves.com) writes European travel guidebooks and hosts travel shows on public television and public radio. E-mail him at email@example.com, or write to him c/o P.O. Box 2009, Edmonds, WA 98020.
In ancient Rome, purple was the color of royalty, a designator of status. And while purple is flashy and pretty, it was more important at the time that purple was expensive. Purple was expensive, because purple dye came from snails.
To make Tyrian purple, marine snails were collected by the thousands. They were then boiled for days in giant lead vats, producing a terrible odor. The snails, though, aren’t purple to begin with. The craftsmen were harvesting chemical precursors from the snails that, through heat and light, were transformed into the valuable dye.
But this telling leaves out one of the best parts of the story.
The video explains that snail-fueled purple persisted until chemists learned to make synthetic dyes. But the development of an artificial purple wasn’t a deliberate decision, but a happy accident for a young chemist named William Henry Perkin.
When Actors Mixed Politics and Comedy in Ancient Rome
Smithsonian staff publications
Mon, 24 Apr 2017 16:51:53 +0000
Blog Post Category:
Anti-Roman sentiment may have run rampant through Asculum, a city on the Roman Empire’s Adriatic coast, but it was still no laughing matter. Politics in the first century B.C.E., when Asculum and other Italian tribes rebelled against the Empire in what would come to be known as the Social War, were no joke.
But that still didn’t stop comedians and actors from injecting politics into their performances, often at their own risk. In a story recounted by Diodorus Siculus in Library of History, a performer portrays an anti-Roman stance, only to be murdered by Roman soldiers for doing so. In the next act, a comedian announced to the crowd, “I’m not a Roman either. I travel throughout Italy searching for favors by making people laugh and giving pleasure. So spare the swallow, which the gods allow to nest safely in all your houses.” Fortunately, his request was heeded, and he survived the experience.
The Ancient Romans enjoyed many flavors of theatrical performance, from classic theatrical comedies to the more impromptu performances of actors who did short sketches and used physical humor. The earliest known performances came from a town in southern Italy called Atella in the 4th century B.C. It wasn’t until 346 B.C. that Roman historian Livy writes of performances in Rome proper, as part of a religious festival to request that the gods ward off the plague. But generally speaking, theater and comedy weren’t considered acts of worship.
Performances were staged in makeshift theaters open to the elements, unlike the amphitheaters of Greek performances. Pompey became the first to erect a permanent theater in Rome in 55 B.C., built of stone and seating thousands of spectators. As theater evolved, comedies began to be staged at public games. Most comedians were poorly paid, but exceptionally popular ones—men like Aesopus and Roscius, who acted in dramas and comedies—could earn sizeable fortunes, according to George Duckworth’s The Nature of Roman Comedy.
There are a few caveats when it comes to understanding the political comedy of ancient Rome. First, however much we might like to interpret Roman humor through the lens of modern taste and culture, a gulf of 2,000 years divides us. Even popular humor from a few decades ago fails to elicit a smirk today, so it’s unfair to expect comedy from two millennia ago to hold up. As classics professor Gregory Hays writes in the New York Review of Books, “In studying other cultures we are trapped, as the anthropologist Clifford Geertz once put it, between ‘the consoling piety that we are all like to one another and…the worrying suspicion that we are not.’”
Second is the unanswerable question of which Romans made and consumed comedy. “The surviving record unduly privileges men, citizen men and literate citizen men in Rome,” says C.W. Marshall, a professor of Greek at the University of British Columbia. “The record skews towards a small portion of society.”
Regardless of their social stature, “comedy” didn’t necessarily mean what we think of as comedy today—comedians were often performers who tackled non-tragic work. Comedic poets used puns and wordplay, as did mimes. These weren’t silent performers like Marcel Marceau, but rather the equivalent of sketch comedians—and their numbers even included women. Their performances were largely improvised and used facial expressions and costumes to imitate and mock everyone from pompous politicians to rustic tourists.
In the early 200s and late 100s B.C.E., comic dramatists Plautus and Terence wrote more than 25 plays combined—the earliest complete Latin texts. “Comedy jokes at us for wanting to hold onto ourselves, for thinking that our identity is stable,” writes University of Manchester classics professor Alison Sharrock in Reading Roman Comedy: Poetics and Playfulness in Plautus and Terence. In other words, comedy was funny in part because it upended Roman expectations—whether that meant disguising a prostitute as a lady or seeing a slave outsmart their master.
For hundreds of years following the deaths of the two fathers of theatrical comedy, their successors used humor to upend expectations, antagonize Roman society, and engage with the political discourse of the day. Take Seneca the Younger, a philosopher and advisor to the Emperor Nero. In 54 C.E., Seneca penned a short tract called The Apocolocyntosis, which mocked the recently murdered emperor Claudius.
In the play, Seneca “very skillfully and wickedly” mocked Claudius’ many physical and mental ailments, including a speech impediment and physical weakness, writes classicist H. Mac L. Currie. Seneca used Claudius’ fondness for dice games (the late emperor wrote a book on the topic and even had his carriage outfitted so he could play while on the move), as a nasty punishment for the late emperor: a dice cup without a bottom. Seneca could get away with such jabs because his sponsor was the emperor’s successor.
While Seneca used his pen to elicit laughter and derision—and did so with relative impunity—other comedians weren’t so lucky. Being a comedic performer instead of a writer came with a major disadvantage: It meant you couldn’t be a citizen. Performers were among the infamis, and couldn’t call themselves citizens of Rome or get any of the associated benefits, like the limited form of political representation others enjoyed. This meant that most comedians who acted were former slaves or people who didn’t have any citizenship to lose.
For the rare comedian who worked their way out of acting into writing, there was no promise of keeping that higher social status. In 46 B.C.E., Julius Caesar demanded that one of the great mime writers of the time, Decimus Laberius, perform in a sort of stand-up battle of mimes. Laberius would face off against a Syrian ex-slave called Pubilius. Laberius wasn’t overly eager to forfeit his rank, but how could he say no to Caesar? So Laberius appeared, dressed in the outfit of a Syrian slave to mock his competitor, and said “Citizens, we are losing our freedom,” as well as, “He who many fear must fear many.” While Laberius lost the competition, he was actually rewarded by Caesar so that he could buy back his citizenship.
“It’s an interesting example of a comedian spontaneously participating in critical political discourse against the most powerful person in the world,” Marshall says. “It may not have happened exactly this way, but the values that the story is exalting are what the Romans thought the purpose of comedy should be”—speaking truth to power.
Yet laughter wasn’t solely a tool of the oppressed. “For every laugh in the face of autocracy, there was another laugh by the powerful at the expense of the weak,” writes classical historian Mary Beard in Laughter in Ancient Rome: On Joking, Tickling and Cracking Up. Romans used jokes and laughter to mock the physically deformed and the effeminate, among others. In a number of plays the recurring character of the “parasite” is given food by a patron simply for laughing at his jokes and sometimes telling them.
In modern liberal democracies, comedians are free to express themselves politically. But in ancient Rome, the risks of “punching up” for comedy’s sake mirror the stories of comedians in today’s autocracies. Take Egyptian comedian Bassem Youssef. The former surgeon hosted a show that targeted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and religious leaders for criticism, citing the president’s failure to live up to campaign promises and the Muslim Brotherhood’s abuse of power. When the al-Sisi government (led by a president who came to power through a coup) began interrupting or postponing the broadcast of Youssef’s show and then a verdict came through saying he owed millions to his old network, Youssef fled.
Even so, sometimes laughter is better than nothing. When life dealt you autocrats, sometimes you had to turn them into a joke. “One response by the disaffected was violence, conspiracy, or rebellion,” Beard writes about ancient Rome. “Another was to refuse to take it seriously.”
Early Tech Adopters in Ancient Rome Had Portable Sundials
Smithsonian staff publications
Mon, 20 Feb 2017 14:00:00 +0000
Blog Post Category:
It’s the four or fifth century and you’re a wealthy, cosmopolitan Roman sightseeing across the empire, or perhaps an armchair traveler entertaining other well-educated friends for dinner. What could you pull out to impress your companions? One good option would be a geographical portable sundial, the closest Romans got to an iPhone.
These sundials were designed to tell time on the go—but it turns out they really excelled at being a snazzy gadget. Many were made of shiny bronze, they sat comfortably in a hand, and it took real technical knowledge to use them properly. There are about a dozen examples known today, each with a cheat sheet of coordinates for using the device in specific places.
It’s a powerful tool more than a millennium before GPS, atomic clocks, or even a practical way to determine longitude. “If the sun is shining, you are carrying with you one portable gadget or instrument that is your own, a very personal thing, and you can supposedly rely on it to tell you what the time is,” says Richard Talbert, a historian at the University of North Carolina who has written a new book about the devices, called Roman Portable Sundials.
Ancient Romans didn’t measure time in our 60-minute hours; instead, they divided daylight and darkness into 12 increments each, a system they adopted from the Egyptians. In Rome, that meant an hour was about 45 minutes in winter and 75 in summer. Hours would have governed meetings, courts and dinners, but not in the carefully structured way so many of us experience today.
“They don’t make appointments and get impatient when you’re 15 minutes late,” says Alexander Jones, curator of an exhibition called “Time and Cosmos in Greco-Roman Antiquity” at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World in New York that explores the ancient relationship with time. Most sundials weren’t detailed beyond hours anyway, notes Denis Savoie, an astronomer who specializes in sundials.
But time was key to the Romans’ obsession with astrology, which made certain days or hours promising or foreboding for certain activities. Hundreds of funerary inscriptions marked the deceased’s time of or age at death to the hour. Time mattered, even if it wasn’t for trains or timesheets.
That helps explain the popularity of sundials—more than 500 have been discovered, 36 in Pompeii alone, Talbert says. Most of these were stone and installed where they were meant to be used, since sundials need to be calibrated by latitude.
Portable, pocketwatch-like models offered more freedom, allowing owners to travel and still have some semblance of the time, but came with more constraints—and not just the price tag. They worked in half-day increments, so you had to know if the sun was rising or setting, which could be difficult to determine around midday. They were inscribed with latitudes for popular destinations and exotic locales, but there was no guarantee the list actually matched contemporary measurements. (On the other hand, you could manually set the dial to whatever latitude you chose.) They became less accurate in summer and winter and when carried farther north. And of course you had to know how to use the fiddly adjustable bits. “That's a lot of ifs in the real world,” Jones says. One perk: they didn’t require knowing which direction was north.
There were multiple models. In one type, the user turned a smaller disk within a larger disk to account for the latitude, turned a pointer on the smaller disk to account for the month, then dangled the device facing the sun to cast a shadow across hour markers on the pointer. For another design of three nested rings, the user tilted the innermost horizontal ring based on latitude, then spun the assembly so a beam of sunlight could pass through a pinhole to reach hour markers. (This model was also collapsible for additional portability.) Four examples are on display in the “Time and Cosmos” exhibition through April 23.
The adjustable sundials are complicated objects to study because many are archaeological orphans, found randomly or rediscovered in storage. They are universally hard to date—they use centuries of mathematical and astronomical work, but cannot be carbon-dated or dated based on objects found near them. They must be younger than the concise method of writing latitude used in the location keys, which was developed during the second century. About half the lists include Constantinople, so these must have been inscribed after 330.
For Talbert, these latitude listings are the most intriguing parts of the devices. They clearly signal the freedom offered by Roman peace and infrastructure. The lack of a fixed set of places or listing order is also a reminder that Romans didn’t grow up with schoolroom maps and satellite images to build a picture of the world around them.
But for owners of these devices, they at least knew that if they made it as far as Ethiopia, Spain or Palestine, they would know what time it was—or close enough, at least. “You can show people, ‘Oh look, I’ve got this clock, it even works in Britain,’” Jones says. “They’re the way that people could carry time around with them, so to speak.”
Whether you prefer an heirloom luxury watch that doesn’t miss a beat or the flaws of Google Glass, the sentiment is still the same. “Just like today, people get a taste for this kind of thing and they want to have their own and they want to have it just as they like it,” Talbert says. “It’s very human really.”
Silver Composition in Coins Confirms the Story of the Rise of Rome
Smithsonian staff publications
Wed, 16 Aug 2017 19:55:46 +0000
Blog Post Category:
Smart News History & Archaeology
Archaeologists love coins. Not only are they a great way to date a dig site, they also show the extent and influence of an ancient culture and empire. Now, reports Maev Kennedy at The Guardian the chemical signatures of the metal the coins are made of can also add more layers to those stories as well. Coins from the Second Punic War, an 18 year conflict waged between Rome and Carthage, show how Rome's military victory ramped it up from just one of many kingdoms into a Mediterranean super power.
When the Second Punic War was fought, Carthage was a powerful expanding empire based in present-day Tunisia that controlled large swaths of North Africa, Spain and the western Mediterranean islands. Rome warned Carthage not to press too deeply into Spain or harass its allies there. But in 219 B.C. Carthage conquered Roman ally Saguntum, kicking off the war (the two powers had clashed over Sicily previously during the First Punic War about 40 years before).
The conflict is best known for Carthagenian general Hannibal's audacious crossing of the Alps with elephants to attack the Romans in their homeland. The Romans, however, had their own hero, General Scipio Africanus, who, in 209 B.C., captured much of the Iberian Peninsula, including Carthage's silver mines. Eventually, Scipio headed to Tunisia, defeating Hannibal on his home turf, winning Rome the rest of Spain as well as 50 years of reparations in 201 B.C.
Kennedy reports that the new silver mines and money flowing in from Carthage helped Rome rise from regional power to a true super-state. According to a press release, researchers based in Germany and Denmark used geochemical analysis on the coins from the Punic War period. The team looked at 70 coins dated from roughly 300 B.C. to 100 B.C., which surrounded the dates of the war.
What they found is that the lead content of the coins minted after 209 B.C., when Scipio first took control of the silver mines, was different than the coins minted previously to that. The coins minted after 209 B.C. corresponded to silver from southeast and southwest Spain, while earlier coins come from silver mines from the Aegean region.
“This massive influx of Iberian silver significantly changed Rome's economy, allowing it to become the superpower of its day. We know this from the histories of Livy and Polybius and others, but our work gives contemporary scientific proof of the rise of Rome,” says study co-author Katrin Westner of the Institute for Archaeological Sciences at Goethe University. “What our work shows is that the defeat of Hannibal and the rise of Rome is written in the coins of the Roman Empire.”
While the work may confirm what ancient historians already related, much of ancient history is mired in myth, rumor and tall tales—especially larger than life figures like Hannibal and Scipio. “This research demonstrates how scientific analysis of ancient coins can make a significant contribution to historical research,” Kevin Butcher, a classicist from the University of Warwick, tells Kennedy. “It allows what was previously speculation about the importance of Spanish silver for the coinage of Rome to be placed on a firm foundation.”
This is not the only aspect of the Second Punic War to be ground-truthed in recent years. Researchers are also searching for Hannibal’s path through the Alps and into Italy by examining peat in the mountains for evidence that large numbers of horses—and even elephants—moved through the Col de Traversette between France and Italy around 200 B.C., an indication that a large army moved through the area.
The Romans started making concrete more than 2,000 years ago, but it wasn’t quite like today’s concrete. They had a different formula, which resulted in a substance that was not as strong as the modern product. Yet structures like the Pantheon and the Colosseum have survived for centuries, often with little to no maintenance. Geologists, archaeologists and engineers are studying the properties of ancient Roman concrete to solve the mystery of its longevity.
“Roman concrete is . . . considerably weaker than modern concretes. It’s approximately ten times weaker,” says Renato Perucchio, a mechanical engineer at the University of Rochester in New York. “What this material is assumed to have is phenomenal resistance over time.”
That resistance, or durability against the elements, may be due to one of the concrete’s key ingredients: volcanic ash. Modern concrete is a mix of a lime-based cement, water, sand and so-called aggregates such as fine gravel. The formula for Roman concrete also starts with limestone: builders burned it to produce quicklime and then added water to create a paste. Next they mixed in volcanic ash—usually three parts volcanic ash to one part lime, according to the writings of Vitruvius, a first-century B.C. architect and engineer. The volcanic ash reacted with the lime paste to create a durable mortar that was combined with fist-size chunks of bricks or volcanic rocks called tuff, and then packed into place to form structures like walls or vaults.
By the beginning of the second century B.C., the Romans were already using this concrete in large-scale construction projects, suggesting their experimentation with the building material began even earlier. Other ancient societies such as the Greeks probably also used lime-based mortars (in ancient China, sticky rice was added for increased strength). But combining a mortar with an aggregate like brick to make concrete was likely a Roman invention, Perucchio says.
In the earliest concretes, Romans mined ash from a variety of ancient volcanic deposits. But builders got picky around the time Augustus became the first Roman emperor, in 27 B.C. At that time, Augustus initiated an extensive citywide program to repair old monuments and erect new ones, and builders exclusively used volcanic ash from a deposit called Pozzolane Rosse, an ash flow that erupted 456,000 years ago from the Alban Hills volcano, 12 miles southeast of Rome.
Image by Guido Bergmann / Bundesregierung-Pool via Getty Images. The Pantheon, a temple to the gods, was completed in A.D. 128. The temple's dome is still the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world. (original image)
Image by Tiziana Fabi / AFP / Getty Images. The Colosseum, inaugurated in A.D. 80, seated 50,000 and hosted gladiatorial games, ritual animal hunts, parades and executions. (original image)
Image by SSPL / Getty Images. The Tomb of Caecilia Metella, daughter of a Roman consul. This 1841 daguerreotype is one of the earliest known photographs of Italy. (original image)
Image by Tiziana Fabi / AFP / Getty Images. The dome of Tempio di Venere e Roma, a temple dedicated to two goddesses and inaugurated by Emperor Hadrian in A.D. 135. (original image)
“Emperor Augustus was the driving force behind the systemization, standardization of mortar mixes with Pozzolane Rosse,” says Marie Jackson, a geologist and research engineer at the University of California at Berkeley. Roman builders likely favored the ash deposit because of the durability of concrete made with it, she adds. “This was the secret to concretes that were very well bonded, coherent, robust materials.”
Jackson and her colleagues have been studying the chemical composition of concretes made with Pozzolane Rosse. The ash’s unique mix of minerals appears to have helped the concrete withstand chemical decay and damage.
The Romans favored another specific volcanic ash when making concrete harbor structures that were submerged in the salty waters of the Mediterranean. Pulvis Puteolanus was mined from deposits near the Bay of Naples. “The Romans shipped thousands and thousands of tons of that volcanic ash around the Mediterranean to build harbors from the coast of Italy to Israel to Alexandria in Egypt to Pompeiopolis in Turkey,” Jackson says.
Seawater is very damaging to modern concrete. But in Roman concrete, the Pulvis Puteolanus “actually plays a role in mitigating deterioration when water percolates through it,” Jackson says. Although the exact mechanism is unknown, it appears that chemical reactions among the lime paste, volcanic ash and seawater created microscopic structures within the concrete that trapped molecules like chlorides and sulfates that harm concrete today.
Despite the success of Roman concrete, the use of the material disappeared along with the Roman Empire. Concrete structures were seldom built during the Middle Ages, suggesting volcanic ash wasn’t the only secret to the durability of Roman concrete, Perucchio says. “These really large projects could only be done with the appropriate bureaucracy, with the proper organization that the Roman Empire would provide.”
Erin Wayman is an assistant editor at Smithsonian and writes the Hominid Hunting blog.
Jacques Seligmann & Co. records, 1904-1978, bulk 1913-1974
Jacques Seligmann & Co.
Waegen, Rolf Hans
de Hauke, César
Parker, Theresa D.
Mackay, Clarence Hungerford
Liechtenstein, House of
Schiff, Mortimer L.
La Fresnaye, Roger de
MM. Jacques Seligmann & fils
Eugene Glaenzer & Co
Germain Seligmann & Co
De Hauke & Co., Inc
Place of publication, production, or execution:
203.1 linear feet
Following is an outline of the arrangement of the collection by series and corresponding box numbers and extent. More detailed information for each series and subseries, along with a box and folder inventory, is found in the Series Descriptions/Container Listings, which can be found by following the series links below. Series 1: Correspondence, 1913-1978 (1-174, 80 linear feet); Series 2: Collectors Files, 1875, 1892-1977, undated (Boxes 175-252, 35 linear feet); Series 3: Auction Files, 1948-1975, undated (Boxes 253-259, 2.75 linear feet); Series 4: Exhibition Files, 1925-1977, undated (Boxes 260-272, 5.5 linear feet); Series 5: Reference Files, 1877-1977, undated (Boxes 273-278, 2.25 linear feet); Series 6: Inventory and Stock Files, 1923-1971, undated (Boxes 279-289, 4.5 linear feet); Series 7: Financial Files and Shipping Records, 1910-1977 (Boxes 290-357, 30.5 linear feet); Series 8: Contemporary American Department, 1932-1978 (Boxes 358-381, 10 linear feet); Series 9: De Hauke & Co., Inc., Records, 1925-1949, undated (Boxes 382-416; 16 linear feet); Series 10: Modern Paintings, Inc., Records, 1927-1950 (Boxes 417-420, 1.25 linear feet); Series 11: Gersel Corp. Records, 1946-1969 (Box 421, 0.25 linear feet); Series 12: Germain Seligman's Personal Papers, 1882, circa 1905-1984, undated (Boxes 422-459, OV 460, 17.1 linear feet)
Access Note / Rights:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
The Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., records measure approximately 203.1 linear feet and date from between 1904 and 1978, with bulk dates of 1913-1974. The records include extensive correspondence files, reference material on American and European collectors and their collections, inventory and stock records, financial records, exhibition files, auction files, and the records of subsidiary companies, including de Hauke & Co., Inc., and Modern Paintings, Inc.
Jacques Seligmann & Co. records, 1904-1978, bulk 1913-1974. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Series 1 and Series 2 of the collection were digitized in 2010 and are available via the Archives of American Art's website.
Processing of the collection was funded by the Getty Grant Program; digitization of portions of the collection was funded by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.
Jacques Seligmann & Co. were international art galleries in New York City and Paris, France. Founded in 1880 in Paris, France and closed in 1978. The company's clients included most of the major American and European art collectors of the era, and the art that passed through its galleries often ended up in the collection of prominent American and European museums. Established as Jacques Seligmann & Cie in 1880 on the Rue des Mathurins, Paris. As American clients increased, the firm opened a New York office in 1904. In 1920, Seligmann's son Germain Seligman (who dropped the last 'n' from his name), a writer and scholar, became a partner and appointed president of the New York office. Jacques Seligmann died in 1923, and in 1924, Germain became president of both the New York and Paris offices. In 1937, the company headquarters moved from Paris to New York. The firm was active in antiquities, decorative arts, Renaissance art, and was among the first to foster contemporary European art, primarily through its subsidiary firm De Hauke & Co. (later Modern Paintings, Inc.), managed by César Mange de Hauke. In 1935, its Contemporary American Department was established, headed by longtime gallery employee Theresa D. Parker. During the years following WWII, the firm was involved in the recovery of looted artwork and property, and the sale of several significant collections. The firm ceased operations upon the death of Germain Seligman in 1978.
Donated 1978-1979 by Mrs. Germain Seligman, daughter-in-law of Jacques Seligmann. Additional material was acquired in 1994 through the Estate of Mrs. Seligman. The Paris archives of Jacques Seligmann & Co., Inc., were destroyed by the Seligmann staff in 1940 to prevent them from falling into the hands of the Nazis.
This site provides access to the records of Jacques Seligmann & Co. in the Archives of American Art, which were were digitized in 2010. The bulk of the collection has been scanned, and totals 330,752 images.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001
Two copes of a bound volume of 226 typed pages, with 48 mounted silver gelatin prints with captions, 194p. ; 29 x 22 cm
Angkor Wat (Cambodia)
A report prepared by archaeologist and art historian Langdon Warner on his travels of 1913-1914 to investigate the founding of an American school of Chinese archaeology to be established in Beijing. Warner's travels included Europe, Japan, Korea, China and Indo-China. Warner spoke with scholars, administrators and officials, and travelled to museums and archaeological sites. Warner traveled with his wife. The report contains two parts; the first being a summary of his travels, and the second, a series of recommendations for the proposed school.
The Warner Report, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., Gift of Katherine Graham, 1994
Art, Asian--Collectors and collecting
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
1 Page(s) matching your search term, top most relevant ones are shown: View entire completed project in transcription center
Ravenel, W. de C (William de Chastignier) 1859-1933
Walcott, Charles D (Charles Doolittle) 1850-1927
Taylor, Frank H (Frank Hamilton) 1846-1927
Smithsonian Institution Administration
49 cu. ft. (98 document boxes)
The administration of the United States National Museum required curators to submit regular reports on the activities of the departments, divisions, and sections. Prior to about 1900 these reports were often made monthly and semi-annually as well as annually. The reports were traditionally submitted to the Director of the National Museum to be used in preparing the published Annual Report of the United States National Museum. The individual reports, however, were not reproduced in their entirety in the published Annual Report and generally contain more information than is to be found in the published version.
Reports were stored by the Division of Correspondence and Documents, and later by the Office of the Registrar.
For a description of the record series of which these materials are a part, refer to "Forms part of" above.
Includes reports submitted to the Director of the United States National Museum by curators and administrators.
A narrated color film sequence on the magnificent Roman ruins of Leptis Magna, Libya, in 1972 from "Rome in Africa" from Hal, Halla and David Linker's television travelogue series, "Three Passports to Adventure". Leptis Magna is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The film clip is from the Human Studies Film Archives, Smithsonian Institution collection of historical moving images. For more information, see the online catalog record: http://collections.si.edu/search/results.jsp?q=rome+in+africa+linker&image.x=0&image.y=0
Les ruines du grand aqueduc de Carthage from Entwurff einer historischen Architectur.
Fischer von Erlach, Johann Bernhard
Entwurff einer historischen Architectur
Les ruines du grand aqueduc de Carthage . The ruins of the aqueduct of Carthage. Engravings from the first comparative history of world architecture.
Long ago, the water in rivers and streams that passed through cities was dangerous because it contained bacteria from sewage thrown into the water. The Ancient Romans discovered a way to continuously transport clean, drinkable water from rivers and streams several miles away to their major cities. They built aqueducts or waterways that channeled water to cities using gravity and pipes. This is an image of the ruins of the Aqueduct of Carthage that brought water to Carthage, a major city on the northern coast of Tunisia, Africa in the ancient world. The Romans built the aqueduct near the end of the 1st century and beginning of the 2nd century AD. It is now called the Zaghouan Aqueduct, renamed for the town closest to the aqueduct's main water source. From a distance, the aqueduct looks flat, but it actually has a slight incline that allows water to be pulled downward by gravity for many miles. When the Aqueduct of Carthage was in use, water would sometimes pass through tunnels cut through the hills or through channels raised high above the ground on arches, like in this illustration.
The image showas the Aqueduct of Carthage, partially ruined, in 1725.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Leo Baekeland Papers, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
Take a Mini-Tour of the Lenten Station Churches of Rome
Smithsonian staff publications
Thu, 13 Mar 2014 18:25:52 +0000
Blog Post Category:
Smart News Travel
During the 40-day season of Lent leading up to Easter Sunday, some Romans make an annual pilgrimage to churches all around the city, visiting one each day (with a few repeats)—a tradition that dates back to the fifth and sixth centuries. Early Christians would meet in a central place, and then travel to a station church to celebrate that day’s service, George Weigel, the author of Roman Pilgrimage: The Station Churches, explains in the Wall Street Journal. The tradition died out in 1305, when the Pope moved to Avignon, and was only revived in the 1970s by a group of Americans.
Along the station church way, one walks the funky streets of Trastevere, crosses the high Baroque Piazza Navona, breathes the aromas of the spice stalls on the Campo dei Fiori, skirts the ruins of the Circus Maximus. One day, you climb the Aventine Hill, with its splendid views of the entire city; two days later, on the slope of the Caelian Hill, you gaze into the ruins of the Palatine Hill, the Belgravia or Park Avenue of the days of Augustus Caesar.
The route takes the pilgrim past sites that jog the cultural and historical memory: the Forum, where Cicero and others defended the superiority of the rule of law over the rule of force or imperial whim; the Colosseum, reminder of the perennial human fondness for sport and the equally enduring human temptation to cruelty; the convents and churches and schools where Martin Luther and John Henry Newman pondered Rome's place in the Christian scheme of things; the Piazza Venezia, once the terminus of Caesar's triumphal march after crossing the Rubicon, later the site of the antics of a faux caesar, Mussolini.
The Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls (pictured above), is outside the city, where St. Paul is interred. The church burned down in 1823, and took 100 years to rebuild, relying on donations from around the world. From the basilica website:
Leo XII was the pope responsible for the rebuilding of St Paul’s and being unable to provide for the enormous costs he appealed for help to the rest of the Catholic world through his encyclical of January 25th 1825 entitled Ad plurimas easque gravissimas. He received a huge response and not just from the Catholic world: Czar Nicholas 1st donated blocks of malachite and lapis lazuli (later used for the two sumptuous lateral altars in the transept) while King Fouad I of Egypt gave columns and windows made of the finest alabaster.
The Basilica of Sts. Cosmas and Damian dates back to the early Christian period in Rome, and was actually a Roman building first, before it was converted into a church sometime around the year 530 A.D.
St. Praxedes- St Zeno’s Chapel is covered in mosaics, including the funerary mosaic below. The woman second from the right is the Virgin Mary, with the saints Praxedes and Pudenziana on either side. The two saintly sisters were known for collecting the remnants of martyrs. The woman to the left, is Theodora, the mother of Pope Paschal I. The square halo around her head indicates that she was still living when the mosaic was completed.
Easter Sunday will find pilgrims crowding into churches all over Rome, including St. Peter’s Basilica to hear the Pope celebrate mass, but people wanting to finish out their journey will end up at the Basilica of St. Mary Major, seen here without any chairs in it.
How Third-Century China Saw Rome, a Land Ruled by “Minor Kings”
Smithsonian staff publications
Tue, 03 Sep 2013 16:15:00 +0000
Blog Post Category:
Smart News History & Archaeology
Tourists explore the Crescent Moon Spring along the historic Silk Road trade route. Photo: Wo Shing Au
When archaeologists work to understand an ancient civilization, they often use that civilization’s texts to get a clue as to how they saw themselves. But these people didn’t live in isolation. They traded; they invaded. They carried inventions and knowledge back and forth down the Silk Road, the Tea Road and Roman roads. They also, sometimes, wrote down what they thought of each other.
A few years ago, the University of Washington’s John E. Hill drafted an English copy of the Weilüe, a third century C.E. account of the interactions between the Romans and the Chinese, as told from the perspective of ancient China. “Although the Weilue was never classed among the official or ‘canonical’ histories, it has always been held in the highest regard by Chinese scholars as a unique and precious source of historical and geographical information,” says Hill.
This country (the Roman Empire) has more than four hundred smaller cities and towns. It extends several thousand li in all directions. The king has his capital (that is, the city of Rome) close to the mouth of a river (the Tiber). The outer walls of the city are made of stone.
…The ruler of this country is not permanent. When disasters result from unusual phenomena, they unceremoniously replace him, installing a virtuous man as king, and release the old king, who does not dare show resentment.
The common people are tall and virtuous like the Chinese, but wear hu (‘Western’) clothes. They say they originally came from China, but left it.
They have always wanted to communicate with China but, Anxi (Parthia), jealous of their profits, would not allow them to pass (through to China).
Apparently, according to Yu Huan, the author of the Weilue, getting around ancient Rome was pretty dangerous:
The people (of these countries) are connected to each other. Every 10 li (4.2 km) there is a ting (relay shed or changing place), and every 30 li (12.5 km) there is a zhi (postal station). There are no bandits or thieves, but there are fierce tigers and lions that kill those travelling on the route. If you are not in a group, you cannot get through.
Television broadcast created by Hal Linker with his wife, Halla, and son, David. Footage was shot in the Northern part of Spain near the French border at Costa Dorada (golden coast) and Costa Brava (brave coast). Costa Dorada, originally a place for fishing, shows its modernization and progression from fishing villages to bustling cities with large apartments and many tourists flocking to its beaches. Attractions such as pedalo boats (paddle boats), a cable ski device, and tuna troubadours are highlighted on this coast. Footage of massive fortresses along the coast reflects the time when the Moors ruled Spain for 700 years after arriving in 711. Before the Moors, came the Romans (first century BC), and their aqueducts and amphitheaters can also be found along the coast, though are often dominated by the enormous forts of the Moors. Many fortified peninsulas were created by the Moors and Peniscola, once a fishing village, is highlighted with its walls covered in sea shells and the Palace of Pope Benedict IIIX. Along the Costa Brava is the village of S'Agaro, which only became populated after 1923 when Jose Ensesa built the first house and began planting trees. Scenes of this town now show how a once "waste of land" has grown tremendously with numerous housing developments and hotels. In the town of S'Agaro there is footage of the Spanish Navy as they celebrate the induction of a new flag for their ship. Shots also show that the mountains near S'Agaro were once populated in prehistoric days. Ampurias, another city along Costa Brava, was once an ancient Greek settlement that was eventually replaced by the Romans. A statue of an ancient Greek physician can be seen near the intricate baths created by the Romans which have mosaic floors and pipes used to control water temperature. The broadcast ends on the Costa Brava in Gerona, a city with ancient churches and cathedrals, where the Spanish speak Catalan.