Stories tagged Architecture

Curse Scrolls, Mystery Cults, and the Secret Roman History of Mainz

I want to tell you about Mainz, Germany. Not just Mainz, but the secret Roman history of Mainz. Like most cities I’ve traveled to in Europe, Mainz has many well-hidden secrets.  Although Mainz has a lot to offer for a day-trip, I wouldn’t consider it a touristy area. Most people go to see the Cathedral or the first Gutenberg Bible at the Gutenberg Museum. I have seen those things in 2008, when I first visited Mainz for a few hours. This time I spent the entire day exploring the city and found a few things that I missed the last time. This trip I found lead curse scrolls in the underground Sanctuary of Isis and Mater Magna, a house with four roofs, a Roman theater bisected by the railway, and a monument to a long-dead Roman General.

Theodor Heuss Bridge Mainz

Read more…

Trier: The Rome of the North

After so many years of travel, it is difficult to choose one single place as a favorite, but there is one place stands out in my mind more than the others. Trier, Germany’s oldest city, and nicknamed, “the Rome of the North,” calls me back again and again. Every visit to Trier is like the first visit. If you wander around long enough you’ll find something new every time. Trier is situated along the Moselle Valley in Germany, near Luxembourg. Trier boasts not one or two, but eight UNESCO World Heritage sites. If you’re looking to check a few UNSECO sites off your travel bucket list, Trier is an excellent place to begin.

Trier Black Gate

Although the history of Trier spans more than two millennia, it’s the Roman history that keeps bringing me back. I’ve been to Rome once, Trier at least five times, and there is no question that Trier wins out for me. Rome has more, and the ruins are bigger, but in Trier you get a sense of being back in time that you can’t get anywhere else. It’s not crowded so you can wander this beautiful city as slowly or as quickly as you like. Everything is within walking distance so there is no metro, and there is no need to jostle and bustle for a spot in line to see the ruins.There are no crowds, no matter the time of year, and there is a sense of relaxation and history everywhere. Coffee shops are everywhere and many offer a spectacular view of Trier’s famous monuments. Everything in Trier, with the exception the badly deteriorated ruins of the Barbara Baths are within walking distance of the central square.

Read more…

Ancient History Short Courses

Hello Ancient History enthusiasts!

Over the last two years I have been doing some investigating and today I will share with you my efforts. This post contains a collection of free ancient history courses you can find on the web. I believe it is important to learn and always expand our knowledge. Not only is it exciting to learn a new area of study but being so informed helps us to make better choices for our future, as they say in Battlestar Galactica, “all of this has happened before, and all of it will happen again.” Therefore, it is my hope that you find something of interest in this post. 


Old World Inspirational sign. Photographer: Nicolas Raymond, CC BY 3.0.

Read more…

Rome: 4 Triumphal Arches

by Mark Cartwright September 10, 2015 Photos 0 Comments

The triumphal arch was a type of Roman architectural monument built all over the empire to commemorate military triumphs and other significant events such as the accession of a new emperor. Arches were often erected over major thoroughfares and as the structure had no practical function as a building it was often richly decorated with architectural details, sculpture and commemorative inscriptions, typically using bronze letters. The city of Rome has four outstanding examples of these lasting testaments to Roman vanity.

Arch of Constantine I, 315 CE

The largest surviving Roman arch was built to celebrate Constantine's defeat of Maxentius in 312 CE.

The largest surviving Roman arch was built to celebrate Constantine’s defeat of Maxentius in 312 CE.

The Arch of Constantine I, erected in c. 315 CE, stands in Rome and commemorates Roman Emperor Constantine’s victory over the Roman tyrant Maxentius on 28th October 312 CE at the battle of Milvian Bridge in Rome. It is the largest surviving Roman triumphal arch and the last great monument of Imperial Rome. The arch is also a tour de force of political propaganda, presenting Constantine as a living continuation of the most successful Roman emperors, renowned for their military victories and good government. Read more…

Jordan: The Wonders of Petra

Today we have another contribution from Timeless Travels Magazine in which Archaeologist Ben Churcher explores the highlights of a visit to Petra a ‘rose red city, half as old as time.’



As an archaeologist who has been privileged to travel widely, I’m often asked “what is your favourite site?” While the pyramids at Giza are awe-inspiring in their size, the ruins of Palmyra in Syria evocative in their desert location and the Lion Gate at Mycenae majestic, I always answer “Petra” as no other site in the world is quite like Petra.

As an icon for Jordanian history, this popular and much-visited site is simply stunning. No other site in the world can match the entry into Petra and nor can they compete with the sheer artistry and labour that was expended in the creation of the site’s monuments. The oft quoted description of Petra as ‘the rose-red city half as old as time’ is almost right: the site is set in a chain of rose-red (and yellow and buff) mountains, although the site, for an archaeologist, is not ‘half as old as time’.However, I won’t let dry academic niceties detract from the more romantic notions that do capture the feeling one gets when at Petra.

Read more…

Traveling in Israel on a Budget

Me in front of the Latin inscription dedicated to Hadrian revealed in Jerusalem on Wednesday 22nd October 2014 (1)

Carole in front of the Latin inscription dedicated to Hadrian revealed in Jerusalem. Photo © Carole Raddato

On the shores of the Mediterranean sea, Israel is a country with a rich archaeological and religious history. As a land of great significance for Jews, Christians and Muslims, it has many sacred sites like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Temple Mount and Al-Aqsa Mosque. People are also drawn to the many ancient relics and landmarks Israel has to offer.

In this interview with Ancient History Encyclopedia, Jade Koekoe speaks to Carole Raddato of Following Hadrian. Carole discusses her recent experiences in Israel and gives her advice about traveling to this magnificent country on a budget.

Read more…

Assessing the Destruction at Hatra

In March this year reports swept through the global media that ISIS had used bulldozers to level the ancient city of Hatra. ISIS has already destroyed a number of irreplaceable sculptures from Hatra in the Mosul Museum, lending immediate credibility to reports from Iraqi antiquities officials that ISIS fighters had destroyed Hatra itself as well.

However, no videos or other confirmation surfaced for a month afterwards and there was no way to assess the extent of the damage. The story gradually faded from the media. Given the massive size of Hatra, and its location in the middle of the desert, in a region of no strategic significance, over fifty kilometers from inhabited areas, some grew skeptical that ISIS had mounted a major operation to demolish Hatra.

On Saturday video surfaced on YouTube and other websites which showed ISIS fighters destroying sculptures at Hatra. The voice-overs from several ISIS fighters contained the standard spiel about shirk, idolatry, and Muhammad destroying the idols of the Kaaba. The video was quickly removed, but I took some screenshots that will suffice illustrate the items which have been destroyed while leaving out the majority propaganda elements.

The good news is that the damage to Hatra is not as extensive was was first feared. The bad news is that more irreplaceable and unique Hatrene art has been damaged, threatening to further erase an already under-studied field.

At the beginning of the video there is an aerial shot of the ruins of Hatra which seems to have been shot from a blimp or drone. A graphic then highlights the Great Iwans and the Temple of the Triad with a label which reads “idols and statues.”

036All of the artifacts shown being destroyed in the video are from the Great Iwans. None are seen from the Temple of the Triad.

Plan of the Great Iwan at Hatra. City of the Sun God, p. 332-333.

Read more…

8 More Amazing Ancient Roman Mosaics

This post is the start of a series of image posts Ancient History et cetera will be putting together each month and today’s post is all about amazing ancient Roman mosaics!

The Romans, well the wealthier ones, were well known for enjoying mosaic decorations in their homes and public buildings. As Roman culture spread far and wide the use of mosaics as decoration can also been seen across North Africa, the Middle East, and Turkey.

A Roman floor mosaic dating to the 4th century CE and depicting Dionysos fighting Indians. Dionysos was a very popular subject in Roman mosaics. Provenance: Villa Ruffinella, Rome. (Palazzo Massimo, Rome). Photographer: Mark Cartwright

Read more…

Reconstructing Angkor Wat through Fiction

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShrouded in mystery and lure, the Khmer city of Angkor is one of the most mesmerizing places in the world. Founded around the year 800 CE by Jayavarman II (c. 770-850 CE), Angkor was the center of the powerful Khmer kingdom, which dominated much of what is present-day Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Burma, and Vietnam until the 15th century CE. At its height, Angkor was one of the largest and most technologically sophisticated cities in the world, crowned by a stunning architectural achievement: the temple complex of Angkor Wat.

In this feature interview, James Blake Wiener of the Ancient History Encyclopedia speaks to Mr. John Burgess — the author of A Woman of Angkor and former Washington Post foreign correspondent — about his new novel, the intricacies of ancient Khmer court culture, and why he has spent his life exploring the ruins of Khmer civilization.

Read more…

Petra: Wonder in the Desert


Few places on earth have captivated humanity as much as the ethereal city of Petra, which is located in present-day Jordan. Constructed by the Nabataeans–ancient traders who dominated the export of frankincense, myrrh, balsam, and spices from Arabia to the Greco-Roman world–Petra was a beautiful desert metropolis of theaters, temples, palaces, and immense markets. ‘Rediscovered’ in 1812 by an eccentric Swiss adventurer, Johan Ludwig Burckhardt, Petra is the focus of a new show at the Antikenmuseum Basel in Basel, Switzerland. Opened last fall by HRH Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan of Jordan, Petra: Wonder in the Desert. In the Footsteps of J. L. Burckhardt alias “Sheikh Ibrahim,” showcases nearly 150 artifacts, demonstrating the power, prestige, and sophistication of one of Antiquity’s most alluring cities.

In this exclusive interview, James Blake Wiener of the Ancient History Encyclopedia converses with Mr. Laurent Gorgerat, a Co-Curator of the exhibition, and learns how a mysterious kingdom of former nomads created a luxurious, urban oasis in an inhospitable climate.

Foto_6_Great_Temple Read more…