Thanks to our partnership agreement with the EAGLE Portal, Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE) will be republishing select EAGLE stories, on a periodic basis, which illuminate special topics pertaining everyday life and culture in ancient Rome. We hope that you enjoy these ancient vignettes, and we also encourage you to explore EAGLE’s massive epigraphic database. When we think of ancient inscriptions we instinctively associate them with the idea of a message engraved in stone meant to be delivered to eternity. In theory, it was so also in the mind of the ancient Romans, but, as we know, theory does not always match practice: evidences from the whole of the Roman empire show that inscriptions suffered in antiquity a surprisingly high mortality rate, in some instances even higher than that of the Romans themselves.
On 10th January in 49 BC, Julius Caesar and his troops famously crossed the Rubicon, the river marking the boundary between the province of Cisalpine Gaul and Italy. Taking the 13th Legion over this forbidden frontier constituted an act of treason and triggered civil war in Rome. According to the historian Suetonius, Caesar uttered the famous phrase ālea iacta est (“the die is cast”).
Roman glassware includes some of the finest pieces of art ever produced in antiquity and the very best were valued higher than wares made with precious metals. However, plain glass vessels such as cups, bowls, plates, and bottles were also used as everyday containers, in particular, for storing and serving food, drinks, and perfumes. The Romans also used glass for its decorative qualities and could be incorporated in mosaics and decorative panels in both walls and furniture. The material was also used for windows, to create jewellery, mirrors, game pieces, magnifying glasses, sculpture and, in the form of powder, even as a medicine and toothpaste. The sheer quantity of Roman glass would not be matched until the boom in Venetian glass in the 15th century CE. Below are some examples from the collection in the Archaeological Museum of the Museo Civico in Pavia, Italy. All images copyright of Mark Cartwright. These cups, bottles, and perfume containers all date to the 1st and 2nd century CE. Cups
Today we have another contribution from Timeless Travels Magazine in which Nicholas Kropacek discusses the new Sanliurfa museum in Turkey. In short, Sanliurfa (often called Urfa) is a city with such a magnificent and tumultuous history that one would have thought that it must have had a large and important world-class museum. But it didn’t, at least not until now. The old Urfa museum was a small, modest building on two floors and with a small sculpture garden having room for a mere 500 or so exhibits. But what has been taking shape in Urfa’s central Haleplibahçe district over the past two years has been something of an entirely different order and will accommodate at least 10,000 items.