Our Last Day in Italy

Our Last Day in Italy - IMG_4320-225x300.jpg - Image #0by Geneva and Nick

Today we went to the National Archaeological Museum of Naples! There we saw a lovely mix of frescos, mosaics, busts, and full body sculptures. One amazing sculpture that we saw was a marble figure of Hercules. In this sculpture he is carved as the ultimate male figure, his entire body is bulging with muscle from his neck to the tops of his feet. Something notable about these sorts of figures from antiquity is that the bodies are completely unattainable. And we’re not talking about unattainable in the same way that you see Instagram models with “perfect” butts, it has actually been proven that if a man were to exist with these proportions, he would be unable to walk.

In this picture (below), we see quite a slew of different animals. As you can see, we have an artist’s interpretation of a bunch of these animals. Right in the middle, you can see what is supposed to be a hippo, except it has some very sharp teeth. Clearly, the artist who made this mosaic has probably never seen a hippo, but believes to be a flat-snouted animal with sharp-razored teeth! We also have an alligator with a snake chilling in the water with a bunch of ducks and other birds, what a wonderful piece!

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A figure that I (Geneva) really liked was the drunken satyr. This statue was cool in how realistic the satyr’s expressions were. He really did look like he was just hanging out in a bar having a good time, maybe laughing at something his friend had said, maybe singing a pub song. His expression was perfect, mouth slightly open with his hand up in the air and having the time of his life.

After our morning at the museum we had an afternoon free, we used this afternoon to try Naples famous pizza. Yum!

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Pompeii By Lex and Brandi

We began our tenth day with a nice breakfast, consisting mostly of giant croissants. While walking down to the bus station from the Vesuvian Institute we saw many locals beginning their day too. One person in particular stood out – he was wearing a bright yellow blazer and decided to aggressively serenade us.

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After a short train ride, we were at Pompeii! Pompeii was very different from the sites we saw in Rome as we were able to see and navigate a Roman city, given that there is no modern city on top of it. Pompeii had a diverse past with Greek, Etruscan, and Italic influences before becoming a Roman city. The earliest traces of civilization date back to the 7th-6th centuries BC. Pompeii became a Roman colony after being its ally for many years in 80 BC. Unfortunately, (or fortunately for archaeologists) Pompeii was covered in about 15-20 feet of volcanic ash in 79 AD when Mount Vesuvius erupted, which killed the residents almost instantly by suffocation. However, the thick layers of ash preserved the city almost entirely intact for centuries as most of the city was hidden under ash before it was first excavated in 1748 under the King of Naples, Charles III of Bourbon.

We began our day in Pompeii with an exercise to navigate the city and identify various features of it, such as the public baths, the forum, shops, and temples. We were on our own today without the help of Dr. Goldman or Dr. Kennedy to travel through the large site. The first place we stumbled upon while entering the city was the public baths. One of the most impressive parts of the baths, was the cold pool, the frigidarium. It is circular in shape with with two circular in-set alcoves and was decoratively painted.

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Roman cold bath or frigidarium

Then, we made our way to the forum, which is one common feature of all Roman cities. However, not much of the forum in Pompeii survives unfortunately as it was looted by the later Romans, who saw some of the tall columns of the forum poking through the ash layers. Evidence of this is the lack of flooring, columns, and the many missing statues. The statues were most likely looted by the Romans after the eruption to be either re-carved if they were made of marble or melted down in they were made of bronze. However, they left the statue bases in the forum, which demonstrates how many statues would have once lined the sides of the forum.

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The forum

Shops were another common feature of Roman cities. As a group, we were able to identify the shops right away because of the elevated entrance ways with deep grooves, which were used to open and close the shop doors. We saw some shops that looked like taverns or bakeries, as well as some high-end shops that were attached to the homes of wealthy merchant Romans. Pompeii’s elite was mostly made up of upper-class merchant families.

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Pompeiian shop

And lastly, we found the temples, which are another major feature of Roman cities. Although we saw several temples during our long, hard and hot journey through Pompeii, the Temple of Jupiter was the most interesting. As our lovely tour guide, the one and only Paolo mentioned, little to no statues were found during the excavation of Pompeii, as the Romans took most of them after the eruption during their excavation of Pompeii. However, the Temple of Jupiter was particularly interesting in the sense that it displays the head of a statue of Jupiter found during post-Roman excavations. We also saw a foreign temple – the temple of the Egyptian goddess Isis, which demonstrates the diversity of ethnicities in Pompeii.

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Temple of Isis

We made our way through much of Pompeii and saw much more than we could ever write about. (Pompeii is about 170 acres of city!) However, traveling through Pompeii helped us learn a lot about the composition of a Roman city, how to navigate it, and allowed us to experience (in a way) what a daily Roman’s life might be like.

Day 9: Herculaneum and Villa Poppaea

Our day began with a lengthy metro ride from Castellammare di Stabia to Herculaneum. We were able to view about a quarter of the town, well preserved by the ashes and pyroclastic substance of Mount Vesuvius since 79 AD. Making our way through the town gave us a pretty vivid idea of what life was like for the Romans from their architectural styles to their artistic preferences and even daily activities. We walked through houses, sales shops, taverns, public baths, a brothel, a bakery, and a temple experiencing the setup of Roman life. The town was filled with history, but empty with people. On the way out of the city, we were able to see the Roman’s escape plan up close. Barracks of well-preserved skeletons lined the original sea shore. We witnessed the final resting places of many of the residents of Herculaneum trying to escape the eruption. These barracks remain opened to the public and the bones were purposefully left on display in the original positions they were found.

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Following our exploration of Herculaneum, we jumped back aboard a bus that took us to our next destination, the Villa Poppaea. The past few days have put a heavy emphasis on understanding the domestic and daily life of the Romans with this villa continuing the trend. Even upon walking down the stairs to the villa, one cannot help but notice the massive difference in elevation that signifies the change in ground level between antiquity and now as a result of the pyroclastic flow. The effects of the eruption could be seen in color changes of the wall art as it gradually slides from red to yellow as you gaze at them from top to bottom. One of the rooms that particularly stood out displayed two peacocks surrounded by colonnades. After some discussion, we came to the conclusion that these peacocks were likely drawn by different artists as can be seen through the varying details and quality. This highlighted how the beautiful works on display in these households were not always by a single person and showcased various skill levels. Other notable points of interest were the small animals that lined the walls of the peristyle, the detail on the interior sides of the columns versus the exterior sides, and the intricate art on the walls of the gardens or nymphaea that reflected what would have been the contents of the room. When discussing ancient Rome, typically the large scale monuments and works are the center of focus. Having the opportunity to witness a quieter, simple side of life in their culture is eye-opening and offers a new perspective.

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After the completion of our daily tours, we were able to explore our surroundings. Some students decided to climb Mount Vesuvius to get a better idea of the impact of the eruption in 79 AD. The other group of students returned to Castellammare to explore the town, recharge, and begin homework. We boarded the train once again for the final journey back to the Vesuvian Institute and had a short reunion with a furry friend that we met when we departed in the morning. The dog decided to follow us down the streets and barked at multiple cars as we went to get some much deserved gelato. Naples offers a much different lifestyle and build than what we were accustomed to in Rome, but it is a nice change of pace that gives us a taste of both worlds just like the villas.

Day 7: Ostia Antica

Although Rome was a sprawling and bustling city of a million people, little of it remains today. Most of the remains, like the Forum and the Colosseum, tell a tale of the elite—emperors, senators, generals—which was only a small percentage of the population. Not much remains to tell us about the normal people, like how they lived. However, a small city on the outskirts of Rome, now called Ostia Antica (os referring to “mouth,” since Ostia was by the Tiber and served as a port for Rime), is well preserved and has filled in the gaps about how the Romans lived.

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After a rather long bus ride, we took the metro and arrived in Ostia. The busy city of modern Rome was replaced by the country side, with trees providing shady relief from the blazing sun and birds chirping away. We walked the Roman road, sprinkled with red poppies, now withered and rendered uneven, towards the ruins of the city. The ruins are so intact that we could see how the city had been laid out, with insulae (apartment buildings), shops, baths, public toilets, temples, and a theatre.

We saw many shops, as indicated by their particular threshold, where a Roman could buy a quick snack. Public baths were identified by the mosaic floors, usually depicting sea creatures. These baths were abundant and entrance would have cost very little or free, since the Romans did not have water in their homes, save for the wealthy who might have pipes connected to the aqueducts. These baths were places of hygiene and socialization. Wells were on the side of the road, and we sympathized with the Romans that occupied the top floors of the insulae, as it would have been difficult to carry water up. Additionally, the top floors were cesspits and fire traps, so the more prestigious apartments were on the lower levels. Another cesspit was the public bathroom, in which people conducted business in rows of holes. This too was kind of a place of socialization.

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                 A shop                                           The inside of a well                     A public bathroom 

One very interesting place was the ruins of a fire brigade. Fires were very dangerous in ancient Rome, often devastating cities by burning apartment buildings and public buildings such as temples. Before Augustus established an official fire brigade, fires would be put out by the locals, and not very successfully. Indeed, fires occurred so frequently that Crassus, who had his own private fire brigade, became the richest Roman from profiting off fires, often coercing people to sell him their property in order for his brigade to put out the fire. At the site a monument to Augustus stood among graveyards, showing thanks to Augustus for funding the brigade as a gift of his benevolence to his subjects.

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Headquarters of a fire brigade, lined with graves and a monument to Augustus 

The theater in Ostia is a stone structure facing an open courtyard. There are entrances on both sides near the open pit where the stage would have been, as well as on the back sides. While the upper sections of the seating are simply travertine slabs serving as benches, the bottom area nearest the stage is a flat marble platform where the wealthy of Ostia would have been able to purchase seats to view the performance from. In antiquity, behind the stage there was a large stone wall serving as a backdrop, however in modern times only the furthermost left and right portions of the wall are still standing. Behind this wall was a large courtyard lined with vendor booths. While not very much of the original brick enclosure remains, we are able to tell what the shops held due to the mosaic signage inlaid in the ground in front of the shops.

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From here we wandered through the city, observing the remains of restaurants and bars, as well as what served as an industrial bread factory with a massive stone oven. The common people of Ostia did not usually have places to make food in the capacity we do in modern times, so they often went to food places around the city. We observed one such place, a bar carved from marble slabs that is still in great condition today, albeit showing the wear of centuries past.

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After viewing some of the ancient places to get food, we took a break for our own lunch at the cafeteria style restaurant around the corner from the museum. After eating our food, we observed a collection of large stone jars, called dolii, around six feet tall by three feet wide, that would have been buried so only the opening was showing, serving as temperature-controlled storage containers for food and drink. Next to this collection of storage containers was the “marble graveyard”, which housed different types of marbles recovered when Ostia was excavated. Particularly interesting was a set of four marble pillars, that were unfinished and still remained part of one large marble block – a common method of shipping columns to avoid damaging them in transit. These columns would have been finished and polished when they arrived at their destination.

Lastly we observed an underground chamber housing a statue in tribute to the god Mithras, one of seventeen such chambers discovered so far in the ancient city. Lastly we observed the Bath of the Seven Sages, one of many similar public bathing areas around the city. These public baths would have been finished in ornate marble, often with an intricate mosaic floor, and were a popular spot all over the city. There were both cold and warm baths, however the warm had to be constantly heated by underground fires, which meant that in the hidden tunnels surrounding the baths, slaves would have labored out of sight to feed the fire to warm the water. After this we were finished for the day, and half our group returned to the Centro, half took a train to the coast and spent the afternoon on the beach.

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Day 6: Campus Martius of Augustus, Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius

By: Jenn and Eva

Today was an early start. We got our own breakfast and met up with the large group around 8:30am. We made our way to Augustus’ Mausoleum. We admired the circular design that was built up of Earth and brick. This was the site where the Imperial families (of Augustus) would have been buried. We walked around the structure and headed into the building where the reconstructed Ara Pacis is now kept.

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The Ara Pacis was so cool. The Ara Pacis, or the Altar of Peace, is essentially a rectangular marble box with a big altar in the middle meant for sacrifices. It is ornately decorated and very large. We got to walk around the entire structure and were even able to walk inside of it! While walking around, we played a little game of “Find the Lizard/Bird.” The outside walls contained many acanthus leaves and friezes displaying sacrificial acts. It started raining rather profusely and so we decided to wait out the rain a little bit. While waiting, we sketched a part of the Ara Pacis for our journals.

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After leaving the Ara Pacis, we attempted to make our way through the rain, but it just wouldn’t let up. We decided to wait under a porticus next to the Column of Marcus Arelius to see if the rain would stop soon. It actually started raining even harder. Some of us jumped and screamed when the thunder crackled. Eventually the rain let up a little and we were able to head over to the Pantheon. On our way, we passed the Egyptian obelisk. It was tall and made of marble with a pointy iron structure on the very top. We also stopped by the Temple for what we believe to be for the deified Hadrian. Here we were able to see where the ground would have been during ancient times. It was still drizzling during this time, but we were pushing through!

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We finally arrived at the Pantheon. Nick and Geneva helped us to learn a bit about the structure. The Pantheon is made of Roman concrete, which is the best type of concrete. We know what Roman concrete is made of, but we don’t know the ratios for the ingredients. Darn :(. The original structure would have had steps leading up to the it, but in present day the entrance is at modern ground level. The Pantheon burned down 3 times and was rebuilt, however the dome ceiling is completely original. It was beautiful inside with slippery marble floors and painted columns. There were various tombs placed all around. Since the dome ceiling was open we were able to see the drops of rain falling into the Pantheon. Dr. Goldman then showed us how to get to various food places and we were free to roam around Rome for the rest of the day where some of us decided to explore the Catacombs and the Vatican.

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The World’s Classiest Bathtub

By Geneva and Nick

Today we found ourselves visiting the Palazzo Massimo and the Baths of Diocletian Museum. We began our day by taking the 75 bus to the end of the line where there was a huge train station where you could catch trains to almost anywhere in Europe. About two blocks away was the Palazzo Massimo national museum. There we focussed on identifying and viewing the four types of Pompeian painting.

My (Geneva’s) favorite type was the second style. This style was notable for its architectural style and creation of 3D spaces. A piece that really spoke to me was the Villa Livia, Goldman warned us before entering the room “to be prepared” for what we were about to witness, and it didn’t disappoint.The World's Classiest Bathtub - DSCN4311-300x225.jpg - Image #0 The World's Classiest Bathtub - DSCN4313-300x225.jpg - Image #1

Unfortunately, no photo can possibly do this fresco justice. But walking into that room felt like walking into a real garden. Every detail was accounted for; every tree, flower, leaf, bird and tile. There was a perfectly proportioned wall that surrounded the room and the garden was an appropriate distance back from the wall. This was a room that would likely be used to light up a winter dining room and the Romans usually dined out in their garden but needed an indoor room for the colder winter months. While there is a certain amount of naturalism to the piece, it is important to note that this was a fantastical and ideal garden, with all the flowers and trees in bloom at once.

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Near the end of our tour in this amazing museum, we found the remnants of a Roman calendar. We know that the Romans continuously kept changing their calendar in order to keep the holidays in check so that they didn’t have a spring festival in the middle of winter. In the Republic era, this job was given to the Pontifex Maximus. After Julius Caesar did a whole revamping of this calendar, we see his adopted son Octavian improve it even further when he becomes Pontifex Maximus as the emperor.

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Shown across the room from the calendar is this wonderful statue of Octavian with his youthful face and displayed as a Pontifex Maximus. The way he has his stance and the fact that his robe covers his head proves his importance in this position. People later in the time of the empire like to display themselves with this stance and hood especially with the time of Christianity in order to connect their religion with the Pontifex Maximus, as the position was also used to make sure the religious festivals all happened at the right time. Octavian’s youthful face depicted throughout art helps us realize that youth was very important for all Romans…even if they want this face on a statue after they’re 80 years old.

At the baths of Diocletian museum, we focused on the architecture of the massive complex as well as the epitaphs within. The baths were a sort of ancient YMCA they had hot and cold baths, exercise facilities, vendors and they functioned not only as a place for people to bathe off the dirt of the day, but also to socialize. Daily bathing was expected in Rome and these bathes were built as a great display of wealth by the emperor Diocletian (3rd century AD).

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We also took the time to view ancient epitaphs and decipher the occupations of the owners. We were also able to see their jewelry and everyday items as well as ancient coins. The day ended with a wonderful visit to the Basilica Santa Maria and the ever-crowded Trevi Fountain.The World's Classiest Bathtub - DSCN4607-300x225.jpg - Image #5

Day 4: Pyramid of Cestius, Monte Testaccio & Montemartini Powerplant Museum by Brandi and Lex

 Viva La Roma! The beginning of our fourth day was a hectic one. We began our day bright and early with lively conversation over a lovely breakfast. We then proceeded to board our bus late, but we still managed to arrive early for our 9:30 tour of the Pyramid of Cestius.

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Dr. Goldman, ladies and gentlemen

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Dr. Kennedy in action

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Exterior of the Pyramid of Cestius

The pyramid of Cestius was a surprising and awe-inspiring monument. The pyramid was built as a mausoleum for Gaius Cestius, a magistrate. It has a concrete core with white marble slabs covering it. This nearly 5-meter-high towering pyramid not only demonstrated the great wealth of the Romans, but also demonstrated the breadth of their empire, which had spread into Egypt in 30 BCE. The pyramid is believed to have been built somewhere between the years of 18-12 BCE, when emperor Augustus, in 18 BCE, passed a law that prohibited the presentation of vast amounts of wealth in burials, such as tapestries in the temple and the death of Marcus Agrippa who Cestius mentions as his heir.

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Candelabras on wall inside the Pyramid of Cestius

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Damage caused by looting of the tomb

The pyramid’s interior demonstrates the earliest example of the “Third style” of Roman wall painting. The frescos inside the pyramid, along the walls, show tall red, green, and gold candelabras and both seated and standing figures. On the ceiling of the tomb are four winged figures painted with gold togas and green wings, holding a garland. The vibrant colors of the paints used for the frescos is impressive and helps us see antiquity in lively color. Oftentimes, we think about the classical aesthetic consisting of pure white marble statues, columns, and togas, but this proved otherwise. Unfortunately, however, you can see the damage caused by people looting the tomb by the large holes where wealth was stored on the frescos and in the ceiling of the tomb.

Indeed, this tomb, demonstrated how the Roman’s use of space through monuments showed how the Romans wanted to be viewed and showed the vastness and power of the empire.

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Cats of Roma

Upon leaving the pyramid, we saw some of the cats of Rome. The two cats played and tackled one another. (Lex decided they were a romantic couple in a domestic trifle).

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Freedman relief in veristic style

We then made our way to the Monemartini Powerplant Museum. The museum was an interesting juxtaposition of the industrial setting of the building, as it was originally used as a powerplant, and the ancient roman artifacts filling the building. Although the museum houses many diverse and interesting Roman sculptures, mosaics, and other artifacts, the freedman reliefs really stood out and were some of the most captivating pieces. Perhaps what made them stand out is how realistic they were in portraying people’s facial features, expressions, and even personalities. This made them especially stand out amongst the idealized sculptures like that of Augustus and other elites of the late-Republican and early-Imperial eras. We saw a variety of these realistic reliefs, which demonstrate the veristic style of portraiture, which seeks to accurately represent a person. The many reliefs portrayed various people, but despite the variation, each was so realistic that it seemed to tell a story of the Romans sculpted within them. The veristic style was typically used to portray freedman, while the idealistic style was typically used by elites, which was another interesting contrast. Hence, seeing the veristic feedman reliefs helps to show how skilled the Romans were at art, but also really helped us see the Romans in a more realistic, lively way.

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Once we left the museum, the group headed to a pastry shop in which we stumbled over ourselves and our Italian vocabulary; while some of our Italian was not the best, we were able to leave the shop successfully with, not just one, but several delicious pastries in hand (Viva La Roma!)

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Path leading up to the top of Mount Testaccio


Our final destination for the day was the 156 feet tall Monte Testaccio (or Mons Testacceus, in the words of Prof. Goldman). In the present day, Monte Testaccio is seen by most as a mound composed of broken antiques from the Roman Empire, but we Classics buffs know better than that. These “broken antiques” are actually old vases or amphorae that held olive oil. The Romans used olive oil for many things, including cooking, bathing, for their lamps, etc. However, due to the way olive would seep into the amphorae and go rancid, when the Romans were finished with their vases, they discarded them like old shoes (sandals).

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Kevin’s pot

 On our adventure today, Testaccio not only provided us with a bit of friendly competition of who could find the best broken vase (Prof. Goldman and Kevin tied for first), but it also served as evidence for the consumeristic nature of the Roman empire. Looking around at all the broken vases, it became clear that the wealth, power, and dominance of the Roman empire allowed the Romans to buy and consume whatever they desired at any costs. The Romans had most of their olive oil imported from northern Spain, which was part of the large empire. On the other hand, though, this mound showed how huge the populus of Rome was, given that they produced that much waste, and how high the needs for goods, such as oil, were. In many ways, this mound, showed the mundane, realistic-side of everyday life in Rome, in contrast to the grandiose displays of the elites, such as the Colosseum.

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View from Testaccio

Day 3: The Capitoline Museum, the Colosseum, the Imperial Fora, and Trajan’s Market

Day 3: the capitoline museum, colosseum, imperial fora, and trajan's market - 20170516_091827.jpg image #0For our third day in Rome, we were left with the task of finding our way around the city. We boarded the buses shortly after finishing breakfast to meet our professors at the top of Capitoline Hill. After climbing up the steep travertine steps, we met various other tour groups in awe of the beautiful statues and monuments that decorated the plaza. We ventured into the museum and witnessed pieces such as The Dying Gaul, the Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius, and remains of the Colossus of Constantine. A personal favorite happened to be Bust of Commodus as Hercules because of the incredible detail and polish to the marble. The bust depicted the emperor with two symbols from the twelve labors of Hercules, which happened to be the skin of the Nemean lion, the apples of Hesperides. The representation of Commodus as a prominent mythical figure shows the parallels of power and influence the emperor wished to present. After our personal tour led by our professors, we were left alone with the task of gathering pictures, drawings, and information for our final project, then making our way to the Colosseum for our daily assignment.

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We split up into our smaller groups to take photos ofvarious areas surrounding the Colosseum and analyzing aspects that the common tourist would glance over. Some of these activities included picturing the effects of an earthquake on the outer ring from the perspective of the Arch of Constantine and deciphering themethods the Romans used to organized the spectators into the massive entertainment center. The Colosseum has a great reputation around the world, but seeing this behemoth in person was a stunning experience. Collecting several pictures, we walked a straight path to Trajan’s column to begin the next segment of the day. We took a private tour led by our professors through the Imperial Fora of the city that ranged from the Foro Cesare to the Foro Traiano. Trajan’s Forum, specifically, stood out with the presence of Trajan’s large column that showed his conquest of Dacia and the sheer size that overshadowed even the Foro di Augusto. Trajan’s column displayed such intricate detail and loomed over the remains with marble remnants.

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Finally, our day led us to a second museum that encompassed Trajan’s Market, which was positioned next to his forum. Our time spent in the museum was brief, but ended with another beautiful view of the land we had just previously tread. This was a highlight of the day as the sight was breathtaking and created a sense of immersion as we pictured how the city probably looked like in antiquity.

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After being dismissed from our tours and lessons, some members of our group continued to explore the city while others sought much needed rest. This happened to be our busiest and most content-packed day and our legs were worn out by the end of our travels. Finally, we met for our usual group dinner at the Centro where we recapped our experiences. We managed to have yet another memorable experience in the fantastic ancient city

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Naamah, Klea, Eva, and Nick.

Day 2: Roman Forum and Palatine Hill

Roman Forum 

To begin our day, we descended below modern ground level into the Roman Forum, nearly at the level it would have appeared in antiquity. This height discrepancy has been caused over the years by the rising level of sediment, due to environmental effects such as that of the Tiber River. We examined the central monuments of the Forum, concentrating on the remains of the monuments such as the Porticos of Gaius and Lucius, the Curia, the Arch of Septimius Severus, the Temple of Saturn, the Rostra, the Basilica Julia, the Temple of Castor, the Temple of Vesta and Atrium Vestae, and the Arch of Titus. We arrived early to the forum, so we were able to view a majority of it in near solitude, but as the day went on the more crowded the forum became, choked with tourists, tour guides, and vendors. Throughout the Forum are examples of the main three different types of building stone: tuff, travertine, and marble. There were many different types and pigments of marble, specifically notable were the black, yellow and pink hued marbles. From the aforementioned landmarks we progressed upward toward modern ground level, and continued up the incline toward Domitian’s Palace and the top of the Palatine Hill.

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Domitian’s Palace 

After traversing the crowded Forum, we finished on the Palatine Hill, concentrating on Domitian’s Palace. The Palace was a massive compound, much larger to walk than it seems when discussed in text. The Palace was tripartite in design, with smaller rooms and corridors branching off the three main sections: The Domus Agustana, Domus Flavia, and Stadium/Gardens. The Domus Augustana housed the emperor and served as his private residence, the Domus Flavia was a more public sector where foreign emissaries may have been received, and state dinners held. The walled stadium/gardens we viewed from above, looking down into a massive courtyard with the remains of several stone structures. The remains of the palace today seem to be a brick and concrete composite, although in antiquity these structures are thought to have been faced with imported marble. The extensive grounds of the Palace look over the Circus Maximus on the South side on the Palatine, and in antiquity there would have been connectors from the palace to a viewing platform overlooking the Circus Maximus grounds.

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Arch of Titus

Moving away from the dominating monuments of the Julian family, the Arch of Tutus (built 81-2 AD), located at the cross where the road leading up to the Colosseum meets the Via Sacra, shows the triumphant procession of Titus over Jerusalem in 71 AD. As was customary of triumphant arches, the marble structure displays reliefs filled with images of booty that was brought back from the Great Temple of Jerusalem, such as a menorah and silver trumpets. Additionally, images of Victory and Roma appear on the arch to signify this great and bloody victory in the Jewish War.

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The Julian Presence

Although the Forum has gone through many changes over time, no one has advantageously changed the space as much as Augustus. Since he had to prove to opponents that he was the true heir of Julius Caesar , Augustus had to make strategic moves to display and solidify his power. He filled the Forum space with monuments commemorating his family line. This lead the Julian family occupying a large presence in the Forum, overshadowing the other structures. For example, the Basilica Julia, started by Caesar and completed by Augustus, was a favorite place of the Romans as it housed many different activities, such as public meeting places, shops, and most importantly, a law court. There are even games etched out on the pavement courtesy of some bored Roman waiting for a friend, as we can imagine. Additionally, the Temple of Caesar, serving as a rostra (speaking platform) and dedicated to him by Augustus after being deified by the senate, intensifies the presence of the Julian name. The triumphal Arch of Augustus, commemorating his victories and located along the Via Sacra, clearly shows his conquests and what he brought to the empire. Although the Forum was a place frequently inhabited by the elite, like politicians, people from all walks of life shopped and conducted business there. These landmarks featuring the Julian family became common place markers, as we can imagine two friends setting up to meet at the Temple of Caesar. This form of systematic power allowed Augustus to lay claim without doubt that he was in fact the rightful heir of Caesar.

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The Forum is a perfect example of the past and the present existing at the same time. Amid the bustling city of Rome stand monuments belonging to a different world, torn down and rebuilt again many times over. One cannot help but imagine what the Forum would have been like in ancient Rome. It mostly likely would have been a busy place not unlike the city streets of Rome outside it. A rewarding view came standing on the Palatine Hill, home to the Roman elite. Overlooking the entire Forum and much of the city of Rome, it gave us a glimpse of how the Roman elites saw their place in the world–towering above everyone else.

Day 1: Travel and Early Rome Architecture Walk

Today was the first day of our Art and Archaeology Seminar. Several members of the group traveled together from Columbus, Ohio while the rest of the group members came from their home cities. Most of us eventually met in Philadelphia airport and waited around 3 hours for our flight to Rome. Once on board, some members slept while others watched movies. We received both dinner (pasta or chicken) and breakfast (muffin and yogurt) while aboard the plane for the 9 hour flight.

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Day 1: travel and early rome architecture walk - img_2694-225x300.jpg image #1  Day 1: travel and early rome architecture walk - img_2695-225x300.jpg image #2 Once we arrived in Rome, we waited for what seemed to be a long time for everyone’s luggage to arrive in baggage claim. When everyone was able to pick up their luggage, we climbed into two vans, and eventually settled in to the Centro. We didn’t have much time before we were off to see the Basilica di Santa Maria in Cosmedin and the Round Temple.

The Round Temple was constructed using traditional Greek styles and marble. The temple was meant to be seen from all angles as evidenced by the columns that went completely around the structure. The temple was also able to be preserved due to the fact that it had been used as a church.

Day 1: travel and early rome architecture walk - img_2713-225x300.jpg image #3In order to get a sense of what a Basilica might have looked like before they felt apart, we visited the Basilica di Santa Maria in Cosmedin. While visiting the Basilica, we needed to ensure we remained silent in order to respect the religious atmosphere. The floor was made out of recycled marble, or spolia. The paintings on the walls used traditional paint colors such as black, red, and yellow.
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Our walk then led us to the Theatre of Marcellus. The theatre was made out of travertine with tufa covering some parts on the inside. Caesar originally commissioned for the theatre to be built, but Augustus was the individual who ensured its completion. In present day, the theatre is being used to house people in various apartments.

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After returning to the Centro for a few hours, we took another walk through the neighborhood to become more familiar with the surrounding area. During this walk, we were able to see a vast view of the city, which aided us in trying to orient our positions within the city. Upon completion of this final walk for the day, we returned to the Centro and enjoyed a traditional three course Italian meal.