Begun in 312 BC, the Appian Way is perhaps the most famous Roman road of all. It was wide enough for two carts to pass in opposite directions or for five soldiers to march side by side. Building the Appian Way was a massive undertaking, but the excellent craftsmanship of the road was apparent for centuries.
Ancient Rome was famous for many things, many of them big and flashy. Gladiators, triumphs, and emperors often spring to mind, but perhaps Rome’s most enduring contribution to history is more humble: their roads (which all led back to Rome), a vast, interconnected network spanning as many as 322.000 km at its maximum.
The huge Roman aqueduct built in Segovia, Spain, by the Roman Emperor Trajan (AD 98-117).
One of the best preserved Roman engineering works, the structure was constructed from approximately 24,000 dark colored Guadarrama granite blocks without the use of mortar. The above ground part is 2,388 feet long. And it consists of approximately 165 arches that are more than 30 feet in height.
Roman baths, used for both socializing and cleaning, were a marvel of engineering. The water was heated by the fire lit under the pool and the hot air was circulated between the walls of the bath; so that both the water temperature and the temperature of the building would remain constant. The water used in the Roman baths was generally carried from the water source to the bath with the help of aqueducts.
The dirty water coming out of the baths had a function. These dirty waters were drained from the canal and used to clean the dirty canals of the latrinas (Public Toilet) next to the baths.
For the Romans, these baths were an important part of daily life. They would go every day and stay for a few hours. The wealthy Romans used to come with their slaves. The slaves brought in usually took on the task of carrying towels and drinks. Before bathing in Roman baths, sports exercises were done. Running, weight lifting and wrestling are examples of these. After the exercises, the servants would smear their masters with oil and then scrape off the oil with the help of a board or bone. In this way, great dirt would be removed.
In the Roman bath, body cleaning was done with an apparatus called strigilis. With this apparatus, sweat, sand and dust sticking to the body were removed, and then the body was lubricated in the area called aleipterion.
Roman baths were also present inside various palaces or castles. The Romans used the same name (Thermae) for them as well. The design of the baths is mentioned a lot on Vitruvius’ De architectura.
Since the limits of socialization were exceeded in some baths and there were incidents such as prostitution, it was decided that women would enter the bath from morning to noon and men would enter the bath in the afternoon. So they were prevented from entering to baths together.
For example, Emperor Trajan forbade men and women to bathe together in the Ephesus Bath in 98 AD.
On the cusp of the Camargue National Park in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, Arles is a heady blast of Van Gogh nostalgia – the artist painted in excess of 200 works around this lovely Roman town. The stately amphitheatre, one of the largest in Roman times, is part of the reason for Arles’ Unesco World Heritage Site status. The twisting aluminium tower designed by Frank Gehry brings the city’s architecture bang up to date.
Today in Museum History —> On this day in 2008 – The Euphronios Krater is unveiled in Rome after being returned to Italy by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Here’s a picture of that beautiful Greek vase, created by Euphronios about 515 B.C.
The Euphronios Krater (or Sarpedon Krater) is an ancient Greek terra cotta calyx-krater, a bowl used for mixing wine with water. Created around the year 515 BC, it is the only complete example of the surviving 27 vases painted by the renowned Euphronios and is considered one of the finest Greek vase artifacts in existence. Part of the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1972 to 2008, the vase was repatriated to Italy under an agreement negotiated in February 2006, and it is now in the collection of the Archaeological Museum of Cerveteri as part of a strategy of returning stolen works of art to their place of origin
Saturnalia was a lawless, drunken time in Rome where literally anything was okay. This was the original Purge, in which laws were suspended for a brief stretch of time. Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture, liberation and time, was celebrated at what is perhaps the most famous of the Roman festivals, the Saturnalia, It was a time of feasting, role reversals, free speech, gift-giving and revelry. (i.e.: gender-bending sex, drinking, telling people off, trading gifts and doing whatever you want).
After solstice, the darkest night of the year, the renewal of light and the coming of the new year was celebrated in the later Roman Empire at the Dies Natalis of Sol Invictus, the “Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun,” on December 25th.
Image: Saturnalia (1783) by Antoine Callet, showing his interpretation of what the Saturnalia might have looked like.