You're a fortune teller living in the Roman Empire. People keep asking you the same damn questions day after day, and it's hard to always come up with new answers. So you invest in a copy of the Oracles of Astrampsychus, a dice-based prophecy kit, containing 92 common questions and over a thousand possible answers. And here they are.
Mary Beard: why ancient Rome matters to the modern world. "Failure in Iraq, debates about freedom, expenses scandals, sex advice … the Romans seem versions of ourselves. But then there’s the slavery and the babies on rubbish heaps. We need to understand ancient Rome, but should we take lessons from it?" [Via]
Extra Credits (Previously,  ) was recently approached by Creative Assembly, the team behind the Total War series of games. With Total War: Rome II coming out and Creative Assembly determining what to do with the remainder of their marketing budget, they decided to finance Extra Credits on doing a history of the Punic Wars. Extra Credits gladly accepted, of course, and has now completed the saga. Extra History: The Punic Wars (2, 3, 4)
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. - A Third Century Chinese Account Composed between 239 and 265 CE, Quoted in zhuan 30 of the Sanguozhi. Published in 429 CE. Draft English translation
"But Freud had a second fear: a fear of Rome's layers. In formal treatises, he compared the psyche to an ancient city, with many layers of architecture built one on top of another, each replacing the last, but with the old structures still present underneath. In private writings he phrased this more personally, that he was terrified of ever visiting Rome because he was terrified of the idea of all the layers and layers and layers of destroyed structures hidden under the surface, at the same time present and absent, visible and invisible. He was, in a very deep way, absolutely right." [more inside]
Who is Calvus? I see him as the embodiment of the average Roman. He doesn't wage war on distant peoples, he doesn't work as a gladiator...he can't even afford a slave.
Caroline Lawrence looks at ten things the Romans used instead of toilet paper, Roman pee and poo and what's the deal with the sponge stick. All part of the research done for her series of young adult historical mystery books set in the ancient Roman world.
Amateur archaeologist and "forensic hairdresser" Janet Stephens has discovered how to recreate the Seni Crines, the elaborately braided hairstyle worn by the vestal virgins. Don't miss Stephens' other classical hairstyle videos.
CSI: Parthenon: A questioner asks historians how a murder case would be solved and prosecuted in the era of their expertise. Answers for : Colonial Boston, Norman Ireland, 19th Century Imperial China, Ancient Athens, 14th-Century England, 13th century England, Victorian England, Rome. (Via Reddit's AskHistorians; whole thread.)
The History of Byzantium is a podcast that picks up where The History of Rome left off, detailing happened to the eastern half of the Roman Empire after the last Western Emperor was dethroned. The podcaster, Robin Pierson, does a good job explaining the often, ahem, byzantine politics and thorny theology of Byzantium. So far there are five episodes, taking us from the chaotic years following the decline and fall of the West into the reign of Anastasius (491-518). [iTunes link]
The Lost City of Pompeii : A snapshot of ancient Roman life via the ruins of Pompeii. Some decor NSFW.
Over 143 episodes of audio, Mike Duncan has covered the founding of Rome through the Crisis of the Third Century in his History of Rome podcast [previously], having now reached the last pagan Emperor, Julian The Apostate. Enlivened by drawing on comparisons to popular culture, from The Empire Strikes Back (when Hannibal makes his appearance) to The Godfather (as a metaphor for Rome's social client system), Mr Duncan's work makes for fun, informative 25-minute sessions with the greatest empire of the ancient western world. If you're interested in more, the podcasts could be handily supplemented with... [more inside]
Bull-Killer, Sun Lord. "Foreign religions grew rapidly in the 1st-century A.D. Roman Empire, including worship of Jesus Christ, the Egyptian goddess Isis, and an eastern sun god, Mithras."
Roman ingots to shield particle detector. "Around four tonnes of ancient Roman lead was yesterday transferred from a museum on the Italian island of Sardinia to the country's national particle physics laboratory at Gran Sasso on the mainland. Once destined to become water pipes, coins or ammunition for Roman soldiers' slingshots, the metal will instead form part of a cutting-edge experiment to nail down the mass of neutrinos." [Via]
Rome's Ancient Aqueduct Found. "The long-sought aqueduct that delivered fresh, clean water to Rome nearly 2,000 years ago, is found beneath a pig pasture northwest of the Italian city."
Economic crisis, mounting national debt, excessive foreign commitments -- this is no way to run an empire. America needs serious strategic counseling. And fast. It has never been Rome, and to adopt its strategies no -- its ruthless expansion of empire, domination of foreign peoples, and bone-crushing brand of total war -- would only hasten America's decline. Better instead to look to the empire's eastern incarnation: Byzantium, which outlasted its Roman predecessor by eight centuries. It is the lessons of Byzantine grand strategy that America must rediscover today.
The Roman Empire's Lost Highway: French amateur archaeologist Bruno Tassan fights to preserve a neglected 2,000-year-old ancient interstate in southern Provence.
The Ancient World's Longest Underground Aqueduct. "Roman engineers chipped an aqueduct through more than 100 kilometers of stone to connect water to cities in the ancient province of Syria. The monumental effort took more than a century, says the German researcher who discovered it." How Did the Romans Accomplish Such a Feat? [Via]
The History of Rome A breezily-told, yet surprisingly thorough podcast covering the entire history of Rome from Aeneas onward. 15 minute episodes, updated weekly, he's currently up to the Catiline Conspiracy of 62BC.
Is history repeating itself? Note quite 2000 years ago, the Roman hegemony got its first black leader - a former senator whose father was African and mother was white. Septimius Severus inherited a failed military campaign in Iraq and an ailing economy. He first resolves the situation in Iraq, undertakes a number of new building projects, stamps out governmental corruption, raises taxes to pay for wage increases (and kicks British arse a few times). Ultimately though, it all might have only hastened the Empire's decline.
Imago Urbis: Giuseppe Vasi’s Grand Tour of Rome is a rich and innovative geographic database that projects Vasi's 18th century engravings of Roman architecture onto the contemporary map of Giambattista Nolli [previously] with supplementary modern satellite, photographic and mapping overlays together with copious background detail. The work was undertaken by researchers at the University of Oregon (announcement) [via]
Physicist Howard Wiseman has a hobby, history. On his website he has three history subsites, filled with lots of information: 1) Ruin and Conquest of Britain 2) 18 Centuries of Roman Empire 3) Twenty Centuries of "British" "Empires". Especially informative are his many maps. As he says himself: "Drawing historical maps of all sorts has been a hobby of mine since my mid teens. Now I can do it digitally, and inflict it upon the world!"
An unexpected treasure trove online... The audioguides for Rome's city museums are available as mp3s! Not only can you find guides to one of the oldest public museums in the world, the Capitoline Museums, but you can also hear several commentaries (including video) on the ancient Roman Altar of Augustan Peace, and download the audioguide of both the Barracco Museum of Ancient Sculpture, and that of the Museum of Rome. Download them before you go and save 5 euros at each museum, but they're *invaluable* even if you listen to them from home! Enjoy!!
The Comic History of Rome (1852), illustrated by John Leech (1817-64). Image index. The Victorian Web on John Leech. The John Leech sketch archive from Punch (over 600 images). A recent reprint. via the always great BiblioOdyssey.
Silphium was the wonder plant of the ancient world. Originally identified by Greek colonists in North Africa, the plant - a species of Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) - grew only in a dimunitive area near the coast and could not be cultivated. Silphium was popular as a spice for cooking, but its notoriety stems from its alleged medicinal qualities, particularly its use as an herbal contraceptive (the "I love you" heart symbol may have originated from the shape of silphium's seed pods and its use in sex). So valuable was Silphium that it became an important component of the ancient world's economy and appears on coins. It's also among the first species recorded (by Pliny the Elder) as going extinct, probably by grazing sheep or uncontrolled harvesting. Or is it?
De Architectura, known also as The Ten Books of Architecture, is an exposition on architecture by Marcus Vitruvius Pollio. Originally in Latin, here it is translated into English.
Empire Falls. "They called it 'the American Century,' but the past hundred years actually saw a shift away from Western dominance. Through the long lens of Edward Gibbon's history, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Rome 331 and America and Europe 2006 appear to have more than a few problems in common." By Niall Ferguson, whose views on the American hegemony have been discussed previously.
Real women. The gladiator - epitome of male combat, well, not always male. The gladiatrix (mNSFW) is no myth. The evidence exists.
Some Romans may have lived in ancient China. A few Chinese citizens today in the Gansu province have curly blonde hair and European features. It seems possible now that captured Roman soldiers settled in parts of China. We also know that China and Rome weren't completely isolated from one another. Of course, not everyone agrees.
All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us? Brought peace? Oh. Peace? Shut up!
Teach Yourself the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in 24 Hours. "our desires and our possessions are the strongest fetters of despotism." Is a pithy Gibbon a more palatable one?
Roman Cosmetics Found at Temple Dig: Stunningly well preservered, the cream still bears the fingerprints of whoever used it last, almost 2,000 years ago.
Quanto putas mihi stare hoc conclave ? That's "How many prostitutes does it take to change a lightbulb?" in Latin. No, actually it's "How much do you think I paid for this apartment?". Here's hoping, in the wake of the BBC's superb The Roman Way series, written and presented by David Aaranovich, that good old Latin is on its way back, albeit in an Internet, soundbitey way. Those intending to smuggle some into MetaFilter should definitely start here. The owner, for instance, might find Ne ponatur in mea vicinitate useful - "Not in my backyard". And Nihil curo de ista tua stulta superstitione - "I'm not interested in your dopey religious cult" should prove popular in the God threads. Vale!
The Illustrated History of the Roman Empire claims to be the leading on-line resource for Roman history, with over 70mb of content. They have many short essays and lots of graphics and interactive maps. The UI could be better (especially for the maps), but it's a good time sink just the same.
Bloggus Caesari: the weblog of Julius Caesar. This was mentioned in the historical blogs thread in MT the other day by ljromanoff, but those of you who didn't read it shouldn't miss out. Does your favorite historical or fictional character have a weblog?
The Villa Rustica in Hechingen-Stein. Take a stroll through the remains of a 1st to 3rd Century Roman villa in southwestern Germany. Includes a 3D reconstruction and panoramas. I was especially impressed by the heating system.
Justin Paola's collection of Roman Emperors is the best online resource on Roman emperors, especially as far as images go. Also good is The Imperial Index.