Tag Archives: Rome

Archaeologists Uncover Statues of the Children of Antony & Cleopatra

One of the most famous love stories of history, that of Antony and Kleopatra, has had a new piece to the puzzle added with the discovery of a new statue that archaeologists believe depict their children: Alexander Helios (the Sun) and Kleopatra Selene II (the Moon). The children, twins, were Kleopatra’s second and third child (having already given birth to Caesarion, the son of Julius Caesar). They would have a third child later, Ptolemy Philadelphus.

Caesarion, a potential and dangerous heir to rival Augustus, was put to death. However, the children of Antony and Kleopatra were actually given to Augustus’s sister, Octavia  (the Roman legal wife of Mark Antony) to raise and educate. Reportedly, she loved them deeply and grieved the loss of her adopted sons. Years later, the sons of Antony would disappear from history, but the daughter, Kleopatra Selene, was married off to King Juba II (a prominent Eastern King) and seemed to serve as co-regent.

To learn more about the discovery, see the article in Discovery News.

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Archaeologists Discover Bronze Statue of a Female Gladiator

Archaeologists have recently uncovered the statue of a topless, female warrior that they believe represents the likeness of a female gladiator. Female gladiators, termed a Gladiatrix, are well documented in Roman history and archaeology (although somehow left out of popular Hollywood films). They often portrayed mythical figures like Amazon Warriors.

While the figure is depicted topless, wearing only a loin clothe, real female gladiators would have been geared with protective armor and helmet. This statue represents only the second such discovery of a female gladiator (meaning she was likely a popular star of the arena).

To learn more about the discovery, see the article in Life Science.

Today Marks the Ides of March

Mort de César by: Camuccini

Most of us are familiar, largely reading Shakespeare in high school, of the “Ides of March.” In the Roman Calendar, it marked March the 15th. It was made famous for the date of Julius Caesar’s assassination in 44 BCE.

Caesar: The Ides of March have come!

Soothsayer: Aye, Caesar, but not gone.

– Shakespeare

The Roman Calendar was very similar to our own, divided into twelve months and then demarcated by the kalends (the first day of the month), the Nones (the 9th day of the month), and the Ides (the middle of the month falling on the 13th or the 15th); other days were marked by counting back from the stated demarcation (e.g. 3 days before the Ides of July). In Ancient Rome, the Ides of March were traditionally a day set aside to settle debts – a symbolic element highlighted by Caesar’s assassins. The Roman Calendar was fastidiously kept by the government and regularly required adjustment. Its accuracy (like most ancient calendars) was problematic and it regularly required adjustment. It was also often adjusted by various politicians (such as Julius Caesar – July, Augustus – August, etc).

To learn more about the significance of the Ides of March, see the article in National Geographic.

The Romans – in Ireland

Although the Romans never actually went to ireland, confining themselves to the Big Island (and only making a brief foray into Scotland), it turns out that the Irish occupants did in fact interact with the Romans.

A new Irish Archaeological organization called the Discovery Programme is beginning to research how much of the Romans impacted and interacted with the Irish (including investigations into the possibility of a Roman invasion). While Irish archaeologists have uncovered Roman goods (ceramic-ware, beads, jewelry, etc), until now there has been little investigation into Ireland’s “Roman heritage.”

To read more about new archaeological investigations and the new Discovery Programme, see this article in the Irish Times: “So What Have the Romans Ever Done for US?

The Search for Rome’s “Lost Aqueduct”

This edition of Archaeology Magazine highlights the quest of modern archaeologists and explorers in locating the original source of the famed Aqua Traina - built by the Emperor Trajan in the 1st century CE. Aqueducts were the key to sustaining the large population of the ancient city of Rome and even today, stand as a testament to Roman engineering and industrialization.

To learn more about the role of aqueducts, see the article: “How a Roman Aqueduct Works.”

To learn more about the quest to find the source of the Aqua Traina, see the article: “Rome’s Lost Aqueduct” at Archaeology Magazine.

Top 10 Archaeological Discoveries of 2011

This month’s Archaeology Magazine highlights the top ten finds of the 2011 Field Season. The list includes:

Unique “Winged” Roman Structure Discovered in England

An entirely unique ‘winged’ structure has been discovered by archaeologist working in England, just outside of Norfolk. The building has no parallels in the Roman Empire and is clearly distinct from other structures in the Roman world (both within and outside of Britain).

“Generally speaking, (during) the Roman Empire people built within a fixed repertoire of architectural forms,” Prof Bowden

The structure appears to be connected to a villa complex nearby, but archaeologists are still unsure how the structure fits in with the urban landscape.

To learn more about the find, see the article at MSNBC and Discovery News