I’m so glad they’re putting money into Herculanaeum for restoration and excavation. It’s a fantastic site, and this villa looks amazing. From memory, too, Herculanaeum isn’t as filled with tourists as Pompeii, so even more reason to visit.
In the decades before the city of Pompeii was buried in ash by the cataclysmic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79, everyday life was filled with parties and struggles.
That’s according to a recently deciphered inscription found on the wall of a Pompeii tomb that was discovered there in 2017.
The inscription describes a massive coming-of-age party for a wealthy young man. who reaches the age of an adult citizen. According to the inscription, he threw a massive party that included a banquet serving 6,840 people and a show in which 416 gladiators fought over several days.
A typical landscape from the mountainous parts of rural Bulgaria. Photo: IvayloSt, Pixabay
We at ArchaeologyinBulgaria.com have been on a mission for a while now to acquaint readers around the world the incredible archaeological, historical, and cultural heritage of Bulgaria (as well as other, global topics) in a journalistic fashion that is both easily accessible and in-depth. (more…)
Because Italy is so rich in archaeological and historical sites , visitors often do not have the time to visit as many as they wish. One site which should not be missed is the remarkable Capitolium of Brescia, one of the best-preserved Roman-era temples in Italy. The Capitolium, along with other sites and remains in Brescia, is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The History of The Capitolium At Brescia
Brescia, or Brixia in Latin, has been inhabited since at least 1200 BC and it may have been founded by the Etruscans. The city became an ally of Rome and Brixia was recognized as a city by Emperor Augustus , with its inhabitants becoming Roman citizens.
There were a number of earlier temples on the site, but virtually nothing of these remain, nor any indication of which deities they were built to honor. During Augustus’ reign, a sanctuary dedicated to an unknown god graced the site. He refurbished four temples in Brescia and one of these may have stood on the site of the present-day ruins of the Capitolium.
Ad Duas Lauros – Mausoleum of empress Helena
Actually a part of Roman estate that belonged to Helena, mother of Constantine the Great.
I’d be interested to know what the relationship between these two men was, whether familial, military, or of the heart. I doubt without the newly discovered method of deciding sex of these that it would have occurred to anyone that they were both of the same sex. The fact that that was a surprise goes to show how ingrained our preconceptions are about this kind of thing.
The Temple of Hercules in Cori near Velletri (and detail) by Jakob Philipp Hackert
Roman amphiteatre of Urbs Salvia
Lucius Flavius Silva, a general who conquered fortress of Masada was born in Urbs Salvia. The amphitheatre was also commissioned by him in 81 CE.
source: FAM1885 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]
C. Plinius Tacito suo s.
Ais te adductum litteris quas exigenti tibi de morte avunculi mei scripsi, cupere cognoscere, quos ego Miseni relictus – id enim ingressus abruperam – non solum metus verum etiam casus pertulerim. ‘Quamquam animus meminisse horret, … incipiam.’
Profecto avunculo ipse reliquum tempus studiis – ideo enim remanseram – impendi; mox balineum cena somnus inquietus et brevis. Praecesserat per multos dies tremor terrae, minus formidolosus quia Campaniae solitus; illa vero nocte ita invaluit, ut non moveri omnia sed verti crederentur. Irrupit cubiculum meum mater; surgebam invicem, si quiesceret excitaturus. Resedimus in area domus, quae mare a tectis modico spatio dividebat. Dubito, constantiam vocare an imprudentiam debeam – agebam enim duodevicensimum annum -: posco librum Titi Livi, et quasi per otium lego atque etiam ut coeperam excerpo. Ecce amicus avunculi qui nuper ad eum ex Hispania venerat, ut me et matrem sedentes, me vero etiam legentem videt, illius patientiam securitatem meam corripit. Nihilo segnius ego intentus in librum.
Iam hora diei prima, et adhuc dubius et quasi languidus dies. Iam quassatis circumiacentibus tectis, quamquam in aperto loco, angusto tamen, magnus et certus ruinae metus. Tum demum excedere oppido visum; sequitur vulgus attonitum, quodque in pavore simile prudentiae, alienum consilium suo praefert, ingentique agmine abeuntes premit et impellit. Egressi tecta consistimus. Multa ibi miranda, multas formidines patimur. Nam vehicula quae produci iusseramus, quamquam in planissimo campo, in contrarias partes agebantur, ac ne lapidibus quidem fulta in eodem vestigio quiescebant. Praeterea mare in se resorberi et tremore terrae quasi repelli videbamus. Certe processerat litus, multaque animalia maris siccis harenis detinebat. Ab altero latere nubes atra et horrenda, ignei spiritus tortis vibratisque discursibus rupta, in longas flammarum figuras dehiscebat; fulguribus illae et similes et maiores erant. Tum vero idem ille ex Hispania amicus acrius et instantius ‘Si frater’ inquit ‘tuus, tuus avunculus vivit, vult esse vos salvos; si periit, superstites voluit. Proinde quid cessatis evadere?’ Respondimus non commissuros nos ut de salute illius incerti nostrae consuleremus. Non moratus ultra proripit se effusoque cursu periculo aufertur. Nec multo post illa nubes descendere in terras, operire maria; cinxerat Capreas et absconderat, Miseni quod procurrit abstulerat. Tum mater orare hortari iubere, quoquo modo fugerem; posse enim iuvenem, se et annis et corpore gravem bene morituram, si mihi causa mortis non fuisset. Ego contra salvum me nisi una non futurum; dein manum eius amplexus addere gradum cogo. Paret aegre incusatque se, quod me moretur.
Iam cinis, adhuc tamen rarus. Respicio: densa caligo tergis imminebat, quae nos torrentis modo infusa terrae sequebatur. ‘Deflectamus’ inquam ‘dum videmus, ne in via strati comitantium turba in tenebris obteramur.’ Vix consideramus, et nox – non qualis illunis aut nubila, sed qualis in locis clausis lumine exstincto. Audires ululatus feminarum, infantum quiritatus, clamores virorum; alii parentes alii liberos alii coniuges vocibus requirebant, vocibus noscitabant; hi suum casum, illi suorum miserabantur; erant qui metu mortis mortem precarentur; multi ad deos manus tollere, plures nusquam iam deos ullos aeternamque illam et novissimam noctem mundo interpretabantur. Nec defuerunt qui fictis mentitisque terroribus vera pericula augerent. Aderant qui Miseni illud ruisse illud ardere falso sed credentibus nuntiabant. Paulum reluxit, quod non dies nobis, sed adventantis ignis indicium videbatur. Et ignis quidem longius substitit; tenebrae rursus cinis rursus, multus et gravis. Hunc identidem assurgentes excutiebamus; operti alioqui atque etiam oblisi pondere essemus. Possem gloriari non gemitum mihi, non vocem parum fortem in tantis periculis excidisse, nisi me cum omnibus, omnia mecum perire misero, magno tamen mortalitatis solacio credidissem.
Tandem illa caligo tenuata quasi in fumum nebulamve discessit; mox dies verus; sol etiam effulsit, luridus tamen qualis esse cum deficit solet. Occursabant trepidantibus adhuc oculis mutata omnia altoque cinere tamquam nive obducta. Regressi Misenum curatis utcumque corporibus suspensam dubiamque noctem spe ac metu exegimus. Metus praevalebat; nam et tremor terrae perseverabat, et plerique lymphati terrificis vaticinationibus et sua et aliena mala ludificabantur.
Nobis tamen ne tunc quidem, quamquam et expertis periculum et exspectantibus, abeundi consilium, donec de avunculo nuntius.
Haec nequaquam historia digna non scripturus leges et tibi scilicet qui requisisti imputabis, si digna ne epistula quidem videbuntur. Vale.
From Pliny to Tacitus.
You say that the letter which I wrote to you at your request, describing the death of my uncle, has made you anxious to know not only the terrors, but also the distress I suffered while I remained behind at Misenum. I had indeed started to tell you of these, but then broke off. Well, “though my mind shudders at the recollection, I will essay the task”.
After my uncle had set out I employed the remainder of the time with my studies, for I had stayed behind for that very purpose. Afterwards I had a bath, dined, and then took a brief and restless sleep. For many days previous there had been slight shocks of earthquake, which were not particularly alarming, because they are common enough in Campania. But on that night the shocks were so intense that everything round us seemed not only to be disturbed, but to be tottering to its fall. My mother rushed into my bedchamber, just as I myself was getting up in order to arouse her if she was still sleeping. We sat down in the courtyard of the house, which was of smallish size and lay between the sea and the buildings. I don’t know whether my behaviour should be called courageous or rash – for I was only in my eighteenth year – but I called for a volume of Titus Livius, and read it, as though I were perfectly at my ease, and went on making my usual extracts. Then a friend of my uncle’s, who had but a little time before come to join him from Spain, on seeing my mother and myself sitting there and me reading, upbraided her for her patience and me for my indifference, but I paid no heed, and pored over my book.
It was now the first hour of the day, but the light was still faint and weak. The buildings all round us were beginning to totter, and, though we were in the open, the courtyard was so narrow that we were greatly afraid, and indeed sure of being overwhelmed by their fall. So that decided us to leave the town. We were followed by a distracted crowd, which, when in a panic, always prefers someone else’s judgment to its own as the most prudent course to adopt, and when we set out these people came crowding in masses upon us, and pressed and urged us forward. We came to a halt when we had passed beyond the buildings, and underwent there many wonderful experiences and terrors. For although the ground was perfectly level, the vehicles which we had ordered to be brought with us began to sway to and fro, and though they were wedged with stones, we could not keep them still in their places. Moreover, we saw the sea drawn back upon itself, and, as it were, repelled by the quaking of the earth. The shore certainly was greatly widened, and many marine creatures were stranded on the dry sands. On the other side, the black, fearsome cloud of fiery vapour burst into long, twisting, zigzag flames and gaped asunder, the flames resembling lightning flashes, only they were of greater size. Then indeed my uncle’s Spanish friend exclaimed sharply, and with an air of command, to my mother and me, “If your brother and your uncle is still alive, he will be anxious for you to save yourselves; if he is dead, I am sure he wished you to survive him. Come, why do you hesitate to quit this place?” We replied that we could not think of looking after our own safety while we were uncertain of his. He then waited no longer, but tore away as fast as he could and got clear of danger.
Soon afterwards the cloud descended upon the earth, and covered the whole bay ; it encircled Capri and hid it from sight, and we could no longer see the promontory of Misenum. Then my mother prayed, entreated, and commanded me to fly as best I could, saying that I was young and could escape, while she was old and infirm, and would not fear to die, if only she knew that she had not been the cause of my death. I replied that I would not save myself unless I could save her too, and so, after taking tight hold of her hand, I forced her to quicken her steps. She reluctantly obeyed, accusing herself for retarding my flight. Then the ashes began to fall, but not thickly: I looked back, and a dense blackness was rolling up behind us, which spread itself over the ground and followed like a torrent. “Let us turn aside,” I said, “while we can still see, lest we be thrown down in the road and trampled on in the darkness by the thronging crowd.” We were considering what to do, when the blackness of night overtook us, not that of a moonless or cloudy night, but the blackness of pent-up places which never see the light. You could hear the wailing of women, the screams of little children, and the shouts of men ; some were trying to find their parents, others their children, others their wives, by calling for them and recognising them by their voices alone. Some were commiserating their own lot, others that of their relatives, while some again prayed for death in sheer terror of dying. Many were lifting up their hands to the gods, but more were declaring that now there were no more gods, and that this night would last for ever, and the end of all the world. Nor were there wanting those who added to the real perils by inventing new and false terrors, for some said that part of Misenum was in ruins and the rest in flames, and though the tale was untrue, it found ready believers.
A gleam of light now appeared, which seemed to us not so much daylight as a token of the approaching fire. The latter remained at a distance, but the darkness came on again, and the ashes once more fell thickly and heavily. We had to keep rising and shaking the latter off us, or we should have been buried by them and crushed by their weight. I might boast that not one groan or cowardly exclamation escaped my lips, despite these perils, had I not believed that I and the world were perishing together – a miserable consolation, indeed, yet one which a mortal creature finds very soothing. At length the blackness became less dense, and dissipated as it were into smoke and cloud ; then came the real light of day, and the sun shone out, but as blood-red as it appears at its setting. Our still trembling eyes saw that everything had been transformed, and covered with a deep layer of ashes, like snow. Making our way back to Misenum, we refreshed our bodies as best we could, and passed an anxious, troubled night, hovering between hope and fear. But our fears were uppermost, for the shocks of earthquake still continued, and several persons, driven frantic by dreadful prophecies, made sport of their own calamities and those of others. For our own part, though we had already passed through perils, and expected still more to come, we had no idea even then of leaving the town until we got news of my uncle.
You will not read these details, which are not up to the dignity of history, as though you were about to incorporate them in your writings, and if they seem to you to be hardly worth being made the subject of a letter, you must take the blame yourself, inasmuch as you insisted on having them. Farewell.
Pliny the Younger, Letters 6.20 (Translated by J Firth, 1900).