Blog Posts to check out

The posts listed below all made good grades.  None of them were perfect – you’ll notice that in some the reference list was missing bits and pieces.  In others, images were not cited correctly.

There are a few factual errors scattered around. Many are longer than what I’m asking you to do.  That being said, the posts earned As or A-s






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The Children of the Roman Empire

Featured image“Today, dear God, I am seven years old, and must play no more. Here is my top, my hoop, and my ball: keep them all, my Lord.” (Wiedemann, 1989)

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Roman children, from newborn to seven years old, were allowed to frolic and play with toys, games and each other. No matter their station, slave and freed children alike, played with toys in various forms, and organized games with groups of friends.

Thomas Wiedmann, in Adults and Children in the Roman Empire, describes little rattles that were given to young babies, made of metal or pottery with pebbles inside, and strings with objects tied to it that a child could hold and carry for manipulation and visual stimulation. There was also a kind of walker with wheels, that a child could lean on and push, to learn to walk with. (Wiedemann, 1989)Featured image

Older children would build sandcastles, roughhouse and wrestle, play house, and all sorts of games. The games often involved nuts, animals and even a bit of gambling. Bets could be placed on cock fights, a popular pastime for older boys, though it was condemned as a greedy pastime for the lazy. In Leisure and Ancient Rome, J.P. Toner describes a game table with the inscription “Reject wealth, insane greed flips minds.” (Toner, 1995) Uzzi, in Children in the Visual Arts of Imperial Rome, depicts a mosaic showing two boys engaged in a cock fight. The winner dances and the loser covers his face in shame. (Uzzi, 2005, pp. 186,187)

Many of the games included role playing, with one group taking on the role of bad-guy and one the victor. Children would reenact their favorite scenes from history or fables told to them by their parents. Parents might encourage a future career in the military by purchasing a little military uniform for their child to parade around in playing soldier. (Wiedemann, 1989)

They also enacted various societal roles, a judge and criminal, or even monks and demons. It was considered to be a great omen when Athanasius, who later became a great theologian, was elected as head bishop when he role played with his friends as a child.

All children loved to play at riding horses, starting with a broomstick and moving up to driving small chariots with goats and sheep, even mice. Toy chariots would be hitched to mice which were kept as pets.Featured image

Pets were popular among children, as animal herding was considered to be a useful skill for a child to know. A child might combine gambling with their pets, as rooter fighting was common. Birds were the most commonly owned pet, but there is also mention of children keeping cheetahs and other exotic creatures.

Featured imageThey also had toy animals made of terracotta, bone or even horn. A child might have a toy cow, pig, deer, goat or horse along with a tiny chariot for them each to pull. Girls were given dolls to play with, made of wood, rags, or ivory. Some were jointed so that they could move. Some were given jobs to do, for example pounding out bread.Featured image

Dolls were an important part of a girl’s life, and were often buried with them depicted on their sarcophagi and sometimes even buried with a little girl that had died before reaching adulthood. Roman girls would dedicate their dolls to Venus the night before their wedding, marking their passage from childhood into adulthood.

Fanny Dolansky, in “Playing with Gender; Girls, Dolls, and Adult Ideals in the Roman World,” stated that since dolls were presented in Roman society as specifically girl’s toys, they portray an accurate view of a girl’s role in society. The dolls had fashionable hair and mature sexual organs, and depict someone of marriageable age. Dolansky stated that because the dolls were representations of mature women, this indicates that the dolls were used to model a girl’s role as a wife and mother.

Dolansky used Plutarch’s description of his daughter playing with her dolls to prove her point. Plutarch’s daughter “would ask her nurse to feed not only other babies but the objects and toys that she liked playing with, and would generously invite them, as it were, to her table, offering the good things she had and sharing her greatest pleasures with those who delighted her. (Dolansky, 2012)

The role of children within the Roman Empire is unclear and subject to much interpretation. Simon P Ellis, in Roman Housing, proposes the argument that children were to behave like adults, citing funerary depictions of children engaged in adult activities as well as the lack of space dedicated solely to children within the home. He describes children shunted to the sides and shadows of a room, similar to servants. (Ellis, 2000, pp. 178,179)

However, Jeannine Uzzi, in Children in the Visual Arts of Imperial Rome, describes a funerary relief of a little girl with a book in her lap and a dog at her feet that “implores her to forget her learning and go out to play.” (Uzzi, 2005, p. 175)

Penelope Allison, in Pompeian Households, An Analysis of Material Culture, suggests that Pompeiian households may have been separated by gender and time of day, but not by age. The men seem to occupy the front hall of the house during the morning, the women would occupy that same space during the afternoon. (Allison, 2004)

Ellis makes a clearer argument using examination of adoption papers, wills and leases, through which is can be determined that Roman homes were occupied not by extended families, but the nuclear family. Parents slept nearby their children. Ellis describes the function of each room within a Pompeiian Villa, with a smaller child’s bed placed next to an adult sized bed, indicating that parents (or possibly a tutor) and children slept together in the same room. (Ellis, 2000)

Although the role of children within Roman society is subject to interpretation, it is clear, through funerary inscriptions, mosaics, furniture arrangements and toys, that children in the Roman Empire lived a similar life to modern day childhoods. There is something universal in a childhood full of toys, playing with dolls, riding stick horses and dressing up in military uniforms to play pretend.


Allison, P. M. (2004). Pompeian Households, An Analysis of Material Culture. Los Angeles: University of California.

bot, F. u. (n.d.). Little horse on wheels. Retrieved from

Dolansky, F. (2012). Playing with Gender; Girls, Dolls and Adult Ideals in the Roman World. Classical Antuity, 31(2), 256-296. Retrieved from .

Ellis, S. P. (2000). Roman Housing. London: Gerald Duckworth.

Jastrow. (n.d.). Doll. Palazzo Massimo, Rome. Retrieved April 30, 2015, from

Jastrow. (n.d.). Toy buffalo Louvre . Paris. Retrieved April 30, 2015, from

Montrealais. (n.d.). Roman-toys. Retrieved from

Mountain. (n.d.). Rattle in the shape of animal. Museum of Cycladic Art at Athens, Greece. Retrieved from

Sailko. (n.d.). Arte romana, giocattolo in terracotta a forma di suino. Retrieved from,_giocattolo_in_terracotta_a_forma_di_suino,_I_sec_dc..JPG

Toner, J. P. (1995). Leisure and Ancient Rome. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Uzzi, J. D. (2005). Children in the Visual Arts of Imperial Rome. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Wiedemann, T. (1989). Adults and Children in the Roman Empire. New Haven: Yale University Press.

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Celtic Art

When the general public pictures Celtic art what generally comes to mind are pictish stones, Insular high crosses and a tie to Ireland. On the other hand when scholars refer to Celtic art the culture and artistic elements of the La Tène is generally what is considered as the basis of Celtic art. This paper focuses on a more scholarly approach to Celtic art through a discussion on external and internal influences on art, abstraction and patterns, and the cultural and religious influences on material art. One reason such a discussion can occur is due to the availability of artifacts found belonging to Celtic tribes who were able to keep their society intact until about 70 AD. The Celts were able to keep their society intact by, “[responding] eagerly to other cultures and [becoming] active transmitters, through trade, to their neighbors.”  A major artistic transmission came from drawing on Greek designs that were incorporated into Celtic art.

The strongest influence of Greek design can be seen in Celtic stone temples that were of Greek design and not their own. This heavy influence was due to the fact that stone was the material that has lasted through the centuries which the Celts liked least to work in. As a distaste for the material ensued the Celts were therefore, “more susceptible to foreign influence.” Greek influence was also transmitted into Celtic floral ornamentation. In contrast to their willingness to adopt stone temple designs without deviation the same style guidelines are not applied to the borrowed use of floral ornaments. “Celtic artist took over and reproduced even the smallest details of Greek floral ornament, but they did not feel bound by the original system, but broke it down into ‘meaningless’ individual elements from which they could create something new.”  This meant that the Celts developed their own artistic style based on abstraction that, “despite heavy borrowings from Scythian and Greek models” was uniquely their own. This element of abstraction within Celtic society came to a high point in the La Tène period.

The fondness for abstraction in the La Tène period resulted in the sometimes gemetocizing of patterns along with motifs consisting of, “S-shapes, arabesques, chevrons, and many others.” The abstraction of the images on Greek coinage in Celtic tribes displays a prominent example of abstraction within pictures and not purely within design motifs.

“For instance the reduction of faces to triangle forms or in the rendering of hair by straight lines drawn back from the forehead, or in the reduction of the joints of an animal’s legs to mere circles; sometimes abstraction of a more fluid type, in powerful swinging curves or wild whorls and volutes.”

The abstraction on Celtic coinage was also displayed in the beard and hair of individuals on acquired Greek currency. The use of abstraction was not the only artistic change made to foreign currency in Celtic society over the years. The artistic changes made to the Gallo-Belgic B issue reveal an important cultural aspect of Celtic society through art on coinage.

“The Gallo-Belgic B issue,” was the first coin to be released in Britain in any substantial amount. One one side of the coin the image was of a “horse drawn charioteer, on the other was the beardless head of Apollo.” In Celtic Britain the horse and chariot had been replaced by a lone horse “which was one of the most potent symbols of the Celtic world.” In his work, Visions of Power: Imagery and Symbols In Late Iron Age Britain John Credington states that the horse was culturally significant due to the role it held in inauguration ceremonies of Celtic Kings. The Celts believed for society to flourish the proper king must marry, ‘the land herself, or the local goddess of sovereignty.” The horse therefore held a special position in these ceremonies either as being explicitly involved or involved in a symbolic nature. The involvement of horses might entail, “the use of a horsewhip on a man. Or it could involve the king getting down on all fours as if in imitation of a horse.”  In the initiation of King O Conchobhair the king got on all fours and allowed an ecclesiastical to climb on his back before proceeding to climb aboard the horse of the king. Speculation can be made about the role of the horse as an intermediary figure between the divine and human kind or as representation of deity. The reduction of the image on the Gallo-Belgic issue to simply that of the horse was due to cultural significance rather than merely the love of the abstract. The image of a horse on Celtic coinage continued until the Roman conquest of Britain. At about this same time a large profusion of stone heads had also been produced in Britain in large part due to the emphasis Celtic religion placed on the head.

“According to Paul Jacobsthal, ‘Amongst the Celts the human head was venerated above all else, since the head was to the Celt the soul, centre of the emotions as well as of life itself, a symbol of divinity and of the powers of the other-world.’ ” As part of this worship of the head, the Celts practiced ritualized head hunting on enemies. This naturally was then incorporated into their art and many simply carved heads were created as part of a head cult in Celtic religion. These stone heads often had no neck or torso and were representations of deities in head form alone. Here again abstraction can be seen the simply carved features of the head. This was because, “the Celts believed realism and mimesis of the human form was unnecessary in divine image making… [and] there may have been a conscious attempt at a kind of divine ‘short-hand’ or reduction to essentials” to make the head stand out even more.

This meant that if a neck or body was attached the torso would be virtually unmolded  to make the head  even more prominent. “ It has been suggested that some Celtic stone heads were produced as cult objects to be used as surrogates for actual decapitated human heads.” It has also been found that some of these stone heads had depressions in them for offerings of real human heads, other offerings, and venerative practices. These stone heads were made even after the Roman conquest of Britain but with more details and realism as Roman image making leaned more to portraiture. The stone heads with more realism were a product of the popular districts with more exposure to Roman influence. In the outlying regions traditional unadulterated methods of simple Celtic stone head making  prevailed and Celtic art went through a Renaissance because of these backwater regions. This is why Celtic art and society was able to hang on for an extended amount of time and left behind a great profusion of material art

Stone heads were in Celtic art as a result of the head being considered the holiest part of the body.

Stone heads were in Celtic art as a result of the head being considered the holiest part of the body.

The image of the horse was used on Celtic coinage because the horse held cultural significance in the inauguration ceremonies of kings.

The image of the horse was used on Celtic coinage because the horse held cultural significance in the inauguration ceremonies of kings.

Celtic temples were derived from Greek temple design. This is the excavation site of a Celtic temple.

Celtic temples were derived from Greek temple design. This is the excavation site of a Celtic temple.

This is what some of the Gallo-Belgic issues might have looked like.

This is what some of the Gallo-Belgic issues might have looked like.

Greek floral ornament was broken down into abstract patterns that typified Celtic design motifs.

Greek floral ornament was broken down into abstract patterns that typified Celtic design motifs.

The abstract patterns on this sheild are typical of the design motifs during the La Tène period.

The abstract patterns on this sheild are typical of the design motifs during the La Tène period.

Works Cited:

Daderot, 7 September 2012. Exhibit in the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland. Photograph. Database on-line. Wikimedia Commons.,_about_100-300_AD,_Romano-British,_Northern_England,_sandstone_with_traces_of_red_paint_-_Cleveland_Museum_of_Art_-_DSC08460.JPG. (accessed April 30, 2015).

Johnbod, 17 September 2010. Iron Age shield boss in La Tène style.  Photograph. Database on-line. Wikimedia Commons. (accessed April 30, 2015).

John Creighton. “Visions of Power: Imagery and Symbols in Late Iron Age Britain.” Britannia 26 (1995): 285-301. (accessed April 17, 2015).

Judith E. Mederos. “Influence of Barbarian Art on Romanesque Art.” Gesta (1963): 4-7. (accessed April 17, 2015).

Keith Parfitt and Miranda Green. “A Chalk Figurine from Upper Deal, Kent.” Britannia 18 (1987): 295-298. (accessed April 17, 2015).

Mididoctors, 27 January 2007. Romano celtic temple construction phase at 56 Gresham Street, London. Photograph. Database on-line. Wikimedia Commons. (accessed April 30, 2015).

NumisAntica, 30 October 2014. Northern Gaul, Remi tribe, ¼ gold stater. Photograph. Database on-line. Wikimedia Commons. (accessed April 30, 2015).

Otto-Herman Frey and Frank Schwappach. “Studies in Early Celtic Design.” World Archaeology 4, No. 3 (February 1973): 339-356. (accessed April 17, 2015).

portableantiquities, 19 July 2012. Hoard of Gallo-Belgic gold staters, found at Sedgeford, Norfolk. Photograph. Database on-line. Wikimedia Commons. (accessed April 30, 2015).

Ramsay MacMullen. “The Celtic Renaissance.” Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte 14, H.1 (January, 1965): 93-104. (accessed April 17, 2015).

Stephen Fliegel. “A Little-Known Celtic Stone Head.” The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art 77, No. 3 (March 1990): 82-103. (accessed April 17, 2015).

Unknown, 24 October 2011. Antique ornament in the shape of a flower in a pot, green. Photograph. Database on-line. Wikimedia Commons. (accessed April 30, 2015).

Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. “Celts.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. (accessed April 18, 2015).

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The Great Library of Alexandria

Alexander the Great meant for Alexandria to be the linking city between Greece and Egypt, both physically and culturally.  The city as a whole was designed to be a beacon to the rest of the world and was home to many cultural wonders.  While it was the Lighthouse of Alexandria that was named a wonder of the ancient world, the Library was just as important and magnificent.  Alexander himself called for the Library but it wasn’t started until the reign of Ptolemy I.  The Library of Alexandria was meant to house the greatest works of philosophy, history, and literature.  Legend holds that Aristotle’s personal collection of books and scrolls made their way to Egypt via Ptolemy and Theophrastus.  Aristotle’s collection was the basis of the early library and slowly more and more scrolls were added.  Ptolemy and his heirs boosted the library’s holdings by recruiting in the best scholars of the age.  Large salaries, tax exemptions, and free housing attracted scholars from across the known world.  Most worked in the library, writing new works and finding ancients ones to add to the collection.  The academic work done in the Library and the conjoining museum were only possible because of the patronage of Ptolemy.  Classic works of Homer and Euripides were among the scrolls that lined the Library walls.  Scholars were sent out to find rare and ancient texts to add to the impressive collection in Alexandria.  It is estimated that over half a million scrolls in total were held within the Library and other estimates put the number closer to a million individual works.  It is difficult to measure the cultural and intellectual significance of the many volumes contained at the Library of Alexandria.


The Library wasn’t the only significant building focused on knowledge in Alexandria.  Connected to the Library was the Mouseion of Alexandria, a large research facility that attracted the brightest minds of the era.  Within the confines of the Mouseion scientific knowledge was being tested on a daily basis by great thinkers like Euclid, Hipparchus, and Eratosthenes.  Many great scientific advancements were founded on research done at the Mouseion in conjunction with the Library of Alexandria.  It was at the Mouseion that Euclid drafted his writings on geometry.  At Alexandria, Eratosthenes calculated the Earth’s circumference and Aristarchus put forth the idea that the Earth revolved around the Sun.  Under the Ptolemaic dynasty, Alexandria became the scientific center of the known world and the facilities at the Library and the Mouseion both grew larger and larger.  The original space at the center of city grew too small to house all of the scrolls and writings causing a larger warehouse facility to be built in the harbor.  This harbor building served as storage with the more prominent works being held directly within the main building of the Library.  The Library also had a temple to Serapis, the cult God of Alexandria.  As a whole, the entire complex had a prominent place within Alexandria and was a major attraction alongside the Lighthouse and the harbor.


            Political upheaval behind the scenes began to  undo the progress achieved at the Library of Alexandria.  Decline hit full stride during the reign of Caesar as interest and political ambitions impacted the Library.    There is a mythical quality to the burning of the Library of Alexandria but most historians agree that multiple fires devastated the complex.  The city was besieged in 48 BC.  Caesar set fire to his own ships and this fire spread to the mainland.  Part of the Library was destroyed and the future was set for the once great house of knowledge.  The Mouseion survived the fire in 48 BC and historians estimate that only 40,000 scrolls were burned.  History takes a few turns in describing other major destructions of the Library but not everyone agrees on which ones actual happened or which one was the final blow.  Some credit Emperor Aurelian with the final act of destruction but other accounts refute this idea.  Aurelian is said to have destroyed the Mouseion in 272 CE while fighting Queen Zenobia.  Others feel that Aurelian only damaged the building and the final destruction came during one of the many religious riots towards the end of the Roman Empire.  Christians rioted at the Temple of Serapis in 391 CE and attempted to destroy the pagan temple.  The Library and Mouseion are said to have been collateral damage from these riots.  Other historians credit the 415 CE violence between Jews and Christians with finally ending the massive collection at the Library.


            Regardless of when the Library of Alexandria was destroyed, the truth is that knowledge of the Ancient World was lost as nearly a million scrolls were lost.  The burning of Alexandria has become synonymous with the loss of a major piece of history or knowledge.  The Library achieved great advances in science and learning but the ultimate legacy is in the loss of much of the acquired knowledge from the Library and the Mouseion.  It is impossible to calculate the loss from the destruction of the Library but its legacy of seeking out the best and brightest minds lives on today in the form of modern research libraries around the world.

Erskine, Andrew. “Culture and Power in Ptolemaic Egypt: The Museum and Library of Alexandria.” Greece & Rome 42 (1995): 38-48. Accessed April 30, 2015.

Heller-Roazen, Daniel. “Tradition’s Destruction: On the Library of Alexandria.” October 100 (2002): 133-53. Accessed April 30, 2015.

Philips, Heather. “The Great Library of Alexandria.” Library Philosophy and Practice 2010. Accessed April 30, 2015.

Serageldin, Ismail. “The Ancient Library.” Serageldin. Accessed April 30, 2015.

“The Destruction of the Great Library of Alexandria.” Ancient-Origins. May 12, 2014. Accessed April 30, 2015.

“The Great Library of Alexandria.” Accessed April 30, 2015.

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Julian the Apostate

The emperors of Rome had diverse and interesting histories, but one of the most interesting emperors during the fall of Rome was the emperor known as Julian the Apostate. His full name was Flavius Claudius Iulianus Augustus and he was emperor from 361 to 363. He was the son of Julius Constantius, who was half-brother to Constantine the Great. He was brought up by the eunuch Mardonius and the philosopher Nicocles. “Julian received a Christian training, but the recollection of the murder of his relatives sowed in him a bitter resentment against the authors of that massacre [of his kinsfolk], and he extended this hatred to Christians in general (newadvent).” He gained a deep interest in literature, philosophy, and paganism, though he also studied grammar and rhetoric. Constantius II moved Julian further and further away from the center of power as his education continued. “[He] was moved from Constantinople to Nicodemia by the emperor in AD 342… Soon after Julian was moved again, this time to a remote fortress at Macellum in Cappadocia, together with his half-brother Gallus (” Julian remained at the fortress for six years until he returned to Constantinople but returned to Nicodemia in 351. That year, he also converted to pagan Neoplatonism and was initiated into theurgy by Maximus of Ephesus.

Julien_1A statue of Julian dressed as a philosopher and wearing a crown.

Julian was presented to the army in November 355 as the next in line to the empire, was married to the emperor’s sister Helena, and then was sent to the city of Gaul. He was a gifted soldier.  His first order was to go to the Rhine and repel invasions by Franks and Alemanni. “Julian, though completely inexperience in military matters, successfully recovered Colonia Aggripina by AD 356, and in AD 357 defeated a vastly superior force of Alemanni near Argetorate (Strasbourg) (” During this time though, he was not totally successful. After his success in 356, he distributed his forces to protect multiple towns. He was left with insufficient forces to protect himself when Franks attacked the town and Julian was held captive for several months until his general Marcellus lifted the siege. In 358, Julian was victorious over the Salian Franks on the lower Rhine. The fourth year of his campaign was by far Julian’s most successful. In 360, the Sassanid Emperor invaded Mesopotamia and took Amida after a two month siege. Julian was order to send troops to his eastern army. “This provoked an insurrection by troops of the Petulantes, who proclaimed Julian emperor in Paris, and led to a very swift military campaign to secure or win the allegiance of others (newworld).” Constantius II’s troops captured Aquileia and besieged 23,000 loyal to Julian. “Civil war was avoided only by the death of Constantius II, who, in his last will, recognized Julian as his rightful successor (newworld).” This began Julian’s rule as emperor of Rome.


Though Julian did not become emperor until 361, he had a history in administration. “At the end of 357 Julian, with the prestige of his victory over the Alamanni to give him confidence, prevented a tax increase by the Gallic praetorian prefect Florentius and personally took charge of the province of Belgica Secunda (Wikipedia).” His views were highly influenced by his education and he and Florentius often clashed over how Gaul should be administered to. “On December 11, 361, he entered Constantinople as sole emperor and, despite his rejection of Christianity, his first political act was to preside over Constantius’ Christian burial, escorting the body to the Church of the Apostles, where it was placed alongside that of Constantine (Wikipedia).” As emperor, he simplified the life of the court and reduced expenses. He removed all eunuchs from office, reduced the number of servants and guards and began the Chalcedon tribunal where some follower of the old emperor were tortured and killed. He tried to model his reign after that of Marcus Aurelius. He was did not try to rule as an absolute autocrat and described the ideal ruler as ‘first among equals.’ He took an active part in the Senate and did not try to put himself above others, He expanded the authority of cities and tried to reduce direct imperial involvement in their affairs. “For example, city land owned by the imperial government was returned to the cities, city council members were compelled to resume civic authority, often against their will, and the tribute in gold by the cities called the aurum coronarium was made voluntary rather than a compulsory tax (Wikipedia).” Even though he did try to push for a less powerful imperial government, he did try and take more power for himself, much like other emperors of the time.

Edward_Armitage_-_Julian_the_Apostate_presiding_at_a_conference_of_sectarian_-_1875Julian at a conference of sectarians

The one people who were openly discriminated against during his reign were Christians. “Although as emperor he issued an edict of religious toleration, he did try unsuccessfully to restore paganism [.] (Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia).” He declared himself under the protection of Zeus and commanded towns to reopen pagan temples and perform animal sacrifice. “Julian issued a decree that all titles to lands, rights and immunities bestowed since the reign of Constantine upon the Galileans, as he contemptuously called the Christians, were abrogated, and that the moneys granted to the Church from the revenues of the State must be repaid (newadvent).” But even with his contempt for Christianity, he modeled his new paganism after the church, forming a similar hierarchy and calling for followers to mimic many of their virtues. His new pagan views did not last after his death though. “In 363, when Julian died, he was succeeded by Jovian, a Christian, at least nominally, instead of the obvious choice, Julian’s praetorian prefect, the moderate polytheist, Saturninius Secundus Salutius (ancienthistory).”

JulianusII-antioch(360-363)-CNGThe image of Julian on a Roman coin.

Julian died in 363, during a campaign against the Sassanid Empire. He was trying to take back cities conquered during the rule of Constantius II. Julian was able to enter the territory of Armenia and was able to conquer several cities. “He arrived under the walls of the Sassanid capital, Ctesiphon, but even after defeating a super Sassanid army in front of the city (Battle of Ctesiphon), he could not take the Persian capital (newworld).” He decided to retreat back to Roman borders. On June 26, he died during a battle against the Sassanid army. He received a spear wound that is guessed to have injured his intestines and he died shortly after. Though he was a strong emperor during his reign, he left no real imprint on the Roman Empire or history. What he is remembered for most is his literary work, some of which survives to today.


“Julian (emperor).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2015. <;.

“Julian the Apostate.” Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2015. <;.

“Julian the Apostate.” CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA:. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2015. <;.

Baynes, Norman H. “The Death of Julian the Apostate in a Christian Legend.” The Journal of Roman Studies 27 (1937): 22-29. JSTOR. Web. 25 Apr. 2015. <;.

“Emperor Julian.” Emperor Julian. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2015. <;.

Perowne, Stewart H. “Julian: Roman Emperor.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2015. <;.

Gill, N.S. “Julian the Apostate and Fall of Paganism – Roman Empire.” N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2015. <;.

“Julian the Apostate.” – New World Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2015. <;.

“Edward Armitage – Julian the Apostate presiding at a conference of sectarian – 1875” by Edward Armitage – Walker Art Gallery, National Museums Liverpool. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons –

“Julian” by First uploaded on wiki:de; Baumeister: Denkmäler des klassischen Altertums. 1885. Band I., Seite 763.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons –

“Julien 1” by Unknown – Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons –

“JulianusII-antioch(360-363)-CNG” by Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

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Vikings: Cold Blooded Killers, or Free-Market Entrepreneurs?

For centuries, the Vikings were romanticized as being cold blooded killers, raping and pillaging their way up and down the European coast line, killing and destroying everything in their path. In some cases this may be true, but for the most part, the Norse as they were actually called, would go raiding as a means of gaining wealth and trade goods to supplement their lack of fertile farmland in the rocky north. (Simek)

Barbarity was seen all over Europe on greater scale than the Vikings ever did. For instance, in 782, Charlemagne, thought of as the Unifier of Europe, had 4,500 Saxons beheaded in a single day, due to his claim that they were oath breakers. (Shea) No Viking raid could ever match that amount of barbarity, especially in a single day.

In fact, the Vikings may even be due a second look when it comes to stimulating the trade economy that eventually saved Europe. (Winroth) After the Roman Empire collapsed around the 5th century, a large majority of trade and trade routes between Europe and Eurasia fell with it. The expansion of the Islamic Caliphate in the 7th century made this barrier even wider. (NMD) Even though a large majority of trade had picked up by the 9th and 10th centuries, it was mostly isolated to the kingdom of Charlemagne, and the main currency was gold and silver from primarily the Middle-East. Another main problem with trade, was in areas that gold and silver were seldom used, barter was the most popular form of trade, a form that greatly limits an economy. (Wintroth)

The Vikings unintentionally helped solve this imbalance of wealth and trade by doing two things. The first was by raiding monasteries, taking the gold and silver, and using it in the European trade routes to buy weapons and goods, as well as melting it down to mint coins for Scandinavian Chieftains in England and Ireland. The second was by using their extensive trade routes, stretching from Greenland to well passed the Caliphate, the Vikings brought more Central-Asian silver to Northern-Europe, by trading furs, raided goods, and a large amount of slaves. All of this greatly helped to balance the lopsided economy found in Europe at the time. (Winroth)

Sea faaring danes

It is the raiding of the monasteries that we can most likely get our explanation as to why the Vikings had such a horrible reputation. The constant raids, sometimes year after year, on the people that basically had a monopoly on writing at the time, the monks, would explain why the Vikings were depicted as such barbarians. To add to this, the Vikings were Pagans, raiding Christians, so the monks writing records or even for aid would want to add to the description of the barbarity to portrait the Vikings as demons, hell bent on killing all Christians. Some of the only writings found from the Norse themselves, is found scattered throughout western Europe on Rune Stones. Many Swedish Rune Stones tell of expeditions from all over Europe, traveling not just to western but also eastern Europe.


The Vikings did indeed raid, quite often. They would also try to find alternatives to fighting, negotiating for payment, instead of killing and taking it. In 991, before the Battle of Maldon in England, a messenger was sent out to the Saxon soldiers telling them they should pay tribute. After refusing to pay, the Saxon army was defeated. Tribute of 10,000 pounds of Roman silver was paid later that year by King Aethelred the Unready, to stop the raiding of the area. (Gordon)

Besides the promise of riches and pleasing the gods from raids, research has shown that some of the raids on Christian settlements and monasteries could be the result of retaliation. (Simek) It is no secret that some kingdoms would go to war to spread Christianity, seeing other religious groups like Pagans and Muslims as enemies. So naturally, there would be a blow back on them by the every ready entrepreneurs that the Vikings were, especially during times of weakened military presence in some areas of England. With close proximity to the sea and rivers, many English towns fell prey to the Viking raids. Without organized navies, many kingdoms on the western coast of Europe faced constant raids by Viking raiding parties that traveled freely doing as they pleased. (Hadley)

One thing that proves the Vikings were not just a band of barbaric savages, ravaging the coast line is their culture. Being some of the best sailors in the world, they traveled as far west as the Northern East Coast of North America, and there are records showing they made it as far east as Baghdad. (NG) They built some of the best ships of their time, and were highly skilled wood workers and carvers. Most of all they had a set social structure that seemed to span throughout the Norse world.


The first and lowest class of people were the Thralls. The Thralls were essentially the slaves, slavery was very important to Viking society, and were used for most manual labor, as well as servants. Despised and looked down upon, the Thralls were mostly people captured during raids, or were bred to produce more Thralls. The second class of people were the Karls. The Karls were free peasants that owned land, farms, cattle, and usually had a trade of some sort. The third class were the aristocracy of Viking culture known as the Jarls. The Jarls were wealthy, with many thralls, and owned large amounts of land where they lived in huge longhouses. Since the thralls took care of the chores, Jarls were in charge of politics, any administrative duties, hunting, and were the ones who mounted expeditions and raids. In some cases, when a Jarl died, some of his thralls would be sacrificially killed and buried next to him. Although there was a social structure in Norse society, like today there were some gray areas, where responsibilities would cross over between the Karls and the Jarls. (Kildah)

The Norse were in reality, no better or worse, when it comes to barbarity, as the rest of the world during their peak. They have been stuck with a negative stigma for centuries, simply because they attacked the people that wrote history as they saw fit.


Rune Photos-

Wood Carvings-



Dane Painting-

Work Cited

  1. Simek, Rudolf. “The Emergence of the Viking Age: Circumstances and Conditions.” 2005.

  2. Shea, Christopher. “Did the Viking Get a Bum Rap?” National Geographic. 2014.

  3. Winroth, Anders. The Age of the Viking.” Princeton University Press. 2014.

  4. National Museum of Denmark. “Vikings Expeditions and Raids.”

  5. Gordon, E. “The Battle of Maldon.” London. 1968.

  6. Hadley, Dawn. “The Vikings in England: Settlement, Society, and Culture.” Manchester University Press.

  7. Kildah, Mari. “Double Grave with Headless Slaves.” University of Oslo. 2013.

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Who Were the Druids?

Who exactly were the Druids and what did they practice? The short answer is that no one really knows for sure, and most of the sources left by supposed eyewitness accounts of their practices may never be provable, mainly because the Celts themselves left no writing behind. This sense of mystery and lack of knowledge about the Druids and their practices has caused many individuals through the centuries to present them in many different lights, some more factually based and believable than others.

Primary sources tell that the Druids were Celts of an educated priesthood-like class in Ireland, Britain, and Gaul. Interestingly enough our main source of information about the Druids and some of their possible practices and societal roles in Celtic culture come from Julius Caesar in his writings in Commentarii de Bello Gallico, book VI. In his brief account of the Druids while campaigning in Gaul, Caesar describes them as the interpreters of all religious and astronomical/cosmological questions. Caesar’s commentaries also claim that many young men went into training to become Druids, learning all Druidic knowledge by heart. He also mentions that it is the Druids who decide all public and private controversies in their given societies, including all crimes committed by the people. One piece of information given to us by Caesar that has come under much scrutiny in modern scholarship is his claim that the Druids practiced human sacrifice in order to appease the gods on behalf of warriors preparing for battle or those afflicted with illness within their society. Usually those offered as sacrifice were criminals, but Caesar claims that sometimes innocents are sacrificed as well to the gods on behalf of certain individuals. Caesar describes how the people would construct large images with limbs woven together with willows to form what is known as a wicker-man and then fill them with those who were to be sacrificed. The wicker-man was then set on fire and those inside inevitably perished from the flames.


18th Century Wicker-Man depiction

                      (“WickerManIllustration” by Unknown Original. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

The possible problem with relying on Julius Caesar’s account of the Druids is the fact that Commentarii de Bello Gallico was written as self-propaganda in order to build-up Caesar’s image in Rome as a great leader for his own political purposes, making some of his claims about the Druids, such as the sacrificing of human beings in wicker-men, somewhat dubious. Some modern scholars, such as Ronald Hutton, have pointed out that Caesar probably manipulated the facts on the Druids, presenting them as both learned and barbaric in order to show the Roman senate that the people in Gaul would be worth ruling due to their knowledge and that Roman values could temper their barbaric tendencies, such as their supposed practice of human sacrifice.

Other ancient writers commented briefly on the Druids, but never gave many details about them. Cicero wrote that he knew of a supposed Druid in Gaul named Divitiacus that could make predictions through augury and conjecture. Pliny the Elder writes on the ritual of the mistletoe, the description of his ceremony matching up with archaeological finds on the Celts: “A priest arrayed in white vestments climbs the tree and, with a golden sickle, cuts down the mistletoe, which is caught in a white cloak. Then finally they kill the victims, praying to a god to render his gift propitious to those on whom he has bestowed it. They believe that mistletoe given in drink will impart fertility to any animal that is barren and that it is an antidote to all poisons.”

Many myths and false claims about the Druids and their religious practices have persisted for centuries. For example, many people associate Stonehenge with the Druids when in fact there is no known link between the Druids of the Iron Age and the people who built Stonehenge sometime between 3000 and 2000 BCE. That religion would most likely have died out well before the Iron Age began. During the 19th century CE, the Druids and Celts began to be romanticized in popular culture, leading to many false ideas about the Iron Age Druids and their religious practices. Much of these ideas have been disproven by modern studies and discoveries on the matter. A major contributor to this 19th century fascination and view of the Druids was the works of Welshman Edward Williams, also known as lolo Morganwg. Williams claimed to have collected ancient knowledge about on the subject that he had gathered together. Many of these writings were later found to have been complete fabrications on Williams’ part; nevertheless pieces of his writings still appear in Neo-Druid works to this day as if they are authentic.


Stonehenge Closeup

(“Stonehenge Closeup”. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Today there are many different sects of pagan religions inspired by the Iron Age Celts and Druids, none of which have any provable historical semblance to the actual religious practices of the Celtic people. Modern day Druids or so called Neo-Druids focus much of their practices or teachings on the importance of nature. It is from nature that Neo-Druids draw their main focal point of spirituality.



(“Druids, in the early morning glow of the sun” by Andrew Dunn – Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

When it comes to modern day interpretations as to whom the Druids were, one view, as purported by archaeologist Anne Ross, is that the Druids were essentially shaman-like tribal priests, not having much in common at all with classical philosophers. Of all the different speculation and theories through the centuries as to whom the Druids were and what their role was in Celtic society, perhaps this is all we can know for sure: that the Druids were a priest class that oversaw the religious practices of the tribal group in which they were over. Most everything else is purely speculation.


Caesar, Julius. The Internet Classics Archive. The Gallic Wars by Julius Caesar. Translated by W. A. McDevitte and W. S. Bohn, 1869. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.

Cicero, Marcus Tullius. “On Divination Book I, P.223.” LacusCurtius • Cicero. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.

“Druid Beliefs.” Order of Bards and Druids. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.

“Druid | Celtic Culture.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.

“Druid.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.

“Druids.” British Museum. Web. 29 Apr. 2015. <;.

“Earth Mysteries: Who Were the Druids, Anyway?” Earth Mysteries: Who Were the Druids, Anyway? Web. 29 Apr. 2015.

“Full Text of “Pliny’s Natural History. In Thirty-seven Books”” Full Text of “Pliny’s Natural History. In Thirty-seven Books” Web. 29 Apr. 2015.

The Golden Bough. Frazer, Sir James George. 1922.


“The Venerable Bede, Druidic Tonsure and Archaeology.” ” by Venclova, Natalie. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.

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Ancient China Bronze Age Bronze


Overview of the Dynasty’s

The Shang Dynasty (1600 to 1046 BCE) a dynasty that took over from the Xia Dynasty after it lost power the Shang dynasty ruled most of northern china and was a territorial state that moved it capital one of the main evidence of the Shang Dynasty that we have is royal tombs that were found in 1976 one of them being Fu Hao a consort and military general of the king the great amount of things attested to the power and wealth of the Shang dynasty. That was until the Zhou over threw the Shang dynasty in 1050 BCE. The Zhou Dynasty (1050 to 711 BCE) The Dynasty is divided into the western Zhou and the Eastern Zhou this is marked by the capital moving from Xain to Luoyang. The Zhou dynasty was the longest lasting dynasty until It broke up into the warring states period Iron was introduced through this period even though it was not commonly used until later

Bronze Work

Bronze is an alloy mostly consisting of copper and usually tin (sometimes other metals) it is the fact that it is mixed with other metals that bronze is much harder than regular copper. Because of the huge amount of bronze that was used to make things this time in china is called a bronze age.Featured image

The Shang dynasty bronze was found in quantity in the tomb of Fu Hao that I talked about earlier it contained more than 440 bronze vessels. By the late Shang period these vessels came with small inscriptions what they are, clan names or names of the ancestor they were dedicated to. The right to own these vessels was most likely confined to the royal family Featured imageat first but later was bestowed on local governors that got their power from the ruler. These vessels were used in sacrificial offerings of food and wine given to the ancestors. These bronze vessels were given different shapes depending on their use in sacrificial rites. Some of them are the li a round body with a base that extends into three hollow legs. The Ding a hemispheric body on three solid legs. The Fang ding which is a square vessel on four legs. The gui which is a bowl placed on a ring shaped foot. These ones were for food for wine you have the You a covered bucket with a handle jue a small beaker on three legs and many others used for both wine and food. The bronze vessels were not cast by the lost wax Featured imagemethod as was used in much of the world in the Shang dynasty but instead in something called sectional molds they would form clay around a core and sliced into sections then removed then fired and reconstructed around a smaller core that will make the hollow center of the vessel using metal spacers to separate them and the bronze is poured into the gap. Appendages such as leg and handles etcetera were usually cast separately. Designs could be added by adding designs to the clay mold. The ritual vessels ranged in height from 15 cm to 130 cm with the intricacy and sharpness of the designs Chinese level of bronze casting was extremely advanced. Many animals show up on Shang dynasty bronzes such as a tiger, cicada, snake, or owl it is not known if the animals have any particular meaning or if they are just on there for decoration

The Zhou dynasty took over from the Shang and took a lot of their bronze techniques too. They really added their Featured imageown flare and experimented with the techniques with a not as impressive result in my opinion. First of all the vessels for the ancestors began to become vehicles for accomplishments by the late Zhou vessels could have well over 400 characters on it. Featured imageThe vessel designs themselves became heavy and sagging and the quality of the casting was significantly lower than the late Shang  bronze. After 771 they show signs of a renaissance per say. The bronze vessels were often adorned with bold handles in the form of animal heads a little later it changes to a more elegant form with more elaborate patterns such as interlaced serpents.

Then came the lost wax method which was introduced by the late 7th century BC lead to experiments in design that are impressive but gaudy and overdone. Though they continued to refine and the design became simpler for example a comma like pattern that was influenced by textile patterns and embroidery.

Vessels were not the only thing that were made out of bronze there are many more things such as a Featured imageorchestral set of 64  bells Featured imagefound in a royal tomb of the Zeng state . These orchestral bells are on wooden rack supported by bronze human figures. It is kind of like the huge xylophone of the ancient world the bells go from about 20cm small to 150cm height. With their shape and how you strike them each of these bells can produce two completely different tones gold inscriptions on the bell even tell some of the musical terms. Bronze mirrors were also used not just as a thing to look at yourself in but as a funerary object the mirrors were often polished on the face and elaborately decorated on the back  in a refined and elegant way.

Featured image


Department of Asian Art. “Shang and Zhou Dynasties: The Bronze Age of China”. In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (October 2004)

“Zhou Dynasty Bronzes.” Zhou Dynasty Bronzes. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2015. <;.

“Bronze.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2015. <;.

“The Shang Dynasty (c. 1600-1046 Bce).” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2015. <;.

“The Zhou Dynasty (1046-256 Bce).” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2015. <;


“Ancient China: The Bronze Age.” Ancient China: The Bronze Age. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2015. <;.

“Zhou Dynasty – Boundless Open Textbook.” Boundless. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2015. <;.

“4000 BCE-1000 CE: The Zhou Dynasty, Confucius, and China’s Philosophic Traditions | Central Themes and Key Points | Asia for Educators | Columbia University.” 4000 BCE-1000 CE: The Zhou Dynasty, Confucius, and China’s Philosophic Traditions | Central Themes and Key Points | Asia for Educators | Columbia University. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2015. <;.

BBC News. BBC, n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2015. <;

“Mirror with flower design, Warring States period, bronze, Honolulu Museum of Art” by Hiart – Own work. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons –,_Warring_States_period,_bronze,_Honolulu_Museum_of_Art.JPG#/media/File:Mirror_with_flower_design,_Warring_States_period,_bronze,_Honolulu_Museum_of_Art.JPG

“河南博物院藏莲鹤方壶” by Greg kf – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

“Ritual cooking vessel” by ellenm1 – Flickr: Ritual cooking vessel. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

“Wuhanbells” by User:Calton – Originally from zh.wikipedia; description page is/was here. From the Tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng, dated 433 BC, during the interregnum between the Spring and Autumn Period and Warring States Period of ancient China.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

“Covered Ritual Wine Vessel (Fangyi), 11th to early 10th century BC, Shang dynasty or Western Zhou period, China, cast bronze – Sackler Museum – DSC02619” by Daderot – Daderot. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons –,_11th_to_early_10th_century_BC,_Shang_dynasty_or_Western_Zhou_period,_China,_cast_bronze_-_Sackler_Museum_-_DSC02619.JPG#/media/File:Covered_Ritual_Wine_Vessel_(Fangyi),_11th_to_early_10th_century_BC,_Shang_dynasty_or_Western_Zhou_period,_China,_cast_bronze_-_Sackler_Museum_-_DSC02619.JPG

“Vessel (jue), China, Shang dynasty, bronze, Honolulu Academy of Arts” by Hiart – Own work. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons –,_China,_Shang_dynasty,_bronze,_Honolulu_Academy_of_Arts.JPG#/media/File:Vessel_(jue),_China,_Shang_dynasty,_bronze,_Honolulu_Academy_of_Arts.JPG

“Dinastia shang (fine)-din. zhou occ.le, versatoio tripode he in bronzo, xi sec. ac.” by I, Sailko. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –,_versatoio_tripode_he_in_bronzo,_xi_sec._ac..JPG#/media/File:Dinastia_shang_(fine)-din._zhou_occ.le,_versatoio_tripode_he_in_bronzo,_xi_sec._ac..JPG

“Dinastia shang (fine)-inizio zhou, bacinella per acqua pan, xii-xi sec. ac.” by I, Sailko. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –,_bacinella_per_acqua_pan,_xii-xi_sec._ac..JPG#/media/File:Dinastia_shang_(fine)-inizio_zhou,_bacinella_per_acqua_pan,_xii-xi_sec._ac..JPG

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As Pompeii Crumbles


Many wealthy Romans found the landscape and soil surrounding Mount Vesuvius remarkable. Pompeii, a lively city within the Roman Empire, lay southeast of Vesuvius and was fairly densely populated.


Mt Vesuvius 79 AD eruption

Somewhere around the neighborhood of twelve thousand people took up residence in the plentiful city. Although they knew that Mount Vesuvius was a volcano and not a mountain, they “thought it was extinct” (Moser & Gilman, p. 9). However, around midday on August 24th in AD 79, the volcano erupted. A column of debris, ash and smoke plumed upward and “reach[ed] a height of some 30 kilometers, making it visible for many miles around” (Moser & Gilman, p. 9). This stage of ash and debris was later called the Plinian Stage. “Ash and various sizes of rocks and pumice stones were ejected along with hot gases and water vapor at a rate of 1,200 kilometers an hour…” (Moser & Gilman, p. 9).800px-Karl_Brullov_-_The_Last_Day_of_Pompeii_-_Google_Art_Project

The Last Day of Pompeii


            Pompeii was found in the eighteenth century. A man by the name of Alcubierre found remains of a temple which he believed to be “the remains of Stabiae. It was not until 1763 that the excavators found inscriptions proving that these ruins belonged to the most famous of Vesuvius’ victims- Pompeii” (Stiebing, p. 150). Finding very minimal artifacts, Alcubierre and his group of men grew discouraged and returned to Herculaneum. However, he would not have done this if he would have known that the villas he had excavated lay on the far outskirts of the city.

He teamed up with a Swiss architect named Karl Weber who ended up finding a vast villa at the site of Herculaneum as well as many sculptures, paintings, and interesting ruins. This place was found because “in 1750 a peasant brought word that another well had uncovered an ancient pavement near the Augustinian Monastery” (Stiebing, p. 150). Inside what must have been a study, charcoal briquettes or logs were found. Most of these, once they were opened, were more philosophical works such as works of Philodemus and treatises by Epicurus. When Torre Annunziata (Pompeii) was finally understood to be the ancient city in 1763, all focus zoned in on the site. After all of the valuables had been taken, the uncovered portion was refilled with soil.

In 1860 Giuseppe Fiorelli was “appointed to be the director of excavations for Pompeii” and decided that the portions of the city that had been previously excavated and then refilled should be uncovered. From 1860 to today, excavations have focused on the streets of Pompeii and entering houses through the street level (Stiebing, p. 160). By digging this way, the city is getting fully uncovered one street block at a time.


These houses that were uncovered have been huge eye-openers towards the daily life of Pompeii’s ancient citizens. Whole villas have been uncovered and have shown how life worked back in 79 AD. I have heard that this eruption caught people so unawares what there is still food on the tables. This is great for us because we can know exactly what kind of food was consumed without having to make an educated guess based on plant or food residues. Each room that is excavated uncovers more of ancient life.



Casa con taberna

Before walking inside a villa’s street level doors, the first thing you would see was the shops. These “tabernas” were sometimes on the fascade of the homes. “Around eight hundred tabernae have been identified in the excavated area of Pompeii…” (Holleran, p. 112). Holleran also talks about how there were four different categories of shops- one being that the tabernae was “found in the front of atrium houses” (Holleran, 2012).



Atrium of the House of the Menander

            The atrum is the first room you would see when you enter a villa’s doors. This place was mainly a “show-piece for visitors” (Foss & Dobbins, 2009) while a secondary atrium was probably used for more private meetings or family gatherings. “The atrium was normally covered by a roof which sloped inwards. The rain water ran down towards the centre…” (Connolly, 1990) where there was a hole to drip into a pool. This small pool was called the impluvium and is shown in the center of the atrium in the picture above. The atrium was surrounded by other rooms and was the center of receiving guests.



The Tablinium facing the Atrium, decorated in the 4th Pompeii style

            Many people began to call on the wealthier people early in the morning. At six, they would all be ushered into the atrium and wait as each was called to be received by the master of the villa inside the tablinium. This small room “was at the back of the atrium… often completely open at the front divided from the atrium only by curtains or wooden screens” (Connolly, p. 34). Many times, if the room had wooden screens, there would still be big openings such as windows which opened up to the gardens on the other side.



Reconstructed Roman dining room in the Painting House

            The triclinium was another important room. Otherwise known as the dining room, the triclinium was very different from what we associate to be a dining room. “Romans reclined on couches leaning on their left elbows and eating with their right hands. The arrangements of a Roman dining room was very formal. It consisted of three large sloping couches covered with cushions…” (Connolly, p. 38). It was these three couches that surrounded a table of food. Most times these dining rooms were used during the winter. During summer seasons, the Roman people would “dine in the garden or in a room opening onto the garden” (Connolly, p. 38).



The peristyle of the House of Menander

            The peristyle surrounded a garden. Rooms opened up to this area which shows that “If the traditional pattern was a group of rooms around an atrium court, with a golden plot behind, the colonnades of the peristyle initially serve to give luxury and magnificence to the garden plot” (Foss & Dobbins, p. 287). The oldest villas, or earliest style in Pompeii had this place towards the back of the house as basically an add-on when peristyles became popular. The Hellenistic style came about and became another atrium. This is because every room began to open up on the sides of the peristyle and gardens instead of the atrium within the villa. When this new style came about, they decided to put gardens inside the peristyle “instead of leaving it as a beaten clay court or paving it with cobblestones, cement, or mosaics…” (Jashemski & Meyer, p. 15)




            The Cucina rarely had more than a sink and a brick oven. Many pots have been found in the remains of Pompeii. This gives fascinating insight on the types of cookware Roman citizens had during that time period. One kitchen that was excavated showed that “Lunch was being prepared for the staff when the eruption came. The cook fled leaving a pot still on the boil. Other cooking utensils were found hanging on the wall or resting on the side of the oven ready to use… at [another] house in Herculaneum bread, salad, eggs, cake, and fruit were found on the table preserved by the sea of mud that engulfed the town” (Connolly, p. 36 & 38).




            Another place where food could be found was outside in a thermopolium. This place was the “fast-food joint” of Pompeii. “The embedded vessels had hot or cold food. Many street corners had these, sort of like McDonald’s, and just as in big cities today, many people bought a lot of their meals there. A lot of homes didn’t even have kitchens” (Description of the thermopolim picture on Wikimedia Commons).


Connolly, P. (1990). Pompeii. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Foss, P., & Dobbins, J. J. (2009). The World of Pompeii. Routledge.

Holleran, C. (2012). Shopping in Ancient Rome: The Retail Trade in the Late Republic and the Principate. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Jashemski, W. F., & Meyer, F. G. (2002). The Natural History of Pompeii. Cambridge University Press.

Moser, B., & Gilman, B. (2007). Ashen Sky: The Letters of Pliny the Younger on the Eruption of Vesuvius. Getty Publications.

Stiebing, W. H. (1993). Uncovering the Past: A History of Archaeology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


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Class Systems Under Alexander the Great


Battle of Issus

Alexander overthrew Darius III as king of Persia in 333 BC and, therefore, became king of Persia. Dominating almost every country in the known world, Alexander the Great lived up to his name and was the ultimate king- the conqueror of the time.  People lived their lives while he acquired country after country. Power struggles and class systems always seem to begin when a civilization starts to establish itself. It was already apparent when Alexander took the throne but was an important part of the people and society. Usually the establishment of a new group of people involves the break off from one civilization, resulting in the creation of another. “He had planned to create a ruling class by intermarriage of Macedonian and Persian nobles. He himself married foreign, Roxanne of Bacteria and later a Persian princess” (Marx).

There were two distinct groups within Persian society while Alexander ruled: the upper and lower classes. Although “Macedon was a male-dominated society, the queens and royal mothers were greatly respected” (Skelton & Dell, p. 80)


Alexander The Greate and Roxane

This respect was shown because they came from wealthy families and would be the ones to produce the next heir to the throne. Struggle for power occurred regularly between the queen, the king’s mother, and even his advisors.

The king, aristocracy, and religious priests made up the upper class. Most of the aristocracy within the upper class was in command of the army as generals or in the cavalry. Their preferred interests were “fighting, hunting, and heavy drinking. The king could only gain respect from the nobility if he was an expert in all these activities” (Skelton & Dell, p. 80). Alexander loved to hunt and ended up heading a huge army with an enormous camp of followers trailing behind him.


Alexander with the Spear

Although the spear is long gone, this statue shows the “conqueror” part in Alexander’s title. He was a true Macedonian and king of Persia. His love for fighting proved correct when he led his men into India and other countries ultimately conquering what was seen as the “world”.

The lower class lived very different lives from upper society. Most of these people were workers or laborers. “Freemen got paid and could choose where they worked. Bondsmen were serfs and slaves, and had little or no choice about where and for whom they worked” (Skelton & Dell, p. 80).

There was somewhat of a middle class also. “Hoplites are most often associated with Greek city-states and by-and-large represent these communities’ middle class. Typically these heavy infantrymen were to supply their own equipment, the round, three-foot in diameter shield, the seven-to-eight-foot stabbing spear, grieves, and breastplate, since the cities themselves were seldom wealthy enough to do so” (Anson 18). It seems that a lot of this middle class was made up of soldiers. Therefore, within the cities and society, there was a huge distinction between high and low class and somewhere in the middle were the soldiers.

Works Cited

Anson, E. M. (2013). Alexander the Great: Themes and Issues. New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

Marx, I. (1997-2000). Empire of Alexander the Great – Expansion into Asia and Central Asia. Retrieved 04 24, 2015, from Silk-Road:

(2009). Part II: Society and Culture. In D. Skelton, & P. Dell, Empire of Alexander the Great. New York: Chelsea House.


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Women’s Fashion in the Roman World

Throughout time, clothing has morphed from a sole necessity of survival to a luxury of status. Fashion has defined individual groups of people and put a significant barrier between classes such as nobles and slaves. Several other groups can be ranked through what they wear and how they conduct themselves.

The Roman people loved their material possessions. In fact, there were several types of merchants that came from all over the known world to bring exotic things to the wealthy class. These exotic things could have been part of the cause for that significant barrier clearly observed between wealthy and deprived.


Roman toga diagram

Stolas and togas were mainly worn as the basic form of clothing for the Roman people. Depending on your status, you either added to or took away that basic form.


Ancient Times, Roman- Costumes of All Nations

Women, as well as men, used clothing as a marker of money and rank. Their class could be picked out just from looking at what they were wearing. “Widows were usually distinguished from wives, and the ‘mothers of the family’ from other matrons… Not only veils but also the other garments of women served as indicators of their status and social function” (Sebesta 46). Clothing, whether it was the dye used to color the cloth or how much layering was done, could change how the public saw individuals. Being adorned was very important for women of that era and. As Livy said, “elegance, and ornamentation, and care of the self- these are the insignia of women, in these they delight and glory; this our ancestors called ‘women’s world’” (Olson 7). Women with colorful stolas and brooches were normally on the wealthier side. “Poorer women made do with coarse brown or gray cloth, fastened with a treasured brooch or pin” (Williams 24)

Jewlery and ornamentation was also used to show status. We have seen glimpses of this while looking at evidences in Pompeii. “As Rome’s empire grew richer, ordinary people could afford gold rings, and rich people wore rings that were truly massive. Some rings bore their owner’s name” (Williams 26). Roman women also received engagement rings when they were betrothed to be married. “An engagement ring was often made of iron, so that only its jewel gave it material value; but we know that there were rings of gold because it is said that sometimes on engagement ring was the first bit of gold jewelry a girl possessed” (

Puella Inguena, a Freeborn girl, would wear a toga praetexta and had braided hair tied with a vita, luna. A toga praetexta was also worn by freeborn boys and could have just been what brothers and sisters alike wore as day-to-day clothing. This kind of toga, as seen in this portrait of a child, was based from an “adult male’s but had a narrow, reddish purple woven border along one long edge” (Sebesta 46).



An adulteress or Adultera “was not permitted to wear the stola and vittae. Instead, according to custom, the woman divorced of promiscuity wore a plain toga. The symbolism behind the assumption of the toga would seem not to be that the woman had assumed the sexual freedom allowed males, but that she ahd lost her status and role as a sexually mature woman in Roman Society” (Sebesta 50).

Viduas (widow) possibly wore a ricinium, stola, and vittae. The ricinium was for everyday wear for women- the equal to a men’s toga. As time passed, the ricinium, now a dark colored material made out of wool, was used as a sign of mourning.

Works Cited

  • Olson, K. (2008). Dress and the Roman Woman: Self-Presentation and Society. New York: Routledge.
  • Sebesta, J. L. (2001). Symbolism of the Costume of the Roman Woman. In J. L. Sebesta, & L. Bonfante, The World of Roman Costume (pp. 46-53). Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press.
  • Williams, B. (2003). Ancient Roman Women. Chicago: Reed Educational & Professional Publishing.


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