We asked you five questions about Ancient Rome and the Romans. Here come the answers!
- The tomb built by the freed slave Eurysaces still stands in Rome. It was built in the shape of a giant what?
Oven, decorated with baking scenes. Although Roman society was highly stratified—with slaves at the bottom—it was not unusual for slaves to be given their freedom, and indeed for freedmen to rise to high positions in business or even government service.
- Two ancient Roman shipwrecks were discovered near the island of Tino in the Ligurian Sea in 2012 and 2014. What typical Roman artefact found on the sea bed led to their discovery?
Amphoræ. These large earthenware jars were used to transport and store a variety of goods including fruit and olive oil, but most commonly wine, in quantities of up to about 50 kg/100 lb in weight. Their presence on the sea bed alerted the local carabinieri to the possible presence of the two shipwrecks. Tino is part of the same UNESCO World Heritage Site as the Cinque Terre.
- Which Emperor charged the Imperial treasury a million sesterces for each of his performances as a gladiator in the amphitheatre?
Commodus (reigned 180-192). Although at least seven other Emperors (including Caligula and Nero, but not lame Claudius) are known to have taken part in gladiatorial contests at one time or another, Commodus did so frequently, scandalising the Senate—gladiators ranked little higher than slaves in Rome’s highly class-conscious society. It was rumoured that Commodus was not his predecessor Marcus Aurelius’s son at all, but the offspring of an adulterous affair between his mother and a gladiator.
- Hadrian’s Wall stretches from coast to coast in what is now Northern England. How long is it?
75 Roman miles, which equates to 73 statute miles or 117.5 kilometres. The Wall, a defensive fortification near the Roman world’s northern extremity (there were several settlements north of it, and indeed another wall built later, the Antonine Wall), was one of its biggest military complexes and was also a microcosm of its huge diversity of cultures. If you’re interested in finding out more about the Wall, there’s a free online university course from Newcastle University starting on 22 September!
- Here’s an excerpt from an article in The Independent of 16 April 2014:
British researchers have discovered ruins that prove a city crucial to the Roman Empire, bringing food to the ancient capital itself, was “much bigger” than previously thought. The find has been hailed as “crucial” in understanding the area around the first century AD.
Which Roman city are they referring to?
Ostia, Rome’s seaport, and possibly its earliest colonia if legend’s to be believed. It was a military camp by the fourth century BCE; the Emperor Claudius ordered the building of a harbour, which became Rome’s principal port for the import of Egyptian wheat during the winter months. However, silting means that the ancient city (though not the modern Roman suburb of the same name) is now three kilometres (two miles) from the sea!
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