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HEXHAM, United Kingdom — Vindolanda served as an ancient Roman auxiliary fort in the north of what is now the United Kingdom for nearly 300 years (roughly 85 AD -370 AD). Now, a new analysis has identified what looks to be the first ever known example of a disembodied phallus made of wood recovered anywhere in the Ancient Roman world.
Phalli were actually quite ubiquitous at the time across the Roman Empire, as they were believed to help promote good luck and ward off bad fortune. People would wear necklaces featuring phallic pendants, and phallic images were often seen in painted frescoes and mosaics. They even formed part of the decoration of other objects such as knife handles or pottery.
JBW: Many thanks for speaking with me yet again, Dr. Esaù Dozio. For thousands of
years, people have viewed the Rhine River as a boundary of sorts, dividing northern and
southern Europe. The Rhine River was a conduit of wealth and exchange. Nonetheless, I am curious to know why you and your fellow curators chose the Rhine River as the focus of the Antikenmuseum’s latest exhibition. I would suspect that Basel’s location, sitting astride the Rhine, had some role in this.
ED: Between fall 2022 and summer 2023, the Netzwerk Museen is dedicating an international exhibition series to the Rhine. Thirty-eight museums from Germany, France, and Switzerland highlight the importance of this river for our region from different perspectives. For the Antikenmuseum, it was a fitting occasion to present the ancient history of the Rhine. In this context, Basel and the surrounding region have a special role to play, especially since the Celtic settlement of Basel-Gasfabrik, the fortified oppidum on the local Münsterhügel and the nearby Roman colony of Augusta Raurica provide outstanding conditions for such a project.
Luxor, which translates as “The Palaces” in Arabic, was formerly known as “The City of Hundred Doors” in ancient times. It is regarded by many as the world’s largest open-air museum due to the presence of some of the most majestic temples on a 417 sq km (161 sq mi) area, including the Valley of the Kings, the Karnak Temple, Queen Hatshepsut Temple, and the Luxor Temple, which houses some of the most extraordinary ruins and artifacts. Luxor is a portion of the ancient city of Thebes and is situated in the southern region of Upper Egypt on the east bank of the Nile River. Luxor served as both the nation’s capital under the New Kingdom and was regarded as a very significant city in ancient Egypt.
Millions of tourists come to the city from around the world to see this amazing beauty. Over 500,000 people still live in the city in an active population who are almost exclusively reliant on tourism. Luxor experiences an extremely hot and sunny environment, with summertime highs of 40 C (104 F) and wintertime lows of 22 C (71.6 F).
Roman Times is a new organization dedicated to exploring life in the ancient Roman Empire. Our mission is to foster and perpetuate an appreciation and knowledge of the history, culture, and greatness of the ancient Roman Empire; educating both members and the public through living history events, workshops and research into the daily lives and material culture of the soldiers and civilians of ancient Rome and the cultures with which they interacted. History does not have to be boring, especially when it is interactive. Much has been written and shown in movies (often more fiction than fact) and media series about the people of ancient Rome. If you have ever wondered what it would be like to live in ancient Rome; then this experience is for you. Roman Times provides the opportunity for history to come alive. An opportunity for you to wear the clothes, the armor, or use the tools used by ancient Romans. Our immersion events allow you to do all of this while learning about the life of Roman soldiers, citizens, those who became Roman citizens, or opposed Roman rule.
The Theodosian Walls of Constantinople were one of the most powerful defensive structures from ancient and medieval times. Built in the early fifth century AD, during the reign of emperor Theodosius II (thus the name), the Theodosian Walls fulfilled their primary task for a thousand years. They protected the city of Constantinople, the capital of the Medieval Roman Empire, better known as the Byzantine Empire. However, the Theodosian Walls were more than a defensive bulwark. Their mighty appearance marked the boundaries of the “Queen of the Cities” – Constantinople.
The walls also had a ceremonial role in the imperial, military and religious processions that passed throughout the city. Lastly, the Theodosian walls symbolized the power and endurance of the Empire. In their long history, only once did the enemy breach the walls. When that occurred in 1453, the Roman Empire fell with them.
Detail of the mosaic showing the emperor Justinian I, 6th century CE, Basilica di San Vitale, Ravenna
The Wars That Made Justinian’s Reconquest Possible
Since the mid-fifth century CE, and the fall of Rome, the emperors in Constantinople dreamed of the reconquest of the former Roman territories lost to the barbarian kingdoms. However, the constant threat from Sassanid Persia in the East and the barbarian incursions at the Danubian frontier tied down most of the troops. All that changed during the reign of emperor Justinian I. His predecessors left Justinian with a full treasury, a stable government, and a disciplined, professional army. Justinian also inherited the war against Persia, a traditional rival of the Roman Empire since the times of Crassus. However, the Roman victories at Dara and Satala led to the “Eternal Peace” with Persia in 532 CE. Justinian could finally focus on his lifelong aim – the reconquest of the Roman West.