Augustan Stables to be Reburied?

From the Telegraph … skipping a bit:

Now, to mark the two millennia since his death in 14AD, a successful exhibition has been staged in Rome and Paris, while on Rome’s Palatine Hill newly restored rooms at Augustus’ house and elaborate frescoes in a dining area will go on display for the first time.

But at a large excavated site off Via Giulia, in the heart of the city, workers will start covering the remains of Augustus’s marbled stables with waterproof cloths, ready for reburial, left for future generations to rediscover.

Described as “extremely important” by Rome’s archaeological authority when they were first found in 2009 by a firm excavating to build an underground car park, the buildings gave a unique glimpse of how imperial stables were built, adding to shreds of information provided by digs at Roman military camps and mosaics found in North Africa.

Graffiti on the walls boasting of victories in races at the Circus Maximus provided a fascinating insight into the four racing teams that shared the stables and divided the fierce loyalties of Roman race fans.

In 2011, archaeologists celebrated when it was announced the stables would be preserved and open to visits, only for city officials to cancel the plans this year due to budget cuts.

Cataloguing discoveries before burying them is standard practice “when there are no funds to guarantee the work needed to safeguard the finds,” said Federica Galloni, a culture minister official.

Experts believe that once reburied, artefacts and remains do not risk erosion by the elements or the thefts they might endure if left exposed and unprotected, and can be re-excavated when funding permits.

The fate of the stables and Augustus’s mausoleum contrasts with other monuments in the city which have benefited from a new trend for restoration work paid for by Italian fashion companies. Shoe maker Tod’s is sponsoring a clean-up of the Colosseum while Fendi is funding repairs to the Trevi Fountain.

Officials have said the city of Rome did seek a sponsor to help restore Augustus’ mausoleum in time for the 2014 celebrations, but found no takers.

With just two million of a required four million euros available, work will now be finished in 2016.

Meanwhile, yards from the mausoleum, Augustus’s excavated and restored Ara Pacis – or “temple to peace” – is in much better shape and now hosting an exhibition devoted to the emperor. After it was discovered buried beneath a cinema in central Rome, fascist dictator Benito Mussolini decided in 1937 to excavate the temple at all costs in time to celebrate Augustus’ 2000th birthday.

Sparing no expense, experts dug down to retrieve the monument using innovative techniques to freeze the foundations beneath the cinema to ensure the modern building did not collapse.

History unearthed – and reburied

Reinterring ancient sites to protect them from the elements and thieves rather than leaving them exposed is becoming more frequent as funds for archaeology become a luxury in cash strapped economies like Italy and Greece.

An important thermal bath dating to the first century AD reign of the Roman emperor Titus, discovered close to the Colosseum in Rome in the 1990s, has been reburied until money is found for its preservation.

On the outskirts of Rome, experts are campaigning for cash to save from reinterring the stunning tomb of Marcus Nonius Macinus, the Roman general whose 2nd century AD campaigning helped inspire Russell Crowe’s Gladiator.

In Greece, an early Christian basilica, discovered in 2010 during the construction of an underground railway in Thessaloniki was reportedly reburied.

Not sure how I missed this discovery back in 2009. Back in 2008 we read of an impending restoration of the Circus (Circus to be Restored!), and shortly thereafter, about some entrepreneur’s plans to bring chariot racing back to the venue (Chariot Racing in Rome Redux), but then all we heard were tales of a beach soccer tournament therein (Beach Soccer in the Circus Maximus?).

The so-called ‘Gladiator Tomb’ has been its own saga … ecce:

… so apparently the campaign on that score is continuing. Hopefully publicity will bring a sponsor out of the woodwork …

 

Documentary of the Day: Seven Wonders of Ancient Rome (2004)

As always, not sure how long this one will stay up:

Seven Wonders of Ancient Rome (IMDB)

This documentary is not bad/pretty good and looks at the Circus Maximus, Trajan’s Forum and Market, Aqueducts, the Baths of Caracalla, Roman Roads, the Pantheon, and the Colosseum. When it is just talking about the buildings and their construction, it is very good, but in obvious places it tends towards sensationalism and seems obsessed with the idea that assorted emperors were doing these things to mend tarnished reputations with the people. There is an obsession, it seems, with ‘impressive statistics’, the sources of which are unclear to me. It also is kind of ‘blurry’ chronologically at times.

Despite that, there is a good list of talking heads:

My random notes as I watched:

Circus Maximus

- focus on Trajan and the spina (“the broken back of Rome’s enemies”)

- “newly discovered miracle building material” (!)

- assorted events

- 50 died every year (source?)

- charioteer celebrities, e.g. Scorpus, colours, and betting

Trajan’s Forum and Market … first the Forum

- Apollodorus the architect

- funded by the Dacian campaign

… then the Market

- construction methods (brick, rubble, concrete)

- corn dole on the 5th floor (source?)

Aquaducts

- 900 million litres of water to Rome a day

- Vitruvius, Frontinus

- 416 km network; purification tanks

- all about the arch and how it was made

Baths of Caracalla

- built to reverse a failing image

- soundbite from the psychiatrist declaring Caracalla a “genuine psychopath”

- a big list of statistics; not sure where they’re from

- strange shots of Pompeii frescoes under water when talking about mosaics in the baths

-  the hypocaust system

- what folks did there

Roads

- Appian Way

- 288,000 km network, eventually

- claim that 1/2 a km a day was being built at one time

- “core of Roman communication system” (but not explained)

- how road was built

Pantheon

- built by Hadrian (no mention of Agrippa!)

- Hadrian’s architectural obsession (including his villa)

- repeated mention that we don’t really know the Pantheon’s function

- five types of cement

- Hadrian and Apollodorus didn’t get along (executed)

Colosseum

- “the most infamous building in the world”

- Vespasian had to win back public support after Nero (?)

- usual stuff about building, seating, the awning

- V dies before completion; Titus’ opening games (usual)

- usual gladiatorial stuff; claim that 700,000 died there

Some good potential excerpts on Roman construction techniques, but not one which you’d probably show in its entirety to a class ..

This Day in Ancient History: ante diem x kalendas septembres

ante diem x kalendas septembres

Carin Green on Tutulina, Sessia, and Messia

A vestal virgin, detail of an engraving by Sir...
Image via Wikipedia

I think this will be the last one from the Toledo series that I post today … one could kill a lot of time with these:

The Circus Maximus is generally considered a place of spectacle where emperors indulged an impotent public with displays of power and largess to ensure public complacency. Romans gave up their freedom for “bread and circuses” Juvenal famously says. It makes good copy (or Juvenal would not have said it), but it overlooks the importance of the goddesses whose place on the spina, the central spine of the Circus, put them at the heart of the drama, both in the races and in the theater, that took place there. Three goddesses, the protectress Tutulina and her companions Sessia and Messia, goddesses of Rome’s vitality and wealth, and the goddess Victory, all had shrines on the spina, which, not coincidentally, marked the sacred boundary of Rome. Rituals and ritual drama of crisis, sacrifice, and triumph, performed by the Vestal Virgins, among others, throughout the year at these shrines taught the audience about the power these goddesses had to defend Rome. The significance of the Circus as the place in which protection and safety were reified by divine power in feminine form was so much part of Roman culture that even after non-Christian rites were officially suppressed in Rome (ca. AD 380), Romans turned to it in times of crisis. Both St. Augustine and Pope Leo bitterly lament the fact that when the Goths sacked Rome in 410, and for decades after, the Romans sought the reassurance of the Circus at the times of the old rituals, rather than attending to the martyrs’ churches. Interestingly, the earliest martyrs’ churches in Rome seem to have been built in imitation of the layout of the Circus.

Carin M. C. Green is Professor and Chair of Classics at the University of Iowa. She received a B.A. in Latin from San Jose State College, an M.A. in Latin from the University of Texas, and a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of Virginia. She teaches courses in Latin composition, Augustan poetry, Roman religion, Lucan, and Greek prose. Her book, Roman Religion and the Cult of Diana at Aricia, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2007. She is currently—when not occupied with departmental administration—working on a monograph about the Roman deity Consus and the Vestal Virgins.

via Dr. Carin Green | ”Women, the Circus and the Defense of Rome” | March 20, 2010 | Toledo Museum of Art.