Bits and Bobs 4

This is another page of miscellaneous material.  It’s mostly from Twitter.  I bookmarked it over the last 4-5 years, with the intention of writing more, but never did.  So I may as well share them here.

The first item is a combined fork and spoon, made of silver, possibly 3rd century, from the Metropolitan Museum in New York.  The handle is decorated with a spotted panther, an animal often associated with the god Dionysus.  It’s about 6″ long (16.2 cms).  Accession no. 2006.514.3.

Paul Harrison posted here a lovely image of a Roman calendar of fasti, legal and religious feast days, now in the Baths of Diocletian:

The Thesaurus Linguae Latinae project is now searchable online, and open-access, here.  You can search for the start or end of words, helpfully, and iyou get the printed page displayed.

When the basilica of Old St Peter’s was demolished, in order to build the present church, a Roman tomb – the chapel of St Petronilla – had to be demolished also. Inside the grave of the Empress Maria was found.  She was the wife of Honorius, and daughter of Stilicho.  The tomb was full of precious things, which were eagerly seized upon to help pay for the new church.  But a pendant does survive, now in the Louvre, with the names of her parents, her husband and herself.  (h/t @TrimontiumTrust)  See also this article.

Roman temples are often depicted on coins, although often the result is a bit sketchy.  Here’s a picture of the temple of Isis in Rome, on a sestertius of Vespasian from AD 71. (h/t here).  An example was offered for sale in 2013 here.  The British Museum specimen is here.  It does give us an impression of what the temple must have looked like!

I imagine that we can all stare at the Colosseum all day long.  Indeed on my last visit to Rome, I used to walk there every evening and eat a ciabatta while sitting outside.  This photograph from here is from 1896, and shows the Meta Sudans from an unusual angle.

Another photograph taken “before 1871” shows the Arch of Constantine, and the Meta Sudans peeking through one of the arches (h/t Archaeology and Art).  This is one of a set taken by Giacomo Brogi during his travels in Italy in the 1860s (see Digital Maps of the Ancient World, here).

A news report appeared in 2020 about a tablet recording an edict of Caesar threatening punishment for grave robbers.  Thought to come from Palestine, indeed from Nazareth, soon after the time of Christ, it has been seen as perhaps referring to the disappearance of Jesus’ body.  But an analysis of the marble shows that it isn’t local, but comes from the island of Kos in the Aegean.  Obviously that is not proof of anything very much, but the circumstances would better fit events in Kos in 20 BC. The JAS article (vol. 30, 2020) is here. (h/t Trimontium Trust)

Outside the Archaeological Museum in Istanbul stand a group of immense porphyry sarcophagi, thought to come from the mausoleum of the house of Constantine in the Church of the Holy Apostles.  This was demolished by the Turks after their conquest of the city.  Most are decorated Christian symbols, but one is not.  It is hypothesised that this one belonged to Julian the Apostate.  It was discovered in the second courtyard of the Topkapi Palace, buried underneath an immense plane tree. (h/t The Hidden Face of Istanbul).

I’m sure that we all are familiar with the depiction of Roman centurions with a helmet crest mounted cross-wise, like this:

But how do we know that they did this?  The answer, I find, is the gravestone of T. Calidus Severus, in the Vienna Kunsthistorisches Museum (inv. III 365).  He came from Italy, and died aged 58 in Carnutum as a centurion of the 15th legion, and his brother Quintus erected the monument with pictures of his equipment. (h/t Symmachus).  There is a German Wikipedia article about him.

The inscription reads:

T(itus) Calidius / P(ublii filius) Cam(ilia) Sever(us) / eq(ues) item optio / decur(io) coh(ortis) I Alpin(orum) / item leg(ionis) XV Apoll(inaris ) / annor(um) LVIII stip(endiorum) XXXIIII / h(ic) s(itus) e(st) / Q(uintus) Calidius fratri / posuit.

Titus Calidius Severus, son of Publius, of the tribe Camilia, horseman, then optio and finally decurio of the Cohors I Alpinorum , then centurion of the Legio XV Apollinaris , aged 58, 34 years of service, is buried here. Quintus Calidius built this tomb for his brother/

Useful to see hard evidence, I think.


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