Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Rome’s border walls were the beginning of its end.

Photograph by Robert Clark
Valkhof Museum, Nijmegen, Netherlands; Photographed at Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery Trust, Carlisle, U.K.
An iron mask, sheathed in bronze and silver and discovered in the Netherlands, was attached to a cavalry soldier’s helmet by a hinge and worn on parade—and perhaps into battle.

Imposing architecture and art followed Roman armies to the farthest flung corners of the empire. The curled fingers were part of a statue that may have stood over 40 feet tall at the Temple of Hercules, in Amman, Jordan, around A.D. 160. Romans knew the city as Philadelphia.

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Rome imposed its sense of order all across the empire. The town of Thamugadi was laid out on a grid-style plan and included a market (at center), ceremonial gates, more than a dozen bath complexes, a library, and a theater that could seat 3,500.

State Archaeological Service, Koblenz Bureau, on view at Koblenz State Museum, Ehrenbreitstein Fortress; General Directorate of Cultural Heritage, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany
This dragon’s head would have been carried into battle on a pole, with a fabric body attached. Otherwise, the dragon would be kept in the central building of a frontier fort.

Built around A.D. 300, this cavalry outpost on the edge of the desert is one of the world’s best preserved Roman forts. With between 70 and 160 horsemen, the fort kept Arab nomads from attacking caravans carrying frankincense and myrrh

A Roman Legion impersonator has donned his armor for a tourist event held in the remains of the hippodrome—an arena for chariot racing—in the Jordanian city of Jarash, which was once ruled by Romans. Former Jordanian soldiers and police officers play the parts of soldiers and gladiators. 

This triumphal arch awed visitors to the city of Thamugadi, founded by the emperor Trajan around A.D. 100 as a civilian settlement near the fort of Lambaesis. The grooves left by wagon and chariot wheels can still be seen in the stone road. 

The Porta Nigra, or “black gate,” still dominates Trier, Germany. A hundred feet tall, it was built in the second century as part of four miles of walls. Trier was a major city in the late Roman Empire, even serving as a regional capital under several emperors.

First a fort, Corbridge later became a civilian settlement that helped supply soldiers stationed on Hadrian’s Wall. Today the remnants of Rome’s glory are a playground for local lad Angus Buchanan, eight.


  1. Nice way to decorate your walls. I have never done that. My effort to beautify the walls in my house was to order big-sized canvas prints from wahooart.com, from images of western art. I use the same angel motifs in all of the rooms painted by different painters, such as this one by very interesting English artist Stanley Spencer, http://EN.WahooArt.com/A55A04/w.nsf/OPRA/BRUE-8LT7K6