Tacitus’ Histories

30 December 2008

Strewn across the Internet the diligent Googler will find several copies of the works of Tacitus in English, and a couple in Latin. There is thus no particular virtue or novelty in one more, but I got tired of not finding the convenience of local links, so I’ve added my own, just in English for now: the Loeb edition — translation by Clifford H. Moore — is about 75 years more recent, and as usual on Lacus, my transcription has its full complement of local links. Here.


Seventeen pages on Roman Nijmegen

25 December 2008
Nijmegen on the Peutinger Map.

Nijmegen on the Peutinger Map.

Nijmegen was not the largest or most important city north of the Alps, and because there is a major city on top of it (Nijmegen is Holland’s tenth city), excavating it is a pretty complex and frustratingly slow process. Still, the cluster of six settlements is one of the most fascinating archaeological projects I know, and fortunately, the Valkhof Museum is up to its task in explaining it to the larger audience.

Milestone along the road to Xanten.

Milestone along the road to Xanten.

Briefly summarized, the Romans arrived in 19 BCE, and founded a military base that was called Hunerberg; next to it were the HQs of the army of the Rhine, which have been identified on the Kops Plateau. To the west was the town where romanized Batavians lived: Batavodurum. In its center was a monument, dedicated to Tiberius. As long as Rome tried to conquer the land east of the Rhine, this was the situation. Later, the Hunerberg was abandoned, and when the limes was created, the Kops Plateau was converted into a cavalry camp.

In 69, the Batavians revolted (one of the subjects of TacitusHistories), and although they achieved some remarkable successes, Rome returned. The Hunerberg became a legionary base again: X Gemina stayed there for about thirty years, and was later replaced by troops from Britain (including a part of VIIII Hispana), and a subunit of XXX Ulpia Victrix. It was a luxurious base, with an aqueduct that was identified only recently.

A glass vase; Valkhof Museum.

A glass vase; Valkhof Museum.

The civil settlement Batavodurum had been destroyed during the Batavian Revolt, and a new city was built in the west, called Noviomagus. There was a bridge across the river Waal, two or three temples have been identified, the baths, the walls, and several splendid tombs.There were important satellite settlements, like the pottery at De Holdeurn, the Batavian sanctuary at Elst, and the bridge at Cuijk, which was vital for reaching Nijmegen.

In the fourth century, the situation had changed. The garrison was now concentrated on the Valkhof hill, and the civil settlement was along the river. It was still called Noviomagus, which became “Niomagus” after the Frankish take-over. The Valkhof remained an important castle, which was used by important rulers like Charlemagne and Frederick Barbarossa.

The Waal and its bridge.

The Waal and its bridge.

The castle was demolished in the eighteenth century, but if you go there, you can still see why this could become a city of some significance: you have a splendid view on the bridge that was so important a target for the Allies during the Second World War. Nijmegen will always be the place of one of the most important river crossings in the Low Countries.

I devoted seventeen pages to ancient Nijmegen, with some ninety photos. And if you prefer to read only about the history, this is your starting page. Enjoy!

[Update: page #18: three maps.]


Photos from Turkey

21 December 2008
The firy breath of the Chimaera

The breath of the Chimaera

Ancient Anatolia was one of the most heavily urbanized parts of the ancient Mediterranean world. Many ruins are well-preserved, making modern Turkey one of the places that any archaeologist, classicist, or historian simply must have seen. And fortunately, travel is easy over there, food is excellent, and the people are among the most friendly and hospitable in the world.

Here are some pages I have recently moved: the tomb of Antiochus II Theos at Belevi, the tombs of the Lydian kings at Bin Tepe, the source of natural gas that was identified with the mythological Chimaera, the rock of Niobe at Magnesia, the city of Olba/Diocaesarea and the nearby tombs of Demircili, the city and theater of Aspendus, the muddy river Meander, the temple of Apollo Smintheus, and the oracle of Apollo at Didyma. Enjoy!

So much for moving my site this weekend; I have stil 138 pages to go…


Miletus

21 December 2008
Model of the harbor area of Miletus (Pergamon Museum, Berlin)

Model of the harbor area of Miletus (Pergamon Museum, Berlin)

The city of Miletus was already a center of Greek civilization in the Bronze Age, and was to remain the largest Greek city in Asia Minor until the Roman age. Today, however, the ruins are a bit disappointing. There’s the theater, of course, but the ancient market is usually a sad, wet field, and you can not reach most buildings. The best moment to go to there is, I think, the end of summer.

I already had some photos online of our rather disappointing visit; I’ve now added a history of the city. Somehow, the subject did not make me very enthusiastic.


The Roman Bridge at Cendere

20 December 2008

The bridge from the southwest.

The Roman bridge at Cendere, built by the Sixteenth legion Flavia Firma, is a remarkable monument. It is 118 meters long and was part of the road along the Upper Euphrates that had once been Rome’s eastern frontier, but had become a normal province after Septimius Severus‘ eastern conquests. The bridge has been in use for about eighteen centuries, and it was only very recently that a modern bridge was built next to it. Most tourists will pass along Cendere on their road to Nemrud dagi. I used to have a small page dedicated to this monument, but added twelve photos, available here.


Motya and other Mediterranean towns

15 December 2008

A Greek-Phoenician female mask; Museum Villa Whittaker.

A Greek-Phoenician female mask; Museum Villa Whittaker.

Motya is a Phoenician city, situated on a small island in a lagoon in the west of Sicily. The city was destroyed in 396 BCE by Dionysius of Syracuse, but was not really abandoned: archaeologists have found villas from the fourth century. Still, the island had become more or less empty, and remained so until archaeologists started to dig. They found city walls, a port, sanctuaries, and tombs. The finds are now in museums on the island itself, in Marsala, and in Palermo. You can find the first of three pages devoted to Motya here; a satellite photo is here.

I was also occupied with Assos, in the west of Assos. We visited the site in 2004, and later, we saw many finds in the Paris Louvre and the Archaeological Museum of Istanbul. Everything is brought together on this page.

Slonta in Libya is one of the weirdest ancient sanctuaries, as you will see on this page; for a more regular ancient city, go to Roman Cordoba; and for the delighs of rural life, go to Suq al-Awty, which was part of the Limes Tripolitanus.

The regular reader of this blog will have noted that I am still moving pages. I still have 154 pages to go.


Photos from Rome

14 December 2008
Equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius.

Equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius.

Today, I moved the entire photo section of ancient Rome. Even though it is not a fraction of what there is to be seen in the capital of the Mediterranean Empire, it was still thirty-one pages, and even though many were just small, it cost me one day:

Plus Delphi (in fact still to be written), and that’s it for today. Only 161 pages left…


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