AD300 Ancient Roman Pannonia (Hungary) Ring Sz5+ Antique19thC 10ct Orange Agate

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Seller: ancientgifts ✉️ (5,288) 100%, Location: Lummi Island, Washington, US, Ships to: WORLDWIDE, Item: 384398536346 AD300 Ancient Roman Pannonia (Hungary) Ring Sz5+ Antique19thC 10ct Orange Agate. Very Elegant and Bold Size 5 1/4 Genuine Ancient Roman Bronze Ring 300 A.D. CLASSIFICATION: Ancient Roman Bronze Ring. ATTRIBUTION: Eastern Roman Empire (Provincial Pannonia – present-day Hungary), Fourth or Fifth Century A.D. SIZE/MEASUREMENTS: Fits ring size 5 1/4 (U.S.). Diameter: 19mm (outer diameter); 16 1/2mm * 16mm (inner diameter). Bezel: 16mm breadth * 14mm height * 1 1/2mm thickness. Gemstone: 17mm (length) * 12mm (breadth) * 6mm (thickness). 10.36 carats (approximate weight). Fixed Width 2 1/2 Band. Weight: 6.74 grams. CONDITION: Very good, completely intact, moderate wear, moderately light porosity (surface pitting caused by contact with earth while buried). Professionally conserved. DETAIL: A substantial, well constructed Roman bronze ring with very elegant and bold features. The ring sports a very large serrated bezel. Given the extent of the wear evidenced, it is quite likely that the ring was worn most of a lifetime. In fact the extent of the wear is significant enough that it suggests that the ring might have been worn during the lifetime of more than one owner. Perhaps it was a family heirloom handed down between generations. If you look beneath the stone you might notice that even the serrated edges of the bezel are worn smooth at both sides. It is only where the serrated edges were “protected” by the wearer’s finger that they are almost entirely intact, but where the edges were exposed and unprotected by the wearers fingers, they show substantial wear. The ring seems to have been originally crafted with the intent to hold a gemstone. The bezel was flat and undecorated except that there was a recessed center panel and the surface was intentionally roughened or textured, as if to better hold an adhesive between the bezel and the gemstone. The Romans had a number of different adhesives they used, some of the most common being resin and bitumen. However the ring was not recovered with the gemstone intact, so we mounted a large, natural, antique, handcrafted orange agate semi-precious gemstone using jeweler’s epoxy. The gemstone is quite secure, but if you at time in the future wished to remove it, this could easily be accomplished using some thinner or nail polish remover. The gemstone was produced in the 19th century by Russian artisans famed for centuries for the elaborate jewelry produced using precious and semi-precious gemstones mined in the fabled Southern Ural Mountains of Siberia. Agate has been popularly used through recorded history for the production of jewelry, beads, and amulets due to the vibrant rainbow of colors agate naturally occurs in. Agate amulets produced by Stone Age man in France has been discovered, dating the known use of agate back to approximately 20,000 B.C. Agate was widely used and admired by the ancient Romans, Greeks, Phoenicians, Persians, Egyptians, etc. Though the gemstone is not as old as the ring, given the fact that the Romans made wide use of agate in their jewelry, it seemed an appropriate gemstone to enhance this ring’s beauty. Fate has been kind, and the ring has been preserved in wonderful condition. Of course the ring does evidence some moderately heavy all-over wear. However this should not be a source for disappointment. You must keep in mind that the ring was produced by an artisan and sold to a patron or consumer with the idea that the ring would be enjoyed and worn by the purchaser. And without any regard to twenty-first century posterity, that precisely what happened! The original Roman owner of this ring wore it, enjoyed it, and probably never could have in his most delusional moment ever dreamed that almost 100 generations later the ring would still exist. It should likewise come as no surprise that upon close inspection are detected the telltale signs that the ring spent thousands of years in the soil. Porosity is fine surface pitting (oxidation, corrosion) caused by extended burial in caustic soil. Many small ancient metal artifacts such as this are extensively disfigured and suffer substantial degradation as a consequence of the ordeal of being buried for millennia. It is not at all unusual to find metal artifacts decomposed to the point where they are not much more substantial than discolored patterns in the soil. Actually most smaller ancient artifacts such as this are so badly oxidized that oftentimes all that is left is a green (bronze) or red (iron) stain in the soil, or an artifact which crumbles in your hand. However this specimen is not so afflicted, and certainly has not been disfigured. To the inspection of the casual admirer, it simply looks like an ancient ring, nicely surfaced, no immediately discernible blemishes. You have to look very closely to detect the telltale signs indicating the ring was buried for millennia. This ring spent almost 2,000 years buried, yet by good fortune there is only a very light degree of porosity evidenced. It happened to come to rest in very gentle soil conditions. Consequentially, the integrity of the artifact remains undiminished, and despite the wear, the rings remains quite handsome, and entirely wearable. Unlike contemporary one-piece rings (and many of the rings constructed in the later centuries of the Roman Empire), the construction style used for this specimen is of the more traditional, archaic style, where the bezel and band are produced separately and then later attached. Like many rings of more archaic construction, it is of very solid workmanship. The ring’s integrity is otherwise undiminished by the passage of time, and it has been professionally conserved. There are no cracks, chips, or other impairments to its integrity notwithstanding the tiny perforations described. The ring is quite sturdy, beautifully toned with the dark brown color so characteristic of ancient bronze, and quite handsome. The Romans were of course very fond of ornate personal jewelry including bracelets worn both on the forearm and upper arm, brooches, pendants, hair pins, earrings intricate fibulae and belt buckles, and of course, rings. This is an exceptional piece of Roman jewelry, a very handsome artifact, and eminently wearable. Aside from being significant to the history of ancient jewelry, it is also an evocative relic of one of the world’s greatest civilizations and than ancient world’s most significant military machine; the glory and light which was known as the “Roman Empire”. ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND: HISTORY OF ROMAN PANNONIA: Pannonia was an ancient province of the Roman Empire bounded north and east by the Danube, bordering Noricum and upper Italy to the west, and Dalmatia and upper Moesia to the south. Pannonia occupied lands which are now parts of present-day western Hungary, eastern Austria, northern Croatia, and what was formerly Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia (north-western Serbia, Slovenia, western Slovakia, as well as northern Bosnia and Herzegovina). The name “Pannonia” comes from the Illyrian word for swamp. The first known inhabitants Pannonia were the Pannonii, a group of Indo-European tribes related to the Illyrians. From Roman accounts historians know that from the fourth century BC onward Pannonia was invaded by various Celtic tribes. Little more of the history of Pannonia is known up until their conflict with the Romans when under Octavius Augustus. The Pannonii, who had been allied with the Dalmatians, were subdued by the Romans in 9 BC, and were incorporated into the Roman Province of Illyricum, which extended as far as the Danube. However in AD 6, the Pannonians, allied with the Dalmatians and other Illyrian tribes, engaged in the so-called Great Illyrian Revolt. The rebellion was crushed by by forces of the Roman Emperors Tiberius and Germanicus in AD 9, and the province of Illyricum was dissolved. Illyricum was divided between the new provinces of Pannonia in the north and Dalmatia in the south. With dangerous barbarian tribes (the Quadi and Marcomanni) on the borders, numerous fortresses were built on the bank of the Danube and seven Roman legions were stationed near provincial frontiers. Sometime between the First and Second Dacian Wars (likely between 102 and 107 AD the Emperor Trajan divided Pannonia west and east, into Pannonia Superior (west) and Pannonia Inferior. The two provinces were sometimes collectively referred to by the Romans as “Pannoniae” (“the Pannonias”). Eventually the frontier on the Danube was protected by the establishment of the two colonies Aelia Mursia and Aelia Aquincum by Emperor Hadrian. Emperor Diocletian divided Pannonia into four provinces, and moved a portion (part of present-day Slovenia) out of Pannonia and it was incorporated into Noricum. In 324 AD the Emperor Constantine I extended the borders of Roman Pannonia to the east, annexing the plains of what is now eastern Hungary, northern Serbia and western Romania. In the fourth and fifth century Pannonia was enlarged to include the former provinces of Dalmatia, Noricum Mediterraneum and Noricum Ripensis. While a Roman Province Pannonia was fairly productive, especially after the great forests had been cleared during the reigns of the Roman Emperors Probus and Galerius. Much timber was harvested, as were oats and barley, from which the inhabitants brewed a beer named “sabaea”. Pannonia was also famous for its breed of hunting dogs. Although no mention is made of its mineral wealth by the ancients, and it is believed that mines produced iron and silver. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Pannonia was ceded to the Huns by the Roman Emperor Theodosius II during the middle of the fifth century. After the death of Attila, Pannonia passed into the hands of the Ostrogoths for a century (into the sixth century), and then into the control of the Lombards (from about 530 to 568 AD). The Eastern Roman Empire controlled it for a very short as the Byzantine province of Pannonia, but it was only a small south-eastern part of historical Pannonia. In the late sixth century Pannonia was then invaded by the Avars, then shortly thereafter was controlled by the Slavs, and finally conquered by the Franks. During the eight and ninth century the Slavs controlled what became known as “Lower Pannonia”, the Franks “Upper Pannonia”. HISTORY OF BRONZE: Bronze is the name given to a wide range of alloys of copper, typically mixed in ancient times with zinc, tin, lead, or arsenic. The discovery of bronze enabled people to create metal objects which were better than previously possible. Tools, weapons, armor, and building materials made of bronze were harder and more durable than their stone and copper predecessors from the “Chalcolithic” (the “Copper Age”), i.e., about 7000-3500 B.C., and the Neolithic (“New Stone Age”), i.e. about 12000 to 7000 B.C.). Of particular significance were bronze agricultural implements, tools for cutting stone, and weapons. Culturally significant was bronze statuary, particularly that of the Romans and Greeks. The ancient Greeks and Romans had a long history of making statuary in bronze. Literally thousands of images of gods and heroes, victorious athletes, statesmen, and philosophers filled temples and sanctuaries, and stood in the public areas of major cities. In fact, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia and the Colossus of Rhodes are two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Initially bronze was made out of copper and arsenic. It was only later that tin was used, becoming (except in ancient Egypt) the sole type of bronze in the late 3rd millennium B.C. Tin-alloyed bronze was superior to arsenic-alloyed bronze in that the alloying process itself could more easily be controlled, the alloy was stronger and easier to cast, and unlike arsenic, tin is not toxic. Toxicity was a major factor in the production of arsenic bronze. Repeated exposure to arsenic fumes ultimately led to nerve damage in the limbs. Evidence of the long agony of Bronze Age metalsmiths came down to the ancient Greeks and Romans in the form of legend, as the Greek and Roman gods of metalsmiths, Greek Hephaestus and Roman Vulcan, were both lame. In practice historical bronze alloys are highly variable in composition, as most metalworkers probably used whatever scrap was to hand. In one instance of ancient bronze from Britain, analysis showed the bronze to contain a mixture of copper, zinc, tin, lead, nickel, iron, antimony, arsenic, and silver.Other advantages of bronze over iron include that bronze better resists corrosion, particularly seawater corrosion; bronze resists metal fatigue better than iron; and bronze is a better heat conductor (and thus is better suited for cooking vessels). However ancient bronze, unless conserved properly, is susceptible to “bronze disease”, wherein hydrochloric or hydrosulfuric acid is formed due to impurities (cuprous chloride or sulfur) found within the ancient bronze. Traditionally archaeology has maintained that the earliest bronze was produced by the Maikop, a proto-Indo-European, proto-Celtic culture of Caucasus prehistory around 3500 B.C. Recent evidence however suggests that the smelting of bronze might be as much as several thousand years older (bronze artifacts dating from about 4500 B.C. have been unearthed in Thailand). Shortly after the emergence of bronze technology in the Caucasus region, bronze technology emerged in ancient Mesopotamia (Sumer), Egypt, the Indus Valley Civilization of Northern India, the Aegean, the Caspian Steppes (Ukraine), the Southern Russia/Central Mongolia Region (the Altai Mountains), the Levant (Eastern Mediterranean), Anatolia (Turkey) and the Iranian Plateau. By the late third millennium B.C. many Western European Bronze Age Cultures had emerged. Some of the more notable were the Celtic cultures of Middle Europe stretching from Hungary to Poland and Germany, including the Urnfield, Lusatian, and (Iron Age Transitional) Hallstatt Cultures. The Shang in ancient China also developed a significant Bronze Age culture, noted for large bronze burial urns. The ancient Chinese were the first to cast bronze (using the “lost wax” technique) about 2200 B.C. Prior to that time all bronze items were forged. Though weapons and utilitarian items were produced in great numbers, the production of bronze in ancient China was especially noteworthy for ornamented ritualistic/religious vessels (urns, wine vessels, water pots, food containers, and musical instruments), many of immense size. Britain’s Bronze Age cultures included the Beaker, Wessex, Deverl, and Rimbury. Copper and tin ores are rarely found together, so the production of bronze has always involved trade. Cornwall was one of the most significant sources of tin not only for Britain, but exported throughout the Mediterranean. Other significant suppliers of tine were the Taurus Mountains of Anatolia (Turkey), as well as Spain. Enormous amounts of copper was produced from the Great Orme mine in North Wales, the island of Cyprus, the European Alps, and from the Sinai Peninsula and other nearby sites in the Levant. Though much of the raw minerals may have come from Britain, Spain, Anatolia, and the Sinai, it was the Aegean world which controlled the trade in bronze. The great seafaring Minoan Empire (about 2700 to 1450 B.C.) appears to have controlled, coordinated, and defended the trade. Tin and charcoal were imported into Cyprus, where locally mined copper was mined and alloyed with the tin from Britain. Indicative of the seafaring trade in the Eastern Mediterranean, a shipwreck from about 1300 B.C. off the Turkish coast revealed a ship carrying a ton of copper ingots, several dozen small tin ingots, new bronze tools, scrap metal, and a blacksmith's forge and tools (along with luxury trade goods from Africa). It appears that the Bronze Age collapsed with the fall of Minoan Empire, to be replaced by a Dark Age and the eventual rise of the Iron Age Myceneans (on mainland Greece). Evidence suggests that the precipitating event might have been the eruption of Thera (Santorini) and the ensuing tsunami, which was only about 40 miles north of Crete, the capital of the Minoan empire. Some archaeologists argue that it was Santorini itself which was the capitol city of the Minoan World. However where Crete or Santorini, it is known that the bread-basket of the Minoan trading empire, the area north of the Black Sea lost population, and thereafter many Minoan colony/client-states lost large populations to extreme famines or pestilence. Inasmuch as the Minoans were the principals of the tin/copper shipping network throughout the Mediterranean, the Bronze Age trade network is believed to have failed. The end of the Bronze Age and the rise of the Iron Age is normally associated with the disturbances created by large population disruptions in the 12th century B.C. The end of the Bronze Age saw the emergence of new technologies and civilizations which included the large-scale production of iron (and limited scale production of steel). Although iron was in many respects much inferior to bronze (and steel was inefficiently produced in very limited quantities), iron had the advantage that it could be produced using local resources during the dark ages that followed the Minoan collapse, and was very inexpensive when compared to the cost of producing bronze. Bronze was still a superior metal, resisting both corrosion and metal fatigue better than iron. And bronze was still used during the Iron Age, but for many purposes the weaker iron was sufficiently strong to serve in its place. As an example, Roman officers were equipped with bronze swords while foot soldiers had to make do with iron blades. Pliny the Elder, the famous first century Roman historian and naturalist, wrote about the reuse of scrap bronze and copper in Roman foundries, noting that the metals were recast as armor, weapons or articles for personal use, such as bronze mirrors. The melting and recasting foundries were located at the Italian port city of Brindisi. Located on the Adriatic coast, Brindisi was the terminus of the great Appian Way, the Roman road constructed to facilitate trade and military access throughout the Italian part of the Roman Empire. The city was the gateway for Roman penetration into the eastern parts of her empire (Greece, the Eastern Mediterranean, the Black Sea Region, the Danubian Provinces, and eventually Mesopotamia). HISTORY OF AGATE: Agate is named after its ancient source, the Achates River in Sicily, now known as the Drillo River, which remains a major source of this gemstone. The gemstone was so named by the 4th century B.C. ancient Greek Philosopher/Naturalist Theophrastus, who “discovered” the stone along the shore line of the river (there’s a dissenting opinion that the word agate is derived from the Greek word "agateес" – meaning happy). The Greeks used agate for making jewelry and beads. Ancient Greek mariners wore amulets of agate to protect against the perils of the sea. The Ancient Greeks also used agate to relieve stomach pains and diarrhea. However agate had already been used for by man for decorative and amuletic purposes for thousands of years prior to the ancient Greeks, first by Stone Age man in France around 25,000 B.C. Archaeological discoveries demonstrate that the ancient Egyptians used agate well prior to 3,000 B.C. for talismans, amulets, seals, rings and vessels. In the Ptolemaic Period (fourth century B.C. to first century A.D.) the ancient Egyptians carved agate carved into scarabs. The ancient Egyptians believed that gray agate when worn around the neck would protect against and heal stiffness of the neck. Agate was also extremely popular for use in jewelry in ancient Sumer, and agate was amongst the archaeological artifacts excavated at the Knossos site on Crete evidencing its use by the Bronze Age Minoan culture (about 1,800 B.C.). Persian magicians were believed to possess the power to divert storms through the use of agate talismans. Ancient Persians also believed that agate would confer eloquence upon the wearer. The ancient Persians (as well as other ancient Near Eastern cultures) also used agate as an antidote to fevers by placing the agate in the mouth. It was said to relieve thirst and reduce body temperature. The ancient Babylonians used red agate to treat insect bites and stings, green agate to treat eye infections, and black agate (onyx) to protect women from disease. Agate talismans were worn in the Ancient Middle East to keep the blood healthy. In ancient Asia, agates were used by seers and magicians to see into the future. Agate was highly valued as a talisman or amulet in many other ancient cultures. It was said to quench thirst and protect from fevers. Another widespread belief in the ancient world was that wearing agate as a talisman would render the wearer invisible, thereby protecting the wearer from danger. Athletes throughout the ancient world wore agate amulets with the belief that agate would give them extra energy during competition and help them recover their strength afterwards. Agate was also worn by various ancient cultures as protection against drowning, falling, mischievous fairies and poison, and was also believed an effective talisman to protect young children from harm. Farmers in many ancient civilizations (including the Romans) wore agate talismans to ensure a good harvest. The Romans, as well as the ancient Greeks, made extensive use of agate in their production of cameos and intaglio seals (as in signet rings). Moss agate, according to the Romans, had a divine power and an agate stone was used to grind ingredients for lotions and other ointments on, believing it would improve one's eyesight and/or disposition. A famous collection of four thousand agate bowls that was accumulated by Mithradates, king of Pontus (Hellenic Turkey)Hellenic Turkey) is illustrative of the high value the ancient world had for agate. Agate bowls were also popular in the Byzantine Empire. Collecting agate bowls became common among European royalty during the Renaissance and many museums in Europe, including the Louvre, have spectacular examples. Early Celts in Britain used the gem to prevent skin disease, and in Celtic mythology orange agate was believed to be a powerful protection against Dragons. The Vikings and Saxons used agate to find lost items by ax and stone, a method of divination known as “axinomancy”. A double-headed ax would be made red-hot and then the shaft pushed into a hole. A round agate pebble would then be placed on the upright ax head. If the pebble stayed on top of the ax, the questioner had to look elsewhere for the lost item. If the pebble fell to the ground, the questioner had to follow the direction of the rolling stone to find the missing item. During the Roman wars with the Gauls (in the first century B.C.), agate deposits were discovered along the Nahe river (a tributary to the Rhine) in Germany. The gem-cutting facilities set up there by the Romans survived until present day and, although the deposits are now depleted, the city of Idar-Oberstein on the Nahe river is still the major lapidary center of Europe. Particularly from the 16th century onwards, huge quantities of cameos were cut from agate where layers of different colors occurred within the stone. The background material was cut away, leaving the cameo design in relief. In the Middle Ages and through to the Renaissance agate was worn as a talisman in the belief it could prevent harm from thunder and lightening, sorcery, poison, drunkenness and demonic possession. Medieval shamans and sorcerers believed that agate allow them to divine the truth. Agate was also believed to remove curses and spells, and to help eliminate bad luck. In Renaissance Europe, agate was believed to have a calming effect during times of stress and to give the wearer strength and courage. Renaissance-era artists and writers wore agate in the belief it would enhance creativity. Wearing agate was also believed to improve vitality and physical strength, relieve headache pain, ensure marital and romantic fidelity, stimulate the intellect, and suppress anger. Agate was prized in Czarist Russia as a stone of long life, good health and prosperity. Agate is a variety of chalcedony quartz composed of colorful microscopic crystals of quartz occurring in bands of varying color and transparency. Most agates start as gas bubble cavities in eruptive rocks or ancient lava. Silica laden water seeps into the bubbles and coagulates to a silica gel, eventually crystallizing as quartz. Agate is found in a wide variety of patterns and beautiful colors, and can be transparent to opaque. Many fossils (such as petrified wood, petrified coral, and even dinosaur bones) are agatized material where the original organic substance has been replaced by agate while retaining the original structure. The primary sources of agate today are Brazil, Uruguay, China, India, Madagascar, Mexico, the Ural Mountains of Russia, and the USA. Throughout the history of the ancient world, gemstones were believed capable of curing illness, possessed of valuable metaphysical properties, and to provide protection. Found in Egypt dated 1500 B. C., the "Papyrus Ebers" offered one of most complete therapeutic manuscripts containing prescriptions using gemstones and minerals. Gemstones were not only valued for their medicinal and protective properties, but also for educational and spiritual enhancement. In the ancient world it was believed that wearing agate made a person agreeable, happy, and cautious yet brave. Ancient cultures used it as a talisman as it was believed to bestow on the wearer protection against all dangers. White agate was used as a cure for insomnia and guaranteed pleasant dreams. Agate was also believed to improve memory and concentration, increase stamina and encourage honesty, as well as aiding wearers to remain calm and focused. Contemporary practitioners attribute agate with fostering the ability to discover one's natural talents, enhancing analytical ability, and improving perceptiveness. It is believed to create a healthy balance between the physical, emotional and spiritual state of the wearer. Agate is reported to be an aid in overcoming fears and loneliness. It helps one view themselves with more clarity and view the world with a broader perspective. It is claimed to eliminate and cleanse “negative energies” from the body, and is thought to stimulate fertility and to be effective in treating bone marrow ailments and allergies. Due to the association with precision, agates are touted as useful talismans for accountants and bankers. And as in the distant past, agate is still considered an effective talisman which will increase wealth, good luck, long life, courage and strength; and to help protect and heal the wearer. Ancient Rome: One of the greatest civilizations of recorded history was the ancient Roman Empire. The Roman civilization, in relative terms the greatest military power in the history of the world, was founded in the 8th century (B.C.) on seven hills alongside Italy’s Tiber River. By the 4th Century (B.C.) the Romans were the dominant power on the Italian Peninsula, having defeated the Etruscans, Celts, Latins, and Greek Italian colonies. In the 3rd Century (B.C.) the Romans conquered Sicily, and in the following century defeated Carthage, and controlled Greece. Throughout the remainder of the 2nd Century (B.C.) the Roman Empire continued its gradual conquest of the Hellenistic (Greek Colonial) World by conquering Syria and Macedonia; and finally came to control Egypt and much of the Near East and Levant (Holy Land) in the 1st Century (B.C.). The pinnacle of Roman power was achieved in the 1st Century (A.D.) as Rome conquered much of Britain and Western Europe. At its peak, the Roman Empire stretched from Britain in the West, throughout most of Western, Central, and Eastern Europe, and into Asia Minor. For a brief time, the era of “Pax Romana”, a time of peace and consolidation reigned. Civilian emperors were the rule, and the culture flourished with a great deal of liberty enjoyed by the average Roman Citizen. However within 200 years the Roman Empire was in a state of steady decay, attacked by Germans, Goths, and Persians. The decline was temporarily halted by third century Emperor Diocletian. In the 4th Century (A.D.) the Roman Empire was split between East and West. The Great Emperor Constantine again managed to temporarily arrest the decay of the Empire, but within a hundred years after his death the Persians captured Mesopotamia, Vandals infiltrated Gaul and Spain, and the Goths even sacked Rome itself. Most historians date the end of the Western Roman Empire to 476 (A.D.) when Emperor Romulus Augustus was deposed. However the Eastern Roman Empire (The Byzantine Empire) survived until the fall of Constantinople in 1453 A.D. In the ancient world valuables such as coins and jewelry were commonly buried for safekeeping, and inevitably the owners would succumb to one of the many perils of the ancient world. Oftentimes the survivors of these individuals did not know where the valuables had been buried, and today, thousands of years later (occasionally massive) caches of coins and rings are still commonly uncovered throughout Europe and Asia Minor. Throughout history these treasures have been inadvertently discovered by farmers in their fields, uncovered by erosion, and the target of unsystematic searches by treasure seekers. With the introduction of metal detectors and other modern technologies to Eastern Europe in the past three or four decades, an amazing number of new finds are seeing the light of day thousands of years after they were originally hidden by their past owners. And with the liberalization of post-Soviet Eastern Europe in the 1990’s, significant new sources opened eager to share these ancient treasures. [AncientGifts]. Roman History: According to legend, Ancient Rome was founded by the two brothers, and demi-gods, Romulus and Remus, on 21 April 753 B.C. The legend claims that, in an argument over who would rule the city (or, in another version, where the city would be located) Romulus killed Remus and named the city after himself. This story of the founding of Rome is the best known but it is not the only one. Other legends claim the city was named after a woman, Roma, who traveled with Aeneas and the other survivors from Troy after that city fell. Upon landing on the banks of the Tiber River, Roma and the other women objected when the men wanted to move on. She led the women in the burning of the Trojan ships and so effectively stranded the Trojan survivors at the site which would eventually become Rome. Aeneas of Troy is featured in this legend and also, famously, in Virgil's Aeneid, as a founder of Rome and the ancestor of Romulus and Remus, thus linking Rome with the grandeur and might which was once Troy. Still other theories concerning the name of the famous city suggest it came from Rumon, the ancient name for the Tiber River, and was simply a place-name given to the small trading centre established on its banks or that the name derived from an Etruscan word which could have designated one of their settlements. Originally a small town on the banks of the Tiber, Rome grew in size and strength, early on, through trade. The location of the city provided merchants with an easily navigable waterway on which to traffic their goods. The city was ruled by seven kings, from Romulus to Tarquin, as it grew in size and power. Greek culture and civilization, which came to Rome via Greek colonies to the south, provided the early Romans with a model on which to build their own culture. From the Greeks they borrowed literacy and religion as well as the fundamentals of architecture. The Etruscans, to the north, provided a model for trade and urban luxury. Etruria was also well situated for trade and the early Romans either learned the skills of trade from Etruscan example or were taught directly by the Etruscans who made incursions into the area around Rome sometime between 650 and 600 B.C. (although their influence was felt much earlier). The extent of the role the Etruscans played in the development of Roman culture and society is debated but there seems little doubt they had a significant impact at an early stage. From the start, the Romans showed a talent for borrowing and improving upon the skills and concepts of other cultures. The Kingdom of Rome grew rapidly from a trading town to a prosperous city between the 8th and 6th centuries B.C. When the last of the seven kings of Rome, Tarquin the Proud, was deposed in 509 B.C., his rival for power, Lucius Junius Brutus, reformed the system of government and established the Roman Republic. Though Rome owed its prosperity to trade in the early years, it was war which would make the city a powerful force in the ancient world. The wars with the North African city of Carthage (known as the Punic Wars, 264-146 B.C.) consolidated Rome's power and helped the city grow in wealth and prestige. Rome and Carthage were rivals in trade in the Western Mediterranean and, with Carthage defeated, Rome held almost absolute dominance over the region; though there were still incursions by pirates which prevented complete Roman control of the sea. As the Republic of Rome grew in power and prestige, the city of Rome began to suffer from the effects of corruption, greed and the over-reliance on foreign slave labor. Gangs of unemployed Romans, put out of work by the influx of slaves brought in through territorial conquests, hired themselves out as thugs to do the bidding of whatever wealthy Senator would pay them. The wealthy elite of the city, the Patricians, became ever richer at the expense of the working lower class, the Plebeians. In the 2nd century B.C., the Gracchi brothers, Tiberius and Gaius, two Roman tribunes, led a movement for land reform and political reform in general. Though the brothers were both killed in this cause, their efforts did spur legislative reforms and the rampant corruption of the Senate was curtailed (or, at least, the Senators became more discreet in their corrupt activities). By the time of the First Triumvirate, both the city and the Republic of Rome were in full flourish. Even so, Rome found itself divided across class lines. The ruling class called themselves Optimates (the best men) while the lower classes, or those who sympathized with them, were known as the Populares (the people). These names were applied simply to those who held a certain political ideology; they were not strict political parties nor were all of the ruling class Optimates nor all of the lower classes Populares. In general, the Optimates held with traditional political and social values which favored the power of the Senate of Rome and the prestige and superiority of the ruling class. The Populares, again generally speaking, favored reform and democratization of the Roman Republic. These opposing ideologies would famously clash in the form of three men who would, unwittingly, bring about the end of the Roman Republic. Marcus Licinius Crassus and his political rival, Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (Pompey the Great) joined with another, younger, politician, Gaius Julius Caesar, to form what modern historians call the First Triumvirate of Rome (though the Romans of the time never used that term, nor did the three men who comprised the triumvirate). Crassus and Pompey both held the Optimate political line while Caesar was a Populare. The three men were equally ambitious and, vying for power, were able to keep each other in check while helping to make Rome prosper. Crassus was the richest man in Rome and was corrupt to the point of forcing wealthy citizens to pay him `safety' money. If the citizen paid, Crassus would not burn down that person's house but, if no money was forthcoming, the fire would be lighted and Crassus would then charge a fee to send men to put the fire out. Although the motive behind the origin of these fire brigades was far from noble, Crassus did effectively create the first fire department which would, later, prove of great value to the city. Both Pompey and Caesar were great generals who, through their respective conquests, made Rome wealthy. Though the richest man in Rome (and, it has been argued, the richest in all of Roman history) Crassus longed for the same respect people accorded Pompey and Caesar for their military successes. In 53 B.C. he lead a sizeable force against the Parthians at Carrhae, in modern day Turkey, where he was killed when truce negotiations broke down. With Crassus gone, the First Triumvirate disintegrated and Pompey and Caesar declared war on each other. Pompey tried to eliminate his rival through legal means and had the Senate order Caesar to Rome to stand trial on assorted charges. Instead of returning to the city in humility to face these charges, Caesar crossed the Rubicon River with his army in 49 B.C. and entered Rome at the head of it. He refused to answer the charges and directed his focus toward eliminating Pompey as a rival. Pompey and Caesar met in battle at Pharsalus in Greece in 48 B.C. where Caesar's numerically inferior force defeated Pompey's greater one. Pompey himself fled to Egypt, expecting to find sanctuary there, but was assassinated upon his arrival. News of Caesar's great victory against overwhelming numbers at Pharsalus had spread quickly and many former friends and allies of Pompey swiftly sided with Caesar, believing he was favored by the gods. Julius Caesar was now the most powerful man in Rome. He effectively ended the period of the Republic by having the Senate proclaim him dictator. His popularity among the people was enormous and his efforts to create a strong and stable central government meant increased prosperity for the city of Rome. He was assassinated by a group of Roman Senators in 44 B.C., however, precisely because of these achievements. The conspirators, Brutus and Cassius among them, seemed to fear that Caesar was becoming too powerful and that he might eventually abolish the Senate. Following his death, his right-hand man, and cousin, Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony) joined forces with Caesar's nephew and heir, Gaius Octavius Thurinus (Octavian) and Caesar's friend, Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, to defeat the forces of Brutus and Cassius at the Battle of Phillippi in 42 B.C. Octavian, Antony and Lepidus formed the Second Triumvirate of Rome but, as with the first, these men were also equally ambitious. Lepidus was effectively neutralized when Antony and Octavian agreed that he should have Hispania and Africa to rule over and thereby kept him from any power play in Rome. It was agreed that Octavian would rule Roman lands in the west and Antony in the east. Antony's involvement with the Egyptian queen Cleopatra VII, however, upset the balance Octavian had hoped to maintain and the two went to war. Antony and Cleopatra's combined forces were defeated at the Battle of Actium in 31 B.C. and both later took their own lives. Octavian emerged as the sole power in Rome. In 27 B.C. he was granted extraordinary powers by the Senate and took the name of Augustus, the first Emperor of Rome. Historians are in agreement that this is the point at which the history of Rome ends and the history of the Roman Empire begins. History of Roman Republic: In the late 6th century B.C., the small city-state of Rome overthrew the shackles of monarchy and created a republican government that, in theory if not always in practice, represented the wishes of its citizens. From this basis the city would go on to conquer all of the Italian peninsula and large parts of the Mediterranean world and beyond. The Republic and its institutions of government would endure for five centuries, until, wrecked by civil wars, it would transform into a Principate ruled by emperors. Even then many of the political bodies, notably the Senate, created in the Republican period would endure, albeit with a reduction in power. The years prior to the rise of the Republic are lost to myth and legend. No contemporary written history of this period has survived. Although much of this history had been lost, the Roman historian Livy (59 B.C. – 17 A.D.) was still able to write a remarkable History of Rome - 142 volumes - recounting the years of the monarchy through the fall of the Republic. Much of his history, however, especially the early years, was based purely on myth and oral accounts. Contrary to some interpretations, the fall of the monarchy and birth of the republic did not happen overnight. Some even claim it was far from bloodless. Historian Mary Beard in her SPQR wrote that the transformation from monarchy to republic was “borne over a period of decades, if not, centuries.” Prior to the overthrow of the last king, Tarquinius Superbus or Tarquin the Proud in 510 B.C., the history of the city is mired in stories of valor and war. Even the founding of the city is mostly legend and many people have preferred the myth over fact anyway. For years Rome had admired the Hellenistic culture of the Greeks, and so it easily embraced the story of Aeneas and the founding of Rome as penned by Roman author Virgil in his heroic saga The Aeneid. This story gave the Romans a link to an ancient, albeit Greek, culture. This mythical tale is about Aeneas and his followers who, with the assistance of the goddess Venus, escaped the city of Troy as it fell to the Greeks in the Trojan War. Jupiter’s wife Juno constantly interfered with the story's hero Aeneas throughout the tale. After a brief stay in Carthage, Aeneas eventually made his way to Italy and Latium, finally fulfilling his destiny. His descendants were the twins Romulus and Remus - the illegitimate sons of Mars, the god of war, and the princess Rhea Silvia, the daughter of the true king of Alba Longa. Rescued from drowning by a she-wolf and raised by a shepherd, Romulus eventually defeated his brother in battle and founded the city of Rome, becoming its first king. So the legend goes. After Tarquin’s exit, Rome suffered from both external and internal conflict. Much of the 5th century B.C. was spent struggling, not thriving. From 510 B.C. to 275 B.C., while the government grappled with a number of internal political issues, the city grew to become the prevailing power over the entire Italian peninsula. From the Battle of Regallus (496 B.C.), where Rome was victorious over the Latins, to the Pyrrhic Wars (280 – 275 B.C.) against Pyrrhus of Epirus, Rome emerged as a dominant, warring superpower in the west. Through this expansion, the social and political structure of the Republic gradually evolved. From this simple beginning, the city would create a new government, a government that would one day dominate an area from the North Sea southward through Gaul and Germania, westward to Hispania, and eastward to Greece, Syria and North Africa. The great Mediterranean became a Roman lake. These lands would remain under the control of Rome throughout the Republic and well into the formative years of the Roman Empire. However, before it could become this dominant military force, the city had to have a stable government, and it was paramount that they avoid the possibility of one individual seizing control. In the end they would create a system exhibiting a true balance of power. Initially, after the fall of the monarchy, the Republic fell under the control of the great families - the patricians, coming from the word patres or fathers. Only these great families could hold political or religious offices. The remaining citizens or plebeians had no political authority although many of them were as wealthy as the patricians. However, much to the dismay of the patricians, this arrangement could not and would not last. Tensions between the two classes continued to grow, especially since the poorer residents of the city provided the bulk of the army. They asked themselves why they should fight in a war if all of the profits go to the wealthy. Finally, in 494 B.C. the plebeians went on strike, gathering outside Rome and refusing to move until they were granted representation; this was the famed Conflict of Orders or the First Succession of the Plebs. The strike worked, and the plebeians would be rewarded with an assembly of their own - the Concilium Plebis or Council of the Plebs. Although the government of Rome could never be considered a true democracy, it did provide many of its citizens (women excluded) with a say in how their city was ruled. Through their rebellion, the plebeians had entered into a system where power lay in a number of magistrates (the cursus honorum) and various assemblies. This executive power or imperium resided in two consuls. Elected by the Comitia Centuriata, a consul ruled for only one year, presiding over the Senate, proposing laws, and commanding the armies. Uniquely, each consul could veto the decision of the other. After his term was completed, he could become a pro-consul, governing one of the republic’s many territories, which was an appointment that could make him quite wealthy. There were several lesser magistrates: a praetor (the only other official with imperium power) who served as a judicial officer with civic and provincial jurisdiction, a quaestor who functioned as the financial administrator, and the aedile who supervised urban maintenance such as roads, water and food supplies, and the annual games and festivals. Lastly, there was the highly coveted position of censor, who held office for only 18 months. Elected every five years, he was the census taker, reviewing the list of citizens and their property. He could even remove members of the Senate for improper behavior. There was, however, one final position - the unique office of dictator. He was granted complete authority and was only named in times of emergency, usually serving for only six months. The most famous one, of course, was Julius Caesar; who was named dictator for life. Aside from the magistrates there were also a number of assemblies. These assemblies were the voice of the people (male citizens only), thereby allowing for the opinions of some to be heard. Foremost of all the assemblies was the Roman Senate (a remnant of the old monarchy). Although unpaid, Senators served for life unless they were removed by a censor for public or private misconduct. While this body had no true legislative power, serving only as advisors to the consul and later the emperor, they still wielded considerable authority. They could propose laws as well as oversee foreign policy, civic administration, and finances. Power to enact laws, however, was given to a number of popular assemblies. All of the Senate’s proposals had to be approved by either of two popular assemblies: the Comitia Centuriata, who not only enacted laws but also elected consuls and declared war, and the Concilium Plebis, who conveyed the wishes of the plebeians via their elected tribunes. These assemblies were divided into blocks and each of these blocks voted as a unit. Aside from these two major legislative bodies, there were also a number of smaller tribal assemblies. The Concilium Plebis came into existence as a result of the Conflict of Orders - a conflict between the plebeians and patricians for political power. In the Concilium Plebis, aside from passing laws pertinent to the wishes of the plebeians, the members elected a number of tribunes who spoke on their behalf. Although this “Council of the Plebs” initially gave the plebeians some voice in government, it did not prove to be sufficient. In 450 B.C. the Twelve Tables were enacted in order to appease a number of plebian concerns. It became the first recorded Roman law code. The Tables tackled domestic problems with an emphasis on both family life and private property. For instance, plebeians were not only prohibited from imprisonment for debt but also granted the right to appeal a magistrate’s decision. Later, plebeians were even allowed to marry patricians and become consuls. Over time the rights of the plebeians continued to increase. In 287 B.C. the Lex Hortensia declared that all laws passed by the Concilium Plebis were binding to both plebeians and patricians. This unique government allowed the Republic to grow far beyond the city’s walls. Victory in the three Punic Wars (264 – 146 B.C.) waged against Carthage was the first step of Rome growing beyond the confines of the peninsula. After years of war and the embarrassment of defeat at the hands of Hannibal, the Senate finally followed the advice of the outspoken Cato the Elder who said “Carthago delenda est!” or “Carthage must be destroyed!” Rome’s destruction of the city after the Battle of Zama in 146 B.C. and the defeat of the Greeks in the four Macedonian Wars established the Republic as a true Mediterranean power. The submission of the Greeks brought the rich Hellenistic culture to Rome, that is its art, philosophy and literature. Unfortunately, despite the growth of the Republic, the Roman government was never meant to run an empire. According to historian Tom Holland in his Rubicon, the Republic always seemed to be on the brink of political collapse. The old agrarian economy could not and would not be successfully transferred and only further broadened the gap between the rich and poor. Rome, however, was more than just a warrior state. At home Romans believed in the importance of the family and the value of religion. They also believed that citizenship or civitas defined what it meant to be truly civilized. This concept of citizenship would soon be put to the test when the Roman territories began to challenge Roman authority. However, this constant state of war had not only made the Republic wealthy but it also helped mold its society. After the Macedonian Wars, the influence of the Greeks affected both Roman culture and religion. Under this Greek influence, the traditional Roman gods transformed. In Rome an individual’s personal expression of belief was unimportant, only a strict adherence to a rigid set of rituals, avoiding the dangers of religious fervor. Temples honoring these gods would be built throughout the empire. Elsewhere in Rome the division of the classes could best be seen within the city walls in the tenements. Rome was a refuge to many people who left the surrounding towns and farms seeking a better way of life. However, an unfulfilled promise of jobs forced many people to live in the poorer parts of the city. The jobs they sought were often not there, resulting in an epidemic of homeless inhabitants. While many of the wealthier citizens resided on Palatine Hill, others lived in ramshackle apartments that were over-crowded and extremely dangerous - many lived in constant fear of fire and collapse. Although the lower floors of these buildings contained shops and more suitable housing, the upper floors were for the poorer residents, there was no access for natural light, no running water, and no toilets. The streets were poorly lit and since there was no police force, crime was rampant. Refuse, even human waste, was routinely dumped onto the streets, not only causing a terrible stench but served as a breeding ground for disease. All of this added to an already disgruntled populace. This continuing struggle between the have and have nots would remain until the Republic finally collapsed. However, there were those in power who tried to find a solution to the existing problems. In the 2nd century B.C., two brothers, both tribunes, tried but failed to make the necessary changes. Among a number of reform proposals, Tiberius Gracchus suggested to give land to both the unemployed and small farmers. Of course, the Senate, many of whom were large landowners, vehemently objected. Even the Concilium Plebis rejected the idea. Although his suggestion eventually became law, it could not be enforced. Riots soon followed and 300 people, including Tiberius, were killed. Unfortunately, a similar destiny awaited his brother. While Gaius Gracchus also supported the land distribution idea, his fate was sealed when he proposed to give citizenship to all Roman allies. Like his big brother, his proposals met with considerable resistance. 3,000 of his supporters were killed and he chose suicide. The failure of the brothers to achieve some balance in Rome would be one of a number of indicators that the Republic was doomed to fall. Later, another Roman would rise to initiate a series of reforms. Sulla and his army marched on Rome and seized power, defeating his enemy Gaius Marius. Assuming power in 88 B.C., Sulla quickly defeated King Mithridates of Pontus in the East, crushed the Samnites with the help of the generals Pompey and Crassus, purged the Roman Senate (80 were killed or exiled), reorganized the law courts, and enacted a number of reforms. He retired peacefully in 79 B.C. Unlike the Empire, the Republic would not collapse due to any external threat but instead fell to an internal menace. It came from the inability of the Republic to adjust to a constantly expanding empire. Even the ancient Sibylline prophecies predicted that failure would come internally, not by foreign invaders. There were a number of these internal warnings. The demand of the Roman allies for citizenship was one sign of this unrest - the so-called Social Wars of the 1st century B.C. (90 – 88 B.C.). For years the Roman allies had paid tribute and provided soldiers for war but were not considered citizens. Like their plebian kindred years earlier, they wanted representation. It took a rebellion for things to change. Although the Senate had warned the Roman citizens that awarding these people citizenship would be dangerous, full citizenship was finally granted to all people (slaves excluded) in the entire Italian peninsula. Later, Julius Caesar would extend citizenship beyond Italy and grant it to the people of Spain and Gaul. About this time the city witnessed a serious threat to its very survival when Marcus Tillius Cicero, the Roman statesman and poet, uncovered a conspiracy led by the Roman senator Lucius Sergius Catiline to overthrow the Roman government. Cicero also believed that the Republic was declining due to moral decay. Problems such as this together with fear and unrest came to the attention of three men in 60 B.C.: Julius Caesar, Gnaeus Pompey and Marcus Licinius Crassus. Crassus had gained fame by his defeat of Spartacus and his followers in 71 B.C. Pompey had distinguished himself in Spain as well as in the East. Caesar had proven himself as an able commander. Together, the three men formed what historians have named the First Triumvirate or Gang of Three. For almost a decade they controlled both consulships and military commands. After Caesar left the office of consul in 59 B.C., he and his army moved northward into Gaul and Germania. Pompey became the governor of Spain (although he ruled from Rome) while Crassus sought fame in the east where, unfortunately for him, he was eventually defeated and killed at the Battle of Carrhae. Growing tension between Pompey and Caesar escalated. Pompey was jealous of Caesar’s success and fame while Caesar wanted a return to politics. Eventually these differences brought them to battle, and in 48 B.C. they met at Pharsalus. Pompey was defeated, escaping to Egypt where he was killed by Ptolemy XIII. Caesar fulfilled his destiny by securing both the eastern provinces and northern Africa, returning to Rome a hero only to be declared dictator for life. Many of his enemies, as well as several allies, saw his new position as a serious threat to the foundation of the Republic, and despite a number of popular reforms, his assassination on the Ides of March in 44 B.C. brought the Republic to its knees. His heir and step-son Octavian subdued Mark Antony, eventually becoming the first emperor of Rome as Augustus. The Republic was gone and in its ashes rose the Roman Empire. History of Imperial Rome: The Roman Empire, at its height (circa 117 A.D.), was the most extensive political and social structure in western civilization. By 285 A.D. the empire had grown too vast to be ruled from the central government at Rome and so was divided by Emperor Diocletian (284-305 A.D.) into a Western and an Eastern Empire. The Roman Empire began when Augustus Caesar (27 B.C.-14 A.D.) became the first emperor of Rome and ended, in the West, when the last Roman emperor, Romulus Augustulus, was deposed by the Germanic King Odoacer (476 A.D.). In the East, it continued as the Byzantine Empire until the death of Constantine XI and the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453 A.D. The influence of the Roman Empire on western civilization was profound in its lasting contributions to virtually every aspect of western culture. Following the Battle of Actium in 31 B.C., Gaius Octavian Thurinus, Julius Caesar's nephew and heir, became the first emperor of Rome and took the name Augustus Caesar. Although Julius Caesar is often regarded as the first emperor of Rome, this is incorrect; he never held the title "Emperor" but, rather, "Dictator", a title the senate could not help but grant him, as Caesar held supreme military and political power at the time. In contrast, the senate willingly granted Augustus the title of emperor, lavishing praise and power on him because he had destroyed Rome's enemies and brought much needed stability. Augustus ruled the empire from 31 B.C. until 14 A.D. when he died. In that time, as he said himself, he "found Rome a city of clay but left it a city of marble." Augustus reformed the laws of the city and, by extension, the empire’s, secured Rome's borders, initiated vast building projects (carried out largely by his faithful general Agrippa, who built the first Pantheon), and secured the empire a lasting name as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, political and cultural powers in history. The Pax Romana (Roman Peace), also known as the Pax Augusta, which he initiated, was a time of peace and prosperity hitherto unknown and would last over 200 years. Following Augustus’ death, power passed to his heir, Tiberius, who continued many of the emperor’s policies but lacked the strength of character and vision which so defined Augustus. This trend would continue, more or less steadily, with the emperors who followed: Caligula, Claudius, and Nero. These first five rulers of the empire are referred to as the Julio-Claudian Dynasty for the two family names they descended from (either by birth or through adoption), Julius and Claudius. Although Caligula has become notorious for his depravity and apparent insanity, his early rule was commendable as was that of his successor, Claudius, who expanded Rome’s power and territory in Britain; less so was that of Nero. Caligula and Claudius were both assassinated in office (Caligula by his Praetorian Guard and Claudius, apparently, by his wife). Nero’s suicide ended the Julio-Claudian Dynasty and initiated the period of social unrest known as The Year of the Four Emperors. These four rulers were Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian. Following Nero’s suicide in 68 A.D., Galba assumed rule (69 A.D.) and almost instantly proved unfit for the responsibility. He was assassinated by the Praetorian Guard. Otho succeeded him swiftly on the very day of his death, and ancient records indicate he was expected to make a good emperor. General Vitellius, however, sought power for himself and so initiated the brief civil war which ended in Otho’s suicide and Vitellius’ ascent to the throne. Vitellius proved no more fit to rule than Galba had been, as he almost instantly engaged in luxurious entertainments and feasts at the expense of his duties. The legions declared for General Vespasian as emperor and marched on Rome. Vitellius was murdered by Vespasian’s men, and Vespasian took power exactly one year from the day Galba had first ascended to the throne. Vespasian founded the Flavian Dynasty which was characterized by massive building projects, economic prosperity, and expansion of the empire. Vespasian ruled from 69-79 A.D., and in that time, initiated the building of the Flavian Amphitheatre (the famous Coliseum of Rome) which his son Titus (ruled 79-81 A.D.) would complete. Titus’ early reign saw the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. which buried the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Ancient sources are universal in their praise for his handling of this disaster as well as the great fire of Rome in 80 A.D. Titus died of a fever in 81 A.D. and was succeeded by his brother Domitian who ruled from 81-96 A.D. Domitian expanded and secured the boundaries of Rome, repaired the damage to the city caused by the great fire, continued the building projects initiated by his brother, and improved the economy of the empire. Even so, his autocratic methods and policies made him unpopular with the Roman Senate, and he was assassinated in 96 A.D. Domitian's successor was his advisor Nerva who founded the Nervan-Antonin Dynasty which ruled Rome 96-192 A.D. This period is marked by increased prosperity owing to the rulers known as The Five Good Emperors of Rome. Between 96 and 180 A.D., five exceptional men ruled in sequence and brought the Roman Empire to its height: Nerva (96-98), Trajan (98-117), Hadrian (117-138), Antoninus Pius (138-161), and Marcus Aurelius (161-180). Under their leadership, the Roman Empire grew stronger, more stable, and expanded in size and scope. Lucius Verus and Commodus are the last two of the Nervan-Antonin Dynasty. Verus was co-emperor with Marcus Aurelius until his death in 169 A.D. and seems to have been fairly ineffective. Commodus, Aurelius’ son and successor, was one of the most disgraceful emperors Rome ever saw and is universally depicted as indulging himself and his whims at the expense of the empire. He was strangled by his wrestling partner in his bath in 192 A.D., ending the Nervan-Antonin Dynasty and raising the prefect Pertinax (who most likely engineered Commodus’ assassination) to power. Pertinax governed for only three months before he was assassinated. He was followed, in rapid succession, by four others in the period known as The Year of the Five Emperors, which culminated in the rise of Septimus Severus to power. Severus ruled Rome from 193-211 A.D., founded the Severan Dynasty, defeated the Parthians, and expanded the empire. His campaigns in Africa and Britain were extensive and costly and would contribute to Rome’s later financial difficulties. He was succeeded by his sons Caracalla and Geta, until Caracalla had his brother murdered. Caracalla ruled until 217 A.D., when he was assassinated by his bodyguard. It was under Caracalla’s reign that Roman citizenship was expanded to include all free men within the empire. This law was said to have been enacted as a means of raising tax revenue, simply because, after its passage, there were more people the central government could tax. The Severan Dynasty continued, largely under the guidance and manipulation of Julia Maesa (referred to as `empress’), until the assassination of Alexander Severus in 235 A.D. which plunged the empire into the chaos known as The Crisis of the Third Century (lasting from 235-284 A.D.). This period, also known as The Imperial Crisis, was characterized by constant civil war, as various military leaders fought for control of the empire. The crisis has been further noted by historians for widespread social unrest, economic instability (fostered, in part, by the devaluation of Roman currency by the Severans), and, finally, the dissolution of the empire which broke into three separate regions. The empire was reunited by Aurelian (270-275 A.D.) whose policies were further developed and improved upon by Diocletian who established the Tetrarchy (the rule of four) to maintain order throughout the empire. Even so, the empire was still so vast that Diocletian divided it in half in 285 A.D. to facilitate more efficient administration. In so doing, he created the Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire (also known as the Byzantine Empire). Since a leading cause of the Imperial Crisis was a lack of clarity in succession, Diocletian decreed that successors must be chosen and approved from the outset of an individual’s rule. Two of these successors were the generals Maxentius and Constantine. Diocletian voluntarily retired from rule in 305 A.D., and the tetrarchy dissolved as rival regions of the empire vied with each other for dominance. Following Diocletian’s death in 311 A.D., Maxentius and Constantine plunged the empire again into civil war. In 312 A.D. Constantine defeated Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge and became sole emperor of both the Western and Eastern Empires (ruling from 306-337 A.D.). Believing that Jesus Christ was responsible for his victory, Constantine initiated a series of laws such as the Edict of Milan (317 A.D.) which mandated religious tolerance throughout the empire and, specifically, tolerance for the faith which came to known as Christianity. In the same way that earlier Roman emperors had claimed a special relationship with a deity to augment their authority and standing (Caracalla with Serapis, for example, or Diocletian with Jupiter), Constantine chose the figure of Jesus Christ. At the First Council of Nicaea (325 A.D.), he presided over the gathering to codify the faith and decide on important issues such as the divinity of Jesus and which manuscripts would be collected to form the book known today as The Bible. He stabilized the empire, revalued the currency, and reformed the military, as well as founding the city he called New Rome on the site of the former city of Byzantium (modern day Istanbul) which came to be known as Constantinople. He is known as Constantine the Great owing to later Christian writers who saw him as a mighty champion of their faith but, as has been noted by many historians, the honorific could as easily be attributed to his religious, cultural, and political reforms, as well as his skill in battle and his large-scale building projects. After his death, his sons inherited the empire and, fairly quickly, embarked on a series of conflicts with each other which threatened to undo all that Constantine had accomplished. His three sons, Constantine II, Constantius II, and Constans divided the Roman Empire between them but soon fell to fighting over which of them deserved more. In these conflicts, Constantine II and Constans were killed. Constantius II died later after naming his cousin Julian his successor and heir. Emperor Julian ruled for only two years (361-363 A.D.) and, in that time, tried to return Rome to her former glory through a series of reforms aimed at increasing efficiency in government. As a Neo-Platonic philosopher, Julian rejected Christianity and blamed the faith; and Constantine’s adherence to it, for the decline of the empire. While officially proclaiming a policy of religious tolerance, Julian systematically removed Christians from influential government positions, banned the teaching and spread of the religion, and barred Christians from military service. His death, while on campaign against the Persians, ended the dynasty Constantine had begun. He was the last pagan emperor of Rome and came to be known as "Julian the Apostate" for his opposition to Christianity. After the brief rule of Jovian, who re-established Christianity as the dominant faith of the empire and repealed Julian’s various edicts, the responsibility of emperor fell to Theodosius I. Theodosius I (379-395 A.D.) took Constantine’s and Jovian’s religious reforms to their natural ends, outlawed pagan worship throughout the empire, closed the schools and universities, and converted pagan temples into Christian churches. It was during this time that Plato’s famous Academy was closed by Theodosius’ decree. Many of his reforms were unpopular with both the Roman aristocracy and the common people who held to the traditional values of pagan practice. The unity of social duties and religious belief which paganism provided was severed by the institution of a religion which removed the gods from the earth and human society and proclaimed only one God who ruled from the heavens. Theodosius I devoted so much effort to promoting Christianity that he seems to have neglected other duties as emperor and would be the last to rule both Eastern and Western Empires. From 376-382 A.D., Rome fought a series of battles against invading Goths known today as the Gothic Wars. At the Battle of Adrianople, 9 August 378 A.D., the Roman Emperor Valens was defeated, and historians mark this event as pivotal in the decline of the Western Roman Empire. Various theories have been suggested as to the cause of the empire’s fall but, even today, there is no universal agreement on what those specific factors were. Edward Gibbon has famously argued in his The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire that Christianity played a pivotal role, in that the new religion undermined the social mores of the empire which paganism provided. The theory that Christianity was a root cause in the empire’s fall was debated long before Gibbon, however, as Orosius argued Christianity’s innocence in Rome’s decline as early as 418 A.D. Orosius claimed it was primarily paganism itself and pagan practices which brought about the fall of Rome. Other influences which have been noted range from the corruption of the governing elite to the ungovernable vastness of the empire to the growing strength of the Germanic tribes and their constant incursions into Rome. The Roman military could no longer safeguard the borders as efficiently as they once had nor could the government as easily collect taxes in the provinces. The arrival of the Visigoths in the empire in the third century A.D. and their subsequent rebellions has also been cited a contributing factor in the decline. The Western Roman Empire officially ended 4 September 476 A.D., when Emperor Romulus Augustus was deposed by the Germanic King Odoacer (though some historians date the end as 480 A.D. with the death of Julius Nepos). The Eastern Roman Empire continued on as the Byzantine Empire until 1453 A.D., and though known early on as simply `the Roman Empire’, it did not much resemble that entity at all. The Western Roman Empire would become re-invented later as The Holy Roman Empire, but that construct, also, was far removed from the Roman Empire of antiquity and was an `empire’ in name only. The inventions and innovations which were generated by the Roman Empire profoundly altered the lives of the ancient people and continue to be used in cultures around the world today. Advancements in the construction of roads and buildings, indoor plumbing, aqueducts, and even fast-drying cement were either invented or improved upon by the Romans. The calendar used in the West derives from the one created by Julius Caesar, and the names of the days of the week (in the romance languages) and months of the year also come from Rome. Apartment complexes (known as `insula), public toilets, locks and keys, newspapers, even socks all were developed by the Romans as were shoes, a postal system (modeled after the Persians), cosmetics, the magnifying glass, and the concept of satire in literature. During the time of the empire, significant developments were also advanced in the fields of medicine, law, religion, government, and warfare. The Romans were adept at borrowing from, and improving upon, those inventions or concepts they found among the indigenous populace of the regions they conquered. It is therefore difficult to say what is an `original’ Roman invention and what is an innovation on a pre-existing concept, technique, or tool. It can safely be said, however, that the Roman Empire left an enduring legacy which continues to affect the way in which people live even today. [Ancient History Encyclopedia]. Roman Daily Life: From the early days of the Roman Republic through the volatile reigns of such ignoble emperors as Caligula, Nero, and Commodus, the Roman Empire continued to expand, stretching its borders to encompass the entire Mediterranean Sea as well as expanding northward to Gaul and Britain. History records the exploits of the heroes as well as the tirades of the emperors. Despite the sometimes shameful deeds of the imperial office, the empire was built on the backs of its citizens - the unsung people who lived a relatively quiet existence, and who are often ignored by history. Rome was a cosmopolitan city with Greeks, Syrians, Jews, North Africans, Spaniards, Gauls, and Britons, and like any society, the average Roman citizen awoke each morning, labored, relaxed, and ate, and while his or her daily life could often be hectic, he or she would always survive. Outside the cities, in the towns and on the small farms, people lived a much simpler life - dependent almost entirely on their own labor. The daily life of the average city dweller, however, was a lot different and most often routine. The urban areas of the empire - whether it was Rome, Pompeii, Antioch, or Carthage - were magnets to many people who left smaller towns and farms seeking a better way of life. However, the unfulfilled promise of jobs forced countless people to live in the poorer parts of the city. The jobs they sought were often not there, resulting in an epidemic of homeless inhabitants. The work that was available to these new émigrés, however, was difficult to obtain. Slaves performed almost all of the menial jobs as well as many of the professions such as teachers, doctors, surgeons, and architects. Most of the freed men worked at various trades, for example, as bakers, fishmongers, or carpenters. Occasionally, poor women would serve the affluent as hairdressers, midwives, or dressmakers. As elsewhere, whether on a farm or in the city, daily life still centered on the home, and when people arrived in the city, their first concern was to find a place to live. Space was at a premium in a walled metropolis like Rome, and from the beginning little attention was paid to the housing needs of the people who migrated to the city - tenements provided the best answer. The majority of Roman citizens, not all of them poor, lived in these apartment buildings or insulae. As early as 150 B.C., there were over 46,000 insulae throughout the city. Most of these ramshackle tenements were over-crowded and extremely dangerous resulting in residents living in constant fear of fire, collapse, and in some areas there was the susceptibility to the flooding of the Tiber River. Initially, little concern from the city was given to designing straight or even wide streets (streets, often unpaved, could be as narrow as six feet or as wide as fifteen), not allowing for easy access to these buildings if a fire did occur. It would take the great fire under Emperor Nero, to improve this problem when streets were widened and balconies built to provide safety as well as access in time of an emergency. These “flats” were usually five to seven stories in height (over seventy feet); however, because many of these tenements were deemed unsafe, laws were passed under Emperors Augustus and Trajan to keep them from becoming too tall; unfortunately, these laws were rarely enforced. Space was at a premium in a walled metropolis like Rome, and from the beginning little attention was paid to the housing needs of the people. Poverty throughout the city was apparent, whether through one’s lack of education or manner of dress, and life in these tenements reflected this disparity. The floor on which a person lived depended on one’s income. The lower apartments - the ground floor or first floor of an insulae - were far more comfortable than the top floors. They were spacious, containing separate rooms for dining and sleeping, glazed windows, and, unlike the other floors, the rent was usually paid annually. The higher floors, where rent was paid by the day or week, were cramped, often with only one room to a family. A family lived in constant fear of eviction. They had no access to natural light, were hot in the summer and cold in the winter with little or no running water - this even meant a latrina or toilet. While the city’s first sewer system or Cloaca Maxima had appeared in the six century B.C., it did not benefit those on the upper floors (lower floors had access to running water and indoor toilets). Refuse, even human waste, was routinely dumped onto the streets, not only causing a terrible stench but a breeding ground for disease. For many, the only alternative was to use the public toilets. Combine the lack of street lights (there was no foot traffic at night due to the high crime rate), the decaying buildings, and the fear of fire, life on the upper floors of the tenements was not very enjoyable for many of the poor. On the contrary, most of the wealthy residents - those who didn’t live in villas outside the city - lived in a domus. These homes, at least in Rome, were usually located on Palatine Hill to be close to the imperial palace. As with many of the tenements, the front of this dwelling (especially in cities like Pompeii and Herculaneum) often contained a shop where the owner would conduct daily business. Behind the shop was the atrium - a reception area where guests or clients were greeted and private business sometimes conducted. The atrium would often include a small shrine to a household or ancestral god. The ceiling of the atrium was open and beneath this was a rectangular pool. On rainy days the water that came through this opening was collected and used elsewhere in the domus. On either sides of the atrium were smaller rooms, called cubiculum which served as bedrooms, libraries and offices. Of course, there was ample space available for a dining room or triclinium and the kitchen. To the rear of the domus was the family garden. Regardless whether rich or poor, tenement or villa, the fundamental social unit throughout the empire was the family, and from the early days of the Republic, the existence of the family-centered entirely on the concept of paterfamilias - the male head of the household had the power of life and death over all members of the family (even the extended family). He could reject children if they were disfigured, if he questioned their paternity, if he had more than one daughter already or merely if he felt so inclined. He could also sell any of his children into slavery. Gradually, over time, this extreme, almost all-powerful, control over one’s family (patra potestas) would diminish. However, this ironclad rule by the husband or father did not limit the power of the woman of the house. The home was the domain of the wife. While she was initially restricted from appearing in public, she ran the household and often saw to the education of the children until a tutor could be found. By the end of the Republic, she was even permitted to sit with her husband at dinner, go to the baths, although not at the same time as the men, and attend the theater and games. Later, women could be seen working as bakers, pharmacists and shopkeepers and, legally, women’s rights improved, for example, divorce proceedings could be initiated by either the husband or wife. Everyone has to eat, and the diet of a Roman resident depended, as did his or her housing, on one’s economic status. For many of the poor this meant waiting for the monthly allotment of grain. To most Romans the main meal of the day was in the late afternoon, from four to six. The morning and noon meals were usually light snacks, sometimes only bread. Since there was no refrigeration, shopping was done daily at the many small shops and street carts or in the city’s forum. Many of the foods we consider Italian today did not exist in early Rome. There were no potatoes, tomatoes, corn, peppers, rice, or sugar. Neither were there any oranges, grapefruits, apricots, or peaches. While the wealthy enjoyed imported spices in their meals, reclined on pillows and were served by slaves, many of the extremely poor or homeless ate rancid cereal or gruel (the lack of a quality diet caused many to suffer from malnutrition). To others the daily diet consisted of cereals, bread, vegetables and olive oil; meat was far too expensive for the average budget although it sometimes became available after a sacrifice to the gods (as only the internal organs were used in a sacrifice). Wine was the common drink, but, for the poor, water was available at the public fountains. For the affluent the day was divided between business and leisure. Of course, business was only conducted in the morning. Most Romans worked a six hour day, beginning at dawn and ending at noon, although, occasionally some shops might reopen in the early evening. The city’s forum would be empty because the afternoon was devoted to leisure - attending the games (gladiatorial competitions, chariot races, or wrestling), the theater or the baths - all of which were also enjoyed by the poor (as many in government felt the need for the poor to be entertained). Even during times of crises, the citizens of Rome were kept happy with bread and games. They could be found at the Circus Maximus, Coliseum, or Theatre of Pompeii. Throughout the empire, cities such as Antioch, Alexandria, Carthage or even Cathago Nova became Romanized, containing an amphitheater or arena. The city of Pompeii had three municipal baths, two theaters, a basilica, and an amphitheater. During the time of Emperor Claudius there were 159 days when no business was conducted (no day of rest existed in a Roman week); however, Emperor Marcus Aurelius considered this too extreme and decreed there had to be at least 230 days of business. After a busy day conducting business and attending the games, a Roman citizen needed to relax and this relaxation time was spent at the baths - bathing was important to all Romans (usually once or twice a week). The baths were a place to socialize and sometimes conduct business. In 33 B.C. there were 170 in Rome, and by 400 A.D. there were over 800 including the largest and most sumptuous, the Baths of Trajan, Caracalla, and Diocletian. An emperor could always ensure his popularity by building baths. A typical bath included a gym, health center, swimming pool and sometimes even a bordello (for the more affluent guests). Most were free. A typical bath would have three rooms - a tepidarium or relaxation room, a caldarium or hotter room, and a frigadarium or cooling room. Slaves were used to maintain the heat in the various hot rooms as well as attend to the needs of the wealthy. One of the most famous baths was the one given to the city by Emperor Diocletian. It covered thirty-two acres with a lavish garden, fountains, sculptures and even a running track. It could seat 3,000 guests. After a relaxing afternoon at the baths, a Roman citizen, wealthy or poor, would return home for their evening meal. Daily life in a Roman city was completely dependent on one’s economic status. The city, however, remained a mixture of wealth and poverty, often existing side by side. The wealthy had the benefit of slave labor whether it was heating the water at the baths, serving them their evening meal, or educating their children. The poor, on the other hand, had no access to education, lived in run-down tenements, and sometimes lived off the charity of the city. Historians still argue about the fall of the empire - was it religion or the influx of barbarians? However, there are those who point to the poor of the city - the squalor, the rise of the unemployed, and increase in disease and crime - as a contributing factor to the western empire’s eventual demise. [Ancient History Encyclopedia]. Travel In Ancient Rome: It was not uncommon for the ancient Romans to travel long distances all across Europe. Actually during the Roman Empire, Rome had an incredible road network which extended from northern England all the way to southern Egypt. At its peak, the Empire's stone paved road network reached 53,000 miles (85,000 kilometers)! Roman roads were very reliable, they were the most relied on roads in Europe for many centuries after the collapse of the Roman Empire. It could be argued that they were more reliable than our roads today considering how long they could last and how little maintenance they required. Unlike today, travel by road was quite slow and...exhausting! For example, going from Rome to Naples would take over six days in Roman times according to Orbis, the Google Maps for the ancient world developed by Stanford University. By comparison, it takes about two hours and 20 minutes to drive from Rome to Naples today. Romans would travel in a raeda, a carriage with four noisy iron-shod wheels, many wooden benches inside for the passengers, a clothed top (or no top at all) and drawn by up to four horses or mules. The raeda was the equivalent of the bus today and Roman law limited the amount of luggage it could carry to 1,000 libra (or approximately 300 kilograms). Rich Romans traveled in the carpentum which was the limousine of wealthy Romans. The carpentum was pulled by many horses, it had four wheels, a wooden arched rooftop, comfortable cushy seats, and even some form a suspension to make the ride more comfortable. Romans also had what would be the equivalent of our trucks today: the plaustrum. The plaustrum could carry heavy loads, it had a wooden board with four thick wheels and was drawn by two oxen. It was very slow and could travel only about 10-15 miles (approximately 15 to 25 kilometers) per day. The fastest way to travel from Rome to Naples was by horse relay or the cursus publicus, which was like a state-run postal service and a service used to transport officials (such as magistrates or people from the military). A certificate issued by the emperor was required in order for the service to be used. A series of stations with fresh and rapid horses were built at short regular intervals (approximately eight miles or 12 kilometers) along the major road systems. Estimates of how fast one could travel using the cursus publicus vary. A study by A.M. Ramsey in "The speed of the Roman Imperial Post" (Journal of Roman Studies) estimates that a typical trip was made at a rate of 41 to 64 miles per day (66 - 103 kilometers per day). Therefore, the trip from Rome to Naples would take approximately two days using this service. Because of their iron-shod wheels, Roman carriages made of a lot of noise. That's why they were forbidden from big Roman cities and their vicinity during the day. They were also quite uncomfortable due to their lack of suspension, making the ride from Rome to Naples quite bumpy. Fortunately, Roman roads had way stations called mansiones (meaning "staying places" in Latin) where ancient Romans could rest. Mansiones were the equivalent of our highway rest areas today. They sometimes had restaurants and pensions where Romans could drink, eat and sleep. They were built by the government at regular intervals usually 15 to 20 miles apart (around 25 to 30 kilometers). These mansiones were often badly frequented, with prostitutes and thieves roaming around. Major Roman roads also had tolls just like our modern highways. These tolls were often situated at bridges (just like today) or at city gates. There were no passenger ships or cruise ships in ancient Rome. But there were tourists. It was actually not uncommon for well-to-do Romans to travel just for the sake of traveling and visiting new places and friends. Romans had to board a merchant ship. They first had to find a ship, then get the captain's approval and negotiate a price with him. There were a large number of merchant ships traveling regular routes in the Mediterranean. Finding a ship traveling to a specific destination, for example in Greece or Egypt, at a specific time and date wasn't that difficult. Romans would stay on the deck of the ship and sometimes there would be hundreds of people on the deck. They would bring their own supplies aboard including food, games, blankets, mattresses, or even tents to sleep in. Some merchant ships had cabins at the stern that could accommodate only the wealthiest Romans. It is worth noting that very wealthy Romans could own their own ships, just like very wealthy people own big yachts today. Interestingly, a Roman law forbade senators from owning ships able to carry more than 300 amphorae jars as these ships could also be used to trade goods. Traveling by ship wasn't very slow, even compared to modern day standards. For example, going from Brindisium in Italy to Patrae in Greece would take over three days, versus about one day today. Romans could also travel from Italy to Egypt in just a few days. Commercial navigation was suspended during the four winter months in the Mediterranean. This was called the mare clausum. The sea was too rough and too dangerous for commercial ships to sail. Therefore, traveling by sea was close to impossible during the winter and Romans could only travel by road. There were also many navigable rivers that were used to transport merchandise and passengers, even during the winter months. Traveling during the time of the ancient Romans was definitely not as comfortable as today. However, it was quite easy to travel thanks to Rome's developed road network with its system of way stations and regular ship lines in the Mediterranean. And Romans did travel quite a lot! [Ancient Origins]. Roman Agriculture: Agriculture was a very significant part of the Roman economy, and plowing the fields was a frequent theme even in the Roman Army. Oftentimes when a Legionary Army was retired (en masse), the soldiers would be resettled, forming a new agricultural colony. The retired soldiers might almost literally “beat swords into ploughshares”, (enthusiastically) converting from the life of a soldier to that of a farmer. The benefit to Rome was two-fold: the new agricultural production was always welcome; and the presence of a large number of ex-Roman Soldiers (almost a “ready reserve”) was a stabilizing influence in colonial areas around the periphery of the Roman Empire. The Romans generally plowed their fields twice at directions in right angles to each other to form an even surface. Since the soil was often heavy and contained roots and vines, heavy oxen were used to draw the plough. Pliny the Elder described different types of ploughshares, such as the knife-like curved blade used for thick soil, the normal ploughshare which was a bar which tapered to a point, and even the plough with two small wheels attached to it. The “Roman Plow” was used in Europe well into the Middle Ages and Renaissance. As well the Romans built dams and reservoirs for irrigation. Their reservoirs were lined with waterproof cement; and some had an area of almost 2000 square meters. Irrigation was necessary in light of the increasing population of the Empire; and it helped maintain the output of food grains. At harvest, a mowing scythe of great capacity was used to mow large areas. In Gaul, a mechanism was developed for removing the heads of the crop while leaving the stalk rooted. A frame drawn by cattle used teeth or blades positioned at the appropriate height to cut the heads off the plants, allowing them to fall into a collecting container. This is perhaps the earliest mechanical harvester ever invented. The Romans introduced the rotary process in milling grain, a development which would later lead to the water mill. Water mills were first introduced before the turn of the first millennium (before 0 A.D.). The largest known water-powered grinding mill in the Roman World, built around 300 A.D., had two rows of eight wheels each placed one below the other. Different milling processes gave different grades of flour. Romans used oxen, mules and donkeys for work and sheep for their milk, wool, meat and manure. Pigs were also reared, and goats, apart from providing food, were reared for their hair which was used to make ropes. Birds, such as fancy ducks and peacocks, were gourmet items and were raised with great care in aviaries or ponds. The Romans also began the system of selectively breeding animals. This science is today used to improve breeds of livestock to give better yields and other favorable characteristics. Thus, the Romans left their mark on the science of animal husbandry. The Romans also developed salt water fish farms sometime in the first or second century B.C. to satisfy their appetite for fresh fish. The first record of this technology dates to 95 B.C. when fish tanks owned by Licinius Murena were filled with sea water. Aside from fish, oysters and edible snails were also cultivated. Soon such fish farms became as much a leisurely occupation for the landed gentry as they were food sources. Nonetheless as they still do today, these farms effectively allowed people who lived far from the shore to enjoy fresh fish. Fish farms are today growing in popularity as a means of curbing the ecological depletion of the seas, and the origin of the environmentally and economically significant technology can be traced to the ancient Romans. The Roman Empire at its largest stage stretched north to Britain, south to Africa and as far east as Syria and Judea and even into Mesopotamia. Thirty-two provinces enabled the Empire to partake in trade with each other for luxury goods as well as vast quantities of agricultural products. Not only was the rural population of Rome involved in the agriculture, much of the urban population worked the land immediately outside the towns. Even within the towns, there are many large areas of land without buildings which were used for agricultural purposes. The Empire's success in delivery of goods relied on the roads and ports that were built by the Empire. For example, roads and ports delivered the much needed grain shipped in from Egypt and Africa. One of the principle producers of grain was Egypt, and much of the balance of North Africa also produced significant surpluses of wheat. Egypt was also the center of the cultivation of the papyrus plant and of the manufacture there from of the paper of antiquity. Within Italy itself, the olive tree, which was found only on the peninsula, the vine and fig tree were the major crops grown by the regions along the Apennines of Italy. The northern part of Italy had the fertile Po Valley which was full of trees and woodlands, which produced enough acorns to feed the many herds of swine that provided most of the meat for the area. This area also produced large amounts of grain, millet and nuts. According to ancient records, by the period of the first century A.D., much of the agricultural economy was dependent on tenant farming; whereby wealthy landowners leased their lands to tenant farmers. The tenant farmers were responsible for the annual operations including the planting, sowing, irrigation, plowing, and hoeing of the land. In return for this, these workers had the rights to all crops produced beyond what they owed their landlord for rent and/or the government for taxes. In theory, this would mean that the tenants could earn a healthy profit for their labors. However in the latter Empire, tenant farmers became increasingly indebted to their landlords. This can be attributed to years of poor crops and increasing rents. This led to a condition where tenant farmers, which had previously been free, became tied to the land they were working until they paid off their debts. According to Pliny, they were often unable to do this before they died, and the burden of debt would be passed down to their sons. Emperor Constantine formalized what had by then become inevitable, that tenant farmers and their descendants were permanently tied to the land they worked. In this way, a tenant farmer that had originally been working primarily for himself was turned into a serf of the manor, paving the way for the serfdom characteristic of the Middle Ages. The early Empire had many villages which were self-reliant, raising the crops for their own subsistence (with little, if any surplus). The chief crops of these villages were emmer wheat, barley, peas and beans. However the tenant farms of the latter Empire produced large surpluses which were both purchased and taxed (in kind). In turn the city of Rome's grain supply was distributed to its citizens at a fixed price subsidized by the government. This program of doles of cheap corn stayed in place until Augustus reorganized the idea. Under him, free rations of corn dole were given to the male citizens of Rome who were registered citizens and it was restricted to a maximum of 200,000 men. A portion of this supply was also set aside to feed the soldiers. According to Stevenson, Rome's supply of corn, also known as annona, was a main factor of its economy and its survival. The annona was eventually placed under a manager called the praefectus annonae. This office, which was initially held in Rome, under the Emperor Augustus, spread to the Roman provinces in the municipal towns. The Imperial Child-Assistance System, known as alimenta, was maintained for over 200 years beginning with Emperor Trajan. Alimenta, which meant food, was a system of loans paid to farmers with an overall goal of improving agriculture and stimulating the birth rate of Italians. The interest collected (generally around 5% annually) from the farmer/borrowers was in turn used to fund a food program for poor children. This entire system of alimenta (loans the interest from which benefited poor children), which was introduced in Italy, was eventually extended to the provinces of the Empire. Thus began the noble tradition of subsidizing farmers, a tradition followed throughout Western Europe and America even until present times [Ancient Gifts]. Roman River Navy: Roman raiders and their lost arks. When workmen were digging foundations to erect a new Hilton hotel in Mainz, West Germany (in 1982), they excavated the well-preserved remains of nine Roman warships. Such are the small ironies of history. And now, less than a year later, two more vessels have been uncovered, buried under 12 to 15 feet of clay. The oldest of the ships was built in 81 A.D., according to the rather precise evidence of the rings in the oak. Most of the ships, however, date from the fourth century, when the empire was far into its famous decline, leading to the sack of Rome by Alaric the Goth in 410. Historians believe the garrison at Maiz, along with this shipyard by the Rhine, must have been abandoned about 10 years earlier. These ancient warships, 30 to 70 feet long, were sleek, purposeful vessels with uncompromisingly straight keels and massive timber frames. There was accommodation for sail amidships, but they were chiefly propelled by oars. In their sharp lines, one feels the thrust of a score of Caesars. Around 12 B.C., we know, the Emperor Drusus cut a canal from the Rhine to the Zuyder Zee. Some of these ships, part of the classis Germanicus (Rome's German navy), must have traveled on that canal. How tirelessly the empire laid down arterial roads and bridges and waterways so that its armies could move further, and yet further, from the heart of Rome! These navies of Rome's many frontiers ferried troops and supplies, patrolled against the hostile natives, kept communications open - ruthlessly, making straight lines in a tangled and untidy world. It must have all seemed irresistibly logical to the Romans - the most logical of men. But in the end, the solution became the problem. One thing led to another - one more bridge, one more canal, one more bronze-beaked ship. There were hardly enough oak trees in the German forests to keep up with the ships. In one 18-year period the Roman navies lost nearly 1,000. There were not enough freed slaves - from Gaul, from Spain, from Africa - to man all those oars. The last words of the Emperor Septimus in 200 A.D. were: "Pay the soldiers more." But there was no longer enough gold to ship out of Rome on those roads and waterways, financing all the garrisons of this garrison state. For what the Romans finally ran out of was will. What was it all for? National security? World order? Manifest destiny? The Romans thought they knew in the beginning. Toward the end, there was the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, advising: "Stop being whirled about." Don't worry about what other people think, he told himself. Live in the present. Throw away material things. Discover inner peace. What did all that have to do with warships at Mainz - with all the frontier wars that Marcus Aurelius fought as a reflex of Roman duty? The Roman parallel is always fascinating to Americans. What can we learn from these 11 time-warp souvenirs, raised from the mud like monsters in a horror movie? Some will see them as an argument for more defense; others, as an argument for less defense. Most people will "learn" what they are already convinced of. The ships sit, submerged in huge metal basins in an empty trolley barn, too waterlogged to be withdrawn from water. Polyethylene glycol is being tried as a liquid replacement. But for the moment, air is the enemy. In contrast to their military pretensions, the Roman warships now seem profoundly vulnerable - documentation for a modern historian's conclusion: "The complete failure of Rome against Germany...usefully illustrates the limitations of sea-power." And what else? Something in us parallel-seekers wants to know. Something in us doesn't want to know. [Christian Science Monitor]. Roman Games: In the Greco-Roman world, racehorses were potent symbols used by both individuals and the state to express power, encourage civic pride, and celebrate special events. For the Greeks, chariot racing likely began sometime around 1500 B.C. and became a central element of their most sacred festivals. A memory of these early contests appears in Homer’s description of the funeral games honoring the fallen warrior Patroclus, during which Greek kings and heroes race once around a tree stump for the prize of a female slave. Perhaps a century after the founding of the Olympics in 776 B.C., chariot and jockeyed races were included in the games. This provided an opportunity for families to display their “hippic”—or horse—wealth as social and political capital, explains historian Donald Kyle of the University of Texas at Arlington. Yet for the Romans, hippic contests were just as often part of extravagant state-sponsored displays intended to entertain the masses. The historian Livy says that the first and largest Roman hippodrome, the Circus Maximus, was built by Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, the legendary fifth king of Rome (reigned 616–579 B.C.), in a valley between the Aventine and Palatine hills. Though originally a simple open oval space similar to a Greek hippodrome, the Romans gradually created a massive stadium-style building that, by the first century A.D., could accommodate perhaps as many as 250,000 spectators. While there were certainly other crowd-pleasing events such as gladiatorial contests in ancient Rome, “chariot racing is the earliest and longest-enduring major spectacle in Roman history,” says Kyle [Archaeological Institute of America]. SHIPPING & RETURNS/REFUNDS: Your purchase will ordinarily be shipped within 48 hours of payment. We package as well as anyone in the business, with lots of protective padding and containers. All of our shipments are fully insured against loss, and our shipping rates include the cost of this coverage (through,, the USPS, UPS, or Fed-Ex). International tracking is provided free by the USPS for certain countries, other countries are at additional cost. ADDITIONAL PURCHASES do receive a VERY LARGE discount, typically about $5 per item so as to reward you for the economies of combined shipping/insurance costs. We do offer U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail, Registered Mail, and Express Mail for both international and domestic shipments, as well United Parcel Service (UPS) and Federal Express (Fed-Ex). Please ask for a rate quotation. We will accept whatever payment method you are most comfortable with. Please note for international purchasers we will do everything we can to minimize your liability for VAT and/or duties. But we cannot assume any responsibility or liability for whatever taxes or duties may be levied on your purchase by the country of your residence. If you don’t like the tax and duty schemes your government imposes, please complain to them. We have no ability to influence or moderate your country’s tax/duty schemes. If upon receipt of the item you are disappointed for any reason whatever, I offer a no questions asked 30-day return policy. Send it back, I will give you a complete refund of the purchase price; 1) less our original shipping/insurance costs, 2) less non-refundable eBay payment processing fees. Please note that eBay does NOT refund payment processing fees. Even if you “accidentally” purchase something and then cancel the purchase before it is shipped, eBay will not refund their processing fees. So all refunds for any reason, without exception, do not include eBay payment processing fees (typically between 5% and 15%) and shipping/insurance costs (if any). If you’re unhappy with eBay’s “no fee refund” policy, and we are EXTREMELY unhappy, please voice your displeasure by contacting eBay. We have no ability to influence, modify or waive eBay policies. ABOUT US: Prior to our retirement we used to travel to Europe and Central Asia several times a year. Most of the items we offer came from acquisitions we made in Eastern Europe, India, and from the Levant (Eastern Mediterranean/Near East) during these years from various institutions and dealers. Much of what we generate on Etsy, Amazon and Ebay goes to support The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, as well as some other worthy institutions in Europe and Asia connected with Anthropology and Archaeology. Though we have a collection of ancient coins numbering in the tens of thousands, our primary interests are ancient jewelry and gemstones. Prior to our retirement we traveled to Russia every year seeking antique gemstones and jewelry from one of the globe’s most prolific gemstone producing and cutting centers, the area between Chelyabinsk and Yekaterinburg, Russia. From all corners of Siberia, as well as from India, Ceylon, Burma and Siam, gemstones have for centuries gone to Yekaterinburg where they have been cut and incorporated into the fabulous jewelry for which the Czars and the royal families of Europe were famous for. My wife grew up and received a university education in the Southern Urals of Russia, just a few hours away from the mountains of Siberia, where alexandrite, diamond, emerald, sapphire, chrysoberyl, topaz, demantoid garnet, and many other rare and precious gemstones are produced. Though perhaps difficult to find in the USA, antique gemstones are commonly unmounted from old, broken settings – the gold reused – the gemstones recut and reset. Before these gorgeous antique gemstones are recut, we try to acquire the best of them in their original, antique, hand-finished state – most of them centuries old. We believe that the work created by these long-gone master artisans is worth protecting and preserving rather than destroying this heritage of antique gemstones by recutting the original work out of existence. That by preserving their work, in a sense, we are preserving their lives and the legacy they left for modern times. Far better to appreciate their craft than to destroy it with modern cutting. Not everyone agrees – fully 95% or more of the antique gemstones which come into these marketplaces are recut, and the heritage of the past lost. But if you agree with us that the past is worth protecting, and that past lives and the produce of those lives still matters today, consider buying an antique, hand cut, natural gemstone rather than one of the mass-produced machine cut (often synthetic or “lab produced”) gemstones which dominate the market today. We can set most any antique gemstone you purchase from us in your choice of styles and metals ranging from rings to pendants to earrings and bracelets; in sterling silver, 14kt solid gold, and 14kt gold fill. When you purchase from us, you can count on quick shipping and careful, secure packaging. We would be happy to provide you with a certificate/guarantee of authenticity for any item you purchase from us. There is a $3 fee for mailing under separate cover. I will always respond to every inquiry whether via email or eBay message, so please feel free to write. Condition: Ancient ring, 4th century AD. Antique vintage gemstone, 19th century AD.., Jewelry: Roman Ring, Material: Ancient Ring, Color: Orange, Metal: Ancient Bronze

PicClick Insights - AD300 Ancient Roman Pannonia (Hungary) Ring Sz5+ Antique19thC 10ct Orange Agate PicClick Exclusive

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