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Article

Thorsten Opper

Elaborate monument erected by Octavian (later Augustus) in 29–27 bc on the Preveza Peninsula in Western Greece, north of the present-day town of Preveza, overlooking Cape Actium, to commemorate his naval victory over Mark Antony at Actium in 31 bc. The nearby city of Nikopolis (Gr.: ‘city of victory’) was founded for the same purpose at about the same time.

According to the historian Dio Cassius (Roman History LI.i.3), after his victory Octavian laid a foundation of square stones on the spot where he had pitched his tent, which he then adorned with the captured ships’ rams. On this foundation, according to Dio, Octavian established an open-air shrine dedicated to Apollo. Suetonius (Augustus xviii.2) and Strabo (Geography VII.vii.6) corroborate this evidence, although the trophy itself (with the ships’ rams) was, according to Suetonius, dedicated to Poseidon and Mars, presumably for their help during the battle. The hill itself was, according to Strabo, sacred to Apollo, and therefore the shrine was dedicated to him....

Article

Sophie Page

Astrology is the art of predicting events on earth as well as human character and disposition from the movements of the planets and fixed stars. Medieval astrology encompassed both general concepts of celestial influence, and the technical art of making predictions with horoscopes, symbolic maps of the heavens at particular moments and places constructed from astronomical information. The scientific foundations of the art were developed in ancient Greece, largely lost in early medieval Europe and recovered by the Latin West from Arabic sources in the 12th and 13th centuries. Late medieval astrological images were successfully Christianized and were adapted to particular contexts, acquired local meanings and changed over time.

Astrology developed into a scientific branch of learning in ancient Greece, but because of the opposition of the Church Fathers it was transmitted to early medieval Europe in only fragmentary form in technically unsophisticated textbooks and popular divinatory genres. Literary and scientific texts provided more general ideas about the nature and attributes of the planets which were influential on later iconography. The first significant astrological images appear in 11th-century illustrated astronomical texts (e.g. London, BL, Cotton MS. Tiberius BV), which were acquired and produced by monasteries to aid with time-keeping and the construction of the Christian calendar....

Article

G. Lloyd-Morgan

Sculpted female figure (equivalent to the male Atlantid) used in place of a column (see fig.). Caryatids first appeared in ancient Greek architecture around the mid-6th century bc; they were also used in Roman architecture, and these models were revived in the 18th and 19th centuries (see §2). Classical caryatids are always clothed; they may be dressed in the Ionic style and may have either a polos or a high-sided crown on their heads, or a wider drum representing a basket containing sacred objects. When dressed in Doric costume, however, caryatids bear the capital directly on their heads. Where hands survive, they may hold ceremonial religious vessels. Non-architectural caryatid figures occur as decorative elements in the minor arts of Greece, Etruria and Imperial Rome. The most notable are the stand supporting mirror-discs, usually dating from the 6th and 5th centuries bc. Caryatids were used in furniture decoration, often as bronze mounts, during the 18th and 19th centuries....

Article

Dimitris Plantzos

An islet to the west of Paros and Antiparos in the centre of the Cyclades. It has been identified as ancient Prepesinthos, mentioned by Strabo (Geography X.v.3) and Pliny (Natural History vi.66). The archaeological remains of Despotikon were first explored in the late 19th century by pioneer Greek archaeologist Christos Tsountas, who excavated Early Cycladic (c. 3200–2000 bc) cemeteries at Livadi and Zoumbaria, and identified remains of a prehistoric settlement at the site of Chiromilos. Sixty more graves of the Early Cycladic period, as well as one of the Roman period, were discovered in the mid-20th century by the Greek Archaeological Service. Rescue excavations were initiated again in 1997, focused on the site at Mandra, where an extensive sanctuary dedicated to Apollo has been located. The excavation has yielded a great number of finds, many of which are of prime importance as to the interpretation of the site, its role in the Aegean and its relations with the Near East, from the Archaic to the Roman period....

Article

Dimitris Plantzos

Greek city situated at the foothills of Mt Olympus in northern Greece (district of Pieria), 14 km south of modern city of Katerini. It was an important Macedonian political and cultural centre from the Classical to the Roman periods (6th century bc–4th century ad). By the 6th century bc it seems that the Macedonians were gathering at Dion in order to honour the Olympian gods, chiefly Zeus; according to myth, Deukalion, the only man to survive the flood at the beginning of time, built an altar to Zeus as a sign of his salvation. His sons, Macedon and Magnes, lived in Pieria, near Olympus, and became the mythical ancestors of the Macedonians. The altar allegedly erected by Deukalion remained the centre of the cult life at Dion throughout its history.

King Archelaos of Macedon (c. 413–399 bc) organized athletic and dramatic contests in the framework of the religious celebrations, following the practice of the Greeks in the south, such as at the great sanctuaries of Olympia and Delphi. Philip II (...

Article

Dimitris Plantzos

[Satra]

Greek city situated on the island of Crete, by the north-west foothills of mount Psiloritis (anc. Ida), 30 km south-east of the present-day city of Rethymnon. It was a centre for Aegean and Greek culture from the Prehistoric to the Byzantine periods (4th millennium bc–7th century bc).

Ancient Eleutherna is a typical example of a Cretan polis (city) inhabited continuously from at least from the 9th century bc (the so-called ‘Dark Age’ of Greek history) to the late Roman and Byzantine period (6th–7th century bc). Even before that, archaeological finds suggest the existence of a continuous presence on the site from the late Neolithic (4th millennium bc) through to a flourishing Minoan site of the 3rd to 2nd millennia bc. Although later construction all but eliminated traces of prehistoric architecture, there is still significant evidence to confirm unbroken habitation. In historical times (9th century...

Article

F. B. Sear, Dericksen Brinkerhoff and John Pinto

(Tivoli)

The summer palace of the emperor Hadrian, built between AD 118 and 134 and situated on an elevated plateau south-west of Tivoli. Its unusual architecture and wealth of sculpture and mosaics have fascinated artists and scholars since the Renaissance.

F. B. Sear

The buildings on the 120 ha site (see fig. ) were named after such celebrated landmarks as the Lyceum, the Academy, and the Stoa Poikile at Athens (see Augustan History: Hadrian xxvi.5), although they were not precise copies of these monuments, but followed a Republican tradition established by such men as Cicero, who had an Academy and a Lyceum in his villa at Tusculum. The site was fairly level, but high enough to command views of Rome. The ground fell away to the north-east to form a broad, secluded valley known as the Vale of Tempe. In typical Roman fashion all the elements are a blend of art and nature. Practically every group of buildings is organized around a peristyle garden, ranging from the vast, park-like enclosure of the Poikile (a) to the small and intimate garden in the nymphaeum (b), although little is known of their actual plantings (...

Article

Thorsten Opper

[now Torre Annunziata]

Roman settlement on the seaward slopes of Mt Vesuvius about five km north-west of Pompeii, in what is now Torre Annunziata. The name Oplontis is attested in the Tabula Peutingeriana, a 13th-century copy of an ancient map of the Roman Empire (Vienna, Österreich. Nbib., Cod. 324). Baths were discovered at the locality of Punta Oncino in 1834 while systematic excavations between 1964 and 1984 unearthed two villas and remains of a portico in the nearby area of Mascatelle.

Villa A is a grand residence with origins in the 1st century bc and extended in the Claudian period (mid-1st century ad). It is also known as Villa of Poppaea, after Poppaea Sabina, second wife of the Roman emperor Nero (an amphora inscribed with the name of one of her freedmen was found on the site). The villa was empty and undergoing restoration work at the time of the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in ...

Article

David Hemsoll

revised by Eve D’Ambra

(Rome)

One of Rome’s hills and site of the official imperial residence until the 4th century AD. The hill itself is roughly rectangular with steeply sloping sides and is situated at the centre of the city overlooking the valley of the Forum Romanum to the north-east, with its slightly lower north-western extension, sometimes called the Germalus, rising sharply from near the Tiber. In Roman times the Palatine (Lat. Palatium) was thought to have been the site of the citadel of the legendary king Evander and of the original walled city founded by Romulus; it was certainly inhabited in remote antiquity: the remains of three huts discovered at the western corner date back to the 8th century BC. From around the beginning of the 2nd century BC it became one of the city’s most fashionable districts and was the setting of a number of well-appointed houses belonging to wealthy patricians. Residents during the 1st century BC included Cicero, Mark Antony, and the future emperor Augustus (...

Article

Eve D’Ambra

[Silene]

Roman villa in Libya. The élite of the great city of Leptis Magna built villas along the Tripolitanian coast, and the Villa Sileen, near the village of Khums(Qums) is an excellent example of this type of domestic architecture in North Africa. Discovered in 1974, the villa was inhabited in the 2nd century ...

Article

Eve D’Ambra

Roman Spain consisted of the entire Iberian peninsula, both modern Spain and Portugal. As it is twice as large as Italy, Hispania was viewed as a remote subcontinent with the Pyrenees guarding passage to Europe and the Straits of Gibraltar beckoning to Africa. Its geography, therefore, played a significant role in its historical development, especially in its early contact with Rome during the Punic wars. The landscape exhibits variety in features, such as a high central plateau bounded on three sides by mountain ranges, a narrow coastal plain bordering the Mediterranean, and the Atlantic seaboard. With a climate ranging from Mediterranean to subdesert conditions, agriculture provided a livelihood for its inhabitants (wheat, olives and grapes being the most important products). Its wealth of resources also included metals (gold, silver, iron, copper, lead) that were mined, and the harvest of the sea (especially for the making of garum, a fish sauce considered a delicacy by the Romans)....

Article

In its most general sense, spolia (pl., from Lat. spolium: ‘plunder’) denotes all artifacts re-employed in secondary contexts, from building blocks reused in a wall to pagan gems mounted on a Christian reliquary. It is a matter of debate whether this broad application of the term is justified, or whether it should be restricted to the relatively small subset of reused objects that were taken or ‘stripped’ (like spoils) from their original context, rather than found, purchased, inherited or otherwise acquired by non-violent means. It is likewise debated when the use of spolia should be considered meaningful, if at all. Arnold Esch defined five possible motives for using spolia: convenience, profanation, Christianization, political legitimation and aesthetic attraction. Michael Greenhalgh has argued for reducing the motives to three (at least with regard to marble): pragmatism, aesthetics and ideology; while Finbarr Barry Flood cautioned against reductive interpretations generated by any taxonomy, insisting that reused objects are mutable in meaning and capable of multiple interpretations during their life cycle....

Article

Eugene Dwyer

[puteal]

In its most essential form, a screen-wall or parapet, analogous to a precinct wall, surrounding a taboo place in the Greek and Roman world; also a means of enclosing a well or pit (Lat. puteus) in the earth. One type, a bidental, signified a place struck by lightning, consecrated and enclosed by the priests, where propitiatory offerings were made to the lightning. The puteal Libonis (untraced) was a bidental in the Forum Romanum: it appears on coins as a parapet, circular in plan, adorned with garlands, lyres and the hammer of Vulcan. It is typical of the architectural type commonly employed by both Greeks and Romans as well-heads. Larger well-heads, such as the one found at the Sanctuary of Fortuna Primigenia at Praeneste, sometimes took the form of a circular parapet supporting a monopteros. Alternatively, the well-head or parapet itself was sometimes surrounded by a monopteros or tholos (circular columnar buildings), as in the well (perhaps a ...