1-19 of 19 results  for:

  • CE 500–1000 x
  • Ancient Rome x
Clear all

Article

Judith McKenzie, Gordon Campbell, R. R. R. Smith, Wiktor A. Daszewski, A. H. Enklaar, Dominic Montserrat, C. Walters, Wladyslaw B. Kubiak, Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

Egyptian city situated on the Mediterranean coast west of the delta of the River Nile, capital of Egypt from c. 320 bc to ad 642, seaport and centre of ancient Greek culture.

Judith McKenzie

Alexandria was founded in 331 bc by Alexander, on the site of the small Egyptian settlement of Rhakotis. Its location, with access by canal to the River Nile, enabled it to become an important and highly prosperous trading centre, and by c. 320 bc Alexandria was the capital of Ptolemaic Egypt. During Ptolemaic times (304–30 bc) it became a major centre of learning, with famous scholars of literature, mathematics, astronomy, medicine and geography, and it played a major role in the transmission of Greek culture to the East.

With the defeat of the last Ptolemaic monarch, Cleopatra VII (51–30 bc), by Octavian (later called Augustus) at the Battle of Actium in 30...

Article

Anjar  

Hafez K. Chehab

[Andjar, ‛Anjar, ‛Ayn al-Jarr]

Late Antique and early Islamic settlement in the Beqa‛a Valley of Lebanon, 56 km east of Beirut. Excavations since 1953 have revealed a cardinally orientated rectangular enclosure (370×310 m) with dressed stone walls. Each side has regularly spaced half-round towers and a central gate. Two colonnaded avenues intersecting at right angles under a tetrapylon link the gates, a plan recalling that of Roman foundations in the Levant and in North Africa. Within the enclosure are the remains of two palaces and the foundations of three others in stone and hard mortar, as well as a mosque, two baths (one paved with mosaics) and a well. The western area has streets intersecting at right angles and housing units with private courts, and the eastern area has open fields beyond the palaces and mosque. The construction of the greater palace in alternating courses of stone and brick is a technique well known in Byzantine architecture. Reused architectural elements from the Roman and early Christian periods, some bearing Greek inscriptions, are found all over the site. A large quantity of archivolts and mouldings, carved with vegetal, geometrical and figural motifs, was found among the ruined palaces. Texts suggest that Anjar was founded in the time of the Umayyad caliph al-Walid (...

Article

M. Rautmann, Katherine M. D. Dunbabin and Mine Kadiroğlu

[now Antakya]

Greek and Roman city on the River Orontes in south-east Turkey (ancient Syria), which flourished from c. 300 bc to the 7th century ad.

Its advantageous site on the edge of the Amuk Plain at the foot of Mt Silpius, commanding important trade routes linking Anatolia with Palestine and the Mediterranean with inland Syria, attracted the attention of Seleukos I (reg 305–281 bc), who founded the city (c. 300 bc) as the capital of his Syrian empire. With its port at Seleucia and residential suburb at Daphne, Antioch prospered as capital of the Roman province of Syria from 64 bc. The city enjoyed the attentions of Roman benefactors from Julius Caesar onwards and attained the height of its prosperity during the 2nd to the 7th century ad, becoming the diocesan capital of Oriens. Its influence was particularly strong in early Christian affairs: Paul and Barnabas were active at Antioch, while Peter was regarded as its first bishop. ...

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

Bitolj  

Srdjan Djurić

[Bitola; Herakleia Lynkestis; Turk. Manastir, Monastir]

Town on the Pelagonian plain in the Republic of Macedonia, at the foot of Mt Pelister. The ancient city of Herakleia Lynkestis, strategically situated on the River Siva Reka, 3 km south of Bitolj, was probably founded by Philip II of Macedon (reg 359–336 bc). Under Roman rule from 148 bc, it became a major military and commercial centre on the Via Egnatia and continued to flourish throughout the early Byzantine period until the settlement of the Slavs in the late 6th century ad. In the 5th and 6th centuries Herakleia was also an important ecclesiastical see. The site was excavated in 1935–8 and 1957–80, and 14 early Byzantine mosaic floors were uncovered. The sculptural and archaeological finds from the site are kept in Bitolj (Archaeol. Mus.), Skopje (Archaeol. Mus. Macedonia) and Belgrade (N. Mus.).

Only the western part of the site has been explored, revealing six buildings, including the Roman theatre (2nd century ...

Article

Carmela Vircillo Franklin

(b Berlin, Aug 18, 1911; d Cambridge, MA, Sept 6, 2006).

German historian of antiquity and the Middle Ages, active also in Italy and America. Bloch was trained at the University of Berlin under the historian of ancient Greece Werner Jaeger, art historian Gerhart Rodenwaldt and medievalist Erich Caspar from 1930 until 1933, when the rise of National Socialism convinced him to move to Rome. There he received his tesi di laurea in ancient history in 1935 and his diploma di perfezionamento in 1937. He then participated in the excavations at Ostia, Rome’s ancient port, which was an important site in the revival of Italian archaeology under Fascism. At the outbreak of World War II, he immigrated to the USA, and began his teaching career in 1941 at Harvard University’s Department of Classics, where he remained until his retirement in 1982. His experience of totalitarianism shaped both his personal and professional beliefs.

Bloch applied a deep knowledge of epigraphy, history and material culture, art history, literary and archival sources to his research and he had a propensity for uncovering the significance of new or neglected evidence. One such area was Roman history. His first publications, on ancient Rome’s brick stamps (many of which he discovered ...

Article

Butrint  

T. F. C. Blagg

[It. Butrinto; anc. Gr. Bouthroton; Lat. Buthrotum]

Site in southern Albania, set on a hill beside a coastal lagoon connected to the sea by a natural channel. The city flourished in Greek, Roman, and Byzantine times. Excavation and display of its extensive and deserted remains, begun by the Italians in 1928, have been continued by Albanian archaeologists; finds are displayed in the site museum (renovated 1988) and in the National Historical Museum, Tiranë. It was probably a colony of Kerkyra (Corfu), from which its site is visible. Earliest occupation on the hilltop is shown by Corinthian pottery of the 7th–6th centuries bc and a wall of polygonal masonry, rebuilt in the 5th century bc. By the following century the expanding city required new walls, which survive up to 9 m high and include the Lion Gate, named after the Archaic relief reused as its lintel (6th century bc). Butrint became a centre for the surrounding Epirot people, the ...

Article

Simon P. Ellis

Ruined city on the North African coast at the end of a narrow peninsula pointing into the Bay of Tunis. Now an archaeological site at the edge of Tunis itself, Carthage was founded, according to legend, by the Phoenician queen Elyssa in 814 bc. It became a major Mediterranean power until its destruction by the Romans in 146 bc. Carthage flourished as a Roman city, Christianity reaching it by the 2nd century ad. The city was revived by Emperor Justinian, but it was finally destroyed by the Arabs in ad 698.

For later history see Tunis.

In the 6th and 5th centuries bc the city’s interventions in disputes between the Greek and Phoenician city states of Sicily made Carthage the leading western Phoenician colony, and it formed a close alliance with the Etruscans. From the 5th century bc the Carthaginians spread into the African hinterland, eventually controlling the area that is today the northern half of Tunisia. They also concluded three alliances with the newly emergent power of Rome. Further conflict in Sicily, however, precipitated (...

Article

Term for one of the dated series of ivory diptychs (a hinged pair of oblong panels) that were issued by consuls of the Roman Empire on their succession to office. The earliest surviving consular diptych is that of Flavius Felix, consul of the West in ad 428 (one leaf survives in Paris, Bib. N., Cab. Médailles); the series ended c. ad 541, when the Byzantine emperor Justinian I (reg 527–65) abolished the civil consulate. One side of each diptych panel was carved, usually with the name, cursus honorum (list of offices), and likeness of the official in question, which provide chronological, prosopographical, and ideological information. Many of these diptychs were later used for Christian purposes.

J. Osborne: ‘A Drawing of a Consular Diptych of Anastasius (A.D. 517) in the Collection of Cassiano dal Pozzo’, Echos Monde Class., 35/10 (1991), pp. 237–42C. Bertelli: ‘Un dittico “Longobardo”’, Acta ad archaeologicam et artium historiam pertinentia...

Article

T. F. C. Blagg

[anc. Gr. Epidamnos, Lat. Dyrrachium; It. Durrazzo; now Durrës, Albania.]

Site on the Adriatic coast, approximately 30 km west of Tiranë, Albania. It was founded as Epidamnos, as a colony of Corinth and Corfu, in 627 bc, and when the name Dyrrhachion first appeared in the 5th century bc it may have referred only to the port, 5 km north of the walled city. In 437 bc a violent uprising led indirectly, through the involvement of Corfu and Athens, to the Peloponnesian War. In the late 3rd century bc the city became part of the Illyrian kingdom of Glaukias. As Dyrrachium, it remained a free city after the Roman conquests of Macedonia and Epiros (167 bc); as the starting-point for the Via Egnatia (ad 148), the Roman road from the Adriatic to Byzantium, it developed as an important trade and communications centre. The cosmopolitan character of its medieval history reflects its continued strategic significance. It remained a Byzantine stronghold from the 4th century ...

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

Ephesos  

Thorsten Opper, M. Rautmann, Anton Bammer, Ulrike Muss and Mark Whittow

[Ephesus.]

Site of an important Classical city on the west coast of Turkey, c. 2 km south-west of modern Selçuk. It has been occupied since perhaps as early as the 10th century bc, and its Late Classical Temple of Artemis (Artemision), built on the site of an earlier temple from the Archaic period, was regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

M. Rautmann

According to Greek tradition, Ephesos was founded in the 10th century bc by Ionian settlers near the mouth of the River Cayster. From the mid-6th century bc it was ruled successively by the Lydians, Croesus of Lydia extending the unfortified city inland, and the Persians. It was conquered by Alexander the Great in 334 bc, and throughout antiquity Ephesos was an important trading centre, its prestige enhanced by the construction of the colossal Temple of Artemis (6th century bc, rebuilt 4th century bc) on the plain to the north-east of the city. In the early ...

Article

Gerasa  

M. Rautmann and J. M. C. Bowsher

[anc. Antioch-on-the-Chrysorrhoas; now Jerash]

Ancient city in Jordan, set in the hills of Gilead c. 45 km north of Amman. It flourished from the 2nd century bc to the 7th century ad; the site is in the modern town of Jerash. Founded by Antiochos IV of Syria (reg 175–164 bc), Gerasa first rose to importance as Antioch-on-the-Chrysorrhoas during Hellenistic and Roman times. Its location between Pella and Philadelphia ensured its continued prosperity as one of the cities of the Decapolis in Roman Syria. Gerasa’s shift to the new province of Arabia in ad 106 sparked its greatest urban flourishing, which continued until its capture by the Persians in ad 614 and the Arabs around ad 635. Although ancient Gerasa remained occupied until the 8th century ad, it was devastated by a major earthquake c. ad 746, and later sources suggest that it was abandoned. The site was discovered in 1806 by the German traveller ...

Article

Gortyn  

Antonino Di Vita and Dimitris Tsougarakis

Site of a city on the northern edge of the Mesara Plain in southern Crete, c. 6 km north-east of Moíres, which flourished c. 700 bcad 670. The westernmost of the hills enclosing it to the north served as its acropolis, where, following Neolithic occupation, there was a Bronze Age settlement after the 13th century bc. The acropolis is separated from the hills to the east by the River Mitropolianos, the course of which also divided the Greco-Roman and Byzantine city into two unequal parts. Excavations were begun by Federico Halbherr in 1884 and were continued by the Italian Archaeological Mission in Crete and from 1912 onwards by the Italian Archaeological School in Athens.

Antonino Di Vita

The most significant late Bronze Age (c. 1580–c. 1100 bc) remains from the area derive from the rural villa of Kannia, to the south-west of modern Mitropolis, which comprised 30 rooms, including at least four small domestic shrines distinguished by benches and by statuettes and ex-votos of the Minoan goddess. The 50 or so large storage pithoi that were found in many of the rooms and that attest to the villa’s connection with agriculture date from Late Minoan (...

Article

Loukou  

Thorsten Opper

Site of a Roman villa (500 m to the north of the monastery of Loukou) in the ancient region of Thyreatis in the eastern Peloponnese. The recent finds are divided between the archaeological museums of the nearby modern town of Astros and the regional centre Tripolis. Although the villa is not mentioned in the ancient literary sources, the discovery of inscriptions and portrait sculptures (Herodes, Polydeukion) shows that the complex belonged to the family of the famous Athenian sophist Herodes Atticus. Individual sculptures from Loukou, some of them removed to the nearby monastery, were first mentioned by travellers in the early 19th century. Excavations carried out since the 1970s have revealed the nucleus of a richly decorated villa built on a grand scale. The structures uncovered so far stretch over three terraces on different levels. The lowest, to the north of the site, is dominated by a three-aisled basilica-style building with two rows of four columns crowned by composite capitals and a semicircular apse with six statue niches at the western end. The building, which was later converted into a Christian church, is flanked by further rooms of unknown use. A flight of stairs leads to the middle terrace further south. This section of the villa is laid out around a large peristyle with a nymphaeum at the western end and single-storey porticos with ornate mosaic floors (muses, mythological scenes, circus races etc) along the other sides. The centre of the peristyle is surrounded by a wide canal on all sides, which was fed by water from the nymphaeum. Behind the nymphaeum to the west is a further large apsidial room with rectangular side wings. To the east of the peristyle, separated by further rooms and small nymphaea, follows a large garden stadium, while near the south-east corner remains of dining rooms and a heroön dedicated to ...

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

M. Rautmann and Mark Whittow

Greek site in eastern Macedonia overlooking the plain to the east of Mt Pangaios. Originally a Thasian settlement known as Krenides, Philippi received its name on its capture by Philip II of Macedon in 357/356 bc. The Hellenistic city is known only from isolated fragments, including several tombs and a temple; almost all of Philippi’s visible remains date from the Roman and Early Christian periods. Philippi was the first city in Europe where Christianity was preached by St Paul (Acts xvi:8–40). Excavations at the site have been conducted by the French School since the 1920s.

M. Rautmann

The urban plan belongs to that of a Roman military colony; in this form Octavian (reg as Augustus 30 bcad 14) refounded the city in 42 bc to commemorate his victory over Brutus and Cassius on the nearby plain. The key to the city’s prosperity was its location on the Via Egnatia, the course of which underlies the modern highway that bisects the site. Along the south side of this central axis lies the forum, replanned apparently between ...

Article

[Lat. Sirmio]

Peninsula situated at the southern end of Lake Garda, in northern Italy; also the name of the main town at the tip of the promontory. The Romans established an important mansio or station here, between Brescia (Brixia) and Verona, along the imperial route that linked the eastern part of the Empire with the west. From about the 1st century bc Sirmione became popular as a holiday resort for wealthy Romans from Brescia and Verona. At the tip of the peninsula stand the ruins of a Roman villa known as the Grotte di Catullo and mistakenly associated with the poet Catullus (c. 84–c. 54 bc), though he is known to have stayed in Sirmione and praised it in his writing. One of the largest extant Roman villas in northern Italy, it was most likely constructed in the 1st century bc and enlarged in the following century. Fragments of stucco, frescoes, and inscriptions found in the vicinity are conserved in the Antiquarium. The extensive villa complex includes residential quarters, baths, dry storerooms, courtyards, and granaries. In the late Roman and Byzantine periods Sirmione was an important military stronghold and was fortified, almost certainly in the 4th century (when the Christian Church became organized in the area); remains of these fortifications run the length of the peninsula and include the ruins of several towers. The Lombards conquered in ...

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....