Roma--Palazzo Massimo and Baths of Diocletian

I am clearly very behind since we visited the theater during a walk through Rome over a week ago, but it has been busy! Anyhow, now I will finally post about the the Palazzo Massimo and the Baths of Diocletian. 

The tickets for these 2 museums are part of a 10 euro pass that also includes the Crypta Balbi and something else I can't remember. Best 10 euro I have spent in a long while. The layout of the museum is fabulous and the inscriptions in the baths are awesome. Of course, if you don't read Latin, they aren't all that exciting, but seeing as Max and I do read Latin... Anyhow, we spent over 6 hours in the two museums and did not finish at the Baths. Too. Much. Epigraphical.Awesome.

Let's begin at the Massimo: On the top floor, they have wall paintings from various villas that were discovered around Rome. In a number of the instances, they attempted to reconstruct the paintings on rooms or within structures of the size and shape of the original space. This first is from the villa of Livia where the Prima Porta was also found. The room in which the paintings were found (almost entirely intact) was subterranean. The colors and detail of the wild life is unbelievable. The opulence of the space is highlighted by the extensive use of blue paint (very pricey). The room shows a garden space, including a garden wall and plant and animal life that lived outside of the garden proper.

Note the work at the top that would have curved over the entire vaulted ceiling. Modest living in Rome, opulent living in the countryside.

The tree is obviously sideways, but I wanted to give a detail shot of the artistry of the painter.

Nothing says "Rest in Peace" more than some pygmies fighting crocodiles with pee on your tomb.

This and the next image come from a wonderful display of frescoes from the Villa Farnesina, an Augustan aged villa that was unearthed in Trastevere (in Rome) in the late 19th century. 

A bedroom scene from one of the bedrooms in the Villa Farnesina. Notice how the slaves are looking away as if they don't see. Arguments have been made that part of the thrill of sexual activity among the elite in Rome was the voyeuristic aspect. Slaves, in theory, were non-people and so weren't really there, but they actually were there and could (and probably did) watch. 

The Massimo abounds with pygmy scenes. This is one of a few--pygmies fighting evil hippopotami and crocodiles.

The crouching Aphrodite an I share a stomach. 

Anyone know who this is? 

Now guess again...

These are bronze fitting from the rudders from one of  the Nemi ships, a richly ornate "pleasure ship" that likely belonged to the emperor Caligula.   

This is a statue of Pan...

But on closer inspection, you see that it is really a statue of an actor playing Pan.

Extravagant sarcophagus of a Roman general defeating barbarians. Who is this famous Roman leader? And what war did he wage against the evil barbarians?

Who knows!? The sarcophagus seems to have been a stock piece that one could buy and have their face added to .

You can also add your wife, once you have one...

Dicing was popular in Rome...

But you should clearly always bring your own dice.

This is the tomb marker for a Hellenized Jew in Rome. The multi-cultural interchange on this simple piece is astounding. Tragic masks, Greek text, images of Jewish menorah, shofar, and lulav with "shalom" rendered in Hebrew as well. Just awesome.

A favorite early Christian image is the Jesus-in-a-Box! Also known as Christ Resurrected. One of the things I found interesting about the 3rd and 4th century images of Jesus found on tombs is the exclusive focus on either the fish or on the resurrection image. No crosses, only the Chi/Rho. The body shape of the resurrected Christ, however, is nearly identical to what one sees when he is later moved to the cross and becomes the Dying Christ that decorated Christian churches across the world today. The shift in focus from resurrection to death is an interesting moment to me and reflects, I think, a shift in theological and dogmatic concerns. But I am not an early Christian scholar, so take it as my hunch, not the truth.

There is so much more to post. I just picked some favorites. I also didn't even post up the Ostia pics, which are pretty great. It is a wonderful site. And then there is the trip to Crete (Knossos is disappointing, I must say). 

More Roma (though I am now in Hellas)

I am behind, I know. This always happens. But yesterday was a travel day to Athens followed by getting situated at the American School and attending a talk and reception in honor of Blegen (it was a full day symposium, but we were not here for most of it). Anyway, I wanted to recount a wonderful walking tour given me by my significant other through Rome from Monti back to the Centro (on the Gianicolo Hill). We began with lunch at a little restaurant called the Asino d'oro (Golden Ass) and then walked by Trajan's column and Marcellus' theater (in the Campus Martius) and through the Jewish Ghetto and meandered past the Pantheon where Bernini's little elephant is located. He is such a cute little elephant. I highly recommend the restaurant and the walk. And, of course, the little elephant.

My first picture of Trajan's column without scaffolding on it!

Detail of the column. 10th ring shoes a tortoise shell formation.

Forum of Trajan--I didn't take a pic of the market because I already have an older one from before they started reusing the building (and so minus the AC units).

Massimo at the Theater of Marcellus with the Temple of Apollo Sosianus to the right. 

I don't know what this is particularly, but it seems to be some sort of mark/symbol that uses the city walls with the imperial eagle in the middle. If anyone has the details on this, I would love to hear it.

The Portico of Octavia with a number of layers of repurposing and building evident.

Totally fake "ancient" art embedded in the walls of a shop in the Jewish ghetto.

Me at the turtle fountain. Note that I am not wearing the same clothed I was wearing in the previous posts. Because my luggage finally came that morning. I did still go with comfortable, though. I was not cheerful enough to bust out the dresses.


I desperately want one of these for my house/office/every room. Note that they also come in rhinoceros. 

These inscription are on a church by the pantheon (and next to the little elephant!) that mark the various flood levels of the Tiber prior to the building of the flood wall. I think (though can't be sure because the dating is weird, that the oldest inscription is in the bottom left).

Next up will be the journey to the Palazzo Massimo and the Baths of Diocletian. Epigraphical Fun Fest. So much so that my fully charged camera battery died. The Massimo is an exceptionally well laid out museum and the inscription at the bath's are phenomenal.  After that, we get to Greece, though there is little here I can post pics of since most of my photos are for "official" purposes. BUT! I am planning a trip to Eleusis and to Crete, so I'll log that. 

Rome--the Vatican Museum

There is so much to see and do in Rome and so little time. Today, I'll put up some of my favorite images from the Vatican Museum and then tomorrow, I'll post highlights from my walking tour of the city. Day after, I'll try to hit Ostia and then onto Athens! Needless to say, despite being in Rome, many of my favorite things to see have been Greek. The Vatican has some of the most well-known Attic vase images in their collection and that collection is not heavily trafficked--for shame!

Me and my girl--though forgive that I had been wearing that outfit for nearly 4 days straight--luggage did finally arrive Tuesday.

One of the most awesome statue groups ever--Roman copy of the Athena and Marsyas. Just think about how many ways this is awesome because of who Athena is and who Marsyas is and then look at Athena's body language.  It gets even more awesome then.

This is a construction scene from a famous freedman's tomb. It shows the construction of the actual tomb. Look at the little hamsters in the wheel!

Kalos/kale vase in which the amazon is kale. 

Just in case you couldn't see it, note the "kale" above her head. 

The argument for reading vase imagery ethically instead of as reflections of real life--flute girl holds man's head as he vomits.

This vase by Exekias is famous as a paradigm for dozens of knock-off images of Achilles and Ajax playing (sometimes with Athena on the background, but not until after the Cleisthenic reforms).

THe close-ip of Ajax's cloak, though, tells you why this is the paradigm and rightly famous. LOOK AT THAT DETAIL!


On Sunday (my first full day back in Rome), I went to a museum I have never seen, the Montemartini. It is one of the coolest museum spaces I have ever seen. It is an old power plant that now houses part of the Capitoline Museum collection. In addition to having some very beautiful pieces, the juxtaposition of the ancient and modern, mechanical and artistic, is very compelling. Here are a few images to show you what I mean:

As I said, very cool. And here are just a few more of my favorite pieces from the museum.

Me with a giant head of Fortuna (probably). I have needed a little fortuna this week.

Graver Stele for a young boy who had won a poetry competition just before dying. His parents had the winning poem inscribed on the tomb.

Sadly, my camera battery died and I was not able to take pictures at the Capitoline. Such is life.

The Summer Invasion

As with last year, I will here record my adventures abroad as I make my way through another summer slog researching my beloved Greeks. 

This year's barbarian invasion includes a week in Roma followed by time in Athens and Crete. The journey began a little bit questionably given that the Romans were trying their best to keep me out--flight delay, touch and go on being re-routed, a side-trip through Madrid, and an additional seven hours of travel time--and have spent the last couple of days trying to keep me unarmed (i.e. without my luggage). But, the luggage is due to be delivered within the hour and all will be well. 

This summer's work includes work on some tombstones at various museums (can't post those images here) and a visit to Eleusis and Knossos. I started, however, with trips to the Museo della Centrale Montemartini and Capitoline museums and Vatican museums in Roma. Once I finish up some work, I'll start with shots from the Montemartini and Capitoline. Sadly, my camera battery was not fully charged and died while in the Capitoline. I recharged it for the Vatican, though. Those shots will come later.