There’s no particular reason to put online this drawing by Graham Sumner, except for the best reason of all: that I like it. What you see is the Roman naval base at Velsen, just west of Amsterdam, which was in use during the reign of the emperor Tiberius. It is almost certainly identical to the fort named Flevum mentioned by Tacitus. You can read more about it here, or in Edge of Empire.
You can order Edge of Empirehere.
The city of Tyre is in southern Lebanon on the Mediterranean coast. It is one of the oldest cities in the World. It used to be an island over 2,000 years ago. Now, it is a peninsula… a man-made peninsula. This was done with a bit of help from Alexander the Great and mother nature.
In ancient times, the island city of Tyre was heavily fortified (with defensive walls 150 feet (46 m) high) and the mainland settlement, originally called Ushu (later called Palaetyrus, meaning “Old Tyre,” by the Greeks) was actually more like a line of suburbs than any one city and was used primarily as a source of water and timber for the main island city.
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In ancient Rome, prominent individuals could fall victim to the ultimate punishment of damnatio memoriae, a curse on their memory by senatorial decree. One famous victim was the short-lived emperor Geta (r. 211), whose statues were smashed and whose name was removed from inscriptions and documents after he had been murdered by his brother and co-ruler, Caracalla. Even a tondo from Egypt, showing the imperial family in happier days, sports a conspicuous gap where the face of the young ruler used to be.
• Friedrich Vittinghoff, Der Staatsfeind in der römischen Kaiserzeit. Untersuchungen zur „damnatio memoriae“ (Berlin 1936)
• Eric Varner, Mutilation and Transformation: Damnatio Memoriae and Roman Imperial Portraiture (Leiden – Boston 2004)
• Harriet I. Flower, The Art of Forgetting: Disgrace and Oblivion in Roman Political Culture (Chapel Hill, NC 2006)
• Florian Krüpe, Die Damnatio memoriae. Über die Vernichtung von Erinnerung. Eine Fallstudie zu Publius…
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Boudica is the Queen of the British Iceni tribe who led a revolt against the Romans in 60 AD.
Her husband, the original ruler, was an ally with Rome.
When he died, Boudica took over.
Yet the Romans did not respect a female ruler and decided that this would be the ideal time to annex her kingdom.
Boudica was publicly humiliated (flogged) and her daughters were raped.
Yet the Iceni people had a strong amount of respect for their queen.
With her people behind her, Boudica led a revolt against the Romans that would go down in history.
So, here it finally is: the cover of Edge of Empire. Rome’s Frontier on the Lower Rhine. The book is about the Roman occupation of the Low Countries – say Belgium, Netherlands and northern Germany – and contains every relevant literary text, the more interesting inscriptions, and a lot of archaeological information. Basically, my coauthor Arjen Bosman and I use the archaeological data to illustrate that all sources are prejudiced about the people living on the edge of the earth; at the same time, we try to show that you cannot interpret archaeological finds without a profound understanding of textual analysis.
The book has a history of its own. I wrote it in 1999 and it was published in 2000. The reviews were extremely favorable and it was recommended to university students. However, there was a quarrel within the publishing house, and the woman whose project it had…
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“Other animals become sated with venereal pleasures,” Pliny the Elder remarked in his Natural History; “man hardly knows any satiety”. As a case in point, he told a story about Messalina, the wife of the Roman Emperor Claudius, who challenged a prostitute to a contest in sexual stamina, “and outdid her, after continuous intercourse, night and day, at the twenty-fifth embrace”.
The historian Tacitus and the biographer Suetonius tell similar tales about the empress’s rampant sexual behaviour, portraying a woman who was completely out of the control of her imperial husband. Messalina was eventually executed after Claudius found out that she had married another man and was plotting to overthrow him… At least, that is the story preserved in the ancient sources. Whatever the truth may have been, Messalina was certainly described in the blackest terms possible by male authors who abhorred independent-minded women with desires of their own.
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‘Important’ Roman site found at Llanedwen, Anglesey
Archaeological work on the banks of the Menai Strait has revealed evidence of what has been described as “a Roman site of some importance”.
The site at Llanedwen, Anglesey, revealed “an unusual amount of high status material, suggesting a Roman site with links to the military”.
The Gwynedd Archaeological Trust says road works and a honeycomb of buildings were found, but no defensive ditches.
Pottery and coins found were also discovered at the site.
The works at Trefarthen was funded by historic monuments agency Cadw.
Artefacts have yet to be analysed but it is believed they show the military site was in use from the 1st Century shortly after the Roman invasion through to the end of the 4th Century.
The site is located opposite Caernarfon, which is home to Segontium, a major part of the Roman military presence in Wales.
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