How did ancient statues looked like?

Hello my friends! I have definitively decided to take care of my blog, so I try to write a post per day.
Today I’m going to explain an odd topic; in fact, people are used to white, marble and austere Greek and Roman statues. For instance, look at this picture.Bust_of_the_Augustus_Bevilacqua_-_trasparent_background

He is Augustus, the first Roman emperor who founded one of the greatest dominion ever. He looks austere and focused on something; moreover, there are no colors. The truth of the matter is that ancient Roman and Greek statues were brightly coloured, but these colours disappeared with the passing of the time. When these works of art were discovered during the Middle Age and the Reinassance, people believed that Romans didn’t paint their statues on purpose, and this belief was passed to artists like Donatello, Michelangelo and Bernini, who made only white statues. 1_Bernini_ModelfortheLionontheFourRiversFountain_SideView1_RomeThat convinction still holded out during Neoclassicism between XVII and XIX century. Even Johann Winckelmann (1717 – 1768), one of the greatest art historian of that period, stated that ancient statues were purposely left white by their sculptors.
Fortunately, thanks to chemistry, scientists have discovered that there were residua of natural colorings on statues. Interestingly, Vinzenz Brinkmann, a German classical archaeologist, started to make gypsum copies of ancient statues, in order to colour them as they could look 2,000 years ago. And the results are astonishing!


The Trajan’s Market

Hello everyone! It’s a long time since I’ve written the last article. I’m sorry for that but I was studying for an exam at my university and now I’m in Rome, visiting the best monuments in the world!
I would like to speak about the first mall in the world. In fact people strongly believe that malls are North – American modern inventions, but that’s not true! As always, Romans came up with a place where people could trade all different kinds of goods. In particular Trajan, one of the best Roman emperors, who built the Trajan’s Market in Rome. Trajan charged one of the most important architect of the Ancient Age, Apollodorus of Damascus, with building the Market. It was built in 100 – 110 AC and then inaugurated in 113 AC. I think it should be appointed as the first mall ever because there are a lot of small street shops in a covered building made of bricks and stone.
storia_slideshowThere’s an interesting question anyway: why did Trajan want to build a mall?
The answer is simple: at that time Rome had one million people and it was really difficult to supply it. That’s why Trajan firstly charged Apollodorus of Damascus with building a new harbour in Ostia, which is a city on the Tyrrhenian sea, close to Rome. A lot of ships loaded with wheat travelled from Egypt, Morocco and Libia to Ostia, in order to supply the ever – hungry city. All these ships unloaded their burdens in Ostia, where carriages departed to Rome everyday.
Afterward, Trajan wanted to build the Market so that it could have been possible to deal food and any other stuff out. Thanks to the new harbour and the Market, the 1 million people of Rome knew that there was food everyday. Considering that we are talking about a period of 2000 years ago, I think it should be considered a cutting – edge idea. Moreover, this is another proof of the Ancient Romans’ organization.

In the end, I believe that nowadays – rulers should adopt and consider how to deal with public services and organization.

Roman roads

The first thing I want to say: sorry. Sorry because it’s a long time since I’ve written my last article about the ancient Roman culture. I had many exams to do at university and I moved to Vancouver, where I’m going to stay until September. I promise that I’ll write every week! 🙂

Roman road near Vulci

Today I am going to speak about a very strange topic: roads. Romans were not only brave warriors, smart generals and cunning politicians. They were also builders and they left to us many buildings like forums, temples and… roads. Yes. Romans needed roads, not only to improve trades, but also to move troops quickly from a region to another. But let’s talk from the beginning.
At first roads were built spontaneously and they were called for their city of destination (via Ardeatina), for the function (via Salaria, which was used to sell the marine salt) or the population interested by the road (via Latina). In the V century BC there were built new roads, in order to sustain the Roman expansion in Italy. These roads were called by the name of the magistrate who wanted them (via Appia, which took its name from the consul Appius Claudius). When Romans started to conquer the regions outside Italy, the first thing they did was building roads. Why? Because they could move their army quickly in case of rebellion, especially where Romans were just arrived. Roads were built by soldiers, and thanks to them the empire experienced a very long period of peace and prosperity.
How did they built roads? Into a ditch was dumped large amounts of rubble, gravel, sand and stone. When it came to within 1 m or so of the surface it was covered with gravel and tamped down, a process called pavire, or pavimentare. The flat surface was then the pavimentum. It could be used as the road, or additional layers could be constructed. A statumen or “foundation” of flat stones set in cement might support the additional layers.
The final steps utilized concrete, which the Romans had discovered. They seem to have mixed the mortar and the stones in the ditch. First a small layer of coarse concrete, the rudus, then a little layer of fine concrete, the nucleus, went onto the pavement or statumen. Into or onto the nucleus went a course of polygonal or square paving stones, called the summa crusta. The crusta was crowned for drainage. The roads were about 6 m large, in order to let
These buildings were thought to last for a long time, and today is possible to see many roads throughout Europe. Romans preferred to engineer solutions to obstacles rather than circumvent them. In fact they were able to built bridges, tunnels and roads on swamps. Some of these buildings are so well – built that they are used still nowadays.

Road map
I would like to finish with an explanation of a proverb: “all roads lead to Rome“. Is that true? Yes, for sure, because, thanks to these roads, Romans were able to reach the capital city wherever. The empire had in fact more than 80.000 km of roads, from Britain to the Middle East, from Egypt to Germany. They were not only safe, because they were always patrolled by soldiers, but also fast to go through, because they were covered by stone and there were also mail stations, in which travellers could have a rest and change their horses.

To conclude, Roman roads are one of the most significant heritage from the classical world. They were used for millennia and nowadays a lot of modern roads simply cover the previous Roman track.

the Trajan’s column



The Trajan’s column is a Roman triumphal column. It has been built in 113 AD in order to celebrate the Roman emperor Trajan, after his victory over the Dacian people. Apollodorus of Damascus, one of the most famous architect of the Ancient time, has probably contributed to the work.

It is about 35 meters (125 ft), including the basement. The monument is famous for its continuos friezes, which have a spiral movement from the bottom to the top.

The scenes represent the phases of the Dacian war, from the fording of the Danube river to the capture of the capital city Sarmizegetusa Regia and the suicide of the Dacian king Decebalo.

The emperor Trajan wanted to celebrate himself and the empire. He appears 59 times but he has not any kind of divine qualities. He was depicted as he was, one of the best Roman emperor, who ruled very well thanks to his wisdom and innate attitude to the command.

Furthermore, this work has marked a turning point in the Roman art. Before the Column, Roman artists were conditioned by Hellenism, while this masterpiece changed how Romans represented their stories. In fact, not only the soldiers, but also the emperor is depicted in a realistic way, according to the Plebeian style. In addition, the scenes are engraved item by item, as if the mysterious artist followed the emperor during his campaigns. In fact, the friezes contain a lot of details, such as armors, leafeages, camps and strongholds. Another point which is worth – highlighting is the fact that symbolic and supernatural elements are absent apart from the personification of the Danube river, which is depicted as a bearded god who encouraged the Roman army to wade across himself. For instance, it stands out an image of the emperor who is talking to his commander Lucius Licinius Sura. Here Trajan is speaking in a really human way, revealing a close relationship with his subordinate.

The Trajan column, due to its features, has influenced a lot of other monuments, for example the Columns of Marcus Aurelius, Teodosius, Arcadius and Justinian in the late Roman empire. But it has conditioned also modern works of art, such as the Vendome column of Napoleon in Paris, the Congress column of Brussels and the Washington monument in Baltimora.