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Curiosities of ancient Rome

The world of ancient Romans abounded in a number of amazing curiosities and information. The source of knowledge about the life of the Romans are mainly works left to us by ancient writers or discoveries. The Romans left behind a lot of strange information and facts that are sometimes hard to believe.

Carved into stone wall Mithra killing a bull

Carved into a stone wall Mithra killing a bull; object dated to the 2nd century CE. Mithreum (temple dedicated to the cult of Mithra) is located in the ancient city of Dura Europos on the Euphrates, in present-day Syria, which was at that time on the border between the Roman Empire and the Parthian state.

Ceramic bust from girl’s grave

A ceramic bust from a girl’s grave. The object is dated from the 1st-2nd century CE. The artifact was found in Córdoba, Spain, and is now in the National Archaeological Museum of Madrid.

Reward for winning fight

In the late 2nd century CE, a senatorial decree entered into force allowing gifting the victorious gladiator a reward of 500 sesterces for a fight, if free human and 400 if he was slave. This amount was comparable to the teacher’s annual salary.

Alexander the Great on Roman medallion

Alexander the Great on a Roman medallion from the 3rd century CE. The object was found in Abu Qir, northern Egypt. Alexander was shown wearing a decorated Attic helmet with his head raised, suggesting his divinity.

Exaggerated feasting and vomiting in Roman world

Excessive consumption of food and excess was something the ancient Romans believed should be avoided at all costs. The ideal Roman should be devoted to the gods, his family and homeland, and above all, he should live a simple life and does not demand glory. However, as it always happens, in practice it was different and the Romans, as conquerors of the world, departed from their ideals, e.g. they indulged in boisterous feasts and decadent dishes.

Roman women and ancient business

Women in the Roman world did not have the same position as men; e.g. they could not vote in assemblies or hold public office. On the other hand, they could own land, write their own wills, and testify in court. However, this independence was limited.

Powerful lion on Roman mosaic

A powerful lion on a Roman mosaic. The object was found in Salakta, Tunisia. Dated to the 3rd century CE; currently on display at the Salakta Archaeological Museum.

Persecution of Christians under rule of Decius

The persecution of Christians in ancient Rome – contrary to what is commonly believed – was not of a mass nature. In the 2nd and early 3rd century CE, no document was issued explicitly pointing to the deliberate persecution of Christ’s followers.

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