Questions tagged [ancient-rome]

Ancient Rome was a civilization centred around the city of Rome, that lasted from the 8th century BC to 476 AD (West); 1453 AD (East).

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How did Roman armies survive in the desert?

I'm writing a novel set in the third century. A general is marching his army through the middle of the Syrian Desert. How did Roman armies with tens of thousands of soldiers survive in the arid ...
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Is there any evidence of STD's in ancient times?

Are there any ancient texts that show or imply that their authors knew that certain diseases were spread through sexual activity? It seems like sexual contagion was recognized in the 16th century ...
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Did ancient Romans have a religion that involved a “fish hat”?

This question is related to the Mesopotamian god "Dagon" and how he may have been represented in ancient Rome. According to some sources, gods and goddesses that were worshiped in ancient Mesopotamia ...
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Who kept Roman peculium records?

This is effectively a Roman banking question but specifically with respect to the custody and record keeping of slaves wages. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities indicates a need for a lot of ...
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Were there any conquests that Ancient Rome undertook explicitly to gain control of a natural resource?

Was there ever a case when Rome conquered a territory solely for the purpose of gaining control of a specific resource (spice, ore, timber, etc....)? I'm looking for something backed up by historical ...
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Were Roman public roads built by private companies?

According to a civil engineer (video in Spanish), the Appian way was built as a concession. This is, it was built by a private "company", paid by the state. Unfortunately, Wikipedia is not clear ...
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What happened to all the scholars and scientists of Western Rome during the barbarian invasions?

We know that the dawn of the age of Renaissance and the dusk of the Middle Ages were accelerated by the fall of Byzantine Empire and the transfer of a big chunk of "Ancient Knowledge" from Greece to ...
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Are there any ancient sources clearly testifying a frozen Tiber river in the year 398, 396, 271, and 177 BCE?

Multiple sources, ranging from Wikipedia to journal articles over the years (such as this one), record a series of severe winters which caused the Tiber river to be frozen in the above-listed years. ...
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Was it illegal to blaspheme God in Antioch in 360.-410.?

We know that the Roman Empire became a Christian state. Was it illegal to blaspheme God in Antioch in 360.-410.? What punishment was prescribed (if it was illegal)? If it was punishable, who could ...
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Why, in ancient battles, did being encircled mean defeat?

Why, in ancient battles, did being encircled mean defeat? The classic example of that is the Battle of Cannae, where 80,000 Roman infantry were surrounded by 40,000 Carthaginian infantry. Every ...
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Where did the following reference originally arise from?

In his 1725 work Principi Di Una Scienza Nuova (known in English as The New Science; link to the CUP modern edition), Giambattista Vico wrote that: For Hebrew began and remained the language of a ...
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Question on names in ancient Rome

I'm writing a novel set in 268 AD and the character is called Marcus Piavonius Victorinus, one of the many upstart military emperors during the Crisis of the Third Century. I've heard that by this ...
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Which months were added during the Roman Empire?

I was recently reading a book when I came across a line Two months were added in our calendar today for the Roman empire. I did some research on Wikipedia and concluded three months were added ...
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What was the difference in the minds of the Romans between human sacrifice and gladiator games?

The Romans eventually outlawed human sacrifice to the gods, but gladiator games were practiced until the Roman Empire became Christian. How did the Romans consider the gladiator games different?
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What is the most common calendar for pre-Julian dates?

When I read some date of event that happened before introduction of Julian calendar by Caesar, what calendar that date is more likely to refer? Proleptic Julian calendar or proleptic Gregorian ...
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What was special about ground foods for sacrificial meals?

To avoid repetition, I use 'pabulum' to mean food products ground for sacrificial meals. [Etymonline:] [...] immolare "to sacrifice," originally "to sprinkle with sacrificial meal," from ...
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Why did the scutum fall out of use?

Wikipedia says By the end of the 3rd century the rectangular scutum seems to have disappeared. Why did the rectangular scutum design fall out of use? Why was the shield design not commonly used ...
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What is meaning of 4 letter abbreviations in Roman names like Titus Flavius T. f. T. n. Sabinus?

I am reading about Titus Flavius Sabinus (consul AD 47) and cannot find meaning of T. f. T. n. in his full name as written in Wikipedia, "Titus Flavius T. f. T. n. Sabinus." All I have found is a ...
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Why didn't Caesar move against Sextus Pompey immediately after Munda?

I am very familiar with the story of the Civil war and the various players in it. I have read the sources from Livy, Suetonius, to more modern authors but none has ever answered why Caesar did not ...
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Fermat's statement about the ancients: How serious was he?

I am extremely interested in the idea that there was a period in time when, at least in the west, people looked upon the ancients (Romans/Greeks) as possessors of wisdom that had been lost. Fermat ...
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What territories were lost or abandoned after Trajan?

It is generally acknowledged that the Roman Empire reached its geographical zenith during Trajan's reign. Listening to the highly interesting History of Rome podcast I didn't notice any major ...
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Is this theory on origins of modern-day Romania plausible?

I watched a documentary which basically claims that modern-day Romanians are not the descendants of Rome, but that the Romans and the Romanians share a common ancestor with the same language. One of ...
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Who first published Marcus Aurelius' Meditations?

Marcus Aurelius wrote the famous book of philosophy Meditations while on campaign in Pannonia. The writing was personal and intended for his eyes and reflections for he himself to meditate on and was ...
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Did Ancient China use lead in their food/water industry as much as the Romans?

The Romans used lead a lot. Water pipes might be the most famous, but there were lead plates and lead vessels to prepare food or drink too. Apparently lead was an inevitable byproduct of silver ...
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Did the Greeks and Romans use reputational incentives to induce people to pay more tax?

I read the following tidbit in a monologue here. It sounds interesting and plausible but I couldn't verify it: Let me tell you a little bit about providing people with the opportunity to ...
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Was there a time when it was easier for slaves than citizens to access state-sponsored medical facilities in Ancient Rome?

The Wikipedia article Medicine in Ancient Rome has this to say on the first hospitals in Rome: The Roman medical system saw the establishment of the first hospitals; these were reserved for ...
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Why were gravediggers, actors and former gladiators (but not slaves) banned from the Colosseum?

According the website Colosseum, some people were banned from attending events at the Colosseum. The same information is given on the Wikipedia Colosseum page which cites the book Rome: An Oxford ...
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What sources could Tacitus or Appian have used that have since been lost?

I was fascinated by the announcement of the 'virtual unrolling' of a fire-burned scroll in En-Gedi that has been analysed and found to be part of the book of Leviticus. As the Guardian noted, the ...
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What was the mortality rate of Gladiators?

What proportion of fights ended in deaths? What proportion of gladiators who have fought retire to a safer life? As a theoretical extreme, all fights end in death and all gladiators die in battle. ...
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What was more expensive to lose in a gladiatorial fight: a gladiator or a rare animal?

We know that, aside from man-to-man combat, gladiatorial fights would often pit human gladiators against wild animals. Is there any documented historical evidence that would show what was a bigger ...
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What is the etymological origin of the Marsi, the ancient Italic people?

The English Wikipedia article does not provide any etymological explanations on the demonym. The Italian article, which is marked as "recommended", points the name's origin to the Italic deity Mamerte,...
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When did the Roman consular year begin during the Republic and Empire?

In which month did the Roman consular year begin, and how has this beginning shifted throughout the Roman state's existence? A full list of changes in chronological order would be appreciated. In ...
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What did Flaminius bring to the Greeks?

In Montaigne's essay "Of Cannibals", Montaigne writes: "I know not," said he, "what kind of barbarians" (for so the Greeks called all other nations) "these may be; but the disposition of this ...
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Did ancient Romans anticipate the fall of Rome?

Background: The Fall of Rome The Roman Empire collapsed as a political entity in several stages during the 5th, 6th, and 7th century CE. Specifically, these are: the crossing of the Rhine by the ...
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How did the Romans mint coins?

I would like to understand how the Romans minted coins. Mining, smelting and refining are no mystery; I can envision ways in which uniform coin-blanks might have been made : but the big problems are (...
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What is the primary source for this quote by Julius Caesar's on Celts and Germans?

I encountered an interesting quote on the English Wikipedia page for Germania some time ago, which seems to have persisted, albeit without citation. I was hoping someone could find a reliable source (...
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Why was the Aeolipile not put to practical use in classical antiquity?

The Aeolipile was a simple mechanical device that generated kinetic energy from steam. Its invention is attributed to the Hero of Alexandria in the 1st century AD. Source: Aeolipile With the ...
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Did the Romans install offensive statues in the temples of conquered territories?

In her book Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation, Princeton professor and religious scholar Elaine Pagels notes that when the Romans conquered a new territory, ...
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What evidence is there of the vision aids people used before the invention of eyeglasses in about 1286?

The Wikipedia article on glasses says ‘scattered evidence exists for use of vision aid devices in Greek and Roman times’ but only cites the example of Nero’s emerald. This article on Magnifying ...
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Formation of underground layers of Rome

I have recently came across several news articles (for example) from various decades, talking about existing underground structures in the city of Rome, which used to be above ground at some point of ...
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Did the Roman Empire have penal colonies?

I've been searching for an answer for a question on Christianity Stack Exchange about the fate of St. John the Apostle. Tradition says he found himself exiled to a Roman penal colony on Patmos. ...
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Did Roman women wear underwear? How did it look?

I must admit I have no expertise in history. My question is inspired by "Rome" TV series (the authors claim that everyday life was shown with relative historical accuracy) and it's about Roman panties....
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What kinds of goods were commonly smuggled in the Roman Empire up to the end of the 3rd century AD?

In April 2012, LIVESCIENCE reported on the discovery of a 3rd century AD ship which sank near Trapani, Sicily. According to the report, Her cargo, officially consisting of assorted jars once ...
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How much were builders of Colosseum paid?

I am currently doing a project on Ancient Rome and was wondering how much the builders of the Colosseum got paid? I understand they were mostly slaves, but were they given anything? Did they also ...
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Where did the Roman money involved in the spice and luxury trade end up?

In the book "The Roman Empire and the Indian Ocean" by McLaughlin, which is a very interesting read, he states that annual bullion going to buy luxuries in India was around 50-100 million sesterces ...
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Where did the money come from to build the Colosseum?

Where did the money come from to finance the building of the Colosseum?
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What name was given to this ancient Roman custom involving a broken pot to show a pact between individuals?

I remember reading of a custom in the Roman Republic where a pact could be sealed between individuals with a broken pot, or wax tablet, whereby the pieces could be later be reassembled to show this ...
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Stonehenge-like olive presses?

What are the olive presses referred to in Gregory S. Aldrete's History of the Ancient World A Global Perspective? It mentions olive presses in North Africa that look so much like Stonehenge they were ...
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Is there any evidence of arachnophobia in ancient history?

Are there any sources that would tell us whether (any) ancient Greeks or Romans were afraid of spiders?
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What was Masada's Roman ramp steep angle?

One thing that puzzled me about the story of Masada, is the ramp for the ram. The angle looked bizarre to me. I suppose it wore out over the years by the harsh winds, and maybe floods, but from ...