The new Mayor of the city of Rome, Ignazio Marino, just announced his intention to destroy one of the city’s central roads, the Via dei Fori Imperiali, and turn the area around the old Roman Forum into the world’s largest archaeological park. Reactions have ranged from commuters’ groans to declarations from classicists that this single act proves the nobility of the human species.
This curious range of reactions seems the perfect moment for me to discuss something I have intended to talk about for some time: the shape of the City of Rome itself. We all know the long, rich history of the Roman people, and the city’s importance as the center of an empire, and thereafter as the center of the memory of that empire, whose echo, long after its end, still so defines Western concepts of power, authority and peace. What I intend to discuss instead is the geographic city, and how its shape and layers grew gradually and constantly, shaped by famous events, but also by the centuries you won’t hear much about in a traditional history of the city. The different parts of Rome’s past left their fingerprints on the city’s shape in far more direct ways than one tends to realize, even from visiting and walking through the city. Rome’s past shows not only in her monuments and ruins, but in the very layout of the streets themselves…
It’s a fascinating and informative post.
Professor Mark Noll from the University of Notre Dame:
Spanning one-ninth of the earth’s circumference across three continents, the Roman Empire ruled a quarter of humanity through complex networks of political power, military domination and economic exchange. These extensive connections were sustained by premodern transportation and communication technologies that relied on energy generated by human and animal bodies, winds, and currents.
Conventional maps that represent this world as it appears from space signally fail to capture the severe environmental constraints that governed the flows of people, goods and information. Cost, rather than distance, is the principal determinant of connectivity.
For the first time, ORBIS allows us to express Roman communication costs in terms of both time and expense. By simulating movement along the principal routes of the Roman road network, the main navigable rivers, and hundreds of sea routes in the Mediterranean, Black Sea and coastal Atlantic, this interactive model reconstructs the duration and financial cost of travel in antiquity.
Taking account of seasonal variation and accommodating a wide range of modes and means of transport, ORBIS reveals the true shape of the Roman world and provides a unique resource for our understanding of premodern history.
It covers the Byzantine world too.
The model consists of 751 sites, most of them urban settlements but also including important promontories and mountain passes, and covers close to 10 million square kilometers (~4 million square miles) of terrestrial and maritime space. 268 sites serve as sea ports. The road network encompasses 84,631 kilometers (52,587 miles) of road or desert tracks, complemented by 28,272 kilometers (17,567 miles) of navigable rivers and canals…
Check it out here.
The British Library has created and made available an Excel spreadsheet listing all the manuscripts they have online, with the URL. You can read more about it and access it here.
There was a whole colony of them, they built their houses and it seems set them around a small temple, at least according to the papyri.
In the Jerusalem Post:
… The temple itself was small, in fact only half of it remained, but it had a fine tile floor in two layers, indicating that the first had been destroyed and then replaced. It stood in a courtyard of fine plasterwork, while the houses only had crude mud floors. So this was the temple, and the papyri were true…
Father Thomas Byles
(Leamington Courier) Sir Frank Whittle was just one of the interesting characters who went to school at Binswood Hall, currently being transformed into an Audley retirement village.
Former pupils of Leamington College included a priest, Father Thomas Rousell Davids Byles (1870-1912). Father Thomas read maths, modern history and theology at Oxford University and then trained as a Catholic priest. When his younger brother who was living in America asked him to officiate at his wedding ceremony he jumped at the chance and made arrangements to travel to New York.
He was scheduled to travel on another White Star liner, but switched at the last minute to the Titanic. He is widely reported as having held a mass prayer for passengers aboard the ship as it went down, offering solace to passengers, hearing confessions and giving absolution…
Link: Priest who saved souls on Titanic
The Vatican Apostolic Library has uploaded 265 digitalised manuscripts as a part of an ongoing project to digitalise all of its invaluable manuscripts.