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All roads lead to Rome
"All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?" Reg in Monty Python's Life of Brian
The glory days of ancient Rome have long gone, but the ancient Romans continue to influence us to this day. Rome "continues to underpin Western culture and politics," says historian Mary Beard in her best-selling book,SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome. And "we do ourselves a disservice if we fail to take them (the Romans) seriously-and if we close our long conversation with them."
Fortunately here in Canberra, we are continuing this long conversation with the ancient Romans, in the spectacular 'Rome: City Empire' exhibition currently showing at the National Museum of Australia.
Long live the Eternal City The 'Rome: City Empire' exhibition features over 200 objects from the British Museum which capture the grandeur and glory as well as the everyday life of the vast empire that was Rome. From a pre-Roman Etruscan burial urn dating from 900-800 BCE to a statue head of the very first Emperor Augustus made around 30 BCE to a small silver plaque from the 4th century CE found in England and inscribed with the Greek letters for Christ, the 'Rome: City Empire' exhibits showcase over 1000 years of ancient Roman history.
Burial urn from the Alban Hills, Italy. Dated 900-800 BCE.
The exhibition features many objects that showcase Rome's Emperors, military conquests and glories, and the elite society and culture that we often view Rome through. But many of the exhibits also capture everyday life and worship, Rome's far-flung provinces, and the lives of women, children, slaves, gladiators, and foreigners-the people who usually don't have a voice in ancient Roman history.
A significant feature of the exhibition is the Hoxne Treasure, which was found in Suffolk, England in 1992. The Hoxne Treasure consists of a hoard of gold and silver coins, gold jewellery and small items of silver tableware that was buried sometime after 407 CE, at a time when Roman rule was breaking down in England.
Silver spoons from the Hoxne treasure, England. Dated late 4th century-early 5th century CE.
Protective amulet worn by boys eight to nine days after birth and right up to their 16th birthday in order to ward off evil spirits. This amulet belonged to a wealthy family in Italy, dated 5th-2nd century BCE.
Rome: City Empire' is now showing at the National Museum until February 3, 2019. Tickets cost: Adult $24, Child $12 (ages 5–16), Concession $20 (student and concession card holders) and Family $60 (2 adults and 2 children, under-fives free, extra children $12). You can buy your tickets at the museum or online here. Please be aware that there is also pay parking at the museum during weekdays.
The National Museum is located at Lawson Crescent, Acton Peninsula, Canberra.