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8 Days That Made Rome

October 14, 2019

Historian Bettany Hughes narrates this eight-night documentary made for and originally aired on Channel 5 in the UK in 2017. I finally caught it on the Smithsonian Channel, so I wanted to share it here with you all on Rome Reborn®. I’m going to talk about the episodes in the order that they were supposed to air on the Smithsonian Channel in the United States. However the series was made by October Films where the episodes are organized chronologically...

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Introduction to the Arch of Constantine

September 30, 2019

Rome Reborn® apps present the buildings of the Eternal City at a moment in time, 320 CE, when Constantine was emperor. We get to see buildings that had been in use for centuries and ones that were relatively brand new at the time the apps are set. Today let me introduce you to the Arch of Constantine, the biggest surviving triumphal arch in Rome which you will find in our Colosseum District app...

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The Meta Sudans

August 19, 2019

You aren’t alone if your first reaction to this essay’s title was “the Meta What?” Of the many monuments and buildings that I learned about in history, archeology, and art history courses over my decades of study, the Meta Sudans...

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August 12 in Roman History

August 12, 2019

The 12th of August was a religious date on the Roman calendar that honored Hercules, Venus, and Isis. In 30 BCE, it also marked an important choice of one of Rome’s enemies that impacted Augustus’ legacy and reputation through the ages...

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July 22 in Roman History

July 22, 2019

The Roman calendar was full of festivals and events that only grew with each passing generation as families and individuals competed for the support of the people to give them a foot up on the ladder to power within the state. Some of these festivals...

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Basilica Julia

July 15, 2019

Fires were common in Ancient Rome, and sometimes the damage they did provided opportunities for restoration or for new structures to be built. In the third century CE, Diocletian and Maximian did both, and one of the structures they rebuilt was the Basilica Julia...

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The Evolution of the Colosseum, Part II

July 8, 2019

This week we continue our look into the evolution of the Colosseum by leaving the ancient world behind. Today, you can pay to go inside or have your photo taken outside...

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The Evolution of the Colosseum, Part I

July 1, 2019

The year I lived in Rome, 1990-91, the one ancient structure I wanted to visit but couldn’t was the Colosseum. It was overrun by cats at that time...

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What Is An Amphitheater?

June 24, 2019

If you think of the word “amphitheater,” you may think of modern sports arenas that sometimes double as music venues. Since you are visiting us here on Rome Reborn®, you may also be thinking of the Colosseum...

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Headless Gladiators of York

June 17, 2019

Archeologists deal with mysteries all the time, figuring out what happened in the past through artifacts, human remains, and ruins. Sometimes the mere discovery reveals a mystery that seems to boggle even the most experienced expert’s imagination. In 2004...

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Rome's Chariot Superstar

June 10, 2019

Around Easter there are always a lot of television shows about Jewish history, Jesus, or ancient Rome in general. This past Easter on April 21, 2019, the Smithsonian Channel presented Rome’s Chariot Superstar, and from the ads it was unclear if this was a documentary or a docudrama..

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June 3 in Roman History

June 3, 2019

Over the course of Roman history, two events happened on June 3rd. One of these was a recurring religious festival to honor a goddess about whom you may know very little, while the other event happened just once: the start of a short reign of a nephew of Constantine...

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Virtual Tourism, Time Travel, and Rome Reborn®

May 27, 2019

How many of us can afford to travel to Rome?

I went there for my junior year of college. I was able to afford to take the trip by combining it with my studies and utilizing grants and scholarships to help cover the costs. Nonetheless, it was an expensive nine months. Every year it gets more expensive to return.

If you own a PC, a Mac, or numerous VR headsets, and have enough money to buy a paperback novel, you could visit Rome from the comfort and privacy of your home or office. There are virtual and panoramic apps out there to take you to different locations around the world using a relatively new kind of software: a “virtual tourism” app...

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Nero's Sunken Ship

May 20, 2019

I returned to the PBS series Secrets of the Dead to see if another ancient Roman investigation that mentions Emperor Nero also shows pro-Nero bias. Unlike The Nero Files, which I reviewed earlier, Nero’s Sunken City appears to have been made for the series rather than previously being shown elsewhere. As before, I watched the documentary twice all the way through, first just to watch it, and then to take notes and look into it more deeply...

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May 13 in Roman History

May 13, 2019

This month I want to look at May 13, since it falls on a Monday this year, not only because it aligns with the date I typically add a new article to the Rome Reborn® website, but also because it touches upon a couple of events in the history of ancient and late antiquity Rome. We have a festival and a particular event that helps signal the passing away of ancient Rome and ushers in late antiquity or early medieval Rome...

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An Introduction to Hadrian

May 7, 2019

The Emperor Hadrian’s large-scale and far-reaching building and rebuilding campaign in the early second century CE impacted many of the buildings you can find via the Rome Reborn® apps, particularly the Pantheon. Hadrian was a multifaceted man, and we can uncover his life in numerous ways, but first we need a foundation upon which to build our understanding of him. Today’s essay, therefore, will look at the basics about his history, his works, and his demeanor...

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Book Review: 'The Pantheon'

April 29, 2019

I read the 1976 first edition of The Pantheon: Design, Meaning, and Progeny by William L. MacDonald as I was working on some articles about one of the most amazing surviving structures of ancient Rome, around the time the “Rome Reborn®: The Pantheon” app was released. Even though this is an older book, I think many of you who use these apps and who teach Roman history will find it useful...

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Book Review: Women Warriors

April 22, 2019

Back when I was in graduate school, I studied what I considered “pop culture” in antiquity: folklore, sexuality/gender, slavery – basically cultural history, right? My dissertation was about mentions of Amazons in four specific Greek and Roman authors. A book like Pamela D. Toler’s Women Warriors: An Unexpected History might seem right up my alley, but I can also be harsh on such books when they don’t meet my expectations...

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The Mysterious Pantheon

April 15, 2019

At the end of April 2019, Rome Reborn® will release “The Pantheon” as a new app that allows us to see what it likely looked like in 320 CE when it was still being actively used and protected by Romans. While this essay is meant as a general introduction, it looks at some complex issues that historians are still working through today. My main point will be to stress the irony that this best-preserved of Rome’s ancient buildings has also been one of its most enigmatic...

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Book Review: The Mammoth Book of Roman Whodunnits

April 8, 2019

I know that the last book I reviewed was also an anthology of historic mysteries, but since I’m pulling books from my own collection for these reviews, we’re going to have a few of these to start us off. Think of it as a good way to explore a lot of authors quickly. Today we return to editor Mike Ashley in his 2003 collection The Mammoth Book of Roman Whodunnits.

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The Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine

April 1, 2019

One of the Rome Reborn® applications lets us look at the Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine. I asked my family and friends if they knew what that was; no one did. So today, I want to lay out some more information about what it was so when you go use the program, you might appreciate the amazing recreation even more. This huge structure may also be listed as the Basilica of Maxentius, the Basilica Nova, and even The Basilica of Constantine; I’ll simply be calling it the Basilica of Maxentius...

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An Introduction to Constantine

March 25, 2019

Rome Reborn® presents a 3-D virtual Rome set in 320 CE, when Constantine was in ascension but not yet sole ruler of the Roman world. To define Constantine as emperor is to ignore the complexities of his life and of the world that created and later bowed to him. Numerous books have been written about this man, but today I want to refresh my memory and yours with an overview of his political career...

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The Via Sacra Revealed

March 18, 2019

The Forum Romanum is not just a row of buildings. One would obviously need walkways or even roads to navigate the area. Let’s look at one such street you can still see and walk along today, even though it may well be the oldest surviving road in Rome: the Via Sacra...

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March 15th in Roman History

March 11, 2019

This week, I want to draw your attention to an important date in Roman history: March 15, the Ides of March, the date on which Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 bce. While the murder of a would-be king in late Republican Rome would be noteworthy for historians, March 15 was more than that, so today I want to dig a bit deeper into the assassination and the date itself to try to figure out the benefits and challenges the murderers faced on that particular date...

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Television Review: The Nero Files

March 4, 2019

When I can, I want to be timely with these essays on Rome Reborn®, so when I learned about a new episode of the PBS series Secrets of the Dead, I wanted to watch and re-watch the show before bringing it to your attention. If you watched it, I hope you will join this website and participate in our discussion. If you’d like to see it, you may stream it free for a limited time on PBS here...

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Comment on Recent Criticism in Social Media

February 27, 2019

As founder of Flyover Zone Productions, the publisher of Rome Reborn, and as Director of the project since its inception in 1996, I write to comment on the recent criticism of Rome Reborn in social media by Prof. Sarah Bond. First, let me thank her for all the kind words about the academic quality and aesthetic beauty of our Rome Reborn applications. She raises two issues: (1) giving credit on the current website for work done in the past by collaborators on earlier versions of the Rome Reborn reconstruction of ancient Rome; and (2) making the results of the project Open Access (i.e., available to end users at no cost)...

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Book Review: Classical Whodunnits

February 25, 2019

For my first book review on Rome Reborn, I’m going back in time to 1997’s Classical Whodunnits: Murder and Mystery from Ancient Greece and Rome. 15 of the 20 short mysteries in this collection were written for this collection, but the earliest one, Breni James’ “The Gateway to Death,” was originally published in 1955. The span of dates in this collection, along with the continued publication today of mysteries set in the classical world, proves that there has been a market for ancient investigators for more than half a century, and if current sales are proof, the market is holding steady...

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Forum Basics

February 18, 2019

With Rome Reborn you can visit the Roman Forum and look at all of the buildings and structures that existed in 320 ce. The concept of forum and the Roman Forum have a long history. In future articles, I’ll look at the history, design, uses, and stories of the Roman Forum in detail, but today let’s get basic. We’ll begin by just laying out what a forum is, its purpose, and a brief recounting of the history of the Forum in Rome...

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February 11th in Roman History

February 11, 2019

Finding specific dates for events in Roman history is a challenge for many reasons; therefore, most of these Roman calendar essays will examine religious festivals or governmental events that have been widely accepted as dated approximately correctly. However, when I find a date that seems accepted by many ancient historians for a particular person or event in Roman history, I want to bring that to your attention. This week, I want to draw your attention to a couple of Romans associated with the date of February 11th...

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