This exhibition brings to life the lost and forgotten technology and inventions that set the Roman Empire apart from the rest of the world and which continues to influence us to this day. Due to the ravages of time, very few pieces of Roman technology and machinery have survived in their entirety, as a majority of the materials used, such as regional timber, ropes, canvas and primitive metals, have deteriorated significantly since the golden age of the Roman Empire nearly 2,000 years ago.
By reconstructing ancient Roman technology using the same materials and techniques that the Romans used thousands of years ago, we can learn so much more than would previously have been possible from studying archaeological finds and original texts exclusively. It also gives us the opportunity to use and interact with some of these incredible inventions and machines, which is a wonderful way to understand how they function.
This exhibition has been uniquely constructed to appeal to people of all ages with content for children and adults, scholars and beginners, thereby providing all visitors with a truly unique way of experiencing ancient history:
- Theme 1 – MILITARY GENIUS
I came, I saw, I conquered. This quote is attributed to Julius Caesar, who was one of the most influential military generals in European history, ordering the construction of a 480 yard (550 metre) bridge over the Rhine River in Germany. Developing advanced siege weapons, catapults and assault towers, Caesar became the supreme dictator of Rome and was deified upon his death.
- Theme 2 – ALL ROADS LEAD TO ROME
This section showcases the logistical and transportation innovations which held the Roman Empire together for centuries. Visitors can see and use odometers for measuring distances, surveying equipment and the world’s oldest road map!
- Theme 3 – BUILDING ROME
They say Rome wasn’t built in a day. In this section, visitors can explore some of the awe-inspiring technology used to construct the Eternal City. Marvel at enormous cranes driven by soldiers inside human-sized hamster-wheels, see the flour-mills and uncover the secret behind Roman concrete which could set underwater.
- Theme 4 – LIFESTYLE & ENTERTAINMENT
In this section, visitors can immerse themselves in the everyday life of a Roman citizen through the clothes, jewellery and fresco paintings. They can challenge their friends to Roman board games and best of all, this section covers the mighty gladiatorial games and the secrets of the Colosseum.
“The (Ancient Roman machines)….offered a wonderful artistic view along with the expected practical design and engineering. We had a great number of engineers visit. They returned with friends and family to share early concepts of designs still used today. The hands-on aspect was an engaging teaching tool for the over 5,400 primary and secondary (school) students and nearly 700 university students who attended.”
Rod Hansen, Director of Exhibits
Museum of Idaho
For the first time, we are making some of our most popular touring exhibition activities and worksheets available on the Activities page of our website.
Ancient Rome: The Empire that Shaped the World, Museum of Tropical Queensland, Townsville, 2021
“By every metric, the exhibition “Ancient Rome” was a success. It became a highlight of our city’s spring calendar, which means it was a terrific revenue generator for the museum. The craftsmanship on each and every piece is absolutely spectacular, which means the installed exhibition is truly beautiful. As visitors rounded the corner into the gallery, I noticed they often let out a little gasp – it literally took their breath away. Our expectations are high, and this exhibition exceeded them at every turn.”
Meg McCrummen Fowler, Director of the History Museum of Mobile, Alabama, USA
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