Tag Archives: #ancientrome

As precise as a Roman water clock

The ancient Romans shaped the modern world as much through their way of thinking as through their military ambition, most notably their need for precision in all things. At night, when sundials were of no use, the Romans harnessed the power of water to measure time.

On display in the exhibition, Ancient Rome: The Empire that Shaped the World is a water clock made of wood and brass.

Historians believe the earliest known time-measuring instruments of this kind were Clepsydrae and used by the Ancient Greeks. However there is evidence that they existed even earlier in Babylon, Egypt and Persia around 1600 BC.

The 12-hour water clock divides the 24 hours of the day into two periods. An intricate device with numerous chambers, it keeps the water flow constant and is calibrated to take into account the different hours of sunlight in winter and summer. The terms ante meridiem ‘before midday’ and post meridiem ‘after midday’ are still in use today.

See this and many other objects from the ancient Roman empire that shaped our modern world and marvel at their long-lasting legacy.

Presented by the Cairns Italian Festival and The Australian Armour and Artillery Museum, Ancient Rome is showing until 7 August, 2022.

Australian Armour and Artillery Museum
2 Skyrail Drive, Smithfield, Queensland
Open 7 days, 9.30am – 4.30pm

Tickets to see Ancient Rome include free entry to the Australian Armour & Artillery Museum, the largest private collection of tanks, armoured vehicles and artillery in the southern hemisphere.

Tickets can be purchased online and at the Museum.

The Cairns Italian Festival continues with a wide range of events from 28 July – 6 August 2022.

Photo courtesy of WA Maritime Museum. Ancient Rome: Epic Innovators & Engineers, June – October 2020

Did you know the Romans invented concrete?

Concrete and the road-building technology used to build the Roman Empire’s famous roads are just part of the ancient civilization’s astonishing legacy.

It is remarkable how people who lived 2000 years ago have influenced our science, art, engineering, architecture and culture and also our ways of thinking.

From 8 June the Australian Armour & Artillery Museum, Cairns, will host the internationally acclaimed interactive exhibition Ancient Rome: The Empire that shaped the world.

Travel back in time when massive construction and large scale technological innovation led to the largest globally-integrated economy the world had ever seen. Be prepared to learn something new and unexpected about ancient Rome, contemporary society and human nature.

Highlights include:

  • Six metre long timeline spanning over 1000 years from Republic to Empire
  • Learn about military strategy, unprecedented logistics and communications
  • Get up close to gladiators’ armour, swords and shields
  • Discover the secrets of the Colosseum

The family-friendly exhibition is presented by the inaugural Cairns Italian Festival and the Museum.

Tickets to Ancient Rome include free entry to the Australian Armour and Artillery Museum, the largest private collection of tanks, armoured vehicles and artillery in the southern hemisphere.

8 June – 7 August 2022
Australian Armour & Artillery Museum
2 Skyrail Drive, Smithfield, Queensland
Open 7 days, 9.30am – 4.30pm

Tickets can be purchased online and at the Museum.

The Cairns Italian Festival continues with a wide range of events from 28 July – 6 August 2022.

Photo courtesy of WA Maritime Museum. Ancient Rome: Epic Innovators & Engineers, June – October 2020

How was Easter celebrated in the Roman Empire?

Many of our religious celebrations and secular holidays can be traced back to practices and traditions in Ancient Rome and earlier cultures. However, it may come as a surprise to learn that it was Emperor Constantine (272 – 337AD) who decided when Easter should be celebrated.

In the Christian religious tradition, Easter marks the crucifixion of Jesus, the son of God, on Good Friday and his resurrection three days later on Easter Sunday. Although there is speculation among historians about how the Jewish festival of Passover became the basis for the Christian festival of Easter, the intriguing connection is no coincidence.

The Exodus, when God liberated the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt, is said to have taken place sometime between 1450 and 1270 BC. The annual festival of Passover (Pesah/Pesach) has been celebrated in March or April ever since. This means that it would have been a long-held tradition when the new religion of Christianity came along with the birth, and death, of Jesus.

Emperor Constantine, who was the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, felt that Easter should not be linked to a festival belonging to a different religion. He decreed that Easter should take place on the first Sunday following the first new moon in Spring – which is why Easter varies every year, sometimes at the end of March and in other years, towards the end of April.

Justinian I (left, holding a model of Hagia Sophia) and Constantine the Great (right, holding a model of the city of Constantinople) presenting gifts to the Virgin Mary and Christ Child (centre), mosaic, 10th century; in Hagia Sophia, Istanbul. © Joel Carillet—iStock/Getty Images

2000 year old bread

With so many of us having experienced lockdown due to the Coronavirus this year, it is no surprise that home-baked bread has become a global trend. 

In 2013 the British Museum asked renowned chef, Giorgio Locatelli, to recreate a loaf of bread based on an archaeological discovery from Herculaneum in 1930. The carbonised loaf found, scored into eight sections, looks very similar to a modern round loaf, and the ingredients are still used in breadmaking today.

You can watch the video and make the recipe yourself to get a taste of Ancient Rome. Buon appetito!

The loaf pictured is from tavolamediterranea.com. There is a whole section of the website dedicated to Edible Archaeology!

Rethinking the climate’s impact on Ancient Rome

What does the massive eruption of a volcano in Alaska 2000 years ago have to do with the rise of the Roman Empire? Quite a lot according to scientific research published this week.

Researchers used historical accounts and analyses of ice cores and the geochemistry of tephra, which are natural preservers of the Earth’s history, as evidence that the eruption of Alaska’s Okmok volcano in 43 BCE caused global climatic changes.

These changes sparked the period’s political and social unrest on the other side of the world and ultimately changed the course of history.

Among the best known and important political events in the history of western civilization is the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BCE. This triggered a 17-year power struggle that ultimately ended the Roman Republic and led to the rise of the Roman Empire. At this time the Egyptian Ptolemaic Kingdom also fell.

Written sources describe unusual climate, crop failures and disruption to the seasonal flooding of the Nile in Egypt, famine, disease, and social unrest in the Mediterranean in the two years following the eruption.


Joe Manning, a professor of classics at Yale University and a scholar of ancient Egyptian history says the new research “allows us to rethink ancient history especially with regard to the environment and climate.

Okmok volcano’s impressive crater was created when it erupted in 43 BCE. Credit: Christina Neal/Wikimedia Commons