When planning our holiday,
we noticed that the National Museum of Australia in Canberra
was hosting an exhibition about Rome – “Rome: City and Empire”.
However, it was starting AFTER we’d visited Canberra. 😦
But, never fear.
We made a way to make it happen.
On our way back home,
we simply stopped in Canberra.
Although we skipped the dodgy motel
that we stayed in last time,
and, instead, stayed in another differently dodgy motel.
(They only had internet in the foyer
– who wants to sit in the foyer to use the internet! –
and they only had a handful of carparks for the WHOLE motel!)
However, the exhibition was well worth returning for.
And we were delighted to discover that they had an audio tour.
We love tours!
The exhibition space was huge
(compared to what we are used to in Brisbane)
and the exhibits were amazing.
I loved all the quotes around the walls.
Did you know that only men with full Roman citizenship wore the toga?
(The head of this statue does not belong with the body of this statue.
Even the Romans recycled!)
Before the age of facelifts and Botox,
the emperors had to make sure
that at least their statues and busts looked good.
Their images also acted as propaganda.
This head depicts Emperor Commodus.
His head looks ‘ageless and wise’,
(well that’s what the plaque said;
I thought the eyes made him look creepy)
yet Commodus was cruel and horrible.
All of Augustus’ portraits
depicted him at 30 years of age,
even though he lived to be 77.
I enjoyed checking out the different hairdos
on the female heads.
There were stacks of gods and goddesses
depicted at the exhibition.
This is Fortuna.
You kept her happy if you wanted a desirable fate and a huge fortune.
To have this goddess abandon you,
would be disastrous.
People also had figures of these pagan deities
in their homes.
Keeping all of these ‘gods’ happy,
must have been quite a challenge.
If you wanted to test out your Latin skills,
there were plenty of opportunities at the exhibition.
Here’s a little something to get your started.
It’s a diploma of citizenship
that was given to a retiring soldier.
Yes, there were a few exhibits about gladiators
but not a huge amount,
which was nice.
Too often, that’s all people know about the Roman empire.
This relief shows two female gladiators,
which were not rare,
but still a bit of a novelty.
I liked looking at all the day to day items,
like this skin scraper and oil flask.
When people went to the Roman baths,
they would exercise and then go to the heated baths.
There they would be rubbed with oil
and scraped down to remove both the oil and the dirt.
Afterwards, they took a cold bath
to close their pores.
Check out the decorations on the scraper.
Would we, in the modern world,
bother with ‘mere decoration’
for a simple tool that scraped gunk off us?
And, this is a theatre ticket!!
One of these isn’t going to fit well into your purse or wallet.
This is a ‘bulla’,
an amulet worn by children until their sixteen birthday.
It supposedly protected the child from evil spirits.
There were a couple of lovely mosaics.
Imagine your floors covered with these mosaics.
Okay, probably not what I would want on my floors either,
but, I still appreciate the work that went into creating them.
I prefer this mosaic though-
cupids riding dolphins.
I particularly appreciated the exhibits
that depicted Christian symbols and images.
This plaque contains the Chi-Rho symbol,
which symbolises the first two letters of Christ’s name.
These spoons also contain Christian symbols and messages.
This one says, “Vivas in Deo”,
which means, “May you live in God”.
Have you ever heard of denarii?
It’s a form of Roman currency
that you might have read in the Bible.
This is what denarii looked like…
Did you know that the Roman statues
weren’t white like the statues we see today?
They were actually brightly coloured.
Hopefully not as brightly coloured as the statue
that the boys coloured.
There were so many fascinating exhibits to explore.
In fact, if this exhibition ever travels to Brisbane,
we”ll probably visit it again.
We liked it that much.