The Tribute Money


The Tribute Money is a fresco by the Italian renaissance painter Masaccio.The painting is part of a cycle on the life of Saint Peter, and describes a scene from the Gospel of Matthew, in which Jesus directs Peter to find a coin in the mouth of a fish in order to pay the temple tax. Fresco located in the Brancacci Chapel of the basilica of Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence. It’s painted in the 1420s.

Amazons, the legendary founders of Ephesus


Amazons were the female warriors that lived in Anatolia (Anatolia is the name of the region of today’s Asian part of Turkey) around 2nd millennium BC. They are believed to be the daughters of god Ares (the god of war) and Harmonia. They disappear from the historical records from Anatolia after the 7th century BC.

Amazons first appear in around the foothills of Caucasus Mountains and then move to the Black Sea coast to Themiscyra which is accepted by historians as the lands of Amazons. Themiscyra of the ancient times is referring to today’s Terme River in the black sea region of Turkey between Sinop and Ordu cities.

There are different opinions about the origin of the name ‘Amazon’. According to the most popular theory, the word ‘Mazon’ means breast and a-mazons were the females without a breast. They were cutting one of their breasts to use their weapons more efficiently. According to another point of view, the prefix ‘a’ is used to strengthen the word mazon – breast to emphasize the female warriors fighting like a man. When we look at the sculptures of Amazons from different times and geographies, the Amazon ladies are depicted with two breasts generally which supports the second theory.

Amazons were living apart from men, and using men only to proliferate by sleeping with a man they liked once a year. If they had a son, they would leave him to the father, and they only accepted females to their society.

The Amazons are seen on history stage in several different myths and stories. Hercules, the son of Zeus, was born from an affair of Zeus with a human being named Alcmene. Hera, the official wife of Zeus tried to take revenge from Hercules all the time and gave Hercules 12 tasks to complete, wishing Hercules would be dead by the end. One of the missions was to get back the golden belt from the Amazon queen Hippolyte. Hercules and Theseus went to the land of Amazons and they were welcomed very friendly. Hercules took the golden belt from the queen as a gift. But this time Hera was frustrated, she changed herself into an Amazon and caused a massive disorder which ended by the killing of queen Hippolyte by Heracles. Theseus kidnapped the Antiope, the sister of the queen, to Athens and with the leadership of Orithtya, Amazons attacked Athens to get back Antiope which takes place as a historical fact in the writings of Socrates. Following this story, according to a powerful theory, on their way to Athens or back, Amazons established Ephesus as well as many other cities around the same location.

Amazons are taking place at the famous Troy war around 1200 BC. They are believed to help Hector against Achilles. Queen Penthesilea was shot to death from her breast just after she injured Achilles. On her last moments, Achilles took of her helmet and saw the beauty of Penthesilea and fell in love with this woman that he just killed.

In all around the world, at the famous museums, one can see the sculptures of these female warriors of Anatolia made by several artists at different times. One of the beautiful reliefs of Amazons that were carved on the Temple of Hadrian at Ephesus Ancient City is now displayed at the local museum of Ephesus in Selcuk, Turkey.


Red jasper intaglio: portrait head of Mark Antony

ps344819_lOn Caesar’s assassination on 15 March 44 BC, Cleopatra had lost her powerful ally. Hearing that Caesar had left nothing for her and their son Caesarion, Cleopatra fled Rome with her child and husband (her second brother, now Ptolemy XIV), returning to an Egypt ridden with famine and plague.

Two men competed to succeed Caesar: his right-hand man and the designated consul, Mark Antony, and Caesar’s adopted son and legal heir, Octavian. In 41 BC Mark Antony began an alliance, as much romantic as military, with Cleopatra. In 40 BC, twin children were born, but Antony deserted Cleopatra for a politically advantageous marriage with Octavian’s sister Octavia. Three years and two daughters later, Octavia in her turn was abandoned for Cleopatra, with whom Antony stayed until their deaths in 30 BC.

The engraver of this intaglio has cut an exceptionally clear profile portrait of Mark Antony with long tousled hair, the locks carefully delineated, and no beard. The nose is hooked, the slightly open mouth down-turned, and the chin prominent. The features resemble those of Antony on some of his coin portraits, and the image ends at the neck. The intaglio may have been used as a seal by one of Antony’s supporters.

Source: British Museum

Mamertine Prison


Under the church of S. Giuseppe dei Falegnami, on the slopes  of the Capitole Hill, north of the temple of Concord, are the ‘prisons’ known later in medieval times as ‘Mamertine’. Only a part has been preserved. It corresponds to what the sources call the ‘Tullianum’ from the traditional attribution to Servius Tullius.

The travertine facade of the building conceals an earlier one in tufa and can be dated from the inscription referring to the conculs Gaius Vibius Rufinus and Marcus Cocceius Nerva who were in office between 39-42 A.D. A modern entrance leads into to trapezoidal chamber built in blocks of tufa, dating to the middle of the 2nd century B.C. A door which is now walled up led into the other rooms of the prison called ‘latomia’ because they were adapted from the tufa quarries. A Circular opening in the pavement of this room was originally the only entrance to an underground chamber where those condemned to death and enemies of the State were tortured and killed, generally by strangulation. This room was circular except on the east side and built in blocks of peperino. We know of its sinister fame as a site of death in the midst of darkness and stench from the sources. Those killed here included the followers of Gaius Gracchus and of Cataline, Jugurtha king of Mauritania, Vercingetorix chief of the Arverni, Sejanus prefect of the praetorium of Tiberius. It only appears to be a later legend that St. Peter was kept prisoner here.


Memento Mori


60 BC – 40 BC

Found in Naples. Emblem mosaic depicting allegorical the transience of life, cd. Memento mori

The mosaic in the second style , formed the ‘ emblem in the floor of the triclinium , and in it we find an allegorical and symbolic, philosophical theme of the Hellenistic origin of the transience of life and death dell’incombere ( “memento mori” ) which, eliminating disparities in social class and wealth, the fate of equilibria. The summit of the composition is a level with his plumb line, a tool that was used by masons to control the leveling in construction. The axis of the lead is death (the skull), under a butterfly (the soul) balanced on a wheel (Fortune). Under the arms of the level, and opposed in perfect balance, are the symbols of poverty on the right (the bag, stick a beggar and cape), and wealth to the left (the scepter, purple and crown). It should be observed in using the wisdom of the artist weave of different colour to provide greater accuracy and characterization of some representations, such as the skull, or the level, where the shades allow you to notice the wooden part of the instrument and the elements of fitting in bronze.

Source : Ancient Peoples

Temple of Hadrian


It is one of the best preserved and most beautiful structures on Curetes Street. It was built before 138 A.D by P. Quintilius and was dedicated to the Emperor Hadrian, who came to visit the city from Athens in 128 A.D The facade of the temple has four Corinthian columns supporting a curved arch, in the middle of which contains a relief of Tyche, goddess of victory. The side columns are square. The pedestal with inscriptions in front of the temple, are the bases for the statues of the emperors between 293-305 CE, Diocletian, Maximian, Constantius I, and Galerius; the originals of the statues have not been found yet.

Inside the temple above the door, a human figure, probably Medusa stands with ornaments of acanthus leaves. On both sides there are friezes depicting the story of the foundation of Ephesus – Androklos shooting a boar, Dionysus in ceremonial procession and the Amazons. The fourth frieze portrays two male figures, one of which is Apollo; Athena, goddess of the moon; a female figure, Androkles, Herakles, the wife and son of Theodosius and the goddess Athena. The friezes that are seen today are copies, and the originals are displayed in Ephesus Museum.

Emperor Hadrian was one of the Five of Good Emperors. The Five Good Emperors is a term that refers to five consecutive emperors of the Roman Empire – Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. The term is first coined by the political philosopher, Niccolò Machiavelli in 1532. Publius Aelius Hadrianus was born on 24 January AD 76, probably at Rome, though his family lived in Italica in Baetica. Emporor Trajan was his cousin. Hadrian was schooled in various subjects particular to young aristocrats of the day, and was so fond of learning Greek literature that he was nicknamed Graeculus (“Little Greek”).Hadrian was active in the wars against the Dacians and reputedly won awards from Trajan for his successes. Due to an absence of military action in his reign, Hadrian’s military skill is not well attested, however his keen interest and knowledge of the army and his demonstrated skill of administration show possible strategic talent.

Hadrian appears to have been a man of mixed sexual interests. The Historia Augusta criticizes both his liking of goodlooking young men as well as his adulteries with married women.It is belived that he tried to poison his wife. When it comes to Hadrian’s homosexuality, then the accounts remain vague and unclear. Most of the attention centres on the young Antinous, whom Hadrian grew very fond of. Statues of Antinous have survived, showing that imperial patronage of this youth extended to having sculptures made of him. In AD 130 Antinous accompanied Hadrian to Egypt. It was on a trip on the Nile when Antinous met with an early and somewhat mysterious death. Officially, he fell from the boat and drowned.

Hadrian died in 138 on the tenth day of July, in his villa at Baiae at age 62. However, the man who had spent so much of his life traveling had not yet reached his journey’s end. He was buried first at Puteoli, near Baiae, on an estate which had once belonged to Cicero. Soon after, his remains were transferred to Rome and buried in the Gardens of Domitia, close by the almost-complete mausoleum. Upon the completion of the Tomb of Hadrian in Rome in 139 by his successor Antoninus Pius, his body was cremated, and his ashes were placed there together with those of his wife Vibia Sabina and his first adopted son, Lucius Aelius, who also died in 138. Antoninus also had him deified in 139 and given a temple on the Campus Martius.

Poem by Hadrian
According to the Historia Augusta Hadrian wrote shortly before his death the following poem:

Animula, vagula, blandula
Hospes comesque corporis
Quae nunc abibis in loca
Pallidula, rigida, nudula,
Nec, ut soles, dabis iocos…
P. Aelius Hadrianus Imp.
Little soul, roamer and charmer
Body’s guest and companion
Who soon will depart to places
Darkish, chilly and misty
An end to all your jokes…

Head of Hephaestion

Head of Hephaestion. Unknown. Greek, about 320 B.C. Marble.
Head of Hephaestion. Unknown. Greek, about 320 B.C. Marble.

The son of a noble Macedonian family, Hephaestion was the beloved companion of Alexander the Great. Together since boyhood, Hephaestion fought alongside Alexander as he created his great empire. When Hephaestion died in Persia in 324 B.C., Alexander mourned him extravagantly. He was given a royal funeral and Alexander ordered the cities of Greece to worship Hephaestion as a hero.

This head of Hephaestion, broken from a full-length statue, was originally part of a multi-figured group, which might have depicted a sacrificial scene. The J. Paul Getty Museum has more than thirty fragments of this group. The participants include Alexander, Hephaestion, a goddess, Herakles, a flute player, and several other figures, as well as animals and birds. This group may have served as a funerary monument for some nobleman who wanted to associate himself with Alexander, or it might be a monument erected in response to Alexander’s call for the creation of a hero cult.

The appearance of this head has changed over time. A metal ribbon or diadem once circled the head, although only a shallow groove remains today. The head was also re-carved in antiquity, with the hair shortened and the lower eyelids altered.

Source : The J. Paul Getty Museum

Judaism in Rome and Ephesus


When St Paul visited Ephesus around 53 AD, there was a Jewish community at Ephesus for over three hundred years.

At 1st century AD, Jews had spread from their homeland to the Mediterranean and some other places. The oldest Jewish community in Europe is the one in Rome. They were practicing very different religion than their neighbors and as a result of this, Jews were mostly close-knit to protect their faiths and themselves. In Rome, Augustus and Julius Cesar supported Jews to help them to worship as they like and Julius Cesar allowed them to settle anywhere in the Roman Empire. Although they were generally treated with respect, trouble did occur and during the reign of Claudius, Jews had been exiled from Rome two times but than they were allowed to return and continue their independent existence. Each Jewish community worshipped at its own synagogue but the center of their worship is in Jerusalem.

It is known that there have been a substantial Jewish community in Asia Minor since at least the 5th century BC and when St Paul visited Ephesus around 53 AD there was a Jewish community at Ephesus for over three hundred years, but the exact date of the establishment of Jewish community in Ephesus is not known.

Unfortunately there is a little inscriptional evidence for the Jewish community in the ancient city but Ephesus is mentioned as having a synagogue in Acts 19:1 of New Testament. Synagogue hasn’t been found in and around Ephesus but there is a menorah carving on the step of Celsus library.

Source : Ephesus – History, information and pictures of Ephesus Ancient city

On This Day In Ancient History

Bust of Commodus as Hercules, Sculpture,180-193 AD, Marble, cm 133

Emperor Commodus was born on 31. August 161 AD at Lanuvium

(The bust is one of the most famous masterpieces of Roman portraiture and depicts the emperor in the guise of Hercules, whose attributes he has been given: the lion’s skin over his head, the club in this right hand, and the golden apples of Hesperides in his left hand as a reminder of the Greek hero’s feats. The incredibily well-preserved bust is placed on a complex allegorical composition: two kneeling Amazons (only one is well-preserved) besige a globe decorated with the signs of the zodiac hold aloft a cornucopia, which is entwined with a pelta, the Amazons’ characteristic shield. The celebratory intent that, through a wealth of symbols, imposes the divine cult of the emperor, is further underlined by the two marine Tritons flanking the central figure to express his apotheosis. The group was recovered in an underground room of the Horti Lamiani complex, where it had probably been hidden. Source : Musei Capitolini)

Bust of Salonina Matidia

Salonina Matidia, Roman bust (marble), 2nd century AD, (Musée du Louvre, Paris).
Salonina Matidia, Roman bust (marble), 2nd century AD, (Musée du Louvre, Paris).

Salonina Matidia (4 July 68 – 23 December 119) was the daughter and only child of Ulpia Marciana and wealthy praetor Gaius Salonius Matidius Patruinus. Her maternal uncle was the Roman Emperor Trajan. Trajan had no children and treated her like his daughter. Her father died in 78 and Matidia went with her mother to live with Trajan and his wife, Pompeia Plotina.

Between 81 and 82, Matidia married a suffect consul and former proconsul Lucius Vibius Sabinus. Sabinus died in 83 or 84. Matidia bore Sabinus a daughter called Vibia Sabina, who would marry the future Roman Emperor Hadrian. Matidia was very fond of her second cousin Hadrian and allowed him to marry Vibia Sabina.

In 84, Matidia married for a second time to an otherwise unattested Roman aristocrat called Lucius Mindius. Matidia bore Mindius a daughter called Mindia Matidia, commonly known as Matidia Minor. Mindius died in 85.

Matidia later married suffect consul of 88, Lucius Scribonius Libo Rupilius Frugi Bonus. Matidia bore Frugi a daughter called Rupilia Faustina. Faustina would go on to marry the Roman Senator Marcus Annius Verus, to whom she bore one daughter and two sons. Through her children, she would become the grandmother of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius and his wife Faustina the Younger.

Matidia often traveled with her uncle and assisted him with decision-making. Like her mother, Matidia was honored with monuments and inscriptions in her name throughout the Roman Empire. On August 29, 112, she received the title of Augusta.

When Trajan died in 117, Matidia and Plotina brought the emperor’s ashes back to Rome. In 119 Matidia died, whereupon the Roman Emperor Hadrian delivered her funeral oration, deified her and granted her a temple and altar in Rome itself.

Source : Wikipedia

St John in Ephesus


The first Christian community in Ephesus was established by St. John.

John was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus and he was called “the Son of Thunder” by Jesus himself.

According to apostles big cities like Ephesus, Smyrna and Laodicea would help them to spread the new religion in the Western World. It is accepted that John came to Ephesus together with Virgin Mary who had been entrusted to him, for the first time. John’s Gospel says that “When on the cross, Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son’ then he said to the disciple, ‘here is your mother’. From that hour the disciple took her into his own home and never separated again. (John 19:26-27)

The first Christian community in Ephesus was established by St. John. In 64, after St Paul was decapitated outside the city wall of Rome, John again became the leader of the Ephesians church community.

In spite of his old age, St John went around Asia Minor together with St Peter to spread Christianity. He was tried to be killed two times; a glass of poisonous drink was given him but with a miracle poison came out in the form of a snake when St John was ready to drink it and also he was exiled to Island of Patmos where he wrote his Apocalypse. In 95 CE he returned to Ephesus and started writing his Gospel. St John died in Ephesus and according to his will, he was buried nearby Ephesus. His all words and Gospel still live today.

Köyhien ateriat antiikin Roomassa

Roman Food

Rooman valtakunnan eliitin upeista aterioista on olemassa monia kuvauksia niin tekstien kuin kuvienkin muodossa. Lukuisat taideteokset näyttävät meille kuinka hedelmiä, vihanneksia, kakkuja, erilaista lihaa ja suuria määriä viiniä tarjoillaan keisareille ja muille Rooman eliittiin kuuluville. Tutkijoilla on nyt ollut mahdollisuus ensimmäistä kertaa tutkia, mitä tavalliset ihmiset söivät Roomassa.

University of West Floridan tekemässä tutkimuksessa tutkittiin hiilen isotooppeja kolmellekymmenellekuudelle kahdelle eri antiikin Rooman hautausmaalle haudatun ihmisen jäänteistä. Näin voitiin selvittää millainen ruokavalio näillä ihmisillä muinoin oli. Kävi ilmi, että tärkein yksittäinen ravinnonlähde tavallisten roomalaisten ravinnossa oli hirssi, rautapitoinen vilja, jota Rooman eliitti piti eläinten rehuna.

St Paul in Ephesus

“while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus “ Acts 19:1
“while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus “ Acts 19:1

The first Christian community in Ephesus was established by St John and developed by St Paul. Paul came in to the city to fulfill the promise that he had given on his brief visit when returning from Corinth and stayed for about three and a half years and also wrote his letters to Ephesians in captivity most probably here in Ephesus. When Paul came to Ephesus, first in the synagogues and then everywhere in the city, he preached the gospel and gained followers. The church of Ephesus which became the head of the Seven Churches in western Asia Minor was established by Paul.

St Paul had to struggle with magicians and soothsayers in Ephesus while struggling with state offices and pagans. In a short time, Ephesus became the third important city of Christianity after Jerusalem and Antioch. Christianity rapidly gained popularity in Ephesus and by the popularity of this new religion, the jeweler Demetrius and others who earned a living by selling and making silver statues of Mother Goddess Artemis, were quite distressed. Demetrius and his colleagues provoked thousands of people and met with them in the Ephesus theatre and started shouting “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians.” St Paul wanted to face the crowd but disciples would not let him. Finally, the city clerk announced that the courts were open for people who had a complaint and dispersed the crowd. After this event St Paul left Ephesus and went to Macedonia.

It is seen that Ephesus had an important place in the lives of both apostles but both of them were not in Ephesus at the same time. John and Paul led different communities in Ephesus.

For travelers interested in biblical sites, Ephesus is especially noteworthy as being the place where St.Paul visited and preached early Christianity to the people.

Source : Ephesus! History, information and pictures of Ephesus Ancient city