Ostia-bound and down on Sunday.

The rain Friday night and Saturday morning looks like that will be it for the duration of our trip. The weather has gotten a tad cooler and beautiful. We spent more than six hours in Ostia Antica Sunday– learned a lot and enjoyed it immensely. The students were also very pleased to have permission to wear shorts– no plans for churches that day!

The poppies and other wildflowers were blooming all over the site and made nice decorations for Hannah’s hair.

And just to prove that I’m actually on this trip too– here I am rambling on about Mithras:

Saturday 5/20:The Domus Aurea and the deluge!

I am days behind in posting– we’re walking more than 10 miles a day and evenings get very busy with prepping for the next day. Will try to do a couple of days’ worth to begin getting caught up.

Saturday, we got to visit Nero’s Golden House on the Esquiline, a site I hadn’t been in since I was 20! It was as impressive as I remembered, with an added bit of pizzaz supplied by a portion of the tour in virtual reality, including a very effective and beautiful experience walking out of the south facing rooms into the gardens. 

As we left (and we had to leave as there were more groups on the way in), the sky opened up on us and we all got soaked to the bone! We ended up making a midday trip back to our apartments to change rather than staying damp all day, so ended up a bit of an abbreviated itinerary. We did make it into the Capitoline Museums, though, and to Largo Argentina for Republican temples and cats!

Two days down!

We spent all day today in Cerveteri (ancient Caere) getting a good dose of Etruscana in the Museo Nazionale Cerite and the necropolis. The students had a great time scrambling in and out of tombs for hours and we’ve arrived home very dirty and tired. My camera battery was dead, so no pictures from me, but Tiffany took tons of pictures that she promises to share. A highlight was a very weird display in the Tomba della Casetta– no spoilers in case Tiffany manages to load her video or in case anyone else travelling this summer wants to be as creepily surprised as we were!

Yesterday was “begin at the beginning” day, with time spent on iron age, regal period and republican sites on the Capitoline and Palatine, in the Forum Romanum, in the Forum Boarium and Holitorium and finally on the Tiber Island.

 After a well-deserved early-evening nap for the students we went out for a long Roman dinner at Osteria dell’Angelo here in Prati.

Manchiamo solo due

We are nearly all together now– just waiting on two last arrivals! The students successfully got lunch on their own while I checked into my apartment and now a few are out getting groceries, and I am enjoying their lovely courtyard while I wait! 

UMissinRome 2017

We’re about to set out on year 2 of umissinrome! Tomorrow ten University of Mississippi students and I will make our way to Rome to begin an intensive introduction to the ancient city and its history, art, and archaeology. Much to do tonight still, but excited to begin the adventure– watch this space!

Temple of Vesta

Hello, it’s me, Lana. I’m very sorry this is late–things have been crazy back home.
The trip to Rome was amazing! If you’ll remember, I did my site report on the Temple of Vesta and the House of the Vestal Virgins.
Vesta, the Roman form of the Greek goddess Hestia, is the goddess of the hearth. The fire of Vesta was considered sacred and it’s going out was thought to be bad luck. In fact, the Romans blamed the fall of Rome partially on the fire going out (despite the fact that it had gone out multiple times before without resulting in the fall of the entire empire).
The Temple of Vesta is a small, circular temple in the Forum that probably didn’t hold much more than the sacred fire and the Vestals keeping watch. Only some of the columns and part of the roof and wall remain. In the center of the roof was probably a hole, used as a vent for the smoke from the fire.
Numa Pompilius is thought to have built the original temple, but it was restored but Julia Domna, the wife of emperor Septimius Severus in the late 2nd century C.E., and then reconstructed in the 1930’s.
The temple was also home to the Palladium, a statue of Minerva (Athena to the Greek world) that was said to have been brought from Troy by Aeneas.
Guarding this statue, the sacred fire, and other relics, were the Vestal Virgins. At any time there were six Vestal Virgins, all appointed by the chief priest, he pontifex maximus. When chosen, the girls were usually between 6 and 10 years old and were required to serve 30 years. If they broke their vow of chastity before finishing their time, they were buried alive. The Vestals, in return for their service, were granted many privileges such as the right to own and manage property, the fact that any injury to them was punishable by death, and the right to drive carriages within the city.
The House of the Vestals dates back to the 2nd-1st century B.C.E. It was luxurious and housed all of the Vestals, along with their many servants and slaves. Each Vestal would have had spacious apartments. The house also included its own bath suite with a heating system that extended throughout the southern wing of the house.
The Vestal Virgins, in exchange for their years of important religious service, were given the care of important artefacts, many privileges, and widespread importance and recognition.
It was a beautiful thing to see with my own eyes. Thank you so much, Dr. Pranger, for allowing me to join you on this journey!
-Lana Thames

Walking A Thousand Miles

Walking in Rome is not always a pleasant experience for the feet.  Image

Between the cobblestones, stairs, and hills, your feet might start planning a mutiny against you.  Yet, seeing the historical sites, street performers, and having gelato on every corner makes you say, “what feet?”!!  Just remember to pack comfy shoes!ImageImageImage

Are you entertained?

roma 965The Colosseum was the one site I was most looking forward to visiting.  The building of the Colosseum was started by Vepasian, finished by Titus, and added to by Domitian, and therefore, it was initially known as the Flavian Amphitheatre.  It stands where Nero’s Golden House once stood.


Gladiator training center located near the Colosseum.

Gladiator training center located near the Colosseum.

When most think of the Colosseum, they think of gladiators fighting to the death.  While many died on the sands, not all fights were to the death.  Gladiators were not always slaves, but were treated like celebrities.

Gladiator training center

Gladiator training center

I will admit that I did scream out a line or two of Russell Crowe from the 2000 film “Gladiator.”  My name is not Maximus Decimus Meridus, but when I asked the people if they were entertained, I got some crazy looks!  (I would share the video, but it would not allow me to upload it.)

Not the video, but Jessica prepares to yell . . .  Photo courtesy of MPP.

Not the video, but Jessica prepares to yell . . . Photo courtesy of MPP.



Arch of Titus

The Arch of Titus can be described in part as a memorial and part publicity stunt.  Titus was a popular emperor who died at the very “young” age of 50 from the plague.  His younger and very unpopular brother, Domitian, commissioned the arch after his death.  The marble arch, which was later rebuilt in travertine, was placed on the highest spot on Sacra Via and dedicated in 85 A.D.


arch of titus1Inside the arch is engraved with images of the artifacts taken from the Temple of Jerusalem after Titus’s grand victory.  The items were displayed in the Temple of Peace.

arch of titus2When a person looks up into the top of the arch, they can see Titus riding an eagle up into heaven.  The Arch of Titus, which is a display of power, motivated Napoleon to appoint the building of the Arc du Triomphe de Carrousel in Paris.

Study Abroad!

Dr. Seuss said it best.  “The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn the more places you’ll go.”  Reading and learning about ancient Rome can be eye opening, but being able to actually see and touch part of history is truly an indescribable experience.  If you have ever wanted to travel abroad or participate in study abroad, I highly recommend it.  You will not regret it.  In fact, I only regret not being able to stay longer.

roma 714

Tossing coins into the Trevi Fountain!!

Tossing coins into the Trevi Fountain!!


I did throw my three coins into the Trevi Fountain, but maybe I should have thrown ten just to make sure I get a chance to go back!!!