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.

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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!!!

The Never-Ending Column

Words cannot describe how truly blessed I feel to have been able to experience the city of Rome with such wonderful company. There is such natural beauty and wonder to be found amongst the ruins of Ancient Rome. There is so much to see and so much to do, but unfortunately so little time. Although we were aOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAble to spend only two weeks in the heart of Ancient Rome, I am more than impressed by the amount of knowledge I have gained about both ancient and current Roman culture. From the tufa rock that lines the bottom of ancient structures to the highest marble drum of Trajan’s Column, Rome is a city of never-ending history and extraordinary beauty.

It is actually this very famous structure about which this post will report. Although its title may be relatively short, the incredible height and historical depth of Trajan’s Column is exactly the opposite.

Trajan’s Column, Tuscan in form, sits upon a rectangular block as its base. To give and idea of the column’s great size, the diameter of its base is roughly 3.83 meters, and nearly 3.66 meters at the summit. The seventeen drums of Luna marble showcase the military endeavors of the Emperor Trajan, specifically his military campaigns in Dacia from 101-106 C.E.

In addition to the military carvings on the seventeen drums, there is a door at the base of the column, which allows for an opening into the column. Yes, surprisingly there are stairs inside this massive structure on which people could walk to the column’s summit and overlook the city. From the summit of the column, one would have been able to see the Markets of Trajan, Trajan’s forum, the Basilica Ulpia, the Campus Martius, and of course, the Colosseum. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Given that this column is such an incredible structure, one might think that Trajan was quite vein for creating this column for himself. However, this column was actually a gift for the emperor Trajan from the senate and the Roman people. It was dedicated on May 18, 113 C.E. Although the carvings are somewhat difficult to decipher from ground level due to its great height, Trajan’s Column was a revolutionary example of architecture. There was even a similar column carved in honor of Marcus Aurelias merely seventy years later, the architect of which learned from the illegible nature of Trajan’s Column that the marble should be carved deeper.

One of the most interesting and slightly shocking facts about Trajan’s Column happens to be that somewhere deep inside the column, Trajan’s ashes are said to have been housed in a golden urn. Although his ashes have undoubtedly been moved since the column was excavated, I cannot help but think that I was standing next to and staring at the structure that once housed the remains of the man who is considered to have been the best emperor of ancient Rome. Now that is not just a feeling that comes everyday is it?

I cannot think of a better way to sum up how I feel about everything I got to see in Rome those two weeks. The food is delicious, the sights are spectaculOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAar, but most of all, I cannot get over the feeling of knowing that I was standing amongst ancient ruins in the Roman forum, that I walked around inside an ancient port city, and that I walked into the catacombs beneath Saint Sebastian’s Church. What an incredible experience I had in Rome. I cannot thank our wonderful fearless leader for thinking up this trip and being willing to brave it with the six of us girls. All I can say now is that I hope one day to return to this beautiful city, and once again bask in its historical presence and beautiful scenery!


Necropoli della Banditaccia and the Catacombe di San Sebastiano

The best experiences are the ones that don’t go as planned. If we had gotten on the correct bus to Cerverteri the first time, I might not have ever gotten to ride through the beautiful Italian countryside with the Mediterranean Sea practically within touching distance. It was definitely worth it, especially once we got to Cerveteri and had a nice stroll down a country lane to the Necropoli della Banditaccia.


I could have spent all day exploring the Necropolis at Cerveteri with its tombs of all shapes and sizes. The most magnificent were the massive round tumuli that housed many dead Etruscans in the past. Thankfully, we didn’t see any of those dead. The tombs were carved from blocks of tufa around the base and dirt was piled on top.


And some where found deep down in the earth so we had to descend stair cases to explore them. This next photo shows a well perserved tomb found down a long staircase. The painting in the tomb are amazing and there are stone pillows awaiting a body in each groove.


Exploring the necropolis was an adventure and it was definitely one of the closest looks into the past that I’ve ever had.

Another mishap that our group experienced was traipsing down the seemingly endless ancient Via Appia leading out of Rome because the bus driver told us to get off at the wrong stop. A stop that was pretty far from where we were supposed to be. The hike down the small walled-in road to the Catacombs of Saint Sebastian was a new experience for me, especially when i slipped on a banana peel. (Something i thought only happened in movies. Who knew banana peels could be so slippery.) Not a sidewalk in sight, two walls lining a road that apparently had no speed limit, and what felt like hundreds of crazy Italian drivers seemingly bent on scaring the life out of us. All in all, it was an exhilirating, but I was very happy when we didn’t have to walk back that way.

Our destination was worth the harrowing walk. Saint Sebastian’s Catacombs housed over 80,000 bodies before they were all removed. They catacombs are underground so the temperature dropped at least 20 degrees as soon as we went down. Very refreshing yet creepy when I realized that our tour guide had said 80,000 bodies and not the 18,000 that I thought I heard. We saw some carvings and paintings, I found out what an anchor means in Christianity, we stood in the same room where Saint Sebastian’s remains were buried, we walked up stairs through several centuries of graves, and we found out that the reason Rome is covered in graffiti. (It’s a Roman gene.) It was awe-inspiring day in the middle of a spectacular two weeks.

This trip was one of my greatest experiences. I already miss Rome and the people that were with me. And we could not have had a better tour guide than Dr. P!


Thank you, Roma!





My laundry hanging on the line.

Really, though, our trip to Rome wasn’t much of a “holiday;” it was very much about learning an ancient world with our bodies. The seven of us came to Rome with different backgrounds on classical studies and with different expectations. I had been prepared for some serious walking, and I wasn’t disappointed. I had, however, been disappointed to discover that there was no clothes washer and that my body would not acclimate to Rome’s allergy season. I quickly learned how to clean clothing by hand in a sink and how to use a clothes line- I’m actually very proud of this. After our first big group dinner, I had to clean a huge balsamic vinegar stain out of a white tank… I showed it to my mother once I was back in the States- she was extremely impressed since the stain was pretty much gone. Julia Stiles ain’t got nothin’ on me! My allergies were very much a hit and miss; some days were worse than others. I’m eternally grateful to my roommates (Kimi, McKenna, and Lana) for not smothering me in my sleep since I was making some really strange and obnoxious sounds while unconscious. I found out that despite what my body wanted to do, I could still power through. It’s quite inspiring, now that I think about it. Maybe I’ll inspire myself to continue on the path of perseverance in all things, such as working out and eating healthily.


The Eros and Psyche statue from Ostia. Super sweet!

The Eros and Psyche statue from Ostia. Super sweet!

My allergies did clear up somewhat for our day trip to Ostia, which I was extremely ecstatic about since that was the exploration I had been most excited over. Even more wonderful is that Ostia didn’t disappoint. There was a bathroom with literal bathroom humor decorated on the walls as well as a very intriguing house of Eros (is that the right name?). The sculpture that was in the ruins was lovely. I also quite liked the public restroom that was located right off the forum, in fact, that’s what I ended up sketching!

My sketch of the public restroom off of the forum in Ostia.

My sketch of the public restroom off of the forum in Ostia.

At the end of the day, we went to the Mediterranean. It was so beautiful; the sea and the sky just felt like they wanted to consume every fiber of me until I was apart of the infinite beauty of it all.

All of the churches and burial grounds (we did go to two necropolises)! I’m a bit of a fanatic when it comes to those, oddly enough. I was fascinated with how a lot of churches were built on top of ancient structures, mainly temples, or incorporated them into what they currently are. The Pantheon, originally a temple dedicated to all of the Roman gods (hence its name), became a Catholic church after being exercised of demonic spirits, or so I was told… I asked a lot of questions on the trip, and Jennifer (and maybe even Dr. Pasco-Pranger) would tell me the wrong things, admiring my gullibility. Jessica, if you ever need help hiding the body, just let me know! 😉

What I fell in love with while in Rome that made all of the aches totally worth it (besides the plumbing- such a fascinating topic!) was the Painted Garden. It had been in the triclinium (dining room) of the Villa of Livia Drusilla (fresco, 30-20 BCE) and moved to the Museo Nazionale Romano in Rome. The museum had it set up so that the lighting in the room would run through a cycle of the different natural light of the day… I tried to take pictures and videotape the effect, but technology cannot capture its beauty. If Dr. Pasco-Pranger would have allowed it, I would have stayed there all day. Who knows- I might even have tried to move in!

A section of the

A section of the Painted Garden.

Another thing I really enjoyed was all of the Mithraea we came across. Something about the Mithras statues and their surroundings caught my attention…

I came to Rome to learn about the spatial aspect of the ancient city, and I got just that. It’s mind-boggling to walk on stones that have been walked on for thousands of years (kind of…) and to see and touch ancient buildings that people like Caesar and Augustus had seen and touched. Walking the city is one of my greatest accomplishments- it’s not easy, but it is so very rewarding if you are even just the tiniest bit curious about a world that has inspired our own. 

In a Mithraeum

In a Mithraeum with Dr. Pasco-Pranger, Jessica, Jennifer, and McKenna (not pictured) in Ostia.





Chriss’s Recommended Packing List:
-Good walking shoes (I chose Keen sandals! They were AMAZING!)
-Water bottle
-Chapstick (super moisturizing)
-Reusable shopping bag (they charge you for plastic bags at grocery stores!)
-Eye drops
-Two different kinds of allergy medicine if prone to seasonal allergies
-A bag big enough to carry a water bottle, sunblock, and whatever items you need daily (I did a Kavu backpack.)

Site Report Time!

Here are my notes that I forgot when it was my day to present. My subject matter was the Stadium of Domitian. I happened to mention the archways and well… There are a lot of pictures of me in archways now. 😉 This entire report is a hodge-podge of information compiled from Rome Alive, Oxford Archaeological Guide, as well as other sources recommended by Dr. Pasco-Pranger. Some of the information was completely taken from the source, while others were combined with common information from multiple sources.


The Stadium of Domitian

1. History:

  • Dedicated in 86 A.D.
  • The Stadium of Domitian, also known as the Circus Agonalis, was a mass-entertainment sports venue (mainly for Greek athletic competitions, esp. foot races) located to the north of the Campus Martius. Throughout its Imperial Roman history, the Stadium was used exclusively for the presentation of the extreme physical brutality of the “agones,” Latin for “games.”
    • Its arcades (fornices, “archways”) were notorious hangouts for prostitutes of both sexes, a reputation which has colored the story of St. Agnes, whose martyrdom in the Stadium in A.D. 304 (?), were occupied by brothels as were those of the Circus Maximus.
    • According to the legend, St. Agnes (13 year old virgin) met a martyr’s death in the brothels in the arcades of this stadium, and in her honor a church was built in the ninth century in the middle of the cavea on the west side, which was afterwards known as S. Agnese in Agone or de Cryptis Agonis, the word agon being used both for a gymnastic contest and for the place of its celebration. Rome Alive, page 233-4 for the story.
  • When the Colosseum was closed for repairs in the long period A.D. 217-228 (was struck by lightning, resulting in fire), the gladiatorial games were staged here.
  • The stadium was restored by Alexander Severus and was sometimes called in the Middle Ages Circus Alexandri.
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      Me near some “arches” of the Colosseum.

      He placed a tax on pimps and prostitutes – the income from this went towards the cost of restoring the theater, the Circus, the Amphitheater, and the Stadium (“all structures rich in ‘archways’”) rather than into the treasury.

  • After the administrative fall of Rome in 476 AD, and the abandonment of the city in 577 AD, the Stadium fell into initial disuse, only to be recycled during the Dark Ages as living quarters for the poor and the deliverance of outdoor sermons.
  • By the dawn of the Renaissance era, the substantial portions of the structure that had survived were subsequently mined for their building materials and incorporated into burgeoning structures elsewhere.

2. Relation to surrounding structures:

  • The Stadium of Domitian comprised the northernmost sentinel of what this author refers to as the “Martian Triad,” a series of impressive public buildings designed to satisfy the various tastes of the fickle Roman public. From north to south: the Stadium itself; the intimate Odeon of Domitian, used for recitals, song and orations; and the vast Theater of Pompey, reserved for what future generations would term “legitimate theater” (and legendary as the site of the murder of Julius Caesar).

3. Today:

  • The Piazza Navona, the largest in the city, now called officially Circo Agonale, preserves almost exactly the shape and size of the stadium. The piazza itself corresponds closely with the arena, the length of which seems to have been about 250 meters, and the surrounding buildings stand on the ruins of the cavea. Under the church of S. Agnese remains of brick and concrete walls, travertine pilasters and the seats of the cavea are still to be seen, and other traces have been found beneath the existing buildings at other points.
  • The sweep of buildings that embrace the Piazza, including the noted Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone, are largely built over – and partially incorporate – the Stadium’s original seating arrangements, which were capable of holding about 30,000 spectators
  • Parts of the stadium were demolished/made visible in the late 1930s when a scheme to open a vista to the river was attempted.
  • Recently, a new museum has opened up, allowing for the viewing of the stadium underground.



Me tossing some coins into the Trevi Fountain.

Me tossing some coins into the Trevi Fountain.

I will forever be indebted to the Classics Department and Dr. Pasco-Pranger for this once in a lifetime experience. I know that I’ll return to Rome some day (I did throw three coins in the Trevi Fountain after all), but I will never go at Rome in the way that this trip provided.


Chriss Fullenkamp




Thanks, Rome!

Going to Rome was really an extraordinary experience for me. I’d never been to Europe before, and I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to go! Some of my favorite sites were of course the Colosseum and the Pantheon, and also the catacombs of St. Sebastian. Rome really is the eternal city – it was incredible to see things older than I can really comprehend.

While everything was stunning, a few of my other favorites were all of the lovely fountains Rome had, and going to Mediterranean! I’ve always loved water, I really find a certain beauty in it, and it was great to see art paired with it as well.

This fountain below, by Bernini, known as the Fountain of Four Rivers, or Fontana Dei Quattro Fiumi, is located is Piazza Navona, and was unveiled on June 12, 1651. This piazza also happens to be the site of the ancient stadium of Domitian! The obelisk in the center was dedicated the pope of that time, soon after the fountain itself was constructed. The fountain represents four of the greatest rivers in the world: the Nile in Africa, the Ganges in Asia, the Danube in Europe, and the Río de la Plata in America.


The Trevi fountain, below, with traditions of tossing coins in for good luck in love, was a huge and majestic creation! Built in 1730 for the glorification of three popes, by Nicola Salvi, it exemplifies the ocean and some of its creatures.


The Neptune fountain below, or the Fontana del Nettuno was built in 1576 by Giacomo della Porta, and the statues were added in 1878 by Antonio della Bitta who added the central piece of Neptune fighting an Octopus, and Gregorio Zappala who designed the rest.


Finally, a fun picture of me at the Mediterranean! What an experience.



Thanks, Rome! ❤

Public Restrooms

I had the opportunity to see breathtaking sights, experience amazing adventures/mishaps, and taste mouthwatering foods, but I had to draw the line when it came to public restrooms!!  This ancient “latrine” leaves a lot to be desired.

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