Rome: City and Empire
The National Museum of Australia is currently hosting an exhibition titled, Rome: City+Empire.
The exhibition reveals the vastness and grandeur of the Roman Empire with a selection of fantastic artifacts, some never before seen in Australia. It is fortuitous that the exhibition combined with the National History Teachers’ Conference, thus drawing a significant number of history nerds to the nation’s capital!
The exhibition spans the length of the empire and features artifacts that show the might of the army, the exquisite skill of the artisans and the funeral practices for the dearly departed. I was reminded of the power and might of empire, but at the same time, as I stood there, I was only too aware that the empire fell. In the words of Tacitus: “Great empires are not upheld by being timid.” And yet…..
The importance of such exhibitions can not go unstated. It is in understanding the lessons of the past that make us reflect upon the present. How did such a powerful empire fall? What went wrong? How would Tacitus have explained the ending, given that Rome can not be described as timid? What can we learn in the 21st C by asking these questions about Rome?
But there is also another question to ask: who suffered so that Rome would be great? An excellent review of this missing element of the exhibition is presented by Caillan Davenport and Meaghan McEvoy, lectures at Macquarie University.
There are some fantastic events scheduled over the course of the exhibition - something for every age group! If you are in or near Canberra between now and February 2019, I encourage you to get to the exhibition.
cover image: Colossal Statue Head of Faustina I, Temple of Artemis, Sardis, Turkey, about 140 CE (my photo)